Archaeology on Land

110 million year old "SuperCroc" Fossil Found in Sahara    October 2002 - National Geographic
The giant creature, which lived 110 million years ago,  during the 
Middle Cretaceous, grew as long as 40 feet (12 meters) and 
weighed as much as eight metric tons (17,500 pounds). 

Chile October 2002
Tiny Humanoid Creature Found In Chile  Jeff Rense
Ancient Chile Migration Mystery Tied to Drought    National Geographic

Capital city of ancient superpower discovered    October 2002
The metropolis, covering more than a square mile, was the main
western administrative centre of the ancient Median Empire, a vast
Middle Eastern imperial state which flourished in the first half of the 6th
century BC between the fall of the Assyrian empire and the rise of Persia.  

Thais Find Ancient Cemetery in Hunt for Origin   October 2002 - Reuters

Submarine megaliths in western Cuba  June 2002

Archaeologists Find Ancient Canals   June 2002 - Reuters
The longest and oldest canals ever found in North America, 
a sophisticated system of channels dug by Indians with wood 
and shell tools 1,800 years ago.  Lake Okeechobee - Southern Florida

5,000-Year-Old Secrets of Burned City in Iran  March 2002

Ghosts of the Mountains - Video  March 2002

Iraqis reveal Assyrian tomb treasure to rival Tutenkhamun   March 2002

Incan City is Found - Another Machu Picchu?  March 2002

Skull Suggests 1 Pre-Human Species  March 2002

Discovery supports theory of a single species of ancestor  March 2002

Excavations in Eastern Europe reveal ancient human lifestyles  March 2002

Body of Bronze Age child found   3,500 to 4,500 years old

77,000-year-old tools that found at Blombos Cave - Cape Town, South Africa   March 2002

7500 BC "lost river" civilisation could rewrite history books   March 2002

El Salvador Unearths 8 Million-Year-Old Zoo

June 27, 2001 - Reuters - Apopa

El Salvador's new zoo is probably not for the average tourist: A visit requires a trip to the sewers and its animals are up to 8 million years old.

A few months ago, a construction worker dug up what he thought was a root from the bank of a river turned sewage canal just outside the capital, San Salvador.

But the root turned out to be bone, one of scores of animal remains trapped in soil believed to have been the basin of an ancient tropical lagoon.

``I saw that the root was not a root but a bone, a molar, and that the two pieces of the tree trunk I thought I found were not from a tree but a (mastodon) jaw,'' said Teofilo Reyes, who made the chance discovery.

Paleontologists now digging at the site, which experts call a natural trap because of the lake's currents, have unearthed mastodons, ancient pigs and deer, prehistoric horses and a saber-toothed tiger, among other finds.

They say the findings date to the Pliocene era after the disappearance of the dinosaurs and before the dawn of human beings, a time when Central America's terrain had just emerged from the sea, based on analysis of the sediment.

``We have a kind of zoo from which we can deduce the abundance of fauna that existed during that era,'' said Daniel Aguilar, director of the Museum of Natural History and coordinator of the site's excavation.

Armed with fine-tipped tools and abundant patience, three Salvadoran paleontologists are excavating the moisture-logged earth to find the fossilized pieces. And Reyes, crouched on a 15-foot landing above the rushing, garbage-infested Tomayate River, is assisting the three U.S.- and Brazil-trained scientists at the site he initially uncovered.

Aancient Watering Hole

Juan Carlos Cisneros, a 27-year-old paleontologist who studied in Brazil, imagined the area as a grazing ground for herds of giant herbivorous animals who gathered there to drink water and were hunted by predators.

``It's a scene that would remind one of Africa of the present, although with different protagonists,'' he said.

The scientists picture prehistoric deer, camels and horses at the watering hole, where the animals likely listened to the creaking of branches and the footsteps of nearby mastodons.

Aguilar, a 30-year-old scientist who studied in Boston, Utah and Colorado, says in the dry season the lake became an area of smaller pools surrounded by swamplands.

``The animals fell and by their own weight they sank to the bottom of the lake ... and that is what we have here,'' he said, explaining the way in which large animals were found, along with a probable rodent measuring about two feet (60 cm) long.

Aguilar said the group also believes it has identified the shell of a primitive turtle at the site; the only thing missing from the find so far is the remains of a bird.

``This was very different from what we see here now. It was not a river but an enormous lake,'' he said, adding it may have been kidney-shaped. The bottom of the lake -- the site of the excavations -- is estimated at some 430 square feet (40 square meters) that was cut off by the river about 2,000 years ago.

Because the region is rattled constantly by earthquakes, said Mario Romero, 32, who has collaborated with the Museum of Natural History in New York, the fossils have been crushed. The group suspects that the river may be on a fault line.

``We have found granite formations, a layer of silt and then a volcanic layer,'' Romero said.

Giant Solar Temple Found In Germany

August 31, 2000 - AFP

Archeologists in Germany say they have discovered the remains of a huge prehistoric temple comparable to but earlier than the Stonehenge of the ancient Britons.

The early Bronze Age temple unearthed at Kyhna near Deliztsch in the east German state of Saxony is believed to have been built around 5000 B.C., making it about 2,000 years older than the British edifice.

"There has never been such a spectacular discovery made in Germany," said Hanning Hassmann of the regional archeological office.

Like Stonehenge and other similar but smaller ancient remains in Europe, the stones of the Kyhna site, north of Leipzig, were laid out in precise alignment with the rays of the sun at the summer solstice.

The stones can no longer be seen but their position and that of related earthworks is indicated by a variation in the plant life on the earth's surface.

Aerial photographs of the agricultural land in question clearly show two sets of concentric circles, one of four circles and the other of two, with the largest being 120 metres in diameter.

The larger set of circles was apparently entered by four open gates: one to the northeast and one to the southeast have been clearly identified, those to the northwest and the southwest presumed.

Priests are believed to have held pagan rites of sun and moon worship at the site in connection with the changing of the seasons. Skeletons at the site suggest that human sacrifice was also practiced.

Archeologists were originally led to an array of early Bronze Age artefacts at the site, after an accidental discovery made during pipe-laying work in 1979.

But only 15 years later, after the fall of the Berlin Wall which made private plane overflights possible in eastern Germany, did a systematic survey of the area start to indicate the importance of the site.

Iron Age Temple Found in Sweden

August 23, 2000 - AP

Archaeologists have discovered an Iron Age temple at an ancient burial site outside the Swedish capital, saying it is the first of its kind found in Scandinavia.

The burial ground, with more than 200 graves, was unearthed in the early 1980s at Aaby, 25 miles south of Stockholm, when construction work was planned in the region.

But the temple and 30 more graves were found only last week, after two months of renewed excavations prompted by plans to build apartments and a parking lot in the area.

The temple, dating from between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200, is shaped like a pentagon, measuring 46 feet across, said Roger Blidmo of the private excavation company Arkeologikonsult, whose team found the remains.

They include a doorway covered with flat stones and marks of corner holes that once supported pillars.

The shape and size of the building indicate it was a place of worship or sacrificial offering, Blidmo said, a theory supported by the fact that no graves were found inside the construction or in an area directly outside the doorway.

Iron Age burial buildings have been found in Denmark, but none resembles the pentagon near Stockholm, he said.

Ulla Lund from Copenhagen University in Denmark, who did not participate in the excavation, said the shape of the construction implies it was a temple or religious building.

"It sounds totally unique," she said. "There are no temples or religious constructions from this period anywhere in Scandinavia."

Blidmo wants the temple reconstructed on-site. "We have to preserve it, or it will be washed away by rain," he said. However, that would mean scrapping the other construction plans.

Neither the municipality nor the landowner has decided what to do, said Daniel Forsblom at Seniorbostaeder, which owns the property. If they decide to go ahead with developing it, construction would not begin until next year, he said.

During the Iron Age, considered to be about 500 B.C. to A.D. 1000 in Scandinavia, the area around Stockholm was very prosperous. Villagers kept livestock and traded hides with the Roman Empire.

"This (temple) is probably influenced by Rome," Blidmo said. "The construction style diverges sharply from the normal way of building during that period in Scandinavia."

Similar temple finds have been made in Germany and England, he said.

Archaeologists discover 3 lost Egyptian cities

French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio looks up at the 1200-year-old statue of the Greek Goddess Isis after it was pulled from the sea by his team, June 3. Archaeologists showed off relics retrieved from the nearly complete ruins of ancient cities they said they had discovered on the seabed off the Egyptian coast.

June 4, 2000 - AP

Archaeologists scouring the Mediterranean seabed announced Saturday they have found the 2,500-year-old ruins of submerged Pharaonic cities that until now were known only through Greek tragedies, travelogues and legends.

Among the stunning discoveries at the sites - where the cities of Herakleion, Canopus and Menouthis once stood - are remarkably preserved houses, temples, port infrastructure and colossal statues that stand testimony to the citizens' luxuriant lifestyle, which some travelers had described as decadent.

This is the first time that historians have found physical evidence of the existence of the lost cities, which were famous not only for their riches and arts, but also for numerous temples dedicated to the gods Isis, Serapis and Osiris, making the region an important pilgrimage destination for various cults.

Herakleion, once a customs port where commerce flourished until the founding of Alexandria by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C., was found in its entirety.

"We have an intact city, frozen in time," French archaeologist Franck Goddio, who led the international team in the search, told The Associated Press.

The team worked for two years off this city on Egypt's northern coast in waters 20 to 30 feet deep, using modern technology including the use of magnetic waves to map the area.

"It is the most exciting find in the history of marine archaeology. It has shown that land is not enough for Egyptian antiquities," said Gaballa Ali Gaballa, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt's top archaeology body.

At a news conference, underwater television footage of the site was shown to reporters. Some of the treasure was also on display - a basalt head of a pharaoh, a bust of the curly haired and bearded god Serapis and a life-size headless black granite statue of the goddess Isis, sculpted as if wearing a diaphanous cloth held together by knots at her breast.

"At long last, these lost cities of Menouthis and Herakleion have been located," said Gaballa.

He said the cities - probably built during the waning days of the pharaohs in the 7th or 6th century B.C. - will be left as they are in the sea and only smaller pieces will be retrieved for museums.

Numerous ancient texts speak of the importance of the region and the cities, before they were covered over by the sea, probably following an earthquake.

Greek historian Herodotus, who visited Egypt in 450 B.C., wrote about Herakleion and its temple dedicated to Hercules. The sites were also named in Greek tragedies - Greek mythology tells the story of Menelaos, king of Spartans, who stopped in Herakleion during his return from Troy with Helena. His helmsman Canopus was bitten by a viper and subsequently transformed into a god. Canopus and his wife Menouthis were immortalized by two cities that bore their names.

Authors such as Strabo describe the geographic location of the cities and their rich lifestyle, while others, such as Seneca, condemn their moral corruption.

Herakleion lost its economic importance after the building of Alexandria. It was probably destroyed by an earthquake, indicated by the position of collapsed columns and walls. They had all fallen systematically in one direction, said Amos Nur, a geophysicist from Stanford University who did the magnetic mapping of the area.

The sea encroached on the land following the quake, and ruins of Herakleion are now about four miles from land in the Bay of Abu Qir. The sea also engulfed Canopus and Menouthis.

The destruction most likely happened in the seventh or eighth century. Divers found Islamic and Byzantine coins and jewelry from that period, but none more recent.

Lost city discovered in Peruvian jungle

June 3, 2000 - AP

- An American explorer credited with uncovering several major Indian ruins in Peru's rain forests has pulled back the jungle curtain to reveal another ancient city forgotten by time.

"I think it's Cajamarquilla, one of the fabulous lost cities of the Chachapoyas people," said Gene Savoy, just returned from an 18-day expedition into the high cloud forest in northern Peru.

Savoy on Friday described the Chachapoyas as tall, fierce, fair-skinned warriors who were defeated in the late 15th century by Inca ruler Tupac Yupanqui shortly before the Spanish conquest of Peru.

The Incas so respected their fighting prowess that they made the Chachapoyas their bodyguards, he said.

"What we found is the vestiges of a lost jungle empire in the rain forest of northeastern Peru," Savoy told The Associated Press.

Archaeologist Miguel Cornejo, one of 47 members of Savoy's expedition, called the find "a completely new discovery that constitutes a major contribution to Peruvian archaeology and the world."

The site, measuring 25 square miles, includes stone roads weaving through a network of massive terraced cliffs and at least 36 burial towers, said archaeologist Alberto Bueno. Both Bueno and Cornejo were assigned by the Peruvian government to accompany Savoy.

"There were many more structures, at least 60 or 70, but they were obscured by vegetation," Bueno said, adding that Savoy may have very well found the legendary Cajamarquilla, mentioned by early Spanish colonial chroniclers.

The deeply set terraces, roads and ornate stone structures, many with protruding carved faces, indicate a large concentration of people lived, farmed and worshipped there, Bueno said.

The robust 73-year-old explorer, who lives most of the year in Reno, Nev., where he directs the Andean Explorers Foundation, has written three books about his expeditions.

Savoy has discovered dozens of Peruvian ruins since the early 1960s. The three most important were Vilcabamba, the last refuge of the Incas; Gran Pajaten, a citadel city atop a jungle-shrouded peak; and Gran Vilaya, a complex of more than 20,000 stone buildings in a damp, fogbound region of the Andes that Peruvians call the "jungle's eyebrow."

He says Gran Vilaya, situated on a ridge 6,000 feet above the Maranon River, was the capital of the Chachapoyas empire - one of seven legendary cities strung like a necklace along the heights of the high jungle of northern Peru.

Last September, Savoy reported he had found evidence of another of the lost cities, Conturmarca, in a valley along the Tepna River.

On May 10, he ventured back into the jungle, 340 miles north of Lima, accompanied by the archaeologists, a representative from the National Cultural Institute and an armed detail from the national police.

Savoy said the official entourage was required under new government regulations put into place after a grave robber sacked several of the burial towers he had publicly identified after last year's expedition.

New cradle of civilization found

May 25, 2000 - UPI

University of Chicago and Syrian archeologists said Tuesday they have found a settlement in northeastern Syria that challenges conventional notions of when and where civilization began, the university announced Tuesday.

Historians have long held that civilization grew in Mesopotamia - in cities like Ur and Uruk in southern Iraq -- and spread but the new findings indicate civilization developed independently at Tell Hamoukar.

McGuire Gibson, a professor at the U of C's Oriental Institute and co-director of the joint expedition with the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities, said the find indicates civilization began about 6,000 years ago, earlier than the 3500 to 3100 B.C. usually cited.

The findings were presented this week at the International Conference on Archeology of the Ancient Near East in Copenhagen.

"We need to reconsider our ideas about the beginnings of civilization, pushing the time further back," Gibson said. "This would mean that the development of kingdoms or early states occurred before writing was invented and before the appearance of several other criteria that we think of as marking civilization."

Tell Hamoukar covered about 500 acres, the size of some of the largest of the ancient Middle East cities although Gibson concedes the entire area was likely not inhabited at the same time during the area's first occupation between 4000 and 3700 B.C.

"Most probably there was a village or a couple of villages that shifted location through those 300 years," Gibson said.

The next occupation began around 3700 and continued to 3500 B.C. and was a well-organized prosperous town of about 30 acres that may have been enclosed by a defensive wall measuring 10-feet high. A 13-foot section of the wall was found.

Food apparently was prepared on an institutional scale in igloo-shaped ovens and bits of pottery indicate wheat, barley, oats and animal bones were cooked.

Gibson marveled at the craftsmanship of the pottery, noting some was as "thin as the shell of an ostrich egg."

The team also found seals, ranging from simple cross-hatching to elaborate animal portrayals in a kind of precursor to hieroglyphics, as well as eye idols - bone figurines with large eyes - included in burials that may have had religious significance and wells for water.

"Seals are prime evidence of some kind of system of accounting or responsibility," Gibson told the Chicago Tribune. "The accounting system is tied to some sort of administrative system. You have a hierarchy of authority, two or three levels of people in which somebody with authority is there to check on the work of subordinates."

Unlike Ur and Uruk, Tell Hamoukar did not sit along a river, but rather along an established caravan route running through the Tigris and Euphrates river regions to the Mediterranean.

The site is now dominated by the modern village of Hamoukar, population 750. The Oriental Institute said the largest population in the area was 10,000 to 20,000 people around 2400 B.C.

The dig will continue this summer in hopes of finding temples and palaces.