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Engraved relief could reveal the lost name of the Maya city at Ocomtún



Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have uncovered an engraved relief at Ocomtún in the Mexican state of Campeche.

Ocomtún, meaning “stone column”, is a Maya city recently discovered in the Balamkú ecological reserve using high resolution photography and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDar).

The city covers an areas of around 123.5 acres and dates from around the Classic Period (AD 250-1000). By the 10th century AD, the population declined and the site was abandoned around the time of the Maya collapse, a period that saw the abandonment of many Maya cities in the southern Maya lowlands.

Various large buildings have been confirmed through a ground level inspection, including several pyramidal structures over 15 metres in height, plazas, elongated structures arranged in a concentric circle plan, and evidence of a ball game court.

Image Credit : Ivan Ṡprajc

A large causeway connects the southeastern part of the site to a cluster of buildings in the northwest where an 80 metre long rectangular acropolis is situated. Excavations have uncovered a large engraved megalithic stone block at the stairway in the northwest zone, measuring 1.82 metres in width and carved with scenes and Maya hieroglyphs.

The block was originally part of a large monument such as a stela, stairway or lintel, and is carved with imagery depicting a Maya captive, a zoomorphic representation of a mountain, and incomplete hieroglyphic text in bands of cartouches.

A closer examination of the text shows the logogram, ajaw , meaning “lord”, which alludes to a Mayan ruler or nobleman, and above are syllabograms that make the word Maatz’ – possibly meaning in combination, the “Lord of Maatz’”.

According to the researchers: “Maatz’ could correspond to the original name of Ocomtún or to another place, as the practice of relocating monuments was common in the Maya area. Similar cases have been found in Chactún, Cobá, Calakmul or Tikal.”

Excavations around the block also uncovered offerings, including a carved bone in the shape of an eight-pointed star, a bifacial flint point, and various ceramic fragments.


Header Image Credit : Octavio Esparza

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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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