Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mosque conversion raises alarm

Mosque conversion raises alarm
By Andrew Finkel. Museums, Issue 245, April 2013
11 April 2013
One of the most very important monuments of late Byzantium, the 13th-century Church of Hagia Sophia in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, which is now a museum, will be transformed into a mosque. Some in Turkey believe that the Church of Hagia Sophia is a aggravation for the possible re-conversion of its more famous namesake in Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia Museum Ayasofya Müzesi. For about 50 years, responsibility for the Church of Hagia Sophia in Trabzon has rested with Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. “A building covenanted as a mosque cannot be used for any other purpose,” says Mazhar Yildirimhan, the head of the directorate’s office in Trabzon. He declined to speculate on whether this would mean covering up nearly half the wall space taken up with figurative Christian art, including the dome depicting a dynamic Christ Pantocrator. “There are modern techniques for masking the walls,” he says. It is the whole ensemble architecture, sculpture and painting that makes Hagia Sophia unique. This is the most complete surviving Byzantine structure; there is no 13th-century monument like it. For such a thing to occur would have key implications for the country’s status as a custodian of world heritage, according to one senior Western diplomat based in Istanbul. Preservation of history will always seem to be some sort of contemporary argument. One of which many could talk in circles about. To end it though, I think conversion can only exist if preservation of said building is taken greatly into consideration.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tomb of Maya Queen Found

The small alabaster jar above is believed to depict a great Maya warrior Queen who's grave was recently discovered in Guatemala. Found in the ruins of the city's main temple, and the ancient city of El Peru- Waka'. During an excavation led by archaeologist Freidel. The queen has been identified as Lady K'abel, or better known as 'Centipede'. Although the remains (below) leave the Queens gender and exact age a mystery, the offerings that she was buried with lead fact to her stature.

Lady K'abel was buried with various offerings of vessels, jewelry, and stone figurines. 
Mayan hieroglyphs were found on the back of a vessel offering which was discovered to be the names "Lady Water Lily Hand" and "Lady Snake Lord". Both believed to refer to the Queen, who's Empire Building 'Kan' is also known as  "Snake" dynasty.
A red-spine oyster shell found on the remains torso, also leads truth to the tombs owner. It was common for the Queens of El Peru- Waka' to embellish their clothing with shells. Above all else, the skulls pronounced features are said to represent the stern- looking Queen

After research, Professor David Stuart stated, "It's difficult to identify "who's who in royal tombs, unless they literally write it on the wall." Nevertheless, "for this find, I think there's a fair chance it's her," 

For the full article, please visit:

The Caffeinated Cohokia

     A cola-like tea ominously called 'black-drink' was said to have been used by the pre-columbian residents of Cahokia. Cahokia, dating from about 1050 to 1350 and what is now around east St.Louis area, was resident to approximately 50 thousand people at one point making it one of the largest known Indian culture in North America. Studies have shown the city's dense population and political organization had not been seen in north America before. Archaeologist have found beakers containing this caffeinated brew that was made from toasted leaves of the Yaupon Holly. The tea was thought to be used for ritualistic vomiting purification prior to any important events. (War, Religious, Political Etc.)  These are the oldest of these discovered tea beakers by 500 years. Tying these beakers to the religious artifacts found at the site possibly hold answers to the complete ceremonial complex within the society. Like many other ancient cultures, a strong pagan religion was at the crux of society, and it has been said this black- drink was at the core of this thriving society. Aside from religious speculation, these discoveries also help bring to lite varying levels of trade within North American cultures. The leaves from the tea grow more than 300 miles to the south. The chemicals within the beakers have indicated a substantial trade network with the southeast. Artifacts like shark teeth and shells also show trade with the gulf coast, eastern plains, and great lakes. Finding this drink so far out of its native range has led to planned future testing of these vessels from different cultures across the eastern United States.This will shed light on the mysterious trading aspects of these ancient native cultures 

Full Article:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Maya Burial Tomb Excavation!

Maya tomb picture - wall murals lining entrance

For the first time a research team was able to enter a Mayan burial tomb that was discover in 1999. It is located in Palenque, Mexico a powerful political center for the Mayan’s from A.D. 500 to 700. The tomb was painted red, a significant color to the Mayan’s. Like this tomb it was very common for other Maya tombs to be painted red. Maya people made human sacrifices to their gods and the color red represents blood, which was considered a sacred life force. Inside the tomb eleven vessels and some pieces of jade were found. On the tomb's wall there is a painting of the Palenque King who was called Snake Jaguar. The other paintings on the walls are thought to be the different royal ancestors of the tomb's occupant. There are a total of nine figures painted on the walls. It is suggested that the tomb occupant may be royal because Palenque royal tombs also have a theme of nine painted ancestor figures. It is to soon to tell who exactly was buried in the tomb and why until further excavations are made. Below is a picture of one of the painted figures that are on the walls. This figure is thought to be the King Snake Jaguar. 

Maya king picture - Snake Jaguar depicted on tomb wall

Thursday, April 25, 2013

7th-Century Horse Tack Unearthed in Kyushu

 7th-Century Horse Tack Unearthed in Kyushu

A find so rare, it is already being considered a national treasure for Japan. Archaeologists found a complete set of “trappings and ornaments from a war horse” close to a burial mound in Southern Japan. They are reporting that these discoveries will help archaeologists find clues about funeral rites and shed light on leaders during what is known as the “burial mounds age”.

The site was discovered while the land was being worked for farmland. It was 5 meters away from the Funabaru burial mound, dated late sixth century to early seventh century.

Artifacts include both pot-shaped and lopp-shaped iron stirrups, remnants of a gilt-bronze saddle, a “Tsuji” cross metal fitting through which intersecting cords were looped, a ‘Hitte’ metal fitting to connect the bit with the reins, as well as ornaments known as ‘Uzu’ and ‘Gyoyo,’ and a bell.

Rusted bits of ironware were also found and are believe to a part of the headpiece and armor for the horse. The rarity of some of these items compare with that of other national treasures. An example, only four other gilt-bronze ‘Hitte’ metal fittings have ever been discovered to date. Similarly, all of them have been found near burial mounds as well, namely the Fujinoki and the Miyajidake burial mounds in Nara and Fukuoka respectively.

“Haniwa” clay figures of horses, also found in ancient burial mounds, have been of great importance in learning clues to figuring out how war horses were harnessed during the burial mounds age. This find has granted researchers a rare opportunity to recreate the army of the time period.

Haniwa figures were originally set on top of funeral mounds and originally believed they fulfilled a funeral rite, but as they became more developed, they were placed out of the grave area and were possibly thought to be used as borders to the grave site. Another theory is that the soul of the deceased resides inside the statues, and some haniwa figures are equipped with armor and swords to help drive away evil spirits and protect the buried individual.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oldest Harbor and Papyri Ever Found in Egypt!

Oldest Harbor and Papyri Ever Found in Egypt!

In Egypt, they have discovered one of the oldest harbors to ever exist in history. A group of archeologists traveling in Suez, Egypt believe it to date back 4500 years. Along with the oldest harbor, they have also found remains of the oldest papyri ever found in the country. The 4500 year old harbor structures and papyrus texts were discovered while on a mission at the site of Wadi el-Jarf which is located along the Red Sea coast. The ancient site and structures are located 112 miles south of Suez, Egypt.

The harbor is considered one of the most important commercial ports of ancient Egypt, where trips to export copper and other minerals from the Sinai Peninsula were launched. The 40 papyri texts found provide information regarding the daily lives of people living and working in Egypt during the time that Khufu reigned over Egypt from 2575 to 2465 BCE. The papyri also documents the activities of an official who was involved in building the Great Pyramid. Pierre Tallet, an Egyptologist at Paris-Sorbonne University, quoted that the harbor "predates by more than 1,000 years any other port structure known in the world."

The structures at the site were first noted by J.G. Wilkinson in 1832. Then, in the 1950s, a small team of scientists studied the site but were expelled when the 1956 Suez Crisis told Egyptian troops to occupy the site which halted the search for decades. But now, they have focused on the structures described by Wilkinson and have identified 30 galleries at the site. - Wadi El Jarf Site Reveals Oldest Harbor, Papyri Ever Found in Egypt

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Maya Sense of Time

by: Zach Zorich
date: 12/28/12

      The November/December 2012 issue of Archeology magazine features an article about the Maya's sense of time. The Maya's related based essentially every aspect of their lives on observations of astronomical cycles. They created two separate calendars based on these astronomical cycles. The first, the 260 day calendar, was their primary calendar and it is speculated that it was based of the approximate number of days during human pregnancy. The second calendar, the Long Count calendar, was used to show the number of days since the mythological date of their creation. This calendar was the one that ended abruptly on December 21st, 2012. Venus, the sun, and the moon were the primary celestial beings that the observed. Venus has an eight day absence period between the “evening” and “morning” star phases that the Maya's believed to be the death and resurrection period of Quetzacoatl. Codices that the Maya's created were used to set dates for rituals; these dates were linked to astronomical events. Modern day Maya communities still follow the 260 day calendar.