Arqueología

Vista general de la excavación en esta campaña de 2019.

Las Merindades, en el norte de la provincia de Burgos, albergan tesoros donde el peso de la historia y la belleza de sus paisajes son capaces de sorprendernos, esde la sillería de sus majestuosas casas hasta las cascadas y los bosques que se pueden pasear y visitar. El yacimiento de Prado Vargas se encuentra en la Merindad de Sotoscueva, un lugar donde sus valles, praderas, bosques, abrigos y cuevas han sido testigos de cómo los primeros Homo sapiens pintaron sus paredes, de cómo los indómitos cántabros se defendieron de los ataques romanos o cómo se gestaron esas comunidades de aldea que dieron origen al Condado de Castilla.…  Seguir leyendo »

Agustín de la Herrán realizó en 1970 un soberbio conjunto escultórico en el que se ve una niña de 9 años de edad, de tamaño natural, avanzando entre rocas con la mirada anonadada. No se alcanza a escucharle exclamar «¡papá, bueyes!», pero cabe imaginar las palabras viendo su expresión. La escultura, alrededor de la cual jugué en muchas tardes de mi infancia, representa el momento en que la niña María Sanz de Sautuola –mi bisabuela– descubrió las pinturas de Altamira. Su hijo, Emilio Botín-Sanz de Sautuola, erigió esa obra en el jardín de su casa de Puente San Miguel, como forma de manifestar su devoción por una madre que llevó siempre en el corazón el dolor de una injusticia histórica que sólo ahora se intenta superar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Could Shipwrecks Lead the World to War

Archaeology has long been exploited as a political tool. Hitler used artifacts and symbols to manufacture a narrative of Aryan racial superiority. The Islamic State proves its zealotry by destroying evidence of ancient history. Underwater archaeology — the world of shipwrecks and sunken cities — has mostly avoided these kinds of machinations, though. Since no one lives beneath the sea, leaders haven’t found many opportunities for political gains from archaeological sites there.

That is, until now.

In the past few years, politicians in Canada, Russia and China have realized that they can use shipwrecks on the sea floor to project their sovereignty into new maritime territories.…  Seguir leyendo »

Es un placer ser testigo del éxito del blog de ABC «Espejo de Navegantes». Junto con la historia de España en época moderna, los pecios de los galeones han sido las víctimas silenciosas en el siglo XX. El desarrollo del buceo deportivo en los años 60 y el hecho de que la avaricia se convirtiera en una virtud socialmente aceptada en la cultura popular, asociada al éxito, estimularon la aparición de una industria criminal de cazatesoros en el sur de los Estados Unidos que tuvo un gran impacto global y destruyó un número desconocido de yacimientos subacuáticos –no sólo españoles– de los siglos XVI y XVII.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dreams of undersea riches make treasure hunting a seductive investment. As professional underwater archaeologists, we don’t normally comment on the commercial salvage of historical shipwrecks. But in this case, our expert opinion is: Don’t waste your money.

The fact is, no major treasure-hunting venture has ever been profitable for investors, according to a series of academic studies. And from an archaeological point of view, there are compelling scientific and legal reasons that investments in treasure hunting won’t pay off.

Treasure hunting has recently been in the news. On Monday, Tampa, Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said that it had recovered gold from the sunken ship SS Central America, with estimates that there may be as much as $86 million in precious metal at the wreck site off the coast of South Carolina.…  Seguir leyendo »

EL 1 de abril de 1748 se iniciaban las excavaciones de Pompeya, famosa ciudad romana completamente destruida el Vesubio en el año 79 de nuestra era, como muestra la exposición «Pompeya, catástrofe bajo el Vesubio», organizada por Canal de Isabel II Gestión con asesoramiento de la Real Academia de la Historia.
Retrato del pintor de origen alemán Mengs a Carlos III

La exposición recuerda que fue Carlos III de Borbón, como rey de Nápoles e hijo de Isabel de Farnesio y nieto de María de Médicis –descendía de las dos más grandes familias coleccionistas de antigüedades del Renacimiento italiano– quien inició la excavación de Herculano y Pompeya dentro de la brillante política cultural de la Corona de España.…  Seguir leyendo »

En pocos países el pasado necesita tanto tiempo. Sin duda existe un tipo de pasado, específicamente español, con el que demostramos tener una relación muy compleja: aquí es donde la memoria histórica se regula por ley, donde somos mucho más inconformistas con el pasado que con el presente, hasta el punto de que nuestra incapacidad de adaptación a la propia historia ha llegado a generar una disciplina única y original en universidades extranjeras, denominada hispanismo.

Recientemente, una sentencia en el circuito de apelación en EE.UU. vino a otorgar a nuestro país la responsabilidad sobre el pecio de un naufragio, el de la fragata «Mercedes», que no hemos buscado, al menos fuera de los tribunales, cuyas circunstancias se mantenían en buena medida inéditas y que acogía en silencio el último hogar de mas de doscientos héroes, españoles de dos hemisferios, europeos y americanos, que nadie recordaba.…  Seguir leyendo »

La civilización más antigua de América floreció hace unos cuatro o cinco mil años y ha dejado unos testimonios impresionantes de su complejidad y poderío a unos 200 kilómetros al norte de Lima. Nunca sabremos cómo la llamaban y se llamaban entre sí sus pobladores, pues el nombre con que ahora se la conoce -Caral- apareció seguramente en la región muchos siglos después de que aquella notable sociedad se hubiera extinguido tan brusca y misteriosamente como ocurrió, en América Central, con la civilización maya.

Cuando la arqueóloga Ruth Shady Solís llegó hasta aquí, en 1993, y se instaló a vivir en una carpa para iniciar sus investigaciones, esta gigantesca explanada salpicada de colinas (que en verdad eran adoratorios y templos) y cercada por los contrafuertes color tierra de las estribaciones de la Cordillera de los Andes debía parecer un paisaje lunar.…  Seguir leyendo »

As United States troops begin withdrawing from Iraq, we should take stock of the staggering damage that Iraq’s ancient archeological sites have suffered from looting over the last few years. After the 2003 invasion, swarms of looters dug huge pits and passages all over southern Iraq in search of cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals. At Isin, where a Sumerian city once stood, I watched men sifting through tons of soil for 4,000-year-old objects to sell to Baghdadi dealers. It was mass pillage.

The worst of the looting appears to be over, say the experts who monitor archeological sites with armed inspections and aerial photographs.…  Seguir leyendo »

I knew God was a Trotskyite. Cern’s absurdly oversold answer to the who-is-God question was snuffed out in Switzerland last week by a celestial helium leak. Don’t dabble with the big bang: the curse will get you.

Meanwhile, who-are-we questions are being answered as never before – and at a fraction of the cost. Archaeologists excavating at Stonehenge, for the first time in half a century, are rewriting the map of British prehistory. Once again it is our old friend, Preseli bluestone, that is hero of the hour. Its glories shall not go unsung.

Wainwright and Darvill might sound like a pair of Yorkshire undertakers, but the two professors have long been testing their thesis that the secret of this great monument lies in its most sensational feature: the inner circle of bluestones from the bleak Preseli mountains in Pembrokeshire.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Ben Macintyre (THE TIMES, 04/04/08):

For the first time in a generation, archaeologists have begun to sift through the most sacred soil in Britain, in search of the secret of Stonehenge.

The full artillery of modern science will be trained on a trench of earth, measuring 11 feet long and eight feet wide, inside the great stone circle. Pollen grains, tool fragments, snail shells, and chips of the original bluestone pillars will all be carbon- dated, to try to answer a question that had intrigued thinkers since medieval times: how and why, some 4,500 years ago, did our ancestors bring 80 stones, weighing up to three tonnes each, from the Preseli Hills in southwest Wales to Salisbury plain?…  Seguir leyendo »

By Ben Macintyre (THE TIMES, 07/09/07):

I had always imagined the Terracotta Army in the tomb of China’s first emperor to be the expression of one man’s sublime madness, a posthumous game of toy soldiers on a megalomaniac scale. Who but a lunatic would force an army of workers to build an 8,000-strong army from baked mud to march him to the afterlife? The photographs of the inhuman warriors always seemed to me slightly chilling, row upon row of identical imperial army grunts two millennia old, entombed by a dictator’s pride.

That was before I met them. Last month I travelled to Xi’an, stood in the vast hangar that houses the excavation site, and looked down on an ancient host, not of impersonal clay models, but of people.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Felipe Fernández-Armesto, the author of numerous history books (THE TIMES, 03/01/07):

History has the best stories, and Maya history is particularly rich in them. Mel Gibson could have made a movie of the adventures of Siyaj Kak, the 4th-century kingmaker, who crossed mountains and jungles to found a new dynasty in one of the greatest Maya cities; or of rulers, more than half a millennium later, ritually piercing tongue or penis for sacrificial blood to legitimate their wars or postpone the collapse of their kingdoms. Or he could have made a film about Gaspar Antonio Xiu, the 16th-century native sage, who, at first, loved the Spanish conquistadores, then recoiled from them; or Gonzalo Guerrero, a Spaniard who turned against his own people and became a leader of Maya resistance; or of the kingdom of Petén Itza, which defended its independence until 1697.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Craig Childs, the author of the forthcoming “House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest” (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 02/01/07):
A FEW years back, while traveling in the Sierra Madre Occidental of northern Mexico, I came upon a canyon packed with cliff dwellings no one had lived in since before the time of Christopher Columbus. On the ground were discarded artifacts, pieces of frayed baskets, broken pottery and hundreds of desiccated corn cobs — the ruins of an ancient civilization.

I reached down to pick up what I thought was a dry gourd, and instead found myself cradling the skull of a human child.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Simon Jenkins (THE GUARDIAN, 01/12/06):

The Stonehenge mystery is solved. I always knew there was something odd about the «Amesbury archer». He died circa 2300BC and was rediscovered near the henge in Wiltshire in 2002, one of the most sensational prehistoric corpses ever found. His hair was laced with gold, the earliest found in England. His grave contained traces of fine clothes and implements of archery and copper-working. Analysis of his bones and teeth revealed that he came from central Europe, probably Switzerland, with possessions from Spain and France. Was this evidence of invasion? Was the Amesbury archer a Beaker lord of Stonehenge and were foreigners perhaps responsible for moving its giant bluestones from Wales?…  Seguir leyendo »