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Dragon sculpture found on the Jiankou section of the Great Wall of China

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Archaeologists conducting restoration works on the Jiankou section of the Great Wall of China have discovered an ornate dragon sculpture.

The Great Wall of China refers to a series of fortifications that were built across the historical northern borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China.

The wall served multiple purposes: it defended against nomadic invaders from the Eurasian Steppe, provided border control for goods along the Silk Road, and regulated immigration and emigration.

The Jiankou section of the wall, located 100 km’s north of Beijing, runs along a series of jagged mountains for a length of 20 km’s. This section was built in the 1500s and early 1600s during the Ming Dynasty, where it has been left relatively untouched and reclaimed by nature over the centuries.

The discovery was made by members of the Beijing Institute of Archaeology, who were exploring a collapsed defensive tower (tower No. 12) in a dense forested area on a mountain ridge.

While excavating a corridor within the tower’s interior, archaeologists unexpectedly came across an architectural element with carved scales. As they removed additional layers of soil, a tail emerged, followed by claws, and eventually the head of a carved dragon sculpture was revealed.

Shang Heng from the Beijing Institute of Archaeology, said: “You can see that the scales on its body are very delicate, and the details of the mouth, eyes, nose, etc. are all carved. It can be imagined that in the Ming Dynasty, the enemy tower No. 120 was very tall and magnificent, and the architectural details were also very exquisite.”

According to the archaeologists, the sculpture would originally have been positioned on the roof of the tower, indicating that the defender of the tower held a high status in the Ming Imperial army.

Excavations also uncovered a palm-sized black and red “iron rod” with a semicircular ring, identified as the sub-gun of a Portuguese lance first introduced from Europe during the Jiajing period of the Ming Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Pan Zhiwang

Sources : The Institute of Archaeology CASS

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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