Fragment of 2,500-year-old musical instrument found in Scottish loch

A piece of musical instrument dating back to 500BC has been found in a Scottish loch with the discovery hailed as one of “international significance”.

Fragment of 2,500-year-old musical instrument found in Scottish loch
Curator of the centre, Frances Collinson with a 3D copy of the bridge
[Credit: Kim Cessford/DCT Media]

The notched piece of wood, believed to be the bridge from a plucked string instrument, was found near Fearnan on the banks of Loch Tay in Perthshire. It is thought to be a piece of one of the earliest musical instruments ever found in Western Europe.

The Scottish Crannog Centre at Kenmore, which tells the story of Scotland’s ancient loch dwellers, has launched an investigation into the origins of the instrument following a £34,100 award from the National Lottery.

The research aims to discover more about Iron Age music in Scotland and its place in communities of the time.

Mike Benson, director of the Scottish Crannog Centre, said: “We are delighted to have received this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“We’re really looking forward to working alongside groups and communities to explore and tell the story of the bridge.”

Fragment of 2,500-year-old musical instrument found in Scottish loch
A replica Iron Age crannog on Loch Tay close to where the fragment of instrument was found
[Credit: Flickr/Jenni Douglas]

Cultural historian Dr John Purser described the remains of the instrument as “a find of major and international significance” and is thought to be a contemporary of a bridge found at High Pasture Cave on the Isle of Skye in 2012.

Lucy Casot, head of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Scotland said: “Uncovering where, and how, our ancestors lived helps communities understand their own history and identity.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF is able to support projects such as The Bridge That Connects Communities 2,500 Years Apart that produce tantalising clues about the past.”

A replica of the bridge has been produced by Marco Gilardi of the University of Western Scotland.

Archaeologists have been working at Loch Tay studying the sunken remains of crannogs — Iron Age wooden houses supported over the water by stilts — with tree ring analysis of highly preserved wood illuminating the time line of the loch’s occupation.

Last year, experts can say people were living on Loch Tay in Perthshire as late as 355BC.

Author: Alison Campsie | Source: The Scotsman [February 06, 2019]

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Captioned Image Spotlight (6 February 2019): A Dune Field near…

Captioned Image Spotlight (6 February 2019): A Dune Field near Nili Patera

In this image many sand dunes are visible. They have an elongated crescent form and are called “barchan dunes.” They are formed by the continuous action of the wind, blowing in the same direction, giving this particular shape.

The orientation of these dunes tell us that the prevailing wind blows from the right to the left (east to west). The wind is continuously moving sand grains up the longer dune slope, towards the top. The small ripples on the slope are caused by this movement. When the sand grains arrive at the top, they fall down the steeper and shorter slope, which as a consequence, has no ripples. It is this gradual sand movement that causes the dunes to slowly move over time.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Ancient carved stones from Nabatean temple returned to Jordan

Three finely carved stones from an ancient temple in modern-day Jordan have been returned to the country thanks to the expertise of an Oxford University archaeologist.

Ancient carved stones from Nabatean temple returned to Jordan
Frieze fragment from Period III Altar platform at Khirbet et-Tannur
[Credit: Juan Orlandis Habsburgo]

The pieces formed part of Khirbet et-Tannur, a temple complex 70km north of Petra, the rose-red rock-cut city of the Nabataeans. The temple flourished as a place of sanctuary from the second century BC until the middle of the fourth century AD.

Featuring grape vine and vegetal motifs, the artefacts were saved from private sale after an art dealer in Spain contacted Oxford expert Dr Judith McKenzie, of the Faculty of Classics, who was able to identify the items as pieces of the Khirbet et-Tannur altar platform.

Dr McKenzie, who has led international studies of the archaeological finds from Khirbet et-Tannur, resulting in two books, said: ‘Khirbet et-Tannur was first excavated in 1937, and the artefacts found at the site were split between Cincinnati Art Museum in the United States and the archaeological museum in Jordan.

‘The temple is famous in Jordan because the Vegetation Goddess panel from it is prominently displayed in the entrance of the Jordan Museum in Amman.One of the returned pieces joins the Fish Goddess bust from the altar platform in the museum. It is thus important that the pieces be displayed in the Jordan Museum, along with the other pieces from Khirbet et-Tannur.’

Of the sequence of events that led to the artefacts’ return, Dr McKenzie said: ‘Mr Diego Lopez de Aragon of Galeria Lopez de Aragon, a third-generation art dealer with an important presence in the international art market and who intended to sell these three particular items, contacted me in the summer of 2018 to ask for my opinion to clarify their provenance. I immediately recognised them as pieces of the altar platform at Khirbet et-Tannur, and I was able to demonstrate that they should be returned to Jordan.

‘Securing their return was a collaborative effort involving myself, the art dealer, and various authorities in Spain and Jordan, including the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Her Royal Highness Princess Dana Firas, President of the Petra National Trust and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Cultural Heritage, the Spanish Ministry of Culture (Heritage Department), and the Jordanian Embassy in Madrid.’

Ancient carved stones from Nabatean temple returned to Jordan
Frieze fragment from Period III Altar platform at Khirbet et-Tannur
[Credit: Juan Orlandis Habsburgo]

Diego Lopez de Aragon of Galeria Lopez de Aragon, which exhibits each year at TEFAF Maastricht, said: ‘These Nabataean pieces formed part of the collection belonging to a Spanish diplomat and collector, Juan Duran-Loriga y Rodriganez [1926–2016]. He was posted to Jerusalem as vice-consul general for Spain in the 1950s, and years later, in 1969, he was appointed Spanish ambassador to Amman. The pieces became part of his collection once he was back in Spain.

‘Galeria Lopez de Aragon and Galeria Escorial Casado acquired the three pieces from the Ambassador’s nephew and heir in 2017. The heir later provided us with a copy of Nelson Glueck’s excavation book, Deities and Dolphins, that he found in his uncle’s library. Consequently, we realised that the stones belonged to the Khirbet et-Tannur Temple in Jordan.

‘Therefore, we decided to contact Dr McKenzie to help us catalogue the stones. Thanks to her knowledge and information on Glueck’s excavation, we proceeded to donate the stones to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We truly believe that such singular pieces should be exhibited at the Jordan Museum in Amman, hence our decision to donate them.’

Her Royal Highness Princess Dana Firas said: ‘We are grateful to Dr Judith McKenzie and Diego Lopez de Aragon for their collaboration and their critical role in repatriating these important pieces to Jordan. This outcome stands as a successful example of cooperation among governments, the private sector, and civil society to honor the country-origin of archaeological pieces. We are proud to have these important Nabataean pieces back in Jordan, where they belong, and we look forward to displaying them with other pieces from Khirbet et-Tannur that tell the story of our history and rich cultural heritage.’

Dr McKenzie, Director of the Manar al-Athar Open-Access Photo Archive in Oxford’s Faculty of Classics, added: ‘These pieces are unique in the Jordanian context and an important part of the region’s cultural heritage. It’s very satisfying to know they have been returned rather than being sold on the private market, and I’m thankful to the dealer for proactively seeking out the view of an expert. Their successful return also shows the important role played by Jordan’s own civil society organisations, such as the Petra National Trust.’

Source: University of Oxford [February 06, 2019]

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