Monthly Archives: November 2013

My Blog

This blog was created to combine my interests of archaeology and journalism. For me these two compliment each other as they both contain adventure, curiosity , excitement,  and travel . Archaeologists seek to unravel the past whilst journalists in their reporting of current stories  need to unravel them to get to the bottom of the facts.  Furthermore archaeologists  and their discoveries often cross the path of  journalists. Journalists play a critical role in presenting archaeology to the public.

Long before Hollywood  they helped to shape the romantic  image of the archaeologist as the ultimate adventurer.  A  perfect example of this was  Howard Carter and his discovery of  King Tutankhamun.  Journalists made Carter and his discovery big news. Without them Carter would never have reached the fame he did. Now in the 21st century journalists  still influence the image of archaeology though their reports.

Sandra Di Francesco        CIMG2263

Adventure student reporter for Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia.

Contact: adventuregirl@live.com.au     

 

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Categories: Media & Archaeology | Leave a comment

Syria’s Ancient remains in ruins

“Damage to the heritage of the country is damage to the soul of its people and its identity”, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

War and journalism make for very dangerous partners but in the middle east they are often together.  Conflict gives rise to war reporting. War reporting does a great job at exposing the human life lost in a conflict but under-reports on the cultural heritage lost.  A good example of this is the ongoing crisis  in Syria in which through the media we are told of the human loss ( more than 100,000 people died) but we are not  told about the loss of  cultural heritage. Gunfire and falling bombs and  is a higher priority for reporters than archaeology. I can appreciate this but we must not forget the heritage.

Syria has a rich historical past with having had influence from people like the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. My mind boggles at the thought of so much of this history going up in flames. Syria of course is just one example of a war torn country’s lost heritage. Much heritage has been lost in places like Iraq and Afghanistan also rich in history.

Conflict in Syria taken from NPR

 

Beautiful Crusader Castle in Syria taken from PRI

Many Syrians are using centuries old castles as hiding places and fortresses from the enemy. The ancient cities of Aleppo and Palmyra are being  pounded constantly by  tanks. They have suffered enormous damage. Palmyra known as the Bride of the Desert was the most visited tourist site in Syria given its impressive Roman ruins and its previous state of excellent preservation. I still remember seeing it on my television screen back in early 2000 when travel show Getaway was filming a segment there.

The presenter was mesmerized by the city. Fast forward now to 2013 and im certain that presenter would be horrified at what he would  see. Apart from ancient cities, museums in Syria are being looted for their treasures. With war comes poverty and unemployment  so many Syrians are trying to sell relics to make money. Their number one goal is survival. UNSECCO is doing all it can to protect as much heritage as possible with the resources it has. Often its very difficult as its representatives risk death entering a war zone.

The Great Citadel of Aleppo taken from monuments of Syria

 

Palmyra taken from National Geographic

I have great admiration for Balázs Major, an archaeology professor from Hungary’s Pázmány Péter Catholic University. He  has been researching in Syria for 15 years.  He has made it a mission of his to do what he can to preserve the heritage.

Currently amongst the chaos he is exploring the site of Margat, one of the biggest medieval Knight’s  castles in the Middle East. Earlier this year Euronews journalists caught up with him to find about his work. He started excavating this castle in 2006 and is still involved in its excavation. Previously he had a team of volunteers with him, many Hungarian and Syrian students but now with the conflict he is a solo worker. He hopes that they return one day when it is safe.

Fortress of Margat taken from Time Magazine

Extra information;

http://www.euronews.com/2013/07/10/the-cultural-cost-of-conflict-syria-s-ancient-treasures-in-ruins-/ with videos of damage

http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1073    –  UNESCO  Red alert list of 6 heritage sites in danger

Categories: Middle East Archaeology | Leave a comment

Syria’s Ancient Remains in Ruins

“Damage to the heritage of the country is damage to the soul of its people and its identity”, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

War and journalism make for very dangerous partners but in the middle east they are often together.  Conflict gives rise to war reporting. War reporting does a great job at exposing the human life lost in a conflict but under-reports on the cultural heritage lost.  A good example of this is the ongoing crisis  in Syria in which through the media we are told of the human loss ( more than 100,000 people died) but we are not  told about the loss of  cultural heritage. Gunfire and falling bombs and  is a higher priority for reporters than archaeology. I can appreciate this but we must not forget the heritage.

Syria has a rich historical past with having had influence from people like the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. My mind boggles at the thought of so much of this history going up in flames. Syria of course is just one example of a war torn country’s lost heritage. Much heritage has been lost in places like Iraq and Afghanistan also rich in history.

Conflict in Syria taken from NPR

 

Beautiful Crusader Castle in Syria taken from PRI

Many Syrians are using centuries old castles as hiding places and fortresses from the enemy. The ancient cities of Aleppo and Palmyra are being  pounded constantly by  tanks. They have suffered enormous damage. Palmyra known as the Bride of the Desert was the most visited tourist site in Syria given its impressive Roman ruins and its previous state of excellent preservation. I still remember seeing it on my television screen back in early 2000 when travel show Getaway was filming a segment there.

The presenter was mesmerized by the city. Fast forward now to 2013 and im certain that presenter would be horrified at what he would  see. Apart from ancient cities, museums in Syria are being looted for their treasures. With war comes poverty and unemployment  so many Syrians are trying to sell relics to make money. Their number one goal is survival. UNSECCO is doing all it can to protect as much heritage as possible with the resources it has. Often its very difficult as its representatives risk death entering a war zone.

The Great Citadel of Aleppo taken from monuments of Syria

 

Palmyra taken from National Geographic

I have great admiration for Balázs Major, an archaeology professor from Hungary’s Pázmány Péter Catholic University. He  has been researching in Syria for 15 years.  He has made it a mission of his to do what he can to preserve the heritage.

Currently amongst the chaos he is exploring the site of Margat, one of the biggest medieval Knight’s  castles in the Middle East. Earlier this year Euronews journalists caught up with him to find about his work. He started excavating this castle in 2006 and is still involved in its excavation. Previously he had a team of volunteers with him, many Hungarian and Syrian students but now with the conflict he is a solo worker. He hopes that they return one day when it is safe.

Fortress of Margat taken from Time Magazine

Extra information;

http://www.euronews.com/2013/07/10/the-cultural-cost-of-conflict-syria-s-ancient-treasures-in-ruins-/ with videos of damage

http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1073    –  UNESCO  Red alert list of 6 heritage sites in danger

Categories: Middle East Archaeology | Tags: | Leave a comment

Google Earth Discovers New Pyramids?

Giant 'pyramid'

Google earth image of supposed pyramid taken from news.com.au

Mounds of sand spotted in the Egyptian desert using Google Earth could be the site of long lost pyramids. In 2012  American researcher Angela Micol  announced that  new and undiscovered pyramids were in the Egyptian desert.  She claimed that through using Google earth she found these pyramids. http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/more-pyramids-uncovered-by-google-earth-search/story-e6frfq80-1226449900356

Her findings  were met with much criticism by scholars  who dismissed the images as nothing more than anomalies and wind formed sand formations. Since then American archaeologists have used satellite imagery to discover 17 buried pyramids in Egypt as well as a thousand tombs and 3000 buildings from the time of the Pharaohs.  http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/american-archaeologists-discover-17-buried-pyramids-in-egypt/story-e6frfq80-1226063109487

I wonder if these scholars are still critical?  This is the stuff of adventure reporting and one in which journalists like to romanticize  it in the press. Egypt’s tourism is at an all time low with its political climate so these discoveries  along with the media  could be just what the country needs to boost its tourism. We see that Micol’s discovery and the later ones by  archaeologists have made headlines. A basic Google search  shows  the Daily Mail, Fox News and BBC to have covered it.

I was astounded when i first read about Michol’s findings in an article from news.com.au . Infact i nearly fell off the  chair at my university library.  I always thought that the existing  pyramids in Egypt  were the only ones. Its hard for my mind to comprehend how such large structures including now cities and tombs can be hidden underneath the sands for so many centuries undiscovered.

Then again Egypt is a land of severe sand storms that have covered up many of its treasures. According to some archaeologists there is still over 80% of undiscovered finds. In 1914 a whole expedition of  48 British explorers  vanished in a sand storm in the desert never to be found.

Smaller mounds found by Ms Micol still measure up to 330 feet across

Another Google Earth image of supposed pyramids taken from Daily Mail

Giza Pyramids taken from all-informationz.blogspot

Google Earth and satellite imagery in general  are powerful technologies initially used by governments and military  to locate enemy structures  and assist  with spying. Now they are available to many people like archaeologists  as well as reporters  who make use of them for their stories. I believe these technologies will aid archaeological discoveries in this decade.

Extra info;

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Categories: Egypt Archaeology | Tags: | Leave a comment

From Jericho to Jerusalem

Jericho and Jerusalem are two of the world’s oldest cites and hence are a pot of gold for archaeologists. They have yielded thousands of  finds of huge historical value. For journalists they are a pot of gold as well as these finds have been covered by them as well in numerous media like BAR magazine.

Now from 23 Oct 2013 to 6 April 2014 an important collection of artefacts from these cities dating to the Bronze (2300-1200 B.C.E)  and Iron age (1200-550 B.C. E.) is on display at the Ian Potter Museum of Art  at the University of Melbourne. These artefacts were found on the excavations of archaeologist, Dame Kathleen Kenyon(1906-1978). She made headlines back in the 1950s for her work in Jericho and then in the 1960’s for her work in Jerusalem. In Britain many reporters followed her findings closely.

This exhibition showcases terracotta figurines, loom weights, spindle whorls and many pottery vessels from tombs at Jericho, excavated by Kenyon from 1952–54, and from her 1967 excavations at Jerusalem. These objects were used in daily life and are beautifully made.  These objects were given to the University of Melbourne as a teaching collection in return for the financial support for Kenyon’s excavations. Below is a short video of the exhibition ;

Over 100 remarkable ceramics (pots) are on display from the digs. The curator of this exhibition Dr Andrew Jamieson, said as well as showing important archaeological objects from these cities the exhibition tells the story of Kenyon’s contribution to Middle Eastern archaeology.

He said, “Best known for her excavations at Jericho and Jerusalem, she helped train a whole generation of archaeologists, including Australian scholar Basil Hennessey, who went on to become Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney.

“Kathleen Kenyon’s work continues to resonate throughout the archaeological world. Her field methods and scientific techniques strengthened the discipline of archaeology. She is often credited with popularizing archaeology,” Dr Jamieson said.

 

Extra info;

http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/melbourne_details.php?id=58981#.Unsr1-KMWSo

Categories: Middle East Archaeology | Tags: | Leave a comment

Nazi Bunkers discovered off Danish Coast

One of my all time favourite Nazi archaeological discoveries was the discovery of three Nazi bunkers on a Danish coast back in 2008. Although its old news  in the world of journalism i wanted to write about them. Their discovery came when i was in my second year of digging a second war bunker  in Melbourne.  They were remarkably preserved being found in literally the same condition as they were on the day the last Nazi soldiers had left them. The tobacco in one soldier’s pipe and a half finished bottle of schnapps was testimony to this. Like so many amazing finds around the world they were not found by archaeologists but rather by two nine-year-old boys on vacation with their parents, who then informed the authorities.

This bunker was entombed under the sand dunes until a violent storm swept away the sands three months ago

Interior view of section of bunker taken from the Daily Mail

The bunkers had not been touched since the war

Exposed bunker taken from Daily Mail

When the archaeologists arrived they were in awe of what they found. “What’s so fantastic is that we found them completely furnished with beds, ‘chairs, tables, communication systems and the personal effects of the soldiers who lived inside,”said Jens Andersen, the curator of the Hanstholm museum. Bent Anthonisen, a Danish expert on European bunkers said, ”The discovery of the fully-furnished bunkers was  unique in Europe.”  These bunkers were just three of 7,000 built by the Nazi’s  as part of Hitler’s  ‘Atlantic  Wall‘ from Norway to the south of France.

Expert Tommy Cassoe: 'It was as if the Nazis had just left yesterday'

Archaeologist Tommy Cassoe posing in front of entrance taken from Daily Mail

The vast majority of such bunkers have been  looted and destroyed, but these three owe their survival to sand dunes that completely  entombed them. This happened back in 1945 when the Germans surrendered.Giant waves caused by huge storms swept away the sand revealing them. Ive often thought that nature is such a paradox, in its path of destruction it can uncover treasure without destroying it.

The items in these bunkers like boots, mustard bottles, inkpots and stamps featuring Hitler were quite fragile so its  amazing that they were so well preserved. They were of course taken to a laboratory at Oelgod museum to be examined and treated.

stamps

Stamps showing Hitler found in bunker taken from Daily Mail

The center’s  German curator, Gert Nebrich, deemed the finds  very  interesting due to their rarity. He said “We don’t expect contemporary objects like these to be so well preserved.  Maybe it’s because they were kept for 60 years in the cold and dark like in a  big vacuum.”
The Nazis would have shut the doors of the bunker sometime in 1945 and then would have gone to the nearest town to surrender. This makes these bunkers  a moment frozen in time !.
Extra info

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1041240/Sea-unearths-secret-Nazi-bunkers-lay-hidden-50-years.html

 
 
Categories: Military Archaeology | Tags: | Leave a comment

Repurposing of content

  • Re purposing and diversification  is a big part of the media landscape in the 21st century. For my blog i have re-purposed several content to adapt to my pieces which consist of the following ;
  1. Two written news stories which i submitted for journalism subjects at my university. These are the feature story on Melbourne archaeology and the tales from the trenches of Gallipoli. I added photos sourced from Google to these and changed some basic wording along with adding external links. This was done to appeal to my audience.
  2. Sections of my old lecture notes from middle eastern archaeology, a unit i undertook in my undergraduate degree in 2003  were re-purposed. My post on an overview of what middle eastern archaeology is basically comes from these notes.
  3. The various YouTube videos i have inserted into some of my posts have been  repurposed  into my blog and linked of course to my arguments. These videos have undergone several stages of repurposing as often they have been screened on a television network than adopted to YouTube and then adopted to my blog. I don’t own the content though so its been remixed.
  4. Sections of my diary of the Merri Creek bunker dig 2007-2009 were repurposed as i selected relevant passages from it to  write up my post on the bunker. In addition the photos i took of the dig which originally were  in an archaeological piece i wrote were added to my  blog.
  5. The numerous photos in my posts  i have taken from Google are all repurposed as well as remixed from other sites and applied to my blog. One example is my use of Tintin pictures which i have taken from several websites. These pictures  originally came from the illustrations  of Herge the creator of Tintin and then they have been repurposed over the years into many different mediums on the internet as well into different  mediums in print format. What we seen then is repurposing and remixing on a huge global scale.
  6. My posts  on Nazi bunkers discovered off the Danish Coast in 2008 as well Pyramids found in Egypt  were repurposed as well as remixed from  online news articles i found. I extracted some of the information and photos featured to write up my piece.
  7.  I took a quote from UNSECO chief of staff found on the unsei website and inserted it into my post on Syria’s ancient past in ruins. This quote was origianlly used in a press release then used on unis webpage and then adopted for my post.
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archaeology and the Media

Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark taken from archaeologists in the media blogspot

Ive always found the media’ s representation of archaeologists quite amusing and appealing. At 15 years of age when i decided i wanted, to be an archaeologist and told my family and friends, Indiana Jones came up in conversation. I still remember my brother Luke’s expression when i told him. He asked,  do you want to be Indiana Jones’? Yes, the female version i replied. What archaeologist doesn’t secretly dream of being Indiana Jones ?  I mean that man has it easy in stumbling across relics like one would open a fridge and find milk.

Real life archaeologists have to work much harder than him in order to make discoveries. They spend far more time on research than in the outdoors like Indy. When they do get out it could take years to make a discovery.  This is not to say that archaeology is dull , far from it. It gives you adventure to last a lifetime. Through archaeology you venture into some many different cultures and beliefs. Its a vast jigsaw puzzle that you need to find the pieces to  put together. Sometimes you will never find the piece as its been lost with time. Gaps remain and its these gaps that make archaeology sexy and mysterious. The media plays heavily on this image as it portrays archaeology as sexy and mysterious. Most reporters writing a story on archaeology will make it sexy and mysterious to appeal to their readers.

Indiana Jones has influenced the way people perceive archaeology on a global scale. Most people upon hearing the word archaeology associate it  with Indiana Jones. He is part of pop culture and helps reporters write their story.  When archaeology makes news  i notice that reporters  glamorize the story with an overtone of an Indy mythology. Age reporter Stephen Cauchi’s story on a second world war bunker dig does this well.

There are some archaeologists very critical of their industry  portrayal  but in all i belive most  are happy given it gets  their work out there. I mean if you need to put on a bit of an Indy for the media and then receive funding for your work , go for it.  I think the accounting profession could do with an Indiana Jones figure  for their industry. It  would really help their image.

I believe that after Indiana Jones, the Time Team television series  has really revolutionized  the way people see archaeology. Many  people these days think of Time Team when archaeology is mentioned. In the UK, reporters have often interviewed members of Time Team helping to further spread its popularity. Melbourne based archaeologist Jim Wheeler said that the best thing for archaeology in Australia is to have a Time Team Australia. What a great idea but what a  pity that currently nothing  of the sort exists.

Image of Time Team Uk taken from Daily Mail

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Tales from the trenches at Gallipoli

 

 

Ancient Roman roof tiles, pots, coins, as well as Anzac soldiers’ buttons, food tin remains and bullets are just some of the items archaeologists have recently uncovered at Gallipoli.


Roman roof tile taken from wikipedia

Roman pot taken from ancient touch

Roman coin taken from

Anzac button taken from medals gone missing

Food tin taken from

WW1 bullets taken from

For the first time archaeology is being used to study Gallipoli. A team of Australian, New Zealand and Turkish researchers are involved. Work began in 2010 and ends in 2015.

            

The team has recorded several kilometres of trenches and found nearly a thousand items using GPS units and ground -surveying technology, University of Melbourne archaeologist Antonio Sagona has said.

Professor Sagona said, just in 2012 alone 480 items had been found, consisting of items ranging from Roman pots to Anzac food tins and shrapnel. Trenches, dugouts and tunnels have also been found.

      

According to him, archaeology reveals a new side to Gallipoli which is important to our history as a nation. It gives us physical remains that we can see and touch.

Professor Sagona said some of the trenches at Lone Pine rest on top of an ancient Roman settlement.  Past Melbourne University Classics student Sarah Midford said the Anzacs had found Roman items consisting of coins and pottery when digging the trenches.

The Anzac letters reveal that the troops complained about the monotony of eating tinned food. Sagona said all the food- tin remains in the trenches are from the Anzac side, not the Turkish side. The Turks cooked their food and as a result there are no processed foods on their side.

 

“Archaeology can provide information on day-to-day activities in the trenches, dugouts and tunnels, which can be compared to the documentary evidence.

 “We can’t recreate horror like the sound of gunfire and the shouting, but the remnant material culture is vivid all the same.”

 Sarah Midford said, “Gallipoli isn’t just 1915, there are so many layers.” It’s an ancient site that has witnessed conflict for thousands of years.

Midford linked the Anzac campaign with the Trojan War. Troy is close to Gallipoli. She said, the Anzacs had been defeated amid the same landscape as the Trojans.

     

She said,” Gallipoli is a site of cultural significance for the whole Western world because of the Trojan War.”

Alexander, Julius and Augustus Caesar visited Troy to pay their respects.  Now Australians in their thousands come to Gallipoli to do the same.

            

Both Midford and Sagona hope to see the archaeology of Gallipoli become part of the yearly commemorations and be part of Australian history education.

Both think it will add another layer to our history. They also hope future tourists will walk the battlefield and see the archaeology, not just the war history.

Extra Info;

Professor Antonio Sagona : Classics and Archaeology at Melbourne University,  a.sagona@unimelb.edu.au.   

Sarah Midford, Research Associate at Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Latrobe University: s.midford@latrobe.edu.

For more information on the archaeology of Gallipoli visit the following sites;

http://www.archaeology.org/issues/92-1305/letter-from/765-anzac-gallipoli-wwi-battlefield-allied-german-ottoman  article on Gallipoli fieldwork in Archaeology magazine

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/largest-archaeological-survey-of-gallipoli-uncovers-dozens-of-artefacts/story-e6freon6-1226036825585 news article on Gallipoli archaeology

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Nazi Bunkers unearthed off Danish Coast

One of my all time favourite Nazi archaeological discoveries was the discovery of three Nazi bunkers on a Danish coast back in 2008. Although its old news  in the world of journalism i wanted to write about them. Their discovery came when i was in my second year of digging a second war bunker  in Melbourne.  They were remarkably preserved being found in literally the same condition as they were on the day the last Nazi soldiers had left them. The tobacco in one soldier’s pipe and a half finished bottle of schnapps was testimony to this. Like so many amazing finds around the world they were not found by archaeologists but rather by two nine-year-old boys on vacation with their parents, who then informed the authorities.

This bunker was entombed under the sand dunes until a violent storm swept away the sands three months ago

Interior view of section of bunker taken from the Daily Mail

The bunkers had not been touched since the war

Exposed bunker taken from Daily Mail

When the archaeologists arrived they were in awe of what they found. “What’s so fantastic is that we found them completely furnished with beds, ‘chairs, tables, communication systems and the personal effects of the soldiers who lived inside,”said Jens Andersen, the curator of the Hanstholm museum. Bent Anthonisen, a Danish expert on European bunkers said, ”The discovery of the fully-furnished bunkers was  unique in Europe.”  These bunkers were just three of 7,000 built by the Nazi’s  as part of Hitler’s  ‘Atlantic  Wall‘ from Norway to the south of France.

Expert Tommy Cassoe: 'It was as if the Nazis had just left yesterday'

Archaeologist Tommy Cassoe posing in front of entrance taken from Daily Mail

The vast majority of such bunkers have been  looted and destroyed, but these three owe their survival to sand dunes that completely  entombed them. This happened back in 1945 when the Germans surrendered.Giant waves caused by huge storms swept away the sand revealing them. Ive often thought that nature is such a paradox, in its path of destruction it can uncover treasure without destroying it.

The items in these bunkers like boots, mustard bottles, inkpots and stamps featuring Hitler were quite fragile so its  amazing that they were so well preserved. They were of course taken to a laboratory at Oelgod museum to be examined and treated.

stamps

Stamps showing Hitler found in bunker taken from Daily Mail

The center’s  German curator, Gert Nebrich, deemed the finds  very  interesting due to their rarity. He said “We don’t expect contemporary objects like these to be so well preserved.  Maybe it’s because they were kept for 60 years in the cold and dark like in a  big vacuum.”
The Nazis would have shut the doors of the bunker sometime in 1945 and then would have gone to the nearest town to surrender. This makes these bunkers  a moment frozen in time !.
Extra info

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1041240/Sea-unearths-secret-Nazi-bunkers-lay-hidden-50-years.html

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