Archaeologists Excavate the Field Where Woodstock Was Held

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Over 400,000 people attended the original Woodstock music festival in New York's Catskill Mountains. If any of the concertgoers left something behind—say, lost jewelry or discarded pinback buttons—it stood a chance of being unearthed by researchers nearly five decades later.

That's because archaeologists from New York's Binghamton University recently excavated the site of the 1969 concert in hopes of mapping out where some of the infamous events of Woodstock went down, the Los Angeles Times reports. The nondescript hillside in the small town of Bethel once served as a stage for some of the greatest names in rock and roll history, from Jimi Hendrix to Janis Joplin to The Who.

Woodstock lasted only three days in 1969, but its legacy has endured. Last year, the site—otherwise known as the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts—was added to the National Register of Historic Places. A museum on the property hosts public walking tours of the former festival grounds, but photographs from the period aren't the most accurate indicator of where exactly the stage was located, archaeologists say. Their research will be used to help the museum plan more precise “interpretive walking routes” for Woodstock's 50th anniversary next year.

Project director Josh Anderson told the Los Angeles Times their excavation will serve as a "reference point." "People can stand on that and look up at the hill and say, 'Oh, this is where the performers were. Jimi Hendrix stood here and played his guitar at 8:30 in the morning,'" Anderson said. 

As far as artifacts go, the team of archaeologists probably won't be selling any of their finds to a museum or auction house. They didn't dig up much, save for a few pull tabs from aluminum cans (probably of the alcoholic variety) and shards of broken glass bottles. For more insight into what this historic concert was like, you'll want to head to the Bethel Woods museum, which offers a permanent collection of photos, videos, and memorabilia from the period.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

15th-Century Cannonballs Likely Used by Vlad the Impaler Discovered in Bulgaria

By Anonymous, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Anonymous, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Dracula was known for using his fangs and supernatural powers to dispatch his victims. But he apparently liked to have a few cannonballs by his side as well (just in case).

No, there’s no secret passage from Bram Stoker’s novel involving a battle where the vampire count displays his firepower. Rather, according to the website Archaeology in Bulgaria, cannonballs were recently excavated from the Bulgarian town of Svishtov, the site of a military conquest made by the Romanian prince Vlad III. Known more popularly as “Vlad the Impaler,” he likely served as the inspiration behind Stoker's bloodthirsty antagonist.

During his reign as one of most ruthless rulers in history, Vlad III frequently butted heads with the Ottoman Turks. The conflict came to a violent head in 1461, when Vlad and his army fought for control over Svishtov’s Zishtova Fortress. Now, as Gizmodo reports, archaeologists say they've uncovered a collection of centuries-old cannonballs that may have belonged to Vlad and were most likely linked to the event.

The cannonballs themselves were shot from culverins, medieval cannons that fired missiles weighing up to 16 pounds, which were relatively light compared to later models. Lead archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov of the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia said that's what makes these artifacts particularly exciting.

“We rejoice at those small cannonballs because they are from culverins," Ovcharov told Fox News. "These were the earliest cannons which were for the 15th century, up until the 16th century, [and] they weren’t in use after that.”

That battle occurred as an attempt to reclaim the region from the occupying Turks. The region was occupied as far back as the Roman Empire and was abandoned after barbarian invasions. The Zishtova Fortress was built much later, and Vlad III made it his home—after he reclaimed it from his enemies.

But just because Vlad may have had cannonballs at his disposal doesn't mean that some of the battle's victims weren't impaled.

"[We] have a letter by Vlad Dracula to the king of Hungary in which he boasted that he had taken [the fort] after a fierce battle, and that about 410 Turks were killed during the siege," Ovcharov said. "Some of them were probably impaled, in his style."

Easter Island Statues Are Being Threatened By Nose-Picking Selfie-Seekers

iStock/filipefrazao
iStock/filipefrazao

Though geographically tiny at just 64 square miles, Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is home to a rich a history that's been attracting visitors for centuries. Now, one of the top experts on the island warns that inappropriate behavior from tourists could harm the ancient site, HuffPost reports.

Jo Anne Van Tilburg is an archaeologist who first visited Rapa Nui in the early 1980s. Her team has studied the Easter Island heads (known as moaiup close and uncovered the bodies buried beneath them, revealing that the full moai statues are actually up to 33 feet tall.

As Van Tilburg shared in a recent interview on 60 Minutes, a lot has changed since she first set foot on the island. In the early 1980s, Easter Island received about 2500 visitors a year; in 2018, 150,000 tourists flocked there to see the mysterious artifacts. That many annual visitors wouldn't be a lot for some destinations, but on Rapa Nui, an island with a permanent population of 5700 that relies on a generator for power and a limited water supply, those numbers can be devastating.

To make matters worse, many guests act in disrespectful ways when they arrive. According to Van Tilburg, it's not unusual to see tourists illegally climbing on top of the statues and pretending to pick their noses for selfies. "I am troubled by the lack of genuine tourist interest in the island and its people," Van Tillburg said. "There is a lack of genuine appreciation for the Rapa Nui past.”

The island's scarce resources and delicate ecosystem have long been a problem for the people who live there. This may have even led to the site's iconic statues: A recently published study posits that the moai were positioned in certain spots to mark precious sources of fresh water.

[h/t HuffPost]

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