Ancient Logbook Documenting Great Pyramid’s Construction Unveiled

papyri-on-display

Here, one of the papyri in the ancient logbook, which documented the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

A logbook that contains records detailing the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza has been put on public display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was built in honor of the pharaoh Khufu (reign ca. 2551 B.C.-2528 B.C.) and is the largest of the three pyramids constructed on the Giza plateau in Egypt. Considered a “wonder of the world” by ancient writers, the Great Pyramid was 481 feet (146 meters) tall when it was first constructed. Today it stands 455 feet (138 meters) high.

The logbook was written in hieroglyphic letters on pieces of papyri. Its author was an inspector named Merer, who was “in charge of a team of about 200 men,” archaeologists Pierre Tallet and Gregory Marouard wrote in an article published in 2014 in the journal Near Eastern Archaeology. [In Photos: Inside Egypt’s Great Pyramids]

Tallet and Marouard are leaders of an archaeological team from France and Egypt that discovered the logbook at the Red Sea harbor of Wadi al-Jarfin 2013. It dates back about 4,500 years, making it the oldest papyrus document ever discovered in Egypt.

“Over a period of several months, [the logbook] reports — in [the] form of a timetable with two columns per day — many operations related to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza and the work at the limestone quarries on the opposite bank of the Nile,” Tallet and Marouard wrote.

Merer recorded the logs in the 27th year of Khufu’s reign. His records say that the Great Pyramid was near completion, with much of the remaining work focusing on the construction of the limestone casing that covered the outside of the pyramid, Tallet and Marouard wrote.

The limestone used in this casing, according to the logbook, was quarried at Tura near modern-day Cairo, and was brought to the pyramid site by boat along the Nile River and a system of canals. One boat trip between Tura and the pyramid site took four days to complete, the logbook notes.

The logbook also says that in Khufu’s 27th year, the construction of the Great Pyramid was being overseen by the vizier Ankhaf (also spelled Ankhhaf), the half- brother of Khufu. (A vizier was a high official in ancient Egypt who served the king.)

The papyri also reveal that one of the titles Ankhaf held was “chief for all the works of the king,” Tallet and Marouard wrote in the journal article.

Though the logbook said Ankhaf was in charge during the pharaoh’s 27th year, many scholars believe it’s possible that another person, possibly the vizier Hemiunu, was in charge of pyramid building during the earlier part of Khufu’s reign.

In the press release museum representatives did not specify how long the logbook will be on public display.

 

Source:  LiveScience.com    (07-2016)

Mystery of the Mummy from KV55: Dr. Zahi Hawass

Akhenaten

Akhenaten, Egypt’s first and only monotheistic Pharaoh, has intrigued Egyptologists for centuries. Has the Egyptian Mummy Project finally found his mummy?

The Valley of the Kings, on the west bank of the Nile across from the ancient city of Thebes, is famous as the final resting place of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom — Egypt’s “Golden Age.” There are 63 known tombs in the valley, of which 26 belonged to kings. Beginning with the great female pharaoh Hatshepsut, or perhaps her father Thutmose I, almost all of the rulers of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth dynasties built their tombs in this silent valley.

Only one king from this period, Amenhotep IV or Akhenaten, is known to have chosen a different burial site. Akhenaten rejected the worship of Amun, the principal state god of his forefathers, in favor of the sun disk, the Aten. He abandoned Thebes, then the religious capital of Egypt, and moved his government to a virgin site in Middle Egypt known today as El-Amarna; it was near this new capital city that he had his final resting place prepared.

Akhenaten’s tomb is similar in some ways to those built in the Valley of the Kings; it consists of a number of chambers and passages cut deep into the limestone cliffs of a remote valley. It is decorated, however, with unique scenes connected with the worship of the sun-god Aten, and with images of the royal family. Akhenaten’s beautiful wife, Queen Nefertiti, figures prominently in his tomb decorations, as in much of the art of the Amarna period. Although Akhenaten’s tomb at El-Amarna was never completely finished, there is little doubt that the king was buried there.

After Akhenaten’s death, Egypt returned to the worship of the old gods, and the name and image of Akhenaten were erased from his monuments in an effort to wipe out the memory of his ‘heretical’ reign.
In January 1907, the British archaeologist Edward Ayrton discovered another tomb in the Valley of the Kings. This tomb, KV55, is located just to the south of the tomb of Ramesses IX, very close to the famous tomb of Tutankhamun. KV55 is small, uninscribed and undecorated, but despite its simplicity it has great historical value, because it is also connected with the royal family of El-Amarna.

A flight of 21 stairs leads down to the entrance, which Ayrton found blocked with limestone. Although the blocking may have been opened and then resealed in ancient times, the excavators found that it was still stamped with the necropolis seal, a jackal atop nine bows representing the traditional enemies of Egypt. Beyond the entrance lay a corridor, partially filled with pieces of limestone, leading to a rectangular burial chamber containing a gilded and inlaid wooden coffin. Inside this coffin rested a badly decayed mummy, which had been reduced to little more than a skeleton. The lower three quarters of the coffin’s gilded mask had been ripped away and the cartouches (oval rings containing royal names) that once identified the owner were removed, leaving the remains inside both faceless and nameless. The identity of the mummy found in KV55 is one of Egyptology’s most enduring mysteries.

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The newly renovated Amarna room at the Egyptian museum in Cairo. (Photo by Mohamed Megahed)

The contents of KV55 offer some clues to who the mystery mummy might have been. Although the tomb had been badly damaged over the centuries by floods that periodically inundate the Valley of the Kings, many intriguing artifacts were found inside. Apart from the coffin containing the mysterious mummy, the most spectacular objects were panels from a gilded wooden shrine that had been built to protect the sarcophagus of Queen Tiye, the mother of Akhenaten. Originally, the shrine had borne the name and image of Akhenaten along with that of the queen, but these were erased in ancient times.

Other objects from KV55 included small clay sealings bearing the name of Tiye’s husband Amenhotep III, and Tutankhamun, who may have been her grandson. There were also vessels of stone, glass and pottery, along with a few pieces of jewelry, inscribed with the names of Tiye, Amenhotep III and one of Amenhotep III’s daughters, Princess Sitamun. Four ‘magical bricks’ made of mud were also found in the tomb, stamped with the name of Akhenaten himself. A beautiful set of calcite canopic jars made for Akhenaten’s secondary wife Kiya rested in a niche carved into the southern wall of the burial chamber.

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The Shrine of Queen Tiye. (Photo by Mohamed Megahed)

The cartouches on the coffin might once have held the key to the identity of the KV55 mummy. Even without them, however, many scholars have felt that the remaining inscriptions, which include titles and epithets, might reveal the identity of the coffin’s owner. The great linguist Sir Alan Gardiner argued that the titles showed that the coffin had been made for Akhenaten, and that no one else could have been buried in it. Other scholars, however, have noted that the inscriptions were altered at some point, and it has been suggested that the coffin’s occupant might not be its original owner. The French scholar Georges Daressy thought that it might originally have been made for Queen Tiye, and then altered for Smenkhkare, a mysterious successor of Akhenaten who ruled Egypt for only a short time. Another possibility is that it was made for Smenkhkare during a time when he and Akhenaten ruled together as pharaohs, and then altered when he took the throne as sole ruler.
The mystery of the coffin is made even deeper by the fact that part of it was stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. While its lid is mostly intact, the wood of the lower part had decayed to the point that nothing was left except the gold foil and glass and stone inlay that had covered its surface. The foil and inlay were taken from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and eventually resurfaced at the Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich, Germany. The foil and inlay were recently returned to Cairo, but there are still rumors that pieces of the gold foil from the coffin are still hidden away in storage, in museums outside of Egypt. I do not understand how any museum could purchase an artifact that they knew had been stolen from another!

Gardiner’s claim that the inscriptions on the coffin could only have referred to Akhenaten, together with the presence of the ‘heretic’ pharaoh’s name on other artifacts in KV55, convinced many scholars that this mysterious king had been brought to Thebes for reburial after his original tomb at El-Amarna was desecrated. The bones belong to a male, with a highly elongated skull. This trait is found in artistic representations of Akhenaten and his family, and can also be seen in the mummy of Tutankhamun, who may have been Akhenaten’s son. In addition, the KV55 mummy shares a blood type with the golden king; studies have indicated that the remains from the Amarna Cache belonged to an individual closely related to Tutankhamun. Taken together, the clues lead to the seemingly inevitable conclusion that the KV55 mummy is Akhenaten.
Most previous forensic studies have concluded that the skeleton belonged to a man who died in his early 20s, or at the latest about 35. Historical sources indicate that Akhenaten must have been well over 30 at his death. The majority of Egyptologists, therefore, are inclined to believe that the KV55 mummy is that of Smenkhkare, who may have been an older brother or even the father of Tutankhamun. The identification of the mummy as Smenkhkare, however, poses problems of its own. Little is known about this short-lived king..

Re-opening the Case
As part of the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ ongoing Egyptian Mummy Project, we decided to CT scan the KV55 skeleton in the hope of discovering new information that might shed light on the debate. Our forensic team has studied a number of mummies, and made many exciting discoveries. Our most recent work resulted in the identification of the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut.

Hawass

Dr. Hawass inspects the KV 55 mummy before its CT scan

When we brought the remains from KV 55 out, it was the first time that I had actually seen them. It was immediately clear to me that the skull and the other bones are in very bad condition. Dr. Hani Abdel Rahman operated the equipment, and our gifted radiologist Dr. Ashraf Selim worked with us to interpret the results.
Our CT scan put Akhenaten squarely back in the running for the identity of the mummy from KV55. Our team was able to determine that the mummy may have been older at death than anyone had previously thought. Dr. Selim noted that the spine showed, in addition to slight scoliosis, significant degenerative changes associated with age. He said that although it is difficult to determine the age of an individual from bones alone, he might put the mummy’s age as high as 60. The jury is still out, but it is certainly tempting to think that Akhenaten has finally been found.

Scan_Comparison

Scans of Tutankhamun’s mummy (left) and the bones from KV 55 seem to show similar elongated shape

Akhenaten, Nefertiti and the Amarna period have received a great deal of attention in recent years. One of the main reasons for this continued interest is that I have requested the loan to Egypt of the head of Nefertiti in the collection of the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. So far, the Berlin museum has not agreed to our request to bring the head to Egypt for three months as part of an exhibition to celebrate the opening in 2010 of the Akhenaten Museum in Minya. I do believe that Egypt’s people have the right to see this beautiful sculpture — a vital part of their heritage and identity — in person.

In the meantime, the wonderful artifacts in the newly renovated Amarna room at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are reminders of the achievements of this period. The shrine of Queen Tiye and the lid of the coffin from KV55 adorn this gallery. A quartzite bust of Nefertiti, perhaps even more beautiful than the painted limestone bust in Berlin, also offers a glimpse of the splendor of the Amarna age. You can also see the gold foil and inlay from the bottom part of the KV55 coffin, mounted on a plexiglass base to show how they were arranged on the original coffin.

My friend Mark Linz, the head of the American University in Cairo Press, told me that he felt that the renovated Amarna room is amazing and unique, adding that he hopes that it will bring the glory of the Amarna period to life and tell people the story of Akhenaten, the first king to believe in a single god.
The Valley of the Kings still holds many mysteries. This coming year, we will begin DNA studies of the mummy from KV55, along with those of Tutankhamun and others, with hopes that DNA evidence will add even more to our understanding of this period.

We will also embark on the first archaeological expedition in the valley ever to be conducted by an all-Egyptian team. It seems unbelievable that up to this point, every excavation in the Valley of the Kings has been the work of foreign scholars. We are working right now to the north of the tomb of Merenptah, the son and successor of Ramesses II. I truly believe that the tomb of Ramesses VIII may be located in this area. It is possible that even as you read this article, you will hear the announcement of a major discovery in the valley.

There are still more royal tombs yet undiscovered. The tomb of Amenhotep I, for example, is unknown, although it may lie in the area of Deir el-Bahri. There are also many mummies that have never been identified: The remains of Nefertiti, Tutankhamun’s wife Ankhsenamun and many others may still await discovery or identification.
The sand and rocks of the Valley of the Kings hide treasure, both in the form of gold and in the form of information that can help us to reconstruct history. I hope that our new excavations will produce great stories, bringing the thrill of discovery and maybe even tales of the curse of the pharaohs, to the world. I am sure that the Valley of the Kings will reveal some of its mysteries to us — I can feel it, and I can see it in my mind’s eye. Do not laugh… I know that this is true!*

 

Credit: source – http://www.guardians.net/hawass/articles

Also see www.drhawass.com/wp/

Bronze Age Settlement 3000 Years Old (Part 2): ‘Must Farm, UK’ dig site give up more amazing artifacts!

must_box2Archaeologists said they were “thrilled” to find the well-preserved wooden box inside one of the roundhouses

A tiny wooden box with its contents still inside, an intact pot and animal bones are some of the first items unearthed inside a roundhouse at what has been dubbed “Britain’s Pompeii”.

The UK’s “best preserved Bronze Age dwellings”, found at a Cambridgeshire quarry, date from about 1,000-800 BC. They were preserved in silt after falling into a river during a fire. The “delicate task” to uncover the contents has just begun but the finds have been called “amazing artifacts”.

The two or three circular wooden houses uncovered by archaeologists were built on stilts, and formed part of a settlement partially destroyed by fire 3,000 years ago.

must_bones

A cluster of animal and fish bones could have been kitchen waste, archaeologists said

must_sieve

Using a specially-built wet sieving station the team can examine sediment from inside one of the houses and ensure that “even the tiniest vertebrate remains and glass beads” can be recovered

The site, at Must Farm quarry near Whittlesey, has been described as “unique” by David Gibson, from Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is leading the excavation.

Most Bronze Age sites have no timber remaining, just post-holes – but here, the stilts, roof structure and walls have been unearthed.

must_house_diagram

The diagram shows a roundhouse before and after the fire

It is thought the roof fell in during the fire, covering the contents of the houses. Much would have been preserved as it sank into the Fenland silt. Only a small section of one of the house interiors is being examined as yet.

Bone ‘cluster’

One of the first items found was “a very small, delicate wooden box that is mostly complete”. Archaeologists said they were “thrilled” to discover such a well-preserved artifact. The contents appear to be inside still, but work to examine what those might be will not take place until later.

bucket

A wooden bowl or bucket base together with pottery have been found in the occupation deposit beneath the roof

An intact “fineware” pot and animal bones have also been found, all of which must be “meticulously” cleaned and documented. The “cluster” of fish and animal bones uncovered inside “could have been the kitchen waste of the time,” they said.

must_comp

Archaeologists began looking beneath the roof for the house’s contents (left) after documenting more than 1,000 timber pieces (right)

Although they are in the very early stages of examining the house interior, the quality and quantity of what has been uncovered so far has left archaeologists “very excited”. The site has the “potential for more uncommon household objects including tools, cutlery and even furniture,” they said.

The excavation is being jointly funded by Historic England and quarry owner Forterra. Pompeii, in ancient Rome, was hit by a volcanic eruption in AD 79. Tonnes of ash fell, preserving much of the city for thousands of years.

Bronze Age Europe and Britain

must_artifact

Gold cape discovered in Mold, north Wales – a supreme example of Bronze Age art

  • The Bronze Age in Britain lasted from between 2500 and 2000BC until the use of iron became common, between 800-650BC
  • It came after metalworkers discovered that adding tin to copper produced bronze, used for tools and weaponry which were much more hard-wearing
  • The Greek poems of Homer – though composed later – look back to a time when bronze weapons were used
  • Classic Bronze Age remains include sophisticated axes, precious gold objects, and round burial mounds or “barrows” of which many can still be seen in Britain*

 

Credit:  BBC News    (02-16)

Cambridge Archaeological Unit
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Bronze Age Discovery: Amazing 3000-year-old settlement gives up wheel!

bronze-age-cnn-wheel

Complete Bronze Age wheel believed to be the largest and earliest of its kind found in the UK has been unearthed

The 3,000-year-old artefact was found at a site dubbed “Britain’s Pompeii”, at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire. Archaeologists have described the find – made close to the country’s “best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings” – as “unprecedented”. Still containing its hub, the 3 ft-diameter (one metre) wooden wheel dates from about 1,100 to 800 BC. The wheel was found close to the largest of one of the roundhouses found at the settlement last month.

Its discovery “demonstrates the inhabitants of this watery landscape’s links to the dry land beyond the river”, David Gibson from Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is leading the excavation, said. Historic England, which is jointly funding the £1.1 m excavation with landowner Forterra, described the find as “unprecedented in terms of size and completeness”.

“This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain,” chief executive Duncan Wilson said.

“The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology, and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”

Must-Farm_digArchaeologists worked on a wooden platform as they uncovered roundhouses at the quarry

Historic England, which is jointly funding the £1.1m excavation with landowner Forterra, described the find as “unprecedented in terms of size and completeness”.

“This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain,” chief executive Duncan Wilson said.

“The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology, and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”

bronze-age-cnn

The dig site, at Must Farm quarry near Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, has been described as “unique”

It has proved to be a Bronze Age treasure trove for archaeologists who earlier this year uncovered two or possibly three roundhouses dating from about 1,000-800 BC. The timbers had been preserved in silt after falling into a river during a fire.

Wheel_completeThe Bronze Age wheel is said to be the largest, earliest complete example of its kind ever found in Britain.

Kasia Gdaniec, senior archaeologist at the county council, said the “fabulous artefacts” found at the site continued to “amaze and astonish”.

“This wheel poses a challenge to our understanding of both Late Bronze Age technological skill and – together with the eight boats recovered from the same river in 2011 – transportation,” she said.

The spine of what is thought to be a horse, found in early January, could suggest the wheel belonged to a horse-drawn cart, however, it is too early to know how the wheel was used, archaeologist Chris Wakefield said.

spine_horseThe spine of what is thought to be a horse was found not far from the wheel

While the Must Farm wheel is the most complete, it is not the oldest to be discovered in the area. An excavation at a Bronze Age site at Flag Fen near Peterborough uncovered a smaller, partial wheel dating to about 1,300 BC. The wheel was thought to have been part of a cart that could have carried up to two people.

The Must Farm quarry site has given up a number of its hidden treasures over the years including a dagger found in 1969 and bowls still containing remnants of food, found in 2006.

More recently the roundhouses, built on stilts, were discovered. A fire destroyed the posts, causing the houses to fall into a river where silt helped preserve the timbers and contents.

What does the wheel tell us?

Wheel2

“We’re here in the middle of the Fens, a very wet environment, so the biggest question we’ve got to answer at the moment is ‘Why on earth is there a wheel in the middle of this really wet river channel?’,” says archaeologist Chris Wakefield.

“The houses are built over a river and within those deposits is sitting a wheel – which is pretty much the archetype of what you’d expect to have on dry land – so it’s very, very unusual.”

An articulated animal spine found nearby – at first thought to be from a cow – is now believed to be that of a horse.

“[This] has pretty strong ties if they were using something like a cart.

“In the Bronze Age horses are quite uncommon. It’s not until the later period of the Middle Iron Age that they become more widespread, so aside from this very exciting discovery of the wheel, we’ve also got potentially other related aspects that are giving us even more questions.

“This site is giving us lots of answers but at the same time it’s throwing up questions we never thought we’d have to consider.” Analyzing the data from samples found at Must Farm could take the team several years, he added.

bronze_age_house

Artist’s  impression of what one of the roundhouses might have looked like

Other artifacts found inside the roundhouses themselves – including a small wooden box, platter, an intact “fineware” pot and clusters of animal and fish bones that could have been kitchen waste – have been described as “amazing” by archaeologists.

must_box

Archaeologists said they were “thrilled” to find a well-preserved wooden box inside one of the roundhouses

At the time of this article, the team is just over halfway through the dig to uncover the secrets of the site and the people who lived there.*

Credit:  BBC News – Cambridgeshire     (02-16)

Sunken ‘Alien Spacecraft’ under Baltic Sea still baffles experts, 5 years after discovery

The team that discovered what is today referred to as the Baltic Sea Anomaly in 2011, point out that after five years, no one has been able to identify the object which causes electronic equipment in its vicinity to malfunction.


 

Artist's impression of the anomaly by talented German artist Hauke Vagt - http://vaghauk.deviantart.com/

Artist’s impression of the anomaly by talented German artist Hauke Vagt

 
This article first appeared on Ancient Code.

It turns out that there is a mysterious sunken object located at the bottom of the ocean which ever since its discovery, has baffled both experts and marine explorers. The object which bears resemblance to the legendary spaceship from Star Wars: the Millennium Falcon, is called the ‘Baltic Sea Anomaly.’ It was found by underwater explorer research group called Ocean X Team in 2011 at a depth of 91 meters. The team led by captain Peter Lindberg and co-researcher Dennis Asberg noticed the mysterious object and what appear to be drag marks behind it using side-scan sonar equipment.

However, everything was fine until the crew which found the object reported electronic malfunctions while in the vicinity of the sunken object.

“Anything electric out there, and the satellite phone as well, stopped working when we were above the object,” Professional diver Stefan Hogerborn, part of the Ocean X team, said.

“And then when we got away about 200 metres, it turned on again, and when we got back over the object it didn’t work.”

The mysterious ‘Sunken UFO’ is sixty-one meters wide and measures approximately 8 meters in height. The mysterious spherical shape of the object has led people around the world to speculate what it might be, ever since its discovery, theories ranging from a giant mushroom to sunken Russian ship to an alien spaceship have been proposed by millions of people around the world.


One of the many sonar images which defy explanation due to the unnaturally geometric construction.


The mystery surrounding the enigmatic object at the bottom od the Baltic Sea deepened when geologist Steve Weiner said that according to his tests, the object WAS NOT a geological formation –suggesting that the structure was in fact made from “metals which nature could not reproduce itself.”

According to Volker Bruchert, an associate professor of geology at Stockholm University: “My hypothesis is that this object, this structure was formed during the Ice Age many thousands of years ago,” reports Life’s Little Mysteries.com.


 



Further reports indicate that Lindberg and Asberg apparently told the website Open Minds. Tv that the samples they offered for analysis were not from the object itself but from the vicinity of the object.

The most recent update regarding the anomaly was made in 2015 when Lindberg wrote for What’s Up in The Sky saying that while they had not been to the anomaly recently, they did, however, pass over it with the side-sonar and that they could not see anything new.

Lindberg said that they are planning on visiting the object again: “We will pretty much just be able to do the same things as we did in 2012. It is not for sure yet, but since we’re involved in a new TV project, it might give us the opportunity.”

Lindberg isn’t convinced that the object is actually an ET spacecraft. In response to one question about what the object might be, Lindberg responded: “I think it is something natural, however very odd in its shape. It is tough to give an explanation what it might be exactly since different scientists have different theories.

“For example; Kyle Kingman (marine geologist) is very certain it is a paleosol, Tom Flodén (marine geologist) thinks it might be a Manganese nodule of tremendous size. Andreas Olsson (marine archaeologist) was quite certain it must be man made after seen the blueview sonar film and videos. “

the_baltic_sea_anomaly_by_vaghauk-d4fmkwr

Artist’s impression of the anomaly by talented German artist Hauke Vagt

 


Ancient Fourni archipelago ship graveyard reveals 45 wrecks spanning thousands of years

Painting

Ulysses and the Sirens, 1909 by Draper, Herbert James (1864-1920). Ancient mythology had many supernatural explanations for dangerous waterways.

FRESH surveys of ancient Greece’s ‘Bermuda Triangle’ have revealed 45 wrecks strewn among a remote outcrop of rocky islands. And many more may yet be found.

“These 45 shipwrecks demonstrate the truly exceptional significance of the archipelago and establishes the project as one of the most exciting currently in archeology,” says expedition leader Peter Campbell of the University of Southampton.

1Shipwreck

The keel and ballast stones belonging to one of 23 new wrecks found in the Aegean’s ‘ship graveyard’.  Picture: Vasilis Mentogianis.

The cluster of 13 islands in the eastern Aegean, known as the Fourni archipelago, surged to prominence in the archaeological world last year when 22 wrecks were found in a space of just 44 square kilometres within two weeks.

Some have been tentatively dated as being as old as 2500 years.

A second expedition in June has added a further 23 wrecks to the tally after divers scoured waters up to 65 meters deep.

Divers

A diver measures Archaic Period amphoras.  Picture: Vasilis Mentogianis.

There still much more to explore, researchers say.

“The concentration of the shipwrecks and the large area remaining to be explored leaves every indication that there are many more sites to discover,” Mr Campbell says.

Anphoras

The archipelago offered both a navigational reference and hoped-for safe-haven as it represented a trading crossroads in the ancient world.

Among the new wrecks are vessels from the Archaic period (700-480 BC) all the way through to the Early Modern Period (1750-1850 AD).

“Overall, Late Roman vessels are still the predominant type, but we see that ships were travelling past Fourni in every time period,” Mr Campbell says.

Some shipwrecks carried goods from as far as North Africa, Spain, and Italy.

The joint Greek-American expedition, the Fourni Underwater Survye, is expected to continue into 2018.*

Article Source Credit: Reported by www.News.Com.Au  (07-2016)

Snowden Explains Why We Miss Aliens’ Messages: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

aliens_above

Edward Snowden said that encryption is probably the only thing stopping us from talking to aliens. He joined Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk podcast in early September 2015, and revealed that he thinks aliens might be sending out signals right now, but they’d be impossible to detect. This is not the first time Snowden, or files that he’s leaked have addressed issues surrounding extraterrestrial life.

Here’s what you need to know –

1. There’s Only a Small Window in Technological Development When We’d Be Able to Decipher Alien Signals

Snowden alien signals

According to Snowden, there is only a small period of time when technology is open enough that we would actually be able to interpret the alien signals, The Week reported. This is during the small window when society sends messages by the most primitive, unprotected means that don’t require decryption. After this window passes, messages are indecipherable.

2. Snowden Said That For the Most Part, We’d Never Recognize Alien Signals Today Because of Encryption

Snowdon

Edward Snowden has a really good theory as to why we’ve never heard from aliens

Once a society reaches the phase where it starts protecting and encrypting its messages, then messages sent out into space would be indistinguishable from microwave background radiation, Snowden continued. That is because the alien equivalent of television shows, for example, would be encrypted by default and thus appear completely random, The Guardian reported.  He said:

So when we think about everything that we’re hearing through our satellites or everything that they’re hearing from our civilization (if there are indeed aliens out there), all of their communications are encrypted by default…

Does this mean that a society could not choose to send out a broadcast that was purposefully not encrypted?

3. Iran Claimed Leaked Snowden Documents Showed the USA Was Run By Aliens

Iran snowden alien

This is not the first time that Snowden has been connected with questions about alien communications, sometimes to an almost comic effect. Last year, Iran’s semi-official news agency, FARS, claimed that it had obtained leaked Snowden documents that revealed the United States government was run by “tall white aliens,” The National Journal reported. The report was almost taken word-for-word from a conspiracy blog. Snowden himself said that he did not bring any secret documents to Russia, which is where the Iran agency claimed it obtained the information. The report was heavy on the science fiction, with claims that an Iranian had built a time machine and that 80 species of aliens were on Earth, getting ready to wage interplanetary war.

4. Leaked Snowden Documents Did Show the Government Will Use Alien Conspiracies to Distract From Real Secrets

Snowden UFO leaked document

There was at least one authenticated leaked Snowden document that actually did relate to aliens, Yahoo reported. Slides of mysterious flying saucers were seen among the documents leaked by the NSA whistleblower. But these were connected to a series of reports detailing how the United States government might discredit someone by connecting them to alien sightings or might distract from a secret aircraft project by releasing faked photos of UFOs.

5. Researchers Are Also Looking Into a Series of Strange Radio Signals As Possible Communication

parkes observatory telescope

Although Snowden believes that deciphering alien signals is impossibly difficult, others don’t agree. New Scientist reported that scientists working with the Parkes telescope in Australia are studying a series of fast-radio bursts since 2001. The sounds come from far outside the galaxy, from something relatively small, and don’t fit cosmic physics patterns, leading some to believe they may alien communications and not natural.

All the bursts are multiples of a single number, 187.5. If the patterns continue to hold, they could indicate either a new physics, such as a new type of pulsar, or an alien beacon of some sort.

New Artifact-Filled Chambers Revealed under Teotihuacan

Tunnel-under-pyramid-in-Teotihucan
Big news in the archaeology world:
In 2003, torrential rains exposed the mouth of a previously unknown tunnel near the Temple of the Feathered Serpent at Teotihuacan, in central Mexico. Feathered Serpent excavation

Now, more than a decade later, researchers have reached the end of the 340’ (103m) tunnel (illustration) that runs about 60’ below the Temple. Finds from the tunnel (including the figure shown in the photo above) include engraved conch shells, amber fragments, mirrors, greenstone statues, ear spools, seeds, worked stone, beads, bones of animals and humans, mysterious clay spheres coated with a yellow mineral – over 50,000 pieces in all.

teo-feathered-serpentThe photo (left) shows the outside of the structure. A section added around 400 AD obscures the original façade (photo) featuring the feathered serpents that gave the structure its name. Archaeologists debate the significance of the figures. One set seems to be a realistic serpent while the other is a more blocky stylized creature sometimes identified at Tall, the storm god. However, Karl Taube, Mary Ellen Miller, and Michael Coe have said it is more likely a “war serpent” or “fire serpent.” At one time, the circles were filled with obsidian pieces that would have caught the sunlight.

<Teo feathered serpent Teotihuacan Facade_of_the_Temple_of_the_Feathered_Serpent

Many people label the new finds in the tunnel under the temple extravagant, gruesome, mysterious. Yet, when viewed next to teotihuacan-facade_of_the_temple_of_the_feathered_serpent

earlier finds from Teotihuacan and those of other cities in the area, the new discoveries seem very consistent. It’s their purpose that remains a mystery.

Where and What is Teotihuacan?

Teotihuacan, Maya, Olmec, Mixtec.  – The site is located about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico City.

teo-maya-olmec-map Teotihuacan is a world-famous archaeological site north of Mexico City, known for its massive pyramids, its precise layout, and the mystery surrounding its birth, its death, and a lot of what happened in between. We don’t know exactly who started this city around 150 BC, why these people embarked on an almost constant monumental building effort from 150 BC to around 250 AD, or what led to the sacking and burning of the city around 550 AD.

teotihuacan-view_from_pyramide_de_la_luna<Teotihuacan View_from_Pyramide_de_la_luna

Adding to the mystery is the lack of any written records. Either the people who burned the city also burned any written materials, or there simply weren’t any. It’s hard to imagine people designing and building such precise, massive structures without a written record, but none have appeared so far in the excavations.

At its height, the city center covered 19 square miles (32 square kilometers) and served a population of 25,000 to 150,000, depending on what source you read, making it the largest city in the Western Hemisphere at the time. Its military power and cultural influence spread throughout central Mexico, out into the Yucatan Peninsula and down into Guatemala.

On the other hand, Teotihuacan also borrowed from earlier and contemporary cultures in Mexico, especially the Olmec, Maya, and Mixtec. The very deliberate, celestially aligned design of earlier Olmec cities like La Venta and Tres Zapotes, with clusters of mounds and central plazas, found its greatest expression in Teotihuacan.

teo-olmec-mask<Olmec mask

Olmec masks like the one in the photo (left) provided inspiration for the artisans of Teotihuacan. The one shown in the photo (right) came from the newly excavated tunnel under the Temple of the Feathered Serpent. Teotihuacan mask Olmec greenstone masks and figures were a few of many cultural features absorbed into the Teotihuacan culture.

Maya and Mixtec cosmology from contemporary cities also found its way into Teotihuacan culture, as did the value placed on items like fine ceramics and greenstone.

But whatever earlier cities contributed to Teotihuacan, the Teotihuacanos exaggerated. Pyramids became gigantic. The Pyramid of the Sun, (photo, below) the most massive building on the site, stands 233.6’ (71.2 m) tall, and 733.2’ (223.5 m) long and wide, a huge, commanding construction even today. With its decorative plaster coating and top-most temple long gone, it now has the severe look of a multi-national corporate headquarters, a symbol of complete, collective, threatening, and unemotional power.

Pyramid_of_the_SunPyramid of the Sun

The whole site was so impressive to the Aztecs who moved into the area 600 years after Teotihuacan was abandoned that they considered it a holy place, a place where gods walked. Even the Spanish conquistadors didn’t destroy it. Its major damage has come from looters, both private and institutional, and from the ravages of time.

great_goddessSpiritual Beliefs

Murals painted in upper class Teotihuacan living areas have provided important clues about the people’s spiritual beliefs, especially veneration of a figure often called the Great Goddess, who is associated with the sacred mountain visible from the site, called Cerro Gordo (Fat Mountain), as well as water flowing from the mountain, rivers and rain, fertility and new growth.

<Teotihuacan-Great_Goddess

In the mural shown, the central figure (and the only one shown in the frontal view reserved for deities) has a bird face/mask with a strange mouth that might represent an owl or a spider. Out of the green feather headdress a twisting plant grows – perhaps a hallucinogenic morning glory vine. Circles (sometimes interpreted as mirrors), spiders and butterflies decorate the vine. Flowers sprout from its tips. Birds appear, some with sound scrolls, which probably indicate songs. From the figure’s outstretched hands, drops of water fall. Her torso splits into curling rolls filled with flowers and plants. From the bottom, under an arch of stars, seeds fall toward the border, which is a series of waves carrying stars and underwater creatures.

The figures shown in profile on the right and left of the Great Goddess carry what look like medicine bundles/offerings in one hand. From their other hand water emerges, as well as a cascade of seeds and circles. The entire background is a deep blood red. Karl Taube has related the circles to mirrors that appear in the creation story in which the sun shoots an arrow into the house of mirrors. The serpent, then released, fertilizes the earth. Thus, he argues, the serpent appears on the façade of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent surrounded by a headdress of mirrors.

tepantitla_mountain_stream_mura<Teotihuacan Tepantitla_Mountain_Stream_mura

The panel below the picture of the Great Goddess shows bands of water emerging from a mountain around which red, blue, and yellow human figures swim, interact (sing? dance?) and float among butterflies while plants sprout along a snake-like band of water. Interestingly, for a city known for its militarism and bloody sacrifices, the scene looks idyllic.

Some experts suggest that the Great Goddess figure was borrowed from the earlier Olmec figure recorded in a petroglyph at Chalcatzingo that shows a woman seated in a cave from which water flows. Outside the cave, maize plants sprout as male rain falls. (Photo, left; illustration, right)

chalcatzingo-petroglyph<Chalcatzingo petroglyph Chalcatzingo_Monument drawing

Others point to the Maya water deity Ixchel, the goddess of the moon, rain, surface chalcatzingo_monument-drawingwaters, weaving and childbirth, sometimes called the Midwife of Creation. (shown as a young woman in the illustration below).

Maya Ixchel Maiden

In her role as Mother Goddess and weaver, she set the universe in motion through the movement of her drop spindle. She was also called the Spider’s Web because she caught the morning dew in her web and made the drops into stars. However, she had two sides: the young woman and the old crone. She was both healer and destroyer, bringing about the destruction of the third creation through a terrible flood and then helping to birth the new age.

teo-maya-ixchel-maidenOf course, all of these interpretations have their detractors. Karl Taube interprets the entire site as an exaltation of sacred war. He says the circles found in the caches are related to the mirrors worn by warriors as well as to the house of mirrors from which the creator serpent originated in the creation story. The bodies found in the offertory caches might be captive warriors. His theory, however, doesn’t explain the significance of the murals.

Aztec water goddess Chalciuhtlicue

 Interestingly, the later Aztec water goddess Chalchiuhtilicue, who presides over running water and aids in childbirth, shares many features with the figure in the Teotihuacan murals painted hundreds of years earlier.

New Finds

So back to the amazing new discoveries –

The excavated section of the newly excavated tunnel under the Temple of the Feathered Serpent has 18 walls scattered throughout the length of the tunnel in a zigzag pattern, which archaeologists believe were used to seal off the tunnel on previous occasions. So this same route had been used many times before for some purpose, yet this was the last time. After this offering was placed, the tunnel was purposely filled and sealed.

tunnel_grid_search<Teotihuacan tunnel

Gomez feels going down the tunnel and leaving offerings probably had a ritual purpose. The original city was built over a four-chambered lava tube cave. In Mesoamerican cultures, caves were considered portals to the Underworld and the places of emergence at the time of creation. Perhaps, Gomez said, the trip into the tunnel provided the ritual power needed for a new leader. (Photo shows recent discovers in the tunnel, including greenstone figures in the foreground, dozens of conch shells, and plain pottery.

teo-shells-and-pots

 

 

Or the trip into the tunnel could have been a pilgrimage, a way to make contact with powerful spirit forces. Following the pattern evident in so many religious rituals around the world, the supplicant may have offered sacrifices in order to recognize the gods’ power and to seek their help.

A Survey of Discoveries

Back in 1982 and 1989, mass graves were found under and near the same Temple of the Feathered Serpent. The sites, dated to the period the temple was constructed, about 150 AD, included 137 people who’d been sacrificed with their hands tied behind their backs. They were accompanied by cut and engraved shells from the Gulf Coast (150 miles away), obsidian blades, slate disks, mirrors, ear spools, and a greenstone figurine with pyrite eyes. A hundred years later, people left very similar offerings in the tunnel.

In 1999, a burial site was discovered within the Pyramid of the Moon. That site yielded 150 burial offerings, including obsidian blades and points, greenstone figures, pyrite mirrors, conch and other shells, and the remains of eight birds of prey and two jaguars. Again, these are very similar offerings.

The male buried in the tomb under the Pyramid of the Moon was bound and executed, which seems to make it a sacrifice rather than a memorial. All of the human bodies found so far have been sacrificed. Some were decapitated, some had their hearts removed, others were bludgeoned to death. Some wore necklaces of human teeth. Sacred animals were also sacrificed: jaguars, eagles, falcons, owls, even snakes.

The 2014 discoveries, like the others, have been extravagant and gruesome. Some of the precious objects discovered in the tunnel include arrowheads, obsidian, amber, four large greenstone statues, pottery, dozens of conch shells, a wooden box of shells, animal bones and hair, skin, dozens of plain pottery jars, 15,000 seeds, 4,000 wooden objects, rubber balls, pyrite mirrors, crystal spheres, jaguar remains, even clay balls covered in yellow pigment (shown in photo). And some came quite a distance – conch shells from the Gulf of Mexico, jade from Guatemala, rubber balls from Olmec or Maya sites.

Teotihuacan yellow orbs

teo-yellow-orbsWhile this team, like the earlier ones, hopes to find a royal burial, as of this moment, they haven’t. So far, this too seems to be an offertory cache. The difference is that this moment doesn’t mark the building of a new pyramid; it marks the effective end of construction. Some event required this extravagant offering. While some think this cache might be the remains of a huge feast marking a great funerary and sacrificial ceremony, a tunnel 60’ underground seems an odd place for a celebration.

The timing suggests the event was more than the death of an old ruler or the ascension of a new ruler who needed the spiritual trappings of leadership. It looks as if the city faced a crisis – perhaps weather changes, disease, internal strife, or some other threat. At this critical point, they might have turned to the Great Goddess, the one responsible for life and death and new life, to help revive the old strength that defined Teotihuacan. Indeed, the murals featuring the Great Goddess as the provider of joyful, abundant life were painted about the same time.

According to Mary Ellen Miller’s book The Art of Mesoamerica, “Constant rain and water crises at Teotihuacan exacerbated the difficulty of building and maintaining the city. The preparation of lime for mortar and stucco requires vast amounts of firewood to burn limestone or seashells, and the more Teotihuacan grew, the more the surrounding forests were depleted. With deforestation came soil erosion, drought, and crop failure. In response, Teotihuacan may have erected ever more temples and finished more paintings thus perpetuating the cycle.”

Whether this environmental degradation from both drought and flood was the crisis that precipitated the offering or only part of it, we don’t know. However, if crops failed, the power structure would soon fail as well.

A Similar Case

In 1200 AD, a terrible drought in what is now Arkansas (USA) drove people to bring their precious stone pipes, engraved shell cups, stone maces, projectile points, and colorful woven tapestries to the site of a new mound to be constructed. They chanted and sang and danced and said prayers after they built high walls and a domed roof around the offering chamber. “They gathered at Spiro,” George Sabo, director of the Arkansas Archaeological Survey said, “brought sacred materials, and arranged them in a very specific way in order to perform a ritual intended to reboot the world.”

Perhaps that’s also what the Teotihuacanos tried to do.*

 

Article source:  MisFitsAndHeroes.wordpress.com/tag/discoveries-at-teotihuacan/

Ancient Arabic Book of Astrology and Magic dating back to the 10th or 11th century.

Image of opened magic book with magic lights

Imagine a real book of magical recipes and spells just like we dreamt of as children reading fairy tales?

The Picatrix is that book.

Dating back to the 10th or 11the century, it is an ancient Arabian book of astrology and occult magic. The Picatrix is filled with spells and cryptic astrological descriptions for almost any wish and has been translated and used by many cultures over the centuries.

Originally written in arabic, it was called Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm, which translates to “The Goal or Aim of the Sage“.

It was then translated to Spanish and to latin in 1256 for the Castilian king Alfonso.

That’s when it took on the known title Picatrix. Researcher David Pingree calls it “the most thorough exposition of celestial magic in Arabic” and describes the Picatrix as “Arabic texts on Hermeticism, Sabianism, Ismailism, astrology, alchemy and magic produced in the Near East in the ninth and tenth centuries A.D.”

The four books, which contain different chapters, are as follows:

  • Book I – “Of the heavens and the effects they cause through images made under them”
  • Book II – “Of the figures of the heavens in general, and of the general motion of the sphere, and of their effects in this world”
  • Book III – “Of the properties of the planets and signs, and of their figures and forms made in their colors, and how one may speak with the spirits of the planets, and of many other magical workings”
  • Book IV – “Of the properties of spirits, and of those things that are necessary to observe in this most excellent art, and how they may be summoned with images and other things”

The chapters then are divided amongst magic and its properties, the works of the planets, sun, and moon, the order of natural things, stones appropriate for each planet, figures, colors, garments, and incenses of the planets, confections of the spirits of the planets, and of averting harmful workings, and magic of miraculous effect, and the foods, incense, unguents, and perfumes that ought to be used to work by the spirits of the seven planets, how the vigor of the spirit of the Moon is drawn into things here below, and how incenses of the stars ought to be made, and certain compounds needed in this science.

old skull on old book and copper cauldron

What are in these magical recipes?

Well, they are regarded as obscene. The gross concoctions for various outcomes like “generating enmity” are meant to alter states of consciousness, and can even lead to out-of-body experiences or even death. Here’s what some of the ingredients include: blood, bodily excretions, brain matter mixed with copious amounts of hashish, opium, and psychoactive plants.

But they aren’t all so gruesome.

The Picatrix also heavily focuses on astrology, and viewing the future with the intention of controlling or improving it. There are dozens of spells to bring about desires and outcomes, which involve taking certain steps that consider the positions of cosmology. For instance, the spell to place love between two people is:

“Fashion two images with the 1st face of Cancer rising, and Venus therein, and the Moon in the 1st face of Taurus in the eleventh house. And when you have made these images, join each to the other face to face and bury them in the house of the other . And they will care for each other and have an enduring love between them.” (The Picatrix Book I, Chapter 5)

Other examples of spells include finding lost treasure, increasing crops, health, wealth and friendship.

However, historians note that some may have been lost in translation.

One researcher, Martin Plessner says, “neither the Arabic psychology of study nor the Hebrew definition of the experiment is rendered in the Latin Picatrix. The Latin translator omits many theoretical passages throughout the work.”

Either way, this ancient document is fascinating. It marks and represents many themes that have evolved throughout human history. As mysterious as it all may be, this may give us some clues to astrological phenomena and “black” magic.
References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picatrix

Researchers Discover Ancient Elixir For Modern Deadly Bacteria

mrsa1

At the University of Nottingham in Britain, researchers have rediscovered an ancient medicinal elixir that appears to fight a very modern scourge: a deadly drug-resistant bacterial infection rampant in hospitals.

The discovery melds medieval potion-making with modern pharmacology. In its crosshairs: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.

Let’s imagine that during a nighttime escape through Sherwood Forest, an early archetype for the legendary figure Robin Hood scratched his cornea on a branch and developed an eye infection. In nearby Nottingham, he might well have consulted an herbalist, who would fetch a brass vessel, brew a remedy of bile from a cow’s stomach and Allium — a plant from the garlic family — and create an unguent to treat the patient’s inflamed eye.

Until recently, the recipe for that medieval remedy lay unnoticed in the brittle pages of a 1,000-year-old text — titled “Bald’s Leechbook” — shelved in the library of the University of Nottingham’s Institute for Medieval Research.

Leafing through that folio, Viking studies professor Christina Lee wondered what its ancient recipes revealed about the state of medieval medical knowledge, and whether and how, a millennium before the germ theory of disease was understood, healers and herbalists had guessed right in choosing their treatments.

Lee translated the recipe for the eye salve from the original Old English recipe in “Bald’s Leechbook,” and enlisted chemists at her university’s Center for Biomolecular Sciences to recreate the unguent and test its effect.

Lee’s request came at a crucial time. With a paucity of new antimicrobial medications in the development pipeline, Nottingham microbiologist Freya Harrison was looking for inspiration. Lee’s idea might allow her team to reach deep into the past in search of undiscovered or underappreciated antimicrobial agents.

Scientists in Harrison’s lab followed the recipe precisely, making four separate batches with fresh ingredients each time. They also devised a control treatment using the same quantity of distilled water and brass sheet to mimic the brewing container, but leaving the vegetable compounds out.

In lab conditions that set off riotous growth of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, the 1,000-year-old recipe had a powerful killing effect: roughly 1 in 1,000 bacterial cells growing in plugs of collagen survived when doused with the ancient salve.

Later, in infected wounds induced in mice, the remedy killed 90 percent of MRSA bacteria.

Harrison says she was “absolutely blown away” with the antique recipe’s effects. She had assumed it might show “a small amount of antibiotic activity.” Researchers have found some of its elements — copper and bile salts in particular — to have some effect on bacteria in the lab. And plants in the garlic family are known to make chemicals that interfere with bacteria’s ability to damage infected tissues.

But compared with the control substance, there was something powerful about the combination of these elements in this ancient formulation, Harrison said. The eye salve had the power even to breach the sticky coating and the dense clustering of mature colonies of bacteria, which are notorious resistant to antibacterial treatments.

When Harrison’s lab diluted the salve to see whether it would continue to work, they perceived what they believe is the medication’s mechanism of action: Even when the diluted salve failed to kill S. aureus, it interfered with communication among cells in the bacterial colony — a key finding because those signals switch on genes that allow bacteria to damage infected tissues. Blocking this signaling is seen as a promising way to treat infection.

We know that MRSA-infected wounds are exceptionally difficult to treat in people and in mouse models,” said Kendra Rumbaugh, who performed the testing of Bald’s remedy on MRSA-infected skin wounds in mice. “We have not tested a single antibiotic or experimental therapeutic that is completely effective,” added Rumbaugh, a professor of surgery at Texas Tech University’s School of Medicine. But she said the ancient remedy was at least as effective — “if not better than the conventional antibiotics we used.”

The collaboration between Old English remedies and microbiology has given rise to a program called AncientBiotics at Nottingham, where researchers will seek funding to extend research combining the ancient arts and modern sciences.

Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area.*

 

Source:  Written by Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times and first appeared in The Union Bulletin.