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Olympia Hypothesis: Tsunamis Buried the Cult Site On the Peloponnese

Olympia Buried by tsunamis
© Andreas Vött
View to the west of the central Kladeos River valley and the range of hills which separate Olympia from the wider coastal area. In the background the narrow Apheios River valley (left) and the coast of the Gulf of Kyparissia can be seen. The site of ancient Olympia was hit by tsunami impact and buried under a massive layer of sand and other deposits in the 6th century AD.

Olympia, site of the famous Temple of Zeus and original venue of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, was presumably destroyed by repeated tsunamis that travelled considerable distances inland, and not by earthquake and river floods as has been assumed to date. Evidence in support of this new theory on the virtual disappearance of the ancient cult site on the Peloponnesian peninsula comes from Professor Dr Andreas Vött of the Institute of Geography of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany.

Vött investigated the site as part of a project in which he and his team are studying the paleotsunamis that occurred along the coastlines of the eastern Mediterranean over the last 11,000 years. According to his account, the geomorphological and sedimentological findings in the area document that Olympia and its environs were destroyed by tsunami impact. The site of Olympia, rediscovered only some 250 years ago, was buried under a massive layer of sand and other deposits that is up to 8 meters deep.

"Both the composition and thickness of the sediments we find in Olympia do not go with the hydraulic potential of the Kladeos River and the geomorphological inventory of the valley. It is highly unlikely that this could have been the work of this creek," states Vött. To date, it has been assumed that the cult site was finally destroyed by an earthquake in 551 AD and later covered by flood deposits of the Kladeos River. In this scenario, however, it remains mysterious how the tiny Kladeos that passes by could first have buried Olympia under several meters of sediment, only to subsequently get incised by 10 to 12 meters down to the flow level used in ancient times. Working in collaboration with the local Ephorate for Classical Antiquities, the German Archaeological Institute, and colleagues from the universities of Aachen, Darmstadt, Freiburg, Hamburg, and Cologne, Vött and his team examined the location using geomorphological and geoarcheological methods and techniques.

Blackbox

Fang-tastic Viking warrior unearthed

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© AP
The warrior, found in Weymouth, Dorset, England, had grooves filed into his two front teeth.
London - The pain without anaesthetic would have been excruciating - but it would have proved his status as a great warrior, archaeologists said.

The warrior, found in Weymouth, Dorset, England, had grooves filed into his two front teeth.

Scientists also found other bones and decapitated heads in the pit where a new road is being built. They think the bodies were young Viking warriors who were executed without mercy after being captured in a battle with the Anglo-Saxons.

During analysis of the remains, the pair of front teeth was found to have distinct incisions.

Lead scientist David Score, of Oxford Archaeology, said: "It's difficult to say how painful the process of filing teeth may have been, but it wouldn't have been a pleasant experience.

"The incisions have been very carefully made and it is most likely that they were filed by a skilled craftsman.

Magnify

Human Ingenuity: A 100,000-Year-Old Story

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Genevieve von Petzinger: "Yes, we were capable. Yes, they were us."
Humans have been the most successful species on the planet (roaches and rats have done well, too). Scientists credit our success to three traits: technology innovation, group collaboration, and communication. Humans not only have all three abilities, but we excel at all three. The question of when we started being human and flexing our abilities has been coming under constant revision in recent years.

Until the 1990s historians pegged humanity's first creative explosion at about 40,000 years ago, a time of rapidly expanding variation on primitive stone tools. This is the era of the mesmerizing 32,000-year-old paintings in the caves at Chauvet or the ornate grave goods found at the burial site at Sungir outside of Moscow. One boy's burial garment was sewn with 4,500 ivory beads. A girl's had 5,000. Each bead is estimated to have taken an hour to produce, which means these strands were probably a year in the making, suggesting that the "primitive" beadmaker was thinking abstractly about death and spirituality in a disciplined way for a long time.

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Italy: Ancient sarcophagus unearthed near Rome

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© Unknown
Rome - Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman sarcophagus in the central Italian Lazio region surrounding Rome. It is the second sarcophagus discovered during a dig being coordinated by the University of Michigan.

The sarcophagus was uncovered in the area of Lazio believed to the site of the ancient Roman city of Gabii, located 18 kilometres east of Rome.

Magnify

Mexico unearths monolith of Aztec God

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© Unknown
The 8th century monolith
Archaeologists in Mexico made a dramatic discovery in the state of Morelos when they uncovered an 8th century monolith featuring an Aztec God weighing 60 tonnes.

With agricultural images engraved on its side, the massive stone is believed to have been used by the Aztecs to call on the god of rain.

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Japan: Ancient pottery shard in Aomori found to hold carving of dancing shaman

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© Aomori Prefecture department of protection for cultural properties
A carving of what is thought to be a shaman is seen on this pottery shard uncovered at the Sannai-Maruyama archaeological site.
A carving of a dancing shaman has been found on an ancient pottery shard unearthed years ago at an archaeological site in Aomori, making it possibly the oldest depiction of a shaman on an artifact uncovered in Japan.

"It is speculated to be a shaman with a ritual tool in hand, praying and dancing. It is a very valuable find," says Michio Okamura, chairman of an expedition committee for the site.

People

US: Bones leave Oak Harbor, Washington vulnerable to lawsuit

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© File Photo
A 1983 photo in the Whidbey News-Times shows then-Oak Harbor Assistant Police Chief Pete Gaalema examining a bone passed to him by Officer Steve Johnson. The bones were believed to have been Native American and were found on SE Pioneer Way.
If it's proved that Oak Harbor officials knew Native American remains were located on SE Pioneer Way but proceeded with the project anyway, the city could be held liable in court.

Under state law RCW 27.44.040, anyone who knowingly removes a cairn or grave of any Native American is guilty of a class "C" felony. And under another section of the same code, RCW 27.44.050, a plaintiff may recover punitive damages upon proof that the violation was willful.

Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Tribal Senate, confirmed this week that the tribe has not opened litigation against the city, despite clear evidence that Oak Harbor officials were aware of a possible burial site adjacent to SE Pioneer Way.

"It's pretty obvious the city ignored (the state's) recommendation to have an archaeologist on site," he said.

Meteor

New Zealand: Meteorite Magic in Mokoia

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Eyewitness Account Sir- In tonight's Herald I saw Mr Irvine's idea of the cause of the rumble at 12.30pm today. I take the honour to correct this. I was near No 1 pole, by the tramway powerhouse, when I happened to look up, and saw a huge white ball fly from the sun in a westerly direction. It had a tail like a meteor and gradually faded off into a long silver-like line, which remained in the sky for several minutes after the ball disappeared, and then faded away like puffs of smoke. Soon after the ball disappeared I heard an explosion like the boom of a heavy gun. Perhaps astronomers can give us a reason for this. I am, etc. ONE WHO SAW IT. Aromoho, November 26, 1908.
Mokoia is famous for much more than its purple house and pet shop in the middle of nowhere. Indeed, it is a place held in high regard by many international museums and research papers around the world. Scientists have travelled to Mokoia from many countries to scrabble around farmland in the hope of taking a rare and outer-worldly item back home with them.

A submarine explosion was thought by many to be the cause of a loud rumble heard near Whanganui in November 1908.

Mr Stone, manager of the gasworks there, was nearing his home at about 12.30pm when he saw a bright flash zooming to the earth from high in the sky. His family came out of their house to see the cause of the loud explosive noise that followed the light, and witnessed a smoke trail that appeared for three or four minutes.

People throughout the Hawera district had also heard the unusual noise, described by one resident of Kakaramea as sounding at first like loud thunder (the day was clear and sunny) and then like "a big mob of horses trotting over the wood planking of a fairly long bridge, and there was a rattling angry noise with it, very similar to a gale of wind rushing through the rigging of a ship".

Palette

US: Archaic Texan Rock Art Reveals Prehistoric Culture

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© eso-garden.com
'The Ecstatic Shaman' - the radiant hair of this small figure identifies it as an entranced shaman. Hair, because of its growth and regeneration, is one of the most magical parts of the human body, and is therefore thought to be vulnerable to supernatural influences. This superstition is expressed in the Biblical tale of Samson, whose power resided in his uncut hair, and in folk magic that considers hair and nail clippings necessary for many charms and spells. Many of the inverted flying or falling figures in the Pecos River style pictographs are shown with streaming unbound hair, one of the characteristics that illustrates the symbolic flight of the shaman between the worlds of the living and the dead; the shaman at the height of his mystical power and immune to attack by evil spirits. This figure from Panther Cave is duplicated at nearby Lookout Shelter, and at Rattlesnake Canyon on the Rio Grande above Langtry. Variations on the theme of unbound hair are found throughout the Lower Pecos region in Texas and northern Coahuila.
Thousands of years ago, Native American groups painted art under cliff overhangs along the Rio Grande. The arid climate preserved hundreds of these vivid pieces. Archaeologist Solveig Turpin discusses what the art reveals about changes in climate and the social structure of early Americans, and why it has become difficult to study.

When you think of the Texas-Mexico border, you probably think about the desert, the border fence, immigration. But does art ever come to mind? Well, in today's debates about the border, you don't often hear about this. But the borderlands are a treasure trove of archaeological history. Along the Rio Grande, the river that separates Texas and Mexico, in hidden rock shelters, under cliff overhangs, you can find hundreds of mysterious drawings of humans and animals. The area has one of the highest concentrations of archaic rock art in all of North America. I bet you didn't know that.

But the people who painted them were not the tribes we think from the old Westerns and history class. They lived in the area long before the Comanches or the Apaches ever came through. The art is not hundreds, but thousands of years old. And my next guest says this is some of the oldest religious art in North America. And archaeologists on both sides of the border are studying these sites to piece together who created the art and why.

Let me introduce my guest. Dr. Solveig Turpin is a retired archaeologist who has studied the rock art in the region for decades. She's a former director of the Borderlands Archaeological Research Unit at the University of Texas at Austin. She's author of the book "The Indigenous Art of Coahuila," about rock art in Northern Mexico. She joins us here at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, which has a terrific collection of the artwork in the museum. If you're coming to San Antonio, stop at the Witte and take a look at it. Thank you for joining us.

Cow Skull

US: No bones about it, this mastodon dig was big: 5,000 bones found in Colorado dig

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© Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Steve Holen, curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, stands behind a giant, prehistoric bison skull unearthed at the fossil dig at Ziegler Reservoir.
Reinforcements called in as Colorado excavation turns up 5,000 large bones

Diggers at an excavation in west-central Colorado turned up almost 5,000 large bones in seven weeks from mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, bison, horses, deer and camels. They also uncovered thousands and thousands of smaller remains, such as rodent teeth and salamander vertebrae.

The scientists in charge knew early on that this dig would require more shovel work than they could do alone, so they called in reinforcements, including 15 educators from the surrounding valley. These teacher-volunteers worked alongside the scientists and other volunteer diggers, turning up clues to the creatures that inhabited this area between 150,000 and 50,000 years ago.

The dig ended July 3, having yielded 4,826 large bones in seven weeks and leaving the teacher-volunteers with lessons to pass on to their students.