Discovery of hidden 3,500-year-old warrior grave stuffed with treasure could re-write ancient Greek history
The 3,500-year-old remains of a prominent ancient warrior who has been buried alongside an assortment of riches have been uncovered by an American husband-and-wife team working in Greece.
In more than 65 years, it is considered the most significant finding made in continental Greece.
The undisturbed tomb, found in southwestern Greece by the University of Cincinnati archaeologists Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis, was discovered the hidden treasure.
For some time, the news of the discovery had been kept under wraps after the Greek authorities made the announcement. Stocker and Davis made the discovery while working near the Palace of Nestor, a site initially discovered back in 1939.
A pit of 5 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long revealed during the excavation by the team.
The skeletal remains of a single individual—an unknown male between the age of 30 to 35 years—was found buried alongside an astounding assortment of riches, a strong indication that he was likely a warrior of significant importance.
Analysis of his remains suggests he was, in the words of the archaeologists, “strong, robust…well-fed.”
The unnamed warrior may have been royalty, the founder of a new dynasty, or even a trader who acquired his riches through commerce.
The warrior was laid to rest with his many belongings, including fine gold jewellry, an ornate string of pearls, signet rings, silver vases, ivory combs, and a bronze sword with a gold and ivory handle.
The fact that he was buried alone and not in a common pit with others is yet another indication of his social importance.
The jewellery, adorned with figures of deities, animals, and floral motifs, was crafted in the style of the Minoans, a civilization that lived on the island of Crete from around 2,000 BC.
The Mycenaean people spread from the Peloponnese across the eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd millennium BC, and represent the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece.
Mycenaean Greece came to end with the collapse of the Bronze-Age culture around 1,100 BC and inspired ancient Greek society, literature, and mythology.
2,000-Year-Old Shipwrecks With Cargo Discovered Off Greek Island
Three shipwrecks from the ancient and medieval periods and large parts of their cargo are discovered in the remote Aegean island of Kasos, the ministry of cultural affairs in Greece reports.
Examining the ship off the shores of Kasos’s tiny Aegean island, divers reported finding cannons, stone anchors, pottery, fine tableware, and many other valuable items in an extensive underwater survey that ended this week.
Kasos Island lies on a historic maritime trading route that connects the Middle East with the Egean between Crete and Rhodes.
The oldest of the wrecks, the Greek Reporter said, was a 2,300-year-old trading vessel with five anchors in stone, fine tableware, and amphorae, which were large pots of clay used to transport food, oils, and wines. Two other vessels from the 1st and 8th-10th centuries BC were also found.
An article in the National Herald says this phase of the project required “67 divers” who together covered more than one-third of the designated site during the 2019 exploratory season and they plan to resume diving in 2020 and will continue towards the end of 2021.
The archaeologists still need to “discover, study and identify” the hulls of these ancient ghost ships that once sailed this important route which served as a cross-cultural conduit with the eastern cultures, for many centuries.
The 8-10th century AD (Byzantine era) ship was found with an ancient Greek ship believed to have sunk in the 1st century BC, but the oldest shipwreck that has been found at Kasos dates way back to the 4th century BC.
Fortunately, the most ancient ship was also the one that contained the most archaeologically valuable treasure in the form of four different types of ancient pottery.
Kasos and the region around it served as a sort of maritime crossroads for many centuries where exotic products of the east came into contact with civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean, however, not all the finds are from the old world.
According to the Greek Reporter, “the last shipwreck” recovered by the archaeological divers was a modern era ship carrying construction materials and another shipwreck was found dating to the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s.
The 4th century BC shipwreck, with all the different pottery, dates to exactly the same century as another shipwreck which is suspected to be the world’s “ oldest intact shipwreck ” which an October article in The Guardian said was discovered at the bottom of the Black Sea earlier this year.
The 2,400-year-old, 75 foot (23 meters) vessel of ancient Greek origins, was discovered in a near-perfect state of preservation still equipped with rudders, rowing benches, and its mast.
Professor Jon Adams is the principal investigator with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP), and he said the reason these shipwrecks are so well preserved at such depths is because of a lack of oxygen.
However, even with all his experience, he said finding surviving intact ships from the classical world beneath 1.24 miles (2 kilometers) of the sea is something he “would never have believed possible” and that such discoveries will “change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world”.
An article such as this, about ancient shipwrecks discovered in 2019, wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the April 2019 announcement in Daily Sabah of the incredible findings of a group of Turkish underwater researchers from Antalya University’s Underwater Research Department.
Just off the western shores of the city of Antalya, they found a 46 foot (14 meters) long Bronze Age shipwreck in 164 feet (50 meters) of water holding 1.5 tons of copper bullion. And dating to 3,600 years-old, if verified, this will be the world’s “oldest shipwreck”.
It is suspected that this shipwreck is older than a Greek merchant ship found off Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast in 2018 which dates back more than 3,400 years and described as the world’s oldest known “intact shipwreck”.
Built around 1,600 BC, Antalya Governor Münir Karaloğlu, told press at the time that the discovery of this shipwreck was the “Göbeklitepe” of underwater archaeology, a terrestrial site often referred to as Point Zero in cultural archaeology.
17th-century warships linked to Sweden’s historic Vasa found
Two wrecks suspected to be warships of the 17th Century were discovered by Swedish maritime archaeologists and at least one is likely the sister ship of the iconic Swedish vessel “Vasa”, which sank on its maiden voyage, the Swedish Museum of Wrecks said Friday.
“I saw the wall 5-6 meters high as I came down as the first divers … then I came up and there was a massive warship,” Jim Hansson, diver, and maritime archeologist told AFP adding, “it was a thrilling feeling.”
Both the wrecks are found outside the city of Vaxholm in the Swedish archipelago, a strait leading into Stockholm.
At least one of the ships is believed to be the sister ship Sweden’s most famous warship the “Vasa,” a 69-meter ship carrying 64 cannons, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628.
Named after one of Sweden’s kings, it was originally meant to serve as a symbol of Sweden’s military might but instead capsized after sailing just over 1,000 meters.
Vasa was salvaged in 1961 and is currently on display at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, one of Sweden’s most popular tourist spots.
Three other ships were however ordered from the same shipwright: Applet (the Apple), Kronan (the Crown) and Scepter, and unlike their predecessor, they all served in the Swedish navy and participated in naval battles.
“We think that some of them were sunk in the area,” Patrik Hoglund, another maritime archeologist, and diver at the newly established Museum of Wrecks.
The ships are believed to have been sunk on purpose after they were decommissioned, serving as underwater spike strips for enemy ships.
The divers took wood samples of the ships which will be sent to a laboratory for dating.
“Then we can even see where the timber has been cut down and then we can go back and look in the archives and I think we have good chances to tell exactly which ship this is,” Hansson said.
Despite being centuries old, the wrecks — just like the Vasa — are in fairly good condition, thanks to the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea.
“We don’t have saltwater and some organisms that live in other waters don’t exist in the Baltic so it is very well preserved generally in our waters,” Hoglund said.
As the wrecks are better preserved in the sea, there are currently no plans to salvage them.
Genetic Study Reveals Exactly Who ‘The Romans’ Were
Ancient Rome was the capital city of an empire that encompassed some 70 million inhabitants. An international research team now reports on data from a genetic study suggesting that, just as all roads may once have led to Rome, in ancient times, a great many European genetic lineages also converged in the ancient city.
Results from the research present possibly the most detailed analysis to date of genetic variability in the region. They reveal a dynamic population history from the Mesolithic era (~10,000 BCE) into modern times, which spans the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.
“This study shows how dynamic the past really is,” said Hannah Moots, a graduate student in anthropology at Stanford University, who is the co-lead author of the published paper, which is reported in Science, and titled, “Ancient Rome: A genetic crossroads of Europe and the Mediterranean.”
At that time, “Rome was like New York City … a concentration of people of different origins joining together,” says Guido Barbujani, a population geneticist at the University of Ferrara in Italy who wasn’t involved in the study.
“This is the kind of cutting-edge work that’s starting to fill in the details [of history],” adds Kyle Harper, a Roman historian at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
The study, published today in Science, traces 12,000 years of history using genomes from 127 people buried at 29 archaeological sites in and around the city of Rome.
Alfredo Coppa, a physical anthropologist at the Sapienza University of Rome, sought hundreds of samples from dozens of previously excavated sites. Ron Pinhasi of the University of Vienna extracted DNA from the skeletons’ ear bones, and Jonathan Pritchard, a population geneticist at Stanford University, sequenced and analyzed their DNA.
The oldest genomes came from three hunter-gatherers who lived 9000 to 12,000 years ago and genetically resembled other hunter-gatherers in Europe at the time. Later genomes showed the Romans changed in step with the rest of Europe, as an influx of early farmers with ancestry from Anatolia (what is now Turkey) reshaped the genetics of the entire region some 9000 years ago.
But Rome went its own way from 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E. That’s when it grew from a small town into an important city, says Kristina Killgrove, a Roman bioarchaeologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who wasn’t involved in the study.
During its growth, “probably a lot of migration [was] happening,” she says—as the genomes of 11 individuals from this period confirm. Some people had genetic markers resembling those of modern Italians, whereas others had markers reflecting ancestry from the Middle East and North Africa.
That diversity increased even more as Rome became an empire. Between 27 B.C.E. and 300 C.E., the city was the capital of an empire of 50 million to 90 million people, stretching from North Africa to Britain to the Middle East. Its population grew to more than 1 million people. The genetic “diversity was just overwhelming,” Pinhasi says.
But people from certain parts of the empire were far more likely to move to the capital. The study suggests the vast majority of immigrants to Rome came from the East. Of 48 individuals sampled from this period, only two showed strong genetic ties to Europe.
Another two had strong North African ancestry. The rest had ancestry connecting them to Greece, Syria, Lebanon, and other places in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
That makes sense, Harper says, because, at the time, areas to the east of Italy were more populous than Europe; many people lived in big cities such as Athens and Alexandria. And Rome was connected to Greece and the Middle East by the Mediterranean Sea, which was far easier to traverse than overland routes through the Alps, he says.
“The genetic information parallels what we know from historical and archaeological records,” Killgrove says. She and others have identified individuals from imperial Roman cemeteries who likely didn’t grow up in Rome, based on isotopes in their teeth that reflect the water they drank when young—though the studies couldn’t show their precise origins. Ancient texts and words carved on tombstones also point to large populations of immigrants in the city, Harper says.
But once the empire split in two and the eastern capital moved to Constantinople (what is now Istanbul, Turkey) in the 4th century C.E., Rome’s diversity decreased. Trade routes sent people and goods to the new capital, and epidemics and invasions reduced Rome’s population to about 100,000 people.
Invading barbarians brought in more European ancestry. Rome gradually lost its strong genetic link to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. By medieval times, city residents again genetically resembled European populations.
“People perhaps imagine that the amount of migration we see nowadays is a new thing,” Pritchard says. “But it’s clear from ancient DNA that populations have been mixing at really high rates for a long time.”
In Italy, a macabre discovery brought insight into two rare medical phenomena from the early Middle Ages.
In Imola, Italy, among several burials. The well-preserved remains of an adult laid to rest with the bones of a fetus positioned between the legs were found by archaeologists.
A deeper analysis has now shown that the pair is an unusual case of ‘ coffin birth. ‘
During the funeral both the mother and the child had already died-but, it wasn’t until after that the stillborn baby was pushed from her body.
It remains a mystery how exactly the pregnant woman died hundreds of years ago around the age of 25-35, but markings on her skull indicate she underwent medieval brain surgery at least a week prior, with a hole drilled neatly into her skull.
Researchers from the Universities of Ferrara and Bologna have detailed the grim findings in a paper published to the journal World Neurosurgery.
The procedure exemplified in the burial from the 7th-8th century AD is known as trepanation and is thought to date back to the Neolithic era.
It was used to treat all sorts of ailments by drilling or cutting into the skull – including a pregnancy disorder still common today.
‘Eclampsia is the outcome of seizures of pre-eclampsia, which can affect women after the twentieth week of pregnancy, and hypertensive diseases are still the first cause of maternal death,’ the authors wrote in the study.
‘Some of the most common manifestations of this disease are high fever, convulsions, consistent frontal, and occipital cephalalgia, high intracranial pressure, and cerebral hemorrhage.
‘All these symptoms, from Prehistory to the 20th century, used to be treated with trepanation.’
The nature of the lesion observed in the ancient skull suggests the injury was the result of surgical intervention, rather than violent trauma.
And, the researchers say it even exhibits signs of early bone healing, indicating the woman survived at least a week after the procedure was done. At the time, she was roughly 38 weeks into the pregnancy.
While it’s impossible to know for sure why the trepanation was performed, the researchers say it was likely an attempt to reduce pressure in the skull stemming from eclampsia. How she died is even less certain.
‘There are still several unknown points about the woman’s cause of death,’ the authors explain, noting that she could have died from the pregnancy disorder, labor-related complications, or the surgery itself.
In any case, the researchers say the discovery of both trepanation and coffin birth in the same set of remains is incredibly rare.
‘This finding is one of the few documented cases of trepanation in the European Early Middle Ages, and the only one featuring a pregnant woman in association with a post mortem fetal extrusion phenomenon,’ the authors wrote.
‘Considering all these factors, this case represents a unicum and sheds more light on the clinical history of neurosurgery and pregnancy during this historical period.’
Archaeologists unearth ancient settlement dating back 11,800 years in Turkey
On Thursday in south-eastern Turkey, an ancient historic site dating back to 11,800 years was discovered.
The area has been home to many different civilizations including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittites, Urartians, Romans, Akkadians, Sumerians and Ottoman civilizations. This region belongs to the province of Mardin.
As part of a project to document and rescue cultural sites in the Dargecit district when they came across the 11,800-year-old sewer system and over two dozen architectural artifacts. found by Archeologist Ergul Kodas & his team.
There are currently 15 restorers and archaeologists and 50 staff in the area designated by Turkish authorities as a cultural and historical site.
Kodas, the head of the excavation team, said the historical site was inhabited for a long period around 9800 B.C. and that there were eight-story historical buildings reaching up to seven meters in height.
He noted that the sewer system was the oldest known in history, saying: “We were only able to unearth a certain portion of the sewer system, and confirmed it was [located] in a public use area.”
On Oct.31, an ancient temple estimated to be over 11,000 years old — which belongs almost to the same period as Gobeklitepe, the famed “oldest temple in the world” located in southeastern Sanliurfa province of Turkey — was found at the same excavation site.