Tag Archives | Ancient Civilizations

Pile Of Hundreds Of Ancient Sacrificed Skulls Discovered In Mexico

Imagine going swimming in the (now drained) lake, not knowing what lay below. Via Live Science:

Archaeologists have unearthed a trove of skulls in Mexico that may have once belonged to human sacrifice victims. The skulls, which date between A.D. 600 and 850, are “potentially evidence of the largest mass human sacrifice in ancient Meso-America.”

[The site is] in a now drained lake called Lake Xaltocan. To date, more than 150 skulls have been discovered there, as well as a shrine with incense burners, water-deity figurines and pottery suggesting a ritual purpose.

The findings shake up existing notions of the culture of the day, because the site is not associated with Teotihuacan or other regional powers. The shrines and the fact that sacrifice victims were mostly male suggest they were carefully chosen, not simply the result of indiscriminate slaughter of a whole village.

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Secret Door Discovered At Center Of Machu Picchu

The secret portal has yet to be unsealed, but an electromagnetic survey suggests it houses treasure chambers filled with gold. Who’s going to try to get it and end up with an Incan curse? Heritage Daily reports:

This discovery was made possible thanks to a French engineer, David Crespy, who in 2010 noticed the presence of a strange “shelter” located in the heart of the city, at the bottom of one of the main buildings. For him, there was no doubt about it, he was looking at a “door”, an entrance sealed by the Incas.

It is indeed an entrance, blocked by the Incas at an undetermined moment of history. In April 2012, an electromagnetic survey not only confirmed the presence of an underground room, but several. Just behind the famous entrance, a staircase was also discovered. The two main paths seem to lead to specific chambers. [The electromagnetic survey also revealed] a large quantity of gold and silver.

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An Insider’s View of a Fringe Archeology

I presented this paper at the annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, held in Zadar, Croatia, September 18–23, 2007, in a session called “‘Fringe’ Archaeologies: ‘The Other’ Past,” organized by archeologists Eleni Stefanou and Anna Simandiraki. This paper is in the form of a discursive essay, so if you were expecting a neatly developed argument, intricate footnotes, and a formal bibliography, you are going to be disappointed. I will, however, touch on a number of topics related to the title of this paper. And I will give enough hints for you to track down articles and books mentioned in the essay. First, let me establish my credentials as a “fringe” archeologist, one whose work is concerned with the development of an “other” past. Andrew O’Hehir, in “Archaeology from the Dark Side” (Salon.com, August 6, 2005), said about me, “Cremo is a singular figure on the scientific fringe. He is friendly with mainstream archaeologists and with Graham Hancock [author of Fingerprints of the Gods].” I find myself on many lists of “fringe” and “pseudo” archeologists and archeologies. Why? Since 1984, I have been researching archeology and history of archeology from a perspective derived from my studies in the Puranas, the ancient historical writings of India, which contain accounts of extreme human antiquity, inconsistent with modern evolutionary accounts of human origins. And for some reason my work has become known in academic circles as well as among the general public. Some archeologists and other scholars find this kind of thing, which they call “fringe” or “folk” archeology, threatening...
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The Fine Art Of Archaeological Hairstyling

Seeking to see other millennia when you look in the mirror? Janet Stephens is a master of what she calls forensic hairdressing — shown via a series of YouTube videos, she ingeniously recreates elaborate coiffure from ancient history, including the style of Roman empress Julia Domna, the Flavian-Trajanic "circle of hair", and the complex braiding of the priestesses known as the Vestal Virgins:
Historical hairdressing tutorials based on archaeological research and primary sources.
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Papyri Reveal Ancient Egyptians Practiced Voluntary Eternal Slavery To Holy Temples

I bet the church today wishes it could still do this. Sci-News writes:

About one hundred of 2,200-year-old papyrus slave contracts have revealed that ancient Egyptians voluntarily entered into slave contracts with a local temple in the Egyptian city Tebtunis for all eternity, and even paid a monthly fee for the privilege.

“I am your servant from this day onwards, and I shall pay 2,5 copper-pieces every month as my slave-fee before Soknebtunis, the great god,” say the papyri from the temple city of Tebtunis, as translated by egyptologist Dr Kim Ryholt of the University of Copenhagen.

“Many chose to live as temple slaves because it was the only way of avoiding the harsh alternative [of forced manual labor]; the temple was simply the lesser of two evils for these people. And for the temples, this was a lucrative practice that gave them extra resources and money.”

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More Strange Objects Unearthed From Famed Roman Shipwreck

Via USA TODAY, the ancient underwater wreckage which housed a 2,000-year-old quasi-computer that cannot be explained likely contains more devices:

Marine archaeologists report they have uncovered new secrets of an ancient Roman shipwreck famed for yielding an amazingly sophisticated astronomical calculator. An international survey team says the ship is twice as long as originally thought and contains many more calcified objects amid the ship’s lost cargo that hint at new discoveries.

The wreck is best known for yielding a bronze astronomical calculator, the “Antikythera Mechanism” widely seen as the most complex device known from antiquity. The mechanism apparently used 37 gear wheels, a technology reinvented a millennium later, to create a lunar calendar and predict the motion of the planets, which was important knowledge for casting horoscopes and planning festivals in the superstitious ancient world.

Along with vase-like amphora vessels, pottery shards and roof tiles, the wreck appears to have “dozens” of calcified objects resembling compacted boulders made out of hardened sand resting atop the amphorae on the sea bottom.

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Eight Million Dog Mummies Uncovered In Egyptian Chamber

We were not the first culture to deify our pets. Ahram Online reports:

During routine excavations at the dog catacomb in Saqqara necropolis, an excavation team led by Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo (AUC), and an international team of researchers led by Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University have uncovered almost 8 million animal mummies at the burial site.

“We are recording the animal bones and the mummification techniques used to prepare the animals,” Ikram said. “We are trying to understand how this fits religiously with the cult of Anubis, to whom the catacomb is dedicated,” she added.

Saqqara dog catacomb was first discovered in 1897 when well-known French Egyptologist Jacques De Morgan published his Carte of Memphite necropolis, with his map showing that there are two dog catacombs in the area.

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Ancient Arrowheads Challenge Traditional Timeline of Modern Civilization

File:Gesher Pre-Pottery Neolithic A flint arrowheads.jpg

Picture: Yaels (CC)

An older article that may have escaped the notice of some of our readers…and a great many archaeologists too.

Via Archaeology.org:

By studying a particular class of stone tools from the site—tools that looked a lot like arrowheads—University of Johannesburg archaeologist Marlize Lombard and private scholar Laurel Phillipson, ended up telling us a lot about the origins of modern human behavior.

First, a little background. Until recently, many archaeologists believed in an event they dubbed the Great Leap Forward, or the Upper Paleolithic Revolution. Some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, they theorized, Homo sapiens sapiens underwent some kind of neural reorganization—perhaps due to a genetic mutation–and suddenly became accomplished artists, jewelry makers, fishers, and sophisticated tool makers.

Dissenting archaeologists, however, suggested that the transition to behavioral modernity was a gradual affair unfolding over hundreds of thousands of years. And recently evidence of a slow transition has accumulated.

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Key Mayan Temple Tikal Irreparably Damaged By Tourists Celebrating The Apocalypse

December 21 did provide a minor doomsday of sorts for the Mayans, as a priceless temple was overrun and desecrated by hordes. The Telegraph reports:

Tourists flocking to Guatemala for “end of the world” parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archeological site and urban centre of the Mayan civilisation. More than 7,000 people visited Tikal on Friday to see native Mayan priests hold a colourful ceremony and light fires as the sun emerged to mark the new era.

“Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage,” said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site, located 340 miles north of Guatemala City. “We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site,” he told local media. Gomez did not specify what was done, [but] did say it was forbidden to climb the stairs at the site and indicated that the damage was irreparable.

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Vikings Grew Cannabis, Findings Reveal

Researchers say it is unclear whether the plant was used for hedonistic purposes or merely for producing cloth and rope, but I think we all know the answer. ScienceNordic reports:

The Sosteli farmsted, in Norway’s southermmost Vest-Agder County, offers strong evidence that Vikings farmers actively cultivated cannabis, a recent analysis shows. The cannabis remains from the farmsted date from 650 AD to 800 AD. This is not the first sign of hemp cultivation in Norway this far back in time, but the find is much more extensive than previous discoveries.

“The other instances were just individual finds of pollen grains. Much more has been found here,” says Frans-Arne Stylegar, an archaeologist and the county’s curator.

“We don’t know if hemp could have been used as a drug. Most of it was probably used in textile production,” says archaeologist Marianne Vedeler at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo.

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