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Guiding serpent sculpture discovered at Chichén Itzá

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Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have discovered a serpent sculpture at the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá, located in the Tinúm Municipality of the Mexican state of Yucatán.

Chichén Itzá was a pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people of the Terminal Classic period. The city was a major focal point in the Northern Maya Lowlands from the Late Classic (AD 600–900) through the Terminal Classic (AD 800–900) and into the early phases of the Postclassic period (AD 900–1200).

Excavations have been financed by the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones by the Federal Government. This has led to the discovery of a serpent sculpture which served to guide the route from the Kukulcán Pyramid, also known as El templo, to the Sacred Cenote in the north of the city civic precinct.

The Sacred Cenote is a limestone sinkhole, which according to Maya and Spanish post-Conquest sources (later confirmed by archaeological studies), was used for depositing ritual offerings and human bodies in sacrifice to the Maya rain god, Chaac.

Kukulcán Pyramid – Image Credit : Shutterstock

The serpent statue is orientated towards the Sacred Cenote and delimited the sacbe, meaning “white road”, which was a ceremonial route constructed to connect important structures or plazas with ceremonial centres.

Archaeologists suggest that statue and sacbe is a symbolic representation of Kukulcán, the Yucatec Maya Feathered Serpent god.

During the spring and fall equinoxes, the shadow cast by the angle of the sun and edges of the nine steps of the Kukulcán Pyramid, combined with the northern stairway and the stone serpent head carvings, create the illusion of a massive serpent descending the pyramid.

José Francisco Osorio León, an archaeologist from INAH said: “We found that the sacbé is an extension of the feathered serpent that comes down from the pyramid and leads towards the cenote. We have the head of the snake that defines the wall of the sacbé with its body, and there is another snake on the opposite side, but we do not have the complete head.”

INAH

Header Image Credit : La Crónica de Hoy

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr

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A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306908

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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