🧐 ROTA #4 — Çatalhöyük, human brain evolution, and shamanic representations in stone
Hey folks, this is Issue #4 of Rhythm of the Ancients! I’m still trying to figure out exactly what ROTA will become. For now, I’ve decided to make it a true newsletter — that is, I’m going to focus on news and fresh content in the world of archaeology and ancient history. So let’s get right into what came to light this week.
🗞 Ancient Beat
Archaeologists Discover Five Tombs in Egypt's Saqqara Necropolis — This has been all over the news for the past week. Five very well-preserved tombs were found at a cemetery in Saqqara. Egyptologist believe the tombs belonged to senior officials in the Old Kingdom (~4,000 B.P.).
Researchers Investigate the Use of Color at Çatalhöyük — Çatalhöyük is a truly remarkable settlement that existed from roughly 7500 BCE to 6400 BCE. A team of researchers recently announced that the layers of paint within the homes may correspond with the number of bodies interred within, indicating that this culture may have repainted their walls whenever a loved on died. This provides a new lens into this ancient culture’s burial practices and spiritual beliefs.
Analysis Links the Origins of the Maya and Corn Cultivation — Chemical analysis of remains found in a rock shelter in Belize showed that the amount of maize in the diet jumped from 10% to 50% between 5600 and 4000 years ago. The researchers suggest that domesticated maize and farming technology were brought from South America, essentially making the many accomplishments of the Maya possible.
Archaeologists Uncover Strange Jaguar Surrounded By Starfish at Aztec Site — This discovery is about a year old, but it made the news recently. Archaeologists found the remains of 160 starfish covering a jaguar skeleton. While that might sound random, the mottled skin of this particular type of starfish actually looks like that of jaguar. It is believed these were offerings to their god of water, fire, agriculture, and war.
Thousands of ancient artifacts seized, 52 people arrested in int'l operation — INTERPOL seized 9,408 cultural artifacts including archaeological antiquities, coins (worth $548,772), statuettes, paintings, and more.
Name of Peru’s Machu Picchu under review — Names are important. And apparently we got it wrong with Machu Picchu, which is actually the name of the tallest nearby mountain. Many will be familiar with the name Huayna Picchu, which is the name of the summit near the site. It turns out that this is the name that the indigenous people of the region once used for the Machu Picchu. Whether they’ll officially change it back is yet to be seen.
❤️ Recommended Content
This study discuss why, after quadrupling in size over the course of six million years, human brain volume has decreased over the last 3,000 years. The researchers suggest that it has something to do with the “externalization of knowledge and advantages of group-level decision-making.”
This video details the ancient city of Caral in Peru — a city of pyramids that dates back to the time of the Giza pyramids. It is one of the oldest urban cities in the Americas, and may have served as a template. Interestingly, researchers think this was a peaceful community, with no evidence of warfare. They did take drugs, probably in a spiritual or religious context.
This video discusses China’s Guyaju Caves. They consist of of 117 caves, 350 chamber, and covers 27.4 acres — all carved out of solid granite, which is a hard stone. There is no conclusive evidence of when this structure was created or why. Interestingly, as with many important sites around the world, it is located near a natural spring — useful for obvious reasons, as well as less obvious ones, like communicating with the gods. While the video doesn’t mention this, in many cultures, springs were places where people could more easily contact the Otherworld.
This video is a walkthrough of the Karahan Tepe exhibit in Turkey’s Sanliurfa Museum. The fascinating thing to me is the commonly used motif of animals on the backs of humans. To me this is a clear indication of this culture’s shamanic beliefs – such merging is common in shamanic journeying, across cultures.
This video discusses the enigmatic Saihuite Stone of Peru. According to an engineer (I believe his name is Dr. Harland Andrews) that Brien Foerster is interviewing, this stone was a place where ancient people studied the flow of water using mercury, in order to create advanced water systems.
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