Archaeological research in Leiden inner city


This video is called History of the Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden.

Leiden in the Netherlands is quite old. Early in the Middle Ages, there was a burgrave’s castle and a village along the Rhine river. In 1266, it became a city.

During the first months of 2015, there will be digging in the inner city of Leiden, to put underground waste containers in the holes. These underground waste containers replace waste bags which are vulnerable to damage by herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls nesting in the city.

The digging for the containers is an opportunity for archaelogists. In 26 of the inner city holes, archaeologists will look for new discoveries in Leiden medieval history.

A map of places where there will be archaeological research is here.

Archaeology in Confucius’ hometown in China


This video says about itself:

New Discoveries in Chinese Archaeology

19 May 2009

Features some of the most prolific archeological sites in China, including the burial complex of the First Emperor of China and Sanxingdui.

From the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden, the Netherlands:

The following IIAS Lunch Lecture is by Yi WANG. She will talk about the archaeological survey project named “Landscape, Ruins, and Memory: Archaeological Survey in the Wen-Si Region” (2010).

From Landscape to Spectacle: Archaeology in Confucius‘ Hometown

Date & time
20 January 2015, 12.30 – 14.00 hrs

Venue
IIAS, Conference Room, Rapenburg 59, Leiden

The lecture

Qufu city (35°36’ N, 117°02’ E, Shandong province, China), located on the hills area traversed by the Wen and Si rivers, is well known in China as Confucius’ (551~479 BC) hometown, and the purported birthplace of the legendary Yellow Emperor. The lineage of Duke Zhou, who was regarded as the cultural model by Confucius, established Qufu as the capital city of Lu State (11th c. ~ 256 BC). Peaks on this hilly terrain, which used to be treated as indigenous sacred sites during the Bronze Age, later were included as the eastern part into the imperial landscape, e.g. 91 kilometers north to the city, located the Mount Tai, which became one of the major destinations for imperial pilgrimage when the Emperor Qin unified the country (221 BC), then was created as the East Great Mountain in Tang dynasty.

Archaeological sites of Neolithic time and Bronze Age have been found now and then in this area during the past century. Archaeological surveys and excavations focused on the site of capital city of Lu State (11th ~3rd c. BC), in which Confucius used to live, had been operated in 1970s, mapped out the spatial structures and urban settlements of this Bronze age city. In 2010, an intensive archaeological survey project named as Landscape, Ruins, and Memory: Archaeological Survey in the Wen-Si Region was initiated with the aim of locating and recording the distribution of Neolithic, Bronze Age and imperial period archaeological sites in the region and of attempting to understand the dynamic transformations in the historical landscape of this region, particularly how was the ruins of the city and its sacred sites incorporated into the cultural spectacle revolved around its memory. This lecture is going to introduce some initial findings and outcome of the first four years work of this project.

Dr Yi WANG is affiliated fellow of IIAS, and assistant professor at the Institute of History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China.

Unknown ancient Egyptian queen’s grave discovered


This video is called Top 10 Female Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.

From the BBC:

5 January 2015 Last updated at 10:01 GMT

Queen Khentakawess III‘s tomb found in Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown queen, Egyptian officials say.

The tomb was found in Abu-Sir, south-west of Cairo, and is thought to belong to the wife or mother of Pharaoh Neferefre who ruled 4,500 years ago.

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said that her name, Khentakawess, had been found inscribed on a wall in the necropolis.

Mr Damaty added that this would make her Khentakawess III.

The tomb was discovered in Pharaoh Neferefre’s funeral complex.

Miroslav Barta, head of the Czech Institute of Egyptology mission which made the discovery, said that the location of the queen’s tomb made them believe that she was the wife of the pharaoh.

The Czech archaeologists also found about 30 utensils made of limestone and copper.

Mr Damaty explained that the discovery would “help us shed light on certain unknown aspects of the Fifth Dynasty, which along with the Fourth Dynasty, witnessed the construction of the first pyramids.”

Abu-Sir was used as an Old Kingdom cemetery for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.

See also here.

Viking vessel discovery in Canada?


This video from Denmark says about itself:

Viking Age Bronze Casting

Traditional bronze casting using a sepia as mould. Made during a workshop held by Jess Vestergaard at Bork Vikingehavn 08/2012.

From Archaeology:

Possible Viking Vessel Identified in Canada

Thursday, December 18, 2014

OTTAWA, CANADA—Traces of bronze and glass have been detected on a piece of a small, 1,000-year-old stone vessel recovered from Baffin Island in the 1960s. According to Patricia Sutherland of the University of Aberdeen, Peter Thompson of Peter H. Thompson Geological Consulting, Ltd., and Patricia Hunt of the Geological Survey of Canada, who published their findings in the journal Geoarchaeology, the container was used as a crucible for melting bronze and casting small tools or ornaments. The glass formed when the rock was heated to high temperatures. Indigenous peoples of the Canadian Arctic did not practice high-temperature metalworking at this time, but a similar stone crucible has been found at a Viking site in Norway.

“The crucible adds an intriguing new element to this emerging chapter in the early history of northern Canada. It may be the earliest evidence of high-temperature nonferrous metalworking in North America to the north of what is now Mexico,” Sutherland told Sci-News.com. To read in-depth about some of the earliest evidence of Viking warfare, see “The First Vikings.”

Sobibor nazi gas chambers discovered, archaeologist interviewed


This September 2014 video is called Archaeologists Uncover Buried Gas Chambers At Sobibor Death Camp.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Digging for the gas chambers of Sobibor

Leiden archaeologist Ivar Schute recently discovered the foundations of the gas chambers of Sobibor extermination camp. “The Holocaust is almost incomprehensible. This work makes it tangible.” What use were his archaeology studies for this?

What is the reason for this excavation at Sobibor?

“There will be a new museum and a symbolic path to the place where the camp once was. For a long time one could hardly see anything there: after the great prisoners’ escape in 1943 the Germans broke down the camp and planted trees to cover the tracks of their crimes. The site is an international project of Israel, Poland, the Netherlands and Slovakia. These are the countries where most of the victims came from. In World War II, nearly 35,000 Dutch people were transported from Westerbork to Sobibor. After Auschwitz this is the largest Dutch mass grave.”

How did you got involved?

“I was asked because I have experience with excavations at the Westerbork camp, Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen. With three other archaeologists, I am reconstructing the path that the people walked at that time after arrival. From the train station to the gas chambers.”

How did you discover the fundamentals of the gas chambers?

“We used drawings of refugee survivors and we have dug carefully. Without machines, because there are so many human remains. The graves should be disturbed as little as possible, the field work is supervised by a rabbi. Bit by bit we could reconstruct the camp because extermination camps often had the same format. First we localized the barber barracks and the so-called Himmelfahrtstrasse, the road to the place where they were gassed. Then you know it must be the gas chambers at the end thereof. After removing the asphalt we found the foundations of the chambers.”

Who: Ivar Schute (1966)

Study: Archaeology (1984 – 1992, worked already during study) …

Favourite place in Leiden: “I live in the Witte Rozenstraat. At number 57 is the house where the physicist Paul Ehrenfest lived and where Albert Einstein often came to visit.

Paul Ehrenfest was from an Austrian Jewish family. His Witte Rozenstraat 57 home was designed by his wife, Tatyana Alexeyevna Afanasyeva. She was a mathematician. Born in Ukraine (then part of the Russian empire), she became a member of the Bolshevik tendency of the Russian Social Democratic Party; later of the Communist Party.

Around the corner is ‘t Kasteeltje, the villa at the Jan van Goyenkade 44. There lived a former classmate of Einstein whom he visited when he was in Leiden. Intriguing places, but I’ve never been in there.”

What does this work do emotionally with you?

“It’s a very intense experience. During the excavation, I can focus well on the work, but of course it does not leave me unmoved. I dug there for two months and returned to the Netherlands, the images in my head. It gets a niche by talking a lot about it. The Holocaust is almost beyond comprehension, but this work makes it tangible. We found many human remains and personal belongings such as glasses and crockery that mainly came from Dutch Jews. They lived up to the last under the assumption that they were going to a labour camp and had brought precious belongings. A very painful discovery.”

How did you get involved in war archeology?

“As a little boy I already wanted to be an archaeologist, I was always looking for shards. I graduated about prehistoric times, but because of stories by my grandparents I am also interested in World War II. Until a decade ago, archaeologists spent very little attention on this period. Because it is relatively recent and because there are so many sources. I and another archaeologist tried hard to really get attention for it. Excavations can provide new information indeed. About many camps it is not known what they looked like and therefore it is not known what is the location of the gas chambers and the mass graves. That you only can only identify in an archaeological way.”

Which skills gained during your study come in handy for this work?

“I had a very good field training and already as a student I could lead major excavations. We learned to be very critical and careful: you can only do an excavation well once. Thanks to my former teacher Martin Verbruggen, an expert in physical geography, I know how important it is to look at a spot from the whole landscape development in that area. Then you will understand better how an area became as it is now. That way of archeology is not obvious. Many archaeologists do not look beyond the limit of the hole.”

What is the best advice you ever received?

“When I graduated professor Louwe Kooijmans said to me: “You have to get more contacts in society.” He meant that I was still too restless for science. I went to work for the archaeological research bureau RAAP where I still work for. Through this work, I got in touch with all kinds of people, from farmer to developer, with diverse interests. That way I learned to make trade-offs, but also to improvise and to work on solutions. It was good advice by Kooijmans!”

(December 18, 2014 – LvP)