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Scandinavia's oldest ship burial 'rewrites history'

© Hanne Bryn, NTNU Science Museum
In Leka, a municipality in Norway's Trøndelag county, archaeologists have uncovered Scandinavia's oldest identified ship burial, dating back to around 700 AD.

This summer, archaeologists carried out a small survey of the 60-meter mound Herlaugshaugen, a site mentioned in Snorre's royal sagas as the final resting place of King Herlaug.

Herlaugshaugen is one of the country's largest burial mounds. In the late 1700s, it was excavated three times. According to reports, findings included a type of wall, iron nails, a bronze kettle, animal bones, and a seated skeleton with a sword.

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Mummified baboons point to the potential location of the fabled land of Punt

Punt ancient egypt trade expedition papyrus drawing
© Nastasic
Drawing of a trade expedition to Punt during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut. Note the presence of baboons on board the lower ship.
Egyptians often mentioned a trading partner but neglected to say where it was.

One of the most enduring mysteries within archaeology revolves around the identity of Punt, an otherworldly "land of plenty" revered by the ancient Egyptians. Punt had it all — fragrant myrrh and frankincense, precious electrum (a mixed alloy of gold and silver) and malachite, and coveted leopard skins, among other exotic luxury goods.

Despite being a trading partner for over a millennium, the ancient Egyptians never disclosed Punt's exact whereabouts except for vague descriptions of voyages along what's now the Red Sea. That could mean anywhere from southern Sudan to Somalia and even Yemen.

Now, according to a recent paper published in the journal eLife, Punt may have been the same as another legendary port city in modern-day Eritrea, known as Adulis by the Romans. The conclusion comes from a genetic analysis of a baboon that was mummified during ancient Egypt's Late Period (around 800 and 500 BCE). The genetics indicate the animal originated close to where Adulis would be known to come into existence centuries later.


Wyoming couple finds forest of gigantic 60 million-year-old petrified trees

A couple from Buffalo found a gigantic 35-foot section of a petrified tree which is part of a buried 60-million-year-old prehistoric forest of metasequoia, a type of redwood that thrived in Wyoming and could grow as tall as 160 feet.
Petrified tree
© Photos Courtesy Jeanne Peterson
A Buffalo, Wyoming, couple found this giant 35-foot section of a 60 million-year-old petrified tree on their property.
Jeanne Peterson and her husband, Robert Suchor, weren't expecting any tree problems when they started building an RV park outside Buffalo, Wyoming. There were no trees on the property — or so they thought.

Turns out there were some huge trees, they just weren't growing up from the ground. The couple instead found a 60 million-year-old petrified forest of some of the most giant trees that ever lived in Wyoming.

When they started building their home, Peterson and her husband found pieces of petrified wood and roots on the property, but nothing large enough to cause concern. But as they dug further, they found a forest.

"We started to find trees sticking out of the side of the hill," she told Cowboy State Daily. "Multiple trees. There's petrified wood everywhere around us."

When large earth movers were brought in to excavate infrastructure for an RV campground, Peterson had a hunch they would find something much larger. It was branching out at their feet.

"On the surface, we could see branches, which is just crazy. You could see where it branched out on both sides," she said.

Now, a 35-foot-long section of a prehistoric tree has been exposed, its trunk well over a foot in diameter. Another section of indeterminate length is still buried.

The tree is fully fossilized, but the texture of its bark is clearly visible. It's an artifact from a prehistoric age when Wyoming was warmer, wetter and covered with towering trees like these.

Blue Planet

Archaeological skull fragments from Crimea reveal early modern humans came from the East

crimea human
© Nature Ecology & Evolution (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-023-02211-9
Nature Ecology & Evolution (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-023-02211-9"> Nature Ecology & Evolution (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-023-02211-9"> Genomic affinities between Buran-Kaya III and other ancient individuals.
How did our species, Homo sapiens, arrive in Western Europe? Published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, our new study analyzes two skull fragments dating back between 37,000 and 36,000 years to conclude that our ancestors came from Eastern Europe and migrated westwards. These two individuals interbred with Neanderthals and with the very first European Homo sapiens, who arrived around 45,000 years ago and were thought to have become extinct following a major climatic catastrophe.

Together with lithic tools and pierced mammoth ivory beads, small skull fragments of the two skulls found in 2009 at an archaeological site in the Crimea, Buran Kaya III, bear witness to the presence of anatomically modern humans in Eastern Europe. Working with French and Ukrainian archaeologists, we were able to put in place a sampling protocol that took special precautions to prevent the fragments from being contaminated by modern human DNA and identify their ancient DNA.

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Eye 1

Neil Oliver: 'Remember'

Neil Oliver

Neil Oliver
'...war, control, money & death...'


Moroccan archaeologists unearth new ruins at Chellah, a tourism-friendly ancient port near Rabat

chellah ancient morroco port rabat
© AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy
The site of recently unearthed archaeological ruins, in Chellah necropolis, Rabat, Morocco, Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. Archaeologists have unearthed more ruins of what they believe was once a bustling port city near the capital of modern-day Morocco, digging out thermal baths and working class neighborhoods
Archaeologists have unearthed more ancient ruins of what they believe was once a bustling port city near the capital of modern-day Morocco, digging out thermal baths and working class neighborhoods that the country hopes will lure tourists and scholars in the years ahead.

On Friday, researchers from Morocco's National Institute of Archaeological Sciences and Heritage presented new discoveries made this year at Chellah — a 1.2-square-mile (3.15-square-kilometer) UNESCO World Heritage Site with a footprint almost five times the size of Pompeii.

Scholars believe the area was first settled by the Phoenicians and emerged as a key Roman empire outpost from the second to fifth century. The fortified necropolis and surrounding settlements were built near the Atlantic Ocean along the banks of the Bou Regreg river. Findings have included bricks inscribed in neo-Punic, a language that predates the Romans' arrival in Morocco.

Blue Planet

Gunung Padang: Giant pyramid buried in Indonesia could be oldest in the world, initial construction began 27,000 years ago

Gunung Padang
© RaiyaniM/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0
Gunung Padang.
A giant underground pyramid hidden beneath a hillside in Indonesia far outdates Stonehenge or the Giza Pyramids and may come to rival the oldest megalithic structures ever built by human hands.

Remember the name Gunung Padang.

The exceptional hillside of ancient stone structures on the island of West Java is sacred to locals, who call this kind of structure a 'punden berundak', meaning stepped pyramid, for the terraces that lead to its peak.

Archaeologists have barely brushed the surface of the site, and yet it is already shaping up to be a "remarkable testament" to human ingenuity.

Comment: Graham Hancock features Gunung Padang in his recent documentary series, Ancient Apocalypse.

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Blue Planet

Sacrificial pits filled with 120 horse skeletons found in Bronze Age city in China

china bronze age
© Kai Bai; Antiquity Publications Ltd
One of the six sacrificial horse pits unearthed at Yaoheyuan in northwestern China. The walled city likely served as a political and cultural hub in Bronze Age China.
Archaeologists in China have discovered the remains of a walled Bronze Age city that once contained a palace, moat, cemeteries, sacrificial pits, pottery workshops and a bronze-casting foundry.

The ancient city, known as Yaoheyuan, was situated in the foothills of the Liupan Mountains in northwestern China. It was once a political and cultural powerhouse that was prominent during the Western Zhou Period, a historical time in Chinese history that stretched from 1045 B.C. to 771 B.C. during the Zhou dynasty, according to a study published Aug. 3 in the journal Antiquity.

Although there are other Bronze Age sites dotting this part of the country, archaeologists consider Yaoheyuan the likely regional hub at this time based on the breadth and variety of structures unearthed during excavations.

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Hundreds of lost Roman forts revealed by spy satellite imagery, challenging history's view on ancient frontiers

roman forts discovered by spy satellites

Images of Roman forts recorded by spy satellites.
In a fusion of modern espionage technology and ancient world secrets, archaeologists have uncovered hundreds of previously unknown Roman forts using imagery first captured by Cold War-era spy satellites.

Examining declassified spy satellite imagery collected from the 1960s to late 1980s, a team of archaeologists from Dartmouth College say they identified 396 lost ancient Roman fortresses across the landscapes of present-day Syria and Iraq.

Experts say the findings, published in the journal Antiquity, upend long-standing beliefs about the Roman Empire's eastern frontiers and the relationship between the Western and Eastern culture during antiquity.


The Art of the Cold War: How the CIA employed its 'wonder culture weapon' to fight the USSR

cia cold war
© RT
During the Cold War, the CIA heavily promoted one of US' most popular modern artists, in a covert propaganda campaign designed to tarnish the image of the Soviet Union. Did the subterfuge succeed?

When reflecting upon the Cold War (1947-1989), most people entertain images of missiles, soldiers and tanks taking up positions on either side of the Iron Curtain, not armies of bohemian artists splashing paint against canvases in an outburst of creativity. Yet that is what was happening during this ideological showdown as the US government began weaponizing the world of art in its battle against communism, which was looking increasingly attractive to Westerners disillusioned with the shortcomings of capitalism.

Until the end of World War II, the United States was considered something of a cultural backwater as far as artistic superpowers go. Yes, the capitalist powerhouse might be able to create Disneyland, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola, the critics sneered, but never anything of lasting cultural value. And in the off chance that something worthy of praise did appear in America's galleries and art exhibitions, it was most likely the handiwork of the Europeans. After the war, however, the critics toned down their rhetoric as the cultural scales began to tip in America's favor. Europe lay in ruins, while Paris, once the epicenter of the Western art scene, had become largely devoid of its best artists and writers, many of whom had fled abroad to escape the horrors of Nazi Germany. This momentous migration thrust New York City into the cultural limelight almost overnight.