Imaging Technology Being Used to Decipher Maya Inscriptions

A technology known as Reflection Transformation Imaging (RTI) is being utilized for the first time to help decipher Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions.
RTI works by manipulating light on a photographic sequence in order to produce very high quality images.
Researchers at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (IANH) have used the technique on 10 monuments at Tonina, which is located in Chiapas, Mexico. According to Carlos Gayol, an archaeologist with the INAH, Tonina contains the most inscriptions presently known of any Maya site.
Although Maya writing is the best understood of the ancient Mesoamerican scripts, there is still much work to be done in the field. The Maya code was first broken in the mid-20th century, and progress has rapidly increased since the 1980s.
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Posted in Developments, Inscriptions, Linguistics, Maya, Methodology, Writing | Leave a comment

17th Century BC Graves Found in Pakistan

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of graves dating to the 17th century BC in Pakistan’s Chitral district.
The graves contained human skeletons and pottery burial goods. The excavators said the find would aid understanding of the Aryan civilization that settled in the area after migrating from central Asia between 1700 and 1500 BC. Various artifacts with engraved images were also unearthed at the site.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Archaeology Department expressed interest in constructing a museum in Chitral in the near future.
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Scaffolding Removed from the Parthenon

The scaffolding that has surrounded the Parthenon for 30 years has been temporarily removed.
The famous Greek temple has been undergoing extensive restoration work, which is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
Some scaffolding will be returned in September of this year, but for now the Parthenon is scaffolding-free.
Posted in Greece, Restoration | Leave a comment

Sticky Rice May Be the Secret Ingredient in Ancient China’s Strong Mortar

A new study by the American Chemical Society suggests that sticky rice may have been the secret ingredient in the powerful mortar used by the ancient Chinese.
“Analytical study shows that the ancient masonry mortar is a kind of special organic-inorganic composite material,” said Professor Bingjian Zhang of China’s Zhejiang University. “The inorganic component is calcium carbonate, and the organic component is amylopectin, which comes from the sticky rice soup added to the mortar.”
Zhang worked with a team to test the hypothesis by mixing lime mortars with various amounts of sticky rice and compared the results with traditional lime mortar.
The American Chemical Society reported in their monthly journal that “the test results of the modeling mortars show that sticky rice-lime mortar has more stable physical properties, has greater mechanical strength, and is more compatible, which make it a suitable restoration mortar for ancient masonry.”
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A Rare Find: Etruscan House Unearthed in Italy

Archaeologists at Vetulonia, on the Tuscan coast of Italy, have unearthed a splendidly preserved Etruscan house – a rare find, and one that will lend considerable insight to our understanding of Etruscan culture.
The 2,400-year-old house is believed to have belonged to a wealthy family and was renovated several times in antiquity. Bronze furniture remains were found within the building, as well as various vases, amphorae, and plates. The walls, which were made of dried clay, are the first examples of Etruscan brick ever discovered.
“These are the best remains ever found in Italy of an Etruscan home,” said Simona Rafanelli, director of the Vetulonia Archaeological Museum. “It is the only case of its kind in Italy. What we have found will enable us to reconstruct the house in its entirety…It offers a wealth of interesting new evidence.”
Most of what we know of the Etruscans has been gleaned from their well-preserved tombs and burial goods. A well-preserved house such as this will enable archaeologists to reconstruct the daily lives and living conditions of its inhabitants.
The announcement of the find comes after an initial two week long excavation. Much more work is planned at the site. Rafanelli also expressed an interest in converting the house into an open-air museum in the future.
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Two New Harrappan Sites Discovered in India

Two Late Harappan sites were recently discovered along the Vasal River at the village of Kundla in the Surendranagar District of India. The finds came during an annual survey of the river valley.
D. K. Rathod, assistatnd superintendent of the Rajkot archaeology department, said, “Pottery fragments with designs have been found in large numbers from the two mounds. These include pieces of clay jar, bowl, and plates. Although no structure has been found, there are indications that a settlement did exist in the area. We have prepared a report on this and submitted it to the state government.”
The surrounding area has been an agricultural land for many years, which may pose problems to excavation efforts. “As it is an agricultural land, the site has been ploughed all these years and there is hardly any sign of a mound. Besides, as it [has been] a private land for several years now, it’s difficult to protect it and convert into an archaeological site,” said Rathod.
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Four Undisturbed Clay Coffins Discovered in Cyprus

A construction crew in Cyprus working on a sidewalk has accidentally uncovered four clay coffins dating from between 300 BC and 100 AD. The period corresponds to the late Hellenistic and early Roman periods.
Cyprus’ Antiquities Department director, Maria Hadjicosti, described the coffins as having floral patterns and noted that similar finds have been made before. These four, however, have drawn considerable interest as they had previously been undisturbed and have not been scavenged by grave robbers. Hadjicosti said the new find will consequently “help us add knowledge and understanding of that period of Cyprus history.”
Other artifacts discovered at the construction site, which was used as a cemetery, include urns, glass vessels, and human skeletons.

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Posted in Archaeology, Cyprus, Discoveries | Leave a comment