Ancient tomb discovered under parking lot greenery in Japan

Ancient tomb discovered under parking lot greenery in Japan

Ancient tomb discovered under parking lot greenery in Japan

Shrubbery intended to illuminate a corner of a nondescript parking lot in Japan’s Nara prefecture turned out to be hiding the tomb of an elite figure from ancient times.

Archaeologists uncovered numerous artifacts after removing centuries of soil from the stone burial chamber, including two iron swords, arrowheads, items associated with horse riding, amber jewelry, and clay pots.

According to researchers from Nara University and the Ikaruga Municipal Board of Education, the chamber, which is about 3.8 meters long, 1.6 meters wide, and 1 meter high, dates to the late sixth century.

Archaeologists have been excavating the area located near the World Heritage site encompassing Horyuji temple since spring of 2022, and the ceiling of the tomb found was missing. This prompted the team members to speculate the stones were used to build Horyuji temple, which was completed in the early seventh century.

The ancient stone burial chamber discovered at a parking lot in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture.

“It is possible the ceiling stones were removed for use in the construction of Horyuji temple and the Ikaruga palace, where Prince Shotoku (an influential political leader of the era) lived with his family,” said Naohiro Toyoshima, a professor of archaeology at Nara University and a member of the research team.

“At that point, the stone chamber could have been buried along with all those items,” Toyoshima told the Asahi Shimbun.

When archaeologists began digging, the circular site didn’t look particularly interesting.

It was about 8.5 meters in diameter and 1.5 meters high, and it was covered in shrubs. But educational board experts had long suspected that the bushes concealed an old tomb; they called it the Funazuka kofun burial mound.

Researchers’ hunch was only confirmed after the recent excavation got underway.

A clay roof tile from the Asuka Period (592-710) discovered at the Funazuka burial mound in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture.

A kofun is a burial mound inside which an influential or important person was buried.

The tradition of burying people in Kofun started around the 3rd century and lasted about 400 years, and they were only constructed by people holding a high rank.

There are various types of burial mounds, including zenpokoenfun (keyhole-shaped mounds) and enfun (round mounds). They were constructed in many different sizes ranging from only 10 meters to as big as 400 meters.

A collection of 430 burial objects found in the tomb of a 3000-year-old Noblewoman in China

A collection of 430 burial objects found in the tomb of a 3000-year-old Noblewoman in China

A collection of 430 burial objects found in the tomb of a 3000-year-old Noblewoman in China

A tomb belonging to a noblewoman dating back about 3,000 years has been unearthed in North China’s Shanxi Province.

The tomb, designated as M1033, was discovered in the Dahekou cemetery, Yicheng County. Over 600 burials and 20 chariot-and-horse pits have been discovered during the excavation of the Western Zhou Dynasty’s Dahekou Cemetery in Yicheng County, Shanxi Province, since 2007.

More importantly, the finding of the Dahekou cemetery has shed light on the existence of the Ba state, previously undocumented in the historical texts of the Western Zhou.

Bronze inscriptions found in Dahekou cemetery indicate that the state clan name was Ba 霸, with Ba Bo (the Earl of Ba) as the paramount ruler.

Burial objects recovered from the Dahekou Cemetery of the Western Zhou Dynasty in Yicheng County of Linfen City, Shanxi province.

Given that most of the province was under Jin state control during this time, it is extremely valuable for research on the feudal states in Shanxi’s southern region during the Western Zhou period and their interactions with the Jin state.

The discovery was announced by the Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology. A pit in the middle holds the remains of a sacrificed animal, and the tomb itself is medium-sized, according to Xie Yaoting, the leader of the archaeological team.

Burial objects recovered from the Dahekou Cemetery of the Western Zhou Dynasty in Yicheng County of Linfen City, Shanxi province.

The tomb’s owner was a female between 31 and 34 years old who was buried in a supine posture with straight limbs.

Archaeologists believe that the tomb’s owner was likely a middle-ranking noblewoman from the mid-Western Zhou (1046BC-771BC) period.

Burial objects recovered from the Dahekou Cemetery of the Western Zhou Dynasty in Yicheng County of Linfen City, Shanxi province.

The tomb yielded a collection of 430 burial objects divided into 93 groups, including bronze wares, pottery, jade artifacts, and shellfish containers.

300 Year Old “Exceptional” Prosthesis made of Gold and Copper and wool Discovered in Poland

300 Year Old “Exceptional” Prosthesis made of Gold and Copper and wool Discovered in Poland

300 Year Old “Exceptional” Prosthesis made of Gold and Copper and wool Discovered in Poland

Something novel has been discovered by Polish archaeologists working on the excavation of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Krakow; it is thought to be the first discovery of its kind in the nation.

A first-of-its-kind medical prosthesis: a nearly 300-year-old device that helped a man with cleft palate live more comfortably with this condition.

Anna Spinek, an anthropologist at the Hirszfeld Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy in Poland, explained the discovery to Live Science. “This is probably the first such discovery not only in Poland but also in Europe. No such devices exist in institutional and private collections (Polish and foreign).”

The device, described as a palatal obturator, was designed to fit into the roof of the man’s mouth. It would fit into the nasal cavity of the man replacing his hard palate.

Cleft palates arise when the hard palate, or roof of the mouth, doesn’t close during gestation. These days, cleft palates can be corrected surgically. However, this was not available to the man 300 years ago. Instead, he found another solution: this device, which was inserted into his mouth as a prosthetic.

The authors note in their paper, that the first attempts to replace missing palate parts were likely made in antiquity. Demosthenes (384-322 BC), a Greek orator, had a congenital cleft palate and may have filled open gaps in his mouth with pebbles.

The prosthetic device before and after conservation, viewed from the side. The area marked “a” is gold and “b” is a residue of copper. The bulbous “c” is a woolen pad and the flat-concave “e” is the plate below which replaces the hard palate, attached by the string “d”.

The “exceptional” device consists of two parts. A metal plate that mimics the hard palate is attached to a wool pad, designed to secure the device comfortably when fitted into the mouth.

The hard palate prevents substances in the mouth from entering the nasal cavity, and it also helps with swallowing, breathing and talking, according to the study.

The 1.2-inch-long (3.1 centimeters) prosthesis, known as a palatal obturator, weighs around 0.2 ounce (5.5 grams), according to the study. The prosthetic is overall concave in shape and designed to arch up into the nasal cavity leaving a hollow in the mouth, just as a natural hard palate would.

To better understand the prosthesis’s composition, the researchers examined it under a scanning electron microscope and used X-ray spectroscopy, which analyzes the chemical composition of a sample. They discovered that the metal pieces were primarily composed of copper, with significant amounts of gold and silver.

The wool was also tested and discovered to contain traces of silver iodide. This was most likely added to the pad because of its antimicrobial properties.

A gold, silver, and copper prosthesis was discovered in the crypt of the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Krakow 

“Today, it is difficult to assess how well the obturator fitted or how tight a seal it provided,” the authors wrote in their paper. “However, modern-day patients struggling with similar health problems describe the use of a prosthesis providing improvements in speech (which becomes clearer) and increased comfort when eating.”

The study was published in the April issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

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.”

A rare 6,000-year-old elephant ivory vessel was unearthed near Beersheba

A rare 6,000-year-old elephant ivory vessel was unearthed near Beersheba

A rare 6,000-year-old elephant ivory vessel was unearthed near Beersheba

A recent excavation near Beersheba in southern Israel uncovered an ivory vessel crafted of elephant tusks dating to the Chalcolithic period (around 4,000 BC). The find is the first Chalcolithic ivory vessel discovered in Israel.

Although the ship was originally disassembled, careful restoration work at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) laboratories has brought it back to its former glory.

The vessel is of a type known to researchers as an amphoriskos, a small jar. This rare find sheds light on ancient trade connections between the Holy Land and Egypt some six millennia ago

The diameter of the ivory container is approximately 8 inches. Its exquisitely designed and skillfully crafted small matching handles are arranged symmetrically around its lower body and neck.

The find is the first Chalcolithic ivory vessel discovered in Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said and was likely either imported from Egypt or carved locally from ivory imported from there.

The broken ivory vessel deposited within the large basalt bowls.

The rare item was discovered in 2020 at Horvat Raqiq, an archaeological site near Beersheba in southern Israel, during infrastructure work to lay a water pipe, the IAA told The Times of Israel.

More than just artifacts were discovered during the excavation at Horbat Raqiq; it also uncovered an old settlement with underground buildings etched into the Loess ground. Emil Aladjem discovered the edge of a basalt vessel during the last stages of the dig, which prompted additional investigation.

Three imposing vessels were found within the excavation site after an extended search. Among them, nestled within layers of soil, lay the shattered remnants of the ivory vessel, carefully interred in antiquity – a testament to its significance.

“This find deepens our understanding of the Chalcolithic period and of the cultural exchange ties of our region with both neighboring and distant cultures,” the researchers said.

“The vessel is well-made and makes maximum use of the original tusk – which was a most precious material. If it was manufactured here, it reveals the high standard of craftspeople who dwelt here, who knew how to treat ivory, and also knew elephant anatomy.”

IAA researchers, specialists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and ivory conservationist Olga Negnevitsky collaborated to analyze and restore the ivory vessel, which was a difficult and drawn-out process.

The vessel is to be presented to the public on Thursday in Jerusalem at the annual Israel Prehistoric Society conference, along with other recent prehistoric discoveries.

600 Years Old Sword and Equipment Found in Olsztyn

600 Years Old Sword and Equipment Found in Olsztyn

Aleksander Miedwiediew, a history buff, and detectorist discovered a bare sword, a sheath, and a knight’s belt with two knives attached, all of which most likely date from the Battle of Grunwald.

The objects were sent to regional authorities by the finder, who then passed them on to the Battle of Grunwald Museum.

The Marshal’s Office of Warmia and Masuria informed about the finding on Thursday, saying in a statement that “such findings happen once in decades”.

“It’s a phenomenal set of a sword, a sheath, a belt, and two knives. Taking into account that these artifacts date back somewhere between 14th and 15th centuries, and thus spent approx.

600 years below the earth, they have been preserved in an exceptionally good condition” – said the finder of the items Aleksander Miedwiediew. He added that in the times of their origin, such items had been extremely valuable – their price would match the price of a car today.

Miedwiediew found the items near Olsztyn. The exact location has not been revealed, as the director of the Battle of Grunwald Museum Szymon Drej said preparations for archeological exploration of that area were ongoing. “It’s puzzling that no one had taken hold of these items, very precious at the time. Maybe we will find the remains of a knight whom these things belonged to” – Drej added.

The finder of the weapons took them to the Marshal of Warmia and Masuria Marek Brzezin. The marshal passed the findings on to the Battle of Grunwald Museum where they will undergo conservation.

“The weapons will now undergo conservation and research process. We have a theory as to the sword’s medieval owner’s status, and we’re curious what’s underneath the layer of rust” – Drej added.

Other sensational discoveries have been made by Aleksander Miedwiediew.

During his annual archeological study at the Fields of Grunwald in the fall of 2020, he discovered two perfectly preserved battle axes. They were taken to the Grunwald Museum.

Name of Iranian city identified on 1800-year-old Sassanid clay seal

Name of Iranian city identified on 1800-year-old Sassanid clay seal

Name of Iranian city identified on 1800-year-old Sassanid clay seal

In a stunning archaeological find, the name “Shiraz” was identified on a clay sealing from the Sassanid era written in Pahlavi script.

The Sassanid Empire‘s (224-651CE) territory encompassed all of what is now Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Afghanistan, eastern parts of Turkey, and parts of Syria, Pakistan, Caucasia, Central Asia, and Arabia.

The Sassanids called their empire Eranshahr “Empire of the Aryans (Persians)”. Ardashir I established the Sassanid Empire or Sassanian Dynasty following his victory over Artabanus IV Ardavan, the final Parthian (Arsacid) monarch. It came to an end when Yazdegerd III (632–651), the final Sassanid Shahanshah (King of Kings), lost his 14-year struggle to expel the growing Islamic empires.

The Sassanid era is regarded as one of Iran’s most significant and influential historical periods. Persia had a significant impact on Roman civilization during the Sassanid era, and the Romans only granted equal status to the Sassanid Persians.

The finding is important due to cementing the history of Shiraz, which is situated some 60 km south of Persepolis, once the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BC).

The sealing is being kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. These sealings were unearthed during three seasons of archaeological excavations by experts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, conducted from 1932 to 1935.

According to the Met Museum, this sealing was impressed with four seals of varying sizes. The imagery on the seals depicts a lion walking right, a monogram, an inscription, and a horned quadruped.

This sealing was one of more than five hundred that were unearthed from the Sasanian stronghold located at Qasr-e Abu Nasr. The building burned, baking the clay and preserving the seal impressions, which is how the cache survived.

Iranian archaeologist Mohammadreza Nasab-Abdollahi said that based on the research he has done, he has identified the name of Shiraz in the Pahlavi script (Middle Persian) on the “Sasanian clay seal”, which were obtained nearly a century ago from the archaeological excavations in the “Qasr-e Abu Nasr” in the east of Shiraz.

On 6 April, Iranian archaeologist Mohammadreza Nasab-Abdollahi affirmed to ISNA news agency that the inscription “Mugh-e Shiraz” has been deciphered on these Sassanid clay sealings.

Name of Iranian city identified on 1800-year-old Sassanid clay seal

According to Nasab-Abdollahi, archaeological investigations indicate that Qasr-e Abu Nasr in Shiraz exhibits a cultural sequence from the Achaemenid to the Abbasid period, with its primary settlement dating back to the Sassanid era.

“The archaeological findings from Qasr-e Abu Nasr reveal a wide spectrum of administrative systems, techniques, and defensive structures,” the archaeologist remarked.

Furthermore, he emphasized that archaeological evidence from the Sassanid period, including such clay sealings, as well as artifacts from the Achaemenid era such as inscribed bricks from Persepolis, corroborates that the city known today as Shiraz bore the same name in antiquity and was among the significant cities of ancient Iran.

A 4000-Year-Old Seal Found in the prehistoric coastal site of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman

A 4000-Year-Old Seal Found in the prehistoric coastal site of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman

A 4000-Year-Old Seal Found in the prehistoric coastal site of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman

Archaeologists discovered a Gulf-type seal made of soft stone dating to the end of the third millennium BC at Kalba, a prehistoric coastal site in the Gulf of Oman.

Since 2019, excavations have been carried out on the south-eastern Arabian Peninsula by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) to investigate.

As a result of this research, researchers can be detected for the first time the extensive trade networks extending from the Indus region to the Aegean Sea about 4500 years ago. According to researchers, presumably, the Gulf region already served as a nexus between East and West about 4500 years ago.

Kalba is a multi-period site situated in the Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, on the Gulf of Oman, and it is one of the sites under investigation as a hub for these early commercial networks in the southeastern Arabian Peninsula.

Kalba was continuously inhabited from the Early Bronze Age to the Iron Age (c. 2500–600 BC), despite environmental changes that made the area more arid.

In addition to providing favorable weather, Kalba’s strategic location made it an excellent entry point for caravan routes connecting land and sea. The Hajar Mountains can still be crossed via this route, which also makes it possible to trade goods with the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula.

However, the researchers emphasize the importance of considering the question of what objects or raw materials were brought to Kalba, produced and used at the site, and which presumably served as trade goods.  All indications point to a special relevance of mineral resources.

The research findings show that a multi-crafting coastal community not only occupies a favorable ecological niche but also employs sophisticated and adaptable raw-material procurement strategies. Moreover, a “Gulf-type” seal attests to Kalba’s involvement in extensive networks of trade and exchange.

According to archaeologists, this type of seal, originally produced in the Dilmun region, can be dated to the late third millennium BCE. The seal depicts a bull and possibly a lion in an attacking posture.

The bull motif, widely recognized in similar seals, is influenced by the iconography of the Indus Valley seals.

The lion, however, is intriguing, as it is not represented in Indus seals, but is rather known as a motif in the cylinder seals of the westernmost Mesopotamian region.

The motifs on the “Gulf-type” seal from Kalba, they conclude, seem to represent a potential synthesis of Eastern and Western motif traditions within a distinct local seal type in the southeastern Arabian Peninsula, emphasizing the cohesive nature of this coastal trading hub.

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