Archive for the ‘Monuments’ Category – Not everyone is aware of that the extraordinary stone circles of Senegambia are the largest group of megalithic complexes yet recorded in any region of the world.

Most people have heard of Stonehenge in UK, but far from all are familiar with a large concentration of stones that are sometimes referred to as the African Stonehenge.

The stone circles and other megaliths found in Senegal and Gambia are divided into four large sites.

These include Sine Ngayene and Wanar in Senegal, and Wassu and Kerbatch in the Central River Region in Gambia.

The four large groups of stone circles represent an astonishing concentration of over 1,000 monuments in a band 100 km wide along some 350 km of the River Gambia. It is a remarkable little known ancient site.


Stone Circles of Senegambia. Image credit: UNESCO

The four sites cover 93 stone circles and numerous burial mounds, some of which were recently excavated to reveal material that suggests dates between 3rd century BC and 16th century AD. Together the stone circles of laterite pillars and their associated burial mounds present a vast sacred landscape created over more than 1,500 years.

Each stone circle contains about 10 to 24 standing stones.

All the stones in any given circle are usually the same height, and size, varying between 60 cm and 245 cm high and weighing up to 10 tons.

The largest stones, located at N’Jai Kunda, may weigh at least 10 tons.

The purpose of the stone circles is not entirely clear.Although the stone circles have been the subject of research over the past 100 years, and several parts of the nominated site have been excavated, more could be elucidated about the megalithic zone as a whole.

According to UNESCO “material from excavations suggests that the burials took place mainly during the first and early second millennia AD.

However the relationship between the burial mounds and the stone circles has yet to be fully ascertained.

It is not clear whether the burials pre-date the circles, whether they are contemporary or whether perhaps the circles pre-date the burials.



Image credit: Les Cercles Megalithiques

Scientists do not know when monuments were built, but the generally accepted range is between the third century B.C. and the sixteenth century A.D. The true purpose of the stone circles and their builders are shrouded in mystery.


Image credit: Wassu Stone Cirles


The Manding people who currently live in much of the megalithic zone seemed to have moved into the area in the 16th century, after the construction of the megaliths, and so do not appear to be related to the megalith builders. Another option is that the Serer people are the builders, but that is only speculation.

The truth is – the builders of the Senegambia stone circles are unknown.


Twenty burials in Greece may be linked to Macedonian kings
15 MARCH, 2014 – 01:20 APRILHOLLOWAY

A Greek archaeologist has announced the discovery of 20 burials near Macedonia’s ancient capital in northern Greece.  Researchers are hoping that the graves are associated with the early Macedonian kings.

The tombs were found at Vergina, a town in Northern Greece identified as Aegae (Aigai) – the first capital of the Macedonians. The town became internationally famous in 1977, when the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos unearthed the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. This view is challenged by some archaeologists who believe it may instead be the tomb of Alexander’s half-brother Philip III Arrhidaeus.

The unplundered tomb dating from 335 BC, displayed the golden larnax with the star symbol of the Macedonian kings, known from Macedonian shields and coins, decorating its cover: sixteen rays of different length around a central rosette. Inside the larnax were found human remains covered with a golden wreath of oak leaves. Other finds in the chamber included an iron breastplate, ceremonial shield, iron Macedonian helmet, the royal diadem, and weapons.

Archaeologists have been interested in the hills around Vergina since as early as the 1850s and the site still draws researchers and experts to this day. The latest discovery shows that there is still much that the town has to offer.

Excavator Angeliki Kottaridi said that the tombs had been looted and largely dismantled in antiquity. However, researchers did find vases and a sword and it is hoped that further study may reveal the owners of the tomb, which Kottaridi said “might perhaps be linked” with Alexander I and his son, Perdiccas II. Both reigned in the 5th century BC, a century before the most famous ancient Macedonian king, Alexander III the Great.

Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient Greek kingdom that flourished from 808 to 167 BC. The rise of Macedon, from a small kingdom at the periphery of Classical Greek affairs, to one which came to dominate the entire Hellenic world, occurred under Philip II’s reign. For a brief period, after the conquests of Alexander the Great, it became the most powerful state in the world, controlling a territory that included the former Persian Empire, stretching as far as the Indus River; at that time it inaugurated the Hellenistic period of Ancient Greek civilization.

Featured image: Facade of Philip II of Macedon tomb in Vergina, Greece, discovered in 1977. Photo credit: Wikipedia

By April Holloway

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Rosslyn Chapel: A Legacy in Stone

Posted: August 13, 2013 by phaedrap1 in Monuments
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By Dr. Karen Ralls © 2003

Near Edinburgh, Scotland, stands Rosslyn Chapel, one of the most ornately-carved 15th century medieval stone chapels in all of Europe. In more recent times, Rosslyn has become more widely known, as the building and its history were featured in the movie, The Da Vinci Code. Although Rosslyn is officially known as the Collegiate Church of St. Matthew and is today an active Scottish Episcopal church, the chapel retains its special historic legacy for all to see and experience.

In my research, I describe and explain the symbolism of the exquisite medieval carvings in the chapel, from the Green Man to the famed Apprentice Pillar, and explain the key components of its history. Through the centuries, many have thought that there may be the Grail or some other treasure hidden there. But why is this small Scottish chapel so important today? Let us start with the known facts.

An extraordinary effort in its time, at the end of the late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance, work on the chapel began in 1446 and was personally overseen by Sir William St. Clair, the third and last St. Clair Prince of Orkney. According to an account written in 1700 by Father Richard Augustine Hay, Canon of St. Genevieve in Paris. Sir William inspected each of the hundreds of images in draft form in wood before giving it to the masons to carve in stone. Fr. Hay refers to various builders and masons as coming from “other regions” and “foreign kingdoms”, with France as a good bet.

Although Rosslyn Chapel took nearly 40 years to build, contrary to popular belief, Sir William was not a Knight Templar nor a Freemason. Rosslyn was begun in 1446 — much later than the dissolution of the Templar order (1312) and much earlier than the official beginnings of Freemasonry (1717), with the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England.

There is no documented historical evidence for a medieval Knights Templar connection with Rosslyn Chapel itself; further, the Templars did not build Rosslyn Chapel. However, not far away, at the nearby village of Temple, still stand the ruins of what was once the genuine headquarters of the Scottish Knights Templar, then called Balandtradoch. So the real Templar connection is not, in fact, at the site of Rosslyn Chapel, it is at the village of Temple, where the ruins of the Scottish preceptory can still be seen today.

Although Rosslyn Chapel was generously endowed by its founder, Sir William St. Clair, and by his grandson, by the time of the tumultous 16th century, the Reformation had a devastating effect on religious sites in Scotland. Many Catholic churches, altars and furnishings were badly damaged or destroyed, and the Rosslyn Chapel, too, fell into disuse. In 1650, Oliver Cromwell’s troops attacked nearby Rosslyn Castle; in addition, his troops also housed his horses in nearby Rosslyn Chapel as well. Some believe this may have helped to save the chapel from further destruction, claiming that Cromwell was a Freemason, and that this may have been why he did not order the chapel destroyed. Yet there is no direct evidence that Cromwell was a Freemason, according to the Grand Lodge of England.

In 1688, an angry Protestant mob from Edinburgh and Roslin village pillaged and burnt the castle and further damaged the chapel, which remained abandoned until 1736, when James St. Clair began repairs. Given this turbulent history, we are fortunate indeed to have Rosslyn Chapel in all its glory today.

The profusion of carved symbolism is extraordinary throughout the chapel, ranging from biblical allegory to pagan symbolism. One of the best-known images is of the Green Man, of which there are at least 103 representations inside the chapel alone, with an additional number on the exterior and roof as well. Art historians have noted that Rosslyn Chapel has the greatest number of Green Man images of any medieval chapel in Europe.

Commonly portrayed as a head with profuse foliage growing from his mouth, the Green Man (and Lady) represent fertility, growth, and the fecundity of nature. The many faces of the Green Man range from joyful to downright impish. Although many assume that the Green Man is mainly a “Celtic” motif, this is not the case. Green Man carvings are also found in ancient eastern temples, in the Apo Kayan area of Borneo, the chapels of Dhankar Gompa in the Himalayas, in the temples of Kathmandu and in the Jain temples of Ranakpur, and in Roman buildings. In short, the Green Man is a universal theme with very early roots.

In the context of Rosslyn chapel, no doubt Sir William was acknowledging the inherent Celtic traditions of the area and the beautiful natural setting of Roslin Glen. It may well be that the chapel is placed precisely where it is because of the surrounding natural environment and the fact that the glen was known to many long before the chapel or castle were built; bronze age artifacts have been found here, and Roman finds involving the possible worship of Mithras, and what many believe to be runic and/or Pictish carvings have also been discovered.

The Apprentice Pillar
Stunning in its exquisitely carved beauty, the famous Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn is associated with much of the historical legacy of the chapel, and is one of three stone pillars believed to represent the concepts of wisdom, strength, and beauty. Its symbolism as a whole represents to some a ‘world tree’, a fountain of immortality, illustrating the perpetual conflict of the forces of light and darkness. At its base is the “Dread Biter” serpent of the Norse sagas, said to lie at the root of the Yggdrasil world tree, which continuously gnaws away at the forces of darkness and ignorance.

In more modern times, some have attempted to claim that the Apprentice pillar is hollow and may contain a “Grail” hidden within its pillar–specifically, a silver platter. Scans have been done of the pillar and no metal was detected; however, others speculate that the Grail hidden there is not made of metal. Some insist it may be a mummified head of Christ or a simple wooden chalice, yet there is no proof of these theories.

The Apprentice Pillar also has a special Masonic tale associated with it, as explained by the Earl of Rosslyn in the official chapel guidebook:

“The Master Mason, having received from the Founder the moder of a pillar of exquisite workmanship and design, hesitated to carry it out until he had been to Rome . . . and seen the original. He went abroad and in his absence an apprentice . . . set to work and carried out the design as it now stands, a perfect marvel of workmanship. The Master Mason on his return, seeing the pillar completed, instead of being delighted at the success of his pupil, was so stung with envy that . . . with rage and passion . . . he struck [the apprentice] with his mallet, killed him on the spot.”

Much of the genuine message of Rosslyn Chapel is as much about where a specific carving is located and how it relates to what is around it, as about the design of a specific carving. It is often neglected that much of the symbolism at Rosslyn is from the Old or New Testament or is apocryphal-based, or may be pagan iconography–a great variety of symbols are present. At Rosslyn, it does matter if a carving is located on the north wall as opposed to the east wall, or next to one carving and not another, for example. In a sense, Rosslyn can be “read” as a library in stone. If you start in the northeast corner and walk clockwise around the chapel, the Green Men carvings get progressively older, for example, and the Dance of Death carving is closer to the end than the beginning. The great Cycle unfolds . . .

Theories abound about what material treasures may be hidden at Rosslyn Chapel, speculations that have created a “mythos in the making” about this religious site. In keeping with many medieval family chapels, the founder and a number of his descendants are buried in its vaults; yet, even so, some rather wild speculations continue, which have unfortunately largely detracted from the important architectural legacy of the chapel and the good work of the Sinclair family and Rosslyn Chapel Trust in preserving the building. The question remains: Will the vaults of Rosslyn Chapel ever be excavated?

The Director of Rosslyn Chapel Trust, Mr. Stuart Beattie, was asked about the excavation issue, clarifying:

“Due to the Scottish law of the ‘Right of Sepulchre’, a rather lengthy legal procedure would have to be followed, in order to secure the necessary permission to dig on the church grounds by the authorities. Meanwhile, the focus is on the preservation of the building, and not on excavation, at this time. ”

James Simpson, architect of the extensive conservation project at Rosslyn, states in his recent contribution to the book that accompanied the 2002 Rosslyn art exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland:

“It may be 2010 before the programme of conservation and development currently envisaged is completed. Fifty or so years of decline will have been followed by thirty years of making up the deficit. Nor will that be the end of the matter; managing and caring for a site like Rosslyn never ends. It is in the very nature of ‘heritage’ that responsibilities, as well as rights, are passed on from generation to generation . . . ”

Speculation will undoubtedly continue as the conservation project will not be finished until at least 2010, and any excavation would occur after that at the very earliest.

Over the years various churches, Guilds, the Templars, the Rosicrucians, and the Masons have all recognized something of their own traditions in the complex allegory presented by Rosslyn Chapel–an arcanum, a book in stone.

The Templars, too, have never lost their intrigue or mystery for us today. By exploring the major interrelated topics about this medieval military religious order, historians hope more information will some to light in the coming years. Let us recall, too, in our modern times, one of the Templars’ important mottoes–’Carpe Diem!” (Seize the day!).

About the author – Karen RallsKaren Ralls, PhD, medieval historian, religious studies scholar, and international lecturer, was Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh for six years before continuing her specialist medieval period research in Oxford, England. A member of the Oxford University Religious Studies Society, the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Friends of Christ Church Cathedral, Dr Ralls is the author of The Knights Templar Encyclopedia (2007) and other books, and has an award-winning website


Posted: May 5, 2013 by noxprognatus in Monuments

boscawen un

Boscawen-Un is a Bronze age stone circle close to St Buryan in Cornwall, UK. It consists of 19 upright stones in an ellipse with diameters 24.9m and 21.9m, with another, leaning, stone just south of the centre. There is a west-facing gap in the circle, which may have formed an entrance. It is located at grid reference SW412274.

The Gorseth Kernow was inaugurated here in 1928. An old Welsh triad mentions one of the three principal gorseddau of the Island of Britain as “Beisgawen in Dumnonia“, which was taken to refer to Boscawen-Un by the Gorseth’s founders.Location

Boscawen-Un is in southwest Cornwall in the Penwith district north of St Buryan by the road from Penzance to Land’s End. The stone circle is 300 m from the road. The location was apparently carefully selected, because it lies within visual range of The Merry Maidens stone circle and the two Pipers standing stones. In addition, a view of the sea, rare in this area, is offered here.

Boscawen-Un is a Cornish name, containing the syllables bod (farmstead) and scawen (old tree). The suffix Un denotes an adjacent pasture. Therefore the name translates as the pasture of the farmstead at the old tree.


The stone circle consists of a central standing stone encircled by 19 other stones, including 18 made of gray granite and one of bright quartz, which describe an ellipse with axes of 24.9 m and 21.9 m. The position of the quartz stone in the southwest may indicate the likely direction of the full moon during the solstice. At the northeastern edge of the stone circle are two stones in the ground, one of which has an axe petroglyph. These engravings are unusual in the United Kingdom, though they can also be observed on some of the stones at Stonehenge.

There is a wide gap in the west of the circle, which suggests the loss of stones. However this gap may represent, as with the nearby Merry Maidens, an entrance. The central stone is 2.7 m long, but because of its strong inclination to the north-east, the tip is only 2.0 m above the ground. It is thought by some researchers that the central stone embodies the phallic male principle and the quartz stone represents the female powers of the ring.


Illustration by John Thomas Blight (1864)

Plan of the burial mound and sketch of an urn (1864)

The stone circle at Boscawen-Un, was erected in the Bronze Age. It is possible that it was a meeting place for druids in the Iron Age. In any case, a Bardic group (Cornish: Gorsedd) may have existed in this area, because in the Welsh Triads from the 6th century AD, a Gorsedd of Beisgawen of Dumnonia is called one of the big three Gorsedds of Poetry of the Island of Britain. Dumnonia was a kingdom in post-Roman Britain, which probably included Cornwall. In 1928 Henry Jenner founded here at Boscawen-Un, in the course of the revival of the Cornish language and culture, the Cornish Bard Association and called it the Gorseth Kernow (Gorsedd of Cornwall).

In 1864 the area around the stone circle was first studied scientifically. The excavation reports show that the central stone already had its remarkable inclination. A wall was removed which led through the site, and a stone wall that still surrounds the stones was built and is thus an early example of preservation of archaeological monuments. A burial mound was discovered near the stone circle, in which urns were located. From this time originates one of the first illustrations of the stone circle, which John Thomas Blight made, when he wrote a book concerning the churches of Cornwall with notes concerning ancient monuments. He also drew a plan of the burial mound and sketched one of the excavated urns.

The question remains why Nineteen stones? As you will see from future sites, they too appear to have nineteen stones. Like the bluestone horseshoe in Stonehenge.

Consisting of 19 stones, the bluestone horseshoe (just inside the 5 sarsen        trilithons) had a couple of possible uses.

They could be used for counting the period from a full moon on a particular       day of the year to the next full moon that falls on that day of the year,       which would be 19 years later. Known as the Metonic cycle (after Meton,       a 5th Century BC Greek astronomer), this is correct to around 2 hours. (Postins,       1982)

It could also be used to follow the nodal cycle of the Moon, which has       a period of 18.61 years. The extremes of the Moon’s position on the horizon        with the two intermediate trilithons       and stones 8, 9, 10, and 20, 21, 22       of the sarsen circle.

The Bluestone Horseshoe (inside the five trilithons)       can also be used to predict eclipses. There are 19 of these stones, which       again relate to the 18.61-year cycle of the Moon’s wandering rising and       setting points on the horizon, and therefore also eclipses. “Due to the       way in which the lunar nodes move around the Zodiac, it takes somewhat less       than a year for the Sun to return to the same position in relation to the       nodes. This period is 346.62 days, and is connected with the repetition       of eclipses. It is known as an ‘eclipse year’. 19 eclipse years and 223       lunar months [each of 29.53 days] have the following relationship: –

19 x 346.62 = 6585.78 days,       and       223 x 29.53 = 6585.32 days.”


This means that to predict an eclipse, 223 full Moons must be counted before       the Earth, Moon and Sun are again in the same positions as at the beginning       of that time. This period of time is called the Saros, and it is       possible that Stonehenge III people discovered it. However, not all eclipses       would be predicted by this method of counting the bluestones in the horseshoe       because eclipses occur quite frequently, except with slightly different       positions of the Earth, Moon and Sun.

The other mystery of theses ancient sites lies in the alignments,and the formation of the ley lines that form from joining the ancient sites.

The above is a plan of the megalithic sites in the area of Cornwall and above that the plan of Boscawen-Un and how it may be aligned with other sites.

I hope this gives a good outline of this site. Nox.

The oldest ancient Maya ceremonial compound ever discovered in the Central American lowlands dates back 200 years before similar sites pop up elsewhere in the region, archaeologists announced today (April 25). The recently excavated plaza and pyramid would have likely served as a solar observatory for rituals.

The finding at a site called Ceibal suggests that the origins of the Maya civilization are more complex than first believed. Archaeologists hotly debate whether the Maya – famous for their complex calendar system that spurred apocalypse rumors last year – developed independently or whether they were largely inspired by an earlier culture known as the Olmec. The new research suggests the answer is neither.

“This major social change happened through interregional interactions,” said study researcher Takeshi Inomata, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona. But it doesn’t look like the Olmec inspired the Maya, Inomata told reporters. Rather, the entire region went through a cultural shift around 1000 B.C., with all nearby cultures adopting similar architectural and ceremonial styles. [See Images of the Ancient Maya Observatory]

“It’s signaling to us that the Maya were not receiving this sophisticated stuff 500 years later from somebody else, but much of the innovation we’re seeing out of the whole region may be coming out of Ceibal or a place like Ceibal,” said Walter Witschey, an anthropologist at Longwood University in Virginia, who was not involved in the study.

Residential Structures

© Takeshi Inomata
Archaeologists uncover some of the earliest residences in Ceibal. The oldest layers of the city were buried under 23 to 60 feet (7 to 18 meters) of dirt and later construction.

Oldest ritual compound

The finding comes from seven years of archaeological excavations at Ceibal, a site in central Guatemala that was occupied continuously for 2,000 years. Getting to Ceibal’s origins was no small feat: The earliest buildings were buried under 23 to 60 feet (7 to 18 meters) of sediment and later construction, said study co-researcher Daniela Triadan, also a University of Arizona anthropologist.

The earliest structures recently discovered include a plaza with a western building and an eastern platform, a pattern seen at later Maya sites and also at the Olmec center of La Venta on the Gulf Coast of what is now Mexico. The researchers used radiocarbon dating to peg the date of construction to about 1000 B.C. This technique analyzes organic materials for carbon-14, an isotope or variation of carbon that decays predictably. As such, carbon-14 acts as a chemical clock archaeologists can use to figure out how long something has been in the ground.

A construction date of 1000 B.C. makes the Ceibal structures about 200 years older than those at La Venta, meaning the Olmec’s construction practices couldn’t have inspired the Mayans, the researchers report Thursday (April 25) in the journal Science. Instead, it appears that the entire region underwent a shift around this time, with groups adopting each other’s architecture and rituals, modifying them and inventing new additions.

“We are saying there was this connection with various groups, but we are saying it was probably not one directional influence,” Inomata said.

There was an earlier Olmec center, San Lorenzo, which declined around 1150 B.C., but residents there did not build these distinctive ceremonial structures. By 850 B.C. or 800 B.C., the Maya at Ceibal had renovated their platform into a pyramid, which they continued refining until it reached a height of about 20 to 26 feet (6 to 8 m) by 700 B.C.

Starting a civilization

This early phase of Maya culture occurs before the group developed written language and before any record of their elaborate calendar system, so little is known about their beliefs, Inomata said. But the pyramid-and-plaza area was almost certainly a space for rituals. Among the artifacts found in the plaza are numerous greenstone axes, which seem to have been put there as offerings.

The architecture layout is what’s known as a “group-E assemblage,” said Witschey. These assemblages appear all over the Maya world and worked as solar observatories. From the western building, a view could stand and look at the eastern platform or pyramid, which would have posts at each end and at the center. On the summer solstice, the sunrise would occur over the northernmost marker; on the spring and fall equinoxes, it would be right over the center marker; and finally, on the winter solstice, the sun would rise over the southernmost marker, Witschey said.

“The first people who settled at Ceibal had, already, a well-developed idea about what a village would look like,” Triadan said. “The transition from a mobile hunter-gatherer and horticultural lifestyle to permanently settled agriculturalists was rapid.”

It’s not clear what might have prompted the lowland Maya to give up their semi-settled life for permanent villages and cities, Inomata said. One possibility is that maize production became more efficient around 1000 B.C. The coastal Olmec people had long been able to grow maize reasonably well, given fertile soil from rivers feeding into the Gulf of Mexico. But the Maya lowlands were less wet and less fertile, with fewer fish and fowl that the Olmec could have depended on to round out their diets. If maize farming became more productive around 1000 B.C., however, it may have prompted the Maya to start staying put.

“At that point, it probably made sense to cut down many forest trees in the Maya lowlands and then commit more strongly to an agricultural way of life,” Inomata said.

Members of the research team are currently working on environmental analysis to try to better understand the climate and weather of the area around the time of settlement. What does seem clear, Inomata said, is that Maya civilization didn’t have to arise from an earlier, failing civilization.

“This study is not just a study about this specific civilization,” he said. “We also want to think about how human society changed and how human society develops.”

What the Maya findings suggest is that a new civilization doesn’t have to arise from the dust of a previous one, but can happen through the interaction of multiple groups trading ideas, Inomata said.

“What they’re reminding us is how much the jungle still hides, how much more there is to learn and how complex a story of the evolution of this civilization we really have on our hands,” Witschey said.

Stephanie Pappas, Senior writer

Live Science – Four mysterious disk-shaped copper plates were discovered by archaeologists conducting excavations close to a necropolis of the ancient archaeological site just east of the Sea of Galilee, Israel.

Recently, from the fascinating region of the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake of Tiberias), near the Golan Heights, in the Jordan Rift Valley, northeast Israel, archaeologists reported the discovery of a submerged cone-shaped structure.

Now, the four copper plates – first unearthed during a survey two years ago at Hippos-Sussita – baffle archaeologists working in the area.


Click on image to enlargeThe excavated remains of Hippos, an aerial view. Credits: Michael Eisenberg/Hippos Excavation Project

What was the plates’ true purpose? How old the artifacts are?

Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, Israel along with other reseachers of the Hippos Excavation Project asks for help:


The four plates, showing the “inner” sides with decorative incisions and apparent nail marks. Courtesy Michael Eisenberg and the Hippos Excavation Project

“Has anyone encountered such plates and if so, do you know if they were set on wooden coffins?”

“They were found in the Hippos necropolis during several surveys”, says Israeli archaeologist Dr. Michael Eisenberg.

He directs the Hippos Excavation Project, which has uncovered remarkably well-preserved monumental remains and artifacts at this ancient mountaintop Greco-Roman city, a site that overlooks the Sea of Galilee.


“None were found during excavation, but all were found very near to robbed and open graves.

It was Dr. Alexander Iermolin, conservator from the institute of Haifa, who first found the pieces during a metal detector survey. They were totally ignored even by us as at first glance they look rather modern.”

The disk-shaped plates, approximately 20 cm in diameter, were found at the necropolis hill located 300 m south of Hippos, feature what appear to be incisions in a decorative pattern on what has been interpreted as their inner sides, with clear marks of nails and a hole in the middle of each.


As the necropolis has not yet been systematically excavated, the age and specific context of the plates could not be determined.


Click on image to enlargeHippos, the main excavation areas. Above and below, aerial views. Credits: Michael Eisenberg/Hippos Excavation Project


Hippos – The temenos south wall. Credits: Michael Eisenberg/Hippos Excavation Project


Credits: Michael Eisenberg/Hippos Excavation Project

According to Dr. Eisenberg, the necropolis is probably dated to the broad Hellenistic-Byzantine time range, as does the nearby Hippos-Sussita polis, which has been extensively excavated.
However, the plates were found outside of graves, not inside, so it is difficult to determine the provenance as they could not be associated with surrounding artifacts and human remains within the internments.

“The plates seemed to have been thrown out of the graves by ancient robbers,” says Dr. Eisenberg, who suspects that the relics were first exposed as a result of looting.

They may not be the only extant examples. “One similar plate was located recently in the Israeli treasury department, but without any context”, says Eisenberg.

The mystery surrounding the relics still remains.

The discovery in Chattisgarh is being billed as India’s biggest archaeological find in at least half a century
New Delhi: Explorers claim they have evidence of a 2,500-year-old planned city—complete with water reservoirs, roads, seals and coins—buried in Chhattisgarh, a discovery that is being billed as the nation’s biggest archaeological find in at least half a century.
The discoveries were made from Tarighat in Durg district and spanned five acres of a sparsely inhabited region beside a river, according to archaeologists from the state’s department of culture and archaeology.
“As of now, we have four 15ft high mounds around which we have evidence of pottery, coins and some terracotta figures,” said J.R. Bhagat, deputy director in the department. “Once we begin, the entire digging could take at least 5-10 years.”
The 5th and 3rd century BC—to which the Tarighat finds date—points to a period when the region was ruled by the Kushan and Satavahana dynasties in central India. While there have been extensive, previous evidence of urban growth after the first century, such finds are extremely rare for preceding periods.
“These were among the most interesting times in early India,” said Abhijit Dandekar, an archaeologist at the Deccan College, Pune. “It was the end of the period of the 16 mahajanapadas (loosely translated to great kingdoms) when the Mahabharata was supposedly set, and the beginning of the Maurya empire. There’s very little known about urban structures in this period, in regions spanning modern-day Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.”
Dandekar, who is not involved in these finds, added that evidence of towns and urbanization spanning five acres was quite significant in an Indian context, though only excavations and peer review would throw true light on the import of these findings.
He added that the excavations at Ahichhatra, near Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, that began in 1960s were the most recent evidence of large-scale town planning in India for a comparable period and, if the Chattisgarh findings were as extensive, then it would be a significant find.
“In an Indian context, an excavation has rarely been disappointing,” said Dandekar. “If you believed there’s a city, it usually turns out to be one and bigger than what you first expected.”
To be sure, Bhagat clarified that the finds still haven’t been dated using methods such as radiocarbon or thermoluminescence dating—modern, established techniques that measure the amount of carbon or the relative proportions of other elements from which exact ages of materials are deduced—but he added that the texture of the pots, the typical pattern of raised mounds etc all pointed to evidence of an urban agglomeration.
“The kind of pottery called the Red and Black Northern Pottery, the coins, etc., at the surface of the site itself show very visible signs of complex urbanization.”
Arun Raj, a Chhattisgarh-based archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India, characterized Chhattisgarh as being an untapped “gold mine” for archaeology.
“We’ve just given them permission for this dig, and I think it will be some time before we understand how important this is,” Raj said. “But this region, which has been relatively unexplored due to Naxalite conflict, could throw up several such finds.”
He added that one strand of Indian archaeological research sought to find common threads urban lifestyle patterns of the Indus Valley civilization that declined around 1300 BC, to urban formations in central India. “This may possibly falsify or add more credibility to such theories,” he said.
Jacob P. Koshy

Temple of ‘Jupiter the Stayer’ found

Posted: March 6, 2013 by phaedrap1 in Monuments, News
Tags: ,
Romulus started cult to god who made Romans unstoppable
Temple of 'Jupiter the Stayer' found

Rome, February 28 – The temple built by Romulus to celebrate the hand of Jupiter giving Roman troops their unstoppable force has been found at the foot of the Palatine Hill, Italian archaeologists say. The ruins of the shrine to Jupiter Stator (Jupiter the Stayer), believed to date to 750 BC, were found by a Rome University team led by Andrea Carandini. “We believe this is the temple that legend says Romulus erected to the king of the gods after the Romans held their ground against the furious Sabines fighting to get their women back after the famous Rape (abduction),” Carandini said in the Archeologia Viva (Living Archaeology) journal. According to myth, Romulus founded Rome in 753 BC and the wifeless first generation of Roman men raided nearby Sabine tribes for their womenfolk, an event that has been illustrated in art down the centuries. Carandini added: “It is also noteworthy that the temple appears to be shoring up the Palatine, as if in defence”. Rome’s great and good including imperial families lived on the Palatine, overlooking the Forum. Long after its legendary institution by Romulus, the cult of Jupiter the Stayer fuelled Roman troops in battle, forging the irresistible military might that conquered most of the ancient known world. In the article in Archeologia Viva, Carandini’s team said they might also have discovered the ruins of the last Palatine house Julius Caesar lived in – the one he left on the Ides of March, 44BC, on his way to death in the Senate.

GazzettaDelSud Online

El Paraiso site
The temple was discovered in one of the wings of the main pyramid at the ancient site of El Paraiso

Archaeologists in Peru say they have discovered a temple at the ancient site of El Paraiso, near the capital, Lima.

Entry to the rectangular structure, estimated to be up to 5,000 years old, was via a narrow passageway, they say.

At its centre, the archaeologists from Peru’s Ministry of Culture found a hearth which they believe was used to burn ceremonial offerings.

With 10 ruins, El Paraiso is one of the biggest archaeological sites in central Peru.

The archaeologists found the structure, measuring 6.82m by 8.04m (22ft by 26ft), in the right wing of the main pyramid.

‘Interconnected civilisation’

They had been carrying out conservation work on the site on behalf of Peru’s Ministry of Culture when they came across the remains, which had been obscured by sand and rocks.

Archaeologists examine the remains of a hearth at the centre of a temple structure
The walls would have been 2.5m (8ft) high, but only about 70cm remain with the hearth at the centre

They said the temple walls were made of stone and covered in fine yellow clay which also contained some traces of red paint.

The archaeologists said the find suggests that the communities in the Late Pre-ceramic Age (3500 BC to 1800 BC) were more closely connected than had been previously thought.

Peru’s Deputy Minister for Culture Rafael Varon said the the temple was the first structure of its kind to be found on Peru’s central coast.

“It corroborates that the region around Lima was a focus for the civilisations of the Andean territory, further bolstering its religious, economic and political importance since times immemorial,” Mr Varon said.

Archaeologist Marco Guillen, who led the team which made the discovery, said the hearth gave insight into the civilisation which had used the site.

“The main characteristic of their religion was the use of fire, which burnt in the centre,” he told the BBC’s Mattia Cabitza in Lima.

“The smoke allowed the priests to connect with their gods,” Mr Guillen said.

The Paraiso settlement once supported a farming and fishing community numbering hundreds of people.

Our correspondent says thousands of ruins are thought to remain undiscovered, making Peru a treasure-hunting destination for archaeologists and looters alike.

BBC News

Pentillie Castle: Body found in knight’s grave hunt

Posted: February 12, 2013 by phaedrap1 in Monuments, News

Human remains, found at a stately home in Cornwall, are thought to be those of the man who built it.

Sir James Tillie, who built Pentillie Castle in 1698, instructed his staff to place him in a chair with his pipe when he died.

The instructions were followed before he was removed, but no burial information has ever been found.

Archaeologists who examined a mausoleum built in 1713, upon his death, said a body had been found in a vault.

In his will, Sir James demanded that he should not be buried, but dressed in his best clothes, bound to a stout chair and placed with his books, wine and pipe on Mount Ararat on the estate.

‘Resurrection’ plan

Archaeologist Oliver Jessop said: “It would appear that potentially we do have real evidence that the story or the myth actually was true.

“In the early 19th Century it has been suggested that the bones were removed to the local churchyard.

“I can confirm that that’s not the case and there is a body actually still inside the vault.”

Mr Jessop said the vault was found after archaeologists dug an exploratory hole in the internal floor of the mausoleum and discovered a brick-built roof.

Inside it a structure with leather studs and woodwork with handles on it was found, which are thought to be either a chair or coffin.

Ted Coryton, the owner of Pentillie Castle, said: “It’s an extraordinary legacy really, 300 years after his death and we’re all talking about it, it doesn’t happen to many people so maybe he decided to be resurrected, then maybe this is his resurrection.”

The team had also hoped to find out if Sir James’ wife, Elizabeth, was buried with him, but this is yet to be discovered.