The BBC reports on a "female skeleton . . . discovered at the Royal Mint, London, [that]dates to between 1350 and 1400.
The woman died between the ages of 26 and 35; but as her body
lay buried, the copper waste produced from the coin manufacturer
concreted her neck vertebrae together, and also stained her teeth and
Other interesting historical skeletal remains discussed at the link, with video.
Around 2300 B.C., an acrobat was killed during a bizarre sacrificial ceremony in what is now northeastern Syria, according to a new study published in the current issue of the journal Antiquity.
Gory evidence of the entertainer's death -- along with the remains of several rare horse-like animals which appear to have been sacrificed as well -- was found in the remains of a building at a site called Tell Brak, which was once the ancient city of Nagar. The findings suggest some ancient cultures may have sacrificed well-known public figures, as well as animals of great personal and monetary worth. . . .
[Author Joan Oates and colleagues] believe the acrobat was an entertainer known as a hub, or hub ki, words associated with the idea of "always jumping about." Ancient seals depict such individuals with spiky hair and performing contortionist-type tricks.
Oates and her colleagues identify the person as being such an ancient acrobat because his or her knee, tibia, arm and foot bones indicate the person was physically active, having executed jumps and turns "in a very disciplined way with feet pointed downwards during leaps, much as can be seen in some modern dancers."
The scientists compared the skeleton with the anatomy of a modern dancer and found direct similarities.
While they cannot yet tell exactly how the entertainer and the other two individuals were killed, it's likely that the acrobat participated in some kind of ritualistic performance that culminated in his or her own death by beheading.
According to the Tell Brak archaeological website, animal sacrifices occurred as part of the "ritual closure" of a building, which was then filled in and abandoned. The horse-like animals are probably "the onager-donkey hybrid that preceded the horse in this area as the appropriate animal to draw the chariots of ‘gods and kings’" (Tell Brak). Apparently the people in this era also considered Salukis worthy of sacrifice. The Saluki is possibly "the oldest known breed of domesticated dog" and the only breed that does not have an "unclean" status in Arab culture. It is believed that the sacrifices came after some sort of natural disaster that led to the abandonment of the city of Nagar.
Olive oil infused with fragrant herbs has been identified in an ancient
Greek ceramic transport jar known as an amphora, along with another
container of what could be the world's oldest retsina-type wine, according to a recent Journal of Archaeological Science paper.
. . . the two large jars were recovered from a 2,400-year-old wrecked vessel
off the Greek island of Chios. If the second jar indeed contained a
retsina-like wine, which is preserved and flavored with a tree resin
known as mastic , then the find would push back the known origins of
mastic cultivation by 200 years. . . .
[The] DNA signature [of the material in the second amphora] matched a plant from the Pistacia genus. That points to either pistachio nuts or mastic (scientific name Pistacia lentiscus).
[Brendan Foley of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution] said the ancient Greeks were known to have shipped huge
containers of nuts. One third-century B.C. wreck, in fact, contained
jar after jar of them. But since the design of this particular amphora
was most associated with wine shipments, mastic-flavored wine is the
more likely choice.
As a spice, it continues to be used in Greece to flavour spirits and liquors (such as Chios's native drinks of Mastichat & mastica), chewing gum and a number of cakes . . . and desserts. Mastic resin is a key ingredient in Dondurma (Turkish ice cream), and Turkish puddings granting those confections its unusual texture and bright whiteness. In Lebanon and Egypt, the spice is used to flavour many sauces, ranging from soups to meats to desserts, while in Morocco smoke from the resin is used to flavour water. Recently, a mastic flavoured fizzy drink [i.e., carbonated beverage] has also been launched.
As well as its culinary uses, mastic continues to be used for its gum and medicinal properties. The resin is used as a primary ingredient in the production of cosmetics such as toothpaste, lotions for the hair and skin, and perfumes.
You can buy mastic from most Asian and/or Middle Eastern groceries. (The Turkish ice cream is often called "chewy ice cream," which indicates what is meant by the "unusual texture.")
Five years of detailed research, carried out by the Oxford University landscape archaeologist Anthony Johnson, claims that Stonehenge was designed and built using advanced geometry. . . .
The most complex geometrical achievement at Stonehenge is an 87-metre diameter circle of chalk-cut pits which mark the points of a 56-sided polygon, created immediately within themonument's perimeter earthwork.
The BBC reports on a bust of Julius Caesar, completed while he was still alive, and dropped in the Rhone after he was assassinated:
Divers in France have found the oldest known bust of Roman dictator Julius Caesar at the bottom of the River Rhone, officials have said.
The marble bust was found near Arles, which was founded by Caesar.
France's culture ministry said the bust was from 46BC, the date of the southern town's foundation. . . .
Luc Long, the archaeologist who directed the excavations, said all the busts of Caesar in Rome were posthumous.
A group of republican senators assassinated Caesar in 44BC.
"I suspect the bust was thrown in the river after he was assassinated because it would not have been good at that time to be considered a follower of his," said Mr Long.
Julius Caesar was called, by his opponents, the Queen of Bithynia, since he was believed to have lost his virginity to the King thereof. He was also said to be "a husband to every wife and a wife to every husband." But who knew he looked that much like Mickey Rourke?
Lindow Man has been Carbon-14 dated to sometime between 2 BCE and 119 CE. This bog body is most noted
for the "triple death" overkill it suffered. The killing is supposed to
have begun with three blows to the head, followed by one incision into
his throat. Lastly, a knotted cord fitted tightly to the neck and twisted, was found around his neck. He was found face down in an already mature bog at Lindow Moss. This may be suggestive of a ritual "slaying" because the Celtic symbol
for religion is the triplism which was made apparent in his "triple"
death. Opinion is divided as to whether this was a human sacrifice, and execution, or both. Details of the practice of human sacrifice among the Celts are debated, as all literary accounts were written by their enemies.
Lindow Man was discovered on May 13, 1984 by two men working the shredder for their peat cutting company in the
English county of Cheshire. . . .
The bog's acidity had preserved the contents of his stomach: his last meal consisted largely of burnt cereal grains, wheat, bran, and barley, possibly identifying a sacrificial offering rather than an ordinary supper. The presence of mistletoe pollen in the victim's stomach is highly suggestive, given the many Druidical associations with mistletoe.
Mistletoe is a poisonous plant known to cause convulsions, and is
unlikely to have been ingested accidentally. The manner of death is
also well-documented in later Celtic commentaries. However, as
discussed by Gordon Hillman (1986) pollen found in his gut most likely
represents pollen which was caught on the stigmas of flowering cereals, which was thereafter stored and eaten with the grain.
Here is what Lindow Man is believed to have looked like in life:
The photo shows a reconstruction belonging to the British Museum. Despite the admitted resemblance to the Geico cave man, there was no mango salsa in the stomach contents.
The people buried in Akhenaten's capital city had serious health problems (besides the obvious one):
Tell el-Amarna was briefly the capital of ancient Egypt during the
reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who abandoned most of Egypt's old gods
in favour of the Aten sun disk and brought in a new and more expressive
style of art.
Akhenaten, who ruled Egypt between 1379 and 1362 BC, built and
lived in Tell el-Amarna in central Egypt for 15 years. The city was
largely abandoned shortly after his death and the ascendance of the
famous boy king Tutankhamun to the throne.
Studies on the remains of ordinary ancient Egyptians in a cemetery
in Tell el-Amarna showed that many of them suffered from anaemia,
fractured bones, stunted growth and high juvenile mortality rates,
according to professors Barry Kemp and Gerome Rose, who led the
Just in case you thought peculiar lamp designs were a modern aberration, this terra cotta foot is actually an oil lamp from an ancient Roman site in Londinium. It's a nice foot -- indeed it is a beautiful foot -- but why is it a lamp?