Cyprus dig reveals ancient palace


The Ministry of Communications and Works (Department of Antiquities) announces the completion of the twentieth excavation season of the Department of Antiquities’ systematic excavations at the site of ancient Idalion. Excavations at the site began in 1991 and continue until today under the direction of the Director of the Department of Antiquities Dr. Maria Hadjicosti who is assisted by Senior Technicians S. Lagos and K. Kapitanis. Five young archaeologists from Greek Universities and the University of Cyprus also took part in the excavation this year.


Throughout the twenty-year investigations a total area of two thousand square meters has been investigated on the foothills of Ampileri hill, which was the west acropolis of ancient Idalion.


In this area, a large-scale fortified building complex has been excavated, which could be interpreted as the Palace of ancient Idalion or its Administrative Center. This building complex contains a triple olive-press (unique in its kind throughout the eastern Mediterranean), roads that lead to the complexes’ courtyards from the external gate, towers and impressive storage buildings, houses and military installations.


The Idalion fort is considered to be the largest palace or administrative center identified so far in Cyprus. It is strictly defensive in character with interior towers that control the interior streets and the large rectangular courtyards. Wings with two-storey rooms surrounded the courtyards. The ground floor rooms had storage areas were large storage vessels (pithoi) were kept for the storage of wine and olive oil, the area’s main products. Inscriptions that record tax collecting in kind from the ancient city’s inhabitants have been found in many of these storage rooms.


The abovementioned inscriptions (more than three hundred have so far been found) are part of the Phoenician Archive and indicate the methods used for the collection of taxes by the Phoenicians, who governed the ancient city of Idalion for 150 years, from the middle of the 5th century until the end of the 4th century B.C. The inscriptions are written in ink on marble slabs and pottery sherds.


During this year’s excavations, the investigations extended higher up the hill, where two new building complexes were discovered. These complexes are attached to the eastern and western side of a large interior tower. The complex situated to the east of the tower constitutes the south wing of the storage rooms’ large courtyard. The rooms’ walls survive to a maximum height of three meters. Inside the rooms, pithoi were found as well as other large vessels, inscriptions and pieces of a bronze shield along with other metal weapons that had fallen from the second floor when it collapsed. The second building complex was found to the west of the large tower and it is also comprised of six rooms which are linked up to each other and that also communicate with the two large roads to the north and the west. The complex may have been used by the soldiers who guarded the tower.


With the completion of this year’s investigations, the archaeological site has extended to such an extent that it is now ready to be open to the public. The necessary plans are being prepared in cooperation with the Municipality of Idalion. The archaeological site will thus be joined with the Local Museum of ancient Idalion, which opened to the public in 2008. The footpath that links the museum to the site as well as the parking space near the museum have both been completed. All the above works were realized in close cooperation with the Municipality of Idalion, which has performed exemplary work as far as the promotion of the area’s cultural heritage is concerned.



Mexican experts to tunnel for Aztec rulers' tombs


Jun 16, 7:40 PM EDT

Associated Press Writer


MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Archaeologists found some of the richest and most unusual Aztec offerings ever in excavations under a mammoth slab depicting an earth goddess and said Wednesday they hope to uncover an emperor's tomb nearby.


The seven offerings of strange and unparalleled oddities found under the stone slab depicting the goddess Tlaltecuhtli include the skeleton of a dog or wolf dressed in turquoise ear plugs, jadeite necklaces and golden bells on its feet.


The 4-meter (13-foot) long carving of Tlaltecuhtli (tlahl-tay-KOO-tlee) was found in 2006 near the edge of the Templo Mayor pyramid in downtown Mexico City. It was lifted out in 2007 and archaeologists began digging underneath.


On Wednesday, the huge stone monument was put on display for reporters before its first public exhibition. The sculpture itself challenges the public perception of Aztec monuments as bare stone-colored carvings, because it preserves a half-dozen original colors in which it was originally painted, including rich ochre, red, yellow and blue hues.


Archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan said the presence of shells from distant seas, gold earrings and collars as well as strange wooden daggers found under the slab suggest that a very important person is buried nearby.


"These are offerings that we have never seen before, and obviously they give us very good indications that at some point we can find a royal tomb," Lopez Lujan said.


The offerings - dedicated to gods, not rulers - are from such far-flung corners of the continent that "they are telling us we are dealing with a big, big empire," he said.


Historical records from the time of Spain's 1521 conquest and markings on the Tlaltecuhtli slab suggest the Aztec emperor Ahuizotl, who died in 1502, was cremated and his ashes buried somewhere at the foot of the Templo Mayor pyramid.


Researchers originally thought the tomb might lie directly below the slab. But with only about 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) left to dig downward in 12.5-meter (41-foot) deep pits excavated since 2007, Lujan said researchers plan to dig a lateral tunnel 5 meters (16.4 feet) to the west, to see if they can find the cremated remains of Ahuizotl or his predecessors.


They would like to go farther with lateral excavations, but the water-soaked, unstable soil - and the possibility of damaging valuable, colonial-era buildings that still stand around the site - make that impossible. Radar and other images suggest soil disturbances near the current pit, but Lopez Lujan said those could be naturally caused.


Archaeologists have been looking for the tombs of the Aztec emperors for decades. Unlike the sepulcher of Mayan leaders, no Aztec royal burial site has ever been found.


Depicted as a woman with huge claws and a stream of blood flowing into her mouth as she squats to give birth, Tlaltecuhtli was believed to devour the dead and then give them new life. The god was so fearsome that Aztecs normally buried her depictions face down in the earth. However, this one was face-up.


In the claw of her right foot, the god holds a rabbit and 10 dots, indicating the date "10 Rabbit" - 1502, the year of Ahuizotl's death.


"What better monument for a funerary area ... than a goddess who devours the dead," Lopez Lujan said.


While the exhibition is dedicated to Moctezuma II - the last Aztec emperor, who took over from Ahuizotl and was defeated by the Spanish - the excavation is unlikely to shed any light on where his ashes lie.


Lopez Lujan said some versions say that while Moctezuma was cremated, his ashes may have been mixed with water and drunk by his subjects.


© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.



Neolithic finds unearthed by Ormesby St Michael dig

Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 16:33 UK


Some of the earliest pottery ever found in Britain has been unearthed on farmland on the Norfolk Broads.


The Neolithic flints and pottery shards dating back more than 5,000 years were found by the Oxford East Archaeology unit next to Ormesby Broad.


They include a loom weight for weaving cloth and a rare whetstone, used for sharpening tools, something normally only found in burial grounds.


The dig preceded the creation of 12 man-made silt lagoons for the broad.


They will hold sediment from the eastern arm of Ormesby Broad and are aimed at improve water quality and encouraging wildlife in a £120,000 project funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).


'Rarely seen'

The excavation also uncovered an extensive Middle Bronze Age field system dating back to about 1,500 BC.


These systems were not thought to have existed further east than the Cambridgeshire Fens, indicating that such organised systems of farming were in use in the Broads earlier than previously thought.


Richard Mortimer, senior project manager at Oxford Archaeology East, said: "We have not only shown that contrary to virtually all published sources and expectations Norfolk certainly does have Middle Bronze Age field systems, but they have a complexity that has rarely been seen elsewhere in the county.


"It seems man, who dug out the Broads, was living and farming here earlier than we thought. It adds a new chapter to the Middle Bronze Age story for Norfolk".



Roman dwelling find at Jersey church 'a first'

Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Friday, 18 June 2010 14:10 UK


Ancient remains have been found in Jersey, which could be the first Roman dwellings found in the island.


Excavations were made at Grouville Church as part of work to extend the building, when archaeologists were called in to monitor the work.


The Reverend Mike Lange-Smith, rector of the church, said a post hole of a Roman period building was uncovered with pottery remains.


He said the finds had been sent to England for dating.


Mr Lange-Smith said the discoveries change the understanding of the church's history as the earliest known record of the church building had been 1035 AD.


The excavations have now been covered up so work on the new vestry can continue.



Remains of first king of England's sister found in German cathedral

Bones offer insight into the royal life of Eadgyth, who was married off to a German king in 929 by her brother Athelstan

Steven Morris

The Guardian,            Thursday 17 June 2010


She ate lots of fish, rode frequently, may have suffered from a disease or an eating disorder at 10 and regularly moved around the chalky uplands of southern England, presumably as she followed her regal father around his kingdom.


Analysis of remains found in a German cathedral have not only confirm they belonged to the granddaughter of the English king Alfred the Great but also given an insight into the life and times of a Saxon princess.


Eadgyth (roughly pronounced Edith) was packed off by her brother as a diplomatic gift to Otto, the king of Saxony, more than 1,000 years ago. She died aged 36 and her remains were thought to have been lost forever until body parts were found wrapped in silk in a lead coffin two years ago.


Earlier this year the skeletal fragments were brought back to Britain, and experts at Bristol University will today spell out why they are sure the remains are those of Eadgyth and what they know of her life.


Mark Horton, an archaeology professor at Bristol, said it was "incredibly exciting" to confirm that the bones were the princess's and to find out more about her life.


"This period was when England was really formed," he said. "We don't know much about these dark age queens and princesses. This has created a connection with one of them."


Eadgyth was born in Wessex in 910 into one of the most powerful families in England. She was daughter of Edward the Elder, and half-sister to Athelstan, the first king of all England.


In 929 Athelstan sent her and her sister, Adiva, off to Otto and invited him to take his pick, sealing an alliance between two of the rising stars of the Saxon world. Eadgyth was chosen and the couple had at least two children before she died in 946.


Chroniclers of the time paid tribute to her beauty and recorded how devoted Otto was to her. She was also praised for her good works.


Eadgyth was buried in a monastery, but her bones were moved several times before being interred in an elaborate tomb in Magdeburg Cathedral in Saxony-Anhalt in 1510.


It had been assumed that the bones had vanished and the tomb was empty, but in 2008 German archaeologists opened it and found it contained a lead box holding skeletal remains.


The challenge for the archaeologists was to show that the remains, which had been moved so often, and could easily have been substituted by others, were those of Eadgyth.


A study of the bones at the University of Mainz confirmed that the remains belonged to a single female, who died between 30 and 40. One of the femur heads suggested the individual was a frequent horse rider, hinting at her nobility.


Analysis of the bones suggested she enjoyed a high-protein diet, including a large quantity of fish, which again suggested she was an aristocrat.


It proved impossible to extract DNA from the remains – and the problem then, anyway, would have been fbut finding a sample of a descendant to try to match them to. Unfortunately vital parts were missing, including hands, feet and much of the skull. But crucial scientific evidence came from the study of the teeth preserved in the upper jaw.


A technique measuring the strontium and oxygen isotopes mineralised in the teeth as they are formed was used. The value of these isotopes depends on the local environment and its underlying geology – this valuable data is effectively "locked into" the teeth.


Studying tiny samples of enamel allowed scientists to work out that she must have spent time in Wessex's chalky uplands.


Horton said it had been possible to map almost month by month where the woman had lived as a child and were able to check this against what is known about Eadgyth's youth. But the findings added detail to what was known.


He said: "Eadgyth seems to have spent the first eight years of her life in southern England, but changed her domicile frequently, matching quite variable strontium ratios in her teeth. Only from the age of nine, the isotope values remain constant.


"Eadgyth must have moved around the kingdom following her father, King Edward the Elder during his reign. When her mother was divorced in 919 – Eadgyth was between nine and ten at that point –both were banished to a monastery, maybe Winchester or Wilton in Salisbury."


Trauma was also indicated in her skeleton around this same age, suggesting a dramatic change in her circumstances. She may at this time have suffered a disease or eating disorder, said the scientists.


More tests will be carried out on the material found in the coffin but the princess will be laid to rest later this year when the bones are reburied in Magdeburg Cathedral.



Diggers find highly desirable 12th century house



Digs in Nevern Castle, Pembrokeshire, have revealed what are thought to be the largest group of 12th century buildings in the county.


The excavations were directed by Dr Chris Caple from Durham University and supported by Peter Crane, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Archaeologist. The team also included students from Durham and Lampeter University and local volunteers from Cardigan, Newport and the Nevern area.


Dr Caple said: “This season’s excavations enabled us to make good progress in revealing and understanding the structures of the 12th century occupation (two towers and three hall-like buildings) of Nevern Castle.


"These constructions now appear to have been a highly desirable stone residence, a visible display of wealth and significant technical achievement.


“The recent excavation has revealed substantial evidence for buildings. On the inner castle the remains of a square stone tower have started to appear – the top of the remaining walls must be over two metres higher than ground on which it was built. Beside this tower was evidence of a lean-to structure against the castle’s perimeter wall.


“Elsewhere in the castle, and probably of similar date, the extent of what was probably the Great Hall was uncovered. It was built of stone and some twenty- two metres long by eight metres wide and, given the width of the walls, was probably a two storey building. This hall was constructed against another building, possibly a chapel or high class accommodation, to be investigated in the next phase of excavation.”


This third season of the Nevern Castle excavation took place over four weeks. The project is run by a partnership of Nevern Community Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Durham University and is funded through Cadw, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Park Authority, who manage the project. Also working on the project are Dyfed Archaeological Trust, with additional funding from PLANED.


The next excavation wstarts this week and runs to July 16. There will be guided tours at 2.45pm for approximately half an hour each day except Thursdays or in very poor weather.


For details of the excavation, Duncan Schlee from the Dyfed Archaeology Trust has created a ‘dig diary’ at www.cambria.org.uk/nevern/neverndigdiary.html.



Is this England's World Cup omen? Archaeologist discovers 800-year-old THREE LIONS badge


Last updated at 12:22 PM on 16th June 2010


An archaeologist has discovered what she hopes will be a lucky omen for England in the World Cup - a medieval badge emblazoned with three lions.

The copper item, found lodged in a stone wall is thought to date back to the 13th century but clearly shows the Coat of Arms of England.

Caroline Rann, a member of Warwickshire County Council's archaeology projects group, found the emblem - believed to be part of a horse harness - ahead of a building project, in Parkside, Coventry.


Cometh the hour ... Roy of the Rovers leaps off the bench in England's hour of need

‘This has been hidden for hundreds of years and for it to appear now has to be a sign that England will go all the way in the World Cup!’


'A sign': Wayne Rooney during the World Cup in South Africa. The archaeologist hopes the badge will bring luck to the England team

Nicholas Palmer, the principal field archaeologist at the Warwickshire Museum, said the inch-high badge is still being assessed and catalogued.

The partially corroded artefact, which is not believed to be intrinsically valuable, was found during excavation work on a site once occupied by medieval housing, ahead of work to construct a church.

Mr Palmer said the three lions’ symbol was a popular motif with patriotic connotations at the time the badge was made.

‘It was the Royal Arms, the Arms of the Kings of England, until 1340 and the badge was probably a decorative on a horse harness,’ the expert added.

Ms Rann said she hoped the find - made shortly before the World Cup began - would bring England good fortune in South Africa.

Asked how she felt when she saw the symbol, the archaeologist said: ‘It was a surprise, a nice surprise.

‘The badge clearly got there accidentally, as opposed to someone hiding it. It is very pretty and you can see clearly the three lions on it.’


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1287006/Is-Englands-World-Cup-omen-Archaeologist-discovers-800-year-old-THREE-LIONS-badge.html?ITO=1490#ixzz0rOiVRsdb