Category Archives: WORLD

Buried Christian (and pagan) basilica discovered in Ethiopia’s ‘lost kingdom’

Buried Christian (and pagan) basilica discovered in Ethiopia’s ‘lost kingdom’

Recently, in an area of Ethiopia that once was home to the Aksumite Empire, Archeologists discovered the oldest known Christian Church in Subsaharan Africa.

Smithsonian magazine reported that the existence of an early basilica, built-in 313 around the time when Constantine legalized the Christian community, leads scholars to believe that this time the faith spreads into Ethiopia. It would become the first Christian kingdom in Aksum Africa.

I understand that this finding is ‘ the earliest physical evidence for a church in Ethiopia, [as well as all of sub-Saharan Africa,]” Aaron Butts, a professor of Semitic and Egyptian languages at Catholic University in Washington, told Smithsonian. Butts was not involved with the excavation.

In Beta Samati, close the modern border with Eritrea, the basilica was found at 70 miles southwest of the Red Sea. The name of the town means “house of the audience” in the local Tigrinya language.

The area is “home to temples built in a southern Arabian style dating back many centuries before the rise of Aksum, a clear sign of ancient ties to the Arabian Peninsula,” the magazine said.

“The temples reflect the influence of Sabaeans, who dominated the lucrative incense trade and whose power reached across the Red Sea in that era.”

The excavators’ biggest discovery was a massive building 60 feet long and 40 feet wide resembling the ancient Roman style of a basilica.

Developed by the Romans for administrative purposes, the basilica was adopted by Christians at the time of Constantine for their places of worship.

They also uncovered a stone pendant carved with a cross and incised with the ancient Ethiopic word “venerable,” as well as incense burners. Near the eastern basilica wall, the team came across an inscription asking “for Christ [to be] favorable to us.”

One of the striking finds from the early Christian church at Beta Samati is this pendant, decorated with a cross and a motto reading “venerable” in Ethiopia’s ancient Ge’ez

According to Ethiopian tradition, Christianity first came to the Aksum Empire in the 4th century,  when a Greek-speaking missionary named Frumentius converted King Ezana, Smithsonian said. “Butts, however, doubts the historical reliability of this account, and scholars have disagreed over when and how the new religion reached distant Ethiopia.”

“This is what makes the discovery of this basilica so important,” he adds. “It is reliable evidence for a Christian presence slightly northeast of Aksum at a very early date.”

While the story of Frumentius may be apocryphal, other finds at the site underline how the spread of Christianity was intertwined with the machinations of commerce.

Stamp seals and tokens used for economic transactions uncovered by the archaeologists point to the cosmopolitan nature of the settlement.

A glass bead from the eastern Mediterranean and large amounts of pottery from Aqaba, in today’s Jordan, attest to long-distance trading.

Woldekiros added that the discoveries show that “long-distance trade routes played a significant role in the introduction of Christianity in Ethiopia.”

Red Granite Bust of Ramesses II Unearthed in Giza

Red Granite Bust of Ramesses II Unearthed in Giza

On Wednesday, December 11, an Egyptian archeological expedition from the Ministry of Antiquities revealed an unusual royal bust of King Ramses II made of red granite in a private area in the village of Mit Rahina, Giza.

The bust that has recently been discovered is emblazoned with the “Ka,” a symbol of strength, life force and spirit.

The King Ramses II bust is sculptured with red granite and shows Ramses II carrying the symbol of “Ka.” The bust has a length of 105 cm, a width of 55, and a thickness of 45 cm.

After the landowner was caught carrying out unlawfully excavating on his land, the mission team discovered this rare bust during excavations on private land in Giza.

The Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, announced that the uncovered King Ramses II bust is one of a kind because the only similar bust is one carved in wood and belongs to 13th Dynasty King Hor Awibre, which is now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The mission has also discovered a group of huge red granite and limestone blocks engraved with scenes showing Ramses II during the Heb-Sed religious ritual, which indicates that these blocks could belong to a great temple dedicated to the worship of the deity Ptah.

The bust and the blocks have been transferred to Mit Rahina open-air museum for restoration, and excavations will continue at the site.

One of the main achievements of King Ramses II is building Abu Simbel temple to impress Egypt’s southern neighbors, and also to reinforce the status of the Egyptian religion in the area.

Abu Simbel was one of six rock temples erected in Nubia during the ruling period of Ramses II and its construction took 20 years from 1264 BC to 1244 BC.

Abu Simbel is made up of two temples. The smaller one was built for Queen Nefertari and has two statues of her and four pharaohs; each about 33 feet (10 meters) in height.

According to many scholars, this great temple was created to celebrate the victory of Ramses II over the Hittites at the Battle of Qadesh in 1274 BC.

This means that the temple was situated on the border of the conquered lands of Nubia after many military campaigns were carried out by the Pharaoh against Nubia.

Celtic shield buried with Bronze Age warrior 2,000 years ago is ‘UK’s most important find’

Celtic shield buried with Bronze Age warrior 2,000 years ago is ‘UK’s most important find’

Archeologists uncovered an amazing Iron Age shield within a 2,200-year-old tomb together with a cart and two ponies hidden in a springing location, in what archeologists call one of the UK’s biggest discoveries.

The grave in the vicinity of Pocklington was found by a group of archeologists headed by Paula Ware of MAP Archaeological Practice Ltd.

Ware told Yorkshire, “The shield, which has a diameter of approximately 30 inches, but its true glory was only revealed recently once conservation was completed,” Ware told Yorkshire post.

It has similarities with the Wandsworth shield boss circa 350 BC 150 BC

The restoration revealed that the shield is decorated with a series of complex swirls and what looks like a sphere protruding from its center. 

The grave also held the remains of a man who was in his 40s when he died. In addition to the chariot and two “leaping” ponies, the site was filled with several pig joints and a feasting fork attached to a pork rib, Ware said.

A chariot along with two ponies found in a leaping pose was buried near the remains of a man who was in his 40s when he died.
The shield when it was first unearthed

Two small brooches — one made of bronze and the other of glass — were also found in the tomb. The elaborate nature of the burial indicates that the deceased man must have been “a significant member of his society,” Ware said. 

Ware agreed with what other media outlets have suggested about the significance of the find: It is one of the most important ancient discoveries ever made in the U.K. “Yes, especially as it has been excavated under modern archaeological conditions,” she told Yorkshire post. 

Ancient chariots are not altogether uncommon in burials. A 2,000-year-old Thracian chariot was discovered in 2008 alongside the bones of two horses and a dog in what is now Bulgaria, Yorkshire post previously reported.

The practice of burying noblemen near chariots in Bulgaria was especially popular during the time of the Roman Empire, which lasted from about 2,100 to 1,500 years ago.

Some 2,500 years ago, a Celtic prince in what is today France was buried in a lavish tomb complete with gorgeous pottery, a gold-tipped drinking vessel and… a chariot,  Yorkshire post reported.

Archaeologists announced in 2014 that they had discovered a 4,000-year-old burial chamber holding two four-wheeled chariots and plenty of treasures in the country of Georgia, in the south Caucasus.

The newfound grave and chariot were discovered when the archaeological team was excavating an area where homes were going to be built. The researchers plan to submit a paper describing the finds to a scientific publication. 

Stone tables found in Chichen Itza reveal unknown information on the ancient Maya

Stone tables found in Chichen Itza reveal unknown information on the ancient Maya

According to a report in The Smithsonianmag, a team of archaeologists led by José Francisco Osorio León and Francisco Pérez Ruiz of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History has found 1,000-year-old pieces of a limestone table inscribed with hieroglyphs and human figures in the so-called Temple of the Snails at Chichen Itza.

Together, the stones measure about five feet long by four and one-half feet wide. The images include possible prisoners of war tied with ropes. Osorio León said the table was carved in Chichen Itza and moved to the Temple of the Snails from another location

The stones are buried at the Snails Temple in the Chichen Viejo region, which is built-in late-terminal classics (900-1000 AD), Osorio Leon commented.

He commented on this pre-Columbian piece “was reused as a table, that is, it does not correspond to the Temple of Snails, and although it was carved in Chichen Itza, the exact place where it was placed and subsequently taken to is unknown. It is thought that the stone table served as an altar”.

López Calzada carried out the supervision of the general conservation and restoration works of the archaeological zone, in its 2019 season, which has the objective of ensuring the state of conservation of the archaeological monuments, of this important World Cultural Heritage site.

The works are carried out in the area known as Chichen Viejo, which includes monumental buildings from the Terminal Classic and Early Postclassic periods.

The official explained that “they correspond to research and rescue of sectors of Chichén Itzá that included secondary cores adjacent to the central area, including the architectural group commonly known as ‘Chichén Viejo’.

The area where INAH – Yucatán specialists currently work is located 800 meters south of the ceremonial complex of Las Monjas in Chichén Itzá, and it is connected to the main archaeological area through Sacbé 25 and Sacbé 26.

He explained that it covers an area of 150 meters north-south by 125 meters east-west, and on a walled platform there are eight main structures, three platforms, and other housing complexes. The building has six accesses, the main one in the form of a large arch with a vault and rounded walls.

The project is directed by archaeologists José Francisco Osorio León and Francisco Pérez Ruiz, researchers attached to the INAH Yucatan Center.

In addition, archaeologists Abimael Josué Cu Pérez, Alfonso Emmanuel Argueta Estrada, Cesar Antonio Torres Ochoa, Nelda Issa Marengo Camacho, among others, are also participating in this project.

More than 50 workers from San Felipe Nuevo, Pisté, and Xcalacop communities in Tinúm are contributing to return the splendor to Chichen Itza with an investment of three million pesos.

The buildings that are intervened are the “Structure of the Stucco”, the “Temple of the Sacrifices”, the “Palace of the Columns”, and “The House of the Snails”, among others that will receive cleaning and general maintenance.

López Calzada added that between January and February of next year, the 2020 Season of the Chichen Itza Archaeological Project will begin, in which more than 60 workers will be employed.

Human footprints dated to roughly 85,000 years ago revealed in Saudi Arabia

Human footprints dated to roughly 85,000 years ago revealed in Saudi Arabia

In the Tabuk province in northwestern Saudi Arabia there are human footprints dating back 85,000 years. The traces of the footprints were discovered on the bank of an ancient lake in the desert of Al-Nafud.

Tabuk, Saudi Arabia

During a tour of the display of the “Roads of Arabian — Saudi Archeological Masterpieces through the Ages,” Prince Sultan bin Salman, Chairman of the Saudi Tourism and National Heritage Commission (SATCH) at the National Museum in Tokyo, Japan, revealed the groundbreaking discovery.

Prince Sultan said that an international team of archaeologists, including Saudi experts, found traces of footprints of several adult prehistoric people scattered on the land and in an old lake.

The people may have been fishing in the lake for food, he said, adding that the findings would be studied in great detail.

Prince Sultan said that the team of researchers led by Michael Petraglia, of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, presented this small piece of bone as the oldest remains of Homo sapiens discovered outside Africa and the Levant. 

“This bone gives essential indications to understand the exodus of our ancestors from Africa,” he said.

Prince Sultan said that the project was part of the “Green Arabia: The Palaeodeserts Project,” a Saudi-British undertaking for survey and excavation to implement environmental and archaeological studies of historical sites in the Kingdom.

The objective is to study the likelihood of expansion or extinction of humans and animals and their adaptation to living conditions. 

The project has led to many other significant discoveries of animals and mammal fossils in Saudi deserts, including a giant 300,000-year-old elephant tusk from the Nafud Desert, suggesting a greener, wetter Arabian Desert in the past.

An elephant’s carpal bone, located five meters from the tusk, was also discovered in the same sand layer at the excavation site.

The project, funded by the European Research Council, the SCTH and the Max Planck Society, examines the environmental change in the Arabian Desert over the past million years.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers is studying the effect of environmental change on early humans and animals that settled or passed through the desert and how their responses determined whether they survived or died out.

Last month, a fossil finger bone unearthed in Saudi Arabia’s Nafud Desert pointed to what scientists are calling a new understanding of how the human species came out of Africa en route to the rest of the world.

A joint scientific team discovered the first sample of ancient human remains in the northwest of Saudi Arabia.

The research team included the Saudi Geological Survey, the SCTH, King Saud University, the Max Planck Foundation for Human History, Oxford University, Cambridge University, the Australia National University and the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Researchers say the discovery shows that hunter-gatherers had reached the area 85,000 years ago. Previously discovered human fossils show an earlier human presence in Israel and possibly China.

The bone, from an adult and most likely a middle finger, was found in 2016 about 550 kilometers southeast of the Sinai Peninsula.

Michael Petraglia, of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, said that the ancient people probably left Africa through the peninsula.

Legendary Saraswati River of Harappan Civilization Found

Legendary Saraswati River of Harappan Civilization Found

A recent study has shown that it is the Ghaggar River that was later identified as the legendary Saraswati with the “clear evidence” that the early Harappans built their settlements.

It has been repeated several times since the 19th Century that a modern Ghaggar-Hakra river system, which runs intermittently between Indian and Pakistan, could be the Saraswati river described in the Rig Veda.

However, with no proof of the river’s uninterrupted flow during the zenith of civilization, it has been argued that the Harappans depended on monsoonal rains.

Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning.

In the study, published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’ on November 20, scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and the Department of Earth Sciences, IIT Bombay presented what they called was “unequivocal evidence for the Ghaggar’s perennial past by studying temporal changes of sediment provenance along a 300 km stretch of the river basin”. ‘

They argued that “this revived perennial condition of the Ghaggar, which can be correlated with the Saraswati, likely facilitated the development of the early Harappan settlements along its banks.”

Study area and subsurface stratigraphy along the Ghaggar-Hakra.

The study argues that “Harappans built their early settlements along with a stronger phase of the river Ghaggar”, during a period 9,000 to 4,500 years ago, “which would later be known as the Saraswati”, but “by the time the civilization matured, the river had already lost its glacial connection.”

The study notes that while the eventual “decline” of the “civilization” at the Ghaggar-Saraswati valley postdates “the exceptional changes to the flow of the river”, “a stronger perennial phase appears to have helped the early societies sow the seeds of the earliest known civilization of the Indian subcontinent.”

The presence of a large number of Harappan settlements along the banks of the modern-day Ghaggar Hakra stream, which had remained monsoon-fed for most of its history, has baffled archaeologists since the 1950s.

The ancient Harappan settled along the Saraswati River.

The authors noted that the observation that “Harappans in the Ghaggar valley made little effort to harvest rainwater, unlike their counterparts in the semi-arid Saurashtra and Rann of Kachchh regions” in spite of a weakening monsoon raised “serious doubt about the conclusion that the Ghaggar had a seasonal water supply.”

The researchers noted that two of its largest cities, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, along with smaller settlements were built along “mighty and frequently flooding Indus and Ravi, respectively.”

In spite of evidence of an increase in localized rainfall for a few centuries, during the urbanization of the period, the study notes, “The important question that needs to be asked is: what made the early settlers build their cities along a supposedly dying river instead of the well-watered plains of neighboring perennial Himalayan rivers.”

The researchers studied the temporal changes in the origin of the sediment along the 300 kilometer stretch of the river basin and established that 80,000 to 20,000 years ago, the river was receiving sediments from the Higher Himalayas and 9,000 to 4,500 years ago, from the Lesser Himalayas.

“The latter phase can be attributed to the reactivation of the river by the distributaries of the Sutlej,” it added.

The study scrutinized the dynamics of the Harappan civilization and found that “timing of the rejuvenated perennial phase of the Ghaggar”, which was between 9,000 to 4,500 years ago, “coincides with that of the flourishing of the Pre-Harappan and Early Harappan cultures along its banks.”

“Towards the end of the Mature Harappan phase (4.6-3.9 ka), there is a clear evidence of human migrations to the lower and upper reaches of the river, leaving the middle part sparsely populated…which could be attributed to the disorganization of the river as established in this work,” it said while adding that the lower reaches of the river “possibly remained perennial, through a connection from the Sutlej, supporting mature and post-urban Harappan settlements.”

A Ceramic Jar Filled with Thousand of bronze coins Unearthed at the site of a 15th-century Samurai Residents

A Ceramic Jar Filled with Thousand of bronze coins Unearthed at the site of a 15th-century Samurai Residents

Archaeology is like a treasure hunt where the prizes are pieces of information from the past, and Japanese archaeologists recently hit the jackpot. They discovered a jar filled with coins belonging to a medieval samurai.

The ceramic jar was found in the Saitama Prefecture north of Tokyo and is one of the largest hauls of medieval coins discovered in the country, it has been unearthed at the site of a fifteenth-century samurai’s residence.

The jar, which dates back to the first half of the 15th century, contains well over 100,000 bronze coins and measures nearly 24 inches in diameter.

According to archaeologist Yoshiyuki Takise of the Saitama Cultural Deposits Research Corporation, the coins, which were cast in China, may have been an offering to the deity of the earth, or may simply have been buried for safekeeping.

A wood tablet was discovered next to the stone lid, with the words “nihyaku rokuju” (260) written in ink. Archaeologists believe this could refer to 260 kan, or units of 1,000, placing the total at 260,000 coins in the jar.

The treasure was buried 6.5 feet (2 meters) below ground and was likely placed there to save the samurai’s riches, as it was a troubled period in Japan’s history.

Over the course of the 15th century, civil war broke out as the Muromachi shogunate was under attack.

This was a period where the Emperor was relatively weak, with military dictators known as shoguns leading the country.

The second half of the 15th century saw different families jockeying for position and power—leading to increased violence.

In a town just north of Tokyo, a ceramic jar filled with thousands of bronze coins has been unearthed at the site of a fifteenth-century samurai’s residence.

Feudal lords, known as daimyō, challenged the shogun’s authority and it was in this era that ninjas were often hired and used as secret assassins.

With that picture clear, it makes sense that a powerful samurai would want to keep his money hidden.

For now, 70 of the coins have been examined. These coins were looped on a string and include 19 different coins from China and different areas of Japan.

It’s thought that all of the coins—which have holes in the center—would have been strung together on a rope before being added to the jar.

Based on the coins looked at so far, researchers believe the jar would have been buried at some point after the second half of the 15th century.

Mysterious flooding leads to the discovery of 5,000-year-old underground city in Turkey’s Cappadocia

Mysterious flooding leads to the discovery of 5,000-year-old underground city in Turkey’s Cappadocia

One of the most spectacular sights in the world is in Central Turkey – dark valleys and rock formations with homes, chapels, churches, mosques and entire underground towns, harmoniously cut into the natural landscape.

These unique underground havens have risen and fallen around cities, empires, and religions, and yet it seems they still hold a few more secrets.

Another massive underground city in Cappadocia has been uncovered by archeologists in Turkey, consisting of at least 7 km of caves, hidden churches and escape galleries, dating back some five thousand years.

Calling it the “biggest archeological finding of 2014”, Hurriyet Daily News announced that the ancient city was found beneath Nevşehir fortress and the surrounding area, during an urban transformation project carried out by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ). 

“Some 1,500 buildings were destructed located in and around the Nevşehir fortress, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had started,” writes Hurriyet Daily News.

Nevşehir province in Cappadocia, Turkey

Nevşehir province is already famous for its incredible subterranean city at Derinkuyu (pictured in featured image), which was once home to as many as 20,000 residents living together underground.

It is eleven levels deep and has 600 entrances and many miles of tunnels connecting it to other underground cities.  It incorporates areas for sleeping, stables for livestock, wells, water tanks, pits for cooking, ventilation shafts, communal rooms, bathrooms, and tombs.

A reconstruction of what the Derinkuyu underground city is believed to have looked like

It is hard to imagine anything surpassing the Derinkuyu underground city in both size and scope, but archaeologists are saying they have reason to believe the newly discovered subterranean city will be the largest out of all the other underground cities in Nevşehir and may even be the largest underground city in the world.

Details regarding the dating of the site and how this was carried out, have not yet been released by those involved.

However, researchers have reported retrieving more than forty artifacts from the tunnels so far, so archaeologists may have reached the estimated date of 5,000 years based on those.

Numerous other known underground sites in Cappadocia have also been dated to this era.

Despite pouring 90 million Turkish Liras into the urban transformation project so far, the TOKİ has said it will move now their project to the outskirts of the city so that the newly found city, which is now officially registered with the Cultural and National Heritage Preservation Board, can be investigated and preserved.

TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan told Hurriyet Daily News that they do not view this as a loss considering the importance of the discovery.

“Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir, said other underground cities in Nevşehir’s various districts do not even amount to the “kitchen” of this new underground city,” reports Hurriyet Daily News.

Through the ages, the Hittites, Persians, Alexander the Great, Rome, The Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Turkey have all governed the spectacular region of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia.

One hundred square miles with more than 200 underground villages and tunnel towns complete with hidden passages, secret rooms, and ancient temples and remarkably storied history of each new civilization building on the work of the last, make Cappadocia one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling regions of the world.

Now a discovery has been made that may overshadow them all.

The incredible cave houses of Cappadocia, Turkey.