Buried in the sand for a millennium: Africas roman ghost city
While the whole city often does not vanish, the Roman colony of Thamugadi was established in the North African province of Mumidia by Emperor Traian about 100 A.D., the city, also known as Timgad or Tamugas.
Home to Veterans of the Third Augustan Legion, Thamugadi flourished for hundreds of years, becoming prosperous and thus an attractive target for raiders. After a Vandal invasion in 430, repeated attacks weakened the city, which never fully recovered and was abandoned during the 700s.
The desert sands swept in and buried Thamugadi. One thousand years would pass before the city received a visit from a team of explorers led by a maverick Scotsman in the 1700s.
Originally founded by Emperor Trajan in 100 AD and built as a retirement colony for soldiers living nearby, within a few generations of its birth, the outpost had expanded to over 10,000 residents of both Roman, African, as well as Berber descent.
Most of them would likely never even have seen Rome before, but Timgad invested heavily in high culture and Roman identity, despite being thousands of kilometers from the Italian city itself.
The extension of Roman citizenship to non-Romans was a carefully planned strategy of the Empire – it knew it worked better by bringing people in than by keeping them out.
In return for their loyalty, local elites were given a stake in the great and powerful Empire, benefitted from its protection and legal system, not to mention, its modern urban amenities such as Roman bath houses, theatres and a fancy public library…
Timgad, also known as Thamugadi in old Berber, is home to a very rare example of a surviving public library from the Roman world.
Built-in the 2nd century, the library would have housed manuscripts relating to religion, military history, and good governance.
These would have been rolled up and stored in wooden scroll cases, placed in shelves separated by ornate columns. The shelves can still be seen standing in the midst of the town ruins, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a monument to culture.
The remains of as many as 14 baths have survived and a mosaic portraying Roman flip-flops was found at the entrance of a house in Timgad dating back to the 1st or 2nd century, with the inscription “BENE LAVA” which translates to ‘wash well’.
This mosaic, along with a collection of more than 200 others found in Timgad, is held inside a museum at the entrance of the site.
Other surviving landmarks include a 12 m high triumphal arch made of sandstone, a 3,500-seat theater is in good condition and a basilica where a large, hexagonal, 3-step immersion baptismal font richly decorated with mosaics was uncovered in the 1930s.
You can imagine the excitement of Scottish explorer James Bruce when he reached the city ruins in 1765, the first European to visit the site in centuries. Still largely buried then, he called it “a small town, but full of elegant buildings.” Clearing away the sand with his bare hands, Bruce and his fellow travellers uncovered several sculptures of Emperor Antoninus Pius, Hadrian’s successor.
Unable to take photographs in 1765, and without the means to take the sculptures with them, they reburied them in the sand and continued on Bruce’s original quest to find the source of the Blue Nile.
Upon his return to Great Britain, his claims of what he’d found were met with skepticism. Offended by the suspicion with which his story was received, James Bruce retired soon after and there would be no further investigation of the lost city for another hundred years.
Step forward Sir Robert Playfair, British consul-general in Algeria, who, inspired by James Bruce’s travel journal which detailed his findings in Timgad, went in search of the site. In his book, Travels in the Footsteps of Bruce in Algeria and Tunis, Playfair describes in detail what he found in the desolate and austere surroundings of the treeless desert plain.
“The whole of this district is of the deepest interest to the student of pre-historic archaeology … we left Timegad not without considerable regret that we could not afford to spend a longer time there. We would fain have made some excavations as there is no more promising a field for antiquarian research.”
Just a few years later, French colonists took control of the site in 1881, and began a large-scale excavation, which continued until Algeria gained independence from France in 1959.
“These hills are covered with countless numbers of the most interesting megalithic remains,” wrote Playfair in 1877.
Petrified Opal Tree Trunk Situated In Arizona Its About 225 Million Years Old
What happened to the wood that made it that way in the beautiful petrified trees in the forests of Arizona? They believe that petrified wood is so old that in the prehistoric period it has emerged. But do you know how petrified wood was made? This guide will show you how. What is petrified wood and how is it formed?
Fossil wood is considered to have grown when the material of the plant is buried by sediment. When the wood is buried deep in the muck, it is protected from decay caused by exposure to oxygen and organisms.
Because the wood is stored in deep water, the minerals in the groundwater flow through the sediment, replacing the original plant material such as silica, calcite, and pyrite.
Even very expensive minerals can infiltrate wood-like opal. The result is a fossil made from the original woody material, which often shows preserved details of tree bark, wood, and cellular structures.
This is probably the most popular petrified park in the world. The Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook in northeastern Arizona has established millions of years ago. About 225 million years ago, this was simply a lowland with a tropical climate with a dense forest.
Rivers made by tropical rainstorms washed mud and other sediments. This was where you would find giant coniferous trees 9 feet in diameter and towering 200 feet lived and died.
Fallen trees and broken branches from these trees were buried by rich river sediments. Meanwhile, volcanoes nearby erupted numerous times and the ash and silica from these eruptions buried the area.
Eruptions caused large dense clouds of ash that buried the area and this quick cover prevented anything from escaping and of course, nothing can also move in, even oxygen and insects. In time, the soluble ash was dissolved by groundwater through the sediments. The dissolved ash became the source of silica that replaced the plant debris.
This silication process creates petrified wood. Aside from silica, trace amounts of iron, manganese and other minerals also penetrated the wood and this gave petrified wood a variety of colors. This is how the lovely Chinle Formation was made.
So how was this area discovered? Millions of years after the Chinle Formation were created, the entire area was dug and the rocks found on top of Chinle have eroded away.
What was discovered was wood here was much harder and resistant to weathering compared to the mudrocks and ash deposits in Chinle. Wood that was taken from the ground surface as nearby mudrocks and ash layers washed away.
The park covers 146 square miles. It’s dry and often windy, but the elevation of 5400 feet means that it’s not as hot as desert areas at lower altitudes, and it’s mostly covered in the grass rather than cacti and other desert plants.
Of course, the big attraction here is the petrified trees, which grew here about 225 million years ago when this part of Arizona was at a much lower elevation near the shores of a large sea to the west.
As well as the trees, many fossilized animals such as clams, freshwater snails, giant amphibians, crocodile-like reptiles, and early dinosaurs have been found here.
The silica in the logs crystallized into quartz, but often iron oxide and other minerals were mixed in, producing extraordinarily beautiful kaleidoscopic patterns and colors.
The petrified trees are often so attractive that a whole industry grew up around hauling them out from where they lay and cutting them up to make decorative furniture, wall displays, bookends, and other items. Theft from the park has always been a problem, and it’s estimated that around 12 tons of fossilized wood are stolen each year.
The Lost City Of Heracleion Discovered Deep Underwater After 1,200 Years
For centuries, the ‘ lost city of Atlantis has eluded explorers and is almost certainly the stuff of myth. Staggeringly, though, an ancient city that is Atlantis in all but name has emerged from under the sea near Alexandria — and now the lost world of Heracleion is giving up its treasures.
Like in the classical tale, Heracleion was once a wealthy, prosperous place, around 1500 years before it was swallowed up by the sea. It was grand enough to be mentioned by the Greek writer Herodotus, the 5th-century BC historian.
He told the fabulous story of Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world — she of the face that launched a thousand ships — travelling to Heracleion, then a port of ‘great wealth’, with her glamorous Trojan lover, Paris.
But no physical evidence of such a grand settlement appeared until 2001 when a group led by French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio stumbled upon some relics that led them to one of the greatest finds of the 21st century.
Goddio was in search of Napoleon’s warships from the 1798 Battle of the Nile, when he was defeated by Nelson in these very waters, but came upon this much more significant discovery. Goddio’s team has since been joined by the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology and the Department of Antiquities of Egypt to produce a wealth of dazzling finds.
The archaeologists first faced the mammoth task of reassembling massive stone fragments on the seabed before they could haul them to the surface. Twelve years on, their fabulous finds have been exposed to public view for the first time after more than a millennium spent beneath the silt and water of Aboukir Bay, 20 miles north-east of Alexandria.
Among the discoveries are colossal statues of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the god Hapi, and an unidentified Egyptian pharaoh — all preserved in immaculate condition by their muddy burial shroud. Along with these 16ft statues, there are hundreds of smaller statues of Egyptian gods — among them the figures that guarded the temple where Cleopatra was inaugurated as Queen of the Nile.
It seems the Amun-Gereb temple at Heracleion was the Egyptian equivalent of Westminster Abbey, where our own Queen was crowned 60 years ago. Dozens of sarcophagi have been found, containing the bodies of mummified animals sacrificed to Amun-Gereb, the supreme god of the Egyptians. Many amulets, or religious charms, have been unearthed, too, showing gods such as Isis, Osiris and Horus.
These were made not just for the Egyptians but for visiting traders, who incorporated them into their own religions and also, one imagines, kept them as trinkets to remind them of their far-flung journeys. The importance of Heracleion has been further proved by the discovery of 64 ships — the largest number of ancient vessels ever found in one place — and a mind-boggling 700 anchors.
Other finds illustrate how crucial Heracleion was to the economy of the ancient world. Gold coins and lead, bronze and stone weights from Athens (used to measure the value of goods and to calculate the tax owed) show that Heracleion was a lucrative Mediterranean trading post.
In the ancient world, the Mediterranean Sea was their equivalent of a superfast motorway. All their greatest cities, including Constantinople, Rome and Athens, were either on the coast or on rivers with easy access to it.
And now Heracleion can be added to their number as Egypt’s most important port during the time of the later pharaohs. It was, if you like, a major motorway junction — the spot where the Nile, Egypt’s lifeline, met the Med. Archaeologists have determined that as well as having a naturally navigable channel next to its ancient harbour, a further artificial channel appears to have been dug to expedite trade.
The Heracleion finds will add tremendous depth to our understanding of the ancient world — not least because, among the discoveries, there are perfectly preserved steles (inscribed pillars) decorated with hieroglyphics. Translated, they will reveal much about the religious and political life in this corner of ancient Egypt.
It was a similar inscription on the Rosetta Stone — discovered in the Nile Delta town of Rosetta in 1799 by a French soldier, and now in the British Museum — that cracked the code of hieroglyphics in the first place.
And like the Rosetta Stone, those steles found beneath the waters of Aboukir Bay are inscribed in Greek and Egyptian, too. Who knows how many more archaeological gems will be uncovered at Heracleion?
The very name of the city is taken from that most famous of Greek heroes, Heracles — aka Hercules — whose 12 labours, from killing the Hydra to capturing Cerberus, the multi-headed hellhound that guarded the gates of the Underworld, captivated the ancient world.
Heraklion, Crete’s capital and largest city, is also named after Heracles, as was Herculaneum, the ancient Roman town that was buried under ash when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.
It appears that Heracleion faded in importance in the later classical period, eclipsed by its neighbouring city of Alexandria, which became the capital of Egypt in 312BC.
Still, Heracleion lingered on, later under Roman control, until it slipped into its watery grave some time in the 6th or 7th century AD. What a thrilling discovery we have on our hands now that the sea has, 1,500 years later, giving up one of its greatest secrets.
Scientists Extracted Liquid Blood From 42,000-Year-Old Foal Found in Siberian Permafrost
On an expedition to the Batagaika crater in Siberia a team of Mammoth tusk hunters uncovered the nearly preserved remains of a 42,000-year-old foal.
Instead, the young foal showed no signs of external damage, retaining its fur, tail and hooves and the hair on its leg and head, has preserved by the permafrost of the region or permanently frozen ground.
The Siberian Times reports that Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University and the Biotech sooam researcher in South Korea extracted blood and urine from the specimen, paving the way for further analysis aimed at cloning the long-dead horse and resurrecting the extinct Lenskaya lineage to which it belongs.
Scientists will take viable cells from the blood samples and grow them in the laboratory in order to clone the animal.
This task is harder said than done. More than 20 attempts to grow cells from foal’s tissue have been made by the team over the past month, but they were all unsuccessful, according to a recent report from the Siberian Times. Russian researcher Lena Grigoryeva said that the participants remain “positive about the outcome.”
The fact that the horse still has hair makes it one of the most well-preserved Ice Age animals ever found, Grigoryev tells CNN’s Gianluca Mezzofiore, adding, “Now we can say what color was the wool of the extinct horses of the Pleistocene era.”
In life, the foal boasted a bay-colored body and a black tail and mane. Aged just one to two weeks old at the time of his death, the young Lenskaya, or Lena horse, met the same untimely demise as many similarly intact animals trapped in permafrost for millennia.
The foal likely drowned in a “natural trap” of sorts—namely, mud that later froze into permafrost, Semyon Grigoryev of Yakutia’s Mammoth Museum told Russian news agency TASS, as reported by the Siberian Times.
“A lot of mud and silt which the foal gulped during the last seconds of the foal’s life were found inside its gastrointestinal tract,” Grigoryev says.
This is only the second time researchers have extracted liquid blood from the remains of prehistoric creatures. In 2013, a group of Russian scientists accomplished the same feat using the body of a 15,000-year-old female woolly mammoth discovered by Grigoryev and his colleagues in 2013, as George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo.
(It’s worth noting that the team studying the foal has also expressed hopes of cloning a woolly mammoth.) Significantly, the foal’s blood is a staggering 27,000 years older than this previous sample.
The NEFU and South Korean scientists behind the new research are so confident of their success that they have already begun searching for a surrogate mare to carry the cloned Lena horse and, in the words of the Siberian Times, fulfill “the historic role of giving birth to the comeback species.”
It’s worth noting, however, that any acclaim is premature and, as Dvorsky writes, indicative of the “typical unbridled enthusiasm” seen in the Russian news outlet’s reports.
Speaking with CNN’s Mezzofiore, Grigoryev himself expressed doubts about the researcher’s chances, explaining, “I think that even the unique preservation of blood is absolutely hopeless for cloning purposes since the main blood cells … do not have nuclei with DNA.”
He continued, “We are trying to find intact cells in muscle tissue and internal organs that are also very well-preserved.”
What the Siberian Times fails to address are the manifold “ethical and technological” questions raised by reviving long-gone species. Among other concerns, according to Dvorsky, scientists have cited the clone’s diminished quality of life, issues of genetic diversity and inbreeding, and the absence of an adequate Ice Age habitat.
It remains to be seen whether the Russian-South Korean team can actually deliver on its ambitious goal. Still, if the purported July 2018 resurrection of two similarly aged 40,000-year-old roundworms “defrosted” after millennia in the Arctic permafrost is any indication, the revival of ancient animals is becoming an increasingly realistic possibility.
Rabbit hole leads to incredible 700-year-old Knights Templar cave complex
An outstanding discovery was made when a 700-year-old Knights Templar cave was found beneath a farmer’s field in Shropshire, England, in a complex known as the Caynton Caves network.
The Knights Templar was a major catholic order which was popular during the Crusades and their name comes from Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Knights Templar were first created in 1129 according to the order of the Pope, and it was their first duty to help religious pilgrims who visited the Holy Land and Jerusalem.
The photographer Michael Scott, from Birmingham, saw a video of the 700-year-old Knights Templar cave in Shropshire and decided to visit the Caynton Caves network to witness them for himself.
Some of Scott’s photographs of the cave have been published, including those in The Mirror, and these show an exotic candlelit labyrinth which Fox News note looks extremely similar to scenes straight out of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Michael Scott explained that as you walk through the farmer’s field in Shropshire, you would have no idea that there was a Knights Templar cave directly beneath it if you didn’t know it existed in the first place, which would have made it the perfect meeting place in the past.
“I traipsed over a field to find it, but if you didn’t know it was there you would just walk right past it. I had to crouch down and once I was in it was completely silent.”
The Knights Templar cave was carved out of sandstone, and the Caynton Caves network is found in woodland by Shifnal, and the entrances to the caves are so small they could almost be mistaken for rabbit holes.
Some of the chambers of the caves are also so narrow that visitors have to get on their hands and knees to move around inside of them.
The history of the Knights Templar is such that once the Holy Land was lost, the influence that the Knights Templar once held waned, although they remained extremely wealthy.
In 1307, King Philip IV of France decided that he wanted to expunge the debts that he owed to the order and plotted to bring about the end of the Knights Templar.
He did this by accusing members of many false things like heresy and had them locked up or burned at the stake. In 1312, Pope Clement V made the decision to permanently disband the Knights Templar.
The Caynton Caves network in Shropshire where the Knights Templar cave is also has a darker history, and it is alleged that there were once ceremonies involving Black Magic here, the Birmingham Mail reported.
The Shropshire Star note that at one point the caves were filled with graffiti, rubbish and other debris and because of this, the owners of the caves sealed off the entrance in 2012.
The Knights Templar cave, along with the entire Caynton Caves network, is said to be extremely popular with Pagans and Druids and is also frequently visited during times like Halloween and the Winter and Summer Solstices.
There is much history to be found in this part of Shropshire, and the Knights Templar cave isn’t the only place in this area that is linked to the Templar.
For instance, the Norman temple inside Ludlow Castle may have also been used by the Knights Templar.
There is also Penkridge Hall in Leebotwood, where Lydley Preceptory once stood. This was used by the Templars in 1158 and shut down in 1308 at the end of their order.
Drought Reveals “Spanish Stonehenge” Older Than the Pyramids
After 50 years of immersion on the bottom of a basin, in Spain, a 5,000-year-old monument emerged.
There are 144 granite blocks on the megalithic site, which are over 6 feet high, known as ‘ Spanish Stonehenge. ‘ Its similarity to the UNESCO World Heritage site in Wiltshire is striking, but the Iberian version is made of smaller rocks.
The Spanish General ordered the construction of a hydroelectric dam at Peraleda de la Mata, near Cáceres in Extremadura, which was supposed to be condemned to the history books of the 1960s.
However, a severe and prolonged drought has seen the structure emerge as the last drops of water vanished from the barren basin. Western Spain is being ravaged by a year-long drought and the Bronze Age structure, thought to be an ancient temple, can now be seen.
Hugo Obermaier, a German priest and amateur archaeologist, first found the site in 1925.
Due to the unfortunate decision-making of General Franco who opted to consign the site to obscurity when he commissioned a valley bordering the Tagus river to be flooded.
But before its rediscovery and subsequent demise, it is thought the stones would have centered around a central chamber for sun worship.
It is believed the Celts living in Iberia 4,000 years ago may have built the structure.
‘The stones have been brought from about five kilometers away to form this temple, which we think was used to worship the sun,’ Ángel Castaño, president of the Peraleda Cultural Association, told the Times.
‘In that way, it has similarities to Stonehenge but is obviously smaller.
‘People here had heard about them but had never seen them. We want the authorities to move these stones to the banks of the reservoir and to use them as a tourist attraction, as few people come to this area.’
Stonehenge’s enormous rocks are up to 30 feet in length, dwarfing the six-foot-tall single monoliths uncovered in Spain. There are more stones at the Spanish site, 1144 compared to 93 in Wiltshire.
However, Stonehenge’s monument covers 10,800 square feet (10,000 square meters), a far bigger area than the Spanish site.
Long-term plans for the preservation of the site are yet to be laid out, but Mr. Castaño met officials from the regional government yesterday to discuss the matter. If action is not taken now, he said, it could be many years before they are seen again.
A prolonged submersion could also be catastrophic for the stones, which are made of granite, a porous material prone to erosion, The monoliths are already showing significant signs of wear, he said, and if they are not saved now, it may be too late.
Radiocarbon dating of the rocks found they range in age from around 4,000 to 5,000 years old and this ties them curiously to the history of Stonehenge. Neolithic people, often prone to building monolithic structures, emerged throughout time across Europe.
It is widely accepted Stonehenge’s bluestones were quarried from Priesli Hills in Wales and moved to the current location, but how the idea for Stonehenge arrived on British shores remains a mystery.
Various pieces of recent research have looked at what likely led to this, and a scientific paper published in February put forward the idea that the knowledge and expertise to create such monuments was spread around Europe by sailors.
The authors from the University of Gothenburg said the practice of erecting enormous stone structures began in France 6,500 years ago and then made its way around Europe as people migrated.
Further research into the Spanish Stonehenge could allow for a more detailed picture to emerge of the practice’s popularity in different areas at different times. Currently, inhabitants of Anatolia, what is now Turkey, are thought to have moved to Iberia and settled before eventually heading north and entering the British Isles.
Museum of Artifacts: 14000 Years Old Bisons Sculpture Found in Le d’Audoubert Cave, Ariege, France
The bison stood next to each other, built from the cave walls, leaning against a small boulder in the darkness.
While they are 18 feet twenty-four inches long, they are beautifully constructed and durability is remarkable.
The bison remained alone for thousands of years in the dark French cave until it was discovered in the early 20th century.
The artist’s hand signs are still clearly visible and the techniques used to render the face and mane details Objects like these clearly demonstrate that man used clay for artistic expression long before the actual firing of clay was discovered.
The walls of these caves also are covered with drawings of bison and other game animals, marked in carbon from the fires, as well as the earth minerals such as iron oxide and manganese, showing that these ceramic coloring materials that we still use today were known to our earliest ancestors.
The bisons’ shaggy mane and beard appear to be carved with a tool, but the jaws are traced by the sculptor’s fingernail.
The impression given is one of immense naturalistic beauty. The female bison is ready to mate, while the Bull is sniffing the air.
Both animals are supported by a central rock and are unbelievably well preserved (proving perhaps that there was never a passage connecting the Tuc d’Audoubert cave with the Trois Freres), although they have suffered some drying out, which has caused some cracks to appear across their bodies.
Also in the chamber are two other bison figures, both engraved on the ground.
Prehistorians have theorized that a small group of people (including a child) remained in the Tuc d’Audoubert cave with the sole reason of participating in certain ceremonies associated with cave art.
The remote location of the clay bison – beneath a low ceiling at the very end of the upper gallery, roughly 650 meters from the entrance, is consistent with their involvement in some type of ritualistic or shamanistic process.
Here are the list of top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2019
2019 was another exciting year for archaeology. Modern technology and extensive excavations have revealed a slew of fascinating finds-from Bronze Age “megalopolis” in Israel, a “cachette of the priests” near Luxor, Egypt, and a massive ancient wall in western Iran are just a few of the many incredible archaeological stories that came to light in 2019. Here, Archaeological World takes a look at 10 of the biggest archaeology discoveries that emerged this year, it was difficult to narrow this list to only 10.
10. Iron Age Celtic Woman Found Buried In Zurich Tree Trunk
Construction of the Kern school complex in Zurich’s Aussersihl district was fairly mundane right up until the discovery of a 2,200-year-old Iron Age Celtic woman buried in a hollowed-out tree trunk. Researchers were confident this was a woman of high regard, according to LiveScience. The woolen dress, shawl, sheepskin coat, and necklace made of amber and glass beads certainly support that conclusion.
Analysis of the remains indicated she was around 40 when she died — and that she had a sweet tooth. Experts also believed she grew up in what is now modern-day Zurich’s Limmat Valley. While the preservation of her body and belongings is certainly impressive enough, the ingeniously modified tree trunk she was laid to rest in was just as remarkable.
This wasn’t the first instance of historical remnants being discovered in the region, either. In 1903, construction workers found the grave of a Celtic man buried with his sword, shield, and lance. This woman, interestingly enough, was discovered a mere 260 feet away. Previous evidence suggested a Celtic settlement dating to the 1st century B.C. existed there. While some posited the two were buried in the same decade, that aspect remains unclear. To learn more, archaeologists salvaged, conserved, and analyzed the remains.
To add further curiosity to the matter, researchers assess that from 450 B.C. to 58 B.C, when the two Celts were buried, a “wine-guzzling, gold-designing, poly/bisexual, naked-warrior-battling culture” called La Tène flourished in Switzerland’s Lac de Neuchâtel. In terms of finding a final resting place, both of these Celts could’ve done worse than find it there.
9. 66-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Eggs
A 10-year-old boy in China who was out playing near a lake accidentally unearthed a fossilized egg that led to the discovery of a dinosaur nest that is 66 million years old. The find was just the latest in a city that has become famed for its number of dinosaurs finds, especially fossilized eggs, Héyuán, in Guangdong province.
Zhang Yangzhe was playing on an embankment near the Dong River under the supervision of his mother when he made the find while trying to find something to crack a walnut with. While digging in the soil, the boy saw what looked like a strange stone, so he dug it up very carefully. Once alerted to the find, experts immediately confirmed that the strange stone was a fossilized egg. In the following days, they began to excavate the site where Zhang had made his discovery and they found 10 more eggs. They determined that Zhang had found a dinosaur nest because they were all unearthed in a small area.
8. Massive wall
A wall stretching for about 71 miles (115 kilometers) was documented in western Iran. Running north-south between the Bamu Mountains in the north and an area near Zhaw Marg village in the south, it took an estimated 1 million cubic meters [35,314,667 cubic feet] of stone to build. While local people and a few archaeologists had known about the existence of the wall, it had never been described in a journal until this year when an article in the journal Antiquity, written by Sajjad Alibaigi, an assistant professor of Iranian archaeology at Razi University in Kermanshah, Iran, was released.
“Remnants of structures, now destroyed, are visible in places along the wall. These may have been associated turrets [small towers] or buildings,” Alibaigi wrote. He noted that the wall is made from “natural local materials, such as cobbles and boulders, with gypsum mortar surviving in places.”
It’s not clear when the wall was built, who built it or why. Pottery found beside the wall suggests that it was constructed between the fourth century B.C. and sixth century A.D., Alibaigi wrote. The Parthians (who ruled between 247 B.C. and A.D. 224) and the Sassanians (A.D. 224-651) are two empires that flourished in the area, and either one of them could have built the wall.
7. The Oldest Figurative Cave Painting in the World Was Discovered in Indonesia
The oldest pictorial art in the world is now believed to be an ancient hunting scene painted on the walls of an Indonesian cave some 43,900 years ago. The prehistoric artwork is even more significant, however, because it shows imaginary figures with both human and animal features. That suggests that the concept of religious thinking originated not in Europe, as previously thought, but much earlier, and on the opposite side of the globe.
6. Most colorful tomb
Egypt divulged a wealth of ancient secrets in 2019. By far the most colorful discovery was that of the 4,400-year-old tomb of Khuwy, an official who lived at a time when the pyramids were being constructed in Egypt.
Hieroglyphs found in the tomb reveal Khuwy’s many titles included “overseer of the khentiu-she of the Great House,” “great one of the ten of Upper Egypt” and “sole friend” of the pharaoh. All these titles indicate that he was an official of some importance. But what sets this discovery apart is the remarkable preservation of the tomb’s colorful paintings. The paintings include depictions of ships at sail, Egyptians working in the fields and complex patterns that are almost impossible to describe in words. The colors bring these paintings to life; and the fact that they are so well preserved, despite the passage of more than 4 millennia of time, is unusual.
5. Bronze Age “megalopolis”
A 5,000-year-old Early Bronze Age “megalopolis” that was home to around 6,000 people (a large population at the time) was discovered at the site of En Esur in Israel. Millions of pottery fragments, flint tools, basalt stone vessels and a large temple filled with burnt animal bones and figurines were discovered in the city. One of the figurines depicts a human head with a seal impression on it, showing human hands lifted into the air. The temple had a huge stone basin that held liquids that were probably used for religious rituals. The city’s residential and public areas, streets, alleyways and temples appear to have been carefully planned out.
“This is a huge city — a megalopolis in relation to the Early Bronze Age, where thousands of inhabitants, who made their living from agriculture, lived and traded with different regions and even with different cultures and kingdoms in the area,” Itai Elad, Yitzhak Paz, and Dina Shalem, the directors of the excavation, said in a statement announcing the discovery. They said that the city was the “early Bronze Age New York” of the region.
4. A Temple and Countless Treasures in a Sunken City
In July, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities announced that marine archaeologists diving at the ancient submerged city of Heracleion (named after Hercules who legend claimed had been there) off the coast of the Nile Delta discovered the remains of a temple, docks, and boats containing ancient treasures.
Known as Thonis in Egypt, and submerged under 150 feet of water, the city sits in what is today the Bay of Aboukir, but in the 8th century BC when the city is thought to have been built, it would have been situated at the mouth of the River Nile delta where it opened into the Mediterranean Sea. The dive team found a “clutch of new ports” which effectively extends their map of the ancient sunken city “by about two-thirds of a mile” and they have also added to their mapping of Canopus, a second submerged city close to Heracleion. What’s more, one of the scores of ancient ships at the site from the fourth century BC was found to contain crockery, coins, and jewelry.
3. Preserved And Harnessed Pompeii Military Horse Unearthed
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., there was little anyone in its vicinity could do but run and pray to the gods. The choking, toxic cloud of gas and the searing, white-hot ash of the eruption spared neither slave nor Roman military officer — Vesuvius even took the officer’s horses. According to the Associated Press, the petrified remains of a harnessed horse and an accompanying saddle were found lying in a stable in the Villa of the Mysteries. The ancient homestead in the suburbs of Pompeii overlooks the Bay of Naples and formerly belonged to a high-ranking military officer, possibly even a general. Excavated in the early 1900s, the site had previously been re-buried.
Director of the dig site, Massimo Osanna, was confident this horse was a military steed. Saddled in a wooden and bronze harness, archaeologists believe that the horse was being prepared for the officer who would be needed to help evacuate the citizens of the city. The animal was also well-groomed and decorated with rich metals, further suggesting this was not just anyone’s horse. It was found alongside several other horses who died in the stable.
Neither of the two theoretical causes of death is what one would call preferable: either the horses suffocated from the endless cloud of volcanic ash that blanketed the city and its surroundings, or it was essentially boiled alive from the inside-out from the extreme temperatures of the volcanic gases that would have accompanied the ash cloud.
2. Largest Mass Child Sacrifice in The World Unearthed In Peru
In August 2019, archaeologists in Peru uncovered the largest mass child sacrifice in recorded history. The site contained the remains of 227 victims and was found north of Lima in the coastal town of Huanchaco. According to the BBC News, ever single victim was between five and 14 years old. It’s believed that their last breaths were taken over 500 years ago, with some of the remains remarkably still having hair and skin. There was also evidence that the children were killed during wet weather.
With their deaths occurring at some point before the 1500s and their bodies facing the ocean, researchers theorized they died as offerings to the gods worshipped by the Chimú people of the region. This group was one of the strongest and most independent at the time. The Chimú culture peaked between 1200 and 1400 A.D. before the Incas conquered them and the Spanish subsequently conquered the Incas. According to CNN, it was the Chimú who constructed Chan Chan — the largest pre-Columbian city in South America. The civilization worshipped Shi, a moon god they thought was more powerful than the sun, and human sacrifices were common as appeasements to Shi. The researchers who stumbled upon this remarkable find also found the remains of 40 warriors, further illuminating the culture of the Chimú.
“This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found,” said lead archaeologist Feren Castillo. “It’s uncontrollable, this thing with the children. Wherever you dig, there’s another one.” For biological anthropologist John Verano, the discovery was just another reminder of how vital archaeology is to our understanding of the past.
1. 30 mummies discovered in Valley of the Kings
Archaeologists discovered 30 perfectly preserved sealed wooden coffins, dating back 3,000 years, in “El-Assasif,” a necropolis near Luxor, Egypt, in 2019. They called the discovery the “cachette of the priests” since some of the mummies appear to be those of ancient Egyptian priests. A cachette is a place where things were hidden away. The vividly colored and complex patterns on the coffins are well preserved despite the passage of 3 millennia.
The mummies within the coffins are also well preserved. When two of the coffins were opened at a news conference, the outer wrappings of the mummies looked untouched. Archaeologists found that 23 adult males, five adult females and two children were buried in the 30 wooden coffins. Analysis of the mummies and translation of the hieroglyphs is ongoing, and more finds about this cache will likely emerge in the next year or two. It’s remarkable that so many sealed coffins, their mummies still intact, were preserved for such a long period of time. Grave robbing was a common occurrence in Egypt in both ancient and modern times.