More than 200 cliff cave burial sites have been identified in Zhengxing Township in Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan Province. The 200 burial sites number is deceptive; they are not just holes in the ground, but a cluster of hewn rooms, carved out of the cliffs overlooking the Jinjiang River. Some of the tombs have up to seven chambers with tunnels as long as 20 meters (65 feet).
Unfortunately, the tombs appear to have been previously looted. Bummer. But in what should be considered a small miracle, a large number of artifacts were recovered despite the looting; initial estimates are that around 1,000 gold, silver and bronze artifacts are still there. The tombs date between 206 BCE and 420 CE -- the Han Dynasty through the Wei-Jin period.
Researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History have discovered a route through underwater limestone caves connecting the Sac Actun cenote and the Dos Ojos cenote. Maya pottery, human bones, and the bones of elephant-like creatures, giant sloths, bears, tigers, and extinct species of horses, all likely from around the end of the last Ice Age, have been found in the tunnel-like caves. Exploring them and finding artifacts can be difficult, though: the underwater caves range in width from 400 feet to just three feet.
In ancient Rome, it was standard practice to name daughters with the female form of the family name. Julius Caesar's daughter, for instance, was Julia. And Marcus Antonius' (Mark Antony's) daughters were both Antonia! Although to avoid confusion, they were known as Antonia Maior and Antonia Minor.
You've probably heard of the Essenes, an apocalyptic cult of Jewish separatists who created or collected what is today known as the Dead Sea Scrolls in the first century CE. Did you know that they were early hippies, too? They believed a new age was coming. It would be ushered in by two messiahs, so they kept themselves in a constant state of readiness: no sex, lots and lots of bathing, and absolutely no "relieving" on the Sabbath. Twenty-six hours a week where you cannot pee? Sounds painful. Perhaps due to their hygiene habits, the Essenes had relatively short life expectancies.
Pasiphaë, the wife of King Minos, did not trust her husband. So she laid a spell on him. It kept him from ... having relations ... with anyone else. But in a very unusual way: if King Minos slept with a concubine not approved by Pasiphaë, he would ejaculate serpents, scorpions, and centipedes, killing the unlucky woman.
All rather ironic, since Pasiphaë herself was unfaithful. To be fair, she only cheated because of Poseidon, who was angry at King Minos; to punish the husband, Poseidon enchanted poor Pasiphaë to fall in love with a bull. The result of their "love" was the Minotaur, half-man and half-bull.
In November 2017, researchers published an article in Nature revealing the secret element to ancient Egyptian ink: copper. A team from the University of Copenhagen analyzed papyri from the 100s BCE to the 200s CE. All the black ink from their samples contained copper. This is the first time copper-based ink has been found to have been used in ancient Egypt. The samples show no substantial variation across time or location and suggest a stable period of ink production techniques for at least 300 years. It is likely that the source material was a by-product of metallurgy.
An amazing new site has been found in Peru: an undisturbed cemetery with burials from the Viru Period (200 BCE - 500 CE) and the earlier Salinar Period (400 BCE - 200 BCE). The richer graves actually date to the Salinar Period, with gold artifacts, ritual objects, and a stone mace head. Unfortunately, those skeletons also show severe injuries. Located in Huanchaco, on Peru's north coast, the site is at what is essentially a fishing village. Such a concentration of high-status burials shows that the Salinar period had strong social differentiation, even in a small village.
An intact, 1,900-year-old mirror has been found at the Nakashima archaeological site on the southern island of Kyushu. It is in such good condition that the mirror is still reflectove. The site where it was uncovered was once part of the Na state, during the late Yayoi period, which ended around 300 CE. The mirror is thought to have been made in China during the later Han Dynasty, between 25 and 220 CE. An inscription on the mirror, which measures about four and one-half inches across, reads “to benefit future generations forever.” And in an interesting and definitely unpredicted way, the mirror is fulfilling it's inscription. The mirror may have been obtained when the king of Na sent a mission to China in 107 CE —an event recorded in Chinese history.
A map of where, in the world, popes have been born. Note that they placed each pope in the country he would be born in, if he was born today. Three popes were born in modern-day Tunisia, sure, but that was back in the Roman Empire. Those ancient "Tunisian" popes would have called it the province of "Africa" and it included eastern Algeria and northern Libya, as well as Tunisia.
Over one million mummies have been found in Egypt. Most are cats.