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Archaeologists uncover over 2,000 seal impressions in ancient Doliche

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A team of archaeologists from the Asia Minor Research Centre have uncovered over 2,000 seal impressions in ancient Doliche.

Doliche was founded as a Hellenistic colony during the 2nd century BC in the present-day province of Gaziantep, Turkey. During antiquity, the city was located in the ancient region of Cyrrhestica, which was annexed by the Roman Empire in AD 72.

Previous excavations in the city have unearthed the remains of a Mithraic temple, rock cut graves, and a stele depicting a previously unknown Iron Age deity.

A recent study by the Asia Minor Research Centre has found over 2,000 seal impressions used to seal documents from the city municipal archive. The impressions consist of stamped clay lumps that range from 5 millimetres to 2 centimetres in size.

Image Credit : Asia Minor Research Centre

According to Professor Michael Blömer from the University of Münster: “The images of the official city seals have a direct urban connection. As a rule, they show their most important deities such as Jupiter Dolichenus, the main god of the city.”

Between the mid-second and mid-third century AD, the veneration of Jupiter Dolichenus gained widespread popularity within the Roman military. Several religious structures dedicated to Jupiter Dolichenus identify him as the “deity of the Commagenians.”

The smaller private seals exhibit a diverse array of images and symbols, shedding light on the cultural impact that religion played in the lives of the people of Doliche. “The gods on the seals provide insights into people’s religious environment. Mythical figures or rare private portraits indicate a strong Greco-Roman influence,” said Professor Blömer. The well-preserved seal impressions and their motifs also provide information about ancient administrative practices.

The seals were found in the lower foundations of an archive building made of solid limestone blocks. The building measures 8 x 25 metres in size and was a multi-story structure containing a sequence of rooms. While each Roman city had archives designated for contract storage, only a few archive structures from the Roman Empire have been identified thus far.

According to the researchers: “The archive documents themselves were destroyed in a major fire, possibly in AD 253 when the Persian king, Šāpūr I, destroyed numerous cities in the Roman province of Syria.”

University of Münster

Header Image Credit : Asia Minor Research Centre

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

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Archaeology

Oldest prehistoric fortress found in remote Siberia

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An international team, led by archaeologists from Freie Universität Berlin has uncovered an ancient prehistoric fortress in a remote region of Siberia known as Amnya.

According to a study, published in the scientific journal “Antiquity”, the fortress is a complex system of defensive structures around an ancient settlement, dating from 8,000 years ago.

The fortress is spread across two settlement clusters, Amnya I and Amnya II. Amnya I consists of extant surface features such as banks and ditches, which enclose the tip of a promontory, and 10 house pit depressions. Ten further house pits, located approximately 50m to the east, comprise the open settlement of Amnya II.

Excavations have uncovered approximately 45 pottery vessels within the wider complex, including pointed and flat-based forms that reflect two distinct typological traditions.

The Amnya settlement complex signifies the start of a distinctive, enduring trend of defensive sites among hunter-gatherers in northern Eurasia—an almost continuous tradition that persisted for nearly eight millennia until the Early Modern period.

Tanja Schreiber, archaeologist at the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology in Berlin and co-author of the study, explains, “Through detailed archaeological examinations at Amnya, we collected samples for radiocarbon dating, confirming the prehistoric age of the site and establishing it as the world’s oldest-known fort.

“Our new palaeobotanical and stratigraphical examinations reveal that inhabitants of Western Siberia led a sophisticated lifestyle based on the abundant resources of the taiga environment,” added Schrieber.

The construction of fortifications by foraging groups has been observed in different parts of the world, primarily in coastal regions during later prehistoric periods. However, the early in inland western Siberia is unparalleled.

According to the researchers, the discovery transforms how we perceive ancient human communities, questioning the notion that the establishment of permanent settlements with grand architecture and intricate social systems began solely with the rise of agriculture.

Header Image Credit: Nikita Golovanov

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

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Archaeology

Top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2023

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The field of archaeology has been continuously evolving in 2023, making significant strides in uncovering new historical findings, preserving cultural heritage, and employing innovative technologies to study the past.

Sealed “Tomb of Cerberus” discovered in Giugliano

Archaeologists have discovered an exceptionally well-preserved tomb containing frescoes in the municipality of Giugliano in Campania, Italy. The most notable fresco depicts Cerberus (thus the tomb being designated “Tomb of Cerburus”), the three-headed dog from Ancient Greek mythology. Cerberus, also referred to as the “hound of Hades”, guarded the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. The scene represents the last of Heracles’ twelve labors, in which Cerberus is captured by Heracles. Find out more

Well-preserved 3,000-year-old sword found in Germany

The sword was found among a deposit of grave goods and weaponry, alongside the remains of a man, woman and child. The discovery is extremely rare for this part of Germany, as most burial mounds have long been looted during antiquity or opened during the 19th century. The sword is similar to the Bronze D type Rixheim swords, in that it uses a solid hilt made by overlay casting of the handle over the blade. Find out more

Researchers find oldest known Neanderthal engravings

A study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE has provided evidence to date the age and origin of engravings discovered on a cave wall in France. Conducted by a team of researchers led by Jean-Claude Marquet from the University of Tours, France, the study confirms that these engravings were undeniably crafted by Neanderthals, making them the oldest known examples of such artistic expressions attributed to this ancient human species. Find out more

Celestial reliefs depicting the heavens uncovered in the Temple of Esna

A team of researchers from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and the Universitaet Tübingen, have uncovered a collection of ceiling reliefs during restoration works in the Temple of Esna. The reliefs are a representation of the heavens that depicts the signs of the zodiac, several planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, in addition to a number of stars and constellations used to measure time. Find out more

Lost Roman forts discovered using Cold War spy satellites

A study of declassified imagery taken by Cold War era satellites during the 1960s and 70s has led to the discovery of 396 previously undiscovered Roman forts. The forts are spread across the Syrian Steppe in what is now Syria and Iraq to protect the eastern provinces from Arab and Persian incursions. Find out more

Archaeologists uncover the first human representations of the ancient Tartessos people

A press release issued by the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has announced the discovery of figured reliefs depicting human representations during excavations at Casas del Turuñuelo, a Tartessian site in the Province of Badajoz. Two of the reliefs appear to be female figures, which the researchers suggest could be representations from the Tartessian pantheon of gods. The three other reliefs are fragmented and in a poorer state of preservation, however, one of them has been identified as a Tartessian warrior. Find out more

Cache of Roman swords found in desert cave

According to a press announcement by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the discovery was made while researchers were inspecting a known Hebrew script inscription written on the walls of a small cave in the En Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel. While on the upper level of the cave, Asaf Gayer from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, spotted an extremely well-preserved Roman pilum in a deep narrow crevice. Upon notifying IAA, archaeologists have recovered four well-preserved swords that date from the Roman period around 1,900-years-ago. Find out more

Remains of the Theatrum Neroni used by Nero found in Rome

Excavations conducted by the Superintendence of Rome have uncovered the remains of the Theatrum Neroni, a private theatre erected by Emperor Nero in Rome, Italy. Until now, evidence of the Theatrum Neroni were only known from literary sources such as text written by Pliny the Elder, Suetonius and Tacitus. Nero used the private theatre for rehearsals of his singing performances in the Theatre of Pompey, and may have been where he was witness to the great Fire of Rome in AD 64. Find out more

Lost Maya city discovered in Mexican jungle

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have announced the discovery of a previously unknown Maya city in the forests of the Balamkú ecological reserve, Mexico. The city has been named Ocomtún (meaning “stone column”) due to numerous cylindrical stone columns that have been uncovered throughout the interior. Archaeologists made the discovery as part of a project to document and map unexplored areas of central Campache using high resolution photography and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDar). Find out more

Giant 2.3 metre-long dakoken sword among unprecedented discoveries in burial mound

Archaeologists from the Nara Municipal Buried Cultural Properties Research Centre, working in collaboration with the Nara Prefectural Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, have uncovered a giant 2.3 metre-long dakoken sword during excavations at the Tomiomaruyama burial mound in Nara City, Japan. The sword has a slightly bent blade like a snake, a typical example of a “dakoken” sword related to the worship of the snake god. The sword is the largest discovered intact in Japan, with experts suggesting served a ceremonial purpose to ward off evil. Find out more

Notable mention: 

A paper, published in the journal Archaeological Prospection in October 2023, claims that a pyramid lying beneath the prehistoric site of Gunung Padang in West Java, Indonesia, might have been constructed as far back as 27,000 years ago. However, many scientists have raised doubts about the researchers findings and the journal and its publisher, Wiley, have since launched an investigation into the paper. Find out more

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

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