The remains of a 1,200-year-old pagan temple to the Old Norse gods has been discovered in Norway's seaside town of Ose. It is the first such temple found in the country. Though we know what the building was, based on surviving temples in Denmark and Sweden. The wooden building is large for the time, about 45 feet (14 meters) long, 26 feet (8 m) wide, and up to 40 feet (12 m) high. Archaeologists think it was built sometime in the 700s, and would have been the site of sacrifices (and more mundane religious observances) during the midsummer and midwinter solstices.
The Norse began building these large "god houses" in the 500s CE. They replaced simpler cult sites, often outdoors, that had previously sufficed for worship. Larger god houses became popular as Norse society became more stratified and dominated by wealthy families, who are thought to have built god houses as part of their taking control of the cults of the gods.
The Old Norse religion was suppressed from the 1000s, when Norway's kings forcibly imposed the Christian religion, and destroyed God Houses to enforce worship in the new Christian churches. Perhaps including the one at Ose. (The one above is a reconstruction, the real site has only the foundations remaining.)
Voluume 5 of the Lunyu Yishu, a commentary of the Analects which was compiled by the Confucian scholar Huang Kan from the Liang Dynasty (502-557 CE). This particular copy is the oldest piece of Confucian literature found in Japan. It was discovered in an antique bookstore by Keio University in 2017.
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.
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.
North-western Syria has about seven hundred "Dead Cities" or "Forgotten Cities." They include villages, towns, and some cities that were mainly abandoned between the 700s and 900s CE. Because they rest in an elevated area of limestone known as the Limestone Massif, which gets relatively little rain, the settlements are more or less still at surface level and well-preserved. There are three main groups of highlands on the Massif, each with their own Dead Cities. They provide us with insight into what life was like for prosperous agriculturalists in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period.
The Dead Cities became a massive UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, although they have been largely inaccessible since 2013.
Using photogrammetry and light cast from different angles, researchers have been recording and attempting to read eroded glyphs at the Maya city of Coba. The city once flourished in the northern lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula. After ten years of work, the researchers have identified the names of 14 rulers who governed the city from about 500 to 780 CE. This allows modern researchers to begin reconstructing a political timeline of the city. When was it powerful? When did it fight other cities? For instance the glyphs document a Lady Yopaat, who is thought to have increased the power and influence of the city during her 40-year reign in the early 600s.
Local people discovered a collection of rock carvings on top of the Cerro de Peña, a mountain in central Mexico. In total archaeologists found two etched stone panels and a number of smaller carved stones. The carvings cover 87 glyphs, a male human figure with horns and a loincloth, a female figure resembling a bat, an iguana, and an eagle. The carvings are thought to be Zapotec who lived in the area starting 2,500 years ago. They were known to use glyphs and had a sophisticated architectural style.
The use of paper as toilet paper was common in China at least by the late 500s CE. In 589 CE the scholar-official Yan Zhitui (531–591 CE) wrote about the use of toilet paper: "Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from the Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes." Since Yan does not feel the need to explain “toilet purposes” he assumes the reader knows and uses toilet paper, too.
At 1,200 square meters, it is believed to be the largest single-piece ground mosaic today. Archaeologists uncovered it after the mosaic was discovered where a hotel was to be constructed. Based on its size and location, it is theorized that the mosaic once covered a public space, such as a town square.
This UNESCO world heritage site is not one but a series of over fifty Buddhist temple! They were carved in the 400s and 500s CE, first under the Northern Wei dynasty's patronage which made a nearby city its capital, then under private patronage after the capital was moved away.
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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!