Category Archives: WORLD

Severed head of large wolf found perfectly preserved in Siberian permafrost 40,000 years after it died

The severed head of large wolf found perfectly preserved in Siberian permafrost 40,000 years after it died

The severed head of large wolf found perfectly preserved in Siberian permafrost 40,000 years after it died
Scientists estimate that the wolf lived 40,000 years ago.

The sensational find is believed to be the world’s first full-sized Pleistocene wolf, and due to the high quality of preservation, provides new insight into the extinct species.

You never know what you might encounter during a casual stroll in Siberia. Local resident, Pavel Efimov, was walking along the Tirekhtyakh River in the Russian Republic of Sakha when he came across something bizarre: a severed wolf head.

But upon closer examination by experts, they found that it wasn’t just the head of any kind of wolf, but that of a prehistoric predator which lived 40,000 years ago during the Ice Age.

“This is a unique discovery of the first-ever remains of a fully grown Pleistocene wolf with its tissue preserved,” paleontologist Albert Protopopov from the Republic of Sakha Academy of Sciences told The Siberian Times.

The head, which measures 16 inches in length and is larger than half the body length of a modern-day wolf, is astonishingly well-preserved with its fangs, thick fur, soft tissue, and brain intact.

Although this is not the first such discovery of an ancient wolf in the Siberian territory, other discoveries have typically been skull specimens or the remains of pups. This head is believed to be from an adult wolf aged between two to four years old when it died.

The incredible discovery was announced in a joint exhibition organized by Yakutian and Japanese scientists in Tokyo, Japan. Further analysis of the wolf’s DNA will be done by an international team of scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

By examining the wolf’s ancient DNA, researchers hope to learn more about the evolution of ancient wolves to their modern iterations.

The researchers have time-stamped the impressive specimen to 40,000 years ago during the Pleistocene era.

Analyzing the specimen’s ancient DNA will allow scientists to learn more about the evolution of modern wolves.

In addition to some genetic analysis, the ancient wolf’s features will be reconstructed using a non-invasive x-ray with which the inside of the skull can be examined without destroying the head.

The Siberian permafrost, which includes areas in northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland, has been host to other incredible archaeological finds in the past.

In fact, the team responsible for the recovery of this wolf head struck big in 2015 and 2017 with the discovery of several ancient cave lion cubs.

In 2017, one ancient cave lion cub was discovered around the same place by the Tirekhtyakh River in the Siberian permafrost territory.

Before then, researchers had already uncovered two other cubs — which scientists named Uyan and Dina — in 2015. The two cubs were unearthed on the banks of a different river still in the permafrost region.

“Everyone was amazed then and did not believe that such a thing is possible, and now, two years later, another cave lion has been found in the Abyiski district,” Protopopov said then.

Researchers dated all three cub specimens between 20,000 to 50,000 years ago, around the same time the ancient cave lion population became extinct.

CT scan of the wolf’s skull.

Like the wolf’s head, the lion cubs were incredibly well-preserved. The Cubs had all their limbs intact and showed no external injuries. The prehistoric animals were so perfect that they sparked a sudden interest among some scientists to clone the little beasts.

Just this past year, a 40,000-year-old extinct horse and 50,000-year-old wolf pup were also uncovered in the permafrost.

The ancient cave lion cubs were placed side-by-side with the new wolf specimen during the recent announcement by the researchers. The ancient wolf head has yet to ignite the same cloning discussion, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future.

Cooking Gear Found In Graves Of Viking Men And Women

Cooking Gear Found In Graves Of Viking Men And Women

Scientists often imagine that men’s and women’s roles during the Viking Age were clearly differentiated, archaeologist Marianne Moen says. “The illustrations show women making food and holding children, while men were active, in battle,” she says. But maybe this wasn’t the way things were. The illustration is from “Vikinger i vest” (Vikings in the West), published in 2009.

“I think we need to move away from distinguishing between men’s and women’s roles during the Viking times,” she said. Moen has completed her Ph.D. on Viking Age gender roles at the University of Oslo. Her research shows that upper-class men and women generally were buried with the same types of items — including cooking gear.

She examined the contents of 218 Viking graves in Vestfold, a county on the southwest side of Oslo Fjord, and sorted the artifacts she found according to type. Many of the graves were richly equipped with everything from cups and plates to horses and other livestock.

In fact, these ancient Viking women were not only housewives.

Not just housewives

Archaeologists often assume that Viking women were responsible for the house and home, while men were merchants and warriors. However, tools and items associated with housekeeping were fairly equally distributed between men and women in the Vestfold graves.

“The key is a good example. It is often considered to be the symbol of a housewife,” Moen said. Nonetheless, almost as many men’s graves had keys as women’s graves.

“It might be time to change the story a bit,” she said.

Men were just as likely to be buried with cooking equipment as women. Ten graves containing cookware were men’s graves, while eight were women’s. Moen likes that fact. It means that men also made food, she thinks. “My interpretation is that cooking equipment indicates hospitality. This was very important during Viking times,” she said, although others interpret it differently.

Cookware doesn’t mean that men cooked

The Gokstad Ship, the large ship displayed at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, was part of a man’s grave and also contained a large array of cooking equipment. “These finds were often excused as being because men needed to make their own food on long voyages,” Moen says.

Not everyone agrees with Moen’s interpretation. Just because men chose to bring cookware into the afterlife doesn’t necessarily mean that they did the cooking in their own home, says archaeologist Frans-Arne Stylegar.

Stylegar was previously the county conservator for Vest-Agder, the southernmost county in Norway. He currently works with cultural preservation and urban planning at the consulting firm Multiconsult.

“It is difficult to translate the persona who is idealized in burial customs into actual historical reality. It’s almost a philosophical question,” he says. Moen also thinks there is a stark difference between life and death when it comes to gender roles. But she also thinks that the items that people were buried with have some relation to what real life was like during those times.

A soapstone vessel from the Viking Age, found at Kaupang in Vestfold. Soapstone was used to make cookware, among other items.

She reminds us that tools and equipment aren’t just something that Vikings were buried with. These items were also found in houses, although without the ability to determine who used them.

Farmers and upper-class citizens

Stylegar thinks that Moen’s Ph.D. thesis was well done and that she makes a convincing case that there wasn’t much difference between the way upper-class Viking men and women were buried. He has studied several Viking graves in Vestfold previously and isn’t very surprised by this conclusion. “I’ve gotten this impression previously, but she shows it very clearly,” he said.

However, from his own work in Vestfold, he had the impression that farmers were much more concerned with marking gender in their graves than the upper-class citizens, although he points out that this was not the focus of his research.

There are still a few clear differences between genders for the elite. Men generally have weapons in their graves, while women have jewellery and textile tools, as Moen’s work shows.

Both genders have jewellery

Viking men and women still had more similarities than differences in their graves, Moen said. More than 40 percent of the male graves contained jewellery such as brooches and beads. The men also have what seem to be toiletries in their graves, including tweezers and razors likely used for personal grooming.

Interpreting the past through a modern lens

Moen wonders where the idea that there was clear gender differentiation in the past comes from. Other researchers have pointed out that many of the items retrieved from graves in the early 1900s were interpreted based on the cultural perspectives of those times, in the same way, that Moen now sees the artifacts from her modern perspective.

She calls herself a gender archaeologist, and wants to challenge other archaeologists’ interpretations of Viking culture.  But entrenched perceptions among experts can be difficult to change, she says.

“I encounter quite a bit of skepticism. There are quite a few researchers who are very set in their opinion on gender when it comes to work-related roles,” Moen said. She thinks part of the reason for this is that it is much easier to relate to a version of history that is in keeping with our modern expectations, “a version of history where men and women have specific roles in society,” she said.

“In general, in Viking Age studies, artifacts found in graves are interpreted as being connected to the person buried in the grave. This shouldn’t change for cases where artifacts don’t meet modern expectations of what a man or woman would have in their grave,” Moen said.

Mysterious 2,000-year-old Roman Era wooden arm found in English well may have been a spiritual offering

Mysterious 2,000-year-old Roman Era wooden arm found in English well may have been a spiritual offering

Archaeologists think the finely carved arm could have been an offering to the gods and it is considered to be of national and international importance.

A rare 2,000-year-old wooden arm has been recovered from the bottom of a Roman well.

The “finely carved” limb was found by archaeologists excavating land at the Warth Park industrial estate in Raunds, Northamptonshire.

The arm is very rare and very well preserved

This discovery is so important because of its location and how well preserved the artifact is.

Researchers working at the Warth Park industrial estate in Raunds were carrying out an excavation before more development was supposed to occur in the area.

The arm discovery came as a surprise and it is thought to have survived so well because it lay in waterlogged conditions.

The ancient well had been filled into a lack of oxygen prevented any deterioration from happening.

The arm is more likely to have been a ritual offering than a prosthetic limb
The arm is more likely to have been a ritual offering than a prosthetic limb
Archaeologist and wood expert Michael Bamforth examined the arm found at the bottom of the well

Wood specialist Michael Bamforth wrote in a report that he thinks the arm was “carved from a single branch, which makes use of a natural curve to form the elbow, and is very well made, as no tool marks are visible on its surface”.

It is thought that the artifact was designed to resemble the arm of a small adult or teenager, as it is quite slender and has a graceful open palm pose.

Archaeologists at Oxford Archaeology East also think that the arm was made to be a single object and not part of a larger sculpture as there is no joint evidence.

A small part of the wooden arm has been carbon dated and revealed to be from between 86 and 240 AD.

Bamforth thinks the object was probably thrown into the well as a religious offering.

Although the Romans were known to use wooden limbs for prosthetic purposes, this particular arm is thought to have been purely for ritual purposes because it has no obvious way of attaching to the human body.

Louise Moan from Oxford Archaeology East told The BBC: “It’s extremely improbable that this arm would have been used for a prosthetic.

“It would be heavy and cumbersome to have a large piece of wood like this attached to you if you did it is unlikely that you’d be able to lift it or use it in any meaningful way to aid with everyday life.

“There is also no evidence on the arm to show that it originally had attachments to connect it to anything. 

It is far more likely that this is a single piece which was carved specifically to be thrown down the well as a ritual votive offering.”

Other examples of carved wooden body parts seemingly used for ritual purposes have been found across Europe but they don’t date as far back as the wooden arm in question and have never been found in Britain before.

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Linen Fragments Seized in Michigan

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Linen Fragments Seized in Michigan

U.S. border officials say they have seized ancient Egyptian mummy linens during enforcement operations at the Blue Water Bridge that connects Port Huron, Mich., to Sarnia, Ont. 

Five containers containing the artifacts were seized on May 25 following the selection of the truck for examination in Michigan near Sarnia, Ont., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

The artifacts had come from Canada in a bulk mail shipment, and were being shipped to a home in the United States, Kris Grogan, spokesman for the agency, said in an interview.

“It’s taken some time to identify what they were,” Grogan said. “We’ve had to work with the State Department as well as other federal agencies in identifying this.”

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday officers seized a package of five jars of containing the artifacts found May 25 on a Canadian mail truck.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday officers seized a package of five jars of containing the artifacts found May 25 on a Canadian mail truck.

The artifacts would be sent back to Egypt in the near future, Grogan said.

In a statement, the agency said the importer was unable to prove the linens had been taken out of Egypt before 2016.

That could be a violation of the U.S. Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, a federal law that allows American authorities to impose import restrictions on certain classes of archeological material.

Authorities said they worked with an unidentified archeological organization to pin down the age of the artifacts, which are believed to date back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 305-30 B.C.

One expert in antiquities, Sue McGovern-Huffman, said trying to illegally buy ancient artifacts is more trouble than it’s worth no matter what era the object is from.

“If it’s been illegally taken out of the country, it’s got a zero value as far as the commercial market is concerned,” McGovern-Huffman, president of Sands of Time Antiquities, said from Washington, D.C.

Without an artifact’s provenance or proof of ownership and history, even illegally selling ancient artifacts would be difficult for any dealer on the black market, she said.

McGovern-Huffman, an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers, said pieces like ancient mummy linens have more archeological or study interest than collector interest.

“These fragments have very little value. There are all these reports of antiquities selling for millions and billions of dollars on the black market and it’s completely wrong,” she said. “You’d be lucky to get $50 for this stuff.”

Michael Fox, the customs agency director in Port Huron, Mich., said the seizure was of “historical importance.”

Grogan said no arrests have been made as it remains unclear who might be criminally responsible.