Category Archives: ASIA

Tomb of Duke Jing of Qi and his 600 Sacrificial Horses found by Archaeologists

Tomb of Duke Jing of Qi and his 600 Sacrificial Horses found by Archaeologists

A surprising find was made in China in 1964: a tomb holding the bodies of hundreds of horses, perfectly organised in rows. Such a complex burial and large sacrifice clearly indicated that the tomb belonged to a person who held a high place in society.

It was soon found that the tomb belonged to Duke Jing of Qi and that the horse remains were, sadly, a sacrifice made in his honour.

Now excavations have resumed at the ancient sacrificial pit and archaeologists are hoping to learn more secrets about the burial, history, and scale of the army in the pre-Qin period.

Duke Jing, Son of a Concubine

From 547 to 490 BC the State of Qi was ruled by Duke Jing of Qi. Duke Jing was given the name Lü Chujiu at birth, and his ancestral name was Jiang. Duke Jing was a title he earned after his death.

The Duke was born to a concubine of Duke Ling of Qi and had an older half-brother named Duke Zhuang. Their father died in 554 BC and was succeeded by Duke Zhuang.

Cui Zhu, a powerful minister, supported Duke Zhuang until Duke Zhuang had an affair with Cui Zhu’s wife. As a result, Chi Zhu killed Duke Zhuang in 548 BC. Upon his brother’s death, Duke Jing took to the throne. With Duke Jing on the throne, Cui Zhu and nobleman Qing Feng took control of the state as co-prime ministers.

After much turmoil in the State of Qi caused by unrest between Cui Zhi and Qing Feng, Duke Jing appointed Yan Ying as prime minister, and thus began a period of peace and prosperity for the State of Qi.

Artist’s depiction of Duke Jing of Qi with Confucius

Duke’s Death Leads to Coup

Duke Jing was married to Princess Yan Ji from the State of Yan. Their son became the crown prince of Qi, although he died during Duke Jing’s reign. Duke Jing had at least five other grown sons – possibly more – but he chose his youngest son, Prince Tu, as the new crown prince.

Prince Tu was born to a mother of low status, and he was still a young boy when named crown prince. To ensure his support, Duke Jing ordered the ministers of the Guo and Gao clans to support Prince Tu.

The Duke’s other sons were exiled to the remote city of Lai. Soon thereafter, Duke Jing died, in 490 BC. Although Prince Tu was installed on the throne, several clans staged a coup d’etat, and Duke Jing’s son Prince Yangsheng was brought back to take over the throne. He killed Prince Tu and became known as  Duke Dao of Qi.

The Sacrificial Horse Pit of Jing’s Tomb

Duke Jing of Qi was buried at Yatou in Linzi District of Zibo, Shandong Province. On the northern side of the tomb, archaeologists discovered the sacrificial burial of 145 horses in a pit measuring 215 meters long and surrounding three sides of the tomb.

Tomb of Duke Jing of Qi and his 600 Sacrificial Horses found by Archaeologists
The Tomb of Duke Jing of Qi and his 600 Horses

Several years later, another 106 horse skeletons were found at the tomb, raising the total to 251. The horses are believed to have been young, between 5 – 7 years old when sacrificed.

The horses are believed to have been given alcohol until they became unconscious, and then struck upon the head.

Excavations were halted in 2003 due to inadequate preparations, but archaeologists at the time estimated that there may be up to 600 more horses buried in Duke Jing’s honour, along with 30 dogs, two pigs, and six other domesticated animals. While other sacrificial horse remains have been discovered in China, this is by far the largest.

The perimeter of horses indicates the horses found in the area excavated. However, archaeologists estimated there are many more to be found, totalling around 600

New Excavations Launched

After a 16-year pause, excavations at the tomb of Duke Jing have now resumed and experts will finally be able to confirm the number of horses buried there. 

Xinhua News Agency revealed that over 3,000 cultural relics were unearthed during the initial excavations, and more are expected to be found over the next 8 months as archaeologists resume explorations. 

The site of the Tomb of Duke Jing of Qi now houses a museum and is a National Historical and Cultural Site. It is under consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The horse remains are an incredible find, as it is difficult to imagine the complexities of a sacrifice of such a large magnitude. According to historical records, Duke Jing was infatuated with horses, which shows that this sacrifice was made as a gesture of great honour towards the fallen king.

World’s oldest pyramid is hidden in an Indonesian mountain, claimed scientists

World’s oldest pyramid is hidden in an Indonesian mountain, claimed scientists

An immense structure like a pyramid in Indonesia, which could be remains of an ancient temple that hid for thousands of years underground. At the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), scientists provided proof of the extraordinary structure.

Located atop Mount Padang in West Java, the structure is topped by an archaeological site that holds rows of ancient stone pillars.

Situated at top of Mount Padang in western Java, the building is surrounded by an archaeological site, discovered at the beginning of the 19th century, with rows of ancient stone pillars. But the sloping “hill” underneath isn’t part of the natural, rocky landscape; it was crafted by human hands, scientists discovered.

“What is previously seen as just surface building, it’s going down—and it’s a huge structure,” said Andang Bachtiar, an independent geologist from Indonesia who supervised core drilling and soil analysis for the project.

Though the buried structure may superficially resemble a pyramid, it differs from similar pyramids built by the Mayans, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, lead project researcher and a senior scientist with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, told Live Science.

While Mayan pyramids tend to be symmetrical, this structure is elongated, with what appears to be a half-circle in the front.

“It’s a unique temple,” Natawidjaja said.

He and his colleagues suspected that the exposed megalith might be more than it appeared because some partly exposed features in the existing archaeological site didn’t quite match the standing stones. The “peculiar” shape of the hill also stood out from the landscape, he said.

“It’s not like the surrounding topography, which is very much eroded. This looks very young. It looked artificial to us,” Natawidjaja explained.

Using an array of techniques to peer underground—including ground-penetrating radar surveys, X-ray tomography, 2D and 3D imaging, core drilling, and excavations—the researchers gradually uncovered several layers of a sizable structure.

It spread over an area of around 15 hectares (150,000 square meters) and had been built up over millennia, with layers representing different periods.

At the very top were pillars of basalt rocks framing step terraces, with other arrangements of rock columns “forming walls, paths, and spaces,” the scientists reported at AGU. They estimated this layer to be about 3,000 to 3,500 years old.

Underneath the surface, to a depth of about 10 feet (3 m), was the second layer of similar rock columns, thought to be 7,500 to 8,300 years old.

And a third layer, extending 49 feet (15 m) below the surface, is more than 9,000 years old; it could even date to 28,000 years ago, according to the researchers. Their surveys also detected multiple chambers underground, Natawidjaja added.

Today, local people still use the exposed site at the top of the structure as a sacred destination for prayer and meditation, and this could also be how it was used thousands of years ago, Natawidjaja said.

8,000-year-old stone tools found in Arabia were made using the same technique first created by Native Americans 13,000 years ago

8,000-year-old stone tools found in Arabia were made using the same technique first created by Native Americans 13,000 years ago

The fluted point is created by a flintknapper removing a flake from the base or tip of a spear point. It is generally done on both sides, but there are some cases wherein only one side of the point is fluted.

Fluted point stone tools are well-identified throughout the Americas, extending from the Arctic to Patagonia. But the recent discovery of 8,000-year-old fluted points in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, which included Yemen, Oman, and United Arab Emirates, indicates that the Early Holocene people in that region made tools using the fluting method.

Across other countries, such as in eastern and northern Africa, there has been no record of fluted point stone tools recorded. That means that the Arabian fluting method could be a local innovation of southern Arabian people originating from the central region of the peninsula’s southern extremity.

Various types of North and South American fluted points.

8,000-Year-Old Fluted Stone Tools in the Arabian Peninsula

A study published in the journal PLOS One revealed that archaeologists recently discovered some 8,000-year-old fluted point stones on the Arabian Peninsula. It is the same technology that was developed by Native Americans about 13,000 years ago.

8,000-year-old stone tools found in Arabia were made using the same technique first created by Native Americans 13,000 years ago
Pictured, atone fluted points dating back 8,000 years ago which were discovered on archaeological sites in Manayzah, Yemen and Ad-Dahariz, Oman. Until now, the prehistoric technique of fluting had been uncovered only on 13,000 year-old Native American sites

At first, researchers suspected that the stone tools they discovered bear some familiarity about them. The scientists then took note of the flute-like grooves along the sides of the stone points.

They said that the tools examined for the study were found in Ad-Dahariz in Oman and Manayzah in Yemen.

Lead researcher Remy Crassard, the head for archaeology in the French Center for Archaeology and Social Sciences, said that they recognized the technique used in making those stone tools as probably the most famous prehistoric techniques that Native Americans once used.

It took the researchers some time to recognize the technique but more time in understanding how fluting could be present in the Arabian Peninsula.

Fluting is a specific technique that involves the extraction of an elongated flake along the length of a projectile point, leaving a distinctive groove or depression at the base of the spearhead or arrowhead (pictured)

How Did Fluted Point Stone Tools Arrive in Arabia?

For almost a hundred years, archaeologists have discovered evidence of fluted point stone tools at Native American sites that dates back between 10,000 to 13,000 years old.

The fluted stone points found in the Americas are characterized by markings along with the spear points’ bases and blades. But the ones found in Arabia have fluted markings closer to the tips of the stone points.

Both Native Americans and Arabians used hafting to fix blades and points to handles and arrows more securely, but they do so for different purposes.

In Arabia, it was used to create a flat zone in the back of the points and most likely to show ‘bravado’ or display their skills, Crassard said.

Moreover, the authors said that the result of cultural exchange could not have brought the technologies as the two stone fluted points are separated by too much time and space. They think that the latest discovery could be an example of cultural convergence.

Crassard noted that many examples of cultural divergence are recorded in diverse human periods in human history.

“For example, polished stone axes are known from the Western European Neolithic, the Mayan culture of Central America and the 19-20th century tribes of Indonesia,” Crassard said.

According to archaeologists, they were all never connected in time and space, but the objects they made during their time were found to be very similar.

China’s Atlantis: Shi Cheng an Ancient Underwater City in China

China’s Atlantis: Shi Cheng an Ancient Underwater City in China

Shi Cheng, Chun’an County, Zhejiang, China. An ancient city, established about 1300 years ago, now lies at the 26-40 m depth underwater. The city and the valley were deliberately flooded in 1959 in order to create an artificial lake and hydroelectric power station. Now it could be a unique paradise for divers.

A maze of white temples, memorial arches, paved roads, and houses… hidden 130 feet underwater: this is China’s real-life Atlantis.

The so-called Lion City, tucked in a lake between the Five Lion Mountain, was once Shi Cheng – the centre of politics and economics in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

But in 1959, the Chinese government decided a new hydroelectric power station was required – so built a man-made lake.

Erecting a dam, the historical metropolis was slowly filled with water until it was completely submerged by the turquoise-blue mass now referred to as Qiandao Lake.

China's Atlantis: Shi Cheng an Ancient Underwater City in China
Metropolis: Shi Cheng, dubbed Lion City after the Lion Mountains that surround it, has lain hidden under 131 feet of water since 1959 to generate hydroelectric power
Classical: The structures in Shi Cheng were built 1,300 years ago featuring traditional Chinese statues. Away from the wind and sun, it has remained intact

Depending on where on the lake bottom it is, the city is between 85 and 131 feet underwater.

And it lay forgotten for 53 years.

The Greek philosopher Plato wrote about Atlantis some 2,600 years ago, describing it as ‘an island situated in front of the straits called the Pillars of Hercules.’ 

Carvings: Visitors will be able to see the traditional engravings first-hand when guided by Qiu Feng and her team

He said the island he called Atlantis ‘in a single day and night… disappeared into the depths of the sea.’

Searches continue across the Mediterranean, particularly around Gibraltar, to find the original Atlantis.

But China’s manmade version will soon be a renowned attraction. Qiu Feng, a local tourism official, has now suggested using Shi Cheng as a destination for diving clubs.

A team was dispatched to explore the city before tours are designed.

Qui said: ‘We were lucky. As soon as we dived into the lake, we found the outside wall of the town and even picked up a brick to prove it.’

Protected from wind, rain, and sun, the entire city has been branded a ‘time capsule’ as almost every structure remains completely intact, including wooden beams and stairs.

Ancient Greek Inscription Unearthed in Iraq

Ancient Greek Inscription Unearthed in Iraq

The Department of Antiquities in Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province announced on Monday the discovery of an ancient artefact that dates back over 2,000 years.

The artifact was found in an ancient hillside 10 kilometers west of Duhok province.

Kurdistan 24 reports that an engraved tablet has been unearthed in northern Kurdistan’s Duhok province. “After careful study, we found out that the stone tablet is engraved with Hellenistic script and dates back to 165 B.C.

Experts in Duhok found the item back in March but only estimated that its age recently.

The Hellenistic era is a period in history that followed the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, who conquered much of the Middle East and spread Greek influence.

Ahmed explained that the engravings had been translated into Kurdish by researchers, who also concluded that the inscriptions refer specifically to Demetrius— a Hellenistic-era ruler of the region around the second century B.C.

The writing makes references to the period that followed the coming of Alexander the Great, he noted.

“This discovery will pave the way for researchers to conduct further archaeological investigations in the foreseeable future [in the Kurdistan Region],” said Ahmed.

The research findings will be published in academic journals, according to the museum official.

Ahmed’s statement comes after the Kurdistan Region Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism on Monday announced it had unearthed a number of historic sites in Erbil province.

The 2,500-Year-old ancient Greek city, now about one-third of the city is underwater

The 2,500-Year-old ancient Greek city, now about one-third of the city is underwater

The Foundation Oleg Deripaska Volnoe Delo and the Russian Academy of Archaeology uncovered parts of marble stele with inscriptions of ancient Persian King Darius I.

Discovered in the ancient town of Phanagoria, in the southern area of Krasnodar, the stele is assessed to date back to the first half of the 5th century B.C. Archaeologists doing excavations in the area say the find has good chances of becoming a world sensation.

The stele with a signature in the name of Persian King Darius I was unearthed in the centre of Phanagoria, the remains of an ancient Greek city near Crimea and the Black Sea during an archaeological expedition that has been supported by Volnoe Delo Foundation since 2004.

During excavations in Phanagoria was discovered foundations of the building, covering an area of 12 square meters. It is the building and call the temple that once stood on the site. In addition, there was discovered a temple, archaeologists were able to detect more than 20 burial complexes and the crypt, which is attributed to the Roman times. In this crypt were buried several generations, so we tell ourselves archaeologists.

The decoded inscriptions on the stele state someone made them in the name of the Persian King Darius I who lived from 550-486 B.C. The stele has an inscription in the ancient Persian language. The approximate assessment dates the find to the first half of the 5th century B.C.

The text contains a word unregistered before and roughly interpreted as the place named Miletus, one of the biggest cities in Ionia, a region known as Asia Minor now. Miletus stood at the head of the so-called Ionian uprising of Greek city-states against Darius I. It was suppressed in 494 B.C.

Fragments of a building dated 5th century with Roman holes

Archaeologists believe the king put up a marble stele in the city after his victory over the Greeks. The monument had a text on it, reporting on the king’s triumph. Later on, a fragment of the overturned and broken stele got to Phanagoria – quite possibly, as ballast on a ship that called into the Phanagoria port, since there is no natural stone of the kind on the Taman peninsula.

At present, the stele is undergoing scrutiny at the restoration laboratory of the Phanagoria Research and Cultural Center. The find has good chances of becoming a world sensation.

Darius I, a Persian ruler from the Achaemenian dynasty considerably expanded the territory of his country with the aid of wars against the Getae, Thrace, Lemnos, Imbros, and Macedonia. He was buried in the mausoleum built on the cliffs at Naqsh-e Rustam near Persepolis on his order and decorated with sculptures.

Apart from the stele, the archaeologists have found in the acropolis the remainders of ancient fortress walls, which in itself is an important even in classical archaeology.

The remains of the wall of a small structure are seen in the foreground.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, Doctor of historical sciences and the head of the Phanagorian expedition:

“The inscription on the stele made in the name of King Darius I is evidently devoted to the crushing of the Ionian revolt. The discovery places Phanagoria in the context of one of the most important events of ancient history, which had far-reaching consequences for the Greeks as well as the Persians, and makes it possible to trace the connections of this colony with other parts of the Greek world and analyze its significance in advancing Hellenistic civilization on the Black Sea coast”

Volnoe Delo Foundation, one of Russia’s biggest privately-held charity funds run by a businessman and industrialist Oleg Deripaska, has supported research activities in the 2550-year-old city of Phanagoria since 2004. The Foundation has allocated over $10 million to Phanagoria fieldwork over the past 15 years.

Now Phanagoria is one of the best-equipped archaeological expeditions in Russia with its own scientific and cultural centre, up-to-date equipment for above-ground and underwater excavation and diverse team of specialists involved in the fieldwork.

Phanagoria archaeological expedition.

Among the recent discoveries made at Phanagoria are remains of a palace of Mithradates VI dated the 1st century B.C., an ancient naval ram used by the army of Mithradates VI, a tomb with a stepped ceiling, the oldest temple unearthed on the Russian territory dating back to the 5th century B.C. and a number of submerged objects e.g. ancient city’s streets covered with sand, Phanagoria’s port structures, ship debris.

Excavation works cover several areas that include the 2,500-square-metre acropolis at the centre of the ancient city, the eastern necropolis, an ancient cemetery that served as a burial place from the very founding of the city, and a submerged part of the city. What makes the expedition unique is the mix of diversified specialists working together.

Apart from archaeologists and historians, there are anthropologists, soil scientists, paleozoologists, numismatists and other researchers. A complex approach to the study of Phanagoria’s cultural relics helps to restore the residents’ way of living, religious beliefs, economic cooperation, as well as their roles in military conflicts.

About Phanagoria

Phanagoria is one of the main antiquity monuments on Russian soil. Founded in the mid-sixth century B.C. by Greek colonists, the city has long been one of the two capitals of the Bosporan Kingdom, an ancient state located in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula.

Phanagoria was the major economic and cultural centre of the Black Sea region, one of the biggest Greek cities, the first capital of Great Bulgaria, one of the main cities of Khazar Kaganate. It is also one of the ancient centres of Christianity.

Saint Andrew was believed to preach in Phanagoria. The city boasts the largest Jewish community in the Black Sea region: the first synagogue in Russia was built in Phanagoria in 16th century A.D.

In the 9-10th centuries, the residents abandoned the city for reasons still unknown. Phanagoria is surrounded by Russia’s largest necropolis covering an area of over 300 hectares. The total volume of the cultural layers is 2.5 million cubic meters of soil; the layer’s depth is up to seven meters. No single building has been erected in the city since ancient times, which has helped preserve the ruins and the historical artefacts.

Regular archaeological expeditions have been held in Phanagoria since the late 1930s. As of now, only two per cent of the city’s territory has been studied. Phanagoria is located in the Temryuksky District in the Krasnodar region.

39,000-Year-old Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear found in Arctic Russia

39,000 Year Old Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear found in Arctic Russia

Scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, Russia, announced the discovery of a well-preserved cave bear on the New Siberian island of Bolshyoy Lyakhovsky, Anna Liesowska reports for the Siberian Times.

The adult bear lived its life sometime in the last Ice Age, at the same time as large animals like woolly mammoths, mastodons and sabre-toothed tigers.

When the bear died, permafrost preserved its soft tissues, organs and fur, making it the best-preserved example of a cave bear found yet.

This cave bear probably lived between 22,000 and 39,500 years ago, and researchers hope to get a better estimate with the closer study.

Previously scientists only had been able to discover the bones of cave bears that became extinct 15,000 years ago.

Scientists of the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, the premier centre for research into woolly mammoths and other prehistoric species, hailed the find as groundbreaking.

In a statement issued by the university, researcher Lena Grigorieva emphasized that “this is the first and only find of its kind — a whole bear carcass with soft tissues.”

“It is completely preserved, with all internal organs in place, including even its nose,” Grigorieva said. “This find is of great importance for the whole world.”

A preliminary analysis indicated that the adult bear lived 22,000 to 39,500 years ago.

“It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear,” the university quoted researcher Maxim Cheprasov as saying.

The bear carcass was found by reindeer herders on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island. It is the largest of the Lyakhovsky Islands, which are part of the New Siberian Islands archipelago that lies between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea.

At about the same time, a well-preserved carcass of a cave bear cub has also been found in another area in Yakutia’s mainland, the university said. It didn’t describe its condition in detail but noted that scientists are hopeful of obtaining its DNA.

Recent years have seen major discoveries of mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies and cave lion cubs as the permafrost melts across vast areas in Russia’s region of Siberia.

Archaeological proof for 1,700 YEAROLD Chemical fighting

Archaeological proof for 1,700 YearOld Chemical fighting

Simon James presented CSI-style claims that approximately 20 Roman soldiers discovered in the mine in the town of Dura-Europos in Syria had died, not because of a sword or a spear, but because of asphyxia, said at the conference of the Archeological Institute of America.

The ancient site of Dura-Europos on the Euphrates River in Syria.

The Romans who set up a large garrison conquered Dura-Europos on the Euphrates. The city was vigorously attacked by an army from the powerful new Sasanian Persian Empire around 256 AD.

The dramatic story is told entirely from archaeological remains; no ancient text describes it. Excavations during the 1920s-30s, renewed in recent years, have resulted in spectacular and gruesome discoveries.

Fortifications at Dura-Europos, Syria

The Sasanians used the full range of ancient siege techniques to break into the city, including mining operations to breach the walls. Roman defenders responded with ‘counter-mines’ to thwart the attackers.

In one of these narrow, low galleries, a pile of bodies, representing about twenty Roman soldiers still with their arms, was found in the 1930s.

While also conducting new fieldwork at the site, James has recently reappraised this coldest of cold-case ‘crime scenes’, in an attempt to understand exactly how these Romans died, and came to be lying where they were found.

Dr James, Reader in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, said: “It is evident that, when mine and countermine met, the Romans lost the ensuing struggle.

Careful analysis of the disposition of the corpses shows they had been stacked at the mouth of the countermine by the Persians, using their victims to create a wall of bodies and shields, keeping Roman counterattack at bay while they set fire to the countermine, collapsing it, allowing the Persians to resume sapping the walls.

This explains why the bodies where they were found. But how did they die? For the Persians to kill twenty men in a space less than 2m high or wide, and about 11m long, required superhuman combat powers—or something more insidious.”

Finds from the Roman tunnel revealed that the Persians used bitumen and sulphur crystals to get it burning. These provided the vital clue. When ignited, such materials give off dense clouds of choking gases.

“The Persians will have heard the Romans tunnelling,” says James, “and prepared a nasty surprise for them. I think the Sasanians placed braziers and bellows in their gallery, and when the Romans broke through, added the chemicals and pumped choking clouds into the Roman tunnel.

The Roman assault party were unconscious in seconds, dead in minutes. Use of such smoke generators in siege-mines is actually mentioned in classical texts, and it is clear from the archaeological evidence at Dura that the Sasanian Persians were as knowledgeable in siege warfare as the Romans; they surely knew of this grim tactic.”

Ironically, this Persian mine failed to bring the walls down, but it is clear that the Sasanians somehow broke into the city. James recently excavated a ‘machine-gun belt’, a row of catapult bolts, ready to use by the wall of the Roman camp inside the city, representing the last stand of the garrison during the final street fighting.

The defenders and inhabitants were slaughtered or deported to Persia, the city abandoned forever, leaving its gruesome secrets undisturbed until modern archaeological research began to reveal them.

Illustration showing the proposed use of toxic gas at Dura-Europos.