Category Archives: AFRICA

Cleopatra’s final resting place: Mummies of two high-status Egyptians discovered

Cleopatra’s final resting place: Mummies of two high-status Egyptians discovered.

The mystery behind Egyptian queen Cleopatra’s tomb is immense because nobody appears to know where she was buried. However, archaeologists in Egypt are in all probability, close to cracking the code with respect to Cleopatra’s burial after two mummies of high-status individuals, who lived in her era, have been discovered at Taposiris Magna – a temple on the Nile delta.

A discovery that it is being described as “sensational” because it shows the importance of a necropolis that is being linked to her by the latest finds.

Although the burial chamber had been undisturbed for 2,000 years, the mummies are in a poor state of preservation because water had seeped through.

Cleopatra's final resting place: Mummies of two high-status Egyptians discovered.
The two mummies found inside a sealed tomb at Taposiris Magna, that would originally have been completely covered with gold leaf.

But crucial evidence reveals they were originally completely covered with gold leaf, a luxury afforded only to those from the top tiers of society. Perhaps these two individuals had interacted with Cleopatra herself, archaeologists suggest.

The opening of the first-ever intact tomb found at Taposiris Magna was witnessed by cameras for a new Channel 5 documentary, The Hunt for Cleopatra’s Tomb, to be screened.

The temple is located near Alexandria, the capital of ancient Egypt and where Cleopatra killed herself in 30 BC

It is presented by Dr Glenn Godenho, a senior lecturer in Egyptology at Liverpool University, who described the discovery as phenomenal.

“Although now covered in dust from 2,000 years underground, at the time these mummies would have been spectacular. To be covered in gold leaf shows they … would have been … important members of society,” he said.

The mummies have been X-rayed, establishing that they are male and female. One suggestion is they were priests who played a key role in maintaining the pharaohs’ power. One bears an image of a scarab, symbolising rebirth, painted in gold leaf.

Cleopatra was the last of a ruthless dynasty that ruled the Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt for almost three centuries. Yet not a single Ptolemaic pharaoh’s tomb has been found.

Excavations at Taposiris Magna are headed by Dr Kathleen Martínez, who, after working there for over 14 years, is more convinced than ever Cleopatra’s tomb will be found there. Only a tiny percentage of the vast site has been explored.

Dr Glenn Godenho and Dr Kathleen Martinez inside Taposiris Magna temple near Alexandria in Egypt

In the show, cameras film her as the burial chamber with two mummies is opened up for the first time. After an initial limestone slab is removed with a chisel and hammer, she peers through a small hole, exclaiming: “Oh my god, there are two mummies … See this wonder.”

Osteoarchaeologist, Dr Linda Chapon, working to conserve the two mummies found inside a sealed tomb at Taposiris Magna

Her previous discoveries include a headless statue of a pharaoh, believed to be King Ptolemy IV, Cleopatra’s ancestor, and a foundation plate with an inscription showing that the temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis. Cleopatra saw herself as the “human incarnation of Isis”, Martínez said.

At the site of the temple altar, where priests would have made offerings to the gods, 200 coins bearing Cleopatra’s name and her face have been discovered.

This “incredible find” not only links Cleopatra directly to Taposiris Magna but also reveals a striking image of the queen, Godenho says in the documentary.

While its prominent nose and double chin may not suggest the classical beauty immortalised by Hollywood and Elizabeth Taylor, it is how she would have wanted to be seen as the coins would have been pressed using her direct instructions.

Egypt dig unearths ‘early image of Jesus’ in a mysterious underground tomb

Egypt dig unearths ‘early image of Jesus’ in a mysterious underground tomb

Jesus image has been replicated countless times in churches and artwork, but a team of Spanish archaeologists believe they have found one of the earliest images of Jesus.

A mysterious underground room dating from between the sixth and seventh century AD holds an image of a young man with curly hair, who appears to be giving a blessing among other Coptic images.

The Catalan experts who discovered the site in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus think it was the final resting place for a writer and a number of priests.

A miraculous discovery! An underground room dating from the sixth century holds an image of a young man with curly hair, who appears to be giving a blessing (pictured) and one expert thinks it could be one of the earliest paintings of Jesus Christ. The image, which is seen here, has been protected from the sun with a thin layer of material

A miraculous discovery! An underground room dating from the sixth century holds an image of a young man with curly hair, who appears to be giving a blessing (pictured) and one expert thinks it could be one of the earliest paintings of Jesus Christ. The image, which is seen here, has been protected from the sun with a thin layer of material

THE UNDERGROUND ROOM

The structure dates from between the sixth and seventh century AD in the Coptic period and holds what could be an image of Jesus. It shows a young man with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing

The room is thought to be a tomb for a writer and several priests, based upon artefacts found inside it, including a metallic ink well. It lies in what was the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus on a processional route between the Nile and a temple dedicated to Osiris – the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld

There is another mysterious structure closeby, linked with a flight of well-worn steps, which experts think might be another temple.

The find has been heralded as ‘exceptional’ by Josep Padró who is leading the exhibition and said the figure accompanies symbols and images of plants that are thought to date from the Coptic period of the first Christians.

Dr Padró, Emeritus Professor at the University of Barcelona, told La Vanguardia newspaper that the figure is that of ‘a young man with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing.’

‘We could be dealing with a very early image of Jesus Christ.’

Archaeologists are now working to translate inscriptions surrounding the figure in the painting on the wall of the rectangular crypt in a bid to ascertain the man’s identity. The underground structure measures around eight metres long and four metres deep.

Experts from the University of Barcelona, the Catalan Egyptology Society and the University of Montpellier are also unsure of what the function of structure originally was, but said that the underground stone structure is ‘excellent’ quality.

Ancient centre: The Catalan experts who discovered the site in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus (marked on the map) think it was the final resting place for a writer and a number of priests
Tools of the trade: The team of archaeologists also found working tools of a scribe that were buried in the tomb. They include a metallic inkpot which is still full of ink and two new pens for the pens (pictured) for the deceased to write during the eternal life

They also found working tools of a scribe that was buried in the tomb. They include a metallic inkpot which is still full of ink and two new pens for the deceased to write during the eternal life.

Dr Padró said: ‘The archaeological site of Oxyrhynchus is known for the thousands of papyri found there, but any scribe was found to date.’

While there were no inscriptions hinting at the identity of the deceased, the remains show that the scribe was probably around 17 year’s old and lived during the Coptic Roman period.

Archaeologists and engineers had to move around 45tonnes of rock to get to the hidden artwork and another unidentified structure close by, which is connected to the tombs by a set of very worn steps is currently being investigated.

Gateway to the afterlife? The underground structure is situated in the middle of what was a processional route joining the Nile with the Osireion - the temple dedicated to Osiris - which is one of the greatest findings of Oxyrhynchus. The god is pictured in this painting in theTomb of Pashedu in Luxor, Egypt alongside - Orus, the hawk god protector of Osiris
Gateway to the afterlife? The underground structure is situated in the middle of what was a processional route joining the Nile with the Osireion – the temple dedicated to Osiris – which is one of the greatest findings of Oxyrhynchus. The god is pictured in this painting in the tomb of Pashedu in Luxor, Egypt alongside – Orus, the hawk god protector of Osiris

No-one is sure of what lies inside it, but experts from the University of Barcelona think it might be a temple, perhaps dedicated to god Serapis – the Hellenistic form of Osiris who is the ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife.

The structures are situated in the middle of what was a processional route joining the Nile with the Osireion, the temple dedicated to Osiris, which is one of the greatest findings of Oxyrhynchus.

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has become personally involved with the excavation, The Local reported. The Egyptian ministry will develop the archaeological site to preserve early Christian artwork.

Passport of 3,000-year-old Mummy of Pharaoh Ramesses II Issued for Travelling to France for the necessary repair

Passport of 3,000-year-old Mummy of Pharaoh Ramesses II Issued for Travelling to France for the necessary repair

Pharoah Ramesses was one of the strongest leaders in ancient Egypt and even when he had died, he was an absolute king. Ramesses, sometimes also known as Ramses, was the greatest and the most famous ruler of the New Kingdom, and ruling the dynasty of Egypt over 66 years.

Born in 1303 BC, Ramesses was named after Ra, the ruler of the sun and ‘Ramesses’ translates to ‘Ra is the one who bore him.’ He fought multiple battles and led several military expeditions. He got hold of the throne when he was only in his teens.

His father, Ramesses I, came from a non-Royal family and was given the crown after the demise of Akhenaten, a pharaoh who tried to convert Egyptians to a newly-introduced monotheistic religion. He made his son a military general when he was merely 10 years old. Egyptians referred to Ramesses II as ‘Ramesses the great.’ He was deeply loved by his masses.

Archaeologists have found numerous Paintings, murals, engravings, and tombs in honor of Ramesses II, praising him. While the exact age is not known, it is believed that Ramesses died when he was about 90 years old.

He had several dental problems and was suffering from arthritis. He outlived many of his wives and even children and took his empire to a new height.

Ramesses II as a child at Cairo Museum

He was buried in the Valley of Kings, originally, but due to the constant threat of being looted, the priests took him out, re-wrapped him, and then placed him in the tomb of queen Ahmose Inhapy only to remove him again and move to Pinedjem’s tomb, a high priest. The linen which covers his body has hieroglyphics depicting the same.

His mummy was first discovered in 1881 and the people who discovered it were shocked to see what they found. Even after hundreds of years, Ramesses’ body was still intact, hair still on his head and his skin was in pristine condition.

The mummy was 5’7 in height, had a strong jaw and an aquiline nose structure. Gaston Maspero, who first unwrapped the mummy, revealed fascinating details about it.

In Egypt, a statue of Ramses II

“On the temples, there are a few sparse hairs, but at the poll the hair is quite thick, forming smooth, straight locks about five centimeters in length. White at the time of death, and possibly auburn during life, they have been dyed a light red by the spices (henna) used in embalming… the mustache and beard are thin…

The hairs are white, like those of the head and eyebrows…the skin is of earthy brown, splotched with black… the face of the mummy gives a fair idea of the face of the living king,” he noted.

But, when a group of Egyptologists visited his tomb in 1974, they found that the body of the legendary king was deteriorating rapidly and was in a grave need of repairs.

It was found that bacteria due to humidity had infested the body of the pharaoh, causing it to fall apart. To repair and preserve such an ancient body, experts were needed and at that time, such experts were only found in France.

So, in order to take the mummy to Paris, the authorities issued Ramesses II a valid Egyptian passport, 3,000 years after his death. A picture of his mummy was his passport picture (and you thought you look ugly in your passport id) and his profession was listed as ‘King (Deceased).’

The mummy flew to Paris after formalities and was received with military honors, like a king. After he was repaired, he flew back to Cairo and now resides there in the Egyptian Museum.

The legendary king was issued a valid Egyptian passport so he could fly to Paris for necessary repairs.

Egypt: Hidden City found beneath Alexandria – Archaeology World

Egypt: Hidden City found beneath Alexandria – Archaeology World

Alexander the Great founded the legendary city of Alexandria as he swept through Egypt to conquer the world. Now scientists have discovered hidden underwater traces of a city that existed at Alexandria at least seven centuries before Alexander the Great arrived, findings hinted at in Homer’s Odyssey and that could shed light on the ancient world.

In Egypt on the Mediterranean shore, Alexandria was founded in 332 B.C, to immortalize Alexander the Great. The city was renowned for its library, once the largest in the world, as well as its lighthouse at the island of Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Alexandria was known to have developed from a settlement known as Rhakotis, or Râ-Kedet, vaguely alluded to as a modest fishing village of little significance by some historians.

Detail from the Alexander mosaic. From the House of the Faun, Pompeii, c. 80 B.C.

Seven rod-shaped samples of dirt gathered from the seafloor of Alexandria’s harbor now suggest there may have been a flourishing urban center there as far back at 1000 B.C.

Coastal geoarchaeologist Jean-Daniel Stanley of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and his colleagues used vibrating hollow tubes to gently extract three-inch-wide rods of sediment 6 to 18 feet long (2 to 5.5 meters) from up to 20 feet (6.5 meters) underwater.

Collecting these samples underwater proved challenging. “Alexandria now is home to as many as 4 million people, and we were in the unfortunate position of having to deal with their discharge—human waste, municipal waste, industrial waste—which got released into the harbor,” Stanley said. “It’s not funny, but you have to sort of laugh.”

Ceramic shards, high levels of lead that were likely used in construction, building stones imported from elsewhere in Egypt, and organic material likely coming from sewage were detected in the sediment.

These all suggest the presence of a significant settlement well before Alexander the Great came. The results are detailed in the August issue of the journal GSA Today.

“Alexandria was built on top of an existing, and perhaps quite important, settlement, maybe one that was minimized in importance because we can’t see it now,” Stanley told LiveScience. “Nothing really concrete about Rhakotis has been discovered until now.”

Alexander the Great likely chose this area for Alexandria since it had a bay to protect a harbor against fierce winter storms in the Mediterranean.

“There are very few places in the Egyptian Mediterranean coast where the coastline is not smooth,” Stanley said. “This would have been the best place to establish a harbor.”

Stanley added this bay was even noted in Homer’s epic Odyssey: “Now in the surging sea an island lies, Pharos they call it. By it, there lies a bay with a good anchorage, from which they send the trim ships off to sea.”

This area might have been a haven throughout ancient times for the Greeks, Minoans, Phoenicians, and others. Future research could shed light on the life of mariners at this settlement before Alexander came. “Virtually nothing is known of the people who would have lived there,” Stanley said.

Older than Giza: 4,600-year-old pyramid uncovered in Egypt

Older than Giza: 4,600-year-old pyramid uncovered in Egypt

Researchers working near the 4,600-year-old pyramid uncovered at Tell Edfu in Egypt. Archaeologists working near Edfu, a city in southern Egypt, fought back the rolling tide of modern development to preserve a rare archaeological site. And the effort has paid off: Beneath this heap of sand, at a site called Tell Edfu, researchers have uncovered a 4,600-year-old step pyramid — one of the earliest pyramids yet found.

Archaeologists working near the ancient settlement of Edfu in southern Egypt have uncovered a step pyramid that dates back about 4,600 years.

The step pyramid, which once stood as high as 43 feet (13 meters), is one of seven so-called “provincial” pyramids built by either the pharaoh Huni (reign ca. 2635-2610 B.C.) or Snefru (reign ca. 2610-2590 B.C.). Over time, the step pyramid’s stone blocks were pillaged, and the monument was exposed to weathering, so today, it’s only about 16 feet (5 m) tall.

Scattered throughout central and southern Egypt, the provincial pyramids are located near major settlements, have no internal chambers and were not intended for burial. Six of the seven pyramids have almost identical dimensions, including the newly uncovered one at Edfu, which is about 60 x 61 feet (18.4 x 18.6 m). 

The purpose of these seven pyramids is a mystery. They may have been used as symbolic monuments dedicated to the royal cult that affirmed the power of the king in the southern provinces.

“The similarities from one pyramid to the other are really amazing, and there is definitely a common plan,” said Gregory Marouard, a research associate at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute who led the work at the Edfu pyramid. On the east side of the newly uncovered pyramid, his team found the remains of an installation where food offerings appear to have been made — a discovery that is important for understanding this kind of pyramid since it provides clues as to what they were used for.

The team also found hieroglyphic graffiti incised on the outer faces of the pyramid. The inscriptions are located beside the remains of babies and children who were buried at the foot of the pyramid. The researchers think the inscriptions and burials date to long after the pyramid was built and that the structure was not originally intended as a burial place. Initial results of the excavation were presented at a symposium held in Toronto recently by the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities.

Uncovering the pyramid

Though scholars knew of the existence of the pyramid at Edfu, the structure had never been excavated before Marouard’s team started work in 2010, he said in the study. His team found that the pyramid was covered by a thick layer of sand, modern waste, and remains from the pillaging of its blocks.

It didn’t look like a pyramid he said, and people in a nearby village even thought the structure was the tomb of a sheikh, a local Muslim saint. As the team went to work cleaning the monument, the ancient pyramid was revealed. 

Built of sandstone blocks and clay mortar, it had been constructed in the form of a three-step pyramid. A core of blocks rises up vertically, with two layers of blocks beside it, on top of each other. This made the pyramid look like it had three steps. The style is similar to that of a step pyramid built by Djoser (reign ca. 2670-2640 B.C.), the pharaoh who constructed Egypt’s first pyramid at the beginning of the third ancient Egyptian dynasty. The technique is close to that used at the Meidum pyramid, which was built by either Snefru or Huni and started out as a step pyramid before being turned into a true pyramid.

“The construction itself reflects a certain care and a real expertise in the mastery of stone construction, especially for the adjustment of the most important blocks,” said Marouard in his paper. Marouard also noted that the pyramid was built directly on the bedrock and was constructed entirely with local raw materials. The quarry where the sandstone was extracted was discovered in 2011, and is located only about a half mile (800 m) north of the pyramid.

The growth of a modern-day cemetery and village poses a danger to the newly uncovered pyramid. In order to help prevent further looting, a fence was built around the structure, thanks to financial assistance from the American Research Center in Egypt and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Graffiti and child burials

As the team uncovered the pyramid, they found that inscriptions had been incised on its outer faces. They include hieroglyphic depictions of a book roll, a seated man, a four-legged animal, a reed leaf and a bird.

“These are mostly private and rough inscriptions, and certainly dedicated to the child/babies’ burials located right under these inscriptions at the foot of the pyramid,” Marouard told Live Science in an email. One of the inscriptions appears to mean “head of the house” and may be a reference to the mother of a buried child. Marouard said his team would be publishing these burials and images in more detail in the future. 

A pyramid abandoned

The archaeologists found that by the time of the reign of Khufu (the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid), ca. 2590-2563 B.C., the pyramid at Edfu had been abandoned, and offerings were no longer being made. This occurred less than 50 years after its construction, Marouard said.

This suggests the seven small pyramids stopped being used when work on the Great Pyramid began. It seems Khufu no longer thought there was a need to maintain a small pyramid at Edfu, or elsewhere in southern Egypt, Marouard said. Rather, Khufu focused all the resources on building the Great Pyramid at Giza, which is close to the Egyptian capital at Memphis, he added.

Khufu may have felt politically secure in southern Egypt and saw no need to maintain or build pyramids there, Marouard said in the email. The “center of gravity of Egypt was then at Memphis for many centuries — this region draining resources and manpower from the provinces, all regions being put to use for the large construction sites of funerary complexes.”

At Wadi Al-Jarf, a port found on the shore of the Red Sea that dates to Khufu’s time, papyri (written documents) dating to the end of Khufu’s reign were recently discovered that supports the idea that the pharaoh tried to converge all the resources he could toward Giza and the ancient wonder being constructed there.

Archaeologists in Egypt reveals ‘elite’ mummies, jars filled with organs, and mystery snake cult

Archaeologists in Egypt reveals ‘elite’ mummies, jars filled with organs, and mystery snake cult

The ancient Egyptians, known for their elaborate mummies, took a lot of care in preparing for the afterlife. Now, for the first time, archaeologists have discovered that they had a bustling funeral industry, too. As it turns out, priest-embalmers were also savvy business people whose tactics presaged the modern funeral industry.

A burial workshop unearthed in 2018 in Saqqara, a necropolis (or city of the dead) 20 miles south of Cairo, offered Egyptologists the first major opportunity to document a site where mummies were made.

Archeologists behind early excavations likely overlooked such sites in their eagerness to uncover richly decorated royal tombs.

But as it turns out, the Egyptian funeral parlor wasn’t just preparing the pharaohs for the afterlife. They offered a whole range of services, from ornate golden funerary masks to cheaper plaster ones embellished with gold foil. The canopic jars, which stored the organs of the dead, could be made from alabaster or cheaper painted clay.

“The evidence we uncovered shows the embalmers had very good business sense,” says Ramadan Hussein, an Egyptologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, told National Geographic. “They were very smart about providing alternatives.”

In a tomb deep below the desert, Egyptologist Ramadan Hussein (left) and mummy specialist Salima Ikram (right) examine the coffin of a woman who was laid to rest inside a limestone sarcophagus weighing more than seven tons.

The ancient funeral parlor was located beneath a burial shaft that had last been investigated in the late 1800s—archaeologists had to remove 42 tons of debris to access the chamber, found just three feet below where the earlier excavations had ceased.

Hussein soon realized that what they had found wasn’t a tomb, but the site where bodies were prepared for burial. There was an air shaft that would have provided crucial ventilation, bowls containing traces of the oils and resins used in mummification, and a table-like slab perfect for laying out bodies.

The excavation of the funeral parlor also uncovered six nearby tombs, home to some 50 mummies that illustrate how the business offered its services to different clientele.

The wealthy, buried the deepest—the closest to the underworld—bought such expensive trappings as a limestone sarcophagus and a silver face mask with gold gilding, only the third of its kind ever discovered. The working class on the tomb’s upper tiers, on the other hand, settled for simple wooden coffins.

The rare silver face mask gilded with gold. Photo courtesy of the University of Tübingen, Ramadan Hussein.

The afterlife was hugely important to the ancient Egyptians, and the ritualized mummification process that ensured one’s safe journey to the underworld took a full 70 days.

Embalmers carefully packed the internal organs into four canopic jars, then dried the body out with salt, anointed it with oil, and wrapped it in linen. The finished mummy would be laid to rest in a fully provisioned tomb, according to the family’s means.

Loved ones would pay embalmers regular fees for the upkeep of the dead, according to papyrus documents found in Saqqara over 100 years ago. The discovery of an actual Egyptian funeral parlor offers the first physical evidence of this practice.

“Mummification was a business transaction between an individual and an embalmer in which the embalmer was a specialist, a priest, and a businessman,” Hussein told.

One of two extra mystery canopic jars containing an unidentified organ, buried with the coffin of a woman named Didibastet. Photo courtesy of the Egypt Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Among the important discoveries at the site was the coffin of a woman named Didibastet, who was buried with six canopic jars, two more than tradition dictates, reports Al-Ahram Weekly.

All of the jars contain human tissue, a CT scan revealed, suggesting that this was a special form of mummification that preserved additional organs beyond the lungs, stomach, intestines, and liver. The team’s radiologist is now studying the jars to identify the extra organs.

Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war 13,000 years ago

Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war 13,000 years ago

Humans’ remains of people killed 13,000 years ago in what scientists believe is the oldest identified race war, are today due to going on display at the British Museum in London.

Two skeletons from a massacre in the Sahara desert in 11,000BC, which killed at least 26 people, will be shown in the new Ancient Egypt gallery, alongside the flint-tipped weapons with which they were killed.

French scientists have been working with the museum to examine dozens of skeletons that were found grouped together in the Jebel Sahaba cemetery – one of the earliest organized burial grounds – on the east bank of the Nile, northern Sudan, in the 1960s.

A pair of skeletons belonging to people who were killed on a massacre 13,000 years ago as the result of climate change is going on show in the British Museum, London. Pencils pinpoint out pieces of weaponry responsible for their demise

They believe the remains of the 60 individuals found – around half of which had cut marks on their bones – represent the first communal violence between groups.

Fighting probably broke out because of the environmental disaster of the Ice Age, which caused the attackers and victims to live together in a smaller area, the experts explained.

Renee Friedman, the museum’s curator of early Egypt, told The Times that the attackers and victims were hunter-gatherers who usually avoided violence by moving on when a certain area became overcrowded.

But she believed that the cold and dry conditions of the Nile valley around that time caused a ‘population crisis’, as more people moved to the same area surrounded by desert.

She said: ‘Things were probably very tight, so we think that people started picking on one another.’

The museum acquired the remains in 2002 when they were donated by Fred Wendorf, an American archaeologist who excavated the site in the 1960s.

At least 60 individuals were found and examined using modern technology. One body was found with 39 pieces of flint from arrows and other flint-tipped weapons, Dr. Friedman said.

The cemetery was discovered in 1965. It contained at least 61 individuals dating back about 13,000 years ago. The graveyard (illustrated showing the position in which the skeletons were found,) is one of the earliest formal cemeteries in the world
French scientists have been working with The British Museum to examine dozens of skeletons that were found grouped together in the Jebel Sahaba cemetery. An image of excavations at Jebel Sahaba
in 1965 is pictured
They believe the remains of the 60 individuals found (a skull is pictured) represent the first communal violence between groups because almost half the remains have cut marks on them

As well as the human remains, the display will include flint arrowhead fragments and a healed forearm fracture, which was most likely sustained by a victim who was trying to defend himself during the conflict.

Over the past two years, anthropologists from Bordeaux University have managed to find dozens of previously undetected conflict marks on the victims’ bones.

The British Museum scientists are now planning to research more about the victims themselves, including their gender, age, and diet.

Meanwhile, according to The Independent, work carried out at Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Alaska, and New Orleans’ Tulane University suggests these humans were part of the general sub-Saharan originating population, who were ancestors of modern Black Africans.

Dr. Daniel Antoine, a curator in the British Museum’s Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department, told the paper: ‘The skeletal material is of great importance – not only because of the evidence for conflict but also because the Jebel Sahaba cemetery is the oldest discovered in the Nile valley so far.’

People Lived in This Cave for 78,000 Years

People Lived in This Cave for 78,000 Years

A large cave site was identified by an international interdisciplinary group of scholars operating along the east coast of Africa that documented significant activities of hunter-gatherers and later, Iron Age communities.

Detailed environmental research has demonstrated that human occupations occur in a persistent tropical forest-grassland ecotone, adding new information about the habitats exploited by our species, and indicating that populations sought refuge in a relatively stable environment.

Prior to this cave excavation, little information was available about the last 78,000 years from coastal East Africa, with the majority of archaeological research focused on the Rift Valley and in South Africa.

Humans lived in the humid coastal forest

A large-scale interdisciplinary study, including scientific analyses of archaeological plants, animals, and shells from the cave indicates a broad perseverance of forest and grassland environments.

As the cave environment underwent little variation over time, humans found the site attractive for occupation, even during periods of time when other parts of Africa would have been inhospitable.

This suggests that humans exploited the cave environment and landscape over the long term, relying on plant and animal resources when the wider surrounding landscapes dried.

The ecological setting of Panga ya Saidi is consistent with increasing evidence that Homo sapiens could adapt to a variety of environments as they moved across Africa and Eurasia, suggesting that flexibility may be the hallmark of our species.

Shipton et al report a 78,000-year-long archeological record from Panga ya Saidi, a cave in the humid coastal forest of Kenya.

Homo sapiens developed a range of survival strategies to live in diverse habitats, including tropical forests, arid zones, coasts, and the cold environments found at higher latitudes.

Technological innovations occur at 67,000 years ago

Carefully prepared stone tool toolkits of the Middle Stone Age occur in deposits dating back to 78,000 years ago, but a distinct shift in technology to the Later Stone Age is shown by the recovery of small artifacts beginning at 67,000 years ago.

The miniaturization of stone tools may reflect changes in hunting practices and behaviors. The Panga ya Saidi sequence after 67,000, however, has a mix of technologies, and no radical break of behavior can be detected at any time, arguing against the cognitive or cultural ‘revolutions’ theorized by some archaeologists.

Moreover, no notable break in human occupation occurs during the Toba volcanic super-eruption of 74,000 years ago, supporting views that the so-called ‘volcanic winter’ did not lead to the near-extinction of human populations, though hints of increased occupation intensity from 60,000 years ago suggest that populations were increasing in size.

Earliest symbolic and cultural items found at Panga ya Saidi cave

The deep archaeological sequence of Panga ya Saidi cave has produced a remarkable new cultural record indicative of cultural complexity over the long term.

Among the recovered items are worked and incised bones, ostrich eggshell beads, marine shell beads, and worked ochre. Panga ya Saidi has produced the oldest bead in Kenya, dating to ~65,000 years ago.

At about 33,000 years ago, beads were most commonly made of shells acquired from the coast. While this demonstrates contact with the coast, there is no evidence for the regular exploitation of marine resources for subsistence purposes.

Ostrich eggshell beads become more common after 25,000 years ago, and after 10,000 years ago, there is again a shift to coastal shell use.

In the layers dating to between ~48,000 to 25,000 years ago, carved bone, carved tusk, a decorated bone tube, a small bone point, and modified pieces of ochre were found. Though indicative of behavioral complexity and symbolism, their intermittent appearance in the cave sequence argues against a model for a behavioral or cognitive revolution at any specific point in time.

Project Principal Investigator and Director of the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History Dr. Nicole Boivin states, “The East African coastal hinterland and its forests and have been long considered to be marginal to human evolution so the discovery of Panga ya Saidi cave will certainly change archaeologists’ views and perceptions.”

Group Leader of the Stable Isotopes Lab Dr. Patrick Roberts adds, “Occupation in a tropical forest-grassland environment adds to our knowledge that our species lived in a variety of habitats in Africa.”

“The finds at Panga ya Saidi undermine hypotheses about the use of coasts as a kind of ‘superhighway’ that channeled migrating humans out of Africa, and around the Indian Ocean rim,” observes Professor Michael Petraglia.