Category Archives: ASIA

Ancient mammoth ivory carving technology reconstructed by archaeologists

Ancient mammoth ivory carving technology reconstructed by archaeologists

A team of archaeologists from Siberian Federal University and Novosibirsk State University provided a detailed reconstruction of a technology that was used to carve ornaments and sculptures from mammoth ivory.

The team studied a string of beads and an ancient animal figurine found at the Paleolithic site of Ust-Kova in Krasnoyarsk Territory. Over 20 thousand years ago its residents used drills, cutters, and even levelling blades.

The unusual features of some of the items showcased the mastery of the craftsmen. The new data obtained by the scientists will help study the relations between the residents of different Siberian sites.

The article about the study was published in the highly respected journal Archaeological Research in Asia.

The Ust-Kova site is located in Kezhemsky District of Krasnoyarsk Territory at the mouth of the Kova river.

Archaeologists from Krasnoyarsk have been working there since the middle of the 20th century, but the major part of the excavation work took place between 1980 and 2000.

Based on the results of radiocarbon dating, the site is considered to be over 20 thousand years old. Of all findings from Ust-Kova, scientists consider animal figurines the most interesting. They also found various ornaments and tools made from mammoth ivory. However, until recently the technology of their manufacture has been unknown.

“We studied several mammoth ivory items found at Ust-Kova: a mammoth figurine, a seal sculpture, and bracelets and beads of different sizes that were created around 24 thousand years ago.

Our group was supervised by Prof. L.V. Lbova, a PhD in History, from the Department of Archeology and Ethnography of Novosibirsk State University.

We conducted a detailed microscopic analysis of each object to identify the tools used in their manufacture by the markings they left,” said Prof. Nikolay Drozdov, a PhD in History, representing Siberian Federal University.

After processing the microscopic images of the mammoth figurine with DStretch, the team was able to reconstruct the ancient technology in every detail. The image showed markings that were left by different tools.

According to the scientists, at first, a craftsman had to break a mammoth tusk down into segments. After that smaller plates were turned into beads: the master cut them into rectangles and made a hole in the centre of each piece using a stone drill. Bigger parts were used to create animal sculptures.

To depict a mammoth, the craftsman outlined a head and legs with a levelling blade and then removed the excess of the bone with a cutter. After the figurine was finished, it was decorated with a pattern to imitate eyes and hair.

The team also analyzed the chemical composition of the findings. The scientists were especially interested in the traces of dark-red pigment on the surface of the sculpture. It turned out that ancient craftsmen used to paint many of their items with manganese and magnesium (presumably, they were extracted from salt rocks situated not far from the site).

The mammoth figurine was painted with red pigment on one side and with a black one on the other. In the mythology of the Ust-Kuva people, red was a symbol of life and black meant death.

The researchers also found several layers of pigment on the beads. They assumed that the ornaments had been in use for many years and had to be regularly repaired.

The study can help better understand the relationships between different tribes and territories. Now scientists will be able to compare tools from different sites by various parameters. This will show whether distant tribes were in contact with each other and also help identify individual styles of ancient master carvers.

India: Archaeologists found 9,000 years old city beneath the surface of modern-day Dwarka

India: Archaeologists found 9,000 years old city beneath the surface of modern-day Dwarka.

The discovery of the legendary city of Dvaraka which is said to have been founded by Sri Krishna is an important landmark in the validation of historical relevance of Mahabharata. It has set at rest the doubts expressed by historians about the historicity of Mahabharata and the very existence of Dvaraka city.

It has greatly narrowed the gap of Indian history by establishing the continuity of the Indian civilization from the Vedic age to the present day. The discovery has also shed welcome light on second urbanization in the so-called ‘Dark age’, on the resuscitation of dharma, on the resumption of maritime trade, and use of Sanskrit language and modified Indus script.

Incidentally, scientific data useful for a study of sea-level changes and effects of the marine environment on metals and wood over long periods has also been generated by underwater exploration. All this was possible because of the dedicated and daring efforts of marine archaeologists, scientists and technicians of the Marine Archaeology Centre of the National Institute of Oceanography

Dwarka Exploration

Dwaraka is a coastal town in Jamnagar district of Gujarat. Traditionally, modern Dwaraka is identified with Dvaraka, mentioned in the Mahabharata as Krishna’s city. Dwaraka was a port, and some scholars have identified it with the island of Barka mentioned in the Periplus of Erythrean Sea.

Ancient Dwaraka sank in the sea and hence is an important archaeological site. The first clear historical record of the lost city is dated 574 A.D. and occurs in the Palitana Plates of Samanta Simhaditya. This inscription refers to Dwaraka as the capital of the western coast of Saurashtra and still more important, states that Sri Krishna lived here.

The first archaeological excavations at Dwaraka were done by the Deccan College, Pune and the Department of Archaeology, Government of Gujarat, in 1963 under the direction of H.D. Sankalia. It revealed artefacts many centuries old.

The Marine Archaeological Unit (MAU) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted a second round of excavations in 1979 under the supervision of Dr S. R. Rao (one of the most respected archaeologists of India). An emeritus scientist at the marine archaeology unit of the National Institute of Oceanography, Rao has excavated a large number of Harappan sites including the port city of Lothal in Gujarat. He found distinct pottery known as lustrous red ware, which could be more than 3,000 years old. Based on the results of these excavations, the search for the sunken city in the Arabian Sea began in 1981. Scientists and archaeologists have continually worked on the site for 20 years.

The project for underwater exploration was sanctioned in 1984, directly by the then Prime Minister for three years. Excavation under the sea is a hard and strenuous task. The sea offers too much resistance. Excavation is possible only between November and February, during low tide. The sea has to be smooth and there should be bright sunshine. All these requirements effectively reduce the number of diving days to 40 to 45 in one season. In order to make the maximum use of the time available, divers use echo sounder to get a fairly accurate idea of the location and the depth of the object underwater.

The side-scan sonar offers a view of the seafloor. The sonar signals sent inside the water return the signals. Reading of the signals reveals the broad nature of the object underwater. Underwater scooters, besides the usual diving equipment like scuba, were also pressed into service. Between 1983 and 1990, S.R.Rao’s team came across discoveries that cemented the existence of a submerged city.

In January 2007, the Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began excavations at Dwaraka again. Alok Tripathi, Superintending Archaeologist, UAW, said the ancient underwater structures found in the Arabian Sea were yet to be identified. “We have to find out what they are. They are fragments. I would not like to call them a wall or a temple. They are part of some structure,” said Dr Tripathi, himself a trained diver. Dr Tripathi had said: “To study the antiquity of the site in a holistic manner, excavations are being conducted simultaneously both on land [close to the Dwarakadhish temple] and undersea so that finds from both the places can be co-related and analysed scientifically.”

The objective of the excavation was to know the antiquity of the site, based on material evidence. In the offshore excavation, the ASI’s trained underwater archaeologists and the divers of the Navy searched the sunken structural remains. The finds were studied, dated and documented. On land, the excavation was done in the forecourt of the Dwarakadhish temple. Students from Gwalior, Lucknow, Pune, Vadodara, Varanasi and Bikaner joined in to help the ASI archaeologists.

Explorations yielded structures such as bastions, walls, pillars and triangular and rectangular stone anchors.

In 2001, the students of National Institute of Oceanography were commissioned by the Indian Government to do a survey on pollution in Gulf of Khambat, seven miles from the shore. During the survey, they found buildings made of stones covered in mud and sand covering five square miles. Divers have collected blocks, samples, artefacts, and coppers coins, which scientists believe is the evidence from an age that is about 3,600 years old. Some of the samples were sent to Manipur and oxford university for carbon dating, and the results created more suspicion since some of the objects were found to be 9,000 years old.

It is indeed overwhelming to find that what had been discovered underwater at the bay of Combat is an archaeological site, dating back to 7,500 BC and older than any previously claimed oldest sites of civilization.

Findings at the Dwarka excavation site

Marine archaeological explorations off Dwarka have brought to light a large number of stone structures. They are semicircular, rectangular and square in shape and are in water depth ranging from the intertidal zone to 6 m. They are randomly scattered over a vast area. Besides these structures, a large number of varieties of stone anchors have been noticed along with the structures as well as beyond 6 m water depth.

These findings suggest that Dwarka was one of the busiest port centres during the past on the west coast of India. The comparative study of surrounding sites indicates that the date of the structures of Dwarka may be between the Historical period and late medieval period. The ruins have been proclaimed the remains of the legendary lost city of Dwarka which, according to ancient Hindu texts, was the dwelling place of Krishna.

The underwater excavations revealed structures and ridge-like features. Other antiquities were also found. All the objects were photographed and documented with drawings – both underwater. While underwater cameras are used for photography, drawings are done on boards – a transparent polyester film of 75 microns fixed with a graph sheet below. The graph sheet acts as a scale.

One or two divers take the dimensions and the third draws the pictures. The Public Works Department routinely conducts dredging in these waters to keep the Gomati channel open. This throws up a lot of sediments, which settle on underwater structures. Brushes are used to clear these sediments to expose the structures.

Until recently the very existence of the city of Dwarka was a matter of legends. Now, that the remains have been discovered underwater, and with many clues seeming to suggest that this, indeed, is the legendary Dwarka, the dwelling place of Lord Krishna.

Rare trove of 1,100-year-old gold coins discovered in Israel

Rare trove of 1,100-year-old gold coins discovered in Israel

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Monday that a rare hoard of 425 gold coins from the Abbasid Caliphate, dating back around 1,100 years ago, was discovered by teenage volunteers at an archaeological excavation in the centre of the country.

The IAA may not have defined the exact location of the place where gold was discovered for obvious reasons.

A group of young people carrying out volunteer work ahead of their mandatory army service found the trove.

Workers excavate a site where a hoard of gold coins dating to the Abbasid Caliphate was unearthed, at an archaeological site near Tel Aviv in central Israel

“It was amazing. I dug in the ground and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves,” said teen Oz Cohen. “When I looked again I saw these were gold coins. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.”

Old coins found at central Israel archaeological dig

Excavation directors Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr Elie Haddad said that it was assumed that whoever buried the coins would have expected they would be able to retrieve the hoard and that the find could point to international trade carried out by the area’s residents.

“Finding gold coins, certainly in such a considerable quantity, is extremely rare.

We almost never find them in archaeological excavations, given that gold has always been extremely valuable, melted down and reused from generation to generation,” the directors said in a statement.

“The coins, made of pure gold that does not oxidize in air, were found in excellent condition as if buried the day before. Their finding may indicate that international trade took place between the area’s residents and remote areas,” the statement read.

Gold coins found at central Israel archaeological dig

Dr Robert Kool, a coin expert at the IAA, said that the total weight of the hoard — around 845 grams of pure gold — would have been a significant amount of money at the end of the 9th century.

“For example, with such a sum, a person could buy a luxurious house in one of the best neighbourhoods in Fustat, the enormous wealthy capital of Egypt in those days,” Kool said, noting that at the time, the region was part of the Abbasid Caliphate, which stretched from Persia to North Africa, with a central seat of government in Baghdad.

“The hoard consists of full gold dinars, but also — what is unusual — contains about 270 small gold cuttings, pieces of gold dinars cut to serve as small change,” Kool said.

He added that one of those cuttings was exceptionally rare and never before found in excavations in Israel — a fragment of a gold solidus of the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (829 – 842 CE), minted in the empire’s capital of Constantinople.

According to the IAA, the existence of the fragment in a trove of Islamic coins serves as evidence of the connections between the two rival empires.

“This rare treasure will certainly be a major contribution to research, as finds from the Abbasid period in Israel are relatively few. Hopefully, the study of the hoard will tell us more about a period of which we still know very little,” Kool said.

A 14,000-year-old puppy, whose perfectly preserved body was found in Russia, munched on a woolly rhino for its last meal

A 14,000-year-old puppy, whose perfectly preserved body was found in Russia, munched on a woolly rhino for its last meal

Russian scientists in 2011 found a perfectly preserved Frozen Aged puppy in Siberia. Recently, while examining the 14,000-year-old wolf-dog’s stomach contents, researchers were stunned to find evidence of what could be one of the last woolly rhinos on Earth still in its prehistoric bowels.

The gritted teeth of a 14,000-year-old dog discovered in Tumut, Siberia in 2011.

“It’s completely unheard of,” professor of evolutionary genetics Love Dalen said. “I’m not aware of any frozen Ice Age carnivore where they have found pieces of tissue inside.”

Scientists originally found the furry canine at a dig site in Tumat, Siberia, and shortly afterward found a piece of yellow-haired tissue inside its stomach.

Experts initially believed that the tissue belonged to a cave lion, but after sharing the evidence with a resourceful team in Sweden, learned otherwise.

“We have a reference database and mitochondrial DNA from all mammals, so we checked the sequence data against that and the results that came back — it was an almost perfect match for woolly rhinoceros,” Dalen explained.

The 14,000-year-old wolf-dog is just one of a few perfectly preserved canine specimens found in the Siberian permafrost over the last decade.

Dalen works at the Centre for Paleogenetics, which is a joint venture between Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History, so his team had access to both highly-detailed DNA databases and radiocarbon dating.

After Dalen and his colleagues were able to assess with the overwhelming likelihood that this half-digested tissue belonged to a woolly rhinoceros, they then radiocarbon dated it at around 14,400 years old.

“This puppy, we know already, has been dated to roughly 14,000 years ago,” said Dalen. “We also know that the woolly rhinoceros goes extinct 14,000 years ago. So, potentially, this puppy has eaten one of the last remaining woolly rhinos.”

The tissue of the woolly rhino.

Modern research has shown that the woolly mammoth’s extinction was partly due to severe climate change. As for how this lucky puppy got its paws on such a specimen, which is the same size as a modern-day white rhino that weighs nearly 8,000 pounds and stands six feet tall, remains largely unclear.

Indeed, Edana Lord, a Ph.D. student who co-authored a research paper studying the woolly rhino’s road to extinction, asserted that due to the rhino’s size it is impossible that the puppy killed the animal itself.

Additionally, experts were surprised to see that the rhino was left mostly undigested in the puppy’s stomach, leading Dalen to conclude that “this puppy must have died very shortly after eating the rhino.”

“We don’t know if it was a wolf, but if it was a wolf cub, maybe it came across a baby rhino that was dead,” Dalen hypothesized. “Or the (adult) wolf ate the baby rhino. Maybe as they were eating it, the mother rhino had her revenge.”

A reconstruction of a woolly rhino using the remains of one found in the Siberian permafrost.

This wolf-pup is just one of a few amazing prehistoric canines specimens to be found in the last decade. In 2016, a miner in the Yukon region of Canada found a mummified 50,000-year-old wolf pup alongside a prehistoric caribou.

Then, in 2019, researchers found an 18,000-year-old wolf-dog hybrid perfectly preserved in the Siberian permafrost. They have since named that specimen “Dogor.”

Ultimately, researchers hope that this latest find can shed some more light on the last days of the woolly rhino — which are still being debated millennia later.

1,300-year-old colorful mosaics Discovered by Archaeologists in Israel

1,300-year-old colorful mosaics Discovered by Archaeologists in Israel

The remains of a 1,300-year-old church in the Circassian village of Kfar Kama in Israel were discovered by archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Kinneret Academic University.

“The church measures 12 by 36 m (39.4 by 118 feet) and includes a large courtyard, a narthex foyer, and a central hall,” said Dr. Nurit Feig, an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Actually, the excavators suspect the villagers carried out their devotions at a smaller local church with two chapels in the village dating to about the same time, which had been discovered half a century ago. The newly discovered, rather bigger edifice may have been a monastery, the archaeologists think, based on adjacent rooms that remain underground after being discovered by Shani Libbi using ground-penetrating radar.

Kafr Kama’s proximity to the iconic site of Mount Tabor – where some believe Jesus underwent the Transfiguration and began to radiate light – piqued the interest of Archbishop Youssef Matta, the head of the Greek Catholic Church in Israel. He was invited by the Israel Antiquities Authority and came to see the site in person.

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart; And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” – Matthew 17:1.

The main body of the newly discovered church is 12 by 36 meters (39 by 118 feet), which is medium-sized for the region, says Prof. Moti Aviam of the Kinneret Academic College, who is researching the Byzantine period in the Galilee and is collaborating with the Israel Antiquities Authority on this dig.

The discovery of the church was not expected, said Nurit Feig, the archaeologist leading the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “This was a small salvage excavation that we expanded,” she told Haaretz. Usually, a salvage excavation of this sort is defined in scope, but then she began to see the border of the nave wall and an apse – and realized they were on top of an ancient church. Now they know the area includes a courtyard, a narthex foyer, a central hall, and three apses. Churches in the Galilee normally have one or three apses, Feig and Aviam explained.

Wondrously, the archaeologists also found a reliquary: a stone box used to hold “sacred relics.” Sad to relate, it was empty. “The other ancient church found in Kafr Kama also had a reliquary, a closed one, that had bones inside,” Aviam said.

“In light of our many studies in Israel in general and the Galilee in particular, we know there were a lot of village rural monasteries. The monks weren’t hermits like in the desert monasteries. They lived alongside the villages, sometimes inside the villages, with villagers working at the monastery,” Aviam said. He added that they have no proof this new discovery is actually a monastery – no inscriptions have been found, for instance. But that’s his gut feeling.

Nor is there evidence for how the monks made their living if monks there were. It has been found that at other Galilean monasteries, the monks engaged mostly in agriculture, producing olive oil and wine, Aviam said.

Church or monastery, it had mosaics on the floor of the nave and apses, which is very much the norm for the Galilean churches. But they were badly damaged, Aviam said. All we can see are geometrical motifs and some flowers in blue, black, and red, but there may have been other images that are now gone.

Mosaic floor of the Byzantine-period church at Kfar Kama, Israel.

Faith in the Galilee

In fact, the two sixth-century churches of Kafr Kama fit the bigger picture that Aviam is discovering in his research of the Byzantine Galilee, conducted with Jacob Ashkenazi of the Kinneret Institute of Galilean Archaeology in the Kinneret Academic College. In Western Galilee alone, there are about 100 churches from the Byzantine time, very roughly speaking, Aviam told Haaretz.

The western side of the Upper Galilee was actually Christianized in the Byzantine period while the eastern side was Jewish, he explained. Down in the Lower Galilee, the towns were almost entirely Jewish, but Christianity gradually penetrated – resulting in villages like Kafr Kama, with its two churches. Or one church and one monastery.

The attraction for early Christians in the Galilee included the city of Nazareth: Jesus was reportedly born in Bethlehem, but grew up in the Galilee. Nazareth was actually mixed during the Byzantine period, Aviam said – Jewish with some churches. Like so many places in the region, occupation in the town now known as Kafr Kama goes back to the Bronze Age, and possibly earlier. But we may never know (much) more about the Christian era in this village.

This very week, the mosaics are going to be re-blanketed on earth for the sake of their conservation, Feig told Haaretz. That will protect them for the future masses that will probably never see them. The site is earmarked for a playground, and unless the local council and Jewish National Fund change their minds, a playground it will be.

“We can’t say at this stage how much may be covered and if anything will be preserved,” Feig said. The IAA may warmly recommend that the site be conserved, preserved, and opened for visitors; but the initiators of the real estate project in the village have the ultimate decision, she explained. And if they decide to preserve the ancient church or monastery, whichever it is, then the IAA experts can happily get to work.

The first church from early Christianity found in the Circassian village is also gone, partly covered, partly built over, the archaeologists say. Discovering the new one was an emotional moment for the excavators and villagers alike, who flocked to see it during the “open days” the archaeologists held – joined by the archbishop.

Asked why there was so much excitement if there are around 100 ancient churches in the Galilee, Feig said that this one is in a quite good state of preservation after all those 1,400 years: they know where all its parts are. But they may remain the only ones with that knowledge.

7,000 Years old Stone Structures Investigated in Saudi Arabia

7,000 Years old Stone Structures Investigated in Saudi Arabia

According to a statement released by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, an international team of researchers analyzed satellite imagery and conducted field surveys to document hundreds of massive rectangular stone structures in northwestern Saudi Arabia, and discover more than one hundred additional structures.

Known as “mustatils,” the rectangular monuments are thought to have been constructed by pastoralists for ritual use. Most of them consist of two large platforms connected by long, low, parallel walls, and some locations have multiple structures built right next to each other.

They give insights into how early pastoralists survived in the challenging landscapes of semi-arid Arabia.

View along the length of a mustatil structure, note researchers at far end for scale, image shows character of these structures as two platforms connected by low walls.

The last decade has seen rapid development in the archaeology of Saudi Arabia. Recent discoveries range from early hominin sites hundreds of thousands of years old to sites just a few hundred years old.

One enigmatic aspect of the archaeological record of western Arabia is the presence of millions of stone structures, where people have piled rocks to make different kinds of structures, ranging from burial tombs to hunting traps. One enigmatic form consists of vast rectangular shapes. Archaeologists working with the AlUla Royal Commission gave these the name ‘mustatils,’ which is Arabic for the rectangle.

Mustatils only occur in northwest Saudi Arabia. They had been previously recognized from satellite imagery and as they were often covered by younger structures, it had been speculated that they might be ancient, perhaps extending back to the Neolithic.

View from inside the largest mustatil yet identified, stretching for over 600 metres. This is just one of hundreds of examples of this kind of structure.

In this new article led by Dr. Huw Groucutt (group leader of the Extreme Events Research Group which is a Max Planck group spanning the Max Planck Institutes for Chemical Ecology, the Science of Human History, and Biogeochemistry) an international team of researchers under the auspices of the Green Arabia Project (a large project headed by Prof. Michael Petraglia from the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the Saudi Ministry for Tourism as well as collaborators from multiple Saudi and international institutions) conducted the first every detailed study of mustatils.

Through a mixture of field surveys and analyzing satellite imagery, the team has considerably extended knowledge of these enigmatic stone structures. 

More than one hundred new mustatils have been identified around the southern margins of the Nefud Desert, between the cities of Ha’il and Tayma, joining the hundreds previously identified from studies of Google Earth imagery, particularly in the Khaybar area.

The team found that these structures typically consist of two large platforms, connected by parallel long walls, sometimes extending over 600 meters in length.

The long walls are very low, had no obvious openings, and are located in diverse landscape settings. It is also interesting that little in the way of other archaeology – such as stone tools – was found around the mustatils. Together these factors suggest that the structures were not simply utilitarian entities for something like water or animal storage.

At one locality the team was able to date the construction of a mustatil to 7,000 thousand years ago, by radiocarbon dating charcoal from inside one of the platforms.

An assemblage of animal bones was also recovered, which included both wild animals and possibly domestic cattle, although it is possible that the latter are wild auroch. At another mustatil the team found a rock with a geometric pattern painted onto it.

“Our interpretation of mustatils is that they are ritual sites, where groups of people met to perform some kind of currently unknown social activities,” says Groucutt. “Perhaps they were sites of animal sacrifices or feasts.”

The fact that sometimes several of the structures were built right next to each other may suggest that the very act of their construction was a kind of social bonding exercise. Northern Arabia 7,000 years ago was very different from today.

Rainfall was higher, so much of the area was covered by grassland and there were scattered lakes. Pastoralist groups thrived in this environment, yet it would have been a challenging place to live, with droughts at a constant risk. 

The team’s hypothesis is that mustatils were built as a social mechanism to live in this challenging landscape. They may not be the oldest buildings in the world, but they are on a uniquely large scale for this early period, more than two thousand years before pyramids began to be constructed in Egypt.

Mustatils offer fascinating insights into how humans have lived in challenging environments and future studies promise to be extremely useful at understanding these ancient societies.

Israeli family discovers ancient treasure under the living room

Israeli family discovers ancient treasure under the living room

Sunday, Israeli authorities said they identified a rare, well-preserved 2,000-year-old Jewish ritual bath hidden beneath the floorboards of a Jerusalem home.

Oriya looks down at the ladder from her living room, leading to an ancient Jewish ritual bath (mikveh), dating from the Second Temple Period and believed to be over 2,000 years old.

The discovery in Ein Kerem neighborhood in Jerusalem, archeologists said, sheds new light on the area’s ancient Jewish and early Christian communities.

But the discovery might be most noteworthy because the couple that owns the home literally kept the treasure hidden under a rug for three years before choosing to come clean.

In an interview, the wife said the family found evidence of the mikveh, or Jewish ritual bath while renovating their home three years ago.

Construction workers were using heavy machinery that sunk through a hole, leading the crew to discover the bath.

She said that she and her husband were unsure of the significance and continued with the planned construction. But they also preserved the discovery, adding a pair of wooden doors in the floor to allow access to the bath and concealing the entrance with a rug.

The couple’s curiosity, however, persisted. Earlier this week, they contacted the Israeli Antiquities Authority and reported their finding. The family asked that their names be withheld to protect their privacy.

Amit Reem, an archaeologist with the authority, estimated the ritual bath dates back to the first century B.C., around the time of the Second Jewish Temple.

The bath remains largely intact and includes a staircase leading to what was once a pool. Archeologists also found pottery and unique stone vessels dating to the same period.

According to Christian tradition, John the Baptist is said to have been born in the Jewish community around Ein Kerem around the first century. Reem said the discovery adds to the physical evidence of the Jewish community in the area, which he said has been “sporadic.”

Reem said it is not uncommon for households around Jerusalem to unearth Jewish antiquities under their floorboards, though he did not know how many cases there were.

The family does not have to move and will keep the ritual bath preserved with the help of the Antiquities Authority.

Ancient buildings found in Russia which is 25,000 years old

25,000-Year-Old Buildings Found In Russia

In Russia, in the Caucasus mountains, not far from the cities Tzelentzchik, Touapse, Novorossiysk and Sochi, there are hundreds of megalithic monuments.

The Russians call them dolmens. Russian and foreign archaeologists have not yet discovered their use. All these megalithic dolmens you see below in the pictures are dated from 10,000 years to 25,000 years ago, according to the website Kykeon. Other archaeologists put the age of these megalithic structures at 4000 to 6,000 years old.

Thousands of prehistoric megalithic monuments are known throughout the world. Some of the least known outside the former Soviet Union, however, are those in the Caucasus. These dolmens cover the Western Caucasus on both sides of the mountain ridge, in an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometers of Russia and Abkhazia.

The Caucasian dolmens represent a unique type of prehistoric architecture, built with precisely dressed cyclopic stone blocks.

The stones were, for example, shaped into 90-degree angles, to be used as corners or were curved to make a perfect circle. The monuments date between the end of the 4th millennium and the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C.

While generally unknown in the rest of Europe, these Russian megaliths are equal to the great megaliths of Europe in terms of age and quality of architecture but are still of an unknown origin.

The Caucasian dolmens represent a unique type of prehistoric architecture, built with precisely dressed large stone blocks. The stones were, for example, shaped into 90-degree angles, to be used as corners or were curved to make a circle.

In spite of the variety of Caucasian monuments, they show strong similarities with megaliths from different parts of Europe and Asia, like the Iberian Peninsula, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Israel, and India. A range of hypotheses has been put forward to explain these similarities and the building of megaliths on the whole, but still, it remains unclear.

Approximately 3,000 of these megalithic monuments are known in the Western Caucasus, but more are constantly being found, while more and more are also being destroyed. Today, many are in great disrepair and will be completely lost if they are not protected from vandals and general neglect.

Ancient buildings found in Russia which is 25,000 years old

The dolmens are found in the area of Krasnodar. Krasnodar is a city and the administrative center of Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Kuban River about 148 kilometers (92 mi) northeast of the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

Concentrations of megaliths, dolmens, and stone labyrinths have been found (but little studied) throughout the Caucasus Mountains, including Abkhazia.

Most of them are represented by rectangular structures made of stone slabs or cut in rocks with holes in their facade. These dolmens cover the Western Caucasus on both sides of the mountain ridge, in an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometers of Russia and Abkhazia.

The dolmens have a limited variety in their architecture. The floor plans are square, trapezoidal, rectangular, and round. All of the dolmens are punctuated with a portal in the center of the facade. While round portholes are the most common, square ones are also found. In front of the facade is a court that usually splays out, creating an area where rituals possibly took place.

The court is usually outlined by large stone walls, sometimes over a meter high, which encloses the court. It is in this area that Bronze and Iron Age pottery has been found – which helped date these tombs -, along with human remains, bronze tools and silver, gold, and semi-precious stone ornaments.

The repertoire of decoration for these tombs is not great. Vertical and horizontal zigzags, hanging triangles and concentric circles are the most common motifs.

One decorative motif that is quite common is found across the top of the porthole slab. It can best be described as a lintel held up by two columns. Pairs of breasts, done in relief, have also been found on a few tombs. These breasts usually appear above the two columns of the porthole decoration.

Perhaps related to these are the stone plugs, which were used to block the porthole, and are found with almost every tomb. They are sometimes phallic-shaped. Some unusual items associated with dolmens are big round stone balls, double balls, and animal sculptures.

One of the most interesting megalithic complexes – a group of three dolmens – stands in a row on a hill above Zhane River on the Black Sea coast in the Krasnodar area near Gelendzhik, Russia. In this area, there is a great concentration of all types of megalithic sites including settlements and dolmen cemeteries. Large stone mounds surrounded the two monuments.