Saturday, November 08, 2014

Archaeology Around the World

1. ATHENS (AFP).- An imposing mosaic of a man driving a chariot has been uncovered in the largest antique tomb ever found in Greece, in Amphipolis in northern Macedonia, the culture ministry said Sunday.
Tiny pieces of white, black, blue, red, yellow and grey create a picture of a chariot drawn by two white horses, driven by a bearded man wearing a crown of laurel leaves. Hermes, the messenger of the gods in ancient Greece, stands in front of the chariot.  "This mosaic, the largest on the site, measures 4.5 metres by three metres (14.8 by 9.8 feet) and is not completely uncovered," a statement said. The mosaic dates from the fourth century BC.  Archaeologists unearthed the enormous tomb dating to the time of Alexander the Great of Macedonia in early August.
There is widespread speculation over who was buried at the site: from Roxana, Alexandra's Persian wife, to Olympias, the king's mother, to one of his generals.

2. LINARES (AFP).- Archaeologists say they have found one of the earliest pictures ever of Jesus Christ, sporting an unusual clean-shaven, short-haired look, on an old glass plate unearthed in southern Spain.
The team found numerous fragments of glass during a three-year dig in the ruined ancient city of Castulo and in July dug up some bigger bits with designs that caught their eye. When pieced together, the shards formed a plate dating to the fourth century AD, with an engraving of Christ in a Roman-style toga, neatly groomed. The researchers identified it as a paten, a plate for holding the bread for communion. They pieced together more than 80 percent of the plate, which measured 22 centimetres (about eight and a half inches) in
diameter. It went on display this month in a museum in the southeastern Spanish town of Linares. The leader of the dig, Marcelo Castro, hailed the finding as "an exceptional archaeological document". Three haloed figures are engraved on it, with Christ himself in the middle, holding a cross and a Bible, flanked by two men thought to be the apostles Peter and Paul. Experts say Christ's lack of beard and short curly hair in the engraving are very rare traits in historic depictions of him. Castro said it was a relic of a key early period in church history, just after the Roman Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity.
Previously Christians had worshipped in secret and produced few sacred images for fear of persecution under the Romans... More..

3. MEXICO CITY (AFP).- Mexico's largest exhibit of Mesoamerican manuscripts features a codex made of fig tree bark suggesting that Aztec emperor Moctezuma was slain by a Spanish conquistador with a sword.
The piece is among 44 codices made by several pre-Columbian populations -- including the Mayas, Purepechas and Zapotecos -- on display at the National Museum of Anthropology.
Some of the pieces in the temporary exhibit, titled "Codices of Mexico: Memories and Wisdom," are as large as 10 square meters (108 square feet). One cost the government $1 million to buy from the Bible Society in Britain. "It's the biggest codex exhibit (in Mexico)," curator Baltazar Brito, director of the National
Anthropology and History Library, told AFP.
The codices were written by tlacuilos, which in Mayan means a person who carves stones.
The ancient manuscripts present a vision of history from the point of view of "the people who were subdued after the conquest," Brito said. "They are a very important demonstration of the knowledge acquired by Mesoamerican peoples throughout their history."
The collection's centerpiece is the Chimalpahin codex, which the government bought in May from the Bible Society to stop it from being auctioned off. The manuscript was made by indigenous historians Domingo Chimalpahin (1579-1660) and Alva Ixtlilxochitl (1578-1650).
The piece recounts the daily life of Mexican society in the country's central regions as well as during colonial times under New Spain. Moctezuma's death Another jewel in the museum's treasure trove is the Moctezuma codex, a two-meter (two-yard) long and 25-centimeter (10-inch) wide piece made with the bark of a fig tree. Ancient chronicles say Moctezuma was stoned to death in 1520 by his own people, who considered him a traitor for surrendering to the Spaniards.
But the small drawings in the Moctezuma codex tell a different story of the final days of one of the last Aztec emperors. "This codex shows us how he was captured by a Spaniard and then he is seen dead, bloodied with a sword," Brito said. "This is another version of history that has a lot of value because the codices were considered works done by the people, for the people."
There are some 650 Mexican codices in museums around the world, and a third belong to Mexico's Museum of Anthropology.
The current exhibit, which runs through January, includes manuscripts describing plants and recipes that the Spanish crown forced the indigenous populations to elaborate after learning about their medicinal value.
The indigenous populations also used these manuscripts to appeal for their rights before the crown.
One codex was drawn on a nopal cactus to depict the family tree of the elite who lived in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, where Mexico City lies today.
"The messages of the codices have yet to be completely deciphered," Brito said.

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