The Saffron Goddess

This is a restored Minoan fresco, from the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotini on the Greek island of Santorini. The settlement was destroyed in the Theran eruption sometime in the 1500s BCE and buried in volcanic ash, which preserved the remains of fine frescoes as well as many everyday objects.

Uatchitodon, the earliest known venomous reptile, lived about 200 million years ago. Its existence is known only from its surviving teeth.

Geologists Have A Missing Time Problem?

"The Great Unconformity" is the technical term for where layers of rock suddenly jump in time - skipping about a billion years forward. The good news is, researchers may have solved what's going on!

Sailing Is Extremely Old

Archaeological evidence from the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, in modern Ukraine, shows they were sailing by 6000 BCE. In Mesopotamia around the same time, the Ubaid were also using sailing technology. To understand how impressively old that is: wheels were invented 1,500 years later, around 3,500 BCE.

Did You Know Australia Has A Mountain Range of Death?

It is called the "Great Dividing Range" and it is the largest mountain range on the continent. But why are mountains deadly?

Archaeological evidence suggests the wheel was invented in Mesopotamia around 4500 BCE. But about 300 years, it was used for making household implements, not transportation.

When the wheel was put on a vehicle, it was only for war, not cargo. With heavy, cumbersome wooden wheels they were perfect for driving through - or over - enemy soldiers. Lack of good roads delayed the wheel’s civilian usage for a couple more centuries.

The Mystery Mummy Head - Solved!

In 1915, American archaeologists working at the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Deir el-Bersha were surprised to blast into a limestone tomb, and be greeted by a mummy's head perched on a cedar coffin. The room, labeled Tomb 10A, turned out to be the final resting place for a governor named Djehutynakht and his wife. At some point in their 4,000 years of slumber, graverobbers broke in and ransacked the tomb. All their precious objects and jewelry were taken. But the heavy coffin, the head, and its limbless torso were left for the surprised archaeologists to find thousands of years later.

A recent DNA analysis of the head, with help from the FBI, revealed the head belonged to Djehutynakht himself. The analysis was done based on DNA extracted from a molar. Besides solving a hundred-year-old mystery, this is one of the first times viable DNA has been recovered from an ancient Egyptian mummy!

How Old Are Sea Turtles?

The earliest known sea turtle fossils are about 120 million years old. That means they just make it into the Cretaceous Period (which began about 145 million years ago). Sea turtles co-existed with tyrannosauruses and triceratops!

Ancient Empire Had Inflatable Life Vests?

Sort of! The Assyrian Empire, famous for its military prowess, apparently used inflatable sheep or goatskins to help its soldiers cross rivers. A different interpretation is that he is using a sort-of scuba device -- see the piece of the inflated skin that reaches up to the soldier's lips. Circa 700s - 600s BCE.

High-Status Celtic Woman's Burial Demonstrates Horses' Importance During Iron Age

The Bettelbühl necropolis, found in southern Germany, probably served a nearby, well-known Iron Age Celtic settlement on the Heuneburg. About 1.5 miles (2.5 km) away from the settlement, the name is a hint as to why the site was chosen as a resting place for the dead: "bettel" means "bad soil." Ironically, six of the seven hills of the necropolis have been flattened over time for agriculture. The necropolis was rediscovered in 2000.

A 2010 archaeological dig uncovered a four-by-five-meter chamber funeral grave, dating to the 500s BCE, the final resting place of a very high-status woman. Two female skeletons were found within, one very richly decorated, the other with only a bronze arm ring. It is still unclear whether it is a companion of the princess/priestess/queen or a later burial. The higher-status woman died somewhere between age 30 and 40. She was accompanied in her journey into the afterlife by a wealth of wonderfully crafted jewelry of gold, bronze, amber, glass and other materials.

She was also buried with an amazing example of horse armor: a beautifully crafted and preserved bronze mask. The image is a reconstruction of the mask, pre-burial. The horse mask is a demonstration of the level of artistic sophistication achieved by Celts during the Iron Age.

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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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