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Rare embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ found in medieval burial ground



Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences have unearthed a rare embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ in a medieval burial ground.

The discovery was made during construction works for the Moscow-Kazan high-speed highway, where archaeologists found a medieval settlement covering an area of 8.6 acres and an associated Christian cemetery.

Excavations have exhumed 46 graves, one of which contained a woman aged between 16 to 25 years of age, who was buried with an embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ and John the Baptist.

In Byzantine art, and in later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deisis is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator. In traditional examples, Mary (mother of Jesus) and John the Baptist are shown facing towards Christ with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity.

The archaeologists suggest that the embroidered fabric was once a headdress made from a dark silk samite. Similar examples have been found at the Ivorovsky necropolis near Staritsa depicting the image of Michael the Archangel with a spear, or the embroidered faces of saints and crosses found in the Karoshsky burial ground in the Yaroslavl region.

The fabric measures 12.1 cm long by 5.5 cm and is made up of two parts connected by a vertical seam consisting of a woven gold ribbon with a braided pattern. The lining of the fabric has not survived; however, a microscopic inspection has found remnants of birch bark and needle punctures along the lower and upper edges.

The central figure on the fabric depicts a frontal image of Jesus Christ in a blessing gesture, while on the right is John the Baptist in a prayerful pose facing him. The inspection has revealed that on the left was once another figure, likely Mary, however this figure is now lost.

Speaking on the discovery, the researchers commented that the: “highest level of craftsmanship, jewellery subtlety and elegance went into making this miniature embroidery.”

Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Header Image Credit : Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Celestial reliefs depicting the heavens uncovered in the Temple of Esna




A team of researchers from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and the Universitaet Tübingen, have uncovered a collection of ceiling reliefs during restoration works in the Temple of Esna.

The Temple of Esna, also known as the Temple of Khnum, is a temple complex dedicated to the Ancient Egyptian god, Khnum, and his consorts Menhit and Nebtu, their son, Heka, and the goddess Neith.

The temple was constructed during Ptolemaic times in the Egyptian city of Esna, which during antiquity was known as Latopolis.

During restoration and re-colouring works, the team found a representation of the heavens that depicts the signs of the zodiac, several planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, in addition to a number of stars and constellations used to measure time.

Image Credit : Ahmed Emam, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Over the centuries, the reliefs and their vibrant colours became covered by a layer of dirt and soot, preserving them for nearly 2,000 years.

Christian Leitz, Director of the Department of Egyptology at the University of Tübingen said: “Representations of the zodiac are very rare in Egyptian temples. The zodiac itself is part of Babylonian astronomy and does not appear in Egypt until Ptolemaic times.”

The archaeologists suggest that the system of zodiac signs and their related constellations didn’t appear in Egypt until they were introduced by the Greeks, which were then used to decorate private tombs and sarcophagi. The zodiac was also of great importance in astrological texts, such as horoscopes found inscribed on pottery sherds.

Image Credit : Ahmed Emam, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

“It is rare in temple decoration: Apart from Esna, there are only two completely preserved versions left, both from Dendera,” added Leitz.

The team also found images of various creatures, including a snake with a ram’s head, a bird with a crocodile’s head, the tail of a snake and four wings, and depictions of snakes and crocodiles.

University of Tübingen

Header Image Credit : Ahmed Emam, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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Maya burial chamber containing green figurines found at Palenque




Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have discovered a burial chamber at the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”) was a Maya city state located in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from hieroglyphic inscriptions on the monuments, revealing a sequence of the ruling Palenque Dynasty from the 5th century till the 8th century AD.

Palenque is a medium-sized site, smaller than Tikal, Chichen Itza, or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas produced.

Image Credit : INAH

Archaeologist from INAH have been conducting restoration works as part of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones, funded as a government led initiative by the Ministry of Culture.

During excavations of a structure designated CP3, the researchers uncovered a burial chamber containing a skeleton placed in a face-up position and orientated to the north, a typical funerary custom of the high-status inhabitants of Palenque.

Several large ceramic bowls were placed in the chamber as offerings, which according to Maya funerary beliefs would nourish the deceased both in life and death.

The remains of a woman and a skull was also found in a secondary burial deposit, in addition to green figurines made from jade that are often related to rulership and authority, wealth, water, maize, and centrality, or may represent a member of the Maya pantheon of gods.


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