Morocco -- and indeed, all of northern Africa -- used to be considered part of the European cultural world. The region, then called Mauretania, was colonized by Phoenicians, then Phoenicia's descendent Carthage. After the Punic Wars there were a number of independent kingdoms in the region. They were weak, and the later ones were client-kings for Rome. Mauretania was eventually officially annexed by the Roman Empire in 46 CE and made a province. The region was conquered by the Vandals in the 400s CE, along with Spain. The whole time, Mauretania and its Berber tribes were considered the very edge of European culture, but European nonetheless.
It was the Arabic Empire that changed the cultural makeup of Morocco. The region was conquered by Muslim Arabs around 685 CE and incorporated into the new Umayyad Caliphate, ruled from Damascus. Its native Berber tribes slowly converted to Islam. Ever since, the country has been considered part of the wider Middle East sphere.
This arch and the attached façade are the only remains of the once-great metropolis of Ctesiphon. Perched on the banks of the Tigris River, for eight hundred years, Ctesiphon reigned as the capital of first the Parthian and then the Sassanian Empire. But the city quickly declined after the Arabic conquests in the mid-600s CE, and was completely abandoned by the 700s. As new empires rose and fell, and the world moved on, Ctesiphon slowly crumbled into the desert.
Beowulf talks a lot about gold rings. It was so important that rings inspired a smash hit Wagner opera in the 1800s which in turn inspired JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Many gold neck and arm rings have been found in Scandanavia dating between 300 and 550 BCE. But after that? No rings. Furthermore, no such rings have been found in Anglo-Saxon England during the right time period: from 550 CE till the late Viking period, the last possible dating for Beowulf.
What does this all mean? It is archaeological evidence that Beowulf, the Old English epic, was first told in Scandinavia and somehow made its way to England.
Intriguing Cluster of Ancient Chinese Tombs Discovered
A cluster of 12 tombs estimated to be more than 1,500 years old has been discovered in northern China. The tombs are thought to date to the Sixteen Kingdoms period (304 to 439 CE). The tombs each had a passage, a door, and a path leading to the coffin chamber, and were arranged in two rows, perhaps because the occupants belonged to a single extended family. Genetic testing may be conducted to confirm that hypothesis.
What makes the finds particularly exciting are the never-before-seen burial customs. Some had a small pit in one corner of the coffin chamber, filled with stones. Some of the tombs' occupants had their feet held down by square stones. Figurines of warriors, servants, and animals made of pottery, and mirrors, stamps, hair clasps, pins, bracelets, bells, and coins made of bronze were also found in the tombs, all artifacts which have been found in other Chinese tombs, so a little less exciting.
The ancient Greeks and Romans thought giraffes were an unnatural offspring of a camel and a leopard. Due to the animal's camel-like shape and leopard-like spots. The camel's Latin name is pretty simple: "camelopardalis." Which is how the camel's scientific name came to be "Giraffa camelopardalis."
Archaeologists Very Excited to Discover Ugly, Late-Roman Statues in Israel
The two statues' discovery, in late 2018, is important for understanding late Roman period style. It's a particularly difficult style to study, as no two statues from this time period resemble each other. One appears to be a man with a beard. Both are made of local limestone and have distinctive hair and clothing features. Researchers think they are intended to look like a deceased person, like similar statues, which were usually placed in or near burial caves.
Between 300 BCE and 300 CE, prehistoric Japanese people buried their dead in jars. The pottery jars would vary in size, and the quality of grave goods placed in or around the jars would denote upper- from lower-class citizens. Older burials are deeper (which makes sense) and newer burials are closer to the surface.
Gold was probably the first metal to be exploited in the Andes, by the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. From there, the archaeological record suggests goldworking then traveled north, reaching Central America in the first centuries CE, and Mexico by about 1000 CE.
This particular necklace is from the Chavin Civilization, which developed in the northern Andean highlands of Peru from about 900 BCE to about 200 BCE. That sounds old, but relatively speaking, that is not old at all. Gold had already been mined and worked in the Andes for a thousand years when the Chavin arrived on the scene.
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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!