🧐 Ancient Beat #78: Cave art, magic, and big LiDAR discoveries
Hi folks! This is issue #78 of Ancient Beat and I’m gonna dive right in. Here’s the latest ancient news. 👇
🗞 Ancient News: Top 5
Archaeologists Reveal Largest Paleolithic Cave Art Site in Eastern Iberia — A major Paleolithic cave art site, which might be the most important such site ever found on the Eastern Iberian Coast, was discovered near Valencia, Spain. Locals knew about Cueva Dones, but as far as we know, the art wasn’t found until 2021. The study of the art has just been published. The 500-meter-long cave has over 100 paintings and engravings dating to at least 24,000 years ago. There are at least 19 animal representations (hinds, horses, aurochs, deer) and most of the art was made by dragging clay-covered palms and/or fingers on the wall — a known technique that is rarely this well-preserved. Many walls remain unsurveyed, so there’s likely more to come.
Tomb Found on Great Pyramid at Huaca Pucllana — A mummified individual and offerings have been discovered at Huaca Pucllana, an adobe and clay pyramid complex in Peru. It seems that the individual was laid to rest on the top tier of the pyramid, which is interesting. The artifacts found with the remains include textiles and ceramic vessels, one of which was a pot with abstract and geometric zoomorphic motifs. The burial is up to 1,000 years old and appears to be from the Ychsma Culture.
Artifacts Used for Ancient Magic Rituals Discovered on Road from Egypt to Mecca — Artifacts that were discovered in the 90s have now been identified as having been used for magical purposes 400 years ago. They were found in a campsite along the Darb al-Hajj Road from Cairo to Mecca, which was in use from the 7th century all the way to the 19th century. The artifacts include fragments of clay rattles filled with small stones, miniature incense altars, a small figurine of a naked woman or goddess with a hand raised, an animal figurine, and colored quartz pebbles. The clay used in the ceramics originated in Egypt, and the researchers believe they were used by pilgrims to ward off the evil eye and heal diseases on their journey. The artifacts were broken, possibly intentionally, as was sometimes done in rituals. According to the researchers, “This discovery reveals that people in the Early Ottoman Period—just as today—consulted popular sorcerers, alongside the formal belief in the official religion.”
1,500-Year-Old Palace-Like Home was Hidden by Jungle Foliage Until Now — Stone homes dating to between 250 and 500 CE were discovered in Yucatán, Mexico. But these were no ordinary homes; they’re being described as “palace-like”. For example, one of the homes has an 85-foot portico with nine openings and eight pilasters (shallow columns against a wall). The homes are decorated with carvings of feathers, birds, and beads. Polychrome bowls and utilitarian vessels were also found.
New Research Shows Extensive Networks of Terraces, Drainage Ditches, and Ceremonial Mounds by Ancient Sāmoans — LiDAR has done it again. A huge number of archaeological features have been discovered in Sāmoa. According to Gregory Jackmond, “Almost every place you look is just littered with archaeological features. We’re finding things that, not that long ago, nobody really thought possible.” The most exciting discovery so far has been a large number of star mounds, which apparently may have been used for pigeon-catching contests. Terraces and drainage ditches were also identified.
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