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Archaeologists uncovered a large Byzantine Age compound west of Jerusalem, with a rarely preserved oil press, a wine press and a mosaic, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Thursday.

“This was very likely a monastery,” excavation director Irene Zilberbod said in a statement.

A spokesperson with the Antiquities Authority said the first clues of the compound were stumbled upon in recent weeks, during construction work on a new residential neighbourhood in the town of Bet Shemesh, some 35 km west of Jerusalem, Xinhua reported.

Excavations later revealed a massive compound surrounded by an outer wall and divided on the inside into industrial and residential areas.

In the industrial area, the archaeologists found an unusually large press that was uniquely preserved and was used to produce olive oil, and a large wine press. The wine press consisted of two treading floors from which the grape could flow to a collecting vat.

“The finds indicate the local residents were engaged in wine and olive oil production for their livelihood,” Zilberbod said.

She added that the impressive size of the agricultural installations shows that these facilities were used for production on an industrial-scale rather than just for domestic use.

Several rooms were exposed in the residential portion of the compound, some of which had a colourful mosaic pavement preserved in them. One of the mosaics was adorned with a cluster of grapes surrounded by flowers set within a geometric frame. Two entire ovens used for baking were also found in the compound.

Zilberbod said that although they found no unequivocal evidence of religious worship — such as a church or an inscription — the compound holds typical features of Byzantine monasteries.

“The impressive construction dating back to the Byzantine period. The magnificent mosaic floors, windows and roof tile artifacts, as well as the agricultural-industrial installations inside the dwelling compound, are all known to us from numerous other contemporary monasteries,” Zilberbod said.

“Thus it is possible to reconstruct a scenario in which monks resided in a monastery that they established, made their living from the agricultural installations and dwelled in the rooms and carried out their religious activities.”

At some point, which the archaeologists dated to the beginning of the Islamic period (7th century A.D.), the compound ceased to function and was subsequently occupied by new residents. They changed the plan of the compound and adapted it for their needs, the archaeologists said.

Original article:
newkerala.com

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Israel Antiquities Authority excavation of Byzantine-Era Compound, most likely a monastery, discovered near Beit Shemesh. Photo by Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

I found more information athaaretz.com

Hunting Lodge (Casa della Caccia) to the exquisite decorations of the House of Apollo (Casa di Apollo) and vivid reliefs of the Trojan War, Pompeii is seducing visitors this summer with 10 newly restored houses, some of which had never been open to the public before.
of personnel at Pompeii, the ministry of culture has dispatched 30 new keepers for the holiday season, a State exam to select new janitors is in the works, and extended opening hours on Friday mean the public can stroll through the ruins after sundown.
more than 13,000 visitors flocked to Pompeii on the August 15 national religious holiday, bringing proceeds in excess of 114,000 euros, while 122 people decided to explore the city preserved in lava during night visiting hours.
The 10 new houses include the Thermopolium (Latin for restaurant) of Vetutius Placidus, where people could buy cooked food to go. It boasts shrines to Mercury and Dionysus (the gods of commerce and wine, respectively), a dining hall, and an adjoining mansion with a vestibule, a garden, and a dining room.

The Ancient Hunting Lodge (Casa della Caccia Antica) is another must-see at Pompeii. According to experts, it had just undergone renovation when it was buried under meters of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. An extensive hunting scene is still visible on one of its garden walls, and its interiors are luxuriously decorated with beautiful paintings and marble-like coverings.

Also noteworthy are the Domus Cornelia and its exquisite sculptures, the House of Apollo adorned with images of the god to which it owes its name, and the House of Achilles with its impressive reliefs of the Trojan war.

Source: ANSA [August 19, 2014]

Original article:
Posted by Tann
archaeology newsnetwork

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Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus [Credit: Vanni Archive/Corbis]

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A 2,000-year-old kitchen, which dates back to the late Roman era, has been discovered in the ancient city of Sagalassos in Turkey’s southern province of Burdur.
Excavations in the ancient city started in early June, but the discovery of the kitchen was only reported last month.

“The kitchen was completely unearthed. We will learn in great detail about the kitchen culture present in that era. This is a very detailed scientific work. Not only archaeologists, but also anthropologists, zoologists and botanists are working together [on this project],” said Professor Jereon Poblome, head of excavations.

“There are no tiles on the ground, only soil. The understanding of hygiene was different in the late Roman era. Ergonomically, it is a difficult kitchen for us [to use], but they became used to it. They use to put coal in the middle and a pot on it with bulgur and meat inside. They used to put two more pots on both sides to keep it warm. There were no ovens at that time, so they used a floor furnace and used it to cooked bread. All details [regarding the kitchen and its surroundings] will eventually come to light,” Poblome added, noting the ancient kitchen was very small compared to modern-day kitchens.
“We are mainly working on excavating baths [at the moment]. We would like to open this place to visitors because we want show the beauty this place has to offer. Our works in the upper agora have been continuing for many years. We estimate that they will end in 2017-2018,” he said.

Monumental city

Since 1990, Marc Waelkens of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium has been leading a major excavation project at the Sagalassos site.

The first survey documents 1,000 years of occupation – from Alexander the Great to the 7th century – as well as the changing settlement patterns, vegetation history, farming practices and the changes in the climate in the area during the last 10,000

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [August 21, 2014]
Posted by Tann

Original article:
archeologynewsnetwork

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A kitchen was completely unearthed in the ancient city of Sagalassos. ‘It is very small compared to modern-day kitchens,’ says Jereon Poblome [Credit: AA]

Northampton brewers have taken special interest in a medieval ‘malting’ oven found at the site of an archaeological dig in the town centre, possibly indicating the town’s first brewery.

Directors from Phipps Brewery and Carlsberg came to visit the large stone pit, still showing scorch marks from flames, which would have been used to roast barley and turn its starch into sugar, one of the main ingredients of beer at the time.

The remains were found at a dig on a former car park off St John’s Street as archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) prepare the site for the building of new Northamptonshire County Council headquarters.

Phipps director and assistant brewer, Roy Crutchley, said: “To find out that we are part of something that goes back 800 years really makes us feel like part of the local heritage.

“It’s fascinating to see how well planned the process was. This oven on the site would have produced about a tonne of barley maltings at a time which could then be taken somewhere nearby to turn into beer.

“It would have tasted very different back then, probably a lot stronger but, no doubt, safer to drink than the local water.”

Channel 4’s Time Team programme’s post-Roman pottery expert, Paul Blinkhorn, attended two open days at site and exhibited pieces of jewellery and pottery that had been found.

Mr Blinkhorn, who lives in Abington and used to work on archaeology projects in Northampton, said: “It’s early days to say exactly what we have here, but we have uncovered boxes and boxes of pieces and I will be looking at each individually to find patterns of change to help date the site.

MOLA senior project manager, Jim Brown, said: “We expected to find a series of medieval building plots as, towards the end of the 13th Century, the town was in its heyday with industry and investment flooding in after King John said he wanted to make it the capital town of England.

“In getting to this level, 2.5m below ground, we’ve also come across remains of Victorian workshop cellars and, when we have finished on the medieval site, we will see if there is anything deeper before finishing completely in September.”

Author: Francesca Gosling | Source: Northampton Chronicle [August 10, 2014]

Original article:
archaeologynewnetwork

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Archaeologists have unearthed a medieval ‘malting’ oven in Northampton
[Credit: Northampton Chronicle]

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Ceramic finds retrieved from the site [Credit: Northampton Chronicle]

An Early Bronze Age burial mound in Georgia, known as a kurgan, held in its depths astonishingly well preserved wild fruits. Sitting underground for thousands of years, left as nourishment for the hungry souls of the dead, these fruits even exuded the aroma of fresh fruit when researchers sliced into them.

They were preserved in honey. Honey was also found on the bones in the burial chamber, suggesting it may have been used for embalming the corpses.

Honey has a low concentration of water and a high concentration of sugar. Much like salt, it can push the water out of bacteria cells, drying them up before they can get to the food (or corpses) the honey is protecting. Honey is essentially a combination of sugars and hydrogen peroxide. Just as hydrogen peroxide is used to clean bacteria from wounds, it can also kill bacteria that cause food to spoil.

Ancient Assyrians, who lived in a region east of Egypt, also preserved corpses in honey. When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian city of Susa in the 4th century B.C., he found large quantities of 200-year-old purple dye well-preserved under a layer of honey.

Skipping ahead to 2011, researchers isolated a bacterial strain in some types of honey that has very unusual properties. One of it’s surprising characteristics is its ability to produce a compound, thurincin H, that forms into a helical structure. This structure may allow it to infiltrate the membranes of other bacteria to destroy it.

“Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the compound mimics the structure of the molecules that form bacterial membranes … but it may disrupt those membranes by forming a rigid pore,” explained a Cornell University article.

Other Significant Finds in the Kurgan

Dr. Zurab Makharadze, head of the Centre of Archaeology at the Georgian National Museum, explained via email some other significant finds at the kurgan.

The mound was about 330 feet across, and the inner space of the construction was 30 by 20 feet. It contained two four-wheeled wagons, some of the best surviving examples of such devices from the time.
Archaeologists found evidence of ancient robbery, including tunnels into the chamber and disturbed artifacts and human remains. It is possible some of the robbers had attended the burial ceremony, as some evidence suggest the thieves knew what was placed where, Makharadze told Georgian publication Agenda.

It appears the family contained in the chamber was accompanied in death by servants—human sacrifices.

Riches remained despite the robberies, including ornamented vessels, amber beads, and 23 golden items, “among them rare and high artistic crafted jewelry,” Makharadze said. A unique wooden armchair was found, along with nuts, red berries, textiles, and arrowheads.

The good condition and unique nature of many of the artifacts make this an important site, Makharadze said: “[It] keeps huge scientific information and its importance is undoubtedly obvious for Caucasian and Near East archaeology.”

Agenda noted that the kurgan sites are as important to understanding ancient Georgian culture as the pyramids are in the study of ancient Egypt. The human remains are being tested at a lab in Germany to determine the relationships between the people buried in this kurgan and how they died.

Original article:
By Tara MacIsaac, Epoch Times |

theepochtimes.com

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Chiles are an ancient food, New Mexico Chiles are a vital product of a cuisine unique to the state.Please support the chili growers in New Mexico if you are able.

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) – The green chile peppers roasting aromatically outside an Albuquerque supermarket are perhaps New Mexico’s most famed and recognizable product.

But these pungent palate pleasers are under threat from shrinking harvests and tough competition from foreign imports.

“It’s the essence of New Mexico,” said Shawn Barela, a lover of chile peppers just having made a five-hour round trip to Hatch, a village in Dona Ana County world renown for the quality of its chile.

“It’s got a unique taste you can’t find anyplace else,” Barela said, watching a store clerk turn a large metal drum to roast one of the two 40-pound sacks of green chiles he had brought back with him.

The annual chile festival in Hatch, which has fewer than 2,000 residents, is an exuberant affair that each Labor Day draws 10 times that number of visitors.

September is marked by the aroma of roasting chile in supermarket parking lots and on backyard grills throughout New Mexico. Locals bring peppers to rotate in large barrels over a propane flame, slowly darkening the skin from green to light brown in a process that not only brings out their flavor but helps preserve the chiles for freezing and use in meals for much of the rest of the year.

Year-round sunshine in the southern part of the state, combined with nutrient rich soil in the Hatch Valley, make home-grown chiles the finest in the world, locals say.

But few like to talk about the diminishing crop. The size of the New Mexico chile pepper harvest shrank by more than 40 percent over the last decade, from nearly 110,000 tons in 2004 to some 65,000 tons in 2013, according to the U.S. and New Mexico Departments of Agriculture.

The crop’s value also has seen a sharp decline. In 2012, New Mexico chile farmers brought in a total of $65.4 million, compared with last year’s estimated $49.5 million.

“I don’t think we’ll ever stop growing chile here on a small level, but our nationwide market is definitely endangered,” said Jaye Hawkins, administrator at the New Mexico Chile Association, which advocates on behalf of local growers.

HOT COMPETITION

Hawkins attributed the beginning of the local crop’s decline to the North American Free Trade Agreement in the mid 1990s which flooded the market with Mexican chile.

Rival growers in nations such as China, India and Peru also benefit from lower labor and production costs.

A local ties a ristra to dry chile peppers in Hatch, New Mexico in an undated photo provided by the …
“These are really large challenges that make it difficult for us to compete,” Hawkins said.

More than 4,000 full-time and thousands of part-time seasonal workers are employed in chile farming in New Mexico. Hawkins said she feared for their future if the competition from overseas heats up.

About 82 percent of chile peppers consumed in the United States are now imported, and producers in New Mexico have had to fight to make their brand stand apart – in much the way farmers label “Florida” oranges or “California” grapes.

In 2012, the state legislature signed into law the New Mexico Chile Advertising Act, which prohibits marketing peppers produced in other states as authentic New Mexico chile.

The law, enforced by the state’s Department of Agriculture, requires restaurants to post prominently that the chile peppers used in their meals were grown elsewhere.

Failure to comply can result in a “stop sale” order, and Hawkins estimated that nearly two dozen summonses have been issued so far.

“This helps us raise awareness that chile advertised as being from New Mexico is actually from New Mexico,” she said. “It helps bring the brand back.”

(Reporting by Joseph Kolb; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Jill Serjeant and Gunna Dickson)

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The influence of climate on agriculture is believed to be a key factor in the rise and fall of societies in the Ancient Near East. Dr. Simone Riehl of Tübingen University’s Institute for Archaeological Science and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment has headed an investigation into archaeological finds of grain in order to find out what influence climate had on agriculture in early farming societies. Her findings are published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

She and her team analyzed grains of barley up to 12,000 years old from 33 locations across the Fertile Crescent to ascertain if they had had enough water while growing and ripening. Riehl found that periods of drought had had noticeable and widely differing effects on agriculture and societies in the Ancient Near East, with settlements finding a variety of ways to deal with the problem.

The 1,037 ancient samples were between 12,000 and 2,500 years old. They were compared with modern samples from 13 locations in the former Fertile Crescent. Dr. Riehl and her team measured the grains’ content of two stable carbon isotopes. When barley grass gets insufficient water while growing, the proportion of heavier carbon isotopes deposited in its cells will be higher than normal. The two isotopes 12C und 13C remain stable for thousands of years and can be measured precisely – giving Simone Riehl and her colleagues reliable information on the availability of water while the plants were growing.

They found that many settlements were affected by drought linked to major climate fluctuations. “Geographic factors and technologies introduced by humans played a big role and influenced societies’ options for development as well as their particular ways of dealing with drought,” says Riehl. Her findings indicate that harvests in coastal regions of the northern Levant were little affected by drought; but further inland, drought lead to the need for irrigation or, in extreme cases, abandonment of the settlement.

The findings give archaeologists clues as to how early agricultural societies dealt with climate fluctuations and differing local environments. “They can also help evaluate current conditions in regions with a high risk of crop failures,” Riehl adds. The study is part of a German Research Foundation-backed project looking into the conditions under which Ancient Near Eastern societies rose and fell.

More information: Simone Riehl, Konstantin Pustovoytov, Heike Weippert, Stefan Klett, Frank Hole:Drought stress variability in ancient Near Eastern agricultural systems evidenced by δ13C in barley grain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 August 2014.

Original article:
phys.org

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Samples taken from these sites: Top, left to right: Ghab Valley (western Syria), Iron Age settlement of Zincirli, Hatay Province (SE Turkey), and Hittite-era settlement of Nerik (near Samsun,Turkey); Middle, left to right: irrigation channel …more

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