Construction Workers Stumble Across Old Pots With 1,300 Pounds Of Ancient Roman Coins Inside
Building companies discovered a hoard of bronze Roman coins concealed in jugs in Tomares, Spain during this week.
19 pottery jugs were discovered in the Zaudin Park when the workers digged ditches. The urns were packed with coins showing an emperor on one side and various depictions of Roman stories on the back reported the Spanish newspaper, El Pais.
According to the Archeological Museum of Seville, where the treasure was carried, the coins weigh more than 1,300 pounds date back to the third or fourth centuries.
Ana Navarro Ortega, who heads the museum, said that 10 of the jugs broke during the dig.
“I can assure you that the jugs cannot be lifted by one person because of their weight and the quantity of the coins inside,” she said. “So now what we have to do is begin to understand the historical and archaeological context of this discovery.”
Why so many coins would be hidden in jugs raises interesting questions for archaeologists and historians.
Investigators floated the hypothesis that the money was set aside to pay imperial taxes or army levies, reported El Pais. The jugs appeared deliberately concealed underground, covered by a few bricks and ceramic fillers, according to the Andalusian department of culture.
Richard Weigel, a professor of ancient Greece and Rome at Western Kentucky University, told the PBS NewsHour that the coins likely were buried during an era of “great discord in the Roman empire.”
The central authority in Rome broke down in the middle of the third century, he said. Germanic tribes invaded the country from time to time, in addition to other challenges to the various emperors.
The part of southern Spain where the coins were discovered would have been considered a distant land to emperors before it became a normal part of the Roman Empire, said, Weigel.
“The suggestion that they were collected to pay taxes to the Roman Empire is, of course, possible,” he said. “But I suspect that they could have been stored to pay one of the Roman legions in the area and to hide the money from invaders in the region.”
Once the emperors on the coins are identified, he continued, it should be easier to date the coins and put them in the context of military activities and invasions.
Greek Farmer Finds Ancient Cemetery Full of Naked Statues
A farmer in Atalanti, Central Greece, wanted to plant olive trees but found an ancient statue of a Kouros instead.
While the farmer was preparing the soil in his plot, his tools hit something that looked like a statue.
He informed authorities that started a broader excavation and the result was: four Kouros statues and a part of an Ancient Greek cemetery that suggests it belonged to the ancient city of Opus.
A Kouros is a name given to free-standing ancient Greek sculptures that first appear in the Archaic period in Greece and represent nude male youths. In Ancient Greek kouros means “youth, boy, especially of noble rank”.
Although Kouroi have been found in many ancient Greek territories, they were especially prominent in Attica and Boiotia.
The discovery of the first Kouros statue took place in the middle of October, the Greek Culture Ministry said in a statement, adding that the excavation the followed discovered more amazing findings.
Archaeologists unearthed four limestone statues of natural size and a part of a base for a statue.
After the first statue was discovered, the head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Fthiotida and Evritania instructed archaeologist Maria Papageorgiou to conduct field trials.
Two more statues were unearthed.
The archaic statues were not intact and the parts that were found had a height of 0.86m to 1.22m.
The excavation was conducted in a small part of the field only. In earth layers deeper than where the sculptures were found, an organized cemetery with so far seven graves has been discovered.
The graves seemed to have been used from the 5th century BC until the 2nd century BC. The existence of the ancient cemetery in proximity to the modern city of Atalanti suggests that part of the organized cemetery of the ancient Opus has been probably identified.
Opus is the ancient name of Atalanti, believed to be one of the most ancient towns in Greece.
Pindar’s ninth Olympian ode concerns Opus. It was said to have been founded by Opus, a son of Locrus and Protogeneia; and in its neighborhood Deucalion and Pyrrha were reported to have resided.
It was the native city of Patroclus and it is mentioned in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships as one of the Locrian towns whose troops were led by Ajax the Lesser, son of Oileus the king of Locris, in the Iliad.
Archaeologist Busted for Faking Artifacts Showing Jesus Crucifixion
An archaeologist accused of forging a trove of Roman artifacts that allegedly show a third-century depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion, Egyptian hieroglyphics and the early use of the Basque language.
The Telegraph also announced that archeologist Eliseo Gil and his two former fellow members were present in a criminal court this week in the Spanish Basque Country’s capital Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Their allegation is that they have created forgeries of ancient graffiti on hundreds of pieces of pottery, glass, and brick that they claim was found in the Roman ruins at Iruña-Veleia, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) west of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Gil claimed the graffiti on the artifacts showed very early links between the Roman settlement in Spain and the Basque language; he also claimed that a drawing of three crosses scratched on a piece of ancient pottery was the earliest known portrayal of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
But other archaeologists have disputed the finds. Among other major discrepancies, they pointed out that some of the languages of the graffiti show that it was made in modern times.
Gil and his former colleagues, geologist Óscar Escribano and materials analyst Rubén Cerdán, say they are not guilty of any deception.
Gil and Escribano are facing five and a half years in prison if they are found guilty of fraud and damaging heritage items, while Cerdán faces two and a half years in prison if he is found guilty of making fraudulent documents vouching for the authenticity of the artifacts.
Gil became a celebrity in Spain’s Basque Country in 2006 when he claimed that hundreds of broken ceramic pieces known as “ostraca” — covered with drawings; phrases in Latin, Greek and Basque; and Egyptian hieroglyphics — had been unearthed at the Iruña-Veleia site.
But some other archaeologists became suspicious, and they alerted officials in the Álava provincial government, which owns the Iruña-Veleia site.
The other archaeologists alleged that writing on the artifacts, supposedly from the second to the fifth centuries, contained words and spellings from hundreds of years later, modern commas and the mixed-use of uppercase and lowercase letters, a practice which dates from after the eighth century.
The graffiti on some of the artifacts also contained hieroglyphics spelling out the name of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti, who was probably unknown until her rediscovery in the early 20th century, and a Latin motto created around 1913 for an international court at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Experts also considered that the Christian iconography of the crucifixion portrayed on the most famous artifact dated from hundreds of years later than claimed.
A scientific commission convened by the provincial government in 2008 ruled that 476 of the artifacts were manipulated or outright fakes and that Gil and his colleagues had perpetrated an elaborate fraud, according to its report. In response, the provincial government stopped Gil and his company from working at Iruña-Veleia and pressed charges, which have now come to court.
Gil maintains that he is innocent and that there is no scientific evidence that the artifacts are fake. At a news conference in 2015, Gil said the accusations, as well as his ostracism from the archaeological world, we’re like “going through torture.”
The prosecutor’s office of the provincial government is seeking more than 285,000 euros ($313,000) for damage to authentic artifacts from Iruña-Veleia allegedly inscribed with fake graffiti.
They’ve also asked the court to jail Gil and his associates, fine them and disqualify them from working on archaeological sites. Many archaeologists are convinced that the artifacts are fake, but they don’t know if Gil and his associates are responsible for the inauthenticity of the artifacts.
“I have no doubts about their falsity,” said archaeologist Ignacio Rodríguez Temiño, told BBC in an email. “There is no dispute on the Iruña-Veleia case in the academic world.”
Rodríguez Temiño works in Seville for the provincial government of Andalucía. He is the author of a paper published in the archaeological journal Zephyrus in 2017 that detailed evidence that the artifacts from Iruña-Veleia are fakes and possible reasons for the deception. He noted that Basque public companies and government bodies awarded Gil and his associates sponsorships worth millions of dollars for their work at Iruña-Veleia.
The fake artifacts were an attempt to promote certain ideas about Basque nationalism, including the early use of the Basque language and the early Christianization of what is now the Basque Country, he said.
Both are “stories that a certain segment of Basque society longs to hear,” he said.
How archaeologists were stunned by ‘oldest biblical text ever’ discovery near the Dead Sea
We witnessed some biblical discoveries this year which proved true in many histories such as the watchtower of the 8th century, the church of the 5th century, a settlement connected to the crucifixion of Jesus among others.
Nevertheless, the scholars were surprised when archeologists had uncovered an almost similar text to the Dead Sea Scroll.
Jesus was born in 4 AD and crucified, it is said, by crucifixion somewhere between 30AD and 33AD and by resurrection three days later. through the resurrection, he came back. But a discovery in the 21st century shook off that belief.
A team of archaeologists discovered Gabriel stone, which was a tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew text from the Dead Sea that also includes some controversial prophecies.
The biblical investigator Simcha Jacobovici recently explained these texts which date back to the 1st century BC.
The experts stated that “Perea is located on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, it is here that the most famous writings ever were unearthed. Discovered in 1948, the more than 2,000-year-old documents are the oldest biblical texts ever found.”
It should be noted that after the discovery of the Gabriel Inscriptions, archaeologists were stunned and when scholars deciphered it, they were startled by the fact that they were looking at the Dead Sea Scroll on a stone, said Jacobovici.
Recently during Amazon Prime’s “Decoding the Ancients” series, Jacobovici mentioned that the similarities between the Gabriel inscriptions and the scrolls are impressive as both are written in ink, both the texts are written in two columns and have the Hebrew letters suspended from the upper guidelines.
Jacobovici said that this suggests that the stone, like the scrolls, originates from the shores of the Dead Sea.
“So in search of a Gabriel-like stone in the area of Perea, Simcha travels here to meet with archaeologist Konstantinos Politis, who’s been digging in this area for 20 years.
Among the artifacts unearthed by Politis, Simcha is struck by the ancient Jewish and Christian gravestones reminiscent of the Gabriel Inscription. And Politis has a lot more artifacts like this,” said the expert.
The discovery of Gabriel’s inscription has caused controversy due to its context. An expert in Talmudic and biblical language at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, Israel Knohl, translated line 80 from the inscription which says, “in three days, live, I Gabriel command you”.
As per his interpretation, it was a command from the angel Gabriel who asked (someone) to rise from dead after three days. But he also understood that the recipient of this command was Simon of Peraea, a Jewish rebel who was killed by the Romans in 4the century BC.
Later, a biblical expert Ada Yardeni agreed to Knohl’s interpretation while other scholars have rejected Knohl’s reading.
However, later in 2011, Knohl accepted that “sign” is more relevant than “live” but the latter is a possible reading. No wonder, the year 2019 has witnessed some Biblical findings resurface to make these them relevant and controversial yet again.
A 2.2-billion-year-old crater is Earth’s oldest recorded meteorite impact
Throughout its life, our planet has been pummelled by countless asteroids and comets – even more so than the crater-ridden Moon. Today, thanks to Earth’s continually changing surface, there are remarkably few scars left to tell the tale.
Australia’s relatively stable and ancient landscape not only harbours potentially the largest of those blemishes, but scientists now think it also contains the oldest… by a long, long shot.
“When the age came back at 2.229 billion years, that blew our hair back,” geochemist Aaron Cavosie from Curtin University in Australia told ScienceAlert.
“We’ve known about this crater for almost 20 years, but nobody realised it was the oldest until now.” The Yarrabubba crater is a massive indent in the Western Australian outback, roughly 70 kilometres wide (44 miles).
The impact was always assumed to be ancient, but modern geological dating suggests this particular case is over 200 million years older than the next oldest impact. If humans represent the tip of your fingernail on the timeline of your outstretched arms, this would place the Yarrabubba collision smack dab in the centre of your chest, roughly half the age of Earth.
We know this because when the meteorite hit, it sent a high-pressure shock wave through the area, rattling atoms and damaging minerals on a minute level.
“After the shock wave passes through rocks, they are compressed like a spring,” Cavosie told ScienceAlert.
“When they release, the instantly heat up, to temperatures higher than that found in a volcano. This makes some rocks in the centre of impacts vaporise, while others just melt at high temperature, often over 2,000 degrees C (3,600 F). “
Uranium is steadily converted to lead at a known pace, but when these crystals are shocked and heated up, they are suddenly rid of all lead, re-setting the ‘isotopic clock’.
Winding back the billions of years on this timeline is notoriously difficult because it essentially requires a collection of tiny isotopic traces in the crystal structure of grain no more than the width of a hair. Luckily enough, Yarrabubba had just what the researchers were looking for.
“[The] crater was made right at the end of what’s commonly referred to as the early Snowball Earth, a time when the atmosphere and oceans were evolving and becoming more oxygenated and when rocks deposited on many continents recorded glacial conditions,” says the earth and planetary scientist Chris Kirkland from Curtin University.
This means that when the meteorite hit Earth over 2 billion years ago, it may very well have collided with a continental ice sheet, kicking up huge amounts of rock, ash and dust – like a major volcanic eruption.
Running simulations, the authors calculate this situation would spread between 87 trillion and 5,000 trillion kilograms of water vapour into the atmosphere. Since water is an efficient greenhouse gas, this might have helped modify the climate and thaw the planet.
This is just a potential scenario; the exact climate conditions of this time are still under debate. Even still, the authors argue that considering Earth’s atmosphere contained only a fraction of today’s oxygen, “a possibility remains that the climatic forcing effects of H2O vapour released instantaneously into the atmosphere through a Yarrabubba-sized impact may have been globally significant.”
Impact craters like this one are precious windows into Earth’s past, and yet there are only about 190 of these structures in the world, some of which are hard to differentiate from tectonic deformation.
Palaeoclimate scientist Andrew Glikson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that while he considered the team’s dating “excellent”, in his opinion the oldest known impact structure was in Greenland 800 million years earlier, although there’s currently fierce debate over whether this impact structure was actually made by a meteorite.
Regardless of the results of that debate, research on Yarrabubba shows that extremely old impact events may very well have affected our climate history on a large scale.
“These kinds of discoveries re-write pages in the history books, and inform us about the early evolution of Earth,” Cavosie told ScienceAlert.
Extinct date palms grown from 2000-year-old seeds found near Jerusalem
Seven date palm trees have been grown from 2000-year-old seeds that were found in the Judean desert near Jerusalem. The seeds – the oldest ever germinated – were among hundreds discovered in caves and in an ancient palace built by King Herod the Great in the 1st century BC.
The find reveals how ancient farmers were selectively breeding dates from around the region, and it could give clues to how dates can survive for millennia.
Robin Allaby, a genetics expert at Warwick University who was not part of the research team said: “This is an extraordinary finding.“It shines a light on the fact that we don’t understand long-term seed viability.”
Sarah Sallon, an ethnobotanist at the Hadassah Medical Center, and colleagues have collected hundreds of seeds for growing the date plants.
Some were excavated from Masada, Israel—a mountaintop fortress on a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea that was partly built by the biblical King Herod; others came from caves around the Dead Sea used for storage and living quarters.
The researchers soaked 34 of the most promising specimens in warm water and liquid fertilizer and then planted them in sterile potting soil.
Six seeds germinated and sprouted into seedlings that would eventually become date palms. The successful seeds were all several centimeters long, 30% larger than modern date seeds, suggesting dates that were significantly larger than modern varieties.
To verify that the seeds were ancient—and not more recent specimens deposited amid archaeological artifacts by burrowing animals, for example—the team carbon-dated seed shell fragments clinging to the roots after the seeds had successfully sprouted. The seeds were between 2200 and 1800 years old, the team reports today in Science Advances.
Initial genetic analysis of the plants grown from the ancient seeds suggests farmers in the region were growing dates that mixed traits from around the ancient world.
The result, according to classical writers like Galen, Strabo, and Herodotus, was a large, sweet, shelf-stable fruit that was a prized treat throughout the Roman world. After the collapse of the Roman empire and the Arab conquest of the region, Judean date farming declined. By the time of the Crusades, around 1000 C.E., the area’s date plantations were no more.
The new plants could be the beginning of a revival—if not of the ancient dates then at least of their best features. Study co-author Frédérique Aberlenc, a biologist at the French National Institute for Sustainable Development, says the group plans to pollinate the female plants in the near future, hopefully allowing them to bear fruit.
The idea is to produce fruit with traits that could be used to improve modern varieties, increasing their sweetness and size and resistance to modern pests, for example. The plants could also provide a window into how date plants manage to protect and preserve their DNA over the course of many centuries.
Although an older grass seed was successfully germinated after millennia frozen in Siberian permafrost, these dates are some of the oldest plants ever successfully germinated. That’s because DNA and RNA usually fragment over time into tiny pieces.
That may be enough for ancient DNA analysis, but not to grow a living date palm plant. “For these seeds to germinate, the DNA had to be intact, which goes against a lot of what we know about DNA preservation,” says University of York archaeogeneticist Nathan Wales, who was not involved with the study. “It’s not out of the question that there is some really cool biological system at work that preserves DNA [in dates].”
Sallon says the unusual conditions around the Dead Sea probably helped. “Low altitude, heat, dry conditions—all of those could affect the longevity of the embryo,” she says.
The seeds’ unusual size could have played a role, too. The more genetic material there is, the more is likely to remain whole, Allaby says. “But it’s still extraordinary. … It beggars belief that you would have entire chromosomes intact.”
Footprints Made by Neanderthals who Walked in Lava Hours After Eruption
The ‘ Ciampate del Diavolo ‘ or devils trail, along the Roccamonfina volcano in southern Italy, was made by Neanderthals is the belief of archeologists.
About 81 footprints from at least five individuals can be seen etched in the solid lava and considering the age of the rock, experts believe the group lived ‘before our species existed’.
According to the New Scientist, the prints match the Sima de Los Huesos ‘ hominoid foot, based on size and shape: the ‘ bones ‘ pit ‘ in Atapuerca in northern Spain.
The team also determined that the prints were made hours or days after the violent volcano erupted some 50,000 years ago.
The dense collection of hot gas and volcanic materials, or pyroclastic flow, heated to more than 570 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of the eruption and based on the distance between each step, experts concluded the lava was still soft, but cool enough for a slow walk.
The Roccamonfina is a stratovolcano with a radius of about six miles and is located along the northern Campania coast, at a distance of about 37 miles to the northwest of Mount Somma and Mount Vesuvius.
The volcano has been extinct for more than 50,000 years, but ash from its last explosion is well-preserved in the area.
Archaeologists first discovered 67 footprints in 2001 that headed both down and uphill.
The footprints are located at the top of the Roccamonfina volcano and after further examination, another uncovered 14 prints have been spotted -bringing the total to 81.
The tracks are believed to have been made by a group walking at a speed of 13 feet per second, Forbes reported.
There have been many artifacts uncovered in the surrounding area that leads experts to think this mysterious group frequently visited the area – and could have harvested the rocks to make stone tools.
‘The new data also provide some hints for exploring new hypotheses about the presence of the Palaeolithic hominins in the Roccamonfina territory, although the specific identity of the trackmakers still remains unaddressed,’ the researchers wrote in the journal published in Journal of Quaternary Science.
‘ How many and which species were present at that time in Europe are, indeed, challenging questions, still the subject of open debate.
Board-game piece from the period of first Viking raid found on Lindisfarne, England.
The first wave of Viking raids in England has announced a small glass crown as a rare archaeological artifact.
On the holy island of Lindisfarne, a tidal island located off the north-western coast of England in Northumberland, a small working glass artifact was uncovered.
The Times reports that historians claim the crown was gameplay from the hnefatafl (king’s table) games strategy board gamed in England, Ireland and Scandinavia, prior to the arrival of chess in the 12th century, made from spinning blue and white glass with green glass bobbles.
The relic, which is no bigger than a grape, is described as being “of exquisite workmanship” showing influence from across the North Sea and if it is indeed a hnefatafl gaming piece it is a rare archaeological treasure linking the English island with the Vikings at the beginning of a turbulent period in English and Scandinavian history.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is perhaps best known for the 8th century illuminated gospels manufactured in the island’s first monastery, but in 793 AD the island was sacked in what was the first major Viking raid in Britain or Ireland.
The newly discovered gaming piece, according to a report in the Guardian, is thought to have maybe been accidentally dropped by a Viking or owned by a “high-status local” imitating Norse customs. Regardless, the treasure offers archaeologists a hard link between Lindisfarne ’s Anglo-Saxon monastery and the Norse raiders that sacked it.
Dr. David Petts, the project’s lead archaeologist and senior lecturer in the archaeology of northern England at Durham University, said that while the exact location of the island’s early wooden monastery is not known, recent excavations on the island by archaeologists and volunteers from DigVentures have located a cemetery and a building.
DigVentures excavations on Lindisfarne are crowdfunded and greatly staffed by volunteers and this rare find was made last summer by the mother of one of the excavation teams who visited the site for a day celebrating her birthday.
Found in a trench dating to between the 8th and 9th centuries the gaming piece dates to around the time of the first Viking raid and according to DigVentures’ managing director, Lisa Westcott Wilkins, several of the most significant finds from Lindisfarne have been made by members of the public.
The “big argument”, says Wilkins, is whether you can do real archaeology with members of the public, but “you can” as long as it is properly supervised, she says.
When Wilkins was first presented with the tiny glass piece she says her “heart was pounding, the little hairs on my arms were standing up”, but as a scientist, she had trained herself out of having an emotional response to even such a fine piece, “it’s a piece of evidence, bottom line,” she said. But because the piece is “just so beautiful and so evocative of that time period,” the scientist said she just couldn’t help herself.
Dr. Petts said we often tend to think of early medieval Christianity, especially on islands, “as terribly austere: that they were all living a brutal, hard life” but this was not the case for everyone.
According to the archaeologist, even if it is proven the game this piece belonged to was being played by pilgrims or wealthy monks in the period before the Vikings raided, he says, it demonstrates that the influence of Norse culture had already extended across the Nordic regions.
Moreover, the professor says, in the 8th century Lindisfarne was “a bustling place peopled with monks, pilgrims, tradespeople, and even visiting kings,” and the sheer quality of this piece suggests someone on the island lived an elite lifestyle.
According to Anglo-Saxon writers, the opening weeks of the year 793 AD were worrying times in northern England with folk reporting whirlwinds, sporadic lightning, and even “fiery dragons flying in the air”.
And while in most years the preceding famine would have fulfilled the meaning of these prophetic signs, on June 8th darkness spread on England in the form of a fleet of heathens who appeared on the east horizon “and miserably destroyed God’s church on Lindisfarne, with plunder and slaughter”.
I have been careful not to call the Viking raid on the island of Lindisfarne, the first, but the “first major” attack on England, for only four years before, in 789 AD, according to English Heritage, “three ships of Northman had landed on the coast of Wessex, and killed the king’s reeve who had been sent to bring the strangers to the West Saxon court”.
But the assault on Lindisfarne differed greatly from this skirmish because it was a direct strike at the Christian sacred heart of the Northumbrian kingdom, desecrating what is known as “the very place where the Christian religion began” in England. It was where the venerated Cuthbert (d. 687) had served as a bishop and where his remains were worshiped as that of a saint.
The message delivered by the 793 AD raid was clear: we don’t just want your fields, fish, and women, but we are here to topple your king. And in this context no more fitting a discovery could ever have been made on Lindisfarne than an easily breakable crown.