Female pharaoh Hatshepsut picture discovered


This 2017 video is called Hatshepsut: Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen.

From Swansea University in Wales:

Mysterious head of a pharaoh discovered by Swansea Egyptologist

March 23, 2018

Swansea University Egyptology lecturer Dr Ken Griffin has found a depiction of one of the most famous pharaohs in history Hatshepsut (one of only a handful of female pharaohs) on an object in the Egypt Centre stores, which had been chosen for an object handling session.

The opportunity to handle genuine Egyptian artefacts is provided by the Egypt Centre to students studying Egyptology at Swansea University.

This video is called Introduction to The Egypt Centre, Swansea.

During a recent handling session for an Egyptian Art and Architecture module Dr Kenneth Griffin, from the University’s Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology, noticed that one of the objects chosen was much more interesting than initially thought.

Consisting of two irregularly shaped limestone fragments that have been glued together, the object had been kept in storage for over twenty years and was requested for the handling session based only on an old black and white photograph.

The front side depicts the head of a figure whose face is unfortunately missing, with the remains of a fan directly behind. Traces of hieroglyphs are also present above the head. The iconography of the piece indicates that it represents a ruler of Egypt, particularly with the presence of the uraeus (cobra) on the forehead of the figure. Who is this mysterious pharaoh and where did the fragment originate from?

A search of the Egypt Centre records provides no information on the original provenance or find spot of the object. What is known is that it came to Swansea in 1971 as part of the distribution of objects belonging to Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), the pharmaceutical entrepreneur based in London. The fragments are less than 5cm thick and had clearly been removed from the wall of a temple or tomb, as can be seen from the cut marks on the back.

Having visited Egypt on over fifty occasions, Dr Griffin quickly recognised the iconography as being similar to reliefs within the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri (Luxor), which was constructed during the height of the New Kingdom. In particular, the treatment of the hair, the fillet headband with twisted uraeus, and the decoration of the fan are all well-known at Deir el-Bahri.

Most importantly, the hieroglyphs above the head — part of a formulaic text attested elsewhere at the temple — use a feminine pronoun, a clear indication that the figure is female.

Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty (c.1478-1458 BC) and one of only a handful of women to have held this position. Early in her reign she was represented as a female wearing a long dress, but she gradually took on more masculine traits, including being depicted with a beard. The reign of Hatshepsut was one of peace and prosperity, which allowed her to construct monuments throughout Egypt. Her memorial temple at Deir el-Bahri, built to celebrate and maintain her cult, is a masterpiece of Egyptian architecture.

Many fragments were taken from this site during the late nineteenth century, before the temple was excavated by the Egypt Exploration Fund (now Egypt Exploration Society) between 1902-1909. Since 1961 the Polish Archaeological Mission to Egypt has been excavating, restoring, and recording the temple.

Yet the mystery of the precious find doesn’t end there. On the rear of the upper fragment, the head of a man with a short beard is depicted. Initially there was no explanation for this, but it is now clear that the upper fragment had been removed and recarved in more recent times in order to complete the face of the lower fragment. The replacement of the fragment below the figure would also explain the unusual cut of the upper fragment. This was probably done by an antiques dealer, auctioneer, or even the previous owner of the piece in order to increase its value and attractiveness. It was eventually decided at an unknown date to glue the fragments together in the original layout, which is how they now appear.

While Deir el-Bahri seems the most likely provenance for this artefact, further research is needed in order to confirm this and it may even be possible to one day determine the exact spot the fragments originated from.

Given the importance of the object, the head of Hatshepsut has now been placed on display in a prominent position within the House of Life at the Egypt Centre so that the relief can be appreciated by visitors to the Centre.

Dr Griffin said: “The Egypt Centre is a wonderful resource and is certainly one of the major factors in attracting students to study Egyptology at Swansea University.”

“The identification of the object as depicting Hatshepsut caused great excitement amongst the students. After all, it was only through conducting handling sessions for them that this discovery came to light.”

“While most of the students have never visited Egypt before, the handling sessions help to bring Egypt to them.”

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Roman graves discovery in the Netherlands


This video from the Netherlands says about itself (translated):

Unique find: complete Roman grave field discovered

8 March 2018

In preparation for the extension of the A15 motorway from Ressen junction to the A12, the Dutch public works authority conducted archaeological research. During this research, they found in Bemmel a complete Roman grave field from the second and third centuries AD. It was excavated.

In total, the archaeologists have discovered 48 graves. There also found many luxurious grave gifts in the graveyard, such as crockery, tableware and personal belongings like mirrors, hair needles and a perfume bottle.

Read more here.

Archaeological discoveries in Egypt


This video says about itself:

30 August 2012

TUNA EL GEBEL is near Minya, was the necropolis of the city of Hermopolis, This zone was a place with special adoration to the god Thoth. It is best known for the sprawling catacombs at the foot of the western cliffs, where thousands of ibises and baboons (dedicated to Thoth) and other sacred animals were buried (also fish, pigs, dogs, cats, goats, falcons, larks, and kestrels, all mummified and placed into pottery jars).

From Associated Press:

Archaeologists find ancient necropolis in Egypt

February 24, 2018 6:43 AM PST

TUNA AL-GABAL, Egypt — Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced on Saturday the discovery of an ancient necropolis near the … city of Minya, south of Cairo, the latest discovery in an area known to house ancient catacombs from the Pharaonic Late Period and the Ptolemaic dynasty.

The large cemetery is located north of Tuna al-Gabal area, a vast archaeological site on the edge of the western desert. It hosts a range of family tombs and graves.

“We will need at least five years to work on the necropolis”, Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said, “This is only the beginning of a new discovery.”

Archaeologists started excavation work in the area started late last year on a quest to find the remainder of the cemetery of Upper Egypt’s 15th nome during ancient times. They found tombs belonging to priests of Thoth, the ancient god of the moon and wisdom.

One tomb includes more than 1,000 statues and four well preserved alabaster canopic jars inscribed with hieroglyphics and designed to hold the mummified internal organs of their owner who was a high priest of the god Thoth. The priest’s mummy was also found decorated with blue and red beads and bronze gilded sheets.

Archaeologists also uncovered 40 sarcophagi believed to belong to the priest’s family members, some bearing the names of their owners in hieroglyphics.

Another tomb includes several coffins, statues depicting ancient priests and other funerary artifacts.

Mostafa Waziri, head of the archaeological mission, says eight tombs have been uncovered so far and he expects more will be discovered soon.

In 2017, the ministry found a necropolis holding at least 17 mummies in the area of Tuna al-Gabal. The area is also known to include tombs, a funerary building and a large necropolis for thousands of mummified ibis and baboon…s, as well as other animals.

Taino ancestry in Puerto Rico, other islands


This video says about itself:

My Ancestry DNA Results! – (Puerto Rican)

1 January 2016

My Ancestry DNA results are finally in! Here they are from highest percentage to lowest:

Spanish/Portuguese – 27%
British – 26%
Native American – 20%
Middle Eastern – 7%
Nigerian 4%
North African – 3%
Senegalese – 3%
Italian – 3%

Trace regions under %1 are not listed.

From St John’s College, University of Cambridge in England:

Researchers have produced the first clear genetic evidence that the indigenous people whom Columbus first encountered in the New World still have living descendants today

February 19, 2018

Summary: A thousand-year-old tooth has provided the first clear genetic evidence that the Taíno — the indigenous people whom Columbus first encountered on arriving in the New World — still have living descendants today, despite erroneous claims in some historical narratives that these people are extinct. The findings are likely to have particular resonance for people in the Caribbean and the US who claim Taíno ancestry, but have until now been unable to prove definitively that such a thing is possible.

A thousand-year-old tooth has provided genetic evidence that the so-called “Taíno”, the first indigenous Americans to feel the full impact of European colonisation after Columbus arrived in the New World, still have living descendants in the Caribbean today.

Researchers were able to use the tooth of a woman found in a cave on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas to sequence the first complete ancient human genome from the Caribbean. The woman lived at some point between the 8th and 10th centuries, at least 500 years before Columbus made landfall in the Bahamas.

The results provide unprecedented insights into the genetic makeup of the Taíno — a label commonly used to describe the indigenous people of that region. This includes the first clear evidence that there has been some degree of continuity between the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and contemporary communities living in the region today.

Such a link had previously been suggested by other studies based on modern DNA. None of these, however, was able to draw on an ancient genome. The new research finally provides concrete proof that indigenous ancestry in the region has survived to the present day.

Comparing the ancient Bahamian genome to those of contemporary Puerto Ricans, the researchers found that they were more closely related to the ancient Taíno than any other indigenous group in the Americas. However, they argue that this characteristic is unlikely to be exclusive to Puerto Ricans alone and are convinced that future studies will reveal similar genetic legacies in other Caribbean communities.

The findings are likely to be especially significant for people in the Caribbean and elsewhere who have long claimed indigenous Taíno heritage, despite some historical narratives that inaccurately brand them “extinct.” Such misrepresentations have been heavily criticised by historians and archaeologists, as well as by descendant communities themselves, but until now they lacked clear genetic evidence to support their case.

The study was carried out by an international team of researchers led by Dr Hannes Schroeder and Professor Eske Willerslev within the framework of the ERC Synergy project NEXUS1492. The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Lead author Schroeder, from the University of Copenhagen who carried out the research as part of the NEXUS1492 project, said: “It’s a fascinating finding. Many history books will tell you that the indigenous population of the Caribbean was all but wiped out, but people who self-identify as Taíno have always argued for continuity. Now we know they were right all along: there has been some form of genetic continuity in the Caribbean.”

Willerslev, who has dual posts at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Copenhagen, said: “It has always been clear that people in the Caribbean have Native American ancestry, but because the region has such a complex history of migration, it was difficult to prove whether this was specifically indigenous to the Caribbean, until now.”

The researchers were also able to trace the genetic origins of the indigenous Caribbean islanders, showing that they were most closely related to Arawakan-speaking groups who live in parts of northern South America today. This suggests that the origins of at least some the people who migrated to the Caribbean can be traced back to the Amazon and Orinoco Basins, where the Arawakan languages developed.

The Caribbean was one of the last parts of the Americas to be populated by humans starting around 8,000 years ago. By the time of European colonization, the islands were a complex patchwork of different societies and cultures. The “Taíno” culture was dominant in the Greater, and parts of the Lesser Antilles, as well as the Bahamas, where the people were known as Lucayans.

To trace the genetic origins of the Lucayans the researchers compared the ancient Bahamian genome with previously published genome-wide datasets for over 40 present-day indigenous groups from the Americas. In addition, they looked for traces of indigenous Caribbean ancestry in present-day populations by comparing the ancient genome with those of 104 contemporary Puerto Ricans included in the 1000 Genomes Project. The 10-15% of Native American ancestry in this group was shown to be closely related to the ancient Bahamian genome.

Jorge Estevez, a Taíno descendant who works at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York and assisted the project team, said that as a boy growing up in the United States, he was told stories about his Taíno ancestors at home, but at school was taught that the same ancestors had died out. “I wish my grandmother were alive today so that I could confirm to her what she already knew,” he added. “It shows that the true story is one of assimilation, certainly, but not total extinction. I am genuinely grateful to the researchers. Although this may have been a matter of scientific inquiry for them, to us, the descendants, it is truly liberating and uplifting.”

Although indigenous Caribbean communities were island-based, the researchers found very little genomic evidence of isolation or inbreeding in the ancient genome. This reinforces earlier genetic research led by Willerslev, which suggests that early human communities developed surprisingly extensive social networks, long before the term had digital connotations. It also echoes ongoing work by researchers at the Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden and others indicating the connectedness of indigenous Caribbean communities.

Professor Corinne Hofman from Leiden University and PI of the NEXUS1492 project, said: “Archaeological evidence has always suggested that large numbers of people who settled the Caribbean originated in South America, and that they maintained social networks that extended far beyond the local scale. Historically, it has been difficult to back this up with ancient DNA because of poor preservation, but this study demonstrates that it is possible to obtain ancient genomes from the Caribbean and that opens up fascinating new possibilities for research.”

See also here. And here. And here.

Ancient camel sculptures discovered in Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia: High relief of standing dromedary on sandstone spur at center of image. Credit: © CNRS/MADAJ, R. Schwerdtner

From the CNRS in France:

Rock art: Life-sized sculptures of dromedaries found in Saudi Arabia

February 13, 2018

At a remarkable site in northwest Saudi Arabia, a CNRS archaeologist)1 and colleagues from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) have discovered camelid sculptures unlike any others in the region. They are thought to date back to the first centuries BC or AD.)2 The find sheds new light on the evolution of rock art in the Arabian Peninsula and is the subject of an article published in Antiquity (February 2018).

Located in the province of Al Jawf in northwest Saudi Arabia, Camel Site, as it is known, was explored in 2016 and 2017 by a Franco-Saudi research team. The sculptures, some incomplete, were executed on three rocky spurs there. Though natural erosion has partly destroyed some of the works, as well as any traces of tools, the researchers were able to identify a dozen or so reliefs of varying depths representing camelids and equids. The life-sized sculpted animals are depicted without harnessing in a natural setting. One scene in particular is unprecedented: it features a dromedary meeting a donkey, an animal rarely represented in rock art. Some of the works are thus thematically very distinct from the representations often found in this region. Technically, they also differ from those discovered at other Saudi sites — frequently simple engravings of dromedaries without relief — or the sculpted facades of Al Ḩijr (Madâ’in Şâliḩ). In addition, certain Camel Site sculptures on upper rock faces demonstrate indisputable technical skills. Camel Site can now be considered a major showcase of Saudi rock art in a region especially propitious for archaeological discovery.

Though the site is hard to date, comparison with a relief at Petra (Jordan) leads the researchers to believe the sculptures were completed in the first centuries BC or AD. Its desert setting and proximity to caravan routes suggest Camel Site — ill suited for permanent settlement — was a stopover where travelers could rest or a site of worship.

Notes:

[1] The archaeologist is a research engineer at the Orient et Méditerranée research unit (CNRS / Sorbonne University / University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne / EPHE / Collège de France). This project involves another researcher in France, from the TRACES research unit (CNRS / University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès / French Ministry of Culture and Communication).

[2] These discoveries were made within the scope of the Dumat al Jandal archaeological project, directed by researchers Guillaume Charloux (CNRS) and Romolo Loreto (University of Naples L’Orientale), and supported by the SCTH; the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Labex RESMED, part of the French Investissements d’Avenir program; and the French Center for Archaeology and Social Sciences (CEFAS).

Fortunately for the makers of these sculptures, some 2,000 years ago the present regime in Saudi Arabia was not in power.

As Saudi Arabia is not just the only country in the world practicing the death penalty by beheading.

As far as I know, it also is the only country where making snowmen, or snow camels (or snow turtles‘; or snow dinosaurs) is illegal.

Illegal snow camel in Saudi Arabia

Humans better at visual arts than Neanderthals. why?


This video says about itself:

CARTA: Evolutionary Origins of Art and Aesthetics: Art in Neanderthal and Paleolithic Cultures

Did our early ancestors produce art? Or do modern humans only think they did? In this episode of the CARTA series Evolutionary Origins of Art and Aesthetics, join renowned scientists Jean-Jacques Hublin and Randall White in an exploration of the notions of creativity and aesthetics as seen in Neanderthal and Paleolithic cultures. Series: CARTA – Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny [6/2009]

From the University of California – Davis in the USA:

Neanderthals‘ lack of drawing ability may relate to hunting techniques

Spear-throwing gave Homo sapiens better eye-hand coordination, smarter brains

February 9, 2018

Visual imagery used in drawing regulates arm movements in manner similar to how hunters visualize the arc of a spear. Neanderthals had large brains and made complex tools but never demonstrated the ability to draw recognizable images, unlike early modern humans who created vivid renderings of animals and other figures on rocks and cave walls. That artistic gap may be due to differences in the way they hunted, suggests a University of California, Davis, expert on predator-prey relations and their impacts on the evolution of behavior.

Neanderthals used thrusting spears to bring down tamer prey in Eurasia, while Homo sapiens, or modern humans, spent hundreds of thousands of years spear-hunting wary and dangerous game on the open grasslands of Africa.

Richard Coss, a professor emeritus of psychology, says the hand-eye coordination involved in both hunting with throwing spears and drawing representational art could be one factor explaining why modern humans became smarter than Neanderthals.

In an article recently published in the journal Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, Coss examines archaeological evidence, genomics, neuroscience studies, animal behavior and prehistoric cave art.

New theory of evolution

From this, he proposes a new theory for the evolution of the human brain: Homo sapiens developed rounder skulls and grew bigger parietal cortexes — the region of the brain that integrates visual imagery and motor coordination — because of an evolutionary arms race with increasingly wary prey.

Early humans hunted with throwing spears in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 500,000 years — leading their increasingly watchful prey to develop better flight or fight survival strategies, Coss said.

Some anthropologists have suggested that throwing spears from a safe distance made hunting large game less dangerous, he said. But until now, “No explanation has been given for why large animals, such as hippos and Cape buffalo, are so dangerous to humans”, he said. “Other nonthreatening species foraging near these animals do not trigger alert or aggressive behavior like humans do.”

Drawn from earlier research on zebras

Coss’ paper grew out of a 2015 study in which he and a former graduate student reported that zebras living near human settlements could not be approached as closely before fleeing as wild horses when they saw a human approaching on foot — staying just outside the effective range of poisoned arrows used by African hunters for at least 24,000 years.

Neanderthals, whose ancestors left Africa for Eurasia before modern human ancestors, used thrusting spears at close range to kill horses, reindeer, bison, and other large game that had not developed an innate wariness of humans, he said.

Hunting relates to drawing

“Neanderthals could mentally visualize previously seen animals from working memory, but they were unable to translate those mental images effectively into the coordinated hand-movement patterns required for drawing”, Coss writes.

Coss, who taught drawing classes early in his academic career and whose previous research focused on art and human evolution, used photos and film to study the strokes of charcoal drawings and engravings of animals made by human artists 28,000 to 32,000 years ago in the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France.

The visual imagery employed in drawing regulates arm movements in a manner similar to how hunters visualize the arc their spears must make to hit their animal targets, he concludes.

These drawings could have acted as teaching tools. “Since the act of drawing enhances observational skills, perhaps these drawings were useful for conceptualizing hunts, evaluating game attentiveness, selecting vulnerable body areas as targets, and fostering group cohesiveness via spiritual ceremonies”, he writes.

As a result, the advent of drawing may have set the stage for cultural changes, Coss said. “There are enormous social implications in this ability to share mental images with group members.”

Researchers have sequenced the genomes of five Neandertals that lived between 39,000 and 47,000 years ago. These late Neandertals are all more closely related to the Neandertals that contributed DNA to modern human ancestors than an older Neandertal from the Altai Mountains that was previously sequenced. Their genomes also provide evidence for a turnover in the Neandertal population towards the end of Neandertal history: here.

Anthropologists have provided new insights on one of the most famous Neanderthal skeletons, discovered over 100 years ago: La Ferrassie 1: here.

Britons’ ancestors were black-skinned blue-eyed


There are many pro-peace songs. Like one written by Pete Seeger, sung by Marlene Dietrich. Here is a music video, from Britain, by The Equals – Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys. Written by Eddy Grant, from Guyana.

The lyrics are:

Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

People: white is white
What’s black ain’t clover

Together we’ll be
When the war is over.
You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

They ain’t gonna fight no wars
Oh no.

Cool is school
But the teachers beat yer

When they see
That they can’t reach yer.

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys
They ain’t gonna fight no wars
Oh no.

They ain’t got no country
They ain’t got no creed
People won’t be black or white
The world will be half-breed.
The world will be half-breed.
The world will be half-breed.

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys
they ain’t gonna fight no doggone wars.

They ain’t got no country…
It’s a brand new day
With brand new people
In one big world
We’re just one people.
You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

They ain’t gonna fight no wars. Oh
no.
Baby
you know that we hate fighting.

Recent research about people in Europe, more especially Spain, in the Mesolithic age, ten thousands of years after their ancestors had immigrated from Africa, shows they had blue eyes but ‘the dark skins of Africans’.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Cheddar Man: First modern Briton had ‘dark to black’ skin, DNA research reveals

Groundbreaking new analysis of 10,000-year-old remains shows man had darker complexion than previously thought, along with blue eyes and dark, curly hair

Chris Baynes

A full facial reconstruction model of Cheddar Man's head, based on the skull Britain's oldest complete skeleton. PA

The first modern Briton had “dark to black” skin, groundbreaking new analysis of his 10,000-year-old remains has revealed.

Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, known as Cheddar Man, was unearthed more than a century ago in Gough’s Cave in Somerset.

But an unprecedented examination of his DNA, along with a facial reconstruction of the fossil, shows the young man would have had a darker complexion than previously thought, along with blue eyes and dark, curly hair.

Research by evolution and DNA specialists at the Natural History Museum and University College London suggests the pigmentation associated with northern European ancestry is a more recent development.

The research and remodelling process was documented for Channel 4 programme The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man.

Professor Ian Barnes, research leader at the Natural History Museum, said at a screening of the documentary: “For me, it’s not just the skin colour that’s interesting, it’s that combination of features that make him look not like anyone that you’d see today.

“Not just dark skin and blue eyes, because you can get that combination, but also the face shape. So all of this combines together and make him just not the same as people you see around today.”

Researchers Professor Barnes and Dr Selina Brace extracted DNA data from bone powder by drilling a 2mm hole through the skull’s inner ear bone.

They scanned the skull and a 3D model was produced by “paleo artists” Alfons and Adrie Kennis, who make life-like reconstructions of extinct mammals and early humans.

The twins, who have created reconstructions for museums around the world and usually create models of Neanderthals, spent three months working on Cheddar Man.

“It’s really nice to make a more graceful man, not a heavy-browed Neanderthal,” said Alfons. “So we were very excited that it was a guy from after the Ice Age. We were very interested in what kind of human he was.

“With the new DNA information it was really revolutionary. And it allowed us to look more at race, this revealed stuff that we’d never had known before.”

Cheddar Man, thought to have died in his twenties and have had a relatively good diet, lived in Britain when it was almost completely depopulated about 300 generations ago.

Although previous populations had settled in Britain long before his arrival, they were wiped out before him and he marked the start of continuous habitation on the island.

Genetically, he belonged to a group of people known as the “Western Hunter-Gatherers”, Mesolithic-era individuals from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg.

His ancestors migrated to Europe from the Middle East after the Ice Age. Britain has been inhabited ever since and today about 10 per cent of White British people are descended from the group.

Alfons said: “People define themselves by which country they’re from, and they assume that their ancestors were just like them. And then suddenly new research shows that we used to be a totally different people with a different genetic makeup.

“People will be surprised, and maybe it will make immigrants feel a bit more involved in the story. And maybe it gets rid of the idea that you have to look a certain way to be from somewhere. We are all immigrants.”

The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man airs on Channel 4 on Sunday, 18 February.

From daily The Guardian in Britain today on this:

“It really shows up that these imaginary racial categories that we have are really very modern constructions, or very recent constructions, that really are not applicable to the past at all.”

Cheddar Man: Discovery first modern Briton had dark skin is reminder ‘we are all from Africa’, expert says. ‘It just challenges this idea we have that certain people belong to certain places – that Britons are Britons are Britons’: here.