Intriguing Ritual Burial Found From Pre-Classic Mexico
Found in southern Mexico City, it is a burial unlike any other we know of. Ten interlocking skeletons of various ages and genders were laid to rest, arranged in a spiral shape. Some hold ceramic spheres and stones in their hands and the grave also contains various sizes of ceramic vessels, that presumably once contained grave goods. It is the largest single burial from the Valley of Mexico.
Laid to rest in a pit about 6 feet (2 meters) wide, they were most likely interred at the same time, sometimes between 500 and 400 BCE. Archaeologists think they were buried at the same time because the arms of one person were placed under the spine of another, suggesting they were deliberately arranged. Plus, that spiral.
So far, three of the ten remains have been sexed: two women, one man. There also appears to be a range of ages. While most on first analysis are young adults, there is at least one more mature adult, a child between 3 and 5 years old, and an infant just a few months old. Some of the skeletons, though not all, also show cranial deformations and dental mutilations, which are known to have been practiced in other Mesoamerican cultures including the Maya and Inca.
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.
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 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.
Hathor was one of the most commonly worshiped goddesses in ancient Egypt. She was primarily a mother goddess, and was often considered the mother of the pharaoh. But she had other aspects, too: she helped women to conceive, she helped mothers survive childbirth, she welcomed the deceased into the Afterlife, she was even "Mistress of Foreign Lands" meaning that as soon as an ancient Egyptian left their homeland, they were in Hathor's territory. Did I mention Hathor was the goddess of music, dance, and sexual love, too? Really, with so much influence over so much of ancient Egyptian life, it is no surprise that Hathor was one of the most long-lived deities.
As early as the Fourth Dynasty (2613 - 2494 BCE), there is written and archaeological evidence of temples dedicated to Hathor. She was also revered in the New Kingdom, and Hatshepsut (1473 - 1458 BCE) dedicated a small shrine in her mortuary temple to Hathor. She remained popular even when Greek pharaohs ruled Egypt. The great temple at Dendera was built in her honor under the Ptolemies.
The Turkish national flag is mostly red, with a white star and a crescent in the center. Ottoman Sultan Selim III formalized the look in 1793, but the flag is actually much older.
The crescent-and-star combination has been used in Turkey since Hellenistic times (400s to 100 BCE). It likely came from ancient Mesopotamian iconocraphy. Ancient depictions of the symbol always show the crescent with horns pointing upward and with the star placed inside the crescent, for reasons that have been lost to time. When it came to Turkey, they gave it their own meanings. For Byzantium the moon symbolized Diana, also known as Artemis, the patron goddess of the city.
In 1453, when the city was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, the flag remained unchanged. With time, it became not just Istanbul’s flag but the Ottoman flag, with its design formalized in 1793 and its status as national flag formalized in 1844. Turks affectionately call the flag "ay yildiz" -- the "moon star" flag.
Many nations that were once part of Ottoman Empire adopted the star-and-crescent when they gained independence, including Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. In the 1900s the symbol became associated with not just the Ottomans, but with Islam in general, and many states that were never part of the Ottoman Empire adopted it too, including Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Maldives. Pretty amazing that an ancient Mesopotamian symbol is flown around the world today.
"Succession of the Plebians" was a common form of revolt in the early Roman Republic. Everyone except the hereditary aristocrats (called patricians) would leave the city. The patricians would be left to fend for themselves. No servants, no shopkeepers, no farmers. It was a very effective way to make the patricians negotiate.
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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!