Fascinating News: 13th Century Byzantine Chapel Found

From the NY Times a very fascinating story, via the Anchoress

Myra-Andriake Excavations

DEMRE, Turkey — In the fourth century A.D., a bishop named Nicholas transformed the city of Myra, on the Mediterranean coast of what is now Turkey, into a Christian capital.

Myra-Andriake Excavations

One wall of the chapel has a cross-shaped window that, when sunlit, beams its shape onto an altar table.

Myra-Andriake Excavations

A vibrant fresco that is unusual for Turkey was perfectly preserved.

Nicholas was later canonized, becoming the St. Nicholas of Christmas fame. Myra had a much unhappier fate.

After some 800 years as an important pilgrimage site in the Byzantine Empire it vanished — buried under 18 feet of mud from the rampaging Myros River. All that remained was the Church of St. Nicholas, parts of a Roman amphitheater and tombs cut into the rocky hills.

But now, 700 years later, Myra is reappearing.

Archaeologists first detected the ancient city in 2009 using ground-penetrating radar that revealed anomalies whose shape and size suggested walls and buildings. Over the next two years they excavated a small, stunning 13th-century chapel sealed in an uncanny state of preservation. Carved out of one wall is a cross that, when sunlit, beams its shape onto the altar. Inside is a vibrant fresco that is highly unusual for Turkey.

The chapel’s structural integrity suggests that Myra may be largely intact underground. “This means we can find the original city, like Pompeii,” said Nevzat Cevik, an archaeologist at Akdeniz University who is director of the excavations at Myra, beneath the modern town of Demre.

Mark Jackson, a Byzantine archaeologist at Newcastle University in England, who was not involved in the research, called the site “fantastic,” and added,“This level of preservation under such deep layers of mud suggests an extremely well-preserved archive of information.”

Occupied since at least the fourth century B.C., Myra was one of the most powerful cities in Lycia, with a native culture that had roots in the Bronze Age. It was invaded by Persians, Hellenized by Greeks, and eventually controlled by Romans.

Fascinating stuff


Did You Know? 5 Stories I’ll Bet You Missed

Stuff you’ve probably missed and I found interesting.

More on ‘ancient astronauts’ maybe, or something. Yep, here comes 21 DEC 12 again.

WTF1?! – The temperature inside The Great Pyramid remains constant at 68 degrees F, the same as earth’s internal temperature.

WTF2?! – A planetary alignment between the Orion belt and the pyramids of Giza will take place at…. that’s right – 21.12.2012

Continue reading  Did You Know? 5 Cool Facts About The Pyramids Of Giza.

Next, the Telegraph tells us that they may have built Battle Abbey on the wrong hill, and they think they know where the casualties are buried.

The site of where the Battle of Hastings has been commemorated for the last 1,000 years is in the wrong place, it has been claimed.

Ever since the 1066 battle that led to the Norman Conquest, history has recorded the event as happening at what is now Battle Abbey in the East Sussex town.

But although some 10,000 men are believed to have been killed in the historic conflict, no human remains or artefects from the battle have ever been found at the location.

This has given rise to several historians to examine alternative sites for the battle that was a decisive victory for William the Conqueror and saw the death of King Harold.

Now historian and author John Grehan believes he has finally found the actual location – on a steep hill one mile north west of Battle.

But Mr Grehan believes his research shows Harold never left his defensive hilltop position and the Normans took the battle to the English.

He has studied contemporaneous documents in the national archives and built up a dossier of circumstantial evidence that, when put together, make a more than convincing argument in his favour.

Witness accounts from 1066 state the battle was fought on steep and unploughed terrain, consistent with Caldbec Hill. Senlac Hill was cultivated and had gentle slopes.

Continue reading Are bodies of 10,000 lost warriors from Battle of Hastings buried in this field? – Telegraph.

The Telegraph also tells us that Hadrian’s Wall was good for business, which actually make sense. Most likely Legionnaires tended to buy things from the locals.

The 73-mile long Roman wall, built in AD 122 to defend the Roman Empire from hostile Celtic tribes, created a thriving economy to serve the occupying army, according to aerial surveys.

Farmers, traders, craftsmen, labourers and prostitutes seized the occasion to make money from the presence of hundreds of Roman troops.

“Some of the local population will have seen the opportunity presented by the occupying forces and gone for it,” said David MacLeod, of English Heritage. “There are entrepreneurs in every society ready to go for the main chance.”

The research carried out by English Heritage has revealed over 2,700 previously unrecorded historic features, including prehistoric burial mounds and first century farmsteads, medieval sheep farms, 19th century lead mines and even a WWII gun battery, sited along the 15 foot high wall which stretched from Wallsend on the English east coast to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast.

The study, based on over 30,000 aerial photographs taken over the last 60 years, offers an insight into the impact of the wall on the area’s history and landscape.

Continue reading http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/archaeology/3463005/Hadrians-wall-boosted-economy-for-ancient-Britons-archaeologists-discover.html

The Telegraph is also telling us that Neanderthals died out because of… wait for it…Global Warming.

Analysis of DNA obtained from Neanderthal remains has revealed key differences from modern humans that suggest their bodies produced excess heat.

Neanderthal DNA reveals key differences from modern humans

Neanderthal DNA reveals key differences from modern humans

While in the cold climate of an ice age this would have provided the species with an advantage, as the earth warmed they would have been less able to cope. Ultimately this would have caused their extinction around 24,000 years ago.

Scientists at Newcastle University have put forward the theory after examining a particular form of genetic material which was obtained from the fossilised bones of Neanderthals.

By comparing it with that found in modern humans, they discovered that Neanderthals had key differences in the sections responsible for producing energy in all living cells.

Professor Patrick Chinnery, a neurogeneticist at Newcastle University, believes the differences in this mitochondrial DNA could have caused Neanderthals to be inefficient at producing energy, meaning their cells leaked heat.

Continue reading http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3867382/Neanderthals-could-have-died-out-because-their-bodies-overheated.html

And one more from the Telegraph, this time via History News Network. You remember we talked a while back that the University of Leicester thinks the have found Richard III’s body? Link here. Well, they seem to think they know who the second body they found is, too.

Archaeologists from Leicester University announced in September that two sets of human remains had been found amid the foundations of a historic church, located underneath a council car park in the city.

The find captured the nation’s attention after it was revealed that one of the skeletons was that of a man with battle wounds and a curved spine, a description fitting accounts of the Plantagenet king.

Now researchers believe the second set of bones could be the remains of the female founder of the Franciscan friary in which the church was located.

Experts said that historical records only name one woman buried within the Church of Grey Friars – Ellen Luenor, who is thought to have helped found or support the friary….

Link here http://hnn.us/articles/richard-iii-search-womans-skeleton-may-have-been-friary-founder

There’s a few stories that I’ll bet you missed.


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