Archive for August 13th, 2006

Spy Pics Reveal Ancient Settlements

Science, Sophistication of Ancestors, Uncategorized | Posted by Chris Parker
Aug 13 2006


August 03, 2006 06:51pm

Article from: AAP

Photo: This 1969 CORONA image shows the Euphrates River running north (top) to south. The large plateau adjacent to the river on the left is Jebel Khalid, where a team from the Australian National University has been excavating for several years. Several structures and grid patterns are clearly visible. These were known prior to the use of the CORONA image, and relate to the period when the site was used as a fortress by Hellenistic colonists. Credit: CORONA, ANU, David Menere


AUSTRALIAN researchers studying declassified spy satellite images have found widespread remains of ancient human settlements dating back 130,000 years in Syria.

The photographs were taken by United States military surveillance satellites operating under the CIA and defence-led Corona program in the late 1960s.The team of researchers travelled to the Euphrates River Valley in April and June and searched sites they had painstakingly identified using the images, which were only declassified in the late 1990s.

Group leader Mandy Mottram, a PhD student at the Australian National University’s School of Archaeology and Anthropology, said the evidence of human life found in the area included a hilltop Byzantine basilica, a 24 hectare fortified town dating to the Early Bronze Age, Early Islamic pottery factories and a hilltop complex of megalithic tombs.

Ms Mottram said the researchers’ trained eyes could spot small changes in the landscape, such as a different soil colour, that could indicate a former human settlement. The images are particularly valuable because they show the landscape prior to its present rapid agricultural development. “It’s the guide for us to go out and have a look in that specific area,” she said. “It’s been actually really brilliantly helpful for us. We’ve had a really, really high strike rate, I would say about 95 per cent.”

Some of the artefacts found could dramatically change the way historians think of the area’s early inhabitants, Ms Mottram said.

For example, contrary to a common belief that rural civilisations were experiencing economic and social decline from the mid-6th century, the team found evidence of widespread prosperity including many settlements and large quantities of pottery. The researchers hope to establish the first complete record of human occupation in the area, beginning with the arrival from Africa of early human groups up to one million years ago.

They have already found tools from the Middle Palaeolithic period that are between 130,000 and 40,000 years old, and could have been made by either Neanderthals or early modern humans, as well as a few Acheulian tools that could date back several hundred thousand years. Ms Mottram said the group was still analysing images of the items and structures they found and hoped to return to Syria next April if they secured funding.


2,400-Year-Old Salt Filter Unearthed in Hebei

Science, Sophistication of Ancestors, Uncategorized | Posted by Chris Parker
Aug 13 2006 2006-05-11 17:26:46

SHIJIAZHUANG, May 11 (Xinhua)—Archaeologists have discovered a 2,400-year-old filter that was used to extract salt from seawater in North China.

Ancient Chinese in coastal areas used to extract salt from seawater, by using a filter that would be placed under a caldron containing seawater blended with plant ash, said Wang Lingfeng, director of the office for protection of cultural relics in Haixing County, Cangzhou City of Hebei Province.

The filter is believed to be from the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC) and was in good condition when it was found in Haixing County, Wang said. The helmet-shaped filter is 22 cm tall with the inside diameter of 13.7 cm and the outside diameter of 19.5 cm. Winding gullies were found inside the filter.

Along with the filter, a drain, fragments of pottery, metal ware, plant ash and a brine well were unearthed.

Cangzhou was an important base for salt production during various dynasties, Wang added.

The filter is the only intact one ever found in Hebei Province and it proves Cangzhou was historically a salt production base, Meng Jianhua, a cultural official in Haixing County said.


Buried City Shakes Up Archeological Thinking
Ancient Dagger Found

Science, Sophistication of Ancestors, Uncategorized | Posted by Chris Parker
Aug 13 2006



Tribune Staff Writer
May 23, 2000 By Nick Thorpe
BBC News

An ancient city in Syria discovered by scientists from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute shows evidence that the age of cities and civilization dawned even earlier than previously believed.

Digging into a huge mound known as Tell Hamoukar, past villages and towns that disappeared thousands of years ago, a joint Chicago/Syrian team was astonished to discover something even older underneath: a protective city wall and other evidence of a complex government dating back at least 6,000 years.

Story 2: Ancient Dagger Found in Bulgaria

The dagger, made of an alloy of gold and platinum, was found near the village of Dubovo. Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of Bulgaria’s National Museum, told Reuters news agency the discovery was “sensational”.

It is the latest in a string of finds in the area in recent years which has excited archaeologists and has provided more details of the skills of the still mysterious Thracian civilisation.

According to officials at the museum, the dagger is 16cm (6in) long and is sharp enough to shave with.

Click Here to Read Articles