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Bronze lamp revealed as cult object associated with Dionysus

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A study of a bronze lamp found near the town of Cortona, Italy, has revealed that it was an object associated with the mystery cult of Dionysus.

The lamp, which was discovered in a ditch in 1840, has been the subject of academic debate for decades, and a comprehensive and satisfactory explanation for the lamp has been inconclusive.

It originates from the Etruscan civilisation of Archaic Etruria (present-day Tuscany and parts of Umbria), a culture that flourished between 900 BC and 27 BC in three confederacies of cities: that of Etruria (Tuscany, Latium and Umbria), that of the Po Valley with the eastern Alps, and that of Campania.

The Etruscan civilisation was absorbed into the expanding Roman Republic in the late 4th century BC as a result of the Roman–Etruscan Wars.

Very few examples of similar objects (‘comparanda’) have been discovered in Etruscan or Ancient Greek art, making a comparison to provide context or an interpretation difficult.

Previous studies of the lamp’s decorative motifs have suggested that 16 bull-shaped horned figures depict the Greek river god Achelous. However, according to a new study, published in De Gruyter’s Etruscan and Italic Studies, the lamp originates from around 480 BC and depicts Dionysus, the Ancient Greek god of wine and pleasure, often portrayed with bull features.

This interpretation is based on various literary sources and iconographic evidence, as the cult of Dionysus was strongly associated with satyrs, centaurs, and sileni, and one of the cult’s characteristic symbols was the bull.

Lead author Alburz said: “The lamp was probably an object associated with the mystery cult of Dionysus. Its decoration represents the Dionysian thiasus, perhaps engaged in a cultic performance in the cosmos of the mysteries in celebration of Dionysus.”

Header Image Credit : MAEC webpage, edited by R. Alburz

Sources : Etruscan and Italic Studies | A Re-Evaluation of the Iconography of the Etruscan Bronze Lamp of Cortona

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

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Archaeology

Study reveals new insights into life at “German Stonehenge”

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Excavations of the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, nicknamed the “German Stonehenge”, has revealed new insights into domestic life from prehistory.

Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is a late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age henge from the late third millennium BC. The monument features seven concentric rings made of palisades, ditches, and raised banks, each containing a series of wooden posts.

The site was discovered in 1991 through aerial photography near the present-day village of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

From 2018 to 2022, archaeologists have excavated nearly 140 ancient dwellings dating from 2,800 BC to 2,200 BC. The older dwellings are linked to the Corded Ware and the Bell Beaker culture, while the more recent ones are associated with the Únětice Culture.

In a recent study conducted by the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) of Saxony-Anhalt, archaeologists are employing various scientific methods to offer new insights into the site’s ritual and settlement landscape.

The study has identified house locations of the Corded Ware culture (26th to 23rd century BC), and an associated settlement pit containing ceramic sherds, an axe head and flint blades. Until now, Corded Ware settlement could only be attributed to individual finds that had been relocated, and not to actual structures on the site.

Also associated with the Corded Ware culture is a storage area with 78 grain silo pits that held various types of gain, including wheat, barley, and spelt. Archaeologists already know that Corded Ware people lived on a balanced diet with animal products, further indicated by drinking vessels from burials at Ringheiligtum Pömmelte that contained traces of dairy products.

While the scientific analyses and the interpretation of the results with various specialists continue, excavations at Pömmelte will last until mid-July 2024.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

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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