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Archaeologists uncover ritual landscape connected to ancient Andean cults



Archaeologists conducting a study in the Carangas region of highland Bolivia have discovered a ritual landscape connected with the Andean cults of wak’a (sacred mountains, tutelary hills, and mummified ancestors).

In a study published in the journal Antiquity, the researchers identified 135 hilltop sites, which are associated with agricultural production areas by a variable number of concentric walls on terraces.

At each location, the team found large quantities of pre-Hispanic ceramic fragments from local styles typical of the Late Intermediate and Late Periods (AD 1250–1600), along with some regional styles linked to the southern expansion of the Incas.

Most of the ceramic fragments are bowls, plates and small jars, indicating their use in commensal and ritual practices. The evidence suggests that the sites were used as ceremonial spaces known as wak’a, a practice which emerged during Late Intermediate Period.

This corresponds with accounts by Spanish clerics and chroniclers of the Colonial Period from around AD 1535–1800, such as that of the chronicler, Guaman Poma de Ayala.

At Waskiri, near the Lauca River and the Bolivian-Chilean border, the study discovered a large circular construction measuring 140m in diameter.

The site has a perimeter ring comprising of 39 adjoining enclosures, each with a surface area between 106 and 144m2. These enclose a plaza of approximately 1ha, which is scattered with abundant ceramic fragments ascribed to the Late Intermediate and Late Periods.

Archaeologists theorise that the perimeter walls may reflect the Incan ceque system, suggesting that the Incas replicated the symbolic structure of Cuzco in the regions they colonised.

The site is visually and spatially associated with the principal sacred mountains, multiple walled circular constructions, and burial towers adorned with patterns imitating Incan fabrics.

It is possible, that this structure was first referenced in the chronicles of the priest, Bartolomé Álvarez, who travelled through the Carangas region during the 1580s.

Álvarez heard of the existence of a “large circular building”, in which the Indigenous leaders of the region (curacas and caciques), met to perform ceremonies for the Sun during the month of June—the Inti Raymi.

According to the paper authors: “This ceremonial centre and the ritual landscape in which Waskiri is situated provides rich material for further study of the pre-Hispanic history of this part of the Andes—an area that has been generally understudied. Further research will allow investigators to test these initial hypotheses and interpretations.”


Header Image Credit : Antiquity

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Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill




Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

Construction of the early Romanesque Merseburg Cathedral was begun by Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg in 1015.

It was consecrated in 1021 in the presence of Emperor Heinrich II (Henry II), however, following a series of collapses in the eastern part of the structure, the cathedral wouldn’t be formally consecrated and opened until 1042 by Bishop Hunold.

The Merseburg Cathedral of St. John and St. Lawrence is today considered one of the most important cathedral buildings in Germany.

The LDA team were excavating the basement of the so-called Martinikurie, a two-story residential building from the Baroque period. Excavations revealed the remains of the first bishop’s palace, dating from from the time of the second consecration of Merseburg Cathedral.

According to the LDA: “We found the almost completely preserved basement-like lower floor of a hall building, whose 1.75 metre thick foundation walls are still preserved up to a height of 3.40 metres. Steps in the masonry and a pillar from the time of construction inside the building prove that at least one hall-like upper floor once stood on top of this.”
The palace was constructed by Bishop Hunold, who headed the diocese of Merseburg between 1036 and 1050.

“This finding makes it possible to locate one of the most important buildings of the episcopal see in Merseburg – a building that, with its location and size, clearly expresses the self-confidence of the diocese, which was re-founded in 1004 by King Henry II of Germany” added the LDA.

Header Image Credit : LDA

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA)

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions




Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

The papyri were discovered in Berenice Troglodytica, an ancient seaport of Egypt on the western shore of the Red Sea. The city was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC), who named it after his mother, Berenice I of Egypt.

During the Roman period, Berenice Troglodytica was one of the main waystations for the trade in war elephants and exotic goods, imported from India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, and Upper Egypt.

Excavations of an animal cemetery located on the western outskirts of the city have uncovered an accumulation of ceramics originating from the Mediterranean, Africa and India.

Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Among the accumulation, the team found Roman coins, a fibula, ostracons (fragments of texts on ceramics), and several papyri.

The papyri contains the correspondence of centurions, naming Haosus, Lucinius and Petronius. Centurions were soldiers who were promoted to command a centuria or “century”, a military unit consisting of between 80 to 100 men.

“In the correspondence, Petronius asks Lucinius (stationed in Berenice Troglodytica) about the prices of individual exclusive goods. There is also the statement: “I am giving you the money, I am sending it by dromedarius (a unit of legionnaires moving on dromedaries). Take care of them, provide them with veal and poles for their tents.”

Dr. Marta Osypińska from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Wrocław, said: “For Egyptologists and other scientists dealing with antiquity, this is an extremely rare and high-calibre discovery.”

“In this part of the world, there are very few sites from the Roman period. The Egyptians tend to leave little historical accounts from this time in history, because it is the moment when they were conquered.” added  Dr. Osypińska.

Header Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Sources : PAP

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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