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Archaeology

Analysis reveals rituals of mass sacrifice of horses and other animals

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A study published in the journal PLOS ONE reveals that the Iron Age site of Casas del Turuñuelo was used for large scale animal sacrifices and banquets.

Casas del Turuñuelo is an archaeological site associated with the Tartessos culture, a people that emerged from the evolution of local populations inherited from the Bronze Age in the southwest Iberian Peninsula.

The study examined and dated 6770 bones from 52 sacrificed animals, including a large proportion of adult horses – alongside cattle, pigs, and a lone dog.

All the sacrifices were done in three successive phases, with the early phases featuring mostly intact, unaltered skeletons, while the third phase exhibited processed skeletons (excluding equids), suggesting a potential meal accompanying the ritual.

The sacrifices were found in a building dated to the end of the 5th century BC, when both the building (intentionally destroyed) and the sacrificed animals were buried under a 6 metre tall tumulus.

The study sheds light on the sequence of animal sacrifices and the protocols associated with rituals accompanied by celebratory banquets. Specific characteristics linked to the closure of this structure beneath a burial mound provide indications of the decline of the Tartessian Culture.

According to the researchers, these findings imply repeated usage of this space over several years for diverse sacrificial practices, and deliberate selection of adult animals. Casas del Turuñuelo distinguishes itself from other sites due to its notably high number of sacrificed horses, contributing to a better understanding of ritual animal sacrifices in Europe during the Iron Age.

The authors underscored the significance of their study, stating, “This investigation emphasises the role of mass animal sacrifices within Iron Age European societies. Through zooarchaeological, taphonomic, and microstratigraphic analyses, it illuminates the practices of animal sacrifice and Tartessian ritual behaviour at Casas del Turuñuelo (Badajoz, Spain).”

Header Image Credit : Construyendo Tarteso, CC-BY 4.0

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

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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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