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Dating of beads sets new timeline for early humans

An international team of researchers and archaeologists, led by Oxford University has new dating evidence indicating when the earliest fully modern humans arrived in the Near East, the region known as the Middle East today.

They have obtained the radiocarbon dates of marine shell beads found at Ksar Akil, a key archaeological site in Lebanon, which allowed them to calculate that the oldest human fossil from the same sequence of archaeological layers is 42,400–41,700 years old. This is significant because the age of the earliest fossils, directly and indirectly dated, of modern humans found in Europe is roughly similar.

This latest discovery throws up intriguing new possibilities about the routes taken by the earliest modern humans out of Africa, says the study published online by the journal PLOS ONE.


Beads from the site of Ksar Akil (Lebanon) found closely associated with the skeleton of an early modern girl dating to between 39,000–41,000 years ago. The beads shown here are made of the shell of a small marine snail (Nassarius gibbosulus/circumcinctus). The large Glycymeris valve in the centre was not pierced, but its surface preserved bright red pigmentation. [Phys.org]

The research team radiocarbon dated 20 marine shells from the top 15 metres of archaeological layers at Ksar Akil, north of Beirut. The shells were perforated, which indicates they were used as beads for body or clothes decoration by modern humans. Neanderthals, who were living in the same region before them, were not making such beads. The study confirms that the shell beads are only linked to the parts of the sequence assigned to modern humans and shows that through direct radiocarbon dating they are between 41,000–35,000 years old.

The Middle East has always been regarded as a key region in prehistory for scholars speculating on the routes taken by early humans out of Africa because it lies at the crossroads of three continents – Africa, Asia and Europe. It was widely believed that at some point after 45,000 years ago early modern humans arrived in Europe, taking routes out of Africa through the Near East and, from there, along the Mediterranean rim or along the River Danube. However, this dating evidence suggests populations of early modern humans arrived in Europe and the Near East at roughly the same time, sparking a new debate about where the first populations of early humans travelled from in their expansion towards Europe and which alternative routes they may have taken.

The excavations at Ksar Akil in 1938. Workers digging at 17 metres below the surface. Chief archaeologist examines their finds from above (shown here in the middle right of the picture wearing a hat). Credit: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

In Ksar Akil, the Lebanese rockshelter, several human remains were found in the original excavations made 75 years ago. Unfortunately, since then the most complete skeleton of a young girl, thought to be about 7–9 years of age and buried at the back of the rock shelter, has been lost. Lost also are the fragments of a second individual, found next to the buried girl. However, the team was able to calculate the age of the lost fossil at 40,800–39,200 years ago, taking into account its location in the sequence of archaeological layers in relation to the marine shell beads.

Another fossil of a recently rediscovered fragment of the upper jaw of a woman, now located in a museum in Beirut, had insufficient collagen to be dated by radiocarbon methods. A method using statistical modelling was used to date by association the jaw fragment at 42,400–41,700 years old.

Ksar Akil is one of the most important Palaeolithic sites in Eurasia. It consists of a 23-metre-deep sequence of archaeological layers that lay undisturbed for thousands of years until a team of American Jesuit priests excavated the rockshelter in 1937–38, and again after the end of the Second World War, in 1947–48. The cave layers were found to contain the human fossils and hundreds of shell beads, as well as thousands of stone tools and broken bones of hunted and consumed animals.

Study lead author Dr Katerina Douka, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said: ‘This is a region where scholars have been expecting to find early evidence of anatomically and behaviourally modern humans, like us, leaving Africa and directly replacing Eurasian Neanderthal populations that lived there for more than 150,000 years. The human fossils at Ksar Akil appear to be of a similar age to fossils in other European contexts. It is possible that instead of the Near East being the single point of origin for modern humans heading for Europe, they may also have used other routes too. A maritime route across the Mediterranean has been proposed, although evidence is scarce. A wealth of archaeological data now pinpoints the plains of Central Asia as a particularly important but relatively unknown region which requires further investigation.’

[…]

Read the full article at: heritagedaily.com

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Ancient

A giant pyramid was discovered in the Ural mountains

Ural tourists from the club of expeditions “Wild North” found a huge pyramid in the Subpolar Urals, which is several times larger than the Egyptian pyramid of Cheops. An unusual mountain was discovered when they were preparing for the helicopter casting of one of the groups and studied satellite images of the Polar Urals.

The height of the pyramid is almost 800 meters, the length of the faces is about a kilometer. In this case, the faces are located exactly on the cardinal points. The pyramid is located on the territory of the Peoples-Itinsky Ridge in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug – Ugra. – We were preparing a route and came across a pyramid. She stands on an arc from a meteorite impact crater. According to satellite data, the mountain with its forms exactly repeats the famous Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt.

Only its size is twice as large, ”says Evgeny Svitov, head of the Wild North Expedition Club. – The height of the pyramid is 774 meters, the length of each of its faces is almost a kilometer. The edges are located clearly on the cardinal points, as if on a level.

“These are God-forgotten places, the fishermen bypass them, they say there are not very many fish,” said Yevgeny Svitov from the Wild North expedition club. – It is amazing that the pyramid faces clearly on the cardinal points. The sacred shaman river flows there. According to Eugene Svitov, nature could not do this – to create such a clear relief with angles of 90 degrees. “My version: this is a construction of ancient civilizations,” the traveler believes. – Most likely, it consists of granite, quartzite, there is no vegetation there, it starts a little lower.

“People did not live there, these territories were used precisely as ritual places,” said Vladimir Anishchenko, a scientist and member of the Russian Geographical Society. Archaeologists note that the Ural ridge was sacred, people came to perform rituals there, it was a territory of the forces of nature.

The pyramid is located almost on the ridge, the territory is very peculiar, it has its own anomalies. We were there with expeditions. Unexplained anomalies are encountered there. For example, there is a platform at the confluence of rivers where there are no mosquitoes, although there should be clouds. 

You can get to the pyramid either by walking 400 kilometers along the ridge on foot, or by helicopter. The object has already attracted interest from the Russian Geographical Society. In the summer, an expedition will be sent to study the pyramid.

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Helicopter, tank, submarine: what is actually depicted on the walls of the temple in Abydos

The study of the temple complex in the ancient Egyptian city of Abydos began in the 19th century. There were a lot of hieroglyphs, they were on columns and on beams, guessed under a layer of dirt and soot. But then it was just hieroglyphs. The twentieth century had to come, so that scientists could see that the ancient Egyptians on the walls of the temple depicted a tank, a helicopter and a submarine.

The ancient Egyptian Abydos is located near Luxor – it has a long and extremely interesting history. The temple complex was built on the left bank of the Nile and is dedicated to Osiris, the god who taught mankind gardening and agriculture. Egyptian myths tell how the god Seth killed Osiris, his brother, and since then, he, depicted as a mummy, rules the underworld, the world of the dead. True, archaeologists are sure that the cult of Osiris came to a long-living city and, probably, one of the most populated by this time. It is also believed that before the appearance of the cult of Osiris, Abdos was the religious center of civilization.

Memorial Temple of Seti I in Abydos

Around the XIII century. BC, the construction of the temple complex dedicated to Osiris begins – it was the reign of Set I. It was a pharaoh, famous for many victories and conquests. It is not surprising that the temples of Abydos began to praise the pharaoh, commander, reformer, and warrior.

Mummy of Seti I

After the death of Seti I in 1279 BC power in the country passes to Ramses II. It was in many ways a unique ruler – he builds a lot, develops the country, fights. And he lived for more than 80 years, having ruled at least 60, which was a lot for those times. When it was built a lot, and it was during it that the temple complex of Abydos grew. Now there were palaces, temples of the necropolis.

Ramses II

The 19th century for the exploration of Egypt was incredibly fruitful. In Abydos in 1818 inscriptions were found that were extremely important for the country\’s chronology: the table of Abydos and the list of kings – these were relief columns of hieroglyphs with a list of the country\’s pharaohs who lived before Ramses II. On the walls of the temple were also found numerous \”technological\” drawings, but then they were simply fixed.

Abydos list and table of Abydos

And until the end of the twentieth century, these drawings did not interest anyone. Until 1997, when the photos of ufologist Ruth McKinley-Hover appeared on the Internet. She claimed that on a beam in the Osiris temple … images of a helicopter, a submarine and an airplane were found. She argued that this was undoubted evidence of paleocontact meetings of ancient Egyptian and alien civilization. And then again they remembered not only about this beam with its strange icons, but also about other \”technological\” drawings that were previously interpreted only as fantasies of artists.


The same symbols

Of course, the first reaction was to accuse the scientist of falsification. But numerous photos of the indicated place confirmed – yes, these hieroglyphs have probably existed since the time of Seti I or Ramses II and indeed represent a record, probably encrypted.

“Technological” drawings in the temples of Abydos

Explanations of the appearance of hieroglyphs of this form were varied. Official science immediately indicated that there is an imposition of hieroglyphs made earlier and later, for example, at the time of the Network first, and then, at the time of Ramses. Part of the plaster on which the reliefs are made, collapsed and in this way it turned out that we can see today.

Black marks are the icons that were supposedly stuffed into the relief during the time of Ramses II

Of course, such an explanation did not suit everyone. The times of Ancient Egypt, of course, are studied well, but far from as well as they should. And the basis for the study, in general, does not suit everyone – after all, the decoding of the hieroglyphs, the beginning of which was laid by Jean-Francois Champollion, is not satisfactory for all scientists. And if we recall that there were accusations that Champollion was knocking down texts that “did not fit” into his scheme, then it was completely doubtful. In addition, in other churches of the same Abydos there are many reliefs that confound scientists.

Necropolis of Abydos

In addition to the mysterious inscription, Abydos does not tire of discovering more and more mysteries. One of them is located in the same temple of Seti I. This is a certain room, which is now called “room K”. Access here is possible only from above, from the roof of the temple, through the hole. The “room” itself is two-story, has neither doors nor windows and, which is especially surprising for Egyptian architecture, is deprived of any images and inscriptions at all.

Location of Camera K

Osirion is also causing no less questions – a construction much more ancient, built of megaliths. It was built Abydos. And it itself, probably, was built long before the advent of ancient Egyptian civilization, and possibly refers to the culture on the remains of which Ancient Egypt flourished.

Near Osirion were discovered the remains of an extremely ancient city – it existed much earlier than the Egyptian pharaohs, and, especially, the cult of Osiris. And in it was everything that was needed for a real crowded center – buildings, tombs, workshops. Ancient utensils and tools were found.

Osirion

Be that as it may, the reliefs, inscriptions and temples found to date require a more thorough and, importantly, objective study. Perhaps the look of amateur historians will help scientists unravel ancient secrets. After all, Champollion was an amateur …

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Ancient Egyptian pyramids discovered in Alaska

Photo: Ken Hill / National Park Service

Archaeologists and climatologists who jointly explored a rocky tundra plateau in the west of the Brooks Range in Alaska, discovered hundreds of remains of houses and stone pyramids, which are about 11 thousand years old.

A study report appeared in Anchorage Daily News. Its author is Ned Rosell, a research fellow at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. A large-scale study began in 2011, when the National Park Service built a meteorological station on Howard Pass. Such facilities are designed to operate autonomously in remote places throughout Alaska. The station is powered by solar panels, and sends the received data via space satellites.

This information helped archaeologists to choose the most suitable time for the expedition and explore the vast space between the Colville and Noack rivers. They visited there and found out that even in the most extreme weather conditions in Alaska in ancient times there were large settlements.

At Howard Pass, hundreds of remnants of dwellings were discovered, including circular “foundations” on which igloo domed houses were installed, as well as pits for storing food, raw materials and waste from the production of stone tools. In addition, pyramidal piles of stones were found. These structures are far from being as monumental as the pyramids of Egypt, but they are approximately twice as old as the African ones. Scientists believe that the ancient pyramids in Alaska served as traps into which people drove caribou – reindeer.

“Locals took advantage of caribou, fish, berries, waterfowl and, probably, bison in the earliest period,” said archaeologist Jeff Rasich of the National Park Service. “Howard Pass is a tundra gate several kilometers wide through which herds of caribou still migrate seasonally from the Western Arctic.”

Despite the extremely difficult climatic conditions, this area, according to scientists, has always been rich in food. The natives called Howard Pass the word “Akutuq” (Akutuq). This was the name of their favorite treat, which they prepared from whipped animal fats, sugar and berries. The snow patterns drawn by the wind on Howard Pass reminded them of this delicacy.

As for the weather, the climatic anti-record was recorded in these places on February 21, 2013. On that day, the air temperature dropped to around minus 43 degrees Celsius, and the wind blew at a speed of about 87 km / h.

And this was not an isolated event. Conditions close to those described were recorded in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. In the wind, the temperature was even lower. Scientists believe that the Eskimos waited in their homes for severe frosts, and then went to the pass in search of icy carcasses that fell from the cold caribou.

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