Divers find temples and treasure in Egypt’s ancient city of Heracleion
A trove of artefacts, including the remains of a temple, gold jewelry, coins and the missing piece of a ceremonial ship, have been found by divers swimming through Heracleion, an ancient Egyptian city now underwater.
Heracleion — named after the legendary Hercules, who ancient people believed actually visited the city — was a bustling metropolis in its day.
When it was built in about the eighth century B.C., it sat on the edge of the Nile River, next to the Mediterranean Sea. Cleopatra was even crowned in one of its temples.
Then, about 1,500 years ago, it flooded and now sits under about 150 feet (45 meters) of water.
Ever since archaeologists discovered it in 2000, Heracleion (also known as Thonis) has slowly revealed its ancient secrets.
During the latest two-month excavation, archaeologists were delighted to find the remains of a large temple, including its stone columns, and the crumbling remnants of a small Greek temple, which was buried under 3 feet (1 m) of sediment on the seafloor, the ministry reported.
The excavation team of Egyptian and European archaeologists was led by Franck Goddio, the underwater archaeologist who discovered Heracleion 19 years ago.
Together, the team used a scanning tool that transmits images of artifacts resting on the seafloor and those buried beneath it.
The scanning tool revealed part of a boat. During past excavations, archaeologists had found 75 boats, although not all of them were complete.
This new finding was the missing part of boat 61, which was likely used for ceremonial purposes, the Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement.
It wasn’t a small boat, either. When the archaeologists pieced boat 61 together, it measured 43 feet long and 16 feet across (13 m by 5 m).
The ship held tiny treasures — coins of bronze and gold, as well as jewelry. The bronze coins uncovered at Heracleion date to the time of King Ptolemy II, who ruled from 283 to 246 B.C.
The team also discovered pottery dating to the third and fourth centuries B.C., the ministry noted.
The team also looked at the underwater site of Canopus, which, like Heracleion, is located in the Gulf of Abu Qir, Alexandria.
At Canopus, the archaeologists found an ancient building complex that extended the city’s footprint southward about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), the ministry said.
Canopus also held other treasures; the archaeologists found an ancient port, coins from the Ptolemaic and Byzantine periods, and rings and earrings from Ptolemaic times.
All of these artifacts indicate that Canopus was a busy city from the fourth century B.C. to the Islamic era.
These Are Some Of The Most Incredible Fossils Ever Unearthed
So, what precisely makes a fossil famous? Is it thrust into the limelight because of its scientific importance or because of the miraculous manner in which it was found? Or maybe it’s the moment when the discovery was created. We would argue it’s a combination of all three.
When you think of it, the fossils are amazing. Organic materials turned into stone and give a glimpse of the animals on the planet century ago.
As if that wasn’t amazing enough, the odds that a single organism will die at just the right time and in just the right place to be fossilized are infinitesimally small – and yet obviously it happens.
When considering the odds of any individual animal turning to rock, it makes some of these fossil finds even more mind-blowing. Whether it’s the exquisite level of preservation showing a moment of ancient behavior frozen in time or simply a find that no one expected, these are a snapshot of some of the most impressive fossil finds.
One of the best dinosaur fossils ever discovered (main image), the preservation of the unfortunate nodosaur that died some 110 million years ago is unlike anything seen before.
Most fossils are made up of just a few pieces of bone and teeth, but this incredible find details the skin and armor of the animal from the tip of the head to the hip. Even the pads on the bottom of the feet can be seen.
Some of the most common questions when it comes to long-extinct creatures are those that relate to what color these ancient beasts once were.
Recent advances in technology mean that paleontologists are just starting to figure out what patterns dinosaurs may have had based on the fossilized remains of pigments. However, some animals use structural colors and in some cases, such as these stunning beetles, the metallic structural colors survived the fossilization process, meaning we don’t have to imagine what they once looked like.
Fish-eating a fish-eating pterosaur
Usually, when studying fossils, you have to build up a picture of what the ecology at the time looked like based on what animals and plants are found in association with each other.
But every so often by some truly astonishing act of serendipity, you get fossils like this. As a pterosaur skipped the water and caught a small fish, a second much bigger fish launched from the water and grabbed the pterosaur itself, an encounter that ended fatally for all involved.
Ichthyosaur live birth
The discovery of an ichthyosaur giving birth proved once and for all that, despite evolving from egg-laying reptiles, the ocean-going creatures did not come ashore like turtles to reproduce. Instead, they gave birth to live young at the surface of the water, like whales and dolphins. It is now thought that early ichthyosaurs initially gave birth head first, before later evolving to deliver babies tail first as would make sense for the air-breathing creatures.
Dinosaur tail in amber
We’re used to looking at the cold, hard stone when it comes to the remains of dinosaurs, but one astonishing find changed that forever. Dating to an incredible 99 million years old, the actual tail of a dinosaur was found trapped in amber – soft tissue, bones, feathers, and all.
Probably coming from a dinosaur the size of a sparrow, it gives researchers an idea of how the animal’s feathers were arranged in three-dimensions and opens up a whole new avenue for how paleontologists study dinosaurs. Already researchers are scouring the markets of Myanmar on the hunt for more preserved dinosaurs.
Quite naturally, we are overly obsessed with the origins of our own species. The discovery of the Laetoli footprints in 1976 provided conclusive evidence that our distant ancestors were walking bipedally at least 3.7 million years ago.
The incredible footprints were most likely made by an Australopithecus afarensis, who walked over a layer of ash following the recent volcanic eruption. Light African rains likely dampened the ash, turning it in effect into clay and perfectly capturing the moment three hominins walked across the landscape so long ago.
Dinosaur blood and collagen
Most of the time, researchers studying dinosaurs only have bones to go on (apart from the occasional dismembered dinosaur body part trapped in amber (see above). So when scientists accidentally discovered that a “crap” fossil dug up in Canada contained what appeared to be 75-million-year-old dinosaur blood and collagen, it was something of a surprise to be sure. It opens up the possibility that museums and collections right around the world may be holding fossils that contain a wealth of soft tissue preserved within them.
When researchers announced the discovery of fossils from “hobbit” people on the Indonesian island of Flores, it sent shockwaves through the world of anthropology.
Many dismissed the fossils of Homo floresiensis as either a hoax, diseased humans, or children, but sure enough, it was eventually proved that a miniature species of ancient human once existed and possibly even came into contact with our own ancestors.
Ancient Volcanic Ashbed in Nebraska
Compared to dinosaur fossils, the Ashfall Fossil Bed is a baby, but it makes up for what it lacks in age by how incredible it is.
Around 12 million years ago, a volcanic eruption killed over 200 animals – including rhinos, early horses, long-necked camels, and cranes – after they inhaled and then were buried by the fine ash. Their perfectly preserved and fully articulated skeletons are still being dug up 40 years after the bone site was first discovered.
The Yakhchāl was an ancient Persian “the refrigerator” that stored food and even ice long before electricity was invented
The ancients were smarter than certain individuals think today. They had no rockets and electricity, no undisputed evidence of such techniques has been discovered, but they have developed technology which we generally do not associate with the ancient world.
The yakhchal (meaning ice pit) was a kind of old coolant constructed in the deserts of Persia (now Iran), which was made without electricity, with contemporary coolants, or with most contemporary coolers. It shows humans ‘ capacity of humans to find solutions to problems with any materials or technology they have available.
Take the Incas, for example, who did not have a developed alphabetic system for writing but had the quipu, a counting device of knots and strings that enabled them to keep track of population records and livestock and even recaptured essential episodes of their folklore.
When it comes to engineering, architectural wonders are omnipresent on almost every continent, whether that be the pyramids of Egypt, Angkor Wat of the Khmer Empire, or even entire underground cities such as Derinkuyu in Turkey’s Cappadocia region.
One great example of smart and sustainable engineering brings us to the Middle East, a realm noted for being one of the cradles of civilization and developing human cultures. There, around the 4th century B.C., the ancient Persians came up with what is known as yakhchāl.
The yakhchāl did not serve as a burial ground or a place to accommodate people, but it instead fulfilled another important function amid the scorching summers.
With excessive heat and arid climate, the region had occupants, the ancient Persians, who needed some way to cool off and store food during the summer months, and that’s when yakhchāls were found of great help.
The word stands for “ice pit.” These edifices provided both space and conditions to store not only ice but also many types of food that would otherwise quickly spoil at hot temperatures.
On the outside, a yakhchāl structure can dominate the skyline with its domed shape, and on the inside, it would typically integrate an evaporation cooler system that allowed the ice and food resources to stay cool or even frozen while stored in the structure’s underground rooms.
It may sound a bit far-fetched that the ancient Persians saved ice in the middle of the desert, but their technique was, in essence, not so complicated.
A typical yakhchāl edifice would rise some 60 feet, and on the inside, it would contain vast spaces for storage. The leading examples point to figures such as 6,500 cubic yards in volume.
The evaporative cooling system inside the structures functioned through windcatchers and water brought from nearby springs via qanāts, common underground channel systems in the region designed to carry water through communities and different facilities.
The evaporative cooling allowed temperatures inside the yakhchāl to decrease with ease, giving a chill feeling that indeed you are standing inside one big refrigerator.
The walls of it were constructed intelligently as well, with the usage of special mortar that provided super insulation and protection from the hot desert sun. It was a mix of sand, clay, and other components such as egg whites and goat hair among others.
The structures also contained trenches at the bottom, designed to collect any water coming from molten ice. Once collected, this water was then refrozen during nighttime, making maximum use of the resource as well as the cold desert night temperatures. It was a repetitive process.
Not only did the yakhchāls provide basic food resources, treats, and ice for the royals and high state officials, but the service was so attainable that even the poorest of society could access it.
Usage of yakhchāls has halted in modern times, and though some structures have been damaged and eroded by desert storms, still, many can be found intact across Iran and some of its neighboring countries, as far as to Tajikistan.
The usage of the term yakhchāl lingers on in the region today, commonly referring to refrigerators found in modern-day kitchens.
Why were hundreds of children sacrificed in ancient Peru?
Archeologists who found them must have been shocked, perplexed and saddened before they first found the children’s bodies. Why would someone ever kill hundreds of kids ritually? What kind of monster is capable of such incredible evil.
In Peru archeologists who have lately digged something out of a horror novel have stumbled upon, according to Al Jazeera:
“Archaeologists in Peru have discovered a grave containing the bodies of 227 children who were almost certainly killed as part of a child sacrifice ritual.
“The sacrificial site was found near Huanchaco, a beachside tourist town north of Lima.
“‘This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found.
The bodies of the children are believed to have been a part of the ancient Chimú culture are the date from a period between 1400 and 1450.
“From about 900 until 1470 AD, at which time they were conquered by the Inca empire. A scientific paper published in March in PLOS One details the results of recent excavations at the Huanchaquito-Las Llamas archaeological site, where ‘evidence of a previously unknown ritual involving a massive sacrifice of 140 children and 200 young camelids (llamas) by the Chimú State, c. AD 1450.’
The site, according to the Los Angeles Times, is one of the largest known cases of child sacrifice in the history of the Americas, and those who uncovered the bodies were said to be “shocked” unable to believe they had found so many tiny children who had been slaughtered in such a ritualistic fashion.
The Chimú people were highly advanced and valued agriculture because it helped feed their nation. They even build a network of hydraulic canals so they could bring water from the mountainous region down to irrigate their crops.
Yet none of these facts explain why the Chimú would have suddenly felt a need to sacrifice so many children. There are no written records of their specific religious beliefs, but we do know that the bodies were buried “in a thick layer of mud that lay on top of the sand” and this would seem to suggest they were placed there after heavy rains caused massive mudslides in the area.
Could the weather have been the reason for the sacrifices?
“The northern coast of Peru is very dry in general, but El Niño climate conditions can bring unexpected heavy rains and flooding.”
Haagen Klaus, an anthropologist at George Mason University, believes the floods were what caused the sudden need for human sacrifices, adding that “he had little doubt that the sacrifice was a response to the rains.”
It was believed that the ancestors controlled water supplies and offerings were made to appease the ancestors, ‘to bring the world back into balance.’”
Imagine what must have transpired: The rains and flooding came, destroying the crops and economy of the Chimú.
They felt a need to appease the gods, so they arranged for the ritual sacrifice of children and llamas, the most valuable things in their society.
Though it seems barbaric and unforgivable to us thousands of years later, the Chimú were merely doing what they hoped would revive their nation and return balance to nature and life.
But the evidence they left seems to suggest that all they accomplished was leaving a charnel house of horrors to document their own lack of understanding.
400 Million Year Old Hammer discovered In Texas The London
The inner handle underwent the carbonization process, the hammerhead was constructed with iron purity, and this is only possible with modern-day technology, according to research by the Metallurgical Institute of Columbia.
According to analysis, the head of the hammer consists of 97 pure iron, 2 percent chlorine, and 1 percent sulfur.
This curious artifact was discovered in the city of London, Texas, USA, in 1934. The hammer appeared embedded inside a rock and since its discovery, there have been many theories about its origin, and most importantly its incredible age.
So how did the hammer end up embedded inside the rock?
Well, for the hammer to finish inside the rock, it had to have been built before the rock was formed and that would be several million years ago according to Livescience.
After its discovery and due to all the questions the hammer raised, researchers decided to abandon the incredible discovery in the Somervell Museum, in Texas.
According to studies of the Metallurgical Institute of Columbia, the inside handle underwent the process of carbonization, the head of the hammer was built with an iron purity only achievable with modern-day technology. According to analysis, the head of the hammer consists of 97 pure iron, 2 percent chlorine, and 1 percent sulfur.
Surprisingly researchers also found that the iron had undergone a process of purification and hardening, typical of metallurgy of the twentieth century.
According to analysis, the rock encasing of the hammer was dated to the Ordovician era, more than 400 million years ago.
The portion of stone surrounding the hammer-head also presented abnormalities, seeming to have merged with some type of sheath covering the hammer.
According to geologists, the slow process of petrification dates back hundreds of millions of years.
This has led several ufologists and ancient astronaut theorists to a quick deduction of the context of the incredible discovery leading them to assume not only that there was a human civilization before the historical process of petrification in Texas, but that this ancient civilization already possessed the necessary technology for the fabrication of a hammer with modern features.
Evidence suggesting that the iron from the hammer might have originated from a meteorite is not a possibility according to researchers.
The chemical analysis of the artifact also detected certain amounts of potassium, silicon, chlorine, calcium, and sulfur. Thus, this composition contradicts the hypothesis postulated that the hammer-head belonged to the fragment of a meteorite since the bodies of our solar system do not have that type of chemical composition.
Researchers also believe, that since the head of the hammer was found embedded into the rock, it suggests that the embedding process was performed under different atmospheric conditions to the current, different atmospheric pressure, more similar to those in the remote past.
Against the remote possibility that a meteorite with an extremely rare and bizarre chemical composition and exceptional morphology, got caught, in prehistoric times, onto a piece of wood just as the head of the discovered hammer imprisons its handle, some researchers and ancient astronaut theorists point toward the fact that our planet was inhabited in ancient times, by civilizations with advanced technical and technological capacity, of which today we only have legends and items like this one who were trapped in rock.
Unfortunately, some scientists do not agree with the theory that an ancient civilization created the hammer, and claim that it was only a metallurgical technique that had been eventually abandoned.
This extraordinary artifact belongs to the list of many other mysterious objects that have been discovered across the globe, and just like the Russian “microchip” or the 300 million-year-old screw, this item has caused debate among researchers and historians who are divided into groups, supporting and denying the possibility that the human race is much older than previously thought.
Whether this artifact is indeed a hammer dating back hundreds of millions of years, is something that will fuel debate among supporters of the ancient astronaut theory and conventional archaeologists, who both have provided arguments explaining the origin and age of the hammer.
500-Year-Old Incan ‘Princess’ Mummy Finally Returned To Bolivia After 129 Years
Some 129 years after it was donated to the Michigan State University Museum, a 500-year-old Incan Girl’s mummy has been returned to Bolivia and an official says that human remains of archeological significance are the first time being repatriated back to the Andean country.
Known as Ñusta, a Quechua word for ‘Princess,’ the mummy amazes many because of its excellent state of preservation: Its black braids seem recently combed and its hands still cling to small feathers.
Experts say the mummy originally came from a region in the Andean highlands near La Paz during the last years of the Inca civilization.
Radiocarbon tests also have revealed that it dates to the second half of the 15th century, confirming the likelihood that its tomb burial preceded the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the conquest of the Inca by the Spanish.
‘Despite the fact that it was given the name Ñusta, or ‘Princess,’ we don’t know if she was really a princess.
We will only be able to answer that with DNA studies,’ said William A. Lovis, an MSU emeritus professor of anthropology who worked for years to help bring the remains home.
The mummy was returned more than two weeks ago with the assistance of the U.S. embassy in La Paz, and a new study is expected to be carried out by November by Bolivian academics and foreign experts.
Until then, accompanying funerary objects will be exhibited to the public during a celebration that pays homage to the dead on Nov. 2.
Culture Minister Wilma Alanoca said that in recent years, the Bolivian government has achieved the repatriation of several archaeological goods that were taken illegally, but this is the first time that a body has been brought back.
‘It’s the first time that a body has been recovered, a mummy from the Inca period,’ she said.
Still, many mysteries remain unsolved.
The girl, who is thought to have been part of an ethnic Aymara group known as the Pacajes, had originally been placed in a stone tomb along with sandals, a small clay jar, pouches, feathers and several types of plants including maize and coca – perhaps because some Andean civilizations believed that offerings helped the dead transition into the next life.
‘It’s possible that the girl was an important person and that the objects placed with her had as much sacred importance as they had a useful purpose,’ said Lovis.
‘Another possibility is that her death was an Inca sacrifice to appease or an offer to Inca deities.’
Ñusta is believed to have been about 8 years old when she died and was buried in a dress made with threads from llama or alpaca, animals which were domesticated more than 4,000 years ago in the Andes and still roam the highlands of Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Chile.
David Trigo, who heads the National Archaeology Museum in La Paz, said the well-kept objects open new doors into a society that has barely been studied.
‘We can say that she was an important member of her ethnic group,’ Trigo said, referring to Incan and Aymara traditions of building adobe or stone tombs known as chullpa for elite members of their communities.
For now, the remains are being preserved in a refrigerated chamber at the National Archaeology Museum in downtown La Paz.
9-Year-Old Kid Literally Stumbled on Stunning Fossils of a New Hominid
In South Africa, a young boy walking his dog has unconsciously stumbled through a pair of about 2 million years old which is now supposed to fill an integral gap in our knowledge of human evolution.
Nine-years-old Matthew Berger and his dog stumbled in a cavern close Johannesburg in 2008, in Malapa, South Africa, over the partially fossilized bones of an adult woman and a young man.
Since then, there has been much debate over whether these remains are genuinely distinct from previously discovered species.
The bones were found to be a close relative of the Homo genus and have come to be known as Australopithecus sediba (Au. Sediba) — “Australopithecus” means “southern ape.” And now, according to a new study, the remains are believed to be the bridge in human evolution between early humans and our more apelike ancestors.
Australopithecus sediba is thought to come between the 3-million-year-old apelike species known as Australopithecus afarensis (from which the famous “Lucy” specimen comes) and the “Handyman” species known as Homo habilis, who used tools 1.5 million to 2.1 million years ago.
And these latest Au. Sediba skeletons are even more complete than the famous “Lucy,” whose 1974 discovery was previously unprecedented.
“The anatomies we are seeing in Australopithecus sediba are forcing us to reassess the pathway by which we became human,” reported Jeremy DeSilva, co-author of the study.
Though some researchers have noted this discovery as indeed that of a unique species since its uncovering in 2008, this latest study illustrates precisely how Au. sediba is, in fact, distinct.
The study thoroughly describes the new species’ anatomy and has found similarities with early members of the Homo genus “suggesting a close evolutionary relationship.”
The hands of the nearly 2-million-year-old Au. sediba resemble those of Homo habilis but are not the same, which suggests that the former was also able to use tools or at the very least, had a more precise grip than that of earlier species.
Australopithecus sediba is also now believed to have walked on two feet, though it would have spent much of its time in the trees, “perhaps for foraging and protection from predators,” the study said.
And all this, remember, came from an accidental discovery.
“Imagine for a moment that Matthew stumbled over the rock and continued following his dog without noticing the fossil,” the authors wrote.
“If those events had occurred instead, our science would not know about Au. sediba, but those fossils would still be there, still encased in calcified clastic sediments, still waiting to be discovered.”
Three Ancient Skeletons have been discovered by the archeologists in Croatia, and two of them had pointy, artificially deformed skulls.
Each of those skulls had been melded into a different shape, possibly as a way to show they belonged to a specific cultural group.
Artificial cranial deformation has been practiced in various parts of the world, from Eurasia and Africa to South America.
It is the practice of shaping a person’s skull — such as through using tight headdresses, bandages or rigid tools — while the skull bones are still malleable in infancy.
Ancient cultures had different reasons for the practice, from indicating social status to creating what they thought was a more beautiful skull.
The earliest known instance of this practice occurred 12,000 years ago in ancient China, but it’s unclear if the practice spread from there or if it emerged independently in different parts of the world.
In this case, archeologists found these three skeletons in a burial pit in Croatia’s Hermanov vinograd archeological site in 2013.
Between 2014 and 2017, they analyzed the skeletons using various methods, including DNA analysis and radiographic imaging— a method that involves using radiation to view the inside of an object such as a skull.
Their analysis revealed that the skeletons were all males who had died between ages 12 and 16. They all showed evidence of malnutrition, but that’s not necessarily how they died.
They could have had “some kind of disease that killed them quickly and didn’t leave any traces on their bones,” such as plague, said senior author Mario Novak, a bioarchaeologist at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, Croatia.
The archaeologists didn’t find artifacts in the burial that could have revealed the boys’ social status, Novak said.
The analysis also revealed that the three had lived between A.D. 415 and 560, a time that corresponds to the Great Migration Period, which is “a very turbulent period in Europe’s history.
Right after the fall of the Roman Empire, completely new populations of people and cultures began to arrive in Europe and become the basis for modern European nations. “In other words, this period set the foundations of Europe as we know it today,” Novak said.
Indeed, DNA analysis of the ancient trio revealed that one of them had a West Eurasian ancestry, another a near-Eastern ancestry and the third an East Asian ancestry.
The boy who was of near-Eastern ancestry had a circular-erect type cranial deformation, which means that the frontal bone behind the forehead was flattened and the height of the skull was “significantly increased,” Novak said.
The boy who likely came from West Eurasia didn’t have any skull deformation, and the boy with East Asian ancestry had a skull with an “oblique” deformation, which means the skull was elongated diagonally upward.
“We propose that different skull deformation types in Europe were used as a visual indicator of association with a certain cultural group,” Novak said. As of yet, it’s unclear what cultural groups they belonged to, though the East Asian boy could have been a Hun.
Now, Novak and his team hope to find more samples of cranial deformation from Europe to understand this phenomenon on a larger scale.