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Ancient Pueblo used conch-shell trumpets for communication

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A new study, published in the journal Antiquity, suggests that the ancient Pueblo culture used conch-shell trumpets for communication.

The focus of the study is the site of the Chaco Canyon in north-west New Mexico. Located in Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Chaco Canyon contains numerous small dwellings and multi-story buildings known as great houses.

Based on the density of structures, archaeologists speculate that the site was once a bustling metropolis, inhabited by as many as 2,300 people during its height from AD 1050 to 1130.

Conch-shell trumpets have been found in burial contexts at Chaco Canyon, which today are used in contemporary Pueblo ritual practices.

Using a Soundshed Analysis model, archaeologists have digitally modelled the sound of a conch-shell trumpet being sounded at a great house in relation to other features in the landscape. Soundshed Analysis calculates the distance a sound can travel from a point, taking into account both the type of sound and environmental conditions such as elevation and ambient noise.

“Chaco Canyon is surrounded by over one hundred understudied great house communities”, says lead author Professor Ruth Van Dyke from Binghamton University. “We sought to determine if extra-canyon great house communities demonstrated relationships similar to Chaco Canyon between landscape, community layout, and sound.”

In this case, the team modelled the sound of a conch from great houses at five Chacoan communities to determine whether it would reach all habitation sites within the community.

They found that if somebody blew a conch-shell trumpet from the great house at the centre of all five Chacoan communities, the sound would have reached almost all of the surrounding settlements.

This suggests that ancient Puebloans may have managed their land-use and community structures around the sound of trumpets. The sound was potentially used to signal communal activities, such as religious ceremonies.

“This is not unlike the idea of a medieval church bell calling a community to mass”, states Professor Van Dyke.

It also indicates how Chacoan heritage sites should be managed going forward.

“Soundscapes were meaningful dimensions of past experiences, landscapes, and environments and are important facets of social interaction in the ancient world,” observes Professor Van Dyke. “Management of archaeological and heritage sites should incorporate consideration of the auditory environment.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Antiquity | Seashells and sound waves: modelling soundscapes in Chacoan great-house communities – Ruth M. Van Dyke, Kristy E. Primeau, Kellam Throgmorton & David E. Witt. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2024.54

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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