The hardy evergreen trees of the Araucaria genus live in Australia and South America. And recently, an archaeologist teamed up with a group of ecologists discovered that the tree family has a long and intimate relationship with humans, dating back some 1,400 years.
Studying carbon isotopes at archaeological sites in southern Brazil, the archaeologists found that Araucaria forests first began to expand well beyond their natural habitat at the same time as the ancestors of today's indigenous peoples experienced a population expansion. They found no environmental explanation for the Araucaria's territorial expansion. So they concluded that ancient forestry practices were the most likely culprit.
Today, the Araucaria remain a critical source of timber, fuel, and edible seeds for indigenous peoples in Brazil. And they play a central role in indigenous ways of viewing of the world. Araucaria trees are often considered the embodiment of ancestors. Unfortunately, there has been a 95% reduction of the range of Araucaria species due to modern logging. The genus is now considered endangered.
Cemetery, In Use For Thousands of Years, Excavated in Albania
An ancient cemetery containing layers of about 1,000 burials dating back to the Iron Age has been found in southeastern Albania. The cemetery was actually three cemeteries: one from the Iron Age, one late Roman, and one from the Middle Ages. And under the bottom layer of the cemetery were what appears to be a Neolithic settlement. Archaeologists found holes in the ground, which supported the now-rotted wooden skeletons of small huts.
The Cruel Chinese Emperor Who Became A Cannibal When Drunk
Sun Hao ruled as emperor of Eastern Wu from 264-280 CE as “the number one tyrant of that era.” The last Eastern Wu emperor during the Three Kingdoms period, his reign ended the kingdom. Sun Hao was poor at administration, cruel, and generally unfit to rule a village. Among other vices he was often drunk and, like many heavy drinkers, liked others to get drunk with him too.
At one banquet, Sun Hao became angry because one of his counselors pretended to be drunker than he was. Sun Hao became so angry that had the poor man beheaded on the spot. Sun Hao then ordered his guards to toss the head from one man to the next, each taking a bite until the flesh was stripped down to the skull.
This beautiful Corinthian helmet was found in the burial of several Greek warriors on the Taman Peninsula. Dating to the 400s BCE, it completely covers the head and neck. It is extremely rare to find one in modern excavations. This style of helmet is mostly known from ancient statues, like those of Athena or the statesman Pericles.
The warriors likely fought for the Bosporan Kingdom, a Greek state founded around 480 BCE, that included the Taman Peninsula and parts of Crimea. An archaeologist working on the site speculated that the warriors died together in the same battle. Perhaps fighting nearby nomadic tribes? But they were remembered not just as warriors -- one of the men was buried with his harp.
The word “beer” is thought to be derived from the Latin "bibere," which means “to drink.” However, there is a competing theory: that “beer” comes from the proto-Germanic word "beuwoz," meaning “barley.”
An international team of archaeologists has excavated a tomb dating to the 100s CE in Jordan at the ancient site of Capitolias. The tomb has two rooms and a large basalt sarcophagus. It appears to have been robbed at some point before coming to the attention of archaeologists, unfortunately.
But the tomb is notable not for what they found inside it, but what they found on it: an amazing number and variety of murals. There is a large painting illustrating the construction of a rampart along with 60 inscriptions describing what the figures in the painting were doing. (Incidentally, this may be the earliest example of comics in Jordan.) The rest of the walls are decorated with more than 250 figures of humans, animals, and gods, in various mythological and everyday scenes. Taken all together, the artwork is thought to describe the founding of the city. Capitolias began in the late 1st century CE by the Roman Empire.
The birthplace of plant domestication in the Americas. The first New World country to gain independence from the Spanish Empire. The eleventh-largest country in the world, by population. Like the United States, Russia, and China, this is a country that any informed citizen should have at least a basic knowledge about.
A common fear in early Rome was that the city would be destroyed in the year 120 AUC (ab urbe condita) which is 634 BCE by the Gregorian calendar. This fear was based on the city's founding myth: Romulus, one of the twins who founded the city, saw 12 birds fly above the city's original site. Each bird was thought to represent a decade of Rome's lifetime. When 634 BCE came and went, and Rome was still standing, the fear was transmuted to the city falling after 1,200 years. Much less scary.
Two trophy heads are strung on the cords that criss-cross this Mexican man’s chest. His horned headdress suggests that he is a shaman or ruler, as both wore similar headdresses in his culture. Shamans were respected not just for their abilities to communicate with the spiritual world but also for their prowess as great warriors. And this man is showing, with his two trophy heads, that he was to be feared. Of course, rulers wanted to show their military prowess as well. So the trophy heads do not settle the question of shaman vs ruler.
During shamanistic rituals, religious men would drink hallucinogenic beverages. Perhaps to help them communicate with the world beyond? The cup this figure is drinking from really makes the argument that this was a shaman, not a ruler.
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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!