ISIS destruction of Palmyra, Syria not total


This Associated Press video says about itself:

Raw: Drone Footage Captures Palmyra Ruins, City

27 March 2016

Russian state television footage from Palmyra on Sunday, as well as drone video obtained from the Syrian Military Media Centre, showed aerials of what remained of the ancient city after the Islamic State group (IS) was forced from the area.

From Associated Press:

By Albert Aji and Philip Issa

DAMASCUS, Syria — Mar 28, 2016, 1:25 AM ET

The recapture of the ancient city of Palmyra by Syrian government forces scores an important victory over Islamic State fighters who waged a 10-month reign of terror there and marks the first major defeat for the extremist group since an international agreement to battle terrorism in the fractured nation took effect last year.

The city known to Syrians as the “Bride of the Desert” is famous for its 2,000-year-old ruins that once drew tens of thousands of visitors each year before the Islamic State group destroyed many of the monuments.

The extent of the destruction remained unclear after government troops took the town in central Syria on Sunday. Initial footage on Syrian state TV showed widespread rubble and shattered statues. But Palmyra’s grand colonnades appeared to be in relatively good condition. …

International airstrikes have pounded IS territory, killing two top leaders in recent weeks, according to the Pentagon. Those strikes have also inflicted dozens of civilian casualties. …

IS drove government forces from Palmyra in a matter of days last May and later demolished some of its best-known monuments, including two large temples dating back more than 1,800 years and a Roman triumphal archway.

State TV showed the rubble left over from the destruction of the Temple of Bel as well as the damaged archway, the supports of which were still standing. It said a statue of Zenobia, the third century queen who ruled an independent state from Palmyra and figures strongly in Syrian lore, was missing.

Artifacts inside the city’s museum also appeared heavily damaged on state TV. A sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena was decapitated, and the museum’s basement appeared to have been dynamited, the hall littered with broken statues.

Still, state media reported that a lion statue dating back to the second century, previously thought to have been destroyed by IS militants, was found in a damaged but recoverable condition.

Extremists beheaded the archaeological site’s 81-year-old director, Riad al-Asaad, in August after he reportedly refused to divulge where authorities had hidden some of the treasures before the group swept in. IS militants view the ruins as monuments to idolatry. …

Maamoun Abdulkarim, director of the museums and antiquities department in Damascus, said Palmyra’s Great Colonnade had suffered only minor damage. “We will rebuild what you have destroyed,” he said, addressing IS.

USA: Kerry sought to ‘send a message’ to Assad via cruise missile strikes against Syrian government positions but Obama refused proposal: here.

Russia is withdrawing from Syria – and the U.S. should follow suit: here.

‘Shakespeare’s skull was stolen’


This video from England says about itself:

TRAILER: Shakespeare’s Tomb | Saturday 8pm | Channel 4

21 March 2016

William Shakespeare‘s grave has long been subject to rumour and intrigue, but has never been investigated, until now

Find out more here.

From the BBC:

Shakespeare‘s skull ‘probably stolen’ from Stratford grave

23 March 2016

A hi-tech investigation of William Shakespeare‘s grave has concluded his skull was probably stolen.

The discovery gives credence to a news report in 1879, later dismissed as fiction, that trophy hunters took the skull from his shallow grave in 1794.

A team used a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) scan to look through the grave at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford in the first archaeological probe of the site.

It allowed investigators to see below ground without disturbing the grave.

Archaeologist Kevin Colls of Staffordshire University, who carried out the project with leading geophysicist Erica Utsi, concluded: “We have Shakespeare’s burial with an odd disturbance at the head end and we have a story that suggests that at some point in history someone’s come in and taken the skull of Shakespeare.

“It’s very, very convincing to me that his skull isn’t at Holy Trinity at all.”

The investigation was carried out to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

The documentary Secret History: Shakespeare’s Tomb will be shown on Channel 4 on Saturday 26 March at 20:00 BST.

The playwright’s final resting place has long been the subject of argument among historians and archaeologists, because it is too short for an adult burial.

It also carries no name, only the chilling curse: “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.”

Key findings of the investigation

Evidence of a significant repair to the head end of the grave, leading to the theory that it was needed to correct a sinking of the floor possibly caused by a previous disturbance

The repair gives new credence to a story published in The Argosy magazine in 1879 claiming Shakespeare’s skull was stolen from his shallow grave

The survey found the playwright, his wife Anne Hathaway and other relatives were not buried in a large family vault deep underground, as has long been thought, but in shallow graves beneath the church floor

Shakespeare and his wife’s graves are less than a metre deep

His grave was found to be significantly longer than his short stone – extending west towards the head end, making it the same size as the other family graves

The GPR also found no evidence of metal in the area of the grave, such as coffin nails, suggesting they were not buried in coffins but simply wrapped in winding sheets, or shrouds, and buried in soil

Investigators went to another church, St Leonard’s, in Beoley, Worcestershire, where legend has it a mysterious skull in a sealed crypt is that of Shakespeare‘s.

A forensic anthropological analysis revealed it to belong to an unknown woman who was in her 70s when she died.

Mr Colls said: “It was a great honour to be the first researcher to be given permission to undertake non-invasive archaeological investigations at the grave of William Shakespeare.

“With projects such as this, you never really know what you might find, and of course there are so many contradictory myths and legends about the tomb of the Bard.

“The amazing project team, using state-of-the-art equipment, has produced astonishing results which are much better than I dared hoped for, and these results will undoubtedly spark discussion, scholarly debate and controversial theories for years to come. Even now, thinking of the findings sends shivers down my spine.”

Queen Nefertiti discovered in Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s grave?


This video says about itself:

Hidden Chamber in King Tut’s Tomb May Contain Nefertiti

11 August 2015

A researcher claims to have found a ‘ghost’ doorway hiding beneath the plaster on the wall of the burial chamber, which he believes leads to the tomb of the ruler’s supposed mother, Queen Nefertiti.

By Rossella Lorenzi:

Hidden King Tut Rooms May Contain Metal, Organics

March 17, 2016 07:20 AM ET

The tomb of King Tutankhamun conceals two rooms that could contain metal or organic material, Egypt’s antiquities minister said Thursday.

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty told a press conference that analysis of radar scans carried out by Japanese specialist Hirokatsu Watanabu revealed two hidden spaces on the north and eastern walls of the 3,300-year-old tomb.

“Furthermore, based on the GPR data, curves that might indicate doors were also detected above the cavities, which can be seen as an entrance to those cavities,” al-Damaty said.

Who Else May Be in King Tut’s Tomb?

The metal and organic material possibly revealed by the scans strongly suggest to the presence of a another burial, boostering a claim by Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist at the University of Arizona.

In July 2015 Reeves published a paper arguing that high-resolution images of the tomb’s walls show “distinct linear traces” pointing to the presence of two still unexplored chambers.

“It does look from the radar evidence as if the tomb of Tutankhamun is a corridor tomb and it continues beyond the decorated burial chamber,” Reeves said at a press conference last November.

King Tut’s Tomb May Hide Nefertiti’s Secret Grave

According to Reeves, one hidden chamber would contain the remains, and possibly the intact grave goods, of queen Nefertiti, wife of the “heretic” monotheistic pharaoh Akhenaten, Tutankhamun’s father.

Reeves speculated that the tomb of King Tut was not ready when he died unexpectedly at 19 in 1323 B.C., after having ruled a short reign of nine to 10 years. Consequently, he was buried in a rush in what was originally the tomb of Nefertiti, who had died 10 years earlier.

According to al-Damaty, the hidden chambers could contain the tomb of a member of King Tut’s family. However, he did not speculate on Nefertiti.

Weird Facts About King Tut and His Mummy

New scans will be conducted later this month to reconstruct the exact size of the chambers and the best way to proceed with the investigation.

According to al-Damaty, multiple steps are planned in coming months to unveil new clues about the secrets of King Tut.

“It’s a rediscovery that might lead us to the discovery of the century,” al-Damaty said.

Ancient settlement discovery in England


This video from Britain says about itself:

13 October 2014

Archaeology students from the University of Hull have carried out an archaeological dig on the Yorkshire Wolds in East Yorkshire, over the summer of 2014.

Students discovered a great amount of exciting finds at this Iron Age site including a miniature axe, a bone needle, pottery and – perhaps most exciting – an Arras burial.

Hull and its surroundings is a region of superb archaeological wealth. There are few better regions in Britain to study archaeology. The countryside of Eastern Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire contains a wealth of archaeological remains, and its historic centres, such as Hull and Beverley, provide well preserved evidence for the development of medieval townscapes.

For many students, fieldwork is one of the highlights of their degree, and at Hull we regard field teaching as a vital part of our courses.

For more information about studying at Archaeology at the University of Hull visit www.hull.ac.uk/archaeology.

From the Hull Daily Mail in England:

Iron Age settlement discovered in Pocklington of ‘national significance’

By HDMJCampbell

March 17, 2016

A 2,500-year-old settlement has been discovered during work on a housing development in Pocklington.

The Iron Age find has been described as of ‘national significance’.

The site includes more than 75 square barrows that contained 180 skeletons from the Arras Culture – a group of people who lived in the region in the Middle Iron Age as far back as 800BC.

The excavation at the David Wilson Homes development has already revealed objects including a sword, shield and 10 spears, as well as more than 360 amber and glass beads, brooches and ancient pots.

A major focus area of the archaeological analysis will concentrate on whether the population is indigenous or migrants from the continent.

The skeletons found are a mixture of men, women and children.

Paula Ware, managing director at MAP Archaeological Practice, said: “To date, the east of Yorkshire has the largest concentration of ‘Arras Culture’ square barrows, and naturally these findings have helped to strengthen this.

“On the whole this is a hugely important discovery and is a fine example of what can be revealed and discovered if house developers and archaeologists work hand-in-hand to reveal the nation’s hidden history.”

David Wilson Homes found the settlement at its Pavilion Square development after it started work in September 2014. The discovery will be officially announced on BBC Four’s Digging for Britain at 8pm tonight.

Peter Morris, development director at David Wilson Homes, said: “These findings are of national significance and could help shape our understanding of the ‘Arras Culture’ and indeed the Iron Age as a whole.

“At present we are still at the early analytical stages of reviewing these findings, however we do understand that this discovery is very rare and of international importance.”

Early medieval Muslim graves discovery in France


Early medieval Muslim grave in Nimes, France

From PLOS ONE:

Early Medieval Muslim Graves in France: First Archaeological, Anthropological and Palaeogenomic Evidence

February 24, 2016

Abstract

The rapid Arab-Islamic conquest during the early Middle Ages led to major political and cultural changes in the Mediterranean world. Although the early medieval Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula is now well documented, based in the evaluation of archeological and historical sources, the Muslim expansion in the area north of the Pyrenees has only been documented so far through textual sources or rare archaeological data.

Our study provides the first archaeo-anthropological testimony of the Muslim establishment in the South of France through the multidisciplinary analysis of three graves excavated at Nîmes. First, we argue in favor of burials that followed Islamic rites and then note the presence of a community practicing Muslim traditions in Nîmes.

Second, the radiometric dates obtained from all three human skeletons (between the 7th and the 9th centuries AD) echo historical sources documenting an early Muslim presence in southern Gaul (i.e., the first half of 8th century AD).

Finally, palaeogenomic analyses conducted on the human remains provide arguments in favor of a North African ancestry of the three individuals, at least considering the paternal lineages. Given all of these data, we propose that the skeletons from the Nimes burials belonged to Berbers integrated into the Umayyad army during the Arab expansion in North Africa. Our discovery not only discusses the first anthropological and genetic data concerning the Muslim occupation of the Visigothic territory of Septimania but also highlights the complexity of the relationship between the two communities during this period.

The people in the graves had not been killed in battle, and had been buried carefully.

See also here.

Viking buckle discovery in the Netherlands


The Oudewater viking buckle, photo by Caio Haars

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Viking buckle found in Oudewater

Today, 12:54

Amateur archaeologist Caio Haars from Oudewater found three weeks ago a buckle from the Viking Age, reports RTV Utrecht. He found it with his metal detector.

The buckle is from the 10th to the 12th century. Typical are the inwardly rolled rank ornaments. The lion’s head with outstretched tongue (buckle thorn) was often used in the Nordic art world, especially in sculptures in churches.

The buckle will be exhibited in the town hall of Oudewater. The amateur archaeologist does not say where he made his discovery. He fears that other people will scour the meadows. Farmers may be affected by that, he says.