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11,000-year-old stone ornaments indicate early body perforation

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Stone personal ornaments found in 11,000-year-old burials provide the earliest evidence of body perforation in South-west Asia.

Archaeologists have uncovered 100 earring-like ornaments in 11,000-year-old adult burials at the early Neolithic site of Boncuklu Tarla, Türkiye.

According to a new study published in the journal Antiquity, the ornaments were used for body perforation, and also suggest that they were used in coming-of-age rituals for young adults.

The ornaments were discovered in situ next to the ears and chins of the skeletal remains, and are mostly made from limestone, obsidian, or river pebbles. The diversity of the ornaments indicate that they were crafted for use in both ear and lower lip piercings known as labrets.

This is supported by a skeletal analysis of the remains, revealing wear patterns on the lower incisors consistent with historical and contemporary instances of labret-wearing in different cultures.

According to the study authors: “Further examination of the skeletons found that, both males and females had piercings, but they were exclusively worn by adults. None of the child burials had any evidence of these ornaments.”

Image Credit : Antiquity

This suggests that piercings served not only aesthetic purposes but also held social significance. It is probable that they served as a rite of passage, symbolising an individual’s transition into adulthood.

According to Dr Baysal, Associate Professor at Ankara University: “It shows that traditions that are still very much part of our lives today were already developed at the important transitional time when people first started to settle in permanent villages in western Asia more than 10,000 years ago.”

“They had very complex ornamentation practices involving beads, bracelets and pendants, including a very highly developed symbolic world which was all expressed through the medium of the human body”, added Dr Baysal.

Header Image Credit : Antiquity

Sources : Antiquity – Bodily boundaries transgressed: corporal alteration through ornamentation in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic at Boncuklu Tarla, Türkiye – Ergül Kodaş, Emma L Baysal & Kazım Özkan. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2024.28

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

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Archaeology

3,400-year-old shipwreck found with cargo mostly intact

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Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit have discovered a 3,400-year-old shipwreck with the cargo mostly intact.

The site was first identified during an underwater survey by Energean, an energy company searching for natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea Floor.

This led to the discovery of the shipwreck and its cargo at a depth of 1.8 kilometers, along with its cargo that consists of Late Bronze Age Canaanite storage vessels.

IAA archaeologists, in collaboration with Energean, have used the deep sea exploratory vessel, “Energean Star” to conduct a visual inspection of the wreck site. This has revealed hundreds of ceramic vessels on the seabed, and a muddy layer which likely conceals a second layer and the wooden beams of the ship.

Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, explains, “The ship seems to have sunk in crisis, either due to a storm or to an attempted piracy attack – a well-known occurrence in the Late Bronze Age. This is both the first and the oldest ship found in the Eastern Mediterranean deep sea, ninety kilometres from the nearest shore.”

Image Credit : IAA

Only two other ships from this period have been found – the boat from Cape Gelidonya and the Uluburun boat; both found off the Turkish coast. Both ships were found near the shore, suggesting that shipping routes followed the coastline between ports. However, this new discovery changes the understanding of ancient marine trade, demonstrating that ancient shipping also extended into deep waters.

“The ship is preserved at such a great depth that time has frozen since the moment of disaster – its body and contexts have not been disturbed by human hand (divers, fishermen, etc.); nor affected by waves and currents which do impact shipwrecks in shallower waters,” added Sharvit.

Header Image Credit : IAA

Sources : Israel Antiquities Authority

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

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Archaeology

Liquid containing cremated human remains is the world’s oldest known wine

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Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known preserved wine, a 2,000-year-old white wine of Andalusian origin.

The origins of wine is debatable, with some sources citing the invention to China, or from Georgia, Iran, and Armenia. Wine was an integral part of the Roman diet and most major wine-producing regions of Western Europe were established during the Roman Imperial era.

The wine was found in a Roman era tomb in the Spanish town of Carmona. It was used for a funerary rite, where the wine was placed in a glass urn and used to immerse the cremated remains of one of the deceased.

“At first we were very surprised that liquid was preserved in one of the funerary urns,” said the City of Carmona’s municipal archaeologist, Juan Manuel Román. “After all, 2,000 years had passed, but the tomb’s conservation conditions were extraordinary and allowed the wine to maintain its natural state.”

Ancient wines absorbed into vessel walls or their residues can be identified using specific biomarkers. However, the example from Carmona is the first instance where the wine has been analysed while still in its liquid state.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, applied high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) to identify the polyphenols in the liquid, allowing it to be identified as white wine.

Identifying the origins of the wine was challenging due to the absence of surviving samples from the same period for comparison. However, the mineral salts in the liquid suggest that the wine may originate from the former province of Betis, particularly the Montilla-Moriles region.

A second urn contained the remains of a cremated woman but no traces of a liquid or wine. According to the paper authors: “The fact that the man’s skeletal remains were immersed in the wine is no coincidence. Women in ancient Rome were long prohibited from drinking wine. It was a man’s drink.”

Header Image Credit : Juan Manuel Román

Sources : Daniel Cosano, Juan Manuel Román, Dolores Esquivel, Fernando Lafont, José Rafael Ruiz Arrebola, “New archaeochemical insights into Roman wine from Baetica”, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 57, 2024, 104636. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2024.104636

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

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