The 1st century Temple of Bel at Palmyra before its destruction by Daesh
Image credit Bernard Gagnon. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
The United Nations says a satellite image has confirmed that the Temple of Bel, the main temple in the ancient city of Palmyra in northern Syria, has been destroyed by Daesh.
 
More here.
   
 
 
Late ninth or early tenth century fragment of an Anglo-Saxon knot-work cross. The cross is embedded in the east-facing wall of St Gregory’s Minster, Kirkdale, North Yorkshire
Image credit Moss.
 
More on Kirkdale here.
 
 
 
The British Museum has just announced plans for a new exhibition entitled Egypt: Faith after the pharaohs.
 
The exhibition begins in 30 BC, when Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire after the death of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and continues until AD 1171 when the rule of the Islamic Fatimid dynasty came to an end. The remarkable objects in the exhibition have been uniquely preserved in Egypt’s arid climate, and many have never been on display before. Their survival provides unparalleled access to the lives of individuals and communities, and they tell a rich and complex story of influences, long periods of peaceful coexistence, and intermittent tension and violence between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
 
The changes in people’s private lives are shown through everyday objects – delicate fragments of papyrus preserve some of the earliest surviving Jewish scriptures and lost Christian gospels. Colourful garments and accessories show what people wore, and soft-furnishings show how they dressed their homes.
 
Together, the objects in the exhibition show how the shift from the traditional worship of many gods to monotheism – the belief in one God – affected every part of life. Egypt’s journey from Roman to Islamic control reflects the wider transformation from the ancient to medieval world, a transition that has shaped the world we live in today.
 
The exhibition runs from 29 October 2015 – 7 February 2016. More here.
 
 
 
The Temple of Baal-Shamin in Palmyra, Syria
Image credit Bernard Gagnon. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
The ancient temple of Baal Shamin in the Unesco-listed Syrian city of Palmyra, has been destroyed. Maamoun Abdulkarim, the country’s antiquities chief, has said that the, “Daesh placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baal Shamin … and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple.”
 
More here.
 
 
 
Archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, 82, was interrogated by so-called ‘Islamic State’ thugs for a month before he was beheaded yesterday in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra
He’s shown here, in 2002, in front of a rare first century sarcophagus from Palmyra depicting two priests
Image credit Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
 
Kareem Shaheen in Beirut and Ian Black in London Report for The Guardian
 
The brutal murder of Khaled al-Asaad, 82, is the latest atrocity perpetrated by the jihadi group, which has captured a third of Syria and neighbouring Iraq and declared a “caliphate” on the territory it controls. It has also highlighted Isis’s habit of looting and selling antiquities to fund its activities – as well as destroying them.
 
More here. See also our earlier feature on Palmyra here.
 
 
Entrance to the Amphipolis Tomb near Amphipolis, Central Macedonia, Northern Greece
The Tomb was discovered in 2012 and first entered in August 2014
 
Philip Chrysopoulos, writing for the Greek Reporter, states that due to a lack of funding  and interest –
 
The first year anniversary of the Amphipolis tomb discovery finds the archaeological site in danger of being buried again in dirt, and oblivion.
 
It was a year ago when the discovery of the ancient tomb was heralded as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in history, as it was initially thought to be the burial ground of Alexander the Great. The findings were unveiled on a daily basis and the world was watching the search unfolding with bated breath. But the grave did not belong to Alexander the Great. Later, some archaeologists claimed it could be the tomb of Alexander’s mother, Olympias. That could not be confirmed though.
 
The interest faded as the Culture Ministry said it would take three months to find out the identity of the skeletons discovered inside the grave. Further excavations stopped and the site was almost abandoned. Since the January elections very little has been done to protect the monument from natural elements.
 
Read more here.
 

Changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act saw protesters at the Australian State Parliament last year
Image credit and © ABC News: Katrin Long

Laura Gartry, writing for ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), reports that –

A proposed new West Australian heritage bill highlights a “disturbing racial differentiation” between the level of protection offered between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal sites, archaeologists say. It comes after the State Government released for public comment the draft Heritage Bill 2015, aimed at modernising heritage regulation.

The draft bill oversees the protection of all WA heritage sites except Aboriginal sites of significance, which come under the Aboriginal Heritage Act (AHA), itself also the subject of proposed changes by the Government. The draft Heritage Bill 2015 has been welcomed by the Australian Archaeological Association (AAA), the peak national body for the profession. But spokesman Professor Ben Smith from the University of Western Australia said the discrepancies and contradictions between the two proposed sets of changes were “untenable”.

“There is a perhaps unintentional but nonetheless very disturbing racial differentiation between the two types of heritage,” Professor Smith said. He noted how in the new Heritage Bill, the decision to add or remove a site will remain with the minister for heritage, while in revisions to the Aboriginal Heritage Act the decision will be left with a senior public servant.

“So here we have a very interesting contradiction where a site of state significance is Aboriginal, it will be a civil servant that decides whether it goes on [or off] the register. If the site is non-Aboriginal — that is settler, colonial — it is the minister that decides … the minister is the highest authority possible,” Professor Smith said.

“We have watering down of the Aboriginal Heritage Act whereas we have continued strength of non-Aboriginal preservation.”

“We seem to want to protect white fella heritage, better than we want to protect black fella heritage” adds AACAI WA Chairperson Phil Czerwinski.

Full article here. See also our earlier features on Australian heritage issues by keying in Australia in the search box above.

 
The vandalised Rune Stone at Orkney’s Neolithic Ring of Brodgar
 
BBC News NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland, reports on the recently vandalised Rune Stone at Orkney’s Neolithic Ring of Brodgar –
 
A tour guide discovered the initials ‘AA 2015’ scratched into one of the stones while visiting the site. Police Scotland and Historic Scotland have both been informed of the vandalism. It is believed it took place sometime between Monday and Thursday [last week].
 
The Ring of Brodgar – the third largest stone circle in the British Isles – is regarded as one of Western Europe’s most impressive prehistoric sites.
 
More on the vandalism here.
 
 
 
The Staffordshire Hoard
©
Birmingham Museums Trust
 
The Art Fund has announced that –
 
Although all Treasure Plus funding has now been awarded, we’re running a conference in October 2015 to support curators working with archaeological collections. The aims of this fully funded conference are to share best practice, discuss solutions for common challenges with other curators and sector experts, and to network with colleagues. Specialist and non-specialist curators and other museum professionals working with archaeology collections are all welcome.
 
Details:
 
Tuesday, 13 October 10am to 4pm (with a drinks reception and extended access to the Staffordshire Hoard Gallery until 6pm. Thinktank, Birmingham. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Places are fully funded, and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, with priority given to curators working in UK public collections.
 
The conference will be held at Thinktank, but Birmingham Museums Trust has kindly offered to extend the opening hours for the Staffordshire Hoard Galleries for conference attendees. In addition, a limited number of participants will be able to take part in a tour of the conservation studio, where items from the Hoard (pictured) are still being conserved. Transport from Thinktank to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will be arranged by the Art Fund.
 
More here.
  
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Two collided bullets from the Battle of Gallipoli (1915-1916)
 
 
 
South-east quadrant of the Avebury Henge in Wiltshire, England
©
Littlestone
 
Avebury, in Wiltshire, England is one of the largest stone circles in the world. Part of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, that includes the West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill, it has achieved international fame as one of the finest and most complex Neolithic structures ever built. But where did the people who built the stone circle actually live? Now, according to the Western Daily Press
 
A team of experts from the National Trust, Southampton and Leicester universities and Allen Environmental Archaeology are currently in the middle of a three-week dig – having spent the last three years investigating the area.
 
“Avebury’s prehistoric monuments are justly world famous but one of the questions I’m most often asked is where the people who built and used them lived,” said Nick Snashall, the National Trust’s archaeologist for Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.
 
“This landscape has been studied by antiquaries and archaeologists for almost 400 years, which makes it all the more astonishing that we had no idea where its Neolithic and Bronze Age residents lived or what they did in their daily lives.
 
“So a few years ago a group of us decided it was about time we changed that and teamed up to form the Between the Monuments Project.
 
“We’re trying to put the people back into Avebury. It sounds straightforward, but the houses the first farmers built are incredibly rare and difficult to spot.
 
“Finding stone circles and burial mounds is a doddle in comparison.”
 
More here.
 
 
Oldest know fragments of the Koran discovered recently at the University of Birmingham
 
Sean Coughlan, Education correspondent for the BBC, reports on the astonishing find of what might be the oldest know fragments of the Koran –
 
What may be the world’s oldest fragments of the Koran have been found by the University of Birmingham. Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.
 
…tests, carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, showed that the fragments, written on sheep or goat skin, were among the very oldest surviving texts of the Koran. These tests provide a range of dates, showing that, with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 and 645. “They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” said David Thomas, the university’s professor of Christianity and Islam.
 
More here.
 
 
One of thousands of rock engravings made over a period of some 30,000 years by the aboriginal peoples of the Murujuga Peninsula of Western Australia
Images courtesy Dr Ken Mulvaney
 
As the United Kingdom celebrates Australian Indigenous heritage at the British Museum and as Sotheby’s London Indigenous Australian Art auction achieves record prices, back in Australia the Western Australian Government silently moves to deregister Aboriginal sacred sites.
 
“The Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people are deeply concerned about the effects of the proposed development on the Burrup Peninsula. As the traditional owners, we have a spiritual connection given to us by the Mingkala and a responsibility handed down to us by our ancestors to ensure the cultural heritage values of the Burrup are protected for future generations”.
 
Pilbara Native Title Service, June 2002
 
Once Australia is erased it can never be put back. It will be lost forever. To us this is an enormous sadness. When I speak to Wong-goo-tt-oo elder and law man Wilfred Hicks about the Murujuga situation there is great sadness in his voice too and we should all think about the cultural grief and suffering created by the destruction of culture and heritage in Australia. It is a crime against humanity.
 
Peter Hylands
 
Read more here.
 
 
Thin filaments of gold spirals found in a field in eastern Denmark
©
West Zealand Museum, Denmark
 
BBC News reports on nearly 2,000 tiny golden spirals found in a field in eastern Denmark –
 
The coils, made from thin filaments about 3cm (1in) long, date from between 900BC and 700BC, according to Flemming Kaul of the National Museum in Copenhagen. But he and his colleagues aren’t quite sure what they have found. “The fact is we don’t know what they were for, although I’m inclined to think they were part of a priest-king’s robes, perhaps a fringe on a head-piece or parasol, or maybe woven into cloth,” he says on the museum’s website. The gold spirals will go on display at Skaelskor City Museum next week.
 
More here.
 
Images_shield_banner
 
Detail of the Battersea Shield. Iron Age, 350-50bce
©
The Trustees of the British Museum
 
This is the first major exhibition to examine the full history of Celtic art and identity, and is organised in partnership with National Museums Scotland. The story unfolds over 2,500 years, from the first recorded mention of ‘Celts’ to an exploration of contemporary Celtic influences. Discover how this identity has been revived and reinvented over the centuries, across Britain, Europe and beyond.
 
Organised with National Museums Scotland
 
Supported by –
In memory of Melvin R Seiden
Sheila Streek
Stephen and Julie Fitzgerald
Fund for the Future donors
 
CeltsArt and identity exhibition runs at the British Museum from 24 September 2015 – 31 January 2016. More here.
  

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