One of the First Known Chemical Attacks Took Place 1,700 Years Ago in Syria

One of the First Known Chemical Attacks Took Place 1,700 Years Ago in Syria

The systematic use of chemical weapons was a characteristic feature of the First World War. Chemical gases of various lethality, including mustard gas, phosgene, and tear gas, were used to disable and kill enemy defenders. Although chemical weapons played a major role during the Great War, its usage can be dated to a much earlier period of history.

The Greek myth of Heracles, in which a hero spills his arrows into his blood of Hydra, to make them poisonous, includes one of the earliest references to the use of chemical weapons. It has also been claimed that poisoned arrows were mentioned by Homer in both his epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

In the ancient civilizations of the East, evidence of the use of chemical weapons also appear. In India , for example, poisons can be used in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana during warfare.

Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra from the Mahabharata.

Moreover, recipes for poisonous weapons can be found in Kautilya’s Arthashastra, which dates to India’s Mauryan period. In China, there are writings that describe the use of toxic gases by defenders of a city.

The toxic fumes, produced by burning balls of mustard or other toxic vegetables, are pumped into tunnels dug by a besieging army using bellows.

Returning to the Western world, the use of poisonous fumes may be traced to the Peloponnesian War, which took place during the 5 th century B.C. During one of the battles between the Spartans and the Athenians, the former burnt a mixture of wood, pitch and sulphur under the walls of the latter, hoping that the fumes would incapacitate the defenders, and thus disabling their ability to resist the Spartan assault.

The examples provided thus far have been obtained through the surviving literary evidence. For the earliest available archaeological evidence of the use of chemical weapons, however, one would need to look at the site of Dura-Europos, which is located on the bank of the Euphrates River in Syria. Dura-Europos was a Roman city that fell to the Sassanians around the middle of the 3 rd century A.D.

The ancient site of Dura-Europos on the Euphrates River in Syria.

Although there are no literary records about the final siege, archaeology provides a clue as to what happened. Dura-Europos was excavated during the 1920s and 30s by French and American archaeologists.

Among the features found by the archaeologists were mines, one dug by the Persians and another dug by the Romans as a counter. In addition, the piled bodies of at least 19 Roman soldiers and a lone Sassanian soldier in the tunnel were also found.

The initial interpretation was that a fierce battle ensued in the tunnel, where the Sassanians successfully repelled the Roman defenders. After the battle, the Sassanians destroyed the counter-mine by setting fire to it, as evidenced by the presence of the sulphur crystals and bitumen in the tunnel.

Fortifications at Dura-Europos, Syria .

In 2009, a re-examination of the evidence led to a re-interpretation of the events that happened during the siege. As the tunnels were too narrow for effective hand-to-hand combat, doubts were cast on the established interpretation. Furthermore, the position of the Roman bodies, stacked deliberately into a pile, suggests that this was not the place where they fell.

The alternate interpretation, as suggested by Prof. Simon James, an archaeologist at the University of Leicester, was that the Sassanians employed toxic gases to kill the Roman defenders. When sulphur and bitumen were thrown onto a fire, it became a choking gas and turned into sulphuric acid when breathed in by the Roman defenders. Within minutes, the Romans who were in the tunnel were dead.

This happened when the Sassanian mine was broken in by the Romans, whose counter-mine was right above theirs. The lone Sassanian soldier may have been a victim of his own weapons and died of the poison gasses as well.

Once the tunnel was cleared, the Sassanians stacked the Roman bodies at the mouth of the counter-mine as a shield wall, and proceeded to destroy this mine, so that they could resume their sapping work.  

Illustration showing the proposed use of toxic gas at Dura-Europos.

The archaeological finds at Dura-Europos reveal that chemical warfare was already in use during ancient times, and provides the first physical evidence that the literary sources lack.

How often such chemical weapons were used is another question. Is Dura-Europos a unique example of the use of chemical weapons, or were such weapons more widely used? Perhaps more archaeological evidence will emerge that will provide an answer.

The second sphinx buried in sand in Egypt Giza plateau, pyramid much older than believed, researchers

The second sphinx buried in sand in Egypt Giza plateau, pyramid much older than believed, researchers

It is one of the most prominent structures in the world and for decades has been the Sphinx – the legendary and giant statue of what seems to be a lion with a human face. It has captured the imaginations of archaeologists, photographers, and visitors on the Giza plateau of Egypt.

But there could be a second Sphinx built around the same time as the one known to the world — but this Sphinx has been hidden for thousands of years in the sands of Giza.

Two British historians, Gerry Cannon and Malcolm Hutton are now suggesting this theory: Who says that unlike numerous examples of smaller Sphinx structures and illustrated depictions of Sphinxes found in Egypt, the Sphinx of Giza is a rarity in that it stands alone, according to a report by the Egypt Today online site.

Every other Sphinx dating from ancient Egypt has been part of a pair, believed to represent the “duality” of male and female, the report says — also representing the duality of the sun and moon.

Ancient Egyptians believed that at the end of every day the sun traveled underground and reemerged as the moon, with a Sphinx protecting each end of the journey.

“Every time we have to deal with the solar cult, we should discuss of one lion and one lioness facing each other, posing parallel to each other or sitting in a back-to-back position,” said Egyptologist Bassam el-Shammaa, whose 2011 ebook, Quest for the Truth: Discovering The Second Sphinx forms the basis for the current Cannon and Hutton theory.

Cannon and Hutton also say that the Sphinx is much older than the current estimated age of approximately 4,600 years.

In fact, rather than the generally accepted belief that the Sphinx was constructed sometime between 2,700 B.C. and 2,500 B.C., though the exact date has not been pinpointed, Cannon and Hutton say that the structure could not have been built at that time.

In fact, they place the construction of the Sphinx prior to Earth’s most recent Ice Age — sometime earlier than 10,000 B.C. If their theory is correct, the Sphinx would be about eight millennia older than experts currently believe.

“The Sphinx had to have been carved when there was no sand there. You can’t carve a rock when it’s under the sand,” Cannon told the British Express newspaper. “When it was not under the sand was about 12,000 years ago and the Egyptians weren’t there.”

The researchers also say that the pyramids of Giza, which the Sphinx is apparently positioned to guard, would have been built at approximately the same time as the Sphinx — meaning that the ancient Egyptian civilization recorded by history was not the origin of the remarkable structures.

An earlier, prehistoric civilization that was perhaps wiped out by the ice age, must have built the Sphinx and pyramids, the pair of authors say.

The ancient giants of Nevada and the mystery of lovelock cave

The ancient giants of Nevada and the mystery of lovelock cave

For more than a century, a story has persisted about the skeletons of giants being found in Lovelock Cave in northern Nevada. For many years, human remains were put on display in museums here and elsewhere, but that changed. Most of the bones and skulls that were once considered to be historical artifacts have been returned to tribes for burial.

If oversized bones from the so-called Lovelock giants ever existed, they are no longer available to the public. But their story behind the legend persists. Slicing through the bone-dry Humboldt sink on a long dirt road, it’s hard to imagine that all of it was once underwater.

Remnants of a vast ancient lake can still be seen in the distance. For generations of first Americans, this was a lush paradise of tules, fish, and waterfowl. Humans have climbed the same narrow path up the jagged mountain for more than 4,000 years. That’s how long indigenous peoples lived in and around the Lovelock Cave.

The roof of the cave is coated with soot from countless campfires lit by ancestors of the Paiutes. According to tribal lore, a race of red-headed giants made its last stand in the cave.

Reporter George Knapp: “Among today’s Paiutes, do most say the giants were real?”

Devoy Munk: “All that I’ve talked to say yes. I’ve haven’t heard anybody say no.”

Devoy Munk, a Lovelock historian, has spent all of her 80-plus years in Lovelock. Her family’s home today houses a small museum, jam-packed with artifacts and depictions documenting centuries of native culture and pioneer life.

Munk has earned the trust of Paiute elders who say the stories are true, and that the red-headed interlopers not only killed but ate their ancestors.

“My Indian friends tell me they were cannibals, that they set traps. They dug holes in pathways where they walked, covered them, and then Indians would fall in, and they said the best parts to eat were the thighs,” Munk said.

On Internet sites and alien-themed TV shows, the gruesome legend has blossomed, but it’s hardly new. Versions have been told and retold in magazines, even scholarly journals for more than a century.

Famed Nevadan Sarah Winnemucca first wrote in her acclaimed book that the Paiutes waged a three-year war against a tribe of red-headed cannibals before trapping — then killing — the last of them inside lovelock cave.

Her book doesn’t mention giants, and mainstream archeologists have vigorously rejected the entire story, to the point that the state museum in Winnemucca admonishes visitors at its front entrance that the red-headed giants are a myth.

“There have been skeletons pulled out of the Reid collection,” said Bill Snodgrass. “They found some in there roughly 6’2″. When you think about it, back then, six-foot was a very tall individual.”

Snodgrass is the curator of the Marzen House Museum in Lovelock and thinks there is a reasonable basis for parts of the story. In the early 20th century, guano miners began excavating the Lovelock Cave and uncovered thousands of artifacts along with mummified remains including a few specimens much taller than the typical Paiute of centuries past.

Later scientific excavations found troves of native antiquities along with bones. Some human remains were destroyed. Others went to museums for display. A few, Snodgrass says, were consumed in bizarre initiation rituals. He adds there is evidence — including basketry — of an unknown culture that lived near the cave. Records show some of them had red hair.

“I can’t say who they were, redheads or not. Some say uric acid changes the color of hair, but there was definitely a different people here,” Snodgrass said.

Many, if not most, of the visitors who end up at the Marzen House Museum, have questions about the red-headed cannibals. The locals still enjoy the debate.

Reporter George Knapp: “The two of you disagree but it’s a friendly disagreement?”

“Oh yes. We’ve had this discussion and he hasn’t convinced me and I haven’t convinced him,” Munk said. Whether the red-headed giants ever existed, visits to the two museums are worth the drive. 

Gigantic 2,000-Year-Old Geoglyph of an Orca Is One of the Earliest in Peru

Gigantic 2,000-Year-Old Geoglyph of an Orca Is One of the Earliest in Peru

A giant geoglyph of the killer whale, carved to a desert hillside in the remote Palpa region of southern Peru after being lost to science for over 50 years, has now been rediscovered by archeologists.

The rediscovered orca geoglyph lies on a desert hillside in the remote Palpa region of southern Peru.

According to the researchers, the 230-foot-long (70 meters) orca figure – considered a powerful, semimythical creature in ancient Peruvian lore — may be more than 2,000 years old, according to the researchers.

It is said to be one of the oldest geoglyphs in the Palpa region, older than those in the Nazca region known for its vast collection of ancient ground markings– the Nazca lines – which include animal figures, straight lines, and geometric shapes.

Archaeologist Johny Isla, the head of Peru’s Ministry of Culture in Ica province, which includes the Palpa and Nazca valleys, explained that he saw a single photograph of the orca pattern for the first time about four years ago. He’d seen it while researching studies of geoglyphs at the German Archaeological Institute in Bonn.

The photograph appeared in an archaeological catalog of geoglyphs printed in the 1970s, which was based on research carried out in Palpa and Nazca by German archaeologists in the 1960s, Isla said.

But the location and size of the orca geoglyph were not well-described in the catalog, Isla told Ancient Origins in an email.

As a result, he said, the glyph’s whereabouts in the desert hills of the Palpa Valley, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Lima, were by then unknown to local people or to scientists.

After returning to Peru, Isla looked for the orca geoglyph on Google Earth and then on foot. “It was not easy to find it, because the [location and description] data were not correct, and I almost lost hope,” he said. “However, I expanded the search area and finally found it a few months later,”

Orca art

After documenting the rediscovery, Isla led a team of six specialists from Peru’s Ministry of Culture in an effort to clean and restore the orca geoglyph in March and April this year.

Before the restoration, the geoglyph was disappearing due to erosion and the passage of time. “Being drawn on a slope, it is easier [for it] to suffer damage than [for] those figures that are in flat areas, such as those of the Nazca Pampa,” he said.

Until the restoration this year, time and erosion had almost obliterated the ancient orca geoglyph to untrained eyes.

The creators of the orca drew it on the hillside in negative relief by removing a thin layer of stones to form the outline of the figure. This is similar to the technique used by the people of the Nazca culture to create geoglyphs from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 800.

But some contrasting parts of the rediscovered pattern, such as the eyes, were created out of piles of stones, the researchers said. This technique was used by people of the older Paracas culture, who occupied the region from around 800 B.C. to 200 B.C.

Soil tests have indicated that the orca geoglyph dates from around 200 B.C. The style of the pattern and its location on a hillside, rather than on a plain, suggest that it may be one of the oldest geoglyphs in the region, said one of Isla’s colleagues, Markus Reindel of the German Archaeological Institute, in an interview in a German newspaper.

Isla said that before the restoration earlier this year, it would have been hard for a layperson to see the orca. “With the eyes of an archaeologist, and after having seen the photo in the catalog and later in Google Earth, it was not very difficult,” he said. “However, [for] the eyes of a person without these advantages, it was a bit difficult.” 

Australian scientists discover ancient underwater Aboriginal sites

Australian scientists discover ancient underwater Aboriginal sites

Aboriginal archeological sites were found first underwater in the northwest of Australia a thousand years ago when the current seabed was dry land.

The study included maps of the sites.

Artifacts of Aboriginal discovered off the Pilbara coast in Western Australia represent Australia’s oldest known underwater archaeology. The observations were carried out through a series of archeological and geophysical surveys in the Dampier Archipelago, as part of the Deep History of Sea Country Project, funded through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project Scheme.

The Murujuga Aborigines Company has collaborated with a team of International Archeologists from Flinders University, University of Western Australia, James Cook University, ARA – Airborne Research Australia and York University to find and investigate ancient artifacts at two underwater sites that have created hundreds of stone tools made from aboriginal peoples including grinding stones.

Underwater artefacts dated back thousands of years when the sea bed was dry land, found by researchers from Flinders University, University of Western Australia and James Cook University, are seen in this undated handout picture taken from a video.

In a study published in PLOS ONE, the ancient underwater sites, at Cape Bruguieres and Flying Foam Passage, provide new evidence of Aboriginal ways of life from when the seabed was dry land, due to lower sea levels, thousands of years ago. The submerged cultural landscapes represent what is known today as Sea Country to many Indigenous Australians, who have a deep cultural, spiritual, and historical connection to these underwater environments.

Archaeologists announce the discovery of two underwater archaeological sites that were once on dry land. This is an exciting step for Australian archaeology as we integrate maritime and Indigenous archaeology and draw connections between land and sea,” says Associate Professor Jonathan Benjamin who is the Maritime Archaeology Program Coordinator at Flinders University’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

“Australia is a massive continent but few people realize that more than 30% of its landmass was drowned by sea-level rise after the last ice age. This means that a huge amount of archaeological evidence documenting the lives of Aboriginal people is now underwater.

“Now Archaeologists finally have the first proof that at least some of this archaeological evidence survived the process of sea-level rise. The ancient coastal archaeology is not lost for good; we just haven’t found it yet. These new discoveries are a first step toward exploring the last real frontier of Australian archaeology.”

Chelsea Wiseman and Jonathan Benjamin after they discovered Australia’s first underwater Aboriginal archaeological sites

The dive team mapped 269 artifacts at Cape Bruguieres in shallow water at depths down to 2.4 meters below modern sea level. Radiocarbon dating and analysis of sea-level changes show the site is at least 7000 years old.

The second site at Flying Foam Passage includes an underwater freshwater spring 14 meters below sea level. This site is estimated to be at least 8500 years old. Both sites may be much older as the dates represent minimum ages only; they may be even more ancient.

The team of archaeologists and geoscientists employed predictive modelling and various underwater and remote sensing techniques, including scientific diving methods, to confirm the location of sites and the presence of artifacts.

Artifacts recovered from under water from Cape Bruguieres off the coast of Dampier in the Pilbara

“At one point there would have been dry land stretching out 160 km from the current shoreline. That land would have been owned and lived on by generations of Aboriginal people.

Our discovery demonstrates that underwater archaeological material has survived sea-level rise, and although these sites are located in relatively shallow water, there will likely be more in deeper water offshore” says Chelsea Wiseman from Flinders University who has been working on the DHSC project as part of Ph.D. research.

“These territories that are now underwater harboured favourable environments for Indigenous settlements including freshwater, ecological diversity and opportunities to exploit marine resources which would have supported relatively high population densities” says Dr Michael O’Leary, a marine geomorphologist at The University of Western Australia.”

The discovery of these sites emphasizes the need for stronger federal legislation to protect and manage underwater heritage across 2 million square kilometers of landscapes that were once above sea level in Australia, and hold major insights into human history.

“Managing, investigating and understanding the archaelogy of the Australian continental shelf in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional owners and custodians is one of the last frontiers in Australian archaeology” said Associate Professor Benjamin.

“Our results represent the first step in a journey of discovery to explore the potential of archaeology on the continental shelves which can fill a major gap in the human history of the continent,” he said.

In Murujuga, this adds substantial additional evidence to support the deep time history of human activities accompanying rock art production in this important National Heritage Listed Place.

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation CEO Peter Jeffries says the discoveries will help the community add to the story of Aboriginal people in the Pilbara.

“Further exploration could unearth similar cultural relics and help us better understand the life of the people who were so connected to these areas of land which are now underwater.

“With this comes a new requirement for the careful management of Aboriginal sea country as it’s not automatically protected by current Heritage legislation, however, plans are progressing to lead this change and protect our sea country land and heritage.”

Massive Polish Fort Walls Over 100 Feet Wide Indicate Medieval Capital

Massive Polish Fort Walls Over 100 Feet Wide Indicate Medieval Capital

The finding of three rings of fortified walls gave archeologists startling new information about Poland’s Middle Ages.

Polish fortress walls can be seen in this 1617 illustration of Poznań.

The finding of the enormous Polish fortress walls suggests that Poznan be the very first Polish capital and the people had taken full steps to protect this tactical center.

The Enormous Polish Fort Walls Can’t Stop Development

The walls determined 40 meters (13123 ft.) large and 12 meters (3937 ft.) high, which, according to The First News, indicates that these stronghold walls are “the biggest of their kind in Poland.”

They were constructed of a mix of sand, stone, and wood and would have been an enforcing view when they happily stood surrounding and safeguarding the city from its opponents over a thousand years earlier.

The archaeologists utilized photogrammetry and dendrochronology strategies to date the huge Polish prepared city walls and identified that they were constructed in between 968 and 1000.

Archaeologists found the Polish fortress’s ruins 7 meters (2297 ft.) underground while they were checking out the website which is set to be an apartment building.

The structure designer’s site states that the historical work is total and the building of the homes continues “on schedule.”

The Polish fort’s walls are made from wood, stone, and are “the biggest of their kind in Poland.”

The Indication of an Early-Medieval Capital City

Archaeology reports that the brand-new info indicates that Poznań takes over from neighboring Gniezno as the area of the nation’s very first capital city. As the chief archaeologist at the website, Antoni Smoliński, stated:

” Previously, our companied believe that Poznań was a settlement of secondary significance. Nevertheless, offered the discovery of the huge defences, this declaration is extremely doubtful.

The Early-Medieval city was, certainly, a tactical centre and the post-christening capital of Mieszko I’s Poland.”

mural in Gniezno commemorating the baptism of Mieszko I of Poland.

Poznań and St. Peter’s Sword

A previous Ancient Origins post likewise names Poznań as the house of St. Peter’s sword, mentioning that:

“During the reign of Mieszko I (ca. 960 – 992 AD), Christianity was adopted as the religion of the state. To commemorate the conversion of Poland, Pope John XIII decided to give the Sword of St. Peter as a gift, either to Mieszko I, or to Bishop Jordan, the first Bishop of Poland.

Mieszko’s center of power was in Poznan, whilst the bishop is believed to have had his seat in the same city, hence the Sword of St. Peter ended up there, regardless of whether it was the duke or the bishop who received the papal gift.”

Peter using his sword to strike Malchus (circa 1520, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon).

Bible stories state St. Peter utilized the sword to trim the best ear of among the high priest’s servants on the night prior to Jesus’s crucifixion. It now sits with gold and silver spiritual antiques in the city’s Archdiocesan Museum.

Horse Burial Discovered in Central Iran

Ancient horse remains discovered in central Iran

Archeologists found an ancient burial with the bones of a horse-estimated to be four years old-in Tepe Ashraf, the sole archaeological hill in Isfahan, central Iran.

The skeleton of the horse was discovered next to the place where a giant jar-tomb was unearthed last month, which researchers believe could shed new light on ancient human life in Isfahan.

“The burial of this horse with its head turned towards the animal’s body, shows an official burial which was practiced during the early years of the Parthian era (247 BC – 224 CE).

Ancient horse remains discovered in central Iran

In this type of burial, the animal’s body was buried next to its owner, who had died,” IRNA quoted senior archaeologist Alireza Jafari-Zand as saying on Tuesday.

Jafari-Zand, who heads the archaeological excavation at the hill, explained: “Evidence came to light from some Parthian cemeteries, being excavated in northern Iran, shows that the deceased’s horse was buried next to him, and this fully shows that we have the same burial [tradition] in Isfahan, the discovery of this type of burial in Ashraf hill is of high importance for the history of Isfahan because no such phenomenon has been reported in central Iran so far.”

“Tepe Ashraf is the second place after the Tepe Sialk (in Isfahan province) that has yielded the discovery of such jar tombs that offers valuable clues to uncover the obscure history of pre-Islamic Isfahan,” Jafari-Zand said.

Excavations at Tepe Ashraf initially began in 2010 when Jafari-Zand announced his team found evidence at the site suggesting that the Sassanid site had also been used during the Buyid dynasty (945–1055).

“We stumbled upon a reconstructed part in the ruins of the castle, which suggests that the structure had been used during the Buyid dynasty

“Isfahan is a city, which has never died over the history… and the old Isfahan is beneath the modern city. Thus, normally, archaeological excavation is impossible in the city,” according to Jafari-Zand who believes that the mount keeps a part of the history of Isfahan and Iran in its heart.

The mound has seriously been damaged on the northern side by the construction of a street. Besides, unscientific excavations carried out by several archaeology interns in 1987 disturbed the historical strata in a part of the site.

Soaked in a rich history, Isfahan was once a crossroads of international trade and diplomacy in Iran during the 16th and 17th centuries, and now it is one of Iran’s top tourist destinations for good reasons.

Isfahan is filled with architectural wonders such as unmatched Islamic buildings, bazaars, museums, Persian gardens, and tree-lined boulevards.

It’s a city for walking, getting lost in its mazing bazaars, dozing in beautiful gardens, and meeting people. It has long been nicknamed as Nesf-e-Jahan which is translated into “half of the world”, suggesting that seeing it is equivalent to seeing half of the world.

Over half a century ago, deep in the jungles of Guatemala, a gigantic stone head was uncovered 

Over half a century ago, deep in the jungles of Guatemala, a gigantic stone head was uncovered

The face had fine features, thin lips, and a large nose, and its face was directed up at the sky.  Unusually, the face demonstrated Caucasian features that were not consistent with any of the pre-Hispanic races of America.  The discovery rapidly attracted attention, but just as quickly it slipped away into the pages of forgotten history.

News of the discovery first emerged when Dr. Oscar Rafael Padilla Lara, a doctor of philosophy, lawyer and notary, received a photograph of the head in 1987 along with a description that the photograph was taken in the 1950s by the owner of the land where the head was found and that it was located “somewhere in the jungles of Guatemala”. 

The photograph and story were printed in a small article in the newsletter ‘Ancient Skies’, which was picked up and read by well-known explorer and author David Hatcher Childress, one of our guest authors at BBC, who sought out to discover more about the mysterious stone head.

He tracked down Dr. Padilla who reported that he found the owners of the property, the Biener family, on which the monolith was found. The site was 10 kilometers from a small village in La Democracia in the south of Guatemala.

However, Dr. Padilla said that he was in despair when he reached the site and found that the site had been obliterated: “It was destroyed by revolutionaries about ten years ago. We had located the statue too late. It was used as target practice by anti-government rebels. This totally disfigured it, sort of like the way the Sphinx in Egypt had its nose shot off by the Turks, only worse,” he said.

The eyes, nose, and mouth had completely gone. Padilla was able to measure its height as between 4 and 6 meters, with the head resting on a neck. Padilla did not return again to the site due to armed attacks between government forces and rebel forces in the area. 

The destruction of the head meant the story died a rapid death until it was picked up again a few years ago by filmmakers behind “ Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond ” who used the photograph to claim that extra-terrestrials have had contact with past civilizations.

The producer published a document written by Guatemalan archaeologist Hector E Majia who wrote: “I certify that this monument presents no characteristics of Maya, Nahuatl, Olmec or any other pre-Hispanic civilization.

It was created by an extraordinary and superior civilization with awesome knowledge of which there is no record of existence on this planet.”

However, far from helping the cause and the investigation into the monolith, this publication only served to have the opposite effect, throwing the whole story into the hands of a justifiably skeptical audience who thought that it was all just a publicity stunt. Even the letter itself has been drawn into question with some saying that it is not genuine. 

Nevertheless, it appears the giant head did exist and there is no evidence to suggest the original photograph is not authentic or that Dr. Padilla’s account was false.  So assuming it was real, the questions remain: Where did it come from? Who made it? And why?

The region where the stone head was reported to have been found, La Democracia, is actually already famous for stone heads which, like the stone head found in the jungle, also face skyward. 

These are known to have been created by the Olmec civilization, which flourished between 1400 and 400 BC.  The Olmec heartland was the area in the Gulf of Mexico lowlands, however, Olmec-style artifacts, designs, monuments, and iconography have been found in sites hundreds of kilometers outside the Olmec heartland, including La Democracia. 

Nevertheless, the stone head depicted in the 1950s photograph does not share the same features or style as the Olmec heads.  The late Phillip Coppens, Belgian author, radio host and TV commentator on matters of alternative history raised the question of whether the head “is an anomaly of the Olmec period, or whether it is part of another – unknown – a culture that predated or post-dated the Olmecs, and whose only artifact identified so far is the Padilla head”.

Other questions that have been posed include whether the structure was just a head, or whether there was a body underneath, like the Easter Island statues, and whether the stone head is linked to any other structures in the region. 

It would be nice to know the answers to these questions but sadly it appears the publicity surrounding the film “Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond” only served to bury the story deeper into the pages of history.  Hopefully an ambitious explorer will pick up the story once again and investigate further to find the truth regarding this enigmatic monument.

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