Tag Archives | Archaeology

Robot Discovers Unknown Passageways Below The Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl

quetzalcoatl

The hidden chambers could contain the corpses of the ancient civilization’s rulers, about whom very little is known. Via the Daily Mail:

A tiny robot has made a momentous archaeological discovery deep under the famous Temple of Quetzalcoatl, it was announced on Monday. The robot has spent months exploring the tunnels under the celebrated temple, which lies about 37 miles north of Mexico City. The temple is best known for the towering Pyramids of the Moon and the Sun.

Experts expected to find just one ancient chamber at the end of a stretch of 2,000-year-old unexplored tunnel at the Teotihuacan site. Instead, the remote-controlled vehicle has beamed back images of three mysterious caverns.

The complex of pyramids, plazas, temples and avenues was once the center of a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants and may have been the largest and most influential city in pre-Hispanic North America at the time. But nearly 2,500 years after the city was founded, very little is known about the identity of its rulers.

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60,000-Ton Underwater Pyramid Detected Beneath Sea Of Galilee

galilee

Deep sea diving teams will be dispatched to attempt to decode the meaning of the monolith, Live Science reports:

A giant “monumental” stone structure discovered beneath the waters of the Sea of Galilee in Israel has archaeologists puzzled as to its purpose and even how long ago it was built. Rising nearly 32 feet high, the mysterious structure is cone shaped and weighs an estimated 60,000 tons. That makes it heavier than most modern-day warships.

It appears to be a giant cairn, boulders piled on top of each other. Structures like this are known elsewhere in the world and are sometimes used to mark burials.

The structure was first detected in 2003 during a sonar survey of the southwest portion of the sea. Divers have since been down to investigate, they write in the latest issue of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. The researchers say the structure is definitely human-made and probably was built on land, only later to be covered by the Sea of Galilee.

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Ancient ‘Gateway To Hell’ Unearthed In Turkey

Ancient oracles approached the ancient portal and received hallucinations and visions from the noxious fumes belching forth, reports Discovery News:

A “gate to hell” has emerged from ruins in southwestern Turkey, Italian archaeologists have announced. Known as Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin — the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.

Historic sources located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and described the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapors. “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” the Greek geographer Strabo (born 64/63 BC) wrote.

The site revealed a vast array of broken ruins once it was excavated. The archaeologists found Ionic semi columns and, on top of them, an inscription with a dedication to the deities of the underworld — Pluto and Kore.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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