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.

The remains of a 1,200-year-old pagan temple to the Old Norse gods has been discovered in Norway's seaside town of Ose. It is the first such temple found in the country. Though we know what the building was, based on surviving temples in Denmark and Sweden. The wooden building is large for the time, about 45 feet (14 meters) long, 26 feet (8 m) wide, and up to 40 feet (12 m) high. Archaeologists think it was built sometime in the 700s, and would have been the site of sacrifices (and more mundane religious observances) during the midsummer and midwinter solstices.

The Norse began building these large "god houses" in the 500s CE. They replaced simpler cult sites, often outdoors, that had previously sufficed for worship. Larger god houses became popular as Norse society became more stratified and dominated by wealthy families, who are thought to have built god houses as part of their taking control of the cults of the gods.

The Old Norse religion was suppressed from the 1000s, when Norway's kings forcibly imposed the Christian religion, and destroyed God Houses to enforce worship in the new Christian churches. Perhaps including the one at Ose. (The one above is a reconstruction, the real site has only the foundations remaining.)

Voluume 5 of the Lunyu Yishu, a commentary of the Analects which was compiled by the Confucian scholar Huang Kan from the Liang Dynasty (502-557 CE). This particular copy is the oldest piece of Confucian literature found in Japan. It was discovered in an antique bookstore by Keio University in 2017.

Jewelry Found in Silla-Era Korean Tomb

Additional finds were recovered from a small tomb in eastern South Korea, dating around 400s - 500s CE, where a pair of gilt-bronze shoes were found earlier this year. The new finds included a small gilt-bronze coronet, gold earrings, bracelets, a silver ring and silver belt, and a beaded chestlace, or piece of regalia worn across the chest and shoulders. The outer band of the coronet, which features three treelike branches and has two antler-like prongs, is decorated with heart-shaped holes and jade and gold marbles. A bracelet worn on the right wrist is made of more than 500 tiny yellow beads. According to South Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration, the researchers have not yet determined the sex of the deceased, who stood about five feet, seven inches tall. The site is a Silla-era royal tomb complex in Gyeongju, suggesting the person was connected to the royal family of Silla.

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.

North-western Syria has about seven hundred "Dead Cities" or "Forgotten Cities." They include villages, towns, and some cities that were mainly abandoned between the 700s and 900s CE. Because they rest in an elevated area of limestone known as the Limestone Massif, which gets relatively little rain, the settlements are more or less still at surface level and well-preserved. There are three main groups of highlands on the Massif, each with their own Dead Cities. They provide us with insight into what life was like for prosperous agriculturalists in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period.

The Dead Cities became a massive UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, although they have been largely inaccessible since 2013.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    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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