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Tools for bleeding cows uncovered in 7,000-year-old cemetery

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Archaeologists from the Polish Academy of Sciences have uncovered bone tools used for bleeding cows during excavations in the Letti Basin in northern Sudan.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, who were researching early communities that dealt with cattle breeding in the Middle Nile Valley to determine whether domestication of cattle occurred independently or were imported from the Middle East.

Excavations of a cemetery in the Letti Basin revealed 7,000-year-old burials, with one burial pit containing the remains of an elderly man with fragments of animal skin that were coloured with a red mineral dye – ochre. Ochre is a natural clay earth pigment, a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand, which has been used as a colouring agent in Africa for over 200,000 years.

The burial pit also contained a small bowl with traces of ochre and 5 bone blades most likely made from cattle bones. A closer examination of the bone blades showed that they had a funnel or gutter form and were still very sharp.

Dr. Piotr Osypiński, said: “Given the characteristic shape of the blades, they could have been used to bleed cows, similar to modern African shepherds, such as the Maasai. Without any harm to the animals, cows’ blood is drunk on special occasions, usually mixed with milk. It would be the oldest known record of this type of practice”.

In another burial, archaeologists discovered a small oval cavity containing the remains of a young man also buried with animal skin that is coloured with red ochre. The skeleton was placed in the fetal position, however, an anthropological study of the man’s skull revealed a precisely cut round hole measuring 5 cm’s in diameter.

“The man showed no signs of advanced healing, so it is likely that this procedure may have been related to his death. It is hard to imagine how 7,000 years ago, people undertook dangerous and complicated surgical procedures using primitive tools,” added Osypiński.

“The Neolithic pastoral communities of sub-Saharan Africa are extremely important to the history of this continent. They were at the genesis of the formation of ancient civilisations – including the Ancient Egyptians. Due to their mobile lifestyle and the thousands of years that separate us from them, we still know very little about them” – explained Dr. Osypiński.

PAP

Header Image Credit : M.Osypinska

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

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

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

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

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