Beneath the Temple of Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan, Mexico, and in the Chinese First Emperor’s tomb, archaeologists discovered enormous amount of mercury. It is suggested that ancient people thought that mercury could bestow immortality, but is there some other meaning for the use of mercury in ancient times?
The Tomb of the First Emperor
Centuries and centuries ago, there was a Chinese courtier named Sima Qian, who was sentenced to castration because he had spoken up in favor of a defeated general. In those times, that was a death sentence because men of his class were expected to commit suicide rather than let that happen. However, Sima Qian accepted his castration so that he could complete the histories that had been started by his father, which he wound end passing on to his daughter and then his grandson until the time came when it could be published.
A burial site of the Tomb of the First Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di, Xi’an, China. Photo © Aaron Zhu
As a result, we have what are now called The Records of the Grand Historian, which offers incredible insight into ancient Chinese history with remarkable accuracy. One example is Sima Qian’s statement that the tomb of the First Emperor of China had included flowing mercury for the purpose of simulating the rivers as well as the sea, which is supported by the fact that the local soil contains levels of mercury that are much higher than normal. Likewise, one of Sima Qian’s other statements has been interpreted to mean that the construction of the tomb broke groundwater, which is supported by the existence of a dam as well as a drainage system that has saved it from being flooded by said phenomenon. So far, archaeologists have not excavated the tomb of the First Emperor because they don’t have the capability to perfectly preserve its contents, meaning that no more than cursory studies are possible for the time being. Simply put, no one wants a repeat of the situation with the famous Terracotta Warriors, which had coats of paint that started flaking off as soon as they were exposed to the elements.
The Ruins of Teotihuacan
With that said, the tomb of the First Emperor of China wasn’t the only place built by ancient peoples belonging to ancient civilizations to have significant amounts of mercury. For example, archaeologists discovered huge pools of mercury beneath one of the pyramids in the ruined city of Teotihuacan called the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in 2015, which are something that has been found at other sites situated throughout Central America by other researchers. For the time being, the purpose of these mercury pools remain a mystery, but there has been speculation about them serving as representations of underworld rivers, which would have been an impression enhanced by the material’s strong association with the supernatural. Considering the expense of constructing entire pools of mercury as well as the other precious items found nearby, it is no wonder that one of the researchers involved in the effort speculated about them being a sign that a royal burial was near.
Teotihuacan – Temple of the Feathered Serpent – view from the top of the Adosada platform (Image Source)
What Made Mercury So Special to Our Predecessors?
Based on these two examples, it should be clear that a lot of ancient people from early civilizations ascribed considerable value to the element of mercury. In part, this would have been because mercury was a rare substance that had to be extracted via hazardous processes from cinnabar and other ores. However, it should also be noted that the curious nature of mercury created various beliefs about its magical potential, with examples ranging from the ancient Chinese belief that mercury could be used to promote health to the medieval European belief that mercury could be used to turn baser metals into gold. As a result, mercury often took on spiritual significance, which in turn, made them that much more suitable for use in ancient tombs.
featured image: Reconstruction of the facade of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Teotihuacán)
Now located in the National Museum of Anthropology (Source)
Ancient Roman Cemetery is Full of Mysterious Headless Skeletons
In England, excavations for developments of the housing kind often lead to developments of the archeological kind. While digging holes for foundations in the tiny old town of Great Whelnetham, Suffolk, in eastern England, construction workers found a Roman-era cemetery with a macabre mystery … many of the skeletons were headless, with the skull placed either between the knees, between the feet or even under a knee. Criminals? Vampires? Anti-development zombies? Something worse?
“The incisions through the neck were post-mortem and were neatly placed just behind the jaw. An execution would cut lower through the neck and with violent force, and this is not present anywhere.”
Archeologist Andrew Peachey of Archaeological Solutions, an independent archaeological contractor providing archaeological monitoring and research for urban excavations, was called in by developer Havebury Housing Partnership to investigate the cemetery, which contained 52 skeletons of which 17 had their heads removed and placed elsewhere. Seventeen more were “deviant” burials where the skeleton was face down or in a fetal position. There were also 4 skulls with no bodies. (Photos of the remains can be seen here.) The rest of the bodies were placed with heads intact in the usual face-up burial position. Peachey’s initial analysis determined that the cemetery was from the 4th century CE and that the headless bodies were not the result of executions.
“This appears to be a careful funeral rite that may be associated with a particular group within the local population, possibly associated with a belief system (cult) or a practice that came with a group moved into the area.”
But what kind of cult? Peachey tells the East Anglian Daily Times that headless burials such as these are extremely rare in Britain. He also pointed out a second mystery – the deceased appeared to be healthy when they died. Most were middle-aged or older (with a few children under 10) and in good shape.
“They were well nourished, and several had very robust upper arms/bodies consistent with a working agricultural population.”
Peachey proposes that they could have been slaves or a labor force brought in to work the fields, but the care used in the removal of the heads and their placement suggests these were members of the community and buried with respect. He has no explanation for why they died so healthy – although many had dental problems, most had healed, and evidence of tuberculosis was common in 4th century agrarian communities, so they weren’t killed by the disease nor beheaded postmortem to prevent them from rising and spreading the disease again.
The people of the Pacific island of Kiribati exhume their dead and remove their skulls to be displayed as sign of reverence in hopes the spirit will protect them. Could a similar culture or cult in 4th century England had a similar practice?
Not surprisingly, the remains have been removed to a local museum and the development is expected to be completed in July. While the skeletons and detached skulls are being analyzed for more information on the who’s and why’s of the strange burial practice, people will soon be living where they laid undisturbed for centuries. Would you want to move right in or wait for the explanation?
Mexico Unearths Ancient Flayed God Temple Where Priests Wore Skins Of Dead
Mexican experts have found the first temple of the Flayed god, a pre-Hispanic fertility deity depicted as a skinned human corpse.
What is Flayed god?
The great god Xipe Totec, otherwise known as Our Lord the Flayed One/ Flayed God, was one of the oldest Aztec deities. Also known as Red Tezcatlipoca, guardian of the east, Xipe Totec was often depicted as a man wearing the flayed skin of another.
Xipe Totec’s name was derived from the myth by which the god flayed—peeled and cut off—his own skin to feed humans. For the Aztecs, Xipe Totec’s removing his layer of skin symbolized the events that must happen to produce renewed growth that covers the earth each spring. More specifically, flaying is associated with the cycle of American corn (maize) as it sheds its external seed covering when it is ready to germinate.
Discovery of the temple
Mexico‘s National Institute of Anthropology and History said the find was made during recent excavations of Popoloca Indian ruins in the central state of Puebla.
The institute said experts found two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk depicting the god, Xipe Totec. It had an extra hand dangling off one arm, suggesting the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim. The Popolocas built the temple at a complex known as Ndachjian-Tehuacan between A.D. 1000 and 1260 and were later conquered by the Aztecs.
Sacrifice and the Flaying of Skin
Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning human victims and then donning their skins. The ritual was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration. The victims of this sacrifice would be killed and then flayed—their skins removed in large pieces. Those skins were painted and then worn by others during a ceremony and in this manner, they would be transformed into the living image (“teotl ixiptla”) of Xipe Totec.
Rituals performed during the early spring month of Tlacaxipeualiztli included the “Feast of the Flaying of Men,” for which the month was named. The entire city and rulers or nobles of enemy tribes would witness this ceremony. In this ritual, slaves or captive warriors from surrounding tribes were dressed in as the “living image” of Xipe Totec. Transformed into the god, the victims were led through a series of rituals performing as Xipe Totec, then they were sacrificed and their body parts distributed among the community.
Ancient accounts of the rituals suggested victims were killed in gladiator-style combat or by arrows on one platform, then skinned on another platform. The layout of the temple at Tehuacan seems to match that description.
Other depictions of the Flayed god
Depictions of the god had been found before in other cultures, including the Aztecs, but not a whole temple.
University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the project, wrote that “finding the torso fragment of a human wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim in situ is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the association of this practice and related deity to a particular temple, more so to me than the two sculpted skeletal crania.”
“If the Aztec sources could be relied upon, a singular temple to this deity (whatever his name in Popoloca) does not necessarily indicate that this was the place of sacrifice,” Gillespie wrote. “The Aztec practice was to perform the sacrificial death in one or more places, but to ritually store the skins in another, after they had been worn by living humans for some days. So it could be that this is the temple where they were kept, making it all the more sacred.”
Featured image: Omar Eduardo
Nebra Sky Disk Theories
Although there has been concern raised that the Sky Disc is a fake, multiple tests have revealed that it is authentic – an opinion held by the majority of researchers and archaeologists. Analysis of the bronze indicates that it was made in the region although the gold and tin were probably acquired from Cornwall in Britain. This has raised another problem. The precision tooling and advanced understanding of the stars does seem very advanced for this time period.
However, the early people from this area did have a fascination with the stars and celestial objects. Around 25 kilometres southwest from where the Nebra Sky Disk was found is one of the finest solar Neolithic sites in Germany. This series of ancient earthworks has been compared to Stonehenge, in Britain, with regard to its importance. Studies of the ‘Gosek Complex’ have revealed that it was almost certainly used as a celestial observatory. However, it’s worth noting that while 25km is considered close today, it would have represented a journey of probably two days to the people of the time.
Historians are facing a difficult question. Why did some select groups of Neolithic people seem to have awareness far in excess of the ordinary people of the time? This pattern is not unique and has been observed all across Europe.
A wide range of theories have been put forward about the origin and purpose of the Nebra Sky Disk. These are just some of them …
Celestial Calendar Theory
The most common of the Nebra Sky Disk theories is that the disk represents the constellations of the night sky around 1,400 to 1,600 BC. According to Harald Meller, a German academic and archaeologist, the disk was actually a complex astronomical clock that was used by the ancients to harmonise the solar and lunar calendars of the time.
It is commonly accepted, although far from proven, that the Neolithic people of Europe used solar alignments to predict the changing seasons and use this information to provide advice with regard to the planting and harvesting of crops. This would mean that the Nebra Sky Disk was actually a form of portable stone circle. If this is all true then the Sky Disk also represents the first record of a multi-calendar synchronisation system.
It is worth pointing out that not all researchers agree with this assessment as it applies to the Nebra Sky Disk or, for that matter, stone circles in general. As they point out. A well-positioned pole in the ground, a length of string and a few wooden stakes can achieve the same effect. They ask, ‘Why were these Neolithic people committing so much ‘expensive’ energy to create complex solutions when simpler ones very easily available?’
Schlosser of the Rurh University at Bochum stated that he believes that these Bronze Age savants already had levels of astronomy knowledge that the Babylonians would only discover a thousand years later. He went on to suggest that questions need to be asked whether this knowledge was acquired locally or originated from afar. Although, he himself makes no connection between the disk and extra-terrestrial events.
This demonstration of advanced Neolithic knowledge has led to speculation that the Nebra Sky Disc represents evidence that early human civilizations were contacted by beings not of this planet. Ancient alien researchers point out that all across the world, from the rock paintings of Tassili to the Nazca lines of Peru, there are ancient depictions of beings that bear a remarkable resemblance to ‘spacemen’ and their technology. While nobody claims that the disk itself is of alien origin, the researchers believe it is a depiction of something that people of the region may have seen and copied – possibly to use as a talisman. In particular they point to the ‘Sun Ship’ at the base of the disk as a representation of a craft capable of travelling through the ‘heavens’.
Pole Shift Theory
According to other researchers, the extreme lower section of the Sky Disc depicts the constellation of Orion. This is a major issue for traditional archaeology as Orion should not have been observable from that position in Germany at that time. In fact, the nearest possible geographic location from which it would have been visible is Luxor in ancient Egypt. The conclusion that was drawn is that the 26- to 30-degree variance can only be accounted for by a simultaneous pole shift. As Nebra Sky Disk theories go – this one is more abot proving pole shift rather than the origin of the Sky Disk. As an origin theory it is really suggesting that the design of the disk came from Ancient Egypt.
There have been theories put forward that the Sky Disc represents the wandering and mythical planet Niburu and not the moon at all. This has been prompted ancient astronaut supporters who propose that the disc was a stellar map design was left behind by Pleiadian explorers that visited Europe about 4000 years ago.
Certainly historical texts are full of stories of beings that came from the heavens and told the early agrarian cultures how they should lead their lives. From the Anunnaki of Mesopotamia to celestial gods of early Greek and Scandinavian cultures, the essential story is the same. The people of Earth were in trouble shortly after a period of rapid climate change approximately 7,000 years ago. Beings from the heavens came down and shared their wisdom and the people of earth suddenly experienced a massive jump forward in terms of understanding and technology. These beings eventually left but were then worshipped as gods by the humans they left behind.
Atlantis and Atlanteans Culture
It has been proposed that there is a link between the Sky Disk and the legendary people of Atlantis. The theory suggests that the Atlanteans (Minoans) were a very advanced civilization that helped spread awareness and knowledge to the ancient people of the greater Mediterranean Triangle that stretches from the Black Sea in the East to Egypt in the South and Gibraltar in the West. These people were based on the Island of Thera and were destroyed when the island experienced a massive volcanic eruption between 1642–1540 BCE – around the same time that the Nebra Sky Disk was buried.
The respected German media channel – Die Welt – is said to have speculated that the Nebra Sky Disk could support the audacious hypothesis of the Atlantis explorer Spanuth, which locates the Atlanteans at Heligoland. He claims that the large water circle “sin-wur” is more like the Black Sea than the North Sea. He asks:
“Where did the creator of the Nebra Sky Disk gain his astronomical knowledge, which can only be worked out over generations to achieve this complexity?”
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung rightly states. Even the archaeologist Meller concedes: “It is clear that we always underestimate prehistoric people”. This statement may also be characterized by recent research reports from Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. Findings by Dr. Klaus Schmidt, Chief Excavator of the German Archaeological Institute, has already identified an early form of a writing in Eastern Anatolia dating back to around 7500 BC!
According to the mythology of the ancients, Atlas was the bearer of the sky, the father of the Pleiades constellation (seven sisters) which is a key feature of the Sky Disk. Atlas was also the great king of Atlantis.
People Just Don’t Know
According to some, the Nebra Sky Disc would be used to see the sunset during the winter solstice and would predict the changing seasons. However, not all historians agree with this explanation.
As it was found along with swords, it has been suggested that it could be part of a shield with a picture of the sky as magical protection.
As always, interpretation of objects from the distant past is complex.
The truth is that although there are numerous theories, modern science simply doesn’t know what the Nebra Sky Disc was used for.
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