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Astonishing Neolithic Circle Of 30-Foot “Shafts” Discovered Near Stonehenge

“This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK,” said archaeologist Vincent Gaffney.

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Stonehenge
Photo Credit: Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.

(TMU) – An international archaeological consortium called the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project says it has unearthed a stunning constellation of monuments very close to Stonehenge. While their purpose is unclear, scientists say the discovery could help to unlock new clues about the sophisticated and complex nature of prehistoric societies.

Led by The University of Bradford and several other institutions, researchers used geophysical surveys and remote sensing technology to discover a 2-kilometer circular pattern of “astonishing” shafts in Durrington Walls. Carbon-dating places the shafts at 2500 B.C. Each one measures around 10 meters (33 feet) and is buried 5 meters (16 feet) below the ground.

Astonishing discovery’ near Stonehenge offers new insight into Neolithic ancestors. Research on the pits at Durrington was undertaken by a consortium of archaeologists as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.

Professor Vincent Gaffney of the University of Bradford explains why the discovery is an important one:

“The area around Stonehenge is among the most studied archaeological landscapes on Earth and it is remarkable that the application of new technology can still lead to the discovery of such a massive prehistoric structure which, currently, is significantly larger than any comparative prehistoric monument that we know of in Britain, at least.”

Scientists discovered the circle, or ring of monuments, in the “empty spaces” of the UNESCO World Heritage Site for Stonehenge, one of the most popular prehistoric monuments in the world. It’s also one of the most mysterious, as archaeologists and historians have struggled to determine why the legendary stones were positioned according to the solstices and the sun’s movements in the sky.

The new discovery of shafts–from what scientists believe was probably the Neolithic era–presents another vexing mystery.

“Clearly sophisticated practices demonstrate that the people were so in tune with natural events to an extent that we can barely conceive in the modern world we live in today,” said Richard Bates, from the University of St. Andrews’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Some researchers believe there could be a cosmological link between the newly discovered circle of monuments and Stonehenge. The circle may have served as a sacred gateway or boundary connected to Stonehenge.

In a press release, the university stated:

“….no comparative prehistoric structure in the UK encloses such a large area as the circle of shafts at Durrington, and the structure is currently unique….The presence of such massive features, and perhaps an internal post line, guided people towards the religious sites within the circle or may have warned those who were not permitted to cross the boundary marked by the shafts.”

Bates adds the new site “is giving us an insight to the past that shows an even more complex society than we could ever imagine.”

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project says the discovery will bolster their work to create a detailed archaeological map of the ‘invisible’ landscape of the area. Eventually, they plan to create a digital model of all monuments contained within a “seamless map of sub-surface and surface archaeological features and structures.”

Astonishing’ Stonehenge discovery offers new insights into Neolithic ancestors.

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Unravelling The Mysteries Of The Tomb Of The Red Queen Of Palenque

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Palenque 2020
Photo Credit: (TOT Ciencies Socials)

A remarkable tomb dating back to 600 or 700 AD was discovered by Mexican archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz in 1994. When the researchers opened the burial chamber they couldn’t believe their eyes… 

The tomb is located inside Temple XIII, among the ruins of the ancient Maya City of Palenque. Excavations were carried out at the temple to discover its construction sequence and the methods used in building it. Works began in 1973 by a team led by Jorge Acosta. He located the space which he called the burial chamber.

The team started to clean the area they believed to be the tomb and discovered a small blocked-up door on the vertical section of the substructure’s second level, about 2.80 meters (9.19 ft.) over the level of the Temple Plaza. When they removed the block, they saw a six meter (19.69 ft.) long corridor which led to one of the best preserved galleries discovered in Palenque to date. A few meters later, between the other magnificent corridors and chambers there was a treasure waiting – one which overwhelmed the researchers.

The burial chamber and the stairway leading into it. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The burial chamber and the stairway leading into it. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
A Burial Full of Treasures

When the researchers opened the tomb in 1994, they were shocked. In front of them appeared the most incredible discovery they had ever made. In the heart of the historical city of Palenque they found an incredibly beautiful tomb. As Arnoldo González Cruz described his first impressions after making an opening to the chamber:

”Through the perforation, we could look into a perfectly vaulted chamber measuring 3.80 x 2.50 meters, most of the surface of which was occupied by a rectangular limestone sarcophagus. To the south, we could make out the main door of the chamber, as well as five steps that gave access to it. Upon thus discovering the main access to the tomb through the perforation we had made, we assumed that the sealed doorways at the ends of the gallery might take us to it by locating an access gallery. Thus, we decided to explore the gallery’s southeastern and south-western doorways, since they displayed the same orientation as the main access to the tomb. After 15 days of explorations, we were able to ascertain that the doorways led to inner, ascending stairways which originally gave access to a construction built above. Through the use of test pits, we tried to locate the access to the chamber from the outside, but we had to abandon this endeavour after having excavated down for eight meters with negative results.”

Inside the tomb, archaeologists discovered a sarcophagus. Inside the coffin they found the remains of a noblewoman and other objects covered with red cinnabar powder.

The skeleton was decorated with an impressive collection of pearls, jade, shells, and bone needles. The skull was originally enhanced with a diadem made of flat circular jade beads. The woman’s chest was covered with flat obsidian and jade pieces as well. The face was covered with a funeral mask made of malachite pieces. Inside the sarcophagus, archaeologists also discovered a seashell with a small limestone figurine inside of it.

Skeleton of the Red Queen. (ontheroadin.com)

Apart from the female remains, a man was also buried inside the chamber. He is thought to have been her servant, and it is assumed he was sent to the afterlife with his queen.

Who Was the Red Queen?

The researchers called the woman found in the tomb the ”Red Queen”. Her remains were transported to the laboratory of the Mexican National Institute of Archaeology and History. Researchers found that she lived between 600 and 700 AD – a date suggested by the pottery discovered inside the tomb.

Analysis included carbon 14 testing and facial reconstruction. With this, the team found that the woman died when she was about sixty years old and had osteoporosis. Moreover, her diet was revealed to be based mostly on meat. She also had very healthy teeth, something that was not typical for the Maya people during that time. Although the burial was a magnificent discovery, the researchers couldn’t hide their disappointment: Inside the chamber they did not find any inscription or indication which could allow them to confirm her name.

The researcher Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz believes that she was Tz’ak-bu Ajaw, the wife of Pakal and the grandmother of the last Mayan king. Currently the team is looking for the tombs of Pakal and his sons. Comparing the DNA of the woman with Pakal’s sons could help them with this hypothesis.

Mask of the Red Queen from the tomb found in Temple XIII The diadem and mask are made of pieces of jade and malachite. (Wolfgang Sauber/CC BY SA 3.0)
Mask of the Red Queen from the tomb found in Temple XIII The diadem and mask are made of pieces of jade and malachite. (Wolfgang Sauber/CC BY SA 3.0)
The Legendary City of Palenque

Palenque was called Lekamha by the Maya people. This word means ”Big Water”. It was an impressive city which was built around the 3rd century BC and was inhabited until the end of the 8th century AD. This was a political center and the capital for many male and female rulers. Now the site is located in a part of the state of Chiapas. It covers up to 2.5 square kilometres (1 square mile). Archaeologists claim that only 10% of the ancient city of Palenque has been explored so far.

View of Temple XIII and Temple of Inscriptions from the Palace at Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. (CC BY-SA 2.5 )
View of Temple XIII and Temple of Inscriptions from the Palace at Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. (CC BY-SA 2.5 )

Apart from the tomb of the Red Queen, another important discovery has been the tomb of K’inich Janaab Pakal, also known as Pacal the Great. He ruled during the 7th century AD and was buried in the temple called The Temple of the Inscriptions.

An Eternal City and its Unidentified Queen

Palenque continues to be one of the most famous ancient cities and one of the most fascinating places connected with the Maya civilization. Some people believe that the location has a special energy source too. Thousands of people travel there to explore the secrets of the Maya culture, to experience an adventure amongst the magnificent ruins, and to enjoy the unique atmosphere of a city where women wrote their own history.

Tomb of the Red Queen (Temple XIII) in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. (CC BY 3.0)
Tomb of the Red Queen (Temple XIII) in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. (CC BY 3.0)

The remains of the Red Queen returned to Palenque in June 2012. She couldn’t be reburied in her original tomb due to the high humidity inside the pyramid. However, she was reburied in a different location close to her ancient home.

In July, 2018, the funeral finery of the Red Queen, including her features, burial jewellery and death mask were restored by archaeologists and historians, and put on display in Mexico City.

This article (Unravelling The Mysteries Of The Tomb Of The Red Queen Of Palenque) was originally created for Ancient Origins and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Evidence Of 120,000-Year-Old String Discovered In Israeli Cave

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120,000-Year-Old String
Image Credit: Bar-Yosef Mayer et al/Plos One/PA Wire

A team of archaeologists excavating a cave in Israel have made the incredible discovery of a collection of shells that were once threaded onto strings and worn by humans as beads 120,000 years ago. Archaeologists have previously discovered evidence of shells being used as adornments by humans across Africa and in the Eastern Mediterranean, but nothing like this group of shells has ever been found before. The Israeli team of archaeologists from Tel Aviv University made the remarkable discovery at the Qafzeh Cave near Nazareth, and they say the prehistoric humans collected the shells 120,000 years ago and strung them together to act like decorative beads.

Map of sites mentioned in the study and the location of Misliya and Qafzeh caves. Bottom left: Misliya excavation area and stratigraphy. (Bar-Yosef Mayer et al/Plos One)
Untwisting the Deep-History of Cordage

The Qafzeh cave in Israel was found to contain dozens of human skeletons who lived there during the Mediterranean Paleolithic period. Among these human remains the unique collection of shells were found to have been painted with ochre. According to Jewish News, the discovery of 120,000-year-old string and with the perforated shells is different to all other similar findings, demonstrating “one of the earliest instances of strings being used to hang objects.”

The archaeological project was funded by the American School of Prehistoric Research at Harvard University and The Israel Science Foundation grantWhen discussing the new paper published in PLOS ONE with Jewish News, Dr. Daniella Bar-Yosef Mayer of Tel Aviv University explains that “the fact that almost all of the specimens found in the archaeological sites are perforated, albeit naturally, suggests their collection is intentional and is meant to enable their stringing and display.”

Shells Were All the Rage 120,000 Years Ago

A PLOS release published on Eureka Alert says that to test their theory the team applied microscopic analysis of the shell’s wear-and-tear patterns which were found to be specific to string suspension. The researchers went out and collected the same species of clamshells as those found in the cave and hung them on strings made from wild flax. These strings were then abraded against various materials like sand, stone and leather, to test how the shells had been worn or used.

While is it is not at this time possible to determine the precise symbolic meaning of the shell beads recovered from Qafzeh cave, the new paper says bivalve shells are “a frequent hallmark across Paleolithic sites” and this gives a sense of their importance. However, where this discovery differs from all other prehistoric shell discoveries is in the use of string, which suggests that it was not just the collection of shells that was important, but the displaying of these shells to others was also culturally significant.

What this discovery represents, as a whole, is one of the earliest examples of objects or artifacts being hung on string, which enlightens archaeologists on the origins of string-making technology that is thought to have emerged between 160-120,000 years ago. In conclusion, in the PLOS release, Dr. Bar-Yosef Mayer explains that while modern humans collected un-perforated cockle shells for symbolic purposes 160,000 years ago or earlier, it is now clear that around 120,000 years ago they started “collecting perforated shells and wearing them on a string.” This means strings would have had many more applications within this time frame.

In April 2020 Ancient Origins reported on the discovery of fibers in France from 41,000 to 52,000 years ago. Top: SEM photo of Neanderthal cord from Abri du Maras. (Credit: M-H. Moncel) Bottom: Close-up of modern flax cordage showing twisted fibre construction. (Credit: S. Deryck)

This paper comes only months after Ancient Origins reported on the discovery of 41,000–52,000 year old fibers that were “twisted together,” which was described as “the oldest known direct evidence of someone using fibers to create string.” Professor Bruce Hardy told Ancient Origins that this discovery was a “huge step in our understanding of Neanderthals and helped demonstrate that they were not so different from us.”

Thanks to the new research published in PLOS ONE , this date has been pushed back even further, all the way to 120,000 years ago, where it will remain, for now.

This article (Evidence Of 120,000-Year-Old String Discovered In Israeli Cave) was originally created for Ancient Origins and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Paleontologists Find One Of The Biggest Prehistoric Predatory Fish In History

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Photo Credit: Cretaceous Period

Jocelyne LeBlancGuest Writer

The remains of a gigantic 70-million-year-old fish that lived during the same time as the dinosaurs have been discovered in Argentine Patagonia. The fish belonged to the Xiphactinus genus and was one of the biggest predatory fish that ever existed on Earth.

In a statement that was recently released, it read in part that the palaeontologists from Argentina “found the remains of a predator fish that was more than six meters long”. “The fossils of this carnivorous animal with sharp teeth and scary appearance were found close to the Colhue Huapial lake” which is located about 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) south of Buenos Aires. It had pretty distinct features as its body was quite slim with a large head and jaw which contained teeth that measured several centimetres in length and were as sharp as needles. Its appearance has been compared to the modern day tarpon fish although tarpons aren’t related to the Xiphactinus.

Recreation of a Xiphactinus.
Recreation of a Xiphactinus.

According to the statement, it lived in the Patagonian seas during the end of the Cretaceous Period (which lasted from 145.5 to 65.5 million years ago) when the temperatures were much calmer than they are today. As a matter of fact, the Patagonia region in South America is one of the most significant locations on Earth for where the remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures have been discovered.

Patagonia is located at the base of South America which includes the lower portions of Argentina and Chile. It covers an area of approximately 300,000 square miles (777,000 square kilometres) of Argentina and 131,275 square miles (340,000 square kilometres) of Chile.

tarpon fish 2020
The Xiphactinus looked similar to the modern day tarpon.

Prior to this recent find, the Xiphactinus had mostly been unearthed in the northern hemisphere with the exception of a recent discovery in Venezuela. In fact, the Xiphactinus has been connected to Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States (Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas). Some previously found remains were so well preserved that their stomach contents were still intact.

The researchers’ findings were published in the scientific journal Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology.

Recommended Articles by Jocelyne LeBlanc
About the Author

Jocelyne LeBlanc works full time as a writer and is also an author with two books currently published. She has written articles for several online websites, and had an article published in a Canadian magazine on the most haunted locations in Atlantic Canada. She has a fascination with the paranormal and ghost stories, especially those that included haunted houses. In her spare time, she loves reading, watching movies, making crafts, and watching hockey.

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America Is Not A Christian Nation And Never Has Been

The text of the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of God, Jesus Christ, or Christianity.

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Christian Nation
Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United Statesby Howard Chandler Christy.

The founding fathers’ religion wasn’t always worn on their sleeves. Looking back, it’s quite difficult to tell where some of our nation’s great leaders fell on the religious scale. Deism was popular at the time – the belief in God as the creator of all things, but not as a miracle worker or one that answers to prayer.

Sure, there are the books written and speeches given. But often personal letters and eyewitnesses are a more accurate gauge of belief. As with any time period, there are sometimes those who aren’t what they seem or claim to be on the surface.

These are the men that fought for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In fact, God, Jesus Christ, and Christianity are not stated once in all of the Constitution, and it is clearly done so on purpose.

The Constitution even bars all laws from “respecting an establishment of religion,” while also protecting “the free exercise thereof.”

Remember, the founding fathers understood their history. They’d seen how the Christian governments of Europe took advantage of the individual freedom of its citizens. They’d seen they constant internal bickering and wars amongst Christian factions.

Even though the Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” today some of these very men would be deemed unfit to lead on their respective platforms. To hold them up as a Pinnacle of Christianity is likely as false as George Washington’s teeth. Here are some of the surprising faiths of our founding fathers.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson 2020
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The man that composed the Declaration of Independence was more interested in protecting religious freedom than imposing religion upon anyone else. It was this very freedom that allowed Thomas Jefferson to cut up his bible and take out anything he didn’t like. Mainly, that included any mention of miracles or things that were “contrary to reason.” This aligned his beliefs more with Deism than Christianity – of which he was baptized into at birth.

Jefferson’s custom assemblage of bible passages was never meant to be published; it was strictly for his own use. However, it acquired a name; The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Almost 70 years after he died, Jefferson’s great-granddaughter sold the book to the Smithsonian Institution.

“I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know,” Jefferson once said. This stance caused a slight ruckus in the Presidential election of 1800 when the Federalists attacked him as being atheist. Nevertheless, Jefferson won that election running under the Democratic-Republican party.

In 1823, Jefferson wrote to John Adams, famously remarking:

“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. … But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding…. “

John Adams
John Adams 2020
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

These words, placed in the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli by founding father and first vice-president John Adams, are often used as a springboard for debate.

While those words are printed in black and white, there is some underlying context to consider. The treaty goes on to say that “it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” Which gives the context of religious opinions as an invalid excuse to go against the treaty.

So, perhaps that snippet of one document doesn’t prove Adams’ reluctance to full-heartedly embrace Christianity, but later he recognized the “rise of sects and schisms, heresies and bigotries, which have abounded in the Christian world,” and reportedly used deist language in his speeches.

Whatever religion John Adams identified himself as throughout his life, a letter to his wife says quite the mouthful on Catholicism. “This afternoon’s entertainment was to me most awful and affecting,” he wrote. “The poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood…”

George Washington
George Washington 2020
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Another founding father with an unclear belief system was none other than our very first President, George Washington. To say his religion is unclear simply brings notice that there are many books written about Washington, and all of them put him anywhere in the spectrum between Orthodox Christian and strict Deist.

Washington used terms such as “Providence” or “supreme architect” when making speeches or writings. These are Deist terms – but not exclusively so. Washington did not use the names “Jesus” or “Christ” in public appearances; but again, many at the time did not.

Born unto Protestants, Washington certainly frequented church as a child, but reportedly did not attend regularly as an adult, or participate in religious rites. He often left services before communion – and when called out on it, stopped attending that church on communion days.

At any rate, Washington was a staunch advocate for religious freedom. Perhaps the most telltale indication of how religious Washington was came at the end of his life. On his deathbed no priest was called; no minister summoned. In life, he’d imparted to his children the importance of honesty and character, but no mention of religion.

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine 2020
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A proponent of free thought and reason, Paine had one of the more defined belief systems. He lamented institutionalized religion – and Christianity in particular. In his younger days, some of the hardships he endured would sway others to the comforting arms of the church. Paine’s wife died in childbirth, and his child died as well.

But Thomas Paine made no qualms about his radical Deism; calling the bible the “pretended word of God”. And we know he’s read it because he tears it a new one book by book in his writing The Age of Reason.

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God,” he writes.

Paine may have never held public office but is deemed a founding father nonetheless. There weren’t many American Revolutionary rebels who didn’t read Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense which shaped the demand for independence from Great Britain. Without Paine, The United States might still be under British rule.

This article (America Is Not A Christian Nation And Never Has Been) was originally created for All That Interesting and is published here under Creative Commons.

The views in this article may not reflect editorial policy of Collective Spark.

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