You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2012.

Two adzes and one additional stone blade from New Guinea. On the upper adze the stone blade is expelled from the handle.
Source Wikimedia. Image credit Bullenwächter
BBC News Wales reports yesterday that –
A study of more than 300 Neolithic skeletons suggests evidence of “hereditary inequality” among farmers 7,000 years ago… Archaeologists from Cardiff University led a team who studied the skeletons from across Europe. They say evidence suggests farmers buried with tools had access to better land than those buried without. Dr Penny Bickle, of Cardiff University, said community diversity “probably occurred through inheritance”. The research was conducted by archaeologists from Cardiff, Bristol and Oxford universities, and others across Europe.The project was led by professor Alasdair Whittle from Cardiff University’s school of history, archaeology and religion, and involved studying more than 300 skeletons across central Europe.
More here and here.


Silbury from Waden Hill, Avebury. Image credit Moss

Lewis Cowen writing in the The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald yesterday reports that –

TV archaeologist Julian Richards is to lead a series of walks around the World Heritage site of Avebury this summer and autumn. Dr Richards, who presented BBC’s Meet the Ancestors, is a noted expert on the archaeology of Avebury and Stonehenge and will be leading the Wessex Walks on Wednesday, June 6, Saturday, September 1, and Sunday, October 21.

The Wessex Walks are part of a programme of study days running at museums, galleries and sites all over Britain throughout 2012.

More here.



The Prehistory of Japan
by Gerard J Groot S. V. D. Director, Archaeological Institute of Japan

Edited by Bertram S Kraus

First published 60 years ago by Columbia University Press, The Prehistory of Japan by Gerard J Groot remains an invaluable reference work for those interested in the archaeology and the prehistory of Japan.


IN THIS BOOK I have endeavored to describe the various stages of the Japanese Stone Age and their relationships with foreign cultures. I realize, however, that I have but summarily treated the many problems that are connected with Japanese prehistory.

Because of a number of conditions related to the study of Japanese prehistory any present treatment of the subject will eventually require numerous revisions, some of a fundamental nature. In addition, certain materials and problems of, perhaps, major importance may have been over- looked. The conditions that have, in part, been responsible for such errors of interpretation or omission are the following: the vast number of prehistoric sites in Japan which have been dug and which still await excavation; the great quantity of archaeological reports, of scientific or of amateurish caliber, which are dispersed throughout hundreds of books, journals, and papers; and the inadequate number of studies devoted to the problem of prehistoric cultural interrelationships.

Nevertheless, I hope that this presentation may be of some service to archaeologists who are unfamiliar with the Japanese field and that it may provide a jumping-off point for a future revised work on the prehistory of Japan.


Archaeological Institute
Kichijoji, Japan
April 18, 1946


I. Introduction

II. The Relative Chronological Sequence of Jomon Pottery Types

III. Geology and Relative Chronology in the Jomon Period

IV. The Proto-Jomon Period

V. The Early-Jomon Period

VI. The Moroiso Culture

VII. The Middle-Jomon Period

VIII. The later-Jomon Period

IX. The Final-Jomon Period

X. The Problem of the Identity of Jomon Man

Appendix A: The Jomon Period and Absolute Chronology

Appendix B: The Shouldered-Axe Culture in East Asia and Japan

Appendix C: The Violin-Shaped Axe on Formosa

Appendix D: Alphabetical List of Jomon Sites in Japan Correlated with List
by Region, Province, and District

Appendix E: List of Jomon Period Sites by Region, Province, and District


Plates following


Columbia University Press, New York 1951. Published in Great Britain, Canada, and India, London Toronto and Bombay by Geoffrey Cumberledge, Oxford University Press.


A guest feature by Subhashis Das
Chokahatu, in the austric Mundaric language (one of the most abundantly spoken languages in primitive India and currently the language of hundreds and thousands of tribals in the east and central part of contemporary India) means ‘the Land of Mourning’. Chokahatu, situated about 80 kms south-east of the capital city of Ranchi, is primarily a megalithic burial ground of the Mundas. Such burial grounds are known as sasandiri, harsali, haragarhi etc in the local Mundaric languages and can be found in almost all the tribal villages in and around Ranchi.
But Chokahatu is different.
It is enormous in size. It is so huge that you can get lost amidst the sea of stones
Chokahatu has only two menhirs and the rest are all burial slabs and dolmens. The dolmens are also known as sasandiri to the Oraons, Hos, Mundas and the Asurs. The site was discovered by one T F Pepe way back in the late 19th century (Mr Pepe like Mr Babington has the rarest distinction of discovering numerous megaliths in India in the 19th century). Pepe reported the site to Col. Dalton who visited here in 1871.
Dalton was bewildered at the enormity of the site. He wrote in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol. 42 in 1872 that his helpers counted the sepulchral slabs to be around 8000 and the area was more than a whopping 7 acres. He believed that there must be an under stratum of these graves and this site must be about two thousand years old. The villagers however disagreed with me, they affirmed the site is of about 14 acres and must be more than two thousand years of age. Well that’s for the archaeologists to decide, if they ever arrive here.
 The villagers told me that people since very olden times must have been bringing the bones of the deceased for burial in this sacred land from all over the country. Even today people come from far off places for burial in this holy land. They build dolmens over the dead of their relatives, carting the slabs on vehicles.
What makes Chokahatu more significant to the scholars and the common man is its continued use since its inception.
These are modern day dolmens
Chokahatu is one of the oldest historical sites in India, and has been used since ancient times in an uninterrupted manner.  Chokahatu is also a place that can claim the status of a ‘continuing living heritage’. Surely, therefore, Chokahatu is a worthy contender as a World Heritage Site. Chokahatu, such a significant site, still lingers in utter negligence like any other megalithic sites in India; but then megaliths, being tribal heritages, are not worthy of respect here.
Subhashis Das.
Read more about the Megaliths of India by Subhashis Das on his website here.

The Mersea Museum

The Mersea Island Museum is an independent museum established in 1976 and occupying purpose-built premises in the centre of West Mersea, just to the east of the Parish Church. The traditional local activities of fishing, oystering, wild fowling and boat building are represented. The reconstruction within the museum of a typical weather-boarded fisherman’s cottage provides an interior display centred on a Victorian coal-fired kitchen range, with adjoining facilities for washing clothes using old-fashioned manual equipment. Children are welcome, with puzzles and quizzes available.

More here.

The West Mersea Barrow, also known as Grim’s Hoe, Mersea Mound or Mersea Mount
Mersea’s Buried Secrets is the theme of Mersea Museum’s 2012 Summer Exhibition. The exhibition includes the contents of the tomb in Mersea Barrow (also known as Grim’s Hoe, Mersea Mound or Mersea Mount) which was returned to Mersea after 100 years.

More here.

A 57 second video in support of the international campaign by S.E.A. (Greek Archaeologists Association) against IMF/EU cuts in culture – not only in Greece but elsewhere. This video was published on 18 May 2012 by S.E.A. ARCHAEOLOGISTS and is inspired by recent museum thefts in Athens and Olympia. Nineteen thousand archaeological sites are now in danger.



The Buddhas of Bamiyan by Llewelyn Morgan
The story of two Afghan sculptures, destroyed after a millennium and a half
Writing in The Guardian on 18 May, Samanth Subramanian reviews the book, The Buddhas of Bamiyan by Llewelyn Morgan. A new title in the Wonders Of The World series, the book looks at the remarkable statues of the Buddha which were carved in Afghanistan during the 6th century and completely destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Samanth Subramanian writes –

The Buddhas had stood for a millennium and a half; the smaller figure, 38m tall, was built around AD550, and the larger – at 55m only a little shorter than London’s Monument – around AD615. In The Buddhas of Bamiyan, Llewelyn Morgan, a lecturer in classics at Oxford University, explores not so much the heartbreaking demise of the statues as their remarkably long lives. How and why did the Buddhas survive more than a dozen centuries of an Islamic Afghanistan, only to meet their end at a particular political moment in 2001? The final downfall of these sculptures – their arms already snapped off, their surfaces pitted by erosion and minor vandalism – represented the nadir of a long and complex process of civilisation. In the plangent words of the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, perhaps the Buddhas could take no more: “Even a statue can be ashamed of witnessing all this violence and harshness happening to these innocent people and, therefore, collapse.”

Full article here. See also Emma Graham-Harrison’s article in The Guardian here and our earlier feature here.



The 16th century fountain of  Fuente Nueva. Source Wikimedia. Image credit Monti B Sampayo

The “Martos project” is an international workshop on Stone Conservation and Urban regeneration, for graduates and young heritage professionals. It will be held in August & September 2012 on the 16th century fountain of ‘Fuente Nueva’, at Martos, Andalusia, Spain. The fountain is a project of architect Francisco del Castillo, who had studied near the Italian Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola.

The workshop is organized with the consent of the Junta de Andalucía, under the patronage of ICCROM and in collaboration with the University of York, the City of Martos Council, Department of Culture, ADSUR and the IPCE.

More here.


The 2012 World Monuments Watch: Treasured Places and New Challenges, an illustrated lecture by Lisa Ackerman

On Thursday, 24 May 2012, Lisa Ackerman, Executive Vice President of World Monuments Fund, will present an illustrated lecture on the 2012 World Monuments Watch entitled Treasured Places and New Challenges –

Announced every two years since 1996, the World Monuments Watch calls international attention to cultural heritage around the globe that is at risk from the forces of nature and the impact of social, political, and economic change. From the famous (Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca, Peru) and little-known (Cour Royale at Tiébélé, Burkina Faso), to the urban (Charleston, South Carolina) and rural (floating fishing villages of Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam), the 2012 Watch tells compelling stories of human aspiration, imagination, and adaptation.

More here.



Mustang (moo-stahn), one of the last outposts of Tibetan culture, is so isolated and protected that no Westerner set foot inside its borders for centuries. But in the early 1990s, this untouched society set high in the Himalayas opened its borders for the first time, exposing an ancient world’s dazzling sacred relics long damaged by the elements and neglect.

In this remarkable NOVA documentary western conservators are shown helping to preserve a Buddhist temple and its murals using both traditional and modern techniques.


The Ancient Monuments Society: Defending Historic Buildings

The Ancient Monuments Society was founded in 1924 ”for the study and conservation of ancient monuments, historic buildings and fine old craftsmanship’. We are committed not only to campaigning for historic and beautiful buildings, but to furthering the study of them.

More about the Ancient Monuments Society here.


The New Antiquarians: 50 years of archaeological research in Wessex. Edited by Rowan Whimster

For many people, Wessex means Stonehenge, Avebury and the other iconic monuments of prehistory. In reality its chalkland landscapes have played host to a far longer and richer sequence of communities – from Palaeolithic hunters to Iron Age farmers and Roman citizens; from Anglo-Saxon settlers and medieval merchants to the navvies who built the Kennet & Avon Canal and the Australian soldiers who trained for the trenches of the First World War.

More here.


The Heiseikan Gallery, Tokyo Museum

The Heiseikan Gallery of Tokyo National Museum (東京国立博物館) was –

…built to commemorate the crown prince’s wedding in 1993 [and] serves primarily as the space for special exhibitions. For this purpose there are four special exhibition galleries on the second floor, as well as the Japanese Archaeological Gallery.

The Heiseikan Gallery is presently featuring chronological and thematic exhibitions on Japanese archaeology until 24 June 2012.

The Gribin Ridge on the left curving its way between two iron age forts. Image credit Moss

The Heritage of Wales News reports that –

Last week, Royal Commission investigator, Louise Barker, and CBA Community Archaeologist Training Placement holder, Sophie Gingell, conducted an archaeological survey of two prehistoric forts at Solva, near St. Davids in Pembrokeshire. The two forts, most likely Iron Age in date, are situated on a narrow rocky ridge overlooking Solva harbour, known as the Gribin. There are, in fact, three prehistoric forts on this ridge all within a space of 900m (SM82SW). The archaeological surveys were carried out following a request from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park archaeologist, Peter Crane. The first site surveyed was the promontory fort on the end of the ridge; a well-known site that has recently been cleared of vegetation. In comparison, the second fort surveyed 500m to the North-East has never been recorded or documented within the Historic Environment Record, thus making it a new and exciting discovery. Having now been cleared of vegetation, the features of this ridge fort are clear to see and include a northern rampart and numerous closely spaced hut platforms.

More here. See also The Heritage Trust’s 2012 Outreach Event in Solva this summer.

Adam Stanford is an archaeological photographer in the UK. He is in need of funding for his field trip to record the excavations and archaeology at the Ness of Brodgar during the field work season of July-August 2012.

More here.



May 2012
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