5,400-year-old tomb discovered in Spain perfectly captures thesummer solstice

5,400-year-old tomb discovered in Spain perfectly captures the summer solstice

Archaeologists have discovered a 5,400-year-old stone tomb beside a prominent lone mountain in southern Spain, indicating it was a local focus for the prehistoric people of the region.

Archaeologists found the 5,400 year-old stone tomb in the “neck” area of a prominent mountain that looks from some angles like the head of a sleeping giant.

Archaeologists have discovered a 5,400-year-old megalithic tomb near a prominent lone mountain in southern Spain, suggesting the peak may have been meaningful to prehistoric people there.

The area, in the countryside near the city of Antequera, is renowned for its megaliths — prehistoric monuments made from large stones — and the newly found tomb seems to solve one of the mysteries of their alignment.

The tomb was designed to funnel light from the rising midsummer sun into a chamber deep within — much like the contemporary megalithic tomb built more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away at Newgrange in Ireland, suggesting both places shared similar beliefs about the afterlife more than 5,000 years ago.

The tomb was constructed about 3400 B.C. with a passage aligned to sunrise on the summer solstice that cast light onto decorative rocks on the walls of a chamber within.

“Newgrange is much bigger and more complex than the tomb we have discovered [in Spain], but they have something in common — the interest of the builders to use sunlight at a specific time of the year, to produce a symbolic — possibly magic — effect,” Leonardo García Sanjuán, an archaeologist at the University of Seville. 

The bedrock at the site is tilted away from the position of the sunrise on the solstice at midsummer, so the builders deliberately constructed a cavity to admit its light, according to a study by García Sanjuán and his colleagues published April 14 in the journal Antiquity.

Related: 2,600-year-old stone busts of ‘lost’ ancient Tartessos people discovered in sealed pit in Spain

“They worked very cleverly to make an arrangement of stones, which were engraved and possibly painted,” he said. “These were sacred things placed so that the sunrise on the [summer] solstice would go straight into the back of the chamber.”

The archaeologists found human remains in the tomb from several different burials, held there in three major phases for over 1,000 years.

Megalithic tomb

The new study describes excavations by García Sanjuán and his team beside a prominent limestone mountain known as La Peña de los Enamorados — the Rock of the Lovers — named after a  legend that says two star-crossed lovers once killed themselves by jumping off it.

The mountain is also famous because it looks like the profile of the head of a sleeping giant, especially at times of low light such as sunrise and sunset.

García Sanjuán and his colleagues excavated the tomb in late 2020 in the “neck” region of the mountain, near the Matacabras rock shelter, which is adorned with pictographs thought to be painted about 5,800 years ago. They think the tomb was first built a few hundred years after the rock paintings were made, and that it was used for burials for more than 1,000 years.

he archaeologists also found stone tools and pieces of pottery in the tomb. They are particularly interested in any residues on the pottery, which could show what they held as grave goods.

The archaeologists have found several deposits of human remains in the newfound tomb, dating from three major phases of its use, as well as pieces of pottery.

Ancient landscape

The tomb was found beside the prominent mountain known as La Peña de los Enamorados — the Rock of the Lovers — because legends say two star-crossed lovers once killed themselves by jumping off it.

The Antequera area is famed for its natural rock formations like La Peña and the megalithic monuments in the region, which may have been influenced by the local geography. The most famous is the Dolmen of Menga — one of the largest and oldest megalithic structures in Europe, which was built between 3800 B.C. and 3600 B.C. 

But the passage in Menga is not aligned to a solstice sunrise or sunset, as might be expected — instead, Menga points toward La Peña de los Enamorados, about 4 miles (6.5 km) to the northeast. (The other two megaliths in the region were built later and seem to point elsewhere.)

The alignment suggests La Peña was an important focus for local prehistoric people and solves a mystery of where Menga was pointing: to the location of both the rock art and the newly found tomb at  La Peña, while the tomb at La Peña itself pointed to the solstice sunrise, García Sanjuán said.  

The inner chamber of the newfound tomb is decorated with a distinctive stone with ripple marks on its surface, which was taken from a region that had once been a beach or part of the seabed.

A passage in the tomb is aligned to the rising sun on the day of the summer solstice. Similar alignments have been seen at megalithic tombs elsewhere in Europe.

The stone was placed so that the light from the rising midsummer sun fell upon it; and the part of the burial chamber in front of it seems to have been kept clear of human remains, García Sanjuán said.

“These people chose this stone precisely because it created these waving, undulating shapes,” he said. “This was very theatrical… they were very clever in producing these special visual effects.”

He noted that megalithic structures have been found from Morocco to Sweden, and that the people who built them seem to have had similar beliefs. 

“There are differences as well, but one common element is the sun,” García  Sanjuán said. “The sun was at the center of the worldview of these people.”

The Mysterious Underwater Land Mass Known as the ‘British Atlantis’

The Mysterious Underwater Land Mass Known as the ‘British Atlantis’

The area known as Doggerland is a real-life Atlantis from a time when the British Isles were neither British nor Isles.

The land occupied a great portion of where the waters of the North Sea extend nowadays.

After the last major Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago, the area got flooded over time by the rising sea levels.

Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland (c. 10,000 BC), which provided a land bridge between Great Britain and continental Europe.

Just like London mudlarks retrieve all sorts of memorabilia and historical items from the Thames riverbed, fishermen in the North Sea have reported findings including ancient bones, artifacts, and 9,000-year-old tools.

Dutch and British archaeologists and paleontologists were immediately interested by the discoveries as they were evidence for the existence of Doggerland.

This could be a leftover from Doggerland.

Named after the Dogger Bank, Doggerland was first mentioned in a book A Story of the Stone Age by H.G. Wells, written in the late 19th century. The book suggested the existence of a prehistoric region that fused Britain’s east coast with the European mainland.

Archaeologists at the University of Bradford are working on a huge project to reconstruct the ancient Doggerland landscape which is now underneath the sea.

They are aiming to produce a 3D chart of the landscape with the help of seabed mapping data gathered by energy companies.

The red line marks Dogger Bank, which is most likely a moraine formed in the Pleistocene.

In the meantime, scientists wait on core sediment samples to extract DNA fragments from plants and animals, so that we can learn more about the flora and fauna that once existed.

Before the last glacial period, the vast piece of land that connected Europe and Britain consisted of a diverse mix of gentle hills, swampland, and dense forests.

With the lessening of the huge weight of ice, melting water got locked away which caused the land to tilt in an isostatic adjustment.

Early Holocene landscape features mapped by the North Sea Palaeolandscapes Project.

The ancient region was inhabited by thousands of Mesolithic Stone Age settlers. It was also a very important land bridge between Europe and Britain.

According to the evidence gathered, scientists believe that the Doggerlanders were nomadic hunter-gatherers who migrated with the season. They lived on hunting, fishing, and gathering foods such as berries, nuts, and mushrooms.

Map of Doggerbank, 1867.

For hundreds of years, fishermen have pulled up all kinds of finds in their nets in the area off the coast of Dogger Bank.

In 1931, there was a famous discovery of a lump of peat which contained an ornate barbed antler point used for harpooning fish. It was hauled up near the Ower Bank, 25 miles off the English coast.

Woolly mammoth skull discovered by fishermen in the North Sea, at the Celtic and Prehistoric Museum, Ireland.

It is most likely that Doggerland was habitable until 10,000 BC and that the last remaining island was flooded in a single gigantic event some 8,000 years ago.

There was an enormous landslide off the coast of Norway, the Storegga Slide, in which an estimated 180-mile length of the coastal shelf crashed in the Norwegian Sea. That triggered a tsunami in the North Atlantic Ocean with waves up to 17 feet in height.

Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland from Weichselian glaciation until the current situation.

“The only populated lands on earth that have not yet been explored in any depth are those which have been lost underneath the sea,” says Professor Vince Gaffney, Anniversary Chair in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bradford.

The study of this long-forgotten, sunken Stone Age habitat is important so that we can learn about the ultimate outcomes of potentially rising sea levels.

Experts who study and research Doggerland are attempting to connect the events that caused the disappearance of the land with present day possibilities.

2,000-Year-Old Iron Age and Roman Treasures Unearthed in Wales – Carvings of ‘True Beauty’

2,000-Year-Old Iron Age and Roman Treasures Unearthed in Wales – Carvings of ‘True Beauty’

In March 2019, a metal detectorist was searching for artifacts in a field in Wales, and stumbled upon a hoard of exceptionally preserved objects dating back 2,000 years to the Roman era and Iron Age!

Now officially declared treasure, these finds include a Roman pot and a Celtic bucket mount, which initially emerged as a bloc collection of buried treasures.

In total, eight objects, including two complete pieces, were unearthed from the field located in the scenic region of Llantrisant Fawr,  Monmouthshire.

Other Roman pottery were vessels also part of the booty, stumbled upon by detectorist Jon Mathews. Although he wasn’t initially certain about the significance of his discovery, he had a strong intuition that it might be something of great importance, reports  Wales Online 

The bucket mounts found at Llantrisant Fawr.

The Process of Uncovering: Digging Through Collaboration

Acting upon this hunch, he promptly contacted the local find liaison officer, who recognized the potential value of the artifacts. With careful precision, the archaeologists delicately excavated the findings which were then transported to Amgueddfa Cymru, the National Museum of Wales, for further examination and preservation.

Following these initial findings, Jon Matthews joined the museum’s excavation team at the site. Together, more artifacts were unearthed, including a captivating bowl adorned with an ox’s face!

Initially mistaken for a brooch, this particular discovery left Jon, an experienced detectorist of ten years, in awe, describing the experience as “surreal.”  

A Proper ‘Hoard’ of Finds: Indicative of a Roman Settlement?

The subsequent investigations conducted by experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme in  Wales (PAS Cymru) and Amgueddfa Cymru uncovered a total of two complete and six fragmentary  vessels.

Among the findings were remnants of two wooden tankards, an  Iron Age  bucket adorned with  copper alloy fittings, an Iron Age copper alloy bowl, cauldron, and strainer, as well as two Roman copper alloy saucepans.

These vessels are believed to have been buried as a group during the second half of the first century AD, a tumultuous historical period surrounding the end of the  Roman occupation of Britain .

The remarkable bowl with an ox head handle is a beautiful blue-green metal design and a wide-eyed ox with bowed horns. The lower lips or jaw extend outwards into the handle-like loop. The team has given this find the nickname of ‘Bovril’!

Alastair Willis, a senior curator at Amgueddfa Cymru, said, “The discovery of two coin hoards in the same field and in the general vicinity of the Roman town at  Caerwent, is exciting and significant.

The results of the geophysical survey undertaken suggest the presence of a previously unknown settlement or religious site where the  coin hoards  were buried. This sheds light on life in the rural hinterland around the Roman town of Venta Silurum.

The discoveries are also important for understanding events happening in south-east Wales around the time when the Romans left, at the beginning of the fifth century AD.”

A Roman trulleus (saucepan) handle found at Llantrisant Fawr.

Interestingly, other significant discoveries were made in a ploughed field in Caerwent by metal detectorists Colin Price and Rhys Cadwallader between 2014 and 2022.

Their findings consisted of a hoard of Roman coins dating from the late-third to late-fourth centuries AD. The proximity of these coin hoards to the  Roman town of Caerwent has led experts to believe that they might indicate the presence of an unknown settlement or religious site.

10,000-Year-Old Crayon Found in Ancient Lake Was Used to Decorate Animal Skins

10,000-Year-Old Crayon Found in Ancient Lake Was Used to Decorate Animal Skins

Archaeologists have reportedly discovered a prehistoric, ochre crayon believed to have been used to draw on animal skins 10,000 years ago. The crayon was discovered near the site of an ancient lake in North Yorkshire, England.

Earliest Example of Crayon Discovered?

The area where the crayon was found is near one of the most famous Mesolithic sites in Europe, Star Carr. As the experts suggest, this could be a very important and historic discovery, as it may be the earliest example of a crayon ever found.

The crayon is made of a red mineral pigment called ochre and was unearthed near an ancient lake now covered in peat, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire as BBC News reported .

Archaeologists speculate that the crayon could have possibly been used by humans nearly 10,000 years ago for applying color to their animal skins or for artwork.

The Mesolithic Settlement Site Known as “Star Carr”

Star Carr is a Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) archaeological site, dating to around 9000 BC, just centuries after the end of the last Ice Age. It has become world famous in the archaeological world due to the preservation of artifacts found buried deep in the peat.

These incredibly rare finds include headdresses made from red deer skulls, thought to be used by shamans in ritual practices, barbed points (harpoons) used in hunting and fishing, the “oldest house in Britain”, and the earliest evidence of carpentry that we have in Europe.

The ancient archaeological site of Star Carr in Yorkshire, England.

The man who discovered the site of Star Carr was John Moore, a local amateur archaeologist who found 10 sites in the area from 1947. He carried out a small excavation at Star Carr in 1948 and found some flint, bone and antler.

Contact was made with Grahame Clark, lecturer of Prehistory at the University of Cambridge who was looking to excavate a Mesolithic site which preserved organic materials such as bone, antler and wood. From 1949-1951 Clark excavated Star Carr and published his findings in 1954.

Clark uncovered an amazing array of finds, including an engraved shale pendant which is considered the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain. On what would have been the lakeshore was a platform that appeared to have been made by people.

On top and within this platform the excavators found a range of animal remains: red deer, roe deer, wild boar, elk, auroch (wild cow), birds, beaver, pine marten, hedgehog, hare and badger. Finds of wolf were also made, later thought to be domesticated dog.

There were a lot of flint artefacts and waste including scrapers, probably used for cleaning hides of animals, axes for woodworking and ‘microliths’ which were used as the tips of arrows.

Cooperation between the departments of Archaeology and Physics, brought archaeologists from the University of York to the site again, where they discovered the crayon, along with other items as BBC News reports .

The ochre – a pigment made from clay and sand – crayon has a striped surface and a sharpened point that is considered to have been shaped and scraped in order to produce a red pigment powder.

Red ochre pigment

Dr. Andy Needham, lead author of the study, noted that the latest finds will help researchers to understand Mesolithic life better. “It is possible there could have been an artistic use for these objects, perhaps for colouring animal skins or for use in decorative artwork.

Colour was a very significant part of hunter-gatherer life and ochre gives you a very vibrant red colour,” he said via BBC News .“ And added, “One of the latest objects we have found looks exactly like a crayon, the tip is faceted and has gone from a rounded end to a really sharpened end, suggesting it has been used.”

1,200-year-old Remains of Sacrificed Adults and Kids Unearthed in Peru

1,200-year-old Remains of Sacrificed Adults and Kids Unearthed in Peru

Peruvian archeologists have unearthed eight children and 12 adults apparently sacrificed around 800-1,200 years ago, they said on Tuesday, in a major dig at the pre-Incan Cajamarquilla complex east of Lima.

The remains were outside an underground tomb where the team from Peru’s San Marcos University found November an ancient mummy thought to be a VIP bound with ropes, in a fetal position.

Archaeologist Pieter Van Dalen said the bodies, some mummified and others skeletons, were wrapped in various layers of textiles as part of ancient pre-Hispanic ritual, and had likely been sacrificed to accompany the main mummy.

A Peruvian archeologist works at an excavation site to recover the remains of one of 14 pre-Incan mummies, six children and eight adults which are nearly 1000 years old, at the archeological complex in Cajamarquilla, Peru.

“For them, death was not the end, but rather a transition to a parallel world where the dead lived,” Van Dalen told a news conference. “They thought that the souls of the dead became protectors of the living.”

Van Dalen said the burial pattern was familiar, citing the tomb of the Lord of Sipán, a ruler from 1,700 years ago found along with children and adults sacrificed to be buried with him.

A view shows a tomb at an excavation site where archeologists work to recover the remains of 14 pre-Incan mummies, six children and eight adults which are nearly 1000 years old, at the archeological complex in Cajamarquilla, Peru.

“This is precisely what we think and propose in the case of the mummy at Cajamarquilla, which would have been buried with these people,” he said. “As part of the ritual, evidence of violence has been found in some of the individuals.”

Yomira Huamán, part of the team, said that along with funeral items, there were musical artifacts such as the “zampoña,” a wind instrument of Andean origin with several wooden tubes in the form of flutes.

“Our investigations suggest the mummy of Cajamarquilla would be a man of approximately 35 years. This character did not have any organs, meaning he was eviscerated after death,” she said.

A member of the media takes a picture of a pre-Incan mummy unearthed at the Cajamarquilla archaeological site and believed to be between 800 and 1,200 years old, at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in Lima, Peru.

Peru is home to hundreds of archaeological sites of cultures that developed before and after the Inca Empire, which 500 years ago dominated the southern part of the continent, ranging from southern Ecuador and Colombia to central Chile.

“The complex has only been excavated 1%,” Huamán said. “I think Cajamarquilla has much more to say, much more to tell us.”

Archaeologists Now Believe That 8,000-Year-Old Human Skeletons From Portugal Are the World’s Oldest Mummies

Archaeologists Now Believe That 8,000-Year-Old Human Skeletons From Portugal Are the World’s Oldest Mummies

New research suggests that a set of 8,000-year-old human skeletons buried in Portugal’s Sado Valley could be the world’s oldest known mummies.

An illustration of guided natural mummification, with reduction of the soft tissue volume. Courtesy of Uppsala University and Linnaeus University in Sweden and University of Lisbon in Portugal.

Based on photographs taken of 13 bodies when they were first exhumed in the 1960s, researchers have been able to reconstruct likely burial positions, shedding light on mortuary rituals used by European Mesolithic peoples.

The study, published in the European Journal of Archaeology by a team from Uppsala University and Linnaeus University in Sweden and the University of Lisbon in Portugal, suggests that people in the Sado Valley were engaging in desiccation through mummification.

The soft tissue on the bodies is no longer preserved, which makes looking for signs of such preservation challenging. Experts used a method called archaeothanatology to document and analyze the remains, and also looked to the results of decomposition experiments conducted by the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility at Texas State University.

Skeleton XII from Sado Valley, Portugal, photographed in 1960 at the time of its excavation. The extreme ‘clumping’ of the lower limbs may suggest the body was prepared and desiccated prior to burial. Photo by Poças de S. Bento.

Based on what we know about how the body decomposes, as well as observations about the spatial distribution of the bones, archaeologists made deductions about how the people of the Sado Valley handled the bodies of their dead, which they buried with the knees bent and pressed against the chest.

As the bodies gradually became desiccated, it appears that living humans tightened ropes binding the limbs in place, compressing them into the desired position.

If the bodies were buried in a desiccated state, rather than as a fresh corpse, that would explain some of the signs of mummification practices.

An illustration comparing the burial of a fresh cadaver and a desiccated body that has undergone guided mummification. Courtesy of Uppsala University and Linnaeus University in Sweden and University of Lisbon in Portugal.

There isn’t the the disarticulation you would expect in the joints, and the bodies show hyperflexion in the limbs. The way that the sediment gathers around the bones maintained the articulation of the joints, and also indicates that the flesh did not decay after burial.

The people of the Sado Valley may have chosen to mummify their dead for ease of transport to the grave, and for the body to better retain its shape in life after burial.

If European mummification practices do indeed date back thousands of years prior than previously known, it could enhance our understanding of Mesolithic belief systems, particularly as they relate to death and burial.

Most of the world’s surviving mummies date from no earlier than 4,000 years ago, although evidence suggests the ancient Egyptians may have begun the practice as early as 5,700 years ago.

The bodies of the Chinchorro mummies from coastal Chile, long believed to be the world’s oldest mummies, were intentionally preserved by the region’s hunter-gatherers around 7,000 years ago.

3.6-Million-Year-Old Footprints Imply That an Ancient Hominin Was a Tall, Dominant, and Polygamous Male

3.6-Million-Year-Old Footprints Imply That an Ancient Hominin Was a Tall, Dominant, and Polygamous Male

Footprints belonging to a group of early hominins who lived 3.6 million years ago were recently uncovered in Tanzania. The footprints indicate Australopithecus afarensis probably had a gorilla-like social behavior with an aggressive alpha male who had sex with many different females.

These early conclusions have been based on the footprints of five of our ancient relatives – four females and a male – that appeared to be walking across wet volcanic ash.

The researchers who discovered these marks have also been able to identify the lead male’s towering height and weight. The thirteen footprints were discovered in Laetoli, Tanzania, by an international team of researchers, led by Sapienza University in Rome.

Some of the A. afarensis footprints discovered recently in Tanzania.

Polygamy Throughout History

The recorded history of polygamy takes us back thousands years and shows that it has been practiced by cultures in every corner of the planet.

The Hebrew people were some of the first to accept the practice, and there’s strong evidence that implies the same was happening in classical China too.

Polygamy can also be found sporadically in Native American tribes, in the West African continent, Polynesia, India, and ancient Greece.

Generally, polygamy was widely accepted throughout the world until the Byzantine Empire – where strict rules were imposed for the first time declaring a man could have just one wife.

‘Prince Manga Bell and Favorite Wives.’ From Glimpses of Africa, West and Southwest coast; containing the author’s impressions and observations during a voyage of six thousand miles from Sierra Leone to St. Paul de Loanda and return, including the Rio del Ray and Cameroons rivers, and the Congo River, from its mouth to Matadi (published 1895).

It’s interesting to mention that the Hebrew Bible permitted polygamy for a man to have more than one wife; but if a woman had more than one husband, that was seen as a sin.

In North America, polygamy became significant relatively recently, when in 1852 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) made it known that a form of the practice, called plural marriage, was part of its doctrine.

Opposition to the practice by the United States government resulted in an intense legal conflict, and culminated in LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff announcing the church’s official abandonment of the practice on September 25, 1890.

However, breakaway Mormon fundamentalist groups living mostly in the western United States, Canada, and Mexico still (illegally) practice plural marriage.

Portrait of Mormon polygamists in prison at the Utah Penitentiary c. 1889.

Polygamy Might Be Over 3 Million Years Old

The newly discovered footprints in Tanzania, however, imply that polygamy has been practiced for millions of years. Professor Giorgio Manzi, a lead author of the study, told Daily Mail : “This novel evidence, taken as a whole with the previous findings, portrays several early hominins moving as a group through the landscape following a volcanic eruption and subsequent rainfall.”

But, this is not the only thing discovered about those individuals; the researchers calculated from the footprints that the male stood about 5-foot-5 (1m 65cm) and weighed around 100 pounds (45 kg).

They also speculate that the male, who they named S1, loomed at least 8 inches (20 cm) over the individuals who made the other tracks (all females), and stood about 3 inches (7 cm) taller than another large A. afarensis specimen previously found in Ethiopia.

Shaded 3D photogrammetric elevation model of test-pit L8 and close-up of the best-preserved tracks of the male S1 with contour lines.

But all this is just speculation for now, and Philip Reno, an assistant anthropology professor at Penn State who didn’t take part in the new study, told ABC News that he’s not convinced that S1 was really taller than the other large Ethiopian A. afarensis.

Some members of the scientific community also hesitate to believe that the newly found evidence is enough to conclude that A. afarensis were truly polygynous, and they assert that many years of further research may be the only way to ascertain the real facts behind these finds.

Photo of a head model of an Australopithecus afarensis adult male exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

More than a Dozen Mysterious Prehistoric Tunnels in Cornwall, England, Mystify Researchers

More than a Dozen Mysterious Prehistoric Tunnels in Cornwall, England, Mystify Researchers

More than a dozen tunnels have been found in Cornwall, England, that are unique in the British Isles. No one knows why Iron Age people created them.

The fact that the ancients supported their tops and sides with stone, suggests that they wanted them to endure, and that they have, for about 2,400 years.

Many of the fogous, as they’re called in Cornish after their word for cave, ogo, were excavated by antiquarians who didn’t keep records, so their purpose is hard to fathom, says a BBC Travel story on the mysterious structures.

The landscape of Cornwall is covered with hundreds of ancient, stone, man-made features, including enclosures, cliff castles, roundhouses, ramparts and forts.

In terms of stone monuments, the Cornwall countryside has barrows, menhirs, dolmens, cairns and of course stone circles. In addition, there are 13 inscribed stones.

The Cornish landscape is dotted with ancient megalithic structures like this Lanyon Quoit Megalith

“Obviously, all of this monument building did not take place at the same time. Man has been leaving his mark on the surface of the planet for thousands of years and each civilisation has had its own method of honouring their dead and/or their deities,” says the site Cornwall in Focus.

The site says Cornwall has 74 Bronze Age structures, 80 from the Iron Age, 55 from the Neolithic and one from the Mesolithic. In addition, there are nine Roman sites and 24 post-Roman.

The Mesolithic dates from 8000 to 4500 BC, so people have been occupying this southwestern peninsula of Britain for a long, long time.

About 150 generations of people worked the land there. But it’s believed the fogous date to the Iron Age, which lasted from about 700 BC to 43 AD. Though they’re unique, the fogou tunnels of Cornwall are similar to souterrains in Scotland, Ireland, Normandy and Brittany, says the BBC.

Carn Euny fogou in Cornwall

The fogous required considerable investment of time and resources “and no one knows why they would have done so,” says the BBC. It’s interesting to note that all 14 of the fogous have been found within the confines of prehistoric settlements.

Because the society was preliterate, there are no written records that explain the enigmatic structures.

“There are only a couple that have been excavated in modern times – and they don’t seem to be structures that really easily give up their secrets,” Susan Greaney, head properties historian of English Heritage, told the BBC.

The mystery of their construction is amplified at Halliggye Fogou, the best-preserved such tunnel in Cornwall. It measures 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) high. The 8.4 -meter-long (27.6 feet) passage narrows at its end in a tunnel 4 meters (13.124 feet) long and .75 meter (2.46 feet) tall.

Main chamber of the Halliggye Fogou

Another tunnel 27 meters (88.6 feet) long branches off to the left of the main chamber and gets darker the farther in one goes. There is what the BBC calls a “final creep” at the end of this passage that has stone lip upon which one could trip.

“In other words, none of it seemed designed for easy access – a characteristic that’s as emblematic of fogous as it is perplexing,” wrote the BBC’s Amanda Ruggeri.

Halliggye Fogou. One of the largest and best preserved of these fogou (curious underground passages) this one originally passed under the rampart of a defended Iron Age settlement.

Some have speculated they were places to hide, though the lintels of many of them are visible on the surface and Ruggeri says they would be forbidding places to stay if one sought refuge.

Still others have speculated they were burial chambers. An antiquarian who entered Halliggye in 1803 wrote that it had funerary urns. But others entered by the hole he made in the roof, and all the urns are gone.

No bones or ashes have been discovered in the six tunnels that modern archaeologists have examined. No remnants of grains have been found, perhaps because the soil is acidic. No ingots from mining have been discovered.

This elimination of storage, mining or burial purposes has led some to speculate that they were perhaps ceremonial or religious structures where people worshiped gods.

7,000-Year-Old Forest and Footprints Uncovered in the Atlantis of Britain

7,000-Year-Old Forest and Footprints Uncovered in the Atlantis of Britain

Ancient footprints as well as prehistoric tree stumps and logs have become visible along a 200-meter stretch of a coastline at Low Hauxley near Amble, Northumberland, in what is believed to be Doggerland, the Atlantis of Britain.

The Daily Mail reports that the forest existed in the late Mesolithic period. It began to form around 5,300 BC, and it was covered by the ocean three centuries later.

The studies proved that at the time, when the ancient forest existed, the sea level was much lower. It was a period when Britain had recently separated from the land of what is currently Denmark.

The forest consisted mostly of hazel, alder, and oak trees. Researchers believe the forest was part of Doggerland, an ancient stretch of a land, which connected the UK and Europe.

Doggerland: Stone Age Atlantis of Britain

Located in the North Sea, Doggerland is believed to have once measured approximately 100,000 square miles (258998 square kilometers). However, the end of the Ice Age saw a great rise in the sea level and an increase in storms and flooding in the region, causing Doggerland to gradually shrink.

Doggerland, sometimes called the Stone Age Atlantis of Britain or the prehistoric Garden of Eden, is an area archaeologists have been waiting to rediscover.

Finally, modern technology has reached a level in which their dreams may become a reality. Doggerland is thought to have been first inhabited around 10,000 BC, and innovative technology is expected to aid a new study in glimpsing what life was like for the prehistoric humans living in the region before the catastrophic floods covered the territory sometime between 8000 – 6000 BC.

The area, which would have been home to a range of animals, as well as the hunter gatherers which stalked them, became flooded due to glacial melt, with some high-lying regions such as ‘Dogger Island’ (pictured right, highlighted red) serving as clues to the regions ancient past.

Sunken Land Reveals its Secrets

The latest research was made by a group of archeologists and volunteers led by a team from Archaeological Research Services Ltd , which previously performed some other projects related to the Northumberland.

The works were possible due to the lower level of water. The major excavations involved a total of 700 people and uncovered part of an Iron Age site dating from around 300 BC near the Druidge Bay.

Clive Waddington, project director of Archaeological Research Services Ltd at the prehistoric archaeological dig at Low Hauxley near Amble, Northumberland

Ancient Footprints

Waddington maintains that his team also discovered the evidence of humans living nearby. They found footprints of adults and children. Due to the results of the analysis of the footprints, it is believed that they wore leather shoes.  Animal footprints of wild boar, brown bears and red deer also had been found.

Fossilized Forests

The remains of the forest of Doggerland do not belong to the oldest known forest. The oldest fossilized forest was discovered by a team from the Binghamton University in the town of Gilboa in upstate New York.

The Gilboa area has been known as a tree fossil location since the late 19 th century. However, the first researchers arrived there in the 1920s. The most recent research started in 2004, when Linda VanAller Hernick, paleontology collection manager, and Frank Mannolini, paleontology collection technician, uncovered more intact specimens.

According to the article published in 2012 by William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton, the fossils discovered in this area are between 370 to 380 million years old.

Ancient Mummified Lion Cubs Discovered in Egyptian Tomb

Ancient Mummified Lion Cubs Discovered in Egyptian Tomb

Egyptian authorities have announced the rare discovery of mummified lion cubs, big cats, cobras and crocodiles near Saqqara necropolis which date back around 2,600 years.

The cache of ancient mummified animals includes dozens of mummified cats and birds, an enormous mummified beetle reported to be “three to four times” the normal size and 75 wooden and bronze cat statues.

The mummified large cats were found close to the remains of an adult mummified lion discovered beneath the Saqqara necropolis in 2004 and while two have been identified as lion cubs three more require further analysis to determine their species.

A Guardian report quotes an excited Mostafa Waziry, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Antiquities, saying that if these three animals are identified as cheetahs, leopards, lioness’ or panthers, it will be “one of its kind” in ancient Egypt.

Mummified cat found in Egyptian tomb

Animal Blood Sacrifices

Dr Salima Ikram is an Egyptologist and mummy expert at the American University in Cairo and she said the animal mummies date to the Ptolemaic period that ended in 30 BC.

At that time in ancient Egypt worshippers either held mummified animals as actual deities, or they mummified creatures in order to offer them to their gods. This, according to Dr Ikram would have more potency as it was a “blood sacrifice” compared to the perceived magical energies associated with stone or wooden images.

In April this year I wrote an Ancient Origins news article about a similar discovery when archaeologists uncovered dozens of mummified cats and mice among a stash of around 50 animals laid to rest in an ancient tomb about 390km (242 miles) south of Cairo near the Egyptian town of Sohag.

This tomb was built for a man named ‘Tutu’ and his wife who lived in the early Ptolemaic period, which ended with the Roman conquest in 30 BC and like the new discoveries greatly added to Egyptologists understanding of animal worship and mummification rites.

Part of the stash of mummified cats, birds and mice found in the tomb in Sohag.

Evolution of The Cat Goddess

The tomb in Sohag contained a range of mummified animals and birds including more than 50 mummified mice and cats and even a mummified falcon which informed all creatures great and small were scarified and worshiped.

Following the ritual path and evolution of the cat goddess, according to G. D. Hornblower’s 1943 book The Divine Cat and the Snake in Egypt “ Mafdet’ was the first cat-headed deity worshiped during the First Dynasty (2920–2770 BC).

Regarded as protector of the Pharaoh’s chambers against snakes, scorpions and all things evil, Mafdet was often also depicted with a head of a leopard.

The later cat deity  Bastet was worshiped from at least the Second Dynasty (2890 BC) onwards and was depicted with a lion’s ( Panthera leo’s ) head and a wall painting in the Fifth Dynasty’s burial ground at Saqqara shows a small cat with a collar suggesting to archaeologists that African wildcats were tamed kept in the pharaonic quarters by the 26th century BC.

And reflecting real world occurrences, as time unfolded in ancient Egypt, the once wild cat goddess herself became tamer and was worshiped as ‘Bast’.

Goddess of Egypt, Bastet.

The Mummified Cats Might Lure Tourists

Egyptian officials hope that their recent announcement will help to boost the country’s image abroad and ultimately that these ancient mummified lion cubs and cats will encourage tourists to continue visiting Egypt as the country aims to bring back its 14 million visitors a year who came to the country in 2010, before the 2011 revolution which overthrew former autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

An almost final nail in the coffin of Egypt’s flagging tourist industry occurred after Metrojet flight 7K9268 was brought down close to the resort town of Sharm el Sheikh in 2015, but things are turning around, fast.

According to a report in Alborsaanews, last year Egypt saw a surge in arrivals with 11.3 million people visiting Egypt and this was in part inspired and caused by the UK lifting its ban on flights to Sharm el Sheikh that had been in place since 2015.

“It’s wonderful promotion for Egypt,” says Khaled El-Enany, Egypt’s antiquities minister, who told The Guardian that be believes these new mummies will spark curiosity among potential visitors to the country in the run-up to the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum close to the Saqqara necropolis.