Archive for Ancient History & Culture

Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca yields trove of relics

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) – A team of Belgian and Bolivian archaeologists has found more than 2,000 pieces of ceramic, gems and gold objects at an apparent ceremonial site beneath the waters of Lake Titicaca.

The most impressive of the items, some said to date back a millennium, are well-preserved puma heads carved of stone, while pieces of gold leaf were hammered into other anthropomorphic forms.

“We have found archaeological material from the Tiwanaku and Inca cultures among objects from the 19th to the 9th century,” project leader Christophe Delaere said during a televised meeting Tuesday with President Evo Morales.

Delaere said divers found the objects more than 20 feet (7 meters) underwater off the Island of the Sun. Also uncovered in the lake that borders Bolivia and Peru were the rudder and anchor of a pre-Columbian boat, he said.

Lake Titicaca, at more than 12,000 feet above sea level, was sacred for the Incas and Tiwanakus.

Jose Luis Paz, an archaeologist at the University of La Paz not associated with the expedition, said the discovery was not a first but was nonetheless significant.

Charles S. Stanish, a specialist in Andean anthropology at the University of Southern California, said the discovery looks legitimate based on the limited information available.

“Such offerings are known around the lake, particularly near islands,” he said via email.

via My Way News – Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca yields trove of relics.

World’s oldest temple built to worship the dog star

Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, may have been built to worship the dog star, Sirius.

The 11,000-year-old site consists of a series of at least 20 circular enclosures, although only a few have been uncovered since excavations began in the mid-1990s. Each one is surrounded by a ring of huge, T-shaped stone pillars, some of which are decorated with carvings of fierce animals. Two more megaliths stand parallel to each other at the centre of each ring (see illustration).

Göbekli Tepe put a dent in the idea of the Neolithic revolution, which said that the invention of agriculture spurred humans to build settlements and develop civilisation, art and religion. There is no evidence of agriculture near the temple, hinting that religion came first in this instance.

“We have a lot of contemporaneous sites which are settlements of hunter-gatherers. Göbekli Tepe was a sanctuary site for people living in these settlements,” says Klaus Schmidt, chief archaeologist for the project at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Berlin.

But it is still anybody’s guess what type of religion the temple served. Giulio Magli, an archaeoastronomer at the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy, looked to the night sky for an answer. After all, the arrangement of the pillars at Stonehenge in the UK suggests it could have been built as an astronomical observatory, maybe even to worship the moon.

Magli simulated what the sky would have looked like from Turkey when Göbekli Tepe was built. Over millennia, the positions of the stars change due to Earth wobbling as it spins on its axis. Stars that are near the horizon will rise and set at different points, and they can even disappear completely, only to reappear thousands of years later.

Today, Sirius can be seen almost worldwide as the brightest star in the sky – excluding the sun – and the fourth brightest night-sky object after the moon, Venus and Jupiter. Sirius is so noticeable that its rising and setting was used as the basis for the ancient Egyptian calendar, says Magli. At the latitude of Göbekli Tepe, Sirius would have been below the horizon until around 9300 BC, when it would have suddenly popped into view.

“I propose that the temple was built to follow the ‘birth’ of this star,” says Magli. “You can imagine that the appearance of a new object in the sky could even have triggered a new religion.”

via World’s oldest temple built to worship the dog star – space – 16 August 2013 – New Scientist.

‘Extraordinary’ Mayan frieze found in Guatemala

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have found an “extraordinary” Mayan frieze richly decorated with images of deities and rulers and a long dedicatory inscription.

The frieze was discovered by Guatemalan archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli, a professor at Tulane University’s Anthropology Department, and his team in the northern Province of Peten, the government said in a joint statement with Estrada-Belli.

“This is an extraordinary finding that occurs only once in the life of an archaeologist,” Mr Estrada-Belli said.

The archaeologists were exploring a Mayan pyramid that dates to 600 A.D. in an area that is home to other classic ruin sites when they came upon the frieze.

“It’s a great work of art that also gives us a lot of information on the role and significance of the building, which was the focus of our research,” Mr Estrada-Belli said.

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The high-relief stucco sculpture, which measures 8 metres by 2 metres, includes three main characters wearing rich ornaments of quetzal feathers and jade sitting on the heads of monsters.

via ‘Extraordinary’ Mayan frieze found in Guatemala | Space, Military and Medicine | News.com.au.

Digging for the truth at controversial megalithic site

It’s been raining at Gunung Padang, and the grass on the mountain’s precipitous eastern slope is slick with water and mud.

But geologist Danny Hilman, is undeterred. While others slip and fall around him, he trudges expertly down this hill tucked away among the volcanoes 120 kilometres south of Jakarta to show off two big holes he’s dug.

Since Dutch colonists discovered it in 1914, Gunung Padang has been known (though not widely) as the largest of a number of ancient megalithic sites in Indonesia.

Here our prehistoric forebears, moved by the area’s strikingly shaped columns of volcanic rock, built terraces into the mountaintop and arranged and stacked the stones for whatever indiscernible purpose motivated them.

And Hilman thinks there is much more to it under the surface. If he’s right – and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is enthusiastically encouraging his investigations – then buried beneath the piles of ancient stone is by far the oldest pyramid on the planet.

Hilman says it could predate the next oldest by a dozen millenniums or more, suggesting an advanced ancient civilisation in Java. ”It’s older than 9000 [years] and could be up to 20,000,” Hilman says, as he sits on a fallen column of stone. ”It’s crazy, but it’s data.”

Proving the authenticity of these ancient ruins among the banana palms and tea plantations of Cianjur has taken on the aura of a nationalistic quest.

A test being conducted on this day is one in a series of geo-electric surveys. Men in gumboots arrange long loops of yellow cable on huge columnar rocks denuded of their topsoil.

Hilman stands on the muddy edge and points out what he says are patterns in the arrangement of the rocks. These patterns reflect the geological testing already undertaken, he says – that stones usually found upright have been laid horizontally on beds of gravel. Some are stuck together by an ancient form of glue, he says. These have been carbon dated indicating the sites are well in excess of 9000 years old, he says.

Below this are walls he describes as rooms, internal steps and terraces, all evidence of a massive building, of human intelligence and planning.

”The structure of the building is very good, it’s been defined by many lines of the geo-electric surveys, even 3D, even GPR [ground-penetrating radar] … and core samples,” Hilman says. ”We conclude that the archaeological site, the arrangement of these columnar joints, has laminated the entire hill so it’s 100 metres thick. We also think it’s not just one layer of building, but multiple layers.” They may have discovered archaeological human structures or features to a depth of at least 15 metres.

”It’s huge,” Hilman says. ”People think the prehistoric age was primitive, but this monument proves that wrong.”

But these views are loudly disputed.

More via Digging for the truth at controversial megalithic site.

Ancient statue discovered by Nazis is made from meteorite

An ancient statue that was recovered by a Nazi expedition in the 1930s was originally carved from a highly valuable meteorite.

Researchers say the 1,000-year-old object with a swastika on its stomach is made from a rare form of iron with a high content of nickel.

They believe it is part of the Chinga meteorite, which crashed about 15,000 years ago.

The findings appear in the Journal, Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

The 24cm (9-inch) tall statue is 10kg (22lb) and is called the Iron Man.

Origins unknown

The story of this priceless object owes more perhaps to an Indiana Jones film script than sober scientific research.

It was discovered in Tibet in 1938 by German scientist Ernst Schafer. His expedition was supported by the Nazis, in particular by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS. Himmler was said to believe the Aryan race originated in Tibet and was keen to recover objects from the area.

Absolutely priceless

The researchers believe it was carved from a piece of the Chinga meteorite that fell in the border region of eastern Siberia and Mongolia about 15,000 years ago.

The debris from the crash was only discovered in 1913 by gold prospectors, but the individual fragment from which the statue was carved was collected many centuries before.

“We were quite astonished by the results,” said Dr Buchner.

“OK, it’s a meteorite but what amazed me was that we could also say it was from Chinga, that we could find the provenance, that was really astonishing for me.”

The statue is believed to portray the god Vaisravana. The researchers think it belongs to the pre-Buddhist Bon culture that existed in Asia about 1,000 years ago.

“If we are right that it was made in the Bon culture in the 11th Century, it is absolutely priceless and absolutely unique worldwide,” observed Dr Buchner.

Full article via BBC News – Ancient statue discovered by Nazis is made from meteorite.

‘World’s oldest calendar’ discovered in Scottish field

Excavations of a field at Crathes Castle found a series of 12 pits which appear to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months.

A team led by the University of Birmingham suggests the ancient monument was created by hunter-gatherers about 10,000 years ago.

The pit alignment, at Warren Field, was first excavated in 2004.

The experts who analyzed the pits said they may have contained a wooden post.

The Mesolithic “calendar” is thousands of years older than previous known formal time-measuring monuments created in Mesopotamia.

The analysis has been published in the journal, Internet Archaeology.

The pit alignment also aligns on the Midwinter sunrise to provided the hunter-gatherers with an annual “astronomic correction” in order to better follow the passage of time and changing seasons.

Vince Gaffney, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at Birmingham, led the analysis project.

He said: “The evidence suggests that hunter-gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift of the lunar year and that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in the Near East.

“In doing so, this illustrates one important step towards the formal construction of time and therefore history itself.”

via BBC News – ‘World’s oldest calendar’ discovered in Scottish field.

The massive European network of Stone Age tunnels that weaves from Scotland to Turkey

Stone Age man created a massive network of underground tunnels criss-crossing Europe from Scotland to Turkey, a new book on the ancient superhighways has claimed.

German archaeologist Dr Heinrich Kusch said evidence of the tunnels has been found under hundreds of Neolithic settlements all over the continent.

In his book – Secrets Of The Underground Door To An Ancient World – he claims the fact that so many have survived after 12,000 years shows that the original tunnel network must have been enormous.

‘In Bavaria in Germany alone we have found 700metres of these underground tunnel networks. In Styria in Austria we have found 350metres,’ he said.

‘They are interspersed with nooks, at some places it’s larger and there is seating, or storage chambers and rooms.

‘They do not all link up but taken together it is a massive underground network.’

Some experts believe the network was a way of protecting man from predators while others believe that some of the linked tunnels were used like motorways are today, for people to travel safely regardless of wars or violence or even weather above ground.

The book notes that chapels were often built by the entrances perhaps because the Church were afraid of the heathen legacy the tunnels might have represented, and wanted to negate their influence.

In some cases writings have been discovered referring to the tunnels seen as a gateway to the underworld.

via The massive European network of Stone Age tunnels that weaves from Scotland to Turkey | Mail Online.

Mysterious Stone Structure Discovered Beneath Sea of Galilee

A Submerged Monumental Structure in the Sea of Galilee, Israel

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.

The mysterious structure is cone shaped, made of “unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders,” and weighs an estimated 60,000 tons the researchers said. That makes it heavier than most modern-day warships.

Rising nearly 32 feet (10 meters) high, it has a diameter of about 230 feet (70 meters). To put that in perspective, the outer stone circle of Stonehenge has a diameter just half that with its tallest stones not reaching that height. [See Photos of the Mysterious Sea of Galilee Structure]

It appears to be a giant cairn, rocks piled on top of each other. Structures like this are known from elsewhere in the world and are sometimes used to mark burials. Researchers do not know if the newly discovered structure was used for this purpose.

The structure was first detected in the summer of 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.

“Close inspection by scuba diving revealed that the structure is made of basalt boulders up to 1 m (3.2 feet) long with no apparent construction pattern,” the researchers write in their journal article. “The boulders have natural faces with no signs of cutting or chiselling. Similarly, we did not find any sign of arrangement or walls that delineate this structure.”

They say it is definitely human-made and probably was built on land, only later to be covered by the Sea of Galilee as the water level rose. “The shape and composition of the submerged structure does not resemble any natural feature. We therefore conclude that it is man-made and might be termed a cairn,” the researchers write.

More than 4,000 years old?

Underwater archaeological excavation is needed so scientists can find associated artifacts and determine the structure’s date and purpose, the researchers said.

Researcher Yitzhak Paz, of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University, believes it could date back more than 4,000 years. “The more logical possibility is that it belongs to the third millennium B.C., because there are other megalithic phenomena [from that time] that are found close by,” Paz told LiveScience in an interview, noting that those sites are associated with fortified settlements.

The researchers list several examples of megalithic structures found close to the Sea of Galilee that are more than 4,000 years-old. One example is the monumental site of Khirbet Beteiha, located some 19 miles (30 kilometers) north-east of the submerged stone structure, the researchers write. It “comprises three concentric stone circles, the largest of which is 56 m [184 feet] in diameter.” [Gallery: Aerial Photos Reveal Mysterious Stone Structures]

via Mysterious Stone Structure Discovered Beneath Sea of Galilee | LiveScience.

Ancient Builders Created Monumental Structures that Altered Sound and Mind, Say Researchers

Hal_Salflieni

The results of recent research suggests that ancient, or prehistoric, builders of the monumental structures found in such diverse places as Ireland, Malta, southern Turkey and Peru all have a peculiarly common characteristic — they may have been specially designed to conduct and manipulate sound to produce certain sensory effects.

Beginning in 2008, a recent and ongoing study of the massive 6,000-year-old stone structure complex known as the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum on the island of Malta, for example, is producing some revelatory results. Like its related prehistoric temple structures on Malta, this structure features central corridors and curved chambers. But this structure is unique in that it is subterranean, created through the removal of an estimated 2,000 tons of stone carved out with stone hammers and antler picks.

Low voices within its walls create eerie, reverberating echoes, and a sound made or words spoken in certain places can be clearly heard throughout all of its three levels. Now, scientists are suggesting that certain sound vibration frequencies created when sound is emitted within its walls are actually altering human brain functions of those within earshot.

“Regional brain activity in a number of healthy volunteers was monitored by EEG through exposure to different sound vibration frequencies,” reports Malta temple expert Linda Eneix of the Old Temples Study Foundation, “The findings indicated that at 110 Hz the patterns of activity over the prefrontal cortex abruptly shifted, resulting in a relative deactivation of the language center and a temporary shifting from left to right-sided dominance related to emotional processing and creativity. This shifting did not occur at 90 Hz or 130 Hz.

In addition to stimulating their more creative sides, it appears that an atmosphere of resonant sound in the frequency of 110 or 111 Hz would have been “switching on” an area of the brain that bio-behavioral scientists believe relates to mood, empathy and social behavior. Deliberately or not, the people who spent time in such an environment under conditions that may have included a low male voice — in ritual chanting or even simple communication — were exposing themselves to vibrations that may have actually impacted their thinking.” [1]

Researchers at the University of Malta are confirming the findings in an ongoing study.

But the Hypogeum is not alone in its peculiar sound effects. A study conducted in 1994 by a consortium from Princeton University found that acoustic behavior in ancient chambers at megalithic sites such as Newgrange in Ireland and Wayland’s Smithy in England was characterized by a strong sustained resonance, or “standing wave” in a frequency range between 90 Hz and 120 Hz.  “When this happens,” says Eneix, “what we hear becomes distorted, eerie. The exact pitch for this behavior varies with the dimensions of the room and the quality of the stone.”

Going further back in time, she points to the ancient 10,000 B.C. site of Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey. Built by hunter-gatherers, the site is thought by many scientists to be located in the area transitional to the first development of agriculture and domesticated livestock. Located on a hilltop, it consists of 20 round stone-built structures which had been buried. Those structures that have been excavated feature massive, T-shaped, standing limestone pillars. “In the center of a circular shrine,” she says, “a limestone pillar “sings” when smacked with the flat of the hand. Obviously made to represent a human with a decorated belt and hands carved in relief at its waist, it bears unexplained symbols in the area of the throat.

And now, new findings of a recent archaeoacoustic study suggests that the ancients of the 3,000-year-old Andean ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, in the central highlands of Peru, practiced a fine art and science of manipulating sound with architecture to produce desired sensory effects. With the assistance of architectural form and placement, and sounds emitted from conch-shell trumpets, the “oracle” of Chavín de Huántar “spoke” to the ancient center’s listeners.

via Popular Archaeology.

‘Gate to Hell’ found in Turkey: Hierapolis temple doorway matches mythical ‘portal to the underworld’

Site in ancient city of Hierapolis, now Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey matches historical descriptions of what was thought be entrance to hell birds flying past are killed by noxious gasses emanating from the doorway inscriptions on temple columns are dedications to gods of the underworld.

It sounds like the plot for a new Indiana Jones film.

Archaeologists say they have discovered the ‘Gates of Hell’, the mythical portal to the underworld in Greek and Roman legend.

The site, in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey, is said to closely match historical descriptions of what was known as Ploutonion in Greek and Plutonium in Latin. 

Describing the site, the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BC — about 24 A.D.) said: ‘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. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.’

But now a team led by Italian Archaeologist Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento, has discovered what they believe to be the ruins of the site.

Announcing the discovery at a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul, Mr D’Andria said he and his team had managed to pinpoint the location by reconstructing the route of a thermal springs.

Archaeologists now believe that a large statue found at the site, previously believed to depict the god Apollo, is actually showing Hades

Archaeologists now believe that a large statue found at the site, previously believed to depict Apollo, is actually of Hades, Greek god of the underworld

Among the ruins the archaeologists found a cave with Ionic semi columns upon which were inscriptions with dedications to the gods of the underworld — Pluto and Kore.

via ‘Gate to Hell’ found in Turkey: Hierapolis temple doorway matches mythical ‘portal to the underworld’ | Mail Online.

35 Ancient Pyramids Discovered in Sudan Necropolis

At least 35 small pyramids, along with graves, have been discovered clustered closely together at a site called Sedeinga in Sudan.Discovered between 2009 and 2012, researchers are surprised at how densely the pyramids are concentrated. In one field season alone, in 2011, the research team discovered 13 pyramids packed into roughly 5,381 square feet 500 square meters, or slightly larger than an NBA basketball court.They date back around 2,000 years to a time when a kingdom named Kush flourished in Sudan. Kush shared a border with Egypt and, later on, the Roman Empire. The desire of the kingdom’s people to build pyramids was apparently influenced by Egyptian funerary architecture.

Among the discoveries are pyramids with a circle built inside them, cross-braces connecting the circle to the corners of the pyramid. Outside of Sedeinga only one pyramid is known to have been built in this way. CREDIT: Photo copyright Vincent Francigny/SEDAUAt Sedeinga, researchers say, pyramid building continued for centuries. “The density of the pyramids is huge,” said researcher Vincent Francigny, a research associate with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, in an interview with LiveScience. “Because it lasted for hundreds of years they built more, more, more pyramids and after centuries they started to fill all the spaces that were still available in the necropolis.

via 35 Ancient Pyramids Discovered in Sudan Necropolis | Unexplained things are out there..

The Mars-Earth Connection

Disclose.tvUFOTV: The Mars-Earth Connection: Cydonia in Ancient Science and Mythology – David Flynn

David Flynn is a well-known mythologist and expert on Cydonia / Mars anomalies, occult mythology, and zodiacal and processional phenomena. This presentation represents David’s research that is the bases of his book “Cydonia and the Mysteries of Mars.”The conclusions presented here will shock and amaze you! Boldly going where no scientists have gone before… The Debate! The Conclusions! The Wonder! Scholars, theologians and scientists came together at the University of Wisconsin for an all-day, mind-blowing discussion on the questions of “God, Man, and E.T.” Captured in spectacular cinematic style, packed with stunning imagery, computer animation and a Symphonic music soundtrack, this program is the result of this historic event and compelling, wide-ranging discussion. Hosted by former CNN Anchor, Cheryll Jones. GOD, Man & ET: The Question of Other Worlds in Science, Theology, and Mythology

Climate change had political, human impact on ancient Maya

(Phys.org)—An international team of archaeologists and earth science researchers has compiled a precisely dated, high-resolution climate record of 2,000 years that shows how Maya political systems developed and disintegrated in response to climate change. The researchers reconstructed rainfall records from stalagmite samples collected from Yok Balum Cave, located nearly three miles from ancient city of Uxbenka, in the tropical Maya Lowlands in southern Belize. They compared their findings to the rich political histories carved on stone monuments at Maya cities throughout the region.

The role of climate change in the development and demise of classic Maya civilization, ranging from AD 300 to 1000, has been controversial for decades because of a lack of well-dated climate and archaeological evidence. But an international team of archaeologists and earth science researchers has compiled a precisely dated, high-resolution climate record of 2,000 years that shows how Maya political systems developed and disintegrated in response to climate change.

Researchers find linkages between climate change and political, human impacts among ancient Maya

An international team of archaeologists and earth science researchers has compiled a precisely dated, high-resolution climate record of 2,000 years that shows how Maya political systems developed and disintegrated in response to climate change. Credit: Claire Ebert, Penn State

In an article published Nov. 9 in the journal Science, the researchers outlined how they reconstructed rainfall records from stalagmite samples collected from Yok Balum Cave, located nearly three miles from ancient city of Uxbenka, in the tropical Maya Lowlands in southern Belize. They compared their findings to the rich political histories carved on stone monuments at Maya cities throughout the region.

“Unusually high amounts of rainfall favored an increase in food production and an explosion in the population between AD 450 and 660” said Dr. Douglas Kennett, lead author and professor of anthropology at Penn State. “This led to the proliferation of cities like Tikal, Copan and Caracol across the Maya lowlands. The new climate data show that this salubrious period was followed by a general drying trend lasting four centuries that was punctuated by a series of major droughts that triggered a decline in agricultural productivity and contributed to societal fragmentation and political collapse. The most severe drought (AD 1020 and 1100) in the record occurs after the widespread collapse of Maya state centers (referred to as the Maya collapse) and may be associated with widespread population decline in the region.”

via Climate change had political, human impact on ancient Maya.