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Necklace found in Neolithic grave reveals complex ancient culture

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According to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, an ornate necklace discovered in a child’s grave at the ancient village of Ba’ja offers fresh insights into the social complexity of Neolithic culture.

Ba’ja is one of the largest neolithic villages in the Jordan area, covering an area of 3.7 acres with a population of up to 600 inhabitants. Like the nearby site of Basta, the settlement was built in 7000 BC during the PPNB (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) period. People of this era relied more extensively on domesticated animals to complement their previously mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet.

Body adornments hold significant symbolic meaning, conveying cultural values and individual identities, making them immensely valuable in the examination of ancient societies.

In the study, archaeologists analysed materials that adorned the body of an eight-year-old child found in a burial at Ba’ja that contained over 2,500 colourful stones and shells, two exceptional amber beads, a large stone pendant, and a delicately engraved mother-of-pearl ring.

Through an analysis of the composition, craftsmanship, and spatial arrangement of these artifacts, the researchers deduced that they once constituted a unified multi-row necklace that has disintegrated over time. As a part of this investigation, the scholars crafted a physical reconstruction of the original necklace, currently exhibited at the Petra Museum in Southern Jordan.

The multi-row necklace, being one of the oldest and most remarkable Neolithic ornaments, offers fresh perspectives on the funerary customs of individuals who seemingly held elevated social status during the Neolithic period.

By reconstructing the necklace, the researchers suggest that the inhabitants of Ba’ja had meticulous craftsmanship and were able to procure exotic materials from distant regions. The investigation of this artefact also reveals intricate social dynamics among the community members involving skilled artisans, traders, and high-status individuals responsible for commissioning such prestigious pieces.

According to the researchers: “The analysis of the child’s necklace has yielded valuable information that enhances our understanding of the ritual practices and symbolic behaviour of the community of Ba`ja while shedding light on the artisanal and economic capabilities employed to serve these expressions. Despite its elaborate design, such a necklace was not created for exchange or trade purposes but was rather a part of the child’s burial, serving as a significant testament to the cultural practices of the time.”

PLOS ONE

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0288075

Header Image Credit : Alarashi et al – PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0

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Archaeology

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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Archaeology

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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