Archaeologists in Nepal say they have discovered traces of a wooden structure dating from the sixth century B.C. that they believe is the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine.
Kosh Prasad Acharya, who teamed with archaeologists from Britain’s Durham University, said Tuesday that the structure was unearthed inside the sacred Mayadevi Temple in Lumbini. Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, is generally thought to have been born in about the sixth century B.C. at the temple site.
AP Photo/National Geographic, Ira Block
10,000-year-old house unearthed in Israel
Live Science: At a road construction site in Israel, archaeologists say they’ve found some stunning finds, including stone axes, a “cultic” temple and traces of a 10,000-year-old house.
The excavation took place at Eshtaol, located about 15 miles west of Jerusalem, in preparation of the widening of an Israeli road.
"This is the first time that such an ancient structure has been discovered in the Judean Shephelah," archaeologists with the IAA said, referring to the plains west of Jerusalem.
Photo: Ya’akov Vardi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Researchers used radiocarbon dating of artifacts that aren’t normally displayed by museums to establish the changes.
Women Ruled Moche: Tomb Find in Peru Confirms It
The discovery of another tomb belonging to a Moche—or Mochia—priestess in Peru confirms that powerful women ruled the region 1,200 years ago, reported the Agence France-Presse.
Petroglyphs in Nevada dated to more than 10,000 years old, oldest in North America
Ancient rock etchings along a dried-up lake bed in Nevada have been confirmed to be the oldest recorded petroglyphs in North America, dating back at least 10,000 years.
Monumental Mayan carving found in Guatemala
A Mayan frieze has been discovered inside a pyramid that dates to the 8th century during an archaeological dig in northeastern Guatemala.
The carving, which measures roughly 26 feet wide and 6 feet high, shows three human figures wearing elaborate bird headdresses and jade jewels, seated cross-legged over the head of a mountain spirit.
Photo: A wide-angle photo of the Maya frieze in Guatemala shows archaeologist Anya Shetler cleaning an inscription. (F. Estrada-Belli / Proyecto Arqueologico Holmul )
The burial sites could have held between 7 and 30 people each.
Archaeologists believe they have discovered the world’s oldest lunar “calendar” in an Aberdeenshire field.
Excavations of a field at Crathes Castle found a series of 12 pits which appear to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months.
A team led by the University of Birmingham suggests the ancient monument was created by hunter-gatherers about 10,000 years ago.
The pit alignment, at Warren Field, was first excavated in 2004.
The experts who analysed the pits said they may have contained a wooden post.
The Mesolithic “calendar” is thousands of years older than previous known formal time-measuring monuments created in Mesopotamia.
China discovers primitive, 5,000-year-old writing
Archaeologists say they have discovered some of the world’s oldest known primitive writing, dating back 5,000 years, in eastern China, and some of the markings etched on broken axes resemble a modern Chinese character.
The inscriptions on artifacts found south of Shanghai are about 1,400 years older than the oldest written Chinese language. Chinese scholars are divided over whether the markings are words or something simpler, but they say the finding will shed light on the origins of Chinese language and culture.
(Photo: National Institute of Anthropology and History)
Construction work in eastern Mexico exposed an ancient settlement, including 30 skeletons and the ruins of a pyramid, believed to be up to 2,000 years old, archaeology officials announced.
Researchers think that the sphinx arrived in Israel during the second millennium B.C.
Can you find a god in a rubbish pile? That exactly what happened to a first-year archaeology student when he came across an ancient deity statue in northern England.
The figure is similar to the Roman god Antenociticus, though professors think it could also be a homegrown god.
The head was found in what used to be either an ancient bathhouse or refuse pile. The head could be up to 1,800 years old and is likely from the second, third or fourth century CE, archaeologists say.
The head was found in what used to be either an ancient bathhouse or refuse pile. The head could be up to 1,800 years old and is likely from the second, third or fourth century CE, archaeologists say. (Durham University)
Archaeologists have found an ancient Maya city that remained hidden for centuries in the rain forests of eastern Mexico, a discovery in a remote nature reserve they hope will yield clues about how the civilization collapsed around 1,000 years ago.
The team, led by Ivan Sprajc, associate professor at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, found 15 pyramids - including one that stands 75 feet tall - ball courts, plazas and tall, sculpted stone shafts called stelae.
They named the city Chactun, meaning “Red Rock” or “Large Rock.” Sprajc said it was likely slightly less populous than the large ancient Maya city of Tikal in Guatemala, and could have been home to as many as 30,000 or 40,000 people, though further research is necessary to determine an exact estimate.
Chactun likely had its heyday during the late Classic period of Maya civilization between 600 and 900 A.D., Sprajc said.
The team’s research was approved by the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History and funded by the National Geographic Society and two European companies.
Sprajc said the site — which covers 22 hectares (54 acres) and lies 75 miles due west of Chetumal — is one of the largest found in the Yucatan’s central lowlands. The nearest settlement to the ruins is the small town of Xpujil, around 16 miles away.
"The whole site is covered by the jungle," he said in Spanish.
While the site was unknown to the academic community, Sprajc found evidence that other people had been to the site as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, but not since.
"Lumberjacks and gum extractors were certainly already there, because we saw cuts on the trees," Sprajc said. "What happened is they never told anyone."
While reviewing aerial photographs taken by the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity 15 years ago to monitor the nature reserve, Sprajc and his team saw suggestions of ruins and marked the coordinates.
They then spent three weeks clearing a 10-mile (16-km) path through the jungle to reach the site. After mapping the site for six weeks and documenting the monuments, they blocked the path before leaving to prevent access.
The presence of multiple ball game courts is an indication that Chactun was a very important city, Sprajc said. It was likely abandoned around the year 1,000, probably due to demographic pressure, climate change, wars and rebellions.
He hopes the find could shed new light on relations between different regions of the Maya empire during that period.
The Maya civilization was one of the most advanced in the pre-Columbian Americas and ruled over large swaths of the Yucatan, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras at its height.
Tikal, which was first mapped by archaeologists in the late 19th century, had a population estimated at up to 90,000.
In December, thousands of people traveled to the Yucatan to celebrate a new cycle in the Maya calendar amidst fears that the Maya had actually predicted that December 21 would mark the end of the world.
Airborne laser technology has uncovered a network of roadways and canals, illustrating a bustling ancient city linking Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple complex.
The discovery was announced late Monday in a peer-reviewed paper released early by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The laser scanning revealed a previously undocumented formally planned urban landscape integrating the 1,200-year-old temples. The Angkor temple complex was constructed in the 12th century during the mighty Khmer empire.
“No one had ever mapped the city in any kind of detail before, and so it was a real revelation to see the city revealed in such clarity,” University of Sydney archaeologist Damian Evans, the study’s lead author, said by phone from Cambodia. “It’s really remarkable to see these traces of human activity still inscribed into the forest floor many, many centuries after the city ceased to function and was overgrown.”
(Photo: Archaeology and Development Foundation - Phnom Kulen Program/Handout PNAS News)