Latest Findings from Çatalhöyük to be Released This Summer

The latest findings from the current excavations at Çatalhöyük will be released at the end of this summer, according to a member of the international archaeological team working at the site.
Çatalhöyük, located in southern Turkey, is the largest Neolithic site ever found. The entire site is composed of residential buildings, with an estimated average population of 5,000-8,000. Researchers believe sheep and goats may have been domesticated for the first time at Çatalhöyük.
The team currently working at the site has focused their research on biological issues such as plant and animal life, as well as genetics and diseases. “The main goal of the work at Çatalhöyük is to gain information about diseases and plants and their effects on people during that period,” said Gülay Sert, one of the team’s archaeologists.
Sert, who made the announcement regarding the impending release of the team’s findings, said their results will be discussed within a scientific community. “The publications are already making all archaeologists who are interested in the Neolithic age excited,” he said. Sert stressed the importance of Çatalhöyük as a site through which to view one of humanity’s first experiences with an urban settlement. “These results do not only concern archaeologists, but also scientists in many fields from medicine to engineering.”
As one of the earliest examples we have of settlement and domestication, Çatalhöyük is an ideal location to study the effects of biological issues on an ancient population. The findings from this site will provide a unique view into the initial changes and problems posed by urban disease and animal husbandry upon a previously nomadic people.
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Posted in Anthropology, Archaeology, Publications, Turkey | Leave a comment

German Team Challenges Egyptians’ Conclusions on Tutankhamun’s Death

Yet another theory has been published concerning the ever-mysterious death of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
A team of German scientists from Hamburg’s Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine recently announced their conclusion that the Egyptian king died as a result of sickle-cell disease, not malaria, as recently suggested by an Egyptian team this past February.
“We question the reliability of the genetic data presented in this [the Egyptian] study and therefore the validity of the authors’ conclusions,” the German team wrote in a letter published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Egyptian study, which was heavily publicized and endorsed by Zahi Hawass, the Head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, utilized DNA tests and CT scans of Tut’s mummy – specialized tests that had previously been denied to other researchers and which were approved exclusively for the Egyptian team. They concluded that Tutankhamun suffered from inbreeding and a frail composition, and that he died of malaria after taking a bad fall.
The German side, upon further examining the king’s foot bones, stated that the “radiological signs are compatible with osteopathologic lesions seen in sickle cell disease (SCD), a hematological disorder that occurs at gene carrier rates of nine percent to 22 percent in inhabitants of Egyptian oases.” They have also stated their desire for further DNA testing on Tut’s mummy in order to better analyze the cause of the pharaoh’s death.
Hawass, who has in the past created controversy by giving preference to Egyptian teams in matters of research permissions, will be the deciding factor in whether additional testing is approved. If it is, it is unlikely to be conducted by a foreign team.
Earlier this month, Hawass lambasted the British Embassy for what he deemed unfair treatment of Egyptians and declared that he would limit relations with British scientists. The announcement came on the heels of a request for the British Museum, among other institutions, to return “stolen” Egyptian artifacts to Egypt.
Hawass has similarly made repeated requests to the Berlin Museum and has said he will make life “miserable” for those institutions that refuse to return stolen treasures. The Germans have ignored all of his requests.
You may read the German team’s letter here, provided you have appropriate access.
Posted in Developments, Egypt, Germany, Publications | Leave a comment

Ancient Necropolises Discovered in Macedonia

Ancient necropolises, believed to be from the third century AD, have been discovered in southwestern Macedonia.
The find came during construction work on the Tumbe Kafe stadium in the town of Bitola. One of the archaeologists who examined the site announced to the media today that all construction had been halted so that further examination may be carried out on the artifacts and skeletons found in the necropolises.
“The skeletons might belong to Christians, but the possibility of their being pagan is not ruled out either. It is believed that [the] necropolises originate from the third century, because the deceased had been buried underground since,” the archaeologist said.
The researchers plan to appeal for government support for additional excavation, as they believe the site may hold further treasures.
Posted in Archaeology, Discoveries, Macedonia | Leave a comment

Vandals Deface Bronze Age Chalk Design Known as Uffington White Horse

Vandals recently defaced an ancient chalk design, known as the Uffington White Horse, by spray painting part of it purple.
The figure, on what is now called White Horse Hill in England’s Oxfordshire county, dates to the Bronze Age and is a sequence of deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk. When viewed from a distance, the trenches form what looks like a horse, although the representation has been debated in the past.
The site is owned and managed by the National Trust, a British conservation organization for places of historic interest or natural beauty.
Police were called to the site on Thursday after the Trust discovered the head and eye of the horse had been painted purple. The only evidence recovered from the scene was a banner that said “fathers 4 justice stop the secret family courts.”
New Fathers 4 Justice, a father’s rights organization, was questioned, but denied any part in the crime. “Fathers have started using the name for their own protest, but we don’t condone vandalism, it’s not our style,” said a spokesman for the group. “They should’ve picked a legitimate target like a courthouse, not an historic monument which should be protected for our children. This is criminal damage and nothing’s going to be achieved by that,” said another.
Volunteers had worked to re-chalk the monument just one week before the vandalism, as part of a community event.
“We are appalled by this act of mindless vandalism to one of the country’s most famous ancient monuments,” said Richard Henderson, Oxfordshire’s general manager within the National Trust.
The organization, with the aid of police, has been working to cover up the paint. “The monument has been pretty much restored and is back to how it should look,” said Sgt. Steve Clark. “This was a mindless act of criminal damage on an ancient monument and I would urge anyone with information about the incident to come forward and speak to us as soon as possible.”
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Researcher Concludes That a Majority of Swedish Runic Inscriptions are Gibberish

Marco Bianchi, an expert in Nordic languages at Sweden’s Uppsala University, has recently studied 1,000 ancient runic inscriptions from northern Sweden and has concluded that most are meaningless.
The majority of contemporary Vikings were illiterate, Bianchi says, and the inscribed runestones seem to him to be a bold attempt to prove otherwise.
“What was important was showing that you could write,” he said. “What you wrote wasn’t so important since no one could read it anyway.”
Posted in Developments, Inscriptions, Sweden, Vikings, Writing | Leave a comment

Ancient Pagan Ritualistic Artifacts Discovered in Israel Show a Link With Mycenaean Greece

Archaeologists working in a planned construction area for the Israel Antiquities Authority have discovered more than 100 artifacts that were used in ancient pagan rituals.
3,500-year-old incense vessels and decorative ritual cups were found buried in a rock hollow. Professor Yossi Garfinkel of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem pointed out that holy articles were buried after their use rather than thrown out.
“It is quite possible that these artifacts were used in the cultic area and in the temple and they accumulated, and when they ran out of space or they became old, a pit was made to bury them,” he said.
Some of the vessels found at the site were from Cyprus and Mycenae, showing a ritualistic connection between Greece and Israel.
Israel’s Antiquities Authority has expressed plans to exhibit the findings within the next year.
Posted in Archaeology, Cyprus, Discoveries, Greece, Israel, Mycenae | Leave a comment

Zahi Hawass Publishes a Tirade Against the British Embassy, Promises to Treat Their Scientists Coldly

Zahi Hawass, the Head of the Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, and therefore the gatekeeper of Egyptian archaeology, has recently published a tirade against the British Embassy in the latest issue of Cairo’s Al-Ahram Weekly.
Hawass declares that Egyptians have received unfair treatment from the British Embassy and that he will therefore limit their access to Egypt. “We will not receive their visitors. Our relations with their scientists will be cold,” he writes. “We cannot continue to treat foreigners with love and generosity if they in return treat us insincerely and do not care, from now on: one to one.”
The publication comes shortly after Hawass’s most recent public demand for the British Museum, among other international institutions, to return various Egyptian artifacts to Egypt. Since taking over as the head of the SCA, Hawass has been vocal about retaining Egyptian nationalism within the archaeological community and of returning Egypt to the forefront of Egyptological research.
You may read Hawass’s editorial, entitled “Dig days: Again: one to one,” on Al-Ahram Weekly Online by following the link below.
Posted in Archaeology, Britain, Egypt, Publications, Tourism | Leave a comment