International Archaeological Discovery Award “Khaled al-Asaad” (5th edition)

  • International Archaeological Discovery Award “Khaled al-Asaad” (3rd edition)

    International Archaeological Discovery Award “Khaled al-Asaad” (5th edition)

    Since 2015, Mediterranean Exchange of Archaeological Tourism and Archeo have decided to pay homage to archaeological discoveries with an annual prize awarded in collaboration with international magazines: Antike Welt (Germany), Archéologia (France), as. Archäologie der Schweiz (Switzerland), Current Archaeology (United Kingdom), Dossiers d’Archéologie (France).

    The Award is devoted to Khaled al-Asaad, the archaeologist of the site of Palmyra who paid with his life the defence of cultural heritage.

    The remembrance of the archaeologist Paolo Matthiae:

    “For forty years, Khaled al-Asaad has been the Director of the archaeological excavations of Palmyra. He was the archaeologist of the city, he worked with missions from every country: from France to Germany, from Switzerland to Netherlands, from United States to Poland, and in the last years from Italy too, with the mission from Università Statale of Milan. He was a complete scholar, but mostly he had the peculiar feature of a member of the families of the cities of the desert. These people, like the ancient Bedouins, are lovely, kind and very hospitable, in a completely natural way, not excessive but very measured and discreet fashion. Khaled al-Asaad was a very lovely man, measured and with a kind soul. Even archaeologists who didn’t specialize in that period – Roman antiquity – often came to Palmyra to visit him and Khaled’s friendliness was total.

    He was a man deeply rooted in the city, and yet, for the international character of the site he oversaw, he was a citizen of the world, too. In various occasions his name was suggested for the position of General Director of Antiquities in Damascus, but I believed he preferred to remain in Palmyra, a city he identified himself with. Khaled was so certain he was just doing his job that he didn’t think he needed to escape. And as I remember him, he wasn’t a man who feared for his own life. Even if in retirement and almost 82, he preferred to stay in his city, precisely because he had understood its antiquities were in ranger. And probably, he imagined his undisputed moral authority could protect what Palmyra held and still hols today: the ruins of an absolutely extraordinary archaeological site, for all the Mediterranean area and for the whole world”.

    The International Archaeological Discovery Award “Khaled al-Asaad” is the only global prize awarded to archaeologists, who with sacrifice, dedication, competence and scientific research live their job, both as scholars of the past and as professionals working for their territory.

    The Award, therefore, aims to spread the exchange of experiences, represented by international discoveries, also as best practices of intercultural dialogue. The Award will be assigned to the first classified archaeological discovery, according to the recommendations received by each magazine, which will signal five discoveries in order of preferences, all of them made in the previous year. The sum of the recommendations of each magazine will determine the assignment of the Award.

    The Director of the Exchange Ugo Picarelli and the Director of Archeo Andreas Steiner shared this common path, aware that “today, civilizations and cultures of the past and their relations with the surrounding environment are more and more important to rediscover the identities, in a global society which is dispersing its values”.

    The Award Ceremony will take place on Friday, November 15th during the XXII edition of the Exchange.

    Moreover, a “Special Award” will be attributed online to the archaeological discovery which will receive more approval from the wide public through the Facebook page of the Mediterranean Exchange of Archaeological Tourism between 17 June and 30 September.

    The five archaeological discoveries of 2018 candidate for the victory of the fifth edition are:

    • Bulgaria: under the Black Sea the most ancient intact shipwreck of the world;
    • Egypt: at Saqqara, south of Cairo, an ancient mummification workshop;
    • Italy: the inscription and villas discovered in Pompeii;
    • Jordan: the most ancient bread of the world;
    • Switzerland: the most ancient metal hand found in Europe.

     

    Bulgaria: under the black sea the most ancient intact shipwreck of the world 

    Bulgaria: under the Black Sea the most ancient intact shipwreck of the world

    Bulgaria: under the Black Sea the most ancient intact shipwreck of the world

    Two km from the floor of the Black Sea, off the coast of Bulgaria, Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP) discovered, thanks to the unusual chemical composition of Black Sea water and to the lack of oxygen below 180 mt, a wooden ship dating back 2.400 years. The ship has intact structural elements, such as the mast and decks of the rowers, never found before in such a good state of conservation, making it the most ancient known complete shipwreck found in the sea.
    The exploration lasted three years and led to the discovery of more than 60 historic wrecks.
    The 23 mt ship, recorded thanks to a remotely operated submarine equipped with video cameras, looks similar to the mercantile vessels painted on ancient Greek vases. A small fragment of the wreck has been extracted and analyzed with the radiocarbon dating system, proving it dates back to the V century B.C., when Greek Cities-States had frequent trade relations with the Mediterranean Area and their colonies along the coast of the Black Sea.

    Egypt: at saqqara, south of Cairo, an ancient mummification workshop

    Egypt: at Saqqara, south of Cairo, an ancient mummification workshop

    Egypt: at Saqqara, south of Cairo, an ancient mummification workshop

    The Egyptian-German archaeological mission of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and of the University of Tübingen discovered south of the pyramid of Unas at the necropolis of Saqqara (30 km south of Cairo), 30 mt deep, an ancient mummification workshop (dating back to the XXVI and XXVII dynasty between VI-V century B.C.) with five sarcophagi and a golden silver funeral mask, 35 mummies, a wooden coffin, a great number of ushabti statues and oil vases.
    The digging is still ongoing, since it will be necessary to exhume at least 55 mummies. The pyramid of Unas is of the last ones to be built during the V dynasty. Despite its small dimensions, it is considered one of the most important Egyptian pyramids, since it is the first structure where the Pyramid Texts, funerary and religious spells to guide the resurrection of the dead among the eternal stars, had been carved. The discovery will provide new insights on the secret of embalming of the ancient Egyptians, in fact the names of the oils and products used in the process, whose remains are still present in the ceramic vases, are written on the jars.

    Italy: the inscripition and villas discovered in Pompeii 

    Italy: the inscripition and villas discovered in Pompeii

    Italy: the inscripition and villas discovered in Pompeii

    Two villas with precious decorations come to life from Regio V of Pompeii, thanks to the interventions of maintenance and securing of the Grande Progetto Pompei’s excavations: the House with Garden and the beautiful colonnade with frescoes and the spaces decorated with vivid megalographies, and the House of Jupiter with paintings in I style and exceptional floor mosaic with unprecedented design. Inscriptions and other remains of the victims, moreover, add details to the history of the eruption and of the ancient city. A charcoal inscription, in particular, a tangible sign of a moment of everyday life, upholds the theory that the eruption took place in October, not in August, an hypothesis already made by scholars for years. The massive intervention, involving more than 3 km of fronts, running around the 22 hectares of area still to be dug, has the purpose to reprofile the fronts, remodulating their slope and securing them, to avoid the dangerous pressure of the ground on the already discovered structures.
    The digging also revealed a wall painting, adding up to the beautiful ones of Venus and Adonis of the House with Garden and to the one of the House of Jupiter: it is the myth of Leda and the swan, portrayed on a fresco found in a cubicle (bedroom) of an House on Vesuvius Street. The erotic scene represents the union of Jupiter, morphed into a swan, and Leda, wife of Tyndareus, the King of Sparta. The discovery is very peculiar for the craftsmanship of the subject, which is “different from all of other ones found until today in other houses” and for the sensuality of the iconography.

    Jordan: the most ancient bread of the world

    Jordan: the most ancient bread of the world

    Jordan: the most ancient bread of the world

    The most ancient bread ever found, of about 14.000 years, has been discovered by a group of researchers of the University of Copenhagen, the University of Cambridge and the University College of London at Shubayqa 1, in Jordan’s Black Desert in the North-East of the country.
    It is a loaf of charred unleavened bread. Therefore, our ancestors kneaded and cooked before the Neolithic Age and before the advent of agriculture, 4.000 years later.
    According to the scholars, thanks to the consumption of bread the populations started to grow the plants necessary to cook it, contributing to the agricultural revolution of the Neolithic Age.
    The loaf is prepared with wild cereals: the ancestors of modern cereals like barley, spelt, oat, that have been ground, sifted and kneaded before cooking them.
    According to the researchers, it was produced by a population of mostly sedentary hunter-gatherers called Natufians and, because of the difficulties to prepare bread, considered a luxurious food for important events.

    Switzerland:  the most ancient metal hand found in Europe

    Switzerland:  the most ancient metal hand found in Europe

    Switzerland:  the most ancient metal hand found in Europe

    Next to the Lake Biel in the West area of the Canton of Bern, thanks to metal detectors during an environmental decontamination, the reproduction of a bronze hand was discovered: about ½ kg smaller than the normal size, the most ancient metal representation of a part of the human body ever found in Europe, dating back about 3.500 years.
    It features a sort of cuff covered in golden foil and an internal cavity with which, scholars think, the hand could be assembled on a cane or a statue. Thanks to the radiocarbon dating of a small portion of the organic glue used to paste the golden foil on the “wrist” of the sculpture, it was to verify that the object is very old, dating back between 1.400 and 1.500 B.C.
    Metal tools in Bronze Age tombs are rare and gold is much rarer, so it is a unique discovery in Europe and maybe beyond European borders. The internal cavity suggests it could have decorated a statue, be mounted on a cane and hold like a sceptre, or even be worn like a prosthesis during a ritual, all unconfirmed theories.

    International Archaeological Discovery Award “Khaled al-Asaad” (1st edition)
    International Archaeological Discovery Award “Khaled al-Asaad” (2nd edition)
    International Archaeological Discovery Award “Khaled al-Asaad” (3rd edition)
    International Archaeological Discovery Award “Khaled al-Asaad” (4th edition)
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