Tag Archives | Archaeology

Tattoos May Have Originated As A Form Of Ancient Medicine

ancient form of medicineDid decorating the body begin as a form of mystical medicine 5,000 years ago? Archaeology Magazine writes:

Perhaps the most famous tattooed ancient man is Ötzi the Iceman, who died high in the Italian Alps more than 5,000 years ago.

It is Ötzi’s body, almost perfectly preserved by the snow and ice after his death, that provides unique evidence of early medicine. Ötzi is covered with more than 50 tattoos of lines and crosses made up of small incisions in his skin into which charcoal was rubbed. Because they are all found on parts of the body that show evidence of wear and tear—the ankles, wrists, knees, Achilles tendon, and lower back, for example—it’s thought that Ötzi’s tattoos were therapeutic, not decorative or symbolic.

When Ötzi was first studied, archaeologists were shocked because they had never before seen Copper Age tattoos, and because acupuncture as a treatment for joint distress, rheumatism, and arthritis was thought to have originated in Asia more than 2,000 years later.

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The First Ancient Human Artists Were Women

handprints

Did women invent art? National Geographic reports:

Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.

Archaeologist Dean Snow analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female. Women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men’s ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers.

“People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why,” said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration.

Because many of these early paintings showcase game animals, many researchers have proposed that they were made by male hunters. The new study suggests otherwise.

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Priestess Tomb Confirms That Women Ruled In Ancient Peru

priestess

A society in some respects more advanced than our own? Phys.org reports:

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.

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Ancient Egyptian Sphinx Mysteriously Unearthed In Israel

sphinx

Things not where they are supposed to be? Historical strangeness via CNN:

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.

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5,000-Year-Old Egyptian Jewelry’s Materials Came From Outer Space

egyptian

The International Business Times reports on the interplanetary origins of ancient human culture:

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.

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Entertainment Company to Excavate Infamous Atari E.T. Video Game Dump

250px-etvideogamecoverThere’s been a rumor  for decades that video game company Atari buried tons of unsold copies of its legendarily bad video game ET in a, Alamogordo, New Mexico dump. While Atari spokespersons at the time did confirm that they had dumped some material there, they described it as largely consisting of defective equipment (as opposed to defective ideas for video games). Now, entertainment company Fuel is planning to excavate the site to see what’s really under all of that New Mexico dirt.

Superficially, the story itself is little more than smirk-worthy. Even people who grew up playing the 2600 might only barely remember the ET game, and the history of video games based on movies is rife with missteps. Historical archaeologist Paul Mullens isn’t content with a superficial examination, instead taking a wider perspective on the activity in a short essay, which you can find at his blog.

Via Archaeology and Material Culture:

Nevertheless, there is something archaeologically telling in the popular allure of the project, and it is almost certainly that 30-year narrative about the ET game that a digital marketer would recognize as compelling.

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Has ‘Curse Of The Iceman’ Caused Seven People To Die Within One Year?

curse of the iceman

Call it superstition, but I would refuse to have anything to do with the Iceman at this point. Via Deutsche Welle:

A 63-year-old man dying of natural causes would normally raise few eyebrows. But when that man was a scientist connected to the discovery of a 5,300-year-old frozen corpse known as Oetzi the Iceman — and the seventh such person to die within a year — talk about a curse is inevitable.

US-born molecular archaeologist Tom Loy was found dead in his Brisbane home two weeks ago as he was finalizing a book about Oetzi, according to The Australian newspaper.

The director of the University of Queensland’s archaeological sciences laboratories had suffered from a blood-related condition for about 12 years. The condition was diagnosed shortly after he became involved with the Iceman.

Oetzi was discovered high in the Italian alps near the Austrian border in 1991. The rumor of the curse began a year ago when the German tourist who discovered the mummy, Helmut Simon, 67, fell to his death during a freak blizzard while hiking near the same spot where he saw Oetzi through the ice.

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Thousands Of 6,000-Year-Old Petroglyphs Discovered On Mountain In Mexico

petroglyphsAncient amazingness reported by the Daily Mail:

Symbols of fish and the sun, as well as intricate pattens of concentric circles have been found etched into stones on a remote mountain in Mexico.

Archeologists have discovered thousands of stunning stone-age carvings etched into rocks, which they believe that they were made by hunter-gatherers more than 6,000 years ago.

The etchings are known as petroglyphs and are generally patterns made up of concentric circles and wavy lines, although there are also more representative images of deer tracks. Scientists think the carvings could have been made as part of hunting initiation rites or even represent the stars.

So far, around 8,000 of the historic drawings have been found at the site, which measures two miles in radius and is the most important with so many of these ‘petrograbados’ in the Mexican state of Coahuila.

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Real Estate Developers Bulldoze 5,000-Year-Old Pyramid In Peru

5,000-year-old pyramidHere’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.

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Kazakhstan To Rebury Ancient Warlord, Fearing Curse

ancient warlord

Call the reburial a case of superstition triumphing over rationality, but, frankly, the Golden Man gives me the creeps too. RIA Novosti reports:

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.

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