Topic: Archaeology

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Burned house horizon

History Europe Ukraine Archaeology Romania Moldova

In the archaeology of Neolithic Europe, the burned house horizon is the geographical extent of the phenomenon of presumably intentionally burned settlements.

This was a widespread and long-lasting tradition in what is now Southeastern and Eastern Europe, lasting from as early as 6500 BCE (the beginning of the Neolithic) to as late as 2000 BCE (the end of the Chalcolithic and the beginning of the Bronze Age). A notable representative of this tradition is the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, which was centered on the burned-house horizon both geographically and temporally.

There is still a discussion in the study of Neolithic and Eneolithic Europe whether the majority of burned houses were intentionally set alight or not.

Although there is still debate about the why house burning was practiced, the evidence seems to indicate that it was highly unlikely to have been accidental. There is also debate about why this would have been done deliberately and regularly, since these burnings could destroy the entire settlement. However, in recent years, the consensus has begun to gel around the "domicide" theory supported by Tringham, Stevanovic and others.

Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements were completely burned every 75–80 years, leaving behind successive layers consisting mostly of large amounts of rubble from the collapsed wattle-and-daub walls. This rubble was mostly ceramic material that had been created as the raw clay used in the daub of the walls became vitrified from the intense heat that would have turned it a bright orange color during the conflagration that destroyed the buildings, much the same way that raw clay objects are turned into ceramic products during the firing process in a kiln. Moreover, the sheer amount of fired-clay rubble found within every house of a settlement indicates that a fire of enormous intensity would have raged through the entire community to have created the volume of material found.

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The Diolkos: an ancient Greek paved trackway enabling boats to be moved overland

Classical Greece and Rome Greece Trains Archaeology

The Diolkos (Δίολκος, from the Greek διά, dia "across" and ὁλκός, holkos "portage machine") was a paved trackway near Corinth in Ancient Greece which enabled boats to be moved overland across the Isthmus of Corinth. The shortcut allowed ancient vessels to avoid the long and dangerous circumnavigation of the Peloponnese peninsula. The phrase "as fast as a Corinthian", penned by the comic playwright Aristophanes, indicates that the trackway was common knowledge and had acquired a reputation for swiftness.

The main function of the Diolkos was the transfer of goods, although in times of war it also became a preferred means of speeding up naval campaigns. The 6 km (3.7 mi) to 8.5 km (5.3 mi) long roadway was a rudimentary form of railway, and operated from c. 600 BC until the middle of the 1st century AD. The scale on which the Diolkos combined the two principles of the railway and the overland transport of ships remained unique in antiquity.

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Dujiangyan irrigation system

China/Chinese history China Civil engineering Archaeology Museums World Heritage Sites


The Dujiangyan (Chinese: 都江堰; pinyin: Dūjiāngyàn) is an ancient irrigation system in Dujiangyan City, Sichuan, China. Originally constructed around 256 BC by the State of Qin as an irrigation and flood control project, it is still in use today. The system's infrastructure develops on the Min River (Minjiang), the longest tributary of the Yangtze. The area is in the west part of the Chengdu Plain, between the Sichuan basin and the Tibetan plateau. Originally, the Min would rush down from the Min Mountains and slow down abruptly after reaching the Chengdu Plain, filling the watercourse with silt, thus making the nearby areas extremely prone to floods. Li Bing, then governor of Shu for the state of Qin, and his son headed the construction of the Dujiangyan, which harnessed the river using a new method of channeling and dividing the water rather than simply damming it. The water management scheme is still in use today to irrigate over 5,300 square kilometres (2,000 sq mi) of land in the region. The Dujiangyan, the Zhengguo Canal in Shaanxi and the Lingqu Canal in Guangxi are collectively known as the "three great hydraulic engineering projects of the Qin."

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Göbekli Tepe

Ancient Near East Turkey Archaeology

Göbekli Tepe (Turkish: [ɟœbecˈli teˈpe], "Potbelly Hill") is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell (artificial mound) has a height of 15 m (49 ft) and is about 300 m (980 ft) in diameter. It is approximately 760 m (2,490 ft) above sea level.

The tell includes two phases of use, believed to be of a social or ritual nature by site discoverer and excavator Klaus Schmidt, dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE. During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive "T-shaped" stone pillars were erected – the world's oldest known megaliths.

More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and weighs up to 10 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock. In the second phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. The site was abandoned after the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB). Younger structures date to classical times.

The details of the structure's function remain a mystery. The excavations have been ongoing since 1996 by the German Archaeological Institute, but large parts still remain unexcavated. In 2018, the site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Golden hat

Germany Time Archaeology Visual arts Fashion

Golden hats (or Gold hats) (German: Goldhüte, singular: Goldhut) are a very specific and rare type of archaeological artifact from Bronze Age Europe. So far, four such objects ("cone-shaped gold hats of the Schifferstadt type") are known. The objects are made of thin sheet gold and were attached externally to long conical and brimmed headdresses which were probably made of some organic material and served to stabilise the external gold leaf. The following Golden Hats are known as of 2012:

  • Golden Hat of Schifferstadt, found in 1835 at Schifferstadt near Speyer, c. 1400–1300 BC.
  • Avanton Gold Cone, incomplete, found at Avanton near Poitiers in 1844, c. 1000–900 BC.
  • Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch, found near Ezelsdorf near Nuremberg in 1953, c. 1000–900 BC; the tallest known specimen at c. 90 cm.
  • Berlin Gold Hat, found probably in Swabia or Switzerland, c. 1000–800 BC; acquired by the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Berlin, in 1996.

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Homo floresiensis

Anthropology Palaeontology Extinction Indonesia Archaeology Mammals Evolutionary biology Human Genetic History Primates Southeast Asia

Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man"; nicknamed "hobbit") is a pygmy archaic human which inhabited the island of Flores, Indonesia, until the arrival of modern humans about 50,000 years ago.

The remains of an individual who would have stood about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) in height were discovered in 2003 at Liang Bua on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Partial skeletons of nine individuals have been recovered, including one complete skull, referred to as "LB1". These remains have been the subject of intense research to determine whether they represent a species distinct from modern humans; the dominant consensus is that these remains do represent a distinct species due to genetic and anatomical differences.

This hominin had originally been considered remarkable for its survival until relatively recent times, only 12,000 years ago. However, more extensive stratigraphic and chronological work has pushed the dating of the most recent evidence of its existence back to 50,000 years ago. The Homo floresiensis skeletal material is now dated from 60,000 to 100,000 years ago; stone tools recovered alongside the skeletal remains were from archaeological horizons ranging from 50,000 to 190,000 years ago.

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The “Linen Book of Zagreb”: The Longest Etruscan Text

Archaeology Croatia

The Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis (Latin for "Linen Book of Zagreb", also rarely known as Liber Agramensis, "Book of Agram") is the longest Etruscan text and the only extant linen book, dated to the 3rd century BCE. It remains mostly untranslated because of the lack of knowledge about the Etruscan language, though the few words which can be understood indicate that the text is most likely a ritual calendar.

The fabric of the book was preserved when it was used for mummy wrappings in Ptolemaic Egypt. The mummy was bought in Alexandria in 1848 and since 1867 both the mummy and the manuscript have been kept in Zagreb, Croatia, now in a refrigerated room at the Archaeological Museum.

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Lion-Man

Germany Archaeology Visual arts

The Löwenmensch figurine or Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel is a prehistoric ivory sculpture discovered in the Hohlenstein-Stadel, a German cave in 1939. The German name, Löwenmensch, meaning "lion-human", is used most frequently because it was discovered and is exhibited in Germany.

The lion-headed figurine is the oldest-known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world, and the oldest-known uncontested example of figurative art. It has been determined by carbon dating of the layer in which it was found to be between 35,000 and 40,000 years old, and therefore is associated with the archaeological Aurignacian culture of the Upper Paleolithic. It was carved out of mammoth ivory using a flint stone knife. Seven parallel, transverse, carved gouges are on the left arm.

After several reconstructions that have incorporated newly found fragments, the figurine stands 31.1 cm (12.2 in) tall, 5.6 cm (2.2 in) wide, and 5.9 cm (2.3 in) thick. It currently is displayed in the Museum Ulm, Germany.

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Loulan Kingdom

China/Chinese history China Central Asia Archaeology Buddhism Former countries

Loulan, also called Krorän or Kroraina (simplified Chinese: 楼兰; traditional Chinese: 樓蘭; pinyin: Lóulán; Uyghur: كروران, Кроран‎, ULY: Kroran) was an ancient kingdom based around an important oasis city along the Silk Road already known in the 2nd century BCE on the northeastern edge of the Lop Desert. The term Loulan is the Chinese transcription of the native name Krorän and is used to refer to the city near Lop Nur as well as the kingdom.

The kingdom was renamed Shanshan (鄯善) after its king was assassinated by an envoy of the Han dynasty in 77 BCE; however, the town at the northwestern corner of the brackish desert lake Lop Nur retained the name of Loulan. The kingdom included at various times settlements such as Niya, Charklik, Miran, and Qiemo. It was intermittently under Chinese control from the early Han dynasty onward until its abandonment centuries later. The ruins of Loulan are near the now-desiccated Lop Nur in the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, and they are now completely surrounded by desert.

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The Nebra sky disk

Germany Astronomy Archaeology Visual arts

The Nebra sky disk is a bronze disk of around 30 centimeters (11 34 in) diameter and a weight of 2.2 kilograms (4.9 lb), having a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols. These symbols are interpreted generally as the Sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars (including a cluster of seven interpreted as the Pleiades). Two golden arcs along the sides, interpreted to mark the angle between the solstices, were added later. A final addition was another arc at the bottom surrounded with multiple strokes (of uncertain meaning, variously interpreted as a Solar Barge with numerous oars, the Milky Way, or a rainbow).

The disk is attributed to a site in present-day Germany near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, and dated by Archaeological association to c. 1600 BC. Researchers suggest the disk is an artifact of the Bronze Age Unetice culture.

The style in which the disk is executed was unlike any artistic style then known from the period, with the result that the object was initially suspected of being a forgery, but is now widely accepted as authentic.

The Nebra sky disk features the oldest concrete depiction of the cosmos yet known from anywhere in the world. In June 2013 it was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and termed "one of the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century."

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