Posts Tagged ‘Archeology’

For more than fifteen years, Thierry Jamin, French Archaeologist and adventurer, explores the jungles of South Peru in every possible direction, searching for clues of the permanent presence of the Incas in the Amazonian forest, and the legendary lost city of Paititi.
After the discovery of about thirty incredible archeological sites, located in the North of the department of Cuzco, between 2009 and 2011, which include several fortresses, burial and ceremonial, centers, and small Inca cities composed by hundreds of buildings, and many streets, passages, squares…, Thierry Jamin embarks on an incredible journey in Machu Picchu.

A few months ago, Thierry Jamin and his team think they have realized an extraordinary archaeological discovery in the Inca city discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. This discovery was made possible thanks to the testimony of a French engineer who lives in Barcelona-Spain, David Crespy. In 2010, while he was visiting the lost city, David Crespy noticed the presence of a strange “shelter” located in the heart of the city, at the bottom of one of the main buildings.

For him, there was no doubt about it, he was looking at a “door”, an entrance sealed by the Incas. In August, 2011, David Crespy, found by chance an article about Thierry Jamin and his work in the French newspaper the Figaro magazine. Immediately he decided to contact the French researcher.

Thierry Jamin, who has investigated several burial sites in the North of Cusco, listened carefully the story of David Crespy. Quickly he wants to confirm the facts behind the story. Accompanied by archaeologists of the Regional Office of the Culture in Cusco, he was able to visit the site several times. His preliminary findings are unequivocal: it is indeed an entrance, blocked by the Incas at an undetermined moment of History. This one is strangely similar to a burial site, such as the ones Thierry Jamin and his companions often find in the valleys of Lacco and Chunchusmayo.

In order to confirm the existence of cavities in the basement of the building, in December 2011 Thierry and his team submit and official request to the Ministry of Culture in Lima, to perform a geophysical survey with the help of electromagnetic (EM) conductivity instruments. This license was granted a few months later.

Realized between April 9th and April 12th 2012, the electromagnetic survey not only confirmed the presence of an underground room but several! Just Behind the famous entrance, a staircase was also discovered. The two main paths seem to lead to specific chambers, including to the main squared one. The different techniques used by the French researcher(s), (Molecular Frequencies Discriminator) allowed them to highlight the presence of important archaeological material, including deposits of metal and a large quantity of gold and silver!

Thierry Jamin is now preparing the next step: the opening of the entrance sealed by the Incas more than five centuries ago. On May 22nd 2012, he officially submitted a request for authorization to the Peruvian authorities which would allow his team to proceed with the opening of the burial chambers.

This project, “Machu Picchu 2012″, is now extended to a period of six months. At stake, an extraordinary archaeological treasure and some new revelations about the forgotten History of the Inca Empire. Soon you will see Machu Picchu from a brand new perspective…

By HeritageDaily

Image: Tlaloc
Archaeologists surprised to find 150 skulls lined up in the middle of nowhere
Archaeologists have unearthed a trove of skulls in Mexico that may have once belonged to human sacrifice victims. The skulls, which date between the year 600 and 850, may also shatter existing notions about the ancient culture of the area.

The find, described in the January issue of the journal Latin American Antiquity, was located in an otherwise empty field that once held a vast lake, but was miles from the nearest major city of the day, said study co-author Christopher Morehart, an archaeologist at Georgia State University.

“It’s absolutely remarkable to think about this little nothing on the landscape having potentially evidence of the largest mass human sacrifice in ancient Mesoamerica,” Morehart said.

Middle of nowhere
Morehart and his colleagues were using satellite imagery to map ancient canals, irrigation channels and lakes that used to surround the kingdom of Teotihuacan (home to the Pyramid of the Sun), about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Mexico City. The vast ancient kingdom flourished from around the year 200 to 650, though who built it remains a mystery. [In Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World]

In a now-drained lake called Lake Xaltocan, around which was essentially rural farmland at the time, Morehart stumbled upon a site with evidence of looting.

When the team investigated, they discovered lines of human skulls with just one or two vertebra attached. To date, more than 150 skulls have been discovered there. The site also contained a shrine with incense burners, water-deity figurines and agricultural pottery, such as corncob depictions, suggesting a ritual purpose tied to local farming. [See images from the grisly excavation]

Carbon dating suggested that the skulls were at least 1,100 years old, and the few dozen analyzed so far are mostly from men, Morehart told LiveScience. The researchers did not release photos of the skulls because the sacrifice victims may have historic ties to modern-day indigenous cultures.

The findings shake up existing notions of the culture of the day, because the site is not associated with Teotihuacan or other regional powers, said Destiny Crider, an archaeologist at Luther College in Iowa, who was not involved in the study.

Big event in a little place
Human sacrifice was practiced throughout the region, both at Teotihuacan and in the later Aztec Empire, but most of those rituals happened at great pyramids within cities and were tied to state powers.

By contrast, “this one is a big event in a little place,” Crider said.

The shrines and the fact that sacrifice victims were mostly male suggest that they were carefully chosen, not simply the result of indiscriminate slaughter of a whole village, Crider told LiveScience.

Many researchers believe that massive drought caused the fall of Teotihuacan and ushered in a period of warfare and political infighting as smaller regional powers sprang up, Morehart said. Crider said those tumultuous times could have spurred innovative — and bloody — practices.

“Maybe they needed to intensify their activities because everything was changing,” she said. “When things are uncertain, you try new strategies.

By Tia Ghose

UK dig discovers 9,000-year-old remains

Posted: January 22, 2013 by phaedrap1 in News, Science
Tags: ,


Archaeologists have proved for the first time that people started living in the Didcot area as early as 9,000 years ago.

UK dig discovers 9,000-year-old remains
View of the excavation site at Great Western Park [Credit: Herald Series]

Oxford Archaeology has been excavating land at Great Western Park, where more than 3,300 homes are being built, to detail the site’s history.

The two-and-a-half-year dig has uncovered the remains of a Roman villa, and early Bronze Age arrowheads which will now go on display.

Rob Masefield – director of archaeology at RPS Planning, which is managing the investigation – said one of the most important discoveries was hundreds of flints dating back over 9,000 years to the Mesolithic period.

He said: “There might have been one or two finds from the Mesolithic period in the past but they have not been scientifically dated in such a significant way before – these were working flints used around campfires about 9,000 years ago.

UK dig discovers 9,000-year-old remains
One of the flint arrowheads found at the dig [Credit: Herald Series]

“This is one of the largest and most significant archaeological projects to have taken place in Oxfordshire in recent years, with results providing a detailed historical narrative for Didcot and the surrounding area that extends back deep into prehistory.”

Oxford Archaeology project manager Steve Lawrence, who is based in Osney Mead, Oxford, added: “The site demonstrates about 1,000 years of continuous settlement.”

Key finds include Bronze Age arrowheads from a ceremonial pond barrow burial mound, and a piece of Roman pottery featuring a face design.

Investigations launched in 2011 unearthed early prehistoric finds including a complete Neolithic bowl of the earliest farmers, dating to about 3600 BC.

UK dig discovers 9,000-year-old remains
Part of a pottery figure [Credit: Herald Series]

And excavations last year revealed a rare example of a late Neolithic to early Bronze Age pond barrow, from about 2000 BC.

The dig also located a large hillcrest Iron Age settlement, west of Stephen Freeman Primary School, with up to 60 roundhouses.

There were also hundreds of grain storage pits, human burials, domestic rubbish, pottery dumps and animal bones.

The Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot is staging an exhibition about the dig, from February 7 to March 3.

Author: Andrew French | Source: Herald Series [January 22, 2013]


A restoration of the ancient Colosseum in Rome has revealed previously unseen red, blue and green frescoes, a world away from its famous monochrome facade.

Another discovery of the recent restoration of an internal passageway is a selection of graffiti and drawings of phallic symbols.

Experts believe some of the graffiti may date from the 3rd century, after the Colosseum was restored following a fire in AD 217.

Brightly coloured fragments of frescoes were found during a restoration of a passageway inside the ColosseumBrightly coloured fragments of frescoes were found during a restoration of a passageway inside the Colosseum

A restorer stands in front a wall with remains of frescoes and graffiti A restorer stands in front a wall with remains of frescoes and graffiti


The findings were part of a long-delayed restoration of Rome's ColosseumThe findings were part of a long-delayed restoration of Rome’s Colosseum

The findings paint an all together more colourful appearance than archeologists had previously thought of the famous 50,000-seat amphitheatre.

The discoveries were announced today, and officials have said the passageway will be open to the public later on this year.

The frescoes were found in a passageway situated between the second and third levels of the Colosseum.

This is the highest level of seating, and is a wooden gallery reserved for the lowest classes and furthest from the action in the arena.

Huge amounts of calcified rock and dirt had hidden the frescoes, which were revealed during a cleaning and restoration project, which began in November.

The ancient graffiti, seen here in red in the background, was another discovery of the restorationThe ancient graffiti, seen here in red in the background, was another discovery of the restoration


The frescoes were hidden under decades of calcified rock and grime, and were revealed after the surfaces were cleanedThe frescoes were hidden under decades of calcified rock and grime, and were revealed after the surfaces were cleaned

Archaeologist Alessandro Danesi shows brightly coloured fragments of frescoes inside a corridor of the ColosseumArchaeologist Alessandro Danesi shows brightly coloured fragments of frescoes inside a corridor of the Colosseum


The traces confirm that while the Colosseum today is known as a mix of monochrome gray rock, red brick and moss-covered marble, its interior halls used to be a multitude of colours.


It was built between 72 and 80 AD and was originally used for gladiator contests, and re-enacting sea battles.

It was the largest ever built in the Roman Empire, and was built of concrete and stone.

In its heyday it could seat 50,000 spectators on three tiers of seating.

The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era.

It was then used for a variety of purposes, including housing and and a Christian shrine.

The exterior of the building is visited by millions of tourists each year.

The team also discovered ancient sketches by spectators who painted crowns and palm trees, symbols of victory celebrating the success of gladiators they supported.

The Latin word ‘VIND’, referring to victory or revenge, was also found.

‘We’re used to thinking that during excavations, archaeological surprises are a risk for builders and for the city’s development,’ said Rome archaeological heritage superintendent Mariarosaria Barbera.

‘This is a beautiful archaeological surprise Even in a monument as well known as this one, studied all over the world, there are still new things to discover.’

Colosseum director Rosella Rea said less than one per cent of the painted surfaces of the Colosseum remain.

‘The insides, the galleries, all the corridors and transverse hallways were completely coloured. We need to imagine a building with extreme contrasts of colour, this was a surprise.’

A frescoe reading 'vind' was found - it means victory or revengeA frescoe reading ‘vind’ was found – it means victory or revenge


The traces confirmed that while the Colosseum today is a fairly monochrome colour, it used to have halls decked in colour The traces confirmed that while the Colosseum today is a fairly monochrome colour, it used to have halls decked in colour


Paul Milligan
MailOnline – Over 300 clay figurines have been unearthed by archaeologists from the University of Southampton studying a Neolithic archaeological site of Koutroulou Magoula near the Greek village of Neo Monastiri, around 160 miles from Athens, Greece.

The preliminary excavations and geophysical survey have already revealed the presence of a number of large, stone-built houses, some with paved floors, which were built and rebuilt on the very same spot, over several generations.

Amongst the finds are plain and decorated pottery, stone and bone tools, figurines, animal and plant remains, human bones, and so on. The site is particularly rich in clay figurines (more than 200 to date), some anthropomorphic and some human-animal hybrids.


Small ceramic figurine recovered at the Koutroulou Magoula site. Credit: To Vima

Koutroulou Magoula was occupied during the Middle Neolithic period (c. 5800 – 5300 BC) by a community of a few hundred people who made architecturally sophisticated houses from stone and mud-bricks.


The figurines were found all over the site, with some located on wall foundations. It’s believed the purpose of figurines was not only as aesthetic art, but also to convey and reflect ideas about a community’s culture, society and identity.


“Figurines were thought to typically depict the female form, but our find is not only extraordinary in terms of quantity, but also quite diverse – male, female and non-gender specific ones have been found and several depict a hybrid human-bird figure,” says Professor Yannis Hamilakis, Co-Director of the Koutroulou Magoula Archaeology and Archaeological Ethnography project.

“We still have a lot of work to do studying the figurines, but they should be able to give us an enormous amount of information about how Neolithic people interpreted the human body, their own gender and social identity and experience.”

Excavations at Koutroulou Magoula were started in 2001 by Dr Nina Kyparissi (formerly Greek Archaeological Service) and this latest project began in 2010.


The site is roughly four times the area of a football pitch and consists of a mound up to 18 feet high featuring at least three terraces surrounded by ditches. The people who lived in the settlement appear to have rebuilt their homes on the same building footprint generation after generation, and there is also evidence that some of the houses were unusual in their construction.


Figurine found at the site depicting a hybrid human-bird character. Credit: To Vima

“This type of home would normally have stone foundations with mud-bricks on top, but our investigations at Koutroulou Magoula have found some preserved with stone walls up to a metre in height, suggesting that the walls may have been built entirely of stone, something not typical of the period,” Professor Hamilakis comments.


Credit: To Vima

“The people would have been farmers who kept domestic animals, used flint or obsidian1 tools and had connections with settlements in the nearby area. The construction of parts of the settlement suggests they worked communally, for example, to construct the concentric ditches surrounding their homes.

“There is no evidence of a central authority to date, yet large numbers of people were able to come together and carry out large communal and possibly socially beneficial projects.”

Eight million dog mummies found in Saqqara

Posted: January 8, 2013 by phaedrap1 in News, Science
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Eight million dog mummies were uncovered at the dog catacomb in Saqqara
Ikram with a dog mummy. photo courtesy of NG

During routine excavations at the dog catacomb in Saqqara necropolis, an excavation team led by Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo (AUC), and an international team of researchers led by Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University have uncovered almost 8 million animal mummies at the burial site.

Studies on their bones revealed that those dogs are from different breeds but not accurately identified yet.

“We are recording the animal bones and the mummification techniques used to prepare the animals,” Ikram said.

Studies on the mummies, Ikram explains, revealed that some of them were old while the majority were buried hours after their birth. She said that the mummified animals were not limited to canines but there are cat and mongoose remains in the deposit.

“We are trying to understand how this fits religiously with the cult of Anubis, to whom the catacomb is dedicated,” she added.

Ikram also told National Geographic, which is financing the project, that “in some churches people light a candle, and their prayer is taken directly up to God in that smoke. In the same way, a mummified dog’s spirit would carry a person’s prayer to the afterlife”.

Saqqara dog catacomb was first discovered in 1897 when well-known French Egyptologist Jacques De Morgan published his Carte of Memphite necropolis, with his map showing that there are two dog catacombs in the area.

However, mystery has overshadowed such mapping as it was not clear who was the first to discover the catacombs nor who carried out the mapping, and whether they were really for dogs.

“The proximity of the catacombs to the nearby temple of Anubis, the so called jackal or dog-headed deity associated with cemeteries and embalming makes it likely that these catacombs are indeed for canines and their presence at Saqqara is to be explained by the concentration of other animal cuts at the site,” Nicholson wrote on his website.

“These other cults include the burials of, and temples for, bulls, cows, baboons, ibises, hawks and cats all of which were thought to act as intermediaries between humans and their gods.”

Despite the great quantity of animals buried in these catacombs and the immense size of the underground burial places, Egyptologists have focused on the temples and on inscriptional evidence rather than on the animals themselves and their places of burial.

The mysteries behind De Morgan’s mapping were unsolved until 2009 when this team started concrete excavations at the cemetery in an attempt to learn more about the archaeological and history of the site.

“Results at the first season showed that De Morgan map has substantial inaccuracies and a new survey is under way,” Nicholson said.

“The animal bones themselves have been sampled and preliminary results suggest that as well as actual dogs there may be other canids present. Furthermore the age profile of the animals is being examined so that patterns of mortality can be ascertained.”

Nevine El-Aref


Famed Roman shipwreck reveals more secrets

Posted: January 6, 2013 by phaedrap1 in News, Science
Tags: ,
Ancient artifacts resembling the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient bronze clockwork astronomical calculator, may rest amid the larger-than-expected Roman shipwreck that yielded the device in 1901.


(Photo: Ephorate of Culture/Greece)

Marine archaeologists report they have uncovered new secrets of an ancient Roman shipwreck famed for yielding an amazingly sophisticated astronomical calculator. An international survey team says the ship is twice as long as originally thought and contains many more calcified objects amid the ship’s lost cargo that hint at new discoveries.

At the Archaeological Institute of America meeting Friday in Seattle, marine archaeologist Brendan Foley of the Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution, will report on the first survey of Greece’s famed Antikythera island shipwreck since 1976. The ancient Roman shipwreck was lost off the Greek coast around 67 BC,filled with statues and the famed astronomical clock.

“The ship was huge for ancient times,” Foley says. “Divers a century ago just couldn’t conduct this kind of survey but we were surprised when we realized how big it was.”

Completed in October by a small team of divers, the survey traversed the island and the wreck site, perched on a steep undersea slope some 150 to 230 feet deep in the Mediterranean Sea.

The October survey shows the ship was more than 160 feet long, twice as long as expected. Salvaged by the Greek navy and skin divers in 1901, its stern perched too deep for its original skin-diver discoverers to find.

The wreck is best known for yielding a bronze astronomical calculator, the “Antikythera Mechanism” widely seen as the most complex device known from antiquity, along with dozens of marble and bronze statues. The mechanism apparently used 37 gear wheels, a technology reinvented a millennium later, to create a lunar calendar and predict the motion of the planets, which was important knowledge for casting horoscopes and planning festivals in the superstitious ancient world.

A lead anchor recovered in a stowed position in the new survey shows that the ship likely sank unexpectedly when “a storm blew it against an underwater cliff,” says marine archaeologist Theotokis Theodoulou of Greece’s Ephorate (Department) of Underwater Antiquities. “It seems to have settled facing backwards with its stern (rear) at the deepest point,” he says.

Scholars have long debated whether the ship held the plunder of a Roman general returning loot from Greece in the era when the Roman Republic was seizing the reins of the Mediterranean world, or merely luxury goods meant for the newly built villas of the Roman elite. The last survey of the shipwreck was led by undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, whose documentary Diving for Roman Plunder chronicled that 1976 effort, which appears to have excavated the ship’s kitchen.

The October survey team watched the 1970s documentary to help orient themselves to the wreck site. “They didn’t have the diving technology that we now have to do a very efficient survey,” Theodoulou says.

Along with vase-like amphora vessels, pottery shards and roof tiles, Foley says, the wreck also appears to have “dozens” of calcified objects resembling compacted boulders made out of hardened sand resting atop the amphorae on the sea bottom. Those boulders resemble the Antikythera mechanism before its recovery and restoration. In 2006, an X-ray tomography team reported that the mechanism contained at least 30 hand-cut bronze gears re-creating astronomical cycles useful in horoscopes and timing of the Olympic Games in the ancient world, the most elaborate mechanical device known from antiquity until the Middle Ages. “The (objects) may just be collections of bronze nails, but we won’t know until someone takes a look at them,” Foley says.

The survey effort, headed by Aggeliki Simossi of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities,will continue for the next two years. The international survey team will look in two different locales for ancient shipwrecks in that time, while Greek antiquities officials ponder further exploration. An amphora recovered from the wreck will also have its inner walls tested for DNA traces of the regular cargo, such as wine, once carried by the vessel.

Recovery of whatever cargo remains with the wreck, now covered in sand, presents a technically difficult, but not impossible, challenge for marine archaeologists.

“Obviously there are a lot of artifacts still down there, but we will need to be very careful about our next steps. This ship was not a normal one,” Theodoulou says.

Dan Vergano, USA TODAY  January 4, 2013

The Little-Known Legend of Jesus in Japan

Posted: December 28, 2012 by phaedrap1 in Spirituality
Tags: ,
A mountain hamlet in northern Japan claims Jesus Christ was buried there

Japan Jesus

The burial ground to what some claim is Jesus’ final resting place. (Jensen Walker / Getty Images)

On the flat top of a steep hill in a distant corner of northern Japan lies the tomb of an itinerant shepherd who, two millennia ago, settled down there to grow garlic. He fell in love with a farmer’s daughter named Miyuko, fathered three kids and died at the ripe old age of 106. In the mountain hamlet of Shingo, he’s remembered by the name Daitenku Taro Jurai. The rest of the world knows him as Jesus Christ.

It turns out that Jesus of Nazareth—the Messiah, worker of miracles and spiritual figurehead for one of the world’s foremost religions—did not die on the cross at Calvary, as widely reported. According to amusing local folklore, that was his kid brother, Isukiri, whose severed ear was interred in an adjacent burial mound in Japan.

A bucolic backwater with only one Christian resident (Toshiko Sato, who was 77 when I visited last spring) and no church within 30 miles, Shingo nevertheless bills itself as Kirisuto no Sato (Christ’s Hometown). Every year 20,000 or so pilgrims and pagans visit the site, which is maintained by a nearby yogurt factory. Some visitors shell out the 100-yen entrance fee at the Legend of Christ Museum, a trove of religious relics that sells everything from Jesus coasters to coffee mugs. Some participate in the springtime Christ Festival, a mashup of multidenominational rites in which kimono-clad women dance around the twin graves and chant a three-line litany in an unknown language. The ceremony, designed to console the spirit of Jesus, has been staged by the local tourism bureau since 1964.

The Japanese are mostly Buddhist or Shintoist, and, in a nation of 127.8 million, about 1 percent identify themselves as Christian. The country harbors a large floating population of folk religionists enchanted by the mysterious, the uncanny and the counterintuitive. “They find spiritual fulfillment in being eclectic,” says Richard Fox Young, a professor of religious history at the Princeton Theological Seminary. “That is, you can have it all: A feeling of closeness—to Jesus and Buddha and many, many other divine figures—without any of the obligations that come from a more singular religious orientation.”

In Shingo, the Greatest Story Ever Told is retold like this: Jesus first came to Japan at the age of 21 to study theology. This was during his so-called “lost years,” a 12-year gap unaccounted for in the New Testament. He landed at the west coast port of Amanohashidate, a spit of land that juts across Miyazu Bay, and became a disciple of a great master near Mount Fuji, learning the Japanese language and Eastern culture. At 33, he returned to Judea—by way of Morocco!—to talk up what a museum brochure calls the “sacred land” he had just visited.

Having run afoul of the Roman authorities, Jesus was arrested and condemned to crucifixion for heresy. But he cheated the executioners by trading places with the unsung, if not unremembered, Isukiri. To escape persecution, Jesus fled back to the promised land of Japan with two keepsakes: one of his sibling’s ears and a lock of the Virgin Mary’s hair. He trekked across the frozen wilderness of Siberia to Alaska, a journey of four years, 6,000 miles and innumerable privations. This alternative Second Coming ended after he sailed to Hachinohe, an ox-cart ride from Shingo.

Upon reaching the village, Jesus retired to a life in exile, adopted a new identity and raised a family. He is said to have lived out his natural life ministering to the needy. He sported a balding gray pate, a coat of many folds and a distinctive nose, which, the museum brochure observes, earned him a reputation as a “long-nosed goblin.”

When Jesus died, his body was left exposed on a hilltop for four years. In keeping with the customs of the time, his bones were then bundled and buried in a grave—the same mound of earth that is now topped by a timber cross and surrounded by a picket fence. Though the Japanese Jesus performed no miracles, one could be forgiven for wondering whether he ever turned water into sake.


This all sounds more Life of Brian than Life of Jesus. Still, the case for the Shingo Savior is argued vigorously in the museum and enlivened by folklore. In ancient times, it’s believed, villagers maintained traditions alien to the rest of Japan. Men wore clothes that resembled the toga-like robes of biblical Palestine, women wore veils, and babies were toted around in woven baskets like those in the Holy Land. Not only were newborns swaddled in clothes embroidered with a design that resembled a Star of David, but, as a talisman, their foreheads were marked with charcoal crosses.

The museum contends that the local dialect contains words like aba or gaga (mother) and aya or dada (father) that are closer to Hebrew than Japanese, and that the old village name, Heraimura, can be traced to an early Middle Eastern diaspora. Religious scholar Arimasa Kubo, a retired Tokyo pastor, thinks Shingo may have been settled by “descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel.”

As if to fuel this unlikely explanation, in 2004, Israeli ambassador Eli Cohen visited the tombs and dedicated a plaque, in Hebrew, to honor the ties between Shingo and the city of Jerusalem. Embassy spokesman Gil Haskel explained that while Hebrew tribes could have migrated to Japan, the marker was merely “a symbol of friendship rather than an endorsement of the Jesus claims.”

Another theory raises the possibility that the tombs hold the bodies of 16th- century missionaries. Christian evangelists first came to Japan in 1549, but bitter infighting for influence and Japanese converts led to a nationwide ban on the religion in 1614.

Believers went underground, and these Hidden Christians, as they are called, encountered ferocious persecution. To root them out, officials administered loyalty tests in which priests and other practitioners were required to trample a cross or an image of the Madonna and the baby Jesus. Those who refused to denounce their beliefs were crucified, beheaded, burned at the stake, tortured to death or hanged upside-down over cesspools to intensify their suffering. For more than 200 years, until an isolated Japan opened its doors to the West in 1868, Christianity survived in scattered communities, which perhaps explains why Shingo’s so-called Christian traditions are not practiced in the rest of the region.

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2,750-year-old temple discovered in Israel

Posted: December 27, 2012 by phaedrap1 in Monuments, Science
Tags: ,


An overhead view of the excavation site (Skyview/Israeli Antiquities Authority)Israeli archeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient temple that is nearly 3,000 years old and was once home to a ritual cult.

“The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple,” excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz said in a statement released by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The temple remains were discovered at the Tel Motza site, located to the west of Jerusalem. The Israeli Antiquities Authority has been conducting excavation efforts at the site and says that along with the temple remains itself, the findings include a “cache of sacred vessels” estimated to be 2,750 years old.

“Among other finds, the site has yielded pottery figurines of men, one of them bearded, whose significance is still unknown,” the statement from Khalaily and Kisilevitz reads.

NBC’s Cosmic Log notes that the discovery was made during preparations for a new section of Israel’s Highway 1. Because of the number of historical sites and artifacts in and near Jerusalem, the Israeli government typically conducts similar archeological excavation efforts before beginning construction on major infrastructure projects.

Two head figurines discovered at the 2,750-year-old site (Clara Amit, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)Dating back to the Iron Age, the temple was designed in accordance with similar layouts for other religious buildings from that era, according to the Israeli government. More from its analysis:

“The walls of the structure are massive, and it includes a wide, east-facing entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction in the ancient Near East: The rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within. A square structure which was probably an altar was exposed in the temple courtyard, and the cache of sacred vessels was found near the structure.”

The excavation directors said they will continue to examine the findings and conduct further digs while preparations for the highway construction continue.

“The find of the sacred structure, together with the accompanying cache of sacred vessels, and especially the significant coastal influence evident in the anthropomorphic figurines, still require extensive research,” they said.

Eric Pfeiffer  Yahoo News

Crossrail dig unearths forgotten London

Posted: December 24, 2012 by phaedrap1 in News

BBC News, London

Archaeologist and skeletons
Hundreds of skeletons were found in an excavation at Crossrail’s new ticket hall

As a team of archaeologists digs through layers of history beneath London, the thought of the next find is never far away.

“Just about any new discovery is thoroughly exciting,” says Jay Carver, the lead on what is currently the UK’s largest archaeology project.

His team has been working alongside engineers building stations and digging two giant tunnels under central London as part of Crossrail since 2009.

On the journey so far, finds include rare amber, hundreds of skeletons and a Bronze Age track.

But for Mr Carver, among the most exciting discoveries was the Thames ironworks and ship building company which occupied the entire Limmo Peninsula.

Wild animals

He said: “The site had literally been forgotten in the ground. It was 100 years old but we have pretty much been able to reconstruct it.”

“To have discovered this huge timber shipway was extraordinary.”

“The discovery of ancient animal bones in Paddington takes it to the other extreme to a London with wild animals, an unbelievable concept in today’s world.”

Amber Archaeologists said the largest piece of amber found in the UK was unearthed at Canary Wharf

Crossrail will connect 37 stations from Heathrow Airport and Maidenhead in the west, through central London and out to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.

It is due to be completed in 2018.

Being a part of this giant feat of engineering has allowed the 100-strong team of archaeologists to venture into largely unexplored territory.

Mr Carver said: “The project has allowed us to dig so many holes across so many parts of London.”

“It’s about filling information gaps, finding out about stuff we didn’t know before and making all the details we had in the past, clearer.”

He explained that digging from west to east through the centre of London, which due to city’s built-up nature is usually restricted, gives them a unique opportunity.

Roman city

“It enables us to compare and contrast areas of London by gathering scientific data from different locations, for example excavating several sites across west London and parts of the City.”

“It is exciting as you spend years doing the research then you get to dig and prove your homework” Mike Court Archaeologist

“Looking at how they developed from green fields into the city we know today and how the river system changed and developed over thousands of years.

“It will also reveal thousands of years of history in the Square Mile which covers what was a Roman and medieval city, which are fairly unknown.”

Advances in technology may mean there is less uncertainty about what might lay beneath the surface, but Crossrail has still delivered a few surprises.

At Canary Wharf a 55-million-year-old piece of amber was unearthed from beneath the dock bed in 2009.

The archaeology team said very little amber had been found in London and this piece was larger and clearer than any previously found in the UK.

The next stop for the team is Farringdon where archaeologist Mike Court will be leading a two-week excavation in January.

Crossrail excavation The Thames ship building company was unearthed at Limmo Peninsula

Trial digs have confirmed an old river channel and evidence of leather production under Smithfield Market.

Mr Court said: “It is exciting as you spend years doing the research then you get to dig and prove your homework.”

“It’s close to a big plaque pit from the black death so it gives us a chance to dig down but there’s only a 20% chance we will find it.”

Meanwhile, in a trial excavation pit at Liverpool Street in February 2011, Mr Court said they came across what he considers to be the most exciting find on the project so far – a silver Denarius, a Roman coin from 225AD.

Roman coin The team found a silver Roman Denarius which would have been in use across Europe at the time

“It’s fairly run of the mill for sites but it gives you something in your hand which showed the time Britain was part of the Roman Empire and puts us into the wider context,” he said.

Looking to 2013, Mr Carver said they would be working on the largest single excavation at the site of Crossrail’s ticket hall in Liverpool Street.

It is expected to reveal the less salubrious parts of Roman London outside of the City walls with archaeologists anticipating to encounter Roman timber-framed buildings and a street surface 6m below ground level.

The “lost” Walbrook River – a channel that divided the western and eastern parts of the city – may also be found.

At the eastern end of the Crossrail route, archaeologists will work at four large tunnel entrance sites at Pudding Mill Lane, Victoria Dock, North Woolwich and Plumstead.

Here it is thought the team will come across areas where Bronze Age people lived, farmed and hunted some 3,500 years ago.

Only halfway through its journey, and with a total of 20 archaeology sites to explore, it is hoped there is much more to be uncovered.

Jane Mower