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...

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.)

The Three Wise Monkeys

A slightly-mysterious carving of the Three Wise Monkeys on the sacred stable at the Nikko Toshogu Shrine complex in Japan, which was built in 1617. The sculpture is attributed to Hidari Jingorō, a legendary sculptor whose existence is a matter of debate. Not only is their carver potentially a myth, these monkeys may also be the first physical representation of the old saying, which arrived in Japan with Buddhist monks in the 700s CE.

Cup made of agate and shaped like a horn. This cup was found in China as part of the Hejiacun Hoard, a huge collection of over a thousand silver and gold items unearthed at the site of Chang'an, the capital of the Tang dynasty. But the craftsman who made it was almost certainly in Persia, and specifically the Parthian Empire. We know this because the drinking vessel is in the style of horn-shaped rhytons found in central Asia and the Mediterranean which are known to have been produced in Persia.

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.

Ancient Domesticated Bananas Found Off The Coast of New Guinea

Some extremely early evidence of banana cultivation -- dating to around 2,000 years ago -- has been found on Mabuiag Island. That's in the Torres Strait, between the tip of northern Australia and the island of New Guinea. With the permission of the island's Goemulgal community a team examined soil near Wagadagam Village. Besides thousands of microscopic fossilized starch grains and banana phytoliths, they also found traces of terraces at the site, indicating that banana cultivation had intensified on the island around 1,300 years ago (roughly 700s CE). Interestingly the survey did not find evidence of wild banana plants on Mabuiag Island. That means ancient humans brought already-domesticated bananas to the island specifically for agricultural production.

Glyphs Help Rediscover Timeline of Mayan City

Using photogrammetry and light cast from different angles, researchers have been recording and attempting to read eroded glyphs at the Maya city of Coba. The city once flourished in the northern lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula. After ten years of work, the researchers have identified the names of 14 rulers who governed the city from about 500 to 780 CE. This allows modern researchers to begin reconstructing a political timeline of the city. When was it powerful? When did it fight other cities? For instance the glyphs document a Lady Yopaat, who is thought to have increased the power and influence of the city during her 40-year reign in the early 600s.

Once-Dominant Steppe Warrior's Grave Found In Croatia

The rare remains of an Avar warrior dating to the late 600s or early 700s CE have been found in a walled tomb in eastern Croatia, near the site of the Roman city of Cibalae. While Avars were known to have been in the area, this is the first Avar grave found. The Avars were Eurasian nomads who arrived in Europe in the 500s CE, at the invitation of the Byzantine emperor, and conquered the other nomadic tribes in the region to become the dominant group. Archaeologist Anita Rapan-Papeša explained “When we observe the walled grave we have discovered, it turns out that Avars saw how Romans were buried so they made their own copies of Roman graves.” Rapan-Papeša and her team members also unearthed a grave in the cemetery that contained the remains of an Avar warrior, his horse, and bridle ornaments.

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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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