Tag Archives | Archaeology

Million-Mummy Cemetery Unearthed in Egypt

This image is of a child, around 18 months old, who was wrapped in a tunic and buried with a necklace and two bracelets on each arm. The jewelry makes the team think that the mummy is a girl but they cannot be sure. Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Kerry Muhlestein

This image is of a child, around 18 months old, who was wrapped in a tunic and buried with a necklace and two bracelets on each arm. The jewelry makes the team think that the mummy is a girl but they cannot be sure.
Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Kerry Muhlestein

via Live Science:

TORONTO — She’s literally one in a million.

The remains of a child, laid to rest more than 1,500 years ago when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, was found in an ancient cemetery that contains more than 1 million mummies, according to a team of archaeologists from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The cemetery is now called Fag el-Gamous, which means “Way of the Water Buffalo,” a title that comes from the name of a nearby road. Archaeologists from Brigham Young University have been excavating Fag el-Gamous, along with a nearby pyramid, for about 30 years.

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Amphibious Ichthyosaur Fossil Found in China Fills Evolutionary “Missing Link”

Ichthyosaur-fossil

via Inhabitat:

A team in China led by researchers from the University of California, Davis have discovered the first fossil of an amphibious ichthyosaur. Ichthyosaurs were dolphin-like marine reptiles that thrived for around 150 million years during the Age of the Dinosaurs. The discovery dates to the Lower Triassic period and marks the creature’s transition from land back to the sea. As the first evidence linking the marine ichthyosaur to its terrestrial ancestors it fills a significant gap in the fossil record.

The discovery of the fossil, named Cartorhynchus lenticarpus, is described in a paper recently published in the journal Nature. The fossil is about 248 million years old and measures roughly 16 inches (40 cm) long. UC Davis professor Ryosuke Motani and his colleagues discovered the specimen in China’s central-eastern Anhui Province. Unlike the later ichthyosaurs that were fully adapted to living in the sea, the fossil has unusually large flippers with flexible wrists, which could have allowed it to move around on land like a seal.

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Ancient City Ruled by Genghis Khan’s Heirs Revealed

Archaeologists with the Saratov Regional Museum of Local Lore have uncovered part of the ancient city of Ukek, founded by the descendents of Genghis Khan. Credit: Photo courtesy Dmitriy Kubankin

Archaeologists with the Saratov Regional Museum of Local Lore have uncovered part of the ancient city of Ukek, founded by the descendants of Genghis Khan.
Credit: Photo courtesy Dmitriy Kubankin

via Live Science:

Remains of a 750-year-old city, founded by the descendants of Genghis Khan, have been unearthed along the Volga River in Russia.

Among the discoveries are two Christian temples one of which has stone carvings and fine ceramics.

The city’s name was Ukek and it was founded just a few decades after Genghis Khan died in 1227. After the great conqueror’s death his empire split apart and his grandson Batu Khan, who lived from 1205 to 1255, founded the Golden Horde (also called the Kipchak Khanate).The Golden Horde kingdom stretched from Eastern Europe to Central Asia and controlled many ofthe Silk Road trade routes that connected China to Medieval Europe.

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Anthropology unlocks clues about Roman gladiators’ eating habits

anthropology

via Phys.org:

Roman gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank ashes after training as a tonic. These are the findings of anthropological investigations carried out on bones of warriors found during excavations in the ancient city of Ephesos.

Historic sources report that gladiators had their own diet. This comprised beans and grains. Contemporary reports referred to them as “hordearii” (“barley eaters”).

In a study by the Department of Forensic Medicine at the MedUni Vienna in cooperation with the Department of Anthropology at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Bern, bones were examined from a gladiator cemetery uncovered in 1993 which dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC in the then Roman city of Ephesos (now in modern-day Turkey). At the time, Ephesos was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and had over 200,000 inhabitants.

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Storm God Worship: Ancient Cult Complex Discovered in Israel

The foundations of the ancient cult complex in Israel were made of field stone (shown here). Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Itzhaq Shai.

The foundations of the ancient cult complex in Israel were made of field stone (shown here).
Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Itzhaq Shai.

via Live Science:

A massive cult complex, dating back about 3,300 years, has been discovered at the site of Tel Burna in Israel.

While archaeologists have not fully excavated the cult complex, they can tell it was quite large, as the courtyard alone was 52 by 52 feet (16 by 16 meters). Inside the complex, researchers discovered three connected cups, fragments of facemasks, massive jars that are almost as big as a person and burnt animal bones that may indicate sacrificial rituals.

The archaeologists said they aren’t sure who was worshipped at the complex, though Baal, the Canaanite storm god, is a possibility. “The letters of Ugarit [an ancient site in modern-day Syria] suggest that of the Canaanite pantheon, Baal, the Canaanite storm god, would have been the most likely candidate,” Itzhaq Shai, a professor at Ariel University who is directing a research project at Tel Burna, told Live Science in an email.

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‘Vampire grave’ found in Bulgaria

The skelton with an iron spike through the chest, which was supposed to stop the dead rising Photo: Rex

The skeleton with an iron spike through the chest, which was supposed to stop the dead rising Photo: Rex

via The Telegraph:

A “vampire grave” containing a skeleton with a stake driven through its chest has been unearthed by a man known as “Bulgaria’s Indiana Jones”.

Professor Nikolai Ovcharov – a crusading archaeologist who has dedicated his life to unearthing mysteries of ancient civilisations – said that he had made the discovery while excavating the ruins of Perperikon, an ancient Thracian city located in southern Bulgaria, close to the border with Greece.

The city, inhabited since 5,000 BC but only discovered 20 years ago, is believed to be the site of the Temple of Dionysius – the Greek God of wine and fertility. And among the finds at the site, which includes a hilltop citadel, a fortress and a sanctuary, are a series of “vampire graves”.

On Thursday Professor Ovcharov announced that he had found a remarkably-preserved Medieval skeleton at the site in what he termed “a vampire grave”.

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Ancient Animals: Fossils Could Be Remnants of the Earth’s Earliest Animals

Strange multicellular spherical fossils dating back 600 million years were discovered in South China'sDoushantuo Formation. Credit: Lei Chen and Shuhai Xiao

Strange multicellular spherical fossils dating back 600 million years were discovered in South China’sDoushantuo Formation.
Credit: Lei Chen and Shuhai Xiao

via Live Science:

A series of mysterious spherical fossils found in southern China may be remnants of some of the world’s earliest animals.

A new study finds that these controversial fossils are not likely to be bacteria or single-celled protists; their cells, preserved for more than 600 million years in rock, are too complex and differentiated. Instead, the fossils may be multicellular algae, or even the embryosof ancient animals.

“The real value of these fossils is that we now have some direct evidence about how this transition from single-celled organisms to things like animals and plants occurred in the evolutionary past,” said study researcher Shuhai Xiao, a geobiologist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. [See images of the strange spherical fossils]

Multicellular and differentiated

The bizarre fossils, known as Megasphaera, come from a rock layer in southern China called the Doushantuo Formation.

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700-year-old skeleton couple were uncovered still holding hands

These lovebirds have held hands for the past 700 years. | Credit: University of Leicester Archaeological Services

These lovebirds have held hands for the past 700 years. | Credit: University of Leicester Archaeological Services

via Live Science:

The skeletal remains of two lovebirds were uncovered, after being locked in a romantic embrace for the past 700 years.

Archeologists found the happy couple holding hands in an earthen grave during an excavation of a “lost” chapel in Leicestershire, England, researchers reported Thursday (Sept. 18).

“We have seen similar skeletons before from Leicester where a couple has been buried together in a single grave,” Vicki Score, University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) project manager, said in a statement.

Double graves are not that unusual. But it’s surprising that the two bodies were buried at the so-called “lost” chapel of St Morrell, only recently discovered by a local historian and a team of researchers, instead of at the local church. [8 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]

“The main question we find ourselves asking is why were they buried up there?

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1,000 Unmarked Bodies Found Buried Below University Of Mississippi

bodies_msOddly, the developers’ renderings do not include the massive stacks of corpses of mental patients, slaves, and Civil War casualties which will form the buildings’ base. Via the Huffington Post:

Burial sites found on a college campus have created a potential nightmare for administrators. While surveying land for a new parking lot at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, officials made a grisly discovery: more than 1,000 bodies thought to have been patients at the old Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum.

The unnamed, century-old graves present a problem for the university, whose expansion plans could be halted over the cost of relocating the bodies.

It’s possible there could be more unmarked graves belonging to tuberculosis patients, former slaves, or even Civil War dead. Experts think that future additions to the medical center and other buildings on campus will have to be reconsidered.

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Ancient Hunting Spear Predates Humans By 85,000 Years

spearDo the origins of civilization on Earth reach back significantly farther than we have realized? Discovery reports:

Remains of the oldest known stone-tipped throwing spears, described in a new paper, are so ancient that they actually predate the earliest known fossils for our species by 85,000 years.

There are a couple possible implications, and both are mind-blowing. The first is that our species could be much older than previously thought, which would forever change the existing human family tree.

The second, and more likely at this point, is that a predecessor species to ours was extremely crafty and clever, making sophisticated tools long before Homo sapiens emerged.

The new paper, published in the latest PLoS ONE, focuses on the newly identified stone-tipped spears, which date to 280,000 years ago. They were found at an Ethiopian Stone Age site known as Gademotta.

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