Category Archives: ASIA

The 7,000-year-old stone bracelet is oldest ever found in the world

The 7,000-year-old stone bracelet is oldest ever found in the world

A Paleolithic man’s stone bracelet claimed to revolutionize our understanding of early human development. Scientific analysis suggests that the enchanting find is a 65,000 to 70,000 years old. 

It’s the oldest piece of jewelry of its kind in the world that experts believe to be made by an extinct group of early people named Denisovan.

The community is closely related to Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, If confirmed, it would push back the date of its creation by around 30,000 years and show that technology used in its creation was available much earlier than thought. 

While bracelets have been found pre-dating this discovery, Russian experts say this is the oldest known jewellery of its kind made of stone.

Scientists from the universities of Oxford and Wollongong in Australia are due to meet this month with Russian colleagues. The academics will analyze and interpret data from tests on the age of the soil layer in which the bracelet and other artifacts, including a pre-historic needle, were found.

At an exhibition in France this year the green-hued chlorite bracelet, unearthed in a Siberian cave, was listed as 50,000 years old. It was earlier reported as originating from 40,000 years ago and made for an ancient woman by a Paleolithic craftsman. 

But Russian researchers have suggested the jewellery item comes from a time long before early man was believed to have the skills or know-how to make such objects. Maksim Kozlikin, a researcher from the institute of archaeology and ethnography, in Novosibirsk, said: ‘Preliminary results have been received to date stratum 11 where the bracelet was found to 65,000 to 70,000 years.

‘So it all goes towards changing the dating of the finds to more ancient.’ 

Institute director Professor Mikhail Shunkov acknowledged that at 50,000 years old, the bracelet was already ‘a world-level phenomenon’ because its existence challenged the known ‘level of technologies. For example, the bracelet has a hole made by drilling and rasping devices. Our colleagues from Australia and Oxford are coming here in August, we will be discussing the dating then,’ he said, adding that some data was ‘ambiguous’ and required clarification.

Polished zone of intensive contact with some soft organic material. General reconstruction of the view of the bracelet and comparison with the modern bracelet.
The manufacturing technology used in the bracelet is seen as being more typical of a later period, for example, the Neolithic era, which began around 12,000 years ago. This image shows a hole that was drilled in the bracelet with a high-rotation drill
Made of chlorite (pictured) imported from more than 150 miles away, the exceptionally rare bracelet would have belonged to a high-ranking member of the society
‘Until then, I will refrain from saying anything.’

A consensus on the age will be announced after the experts had discussed the dating, and a major scientific journal report was expected, The Siberian Times reported. The bracelet was found in 2008 in a layer that contained Denisovan, homo altaiensis, rather than Homo sapien or Neanderthal remains, although all these groupings shared the cave at various times and interbred.

‘The bracelet is stunning in bright sunlight it reflects the sun rays, at night by the fire it casts a deep shade of green,’ said Professor Anatoly Derevyanko, the institute’s former director.

‘It is unlikely it was used as an everyday jewellery piece.  I believe this beautiful and very fragile bracelet was worn only for some exceptional moments,’ he said.

The manufacturing technology used in the bracelet is seen as being more typical of a later period, for example, the Neolithic era, which began around 12,000 years ago. Dr. Derevyanko said: ‘Two fragments of the bracelet of a width of 2.7cm and a thickness of 0.9 cm were found.

‘The estimated diameter of the find was 7cm. 

‘Near one of the cracks was a drilled hole with a diameter of about 0.8 cm.  Studying them, scientists found out that the speed of rotation of the drill was rather high, fluctuations minimal, and that was there was applied to drill with an implement, technology that is common for more recent times. The ancient master was skilled in techniques previously considered not characteristic for the Palaeolithic era, such as drilling with an implement, boring tool type rasp, grinding, and polishing with a leather and skins of varying degrees of tanning.

‘Next to the hole on the outer surface of the bracelet can be seen clearly a limited polished zone of intensive contact with some soft organic material,’ said Dr Derevyanko. Scientists have suggested that it was a leather strap with some charm, and this charm was rather heavy. 

The needle was one of humankind’s first tools. It is distinctive of the Upper Paleolithic period, which began 40,000 years ago. The three-inch (7.6cm) needle (pictured) is crafted from ancient bird bone

The location of the polished section made it possible to identify the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ of the bracelet and to establish that it was worn on the right hand. Among the remains of 66 different types of mammal found in the cave were those of extinct woolly mammoths.

In 2000 a tooth from a young adult was found in the cave and in 2008, archaeologists discovered the finger bone of a juvenile Denisovan hominin, dubbed ‘X woman’.

Further examination of the site found other artifacts dating as far back as 125,000 years. Dr. Shunkov has suggested that the bracelet indicates the Denisovans were more advanced than Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

The Denisova Cave (pictured), in Siberia, is named after Denis, a Russian hermit who lived there in the 18th century. It is the only location where the remains of Denisovans have been discovered and has been repeatedly used by them, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens
The entrance to the Denisova cave and the archaeological excavations inside.

‘These finds were made using technological methods, boring stone, drilling with an implement, grinding, that are traditionally considered typical for a later time, and nowhere in the world, they were used so early, in the paleolithic era. 

‘At first, we connected the finds with a progressive form of the modern human, and now it turned out that this was fundamentally wrong.

‘Obviously it was Denisovans, who left these things.’

The Russian scientists say they examined the idea that the bracelet could have been buried underground in the cave by a later generation, perhaps in Neolithic times. But they say the soil around the bracelet was ‘uncontaminated by human interference from a later period’.

The soil around the bracelet was also dated using oxygen isotopic analysis. Redating of the bracelet would also mean a needle now held to be 50,000 years old is also even more ancient. The needle is also seen as the work of Denisovans. 

Newly discovered Kazakhstan pyramid may be older than certain Egyptian pyramids

Newly discovered Kazakhstan pyramid may be older than certain Egyptian pyramids

Recently, archeologists in Kazakhstan have unearthed a pyramid-shaped mausoleum about 3,000 years old which makes it older than certain, but not all, pyramids of Egypt.

In the Sary-Arka area close to the city of Karaganda the extraordinary discovery was made, and the team said it was likely built for an ancient king or clan leader.

“Judging by the monumental construction, this mausoleum was built more than 3,000 years ago for a local king,” team member Viktor Novozhenov, from Karaganda State University, told Yahoo News.

“We are going to look inside the mausoleum this week. Everything that we find inside will be sent to the Karaganda Archaeological Museum.”

The team – led by Igor Kukushkin from Karaganda State University – is still in the process of excavating the site, but so far it seems to have been built for a similar purpose as the Egyptian pyramids, with the archaeologists coming across a mausoleum inside the structure.

They say that the mausoleum is about 2 meters (6.6 feet) tall and 15 by 14 meters (49 by 46 feet) long, making it quite small for a pyramid.

“It’s made from stone, earth, and fortified by slabs in the outer side,” Novozhenov told Owen Jarus from Live Science.

The structure of the pyramid is unique as well. Instead of coming to a point like the Great Pyramid of Giza, the newly found structure consists of six stepped layers with a flat top, making it more like a stepped rectangle rather than a true pyramid shape.

Inside, the team found that the pyramid’s burial chamber was likely robbed long ago, leaving only pottery, a knife, and a few bronze objects. There’s no word as yet on whether or not there were human remains buried there.

Going on early evidence, the structure was likely built more than 3,000 years ago, around the time of the Late Bronze Age. But it’s not – despite what some outlets have claimed – the oldest pyramid ever found.

In fact, the Pyramid of Djoser in Sakkara, Egypt, was built about 1,000 years earlier, between 2667 and 2648 BC.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was built around 100 years later, making it older than this new Kazakhstan pyramid – although it will take more time for the team to accurately come up with a date of construction.

Even so, the find is exciting because it will likely shine new light on the Begazy-Dandybai culture that lived in central Kazakhstan.

Researchers already know that mausoleums like the one recently found were reserved for those of high social status – likely kings or clan leaders – but other than that the society remains mysterious.

The team is still excavating the site, so their work has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and it will likely be a while before we can delve into their full findings. But it’s nice to know that there’s a new mystery to explore in the world.

Millennia-Old Rock Art in Israel Offers Window Into Lost Culture

Millennia-Old Rock Art in Israel Offers Window Into Lost Culture

The chance discovery of lines carved into the boulders of an ancient tomb in what is now the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights could offer new insight into an enigmatic culture that thrived thousands of years ago.

Archaeologists discovered rock art engraved inside this 4,000-year-old stone monument in northern Israel. Illustrations highlight the herd of horned animal figures etched into the boulder

In a small clearing in the Yehudiya nature reserve, between yellow weeds and shaded by eucalyptus trees, huge dark basalt boulders and slabs form a small roofed chamber that opens to the east. The megalithic structure is one of the thousands of so-called dolmens scattered around northern Israel and the wider region, burial tombs erected some 4,000-4,500 years ago in the Intermediate Bronze Era.

Today, on the plateau captured in 1967 from Syria, with Israeli soldiers securing the frontier just 23 kilometers (14 miles) away, scientists seek to shed light on the region’s distant past. The identity and beliefs of those who built the monuments remain largely unknown. But a recent serendipitous finding of rock art might change that.

The rock art findings — published in a recent article by Sharon and Berger in the journal Asian Archaeology — display the animal drawings in this ancient culture for the first time.

About two years ago, “when one of the rangers here in the park walked her daily walk, she looked inside and saw something carved in the walls,” recalled Uri Berger, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The ranger contacted the IAA, and “when we looked inside we saw this is not just lines carved or some stains on the wall, this is rock art,” Berger said. The lines form the shapes of six horned animals of varying sizes, three facing east and three facing west, with two of them — likely a male and female — directly facing each other.

Another horned animal is carved into the interior of one panel, facing the other six. The zoomorphic depictions, hidden in plain sight since the study of the dolmens began 200 years ago, were the first to be discovered in the region and a major development for Berger and his research partner, Gonen Sharon.

Sharon, an archaeology professor at the Tel-Hai college in northern Israel, is responsible for a previous landmark discovery. Just north of the nature reserve, outside the northern Galilee Kibbutz Shamir, Sharon was hiking with his children in 2012 on a field with some 400 dolmens spread across it.

The capstone of a dolmen at Kiryat Shemona features three straight lines carved in an approximation of a human face.

Crawling into the shade of the largest monument, Sharon sat down, looked up at the huge slab roof of the dome, and said he noticed “weird shapes” that didn’t look like natural formations.

“It looked like someone made them,” he recalled.

The markings were found to be a series of man-made carvings resembling tridents.

“It turned out this was the first artwork done in the context of dolmens in the Middle East,” Sharon said. The Shamir carvings, unnoticed by generations of researchers, reinvigorated archaeological study in the area. One of the sites revisited was inside an industrial zone near Kiryat Shmona, a town northwest of Shamir, where three small megalithic structures that survived the zone’s development a few decades ago are surrounded by circles of stones.

On the relatively rounded capstone of the largest dolmen there, two sets of short parallel lines are carved into each side of the rock, with a longer line carved below creating the image of closed eyes and a grimacing mouth facing the sky.

“The grooves don’t seem to be functional,” said Sharon. “To us, they look like a face.”

The stone monuments have “altered the landscape” of northern Israel, said Berger. But their prominence has also made them targets for antiquities theft, which largely stripped remains that could provide clues to their creators.

Small pieces of ceramics, metal spearheads and daggers, bits of jewellery and beads, and some bones are found at the sites from time to time, Sharon said. “But it’s very rare to find” anything, and such finds are very scattered.

“We know very little of the actual culture of the people who built them.”

With the discovery of the art carved into the stones, “we can say something that is much more than what we knew for 200 years,” said Berger.

The rock art findings — published in a recent article by Sharon and Berger in the journal Asian Archaeology — display the animal drawings in this ancient culture for the first time and present the larger pattern of visual presentation in the region.

Berger said the drawings raise new questions about the people who created them.

“Why those animals? Why in these dolmens and not others? What made this one special?”

The slow but steady accumulation of artistic finds brings scholars “closer and closer” to the subjects of their research, “to the civilization you’re looking to know about,” Berger said.

To Sharon, “this is like a letter from the past starting to suggest what was the world of culture and symbolism beyond just building and erecting very large stones.”

CT Scan of Siberian Mummy Reveals Wounds and Tattoos

CT Scan of Siberian Mummy Reveals Wounds and Tattoos

Male Tashtyk mask is kept in the State Hermatage Museum. CT of the mask layer.

He was from the mountainous region of modern-day Khakasia, aged 25 to 30 when he died 1,700 years ago. Another CT scan showed the face of his gypsum death mask that was all the rage with the ancient Tashtyk people, who were settled cattle-breeders and farmers known for their idiosyncratic burial rituals.

The scan gives it a red punk look but it is believed that the pigtail it was wearing would have been taken off before his death. He is also the only Tashtyk mummy so far found with tattoos.  But the most striking and unexpected aspect is a long suture on the side of his face: from the left eye to the ear.

A scar that had been sewn up. 

The most striking and unexpected aspect is a long scar on the side of his face: from the left eye to the ear.

Archaeologists want more research on this but the current best guess is that this suture was stitched after his death – perhaps to mend his disfigured face after a wound, possibly a fatal blow. In other words, to improve his looks before his journey to the afterlife.  Final confirmation is still needed that this facial embroidery was postmortem, however. For now, it is not ruled out that this repair job was done at the end of his life. 

Dr Svetlana Pankova put the male head into the CT scan.

Nor was this the only evidence of intervention by ancient surgeons on this Tashtyk man found at the Oglakhty burial ground, and laid to rest in a burial log house.  His skull was trepanned in the temporal area on the left side,’ explained Dr. Svetlana Pankova, curator at the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, and keeper of the Siberian collection of the Department of Archeology.

The hole is rather big – 6 by 7 centimetres. It was made postmortem.  Expert analysis shows the hole was made by the series of blows with a chisel type or hammer type tool.’ Dr Pankova said: ‘We think that it was made to remove the brain during an elaborate burial rite.’ Likewise, she thinks the facial scar can be explained in similar fashion. 

‘His skull was trepanned in the temporal area on the left side.’

‘They took all these postmortem rites very seriously, and did not save on this,’ she said.   They could not just put a mask on the disfigured face. It would be great to attract an experienced surgeon to research this suture, to get full clarity.  Was it postmortem or might it have been made in his lifetime? 

‘Our research is complicated by the fact that we cannot take the mask away from the face (it would cause too much damage)  so we must research this stitching using other methods. The archaeologists were intrigued to finally see the face under the death mask, the painting of which ‘adds some unnecessary emotional impressions’

Male mask has black stripes on a red background, plus the lower part of the mask was destroyed and man’s teeth can be seen.

Dr Pankova said the mask ‘has black stripes on a red background, plus the lower part of the mask was somewhat destroyed and man’s teeth can be seen. 

‘So all together it creates such an aggressive look.’ Yet under the mask ‘there was nothing aggressive in this face. 

‘It was the face of a calmly sleeping person. 

‘It was the face of calmly sleeping person.’

‘The mask was very close in appearance to the real face.

‘For the first time we see the real face of a young man of this time.

‘The computer scan allowed us to see, so to say, three layers – the layer of the mask, the layer of the face without the mask and layer of the skull.’ The face of the woman lying in the same burial chamber – also buried in a fur coat – has not been revealed with a CT scan.

Svetlana Pankova: ‘I would really like to make CT scan of female mummified head.’

Or anyway not yet. 

‘I would really like to make CT scan of female mummified head,’ she said. I’m planning to find a clinic which can do this research and decipher it for us.’ For now, we do not know who the woman was and how she and the man were related. 

Children’s fur coat was also found in the grave

A child’s skeleton was also found in the same grave. 

So, too, were two burial ‘dummies’ – an extraordinary phenomenon akin to stuffed dolls or mannequins.  These may be explained by the merging of two cultures or traditions: one that buried their dead, the other that cremated.  The dummies appear to represent the remains of those who were cremated. Yet there is also evidence that men were more usually cremated while women and children were buried. 

He is also the only Tashtyk mummy so far found with tattoos. Infrared photography.

‘The dummies in full height, kind of mannequins, were made of leather, filled with tightly twisted grass,’ said Dr. Pankova.

‘In the chest area, there were leather pouches with charred bones remaining from cremations.’ She told The Siberian Times: ‘The mummies, male and female, were dressed in fur coats, and they had masks on their faces. The head of one of the dummies did not preserve. 

‘The dummies in full height, kind of mannequins, were made of leather, filled with tightly twisted grass

‘Sadly, probably rodents sneaked in and spoiled it. The second dummy has the face, covered with bright red woollen fabric, with eyes and a nose. On the head was a piece of Chinese silk.’  The Tashtyk culture existed between the first and seventh centuries AD in the area of so-called Minusinsk Basin of the Yenisei valley.

‘The second dummy has the face, covered with bright red woolen fabric, with eyes and a nose. On the head was a piece of Chinese silk.’

They were settled cattle breeders and farmers.

In 1969 Professor Leonid Kyzlasov excavated the Oglakhty burial ground and found this masked man in tomb number four. We made the radiocarbon dating using larch of the log house indicating the third to fourth centuries AD.’ The Oglakhty necropolis was originally found in 1902 by a shepherd, who fell into one of the graves, saw the people in a wooden chamber with whitish masks on their faces, got scared, and fled.

In 1969 Professor Leonid Kyzlasov excavated the Oglakhty burial ground and found this masked man in tomb number four.

His mother-in-law was more fearless, sneaking in, and looting some items. A local official and researcher Alexander Adrianov heard about this and started excavations in 1903, unearthing three graves.

1.4-Million-Year-Old Bone Hand Ax Identified

1.4-Million-Year-Old Bone Hand Ax Identified

According to a BBC report, paleoanthropologists Katsuhiro Sano of Tohoku University and Gen Suwa of the University of Tokyo have identified a 1.4-million-year-old hand ax made from a hippo’s leg bone at Ethiopia’s Konso-Gardula site. Tools at the site are thought to have been crafted by the human ancestor Homo erectus. 

A 1.4-million-year-old bone hand ax found in East Africa (shown from both sides) expands the known toolmaking repertoire of Homo erectus, scientists say. Hardened sediment attached to the artifact is lighter colored than the tool.

Approximately 1.4 million years ago, researchers claim, Homo erectus, a likely direct ancestor of people today, crafted an unexpectedly cutting – edge tool from a hippo’s leg bone.

This find is a rare example of an ancient type of hand ax made out of bone rather than stone, reports a team led by paleoanthropologists Katsuhiro Sano of Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, and Gen Suwa of the University of Tokyo.

The tool was discovered at Ethiopia’s Konso-Gardula site, which has produced stone tools and fossils attributed to H. Erectus.

Along with a variety of stone tools now recognized at several East African sites (SN: 3/4/20), the bone hand ax “suggests that Homo erectus technology was more sophisticated and versatile than we had thought,” Suwa says.

Taken together, these finds show that, perhaps several hundred thousand years earlier than previously known, the H. Erectus toolkit consisted of items requiring a series of precise operations to manufacture, such as stone and bone hand axes, as well as simpler tools that could be made relatively quickly.

H. Erectus at Konso-Gardula modified a chunk of a hippo’s leg bone so that a roughly 13-centimeter-long oval piece with a sharp edge near the tip could be struck off in one blow from a stone or bone hammer, the researchers conclude July 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One or more toolmakers then chipped off the bone from the artifact to render its final shape. Signs of wear indicate that the hand ax was used in cutting or sawing activities.

Only one other bone hand ax of comparable age has been found. That roughly 1.3- to 1.6-million-year-old implement, from Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge, contains fewer signs of chipping and shaping than the Konso-Gardula hand ax does, the scientists say.

Russian Scientists Revive 32,000-Year-Old Flower

Russian Scientists Revive 32,000-Year-Old Flower

From 32,000-year-old seeds, the oldest plant ever to be “resurrected” has been grown, beating the previous record-holder by some 30,000 years.

Fruiting (at left) and flowering plants of Silene stenophylla regenerated from tissue of fossil fruits

In the course of the study, a team of scientists from Russia, Hungary and the USA collected frozen Silene stenophyll seed back in 2007, while investigating about 70 ancient ground squirrel hibernation burrows or caches, hidden in permanently frozen loess-ice deposits in northeastern Siberia, in the plant’s present-day range.

The age of seeds was estimated to range from 20,000 to 40 thousand years with the use of radiocarbon dates and time from the Pleistocene era. Rodents would normally eat the food in their larders, but in this case, a flood or some other weather event got the whole area buried.

Since the rodents had placed the larders at the level of the permafrost, the material froze almost immediately, and did not thaw out at any time since. More than 600,000 fruits and seeds thus preserved were located at the site.

Years later, a team of scientists at the Russian Academy of Sciences went on to successfully revive one of them: a flowering plant from a 32,000-year-old fruit!

The immature fruit of Silene stenophylla buried in permafrost more than 30,000 years ago

The accomplishment surpasses the previous record for the oldest plant material brought back to life, of 2000 years set by Judean date palm seeds. The team led by David Gilichinsky used material recovered in the 2007 research project.

The researchers first attempted to germinate mature seeds recovered from the fruit. When these attempts failed, they turned to the fruit itself and were able to culture adult plants from placental tissue. The team grew 36 specimens from the tissue.

The plants looked identical to modern specimens until they flowered, at which time the petals were observed to be longer and more widely spaced than modern versions of the plant.

Seeds produced by the regenerated plants germinated at a 100% success rate, compared with 90% for modern plants. Scientists are unsure why the observed variations occur.

Clonal micropropagation of Silene stenophylla regenerated from the placenta tissue of immature 30,000-y-old fruits buried in permafrost deposits. (А) Initial shoot initiated from placental tissue in vitro. (В) Stages of clonal micropropagation from primary shoots to rooted plants.

According to Robin Probert of the Millennium Seed Bank, the demonstration is “by far the most extraordinary example of extreme longevity for material from higher plants” to date.

It is not surprising to find living material this old, but is surprising that viable material could be recovered,” she added.

The reasons for the success of the experiment can be manyfold. The Russian scientists involved speculated that the tissue cells were rich in sucrose which acted as a preservative.

They also noted that DNA damage caused by gamma radiation from natural ground radioactivity at the site was unusually low for the plant material’s age and is comparable to levels observed in 1300-year-old lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) seeds proven to germinate.

The revived plant at full blossom stage.

Probert hopes that the techniques developed in the resurrection of Silene stenophylla may one day be used to resurrect extinct species.

Paleontologist Grant Zazula, who has previously disproven claims of ancient regeneration, said: “This discovery raises the bar incredibly in terms of our understanding in terms of the viability of ancient life in the permafrost.

Ancient 3,000-Year-Old Underground Irrigation Canals Invented By People Of Persia

Ancient 3,000-Year-Old Underground Irrigation Canals Invented By People Of Persia

The well-known Persian irrigation tunnels are considered one of the oldest technological wonders in the world and are part of the Unesco World Heritage List. The Persian Qanats named two years ago to Unesco’s World Heritage List, are one of the oldest engineering wonders worldwide.

These 3,000-year-old ingenious channels still provide a reliable water supply to some of Iran’s most arid regions, consisting of an old system of underground water sources.

Qanats began in the Iron Age when surveyors discovered that a source of water at the head of a river valley could be redirected to create tunnels that would bring the stream to where water was wanted, ultimately opening on ground level into an oasis.

Today, the qanats are known by the holes, created as air shafts to release dust and bring oxygen to workers digging the tunnels by hand, which can still be witnessed above ground.

An integral part of Iran

Iranian filmmaker Komeil Soheili has documented the Persian qanats for National Geographic. He told the publication, he believes they are an “integral part” of the landscape of his Iranian native province.

“The diversity of landscapes and cultures [in Iran] is something that’s not well understood by the world. One of the oldest civilizations in the world came from this amazing creation,” he said.

The eleven Persian qanats that constitute this impressive elaborate and orderly system also include rest areas, water reservoirs, and watermills. Building this network, however, was no easy feat.

Each qanat construction requires great precision as the angles of the tunnels’ slopes need to be at just the right degree to ensure water flows freely but not forcefully enough to aggravate erosion and collapse the tunnel. To this day, the somewhat fragile system still requires yearly maintenance and can easily fall into disrepair.

In the 1960s and 1970s, an administrative tangle saw damage come to many qanats as a result of the breakdown of their traditionally imposed communal management system. Soheili said this breach was partially due to the disappearance of communities’ reliance on the tunnels.

“People don’t depend on qanats anymore, as it was before,” he explained. Today, the underground channels are more of a “hobby” since working in the system no longer provides financial sustenance.

Vibrant lavish civilizations

Their historical and cultural impact, however, can not be denied. The irrigation tunnels were responsible for allowing civilizations and agriculture to bloom in a harsh and arid desert hostile to both.

Perhaps their most substantial effect can be witnessed in the history of the city of Persepolis located in the Fars province of south-west Iran.

The metropolis built by the Achaemenid Persians in a dry desolate and unforgiving area became one of the most vibrant cultured cities in the world still revered today for its unique palaces equipped with lavish gardens that bloomed with unparalleled beauty. 

The qanat technology also spread as far as Morocco and Spain proving its ubiquitous usefulness and appeal.

This is partially due to the fact that the system also helps lower indoor temperatures which meant it was often used as an ancient method of air conditioning and refrigeration. Talk about innovation!

Sandstorm in Iran unearthed an ancient city

Sandstorm in Iran unearthed an ancient city

A new sandstorm in Iran has uncovered a number of ruins that have been thought to be in the old city or necropolis. Initial analyses suggest it dates back to the early Islamic Middle Ages (661-1508 AD), but it could also be much older or even more recent. Iranian authorities are taking no chances as armed military guards are keeping the site safe from looters.

The Mohammad Vafaei of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and the Tourism Organization said in the Tehran Times, “A team of archaeologists was sent to Fahrraj to determine whether the site was a necropolis or an inhabitance.”

The CHHTO archaeologists will examine the site’s artifacts and survey the ruins of the structures to get a better idea of the age of the complex. It measures about 5,000 square meters (53,820 square feet).

Archaeologists are examining a possible historic site in an arid area of Iran that was exposed by sandstorms in late March. The team is doing surveys, excavating structures, and examining earthenware vessels.

After initial examination members of the team have refused to speculate about how old the site may be, says the Financial Tribune of Iran.

The sandstorm struck in late March, exposing ancient ruins and broken earthenware and adobe, according to the governor of Fahraj in Kerman Province, Nejad Khaleqi.

Mr. Vafaei demurred, saying, “One cannot claim that an area is historical as soon as several objects appear from under the ground after storms and floods since they might have been carried from other regions by water or storm.”

Tentative conclusions are being drawn, however, as Hamid Rouhi, the deputy chief of the provincial CHHTO estimated that the site dates from the Islamic Middle Ages of 661 to 1508 AD.

“It is the first time that such ruins have emerged so there is no precise data on their age and history,” Mr. Rouhi told the Financial Tribune. He said officials will release more information as soon as it is available.

The site does not appear to be rich in artifacts, but so far researchers have found earthenware and broken adobe along with some structures.

The CHHTO has called in the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism. They hope the site can be added to the National Heritage List after studies confirm its age, the Financial Times says.

It would not be unprecedented to find old sites in the Kerman area, as both Fahraj and Rigan have multiple ancient sites. New ones that were discovered with floods in the past few months are being excavated in Rigan and Negin Kavir.

Big, sprawling Kerman Province is something of a cultural melting pot, blending various regional cultures over the course of time. It is also home to rich tourist spots and historical sites including bazaars, mosques, caravanserais, and ruins of ancient urban areas.

The Islamic Middle Ages were termed the Islamic Golden Age because of Muslim scholars’ study, preserving and expanding knowledge in the areas of engineering, technology, geography, law, sciences, and medicine.

The scholars also explored the arts, poetry and literature, philosophy, economics, navigation, and sociology, says the site

From the mid-7th century through the mid-13th century, the Islamic World was the center of world learning and scientific development.

The Islamic Golden Age gave rise to countless inventions and innovations, while Islamic scholars were key to preserving the knowledge of the Greeks and other ancient civilizations.

The Abbasid Caliphate was heavily Persian-influenced and some of its greatest scholars were indeed Persians.