Ancient news stories

Egyptian Solar Boat Damaged During Restoration
23rd August 2017 | | Ancient

A Japanese-Egyptian team has been working painstakingly since 2010 to lift, restore, and reconstruct the wooden solar boat, which was buried around 4,500 years ago as part of Khufu’s burial rites, intended for use in the afterlife.  About 745 out of 1,264 pieces of the boat have been removed so far from the excavation pit. One of the boat’s beams was damaged by a malfunctioning crane.

Ancient Earth’s Hot Interior Created a Graveyard of Continents
23rd August 2017 | Ancient, Earth

Plate tectonics has shaped the Earth’s surface for billions of years.  Continents and oceanic crust have pushed and pulled on each other, continually rearranging the planet’s facade.  As two massive plates collide, one can give way and slide under the other in a process called subduction.  The subducted slab then slips down through the Earth’s viscous mantle like a flat stone through a pool of honey.   Geologists at MIT have found that this density boundary was much less pronounced in the ancient Earth’s mantle 3 billion years ago, and the researchers note that the ancient Earth harbored a mantle that was as much as 200 degrees Celsius hotter than it is today.

Wild Sheep Grazed Jordan’s Black Desert 14,500 Years Ago
23rd August 2017 | Ancient, Animal Life

Excavations of architecture and associated deposits left by hunter-gatherers in the Black Desert in eastern Jordan have revealed bones from wild sheep known as mouflon – a species previously not identified in this area in the Late Pleistocene. According to the team of University of Copenhagen archaeologists, who led the excavations, the discovery is further evidence that the region often seen as a ‘marginal zone’ was capable of supporting a variety of resources, including a population of wild sheep 14,500 years ago. These bones coincide with petroglyphs containing what appear to be horned sheep images found in the Black Desert in November 2016.

Hellenistic Temple Discovered in Jordan
23rd August 2017 | | Ancient

A Hellenistic temple has been discovered in Umm Qais, around 75 miles north of Amman, according to a report from The Jordan Times.  A team from Yarmouk University discovered the temple along with a water network. The temple was built during the Hellenistic era (332-63 BC) and went on to be reused during the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras.

Early Humans May Have Lived Through a Supervolcano Eruption in Sumatra
23rd August 2017 | | Ancient, Earth

The eruption of a supervolcano is an extremely powerful, but also a very rare event. The first happened 25 million years ago, long before humans ever evolved. However, the last happened just 71,000 years ago, when Toba, located on the island of Sumatra, blew up.  The caldera of Toba, a hole visible even from space, formed when the volcano collapsed during the eruption. An estimated 1,700 cubic-miles of rock, a volume comparable to almost 3 million Empire State Buildings, were displaced by the eruption.

Hidden River Once Flowed Beneath Ancient Antarctic Ice
22nd August 2017 | Ancient, Earth

Using sediment cores, scientists from Rice University have determined that as recently as 15,000 years ago, the area of the western Ross Sea was covered by thick ice that later retreated hundreds of miles inland to its current location.  Maps created from state-of-the-art sonar data collected by the National Science Foundation research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer revealed how the ice retreated during a period of global warming after Earth’s last ice age. In several places, the maps show ancient water courses—not just a river system, but also the subglacial lakes that fed it.

Oldest Examples of “Tree of Life” Motifs Discovered in Domuztepe Mound, Turkey
22nd August 2017 | | Ancient

Archaeologists have unearthed vessels portraying “Tree of Life” motifs in the Domuztepe Mound region of the settlement of Kahramanmaras.  Investigation has covered some very significant artifacts. Dr. Halil Tekin stated that the most fascinating find is undoubtedly the early examples of a tree motif, known as the “tree of life” in ancient Near East archaeology. “The origin of this tree, which has become the Christmas tree in the Christian world throughout time, is here in Mesopotamia. The earliest known example of it is in Domuztepe, from around 7000 BCE period,” Tekin said, pointing out the cultural significance of the Tree of Life motifs. “It is not an ordinary tree. It is related to a faith system, and a burial tradition.”

Rock Art Rituals: Namib Desert Engravings Depict Ancient Initiation for Girls
22nd August 2017 | | Ancient

When it is carefully examined, rock art in the Namib Desert may shine light on forgotten rituals and practices from thousands of years ago. One particularly interesting feature appears to show ancient initiation rites meant to help young girls pass into womanhood. But you may not catch that view with your first glance of what appears to be a dancing female antelope. The representation of that female antelope, known as a kudu, has been interpreted as a symbol of girls learning how to behave as women in a hunter-gatherer society dwelling in the Namib Desert about 3000 years ago.

Scandinavia’s Oldest Cup Mark Rocks Found, Dated to 3,000 BCE
22nd August 2017 | Ancient
Archaeologists have made a sensational discovery during an archaeological excavation on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea: two complete stones with cup mark stone carvings dating back to the early Stone Age.  This makes them the oldest known such cup mark petroglyphs in Scandinavia by about 1,200 years.  The carvings contain figures and symbols which have been cut, chipped, and ground, into the stone and were regarded as typical of the Bronze Age–the period following the Stone Age.  Many archaeologists suspected that they were in use long before this, and now they have the first evidence to prove it.
Italian Library Fire Kills 3, Destroys Priceless Renaissance Books and Galileo Letters
22nd August 2017 | | Ancient, Misc.

Italian magistrates have opened an inquiry into the cause of a fire that gutted an aristocrat’s library in the southern city of Cosenza on Saturday, 19 August, killing three people and destroying ‘priceless’ works by the Renaissance philosopher Bernardino Telesio and letters to Galileo Galilei.  The leading Corriere della Sera newspaper described the private museum housing the collection of the Bilotti Ruggi D’aragona family as the most important library in southern Italy.  Telesio was once hailed by Francis Bacon, the English father of empiricism, as “the first of the moderns” among philosophers for his development of scientific method based on observation.

Lost Mountain of the Gods Discovered in Colombia
22nd August 2017 | | Ancient

Peña de Juaica – Penis of Juaica – (pronounced: why-ka) is a remote and legendary mountain situated between the municipalities of Tabio and Tenjo at an altitude of 3,100 meters (10,170ft) above sea level. This dominant phallic sentinel which once guarded the rich agricultural territories of the pre-Colombian Muisca people who inhabited this territory. Known locally as La Puerto de Los Dioses – the Gateway of the Gods – this story recounts the recent discovery of the ancient gatekeepers.

6,000 year old Neolithic Remains Discovered in Istanbul
22nd August 2017 | Ancient
Archaeologists have unearthed Neolithic remains believed to be dating back to 6,000 years during a new metro line construction in central Istanbul.  Neolithic circular structures and urn type burials were discovered by the Istanbul Archaeology Museum experts at the construction site of the subway station in Besiktas district.  According to the experts, the discovery will reveal important information that would shed light on the history of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait separating the city’s Asian and European sides.
4,500 year old Trading Network Identified in Vietnam
22nd August 2017 | | Ancient

Archaeologists excavating a site in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta have discovered evidence for a previously unknown 4,500-year-old trading network. Led by Australian National University archaeologist Catherine Frieman, the team discovered stone axes at a site in a region which has no stone resources of its own.  They feel this demonstrates not only that artifacts were being moved around, but also shows evidence for a major trade network that included specialist toolmakers and technological knowledge.

Was an Eclipse Over Ancient Amarna the Beginning of its End?
21st August 2017 | | Ancient, Space

The ancient Egyptian civilization was wedded to the Sun, and yet extant records only ever mention the solar aspect as the giver and sustainer of life that shines brightly for all eternity. Sterling astronomers, the Egyptians, unlike the Mayans, never left us details of the times when the sun-god Ra briefly vanished from the sky at daytime. The lack of chronicles of eclipses by the inveterate and meticulous “sky watchers” is utterly baffling. But why would a rare occurrence such as a solar eclipse fail to find mention in their religious and cosmological texts?

Solar Eclipses Then and Now
21st August 2017 | Ancient, Space

Thought-provoking article in which the curator of the British Museum explores what the ancient people in Babylon and Mesopotamia thought of this celestial choreography phenomenon.  Although people remain separated by beliefs today as much as ever before, we share the basic human curiosity about our place in the universe and a thirst for knowledge. We’re lucky to live at a time when we can learn from so many other people, past and present. We have ever more information, and can better understand what it all means. We get to push back the fear, but keep the wonder.

How NYC’s Electrical Grid Handled Solar Eclipse of 1925
21st August 2017 | | Ancient, Space

The 2017 eclipse is an important chance to track the effects of an eclipse on solar power and learn lessons that will be useful in 2024, when another eclipse will sweep from Texas to Maine. But this isn’t the first time utilities have paid close attention to the grid during a solar eclipse. Back in 1925, the electrical companies serving New York City were interested in the eclipse that passed over Manhattan, and set out to measure its impact.

News stories covering history, archaeology, ancient Egypt, and mysteries of the past.