Because the Huns did not have a written language, there are many things unknown about the group that pushed out of the Eurasian Steppe in the 400s CE and functionally ended the Western Roman Empire.  What we know was written by outsiders about the Huns. And often the sources are decades or even centuries later.

Lost Maya Capital Found In Mexico

Researchers have recently uncovered a Maya site in southeastern Mexico that may have been the capital of Sak Tz’i’, a kingdom mentioned in inscriptions uncovered at other Maya sites, and looted artifacts which turn up on the market. Such clues were used in the early 2000s to model the hypothetical boundaries of Sak Tz'i' territory and the likely location of its capital. And recent archaeological work involving locals and building on the model has found a site filled with Sak Tz'i' monuments.

Translated as “white dog,” Sak Tz’i’ was a small state founded in 750 BCE and surrounded by more powerful states. The city was protected on one side by steep-walled streams, while masonry walls were built around the rest of the site. But these defenses were likely insufficient. So the researchers suspect the city’s leaders must have engaged in political maneuverings with the kingdom’s stronger neighbors in order to survive for more than 1,000 years.

The team members have found evidence of pyramids, a royal palace, a ball court, sculptures, and inscriptions describing rituals, battles, a mythical water serpent, and the dance of a rain god. Current archaeological work focuses on stabilizing and mapping the site.

Greco-Buddhist Sculpture "Thinking Bodhisattva"

Looking at the sculpture, what aspects make it Buddhist? Greek? Gandharan, under the syncretic Kushan Empire. From Afghanistan's Hadda region, circa 300 - 500 CE.

What Did Paradise Look Like To The Teotihuacan?

The Tepantitla Compound inside the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan, is decorated with a number of murals that provide a fascinating insight into how the Teotihuacano believed the world worked and how it had to be maintained. Teotihuacan thrived between 250 and 550 CE. They had a complex society capable of maintaining a city and an artistic culture. Mural 3, typically known as the “Paradise of Tlaloc”, shows normal people in everyday clothes are going about their daily lives, playing games and picking flowers. In the middle of the mural is a mountain. It is covered with water, holding fish and swimming people, and which flows into the rivers and canals and irrigates the crops that are being sowed and reaped. But this is not a human paradise.

The people are actually being "fed" to the mountain. From the top of the mountain you can see a train of people falling inside it, then their blood flows down and transforms into the life giving waters. Another interesting note is that the human figures are in three colors: red, yellow and blue. These different colors presumably represent different classes or castes. When you look at the mountain, all three colors are being fed to produce water. There was no class distinction in who was sacrificed.

The notion of feeding the gods was commonplace in Mesoamerica. We all know about Aztec ritual sacrifices to keep the sun rising. What makes the scenes of Tepantitla unusual is that the mural portrays everyday people, warriors, and priests making the offerings. Other Mesoamerican cultures would have only a Divine Ruler making the sacrifices, able to communicate with the gods. Teotihuacanos were apparently more egalitarian in who got to kill others to appease the gods.

Skeleton Analyses in Mongolia Suggest Millet Increasingly Part of Their Ancient and Medieval Diet

An international team of researchers examined the ratios of stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes in collagen and dental enamel samples obtained from the remains of some 130 individuals who were buried in Mongolia between 4500 BCE and 1300 CE. The analysis suggests that during the Bronze Age, the Mongolian diet was based on milk and meat and supplemented with local plants. From about the 200s BCE to the late first century CE, during the Xiongnu Empire, some people continued to eat the Bronze Age animal-based diet, while those living in political centers began to eat more millet-based diets. Grain consumption and thus the practice of agriculture appears to have continued to increase into the period of the Mongolian Empire of the Khans. Empires based in Mongolia thus presided over a mixed population of both pastoralists and farmers. Their varied food strategies gave the empires strength in diversity.

All Hail The Butterfly God

A Zapotec figural ceramic of the Butterfly God found at Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico. 200 - 600 CE.

An Unusual Roman Trial in Turkey

In autumn of 284 CE, the Roman army returned home after a successful campaign against the Persian Empire. Unfortunately, their emperor Carus had died while the army was returning west. The army was now led by Carus' son, Numerian. But Numerian was mysteriously missing. His attendants claimed he had an eye infection which he had to protect "from the wind and sun." But the soldiers became suspicious, especially when an increasingly strong smell was coming from the coach supposedly carrying Numerian. When the army reached Nicomedia on November 20th it all came out. Numerian was found dead, and some said he was murdered, possibly by his own father-in-law Aper!

The soldiers "fell upon Aper, whose treachery could no longer be hidden, and they dragged him before the standards in front of the general's tent" the Historia Augusta tells us. The army assembled and a tribunal was held. By this point, the man proclaimed by the army was almost certain to be the emperor. So the army was deciding two questions: who could avenge Numerian, and whoever that was, could they be given the empire as a good emperor?

The solution was a 40-year-old officer from Dalmatia, Diocletian. He was already prominent, having commanded Numerian's household troops. After the tribunal was over, Diocletian stepped forward, and drew his sword. History tells us he then pointed at Aper and proclaimed loudly enough for the troops to hear "It is he who contrived Numerian's death!" Diocletian then sunk his sword into Aper's chest. Diocletian's reign marked teh end of the Crisis of the Third Century, stabilizing the empire after he defeated Carus' other son Carinus.

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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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