Tag Archives | Ancient Civilizations

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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1,000-Year-Old Mass Grave Of Elongated Skulls Found In Mexico

The remains of “lucky,” high-power individuals who had their heads ritually elongated have previously been unearthed across the globe in South America, Germany, and Greece. Was the goal to mimic the look of alien overlords? Via Yahoo! News UK:

An archaeological dig near the village of Onavas, south of Sonora in Mexico has uncovered strange elongated skulls from more than a millenia ago. The burial site contained 25 individuals, 13 with elongated skulls – reminiscent of the monster from Ridley Scott’s Alien.

The ‘cranial deformation’ in the skulls is actually intentional – carried out by binding the heads of babies to produce the bizarre effect. For pre-Hispanic cultures in the area, longer skulls were a sign of social status.

‘Cranial deformation in Mesoamerican cultures was used to differentiate one social group from another and for ritual purposes,’ said Cristina Garcia Moreno, the head of the research project. South American cultures such as the Maya and Inca practiced cranial deformation – and the practice was also known in Germany and Ancient Greece.

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Giant Spiral Labyrinth Discovered Within The Peruvian Desert’s Ancient Nazca Lines

No one knows what its purpose was, but wandering a large maze hidden in the desert is not my idea of a good time. Via Discovery News:

A large labyrinth lies in the midst of Peru’s Nazca Lines, according to the most detailed study on the enigmatic desert etchings created between 2,100 and 1,300 years ago. Completely hidden in the flat and featureless landscape, the labyrinth was identified after a five-year investigation into the arid Peruvian coastal plain land, about 250 miles south of Lima, where the mysterious geoglyphs are located.

The 2.7-mile labyrinth features 15 corners that would bring the walker away from and towards a large hill before turning into a spiral passageway. Walking the entire path would have probably taken about an hour. The labyrinth’s well-preserved edges suggest it was walked by a few people in single line. Unfortunately, there is no way to know the meaning of the structure and how it was used.

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Researchers Believe Greek Myth Of Hades Is Based On Real-Life Ancient Underground River-Cave Community Where Corpses Were Sent

Do not go here alone after dark. Live Science writes:

A giant cave that might have helped serve as the inspiration for the mythic ancient Greek underworld Hades once housed hundreds of people, potentially making it one of the oldest and most important prehistoric villages in Europe before it collapsed about 5,000 years ago and killed everyone inside, researchers say. Cave dwellers apparently used the cavern not only as a shelter, but also as a cemetery and place of ritual.

The complex settlement seen in this cave suggests, along with other sites from about the same time, that early prehistoric Europe may have been more complex than previously thought. The cave, located in southern Greece and discovered in 1958, is called Alepotrypa.

People apparently performed burials in the cave while conducting rituals that involved burning huge amounts of dung and depositing large amounts of colored and finely painted pottery. “The burial sites and rituals that took place really do give the cave an underworld feel.

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