Category Archives: WORLD

Postclassic Period Maya Village Discovered in Mexico

Postclassic Period Maya Village Discovered in Mexico

In between the Mangroves and the Forest, experts from the Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) documented the Post-Classic Mayan Pre-Hispanic Settlement (1200-1546 AD), which represents the first of that era detected in the locality on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula.

The ancient village named by the specialists of the INAH Quintana Roo Center, as Mahahual has as a particularity remarkable proximity to the Caribbean coast, for which, together with the fact that all the structures located at this time are of residential or water supply structures, it is theorized that the fundamental vocations of those who inhabited it were fishing and agriculture.

However, according to archaeologist Fernando Cortés de Brasdefer, a continuation of research work will be carried out at the site to find any indications of elite zones, or ritual or civic-religious areas, because the area prospected in the first stage of the study, was only 1.5 kilometers long by 450 meters wide.

Until now little was known about the presence of farming and fishing villages on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, almost on the Belizean border

“Up to now the settlement has a heterogenous network form which is a conformation interweaving paths constituted by family estates that gave origin to a large group of highly organized people”.

So, he explains, what the current inhabitants of Mahahual had believed were natural stone walls, in fact are constructions that bordered lands in whose interior were orchards and “small houses made of guano palm and mud walls built upon limestone platforms equal to the traditional houses built by the contemporary Maya”.

The surface tours carried out by archaeologists, at the request of the owner of the land, for which a tourism development project is planned, reveal to now an estimated 80 structures: most of them water-related habitational vestiges, man-made vessels to collect the vital liquid; and ‘sartenejas’ natural wells that were dug to reach aquifers.

The region on which the archaeological site is located also has cenotes, caves and caverns, as well as various elements that over time have accumulated there, for example, remains of a metal boiler, which is calculated to be from the Porfirian era.

Another peculiarity of Mahahual is that no additional objects such as ceramic remains, stone (lithic) or bone elements have been found. This could be explained by the fact that the site was occupied for a relatively short generational time.

For now, the researchers of the INAH Quintana Roo Center continue working with the research team and reports will be delivered to the Institute’s Council of Archaeology.

A copy of the file will also be made available to the individual who requested the inspection, together with pertinent indications in order to compel all those involved to further research, conserve and protect the archaeological heritage detected.

Fernando Cortés concludes that although Mahahual is not a site with large ritual structures it still is important because it provides new data revealing to which geographies of the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, closest to the border with Belize, the Mayans extended.

“We know little about the way of life of those who lived in this region; however, this survey reveals that they could have been farmers who complemented their diet with fishing.

In addition, their direct access to the sea would have given them advantages to exchange commercial products with other coastal and inland peoples”, he concluded

Israeli Archaeologists Find Hidden Pattern at ‘World’s Oldest Temple’ Göbekli Tepe

Israeli Archaeologists Find Hidden Pattern at ‘World’s Oldest Temple’ Göbekli Tepe

Archeologists believe the neolithic hunter-gathers who built huge monoliths in central Turkey 11,500 years ago had knowledge of geometry and a much more complex society than previously thought, archaeologists say.

Cryptic carvings at Gobekli Tepe, ‘world’s oldest temple’

Since their discovery in 1990. The mysterious monoliths constructed at Göbekli tepe some 11,500 years ago have been confusing archeologists and challenging preconceptions of prehistoric culture.

Chiefly, how could hunter-gatherers with a supposedly primitive societal structure build such monumental stone circles on this barren hilltop in what is today southeastern Turkey? 

Now, Israeli archaeologists, Gil Haklay and his PhD advisor Avi Gopher, of Tel Aviv University , have published a new study in the  Cambridge Archaeological Journal  providing a set of observations suggesting this prehistoric building project was “much more complex than previously thought”, and that it required planning and resources to a degree thought of as being impossible for those times.

At this world-renowned archaeological site several concentric stone circles feature massive T-shaped pillars that reach almost 6 meters (20 ft) in height with animals and anthropological motifs carved in relief.

But this new study focuses on the arrangement and positioning of the three oldest circular stone enclosures at Göbekli Tepe and the researchers claim that underlying the entire architectural plan of these three structures is “a hidden geometric pattern,” which they describe as being “specifically an equilateral triangle.”

Close-up of a stone pillar at Göbekli Tepe with an intricate relief carving

Until these new observations, most archaeologists had assumed that the circles at Göbekli Tepe had been built gradually, over a long time period, possibly by different cultural groups, and that older circles were covered over with the new. Never was it considered that all three enclosures might have been constructed “as a single unit at the same time,” said the researchers.

Researcher Haklay told Haaretz that while the initial discovery of the site was a big surprise for the archaeological world, his new research confirms its construction was even “more complex than we thought.”

The new study focuses on enclosures B, C, and D, which have been dated to slightly older than enclosure A, and Haklay, who was previously an architect, applied a method of interpretation known as “architectural formal analysis” to retrace the ancient builders planning principles and methodologies.

Using an algorithm, Haklay identified the center points of the three irregular stone circles, which fell roughly mid-way between the pair of central pillars in each enclosure.

The eureka moment came when the three central points were found to form a nearly perfect equilateral triangle, so accurate in measure, that the researchers say the “vertices are about 25 centimeters (10 inches) away from forming a perfect triangle with sides measuring 19.25 meters (63 ft) each”.

The Göbekli Tepe site in central Turkey.

And for those readers thinking this occurrence might be a coincidence, Haklay told reporters at Haaretz  that the enclosures “all have different sizes and shapes” and he says the odds that the three center points would form an equilateral triangle by chance, “are very low.”

This complex abstract floor design underlying the arrangement of Göbekli Tepe, is presented in the new paper as evidence of a “scaled floor plan,” possibly achieved using reeds of equal length to create a rudimentary blueprint on the ground, Haklay suggests.

The archaeologist also thinks each enclosure subsequently went through a long construction history with multiple modifications, but that in the initial building phase “they started as a single project.”

If the underlying geometric pattern is indeed evidence that the three structures at Göbekli Tepe had been built in one ancient engineering project, the feat was three times larger than previously thought, requiring a similar multiplication of hunter-gatherer builders, resources and effort. Gopher suggests maybe “thousands of workers marked” what he called the birth of a more stratified society, with a level of sophistication equatable with much later sedentary groups of farmers.

In conclusion, while the two researchers are convinced their discovery proves the three stone circles had been built contemporaneously, many readers will at this moment, like me, be struggling with a contrasting proposition. What if the earliest builders erected a stand-alone circle then a later culture built another one, randomly positioned, beside the first with no geometric correlation.

Then the third set of builders, perhaps 2000 years later, decided to build their circle equidistant from the previously unrelated first two circles, resulting in an equilateral triangle by independent, although connected design thinking, or even dare we say, by chance?

World oldest poppy goes on display to mark remembrance Sunday

World oldest poppy goes on display to mark Remembrance Sunday

A mysterious scrapbook of pressed flowers that a soldier sent to his sweetheart while he was fighting in the First World War has come to light.

The book belonged to a woman named only as Lizzie and was used by her to keep flowers that her soldier boyfriend sent home from the battlefield.

The man, who is referred to as ‘Bert’ sent the cuttings to the young woman by post while he fought in the war from 1917 to 1919.

Flowers from the front line: A scrapbook filled with pressed flowers that a soldier sent to his sweetheart while he was fighting in the First World War has been unearthed

The plants include Ivy, plucked from foliage 11 miles from Arras in France, where the famous Battle of Arras took place. The page is dated 10 March 1918.

Another page features what is thought to be stonecrop from Riese in Italy, dated 16 July with no year, and a sprig from the Messines Ridge in Belgium from July 1917.

Floral fancies: The plants include Ivy (left) plucked from foliage 11 miles from Arras in France, where the famous Battle of Arras took place and Viola (right)

Private Roughton later taped the poppy to a page in an autograph book that belonged to his 13-year-old neighbor, Joan Banton, who received it as a gift in 1923.

While the carefully preserved poppy is usually hidden away from the public, 103 years after being picked it is currently on display at jewellery shop Hancocks in Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade for Remembrance Day weekend.

Guy Burton, director of Hancocks, said there was a “lot of interest in this poppy and its history”.

“When we show it to interested parties, often when discussing the First World War, the making of the Victoria Cross and Hancocks’ history, it always creates a turning point,” Mr Burton said.

Hancocks has been making the Victoria Cross – the most prestigious award of Britain’s honours system – since it was first established in the mid-19th century.

When Private Roughton pressed the poppy into his neighbour’s notebook, he wrote an inscription that reads: “Souvenir from a Front Line Trench near Arras, May 1916. C. Roughton 1923.”

In 2011, the poppy was included in an exhibition held by the Royal British Legion.

Two years later, it sold for 6,300 at an auction in Dorset, more than six times its estimate.

This year, Remembrance Sunday takes place a day before Armistice Day, which is observed annually on 11 November. In America, veterans are remembered for the war by erecting colossal flagpoles year-round, and flying the American flag, to remember those who also took part and made a difference in fighting against evil.

Armistice Day commemorates the end of the First World War when an armistice was signed by the Allies and Germany in France in 1918.

Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday of November to honour the “service and sacrifice” of members of the British armed forces, British and Commonwealth veterans, members of the Allied armed forces and civilian servicemen and women who were “involved in the two World Wars and later conflicts”.

Ghost fleet “hidden in plain sight”: Archaeologists are uncovering more than a dozen historic vessels from Nansemond River Virginia.

Ghost fleet “hidden in plain sight”: Archaeologists are uncovering more than a dozen historic vessels from Nansemond River

What’s underneath? This is the big question that a group of archaeologists is delving and digging in Suffolk.

A group of archaeologists maps the shape of the hull of a late 1800s “bug-eye” — a classic Chesapeake Bay working vessel 

Suffolk history buff Kermit Hobbs stumbled over something that caught his attention from the Nansemond River two years ago. CNN reported.

“My friend and I, we were looking for an old dugout canoe that we thought was supposed to be in the woods when suddenly I saw posts sticking out of the mud,” said Hobbs.

So, he got out his drone to get a bird’s-eye view.

“It was amazing what we saw. It’s like we dug up a treasure, like a relic,” Hobbs explained.

Hobbs’ drone video revealed picture-perfect remnants of old wooden boats hidden in plain sight.

‘Greatest assemblages of historic wrecks’

“We believe this is one of the greatest assemblages of historic wrecks in Virginia that represents Chesapeake Bay maritime history for over a century,” said Brendan Burke, an archaeologist with the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program.

Hobbs find piqued the interest of archaeologists from across the United States. Many were in Suffolk this month, excavating and recording the remains of what they call a “ghost fleet.”

The boats range in size from 50 to 80 feet.

“What started at six boats is now 13 — working craft boats, transportation boats, lumber boats, shingling boats and oystering,” said Burke.

Burke, who has conducted numerous studies of shipwrecks in Florida, is overseeing the project in consultation with Longwood University archaeologists and students.

Brendan Burke, associate director of LAMP, lifts an artifact from the mud as he and his colleagues map the shape of the hull of a late 1800s “bug-eye” 

The LU team is using a laser-scanning device to gather a high-density “point cloud” of the entire wreck complex for later use in creating a 3-D model of the wreck site.

“We are at the maritime front door of Suffolk. By researching these boats we are learning about the builders’ history, the sailors who were on them, and what they contained,” said Burke.

So far, the group has learned the date of the abandoned boat from back from the Civil War era to WWI.

“120 years ago, you would have seen an oyster house, docks, and a dozen or so boats, so they could be a part of that,” Burke explained.

The boats sit on private property on the Nansemond River and will not be removed.

Dr. John Broadwater is participating on behalf of the Virginia Department of Historic Places, which is funding the project through its Threatened Sites program. 

Jadeite tool discovered in ancient underwater salt works

Jadeite tool discovered in ancient underwater salt works

In the enigmatic culture of the Maya people, Jade took up a special place, crafted into elaborate trinkets rich with ancient meaning and lore.

But this precious stone was not meant for decorative or ornamental finery. Jade – in the form of its mineral variety, jadeite – also seems to have had its uses in the toil of manual labour, even among the grinding backdrop of long-ago salt works.

Such an unbelievably well-preserved jadeite gouge tool and its handle were discovered by scientists from the Louisiana State University on the grounds of what was once an ancient Mayan salt work in Belize.

Jadeite tool.

This rare find – preserved among the underwater remains of a salt works called Ek Way Nal – represents the first time such a jadeite object has been discovered with its associated handle (in this case made from Honduras rosewood).

But the fact it was found at a salt works at all is both unexpected and noteworthy, the researchers say.

“High-quality translucent jadeite is normally associated with ritual or ceremonial contexts in the Maya area,” the researchers, led by archaeologist and anthropologist Heather McKillop, explain in a new paper.

“The Ek Way Nal tool is made of exceptionally high-quality jadeite, which is surprising given its utilitarian context.”

Ek Way Nal is one of 110 sites comprising the Paynes Creek Salt Works: the submerged remnants of an ancient salt industry in southern Belize, where salt was produced by evaporating brine in boiling pots over fires.

Dozens of thatched wooden kitchens made up the salt works, built during the Classic Maya period (300–900 CE), but later abandoned when sea level rise flooded the coastal lagoon region.

Producing salt wouldn’t have been easy work, which is why it seems strange that such a high-quality jadeite object was found here, the researchers say.

“During the Classic Period, the use of high-quality translucent jadeite was typically reserved for unique and elaborate jadeite plaques, figurines, and earplugs (earrings) for royalty and other elites,” the team explains.

“Highly crafted jadeite objects were destined for use in dynastic Maya ceremonies, as gifts to other leaders to solidify alliances, or as burial offerings to accompany dynastic and other elites.”

Or, it appears, sometimes rare and valuable jadeite was shaped into chisels, forming the glittering green blade of a salt worker’s tool. While the mineral might seem out of place in this steamy, briny context, McKillop says it shows how the ancient Maya salt trade was going places – until it was washed under the waves.

The tool’s wooden handle.

“The salt workers were successful entrepreneurs who were able to obtain high-quality tools for their craft through the production and distribution of a basic biological necessity: salt,” says McKillop.

“Salt was in demand for the Maya diet. We have discovered that it was also a storable form of wealth and an important preservative for fish and meat.”

While we can’t be sure how the jadeite gouge would have been used, the researchers say it was probably not used on very hard materials, like stone or wood, although an analysis of its worn appearance suggests it was employed as a working tool.

“The use of jadeite as a utilitarian tool in a salt works indicates that even exotic materials, which often require expertise to fashion into tools, were selected for their hardness,” the authors write.

“Although the gouge was probably not employed in working wood or hard materials, it may have been used in other activities at the salt works, such as scraping salt, cutting and scraping fish or meat, or cleaning calabash gourds.”

Not exactly glamorous pursuits then, but it makes for yet another ancient relic that can help us discover the world of the ancient Maya, and learn their story through the objects that once defined them.

Buried Roman basilica at Ostia Antica spotted by Google Earth

Buried Roman basilica at Ostia Antica spotted by Google Earth

The slight bump of the grassy field in Ostia Antica close to Rome is just that for the untrained eye: archaeologist Marcello Turci it is a pointer to an amazing discovery; a large chunk of ancient Roman property, the size of two football pitches, lurking centimeters below the ground.

The dots showing columns and other outlines of the forum in Ostia Antica are clear in a satellite image

“That’s the praetorium — the residence of the imperial perfect,” he says, “and just beyond, under the daisies, is a large basilica.”

The smart use of electrical sensors, some ancient sources, and Google Earth, Ostia Antica, the excavated, sprawling Roman city that rivals Pompeii is about to get bigger.

The buildings set to emerge in the unassuming field on the edge of town could also change the way historians view the once-bustling port at the mouth of the Tiber.

Boasting 100,000 residents in its heyday, Ostia Antica vanished under silt from the Tiber as the Roman Empire faded, before being dug up by Mussolini in the 1930s, allowing visitors today to wander streets lined with former restaurants, shops, homes, and a theatre.

Digging was halted during World War II, but in 2007 researche­rs checking Google Earth images noticed that strange lines and dots had emerged in a field just beyond the excavated thermal baths at the Porta Marina gate into the city.

“The lines were formed by differe­nces in vegetation, influenced by what lay below, which had become more evident due to a dry summer,” Mr. Turci said.

Backed by the University of Aix-Marseille and French research body CNRS, he and his colleagues merged images provided by Google­ with others from search engine Bing to get a better idea but also went back to ancient sources.

They recalled that a fourth-century­ chronicler had mentioned a forum built-in Ostia by the empero­r Aurelian in the late third century and an adjacent praetorium, built later, neither of which had been found.

Magnetic sensors and electrified metal probes — inserted in the field to create an underground map based on the path taken by the current — did the rest.

“We are looking at a large open area flanked on one side by a 30m by 60m building with five naves divided by rows of columns, which are the dots we saw from space,” Mr. Turci said. “It was likely used as a court and was part of the forum complex the source describes.

“We know the emperor Tacitus, the successor to Aurelian, donated 100 columns to Ostia, and this would explain where they went.”

Also revealed by the vegetation is the ghostly outline of the praetor­ium, with semicircular extensions from the facade typical of such buildings.

Maria Rosaria Barbera, director of the site, will oversee ­digging if funding arrives, and Mr. Turci said the discoveries would help to counter the view that Ostia went into decline shortly after the sacking of Rome in AD410, and that the city entered the sixth-century ­ with its civic life still going.

Researchers Find Ancient 3,600-Year-Old Mummy Near Luxor, Egypt

Researchers Find Ancient 3,600-Year-Old Mummy Near Luxor, Egypt

LUXOR, EGYPT—BBC reports that a wooden coffin containing a mummy, a small coffin made of mud, and funerary equipment dating to the 17th Dynasty (ca. 1635–1550 B.C.) were found in a mudbrick chapel in the Dra Abul Naga necropolis, which is located on Luxor’s West Bank.

The project chief, José Galán, clarified that during excavation activities in the area in front of Djehuty’s open courtyard these artifacts were uncovered.

The sarcophagus was mounted horizontally on the concrete. It measures 1.75 by 0.33m, and was carved in a woodcut from a single sycamore tree trunk, then coated with a whitewash and painted in red.

Inside the coffin was found the mummy of a 15- or 16-year-old girl resting on her right side. The mummy is in a bad conservation condition.

The mummy is wearing two earrings in one of her ears, both with a spiral shape and coated with a thin metal leaf, maybe copper.

It also had two rings, one made of bone and the other with a blue glass bead set on a metal base and tied with string. Four necklaces tied together with a faience clip are around the chest.

One necklace is 70cm long and made rounded faience beads, alternating dark and light blue.

The second one is 62cm long and made of green faience and glass beads.

The most beautiful is the third necklace which measures 61cm and is made of 74 pieces, combining beads of amethyst, carnelian, amber, blue glass, and quartz. It includes two scarabs, one depicting the falcon god Horus, and five faience amulets.

The fourth necklace is made of several strings of faience beads tied together at both ends by a ring combining all the strings.

At the opposite side of the mud-brick chapel, a small coffin made of mud was also found. It is still closed and tied together with string.

Inside there was a wooden ushabti wrapped in four linen bandages. The ushabti figurine and one of the linen bandages are labelled in hieratic text identifying its owner, “The Osiris, Djehuty,” who lived under the 17th dynasty (c.1600 BCE).

In the same area, but inside a funerary shaft, a pair of leather sandals was found together with a pair of leather balls tied together with string, also dating to the 17th dynasty.

“The sandals are in a good state of preservation, despite being 3,600 years old,” Galán noted. He added that they are dyed in a vivid red colour, and engraved with various motifs showing god Bes, goddess Taweret, a pair of cats, an ibex and a rosette.

From their decoration and size, he said, the sandals probably belonged to a woman, and also the balls, which were used by a woman for sport or as part of a dancing choreography, according to daily life depictions in Beni Hassan tombs of the 12th dynasty. 

Farmer Finds Roman Treasure Trove Scattered Across Field

Crown of Polish Archaeology! Farmer looking for abandoned antlers stumbles upon largest EVER haul of Roman coins

One of the largest ever hauls of treasure from the Roman period to be found in Poland and the largest ever in the Lublin region has been uncovered in Hrubieszów near Lublin.

Excited archaeologists think that the treasure of 1,753 silver coins weighing over five kilos was abandoned in the last stand of the Vandals before fleeing from the arriving Goths at the end of the second century AD when Europe was in upheaval as the Western Roman Empire was collapsing.

When he found a huge amount of ancient Roman coins, a Polish farmer searched for abandoned antlers when he discovered the coins. In addition, it was a very significant discovery because it is one of the largest in Poland and the largest ever uncovered treasures of the Roman era in Lublin.

In the field near Cichobórz to the south of Hrubieszów, near Lublin, the farmer whose name is Mariusz Dyl has uncovered the coins.

The coins were not all in one place, as they were spread out across the field and were discovered when farming equipment turned them up.

After his discovery last year, Dyl contacted the museum in Hrubieszów who then sent out a team of archaeologists and volunteers to search the area even further and they found another 137 coins.

A total of 1,753 ancient Roman coins weighing more than five kilos (eleven pounds) were uncovered at the location.

Experts were able to date the coins back to the second century because they had pictures on them of the Roman emperors Nerva (who ruled from 96 to 98 AD) and Septimius Severus (who ruled from 193 to 211 AD).

It is believed that the coins were placed in a leather pannier or wooden casket because eight silver-plated rivets made of bronze were found with the coins.

A total of 1,753 ancient Roman coins were found.

Archaeologists believe that the coins were abandoned by the Vandals before being forced out by the Goths at the end of the second century AD.

The Vandals were Roman-era Germanic people who lived in the southern part of Poland, while the Goths were also Germanic people who more than likely came from the southern part of Scandinavia and who played a part in the Western Roman Empire’s crumble.

It’s been suggested that the Vandals didn’t leave peacefully, “It didn’t happen without fighting. From this period we know of numerous Vandal cemeteries where warriors were buried with ritually destroyed weapons were buried,” explained Bartłomiej Bartecki, who is the museum’s director.

Andrzej Kozłowski, who works at the Archaeology Institute in Lublin and who uncovered the presence of the Goths in the area, weighed in by stating, “The situation was so bad for the Vandals retreating, or rather the fleeing from the Goths that they hid everything that was most precious,” adding, “They had to get rid of huge financial resources that were necessary to wage war with the Goths, and therefore they ended up helpless.

The hidden coins remained under Hrubieszów.” “They couldn’t come back for them and could not recruit soldiers. That is why the Goths peacefully spread to the whole south-east and occupied Ukraine.”

Kozłowski described the significance of the discovery, “This is an amazing phenomenon of an ancient culture that can be seen in one place. This treasure will be the crown of Polish archaeology.”

The coins are currently at the Hrubieszów museum and will be studied by experts from the University of Warsaw.