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Evidence of Necromancy during Late Antiquity in the Te’omim Cave

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The discovery of oil lamps, weapons, and human skulls, suggest that Te’omim Cave was used for necromancy ceremonies during the Late Roman Period.

Te’omim Cave, also known as Mŭghâret Umm et Tûeimîn (“the cave of the mother of twins”), is a cave complex in Israel’s Jerusalem Hills east of Beit Shemesh.

Oral tradition has long attributed the cave’s spring waters to have magical healing properties and powers of fertility due to a 19th century legend, where an infertile woman drank waters from the cave and became pregnant with twins.

The cave was first studied in 1873, with more recent studies since 2009 uncovering over 120 intact oil lamps that date from the 2nd to 4th century AD. All the oil lamps were deliberately deposited into narrow crevices in the cave walls and beneath piles of rubble, while some of the crevices also contained groups of weapons and human skulls.

According to a study published in the journal Cambridge Core, the artefact deposits were used for necromancy ceremonies that took place in the cave during the Late Roman period, and that the cave may have served as a local oracle for the dead (nekyomanteion).

Placing of such finds in cavities was used for sorcery and magic in caves as possible portals to the underworld. Te’omim Cave was consecrated to the local god Tammuz-Adonis and it appears that the cultic traditions and ceremonies practiced there were those of the eastern part of the empire and the Levant.

According to the study: “Their purpose was to predict the future and conjure up the spirits of the dead. Because more than 100 ceramic oil lamps but only three human skulls have been found so far in the Te’omim Cave, we hypothesize that the primary cultic ceremony focused on depositing oil lamps for chthonic forces, perhaps as part of rituals conducted in the cave to raise the dead and predict the future.”

Cambridge Core

https://doi.org/10.1017/S0017816023000214

Header Image Credit : B. Zissu

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Archaeologists may have discovered the lost city of Tu’am

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Excavations in the Umm Al Quwain area of the UAE have revealed 6th century ruins that could be the lost city of Tu’am.

The ruins are situated on Al Sinniyah Island, part of a collection of small islands on the western part of the Khor Al Bidiyah peninsula.

Previous studies on the island have revealed a pearling village and monastery, which has been the focus of the latest season of excavations.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a larger settlement, with the earliest signs of occupation dating back to the 4th century AD and peaking in the 5th or 6th century.

The team uncovered traces of large semi-urbanised tenement buildings measuring 30 square metres, which are tightly packed around narrow walkways. According to the researchers, the settlement could be the lost city of Tu’am as described in Ancient Arab texts.

Tu’am was a regional capital on the Gulf coast that was famed for its pearl fishing industry and trade in precious gems.

The population went into decline following a plague and regional tensions, and subsequently was abandoned. Mass graves in the vicinity support the historical account of plague, as the skeletal remains show no evidence of trauma or a violent death.

“Our archaeological work has discovered the largest settlement by far ever found on the Gulf coast of the Emirates,” said Prof Tim Power of UAE University.

“And it’s exactly the right period for the city described in the early Islamic geographical sources. It’s clearly a really important place. No one has ever found it.”

Professor Power explained that while they have not found irrefutable evidence (such as an inscription bearing the town’s name), no other major settlements from this period have been discovered on the coast, strengthening the argument that the settlement is Tu’am. “It’s a process of elimination,” he explained.

Header Image Credit : Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology

Sources : NUAE

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

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New findings in North America’s first city

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Cahokia was the largest urban settlement of the Mississippian culture, a mound-building pre-Columbian civilisation that emerged in the Midwestern, Eastern, and South-eastern United States.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the city was founded around AD 1050 along the banks of the Mississippi River, located near present-day St. Louis, Missouri.

The city covered an area between six to nine square miles (notably larger than many contemporary European cities such as London) and was home to up to 20,000 inhabitants at its peak.

Following the tradition of the Mississippian culture, the people of Cahokia constructed large earthen mounds – ranging from raised platforms, conical, and ridge-top designs – involving the movement of 55 million cubic feet of earth over a period that lasted several decades.

The largest mound is known as “Monks Mound,” named after a group of Trappist monks, which rises to a height of 290 metres and was once the tallest building construction in North America.

Image Credit : MattGush – iStock

Archaeologists and students from Saint Louis University (SLU) have recently conducted a series of excavations on the western periphery of the Cahokia Mounds.

The team unearthed 900-year-old ceramics, microdrills, structures, and wall trenches dating from around AD 1100 to 1200, during the Sterling Phase of the Mississippian Period. According to the archaeologists, the finds offer new insights into a crucial period in the chiefdom’s development, coinciding with Cahokia’s rapid population growth.

The excavations follow an aerial survey by SLU and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to conduct Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to determine whether further mounds or archaeological features lie within the acres of thick forests and swampy land near the site’s main complex.

Header Image Credit : Alamy

Sources : KSDK

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

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