archaeology

King David’s city discovered? Ancient site linked to biblical kingdom, archaeologists say

Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered an ancient site that may offer fresh insight into the ancient biblical kingdom of David and Solomon. Researchers from Bar-Ilan University have been excavating the remains of a large house dubbed the “Governor’s Residence” that was destroyed by a fire in an 8th century B.C. Assyrian military campaign. The impressive four-room home, located at Tel ‘Eton in the Judean foothills, had at least two stories and its ground floor extended over 2,420 square feet. Occupying high ground at the top of a mound, the house was carefully built with deep foundations. Large masonry stones were placed in the corners and entrances of the building and high-quality building materials were used, according to experts. The discovery could shed new light on the joint kingdom ruled by David and his son Solomon, which is described in the Hebrew Bible, but has long divided historians. Also known as the united monarchy, the territory is said to have included the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. While some experts believe that the kingdom existed in the 10th-century B.C., others have questioned its existence, citing a lack of evidence of royal construction at the center of the region where the kingdom is said to have existed. However, part of the building at Tel ‘Eton has been dated to a period in history that coincided with the supposed joint kingdom, according to Prof. Avraham Faust and Dr. Yair Sapir. The archaeologists recently published their findings in the journal Radiocarbon. “Surprisingly, radiocarbon dates from within the floor make-up and from within a foundation deposit that was placed below the floor indicate that the building had already been erected in the 10th century BCE, between the late 11th century and the third quarter of the 10th century BCE. This date is in line with other finds related to the construction, like the foundation deposit itself,” said Prof. Faust, in a statement. The construction of such a major residence at the top of a mound, with commanding views over the local area, marks an important event in the site’s history, according to Faust and Sapir, particularly when viewed in the context of the ancient city’s growth. However, the archaeologists note that “the association with David is not based on direct archaeological evidence, but solely on circumstantial grounds.” Nonetheless, the erection of the residence and the growing size of Tel ‘Eton could make a link to the David plausible, the researchers say, noting that the King is said to have existed in the nearby Judean highlands. Another site at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Judean highlands, about 12.5 miles north of Tel ‘Eton, has also been linked to David, Haaretz reports. Jerusalem and other biblical cities such as Hebron, are also located in the Judean hills. There have been a number of fascinating finds in the region in recent years. A trove of bronze coins, the last remnants of an ancient Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, were recently discovered near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In February, archaeologists announced the discovery of a clay seal mark that may bear the signature of the biblical Prophet Isaiah. Last November, new evidence dated Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Roman era, matching historical records. Other finds include the skeleton of a pregnant woman, dating back 3,200 years, in Israel’s Timna Valley, at a place once called King Solomon’s Mines. At the site of an ancient city on the West Bank, archaeologists are also hunting for evidence of the tabernacle that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. Some experts also believe they have found the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.

Fascinating!!  To see some photos, click on the text above.    🙂

NASA to investigate 10,000-year-old mystery rock that ‘shows paintings of UFOs and aliens’

A NUMBER of prehistoric drawings have sparked a local government to seek the help of NASA after the images appeared to depict extraterrestrial life. Discovered in Charama, India, the images appear to show aliens and UFOs, similar to scenes of a sci-fi movie. According to local archaeologist JR Bhagat it is unclear as to what the images reveal. He said: “The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still create curiosity among people and researchers. He said: “The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still create curiosity among people and researchers. “Extensive research is needed for further findings. “Charama presently doesn’t have any such expert who could give clarity on the subject.“ He also revealed that some of the features of the paintings were unclear and the characters appeared to be wielding weapons. He added: “The paintings are done in natural colours that have hardly faded despite the years. “The strangely carved figures are seen holding weapon-like objects and do not have clear features. “Specially, the nose and mouth are missing. “In few pictures, they are even shown wearing space suits. We can’t refute possibility of imagination by prehistoric men but humans usually fancy such things.” The video was uploaded to YouTube channel The Lost History Channel on Sunday and has already received more than 7,000 views. One comment read: “Evidence is everywhere, we need opened eyes, that’s all.” And another claimed: “We dont need to find aliens, they are already here all around us.” The archaeologists have contacted NASA and ISRO to help solve the mystery.

Things that make ya go, “hmmm..”   To see the video in question, and see photos, click on the text above…and you be the judge.      🙂

Dead Sea Scrolls discovery: Obscure fragments deciphered

One of the last two parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls has finally been translated, thanks to researchers at the University of Haifa. Dr. Eshbal Ratson and Prof. Jonathan Ben-Dov of the Department of Bible Studies managed to put together 60 tiny fragments over more than a year, obtaining fresh insight into a festival that marked the changing of the seasons. First discovered in a cave in Qumran in 1947, there are 900 scrolls which make up the Dead Sea Scrolls; together, the collection is considered to be the oldest copy of the Bible in known existence, thought to have been created around the 4th century B.C. The majority of the scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956, and have since been restored and published. Also included in the newly discovered fragment is a part that deals with the 364-day calendar, celebrated by the ancient Judean Desert sect. It’s unclear who created the Dead Sea Scrolls, but some researchers have suggested a group known as the Essenes are responsible. The Essenes existed from the 2nd century B.C. to the 1st century A.D. The festivals that were used to celebrate the changing of seasons include the festival of New Wheat, New Wine and New Oil, related to the Jewish festival of Shavuot. According to the calendar, the wheat festival took place 50 days after the Shabbat that followed Passover. Fifty days later, the wine harvest festival came and 50 days after that was the oil harvest festival. The scroll also said there was a special day for the changing of the seasons, known as Tekufah, which in Hebrew translates to “period.” “This term is familiar from the later Rabbinical literature and from mosaics dating to the Talmudic period, and we could have assumed that it would also be used with this meaning in the scrolls, but this is the first time it has been revealed,” Dr. Ratson and Prof. Ben-Dov explained in a press release. “The lunar calendar, which Judaism follows to this day, requires a large number of human decisions,” the researchers added. “People must look at the stars and moon and report on their observations, and someone must be empowered to decide on the new month and the application of leap years. By contrast, the 364-day calendar was perfect. Because this number can be divided into four and seven, special occasions always fall on the same day,” they wrote. Interestingly enough, Dr. Ratson and Prof. Ben-Dov were able to decipher the code from annotations made in the margins, by correcting omissions from the original author. “What’s nice is that these comments were hints that helped me figure out the puzzle — they showed me how to assemble the scroll,” Dr. Ratzon said in an interview with Haaretz.

Fascinating!!   🙂

Largest known underwater cave on Earth discovered in Mexico; holds clues to Mayan civilization

A team of experts in Mexico has discovered two linked underwater caverns that are more than 4,000 years old and form the largest known such cave on earth. The discovery of the cave system, which stretches 215 miles, could hold valuable information about the ancient Mayan population, which inhabited parts of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Guatemala, among other areas in the region. The cave holds hundreds of Mayan relics, according to Guillermo de Anda, the director of the Gran Acuifero Maya team, which is part of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. De Anda told Reuters that the caves are certain to shed light on how the Mayan civilization evolved. “Without a doubt, it’s the most important submerged archaeological site in the world,” de Anda said, according to Mexico Daily News. The linked caves are Sac Actun and Dos Ojos. “It allows us to appreciate much more clearly how the rituals, the pilgrimage sites and ultimately the great pre-Hispanic settlements that we know emerged,” de Anda told Reuters. Some caves had important religious meaning to the Maya. “We’ve recorded more than 100 archaeological elements: the remains of extinct fauna, early humans, Mayan archaeology, ceramics and Mayan graves,” de Anda is quoted as saying in the Mexico Daily News. “It’s also very significant that this discovery enables us to see the possible patterns of past settlement. From the Pleistocene through to the ancient Mayans and up to the colonial era, they developed parallel to this enormous flooded fresh-water cave.” The discovery caps nearly a year of intense exploration in the area. As exciting and significant as the finding is, it may be only part of something even larger, de Anda believes. There may be, for instance, other cave systems that are linked to Sac Actun, which means “White Cave” in the Yucatec Maya language.

Very cool!!  To see some pics, click on the text above.    🙂

Ancient forbidden Christian text of Jesus’ ‘secret teachings’ to his ‘brother’ found

Biblical scholars have discovered the first-known original Greek copy of an ancient forbidden Christian text that purportedly describes Jesus’ secret teachings to his “brother” James, an early leader of the Church. Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau, religious studies scholars at The University of Texas at Austin, located the rare text in Oxford University archives earlier this year. The experts found several fifth- or sixth-century A.D. Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, one of the books from an ancient collection known as the Nag Hammadi library. Previously, the text was thought to be preserved only via translations in the Egyptian Coptic language. Only a small number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books discovered in Egypt in 1945, have been found in Greek, their original language of composition. Also known as the “Gnostic Gospels,” the books are seen as key documents for understanding Gnosticism, an ancient belief system. The First Apocalypse of James, like the other books in the Nag Hammadi library, was deemed heretical or forbidden by the church because it fell outside of the fourth-century religious boundaries that defined the 27-book New Testament. Experts were thrilled by the discovery of the ancient fragments, which are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society. “To say that we were excited once we realized what we’d found is an understatement,” said Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies, in a statement. “We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us.” The document is said to describe Jesus’ secret teachings to his “brother” James. Details of the “heavenly realm” and future events, such as James’ inevitable death, are revealed, according to The University of Texas at Austin. “The text supplements the biblical account of Jesus’ life and ministry,” Smith added. There are a number of interpretations of references to Jesus’ siblings in biblical texts. The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark, for example, refer to Jesus’ brothers, including James. James, also known as “James the Just” was a leader of the early church – one interpretation of “brother” may thus be a close spiritual relationship as opposed to a fraternal biological link. The First Apocalypse of James describes James as not Jesus’ brother “materially.” Other interpretations describe James as Jesus’ step-brother or cousin. The manuscript, which uses neat, uniform handwriting and words separated into syllables, was probably a teacher’s model used to help students read and write, according to the experts. “The scribe has divided most of the text into syllables by using mid-dots. Such divisions are very uncommon in ancient manuscripts, but they do show up frequently in manuscripts that were used in educational contexts,” said Landau, a lecturer in the UT Austin Department of Religious Studies, in the statement. Landau notes that the teacher who produced the manuscript likely “had a particular affinity for the text.” The document, he explains, appears to be a complete copy of the forbidden ancient text.

Fascinating!!    🙂

Tyrannosaurus Rex’s little arms may have been used for ‘vicious slashing’, scientist claims

The Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the scariest killers in the history of Planet Earth. But its fearsome image was undermined a little by the ridiculousness of its puny arms, which were among the smallest of all dinosaurs when considered proportionally against the size of its body. Now one scientist has claimed the tiny arms were actually “vicious weapons” equipped with four-inch claws which would have allowed it to eviscerate its unfortunate prey. Steven Stanley, a palaeontologist working at the University of Hawaii, gave a presentation to The Geological Society of America last week in which he claimed nature equipped the monster with “formidable weaponry”. The research flies in the face of previous suggestions that the T-Rex was a lover as well as a fighter, which used its little arms to clasp its partner close during sex. “Its short, strong forelimbs and large claws would have permitted T-Rex, whether mounted on a victim’s back or grasping it with its jaws, to inflict four gashes a metre or more long and several centimetres deep within a few seconds,” said Stanley, according to New Scientist. “And it could have repeated this multiple times in rapid succession.” Other scientists have cast doubt on these claims, with Jakob Vinther, a paleobiologist from the University of Bristol, suggesting Stanley’s argument was “illogical”. The T-Rex’s stubby extremities were just three feet long, meaning it would have needed to get extremely close to its victims if it wanted to rend them limb from limb. And the arms really were used for lovemaking, the claws would hardly have made the encounter very comfortable. Previous research suggested the T-Rex was more of a sensitive lover than you might think. The terrifying meat-eater, which stood 20 feet tall and had jaws bristling with serrated teeth up to nine inches long, was believed to have had a snout as sensitive to touch as human fingertips. A team of researchers suggested two rexy beasts would rub their noses together during foreplay, before getting down to the monstrous act of physical love.

..and I think I need therapy to get that visual out of my head.  No..  I’m inclined to think that Mr. Stanley is on to something.  But, who knows?  Me may never truly learn..

Slow flow of human immigration may have doomed Neanderthals

What killed off the Neanderthals? It’s a big debate, and now a study says that no matter what the answer, they were doomed anyway. Our close evolutionary cousins enjoyed a long run in Europe and Asia, but they disappeared about 40,000 years ago after modern humans showed up from Africa. The search for an explanation has produced many theories including climate change, epidemics, or inability to compete with the modern humans, who may have had some mental or cultural edge. The new study isn’t intended to argue against those factors, but just to show that they’re not needed to explain the extinction, says Oren Kolodny of Stanford University. He and colleague Marcus Feldman present their approach in a paper released Tuesday by the journal Nature Communications. They based their conclusion on a computer simulation that represented small bands of Neanderthals and modern humans in Europe and Asia. These local populations were randomly chosen to go extinct, and then be replaced by another randomly chosen population, with no regard for whether it represented the same species. Neither species was assumed to have any inherent advantage, but there was one crucial difference: Unlike the Neanderthals, the modern humans were supplemented by reinforcements coming in from Africa. It wasn’t a huge wave, but rather “a tiny, tiny trickle of small bands,” Kolodny said. Still, that was enough to tip the balance against the Neanderthals. They generally went extinct when the simulation was run more than a million times under a variety of assumptions. If survival was a game of chance, “it was rigged by the fact that there’s recurring migration,” Kolodny said. “The game was doomed to end with the Neanderthals losing.” Kolodny said the evidence that such migrations actually occurred is suggestive rather than conclusive. Such migrations would not be expected to leave much of an archaeological trace, he said. Experts in human origins said the paper could help scientists pin down the various factors that led to the Neanderthals’ demise. It fits in with other recent attempts to explain the extinction without assuming behavioral differences between Neanderthals and our ancestors, said Wil Roebroeks of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. The notion of such differences is largely disproven, he said. Katerina Harvati of the University of Tuebingen in Germany said while the new work could be useful in solving the extinction mystery, it doesn’t address the question of why modern humans dispersed from Africa into Europe and Asia. It’s important to figure out what was behind that, she said in an email.

Fascinating!!   🙂