Asia & the Pacific
Test results finally released by the Chinese government confirm that the Bronze Age mummies first discovered in the Tarim Basin in the 1980s are indeed Caucasian. An apparently important region on the early Silk Road, the Tarim Basin, in what is today western China, was occupied by Caucasian traders from the second to the first millennia B.C., when East Asian peoples moved into the area. The Chinese government is concerned that the results may bolster separatist movements in the region.
The Archaeological Survey of India confirms that the December 26 tsunami revealed a fourth-century A.D. temple complex at Mahabalipuram on the south India coast. The complex was built by kings of the Pallava Dynasty, who ruled much of southern India during the first millennium A.D. A seventh-century temple on the shore was not severely damaged during the tsunami. According to legend, Mahabalipuram once had seven temples that were so beautiful, jealous gods sent a flood to wash them away. Only one remained standing.
Archaeologists are trying to determine the authenticity of a tablet that, if real, will be the country's oldest written document. The Korea Land Corporation Museum recently announced its ownership of a clay tablet that seems to date to the era of King Tongchon (r. A.D. 227-248). It describes his victory over a Chinese army that attempted to invade Korea. The museum says the tablet was discovered in Pyongyang some 70 years ago and was owned by an anonymous collector.
A possible pet dog has been found buried at a pa, or Maori hillfort, site in Tauranga. The now-extinct kuri dog was generally used by the Maori for food or clothing, so researchers were surprised to discover the burial of a complete skeleton--one of only a dozen found in the past two or three decades. Fishhooks made from kuri and moa bones, dating from before the seventeenth century, were also found.
What people were wearing in late-eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Vietnam was the question on researchers' minds as they studied a 200-year-old burial discovered during construction work in Hanoi. The 60-year-old man was preserved in a mixture of aromatic oils, and his wooden coffin was sealed with cement and paper. At the time of his burial, he was wearing two pairs of pants and 14 fine silk tunics, all of which remained in good condition over the centuries.
It looks like the Adonis of Zschernitz has found his Aphrodite. A female counterpart has been discovered at the site near Leipzig where the 8,200-year-old male fertility figurine was excavated in 2003 ("Move Over Venus," January/February 2004). While archaeologists concede the figurines may have been performing a "ritual dance," they may have discovered the world's oldest "pornographic scene."
Remains of the port of Phaleron, once the main harbor of ancient Athens, may have been discovered in a modern suburb of the city. Archaeologists excavating some 1,000 feet from the modern coastline in a site earmarked for development, discovered tracks for carts that would have operated in the port, as well as early Greek pottery. Piraeus replaced Phaleron as the port of Athens in the fifth century B.C.
A remarkably well-preserved room from a Roman bath house has been revealed in Britain's oldest recorded town. The 2,000-year-old room in Colchester, the first Roman capital of England, still has a tiled floor, wooden water main, and heated benches.