Cave paintings more than 20,000 years old found in Deba (Gipuzkoa)

The paintings, found in Deba's Astigarraga cave, have been described by experts as the Basque Country's most important finding since the discovery of the Altxerri cave in Aia and Ekain in Deba.

Staff - 10/08/2009


A group of archaeologists working in the Astigarraga cave in Deba have uncovered the oldest cave paintings discovered in Gipuzkoa to date. Dating back between 20,000 and 22,000 years, the markings represent a group of 16 "paired fragments" in red.


Doctor of History and expert in cave paintings, Marcos García Díez, speaking during a conference with press, stressed that this was one of the most important discoveries made in the Basque Country since the discovery of the Altxerri cave in Aia and Ekain in Deba, and highlighted the archeological "potential" of the site.


The Astigarraga cave, which was first discovered in 1967, contains other paintings such as one of a mass of black paint covered with concretions of lime, possibly intended to represent an equine animal; or another, of several engraved lines going in various directions which seemingly stand for an anthropomorph (or human-like creature).


García Díez insisted that, although the images, discovered in August, do not have "much visual impact", their importance lies in the fact that the "paired fragments" - "very rare in cave art" - are binding proof that they were painted in the Upper Paleolithic age and, more specifically, during the Solutrean era, of which they are typical.


In his judgement, these "paired fragments" can be explained by means of Ethnography, or the study of human societies, which would reveal that many primitive groups of the age still used their fingers to paint with during rituals in which they attempted to contact supernatural and transcendent forces.


The director of the dig, José Antonio Mujika, who began studying Astigarraga in 2005, also indicated that inside the cave they had found bones placed in crevices and a small throwing dart hidden among stones.



Bronze Age box unearthed in Salzburg

By David Rogers


Archaeologists claim to have made a "sensational" find after they unearthed a 3,000-year-old wooden box used in central Europe’s biggest copper-mining operation at the Mitterberg mountain in Salzburg’s Pongau region.


They said the box from the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, which was discovered using the latest high-tech research methods including laser scanning, dated to between 1,500 and 1,000 B.C.


Provincial archaeologist Raimund Kastler today (Mon) called the discovery "a truly sensational find".


Thomas Stöllner from Bochum University in Germany’s Ruhr area and the head of Historical Mining in the Tyrol and Adjacent Areas group said analysis of sediment in the box promised more answers to questions about technology during the Bronze Ages.


He added it was the second box of its type to have been found in the eastern Alps. Concentrated copper ore, he said, had been taken from the Mitterberg to many huts in the surrounding area.


The project’s cooperation partners include Salzburg Museum, Heidelberg University’s Institute for Pre- and Ancient History, Innsbruck University, Bochum University and the German Mining Museum in Bochum.


Project financing has been provided by the Austrian Fund for Support of Scientific Research in Austria, the province of Salzburg and the Mommertz Foundation in Bochum.


The find comes after archaeologists in Burgenland unearthed three Roman military camp sites – finds they said would make it necessary to rewrite the history of the Romans in Austria.


Stefan Groh, the leader of the Austrian Archeological Institute (ÖAI) team that discovered the sites, said that the three camp sites near Strebersdorf in Burgenland's Lutzmannsburg municipality were along the old amber road, the main Roman trading road in the region.


Groh said the objects found at the sites, which cover an area of two hectares, would lead to new understanding of the function of the Roman army.


He added: "Our work in this area last year and this year means that the history of the Roman presence in this region and in Austria will have to be rewritten."



Russian dolmen rescued and mysterious disk uncovered

11 October 2009


The rescue operation of the Kolikho dolmen (located in the Tuapse region on the Black Sea coast, Russia) has been completed successfully. The dolmen was found by accident after the seasonal flood in 2008. It was buried beneath 3 m-thick river deposits and left untouched since the Bronze Age. This is the first case in Caucasian archaeology.


The burial chamber was full of partly disarticulated human remains. All of them were put in the chamber through the hole in the façade slab. Radiocarbon dates of human remains (72 persons) covers the period between 1800 and 1300 BCE with no signs of chronological gaps. In other word, the dolmen was in use for about 500 years.


The grave goods complex is small and consists of pottery, bronze javelin head, bronze spiral earring, bone belt buckle, few stone flakes and a sandstone disk with carvings on both sides. On one side of the disk are somewhat 'astral' symbols, while on the other side are possibly marks of calibration near the rim of the disk. The sandstone disk looks like a sort of device or the Caucasian version of the Nebra disk.


Doomed to be totally destroyed due to seasonal flood the dolmen was finally disassembled, packed up and transported to State Historical Museum in Moscow to be restored and presented to public in 2010. Some details of the event can be watched on YouTube.


Sources: Metro News (16 September 2009), Stone Pages (22 September 2009)



Archaeologists Discover 4-Century BC Royal Burial Vault near Prilep, Macedonia



22 September 2009 | A royal burial vault was discovered by archaeologists in the area of Pavla chuka, between the villages of Bonche and Podmol near the town of Prilep in southern Macedonia.

The circular vault dates to the fourth century BC, the Vecher newspaper reported today. It has a diameter of 30 metres and is made of monolithic stones, each of them weighting two tons, which are undamaged although they are nearly 2,500 years old.


The vault has an opening dug into a wall, and antique tombs were discovered inside of it.


The find was made by a team of archaeologists, led by Viktor Lilcik, which has been working on the project for the past three years.


According to Lilcik, cited by the publication, the newly discovered burial vault belonged to an important ruler, most likely one from the Pelagonian Dynasty. The archaeologist said he expects to find an inscription that will help determining the exact ruler to which the vault belonged.


The site is of exceptional importance to Macedonian archaeology, since such monumental sites are rare on the Balkans, Pasko Kuzman, head of the Macedonian Department for Cultural Heritage, told the publication. It will attract enormous attention in the scientific archaeological circles, he added.


The archeological complex will be put on the tourist map of Prilep and Macedonia in order to attract domestic and foreign tourists, the publication concluded.



Ship survey reveals Romans liked French wine

By Patrick Dewhurst


THE Department of Antiquities has just released the findings of its survey of a Roman shipwreck near Cape Greco on the Island's southeast coast.


The shipwreck dates from the 2nd century AD and contains over 130 ceramic jars, likely to have been carrying wine or oil.


"Its location in shallow waters, suggest that either the vessel was nearing an intended port-of-call, or else was engaged in a coasting trade, moving products to market over short distances up and down the coast," said a press release from the Department of Antiquities.


The findings also suggest 2nd Century Romans had a taste for French wine. "While most jars came from South Eastern Asia Minor and the general North East Mediterranean region, one group of amphorae appears to have contained wine imported from the Mediterranean coast of France."


Cape Greco has a rich and colourful maritime history. According to Diodoros, it was somewhere near there, where in 306BC the Macedonian Demetrios the Besieger defeated Ptolemy of Egypt, in one of the largest naval engagements of antiquity. Although Ptolemy eventually victoriously returned to control Cyprus for the rest of the Hellenistic period, nearly 100 warships were reportedly sunk in the conflict.


Unfortunately, no wood, boat fittings or anchors are visible from the surface scatter.


The non-intrusive survey was sponsored by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, and completed in Mid-August.



Sunken galleon found off coast of Menorca

By: ThinkSpain , Tuesday, October 6, 2009


The remains of a sunken 17th or 18th century galleon have been found by a fisherman in Fornells, on the north coast of the island of Menorca.


According to information provided by the Argo Maris foundation investigating the find, an initial inspection of the site by remote controlled vehicles has revealed a sunken shipwreck approximately 60 metres down and covering a radius of about 40 metres.


Several huge anchors, iron cannons and wooden parts of the ship's structure have been identified, suggesting either a frigate or a war galleon from the 17th or 18th centuries.


The initial archaeological survey was carried out by a team of archaeologists from the Ecomuseo Cap de Cavalleria with the support of the Argo Maris foundation, and their report has now been presented to the Culture & Heritage Department of the Council of Menorca.


The report was supported by some 2000 underwater photos of the wreck, which show, amongst other items, 17 iron cannons, all of which measure some two metres in length, as well as four large anchors, two at the bow of the boat and two more at the stern.


Experts from the Heritage department and investigators from the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Cartagena have said that the galleon could be of huge historical interest, having not been documented until now.


So far, any attempts to raise the sunken ship have been ruled out and the ongoing invesigations are being done by precision underwater robotic equipment.



Archaeological discoveries: First-of-their-Kind Tombs Unearthed in Palmyra            

Edited by Sarah Khan  

Friday, 09 October 2009 17:44


The Syrian-Japanese excavation mission discovered a number of individual tombs with skeletons of children inside, and the hole of the grave inside the tomb, the first of its kind to be discovered in Palmyra.


The mission also unearthed an earthenware jar with a skeleton of an infant inside.


In a statement, Excavation Director at Palmyra Ruins Directorate said these discoveries date back to the Byzantine era at the time of renovating Palmyra wall in the 6th century A.D.


He indicated that the tomb under work is made of square building, each side of which is 11 meters, and has a gate leading into an exposed yard surrounded by rooms.


Japanese Head of the mission Prof. Saito said the mission work is one of the outcomes of the signed agreement between General Directorate of Ruins and Museums and the Japanese Nara Research Institute for Archeology.


Palmyra (Arabic: Tadmor‎) was in ancient times an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus[1] and 120 km southwest of the Euphrates. It has long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert ad was known as the Bride of the Desert. The earliest documented reference to the city by its Semitic name Tadmor, Tadmur or Tudmur (which means "the town that repels" in Amorite and "the indomitable town" in Aramaic.[2]) is recorded in Babylonian tablets found in Mari.[3]


Though the ancient site fell into disuse after the 16th century, it is still known as Tadmor in Arabic, and there is a newer town next to the ruins of the same name. The Palmyrenes constructed a series of large-scale monuments containing funerary art such as limestone slabs with human busts representing the deceased.


In the mid-first century, Palmyra, a wealthy and elegant city located along the caravan routes linking Persia with the Mediterranean ports of Roman Syria and Phoenicia, came under Roman control. During the following period of great prosperity, the Aramaean and Arab inhabitants of Palmyra adopted customs and modes of dress from both the Parthian world to the east and the Graeco-Roman west.


Tadmor is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Second Book of Chronicles 8:4) as a desert city built (or fortified) by the King Solomon of Judea, the son of David.


In the First Book of Kings (9:18) is mentioned the city of תמר Tamor or Tamar, also built by Solomon. But it is traditionally read (see Qere) as Tadmor, and several citations in the tractates of the Talmud and of the Midrash refer to that city in the Syrian desert (sometimes interchanging the letters "d" and "t" - "Tatmor" instead of "Tadmor"). Some modern scholars wrote that it could refer to a place near the Dead Sea.[citation needed]


Tadmor is also mentioned as built by Solomon in Flavius Josephus Antiquities of the Jews - Book VIII, along with the Greek name of Palmyra.


Tadmor is the name of Palmyra in modern Hebrew. The exact etymology of the name "Palmyra" in this case is unknown, although some scholars believe it was related to the palm trees in the area. Others, however, believe it may have come out of an incorrect translation of the name "Tadmor" (cf. Colledge, Seyrig, Starcky, and others).


The city was first mentioned in the archives of Mari in the 2nd millennium BC. It was another trading city in the extensive trade network that linked Mesopotamia and northern Syria. Palmyra is also mentioned in 2 Chronicles (8:4)



Goddess of divine retribution awaits daylight

Monday, October 12, 2009

İZMİR - Anatolia News Agency


Archaeologists have found traces of a temple built for the Greek goddess of divine retribution, Nemesis, during excavations in the ancient city of Agora in the Aegean port city of İzmir.


Akın Ersoy of Dokuz Eylül University’s archaeology department and heading the archaeological excavations in the ancient city, told the Anatolia news agency on Monday that they speculated there might be a temple built for Nemesis in the area.


“We found traces of such a temple during our excavations in Agora,” he said. “We want to concentrate our work to unearth the temple in the future.”


This year's archeological excavations have unearthed many important findings that belonged to the Ottoman era, said Ersoy, including many pieces of Ottoman ceramics. “There are several layers to be worked,” said Ersoy. “We will work on the Ottoman era first, followed by the Eastern Roman, Roman and then the earlier ages.”


Ersoy said it was during the excavation work when they found clues of a temple to Nemesis built in the ancient city. “We think the temple is situated on the western side,” he added. “It might be under the Hürriyet Anatolian High School building. We hope to unearth it in coming years.”


In Greek mythology, Nemesis was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris, vengeful fate, personified as a remorseless goddess.


The ancient city of Agora was constructed during the rule of Alexander the Great. Today it is mostly in ruins. What little is left remains because of Faustina, wife of Marcus Aurelius, who had the Agora rebuilt after an earthquake devastated the original in A.D. 178. The Agora was first excavated by German and Turkish archaeologists between 1932 and 1941. Surrounded on the west and north by colonnades, the Agora once had a large altar dedicated to Zeus in the center. The altar is now gone, but statues of Poseidon and of Demeter believed to have come from the altar are on display in the Archaeological Museum in İzmir. Also visible at the site are various capitals, remnants of three of the four main gates, some recognizable stalls, architectural fragments bearing medieval coats of arms and a stone slab that may have been used as a gaming board.



Gloucester body 'is Goth warrior'


A late Roman period body unearthed in Gloucester has stunned experts after tests suggested it was a Goth warrior from eastern Europe.


The man, aged 25 to 30, who was dug up north of Kingsholm Square in 1972, had always baffled archaeologists.


His elaborate silver belt fittings, shoe buckles and inlaid knife were believed to be from an area between the Balkans and Southern Russia.


Chemical tests now prove he was from east of the River Danube.


This has led historians to suggest he was a Goth mercenary in the Roman Army.


The large bones date to about 400AD, just 10 years before Rome itself fell to Visigoth invaders, and tests showed he was mostly vegetarian.


They were discovered in a mausoleum, suggesting he was a man of high social status.


David Rice, archaeology curator at Gloucester City Museum, said: "Archaeologists have always wondered who he was and what he was doing in Gloucester.


"We've discovered he came from way outside of the Roman Empire, from the other side of the Danube."


It was possible to detect he lived in very cold regions as a child, before moving west, he said.


Mr Rice added: "To have such an unusual person in this city means that Gloucester was a more important place in Roman times than we've previously thought.


"Perhaps there were pirates coming up the River Severn?"



Archaeologists Discover ‘Count Dracula's’ Cellar

Published Oct 2, 2009 by Christopher Szabo


Archaeologists have found a cellar in the university town of Pécs in southern Hungary, which they believe to have belonged to Wallachian Duke Vlad III, more commonly known as ”Dracula.”

Tamás Fedeles, tutor of medieval and early modern history at Pécs University said his research showed that Vlad III Tepes alias ”Dracula,” lived in a two-story town house on what is now the city’s central square.


Fedeles says the Duke of Wallachia (modern-day southern Rumania) owned the house in the 1460s and this is confirmed by a 1489 document that refers to it as ”Drakulya House.” The document contains a detailed description of the house and from this, Fedeles says the cellar most likely belonged to ”Drakulya”.


Olivér Gábor, a local archaeologist, agrees. He says this cellar was one of the most impressive medieval cellars found to date. In his opinion, further excavations could turn up interesting finds.

However, authorities plan to fill in the site of the newly discovered cellar. This is partly due to the views of the official archaeologist of the Cultural Heritage Protection Service, who expressed the view that the excavations did not unearth any items that might point to an individual owner.


Zoltán Kárpáti also disagreed with the position of the house referred to in the medieval document. He did concede, however, that the cellar could have been that of the ”Dracula House” of the document.

Based on Kárpáti’s statement, city official Péter Merza said Pécs was not obliged to open the find to the public. He added that the space would have to be filled in such a way that it could be reopened at a later date.


Meanwhile, the English-language website Pestiside noted cynically that the discovery was very close to the city’s upcoming tenure as the European Capital of Culture next year, saying it was ”suspicious.”

The character of Count Dracula, who actually lived from c. 1431 to 1476 was made famous by the 19th Century Anglo-Irish novelist Bram Stoker, and was not closely based on the life of Voivode (Duke) Vlad III. Unlike the story character, Vlad’s castle was in northern Wallachia, at Târgovişte, not in Transylvania, as in the book. Nor did he have anything to do with vampire cults.


He was, however, reportedly very cruel and stories about his cruelty were circulated even during his lifetime, with pamphlets circulated about him as far away as Germany and Russia. His nickname, ”Tepes” is Romanian for ”Impaler,” while his father, Vlad Dracul’s name refers to the Society of the Dragon, an order of knights founded by the Hungarian King Zsigmond (Sigismund).