Eerie train graveyard gives a glimpse into the golden age of Soviet steam trains
In Russia’s central Perm region, near the village of Shumkovo, a cemetery lies on the sidetrack. Instead of tombs and headstones, it is filled with trains from the 20th century.
There are dozens of steam locomotives, the oldest dating back to 1936 and the youngest from 1956. They sit on rusty rails, in the middle of overgrown vegetation.
During the Soviet era, the location served as a backup railway base in case of nuclear war. At that time, around 140 locomotives were docked there. But, as electric power replaced steam, these reserve trains hit the end of the line.
As railway authorities waned, maintenance work on the locomotives eventually came to a complete halt, leaving the way for rust.
Many of the trains have bought and taken away by Chinese owners. Others have been restored to become exhibits at museums and memorials.
Grigoriy Gordeyev has managed the place for 30 years and resists calls to have the locomotives scrapped down for metal.
“You can see for yourself how they (the locomotives) are living out their lives, just standing there,” he says.
“People are interested, they come here, take photos, observe. It’s our history after all.”
Visitor and photographer Alexander Osipov, also believes that the trains take you on a trip back in time.
“It’s like you go several decades into the past, especially when you get inside a steam train. There are all these levers, which someone touched, you get this feeling. You really feel that there are fascists and the Red Army are running just outside the window. It is all really very interesting,” he says.
According to museum manager Alexander Yemelyanov, Russian steam locomotives dating to early 20th century are a rarity nowadays.
“Trains were mass-produced technology and the attitude towards them was neither reverent nor very serious. They were sent to be melted for disposal. And unfortunately, many types of locomotives at the beginning of the 20th century were not preserved,” he explains.
A 2,100-year-old statue of Cybele the Anatolian mother goddess unearthed in northwestern Turkey
An approximate 2,100-year old Cybele’s rare marble statue, Anatolia’s mother goddess, has been discovered in excavations on the Black Sea coast of Northern Ordu province.
The historic sculpture of Cybele sitting on her throne weighed a whopping 200 kilograms and was about 110 centimetres tall.
The statue is also the first marble statue found in Turkey in its original place.
The ancient artefact was unearthed in excavations launched by a team of 25 archaeologists led by the head of the Department of Archeology in Gazi University, Prof. Dr Süleyman Yücel Şenyurt, in the 2,300-year-old Kurul Kalesi, or the Council Fortress.
“We are continuing our work non-stop. Two days ago we found an extraordinary artefact.
According to our research, the statue remained intact after the walls of the entrance of the fortress of Kurul collapsed during an invasion by Roman soldiers.
This statue has also shown us that the fortress of Kurul in Ordu was a very important settlement [in ancient times],” Prof. Şenyurt said.
Saying that it was an incredibly rare find, the professor said that they were proud to unearth such an artefact in Turkey. He also said that the priceless statue would be later on transferred to the archaeology museum in Ordu.
The professor also said that the first attempts to conduct excavations in the area were made about 6 years ago, but had been postponed for various reasons.
Meanwhile, Mayor Enver Yılmaz also pledged to provide TL 500,000 in funds to all excavations in the fortress of Kurul.
He also said that the fortress will be turned into an open-air museum in the near future and hopes the excavations will contribute to tourism in the region as well as in Turkey.
The excavations in the fortress are also the first archaeological diggings on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.
Cybele, an Anatolian mother goddess, is the symbol of prosperity with her pregnant belly, seated on her throne.
In Anatolian mythology, she was the personification of the earth. In Greek mythology in which she was equated to Earth-goddess Gaia, Cybele was mostly associated with fertile nature, mountains, town and city walls, as well as wild animals such as lions.
Ancient goddess statue unearthed in central Turkey
In central Anatolia, at the site of Kültepe, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kanesh, several goddess statues have been found, Yeni Şafak reports.
Fikri Kulakoğlu of Ankara University said that the largest of the 4,200-year-old statues unearthed this excavation season stands about 17 inches tall.
“We are happy to have found a 45-centimetre-high [17 inches] artefact, a statue. This is a very special piece,” Fikri Kulakoglu, a professor from the Ankara University and head of the excavation team, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
Kultepe, which was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Kanesh, is 20 kilometres from the central Kayseri province. It was accepted in the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage in 2014.
Kulakoglu said the goddess statue is being cleaned of dust to be displayed in a museum.
“This artefact is around 4,200 years old,” he said, adding that all of the statues, statuettes, idols found in Kultepe are women figurines.
“No idols of men have been found so far… the women statues are naked and have a decorated throne, and there are braids on their back,” he said.
Highlighting that the finding is unique, he said: “It is a very special piece for us… it is one of the most precious works showing religious beliefs of this region, of Kultepe.”
The professor said they found around 20 new artefacts during this year’s excavations, all of which are of great importance.
This year’s work was being carried out with a limited number of people due to the coronavirus pandemic, he added.
Byzantine Amphora Found By Swimmer At Cretan Beach
An ancient amphora, which is a vase that was historically used to store and transport things such as wine, oil and grain was discovered by a man who was swimming at Arina beach in Heraklion, Crete.
Admittedly, this is more likely if your holiday is in Crete than Gran Canaria, but it’s what happened to one man who had been swimming from his hotel beach.
When he got back inside, he looked at his photos and noticed something round and bobbing in the water. At first, he thought it could be a floating human head.
That would clearly be of concern, so he alerted the beach lifeguard and took a surfboard out to investigate what it was on Thursday.
It was not a human head In fact it was a 12th century Byzantine amphora found by a man out for a swim In fact it was an amphora, a kind of vase used to store and transport things like wine, oil or grain.
Although it was covered in shells and other debris from the sea, it was intact and is believed to date from the Byzantine period in the 12th or 13th centuries. It will be handed over to the Directorate of Antiquities, local media reported.
The amphora was found at Arina beach by Heraklio in North Crete. Authorities warned that any historical artefacts like this had to be declared as they are property of the Greek state.
People should not move them, however, as this could damage them. Instead, they should give details of where they can be found.
More than 4,500 Skeletons Discovered in Islamic Necropolos in Spain
CNN reports that more than 4,500 graves have been identified at a cemetery in northeastern Spain, in an area thought to have been largely untouched by the Arab invasion of the Iberian peninsula in the early eighth century A.D.
In an 8th-century burial ground in the town of Tauste, near Zaragoza in Aragon, the tombs were uncovered, Eva Gimenez, an archaeologist currently excavating the region with the archaeology firm Paleoymás, told CNN.
By 711, Arab forces had invaded and begun to conquer the Iberian peninsula. They remained for the next seven centuries until 1492, when the area was totally reconquered by the Christian kingdoms.
Muslim occupation of Tauste had been considered “incidental and even non-existent” by traditional and written sources, researchers from the University of the Basque Country have said — but the region’s cultural association had long suspected the area had been home to a large Islamic settlement because of architectural clues and human remains found in the town, Miriam Pina Pardos, director of the Anthropological Observatory of the Islamic Necropolis of Tauste with the El Patiaz cultural association, told CNN.
From 711 to 1492, the boundaries between the Christian north and the Islamic south shifted constantly with the changing sovereign authority, according to researchers from the University of the Basque Country.
A first dig of the site in 2010 revealed a five-acre necropolis, spread over at least two levels, Pina Pardos said.
DNA studies and carbon dating place remains in the necropolis between the 8th and 11th centuries, according to El Patiaz.
Archaeologists unearth ‘huge number’ of sealed Egyptian sarcophagi Some 44 skeletons were uncovered during smaller excavations in the years following the initial dig, Pina Pardos said, and this year, more than 400 bodies have been found after local authorities ordered an extensive excavation of the area.
“It’s rare to do an excavation and to find 400 tombs. It’s amazing,” she said.
All of the skeletons had been buried according to Islamic customs, positioned to the right and facing southeast toward Mecca, Pina Pardos added.
Experts believe the discovery will challenge previous assumptions about Muslim settlements in the area.
“We can see that the Muslim culture and Islamic presence in this area is more important than we thought,” Gimenez said.
“We can see there was a big Muslim population here in Tauste from the beginning of the presence of Muslims in Spain,” she added.
“It is very important — the 400 Muslim tombs shows the people lived here for centuries,” she said.
The remains will be cataloged, stored for research and studied, Pina Pardos said.
University of Cambridge: Remains of 1,300 scholars are found under a building
Some were sickly Cambridge University scholars, other homeless wayfarers or simply the infirm.
Having fallen on hard times, and being too poor to care for themselves, they all ended up receiving spiritual succour during their last days in the medieval Hospital of St John the Evangelist, set up in 1195.
After they died they were buried in the hospital’s own cemetery whose exact site and scale was a mystery for centuries – until a lecture hall belonging to a Cambridge college needed refurbishing.
To their amazement, archaeologists digging under the Old Divinity School – a Victorian building owned by St John’s College, which was founded in 1511 on the site of the hospital and which takes its name from it – unearthed the cemetery and the remains of 1,300 people.
Details and photographs of the eerie find are made public for the first time.
Experts said it is one of the largest medieval hospital cemeteries ever discovered in Britain and, with on-going DNA analysis of the remains, will help to cast fresh light on life and death in medieval times.
The archaeologists broke out the floors of the Old Divinity School and the team of 20 dug down inside each room.
In a six-month dig, they found some 400 almost perfectly preserved human skeletons and the partial remains of up to 900 more, all dating from the 13th to 15th centuries.
Craig Cessford, of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, said: ‘It was known that the cemetery was in that area, but we didn’t know for definite it was where we were working.
‘It was quite amazing to find.’ Most of the skeletons are of 25 to 45-year-old men. The hospital was run by Augustinian monks, and pregnant women were excluded.
Mr Cessford, 45, said the skeletons were buried in neat rows and once the cemetery was full, more were buried on top.
The names of the dead are a mystery, but the cemetery was found to have had gravel paths, suggesting that people visited their deceased loved ones.
The bodies did not exhibit many serious illnesses and conditions.
The Archaeological Journal, which reports on the findings in its latest issue, says this reflects how medieval hospitals’ main role was ‘spiritual and physical care of the poor and infirm rather than medical treatment of the sick and injured’.
Holding hands for 5,000 years, a couple with mysterious jade rings and dagger
An elderly couple who have held hands for the last five thousand years were revealed by archaeologists in a Bronze Age grave. The skeletons, thought an ancient dignitary and his wife or lover, were uncovered at a burial site overlooking Baikal lake in Siberia.
They were found decorated with unusual rings made of rare white jade, one of which was placed above the man eye socket. It is thought that the couple is from the ancient Bronze Age ‘Glazkov Culture,’ the oldest and deepest lake in the world that lived around Baikal.
Intriguingly, Russian scientists have not yet revealed details of a ‘metal implement’ discovered inside a leather pouch placed between the man’s kneecaps.
Three jade rings were found placed on the male’s chest, while a 20-inch jade dagger, made from the same rare stone, was also unearthed inside the grave.
Archaeologist Dr Dmitry Kichigin, of Irkutsk National Research Technical University, said the rings were ‘somehow connected’ with the pair’s ‘ideas about the afterlife’.
“In the grave we found male and female skeletons, lying on their backs, heads to the west, hand in hand,” he said.
“It would be very interesting to find out the purposes of the massive jade knife, which we found near the woman, was used for.
“We also found some metal implement in a small leather bag between male’s kneecaps.”
Pendants of red deer and musk deer teeth were found on the man’s skull, and around the feet.
But while the male skeleton is complete, rodents have destroyed the upper part of the female.
Dr Kichigin said he believed the couple could be ‘an owner and his concubine’.
The burial site near the lake is at a ‘sacred place for ancient people’, where Neolithic remains were also discovered.
The precise location is being kept secret to avoid it being ransacked by treasure hunters.
“We can expect a lot of interesting discoveries on this archaeological site, so we plan to continue our work next year,” Dr Kichigin told The Siberian Times.
Remains of Two Killed in Vesuvius Eruption Are Discovered at Pompeii
Massimo Osanna, director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, announced the discovery of the remains of two men lying close together in a villa corridor on the outskirts of the ancient city, according to a BBC News report.
This month, excavations at a suburban villa outside ancient Pompeii recovered the bodies of two original dwellers frozen in time nearly 2,000 years ago by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius one fateful morning.
The discovery of the two victims, tentatively recognised by archaeologists as a wealthy Pompeian landowner and a younger enslaved person, gave fresh insight into the eruption that buried the ancient Roman city, which has been a subject of widespread fascination since its rediscovery in the 18th century.
“Massimo Osanna, the departing director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, said in a video released on Saturday by the Ministry of Culture that the finding is an “incredible source of information for us. “He noted that it was a touching discovery with considerable emotional impact as well.
For one thing, the two were dressed in woollen clothing, adding credence to the belief that the eruption occurred in October of 79 A.D. rather than in August of that year as had previously been thought, Mr Osanna said later in a telephone interview.
The Vesuvius eruption was described in an eyewitness account by the Roman magistrate Pliny the Younger as “an extraordinary and alarming scene.” Buried by ash, pumice and rocks, Pompeii and neighbouring cities lay mostly dormant, though intact, until 1748, when King Charles III of Bourbon commissioned the first official excavations of the site.
Since then, much of the ancient city has been unearthed, providing archaeologists and historians with a wealth of information about how its ancient dwellers lived, from their home décor to what they ate to the tools they used.
Using a method refined by the Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1863 and further honed with modern technology, archaeologists last week made plaster casts of the two newly discovered victims. That brings the ranks of Pompeii’s posthumous effigies to more than 100.
In addition to being the first time in half a century that archaeologists created such casts linked to Pompeii — an attempt using cement in the 1990s was not successful — the new casts are also remarkable in the surprising details they captured, including what Mr Osanna described as the “extraordinary drapery” of their woollen clothing.
“They really seem like statues,” he said.
Archaeologists posit that the two victims had sought refuge in an underground cryptoporticus, or corridor, before being engulfed by a shower of pumice stones, ash and lapilli.
“They very likely died by thermal shock, as the contracted limbs, hands and feet would suggest,” Mr. Osanna said in the video, adding that DNA testing was being carried out on the recovered bones. Pompeii officials believe the older man to have been 30 to 40 years old, and the younger between 18 and 23.
The villa where the discovery was made is in Civita Giuliana, an area about 750 yards northwest of Pompeii’s ancient walls, which has already yielded important finds, including a purebred horse with a bronze-plated saddle uncovered in 2018.
Although the archaeological park closed to visitors on Nov. 6 because of coronavirus restrictions, excavations at the site have continued.
The villa at Civita Giuliana was first excavated briefly in 1907 and 1908. But because it is on private property, the sort of government-commissioned excavations typically carried out on public land did not take place. That changed in 2017, when prosecutors in nearby Torre Annunziata charged a group of people with robbing tombs and looting the site using underground tunnels.
The culture ministry is in the process of buying the land where the villa is situated, and Mr. Osanna said he hoped it could eventually open to the public.
With more than 50 acres still to be excavated, Pompeii continues to be “an incredible site for research, study and training,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said in a statement on Saturday. It is, he said, a mission for the “archaeologists of today and the future.”