A new rock-cut chamber tomb has been found in central Greece, near the city of Orchomenos, which was the most important center in the region during the Mycenaean period. Uncovered in a cemetery filled with similar tombs, the new discovery is distinguished by its size: at 452 square feet (42 square meters) it is the 9th largest Mycenaean tomb every excavated. And more than 4,000 Mycenaean tombs have been excavated since 1850!
What is inside this large tomb is also surprising. Contemporary tombs usually house multiple burials, but this tomb has just one. And the artifacts are unusual, too. Tombs from this time period, heck the other Mycenaean tombs in that cemetery, always have painted pottery, yet this burial has very little. In contrast, it has a lot of jewelry, which was previously considered to be for female burials only. This new find is raising a lot of questions about its occupant, and the Mycenaean society where they lived and died.
Ancient Greek Burials Yield Evidence of Ancient Intestinal Worms
Some 2,500 years ago, the Greek doctor Hippocrates described infestations of parasitic worms in his patients. Modern scholars suspected he was referring to roundworms, pinworms, and tapeworms, but had not been able to confirm the diagnoses. Until now. A recent study led by the University of Cambridge analyzed the soil near the pelvic bones in 25 skeletons found on the Greek island of Kea, to recover traces of parasites that may have been housed in the individual's digestive tracts while they were alive. The study detected and identified roundworm and whipworm eggs in four of the burials! Unlike usual, finding parasitic worms is actually a good thing! The researchers noted that the eggs of those two parasites have robust, protective outer membranes, whereas the more delicate outer membranes of other parasitic worm species likely decomposed over time, and would be unrecoverable by now.
Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses has been a site of peaceful protests since 1831, when indigenous peasants began to stage rebellions against their Russian overlords. Even when they lacked bodies to bury they erected crosses on the 33-foot mound as memorials and as symbols of peaceful resistance. The region was freed after World War I but then captured by the Nazis and later incorporated into the U.S.S.R.; again the local population planted crosses of defiance, though they were mown down three times by Soviet bulldozers. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the hill has become an important symbol of political and spiritual self-determination. It now bears an estimated 100,000 crosses.
From an archaeological point of view, Choirokoitia, Cyprus, is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. Built around 6,000 BCE they were likely the first people to inhabit Cyprus, descendants of farmers who came from the Middle East in the 7,000s BCE, who brought agricultural skills to their new island home. Over time, they would have lost their cultural connections with the homeland and developed into a unique civilization. Evidence from the archaeological work at Choirokoitia shows that they had tools made from bone and flint, stone vessels and even simple figurines of deities.
Choirokoitia's residents also had ... interesting ... mortuary practices, archaeology has uncovered. They buried their dead in their houses. Family members who had passed on were placed under the floor of the home they had once lived in. If you needed evidence that Cyprus developed its own, unique prehistoric culture, there you go -- family under the floor is definitely different than the mainland culture that the earliest Cypriots came from!
Want To Impress A Lover? Pig Testicles Will Do The Trick!
Boiled catnip and dried ground pig testicles mixed with wine were among the recipes recommended to fix male infertility during the Medieval Period, an academic in England has discovered. Based on English and Latin texts from the period, the new research also shows that women were not always blamed for infertility, as has previously been thought.
Located on a narrow strip of land between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains in the far western end of Eurasia, is the city of Derbent. With a history going back by five thousand years, Derbent is said to be Russia’s oldest city. It is also the southernmost city in Russia. Derbent’s position between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus mountains is strategically important in the entire Caucasus region. It is one of only two crossings over the mountain range; the other being over the Darial Gorge. This position has allowed the rulers of Derbent to control land traffic between the Eurasian Steppe and the Middle East and levy taxes on passing merchants. In fact, the city’s present-day name comes from the Persian word Darband which means “barred gate”.
Being at such a strategic location, it has long been a target, or a prize, of states with imperial ambitions. The city was historically an Iranian city, and its first intensive settlement in the 800s BCE was Persian. The city’s modern name came into use during the 500s CE, when the city was re-established by the Sassanid dynasty of Persia. In 654 CE, Derbent came under the hands of the Arabs. They called the city Bab al-Abwab, or “the Gate of Gates”, signifying its strategic importance. The Arabs transformed the city into an important administrative center and introduced Islam to the area. After the Arabs, the region came under the Armenians who established a kingdom there which lasted until the Mongol invasion in the early 1200s. After the Mongols, Derbent changed hands relatively quickly, given its history, coming under the rule of the Shirvanshahs (a dynasty in modern Azerbaijan), the Iranians and the Ottomans before finally being ceded to the Russian Empire as part of the end of the Russo-Persian War.
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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!