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News from Ancient Origins website - Ancient Origins seeks to uncover, what we believe, is one of the most important pieces of knowledge we can acquire as human beings – our beginnings.
Updated: 28 min 58 sec ago

The Tomb of Archimedes, Genius of Syracuse, Concealed by a Naiad

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 21:15

First century AD Roman statesman and orator, Cicero’s claim that he had found Archimedes’ tomb may be refuted. 

Read moreSection: NewsHistory

Earliest Evidence for a Cooked Starch Paleo Diet

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 19:41

New discoveries made at the Klasies River Cave in South Africa's southern Cape, where charred food remains from hearths were found, provide the first archaeological evidence that anatomically modern humans were roasting and eating plant starches, such as those from tubers and rhizomes, as early as 120,000 years ago.

Read moreSection: ArtifactsOther ArtifactsNewsHistory & Archaeology

Fuerte De Samaipata - A Site of Ceremonial Carvings and Sacrifice

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 16:59

The Andean nation of Bolivia has been home to a number of remarkable cultures, and as a result many archaeological sites remain in the country. 

Read moreSection: NewsAncient PlacesAmericas

Homer’s Iliad Casts Doubt on the Aegean Location of Troy

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 13:01

Historian Bernard Jones has spent more than three decades researching the ‘Story of Troy’ and he maintains that Homer’s Iliad is the greatest reference work on the Bronze Age world.

Read moreSection: NewsAncient PlacesEurope

Sumer: Where Written Language, Arithmetic and Civilization Were Born

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 08:06

The Sumerian civilization (known also as Sumer) was one of the earliest civilizations in the world. This ancient civilization emerged in the region of southern Mesopotamia (modern day southern Iraq), between the Tigris and Euphrates River. 

Read moreSection: NewsAncient PlacesAsia

The Epic of Gilgamesh Unveiled: Enlightenment and Source of Religions

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:58

Part 1 of this interpretation of the epic told of the birth of Gilgamesh, his tyrannical rule and the creation of a being to rival his power and also become his companion.

Read moreSection: ArtifactsAncient WritingsNewsHuman OriginsFolkloreMyths & LegendsAsia

A History of the Crusades As Told by Crusaders' DNA

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 12:58

History can tell us a lot about the Crusades, the series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the Near East. But the DNA of nine 13th century Crusaders buried in a pit in Lebanon shows that there's more to learn about who the Crusaders were and their interactions with the populations they encountered. The work appears April 18 in The American Journal of Human Genetics.

Crusaders' DNA Was Intermixed

The remains suggest that the soldiers making up the Crusader armies were genetically diverse and intermixed with the local population in the Near East, although they didn't have a lasting effect on the genetics of Lebanese people living today. They also highlight the important role ancient DNA can play in helping us understand historical events that are less well documented.

Read moreSection: ArtifactsOther ArtifactsNewsHistory & Archaeology

Terror Attack at the Giza Pyramids Injures 16

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 10:41

In Egypt, security sources have announced a suspected bomb attack on a tourist bus near the world-famous Giza pyramids. Initial reports indicate that 16 people were hurt in the attack, but that their injuries are believed to be relatively minor.  If this is confirmed to be a terrorist bombing then it would be the latest in a long string of incidents, that are aimed at disrupting Egypt’s vital tourism sector.

It is believed that what was an improvised explosive device detonated as a bus filled with tourists was waiting in traffic. The explosion occurred at a wall with a fence and it strew debris over the road.  This appears to have been a roadside bomb attack, a well-known terrorist tactic in the Middle East.

16 tourists have been injured in the attack. (Image: Yosef Yisrael /Twitter)

Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology

The Epic of Gilgamesh Unveiled: Searching For a Way to the Home Planet

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 08:09

The Epic of Gilgamesh is regarded as one of mankind’s greatest literary and historical works. Many authors have studied the text in an effort to explain the nature of Gilgamesh’s tyranny and his erratic behavior.

Read moreSection: NewsMyths & LegendsAsia

Skaði, The Norse ‘Giantess’ with a Godly Vendetta

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 17:04

In Norse mythology, Skaði (also anglicized as Skadi, Skade, or Skathi) is a giantess and goddess. She is most often associated with winter. Apart from that, Skaði is also connected with hunting, skiing and mountains. According to Norse belief, Skaði is the daughter of Thjazi, who was murdered by the Aesir. Additionally, Skaði is believed to be the wife of Njord, a Vanir. The death of Skaði’s father and her marriage to Njord are connected in a well-known Norse myth.

Read moreSection: NewsMyths & LegendsEurope

Nine Notorious Demons that Terrorized the Ancient World

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 16:46

Storytellers have been telling tales of ancient demons wreaking havoc on humanity since the beginning of time. 

Read moreSection: NewsUnexplained Phenomena

Did the Denisovans Walk to North America?

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 12:49

For a people from whom one 41,000 year old finger bone fossil from a nine year old girl, along with a bracelet she wore, were (until recently) the only authenticated known artifacts, the mysterious Denisovans sure received lots of publicity.

Read moreSection: ArtifactsOther ArtifactsNews

Decoding Viking Signs: Nine Norse Symbols

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 12:24

The Vikings used many symbols in accordance to Norse mythology. Such symbols were widely used in Viking society and they represented elements of their beliefs and myths. There are even some Viking symbols which still have unknown meanings. The following is a list of some of the most significant ancient Norse symbols.

Thor’s Hammer

Thor’s hammer was named Mjolnir, meaning “lightning”. This was a clear reference to Thor’s power as the god of thunder and lightning. The Norse believed that Thor’s hammering caused thunder and lightning during storms.

Thor is an ancient god of war who was beloved by the Vikings. Therefore, his image is quite prominent in Norse mythology. Thor was the son of the earth goddess Fyorgyn and Odin, the chief deity of Norse mythology. According to legend, Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, had the power to level mountains.

Thor's Battle against the Jötnar (1872) by Mårten Eskil Winge. (Public Domain)

Read moreSection: NewsMyths & Legends

DNA of First Settlers of Scandinavia Gleaned from Ancient Chewing Gums

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 10:39

The first humans who settled in Scandinavia more than 10,000 years ago left their DNA behind in ancient chewing gums, which are masticated lumps made from birch bark pitch. This is shown in a new study conducted at Stockholm University and published in Communications Biology.

There are few human bones of this age, close to 10,000 years old, in Scandinavia, and not all of them have preserved enough DNA for archaeogenetic studies. In fact, the DNA from these newly examined chewing gums is the oldest human DNA sequenced from this area so far.

The DNA derived from three individuals, two females and one male, creates an exciting link between material culture and human genetics.

Piece of birch bark chewing gum containing oldest Scandinavian DNA (Image: Natalija Kashuba et al / Nature)

Read moreSection: NewsEvolution & Human Origins

Bones of Powerful Medieval Queen Identified at Winchester Cathedral

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 08:07

Archaeologists have potentially made a very important discovery after tests on human remains from early medieval mortuary caskets in England. They examined a large number of human bones and believe that they have identified some as belonging to a powerful medieval queen from the Viking Age in England. It is believed that they have found the remains of Queen Emma, who played a very important role in the history of medieval Europe.

Emma Receiving The Encomium, In 'The Encomium Of Queen Emma' MS 33241 (Public Domain)

Read moreSection: NewsHistory & ArchaeologyHistoryFamous People

Temple of Nemesis Found Under A Greek Theater. And Here is Why

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 16:12

The Greek goddess Nemesis dealt out retribution against people who were arrogant before the gods, had received undeserved good fortune, or who had committed certain evil deeds. That’s why the discovery of a first century temple of Nemesis in Mytilene under a contemporary theater may seem a bit of a strange combination at first. But there’s a reason why the two archaeological features may have been deliberately put together.

Locating the Temple of Nemesis

The temple of Nemesis was unearthed under the ruins of an ancient theater in Mytilene, on the Greek island of Lesbos. According to Greek Reporter, it was located under large limestone blocks on the theater’s south entry passage. It has been suggested that the choice to place the temple of Nemesis in this part of the theater was deliberate.

The lead excavator at the site, Pavlos Triantafyllides, explained that the temple of Nemesis is likely associated with the gladiator battles that used to take place in the theater’s orchestra area during Roman times. He said,

Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology

Ancient Japanese Queen Himiko may have Burned Animal Bones to Tell the Future

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 14:27

Archaeologists believe that a burnt boar scapula found in the ruins of Makimuku in Japan in 2015 may tie the ancient shaman Queen Himiko and leaders of the Yamataikoku ruling establishment with the practice of burning animal bones to tell the future.

The bone was found while digging in Makimuku, which is near the city of Sakurai in Nara Prefecture. The city’s education board announced the discovery of the bone in the ruins, which scholars think was an important city in the Yamataikoku state that Himiko ruled.

A pillar marks the location of the ancient Makimuku ruins. (Takanuka/CC BY 3.0)

Himiko’s Tomb

Ancient Origins reported on the find of a structure at Makimuku in early 2014:

Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology

Farmer Unearths Elite Nomad Burials and ‘Laughing Man’ Elongated Skull

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 12:50

In Southern Russia, an elite nomad burial site has been unearthed. While working on his lands, a farmer stumbled across burials that appear to have belonged to a nomadic culture. Archaeologists have found several skeletons and many grave goods that are expected to transform our knowledge of nomadic society 2000 years ago.

The find was made near the village of  Nikolyskoye, in the Astrakhan region of southern Russia, to the north of the Caspian Sea. A local farmer, Rustam Mudayev, was digging when his shovel struck something metallic. He found a copper pot that was clearly very old, and he took it to the local Astrakhan Museum. The experts recognized that the farmer had possibly made an important archaeological discovery, and when the weather improved, they launched a mission to Mudayev’s farm. They suspected that the farmer had uncovered a burial mound known as a Kurgan.

“They often contain the burials of elite members of ancient groups,” reports Fox News.

The Bronze cauldron found by Rustam Mudayev in southern Russia. (Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Astrakhan Region)

Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology

Romans in Pompeii Repaired the Roads with Molten Iron

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 06:37

The buried city of Pompeii continues to provide many insights into Roman society, economy, and culture. The ash and pumice, that fell on Pompeii from Mount Vesuvius, froze the city in time. A recent study of its road system, however, has provided another fascinating insight. It appears that the resourceful Romans repaired roads with molten ore in the 1st century AD.

A study of the roads that traverse the archaeological site was carried out by Eric Poehler of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, independent researcher Juliana van Roggen, and Benjamin Crowther of the University of Texas at Austin according to Archaeology. Org. They found that the narrow streets which are paved with stones became rutted and pot-holed over time. It seems that heavy carts and wagons cut deep ruts in the roads, over a number of years.

Read moreSection: ArtifactsAncient TechnologyNewsHistory & ArchaeologyHistoryAncient Traditions

Orion: Archaeoastronomy Inspiration for the Pyramids of Giza and the Pyramids of Teotihuacan

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 04:47

As ancient Egyptian architects gazed up at the night sky and built the three pyramids of Giza based on the celestial plan of the Constellation of Orion, so millennia apart and at the other side of the world, in Mexico at Teotihuacan

Read moreSection: NewsHistory