5000-Year-Old Water System Discovered In Western Iran
Archaeologists in Iran made an unexpected discovery during excavations at the Farash ancient historical site at the Seimareh Dam reservoir – a 5,000-year-old water system.
The research team is working hard to recover the water pipes, along with hundreds of other artefacts, before they are submerged by the new dam.
The Persians are one of the earliest cultures to implement advanced systems of water distribution and are among the greatest aqueduct builders of the ancient world.
They are particularly well-known for their construction of qanāts, a series of well-like vertical shafts, connected by gently sloping tunnels, which were used to create a reliable supply of water for human settlements and for irrigation.
The water system comprises a small pool and a long earthenware pipeline. Each earthenware conduit measures about one metre in length and the team leader Leili Niaken said it is likely that the structure was made and baked in the region.
In addition to the ancient water pipes, the team of archaeologists from the Iranian Centre for Archaeological Research (ICAR) have also uncovered more than 100 sites dating back to the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Copper Age, Stone Age, Parthian, Sassanid and early Islamic periods. Signs of the Mesopotamians’ influence in the region were identified by studies carried out on the ancient strata at the reservoir.
The archaeological team is now working hard to unearth the rest of the pipeline, which may lead archaeologists to its source.
The aim is to recover as much as possible before it all goes underwater when the filling of the dam is complete.
The team members think the individual descended from an earlier species that may have spread out of the region hundreds of thousands of years ago and given rise to Neanderthals in Europe and their equivalents in Asia.
The scientists have named the newly discovered lineage the “Nesher Ramla Homo type”.
Dr Hila May of Tel Aviv University said the discovery reshaped the story of human evolution, particularly our picture of how the Neanderthals emerged. The general picture of Neanderthal evolution had in the past been linked closely with Europe.
“It all started in Israel. We suggest that a local group was the source population,” she told BBC News. “During interglacial periods, waves of humans, the Nesher Ramla people, migrated from the Middle East to Europe.”
The team thinks that early members of the Nesher Ramla Homo group were already present in the Near East some 400,000 years ago. The researchers have noticed resemblances between the new finds and ancient “pre-Neanderthal” groups in Europe.
“This is the first time we could connect the dots between different specimens found in the Levant,” said Dr Rachel Sarig, also from Tel Aviv University.
“There are several human fossils from the caves of Qesem, Zuttiyeh and Tabun that date back to that time that we could not attribute to any specific known group of humans. But comparing their shapes to those of the newly uncovered specimen from Nesher Ramla justify their inclusion within the [new human] group.”
Dr May suggests that these humans were the ancestors of Neanderthals.
“The European Neanderthal actually began here in the Levant and migrated to Europe, while interbreeding with other groups of humans.”
Others travelled east to India and China, said Prof Israel Hershkovitz, suggesting a connection between East Asian archaic humans and Neanderthals in Europe.
“Some fossils found in East Asia manifest Neanderthal-like features as the Nesher Ramla do,” he said.
The researchers base their claims on similarities in features between the Israeli fossils and those found in Europe and Asia, though their assertion is controversial. Prof Chris Stringer, from the Natural History Museum in London, UK, has recently been assessing Chinese human remains.
“Nesher Ramla is important in confirming yet further that different species co-existed alongside each other in the region at the time and now we have the same story in western Asia,” he said.
“However, I think it’s a jump too far at the moment to link some of the older Israeli fossils to Neanderthals. I’m also puzzled at suggestions of any special link between the Nesher Ramla material and fossils in China.”
The Nesher Ramla remains themselves were found in what used to be a sinkhole, located in an area frequented by prehistoric humans. This may have been an area where they hunted for wild cattle, horses and deer, as indicated by thousands of stone tools and bones of hunted animals.
According to an analysis by Dr Yossi Zaidner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, these tools were constructed in the same manner that modern humans of the time also made their implements.
“It was a surprise that archaic humans were using tools normally associated with Homo sapiens. This suggests that there were interactions between the two groups,” Dr Zaidner said.
“We think that it is only possible to learn how to make the tools through visual or oral learning. Our findings suggest that human evolution is far from simple and involved many dispersals, contacts and interactions between different species of human.”
Archaeologists in Seyðisfjörður have excavated jewellery that dates from 940 – 1100, just after the initial settlement of Iceland. Notably, one of the beads found in the excavation even bears the colours of the Icelandic national flag.
Remarkably well-preserved structures in Seyðisfjörður
Archaeological digs have been underway in Seyðisfjörður, a fishing village in the East Fjords of Iceland, since 2020. Due to the high slopes of the valley, Seyðisfjörður is subject to land slides, and local authorities plan to build defensive barriers to protect the village, which has suffered damage in recent years.
However, these same land slides have also preserved archaeological sites in the region particularly well.
The most recent discoveries are centred around the farmstead where Bjólfur, a settler named in Landnámabók, is believed to have had his farmstead. Significant finds at this site have included the remains of a man, a horse, a spear, and a boat.
Archaeologists have been able to date the site with a fair amount of accuracy, given tephra layers from eruptions, and landslide layers.
A unique bead
The artefact that has generated the most interest by far has been a bead which coincidentally has the colours of the Icelandic flag: blue, white, and red.
Ragnheiður Traustadóttir, an archaeologist and director of the team, has stated to RÚV that the find has caused quite the stir on social media, even causing some to claim a more recent provenance.
However, Ragnheiður has stated that it is certainly from the period 940 – 1100, given that it was found under known tephra and land slide layers.
“It will be interesting to put this in context with the four mounds we dug up last year,” she said to RÚV.
“There is a unique opportunity to look at the history of Seyðisfjörður from the second half of the tenth century until the eleventh century.”
Some twenty archaeologists are currently at work excavating in Seyðisfjörður. The field season is expected to last through the middle of August, and continue next year.
(This August story corrects the 6th paragraph to state that Douglas Latchford was a dual citizen of Thailand and the United Kingdom, not Thailand and the United States)
The United States will return to Cambodia 30 looted antiquities, including bronze and stone statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities carved more than 1,000 years ago, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The Southeast Asian country’s archaeological sites – including Koh Ker, the capital of the ancient Khmer empire – suffered widespread looting in civil conflicts between the 1960s and 1990s.
Cambodia’s government has since sought to repatriate stolen antiquities sold on the international market.
Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said the items being returned were sold to Western buyers by Douglas Latchford, a Bangkok dealer who created fake documents to conceal that the items had been looted and smuggled.
Williams said the antiquities, including a 10th-century sandstone statue depicting the Hindu god of war Skanda riding on a peacock, were voluntarily relinquished by U.S. museums and private collectors after his office filed civil forfeiture claims.
“These statues and artefacts… are of extraordinary cultural value to the Cambodian people,” Williams said at a ceremony in Manhattan announcing the return of the antiquities.
U.S. prosecutors in 2019 charged Latchford, a dual citizen of Thailand and the United Kingdom, with wire fraud and smuggling over the alleged looting. He died in Thailand in 2020.
The antiquities will be displayed at the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s U.S. ambassador Keo Chhea told Reuters at the ceremony.
In 2014, federal prosecutors returned the Duryodhana, a looted 10th-century sandstone sculpture, to Cambodia after settling with auction house Sotheby’s Inc, which had acquired it.
Last year, the Manhattan district attorney’s office returned 27 looted antiquities to Cambodia.
600-Year-Old Kitchen Discovered in the Czech Republic
Archaeologists made an unusual discovery while excavating the ruins of a medieval house in the town of Nový Jičín in the Moravian-Silesian region – a well-preserved kitchen that likely dates back to the early 15th century.
The medieval kitchen, containing a brick oven, hearth, ceramic dishes and even a wooden cooking spoon, was uncovered by archaeologists during the ongoing excavation of a wooden house from the Middle Ages in the town of Nový Jičín.
Pavel Stabrava from the local Novojičín Museum, says that the find was made as archaeologists were excavating the underground segments of a house that stands near the northern side of the historic centre’s town walls.
“This was a log house built on a stone foundation. Given the surrounding evidence, including the items that we found inside, we have been able to date it roughly to the period of the early 15th century.”
Based on its location, Mr Stabrava believes that the house would most likely have belonged to a burgher family, a social class equivalent to the medieval bourgeoisie.
“Since the house was located near the town walls, this would have been a less wealthy burgher family. The richest burghers would have lived in so-called ‘beer court’ houses around the town square.”
Most likely founded in the 1300s by the Lords of Kravaře, Nový (New) Jičín seems to have gradually evolved from an earlier settlement around the castle of Starý (Old) Jičín which protected the nearby Amber Road that ran from Poland.
František Kolář from the National Heritage Institute, which took part in the dig, says that the town would probably have been largely made up of wooden houses, but admits that not much is known about the medieval settlement.
“This is because there haven’t been many archaeological excavations in the historical centre of the city. This is one of the first that has been made and we hope that we will be able to continue with excavations as the historic houses in the city get renovated.”
The medieval kitchenware inside the house was found in perfect condition, with the unbroken ceramic pots still containing their original lids. It seems that the items had just been washed and left to dry on the stone hearth.
Based on the evident burn marks found within the excavated house and on the surrounding historical sources, Mr Kolář believes that the items were found in this state because the inhabitants may have been forced to abandon the house in a rush.
“The working hypothesis is that the house was destroyed during the conquest of the city by the Hussites in 1427, when Hussite forces campaigned in Moravia and Silesia. Several independent historical sources mention the siege and conquest of the town, including the massacre of some of its citizens.”
The artefacts are now in the process of conservation, after which they will be stored in the depositories of the Novojičín Museum.
Pavel Stabrava hopes that further planned excavations around the exterior of the house will reveal more about the medieval town and its inhabitants.
7,000-Year-Old Forest and Footprints Uncovered in the Atlantis of Britain
Ancient footprints, as well as prehistoric tree stumps and logs, have become visible along a 200-meter stretch of a coastline at Low Hauxley near Amble, Northumberland, in what is believed to be Doggerland, the Atlantis of Britain.
The Daily Mail reports that the forest existed in the late Mesolithic period. It began to form around 5,300 BC, and it was covered by the ocean three centuries later.
The studies proved that at the time, when the ancient forest existed, the sea level was much lower. It was a period when Britain had recently separated from the land of what is currently Denmark.
The forest consisted mostly of hazel, alder, and oak trees. Researchers believe the forest was part of Doggerland, an ancient stretch of land, which connected the UK and Europe.
Doggerland: Stone Age Atlantis of Britain
Located in the North Sea, Doggerland is believed to have once measured approximately 100,000 square miles (258998 square kilometres). However, the end of the Ice Age saw a great rise in the sea level and an increase in storms and flooding in the region, causing Doggerland to gradually shrink.
Doggerland sometimes called the Stone Age Atlantis of Britain or the prehistoric Garden of Eden, is an area archaeologists have been waiting to rediscover. Finally, modern technology has reached a level in which their dreams may become a reality.
Doggerland is thought to have been first inhabited around 10,000 BC, and innovative technology is expected to aid a new study in glimpsing what life was like for the prehistoric humans living in the region before the catastrophic floods covered the territory sometime between 8000 – 6000 BC.
Sunken Land Reveals its Secrets
The latest research was made by a group of archaeologists and volunteers led by a team from Archaeological Research Services Ltd, which previously performed some other projects related to the Northumberland.
The works were possible due to the lower level of water. The major excavations involved a total of 700 people and uncovered part of an Iron Age site dating from around 300 BC near Druidge Bay.
Doctor Clive Waddington, of Archaeology Research Services, said:
”In 5,000 BC the sea level rose quickly and it drowned the land. The sand dunes were blown back further into the land, burying the forest, and then the sea receded a little. The sea level is now rising again, cutting back the sand dunes, and uncovering the forest.”
Waddington maintains that his team also discovered evidence of humans living nearby. They found footprints of adults and children. Due to the results of the analysis of the footprints, it is believed that they wore leather shoes. Animal footprints of wild boar, brown bears and red deer also had been found.
The remains of the forest of Doggerland do not belong to the oldest known forest. The oldest fossilized forest was discovered by a team from Binghamton University in the town of Gilboa in upstate New York.
The Gilboa area has been known as a tree fossil location since the late 19th century. However, the first researchers arrived there in the 1920s.
The most recent research started in 2004, when Linda VanAller Hernick, palaeontology collection manager, and Frank Mannolini, palaeontology collection technician, uncovered more intact specimens.
According to the article published in 2012 by William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton, the fossils discovered in this area are between 370 to 380 million years old.
See the 5,000-year-old forest unearthed by storms:
The mummified face of Pharaoh Seti I hailed for its superior preservation
The mummified face of Menmaatre Seti I known as Sety I of the New Kingdom’s Nineteenth Dynasty pleasantly surprised Egyptologists with its superior preservation. His face is regarded as one of the best preserved in the world as well as in Ancient Egypt’s annals.
Dying about 3,298 years ago, Seti I is reckoned to have ruled when Egypt was at one of its most affluent peaks from 1290 to 1279 BCE. He was the father to perhaps ancient Egypt’s most beloved pharaoh Ramesses II. His father, Ramses I, reigned for only two years.
The tomb of this extremely powerful and handsome ruler was brought to the world’s attention by the rebellious researcher Giovanni Battista Belzoni on October 16, 1817.
The tomb located in the Valley of the Kings, known as KV17, is the longest tomb in the entire necropolis. It’s about 137 meters (449 ft.).
Seti’s mummified body was neatly prepared and covered with a yellow shroud. However, tomb looters had messed with his bandages and smashed his abdomen. Worse still, Seti’s head was separated from the rest of his battered body.
Fortunately, his face remained untouched. Now, the remains of Seti I rest among other royal mummies in the Cairo museum.
In the early years of his reign, Seti led his army northward to restore Egyptian prestige, which had been partly lost during the troubled years of the late 18th dynasty under Akhenaton.
He battled in northern Palestine and Syria and fought at least one battle with the Hittite king Muwatallis; he subsequently concluded a peace treaty that may have established the frontier at Kadesh on the Orontes River between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains.
Seti in his 11 or 15-year rule did much to promote the prosperity of Egypt. He fortified the frontier, opened mines and quarries, dug wells, and rebuilt temples and shrines that had fallen into decay or been damaged; and he continued the work begun by his father on the construction of the great hypostyle hall at Karnak, which is one of the most impressive monuments of Egyptian architecture.
Another important work is his memorial temple at Abydos, which he dedicated to Osiris and six other deities of which much of the original colour remains.
Holding hands for 5,000 years, a couple with mysterious jade rings and dagger
Bronze Age burial near Lake Baikal intrigues archaeologists who have not yet revealed the contents of the leather pouch between man’s kneecaps.
Experts speculate that this ancient couple is an elderly man and his wife or concubine, buried for eternity in a show of affection. There are some unique aspects to the couple who are believed to be from the Bronze Age Glazkov culture.
The man’s skeleton had a ring made of rare white jade over one eye socket. Three more were on his chest. Archaeologist Dr Dmitry Kichigin said: ‘It was probably somehow connected with their ideas about the afterlife.’
Samples of the bone of the couple have been sent to Canada for radiocarbon analysis, but the Russian team involved in the excavations believe the couple to be 4,500 to 5,000 years old.
‘In the grave we found male and female skeletons, lying on their backs, heads to the west, hand in hand,’ he said. The site is a sacred burial place since Neolithic times overlooking the waters of Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world.
The male skeleton is complete but rodents destroyed the upper part of the female. Near the woman was a ‘massive’ knife made of jade, some 13 centimetres in length and 7 cm in width.
Pendants of red deer and musk deer teeth were found on the male skull, and around the feet. Most likely, they decorated the hat and footwear.
‘Were they relatives, or an owner and his concubine?’ asked the archaeologist. For now, the answer is unclear: he would like to conduct DNA tests to check if the pair were related, but this appears to be too expensive.
The burial unearthed this summer is located at a cape on Maloe More, the strait that separates the mainland and the Olkhon island, close to Chernorud settlement, some 260 kilometres north-east of Irkutsk.
The precise location is being kept secret, for now, to avoid amateur diggers wrecking a site which is likely to contain more burials, possibly older than this one.
‘We were lucky to find at least one skeleton in excellent condition, with implements and decorations – it is the dream of many archaeologists,’ said Kichigin. ‘It would be very interesting to find out the purposes the massive jade knife, which we found near the woman, was used for.
‘We also found some metal implement in a small leather bag between male’s kneecaps.’ The analysis will begin with the finds in the autumn.
‘The cape, where we conducted excavations, was obviously a sacred place for ancient people,’ he said. It was not a settlement but used for religious rites and as a graveyard from ancient times.
‘We can expect a lot of interesting discoveries on this archaeological site, so we plan to continue our work next year.’
The archaeological team led by Dr Kichigan is from Irkutsk National Research Technical University, with the assistance of Yuliana Yemelyanova, from the Laboratory of Archeology, Paleoecology, and Life Support Systems of the Peoples of North Asia.