Oldest Spanish human figurine found


During excavations in the Can Sadurni cave (Begues, Barcelona), members of the archaeological team discovered the torso of a human figurine made of clay. Its location within the carefully recorded stratigraphy of occupation makes it the oldest human figurine in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula at 6500 years old.


The figurine, dates to a period of activity relating to the Neolithic. However, this is not the first exciting discovery that has been made in the cave. CIPAG researchers have been working for the past 34 years at this location and have found evidence of the production and consumption of beer.


These discoveries point to the cave of Can Sadurní being the location of important ritual events where celebrations brought together scattered groups in order to ensure their economic connections, ideological unity and marriages between different families.


The figurine is dated to the beginnings of the Middle Neolithic and although it consists only of a torso, neck and right arm it quite clearly represents a human figure. The preserved fragment is 8 cm height and given the proportions, would have originally stood 16-18cm high. If the figurine is observed with angled light two lines can be viewed; these etched carvings seem to represent elements of clothing and/or ornaments.


Normally the only element that allows the sex of these types of figures to be determined are the breasts. In the case of Begues discovery, the absence of female breasts makes it highly probable that it is a male figurine. This is particularly interesting as other later examples in the Iberian Peninsula and similar Mediterranean and European representations are more than the 80% female.


The arms have vertical holes through them which indicates that the figurine would originally have been suspended from a cord or a leather strap. The cord might have been used in order to hang the figurine on a person’s neck or from a peg inside the cave. The figurine’s neck is nearly all preserved and, as with many of these figurines, it seems the head may have been interchangeable, with a hole in the neck that could have taken a peg connected to a detached head.


Some examples of detached heads made of stone, terracotta or pottery have been found in sites of Neolithic Balkan and West Mediterranean cultures, in many cases the head was made of wood which explains why they have not been found in the cave.


Traditionally the inhabitants of the nearby town of Begues have been given the nickname Els Encantats (the Enchanted), and so the excavators gave a name to this tiny ritual idol; el Encantat de Begues.


Source: Universitat de Barcelona

More Information


    Excavación en la cueva de Can Sadurní ( Spanish )

    Cova de Can Sadurní (Begues – Baix Llobregat) (Spanish )

    Blasco, A; Edo, M; Villalba, M.J. (coord.) 2011, La cova de Can Sadurní i la prehistòria de Garraf, Actes de les Jornades Internacionals de Prehistòria “El Garraf, 30 anys d’investigació arqueològica”. Begues, 5 al 7 de desembre de 2008.

    Can Sadurní excavations belong to the project “La prehistòria al sud-est del Llobregat. De la costa al massís del Garraf-Ordal”, coordinated by the professor at the UB Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaeology, Josep Maria Fullola, and the prehistorian and archaeologist Manuel Edo, the CIPAG president. The excavations, led by the researchers Manuel Edo and Ferran Antolín, are supported by the Begues Town Council, the Culture Department at the Government of Catalonia and the Centre d’Estudis Beguetans, as well as by other organizations and local enterprises, such as the caves Montau of Sadurní, where the cave and Can Sadurní masia are located.



Rare prehistoric remains found under new Truro development

7:20am Wednesday 31st October 2012 in News


Cornwall Council are pushing ahead with the Truro Eastern District Centre (TEDC) despite finding the remains of a one-off prehistoric enclosure thought to be 5,500 years old on the site.


The TEDC is planned to include 97 homes, 1,350 park-and-ride spaces, a Waitrose supermarket, foodhall and recycling centre on an area of former farmland.


Archaeologists, led by Cornwall Council’s Historic Environment Service, suggest the eastern end of the site may have been a "causewayed enclosure" dating from the early Neolithic period (3800BC to 3600BC.)


This is the first find of its kind in Cornwall.


Now the team will catalogue their findings, take samples and, "in line with national guidance," re-bury the site to "protect it for future generations," a council spokesperson said.


Dan Ratcliffe from the Historic Environment Service said: "While it is important that we take the opportunity to learn more about our findings now, best practice is for the site to be preserved for future generations of archaeologists who will have better technologies to understand it than we do today.


"Scientific analysis of evidence recovered during the excavations is expected to take some years after the sample excavation has concluded.”


Initial surveys of the site were carried out in 2009, with a condition of the planning approval being to carry out further archaeological research. This work was commissioned by the council’s Transportation Service.


Tim Wood, Cornwall Council’s assistant head of transportation, said: “The proposed development has sufficient flexibility in the design to ensure that the construction above does not interfere with the archaeological remains.


“Following recommendations from the council’s archaeological advisor, we will reflect the archaeological significance of the site including installing interpretation boards.”


Around 80 sites with evidence of causewayed enclosures are known across southern Britain.


The find at Truro is the first to be discovered to the south west of the border between Dorset and Devon although the "tor enclosures" at Carn Brea and Helman Tor are thought to have been built at the same time and may have served similar functions.


Mr Ratcliffe said: "A causewayed enclosure was a large circular or oval area enclosed by a large bank and ditch.


"These sites date to the early Neolithic period - a period which also saw the first introduction of agriculture to Britain, the domestication of animals, the manufacture of pottery, and the first appearance of large communally built and used ceremonial monuments. Both the construction of the site and the activities within and around it probably served to bring communities together."


Investigations at the site, on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall between the A39 Newquay Road and the A390 Union Hill, are expected to be completed at the end of November.


The excavations are a requirement of the planning conditions placed on the TEDC development.



Remote Island Reveals Fascinating Prehistoric Past

25 October 2012


Grassholm is a tiny island, just 200 metres across, located 15 miles off the southwest Pembrokeshire coast. Owned and managed by the RSPB, the island is home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the entire world supporting 39,000 breeding pairs, some 9.5 % of the world’s population. Yet despite its remote location, recent ground survey by Royal Commission staff has revealed the traces of roundhouses and field boundaries indicating that this tiny island was also once home to a thriving prehistoric community!


The Royal Commission first surveyed the island back in 1972 – Commission Investigator Douglas Hague visited the island and planned and excavated the remains of a small settlement of conjoined rectangular buildings. This was situated on the western side of the island where the caustic effect of gannet guano had killed the dense mattress of grass exposing the archaeological remains beneath.  The settlement appeared similar to structures identified on nearby Gateholm and were presumed to be Medieval – perhaps even representing the ‘lordly hall’ mentioned in the legend of Branwen in the Mabinogion.


Hague’s settlement has now been covered over by gannet nests which crowd onto the western side of the island. But, as the gannet colony has expanded in size, increasingly more of the island’s archaeology is being revealed. Aerial reconnaissance by the Commission in 2011 identified what looked like the remains of prehistoric occupation running down the central spine of the island. This needed verification on the ground and the Commission was fortunate enough to be offered an opportunity to do just that, by accompanying the RSPB on their annual Grassholm rescue mission to cut free gannet fledglings tangled up in marine debris.


The western side of the island is covered in gannet nests – squat pillars of mud, stained white from guano – while the eastern side is covered by tussocky grass. But, a narrow strip of ground within the centre of the island, running from the north to south coast is free of both nests and grass and it’s here that the archaeological remains were most visible.


What we found was extraordinary. The remains of two small roundhouses, barely 4m in diameter, were visible. The tumbled walls of field boundaries radiated out from them forming small fields, terraces and garden plots. Clearly this was a serious attempt to set up a small farmstead and the remains reminded us of similar structures identified on nearby Skomer. There was also what appeared to be cairn – a mound of stones, perhaps simply the result of field clearance, but it could also mark the burial place of one of the island’s prehistoric inhabitants.



Priddy Stone Circles vandal, 73, ordered to pay £10,000

26 October 2012 Last updated at 17:23


A 73-year-old man who vandalised a 5,000-year-old stone monument has been ordered to pay £10,000.


Roger Penny, of Chewton Mendip, appeared before Taunton Crown Court after he damaged one of the Priddy Stone Circles, which is on his land.


Penny had pleaded guilty to charges, at an earlier hearing at South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates' Court.


He was fined £2,500 plus costs of £7,500, but has pledged to pay up to £40,000 extra to help make repairs.


Recorder Jeremy Wright said that it was "sad to see a man of your age and good character before the court".


However, he said: "Your actions may have meant that significant archaeological information has been lost.


"Although some evidence may be available, its significance and value has been significantly diminished by the damage you have done."


Penny has agreed to pay up to £38,000, according to English Heritage (EH), to help put things on the site right again.


An EH spokesperson described the damage as a "major incident", adding the structure was one of only about 80 henges in England.


They said the loss of the fabric to the henge meant a "really, really rare piece of Neolithic engineering had been lost forever".


The damage included the destruction of a circular ditch which was completely bulldozed, and damage to the monument itself, the spokesperson said.


EH is still unsure whether the monument can be restored to its original condition.


In April, the court was told the damage was carried out between April and October 2011.


Magistrates were told work had taken place on land next to the B3195, known as Stable Cottage and Huntsman Cottage, which contained the southernmost circle of the monument.


Penny, of The Grange, Back Lane, Chewton Mendip, was charged in connection with causing or permitting work without scheduled monument consent or development consent contrary to Section 2(1) of the Ancient Monuments Archaeological Areas Act 1979.



Landowner admits monumental error that caused Priddy Circles damage

Friday, April 20, 2012

Western Daily Press


A retired plant-hire boss and owner of popular stalwart racehorse Earthmover admitted damaging an internationally important prehistoric monument.


Retired businessman Roger Penny’s pension investment ended up causing irrecoverable damage to a Somerset landmark, a court heard yesterday.


Penny, 73, bought the former Mendip Hunt stables and house and adjoining land, which included one of the four giant earthwork rings known as Priddy Circles.


They are a Scheduled Ancient Monument, dating from around 3,000BC, the time of the first building of Stonehenge.


Penny intended to renovate and let the properties but when he instructed contractors to clear gorse and bracken, move a gate and bring rubble into a field to help rebuild a wall, he did so without contacting English Heritage to establish the extent of the monument, or ask for permission or advice about how to carry out the work.


He knew the circle was scheduled and told the contractors not to touch the ring, but because part of the site is not visible to the naked eye serious damage was caused.


Penny, of The Grange, Back Lane, Litton, admitted causing or permitting works to a Scheduled Monument without Scheduled Monument Consent when he appeared before South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates at Yeovil.


One contractor used rubble to fill swallet holes, natural holes inside the ring which may be the key to the monument’s creation.


Stephen Covell, prosecuting for English Heritage explained: “The circles may have been constructed there so that they included the swallet holes. It is suspected from archaeological excavation of similar holes that they were used by prehistoric people.”


Moving the gate led to agricultural machinery driving straight through the circle making ruts.


“It may have been a mistake because you can’t see certain areas, but archaeologically the monument was there to be protected and he should have found out about it,” said Mr Covell.


David Holden-White, defending, said Penny was of: “impeccable character” and deeply regretted what had happened.


He did not walk the land before instructing contractors because he was suffering from hip and leg pain which later required a knee operation.


Penny will be sentenced by Taunton Crown Court at a later date.



Bronze Age Golden Cup Unearthed in Italy

Fri, Oct 26, 2012


The find could shed new light on Bronze Age trade in Europe, says archaeologist.

Bronze Age Golden Cup Unearthed in Italy


Archaeologists have dated a rare golden cup uearthed near the town of Montecchio Emilia in Northern Italy to about 1800 B.C., making it one of only three other similar golden cups discovered in Europe and Britain that have intrigued archaeologists and historians for years. 


The cup turned up during a survey of a gravel pit located along terraces adjacent to the Enza River. Previous surveys in nearby areas also revealed evidence of dwellings of the late-Neolithic and Bronze Ages (IV-III millennium B.C), terramara cremation urns from the mid-recent Bronze Age (XIV-XII centuries B.C.), and Etruscan graves.


A recent report stated that "It had clearly been lifted up and partially moved by the plough quite some time ago. No structure, tomb or anything else that could be correlated to the original resting place of the cup was found: evidently, it must have been buried in a simple hole in the bare earth. It appears to have been smashed in ancient times, then later partially broken by a plough, which seems to have pulled out a small piece".


Archaeologists suggest that it might have served as a ritual cup, but the difficulty of its context when found has left archaeologists puzzled about the use, meaning and owners of the vessel. As reported, "No other elements - from strictly the same period as the Montecchio cup - were found in the gravel pit area: it thus must have been hidden away or placed there as a votive offering, although some information from the archives, presently under examination, might be able to link the cup to a finding of 13 gold objects, apparently from the Bronze Age, when a field in Montecchio was ploughed on January 18, 1782: unfortunately, the items were melted down. All that remains are lively descriptions from the period".


Regarding the three other similar cups found in previous investigations, one was discovered in Fritzdorf, Germany in 1954 (pictured right) and is currently exhibited at the Landesmuseum in Bonn, Germany. The other two are exhibited at the British Museum and were found, respectively, in Rillaton (Cornwall) and Ringlemore (Kent) in the U.K. The U.K. cups differed from the Italian and German cups in that they featured a corrugated external surface. It is thought that there could be a trade system relationship that links the cups. According to Dr. Filippo Maria Gambari, Superintendent of the Archaeological Heritage of Emilia Romagna, “this find ideally links this area of Italy with the henges of the United Kingdom and the area of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany)".


Scientists sudying the vessel found in Italy hope that further testing and analysis will provide clues relating to the origin, purpose, and makers, including its possible relationship to the other cups and the trade relationships and systems that existed at the time of its manufacture. Says Gambari, "this research could change the well-established ideas of trade in Bronze Age Europe".


Information for this article was provided by Archaeofilia and the Archaeological Heritage of Emilia Romagna.



Europe's oldest prehistoric town unearthed in Bulgaria

31 October 2012 Last updated at 14:56


(A photo provided by the Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology and taken on 26 September 2012 shows the remains of a small settlement made of two-storey houses near the town of Provadia in eastern Bulgaria The prehistoric town at Provadia features two-storey houses and a defensive wall)


Archaeologists in Bulgaria say that have uncovered the oldest prehistoric town found to date in Europe.


The walled fortified settlement, near the modern town of Provadia, is thought to have been an important centre for salt production.


Its discovery in north-west Bulgaria may explain the huge gold hoard found nearby 40 years ago.


Archaeologists believe that the town was home to some 350 people and dates back to between 4700 and 4200 BC.


That is about 1,500 years before the start of ancient Greek civilisation.


The residents boiled water from a local spring and used it to create salt bricks, which were traded and used to preserve meat.


Salt was a hugely valuable commodity at the time, which experts say could help to explain the huge defensive stone walls which ringed the town.

'Extremely interesting'


Excavations at the site, beginning in 2005, have also uncovered the remains of two-storey houses, a series of pits used for rituals, as well as parts of a gate and bastion structures.


A small necropolis, or burial ground, was discovered at the site earlier this year and is still being studied by archaeologists.


"We are not talking about a town like the Greek city-states, ancient Rome or medieval settlements, but about what archaeologists agree constituted a town in the fifth millennium BC," Vasil Nikolov, a researcher with Bulgaria's National Institute of Archaeology, told the AFP news agency.


Archaeologist Krum Bachvarov from the institute said the latest find was "extremely interesting".


"The huge walls around the settlement, which were built very tall and with stone blocks... are also something unseen in excavations of prehistoric sites in south-east Europe so far," he told AFP.


Similar salt mines near Tuzla in Bosnia and Turda in Romania help prove the existence of a series of civilisations which also mined copper and gold in the Carpathian and Balkan mountains during the same period.


BBC Europe correspondent Nick Thorpe says this latest discovery almost certainly explains the treasure found exactly 40 years ago at a cemetery on the outskirts of Varna, 35km (21 miles) away, the oldest hoard of gold objects found anywhere in the world.



The oldest prehistoric town in Europe is unearthed in Bulgaria

By CapitalBay Online 5 hours 24 minutes ago

31 Oct 2012 09:51


The oldest prehistoric town in Europe has been unearthed after a marathon seven-year dig.


The settlement remains near the town of Provadia, eastern Bulgaria, date back as far as 4,700BC.


Parts of two-storey houses, a gate and a series of pits used for rituals are among the finds.


"We are not talking about a town like the Greek city-states, ancient Rome or medieval settlements, but about what archaeologists agree constituted a town in the fifth millennium BC," said Vasil Nikolov, a researcher with Bulgaria's National Institute of Archeology.


Nikolov and his team have worked since 2005 to excavate the Provadia-Solnitsata settlement, located near the Black Sea resort of Varna.


Archeologist Krum Bachvarov from the National Institute of Archeology qualified this latest find as "extremely interesting" due to the peculiar burial positions and objects found in the graves, which differed from other neolithic graves found in Bulgaria.


"The huge walls around the settlement, which were built very tall and with stone blocks ... are also something unseen in excavations of prehistoric sites in southeast Europe so far," Bachvarov added.


The remains of a man and two children in the necropolis of a small settlement made of two-story houses near the town of Provadia in eastern BulgariaGrave: Skeletons of man and two children were also found at the site


Well fortified, a religious centre and most importantly, a major production centre for a specialised commodity that was traded far and wide, the settlement of about 350 people met all the conditions to be considered the oldest known "prehistoric town" in Europe, the team says.


"At a time when people did not know the wheel and cart these people hauled huge rocks and built massive walls. Why? What did they hide behind them?" Nikolov asked.


The answer: "Salt."


The area is home to huge rock-salt deposits, some of the largest in southeast Europe and the only ones to be exploited as early as the sixth millennium BC, Nikolov said.


This is what made Provadia-Solnitsata what it was.


Nowadays, salt is still mined there but 7,500 years ago it had a completely different significance.


"Salt was an extremely valued commodity in ancient times, as it was both necessary for people's lives and was used as a method of trade and currency starting from the sixth millennium BC up to 600 BC," the researcher explained.





The archaeological site of Provadia-Solnitsata is a prehistoric tell over which a big Thracian burial mound was heaped much later. It is situated in the region of Provadia, in Northeast Bulgaria.


The tell site lies over the biggest rock salt deposit in the Eastern Balkans from which salt springs issued. The production of salt started during the late Neolithic, i.e. between 5,400 and 5,200 BC. Salt was produced through boiling of brine from the springs in thin-walled ceramic pots put in solid dome ovens within the settlement. This is the earliest example in Europe of such salt production technology and Provadia-Solnitsata is the oldest salt production center in the Old World known so far. Life at the tell continued through the Middle Chalcolithic, i.e. between 4,650 and 4,500 BC and by the end of this period a big production complex developed next to the settlement which existed also in the Late Chalcolithic, i.e. between 4,500 and 4,200 BC. The ovens were replaced by open wide pits in which new type of ceramic pots were arranged one beside the other: deep thick-walled tubs with very large capacity. Brine was boiled on open fire blazed in the bottom of the pit among the vessels. The salt production and trade at that time led to the accumulation – through exchange – of exceptional ‘wealth’ of prestigious objects at the Varna Chalcolithic cemetery (4,500 – 4,200 BC) 37 kilometers east of Provadia-Solnitsata.



Looters strip Bulgaria of ancient treasures

Published: Friday, 26 Oct 2012 | 11:27 AM ET


ARCHAR, Bulgaria - On the banks of the Danube, in the northwest corner of Bulgaria, lie the remnants of an ancient Roman settlement called Ratiaria, host to a priceless cultural heritage. Craters pockmark the huge site, evidence of a scourge threatening one of the world's great troves of antiquities: looters digging for ancient treasure to sell on the black market.


Archaeologist Krasmira Luka, who heads a team excavating part of the 80 hectare (200 acre) site, says the area has been repeatedly raided by thieves who dig pits looking for ancient coins and jewelry. Everything else, including precious ceramic vessels and other historically significant artifacts, is smashed to pieces.


"Destroying the items is not just a crime, it's an irreparable tragedy," Luka said, looking out at a moonscape littered with shards of ceramics or glassware destroyed by the diggers. "The day after our team leaves the site, the diggers are in place. It's an uneven battle."


Located on the crossroads of many ancient civilizations, Bulgaria is ranked by its scholars as behind only Italy and Greece in Europe for the numbers of antiquities lying in its soil. But Bulgaria has been powerless to prevent the rape of its ancient sites, depriving the world of part of its cultural legacy and also costing this impoverished Balkan nation much-needed tourism revenue.


Police reports indicate that every day up to 50,000 people are engaged in treasure hunting raids across Bulgaria, a country of 7.3 million. According to Angel Papalezov, a senior police officer, hundreds of thousands of artifacts are smuggled out of the country every year, with dealers hauling in up to $40 million.


But Ratiaria is the most drastic example of the looting that has been going on over the last 20 years, since the fall of communism. The first excavations here were carried out by Bulgarian archaeologists between 1958 and 1962. They were renewed in 1976 by an Italian team, but lack of funding forced them to leave the site in 1991.


Western experts call Ratiaria a world-class archaeological site that is under grave threat.


"Ratiaria has a great archaeological and historical significance not just of regional and national importance to Bulgaria but internationally for the study of the Roman Empire," said Jamie Burrows, an archaeologist at the Nottingham University, who has spent several years working at Ratiaria.


"Such a site could have been North West Bulgaria's 'Pompeii', bringing wealth to a poor region in need of such tourism," he said in an email to The Associated Press. "Without quick efficient action this opportunity may sadly be missed."


Ancient sites were protected during communist times by a strong fear of the omnipresent police and harsh punishments for any law-breaking activity. Since the collapse of the totalitarian system, many have taken up looting to earn a living. Organized by local mafia, looting squads that have mushroomed all over the country are well equipped with metal detectors, bulldozers, tractors and even decommissioned army vehicles.


Bulgaria hosts some of the most unique and vulnerable cultural resources in Europe.


In addition to the numerous Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Age settlement mounds, there are significant remains of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine urban centers. Perhaps most notable among Bulgarian antiquities are the remains of the Thracians, a powerful warrior kingdom conquered only by Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire. The best known Thracian remains in Bulgaria are tombs and burial mounds which contain stunning gold and silver work.


In early October, some 5,000 Roman items were handed over to the National History Museum in Sofia. They were seized at a border crossing with Serbia, just few miles (kilometers) west of Ratiaria.


Presenting the collection, museum director Bozhidar Dimitrov said that he was glad to have the lost treasure back — but also saddened because it was proof of how widespread illegal treasure hunting was in Bulgaria.


Through the broken windows of a deserted house on the Ratiaria site, there are pits up to three meters deep dug by looters under the floor.


"It was bought by looters who have used it as a shelter where they can dig without being bothered by police," Luka said. If they get caught, they usually claim they are on their way to hand over the find to the museum.


Coins and other treasures found by looters are sold to people who smuggle them abroad. Roman items from Ratiaria can be found in auction houses and antiquity collections around the world. For the looters in a part of Bulgaria declared by Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency, as "the European Union's poorest region," the site represents an almost irresistible temptation.


Luka told the story of three men from the nearby village or Archar, who had found a golden coin and sold it to smugglers for 1,500 euro, which equals the amount of four monthly average salaries in Bulgaria. "Months later the same coin was sold in Germany at a price many times higher," Luka said.


"But it is not only the looters with the shovels who are responsible," Luka said, "there are a lot of people up the chain, and they enjoy the highest protection." Over the last two decades, she said, organized crime groups have constantly bribed police officers, prosecutors and local officials who have sheltered their illegal activities. Those who usually get caught and sentenced, however, are from the lowest level of the well-organized scheme.


With more than 50 percent of the 2,700 inhabitants of Archar jobless, Mayor Emil Georgiev seems unable to stop the daily attacks of looters seeking the treasure that is supposed to change their life.


"Usually they work late at night or at weekends or holidays," the mayor said, adding that some 20 villagers have been convicted over the last year and ordered to serve different terms of probation by performing community service.


"Recently we received government funds that guarantee jobs for just eight people who will work as guards at the archaeological site," Georgiev said, raising his shoulders when asked how such a small group can protect the huge area.


In Vidin, the main city of the region, the newly appointed district governor Tsvetan Asenov said that preserving the archaeological site and opening it up for tourists was one of his priorities, but complained that this was not easy in a time of acute economic crisis.


Experts say they have no way to gauge the extent of the pillaging.


"There are hundreds of tombstones and statues in local museums, but what we don't know exactly is how many more such relics were smuggled out of the country and are now in Italy, Munich or Vienna," said Rumen Ivanov, Roman History professor at the National Institute of Archaeology.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Bali’s ‘largest’ ancient Hindu temple unearthed

October 25 2012 at 10:02am



Denpasar, Indonesia - Construction workers in Bali have discovered what is thought to be the biggest ancient Hindu temple ever found on the Indonesian island, archaeologists said.


The workers were digging a drain in the island's capital Denpasar at a Hindu study centre when they came across the remains of the stone temple.


They reported the discovery to the Bali archaeology office, which then unearthed substantial foundations of a structure that the excavation team believes dates from around the 13th to 15th centuries.


“We think this is the biggest ancient Hindu temple ever discovered in Bali,” Wayan Suantika, the head of the team, said late Wednesday.


He said the excavation was still in progress and the team did not yet know whether enough stones would be unearthed to allow them to reconstruct the temple.


The construction workers on Sunday found the first stone one metre underground, which was one metre long, 40 centimetres deep and 40 wide, said Ida Resi Bujangga Wisnawa Ganda Kusuma, owner of the Hindu centre.


The excavation team then found what they believe is the foundation of the structure's 20-metre-long east wing, Suantika said.


The popular resort island is a pocket of Hindu culture in a country with the biggest Muslim population in the world. - Sapa-AFP



Sharjah Bank Street partially closed for excavation

By Wam

Published Tuesday, October 30, 2012


As part of the on-going work on the "Heart of Sharjah" project, the largest heritage project in the UAE and Gulf region, Bank Street - the first modern commercial street in Sharjah constructed in the late 1970s - has been partially closed as of October 28.


Work on the first phase of this landmark project, being undertaken by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) in cooperation with the Sharjah Department of Public Works and a number government bodies and departments in the Emirate, is well on track and construction is now commencing to complete the project south to Al Hisn (Bank Street) and beyond.


One of the prime focuses of the work to be done in this area is a full archaeological excavation, being led by Prof Tatsuo Sasaki, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Archaeology, University of Kanazawa, Japan. The excavation is being coordinated between Shurooq, the Sharjah Ruler's Office, the Directorate of Heritage, and the Directorate of Antiquities and was commissioned after a non-intrusive ground radar survey of the area showed that extensive remains of the historic core of the city, including its souq lay underneath the tarmac of Bank Street.


Commenting on the importance of this part of the project Peter Jackson, Architectural Advisor in the Ruler's Office, said: "While extensive archaeological excavation and research has taken place throughout the emirate of Sharjah, as well as in the suburbs of the city, none has so far been conducted within the historic core of the city. It is believed that the town dates back at least to the late 16th century, and the object of the work to be carried out between 1st November and May 2013 will be to identify the foundations from earlier periods in the town's history in an attempt to accurately date Sharjah's urban history in this location, as well as to ascertain how it has evolved over the centuries."


Yousif Al Mutawa, Heart of Sharjah Destination Manager, said: "Our exploration of this previously largely forgotten part of Sharjah's history comes under the directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, as well as our continued commitment to preserving and protecting the heritage of Sharjah. We are extremely pleased with the progress of the project, and looking forward to starting this significant segment of work on the development. The Heart of Sharjah is without a doubt one of the most ambitious and visionary heritage projects to have ever been attempted in the region and it is enormously gratifying to see our vision steadily taking shape."


Al Mutawa went on to comment that Sharjah was already well known and respected for its many invaluable contributions to culture and heritage in the international arena. And through this project Sharjah was setting new benchmarks in the fields of archaeology and historical preservation, once again reaffirming Sharjah's leading cultural role in the region and the world.


The Heart of Sharjah, a five-phase, 15-year historical restoration project aims to restore and revamp the traditional heritage areas of Sharjah to create a tourist and trade destination with contemporary artistic touches, yet retain the feel of the 1950s, and reflect what Sharjah was like over half a century ago.


Scheduled for completion in 2025 and situated just few minutes from the city's corniche and 10 minutes from the Sharjah International Airport, The Heart of Sharjah will feature diverse commercial, cultural and residential projects, including a boutique hotel, restaurants, retail shops, art galleries, traditional and contemporary markets, archaeological sites, museums, play areas, and commercial offices.



Easter Island Statues Could Have 'Walked'

Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi

Thu Oct 25, 2012 03:31 PM ET


The giant stone statues in Polynesia's Easter Island may have just been "walked" out of quarry, according to a controversial new theory on how the monolithic human figures were transported to every corner of the island.


In a piece of experimental archaeology, a team of local and U.S. researchers showed that the massive statues, known as moai, can be moved from side to side by a small number of people, just as one might move a fridge.


"We constructed a precise three-dimensional 4.35 metric ton replica of an actual statue and demonstrated how positioning the center of mass allowed it to fall forward and rock from side to side causing it to 'walk,'" Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at California State University, Long Beach, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Archaeological Science.


Nearly 1,000 huge statues stand on the remote Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island. With sizes ranging from about 6 to 33 feet in height, the rock effiges feature human-like figures ending at the top of the thighs with large heads, long ears and pursed lips.


Scholars have long debated how the multi-ton statues were moved from the quarry in Rano Raraku, an extinct volcano where they were carved, throughout the island's rugged terrain.


Claims ranged from extra-terrestrial intervention to molding in situ. However, most archaeologists agree that the colossal stone statues were moved by rolling them on logs. In doing so, the statue-obsessed Rapa Nui people would have depleted the island of its forests.


But according to Lipo's team, new evidence challenges the "longstanding notions of 'ecocide' and population collapse before European contact."


The researchers looked at the statues that were successfully placed on platforms on the island's perimeter, and others that the islanders abandoned on road sides in an apparently random fashion.


According to Lipo, the position of the incomplete road moai shows that they fell over from upright positions, contradicting the theory that they were horizontally rolled on logs.


"The majority of statues are found facedown when the road slopes downhill, and often on their backs when going uphill," he said.


To test the walking hypothesis, Lipo and colleagues built a 4.35-ton concrete statue, which they say is a "precise proportionally scaled replica of an actual road moai shaped appropriately for transport."


Then they tested its upright movement at Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii.


Chanting "heave-ho," a team of 18 people managed to get the statue walking using three hemp ropes.


One was tied from behind near the top of the head at the eyes to keep the statue from falling on its face. The other two, tied to the same location at the eyes, were stretched on either side and pulled in alternating fashion to rock the statue.


"Each roll caused the statue to take a step," Lipo said. In under an hour, the statue traveled 100 meters.


"In contrast to popular notions of sledges, rollers or sliders of trees, the evidence shows that moai were specifically engineered to 'walk' in an upright position achieved using only ropes, human labor and simple cleared pathways," wrote the researchers.


They noted that material for ropes was abundant on the island since they were made from a woody shrub. Therefore, "statue making and transport cannot be linked to deforestation," they said.


"Multiple lines of evidence, including the ingenious engineering to 'walk' statues, point to Easter Island as a remarkable history of success in a most unlikely place," they concluded.



Grey Friars female skeleton is possibly of founder

30 October 2012 University of Leicester

Search for King Richard III press portal:



Archaeologists leading the analysis of human remains found in the Search for Richard III have commented on the second skeleton found at the Church of Grey Friars in Leicester.


The University of Leicester, in association with Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society, is leading the Search for Richard III.  In September, archaeologists disclosed they discovered two skeletons, one of which is being subjected to rigorous laboratory tests.


The University team say they have not yet examined the second set of disarticulated remains of a female found under a car park in Leicester city centre.


Mathew Morris, University of Leicester Archaeological Services’ site director said: “It wasn’t unexpected finding the remains of a woman buried in the friary.  We know of at least one woman connected with the friary, Ellen Luenor, a possible benefactor and founder with her husband, Gilbert.


“However the friary would have administered to the poor, sick and homeless as well, and without knowing where Ellen Luenor had been originally buried we are unlikely to ever know who the remains are of, or why she was buried there.”


Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist of the Grey Friars project and co-director of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, said that at some point in the past, the bones had been disturbed and subsequently  reburied. He said the skeleton may have been dug up by a gardener when the site was the garden of a mansion house in the 17th century. The remains were then reburied at a higher level than the church floor.


Mr Buckley said:  “These bones comprise what is known as ‘charnel’ and there is evidence on many sites of respect being according to disturbed human remains which were carefully gathered up and reburied or stored in charnel houses.”


Philippa Langley, who conceived the search, undertook extensive desk-based research during the three years it took to launch the Leicester dig project. During this time she and Dr John Ashdown-Hill established seven potential named burials in addition to King Richard’s in the church of the Grey Friars. Of these further seven, only one was female, that of Ellen Luenor, wife of Gilbert Luenor, a possible founder and benefactor of the Grey Friars.


Philippa said: “It was a tenuous connection but an intriguing one only mentioned, as far as we could tell, by the 16th century historian John Stow.”


At the moment of discovery at the dig, Philippa was excited to see another element of the history of the Grey Friars possibly coming to life, in that they may indeed be the remains of Ellen who would have been buried around 1250.


She added: “It’s a slim chance that they could be Ellen, but at least we have a female name to attribute to them and at the moment there is no other.”


The university is currently analysing another skeleton - the only set of articulated remains exhumed on the site – which has apparent battle wounds and curvature of the spine, and could be the remains of Richard III. The University has made it clear that it is not saying it has found Richard III – rather that the skeleton has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination and that the search has moved from an archaeological to a laboratory phase.


The University has added that the outcomes of its investigations are expected in January- and that possible outcomes are:


• The scientific research suggests it is Richard III


• The scientific research suggests it is not Richard III


• The scientific research is inconclusive and therefore conclusions may be drawn from the evidence available.


The Search for Richard III is also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary being made by Darlow Smithson.