Archaeologists in Nepal say they have discovered traces of a wooden structure dating from the sixth century BC which they believe is the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine.
Kosh Prasad Acharya, who worked with archaeologists from Durham University, said on Tuesday that the structure had been unearthed inside the sacred Mayadevi temple in Lumbini.
The Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, is generally thought to have been born in about the sixth century BC at the temple site.
The findings were published in the December issue of the journal Antiquity.
Acharya said the traces had been date tested using radiocarbon and luminescence techniques. The archaeological team dug underneath previously known brick structures in the temple, and experts from the University of Stirling examined and collected the samples, he said. The team has been working at the site for the past three years.
Previously, a pillar installed by the Indian emperor Ashok with inscriptions dating to the third century BC was considered to be the oldest Buddhist structure, Acharya said. “This finding further strengthens the chronology of Buddha’s life and was is major news for the millions of Buddhists around the world,” Acharya said.
“Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition,” a Durham University archaeologist, Robin Coningham, said. “Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a building there as early as the sixth century BC.”
Each year, tens of thousands of Buddhists visit Lumbini, 175 miles south-west of Kathmandu. Followers believe Siddhartha, a prince, left his family and kingdom and meditated in the jungles of Nepal and India before achieving enlightenment. …
Archive for the ‘Archaeology’ Category
Posted by Xeno on November 28, 2013
Posted by Xeno on November 28, 2013
If you opened a 101-year-old time capsule and found a mysterious package addressed to the descendants of an unknown man, would you open it? That’s the question a church in Michigan now faces after they recently cracked open a time capsule from 1912, and found something they couldn’t quite explain.
The Lansing State Journal has this fascinating story of a cornerstone capsule that’s leaving members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Grand Ledge scratching their heads. The capsule included everything you’d expect from one of the era, including photographs, church literature, and newspapers. But it also included a package with cryptic instructions for the future.
Dated May 2, 1912, the handwriting on the package is a little hard to make out. But according to Alan Miller, who wrote about it for the Lansing State Journal, it reads:
If opened after the lapse of many years, these are to be presented to relatives of Rev. Foote if any are alive. Cassius Alexander, Warden. Presented by Rev. J. E. Foote Congregational Minister.
A 1948 book about the history of churches in the area mentions the 1912 time capsule and even includes a list of contents. But the mysterious package isn’t mentioned at all.
One of the photographs included in the capsule supposedly shows Reverend Foote. He’s the man on the left holding the white hat. But nobody at the church really has any idea who he was or whether he has any descendants.
Most importantly, nobody has any idea what could be in the package. And it seems that the church has no plans to open it until they figure out if old Reverend Foote has any living relatives.
I did a cursory newspaper archive search and the only mention of a Reverend J. E. Foote that I could find in any Michigan newspaper of the era came from the November 16, 1911 edition of the Marshall Evening Statesman. It appears Reverend Foote went deer hunting every autumn:
Cadillac — For the eighth season Rev. J. E. Foote has gone into the north woods to hunt deer. The pastor goes alone, and in Schoolcraft county is joined by a brother. Rev. Foote always bags his allotment.
Who are Reverend Foote and Cassius Alexander and why did they send this time-traveling package to Foote’s descendants? I’ve reached out to Trinity Episcopal Church and will keep you posted if there are any new developments in this time capsule mystery. Until then, let the wild speculation begin. …
What would you leave to a future ancestor 100 years from now?
Posted by Xeno on November 21, 2013
Classical scholars from the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” made an unusually large find of seals in an ancient sanctuary in Turkey. They discovered more than 600 stamp seals and cylinder seals at the sacred site of the storm and weather god Jupiter Dolichenus, 100 of which in the current year alone. “Such large amounts of seal consecrations are unheard-of in any comparable sanctuary”, said excavation director Prof. Dr. Engelbert Winter and archaeologist Dr. Michael Blömer at the end of the excavation season. In this respect, the finding of numerous pieces from the 7th to the 4th centuries B.C. close to the ancient city of Doliche is unparalleled.
“The amazingly large number proves how important seals and amulets were for the worshipping of the god to whom they were consecrated as votive offerings”, according to Classical scholar Prof. Winter. Many pieces show scenes of adoration. “Thus, they provide a surprisingly vivid and detailed insight into the faith of the time.” The stamp seals and cylinder seals as well as scarabs, made of glass, stone and quartz ceramics, were mostly crafted in a high-quality manner. Following the restoration work, the finds were handed over to the relevant museum in Gaziantep in Turkey.
Different themes can be found on the seals and amulets: the spectrum ranges from geometric ornaments and astral symbols to elaborate depictions of animals and people. This includes, for example, praying men in front of divine symbols. Another popular theme was a royal hero fighting animals and hybrid creatures. “Even those images that do not depict a deity express strong personal piety: with their seals, people consecrated an object to their god which was closely associated with their own identity”, said Blömer. People wore the amulets found with the seals in everyday life. “Strung on chains, they were supposed to fend off bad luck”, explained the archaeologist.
From the Iron Age until the Roman Empire
Up to now, the researchers were able to identify late Babylonian, local Syrian Achaemenid and Levantine seals. “The large find provides new impetus for research to answer unsolved questions of cult practices, cult continuity and cult extension – above all, these are important for the understanding of the early history of the sanctuary in the 1st millennium B.C., which had been unknown until recently”, according to Prof. Winter. Later, in the 2nd century A.D., Jupiter Dolichenus turned into one of the most important deities of the Roman Empire. …
Only a few were found to have magical properties, such as the ability to heal paper cuts, hypnotize horses, and bring on a rain of frogs.
Posted by Xeno on October 23, 2013
The enormous 38ft long Tyrannosaurus rex was discovered just a few miles from the 26ft Triceratops – and together they are set to fetch more than two million pounds.
Experts have described the incredible finds as “very significant, very impressive and very valuable”.
The T-rex skeleton is so significant that it is said to be among the top 20 ever found in the world, as it boasts around 40 per cent of its original bones.
The rest of the skeleton is made up of cast bones from other T-rex finds.
The Triceratops, a herbivore known for having two large horns on its head and a smaller one on its nose, is 70 per cent original.
The bones of the gigantic beasts were found on a 20 square mile ranch in Hell Creek in the U.S. state of Montana before being excavated by dinosaur fossil hunters.
They have since been prepared and mounted ready for sale.
The T-rex has been named ‘Russell’ after the American artist Charles Russell, who used a nearby shed when painting some of his Western landscapes.
It is tipped to fetch £1.4 million, while the Triceratops could fetch £560,000.
The world record for the most expensive dinosaur fossil was set in 1997 when ‘Sue’, a Tyrannosaurus rex, sold for £5.4 million.
Posted by Xeno on October 18, 2013
Georgian scientists on Friday showed off a 1.8 million-year-old skull discovered in the Caucasus nation that researchers say could force a re-evaluation of current theories of human evolution.
The skull – unearthed in the medieval town of Dmanisi some 100 kilometres (62 miles) southwest of Tbilisi – is the first completely preserved skull found from that period.
Along with four other skull samples uncovered at the site, it appears to show that early man was a single species with a wide range of looks rather than several distinct species.
“Today in this skull – and the other Dmanisi samples – we see all the features lumped together in one group that we previously thought identified different groups,” David Lordkipanidze, Georgia’s national museum director, told AFP after a presentation in the capital Tbilisi on Friday.
The collection – which is housed in the vault of Georgia’s national museum – is “the richest collection of hominids in the world from that time”, Lordkipanidze, the lead researcher on the project, said.
“We wanted to share with the Georgian public here what we had found,” he said before allowing a small number of journalists into the vault to see the original skull.
The stunningly well-preserved find has an almost-complete set of teeth and seems more elongated than a normal human skull. …
Posted by Xeno on September 23, 2013
The question of how human societies evolve from small groups to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today has been answered mathematically, accurately matching the historical record on the emergence of complex states in the ancient world.
Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to new research from a trans-disciplinary team at the University of Connecticut, the University of Exeter in England, and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). The study appears this week as an open-access article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study’s cultural evolutionary modelpredicts where and when the largest-scale complex societies arose in human history.
Simulated within a realistic landscape of the Afro-Eurasian landmass during 1,500 BCE to 1,500 CE, the mathematical model was tested against the historical record. During the time period, horse-related military innovations, such as chariots and cavalry, dominated warfare within Afro-Eurasia. Geography also mattered, as nomads living in the Eurasian Steppe influenced nearby agrarian societies, thereby spreading intense forms of offensive warfare out from the steppe belt.
The study focuses on the interaction of ecology and geography as well as the spread of military innovations and predicts that selection for ultra-social institutions that allow for cooperation in huge groups of genetically unrelated individuals and large-scale complex states, is greater where warfare is more intense. …
Great. I guess any intelligent aliens we encounter now are more likely to be warriors? Well, at least in their past.
Posted by Xeno on September 21, 2013
What caused the sudden rush of these most powerful leaders of the Western World to go to Afghanistan, this report continues, was to directly view the discovery by US Military scientists of what is described as a “Vimana” entrapped in a “Time Well”
that has already caused the “disappearance” of at least 8 American Soldiers trying to remove it from the cave it has been hidden in for the past estimated 5,000 years.
What an amazing load of unsubstantiated wishful thinking about what we must reasonably assume are ancient works of fiction. Belief in outrageous claims without evidence is a solid definition of crazy. I have a few Vimanas around here somewhere…
Posted by Xeno on September 13, 2013
Tricorder-style handheld scanners could help archaeologists uncover historical secrets without having to wait months for laboratory results.
Researchers from Sheffield University have adapted technology used to identify materials in scrap metal yards and docks, in order to determine the geographical origin of certain stone tools in just 10 seconds.
The portable scanner uses X-rays to analyse the chemical composition of ancient tools made from obsidian volcanic glass and identify where they came from, which could help archaeologists study the migration of groups of early humans.
Dr Ellery Frahm, who led development of the technique, said the scanner would enable archaeologists to make judgements about a dig site as artefacts were uncovered but also overcome the difficult of taking discoveries out of a country for lab-based analysis.
“Even though the analytical techniques are better than ever, it’s getting harder and harder to do these things in any meaningful way,” he told The Engineer.
“If you are dependent on lab-based chemical analysis you’re doomed to have an inconsequential number of articles available. You’ll have to make judgements based on the worst dozen artefacts that a country is willing to let go.”
The device uses a technique called X-ray fluorescence, whereby a material is bombarded with X-rays and subsequently emits photons with a specific energy signature depending the chemical composition of the substance. …
Posted by Xeno on August 29, 2013
Iron is a great material for making tools. But the oldest known iron artifacts were actually intended for decoration: nine Egyptian beads that date back to 3200 BC. And now we know that this ancient jewelry has an even more impressive origin—the iron out of which it was crafted came from space.
The metal cylinders were in 1911. To analyze the structure and chemical composition of the beads, researchers bombarded them with neutrons and gamma rays. The tests revealed that the jewelry contained trace elements not present in Earthly ores—but that are found in iron-rich meteorites. The study is in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The meteoric metal was hammered flat and rolled into beads more than 5000 years ago. This date is some 1500 years before the invention of smelting. That technique made it possible for terrestrial iron to be shaped into tools, and to supplant copper and bronze as civilization’s metal of choice. The new finding shows that long before smelting revolutionized tool use, some humans were already iron men. …
Posted by Xeno on August 14, 2013
University of Colorado Boulder researcher shows the oldest known petroglyphs in North America, which are cut into several boulders in western Nevada, date to at least 10,500 years ago and perhaps even as far back as 14,800 years ago.
The petroglyphs located at the Winnemucca Lake petroglyph site 35 miles northeast of Reno consist of large, deeply carved grooves and dots forming complex designs on several large limestone boulders that have been known about for decades, said CU-Boulder researcher Larry Benson, who led the new effort. Although there are no people, animals or handprint symbols depicted, the petroglyph designs include a series of vertical, chain-like symbols and a number of smaller pits deeply incised with a type of hard rock scraper.
Benson and his colleagues used several methods to date the petroglyphs, including determining when the water level the Winnemucca Lake subbasin—which back then was a single body of water connecting the now-dry Winnemucca Lake and the existing Pyramid Lake—reached the specific elevation of 3,960 feet.
The elevation was key to the study because it marked the maximum height the ancient lake system could have reached before it began spilling excess water over Emerson Pass to the north. When the lake level was at this height, the petroglyph-peppered boulders were submerged and therefore not accessible for carving, said Benson, an adjunct curator of anthropology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.
A paper on the subject was published this month in the Journal of Archaeological Science. Co-authors on the study included Eugene Hattori of the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, Nev., John Southon of the University of California, Irvine and Benjamin Aleck of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitor’s Center in Nixon, Nev. The National Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey funded the study.
According to Benson, a white layer of carbonate made of limestone precipitated from the ancient, overflowing Winnemucca Lake had coated some of the petroglyph carvings near the base of the boulders. Previous work by Benson showed the carbonate coating elsewhere in the basin at that elevation had a radiocarbon date of roughly 11,000 years ago.
Benson sampled the carbonate into which the petroglyphs were incised and the carbonate that coated the petroglyphs at the base of the limestone boulder. The radiocarbon dates on the samples indicated the carbonate layer underlying the petroglyphs dated to roughly 14,800 ago. Those dates, as well as additional geochemical data on a sediment core from the adjacent Pyramid Lake subbasin, indicated the limestone boulders containing the petroglyphs were exposed to air between 14,800 and 13,200 years ago and again between about 11,300 and 10,500 years ago.
“Prior to our study, archaeologists had suggested these petroglyphs were extremely old,” said Benson, also an emeritus USGS scientist. “Whether they turn out to be as old as 14,800 years ago or as recent as 10,500 years ago, they are still the oldest petroglyphs that have been dated in North America.”
While Native American artifacts found in the Lahontan Basin—which encompasses the Winnemucca Lake subbasin—date to the time period of 11,300 to 10,500 years ago, it does not rule out the possibility that the petroglyphs were carved as early as 14,800 years ago, Benson said.
The oldest dates calculated for the Winnemucca Lake petroglyph site correspond with the time frame linked to several pieces of fossilized human excrement found in a cave in Oregon, said Benson, who also is affiliated with CU’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. The caves, known as the Paisley Caves in south central Oregon, held not only fossilized human coprolites that dated to roughly 14,400 years ago, but also bones of horses and camels that went extinct in North America prior to 13,000 years ago.
The younger time interval calculated for the Winnemucca petroglyphs corresponds to dates obtained from a second significant archaeological finding in the region—Spirit Cave Man, who was discovered more than 70 years ago some 60 miles east of Reno and whose hair, bones and clothing were dated to about 10,600 years ago. The remains of the man, who was found partially mummified in a shallow grave in Spirit Cave, Nev., were discovered with a fur robe, a woven marsh plant shroud and moccasins. …