Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cyprus Produced First Mediterranean Wine

Discovery Channel: "The Mediterranean's first wine was made in Cyprus some 5,500 years ago, according to Italian archaeologists who unearthed evidence that predates winemaking by ancient Greeks by at least 1,500 years.

Digging in Pyrgos, in southern Cyprus, Maria Rosaria Belgiorno, of the Italian Institute of Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, found two jugs used for wine that date back to the fourth millennium B.C.

Researchers examined chemical signatures in 18 of the Erimi jars. A dozen showed traces of tartaric acid, a key component of wine, proving, according to Belgiorno, that the 5,500-year-old vases were used for wine."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ancient gods dating to 1st century uncovered in Petra

Ancient gods uncovered: The stone heads of 22 ancient gods have been found at an excavation in Petra. Patricia Bikai, who headed the excavation team that made the discovery, said that they 'initially thought the building was either a shrine or a royal residence'.

'However, after further examination we identified the monument as a banquet hall,' she added.

Bikai, an archaeologist at the American Centre of Oriental Research (ACOR), pointed out that the monument, which dated back to the first century, was only found last week after her team had been digging in the area for the past four years.

She said the remains of the building, which had probably collapsed after a major earthquake in 363 AD, were buried in its basement that was covered by sand."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Clipper Cruise Lines to Offer North African Archaeological Adventure

Travel Video Television News: I see Clipper Cruise Lines will offer a new North African cruise in March and April 2006 that combines the antiquities of the Greek Isles with the Roman ruin sites in Libya (Leptis Magna and Sabratha) and Tunisia (Carthage and Sousse). I would particularly love to see the Roman ruins and mosaics of Leptis Magna.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Scientist struggles to preserve the Madara horseman

READING ROOM 2: Stone Sleuthing: The Madara Horseman: The Madara Horseman, once thought to be the work of Roman or even Thracian sculptures, has now been dated to the early Middle Ages. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a rock relief carved into a vertical cliff face depicting a life-size horseman, a lion, a dog and inscriptions in northeast Bulgaria.

Dr. Valentin Todorov explains, "There has been much speculation in the past, but today we know exactly when the relief was created. Before World War 2, the common belief was that the horseman was Khan Krum who ruled Bulgaria from 804 - 815 AD. In fact, a Bulgarian coin was minted in the 1930's with a picture of the relief credited to Khan Krum. Many investigations later, a leading Bulgarian archaeologist, Vesilin Besheliev, determined the age of the relief at 705 AD just 24 years after the founding of Bulgaria in 681 AD. The age is founded on the inscriptions, one of which describes the relationship of the Bulgarian Khan Tervil with Justinian II, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. The inscription notes Justinian II's acceptance of Khan Tervil?s rule over Bulgaria with the gesture of bestowing gifts. It was during the rule of Khan Tervil that, in fact, the Byzantines paid tax to the Bulgarians.

But Dr. Todorov, a conservation scientist with the Department of Conservation and Restoration at the National Academy of Arts, is concerned for its future. "For 1300 years the relief has stayed in place, but we should prepare it for many more. It is slipping very slowly due to fractures in the rock on either side of the horse.

He has proposed shielding the relief from rainwater and airborne particles with a roof mounted to the rock face.

"The roof will also be constructed with brass which when exposed to weather, leaches copper ions. The leached cooper acts as a natural biocide against the lichen populations."

Currently, I am testing these theories at the Madara site with two other professors- Dr. Warshneid from Aldenberg, Germany and Dr. Orial from the French Laboratory on Historic Monuments. We are installing an experimental roof on the same rock face, but some distance away from the actual relief. In addition, we will experiment with artificial calcification of the rock surface to imitate natural preservation processes. To date, we have funding only for the initial stage of these investigations. We are looking for additional support."

"The area of the Madara Horseman is a historical and archaeological reserve. Monuments from six different historical periods can be found there, including: prehistoric caves, Roman settlements, monuments from protobulgarians, medieval Christian churches, and rocky chambers of monks following the Ottoman invasion. Indeed, this is a sacred place known by many people around the world."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Carlisle's rich Roman past

News & Star: "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. "