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Prehistoric societies in the Spanish Levantine mastered climbing and used equipment

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According to a study published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Spanish Levantine rock art provides distinctive visual evidence that indicates how societies in Eastern Spain had developed expertise in climbing and the use of specialised equipment to minimize risks associated with the activity.

A recently uncovered depiction at the Barranco Gómez site in Teruel reveals the most intricate use of ropes discovered thus far in Spanish Levantine art. This study delves into the representations found within this scene, particularly focusing on the use of a rope ladder to access a beehive. By examining these depictions, the research aims to gain deeper understanding of the various uses and technological advancements related to rope-based activities.

Thorough examination of the existing depictions found in Albacete, Castelló, Huesca, Teruel, and Valencia does not provide clear insights into the specific techniques employed for rope production, such as whether twisted or braided fibres were used.

However, the length of the ropes depicted indicate that the societies of Spanish Levantine were technologically proficient in crafting high-quality ropes. Moreover, their refined technique suggests that their expertise in producing long ropes was specifically tailored for climbing activities.

Among the studied depictions, collecting honey emerges as the sole clearly identifiable activity. The production of a rope measuring approximately 25 meters in length would have demanded significant time and effort, encompassing the gathering of raw materials and the actual crafting process. The considerable risk involved in climbing to such heights using rudimentary rope ladders underscores the paramount importance of honey and wax collection to these societal groups.

Bee-related products held significant importance in prehistoric times, serving various economic, technological, and cultural purposes such as sustenance due to their high calorific value and tool production. The depicted scenes portray an array of climbing systems, which researchers have categorised into two groups based on their size, shape, and flexibility: rigid ladders or masts, and flexible systems, likely associated with the usage of different raw materials.

Although Spanish Levantine rock art is dispersed across a wide geographical area, the depictions of climbing systems (ropes and ladders) are concentrated in two distinct regions: the Maestrazgo in the northern regions of Castelló and Teruel, and the Caroig Massif in the southern region of Alicante. This observation leads the research team to infer that these depictions may signify specific behaviors, territorial codes, or possess symbolic significance.

While many of the scenes examined in this study are familiar, the comprehensive investigation of ropes and their associated technology had not been previously undertaken. The materials used for rope production and the techniques employed to create them are largely imperceptible in archaeological records, making it challenging to trace their origins over time.

By analysing descriptions from other researchers and conducting on-site research, the team has gathered valuable evidence regarding the structure, usage, and manufacturing of these ropes. This study also highlights the rock art’s capacity to depict fleeting practices and the utilisation of perishable materials.

Spanish Levantine rock art stands as a remarkable artistic phenomenon unique to the eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula, emerging after the Paleolithic era. With over a thousand recorded sites, it has been designated as a World Heritage Site since 1998. This art form offers an extraordinary depiction of human life during a pivotal stage of its development. Characterised by its naturalistic style and rich narrative elements, it portrays dynamic scenarios encompassing hunting, warfare, social activities, gatherings, and more, providing an invaluable glimpse into the past.

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Header Image Credit : Manuel Bea, Dídac Roman & Inés Domingo

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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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