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Staffordshire treasure 
Part of a helmet discovered near where the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon artefacts was found in 2009
Image credit Staffordshire County Council/PA
The Guardian reports today that –

Most of a collection of new items found close to where the Staffordshire hoard was previously discovered have been declared a treasure trove. The 81 items of gold and silver, which date from the seventh century, will now be handed to the British Museum’s valuation committee, which will assess their worth, the South Staffordshire coroner, Andrew Haigh, told an inquest in Stafford. It will then be up to Staffordshire county council and neighbouring councils to raise the money to buy the items for the nation. If the money is raised, the pieces are likely to end up in museums with the original Staffordshire hoard, which was found in a field near Lichfield in 2009 by metal detectorist Terry Herbert.

Full story here. See also the video on BBC NEWS UK here.




The 18th century Pleasures of the East handscroll by Furuyama Moromasa (古山師政)
Forth One reports today that –
A rare Japanese scroll which is more than 44ft long has been discovered in the special collections section of Edinburgh’s Central Library.The giant painting by the artist Furuyama Moromasa is called Pleasures of the East and dates back to the early 1700s. The work was gifted to the library in the 1940s by a relative of Henry Dyer, a Scottish engineer who played a major part in the industrialisation of Japan.

Edinburgh City Libraries and National Museums Scotland have now submitted a joint application to the Sumitomo Foundation for conservation funding. Culture and Sport Convener, Cllr Richard Lewis said: “For many decades this scroll has been held in the Central Library special collections without anyone realising its true significance. “It is only through the passion of our library staff and the knowledge of National Museums Scotland experts that this beautiful work has been brought to light. “If we are successful in getting funding to restore this painting to its former glory, then we are very much hoping that it can go on display to the public in Edinburgh at a later date.”

Full story here.
An Afghan archaeologist in 2010 examining Buddha statues inside an ancient monastery at Mes Aynak in eastern Logar Province
Image credit Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images
Writing in The New York Times, Sunday Review, Andrew Lawler reports that –

WHEN the Taliban blasted the famous Bamiyan Buddhas with artillery and dynamite in March 2001, leaders of many faiths and countries denounced the destruction as an act of cultural terrorism. But today, with the encouragement of the American government, Chinese engineers are preparing a similar act of desecration in Afghanistan: the demolition of a vast complex of richly decorated ancient Buddhist monasteries.

The offense of this Afghan monument is not idolatry. Its sin is to sit atop one of the world’s largest copper deposits.

The copper at the Mes Aynak mine, just an hour’s drive south of Kabul, is to be extracted under a roughly $3 billion deal signed in 2007 between Afghanistan and China’s Metallurgical Group Corporation. The Afghan finance minister, Omar Zakhilwal, recently said the project could pump $300 million a year into government coffers by 2016. But the project has been plagued by rumors of corruption; there was widespread talk of a $30 million kickback involving the former minister of mines, who resigned.

In 2009, archaeologists were given a three-year deadline to salvage what they could at Mes Aynak, but raising money, securing equipment and finding experienced excavators took up more than half of that time. So the focus now is solely on rescuing objects. An international team of archaeologists is scrambling to save what it can before the end of this month, when it must vacate the central mining zone, at the heart of the Buddhist complex. 

The task is herculean: more than 1,000 statues have been identified, along with innumerable wall paintings, fragile texts and rare wooden ornamentation. And the excavators can only guess at what may lie in older layers. There is no time to dig deeper.

Andrew Lawler is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to the magazines Science and Archaeology. Full article here. See also our earlier feature here.




January 2013
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