Archaeology

Did the Bible's King David and his son Solomon control the copper industry in present-day southern Jordan? The possibility is raised once again by research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Within the scope of an international rescue excavation project, a team of four archaeologists specialized in Middle Eastern affairs headed by Dr. Dirk Wicke (Institute of Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies) have unearthed parts of a Neo-Assyrian governor's palace dating back to the 9th to 7th cent. B.C. in a two-month excavation program amongst the ruins on Ziyaret Tepe.
After several years of detective work, philologists at the University of Stavanger in Norway have collected a unique collection of texts online and they're about to start the most comprehensive analysis of middle English ever.

During the last few years, associate professor Merja Stenroos and post doctor Martti Mäkinen at the University of Stavanger have travelled around Britain and read original handwritten leather manuscripts from the 1300s–1500s.

"It is as natural for us in Stavanger to research Middle English as it is for English researchers. None of us have this language as our mother tongue anyway, says Merja Stenroos, who is managing the project titled MEG - Middle English Grammar.




 Merja Stenroos Martti Mäkinen  15th century Book of Hours Folio

Excavations at Kfar HaHoresh, in the north of Israel, led by Prof. Nigel Goring-Morris of Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology, have revealed a prehistoric funerary precinct dating back to 6,750-8,500 BC. This funerary has grave goods including phallic figurines and sea shells from the Mediterranean and Red Seas, along with other items from Syria, Cyprus and Anatolia.

While fertility symbols during this period are often associated with female imagery, at Kfar HaHoresh only phallic figurines have been found to date, including one placed as a foundation deposit in the wall of the precinct.

Burials at the site now total at least 65 individuals, and display an unusual demographic profile – with an emphasis on young adult males. Graves occur under or associated with lime-plaster surfaced L-shaped walled structures, and are varied in nature from single articulated burials through multiple secondary burials with up to 17 individuals. Bones in one had been intentionally re-arranged in what appears to be a depiction.


A University of Chicago expedition at Tell Edfu in southern Egypt has unearthed a large administration building and silos that provide insight into ancient Egyptian urban life and a little understood aspect of ancient Egypt; the development of cities in a culture that is largely famous for its monumental architecture.

The archaeological work at Tel Edfu was initiated with the permission of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, headed by Zahi Hawass, under the direction of Nadine Moeller, Assistant Professor at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. Work late last year revealed details of seven silos, the largest grain bins found in ancient Egypt as well as an older columned hall that was an administration center.


The discovery of an ancient city buried beneath the sands of modern-day Syria has provided evidence for a Hellenistic settlement that existed for more than six centuries extending into the time of the Roman Empire. The site provides a unique insight into the structures of a pre-Roman Hellenistic settlement. The project, funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, sheds new light on city life in the Hellenistic period.

The Syrian deserts have long kept an important secret hidden deep beneath their sands ­ the remains of the pre-Roman Hellenistic settlement of Palmyra. Until now, the only evidence for the existence of such a settlement was to be found in historical writing. As part of an FWF-funded joint project, the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Vienna, the German Archaeological Institute and the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria have been the first to track down the location of this early city.


Researchers from University of Leicester Archaeological Services have recently completed work on the results of three closely related Bronze Age round barrows excavated at Cossington, Leicestershire and show how the ancient cemetery was reused by successive communities.

Their excavations revealed a variety of burial practices from Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Anglo Saxon times. They offer the first definite example of an Anglo Saxon cemetery sited on an earlier monument to be found in Leicestershire.

One of the barrows included the crouched burial of a child of around eight years, who lay with grave offerings including two pots, a stone bowl and three flint knives. One of the knives had been made from a much earlier object, perhaps making a physical link to past ‘ancestors.’

As Indiana Jones races against time to find an ancient crystal skull in his new movie adventure, he should perhaps take a moment to check its authenticity.

New research suggests that two well-known crystal skulls, in the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, did not, after all, come from ancient Mexico. Academics now believe the British skull was made in 19th century Europe and the American one even more recently.

The British Museum bought its skull, a life-size carving from a single block of rock crystal from Tiffany and Company, New York in 1897. Its origins were unknown but there were suggestions it was of ancient Mexican origin. Human skulls worn as ornaments and displayed on racks were known to have featured in Aztec art. The skull attracted a lot of public attention and speculation it was once thought to have healing powers. Crystal skulls have since featured in many books, articles and films, most recently in the new Steven Spielberg movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


Corn has long been a primary food crop in prehistoric North and Central America but, according to a new study, it was also an important part of the South American diet for much longer than previously thought.

PhD student Sonia Zarrillo and archaeology professor Dr. Scott Raymond report that a new technique for examining ancient cooking pots has produced the earliest directly dated examples of domesticated corn (maize) being consumed on the South American continent.

In the west, we call valuable ceramic place settings 'china' because high-quality ceramic wares were imported from the east. They were the best and had the highest value.

Not really so, at least in Israel, according to research at the University of Haifa.

According to Dr. Edna Stern, in contrast to the notion that ceramic wares were imported to Acre and surrounding ports as luxury items, the findings of her study revealed exactly the opposite.