Expedition News – Spring 1961

Originally Published in 1961

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Tikal, Guatemala

The Expedition at Tikal which has been at work since the end of January will close its 1961 season in late May. Full-time members of the Expedition staff this year have been Alfred Kidder II, Edwin M. Shook, Aubrey Trik, and William R. Coe. Shorter visits to the site have been made by Dr. Rainey; Robert H. Dyson, who was anxious to compare excavation problems at Tikal with those at Hasanlu where he is a field director; Linton Satterthwaite, who is continuing his study of the inscriptional material; and Richard E. Linington, who has recently been appointed Research Associate in Archaeological Techniques and who is here testing some of the new electronic methods.

Considerable progress has been made in the excavation of both temple structures and the house mounds, but the most spectacular find of the season is that of an Early Classic tomb beneath Stela 31 in Structure 5D-33. The tomb had been cut in the natural bedrock, its walls plastered and painted. On the north wall there is an inscription which Mr. Shook has read as the Maya equivalent of March 18, A.D. 457, which he assumes is the date of the death of the person whose grave this is, while other inscriptions may deal with his life’s history. This person is a beheaded adult, whose body had been heavily sprinkled with red cinnabar, tightly wrapped in a bundle, probably of textiles and skins, and bound with rope. The tomb is extraordinarily rich in furnishings; jades, obsidian flake-blades, an assortment of marine material, many pottery food dishes with food still remaining in them, a well-worn metate and mano, a large red pottery water jar, about a dozen finer vessels including one magnificently stuccoed bowl with painted decoration and several with finely engraved designs, an alabaster bowl bearing an encircling band of carved hieroglyphs with cinnabar rubbed into the delicate lines, and a beautiful mosaic of jade, shell, and iron hematite. There are also remains of very fine textiles, fruit seeds and other foods, and of some badly rotted organic material which suggests objects of wood, leather, animal skins. In the tomb also were the bodies of three other individuals, perhaps young slaves sacrificed to attend their master in the afterlife.

Gordion, Turkey

The Gordion campaign of 1961 was officially launched on February 18th by the departure of Rodney Young for Turkey. Dr. Young spend the month of March in Ankara studying finds from grave mounds excavated in previous seasons, reporting with mixed joy and chagrin an addition to the short list of Phrygian inscriptions on a bowl of the “Midas” burial which had escaped notice previously. Excavations began about April 1st when Dr. Young was joined by Ellen Kohler, in charge of records and preservation, and by two advanced graduate students of the department, Charles K. Williams, an assistant architect, and Crawford H. Greenewalt, Jr., as an excavator. The excavation complement is also expected to include J.S. Last of Episkopi, Cyprus, as architect, and, in the summer, Professor Machteld J. Mellink of Bryn Mawr and a number of students from elsewhere.

Sumer and the Indus Valley

Dr. Samuel Noah Kramer has just returned from an eight months’ trip, the principal purpose of which was to investigate at first hand in Pakistan and India the archaeological and epigraphic material of the “Indus” civilization, in order to compare it with the relevant Sumerian remains, thus acquiring a deeper understanding of their interconnections and interrelations. That there was considerable commercial and cultural contact between Sumer and the Indus Valley is quite certain as some thirty “Indus” seals have actually been found in Sumer, and must have been brought there in some way from their land of origin; hundreds if not thousands more must still lie buried in the ruins. In searching the Sumerian literary texts for possible clues, Dr. Kramer came to the conclusion that Dilmun, the Sumerian “paradise” may turn out to be the land of the “Indus” valley civilization. He has now spent fruitful months visiting archaeological sites and museums searching for evidence to support this theory.

Prior to his visit to Pakistan and India, Dr. Kramer attended the meeting of the International Congress of Orientalists in Moscow and spent time in London, Jena, and Istanbul working on Sumerian literary texts. He visited Iran, both to see its famous archaeological sites and to lecture. While in India and Pakistan he gave numerous lectures on the interconnection of the Sumerian and “Indus” civilizations. He came home by way of Japan where he had been invited to give a series of talks under the auspices of the Near Eastern Society of Japan and the University of Kyoto.

Cite This Article

"Expedition News – Spring 1961." Expedition Magazine 3, no. 3 (May, 1961): -. Accessed April 18, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/expedition-news-spring-1961/


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