🧐 Ancient Beat #85: Shark-tooth knives, the formation of the Sphinx, and pushing back the start of large-scale warfare
Hello, folks! Welcome to issue #85 of Ancient Beat.
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And here’s the latest ancient news. 👇
🗞 Ancient News: Top 5
Large–Scale Warfare Occurred in Europe 1,000 Years Earlier Than Previously Thought — Scientists reanalyzed the skeletal remains of over 300 individuals from a mass grave in Spain dating to somewhere between 5,400 and 5,000 years ago. They found a disproportionate percentage of damaged bones during what appears to be a period of conflict lasting months (at least). Of the buried individuals, 23% had skeletal injuries and 10% had unhealed injuries. And 70+% of these injuries were in adolescent and adult males. Researchers also found over 50 flint arrowheads, many with damage associated with hitting a target. It was previously believed that the people of this time lacked the logistical capabilities to support longer/larger conflicts, and that conflicts were therefore limited to a few days and 20-30 people. But this discovery suggests that large-scale warfare was already taking place 1,000 years earlier than we thought — and before powerful states formed in the region.
7,000-Year-Old Shark-Tooth Knives Discovered in Indonesia — Two 7,000-year-old blades made of tiger shark teeth have been unearthed on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. These are the oldest uses of shark teeth in composite weapons ever found, by about 2,000 years. The teeth are perforated and have microscopic evidence of being fixed to a handle using plant-based threads and an adhesive. The teeth would have dulled too quickly to be useful in day-to-day life, so these were likely used as weapons and/or for ritual activities.
Archaeologists Uncover Structured Link to the Cult of Kukulcan — A circular structure dating to between 1000 and 1200 CE has been discovered at the site of El Tigre in Mexico. Researchers believe it is linked to the cult of Kukulcan, the Mayan serpent deity (closely related to the Aztec Quetzalcoatl). The presence of the building supports the idea that the site may be Itzamkanac, which was described in the Paxbolón Maldonado papers of the late 16th century as having temples dedicated to the four main Postclassic Maya deities.
3,400-Year-Old Pyramid Found in Kazakhstan — A step pyramid has been unearthed after four seasons of excavations in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan. It is a mausoleum complex for a ruler of the Begazı-Dandibay culture that flourished in the region between the 13th and 10th centuries BCE. It was also likely used for ceremonies. According to Aibar Kassenali, “Looking at the cut stones found in the pyramid, the size of the mausoleum, and the fact that such a huge structure was built in the Bronze Age in a very arid region such as the steppe is an indication of the high understanding of art and rich spiritual beliefs that the Begazi Dandibay communities have reached.”
A New Study Reveals the Astonishing Way the Great Sphinx in Egypt Actually Formed — A new study used fluid dynamics to experiment with the creation of the Sphinx of Giza. The findings support the theory that the monument was originally shaped into a lion(ish) shape by nature, before ancient Egyptians got to work on it. According to Leif Ristroph, “We were struck by the resemblance to a seated lion or a lion in repose. The fluid is eating away the solid, but the solid then forces the flow to conform to its shape. It feeds back on the flow and changes erosion rates and how it is distributed over the surface.”
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