Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Discovery, Red Sea: 2 Thousand Years Old Port Infrastructure & A Large Animal Cemetery in Berenice

Archaeologists studied 2 thousand years old port infrastructure and a large animal cemetery in Berenice on the Red Sea in Egypt.

Cemetery of small animals, archaeologists at documentation work, 
right to left: Marta Osypińska, Piotr Osypiński, Kamila Braulińska. 
Photo: S. E. Sidebotham/Berenike Project, PCMA UW
"This time during excavations we got lucky. Undoubtedly, this year's most interesting find is a frame - wooden part of a ship hull from the early Roman period" - told PAP Iwona Zych from the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, who leads the research project in cooperation with Prof. Steven E. Sidebotham of the University of Delaware in the United States.

This is the first fully preserved and documented frame from the hull of the ship from this period in Egypt. The find and the place of its discovery leads researchers to believe that the ship was dismantled and its parts stored in the warehouse in the port bay. Archaeologists will examine the object. Detailed measurements will allow for an approximate reconstruction of the size of the ship.

"This will be the first time that we know the actual size and construction of a Red Sea vessel, because no ancient vessels, or even wrecks have survived to this day" - said Zych.

North-east of the port, archaeologists discovered a large cemetery of small animals. Only this year they studied 60 burials, mostly of cats, but also a small number of dogs, two small vervets and a baboon. Most of the animals were buried either inside damaged clay vessels or covered with shards of clay pots and amphorae. An interesting fact is that one of the vervets had a metal collar.

Scientists are not sure why animals had been buried in this place. Archaeozoologist of the mission, Dr. Marta Osypińska, believes that such an accumulation of burials may be a result of a plague brought to the port from a remote destination. Another possibility is exploitation of young animals in magical rituals, during which the oracle was consulted before a long sea journey.….. READ MORE
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