Linguists have recently reconstructed what a 6,000 year-old-language called Proto-Indo-European might have sounded like. This language was the forerunner of many European and Asian languages, and now you can listen to how it may have sounded. Proto-Indo-European (PIE) was spoken by a people who lived from roughly 4500 to 2500 B.C. The question became, what did PIE sound like? As linguists have continued to discover more about PIE, this sonic experiment is periodically updated to reflect the most current understanding of how this extinct language would have sounded when spoken some six thousand years ago. Since there is considerable disagreement among scholars, no one version can be considered definitive.
Tag Archives | Ancient History
A society in some respects more advanced than our own? Phys.org reports:
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The discovery in Peru of another tomb belonging to a pre-Hispanic priestess, the eighth in more than two decades, confirms that powerful women ruled this region 1,200 years ago, archeologists said.
The remains of the woman from the Moche—or Mochica—civilization were discovered in late July in an area called La Libertad in the country’s northern Chepan province. In 2006, researchers came across the famous “Lady of Cao”—who died about 1,700 years ago and is seen as one of the first female rulers in Peru.
“This find makes it clear that women didn’t just run rituals in this area but governed here and were queens of Mochica society,” said project director Luis Jaime Castillo. “It is the eighth priestess to be discovered,” he added. “Our excavations have only turned up tombs with women, never men.”
The priestess was in an “impressive 1,200-year-old burial chamber” the archeologist said.
Things not where they are supposed to be? Historical strangeness via CNN:
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A recent discovery of part of a 4,000-year-old Egyptian sphinx has been a most unexpected find in Tel Hazor in northern Israel.
Inexplicably buried far from Egypt, the paws of a sphinx statue, resting on its base, have been unearthed with an inscription in hieroglyphs naming King Mycerinus. The pharaoh ruled in 2500 BC and oversaw the construction of one of the three Giza pyramids.
“This is the only sphinx of this king known in the world – even in Egypt. It is also the only monumental piece of Egyptian sculpture found anywhere in the Levant,” said professor Amnon Ben-Tor, the director of the excavation, referring to the region spanning the east of the Mediterranean Sea.
Tel Hazor was the capital of the city of Canaan 4,000 years ago. The question of how the sphinx got to Tel Hazor will likely remain a mystery.
The International Business Times reports on the interplanetary origins of ancient human culture:
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A set of funeral beads which could be the oldest iron artifacts on earth actually came from outer space, archaeologists have claimed.
The nine iron beads, which were found in a 5000-year-old Egyptian cemetery in 1911, were made from a meteorite that crashed to earth around 3200 BC, according to a study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
“These beads were made from meteoritic iron, and shaped by careful hammering of the metal into thin sheets before rolling them into tubes,” researchers noted, adding that neutron and X-ray scanning of the iron beads proved that the metal came from a meteorite.
The iron was strung into a necklace together with other exotic minerals such as lapis lazuli, gold and carnelian. The findings suggest that iron and metal works were much advanced in the ancient Egypt than previously thought.
Do psychedelics produce the common shapes and patterns found in prehistoric cave art around the world? Alternet reports:
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Prehistoric cave paintings across the continents have similar geometric patterns not because early humans were learning to draw like Paleolithic pre-schoolers, but because they were high on drugs, and their brains—like ours—have a biological predisposition to “see” certain patterns, especially during consciousness altering states.
This thesis—that humanity’s earliest artists were not just reeling due to mind-altering activities, but deliberately sought those elevated states and gave greater meaning to those common visions—is the contention of a new paper by an international research team.
Their thesis intriguingly explores the “biologically embodied mind,” which they contend gave rise to similarities in Paleolithic art across the continents dating back 40,000 years, and can also be seen in the body painting patterns dating back even further
“The prevalence of certain geometric patterns in the symbolic material culture of many prehistoric cultures, starting shortly after the emergence of our biological species and continuing in some indigenous cultures until today, is explained in terms of the characteristic contents of biologically determined hallucinatory experience,” the researchers hypothesize.
Here’s hoping a nasty curse commences to haunt them. Via the Independent:
A 5,000-year-old pyramid in Lima, Peru has been torn down by two private construction companies. The El Paraiso pyramid, located in the San Martin de Porres, was one of the Americas’ oldest archaeological sites.
Archaeologist Frederic Engel said that the pyramid may have held between 1,500 and 3,000 inhabitants with over 100,000 tons of rock used in its construction, taken from hills in the surrounding area. It was likely used for religious and ritual purposes.
Archaeologist Marco Guillén Hugo, who was in charge of the research and excavation of the site, said that he had reason to believe that Compañía y Promotora Provelanz E.I.R.L and Alisol S.A.C Ambas were the private companies behind the destruction. According to The Ministry of Culture, the companies have previously laid claim to the land, but it is actually under state control.
Call the reburial a case of superstition triumphing over rationality, but, frankly, the Golden Man gives me the creeps too. RIA Novosti reports:
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Ever heard about the curse of the pharaohs? Well, how about the curse of a 2,500-year-old chief of a nomadic Scythian tribe that brings about floods, droughts, and livestock decimation?
The Scythian curse is real, say locals in a remote area of eastern Kazakhstan where the chieftain’s remains were discovered – and where they will be reinterred this weekend to appease his spirit, to the chagrin of archeologists.
In 2003, an archeological expedition dug up a burial mound in the Shiliktinskaya Valley to find a Golden Man – a presumed leader of the Saka tribe, a branch of the Scythian nomads that populated Central Asia and southern Siberia in the 1st millennium BC.
Since the mound was excavated, the area around it has been hit by several floods, a drought, a mass loss of livestock and an increase in births of children with learning disabilities, locals said, Kazakh television KTK reported.
Continuing Disinfo’s love affair with The Public Domain Review, this piece by Aaron Parrett on a 2nd century work of science fiction describing a surreal voyage to the moon:
With his Vera Historia, the 2nd century satirist Lucian of Samosata wrote the first detailed account of a trip to the moon in the Western tradition and, some argue, also one of the earliest science fiction narratives. Aaron Parrett explores how Lucian used this lunar vantage point to take a satirical look back at the philosophers of Earth and their ideas of “truth”.
The Greek-speaking rhetorician and writer Lucian of Samosata, born around 125 CE in what is now known as Syria, has had a somewhat mixed reception through the ages. Scholars agree that his contemporaries and successors viewed him with a great deal of respect. Early Christians were less admiring of Lucian and his pagan and vitriolic pen, though by the time of the renaissance, he had regained favor among learned people.… Read the rest
The 3,300-year-old Dream Book, via the British Museum:
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The meaning of dreams is a subject that fascinated the ancient Egyptians. This hieratic papyrus, probably dates to the early reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC).
On each page of the papyrus a vertical column of hieratic signs begins: ‘if a man sees himself in a dream'; each horizontal line describes a dream, followed by the diagnosis ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and then the interpretation. For example, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream looking out of a window, good; it means the hearing of his cry’. Or, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream with his bed catching fire, bad; it means driving away his wife’.
It is uncertain who the original owner was, but it passed into the hands of the scribe Qeniherkhepshef. The Dream Book was part of an archive, including a wide variety of literary, magical and documentary material, which passed down through [his] family.
Live Science reports on ancient architecture and monoliths designed to merge with figures in the sky:
An ancient astronomical alignment in southern Peru has been discovered by researchers between a pyramid, two stone lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice.
The longest of the two stone lines, called geoglyphs, runs for nearly a mile. Interspersed with these lines, researchers have also found more than 200 cairns (rock piles). The stone lines and cairns appear to be connected with four nearby ancient settlements and their pyramids.
Using 3D modeling, the researchers determined that during the time of the winter solstice, “Someone viewing the sunset from these lines during the winter solstice would have seen the sun setting directly behind, or sinking into, the adobe pyramid…Thus the pyramid and the linear geoglyph constitute part of a single architectural complex, with potential cosmological significance, that ritualized the entire pampa landscape.”