A team from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), and the National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography (ENCRyM), have undertaken a project to conserve Costa Rica’s stone spheres.
Over 300 stone Petrospheres, often referred to as the Diquís Spheres, have been found on the small island of Isla del Caño and the Diquís Delta in Costa Rica.
The spheres are attributed to the now extinct Diquís culture, a people that first emerged in the Valley of the Rio Grande de Térraba during the Synancra period around 1,500 to 300 BC.
Between AD 800 to 1,500, the culture reached its apex of cultural development – with Diquís artisans creating elaborate ceramic, bone, and gold objects, and sculpturing stone spheres that were placed in important zones and places of alignments in public plazas.
The Diquís Spheres vary in size, spanning from a few centimetres to over 2 meters in diameter. The spheres are predominantly crafted from gabbro, a phaneritic mafic intrusive igneous rock resembling basalt, but there are also instances where limestone and sandstone are used.
The process of sculpting these spheres involved hammering boulders into a rough spherical shape using denser rocks, then meticulously polishing using sand to achieve a smooth finish.
According to the researchers: “The importance of these spheres constitutes elements of identity for many indigenous communities in Costa Rica, and are the only cultural asset that the country has inscribed on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).”
Based on studies carried out on the largest stone spheres, experts from the ENCRyM and the National Museum of Costa Rica have investigated the materiality of these cultural assets to optimise their conservation treatments, assess the cultural significance of the sites, and to protect the cultural heritage for future generations.
Header Image Credit : Shutterstock
Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction
A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.
Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.
Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.
The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.
Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.
The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.
“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.
The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.
Header Image Credit : INAH
Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle
Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.
In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.
Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.
Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.
The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”
Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”
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