All posts by Archeology worldwide team

The 5,000-Year-Old Pyramid City of Caral: The First City in the Americas

The 5,000-Year-Old Pyramid City of Caral: The First City in the Americas

Seventy thousand years ago, people lived all over South America. Six thousand years ago, people began to construct cities around pyramids, in places like Mesopotamia and China.

The first of these structures in the Americas, between the Andes and the Pacific Oceans, was established 5,000 years ago. Known as Caral, it was a large settlement in the Supe Valley, in what is now Peru. The point is that this gave rise to the first city in the Americas, as well as the most extraordinary archaeological site in the entire world.

Ancient cities all had a common feature, namely their access to fresh water. On the wall, across the board, this is what allowed for the irrigation that was required to form modern cities. In typical fashion, the river in the valley of Caral flowed down from the mountains to the sea.

From this, hoes were then used to dig trenches from the river to the fields. However, since the river only flows between December and April, to have water all year round, they had to build a canal that was fed by two different sources.

Remains of the Great Pyramid of Caral.

Along with the river water, the people of Caral made use of mountain spring water, to hydrate themselves and the plants they depended on. As a result of this, there were soon numerous fruits and vegetables, in a vast oasis, along with acres upon acres of cotton. It must have been an ancient wonder of the world.

Now, although they were expert farmers, the old native Peruvians didn’t know how to fire clay. Instead, they carried things in hand-woven reed baskets. The thing that makes them the most unique, though, is the fact that the Caral-Supe civilization was a peaceful society. That is to say, citizens didn’t own weapons, unlike in almost every other civilization, both ancient and modern alike.

Their overall way of life developed out of a far greater need for welfare than that of warfare. So, the culture didn’t include aggression. Although, it is important to note that, the priests of Caral did engage in human sacrifice.

In this way, they started the tradition of burying people alive in monumental architecture, as would be seen millennia later, in cities like Teotihuacan and Cahokia, in North America. Thus, trapped souls began to serve as protectors of pyramids.

Regardless, Caral was under construction at the same time as the pyramids of Giza, in Ancient Egypt. Like all the other great cities of old, the site was simply enormous.

The temple included a 100-foot tall, multiple structures, a fire altar platform. This was also accompanied by five smaller ritual pyramids, around a central plaza, complete with an amphitheater. There was also housing for 3,000 permanent residents.

As part of this, major repairs needed to be done every two or three generations. Even though they used rather sophisticated anti-seismic methods of construction, it was still necessary to shore up monuments every few decades. They also had to deal with deadly mudslides, in the process.

Nonetheless, despite all the hardships they faced, their peaceful society not only survived, it thrived. It was all based on a complex trade network, which went to Ecuador, and even hundreds of miles away, deep in the rain forests. So, the farmers in Caral grew chili peppers and guava, among many other crops.

The most important thing they produced, though, was cotton. Manufacturers used it to make several textiles, like clothing and fishing nets. Farmers wore the former, and traded the latter to fishermen, miles away in coastal towns. In this way, people in the aristocratic city-state subsisted mainly on shellfish and dried fish, although they had a fairly diverse diet, overall.

The people of Caral brilliantly capitalized on what could have been a disaster. 5,000 years ago, climate change altered the local seascape in the Pacific Ocean.

After the temperature changed, tuna and other big fish moved on to cooler waters. Meanwhile, anchovies and sardines moved in. These new marine products were caught with nets rather than hooks and lines, as people had been doing with the larger fish. Simply put, it became easier to catch smaller fish, in far greater numbers.

In this way, the greater number of fish that were being caught, with the use of more and more nets, allowed for a greater and greater surplus, which drove the economy. This made Caral the central trading hub, in the first major marketplace in the Americas.

As the mother civilization of the New World, the Caral-Supe society set the stage for Native American civilizations, far and wide. Without even knowing how to make pottery yet, they were already expert herbalists. They chewed coca leaves with lime, to enhance the cocaine. They also painted each other with an aphrodisiac, made from the achiote plant. Then, they engaged in orgiastic religious festivals.

The natives were flute-playing lovers, not blade-wielding fighters. Everything they did was based on cooperation, not competition. This is how they lived in peace, for a millennium, from 2600 BCE to 1600 BCE. However, all good things seem to come to an end.

Unfortunately for the people of Caral, every few decades, earthquakes would routinely break up the mountains. As a consequence of this, rubble would get swept away by torrential rains. This would then wash into the river, and out into the ocean. So, after a couple of centuries, the silt built up and sealed off the flow of water.

This filled the life-giving bays with sand, which prevailing winds then blew inland. Thus, with each passing year, the dunes grew bigger and more menacing on the horizon. In the end, the once fertile fields were all reclaimed, by the inhospitable desert, once more.

Ancient DNA reveals that the Biblical Philistines originated in Europe.

Ancient DNA reveals that the Biblical Philistines originated in Europe.

A team of scientists from Germany, the United States and Korea has sequenced and analyzed DNA of 10 Bronze and Iron Age individuals from the ancient Mediterranean port city of Ashkelon, identified as ‘Philistine’ during the Iron Age.

The researchers found that a European derived ancestry was introduced in Ashkelon around the time of the Philistines’ estimated arrival, suggesting that their ancestors migrated across the Mediterranean, reaching Ashkelon by the early Iron Age.

This European genetic component was subsequently diluted by the Levantine gene pool over the succeeding centuries, suggesting intensive admixture between locals and migrants.

Left: captive Philistine warriors from a wall relief at Medinet Habu, Egypt, 1185-1152 BC. Right: an artist’s conception of a Philistine warrior.

The Philistines are famous for their appearance in the Hebrew Bible as the enemies of the Israelites. However, ancient texts tell little about the Philistine origins other than a later memory that they came from ‘Caphtor,’ a Bronze Age name for Crete (Amos 9:7).

More than a century ago, egyptologists proposed that a group called the Peleset in texts of the late 12th century BCE were the same as the Biblical Philistines.

The Egyptians claimed that the Peleset traveled from ‘the islands,’ attacking what is today Cyprus and the Turkish and Syrian coasts, finally attempting to invade Egypt. These hieroglyphic inscriptions were the first indication that the search for the origins of the Philistines should be focused in the late 2nd millennium BCE.

“We found substantial changes in ways of life during the 12th century BCE which we connect to the arrival of the Philistines,” said Professor Daniel Master, an archeologist with the Wheaton Archaeology Museum and director of the Harvard Semitic Museum’s Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, and colleagues.

“Many scholars, however, argued that these cultural changes were merely the result of trade or a local imitation of foreign styles and not the result of a substantial movement of people.”

“Our new study represents the culmination of more than 30 years of archaeological work and genetic research, concluding that the advent of the Philistines in the southern Levant involved a movement of people from the west during the Bronze to Iron Age transition.”

Reconstruction of a Philistine house from the 12th century BCE.

The researchers successfully recovered genomic data from the remains of 10 individuals who lived in Ashkelon during the Bronze and Iron Age.

They then compared DNA of the Bronze and Iron Age people of Ashkelon to determine how they were related.

They found that individuals across all time periods derived most of their ancestry from the local Levantine gene pool, but that individuals who lived in early Iron Age Ashkelon had a European derived ancestral component that was not present in their Bronze Age predecessors.

“This genetic distinction is due to European-related gene flow introduced in Ashkelon during either the end of the Bronze Age or the beginning of the Iron Age,” said Dr. Michal Feldman, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

“This timing is in accord with estimates of the Philistines arrival to the coast of the Levant, based on archaeological and textual records.”

“While our modeling suggests a southern European gene pool as a plausible source, future sampling could identify more precisely the populations introducing the European-related component to Ashkelon.”

In analyzing later Iron Age individuals from Ashkelon, the researchers found that the European related component could no longer be traced.

“Within no more than two centuries, this genetic footprint introduced during the early Iron Age is no longer detectable and seems to be diluted by a local Levantine related gene pool,” said Dr. Choongwon Jeong, also from the Max Planck Institute of the Science of Human History.

“While, according to ancient texts, the people of Ashkelon in the first millennium BCE remained ‘Philistines’ to their neighbors, the distinctiveness of their genetic makeup was no longer clear, perhaps due to intermarriage with Levantine groups around them,” Professor Master said.

“These data begin to fill a temporal gap in the genetic map of the southern Levant.

At the same time, by the zoomed-in comparative analysis of the Ashkelon genetic time transect, we find that the unique cultural features in the early Iron Age are mirrored by a distinct genetic composition of the early Iron Age people,” said Dr. Johannes Krause, also from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

The World’s Smallest Elephants Led Unusually Long Lives

The World’s Smallest Elephants Led Unusually Long Lives

Ancient elephants that would have been born the size of a puppy lived for decades more than previously thought. Researchers studying an ancient miniature elephant that lived on Mediterranean islands found it could have lived for over 68 years, which is unusually long for a mammal of its size. The smallest-ever elephant took a leisurely approach to growing up, with a drawn-out development lasting up to 15 years.

Though it was barely a meter tall, a team of European scientists found that Palaeoloxodon Falconeri grew much more slowly than its modern relatives, with modern African bush elephants entering adulthood four years earlier than their extinct relatives despite being much bigger.

Their findings contradict previous studies which suggest P. Falconeri would only have lived for 26 years, suggesting that the species would have lived for at least seven decades, and perhaps even longer.

Professor Meike Köhler, the paper’s lead author, says, ‘Traditionally this species had been considered to have a rapid development, reaching sexual maturity early and having a short life. Our work reveals that the life history of this elephant was much slower.

‘Organisms that grow at slower rates have fewer errors in biosynthesis which leads to an extended lifespan.’

Dr Victoria Herridge, who researches fossil elephants at the Museum and co-wrote the paper, says, ‘It’s hard to know why these elephants grew so slowly. There is an idea that the islands had limited resources and predators, so on the one hand food is scarce, but on the other, there is very low mortality.

‘This would allow for a slower investment in growth over a longer period, but without paying the price that smaller individuals pay on the mainland, such as a death in the jaws of a predator. However, the reasoning behind that is still debated.

‘There’s a lot we don’t know about this species, but its slower growth shifts our thinking a little bit on how these elephants evolved.’

The findings, led by the Miquel Crusafont Catalan Institute of Paleontology, were published in Scientific Reports.

Bigger is better

It’s been known for some time that when it comes to mammals and birds, larger animals live longer. While some shrews live for little more than a year, mammals at the other end of the weight spectrum can live for centuries.

The bowhead whale, which can grow up to 18 meters long or about the length of a bowling alley, has been estimated to have been over for over 200 years. Some bowheads have lived so long that they still contain Victorian harpoons used to try and kill them over a century ago.

While the relationship between size and lifespan generally holds across mammals and birds, lifestyle can have an impact. For instance, flying animals generally live longer than their ground-dwelling relatives, with small bats living for much longer than rats and shrews of a similar size.

However, there are a few notable exceptions. Naked mole rats can live for around 30 years, while humans have used technological innovations and medicine to allow us to live for longer too. Previously, it had been thought that the miniature elephants fitted well with the overall pattern.

After diverging from the largest elephant to ever live, the straight-tusked elephant, it was thought that P. Falconeri would have shortened its lifespan as it dwarfed over the millennia it was isolated on what is now the island of Sicily.

‘Palaeoloxodon Falconeri is the smallest elephant ever to have existed, living on both Malta and Sicily,’ says Victoria. ‘At the time, we didn’t know if the area was one large island or an archipelago in the Mediterranean.

‘They are remarkable animals. They were around a meter tall, which is about the same size as a newborn African elephant but they were adults. As babies, they would only have been the size of a puppy.’

While little is known about the species’ life, it is assumed to have grown smaller through a process of miniaturization which is common to many island species due to a lack of resources, predators and competitor species. Looking at the overall trend in life history for mammals, it was estimated that an elephant of this size would live for at least 26 years.

The new study analyzed the growth of teeth, bones and tusks from Spingallo Cave, near Siracusa in southeast Sicily, to provide a more accurate estimate, which shows the species is an exception to the rule.

Professor Antonietta Rossa, from the University of Catania, Sicily, where the fossils are housed and coauthor of the study, says, ‘Spinagallo Cave is outstanding for the number of remains. This abundance of bones provides enough material for analyzing specimens of different ages and growth stages.’

Good things come to those who wait

The researchers found that across the different types of remains studied, P. Falconeri grew very slowly. Though elephants are generally already slow-growing, this species was even more so. While most species grow rapidly as an infant before slowing down after reaching adulthood, the Sicilian elephants grew at a fairly constant rate throughout their entire lives.

Even the oldest specimens grew only two millimeters a year more slowly than the youngest, while the difference for African bush elephants is around a centimeter a year.

However, this slow growth was compensated for by a much longer developmental period, with some bones not showing signs of adulthood even by the age of 22. The age of sexual maturity was similarly delayed, with all evidence pointing towards 15 years in P. Falconeri, compared with 12 years in living African elephants.

‘Given the later age of sexual maturity, their gestation period may also have been longer or similar to large African elephants,’ says Victoria. ‘And of course, those newborns would also take a long time to grow up, leading to long generation times.’

Researchers have suggested that this long period of development could have resulted from a lack of predators in Sicily. This would allow the elephant to grow more slowly as there was little danger of infants being hunted.

As it was less likely to die, this meant that there was less evolutionary pressure for P. Falconeri to grow up fast and reproduce. As a result, selection pressures instead drove it to grow slowly, allowing more time for learning and development over decades rather than years.

However, this slow development would have put it at a disadvantage when it came to sudden changes. Longer development means that evolution acts more slowly, requiring many generations to make significant changes.

‘By taking the inferred age of sexual maturity we can see their gestation period may have been similar to large African elephants,’ Victoria says. 

‘Even though it’s a lot smaller than a full-sized elephant, it’s behaving like a very large animal in terms of its generation time which makes it more vulnerable to extinction. 

‘Island populations are already vulnerable to extinction because they are often unique and not very numerous so it all adds up.’

The period in which P. Falconeri lived was one of dramatic environmental and climatic change, with Sicily changing tectonic activity and sea level. This could have put even more pressure on the elephant’s limited resources and may have led to its extinction around 400,000 years ago.

Hercules Head Unearthed in 2,000-Year-Old Shipwreck Treasure Trove

Hercules Head Unearthed in 2,000-Year-Old Shipwreck Treasure Trove

The Roman ship is thought to have sunk near Antikythera, a Greek island in the southern Aegean Sea in the second quarter of the first century B.C. While divers first found several stunning artifacts from the wreck 100 years ago, a wealth of new treasures has been discovered after experts created the first phases of a precise digital 3D model of the shipwreck.

Scientists made the model using thousands of underwater photographs of the seafloor site in a technique known as photogrammetry.

More discoveries are likely on the way thanks to this new model, but this is not the only thing that helped experts to uncover the treasure trove.

An earthquake is thought to have occurred sometime after the sinking of the ship, and archaeologists had to remove several large boulders that were strewn over the wreck as a result of the event.

In May and June this year, experts used underwater lifting equipment of pressurized airbags to remove the boulders, some of which weighed about 9.5 tons (8.5 metric tonnes).

After this, the huge wealth of treasure that was contained within what was once the ship’s hull was then revealed. While carrying this out, the marine archaeologists were reportedly working at depths of 50 meters so they could access the areas that had never been explored before.

The ship is thought to have once been around 180ft long, but experts say the wooden hull has since rotted away. Amongst the treasure was a huge marble head of a sculpture likely depicting the Greek/Roman demigod Hercules.

Prof Lorenz Baumer, an archaeologist at the University of Geneva, said: “It’s a most impressive marble piece. “It is twice lifesize, has a big beard, a very particular face and short hair. There is no doubt it is Hercules.”

Experts suspect that this head was once attached to a sculpture with the rest of Hercules’ body that was first found by divers way back in 1900.

During this time, they also discovered the Antikythera Mechanism – a mechanical model of the sun, moon and planets that is now on display in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Prof Lorenz Baumer said that both finds were likely made in the same area of the ship. He told Live Science: “The site is quite big.

“It’s some 50 meters [164 feet] across, and it’s covered by rocks. It’s possible that [more fragments] are hiding in the rocks, but they could be anywhere.”

The ship also contained Greek artworks, several bronze statues, and over 38 marble sculptures. The research team also discovered two human teeth inside marine deposits and fragments of copper and wood.

Archaeologists had to remove several large boulders that were strewn over the wreck

Now, experts are hoping to analyze isotopes in the enamel of the teeth as this can help uncover the geochemistry of the environment at the time that the teeth were formed.

This can help to reveal things such as a person’s diet or place of origin, and they can also contain DNA.

Stratos Charchalakis, the mayor of Kythira, said: “The ship could have gone down anywhere but, that said, every discovery puts us on the map and is exciting.

“The truth is that for an island with just 30 inhabitants, the wreck has had a huge social and economic impact. It has helped keep its shops and people going.”

2,000-Year-Old Measuring Table Points to Location of Ancient Jerusalem Market

2,000-Year-Old Measuring Table Points to Location of Ancient Jerusalem Market

A rare Second Temple measuring table was recently discovered in the City of David, and it is causing archaeologists to identify an ancient Jerusalem square as the city’s 2,000-year-old central market, according to Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Ari Levy.

In conversation with The Times of Israel on Monday, Levy said the stone table would have belonged to the market’s manager, or agoranomos, who was in charge of the weights and measures of commodities traded in the shuk.

The measuring table was found in a broad paved central square still undergoing excavation, alongside dozens of stone measurement weights. The sum of the parts has led the IAA archaeologists to conclude that this area of the Stepped Street, a paved 2,000-year-old pilgrims’ path that connects the Siloam Pool with the Temple Mount, would have served as ancient Jerusalem’s main market.

“The volume standard table we’ve found, as well as the stone weights discovered nearby, support the theory that this was the site of vast trade activity, and perhaps this may indicate the existence of a market,” said Levy in a press release.

Today, the path is five meters (16 feet) under ground. Archaeologists and historians call the road that is being excavated under an East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood the “Stepped Street.” In more popular parlance it is called the “Pilgrims’ Path” or the “Pilgrimage Road.”

In total, the path stretches some 600 meters long and is eight meters wide. Both sides of the street were lined with shops that were likely two stories high, said Levy during a recent visit there.

It was built starting in 20 CE by the Romans and completed under the governance of Pontius Pilate in about 30 CE. A recent study of 100 coins collected under pavement at the site appears to confirm this dating.

But the Romans, in destroying Jerusalem in 70 CE, covered up all their hard work just 40 years later.

For the past decade, Jerusalem archaeologists have been excavating the dirt and debris that cover the near-mint condition Roman paving stones. Along the way, they’ve uncovered untold artifacts, such as this measuring table.

Only two other such measuring tables have been discovered in Israel: One in the 1970s in the Old City of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter by Dr. Nahman Avigad, and the second during excavations in Shuafat in northern Jerusalem in 2007 under Dr. Rahel Bar-Natan.

However, contemporary measuring tables are found in city centers throughout the Roman Empire that used the same system of measures for the volume of the liquids — likely olive oil or wine — as the one found in the City of David find, said Levy.

The fact that the measuring table is made of stone has nothing to do with Temple purity, said archaeologist Levy. Asked who this market manager would have been — Roman or Jewish — Levy laughed and said, “Until we find his identification card, we can’t know.”

The role of the market manager or agoranomos (the Greek agora connotes a central public space), well documented in antiquity, arrived in the Land of Israel during the Hellenistic period.

It is mentioned in the Book of Maccabees, according to an entry: “In Jerusalem, the controversy between Onias, the high priest, and Simeon in regard to the office of the agoranomia was one of the causes of the civil war in the early 70s of the second century b.c.e.” Roman Jewish historian Josephus also makes reference to the office — and the Jerusalem square where he would have sat.

In the Talmud it is described that whereas in Jerusalem prior to the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the market manager would have only been in charge of weights and measures, the office in Babylon expanded to assigning the value of the foodstuffs.

The location of the measuring table and the additional finds of weights in the still partially covered square suggest to the archaeologists that the large paved open area, found in the middle of the path leading to the Temple Mount, served as “the focal point of trade and commerce,” according to an IAA press release announcing the find.

Preliminary research into the table is being conducted by archaeologist Prof. Ronny Reich, an expert in ancient Jerusalem who was among the first to find portions of the sewer system which led to the discovery of the Pilgrims’ Path.

Describing the piece of the stone table top, Reich said in the press release, “We see two of the deep cavities remain, each with a drain at its bottom.

The drain at the bottom could be plugged with a finger, filled with a liquid of some type, and once the finger was removed, the liquid could be drained into a container, therefore determining the volume of the container, using the measurement table as a uniform guideline. This way, traders could calibrate their measuring instruments using a uniform standard.”

The dozens of weights discovered in the town square and the surrounding area were made from flat stones of different weights and sizes. Reich said some 90 percent of weights of this type come from excavations of Second Temple period sites in Jerusalem and are a uniquely Jerusalem weight class.

According to Levy, the accompanying stone measure weights are typical to the period in Jerusalem. “The fact that there were city-specific weights at the site indicates the unique features of the economy and trade in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, possibly due to the influence of the Temple itself,” he said in the press release.

The City of David’s underground Stepped Street is still being excavated, in two shifts a day, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and will not be fully open to the public for several years, said Levy.

Priceless Ancient Bronze Statues Unearthed in Etruscan Baths of San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy 

Priceless Ancient Bronze Statues Unearthed in Etruscan Baths of San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy

An “exceptional” trove of bronze statues preserved for thousands of years by mud and boiling water has been discovered in a network of baths built by the Etruscans in Tuscany.

The 24 partly submerged statues, which date back 2,300 years and have been hailed as the most significant find of their kind in 50 years, include a sleeping ephebe lying next to Hygeia, the goddess of health, with a snake wrapped around her arm.

Archaeologists came across the statues during excavations at the ancient spa in San Casciano dei Bagni, near Siena. The modern-day spa, which contains 42 hot springs, is close to the ancient site and is one of Italy’s most popular spa destinations.

Close to the ephebe (an adolescent male, typically 17-18 years old) and Hygeia was a statue of Apollo and a host of others representing matrons, children and emperors.

Believed to have been built by the Etruscans in the third century BC, the baths, which include fountains and altars, were made more opulent during the Roman period, with emperors including Augustus frequenting the springs for their health and therapeutic benefits.

Alongside the 24 bronze statues, five of which are almost a metre tall, archaeologists found thousands of coins as well as Etruscan and Latin inscriptions. Visitors are said to have thrown coins into the baths as a gesture for good luck for their health.

Massimo Osanna, the director general of museums at the Italian culture ministry, said the relics were the most significant discovery of their kind since two full-size Greek bronzes of naked bearded warriors were found off the Calabrian coast near Riace in 1972. “It is certainly one of the most significant discoveries of bronzes in the history of the ancient Mediterranean,” Osanna told the Italian news agency Ansa.

The excavation project at San Casciano dei Bagni has been led by the archaeologist Jacopo Tabolli since 2019. In August, several artefacts, including fertility statues that were thought to have been used as dedications to the gods, were found at the site. Tabolli, a professor at the University for Foreigners of Siena, described the latest discovery as “absolutely unique”.

The Etruscan civilisation thrived in Italy, mostly in the central regions of Tuscany and Umbria, for 500 years before the arrival of the Roman Republic. The Etruscans had a strong influence on Roman cultural and artistic traditions.

Initial analysis of the 24 statues, believed to have been made by local craftsmen between the second and first centuries BC, as well as countless votive offerings discovered at the site, indicates that the relics perhaps originally belonged to elite Etruscan and Roman families, landowners, local lords and Roman emperors.

Tabolli told Ansa that the hot springs, rich in minerals including calcium and magnesium, remained active until the fifth century, before being closed down, but not destroyed, during Christian times. The pools were sealed with heavy stone pillars while the divine statues were left in the sacred water.

The treasure trove was found after archaeologists removed the covering. “It is the greatest store of statues from ancient Italy and is the only one whose context we can wholly reconstruct,” said Tabolli.

The recently appointed Italian culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, said the “exceptional discovery” confirms once again that “Italy is a country full of huge and unique treasures”.

The relics represent an important testament to the transition between the Etruscan and Roman periods, with the baths being considered a haven of peace.

“Even in historical epochs in which the most awful conflicts were raging outside, inside these pools and on these altars the two worlds, the Etruscan and Roman ones, appear to have coexisted without problems,” said Tabolli.

Excavations at the site will resume next spring, while the winter period will be used to restore and conduct further studies on the relics.

The artefacts will be housed in a 16th-century building recently bought by the culture ministry in the town of San Casciano. The site of the ancient baths will also be developed into an archaeological park.

“All of this will be enhanced and harmonised, and could represent a further opportunity for the spiritual growth of our culture, and also of the cultural industry of our country,” said Sangiuliano.

Ancient Alutiiq Weavings: Uncovering 3,000-Year-Old Artifacts in Alaska

Ancient Alutiiq Weavings: Uncovering 3,000-Year-Old Artifacts in Alaska

During excavations of an ancestral sod house on the shore of Karluk Lake, Kodiak Island, Alaska, archaeologists uncovered rare fragments of woven grass artifacts estimated to be 3,000 years old.

The fragments, which appear to be pieces of mats, are the oldest well-documented examples of Kodiak Alutiiq/Sugpiaq weaving.

“We were excavating a sod house beside Karluk Lake as part of a broader study to understand how Alutiiq people used Kodiak’sinterior,” said Saltonstall. “When we reached the floor, we discovered that the house had burned and collapsed.

The walls of the structure, which were lined with wood, fell into the building and covered a portion of the floor. This sealed the floor quickly and limited burning. As we removed the remains of the walls, we were surprised and excited to find fragments of charred weaving.

Weaving is a long-practiced Alutiiq art

It looks like the house had grass mats on the floor. The pieces covered about a two-meter area at the back of the house, perhaps in an area for sleeping,” Alutiiq Museum Curator of Archaeology Patrick Saltonstall explained in a press release.

Weaving is a long-practiced Alutiiq art, but one that is difficult to document archaeologically as fiber artifacts are fragile and rarely preserved.

The Alutiiq Museum’s extensive archaeological collections contain grass and spruce root baskets that are as much as 600 years old but nothing older.

The house that produced the weavings was radiocarbon-dated to about 3,000 years old. The style of the structure and artifacts found in association support this determination.

Detail of ca. 3,000-year-old grass matting from ancestral Alutiiq house by Karluk Lake

“Our ancestors likely worked with plant fibers for millennia, from the time they arrived on Kodiak 7500 years ago,” said April Laktonen Counceller, the museum’s executive director.

“It makes sense. Plants are abundant and easily harvested, and they are excellent materials for making containers, mats, and other useful items. It’s just very hard to document this practice. This wonderful find extends our knowledge of Alutiiq weaving back an additional 2400 years.”

Close inspection of the woven fragments shows that their makers laid down long parallel strands of grass (the warp) and then secured them with perpendicular rows of twining (the weft)spaced about an inch apart.

This technique created an open weave, also found in historic examples of Alutiiq grass matting. Small fragments of more complicated braiding may represent the finished edge of a mat.

The field crew carefully lifted the fragile woven fragments off the floor of the sod house and placed them in a specially made box for transport back to Kodiak and the Alutiiq Museum’slaboratory.

Here, they will be preserved, documented, and made available for study as a loan from Koniag—the regional Alaska Native Corporation for Kodiak Alutiiq people and the sponsor of the research. The corporation owns the land on which the excavation took and has been generously supporting archaeological studies in the region.

“Discoveries like these highlight our Alutiiq people’s innovation and resilience,” said Koniag President Shauna Hegna.“Koniag is humbled to partner with the Alutiiq Museum on critical projects like this.”

30 Million-Year-Old Praying Mantis Perfectly Preserved In A Piece Of Amber

30 Million-Year-Old Praying Mantis Perfectly Preserved In A Piece Of Amber

In a remarkable natural process, insects and even mammals can be preserved in time for all eternity by becoming encased in tree sap that eventually turns into amber.

In the hit movie Jurassic Park, a scientific character was able to draw dinosaur blood from mosquitoes imprisoned in amber, drawing attention to and popularizing this true phenomena.

A little praying mantis that was found in a piece of amber in 2016 was sold by Heritage Auctions for $6,000 in pristine condition. Somewhere in the Dominican Republic, the amazing object was found.

According to Heritage Auctions, this object is thought to be from the Oligocene epoch, making it somewhere between 23 million and 33.9 million years old. The auction description from a related sale reads as follows:

“The Praying Mantis, one of the rarest and most prized inclusions of all, is present in this specimen. Due to their terrified fight to escape the relentless ooze, these aggressive insects are typically deformed or without limbs when discovered.

The color patterns on this specimen’s short legs, tiny arm spikes, delicate antennae, and enormous, complex eyes are all perfectly maintained, though.

The bug, which is around 12 inches long and is enclosed in a gorgeous polished golden nugget that measures 134 by 114 by 1 inch, is a remarkable example of ancient life. The item is particularly impressive since it also includes three sizable, well-preserved click beetles, making it a museum-quality specimen.

Similar methods can be used in Amber to preserve animals. Researchers discovered a newborn snake’s preserved bones last year that they estimated to be 99 million years old.

One of the scientists who examined the snake specimen is Michael Caldwell, a professor in the biological sciences division at the University of Alberta in Canada. The specimen was given the name Xiaophis myanmarensis by Caldwell and his team.

“Despite being a young snake, it has highly distinctive characteristics on the top of the vertebrae that have never been observed in any fossil snakes of its species.

According to Caldwell, Xiaophis belongs to a group of snakes that appear to be extremely old near the base of the snake family tree.

“Amber gathers whatever it comes in contact with, acting almost like super glue, and keeps it for a hundred million years. It is obvious the snake was living in a forest because, when it captured the young snake, it also caught the forest floor with the bugs, plants, and insect dung, the man stated.

California Gold Mine Reveals 40 Million-Year-Old Tools Were Found

California Gold Mine Reveals 40 Million-Year-Old Tools Were Found

At Table Mountain and other locations in the gold mining region around the middle of the nineteenth century, miners discovered hundreds of stone artifacts and human bones buried deep inside their tunnels. Experts claim that these bones and artifacts were found embedded in layers from the Eocene epoch (38-55 million years).

The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California, written by Dr. J. D. Whitney, the leading government geologist in California, was published in 1880 by Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Comparative Zoology.

However, because the information went against accepted Darwinist theories on human origins, it was excluded from scholarly discussions. In 1849, gold was found in the gravels of old riverbeds on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, drawing large numbers of rowdy adventurers to settlements including Brandy City, Last Chance, Lost Camp, You Bet, and Poker Flat.

Initially, solitary miners searched for flakes and nuggets among the gravel that had made their way into the present-day streambeds. Auriferous (gold-bearing) gravels were quickly washed from hillsides by high-pressure water jets while other gold-mining businesses bored holes into mountainside deposits and followed the gravel deposits wherever they led.

The miners found hundreds of stone items as well as human fossils. The scientific community received the most crucial information from Dr. J. D. Whitney.

Artifacts from hydraulic mining and surface deposits were of questionable age, while deep mine shaft and tunnel artifacts could be more accurately dated. According to J. D. Whitney, the geological evidence revealed that the auriferous gravels were at least Pliocene in age.

However, according to modern geologists, some of the gravel layers are Eocene in origin. In Tuolumne County’s Table Mountain, several holes were dug, traveling through thick strata of latite, a basaltic volcanic substance, before arriving at the gravels containing gold.

In other instances, the tunnels stretched hundreds of feet horizontally beneath the latite top. The age of findings from the gravels directly above the bedrock might be between 33.2 and 55 million years old, and those from other gravels could be between 9 and 55 million years old.

According to William B. Holmes, a physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, “If Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of testimony with which he was confronted.” Or, to put it another way, the theory had to be rejected if the evidence did not support it, which is exactly what happened.

The Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, still has some of the items Whitney mentioned on the exhibit. Darwinism and other isms affected how archaeological evidence was handled in Hueyatlaco, Mexico.

Archaeologists working under the direction of Cynthia Irwin-Williams found stone tools there in the 1970s that were associated with bones from butchered animals.

A group of geologists, including Virginia Steen-McIntyre, dated the location. The age of the site was established using four different techniques: stratigraphic analysis, zircon fission track dating on volcanic layers above the artifact layers, tephra hydration dating of volcanic crystals found in volcanic layers above the artifact layers, and uranium-series dates on butchered animal bones.

The reason the archaeologists were hesitant to put an age on the site was because they thought that (1) no humans were around 250,000 years ago anyplace on the earth, and (2) no humans visited North America until at most 15,000 or 20,000 years ago.

At Table Mountain and other locations in the gold mining region around the middle of the nineteenth century, miners discovered hundreds of stone artifacts and human bones buried deep inside their tunnels.

1600-Year-Old Roman Shipwreck Found in “Perfect” Condition in Spain

1600-Year-Old Roman Shipwreck Found in “Perfect” Condition in Spain

In 117 AD, at the time of Caesar Trajan’s death, the Roman Empire had reached its territorial peak, stretching across the Mediterranean Sea to North Africa and Western Asia. And the Romans used ships for much of the things that were sold to or bought from their distant colonies.

As a result, shipwrecks in Mediterranean Sea waters from the Roman era are common. Now another Roman cargo shipwreck, known as the Ses Fontanelles, has been found just off one of the busiest beaches in Mallorca, Spain reports The Guardian.

Dated to the 4th century AD, this incredibly well-preserved Roman cargo ship was carrying hundreds of amphorae of wine, olives, oil, and garum (fermented fish sauce). During a stopover at Mallorca, en route from southwest Spain to Italy, the ship anchored in the Bay of Palma when ferocious waves came and swallowed the vessel, burying it under the shallow seabed.

Project Arqueomallornauta and the Roman Cargo Ship

The Roman cargo shipwreck was first spotted in the summer of 2019. The ship was measured to be roughly 12 meters (39 feet) long.

Particularly surprising was the fact that this ancient shipwreck lay 50 meters (164 feet) from a very busy beach, with its contents only 2 meters (6.5 feet) below sea level. This very touristy beach just off the Balearics welcomes millions of visitors every year, but shockingly, none of the shipwreck artefacts were ever touched after the ship sank.

In the Guardian article Jaume Cardell, the head of archaeology at the Consell of Mallorca said, “The aim is to preserve everything there and all the information it contains, and that couldn’t be done in single emergency intervention. That’s where the project Arqueomallornauta comes in: it’s about recovering and preserving both the wreck and its historical cargo.

This isn’t just about Mallorca; in the whole western Mediterranean, there are very few wrecks with such a singular cargo.”

Researchers from the universities of Barcelona, Cadiz, and the Balearic Islands signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Consell of Mallorca for an inter-university 3-year project called Arqueomallornauta, which will be active till 2023.

The thrust of the project is “analyzing maritime traffic in Majorca in Late Antiquity through underwater findings” as per a press release by the University of Cadiz.

Late Antiquity, or the period between 284 and 700 AD, coincides roughly with the resolution of the Roman Empire’s crisis of the 3rd century, its collapse at the hands of the barbaric tribes, and the early Muslim conquests.

The first part of this MoU was put into action between November 2021, and February 2022, with the excavation of the contents of the ship’s cargo.

The finds were described as “…frankly exceptional, since they have made it possible to fully discover the cargo of the ship, which sank in the middle of the 4th century AD, in an excellent state of conservation,” said the research team.

This exceptional Roman cargo ship finds will shed new light on the condition of the Mediterranean in the 4th century and provide insights into the lives of crew members of such ships.

Just consider these artefacts found on the Mallorca Roman cargo shipwreck: a leather shoe, a rope shoe, a cooking pot, an oil lamp, and a carpenter’s drill (the fourth ever found in this entire region).

There were no human remains of the boat’s crew, however, which suggests that they might have made it to the coast or were swept away by the waves.

An Unparalleled State of Preservation

The best part? The sand created a natural barrier against oxygen, allowing for incomparable preservation of the boat’s organic materials. “Things have been so perfectly preserved that we have found bits of textile, a leather shoe and an espadrille.

The most surprising thing about the boat is just how well preserved it is – even the wood of the hull … It’s wood that you can knock – like it’s from yesterday,” said Dr Miguel Ángel Cau, an archaeologist at the University of Barcelona.

“It’s important in terms of naval architecture because there are very few ancient boats that are as well preserved as this one,” added Dr Darío Bernal-Casasola, an archaeologist at the University of Cádiz. “There are no complete Roman boats in Spain.”

He also notes that the amphorae are still so well preserved that the remains of the contents, the structure of the jar, and the inscriptions on them all remain perfectly intact, calling it an “improbable subaquatic archaeological hat-trick.”

Human Lives Illuminated: The Trading Elite and the Crew

Historian Enrique García Riaza from the University of the Balearic Islands made it clear that this wreck is proof of how important the Balearic archipelago was to the Roman Empire, particularly as a staging post between the Italian and Spanish parts of the Mediterranean.

The elites of the Balearic would have had extensive social and economic relationships with the elites of places like Cartagena and Tarragona.

The crew of the ship were likely Roman pagans, evidenced by the pagan symbol of the moon goddess Diana on an oil lamp found on the wreck. However, some of the ship’s amphorae were imprinted with Christian seals. This would mean that the crew itself was pagan but that the ship carried Christian cargo.

Once the hull of Mallorca’s latest Roman cargo ship is recovered, the plan is to put the ship and its cargo on display, for everyone to see. For the same purpose, conservationists and specialists are being invited to prepare a special report.

The archaeologists are particularly grateful because they acknowledge how easily this find fell into their laps, and the state of preservation only suggests that this is a once in a lifetime find.