Category Archives: WORLD

An underground city unearthed in Turkey may have been a refuge for early Christians

An underground city unearthed in Turkey may have been a refuge for early Christians

Archaeologists in southeastern Turkey have unearthed a vast underground city that was built almost 2,000 years ago and could have been home to up to 70,000 people. The subterranean complex may have been a protected space that early Christians used to escape Roman persecution.

An underground city unearthed in Turkey may have been a refuge for early Christians
Many artefacts from the second and third centuries A.D. were unearthed in an underground city in Mardin’s Midyat district in Turkey, as shown in this April 16 photo.

The first underground chambers of the ancient complex were found about two years ago, during a project to clean and conserve historical streets and houses in the Midyat district of Mardin province.

Workers on the project first discovered a limestone cave, and then a passage into the rest of the hidden city, Gani Tarkan, the director of the Mardin Museum and the head of the excavations, told the Turkish government-owned Anadolu Agency. That said, some of the local people had already known that there were caves below Midyat, but had not known there was an entirely underground city, Tarkan told Live Science in an email.

Now, 49 chambers have been unearthed in the colossal complex, as well as connecting passages, water wells, grain storage silos, the rooms of homes, and places of worship, including a Christian church and a large hall with a Star of David symbol on the wall, which appears to be a Jewish synagogue.

Artefacts found in the caverns — including Roman-era coins and oil lamps —  indicate that the subterranean complex was built sometime in the second or third centuries A.D, Tarkan told Live Science.

And there is still a large area to excavate. Tarkan estimates that less than 5% of the underground city, now known as Matiate, has been explored so far — an area of over 100,000 square feet (10,000 square m). He thinks the entire complex may be larger than 4 million square feet (400,000 square m) in the area and would have been large enough to accommodate between 60,000 and 70,000 people.

It’s possible that the city originally served as a refuge: “It was first built as a hiding place or escape area,” he suggested. 

“Christianity was not an official religion in the second century [and] families and groups who accepted Christianity generally took shelter in underground cities to escape the persecution of Rome,” Tarkan said. “Possibly, the underground city of Midyat was one of the living spaces built for this purpose.”

Ancient geographers wrote that the southern region of what is now Turkey was inhabited by Christians before its more central parts and that Christians in the area were heavily persecuted, not only by the Romans but also by the Persians in the fourth century, he told Live Science. 

Medieval travellers in the region at times of war also reported that they’d found entire towns and cities completely empty of inhabitants, and so it was possible the inhabitants had in fact hidden underground in places like Matiate, he said. 

In the early first century A.D., Roman officials did not distinguish between Jews and Christians, because many early Christians were also Jews. But that changed in A.D. 64 when Emperor Nero blamed and then killed Christians for a fire that swept through Rome, according to Britannica. Although the persecutions were sporadic, they continued until the early fourth century; and while the numbers are debated, it’s likely that thousands of Christians were executed during this time. In A.D. 313, however, Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, making Christianity legal and ending the persecutions; and in 380 Emperor Theodosius issued the Edict of Thessalonica, making it the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Lozan Bayar, an archaeologist with Mardin’s Office for Protection and Supervision, agreed that Matiate might have been used by early Christians to escape Roman persecution.

“In the early period of Christianity, Rome was under the influence of pagans before later recognizing Christianity as an official religion,” he told Hürriyet Daily News, a Turkish news outlet. Such underground cities provided security to people and they also performed their prayers there. They were also places of escape.”

Hidden city

Excavation teams discovered that a cave, which was found during works carried out in the historical streets and houses in the district two years ago, opened up into underground corridors that provide passages to different places.

The ancient city of Midyat above the subterranean complex was likely first built by the Hurrians, a people who occupied parts of central and southern Anatolia (in present-day Turkey) up to 4,000 years ago, during the Bronze Age. The city first appears in Assyrian records in the ninth century B.C. as “Matiate” — a name that meant “city of caves,” possibly because there are many limestone caves nearby — the name that has now been assigned to the underground city.

Midyat was occupied, in turn, by Arameans, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans during its long history, with each civilization building on the work of the last. As a result, Midyat is now well-known for its ancient architecture, and it draws up to 3 million tourists every year, according to Hürriyet Daily News. More than 100 traditional houses near the city’s centre are now protected because of their historical significance, and nine churches and monasteries in the city are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Tarkan thinks the hidden city of Matiate will be an additional attraction when the excavations are completed.” While the houses on the top are dated to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, there is a completely different city underneath,” he said. “That city is 1,900 years old.”

Going underground

The underground city, which is called “Matiate,” is home to many places of worship, silos, water wells, passages and corridors.

The tradition of building homes and cities underground is well established in Turkey. More than 40 ancient subterranean cities have been found there, including Derinkuyu — an enormous complex in the central Cappadocia region that was burrowed into soft volcanic rock, possibly by the Anatolian people known as the Phrygians in the eighth and ninth centuries B.C.

Derinkuyu was large enough to hold 20,000 people, and was occupied until the medieval period: for example, Byzantine Christians and Jews used it as a refuge during Arab invasions between the eighth and 12th centuries A.D. Science writer Will Hunt, author of the book “Underground: A Human History of the World’s Beneath Our Feet” (Random House, 2019) said there were many stories of people in what is now Turkey who had found holes in their land, or sometimes right inside their homes, that opened up to sprawling warrens of human-made tunnels.

“Some go down more than 10 levels and have space for tens of thousands of people,” he told Live Science in an email. “They are like upside-down castles.”

Hunt echoes Tarkan’s suggestion that the underground structures at Matiate may have been used in defence. “Beneath any settlement, there would have been an underground city, where people would take cover when they were under attack,” he said.

And it wasn’t just in Turkey: “all over the world, throughout history, whenever there is a threat on the surface, people have dark underground [spaces] to protect themselves from danger,” he said. “It’s practically instinctual.”

An ancient skeleton with a prosthetic eye was discovered 15 years ago

An ancient skeleton with a prosthetic eye was discovered 15 years ago

Believe it or not, fake eyes have existed for thousands of years. Besides improving the physical appearance of the patient needing the artificial eye, fake eyes also prevent tissues in the eye socket from overgrowing and prevent foreign debris from entering the eye without a bandage or eyepatch.

An ancient skeleton with a prosthetic eye was discovered 15 years ago
Rome’s National Museum of Oriental Art displayed the reconstructed face of a female skeleton which was found in Iran’s Burnt City wearing a fake eye. The museum closed in 2017 and its collections were transferred to the Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography in Rome.

Though prosthetics may seem like a more recent medical development, they actually have one of the oldest origins in medical history.

The world’s oldest prosthetic eye, for example, was discovered in Iran’s “Burnt City” in 2006. Archaeologists determined that this eye is from approximately 2900-2800 BC and was found still embedded in the eye socket of a woman’s skull.

The discovery of this eye reveals the ancient history of prosthetics including eyes, legs, and arms. The detailed craftsmanship of the eye also reveals early ideas regarding light, sight, and the purpose of prosthetics. By analyzing the structure, location, and purpose of the ancient prosthetic, we can infer more about the Burnt City itself as well as how this creation shaped medical advancement over time.

The world’s oldest fake eye was discovered in the “Burnt City” in Iran in 2006 and it dated from 2900-2800 BC!

Iran’s Burnt City and the Oldest Ever Fake Eye

Shahr-e Sukhteh is the archaeological site of an ancient Bronze Age urban settlement in what is now southeastern Iran. This site is called “ the Burnt City ” because most of the city had been burnt by multiple fires starting around 3200 BC. Due to the age of the artefacts discovered at the site, archaeologists believe the city was abandoned around 2350 BC, though it is unclear if a fire was the ultimate reason for the city’s sudden abandonment.

Multiple excavations have been done in Burnt City since 1997. Famous discoveries from the site include an ancient dice table game, a skull displaying ancient brain surgery, a marble cup, and an adorned piece of leather from the Bronze Age.

The most interesting discovery, however, was the world’s oldest known fake eye in 2006. The eye was found in the remains of a woman estimated to be six feet tall, and physical evidence from the eye confirms it would have been worn during her life rather than inserted after her death. They estimated that the woman was between 25 to 30 years old at the time of her death.

Archaeologists who discovered the fake eye say that the prosthetic eye was made of a mixture of natural tar and animal fat, which likely kept it moist and durable during its use 4,800 years ago. Those studying the eye were fascinated by the detailed craftsmanship. The eye had individual capillaries drawn with golden wire less than half a millimeter thick.

A circular pupil was carved into the front with parallel lines drawn around it to form a diamond-shaped iris. Two holes with gold wire were found on either side of the artificial eyeball, which illustrated how the eye would have stayed inside its socket. This soft gold wire would have made insertion gentle while still providing the support needed to keep the eye from falling out. They would have also helped to let the eye move gently in its socket.

Those studying the eye inferred that it had been worn while the woman was still living because of preserved eyelid tissue that had been stuck to the eye. They also found evidence from this tissue and surrounding tissue on the woman’s skull that she may have developed an abscess on her eyelid due to its rubbing against the artificial eye while blinking.

Archaeologists found multiple clay vessels , ornamental beads, and jewelry pieces in the ancient woman’s gravesite. They also found a leather sack and a bronze mirror, both of which were still in excellent condition. These discoveries led archaeologists to believe that this woman was of high social status and was perhaps a member of the royal family.

Only individuals of significant social status would have had such ornate jewelry , clay, leather, and copper. This would also support her reason for having a fake eye. If she were in a position of power or high rank, she would have needed the eye to maintain her physical appearance and would have been one of few with the financial resources needed to customize an artificial eye that fitted her.

Fake eyes or prosthetic eyes have been around since about 2800 BC and today they are still made for the same purposes.

From Tar, To Gold, To Glass, To Acrylic

Details in the craftsmanship of the discovered fake eye show that the creator had a significant understanding of ocular anatomy. From the thin layer of gold to represent the iris to the tiniest blood vessels illustrated with gold wire, the eye was designed to be tasteful yet accurate for the wearer. In addition to these details, some bits of white colour was found on the white part of the eye, which suggests that the eye was once delicately painted to realistically illustrate an eye.

Other details about the eye lead archaeologists to conclude that the eye was handmade in Burnt City, rather than made elsewhere and imported. This tells us that at some point in Burnt City’s history, ocular health was studied by medical and craft professionals. This focus may have led to other medical advancements in treatment for ocular conditions such as infection or blindness in the city, though additional evidence of this has not been found.

The development of artificial eyes in other areas has been somewhat different from the eye discovered in Burnt City. In the 16th century France, surgeons made artificial eyes out of gold and silver to be worn either in front of or behind the eyelid.

Shakespeare referenced eyes made of glass in King Lear in 1606. In the 1800s, enamel artificial eyes were attractive but not durable, and advancements continued until today’s prosthetic eyes, which are made of hard acrylic, a type of durable plastic material.

Prosthetics have certainly come a long way since the time of the tar and animal fat eye found in the Burnt City. However, analysis of that eye still shows an impressive ancient understanding of ocular anatomy, which is fascinating to consider when thinking about ancient Iran. As medical knowledge advances, perhaps someday we may see even more durable and effective prosthetics for those who need them.

Stunningly Well-Preserved Arrows With Feathers Revealed By Melting Ice Sheets In Norway

Stunningly Well-Preserved Arrows With Feathers Revealed By Melting Ice Sheets In Norway

A spectacularly preserved arrow from the Iron Age — complete with its iron arrowhead, sinew wrappings and aerodynamic feather fletching — is now in the hands of glacial archaeologists in Norway.

Stunningly Well-Preserved Arrows With Feathers Revealed By Melting Ice Sheets In Norway
Archaeologists used warm water to melt the ice and snow around this Iron Age arrow found in Norway.

It’s rare for arrow fletching to preserve, as the delicate feathers that help guide the arrow in flight usually decay over time.

The arrows of Ötzi the Iceman, who died about 5,300 years ago in what is now the Italian Alps, also have preserved fletching, although their condition isn’t as good as that of this newly discovered 1,700-year-old arrow, the archaeologists said.

“I think it is perhaps just the Ötzi-find which has preserved fletching on arrows, but his arrow fletchings are nowhere as well preserved as some of ours,” Lars Pilø, an archaeologist at the Department of Cultural Heritage, Innlandet County Council, Norway, co-director of the Glacier Archaeology Program, told Live Science in an email. 

However, “his are older too, by several thousand years, so this is not to diss Ötzi’s arrows,” Pilø said.

The archaeologists found the 31.5-inch-long (80 centimetres) arrow during a survey at an undisclosed site in the Jotunheimen mountains in southern Norway in 2019, the glacial archaeology group Secrets of the Ice announced on Twitter on April 28.

“It is probably the best-preserved arrow we have found so far,” said Pilø, who is also editor of the Secrets of the Ice website. For instance, the sinew, wrapped around the front end of the arrow shaft to reduce the risk of fracture on impact, is still “wrapped tightly” and in place, he said. The remains of the thread and tar used to craft the arrow are also present.

It’s unusual for feathers to have not degraded completely.
The archaeologists discovered this 4,000-year-old Stone Age arrow lying in a meltwater pond.

“No wood species determination has been made, but the shafts of this type tend to be made in pine,” Pilø added. “Hopefully, it will be possible to find out which birds the feathers come from, what animal the sinew came from, etc.”

The team decided to forgo radiocarbon dating, as they would have to destroy part of the arrow when taking a sample to test its carbon isotopes (variants of the element carbon). They would rather the entire arrow stay intact for when it goes on display in a museum, he said.

But, because this style of the arrow is well known, it’s fairly easy to date. “The shaft type is known from Danish weapon sacrifices found in bogs, and the arrowhead is also a well-known type from graves in southern Norway,” Pilø said, so it’s likely that this weapon dates to between A.D. 300 and 600.

At that time, hunters would have gone into the mountains and used arrows like this one to shoot reindeer, he added.

This arrow is one of eight that Secrets of the Ice found during the 2019 survey.

The archaeologists hope to find more artefacts soon, as Norway’s glaciers are melting due to climate change. In one instance, the team found an arrow at the edge of the ice at one site in 2013. “The location of this find is now 100 m [328 feet] from the ice,” Pilø said.

Ancient mystery in NC: Judaculla Rock holds 1,500-year-old petroglyphs

Ancient mystery in NC: Judaculla Rock holds 1,500-year-old petroglyphs

In the mountains of Jackson County in North Carolina lies a large mysterious rock covered in petroglyphs that have yet to be deciphered. For the Cherokee Indians, the rock and surrounding area is a sacred site where ceremonies used to take place. Indeed, Judaculla Rock is surrounded by rumours and legends, including strange sounds and UFO sightings during the night.

Judaculla and the Cherokee Indians

According to Cherokee oral tradition, in ancient times Judaculla was a slant-eyed giant with seven fingers who lived in the mountainous area, and the stone was his territorial marker. They believed the seven-digit claw marks are his handprints and a long, straight line drawn on the rock was a boundary: cross that, and they were impeding onto his hunting territory.

The name Judaculla means “he has them slanting” or the “slant-eyed giant,” and the Cherokee attributed him with superhuman strength and capabilities like flying or teleporting from mountaintop to mountaintop. Legend had it that Judaculla was even capable of controlling the wind, rain, thunder and lightning.

The Cherokee believed that Judaculla was able to take ordinary people to the spirit world and was able to communicate with people. It appears to be a similar type of god-like creature as the ones mentioned in all mythologies around the world.

Petroglyphs on Judaculla Rock.

The Petroglyph-Covered Judaculla Rock

Judaculla rock can be found just 6 miles (9.66 km) from Cullowhee, an anglicized form of Judaculla-whee, meaning “Judaculla’s Place.” The stone itself is a curvilinear-shaped outcrop of soapstone rock with more than 1,500 petroglyphs all over it. The symbols are tightly packed together and include many stick-like figures, two strange seven-digit hand/claw prints, thousands of cup marks, as well as many other carvings. It measures about 22 meters squared (240 sq ft).

The petroglyphs probably date back to between 2000 and 3000 BC and during digging around the stone, quarry tools were discovered. No other stones in the area were found with similar markings, making the stone even more mysterious. The site has been included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ancient mystery in NC: Judaculla Rock holds 1,500-year-old petroglyphs
The petroglyphs of Judaculla Rock.

Deciphering the Petroglyphs of Judaculla Rock

Theories about the content of the petroglyphs on the rock are abundant. They span from maps to religious symbols with a secret message or just graffiti made by ancient people.

Rock art may represent animals or humans or other figures of importance. Recently a team of scientists used laser-guided equipment in order to create a detailed view of the Judaculla Rock for studying. Unfortunately, the weather has started corroding the rock and the symbols will gradually disappear since the rock is ­­open to the weather.

Medium reported that in 1945, the Cherokee Chief Blythe believed “the rock carvings to be a record of a peace treaty between the Cherokee and the Catawbas.” Other theories include the petroglyphs representing a “game conservation law,” picture map of a battle or even the record of a treaty. Nevertheless, the ubiquitous gaggle of pseudo-science sleuths is never far behind.

Judaculla Rock.

Rumours and Pseudo-Science Revolving Around Judaculla Rock

Many rumours and legends surround the mysterious rock including strange sounds and UFO appearances. Stories abound about ghost sounds around Judaculla Rock during the night, which Atlas Obscura claims are “made spookier by the location of a cemetery a few hundred feet away.”

Unfortunately, for the time being, the secret meanings of the Judaculla rock will remain locked. In the meantime, a silent battle is taking place to protect the site from over-tourism and to define the true meaning of the site. Some theories even claim that the site is surrounded by electromagnetic anomalies, adding to the enigma of Judaculla rock.

In fact, America Unearthed from the History Channel made a “documentary” about Judaculla Rock back in 2014, much to the dismay of local experts and custodians who opposed the access approved by the county, which has owned the site since the 1960s. “Already, some groups have placed online absurdities about Judaculla and the Rock, encouraging visits to the Rock by some weird or unstable folks,” wrote Keith Parker, whose family owned the Judaculla rock site for decades, in an email at the time to the county in protest at them being allowed to film at the ancient site, reported Smokey Mountain News.

Adding to the mystery, across the Atlantic, within the rolling green hills of Scotland, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stones engraved with identical cup marks and cup and ring motifs as those evidenced on the Judaculla Rock. This has led some to wonder how it’s possible that somebody in the distant past carved the same motifs on separate continents?

These theories have angered the Cherokee population. “From the Cherokee perspective, Judaculla Rock is a cultural validation of who we are as a people,” wrote Dr Tom Belt, a Cherokee culture and language expert at Western Carolina University to the county in protest to filming by the History Channel, reported Smokey Mountain News. “Correct and conscientious stewardship of these gifts is a moral responsibility to those who have passed and to those yet to come.”

24,000-Year-Old Siberian Boy Sheds New Light on Origins of Native Americans

24,000-Year-Old Siberian Boy Sheds New Light on Origins of Native Americans

Results from a DNA study of a young boy’s skeletal remains believed to be 24,000 years old could turn the archaeological world upside down — it’s been demonstrated that nearly 30 per cent of modern Native American’s ancestry came from this youngster’s gene pool, suggesting First Americans came directly from Siberia, according to a research team that includes a Texas A&M University professor.

Kelly Graf, assistant professor in the Center for the Study of First Americans and Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M, is part of an international team spearheaded by Eske Willerslev and Maanasa Raghaven from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and additional researchers from Sweden, Russia, United Kingdom, University of Chicago and the University of California-Berkeley.

Their work, funded by the Danish National Science Foundation, Lundbeck Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, is published in the current issue of Nature magazine.

24,000-Year-Old Siberian Boy Sheds New Light on Origins of Native Americans
The new study shows that ancestors of Native Americans migrated to the Americas from Siberia and not directly from Europe.

Graf and Willerslev conceived the project and travelled to the Hermitage State Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the remains are now housed to collect samples of ancient DNA.

The skeleton was first discovered in the late 1920s near the village of Mal’ta in south-central Siberia, and since then it has been referred to as “the Mal’ta child” because until this DNA study the biological sex of the skeleton was unknown.

“Now we can say with confidence that this individual was a male,” says Graf.

Graf helped extract DNA material from the boy’s upper arm and “the results surprised all of us quite a bit,” she explains.

“It shows he had close genetic ties to today’s Native Americans and some western Eurasians, specifically some groups living in central Asia, South Asia, and Europe. Also, he shared close genetic ties with other Ice-Age western Eurasians living in European Russia, the Czech Republic and even Germany.

We think these Ice-Age people were quite mobile and capable of maintaining a far-reaching gene pool that extended from central Siberia all the way west to central Europe.”

Another significant result of the study is that the Mal’ta boy’s people were also ancestors of Native Americans, explaining why some early Native American skeletons such as Kennewick Man were interpreted to have some European traits.

“Our study proves that Native Americans ancestors migrated to the Americas from Siberia and not directly from Europe as some have recently suggested,” Graf explains.

The DNA work performed on the boy is the oldest complete genome of a human sequenced so far, the study shows. Also found near the boy’s remains were flint tools, a beaded necklace and what appears to be pendant-like items, all apparently placed in the burial as grave goods.

The discovery raises new questions about the timing of human entry in Alaska and ultimately North America, a topic hotly debated in First Americans studies.

“Though our results cannot speak directly to this debate, they do indicate Native American ancestors could have been in Beringia — extreme northeastern Russia and Alaska — any time after 24,000 years ago and therefore could have colonized Alaska and the Americas much earlier than 14,500 years ago, the age suggested by the archaeological record.”

“What we need to do is continue searching for earlier sites and additional clues to piece together this very big puzzle.”

The Spirit Cave Mummy is Over 10,000 Years Old

The Spirit Cave Mummy is Over 10,000 Years Old

The remains were found with moccasins, a rabbit-skin blanket, and many other artifacts.

Mummies are deceased humans or animals that have been preserved, which keeps their remains from decaying any further. While Ancient Egyptians are most commonly associated with the mummification process, there are actually mummies found all over the world.

The process can either be deliberate or accidental.

The Spirit Cave Mummy, wrapped in the material in which it was laid to rest.

Although you may have used toilet paper for a mummy costume in the past, the real method includes wrapping the dead body in linen and embalming it. And on rare occasions, environmental conditions happen to be just right to result in a body’s preservation.

Now you may be wondering who the oldest mummy is, and that honour goes to the Spirit Cave Mummy at 10,600 years old. However, its importance runs deeper than just its old age.

The Spirit Cave Mummy was part of a fierce battle between the government and a Native American tribe over its cultural and scientific significance.

The Spirit Cave Mummy was discovered in 1940 by archaeologists and husband-and-wife team George and Sydney Wheeler. They found several sets of remains in a small rocky cave located in northwest Nevada, one of which was partially mummified.

The mummified man was determined to have died while he was in his forties. His remains were found wrapped in a rabbit-skin blanket and reed mats, and he was still wearing moccasins.

At the time the man’s mummy was found, it was estimated that he died between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago. However, when more advanced testing methods came along in the 1990s, it was found that the skeleton was actually 10,600 years old, making the Spirit Cave Mummy the oldest mummy found in North America.

There was a long legal argument starting in 1997 over who should have possession of the oldest mummy in North America. Native Americans from the region believed that they should have the remains due to cultural affiliation since the mummy was found in their ancestral homeland. However, when the federal government rejected their request for possession, the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of the Fallon Reservation and Colony sued the government.   

The government alleged that they wanted possession of the remains for scientific research, but the US Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act states that Native Americans have control over resurfaced items and remains to which they have biological or cultural connections.

The US government’s Bureau of Land Management is the agency that declined the tribe’s request. Although a US District Court Judge told the agency to reconsider their decision, no progress was really made with this case for 20 years.

The Great Basin Desert where the Spirit Cave Mummy was discovered in 1940.

Initially, the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe did not want to pursue genetic analysis to prove that the mummy was an ancestor, but eventually, they agreed to do so.

A couple of years later, the DNA sequencing test revealed that the skeleton was in fact related to the indigenous people of North and South America. On November 22, 2016, the mummy was repatriated to the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and they held a reburial for the remains.

Several scientific findings were made due to the discovery of the Spirit Cave Mummy. It was one of the first to be dated using accelerated mass spectrometer radiocarbon dating, a process that revealed the mummy to be much older than previously thought. It raised further questions about migration patterns in early North and South America. Additionally, a total of 67 artefacts were recovered from the cave along with the mummy, revealing how ancient humans lived and died.

Although it took many years for the mummy to be repatriated to the local Native American tribe, DNA testing ended up being a win-win for all parties involved.

The Paiute-Shoshone Tribe was able to prove ancestry and have the remains returned to them, and the government was able to gain some vital scientific information from performing the test before repatriating the remains.

There is so much more to be discovered about the past, and each finding brings scientists closer to more answers. DNA analysis on the Spirit Cave Mummy gave more insight into early humans and resolved the conflict between the federal government and the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe.

Skeletons in Dutch Mass Grave Are British Soldiers

Skeletons in Dutch Mass Grave Are British Soldiers

More than 80 British soldiers who were buried in a mass grave in the Netherlands 200 years ago died of disease rather than during combat, archaeologists have revealed. The mass grave, which contains 82 skeletons, was found by chance in the town of Vianen in November 2020.

Archaeologists discovered the mass grave by chance on the city moat in Vianen in November 2020

The soldiers buried there are believed to have died during the Flanders Campaign of 1793-1795, in which the British fought the French.

The campaign was part of the First Coalition war, which pitched post-revolutionary France against an alliance made up of Britain, Prussia, Russia, the Netherlands and Austria.

Skeletons in Dutch Mass Grave Are British Soldiers
The soldiers are believed to have died during the Flanders Campaign of 1793-1795, in which the British fought the French

Now, analysis of some of the remains has shown that the soldiers endured extremely tough conditions, both in civilian life and after they joined up.

Instead of dying of sabre wounds, musket bullets or artillery fire, they died of disease.

“Most of them died of illness rather than fighting on the battlefield,” Hans Veenstra, an archaeologist, told The Telegraph.

“The conditions in which they lived were extremely poor. They slept in small tents in all weather, their food was not of good quality and there were all kinds of bacteria that had the chance to spread disease.”

The mass grave was found close to the site of what was a British military field hospital, which was set up in December 1794.

The mass grave was discovered close to the site of what was a British military field hospital, set up in December 1794

Of the six skeletons which have so far been examined with isotope analysis of their bones, three are believed to be British – two came from Cornwall and another from a town somewhere in central England. Two others are of possible English descent, while the sixth was German.

“That is not particularly strange because German forces were fighting with the British during the Flanders campaign,” said Mr Veenstra, from De Steekproef, a Dutch archaeological research company.

A mass grave found during research for the new canal

The mass grave was found by chance when archaeologists were conducting research in the area prior to plans to excavate a new canal.

“It was a big surprise, it was found purely by accident. The chances of finding so many bodies, centuries later, is very small,” he said.

While the average age of the soldiers was 26, some were teenagers.

They were buried in wooden coffins but without their uniforms. “Those would have been taken by the army and given to other soldiers,” said Mr Veenstra.

Stonehenge: Archaeologists unearth 10,000-year-old hunting pits

Stonehenge: Archaeologists unearth 10,000-year-old hunting pits

Thousands of pits believed to have been used by prehistoric hunters have been unearthed near Stonehenge. The find, by University of Birmingham and Ghent University researchers, included sites over 10,000 years old.

Stonehenge: Archaeologists unearth 10,000-year-old hunting pits
Researchers say the largest pit is the most ancient trace of how land was used at Stonehenge

One of the pits, which was 13ft (4m) wide and 6.5ft (2m) deep, was the largest of its kind in northwest Europe, the archaeologists said.

The discoveries were made using a combination of novel geophysics and “traditional” archaeology, they added.

The researchers said the pits, dating from between around 8,200 BCE and 7800 BCE, showed hunter-gatherers had roamed the landscape during the early Mesolithic period when Britain was re-inhabited after the last Ice Age.

The discovery was partly made with a technique known as electromagnetic induction survey, which uses the electrical conductivity of soil to provide information that can be used to find materials underground.

It was the first extensive electromagnetic induction survey undertaken in the Stonehenge landscape, according to the University of Birmingham.

The hunting pits were discovered by the archaeologists near the site of Stonehenge

Paul Garwood, senior lecturer in prehistory at the University of Birmingham, said what had been discovered was “not a snapshot of one moment in time”.

“The traces we see in our data span millennia, as indicated by the 7,000-year timeframe between the oldest and most recent prehistoric pits we’ve excavated.

“From early hunter-gatherers to later Bronze Age inhabitants of farms and field systems, the archaeology we’re detecting is the result of the complex and ever-changing occupation of the landscape.”

Dr Nick Snashall, the archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, said the team had revealed some of the earliest evidence of human activity yet unearthed in the Stonehenge landscape.

“The discovery of the largest known Early Mesolithic pit in northwest Europe shows this was a special place for hunter-gatherer communities thousands of years before the first stones were erected,” Dr Snashall said.

Philippe De Smedt, associate professor at Ghent University, said the combination of new techniques and traditional archaeology had revealed otherwise “elusive” archaeological evidence around Stonehenge.