What Do You Do When You Find Something?
On an excavation each context is given a finds tray into which all finds are placed. On some sites each find is left in context and marked with a find number, as in the case of a unique burial where grave goods are identified. These are photographed and recorded in-situ (where they are found) giving a record of the state they were uncovered.
When human remains are found sometimes forensic archaeologists are called in to assist, as in the remains found of the soldiers at Fromelles, in France. The forensic archaeologists are specially trained for their work in recording, recovering and processing human remains.
The forensic archaeologists at Fromelle wore special suits to stop infecting the remains with their own DNA. That way, the DNA of most of the soldiers was taken and they were identified.
All finds go to the finds table/ shed/ area, after each context is excavated. There they are recorded on special sheets for each context, bagged and labelled with a unique number, as well as their context number, and then go to the lab for further analysis.
Archaeology Wow!! – Rapa Nui – Easter Island Statues
Easter Island is a small Polynesian Island in the Pacific Ocean known to the locals as Isla de Pascua. The island received its name from the Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, who came across it at Easter in 1722.
The island is best known for its monumental statues which stand proud looking out over the island. Altogether there are 887 monumental statues known to date which date from the stone age culture of the island. They are beleived to have been carved between 1100 – 1680 by the islanders. A large number of them have become buried over time.
There are a number of different types of the statues. Some are just heads, others have bodies, some go down to the thigh, and others are on bent knees with their hands on their stomachs.
The statues are carved from hardened volcanic ash found on the island, basalt. Hand chisels were used for the carving and the people wet the rock to make it soft enough to carve. It took 5-6 men up to a year to make one statue.
Each statue is beleived to have represented the head of a dead household from the island. The largest is known as ‘Paro” and measures 9.8 m long weighing 82 tons.
Many unfinished statues lie in the quarry on the island.
The whole island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visited by hundreds of thousends of people each year.
Archaeological Site Guide – Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan
Mohenjo Daro is an amazing site in Pakistan dating from 2,600 BC and associated with the Indus Valley civilization. It is one of the world’s earliest major urban settlements and is also known as Mound of the Dead.
The site was discovered in 1922 by Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, the Archaeological Surveyor of India. In the 1930’s it was excavated by John Marshall and Ernest Mackay, and then in 1944 by Ahmed Hasan Dani and Sir Mortimer Wheeler. Excavations continued during 1964 – 1965 by Dr George F Dales, and in the 1980’s the site was surveyed by Dr Michael Jansen and dr Marizio Tosi.
The site covered between 85 – 200 hectares and has a planned and laid out grid system with rectangular buildings. The buildings were made of fired and mortared brick as well as sun-dried mud bricks. Wooden superstructures have also been identified.
The city was divided into two – a citadel and the lower city, the citadel was originally made of mud brick and stood about 12 m high. It had public baths, 2 large assembly halls, a central market place, large central well, waste water channels around the major streets for their water system, housing for 5,000 people, some of the houses were two storeys and had inner courtyards.
There were no walls to the city but it was guarded by towers to the west and some defensive fortification at the south. Because there were no fortifications it is beleived that the city acted as an administrative centre for the region.
Many amazing finds have come from the city, including a seal with a cockerel on it which make some believe belonged to the city and gives a clue to its possible original name – ‘Kukkutarma‘. However, the best known find is the dancing lady.
Mohenjo Daro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and excavations are no longer taking place in order to preserve what has been uncovered, which is gradually being worn away by nature over time.
Great Books to Read…….
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