Ornate brick-chambered tomb from the Jin Dynasty discovered in China
Archaeologists have uncovered an ornate brick-chambered tomb from the Jin Dynasty in the Shanxi province of China.
Excavations were conducted by the Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology near the village of Dongfengshan in Yuanqu County as a result of construction works for a new pipeline.
The tomb dates from the Jin Dynasty, a period officially known as the Great Jin that existed from AD 1115 until AD 1234. The Jin dynasty was created in modern Jilin and Heilongjiang by the Jurchen tribal chieftain, Aguda. The dynasty continued to rule until the last emperor, Aizong, committed suicide by hanging himself to avoid being captured by the Mongols.
Archaeologists uncovered a square-shaped brick-chambered tomb constructed with carved bricks that imitates wood. The tomb consists of the main burial chamber which is accessed by a stepped passageway leading through a corridor from a sealed doorway.
Image Credit : Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology
The length of the burial chamber measures roughly 2 metres on each side and reaches a height of 3.4 metres to form an octagonal roof with 13 stacked inclining layers of bricks.
The north wall of the chamber shows a gatehouse flanked on either side with a depiction of a man and woman sitting behind tables on ornately carved chairs. The man is shown with a goatee and is wearing a gown with a belt around his waist, while the woman is wearing a double-breasted gown with her hands folded in the sleeves.
On the west and east walls are lattice panels or doors which are carved with flowers on the lower partition. The upper parts of the panels show varying patterns of concave, octagonal, or uniform square shapes.
Image Credit : Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology
Three burials were placed in the chamber consisting of a young child and two adults who died at the age of between 50 and 60 years old. Placed alongside the burials were porcelain bowls, jars, a lamp, and glazed pots.
Also uncovered is a land purchase certificate made from brick with an inscription in calligraphy that roughly translates as “Wang Village” with the names of “Gongcao and Mingchang.” An examination of the certificate dates it to around AD 1190 to AD 1196 during the reign of Emperor Zhangzong of Jin.
Speaking on the discovery, the Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology said: “The excavation of this tomb has enriched our understanding of the Jin Dynasty in the southern Shanxi area. The land purchase certificate has a clear date which provides an accurate basis for the dating of other tombs in the same period.”
Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology
Header Image Credit : Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology
Nazca geoglyphs discovered used AI deep learning
Archaeologists from the Yamagata University have used AI deep learning to discover new geoglyphs in the northern part of the Nazca Pampa in the arid Peruvian coastal plain.
Geoglyphs in the Nazca Pampa were first identified during the 1920’s, with ongoing studies since the 1940’s revealing various figurative geoglyphs of zoomorphic designs, geometric shapes, and linear lines.
Geoglyphs can be categorised into three main types: figurative, geometric, and lineal. Archaeologists suggest that the lineal geoglyphs were created by the Nazca, a culture that developed during the Early Intermediate Period and is generally divided into the Proto Nazca (phase 1, 100 BC to AD 1), the Early Nazca (phases 2–4, AD 1 to 450), Middle Nazca (phase 5, AD 450 to 550) and the Late Nazca (phases 6–7, AD 550 to 750).
The relief type dates from the Late Formative period (400 to 200 BC), as the iconography of the geoglyphs are similar to that of Formative petroglyphs found on outcrops of rock. During this period, the region was inhabited by the Paracas Culture, an Andean people that emerged around 800 BC until 100 BC.
Since 2004, Yamagata University has been conducting geoglyph distribution surveys using satellite imagery, aerial photography, airborne scanning LiDAR, and drone photography to investigate the vast area of the Nazca Pampa covering more than 390 km2.
In 2016, the researchers used aerial photography with a ground resolution of 0.1 m per pixel to create a detailed survey of the region. Overtime, the team have identified various geoglyphs, however, the process is very time consuming, so they have adopted AI deep learning to analyse the photographs at a much faster rate.
The results of a study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, has revealed the discovery of four new Nazca geoglyphs using this new method by creating an approach to labelling training data that identifies a similar partial pattern between the known and new geoglyphs.
The four new geoglyphs depict a humanoid figure, a pair-of-legs, a fish, and a bird. The humanoid geoglyph is shown holding a club in his/her right hand and measures 5 metres in length. The fish geoglyph, shown with a wide-open mouth measures 19 metres, while the bird geoglyph measures 17 metres and the pair-of-legs 78 metres.
According to the study authors: “We have developed a DL pipeline that addresses the challenges that commonly arise in the task of archaeological image object detection. Our approach allows DL to learn representations of images with better generalisation and performance, enabling the discovery of targets that have been difficult to find in the past. Moreover, by accelerating the research process, our method contributes to archaeology by establishing a new paradigm that combines field surveys and AI, leading to more efficient and effective investigations.”
Header Image Credit : Yamagata University
Archaeologists study fortress in southern Georgia to understand community resilience
A team of archaeologists led by Cranfield University is conducting a detailed study of the fortress of Dmanisis Gora in the Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia.
The study is part of a project to understand why communities in the region were more resilient than other parts of the world during the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age around 1200 BC.
Dmanisis Gora is located at the north-eastern edge of the highland zone between two such gorges. The site consists of a compact defensive core that has two defensive walls with an enclosed area of 3.7 acres.
On the plateau behind the citadel area, a third wall, extending about 1000 m from edge to edge on the plateau, encloses a much larger area of about 138.3 acres that contains numerous circular and linear stone features.
During the so-called ‘12th Century BC crisis’ and its aftermath, the majority of Middle Eastern regions underwent a period of significant turmoil characterised by the disintegration of empires, famine, crop failures, armed conflicts, and mass migration.
In contrast, the Caucasus region (consisting of present-day Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) appears to have been shielded from this tumultuous period, exhibiting only gradual transformations in material culture and patterns of settlement.
Either the region managed to entirely avoid the widespread disruption, or it did not experience the same cultural, economic, and political repercussions as other areas. This suggests that the communities in the region might have been more resilient, enabling them to withstand and adapt to the challenges in a comparatively effective manner.
Dr Erb-Satullo, from Cranfield University, said: “The key to understanding why the Bronze Age-Iron Age transition is different in the Caucasus is to study the fortress communities that dot the landscape during this period. We’re looking for clues about life in the Late Bronze Age through examining areas such as ceramics, burial rituals, farming practices, tools and social structures.”
“Given the upheaval at that time in other nearby regions, we are intrigued to find out more about one of these sites and determine what underlies their apparent resilience,” added Dr Erb-Satullo.
The project expands upon earlier pilot excavations carried out at the site prior to the pandemic, along with a thorough survey conducted in Autumn 2022 using drone-based photogrammetry. This is done by using the latest forensic technologies including isotopic analysis of animal remains, metallurgy, magnetometry and deploying drones to scan the area.
“What’s really exciting about this site is its size, preservation, and the fact that it has layers dating precisely to the years around the 12th Century BC crisis,” continued Dr Erb-Satullo. “Many fortresses are on hills which are prone to erosion. But this one has relatively flat topography, so the sediment will have built up in layers over time, helping to preserve artefacts and archaeological clues from the Late Bronze age.”
Header Image Credit : BING Maps
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