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Gold coins unearthed from the Haihunhou Tomb
Image credit Jiang Dong/China Daily
 
In a Chinese Government press release, the excavation of the Haihunhou Tomb in Jiangxi Province, south-east China, has now been completed. The Haihunhou Tomb was constructed for the Marquis of Haihun (Liu He, 92bce – 59bce) during the Western Han Dynasty (206bce – 24ce) and contained a plethora of artefacts including gold coins, jade, lacquer ware, bronze bells and inscriptions written on bamboo and wood.
 
According to Chi Hong, Head of the Department of Culture for Jiangxi Province, the contents of the Haihunhou Tomb will go on display after conservation work on them has been completed.
 
William Gowland standing in the main burial chamber of one of the Tsukahara Kofun mounds
©
Trustees of the British Museum
 
A workshop entitled Treasures from the ancient Japanese mounded tombs: current research on the Gowland Collection will be held on Saturday, 19 March 2016 from 09.30–13.00 in the Sackler Rooms, Clore Centre, the British Museum.
 
A half-day symposium where Japanese and British specialists will present the findings of their major research project into the Gowland Collection of Kofun period materials (3rd-7th centuries AD) held at the British Museum. These artefacts and archive, acquired by William Gowland during his long sojourn in Japan in the later 19th century, comprise a unique collection outside Japan, illuminating both the history of Japanese archaeology and the origins of the state in Japan, when rulers were buried in some of the largest burial monuments of the ancient world.
 
Admission is free but pre-registration is advised as seats are limited. To register please contact ayano@britishmuseum.org See also our earlier feature on William Gowland: Father of Japanese Archaeology here.
 
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During the 2016 summer season, the IFPA [Irish Fieldschool of Prehistoric Archaeology] will be excavating two prehistoric wedge tombs, built over 4000 years ago by a Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age society, in the west of Ireland. The tombs are situated among the densest concentration of such tombs in Ireland, on Roughan Hill, in the beautiful karstic landscape of the Burren, County Clare. During the 2015 season we excavated the first wedge tomb in this significant cluster and we are currently analysing the remains we recovered. Some exciting answers are coming to light, however, these are leading to more questions about this prehistoric society.
 
Details 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.
 
 
 
Detail of a huge wine cauldron (the largest object found on site so far) with handles depicting the Greek River Deity Acheloos
Image credit and © Denis Glickman/INRAP
 
Ellie Zolfagharifard, writing for the Mail Online, reports on the massive and stunning tomb of a Celtic prince which has been discovered in France –
 
The tomb of an Iron Age Celtic prince has been unearthed in a small French town. The ‘exceptional’ grave, crammed with Greek and possibly Etruscan artefacts, was discovered in a business zone on the outskirts of Lavau in France’s Champagne region. The prince is buried with his chariot at the centre of a huge mound, 130 feet (40 metres) across, which has been dated to the 5th Century BC.
 
A team from the National Archaeological Research Institute, Inrap has been excavating the site since October last year. They recently dated it to the end of the First Iron Age – a period characterised by the widespread use of the metal.
 
Full article here.
   
 
The tomb of a priest discovered just 1,000 feet (300 meters) from the Great Pyramid at Giza
From LiveScience.com. Photo by Photo courtesy of Maksim Lebedev
 
Yahoo News reports –
 
A wall painting, dating back over 4,300 years, has been discovered in a tomb located just east of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The painting shows vivid scenes of life, including boats sailing south on the Nile River, a bird hunting trip in a marsh and a man named Perseneb who’s shown with his wife and dog. While Giza is famous for its pyramids, the site also contains fields of tombs that sprawl to the east and west of the Great Pyramid. These tombs were created for private individuals who held varying degrees of rank and power during the Old Kingdom (2649-2150 B.C.), the age when the Giza pyramids were built. The new painting was discovered in 2012 by a team from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which has been excavating these tombs since 1996.
 
Full article here.
    
 
 
Mural of the Asuka Beauties painted on the west wall of the stone chamber in the Takamatsuzuka Burial Mound (kofun) in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Photo taken in August 2013 after the mural had been cleaned
Image credit the Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs
 
Kazuto Tsukamoto, Staff Writer for The Asahi Shimbun, reports that –
 
Stunning murals painted 1,300 years ago in the stone chamber of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound, currently under repair, will continue to be preserved in an outside facility. The government panel that made the decision March 27 said the colorful wall paintings can stay “for the time being” outside the stone chamber even after the decade-long repair process winds up. A key reason for this is the lack of established technology to prevent mold from re-emerging and destroying what is left of the paintings.
 
The murals created a huge buzz when they were discovered in 1972 at the burial mound in Asuka, Nara Prefecture. “Given existing technologies, it would be difficult to return the mural paintings to the burial mound, although we will continue our research for doing so,” said Yorikuni Nagai, an adjunct professor of education policy with the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, who chairs the 17-member panel, which reports to the Agency for Cultural Affairs. “We will have to build a solid preservation facility if the process is going to take 20 to 30 years to complete.”
 
The Agency for Cultural Affairs initially envisaged returning the mural paintings to the Takamatsuzuka burial mound once the repair work was finished. The panel’s decision represents a departure from established policy, which is based on the notion that archaeological finds should in principle be conserved on site. “It would be appropriate to preserve, maintain and display the mural paintings at an appropriate location outside the burial mound for the time being,” said part of a draft plan the agency presented to the panel, which subsequently approved it.
 
The Takamatsuzuka paintings, designated a national treasure, include the famous “Asuka beauties,” or a group of female figures originally found on the west wall of the stone chamber. The entire stone chamber was removed in 2007 from the tumulus, which dates from the late seventh or the early eighth century and is designated a special historic site by the government. A similar decision had earlier been reached on colorful mural paintings from the Kitora burial mound,  another government-designated special historic site in Asuka. They are being preserved outside the tumulus, which also dates from the late seventh or the early eighth century.
 
While preferable to preserve artefacts, works of art etc in their original context it’s surely impossible (and probably undesirable) in this case. Since their discovery forty years ago the Takamatsuzuka murals now show signs of degradation and, given their delicate nature, perhaps should have been moved to a controlled environment from the beginning. Even the poor quality press cutting below shows loss of facial (and other detail/degradation) in the paintings since the 1970s.
 
 
Press cutting from the 17 March 1972. Compare with the more recent Agency for Cultural Affairs photograph above (top)
 
Original article here. See also our feature on Asuka here.
 

Recreating the Tomb of Tutankhamun by Factum Arte

The BBC are airing a well researched and balanced story on the Tutankhamun facsimile and the questions this object has generated. The arrival of the facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt in November as a gift from Factum Foundation to the country has created significant interest not just in the tomb itself but in the concept of authenticity and the potential for turning tourism into a positive force by creating exact facsimiles of subjects like the Tomb in order that the experience the tourist pays for is a powerful one but also that the original nearby is carefully preserved. The BBC introduction asks the question: “Egypt’s Valley of the Kings is a popular tourist attraction, but years of visitors trekking around the old tombs of the pharaohs is causing these historic sites to deteriorate. An exact replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb has now been created – but will tourists really visit …”

Factum Arte finished the facsimile of Tutankhamun’s Tomb at the end of 2010; it opens to the public today in Luxor, Egypt. Watch the extraordinary video above of Factum Arte’s creation of the facsimile and read an account of their work here. See also our earlier feature here.

 
Perthi Duon in 1802 by the Reverend John Skinner
 
The University of Bristol has announced the excavation of a 3,500bce chambered tomb on the Welsh island of Anglesey –
 
An archaeological excavation of Ynys Môn’s least known Neolithic chambered tomb – Perthi Duon, west of the village of Brynsiencyn on Anglesey – has begun. The work is being carried out by a team from the Welsh Rock Art Organisation under the direction of Dr George Nash of the University of Bristol and Carol James.
 
Perthi Duon, considered to be the remains of a portal dolmen, is one of eighteen extant stone chambered monuments that stand within a 1.5 km corridor of the Menai Straits. The antiquarian Henry Rowlands reports in 1723 that beneath the large capstone were three stones, possibly upright stones or pillars. However, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the monument was in a ruinous state, incorporated into a north-south hedge boundary, itself now removed. Perthi Duon was visited by the Reverend John Skinner, parish vicar and amateur archaeologist, during his ten day tour of Anglesey in 1802.  He sketched the site, then called Maen Llhuyd, and described how its cap stone and three supporters remained on the spot but had “long since been thrown prostate on the ground”.
 
More here.
 
 
Image credit the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities
 
BBC News Middle East reports that –
 
Archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a brewer who served an ancient Egyptian court more than 3,000 years ago in Luxor. The man buried in it was “head of beer production”, archaeologists say. A Japanese team found the tomb during work on another tomb belonging to a top official under Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who died around 1,354 BC.
 
Luxor is home to a large and famous temple complex built by Amenhotep III and later by Rameses II. Experts say the tomb’s wall paintings are well preserved and depict daily life as well as religious rituals.
 
More here.
   
 
The Carn Wnda earthfast tomb, Pembrokeshire Wales
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Digital Past 2014
New technologies in heritage, interpretation and outreach.
 
Heritage of Wales News has announced that –
 
Digital Past is a two-day conference showcasing innovative digital technologies for data capture, interpretation and dissemination of heritage sites and artefacts. Running for the sixth year, Digital Past 2014 will be set in the seaside town of Llandudno, and offers a combination of papers, seminars and handson workshops and demonstrations to investigate the latest technical survey and interpretation techniques and their practical application in heritage interpretation, education and conservation.
 
The conference will be of value to anyone working in or studying the archaeological, heritage, education and museums sectors, and is designed to allow informal networking and exchange of ideas within a friendly and diverse audience made up of individuals from commercial, public and third-sector organisations. Open House sessions will also give the opportunity for display and demonstration of projects or products, and the chance to talk to heritage organisations, product developers and retailers.
 
 
Venue: 12-13 February 2014 at St George’s Hotel, Llandudno, North Wales. Details here.
   

 Howard Carter opening the doors to Tutankhamun’s tomb. A 1924 reconstruction of the 1922 event.
Image credit Harry Burton (1879 – 1940). Source Wikimedia Commons
 
After World War I, Carter began an intensive search for Tutankhamen’s tomb and on November 4, 1922, discovered a step leading to its entrance. Lord Carnarvon rushed to Egypt, and on November 23 they broke through a mud-brick door, revealing the passageway that led to Tutankhamen’s tomb. There was evidence that robbers had entered the structure at some point, and the archaeologists feared they had discovered yet another pillaged tomb. However, on November 26 they broke through another door, and Carter leaned in with a candle to take a look. Behind him, Lord Carnarvon asked, “Can you see anything?” Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.”
 
 
   
 
 
The Valley of the Kings
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Patrick Kingsley, writing for The Guardian earlier this month, reports that –
 
An exact replica of the tomb of Tutankhamun is set to be installed near the 3,000-year-old original, in what one of the world’s leading Egyptologists has called a revolutionary development in Egyptian archaeological conservation. Officials hope the £420,000 project will prolong the life of the original while promoting a new model of sustainable tourism and research in a country where many pharaonic sites are under severe threat. Tutankhamen’s tomb is one of 63 burial sites in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings. After years of visitors, some have had to close due to damage while others – such as Tutankhamun’s – are under threat, with restoration efforts likely to make the problem worse.
 
 
Section of Tutankhamen’s Tomb
Image credit Stefano Benini
 
The facsimile is said to be one of the most sophisticated replicas ever made. Its creation involved measuring 100 million points in every square metre of the original tomb. Factum Arte used laser scanners to capture the texture, shape and colours of the tomb, before reproducing it with machine-operated blades, some with a width of less than two-tenths of a millimetre. “There’s a lot of arguments between conservators and tourism experts about whether replicas will help or hinder tourism,” said Weeks [Kent Weeks is a leading Egyptologist who has been researching pharaonic sites since the 1960s]. “But we should be able to show that there is no conflict between the economic needs of the country and conservation needs of the tombs. One can make a much more meaningful visit to the replica than one ever could to the original.”
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
 
The tomb of Shangguan Wan’er (664–710), an influential female politician and poet during the regime of Empress Wu Zetian (690-705)
Photo ecns.cn
 
Beijing (AFP) reports that –
 
Archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a 7th-century female politician who was one of the most powerful women in China’s ancient history, local media said on Thursday. Shangguan Wan’er — who lived from 664 to 710 in the Tang dynasty — was a trusted aide to China’s first empress Wu Zetian and is sometimes described as effectively her prime minister.
 
The site was discovered near an airport in Xianyang, in the northern province of Shaanxi, and confirmed by an inscription, China Radio International said on its website. Pictures showed deep excavations of ochre-coloured earth, arched passageways and a number of ceramic horses. “The discovery of the tomb with the epitaph is of major significance in the study of the Tang Dynasty,” the China Daily said, citing a historian specialising in the era, Du Wenyu.
 
More here.
 
 
 
The  4,000-5,000 year-old Toormore Wedge Tomb in West Cork, Republic of Ireland
Image credit and © Michael Mitchell
 
Michael Mitchell, writing on The Modern Antiquarian recently about his visit to the Toormore Wedge Tomb in West Cork, Republic of Ireland, reports that –
 
I had really been looking forward to getting to this ancient site. Imagine my disappointment, when walking round the track, I was met with this beautiful wedge tomb being used as a dustbin storage unit! I didn’t even recognise it at first and thought that I was in the wrong place… alas no! Maybe the new owners don’t realise just what they actually have on their land… there certainly didn’t seem to be much respect for it!
 
Damage or inappropriate use of a monument in the Republic of Ireland can be reported to the National Monuments Service, by phoning 01 888 2000 or e-mailing them at the nationalmonuments@ahg.gov.ie
 

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