10 Fascinating New Discoveries Involving Ancient Gods

Post 8094

10 Fascinating New Discoveries Involving Ancient Gods



The gods of old still command our attention. They still have a lot to reveal about the cults of yesteryear and even the extinct cultures who believed in them. Some have been abandoned or adopted and found in unusual places. But perhaps the most intriguing are the newcomers—the gods and goddesses who reveal their names for the first time while others continue to defy identification.

10The Israeli Complex


Photo credit: techtimes.com

On the banks of Nahal Guvrin sits the ghostly traces of Canaanite worship. The site of Tel Burna produced scorched animal bones and sacrificial artifacts, prompting Israeli archaeologists to credit the 3,300-year-old temple complex to a cult.

The vast site was used as their home and religious center. Since there is no neon sign with the honored god’s name, experts are casting their vote for either the Canaanite storm god Baal or war goddess Anat.

However, it’s more likely that the flourishing community revolved around Baal adoration. Not a lot is clear about the cult’s everyday life, but other items found at the site indicate a people who traded technology and cultural influences with other civilizations, including Egypt and Cyprus.


9Dumpster Deity


Photo credit: BBC

When a severed head was found in County Durham, it thankfully wasn’t the start of a murder mystery. A first-year archaeology student found the 1,800-year-old stone carving while digging at Binchester Roman Fort.

Made from sandstone, the stone head intrigued researchers with its looks. A mix of classical Roman and local Romano-British styles, its features fit those of a Celtic god called Antenociticus.

The head was discovered near another religious artifact, a Roman altar unearthed two years earlier. In fact, they might have been part of the same shrine. It would appear that the deity lost its following when the building fell out of favor around the fourth century AD.

The 20-centimeter (8 in) head was dumped and forgotten. His real story remains as lost as the rest of his body, but archaeologists feel this is most likely the regional war god Antenociticus.

8The Sekhmet Collection


Photo credit: ibtimes.co.uk

In the Egyptian pantheon, the goddess Sekhmet was bodyguard to the pharaohs. She was fierce and feminine at the same time—always shown as a lithe woman with a lion’s head.

At the Temple of Amenhotep III, once the biggest mortuary center around Thebes, eight statues of Sekhmet were discovered. Made from black granite, two show the feline goddess standing upright and the rest seated on a throne.

Sadly, only three are partially intact. The standing Sekhmets are merely torsos holding sacred artifacts such as the papyrus scepter and ankh. Each throned figure also clasps the symbol of life in her right hand.

Found with them was another headless (and limb-lacking) piece of black granite. Archaeologists determined that it was once a statue of Amenhotep III, the 13th-century BC pharaoh who took Egypt to the height of its power.


7The Brand-New God


Photo credit: smithsonianmag.com

An unknown god defies identification. Discovered on an ancient wall in Turkey, he has no equal. The relief figure, shown rising between leaves, seems to be a complex hybrid.

The site’s 2,000-year-old religious history is as mixed as the mutant god. A sacred Iron Age building was later adapted by worshipers of Jupiter Dolichenus, another hybrid but known god.

During the Middle Ages, a Christian monastery took over and sealed the basalt relief into a wall. When it was rediscovered, symbols surrounding the god deepened the confusing anonymity. Two symbols have associations with other gods—the rosette with the Mesopotamian god Ishtar and the crescent Moon with the lunar god Sin.

The unknown god’s beard denotes Roman influence, but the scene’s design is somehow Iron Age. Unless another image of this mystery man is found along with some tangible information, his name will never be known.

6A God’s Grave


Photo credit: history.com

In the 1880s, archaeologist Philippe Virey became the first to set foot in a tomb located in Luxor, Egypt. While it was an impressive find, nobody guessed the real reason behind its construction. Recently, when excavations revealed additional chambers, the amazing truth come out—it was the tomb of the Egyptian god Osiris.

Unfortunately, there was no holy corpse because the site was merely symbolic. No deceased deity would ever rest there in peace, but the builders didn’t skimp on grandeur. To honor the judge and ruler of the underworld, Osiris’s tomb was designed as a royal one.

There are many shafts and chambers, some richly decorated while others still wait to reveal their contents. There is also a large hall supported by five pillars with a staircase leading down to a complex with a carving of Osiris.

5Love At Petra


Photo credit: archaeology.org

Next to another staircase, Aphrodite awaited discovery. Researchers exploring the ancient desert city of Petra found a pair of statues beautifully crafted from marble. Both show the goddess of love in good condition, and one even has a tiny Cupid at her feet.

The two Aphrodites were a complete surprise. Digging took place in an area thought to be a lower-class home, but it turned out to be a first-century luxury villa. The Nabataeans, the culture that built the stone city, habitually incorporated influences from other nations.

When the Romans invaded Nabataea in AD 106, the locals appeared to have adopted their queen of hearts as well. The figures still have some of their original paint and were sculpted in the second century AD. They provide a fresh view on how Roman occupation influenced Nabataean art and perhaps worship.


4The Mayan Frieze


Photo credit: CBS News

Tomb robbers just missed a large treasure when they tunneled underneath a pyramid in Guatemala. It wasn’t a chest stuffed with precious jewels but a stretch of stone. Measuring 8 meters (26 ft) by 2 meters (6 ft), the elaborate wall sculpture is packed with images of Mayan gods and deified rulers busy with a crowning ceremony.

Even though it was created 2,000 years ago, the artwork is well-preserved and pigments of red, blue, yellow, and green still survive. It’s a happy find for archaeologists.

At the bottom of the rare relief, an inscription states that the building was erected by King Ajwosaj, a notable leader in Mayan history. The discovery of the frieze reveals how far-reaching the royal’s political and religious power really was and how he claimed to have restored the gods to their rightful place.



Photo credit: dailysabah.com

In Turkey, a priceless statue weighing a whopping 200 kilograms (440 lb) was found in the ruins of a fort. Known as Cybele, the mother goddess of Anatolia, she’s shown as a pregnant woman sitting on a throne.

Unlike many old statues—and this one is around 2,100 years old—she’s nearly undamaged. Her presence indicates that the fortress of Kurul was once a site of importance, which was probably why it suffered a particularlybrutal Roman assault. On that day, the entrance walls caved in on Cybele. But instead of crushing the sculpture, it entombed her safely until she was rediscovered.

Ironically, the goddess is associated with walls. She’s also a fertility deity connected to mountains and wild animals. The marble creation is the first ancient statue in Turkey’s history to be discovered in its original position.

2Uni And Tina


Photo credit: Science Newsline

The culture of the Etruscans is lost. Since they recorded the written word mostly on perishable wax and linen, little is known about them. But a dig in Tuscany gave researchers a much-needed break.

One of the longest inscriptions of the Etruscans’ extinct language was identified on a sandstone stele. Experts deciphered two names—Uni, their fertility goddess, and Tina, their main god.

The temple site, Poggio Colla, previously yielded the oldest birth art in Europe. Now that Uni’s name has come up, it’s likely that a fertility cult worshiped the goddess there.

If true, it’s remarkable because it remains difficult to match Etruscan temples with their in-house gods or goddesses. Hailed as the best find in years, the 225-kilogram (500 lb) stele is expected to reveal new words as well as religious rituals and laws.

1Rediscovery Of Senua


Photo credit: The Guardian

When a treasure cache arose in a Hertfordshire field, it soon became clear that it contained temple offerings to a highly regarded goddess. Plaques of precious metals were between the jewelry.

Some plaques bore messages, thanking the goddess for her favors. Several also carried the symbols of the Roman goddess Minerva (owl, spear, and shield), but nowhere was the name written. To better read the faded writings, the plaques were X-rayed. A name emerged, but shockingly, it wasn’t Minerva. It was the name of an entirely unknown British goddess called Senua.

Hoping to find out more, researchers returned to the same field. Incredibly, they found her—a dainty statuette made of silver. The 1,600-year-old female figure was named by its dislodged base, but Senua’s face remains unknown. It’s missing along with her arms.

10 Notorious Bushrangers Who Terrorized The Outback

Post 8093

10 Notorious Bushrangers Who Terrorized The Outback



The word “outlaw” probably calls to mind the Wild West, where desperadoes like Billy the Kid and Jesse James carved out a place in history. But the Australian outback was every bit as wild. The bandits who flourished there were even more ruthless and outlandish than the gunslingers we know and love.

10Black Caesar


Photo credit: kentakepage.com

In 1787, John Caesar was part of the “First Fleet” that established the prison colony at Botany Bay. He was of African descent and became known as “Black Caesar” in Australia, where he was renowned for his strength and toughness. When the famous Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy attacked a work party, Caesar cemented his reputation by personally taking Pemulwuy on and nearly killing him.

In 1789, Caesar escaped into the bush with a stolen musket. But game was scarce. He had to support himself by lurking near the colony and stealing what he could, which soon led to his recapture. He remained defiant and told his jailers that if he was hanged, he intended to “create a laugh before he was turned off, by playing some trick upon the executioner.”

Caesar made another escape months later but returned after being speared by local Aborigines. He escaped a third time in 1795, this time leading a gang of escaped prisoners who raided the Port Jackson area. He was shot by bounty hunters the next year.


9Gentleman Brady


Photo credit: findagrave.com

After being transported to Australia, Matthew Brady challenged the brutal colonial regime and was flogged multiple times before he finally escaped in 1824. He became a bandit and soon earned respect for his “gentleman” persona—he was always polite to his victims and let women go unharmed.

Governor George Arthur soon offered a large reward for his capture. Brady daringly responded by posting a counteroffer which read: “It has caused Matthew Brady much concern that such a person as Sir George Arthur is at large. Twenty gallons of rum . . . to any person who can deliver him to me.”

The flamboyant criminal was eventually captured by Batman (settler John Batman, that is).



Jandamarra worked as a tracker for the Western Australian police. One day, he and a white officer named Richardson arrested a group of resisters—including Jandamarra’s uncle—from Jandamarra’s Bunuba tribe. While Richardson slept, the Bunuba begged Jandamarra not to betray his people. Overcome by remorse, he shot Richardson and unchained the Bunuba.

Escaping into the Kimberley, Jandamarra became the most famous outlaw in the country, leading a guerrilla war against the settlers. Europeans were amazed by his ability to elude pursuit and go barefoot over terrain that ripped their boots to threads. In one famous incident, the police thought they had Jandamarra cornered in a cave, when he had really slipped out a secret exit and was raiding their police station.

The authorities eventually brought in an aboriginal tracker named Micki from a distant part of the country. In 1897, Micki pursued Jandamarra to his hideout and the two faced off on the edge of a cliff. Jandamarra missed, but Micki’s shot hit Jandamarra in the chest, sending him into the ravine where the police later recovered his body.


7Teddy The Jewboy


The only known Jewish bushranger was Edward Davis, known at the time as “Teddy the Jewboy.” In 1832, he was transported to Australia for stealing but insisted that he had been wrongly convicted. He simply could not get over this injustice and made numerous escape attempts.

After his fourth escape, he formed a gang of bushrangers who roamed across New South Wales. The band was an unusual sight. They dressed in flashy clothes and tied pink ribbons to their horses. Davis bore “curious tattoos” and enjoyed acting like Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and sharing the loot with their impoverished servants.

Davis hated violence, but one of his gang inevitably killed someone. Although Davis wasn’t present for the murder, he eventually hanged for it. He apparently showed great remorse and went to his death accompanied by the reader of Sydney Synagogue.

6Sam Poo


Photo credit: dailyliberal.com.au

Sam Poo was a Chinese immigrant who came to Australia to work as a miner around 1864. Soon, he found that holding up travelers was more to his liking and became notorious for robberies and rapes along the Mudgee Road.

Disguised as a civilian, a trooper named John Ward was sent to travel the road in the hope that the elusive Poo would take the bait. Sure enough, trooper and outlaw were soon locked in a lengthy running gunfight through an abandoned goldfield dubbed Barney’s Reef.

Ward was eventually shot in the chest. Poo looted Ward’s body and left him to die, but he clung to life until a local rancher found him the next day. Just before Ward died a short time later, he gasped, “Take care of my wife and children.”

An Aboriginal tracker known as Harry Hughes then offered to track down Poo. After another massive gunfight, a trooper shot Poo in the leg and Hughes finished the job with his rifle butt.

5Martin Cash


Photo credit: abc.net.au

In 1827, Martin Cash was sent to Australia after shooting a romantic rival in the buttocks. He escaped from prison three times over the next few years. His final breakout was from the supposedly escape-proof Port Arthur jail. Despite the prison’s reputation, Cash and two others were able to swim across a shark-infested bay to safety.

When not in prison, Cash was one of Australia’s most notorious bushrangers, attacking travelers and raiding isolated settlements. In 1843, he was finally captured and sentenced to death but received a last-minute reprieve. He later moved to New Zealand, where he became a police officer until he was fired for also running a brothel.


4Moondyne Joe


Photo credit: Alfred Chopin

Moondyne Joe’s actual crimes were nothing to write home about—mostly raiding chicken coops and stealing horses. But he wrote himself into Australian history with his multiple daring escapes from prison.

Born Joseph Bolitho Johns circa 1826, “Moondyne” made his first escape from prison after he was arrested for stealing a horse. (As part of the getaway, he stole the same horse again.) Over the next few years, he escaped from prison three more times. Frustrated, the prison built a special escape-proof cell using over 1,000 nails and huge planks of wood.

Joe’s health deteriorated while locked in the tiny cell, and he was eventually allowed to break rocks in the prison yard. Obscuring his blows behind a pile of stones, Joe actually used the pick to break a hole in the wall, making his fifth and final escape in 1867.

3Friendly Dan Priest


Photo credit: Martybugs

Known as “Friendly Bushranger,” Daniel Priest terrorized Tasmania in one of the most well-mannered crime sprees in history. He was always polite to his victims and never took more than they could afford. He even conducted one armed robbery in a whisper after hearing that a sick child was sleeping upstairs.

When he was arrested in 1845, Priest congratulated the arresting officer and then cheerfully admitted to everything at his trial, saying that he would “deny nothing that’s true.” He also told the police where to find the rest of his loot.

Priest’s death sentence was reduced to 10 years in prison after many of his victims signed a petition calling for him to be treated mercifully.

2John Donohoe


Photo credit: Sir Thomas Mitchell

John Donohoe was transported from Dublin in 1823. He was assigned to work on the estate of a local doctor but escaped and began holding up wealthy travelers in the area. It was said that he always acted with style and once gave a landowner his watch back because he had a good reputation. However, cruel overseers risked being left tied to an anthill.

Donohoe was captured and sentenced to death in 1828, but he escaped and resumed his bushranging career. Before long, he was the most feared outlaw in Australia. A local later recalled meeting Donohoe, who “was the most insignificant looking creature imaginable, and it seemed strange that he was able to keep a country in terror for eight years.”

Donohoe was killed in a shoot-out in 1830 while daring the police to “come on, using the most insulting and indecent epithets.”

1Captain Moonlite


Photo credit: Charles Nettleton

A veteran of New Zealand’s Maori Wars, Andrew George Scott arrived in Australia in 1867. Two years later, a masked figure held up a local bank, leaving a classy note saying that the teller wasn’t to blame. It was signed “Captain Moonlite.” Ungratefully, the teller in question told the authorities that the robber was clearly Scott.

While serving time for the crime, Scott dug through the walls of his cell and escaped but was quickly recaptured. Combined with the catchy “Captain Moonlite” nickname, the escape made him a celebrity. He was unable to get work when he was released because everyone thought he was a ruthless bushranger. With nowhere else to turn, Scott decided to actually become a ruthless bushranger, holding up an isolated hotel and killing a police officer in a shoot-out.

The police fired back, killing a member of Scott’s gang named James Nesbitt, who was probably his lover. Scott later wrote that Nesbitt “died in my arms. His death has broken my heart.”

Scott went to the gallows wearing a ring of Nesbitt’s hair. In 1995, his body was moved to a grave next to Nesbitt’s in accordance with Scott’s final wishes.

10 Forgotten Female Warriors Who Shocked The Ancient World

Post 8092

10 Forgotten Female Warriors Who Shocked The Ancient World



Ancient warfare was dominated by men, who have natural advantages when it comes to wielding a sword, drawing a bow, or dying of dysentery in some squalid camp. But every so often a powerful woman would come along to shock the ancient world by leading her armies into battle. Proud male warriors often underestimated these women, usually with fatal results.



Photo credit: ancient.eu

Cynane was the daughter of Philip of Macedon and the half-sister of Alexander the Great. Her mother was from Illyria, a region with a tradition of female warriors, and she taught Cynane to ride, fight, and shoot. In fact, as a teenager, Cynane supposedly accompanied a Macedonian invasion of Illyria and killed the Illyrian queen in single combat.

That may not be true, but Cynane was certainly a power player at the Macedonian court. Alexander tried to marry her to a distant chief to get her out of the way, but the chief mysteriously dropped dead before the wedding. Rumors of poison ensured that nobody else would try to marry Cynane against her will.

After Alexander died, his mentally disabled brother succeeded him as Philip III and there was a scramble to see who would become the power behind the throne. Cynane raised an army and marched on Babylon, intending to marry her daughter to Philip. This alarmed the regent Perdiccas, who sent an army under Antipater to stop her. But Cynane defeated Antipater at Strymon and continued toward Babylon.

In desperation, Perdiccas sent Cynane’s old friend Alcetus to assassinate her at a meeting. But the plan backfired. The Greek army was so horrified at the murder of Alexander’s sister that they demanded that Cynane’s daughter marry Philip as she had wished. Even in death, Cynane got her way.




Photo credit: Alchetron

During the reign of the Emperor Valens, an alliance of seminomadic Arab tribesmen burst across the border and invaded Roman Palestine. The Arabs were led by a woman named Mavia, who personally led her troops into battle. The Romans thought this was hilarious. In fact, when the commander of Palestine summoned reinforcements, he was effectively dismissed from his post for needing help to fight a woman.

Mavia soon taught them a lesson, crushing the Roman forces in battle. According to the historian Sozomen, the dismissed Roman commander actually redeemed himself by charging into the fray and rescuing the general who had fired him.

In any case, the Romans decided that Queen Mavia had to be taken seriously and sent negotiators to reach a diplomatic solution. Mavia’s main demand was that a monk named Moses be appointed to replace the current Arab bishop, suggesting that her invasion was religious in nature.

8Lu’s Mother


Lu’s mother didn’t even leave us her name, but she certainly made her presence felt in Ancient China. Around AD 14, a minor official named Lu was unjustly executed by the local magistrate.

Lu’s mother was heartbroken at the death of her son and became determined to get her revenge. Since she came from a family of wealthy wine merchants, she was able to build up support by generously offering gifts and credit to the local peasants.

By the time she was in her sixties, Lu’s mother had built up a loyal network of several hundred local youths. She recruited more supporters from the outlaws who had taken refuge on a nearby island.

Once her forces were strong enough, she launched an outright rebellion and took control of the entire district. The magistrate who had executed her son begged for mercy. But she responded that her son had died for a petty crime, so it was only fair that his murderer should also get the death sentence.

After Lu’s mother died, her supporters joined the Red Eyebrows, a group of rebels who painted their faces and played an important part in overthrowing Emperor Wang Mang.




Photo credit: co-geeking.com

Rhodogune was a Parthian princess in the second century BC. According to the Greek historian Polyaenus, the fearsome Rhodogune was taking a bath one day when she heard that a local tribe was revolting. She immediately jumped out of the water and vowed not to bathe or wash her hair until the rebels were defeated.

Unfortunately, the war that followed was “tedious,” but the revolting Rhodogune eventually led her forces to victory against the revolting rebels. She immediately retired to her bath and thoroughly washed her hair. However, Polyaenus says that her statues and seals always depicted her with unkempt hair from that day on in honor of her great and smelly victory.

6The Trung Sisters


Photo credit: Ancient Origins

The Trung sisters are considered heroes of Vietnam for leading the resistance against the invading Chinese Han dynasty. Trung Trac was married to Thi Sach, a Vietnamese nobleman who organized a secret plan to rise up against the Chinese. When the Han got wind of this and murdered Thi Sach, Trung Trac took over as leader of the movement.

Together with her sister, Trung Nhi, Trung Trac gathered an army and put the Chinese forces to flight. In AD 39, the sisters declared themselves joint queens of an independent Vietnamese state. However, the Han empire struck back, sending a huge army which overwhelmed the Trung forces. Refusing to be captured, the sisters drowned themselves in a river around AD 43.

5Lady Trieu


Photo credit: Badass of the Week

When asked why she never married, Lady Trieu famously declared, “I wish to ride a strong wind and tame fierce waves, kill sharks in the Eastern sea, force back the Chinese armies, and throw off the chains of slavery. How could I possibly accept to be some man’s servant?”

Like the Trung sisters, Trieu was a Vietnamese woman who led a rebel armyagainst the Chinese. Her rebellion was smaller and more localized that the Trung sisters’ uprising, but Trieu was every bit as fierce. In later years, she took on mythological characteristics, including yard-long breasts which she threw back over her shoulders so they wouldn’t get in the way during battle.

The brief accounts of her life indicate that she was eventually defeated and took her own life around AD 248.




In classic sitcom style, Amanirenas was a tough woman who had to fix a disaster caused by her idiot husband. The warrior queen was the wife of King Teriteqas of Nubia, who had foolishly attacked Roman Egypt. When the Romans struck back, Teriteqas died of disease, leaving Amanirenas ruling Egypt as regent for their young son.

Fortunately, Amanirenas was more than up to the challenge. Roman sources describe her as a giant of a woman, blind in one eye and tough as nails. After escaping a Roman siege of Napata, she raised an army and marched on the fortress of Premnis. The legions soon arrived, but neither side was keen on a pitched battle. Instead, Amanirenas sent ambassadors to Emperor Augustus, who agreed to her demands and signed a lasting peace treaty.

3Princess Pingyang


Photo credit: Badass of the Week

Princess Pingyang was the daughter of Li Yuan, who founded the Tang dynasty. When Li Yuan launched his rebellion, Pingyang was sent to the family estate for safety. Instead, she built a peasant army, known as the Woman’s Army in her honor. (Later legends claiming that it was an army of women seem to be incorrect.)

With this force, Pingyang seized control of Huxian County and defeated a Sui dynasty army sent to stop her. She then marched north with 10,000 men,destroying the Sui forces in Shaanxi. In AD 617, she combined with her father to capture the Sui capital. She became the first woman to take the title of Marshal but then suddenly died at age 23.



Hydna of Scione was the daughter of a Greek professional diver who taught her to swim from a young age. After defeating the Spartans at Thermopylae, the Persians marched on Athens while their navy sailed down the coast. When a storm blew up, Hydna and her father volunteered to cut the Persian anchors.

To complete this feat, father and daughter had to swim 16 kilometers (10 mi) across a storm-tossed bay and then dive down and saw through the Persian cables, all while avoiding detection. Amazingly, they succeeded and the Persian fleet was wrecked. The grateful Greeks erected a statue of the divers, which was later stolen by Nero.

1Fu Hao


Photo credit: i-china.org

Fu Hao might be the oldest and greatest female general in ancient history. She was the wife of Wu Ding, who ruled Shang dynasty China from around 1250 to 1190 BC.

While such ancient history can often be mixed with legend, it’s certain that Fu Hao served as a general because many inscribed oracle bones dated to her lifetime ask questions related to her military campaigns. Her tomb has also been found and contains weapons and other martial trappings.

According to the archaeologists who have unearthed her story, Fu Hao was her husband’s main general. Her greatest victory came against the Tu-Fang, ancient enemies of the Shang whom she defeated so thoroughly that they were never a threat again.

She led three other confirmed military campaigns, all of them great successes. It seems that she was a cunning strategist, luring the Bafang army into a deadly ambush. She died of exhaustion shortly after this triumph and was buried with great honor.

10 Mysterious Ancient Buildings

Post 8091

10 Mysterious Ancient Buildings



When people in the ancient world found gigantic ruins, they often described them as Cyclopean—as if only mythical Cyclops could have built such things. We tend not to go in for such legendary explanations today, but plenty of mysterious buildings from the past are still provoking debate. We may not know who built them, or even why.

10Nan Madol


Photo credit: NOAA

Nan Madol in Micronesia is an ancient city built on a hundred tiny islets in the sea. This watery location has led to Nan Madol being called the Venice of the Pacific. The buildings and walls of the city are constructed of huge blocks of basalt columns and coral. How the city came to be built is the subject of myth among locals.

Two brother wizards, Olisihpa and Olosohpa, arrived from over the sea in a giant canoe. They sought to set up a place to worship the god of the sea and the god of good harvest. Their first two attempts to bring stones to the bay failed. It was only when they used the magic of a dragon to levitate the blocks that they managed to build the city. Descendants of the wizards ruled the city until it was abandoned.

Nan Madol is still being explored to work out how it was constructed. To build the city, the inhabitants, who lacked pulleys and metal tools, would have had to move almost 2,000 tons of stone a year, each year, for 400 years.




Photo credit: Wikimedia

Teotihuacan is home to some of the largest Pre-Columbian structures in the Americas. At one time, it had a population of over 100,000, making it one of the largest cities in the world. Despite this pre-eminence we have almost no idea of who founded the city.

It seems to have been founded around 200 BC, about a 1,000 years before the Aztec period. The city is dominated by pyramids. The largest, the Pyramid of the Sun, is the third-largest in the world.

As mysterious as the city’s founding is its abandonment. Different theories have been given as to why the inhabitants left the large city. Was it revolt by the lower classes? External invasion? No evidence of either has been discovered, so it is still an open question.

8Puma Punku


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Puma Punku in Bolivia has attracted great attention ever since its discovery. Blocks of stone cut with precise lines and holes dot the temple complex. One weighs over 130 tons. So strange and carefully carved are the stones that they have been claimed by believers in Ancient Aliens as proof of extraterrestrial visitation. Quite why aliens would wish to build a temple in Bolivia is yet another mystery.

Puma Punku was built without mortar to hold the stones together. To hold the walls up each stone was cut to interlock exactly with its neighbors. This would be skilled work even today. Further, the stones used to build the site were quarried about 50 miles away. Puma Punku has been much damaged by time and looting. At one time, it may have been richly decorated, and so its role and purpose might have been easier to discern. Carbon dating of deposits show that it must have been built at some time after AD 530.


7Derinkuyu Underground City


Photo credit: Nevit Dilmen

Imagine building a city for 20,000 people without the aid of modern technology. Now try to imagine building it entirely underground.

Turkey boasts several underground cities, but the largest is in Derinkuyu. The city was expanded and inhabited and used as a place to flee for protection until at least 1923. But the whole place was forgotten about until accidently rediscovered when a tunnel was broken into during a housing refurbishment in the 1960s.

The structure of the local rock makes the construction of underground cities remarkably easy. It is soft enough to hew away but sufficiently strong to resist collapse. The tactical advantages of living underground are clear to see, but the cramped living conditions can hardly have been healthy ones.



Photo credit: Zairon/Wikimedia

Ggantija is a megalithic temple complex on the island of Malta. Ggantija means “Giantess’s Tower,” and local legend has it that Ggantija was built by a giantess called Sasuna. She carried the enormous stones used at the site on her head. Some of these stones are over 5 meters in length.

Ggantija is three temples built in the same area and surrounded by a wall. Begun around 3600 BC, these temples predate metal tools and the wheel on Malta. No wonder later generations thought only a giant could have built it. Small stone spheres have been found which may provide a clue as to how the blocks were moved—they were perhaps ball bearings placed beneath the stones.

5Great Zimbabwe


Photo credit: Jan Derk

Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city forming the largest collection of ruins in Africa south of the Sahara. Local legend has it that it was here that the biblical Queen of Sheba had her capital. This is unlikely as the site was only built and occupied from the 11th to the 15th century.

There is some debate as to who built Great Zimbabwe. In the past, this has been a politically fraught question, with the white government of Rhodesiaunwilling to accept that the advanced city had been built by the native peoples. Now, there is general agreement that it was constructed by the ancestors of the Shona, though with some dissenters.

At its height, around 18,000 people lived at Great Zimbabwe. The 5-meter-high walls that protect the site were made without the aid of mortar.




Photo credit: Wikimedia

Baalbek in Lebanon reached its peak under the Roman Empire but had been a major city long before that. At the heart of the Roman city were a triad of temples raised in honor of Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus. While they were magnificent in the way all Classical temples were, at the base of the temple of Jupiter is a mysterious feature—three gigantic stones. These three stones, weighing 800 tons each, are the largest stones ever used in construction.

In the ancient world, the site was called the Trilithion (“Three stones”). But no one knows why such huge stones were used as a foundation. In a nearby quarry lie more squared-off monoliths, larger than the others, that were never completed or used.

3Menorcan Taulas


Photo credit: Wikimedia

On the island of Menorca can be found huge T-shaped rock formations. Made from one stone resting on another, these Taulas are surrounded by walls with a single entrance. All but one of the Taulas are directed toward the south.

We know that they were built by the Talaiotic Culture that existed on the island until the Roman conquest. Most seem to have been set up around 1000 BC.

Clearly they have some ritual use, but no evidence has come down to us of their exact significance. One archaeologist has seen in the flat stone on top the horns of a bull and so suggested Taulas are sites of worship of a bull god.

2Longyou Caves


Photo credit: sickchirpse.com

In Longyou, there was a belief that the local ponds were bottomless. No one settled the matter until 1992, when a villager drained one. The pond was aflooded man-made cavern. Other ponds were soon drained, and 27 such grottoes have been discovered.

Clearly artificial, the grottoes were all carved by hand. None interconnect, but some are separated by only thin rock walls. The purpose of these caves is as unknown as the people who made them. It is thought that the water that once filled the caverns may have helped to stop them collapsing.

1Tomb Of China’s First Emperor


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Most people know of the Terracotta Warriors. These thousands of individual statues were placed around tomb of the Emperor to guard him in death. Records suggest that the Emperor is entombed in a palace built for him underneath a hill. We can see the hill, and there is evidence of empty spaces within. But the Chinese government will not allow excavation of the central tomb.

This may seem perverse, but there is good reason to take our time. The scientific processes available to us are improving all the time. When the first terracotta warriors were unearthed, the pigments on them flaked away within seconds of exposure to air. Who knows what damage opening the tomb may cause?

One thing we may find inside are vast pools of mercury. A Chinese historian said the tomb contained lakes and rivers of the liquid metal, and analysis of the soils at the site do contain mercury concentrations much higher than the surrounding area.

10 Incredible Secrets Of Siberia

Post 8090

10 Incredible Secrets Of Siberia



Siberia is massive, stretching eastward from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. With roughly three inhabitants per square kilometer, it is one of the least densely populated places on Earth. However, it has proven to be a treasure trove for archaeologists. The cool, dry air and permafrost has a unique way of preserving the deep past. Despite our view of it as inhospitable, Siberia was once a cradle of mankind.

10Shigir Idol


Photo credit: The Siberian Times

Archaeologists discovered the world’s oldest wooden sculpture while excavating a bog in Western Siberia in the late 19th century. Determined to be 11,000 years old, the idol is twice as old as the great pyramids and 6,000 years older than Stonehenge. The 2.8-meter (9.2 ft) figure was carved from a larch tree that was 157 years old when it was felled with stone tools.

Conditions in the bog preserved the idol. The statue’s face remains vivid, as do the series of lines and squiggles that crisscross the idol’s body. Some believe the idol’s smaller faces and lines contain encrypted information. One has suggested that they represent various types of terrain. Others believe that the idol, which once stood 5.2 meters (17 ft) tall, might represent a prototype of a Native American totem pole.


9Gender-Bending Amazon

In 1990, archaeologists thought they’d unearthed the remains of an female warrior in Siberia’s Altai Mountains. The 2,500-year-old, pig-tailed teenager was believed to have been part of an elite group of Pazyryk warriors. Buried alongside shields, battle axes, and bows and arrows, the teenager had a physique suggesting an expert horse rider. Ancient Greek writer Hippocrates noted that the Scythians had female warriors called Amazons. Many believed they had finally discovered one of these mythical warriors. However, DNA analysis shattered this view.

It turns out she was a he. Roughly 16 at the time of his death, the “Amazon” was buried surrounded by fertility symbols like cowrie shells as well as amulets. The coffin, wooden pillow, and quiver were all smaller than those found in men’s graves. The remains of nine horses, including four bridled ones, suggest high status. The cause of the pig-tailed warrior’s death remains a mystery.

8Oldest Cancer


Photo credit: Angela Lieverse/University of Saskatchewan/The Canadian Press via CBC News

Many believe cancer to be a modern disease. For years, researchers have speculated that the lives of premodern humans, who were active and ate natural foods, were cancer-free. However, the 2014 discovery of a Bronze Age Siberian man who died of prostate cancer refutes this. While 6,000-year-old benign growths have been discovered, this 4,500-year-old example is theoldest absolutely confirmed case of cancer.

The man was discovered in a small burial site in Siberia’s Cis-Baikal region. Most of the men found at the site have been discovered on their backs with hunting and fishing gear. However, cancer man was different. He was found in a fetal position with an intricately carved bone spoon beside him. This suggests he lived a life outside of the normal community. However, the arrangement might be related to the slow and agonizing death he suffered, nauseous and unable to breathe.


7Racially Realigned Idol


Photo credit: Yuri Grevtsov via The Siberian Times

Archaeologists believe that a 2,400-year-old Siberian stone idol underwent “racial realignment” in the early Middle Ages. The Ust-Taseyevsky idol has flared nostrils, a large, open mouth, a mustache, and a bushy beard. Experts theorize that around 1,500 years ago, someone gave him “plastic surgery” tolook less Caucasian and more Asian.

Archaeologists believe that the Ust-Taseyevsky idol was originally carved during the Scythian period, when inhabitants of the region were European-looking. During the early Middle Ages, the population of the Angara River region shifted with an influx of Mongols. There is evidence of a less talented sculptor narrowing the idol’s eyes. The bridge of the nose was flattened, and its contour was altered. The beard and mustache were partially “shaved” off. Researchers believe the idol received another alteration in the late 17th century, after Russian occupation. A small, conical hole was drilled into the mouth for a tobacco pipe.

6Bone Armor


Photo credit: Yuri Gerasimov via The Siberian Times

Archaeologists recently unearthed a suit of bone armor in Siberia. The 3,900-year-old protective gear was made from an unknown animal and was buried separately from its owner in the forested western steppe around Omsk. While most of the finds in the area are from the Krotov culture, researchers believe the armor belongs to the Samus-Seyminskaya culture, which originated in the Altai Mountains before migrating southwest.

The armor was found in “perfect condition” and is believed to have been a gift, exchange, or perhaps spoils of war. The protective bone gear was discovered 1.5 meters (5 ft) underground near a sanatorium that was being renovated into a hotel. The separate burial suggests the armor’s involvement in ritual. Armor of this nature would have required constant care and was believed to have belonged to an elite warrior. Bone armor is not unique to the Altai. The Aleuts, Inuit, and Tlingit people were all known to wear bone armor.

5Oldest Sewing Needle


Photo credit: Vesti via The Siberian Times

Archaeologists recently unearthed the world’s oldest sewing needle in Siberia’s Altai Mountains. The 50,000-year-old needle was discovered in Denisova Cave and was used by non-Homo sapiens. The 7-centimeter (2.8 in) needle contains a hole for thread and was made from the bone of a large, unidentified bird. Researchers had previously found needles in later cave layers, but this is the oldest and longest one yet discovered.

This needle predates the previous earliest-known specimen by 40,000 years. It was discovered in the same layer as our mysterious hominid cousins, the Denisovans, who were named after the cave. The Denisovans were more technologically advanced than Neanderthals. A precise hole in a Denisovan bracelet could only have been accomplished with a high-rotation drill similar to those used today.


4Okunev Noblewoman


Photo credit: IIMK RAS via The Siberian Times

In the Siberian republic of Khakassia, archaeologists discovered the remains of a noblewoman from the ancient Okunev culture. Experts consider the Okunev to be the Siberian ethnic group most closely related to Native Americans. Dated to between the 25th and 18th centuries BC, the unmolested grave also contained the remains of a child and vast wealth.

The tomb contained 100 decorations made from animal teeth, bone and horn tools, two jars, cases filled with bone needles, a bronze knife, and more than 1,500 beads adorning her funerary garb. A clay incense burner contains the same Sun-shaped faces that adorn other ancient Siberian rock art. Before, these “masks” had been shrouded in mystery. Now, experts can definitively connect these carvings with Okunev burials. A stone slab containing the image of a bull suggests a southern origin for the Okunev. These bull slabs are uncommon in Siberia but are found throughout Kazakhstan.

33,000-Year-Old Brain Surgery


Photo credit: Sergey Slepchenko via The Siberian Times

In 2015, archaeologists unearthed a skull at Siberia’s Nefteprovod II burial site that shows evidence of brain surgery being performed 3,000 years ago. The patient died between the ages of 30 and 40, and the chips taken out of his skull suggest surgical intervention. His open parietal bone showed signs of healing, suggesting that he lived for a period of time after the trephination. Experts believe his death was caused by postsurgical inflammation.

Common painkillers like opiates do not grow in the region, but there was no shortage of mind-altering substances in ancient Siberia. Juniper and thyme were used in shamanistic practices and as analgesics. Fly agaric mushrooms were powerful hallucinogens commonly used in Northern Siberia. Cannabis was common in the region and is often found in burials. It is likely that cannabis, hallucinogenic mushrooms, juniper, thyme, and shamanistic ecstatic dancing were used to bring the patient into a state of altered consciousness where surgery could be performed.

2Dina And Yuan


Photo credit: Vera Salnitskaya via The Siberian Times

In 2015, researchers discovered two extinct lion cubs in Siberia’s permafrost deposits. Dubbed Dina and Uyan, the cubs may be 57,000 years old. Dina and Uyan are cave lions, which went extinct around 10,000 years ago. They were siblings around one or two weeks old when their den collapsed. An opaque white fluid discovered in their stomachs may be the world’s oldest milk.

Cave lions dominated Eurasia, Alaska, and Northern Canada between the Middle and Late Pleistocene. Researchers are hoping that the cubs will help them discover what drove cave lions to extinction. Most experts believe these ancient predators were eradicated for their pelts.

South Korean cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk plans to replicate the cave lions. He has already made progress with woolly mammoths. His team will try to preserve the specimens as long as possible, and hopefully, cloning technology will catch up with the state of remains.

1Couple Holding Hands For 5,000 Years


Photo credit: The Siberian Times via the International Business Times

Archaeologists recently unearthed a Siberian couple who have been holding hands for 5,000 years. The Bronze Age skeletons are believed to belong to a dignitary and his wife or lover. Discovered on the shores of Lake Baikal, the couple belongs to the ancient Glazkov culture. The burial was filled with rare white jade rings, pendants of red deer and musk deer teeth, a 50-centimeter (20 in) jade dagger, and an unidentified metal object in a pouch between the man’s legs.

The couple was found lying on their backs. Their heads are turned to the west, and their hands are joined. The male skeleton is complete. Unfortunately, rodents disturbed the upper portion of the female. The use of the woman’s large jade knife remains unknown. The bodies were found in an ancient sacred burial ground overlooking the lake. To deter grave robbers, the exact location of the burial has been kept secret.

Abraham Rinquist is the executive director of the Winooski, Vermont, branch of the Helen Hartness Flanders Folklore Society. He is the coauthor of Codex Exotica andSong-Catcher: The Adventures of Blackwater Jukebox.