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Site Made Famous by Indiana Jones Yields Archaeology Treasure Trove

© Ministry of State for Antiquities
A painted limestone block, one of hundreds discovered in Egypt by French archaeologists, was most likely the wall of a sacred lake or temple.
Indiana Jones came so close!

Painted, carved and inscribed thousands of years ago, hundreds of stone blocks that most likely formed a sacred temple were discovered in the ancient Egyptian capital once raided on the fictional explorer's quest for the ark, the country's archaeology society announced Monday.

The site, known as San El-Hagar or Tanis, is one of the most archaeologically rich areas of Egypt's Nile delta. It was famously portrayed as the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, discovered by Indiana Jones in the film Raiders of the the Lost Ark.

An Ark has yet to be found, of course, but Dr. Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, was excited to announce the discovery of hundreds of ancient limestone blocks, which may have belonged to King Osorkon II.

French archaeologists found the colored and inscribed stones, which they believe were used to build the sacred lake walls of a temple dedicated to the goddess Mut. Dr. Philippe Brissaud, director of the French mission, confirmed that the sacred lake measures about 100 feet by 40 feet with a depth of 20 feet.


China: 300 Historical Relics Unearthed in Henan

Recently, archeologists detected a total of 104 well-preserved ancient tomb sites in Longhu town of Xinzheng, Henan province where some buildings were being constructed. Judging from unearthed relics, including bronze ware, pottery, skeletons, shells, jades and nearly 300 other excavated items in all, these tombs were created during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 B.C.).

Judging from its intricate layout and orderly arrangement, this tomb site very likely belonged to a royal family, said Fan Wenquan, leader of the archeology group. He also said the uncovering of the site will provide valuable resources for the research of entombment custom, demographic situation and social structure in the corresponding historical period.

According to the preliminary analysis, the time span of the tombs may lie between the later of Spring and Autumn Period (first half of Eastern Zhou Dynasty, 771-403 B.C.) to the middle of Warring States Period (second half of Eastern Zhou Dynasty, 475-221 B.C.). These tombs are all shaft graves with a full set of funerary objects in each coffin.


New old Crystal Skull discovered in Berlin

Berlin - Only a few days ago, photographer Bux Dean made an astonishing find at a flea market in the German capitol Berlin: If confirmed to be authentic this newly discovered crystal skull could once have been owned by the eminent German art historian and curator Arnold Wilhelm von Bode, one of the most influential figures for modern science museum curatorship.

crystal skull berlin
Frontal view of the "Bode-Skull", discovered in June 2011 in Berlin
"It was remarkable, but this skull was standing between antique objects and was without a box" its finder Bux Dean told the German paranormal and fringe science newsblog grewi.de.


Prehistoric BBQ Leftovers Found

Ancient BBQ Pit
© Getty Images
A 7,700-year-old fire pit is revealing how our ancestors put on a BBQ.
Stone Age barbecue consumers first went for the bone marrow and then for the ribs, suggest the leftovers of an outdoor 7,700-year-old meaty feast described in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The remains, found in the valley of the River Tjonger, Netherlands, provide direct evidence for a prehistoric hunting, butchering, cooking and feasting event. The meal occurred more than 1,000 years before the first farmers with domestic cattle arrived in the region.

Although basic BBQ technology hasn't changed much over the millennia, this prehistoric meal centered around the flesh of an aurochs, a wild Eurasian ox that was larger than today's cows. It sported distinctive curved horns.

Another big difference is how meat was obtained then.


Existence of Uncontacted Amazon Tribe Confirmed

Uncontacted Tribe

Home belonging to an uncontacted Indian tribe are surrounded by crops in a clearing in the Javari Valley of the western Amazon.

Brazilian officials have confirmed the existence of approximately 200 Indians who live in the western Amazon with no contact with the outside world.

This uncontacted tribe is not "lost" or unknown, according to tribal advocacy group Survival International. In fact, about 2,000 uncontacted Indians are suspected to live in the Javari Valley where the tribe's homes were seen from the air. But confirming the tribe's existence enables government authorities to monitor the area and protect the tribe's way of life.

In 2008, Survival International released photos of another uncontacted tribe near the Brazil-Peru border. The striking images revealed men aiming arrows skyward at the plane photographing them. Uncontacted Indian groups are aware of the outside world, a Survival International spokesperson told LiveScience at the time. But they chose to live apart, maintaining a traditional lifestyle deep in the Amazon forest. The latest images reveal that the newly confirmed tribe grows corn, peanuts, bananas and other crops.


Deep History of Coconuts Decoded: Origins of Cultivation, Ancient Trade Routes, and Colonization of the Americas

Coconut DNA
© Kenneth Olsen / WUSTL
Analysis of coconut DNA revealed much more structure than scientists expected given the long history of coconut exploitation by people. Written in the DNA are two origins of cultivation and many journeys of exploration and colonization.

The coconut (the fruit of the palm Cocos nucifera) is the Swiss Army knife of the plant kingdom; in one neat package it provides a high-calorie food, potable water, fiber that can be spun into rope, and a hard shell that can be turned into charcoal. What's more, until it is needed for some other purpose it serves as a handy flotation device.

No wonder people from ancient Austronesians to Captain Bligh pitched a few coconuts aboard before setting sail. (The mutiny of the Bounty is supposed to have been triggered by Bligh's harsh punishment of the theft of coconuts from the ship's store.)

So extensively is the history of the coconut interwoven with the history of people traveling that Kenneth Olsen, a plant evolutionary biologist, didn't expect to find much geographical structure to coconut genetics when he and his colleagues set out to examine the DNA of more than 1300 coconuts from all over the world.

"I thought it would be mostly a mish-mash," he says, thoroughly homogenized by humans schlepping coconuts with them on their travels.


Micro-camera Provides First Peek Inside Mayan Tomb

Mayan Burial Chamber
© National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)
A stepped ceiling and the thick slab gateway of the burial chamber.
A Mayan tomb closed to the world for 1,500 years has finally revealed some of its secrets as scientists snaked a tiny camera into a red-and-black painted burial chamber.

The room, decorated with paintings of nine figures, also contains pottery, jade pieces and shell, archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) reported Thursday (June 23).

The tomb is located in Palenque, an expansive set of stone ruins in the Mexican state of Chiapas. According to the INAH, the tomb was discovered in 1999 under a building called Temple XX. But the stonework and location prevented exploration.


US: 13,000-Year-Old Mammoth Carving Found in Florida

© Smithsonian/AP Photo
Scientists think this bone fragment with the carved image of a mammoth or mastodon is at least 13,000 years old.
A bone fragment at least 13,000 years old, with the carved image of a mammoth or mastodon, has been discovered in Florida.

While prehistoric art depicting animals with trunks has been found in Europe, this may be the first in the Western Hemisphere, researchers have reported in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

"It's pretty exciting, we haven't found anything like this in North America," said report co-author Dennis J. Stanford, curator of North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

They hunted these animals, Stanford explained, and "you see people drawing all kinds of pictures that are of relevance and importance to them."

"Much of the significance of such finds is in the tangible, emotional connection they allow us to feel with people in the deep past," said Emory University anthropologist Dietrich Stout.


New Thracian grave found in northeastern Bulgaria

© Assen Tonev
Ancient Thracian golden and bronze finds have been excavated by archaeologists in the town of Opaka, district Turgovishte, in northeastern Bulgaria, private channel bTV reported on June 23 2011.

During excavations of the grave park, scientists found a preserved Thracian tumulus from 2nd century CE full of rich funeral artifacts.

The sites yielded unique discoveries - six leaves of a golden wreath and bronze figurines - and provided more proof of the continued importance of the town of Opeka in northeastern Bulgaria.

"The man buried must have been a prominent and wealthy Thracian public figure. As these golden and bronze jewellery and figurines are put only in the graves of the richest," archaeologist and historian Stamen Stanev from Popovo History Museum told bTV.

The body in the grave was burnt but the funeral objects around it had been preserved - glass, bronze and ceramic artifacts.

Archaeologists believe that all these funeral objects had been imported from abroad.

There were two ancient Thracian towns near the newly found tumulus, which altogether form a larger tumulus acropolis.

All findings will be restored and transferred to a museum.


Crusader city discovered under an old Israeli port

© stock.xchng
The ancient site of Khan al-Umdan in the old city of Acre in Israel.
Archaeologists have unearthed an old city of Crusaders, which had been hidden for centuries under the port city of Acre along the Mediterranean Sea in Israel.

The newly excavated city adds to Israel's many heritage sites. It is believed to be last inhabited by residents in 1291, the year the crusader state power fell to a Muslim army from Egypt.

The existing Acre city, which was reduced to ruins by the end of seventeenth century, was built by the Ottoman Turks around 1750.

Preserving the newly discovered ruins of the older town is yet to be named and lay preserved under Acre's crust for hundreds of years.

"It's like Pompeii of Roman times - it's a complete city. It is one of the most exciting sites in the world of archaeology," Eliezer Stern, the Israeli archaeologist in charge of Acre, told the Associated Press.

The site will open to public later this year, he said.

Archaeologists disclosed some of the features of the new town that includes an arched passageway underground, graffiti of medieval times on walls, a cobblestone street and a row of shops that probably sold souvenirs for pilgrims, ampoules for holy water, clay figurines and more.

Acre was ruled by rules of many religions. The city houses fortresses, castles, churches and mosques that are evidences of its diverse history. Buildings from the Hellenistic-Roman period and the Crusader and Ottoman periods, Turkish baths, walled port and a Bahai temple suggest that the UNESCO World Heritage Site has strong Holy implications.