114 Terracotta Warriors discovered at museum pit

By Ma Lie (China Daily)

Updated: 2010-05-12 06:52


XI'AN - A company of Terracotta Warriors - most painted in rich colors - have been unearthed at the largest pit within the mausoleum complex of the emperor who first unified China.


A total of 114 Terracotta Warriors have been found at No 1 pit, one of three, where excavation started in June last year, said Xu Weihong, head of the excavation team.


"The total area of the excavation was some 200 sq m and we were pleasantly surprised to find rich colors on Terracotta Warriors," he said.


Photos of the new find are expected to be released later this month.


The clay warriors, ranging in height from 1.8 m to 2 m, had black hair; green, white or pink faces; and black or brown eyes, the archaeologist said.


"It was hard work to restore the clay warriors as they were broken into pieces. It took us at least 10 days to restore one," Xu said.


The latest excavation also showed that the pit had seven layers, said Liu Zhanchang, director of the archaeology division of the Museum of Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses.


Also, traces of burns on the clay warriors and the walls prove that the pit had been set on fire, Liu said, adding more studies were needed for details.


A number of other relics including weapons, chariots, drums and painted wooden rings were also found during the excavation.


Qin Shihuang (259-210 BC), also called the First Emperor of China, was the founder of China's first unified feudal empire, the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).


The pit - located in Lintong district of Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province - was discovered accidentally by farmers in March 1974.


On Oct 1, 1979, the Museum of Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses was opened to the public. It attracts millions of visitors from home and abroad every year.


The pits contain funerary objects for the mausoleum of Qin Shihuang, which is located some 1.5 km west of the pits. The clay warriors and horses are believed to represent the emperor's army.


The discovery of the Terracotta Warriors is considered of the most spectacular finds in the annals of archaeology and described as one of the wonders of the world.



'Ghostly' pictures of Great Wall of China taken from underwater

The Great Wall of China has been photographed from underwater by a photographer, Mathieu Meur, who carried hundreds of kilograms of equipment to take the ghostly images.

By Andrew Hough

Published: 7:00AM BST 13 May 2010


The section of wall lies under the surface of Panjiakou reservoir about three hours drive northeast of Beijing.

A team of professional divers braved the murky conditions to get some ghostly shots of the wall which ran from 13 metres below the surface to the bottom at 35 metres.


Though urban legend has it being the only man-made object visible from space this one part is lying up to 100 feet below a valley flooded when a dam was built.

Mr Meur, the expedition photographer, said just getting the 500kg of equipment down hundreds of steps to the water's edge was a challenge in itself.

"The lake itself is rather barren, with only a couple of species of freshwater fish and shrimps," he said.

"The real stars here really are the ruins. The wall is in amazingly good condition considering that it is several hundred years old, and is underwater.

"The top of it was at around 13m depth, and we located a guard tower, with openings on all sides, which created underwater tunnels."

He added: "Throughout the dives, the weight of history was very present on our minds. It was incredible to navigate the wall and guard posts, thinking that centuries ago soldiers were walking the same location, keeping China safe from intruders."

"We did two dives on the Wall and wanted to do more but were plagued by technical problems.

"The diving was challenging as it was 25 centigrade on the surface but dropped to just six degrees when you got 35 metres down on the bottom.

"Visibility was limited to about 1-5 metres maximum, as the bottom is very silty. If you stir the bottom, you end up diving in soup."

The parts of the wall that are best known date from the mid 16th century, although the first great wall was ordered to be built in 214 BC.

The most comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has recently concluded that the entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, stretches for 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 miles).

This is made up of 6,259.6 km (3,889.5 miles) of sections of actual wall, 359.7 km (223.5 miles) of trenches and 2,232.5 km (1,387.2 miles) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.

Panjiakou reservoir was created in 1977 during the grip of the cultural revolution when the valley near Tangshan was flooded, submerging a village and wall to create a dam.



Easter Island discovery sends archaeologists back to drawing board

Contact: Mike Addelman



University of Manchester

Public release date: 12-May-2010


Archaeologists have disproved the 50-year-old theory underpinning our understanding of how the famous stone statues were moved around Easter Island


Archaeologists have disproved the fifty-year-old theory underpinning our understanding of how the famous stone statues were moved around Easter Island.


Fieldwork led by researchers at University College London and The University of Manchester, has shown the remote Pacific island's ancient road system was primarily ceremonial and not solely built for transportation of the figures.


A complex network of roads up to 800-years-old crisscross the Island between the hat and statue quarries and the coastal areas.


Laying alongside the roads are dozens of the statues- or moai.


The find will create controversy among the many archaeologists who have dedicated years to finding out exactly how the moai were moved, ever since Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl first published his theory in 1958.


Heyerdahl and subsequent researchers believed that statues he found lying on their backs and faces near the roads were abandoned during transportation by the ancient Polynesians.


But his theory has been completely rejected by the team led by Manchester's Dr Colin Richards and UCL's Dr Sue Hamilton.


Instead, their discovery of stone platforms associated with each fallen moai - using specialist 'geophysical survey' equipment – finally confirms a little known 1914 theory of British archaeologist Katherine Routledge that the routes were primarily ceremonial avenues.


The statues, say the Manchester and UCL team just back from the island, merely toppled from the platforms with the passage of time.


"The truth of the matter is, we will never know how the statues were moved," said Dr Richards.


"Ever since Heyerdahl, archeologists have come up with all manner of theories – based on an underlying assumption that the roads were used for transportation of the moai, from the quarry at the volcanic cone Rano Raraku.


"What we do now know is that the roads had a ceremonial function to underline their religious and cultural importance.


"They lead – from different parts of the island – to the Rano Raraku volcano where the Moai were quarried.


"Volcano cones were considered as points of entry to the underworld and mythical origin land Hawaiki.


"Hence, Rano Ranaku was not just a quarry but a sacred centre of the island."


The previous excavation found that the roads are concave in shape –making it difficult to move heavy objects along them


And as the roads approach Rano Raraku, the statues become more frequent – which the team say, indicated an increasing grades of holiness.


"All the evidence strongly shows that these roads were ceremonial - which backs the work of Katherine Routledge from almost 100 years ago, " said Dr Sue Hamilton.


"It all makes sense: the moai face the people walking towards the volcano.


"The statues are more frequent the closer they are to the volcano – which has to be way of signifying the increasing levels of importance."


She added: "What is shocking is that Heyerdahl actually found some evidence to suggest there were indeed platforms.


"But like many other archaeologists, he was so swayed by his cast iron belief that the roads were for transportation – he completely ignored them."




Routledge and her husband arrived at Easter Island in 1914, to publish her findings in a popular travel book, The Mystery of Easter Island in 1919.


Geophysical surveys are used to create subsurface maps by passing electrical currents below the ground and measuring its resistance.


High quality images are available.


Drs Hamilton and Richards are available for comment


For media enquires contact:

Mike Addelman

Media Relations Officer

Faculty of Humanities

The University of Manchester

0161 275 0790

07717 881 567




Space technology revolutionizes archaeology, understanding of Maya

Public release date: 11-May-2010

Contact: Chad Binette



University of Central Florida


A flyover of Belize's thick jungles has revolutionized archaeology worldwide and vividly illustrated the complex urban centers developed by one of the most-studied ancient civilizations -- the Maya.


University of Central Florida researchers led a NASA-funded research project in April 2009 that collected the equivalent of 25 years worth of data in four days.


Aboard a Cessna 337, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) equipment bounced laser beams to sensors on the ground, penetrating the thick tree canopy and producing images of the ancient settlement and environmental modifications made by the inhabitants of the Maya city of Caracol within 200 square kilometers (77 square miles).


UCF anthropology professors Arlen and Diane Chase have directed archaeological excavations at Caracol for more than 25 years. The hard work of machete-wielding research scientists and students has resulted in the mapping of some 23 square kilometers (9 square miles) of ancient settlement.


The NASA technology aboard the Cessna saw beyond the rainforest and detected thousands of new structures, 11 new causeways, tens of thousands of agricultural terraces and many hidden caves – results beyond anyone's imagination. The data also confirm the size of the city (spread over 177 square kilometers or 68 square miles) and corroborate the Chases' previous estimates for the size of the population (at least 115,000 people in A.D. 650).


Until now, Maya archeologists have been limited in exploring large sites and understanding the full nature of ancient Maya landscape modifications because most of those features are hidden within heavily forested and hilly terrain and are difficult to record. LiDAR effectively removes these obstacles.


"It's very exciting," said Arlen Chase. "The images not only reveal topography and built features, but also demonstrate the integration of residential groups, monumental architecture, roadways and agricultural terraces, vividly illustrating a complete communication, transportation and subsistence system."


UCF Biology Professor John Weishampel designed the unique LiDAR approach. He has been using lasers to study forests and other vegetation for years, but this was the first time this specific technology fully recorded an archeological ruin under a tropical rainforest.


"Further applications of airborne LiDAR undoubtedly will vastly improve our understanding of ancient Maya settlement patterns and landscape use, as well as effectively render obsolete traditional methods of surveying," Chase said.


The images taken at the end of the dry season in Belize last April took about 24 hours of flight time to capture and then three weeks to analyze by remote sensing experts from the University of Florida. Now Caracol's entire landscape can be viewed in 3-D, and that already offers new clues that promise to expand current understanding of how the Maya were able to build such a huge empire and what may have caused its destruction.


"The ancient Maya designed and maintained sustainable cities long before 'building green' became a modern term," said Diane Chase, who has worked as co-director of the Caracol Archaeological Project beside her husband for the past 25 years. Her conclusion is based on the extensive agricultural terracing LiDAR revealed.


In addition to the UCF researchers, partners include Jason Drake with the U.S. Forest Service in Tallahassee and an adjunct professor at UCF; Ramesh Shrestha, K. Slatton and William Carter of the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping; and Jaime Awe, director of the Institute of Archaeology in Belize.


Much more powerful information is anticipated from the data collected. UCF's Weishampel said rainforests play an important role in understanding and managing global warming today. The team's results also give him a snapshot of forest vegetation in that part of the world and how it was influenced by land-use practices 1,000 years ago. This may help scientists understand past human-environment interactions and changes that should be made today.


UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 3rd largest in the nation with more than 53,500 students. UCF's first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region's economic development. UCF's culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information, visit http://news.ucf.edu



Regards from the Past: Ancient Water Bridge Found in Jerusalem

by Hillel Fendel


Part of the ancient aqueduct that brought water to the Temple Mount has been exposed near the Sultan’s Pool across from Mt. Zion. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) says it found a “spectacular arched bridge” that marked part of Jerusalem’s ancient water system while conducting archaeological rescue excavations prior to work on the city’s modern water system.


Two of the bridge’s original nine arches have now been excavated to their full height of about three meters.


In actuality, the newly-discovered bridge was built in 1320 C.E. by the sultan Nasser al-Din Muhammed Ibn Qalawun, as evidenced by its dedicatory inscription. However, it was apparently constructed to replace an earlier bridge dating to the time of the Second Temple period that was part of the original aqueduct.


Yechiel Zelinger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said, “The bridge, which could still be seen at the end of the 19th century and appears in old photographs, was covered over during the 20th century. We were thrilled when it suddenly reappeared in all its grandeur during the course of the archaeological excavations.”


“The route of the Low Level aqueduct from the time of the Second Temple, beginning at Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem and ending at the Temple Mount, is well known to scholars,” Zelinger said. “Substantial parts of it have been documented along the edge of Yemin Moshe neighborhood and on the slope adjacent to the Old City’s western wall. In order to maintain the elevation of the path along which the water flowed, a bridge was erected above the ravine.”


The Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, is working to expose the entire length of the arched bridge. It plans to conserve and integrate it in the framework of the overall development of the Sultan’s Pool, as part of underscoring the importance of the water supply to Jerusalem in ancient times. 


The Gihon Corporation, whose name preserves that of Jerusalem’s ancient source of water and which is conducting work on the modern water system in the area, is assisting in funding excavations that uncover Jerusalem’s ancient water systems. (IsraelNationalNews.com)



Underwater 'safe' protects £5m shipwreck treasures

A shipwreck containing £5million worth of ancient treasures is being protected by a cage, creating a giant underwater safe, in Croatia.

Published: 10:50AM BST 27 Apr 2010


The second century Greek trading vessel lies on the sea bed off the coast of Cavtat.

Little remains of the wooden ship but its cargo of earthenware amphora - ceramic vases - still remain stacked row upon row.


The vases, which originally contained olive oil and wine, are still tightly packed into the cargo hold as they were centuries ago.

Its cargo - one of the best preserved from an ancient wreck - has great historical significance and has an estimated value of £5m on the black market.

Croatian authorities are so concerned about looters plundering the valuable artefacts they have now protected the site - with a metal cage.

The heavy-duty cage features a large hinged door, which is kept locked with occasional access granted for divers under strict supervision.

Underwater photographer Neil Hope, of Torpoint in Cornwall, was among those given permission to dive the wreck.

He said: ''I'm an experienced diver and I've dived wrecks all over the world, but this was the most unique experience.

''I was taken down there by the man who discovered it. As soon as we were finished they closed the door and locked it up again.

''Obviously when you are inside you can't touch any of the cargo as it is very valuable, so they don't just let anyone inside the cage.

''You need excellent buoyancy skills so you're not damaging these valuable things.''

He was working on an assignment for the British Sub-Aqua Club's (BS-AC) DIVE magazine.




Prehistoric cairn field discovered in North Yorkshire

17 May 2010


Discovered on the afternoon of May 13, 2010, by Robert Hopkins, Dave Hazell and Paul Bennett, was a previously unrecognised cluster of prehistoric cairns near the middle of Askwith Moor, north of Otley, in Yorkshire (England). The heather had been burnt back extensively, allowing a good foray upon the moorland heaths. 

     At least eight tombs were located on the slopes south of the Askwith Moor triangulation pillar.  Most of the cairns were typical of those scattering the moors above Ilkley, Bingley and elsewhere in the mid-Pennines, measuring an average of just 3 yards in diameter; but two of them had been given extra attention and stood out as they had much whiter upright stones positioned at their northwestern edges. These uprights were only small (less than 3 feet high) but were placed in the same deliberate position, for some reason or other. The two larger tombs (Cairns A and B) measured 9 and 11 yards respectively in diameter and are surrounded by larger rocks and walling. 

     Not far from the cairnfield were various stretches of prehistoric walling, hut circles and other inderminate architectural remains. The region is also known for having some examples of cup-and-ring stones. Further information and images relating to these new finds can be found at The Northern Antiquarian website.


Source: Paul Bennett / The Northern Antiquarian (16 May 2010)




By Thom Kennedy

Last updated at 12:38, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Roman finds uncovered by the floods of last November have excited archaeologists – and are set for a major investigation.


The remains of a Roman fort at Papcastle have been open for several years, but nobody has ever known the shape of local roads, the size of the civilian settlement attached to it, where the river Derwent ran and where it was crossed, or where the site’s cemetery was located.


However, the floods which devastated Cockermouth last year also washed up several fragments of pottery, carved stone and possible architectural remains on the opposite side of the Derwent from Papcastle, giving new hope that some of the area’s ancient mysteries could soon be uncovered.


Now, archaeologists from Grampus Heritage and Training are to launch a survey of the land around where the finds appeared, and hope to find the remains of buildings, roads, and signs of occupation.


Using magnetometers – instruments that can detect buried walls – exploration will centre on fields alongside the River Derwent.


Project leader Mark Graham said the finds were exciting and could illustrate the size and shape of the domestic area around the fort.


He said: “A considerable amount of pottery has been found post floods. We’ve always suspected the Romans had some sort of river crossing at Papcastle. Hopefully, our searches might provide some answers.


“The field we are starting in is on the opposite side of the field from Papcastle – that may be evidence of a river crossing, or it may be that the course of river has moved and the site where we are looking was on the same side. We don’t really know the road layout around there, we don’t know where the cemetery was.”


Channel Four’s Time Team had looked at an area around Papcastle, but never as far from the fort remains as the new finds.


And there has never been a systematic geophysical investigation, but the new project will see magnetometers – instruments that can detect buried walls – used to survey a large area near where the finds were made.


Mr Graham added: “We will see if we can see into the soil. The logical next step would then be targeted excavation, with landowner permission, of particular features. We can’t guarantee the survey will produce anything, but by the end of June we should have an idea of how successful it has been.”


Volunteers are being sought to help with the investigation, details from which will form part of the county’s archaeological record.


Fieldwork takes place from May 24 to 28.


For details contact Grampus Heritage and Training on 016973 21516, or e-mail enquiries@grampusheritage.co.uk


First published at 11:30, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk