Statue Fragments Found Near Cambodia’s Bayon Temple
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA— The large statue fragments have been recovered from a canal near the Gate of the Dead at Angkor Thom by members of Cambodia’s Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology, the heritage police, and agents from the Apsara Authority.
“The god statue found by the working team has four pieces, while another giant statue has only the back part without a face,” said Chhouk Somala of the Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology.
Two sandstone heads of tug-of-war statues have been spotted and brought out from a canal near the Gate of the Dead. This was found today on the eastern side of Siem Reap province’s Bayon temple.
Chhouk Somala, an officer in charge of archaeological registration at the Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology said, two heads of statues including one god and a giant of the tug-of-war statue at the Gate of the Dead, have been found by the department’s working team, heritage police, and Apsara Authority’s travel agents.
He added, “The god statue found by the working team has four pieces, while another giant statue has only the back part without a face.”
The finding of the two statues was not accidental because the general structures of the tug-of-war statue have been damaged due to the age of the structure, natural forces, and war which made some of those statues fall into the water and get buried in the ground.
Long Kosal, Apsara Authority spokesman, said archaeologists in the past have also discovered the sandstone statues at some sites in the Angkor Archaeological Park, and have been brought to the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum for study and preservation.
“After taking these two statues out of the water, our working team has brought it to the Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology to register them as art objects, repair and conduct further studies before handing them over to be artifacts in the museum,” he said.
Underwater Artifacts Returned to Mexico’s Lake of the Moon
A collection of objects preserved in a special container at the bottom of Lake of The Moon at high altitudes in the Nevado de Toluca Volcano in Central Mexico was deposited by Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH).
The artifacts were found in the lake in 2007 and kept in the last 13 years during the research under similar underwater environments.
52 pre-Hispanic ritual items returned to their site by underwater archaeologists where they were found, the bed of one of the two crater lakes of the Nevado de Toluca volcano.
Members of the underwater archaeology team at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) deposited the mostly spherical and conical resin objects on the bed of the Lake of the Moon earlier this month.
The objects, believed to have been made by the Matlatzinca people between the 13th and 15th centuries and placed in the lake by pre-Hispanic priests, are stored in a specially-made container that allows water and sediment to flow over them. As a result, they are protected from deterioration.
The trove of objects is the first in situ underwater archaeological archive in Mexico, according to an INAH statement.
The decision to preserve the objects in their place of origin complies with recommendations in the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
The objects were found at the Nevado de Toluca crater lake in 2007 and have been studied and analyzed for the past 13 years.
Enna Llabrés Torres, a researcher with the INAH underwater archaeology department who made the container in which the resin relics are stored, said that the objects could be removed for further study in the future as new technologies and methods of analysis emerge.
She explained that while the objects were studied over the past 13 years, they were stored underwater in conditions similar to those found at the Lake of the Moon, which is located more than 4,000 meters above sea level and has an average temperature of 3 C.
The conical objects measure 20-30 centimeters while the spherical ones are roughly the size of a baseball. INAH archaeologist Iris Hernández said that the Nevado de Toluca volcano has been considered a sacred site since pre-Hispanic times and for that reason, relics used in rituals and ceremonies have been found there.
She said that the conical objects – made out of resin of the copal tree – may have been specifically made to resemble the form of the volcano, located in modern-day México state.
According to carbon dating tests conducted by experts at the National Autonomous University Institute of Physics, the ritual objects date back to between 1216 and 1445 AD.
The time period corresponds to the rule of the Matlatzinca people in the Valley of Toluca prior to their domination by the Mexicas.
Rare Roman Cavalry Swords And Toys Unearthed Along Hadrian’s Wall
Swords, arrowheads and ballista bolts amongst a cache of artifacts discovered during cavalry barrack excavations at Roman Vindolanda. Archaeologists at the Roman fort of Vindolanda have made one remarkable discovery after another in what has been an exceptional year for the research excavations.
Test pit excavations, below the stone foundations of the last stone fortress, revealed a layer of black, sweet-smelling and perfectly preserved anaerobic, oxygen-free, soils in an area where they were completely unexpected.
Hidden in this soil were the timber walls and floors, fences, pottery and animal bones, from the abandonment of a Roman cavalry barrack. The excavated rooms included stables for horses, living accommodation, ovens and fireplaces.
While excavating the material from the corner of one of the living rooms a volunteer excavator made an outstanding discovery.
The earth surrounding the object was slowly pulled back under careful supervision to reveal the tip of a thin and sharp iron blade, resting in its wooden scabbard.
As the archaeologists excavated further the shape of a hilt and handle slowly emerged from the black soil and it became immediately clear that the Romans had left behind a complete sword with a bent tip. It was the ancient equivalent of a modern soldier abandoning a malfunctioning rifle.
Dr Andrew Birley recalled the moment as “quite emotional” and went on to say, “you can work as an archaeologist your entire life on Roman military sites and, even at Vindolanda, we never expect or imagine to see such a rare and special object as this.
It felt like the team had won a form of an archaeological lottery.” Rupert Bainbridge, the volunteer who made the initial discovery described the moment as overwhelming, commenting, “I was so excited to excavate such an extraordinary artefact, especially something that resonated so much with the fort setting that we were digging in.”
A few weeks later, Vindolanda archaeologists accompanied by a new team of volunteers were finishing working on a room adjacent to the one in which the sword was discovered.
Here they remarkably discovered a second sword, this time without a wooden handle, pommel or scabbard, but with the blade and tang still complete and sitting on the floor exactly where it had been left thousands of years before.
Dr. Birley commented, “You don’t expect to have this kind of experience twice in one month so this was both a delightful moment and a historical puzzle. You can imagine the circumstances where you could conceive leaving one sword behind rare as it is…. but two?” Both blades came from separate rooms, and are likely to have belonged to different people. One theory is that the garrison was forced to leave in a hurry, and in their haste, they left not only the swords but also a great number of other perfectly serviceable items that would have had great value in their time.
The swords are truly remarkable, but they form only part of an outstanding collection of artefacts left behind in those cavalry barrack buildings. In another room were two small wooden toy swords, almost exactly the same as those that can be purchased by tourists visiting the Roman Wall today.
Roman ink writing tablets on wood, bath clogs, leather shoes (from men, women, and children), stylus pens, knives, combs, hairpins, brooches and a wide assortment of other weapons including cavalry lances, arrowheads, and ballista bolts were all abandoned on the barrack room floors.
Quite spectacular are the copper-alloy cavalry and horse fitments for saddles, junction straps and harnesses which were also left behind. These remain in such fine condition that they still shine like gold and are almost completely free from corrosion.
The swords and other objects form a remarkable discovery of one of the most comprehensive and important collections of this type of material from a Hadrian’s Wall site.
Visitors to Vindolanda will be able to see this cache of cavalry finds displayed in the site museum this autumn, just as a major Hadrian’s Cavalry exhibition along the line of Hadrian’s Wall comes to a close another has arrived!
The Garrison at Vindolanda at this time (cAD120) was made up of a combination of peoples including the 1st Cohort of Tungrians who heralded from modern day Belgium.
They were joined by a detachment of Vardulli Cavalrymen from northern Spain. It is likely that the base held more than 1000 soldiers and probably many thousands more dependants including slaves and freedmen, representing one of the most multicultural and dynamic communities on the Frontier of the Roman Empire at the time.
The new finds give an intimate insight into the lives of people living on the edge of the Roman Empire at a time of rebellion and war before the construction of Hadrian’s Wall in AD122.
Coin Cache Discovered Under Church Floor in Slovakia
Under the floor of a church in the town of Obišovce, near Košice, eastern Slovakia, a cache of 500 early 18th century coins has been uncovered. The trove of coins had been stashed in a ceramic mug covered with a slab or stone.
It was found in the foundations of the Renaissance church which was demolished in the 19th century and the current church built over it.
When the floor of the church was demolished, the foundations were built. Archeologists explored the structural remains and came across the hoard that had been stashed under the original stone floor near the western entrance.
The coins in what was then Upper Hungary are mostly salary plates issued by the many mines. Copper, iron, silver, and gems had been mined in the east Slovakian fields since the 9th-century arrival of the Hungarian tribes. In the 15th century, the five main mining towns including Košice had united to promote their interests.
They had mints that produced coinage and salary plates with which the miners were paid. The hoard also includes silver coins, believed to have been wrapped separately in a linen textile, and a few Polish coins. From the dates on the coins, the earliest the hoard could have been buried was 1702.
When the coins were cached, Slovakia was part of the Kingdom of Hungary ruled by the Catholic Habsburgs and under regular attack by the Ottoman Empire.
In the 17th century, Protestant Magyar nobles fleeing Turkish incursions moved to Upper Hungary, modern-day Slovakia, temporarily tipping the demographics of the region to majority Protestant.
They allied with Transylvanian prince István Thököly in the failed Magnate conspiracy to overthrow Leopold I in 1670, and again with his son Imre Thököly in his anti-Habsburg rebellion in 1678.
Imre, allied with the Ottoman sultan, took control of territories in eastern and central Hungary, creating the short-lived Principality of Upper Hungary which largely conforms to the boundaries of Slovakia.
By 1685 he had managed to be defeated in battle by the Habsburgs and to piss off the Turks so the putative principality was no more. The Great Turkish War between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League ended in 1699 with the Habsburgs in control of Hungary.
Thököly’s peasant army kept fighting against the Habsburgs, however, and in 1703, Hungarian prince Francis II Rákóczi led them in an uprising against the Habsburg Holy Roman Empire, then engaged in the War of Spanish Succession. The Rákóczi rebellion lasted until their surrender in 1711.
With the region mired in so much religious and political turmoil in the late 17th and early 18th century, hoarding and hiding coins doubtless seemed prudent.
Preservationists say it is probable that the priest from the local church and parish collected the money and hid it under the floor in times of unrest. It is probable that when he left, he omitted to say anything about the money under the floor and it was forgotten about.
The historic sources state that after the Thӧkӧly uprising was over, sometime between 1685 and 1687, a Catholic priest returned to Kysak parish. Obišovce at that time belonged to this parish.
The priest was a Pole, he was blind in one eye and sometime in the 1690s, he went blind completely. The church was under the administration of the Catholic church until 1705 when rebels plundered it and it was left as a ruin for three years. The Polish priest was expelled and he returned to Poland.