Category Archives: ASIA

5,000-Year-Old Cultic Area Unearthed in Iraq

Ritual site of a Mesopotamian god of war found in Iraq that was used for animal sacrifices

Archaeologists have discovered 5,000-year-old sacred places in Iraq for 5,000 years which have been used for rituals intended to appease a Mesopotamian warrior god.

The team working at the Telloh site believes it was used for parties, animal sacrifices and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero-god of war, hunting and weather.

Next to the pit were cups, bowls, jars and animal bones which, according to experts, are the remains of animal sacrifices. However, a bronze duck-shaped object was also discovered that may have been dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, swamps and water birds, LiveScience reported. The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was the city of ancient Sumer, one of the first cities in the world.

5,000-Year-Old Cultic Area Unearthed in Iraq
A sacred plaza has laid hidden in Iraq for 5,000 years that was used for rituals to appease a Mesopotamian warrior-god and a recent excavation has uncovered its gruesome past. Archaeologists working at the site in Telloh discovered the area was used for feasts, animal sacrifices and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero-god of war, hunting and weather.

A sacred place has been hidden in Iraq for 5,000 years and has been used for rituals to appease a Mesopotamian warrior god and a recent excavation has exposed its horrible past. Archaeologists working at the Telloh site have discovered that the area was used for festivals, animal sacrifices and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero-god of war, hunting and weather

The area has been of interest to archaeologists for years, as it is home to important Sumerian remains and artefacts. Recently, experts have investigated the centre of Girsu where the Ningirsu temple once stood.

Here they found more than 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and beakers, all of which have been damaged over time. There was also a treasure trove of animal bones hidden under the dirt, which archaeologists say are remains of the animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit.

Here they have found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and spouted vessels, all which have been damaged over time
There was also a trove of animal bones hiding under the dirt, which archaeologists believe are remains from the animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit
The cite was used some 5,000 years ago to appease a Mesopotamian war god

Here they found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and beakers, all of which have been damaged over time. There was also a treasure trove of animal bones hidden under the dirt, which archaeologists believe to be the remains of animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit

The city was used about 5,000 years ago to appease a Mesopotamian god of war. A bronze figurine that looks like a duck has also been discovered, which the team, who told LiveScience in an email, believe they were dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, swamps and water birds, as well as a vase engraved with text on the goddess.

Sébastien Rey, director of the Tello / Ancient Girsu project at the British Museum, and Tina Greenfield, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Saskatchewan, led this excavation at the site.

The area has been of interests to archaeologists for years, as it holds important Sumerian remains and artefacts. Recently experts have been investigating the centre of Girsu where the temple of Ningirsu was once standing
The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was the city of ancient Sumer -one of the earliest cities in the world

The area has been of interest to archaeologists for years, as it is home to important Sumerian remains and artefacts. Experts recently investigated the centre of Girsu, where the Ningirsu temple once stood

The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was the city of ancient Sumer – one of the first cities in the world. Because a thick layer of ash was found on the ground, the team speculates that massive parties have taken place in the area.

These clues link the region to the place “where, according to cuneiform texts, religious festivals were held and where the people of Girsu gathered to feast and honour their gods,” said Rey and Greenfield in the email.

Clay tablets, also known as cuneiform tablets found in Girsu, depict residents holding religious ceremonies in the sacred square. The text tells of a religious celebration in honour of Ningirsu that took place twice a year and lasted three or four days, said Rey and Greenfield.

WHAT IS OLD MESOPOTAMIA?

A historic area of ​​the Middle East that covers most of what is now known as Iraq, but which also extends to include parts of Syria and Turkey. The term “Mesopotamia” comes from Greek, which means “between two rivers”.

The two rivers to which the name refers are the Tiger and the Euphrates. Unlike many other empires (such as the Greeks and Romans), Mesopotamia was made up of many different cultures and groups.

Mesopotamia should be better understood as a region which has produced several empires and civilizations rather than any civilization. Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of civilization” mainly due to two developments: the invention of the “city” as we know it today and the invention of writing.

Mesopotamia is an ancient region of the Middle East that is most of modern Iraq and parts of other countries. They invented cities, the wheel and agriculture and gave women almost equal rights

Thought to be responsible for many early developments, he is also credited with the invention of the wheel. They also gave the world the first massive domestication of animals, cultivated large tracts of land, and invented tools and weapons.

In addition to these practical developments, the region has seen the birth of wine, beer and the delimitation of time in hours, minutes and seconds. The fertile land between the two rivers is believed to have provided a comfortable existence for hunter-gatherers which led to the agricultural revolution.

A common thread throughout the region is the equal treatment of women. Women enjoyed almost equal rights and could own land, file for divorce, own their own business, and enter into commercial contracts.

5,000-year-old Iraqi city discovered under a 10 meter-deep mound

5,000-year-old Iraqi city discovered under a 10 meter-deep mound

In the Kurdistan province of northern Iraq, an ancient town called ‘Idu’ was discovered. Hidden under a mound of 32 feet (10 meters), it is believed that the city was an entertainment center between 3,300 and 2,900 years ago.

King inscriptions made for walls, tablets, and plinths of the stone show that once it was full of lavish palaces. It is thought the inscription was made by the local kings celebrating the construction of the royal palace.

Archaeologists at the University of Leipzig in Germany spent the next few years excavating the area. They believe the city of Idu spent much of its time under the control of the Assyrian Empire about 3,300 years ago.

The ancient city of Idu is now part of a Tell that rises about 32 feet (10 metres) above the surrounding plain. The modern day name of the site is Satu Qala and a village lies on top of the Tell
This cylinder seal dates back around 2,600 years, to a time after the Assyrians had re-conquered Idu. The seal would show a mythical scene if it was rolled on a piece of clay. It depicts a crouched bowman, who may be the god Ninurta, facing a griffon
The city is thought to have been a hub of activity between 3,300 and 2,900 years ago. The above image shows a living structure, with at least two rooms, that may date to around 2,000 years ago when the Parthian Empire controlled the area in Iraq

But archaeologists also found evidence that it was a fiercely independent city. Its people fought for and won, 140 years of independence before they were reconquered by the Assyrians.

Among the treasures found were artwork showing a bearded sphinx with a human head and the body of a winged lion. Above it was the words: ‘Palace of Ba’auri, king of the land of Idu, son of Edima, also king of the land of Idu.’

They also found a cylinder seal dating back roughly 2,600 years depicting a man crouching before a griffon.

‘We were lucky to be one of the first teams to begin excavations in Iraq after the 2003 war,’ archaeologists Cinzia Pappi told MailOnline.

‘The discovery of ancient Idu at Satu Qala revealed a multicultural capital and a crossroad between northern and southern Iraq and between Iraq and Western Iran in the second and first millennia BC.

‘Particularly the discovery of a local dynasty of kings fills a gap in what scholars had previously thought of as a dark age in the history of ancient Iraq.

‘Together these results have helped to redraw the political and historical map of the development of the Assyrian Empire.’ The city was hidden beneath a mound, called a tell, which is currently home to a village called Satu Qala.

‘For wide-scale excavations to continue, at least some of these houses will have to be removed,’ said archaeologists Cinzia Pappi.

‘Unfortunately, until a settlement is reached between the villagers and the Kurdistan regional government, further work is currently not possible.’

Archaeologists plan to continue excavating the site once they reach an agreement. In the meantime, a study on the materials from the site, now stored in the Erbil Museum of Antiquities, has just been completed in co-operation with the University of Pennsylvania.

Together, the researchers will explore the surrounding area to determine the extent of the kingdom of Idu in its regional context. The findings have been reported in the journal Anatolica.

120,000-Year-Old Footprints Found in Saudi Arabia

120,000-Year-Old Footprints Found in Saudi Arabia

Science Magazine reports that seven hominin footprints dated to some 120,000 years ago with optically stimulated luminescence were identified among hundreds of animal prints in northern Saudi Arabia’s Nefud Desert.

They may have paused for a drink of freshwater or to track herds of elephants, wild asses, and camels that were trampling the mudflats. Within hours of passing through, the humans’ and animals’ footprints dried out and eventually fossilized.

Now, these ancient footsteps offer rare evidence of when and where early humans once inhabited the Arabian Peninsula. “These are the first genuine human footprints of Arabia,” says archaeologist and team leader Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

These footprints were made by ancient humans’ muddy feet as they traversed a lakeshore in Saudi Arabia about 120,000 years ago.

The Arabian Peninsula has long been considered the obvious route that early members of our species took as they trekked out of Africa and migrated to the Middle East and Eurasia.

Stone tools have suggested ancient humans explored the Arabian Peninsula at various times in prehistory when the climate was wetter and its harsh deserts were transformed into green grasslands punctuated with freshwater lakes.

Yet so far, researchers have only found a single human finger bone dating to 88,000 years to prove modern humans, rather than some other hominin toolmaker, lived there.

After a decade of scouring the Arabian Peninsula using satellite imagery and ground-truthing, Petraglia and his international colleagues have identified tens of thousands of ancient freshwater lakebeds, including one in the Nefud dubbed “Alathar,” meaning “the trace” in Arabic. Here, they spotted hundreds of footprints on a heavily trampled lakebed surface, which had recently been exposed when overlying sediments eroded.

Almost 400 tracks were left by animals, including a wild ass, a giant buffalo, elephants, and camels. Only seven were confidently identified as human footprints.

But by comparing the size and shape of these tracks with those made by modern humans and Neanderthals, the researchers conclude the tracks were likely made by people with long feet, taller stature, and smaller mass: Homo sapiens, rather than Neanderthals, as they report today in Science Advances.

The age of the sediments also suggests H. sapiens made the tracks, the researchers say. Using a method called optically stimulated luminescence, which measures electrons to infer when layers of sediment were last exposed to light, the team dated the sediments above and below the footprints to 121,000 and 112,000 years.

At that date, “Neanderthals were absent from the Levant [Middle East],” says co-author Mathew Stewart of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. “Therefore, we argue that H. sapiens was likely responsible for the footprints.”

A lot rests on the dates, however. Geochronologist Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong notes some uncertainties with dating methods at the site—including older ages for animal fossils and potential issues with calculating the precise rate of decay of uranium in the sediments. The dates for the footprints “might be in the right ballpark,” he says, “but more could be done to validate them.”

The team can’t entirely exclude Neanderthals, says paleoanthropologist Marta Mirazón Lahr of the University of Cambridge, because the fossil record is so spotty in Arabia. But she thinks H. sapiens is the more likely candidate.

Even more intriguing, she notes, the footprints show the humans were capable of moving long distances between Africa and Arabia and must have had fairly large foraging parties to have been able to penetrate deep into the rich interior wetlands of Arabia.

The rare association of human and animal footprints laid down on the same day or so also offers a rare glimpse of a day in the life of an ancient human. Usually, animal and human fossils found in the same fossil bed were buried hundreds, if not thousands, of years apart and never laid eyes on each other.

“These footprints give us a unique snapshot of the humans living in this area at the same time as the animals,” says paleoanthropologist Kevin Hatala of Chatham University in Pittsburgh, an expert on ancient footprints. “That tight association in time is what’s so exciting to me.”

100-million-year old giant sperm found trapped in amber

100-million-year old giant sperm found trapped in amber

The world’s oldest animal sperm has been found in a tiny crustacean trapped in Amber about 100 million years ago in Myanmar by the international partnership of researchers from London’s Queen Mary University and the Chinese Academy of Science in Nanjing.

Dr. He Wang of the Chinese Academy of Science in Nanjing led the study team to locate sperm in a new species called Myanmarcypris hui. They predict that the animals had sex just before their entrapment in the piece of amber (tree resin), which formed in the Cretaceous period.

Sperm fossilized was exceptionally rare;  previously the oldest known examples were only 17 million years old. Myanmarcypris hui is an ostracod, a kind of crustacean that has existed for 500 million years and lives in all kinds of aquatic environments from deep oceans to lakes and rivers.

One of the ostracods trapped in amber.

Their fossil shells are common and abundant but finding specimens preserved in ancient amber with their appendages and internal organs intact provides a rare and exciting opportunity to learn more about their evolution.

Professor Dave Horne, Professor of Micropalaeontology at Queen Mary University of London said: “Analyses of fossil ostracod shells are hugely informative about past environments and climates, as well as shedding light on evolutionary puzzles, but exceptional occurrences of fossilized soft parts like this result in remarkable advances in our understanding.”

Besides a few insects, 39 ostracod crustaceans were entrapped in this tiny piece of Cretaceous amber found in Myanmar, including one containing the world’s oldest sperm cells.

During the Cretaceous period in what is now Myanmar, the ostracods were probably living in a coastal lagoon fringed by trees where they became trapped in a blob of tree resin.

The Kachin amber of Myanmar has previously yielded outstanding finds including frogs, snakes, and a feathered dinosaur tail. Bo Wang, also of the Chinese Academy of Science in Nanjing added: “Hundreds of new species have been described in the past five years, and many of them have made evolutionary biologists re-consider long-standing hypotheses on how certain lineages developed and how ecological relationships evolved.”

The study, published in Royal Society Proceedings B, also has implications for understanding the evolutionary history of an unusual mode of sexual reproduction involving “giant sperm.”

The new ostracod finds may be extremely small but in one sense they are giants. Males of most animals (including humans) typically produce tens of millions of really small sperm in very large quantities, but there are exceptions.

Some tiny fruit flies (insects) and ostracods (crustaceans) are famous for investing in quality rather than quantity: relatively small numbers of “giant” sperm that are many times longer than the animal itself, a by-product of evolutionary competition for reproductive success.

The new discovery is not only by far the oldest example of fossil sperm ever found but also shows that these ostracods had already evolved giant sperm, and specially-adapted organs to transfer them from male to female, 100 million years ago.

Each ostracod is less than a millimeter long. Using X-ray microscopy the team made computer-aided 3-D reconstructions of the ostracods embedded in the amber, revealing incredible detail.

A 3D reconstruction of the female ostracod. 
Artist’s reconstruction of the Cretaceous ostracod crustacean Myanmarcypris hui male (right) and female (left) during mating.

“The results were amazing — not only did we find their tiny appendages to be preserved inside their shells, but we could also see their reproductive organs,” added He Wang. “But when we identified the sperm inside the female and knowing the age of the amber, it was one of those special Eureka-moments in a researcher’s life.”

Wang’s team found adult males and females but it was a female specimen that contained the sperm, indicating that it must have had sex shortly before becoming trapped in the amber.

The reconstructions also revealed the distinctive muscular sperm pumps and penises (two of each) that male ostracods use to inseminate the females, who store them in bag-like receptacles until eggs are ready to be fertilized.

Such extensive adaptation raises the question of whether reproduction with giant sperms can be an evolutionarily-stable character. “To show that using giant sperms in reproduction is not an extinction-doomed extravagance of evolution, but a serious long-term advantage for the survival of a species, we need to know when they first appeared,” says co-author Dr. Renate Matzke-Karasz of Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.

This new evidence of the persistence of reproduction with giant sperm for a hundred million years shows it to be a highly successful reproductive strategy that evolved only once in this group — quite impressive for a trait that demands such a substantial investment from both males and females, especially when you consider that many ostracods can reproduce asexually, without needing males at all.

“Sexual reproduction with giant sperm must be very advantageous,” says Matzke-Karasz.

The 2,600-year-old palace is found buried under the ruins of a shrine blown up by Isis in Mosul

The 2,600-Year-old palace is found buried under the ruins of a shrine blown up by Isis in Mosul

Archaeologists assessing the damage caused by Islamic State militants to the tomb of the prophet of Jonah have made a surprise discovery. Experts found a previously untouched palace dating back to 600BC buried under the ruins of Jonah’s desecrated resting place.

The Nebi Yunus shrine – containing what Muslims and Christians believe to be the tomb of Jonah or ‘Yunnus’ as he is known in the Koran – was destroyed by ISIS militants in July 2014.

Weeks after overrunning Mosul and much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland, ISIS militants rigged the shrine and blew it up, sparking global outrage.  ISIS militants believe giving special veneration to tombs and relics is against the teachings of Islam.

Archaeologists assessing the damage caused by Islamic State militants to the tomb of the prophet of Jonah have found an undiscovered palace. Here, a member of the Iraqi army stands next to Assyrian stone sculptures of demi-goddesses, pictured spreading the ‘water of life’

The shrine holding Jonah’s tomb is located on top of a hill in eastern Mosul, a city in northern Iraq with a population of around 660,000 that was retaken from ISIS control by Iraqi army forces last month.

Archaeologists have been picking through ancient rubble left behind by the terror group as they attempt to salvage surviving artefacts. They told the Telegraph that ISIS dug tunnels deep under the shrine and into a previously undiscovered and untouched palace dating back to 600BC. These tunnels were not professionally built, leaving them unstable and at risk of collapse within the next few weeks, burying the ancient palace.

‘We fear it could all collapse at any time,’ entombing the treasures, said archaeologist Layla Salih, who is in charge of antiquities for the Nineveh province where the shrine stands.

The impressive maze of tunnels dug by the jihadists to carry out excavations is located in the heart of the hill that houses the tomb of the Prophet Jonah. These demi-goddess sculptures were carved into the walls over 2,000 years ago

‘There are cave-ins in the tunnels every day.’

It had long been rumoured that the shrine shared a site with an ancient palace.  Excavations had previously been carried out by the Ottoman governor of Mosul in 1852. The Iraqi Department of antiques also studied the site in the 1950s.

But neither excavation had dug as far as the ISIS militants, leaving the palace undiscovered for 2,600 years. The finding is the first example of ISIS militants tunnelling underneath historic sites to find artefacts to loot. Within one of the ISIS tunnels, archaeologists found a marble inscription of King Esarhaddon, thought to date back to the Assyrian empire in 672BC.

The palace was renovated and expanded by King Esarhaddon after it was built for his father Sennacherib. It was partly destroyed during a ransacking as part of the Battle of Nineveh in 612 BC.

Only a handful of these ‘cuneiform’ slabs have ever been uncovered from the Esarhaddon period. Archaeologists also unearthed two Assyrian empire-era winged bull sculptures within the Jihadist tunnels.

Excavations had previously been carried out by the Ottoman governor of Mosul in 1852. And the Iraqi department of antiques studied the site in the 1950s. But neither excavation had dug as far as the ISIS militants, who dug tunnels, such as those pictured here, deep into the earth

Two murals in white marble show the winged bulls with only the sides and feet showing.  In another section of ISIS tunnel, the archaeologists found Assyrian stone sculptures of a demi-goddess, pictured spreading the ‘water of life’ to protect humans.

Mrs Salih said that some of the larger sculptures were likely left behind by ISIS because they feared the hill might collapse. Other removable artefacts, especially pottery, were certainly plundered, she said.

‘I’ve never seen something like this in stone at this large size,’ Professor Eleanor Robson, chair of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, told The Telegraph.

Professor Robson suggested they may have been used to decorate the women’s quarter of the palace. The objects don’t match descriptions of what we thought was down there, so Isis’s destruction has actually led us to a fantastic find.’

An Iraqi soldier standing in a section of excavated ISIS tunnel. It had long been rumoured that the shrine shared a site with an ancient palace. Excavations had previously been carried out by the Iraqi department of antiques in the 1950s, but they found nothing

‘There’s a huge amount of history down there, not just ornamental stones.  It is an opportunity to finally map the treasure-house of the world’s first great empire, from the period of its greatest success.’

Mrs Salih, who is leading the five-person team carrying out the emergency documentation of Jonah’s tomb, believes that ISIS forces looted hundreds of objects before Mosul was retaken by Iraqi forces.

‘I can only imagine how much Daesh discovered down there before we got here,’ she said.

‘We believe they took many of the artefacts, such as pottery and smaller pieces, away to sell. But what they left will be studied and will add a lot to our knowledge of the period.’

The Nebi Yunus shrine – containing what Muslims and Christians believe to be the tomb of Jonah or ‘Yunnus’ as he is known in the Koran – was destroyed by ISIS militants in July 2014
The shrine holding Jonah’s tomb is located on top of a hill in eastern Mosul, a city in northern Iraq with a population of around 660,000 that was retaken from ISIS control by Iraqi army forces last month

As the city of Mosul was finally retaken, Iraqi forces battling Islamic State unveiled the destruction left behind by the jihadis last month in a series of devastating photographs. The terrorist group who levelled many of the city’s most well-known Muslim artefacts and buildings.

‘We retook control of Nabi Yunus area… raised the Iraqi flag above the tomb,’ said Sabah al-Noman, spokesman for the Counter-Terrorism Service spearheading the Mosul offensive. The destruction of all bridges over the river in airstrikes has made it difficult for IS fighters in east Mosul to resupply or escape to the west bank, which they still fully control.

The western side of Mosul, which is home to the old city and some of the jihadists’ traditional bastions, was always tipped as likely to offer the most resistance.

World-first Perfectly Preserved Ice age bear found in Russia

World-first Perfectly Preserved Ice age bear found in Russia

In the Russian Arctic, the fully preserved remains of an Ice Age cave bear were discovered – the first specimen of the animal that has ever been identified with soft tissues.

The remarkable discovery was found in the Lyakhovsky Islands in the Far North of Russia Part of the Modern Siberian Islands, find was made by reindeer herders 

Previously only the bones of the cave bears had been found, but this specimen even had its nose intact, according to a team of scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, Siberia.

A head of an Ice Age cave bear found on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island, or Great Lyakhovsky, the largest of the Lyakhovsky Islands belonging to the New Siberian Islands archipelago between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea in northern Russia. Reindeer herders in a Russian Arctic archipelago have found an immaculately preserved carcass of an Ice Age cave bear revealed by the melting permafrost, which has all its internal organs, teeth, and even its nose intact.

The discovery is of “world importance,” a leading Russian expert on extinct Ice Age species said.

In a statement released by the university, scientist Lena Grigorieva said: “Today 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.

World-first Perfectly Preserved Ice age bear found in Russia
The Ice Age-era bear was found on the Lyakhovsky Islands in north-east Russia

“Previously, only skulls and bones were found. This find is of great importance for the whole world.”

The adult animal was found by a group of reindeer herders, who then transferred the right to research the specimen to the NEFU, which is at the forefront of research into extinct woolly mammoths and rhinos.

According to the team, the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is a prehistoric species or sub-species that lived in Eurasia in the Middle and Late Pleistocene period and became extinct some 15,000 years ago. Preliminary analysis suggests the bear is between 22,000 and 39,500 years old.

Maxim Cheprasov, the senior researcher from the Mammoth Museum laboratory in Yakutsk, said in the statement: “It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear.”

Scientists have not yet been able to visit the site of the discovery — the ancient carcass was found a long way from Yakutsk, which itself is more than 5,000 miles from Moscow.

Significant discoveries, including mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies, and cave lion cubs, have been made in Siberia in recent years as the permafrost melts.

1,200-Year-Old Sculpture Unearthed in Southern India

1,200-Year-Old Sculpture Unearthed in Southern India

The Hindu reports that an eighth-century A.D. sculpture of Lord Vishnu, one of the principal Hindu deities.

M. Maruthu Pandiyan of the Madurai Government Museum said the style of the sculpture corresponds to the Pandya dynasty, a Tamil-speaking group that ruled in South India and Sri Lanka as early as the fourth century B.C.

An eight century Common Era (CE) sculpture of Lord Vishnu, belonging to the Pandya period, was found at the western bank of the Gundaru river at Ulagani village of Kallikudi block in southern India by a team of researchers from Madurai Kamaraj University.

Madurai Government Museum Curator M. Maruthu Pandiyan and Udhayakumar, a researcher, checked the sculpture based on the information provided by Kannan, a Tamil student of a college affiliated to Madurai Kamaraj University, and Sangaiah, a professor from the college.

Mr. Maruthu Pandiyan said the features of the sculpture indicated that it belongs to the Pandya period. “Mainly, the sacred thread of the sculpture goes above the right forearm and a broad ‘kanthi’ (necklet) studded with big gems adorns the neck.

Similar sculptures of the Pandya period have been found in various places such as Thirumalapuram, Tirupparankundram, and Sevalpatti,” he said.

The sculpture has four hands. Among them, two arms are held up vertically. The right arm has a broken chakra and in the left arm a conch. “The chakra and conch are the main features of the Pandya period,” said Mr. Maruthu Pandiyan.

An eight century Common Era (CE) sculpture of Lord Vishnu, belonging to the Pandya period, was found at the western bank of the Gundaru river at Ulagani village of Kallikudi block in Madurai.

The village has also been mentioned in a book about the inscriptions of the Madurai district, which was released by the State Archaeology Department.

The book mentions that this village had an old name, ‘Kulasegara chathurvethimangalam or Ulagunimangalam.”

Also, a 13th-century Pandya inscription mentioned that the local village administrators had levied a special tax called ‘pasipaattam’ tax (a tax on fishing) for the renovation of the tank.

An Ancient society is 2,500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids

An Ancient society is 2,500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids

Ancient Egypt may appear as the epitome of an advanced early civilisation to many by its impressive pyramids and complex rules. However, recent research reveals the civilization of the Indus Valley in India and Pakistan, known for its well-planned settlements and outstanding art, before Egypt and Mesopotamia.

With its impressive pyramids and complex rules Ancient Egypt may seem to many the epitome of an advanced early civilisation. However, new evidence suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation in India and Pakistan, famed for its well-planned cities and impressive crafts, predates Egypt and Mesopotamia

Experts now assume that it is 8,000 years old – 2,500 years older than commonly believed – and still considered one of the oldest cultures in the world. Their study also sheds new light on why the seemingly flourishing civilization collapsed.

A team of researchers from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Institute of Archaeology, Deccan College Pune, and IIT Kharagpur, have analyzed pottery fragments and animal bones from the Bhirrana in the north of the country using carbon-dating methods.

‘Based on radiocarbon ages from different trenches and levels the settlement at Bhirrana has been inferred to be the oldest (>9 ka BP) in the Indian sub-continent,’ the experts wrote in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal. 

They used also used ‘optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) method’ to check the dating and investigate whether the climate changed when the civilization was thriving, to fill ‘a critical gap in information … [about] the Harappan [Indus Valley] civilization.’

While more tests are required, the study suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation pre-dates those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which are also famed for their impressive ability to build organized cities.

It’s thought the civilization spread across parts of what is now Pakistan and northwest India in the Bronze Age and at its peak, some five million people lived in one million square miles along citadels built near the basins of the Indus River.

‘Based on radiocarbon ages from different trenches and levels the settlement at Bhirrana has been inferred to be the oldest (>9 ka BP) in the Indian sub-continent,’ the experts wrote in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal
Indian caretaker Hirabhai Makwana inspects the ancient bricks at the drainage site in the ancient town of Lothal. While more tests are required, the study suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation pre-dates those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which are also famed for their impressive ability to build organised cities

Pottery and metals discovered at various ancient sites in the region indicate the people were skilled craftsmen and metallurgists, able to work copper, bronze, lead, and tin, as well as bake bricks and control the supply and drainage of water.

Anindya Sarkar, a professor at the department of geology and geophysics at IIT Kharagpur, told International Business Times: ‘Our study pushes back the antiquity to as old as 8th millennium before present and will have major implications to the evolution of human settlements in Indian sub-continent.’ 

The archaeological sites at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan, show the ancient people were adept town planners and farmers.

Discovered in the 1920s, the Unesco site of Mohenjo-Daro is one of the largest and most advanced settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation, with streets arranged round rectangular brick houses, two large assembly halls, a market place, public baths, and a central well.

Individual households got their water from smaller wells and wastewater was channelled into main streets, with some more lavish properties boasting their own bath and a second storey.

It’s thought the civilization spread across parts of what is now Pakistan and northwest India in the Bronze Age and at its peak, some five million people lived in one million square miles along citadels built near the basins of the Indus River
Indian caretaker Hirabhai Makwana inspects the ancient bricks at the Acropolis site. Experts have previously suggested the seemingly successful and advanced civilization was gradually wiped out when the Indus River dried up as the result of climate change

Experts have previously suggested the seemingly successful and advanced civilization was gradually wiped out when the Indus River dried up as the result of climate change. There are many other theories too, including an Aryan invasion, catastrophic floods, changing sea levels, societal violence, and the spread of infectious diseases.

But the team has come up with a new theory.

‘Our study suggests that the climate was probably not the cause of Harappan decline,’ they wrote.

While the ancient people relied upon heavy and regular monsoons between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago to water their crops, after this period, evidence at Bhirrana shows people continued to survive despite changing weather patterns.

‘Increasing evidence suggests that these people shifted their crop patterns from the large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the later part of declining monsoon and thereby changed their subsistence strategy,’ they continued.

However, changing the crops they grew and harvested resulted in the ‘de-urbanization’ of cities and no need for large food storage facilities. Instead, the people swapped to personal storage spaces to look after their families.

‘Because these later crops generally have a much lower yield, the organized large storage system of mature Harappan period was abandoned giving rise to smaller more individual household-based crop processing and storage system and could act as a catalyst for the de-urbanization of the Harappan civilization rather than an abrupt collapse,’ the team wrote.