Category Archives: NORTH AMERICA

The Largest Confirmed Pyramid on Earth Dwarfs The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Largest Confirmed Pyramid on Earth Dwarfs The Great Pyramid of Giza

It is the largest pyramid on Earth, with a base four times larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza and almost doubles the volume. The Pyramid is recognized as the largest pyramid in volume with four million five hundred thousand cubic meters. It literally DWARFS the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Experts estimate that it took around 1,000 years for the Pyramid to be built. It is also so far, the largest monument ever built in the world, among all ancient civilizations. It still remains a mystery as to WHO built the Pyramid.

The Great Pyramid of Cholula or Tlachihualtepetl –from the Nahuatl meaning “handmade hill”— is the largest pyramidal basement in the world with 450 meters per side. In fact, it is not a single pyramid at all, but one monument stacked on top of another, consisting of at least six buildings. It grew in stages, as successive civilizations improved what had already been built.

The Largest Confirmed Pyramid on Earth Dwarfs The Great Pyramid of Giza
Artist’s conception of what the pyramid might have looked like.

With 450 meters wide and 66 meters high, the Great Pyramid of Cholula is equivalent to nine Olympic swimming pools. However, the Great Pyramid of Cholula has an impressive list of records: it is the largest pyramid on Earth, with a base four times larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza and almost doubles the volume. It is also so far, the largest monument ever built in the world, among all civilizations.

Curiously, It is also officially recognized as the largest pyramid in volume with 4,500,000 m³, but it is not the tallest one; With  65 m high the  Great Pyramid of Cholula is similar to that of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan which has 64, while the Great Pyramid of Giza In Egypt it has a height of 139.

The pyramid was built to appease the “feathered serpent” god
This view of the pyramid was taken in the early 20th century

While experts are unsure as to when exactly the Pyramid building process was begun, archaeologists believe it was around 300 BC or at the beginning of the Christian era.

It is estimated that it took between 500 and 1,000 years until the pyramid was finished.  According to legend, when the local inhabitants heard that the Spanish Conquistadores were approaching, the locals covered the sacred temple with dirt.

When Cortes and his men arrived in Cholula in October 1519, some 1,800 years after the pyramid was built, they massacred about 3,000 people in a single hour, 10% of the entire population of the city, and levelled many of their religious structures.

But they never touched the pyramid, because they never found it.

When the pavement was dug up in 2013 to enter the city’s drainage system, at least 63 skeletons were found from pre-colonial times

The Pyramid is a mind-bending structure, and it is so old that when Cortes and his men arrived in Mexico, the monument was already thousands of years old and completely covered by vegetation.

Strangely, first on-site excavations revealed a series of horrifying discoveries, including deformed skulls of decapitated children.

Curiously, little is known about the initial history of the pyramid. It is thought that construction began around 300 BC, but it remains a mystery who erected it.

According to legends, the Great Pyramid of Cholula was built by giants.

Archaeologists estimate that the Cholutecas participated in the construction.

Olmec Civilization: Survivors of Atlantis?

Olmec Civilization: Survivors of Atlantis?

Are the Ancient Olmecs Survivors of Atlantis?

It is a theory that according to many, could explain the incredible technologies and skills of this enigmatic Ancient Civilization.

Even though the Olmec civilization is surrounded by numerous mysteries, researchers believe that all the classical cultures of Mesoamerica originated from this mysterious civilization. But where did this ancient civilization originate? And why is it that we know so little about one of the most influential ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica?

Olmec Head No. 3 from San Lorenzo-Tenochtitlán

Their stonemason skills were something noteworthy, achieving incredible constructions and monuments, like the giant Olmec heads, before the Aztecs, Mayas and other civilizations of the Americas. The question that has baffled archaeologists and other researchers are how?

From where did the ancient Olmecs obtain their knowledge and where do they come from?

Is it possible that as some researchers suggest, the Ancient Olmecs are the survivors of Ancient Atlantis?

Atlantis and the Olmecs

The Olmecs were a very advanced civilization that predates the Ancient Maya and Aztec empires. Their knowledge in geology allowed this mysterious ancient civilization to literally “terraform” certain regions. The San Lorenzo plateau is one of those examples. It is considered one of the most important architectural projects in ancient times.

The entire region was “modified” to the liking of the ancient Olmecs. This project involved the removal of tons of earth and rock that allowed the construction of giant terraces, walls and monuments, literally transforming their surroundings into a sacred area for their inhabitants.

The question that still remains is, how did ancient man achieve this… thousands of years ago? Is it possible that their advanced technology and knowledge originated on the last city-continent of Atlantis? And if so, are there any similarities between them?

What if the Ancient Atlanteans actually Migrated to Mesoamerica and ‘kickstarted’ some of the most incredible Ancient Civilizations on Earth: The Aztecs, Mayas and possibly even Incas?

If Atlantis did exist? How come that there is no evidence of this mythical “continent“, surely such a powerful ancient civilization would have left its mark worldwide, why is it that Plato is one of the few who mentioned Atlantis?

Basically, the tale about Atlantis did not exist until Plato wrote about it. But what if… Atlantis was destroyed but its people lived on… only that this time they were not called Atlanteans but Olmecs? No one can explain where the Olmecs came from, we know based on research where historians believe they originated from, but due to certain features, like the giant Heads which do not resemble natives from Central America, many believe that the Olmec civilizations actually originated from another place on Earth, a place that some call ancient Atlantis.

This ancient civilization achieved an incredible degree of development, totally incomprehensible if we consider that we know nothing of their origin nor their roots. They were a society that knew about animal domestication, and beekeeping before any other ancient civilization.

The Hematite Bar, possible evidence of advanced technology?
One of the most mysterious findings directly connected with the Ancient Olmec civilization is a 3.5 cm hematite bar that has caused mixed reactions among researchers. When placed on the water its axis points towards the north.

According to researchers from the University of Michigan, this device was a compass. This changes a lot in history since it would mean that the ancient Olmecs are the inventors of the compass and no the Chinese as previously thought. The device is believed to have been used to position their constructions facing north.

The Olmec Legacy

The ancient Olmecs left so much yet so little behind and just like many other great ancient civilizations, they too disappeared without a trace. In addition to the gigantic heads, the Olmecs have left other pieces of great artistic value, such as thrones, altars and human figures and no other culture in Mesoamerica attained perfection and the level of mastery of the Olmecs when it comes to sculpting.

The question is, how did this ancient civilization that was almost in the stone age, manage such perfection that engineers today cannot replicate?

Archaeologists unearth a unique artefact at Fort Michilimackinac: a pocket knife

Archaeologists unearth a unique artifact at Fort Michilimackinac: a pocket knife

MLive reports that Lynn Evans of Mackinac State Historic Parks and her colleagues discovered a 3.5-inch-long pocketknife, or clasp knife, in a root cellar of the Southeast Rowhouse at Colonial Michilimackinac.

A long-running archaeological dig at a historic Michigan fort turned up a new treasure over the holiday weekend.

While digging near a post in a root cellar at Colonial Michilimackinac on July 4, archaeologists unearthed a 3 1/2-inch pocketknife, also known as a clasp knife.

Archaeologists unearth a unique artifact at Fort Michilimackinac: a pocket knife
A pocketknife, also known as a “clasp knife,” was discovered in an archaeological dig at Mackinaw City.

Dr. Lynn Evans, the curator of archaeology for Mackinac State Historic Parks, said the knife is about 1 inch high at the tip of the blade’s peak. According to Evans, the knife may be of French or British origin. Its exact age is currently unknown.

The knife’s discovery is the latest in a string of finds at Colonial Michilimackinaw, a reconstructed 18th-century fort and fur trading village now home to one of the nation’s longest-running archaeology programs.

Over the course of more than 60 years, annual seasonal digs have unearthed more than 1,000,000 artefacts.

The program’s current excavation site is located at what’s known as House E of the fort’s Southeast Rowhouse.

In recent years, other found artefacts have included a lead seal dating between 1717 and 1769, a brass sleeve button with an intaglio bust on it, a potential structural post dating to the original 1715 fort, an engraved “Jesuit” trade ring, a brass serpentine side plate for a British trade gun, complete remnants from a creamware plate, and other items.

Archaeologists are on site every day at the fort, weather permitting, throughout the summer.

Visitors can witness the archaeologists continuing their excavations at the site from early June until mid-August.

The best artefacts are on display at the fort’s “Treasures from the Sand” exhibit, as well as in the book Keys to the Past, written by Evans.

An overview of House E, the current dig site at Colonial Michilimackinac.

Mexican cave contains signs of human visitors from 30,000 years ago

Mexican cave contains signs of human visitors from 30,000 years ago

At first glance, Chiquihuite Cave in Mexico’s Zacatecas state is an unlikely place to find signs of early humans, let alone evidence that might change the story of the peopling of the Americas. It sits a daunting 1000 meters above a valley, overlooking a desert landscape in the mountains north of Zacatecas. Getting there requires a 4- or 5-hour uphill scramble over a moonscape of jagged boulders.

But in the soil below the cave’s floor, a team led by archaeologist Ciprian Ardelean of the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, University City Siglo XXI, dug up almost 2000 stone objects that researchers think are tools. By combining state-of-the-art dating methods, the team argues that humans were at the site at least 26,000 years ago—more than 10,000 years before any other known human occupation in the region. “Chiquihuite is a solitary dot” of human occupation, Ardelean says.

The dates place humans there during the height of the last ice age when ice covered much of what is now Canada and sea levels were much lower. To have settled in Mexico by then, Ardelean says, people must have entered the Americas 32,000 years ago or more before the ice reached its maximum extent.

“If it is true people were in Zacatecas by 32,000 years ago, that changes everything—it more than doubles the time people have been in the Americas,” says Oregon State University, Corvallis, archaeologist Loren Davis, who was not part of the research team. But he remains sceptical, in part because he isn’t convinced the artefacts are tools. “I’m not going to say it’s impossible,” he says. “But if all they found are fractured rocks without any corroborating evidence, it’s natural to be skeptical.”

Still, he and others say they’re willing to be convinced. For decades, most researchers thought humans arrived in the Americas approximately 13,000 years ago; occasional claims of an earlier arrival met strong criticism. But over the past decade, evidence for earlier migrations has emerged at sites from Canada to southern Chile.

Most researchers now think people travelled by boat along North America’s west coast, exploiting marine resources, as early as 16,000 years ago, when the interior of the continent was mostly frozen over.

Stone tools like this one, from deep in Chiquihuite Cave in Mexico, suggest people lived there at least 26,000 years ago.

Just one other site—Bluefish Caves, in Canada’s Yukon territory—has yielded dates as old as Chiquihuite. Researchers attribute thousands of broken animal bones there—dated to about 24,000 years ago—to human hunting. But the site remains controversial, in part because few stone tools or cut marks have been found among the bones.

Ardelean heard about the cave from local villagers. Beginning in 2012, he and his team spent 1 month or more at a time at Chiquihuite, resupplying every few weeks using donkeys. Although forbidding today, the site would have looked far more hospitable 26,000 years ago.

A spring-fed creek flows near the cave’s original entrance, which was blocked long ago by rockslides. DNA and other evidence the researchers extracted from inside the cave show it opened onto a lush landscape harbouring cranes, condors, marmot, goat, sheep, horses, and bears. “It looked a lot more like British Columbia or Oregon than desert,” Ardelean says.

Digging into the cave floor over the past 8 years, Ardelean and his team found stones shaped into what look like scrapers, hand axes, spear points, and other tools at depths of up to 3 meters.

Dating experts at the University of Oxford, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and elsewhere determined when the rocks had last been exposed to light and radiocarbon-dated more than 50 samples of animal bone and charcoal found near the tools.

As the group reports today in Nature, the artifacts were deposited starting 26,000 years ago and accumulated on the cave floor for the next 16,000 years. The authors argue that it adds up to a continuous human presence, with people regularly visiting the cave over millennia.

But the team found no human DNA or bones cut marked by human hands. Nor did they discover a central hearth, so they can’t be certain whether the bits of burned wood analyzed for radiocarbon dates are from wind-blown wildfires or human-made campfires.

“The evidence is what the evidence is,” says team member Lorena Becerra-Valdivia, a radiocarbon dating expert at UNSW. “We’re quite confident that the stone tools are, indeed, stone tools.”

Critics point out that the tools are simple and don’t resemble other toolkits from the Americas, raising the possibility they’re the product of natural breakage. “They look like they could be artifacts, but why aren’t they found anywhere else in the landscape?” wonders David Meltzer, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University.

The tools’ consistency is also remarkable, he says. “If these tools are real, why are they only found—so far at least—in this one spot over a 10,000-year period? Humans adapt and adopt new technology.”

Becerra-Valdivia says work in other sites, especially those south of the United States, may turn up corroborating evidence. “We need to take a really good look at South America.”

 And Ardelean says Chiquihuite has more secrets to reveal: “This is not a hit-and-run discovery. There’s more evidence coming.”

34 Pre-Columbian Artifacts Returned to Mexico by Germans

34 Pre-Columbian Artifacts Returned to Mexico by Germans

DW reports that more than 30 pre-Columbian artefacts have been handed over to Mexico’s embassy in Germany.

Among the archaeological objects returned to Mexico are anthropomorphic figures made of clay, bowls and vessels, and one of the effigy type; stamps and fragments of anthropomorphic figurines.

Mexico has recovered 34 pre-Columbian artifacts that were voluntarily returned by two German private collectors, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

“Two German citizens approached our embassy in Berlin to express their interest in returning archaeological pieces that were in the possession of their families,” said the Mexican foreign minister’s legal consultant, Alejandro Celorio.

The Mexican Culture Ministry tweeted details of the items recovered: “Among the cultural assets there are bowls, vessels, stamps and an Olmec-style anthropomorphic mask.”

The mask, made of rock and from the period 1200-600 B.C., was just one of the objects dating back centuries. Others included anthropomorphic clay figures and a three-legged Mayan clay pot from the period 1000-1521 A.D.

Sensitive issue

Diego Prieto, director of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, highlighted the “growing sensitivity” in the global community about the need to respect cultural heritage and return artefacts.

The recovered pieces were handed over to embassy officials in July of this year.

Twenty-eight of the objects were in the city of Monheim am Rhein in western Germany and the remaining six in Recklinghausen, some 70 kilometres (43 miles) away. 

7,000-Year-Old Native American ‘Bog Burial’ Found Off the Coast of Florida

7,000-Year-Old Native American ‘Bog Burial’ Found Off the Coast of Florida

The 167 bodies discovered in a pond in Windover, Florida started to stir up excitement in the archaeological world only after the bones were declared very old, and not the product of mass murder. Researchers from Florida State University came to the site, believing that in the swampland some more Native American bones had been found.

They believed the bones were between 500 and 600 years old. But then the bones were dated with radiocarbon. It turns out that these corpses were between 6,990 and 8,120 years old. The academic community was then incredibly excited. Windover Bog has proved to be one of the United States’ most significant archaeological discoveries.

In 1982, Steve Vanderjagt, the man who made the discovery, was using a backhoe to demolish the pond to create a new subdivision between Disney World and Cape Canaveral. A large number of rocks in the pond confused Vanderjagt since the region of Florida was not considered to be particularly rocky.

Getting out of his backhoe, Vanderjagt went to investigate and almost immediately realized that he had unearthed a huge pile of bones. He called the authorities right away. It was only thanks to his natural curiosity that the site was preserved. After the medical examiners declared them ancient, the specialists from Florida State University were summoned (another brilliant move by Vanderjagt- too often sites are ruined because experts are not called).

The pond that Steve stumbled upon.

Deeply intrigued, EKS Corporation, the developers of the site, financed the radiocarbon dating. Once the striking dates were revealed, the State of Florida providing a grant for the excavation.

Unlike the human remains found in European bogs, the Florida bodies are only skeletons – no flesh remains on the bones. But this does not negate their significance. Nearly half of the skulls contained brain matter. The majority of the skeletons were found lying on their left sides with their heads pointing westward, perhaps toward the setting sun, and their faces pointing to the north.

Most had their legs tucked up, as in the fetal position, however, three were lying straight. Interestingly, each corpse had a stake thrust through the loose fabric that enshrouded them, presumably to prevent them from floating to the surface of the water as decomposition filled them with air. This practical step was what ultimately protected the bodies from scavengers (animals and grave robbers) and kept them in their intended positions.

The find provides unparalleled insight into a hunter-gather community that existed 3,500 years before the Pyramids were built in Egypt. The skeletons and the artefacts found with them have been studied almost continuously in the decades since their discovery.

People Digging.

The research paints a picture of a hard but good life in pre-Columbian Florida. Though living mainly off what they could hunt and gather, the community was sedentary, indicating that whatever hardships they may have faced were small compared with the benefits of the area they chose to settle in.

Theirs was an incredibly caring society. Children’s bodies were almost all found to have small toys in their arms. One older woman, perhaps 50, showed signs of having several broken bones. The fractures occurred several years before her death, meaning that despite her handicap the other villagers cared for her and helped her even when she could no longer contribute significantly to the workload.

Another body, that of a 15-year-old boy, showed that he was a victim of spina bifida, a crippling birth defect where the vertebrae do not grow together properly around the spinal cord. Despite his many deformed bones, evidence suggests he was loved and cared for throughout his life. These discoveries are mind-boggling when one considers how many ancient (and even a few modern) societies abandon the weak and deformed.

Contents found within the corpses’ as well as other organic remains found in the bog reveal an ecosystem rich in diversity. 30 species of edible and/or medicinal plants were identified by paleobotanists; berries and small fruits were particularly important to the community’s diet.

One woman, perhaps 35 years old, was found with a concoction of elderberry, nightshade, and holly in the area where her stomach would have been, suggesting that she was eating medicinal herbs to try and combat an illness.

Unfortunately, the combination did not work and whatever afflicted the woman ultimately took her life. Interestingly, the elderberry woman was one of the few bodies stretched out, as opposed to curled up, with her face pointing downward. In other Native American traditions, elderberries were used to fight viral infections.

Archaeological site.

Another striking difference between the Windover Bog people and their European counterparts is that none of the Floridians suffered violent deaths. The bodies include men, women, and children.

Roughly half of the bodies were younger than 20 years old when they died but some were well over 70 years old. This was a fairly good mortality rate for the place and time.

The presence of brain matter in 91 of the bodies suggests that they were buried quickly, within 48 hours of death. Scientists know this because, given the hot humid climate of Florida, brains would have liquefied in bodies not buried quickly.

Somewhat amazingly, DNA analysis of the remains shows that these bodies share no biological affiliation with the more modern Native American groups known to have lived in the area.

Recognizing the limitations of modern technology, about half of the Windover site was left intact, as a protected National Historic Landmark, so that in 50 or 100 years’ researchers could return to the bog and excavate untouched remains.

Archaeologists uncover lost Indigenous NE Florida settlement of Sarabay

Archaeologists uncover lost Indigenous NE Florida settlement of Sarabay

The University of North Florida archaeology team is now fairly confident they have located the lost Indigenous northeast Florida community of Sarabay, a settlement mentioned in both French and Spanish documents dating to the 1560s but had not been discovered until now.

The type and amounts of Indigenous pottery the team is finding combined with the type and dates for European artefacts as well as cartographic map evidence strongly supports this location as the late 16th/early 17th century Mocama settlement.

The researchers have opened large excavation blocks with many exciting new artefacts finds and are currently searching for evidence of houses and public architecture.

UNF Archaeology Lab at the dig site.

The students, led by Dr. Keith Ashley, UNF Archaeology Lab director and assistant professor, have recently recovered more than 50 pieces of early Spanish pottery as well as Indigenous pottery that dates to the late 1500s or early 1600s.

They have also recovered bone, stone and shell artefacts as well as burned corn cob fragments.

Expanding upon UNF excavations conducted at the southern end of Big Talbot Island in 1998, 1999, and 2020, the UNF research team has completed what is likely the most extensive excavations at a Mocama-Timucua site in northeastern Florida history.

This dig is part of the UNF Archaeology Lab’s ongoing Mocama Archaeological Project. This study focuses on the Mocama-speaking Timucua Indians who lived along the Atlantic coast of northern Florida at the time of European arrival in 1562.

The Mocama were among the first indigenous populations encountered by European explorers in the 1560s.

The team hopes to ultimately confirm the discovery of Sarabay by finding evidence of houses and public architecture.

They will continue to explore and learn about Sarabay’s physical layout during continuing fieldwork projects over the next three years.

9,000-Year-Old Obsidian Tools Found at Bottom of Lake Huron

9,000-Year-Old Obsidian Tools Found at Bottom of Lake Huron

9,000-Year-Old Obsidian Tools Found at Bottom of Lake Huron
A scuba diver near a submerged hunting structure at the bottom of Lake Huron.

Obsidian, or volcanic glass, is a prized raw material for knappers, both ancient and modern, with its lustrous appearance, predictable flaking, and resulting razor-sharp edges.

As such, it was used and traded widely throughout much of human history. Obsidian from the Rocky Mountains and the West was an exotic exchange commodity in Eastern North America.

“Obsidian from the far western United States is rarely found in the east,” said Dr Ashley Lemke, an anthropologist in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Texas at Arlington.

The two ancient obsidian artefacts were recovered from a sample of sediment that was hand excavated at a depth of 32 m (105 feet) in an area between two submerged hunting structures at the bottom of Lake Huron.

“This particular find is really exciting because it shows how important underwater archaeology is,” Dr. Lemke said.

“The preservation of ancient underwater sites is unparalleled on land, and these places have given us a great opportunity to learn more about past peoples.”

Photomicrographs of the two obsidian flakes from Lake Huron. Scale is in millimetres.

The larger artifact is a mostly complete, roughly triangular, biface thinning flake made from black and translucent material with a sub-vitreous texture.

The second artefact is a small, very thin, translucent flake on a material visually similar to the larger specimen.

“These tiny obsidian artefacts reveal social connections across North America 9,000 years ago,” Dr. Lemke said.

“The artifacts found below the Great Lakes come from a geological source in Oregon, 4,000 km (2,485 miles) away — making it one of the longest distances recorded for obsidian artifacts anywhere in the world.”

The findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE.