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Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have discovered the remains of a decapitated warrior and a pre-Hispanic oven meant for ceramic production at the foot of El Tlatoani hill in Morelos, Mexico, dating back to the Late classic Period (350-600AD).
The burial of the warrior was found during a dig at the lower part of the mountain. “In this area we found a funerary cist with an individual accompanied by very expensive furnishings. His getup consisted of earflaps and a green stone beaded necklace, along with other artifacts made with this material and a series of pots. Among the osseous remains they identified the inferior extremities and the cervical vertebrae with traces of cuts, which indicates his decapitation”, said archaeologist Raul Francisco Gonzalez Quesada.
Experts believe that, based on the qualities of the clothes he was wearing and the location of his burial, the individual was probably a member of the elite of Tlayacapense society. However, it also looks like he was a warrior since his skull showed signs of having being hit by the tip of an arrow years before his death.
The site where the remains were found are still under excavation and so are not yet open to the public but archaeologists have found a treasure trove of artefacts across dozens of archaeological sites in the area. “It’s wider than what had been believed” said Gonzalez Quesada. “The research made here has the purpose of discovering who built here and who kept the temple-palace functioning, as well as knowing more about the elite and the agricultural-handicraft communities that must have participated in the keeping of this sanctuary in the high zone”.
Remains of Genghis Khan palace unearthed
Archaeologists have unearthed the site of Genghis Khan's palace and believe the long-sought grave of the 13th century Mongolian warrior is somewhere nearby, the head of the excavation team said Wednesday.
A Japanese and Mongolian research team found the complex on a grassy steppe 150 miles east of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, said Shinpei Kato, professor emeritus at Tokyo's Kokugakuin University.
Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) united warring tribes to become leader of the Mongols in 1206. After his death, his descendants expanded his empire until it stretched from China to Hungary.
Genghis Khan built the palace in the simple shape of a square tent attached to wooden columns on the site at around 1200, Kato said.
The researchers found porcelain buried among the ruins dated to the warrior's era, helping identify the grounds, Kato said. A description of the scenery around the palace by a messenger from China's Southern Tang Dynasty in 1232 also matched the area, he added.
Genghis Khan's tomb is believed to be nearby because ancient texts say court officials commuted from the mausoleum later built on the grounds to the burial site daily to conduct rituals for the dead.
Kato said his group was not aiming specifically to find the grave. Still, he said finding it would help uncover the secrets of Genghis Khan's power.
"Genghis Khan conquered Eurasia and built a massive empire. There had to have been a great deal of interaction between east and west at the time, in terms of culture and the exchange of goods," Kato said in an interview. "If we find what items were buried with him, we could write a new page for world history."
Genghis Khan's grave site is one of archaeology's enduring mysteries. According to legend, in order to keep it secret, his huge burial party killed anyone who saw them en route to it then servants and soldiers who attended the funeral were massacred.
Kato said an ancient Chinese text says a baby camel was buried at the grave in front of her mother so the parent could lead Khan's family to the tomb when needed.
Archaeologists have been forced to abandon their searches for Khan's grave in the past, however, due to protests excavation would disturb the site.
An American-financed expedition to find the tomb stopped work in 2002 after being accused by a prominent Mongolian politician of desecrating traditional rulers' graves.
In 1993, Japanese archaeologists terminated a search for the tomb after a poll in Ulan Bator found the project unpopular.
According to Mongolian tradition, violating ancestral tombs destroys the soul that serves as protector.
If researchers do find the tomb, they would also likely discover the graves of Kublai Khan — Genghis' grandson who spread the Mongol empire to southeast Asia and became the first emperor of China's Yuan Dynasty — at the same time.
According to ancient texts, 13 or 14 Khan warriors, including Genghis and Kublai, are buried in the same place.
Kato said he would step aside and leave the matter of how to proceed up to his Mongolian colleagues if the team discovered the tombs.
"We will consult our Mongolian colleagues and decide what the best next step would be — we may have to escape back to Japan," Kato said, laughing. "Excavation should be done by Mongolians — not by those of us from other countries. It is up for Mongolians to decide."
Young Warrior in Gruesome Iron Age Grave Was ‘Killed’ Again After Death
He was somewhere between the age of 17 and 25 when he died, apparently of natural causes. But for reasons that are unclear, this warrior’s body was speared and clubbed prior to burial, in what is now a fascinating Iron Age mystery. A distinct possibility is that it was done to prevent him from rising from the dead, say archaeologists.
Two intriguing 3rd century BC grave sites were uncovered by the MAP Archaeological Practice at the Pocklington site in Yorkshire, England, as archaeologist and science writer David Keys reports in the Independent. The first gravesite contains the skeletal remains of a young man, which exhibit signs of an elaborate, gruesome funeral ritual in which his dead body was stabbed repeatedly. A woman roughly the same age was buried nearby. The second gravesite contains the remains of an older individual who was buried along with his chariot and a pair of horses. Disturbingly, it appears that both horses were buried alive.
The young Iron Age warrior appears to have died of natural causes. Examination of the grave showed he was ritually pierced by nine spears—five with iron tips and four with bone tips. He also received a crushing blow to the skull, possibly with a wooden club or similar blunt weapon. These injuries appear to have been inflicted onto the body after death, according to the archaeologists, who have posited three possible explanations, as recounted by Keys:
One potential explanation is that, although he was a respected warrior, he had died of natural causes, and not in battle. Perhaps significantly his shield had been deliberately dismantled. But the ritual spearing of his corpse might have allowed him the privilege of finally dying a warrior’s death.
A second possibility could be that, at least after death, he was feared. In many parts of the world there is archaeological and folklore evidence for a tradition in which some corpses (those of suspected “vampires” and other “revenants”) were systematically speared by sharp objects (usually of metal or wood) to “neutralize” them.
What’s more, as in the Pocklington case, the metal or other objects used to pierce the corpse were usually not withdrawn from the dead body, but were left there—in effect, for eternity.
A third possibility is the individual was put in the ground alive and then ritually murdered.
But for this third scenario to work, the archaeologists would have to explain the absence of defensive wounds and the orientation of the body in the fetal position. It’s not an outright impossibility that the man was murdered during the ritual, as some kind of offering, but the first two scenarios seem more likely.
Paula Ware, the director of the project, believes the wounds were inflicted after death, an act done to “release the youngster’s spirit, and. a sign of respect from the community,” as the Yorkshire Post reports .
Lapa do Santo, incidentally, is also where the oldest human skeleton in South America was found, named Luzia, and the oldest rock art, which turns out to be a carving of a man with a giant phallus, dubbed “Little Horny Man.”
So yes, our hunter-gatherer ancestors sound just as interested in skulls and penis art as your average teenage boy today. But before you snicker, remember that these fascinations pop up all over the world throughout human history: sex and fertility, obviously, but also skulls.
Even though many people consider skulls morbid or even sinister today, for most of our existence people have had a fairly cozy relationship with human heads. They’re still pretty popular, too. A John Varvatos skull scarf costs 250 bucks.
In fact, I’m sitting at my kitchen table with a bright purple skull grinning at me as I write. It’s a life-sized ceramic head decorated with turquoise swirls in a Mexican Day of the Dead style. My husband and mother-in-law looked a little concerned when I dashed into a San Antonio gift shop to snatch it from the display window.
But I love my ceramic skull, and it’s part of a long symbolic tradition. People have always cut off heads and kept them, or buried them, or used them for all manner of purposes. Skulls can be war trophies: The Inca emperor Atahualpa drank from the gold-encrusted skull of a rival, maybe his brother. In fact, more than one culture figured out that a cranium makes a great cup. Or they can be more peaceful reminders of our ancestors.
“There is often no link about these similar forms of behavior practiced in different part of the world,” says Silvia Bello, an anthropologist who studies death practices at the Natural History Museum in London. “The fascination of humans for heads and skulls seems to be the common ground.”
Archaeologists Find Remains of Real-Life Xena: Warrior Princess
Archaeologists in Kazakhstan found the “perfectly preserved” remains of an ancient warrior (reminiscent of the fabled Xena from the show, Xena: Warrior Princess. She would have lived between the 11 th century between and the fourth century A.D. in a remarkable discovery, the Telegraph reports.
The exciting finding comes after researchers had been working in the area for 23 years. And the discovery of the ancient remains is especially striking because the researchers had not found evidence of female warriors in the region as a result of their research in the past.
THE REAL-LIFE XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS
A comparison has already been made to the titular protagonist of “Xena: Warrior Princess” by Jeva Lange of The Week. Though unlike Xena, the warrior whose remains were discovered is very real, there may be some truth to the comparison.
Along with some arrows, the scientists discovered a sword placed near the woman’s left hand and a knife placed near her right hand, an indication that she was a distinguished fighter. In addition to the weapons, the bowls and pots also found with her body suggest that the warrior was probably a wealthy figure during her time – which would perhaps make her a “warrior princess”.
The researchers believe that the woman was a significant citizen of the archaic state of Kanguy, which existed in modern-day Kazakhstan. It is also thought that the warrior was probably the leader of a group of nomads that lived somewhere in the country.
The National Museum of Kazakhstan in Astana plans on exhibiting the discovery soon.
August has been a fruitful month for archaeologists in Kazakhstan. A recent analysis of the remains of the ancient Saka Princess found that were two years ago determined that the woman died between the ages of 40 and 45 years. Along with these findings, the Kazakh government recently received 5,000 historical documents under a heritage program and Paleolithic drawings just beyond its border with Siberia were ascertained to be between 8,000 and 10,000 years old.
OTHER FEMALE WARRIORS
If you liked this article, you should check out this SparkNotes list of the “Top 10 Most Badass Female Warriors in History.”
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Archaeologists find a “wall of skulls” in Mexico City, the remains of captives and sacrifices to the Aztec god
The new discovery was announced after the eastern portion of the tower was excavated along with the outer façade, five years after the northeastern portion was discovered.
119 skulls belonging to prisoners of war or ritual victims were placed on a structure of wooden poles and twigs, El Pais reports. This is the eastern fragment of the tower of skulls with a diameter of 4.7 meters, dedicated to the god Huitzilopochtli. She is about 500 years old.
The 4.7 meters ( 15.4 ft) diameter tower is believed to have been built around the end of the 15th century. In total, more than 600 skulls were found at the site, which the Mexican authorities described as one of the country’s most important archaeological discoveries in recent years.
The statement noted that in Mesoamerica, human sacrifice was seen as a way to ensure the continued existence of the universe. For this reason, experts consider the tower “a building of life, not death.”
The first tsompantli fragment was discovered five years ago. Two Belgian businessmen were about to open a chocolate museum in Mexico City. They had to abandon their plans, as skulls were found during construction. In total, including new discoveries, 603 skulls were found in this place, including three children.
“We cannot determine how many of these people were warriors. Some may have been captives destined for sacrificial ceremonies. But we know that they were all consecrated, that is, turned into gifts for the gods or even personifications of the deities themselves,” archaeologist Raul Barrera Rodriguez of the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), said.
The tunnel was built during the reign of Emperor Montezuma I and is associated with the god of water and fertility – Tlaloc, archaeologists assure.
Representatives of the Mexican Institute of Anthropology and History noted that the wall was decorated with several cave paintings and statues, which are considered “of great archaeological value in the city of Ecatepec de Morelos in the central state of Mexico. carvings were found near the wall, as well as what was once a wooden gate.
Other finds include artifacts from glass, porcelain, majolica, in addition to the remains of statues. The tunnel with mysterious bas-reliefs was part of a dam built by the Aztecs later it was included in the drainage system built by the Spaniards in the 17th century.
A Mysterious Cluster of Neatly Decapitated Skeletons Have Been Unearthed in England
An archaeological dig in Suffolk, England has yielded up a Roman-era cemetery treasure: 52 beautifully preserved skeletons dating back to the 4th century.
And of those skeletons, many had been decapitated, their disembodied heads placed neatly at their sides or feet for burial, or buried without bodies altogether. Only 17 skeletons had been buried normally.
It's a really rare and peculiar discovery, according to the archaeologists who found the remains.
"We weren't expecting to find this many or that well preserved," said archaeologist Andrew Peachey of Archaeological Solutions, the company conducting the survey ahead of a new housing development in the village of Great Whelnetham.
It's known that Great Whelnetham was a Roman settlement, starting around the mid- to late- first century CE, and occupied for nearly 2,000 years but, because the ground is fine sand, it was expected that any skeletons would have long disintegrated.
So when the team started excavating skeletons, the remains of men, women and children of all ages, indicating that they had lived in the settlement, it was a surprise.
Generally speaking, the Romans buried their dead much like we do - laying on their backs, neatly arranged, often with significant items. But in every Roman cemetery, there can be found a number of what are called "deviant" burials that break from this norm.
What makes the Great Whelnetham cemetery so unusual is the number of deviant burials, Peachey told the BBC's Lesley Dolphin in an interview.
"What you rarely find - really only in three or four cemeteries throughout the country - is such a very high proportion of deviant burials," he said.
"To the point where, in this population, it should actually be regarded as the normal practice."
There have been other Roman cemeteries found in the area, but only this one seems to have observed this practice - although why they did so is a mystery.
It's also worth noting that the deceased had not been executed. The archaeologists believe that the heads had been very carefully removed from the bodies after death, cut cleanly from the front just behind the jaw, unlike the violent, low cuts commonly found in executions.
Peachey notes that one explanation could be a segment of the population may have belonged to a known Roman cult that venerated the head as part of the soul, and removed the head as part of their religious burial rites.
Another possible explanation is that the population came from somewhere else far away, perhaps as slaves, bringing the burial practice with them.
"Part of our analysis going forward, and one of these emerging sciences which is continually getting better and better, is looking at proteins in the bones, is looking at isotope ratios in the bones, and we'd like to know where this population came from, and this might be able to tell us more about that," Peachey said.
What we do know about the deceased is that most of them had lived until middle age or later, although there was one small child and two children aged about 9 or 10 among the deviant burials.
They also had well developed upper bodies, meaning they probably worked in agriculture, and were well-fed, with access to sugars and carbohydrates, leading to poor dental hygiene.
A more detailed analysis will be conducted on the skeletons, which have been moved to a museum archive.
"The next part is to bring their story to life, and to make that history of the village, and of Suffolk in general," Peachey said.
This decapitated Roman body has a bone comb on its pelvis.
Another decapitated Roman skeleton, which has its head placed under one knee. It's unclear why these bodies were decapitated, but it was likely a funerary rite associated with a particular group within the local population, Peachey said. [Read the full story about the Roman cemetery]
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Archaeologists Find Personal Equipment of Bronze Age Warrior
Archaeologists have unearthed a collection of 31 metal objects, including a bronze tool with a birch handle, a knife, a chisel, bronze cylinders, and ingot fragments, at the site of a Bronze Age battlefield in the Tollense Valley in north-eastern Germany.
Photograph of the collection of bronze objects from the battlefield site in the Tollense Valley, Germany. Image credit: V. Minkus.
The Bronze Age site at the Tollense River was discovered in 1996 by an amateur archaeologist.
The battle took place around 1250 BCE and involved more than 2,000 combatants.
Archaeologists found the remains of over 140 individuals (young adult males) along with many bronze objects.
Their bones showed signs of recent trauma — the result of close and long-range weapons — and healed lesions, which probably indicate they were accustomed to combat.
Isotopic results suggested that at least some of the group were not from the local area, but until now, it was not clear how far they traveled.
“The discovery of a new set of artifacts from the remains of battle provides important new clues,” said University of Göttingen’s Professor Thomas Terberger and colleagues.
During the excavations, they found an assemblage of 31 metal objects (total 0.25 kg in weight) tightly packed together, suggesting they were in a container made of wood or cloth.
The items included a bronze tool with a birch handle, a knife, a chisel, and fragments of bronze.
“At the top of the deposit was a bronze awl with a wooden (birch) handle and a knife,” the researchers explained.
“Below, were a chisel, fragments of bronze sheet, three cylindrical objects, at least three ingot fragments and an array of small bronze pieces, such as casting waste and scraps.”
“In addition, a decorated belt box as well as three dress pins, a bronze spiral, a human skull and a rib, were recovered from the same findspot.”
The objects are similar to those found in Bronze Age burials of southern Central Europe, and likely represent the personal equipment of a warrior from that region who died on the battlefield in Northern Europe.
“This is the first discovery of personal belongings on a battlefield and it provides insights into the equipment of a warrior,” Professor Terberger said.
“The fragmented bronze was probably used as a form of early currency.”
“The discovery also provides us with clues about the origins of the men who fought in this battle and there is increasing evidence that at least some of the warriors originated in southern Central Europe.”
The finds are described in a paper published in the October 2019 issue of the journal Antiquity.
Tobias Uhlig et al. 2019. Lost in combat? A scrap metal find from the Bronze Age battlefield site at Tollense. Antiquity 93 (371): 1211-1230 doi: 10.15184/aqy.2019.137