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Maya ball game marker discovered in Chichén Itzá

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Archaeologists have discovered a ball game marker with depiction of the Maya ballcourts at Chichén Itzá.

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).

Known simply as ‘pelota’ (‘ball’), the origin of the Maya ballgame can be traced back more than 3,000 years ago. The importance of this game is highlighted in the Popol Vuh, which narrates the history of the K’iche’ people and their rulers.

The game is depicted as a way to re-enact a battle between the forces of darkness and light as a religious event of regeneration that the Maya saw as integral to their continued existence.

Playing the game and making sacrifices were ways in which the Maya demonstrated their devotion to their gods. Scholars have differing opinions about which individuals were targeted for ritual killings during the games and the frequency of such sacrifices.

Archaeologists excavating in the Casa Colorada architectural complex, also called the “Red House”, discovered a ball game marker that dates from the Terminal Classic or Early Postclassic period.

Image Credit : INAH

The marker measures 32.5 cm in diameter and weighs up to 40 kg. The surface is decorated with a bas-relief glyphic band which surrounds an iconographic interior containing two figures that have been interpreted to be Maya ball players.

The band of inscriptions includes 18 cartouches indicating a date of 12 Eb 10 Cumku, which suggests a possible date of AD 894.

Describing the engraved image, archaeologist Santiago Alberto Sobrino Fernández explained that “the character on the left is wearing a feathered headdress and a sash that features a flower-shaped element, probably a water lily. In line with the face is a scroll, which may be interpreted as the breath or voice. The opponent wears a headdress known as a ‘snake turban’, whose representation can be seen on multiple depictions in Chichén Itzá.”

INAH

Header Image Credit : INAH

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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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