Today the man who first discovered the young King Tutankhamun’s tomb would have been 138. Unfortunately, Howard Carter died 17 years after he first unearthed the tomb from lymphoma.
The discovery of King Tut’s tomb was a huge archeological breakthrough for many reasons.
First, it was discovered during a time of very uncertain times in between two World Wars. It gave people who had only read grim news for years finally something to enjoy and talk about.
Second, over the course of many centuries all of the tombs had been raided by thieves and it was believed that none of the tombs really held much at all. That is why when Carter entered the tomb and found a immense collection of gold and ornate treasures he knew he had found something truly special. Not only were all the decorations and treasures still in the tomb, the sarcophagus and mummy were still present. This led to a world wide interest in ancient Egypt, which still exists today, and also provided people with hundreds, if not thousands, of artifacts to examine and study.
Here is a rundown of the news stories from the past week and anniversaries of important events from the coming week. As always, most of the news stories come from http://www.ablogabouthistory.com/. I highly recommend checking it out to keep updated on news regarding history.
- Chinese Archaeologists have discovered a tomb dating back 2500 years that may have belonged to one of the warlords of the Eastern Zhou Period(770-256BCE). The tomb was discovered in January in Shandong Province and several bronze weapons, jade jewelry and ritual utensils have been found. The remains of the warlord archaeologists presume was buried there have yet to be found. The tomb was found on a steep hill, which was unusual given that warlords tended to be buried on mountains. The unique aspects of this tomb may shed more light on an extremely chaotic period in Chinese history. Source: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-04/24/content_15126480.htm
- The Temple of Hathor, on the island of Philae in Upper Egypt is due to be opened this month after a program to restore the long deteriorated temple. The temple was originally built by King Ptolemy VI and expanded under Ptolemy VII and the Roman Emperors Augustus and Tiberius. That the site has been restored, its blocks had been deteriorated and the walls cracked, points to the ability of workers and archaeologists to restore and reinforce ancient buildings, even when they are pretty poor shape. Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/40/40238/Heritage/Ancient-Egypt/Philaes-Hathor-temple-gets-facelift-in-advance-of-.aspx
- Evidence has been uncovered from the remains of a large, sunken, Roman vessel, found six months ago near the shore of Marausa Lido, contains evidence of Roman smuggling activities. The vessel dates from the 3rd century CE and primarily contains jars, which have been perfectly preserved, of walnuts, figs, olives, wine, oil and fish sauce. Also found on the ship were a bunch of terracotta tubes, pointed at one end, which were used by builders to reinforce vaulted ceilings. These fictile tubes were approximately a quarter of the cost in North Africa than they were in Rome and were likely smuggled by sailors looking to pad their small pay. This vessel is in pieces but when the pieces are assembled it will be the most complete Roman ship ever discovered. Archaeologists in Salerno are expecting it to be restored and on displayed within 2 years. More importantly this discovery sheds more light on both commerce in the Roman world, and smuggling activities which is one of many activities which are not well recorded in ancient sources. Source: http://news.discovery.com/history/roman-shipwreck-smuggling-120425.html
- In an excavation beginning in 2010, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a small temple in the mountains between Ilia and Messinia in Greece, across from the famous temple of Epicurean Apollo. The temple dates from the 6th century BCE and seems to have been demolished and some point to make way for a larger temple. Various pieces from the temple, including its triglyphs, and items dedicated to the god of the temple, including bronze figure of a naked man holding a spear, and some sharp iron weapons. Tools used to build a small temple were also found. It is unclear exactly what god the temple was dedicated too, but presumably it was a deity that was involved war in some way. Source: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/04/24/ancient-temple-discovered-in-messinia/
- Archaeologists working on the Struma Highway in Bulgaria have found a Necropolis dating back approximately 2800 years. Archaeologists are apparently perplexed at the size of the site and the amount of time it was in use, although there are two ancient settlements that have been found in the region. source: http://www.sofiaecho.com/2012/05/02/1818561_archaeology-ancient-necropolis-found-in-path-of-bulgarias-struma-motorway
- In excavations in Jerusalem a building has been discovered below the base of an ancient drainage channel near the Western Wall of Temple Mount. It is the closest building to the First Temple that has thus far been uncovered. Among the discoveries was a personal seal of a semi-precious stone marked with Lematanyahu Ben Ho, meaning ‘belonging to matanyahu ben ho’. The rest of the inscription has been erased. Such personal seals were common during the First Temple Period. Source: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Early+History+-+Archaeology/Hebrew_seal_Matanyahu_uncovered_Jerusalem_1-May-2012.htm
Alright, fans of ancient history, here is a quick run down of all the stories about the Ancient World from the last week:
First up, April 25th is the date traditionally given for the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta in 404BCE, with Athens surrendering to the Spartan king Lysander. The war ended the political domination of Athens of the rest of the Greek city states and began 30 years of Spartan dominance in Greece. Athens would regain some of its prestige in the following decades and the war did little to dim the cultural and intellectual fame of the city, a reputation for which the city would not lose until the closure of the Academy in Athens in 529CE by the Emperor Justinian(though it did lapse for a time early in the Roman occupation of the city). Not coincidentally it is this date that some scholars have labelled as being the ‘end of antiquity’.
Second, A fragment of the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’, dating from 1420BCE has been found in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, Australia. The fragment, happened upon by Dr. John Taylor, curator of the British Museum’s mummy collection, is from a high ranking temple priest and are the missing portions of a manuscript of which other fragments have been found. Dr. Taylor is optimistic that this new discovery, which has been with the Museum for 100 years after being donated, might help archaeologists and historians to reconstruct the entire text. The papyrus will remain in Brisbane with scholars using computer technology to reconstruct the document.
Taking a jump to the other end of the world, a scientist from Salford, Dr. Bruno Fazenda, has revealed the findings of his, and his colleagues, 4 years project to reconstruct what Stonehenge might have sounded like when complete. While Stonehenge itself has too much missing to get accurate acoustical measurements, a full size replica of Stonehenge was built in Maryhill, Washington in the United States as a memorial to those that died in the First World War(it was the first memorial built for soldiers of WWI, at the time). The study indicates that, much like a Greek or Roman theater, Stonehenge would have had impressive acoustics. It is still something of a mystery, however, and one we may never solve given the absence of written evidence, what exactly the site was used for.
Britain is also in the news this week as the Museum of London has been awarded the Guinness World Record for the Largest Archaeological Collection in the World. They have over 5 million pieces and records of over 8500 digs, which fill 120,000 boxes on 10 kilometers of shelves. This collection contains materials from every ere of human existence and every part of the world. The question, however, is how long this collection will remain intact, as more and more world governments are seeking to reclaim parts of their cultural heritage from museums in Europe and the United States, which have held them for the past several hundred years from their days as colonizers.
Moving on to sunny Italy, Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, is currently supporting the proposal to build an $800 million theme park outside of Rome which will recreate many of the architectural wonders of the Eternal City and give tourists a glimpse of what life in Rome might really have been like. Backers of the project are hoping that the proposed theme park, or Romaland as some are calling the proposal, will create jobs and revenue by increasing the length of time the average tourist stays in Rome by several days. Critics of the project are saying that the money would much better be spent in maintaining and securing the real monuments. With increasing awareness by the Italian Government and the European Union on the fragile nature of many such architectural and archaeological sites, somehow I personally doubt this project will ever truly come to fruition.
Speaking of which, another wall has collapsed in the city of Pompeii. This event has increased calls for a consistent and sustained effort to preserve it, and other such sites around Italy. Critics have said that previous efforts, largely by private donors, have been inconsistent, and too prone to being siphoned off to the local mafia, the Camorra. The recent cost cutting efforts by the Italian government have always been widely criticized. While much of the talk has been directed toward the stabilization and preservation of the site itself, none of that will matter if the tourist flow into the city is not better controlled and regulated.
It seems moles are the most effective archaeologists at the isolated Roman fort of Epiacum in West Northumberland, near Hadrian’s Wall. The site is a scheduled archaeological monument and as such excavation is strictly prohibited. However, local moles routinely churn up archaeological fragments which are gone through yearly under the watchful eye of the English Heritage. Despite moles being the excavators the artifacts are reported to be in quite good shape.
Researchers, namely Dr. Klaus Reicherter of Germany’s Aachen University, have discovered evidence that the ‘Wave of Poseidon’ which the Greek Historian Herodotus reported saving a town in Northern Greece, now called Nea Potidea, from the invading Persian army in 479BCE was in fact a Tsunami. Herodotus detailed the wave which saved the town, which modern researchers determined sounded very much like the stages of a Tsunami. Geological evidence has confirmed that a Tsunami did in fact occur in the region at around the time Herodotus reported. This research is part of ongoing efforts to find ancient tsunami’s using geological and historical evidence in order to determine what areas might be vulnerable to such an event happening today. Given that tsunamis are sudden, unpredictable, and deadly occurrences, having warning of areas vulnerable to them will certainly help people be better prepared in the future.
Finally, excavators in the coastal city of Sozopol in Bulgaria have unearthed vase fragments depicting erotic scenes in the style of Ancient Greek vase painters. In particular, initial analysis of the fragments has determined that they are of the same style as that used by the ‘Artist of the Running Satyr’ a prominent Apollonian vase painter. The archaeologist working the site has observed that this fine will help to expand knowledge of the trading contacts and artistic preferences of the region. This fine is yet another example of just how far goods and materials could and did travel from their original sites. While very few Ancient Greeks ever left their home region, their artifacts and materials have been found thousands of miles away, spread through various trade contacts and middle men. Such discoveries as this continue to be made and continue to expand our knowledge of how economy and trade in the ancient world operated.
Most of these stories were brought to my attention through: http://www.ablogabouthistory.com/
First off, I’d like to wish a warm happy birthday 2,765th birthday to the eternal city of Rome (taking the traditional date of founding, being April 21, 753 BCE). Though the areas was inhabited long before that and it is impossible to say for sure when exactly the city itself was founded, sometime in the 8th century BCE does indeed seem likely. However you look at it, 2,765 years is a good long run, especially given how much of that period it has spent as one of the most important and powerful cities in Europe and the Mediterranean. What do you get a city for its 2,765th birthday anyway?
Next up, a new study (Rare Ancient Statue Depicts Topless Female Gladiator) of a nearly 2,000 year old statue of a naked woman with a bandage on her knee indicates that it depicts a female gladiator, holding a sica (a curved short sword) in a pose of victory, perhaps looking down at a defeated opponent. There are numerous reports from ancient historians that women did indeed compete in gladiatorial combat, but this is only the second depiction of one known to exist.
Finally, Egyptian Archaeologists have found 4 rock-hewn tombs in old Alexandria where they were digging in order that the area could be cleared for a residential development, which has been put on hold. Funerary Pots, perfume containers, and a finely decorated clay pot are among the discoveries. Mohamed Mostafa, the directer of Alexandrian antiquities reports that the most important discovery is a Greco-Roman era tomb with an open courtyard and two rocky cylindrical columns in the middle. This discovery increases our knowledge and detail of old Alexandria and indicates that we can still find and learn new things from the ancient world.
Shortly after the ascension of Jesus Christ, Saint Mark of Alexandria began to instruct the people of Alexandria in the teachings of Jesus. Christianity took hold in Alexandria and quickly spread throughout Egypt. By the 3rd Century AD, Christianity was the major religion of the area and the Church of Alexandria became one of the original four Apostolic Sees, second only to Rome. Sean McLachlan reports on the discovery an ancient Christian city in Egypt for Gadling.
An ancient Christian city dating to the fourth century AD has been discovered in Egypt.
Archaeologists digging at the Ain al-Sabil area of the New Valley Governorate have discovered the remains of a basilica and buildings to serve the priests. This is the first excavation at the site and researchers hope more discoveries will be made under the Egyptian sands.
Egyptian Christians trace their history back to just after the Crucifixion, when Saint Mark preached in the country. Called the Copts, these Christians make up anywhere from 5-23% of the population. Estimates vary so widely because the actual number is a politically contentious issue. Most sources agree that about 10% is the correct figure, meaning slightly more than 8 million people.