Ancient Egyptian high priest’s tomb discovered


This 15 December 2018 video says about itself:

Archaeologists in Egypt have made an exciting tomb discovery – the final resting place of a high priest, untouched for 4,400 years.

From the BBC today, with photos there:

Egypt tomb: Saqqara ‘one of a kind’ discovery revealed

Archaeologists in Egypt have made an exciting tomb discovery – the final resting place of a high priest, untouched for 4,400 years.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, described the find as “one of a kind in the last decades”.

The tomb, found in the Saqqara pyramid complex near Cairo, is filled with colourful hieroglyphs and statues of pharaohs. Decorative scenes show the owner, a royal priest named Wahtye, with his mother, wife and other relatives.

Archaeologists will start excavating the tomb on 16 December, and expect more discoveries to follow – including the owner’s sarcophagus.

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Africa cradle of humankind, where in Africa?


This 15 November 2016 video says about itself:

Ain El Hanech (North Eastern Algeria)

The Algerian famous archeological site. Although there is uncertainty about some factors, Aïn el-Hanech (in Algeria) is the site of one of the earliest traces of hominid occupation.

From the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) in Spain:

The whole of Africa was the cradle of humankind

Oldest stone artifacts and cutmarked bones in North Africa contemporary with archaeological materials in East Africa

November 29, 2018

A team of scientists led by Mohamed Sahnouni, archaeologist at the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), has just published a paper in the journal Science which breaks with the paradigm that the cradle of humankind lies in East Africa, based on the archaeological remains found at sites in the region of Ain Hanech (Algeria), the oldest currently known in the north of Africa.

For a long time, East Africa has been considered the place of origin of the earliest hominins and lithic technology, because up to now, very little was known about the first hominin occupation and activities in the north of the continent. Two decades of field and laboratory research directed by Dr. Sahnouni have shown that ancestral hominins actually made stone tools in North Africa that are near contemporary with the earliest known stone tools in East Africa dated to 2.6 million years.

These are stone artifacts and animal bones bearing marks of cutting by stone tools, with an estimated chronology of 2.4 and 1.9 million years, respectively, found at two levels at the sites of Ain Boucherit (within the Ain Hanech study area), which were dated using Paleomagnetism, Electron Spin Resonance (ESR), and the Biochronology of large mammals excavated together with the archaeological materials.

Fossils of animals such as pigs, horses and elephants, from very ancient sites, have been used by the paleontologist Jan van der Made, of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, to corroborate the ages yielded by Paleomagnetism, obtained by the CENIEH geochronologist Josep Parés, and ESR, found by Mathieu Duval, of Griffith University.

Oldowan technology

The artifacts of Ain Boucherit were manufactured of locally available limestone and flint and include faces worked into choppers, polyhedra and subspheroids, as well as sharp-edged cutting tools used to process animal carcasses. These artifacts are typical of the Oldowan stone technology known from 2.6-1.9 million-year-old sites in East Africa, although those from Ain Boucherit show subtle variations.

“The lithic industry of Ain Boucherit, which is technologically similar to that of Gona and Olduvai, shows that our ancestors ventured into all corners of Africa, not just East Africa. The evidence from Algeria changes the earlier view that East Africa was the cradle of Humankind. Actually, the whole of Africa was the cradle of humankind,” states Sahnouni, leader of the Ain Hanech project.

Not mere scavengers

Ain Boucherit is one of the few archaeological sites in Africa which has provided evidence of bones with associated marks of cutting and percussion in situ with stone tools, which shows unmistakably that these ancestral hominins exploited meat and marrow from animals of all sizes and skeletal parts, which implied skinning, evisceration and defleshing of upper and intermediate extremities.

Isabel Cáceres, taphonomist at the IPHES, has commented that “the effective use of sharp-edged tools at Ain Boucherit suggests that our ancestors were not mere scavengers. It is not clear at this moment whether they hunted, but the evidence clearly shows that they were successfully competing with carnivores and enjoyed first access to animal carcasses.”

The tool-makers

At this moment, the most important question is who made the stone tools discovered in Algeria. Hominin remains have still not been found in North Africa which are contemporary with the earliest stone artifacts. As a matter of fact, nor have any hominins yet been documented in direct association with the first stone tools known from East Africa.

Nevertheless, a recent discovery in Ethiopia has shown the presence of early Homo dated to 2.8 million years, most likely the best candidate also for the materials from East and North Africa.

Scientists thought for a long time that the hominins and their material culture originated in the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. Surprisingly, the earliest known hominin, dated to 7.0 million years, and the 3.3 million years Australopithecus bahrelghazali, have been discovered in Chad, in the Sahara, 3000 km from the rift valleys in the east of Africa.

As Sileshi Semaw, scientist at the CENIEH and a co-author of this paper, explains that the hominins contemporary with Lucy (3.2 million years), were probably roamed over the Sahara, and their descendants might have been responsible for leaving these archaeological puzzles now discovered in Algeria, that are near contemporaries of those of East Africa.

“Future research will focus on searching for human fossils in the nearby Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene deposits, looking for the tool-makers and even older stone tools,” concludes Sahnouni.

Ancient Egyptian cat, dung beetle mummies discovered


This 10 November 2018 video says about itself:

Egypt: Mummified cats, scarab beetles discovered in ancient tombs near Cairo

Seven ancient Egyptian tombs containing mummified cats and scarabs, have been discovered in the Saqqara necropolis, 30 km (19 miles) south of Cairo, according to an announcement by Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany on Saturday.

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr Mostafa Waziri, said he believes this is the first time the preserved insects have ever been found, saying “we asked museums in many countries if they have mummified scarabs, but no one have mummified scarabs till today.”

Three of the tombs, which date back to the New Kingdom period and are between 3500 and 3000 years old, appear to have been used for feline burial as dozens of mummified moggies were discovered within, as well as wooden cat statutes and representations of the cat goddess Bast.

The other four tombs are believed to date from the Old Kingdom period and are thus at least 4000 years old.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Tombs with mummies of cats and dung beetles discovered in Egypt

Archaeologists have discovered seven tombs in Egypt from the time of the pharaohs. More than 200 cat mummies and mummies of scarabs were found in the tombs. They also appeared to contain wooden images of other animals, such as a lion, a cow and a falcon.

Three graves date from the time of the New Kingdom, from 1550 to 1069 BC, the other four from the Old Kingdom, which ran from 2686 to 2181 before the beginning of our era. The archaeologists discovered the tombs in the pyramid complex of the necropolis Saqqara, south of Cairo.

Experts call the discovery of the mummified dung beetles, which were revered by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of rebirth [in the hereafter], unique. Cats were also honoured during the time of the pharaohs. Bastet, the goddess of fertility, was depicted by the Egyptians as a cat. A bronze statue of her was found in one of the graves.

To the surprise of the archaeologists they discovered the door of another tomb, when they were preparing for an exhibition of the found objects in the area. The discovery of this tomb from the fifth dynasty of the Old Kingdom is special because the door and the façade are still intact and not, like many other graves, destroyed by grave robbers. .

This may indicate that the contents of the tomb are still untouched. Experts want to open this tomb somewhere in the coming weeks.

World’s oldest figurative art discovery in Indonesia


This 9 October 2014 video says about itself:

World’s oldest cave paintings from 40,000 years ago discovered in Indonesia

Scientists have calculated that ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are at least as old as prehistoric art in Europe, laying to rest the idea that a human creativity was first born on the western continent.

Using uranium decay levels, scientists concluded that the drawings were made 35,000-40,000 years ago, roughly the same period as drawings found in Spain and France.

One Asian handprint is the oldest on record at 39,000-years-old. Archaeologists estimated the age of a dozen stencils of hands in mulberry red and two detailed drawings of an animal described as a “pig-deer“.

The Indonesian cave drawings are part of more 100 pieces of art in Sulawesi, southeast of Borneo.

From Nature today:

Palaeolithic cave art in Borneo

Abstract

Figurative cave paintings from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi date to at least 35,000 years ago (ka) and hand-stencil art from the same region has a minimum date of 40 ka1.

Here we show that similar rock art was created during essentially the same time period on the adjacent island of Borneo. Uranium-series analysis of calcium carbonate deposits that overlie a large reddish-orange figurative painting of an animal at Lubang Jeriji Saléh—a limestone cave in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo—yielded a minimum date of 40 ka, which to our knowledge is currently the oldest date for figurative artwork from anywhere in the world.

In addition, two reddish-orange-coloured hand stencils from the same site each yielded a minimum uranium-series date of 37.2 ka, and a third hand stencil of the same hue has a maximum date of 51.8 ka.

We also obtained uranium-series determinations for cave art motifs from Lubang Jeriji Saléh and three other East Kalimantan karst caves, which enable us to constrain the chronology of a distinct younger phase of Pleistocene rock art production in this region. Dark-purple hand stencils, some of which are decorated with intricate motifs, date to about 21–20 ka and a rare Pleistocene depiction of a human figure—also coloured dark purple—has a minimum date of 13.6 ka.

Our findings show that cave painting appeared in eastern Borneo between 52 and 40 ka and that a new style of parietal art arose during the Last Glacial Maximum. It is now evident that a major Palaeolithic cave art province existed in the eastern extremity of continental Eurasia and in adjacent Wallacea from at least 40 ka until the Last Glacial Maximum, which has implications for understanding how early rock art traditions emerged, developed and spread in Pleistocene Southeast Asia and further afield.

Like Europe, Borneo hosted Stone Age cave artists: here.

Ancient Mesopotamia, video


This 4 November 2018 video says about itself:

Ancient Mesopotamia 101 | National Geographic

Ancient Mesopotamia proved that fertile land and the knowledge to cultivate it was a fortuitous recipe for wealth and civilization. Learn how this “land between two rivers” became the birthplace of the world’s first cities, advancements in math and science, and the earliest evidence of literacy and a legal system.

‘World’s oldest shipwreck discovered’


The newly discovered ancient Greek ship, photo Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP)

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Researchers report finding oldest shipwreck in the world

Archaeologists have found the wreck of an intact Greek ship at the bottom of the Black Sea. According to them, it has probably been already for more than 2400 years at the bottom of the sea. Archaeologists think it is the oldest complete shipwreck in the world.

The ship is 23 meters long and lies at a depth of over two kilometers, about 75 kilometers off the coast of Bulgaria. The lack of oxygen at that depth, according to the archaeologists, ensured that the mast, rudders and rowing bags of the ship were preserved.

Professor Jon Adams of the Black Sea Archeology Project, the team that found the ship, never thought that such a discovery would be possible. “It is changing our understanding of shipbuilding and shipping in the ancient world.”

The researchers think it is a commercial ship, of a type that has so far only been seen on ancient Greek pottery such as the Siren Vase in the British Museum. This vase dates from the same period as the found wreck, a few centuries BC, and shows how the mythological hero Odysseus sailed past the Sirens.

The Siren Vase at the British Museum

The researchers removed a small piece of the wreck to date it, but then left the ship alone.

The Black Sea Archeology Project is a three-year project that traces shipwrecks at great depths in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, more than sixty have already been found.

The world’s oldest intact shipwreck has been discovered in the Black Sea. Archaeologists say the 75-foot vessel has sat on the seabed undisturbed for more than 2,400 years.

Animals in ancient Egypt


This 12 October 2018 video says about itself:

A 6,000-year-old ancient Egyptian cemetery is uncovered, filled with the remains of wild animals such as ostriches, crocodiles and leopards. Was it a kind of zoo or could there be another explanation?

This 16 October 2018 video says about itself:

Archaeologists have a theory why ancient Egyptians maintained zoos filled with wild animals: it was an attempt to harness the power of these beasts, to combat the forces of nature – such as floods.

From the Series: Secrets: Beasts of the Pharaohs.