Tag Archives | Archaeology

Was Stonehenge A Site Of Ancient Mass-Hedonism Festivals?

Is Stonehenge far less lofty than previously believed? Phys.org reports:

British researchers on Saturday unveiled a new theory saying Stonehenge was originally a graveyard and venue for mass celebrations. The findings would overturn the long-held belief that the ancient stone circle was created as an astronomical calendar or observatory.

A team of archaeologists led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London carried out a decade of research which included excavations, laboratory work and the analysis of 63 sets of ancient human remains. They said the original Stonehenge Appeared to have been a graveyard built around 3000 BC. Analysis of cattle teeth from 80,000 animal bones excavated from the site also suggest that around 2500 BC, Stonehenge was the site of vast communal feasts.

“People came with their animals to feast at Stonehenge from all corners of Britain—as far afield as Scotland,” Parker Pearson said—the “only time in prehistory that the people of Britain were unified.”

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Mythic Viking Navigation Crystal May Have Been Found In Shipwreck

The first ever found remnant of a sunstone, a crystal which legend says was behind the Vikings’ incredible feats of oceanic navigation? Via CBS News:

A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed to have helped Vikings and other medieval seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.

In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal – a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel – worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud or fog, or below the horizon.

Icelandic legend appears to refers to such a crystal [but] few other medieval references to sunstones have been found, and no such crystals have ever been recovered from Viking tombs or ships.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Pile Of Hundreds Of Ancient Sacrificed Skulls Discovered In Mexico

Imagine going swimming in the (now drained) lake, not knowing what lay below. Via Live Science:

Archaeologists have unearthed a trove of skulls in Mexico that may have once belonged to human sacrifice victims. The skulls, which date between A.D. 600 and 850, are “potentially evidence of the largest mass human sacrifice in ancient Meso-America.”

[The site is] in a now drained lake called Lake Xaltocan. To date, more than 150 skulls have been discovered there, as well as a shrine with incense burners, water-deity figurines and pottery suggesting a ritual purpose.

The findings shake up existing notions of the culture of the day, because the site is not associated with Teotihuacan or other regional powers. The shrines and the fact that sacrifice victims were mostly male suggest they were carefully chosen, not simply the result of indiscriminate slaughter of a whole village.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

They’ve Found Genghis Khan’s Tomb…Maybe

Picture: Portrait of Genghis Khan, anonymosu court painter (PD)

A team of American and Mongolian scholars may have discovered the final resting place of one of history’s greatest warriors, Genghis Khan. The discovery, if confirmed to be true, could prove to be problematic for a variety of reasons. Khan is still revered in Mongolia, and disturbing his tomb in the name of science would upset many Mongolians. The Chinese government fear that the site could be a touchstone for troublesome political action.

Via Daily Beast:

Altan Khuyag, a 53-year-old herder and forest ranger, offers us a cup of warm milky tea, insisting that we stay the night, in a typical display of Mongol friendliness. Among the nomads, reciprocal hospitality is a vital part of life on the steppe. When I ask about Genghis, he dips his ring finger into a bowl of vodka, flicking a drop to the sky, towards Tengri, the god of the blue heaven.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Engraved Stone Discovered in China May Suggest Complex Language Existed 30,000 Years Ago

Picture: "The Tower of Babel" by Bruegel the Elder (PD)

An artifact unearthed in north China may suggest that complex language systems may have existed in the area as early as 30,000 years ago. The item is a stone engraved with a series of lines deliberately carved by human hands. Dr. Fei Peng, a postgraduate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences had this to say concerning the stone, as well as an ostrich egg bead also discovered at the site:

Via Sci-News:

“Furthermore, creation of such an engraved object may indicate the possible existence of complex communicative systems such as language,” he said.

“In addition to the engraved stone artifact, one ostrich egg bead was unearthed from Locality 1. The lithic assemblage of this locality includes blade production and elongated tool blanks. The blade technology was probably introduced from the Altai region of Russian Siberia, according to comparison between lithic assemblages.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

North Korea Claims To Have Discovered Ancient Unicorn Habitat

The Guardian reports on North Korean cryptozoology:

The inimitable Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has now broken the incredible news that archaeologists in Pyongyang have discovered a unicorn’s lair.

Or rather, the report says that they have “recently reconfirmed” the lair of one of the unicorns ridden by the ancient Korean King Tongmyong, founder of a kingdom which ruled parts of China and the Korean peninsula from the the 3rd century BC to 7th century AD.

The KCNA goes on to state that the location happens to be 200 metres from a temple in the North Korean capital, adding: “A rectangular rock carved with words “Unicorn Lair” stands in front…The carved words are believed to date back to the period of Koryo Kingdom (918-1392).” Archaeologists from the Academy of Social Sciences at North Korea’s History Institute were credited with making the discovery.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Workers Discover Ruins of Bali’s Largest Hindu Temple

Picture: PHGCOM (CC)

Via Raw Story:

Balinese laborers digging a drain in the city of Denpasar have uncovered the remains of an enormous Hindu temple:

They reported the discovery to the Bali archaeology office, which then unearthed substantial foundations of a structure that the excavation team believes dates from around the 13th to 15th centuries.

“We think this is the biggest ancient Hindu temple ever discovered in Bali,” Wayan Suantika, the head of the team, said late Wednesday.

He said the excavation was still in progress and the team did not yet know whether enough stones would be unearthed to allow them to reconstruct the temple.

Hinduism has a very long history in Bali, having first arrived sometime around one AD. The population of Bali is almost 94 percent Hindu, whereas the majority (88 percent) of Indonesia is Muslim. It is estimated that twelve percent of the world’s overall Muslim population resides in the island nation.… Read the rest

Continue Reading