Wednesday, November 29, 2023

This 3,000-Year-Old Stone Slab Found in Spain Is Upending Ideas About Ancient Gender Roles

Archaeologists have uncovered an unusual stone slab during excavations at Las Capellanías, a 3,000-year-old funerary complex in southern Spain.

Found alongside cremated human remains, the slab—also known as a stela—depicts an individual wearing a headdress and necklace, two items researchers typically associate with women. The figure also has two swords, which are often associated with men, as well as male genitalia.

The newly discovered stela is challenging historians’ understanding of gender roles in Iberian society.

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Forty slaughtered horses mark site of ancient mass sacrifices

Remains of horses and also some cattle bore evidence of ceremonial killings.
Credit: Construyendo Tarteso 2.0

Mass animal sacrifice is sometimes mentioned in ancient Mediterranean literature, such as Homer’s Odyssey, but archaeological evidence of the practice is rare.

María Pilar Iborra Eres at the Valencia Institute of Conservation, Restoration and Research in Spain and her colleagues studied 6,770 bones found at the Iron Age site of Casas del Turuñuelo in southwest Spain1. They found that the bones were buried in three phases in the late fifth century BC and came from animals including 6 cattle and around 40 horses.

Some horses were deposited in pairs. The researchers also found evidence of burnt plant offerings and objects associated with spiritual activities, such as sheep knucklebones used for divination. Together, the artefacts suggest that the animals died as part of ritual sacrifices.

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3,000-Year-Old Bronze Age Arrow is Discovered at Melting Ice in Norway

he arrow has a quartzite arrowhead on a birch shaft. (Photo: Espen Finstad/Secrets of the Ice)

Climate change is impacting temperatures around the world. Collapsing ice shelfs and melting glaciers regularly make the news as indicia of a warming planet and shifting ecosystems. The receding of the planet's ice is also exposing remnants of the past which have lain preserved under cold temperatures for hundreds, even thousands, of years. The glaciers of Norway have yielded particularly interesting finds from past inhabitants of the region. In the Jotunheimen Mountains, archeological group Secrets of the Ice recently discovered an exciting Bronze Age arrow, complete with shaft, quartzite arrowhead, and even several fletching feathers.

The arrow was discovered on one of the group's regular patrols over regions where they know warming temperatures are melting ice. If an ancient item is missed, it may be destroyed by the elements once the ice that formerly sheltered it is melted. Luckily, the Bronze Age arrow, dating to about 3,000 years ago, was discovered in time. It has a birch wood shaft and three feathers at the tail, which are the fletchings which help arrows fly. Such delicate materials have been frozen preserved under the ice since they were dropped millennia ago.

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Momentous Discovery Shows Neanderthals Could Produce Human-Like Speech

La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1, one of the Neanderthal skulls scanned for the study. (Eunostos/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Our Neanderthal cousins had the capacity to both hear and produce the speech sounds of modern humans, a study published in 2021 found.

Based on a detailed analysis and digital reconstruction of the structure of the bones in their skulls, the study settled one aspect of a decades-long debate over the linguistic capabilities of Neanderthals.

"This is one of the most important studies I have been involved in during my career," said palaeoanthropologist Rolf Quam of Binghamton University back in 2021.

"The results are solid and clearly show the Neanderthals had the capacity to perceive and produce human speech. This is one of the very few current, ongoing research lines relying on fossil evidence to study the evolution of language, a notoriously tricky subject in anthropology."

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Newly discovered underwater temple of Aphrodite leaves everyone in wonder and awe

Cover Image Source: Facebook | Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

History never ceases to amaze us and there is much out there that is still unknown. There were several generations that lived before us and many are yet to come into existence. So, when archaeologists and other experts discover something new about the old, it’s always a fascinating journey of understanding what really went down there. In 2000, French archaeologist and head of the European Institute of Maritime Archaeology, Franck Goddio, led a team that successfully located the ancient city of Thonis-Heracleion, which was Egypt’s only port on the Mediterranean coast about 2,500 years ago.

According to Franck Goddio’s official website, it was the only port that served as the entry point for all ships that were coming in from the Greek empire. However, in the eighth century, an earthquake struck the area and the region completely collapsed and disappeared into the sea. What followed was the erasure of Thonis-Heracleion’s mention, except for in ancient texts and rare archaeological finds.

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Thursday, November 9, 2023

Neolithic Mass Grave May Offer Evidence of Large-Scale Warfare

(Fernández-Crespo et al. 2023, Scientific Reports)

VALLADOLID, SPAIN—According to a statement released by the Nature Publishing Group, a team of researchers led by Teresa Fernández-Crespo of the University of Valladolid and her colleagues examined the remains of 338 individuals recovered from a mass grave in northern Spain. The bones were radiocarbon dated to between 5,400 and 5,000 years ago. More than 50 flint arrowheads were also recovered from the pit. A previous study determined that more than 30 of these points bore minor damage associated with hitting a target, while the new analysis of the bones determined that more than 20 percent of the individuals had skeletal injuries, and about 10 percent of them had unhealed injuries.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Massive Nordic Bronze Age Meeting Age Hall Discovered In Germany

The ancient hall was discovered during excavations of the area surrounding the “King’s Grave” in Seddin, northwest of Berlin.

Archaeologists have unearthed a massive Bronze Age building believed to be the meeting hall of the legendary King Hinz, who was purportedly buried in a golden coffin.

The discovery was made not far from a burial mound known as the “King’s Grave,” which some say is the place where King Hinz was buried. The mound itself was first discovered in 1899 and is widely regarded as the single most significant 9th-century burial site in northern Central Europe.

Excavations around the burial mound began in the spring of 2023 — a collaborative effort between the Brandenburg State Office for Monument Preservation and a team of archaeologists from the Georg-August University of Göttingen.

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