This fine stone carving was slipped onto a wooden shaft to form a mace, a sophisticated club used for war. Since it is such a fine example of stone carving, we do not know if it was intended to see battle, or if it was always for ceremonial uses. From Peru's Salinas culture on the northern coast. Circa 200 BCE - 100 CE.
Traces of a square-shaped building have been detected under the Main Plaza at Monte Albán with the use of ground-penetrating radar, electrical resistance, and gradiometery. Each side of the newly detected structure measures about 60 feet long, and more than three feet thick. A Zapotec site in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, Monte Albán was established around 500 BCE and collapsed around 850 CE. It is estimated that the plaza was in use for about 1,000 years before the collapse. Which makes the existence of a building under the plaza rather interesting...
From the 200s to 100s BCE, so when Egypt was ruled by the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty. Courtesy of the Getty Museum
The once-prosperous Arabian trading hub of Hegra (also known as Madain Saleh) has been abandoned and virtually untouched for the past 2,000 years. You might notice that it looks remarkably similar to another rock-cut city of Petra. That's because they were part of the same Nabataean kingdom. Petra was its main city and capital, and Hegra was its second most important city, its southern trading city.
The Nabataeans were desert nomads who leveraged their importance in trading routes to eventually control the incense and spice trade routes through Arabia and Jordan to the Mediterranean, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia. The Nabataeans used their wealth to build stupendous rock-cut buildings and tombs. Unfortunately they were an illiterate people. We have occasional comments on them from their literate neighbors, and scanty archaeological investigations. But we simply do not know that much about the mysterious people who built Hegra and Petra.From the 300s BCE to the 1st century CE, the Nabataeans remained wealthy and powerful in their desert kingdom, until the expanding Roman Empire annexed the kingdom and took over their trading routes.
Saudi Arabia recently opened Hegra to tourists as part of the country's efforts to diversify its oil-focused economy, and since Petra sees nearly a million visitors a year, Saudi Arabia was clearly hoping Hegra will become a similar draw.
Archaeologists have found evidence that Tui na, a form of Chinese massage, was being practiced as early as 2700 BCE. One of the most famous ancient Chinese treatises on medicine was the Huang Di Nei Jing from the 200s to 100s BCE. It also includes how to use massage techniques and what diseases can be treated with massage. So massage has been around since the earliest days of Chinese medicine.
A marble altar encircled with a coiled snake carved in relief has been unearthed at the ancient city of Patara in southern Turkey. It is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old placing it around the time that the city was fought over by Macedonia, then Rhodes, then the kingdom of Pontus before finally being permanently annexed to the Roman Empire. The altar was found near Roman baths and Roman walls.
The first example of a patent in history comes from ancient Greece. Athenaeus in the late 200s CE described how the Greek city of Sybaris, in today's southern Italy, held annual culinary competitions in the early centuries BCE. The winner of the competition would then have exclusive rights to their recipe for one year. Until the next competition, of course.
Ancient Egyptians shared little DNA with sub-Saharan Africans. A recent study looked at the genomes of ancient Egyptians from the New Kingdom through the Roman era, and found their DNA was most closely related to Near East. Modern Egyptians are more related to sub-Saharan Africans than their ancient counterparts: the ancient samples were 6 to 15%, modern samples 14 to 21%. This suggests population movements post-Roman era. One particularly well-preserved DNA sample was even tested for physical characteristics, and suggested a lighter skin pigmentation, dark-colored eyes, and lactose intolerance.
This hand-crafted figure portrays a spirit being, or perhaps a shaman in spirit form, ready to battle supernatural forces. Given the shape of the shaman and the long walkway behind the shaman, it is likely a snuff tray! This artifact comes from the Jama-Coaque culture (in what is today Ecuador). The Jama-Coaque's religious figures are believed to have engaged in shamanic transformations. These spiritual events were aided by psychoactive plants that they ground into a fine powder, then ingested as a snuff, from trays like this one. Circa 300 BCE to 600 CE.
A rare painted leopard has been digitally reconstructed using fragments from a very fragile 100s BCE Egyptian sarcophagus. It was discovered in the Egyptian necropolis of Aswan in 2019. The leopard was a symbol of power and protection to the ancient Egyptians, but was not often used on sarcophagi. This makes the reconstructed leopard special -- and hints at either changing funerary practices or a singular deceased.