• Name: Paul McLerran
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Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Laocoon: Archaeological Fake?

One prominent scholar now maintains that the Laocoon, the famous ancient Greek sculptural masterpiece depicting a priest and his sons struggling with a sea snake, is a forgery. It is not just any forgery, however. According to the scholar's claims, the forger was the famous renaissance artist Michelangelo. The sculpture is said to have been created by the ancient Greeks or Romans between the 4th Century B.C. and the 2nd Century A.D., and subsequently excavated in 1506.

Read the report

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Digging in China

The Sinofossa Institute will combine paleontological digs, archaeological tours and cultural tours into a unique 10 to 14-day package for volunteers and students this summer. It offers two distinct dig/tour packages, one entitled "Dinosaurs Along the Silk Road" from July 16 to July 29, 2005, and the other entitled "Feathered Dinosaurs of the Great Wall" from August 20 to August 29, 2005. Each opportunity provides for at least several days of excavation at sites where ground-breaking (excuse the pun) discoveries are being made in the dinosaur fossil record, as well as tours of major archaeological and cultural sites in China. Check the website for more information.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Artistic Splendor of Palenque

Among the great ancient cities of the Maya, Palenque easily ranks at or near the top as one of the most beautiful. Located in Southern Mexico in the state of Chiapas, it represents the pinnacle of Classic Maya art and architecture, not so much for its grandeur as for its pure artistic splendor. Although much work has already been done to reveal the history and material remains of the site, the ongoing work of the current archaeological investigations under the "Group of the Cross Project" continues to make new discoveries. Some of the past discoveries and accomplishments include:

1. Restoration of a richly illustrated stucco panel from Temple XIX.

2. The west side of the Temple XIX Platform,containing figures and hieroglyphics in fine relief.

3. A limestone tablet from Temple XIX depicting Palenque ruler K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb' III.

4. A frescoed tomb discovered under Temple XX.

If you are interested in more information about the work of the project, go to the

If you are interested in archaeological tours that include Palenque, here are some excellent sources:

1. Far Horizons
2. Mayatour
3. iExplore
4. Geckos Grassroots Adventures

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Excavation of Ancient Pedasa

A team of Turkish and German archaeologists will soon be making preparations to excavate the large and important 3,000 year-old ancient city of Pedasa, a significant but largely unexplored cultural landmark in Turkey. Plans are to eventually restore much of the city and open it up to tourists. Thus far, archaeologists have uncovered artifacts from hundreds of royal Tholos tombs, including the Temple to Athena and a castle. The project, in contrast to previous investigations, will employ significantly more resources that Turkish scientists and authorities hope to eventually translate into one of the most important archaeological attractions of the Mediterranean area.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

Dig Spotlight: Ancient Fortresses in Ecuador

In relatively short order, the Incas conquered South America and established an empire that easily joins the ranks of the world's other great empires in both works and expanse. The success of their warfare tactics and technology assured this. But along the way, they encountered a civilization whose long years of fierce resistance gave them a run for their money. Known as the Cayambe, they defended themselves with a series of amazing fortresses constructed along a strategic highland frontier. The Incas responded in kind, building their own fortresses nearby and creating a battleground that to this day leaves architectural and artifactual traces of intense and enduring warfare.

This summer, you can join research efforts designed to investigate the differences between the Inca and Cayambe warfare tactics and what made the Cayambe so successful at resisting the Inca juggernaut. You will be involved in all aspects of archaeological excavation and investigation. You will stay in one of South America's oldest and largest haciendas, with hotel-like accommodations, including access to a pool in a greenhouse setting. The world famous market and artisans of Otavalo are located only an hour away. Bus transportation is cheap and direct. Most of all, you will have the opportunity to get a unique education in archaeological research and investigation.

If you are interested, visit the website for more information.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

T Rex Soft Tissue Discovered

WASHINGTON - For more than a century, the study of dinosaurs has been limited to fossilized bones. Now, researchers have recovered 70-million-year-old soft tissue, including what may be blood vessels and cells, from a Tyrannosaurus Rex..........

Read The Full Story

Dig Spotlight: Digging Up Colonial History at the Fortress of Louisbourg

If you are a colonial history or historical archaeology enthusiast and you picture yourself excavating this summer in cooler climes, the beauty and ruggedness of Nova Scotia might be your cup of tea. At Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Parks Canada will be conducting continuing archaeological investigations at the site of the historic Fortress of Louisbourg. Originally founded as a French settlement in 1713, it was fortified in the 1730's, besieged twice by New Englanders and the British, and then destroyed and abandoned by the British in the 1760's. Extensive archaeological excavations and historical research have resulted in partial reconstruction of the Fortress, the fortified town and its defensive walls. It is considered to be the largest reconstruction project in North America.

The 2005 season will concentrate on the De la Valliere property, which was occupied by French, British and New Englanders between 1720 and 1758. The program will begin with two 5-day field sessions in mid to late August. Participants will excavate a portion of the De la Valliere property, learn about archaeological field techniques, and attend presentations addressing current historical research at the Fortress. There will also be opportunities to experience the rest of Fortress Louisbourg and explore the rugged Cape Breton landscape and coastline.

If you are interested in volunteering, see the website for additional information.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Lithuania's Ancient Lost City

About 35 miles from Vilnius, Lithuania, is a complex of five hills, made not so much by nature than by continuous human occupation from the Stone Age to the 14th century A.D. Exposed in 1979 by geologic forces and then subsequently by careful archaeological investigation, the site reveals a massive, wooden hill-fort system that is Lithuania's equivalent of ancient Troy. The site first came to archaeologists' attention through circulating rumors of an ancient lost city. Known as Kernave, it now enjoys UNESCO heritage site status.

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Dig Spotlight: Learn Archaeology the Chinese Way

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An archaeology practicum located in Shaanxi, China, offers scholars, students and volunteers the opportunity to learn archaeological investigation techniques used in China. Under the sponsorship of the Fudan Museum Foundation and the Sino/American Field School of Archaeology, surveys, excavations, and artifact processing and analyses are conducted as a means to explore and build upon Chinese ancient history as well as to teach and compare techniques of archaeological investigation. In previous years, project participants helped to uncover the Treasury of the First Emperor of China, the famous Terracotta Soldiers of Han Emperor Jing Di, and the Mausoleum of Li Shian (grandson of Empress Wu Zetian of Tang), among other important discoveries. The practicum is scheduled to run from July 2 to August 1 this summer, and although it may be too late to apply for this year, future sessions are sure to follow. As China's high rate of construction and resulting salvage archaeology continues to increase, we will see an archaeological gold mine of opportunities.

More Information

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Egyptian Old Kingdom Fortress Discovered

While excavating at an ancient turquoise/copper mine site on the Western coast of the Sinai, a joint team of Egyptian and Canadian archaeologists uncovered the remains of an Egyptian Old Kingdom Fortress. The structural remains rise as much as three to four meters in height. More details and discoveries are sure to follow.

More Information

Read more about the latest discoveries at another ancient Egyptian fortress at Archaeology Magazine's Interactive Digs.

The Great Wall of........Europe

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The amazingly extensive complex of defensive walls, forts, castles and ditches built by the Roman Empire to mark and defend its northern limits across Europe will soon capture the attention of UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, in a bid to be officially crowned World Heritage status, alongside such sites as the Great Wall of China. Researchers from the UK and Germany have united to develop and submit the proposal. They plan to accomplish their goal in two stages -- the first to include Hadrian's Wall in the UK and 300 miles of forts, embankments and ditches in Germany -- and the second to include the entire line of defensive features across Europe to the Black Sea. It's about time, I say.

More Information

Look into these dig opportunities in Roman archaeology:

Roman Fort on Tyne
Roman Fort on the Danube

Monday, March 21, 2005

Dig Spotlight: Excavating Philistine Gath

About halfway between Jerusalem and the ancient site of Ashkelon in Israel, one can see an imposing 100-acre mound. Known as Tell es-Safi (in Hebrew, Tel Tsafit), this site is the location of the famous Old Testament city associated with the infamous Goliath who fought with and very quickly lost to the Biblical hero David who became, as anyone who is familiar with the Old Testament will tell you, King of the United Monarchy of Israel. Although Goliath's time on the biblical scene was short-lived, Gath, the city from which he hailed, was a major Philistine presence for centuries. The results of archaeological investigations there from 1996 to 2004 have uncovered a 9th Century B.C. destruction layer, an Iron Age siege trench, and a rich stratigraphic sequence of features and finds dating from the 26th to the 8th centuries. The site has proven to be a major source of information about a people and a time that have figured prominently in the political and cultural history of the area prior to the Babylonian invasion and captivity.

From July 10 to August 5, 2005, Dr. Aren Maier of Bar Ilan University will be directing a team of archaeologists, students and volunteers in the continuing excavations. Students and volunteers from around the world are invited to join as part of the team. Team members will participate in all aspects of the excavation process, learning techniques of field archaeology, remote sensing applications, and finds processing and analysis. The experience will include lectures and field trips to other archaeologically or historically significant sites. Participants will stay in Kibbutz Kfar Menachem in air-conditioned rooms with access to a pool and dining facilities.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, visit the website for more information.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Prehistoric Indian Site in South Carolina

Greenville County, South Carolina -- Archaeologists have recently uncovered thousands of artifacts representing a prehistoric Indian settlement dated between 500 and 1,500 years ago. Continuing excavations are expected to shed new light on the lives and culture of Native Americans residing in the area long before European contact and colonization.

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Friday, March 18, 2005

New Evidence for African Origin

By analyzing the relationship between the geographic location of current human populations in relation to East Africa and the genetic variability within these populations, researchers have found new evidence for an African origin of modern humans........

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The Tomb of St. Paul?

After more than 5 years of archaeological investigation and research, a Vatican archaeologist claims that he has discovered the tomb of St. Paul, the Apostle. The tomb, he maintains, lies beneath the main altar of a well-known basilica in Rome.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

King Herod's Tomb Discovered

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A team of archaeologists have uncovered a tomb and a rich assortment of what they describe as "kingly" artifacts deep beneath what remains of King Herod's ancient fortress palace of Herodion. The features and artifacts associated with the tomb include a stone-lined tomb, richly decorated sarcophagus, a large gold bier inlaid with gem stones, a well-preserved gold scepter, and a gold crown also bedecked with an assortment of gem stones. The sarcophagus contained no remains, although this is not surprising to some members of the team, who suggest that Herod likely would have arranged to have his skeletal remains eventually interred in an ossuary (stone box), according to the Jewish tradition of the time. This, of course, assumes that the tomb can indeed be identified as that of Herod, himself. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) instruments first offered clues of a cavity and other telltale features months before serious excavations began. The GPR lead soon prompted a "rapid response team" organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority, along with all the trappings of heightened security precautions (to prevent potential looting). If the finding is confirmed, some scholars are suggesting that the discovery would rival the excitement that surrounded the tomb and treasures of Tutankhamen, at least in terms of its popular appeal.

The reader might be a little disappointed to learn that the above report is fictitious. According to the writings of Josephus, King Herod planned to be buried at Herodion, and his funeral ceremony and procession did take place at that location. A series of archaeological investigations and excavations have, however, failed to surface any evidence of his tomb. The mystery awaits the efforts of future investigations of the site. Like the enigma of King Herod's tomb, there are many more secrets awaiting discovery beneath the surface in that part of the world. As of this writing, there are at least 21 planned excavations for the summer of 2005 in Israel and Jordan. Even if you are not a student or a professional archaeologist, you can be a meaningful part of those efforts. As a volunteer, you do not need specialized training as a prerequisite. All you need is a real interest and a willingness to learn and contribute. The professionals will train you and give you an education you cannot get in the classroom. If you are interested, check out the
list of digs at the Biblical Archaeology Society, and the list provided by the Archaeological Institute of America. It could be the start of something that will create a memory for life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Dig Spotlight: Uncovering the Secrets of an Ancient Maya Community

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Along a sloping escarpment adjacent to the Rio Bravo river in Belize, one can see traces of the remains of hundreds of house platforms and dozens of terraces, the architectural remnants of what at one time was a sizable ancient Mayan community that thrived between 250 and 900 A.D. Ongoing archaeological investigations have turned up human burials, exotic items, pottery, and stone tools, as well as an ancient ball court with parallel stone-fronted buildings and what remains of a large dam. This is the site of Chawak But'o'ob, a large and highly developed Classic period Maya settlement of middle and lower class families that lived in what is considered to be the last, most enigmatic period of Classic Maya culture. From June 20 to July 22, 2005, Dr. Stanley Walling of Montclair State University will be leading a team of students and volunteers to survey, excavate, map, record, process finds and explore the surrounding area to uncover more of the secrets of this sophisticated agricultural community. Participants will live in a large and comfortable archaeology camp with the opportunity to travel to nearby archaeological and recreational sites, such as the site of ancient Lamanai with its impressive temple-pyramid (see picture above). The minimum length of stay is 2 weeks and the minimum required age is 18.

Consider this opportunity as a chance to learn, to be a part of cutting-edge research, and to have an adventure in the tropical environment of Belize.

More Information

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dig Spotlight: The Kozarnika Cave

Kozarnika Cave, Bulgaria - Since 1984, archaeologists have been excavating this cave and have discovered numerous artifacts dating from the Early Paleolithic (1.4 million years B.P.) through the Late Paleolithic (11,500 years B.P.), evidencing human presence in Southeastern Europe that arguably include the earliest traces of Homo Erectus ever found on the European sub-continent. Findings include stone tools and bone remains of prehistoric game in the lowest sequences, up to the more finely crafted flint assemblages, bone tools and ornaments of Homo sapiens sapiens (modern man). Although information is tentative at this point, Project Director Nikolay Sirakov of the Archaeological Institute and the Museum of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences plan to lead a team of scholars, students and volunteers to continue the work. The excavation season begins July 5, 2005 and ends August 5, 2005. The field school program includes courses in the documentation of flint and bone artifacts, an introduction to the South East European Paleolithic period, guided visits to museums, caves, and fortresses and eco-trails in both Sofia and the North West region of Bulgaria. The minimum length of stay for volunteers is 2 weeks, with a minimum age requirement of 18. The Project staff prefers that participants have previous experience with prehistoric excavations.

Participants will stay in double rooms at local family homes and meals will include two breakfasts, a lunch and dinner daily. For more information, write
info@balkanarchaeo.net, or visit the website.

Monday, March 14, 2005

New Resource on Archaeological Digs and Research in Israel

The World Atlas of Archaeology on the Web now contains a wealth of information on archaeological digs and research in Israel. This site lists and describes at least 52 major archaeological sites/excavations, the key research institutions conducting investigations, key researchers, cultural information, and other information related to the subject matter. For those of us interested in what is going on in this country, this is a good resource to bookmark.

More Information

New Raptor Dinosaur Discovered

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Scientists at Ohio State University and the Argentine Museum of Natural History have identified a new species of raptor dinosaur from fossils found in Patagonia -- the very southern tip of South America..........its bones provide the first incontrovertible evidence that raptors roamed the prehistoric world beyond the Northern Hemisphere 90 million years ago, said Diego Pol, a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State. Before this, the extent of the dinosaurs range wasn't certain........

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Archaeological Digs: Crow Canyon Programs for Youth

When we think about going on an archaeological dig, most of us perceive it as a largely adult or college student activity. But it may surprise you to know that there are many programs out there that invite youth participation. Indeed, there are programs that are specifically designed for people well below "college age". Perhaps one of the finest examples can be found with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. It offers programs for teenagers (high school students), children, and even a special program for home-schooled students. Using the example of ongoing Anasazi site investigation in the American Southwest, this program gives young people at a very early age a chance to learn what it means to undertake systematic excavation and research.......and have fun at the same time. Moreover, you will see when you visit this site that it caters to ALL ages and experience levels. Check it out!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Archaeological Digs: Toward a Popular Archaeology

In a booming suburban area adjacent to a large city in Washington State, an earthmover wastes no time removing large volumes of soil and stone from a location slated for construction of a new public school. The vehicle operator has no clue that she is also digging into a site which, undisturbed for thousands of years, is the location of a paleo-Indian village.

Deep within a Guatemalan forest a poor modern Mayan villager, looking about himself to ensure that no one is watching, digs feverishly with pick and shovel into an earthen mound that has been shrouded by centuries of jungle growth. He knows that the ancient artifacts he finds, perhaps a beautifully decorated ceramic bowl or a meticulously carved figurine, will command a good price on the antiquities market and fetch him good money for his wife and children.

Within the walls of a well-known and highly respected university, a distinguished scholar puts the finishing touches on a final technical report that details the results of a major archaeological excavation that was in operation for 20 years. The report was written for other professionals and students to read and analyze. The excavation site will soon be re-filled with loose soil and, outside of the scholarly community, few will know what was discovered there and what it means to the local community and the world in general. If the finds were significant enough to capture the popular imagination, some of the discoveries and their implications will be published in popular journals such as Archaeology or National Geographic. Otherwise, the project will go unnoticed by the population.

Near a river in a central African nation lies a mysterious mound that has been the focus of stories and speculation for generations of nearby villagers. For lack of funds, there has never been an organized, scientific investigation to discover the significance of the mound. It will remain a mystery and grist for tales for generations to come.

These stories are fictitious, but they are based on true circumstances and events. They each say something about why archaeology, and more particularly field archaeology, like the subjects of its inquiry, may become a thing of the past. What could be done to arrest this possibility?

We may find that the answer lies more with the general public than with the scholarly or scientific community or the officials of government. We may find that the answer lies in raising the awareness of the public through programs designed to generate the participation and interest of people in the preservation of their heritage. Archaeological digs do not have to be the sole proprietorship of a select group of scholars and students. If they are promoted effectively to the general public with programs designed to include everyone, even whole families and children, they can become a very powerful tool for managing our cultural resources and in turn may generate additional funds and the will and interest to sustain or even expand archaeological inquiry and historical conservation. Some programs and countries have been successful with this approach, turning an academic pursuit out of reach to the general public into a popular pastime or recreational activity that, under proper supervision, becomes a solution rather than a problem. Some examples are the
Crow Canyon archaeological digs programs in Colorado, the Colonial Williamsburg archaeology programs in Virginia, and the massive efforts in Israel which have turned involvement in archaeological digs into a national sport. There are many, including children (and especially children, as they may be more inclined to get dirty with the prospect of finding a very old coin) who may want to experience the opportunity to be part of a dig adventure. Until more of us recognize that archaeology can become a popular pastime, there may never be the public base needed to sustain the resources and the power to support archaeological inquiry and the preservation of the human heritage.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Archaeological Digs: Ramat Rachel, A Kingly Residence

Picture yourself digging among Jerusalem ruins in an area that once played host to the ancient Judahite kings Manasseh, Josiah, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah. Picture your eyes surveying a landscape that saw occupation by its 6th Century B.C. Baylonian conquerors, as well as the architectural and artifact remains reflecting the Persian, Hasmonean, Herodian, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic periods. Traces and elements of the ancient citadel and palace of the Judahite kings have already been found, but there is much more to be done. After a hard day of digging, a four-star hotel and swimming pool await you, and you have the opportunity to visit and learn about other related archaeological and historic sites in the vicinity..........

After a 40-year hiatus, a renewed series of excavations and investigations will begin this summer under the direction of Dr. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University and Professor Manfred Oeming of Heidelberg University, Germany. Dig activities will begin July 29 and end on August 25, 2007. They are calling for volunteer participation, and whether you are a student, a retired person, an educator, or simply a person with an abiding interest in archaeological investigation and discovery, this promises to be an exciting and educational experience.

For more information, send an e-mail inquiry to
orental@post.tau.ac.il, or visit the website.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Archaeological Digs of Colonial Virginia

Virginia, perhaps more than any other state in the United States, is rich in history. For the colonial period of American history, there is arguably no equal match. If you are interested in historical archaeology or exploring colonial history, here are some archaeological digs, most if not all of which are currently accepting applications:

Shirley Plantation (17th Century settlement)
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Archaeology in Alexandria
Historic Mount Vernon (George Washington's Home)
Jamestown Rediscovery
Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest
George Washington's Ferry Farm
George Mason's Gunston Hall
9. Archaeological Fieldschool (Colonial Williamsburg)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Archaeological Digs and Human Origins Research

Are you interested in reading about or participating in archaeological digs related to human origins research? Here are a few archaeological digs and research projects for your consideration:

1. Paleoanthropology Field School in South Africa
2. Early Man at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
3. Early Man in the Limpopo River Valley, South Africa
4. Middle Stone Age Man at Olorgesailie, Kenya
5. Middle Stone Age Man in the Serengeti, Tanzania
6. Early Man in Spain

New Discoveries in Copan

Approximately 200 miles west of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, lie the remains of a large ancient Mayan city that, to this day, along with such sites as Tikal and Palenque, represents the highest achievement of Mayan art and architecture during the Classical period. Known as Copan, it continues to be a focus of archaeological investigation, and photographs of its art and monumental architecture adorn the covers and pages of many publications about the ancient Maya world. Recently, scientists working there have discovered the 1,450 year old remains of 69 individuals and 30 buildings dated to the 6th century. Offerings and other artifacts were found associated with the remains. This discovery expands the site and scientists and other officials hope to open the newly explored area to tourists in 2007.

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Future of Archaeology and Archaeological Digs

The latest issue of Discover magazine, now at newsstands, contains an article that includes specially written statements from noted scholars about what they perceive to be the most significant archaeological discoveries of the past 25 years and what they predict will be the future direction of archaeology and the methodologies and technologies appied to archaeological digs, based on recent promising developments.

Our First Walking Ancestor Discovered?

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) - A team of U.S. and Ethiopian scientists has discovered the fossilized remains of what they believe is humankind's first walking ancestor, a hominid that lived in the wooded grasslands of the Horn of Africa nearly 4 million years ago.
The bones were discovered in February at a new site called Mille, in the northeastern Afar region of Ethiopia, said Bruce Latimer, director of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio. They are estimated to be 3.8-4 million years old.
The fossils include a complete tibia from the lower part of the leg, parts of a thighbone, ribs, vertebrae, a collarbone, pelvis and a complete shoulder blade, or scapula. There also is an ankle bone which, with the tibia, proves the creature walked upright, said Latimer, co-leader of the team that discovered the fossils.
The bones are the latest in a growing collection of early human fragments that help explain the evolutionary history of man.......

From AP News, Anthony Mitchell, Associated Press Writer, March 5, 2005

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Akrotiri: Pompeii of the Aegean

The island of Santorini in the Mediterranean sounds for the most part like an enticing summer vacation spot. Actually, it is this, and much more. In addition to the attractive Mediterranean clime, the island harbors an incredible archaeological site for those doing the archaeological tour circuit as well as for those conducting serious archaeological research. Known anciently as the island of Thera, it was the location of a settlement that represented one of the most advanced Late Bronze Age settlements in the world. With an elaborate drainage system, sophisticated multi-story dwellings, beautiful wall paintings, furniture and other vessels that marked the trappings of a highly developed civilization, the ancient city of Akrotiri on the island of Thera has been referred to by some as the historical basis for the mythical civilization of Atlantis. It was the series of earthquakes and massive 17th century B.C. volcanic eruption of Thera that scholars say resulted in the city's abandonment and, some suggest, even the demise of the great Minoan civilization itself. Ironically, like ancient Pompeii, the volcanic debris and ash that smothered Akrotiri also ensured a remarkable state of preservation for present-day archaeologists and other researchers to explore and study.

From May 23 to June 11, 2005, Professor Christos Doumas of the University of Athens will be conducting a course designed to instruct interested students on the theory and practice of managing archaeological resources, using the remains of Akrotiri as the focus. Although the work will not involve actual excavation, it nevertheless promises to be a "hands-on" learning experience, as indicated by the following itinerary (from the Website):

Archaeological management and site protection
Lectures on archaeology, history, geology, environment and the traditional life of Thera
Detailed on-site lectures at the monuments of the archaeological site of Akrotiri on town planning, architecture and iconography
Special sessions on pottery and wall paintings
Daily teaching and practice in the laboratories of pottery, wall paintings and organic materials
Conferences with slide shows
Visit and on-site lecture at Ancient Thera
Outdoor activities and lectures at nearby archaeological sites
Museum lectures (museus of Prehistoric Thera and storerooms, Museum of Classical Thera)

The program concludes with a two-day stay on the island of Naxos where the students have the opportunity to visit archaeological sites and museums in which modern methods of management, presentation and exhibition of archaeological evidence have been applied. The on-site visits at Naxos include the following:

The archaic temples: at the town of Naxos (Portara), the temple of Dionysos at Yria and the temple of Demeter at Sangri
The unfinished archaic kouros at Melanes
The site-museum at Metropolis Square
The archaeological museums at the town of Naxos and at the village Apeiranthos
The Byzantine collection housed in the Glezos tower
A tour of the medieval center of the city of Naxos
On the day of return to Athens the program includes a short visit to the island of Paros where the students will have the opportunity to visit
the archaeological museum of Paros.
The ancient cemetery of Paros
The famous early Christian church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani

Classes take place at the site of Akrotiri and on the islands Naxos and Paros.

More Information

Friday, March 04, 2005

A New Human Species?

Add "Homo floresiensis" to the list of human species in the ever-widening bush of human evolution. That is the taxonomic name now being suggested by scientists for the famous "hobbit" fossils unearthed last fall in Indonesia. Scientists are now saying that the specimen is indeed a separate human ancestral species, and not a pygmy or individual who suffered from a brain growth disorder. Based on extensive analysis of the skull remains by a team of scientists, new data now supports the theory that the individual (determined to be a female adult about 3 feet tall with a brain case roughly one-third the size of that of modern humans) represents a heretofore unknown human species that may have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago. That places this species rather late on the time scale of human evolution.

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Restoring Shops of Ancient Smyrna

The ancient Agora of Smyrna on the northern slopes of Mt. Pagos in present day Turkey was, at least for its time, the largest agora in the world. The agora was in operation since the founding of Smyrna by Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. New excavations at the ancient site will be conducted under the auspices of the Izmir Archaeology Museum, which include plans to restore four of the ancient stores known to exist within the agora complex and operate them as they functioned during their heyday. Another reason to visit Turkey some day.

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Archaeological Digs: About.com

Another outstanding resource on archaeological digs and dig opportunities can be found at About.com's site, Current Archaeological Investigations. I rank this among the most comprehensive resources on the Web.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Archaeological Digs: The City of Mahabalipuram

Under the reign of Narasimha Varman in 630 A.D., seventh century India saw the rise of one of its most spectacular seaport cities. Popularly identified as the mythical city of Mahabalipuram, this site on the coast of South India rose to prominence as a great artistic center, with beautiful cave temples and gigantic open air reliefs carved from blocks of granite. Its remains are now recognized as representative of some of India's greatest architectural and sculptural achievements. For the past three years, archaeologists have been working at the site where a diving expedition revealed evidence of what is thought to be a submerged ancient city, with at least one temple.

Now, more evidence has been uncovered in the wake of the recent deluge and destruction caused by the December Tsunami. The initial finds include some stone structures and a large granite lion sculpture, which were revealed when sand washed away under the Tsunami torrent. Investigations are continuing and new finds are forthcoming over the years ahead.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bethsaida, Israel: A Special Dig Session Opportunity

Looking for an exciting dig and tour combination opportunity? Here's one that is difficult to beat: Applications are now being accepted for a special excavation session at the ancient site of Bethsaida in Israel. Participants will depart on May 28th and return June 12th. In addition to regular duties at the dig site (see the previous post about Bethsaida and the website), this special session will include extensive sightseeing on the weekends (from Tell Dan and Ceasarea Philippi in the north, to Masada and Qumran in the south), finishing up with a two-night stay in the Old City of Jerusalem. Persons interested in this special dig and tour opportunity may contact Dr. Nicolae Roddy at nroddy@creighton.edu .

Prehistoric Village Unearthed in China

Archaeologists in China have uncovered the ruins of a prehistoric village dating back about 7,000 to 8,000 years. The ruins consisted of 10 well-preserved semi-subterranean houses. Other excavated finds included natural stone blocks, stone used as building materials, various stone ware, broken pottery, and walnuts. Approximately 1,200 square meters of the site were excavated. Archaeologists say that the discovery will shed light on the cultural relations between north and central China in ancient times.

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