The Lost City Of Heracleion Discovered Deep Underwater After 1,200 Years

The Lost City Of Heracleion Discovered Deep Underwater After 1,200 Years

For centuries, the ‘ lost city of Atlantis has eluded explorers and is almost certainly the stuff of myth. Staggeringly, though, an ancient city that is Atlantis in all but name has emerged from under the sea near Alexandria — and now the lost world of Heracleion is giving up its treasures.

Like in the classical tale, Heracleion was once a wealthy, prosperous place, around 1500 years before it was swallowed up by the sea. It was grand enough to be mentioned by the Greek writer Herodotus, the 5th-century BC historian.

He told the fabulous story of Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world — she of the face that launched a thousand ships — travelling to Heracleion, then a port of ‘great wealth’, with her glamorous Trojan lover, Paris.

French marine archaeologist Frank Goddio explains text on the stele of Heracleion
Franck Goddio and divers from his team inspect the statue of a pharaoh

But no physical evidence of such a grand settlement appeared until 2001 when a group led by French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio stumbled upon some relics that led them to one of the greatest finds of the 21st century.

Goddio was in search of Napoleon’s warships from the 1798 Battle of the Nile, when he was defeated by Nelson in these very waters, but came upon this much more significant discovery. Goddio’s team has since been joined by the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology and the Department of Antiquities of Egypt to produce a wealth of dazzling finds.

The archaeologists first faced the mammoth task of reassembling massive stone fragments on the seabed before they could haul them to the surface. Twelve years on, their fabulous finds have been exposed to public view for the first time after more than a millennium spent beneath the silt and water of Aboukir Bay, 20 miles north-east of Alexandria.

Among the discoveries are colossal statues of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the god Hapi, and an unidentified Egyptian pharaoh — all preserved in immaculate condition by their muddy burial shroud. Along with these 16ft statues, there are hundreds of smaller statues of Egyptian gods — among them the figures that guarded the temple where Cleopatra was inaugurated as Queen of the Nile.

It seems the Amun-Gereb temple at Heracleion was the Egyptian equivalent of Westminster Abbey, where our own Queen was crowned 60 years ago. Dozens of sarcophagi have been found, containing the bodies of mummified animals sacrificed to Amun-Gereb, the supreme god of the Egyptians. Many amulets, or religious charms, have been unearthed, too, showing gods such as Isis, Osiris and Horus.

These were made not just for the Egyptians but for visiting traders, who incorporated them into their own religions and also, one imagines, kept them as trinkets to remind them of their far-flung journeys. The importance of Heracleion has been further proved by the discovery of 64 ships — the largest number of ancient vessels ever found in one place — and a mind-boggling 700 anchors.

Other finds illustrate how crucial Heracleion was to the economy of the ancient world. Gold coins and lead, bronze and stone weights from Athens (used to measure the value of goods and to calculate the tax owed) show that Heracleion was a lucrative Mediterranean trading post.

In the ancient world, the Mediterranean Sea was their equivalent of a superfast motorway. All their greatest cities, including Constantinople, Rome and Athens, were either on the coast or on rivers with easy access to it.

And now Heracleion can be added to their number as Egypt’s most important port during the time of the later pharaohs. It was, if you like, a major motorway junction — the spot where the Nile, Egypt’s lifeline, met the Med. Archaeologists have determined that as well as having a naturally navigable channel next to its ancient harbour, a further artificial channel appears to have been dug to expedite trade.

The Heracleion finds will add tremendous depth to our understanding of the ancient world — not least because, among the discoveries, there are perfectly preserved steles (inscribed pillars) decorated with hieroglyphics. Translated, they will reveal much about the religious and political life in this corner of ancient Egypt.

It was a similar inscription on the Rosetta Stone — discovered in the Nile Delta town of Rosetta in 1799 by a French soldier, and now in the British Museum — that cracked the code of hieroglyphics in the first place.

And like the Rosetta Stone, those steles found beneath the waters of Aboukir Bay are inscribed in Greek and Egyptian, too. Who knows how many more archaeological gems will be uncovered at Heracleion?

The very name of the city is taken from that most famous of Greek heroes, Heracles — aka Hercules — whose 12 labours, from killing the  Hydra to capturing Cerberus, the multi-headed hellhound that guarded the gates of the Underworld, captivated the ancient world.

Heraklion, Crete’s capital and largest city, is also named after Heracles, as was Herculaneum, the ancient Roman town that was buried under ash when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

It appears that Heracleion faded in importance in the later classical period, eclipsed by its neighbouring city of Alexandria, which became the capital of Egypt in 312BC.

Still, Heracleion lingered on, later under Roman control, until it slipped into its watery grave some time in the 6th or 7th century AD. What a thrilling discovery we have on our hands now that the sea has, 1,500 years later, giving up one of its greatest secrets.

Ancient rock carvings that escaped the wrath of ISIS discovered in Iraq

Ancient rock carvings that escaped the wrath of ISIS discovered in Iraq

After being attacked by ISIS, ancient carvings of an Assyrian king honoring the gods and surrounded by mythical beasts were safely uncovered in Iraq.

In 2014, ISIS captured Mosul city and archaeologists were forced to leave Faida’s archeological site, as the militant group was just 15 miles away. The ten rock reliefs were found in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and are believed to be the first of their kind discovered in 150 years.

In 2012, the site was surveyed by archeologists and it was not until late last year, with the self-proclaimed caliphate overthrown, that archaeologists were able to return and excavate the treasures left behind. 

Ancient carvings menaced by the advance of ISIS have finally been revealed after the terror group’s defeat, in the first discovery of its kind for more than 150 years
The ten rock reliefs depict Assyrian gods riding mythical creatures in procession with the king (pictured)

Ancient carvings menaced by the advance of ISIS have finally been revealed after the terror group’s defeat, in the first discovery of its kind for more than 150 years. Italian and Iraqi archaeologists uncovered the reliefs 12 miles (20km) south of the Kurdistani city of Duhok.  Expedition leader, Daniele Morandi Bonacossi of the University of Udine in Italy, said nothing like the carvings had been found since 1845. 

‘Assyrian rock reliefs are extremely rare,’ he said. 

‘There is no other Assyrian rock art complex that can be compared with this one, with the only exception being Khinis, in the north-eastern part of the region.’ ISIS, or Islamic State, was remorseless in destroying antiquities it felt were idolatrous, though it also looted artifacts to sell. At the height of its powers, its fighters were only 15 miles from the dig site.  But even now, with ISIS defeated, the rock carvings face fresh threats. 

‘The most serious threats are vandalism, illegal excavations and the activities of the nearby village that are literally besieging the site,’ said Professor Bonacossi. 

‘One of the reliefs was illegally excavated and thereby damaged in May 2019, and the owner of one farmstead has partly destroyed one of the reliefs in order to expand his cow stable.

‘The only way to protect the site is to fence it off and guarantee a constant security service controlling the area. 

‘The Duhok Governorate is committed to guaranteeing the protection of the reliefs.’ 

Archaeologists surveyed the site in 2012 and it was only late last year, with the self-proclaimed caliphate overthrown, that archaeologists were able to return and excavate the treasures left behind
The reliefs (pictured) once decorated the banks of the Faida irrigation canal, which was part of a vast network that brought water to the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. The canal was likely built during the reign of Sargon II
Among the deities depicted is Ashur, the main Assyrian god, his wife Mullissu, the moon god Sin and the sun-god Shamash. They are shown astride mythical beasts including dragons and horned lions (pictured)

The reliefs once decorated the banks of the Faida irrigation canal, which was part of a vast network that brought water to the Assyrian capital, Nineveh.   The canal was likely built during the reign of Sargon II, whose successor, Sennacherib, is believed to have incorporated it into the wider network.

Both kings are named in the Bible for their military exploits, with the former conquering the Kingdom of Israel. The figures on the panels are shown in profile, facing left, in the direction the water would have flowed.  Among the deities depicted is Ashur, the main Assyrian god, his wife Mullissu, the moon god Sin and the sun-god Shamash.  They are shown astride mythical beasts including dragons and horned lions. 

‘The reliefs tell us that the construction of this local irrigation system was celebrated by royal power through the carving of rock reliefs,’ said Professor Bonacossi. The excavation of impressive irrigation systems across the core region of the Assyrian empire changed the economic foundation of the regions involved.

‘It transformed them from extensive dry-farming regions into highly-productive irrigation agriculture areas. 

‘But it also profoundly modified the space and settlement patterns in the core of the Assyrian empire.’  

Professor Bonacossi believes the site could hold more secrets still. 

‘During the excavation of one relief, we found another which was not visible at the surface,’ he said. 

‘This means that probably many other reliefs are still to be found and that this rock art complex is larger than we expected. 

‘This explains why the Faida archaeological site is so important.’ 

Archaeologists surveyed the site in 2012 (pictured), following up on an earlier British excavation in 1973, but the project ground to a halt when ISIS captured the nearby city of Mosul in 2014

Ancient Persian Glassware Identified in Japan

A fragment of a glass bowl unearthed on Okinoshima island came from ancient Persia during the Sassanian dynasty

Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture — During the Sassanian dynasty (226-651), researchers confirmed that a fragment of a glass bowl discovered on Okinoshima Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site here, originated from ancient Persia.

The glass bowl fragment found on Okinoshima island.

Munakata Taisha shrine teamed up with experts and used X-ray imaging to analyze the artifact as well as small pebble-shaped “kirikodama” ornaments made of glass. They date to the late fifth century to the seventh century.

Okinoshima island, located off Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, is considered by the shrine to be so sacred that only males can visit and only if they engage in purification rituals before coming ashore.

The island has yielded a treasure trove of artifacts from ceremonies held there between the late fourth and ninth centuries that are believed to have been carried out during the time of the ancient Yamato kingdom.

To date, around 80,000 items unearthed are designated as national treasures.

The glass bowl fragment measures about 5.6 centimeters. It has a circular base and the surface of the bowl is scratched.

It bears the characteristics of cut glass produced during the Sassanian Empire that encompassed modern-day Iran and surrounding countries. Iraq has yielded similar examples of the glasswear.

Munakata Taisha shrine worked with a team headed by Izumi Nakai, professor emeritus of Tokyo University of Science who specializes in analytical chemistry, to examine the artifact and pebble-shaped ornaments.

As an expert in analyzing ancient glass products, Nakai subjected the materials to fluorescent X-ray analysis so as not to damage them.

The results showed that the ashes of plants were mixed with molten glass, a characteristic of Sassanian Persia glassware.

But the pebbles remain something of a mystery, as no similar examples have been found in Japan or elsewhere. However, it was assumed the ornaments were produced by reprocessing Sassanian Persia glassware.

Makiko Fukushima, the curator of Munakata Taisha Shinpokan museum, said: “We were able to gain very precious insight into where the unearthed items were created, the route used to bring them to Japan and the degree of influence of those involved in the ceremonies where such glassware was used.”

The Nampa Figurine: 2-million-year-old Relic or Just a Hoax?

The Nampa Figurine: 2-million-year-old Relic or Just a Hoax?

Nampa Statue or Nampa Figure is the figure discovered in Idaho in 1889 on the ground layers, that is believed two million years old.

This statue has given rise to theories on the origins of mankind. Some people say it’s just fake but this high class small human figure is a very interesting thing, which might have also the more natural explanation.

The theory of the two million years old human civilization may, of course, be possible, and here we must say that one statue would not make civilization.

The figure is found 300 feet deep, and it is 91 meters in the metric system. So the person or persons who dig that statue in the ground must spend very much time on that operation.

There is one special detail of that figure, and it seems to wear European clothes. Also, the figure seems hanged, but this might be only the imagination. There is claimed to have evil forces in this figure, what is the really mysterious artifact.

The Size of Nampa figure

But there is one very interesting explanation for this creature. This explanation is connected with the syndrome called “Savant autism”. This syndrome is causing the situation, that some people would have limits in the many skills, but in one special skill, this kind of person would be the best in the world. Some of those persons who are “savant autistic” are making extremely perfect things by using mud.

And those persons actually make those statues automatically. If that statue is made by some savant autistic, the family of that person would like to hide that thing, because those persons are sometimes faced with the violence, because they are different than others. That’s why this statue could be buried to the ground because the community wanted to hide the syndrome.

LwaLwa Statue

There are also many other theories about those strange creatures.  Of course, extraterrestrials and UFO:s might be the natural explanation. Sometimes I have thought that could behind those strange creatures be Cro-Magnon man, what was able to make the statue, but making the statue doesn’t mean, that they could write.

Or sometimes some persons have thought that maybe some slave has taken the special LwaLwa statue from Africa without permissions, and afraid the consequences.

The Nampa figure is quite small, and maybe it was specially made for some purpose.  Maybe this statue is bought by some slave, who would dig it in the ground because white men punished non-christian slaves.

And that statue was the religious symbol. Some stories are told that this statue was carried by escaped slaves sometimes on the 18th. or 19th. century. But why this slave would use all that time for digging this statue so deep.

The process would take a very long time, and if this person would get help from other people, should there be some reason for that trouble.

Then this person digs that statue in the ground because that person didn’t want that it would get into the hands of the slave keepers. But those are only theories.

A Canadian archaeologist walking her dog finds a 9,000-year-old artifact on Thompson River

A Canadian archaeologist walking her dog finds a 9,000-year-old artifact on Thompson River

An archaeologist from Kamloops came through a piece of history dating from 9,000 to 6,000 years while she was out with her dog for a walk.

Heritage director Joanne Hammond, and assistant CEO of Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corp., spotted the spearhead this weekend as she walked along the Thompson River.

“Wherever it’s not developed & there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to find something,” Hammond says.

Joanne Hammond found a spearhead this past weekend as she was walking along the Thompson River on the Kamloops north shore thanks to the low water levels. It could be up to 9,000 years old.

She says the term ‘site’ can mean anything from a single artifact to an entire village.

Currently, Hammond is in a Process of registering it as an archeological site near the northern shore of Kamloops, which would grant it recognition and protection by the government. The Department of Forestry and Agriculture, Natural Resources Activities, Rural Development shall send photos, planning sites and a Report to the Ministry of Archaeology.

She considered a spearhead in the Kamloops region among the oldest. She says previous studies and radiocarbon dating have helped research teams to consider how long the points were used, and says even the shape hints to when and how it was used.

“That’s a really distinctive style. In general, the bigger and more robust points tend to be older,” Hammond says. “The most recent style of a point is specific to Kamloops is called the Kamloops points and it’s this very small triangle points with notches at the sides, they’re very distinctive.”

She says the older, rounder spearhead was used before atlatls were invented to throw spears further and faster. That means the hunter who used this spearhead would have most likely worked with others to take down large game such as elk, deer, and sheep.

“It would’ve been a pretty risky thing to do by yourself, so most of the hunting was done communally,” she says.

Hammond says nearly every year, she finds one or two artifacts while out and about. With 265 designated sites within 10 kilometers of the downtown area, Kamloops is second only to Victoria for the number of sites within close proximity to the city.

“(Kamloops) was always a pretty important hub. It was a pretty dense residential area in pre-contact times, and a trading hub and a travel corridor, so it does have a higher number of archeological sites than other areas,” Hammond says. “It’s a good example of when things like this come up to be reminded of the depth and intensity of the cultures that were here before them.”

“Just because we pave over it, doesn’t mean it disappears,” she says.

There are 165 sites within city limits, 200 sites on the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc land, and 175 sites located in what is known as the Secwepemc Cradle between Kamloops and Chase.

Registering the sites can help officials to monitor historical areas, but any artifacts found – even if not on a designated site – are still protected by law, according to Hammond. She recommends reporting a found artifact the Secwepemc Museum.

“There are a lot of circumstances where people are concerned that someone else is going to nick it if they do leave it there, and that is legitimate… we recommend that people leave it. You can hide it under something, pretty much a few leaves are going to do the trick.”

Hammond says removing an artifact such as a spearhead can disrupt archeological research in the area.

“The majority of the value of the artifact is in its context, its location and the things it’s associated with,” Hammond says. “As soon as you remove it, that context is lost and so most of the information we can learn from a site is lost, and all you have left is a collectible… So we really, strongly encourage people to leave it there.”

A Mysterious 25,000-Year-Old Structure Built of the Bones of 60 Mammoths

A Mysterious 25,000-Year-Old Structure Built of the Bones of 60 Mammoths

Mysterious bone circles consisting of hundreds of mammoths bones helped scientists understand how people survived the last ice age. According to a new analysis, the bones at one location in Russia were more than 20,000 years old.

25,000-year-old mammoth bone structure, Kostenki, Russia: 12.5 meters in diameter

The wall of the 30 ft building was constructed using a combination of 51 lower jaws and 64 individual mammoth skulls. There were also a small number of reindeers, goats, rabbits, dogs, red foxes, and arctic fox bones.

Researchers said the bones were most likely sourced from animal graveyards.

In the site, which is situated near the current village of Kostenki, some 500 km south of Moscow, an archeologist from Exeter University discovered remains of charred wood and other soft non-woody plants.

It indicates that people used to burn wood as well as bones for fuel, and the communities who lived there had learned where to forage for edible plants during the Ice Age.

Dr. Alexander Pryor, who led the study, said: “Kostenki 11 represents a rare example of Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers living on in this harsh environment.

“What might have brought ancient hunter-gatherers to this site?

“One possibility is that the mammoths and humans could have come to the area en masse because it had a natural spring that would have provided unfrozen liquid water throughout the winter – rare in this period of extreme cold.

“These finds shed new light on the purpose of these mysterious sites.

“Archaeology is showing us more about how our ancestors survived in this desperately cold and hostile environment at the climax of the last Ice Age.

“Most other places at similar latitudes in Europe had been abandoned by this time, but these groups had managed to adapt to find food, shelter, and water.”

The last Ice Age swept northern Europe between 75-18,000 years ago and reached its coldest and most severe state around 23-18,000 years ago.

Most communities fled the region, likely due to a lack of prey to hunt and scarce plant resources they depended upon for survival, the scientists said.

The bone circles, of which more than 70 are known to exist in Ukraine and the west Russian planes, were eventually abandoned as the climate grew colder and more inhospitable.

Archaeologists previously assumed the circular mammoth bone structures were used as dwellings, but the new study, published in the journal Antiquity, suggests this may not always have been the case.

Prehistoric ‘Mantis Man’ Petroglyph Discovered In Iran

Prehistoric ‘Mantis Man’ Petroglyph Discovered In Iran

A rare rock carving found in Central Iran’s Teymareh rock art site (Khomein county) in Central Iran with six limbs has been described as part man, part mantis.

Invertebrate animals ‘ rock carvings, or petroglyphs, are rare, and entomologists have teamed up with archeologists to try and identify the motif. 

We associated the carvings with others around the world and with the local six-legged creatures which its prehistoric artists could have encountered.

Entomologists Mahmood Kolnegari, Islamic Azad University of Arak, Iran; Mandana Hazrati, Avaye Dornaye Khakestari Institute, Iran; and Matan Shelomi, National Taiwan University teamed up with a freelance archaeologist and rock art expert Mohammad Naserifard and describe the petroglyph in a new paper published in the open-access Journal of Orthoptera Research. 

The 14-centimeter carving was first spotted during surveys between 2017 and 2018, but could not be identified due to its unusual shape.

The Teymareh rock art site in central Iran (Markazi Province, Iran), where the petroglyph was found

The six limbs suggest an insect, while the triangular head with big eyes and the grasping forearms are unmistakably those of a praying mantid, a predatory insect that hunts and captures prey like flies, bees and even small birds.

An extension on its head even helps narrow the identification to a particular genus of mantids in this region: Empusa.

Even more mysterious are the middle limbs, which end in loops or circles. The closest parallel to this in archaeology is the ‘Squatter Man,’ a petroglyph figure found around the world depicting a person flanked by circles.

While they could represent a person holding circular objects, an alternative hypothesis is that the circles represent auroras caused by atmospheric plasma discharges.

It is presently impossible to tell exactly how old the petroglyphs are because sanctions on Iran prohibit the use of radioactive materials needed for radiocarbon dating. However, experts Jan Brouwer and Gus van Veen examined the Teymareh site and estimated the carvings were made 40,000–4,000 years ago. 

One can only guess why prehistoric people felt the need to carve a mantis-man into rock, but the petroglyph suggests humans have linked mantids to the supernatural since ancient times.

As stated by the authors, the carving bears witness, “that in prehistory, almost as today, praying mantids were animals of mysticism and appreciation.”

Sarkubeh village (Markazi province, Iran) is the closes to the studied site human habitation

Graves of Ottoman Soldiers Unearthed Near Istanbul

Remains of Ottoman soldiers unearthed after 108 years

The corpses of 30 Ottoman soldiers are discovered in Istanbul’s neighborhood. Rahmi Asal of the Istanbul Archeology Museums Department said the men had served in the Balkan War’s 86th Ottoman Army Battalion.

A mass grave belonging to soldiers who died while serving in the Ottoman Army’s 86th Regiment in what is today an Istanbul suburban district during the Balkan War has been unearthed.

Thirty soldiers ‘ graves were discovered in Çatalca during excavations carried out prior to the “Martyrdom Museum” project proposed by the Istanbul Archeology Museums Directorate.

The names of five of the Ottoman seals on the soldiers who were buried with their clothes were identified.

Museum director Rahmi Asal said dead soldiers were hidden in their belts with spoons and pouches. The remaining items from the soldiers were classified by the museum directorate.

These findings include officer seals with many uniform buttons and belts, belt buckles, one compass, many tobacco layers and cigarette holders, bayonets, many mirrors, and two rings.

Some names were also reached from the seals that came out of five of the soldiers determined to be the officers of the 86th Regiment from their collar numbers.

Mehmet Nuri, Necmettin and Osman Binveli, three of the dead soldiers, are believed to have been officers in their division.

The two killed soldiers buried a little away from others were Daniel and Avedis, non-Muslim Ottoman officers who fought against Bulgarian soldiers.

In the Balkan War in 1912, the Ottoman state entered the war against the revolting states of Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and Montenegro.

As the invaders advanced to Çatalca, soldiers from all over the country started fighting to stop them. The soldiers who set out from the southern province of Antalya’s Alanya district also walked on the roads for days and joined the troops on the front.

Alaiye (Alanya) Reserved Battalion, consisting of Alanians from the 86th Regiment, repelled the enemy and began to rest by deploying in positions around Dağyenice village.

Bulgarian soldiers infiltrating the positions attacked the Alaiye Battalion and slaughtered 657 Ottoman soldiers overnight. After this painful incident that occurred on the night of November 17, 1912, this hill started to be known as “Alaiye Martyrdom.”

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