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Thu, 28 Oct 2021
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Last meal of man mummified in a bog reconstructed after 2400 years

© A. Mikkelsen
The well-preserved head of Tollund Man
An ancient man ate a simple meal of cooked cereals and fish before being hanged and dumped in a bog 2400 years ago.

Tollund Man was roughly 40 years old when he died in what is now Denmark. He was probably offered as a human sacrifice, and the peat bog he was buried in mummified his body in extraordinary detail. Dozens of other Iron Age Europeans were sacrificed in the same way, and they are collectively referred to as "bog bodies".

Danish scientists first analysed Tollund Man's intestinal contents shortly after his body was discovered in 1950. They found 20 plant species and one species of parasite.

Comment: Tollund man's last meal is notable because evidence spanning many thousands of years show that a diet high in animal fat and protein was the preferred fuel by peoples across the planet; one wonders how his diet and last meal were influenced by location, status, the era, as well as the fact he was apparently offered as a human sacrifice:


Ancient Roman road & dock discovered in Venice lagoon, region inhabited earlier than thought, when sea levels were 2 metres lower

© A Calandriello and G D'Acunto/SWNSAngela Giuffrida
A digital reconstruction of the Roman road submerged in the Venice lagoon, which seems to have been part of a road system in the Veneto region.
The discovery of the remains of a Roman road and dock submerged in the Venice lagoon could prove there were permanent human settlements in the area centuries before Venice was founded, researchers say.

Scuba divers discovered what appeared to be paving stones beneath the lagoon in the 1980s, but only after more recent research were the relics confirmed to have formed part of a road system.

"After speaking to those who first found these stones in the 1980s, I understood that it was something significant that could be anthropic," said Fantina Madricardo, a researcher at the Venice-based Institute of Marine Science (Ismar) whose study was published this week in the Scientific Reports journal.

Comment: Earlier settlements than previous thought have been recently discovered in Pompeii in Italy, and Britain: See also: And check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Who was Jesus? Examining the evidence that Christ may in fact have been Caesar!

Blue Planet

Crannogs: Scotland's mysterious ancient artificial islands

© Max Blinkhorn/Alamy
While no one is sure exactly why these ingenious islets were constructed, they provide a unique window on human life all the way back to Neolithic times in Britain.
It was simple curiosity that prompted retired Royal Navy diver Chris Murray a decade ago to plunge into the icy waters around a mysterious islet in a small loch on his home island of Lewis in the Scottish Hebrides. But when the extraordinarily well-preserved pottery he found in the islet's silty surround was radiocarbon dated to 3600 BC, it pushed our awareness of civilisation on the British Isles back to a time before both Stonehenge and the first pyramids in Egypt.

The piece of land poking out of the Hebridean loch is an example of a remarkable form of a man-made island known as a crannog, which were created in multitudes via an inspiring blend of ingenuity and effort. Nearly 600 of these artificial islands have so far been recorded across mainland Scotland and its islands, built big enough to support large communal roundhouses or clusters of smaller dwellings, and linked by slender causeways or piers to the shorelines of myriad lochs in often stunning locations of wild beauty.

Comment: For more on Crannogs: Crannogs: Neolithic artificial islands in Scotland stump archeologists

Further clues may be found in the construction at England's Must Farm: "Catastrophic" fire destroyed incredible British Bronze Age settlement a year after it was built

See also: Also check out SOTT radio's:


Cuneiform inscription from last king of Babylon discovered in Saudi Arabia

Ancient inscription
© Saudi Press Agency
The top of the inscription from the last king of Babylon shows engravings showing Nabonidus and four symbols.
A 2,550-year-old inscription, written in the name of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, has been discovered carved on basalt stone in northern Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage recently announced.

An engraving at the top of the inscription shows King Nabonidus holding a scepter alongside four other images that include a snake, a flower and a depiction of the moon, the commission said in a statement, noting that these symbols likely have a religious meaning.

These engravings are followed beneath by about 26 lines of cuneiform text that experts with the commission are currently deciphering. This is the longest cuneiform inscription ever found in Saudi Arabia, the commission said in the statement.

The inscription was found in Al Hait in the Hail region of northern Saudi Arabia. Known as Fadak in ancient times, Al Hait holds numerous ancient sites, including the remains of fortresses, rock art and water installations, the commission said. "[It] has great historical significance from the first millennium [B.C.] until the early Islamic era."


Sarcophagus from Visigoth period discovered in Roman necropolis

© University of Murcia
Archaeologists from the University of Murcia, financed by the Mula municipal council, the Cajamurcia Foundation, and supported by CEPOAT have excavated a sarcophagus at the site of the Roman necropolis at Los Villaricos, located 5km East of the city of Mula, in Murcia, Spain.

The discovery was made during the summer season of excavations among the ruins of a previously excavated Roman villa, which was abandoned around the 5th century AD.

During the Roman period, Los Villaricos was a large-scale agricultural site, focusing on the production and storage of olive oil. In later years, elements of the villa was repurposed for Christian worship, whilst the villa's central patio area was used as a necropolis, referred to as the ' necropolis ad sanctos '.

Comment: See also: Also check out SOTT radio's:

Blue Planet

500-year-old skulls with facial modification unearthed in Gabon

skull modification
© C. Gerin and P. Mora /Antiquity Publications Ltd
A skull (a) and photogrammetry of a skull (b) showing how the individuals had their upper incisors removed.
Men and women living in West Central Africa 500 years ago dramatically changed their looks by removing their front teeth, ancient skulls reveal. Archaeologists found the centuries-old altered skulls deep underground in a cave that could be reached only by rope, through a hole in the cavern's roof.

The harrowing vertical drop of 82 feet (25 meters) led to thousands of bones from at least 24 adults (men and women age 15 or older) and four children that were deposited there on at least two occasions, researchers reported in a new study. Hundreds of metal artifacts — jewelry, weapons and hoes, made of local iron and imported copper — lay near the remains, hinting at the wealth and status of the people who were buried there.

Comment: Mary Settegast in her book Plato Prehistorian provides some more details on this practice:
The Iberomau­rusians not only lacked the Magdalenian artistic genius, at least in imperishable materials, but the two cultures fundamentally diverged in burial customs and initiation procedures. Hundreds of Iberomaurusian dead have been recovered from large ceme­teries in North African caves, as opposed to the scarce and usually isolated Magdalenian burials, and all Iberomaurusian crania show evidence of tooth avulsion in puberty (in this case the removal of the two upper central incisors and occasionally the two lower ones as well), presumably an adolescent initia­tion practice for which there are no parallels in Europe.

And yet the spatial and temporal boundaries of these North Africans do match up almost as well as the Magdalenians with the stated dimensions of Atlantic control. One wonders, there­fore, if the marked cultural differences on either side of the Straits might indicate the presence of more than one Atlantic hand in Mediterranean affairs. In the Critias, the ten orig­inal kings and their descendants are said to have governed formany generations "their own territories and many other islands in the ocean and, as has already been said, also controlled the populations this side of the straits as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia." If this passage is taken to mean that more than one of the Atlantic kings controlled populations inside the Straits, we would expect any differences between these rulers to have extended to their colonies.

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Oink Vey! Evidence ancient Israelites ate pork revealed by pig skeleton in First Temple-period Jerusalem

jew israel pork pig
© Oscar Bejerano, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Pig skeleton wedged between crushed pottery vessels, at a First Temple-period site in Jerusalem
Remains of piglet from 2,700 years ago support the theory that ancient Israelites occasionally did eat pork, and the biblical taboo on this animal was only first observed in Second Temple era, Israeli archaeologists say

Israeli archaeologists have unearthed the complete skeleton of a piglet in a place and time where you wouldn't expect to find pork remains: a Jerusalem home dating to the First Temple period.

The 2,700-year-old porcine remains were found crushed by large pottery vessels and a collapsed wall during excavations in the so-called City of David, the original nucleus of ancient Jerusalem.

Comment: It would appear that the religion we've come to know today looked a lot different in the past: Also check out SOTT radio's:

Microscope 1

First genetic evidence from medieval plague victims suggests Black Death reached Southern Italy

italy medieval map
Graves containing the remains of two men (aged between 30 and 45 years) are the first evidence of Yersinia pestis infection, the bacteria responsible for plague, in 14th-century Southern Italy, according to new research being presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).

"The retrieval of plague ancient DNA from the teeth of two adults buried at the Abbey of San Leonardo in Siponto is a discovery of national importance, as it is the first related to the second plague pandemic (Black Death) in Southern Italy", says Dr Donato Raele from the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Puglia and Basilicata in Foggia, who led the research.

Comment: See also:


Archaeologists suggest rock-cut cave was home of exiled Anglo-Saxon King

Cave of a King
© colejizzle – Shutterstock
A near-complete Anglo-Saxon dwelling and oratory, believed to date from the early 9th century, has been discovered in Derbyshire by archaeologists from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and Wessex Archaeology.

Archaeologists from the RAU's newly-formed Cultural Heritage Institute, working with colleagues from Wessex Archaeology, undertook a detailed survey of the grade II listed Anchor Church Caves between Foremark and Ingleby in South Derbyshire.

The caves, which were cut out of the soft sandstone rock, have long been considered to be 18th century 'follies', but this new study, published in the Proceedings of the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society, demonstrates that these caves are more likely to be early Medieval in date.

Edmund Simons, principal investigator of the project and a research fellow at the RAU, said: "Our findings demonstrate that this odd little rock-cut building in Derbyshire is more likely from the 9th century than from the 18th century as everyone had originally thought.

"This makes it probably the oldest intact domestic interior in the UK - with doors, floor, roof, windows etc - and, what's more, it may well have been lived in by a king who became a saint!

"Using detailed measurements, a drone survey, and a study of architectural details, it was possible to reconstruct the original plan of three rooms and easterly facing oratory, or chapel, with three apses."


Oldest known cosmetics found in ceramic bottles on Balkan Peninsula

cosmetic archaeology
© Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
A trio of researchers from Slovenia's Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia at the Centre for Preventive Archaeology and Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, in Germany, has found evidence of the oldest known use of cosmetics at a dig site in the Balkans. In their paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Bine Kramberger, Christoph Berthold and Cynthianne Spiteri describe the ceramic bottles that held the cosmetics and what they found inside them.

Comment: For more of the 'world's oldest' records, check out: