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.
Who were the successors to the Roman's archrivals, the Parthians? You probably guessed from the title -- the Sassanians. It is widely considered the last "true" Persian Empire. Why?
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.
A team of archaeologists in northwest China has discovered an irrigation system dating to the 200s to 300 CE in the foothills of China’s Tian Shan Mountains, along one of the old sections of the Silk Road. The researchers spotted the canals, cisterns, and check dams with drones and satellite imagery, and created a 3-D model of the site with aerial photographs and photogrammetry software. The resulting model showed that the irrigation system was designed with an emphasis on conserving and storing water. They wanted to always have water in their cisterns, rather than always have a flow of water through their canals. Located next to the Mohuchahan River, the area where the irrigation system was found had previously been believed to be solely pastoral, so the new findings rewrite our understanding of who lived there and how they lived in the early centuries of the Silk Road.
Fox head ornament from the Moche civilization, in Peru. Made of gilded copper — which has turned green over the centuries — and shell. Circa 390 to 450 CE.
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.
Roman mosaic, showing the legendary Minotaur, his labyrinth prison, and the hero Theseus who found the Minotaur and slayed him. Roman, circa late 200s CE.
Over one million mummies have been found in Egypt. Most are cats.