Actaeon devoured by his dogs found in Roman theater

August 7th, 2022

A marble block carved with a relief of Actaeon being devoured by his hunting dogs has been unearthed at the Roman theater in the ancient city of Prusias ad Hypium in modern-day Konuralp, northwestern Turkey. The Actaeon block was discovered in the orchestra of the ancient theater along with many other highly decorated architectural fragments such as entablatures that were once part of the stage structure.

In the myth Artemis transforms Actaeon into a stag to punish him for having seen her bathing naked. She sets his pack of 50 loyal dogs on him and no longer able to recognize him as their master, they tear him apart. The relief depicts Actaeon still in human form being devoured by three dogs. Acanthus leaves decorate the scene which is surrounded by an egg-and-dart border.

Other remarkable finds are the superstructure blocks belonging to the stage building with tragedy, comedy, and drama masks, similar to which have been found in the same area before, and the structure blocks with floral decorations.

The pieces are similar is some detail, particularly border motifs, to a large block found at the theater in 2020 whose central relief is a head of the gorgon Medusa.

Prusias ad Hypium was founded as “Hypios” in the 4th century B.C. by settlers from Heraclea Pontica, a prosperous center of trade on the coast of Bithynia. It was conquered by King Prusias I of Bithynia in the early 3rd century B.C. and renamed the city after itself. The first theater was built around this time. The city was part of the great bequest of the entire kingdom of Bithynia by Nicomedes IV to the Roman Republic in 74 B.C. Rome added the “ad Hypium” to the name and over the next two centuries Prusias ad Hypium grew in population and wealth. It was granted the right to mint coins and no fewer than three Roman emperors, (Hadrian, Caracalla and Elagabalus) visited it in person in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

Archaeologists have begun cleaning and conserving the newly-discovered blocks from the orchestra section of the theater. Some of the blocks awaiting treatment will be kept in the archaeological park for visitors to see.

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Utility rooms excavated in the House of the Enchanted Garden

August 6th, 2022

The latest discoveries in the excavation of Pompeii’s Regio V neighborhood are fully furnished utility spaces, of great archaeological significance for the details they preserve of a common domestic context in the 1st century Roman town.

The room was found in the House of the Enchanted Garden, a beautifully frescoed home with a lararium (a shrine to the household gods) that is one of the largest ever discovered in Pompeii. In 2021, archaeologists undertook an excavation and restoration of rooms on the ground floor in front of the lararium and the stories above it. They uncovered four rooms, two on the ground floor and two above, that were furnished. One was unfinished, with unplastered walls and an earthen floor, a jarring contrast in a house so decorated with such fine frescoes. The unfinished room was used for storage.

Archaeologists were able to make casts of the furnishings in the room which left a cavity in the hardened ash that could be filled with plaster. One room contained a bed frame and a pillow. The texture of the fabric was imprinted in the ash and is visible on the plaster cast. It is a very simple cot with ropes strung across the sides. There isn’t even a mattress, let along any decoration. Next to the bed was a wooden trunk divided into two compartments. The lid was open, but broken when the beams and floorboards of the story above collapsed in the eruption. Inside the trunk, archaeologists found a terra sigillata saucer and a double-spouted oil lamp depicting Zeus in the act of transforming into an eagle. Next to the trunk was a circular three-legged table with a shallow ceramic bowl containing two small glass bottles, a blue glass saucer and a terra sigillata bowl.

In the storage room, archaeologists were able to make two casts: a shelf and a group of wooden planks in different sizes, cuts and finishes, tied together. This was probably a collection of raw materials for assorted home maintenance projects from furniture patching to roof repair. Outside the room in a small hallway another utilitarian treasure was found: a tall wooden cabinet with at least four doors and five internal shelves. The top of the wardrobe and the front doors were damaged when the floor above the room collapsed. The remains of jugs, amphorae, bowls and plates were found on the damaged top shelf.

The excavation of the upper rooms revealed materials that were in the process of collapsing onto the rooms below. Of enormous archaeological value is a unique group of wax writing tablets. The group consists of seven triptychs tied both vertically and horizontally by a cord. A large cupboard, collapsed in the eruption, was also excavated. It contained different types of common use ceramics for kitchen and dining, as well as fine terra sigillata ceramics and glass. There was also a set of small bronze vessels, including a basin with palm leaf-shaped handles and a small jug decorated with a sphinx and lion’s head. Another special treasure is an incense burner shaped like a cradle with a male figure at one end. The polychrome paint coloring the figure and decorating the cradle with geometric designs is perfectly preserved.

The excavation overlapped onto a residential property behind the House of the Enchanted Garden, and there the plaster cast technique revealed the imprint of cane lathing in the mortar of a collapsed false ceiling. The cast shows the guts of Pompeiian construction: bundles of caning tied together by a thin cord and covered by a gauze-like fabric to separate the lathing from the wet mortar. Casts were also obtained of what appears to be wood paneling on the north, east and south walls of the room. Some are carved with coffered decoration; others are inlaid with delicate bone elements.

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Last Salem “witch” cleared 329 years after conviction

August 5th, 2022

Elizabeth Johnson Jr., convicted of witchcraft in Salem in 1693, has been officially exonerated by the Massachusetts Senate, the last Salem conviction to be reversed. The reversal was the handiwork of an eighth-grade civics class in North Andover middle school. Starting in 2020, students under the guidance of teacher Carrie LaPierre researched Elizabeth Johnson’s case and undertook the legal process to secure a formal pardon for her.

The frenzy of paranoia, delusion and religious fervor that saw hundreds of people accused of consorting with Satan and 20 of them executed began in January 1692 with a sick girl whose doctor could not heal her. He declared her bewitched instead. That sparked a raging brushfire of accusations, trials and 19 hangings. One accused witch, 71-year-old Giles Corey, refused to plead and stood mute in court to keep his estate from being confiscated and his family left destitute. He never made it to trial. He was pressed to death by heavy stones, an illegal punishment.

Just 22 years old when she was accused of witchcraft in August of 1692,  Elizabeth Johnson was manipulated into a false confession. (Accused witches who “confessed” often had their lives spared in exchange for snitching on other witches.) She told the magistrates she had renounced Christ and been rebaptized by the Devil, largely under the coercive influence of Martha Carrier, described by the Puritan Reverend Cotton Mather as the “Queen of Hell.”  (Martha Carrier was hanged for a witch on August 19, 1692.) Elizabeth confessed she had scratched her mark on the demonic Bible, consorted with Satan in the form of a black cat and “afflicted” several people by pinching them or effigies (“poppets”) she’d made of them.

She was imprisoned for six months, finally coming to trial in January 1693. Despite her confession, she still pled not guilty, but a jury of her peers convicted her on both counts of her indictment: convenanting with the Devil and witchcraft. She was sentenced to death by hanging, but managed to dodge the noose just long enough for the mass hysteria to subside. She and the two others convicted with her were reprieved by order of Massachusetts Bay Governor William Phips.

She wasn’t exonerated, however. Even as the colony repented of the rush to accusation, use of spectral (ie, dream) evidence and general all-around bullshittery of the judicial response, everyone else, dead or living, would eventually be legally cleared of wrongdoing but her. In 1710, Elizabeth’s brother Francis petitioned on her behalf for Reversal of Attainder and for restitution of the moneys he spent provisioning her during her six months in jail. In 1711, Elizabeth herself petitioned for Reversal of Attainder, pointing out that she had been inexplicably left off the list of 22 people named in the legislation overturning the witchcraft convictions.

Her petition went nowhere. When she died in 1747 at the age of 77, she still had a felony witchcraft conviction on her jacket. She was buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Burying Ground in North Andover. Elizabeth Johnson Jr. continued to fall through the cracks centuries after her death. She was not named in a 1957 bill passed by the Massachusetts legislature exonerating more of the accused and convicted witches. That law was amended in 2001, and again Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was left off the list.

It’s not clear why she kept getting overlooked. It might have been simply administrative error. Her mother, Elizabeth Johnson Sr., was also swept up in the madness. She was accused and brought to trial on witchcraft charges on January 6, 1693. She pled not guilty and was acquitted. Authorities could well have overlooked the convicted Junior because she had the same name as the acquitted Senior. There may also have been social prejudices at play: Elizabeth never married or had children, and according to her grandfather, among others, she was “simplish at the best.” With no husband or children to advocate for her and limited cognitive abilities, she was in a highly ignorable category.

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Bronze uterus, mint coins found at sacred baths

August 4th, 2022

The excavation of the ancient sacred baths at San Casciano dei Bagni near Siena in Tuscany has unearthed a treasury of votive objects including an extremely rare bronze uterus and more than 3,000 freshly minted coins.

Votive offerings made to sacred sites associated with healing were often shaped like the body parts that were afflicted with illness or pain. The bronze uterus was likely a fertility offering. It dates to the period between the violent demise of the Roman Republic and the establishment of the Roman Empire. Terracotta uteri are relatively frequent finds in Etruscan and Roman temples dedicated to fertility gods, but bronze examples are vanishingly rare.

Other bronze votive body parts found in this year’s excavation include a leg from the knee down, a bronze penis, a realistic bronze ear and a more stylized, roughly designed ear that is exceptional because of its inscription. It records the name of Aulus Nonnius, the man who dedicated the ear to the sanctuary in the first years of the Roman Empires.

This summer is the sixth season of digs at the baths, and the area under excavation has been enlarged to cover previously unexplored sections of the complex, revealing for the first time the full dimensions of the sanctuary and shedding new light on the many phases of its history.

Evidence was unearthed of a major collapse in the Great Bath area in the late 3rd century. A sinkhole seven feet deep opened in the ground, causing the surrounding structures — bathing basins, colonnades, buildings — to collapse. This natural disaster was considered a prodigy (an omen heralding an impending calamity) by the Romans, and they quickly moved to appease the disgruntled deities by raising a new altar inside the sinkhole itself. They then built a new, smaller basin over the rubble with a set of stairs leading into the bath.

This season’s excavation reached over a mile away from the core of the ancient sanctuary to unearth the remains of a portico built in the 16th century when the Medici dynasty ruled Tuscany. People seeking healing still sought out the ancient sacred spring, although I’m not sure the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Federico Borromeo, would have visited the bath repeatedly in 1600-1 to cure his persistent “cheek ache” had he known he’d was keeping company with votive penises and uteri.

But the real surprise, revealed to ANSA by archaeologist Jacopo Tabolli with a sneak preview, has arrived over the last few weeks with the discovery of the real size of the sanctuary here that belonged to the Etruscans and was renovated by the ancient Romans in the early centuries of the Empire to make it more lavish and monumental.

It was such an exceptional place that the [Rome] mint was ordered to produce a trove of shiny coins made of silver, orichalcum and bronze, perhaps for the emperor’s own offerings to honour the gods tasked with watching over his health and that of the many noble Romans ready to travel to this sacred site.

“It’s a site without equal in Italy or in the ancient Mediterranean,” said Tabolli with visible excitement. […]

“It’s an exceptional discovery because of the size of the area of the sanctuary, which is much larger than we could have imagined, with several holy buildings, altars, pools,” he explained.

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Bejeweled Bronze Age grave found in Hungary

August 3rd, 2022

Archaeologists have unearthed the richly furnished grave of a young high-status woman in a small Bronze Age cemetery near the town of Mány in northern Hungary. It was one of several graves discovered at the site in a preventative archaeological exploration along the route of planned highway construction. The team of archaeologists from the Szent István Király Museum discovered eight burials from the Middle Bronze Age Tumulus culture which dominated Central Europe between 1600 and 1200 B.C. 

The grave of the young woman was unique for its luxurious contents. She was buried with 38 objects — mostly jewelry and garment fittings — made of bronze and precious metal. She wore a ring on every finger, bangles on both wrists, bronze spirals and a gold spiral ring found near her skull that was likely a hair tie. Also found buried with her was the bronze blade of a dagger with three rivets that attached the blade to the now-missing handle (likely an organic material like wood that has decomposed). Two long, serpentine bronze pins with broad circular terminals were found at her shoulders, likely part of her clothing. While no textile remains have been identified so far, the metal adornments are so copious that archaeologists believe they can reconstruct the garment she was buried in. Several small pieces of pottery typical of Tumulus culture graves were unearthed as well. 

There were no raised tumuli or other markers of the graves. The area has been thoroughly cultivated over the centuries, flattening the mounds over the burials. The remains were found less than 12 inches under the topsoil, so it was only fortunate happenstance that any graves could be found with contents undisturbed, especially since the other seven burials only contain fragile pottery grave goods.

In addition to the burial ground, archaeologists also discovered remains of a Bronze Age settlement at the site, as well as traces of Iron Age Celtic occupation.

This video is in Hungarian and has no captions (translated or otherwise), but you can see the full complement of recovered artifacts from the grave bagged and tagged in the laboratory.

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Padua’s 14th c. frescoes get World Heritage status

August 2nd, 2022

Last year, a cycle of 14th century frescoes in eight different buildings in the ancient northern Italian city of Padua were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The frescoes cover 40,000 square feet of walls and ceilings painted by six artists over 95 years in both secular and religious buildings. What unifies them is their visual style that marks a turning point in the understanding of spatial relations and optics in European painting. These frescoes incarnate the shift from the abstract formality of Byzantine style to the naturalism and perspective of Renaissance painting.

The most famous of the sites is the Scrovegni Chapel, frescoed by Gothic master Giotto di Bondone. This is considered the greatest surviving example of his work, and not just in the sense that it is in vividly brilliant condition, but because in this pictorial cycle he introduced realistic portrayals of human emotion, spatial perspective and trompe l’oeil architectural effects. It would become a model for his contemporaries and the artists that followed him.

In just two years between 1303 and 1305, Giotto covered the entire internal surface of the chapel with 39 scenes from the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ divided into three rows and six columns of panels, plus the arched space of the eastern wall above the altar. The first six are scenes from the lives of Joachim and Anne, Mary’s parents, who actually aren’t in the canonical Bible, only in the apocrypha. In an art historical first, Giotto painted them kissing.

The fourth row on the bottoms of the nave walls feature smaller panels depicting the Seven Vices and Seven Virtues in a faux marble stone finish. As with the Sistine Chapel, the long view of the nave culminates in a floor-to-ceiling fresco of The Last Judgement on the entire western wall. The ceiling is a deep blue firmament dotted with gold stars and roundel portraits of the Apostles, prophets, saints, Jesus and Madonna and Child.

The context behind the art is also of great historical significance. Giotto was commissioned to paint this chapel by a banker, Enrico Scrovegni. Patrons of art on this scale were typically high clergy or royalty and aristocracy. The Scrovegni Chapel commission marked a significant shift in the social and economic status of burghers, one made explicit by Giotto’s including of the banker kneeling at the foot of Christ in The Last Judgement, firmly on the side of the Heaven-bound. He holds a model of the chapel itself, making an offering of it to God. With this, the patron was no longer a king or Pope, and he was no longer an extra making a cameo appearance in a devotional scene. He was a central figure in the very thick of the action.

Another one of the eight buildings is even more spectacular an architectural survival as it is a masterpiece of frescoing. The Palace of Reason served as Padua’s marketplace, town hall and civil court. The ground floor was completed in 1219 and is the oldest covered market in Europe, still used as such today. Two loggias were added on top of the ground floor between 1306 and 1309, and a large wooden roof shaped like the overturned hull of a ship. It was built with trusses, liberating the interior from cumbersome central columns. Originally divided into three chambers, the great hall (known as the Salone) became a single wide-open space 267 feet long when the partitions were removed after a devastating fire in 1420.

The original frescoes painted by Giotto on the vault of the Salone depicting astrological motifs, allegorical figures and religious scenes were destroyed in the fire. The room was repainted by Nicolà Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara based on the visible traces of Giotto’s originals. More than 300 panels depict the stars, their effect on human character and events, religious subjects, animals and the civic magistrates — judges, notaries — who worked in that space.

In pride of place inside the Salone is a black porphyry drum on a stepped square base. This is the infamous Pietra del Vituperio (Stone of Vituperation) where insolvent debtors were forced to sit, garbed only in their underwear, and repeat three times “Cedo Bonis” (I give up my goods). He was then relieved of his burden of debt, but had to leave the city immediately. If he returned without permission from his creditors, he would be put back on the Stone of Vituperation and dowsed with three buckets of cold water.

This was the merciful approach bankruptcy; previously debtors in Padua had been imprisoned for life. It was Saint Anthony who successfully pleaded with municipal authorities to stop giving life sentences for debt just before his death in 1231. After the good friar died, however, the city added the Pietra del Vituperio to the bankruptcy process. The stone has been in the Salone ever since, although it hasn’t been used for its original purpose in a long time.

The city has created a single-ticket track with accompanying app dubbed Padova Urbis Picta (Padua Painted City) for visitors to experience all eight of the frescoed sites in the World Heritage list.  You can take virtual guided tour of the extraordinary frescoes by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in this digital replica with ultra-high resolution photographs. I highly recommend zooming in on the bottom right of the Last Judgement to get a closer look at the rich details of Hell and its many kinds of sinners.

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Conserving an 18th c. portrait and the waistcoat in it

August 1st, 2022

The Victoria & Albert Museum has recently made a rare double acquisition of an 18th century portrait and the exact silk waistcoat the sitter is wearing in the painting. Both objects are currently undergoing conservation.

The portrait of Edward Curtis of Mardyke House, Bristol, was painted by Italian portraitist Marco Benefial in 1750. Edward Curtis bought the waistcoat as part of a suit with matching coat while he was on the Continent. His father had made a fortune in the sugar trade, and Edward, then 24 years old, traveled through Europe on the Grand Tour as expected of every wealthy young Englishman of the time. Buying elegant new clothes in France was on the de rigeur checklist for Grand Tourists. Getting your portrait done in Rome wearing your new French silk brocade suit was too.

The waistcoat was made of luxurious brocaded Gros de Tours taffeta embellished with three different types of metal threads (two silver and one gold) woven into a stylized shell pattern. Roses with two leaves are brocaded in red, yellow, purple and green colored silk threads on the front and back. The weaving technique employed is typical of the master weavers of Lyon in France, but the quality of the execution in this waistcoat is a step down from that, suggesting it was woven in Lyon style elsewhere, perhaps in Tours. Nineteen of the original buttons, silver metal star-shaped ornaments over a wooden core, have survived. The original matching jacket, alas, has not.

When conservators began their work, the waistcoat in the portrait no longer matched the color of the waistcoat itself. Discolored varnish had yellowed the light silver background of the vest, and centuries of dust had darkened the surface. The waistcoat was actually in better superficial condition than the portrait. It has been altered over time, with panels added to the back to make room for a Mr. Curtis’ middle aged spread, but the brocaded silk has been lovingly tended to and required very little conservatorial intervention.

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“Pregnant mummy” not pregnant after all

July 31st, 2022

The pregnancy of the 1st century B.C. mummy in the collection of the University of Warsaw turns out to have been a false alarm. The (premature) pregnancy announcement was made in an April 2021 article by some members of the Warsaw Mummy Project who based their conclusions on their analysis of new high resolution X-rays and CT scans. The results were questioned at the time by other scientists, including the WMP co-founder Kamila Braulińska and the radiologist who CT scanned the mummy, Dr. Łukasz Kownacki.

Now another team from the Warsaw Mummy Project has published a paper that decidedly contradicts the pregnancy interpretation. They contend that what looked like a head, arms and legs of third term fetus are actually bundles of mummification material, and they have the receipts in full-color and 3D.

“Our article contains a number of spectacular images and links to films depicting the interior of an ancient mummy, including those made with the use of holographic techniques, which are the latest trend in medicine” – told PAP the main author of the publication – bioarchaeologist, co-founder of the WMP – Kamila Braulińska from the University of Warsaw .

The researchers found that there is no fetus in the pelvis at all – as suggested by the authors of the 2021 report – but four bundles.

“They were placed there by ancient embalmerists. In the bundles there is probably at least one mummified organ of the deceased. It is a well-known practice in ancient Egypt” – emphasized Braulińska. The remaining ones may contain body fragments or other remnants of the mummification process.

The authors of the new publication think the first team misinterpreted three of the bundles as fetus parts because they did not consult an expert in radiology to interpret the images. Perhaps in part because of this lack of specific expertise, they were not able to extract the richest, most detailed models from the imaging data, even though both teams used the same data and the same software.

“In this way, we showed how much the analysis of three-dimensional effects and their interpretation depend on the skills of the software user, who can achieve excellent visualization effects also without being a radiologist” – Dr. Kownacki told PAP.

For the needs of the latest study, the possibilities of radiological analyzes available at the Imaging Diagnostics Department of the European Health Center Otwock were used, including unique medical holographic software for the so-called Mixed Reality, as well as radiological server solutions.

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Muses in the Getty lab

July 30th, 2022

The J. Paul Getty Museum has created a fascinating online exhibit about the challenging conservation of a group of reliefs from a lost Roman sarcophagus. Muses in the Lab: Conserving a Roman Sarcophagus on Google Arts & Culture is an easily scrollable, annotated and illustrated play-by-play of the conservation of a fragmentary high relief from a large sarcophagus that features a woman seated next to three standing muses.

The seated woman was likely the deceased. Facing her is Terpsichore, muse of dancing and choral song holding a lyre. Beside her in the center of the composition is Thalia, muse of comedy, holding the top of a comic mask. She wears a netted catsuit similar to ones seen in sculpture of comedic actors in costume. On the right is Euterpe, muse of music and lyric poetry, holding her double-pipes in both hands.

A second group of fragments from this sarcophagus are from the right front corner. Melpomene, muse of tragedy, stands in front of a draped curtain holding a tragic mask. The right end of the sarcophagus is attached to this fragment. It features a low relief of a beaded man holding a book roll. There’s also a bundle of book rolls at his feet, suggesting he may be a representation of a writer, likely a tragic poet given his location next to Melpomene.

The main group is 54 inches high by 88 inches wide and would have been the central scene in the front of a massive sarcophagus.  Its style dates it to the mid-3rd century A.D. The Getty acquired it from a New York art dealer in 1972. They knew nothing of his history before that and there is still no information about its origin. Both the front scene and the right corner were on display together from 1974 until the 1980s when they were taken down and put in storage.

Conservators revisited the reliefs in 2018 as part of the reinstallation of the museum’s antiquities collection. They found that the quality of the carving was exceptional, almost entirely in the round and every single surface, even the ones in the background behind the figures, is polished and shaped. The marble sculpting is so extraordinary that conservators believe it was done in Rome itself. If that is true, it would be the largest sarcophagus of its type known to have been produced in Rome.

Unfortunately, the fragments had not fared well in storage. They were in poor condition, with cracked, discolored joins from all kinds of different materials applied in past restorations. The pinning methods used to hold the reliefs together had damaged the marble and were no longer stable.

In order the correct past mistakes and reassemble the reliefs with modern conservatorial principles of non-invasive reversibility, the Getty team had to separate all of the fragments, remove the bad joins and pins, then put it all back together again. There were almost 50 fragments so it was a challenging job. During the painstaking cleaning of the fragments, conservators were delighted to discover the remains of the ancient polychromy, mostly purple, that added detail and vivacity to the sculpture.

When it came time to piece the fragments back together again, the conservation team took an innovative approach. They inserted steel sleeves into the already existing holes and fitted pins into the sleeves. Magnets were placed inside the ends of the pins and the sleeves. That way the fragments connect via the magnetic pins, meaning there is no need for adhesives and the fragments can be dismantled in minutes. Lastly, they created a custom mount that works with the new pinning system to keep the group secured.

The right corner group with Melpomene and the bearded man was not added to the display for practical reasons. The corner piece would make it necessary to block out a display place the equivalent of the large sarcophagus, most of that empty space. The group of four are discretely mounted to the wall.

The online exhibit lays out the complications of the restoration process, how conservators have to devise new solutions to fix their predecessors’ mistakes, the role modern design and technology can play to improve the display and long-term care of formerly abused antiquities.

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4,000-year old shell tools found in Taiwan

July 29th, 2022

Archaeologists have discovered a 4,000-year-old burial ground and shell tool processing site in Kenting National Park on the southernmost tip of Taiwan. This is the first prehistoric shell tool processing site discovered in Taiwan, and the oldest and largest found in any Pacific island.

The site was discovered in 2017 during a renewal project to convert the crumbling shopfronts in Eluanbi Park into new green buildings. Contractors stumbled onto human remains, some in slate coffins, and shell tools just under the surface of the soil. Construction work was stopped while archaeologists from National Tsing Hua University’s (NTHU) Institute of Anthropology surveyed the site.

Between 2019 and 2021, the team unearthed a large number of relics and artifacts, including 51 skeletons, 10 of which were buried in slate coffins with coral funeral objects, [Chiu Hung-lin, NTHU Institute of Anthropology associate professor] said.

Among the findings were several finished and unfinished shell tools, as well as relics that indicated it was a site for making those tools, which provided proof that the early inhabitants of Eluanbi used “unique” shell-crafting techniques, Chiu said.

The site also offered insights into the funeral customs of the people in those times, he said, adding that anthropologists could also make new discoveries by studying the human remains found at the site.

The processed shell finds range widely in design and function. There are practical tools like a shell adze used for cutting, as well as ornaments like shell and shark tooth pendants. The presence of intermediate stages — semi-finished objects, blanks — and processing waste is evidence of an extensive manufacturing operation.

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