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Courtesan tomb discovered in burial cave



Archaeologists have discovered a burial cave containing the tomb of a courtesan in the Via Hebron area of Jerusalem, Israel.

In a press announcement by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), recent excavations have revealed the cremated remains of a young woman buried with a well-preserved folding box mirror from the late 4th century to early 3rd century BC.

According to the researchers, the discovery is the earliest evidence of a cremation burial in Israel from the Hellenistic period, with the woman likely being a companion/courtesan known as a hetaira who accompanied senior military personal or a Hellenistic government official during Alexander the Great’s campaigns or more likely during the Wars of the Diadochi (Wars of Alexander’s Successors).

Commenting on the box mirror, Liat Oz, who directed the excavations said: “This is the second mirror of this type discovered in Israel, and in total, only 63 example mirrors are known from around the Hellenistic world.”

Image Credit : Shai Halevi

Similar folding box mirrors have been documented in Hellenistic tombs and temples, usually found decorated with engravings or reliefs of idealised female figures and goddess figures – particularly that of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

According to the press announcement: “Bronze mirrors like the one recently discovered were considered an expensive luxury item, and they could come into the possession of Greek women in two ways; as part of their dowry ahead of a wedding, or as a gift given by men to their hetairai. As such, the mirrors symbolized, among other things, the connection – as well as the intimate relations between the clients and the hetairai.”

The hetairai were integral to the Ancient Greek societal system, resembling Japanese geishas in some aspects. They offered companionship and social support, with a focus on more than just, or primarily, sexual services.

Some hetairai entered into common-law unions with the Greco-Hellenistic monarchs, as well as esteemed military leaders and renowned intellectuals. The hetairai hosted intellectual gatherings and inspired some of the most iconic sculptures and paintings, some of which have been found displayed in Ancient Greek temples.

Israel Antiquities Authority 

Header Image Credit : Yoli Schwartz

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Archaeologists may have discovered the lost city of Tu’am




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 – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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New findings in North America’s first city




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 – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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