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Family didn't really matter 9,000 years ago

London, July 4: If recent findings from one of the world's best-preserved Stone Age settlements are anything to go by, then perhaps biological kinship need not have had much significance in early prehistoric societies.

In Turkey's Catalhoyuk, at least, it seems that people did not live in families. Instead, the society seems to have been organized completely differently.

Many buildings in Catalhoyuk were built so close together that people had to get in through the roof.

Its residents farmed crops and domesticated animals, and tried their hands in painting and sculpture.

Bizarro Earth

Ossuary Yields New Detail of Gospel Story

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© Unknown
Background comes to light on the family of the high priest who pursued Jesus

The bone box itself was plundered from a Second Temple-era grave by looters. But when archaeologists finally got their hands on it some 2,000 years later, they guessed its inscription could possibly shed light on one of the major figures surrounding the death of Jesus.

They were right.

"It is remarkable and exciting," Boaz Zissu, a senior lecturer in the Department of Land of Israel and Archaeology Studies at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, told The Media Line.

Zissu and his colleague Yuval Goren, of Tel Aviv University, discovered that the ossuary, or small stone chest that Jews used at the time to store bones, belonged to a woman belonging to the family of Caiaphas, the high priest who the Gospels say sent Jesus to the Romans to be crucified.

While Christians may find an archeological remnant of the Gospel story to be intriguing, Zissu and Goren are more focused on the rest of the inscription, which for the first time revealed that Caiaphas was a member of the priestly division called Ma'aziahu and was probably born in the hills south of Bethlehem.

Pharoah

Two new monuments uncovered at Karnak Temple

An ancient Egyptian wall that once enclosed the Petah temple has been found at the Karnak Temple complex in Luxor

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© Unknown
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© Unknown
This week, during their routine excavation work, the French-Egyptian archaeological team working at the Karnak Temple in Luxor uncovered two major monuments. The first is the wall that once enclosed the New Kingdom temple of the god Petah and the second is a gate dated back to the reign of 25th dynasty King Shabaka (712-698 BC).

Christophe Tiers, director of the Karnak French mission, said that the mission has also unearthed a number of engraved blocks from the Petah temple. During the restoration process, archaeologists realised that the blocks date to the reign of King Tuthmosis III (1479-1425 BC) which means that the construction of the temple started under Egyptian rule and not during the Ptolemaic dynasty as was previously thought.

Cow Skull

Archaeology: 7500-year-old skeleton found in northeastern Bulgaria

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© Nadezhda Chipeva
Bulgarian archaeologists have found the remains of what seems to be a 7500-year-old prehistoric skeleton in the region of Koriyata, near the town of Suvorovo in northeast Bulgaria, Focus news agency reported on June 27 2011.

The skeleton was found during excavations of an ancient village dated from fifth century BC.

Historian from Varna university and leader of the expedition in the region Koriyata, Vladimir Slavchev, described the discovery as "an unusual finding" because complete prehistoric skeletons were very rarely preserved.

Attention

'Billions Worth' of Treasure Found in Indian Temple

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© Agence France-Presse
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy
A treasure trove of gold and silver jewelry, coins and precious stones said to be worth billions of dollars has been found in a Hindu temple in southern India, officials said on Saturday.

The valuables have an estimated preliminary worth of over 500 billion rupees ($11.2 billion), said Kerala Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar, catapulting the temple into the league of India's richest temples.

The thousands of necklaces, coins and precious stones have been kept in at least five underground vaults at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple which is renowned for its intricate sculptures.

"We are yet to open one more secret chamber which has not been opened for nearly 140 years," Jayakumar told AFP.

The actual value of the treasure haul can be ascertained only after it is examined by the archaeological department, said Jayakumar.

The temple, dedicated to Hindu lord Vishnu, was built hundreds of years ago by the king of Travancore and donations by devotees have been kept in the temple's vaults since.

Sherlock

Oneota Native American Home Discovered by University of Wisconsin Students

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© Cahokia Mounds Museum Society/Art Grossman
An artist's rendering of the Cahokia Mounds in 1150 A.D.

The recent discovery of the remains of an Oneota long house has led to the documentation of nearly 7,000 artifacts by a University of Wisconsin-La Cross (UW-L) archaeology class.

According to an article on LaCrossTribune.com, similar houses were discovered in the same area in 1987 and 1992 during a road construction project. The most recent find - discovered in a remote field near Highway 53 in Holmen, Wisconsin - is thought to be more than 500 years old.

The class is taught by UW-L associate professor David Anderson, who told the Tribune that the remnants from the site haven't been examined yet, but they should help add to the understanding of what life was like for the Oneota people before European influence.

According to the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center, the Oneota people were the first farmers in what is now Wisconsin, but a report from the University of Iowa says many questions remain about this culture, including the origin of the Oneota.

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© Peter ThomsonUniversity of Wisconsin-La Crosse Archeology Field
School student Christina Young takes measurements where the remains of a Native American settlement dating back to 1350 was discovered in Holmen, Wisconsin.

Sherlock

Germany: Archaeologists Puzzle Over Opulent Prehistoric Burial Find

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© Ben Behnke/ DER SPIEGEL
It is known that merchants brought salt and amber through the region at the time. The trade in bronze, a new luxury material, also flourished. Küssner estimates that the "prince" and his guards kept watch over a "radius of 80 kilometers," extorted duties and fees from long-distance traders, and profited exorbitantly as a result. He believes that chieftain's gang of extortionists provided the hatchet blades in the valuable cache as a sign of their loyalty.
When archeologists recently excavated a 3,800-year-old palace near the eastern German city of Weimar, they discovered about 100 valuable weapons buried next to a massive structure. Now they are puzzling over how an ancient chieftain buried nearby became so rich.

In 1877, when archeology was still in its infancy, art professor Friedrich Klopfleisch climbed an almost nine-meter (20-foot) mound of earth in Leubingen, a district in the eastern German state of Thuringia lying near a range of hills in eastern Germany known as the Kyffhäuser. He was there to "kettle" the hill, which entailed having workers dig a hole from the top of the burial mound into the burial chamber below.

When they finally arrived at the burial chamber, everything lay untouched: There were the remains of a man, shiny gold cloak pins, precious tools, a dagger, a pot for food or drink near the man's feet, and the skeleton of a child lying across his lap.

The "prince" of Leubingen was clearly a member of the elite. Farmers who had little to eat themselves had piled up at least 3,000 cubic meters (106,000 cubic feet) of earth to fashion the burial mound. They had also built a tent-shaped vault out of oak beams and covered it with a mound of stones, as if he had been a pharaoh.

For years, scholars have puzzled over the source of the prince's power. But Thuringia's state office of historical preservation has now come a step closer to solving the mystery. Agency archeologists used heavy machinery to excavate 25 hectares (62 acres) of ground in the mound's immediate surroundings, exposing a buried infrastructure. They discovered the remains of one of the largest buildings in prehistoric Germany, with 470 square meters (5,057 square feet) of floor space; a treasure trove of bronze objects; and a cemetery in which 44 farmers were buried in simple, unadorned graves.

Crusader

New Leonardo Da Vinci Painting To Be Made Public

A lost work by Leonardo da Vinci has been found in a private American collection. The painting Salvator Mundi, (below) which shows Christ raising his hand in blessing, will be unveiled a the National Gallery in London later this year.

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© Leonardo da Vinci
Salvator Mundi has been authenticated by experts as the missing Leonardo painting once owned by Charles I and Charles II. The painting was known to exist due to documentation and a 1750's engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar. The last important Leonardo discovery was a hundred years ago.

The painting is devotional image of oil on wood panel that is comparable in size to Leonardo's St. John the Baptist. The restoration process began with the hope that the painting might be by Leonardo, and the restorers were proved right.

The owners of the painting are a consortium of dealers, including Robert Simon, and the work is speculated to be worth around $200 million.

Magnify

UK: Archaeological Dig Uncovers Artifacts

Scientific equipment belonging to an Enlightenment figure has been found in an archaeological dig at the University.

The eighteenth-century items, including laboratory apparatus and brightly coloured chemicals, almost certainly were the property of Joseph Black.

Black was Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh and is best known for his discovery of carbon dioxide gas.


Included in the finds are samples of mercury, arsenic and cobalt.

These were discovered together with glass tubes and other vessels, bottle stoppers, thermometers and storage jars.

Also uncovered were ceramic distillation apparatus made by Josiah Wedgwood.

The dig is being carried out at Old College prior to a £1 million landscaping of the quadrangle which is being funded by a private donor.

Archaeologists have already unearthed remnants of the buildings close to the spot where Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley - the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots - was murdered.

The landscaping is one of several key improvement projects taking place as part of a major five-year fundraising initiative, the £350 million University of Edinburgh Campaign.

Arrow Down

First Temple Findings Reinforce Jewish Jerusalem

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© unknown
Another brick in the wall: the site of the First Temple excavations
First Temple dig reinforces status of Jerusalem as the true Jewish capital

Claiming one in the eye for the Palestinian trend of "Temple denial", Israeli archaeologists are preparing, for the first time, to open buildings from the First Temple era to the public.

In recent years Palestinians, including leaders of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, have claimed in growing numbers that there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

The new finds mean that not only can Israel cite archaeological evidence of the Second Temple but that it can also boast a major a complex of excavations from the First Temple, built some five centuries earlier.

The new excavations, which will open to the public later this month, give visitors the chance to see, and walk inside, a construction that is thought to have been commissioned by the king who built the First Temple - Solomon.

"This demonstrates the way it all happened and the biblical description is shown very nicely in archaeology," said Eilat Mazar, the Hebrew University archaeologist who uncovered the finds for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Jerusalem is packed with important historical sights, but until now, if you wanted to explore the city's Jewish history through archaeological excavations, a whole era was missing.

Comment: One only has to read Nachman ben Yehuda's book Sacrificing Truth about the archaeological lies told about Masada to realize that this is undoubtedly the same sort of "archaeology."