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Ancient History

Scientists Find Stunning 25,000-Year-Old Structure Made Entirely From Bones of 60 Mammoths

The 40-foot wide circular hut was built primarily from the skulls, tusks, and skeletons of woolly mammoths.

Elias Marat

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(TMU) — A spectacular example of architecture constructed from mammoth bones that date back about 25,000 years has been unearthed at an ancient site in Russia, giving researchers a spectacular glimpse at how people lived during the Ice Age.

The excavated structure was discovered at Kostenki 11, an ancient site in Russia’s forest-steppe about 300 miles south of Moscow in Khokholsky District, Voronezh Oblast, Russia. The location, which lies near the Don River, is home to a number of important sites from the Paleolithic era.

According to a recent study published in the journal Antiquity, the mysterious 40-foot wide circular hut was built primarily from the skulls, tusks, and skeletons of over 60 woolly mammoths.

Alexander Pryor, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter and co-author of the study, believes that the bones were “sourced from somewhere and brought to this particular location,” making the structure “really quite staggering.”

Pryor told Smithsonian Magazine:

“Clearly a lot of time and effort went into building this structure so it was obviously important to the people that made it for some reason.”

While the British scientists aren’t entirely sure why hunter-gatherers in the region built such a stunning circular structure, the builders did leave some tell-tale signs indicating what the building was once used for.

Evidence that fires were burned in the structure was found, as well as food scraps such as vegetables—suggesting that locals ate a wide variety of plant foods. Intriguingly, wood was burnt inside the structure and not bones alone. Pryor said:

“It’s the first time anyone’s found large pieces of charcoal inside one of these structures. So it does show that trees were in the environment.” 

A number of pits containing the buried bones of mammoths were also found outside of the bone circle, suggesting that food was stored there.

“You obviously get a lot of meat from a mammoth,” Pryor explained. “So the idea that there were food processing and food storage activities going on at the site is something that we want to investigate more.”

While 70 similar structural sites are scattered across western Russia and Ukraine, this particular structure has been found to be the oldest—as well as one of the largest and most intricate.

Other so-called “mammoth houses” date back about 22,000 years and were believed to provide shelter from the icy temperatures of the era. Unlike the new mammoth structure, the smaller structures included the remains of bears, horses, reindeer, wolves, red foxes, and arctic foxes—suggesting that people in the area used whatever was on hand to construct the huts.

However, the new structure doesn’t include other animal remains and consists “almost exclusively” of wooly mammoth bones—which is what makes the site so unique, Pryor said.

Marjolein Bosch, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Cambridge, believes that the “truly exceptional find” at Kostenki 11 was likely not an everyday home. She explained:

“The size of the structure makes it exceptional among its kind, and building it would have been time-consuming.

This implies that it was meant to last, perhaps as a landmark, a meeting place, a place of ceremonial importance, or a place to return to when the conditions grew so harsh that shelter was needed.”

But what’s most compelling about the latest find is what it tells researchers about who exactly built it. Pryor explained:

“This project is giving us a real insight into how our human ancestors adapted to climate change, to the harshest parts of the last glacial cycle, and adapted to use the materials that they had around them.

It’s really a story of survival in the face of adversity.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Ancient History

59 ancient coffins, buried for 2,600 years, discovered in incredible archaeological find in Egypt

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(TMU) – 59 well-preserved and sealed wooden coffins were recently discovered by archeologists in Egypt, and it is possible that there could be even more waiting to be discovered.

Three weeks ago researchers first announced that they found 13 coffins, and then further searches in the area revealed that there were even more. Scientists estimate that the coffins were buried over 2,500 years ago, and some of the remains were wrapped in burial cloth that showed hieroglyphic inscriptions.

The discovery was made in the burial ground of Saqqara, which is located just south of Cairo, near the 4,700-year-old pyramid of Djoser.

“We are very happy about this discovery,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in the Egyptian government.

Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said that the coffins can be dated back to the Late Period of ancient Egypt, which is estimated to be from the sixth or seventh century BC.

“I have witnessed the opening of one of the coffins … the mummy seems as if it was mummified yesterday,” al-Anani said, according to Aljazeera.

Other artifacts have been discovered as well, including a bronze figurine depicting Nefertem, an ancient god of the lotus blossom, as well as mummified animals like snakes, birds, scarab beetles. Dozens of statues were also found in the same area that the coffins were discovered.

It is suspected that the coffins belonged to high ranking figures in ancient Egyptian society, likely from the 26th dynasty.

The coffins will be taken to the Grand Egyptian Museum on the Giza Plateau, which is currently being built. The museum is expected to open soon, but the opening has already been delayed several times. At this point, the most recent opening date for the museum is planned for 2021.

The museum will feature an entire hall dedicated to the sarcophagi that were found in the region, and this hall will reportedly hold the new discoveries.

Saqqara, where the discovery was made features numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, which is sometimes called the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastaba tombs.

Saqqara and the surrounding areas of Abusir and Dahshur suffered damage by looters during the 2011 Egyptian protests. Storerooms were broken into, but the monuments were mostly unharmed. A series of discoveries have been made at the site in recent years. Some findings have been dated back to as far as 4,000 years ago.

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Ancient History

What Artists From Over 100 Years Ago Thought The Year 2000 Would Look Like

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(TMU) – Art from the past is fascinating, from the most basic rock art, to the most detailed and realistic, the bizarre, the fantastical, the surreal and the futuristic, art provides us with insight into cultures and history. Visual records of the lives, struggles, triumphs and beliefs during the evolution of human kind.

Throughout our evolution, there has always been forward thinkers, those who could envisage a very different future, such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), best known as an artist, he was also an architect, scientist and inventor with the vision and imagination to create, on paper, inventions such as the bicycle, the helicopter and an airplane.

Perhaps da Vinci innovative ideas inspired artists through the centuries that followed, such as those created by French Jean-Marc Cote and others in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910 who were asked to imagine what life would be like in the year 2020. The futuristic images they created were originally in the form of postcards or cards enclosed in cigarette boxes.

These pictures were created before the second industrial revolution and high tech machinery and flying machines. Life was much simpler, food was still grown organically and the world still had clean air, rivers and oceans. Many of the illustrations turned out to be quite accurate, such as machines for farming, robotic equipment, flying machines, underwater breathing apparatus, and sadly, weapons of war. The buildings, clothing and hairstyles seemed to remain in the previous century.

Over 100 years have passed and some of those artists may have lived to see some of their ideas become reality. Unfortunately the third revolution brought with it innovations that propelled the modern human into an easier, faster lifestyle for those who could afford it. Machines and appliances do the work, in the home and workplace. Motor cars, appliances, pre-packed food, fast food and waste, so much waste! With not a thought of the consequences. Our air and water polluted by chemicals, of rivers and oceans choked by our single use waste and not just our planet, but our health suffering under the strain.

How would we, and the artists of our world depict life on earth in 2099, 2100, 2101 and 2110?

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Ancient History

World’s largest mammoth graveyard found near Mexico City with over 200 skeletons from Ice Age

Elias Marat

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As construction workers race to complete building Mexico City’s new international airport, archaeologists have stumbled on the world’s largest graveyard of mammoths, with officials saying on Thursday that the number has risen to at least 200.

Experts believe that the site, which lies about 30 miles (50 km) north of the capital’s downtown at the Santa Lucía Air Force Base in the state of Mexico, is now the world’s largest concentration of skeletons belonging to the extinct Ice Age mammal – and a large number of them are still yet to be excavated.

The humongous creatures are believed to have died between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago, when the region was the site of a number of ancient lakes that both attracted and trapped the extinct relative of modern elephants.

Other Ice Age mammals have also been found at the nearly 200 excavation sites, including about 200 mammoths, 25 camels, and five horses, archaeologists with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) say.

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Around 24,000 years ago, the geography of the region was a lush and vibrant place filled with sprawling grassland and lakes that attracted herds of mammoths.

“This place was like a paradise,” lead INAH archaeologist Ruben Manzanilla Lopez told Reuters, adding that the melting of the last glaciers happened at a time when ancient species of horses, camels, and buffalo thrived in the extremely muddy shorelines of the region.

“Then over many years the same story repeated itself: The animals ventured too far, got trapped and couldn’t get their legs out of the muck,” Manzanilla added.

Wild horses largely died out in North America at the end of the last ice age, and only returned during the Spanish invasion of the Americas, beginning with Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the West Indies in 1493 and continuing with the arrival of Hernan Cortes in Mexico in 1519.

A number of compelling finds are still being made at the site, including evidence that humans constructed tools from the bones of the massive creatures. The site lies roughly 12 miles from artificial pits or shallow mammoth traps dug by early inhabitants to trap and kill the creatures.

The flint arrows, spears, and rudimentary shallow water pits suggest that early humans may have also played a role in wiping out the lumbering beasts.

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“What caused these animals’ extinction, everywhere there is a debate, whether it was climate change or the presence of humans. I think in the end the decision will be that there was a synergy effect between climate change and human presence,” paleontologist Joaquin Arroyo Cabrales told Associated Press.

However, the pure volume of mammoth remains unearthed – comprised of extraordinarily well-preserved skeletons including their long and curling tusks – is what has come as a shock.

“We had the idea that we’d find mammoth remains, but not this many,” Manzanilla said.

The sheer glut of mammoth remains at the Santa Lucía site is such that INAH observers are now accompanying construction workers using bulldozers to make sure that work halts when bones are found.

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Manzanilla is confident that when the excavations are complete, the site will likely rank higher than similar sites in the United States and Siberia as the largest deposit of mammoth skeletons.

A museum-style mammoth exhibit is also being planned for the main terminal of the new commercial airport.

The Valley of Mexico was once a verdant and lush region rich in biodiversity that teemed with interconnected lakes and countless rivers. In 1325, the Aztecs or Tenochcas began building what would later become the major metropolis of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, on a rock in Lake Texcoco.

However, in the 1600s the Spanish colonizers began draining the lakes in a bid to rein in annual floods and accompanying disease resulting from the region’s torrential rain seasons.

In the 20th century, local authorities continued to pave over the 45 rivers that still cut through the growing city. The process of urbanization transformed Mexico City into a dry, dusty, and smoggy region teeming with busy roads and working-class neighborhoods.

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