Archaeology is by far one of the most interesting fields of science. It deals with the past civilizations which hold a tremendous attraction for us. It has been likened to historical detective work where one can piece together past lives and events using only the remains that can be dug up from the ground. It is not surprising therefore that it has even attracted the interest of even ordinary people and not just the scientists. They have turned to it as the most fulfilling sort of hobby that one can engage in.
The irony though is that some of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time were not uncovered on purpose. Of course there were expeditions that set out to uncover the secrets of ancient civilizations, but sometimes the discoveries were made by accident. There are numerous cases when ancient artefacts and monuments were uncovered by construction workers digging in order to build something new. What they uncover instead is a link to the past.
It is easy to understand why construction work could uncover so many archaeological find; the workers would have to dig in order to lay the foundations of a new structure. They would come across some objects and stones that would have been part of an ancient complex.
There is a problem with such discoveries though. Since the workers are not counting on finding anything, they might be careless in the way that they dig and that could damage artefacts. Who knows how many archaeological treasures have been damaged this way? Another concern is that since they are not trained in the right way for digging artefacts then it could result in damage that could be irreparable. Then there is also the problem of looting, especially when the workers know that artefacts could be valuable.
As we have mentioned there are so many sites that have been uncovered by construction projects. One of the most recent examples is the site of an ancient Hindu temple that was uncovered in the island of Bali in Indonesia. It is said that the temple could go back to the 13th or 15th Century.
One of the most famous archaeological discoveries to have been unearthed by accident is the ancient Terracotta Army in China. It was unearthed by farmers who were trying to construct a well on the site. Aside from the army of figures, an entire necropolis was also uncovered on the site.
Posted on 11 November '12 by Nubia, under Ancient Nubia. No Comments.
Archaeology had its heyday in the late 19th and the early 20th Century. The field was not even well defined or established back then. That was the period when many amazing places in different parts of the world were being discovered and investigated. Part of the popularity of the field was the hint of adventure and exploration that it gives to those who wanted to try it out.
The places of discovery were usually in exotic locations in distant parts of the world. Getting there is not the easiest thing. The work of exploration itself was also a gruelling task that could pose a major problem to even the most able bodied person. There was also the lure of mystery and knowledge that would have been difficult for anyone to resist.
It is not surprising therefore that archaeological discoveries back then, were greeted with a lot more fanfare than today. People were drawn to it. Here are some of the more important archaeological discoveries of that period:
Troy- The location of the ancient city of Troy, which was recorded in the ancient Greek epic, has been lost to modern man until the adventurer and archaeological pioneer Heinrich Schliemann set out to find it. He made some mistakes along the way but his main discovery was correct.
Angkor Wat- This ancient temple city of the Khmer empire is one of the largest religious complexes in the world. It is now one of Cambodia’s jewels.
Tutankhamen’s Tomb- The tale of the discovery of this pharaoh’s tomb could have been a plot for an Indiana Jones’ movie. The discovery also fuelled a craze for things connected with Egypt at that time which made its influence felt on most of the Western world.
These are just some of the amazing archaeological discoveries that made the whole world a captive audience. The problem is that now, some people feel that there are no longer discoveries as interesting as those to be made. These people believe that the archaeologists who look for relics from the past have become obsolete themselves, is it time to call the removalists on archaeologists?
That kind of thinking couldn’t be more wrong though. Archaeology is here to stay and it will never become completely obsolete. Sure, there would be few discoveries as astonishing as Tutankhamen’s Tomb, but there are other equally interesting finds out there waiting for the right person to uncover them.
If you feel that this is your field then go ahead and try it out.
Posted on 21 October '12 by Nubia, under Ancient Nubia. No Comments.
Archaeology has been romanticized in the movies, but even though it is a field that offers a lot less adrenaline rush in real life, it still attracts a lot of brilliant minds. They get a different kind of rush from the archaeological work that they do especially when on the field. If you are interested in this field then you might want to know some of the more famous names connected with it. Here are some of the more famous archaeologists of the 20th Century:
Leakey Family- This is a family of scientists now based in Kenya. Their field of expertise not only extends to archaeology but to anthropology as well. They have made tremendous contributions to science especially in the study of early man. They also play an active part when it comes to Kenyan politics.
Howard Carter- He is responsible for what is rightfully considered to be one of the most spectacular achievements in the history of the field, the discovery of the grave of the Egyptian king Tutankhamun. This discovery caught the imagination of the world and started a craze for ancient Egypt in the United States and Europe. He had to overcome great odds in order to reach this achievement.
Mortimer Wheeler- He developed a system for excavating sites that is still being used today. It was his idea to divide the site into grids so that artefacts could be monitored and marked more easily. It also made the division of work a lot easier. He was responsible for a string of notable discoveries in the Indian subcontinent. He was also probably the most famous archaeologist of his time because he hosted several shows that popularized the field.
Shinichi Fujimura- He is one of the leading names when it comes to archaeology in Japan and what is remarkable is that he is largely a self-thought expert. His interest in only started out as a hobby, but as he started working on some sites he was able to uncover some astonishing finds that were missed by professional archaeologists. He is credited with finding the oldest piece of stoneware to have been discovered in Japan
William Albright- Albright is a pioneer archaeologist and also the founder of the field known as Biblical Archaeology. He is also a first class linguist and Bible scholar. For a time he was considered to be the leading authority in America when it comes to Oriental studies.
These are just some of the more famous names when it comes to archaeology in the 20th Century.
Posted on 1 October '12 by Nubia, under Archaeology. No Comments.
Human civilization has been around for quite some time. Our ancestors have been through a lot. There have been famines, plagues, wars and revolutions. Cities and even whole civilizations have risen and some have crumbled and has left only a trace of their mark. In some cases the world has completely forgotten about these ancient people until recently, when we started uncovering the marks that they have left thanks to archaeology.
There have been some remarkable discoveries in the field of archaeology and here are just some of the most well-known:
Pompeii- Pompeii along with another Roman city, Herculaneum was buried under ash and lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. The site of the former city could be found near modern day Naples. The city was completely forgotten for almost two thousand years and it was only rediscovered in 1748. The city has allowed modern day people to have a look at the way that people lived in Roman times. It is also a grim reminder of the power of volcano with the figures of people who died in the eruption that were made in plaster casts, capturing their last moments.
Mohenjo Daro- The Indian subcontinent has been long known as the seat of ancient culture. That was proven when the city of Mohenjo-Daro was uncovered. This site can found in Pakistan and is in the middle of a flood plain. Back in ancient times however, the site was high above the flooding. Eventually the site was abandoned by the ancient people of the area and was forgotten. The place is remarkable because of the high degree of urban planning that was achieved in the construction of the city.
Angkor Wat- This is the largest Hindu temple and one of the largest religious structures in the whole world. The complex can be found in Cambodia and in fact, it adorns their flag. It was built by an emperor of the Khmer empire that ruled the area around 12th century. The site is a self-contained city protected by a moat.
Troy- Troy was the city that vanquished by the Greeks in the Iliad and it figures heavily in the classical mind. The problem is that its true site has been unknown which has led some thinkers to suppose that it was just a product of imagination of ancient writers. That was proven wrong by Heinrich Schliemann, he was the one who led the archaeological digs on the hill known as Hisarlik which finally uncovered the ancient city.
Posted on 23 August '12 by Nubia, under Archaeology. No Comments.
Since an archaeological dig is usually conducted in remote locations, the question of logistics can present a huge problem to the research team conducting it. This problem would even be more acute if the team were to live on the site and get all of their supplies from what they could bring. There would be the problem of essentials such a water, food and fuel.
Then there is also the problem of the supplies needed for the actual excavation work. These are tools needed for actually digging on a site, studying the artefacts and then preserving or storing the finds for shipping or exhibition.
Scaffolds and Tools- One of the most basic need for an archaeological site are scaffolds, especially if the site would have to go down for several meters. The scaffold would be needed by the research team in order to access the lower levels safely. It would also allow them to look at the different layers of the ground and study it. Transporting of scaffolds can be a problem since they are made of metal and are quite heavy. They would take up a great deal of space when being transported.
Here are some of the other tools needed by archaeologists to conduct their dig:
Surveying Transit- You might have seen surveyors using this tool. It looks like a camera on tripod and it is used for measuring distance of areas and the elevation. Archaeologists use it to measure the area of the site and how high it is.
Strings and Stakes- Researchers divide a site in squares so that they could work on it more easily and so that they could identify where an artefact was located. In order to do that they drive stakes on the ground and place strings on it to mark off the area.
Shovels- There are two types of shovels used in an archaeological dig. The first one is the round edged shovel and it is used for removing the surface dirt and soil. Once that has been removed a flat edged shovel is used in order to be more careful.
Trowel- As the diggers get down to the level where artefacts might be found they start to use smaller tools such as trowels and pickaxes. That is needed in order to make sure that they accidentally damage anything valuable underground.
Brushes- Once an artefact has been unearthed; brushes are used in order to remove the dirt and the soil from the ground.
There are other tools that are used by archaeologists but these are the most basic.
Posted on 23 July '12 by Nubia, under Archaeology. No Comments.
Archaeological digs are funded and carried out by different institutions. Mostly, these are schools, some are scientific societies, there are government agencies taxed with researching the field and sometimes there are individuals who have enough fund to carry out their own digs. Sometimes it would last for several months and even years, but there have been times when it was limited to a few days mostly because of some factor surrounding the area.
Recent Archaeological Digs- There is little doubt as to how exciting archaeology can be. It’s all about finding traces of ancient civilizations and how people lived. Life on the dig might not be so glamorous , as how it is portrayed in the movies. Archaeologists are not fighting villains and they are more likely to handle a trowel and brush than a whip like Indiana Jones. Despite that fact, archaeology is exciting just as we have mentioned but it can bring a different thrill.
That is exactly the kind of rush that researchers felt in the resort island of Bali in Indonesia just recently. Researchers found an ancient Hindu temple there that goes back to several centuries. The local researchers said that the initial dig uncovered a very large stone that was buried three feet underground. They recognized that the stone was the kind used for building large structures so they continued their excavation.
Further digging into the same area revealed a structure that is 57 meters long which is believed to be the foundation of an ancient Hindu temple. The pieces of artefacts and structure are still in the process of being analysed but experts are confident that it belongs to the period from 13th to 15th Century. This finding is very promising because its size indicates that it could probably the biggest Hindu temple to be uncovered yet in the vast Indonesian archipelago. The islands making up Indonesia today were heavily influenced by Hinduism from the Indian subcontinent.
That’s another discovery in Asia which is revealing some of the major archaeological finds in recent years. Not long ago it was discovered in India that another Hindu temple there contained a treasury that holds a wealth that was bigger than the reserves of most countries.
There would be very few archaeological discoveries that would be as massive as that to surprise the world, but you can bet that there are still plenty of sites around the globe that could be very interesting and could attract our curiosities just as well.
Posted on 23 June '12 by Nubia, under Ancient Nubia. No Comments.
A dig or an excavation is one of the most used methods of obtaining information for archaeologists. Since their field is the study of ancient civilizations. Archaeologists spend as much time in the outdoors as they do inside their museums studying their finds. Before they could get those specimens that they have to pore over, they would have to get them first from the ground, and usually they have to dig it out. Because of that, they face unique problems especially when it comes to logistics that other scientists would not have to worry about.
While other scientists are able to conduct their study in the comfort of their laboratory or offices, an archaeologist must go out first and seek what he could study first and retrieve it. They would have to setup archaeological digs on sites of past settlements, cities, burial grounds and virtually anything that might contain artefacts. Normally these sites would be located on places that are remote and far from cities and places of present human habitation. That would mean that it is far from areas where the scientists and their team could get their supplies. That is not always the case but more usually it is so the leader of an archaeological expedition, aside from worrying about the techniques of digging and the scientific side of things, would also have to spend a great deal of time in thinking about how to get supplies to the site.
Lighting- One of the most serious concerns on a remote archaeological site is the problem of lighting. These places would be located in areas that might have no electrical supply and so setting up lights would be a problem and electrical contractors would be required to get it set up. The lighting would be crucial in sites that need to be worked on continuously, or on a 24 hour basis, or even after the dark has settled in. This is the case in sites where the digging has to be finished as soon as possible.
The team would have to setup electrical generators then and the more remote an area is, the problem it would be. The generators would be reliant on fuel which would also have to be brought over to the site. Not only is the lighting essential so that the digging could continue even after dark, but it would also be needed in order to secure the area against thieves or those who might go after the artefacts.
Posted on 14 June '12 by Nubia, under Archaeology. No Comments.