Posts Tagged With: archaeology

Hiding in plain sight: How invisibility saved New Mexico’s Jicarilla Apache…


A nomadic tribe pushed into New Mexico by frontier settlement, the Jicarilla slipped off the radar and became the last tribe to avoid forced settlement onto an American Indian reservation

North America’s Jicarilla Apache tribe cloaked themselves in trade, diplomacy, and intermarriage and nearly escaped incarceration on an American Indian reservation. How they did it has been a mystery of the historical American Southwest – until now.

“In some ways, the Jicarilla still remain invisible,” according to anthropologist B. Sunday Eiselt at Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

The Jicarilla Apache, an amalgamation of nomadic tribes that in the 18th century migrated off the plains and settled in the northern Rio Grande of New Mexico, were accustomed to armed resistance, guerrilla tactics and inter-tribal warfare.

They fought alongside the Pueblo Indians in the Revolt of 1680 and later resisted Comanche raiders, sometimes as contract fighters and security guards for the Spanish and American trade caravans. Then quietly, deliberately and peacefully they slipped off the radar of Spanish colonization and U.S. Manifest Destiny until 1888, when the Jicarilla became the last Native American tribe forcibly settled on a reservation.

Invisibility was no accident, rather a strategy for survival

“This was not an accident of history,” says Eiselt. The Apache, particularly the Jicarilla, were experts at invisibility — not just physically, but also socially and economically. For example, Jicarilla warriors on raids would paint themselves during the journey to the plains with white clay to avoid detection by their enemies.

The protocol beckoned supernatural or spiritual protections to bring the warriors home safely. Just as white clay was a warrior strategy for self-preservation, it stands as a metaphor for the primary message of the book.

“By ‘becoming white clay’ in their social and economic dealings,” Eiselt contends, “the Jicarilla turned the tables on non-Indian expansion and disappeared into the cultural fabric of the Southwest’s Pueblo colonies as other Native Americans were being forced onto reservations.” The Jicarilla, without firing a shot, not only avoided confinement and even extermination for nearly two centuries, they rescued their culture from extinction.

How did they manage it?

“The Jicarilla essentially colonized the colonies,” says Eiselt, an expert on the Jicarilla. “They became invisible to government authorities because they were always on the move, they intermarried with the Pueblo and Hispanic peoples, and they established long-standing trade with them. They disappeared by becoming essential, an everyday part of the frontier society of New Mexico, which sustained Spanish, Mexican and ultimately U.S. interests.”
Encapsulation of one society within a larger, dominant or more powerful society is a phenomenon known as enclavement. As a strategy it was not new to the ancestors of the Jicarilla. In fact, enclavement may have occurred multiple times as their Athapaskan ancestors migrated from Canada to the American Southwest beginning as early as the 12th century, Eiselt says.

That phenomenon, however, makes the Jicarilla difficult for scholars to study. Unlike Pueblo archaeology and history, the Jicarilla for the most part have existed outside the realm of historical scholarship in spite of their importance to the social fabric and the economy of New Mexican villages after the fall of the Spanish empire.

Today, bases of tipi rings such as the ones Eiselt discovered during field work in the Rio del Oso Valley of New Mexico, are all that remain of historic Jicarilla homes in the archaeological record. Tipi ring stones would have been used to secure the superstructure. Images at http://bit.ly/VUzILa.

Jicarilla contribution to New Mexico’s history is underappreciated

“Few scholars recognize how significant the Jicarilla contribution was to the survival of the traditional cultures of New Mexico,” says Eiselt, whose new book “Becoming White Clay” (U. of Utah Press, 2012) is a comprehensive study of one of the longest-lived and most successful nomadic ethnic group enclaves in North America. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of research into the Jicarilla, even though they’ve always been there and their contribution to New Mexican history is almost entirely underappreciated.”

Eiselt’s research drew on archaeological investigations, Native American land claims cases, U.S. government agency records, Spanish and Mexican records, oral histories and the tribe’s myths and legends. “Ironically, being invisible is not just how the Jicarilla are, but often how they are ‘seen’ or even missed by scholars of the Southwest,” Eiselt says. The tribe resides today on reservation land in northwestern New Mexico.

“Sunday Eiselt has produced the definitive work on Jicarilla Apache history and archaeology,” says Ronald H. Towner, University of Arizona. “She uses a strong theoretical approach to enclavement and combines history, archaeology and ethnohistory to not only describe past Jicarilla movements and cultural development throughout the Southwest, but to explain how and why Jicarilla social organization at different scales structured that development during times of warfare, removal from traditional lands and economic stress. Eiselt’s scholarship is second-to-none.”

B. Sunday Eiselt is an assistant professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University and is active in anthropological fieldwork at the SMU Taos campus. She is author or co-author of books and articles on the Jicarilla and Hispanic societies of New Mexico, community-based and engaged approaches in archaeology and ceramic source geochemistry.

“The scholarship is broad, intrinsically sound, and highly significant to the discipline of archaeology today,” says John W. Ives, Institute of Prairie Archaeology and professor of Northern Plains archaeology, University of Alberta. “The author has a fluid, lucid style, making her subject matter readily approachable to both the professional and the interested lay reader.”

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Egypt…Breaking news….Tomb of ancient princess unearthed near Cairo….


Egypt’s antiquities ministry says that Czech archaeologists have unearthed the 4,500-year-old tomb of a Pharaonic princess south of Cairo.
Ministry official Mohammed El-Bialy told The Associated Press on Saturday that Princess Shert Nebti’s burial site is surrounded by the tombs of four high officials from the Fifth Dynasty dating to around 2,500 BC in the Abu Sir complex near the famed step pyramid of Saqqara. El-Bialy says further excavation is needed before the tomb can be opened to the public.
Antiquities minister Mohammed Ibrahim said in a statement Friday that the antechamber to the tomb of the princess includes four limestone columns and hieroglyphic inscriptions.

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Cat leads owner to discovery of ancient Roman ruins…..


Mirko Curti was chasing his cat through the streets of his village on Tuesday night when the cat inadvertently discovered a set of ancient Roman ruins.
“The cat managed to get into a grotto and we followed the sound of its meowing,” Curti told the Guardian.
When he caught up to the animal, it had crawled into an opening in the side of a cliff. Inside the opening, Curti stumbled upon a 2,000-year-old tomb “piled with bones” and ancient Roman urns.
The tomb was discovered just outside a residential area in the Roman city of Via di Pietralata.
Archeologists who were called to the site have speculated that it dates back to sometime between the 1st century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D.
Curti described the discovery as “the most incredible experience” of his life.
The archeologists said that recent rains in the area were likely responsible for exposing the tomb and noted that several other similar discoveries have been made in the area in recent years.

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Death-Cult Mummies Inspired by Desert Conditions?



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Preserved by one of Earth’s driest climates, a long-buried corpse in Chile’s Atacama Desert retains centuries-old skin, hair, and clothing.

Naturally dehydrated corpses like this probably inspired the region’s ancient Chinchorro people to actively mummify their dead, scientists speculate in a new study. The practice, researchers suggest, took off during a time of natural plenty and population growth, when the Chinchorro were better able to innovate and develop culturally.

Living in fishing villages along the coasts of Chile and Peru, the Chinchorro had begun mummifying skeletons by 5050 B.C., thousands of years before the Egyptians. Archaeologists have long wondered how the practice—and a related cult of death—arose, with some speculating it had been imported from the notably wetter Amazon Basin.

“Our study is one of the few to document the emergence of social complexity due to environmental change”—in this case, climate shifts that desiccated the Atacama, study leader Pablo Marquet said.

“Until now, most of the emphasis has been on how environmental change triggers the collapse of societies,” said Marquet, an archaeologist at Catholic University in Santiago, Chile.

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Archaeologists find likely queen tomb in Guatemala…….



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The discovery of a tomb that experts believe might be that of a great Maya queen could redefine the understanding of women’s political roles during the Classic Maya period, experts said Thursday.
A team of U.S. and Guatemalan experts led by anthropologist David Freidel found a stone jar at a burial chamber in northern Guatemala that led them to believe it is the burial site of Lady K’abel, considered the military governor of an ancient Maya city during the 7th century.
“Lady K’abel was buried 11 meters down from the surface in a temple near a stairway,” Freidel said. “K’abel was not a regular person. To put her in that location means that it was important; it means that people continued to worship her after the fall of the dynasty.”
The team working in the royal Maya city of El Peru-Waka also found other evidence, such as ceramic vessels, jade jewelry, thousands of obsidian blades and a large stone with carvings referring to Lady K’abel.
The alabaster jar showed the head and arm of an aged woman emerging from the opening and glyphs pointing to the name of the queen, Guatemala’s cultural ministry said in a statement Thursday.
“The royal tomb shows that women have been leaders in the past and we must now assume and exercise political participation to strengthen the role of women in the new era,” Rosa Maria Chan, deputy minister for cultural and natural heritage, said in the statement.
K’abel, considered the greatest ruler of the Late Classic period, ruled with her husband, K’inich Bahlam, for at least 20 years in the 7th century, Freidel said. She was the military governor of the Waka kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and she carried the title “Kaloomte” — translated as “Supreme Warrior,” higher in authority than her husband, the king.
Freidel, who is from Washington University in St. Louis, said the findings at the ruins of El Peru-Waka were “serendipitous.”
“In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense that the people of Waka buried her in this particularly prominent place in their city,” Freidel said.
For Marcello A. Canuto, director of the Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University, the alabaster identifies the tomb as that of the “Lady of Kaan” and noted there is a stela erected in her honor at the archaeological site.
“She has been given all the honors a male king would have been given,” Canuto said. “It’s not the first such tomb discovered, but it gives an idea of the important role women played in forging dynastic alliances, and the status they enjoyed.”
Traci Ardren, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Miami and a Mayan archaeologist specializing in gender relations, said the traditional belief that Maya men occupied a more important place than women has to do with the amount of images in Mayan art that show men in positions of authority.
“People like Lady K’abel show there were examples of extraordinary women that were able to position themselves in powerful roles, were incredibly successful and were accepted by society,” Ardren said.

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17th-century treasures being recovered in Poland…..



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Historians salvage 17th century marble and alabaster decorative structures in the Vistula River bed after its waters ebbed to record low levels in Warsaw, Poland Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. The treasures, including a fountain, vases and marble steps, were looted by invading Swedish army probably from the Royal Castle in the mid-17th century and got buried in the Vistula when a Swedish barge taking the loot sank. Low water on the Vistula exposed and made the artifacts accessible.
A police Mi-8 helicopter hovered over a riverbed on Thursday, lifting ornaments such as the centerpiece of a fountain with water outlets decorated with Satyr-like faces. For police, it was gratifying to provide the chopper and assist Warsaw University archeologists in “this very important mission of retrieving priceless national treasures,” said Mariusz Mrozek, a spokesman for Warsaw police. Archaeologists have long known that such well-preserved treasures were located in the riverbed in the Warsaw area, but not exactly where.

“This is a precious find. These elements were stolen from Warsaw’s royal residences and palaces,” said Marek Wrede, a historian at the Royal Castle. The valuable artistic objects—marble floor tiles, parts of archways and columns—were robbed from Warsaw by the Swedes who overran the nation in mid-17th century and took heavy loads of spoils from across the country. Today’s items probably came from the Royal Castle and from a royal country residence, the Kazimierz Palace.

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Unique tombs found in Philippines……



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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Archaeologists have unearthed remnants of what they believe is a 1,000-year-old village on a jungle-covered mountaintop in the Philippines with limestone coffins of a type never before found in this Southeast Asian nation, officials said Thursday.
National Museum official Eusebio Dizon said the village on Mount Kamhantik, near Mulanay town in Quezon province, could be at least 1,000 years old based on U.S. carbon dating tests done on a human tooth found in one of 15 limestone graves he and other archaeologists have dug out since last year.
The discovery of the rectangular tombs, which were carved into limestone outcrops jutting from the forest ground, is important because it is the first indication that Filipinos at that time practiced a more advanced burial ritual than previously thought and that they used metal tools to carve the coffins.
Past archaeological discoveries have shown Filipinos of that era used wooden coffins in the country’s mountainous north and earthen coffins and jars elsewhere, according to Dizon, who has done extensive archaeological work and studies in the Philippines and 27 other countries over the past 35 years.
Aside from the tombs, archaeologists have found thousands of shards of earthen jars, metal objects and bone fragments of humans, monkeys, wild pigs and other animals in the tombs. The limestone outcrops had round holes where wooden posts of houses or sheds may have once stood, Dizon told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.
The tombs were similar to ancient sarcophagus, which have become popular tourist attractions in Egypt and Europe, although the ones found in Mulanay were simple box-like limestone coffins without mythological or elaborate human images on the tops and sides.
Archaeologists have only worked on a small portion of a five-hectare (12-acre) forest area, where Mulanay officials said more artifacts and limestone coffins could be buried.
A preliminary National Museum report said its top archaeologists found “a complex archaeological site with both habitation and burial remains from the period of approximately 10th to the 14th century … the first of its kind in the Philippines having carved limestone tombs.”
The discovery has been welcomed with excitement in Mulanay, a sleepy coastal town of 50,000 people in an impoverished mountainous region that until recently was best known as a major battleground between army troops and Marxist rebels.
“Before, if you mention this region, people will say ‘Oh, that’s NPA country,'” Mulanay Mayor Joselito Ojeda said, referring to the New People’s Army rebels. “But that era is past and now we can erase that image and this archaeological site will be a big help.”
Mulanay tourism officer Sanny Cortez said that after archaeologists have finished their work in a few years, his town plans to turn Mount Kamhantik’s peak into an archaeological and ecotourism park. A museum would also be built nearby.
Despite the loss of thick tree covers in the 1,300-foot (396-meter) mountain’s foothills as villagers clear the jungle for homes and farms, the forested mountain still harbors a rich wildlife, including rare hornbills, wild cats and huge numbers of cave bats, including a white one recently seen by environmental officials. The mountaintop offers a scenic view of Tayabas Bay and the peak of Mayon volcano, famous for its near-perfect cone, Ojeda said.
The archaeological site is part of 280 hectares (692 acres) of forest land that was declared a government-protected area in 1998 to keep away treasure hunters and slash-and-burn farmers. Treasure hunters looking for gold exposed some of the limestone tombs years ago, but it was only last year that Manila-based archaeologists started to unearth the graves and artifacts and realize the significance of the find.
Treasure hunting has damaged many archaeological sites in the country. In the early 1990s, Filipino archaeologists led by Dizon discovered that 2,000-year-old burial jars with unique human face designs had been destroyed by treasure hunters in a cave in Maitum town in southern Sarangani province.
Archaeologists worked for a few years to glue the sack loads of clay shards piece by piece and restored more than 150 ancient burial jars to shape. Some of the Maitum jars are displayed at the National Museum in Manila with a plan to exhibit them in France next year, Dizon said.

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FIRST EVER ETRUSCAN PYRAMIDS FOUND IN ITALY…..



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The pyramids were spotted by a series of ancient stairs that had been carved into the wall of what is now a wine cellar.
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The first ever Etruscan pyramids have been located underneath a wine cellar in the city of Orvieto in central Italy, according to a team of U.S. and Italian archaeologists.

Carved into the rock of the tufa plateau –a sedimentary area that is a result of volcanic activity — on which the city stands, the subterranean structures were largely filled. Only the top-most modern layer was visible.

“Within this upper section, which had been modified in modern times and was used as a wine cellar, we noticed a series of ancient stairs carved into the wall. They were clearly of Etruscan construction,” David B. George of the Department of Classics at Saint Anselm, told Discovery News.

As they started digging, George and co-director of the excavation Claudio Bizzarri of the Parco Archeologico Ambientale dell’Orvietano noted that the cave’s walls were tapered up in a pyramidal fashion. Intriguingly, a series of tunnels, again of Etruscan construction, ran underneath the wine cellar hinting to the possibility of deeper undiscovered structures below.
After going through a mid-20th century floor, George and Bizzarri reached a medieval floor. Immediately beneath this floor, they found a layer of fill that contained various artifacts such as Attic red figure pottery from the middle of the 5th Century B.C., 6th and 5th century B.C. Etruscan pottery with inscriptions as well as various objects that dated to before 1000 B.C.

Digging through this layer, the archaeologists found 5 feet of gray sterile fill, which was intentionally deposited from a hole in the top of the structure.

“Below that material there was a brown layer that we are currently excavating. Intriguingly, the stone carved stairs run down the wall as we continue digging. We still don’t know where they are going to take us,” Bizzarri told Discovery News.

The material from the deepest level reached so far (the archaeologists have pushed down about 10 feet) dates to around the middle of the fifth century B.C.

“At this level we found a tunnel running to another pyramidal structure and dating from before the 5th century B.C. which adds to the mystery,” George said.

Indeed, the Etruscans have long been considered one of antiquity’s greatest enigmas.

A fun-loving and eclectic people who among other things taught the French how to make wine, the Romans how to build roads, and introduced the art of writing to Europe, the Etruscans began to flourish in Etruria (an area in central Italy area that covered now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna and Umbria) around 900 B.C., and then dominated much of the country for five centuries.

Known for their art, agriculture, fine metalworking and commerce, they started to decline during the fifth century B.C., as the Romans grew in power. By 300-100 B.C., they eventually became absorbed into the Roman empire.

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Largest Coin Treasure in Bulgaria….


The gold coins are from the 14th century while the silver ones are from the end of the 13th century.

The coins have been found dispersed in what has been used as a toilet hole with a 2-meter diameter, leading the experts to believe that they were hidden and buried during the Ottoman invasion of the area. Such treasures were usually placed in clay pots or similar vessels and then concealed, while for the latest find it is believed that the coins were put in some sort of a purse, which has decomposed over the years.

The coins were found in the central town of Perperikon, near the Citadel, in the area believed to have been the residence of the very wealthy bishops.

Ovcharov says the excavations there are continuing with expectations to discover more than 50 other gold coins.

The latest finds also include an intricate silver frame of a still-undated icon.

There is ongoing research at the two churches in the southeast area of the Acropolis while two tombs, most likely bishop ones, will be opened next week.

Ovcharov informs that the site enjoys lasting strong interest from local and foreign visitors with an increased flow of those from neighboring Romania and Turkey.

The unique Ancient Thracian city of Perperikon was first discovered in 1979 in the Eastern Rhodoppe Mountains. It is thought that the famous sanctuary and oracular shrine dedicated to Dionysus of the Bessi tribe was situated there. The ancient rock city contains remains from all archaeological periods.

Ovcharov also discovered nearby an ancient Thracian surface tomb in the village of Tatul, containing a sanctuary linked with the cult of Orpheus.

Ovcharov is nicknamed the “Bulgarian Indiana Jones” .

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Skeleton Army Rises from Bog



The remains of hundreds of warriors have resurfaced from a Danish bog, suggesting that a violent event took place at the site about 2,000 years ago.

Discovered in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø in East Jutland, Denmark, the skeletal remains tell the story of an entire army’s apparent sacrifice.
Following work done in 2009, archaeologists have so far unearthed the hacked bones of more than 200 individuals.

Skeletal remains include a fractured skull and a sliced thighbone. An abundance of well preserved axes, spears, clubs and shields have been also unearthed.
“It’s clear that this must have been a quite far-reaching and dramatic event that must have had profound effect on the society of the time,” project manager Mads Kähler Holst, professor of archaeology at Aarhus University, said. In fact, the find is so massive that the archaeologists aren’t counting on being able to excavate all of it.
Researchers believe that the warriors lost a battle to an opposing tribe.
They were then sacrificed and thrown into a lake that has since dried into a bog, preserving the remains.

Detailed analyses of the slaughtered warriors will try to answer questions about who they were, where they came from and why they were sacrificed.

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