Although the Phoenicians were among the most influential people in the Mediterranean in the first millennium BCE, very little is understood about them. For instance, there was never a kingdom called "Phoenicia." There was a bunch of cities, sharing a strip of land on the coast of modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and northern Israel. These cities were never united. Each was fiercely independent, though they shared a language, an alphabet, and several cultural characteristics.
Many of these cities survive today. For instance, Berot became modern Beirut, and Sidon became modern Saida.
There were dozens of language families, each the equivalent of the Indo-European family, before 1492. This map is a "simplified" one. In today's California, for instance, languages that are spoken by neighboring tribes are as different as French and Chinese.
Why did the Americas develop such linguistic diversity? Many linguists suspect that at least some of these separate families date back to separate migrations of different tribes from Asia who originally spoke unrelated languages. Linguistic and archaeological data hint at more than one migration from Asia into the Americas, all of them through Alaska.
Extra Fun Fact: see “Eskimo-Aleut” in northern North America? It is not colored because there is no evidence those languages are related to any other indigenous American languages!
Amazingly Ancient Carving From Ural Mountains Gets A New Look
Gold miners discovered pieces of the elongated structure, dubbed the Shigir Idol, in 1894 in a Russian peat bog. But it wasn't until about 100 years later, in the late 1990s, that researchers did radiocarbon dating and found that the structure was about 9,900 years old, making it the oldest wooden monumental sculpture in the world, the researchers said. That dating only used two pieces of the Shigir Idol.
So a second, more exhaustive, analysis was recently ordered. And wow was it worth it! The Shigir Idol, according to the new tests, is in fact, 11,500 years old! In addition to updating the sculpture's birthday, the researchers found a previously unknown face carved into the wood. Who knows what we will find in another 20 years.
When you read "megaliths" most people think Stonehenge, not Genghis Khan. But the vast central Asian steppe is home to a proud megalith tradition.
Ancient nomads erected hundreds of megaliths in northern Mongolia and southern Siberia, many featuring a mysterious motif that seems to depict flying deer transforming into birds. It seems likely they were erected around 1,000 BCE by Bronze Age nomads, although some scholars think it more likely that they were crafted around 700 BCE by Iron Age peoples.
Archaeologists' Tire Goes Flat, Helping Them Discover 3,000-Year-Old Society
A flat tire in 2016 led to the chance find of some pottery by the side of the road on Quan Lan Island, in the Ha Long Bay region in Vietnam. When the archaeologist investigated, they were surprised to discover that the pottery was over 3,000 years old! The team returned to the area in 2018 after securing permission to do excavations from the local Vietnamese government. They found evidence that indeed, Quan Lan Island was once home to a Neolithic society which left behind ceramics, tools, and various other detritus for modern archaeologists to find.
This as-yet-unnamed society came to a mysterious end. About 3,000 years ago, the artifacts just stop. Something happened. The next big question, now that this island society has been discovered, is what led to its end?
The Amesbury Archer (nicknamed the King of Stonehenge) was an early Bronze Age man. He lived and died around 2300 BCE. When his burial was discovered in 2002 at Amesbury, England -- near Stonehenge -- it caused quite a stir. Because he was buried with the earliest gold artifacts ever found in Britain! Two little golden hair ornaments caused a large fuss.
The other objects he was found with weren't headline-worthy, but they were notable nonetheless for their sheer amount and richness. His burial is the earliest evidence of a copper and gold trade with mainland Europe:
3 tiny copper knives
16 barbed flint arrowheads, likely from arrows placed on his body
Beer was a staple in ancient Egypt. Called hqt (heqet), it was drunk by all ages, and all classes. It was so important that wages were sometimes paid in beer. Workmen at the pyramids of the Giza Plateau were given beer, three times daily - five kinds of beer and four kinds of wine have been found by archaeologists at the site.
The beer drunk by these ancient people was probably very similar to the way beer is still produced in Sudan today. The beer seems to have been not very intoxicating. It was nutritious, and rather sweet, without bubbles, and thick -- so thick that the beer had to be strained by drinking it with wooden straws.
That's not to say ancient Egyptian beer was non-alcoholic. There are plenty of records of ancient Egyptians drinking beer at festivals, getting drunk, and having what sounds like great parties.
A 77,000-year-old mattress was discovered in the Sibudu rock shelter in South Africa, a few miles from the Indian Ocean. The three-foot-by-six-foot mattress, what they call bedding, consisted of compacted layers, less than an inch thick, and was probably used as both a sleeping and a work surface. The mattress also came with built-in pest controls: In addition to grasses and sedges, it was made from the stems and leaves of a type of laurel tree known as Cryptocarya woodii, whose aromatic leaves contain insecticides that kill mosquitoes. Pretty neat!
Naked Mole Rats Help Archaeologist Make Major Find
A researcher, Prof. Avraham Faust, was studying naked mole rats at Tel 'Eton, near the Hebron hills in the central Israeli lowlands. The little burrowing rodents are endemic to the region. They burrow everywhere, and whatever is in the way when they burrow, they deposit topside. If the rodent piles contain lots of pottery sherds, the area had been settled. If not, not. At Tel 'Eton there were a lot of artifacts in the naked mole rat piles, for a place that supposedly had never been inhabited.
With the rodents' help, Faust accidentally found the second-ever monumental structure which can be dated to the united Judah Kingdom ruled by King David and his son, King Solomon, in the 900s BCE.
Any claim for Davidic finds are -- to put it mildly -- controversial. There are ongoing debates about the first monumental structure dated to the Davidic era. And this new, second find is also debated. The vast majority of the findings in the house date to the 700s B.C.E, a couple of hundred years after the united Judah Kingdom. But Faust suspects its foundations date from the Davidic period of the united kingdom. The big house, which they dubbed the “governor’s residency” (though it could have been something entirely different) may exemplify what they call the "old-house effect": a building or settlement that existed for generations, but only left significant remains from its final form.
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By Lillian Audette
This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!