Dated to c. 1600 BC, the Nebra sky disk is one of the most important archaeological finds in the 20th century

Dated to c. 1600 BC, the Nebra sky disk is one of the most important archaeological finds in the 20th century

In the eastern German town of Halle, the 3,600-year-old Sky Disk of Nebra, the world’s oldest image of the cosmos, is the centerpiece of Europe’s greatest Bronze Age exhibition. When it was brought to the German public’s notice in 2002, having been found in the state of Saxony-Anhalt two years earlier, it caused a worldwide sensation.

Now the Sky Disc of Nebra — a bronze disc with gold-leaf appliques representing the sun, moon, stars, and a ship — is back in the limelight, at the opening of a blockbuster show entitled “The Forged Sky: The Wide World in the Heart of Europe 3,600 Years Ago.”

For the first time the disc, which is around 32 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter and weighs about 2 kilos (1 pound), will be on public view in its fully restored state.

Dated to c. 1600 BC, the Nebra sky disk is one of the most important archaeological finds in the 20th century
Archeologists have dated the disc to 1600 B.C.

1,600 artifacts

In addition to the oldest concrete representation of the cosmos known to date, the Forged Sky exhibit, at the State Museum of Prehistory in the town of Halle, will feature the Sun Chariot of Trundholm (Denmark) and 1,600 more of the most important archeological finds representing Europe in the Bronze Age.

When it was discovered, the Sky Disc was considered a key find not only for archaeology but also for astronomy and the history of religion. Deposited some 3,600 years ago, it was found on the summit of the Mittelberg hill, near the wooded area of Nebra in eastern Germany, together with valuable swords, jewelry, and tools.

The find initiated a new presentation of the Bronze Age world in Central Germany. The natural riches of this region — copper, salt, and fertile soils — formed the power basis for the resident Early Bronze Age princes, who exchanged goods from all regions of Europe. Mighty tombs, extensive bronze treasures, gold jewelry, and unique display weapons survive as their status symbols, and a representative sample of them is pulled together for the current blockbuster show.

Crowds expected

“Peoples’ interest in the disc since it was unearthed two years ago has not let up,” Saxony-Anhalt state archeologist Harald Meller told the DPA news agency. He explained: “We put the show together in record time, 18 months.”

Meller said he expects 100,000 people to visit the exhibit. If there is enough interest, he said, the show will be extended. The objects on view have been donated by 68 museums in 18 countries.

“Most of the objects, like burial offerings, cult objects, gold jewelry, and various decorated armaments, have never before been out on loan, and they will only be gathered together like this for the show in Halle,” Meller told DPA. Aside from European countries, Lebanon also loaned some pieces to the show.

Sun chariots and golden boats

For example, the organizers got special permission to borrow the 3,400-year-old Sun Chariot of Trundholm from its home at the National Museum in Copenhagen, for the duration of the Halle show.

Sun Chariot of Trundholm, Denmark

The National Museum had previously decided that, for security reasons, the 50 centimeters long, 30 centimeters high Sun Chariot should never again leave Denmark. Similarly, the 88 super thin golden ships from Nors, Denmark, are so brittle that they hardly ever leave the National Museum, according to museum director Flemming Kaul.

But having a group of artifacts from around Europe is important, because “We show that … there is a long process of developing knowledge about religion and astronomy in Europe, which is part of the history of mankind,” Meller said.

The disc itself was a cult object and describes the world view during the Bronze Age. People imagined the earth as a disc, with a dome-shaped sky covering it. A cluster of seven dots has been interpreted as the Pleiades constellation as it appeared 3,600 years ago.

A Nebra baker made this reproduction of the sun disc out of butter cream and marzipan.

At the same time, the piece is thought to be related to primitive observatories, one of which is the “German Stonehenge” in the nearby town of Goseck.

Archeologists believe the disc may have been used in the pre-calendar Bronze Age as an instrument for determining seasonal changes.

The popularity of the disc has led to a boom in reproductions. Demand for €800 ($990) copies of the disc is booming: “There are already 50 on order, and the fabricator can barely keep up with production,” Meller said.

On the other hand, the disc’s popularity can’t stanch the flood of lawsuits that followed its discovery. Although the copyright case was decided in favor of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, there is still a suit before the Halle appeals courts against two suspected fencers from North-Rhine Westphalia who claim the Sky Disc is a fake that was found outside of Germany.

The disc was found on July 4, 1999, by two convicted grave robbers. In February 2002 it was bought along with other Bronze objects from art fencers in a police operation in Switzerland.

Bulgarian Gangsters Busted for Looting 4,600 Ancient Artifacts from Historical sites

Bulgarian Gangsters Busted for Looting 4,600 Ancient Artifacts from Historical sites

After two years of investigation by Bulgarian, British, and German authorities, an international crime ring planning to smuggle thousands of ancient artifacts into England has been caught. According to The Times, the 4,600 items ranged from spears and coins to funeral urns, ceramics, and arrowheads.

The artifacts span from the Bronze and Iron Age to the Middle Ages. Some of the relics were illegally excavated from Roman-era military camps in Bulgaria. They were then smuggled into Germany, with the ultimate goal being legitimate sales in the London art market.

According to Heritage Daily, the gang chose Germany as its transit country and hired private U.K. transportation companies to bring the goods into England. Little did they know that Bulgarian police received a tip-off in March 2018 — after which surveillance on the group began in earnest.

Were it not for the successful sting operation on behalf of authorities from three different countries, the eight individuals now under arrest would’ve made several millions of euros. The remarkable goods, meanwhile, would have been likely been dispersed across private homes around the world.

A task force came together to stop the smugglers, coordinated by Europol and conducted by the General Directorate for the Fight against Organized Crime of the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

EuropolThe trove of looted artifacts contained arrowheads, ceramics, spears, funeral urns, ancient coins, and more.

They worked for hand in hand with the British Metropolitan Police, as well as the German State Criminal Police of Bavaria, under an umbrella operation called MEDICUS.

As the existence of the looted goods wasn’t officially known, proving their illicit origin is difficult to do. With forged provenance and documentation on top, the legal ownership of these artifacts would appear entirely legitimate to auction houses or interested parties.

Only diligent surveillance and monitoring of the group allowed authorities to confirm their suspicions. Five of the eight gang members were arrested before leaving Bulgaria. Three of them were permitted to enter the U.K., thus committing the crime of smuggling goods across, before being arrested.

The group of three was detained after entering the U.K. in Dover. Two men aged 19 and 55 and one 67-year-old women were arrested. According to The Southend Standard, the charge was suspicion of handling stolen goods, and the artifacts concealed in the suspects’ vehicle quickly confirmed as much.

EuropolThree of the smugglers were caught entering the U.K. in Dover, with the other five apprehended in Bulgaria.

“The arrests were made as part of an ongoing investigation into the theft of cultural artifacts in Europe which is being led by detectives from the Met’s art and the antique unit,” the Metropolitan Police said.

This sting operation dates to October 2019, but Europol has only now felt assured enough that publishing any details won’t jeopardize other operations nor the trials of these eight individuals. Europol explained in a statement that auction houses are commonly part of such illegal sales.

“This case confirms that the most common way to dispose of archaeological goods illegally excavated is by entering the legitimate art market,” the agency said.

Last month, the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby was caught having illegally purchased an ancient tablet inscribed with part of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

On top of that, the $1.6 million artifacts were only one of the thousands of relics looted and smuggled from Iraq that the company had illegally bought.

Hopefully, more time and effort is spent on preventing this seemingly ubiquitous practice. Cultural artifacts belong to the people of their countries — and should be displayed for them to cherish and learn from. At least in this latest case, it appears that this kind of justice is being fought for.

Experts find 2,000 ruin sites near the Maya train route project in Mexico

Experts find 2,000 ruin sites near the Maya train route project in Mexico

Archaeologists in Mexico have provided a study from specialists that cites have more than 2,000 pre-Hispanic ruins or clusters of artifacts along the planned path of the president’s controversial “Maya Train” project on the Yucatan peninsula.

The discovery of sites using LiDAR elevation mapping technology could slow down the already disputed project, which opponents contend also threatens indigenous communities and water supplies.

The laser elevation data showed a total of 2,187 “archaeological monuments” along 277 miles (366 kilometers) of the proposed route, about one-quarter of the total planned track. Experts already knew about the existence of some of the sites, but some are new.

Tourists walk at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Experts in Mexico said Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, that they have detected more than 2,000 pre-Hispanic ruins or clusters of artefacts along the proposed route of the president’s controversial Maya Train project on the Yucatan peninsula, which could slow down the already disputed project

The term “monuments” can mean many things, ranging from the remains of a pre-Hispanic Maya home, or carved stones, all the way up to remains of temple platforms.

It was not clear how many of each type of artifact was detected, but Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said at least 91 were large-scale structures like plazas, pyramid or temple platforms.

Mayan houses were generally relatively insubstantial, with stone bases topped by thatch and wooden structures of which little remains.

The institute said in a statement that the builders of the train would have to take “specific measures” to avoid damaging the artifacts, but did not say whether that meant parts would have to be re-routed.

In July, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador inaugurated the start of construction on the “Maya Train,” a pet project of his that would run some 950 miles (about 1,500 kilometers) in a rough loop around Yucatan.

The train is intended to connect Caribbean beach resorts to the peninsula’s interior, with largely indigenous populations and ruin sites, in a bid to stimulate economic development around its 15 stations. The government says it will cost as much as $6.8 billion, but others say it will be much more.

Critics say Lopez Obrador rammed through the project without adequate study of its effects on the environment, underground sinkhole caves known as cenotes, and ruin sites.

Some stretches of the route already have tracks, and the institute said some artifacts had already been disturbed by railway construction decades ago.

But other stretches are to push through sensitive jungle terrain, though they will parallel existing roads or transmission lines. Even where an old railway line exists, the project would imply updating tracks and building new stations.

Some Mayan communities have filed court challenges against the project, arguing that it will cause environmental damage. They also say they were not adequately consulted about it or they will not share in its benefits.

LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, involves shooting a pulsed laser at the ground to get a high-resolution, detailed image of the surface, even through dense vegetation.

The Mayas formed a sprawling empire of city-states across the Yucatan and Central America between 2,000 B.C. and A.D. 900, and their descendants still live on the peninsula.

New satellite images reveal mysterious dome structure hidden in Antarctica fuelling shock claims an ancient civilization once lived there

New satellite images reveal mysterious dome structure hidden in Antarctica fuelling shock claims an ancient civilization once lived there

We’ve got a digital picture of a ‘dome’ in Antarctica that shortly after, has sparked wild rumors of a civilization living in the frozen continent. The picture, which is said to be from Google Earth, shows an oval-shaped structure that is believed to be 400 feet (121 meters) across.

The so-called formation has been said to be evidence of a human culture that once occupied the South Pole. It can even be considered a natural phenomenon, as some people believe that.

‘What if, in the distant past, when Earth –and Antarctica— was much different than today, an ancient civilization developed there, creating fascinating structures, monuments and temples there?’ a post on Ancient Code says.

A Google Earth image of Antarctica has sparked claims of evidence there was once a civilization living in the frozen continent. The picture shows an oval-shaped structure that conspiracy theorists claim to be 400 feet (121 meters) across.

The post says scientists initially thought the discovery could be a sastrugi – a natural phenomenon formed by years of battering by strong, freezing winds and heavy snowfall.

But sastrugi are not known to form in oval shapes, as shown in the picture.  This is not the first time people have suggested there was a lost civilisation in Antarctica. Pictures released by Nasa from its IceBridge ice-mapping mission triggered a few people to claim evidence for this lost civilization had been found.

Sastrugi is a natural phenomenon that occurs when high winds blow across the snow, creating sharp, stiff peaks

Ashoka Tripathi, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Calcutta, said the images showed clear evidence of an ancient human settlement beneath the ice sheet, according to World News Daily.

‘These are clearly features of some sort of human-made structure, resembling some sort of pyramidal structure,’ he said.

‘The patterns clearly show nothing we should expect from natural geomorphological formations found in nature. 

‘We clearly have here evidence of human engineering. The only problem is that these photographs were taken in Antarctica under 2 kilometers of ice. That is clearly the puzzling part, we do not have any explanation for this at the moment.’

Another strange theory surfaced last year, claiming that there is a mysterious pyramid in the Antarctic had emerged. Conspiracy theorists have posted a video on YouTube, in which they claim that US Secretary of State, John Kerry, visited Antarctica last week to visit an ‘alien base’ within the pyramid.

The video suggests that the images have been taken from Google Earth, but it is unclear whether they have been edited. The video was posted by the Third Phase of the Moon, a YouTube channel that regularly posts conspiracy theories on aliens.

It showed a pyramid-like structure in the snow, with a Google Earth-type label and pin. The label reads ‘Antarctica Pyramid’ – a misspelling of Antarctica, which suggests that the image might have been doctored.

Responses to the video were varied, with some users backing-up the claims, such as James Jason, who commented: ‘Excellent report Third Phase, I also believe things are about to get very dramatic, and that is for everyone on our planet.’

But others dismissed it, such as Gordon Anderson, who said: ‘I have spent a LOT of time on snow-covered mountains- skiing down, and this looks natural to me – not man-made anyway!’

Others joked John Kerry was there for other reasons, such as Daniel Schultz, who commented: ‘on his bucket list, fly to Antarctica and make ‘snow angels’ where no man has gone before.’

It is unclear what the structure could be, but it looks similar to a nunatak – a natural mountain peak that juts up above glaciers.

Nigel Watson, the author of the UFO Investigations Manual, told MailOnline: ‘Pictures of the pyramid structures are either photoshopped, cropped pictures to make the mountains look more like pyramids or simply pictures of natural formations called nunataks. 

‘They are mountainous formations created by shifting glaciers and erosion, not by laser zapping aliens.’ 

Pyramids are often an area of interest for conspiracy theorists. 

It shows a pyramid-like structure in the snow, with a Google Maps-type label and pin. The label reads ‘Antarctica Pyramid’ – a misspelling of Antarctica, which suggests that image might have been doctored

In October last year, a video posted on YouTube claimed there was a crystal pyramid beneath the Bermuda Triangle, which was to blame for the disappearance of several planes and ships in the area.

Mr. Watson added: There is always a mystique about pyramid structures. Back in the 1970s, there were many claims that such objects could preserve food, generate health benefits and even keep razors sharp.

Archaeologists discover an underground pyramid in Bolivia

Archaeologists discover an underground pyramid in Bolivia

The government of Bolivia announced it will start exploratory excavations this year at the ancient fortress of Tiahuanaco after a buried pyramid was detected.

Excavations at the pyramid of Akapana, Tiahuanaco

Ludwing Cayo, director of the Tiahuanaco Archeological Research Center, told Efe that the formation is located in the area of Kantatallita, east of the Akapana pyramid.

In a presentation for the media, Cayo outlined a five-year for further research at Tiahuanaco, an archaeological site 71 kilometers (44 miles) west of La Paz that was the cradle of an ancient civilization predating the Incas.

The Akapana Pyramid Mound, Tiahuanaco, Bolivia

Excavations may start soon, depending on the timing of cooperation agreements with foreign universities and institutes to enroll more forensic archaeology experts in the effort, Cayo said.

Besides the pyramid, ground-penetrating radar has detected “a number of underground anomalies” that might be monoliths, but those findings require more detailed analysis.

Tiahuanaco was the capital of a pre-Columbian empire known as Tiwanaku that left a legacy of impressive stone monuments such as Kalasasaya, the semi-underground Template, sculptures of prominent figures, the Gate of the Sun, and ruins of palaces.

Bolivian researchers say Tiahuanaco began as an agricultural village around 1580 B.C. and grew to become an imperial state by A.D. 724, but was in decline by the late 12th century.

At its peak, the Tiwanaku realm occupied over 600,000 square kilometers (231,000 square miles).

Tiahuanaco has been a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site since 2000.

The Gateway of the Sun from the Tiwanku civilization in Bolivia.

It was the capital of an empire that extended into present-day Peru and Chile, flourishing from 300 to 1000 A.D., and is believed to be one of the most important cities of ancient America.  Andean legends claim the area around Lake Titicaca was the cradle of the first humans on Earth.

According to the myths, Lord Viracocha, the creator of all things, chose Tiahuanaco as the place of creation. It is unknown how old these ruins are, but some researchers suggest that they date to 14,000 years B.C.

Fox News Latino writes that at its height, the Tiwanaku realm covered 600,000 square kilometers (231,000 square miles), and “left a legacy of impressive stone monuments such as Kalasasaya, the semi-underground Template, sculptures of prominent figures, the Gate of the Sun and ruins of palaces.”

Previous excavations at the site have revealed substantial portions of the Akapana Pyramid Mound.

Previous excavations: Robotic exploration of a tunnel in the Akapana pyramid, June 13, 2006.

Archaeology’s InteractiveDig writes that in the ancient past there is evidence that the established infrastructure was razed and rebuilt by the inhabitants, and the city was abandoned.

Researchers say there was a sudden shift in 700 A.D. Previous monuments were torn down, and the blocks were used to build the Akapana Pyramid. However, by the time the city was abandoned, the project had still not been completed and laid unfinished.

Archaeologists Unearthed a 15,800 Year Old Stone Tool In Oregon

Archaeologists Unearthed a 15,800 Year Old Stone Tool In Oregon

Recently, an artifact that was unearthed in Oregon and was identified as an “ ancient Swiss army knife,” may have been the oldest artifact so far found in western North America.

The simple stone tool, hewn from a piece of bright orange agate, was unearthed near a shallow cave that has already turned up evidence of early human occupation — including stone points, tools, and charcoal-stained hearths — dating back as much as 12,000 years. But this artifact was found even deeper in the region’s sandy clay, beneath a layer of volcanic ash that experts have found to be 15,800 years old. If its age is confirmed, the tool would be nearly 3,000 years older than the widespread artifacts of the Clovis culture, once thought to be the continent’s earliest inhabitants. 

“This is really exciting,” said Stephen Baker, spokesman for the Oregon office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, in an interview. “But of course there’s more research to do.” The hand-sized tool was first unearthed in 2012 by the University of Oregon’s archaeology field school, at a site in south-central Oregon known as Rimrock Draw Rockshelter, on BLM land. The fact that it was found beneath — and was therefore presumably older than — the layer of ancient ash was “fascinating” in itself, Baker said. After a chemical analysis of the artifact revealed that it also contained traces of proteins from bison, confirming that it had been used as a tool.

Ancient bison skeleton from the La Brea tar pits in California
This orange agate stone tool, found buried beneath a layer of 15,800-year-old volcanic ash, may be the oldest artifact yet found in western North America, archaeologists say.

“Getting this bison residue further corroborated the idea that it was a tool, likely used for butchering,” Baker said. Dr. Patrick O’Grady of the University of Oregon, who has been leading the excavations, said that the discovery came about after his field school uncovered debris from an ancient rockfall near the cave.

“Our excavation units had reached a jumbled layer of rockfall that appeared to be the result of a collapse of portions of the rock shelter face,” O’Grady said in an interview.

“We wanted to break that material up and clear a path so we could continue excavating to the bedrock underneath.” Beneath the debris, the team found large fragments of tooth enamel from an extinct species of camel. And beneath those, they hit a sudden, even layer of volcanic ash and rock, called tephra. Experts from Washington State University analyzed the ash, and were able not only to radiocarbon date it to about 15,800 years ago, but were also able to isolate its source: Washington’s Mount St. Helen’s.

Now sagebrush country, the terrain around Rimrock Draw Rockshelter was likely much wetter when the artifacts found there were originally used.

“We found the stone tool 20 centimeters under the Mount St. Helen’s tephra, in dense sandy clay sediment,” O’Grady said. Baker, of the BLM, said researchers quickly identified the object as a tool.

“When they found it, they kind of joked that it was like an ancient swiss army knife,” he said.

“One edge, they believe, was used for scraping animal hide, and another side that’s been worn down over the years they believe was used for carving wood or bone. So, there are a couple of theories, but they think this is kind of a multi-purpose tool.”

The archaeologists were also struck by the tool’s unusual material, he added. It’s this bright orange agate, Baker said. “In that area, there’s a lot of obsidian, but they’d never seen this material in that area before. So it really raises a lot of questions.

“They’re fascinated with, how did this tool get here? Where did it come from? What did they use it for?”

O’Grady agreed that the use of agate is unusual for the region, and potentially significant.

“It is much less common in eastern Oregon sites than obsidian,” he said of the agate.

“My take is that older points tend to be made of [materials like agate] more often than obsidian.” For archaeologists, this new discovery readily invites comparison with a similar find made nearby — at Oregon’s Paisley Caves, just 200 kilometers away, wherein 2008 animal bones and human feces were found that dated to about 14,300 years ago. While those finds, too, remain controversial, both men acknowledge that the Paisley Cave samples gave scientists more to work with than what they have so far at Rimrock Draw.

Sites around the rock shelter have turned up other evidence of early human occupation, including these obsidian stone points, flakes, and hearths dating back as much as 12,000 years.

The comparison with the Paisley Caves is just kind of inevitable, Baker said. Paisley Caves is just a perfect situation because there they found many, many samples. But in this situation [at Rimrock Draw], they have just a couple of pieces of evidence in one particular area that they need to expand and add more evidence too.

“So we’re in the very early stages of this.”

O’Grady agreed, adding that it’s too early to begin finding a place for Rimrock’s ancient orange tool in the timeline of American pre-history. We all know the significance of the Paisley Caves site, with the exquisite fieldwork, the sequence of radiocarbon dating, and well-dated human fecal material that has firmly placed the site among very few in the Americas that are established as pre-Clovis occupations, he said.

In an attempt to find a comparable body of evidence, he added, the coming field season at Rimrock Draw will be devoted largely to identifying the size of the 15,800-year-old layer of volcanic ash, and testing to see if more artifacts await beneath it. Rimrock has to produce strong dateable evidence through either cultural features or stratigraphic time markers to begin any conversation about its place in the realm on pre-Clovis sites,” O’Grady said.

“We have a hint of such a possibility through the association of the orange flake tool 20 centimeters under the Mount St. Helens tephra. But, it is only that — a hint — until we can show that the tephra is widely distributed across the site and that artifacts are found consistently underneath it.

“It is at that point that the work really begins,” he continued, “to verify the relationship in collaboration with other Paleoamerican researchers and conduct vast amounts of geological and archaeological analyses to firmly establish the relationship. It is that next step that must be approached very carefully, to watch warily for the older signs, and we are moving toward it with caution, but also with hopeful optimism.

Tang-Dynasty Temple Complex Unearthed in Southwest China

Tang-Dynasty Temple Complex Unearthed in Southwest China

Archaeologists have uncovered a temple complex dating back to the State of Nanzhao, a slave society established during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), according to the provincial research institute of cultural relics and archaeology in southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

Tang-Dynasty Temple Complex Unearthed in Southwest China
The photo was taken on Jan.13, 2021, shows an ancient temple complex dating back to the State of Nanzhao, a slave society established during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) in Dali, southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

The complex situated at the Wuzhishan ruins in the city of Dali was found with 14 foundations for structures, 63 stone walls, and 23 ditches.

More than 40 tonnes of tiles, along with over 17,300 other relics including pottery were also unearthed, said Zhu Zhonghua, a researcher who leads the archaeological project.

From January to July 2020, archaeologists conducted the excavation work on an area of 6,000 square meters at the site, 600 meters to the south of Taihe.

Taihe was the first capital of the Nanzhao regime after its ethnic Bai tribal head united the six tribes of the Erhai Region.

Photo taken on Jan.13, 2021, shows a tile discovered in an ancient temple complex uncovered in Dali, southwest China’s Yunnan Province. The inscription on it indicates that the temple might be a royal religious site of the State of Nanzhao.

In the complex, the researchers discovered a tile inscribed with the characters “Buddha sarira enshrined by the government,” which indicates that the Buddhist relics of Nanzhao’s royal court are likely to have been enshrined and worshiped inside the temple.

The complex is therefore believed to be a major religious site of Taihe, said the institute.

“Sarira” is a general term with a number of meanings, but is generally used to describe the bodily remains after a Buddhist cremation. The remains of Buddhist masters were often said to contain crystalline beads or pearl-like objects.

In the eastern part of the site, brick and tile kilns were also found with a large number of nails, gaskets, moulages, and other kiln ware, while defective glazed pottery was also unearthed.

The excavation helps reveal the layout characteristics of the temples built during the Nanzhao regime, the production status of the kilns, and funeral customs of the royal family, according to the institute.

Nanzhao reigned in what is now Yunnan Province as well as parts of Sichuan and Guizhou provinces. Taihe was then the political and cultural center of the region. 

50 ancient coffins uncovered at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis

50 ancient coffins uncovered at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis

Egypt recently unearthed a funerary temple and the oldest coffins ever discovered in Saqqara, revealing more mysteries in the ancient burial ground and marking another significant find in the vast necropolis south of Cairo.

A mummy dating back to the New Kingdom found at the funerary temple of Queen Naert.

The country said a mission headed by prominent Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, the former minister of state for antiquities affairs, unearthed the funerary temple of Queen Nearit, the wife of King Teti — the first pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt.

The mission also unearthed 52 burial shafts with more than 50 wooden coffins found inside. They date back 3,000 years, the oldest sarcophagi found in Saqqara.

Workers excavate a site during the official announcement of the discovery by an Egyptian archaeological mission of a new trove of treasures at Egypt's Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 17, 2021.
Workers excavate a site during the official announcement of the discovery by an Egyptian archaeological mission of a new trove of treasures at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 17, 2021.

“These coffins are wooden and anthropoid … many of the gods that were worshiped during this period were represented on the surface of the coffins, in addition to various excerpts from the Book of the Dead that help the deceased pass through the journey of the other world,” the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities said in a statement.

In recent months, Egypt unearthed hundreds of coffins of top officials and priests in Saqqara, all dating back to the more recent Late and Ptolemaic periods.

The new discovery is distinguished because older New Kingdom sarcophagi were found, the ministry has said. The New Kingdom period lasted from the 16th century BC to the 11th century BC, covering the 18th, 19th, and 20th Egyptian dynasties.

“The discovery confirmed that the Saqqara area was not used for burial during the Late Period only, but also during the New Kingdom,” the statement read.

Unearthed adorned wooden sarcophagi are displayed at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis.

Another “luxurious, mud-brick shrine” was also uncovered at a depth of 24 meters below the ground level, the deepest shaft found yet. Hawass said digging work will continue until the burial chamber is discovered.

“Inside the shafts, the mission discovered large numbers of archaeological artifacts and a large number of statues that represent deities such as the god Osiris and Ptah-Soker-Osiris,” the antiquities ministry added.

Egypt has carried out extensive digging operations in Saqqara in recent years, which resulted in a string of discoveries, including the unearthing of a 4,400-year-old tomb of royal priest Wahtye in 2018 and the discovery of hundreds of mummified animals and statues a year later.

Tourism & Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said in November that Egypt can “find tombs and burial shafts in every single spot in this area,” referring to Saqqara, which is also home to 13 pyramids.

Egypt is hoping the findings can help revive the vital tourism industry, which took a fresh blow because of the COVID-19 pandemic just when it had begun to recover from the aftermath of uprisings and civil unrest in 2011 and 2013.

Hawass said the latest discoveries in the ancient necropolis will “make Saqqara an important tourist and cultural destination.”

“It will also rewrite the history of Saqqara during the New Kingdom,” he added.

An adorned wooden sarcophagus is displayed during the official announcement of the discovery.

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