What Is Prehistory?; The Uluburun Shipwreck; Harappa, Pakistan.

What is Prehistory?

Prehistory is the time before the written record. In terms of archaeology it starts with the advent of the first humans who began walking bipedally (upright) and continues to the first written records.

Uelzen Grabhuegel, Germany
Uelzen Grabhuegel, Germany

The definitive time period cannot be given as it varies in the different areas around the world. For example, in Western Europe it ended with the Roman occupation, yet in other places it was much earlier than this.

Bosiliack Barrow, England
Bosiliack Barrow, England

It was first called Prehistory in 1831 when Paul Tournal used it in his writings, and then again in 1851 when Daniel Wilson used it for describing some artefacts. Since then the term has been used around the world.

Pilling Figurines, North America
Pilling Figurines, North America

When studying prehistory in archaeology we study the material items, and sometimes the remains of people, from the past. These items can include pottery and ceramics, where structures once stood and left postholes, remains of buildings, pits, ditches, animal bones (the types and the amount so we can see what people were eating), personal items such as jewelry, technology in the form of tools (Stone, bronze, Iron etc), human remains and burials (artefacts with them and studying their bones for signs of trauma or disease). All of this gives us clues into how people may have lived, and died, in the past.

There may be no written records yet we learn so much from what is left behind – sort of like piecing together pieces of the past jigsaw puzzle to find how our ancestors lived!

References

  • Bosiliack Barrow, England. Malcolm Kewn [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Uelzen Grabhuegel, Germany. By Holger rix (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Pilling Figurines, North America. By Brian Lee (Markarian421) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Archaeology Wow!! – The Uluburun Bronze Age Shipwreck

The Uluburun Shipwreck dates from the Bronze Age, around the fourteenth century BC, and was discovered by Mehmed Çakir, a sponge diver, in 1982 when he was diving for sponges off the coast of south west Turkey.

Uluburun
Uluburun

Between 1984 – 1994 archaeological excavations by maritime archaeologists from the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, were undertaken. There investigations amounted to a staggering 22,413 dives by the team to investigate the site and save the artefacts.

Investigations showed that the ship was 15-16 metres long, constructed using the shell-first construction method and was made from Lebanese cedar, which is only found in Lebanon, Cyprus and Turkey.

It is beleived the ship was headed towards a Mycenaean palace in the Aegean Sea from either Cyprus or a Syro-Palestine port. During the Bronze Age the Mediterranean was the centre for international trade and had a thriving maritime network that operated within it.

Excavating the Ship Wreck
Excavating the Ship Wreck

The cargo from the Uluburun Shipwreck included products from at least nine different cultures; copper and tin ingots, jars, Pistacia resin, glass ingots, ivory, hippo teeth, tortoise shells, ostrich eggshells, oil lamps, cosmetic implements, beads, gold, a trumper, jewelry of gold and silver, weapons and tools, pan-balance weights, and food which included nuts, almonds, figs, olives, grapes, spices, pomegranates, wheat and barley.

Some of the Uluburun Cargo
Some of the Uluburun Cargo

The shipwreck was investigated using the triangulation method of mapping and the air-lift excavation technique where sand is vacuumed up from the sea bed.

Reconstruction of the Uluburun
Reconstruction of the Uluburun

A reconstruction of the ship and its artefacts can be seen at the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, in Turkey,  and is well worth a visit especially to see one of the most amazing finds – a gold scarab with Nefertiti’s name inscribed on it (ca. 1370 BC – ca. 1330 BC). She was the Great Royal Wife of Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt. Incredible !!

References

  • Pulak. C. 1998. The Uluburun Shipwreck. Archaeological Institute of America.
  • Uluburun – By Georges Jansoone (Jojan (Own work (own photo)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Some of the Uluburun Cargo – By Georges Jansoone (Jojan (Own work (own photo)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Reconstruction of the Uluburun – By Georges Jansoone (Jojan (Own work (own photo)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Excavating the Ship Wreck – www.abovetopsecret.com

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Archaeological Site Guide – Harappa, Pakistan

Harappa is a Bronze Age fortified city located in Punjab, Pakistan. Its name is taken from a small local village near to the site. The city was part of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Harappa
Harappa

Harappa covered 100 hectares, was fortified and set out in a grid pattern. The site included granaries and two cemeteries located just outside of its walls. The population has been calculated to be around 23,000 people and they had a sophisticated writing, social and economic system. The houses had water and drinking wells, a sophisticated water removal system, and a toilet. Outside there were drains, sewerage drains and bathing houses.

Burial at Harappa
Burial at Harappa

Many artefacts have been uncovered especially seals which had animal motifs on them. Agriculture was the main economy of the area.

Seals from Harappa
Seals from Harappa

The archaeology phases associated with the site are

c.3,300-2,800 BC          Ravi Aspect of the Hakra Phase

c.2,800-2,600 BC          Kot Dijin or Early Harappan Phase

c.2,600-1,900 BC           Harappan Phase

c.1,900-1,800 BC           Transition Phase

c.1.800-1,300 BC           Late Harappan Phase

 

Harappan Small Figures
Harappan Small Figures

A brief outline of its discovery is

1800’s – Discovered by the British

1826 – Recorded in notes by James Lewis

1853 & 1856 – Visited by Alexander Cunningham of the Archaeological Survey of India

1872 – Brick robbed from the site by the British to assist with the building of a nearby railway

1920 – Recorded by John Marshall, the Director of the Archaeological Survey of India

1986 – George Dales from the University of California at Berkeley formed the Harappa Archaeological Research Project (HARP) to better understand and investigate the site.

Harappa is one of the earliest civilizations in the world and an incredible place to learn about human civilizations!!

References

  • Chaudhry. N. A. 2002. Harappa: The Cradle of Our Civilization. India: Sang-e-Meel Publications.
  • Ratnager. S. 2001. Understanding Harappa: Civilization in the Greater Indus Valley. Tulika.
  • Harappan Small Figures – By Trish Mayo from New York, US (P1250552) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • 2,000 Year Old Coach Driver – By Miya.m (Miya.m’s file) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Harappa – visitpak.com.
  • Burial at Harappa – a.harappa.com.
  • Seals from Harappa – By MrABlair23 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Great Books to Read…….

 

Great Web Pages to Look At…….

 

Activity –  Word Search 24 October 2014

2 Comments on “What Is Prehistory?; The Uluburun Shipwreck; Harappa, Pakistan.

  1. Pingback: What is an Open Area Excavation? – Basse Yutz Bronze Wine Flagons, Moselle, France – Hacilar, Turkey | The Young Archaeologist

  2. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #8 | Doug's Archaeology

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