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Monday, 20 January 2014 00:00

Hopewell Headhunters?

The interpretation of so-called “trophy skulls” found in Hopewell mounds has been the subject of considerable debate over the years. Henry Shetrone, in his book The Mound-Builders, described one of these skulls, which was associated with the burial of an elderly male in one of the small mounds of the Hopewell Mound Group. The separate skull was “that of a young male. On it are numerous marks of the flint knife used in carefully removing the scalp and tissues. A helmet-shaped copper headplate and vestiges of a cap or bonnet of woven fabric to which the headplate had been attached surmounted the skull. It may reasonably be surmised that the old man was a war chief and the separate skull that of a vanquished enemy, placed in the grave as a trophy of his prowess; or perhaps it was that of a cherished relative, preserved as a personal or family relic.”

In addition to the skulls, there are various iconic depictions of detached human heads and headless bodies in Hopewell art, but these are subject to the same alternative interpretations. A mica cut-out of a headless human torso might represent a mutilated enemy’s body or a ritually dismembered ancestor. The sculpture of a Hopewell shaman wearing bear regalia and holding a human head could depict an act of ancestor worship or some sort of ritual honoring or debasing a defeated enemy.

In my March column in the Columbus Dispatch I discuss the debate in the context of a recent analysis of documented trophy heads from Borneo by anthropologists Mercedes Okumura of the University of São Paulo and Yun Ysi Siew of the University of Cambridge, which was published in a recent volume of the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.

What do Dayak trophy heads have to do with the Ohio Hopewell? Historically, not much, but because the specific cultural contexts of the Dayak heads are well documented, they provide a suite of characteristics that are known to be a result of headhunting. If the Hopewell skulls share those same characteristics, then the argument that they, too, are trophies of war is strengthened. If, on the other hand, they lack important characteristics shared by the headhunter skulls, then it suggests they may be something other than trophy skulls.

Okumura and Siew determined that about 60% of the headhunter skulls showed signs of violence. The most common evidence consisted of cutmarks. Other signs of violence included chopmarks (15%) and “sharp force traumas” (21%). Okumura and Siew concluded that without the historical information associated with the Borneo skulls it would be difficult to tell whether the heads were war trophies or honored ancestors, but it’s abundantly clear that several of these people died violently. On the other hand, none of the Hopewell skulls show signs of trauma other than cutmarks, which Okumura and Siew acknowledge, could be related to “dismemberment and cleaning of bones” as part of “a mortuary custom.”

Another way of testing the hypothesis that the Hopewell skulls are war trophies, is to see if there is any other evidence of war among the Hopewell. In fact, evidence of violent trauma, such as crushed skulls, spear points lodged between ribs, or forearms broken in the act of blocking an attack (parry fractures) is virtually absent from documented Hopewell skeletons. Moreover, Hopewell hamlets are not surrounded by protective walls and the extensive interaction network of the Hopewell more or less requires that at least certain people could travel relatively freely across social boundaries.

When you consider all the evidence, it seems more likely that the separate skulls found with Hopewell burials belonged to honored ancestors. Perhaps the Hopewell honored certain people upon their deaths by cutting off their heads, which then became objects of veneration in the same way that early Christians preserved relics of saints.

As for artifacts such as the mica cut-out and the Shaman of Newark, perhaps they depict episodes from the lives of the Hopewell “saints.” For example, in the Popol Vuh, the “Mayan Bible,” a man named One Hunahpu and his brother are defeated by the lords of Xibalba, the Mayan Underworld. The lords cut off One Hunahpu’s head and place it in the fork of a tree. Sometime later, the head speaks to a young woman and impregnates her with spittle. She gives birth to the hero twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque who return to Xibalba to avenge their father.

There is no evidence that the Hopewell shared this particular story with their southern cousins, but it seems likely that they would have used their art to illuminate their own traditional stories, just as the Maya did.

Indeed, I think the Shaman of Newark sculpture may have been designed to be held in the hands and manipulated as a sort of animated aid to telling such a story. I demonstrate the idea in a video on the Ancient Ohio Trail website.

Regrettably, we are no longer able to hear the words of the stories that enlivened this magnificent figurine for the Hopewell, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that these stories would not have been about mighty warriors lopping the heads off of their defeated enemies.

For further reading:

Lloyd, Timothy C.
2000 Human remains as burial accompaniments at the Hopewell site. West Virginia Archeologist 52:53-70.

Okumura, Mercedes and Yun Ysi Siew
2013 An osteological study of trophy heads unveiling the headhunting practice in Borneo. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 23:685-697.

Seeman, Mark F.
2007 Predatory War and Hopewell trophies. In The taking and displaying of human body parts as trophies by Amerindians, edited by Richard J. Chacon and David H. Dye, pp. 167-189. Springer Science, New York.

Published in AHRF Library

Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered the tomb of Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord considered one of the great queens of Classic Maya civilization.

The tomb was discovered during excavations of the royal Maya city of El Perú-Waka’ in northwestern Petén, Guatemala, by a team of archaeologists led by Washington University in St. Louis’ David Freidel, co-director of the expedition. A small, carved alabaster jar found in the burial chamber caused the archaeologists to conclude the tomb was that of Lady K’abel. The white jar is carved as a conch shell, with a head and arm of an aged woman emerging from the opening.

The depiction of the woman, mature with a lined face and a strand of hair in front of her ear, and four glyphs carved into the jar, point to the jar as belonging to K’abel.

Based on this and other evidence, including ceramic vessels found in the tomb and stela (large stone slab) carvings on the outside, the tomb is likely that of K’abel, says Freidel, PhD, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences and Maya scholar. Freidel says the discovery is significant not only because the tomb is that of a notable historical figure in Maya history, but also because the newly uncovered tomb is a rare situation in which Maya archaeological and historical records meet.

“The Classic Maya civilization is the only ‘classical’ archaeological field in the New World — in the sense that like archaeology in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia or China, there is both an archaeological material record and an historical record based on texts and images,” Freidel says.

WUSTL archaeologist David Freidel, PhD, was part of a team that discovered the tomb of Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord considered one of the great queens of Classic Maya civilization. “The precise nature of the text and image information on the white stone jar and its tomb context constitute a remarkable and rare conjunction of these two kinds of records in the Maya area.”

The discovery of the tomb of the great queen was “serendipitous, to put it mildly,” Freidel says. The team at El Perú-Waka’ has focused on uncovering and studying “ritually-charged” features such as shrines, altars and dedicatory offerings rather than on locating burial locations of particular individuals. “In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense that the people of Waka’ buried her in this particularly prominent place in their city,” Freidel says.

Olivia Navarro-Farr, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology at the College of Wooster in Ohio, originally began excavating the locale while still a doctoral student of Freidel’s. Continuing to investigate this area this season was of major interest to both she and Freidel because it had been the location of a temple that received much reverence and ritual attention for generations after the fall of the dynasty at El Perú. With the discovery, archaeologists now understand the likely reason why the temple was so revered: K’abel was buried there, Freidel says.

K’abel, considered the greatest ruler of the Late Classic period, ruled with her husband, K’inich Bahlam, for at least 20 years (672-692 AD), Freidel says. She was the military governor of the Wak kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and she carried the title “Kaloomte’,” translated to “Supreme Warrior,” higher in authority than her husband, the king. K’abel also is famous for her portrayal on the famous Maya stela, Stela 34 of El Perú, now in the Cleveland Art Museum.

El Perú-Waka’, located approximately 75 km west of the famous city of Tikal, is an ancient Maya city in northwestern Petén, Guatemala. It was part of Classic Maya civilization (200-900 AD) in the southern lowlands and consists of nearly a square kilometer of plazas, palaces, temple pyramids and residences surrounded by many square kilometers of dispersed residences and temples.

This discovery was made under the auspices of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Guatemala. The El Perú-Waka’ project is sponsored by the Foundation for the Cultural and Natural Patrimony of Guatemala

Published in News

A shaft tomb containing skeletal remains along with a rich assemblage of grave goods, has been discovered in a later cemetery in the state of Colima, Mexico by researchers at the National Institute of Anthropology and History


Archaeologist Marco Zavaleta Lucido explained, shaft tombs such as this are targeted by looters because of the beauty of the materials deposited within them. The excavators have produced a detailed record of this burial area which unusually, was found intact.

Shaman sculpture

The sculpture of a long faced shaman holding a blowpipe is the guardian of the shaft tomb sealed up more than 1500 years ago.

In April 2013 archaeologists uncovered and began excavating a cemetery that contained the remains of 35 adults, of both male and females, as well as three infants, all within stone cists dating to what is called the Colima phase, AD400 to 600. Near these burials Marco Zavaleta located a sealed vertical shaft of 1.50 metres square, which represented the entrance to the tomb, dating to a slightly earlier date (AD0-500).

Within this probably family tomb chamber they found the skeletal remains of one or two individuals placed deliberately on top of another older internment. Once the archaeologists had excavated to floor level, they found another individual lying on its back.

Published in News
Saturday, 16 November 2013 15:17

Assyrian gold tablet going back to Germany

A New York Appellate Court has ruled that the small gold cuneiform tablet looted from Berlin’s Vorderasiatisches Museum at the end of World War II and acquired by Reuven Flamenbaum after his liberation from Auschwitz must be returned to the museum. It took the court less than a month to announce its decision which sides firmly with the plaintiff rejecting all the defendants’ legal arguments.

Quick summary (read last month’s entry for the full background): The tablet was discovered in the foundations of the Ishtar temple by a German archaeological team in 1913. The 9.5-gram card is inscribed in cuneiform on both sides describing the construction of the temple and calling on all who visit the temple to honor its builder, King Tukulti-Ninurta I (1243-1207 B.C.). After complications and delays caused by the First World War, the artifacts made it into the Vorderasiatisches Museum’s collection in 1926. With another war looming in 1939, the museum closed its doors and put everything in storage. Sometime between then and the end of the war when inventory was taken, the tablet went missing. Overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of artifacts looted from the museum and the conflicting authorities of post-war Berlin, the museum did not report the loss to the police or any art theft registries.

According to Flamenbaum family lore, Reuven got the tablet from a Soviet soldier around that time. He traded it for two cigarettes or a salami (the details are hazy, obviously) and took it with him when he immigrated to the United States in 1949. He settled in Long Island and got a job at a liquor store. Later he bought said liquor store using the tablet as collateral for a loan. In 1954 he had it appraised at Chritie’s and they told him it was a fake worth a hundred bucks at most. Still he kept it as a treasured memento of his survival.

Reuven Flamenbaum died in 2003. Three years later, Hannah Flamenbaum, Reuven’s daughter and executor of his estate submitted a list of assets as part of a petition to settle the account. The tablet was not mentioned individually on this list, just a “coin collection.” Her brother Israel objected that the so-called coin collection was more valuable than Hannah had stated “and includes one item identified as a ‘gold wafer’ which is believed to be an ancient Assyrian amulet and the property of a museum in Germany.” He told the Vorderasiatisches Museum about it too, while he was at it.

The museum filed a claim to recover the tablet. At a Nassau County Surrogate’s Court hearing, Dr. Beate Salje, director of the Vorderasiatisches, testified that the piece was stolen at the end of the war by a person or persons unknown. The Red Army looted the museum — many of those artifacts were returned by the Soviets in 1957 — as did German troops and people taking refuge in the museum. The museum also submitted a report by Dr. Eckart Frahm, Assistant Professor of Assyriology at Yale University, covering a 1983 article by A.K. Grayson about the fate of the Ashur artifacts. This article stated that Professor H.G. Guterbock from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago told the author that he had seen a gold Assyrian tablet from a Berlin museum “in the hands of a dealer in New York in 1954.”

There is a reference to that allegation in the Vorderasiatisches’ record of the tablet, an annotation that it was “seen by Guterbach 1954 in New York” with “Grayson” written underneath. This entry is not dated and could have been written at any time after 1983, or before, I guess, if you suppose that Grayson heard the story from Guterbock whenever and told the museum. There’s zero evidence of that, however, so it’s meaningless speculation.

The Surrogate’s Court decided that the museum had met its burden of proving legal title, but that its claim was barred by the doctrine of laches, a legal principle that requires an owner “exercise reasonable diligence to locate” lost property. Apparently the court thought that note was evidence that the museum knew about the tablet’s being in New York decades ago but didn’t pursue it. It’s really not, though. They seriously misread the report.

The museum appealed and Hannah Flamenbaum cross-appealed, now claiming an affirmative defense that the tablet belonged to the estate based on the doctrine of laches. In May of 2012, the Appellate Division dismissed the cross-appeal and reversed the Surrogate’s Court decision on the grounds that the defense had not demonstrated that the museum failed to exercise reasonable diligence to locate the tablet. The case went back to Surrogate’s Court and finally wound up before the New York Court of Appeals last month.

The New York Court of Appeals has decided for the museum, rejecting both the doctrine of laches argument and the ugly, in my opinion, spoils of war theory which the estate proffered holding that the Soviet Union gained legal title to the tablet when it was looted as a spoil of war and then transferred the title to Reuven Flamenbaum when he bartered two cigarettes or a salami for it. They shot down both arguments in terms that made my wizened little heart grow three sizes this day:

We agree with the Appellate Division that the Estate failed to establish the affirmative defense of laches, which requires a showing “that the museum failed to exercise reasonable diligence to locate the tablet and that such failure prejudiced the [E]state” …. While the Museum could have taken steps to locate the tablet, such as reporting it to the authorities or listing it on a stolen art registry, the Museum explained that it did not do so for many other missing items, as it would have been difficult to report each individual object that was missing after the war. Furthermore, the Estate provided no proof to support its claim that, had the Museum taken such steps, the Museum would have discovered, prior to the decedent’s death, that he was in possession of the tablet …. As we observed in Lubell, in a related discussion of the defense of statute of limitations, “[t]o place a burden of locating stolen artwork on the true owner and to foreclose the rights of that owner to recover its property if the burden is not met would . . . encourage illicit trafficking in stolen art” (77 NY2d at 320). [...]

The “spoils of war” theory proffered by the Estate — that the Russian government, when it invaded Germany, gained title to the Museum’s property as a spoil of war, and then transferred that title to the decedent — is rejected. The Estate’s theory rests entirely on conjecture, as the record is bereft of any proof that the Russian government ever had possession of the tablet. Even if there were such proof, we decline to adopt any doctrine that would establish good title based upon the looting and removal of cultural objects during wartime by a conquering military force …. Allowing the Estate to retain the tablet based on a spoils of war doctrine would be fundamentally unjust.

Then Hannah Flammenbaum’s attorney expressed his dismay at the ruling in terms that almost made my heart re-wizen.

Attorney Steven Schlesinger said the family was disappointed and questioned whether the court refused to uphold “title by right of conquest” because it would open the door for those who obtained art looted by Germans during the Holocaust.

“You can’t argue that the United States doesn’t recognize the right of conquest when this entire country is the result of the law of conquest,” he said, citing territorial expansion that includes Texas and California and at least 50 Indian land claims in New York.

Uh, are you seriously using the genocide of Native Americans as an argument in favor of a Holocaust survivor’s descendants getting to keep stolen property? Because that’s appalling. And yeah, actually, while we’re at it, upholding “title by right of conquest” would open the floodgates to collectors and museums keeping art looted during the Holocaust. These legal battles are ongoing. Why in the world would you want to be the case that establishes the right of Holocaust profiteers to keep the treasures they acquired with blood on their hands? All of this for a tablet that Hannah Flammenbaum claims she wants to donate to the Holocaust Museum anyway? It’s gross.

Published in News

A second culturally significant ancient tomb was accidentally uncovered in Medellin, Colombia last Friday.

Municipal workers uncovered the indigenous tomb while repairing water lines in Colombia’s second largest city.  The discovery was made in the residential neighbor of La Colinita de Guayabal according to El Colombiano.

The tomb held numerous ornate burial gifts, including gold jewelry and ceramics, leading archaeologist to believe the ancient tomb belonged to the ‘Aburraes” indigenous tribe.  Medellin sits in a narrow valley originally inhabited by the Aburraes Indians.  The Aburra Valley was home to the indigenous tribe from 940-to-1540 A.D.

The tribe lived from weaving, goldsmithing and agriculture.  The name “Aburrá” comes from the ancient language spoken by the Aburreans before the Spanish arrived. The tribe became almost extinct when the Spanish brought disease and forced them into hard labor.

Thus far over ten weaving wheels, several gold nose-ring, ceramics, and coal have been unearthed.  Colombia’s culture ministry has confirmed they will excavate the site further and will work with archaeologists from the University of Paris.

The first ancient tomb found accidentally in Medellin was uncovered in September by transit workers. In that instance the tomb is thought to be pre-Columbian occupied during the 12th and 17th centuries by ancient tribes people. 

Published in News
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 20:52

Mummy's Colorful Collar Found in Egyptian Tomb

A collar with "almost pristine" colors that would have been worn by a mummy has been discovered in small pieces in an Egyptian tomb in Thebes and put back together again.

People in ancient Egypt wore collars called "wesekhs" made of beads when they were alive. This painted collar is made of a different type of material called cartonnage (a plastered material) and was meant to be worn by a mummy after death. A clay seal found near the collar suggests that it was worn by the mummy of a wealthy undertaker.

Dating back around 2,300 years ago and found in modern-day Luxor, the collar is painted in a vivid array of colors, designs and images that show elements of ancient Egyptian religion. The god Horus is signified by two falcons wearing red sun-disk crowns on the top corners, while at top center is a human-headed bird (called a "Ba" bird) that represents, in essence, the immortal soul of the deceased mummy.

Additionally, in the center of the design, there is a drawing of a golden shrine with two goddesses, possibly the sisters Isis and Nephthys, facing a deity in the center that may be the jackal-headed Anubis. The collar is about 8.7 inches (22 centimeters) high (not including the falcons) and about 16.5 inches (42 cm) in width. Near the bottom of the collar lotus blossoms are shown flourishing.

Complex tomb

The tomb that it was found in is a complex place. Originally it was built more than 3,300 years ago for a butler named Parennefer who served the pharaoh Akhenaten. Then, sometime later, an official named Amenemopet excavated his own tomb into part of the butler's courtyard. As the centuries went on more individuals (the precise number is unknown) were buried at the site, one of them being interred around 2,300 years ago with this colorful collar.

The re-use of tombs was a common practice in Thebes. "I guess it was much more economical to use these old derelict tombs than to excavate out new tombs at that time," Susan Redford, of Penn State University, told LiveScience in an interview. She and her team found hundreds of cartonnage fragments in excavations at the site, the fragments that made up this collar being discovered in 2000 and 2002. The team's artist, Rupert Nesbitt, carefully put the collar back together again, along with several other coverings that belong to different mummies.

"These pieces could range from about palm-sized to dime-sized," Redford said. "It was like a giant jigsaw puzzle," added Redford, who detailed the collar discovery in a paper in "Archaeological Research in the Valley of the Kings & Ancient Thebes: Papers Presented in Honor of Richard H. Wilkinson" (University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition, 2013). [See Photos of Egypt's Valley of the Kings]

Archaeologists cannot say for sure whom this collar belonged to. In addition to being re-used multiple times the tomb site has been robbed in both ancient and modern times and, until recently, was even used to hold dead animals.

Egyptian tombs and temples tended to be very colorful places and the collar reflects that, Redford said.

An undertaker's collar?

The mummy who wore this collar is now gone or otherwise part of the various humans remains found in the tomb. However, an inscription written in a mud-clay seal was found near the fragments of the collar.

The seal would have held together the string or binding of a papyrus scroll. While the scroll itself is mostly destroyed, the inscription from the seal says that it is for a man named "Padihorwer," reading (in translation) that he was "privy to the mysteries and god's sealer, 'embalmer,' scribe, prophet of the 'desert' (necropolis) of Qus," which is located north of Thebes.

An ancient archival record also survives, telling of "a man of Qus" being buried at Thebes in the same period that the collar has been dated to, Redford said.  

Padihorwer was basically an undertaker, a profession that could bring some level of wealth. "He's a little higher than just an ordinary necropolis worker," she said, noting that these ancient undertakers arranged for embalming and burial, were paid by families and generally ran their affairs like a business. "We think that they had a guild of sorts," she said, "it was a business just like undertakers are today."

If this collar, with its elaborate decorations, was worn by Padihorwer, it would suggest that his business prospered and that he was a relatively wealthy undertaker at the time he was buried. 


Published in News

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. –  Archaeologists have uncovered 10,000-year-old Native American artifacts near a popular state-owned beach in the southern Adirondacks, making it among the earliest known occupied sites in New York state, officials announced Thursday.

The archaeological dig conducted ahead of a $3 million improvement project at Million Dollar Beach on Lake George has turned up thousands arrowheads, pieces of stone tools and other artifacts dating back to about 8,000 B.C., said Christina Rieth, the state's head archaeologist.

"We certainly don't find these kinds of sites every day," said Rieth, who's based at the New York State Museum in Albany. She and museum Director Mark Schaming held a news conference at the excavation site 55 miles north of Albany to announce the findings, which also included artifacts from the French and Indian War (1755-63).

The state is repaving the parking lot and access road at the beach, located on the southern end of the 32-mile-long lake. In late August, a team of archaeologists from the museum began digging just off the access road in a tree-shaded picnic area located a few hundred feet from the beach. In prehistoric times, the area would have been the shoreline, Rieth said.

The Native Americans who left behind projectile points and evidence of stone tool-making likely didn't linger long at the site or any others, she said.

"It would be kind of a transit group, people who would have come here year after year for fishing or other types of activities around the lake," Rieth said. "It's unlikely they settled here."

The find is significant even for Lake George, a popular summertime tourist village where history is literally underfoot. It hasn't been uncommon over the years for 18th century military artifacts or even human skeletons to be dug up during routine public works projects or hotel expansions.

The latest discoveries occurred adjacent to the site of a French and Indian War battle in 1755, while nearby stands the full-scale replica of the fort the British built that year, only to be captured and destroyed by the French in 1757.

The southern end of the lake where the dig is being conducted would have been a popular hunting and fishing spot for the nomadic people of the Archaic Period, said John Hart, the museum's director of research and collections.

"It was an area people would have come back to get those resources," Hart said.

Schaming said some of the artifacts will eventually be displayed at the state museum.

Published in News

Rich warrior grave dating from the turn of the 1st and 2nd century AD is one of the most interesting finds archaeologists discovered during excavations in the Lubusz group cemetery from the Roman period in Czelin (Zachodniopomorskie).

Bartłomiej Rogalski from the National Museum in Szczecin, who led the recently completed study, told PAP that the warrior's burial is a rare example of a man’s tomb with full armament from the Roman period in the Lower Oder region.

According to Rogalski, the tomb contained a single-edged sword with a set of scabbard clips, a spearhead, shield parts and a pair of ornamental bronze cast clasps for Prussian series garments. "An interesting object from the tomb is a fire striker, which is evidence of the strong Scandinavian influence on the Oder" - said Rogalski. Typically, archaeologists have found warrior tombs with spear and shield in Czelin.

This year, 18 objects were discovered during the excavations, including four pit graves and three crematory graves, as well as hearths, pits and paving stones, which - according to archaeologists - should be associated with the operation of the cemetery. The researchers speculate that the latter were connected with various rites and cremation of corpses.

According to Rogalski, the vast majority of sites found in Czelin belonged to the Lubusz group, which from the 1st to the 3rd century AD occupied Lower Oder region, Wkra Land, Pyrzyce Land and Mysliborskie Lakes. Lubusz group is poorly explored archaeologically and its characteristics still await clear definition.

Since 2004, the cemetery has provided a rich collection of weapons from the Roman period. Rogalski said that archaeologist found five swords, including three double-edged swords (one imported Roman gladius), and two single-edged swords, probably made by local blacksmiths. They also found various shield pieces and ornamented spearheads probably derived from the tradition of the Przeworsk culture that occupied then areas of Wielkopolska and Silesia.

Also noteworthy are numerous fibulae, brooches used to fasten robes, made of bronze and iron, intricately crafted buckles and belt fittings, and riding accessories, such as spurs associated with the Przeworsk culture or Scandinavian influence, said Rogalski .

Apart from the objects from the Roman period at the site in Czelin archaeologists also found a skeletal grave and ceramics, which should be associated with the Neolithic Corded Ware culture. This year, they found an elaborately made flint arrowhead dating from the beginning of the second thousand BC.

An open-air museum dedicated to the cemetery is open in Czelin. Visitors can see a reconstruction of a warrior's grave with equipment and a cremation pyre with a warrior lying on top.


Published in News
Wednesday, 04 May 2005 19:45

Axe Really is Fabulous Find

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."

Mr Tyreman and his daughter, Saskia, 11, brought several items from their home in Whitby to be examined at the Yorkshire Museum, in York, during one of the Fabulous Finds Days held across England.

Mr Tyreman said: "In its day the axe would be an extremely expensive object. Few people would have one. All the rest would be using flint axes and if you had a bronze one it would be like owning a BMW. Probably 20 trees would have to be felled to smelt the ore to make it."

The axe and part of a mould, which has a floral pattern on one side and possibly a human face, will now be taken to the British Museum in London for specialist examination before being returned to Mr Tyreman.

The axe was of particular interest to Simon Holmes, who is the Yorkshire finds liaison officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which photographs and catalogues archaeological objects older than 1705.

He said: "In the three-and-a-half years I have been doing this job, I have probably seen only six Bronze Age implements."

Mr Holmes explained that the date of 1705 was chosen so that the national database was not overwhelmed.

"Anything after 1705 is the future's archaeology, but not the present's. If we put everything on the database we would overload the internet."

Metal detector fans are still in the majority of those using the scheme, but others are also interested in items they find in their gardens and elsewhere. For Museums and Galleries Month items taken to Fabulous Finds Days are being placed on the 24 Hour Museum website www.24hourmuseum.org.uk.

The Finder of the Year title will go to the person under 16 with the best story, rather than the one with the oldest, prettiest or most valuable object.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme operates at the Yorkshire Museum in York's Museum Gardens on the first Saturday in each month and at the Hull and East Riding Museum on the last Saturday. Details can be found on www.finds.org.uk

Published in News

Tehran  Three kilograms of 2500-year-old gold dating to the Achaemenid era have been unearthed in the ancient palace of Bardak-e Siah in Borazjan in the southern province of Boushehr.

Archaeologists are asuuming that the gold pieces are most probably the golden layers of the wooden doors of the palace or the monumental plates of the building which were usually written on thick golden pieces during the Achaemenid time.

The discovery which came a few days ago beside one of the pedestals of the central hall of the palace, includes four pieces of gold weighing three kilograms.

Three of the pieces are thick pleated tablets and the fourth looks like the above part of an Achaemenid challice, head of the excavation team of Borazjan, Ehsan Yaghamayi, told CHN.

Refering to the similarity of the pieces with the golden and silver monumental plates of Apadana Palace in Persepolis complex, Yaghmayi explained that the pleats of the tablets should be unfolded in the lab to see whether they include any inscriptions or texts to be deciphered and to find out their exact usage.

Bardak-e Siah Palace was discovered in 1977 where remains of another palace, called Sang-e Siah, and many stone inscriptions and bas-reliefs have also unearthed. More than 20 other palaces and halls from the Achaemenid dynasty have moreover been identified buried under the palm trees of Dashtestan area.

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Aug 26, 2013

Prehistoric Meteorite ‘Shrines’ in Arizona

Two twelfth-century settlements a hundred kilometers apart in Arizona were apparently built by discrete cultures, but they… More
Oct 03, 2012

Tomb of Ancient Mayan Queen Discovered in Guatemala

Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered the tomb of Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord considered one… More
Mar 23, 2014

The Remarkable Coin Cache

My wife and I were heading to Southern Utah for a teaching conference. It was June 4th and school had just let out for the… More
Mar 07, 2014

Shamanic figurine guarding shaft tomb discovered in Colima

A shaft tomb containing skeletal remains along with a rich assemblage of grave goods, has been discovered in a later… More
Feb 11, 2014

Filmmakers search for Montezuma's treasure in Kanab pond

KANAB, Kane County – For 100 years, locals have believed Montezuma’s treasure lies at the end of a tunnel below Three Lakes… More


Apr 09, 2014

Creek Wind Clan Gorget

This gorget is an ancient symbol worn by the members of the Creek Wind Clan More
Apr 09, 2014

Boundary Stone. Babylonian Empire. 600 B.C.

Boundary Stone. Babylonian Empire. 600 B.C. More
Apr 09, 2014

Mayan Art from the Temple of Tikal

This amazing piece of ancient art once decorated the Mayan Temple at Tikal. It shows a man in a boat escaping from a land… More
Jun 28, 2013

Wari Gold and Silver Ear Ornaments

A pair of gold-and-silver ear ornaments that archaeologists believe a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave, the… More
Jan 20, 2010

Bronze Votive Plaque

Bronze Votive plaque dating 3rd C. AD (al Baleed Museum Salalah) was found during archaeological excavations of Khor Rori /… More
Nov 12, 2010

Tablet illustrating Pythagoras' Theorem and the square root of 2

Old Babylonian Period (19th-17th century BCE), southern Mesopotamia? This famous tablet, one of few to consist entirely of a… More