Tuesday, November 4, 2014

First Ever Video Shot Inside Amphipolis Tomb Released, Plus More Discoveries


The Greek Ministry of Culture has released the first ever video footage taken inside the Amphipolis tomb at Kasta Hill in northern Greece. The footage shows the meticulous work being carried out by archaeologists as they sort through tons of soil and debris to uncover marble walls and floors, and the stunning mosaic depicting the abduction of Persephone. 

In addition, the Greek Ministry has announced the discovery of parts of the Sphinxes’ wings and one of the missing heads belonging to a sphinx guarding the entrance to the tomb, which was found under collapsed slabs of floor in the third chamber.
Part of a sphinx’s wing found in the Amphipolis tomb
Part of a sphinx’s wing found in the Amphipolis tomb. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture
The head has been described as an “exceptional” work of art. It depicts a woman wearing some type of crown or hat, and with long curls falling over her left shoulder. Traces of red paint could be found on the sphinx’s hair.
One of the sphinx heads has now been found in the Amphipolis Tomb
One of the sphinx heads has now been found in the Amphipolis Tomb. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture.
Yesterday, archaeologists made another significant discovery – a marble door weighing 1.5 tons that belongs to the third chamber. The door measures 2.9 by 1.5 meters and is in good condition, apart from a section missing from the lower right portion.
Newly discovered marble door
Newly discovered marble door. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture
Several days ago, the Ministry made the disappointing announcement that the third chamber of the tomb is the last one, and what they had thought was a door leading into a fourth chamber was actually a place where a marble stanchion had been removed, providing further evidence that looting took place in antiquity.
However, in an exciting development, archaeologists have just uncovered a vault measuring 4 by 2.1 meters dug into the natural slate floor. It’s floor is sealed with limestone, which is partly intact. The vault is filled with soil but archaeologists have so far managed to dig out to a depth of 1.4 meters, although it appears to go much deeper. Could this be the final resting place of the tomb’s owner? Only time will tell.
Source: http://www.ancient-origins.net/

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mexico archaeologists reach end of Teotihuacan tunnel, find offering and 3 chambers beyond

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A yearslong exploration of a tunnel sealed almost 2,000 years ago at the ancient city of Teotihuacan yielded thousands of relics and the discovery of three chambers that could hold more important finds, Mexican archaeologists said Wednesday.
Project leader Sergio Gomez said researchers recently reached the end of the 340-foot (103-meter) tunnel after meticulously working their way down its length, collecting relics from seeds to pottery to animal bones.
A large offering found near the entrance to the chambers, some 59 feet (18 meters) below the Temple of the Plumed Serpent, suggests they could be the tombs of the city's elite.
"Because this is one of the most sacred places in all Teotihuacan, we believe that it could have been used for the rulers to ... acquire divine endowment allowing them to rule on the surface," Gomez said.
Unlike at other pre-Columbian ruins in Mexico, archaeologists have never found any remains believed to belong to Teotihuacan's rulers. Such a discovery could help shine light on the leadership structure of the city, including whether rule was hereditary.
"We have not lost hope of finding that, and if they are there, they must be from someone very, very important," Gomez said.
 
So far Gomez's team has excavated only about 2 feet (60 centimeters) into the chambers. A full exploration will take at least another year.
Initial studies by the National Institute of Anthropology and History show the tunnel functioned until around A.D. 250, when it was closed off.
Teotihuacan long dominated central Mexico and had its apex between 100 B.C. and A.D. 750. It is believed to have been home to more than 100,000 people, but was abandoned before the rise of the Aztecs in the 14th century.
Today it is an important archaeological site on the outskirts of Mexico City and a major tourist draw known for its broad avenues and massive pyramids.


Source: www.news.ne

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cursed Warship Revealed With Treasure Onboard


It was the largest and fiercest warship in the world, named the Mars for the Roman god of war, but it went up in a ball of flames in a brutal naval battle in 1564, consigning 800 to 900 Swedish and German sailors and a fortune in gold and silver coins to the bottom of the Baltic Sea (map).


Now, a few years after the ship's discovery, researchers have concluded that the one-of-a-kind ship is also the best preserved ship of its kind, representing the first generation of Europe's big, three-masted warships.
Naval historians know a lot about 17th-century ships, but very little about warships from the 16th century, said Johan Rönnby, a professor of maritime archaeology at Södertörn University in Sweden, who is studying the 197-foot-long (60 meter) wreck.
"It's a missing link," said Rönnby, whose work is funded in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society's Global Exploration Fund. The 1500s is an important period, he said, because it's when big three-masted warships started being built.
Researchers have found cargo from early warships called galleons—slightly later iterations of the type of vessel the Mars exemplifies. And they've recovered pieces of actual ships, including the English flagshipMary Rose, which sank during a battle in 1545. But never have they found something as well preserved as the Mars.
Rönnby and his team want to leave the Mars on the seafloor and instead use three-dimensional scans and photographs to share the wreck with the world.
Rönnby, with help from Richard Lundgren—part owner of Ocean Discovery, a company of professional divers that assists in maritime archaeology work—and others, has been piecing together photomosaics and scanning the wreck to produce 3-D reconstructions. With funding from the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, they are working this summer to complete their scans of the entire ship.
Bringing a ship out of the ocean is expensive, and it can cause significant harm to artifacts. The laser scans Lundgren and colleagues have taken are accurate to within 0.08 inches (2 millimeters)—more than enough to satisfy most researchers.
Using some relatively new tools and methods, archeologists now have a chance to reconstruct the last minutes of the ship and the souls onboard, Lundgren said, and gain some insight into how people behaved on a battlefield.
Finding the Mars
Treasure hunters, archaeologists, and history aficionados have sought the Mars over the years. But they were unsuccessful until the late spring of 2011, when a group of divers located one of maritime archaeology's greatest finds in 246 feet (75 meters) of water. (See "5 Shipwrecks Lost to Time That Archaeologists Would Love to Get Their Hands On.")
Legend has it that a specter rose from the inferno to guard the Mars, the pride of the Swedish navy, against ever being discovered.
The discovery was the culmination of a 20-year search by Lundgren, along with his brother Ingemar and their colleague Fredrik Skogh. The men had dreamed of finding the mighty Mars since making a childhood visit to a Stockholm museum housing another iconic Swedish warship, named the Vasa. Richard and Ingemar Lundgren became professional divers in part because of that dream.

War Machine
The Mars sank on May 31, 1564, off the coast of a Swedish island calledÖland (map). She came to rest on the seafloor tilted to her starboard, or right, side. Low levels of sediment, slow currents, brackish water, and the absence of a mollusk called a shipworm—responsible for breaking down wooden wrecks in other oceans in as little as five years—combined to keep the warship in remarkable condition.
What makes this find even more exciting, said Lundgren, is that the Marsdidn't sink because of a design flaw or poor seamanship.
"Mars was a functioning war machine that performed extremely well in battle," he explained. She sank loaded to the gills with cannons—even her crow's nests had guns—sailors, and all the accoutrements needed to run a ship built for war (including eight different kinds of beer).
This warship had "totally unheard of firepower" for her time, said Lundgren. And it's those cannons that played a role in her demise.

A Fiery End
The Mars went down while engaged with a Danish force allied with soldiers from a German city called Lübeck. The Swedes routed the Danes on the first day of battle, said Rönnby. So on the second day, the Germans decided to press their luck.
German forces began lobbing fireballs at the Mars and eventually succeeded in pulling alongside the burning ship so soldiers could board her. As gunpowder on the warship fueled the inferno, the heat became so intense that cannons began to explode, said Rönnby.
Those explosions eventually sank the warship. Legend, however, tells a slightly different story.
The Swedish kings at the time were busy trying to consolidate their position, Rönnby explained. "[But] the Catholic Church was a problem for the new kings because it was so powerful," he said. So in trying to diminish the church's power, monarchs like Erik XIV—who commissioned the Mars—would confiscate church bells, melt them down, and use the metal to make cannons for their new warships.
Legend has it that carrying those repurposed church bells doomed theMars to a watery grave. The warship carried either 107 or 173 cannons of many different sizes.
A Time Machine
"It's not just a ship, it's a battlefield," said Rönnby. Diving on the wreck, "you're very close to this dramatic fire on board, people killing each other, everything was burning and exploding," he said.
In fact, when Lundgren and colleagues brought a piece of the ship's hull to the surface, they noticed a charred scent wafting from the burnt wood.
"In the end, I think, that's the aim of archaeology—to discuss ourselves and the human aspects of a site," Rönnby said.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Has the mystery of the Lost Persian Army finally been solved?


The final resting place of a 50,000-strong Persian army which was swallowed up in a cataclysmic sandstorm in the Sahara Desert around 524 BC is one of the greatest mysteries in ancient history. Many, over the years, have claimed to have found the lost army, but most have been proven to be hoaxes. Now a Dutch archaeologists believes he has solved the mystery of what happened to the ill-fated army some 2,500 years ago. 

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Cambyses II, the oldest son of Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, sent his army to destroy the Oracle of Amun at Siwa Oasis after the priests there refused to legitimize his claim to Egypt. The army of 50,000 men entered Egypt’s western desert near Luxor but halfway through, a massive sandstorm sprang up and reportedly buried them all.

"A wind arose from the south, strong and deadly, bringing with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear," wrote Herodotus. 

Although many Egyptologists regard the story as a myth, many expeditions have taken place in search of the remains of the lost soldiers. Most came back completely empty-handed, while others claiming to have found the remains have been proven false.

In 2009, two Italian archaeologists announced that they located human remains, tools and weapons near Siwa Oasis in Egypt dating to the age in which the army disappeared. However, this too is questionable and has been dismissed by many scholars on the basis of the fact that they chose to announce them in a documentary film rather than a scientific journal. Furthermore, the two researchers also happen to be the filmmakers who produced five controversial African shockumentaries in the 1970s. 

The bones claimed by Italian archaeologists to be the remains of Cambyses' legendary army. It is highly questionable that the bones would have remained in a pile out in the open like this for 2,500 years if they were indeed the lost Persian army.

Professor Olaf Kaper, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, believes he knows what really happened to the lost army. “Some expect to find an entire army, fully equipped. However, experience has long shown that you cannot die from a sandstorm,” said Kaper, as reported by Sci-News. 

Professor Kaper argues that the lost army of Cambyses II did not disappear, but was defeated. According to Kaper, the army’s final destination was the Dakhla Oasis – the location of the troops of the Egyptian rebel leader Petubastis III.
“He ultimately ambushed the army of Cambyses II, and in this way managed from his base in the oasis to reconquer a large part of Egypt, after which he let himself be crowned Pharaoh in the capital, Memphis.”

Kaper maintains that the fate of the army remained unclear for such a long time because the Persian King Darius I, who ended the Egyptian revolt two years after Cambyses II’s defeat, attributed the embarrassing defeat of his predecessor to a sandstorm in order to save face, and this became the accepted account of what happened.

Excavations in the Dakhla Oasis have revealed titles of the Egyptian rebel leader Petubastis III carved on ancient temple blocks, which suggests that it was a stronghold at the start of the Persian period. Hopefully further work will be undertaken to follow up this promising lead, which may solve one of archaeology's biggest outstanding mysteries. 




Source: AO

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Archaeologists recreate Elixir of Long Life recipe from unearthed bottle


Beneath a construction site for a glassy, 22-story hotel in New York, archaeologists unearthed a history of drinking, eating and lodging, along with a tradition of consuming cure-alls and potions for good health, according to a report in DNA Info. The discovery included a two hundred-year-old glass bottle that once contained the “Elixir of Long Life”.  Now the research team have tracked down the original German recipe used to create the elixir for fending off death.


“We decided to engage in our own brand of experimental archaeology,” said Alyssa Loorya, the president of Chrysalis, a company regularly hired by the city to oversee excavation projects. Loorya enlisted researchers in Germany to track down the recipe in an old medical guide, which revealed that the potion contained ingredients such as aloe, which is anti-inflammatory, gentian root, which aids digestion, as well as rhubarb, zedoary, and Spanish saffron – ingredients still used by herbalists today.

The raw ingredients for an ‘Elixir of Long Life’. Photo credit: DNAinfo/Irene Plagianos In addition to the Elixir of Long Life, archaeologists also discovered two bottles of Dr Hostetters Stomach Bitters, a once-popular 19th century medicine, which contained a complex mixture of ingredients including Peruvian bark, which has malaria-fighting properties, and gum kino, a kind of tree sap that is antibacterial. Loorya and her team are have recreated both types of elixir, which they say taste very bitter. 

The search for the Elixir of Life has been the supreme quest for many.  In medieval times, there are accounts of the alchemists looking for the philosopher’s stone, believed to be required to create the elixir but also to convert lead to gold. Bernard Trevisan, an alchemist of the 15th century said that dropping the philosopher’s stone into mercurial water would create the elixir, and we have multiple cases of alchemists who claim to have found the Elixir of Life, including the infamous Cagliostro or Saint Germain. 

Ancient references to immortality, or extremely long life spans, can be traced back thousands of years. The 4,000-year-old Sumerian King’s List, for example, refer to rulers who reigned for tens of thousands of years. Even the Bible refers to individuals who lived for hundreds of years, prior to the ‘Great Flood’. 

Ancient myths and legends from numerous cultures around the world refer to special food or drink that were reserved for the ‘gods’ and kept them immortal. For the Greek gods it was ambrosia and nectar, in Zoroastrian and Vedic mythologies, we can see reference to a special drink known as Soma and Haoma respectively. In Egyptian mythology, Thoth and Hermes drank ‘white drops’ and ‘liquid gold’, which were said to keep them immortal. In Sumerian texts, we have references to the Ninhursag’s milk, which was drunk by the kings of ancient Sumer. In the Hindu religion, the gods would harness a milk called Amrita, a nectar that was collected and drunk by the gods to give them immortality, but forbidden for humans to drink. In Chinese mythology, we have the ‘peaches of immortality’. Are all these references simply the imagination of our ancient ancestors? Or were their cultures that really achieved significant longevity? Perhaps there is at least some truth behind the Elixir of Long Life… 


Source: AO

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ancient Man Used “Super-Acoustics” to Alter Consciousness (... and speak with the dead?)


A prehistoric necropolis yields clues to the ancient use of sound and its effect on human brain activity.
Researchers detected the presence of a strong double resonance frequency at 70Hz and 114Hz inside a 5,000-years-old mortuary temple on the Mediterranean island of Malta. The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground complex created in the Neolithic (New Stone Age) period as a depository for bones and a shrine for ritual use. A chamber known as "The Oracle Room" has a fabled reputation for exceptional sound behavior.
During testing, a deep male voice tuned to these frequencies stimulated a resonance phenomenon throughout the hypogeum, creating bone-chilling effects. It was reported that sounds echoed for up to 8 seconds. Archaeologist Fernando Coimbra said that he felt the sound crossing his body at high speed, leaving a sensation of relaxation. When it was repeated, the sensation returned and he also had the illusion that the sound was reflected from his body to the ancient red ochre paintings on the walls. One can only imagine the experience in antiquity: standing in what must have been somewhat odorous dark and listening to ritual chant while low light flickered over the bones of one's departed loved ones.
Sound in a Basso/Baritone range of 70 – 130 hz vibrates in a certain way as a natural phenomenon of the environment in the Hypogeum, as it does in Newgrange passage tomb, megalithic cairns and any stone cavity of the right dimensions. At these resonance frequencies, even small periodic driving forces can produce large amplitude oscillations, because the system stores vibrational energy. Echoes bounce off the hard surfaces and compound before they fade. Laboratory testing indicates that exposure to these particular resonant frequencies can have a physical effect on human brain activity.
In the publication from the conference on Archaeoacoustics which sparked the study, Dr. Paolo Debertolis reports on tests conducted at the Clinical Neurophysiology Unit at the University of Trieste in Italy: "…each volunteer has their own individual frequency of activation, …always between 90 and 120 hz. Those volunteers with a frontal lobe prevalence during the testing received ideas and thoughts similar to what happens during meditation, whilst those with occipital lobe prevalence visualized images." He goes on to state that under the right circumstances, "Ancient populations were able to obtain different states of consciousness without the use of drugs or other chemical substances."

Writing jointly, Anthropologist, Dr. Ezra Zubrow, Archaeologist and Psychologist, Dr. Torill Lindstrom state: "We regard it as almost inevitable that people in the Neolithic past in Malta discovered the acoustic effects of the Hypogeum, and experienced them as extraordinary, strange, perhaps even as weird and "otherworldly".
What is astounding is that five thousand years ago the builders exploited the phenomenon, intentionally using architectural techniques to boost these "super-acoustics". Glenn Kreisberg, a radio frequency spectrum engineer who was with the research group, observed that in the Hypogeum, "The Oracle Chamber ceiling, especially near its entrance from the outer area, and the elongated inner chamber itself, appears to be intentionally carved into the form of a wave guide."
Project organizer Linda Eneix points to other features: "The carving of the two niches which concentrate the effect of sound, the curved shape of the Oracle Chamber with its shallow "shelf" cut high across the back, the corbelled ceilings and concave walls in the finer rooms are all precursors of todays' acoustically engineered performance environments." She says, "If we can accept that these developments were not by accident, then it's clear that Ħal Saflieni's builders knew how to manipulate a desired human psychological and physiological experience, whether they could explain it or not."
Why?
It was demonstrated at the conference that special sound is associated with the sacred: from prehistoric caves in France and Spain to musical stone temples in India; from protected Aztec codexes in Mexico to Eleusinian Mysteries and sanctuaries in Greece to sacred Elamite valleys in Iran. It was human nature to isolate these hyper-acoustic places from mundane daily life and to place high importance to them because abnormal sound behavior implied a divine presence.
In the same conference publication Emeritus Professor Iegor Reznikoff suggests that Ħal Saflieni is a link between Palaeolithic painted caves and Romanesque chapels … "That people sang laments or prayers for the dead in the Hypogeum is certain, for a) it is a universal practice in all oral traditions we know, b) at the same period, around 3,000 BC, we have the Sumerian or Egyptian inscriptions mentioning singing to the Invisible, particularly in relationship with death and Second Life, and finally c) the resonance is so strong in the Hypogeum already when simply speaking, that one is forced to use it and singing becomes natural."
Drs. Lindstrom and Zubrow hint at a more hierarchal purpose for the manipulation of sound. "The Neolithic itself was characterized by cultures focused on new invention…enormous collective collaborations over extended periods of time. For these large-scale projects of agriculture and building, social cohesion and compliance was absolutely necessary."
The same people who created Ħal Saflieni also engineered a complete solar calendar with solstice and equinox sunrise alignments that still function today in one of their above-ground megalithic structures. There is no question that a sophisticated school of architectural, astronomic and audiologic knowledge was already in place a thousand years before the Egyptians started building pyramids. Eneix believes that Malta's Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is a remnant of a rich cultural tradition carried by the Neolithic migrations that spanned thousands of years and thousands of miles.
More information:
www.archaeoacoustics.org

Source: phys.org

Saturday, June 14, 2014

(Video) This Wasn't Supposed to be a Sphinx


Some archeologists have noticed that the human head of the Great Sphinx of Giza is too small for it's lion body. One theory is that the sphinx was originally not a sphinx at all. 




Source: Smithsonian 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Sumerian King List still puzzles historians after more than a century of research


Out of the many incredible artefacts that have been recovered from sites in Iraq where flourishing Sumerian cities once stood, few have been more intriguing that the Sumerian King List, an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer (ancient southern Iraq) from Sumerian and neighbouring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship. What makes this artefact so unique is the fact that the list blends apparently mythical pre-dynastic rulers with historical rulers who are known to have existed. 

The first fragment of this rare and unique text, a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet, was found in the early 1900s by German-American scholar Hermann Hilprecht at the site of ancient Nippur and published in 1906.  Since Hilprecht’s discovery, at least 18 other exemplars of the king’s list have been found, most of them dating from the second half of the Isin dynasty (c. 2017-1794 BCE.).  No two of these documents are identical. However, there is enough common material in all versions of the list to make it clear that they are derived from a single, "ideal" account of Sumerian history. 


Among all the examples of the Sumerian King List, the Weld-Blundell prism in the Ashmolean Museum cuneiform collection in Oxford represents the most extensive version as well as the most complete copy of the King List. The 8-inch-high prism contains four sides with two columns on each side. It is believed that it originally had a wooden spindle going through its centre so that it could be rotated and read on all four sides. It lists rulers from the antediluvian (“before the flood”) dynasties to the fourteenth ruler of the Isin dynasty (ca. 1763–1753 BC).
The list is of immense value because it reflects very old traditions while at the same time providing an important chronological framework relating to the different periods of kingship in Sumeria, and even demonstrates remarkable parallels to accounts in Genesis.
The ancient civilisation of Sumer
Sumer (sometimes called Sumeria), is the site of the earliest known civilization, located in the southernmost part of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, in the area that later became Babylonia and is now southern Iraq from around Baghdad to the Persian Gulf.
By the 3rd millennium BC, Sumer was the site of at least twelve separate city states: KishErechUr,SipparAkshak, Larak, NippurAdabUmmaLagashBad-tibira, and Larsa. Each of these states comprised a walled city and its surrounding villages and land, and each worshiped its own deity, whose temple was the central structure of the city. Political power originally belonged to the citizens, but, as rivalry between the various city-states increased, each adopted the institution of kingship
The Sumerian King List, records that eight kings reigned before a great flood. After the Flood, various city-states and their dynasties of kings temporarily gained power over the others. 
Sumer’s mythical past
The Sumerian King List begins with the very origin of kingship, which is seen as a divine institution: “the kingship had descended from heaven”.  The rulers in the earliest dynasties are represented as reigning fantastically long periods:
After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug. In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28800 years. Alaljar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years.
Some of the rulers mentioned in the early list, such as Etana, Lugal-banda and Gilgamesh, are mythical or legendary figures whose heroic feats are subjects of a series of Sumerian and Babylonian narrative compositions.
The early list names eight kings with a total of 241,200 years from the time when kingship “descended from heaven” to the time when "the Flood" swept over the land and once more "the kingship was lowered from heaven" after the Flood.
Interpretation of long reigns
The amazingly long tenure of the early kings has provoked many attempts at interpretation. At one extreme is the complete dismissal of the astronomically large figures as “completely artificial” and the view that they are unworthy of serious consideration.  At the other extreme, is the belief that the numbers have a basis in reality and that the early kings were indeed gods who were capable of living much longer than humans.

In between the two extremes is the hypothesis that the figures represent relative power, triumph or importance.  For example, in ancient Egypt, the phrase “he died aged 110” referred to someone who lived life to the full and who offered an important contribution to society.  In the same way, the extremely long periods of reign of the early kings may represent how incredibly important they were perceived as being in the eyes of the people. This doesn’t explain, however, why the periods of tenure later switched to realistic time periods.
Related to this perspective is the belief that although the early kings are historically unattested, this does not preclude their possible correspondence with historical rulers who were later mythicised.
Finally, some scholars have sought to explain the figures through a mathematical investigation and interpretation (e.g. Harrison, 1993).
Relation to Genesis
Some scholars (e.g. Wood, 2003) have drawn attention to the fact that there are remarkable similarities between the Sumerian King List and accounts in Genesis.  For example, Genesis tells the story of ‘the great flood’ and Noah’s efforts to save all the species of animals on Earth from destruction.  Likewise, in the Sumerian King List, there is discussion of a great deluge: “the flood swept over the earth.”
The Sumerian King List provides a list of eight kings (some versions have 10) who reigned for long periods of time before the flood, ranging from 18,600 to 43,200 years.  This is similar to Genesis 5, where the generations from Creation to the Flood are recorded. Interestingly, between Adam and Noah there are eight generations, just as there are eight kings between the beginning of kingship and the flood in the Sumerian King List.
After the flood, the King List records kings who ruled for much shorter periods of time. Thus, the Sumerian King List not only documents a great flood early in man’s history, but it also reflects the same pattern of decreasing longevity as found in the Bible - men had extremely long life spans before the flood and much shorter life spans following the flood (Wood, 2003).
The Sumerian King List truly is a perplexing mystery. Why would the Sumerians combine mythical rulers with actual historical rulers in one document? Why are there so many similarities with Genesis? Why were ancient kings described as ruling for thousands of years? These are just some of the questions that still remain unanswered after more than a century of research.

References:
The Sumerian King List – University of Oxford Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology: The Sumerian King List – by Bryant G. Wood The Sumerian king list: translation - The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature The Sumerian King List - by L.C. Geerts Reinvestigating the Antediluvian Sumerian King List – by R. K. Harrison The Sumerian King List – by Thorkild Jacobsen (The Oriental Institute of the University of California) 
Source: AO

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Metropolitan Museum releases thousands of ancient images to public domain


The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has just announced the release of more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images into the public domain from its world-renowned collection, according to a news release in Art Daily.

The now freely available images include thousands of ancient figurines, reliefs, paintings, manuscripts, and other artifacts spanning a period of 10,000 years, and covering all the great civilizations of our ancient past, as well as hundreds of cultures across the globe.

The new initiative called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC), means that images may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use without permission from the Museum and without a fee.  OASC was developed as a resource for students, educators, researchers, curators, academic publishers, non-commercial documentary filmmakers, and others involved in scholarly or cultural work. Prior to the establishment of OASC, the Metropolitan Museum provided images upon request, for a fee, and authorization was subject to strict terms and conditions. 

“Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain. I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here we feature just a tiny sample of the magnificent collection now available to the public.
Fragment of a Byzantine Floor Mosaic with a Personification of Ktisis (500–550 AD).

This fragment is an example of the exceptional mosaics created throughout the Early Byzantine world in the first half of the sixth century. The rod that she holds, the measuring tool for the Roman foot, identifies her as a personification of the abstract concept of "Ktisis," or Foundation, and symbolizes the donation, or foundation, of a building. Personifications of abstract ideas, as developed by the Stoic philosophers, remained popular in the Early Christian era. 
Neo-Assyrian relief carving (ca. 883–859 B.C.)

The palace rooms at Nimrud were decorated with large stone slabs carved in low relief, with brightly painted walls and ceilings and sculptural figures guarding the doorways. The throne room contained narrative scenes commemorating the military victories of Ashurnasirpal, while in other areas of the palace were protective figures and images of the king and his retinue performing ritual acts. On this relief slab the king Ashurnasirpal II wears the royal crown, a conical cap with a small peak and a long diadem. He holds a bow, a symbol of his authority, and a ceremonial bowl. Facing him, a eunuch, a "beardless one," carries a fly whisk and a ladle for replenishing the royal vessel. The peaceful, perhaps religious character of the scene is reflected in the dignified composure of the figures. 
Reproduction of the Bull Leapers Fresco, attributed to Emile Gilliéron père. Excavated 1901 in the Court of the Stone Spout, Knossos. (ca. 1425–1300 BC) 

The well-known fresco at Knossos of a leaping bull was one of at least three similar scenes. The figural portion is framed at top and bottom by elaborate borders of overlapping variegated rock patterns between narrow bands with dentil patterns. There is no evidence to support the restored rock pattern at the sides. Two white-skinned females and a red-skinned male engage the bull, which is rendered in a flying gallop. Bull sports had a long history in Minoan art stretching back to the third millennium B.C. When this reproduction was first exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum it was identified as a circus scene. More recently, scholars have suggested that the scene represents ritual practices, perhaps symbolizing human domination over nature. The original is in the Archaeological Museum of Herakleion, Crete.
Chakrasamvara Mandala on cloth. Nepal (ca. 1100 AD)

This mandala, or ritual diagram, is conceived as the palace of the wrathful Chakrasamvara and his consort Vajravarahi, seen together at the center of the composition. These deities are important to the Newar tradition of Nepal as well as in Tibet, embodying the esoteric knowledge of Buddhist texts, the Yoga Tantras. The central divinities are surrounded by six goddesses, each set on a stylized lotus petal that forms a vajra—a feature that suggests an early date for this work. Framing the mandala are the eight great burial grounds of India, each of which is presided over by a deity beneath a tree. The cemeteries are appropriate places for meditation on Chakrasamvara and are emblematic of the various realms of existence. The lower register contains five forms of the goddess Tara as well as a tantric adept to the left and two donors on the right. This mandala is one of the earliest large-scale paintings to survive from Nepal. 
Reproduction of the "Ladies in Blue" fresco. Emile Gilliéron fils, 1927.  Original on painted plaster (ca. 1525–1450 B.C.).
This group of three women was originally restored by E. Gillieron, pere on the basis of other fragments of frescos excavated before 1914 at Knossos. This copy reproduces the few fragments of burnt and abraded original fresco, represented as slightly offset from the restoration, and shows the extent to which the Gillierons recreated the scene. The original is in the Archaeological Museum of Herakleion, Crete.
View the entire collection here.
Source: AO

Sunday, May 18, 2014

ISIS Destroys 3000 Year-old Assyrian Artifacts in Syria

(AINA) -- According to a report from the websitewww.apsa2011.com, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) has destroyed Assyrian statues and artifacts believed to be 3000 years old.
The Assyrian archaeological artifacts were illegally excavated from the Tell Ajaja site.
Looting of Assyrian artifacts was also carried out in Iraq soon after 2003 by Al-Qaeda, which sold the artifacts to finance its operations. The looting occurred at the Baghdad Museum (AINA2003-04-19) as well as archaeological sites which were left unguarded as a result of the collapse of the government of Saddam Hussein (AINA 2005-02-17).


Source: AINA