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Ancient Syrian diets are similar to the modern “mediterranean diet”

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A study of agropastoral and dietary practices of people living in ancient Syria has revealed that they lived on a diet similar to the modern “mediterranean diet”.

According to a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, people living in Tell Tweini, an ancient settlement from the Bronze Age near the Syrian coastal city of Jableh, lived mostly on grains, grapes, olives, and small amounts of meat and dairy.

Archaeologists from the University of Leuven and the University of Tübingen conducted an isotopic analysis of plants, animal, and human remains, providing a road map of how nutrients flowed through the food chain and agricultural systems.

The results indicate that during the Middle Bronze Age (2000 to 1600 BC), the inhabitants had a low level of nitrogen isotopes, suggesting that they mostly ate plants such as gains and olives.

However, excavations have also unearthed the remains of sheep, goats and cattle from this period, indicating that animals were occasionally used as a protein source and were also used for milk.

According to the paper, the diet is very similar to the modern “Mediterranean diet” and comes with several health benefits. The diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers, depression, and provide better mental and physical function.

The authors add: “Thanks to the interdisciplinary and technical progress of archaeological science, we can not only speculate on the existence of a long cultural tradition of the Mediterranean diet through taxonomic and typological determinations, but also extend these findings through additional analyses, e.g. of stable isotopes in human, animal and plant remains, and thus contribute to a better understanding of the emergence of cultural traditions in their anchoring in environmental and social dynamics.”

Header Image Credit : U0045269 – CC BY-SA 3.0

Sources : Agropastoral and dietary practices of the northern Levant facing Late Holocene climate and environmental change: Isotopic analysis of plants, animals and humans from Bronze to Iron Age Tell Tweini. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0301775

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

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Archaeology

Elite Petén style structures found near Kohunlich

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Construction works for a road in Section 7 of the Mayan Train have uncovered elite Petén style structures near Kohunlich in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Kohunlich is a large Maya polity that served as a regional centre along the trade routes through the southern Yucatán.

The site was first settled around 200 BC, with the majority of its monuments being built between AD 250 to AD 600 during the Early Classic Period.

The city features elevated platforms, plazas, pyramids, and citadels, all enclosed by palace platforms. The layout of Kohunlich was carefully arranged to direct drainage into a network of cisterns and a massive reservoir for rainwater collection.

Construction works for a road on the periphery of Kohunlich have resulted in the discovery of elite structures in the Petén style, a distinct type of Maya architecture and inscription style.

Archaeologists have identified seven structures in total, interpreted to be elite homesteads of a domestic nature that were used for agricultural activities.

Most of the structures have a rectangular plan and vaulted rooms adorned with decorative Petén style elements.

Given their archaeological importance, experts from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have registered the monuments for protection.

Consequently, the planned route of the road has been redirected to preserve the structures in situ, where they will be preserved and open to the public in the near future.

Excavations also unearthed various archaeological materials, including ceramics, shells, fragments of human bone, and objects intentionally buried as offerings likely during the construction of the homesteads for protection.

Header Image Credit : Maya Train

Sources : National Institute of Anthropology and History

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

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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

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