Sunday, April 29, 2012
The discovery is believed to be the largest of its kind since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, an archaeologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told reporters in late March, according to the Associated Press. The Buddha statues—most of which are made of white marble and limestone and many of which are broken—could date back to the Eastern Wei and Northern Qi dynasties (A.D. 534 to 577), experts say.
The statues—discovered during a dig outside of Ye, the ancient capital of the Eastern Wei and Northern Qi dynasties—may have been rounded up and buried after the fall of the Northern Qi dynasty by later emperors in an attempt to purge the country of Buddhism. "It may have been that some of the ruins and broken sculptures from the past were gathered from old temple sites and buried in a pit," said Katherine Tsiang, director of the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago.
In some cases, the Buddhist statues may have been buried by the faithful themselves in times of danger. "In other sites, there are inscriptions that suggest that old damaged sculptures were not just dumped in a pit, but respectfully buried in an orderly way," Tsiang said.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Unpredicted medieval reserves have been exposed in a weighty at one of the UK's most gorgeous abbeys beside with the bones of the abbot they belonged to – almost certainly a well-fed, petite exercised man in his 40s who suffered from arthritis and type 2 diabetes. The discoveries were made at Furness Abbey, on the fringes of Barrow in Cumbria, a place that in its day was one of the most powerful and richest Cistercian abbeys in the country.
Archaeologists found a silver-gilt crozier (a kind of staff of office) and a jeweled ring in significant condition. "This is a very rare find which underlines the abbey's status as one of the great power bases of the middle ages," said Kevin Booth, senior curator at English Heritage.
The discoveries were only made because stabilization work was needed at the abbey, with wooden foundations giving way and cracks appearing in the walls. Through excavations by Oxford Archeology North to investigate the seriousness of the problem, members of the team came across the undisturbed grave of the abbot together with his personal paraphernalia.
Curator Susan Harrison said it was particularly surprising because the grave had not been disturbed by 16th-century post-dissolution robbers, or Victorian and Edwardian gentlemen antiquarians. Everyone had missed it until now. The crozier is unusual and the first to be excavated in this country for 50 years. It has a central gilded silver plaque which shows the archangel Michael slaying a dragon with his sword.
The ring – quite large, probably for a man with big or chubby fingers – is likely to have been given to the abbot on his consecration. "It is an unusual ring," said Harrison. "The bezel is a pyramid shape and is pointed – it would stick in to your finger. You would have felt it when you wore it and it might have been a reminder of the piety of the office."
It is also possible that the ring might have held a relic in place on the abbot's finger. An examination of the skeleton has shown he was big, overweight, probably aged between 40 and 50, arthritic and "had a decent way of living", said Harrison. There is also evidence that he had later-onset diabetes.
Harrison said the finds were exciting and would help us learn more about Cistercian burial practices in general and Furness Abbey in particular. The abbey, an inspiration for both Wordsworth and Turner, was founded in the early 12th century by Stephen, later king of England. By the time Henry VIII ordered its dissolution in 1537 it was the second richest in England. The crozier and ring will now go on display at the abbey over the spring bank holiday.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Division of the ancient Greek court Palladion, which tried murder cases from Classical until the Roman Ages, was exposed beside with changeable findings in downtown Athens.
In the 60′s, archaeologist Ioannis Travlos exposed another part of the court, together with the entrance. But now, excavations provide fascinating clues about the court’s function. The lodge found in the southern part of the court is supposed to be the hearing process room.
Palladion Court, according to antique Greek myth, was devoted to Goddess Athena in memory of her friend Pallada. The Greek Goddess injured her friend unintentionally while they were jointly, resulting in death.
As for the stirring items, pottery ballot boxes and coins puzzle the image of the ancient court. Judges may have had to vote for the naive or culpable by choosing one of the two ballot boxes to throw their inscribed vote in.
Only cases of manslaughter were tried in the court. Murders characterized as “fair,” such as those caused due to wars or adultery, were tried in the Delphinion Court.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Highlights from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual meeting, Portland, Ore., April 11-14
Stone Age Southeast Asians:
Researchers have exposed the oldest known human remains in Southeast Asia, a partial human skull dating to at least 40,000 years ago. Excavations at Tam Pa Ling cave in northern Laos produced a dozen pieces from a Stone Age person’s skull, including a skullcap and a lower jaw, anthropologist Laura Shackelford of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported April 14. Small front teeth, a rounded brain case and other traits identify the reassembled fossil as a modern Homo sapiens, Shackelford said. The find supports proposals that at least some human migrations out of Africa around 100,000 years ago followed a southern route that led to Southeast Asia.
Neandertal ancestors speak up:
A proposed ancestor of Neandertals and Homo sapiens that lived around 500,000 years ago in a mountainous part of what’s now Spain may have had the gift of gab. A new analysis of a Homo heidelbergensis individual’s skull and upper spine bones, as well as a horseshoe-shaped neck bone called the hyoid, suggests that this long-extinct species could have produced speech sounds, paleontologist Ignacio Martínez of the University of Alcalá, Spain, reported on April 12. Humanlike inner ear bones made it possible for H. heidelbergensis to hear conversational speech, Martinez said. “We don’t know if H. heidelbergensis spoke, but it possessed anatomical characteristics for efficient production and perception of speech,” he concluded.
Cannibals and cave graves:
Neandertals cannibalized three of their own and buried them in a European cave around 40,000 years ago, anthropologist Hélène Rougier of California State University Northridge reported April 14. Rougier’s team discovered 75 Neandertal bones and teeth that had been stored with animal bones following excavations at Belgium’s Goyet cave more than a century ago. Incisions on the Neandertal fossils match those on bones from animals butchered by Neandertals at the cave. Goyet Neandertals may have been consumed as part of a ritual or purely for food, Rougier proposed. Evidence suggests that simple burials occurred at Goyet and nearby caves visited by Neandertals, she said.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The current journeying and elucidation of the so-called "Resurrection Tomb" in Jerusalem churns in argument, but there is only one way to look at how the technocrats talented the exploit of inflowing the now-famous tomb.
The "Resurrection Tomb", strictly referred to as the "Talpiot B" or "Patio Tomb" by the scholar-investigators who discovered and scrutinized it in 2010, was undertaken under the co-directorship of Professor Jame B. Tabor of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and Professor Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska, Omaha, beneath a authorize from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). But it could not have been talented without the technical proficiency, inventive capacities, and planning of the technicians and engineers who designed the unique robotic camera system that was used to explore the tomb's contents without disturbing the remains.
The rock-cut tomb intricate, which contained funerary ossuaries or "bone boxes" typical of burial practices of the well-to-do in the Jerusalem area of the first centuries B.C. and A.D., lies preserved beneath an apartment block. Among other things, the cameras captured inscriptions and images that, according to the principal investigators, suggested possible examples of the earliest Christian art or representation, depicting the concept of a resurrection, a core belief of Christianity. Although the interpretation of the finds is steeped in dispute among scholars, the art could predate by at least 200 years the earliest Christian symbols now known to exist in the catacombs of Rome.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Harvard University skilled anthropologist and head of the Paleontological Research Corporation, Dr. Joel Klenck, conducted a study of Bedouin sacrificial rituals that expose a diversity of beliefs in Arab populations in the Levant. Sponsored by a endowment from the Joe Alon Museum, Klenck conducted a study of Bedouin sacrificial rituals completed in 2012 and featured in a imminent magazine.
Rarely exposed by Western researchers, Arab pastoral travelers observe several types of sacrificial rituals other than the main banquet of forgo or “Id al ‘Adha” that occurs the tenth day of the Hadj or “Dhul Hijjah” and is practiced by all observing Muslims. Three other rituals include sacrifices to morale or “ginn”, ritual slaughters to ward off curses and bless newly married couples, and commemorations to deceased family members.
Another type of sacrifice practiced by Bedouin in the Levant comprises sacrifices to a “weli” or respected person. Klenck states, “Bedouin sacrifice sheep, goats, cattle and sporadically a camel to a weli to redeem vows, incur healing, give thanks or insure fertility. Individuals performing the sacrifices believe the weli will act as a mediator between them and Allah to facilitate their requests.” Around 1771, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, a cleric who traveled throughout Saudi Arabia and Iraq, began to influence the ruler of Dara’iya, Muhammad Ibn Sa’ud, whose tribe created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
The religious leader al-Wahhab formed a movement that denounced Bedouin believing in the special powers of a weli, punished individuals performing sacrificial rituals to these revered persons and largely eradicated these practices. Although sacrifices to Bedouin saints are mostly forbidden in Saudi Arabia, these rituals continue to be practiced by Muslim pastoral nomads in the Levant and North Africa. Klenck states, “I was able to observe Bedouin venerating the tombs of Sheikh Abu-Hurreira, Ibrahim, Hussein, Falougie, Nebi Musa, and the adjacent sepulchers of Al-Azzam and Al-Nabari.
The sheikhs’ tombs vary in their size, care and decoration. The tombs often feature sticks of wood mostly of palm with white or green cloth tied to each structure. According to the Bedouin, the white cloth represents peace and goodwill and is a beneficial omen for those petitioning Allah through a weli. The Bedouin consider the color green to be very holy as its significance stems from their traditions and because they allege the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad and the Kabbah in Saudi Arabia are covered with green tapestries.
At the tombs the Bedouin often light candles and sometimes leave salt, sugar, matches, and coins in the sacred area.” While Bedouin women perform prayers and light candles at the tombs, the men perform animal sacrifices near the sepulchers. At the tombs of Al-Azzam and Al-Nabari, the trees surrounding the sacred areas exhibit slash marks where Bedouin hang animal carcasses during butchery activities. After the sacrifice, the meat is boiled and everyone participates in the subsequent feast, especially the poor.Several Bedouin stated that in past centuries, individuals left valuable possessions at the sheikh’s tombs knowing that no Bedouin would dare steal from the tomb for fear of being cursed. Klenck concludes, “Studies of Bedouin animal sacrifices reveal a diversity of beliefs and are important in understanding cultures and ritual activities in the Levant.”