Saturday, 29 July 2017

DNA reveals fate of the mysterious Canaanites

When the pharaohs ruled Egypt and the ancient Greeks built their first cities, a mysterious people called the Canaanites dominated the Near East. Around 4000 years ago, they built great cities, yet they left no surviving written records, leaving researchers to piece together their history. One of those sources is the Bible’s Old Testament, which suggests a grisly end for many Canaanites: After the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, God ordered them to destroy Canaan and its people.

Ancient DNA recovered from five Canaanite skeletons suggests that they survived to contribute their genes to millions of people living today. The new samples come from Sidon, a coastal city in Lebanon.
Scientists found that the present-day Lebanese population is largely descended from the ancient Canaanites, inheriting more than 90% of their genes from this ancient source.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Ifrit Monsters

Ifrit are supernatural creatures in some Middle Eastern stories. In Islam, this term refers to the most powerful and dangerous Jinns.

The Ifrits are a class of infernal spirits, classified as a jinn and also held to be a death spirit drawn to the life-force (or blood) of a murdered victim seeking revenge on the murderer. As with ordinary jinn, an Ifrit may be either a believer or an unbeliever, good or evil, but it is most often depicted as a wicked, ruthless and evil being; a powerful Shaitan (demon).

According to Islamic sources, the ifrit has a fiery appearance with leaping flames from his mouth. In early folklore, the ifrit is said to be formed from the blood of a murder victim. Driving an unused nail into the blood was supposed to stop their formation. The creatures were reported as being able to take the form of Satan, the murder victim, or even a sandstorm. Ifrits are believed to inhabit the underworld, or in desolated places like ruins or caves.

Crack China’s ancient riddle of the bones for big cash rewards

A picture may be worth a thousand words but one mysterious ancient Chinese character could be a 100,000 yuan (US$15,000) payday for anybody who can definitively say what it means. The National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan province, has issued a worldwide appeal for help to decipher thousands of esoteric characters cut into bones and shells dating back more than 3,000 years to the Shang dynasty.

The inscriptions are the earliest written records of Chin­ese civilization and shed light on life and society at the time. They were carved by fortune-tellers on turtle shells and ox shoulder blades known as oracle bones, and record questions on everything from weather to taxes.
So far, scholars have managed to crack the code to less than half of the roughly 5,000 characters found on excavated oracle bones. Around 3,000 of them remain a mystery. The museum is encouraging researchers to use cloud computing and big data to generate breakthroughs. The museum started offering the rewards because progress on deciphering the characters had stalled in recent years. For researchers studying the ancient Chinese texts, making sense of one character can be a career-defining achievement.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Perfectly preserved gilded body of 1,000-year-old Buddhist Master Ci Xian

The mummified body of a Buddhist Master from 1,000 years ago still has healthy bones and a complete brain, a CT scan has revealed. Master Ci Xian was said to be a respected monk who had travelled from ancient India to ancient China to promote Buddhism.
According to historic records, Master Ci Xian was originally from India. He travelled to the Kingdom of Khitan (916-1125) in north-east part of modern China near the Korean Peninsula to spread Buddhist philosophy.

The respected monk's remains were varnished before being gilded
After Master Ci Xian passed away, his disciples had his body preserved but it later went lost over the years. His remains were re-discovered in 1970s inside a cave. Master Du from the Dinghui Temple said Buddhist Master Ci Xian's preserved body had been worshipped at the Dinghui Temple since 2011. The temple decided to have the remains gilded last year. 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Bust of Hitler, Nazi guns and ancient fossils found in Buenos Aires raid

Among the items found by the Argentine Federal police as they conducted the raids were a bust of Adolf Hitler, a sculpture of the German imperial eagle, and various weapons bearing the Nazi insignia such as daggers and pistols. The search teams also found fossil artifacts such as polished ammonites, amber and pieces of the shell of a Glyptodon.

Glyptodon is an ancient relative of the armadillo that lived in south America around 2.5 million years ago.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Roman Gold and Silver Coins Uncovered in Spain

Gold and silver Roman coins have been found at a copper mining site in southwestern Spain. The cache of coins is thought to have been stored in a leather pouch by a wealthy resident of the Roman mining settlement of Orium. (modern Huelva)
The coins, which date from the 2nd century AD, are said to be from the era of Nero and Trajan.
Ruins of the Roman town of Segóbriga, Spain

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Heritage Auction features rare Gold Coins

Nearly 500 lots from every era and region are scheduled to be sold on August 3, 2017 by Heritage.

125 ancient coins are featured. An array of Greek coins is highlighted by an unrecorded gold stater of Magnesia in Ionia, a run of Lydian electrum and gold, and 10 gold pieces of Ptolemaic Egypt.
The Judaean section includes an incredible rarity: A silver quarter-shekel from year four of the Jewish War, one of  four known.

High quality Japanese coins from the Meiji period, dated 1870 to 1871, are of the highest rarity and may be unique.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Ancient tower of Aztec Skulls found

A pillar of more than 650 preserved skulls was found set in limestone close to Templo Mayor, one of the main temples in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. It is believed the grim tower formed part of the Huey Tzompantli, a huge display of skulls designed to terrify invaders during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century.
Among the skulls of men, archeologists discovered the walls were also filled with the heads of women and children. The skulls would have been set in the tower after they had stood on public display on the tzompantli.

Roughly six meters in diameter, the tower stood on the corner of the chapel of Huitzilopochtli, Aztec god of the sun, war and human sacrifice. Its base has yet to be unearthed. 676 skulls have so far been found.