Category Archives: ASIA

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.

Gates of Biblical City Unearthed- Site of Jesus Miracle of feeding 5,000

Gates of Biblical City Unearthed- Site of Jesus Miracle of feeding 5,000

In the last few weeks, local officials in northern Golan Heights in Israel announced a significant discovery by archaeologists. The entrance gate to the great fortified city,  just north of the Sea of Galilee has been excavated, leading some to claim it is additional evidence supporting the site being Bethsaida, the city of three of Jesus’ disciples and associated with his famous miracle of the loaves and fishes. The early phase of the city may also have an intriguing connexion to the Bible’s King David, who reigned around 1000 BC.

A model of the city gate of Zer under construction. Courtesy of The International Studies and Programs

The remains of the entrance gate, standing about 10 feet high, were unearthed at a place called et-Tell by the Bethsaida Excavations Project, which just wrapped up its 2018 season. The director is Professor Rami Arav from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, who has excavated the site for nearly 30 years.

“It is the largest and the best preserved city gate [in Israel],” Arav told the Times of Israel. “Likewise, this year’s excavation provides evidence that Bethsaida, an Aramean settlement, houses one of the earliest towers incorporated in city walls in Israel,” he said.

“In the entire archaeology of the Land of Israel from 10-8th century BCE, there are no towers on city walls. Israelites did not have this feature. This is the first example of towers surrounding a city in Israel,” Arav added. This “unusual feature” of guard towers were placed every 20 meters around the city wall.

The gate is believed by archaeologists to have been used from the 11th century BC down to about 920 BC. As reported in the Jerusalem Post, Professor Arav stated, “There are not many gates in this country from this period. Bethsaida was the name of the city during the Second Temple period [during the time of Jesus], but during the First Temple period it was the city of Zer.” Pointing to Joshua 19:35, he continued, “The fortified towns were Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Kinnereth.”

These were the fortified cities in land allotted to the tribe of Naphtali after the conquest of Canaan. If this was the site of Zer, there should be even older remains, under the current dig levels, from the period of Israel’s conquest of Canaan.

The inner gate floor from the 11th-10th century BC

The city of Zer (or “Tzer”) was also possibly the historical capital of Geshur, which at the time of King David was an independent Aramean kingdom just northeast of Israel.

The area may have been referenced in the famous Tel Amarna letters between Pharaoh Akhenaten and city leaders in Canaan. The Bible says one of David’s wives was Maacah the daughter of the king of Geshur, apparently a politically-driven marriage to unify the two kingdoms.

The third [son of David], Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur…

 – 1 Chronicles 3:2 (ESV)

The Times of Israel points out that Maacah (or “Maachah”) was the mother of Absalom, who fled to his mother’s homeland of Geshur after murdering his half-brother (2 Samuel 13:37-38). The close ties between the two kingdoms were renewed when Absalom’s daughter, also named Maacah, married Solomon’s son Rehoboam, king of Judah (1 Kings 14:31-15:2). These facts cause Arav to speculate that King David may have walked through this very gate to claim his bride. He amusingly recounted his impression of the royal courtship in the Time articles:

‘King David entered the gate to meet the king of Geshur to ask for the hand of his daughter. Maachah looked at him like a “hillbilly” mountain guy, but for the sake of inclusion into the Bible, went through with it. “So we’re digging the gate where David entered,” said Arav, laughing.’

Judea Capta coin with the head of Domitian found at Bethsaida, dated to AD 85.

In past seasons, evidence from many different periods was found, evidence that this site had significance for millennia. Among the finds was a decorated pottery shard from 300 BC showing the birth of the Greek goddess Athena from the head of her father Zeus. Also found was a rare Roman coin issued in AD 85 by Agrippa II with the phrase “Judea Capta” (or “Judea is captive”), commemorating the crushing of the Jewish rebels and their temple in AD 70.

This year, archaeologists from 20 international institutions joined Arav in the dig sponsored by the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. The size of the site confirms the Bible’s account of the significance of Geshur at the time of David.

The Connection to Jesus

The recent finds also join other archaeological evidence in the debate over whether this really was the site of Bethsaida at the time of Jesus. For nearly thirty years, et-Tell has been designated by Israel as Bethsaida, one of the holiest sites to Christians, but for that entire time, this has long been a disputed issue.

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

 – John 1:44 (ESV)

Bethsaida’s importance in the Gospels can be seen in that it is the third most referenced city after Jerusalem and Capernaum. The Book of John mentions that Bethsaida had been home to the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip. Other passages make it clear that after his marriage, Peter had moved his family into the house of his mother-in-law in nearby Capernaum.

The majority of Jesus’ Galilean ministry took place in the area around Bethsaida, Capernaum and Chorazin – three cities within three miles of each other near the northeast coast of the Sea of Galilee. Because of confusing descriptions in the Gospel accounts, some scholars have proposed that there were two cities named Bethsaida on the shores of Galilee.

An approximate map of Bethsaida near the northern banks of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.

The miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 men plus women and children from five loaves and two fish is said by the Gospel of Luke to have taken place in a wilderness area near the town of Bethsaida.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes – James Tissot between 1886-1894

On their return, the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing… And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. 

– Luke 9:10-11, 16-17 (ESV)

This miracle, along with many others done in the area (including the healing of a blind man in Mark 8:22), is the reason behind Jesus’ stern rebuke for the unbelief of the local population in the chapter following the account of the miraculous feeding.

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

 – Luke 10:13 (ESV)

The important place these events have in the Gospels draws throngs of Christians to sites in this area every year. Avi Liberman, director of the Jordan Park in which Bethsaida is located, said, “The staff at the Jordan Park and the Golan Tourism are happy for the tens of thousands of visitors who visit the park every day. The wonderful park is also an impressive archaeological site. I [am] amazed each time by the arrival of thousands of evangelical visitors to Bethsaida. I am confident that the latest discoveries will bring more visitors to the park from around the world and from Israel” reported the Jerusalem Post.

4,000 Years old Lost Capital of the Fabled Kingdom, Found in Syria

4,000 Years old Lost Capital of the Fabled Kingdom, Found in Syria

Ancient city of Urkesh, home to the Hurrian culture.

One of the most ancient cities known to exist on earth is Urkesh. Its exact location was a mystery until the 1990s when, after ten years of painstaking excavations, archaeologists identified Tel Mozan in northern Syria near the borders of Turkey and Iran as Urkesh.

The capital city of the Hurrians, it flourished between 4,000 and 1,300 BCE. It initially became powerful because of its location at the intersection of major trade routes as well as its control of valuable copper deposits.

Ruins of monumental public buildings, including a large temple and a palace, have been found. The architecture is not only mud-brick construction but also rare stone structures.

Intact stone stairway at Urkesh.

Archaeologists have discovered remains of an open plaza, a monumental flight of stairs, and a deep underground shaft related to religious rituals known as the “Passage to the Netherworld.”

Urkesh dominated the ancient skyline at the top of a built-up terrace that rivaled nearby mountains.

Lion and stone tablet inscribed with Hurrian language.

Very little was known about the Hurrians before Urkesh was positively identified. There may not have been many Hurrian cities in what is present-day southern Syria, but their civilization influenced the entire Middle East.

They were a major influence on Mesopotamia to the south and cultures such as the Hittites as cities were first developing in that region.

Unlike the centralized political structures of ancient Assyria and Egypt, Hurrian urban culture seems to have been more feudal in the organization, possibly limiting the development of large palace or temple complexes.

The unique Hurrian language is unlike any other known ancient language. Historians believe that the speakers of this language originally came from the Armenian Highlands and spread over southeast Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia at the beginning of the second millennium BCE.

Hurrian incense container.

Accomplished ceramists, Hurrian pottery was highly valued in distant Egypt. Khabur ware and Nuzi ware are two types of wheel-made pottery used by the Hurrians.

Khabur ware is characterized by reddish painted lines with a geometric triangular pattern and dots, while Nuzi ware has very distinctive forms, and are painted in brown or black.

Also known for achievements in metallurgy, Hurrians traded copper south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia.

The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from Hurrian-dominated countries in the Anatolian highland. Among the few surviving examples of Hurrian metalwork, some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.

Sadly, the Syrian civil war has disrupted the fascinating archaeological activities at Urkesh and endangered future discoveries about the Hurrian culture. The site lies close to the Turkish border and is now protected by Kurdish troops and a team of local workers.

4,000 year-old bakery with paved floor and “beehive” oven.

The Qasr Al-Farid, The Lonely Castle Of The Nabataeans

The Qasr Al-Farid, The Lonely Castle Of The Nabataeans

Among the Dozens of ruins located in the archaeological playground of Mada’in Saleh, one literally stands alone. Carved into a massive boulder, Qasr al-Farid, or “The Lonely Castle,” is a stunning ancient structure that rivals the majesty of any carved architecture in the world.

Created around the 1st century CE, the tall facade was never actually finished. The Nabateans had a unique construction technique that saw their tombs being chiselled right out of the rock from the top down.

Such is the case with Qasr al-Farid, although the monument appears to never have been completed, so the craftsmanship and precision of work slowly deteriorate closer to the base of the structure.

The Nabataeans were skilled craftsmen who carved their monuments out of solid roc

One of the most famous monuments of the Madain Saleh archaeological site, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Called the “lonely castle”, Qasr Al-Farid is nevertheless a tomb. It was carved out of a rock that appeared out of nowhere about 2,000 years ago.

A construction left in suspense, suggested by the contrast between a facade meticulously carved with columns and crowns, and the other part of the rock still intact.

There seems to be no evidence of burial inside. With its unfinished taste and unusual location, the tomb of Qasr Al-Farid cultivates its mystery.

A tune from Petra to Madain Saleh

Between Qasr Al-Farid and the city of Petra, the resemblance is striking. And for good reason, both sites are from the Nabataean civilization.

The same meticulous work on the rock can be seen, although the Saudi tomb was carved from a block of stone stranded in the desert and not from a gigantic cliff.

The location of the Qasr Al-Farid tomb may suggest that it is completely independent. However, it is part of the vast archaeological site of Madain Saleh. Long unknown, the latter was only explored at the beginning of the 20th century, when a Franco-Saudi mission was commissioned to carry out excavation work.

Over 500 hectares, more than 100 tombs – remains of the Nabataean city of Hegra – have been discovered. In 2008, the site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A must if you are going to Saudi Arabia!

300 Million Year Old Machinery Found in Russia

300 Million-Year-Old Machinery Found In Russia, Experts Say Aluminum Gear Not The Result Of Natural Forces, May Be Extraterrestrial

The Voice of Russia and other Russian sources are reporting that a 300 million-year-old piece of aluminum machinery has been found in Vladivostok. Experts say a gear rail appears to be manufactured and not the result of natural forces. 

According to Yulia Zamanskaya, when a resident of Vladivostok was lighting the fire during a cold winter evening, he found a rail-shaped metal detail which was pressed in one of the pieces of coal that the man used to heat his home. Mesmerized by his discovery, the responsible citizen decided to seek help from the scientists of the Primorye region. After the metal object was studied by the leading experts the man was shocked to learn about the assumed age of his discovery.

The metal detail was supposedly 300 million years old and yet the scientists suggest that it was not created by nature but was rather manufactured by someone. The question of who might have made an aluminum gear in the dawn of time remains unanswered.

The find was very much like a toothed metal rail, created artificially. It was like parts are often used in microscopes, various technical and electronic devices say writer Natalia Ostrowski at KP UA Daily. 

Nowadays, finding a strange artifact in coal is a relatively frequent occurrence. The first discovery of this sort was made in 1851 when the workers in one of the Massachusetts mines extracted a zinc silver-incrusted vase from a block of unmined coal which dated all the way back to the Cambrian era which was approximately 500 million years ago.

Sixty one years later, American scientists from Oklahoma discovered an iron pot which was pressed into a piece of coal aged 312 million years old. Then, in 1974, an aluminum assembly part of unknown origin was found in a sandstone quarry in Romania.

Reminiscent of a hammer or a support leg of a spacecraft “Apollo”, the piece dated back to the Jurassic era and could not have been manufactured by a human. All of these discoveries not only puzzled the experts but also undermined the most fundamental doctrines of modern science.

The metal detail which was recently found by Vladivostok resident is yet another discovery which perplexed the scientists. The coal in which the metal object was pressed was delivered to Primorye from Chernogorodskiy mines of Khakasia region. Knowing that the coal deposits of this region date 300 million years back, Russian experts inferred that the metal detail found in these deposits must be an age-mate of the coal.

Another question that interests Russian scientists is whether the aluminum alloy is of Earthly origin. It is known from the study of meteorites that there exists extra-terrestrial aluminum-26 which subsequently breaks down to magnesium-26. The presence of 2 percent of magnesium in the alloy might well point to the alien origin of the aluminum detail. It could also be evidence of some past, unknown civilization on Earth. Nonetheless, further testing is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

It is the first such finding in coal made in Russia, according to anomaly researcher and biologist Valery Brier, who took microscopic samples of the aluminum for testing.  Valery Brier performed X-ray diffraction analysis of the metal. It showed very pure aluminum with microimpurities of magnesium of only 2 – 4 percent.

The find is very much like a toothed metal rail, created artificially. It was like parts that are often used in microscopes, as well as various technical and electronic devices.

While exploring core samples (rock samples) that were raised from a 9-meter depth during the drilling of the seabed to support the bridge on a Russian island near Cape Nazimova,  strange metal alloys were discovered that were “preserved” in the prehistoric sandstone (age – 240 million years old).  

The  pieces of special alloys had an unusual composition and were clearly not used in the drilling machinery. The alloys, said Brier, were artificial and constructed by intelligent beings.  

Reconstruction of the item found near Cape Nazimova

Not so long ago in Russia a mechanical device was found in volcanic rock which was dated 400 million years before the current era (B.C.E)

It was found on the remote Kamchatka Peninsula, 150 miles from the village of Tigil, by archaeologists at the University of St. Petersburg among found strange fossils. The reliability of the finds has been certified. According to archaeologist Yuri Golubev the find amazed experts as it was some sort of a machine.

The most ancient vase on Earth was discovered in 1851 in Massachusetts when blasting in the quarry. It is a silver-zinc vase inlaid with fine silver in the form of the vine. The age of this vase, according to the rock in which it was found, is 534 million years old

Another strange artefact that was found in coal is the iron pot shown below. It was found in 1912 in Oklahoma in a piece of coal with an estimated age of 312 million years. 

In Romania in 1974, in a sandstone quarry of not less than 1 million years old was found aluminum parts, reminiscent of a hammer or a support leg landing spacecraft “Viking” and “Apollo”.

Smallest Dinosaur ever Found Preserved in 99- million-year-old Piece of Amber

Smallest Dinosaur ever Found Preserved in 99- million-year-old Piece of Amber

The head of a flying dinosaur that is hardly bigger than a bee hummingbird has been discovered in 99-million-year-old amber. The piece of polished amber, just 31mm by 20mm by 8.5mm, was found in Kachin Province of northern Myanmar, an area becoming increasingly well-known for its remarkable amber-encased fossils.

The piece of amber measures only 1.25 inches (31.5 millimeters) in length. The skull is a mere 0.6 inches (11 millimeters).

The amber contains the skull of Oculudentavis khaungraae, a newly described dinosaur and one of the smallest ever discovered. Its tiny stature is forcing paleontologists to rethink the lower limits of body size in birds, and the nearly 100-million-year-old fossil is challenging the current understanding of when and how dinosaur giants shrank into the birds of today.

A Mysterious Transformation

Tiny Oculudentavis may have occupied a unique ecological niche in the ancient world.

The evolutionary transition of dinosaurs to modern birds is one of the most astounding transformations in the history of life: large, bipedal and mostly carnivorous dinosaurs morphed into small, flying birds. Famous discoveries like Archaeopteryx and more recently the fossils from the Jehol Biota in China have given researchers some hints about the process. But finds from this evolutionary phase — which researchers think began about 200 million years ago — are rare.

Paleontologists are far from having a complete picture of the evolution of birds, and even farther from a full inventory of Earth’s ecosystems in the age of dinosaurs. Our research on the tiny Oculudentavis, published in the journal Nature, adds valuable information to the puzzle of when, how, and to what extent dinosaurs shrank.

Clues in Bone

Smallest Dinosaur ever Found Preserved in 99- million-year-old Piece of Amber
This high-resolution scan allowed us to see the intricacies of a bone structure unlike any before seen in birds or dinosaurs.

This high-resolution scan allowed us to see the intricacies of a bone structure unlike any before seen in birds or dinosaurs.

Our team needed to see the minute details of the skull, and we needed to do it without cracking or ruining the specimen – a difficult task with a skull encased in 99-million-year old amber from Myanmar. To do that, we scanned the skull with high-resolution X-rays and created a digital model with very fine anatomical detail. What emerged was a picture of overall bird-like anatomy. But in some interesting ways, Oculudentavis is unlike any bird or dinosaur that has ever been found.

The obvious curiosity of the fossil is its size: Oculudentavis rivaled the smallest bird living today, the bee hummingbird, and likely was no more than 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) from beak to tail. We considered whether the skull possibly belonged to a very young animal, but the extent and pattern of bone growth and the proportional size of the eye pointed to a mature bird.

With a total skull length of just about 0.6 inches (1.5 centimeters), Oculudentavis pushes against what is considered the lower limit of size in birds: the head still had to hold functional eyes, a brain, and jaws. The small size is especially surprising if one considers that Oculudentavis lived during the same time as giant plant-eating dinosaurs like Argentinosaurus.

Small and Specialized

The small size of Oculudentavis is striking, but to a trained eye, there are other extremely unusual features, too.

First of all, the skull seems to be built for strength. The bones show an unusual pattern of fusion and the skull lacks an antorbital fenestra, a small hole often found in front of the eye.

The eyes of Oculudentavis also surprised us. The shape of the bones found within the eye, the scleral ossicles, suggests that it probably had conical eyes with small pupils. This type of eye structure is especially well adapted for moving around in bright light. While daytime activity might be expected for an ancient bird from the age of dinosaurs, the shape of the ossicles is entirely distinct from any other dinosaur and resembles those of modern-day lizards.

Adding to the list of unexpected features, the upper jaw carries at least 23 small teeth. These teeth extend all the way back beneath the eye and are not set in deep pockets, an unusual arrangement for most ancient birds. The large number of teeth and their sharp cutting edges suggest that Oculudentavis was a predator that may have fed on small bugs.

The sum of these traits — a strong skull, good eyesight, and a hunter’s set of teeth — suggests to us that Oculudentavis led a life previously unknown among ancient birds: it was a hummingbird-sized daytime predator.

One of the Earliest and Tiniest Birds?

Placing Oculudentavis in the tree of life is, given its strange anatomy, challenging. Our phylogenetic analysis — the investigation of its relationships to other dinosaurs — identifies Oculudentavis as one of the most ancient birds. Only Archaeopteryx branched off earlier.

Scientists consider the nectar-feeding hummingbirds — which appeared 30 million years ago — the smallest dinosaurs on record. But if our placement of Oculudentavis holds true, the miniaturization of dinosaurs may have peaked far earlier than paleontologists previously thought. In fact, the largest and the smallest dinosaurs may have walked and flown the same earth nearly 100 million years ago.

Our work demonstrates how little scientists know about the little things in the history of life. Scientists’ snapshot of fossil ecosystems in the dinosaur age is incomplete and leaves so many questions unanswered. But paleontologists are eager to take on these questions.

What other tiny species were out there? What was their ecological function? Was Oculudentavis the only visually guided bug hunter? To better understand the evolution of the diversity of life we need more emphasis and recognition of the small.

Amber holds strong potential to fill that gap. Maybe one day a scientist will hold up another piece, and let sunshine reveal a complete Oculudentavis, or even a previously unknown species. More finds in amber will help illuminate the world of the tiny vertebrates in the age of dinosaurs.