Saturday, May 21, 2005

New life for Elizabeth I's 'lost' garden 430 years on

An elaborate "lost" garden created in 1575 for Queen Elizabeth I is to be restored after archaeologists stumbled across its ruins.

Experts believe that the find will provide some of the most important clues on garden construction of that era that they have ever seen.

The garden, which has intrigued experts for decades, was created at Kenilworth Castle, Warwicks, by Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, specifically for the Queen, but all surviving elements of it were thought to have been lost.

Last year, archaeologists from English Heritage found evidence of its foundations underneath the current garden, including rubble that made up a 4ft central fountain.

The Telegraph

Roman conquerors had woolly socks

The sartorial elegance of the Italians has been shattered, with news that woolly socks helped their ancestors' conquest of northern England.

The evidence has emerged among archaeological objects found in the River Tees at Piercebridge, near Darlington in County Durham.

Among the items was an unusual Roman razor handle, made of copper alloy and in the shape of a human leg and foot.

The 5cm high foot is wearing a sandal with a thick woollen sock underneath.

BBC News

Italy indicts Getty curator

ROME --In a long-running legal battle with broad implications for museum collections worldwide, a senior curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has been indicted in Italy on criminal charges involving the acquisition of precious antiquities in this archaeologically rich country, authorities in Rome said.

Marion True, 56, curator for antiquities at the prestigious museum and director of the Getty Villa, an adjunct site near Malibu that once was home to the main museum, is accused of criminal conspiracy to receive stolen goods and illicit receipt of archaeological items. It also is alleged that True essentially laundered goods that were purchased by a private collection and then sold to the Getty in paper transactions that created phony documentation.

If the prosecution is successful, the Italians intend to pursue additional cases at other museums. The plunder of Italy for its artwork is a crime tantamount to "stealing history," the indictment reads in part. By attempting to prosecute an official from the world's richest art museum, Italian authorities hope to send a clear message that they no longer will tolerate the vast and systematic robbing of antiquities from a country so replete with historical treasures.

The Sun Herald

'Grand vision' sought for castle

The people of Nottingham are being offered the chance to have their say over the future of the city's most famous landmark.
Design consultants want to create what's described as a "grand new vision" for the castle.

In the past it has been criticised as being disappointing for tourists and, of course, not a real castle.

The authorities say it is important people's ideas for the future of the attraction are heard.

The castle manager Dave Green said: "It is important that we do something for everyone - the bread and butter customer is the local person who contributes to the castle in many ways.

BBC News

Mining hope for Bronze Age site

Mining for copper and zinc could return to Anglesey's Parys Mountain mine after an absence of almost 100 years.
As a result of recent increases in world metal prices, owners Anglesey Mining plc are starting exploratory drilling work.

Finance director Ian Cuthbertson said they were confident of "significant reserves" at the site, which has been mined since the Bronze Age.

It could lead to more than 100 jobs at the site, near Amlwch.

"There have been quite a number of attempts to revive [mining at the site], but the world situation now is different and we are upbeat about the prospects," said Mr Cuthbertson.

BBC News


AN UNDISCOVERED stretch of Hadrian’s Wall has been unearthed by archaeologists on the route of the £30 million Carlisle Northern Development by-pass.

The team of archaeologists from Cumbria County Council have discovered a section of the Roman wall and fragments of ancient pottery on the banks of the River Eden near Stainton, west of Carlisle. The discovery is directly on the line of the planned Northern Development Route and could mean further delays to the long-awaited by-pass – now more than three years late.

The Northern Development Route (CNDR), which will provide a vital link between West Cumbria and the M6, should have opened last December. Work on the road, which is seen as crucial in relieving crippling traffic congestion in Carlisle, was to start in 2006 and be complete in 2008

Cumbria On-Line

Friday, May 20, 2005

Britain's Lost Colosseum - Timewatch

9:00pm - 9:50pm
VIDEO Plus+: 470001
Subtitled, Widescreen, Audio-described
Britain's Lost Colosseum

Wherever the Romans conquered, they built amphitheatres. Most British ones were simple earthworks - dug-out arenas with turf-covered banks. However, buried in Chester's city centre are the remains of an enormous, stone-built Roman amphitheatre. It was partially excavated in the 1960s by Hugh Thompson (who found evidence of a timber amphitheatre built on the site before the stone one). Last year another team dug down through the "archaeological layer cake" in the hope of finding out more about this lost arena. Films about archaeological digs can be a gamble because there's no guarantee anything exciting will be found. But what's discovered at Chester seems to discredit Thompson's theory.

Radio Times

Roman soldiers help new fight against windfarm

ANCIENT Roman legions who once marched through South Yorkshire could soon be playing a part in a new battle—this time to halt a green scheme.

Image Campaigners fighting to stop three towering wind turbines springing up on green belt land at Loscar, near Harthill, say the site is surrounded by evidence of Roman settlements dating back to the first century.

Now local historian Paul Rowland has unearthed evidence to show that even the country lane along which heavy equipment for the three 311 feet high turbines will be brought is an old Roman road, once known as Ryknild Street.

Mr Rowland, from Harthill, recently unearthed a number of four inch square dressed limestone cobbles alongside ancient Packman Lane, between Harthill and Thorpe Salvin, which leads to the Loscar windfarm site owned by farmer John Wilks.

Limestone cobbles were used to dress Roman roads of importance—those made for rapid movement of troops and supplies. Now the stones are being examined by other experts.
Evidence already exists of a Roman camp close to Kiveton Park Station, another at nearby Markland Grips, Derbyshire, and a third at Thurcroft—and Roman coins and pottery have been found throughout the area.

Now campaigners say evidence is building up that the windfarm site could be of such historical importance that developers npower renewables should carry out a full archaeological survey of the area before the project is allowed to go ahead.

Rotherham Advertiser

Amphith-eater fans enjoyed fast-food too

FOOTBALL wouldn't be the same without the obligatory burger vans and stalls selling cheap scarves outside the ground.

But the latest finds by archae-ologists working at Chester Amphitheatre suggest things may not have changed much in the last 2,000 years.

The dig, jointly carried out by English Heritage and Chester City Council, has uncovered a large number of animal bones discarded by fast-food loving spectators in the 8,000 seater stadium.

Experts have also discovered remains of a number of miniature bowls, decorated with pictures of gladiators, which may have been sold as cheap souvenirs to fans.

English Heritage archaeologist Tony Wilmott said: 'In many ways nothing's changed. People liked fast food snacks and throwaway souvenirs just as sports fans do today.

'One of the interesting things about this dig is what we've been able to find out about the area immediately outside the amphitheatre.

IC Chester

German Scientists: Europe's Oldest Script Found in Bulgaria

Ancient tablets found in South Bulgaria are written in the oldest European script found ever, German scientists say.

The tablets, unearthed near the Southern town of Kardzhali, are over 35-centuries old, and bear the ancient script of the Cretan (Minoan) civilization, according to scientists from the University of Heidelberg, who examined the foundings. This is the Cretan writing, also known as Linear A script, which dates back to XV-XIV century B.C.

The discovery proves the theory of the Bulgarian archaeologists that the script on the foundings is one of the oldest known to humankind, the archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov announced Wednesday.

Ovcharov, who is heading the archaeological expedition in the ancient Perperikon complex near Kardzhali, called the discovery "revolutionary". It throws a completely different light on Bulgaria's history, he said in an interview for the National Television.


Archaeologist tells of digs in Central Asia

Victor Sariyiannidis has spent his life searching for traces of Greeks

Findings from the royal Bactrian graves. A statuette of a goat (right), exquisitely fine work cast in gold, a gold ring engraved with a seated Athena and an inscription, and a gold clasp . These are just some of the 20,000 ancient pieces of jewelry Sariyiannidis unearthed at the site of Tilia Tepe in 1979 in what is now Afghanistan.

When Victor Sariyiannidis discovered the 20,000 pieces of gold jewelry in 1979 in Tilia Tepe in Afghanistan — an area once occupied by the Hellenistic state of Bactria (Bactriana) — some thought he was just very lucky.

Some consider Sariyiannidis one of the most distinguished experts of our time, since after excavating with persistence for more than 30 years, he last year brought to light the cradle of the ancient religion of the Zoroastrians. The Zoroastrians lived in the Karakum desert in what was once the ancient kingdom of Margush, or Margiana, in southeastern Turkmenistan.

Today, Sariyiannidis, born 74 years ago in Tashkent, lives in poverty in Greece on a paltry pension from the farmers’ fund, which the Greek state granted him five years ago.


Panonian gladiators

THE success of the recent movie Gladiator demonstrates continuing public interest in the ancient past. Hungary has some of the richest remains of the ancient Roman Empire. Sites such as Brigetio (Szôny), Arrabona (Gyôr), Aquincum (Óbuda), Campona (Budatétény), Gorsium (Tác), Savaria (Szombathely), Sopianae (Pécs), and Intercisa (Dunaujváros) were just a few of the flowering colonial seats.

After the Via Appia, Pécs has the largest system of Early Christian catacombs. There is a stunning bronze portrait bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius is in the collection of the Museum of Antiquities of Pécs. Ruling from AD 121-180, his conquest of the Germanic tribes in the north is seen in the opening scenes of Gladiator, (with the aging Emperor played by Richard Harris). Known as the "Philosopher-Emperor", Marcus Aurelius wrote part of his Meditations in Pannonia (western Hungary).

Ongoing archaeological digs and research reveal more and more details about the varied peoples who lived in the western part of the Carpathian Basin under the mighty Roman Empire from the first to the fifth centuries AD. For more than 500 years, from circa 30 BC to 495 AD, the area between the Danube and the Dráva Rivers was known to the Roman world as the colony of Pannonia.

The Budapest Sun

Earliest European 31,000 years old

Fossilised human bones found in the Czech Republic have been dated back to some 31,000 years, which scientists say confirms them as the oldest known examples of Homo sapiens found in Europe.

Austrian and US scientists publish their carbon-dating results in today's issue of the journal Nature.

An upper jaw, teeth and the skull of a female were found in a cave in Moravia in the 19th century, but scientists have debated how old they are.

University of Vienna researcher Dr Eva Wild and colleagues used a technique called accelerator mass spectrometry to analyse carbon 14 isotopes in the dental remains.

News in Science

Research fuels debate over die-off of prehistoric Neanderthals

For decades, scientists have argued over the disappearance of Neanderthals from prehistoric Europe about 30,000 years ago. Did they die from some mysterious disease? Or did modern humans simply supplant them, either by obliterating them or by interbreeding?

In research reported today in the journal Nature, an Austrian-led team has added more fuel to the debate, confirming that fossil remains from a famous archaeological site in the Czech Republic are 31,000 years old — putting them right at the period when Neanderthals vanished.

The bones from the Mladec Caves represent the only known remains in Europe that can be linked directly to "Aurignacian" stone and bone tools, ornaments and other artifacts made 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, when humans first began to fashion objects with aesthetic as well as utilitarian purposes.

While the bones, from six separate individuals found in the caves, are generally regarded as "modern," some of the fossil skulls show "archaic" features — among them heavy brow ridges and protruding bone in the back of the head — that are more associated with Neanderthals.

"These characteristics could be explained by interbreeding, or seen as Neanderthal ancestry," said team leader Eva Maria Wild, of the University of Vienna. "The finds are essential in the ongoing debate over the emergence of modern humans in Europe. The discussions will continue."

Seattle Times

Cypriots took wine to the world

The ancient Greeks took wine to the masses, the Romans to the world. But it was the innovation of Cypriots that showed them how, say archaeologists.

Italian experts claim to have unearthed evidence suggesting not only did Cyprus introduce clay drinking goblets and wine jars for transportation further afield, but it had at least a 1,500 year head start on any of its Mediterranean cousins on the art of making wine.

"It's an amazing discovery," says research head Maria Rosaria Belgiorno.

"The most ancient wine seems to have been found in a 5,000-5,500 BC vase in Ajjii Firuz Tepe in Iran ... but in the Mediterranean, the earliest examples of wine-making have been in Cyprus."

MSN News

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Origin of new British Museum exhibit looks a bit wobbly

Visitors to the British Museum unfamiliar with the date of the wheel's invention may have been puzzled by a primitive painting in the Roman Britain gallery this week, showing a caveman pushing a supermarket trolley.

The earliest recorded wheels, as every schoolboy knows, are from Mesopotamia around 5,500 years ago. Trolleys were first used in the Piggly-Wiggly Supermarket chain [really], Oklahoma City, in 1937. The bizarre exhibit, stuck to a wall with double-sided tape and labelled "Early Man Goes to Market" was, of course, a hoax.

The British Museum had fallen victim to Banksy, Britain's most notorious and inventive "art terrorist" who specialises in sticking fake objects to the walls of major galleries and museums and waiting to see how long it takes for curators to notice.

Embarrassingly for the British Museum, it may have been several days.

The Telegraph

International Institute of Anthropology

Dr Nikolova of the International Institute of Anthropology has just sent me details of their web site.

The site contains many useful and interesting links, and is certainly worth a visit.

You can find it at or by clicking on the entry in our side bar.

Socks . . . ? The Romans put their foot in it

WITH names such as Versace dominating the world's catwalks, the Italians may regard themselves as being the modern-day epitome of sartorial chic.

But while their Armani suits and Gucci bags show their contemporary flair for the ultra-trendy, evidence has emerged to show that things were once very different.

Their Roman ancestors made what today would be the ultimate fashion faux-pas - wearing socks with their sandals.

The evidence emerged among thousands of archaeological objects found in the River Tees at Piercebridge, near Darlington, by divers Bob Middlemass and Rolf Mitchinson.

This is the North East

Plans for Iron Age replica

A REPLICA of an Iron Age house used by the first settlers in Ryedale is set to be built by young offenders in the grounds of Ryedale Folk Museum at Hutton-le-Hole.

The venture, which is expected to cost £25,000, will see the 10-metre long house become a major new attraction at the popular museum, says curator Mike Benson.

"The Iron Age people were the first to live in Ryedale and farm the land," he said.

The ambitious scheme, which has involved extensive research, is to be linked with the museum's cornfield site at the northern part of the grounds.

This is Ryedale

Multimedia firm scoops award for epic recreation

GROUND-BREAKING work on an epic project to revive an ancient city in Israel has won an accolade for a York multimedia company.

The Continuum Group has secured the Museums And Heritage Show Award 2005 for excellence overseas - one of the UK's top honours in the industry.

Continuum, based at St Edmunds House, Margaret Street, picked up the prize for its multi-media work for Caesarea Maritima - an ancient Roman city on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean in Israel.

Continuum brought the city back to life during the six-year project, turning it into a leading visitor attraction for the 21st century.

This is York

Aristocrat's bathing room is unearthed

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are hoping to unearth fresh information about the lifestyle of 17th Century aristocrats after re-opening rooms at Bolsover Castle which have remained sealed for more than 100 years.

The castle is undergoing an improvement programme, and its owners, English Heritage are taking the opportunity to break through into some rooms which were sealed for safety reasons as the building crumbled into disrepair more than a century ago.

It is now believed one of the rooms was converted to a bathing room for owner Sir William Cavendish, with a boiler room alongside.

English Heritage spokesman John Burditt said: "We are trying to improve visitor access to parts of the castle and to further our knowledge of the site at the same time.
"Some doorways have been opened up which have not been open for more than 100 years.
"We are quite excited because we think one room is a bathing house.

Yorkshire Post Today

International alliance to unlock secrets of Egyptian mummies

Two world-renowned teams of experts on Egyptian mummies have joined forces in an international effort to better understand disease and its treatment in ancient Egypt.

The University of Manchester's Centre for Biomedical Egyptology and Cairo's National Research Center have signed a formal agreement to enhance future academic research and teaching in the field.

The Manchester-Cairo alliance will promote cooperation between the two institutions by supporting joint research activities and encouraging visits and exchanges by their staff and students.

"This is a unique opportunity to work with Egypt's foremost, scientific-research institution and share our expertise," said Professor Rosalie David, head of Egyptian-mummy studies in Manchester.

University of Manchester

EU shot in the arm for Acropolis

An extra 5 million euros will be provided for the Acropolis conservation works, bringing the total of European Union and national funding for the mammoth project up to 12 million euros over the next two years, the government said yesterday.

While announcing the extra funding, a Culture Ministry release urged state archaeologists and conservators handling the works — which started in 1975 and are not expected to finish before 2020 — to step up their pace and improve the project’s organization.

“Works on the monuments, and on the new Acropolis Museum, must be speeded up so that our country can present credible arguments both in seeking extra [EU] funds for culture and in demanding the return of the Parthenon sculptures,” the ministry said.

Greece has linked its lagging efforts to build the new museum under the ancient citadel to its campaign for the return of the British Museum’s Elgin Collection of sculptures from the fifth-century BC. temple. The museum was supposed to have been ready last summer. But, so far, only the foundations have been laid.


Castle's Elizabethan Lost Garden to Be Restored

A romantic garden created by the Earl of Leicester for Queen Elizabeth I is to be restored at the largest ruined castle in England, it emerged today.

English Heritage said the ambitious scheme to recreate the lost garden at Kenilworth Castle, in Warwickshire, is at the heart of a multi-faceted development and restoration programme.

Kenilworth Castle has been the setting for pageantry, romance and political intrigue for over eight centuries and attracts some 95,000 visitors each year.

Stunning archaeological evidence discovered last year beneath the existing 1970s garden has prompted English Heritage experts to believe that a more accurate representation of the garden that Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, arduously created in 1575 to impress Queen Elizabeth I on her 19-day visit, can be reconstructed.

The Scotsman

Second Oldest Wine in the World

The monk Martin Luther may have once said, "beer is made by men, wine by god", but archaeologists claim to have found the oldest wine in the Mediterranean region, and it was made by Cypriots.

Archaeologists have discovered the deposits of wine in terracotta jars dating from the 4th century BC, making it the oldest sample of wine in the Mediterranean region and the second oldest wine in the world.

Reuters Video

Metal detector treasures on display at town's museum

AN ANGLO-Saxon pendant dating from the seventh century and a 550-year-old silver gilt ring have gone on display in North Yorkshire two years after they were discovered.
The two pieces of ancient jewellery have been bought by Harrogate Council's museums and arts section after they were declared treasure under the Treasure Act of 1996.

The ring and pendant were discovered in separate finds in the Kirk Deighton area of North Yorkshire, and were kept by the British Museum until an inquest was held to deem that the jewellery was treasure.

The Government's treasure valuation committee is understood to have split the undisclosed sum paid for the jewellery between the metal detectorists responsible for the finds and the owners of the land where the discoveries were made.

The ring and the pendant have now gone on display at the Courthouse Museum at Knaresborough Castle.

Yorkshire Post Today

Loch Lomond dig finds lost 'national treasures'

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed a "vast array of important national treasures" at a Loch Lomond site which shows signs of human settlement from four different historical periods spanning 4,000 years.

The dig, at the location of a new golf resort and time-share development at Midross, has revealed "extremely rare artefacts" including an ornate Iron Age glass bead believed to be only the second discovered in Scotland.

Experts believe the 300-acre site also contains an early Christian burial ground with possible Viking or Norse connections, a complete shale bracelet, a roundhouse believed to be from a Neolithic or Bronze Age settlement, a blacksmith’s iron-smelting workshop where weapons were made and an Iron Age settlement covering 1,000 square metres.

The artefacts were discovered by Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) while working for the De Vere Hotel Group, which is developing the area.

The Scotsman

Scrub fire turns back the ages

A SCRUB fire has proved an unexpected boon for archaeologists.

A Bronze Age burial site's discovery has now been confirmed by a new report after almost a year of work.

The fire destroyed a large area of heather and scrub above Fishguard's ferry port in Pembrokeshire. But it did reveal evidence of field boundaries and a burial mound indicating the presence of a 3,000-year-old farming settlement.

Now experts confirm the finds are genuine.

Polly Groom, an archaeologist for Pembrokeshire National Park, working with Cambrian Archaeology, said, "We believed that this could be a Bronze Age burial site, dating from perhaps 3,000 years ago, but now we have the proof.

I C Wales

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thornborough Free Festival

Matty Jacobs came to TimeWatch less than a month ago suggesting he could set
up a gig to raise funds and awareness of the TimeWatch campaign. In a very
short period of time we realised that local support was so strong that we
had a full blown festival on our hands! On Saturday 4th June, the delightful
town of Masham will be host to one of Britain’s most unusual festivals – a
mixture of music, art and henges!

With another 30 bands playing at three venues, a cabaret bar, art displays,
street entertainment and even hot air balloons this promises to be one of
the most memorable days of the year – and it’s free!

TimeWatch will be running TimeWatch Café – a venue for talks during the day,
and cabaret at night. We also intend to put on a range of other activities
throughout the town intended to educate and entertain. We need volunteers to
help out in a number of roles.

Thornborough Free Festival

See also: Timewatch web site

Quarry site shows historic activity

A QUARRY firm's own archaeologists said a site chosen for excavation should not be disturbed, according to campaigners.

Pressure group Timewatch said finds from an archaeological study paid for by Tarmac Northern meant no further quarrying should be allowed at Nosterfield Quarry, near Masham, North Yorkshire.

Quarry bosses said the study of Ladybridge Farm found "thin and scattered evidence of activity dating back to the Mesolithic period that had been dispersed by thousands of years of farming".

But George Chaplin, chairman of Timewatch, said a site of even greater archaeological potential than even they had suspected had been uncovered.

This is Richmond

Archaeologists Unearth Britain's Own Miniature Coliseum

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Britain’s own miniature Coliseum, it was revealed today.

The two-tier stone built structure, in Chester, which dates back to 100AD, hosted gladiatorial contests, floggings and public executions.

Experts say the amphitheatre is the only one of its kind in Britain and the new evidence proves that Chester must have been an important site within the Roman Empire.

Dan Garner, senior archaeologist for Chester City Council, said: “Previous findings have suggested that the amphitheatre was a two-tier structure, but it was always believed the second tier was made of timber.

“We have now discovered the upper level was actually made of stone and stood about ten metres (33ft) high.

The Scotsman

Ägyptisches Museum der Uni Bonn zeigt "Bilder des Orients"

Bereits seit den frühen 80er Jahren bereist die studierte Ägyptologin und Fotografin Edith Bernhauer den Orient. Auf mehr als 30 Reisen in den Mittleren und Nahen Osten ist ein großes Werk von Schwarz- Weiß-Fotografien entstanden, das die Welt des Orients einfängt. Das Ägyptische Museum der Universität Bonn zeigt vom 21. Mai bis zum 14. August eine Auswahl ihrer Bilder.

Motive wie traditionelle Kaffeehäuser, die Menschen der Straße oder auch Landschaften und Architektur entführen in eine faszinierend andere Welt. Mit diskretem Blick begibt sich das Auge auf Spurensuche. Dabei steht neben den streng gegliederten Stadtstrukturen und Stillleben vor allem das Porträt im Vordergrund. Mit präziser Beobachtungsgabe und großem Einfühlungsvermögen rücken die Bilder den einfachen Menschen in den Mittelpunkt.


Acropolis to be free of scaffolding by 2006, restoration experts say

Ongoing restoration work on the Acropolis will be completed on schedule, and all scaffolding currently encumbering the ancient citadel will be removed by 2006, Greek archaeologists supervising the project have said.

"The Acropolis works...are proceeding rapidly," Acropolis Restoration Service (YSMA) director Maria Ioannidou told an annual conference on the project's progress Monday.

"According to (our) plans, the current works will be completed at the end of 2006," she said.

Last month, Greece's culture ministry said it was considering an appeal for private investor funds to help speed up the Acropolis conservation effort, which has dragged on for 30 years.

Yahoo News

They came, they saw, they bought the souvenir

A series of finds unearthed at a previously unknown Roman amphitheatre in Chester suggest the habits of sports fans have not changed in almost two millennia, archaeologists said yesterday.

Milling about outside the ground, spectators picked up fast food on the way to their seats. Stalls offered cheap souvenirs of the fearsome encounters and feats of physical prowess that took place in front of thousands of fans.

A series of finds from the excavation provide a glimpse into the lives of those who attended gladiatorial contests, floggings and public executions 1,900 years ago.

The remains of flimsy wooden structures thought to have been stalls were found outside the arena and alongside beef ribs and chicken bones - believed to have been the left-overs of Roman Britain's version of fast food.

The Telegraph

Piece be with you

The Thracian king Seutus III, whose gold mask was unearthed in 2004 by Bulgarian archaeologists, has been chopped with an axe after his death, an expert research showed.

According to archaeologists this discovery is pure sensation because it proves the theory that ancient Thracians used to chop into pieces their rulers' bodies and buried them in different places.

The discovery was made after an examination of the king's bones, which were found in a tomb near the Shipka Peak, southern Bulgaria in 2004.

Only his legs and lower jaw were found together with the 680 g gold mask.

Rougue Classicism

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Did the Vikings drive natives from the isles?

VIKING settlers may have "ethnically cleansed" Scotland's islands, waging a genocidal campaign against native Pictish tribes as they arrived, according to evidence uncovered by archaeologists.

Excavations on Orkney could finally settle a centuries-old historical debate over whether the Norsemen integrated with indigenous locals or slaughtered them at the dawn of the last millennium.

Work at Langskaill farm, in Westray, shows signs of a Pictish culture vanish abruptly with the arrival of the Scandinavians, underlining the theory that the Northern Isles were taken violently.

The dig uncovered remains dating from the early Iron Age through to the fourteenth century, with the pre-Norse evidence disappearing suddenly as the settlers arrived in larger numbers.

A Viking-Norse longhouse was unearthed, which was built directly over an earlier earth house and part of a Pictish house, probably indicating a takeover of the site and adjoining lands.

Olwyn Owen, a senior inspector of ancient monuments with Historic Scotland, which was one of the excavation's sponsors, said: "This site shows a very clear change of material culture but it doesn't show what actually happened to the Picts. That is very difficult to prove."

The Herald

Um die Wurst: Vom Essen und Trinken im Mittelalter

Wien Museum Karlsplatz, A-1040 Wien, Karlsplatz

2. Juni 2005 bis 8. Jänner 2006

Dienstag bis Sonntag und Feiertag, 9.00 Uhr bis 18.00 Uhr

Besonders für den Menschen im Mittelalter war, neben dem Tod, Essen das Hauptinteresse am Dasein, weil es nicht nur dem Überleben diente, sondern auch Ausdruck von sozialem Status, Macht, Reichtum und religiöser Lebensführung war. Der Umgang mit Essen und Trinken, von der Produktion bis zur Entsorgung der Stoffwechselprodukte, stellt ein wesentliches Element in der mittelalterlichen Gesellschaft dar; und es gibt kaum einen Bereich, vom Recht über die Medizin bis hin zur Religion, der nicht mit Essen und Trinken verbunden war.

Wien Museum Exhibition

Monday, May 16, 2005

Cyprus 'first to make wine'

Cyprus was the first Mediterranean country to make wine, an Italian archaeologist has claimed.

Maria-Rosaria Belgiorno said she uncovered evidence, during an archaeological dig near the southern coastal town of Limassol, that Cypriots produced wine up to 6,000 years ago, AFP reports.

'At Pyrgos we found two jugs used for wine and the seeds of the grapes. And at Erimi, of the 18 pots we looked at, 12 were used for wine between 3,500BC and 3,000BC,' Belgiorno was quoted as saying in the Cyprus Weekly newspaper.

It was previously believed that the Mediterranean wine-making tradition originated in what is now Turkey and Syria, or with worshippers of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus.

The world's first wine is thought to have been made from rice in China around 9,000 years ago, followed by a grape-based alcohol not entirely dissimilar to modern day claret in what is today's Iran 7,000 years ago.



Jf Warren was right on the mark when he stated that we "just can't trust those in power", when it comes to doing the right thing where the future of Bath is concerned (Letters, May 10). Bath's past is its future and the city needs to preserve as many of its old buildings as possible if it is to retain World Heritage status.

From a commercial point of view, Bath is dying but the whole of the United Kingdom is similarly affected by this blight and our so-called 'leaders' - yes, Blair, you - need to get to grips with the importance of our rich heritage and launch a campaign to entice foreign visitors back to the UK.

Readers might like to be reminded that Tony Blair couldn't even be bothered to show his face in support of VE celebrations across Europe, sending instead his deputy, John Despot, to 'make up numbers'.

Shame on you, Blair. You got in for a third term by the skin of your NHS teeth, so please have the decency to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives during two global wars to enable the west to live in freedom and stop fobbing us off with "too busy" excuses.

This is Bath


Skeletons belonging to some 35 corpses have surfaced from a Portuguese excavation site which archaelogists believe could be one of the the largest medieval Muslim burial grounds in Europe. The corpses, found in vaults carved out of the rockface were buried facing due west in the direction of the Muslim holy city, Mecca. The remains were unearthed at the Largo de Candido Dos Reis park, near the northern Portuguese city of Santarem.

Local authorities believe the burial ground, discovered by Portuguese archaeologist, Antonio Matias, could extend over an area of 3,400 square metres and that more graves will be discovered as digging at the site continues.

During almost 800 years of Islamic occupation in the Iberian peninsula - which contains Spain and Portugal - Santarem was the capital of an independent Muslim kingdom. While numerous archaeological traces dating from the Islamic period have been found in Spain, where the style of many historical buildings display a Muslim influence, no such finds had been unearthed in Portugal.

From 714 AD Santarém served as an important centre of learning for Islamic culture until the city was occupied by a group of Christian Templar Knights, in 1147 AD.

ADN Kronos International

Revealed: how rowdy schoolboys knocked a leg off one of the Elgin Marbles

The Elgin Marbles have survived an invasion by Turkish hordes and a bombardment by the Venetian Navy - but two rowdy schoolboys were too much for them, secret papers reveal.

The documents, released by the British Museum under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the 2,500-year-old antiquities have had to be repaired after a number of mishaps, acts of theft and vandalism by visitors.

The papers, which were released at the behest of The Telegraph, also shed new light on the continuing battle for control of the antiquities, which were removed by the seventh Lord Elgin from the Parthenon between 1801 and 1804.

Some officials at the British Museum believe that their own institution is superior to the Parthenon and regard Lord Elgin as a hero who rescued the friezes from a Greek public unable to appreciate their worth.

The Telegraph

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Tara M3 decision a bad day for Ireland’s heritage says Green Party

Today’s decision by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Dick Roche TD to give the go-ahead for the M3 Motorway in the vicinity of the Hill of Tara is an enormous mistake said the Green Party today.

Green Party Environment, Heritage and Local Government spokesperson Ciarán Cuffe TD said that, “A motorway and a spaghetti junction this close to one of the most historic and sacred sites in Ireland is an enormous mistake.

This is a bad day for history, for heritage and for the Hill of Tara. We all want to see progress, but not at the cost of our heritage.”

“Dick Roche could have refused to issue the archaeological licence. This would have caused Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority to go back to the drawing board and consider alternative routes east or west of the Tara complex.“

Politics IE


Museum curator credited with finding oldest 'steel'

Two pieces of metal unearthed at colonial ruins in Turkey have been deemed the world's oldest examples of a crude type of steel, dating back to 1800 B. C.

The discovery has been credited to Hideo Akanuma, senior curator at Iwate Prefectural Museum, who tested the pieces, which were excavated in 1994 at the Kaman-Kalehoyuk ruins, 100 kilometers southeast of Ankara.

Both pieces measure between one and two centimeters long and about one centimeter wide and were excavated by archaeologists of the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan, who started digging at the ruins in 1986.

In his research, Akanuma magnified the metal pieces 1,000 times and found that their texture was similar to steel.

Daily Yomiuri

Gravel extraction threatens a Welsh valley rich in archaeology

An expert called for a halt on planned gravel extraction in a Welsh valley rich in archaeology. Professor Simon Haslett, from Bath Spa University College, said the range of finds he had unearthed told a previously unknown story of more than 7,000 years of human history in the Olway valley between Monmouth and Usk.

In just a short excavation in a small trench, Prof Haslett found neolithic flint tools and the possible site of a major Roman road. However, the site has been earmarked for quarrying by Monmouthshire County Council on behalf of the Government. But Prof Haslett said there were too many unanswered questions and more had to be done to discover what other archaeological riches lie under the soil. "If we have to extract gravel from the flood plain then first of all it requires extensive archaeological surveying, " he said. "A lot of archaeology could be lost if gravel extraction went ahead and bulldozers came in and indiscriminately dug up the valley. Prof Haslett said he hoped local archaeologists would take up the baton and lead the way in discovering what finds were there and what story it could tell about the area. No one from Monmouthshire Council was available for comment.

Stone Pages

'Stonerowing' experiment by the Stonehengineers

The Stonehengineers are a group of archaeologists, scientists and antiquarians investigating how Neolithic communities may have transported and erected large stones to produce megalithic monuments. They will be attempting a large-scale experiment this weekend 14/15 May at the National Tramway Museum, Crich, Derbyshire (England). It will be filmed by a TV production company and all are welcome.

Saturday will be devoted to 'stonerowing' a ten ton block several hundred yards up a gradient similar to those between the Marlborough Downs and Stonehenge using a team of ten or twelve people. Time allowing, Sunday will be devoted to constructing a wooden tower, rowing the block onto it and perhaps dropping it vertically to confirm calculations in advance of a larger event next month.

Stone Pages

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Past − Present − Future in the field of Cultural Heritage and New Technologies

7th-10th November, 2005

Vienna, Austria, City Hall

Wigan to remember its Roman past

The Grand Arcade site in Wigan is hosting an open day on Saturday for people to view remains found during recent archaeological work there.

A sequence of remains have been uncovered, which date from Roman, Medieval and later periods.

The Roman remains are particularly significant, as they provide detailed evidence of the nature of the Roman occupation of Wigan.

Little is known about Roman Wigan, known in Roman literature as Coccium.

A team from Oxford Archaeology will be on hand to guide the public through the findings, with information boards available showing the history of the site and interpretations of the remains.

BBC News

Rolling Stone Finally Gets Bit Of Satisfaction

AFTER travelling the world with The Rolling Stones, guitarist Bill Wyman has discovered a passion much closer to his Suffolk home. While his place in rock & roll history is assured, it's the history of his home turf that's now firmly grabbed his attention.

As the Historical Association launches Local History Month, running until June 5, to encourage everyone to get more involved in the history of their area, Bill is happy to wax lyrical on his own journey of discovery.

Having swapped his famous bass guitar for the more sedate company of his trusty metal detector since the early 90s, Bill's latest book, Treasure Islands, written with Richard Havers, is testament to his burgeoning knowledge of Britain's archaeological treasures.

"It took a lot of research, but that's what I like doing. If I do something, I have to do it the best I can," says the self- confessed perfectionist.


Renewed dam project threatens historic site

Plans for the construction of a massive dam on the Tigris River in South Eastern Turkey, which threatens to submerge Hasankeyf, a site of great historic importance, are again underway, despite the apparent success of an international campaign to halt the project in 2002 and numerous promises by the Turkish government to save the town. The renewal of the project appears to flaunt many of the recommendations attached to Turkey’s proposed accession to the European Union.

The Ilisu Dam, part of the Greater Anatolia Project, a series of hydroelectric plants and dams, is all the more controversial because of its location in the predominantly Kurdish south-east of Turkey. Evidence has recently emerged that a new consortium has been formed for the construction of the dam. It includes the Austrian firm VA Tech, currently the subject of a takeover bid by Siemens.

Hasankeyf was an important crossroads between East and West, occupied by nine major civilisations from the Assyrians to the Ottomans.

If the dam goes ahead the whole town will be submerged with the exception of the citadel, perched on top of the cliffs. Among the losses will be the Sultan Suleiman Mosque, the minaret of which is one of the most outstanding examples of early 15th-century Ayyubid architecture; the cylindrical tomb of Zeynel Bey, a rare example of Central Asian style architecture in Anatolia; and the tomb of the holy Imam Abdullah, grandson of Cafer-i Tayyar, uncle of the prophet Mohammed, a shrine visited by about 30,000 Shia pilgrims each year.

The Art Newspaper

Battle for the books of Herculaneum

Buried deep in the Villa dei Papiri, covered by the molten lava of Vesuvius, lies one of the finest libraries of the ancient world. But excavation may destroy more than it saves

They look like lumps of coal, and when the Swiss military engineer and his team who first explored the buried town of Herculaneum in the 18th century encountered them, that was how they were treated: as ancient rubbish, to be dumped in the sea.

But before being hit by a cascade of molten volcanic rock at more than 400C (the so-called pyroclastic flow that inundated the town), these now-blackened and nondescript objects were part of the library of the grandest villa in the town, where the father-in-law of Julius Caesar was regaled with the epigrammatic gems of his in-house Epicurean philosopher, Philodemus.

They were the papyri on which the ancient world preserved its literature, as the tunnelling archaeologists of 250 years ago belatedly understood. Some 1,800 have so far been recovered, and although both papyrus and ink were carbonised, modern thermal imaging techniques have made it possible to decipher them, with the help of a considerable amount of computing muscle.

The Independent

Cypriots made Mediterranean's first wine: archaeologist

Cyprus was the first Mediterranean country to make wine, an Italian archaeologist said Friday in a declaration likely to upset other nations in the region claiming to have been the first to develop the tipple.

Maria-Rosaria Belgiorno said she uncovered evidence during an archaeological dig near the southern coastal town of Limassol that Cypriots produced wine up to 6,000 years ago.

"At Pyrgos we found two jugs used for wine and the seeds of the grapes. It's amazing. And at Erimi, of the 18 pots we looked at, 12 were used for wine between 3,500 BC and 3,000 BC," Belgiorno was quoted as saying in the Cyprus Weekly newspaper.

It was previously believed that the Mediterranean wine-making tradition originated in what is now Turkey and Syria, or with worshippers of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus.

Turkish Press

Friday, May 13, 2005

Medieval seal donated to museum

A metal detectorist who found a bronze fob dating back to 1320AD has donated it to a museum.

Tyndall Jones, from Littlehampton, took the item to a finds session at Littlehampton Museum.

Finds officer Liz Wilson then sent it to the British Museum for analysis.

It was identified as a copper-alloy seal matrix with a conical handle which would have been cast and then engraved to a high standard.

It features the image of a curled-up lion.

Above that is a male bust facing right with curly hair in the Classical style.

It was used to seal important documents and was later replaced by the signature used by most people today.

The Argus

Archaeology museum wins top award

A 100-year-old museum, home to one of the world's largest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology, has won an industry award.
A panel of experts judged University College London's Petrie Museum to have remained relevant and interesting since its creation in 1892.

BBC presenter Sophie Raworth presented the award at a ceremony on Wednesday.

Some 80,000 objects depicting life in the Nile Valley since prehistory are housed in the central London museum.

BBC News

Iron Age settlement halts road in Scotland

An Iron Age settlement has brought work on a major road bypass in Scotland to a standstill. Contractors are twiddling their thumbs while archaeologists excavate three 2500-year-old houses that were unearthed directly in the way of the road. Any further discoveries at the Aberdeenshire site could cause a rethink of where the road will go.

Analysts found shards of broken pottery during a check of the Oldmeldrum site last month, halting building work. They discovered the remains of three dwellings along with domestic debris and evidence of tool-making and cloth-weaving. Aberdeenshire Council's Mike Maysmith said: 'We're more than happy to support something like this - if we hadn't it would have been lost.

Stone Pages

Stockholm's Old Town "300 years older"

Many of the buildings in the jewel of Stockholm's historical crown, Gamla stan, or the Old Town, are up to 300 years older than previously thought.

Two researchers working on the 'Gamla stan building-by-building' project say that they have identified 18 properties which have been dated incorrectly. They were thought to have been built in the 17th and 18th centuries, but in fact were constructed in the 15th century.

The findings, which Dagens Nyheter described as "sensational", were the result of five years' work by a group of enthusiasts who have mapped out two of the most important parts of Gamla stan.

"The written sources, not least the magistrates' court's documents from the middle ages, along with detailed inspections of the facades and interiors, have convinced us that the dates were wrong," said architect Marianne Aaro.

The Local

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Ireland OKs Highway Near Hill of Tara

DUBLIN, Ireland - Overruling the protests of environmentalists and historians, the government on Wednesday approved construction of a highway that will pass near the Hill of Tara, an ancient site where St. Patrick reportedly confronted and converted pagans.

Opponents had demanded a different route farther from the hill, which was a popular meeting point for Irish kings and chieftains from pre-Christian times until the 11th century.

As a critical step toward building the M3 highway, Environment Minister Dick Roche approved 38 archaeological digs along the proposed route, which will pass about 1 mile east of the hill. The digs must come before the highway is built, and had Roche refused permission, the government's National Roads Authority would have been obliged to explore a different route.

The road project actually will make possible significant archaeological exploration, Roche said, adding that he would revisit the issue if archeologists made important discoveries that couldn't be moved.

Yahoo News


Resort reclaims its lost treasure

A rare Bronze Age sword lay for 3,000 years buried in mud in Scarborough – and then spent another 25 years buried in the basement of the British Museum.

Mark Branagan reports on how the treasure has finally been returned to the resort.
It was the very last day of the 1980 dig on Scarborough Castle's headland. But local archaeologist Tony Pacitto knew that the ground had not given up all its secrets.
Instincts led him to excavate a pit beneath a wall and there – among bits of pottery – he made the resort's greatest archaeological discovery.

The subdued glint of bronze among the mud turned a routine excavation into the find of a lifetime

It was a 3,000-year-old sword, perfectly preserved, and discarded by someone who for once had not followed the Bronze Age ritual tradition of breaking up the blade into fragments and casting it into water.

Mr Pacitto knew he had stumbled across a national treasure that visitors would come from afar to see.

Yorkshire Post Today


The shortlist for the 2005 Conservation Awards was announced on May 9 2005. With the support of Sir Paul McCartney, a partnership of the UK’s conservation and restoration bodies recognise outstanding efforts in care and conservation.

As Mark Wood, chairman of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council which originally set up the awards, put it, the prizes reward behind the scenes work.

"Conservators are the health professionals of the heritage sector," he said. "Much of their work takes place behind the scenes, but awards like this help bring conservation to the fore, so that people can appreciate the skills and craftsmanship of the profession."

24 Museum News

Money boost for castle ruin fight

The fight to save a decaying castle has taken another step forward with the launch of a feasibility study.
Campaigners have been trying to restore the privately-owned Gwrych Castle in Abergele for almost a decade.

Now they are trying to persuade Conwy council to try to compulsorily purchase the early 19th Century 28-bedroom house which is falling into disrepair.

A £10,000 feasibility study has been started after the preservation trust received public funding.

BBC News

Ireland Divided Over Hill of Tara Plan

HILL OF TARA, Ireland -- This grassy, windswept hill outside Dublin was long the spiritual and political center of Ireland, an earthen fort where Celtic chieftains jockeyed for power and legend says St. Patrick confronted paganism.

Today, the Hill of Tara is at the center of another showdown -- over whether Ireland, a rapidly expanding country where construction often uncovers the past, can reconcile its rich heritage with the demands of modern life.

Capping two years of arguments, the government on Wednesday authorized archaeologists to begin excavating 38 sites along the proposed route of a new highway past the hill. Environment Minister Dick Roche and some state archaeologists say the road project will uncover historical material that otherwise would remain buried.

But an alliance of environmentalists, archaeologists and other academics warn that the road will scar Ireland's most significant landscape.

"The Hill of Tara is our ancient, sacred capital. It was the ceremonial center of Ireland for 4,000 years. It was there even when the Celts arrived 2,000 years ago," said Muireann ni Bhrolchain, lecturer in medieval Irish studies at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The boy behind the mask: how scientists built the face of Tutankhamun

he face of Tutankhamun, the Egyptian boy king whose early death sparked an historical murder mystery, was revealed yesterday.

Archaeologists working with forensic specialists and artists have created reconstructions of the pharaoh's head using information from a computed tomography (CT) scan carried out on his mummified body earlier this year.

The cause of Tutankhamun's death around 1325BC has long been a matter of historical controversy. Speculation about royal intrigue, plots and cold-blooded assassination were bolstered by the discovery of skull fragments in X-rays carried out in 1968 by anatomists from Liverpool University.

However, archaeologists who carried out the scan in January this year recently concluded that there was no evidence of foul play and that the king might have died from infections to a leg wound.

The Telegraph

CT Scans Show What King Tut Looked Like

The first ever facial reconstructions based on CT scans of King Tutankhamun's mummy have produced images strikingly similar to the boy pharaoh's ancient portraits, Egypt's top archaeologist said Tuesday.

One of the models shows a baby-faced young man with chubby cheeks and a round chin - with a resemblance to the famous gold mask of King Tut found in his tomb in 1922 by British excavation Howard Carter.

Three teams of forensic artists and scientists - from France, the United States and Egypt - built models of the boy pharaoh's face based on some 1,700 high-resolution photos from CT scans of his mummy to reveal what he looked like the day he died nearly 3,300 years ago.

Red Nova

An Iron Age fashion disaster, but worth its weight in gold

As a fashion statement, frankly it's a disaster - no styling, no detail, not so much as a low wedge heel. The shapeless lump of soggy grot is however true treasure: the oldest shoe in Britain.
Comparison with a modern trainer suggests a chunky size 10 Iron Age foot and a cursing owner who probably lost his shoe in a well in Somerset about 2,500 years ago.

The 30cm (12 inch) piece of leather, still flexible because it has been kept soggy and away from air for thousands of years, has a few stitches, and holes punched for thongs which would have gathered it into shape and tied it on to the foot.

The Guardian

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Archaeologists find 'Britain's oldest shoe'

rchaeologists excavating a quarry in Somerset claim to have found Britain's oldest shoe, believed to be 2,000 years old.

They said the shoe, which was found at Whitehall Quarry, near Wellington, was the equivalent to a modern size 9 or 10, and was so well preserved that the stitching and lace holes were visible in the leather.

It was taken to a specialist conservation centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and was expected to go on display at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

Article continues
A team from Exeter Archaeology, led by Stephen Reed, came across the shoe while excavating close to a Saxon iron smelting site that was discovered in 1989. They found a Bronze Age "industrial" site consisting of two mounds and two water-filled troughs.

The Guardian

A Roman Legacy in the Balkans: The Vlachs

This year marks the 100th anniversary of an imperial decree, issued by Ottoman Sultan Abdual Hamid II, which gave Vlachs their first collective rights. They were enabled to use their own language in churches and schools, as well as to choose their own local councilors. Thus they were able to found schools, churches and other national establishments. Between 1908 and 1913 they also had a deputy, a senator and a minister in the Ottoman Parliament. On 2 May, Vlachs all over Southeast European celebrated their International Day.

Traditionally a shepherd people, their search for better pastures has led them across the Balkans and Eastern Europe, and Vlachs can be found as far north as Poland. Their dedication to a pastoral way of life has often kept them away from the bitter ethnic fighting which has ravaged the Balkans over the centuries, and they co-exist peacefully with the majority populations wherever they live. At the same time, however, they have struggled to maintain their identity.

The origin of Vlachs, like that of the linguistically related Romanians, remains an unresolved puzzle. Both peoples are considered by some to represent descendants of Roman peoples in the Balkans, while others argue that they descended from Romanised colonists. Romanian culture was influenced by the Slavs, while Vlachs, originating south of the Danube, show Byzantine and Greek influences.

South East European Times

Ipswich men find Roman treasure trove

FOR nearly 2,000 years a treasure trove of Roman coins lay hidden just below the surface of an Ipswich field.

But today around 1,000 coins are being examined at the British Museum after being unearthed by two metal detecting enthusiasts.

After Suffolk had thundered to the sound of the Roman legions, the coins lay undisturbed through two world wars, invasions of the Saxons and Vikings and the reigns of numerous kings and queens.

And all it took to unearth them was two men from Chantry with a metal detector.

Rick Talman and Chris Roper could not believe their eyes when they uncovered more than one thousand of the bronze and silver coins in a field just outside the town.

Evening Star

Iron Age shoe unearthed at quarry

A shoe thought to be at least 2,000 years old, and the oldest in the UK, has been dug up at an English quarry.
The Iron Age relic was found in a hollowed tree trunk at Whiteball Quarry, near Wellington, Somerset.

Archaeologists say the shoe is the equivalent of a size 10 and is so well-preserved that stitch and lace holes are still visible in the leather.

It has been sent for conservation to Wiltshire and should be displayed at Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.

BBC News

Archaeologists find Britain's oldest shoe

Archaeologists said on Tuesday they believed they had dug up Britain's oldest shoe, dating from the early Iron Age about 2,000 years ago.

The leather shoe, about 30 cm long -- the modern equivalent of a British size 10 which suggests its owner was a man -- was discovered in a hollowed-out tree trunk in a quarry in southwest England.

It was so well preserved it still had visible holes for lacing and stitching, said Richard Woodgate, project archaeologist for Exeter Archaeology which made the find.

"It's believed to be the oldest shoe in Britain and has national and European significance because it is so rare for preserved leather to be identifiable as a thing," he told Reuters.

Yahoo News

Monday, May 09, 2005

Castle's history goes on display

Archaeological finds dating back to Roman times are among items on show at a new exhibition at one of Britain's most important historical strongholds.

Exhibits excavated on site at Pevensey Castle in East Sussex include domestic items such as candlesticks and hair pins used by Roman women.

There are also military items, weaponry and ammunition such as arrowheads, crossbow bolts and cannon balls.

The exhibition, opening on Monday, has an interactive model of the castle.

BBC News

200 skeletons unearthed in field

A load of old bones, dug up during ploughing at a North Berwick farm, have turned out to be an exciting archaeological discovery which could provide new clues to East Lothian's past.

Up to 200 skeletons dating from the medieval period and possibly earlier have been unearthed during subsequent investigations at Auldhame Farm near Tantallon Castle.

It has been described as "an extraordinary find" in an area steeped in the history and folklore of St Baldred who founded a monastery at nearby Tyninghame and lived a hermit's life on the Bass Rock before his death in 756AD.

East Lothian Today

Road digs reveal ancient remains in Kent

Archaeologists have discovered iron age remains under the route of a new bypass around the village of Leybourne (Kent, England). In a dig before the construction work, ditches containing pottery, burnt daub, charcoal and animal bone were found. Kent County Council archaeologist, John Williams, said the remains suggested there were Iron Age farming settlements in the area more than 2,000 years ago.

The council said some of the remains would be preserved beneath the road as construction work gets under way. Archaeologists will now analyse the findings from the dig by Wessex Archaeology, Archaeology South East and Canterbury Archaeological Trust. "This work is important because it helps us to understand the early landscape around Leybourne and West Malling," Mr Williams said. "We can now see that people were living here at least 2,000 years ago in an area where we previously had little evidence."

Archaeologists have also unearthed a prehistoric sickle, which would have been used by some of the earliest farmers in the area. The metallic harvesting implement was retrieved by a team of experts from a second occupation area close to the junction between the A20 and the A228. The object, which was discovered when diggers began to probe an ancient pit, will provide insight into the agricultural existence of some of the first Malling settlers.

Stone Pages

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Archaeological Excavations at Cathedral Square

An archaeological investigation is currently underway at Cathedral Square, Mdina, after the ongoing paving project came across a stretch of ancient masonry directly in front of the Cathedral parvis.

The archaeological work, which is being carried out under the direction of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, is revealing previously unknown aspects of this historic town's ancient history.

The Superintendence established that the newly uncovered remains consisted of parts of a very extensive ancient monument, possibly dating to the Roman era. The remains consist of a single line of ancient masonry built in remarkable blocks of Coralline Limestone measuring 1.5 metres in length and 0.5 metres wide. The construction technique of this wall, which has been traced for approximately 8 metres, is very similar to the other monumental structures that date back roughly to the 3rd to 1st Century B.C., when Malta was dominated by the Romans.

Di-Ve News

Saturday, May 07, 2005


St Nicholas' Priory in Exeter is gradually being restored to bring back to life the Tudor house it once was. Courtesy Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.

Gone are the days when museums were a place for whispering adults only and the lesson most kids took home was simply DO NOT TOUCH. These days museums across the country are implementing new education programmes that encourage more young visitors and provide not only a learning, but also a fun experience.

The St. Nicholas Priory Project, run by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter, is one such example. It aims to restore and refurbish the priory as the Tudor merchant’s house it once was, as well as respecting its monastic history.

The finished house will aim to have a particular appeal for school children with specially designed activities including hands on and drama workshops.

24 Hour Museum News

Dig this for a history lesson

DIGGING up the past could have a bright future in York.

The group behind the city's famous Jorvik attraction has won a £750,000 grant from the Millennium Commission to help create a new experience where visitors can part in a simulated archaeological excavation.

Dig! will take the place of the Archaeological Resource Centre in St Saviour's Church, which will close in July.

The York Archaeological Trust says visitors will be able to dig up genuine artefacts from the simulated remains of a Roman fortress, a Viking city, a medieval burial site, and Victorian cottages.

City MP Hugh Bayley and Millennium Commissioner Judith Donovan are to visit the site on Monday.

This is York

Don't let new crusade ruin mystery of chapel

DEPENDING on which school of thought you come from, the Holy Grail is either the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper and which was then used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch his blood as he hung on the cross, or for the more esoterically minded who hold that a union between Jesus and Mary Magdalene produced an offspring, the bloodline of Jesus

For those who side with the first belief, the vaults of Rosslyn Chapel, just outside Edinburgh, have long been rumoured to hold not just the key to the mystery, but to be the actual resting place of the Holy Grail itself, many believing it was brought to the chapel by the Knights Templar, the secret order entrusted with its safekeeping.

This theory, reinforced and given added currency by Dan Brown’s decision to feature the church in his best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, has been around for many decades.

But now, as reported in Wednesday’s Evening News, a man claiming to be a descendant of Hugues de Payens, the first Grand Master of the Knights Templar has called for archaeologists to be allowed to carry out electronic examinations of the 15th century chapel to find out if the ancient relics really are buried there.

The Scotsman

Artefact tag scheme is expanding

A scheme to protect Dartmoor's ancient artefacts from thieves is to be expanded.

The project which uses electronic tags to make items like granite crosses less attractive to criminals is to be used more widely across the South west.

Security measures were introduced after an attempt to remove a granite cross on the moor last year.

BBC News

"Vom Beutetier zum Gefährten: Die Archäologie des Pferdes"

Die Sonderausstellung "Vom Beutetier zum Gefährten: Die Archäologie des Pferdes" im Federseemuseum Bad Buchau präsentiert bis zum 09. Oktober viele Aspekte der kulturhistorisch spannenden und jahrtausendealten Beziehung zwischen Mensch und Pferd.

Eine Beziehung die bereits in den eiszeitlichen Höhlenmalereien ihren Ausdruck fand. Daran kommt der Archäologe nicht vorbei, und ebenso wenig der Besucher. Denn will er die Ausstellung besichtigen, muss er durch eine eigens für diese Ausstellung nachgebaute Höhle der Steinzeit gehen, um die Geschichte der (Wild) Pferde zu erfahren, die über ihren Ursprung, ihre Evolution und ihren Mythos berichtet.

Die Ausstellung, von Archäologen und Zoologen erarbeitet, betrachtet das Pferd im Kontext von Natur, Umwelt und Kulturgeschichte: Sie begleitet Ursprung und Evolution der Wildpferde von der späteiszeitlichen Steppe ins wiederbewaldete Europa, folgt den Spuren ihrer Zähmung bis hin zur Nutzung als Reit- und Lasttier und beleuchtet die Bedeutung des Pferdes in Mythos, Kult und Krieg.


Lunt Roman Fort reopens to the public

THE historic Lunt Roman Fort reopened over the Bank Holiday weekend following £100,000 worth of repair work.

Mike Loades, the ancient weapons expert on the BBC's Time Commanders programme, officially opened the fort in Baginton on Sunday, signalling the start of a two-day re-enactment event at the attraction.

The fort was closed six months ago for repairs to the ramparts around the gatehouse. In addition to the repair work, a new staircase has been built to allow visitors to climb onto the ramparts.

Coventry Observer

Friday, May 06, 2005

Revealed - life in Ffrith BC

FFRITH residents came into contact with their Roman heritage when Time Team probed the area earlier this month.

The excavation cleared up the mystery of Ffrith's Roman links once and for all when archaeologists concluded that walls buried in the village had in fact belonged to a Roman settlement.

Among the finds on the Time Team dig were Roman artifacts that have given archaeologists a glimpse of life in Ffrith as a villager under Roman rule.

Teams of archaeologists uncovered a silver Roman brooch, presenter Tony Robinson's favourite find; a die made from bone, with clearly visible markings; pottery made from a red clay known as Samian ware, which depicts battle scenes; and a fragment of another brooch.

IC North Wales

'Stone circle' is found on moor

Experts are investigating claims by an amateur archaeologist from Bradford that he has found an important ancient monument on Ilkley Moor.

Two weeks ago Gordon Holmes, 52, who has been scouring local landscapes for signs of ancient sacred sites for three decades, was walking on the moor before sunset when he identified "a vague circular outline" surrounding the triangulation point sited on the highest point of the moor.

"It wasn't long before I began to find fallen standing stones strewn about the locality," said Mr Holmes, who is a technician at the University of Bradford. "Besides what appears to be an inner stone circle at this site, there is evidence of an outer circular barrow.

"I reckon there's enough evidence to suggest it could be a stone circle about eight feet in diameter surrounded by a larger one maybe 18 feet in diameter."

This is Bradford

Stony ground

Brought up as a child in the shadow of Hadrian's Wall, I did not recognise it as part of history. We frequently walked, or rode our ponies, along its frontier, often sheltering in the lee of one of the forts or milecastles, with only a blackface tup and a couple of smelly ewes for company. The Roman wall is a masterpiece of engineering, built by man almost 2,000 years ago and, at 84 miles, a frontier that crosses England from sea to sea. Views from the wall are stunning - look north and you can see the Simonside hills and beyond them, the Cheviots. To the south the Pennines hump on the horizon, and on a clear day you can see Skiddaw and Lake District summits.

The Guardian

Neandertals, Hyenas Fought for Caves, Food, Study Says

Neandertals not only fought for their lives against hyenas and other large predators but also battled with them for caves and food.

That's the conclusion drawn by scientists who found a 41,000-year-old Neandertal leg bone in a European cave littered with bones. The bones had been gnawed on by large carnivores or showed the cut marks of stone tools—or both.

The debris provides evidence that Neandertals (also spelled Neanderthals) and large carnivores, mostly hyenas, both used the Les Rochers-de-Villeneuve cave in central western France for shelter.

"The Neandertals and large carnivores occupied the cave in rapid succession," said Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. "We have the bones of herbivores like bison and deer being chewed or processed by both Neandertals and hyenas, and they're both only going to do that if the meat is reasonably fresh, and if there's still something on there to get off."

National Geographic

Some Say His Digging Up of a Legend Is Just a Myth

This is a sublime moment for Andrea Carandini, an imposing man with white hair under a blue beret who looks every inch like what he is: one of Italy's most renowned archaeologists. It is not just that he has discovered something extraordinary underneath the tightly packed ruins of the Roman Forum: a palace that he believes belonged to the first king of Rome, who just maybe was actually named Romulus.

But after 20 years of digging into the very heart of Rome, he is also convinced that now, finally, other scholars, whom he calls "my opponents," will be forced to "shut up."

"I can see, little by little, them falling apart," he said, in English unnervingly more refined than that of most people who grew up speaking it.

"Opponents" may be too strong a word. But in the two decades that Dr. Carandini, 68, has excavated in and around the Palatine Hill, the epicenter of successive generations of Roman rulers, he has without doubt attracted a fair share of skeptics. That is not for his skills as an archaeologist or for his discoveries, which everyone agrees are world class.

New York Times

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Archaeologists who recently discovered an Iron Age settlement in West Malling have since unearthed a 'priceless' artefact.

Diggers from Wessex Archaeology have come across a prehistoric sickle, which would have been used by some of the earliest farmers in the area.

The metallic harvesting implement was retrieved by a team of experts from a second occupation area close to the junction between the A20 and the A228.

The object, which was discovered when diggers began to probe an ancient pit, will provide insight into the agricultural existence of some of the first Malling settlers.

Dr Sue Hamilton, of London's Institute of Archaeology, said: "Sickles obviously made a big change to agriculture because you can encompass a lot of grain with them, whereas earlier farming would have involved picking off individual ears from crops with stone tools."

This is Kent

Digging into the past

REMINDERS of Carlisle’s rich Roman past have been discovered by builders working in West Walls.

The remains, which include a complex under-floor heating system, were found last month while builders were excavating foundations for a property development.

It is believed that they may have been part of a bath-house serving a post house for travelling government officials.

The remains have been removed to be studied, but may return as an display in the garden area of the five flats, to be known as Weaver Court, which will be completed in August.

Dave Sullivan, contracts manager for Boardwell Building company, said: “In the building we were in we had an idea there would be something there.

News and Star

The Seeds of Civilization

Why did humans first turn from nomadic wandering to villages and togetherness? The answer may lie in a 9,500-year-old settlement in central Turkey

Since researchers first began digging at Catalhoyuk (pronounced "Chah-tahl-hew-yook") in the 1960s, they've found more than 400 skeletons under the houses, which are clustered in a honeycomb-like maze. Burying the dead under houses was common at early agricultural villages in the Near East-at Catalhoyuk, one dwelling alone had 64 skeletons.

Archaeologist Ian Hodder and his colleagues are also working to decipher paintings and sculptures found at Catalhoyuk. The surfaces of many houses are covered with murals of men hunting wild deer and cattle and of vultures swooping down on headless people. Some plaster walls bear bas-reliefs of leopards and apparently female figures that may represent goddesses. Hodder is convinced that this symbol-rich settlement, one of the largest and best-preserved Neolithic sites ever discovered, holds the key to prehistoric psyches and to one of the most fundamental questions about humanity: why people first settled in permanent communities.

Smithsonian Magazine

Ancient skeletons were siege soldiers

Nine skeletons found on 4 May last year in Maastricht are of Dutch origin and were probably members of the Staatse leger (State army), Maastricht City Council has revealed.

Research by police and the municipal's archaeological service has indicated that the soldiers were killed and buried during a siege of Maastricht, either in 1592 (with Prince Maurits) or in 1594 or 1632 (with Prince Frederik Hendrik).

The skeletons are currently being stored at the anatomy department of the Leiden University, but later this month they will be transferred to the archaeological department in Maastricht.


1.2m visitors make Edinburgh Castle top tourist attraction

EDINBURGH Castle remains Scotland’s most popular paid-for tourist spot, with more than 1.2 million visitors in 2004, a rise of 6 per cent.

Figures from VisitScotland show Edinburgh also boasts the most popular free attraction in the country, with the National Gallery of Scotland welcoming about 772,000 visitors in 2004 - up 78 per cent on 2003. The big increase is attributed to the opening of the new Weston Link, between the gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy.

The survey, conducted by the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism at Glasgow’s Caledonian University, showed trips to all Scotland’s paid-for and free attractions increased by 2 per cent over the previous year, with more than 38 million visits recorded.

Philip Riddle, the chief executive of VisitScotland, said: "Across the country, we have some outstanding attractions, and that certainly seems to be appreciated by our visitors who, as the results show, are turning out in ever increasing numbers to enjoy what we have to offer."

The Scotsman

Take the Past into Account

The four-month archaeological dig at Newcastle Quayside, which has just come to an end, highlights the time it takes to complete investigations for ancient remains in a city development.

The Tuthill Stairs site, next to the medieval Cooperage pub, where the City Lofts apartments project is now taking shape, uncovered around 2,000 archaeological layers.

Archaeologists have been able to trace the whole sequence of settlement on the site from the 12th to the 16th Centuries.

The site vividly illustrates that no one knows what is hidden underground. In this region we are rich in buried archaeological sites.

Red Nova

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

World's Most Beautiful Mummy

May 3- Archaeologists discovered what could be the most finely decorated mummy ever found in Egypt, Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities said.

Reuters Video

Ancient graves cast new light on history

Ancient graves cast new light on history

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed more than 200 medieval skeletons on a farm.

The graves were discovered when a farmer struck bones while ploughing a field near North Berwick, East Lothian.

Archaeologists have described the find as "extremely interesting".

They have also uncovered the remains of a chapel, thought to be medieval or older and a number of other artefacts including medieval ring brooches.

The discovery was made at Auldhame Farm near Tantallon Castle.

The Scotsman

Unearthing of skeletons sheds light on legend of saint

ABOUT 200 skeletons dating as far back as 1200 years have been unearthed.

The foundations of a medieval church and graveyard have also been found by Historic Scotland near Tantallon Castle, by North Berwick.

Archaeologists were called in earlier this year when human remains were found during ploughing at Auldhame farm.

Some of the graves are believed to be medieval, but others could date from the time of St Baldred, who lived in the eighth century.

The Herald

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A chance to sample medieval village life

The sights and sounds of medieval England will come to life in Kenilworth later this month with one of the most ambitious events on the heritage calendar.

Streets Through Time is a spectacular recreation of a living middle-age village in the grounds of the town's castle and is billed as a "15th century Ideal Home show" by organisers English Heritage.

The site will boast life-sized buildings inhabited by members of the Midlands-based Ferrers Group as well as a variety of craftspeople representing the trades of the time.

Visitors can discover all aspects of life, from tending the livestock and cooking, to cleaning the toilet.

IC Coventry

HEREFORD Cathedral has a new architect.

Robert Kilgour will take over from retiring architect Michael Reardon.

Mr Kilgour first became involved with Hereford Cathedral as a second year student at the Birmingham School of Architecture.

The 40-year-old set up his own business in 2001 and during his time in private practice was appointed as architect to Lichfield and Derby Cathedrals, as well as working on National Trust properties in Herefordshire.

Mr Kilgour will continue to work with the other two cathedrals and other historic buildings.

"Since qualifying I've worked almost exclusively on historic buildings, with the Dean and Chapters of Derby and Lichfield Cathedrals and more locally for the National Trust at Berrington Hall and Croft Castle," he said.

This is Herefordshire


Little Chester Heritage Centre and History Group is holding a guided walk to tell people about the area's heritage.

The Walk with the Romans event will take place on Sunday, May 8, from 2.15pm to 3.30pm.

The walk will start from the Heritage Centre at St Paul's Church, Mansfield Road, Chester Green.

The free walk is about a mile long.

For more information, call Derby 363354.

This is Derbyshire

Learn about the history of Holy Rood

A SOUTHAMPTON church that was devastated during the Second World War will be the subject of a new exhibition in the city.

The past, present and future of Holy Rood Church will be on display at the Museum of Archaeology, God's House Tower, from Friday.

Exhibitions officer Clare Watson said: "The intention is to create a peaceful, church-like atmosphere within the temporary exhibition gallery, where visitors will come to learn and to reflect."

Holy Rood, on High Street, was destroyed by an incendiary bomb in 1940, after which years of exposure to the elements have left the surviving ruins in a poor state. However, the building is to get a new lease of life after a grant was awarded from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help fund renovation work along with the new exhibition, which runs until November 13.

God's House Tower, on Winkle Street, is open Tuesday to Sunday every week and entry is free. For opening times, call 023 8063 5904.

This is Southampton

'Demolition' firm for trial

A north coast building firm is facing imminent court proceedings over the bulldozing of two listed buildings.

NM Developments was roundly condemned in 2003 for the flattening of adjoining properties at the Diamond in Portstewart.

A spokeswoman for the Department of the Environment (DoE) today said prosecution was being pursued over the "unauthorised" demolition.

"The trial will commence at Coleraine Magistrate's Court on June 14," she said. "The maximum penalty is a £5,000 fine for each case of demolition."

NM Developments did not respond when contacted by the Belfast Telegraph.

Belfast Telegraph

Neolithic France

In a tomb undisturbed for 6,000 years, archaeologists encounter an unexpected world.

Archaeologists have long known of thousands of Neolithic burial mounds and other monumental constructions all over western and northern Europe. Some of the largest are found at Carnac, in northwest France, where stone rows, standing stones, and enormous burial mounds were first constructed around 4500 B.C. But southwest France also has at least two dozen early long mounds. Recently, in one called Prissé-la-Charrière (after the village it is near), archaeologists Roger Joussaume, Luc Laporte, and Chris Scarre found a communal sepulcher that no one had entered for 6,000 years, giving them a view of the burial practices of a people about whom little is known except that they were early farmers.

It was a rare find. The prominence of such mounds on the landscape made them alluring targets for looters and nineteenth-century archaeologists with questionable excavation techniques. And many tombs had simply collapsed over time. Prissé-la-Charrière was on the verge: the limestone walls holding up the grave's four-ton capstone were crumbling, and entering it meant risking being crushed. It was two years before the archaeologists were able to reinforce the capstone and drop down inside.


Monday, May 02, 2005

Druids join campaign to stop quarrying

Druids yesterday joined a campaign to stop quarrying near one of Britain's largest prehistoric sites.

Around 100 pagans gathered at Thornborough Henges, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, to mark the May Day ritual of Beltane.

They were supported by local archaeologists and others opposed to a plan by Tarmac Northern to extend its operations at Nosterfield Quarry to within half a mile of the nearest henge.

Thornborough comprises three identical, undulating earthwork rings measuring 800ft in diameter, and is several times the size of Stonehenge. The rings are believed to be 5,000 years old.

Tarmac's application to extract sand and gravel from a site known as Ladybridge is expected to be considered by North Yorkshire county council next month.

The Telegraph

For more information visit the Friends of Thornborough Website

Pagan ritual used by campaigners

More than 100 pagans joined a fight against proposals to extend quarrying at a historic site in North Yorkshire.

Tarmac Northern wants to extend its present operations close to the Thornborough Henges ancient earthworks near Ripon.

The druids met at the site to mark the May Day ritual of Beltane, a pagan celebration of the height of spring.

Local archaeologists also joined the protest. The group claims the Henges are under threat from the quarrying.

The area has the greatest concentration of late Neolithic and early Bronze Age sites in the UK.

BBC News

All Archaeology

The site All Archaeology describes itself as a “categorized resource directory for everything about archaeology”.

The site certainly contains a huge number of links to sites covering all aspects of archaeology, which are listed alphabetically in the sidebar. You can also subscribe to an email newsletter.

You can find the site at: or use the link in our sidebar.

Axe really is fabulous find of history day

A BRONZE Age axe head found in North Yorkshire was the oldest artefact handed in during a Fabulous Finds Day in York on Saturday.

The palstave axe – dating from about 1,200BC – was discovered on farmland north of Whitby by metal detector enthusiast Shaughan Tyreman.

Mr Tyreman, a service engineer on cranes, who has been metal detecting for 21 years, said: "It is the first one I have found. I have an 1862 book which is written in French, but has excellent illustrations.

"I recognised what it was straight away. It is a very similar in style to the axe head with the man they found in the ice in the Alps."

Yorkshire Today

Families invited to dig in at Lydiard

LYDIARD Park will be the venue for one of 12 family events around the country, sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The family day out takes place on July 3, and has been planned as a celebration of people in parks.

Among the activities planned will be archaeological and conservation work, country dancing and historical music.

The day has been organised by GreenSpace, a national organisation that promotes parks and green spaces. It will be led by local voluntary groups.

This is Wiltshire

Menschen, Masken, Rituale - Sonderausstellung

Vor wenigen Jahren förderten die von Professor Wolfram Schier geleiteten Ausgrabungen des Würzburger Lehrstuhls für Vor und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie in Uivar (Rumänien) einen sensationellen Fund zutage: Eine Lehmmaske aus dem frühen fünften Jahrtausend.

Dank der Erlaubnis der rumänischen Partner vom Banater Museum kann dieser kulturgeschichtlich herausragende Fund nun im Martin Wagner Museum der Universität Würzburg der Öffentlichkeit vorgestellt werden.

Die Sonderausstellung "Menschen, Masken, Rituale. Alltag und Kult in der prähistorischen Siedlung von Uivar, Rumänien (5. Jahrtausend v. Chr.)" wird bis zum 10. Juli mit zahlreichen Exponaten und einer ausführlichen Bilddokumentation das alltägliche Leben in einer befestigten Siedlung des Karpatenbeckens im frühen fünften Jahrtausend beleuchten. Informiert wird auch über die archäologische Erforschung dieser Stätte.


Pagans gather for ancient rite

PART of a sacred landscape cherished by Neolithic man 5,500 years ago was the setting yesterday for a modern version of a pagan ceremony to mark the ancient festival of Beltane.

The focus for the May Day ritual was the centre of the three Thornborough Henges close to the River Ure, north of Ripon.
Brian Dooks

The ancient pagan rite of Beltane celebrated summer's arrival, and the fertility-giving properties of flames and smoke.

The Thornborough Henges, created in Neolithic times, may have formed part of a sacred landscape, which also included the Devil's Arrows at Boroughbridge.

Yorkshite Today

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The great smash and grab

Italy is a treasure trove of buried antiquities. But now they are being systematically plundered by illegal tomb-raiders, who operate with virtual impunity. Rose George follows the loot from the hills of Lazio to London's thriving black market.

In an ordinary living-room in an ordinary, small Italian town, a young man shows off an ashtray. "Nice, isn't it?" says "Gianni", who prefers not to reveal his real name. The "ashtray" is a terracotta-coloured dish, painted around the rim, cracked and repaired. It looks nothing special, but it is, because it's about 2,600 years old, because it was looted at night from a tomb in a field nearby, and because by keeping it on his mother's sideboard, Gianni and his mother are criminals.

Italy is one of the most historically rich countries in the world, with 100,000 churches, 3,500 museums and 6,000 registered archaeological sites. By a 1902 Italian law, no private citizen can own a cultural artefact. Any antiquity sent out of the country needs an export licence. On paper, the trade and market in antiquities is regulated by some of the strictest laws in the world. In practice, Italy is as pillaged, ravished and raided as Iraq, but without the headlines.

The Independent