Archaeology breakthrough: How 2,000-year-old Roman shipwreck discovery ‘redefined’ history
Scuba researchers explored waters in Florida when they came across the shipwreck of a Roman vessel. The ship was called ‘Panarea III,’ and was expected to have sailed between Rome and Carthage about 218-210 AD during the Second Punic War.
In 2010 US archeologists using sonar equipment and a remotely operated submersible find it at 130 meters depth.
In the center of the researchers, the Italian archeologists considered that the ship was a supply vessel in the fleet of the Roman consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus.
Among the stunning artefacts were “small fishing plates, kalathoi, pitcher, and the louterion,” the archaeologists said.
They said the latter was probably used as a sacrificial altar on board the ship.
Jarrod Jablonski, one of the divers, added: “Metal supports still embedded in the base were likely used for fastening to the deck.
“The Louterion (the ship) is one of many unique discoveries that promise to help redefine what we understand about ancient trade routes and commerce in the 3rd century BC.”
A similar discovery was made in the waters of the Mediterranean when a Phoenician vessel was found by researchers.
The Phoenicians were the direct descendent of the Canaanites of the south Syrian and Lebanese coast – known as a great maritime people who had developed a high level of shipbuilding technology.
It was found at a depth of 125 metres below the surface.
According to Science News, after they find, Dr. Gambin said: “This shipwreck may offer new and significant information about Phoenician seafaring and trade in the central Mediterranean during the archaic period.
“To date, little is known about the earliest contact of Phoenician mariners with the Maltese islands.”
The researchers claimed that the ship was sailing from Sicily to Malta when it sank.
It was about 15 metres long and carried a cargo of 20 grinding stones (about 35 kg each) and 50 amphorae of seven different types – indicating the ship had been indifferent harbours.
Dr. Gambin added: “This discovery may be considered as one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Malta datable to the early Phoenician period.”
Archaeologists Have a Lot of Dates Wrong for North American Indigenous History — But Are Using New Techniques to Get It Right
It was in 1492 that Columbus reached the Americas. Many Europeans had travelled before, but the century from then until 1609 marks the creation of the modern globalized world.
It gave Europe extraordinary wealth and genocide and disease to indigenous peoples across the Americas.
The dates and the estimates of the settlement in Europe are known from texts and sometimes illustrations, to use the failed colony on what was then Virginia’s Roanoke Island as an example.
However, one thing is missing. What of indigenous history in this traumatic era? Until now, the standard timeline has derived, inevitably, from the European conquerors, even when scholars try to present an indigenous perspective.
This all happened just 400 to 500 years ago – how wrong could the conventional chronology for indigenous settlements be? Quite wrong, it turns out, based on radiocarbon dating my collaborators and I have carried out at a number of Iroquoian sites in Ontario and New York state. We’re challenging existing – and rather colonialist – assumptions and mapping out the correct time frames for when indigenous people were active in these places.
Refining Dates Based on European Goods
Archaeologists estimate when a given indigenous settlement was active based on the absence or presence of certain types of European trade goods, such as metal and glass beads. It was always approximate, but became the conventional history.
Since the first known commercial fur trading missions were in the 1580s, archaeologists date initial regular appearances of scattered European goods to 1580-1600. They call these two decades Glass Bead Period 1. We know some trade occurred before that, though, since indigenous people Cartier met in the 1530s had previously encountered Europeans, and were ready to trade with him.
Archaeologists set Glass Bead Period 2 from 1600-1630. During this time, new types of glass beads and finished metal goods were introduced, and trade was more frequent. The logic of dating based on the absence or presence of these goods would make sense if all communities had equal access to, and desire to have, such items. But these key assumptions have not been proven.
That’s why the Dating Iroquoia Project exists. Made up of researchers here at Cornell University, the University of Georgia, and the New York State Museum, we’ve used radiocarbon dating and statistical modeling to date organic materials directly associated with Iroquoian sites in New York’s Mohawk Valley and Ontario in Canada.
First we looked at two sites in Ontario: Warminster and Ball. Both are long argued to have had direct connections with Europeans. For instance, Samuel de Champlain likely stayed at the Warminster site in 1615-1616. Archaeologists have found large numbers of trade goods at both sites.
When my colleagues and I examined and radiocarbon dated plant remains (maize, bean, plum) and a wooden post, the calendar ages we came up with are entirely consistent with historical estimates and the glass bead chronology. The three dating methods agreed, placing Ball circa 1565-1590 and Warminster circa 1590-1620.
However, the picture was quite different at several other major Iroquois sites that lack such close European connections. Our radiocarbon tests came up with substantially different date ranges compared with previous estimates that were based on the presence or absence of various European goods.
For example, the Jean-Baptiste Lainé, or Mantle, site northeast of Toronto is currently the largest and most complex Iroquoian village excavated in Ontario. Excavated between 2003–2005, archaeologists dated the site to 1500–1530 because it lacks most trade goods and had just three European-source metal objects. But our radiocarbon dating now places it between about 1586 and 1623, most likely 1599-1614. That means previous dates were off the mark by as much as 50 to 100 years.
Other sites belonging to this same ancestral Wendat community are also more recent than previously assumed. For example, a site called Draper was conventionally dated to the second half of the 1400s, but radiocarbon dating places it at least 50 years later, between 1521 and 1557. Several other Ontario Iroquoian sites lacking large trade good assemblages vary by several decades to around 50 years or so from conventional dates based on our work.
My colleagues and I have also investigated a number of sites in the Mohawk Valley, in New York state. During the 16th and early 17th centuries, the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers formed a key transport route from the Atlantic coast inland for Europeans and their trade goods. Again, we found that radiocarbon dating casts doubt on the conventional time frame attributed to a number of sites in the area.
Biases That Led to Misguided Timelines
Why were some of the previous chronology wrong?
The answer seems to be that scholars viewed the topic through a pervasive colonial lens. Researchers mistakenly assumed that trade goods were equally available, and desired, all over the region, and considered all indigenous groups as the same. On the contrary, it was Wendat custom, for example, that the lineage whose members first discovered a trade route claimed rights to it. Such “ownership” could be a source of power and status. Thus it would make sense to see uneven distributions of certain trade goods, as mediated by the controlling groups. Some people were “in,” with access, and others may have been “out.”
Ethnohistoric records indicate cases of indigenous groups rejecting contact with Europeans and their goods. For example, Jesuit missionaries described an entire village no longer using French kettles because the foreigners and their goods were blamed for disease.
There are other reasons European goods do or do not show up in the archaeological record. How near or far a place was from transport routes, and local politics, both within and between groups, could play a role. Whether Europeans made direct contact, or there were only indirect links, could affect availability. Objects used and kept in settlements could also vary from those intentionally buried in cemeteries. Above all, the majority of sites are only partly investigated at best, some are as yet unknown. And sadly the archaeological record is affected by the looting and destruction of sites. Only a direct dating approach removes the Eurocentric and historical lens, allowing an independent time frame for sites and past narratives.
Effects of Re-dating Indigenous History
Apart from changing the dates for textbooks and museum displays, the re-dating of a number of Iroquoian sites raises major questions about the social, political and economic history of indigenous communities. For example, conventionally, researchers place the start of a shift to larger and fortified communities, and evidence of increased conflict, in the mid-15th century.
However, our radiocarbon dates find that some of the key sites are from a century later, dating from the mid-16th to start of the 17th centuries. The timing raises questions of whether and how early contacts with Europeans did or did not play a role. This period was also during the peak of what’s called the Little Ice Age, perhaps indicating the changes in indigenous settlements have some association with climate challenge.
Our new radiocarbon dates indicate the correct time frame; they pose, but do not answer, many other remaining questions.
Thousands of ancestors’ remains, sacred objects to return home to North Dakota tribe
In a storage room at the University of Tennessee’s anthropology department, the remains of almost 2,000 Arikara and Mandan people rest in boxes, alongside the sacred objects buried with them centuries ago.
There, 65-year-old Pete Coffey, director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, reunited with his ancestors in 2017.
“The only thing I can tell you is that I felt the presence of those ancestral spirits very strongly when I walked in there,” he said.
The Native American remains stored there were buried centuries ago along the Missouri River in South Dakota, according to a Federal Register report published in November. The 1,971 ancestors and 2,263 funerary objects have been traced to the Arikara and Mandan, who once lived in earth lodges along the river. The tribes, along with the Hidatsa, now live west of there on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
In the mid-1900s, archaeologists excavated the burial sites along the Missouri River in South Dakota as part of the Smithsonian’s River Basin Survey. The survey was an effort to gather as much archaeological information as possible before dams and reservoirs flooded areas along the Missouri River following the 1944 Flood Control Act.
For the MHA Nation, that meant thousands of their ancestors were taken out of the ground. An archaeologist who helped excavate the remains eventually transported them to the University of Tennessee, where they’ve been stored since before the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed in 1990. The act asked federal agencies and museums to take inventory of Native American remains and funerary and sacred objects in their possession and to work with tribes who have a claim to return the remains.
Coffey said NAGPRA gave tribes “the right to repatriate these remains which were taken with no thought of human decency, either by collectors or by archaeologists from museums and put on display.”
Coffey has been working with universities and museums across the U.S. that have reached out since the act was passed in the hopes of returning remains. Still, the MHA Nation is just one of the hundreds of tribal nations across the country working to reclaim their ancestors since the act was passed. The Federal Register regularly posts reports alerting tribes to collections.
Dustin Lloyd, the burial coordinator for the South Dakota State Historical Society’s Archaeological Research Center, said some members of the scientific community worried about losing data or information from burial grounds after the act was passed. But Lloyd said the issue is more human than that.
“These were people at one point,” he said. “They were family members, they were fathers, sons, grandmothers. That’s why protection in place is such an important aspect of NAGPRA.”
Reburial this summer
Since 1990, Coffey has helped reclaim tens of thousands of his Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara ancestors across the country. When remains are returned, he consults with tribal elders to determine where and how they should be buried. He said, for the most part, remains are simply put back into the ground, as all the prayers and ceremonies were performed at the original time of burial.
Sometimes, remains are returned to the sites near where they were originally taken. But when that’s not feasible, Coffey said, the remains are repatriated, or given back, to the tribe for reburial on their land.
This summer, the MHA Nation will rebury thousands more of their ancestors. Ellen Lofaro and Robert Hinde at the University of Tennessee started working on the repatriation of remains in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Lofaro, a curator of archaeology, said NAGPRA “not only gives tribes a voice at the table but a power to make decisions. Archaeologists did not always take their wishes and desires into consideration.”
The university contacted the MHA Nation to let them know they had thousands of remains and funerary objects in storage. The next year, 2017, Coffey came to see the remains for himself.
The university, the tribes, and the Army Corps of Engineers for the Omaha District — which owns the land where the remains were excavated — had to meet to determine how to proceed according to NAGPRA rules.
“We’re pretty grateful NAGPRA has a process we feel is successful in helping get these ancestors back to their families,” said Julie Jacobsen, cultural resources program manager for the Corps’ Omaha District.
Because the Corps is the largest land management agency in the U.S., they have “a lot of land with a lot of sites” where collections were excavated prior to NAGPRA. Making sure these collections are properly cared for by those managing them and working to get them repatriated is a “big responsibility,” Jacobsen said. She added that the collection at the University of Tennessee is abnormally large compared to most the Corps works to repatriate.
Overall, Coffey said working with the university and the Corps to repatriate the remains has been a very positive experience.
Jacobsen said the Corps is working to determine how many trailers will be needed to safely return the remains and sacred objects to the MHA Nation and to devise a security plan to protect the remains during the long drive from Tennessee to Fort Berthold.
Hinde said the remains are set to be transported home this summer when cold weather isn’t a factor. There, at Fort Berthold, the tribal ancestors will be laid back to rest.
500 Million-Year-Old Human Footprint Fossil Baffles Scientists
Hundreds of millions of years ago someone with shoes walked on an ancient trilobite.
The amateur fossil hunter William J. Meister found a lifetime discovery 43 kilometers west of Delta, Utah, in the summer of 1968, he found a fossilized human footprint about the size of a US 13 shoe (3.5″W x 10.25″L) stepping on a trilobite. Now, trilobites only existed between 260 to 600 million years ago, so this makes it the oldest human fossil footprint ever discovered!
Trilobites were small marine invertebrates related to crabs and shrimps. Scientists currently think humans emerged 1 or 2 million years ago and only began wearing such shoes a few thousand years ago.
This archaeological discovery could be sufficient to overturn all conventionally accepted ideas of human and geological evolution. According to science’s currently accepted timeline of human existence on this planet, humans advanced enough to wear shoes that would not have existed hundreds of millions of years ago. As one might expect, this sent shockwaves throughout the scientific communities with excitement for a new paradigm shift as well as skeptical denial.
Meister took the rock to a professor of metallurgy at the University of Utah, Melvin Cook, who suggested he show it to the university’s geologists. But none of the geologists were willing to examine it, so Meister took it to a local newspaper called The Deseret News and quickly became very well-known around the country.
This amazing find was presented on March 1, 1973, in a creation-evolution debate at California State University in Sacramento. The creationist team included Dr. Duane Gish of the Institute for Creation Research and Reverend Boswell of a local Sacramento church. The scientific team consisted of Dr. Richard Lemmon of the University of California at Berkeley and Dr. G. Ledyard Stebbins of the University of California at Davis. Reverend Boswell said:
“I have here something that pretty much destroys the entire geological column. It has been studied by three laboratories around the world and it’s been tested and found valid. It represents a footprint that was found at Antelope Springs, Utah while digging for trilobites.
The man was digging for trilobites, and these are trilobites here and here embedded. This is a brick mold of a trilobite footprint of a human footprint with a trilobite in it. The man stepped on a living trilobite, [thus burying] him in the mud.
These particular strata are dated Cambrian, supposedly 500 million years extinct before man arrived on the face of the earth. The interesting thing about this photograph is that there is also heel marks, which would indicate that they were made by modern man.”
In a news conference, the skeptical curator of the Museum of Earth Science at the University of Utah, James Madsen, dismissively said: “There were no men 600 million years ago. Neither were there monkeys or bears or ground sloths to make pseudo-human tracks. What man-thing could possibly have been walking about on this planet before vertebrates even evolved?”
Another astonishing trilobite fossil discovery was made in Antelope Spring, Arizona on July 20, 1968, by Dr. Clifford Burdick, a consulting geologist from Tucson, Arizona. He found an impression of a child’s foot in a bed of shale.
‘The impression was about six inches in length, with the toes spreading as if the child had never yet worn shoes, which compress the toes. There does not appear to be much of an arch, and the big toe is not prominent.’
This was shown to two geologists and a paleontologist. One geologist agreed it seemed to belong to a human being, but the paleontologist’s opinion was that no biological agent had been involved. Dr.Burdick affirmed:
“The rock chanced to fracture along the front of the toes before the fossil footprint was found. On cross-section, the fabric of the rock stands out in fine laminations or bedding planes. Where the toes pressed into the soft material, the laminations were bowed downward from the horizontal, indicating a weight that had been pressed into the mud.”
Mr. Meister claimed that when he had a geologist examine the print, the geologist offered him $250,000 for the print. Meister asked him, “What are you going to do with it if I sell it to you?” The geologist replied, “I’m going to destroy it, it destroys my entire life work as a geologist.”
It’s disappointing to think that some people would be willing to destroy such a monumental artifact that can reveal such a new perspective on our human heritage and origins.
Respected archaeological researcher, Michael Cremo, has written books on the subject of such examples of ancient artifacts and he has learned that certain scientific institutions, like the Smithsonian Institution, make great efforts to maintain the concept of recent human evolution. He has documented several instances where they deny, defame, and even exile archeologists for publishing their findings for peer review.
“In defense of the dates obtained by the geologists, Virginia Steen-McIntyre wrote in a letter (March 30, 1981) to Estella Leopold, associate editor of Quaternary Research: “The problem as I see it is much bigger than Hueyatlaco. It concerns the manipulation of scientific thought through the suppression of ‘Enigmatic Data,’ data that challenges the prevailing mode of thinking.”
Can you imagine the implications of mankind around the world learning or realizing we are hundreds of millions of years older than we thought and that we have been far more advanced than even we are today? The questions and answers beyond this metaphorically opened doorway could cause a rippling paradigm shift worldwide.
During one interview, Michael Cremo said:
“The reactions in your question are typical of a group that I call the fundamentalist Darwinists. They support the theory of evolution not for purely scientific reasons, but because it confirms their prior commitments to strict materialism. They do not want to hear me, and they do not want anyone else to hear me, so they say those kinds of things. Sometimes they try to stop me from lecturing at universities.”
Those really seeking the truth are open to new information to learn from and examine the scientific findings rationally without bias. We may have to dig deep within ourselves to find the answers to the questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here?