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Study confirms palace of King Ghezo was site of voodoo blood rituals

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A study, published in the journal Proteomics, presents new evidence to suggest that voodoo blood rituals were performed at the palace of King Ghezo.

Ghezo was King of Dahomey (present-day Republic of Benin) from 1818 until 1858. His reign is defined by several important military victories, domestic dissent, and the transformation of the slave trade economy.

His kingdom was an important regional power with a domestic economy built on conquest and slave labour.

Raids against neighbouring nations provided captive slaves to trade in exchange for European goods. Some slaves were also forced into servitude on Dahomey’s royal plantations, or were killed in human sacrifices during festival celebrations.

The palace of King Ghezo is located in the city of Abomey, the former capital of Dahomey and the present-day capital of the Zou department in southern Benin.

According to legend, the walls of several structures in the palace were made using a mixture of red oil and lustral water mixed with the blood of 41 sacrificial victims (41 is a sacred number in voodoo).

Samples of mortal material were taken from two sacred huts that served as specific funerary structures within the palace complex. The researchers conducted a metaproteomics analysis of the samples, revealing traces of a variety of organisms, including several indicators attested to the presence of human and poultry blood.

Blood is an integral part of voodoo rituals, while animal blood (in particular chicken blood), is used to animate a fetish (totem or wooden statue).

According to the study authors: “Our comprehensive inventory of protein material was used to archaeologically reconstruct voodoo consecration and vitality maintenance rituals. Several indicators attested to the presence of traces of human and poultry blood in the collected material. Thus, we confirmed that the wall binder is made of human blood, a conclusion that could not have been reached with nucleic acid sequencing approaches.”

Header Image Credit : King Ghezo – 1859 – Public Domain

Sources : Metaproteomic analysis of King Ghezo tomb wall (Abomey, Benin) confirms 19th century voodoo sacrifices. https://doi.org/10.1002/pmic.202400048

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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