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The Netherlands gives VOC collection to Australia Email

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 11:51
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 11:51

Silver coins, weapons, gold utensils and navigational instruments. Earlier this month, the Netherlands handed over these treasures to Australia. All of them came from Dutch East Indiamen that had sunk off the West Australian coast.

The ships were on their way not to Australia, but to the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia). Navigational problems put them off course, and they fetched up on the treacherous West Australian coast. The treasure came from four shipwrecks, the best known of which was the Batavia.

Salvage work began in the 1970s, and the finds were shared between Australia and the Netherlands. It has now been decided to put the two parts together to make a single collection. It will be housed in Fremantle, the place nearest to the original location of the shipwrecks.

Apart from cannon balls and coins, the collection also contains various utensils that give a good picture of life on board ship. There are wine pitchers, fishhooks, tweezers, thimbles and a very unusual iron for use on silk.

At a ceremony at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Dutch Ambassador Willem Andreae transferred the collection to Senator Don Farrell by presenting him with a cracked, pewter plate, covered with a layer of white corrosion. With so many silver coins in the collection, this might seem to be a rather meagre gift, but it is steeped in symbolism

In 1606, Dirk Hartog was the first Dutchman to set foot on land in West Australia. He left a pewter plate behind to show that he had been there. The plate is still on show in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. When Willem de Vlamingh became the second Dutchman to land in West Australia eighty years later, he found the plate and replaced it with his own version. This one is on show in Perth. So the Ambassador's gift is the third pewter plate to commemorate our shared history.

Courtesy Ministry of foreign Affairs


Yuan dynasty valuable vase found in sunken ship in Shandong Email

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 11:30
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 11:30

An ancient sunken ship was discovered at a construction site in Heze in east China's Shandong Province in September 2010, which was later covered by domestic media.

The ship was made in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) and is the oldest sunken ship ever found in Shandong, according to information from a press conference jointly held by the Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Heze Municipal Government and the Heze Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology on Nov. 23.

P201011241657563216819537Archaeologists salvaged some 110 cultural relics, including a nearly intact blue-and-white vase with dragon designs worth well over 100 million yuan, from the ship.

An archaeologist, who declined to give his name, said that the cultural relics unearthed from the ship are priceless even if measured in money alone, especially three Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelains found in the rear cabins. The 42-centimeter-high blue-and-white vase with dragon designs is worth well over 100 million yuan, which is rare in China.

"I once said jokingly that if the vase is priced at 200 million yuan, or the 110 cultural relics are priced at a combined 1 billion yuan, I will immediately apply for a loan to buy them," the archaeologist added.

Why are the Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelains so valuable?

An expert explained that the techniques applied in blue-and-white porcelains did not mature until the Yuan dynasty, which created the extremely high artistic and ornamental value of the Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelains, and they are rare enough, so their prices have been rising steadily over the past hundreds of years.

"According to available statistics, there are only 200 to 300 Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelains in existence in China, with only fewer than 20 in Shandong. Therefore, this nearly intact blue-and-white vase is undoubtedly the gem of the cultural relics in the sunken ship," the expert said.

Shandong Business Daily contributed to this report.

Courtesy People's Daily Online

Ancient Egyptian temple submerged in sewage Email

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 02:17
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 02:17

Yasmine al-Qadi

An ancient Egyptian temple to the god Ptah in the village of Meet Rahina near Memphis, just south of Cairo, now sits submerged in sewage.

The temple, which was built during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II (1279 BC - 1213 BC) and was once a major tourist attraction, now serves as a home for stray dogs.

According to local residents, sanitation authorities never removed the piles of garbage dumped around the temple by villagers. They also complain that many of their homes have likewise been flooded with sewage and underground water, which they have been forced to remove with the use of buckets.

“Villagers destroyed sewage pipes and built homes in their place,” said local resident Ashraf Beshir. “Meanwhile, they disposed of their washing water around the temple, creating a small lake in the area.”

“The authorities have forbidden us from burying our dead in and around the village on the pretext that the village itself is an archaeological site,” complained villager Abu Ahmed. “Even when tourists came to visit the temple, though, we never benefited.”

Haroun Mohamed, another local resident, urged authorities not to neglect the village. “Don’t forget that this area was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Ramses II,” he said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.


Nauset shipwreck could be the Montclair Email

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 00:00
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 00:00

By Eric Williams

ORLEANS—The dean of Cape shipwreck historians thinks that the wooden timbers found on Nauset Beach recently belong to the schooner Montclair, a three-masted cargo vessel that broke apart on the outer bars in March 1927.

bildeWilliam Quinn of Orleans, said the method of construction of the timbers he saw recently at Nauset Beach jibes with what he knows about the wreck of the Montclair, which was bound from Halifax, Nova Scotia to New York when fate intervened and five men died in icy, storm-churned waters.

The timbers that emerged on the beach last week have now been covered again by tide and sand. But Quinn cited the presence of tapered dowels and bronze spikes at the current-day wreck site as evidence that leads him to believe the Montclair has surfaced from the sand again.

The historian was also on scene when the Montclair made an appearance on Nauset Beach in 1957. “I think it's one and the same,” said Quinn.

Five men perished within site of shore when the Montclair went down just off Nauset Beach, according to Quinn's book, “Shipwrecks Around Cape Cod.”

Courtesy Cape Cod Times

Centuries-old wooden boat retrieved in Pangasinan Email

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 23:52
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 23:52

By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star)

ROSALES, Pangasinan, Philippines – Residents of this booming town in the eastern part of this province accidentally retrieved a “treasure” that will give pride here for its archaeological and historical significance.

It was not however, a pot of gold, but an un­finished centuries-old dugout boat found last week by residents in Barangay Casanicolasan this town in Lagasit River, about 500 meters away from the Agno River, the third largest river in Luzon and fifth biggest nationwide.

It was actually a boy who saw it while swimming in the river and he hurriedly called the help of the local folks. The curious men, about 30 of them, led by Ronaldo de los Reyes, tried to retrieve the treasure manually with the aid of two carabaos for three days but to no avail.

Then, they decided to seek the help of Mayor Ricardo Revita to send a heavy equipment to lift it from the river and bring it to the town hall.

With the size of the wood alone and its kind, excluding its submersion in the river, Revita said one can see that it is hundreds of years old.

Revita said he believes this relic that looks like an unfinished banca is not kolloong, an Ilocano term for a material used for pounding rice by the people because of its size, as he said the people were small then and could not pound rice using this big artifact.

He has written a letter and sent someone to coordinate with the National Historical Institute and the National Museum to conduct carbon dating to determine its possible age and the kind of wood it was made of.

It weighed more than five tons, measures eight meters long plus two meters wide in its front and back and a height of up to 1.5 meters. It can load 10 carabaos at the same time, the mayor said.

Revita believes it was part of an unfinished dugout boat, a big banca.

Revita said despite its heavy weight and size, this will float in the river or sea because of the force of water (buoyancy) that serves as the balance of the boat while sailing.

He said its retrieval is a testament that old people used to live then along the river banks and this material was consistent with old stories that people used bancas as their means of transportation.

Courtesy The Philippine Star


British Museum takeover safeguards buried treasure agencies as quango goes Email

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 23:41
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 23:41

UK, The agencies that handle archaeological finds, many from amateurs with metal detectors, will become part of the British Museum, their future assured as the government dismantles the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) quango.

crosby-garrett-helmet-007The fate of the treasure and portable antiquities schemes was disclosed as they today report their annual audit of finds, another rich haul of gold coins, silver goblets, a 3,000-year-old bracelet found by a man clearing stones in a field in northern Ireland and a 400-year-old toy coach which came out of the mud of the Thames foreshore.

However the two schemes, which maintain a national network of finds officers, will lose 15% of their £1.4m budget over the next four years, like the British Museum itself.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey also said, as he launched the latest Treasure report which covers 806 reported finds in 2008, that the MLA responsibility for regional museums and libraries will be transferred as anticipated to the Arts Council – but it is far from clear how the council, which has taken a much heavier 30% cut, will cope with the additional responsibility. Future responsibility for archives is also still unclear – they will not become part of the Arts Council portfolio.

Wales will also have to take responsibility for its own treasure and other antiquity finds – likely to cause many tricky decisions in the rich archaeological landscape along the border, or finds by English detectorists going into Wales.

Vaizey also promised that the government will take another look at the legal definition of treasure next year. There have been urgent demands for a review from archaeologists, in the wake of what is perceived as the heritage disaster of the beautiful Crosby Garrett Roman helmet. The helmet, one of the most spectacular finds by a metal detectorist in decades, did not meet the definition of treasure – which must be reported, and museums have the right to acquire if they pay the agreed valuation. It was sold for £2m at a Christie's auction, with the still anonymous buyer far outbidding Tullie House museum in Carlisle, which was desperate to acquire it.

Read more: British Museum takeover safeguards buried treasure agencies as quango goes

UCSD professor reveals evidence about King Solomon’s mines Email

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 11:30
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 11:42

BY Claire Harlin

LA JOLLA — The existence of King Solomon has been a topic of debate and intrigue for countless treasure-seekers and researchers, and an anthropologist at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has uncovered evidence suggesting that the ancient king’s splendid, copper- and gold-adorned palaces — as described in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) — may very well have existed.

H2B9_se02Thomas Levy, a UCSD professor of anthropology and Judaic studies, has pioneered three highly sophisticated digging excavations in an area called Khirbat en-Nahas, located in southern Jordan, attracting the attention of NOVA/National Geographic Television, which sent a crew to Jordan with him last fall. The resulting documentary about Levy’s findings, “NOVA: Quest for Solomon’s Mines,” airs this Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 8 p.m. on PBS.

Levy, also the associate director of the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3), wasn’t looking for King Solomon’s mines at first. He was actually researching the role of ancient technology on the evolution of society. But what he found in Jordan was groundbreaking — thousands of tons of slag, a by-product of smelting ore, and different types of blowpipes. Using the process of radiocarbon dating, his team discovered there was industrial-scale metal production of copper precisely in 10th century BC.

“It would have been like the Pittsburg of Palestine,” said Levy.

Read more: UCSD professor reveals evidence about King Solomon’s mines

Ancient Roman bathing pool uncovered in Jerusalem Email

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 11:17
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 11:17

A Roman bathing pool - part of a bathhouse from the second-third centuries CE - was uncovered in archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting at the initiative of the Jerusalem Municipality and the Moriah Company for the Development of Jerusalem, prior to the construction of a men's ritual bath (miqve) in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.

iaaromanbath268According to Dr. Ofer Sion, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "We were surprised to discover an ancient bathhouse structure right below the spot where a miqve is to be built. During the excavation we uncovered a number of plastered bathtubs in the side of the pool. Incorporated in the side of the pool is a pipe used to fill it with water and on the floor of the pool is a white industrial mosaic pavement. The bathhouse tiles, which are stamped with the symbols of the Tenth Legion "Fretensis" - LEG X FR, were found in situ and it seems that they were used to cover a rock-hewn water channel located at the bottom of the pool.

"The hundreds of terra cotta roof tiles that were found on the floors of the pool indicate it was a covered structure. The mark of the soldiers of the Tenth Legion, in the form of the stamped impressions on the roof tiles and the in situ mud bricks, bears witness to the fact that they were the builders of the structure. It seems that the bathhouse was used by these soldiers who were garrisoned there after suppressing the Bar Kokhba uprising in 135 CE, when the pagan city Aelia Capitolina was established. We know that the Tenth Legion's camp was situated within the limits of what is today the Old City, probably in the region of the Armenian Quarter. This assumption is reinforced by the discovery of the bathhouse in the nearby Jewish Quarter which shows that the multitude of soldiers was spread out and that they were also active outside the camp, in other parts of the Old City."

Dr. Sion adds, "Another interesting discovery that caused excitement during the excavation is the paw print of a dog that probably belonged to one of the soldiers. The paw print was impressed on the symbol of the legion on one of the roof tiles and it could have happened accidentally or have been intended as a joke."

Read more: Ancient Roman bathing pool uncovered in Jerusalem

China moves to protect underwater relics Email

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 11:06
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 11:06

Beijing, Nov 23 (IANS) Two Chinese government agencies have signed an agreement to protect the country's underwater cultural heritage, a media report said Tuesday.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) and the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) will work closely in the fields such as underwater archaeology and management of underwater relics, China Daily reported.

The agencies will strengthen cooperation in surveys of underwater relics and in preventing damage to the relics.

SACH director Shan Jixiang said at the signing ceremony Monday that the agreement is to ensure safety of China's underwater cultural heritage amid a worldwide boom in ocean development in recent years.

Sun Zhihui, director of the SOA, said the SOA will actively provide support and assistance in the protection of underwater relics by enhancing cooperation with the SACH in fields such as enforcement of maritime laws and marine disaster forecasting.

The agencies will also seek to establish a long-term cooperation mechanism by conducting pilot cooperation programmes.

Courtesy Indo-Asian News Service


Florida natural history museum shows off ancient watercraft Email

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 10:55
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 10:55

Cristina Rabaza, Alligator Contributing Writer

When a drought in Alachua County drained Newnans Lake down to a moist bed of mud, local high school students stumbled upon canoes that hadn’t seen the light of day in several millennia.

Ten years later, the world’s largest ancient watercraft discovery is now on display at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“We dug around with our fingers in the sand for these wet chunks of wood, and we kept finding more and more canoes,” said Eastside High School teacher Steve Everett, who led his students to the site that morning in 2000. “It was pure happenstance that we found them. I’d never seen anything like this.”

4ceb3e18e29c9_preview-300Eight miles east of Gainesville, archaeologists excavated 101 dugout canoes from the lake, ranging from 500 to 5,000 years old. The canoes varied in size, some as long as 31.2 feet and some a bit shorter.

After several years developing the exhibit, the museum is the first to feature archaeologists’ findings before the exhibit travels across the nation.

“We decided to broaden the story of the canoes at Newnans Lake into this exhibit because we wanted it to travel nationally,” said Darcie MacMahon, head of exhibits at the museum. “It’s an internationally significant and internationally unique find that our very own scientists worked on, and people in the community were really excited and proud about that.”

The exhibit also explores the history of canoe construction, its modern uses and the particularly complex process scientists used to study their findings.

Florida Archaeology Collection Manager Donna Ruhl said the largest canoe discovery before then had only consisted of 12 canoes. She said this time researchers could not move the fragile wood and resorted to carving small shavings from the canoes.

“We only had a short amount of time until the waters returned after the drought,” Ruhl said, “so we needed to work quickly and get as much information as we possibly could.”

Courtesy Alligator