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Study suggests that Egyptian sky-goddess symbolises the Milky Way

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In Ancient Egyptian religion, Nut was the celestial goddess of the sky, stars, the cosmos, astronomy, and the universe in its whole.

Varies depictions portray her naked and covered in stars, arching in a position that encompasses the semi-sphere of the visible sky from the perspective of the earth.

The Ancient Egyptians had knowledge of the Sun, Moon, and planets, which held strong significance within their religious beliefs. However, the precise role the Milky Way played in Egyptian religion and culture has remained ambiguous.

A new paper, published in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, draws on ancient Egyptian sources such as the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, and the Book of Nut, and compared them alongside simulations of the nights sky.

According to the study authors, Nut was a symbolic representation of the Milky Way, as during winter, the galaxy is illuminated in Nut’s outstretched arms, whereas in summer, it followed her backbone across the heavens.

Associate Professor in Astrophysics, Dr Or Graur, said: “I chanced upon the sky-goddess Nut when I was writing a book on galaxies and looking into the mythology of the Milky Way. I took my daughters to a museum and they were enchanted by this image of an arched woman and kept asking to hear stories about her.

Dr Graur also proposes that Nut’s role of protecting the dead when they enter the afterlife, and her connection to the annual bird migration, are consistent with how other cultures understand the Milky Way. For example, as a spirits’ road among different peoples in North and Central America or as the Birds’ Path in Finland and the Baltics.

“My research shows how combining disciplines can offer new insights into ancient beliefs, and it highlights how astronomy connects humanity across cultures, geography, and time. This paper is an exciting start to a larger project to catalogue and study the multicultural mythology of the Milky Way.”

Header Image Credit : iStock

Sources : University of Portsmouth | The Ancient Egyptian Personification Of The Milky Way As The Sky-goddess Nut: An Astronomical And Cross-cultural Analysis

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

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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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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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