Gilt-Bronze Statue of Maitraya (Pre-Enlightenment Buddha) in Meditation

This is one of the most highly-regarded Korean Buddhist sculptures, dating to the middle or late 500s. The bronze is as thin as 2 mm in some places. The statue is a testament to the artistry and skill of bronze workers at the time. In Korea, it is National Treasure No. 78 and resides in the National Museum of Korea

Ancient Roman House Excavation Reveals Swords and Puppy Paws

Five Roman-style longswords were discovered in a house located in central Sardis, western Turkey’s ancient capital of the kingdom of Lydia. Only three swords had previously been found in the city. Buckles and a lead seal also recovered from the house suggest the residents may have been connected to the military or the city’s civil authorities. The longswords have been dated to about 500 CE. The house they were found in had been furnished with wall paintings that mimic draped curtains and multicolored marble, and terracotta floor tiles that were playfully imprinted before firing with a dog’s paw prints and finger-drawn outlines of birds resembling chickens or ducks. The house appears to have been occupied for approximately 200 years before it was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 600s CE.

How Ancient Egypt Got Scarabs Right

The ancient Egyptians believed that a dung beetle drove the movement of the sun. The dung beetle, or sacred scarab (Scarabaeus sacer), rolls its balls of dung across the ground in a straight line. And the ancient Egyptians believed sacred scarabs did so from east to west, the movement of the sun. Today we know the ancient Egyptians were not so far off. The dung beetle is indeed guided by the sun, plus the light of the moon, and the light from the milky way. Roughly 600 of the 8,000-plus known dung beetle species roll such balls, for meals, gifts for potential mates or repositories for eggs. As far back as the 400s, Egyptian scholar Horapollo described the beetle’s movement as rolling its ball from east to west, while looking east. It took until 2003 for Horapollo's observation to be confirmed by modern scientific testing. When a team of entomologists placed five species of dung beetles in little arenas on farmland in South Africa, the creatures usually rolled dung balls in the direction of the sun as they attempted to make a straight line away from the dung source to a safe place to bury the dung ball and consume it in peace. To check that it was really the sun the dung beetles were following, the team reflected a sun off a mirror, while hiding the real sun from view. And just Horapollo would have hypothesized, the insects followed the reflected sun instead!

The Tashtyk culture existed between the first century and the 600s CE of southern Siberia. They are known in archaeological circles for their elaborate burial customs. They would layer gypsum on the face of the deceased, to create colorful and lifelike death masks.

A particularly well-preserved Tashtyk man was discovered in the late 1960s in the Khakassia region. Removing the mask would damage the mummy. So previous generations of researchers wisely decided to leave the man as they had found him. Now, thanks to a CT scan, we have the ability to glimpse the man beneath the death mask. The Tashtyk man had a hole in his left temple made likely at or after death. It was probably how his brain was removed before the mask was painted on.

He also had a nasty cut across his left side which ran from his eye to his ear which was neatly sutured. The gash seems to have been fatal. But in keeping with the Tashtyk practices he was made to look nice before his final send-off.

Madagascar Does Not Come From Where You Think

In multiple ways. First, it is a break off from the Indian sub-continent, not African, even though it is very very close to Africa. Second, the first settlers on Madagascar between 350 and 550 CE were of Malayo-Indonesian descent. Specifically, from Indonesia, Sumatra, and Java. Yes, that is on the other side of the Indian Ocean, rather than across the short Mozambique Channel to Africa. These were joined around the 800s CE by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel and intermarrying with the Malagasy. A big clue about Madagascar's unusual migration history is that most common language of Madagascar, also called Malagasy, can be identified as part of the Austronesian language family.

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...

Bronze openwork shoes found in a tomb near Gonju in Korea. They date to the Kingdom of Baekje, 400s - 500s CE. Gilded metal shoes have been found in multiple royal Korean tombs, usually with ornate lattice work.

What is this?

First, it is worn on the body. Does that help at all? Answer: a nose ornament! It comes from Peru's Moche culture, between 500 and 600 CE. The Moche were known for their metalwork. Here is a silver crescent with gold shrimp attached on, with tails that extend beyond the silver, and eyes marked by green stones.

Coastal Amazonian Diets Analyzed

An international team of researchers studied the diets of people who lived between 200 CE and 1000 CE on Brazil’s Amazon coast. Using statistical models and analysis of the chemical composition of their bones, the results suggested that people ate mostly terrestrial plants and animals. This is surprising since they were studied specifically based on their living in coastal areas. Rodents such as those from the guinea pig family, the agouti, and the paca; the brocket deer; and catfish are all thought to have been consumed, in addition to wild and cultivated plants such as cassava, corn, and squash.

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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!

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