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.

Interesting Facts About The Zodiac

Whether you read your horoscope faithfully, or you do not even remember your own zodiac sign, here's a fun list to learn more about this ancient system of divination.

  • Astrology developed before the Copernican Revolution. As a result, the zodiac is based on the incorrect assumption that the sun moves around the Earth, passing through the different star constellations.
  • The modern zodiac's 12 signs were finalized in ancient Greece, and is directly based on Ptolemy's writings in Egypt during the 100s CE
  • Saint Augustine of Hippo published a criticism of astrology in opposition to early Christians who were trying to cast horoscopes for Christ
  • Ancient Babylonians had their own zodiac of 12 signs, including a scale and a pair of twins
  • In India, astrological predictions are based on the 12 zodiac signs, which are the same as western signs, and the five elements fire, earth, water, air, and ether, each of which correspond to a planet
  • The Chinese zodiac runs on a sixty-year cycle of 12 signs (rat, rooster, dragon, etc) combined with the five phases (wood, fire, metal, water, earth)

The Alternative Foundings of Rome

Ancient Rome's foundation myth -- twins suckled by a she-wolf -- is actually just the winner of a number of competing origin myths. One had Romulus and Remus happily founding the city together. Multiple connected Rome to the acknowledged great civilization, Greece. The Trojan hero Aeneas escaped Troy, wandered the Mediterranean, then established a city in central Italy. There are hints that one of Hercules' labors was completed in the area, perhaps he was once seen as the city's founder. Or Romulus was the son of Odysseus and the sorceress Circe. Then there is the myth that Romulus, just the one boy, was the son of a slave-girl, Ocrisia, who became pregnant thanks to a phallus that grew from the ashes in her hearth. But none of these myths were as potent as the now-immortal image of the two baby boys, suckled by a wild wolf.

New DNA Analysis of Ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egyptians shared little DNA with sub-Saharan Africans. A recent study looked at the genomes of ancient Egyptians from the New Kingdom through the Roman era, and found their DNA was most closely related to Near East. Modern Egyptians are more related to sub-Saharan Africans than their ancient counterparts: the ancient samples were 6 to 15%, modern samples 14 to 21%. This suggests population movements post-Roman era. One particularly well-preserved DNA sample was even tested for physical characteristics, and suggested a lighter skin pigmentation, dark-colored eyes, and lactose intolerance.

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.

Olmec and Maya Sculptures Used to Study Evolution of Emotions

Neuroscientist Alan Cowen and psychologist Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley, have used ancient sculptures to study whether human facial expressions are signalling the same emotions across cultures. How universal are our facial expressions? Previous comparisons of facial expressions of living people have been questioned because of the far-reaching influence of modern Western cultural practices.

Their study asked 114 participants to rate how people in the same situations as the 63 Mayan and Olmec sculptures would express the same emotions or emotional states. They were given descriptions of what the sculptures were doing, but not photos. The sculptures made in Mexico and Central America between 3,500 and 600 years ago, and were doing various things including being held captive, being tortured, carrying a heavy object, embracing someone, holding a baby, preparing to fight, playing a ballgame, and playing music. In other words, the 114 participants were used to check what emotions would participants "expect" to see on the sculpture's faces.

Separately, more than 300 English-speakers were presented with photographs of just the sculptures' faces. They were then asked what the statues’ expressions were, according to a list of 30 emotions or emotional states. These participants could not see what activity the statue was engaged in.

The study found that the sculptures’ facial expressions aligned with what the participants expected to see, per the 114. The findings suggest that humans may have evolved a wider set of facial expression to convey more emotions that had been previously thought.

Can you guess what this is?

Answer: a bronze blade to be attached to a chariot wheel! For cutting your enemies off at the knee, and keeping enemies from getting too close to the chariot. From China during the warring states period, found in a mausoleum containing 38 chariots! Based on when the deceased passed, this blade was crafted around 433 BCE.

Buddhism's Sacred Trees

Trees are a re-occurring motif in the life of Siddhartha Gautama, according to the beliefs of the religion he founded. His mother, Maya, went into labor while traveling through Lumbini and held a branch of a sal tree for support while giving birth. A fig tree (bodhi) shaded Siddhartha while he achieved enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. And as the end of his life approached, the Buddha lay down between two sal trees in Kushinagar, as he passed from this world. Tree shrines exist at most major Buddhist sites. At Lumbini, for instance, a living descendent of the sacred bodhi tree grows alongside the temple at Bodh Gaya.

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.

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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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