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Stonehenge road tunnel plan


It has been a few weeks since the UK government announced a proposal to bury the A303 under Stonehenge. Since then there has been disagreements among the archaeologists and conservation groups on the impact of the tunnel underneath the World Heritage site. It has been widely reported by news outlets that some are regarding it as a historic victory, others as a disaster which will irreparably damage the world heritage site.

In fact, as the UK newspaper, Guardian has reported the English Heritage and the National Trust – the two organizations that are considered the owners of the site and the surrounding landscape have hailed the outcome and the announcement as a momentous victory for the historic environment, However many conservation experts have accused these organizations of abuse of guardianship for accepting a tunnel far too short to solve any problems. Several different organizations including Stonehenge Alliance – which represents conservation groups including Friends of the Earth, the archaeology campaign group Rescue, and Aslan, the sacred landscape network whose members include pagans and druids have now joined together and are expressing major concerns that the short short tunnel plan will create serious damage to the landscape on each side, within the world heritage site. The Alliance has launched a petition for a tunnel at least twice the length the government proposed.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Mike Heyworth, director of the Council for British Archaeology, said a tunnel with both entrance and exits within the world heritage site “would have major implications for the archaeology – we should be asking whether a major expansion of the roads network at Stonehenge just to meet traffic needs is the most appropriate way to deal with such a site”. However, English Heritage and the National Trust, remain positive about the announcement..

On January 13th, 2017, the UNESCO released the following statement- from the UNESCO’s website:


State of Conservation of the World Heritage Property Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

Over the last several months, the World Heritage Centre has received numerous messages from citizens and NGOs expressing their concerns regarding the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down project including a proposed tunnel located within the boundaries of the World Heritage property “Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites”, and the adverse impact it may have on the property.

It should be noted that the competent authorities of the State Party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as the Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention (ICOMOS) and the World Heritage Centre are fully informed of the concerns raised by the citizens’ campaign. The state of conservation of the property is being monitored by all parties in accordance with the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

The World Heritage Centre would like also to recall that a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS advisory mission to the property took place in 2015 at the request of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The mission report is available on the web-site for public consultation: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/373/documents/  


Destruction of Tetrapylon, Roman Theatre in Palmyra


Only after a few short months and the major announcement that Palmyra had been freed from the control of Islamic terrorists, the group has returned to cause more destruction.

It was only in May 2016, when Russia marked the capture of Palmyra from Islamic terrorists by sending the Mariinsky Theatre to perform a surprise concert, highlighting the Kremlin’s role in winning back the city. The concert as reported by Russian news agencies was held just over a month after Russian air strikes helped push Islamic militants out of Palmyra. However, it is not clear how and why the Russian forces and the Syrian government has now lost the control of the city and the unique heritage site. According to Reuters, the Syrian Government lost control of Palmyra to Islamic State in December, the second time the jihadist group had overrun the UNESCO world heritage site in the six-year-long Syrian conflict. It is believed that Islamic Terrorists came back into Palmyra again in December when the Syrian army and its allies were focused on capturing the city of Aleppo from the rebel opposition groups against Assad government. It has been reported that the destruction took place sometime between December 26 and January 10 as reported by the Reuters and, according to the satellite imagery of the site.

Islamic Terrorists had previously captured Palmyra in 2015. They held the city for 10 months until Syrian Government forces backed by Russian air power managed to drive them out in March 2017. During its previous spell in control of Palmyra, Islamic State destroyed other monuments there, including its 1,800-year-old monumental arch.

UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said in a recent statement that the destruction constituted “a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity” as stated on the UNESCO site on January 20th, 2017.

Goddess Sculpture Discovered In Aegean Sea


The 2,700-year-old sculpture, which is said to be the biggest one in the history of Turkish underwater history, found during examinations in a ship wreckage, which was unearthed last year in November, belonged to a Cypriot goddess.

The works, carried out by Dokuz Eylül University (DEU) Marine Science and Technology Institute, unearthed the sculpture 43 meters under water, and is reported to date back to the archaic period.

According to Daily News The institute’s Aegean Research and Application Center (EBAMER) Deputy Director and the head of the excavations, Associate Professor Harun Özdaş, , said the  This unique artifact belongs to a bare-footed woman wearing a long dress. It most probably is a goddess. We believe its original size is 1.20 centimeters. We failed to find the upper part of the sculpture as we had to stop our searches due to weather conditions. But we plan to start excavations in the region again this year.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day January 27


On January 27 each year, the United Nations (UN) remembers the Holocaust that affected many people of Jewish origin during World War II. This day is called the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. It also commemorates when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on January 27, 1945.


What Do People Do?

Holocaust survivors and various leaders make their voices heard on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Many of them speak publicly about the Holocaust or their experiences around the event, its aftermath and why the world should never forget what happened in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Many statements emphasize the need for future generations to learn about and remember the Holocaust and for everyone to work towards preventing genocide.

The UN organizes and supports events such as: concerts by musicians who survived the Holocaust or are survivors’ descendants; art exhibitions influenced by the Holocaust; presentations of special stamps; the introduction of special educational programs; and film screening and book signing focused on the Holocaust.

Israel and many countries in Europe and North America mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Many academics present discussion papers or hold seminars or round table discussions on the Holocaust and its legacy in the modern world. Schools or colleges may also have special lessons on the Holocaust. The Holocaust and how people commemorate it receive special attention on the Internet, television, radio, print media.

Public Life

The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is a global observance and not a public holiday.


The Holocaust, or Shoah (Sho’ah, Shoa), is the term used to describe the deliberate murder and desecration of millions of people prior to and during World War II in Germany and German occupied areas in Europe. Many of them were Jewish but the Roma people, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, people with disabilities, homosexuals and political and religious opponents were also killed. Many people died in concentration and death camps spread across Nazi-occupied Europe. One of the most notorious camps was Auschwitz-Birkenau, near Oświęcim, Poland. More than one million people died in Auschwitz-Birkenau before Soviet troops liberated it on January 27, 1945.

On January 24, 2005, the UN General Assembly commemorated the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Following this session, a UN resolution was drafted to designate January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The resolution called for education programs on the Holocaust to help prevent genocide. It also rejected denials that the Holocaust occurred. On November 1, 2005, the assembly adopted this resolution so the day could be observed each year. It was first observed on January 27, 2006.

Many Jewish groups, particularly in Israel, also observe Yom HaShoah, which is a day of mourning for Holocaust victims on 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which falls in April or May of the Gregorian calendar.

Ancient Buddha found as water level of reservoir lowers in E China


Archaeologists work near the Buddha’s head at the Hongmen reservoir in Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, Jan 8, 2017.

An archaeologist investigates in Hongmen Reservoir in Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, on Jan 8, 2017. The Buddha statue was first noticed at the end of last year when a hydropower gate renovation project lowered water levels in the reservoir by more than 10 meters. Judging from the design of the Buddha’s head, the statue was carved during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), according to china daily.

2,400-Year-Old Tomb discovered in Iraq


A 2,400-year-old tomb filled with skeletons – along with other artefacts including earrings and ceramic vessels – has been discovered in Iraq, scientists say. Among the artifacts found in the tomb, researchers found a bracelet decorated with images of two snake heads peering at each other.

The tomb was constructed toward the end of the Achaemenid Empire (550 to 330 BC), an empire in the Middle East that was conquered by Alexander the Great in a series of campaigns, researchers said.

The skeletons were found in a jumbled state making it difficult to determine exactly how many people were buried in the tomb. The disarray indicates that someone had entered, and possibly robbed, the tomb in ancient times, researchers said.

Led by Michael Danti from Boston University in the US, researchers also found a pair of bronze earrings and the remains of at least 48 pottery vessels, five of which were still intact.

“There were five complete vessels found in the tomb: one bridge-spouted jar, three pitchers and one miniature jar. They were all found near the heads of skeletons,” researchers told ‘Live Science’.

Archaeological dig in Kouklia reveals ancient rampart


Archaeological excavations taking part in the area of Ancient Paphos at Kouklia in 2016 have revealed, among others, an ancient rampart dating as far back as 6th century BC.

The Department of Antiquities of Cyprus has announced the completion of the University of Cyprus 2016 field project in the economic-administrative citadel of Ancient Paphos at Kouklia, under the direction of Professor Maria Iacovou.

The 2016 excavations were conducted in two phases between May and October on the plateau (citadel) of Hadjiabdoulla, which houses an extensive storage-plus-industrial complex of the Cypro-Classical period, and on the nearby impressive man-made mount of Laona, the press release says.

Both monuments were unknown prior to the initiation of the Palaepaphos landscape analysis project (2006-2016) by Professor Maria Iacovou.

It is thought that the plateau of Hadjiabdoulla, located east of the sanctuary of Aphrodite, functioned “as the centre of the royal dynasty that ruled the city-state of Paphos until the end of the 4th century BC.”

The stone-built complex under investigation extends over 65 m. along the plateau’s northern edge.

“It consists of stepped terraces built down the slope; it is subdivided into production and storage units by means of long cross-walls and parallel retaining walls,” the press release reads.

It is further explained that as of 2016, field methods were modified in order to ensure the collection and state-of-the-art analyses of sensitive palaeo-environment data from the workrooms and industrial units sealed under collapsed walls and roof materials in the middle wing.

“This new approach has been successfully initiated thanks to the effective collaboration developed with the specialized Wiener Laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens,” it says.

“Samples were taken for micro-morphological studies, and mud-brick, wall plasters, phytolith and starch analyses, while the students were trained in the selection process of bio-data by palaeo-botanist Anayia Sarpaki and anthracologist Maria Ntinou,” the press release adds.

Besides agricultural products such as olives, grapes and wheat, whose handling and storage in the complex is now confirmed, the excavation team has come across “a surprising discovery of primary significance for the economy of the ancient polity: a thick layer of crushed murex shells was found lying on the floor of one of the units.”

“It is the first time that archaeological data confirm the production of this precious and expensive purple dye, produced from murex shells, in Cyprus,” it is noted.

In 2012, geological and archaeological investigations conducted within the framework of the Palaepaphos project confirmed that the Laona mount, situated 75 m. north of the Hadjiabdoulla complex, is a man-made tumulus measuring 100 x 60 m.

“Its summit rises to 114.20 m. above sea level, almost 10 m. above the natural hillock,” the press release says.

The tumulus is a mortuary monument built in order to preserve the memory of renowned individuals, but it is extremely rare in ancient Cyprus.

“This and its unusual construction of thick horizontal layers of marl alternating with layers of red soil, make the Laona tumulus a special, if not unique, monument in the Cypriot landscape,” it adds.

Contrary to the red soil, which could be collected from the surrounding surfaces, marl had to be quarried from its geological environment, and then transported to where the mount was raised.

It has been estimated that the construction of the tumulus required 9.888 cubic m. of marl and red soil.

The ceramic material collected from the red soil layers allows us to suggest that the tumulus was erected in the 3rd century BC. It is, therefore, likely that this labour demanding monument, was related to the political program of the Ptolemies, the press release notes.

Ptolemy Soter had taken over Cyprus at the start of the 3rd century BC and had proceeded to eliminate the island’s autonomous city-kingdoms.

At the same time investigations carried out in the south-east quarter of the mount “revealed a much older monument that had been preserved under the layers of marl.”

“It is a rampart running north-south, so far excavated to a length of 42.5 m. Two staircases facing each other, whose state of preservation is so far unparalleled, must have been leading to towers,” the press release says.

The rampart was founded at 107,20 m. above sea level; its northern section, which rises to 112 m., is preserved to a height of 5 m.

It is explained however that “since the inner face is made of layer upon layer of mudbricks which, when exposed, deteriorate fast, the excavators decided to uncover only a small section.”

“The ceramic material isolated in the foundation trench between the two staircases suggests that the rampart was constructed late in the 6th century BC, probably towards the end of the Cypro-Archaic period,” it is added.

Due to the sensitive character of the excavated materials, the Department of Antiquities has applied preventive preservation and protection measures that have rendered the staircases and the mudbrick walls invisible.

Source: Balkan News


Discovery of new ancient tombs in Egypt


Archaeologists from the University of Birmingham have found “compelling evidence” of new pharaonic tombs at Qubbet el-Hawa in Aswan, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has revealed.

A two-metre high ancient encroachment wall has been discovered below a visitors’ pathway in the northern part of the West Aswan cemetery at Qubbet el-Hawa.

It follows and archaeological mission by the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) Qubbet el-Hawa Research Project Group (QHRP), directed by Dr Martin Bommas of the University of Birmingham.

The newly discovered wall is thought to indicate the architectural support for the known tombs of the first upper terrace, including those of Harkhuf and Heqaib, who were governors of Elephantine Island during the Old Kingdom.

Owing to the landscape of Qubbet el-Hawa, the support wall helped to secure the hillside, and thus lower lying tombs, which were accessible by a causeway leading to a second terrace.

Carl Graves, a PhD student who worked alongside Dr Bommas on the project, said: “The findings are dramatically altering our understanding of the funerary landscape in this area during the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period in 2278-2184BC. I don’t think anyone yet knows who the tombs might have belonged to.”

Nasr Salama, General Director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, describes the discovery as “stunning” telling the Egypt Independent that it is now only a matter of time until new tombs are uncovered within the important cemetery.

Eman Khalifa, director of the pottery project within the QHRP, told the paper that the stone wall was dated by the pottery shreds embedded within the mortar used to build it. She said that the crushed pieces include parts of carinated bowls, executed in a style typical of the reign of King Pepi II from the Sixth Dynasty (circa 2278-2184 BCE).

The find was part of the project’s successful first field season, which included the recent discovery of the long sought causeway of Sarenput I, thought to have been the first governor of the area at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom.

Story Source:

University of Birmingham

New excavations and new concerns


According to Farhad Zarei, the head of an archeological mission in Pasargadae (home of the Cyrus the Great mausoleum as well as Cyrus’ capital), recent archeological studies in the city have uncovered many artifacts and sites relevant to the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods, including a number of hills, dams, mines, graveyards, irrigation systems, and bridges.

Iranian and non-Iranian archeologists believe that there are numerous sections yet to be unveiled, especially near the mausoleum. Up until now, a large site of about 45 acres had been discovered, holding an irrigation system 50 kilometers long, an Achaemenid dam, a stone mine, a factory for processing grape juice to wine, a factory for melting metal ores, a few graveyards with precious tombstones, the remnants of a few castles, as well as some mills and bridges from the Achaemenid and Sassanid eras.

The head of the archaeological mission in Pasargadae has added that after studying Pasargad, other studies in adjacent regions like the Sa’adat Abad plain and the mountain ranges of Bolaghi Gorge would be carried out.

One should remember that in 2005 a vast number of ancient factories including those that made wine were destroyed in Bolaghi Gorge by the government of President Ahmadinejad, in order to pave the way for the construction of Sivand Dam, a structure which has been unused and which has simultaneously ruined agriculture fields and dried up the Bakhtegan Lake.

As a result of these incidents, there is a deep concern that studies in the region could result in the destruction of precious sites of pre-Islamic history in Iran.

For several years, non-Iranian archeologists have seldom been allowed to participate in excavations and all journalist are barred from being present in such studies. This has resulted in a complete lack of information regarding what is occurring in this ancient region of the country.