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Hunter gatherers used bone flutes to imitate raptors

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Bone flutes discovered at Eynan-Mallaha in Israel may have been used to imitate the call of raptors.

Eynan-Mallaha was an Epipalaeolithic settlement belonging to the Natufian culture, built and settled around 10,000–8,000 BC. The settlement is an example of hunter-gatherer sedentism, a crucial step in the transition from foraging to farming.

Excavations at Eynan-Mallaha have yielded over 1112 bird bones, including seven aerophones made from the wing long-bones (one humerus, five ulnae, one radius), whose diaphysis have been perforated one to four times to form finger-holes.

According to a study published in the journal scientific reports, the flutes were manufactured more than 12,000 years ago to produce a range of sounds similar to raptor calls, for communication, attracting hunting prey, and music-making.

Although subsequent archaeological cultures have documented aerophones, the presence of artificial bird sounds in a Palaeolithic context has not been reported until now.

According to the study: “In the three cases where the epiphysis is still present, it has also been perforated to form the mouthpiece or the distal end of the object. To these finger-holes are added markings on three bones, either notches or a series of small parallel incisions located near the finger-holes which are potentially linked to the placements of the fingers on the instrument.”

The aerophones are mainly carved from the Eurasian teal (Anas crecca) and the Eurasian coot (Fulica atra). Based on a study of the frequency the aerophones produce, the researchers believe that they were made to reproduce the calls of the valued Common kestrel and the Sparrowhawk.

The study concludes: “It is now clear that the evolution of music at the transition to agriculture, which articulated the intensification of socio-cultural complexity, was more branched than we supposed before. Thus, the exploration of Natufian acoustics gives a new perspective on this crucial period in human history.”

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA)

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-35700-9

Header Image Credit : Laurent Davin

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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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