🧐 Ancient Beat #89: Acoustic resonance, mass weapon production, and the shaman of Bad Dürrenberg
Hi folks! Welcome to issue #89 of Ancient Beat. Big news: Our little community of ancient-world enthusiasts crossed 3,000 people last week! Such an exciting milestone. 😀
Heads up, I’ll be off next week, so we’ll chat again in a couple of weeks.
Here’s the latest ancient news. 👇
🗞 Ancient News: Top 5
“Witchcraft” is the Result of Acoustic Resonance at the Devil’s Church — The Devil’s Church, or Pirunkirkko, is a 102-foot crevice cave in Koli National Park, Finland. Near the site are Devil’s Cave, Devil’s Mountain, and Devil’s Rock, and if you’re noticing a theme, it’s likely because the Koli mountain range was revered by pre-Christian people as a realm inhabited by spiritual entities. As for Devil’s Church itself, the site was said to be a meeting place of shamanic practitioners known as tietäjä, velho, or noita. There are even modern(ish) accounts of one such individual who gathered patients into the cave to find the cures and causes of their ailments. Well, according to a new study that used impulse response recording and spectrum analysis in the corridor-like cave, sound is naturally amplified and lengthened at right around 231 Hz, and the researchers believe this may have played a role in the ritualization of the site, as well as the power of the those rituals. According to the researchers, people were (and still are) engaging collaboratively with their physical surroundings and natural environment at the site.
Genetic Research into a 9,000-Year-Old Shaman Burial in Germany — You may have heard of the shaman of Bad Dürrenberg in Germany — I’ve touched on the topic a couple of times in issues #59 and #78. In short, The burials of a woman and an infant dating to between 7000 and 6800 BCE were found in Bad Dürrenberg nearly a century ago and the woman’s burial contained unusual artifacts (rock tools, red ochre, animal bones, animal teeth, boar’s tusks, turtle shells, etc.). The remains also showed bodily anomalies, like an abnormal blood vessel that would have allowed her to decrease blood flow to the brain with a certain head posture, possibly allowing her to access altered states of consciousness. The artifacts and anomalies led to the woman being classified by researchers as a shaman. Well, new genetic research has revealed that the infant, a boy, was not her son, but a fourth- or fifth-degree relation. They also found that she had relatively dark skin, blue eyes, and straight, dark hair.
Archaeologists Find Earliest Evidence of Mass Weapon Production in Southern Levant — Researchers analyzed 424 slingstones from the Early Chalcolithic period (5800-4500 BCE) that were found in Israel. They are all of the same size (52x321mm) with an aerodynamic form, and they are indicative of mass weapons production dating back 7,200 years. According to the researchers, “These stones are, in fact, the earliest evidence of warfare in the Southern Levant. The similarity of the slingstones points to large-scale industrial production. The effort put into the aerodynamic form and the smoothing of the stones’ surfaces indicate that they were intended to be exact and deadly weapons.” This would have been a communal endeavor, so it looks like a community was preparing for conflict.
Archaeologists Find Burial Bundles with Carved Masks — More than 70 intact burial bundles with carved masks were found at the Wari site of Pachacámac in Peru. The bundles date to the second half of the Middle Horizon (800-1100 CE) and were deposited at the foot of the Painted Temple. Some had “false head” masks of carved wood and ceramics; such masks were a common burial practice of the Wari culture. Also discovered were wooden staffs depicting Wari elite wearing Tiwanaku-style headgear. These were found in a votive deposit covered in a layer of oyster shell fragments.
Carved Trees and Burial Sites: Wiradjuri Elders Share the Hidden Stories of Marara and Dhabuganha — A Wiradjuri-led study in New South Wales, Australia looked at carved trees and associated burials of the Wiradjuri people. Marara are trees with elaborate muyalaang (tree carvings) that mark dhabuganha (burials) of Wiradjuri men of high standing. Very few marara remain, and most dhabuganha are no longer visible. The team non-invasively looked at a one such dhabuganha which was located thanks to intact marara, and they were able to create a 3D model of it. Across a creek is a fallen tree that marked thie deceased’s wife/partner’s burial. According to Wiradjuri Elders, the marks made on marara are not just art, they convey meaning and are connected to the totems of the area. Wiradjuri Knowledge Holder, James Williams, says they show “path from here—this life—to the next life.” Further, the marara and dhabuganha across the landscape should not be considered isolated sites. They are part of a bigger picture. According to Caroline Spry, “Our research reveals a hidden history of Australia and encourages people to reconsider their own views of these trees in relation to Wiradjuri perspectives. For Wiradjuri people, they are sacred locations that tell a story about Wiradjuri Lore, beliefs, traditional cultural practices and Country, and pathways between the earth and sky world.”
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