Archaeology and Anthropology - June 2011


Egypt: Pictures: Ancient "Solar Boat" Unearthed at Pyramids   National Geographic - June 25, 2011

Excavating a "Solar Boat" ... For the first time in centuries, a multi-ton limestone slab - one of dozens - floats free of the "tomb" of a 4,500-year-old, disassembled "solar boat" at the foot of the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, on Thursday. Below are hundreds of delicate wooden "puzzle pieces," protected by the climate-controlled tent built over the site in 2008. Once the months-long process of extracting the pieces is finished, researchers expect to spend several years restoring the ship before placing it on display in Giza's Solar Boat Museum near the Pyramids.

A similar ship found nearby has already been reconstructed and is on display in the museum. At about 140 feet (43 meters) long, the restored ship is thought to be a bit bigger than its still fragmented sister. Solar boats played an important role in the story of the afterlife in ancient Egyptian mythology. Each night the sun god Ra - in the form of the evening sun, Ra-Atum - was thought to sail through the afterlife in one boat to battle gods and beasts until he rose as the morning sun, Ra-Horakhty, and sailed his day boat across the sky. Buried near the Great Pyramid, the buried sister boats were likely intended to assist Pharaoh Khufu on similar journeys during the afterlife.


Ancient Egypt




Sacks of Human Waste Reveal Secrets of Ancient Rome   National Geographic - June 25, 2011

Now excavated, an ancient Roman chamber once held tons of decayed garbage and human waste. Flushed down sewers from apartment blocks and shops, the deposit - the largest collection of ancient Roman garbage and human waste ever found, researchers say - dates to about A.D. 79. That year a catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Herculaneum, along with its more famous neighbor, Pompeii.

Lost jewelry, coins, and semiprecious stones from a gem shop have been found, along with discarded household items such as broken lamps and pottery, according to Wallace-Hadrill, director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project, a Packard Humanities Institute initiative. And, coming from a onetime district of shopkeepers and artisans, the organic material has revealed just what your run-of the-mill Roman might have eaten in this coastal town, according to project scientists, who collaborated with the British School at Rome and the archaeological authorities for Naples and Pompeii.


Ancient Rome




Micro-camera Provides First Peek Inside Mayan Tomb   Live Science - June 25, 2011

A Mayan tomb closed to the world for 1,500 years has finally revealed some of its secrets as scientists snaked a tiny camera into a red-and-black painted burial chamber. The room, decorated with paintings of nine figures, also contains pottery, jade pieces and shell, archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). The tomb is located in Palenque, an expansive set of stone ruins in the Mexican state of Chiapas. According to the INAH, the tomb was discovered in 1999 under a building called Temple XX. But the stonework and location prevented exploration. [See the images taken in the tomb]


Maya Civilization




Existence of Uncontacted Amazon Tribe Confirmed   Live Science - June 25, 2011

Brazilian officials have confirmed the existence of approximately 200 Indians who live in the western Amazon with no contact with the outside world. This uncontacted tribe is not "lost" or unknown, according to tribal advocacy group Survival International. In fact, about 2,000 uncontacted Indians are suspected to live in the Javari Valley where the tribe's homes were seen from the air. But confirming the tribe's existence enables government authorities to monitor the area and protect the tribe's way of life.


Amazon Tribes




ARCHAEOLOGY - MAY 2011





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