Κυριακή, 20 Δεκεμβρίου 2009

Οι 10 Σημαντικότερες Αρχαιολογικές Ανακαλύψεις του 2009 / Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2009



O ετήσιος κατάλογος των πιο συναρπαστικών ανακαλύψειων του έτους 2009 από το περιοδικό ''Αρχαιολογία'' (Archaeology), από τα πρώτα κανάλια της Βόρειας Αμερικής μέχρι τα αποδεικτικά στοιχεία για χημικό πόλεμο σε ρωμαϊκό φυλάκιο στη Συρία, τονίζει αρχαιολογικούς χώρους, έργα τέχνης, καθώς και επιστημονικές μελέτες για να εμπλουτίσουμε τις γνώσεις μας για το παρελθόν.

Η αρχαιολογία είναι αυξητική επιστήμη, και οι μεγάλες ανακαλύψεις είναι σπάνιες. Συχνά, το πιο σημαντικό αποτέλεσμα προέρχεται μετά από πολλά χρόνια έρευνας. Για παράδειγμα, χαρακτηριστικό το έργο των αρχαιολόγων που ανασκάπτουν για τέσσερις δεκαετίες, μια Ελληνική πόλη του 2ου π.Χ. αιώνα στη νότια Ρωσία. Μόλις πρόσφατα κατάφεραν να προσδιορίσουν έναν μεγάλο χώρο, το παλάτι του βασιλιά Μιθριδάτη του 6ου (Mithradates VI), ενός θρυλικού εχθρού της Ρώμης.

Δύο αριστοκρατικοί τάφοι που ανασκάφθηκαν φέτος είναι στον κατάλογο, ο ένας ανήκει σε κάποιον Άρχοντα από το Moche στο Περού και ο άλλος σε μια οικογένεια ιερειών της Εποχής του Σιδήρου, στην Κρήτη.
Εν τω μεταξύ, τάφοι εξωτικών ζώων που αποκαλύπτονται τώρα στην προδυναστική Αιγυπτιακή πρωτεύουσα της Hierakonpolis δείχνουν ότι οι κυβερνώντες της πόλης διατηρούσαν εκτεταμένα θηριοτροφεία, τους πρώτους ζωολογικούς κήπους του κόσμου.


Οι δύο παρακάτω ανακαλύψεις είναι ελληνικού ενδιαφέροντος:
  • Ιέρειες της Εποχής του Σιδήρου - Ελεύθερνα, Κρήτη, Ελλάδα
Η ανακάλυψη μιας ταφής μιας ισχυρής οικογένειας γυναικών, της Εποχής του Σιδήρου, από τη νεκρόπολη στην Ορθή Πέτρα στην Ελεύθερνα της Κρήτης, είναι διαφωτιστική για το ρόλο των γυναικών κατά τους λεγόμενους ''Σκοτεινούς αιώνες'' της Ελλάδας.

Το περασμένο καλοκαίρι, τα λείψανα τεσσάρων γυναικών, ηλικίας από περίπου επτά με εβδομήντα, ανασκάφηκαν σε ένα μνημειακό ταφικό κτίριο του 8ου αιώνα π.Χ. Το δάπεδο του ήταν καλυμμένο με λεπτές ταινίες χρυσού, όπου τοποθετούνταν τα ενδύματα της ταφής, και οι γυναίκες περιβάλλονταν από πλοία και χάλκινα ειδώλια, καθώς και κοσμήματα από χρυσό, ασήμι, γυαλί, ελεφαντόδοντο και ημιπολύτιμους λίθους που εισάγονταν από τη Μικρά Ασία, την Εγγύ Ανατολή, και τη Βόρεια Αφρική.

Άλλα αντικείμενα από τον τάφο, μεταξύ των οποίων ενδεχομένως ένας βωμός, χάλκινα τελετουργικά πριόνια και μαχαίρια και μια σπάνια γυάλινη φιάλη για σπονδές, δείχνουν ότι οι γυναίκες αυτές διαδραμάτισαν σημαντικό ρόλο στη θρησκευτική ζωή της Ελεύθερνας. Ο Νικόλαος Σταμπολίδης του Πανεπιστημίου Κρήτης, πιστεύει ότι η γηραιότερη ήταν μεγάλη ιέρεια. Ενταφιάστηκε με τις προστατευόμενές της.

Ο εγκληματολόγος-ανθρωπολόγος του Adelphi University, Αναγνώστης Aγγελαράκης έχει βρει και στις τέσσερις γυναίκες ένα κοινό γενετικό οδοντιατρικό γνώρισμα. Περαιτέρω έρευνα αναμένεται να επιβεβαιώσει ότι έχουν σχέση με τις γυναίκες που ανακαλύφθηκαν κοντά τα δώδεκα τελευταία χρόνια, καθεμία από τις οποίες είχε επίσης το ίδιο χαρακτηριστικό. Οι άλλες γυναίκες είχαν ταφεί σε τρεις πίθους και περιείχαν εξίσου πολυτελή κτερίσματα, όχι όμως τελετουργικά σύνεργα.

''Αυτή η χρονική περίοδος ονομάζεται εσφαλμένα ως Σκοτεινοί αιώνες'', λέει ο Aγγελαράκης. ''Τα ευρήματα δείχνουν ότι οι γυναίκες ήταν αριστοκρατικές. Η κοινωνική θέση τους ήταν υψηλή. Η φιάλη και μόνο, θα πρέπει να έχει αποσταλεί από ''πρίγκιπα'' της Μεσοποταμίας! Πιστεύει ότι δεν ήταν τόσο σκοτεινοί τελικά.


  • Παλάτι του Μιθριδάτη - Kuban, Ρωσία


Τις τελευταίες τέσσερις δεκαετίες, ο αρχαιολόγος Vladimir Kuznetsov της Ρωσικής Ακαδημίας Επιστημών έχει εργαστεί στη Φαναγορία, μια αρχαία ελληνική πόλη της Μαύρης Θάλασσας, σπίτι του Μιθριδάτη του 6ου. Βασιλιάς του Πόντου από το 119 ως το 63 π.Χ., ο Μιθριδάτης ήταν ο πιο ισχυρός βασιλιάς στη Μικρά Ασία κατά τον 1ο π.Χ. αιώνα. Συχνά καλείται ο μεγαλύτερος εχθρός της Ρώμης, κάνοντας τρεις πολέμους κατά της ρωμαϊκής Δημοκρατίας.

Μετά από μια δεκαετία αινιγματική πάνω στην ηλικία και τη λειτουργία αποτεφρωμένων ερειπίων ενός μεγάλου κτιρίου στην ακρόπολη της Φαναγορίας, ο Kuznetsov και η ομάδα του έχει αποκαλύψει τώρα περισσότερα από 300 νομίσματα σε μια μικρή επέκταση της δομής του, συμπεριλαμβανομένων εκείνων που απεικονίζει τον ίδιο τον Μιθριδάτη.
Η ανακάλυψη, τέλος, τους επέτρεψε να χρονολογήσουν το κτίριο περίπου στο 60 π.Χ. Ο Ρωμαίος ιστορικός Αππιανός αναφέρει εξέγερση των πολιτών στη Φαναγορία το 63 π.Χ. που κορυφώθηκε με την καύση ενός τεράστιου δημόσιου κτιρίου. "Δεν γνωρίζουμε με βεβαιότητα, αλλά αυτό το κτίριο θα μπορούσε να είναι ο τόπος διαμονής του Μιθριδάτη", λέει ο Kuznetsov.

Πρόσφατες υποβρύχιες ανασκαφές στην περιοχή έχουν επίσης παράγει κάποια συναρπαστικά ευρήματα, συμπεριλαμβανομένης μιας επιτύμβιας μαρμάρινης επιγραφής με ένα επιτάφιο στην "Υψικράτεια, σύζυγο του Μιθριδάτη του 6ου". Ο Kuznetsov πιστεύει τώρα ότι λόγω της θέσης της ταφόπλακας, δεν υπάρχει καμία αμφιβολία ότι η Υψικράτεια πέθανε στην Φαναγορία. ''Είναι τόσο πλούσια περιοχή που πραγματοποιεί διαρκώς ανακαλύψεις. Αλλά αυτή είναι μια από αυτές τις εξαιρετικά σπάνιες περιπτώσεις όπου οι ιστορικές αφηγήσεις και τα αρχαιολογικά ευρήματα ταιριάζουν μεταξύ τους άψογα''.
  • Αγγλοσαξονικός Θησαυρός - Staffordshire, Αγγλία
  • Πρώτοι εξημερωμένοι Ίπποι - Botai, Καζακστάν
  • Πρώτος ζωολογικός κήπος στον κόσμο - Hierakonpolis, Αίγυπτος
  • Ο πρώτος ''χημικός πόλεμος'' - Dura-Europos, Συρία
  • Κεραμική Rubaiyat - Ιερουσαλήμ, Ισραήλ
  • Πρώτοι αρδευτές - Tucson, Arizona, Η.Π.Α.
  • Ανάγλυφα Popol Vuh - El Mirador, Γουατεμάλα
  • Άρχοντας του Úcupe - Úcupe, Περού


English version
Archaeology's annual list of the year's most exciting discoveries--from North America's earliest canals to evidence for chemical warfare at a Roman outpost in Syria, highlights sites, artifacts, and scientific studies we feel most enrich our knowledge of the past.

Archaeology is an incremental science, and "eureka" moments are rare. Often the most significant advances result from many years of research. For instance, we feature the work of archaeologists who have dug for four decades at a 2nd century B.C. Greek city in southern Russia. They were only recently able to identify a large structure at the site as the palace of King Mithradates VI, a legendary foe of Rome.

Two elite tombs excavated this year are on the list, one belonging to a Moche lord in Peru and the other to a family of Iron Age priestesses on Crete in Greece.
Meanwhile, graves of exotic animals now emerging at the Predynastic Egyptian capital of Hierakonpolis show that the city's rulers kept extensive menageries, the world's first zoos.


  • Iron Age Priestesses - Eleftherna, Crete
The discovery of a powerful female bloodline, uninterrupted for nearly 200 years, in the Iron Age necropolis of Orthi Petra at Eleftherna is illuminating the role of women in the so-called "Dark Ages" of Greece.

Last summer, the remains of four females, ranging in age from about seven to seventy, were excavated in an 8th century Β.C. monumental funerary building. Its floor was covered with thin strips of gold, once affixed to burial garments, and the women were surrounded by bronze vessels and figurines, and jewelry made of gold, silver, glass, ivory, and semiprecious stones imported from Asia Minor, the Near East, and North Africa.

Other artifacts from the tomb, including a possible stone altar, ritual bronze saws and knives, and a rare glass phiale for pouring libations, suggest these women played an important role in Eleftherna's religious life. Dig director Nicholas Stampolidis of the University of Crete, believes the oldest one was a high priestess interred with her protégés.

Adelphi University forensic anthropologist Anagnostis Aggelarakis has found all four women shared a genetic dental trait. Further research is expected to confirm they were related to a dozen women unearthed nearby last year, each of whom also had the trait. The other women were buried in three connected pithoi (large ceramic jars) containing equally luxurious grave goods, though without ritual implements.
"This time period is erroneously called the Dark Ages", says Aggelarakis. "The finds show that these women were aristocratic. Their social standing was superlative. I mean, the phiale alone, it must have been sent from a 'prince' of Mesopotamia! And their matrilineage was not ruptured for two centuries. I don't think it was dark at all".



  • Palace of Mithradates - Kuban, Russia
For the past four decades, archaeologist Vladimir Kuznetsov of the Russian Academy of Sciences has worked at Phanagoria, an ancient Greek city on the Black Sea that was home to Mithradates VI. The king of Pontus from 119 to 63 B.C., Mithradates was the most powerful king in Asia Minor during the first century B.C. Often called Rome's greatest enemy, he fought three wars against the Roman republic.

After a decade puzzling over the age and function of the incinerated remains of a large building on Phanagoria's acropolis, Kuznetsov and his team have now uncovered more than 300 coins in a small extension of the structure, including ones depicting Mithradates himself.
The discovery finally allowed them to date the building to around 60 B.C. The Roman historian Appian mentions a citywide uprising at Phanagoria in 63 B.C. that culminated with the incineration of a huge public building. "We don't know for certain, but this building might have been [Mithradates's] residence", Kuznetsov says.

Recent underwater excavations in the area have also produced some exciting finds, including a marble gravestone inscribed with an epitaph to "Hypsikratia, wife of Mithradates VI". Kuznetsov now believes that given the location of her gravestone, there is no doubt that Hypsikratia died at Phanagoria. "It is such a rich site that we're constantly making discoveries. But this is one of those exceedingly rare cases where historical narratives and archaeological findings all support each other seamlessly", he explains.


  • Anglo-Saxon Hoard - Staffordshire, England
[image]In July 2009, the largest-ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold was found buried in a farmer's field in Staffordshire, central England. Discovered by Terry Herbert, a metal detectorist, and then excavated by the Birmingham University Archaeology Unit, the hoard consists of more than 1,500 gold and silver items, all dating to the 7th century. The find is far larger than other significant Anglo-Saxon hoards, such as those discovered with the contemporaneous noble burials at Sutton Hoo in southeastern England.
Most of the artifacts are associated with warfare, including helmet fragments engraved with a frieze of running animals and elaborate gold sword hilts inlaid with garnets. In some cases, rivets were still attached to the hilt components, suggesting they were ripped off the weapons and hidden quickly.


  • First Domesticated Horses - Botai, Kazakhstan

[image]
The world's first broncobusters, it seems, hailed from Central Asia. New research proves that herders from the steppes were the first to tame horses 5,500 years ago. Since the 1990s, horse bones have been unearthed at the site of Botai, a village in what is now northern Kazakhstan that was occupied from 3700 to 3100 B.C. But a new analysis of bones, teeth, and pottery sherds leaves no question that the people of Botai practiced horse husbandry.
Researchers from the U.S., Britain, and Kazakhstan, including archaeologist Sandra Olsen of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History compared the Botai bones with those from two sites occupied by nomadic horse hunters at the same time as Botai and one from the Bronze Age (1200-900 B.C.), by which time horses had clearly been domesticated. They say the Botai equines are closer to domesticated horses than to wild ones.


  • World's First Zoo - Hierakonpolis, Egypt
[image]
Strange animal burials at the ancient Egyptian capital of Hierakonpolis point to the existence of a large, exotic menagerie around 3500 B.C. The 2009 field season produced 10 dogs, a baby hippo, a hartebeest, a cow and calf, and an elephant. The tally for this Predynastic period zoo now stands at 112 critters, including 2 elephants, 3 hippos, 11 baboons, and 6 wildcats.
Hierakonpolis, on the Nile south of Luxor, was settled by 4000 B.C., and by the time these animals were buried around 500 years later, was Egypt's largest urban center. The animal burials are in the city's elite cemetery, where rulers and their family members, along with retainers, some possibly sacrificed, were interred. Hierakonpolis Expedition director Renee Friedman found evidence indicating that the city's powerful rulers kept the animals in captivity, almost as in a zoo. Baboons, a wild cat, and a hippo show signs of bone fractures that can only have healed in a protected environment. A 10-year-old male elephant had eaten twigs from acacia trees as well as wild and cultivated plants from varied environments, suggesting it was being fed.


  • Rubaiyat Pot - Jerusalem, Israel
[image]Rina Avner of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) didn't initially know what to make of an unusual ceramic fragment unearthed at a housing construction site in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. Not only was the sherd covered with a brilliant turquoise glaze and scrolling black floral designs, but it also was inscribed with a line of text. At first, Avner and her team assumed it was in Arabic or Turkish, since both languages were used in the city. But the text was Persian and, once translated, found to be a line from the Rubaiyat, a collection of four-line verses (rubaais) written by Omar Khayyam (A.D. 1048-1131), the renowned medieval Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer. The Rubaiyat is considered his masterpiece and the central work of Persian literature.

Although vessels inscribed with Persian verses have been found elsewhere in regions once under ancient Persia's cultural influence, this is the first time such a discovery has been made in Israel. "The surprise lies in the content of this particular find", says Yuval Baruch, IAA Jerusalem district archaeologist. "Usually in archaeology, we don't find things that so directly speak to the lyrical or literary soul of Jerusalemites during this period".
The vessel, which may have been decorative or used to store oil, dates from the 12th or 13th century A.D. and was made in Persia. It was discovered together with some coins in Middle Ages construction fill, leaving Avner to explain exactly how this vessel ended up in Jerusalem. Was it imported by merchants for sale in the bazaar or a gift to a lover?


  • Earliest Chemical Warfare - Dura-Europos, Syria
[image]In a narrow tunnel under the fortress-city of Dura (now Dura-Europos) in the eastern Syrian desert, 20 Roman soldiers met their fate defending the city from the Sasanian Empire. The archaeologists who found them in the 1930s assumed they had died in a tunnel collapse, but University of Leicester archaeologist Simon James thinks they met a more unusual demise, as victims of chemical warfare.
Sometime around A.D. 256, forces of the powerful, expanding Sasanian Empire laid siege to the Roman fortress. They dug tunnels to undermine the city's outer wall, while the Romans excavated countermines to intercept them. Reexamining the site as if it were a crime scene, James noted that the bodies of the soldiers had been deliberately stacked where the Roman and Sasanian tunnels met. The Sasanians had apparently used their enemies' bodies as a barricade, behind which they could light a fire to collapse the tunnels and bring down the wall. But how had the Persians killed so many Roman soldiers in such a dark, confined space? "The Persians would have heard the Roman counterminers and, I believe, prepared a deadly surprise for them", says James.


  • Early Irrigators - Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.
[image]
For years, archaeologists in the American Southwest have wrestled with a frustrating puzzle: How did ancient farmers grow corn in the cactus-studded Sonoran Desert as early as 2000 B.C.? Some form of irrigation was clearly necessary, but until 2009 no one had ever seen evidence for one of these primeval watering systems. Now at the site of Las Capas outside Tucson, archaeologist James Vint of Desert Archaeology Inc. and his colleagues have excavated an enormous network of canals and fields stretching over as many as 100 acres and dating to 1200 B.C. It is the oldest documented irrigation system in North America.


  • Popol Vuh Relief - El Mirador, Guatemala
[image]
While investigating the water collection system at the city of El Mirador in northern Guatemala's Petén rain forest, a team of archaeologists led by Richard Hansen of Idaho State University uncovered a sculptural panel with one of the earliest depictions of the Maya creation story, the Popol Vuh. "It was like finding the Mona Lisa in the sewage system", says Hansen. The plaster panel dates to approximately 200 B.C. and depicts the mythical hero twins, Hunaphu and Xbalanque, swimming into the underworld to retrieve the decapitated head of their father. The sculpture dates to the same period as some of the earliest artwork to depict the Popol Vuh, the murals at San Bartolo and a stela at Nakbe, two other nearby cities.


  • Lord of Úcupe - Úcupe, Peru
[image]Best known for the over-the-top jewelry their rulers wore to their own funerals, the Moche of northern Peru (A.D. 100-800) are also the subject of intense debate over how they governed themselves. Were the Moche a collection of squabbling city-states, each in its own valley, or was there a central authority?

A discovery in the village of Úcupe suggests the answer might be closer to the latter. Archaeologists found an array of gilded copper masks, shields and diadems in the tomb of a local lord that strongly resemble those excavated in elite tombs up to 25 miles away. There is a striking similarity between the discovery and the elaborate Moche burials 12 miles north of Úcupe known as the Tombs of Sipán. Úcupe was a satellite of Sipán, where the first unlooted tombs of a Moche dynasty were discovered in 1987. Both tombs date to around A.D. 450.

Πηγή / Source: Archaeology

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