4,000-year-old Canaanite warrior grave found in Sidon dig

New excavations at Sidon’s Freres archaeological site have unearthed an ancient grave of Canaanite warriors dating back to the 19th century BC, shedding light on some of the ancient southern port city’s history.

4,000-year-old Canaanite warrior grave found in Sidon dig
The new findings shed light on some of the ancient southern port city’s history
[Credit: The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari]

The dig, led by the British Museum under the supervision of Sidon’s Directorate General of Antiquities, has uncovered 171 burials on the Freres site over 21 years, according to the head of the British Museum’s delegation Claude Doumet-Serhal.
The well-preserved grave that was recently unearthed is an important discovery, as it provides information about the traditions of the ancient societies that lived along the Lebanese coast, Doumet-Serhal told The Daily Star Thursday.

4,000-year-old Canaanite warrior grave found in Sidon dig
An archaeologist works on the remains of two skulls discovered at the site
[Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images]

The grave housed the bodies of two adult male warriors, who were found buried with daggers and bronze belts that had been carefully placed near them. The feet of sheep or goats had been placed by the warriors’ feet, meant to accompany them in the afterworld.
Doumet-Serhal said the daggers were not used for fighting, but were significant because they showed the warriors belonged to the society’s elite: “The Canaanites did not bury in such a way unless the dead belonged to the aristocratic and elite class of the Canaanite society.”

4,000-year-old Canaanite warrior grave found in Sidon dig
Bronze dagger in situ [Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images]

DNA taken previously from other Canaanites graves at Freres compared to the DNA of 100 Lebanese showed 95 percent were of Canaanite descent, Doumet-Serhal said, adding, “We were never divided. We were all Canaanites, then we were Phoenicians, then the Romans came, then the Byzantines, then the Arabs.”
Excavations at the site take place for two months each summer, with this year’s dig set to end next week.

4,000-year-old Canaanite warrior grave found in Sidon dig
The find was made at an archaeological dig in Sidon in southern Lebanon
[Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images]

Doumet-Serhal said she hoped excavations would resume next year, as the findings would be included in Sidon’s historical museum when it opens to the public. Doumet-Serhal said the museum would feature artifacts on its first floor, and visitors could visit the dig on the ground floor.
In 2014, Sidon began construction of a museum that would preserve and showcase ruins from the various civilizations that lived in the city over a period of 6,000 years. It is unclear when the museum will open.

4,000-year-old Canaanite warrior grave found in Sidon dig
Aerial view of the Freres archaeological site in Sidon in southern Lebanon
[Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images]

“The belt and the daggers excavated will be placed in this Sidon museum next to all the pieces and artifacts discovered in this site over the course of 21 years,” Doumet-Serhal said.

Authors: Mohammed Zaatari & Sahar Houri | Source: The Daily Star [July 08, 2019]

TANN

Archive

Archaeologists begin first excavations of Boston’s Chinatown

Boston is literally digging its Chinatown. City archaeologist Joe Bagley on Monday launched the first excavations in Boston’s Chinatown, and he expects the dig to turn up artifacts that will shed new light on immigrants—not only those from China but also Syria, Ireland and England who sought new lives in Boston from 1840 to 1980.

Archaeologists begin first excavations of Boston's Chinatown
Volunteers dig and screen soil at the first historical excavation in Boston’s Chinatown
[Credit: Elise Amendola/AP]

Work began at a vacant lot near the ornate gate to the colorful neighborhood. It’s expected to continue until early autumn.
«We’re excited to conduct the first archaeological dig in Boston’s historic Chinatown,» said Mayor Marty Walsh. «Boston is a city of immigrants, and this is an important piece of Boston’s history.»

Archaeologists begin first excavations of Boston's Chinatown
Volunteers Lauryn Poe, left, and Charlie Deknatel, dig and screen soil at the first historical
excavation in Boston’s Chinatown[Credit: Elise Amendola/AP]

Over the years, Boston has unearthed hundreds of archaeological sites.
«Digging into Boston’s past is an exciting experience,» said Bagley, who has led recent excavations of an outhouse next to Paul Revere’s home and the boyhood home of civil rights activist Malcolm X.

Archaeologists begin first excavations of Boston's Chinatown
Volunteer Carole Mooney shows green glass as she screens soil at the first historical
excavation in Boston’s Chinatown [Credit: Elise Amendola/AP]

Carole Mooney, a volunteer, sifted through topsoil at the site and found pieces of porcelain, other pottery and brick. «It all helps tell the story,» she said.
Organizers say the property owner, residents of Chinatown, the Chinese Historical Society of New England and residents of Boston’s Syrian community are involved in the dig.

Archaeologists begin first excavations of Boston's Chinatown
City of Boston archaeologist Joe Bagley digs at the first historical excavation in Boston’s Chinatown
[Credit: Elise Amendola/AP]

In the late 1800s, the neighborhood—now popular with tourists for its restaurants and groceries—drew thousands of newcomers attracted by cheap housing and plentiful warehouse jobs in the adjacent Leather District.
Because the area was underwater until around 1830, researchers don’t expect to find much of interest prior to then, Mooney said.

Archaeologists begin first excavations of Boston's Chinatown
Sarah Keklak, archaeology lab manager for the city of Boston, sorts samples as the first
historical excavation takes place [Credit: Elise Amendola/AP]

But this is Boston, so you never know.

«At the Malcolm X dig, we found a cannonball,» she said. «It shouldn’t have been there—we still aren’t sure how it got there—but there it was.»

Author: William J. Kole | Source: The Associated Press [July 08, 2019]

TANN

Archive

Ancient molar points to interbreeding between archaic humans and Homo sapiens in Asia

An analysis of a 160,000-year-old archaic human molar fossil discovered in China offers the first morphological evidence of interbreeding between archaic humans and Homo sapiens in Asia.

Ancient molar points to interbreeding between archaic humans and Homo sapiens in Asia
The three-rooted lower molar anomaly in a recent Asian individual. Left: tooth sockets showing position
of accessory root; right: three-rooted lower first molar tooth [Credit: Christine Lee]

The study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, centers on a three-rooted lower molar—a rare trait primarily found in modern Asians—that was previously thought to have evolved after H. sapiens dispersed from Africa. The new research points to a different evolutionary path.
«The trait’s presence in the fossil suggests both that it is older than previously understood and that some modern Asian groups obtained the trait through interbreeding with a sister group of Neanderthals, the Densiovans,» explains Shara Bailey, a professor of anthropology at New York University and the paper’s lead author.

In a previous study, published in Nature, Bailey and her colleagues concluded that the Denisovans occupied the Tibetan Plateau long before Homo sapiens arrived in the region.

Ancient molar points to interbreeding between archaic humans and Homo sapiens in Asia
Three-rooted lower second molar of Xiahe Denisovan individual
[Credit: The Max Planck Institute]

That work, along with the new PNAS analysis, focused on a hominin lower mandible found on the Tibetan Plateau in Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe, China in 1980.

The PNAS study, which also included NYU anthropologist Susan Antón and Jean-Jacques Hublin, director of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, centered on the molar, with the aim of understanding the relationship between archaic humans who occupied Asia more than 160,000 years ago and modern Asians.

«In Asia, there have long been claims for continuity between archaic and modern humans because of some shared traits,» observes Bailey.

«But many of those traits are primitive or are not unique to Asians. However, the three-rooted lower molar trait is unique to Asian groups. Its presence in a 160,000-year-old archaic human in Asia strongly suggests the trait was transferred to H. sapiens in the region through interbreeding with archaic humans in Asia.»

Source: New York University [July 08, 2019]

TANN

Archive