newsletter-410-may-2005

Newsletter

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HADAS Diary

Tuesday 10th May Lecture on THE ROAD TO ROME Mark Hassell The lecture describes a walk/pilgrimage that Mark has been making with a friend over the last three years in stages from Bordeaux to Rome, why they did it, and the things they saw along the way, such as jousting at the restored medieval castle at Carcasonne, the Palace of the Popes at Avignon, and the medieval cities of Genoa, Sienna and Viterbo. Lectures start at 8.00 p.m. prompt in the Drawing Room on the ground floor of Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley N3, and are followed by question time and coffee. We close promptly at 10.00. Buses, including the 82, 143, 120 and 326 pass close by, and it is a five to ten minute walk from Finchley Central Tube Station.

Copped Hall Trust Archaeological Project by Peter Pickering

Training excavation of a sequence of Tudor and medieval grand houses at Copped Hall, near Epping, Essex — one-week training courses in practical archaeology are offered, starting on 21st August, 28Th August, and zit' September. No previous experience is needed. Certificate awarded on completion. The courses are led by professional archaeologists, and organised by the Copped Hall Trust, in conjunction with the West Essex Archaeological Group (www.weag.org.uk). To find out more, visit the website or contact Mrs Pauline Dalton, Roseleigh, Epping Road, Epping, Essex CM16 5HW. Tel: 01992 813 725. . If you require information about other events and visiting times, you can visit Copped Hall Trust website (www.coppedhalltrust.org.uk) or telephone 01992 571 657. Copped Hall is otherwise strictly private and the lodge owners must not be disturbed for access.

A walk through Petra 2005 by Tessa Smith

I recently achieved a long-held ambition to visit the 'rose red city' of Petra to see for myself the requisite colours of the carved rock tombs and to experience the journey through the Siq. I wasn't disappointment. The Wadi Musa valley leads down towards the great Siq chasm. Monumental Djinn sandstone blocks, representing the soul and image of the deceased, and thought to be Nabataean funerary monuments edge the route. A huge bright red double-story tomb built in the second half of the 1st century is topped with 4 obelisks representing those interred within. However, the bones of the dead have long been taken, and only the ancient rock-carved benches for those who took part in the ceremonies, still remain. More than 800 tombs of this kind have been excavated in Petra. The Siq is narrow and cool. Pat5 of it has been recently cleared of more than 2 metres of rubble, revealing more Roman pavements and a conduit cut directly into the rock, part of an extensive network for carrying water from the high entrance of the Siq down to the Nabataean city far below. And ancient dam directed the main flood water around the mountain, but the Siq can still be extremely dangerous when flash floods occur as it channels the overflow of raging waters high above into this extremely narrow gorge. A few years ago, seven tourists were drowned here. As well as a passageway, the Siq seems to have had a religious purpose, and numerous sacred niches, Greek inscriptions and god statues have been found carved into the steep cliff walls. As we walked through the Suq taking our time, making way now and again for the little horse-drawn carriages and occasional camel. We noted a large wall-carving of similar activity, a life-sized camel and its two drivers. As well as the danger of floods, the area is prone to earthquakes and it was due to repeated earthquake catastrophes, as well as changes to the trade routes, that the Nabataean city was abandoned until the 19th century, when Johann Ludwig Burckhardt identified it as the ancient capital of Petra. At the end of the dark Siq is the glorious amber-red sun-soaked splendour of Al-Khazney the 'Treasury', carved deeply into overhanging rock and hardly affected by rain, wind or water. In the early morning light, detailed carvings top the Corinthian columns, pediments and portico., gods and goddesses, eagles, sphinx, griffins, wheat and vine leaves. The urn which crowns the façade was thought to have contained the treasure of the Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus. In contrast, the simple bare interior was lit up by a shaft of light revealing the delicate wave-like patterns of orange, brown and coral sandstone. Until 1984, the Bedouins lived here, keeping their animals and lighting fires, but then they were 'rehoused and now only a few are allowed to sell their trinkets here. On the steps of the Treasury Jordanian soldiers, resplendent in their uniform of the Desert Patrol, keep guard of this architectural and sculptural gem. Beyond the Treasury, the gorge becomes wider and the number of tombs increase, some double story and showing Greek influence, some piled one above another, flat-roofed with crenulations. Unexpectedly set into a hillside on our left a Roman amphitheatre seating sever thousand, had been carved into an area of pre- Roman burial chambers, a few of which still remain. Some excavation work and restoration work has been carried out on the theatre, mainly to the columns and side access to the stage. East of the theatre, across the Wadi Musa, are many huge carved colourful tombs set back into the high cliffs, the Urn tomb, the Silk tomb, the Palace tomb. Open to the elements, these great tombs have suffered the effects of erosion, although still grandiose and impressive they seem somewhat worn and warty, disappearing back into the rocks from which they had been sculpted. A colonnaded street was constructed beside the river. Archaeologists are uncovering more and more remains of this once prosperous capital, public baths, temples, marketplaces, and ornamental fountain surround this main street. At the end are remains of a monumental gate and steps leading up to the south temple, which has been dated to the late 1st century BC and where archaeologists are working now. The latest excavation by the Sorbonne University is above that of a 6th century church at the far end of Pera. Here have been found papyrus scrolls relating to marriage certificates and tax returns, coins, sculptures and beautiful mosaics as well as clothing and footwear. Examples of these can be seen in a small museum nearby as well as examples of the fine local pottery. One of the most fascinating sculptures on show is a god statue from the Temple of the Winged Lion showing Arabian style, in contrast to Petra's Hellenistic art. As to the future, UNESCO is trying to come up with a way of protecting this unique site. One idea is to ensure that only a one-way traffic of visitors is allowed, at the moment you return back up through the Siq to the entrance uphill all the way! If you do go, I recommend a return by horse and carriage.


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Pinner excavation by Bill Bass

HADAS will be conducting a small scale evaluation at Pinner golf course on Wednesday 11th to Thursday 12th May. This will be to test results from last year's resistivity survey looking for the position of a 17th century manor or lodge. Due to the nature of the site, places may be limited. More details closer to the time. Would those interested, please contact me at bill bass@yahoo.com or phone 020 8449 5666 (leave a message).

LAMAS conference report by Don Cooper

The LAMAS 42nd Annual Conference of London Archaeologists took place at the Museum of London on Saturday 19th March 2005. This year, it was well attended and got off to a good start with Harvey Sheldon, the conference chairman and, of course, the HADAS president, introducing a series of informative talks on recent archaeological developments in London. First, Craig Halsey described the recently discovered early Mesolithic site on the gravel beds beneath Sanderson's old factory in Uxbridge. This site is very close to the Three Ways Wharf site which features so prominently in the prehistoric gallery at the Museum of London, adding further confirmation to what our forebears were up to in that area. There were fine flint tools and the remains of animal meals which, when fully researched, will add to our knowledge. Then Jane Corcoran spoke on the geo-archaeology of the former Bankside Channel, Southwark — as more and more excavations are carried out in Southwark, so we learn more about the little islands and the water channels around them that made up the landscape of the area in prehistoric times. Jane demonstrated, with good slides and maps, where we have got to in understanding this important area of London. We then had a complete change of direction with Faye Simpson, the new Finds Liaison Officer and Community Archaeologist telling us about recent finds from London. Faye has a vast area to cover with, on one hand, "mudlarks" handing in finds from the Thames for evaluation, and on the other, informing the community on the various laws concerning how finds are dealt with. We wish her well in her new job!! Finally before lunch, Harvey and Bob Cowie described the results of the Birkbeck training dig which took place last year in the grounds of Syon House, Brentford, the London home of the Duke of Northumberland, which is built on the site of Syon (Sion) Abbey, the only Bridgettine house in England during the medieval period. The dig uncovered the foundations of a massive church and some burials, possibly of nuns. Birkbeck hope to return there again this year. Places are available!!! The Ralph Merryfield Award winners were announced — this year there were two young archaeologists given the prize for their work in the community, promoting archaeology among young people. After lunch, there were presentations by the final five excavations considered to have had the most effect on London Archaeology in the last 150 years — it being LAMAS' 150 anniversary. The five emerged on the shortlist after a year-long vote, which mentioned a great many other excavations. The five were as follows: • The Guildhall Yard, Roman Amphitheatre "sponsored" by Nick Bateman • Saxon Lundenwic, "sponsored" by Bob Kylie • The Temple of Mithras, "sponsored" by John Shepherd • The Rose Theatre, "sponsored" Simon Blatherwick • St Mary's Spital, Spitalfields, "sponsored" by Chris Thomas Each speaker spoke eloquently of his particular site, but when the votes were counted, Saxon Ludenwic won by a good margin. In the final speech of the day, John Clark presented his vision of the New Medieval Gallery at the Museum of London — an exciting prospect which, it is hoped, will open by the end of 2005. In the societies room, many of Greater London’s archaeological societies were represented with stalls setting out their agenda and selling their publications. HADAS had a stall with our display boards in a prominent place and we sold many publications. Many old friends came to say hello, which helped to make the day more enjoyable.



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