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Update : Ming Dynasty shipwrecks

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The State Administration of Cultural Heritage has released an update on the current recovery efforts of two Ming Dynasty shipwrecks in the South China Sea.

The discovery of the two wrecks was first reported in 2022. They are located at a depth of 1,500 metres, less than 1.5 kilometres off the coast of China’s Hainan Island.

Both wrecks date from the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) and were found to be carrying a cargo of hundreds of porcelain items, copper coins, and ornate pieces of ceramics.

Since 2023, a team from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the China (Hainan) South China Sea Museum, have been working in collaboration to survey the wreck sites using remote controlled submersibles.

This has enabled the researchers to map the topographic and geomorphic characteristics of the seabed where the wrecks were located, and produce photographic mapping to produce a mosaic of each wreck site.

Using the “Deep Sea Warrior” manned submersible and the “Lionfish” unmanned underwater remote-controlled submersible, a total of 928 pieces of pottery, porcelain, and timbers from the wrecks have been recovered from the sea bed.

Most notably are ornately decorated Ming Dynasty fahua type vessels that were produced from the 14th century, both in Shanxi province, northern China, and in the Jingdezhen area of southern China.

An analysis of the cargo contents corresponds with the wrecks originating from Jingdezhen, known as China’s porcelain capital, as the city was also the site of the imperial kilns.

“The underwater archaeological work of the No. 1 and No. 2 shipwrecks on the northwest slope of the South China Sea marks an important milestone in the development of China’s underwater archaeology from the near sea to the deep sea,” said the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Header Image Credit : CASS

Sources : The Institute of Archaeology CASS

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr

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A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306908

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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