Category: prad - Part 2

Dreaming of becoming an Archaeology Intern? Let our Zahi Hawass Videos Inspire You!

Dr Zahi Hawass is the star of new History Channel series 'Chasing Mummies', but if that's not your cup of tea, then why not watch his Heritage Key videos?Ever thought about a job that takes you across the length and breadth of Egypt, exploring the desert sands to find treasures and valuable artefacts that haven’t been touched in thousands of years?A career which gives you responsibility for some of the most famous and significant finds in history (as well as trying to get back others)?A vocation which earns you the nickname “Pharaoh” for your control over who gets to uncover the antiquities still to be found amidst the heat. And lets not forget starring in your own History Channel TV show!

Dr Zahi Hawass, the Director of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities is such the man, known in the archaeology world as “The Pharaoh” for this tough style. His TVshow “Chasing Mummies” has recieved mixed reactions, but nevertheless, it can’t be denied that Dr Hawass holds one of archaeology’s most inspiring jobs.

Though the History Channel’s take on Zahi may leave audiences confused on the amount of actual archaeology they’re learning about, Heritage Key can offer you more of an Egyptology insight from Zahi Hawass, and we have several videos and images to show it!

HD Video: The Discovery of an Intact Tomb at Saqqara (ft. Dr. Hawass)

Check out the map below to see some of our collection of videos featuring Dr Hawass as he shares his knowledge of Ancient Egypt and explores some of the tombs hidden away in the Sahara, and be inspired by the amazing treasures still being uncovered today!

The full list of Heritage Key videos featuring Dr Zahi Hawass:

You can watch Heritage Key’s full collection of videos on the Video Page, including Kathleen Martinez and her search with Dr Hawass for the Tomb of Cleopatra and Dr Janice Kamrin giving a tour of Animal Iconography in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. And see the Golden Mask and visit the Valley of the Kings, as well as much much more in Heritage Key Virtual, where you can also explore the famous Tomb of King Tutankhamun!

Impromptu Dance Performance in the British Museum

Three impromtu dancers captivated the audience in front of the Nereid Monument in the British Museum. Image Credit - Prad Patel.It was with odd reluctance that I took the hand of a pretty young girl in Room 17 of the British Museum on Saturday afternoon as she dragged me to the opposite side of the hall containing the stunning Nereid Monument, but through her broken English, she assured me I wasn’t about to meet my maker as she placed me in position in a crowd slowly forming a circle.

I’ve visited the British Museum in Bloomsbury, London countless number of times, but I’d never seen what was about to happen next. It took me a moment to realise the girl who’d been so insistent on taking my hand was not wearing any shoes, and then I noticed her attire, which probably wouldn’t have been amiss in ancient times. On spotting the topless young man, I realised that something was about to happen which would require a camera. What happened next was nothing like the surreal protest against the BP Oil Spill that hit the British Museum last week, but an unexpected dance performance in the space in front of the Nereid Monument.

Watch the slideshow to see photographs of the dance performance, which lasted for approximately 15 minutes and was nicely composed and synchronised. There was no music, but there didn’t need to be – the three dancers moved around with grace as the crowd looked on with wide smiles. The trio were very animated in their movement and interacted with the crowd as part of the dance routine, running up to the various people stood around and examining them in curiosity (including yours truly, who was a resting post for topless young man).

The trio finally settled on a young lady in a black dress who was then blindfolded and became part of the performance, worshipped by the trio of dancers as she demises to the ground before being slowly revived. As her shoes are returned to her, the trio discreetly disappeared before I could find out who they are or anything more about the performance.

Were you at the British Museum on Saturday afternoon and witness the performance in Room 17? Have you seen other improptu performances at the British Museum? Leave a comment below!

Marden Henge Excavations Reveal Prehistoric Building

ripple flaked arrowhead,

Archaeologists have uncovered a 4,500 year old dwelling at the site of Marden Henge. Click to skip to the video.An Update on the dig at Marden Henge – Archaeologists have uncovered a 4,500 year old dwelling!

According to the BBC, English Heritage volunteer archaeologist Jim Leary was excited by the discovery, saying “It’s exceeded all of our expectations”. The dwelling appears to have been constructed between 2500BC-2400BC and appears to be different to a normal home, with Leary suggesting it may have been a priest’s quarters.

The finds echo those discovered a couple of years ago at Durrington Walls where several neolithic dwellings were also discovered. The newly discovered dwelling at Marden Henge, Wiltshire included an oven known as a hearth, which was regularly cleaned by the occupant. “Just outside the front door we can see this long spread of charcoal and general rubbish material”, Leary told the BBC.

Finds at the site’s archaeological dig also included a ripple flaked arrowhead, fresh flint flakes, pottery and bone pins, offering an insight into the history of the dwelling. On the 15th of July, EHArchaeology tweeted “Looks like we may have a Durrington Walls style neolithic building surface at #mardenhenge. Need to confirm that but looks promising.”

The henge definitely has plenty of features thatshould get experts excited. In the centre is a huge mound, similar to nearby Silbury Hill, which collapsed in 1806 and was completely flattened by 1817. The team is working on dating the material in its centre. A large circular feature, surrounded by a bank and gullies, is also being scoured as the mystery of Marden unravels.

EHArchaeology tweeted “Looks like we may have a Durrington Walls style neolithic building surface at #mardenhenge. Need to confirm that but looks promising.”

The archaeological excavations were accompanied by geophysical and topographical studies to understand and preserve what English Heritage archaeologist Jim Leary says is an ancient sleeping giant. “Marden Henge deserves to be understood more partly because of its size, but also due to its proximity to the more famous stone circles at Avebury and Stonehenge,” he says. “The relationship between the latter two sites – chronology of their construction, whether it is built by the same people, how they were used, etc – is of immense interest” adds Leary.

During the 18th century a skeleton and deer antlers were found within the bank of Hatfield Earthworks, a key feature of the Marden Henge site.The archaeological dig uncovered Neolithic pottery, animal bones, antler picks, stone tools, and a human skeleton from the ditch. A Romano-British disc brooch made of bronze was also found. The nearby Hatfield Barrow are the remains of a large mound barrow which once stood 15 metres high, and 64 metres in diameter.

HD Video: Digital Digging – Marden Henge

Digital Digging recently created a fantastic video based on Google Earth using an illustration by Philip Crocker, from Sir Richard Colt Hoare’s “Ancient Wiltshire” (1812) and overlaying onto the site to show clearly the distinct features of the site, including Hatfield Barrow. You can check out more reconstructions by Digital Digging of Durrington and Avebury here.

The discovery comes hot off the heels of the announcement of the discovery of a henge at Stonehenge, hailed as the most significant find at the Salisbury Plains site in 50 years. Marden Henge finds itself sited between UNESCO World Heritage sites of Stonehenge and Avebury.

You can watch the sun rise over Stonehenge from your own home with Stonehenge Virtual. Meet Neolithic builders, wander through the stones and even try putting a trithlon up yourself.

Radar Reveals Ancient Egyptian City at Tell El-Dab’a

The Austrian mission at Tell el-Daba has located the southern suburban quarters of the ancient city of Avaris, it was announced. Image courtesy of the SCA. Click to explore a larger versionEgypt’s Cultural Minister Farouk Hosni announced today that the Austrian mission at Tell el-Daba has located the southern suburban quarters of the ancient city of Avaris, the capital of the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period (1664-1569 BC). The excavation team found this area using a combination of magnetometry and resistivity surveys.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that the computer-generated images of the city, which is still buried under the ground, show a very detailed layout of ancient Avaris. Several architectural features including houses, temples, streets, cemeteries and palaces can be seen. The team has also been able to make out the arrangement of neighborhoods and living quarters

Using such a special scientific survey to locate such a city is the only way to gain a better understanding of such a large area at one time, Hawass pointed out.

Tell-el Dab’ais strategically placed, giving whoever controls it access to the Sinai, Levant and southern Egypt. It was abandoned for a time, after the Hyksos were driven out of Egypt. It was rebuilt during the 18th dynasty of Egypt. It included three palaces, indicating that it was used by Egyptian royalty. The most astonishing finds so far were the Minoan frescoes that decorated two of the palaces. These depict bull-leaping scenes. They are similar in many respects to the frescoes painted at the Palace of Knossos in Crete.

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Dr. Irene Forstner-Mller, Director of the mission said that approximately 2.6 square kilometers have been investigated using a combination of geophysical survey and excavation.

She explained that the aim of the magnetometric and resistivity surveys were to define the borders of ancient Avaris. The team has succeeded in identifying a collection of houses and a possible harbor area. A series of pits of different sizes are also visible but their function has not yet been determined.

Magnetometry and resistance tomography form just two of the new techniques being employed by archaeologists when undertaking geophysical survey and sub-surface investigations who also implement topographic mapping, drill coring, GPR and laser scanning, indicating how technology is changing the trade.

Stonehenge Film ‘Remnants’ Explores the Megalithic Civilisation

The world’s most photogenic stone circle, Stonehenge, is the subject of a film called “Remnants” by Grant Wakefield which explores the Neolithic civilisation, looking at how we know so little about a culture which spanned over 3 millennia. With the Summer Solstice 2010 this weekend, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the beauty of this sacred ancient site. Heritage Key also has explored Stonehenge during the Spring Equinox (Watch the Video), and talked to Druid Frank Somers about how the stones came to be (Watch the Video).

The Neolithic people vanished without leaving anything but their remnants, and it is these fascinating stones which form the subject of Grant Wakefield’s film, which is produced in association with SKY SKAN Europe Inc.

The film itself started off as a short, black and white timelapse film produced for large format digital cinema, and has developed over the years into a project which is a 40 minute feature film. Using the latest technology in digital SLR cameras and shooting over 18 months, the project captures the magic of Stonehenge to perfection.

The beautiful sunset and motion of the sky across Stonehenge are not unlike the beautiful detail work that has gone into Stonehenge Virtual, from Heritage Key which features digital recreations of different eras in the stages of Stonehenge. The virtual experience shows how the Neolithic civilisation developed and added to the famous stone circle, which you can see for yourself in Stonehenge Virtual for free!

Stonehenge remains one of the most mysterious ancient sites in the world, and Grant Wakefield’s film explores various stone circles to raise the question of what happened to the people who originally created these stone circles. And if they disappeared, leaving only remnants of their civilisation, what is not to say that our own fragile society, with its dependence on oil and the threat of climate change not suffer a similar fate to the Neolithic people? The film shows the stones as they stand today, and portray the eroding effect that modern society has placed upon them.

HD Video: Grant Wakefield’s “Remnants”

Grant Wakefield has completed about three quarters of shooting for the Remnants film, and is seeking funds to complete filming work at Newgrange, Stonehenge and London and to complete post production work. In addition, he’s also working on an Archaeoastronomy film about Stonehenge called “Ancient Skies”, and you can catch up with our lecture with Astronomer Paul Murdin who talks about this very subject (Watch the Video). If you want further information about this fascinating project, you can contact Grant by email.

If you’re heading out to go out to Salisbury Plain for the Summer Solstice with your own camera, check out our tips for photographing Stonehenge.And – we can’t stress this enough – dress warm!

Daily Flickr Finds: China Roamer’s Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, China is a holy site for Buddhists, and a well preserved ancient relic. Built in 652 using a simple style of construction, the structure was created to hold Buddhist relics taken from India. It stands at 64.5 metres high, and its walls are engraved with fine statues of Buddha and calligraphy.

China Roamer’s photograph shows a scene from the North Square – a 110,000 square metre waterscape and fountains plaza, the largest of its type inAsia. Composed completely of fountains, gardens, paths and sculptures, the area is perfectly portrayed in this night-time photograph. The lighting gives the image an electrifying feel, and certainly portrays energy and movement at this ancient relic.

So why is it called the Big Wild Goose Pagoda? Legend has it that in ancient times, there were two branches of Buddhists, one of which had no taboo against eating meat. On a day when they could find no meat to purchase, one of the monks prayed for some meat as some wild geese were flying overhead. Upon praying, the leading goose’s wings broke and it fell to earth, much to the astonishment of the monks watching! They repented their meat-eating ways and established the Pagoda at the exact spot where the bird landed.

Flat Earth Theory: Ancient Greeks Debunk the Modern Myth

During a recent lecture I attended by astronomer Paul Murdin, which was hosted by Heritage Key, I learnt something which fascinated me. One of the commonly held beliefs has been that ancient societies before the Age of Discovery believed that the world was flat, but when I raised this during the Q&Asession after the lecture, I was surprised that this is what is known as ‘The Myth of the Flat Earth‘.

That’s not to say there’s nothing in the belief that our ancestors feared falling off the edge of the world. Some ancient civilisations did indeed think that the world was flat, stemming from some of the world’s oldest writings, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh which says for on that mountain top we can capture Humbaba and hurl his earthly form fromtowering cliffs through sky toearth, making his shapeas flat and wide as it is round and high.” Such interpretations of various ancient scriptures led to the common belief of the Flat Earth within early Mesopotamian, Ancient Egyptian, early Greek and pre-classical Indian society. Indeed, the Chinese didn’t question the Flat Earth theory until the arrival of Western Astronomical studies in the 17th Century AD!

However, as early as the 6th Century BC, Pythagoras had declared that the planet was a spherical body, even though many of his peers held the belief that it was flat. It wasn’t until Aristotle offered evidence of the Earth being a sphere around 330BC, observing how the constellations appeared higher above the horizon in the southern regions than they did in the northern regions, and that elevated lights were visible to sailors from further distances than those at low-lying ground level.

According to the historian Stephen Jay Gould (Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History, 1996), the Greek knowledge of a spherical Earth has been held throughout the Middle Ages and never faded to the modern day. The supposed period of ‘Flat Earth Darkness’ is simply a modern misconception of history – Christian scholars were fully aware of Earth’s spherical shape and even were able to calculate the circumference of the planet.

HD Video: Episode 10 – Archaeoastronomy

Click here to view the transcript of this video.

So how did we get it so wrong in the modern age?Fingers point to an 1820s publication The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Washington Irving – a biographical account which, as it turns out, is littered with errors. Irving made the claim that Columbus faced heavy opposition to his theory that the world was a sphere, when in actual fact, 14th Century academics did not question that the world was spherical, but rather were attempting to calculate the size of it as they did not believe they could make it to Japan on the supplies they planned to take.

Irving’s account also made the claim that Columbus’ ship crew feared that they would sail right off the edge of the Earth. Again, this is balderdash – the actual fear of the crew was that they were running low on food, and their supplies would sustain them for as long as it would take to reach Japan. Of course, Columbus did make it to land and inadvertently discovered the Americas, rather than making the journey to Japan. The academics (and crew) were right – they would never have made it to Japan on the supplies they’d taken.

This map of the Flat Earth theory suggests the world is surrounded with ice.Another book published a few years later in 1834 by Jean Antoine Letronne entitled On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers misrepresented the Church as holding onto the belief of a Flat Earth. Such written accounts in modern times have contributed to our commonly held assumptions about our Medieval and Ancient ancestors’ belief in the Flat Earth.

So surely the Flat Earth Theory is completely expunged now, as we constantly criss-cross the globe and occasionally launch into outer space?

Not quite – there are a small group known as the Flat Earth Society who hold the firm belief that the Earth is flat, and that idea of a spherical world is actually an international conspiracy fabricated by scientists, space agencies and governments. Writing off copious amounts of evidence which proved the spherical nature of the Earth, and of course, claiming the Moon landings as being fake, the Flat Earthers cling to the idea, even though our ancestors didn’t.

Haiti Charity Fundraiser Concert Live at Stonehenge Virtual with Kirsty Hawkshaw

Singer and songwriter Kirsty Hawkshaw is going to be playing a special concert to raise money in aid of the crisis in Haiti on Saturday 27th March 2010 at 8PM(GMT). Heritage Key will be streaming the concert at Stonehenge Virtual where you too can listen and donate to the cause online.

The earthquake in Haiti has created a humanitarian crisis and the effort to raise money in ongoing. Funds raised from the concert on Saturday night will go towards the foundry/haiti fund which has been formed by The Foundry in London in partnership with Ghetto Biennale, an artisan community in the Haitian captial Port-au-Prince.

Donate to the Foundry/Haiti Fund

Kirsty Hawkshaw will be performing live at the George &Dragon pub in Chesham, Buckinghamshire as part of a night of entertainment which aims to raise much needed funds for Haiti. I’ll be heading down to show my support (wave if you spot me!) and to stream the event into Heritage Key’s Stonehenge Virtual. If you can’t be there in person, then be there in avatar – it’s simple, quick and free to register, and on Saturday night you can join us for great music as we raise money for this fantastic cause!

HD Video: Haiti Charity Fundraiser Concert Live at Stonehenge Virtual with Kirsty Hawkshaw

(Transcription of this video.)

To donate to the Foundry/Haiti fund, click this link and then choose the Paypal options to add your support.

Daily Flickr Finds: Manju’s London Sphinx

The Sphinx of London, next to Cleopatra's Needle. Image Credit - Manju.Two iron-cast faux-Egyptian Sphinxes flank the either side of Cleopatra’s Needle in the City of Westminster, London. Although the original intention of the Sphinxes would have been to appear to be guarding the needle, an installation error means they are both facing the needle instead. The right hand Sphinx is visibly damaged after an aerial bombing campaign during the First World War saw a bomb land near Cleopatra’s Needle. To commemorate the event, the shrapnel holes remain unrepaired on the Sphinx to this day.

This beautiful photograph by Manju shows one of the Sphinxes were it rests alongside the River Thames, with the iconic London Eye in the background against the backdrop of a cloudy blue sky. The lighting highlights the heiroglypics on the chest of the Sphinx, which read “netjer nefer men-kheper-re di ankh” (the good god, Thuthmosis III given life).

The Sphinxes are a later addition to the Embankment site, though Cleopatra’s needle (not named after the Egyptian Queen, but the boat it came on) was originally given to Britain in 1819 and delivered in 1878 after its transportation was funded by Sir William James Erasmus Wilson.

You can read more about Cleopatra’s Needle here on Heritage Key as part of The Ancient World in London series, and be sure to take a look at Manju’s Flickrstream.

BBC’s Seven Ages of Britain explores Ancient London with David Dimbleby

Veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby takes BBC viewers on a journey through the history of Britain, in much the same way Heritage Key will give insight into the Ancient World in London from next week. Image courtesy of the BBC.In a joint partnership with the Open University, the BBC broadcast the first of a seven-part series which is looking at the History of Britain through art and artefacts over the past 2,000 years in a TV series called “Seven Ages of Britain“. Shot in high definition, the programme is written and presented by the respected veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby who recounts the ancient-era story of the nation in the first episode. Heritage Key’s new series – Ancient World in London – which starts next week will build on the insights with a look at the age of Roman and Norman conquest, and how they impacted the history of the captial city.

David Dimbleby travels across the country, as well as abroad to Italy, Germany, Turkey, India and America to track down the artefacts which helped shape Britain, yet have now left the Isles. The eminent presenter starts the programme wading through the waters of the Thames, grunting as he pulls out a large object from the riverbed – the bronze head of the Roman Emperor Hadrian!

Commenting on the series, David Dimbleby says: “Seven Ages Of Britain has proved an exhilarating quest. The television camera offers a spectacular view of some of our most precious national treasures. It allows us to see them in ways beyond the reach of the human eye as we tell the story of our country’s history over 2,000 years through the art we have created in good times and bad.” You can meet David Dimbleby at the Victoria and Albert Museum later this month as he promotes his series.

Scouring the lengths of Britain, looking at artefacts stored at the British Museum, to the Roman city of Chichester and examining the exquisite Alfred Jewel at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, and looking at the Roman wall next to the Tower of London.

It’s a fantastic overview of the ancient story of Great Britain, which you can explore in more depth over the next three months as Heritage Key prepares its web-series which will journey through London and the surrounding areas, piecing together the past and how you can learn so much about the ancient past outside the museums. Keep an eye out for The Ancient World in London which will kick off from Monday!