Taking portable XRF into the field to survey for geochemical indicators of human occupation
Obsidian, naturally occurring volcanic glass, is smooth, hard, and far sharper than a surgical scalpel when fractured, making it a highly desirable raw material for crafting stone tools for almost all of human history. The earliest obsidian tools, found in East Africa, are nearly two million years old, and obsidian scalpels are still used today in specialized medical procedures.
The chemistry of obsidian varies from volcano to volcano, and the chemical “fingerprints” allow researchers to match an obsidian artifact to the volcanic origin of its raw material. The chemical tests often involve dedicated analytical laboratories, even nuclear reactors, and take place months or years after an archaeological site has been excavated.
The new process uses an analytical technique called portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF), which involves a handheld instrument about the size, shape, and weight of a cordless drill. This portability enables archaeologists to identify the origins of stone tools in the field rather than having to send off artifacts to a distant lab. The newly developed method, which saves time and money, will first be used to study obsidian tools made by early humans, including Neanderthals and Homo erectus, tens of thousands of years ago.
TAMPA, FL - A Florida based treasure hunting firm has discovered a 450-year-old ship that wrecked off the Dominican coast. Among its valuable cargo -- the single largest cache of 16th century pewter tableware ever discovered. The ship was also carrying extremely rare Spanish silver coins from the late 1400's through the mid 1500's and several gold artifacts. This unprecedented find of 16th century pewter will re-write history books, as many of the maker's marks stamped into the fine pewter have never been seen before. While the value of the gold and silver recovered is easily determined, surprisingly, experts place the value of this four and a half century old pewter collection into the millions. The collection includes plates, platters, porringers, salts and flagons in an array of sizes and styles.
Divers from Anchor Research and Salvage (a Global Marine Exploration, Inc. company) working with the Punta Cana Foundation painstakingly excavated the wreck site under contract with the Underwater Cultural Heritage division of the Dominican Minister of Culture.
Anchor Research and Salvage has recently completed surveying operations on their southwestern coastal lease area off the Dominican Republic, revealing numerous previously undiscovered shipwrecks. Noted shipwreck archaeologist and author Sir Robert F. Marx estimates that there is several billion dollars of submerged treasures in the southern coastal area alone, and ten times that amount waiting in Global Marine Exploration's future target areas. Investigation and recovery operations in the Dominican Republic continue.
CEO Robert Pritchett said, "Sample artifacts from these newly discovered wreck sites indicate that we may have found an entire fleet of early Galleons that wrecked on their way back to Spain carrying the riches of the new world." Pritchett also mentions that negotiations are well underway for GME and its companies to provide artifact rescue and excavation services in other countries as well. "GME's unique business model opens up a new age for cost-effective and archaeologically sensitive shipwreck exploration. Other countries are seeing how well we document and record the archaeological evidence in the Dominican Republic, and we are in talks with other nations in the Caribbean and beyond," said Pritchett.
Courtesy; e Turbo News
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By Desiree Stennett, Orlando Sentinel
Most treasure hunters go a lifetime and never take home a single piece of silver. But one Sanford family is now among the divers who struck gold — and a lot of it.
The treasure-hunting Schmitt family uncovered this weekend what could be $300,000 worth of gold chains and coins off the coast of Fort Pierce.
"This is like the end of a dream," said Rick Schmitt, who owns Booty Salvage.
The discovery came about 150 yards offshore and only 15 feet down. Schmitt's family — along with diver and friend, Dale Zeak — said they found 64 feet of thin gold chain that weighed in at more than three pounds, five gold coins and a gold ring.
Brent Brisben, co-founder of 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC, the company that owns the rights to dive on the wreckage site, came up with what he called a conservative estimated value of the haul.
"To be the first person to touch an artifact in 300 years, is indescribable," Brisben said Monday. "They were there 150 years before the Civil War. It's truly remarkable to be able to bring that back."
By Tommy Vawter
My interest in the Legend of Ciudad Blanca, or "The White City" began several years ago as we made plans to launch an expedition to the Central American county of Honduras, and last year we spent 3 months exploring Honduras and the many legends of Pirate treasure on the Island of Roatan and also the legendary city said to be located in the Mosquitia.
The Rio Platano Biosphere was declared World Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which is located in the departments of Olancho, Gracias a Dios and Colón , with an area of 815 000 hectares, which borders the Bosawás, in Nicaragua.
Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés reported hearing legends of a region with towns and villages of extreme wealth in Honduras, but never located them. By the 1930s, there were rumors of a place in Honduras called the "City of the Monkey God" and in 1940 adventurer Theodore Morde claimed to have found it. However, he never provided a precise location for the site, one that later sources equated with Ciudad Blanca. Morde died before returning to the region to undertake further exploration.
Peruvian archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo flies a drone over Cerro Chepén, one of thousands of ancient ruins across Peru. Photograph: Mariana Bazo/Reuters
In Peru, home to the spectacular Inca city of Machu Picchu and thousands of ancient ruins, archaeologists are turning to drones to speed up sluggish survey work and protect sites from squatters, builders and miners.
Remote-controlled aircraft were developed for military purposes and the US is increasingly using them to attack alleged terrorists, but the technology's falling price means it is increasingly used for civilian and commercial projects around the world.
Small drones have been helping a growing number of researchers produce three-dimensional models of Peruvian sites instead of the usual flat maps – and in days and weeks instead of months and years.
Speed is important to archaeologists here. Peru's economy has grown at an average of 6.5% a year over the past decade, and development pressures have surpassed looting as the main threat to the country's cultural treasures, according to the government.
Researchers are still picking up the pieces after a pyramid near Lima, believed to have been built 5,000 years ago by a fire-revering coastal society, was razed in July by construction firms. The same month, residents of a town near the pre-Incan ruins of Yanamarca reported that miners digging for quartz were damaging the three-story stone structures.
And squatters and farmers repeatedly try to seize land near important sites such as Chan Chan on the northern coast, thought to be the biggest adobe city in the world.
Archaeologists say drones can help set boundaries to protect sites, monitor threats and create a digital repository of ruins that can help build awareness and aid in the reconstruction of any damage.
The Endurance and its crew became stuck among the ice floes of the Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean in 1914. (Library of Congress)
If the wreck of the Endurance, the ship abandoned nearly 100 years ago by Ernest Shackleton and his crew in one of history's greatest sagas of polar exploration, were to be found today beneath the icy waters of Antarctica, it might be in surprisingly pristine condition. The ship is one of several wooden vessels presumed to be lying untouched on the Southern Ocean's floor.
"Untouched" and "wooden" are words rarely used to describe the same shipwreck -- sea worms and other creatures usually bore into the wood with such vigor that by the time archaeologists discover the remnants, the ship's skeleton has often completely disintegrated. But now, researchers from the Royal Society in London have discovered that there are virtually no wood-threatening organisms in Antarctic waters.
Fishermen in the central province of Quang Ngai have found another old sunken boat near the shore, the third old shipwreck spotted in the waters recently and only 100 meters from the second one found last September.
Though it was near midnight on Thursday, around 30 fishing boats had rushed over for a treasure hunt upon hearing of the discovery, which happened around 100 meters off Chau Thuan Bien Village of Binh Son District, and around 1.5 meters under water.
They were jostling around above the boat’s location, around 100 meters to the west of one that was salvaged last July, when more than 4,000 intact antiques were recovered and some were believed to come from the 13th century.
Boats also dredged the sea bed around the area in hopes it would stir up some antiques.
Many people used axes and crowbars to take the antiques quickly, only to break many pottery plates and bowls.
Nguyen Van Thinh, a more gentle hunter, said: “There are many antiques in the boat, but people fought so much for them, smashing them… What a waste!”
By Dan Vergano
An international archaeology team on Wednesday reported the discovery of a "stunning" stucco wall sculpture, its colors intact, unearthed in Guatemala beneath a Maya pyramid.
Guatemalan antiquity officials announced the discovery of the stucco frieze, 30 feet long and 6 feet tall, found on the inside of a pyramid at the Maya city site of Holmul.
"It is one of the most fabulous things I have ever seen," says archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli of the Holmul Archaeological Project. "The preservation is wonderful because it was very carefully packed with dirt before they started building over it."
Submitted by Gillian Finklea
Sarasota, Florida -- State and county staff will host a public input session 3-5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15 at Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota on the proposed Florida's Statewide Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan. The plan has been developed by the Florida Department of State's Division of Historical Resources.
Participants will discuss how the plan can guide efforts to work together to preserve Florida's history and historical, archaeological, and cultural resources. Full color copies and an executive summary will be available. "We are pleased to partner with the State Division of Historical Resources to offer the community the opportunity to review this important plan," said Lorrie Muldowney, manager, Sarasota County Historical Resources. "Sarasota County is a virtual treasure trove of historical sites so we are encouraging the community to share their priorities about protecting our irreplaceable cultural resources."
The Mission of the Florida Division of Historical Resources is to inspire a love of history through preservation and education. Departments in the Division of Historical Resources include the Bureau of Historic Preservation which conducts programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, preserving and interpreting the historic and folklife resources of the state. The Bureau also manages one of the largest state supported grants-in-aid programs in the country, providing funds to help preserve and maintain the state's historic buildings and archaeological sites.
The Bureau of Archaeological Research is responsible for the state's archaeology program. The bureau's archaeologists carry out archaeological surveys and excavations throughout the state, mostly on state-owned lands. They maintain records on historical resources that have been recorded, and assist consultants and planners in protecting sites. The state's underwater archaeology program includes not only historic shipwreck sites but also pre-Columbian sites in underwater contexts.
For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000, or visit www.scgov.net.
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By Robert Nolin, Sun Sentinel
Veiled in myth, it's said to be forged of Incan gold by Peru's Spanish overlords nearly 400 years ago: a life-size statue of the Madonna and Christ child.
And the fabled Golden Madonna lies just off the Palm Beach County coast, at the site of a Spanish shipwreck from 1659.
That's what Robert Bouchlas, treasure hunter and leader of a West Palm Beach church, believes.
But experts strongly doubt the solid gold statue is real. And Bouchlas' federal claim for salvage rights to the wreck has drawn attention from Florida and Spanish officials.
"Does the Golden Madonna exist? It's a story which has circulated for some period of time," said Terry Armstrong, a treasure hunter from Merritt Island who publishes books on shipwrecks. "I don't put any credence into it whatsoever."
Bouchlas, 82, declined to discuss the statue upon the advice of lawyers. But he authorized longtime associate Anne Mary Vesey to speak about his "quest for the impossible dream."
"He's not really after money, he's really after this religious relic," Vesey said. "His plans are to place it in the Vatican."
Treasure hunters familiar with the legend can't pinpoint its origin. But according to Bouchlas, the Golden Madonna was created in 1655 when Spain's King Phillip IV ordered an unknown Peruvian artist to cast a life-size gold statue of the Madonna and child, each with double crowns encrusted with gems.
The king ordered it shipped home via a Spanish treasure armada. It was supposedly secured in an 8-foot locked iron box, crown jewels wrapped in lambswool.
"No one is to know of the gold casting or the cargo but those appointed by my hand," Bouchlas quoted from a "secret order" of Phillip IV. "Let the imbeciles who cast the statue be destroyed forever."
- Mayan Discovery Reveals Turmoil
- Treasure ahoy!
- Swiss watch discovered in ancient tomb
- Colombia Passes Underwater Cultural Heritage Law
- Extensive Maya Site Discovered Southeast of Campeche
- 19th Century Shipwreck Located Off Of Mexico
- 'Spectacular' Roman treasure found in Sandridge was discovered by first-time metal detector
- Michigan Issues Dig Permit That Could Uncover The Great Lakes' Oldest Shipwreck