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Mother Found Still Cradling Baby After 4,800 Years

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Mother Found Still Cradling Baby After 4800 Years
A man cleans a fossil of a mother and baby in Taichung City, Taiwan, April 26, 2016 in this still image taken from video. REUTERS/via Reuters.

Oftentimes, few people are interested in the findings of archaeological digs – broken pots, scattered bones; it usually takes a sign of cannibalism or extraordinarily old carbon dating to draw the mainstream media’s attention. Yet a Taiwanese discovery announced last year proved to be an exception to the rule. Photos of the exhumed bodies went viral and major news organizations from Fox News to the Huffington Post reported on the story.

What was that discovery? A Stone Age skeleton of a mother cradling a baby in a shared grave.

The Origins of the Mummified Mother and Baby

The scientific excavation began in 2014 and took about a year to complete. A team of archaeologists led by Chu Whei-Lee of Taiwan’s National Museum of Science was working on a Neolithic site 6.2 miles (10 kilometres) inland from Taiwan’s western coast. Today, that area is called Taichung City but the site itself has been dubbed An-ho. Experts believe shorelines have shifted over the years and that An-ho was once a coastal village. Indeed, over 200 shark teeth have been found in the site’s dwellings, however, whether these teeth were practical, decorative, or spiritual is not known. The inhabitants of An-ho were most likely Dabenkeng people.

The Dabenkeng people were the first farmers in Taiwan, who may have come from the south and southeast coasts of China about 5,000 years ago,” says Chengwha Tsang of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica. “This culture is the earliest Neolithic culture so far found in Taiwan.” (Drake, 2016) Taiwanese Dabenkeng culture featured corded ware pottery and stone adzes.

An example of corded ware pottery. (Einsamer Schütze/CC BY SA 3.0) Taiwanese Dabenkeng culture (to which experts believe the mother and baby belonged) featured corded ware pottery and stone adzes.

While the Dabenkeng lasted until the 3rd millennium BC on Mainland China, Taiwanese Dabenkeng lasted only until around 4,500 BC. Yet from Taiwan, the Dabenkeng spread across Southeast Asia and Oceania, bringing their culture and language with them. “They were probably the earliest ancestors of the Austronesian language-speaking people living nowadays in Taiwan and on the islands of the Pacific,” said Tsang (Drake, 2016).

The Touching Find of the Mother and Baby

At An-ho, 48 graves were discovered, among them were five children. Most interesting of all was the shared grave of a mother looking down at a baby cradled in her arms. It is not clear how they died.

The remains of the young mother holding the baby. (National Museum of Natural Science)

The young mother holding the baby surprised us most,” said team leader Chu Whei-Lee. “I guess they were buried under the house by their loved ones,” she adds, although more evidence is needed to support that idea (Drake, 2016). “When it was unearthed, all of the archaeologists and staff members were shocked. Why? Because the mother was looking down at the baby in her hands,” said Chu Whei-lee (Hamacher, 2016).

Further testing, including DNA analysis, of the mother and child as well of the other graves, is still ongoing. What we know already is that the mother was 5 feet 2 inches (160cm) tall and the baby was a foot and a half (50cm). Carbon dating puts their time of burial at about 4,800 years ago, putting them squarely in the island’s Stone Age. The bodies were interred in a typical north-south alignment. Unconventionally, they were laid on their backs (as opposed to being face down like the other graves at the site). Moreover, the mother’s face is titled to the right and downward so that she gazes upon the baby in her arms, even in skeleton form some 5000 years later.

4,800 Year Old Fossil Of Mother Cradling Baby Found In Taiwan

Undoubtedly, this ancient maternal moment is what enabled the pair to become a modern-day viral sensation.

This article (Mother Found Still Cradling Baby After 4800 Years) was originally created for Ancient Origins and is published here under Creative Commons.

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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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