Tag Archives: archaeology

Archaeologists find stone toilet in religious shrine

Archaeologists have uncovered what is obviously a stone toilet that appears to have been installed by the king inside a religious shrine in order to intentionally desecrate it.

Apart from being the nerve center of the city’s bureaucratic system, the site also housed a gate shrine, which was accessible via “steps … in the form of a staircase [that] ascended to a large room where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed.” While finding religious artifacts such as altars and ceremonial artifacts is par for the course at such sites, what has gotten archaeologists buzzing is something far more incongruous: “A stone fashioned in the shape of a chair with a hole in its center.” In other words, a toilet.

Installing such an object in the Holy of Holies, a sacred inner sanctum in the shrine accessible only to a High Priest, would have been considered “the ultimate desecration” of a holy space, which was most likely what [King] Hezekiah in mind. A purely symbolic act – lab tests have confirmed that the commode was never used – it was meant to show pagan worshippers that he meant business when he declared he was getting rid of religious cults.

While such practices, most notably King Jehu’s destruction of temples dedicated to the pagan god Baal, have been documented in the Bible, this is the first time that archaeological evidence has confirmed it.

Roman coins found in Japan

The mysteries of science: Archaeologists have uncovered Roman coins in a 13th century Japanese castle in Okinawa.

An X-ray analysis of the dime-sized coins showed some were embossed with Roman letters and possibly the image of Emperor Constantine I and a soldier holding a spear. Several others dated from a later period — the 17th century Ottoman empire.

Researchers were left scratching their heads about how the coins ended up at the castle in faraway Okinawa, which was built sometime in late 13th or early 14th century and abandoned about 200 years later. It was once the residence of a feudal lord, whose wealth was linked to regional trade but he was not known to have had business ties with Europe.

It is likely that the coins were obtained as curiosities by someone living at the castle, but the specific circumstances remain unknown.

Why I went to Belize

There are many reasons cavers decide to go to faraway places across the globe during their vacations. Some do it because they want to get out of the office. Some go because they like to see exotic sights and strange places well off the beaten path. Some go, like me, because they want the chance to see something new and unexplored. And we all do it because it is fun!

One doesn’t have to go to Belize to get these benefits. I could have traveled to England, Mexico, Hawaii, or any one of several dozen other countries to see the exotic, the new, and the unexplored. In fact, I have already done so in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and Czechia (the new official name of the Czech Republic). Belize however was relatively close, the local population spoke English, I had never been there before, and most important, someone else was organizing things! When David and Eleanor Larson invited me to join their Belize project I decided this was a great opportunity to visit a strange and new place with a minimum of aggravation or planning. They had already done it, and I merely had to sign up and agree to do whatever their project needed doing. So, off I went.

Upon arrival, I soon discovered several very important additional reasons why this cave project exists. First there are the caves. They are grand and beautiful things, with very vast chambers filled with delicate and rare formations. The picture below, taken by fellow caver Laura Sangiala, shows one wall of the gigantic entrance room of one cave.
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Seeds from archaeological site grow into extinct squash

Update: It appears the story below is bogus. (Hat tip Pzatchok.) It appears to be a combination of two different stories, one in which gardeners from the Miami Nation in Indiana donated old seeds to a research group, and the second where that same research group attempted to grow seeds found in a Kentucky cave, with poor results.

Original post:
Students who discovered some ancient seeds in a clay pot at an archaeological site in Canada successfully planted them to grow a previously extinct species of squash.

Not all the seeds grew, but enough did. Moreover, the new squash produced new seeds. This once extinct squash is no longer extinct. And according to the article is also tastes delicious!

Giant Greek tomb discovered

Archeologists have uncovered the largest tomb ever discovered in Greece and think it is linked to the reign of Alexander the Great.

The tomb, dating to around 300 BC, may have held the body of one of Alexander’s generals or a member of his family. It was found beneath a huge burial mound near the ancient site of Amphipolis in northern Greece. Antonis Samaras, Greece’s prime minister, visited the dig on Tuesday and described the discovery as “clearly extremely significant”.

A broad, five-yard wide road led up to the tomb, the entrance of which was flanked by two carved sphinxes. It was encircled by a 500 yard long marble outer wall. Experts believe a 16ft tall lion sculpture previously discovered nearby once stood on top of the tomb.

The excavations began in 2012, and by this month hope to identify who actually was buried there.