Tag Archives | Ancient Civilizations

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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Decoding The World’s Oldest Undeciphered Writing

Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen (CC)

Can you read proto-Elamite? Soon, maybe you can, explains Sean Coughlan for BBC News:

The world’s oldest undeciphered writing system, which has so far defied attempts to uncover its 5,000-year-old secrets, could be about to be decoded by Oxford University academics.

This international research project is already casting light on a lost bronze age middle eastern society where enslaved workers lived on rations close to the starvation level.

“I think we are finally on the point of making a breakthrough,” says Jacob Dahl, fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and director of the Ancient World Research Cluster.

Dr Dahl’s secret weapon is being able to see this writing more clearly than ever before.

In a room high up in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, above the Egyptian mummies and fragments of early civilisations, a big black dome is clicking away and flashing out light.

This device, part sci-fi, part-DIY, is providing the most detailed and high quality images ever taken of these elusive symbols cut into clay tablets.

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5,000-Year-Old, Giant Elk-Shaped Structure Discovered In Russia

Ancient stone strangeness via NBC News:

A huge geoglyph in the shape of an elk or deer discovered in Russia may predate Peru’s famous Nazca Lines by thousands of years. The style of stone-working called lithic chipping used on one artifact dates it to the Neolithic and Eneolithic (sixth to third millennia B.C.).

The animal-shaped stone structure, located near Lake Zjuratkul in the Ural Mountains, north of Kazakhstan, has an elongated muzzle, four legs and two antlers. The animal stretches for about 900 feet at its farthest points (northwest to southeast), the researchers estimate, equivalent to two American football fields.

Fieldwork carried out this past summer has shed more light on the glyph’s composition and date, suggesting it may be the product of a “megalithic culture,” researchers say. A man named Alexander Shestakov first discovered the glyphs using satellite images. He alerted researchers, who sent out a hydroplane and paraglider to survey the giant structure.

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Cahokia: The First City In North America

While Europe was embroiled in the the Dark Ages, bustling Cahokia featured architectural marvels, and residents sipped a black coffee-like beverage and played a game similar to bocce ball. Via Live Science:

Cahokia was a city that, at its peak from 1050-1200 A.D., was larger than many European cities, including London. Located across the Mississippi River from modern-day St. Louis, it was the largest pre-Columbian city north of Mexico. The inhabitants of Cahokia did not use a writing system, and researchers today rely heavily on archaeology to interpret it.

Cultural finds from the city include evidence of a popular game called “Chunkey” and a caffeine loaded drink. Artistic finds include stone tablets carved with images (such as a birdman) as well as evidence of sophisticated copper working, including jewelry and headdresses.

The city fell into decline after 1200 A.D., becoming abandoned by 1400. The name “Cahokia” is from an aboriginal people that lived in the area during the 17th century.

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Google Maps Introduces Pyramid-View

Amazing, the Mayans’ breathtaking pyramids can now be wandered remotely. The Los Angeles Times reveals:

For travelers who’ve never been to the ancient Maya city of Chichen Itza, a virtual window into the site’s pyramids and plazas is available online, among 30 archaeological zones in Mexico now mapped by Google Street View. A viewer can almost feel like they might tumble into the Sacred Cenote, or natural sinkhole, where Maya priests practiced ritual sacrifice. Or imagine cavorting on the Plaza of the Thousand Columns.

Google and Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, announced the new maps last week. Using a 360-degree camera mounted on a bicycle, Google captured “street views” of other major archaeological sites in Mexico, such as Monte Alban in Oaxaca and Teotihuacan outside Mexico City.

Lesser-known Mesoamerican sites are also now mapped by Google Street View, including Tula in the state of Hidalgo and Xochicalco in Morelos.

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2,300-Year-Old Towers May Be The Peruvian Stonehenge

The Daily Grail on the meaning of a mysterious, ancient marvel sitting in the South American desert:

In the coastal desert of Peru lies a strange structure consisting of what appears to be a fort atop a hill, but with a vertebrae-like line of 13 towers constructed on a raised area to its south-east.

The fort is odd from a military point of view because it would have been almost impossible to defend: it has numerous entrances and no source of water inside. Then there are the towers, which are several hundred metres from the hilltop fort, lie in a straight line and serve no discernible defensive role.

So archaeologists put forward a new interpretation…the site may have been a place of worship and a solar observatory, like Stonehenge, rather than a fort. Their main evidence was that the towers line up with the sunrise on important dates such as summer and winter solstice.

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8,500-Year-Old Lost Civilization Doggerland Discovered At Bottom Of North Sea

Millennia ago, it was the heart of the continent, until sea levels rose, giving us the Europe we know today. A preview of how New York City will be spoken of when it is newly uncovered ten thousand years from now. The Daily Mail reports:

‘Britain’s Atlantis’ – a hidden underwater world swallowed by the North Sea – has been discovered by divers working with science teams from the University of St Andrews. Doggerland, a huge area of dry land that stretched from Scotland to Denmark was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC.

Divers from oil companies have found remains of a ‘drowned world’ with a population of tens of thousands – which might once have been the ‘real heartland’ of Europe. A team of climatologists, archaeologists and geophysicists has now mapped the area using new data from oil companies – and revealed the full extent of a ‘lost land’ once roamed by mammoths.

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