The 700,000-year-old Skull in Greek cave completely shatters the Out of Africa theory

The 700,000-year-old Skull in Greek cave completely shatters the Out of Africa theory

The 700,000-year-old Skull in Greek cave completely shatters the Out of Africa theory
The discovery of a fossilized human skull plus many other object led to the Petralona Cave being called the Parthenon of paleontology

The “Petralona Man,” or “Petralona Archanthropus” is a for 700,000 years old human skull found in 1959. Since then, scientists have tried to locate the origin of this skull, which has created tremendous controversy.

The skull, indicating the oldest human “Europeoid” (presenting European traits), was embedded in a cave’s wall in Petralona, near Chalkidiki in Northern Greece.

A shepherd mistakenly found the cave, dense with stalactites and stalagmites.

The cave and skull study was assigned to Dr. Aris Poulianos, an anthropologist specialist, member of UNESCO’s International Union of Anthropology and Ethnology, and president of the Anthropological Association of Greece.

Before that, Dr. Poulianos was already known for his thesis on “The origin of the Greeks”. His thesis was based on craniological and anthropometrical studies of Modern Greek populations, which proved that modern Greeks are related to ancient Greeks and that they are not the descendants of Slavic nations.

After the extensive study on the 700,000-year-old skull, he concluded that the “Petralona man” was not connected to the species that came out of Africa. His arguments were mainly based on the skull’s almost perfect orthography, the shape of its dental arch, and the occipital bone construction.

According to the “Out of Africa” theory, “anatomically modern humans” known as “Homo sapiens” originated in Africa between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago before spreading to the rest of the world. This theory was related to the fact that most prehistoric fossils were found in Africa.

In 1964, two German researchers, anthropologist E. Breitinger and paleontologist O. Sickenberg, who was invited to Greece, suggested that the skull was actually 50,000 years old, thus rejecting Dr. Poulianos’ theory.

Moreover, Breitinger claimed that the skull belonged to the “first African out of Africa”. A few years later, in 1971, US Archaeology magazine confirmed Poulianos’ statement.

According to the scientific magazine, the existence of a cave dating back more than 700,000 years and human presence in almost every geological layer were ascertained.

Additionally, the magazine affirmed that human presence became evident from the discovery of Paleolithic tools of the same age and the most ancient traces of fire that was ever lit by human hand.

The research continued from 1975 to 1983, when the excavation stopped and findings remained inaccessible to study until 1997.

Today, 50 years after the discovery of the “Petralona man”, modern methods of absolute chronology confirm Dr. Poulianos’ theory.

Most academics believe that the skull belongs to an archaic hominid with strong European traits and characteristics of Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and sapiens, but they distinguish it from all these species.

This incredible discovery raises new questions on human evolution and certainly challenges the “Out of Africa” theory.

A well-preserved lion mosaic discovered in the Ancient City of Prusias ad Hypium

A well-preserved lion mosaic discovered in the Ancient City of Prusias ad Hypium

A well-preserved lion mosaic discovered in the Ancient City of Prusias ad Hypium

Archaeologists found a lion mosaic during excavations carried out in the Ancient City of Prusias ad Hypium.

Excavations have been ongoing in the ancient city of Prusias ad Hypium, which is located in the Konuralp district of Düzce and is called the Ephesus of the western Black Sea.

The excavation team working in the area above the theater of the ancient city found the lion mosaic in a structure connected to the portico.

Experts believe that the newly discovered mosaic-tiled room represents a late Roman cult site (a space signifying the overall lifestyle of a society or group, encompassing specific values, beliefs, traditions, arts, and other cultural elements).

It was determined that the interior walls of the new find, whose wall dimensions are approximately 4.51×6.42 meters, were covered with marble plates on a thick layer of mortar and that the room had a rectangular plan in the north-south direction.

The mosaic was found in the area marked in red.

A platform foundation was also observed towards the north of the room. It was determined that the entire room was covered with a mosaic floor of finely crafted white, blue, yellow, green, and brown tesserae (small mosaic stones of various colors).

The mosaic, adorned with geometric patterns, features a border made of larger and more colorful tesserae arranged in a frame-like structure. In the center, within a smaller square frame made of smaller tesserae, a scene is depicted.

Experts state that the artifacts found in this room, with depictions of drums and flutes, indicate that it is a “Dionysus Cult Place”.

Düzce Governor Selçuk Aslan stated on his social media account, “During the ongoing excavations at Düzce Konuralp (Prusias ad Hypium) Ancient City, a well-preserved, rare mosaic depicting two lions looking at a pine tree with drums and a pan flute depicted on the tree branches,” he said.

Prusias ad Hypium, an ancient city located in the Konuralp District of Düzce was established on a hill that ran from east to west and ended in a plain.

In the 2nd century BC, the Bithynians, led by their king Prusias I, captured Kieros from the Mariandyns and Herekleia State. Prusias I improved the city and decorated it with many monuments. He also fortified it and changed its name to Prusias.

The city’s ancient theater, known locally as the Forty Steps, was built during the Hellenistic Age (300-30 BC) and includes additions from the Roman Period (30 BC-300 AD).

490-Million-Year-Old Trilobites Could Solve Ancient Geography Puzzle

490-Million-Year-Old Trilobites Could Solve Ancient Geography Puzzle

490-Million-Year-Old Trilobites Could Solve Ancient Geography Puzzle

The humble trilobites may be extinct, but even as fossils, they can teach us much about our planet’s history. Indeed, ancient arthropods from nearly half a billion years ago, including ten newly discovered species,  may be key to understanding Thailand’s place on the former supercontinent Gondwana.

Trilobites are extinct sea creatures with half-moon-shaped heads that breathed through their legs.

A 100-page monograph in the British journal offers great detail about the new species, including one named in honor of Thai Royal Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

The trilobite fossils were trapped between layers of petrified ash in sandstone, the product of old volcanic eruptions that settled on the sea floor and formed a green layer called a tuff.

Unlike some other kinds of rocks or sediment, tuffs contain crystals of zircon — a mineral that formed during an eruption and are, as the name of the rock layer containing them suggests, tough.

Zircon is chemically stable as well as heat and weather resistant. It is hard as steel and persists when minerals in other kinds of rocks erode. Inside these resilient zircon crystals, individual atoms of uranium gradually decay and transform into atoms of lead.

“We can use radio isotope techniques to date when the zircon formed and thus find the age of the eruption, as well as the fossil,” said Nigel Hughes, monograph co-author and UC Riverside geology professor.

It is rare to find tuffs from this particular period of time, the late Cambrian period, between 497 and 485 million years ago. “Not many places around the world have this. It is one of the worst dated intervals of time in Earth’s history,” Hughes said.

Artist’s rendering of a trilobite based on preserved soft body parts.

“The tuffs will allow us to not only determine the age of the fossils we found in Thailand, but to better understand parts of the world like China, Australia, and even North America where similar fossils have been found in rocks that cannot be dated,” said Shelly Wernette, former Hughes lab geologist now at Texas State University, and first author of the monograph.

The fossils were uncovered on the coast of an island called Ko Tarutao. It is about 40 minutes southwest from the mainland via high-speed boat and is part of a UNESCO geopark site that has encouraged international teams of scientists to work in this area.

For Wernette, the most interesting discovery was 12 types of trilobites that have been seen in other parts of the world, but never in Thailand before. “We can now connect Thailand to parts of Australia, a really exciting discovery.”

During the trilobites’ lifetime, this region was on the outer margins of Gondwanaland, an ancient supercontinent that included Africa, India, Australia, South America, and Antarctica.

“Because continents shift over time, part of our job has been to work out where this region of Thailand was in relation to the rest of Gondwanaland,” Hughes said. “It’s a moving, shape shifting, 3D jigsaw puzzle we’re trying to put together. This discovery will help us do that.”

Location of the fossil discoveries.

For example, take the species named for Royal Princess Sirindhorn. The species was named in tribute to the princess for her steadfast dedication to developing the sciences in Thailand. “I also thought this species had a regal quality. It has a broad headdress and clean sweeping lines,” Wernette said.

If researchers can get a date from the tuffs containing her namesake species, Tsinania sirindhornae, and determine when they lived, they will be able to say that closely related species of Tsinania found in northern and southern China are roughly the same age.

Ultimately, the researchers feel that the pictures of the ancient world hidden in the fossils they found contain invaluable information for the present day.

“What we have here is a chronicle of evolutionary change accompanied by extinctions. The Earth has written this record for us, and we’re fortunate to have it,” Hughes said. “The more we learn from it the better prepared we are for the challenges we’re engineering on the planet for ourselves today.”

Magnificent 2 Meters Tall Marble Apollo Statue And Other Artifacts Found In San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy

Magnificent 2 Meters Tall Marble Apollo Statue And Other Artifacts Found In San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy

 Archaeologists excavating at Bagno Grande in San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy, have all reasons to celebrate. The 2023 excavation campaign that lasted three months resulted in many new and exceptional discoveries.

Located 110 km southeast of Florence and 70 km southeast of Siena, Bagno Grande, San Casciano dei Bagni, Tuscany is of great historical and archaeological importance.

Magnificent 2 Meters Tall Marble Apollo Statue And Other Artifacts Found In San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy
A broken marble statue of Apollo was discovered in San Casciano dei Bagni.

Famous for its numerous springs of sulfurous waters spread throughout its territory, the San Casciano dei Bagni village has long attracted visitors from all over Europe.

As previously reported on Ancient Pages, archaeologists have been excavating at the site for a long time, and their work has been rewarding. Among the many finds, one can mention an extraordinary Etruscan and Roman treasure trove unearthed last year. Equally interesting are two dozen amazingly well-preserved bronze statues discovered in the thermal baths of San Casciano dei Bagni.

Thanks to the mud that protected them, the two dozen figurines and other bronze objects were found in perfect conservation, bearing delicate facial features, inscriptions, and rippled tunics. Alongside the figures were 5,000 coins in gold, silver, and bronze.

These are only a few fabulous archaeological finds at the site. The Italian archaeology team has now encountered an Etruscan structure beneath the temple with the large sacred Roman.

Experts are now studying several ancient inscriptions.

The thermal water that flows in the heart of the temple, with over 25 liters of hot water per second, is increasingly confirmed as the ritual and cultic engine of the sanctuary. Scientists are now also occupied with documenting the ancient inscriptions on the bronze statues.

The information will explain how the Etruscans and Romans used the temple and sacred basin. One of the most intriguing unearthed inscriptions is bilingual Etruscan-Latin.

One of many ancient objects found in San Casciano dei Bagni.

It is a rare example of bilingual inscriptions ever found, currently examined by Adriano Maggiani and Gian Luca Gregori. Etruria has around thirty bilingual inscriptions, but most are funerary inscriptions. In this case, the monumental donation has a public character and mentions the sacred and hot source in Etruscan and Latin.

This is an extraordinary document that confirms the coexistence of different people at the sanctuary still at the beginning of the 1st century AD, with the need for divinity to be understood by all.

One of the most surprising discoveries occurred when archaeologists excavating inside the temple stumbled upon broken parts of a marvelous marble statue of a beardless, young Apollo with lizards.

Archaeologists found the Apollo statue inside the temple.

The statue was broken when the sanctuary was closed at the beginning of the 5th century AD. In fact, this is when the entire place of worship was ritually closed, probably as a result of the widespread Christianization of the territory.

The statue had been deliberately broken.

While the votive deposit was protected with the deposition of the large travertine columns that decorated the temple portico, the cult statue of Apollo was broken and fragmented.

The pieces were almost scattered and then covered by the embankments of the site’s abandonment. In parallel with what we still know and observe today – the “contestation of the statue” coincides with a moment of profound transformation and significant political and social questions.

Many examples of Apollo cults have been linked to thermal waters since archaic times. Apollo appears in San Casciano dei Bagni starting from 100 B.C. if we think of the dancing bronze statue with a bow placed in the oldest basin and exhibited in the Quirinale Palace.

Credit: Unione dei Comuni Valdichiana Senese

The deity’s name occurs on at least two travertine altars from the Bagno Grande. Therefore, the marble statue adds a piece of the presence of the god but in a sanctuary which, at least from the 2nd century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., was centered on the role of Apollo.

The archaeological excavation of the site covered approximately 400 m2, reaching a depth from the ground level in some points of over four meters.

Future digs will undoubtedly result in more exciting archaeological discoveries, shedding even more light on this fascinating ancient site.

Ancient Roman Military Camp Unearthed in Eastern Germany

Ancient Roman Military Camp Unearthed in Eastern Germany

Ancient Roman Military Camp Unearthed in Eastern Germany
The building floor plans formerly belonged to rectangular cult buildings made of clay framework. In front of them was a small portico made of two columns.

Archaeologists in Germany have unearthed the foundations of two temples and a shallow, circular ditch at a former Roman camp.

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of two Roman temples and a sacrificial pit in Germany.

The building remnants, located at the site of a former Roman camp known as Haltern in northwestern Germany, are the first known instances of temples found at a Roman military site, according to a translated statement.

During excavations, archaeologists unearthed the clay frameworks of the rectangular buildings.

The last time researchers explored the site was in 1928, but the findings were since reburied to help preserve the existing structures.

The twin temples were once part of a larger building complex that measured roughly 21,500 square feet (2,000 square meters).

Archaeologists initially thought one of the buildings was used as a meeting house, or “schola,” for military officials and later as a workshop, based on some of the tools found strewn about the site. They’re currently not sure of the second building’s purpose.

In the excavation area of the former military camp, the foundations of the temples can still be seen as faint soil discoloration.

“[The constructions] were based on the typical large podium temples made of stone that could be found in numerous Roman cities at the time of Emperor Augustus,” Bettina Tremmel, an archaeologist with the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe (LWL) in Germany, said in the statement.

Augustus, the great-nephew and adopted heir of Julius Caesar, ruled as the empire’s first emperor from 31 B.C. to A.D. 14.

Between the two structures, researchers found a shallow, circular sacrificial pit—a surprising find, considering “the construction of a grave within a settlement was forbidden under Roman law,” according to the statement.

No human remains have been found at the site thus far.

“In our current state of research, the two small temples and the niche building with the burning pit are a unique building group within a Roman camp,” Michael Rind, director of archaeology at LWL, said in the statement.

“Previous archaeologists have already puzzled over the function of these buildings.”

Archaeologists unearthed a pot of copper coins in first major discovery at Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan, in 93 years

Archaeologists unearthed a pot of copper coins in first major discovery at Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan, in 93 years

Archaeologists unearthed a pot of copper coins in first major discovery at Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan, in 93 years

A pot full of copper coins was discovered from a stupa (a dome-shaped building erected as a Buddhist shrine) at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mohenjo Daro during conservation work in Pakistan’s Sindh province.

Mohenjo Daro, or “Mound of the Dead” is an ancient Indus Valley Civilization city that flourished between 2600 and 1900 BCE. The ruins of the huge city of Moenjodaro – built entirely of unbaked brick lie in the Indus Valley. The site was discovered in the 1920s.

The Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro are the best preserved urban settlement in South Asia. The acropolis, set on high embankments, the ramparts, and the lower town, which is laid out according to strict rules, provide evidence of an early system of town planning.

Experts evaluated the discovery of the pot filled with copper coins as the first significant artifact discovery in 5,000-year-old city ruins after 93 years.

Director of Archaeology Mohenjodaro, Dr Syed Shakir Shah, who led the team comprising archaeological conservator Ghulam Shabir Joyo, had confirmed that the staff busy with preservation work had stumbled upon the pot of coins on Wednesday.

Shah said laborers recovered the pot of coins during excavation but buried it again. Later some of them informed the officials of the archives department who then dug them out.

The team continued the work for three hours and safely secured the coins buried in the debris along with the jar wherein they were kept. Officials said the jar of coins weighing about five and a half kilograms was later shifted to the soil testing laboratory at the site.

The pot of coins.

Sheikh Javed Sindhi, who was engaged in research at the site, said that previously, 4,348 copper coins were excavated by R.D. Banerji, Sir John Marshall, and Mackay from 1922 to 1931. These coins belonged to the Kushan Period dating back to the 2 to 5 Century AD, he said. “The present discovery is remarkable after 93 years and its credit goes to the Mohenjodaro team,” he said.

Shakir Shah told journalists later that most probably the coins belonged to the Kushan Period.

“Though we have shifted the coins to the laboratory [for the time being] we will definitely hire experts to confirm the period which could be revealed from the inscriptions on the coins. We have to look for which dynasties of the Kushan Period the coins belong to,” he said.

Rustam Bhutto, in-charge of the soil and water testing laboratory, said the treatment process for separating the amalgamated coins would take at least a month to make the figures and language on coins visible.

Ali Haidar Gadhi, senior conservationist at said that Mr Banerji discovered nearly 2,000 coins, 338 of which were of the period of Kushan ruler Vasudeva-1 with standing royal figure on obverse and Shiva on the reverse and the bulk comprising 1,823 un-inscribed cast copper coins. “Another nine had fire altar on the obverse and a crude figure on reverse,” he said.

Mohenjo Daro.

“Although subsequent investigations suggest a break between the end of the Indus occupation and the Kushan phase, it is unlikely that the site was ever totally abandoned due to its high position and the protection it afforded against floods,” he said.

The Kushans existed from around the 1st century CE to the 3rd century CE and played a significant role in connecting various regions through trade, diplomacy, and cultural exchange.

The first Kushan ruler was Kujula Kadphises, who may be identified with the Yabgu of Guishuang named Qiu Jiuque in Hou Han shu. Numismatic evidence shows that Kujula Kadphises continued to imitate posthumous types of coinage of the last Indo-Greek ruler in central Afghanistan.

Other copper coins issued by Kujula Kadphises copy the royal portrait on the obverse from gold coins of the Roman emperor Augustus (31 BCE – 14 CE). The image of the seated Roman emperor is transformed into a Kushan ruler, who is identified as Kujula Kadphises in Greek and Kharosthi legends. As the Kushans progressed further into northwestern India, Kujula Kadphises adopted the title “Great King, King of Kings” on coins patterned on those of Saka and Parthian rulers.

While evidence from coins and inscriptions at Rabatak and Surkh Kotal clearly shows that the Kushans maintained Iranian religious beliefs and practices, other inscriptions show that Kushan officials under Kaniska and his successors patronized Buddhists. The fire altar on previously discovered coins has Iranian influences.

Massive Ancient Mosaic Floor Discovered in Turkey

Massive Ancient Mosaic Floor Discovered in Turkey

Archaeological excavations in the Incesu district of the Kayseri province in Central Anatolia, Turkey have turned up the largest floor mosaic in the Cappadocia region. 

Detail of the floor mosaic excavated in the Incesu district of Kayseri, Turkey, on November 10, 2023.

Measuring a whopping 600 square meters or more than 6,400 square feet, the tiled floor was uncovered in the Örenşehir neighborhood, within a villa that is estimated to date back to the 4th century.

The research, ongoing for three years now, has been carried out by the Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University, with the backing of the Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality. 

According to the university’s Can Erpek, who directed the excavation, the villa has roots in the Roman and Byzantine eras and was used long after the Turks arrived in Anatolia.

It encompassed a vast area and about 33 rooms, with “highly valuable” floor mosaics indicating the structure was a “high-level residence.” 

“In the Central Anatolia Region, which includes the Cappadocia region, we do not see such a large residence with floor mosaics,” Erpek said in a statement, adding, “We have not yet fully reached the boundaries of this residence.” 

The excavation site in the Incesu district of Kayseri in Central Anatolia.

In a statement, Şükrü Dursun, Kayseri’s provincial director of culture and tourism, further highlighted findings such as a Latin inscription in an area believed to be a reception hall, Greek engravings, and other geometric mosaics.  

In particular, Erpek pointed out the discovery of the name “Hyacinthos” in the inscriptions, which the archaeologists believe belongs to an administrator and the villa’s one-time resident. 

Kayseri rose from the foundations of an ancient city known as Mazaca, a key stop along trade routes between the Greek colony of Sinope to Euphrates. In the fourth century, the province formed part of the thriving cultural landscape of Anatolia, which prospered under Roman rule.

Kayseri also served as a hub of Christianity during that time, housing a major monastic complex, built by Saint Basil the Great, which has not survived. 

See more images of the mosaic below. 

An aerial view of the excavation site in the Incesu district of Kayseri, Turkey, on November 10, 2023.
Detail of the floor mosaic excavated in the Incesu district of Kayseri, Turkey, on November 10, 2023.
An aerial view of the excavation site in the Incesu district of Kayseri, Turkey, on November 10, 2023
An aerial view of the excavation site in the Incesu district of Kayseri, Turkey, on November 10, 2023.
Massive Ancient Mosaic Floor Discovered in Turkey
Detail of the floor mosaic excavated in the Incesu district of Kayseri, Turkey, on November 10, 2023.

Enormous 18th-Century Ice House Re-Discovered Under London Street

Enormous 18th-Century Ice House Re-Discovered Under London Street

Enormous 18th-Century Ice House Re-Discovered Under London Street
Archaeologists from MOLA record the interior of the Regents Crescent ice house (c) MOLA

Archaeologist in London have re-discovered a subterranean ice house near Regents Park. Dating back to the 1780’s, the egg-shaped cavern was used to store ice, which was imported from as far away as Norway.

Made from bricks, the structure would have been one of the largests of its kind at the time, according to the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA).

The egg-shaped chambers measures 25 feet (7.5 meters) wide and 31 feet (9.5 meters) deep.

Archaeologist with MOLA found the ice house, also known as an ice well, along with its entrance chambers and vaulted ante-chamber, during preparation for the development of the Regent’s Crescent residential project.

MOLA said the ice houses is in remarkable condition, given that building directly above it were destroyed during the London Blitz of the 2nd World War, and that a subway line runs about 32 feet (10 meters) underneath, as the Guardian report.

A MOLA archaeologist brushes off the exterior of the ice house.

It is hard to believe that a structure as large as this could have gone missing, but the entrance was buried during clean-up operations after the Blitz.

“There was always an understanding that there was an ice house here somewhere, but we were not sure where,” David Sorapure, the head of Built Heritage at MOLA, told the Guardian.

“Even after we found where the entrance was, we were not quite sure how big it was, or how you got in.”

MOLA is working at the site on behalf of Great Marlborough Estates, which is currently redeveloping Regent’s Crescent, which once boasted elaborate stucco terraces designed by architect John Nash, who also designed Buckingham Palace.

The ice well was built underneath the terrace in the 1780s by Samuel Dash, who had ties to the brewing industry. By the 1820s, ice-merchants and confectioner William Leftwich was using the Ice Houses to store and supply ice for wealthy Londoners, according to MOLA.

Schematic of the ice house.

While modern refrigeration had yet to be invented, that did not deter Englanders from wanting easy access to ice.

It was not possible back then to create ice artificially, so it had to be gathered from local waterways and stored in subterranean ice houses, of which there were thousands in London alone (though much smaller than the newly discovered ice house).

As the Guardian reports, workers at the ice house would descend into the chambers to collect pieces of ice when needed. The ice would have been delivered to customers, including restaurants and potentially doctors and dentists, via a horse-drawn cart.

While we may take access to ice for granted today, the frozen stuff was in high demand in Leftwich’s day. According to a MOLA press release:

Leftwich was one of first peoples to recognise the potential for profit in imported ice: in 1822, following a very mild winter, he chartered a vessel to make the 2000 km round trip from Great Yarmouth to Norway to collect 300 tonnes of ice harvested from crystal-clear frozen lake, an example of “the extraordinary the length gone to at this time to serve up luxury fashionable frozen treats and furnish food trader and retailers with ice” (as put by David Sorapure, our Head of Built Heritage).

The venture was not without risks: previous import had been lost at sea, or melted whilst baffled custom officials dithered over how to tax such novel cargo.

The newly re-discovered ice houses has now been designated a Scheduled Monument by Historic England. Restoration work is planned for the structures, along with the construction of a viewing corridor to allow public access.

Norwegian ice cutters handle blocks of ice harvested from frozen lakes, circa 1900.

All In One Magazine