🧐 Ancient Beat #81: 10,000 hidden structures, new statues at Göbekli Tepe, and the (contested) peopling of the Americas
Hello and welcome to issue #81 of Ancient Beat. Lots of big news this week so let’s dig right in!
Here’s the latest ancient news. 👇
🗞 Ancient News: Top 5
New Monumental Statues Discovered at Göbekli Tepe and Karahan Tepe — Several monumental statues and architectural elements have been discovered at two sites that we all know and love: Göbekli Tepe and Karahan Tepe in Turkey. Perhaps the most notable of these new discoveries is the life-sized statue of a boar painted red, white, and black. It is one of the oldest known painted statues from the Mesolithic. The boar was located at Göbekli Tepe on a bench with an “H” symbol, as well as depictions of a crescent, two snakes, and human heads. Another notable discovery — this one at Karahan Tepe — was a 2.3-meter statue of a human sitting on a bench holding his phallus in both hands. There was also a bird statue found at Karahan Tepe, possibly a vulture as these birds held special significance in the region.
Further Evidence Points to Footprints in New Mexico Being the Oldest Sign of Humans in Americas — If you’ve been following the debate about the human footprints found at White Sands National Park in New Mexico, US… or if you’ve been a subscriber for a while (see issue #22)… you’ll know that folks have been going back and forth on just how old these footprints are — and therefore how long ago humans came to the Americas. Well, in opposition to a study that I mentioned in issue #38, which found that the aquatic seeds used to date the footprints were unreliable, a new study used entirely different materials (conifer pollen and quartz grains) and got the same dates: between 21,000 and 23,000 years ago. According to Thomas Stafford, “If three totally different methods converge around a single age range, that’s really significant.” If this study is accepted, that will make these footprints the oldest confirmed evidence of the peopling of the Americas, pushing back the accepted date by as much as 10,000 years. “Confirmed” is the operative term there — you might remember that I also covered giant sloth pendants in Brazil that dated to 25,000-27,000 years ago in issue #69.
10,000 Pre-Columbian Structures Could Be Hidden Beneath Amazon Rain Forest — A new study that identified two dozen circular and rectangular geoglyphs in the Amazon has determined that there may be 10,000-20,000 unknown structures beneath the dense vegetation of the Amazon. The researchers’ model supports theories that the Amazon was densely populated prior to colonization. Only about 1,000 have been found to date. The 24 structures found in this particular study include geoglyphs and a fortified village with a central plaza. They date to between 500 and 1,500 years ago. According to Takeshi Inomata, “There’s a still-common popular perception that the Amazon is a vast, wild expanse, but that’s not really true. This study really shows well that there was a lot of involvement of humans in this environment.” This statement is backed up by other studies that have found that much of the Amazon was cultivated, with a preference for specific life-sustaining plants.
A Prehistoric Cosmic Airburst Preceded the Advent of Agriculture in the Levant — According to a new study, agriculture in Syria began when a fragmented comet hit Earth’s atmosphere 12,800 years ago, causing an explosion and environmental changes. These changes apparently convinced people at the site of Abu Hureyra to adopt agricultural practices for survival. FYI Abu Hureyra is known for its early evidence of a transition to farming. This paper was the result of ongoing investigations into the now-famous Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. In addition to a shift in what was being eaten, there is evidence at the site of massive burning, nanodiamonds, etc. — all the signs of a cosmic impact (or airburst). The researchers also compared shocked quartz at the site to those created by atomic detonations and found them to be similar. The study, “implies a novel causative link among extraterrestrial impacts, hemispheric environmental and climatic change, and transformative shifts in human societies and culture, including agricultural development.”
New Study Shows Signs of Early Creation of Modern Human Identities — According to a new study, unperforated and naturally perforated shells found at Blombos Cave in South Africa were intentionally brought to the site and probably worn as personal ornaments as they show signs of wear. They know that the shellfish were not eaten, as the shells have signs of the creatures being dead before the shells were collected. The shells are 73,000-100,000 years old, so this would mean that people were wearing ornaments before the development of the advanced techniques needed to modify shells for use in beadworks, which came around 70,000 years ago. According to Karen Loise van Niekerk, “With this study, we specifically show that humans gradually complexified practices of modifying their appearance and transformed themselves into tools for communication and storage of information. We also think we can possibly see a creation of identity that gradually but radically changed the way we look at ourselves and others, and the nature of our societies.”
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