Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Gundestrup cauldron: Is It a Celtic Artefact or Indian?

Gundestrup cauldron

Gundestrup Cauldron – Popular Silver Bowl

A popular silver bowl located over hundred years back in a turf swamp in Jutland in Denmark is the Gundestrup Cauldron. It was discovered by peat cutters in a peat bog known as Raevemose. At that point of time, the Danish government offered a reward to the discoverers who consequently fought among themselves over its separation.

Investigations by Palaeobotanical on the peat bog during the time it was located indicated that when the cauldron had been deposited, the land seemed dry and the turf had gradually expanded over it. The mode of heaping over the cauldron indicated an attempt of making it unobtrusive and concealed. Another investigation was conducted in 2002 of Reavemose, and it was assumed that the peat bog could have prevailed when the cauldron had been submerged.

Decorated with Repousse Work

The Gundestrup cauldron comprises of a round-shaped bottom cup, making the lower area of the cauldron known as the base plate. There are five interior plates above and another seven exterior plates. The eighth exterior plate is missing, which needs to encircle the cauldron. There are only two segments of the round rim towards the top of the cauldron.

Apart from the decorated round medallion towards the centre of the interior area, the plate at the base is said to be smooth and not decorated internally and externally. However, the other plates seem to be decorated greatly with repousse work beaten from beneath to move out the silver. Other procedures had been utilised to add more aspect bringing out wide trimming together with some use of decorated pieces of glass for the figures. Overall the weight of the Gundestrup cauldron is just below 9 kilograms.

Gundestrup: Largest Specimen of European Iron Age

Its exteriors have been richly decorated with various scenes of war and sacrifice, a goddess flanked by elephants such as Gajalakshmi, deities wrestling beasts and a mediating figure with stag’s antlers. The Gundestrup cauldron dates back to the middle of the 2nd century BC.

Taking the elephants into consideration, the iconography should be Indic while the yogic figure in cross-legged Indian pose appears to be Pasupati (Siva). The Gundestrup cauldron is said to be one of the largest specimens of silver of European Iron Age. Its diameter was 69 cm and a height of 42 cm. When the site was excavated, the Gundestrup cauldron was located in a dismantled state together with various other pieces piled beneath the base in a marshland.


Elements of Gaulish & Thracian Origin

Though the Gundestrug cauldron was traced in Denmark, it could not have been produced there. Elements of Gaulish and Thracian origin signs have been seen in the workmanship, metallurgy and images. Procedures and basics of the style of the panel are connected with the Thracian silver, and most of the description of the human figure is linked to the Celts.

However several attempts to connect the scene with that to the Celtic mythology seem to be questioned. Another characteristic of the iconography has originated from the Near East. Hospitability probably was the responsibility of the Celtic leaders. Though the cauldron seems to be an important item of prestige metalwork, they are generally smaller and plain.

Gundestrup: Variation of Female-Male depiction

The Gundestrug cauldron had been traced in parts, and the same had to be reassembled. Sophus Muller determined the traditional order of the plated and was the first to analyse the cauldron. He utilises his reasoning on the positions of the trace solder placed towards the rim of the bowl.

A puncture sign in two cases tends to penetrate the interior and exterior plated supporting in creating the order. In its concluding stage, the plates are placed in a variation of female-male depiction and presuming that the missing plate could be of a female. However, not all the analysts are in agreement with Muller’s comparison.

According to Timothy Taylor, the art historian, he stated that besides the two cases of puncturing, the comparison cannot be determined from the point of view of the solder alignment. He debates that the plates do not seem to be directly adjacent to each other. They tend to be divided by a 2 cm distance. Hence the plate in this order is not to be read with conviction as the true narrative, should one exist.

Carved By Indian Craftsmen

As per some of the historians, the Gundestrup cauldron had been carved by craftsmen of Indian origin in Thrace. The National Museum of Denmark has raised this question, ‘The Gundestrup cauldron’s motifs draw the observer into an alien universe far from that of the people who deposited in the bog in north Jutland.

Elephants, lions and several unknown gods, represented in a different style, indicate that the cauldron originally came from a distant area to the south or southeast. Exactly where it was made is still open to question. Perhaps it was a gift to a great chieftain or could it have been war booty?’ Taylor mentioned in the Scientific American that `a shared pictorial and technical tradition stretched from India to Thrace where the cauldron was made and then to Denmark.

For instance, yogic rituals are inferred from the poses seen of the antler-bearing man on the cauldron and of an ox-headed figure on a seal impress from the city of Mohenjo-Daro. The other three connections are the ritual baths of goddesses with the elephants, Lakshmi is the Indian goddess, Visnu, wheel gods and Hariti, the goddesses with braided hair and paired birds.

Theory of Thracian Origin

The bowl has several features which seem to have some similarity with the ornamental plate from the Thracian grave at Stara Zagora in Bulgaria. Therefore its theory is of Thracian origin. From the observation of the clothing of the figures, it seems to be Indian, considering the woven herringbone tight costumes together with the cummerbund which both the men as well as the women seem to attire themselves with.

It has been presumed that the Gundestrup cauldron had been the work of several silversmiths. With the use of scanning electron microscopy, it has been identified by Benner Larson that 15 various punches had been utilised on the plates. These were categorised into three various toolsets. No single plate had marks of more than one of these sets which portray that at least three diverse silversmiths had worked on it.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Pashupati Seal- Horned Gods

 Pashupati Seal – Horned Headdress

The finding of the ancient Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro sites has provided a different outlook on the ancient history of this town. The well planned urban spaces together with the town plans, are said to be amazing. Observing the relics discovered at the site has provided important perceptions on the culture of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC). One of great importance is the `Pashupati Seal’. This well-known seal is said to be the carving of a man having horned headdress.

He has been a subject of celebrated conjecture. Many have been speculating on whether he was a man in a horned headdress or a horned god of devotion. Was this idol a predecessor to the Hindu Shiva? Nonetheless, the Pashupati Seal is not considered to be completely unique. Identical icons have been traced to several cultures of the world.

Seals – Trade Mechanisms

The seal has been engraved on a chip of steatite which is a soft stone, resistant to decay and soft for carving. With the discovery of the significant number of the seals, it has led. Some of the scholar with the opinion that seals cutting had been one of the leading industries of Harappan settlements. The work of art of these seals portrays a representation of the religious character and the kind of culture as well as the social life of the people of that age.

The pictographic inscription seen on the Pashupati seal is of great importance since they give some insight into the language used by the people of that age. It could probably be that seals were utilised as a part of trade mechanisms. Indication of religious belief and practices of the people is also gathered from these seals.

Ancient Depictions

The Pashupati Seal is considered to be one of the ancient depictions of the Hindu god Shiva. Pashupati means `lord of animals, and it is one of the epithets of Shiva or probably Rudra. These are connected with asceticism, yoga and linga and regarded as the lord of animals. The seal had been discovered in 1928-29, Block 1, Southern area of the DK-G vicinity of Mohenjo-Daro.

It had been located at a depth of 3.9 meters beneath the surface. The excavation had been carried out by Ernest J. H. Mackay at Mohenjo-Daro. He had dated the seal to the Intermediate 1 Period presently considered to be around 2350-2000 BCE. According to his report of 1937-38, he had numbered the Pashupati Seal as 420, providing it with its alternate name.

Pashupati Seal Initial Report & Analysis

Archaeologist, John Marshall had provided an initial report and analysis of the iconography of the Pashupati Seal. He had served as the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India and had headed the excavations of the Indus Valley sites. He perceived the central figure as a male deity with three faces and probably a fourth one facing the back. The figure is seen seated in yogic position on a throne with bangles on both arms along with the headdress. Images of five symbols of the Indus script are seen on both the sides of the headdress.

This is made up of two outward extended curved horns of buffalo style together with two upward jutting points. Towards the centre of the headdress, a sole branch having three pipal leaves is seen. Seven bangles on the left arm and six on the right are seen where the hands have been placed on the knees. The heels are positioned together beneath the groin while the feet are seen projecting away from the edge of the throne. Carvings at the feet of the throne are similar to those of the hoof of a bovine, seen on the bull and the unicorn seals. On the back of the seal, a grooved and perforated boss is seen.

Legend & Art – Strength & Beauty

These animals have stirred plenty of legend and art with their strength and beauty. Horns could be connected with power and virility since the finest bulls tend to have the biggest and the most splendid horns. In truth, powdered horns of animals have been prescribed and consumed in some area of Asian societies, illegally.

The Indus Valley unicorn seals may have been examples of the ancient myths with regards to strange and supernatural horned animals. The horned idol on the Pashupati Seal could be interpreted as Bada Dev or Mahadev, the main idol of several tribal societies. It is observed that the meditating yogi is heavily decorated with jewellery and his arms are totally covered with bangles. These were the features which the dokra craft utilised in the tribes of Chhattisgarh.

Pashupati Seal, Utilised as Modern Identity Cards

Several seals have been found from the sites generally made of steatite and some of agate, chert, copper, terracotta and faience. These depicted beautiful images of animals like unicorn bull, tiger, elephant, rhinoceros, bison, buffalo goat and much more. The main intention of the same could be commercial. They were also utilised as amulets worn by the person or probably as modern identity cards. The standard size of the Pashupati Seal was 2 x 2 square inches.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Archaeologists in Peru find remains of 227 sacrificed children

history mystery

Skeletal Remain of Children – Sacrificial Site in Peru

Archaeologists have located skeletal remains of around 227 children along the coastal desert area, north of Lima, Peru. They had excavated the site utilised by the pre-Columbian Chimu culture which is said to be one of the massive discovery of child slaughter. According to Adina reports, the remains of the children date back between 13th to the 15th centuries.This sacrificial site had been located near Huanchaco, which is a tourist beach side spot north of Lima.

This location was considered to be one of the ports preferred by the pre-Colombian Chimu culture, a society which existed around the year 900. It was located towards the northern coast of Peru till they were defeated by the Inca in the 15th century. It is believed that these children had been slain and buried there, some hundreds of years ago.

It could have been a huge ritual sacrifice administered on these children. As per investigators excavating the site, this seemed to be one of the biggest burials ground of children. Chief archaeologist Feren Castillo informed news site AFP, `wherever you dig, there was another one’.

Killed as Offerings to God

Castillo is of the belief that the site was significant of adjoining burial grounds wherein huge groups of children had marched to the coast and had eventually been stabbed in the chest one by one. It was found that their chest had been cut open and in some instances, their hearts were missing. They had all been buried in a mass grave.

Experts presumed it to be a likely systematic killing ritual on observing a horizontal cut across the breastbone which according to them could be inflicted on the children to remove the heart The archaeologist believed that the children at Huanchaco could be in the age group of 4 and 14 years and some of the bodies had traces of skin and hair when their remains were discovered.

Taking into consideration, the location of the site and the indication of the bodies buried during wet weather, Castillo was of the opinion that the children could have been killed as offerings to the gods, controlling the El Nino phenomenon. This was a biannual climate cycle which would end in catastrophic storms with hurricanes in South America.

Slaughtered to Appease El Nino Event

El Nino was a weather pattern wherein the areas of the Pacific seemed to get warmer occasionally. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mentioned on its website, `the warmer tropical Pacific waters cause changes to the global atmospheric circulation, causing a wide range of changes to global weather.

When the Pacific Ocean would get warm significantly, due to the weather occurrence, it would have an overwhelming effect in the region. The children could have been slaughtered and sacrificed to appease the El Nino event during wet climate. This ghastly site is in the proximity of the UNESCO world heritage site of Chan Chan.

Experts in Chile mentioned in a separate project have revealed new insights on how the Inca civilization utilised `trophy heads’ in maintaining power over captured people. At its pinnacle, in the 16th century, the Inca Empire covered present day Peru together with areas of Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. More sites have been discovered lately. Huge collection of skulls buried under the streets of present day Mexico City, provide glimpses of a horrific Aztec human sacrifice of the Chimu culture.

The Chimu Culture

This type of weather motivated sacrifice could have taken place at the proximate Chimu site of burial of Huanchaquito. The Chimu culture was very prominent between the years 1200 and 1400, towards the Peruvian coast. This area had been frequently utilised for child sacrifice as spiritual ceremonial. Being one of the most powerful civilisation in Peru, the Chimu civilisation together with its territory expanded towards the coastline of the country till it had been captured in 1475, by the Inca Empire.

Remains of around 140 children were found in 2018. Researchers discovered remains of around 200 massacre llamas in the adjoining areas and it was considered to be the biggest child burial ground in the world. Other areas in Peru have also revealed more secrets. The remains of over 140 children and 200 llamas or alpacas were discovered in April 2018, at a 15th century sacrificial site near Huanchaquito-Las Llamas. According to radiocarbon it reveals that the remains could be from the era of 1450 A.D.

Excavation at Huanchaquito around 2011

According to report, the findings of many Mayan artifacts discovered towards the bottom of Guatemalan lake could have been utilised in ritual animal sacrifice during that era. The excavation had been carried out at Huanchaquito around 2011.

However, the discoveries had been published by National Geographic, last year and this was helpful financially in the investigation of the case. Researchers also came across some footprints which survived the rain and erosion. These footprints resembled those of the children which lead them to their death.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cedars of Lebanon- The Cedars of God

Cedars of Lebanon

Cedars of Lebanon – Economy of Ancient Lebanon

In ancient times the cedars of Lebanon seemed to be very famous trees and were considered as the economy of ancient Lebanon. Usually mentioned in the Scripture as cedars of Lebanon, its wood is aromatic and durable and was preferred for building in Iron Age Israel. In the Bible it is mentioned that David utilised it in building his palace (2 Sam 5:11: 1 Chr 17:1) while Solomon made use of it in building the temple and his palace.

The cedars are massive, beautiful trees which grow in mountainous regions at altitudes of 3,300 to 6,500 feet. They are traced in Lebanon, Cyprus and south-central Turkey. The cedar trees produce cones which grow over the branches and reach a height of 100 feet. The trunk grows to 6 feet in diameter. In comparison to the trees of Israel, the cedar is an expansive tree which is very much praised in the Bible.

The Cedars of God: Land in the Midst of Mountain & Sea

The cedars of Lebanon were used from the dense forests of the mountains and beneath were the fertile land in Beqa Valley with natural harbours lined along the coast. Lebanon geography separates the country into various regions. Viewing the map of Lebanon, one observes it as a land in the midst of mountain and sea. This could help in creating international economy reaching to the far flung regions of the world.

Lebanon was positioned in the centre of Syria and Palestine and both the countries profited immensely from the cedars of Lebanon. Lebanon had been placed in an exclusion position to expand its wealth towards eastward along the trade routes as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Hence the history of Lebanon seems to have a diverse and rich history owing to its ease of travel, trade along the land caravan routes as well as the sea-trade routes.

Esh-Shouf Cedar Reserve

The cedars of Lebanon over the years got relentlessly exhausted. In order to refill the forests, the government of Lebanon has been taking great measures in preserving the cedars. The largest Lebanon’s naturereserve is the Esh-Shouf Cedar Reserve which had been established in 1996.It includes oak and juniper forests together with three cedar forests namely, Barouk Maasser Al-Shouf, Ain Zhalta-Bmohary.

The Esh-Shouf Cedar Reserve cedar forests comprises of 25% of all the rest of cedars prevailing in Lebanon. The cedars of Lebanon were transported west towards the coastal port cities after they were chopped from the snow-capped peaks and loaded to Phoenician ships where it was shipped all over the world.

The cedars of God in some cases like the one in the midst of Hiram and Solomon were bundled together on rafts and transported along the coast to scheduled ports. Byblos, Tyre and Sidon were some of the ports of Phoenician where its culture dominated Lebanon creating an impact on ancient Israel in a tremendous way. Its shoreline seems to be rocky towards the north and sandy in the south.

Cedars of Lebanon- Important Religious Significance

The name `Lebanon’ was derived from the snowcapped mountain peaks. Owing to its closeness to the sea, it enabled the growth of great port cities which molded from natural harbors.The Phoenician culture became expert sailors of ancient times who dominated the nautical occupation and activity. Over the years, several people utilised cedar of Lebanon from the forest.

It was used in building ships by the Phoenicians, while the Egyptians utilised the wood to make paper whereas the people like the Romans and Turks misused the natural treasure for the purpose of trade. It holds an important religious significance and on many occasions, a reference of it, has been made in the Bible. The wood was utilised by Solomon to build up Jerusalem while Emperor Hadrian administered them as royal domain which hindered their destructions.

World Heritage Site- Cedars of Lebanon

At present the cedar of God is still being exploited in spite of the attempt to protect them is being done by Queen Victoria. The British soldiers, had cut down the tree inhabited, by misusing it for railroads at the time of the World War One.

Currently the majority of Cedar trees are situated on the Arz Mountains in Lebanon where the site is considered as UNESCO and the forest has been considered as one of the World Heritage site which is well protected and cherished. As one moves eastward from the coast, Lebanon’s diagram tends to change significantly.You get to see the full view of the Lebanese Mountain towering over the horizon.Characteristic of Lebanon is separated by this range with the Anti-Lebanese Mountains further east which was the source of their prized cedars of Lebanon.

Also known as the Mount Lebanon, the Western Mountain Range of Lebanon are said to be the highest and most rocky of the two ranges wherein from this range, the most popular timber had been collected. These trees were utilised by the Phoenicians to construct their extensive navy and also to trade and build their massive evolution.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Denisovans: Jawbone Reveals Ancient Human Denisovan Lived in oxygen-starved Himalayas

Denisovans Jawbone

Ancient Human Ancestor – Denisovans

Denisovans, ancient human ancestor, has been revealed by archaeologists, dating 160,000 years back. This is said to be oxygen starved Tibetan Plateau, 11,000 feet above sea level. Research on the genes of the species located in some present people like the Sherpas showed signs of them thriving at high altitudes.

Earlier, it wasunknow how some of the Tibetan natives flourished at these altitudes when the level of the oxygen seemed to be 40% less than that of the sea level.Archaeologists who discovered half a mandible/jaw bone state that the presently non-existent race existed around 100,000 years at a high altitude region.
It was informed that the bone had been located in the year 1980 in a cave in China by a monk before it had been evaluated by researchers. It has been considered to be one of the oldest hominin fossil ever located in the Himalayan region at such a high altitude.

Survive At High Altitudes

It was assumed that Denisovans have interbred with primitive Homo sapiens. Hence their genes are the reason why some types of humans tend to be capable of living at high altitudes.Denisovans DNA samples have been discovered all over Asia stretching right up to Australia and presently in Melanesia.

The Denisovans together with their sub-species, the Neanderthals have been considered to have multiplied with the ancestors of the present generation. The present day Sherpas and Tibetans seemed to have inherited the Denisovans genetic deviations which enabled them to survive at high altitudes.

The cave where the jawbone had been unearthed, Baishiva Karst Cave is said to be situated at an altitude of 10,760 feet. The researchers have not been successful in locating any DNA traces in the fossil though managed to remove proteins from one of the molars.

Archaic Hominins

On scrutiny, it was believed to be that of Denisovans. The research led by Dr Dongiu Zhang, co-leading the research, of Lanzhou University from Gansu province of China had stated that `Archaic hominins occupied the Tibetan plateau in the Middle Pleistocene and had successfully adapted to high altitude, low oxygen environments long before the regional arrival of modern Homo sapiens.

As per the research reported in Nature, the jawbone which was well maintained is said to be tough with very big molars, structures shared by Neanderthals and Denisovans. Researchers were able to date the fossil to at least 160,000 year old, due to the covering of heavy carbonate crust layer. Ancient specimen from Denisova Cave in Siberia seemed to be of the same time era.

Function Related to Fuel-Efficient Car 

Initially a local monk had discovered the Denisovans jawbone in 1980 and had donated the same to the sixth Gung-Thang Living Buddha, a Buddhist Lama who had then passed it to Lanzhou University.

The extinct species of humans, the Denisovans seemed to have lived in Siberia and as far as Southeast Asia. Though the remains of these early humans had only been exposed at one site at the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, the DNA analysis indicated that they were widespread.

DNA from the early humans identified in the genomes of modern humans over a large area in Asia, indicated that they once covered an enormous range. According to research it has been revealed that they had established a function related to that of a fuel-efficient car. Their strengths seemed to get more mileage inspite of less oxygen in comparison to that of an average person.

The Sherpas seem to have mitochondria which are miniature rod similar to power plants in cells which have a tendency of being extra-efficient while utilising oxygen. Though the red blood cell count tends to increase at high altitude, it stays below the level where the blood thickens, causing a strain on the heart, resulting in altitude sickness.

Temporary Shelter/Permanent Settlement

Ivory beads and bone were also found in the Denisova Cave with the same deposit layers as the Denisovan fossils, giving some insights on their sophisticated tools and jewellery. DNA analysis in 2010, on a segment of a fifth digit finger bone belonging to a young female, revealed that they belonged to species linked to, though different from the Neanderthals.

Later research indicated that the ancient species of human differed from the Neanderthals towards 470,000 and 190,000 years back. It has puzzled the anthropologist in thinking that the cave could have been utilised as a temporary shelter for these Denisovans or could have been made as a permanent settlement.

A paleoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, Chris Stringer though not involved in the study described the `first use’ of the protein analysis in identifying the Denisovan fossil as a `notable landmark’. In an email to Gizmodo, he explained that it was early days for the research and that they should be alert while the data from the fossil and the relative samples are spare.

Shared Common Ancestor with Neanderthals

However the technique seems promising for charting relationships of fossil hominins where DNA does not seem to be preserved. For Katerina Douka an archaeologist at the University of Oxford not connected with the study, the most exciting aspect of the of the revelation was the location of the new site which was over 3,000 meters above sea level and not the presence of Denisovans outside Siberia. Denisovans during this particular geological era at this altitude seems astonishing according to her.

The discovery fits well with her earlier research. Douka’s team in that study had dated the oldest Denisovan fossils located in Denisova cave to the same era indicated by the Tibetan Plateau fossil.Scientists have found over the past decade, Denisovans teeth together with bone remains, comprising of a portion of a skull. It seems that the Denisovans lived in the cave at intervals from 287,000 years back to 50,000 years ago.

From the DNA analysed, it is presumed that the Denisovans shared a common ancestor with Neanderthals some 400,000 years back. They multiplied with Neanderthals with our species. Presently we find that the people in East Asia, the Pacific Islands, Australia and America tend to have some DNA of the Denisovans.