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1,400-year-old figurines may be evidence of ancient Swedish cult

1,400-year-old figurines may be evidence of ancient Swedish cult


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Archaeologists have uncovered a treasure trove of hand-carved figurines in the quiet village of Vang in Blekinge, Sweden, suggesting the region was once home to an Iron Age cult.

The research team found thirty 2cm-tall figures known as guldgubbars and guldkoners (‘gold old men’ and ‘gold wives’), which are associated with ritual and worship, and are believed to have been hammered into shape from 6 th century Roman coins.

It is thought that the people in the region served as soldiers in the Roman Army and were paid using the gold coins that were later melted down and formed into the gold figurines.

“‘Without a doubt, the place was important during the Iron Age for several hundred years,” said lead archaeologist Mikael Henriksson. “Clearly, we can start a new chapter in the study of the Blekinge Iron Age.”

Guldgubbars are shaped like clothed men and women and are associated with places of political or religious significance and are thought to have been created as gifts for the gods in certain cults. The latest discovery is the largest collection of guldgubbars found in the whole of Sweden, which indicates that the area must have been a region of great religious significance.

The gold figurines were found alongside the ruins of houses and a forge, which suggests that a community once lived in the region and, piecing together the various findings in the region, archaeologists now believe the settlement was home to an Iron Age cult which dominated the area.


    1,400-year-old figurines may be evidence of ancient Swedish cult - History

    An article by Bridget Alex on discovermagazine.com - The 6 Most Iconic Ancient Artifacts That Continue to Captivate - reports on some of archaeology's most famous finds.

    Now housed in the Natural History Museum Vienna in Austria, the four-inch-tall Willendorf figurine is thought to be 25,000 years old. Specks of pigment suggest the limestone sculpture was covered with red ochre.

    Archaeologists discovered the figurine in 1908 whilst excavating at Willendorf II, an archaeological site in Austria along the Danube River, roughly 50 miles from Vienna. Across Europe, nearly 200 similar statuettes between 23,000 and 40,000 years old have been excavated.

    Editor's note: Upper Palaeolithic female figurines are collectively described as 'Venus figurines' in reference to the Roman goddess of beauty Venus. This expression was first used in the mid-nineteenth century. However, the term has now been criticised for being a reflection of Western ideas rather than reflecting the beliefs of the sculptures' original Palaeolthic creators and owners.


    9 Executed Immigrants

    A grave containing nine skeletons was discovered near a known Neolithic settlement in Halberstadt, Germany. The settlement was part of the Linearbandkeramik culture dated to 5500&ndash4900 BC, the first full-time farmers in Central Europe.

    As most graves from the period consist of individual inhumations with the occasional cremation, this mass grave stood out. The grave consisted of seven adult males, one young adult female, and one probable teenage male. There were no grave goods, and the skeletons seemed to have been thrown into the grave as they were positioned in a disorderly fashion.

    Seven of the skeletons had well-preserved skulls, revealing that each had at least one injury to the cranium from a blunt force trauma. One individual had at least two such injuries, while another had at least five.

    All the injuries had been sustained at around the time of death and were likely the cause of death. Isotope analysis of six of the skeletons revealed that five of them were immigrants, having moved to the area not long before death.

    Carbon and nitrogen isotopes also revealed that their diets were very different from that of the locals. Researchers thus believe that the nine were potentially immigrants who were executed and dumped into a mass grave. [2]


    Ritual Architecture, Iconography and Practice in the Late Cypriot Bronze Age

    This book by Jennifer Webb [henceforth W.] is a revised and updated version of her 1988 doctoral dissertation for Melbourne. It is a substantial work, though not well served by its presentation, and W.’s various theoretical goals expressed in the introductions are not always brought to completion.

    In the opening paragraph of the introductory chapter on Theory and Context, W. delineates her scope and goals: to identify and elucidate cult places and practices in the archaeological record of Late Bronze Age Cyprus and also to formulate a series of indicators, supplemented by iconographic data, which allow reasonable inference that a particular site was given over to organized ritual activity. (1) Indeed, cult places are well elucidated in detail, but the indicators are not formulated in a discussion. It is not stated but becomes evident in the subsequent text that W. is focusing on communal cult places, thereby excluding burial and domestic rituals, and that “ritual” excludes secular activities. For W., ritual “involves the repeated performance of prescribed activities. Thus artefacts used in ritual should exhibit a non-random pattern of use and discard and yield insights into both the nature and location of ritual practice.” (10) W. defines ideology as “the use of religious and other symbolism for political and social purposes or more specifically as ‘the capability of dominant groups or classes to make their own sectional interests appear to others as universal ones.'” (2)

    The remainder of the chapter briefly discusses Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age and Terminology. For the late phase of the LBA after 1400 B.C., an abundance of evidence indicates that, under the stimulation of external influences, the island was organized into a number of distinctive regions, some seemingly more centralized than others. Among the varying models of organizational structures and relationships currently being discussed for this period, it has been suggested that religion might have been one of the mechanisms of organizational and ideological control, in the absence of more concrete evidence like the forts of the earlier phase. W. later applies this interpretive theme to the evidence, particularly the iconography of the sealstones. Recent studies indicate increasing evidence for continuity after the transition from LC II to LC IIIA, making the dating for some constructions and destructions more problematic, but W. proposes to view the absences of continuities in a new explanatory framework.

    In “Terminology,” W. explains her preferences among the architectural terms, such as “temples,” “holy-of-holies,” and “hall,” often employed inconsistently in LBA Cypriot studies. Although classical terms like adyton and cella have become embedded in studies of Near Eastern sanctuaries, it would have been preferable for W. to have chosen more appropriate terms for the area describing the precise location of the cult image while being worshipped. The term temenos, as usually employed in studies of Greek religion, properly refers to the entire sacred area of the sanctuary that is cut off or distinguished from the surrounding profane area. W. uses it synonymously with courtyard, which was only a part of the sacred temenos. It would be better for this term also not to be used since there does not appear to be any evidence observed for the marking off of Cypriot sanctuaries from the surrounding areas.

    Chapter 2, the catalog of cult sites, begins with a brief general theoretical discussion of the problem of identifying cult installations. W. states that “the present study is restricted to an analysis of material from Late Bronze Age Cyprus, as far as possible avoiding extrapolation from earlier or later times, non-Cypriot cultural systems and ethnographic analogy.” (11) The task of identifying Cypriot cult buildings and installations is challenging because “there appear to be few artefacts or architectural or locational indicators exclusively diagnostic of cult activity. Virtually all object types, with the probable exception of horns of consecration, are found in domestic and funerary as well as apparently ritual contexts.” Cult usage can be determined “by virtue of their location within or beside a cult building or by associated artefactual material.” (11) The potential for circularity of argumentation in the identifications is not addressed. W.’s identifications will require groups of shared features (polythetic approach) but not total correlations of all the attributes. In order to go beyond the operational or ‘etic’ aspects of cult practices to the ‘cognised’ or ’emic’ elements of belief, W. includes representational data. This theoretical distinction is not subsequently discussed.

    The catalog of sites is divided into three parts based on the reliability of interpretation: almost certainly cultic (16), less reliably cultic, and highly improbable, i.e., misidentified sites. (9) W.’s catalog provides new identifications of cult installations and new publications of details (20), as well as a systematic examination of all the sites analyzed on a chronologically consistent basis. This is particularly useful because of the ongoing debate over the dates and ceramic definitions at the transition from LC II to LC III. There is a significant omission, however. As W. states in Endnote 1 on p.149, her catalog of Misidentified Sites does not include sites once but no longer considered as sanctuaries. This extends to those sites identified solely on the basis of the presence of bull figurines. While W.’s opinion rejecting these figurines as adequate criteria is arguable, the omission affects her database and its interpretation. The result is that for W. there are no certain domestic cult areas but a high proportion of elite sanctuaries.

    Most of the sites belong to LC IIC and/or LC III, and most of the ritual paraphernalia derives from just two sites: Enkomi and Kition. Figure 1 is a map of the site names, but the regions for potential analysis are not indicated. Table 1 is a chart listing the Reliably Identified and the Less Reliably Identified sites combined in chronological order to illustrate the relative time spans of each site. The catalog benefits greatly from the illustrations, which include many of the more significant finds. (The plans all have North to their top, although plans on facing pages have North toward the inside, i.e. in opposite directions, e.g., Figs. 9 and 10 of the same temple, a minor quibble.) The architecture and finds for each site are listed with bibliographical references included in the text before the discussions. The clear organization and fullness of descriptions make the catalog a most useful reference work.

    Chapter 3, on “Architecture and Artefacts,” constitutes W.’s analytical conclusions, comprising discussions arranged by each of the many types of furnishings, vessels, terracottas, bronzes, other portable finds, and faunal remains. It begins with a discussion of the architectural remains. “The primary function of ancient cult buildings appears to have been to give shelter to the deities and their belongings (offerings, cult equipment). The building itself may not have been an assembly place for worshippers or performances or public ritual, which were more probably located in the temene…. With regard to the Near Eastern evidence, it is widely believed that only libations, the burning of incense, the preparation of sacrificial meals and the storing of votives and cult objects took place inside the cult buildings and that only priests were allowed access to hall and adyton…. A similar situation is likely to have existed in Cyprus.” (162) Thus W. locates the public rituals in the temene, by which she means the courtyards adjoining the buildings.

    Methodologically, W. is right to have confined her initial analysis to the Cypriot material, as stated at the beginning. If the interpretation of that evidence, however, is to be based even partly on comparative material, to the extent of employing Near Eastern terminology such as the “adyton,” then there ought to be some discussion of this comparative material as well. The focus resulting from her approach emphasizing Cyprus would be made even sharper by means of the comparative material. In a similar though less significant way, her discussion of Aegean immigrants in Cyprus would benefit from the inclusion of the substantial evidence for Aegean sanctuaries. Having taken the time and trouble to establish more or less what is Cypriot, W. is ideally suited to articulate the distinctions between Cypriot and non-Cypriot artifactual types. Also unfortunately lacking at this stage are any attempts to analyze the Cypriot material itself chronologically, regionally or topographically.

    W.’s analysis is quite good as far as it goes, and inevitably many more questions are raised than answered. There is no discussion of such problems as burnt animal offerings, although all hearths produced burnt and unburnt animal bones (169) the ritualistic breaking of artifacts, although most of 120 figurines found in the Sanctuary of the Ingot God at Enkomi were deliberately broken (107) or the criteria for the identification of cult storage facilities as opposed to ritual areas like the adyton. The problem of continuity of cult practices over the short-term transition from LC IIC to LC IIIA is raised in various discussions of sites or artifacts but is not dealt with by itself. Even less is said, perhaps wisely, about the possibility of continuity into the classical period, although there is some archaeological and/or literary evidence.

    In contrast to sanctuaries, whose only distinctive feature consists of horns of consecration, burials include zoomorphic (bull- and, later, bird-shaped) and annular rhyta, and Red Lustrous Wheel-made spindle bottles and arm vessels.(199-202) The unique site of Dhima, which is so rich in distinctive finds but lacking in architecture, might have been better treated as central to a separate chapter on funerary rituals, with the inclusion of sufficient burial data to contextualize both it and its contents. It is a measure of W.’s objectivity that she states that bull figurines “were probably items of cult equipment rather than votives” (219) while nonetheless providing evidence susceptible to a contrary interpretation.

    W.’s attempts to identify various iconographic images of deities, while not necessarily persuasive, have the merit of rejecting diffusionist theories in favor of indigenous origins with overseas influences. (223-235) Evidence for music and/or divination in the sanctuaries is more suggestive than convincing. Given its rich potential for clarifying interpretations, more analysis of the faunal remains might have been undertaken and discussed, e.g. distribution within sanctuaries, gender analysis, and evidence for burnt animal offerings, although osteological evidence is seldom adequately published for such analysis.

    In Chapter 4 on “Images of the Supernatural” on vases and sealstones, W. recapitulates the evidence for a multiplicity of deities, emphasizing the distinctively Cypriot aspects of cult assemblages and the continuity of practices even when subjected to outside influences. Employing Porada’s stylistic groupings of seals into Elaborate, Derivative and Common, W. observes a correlation between some artifacts often associated with cult assemblages, such as tools, weapons and ingots, and those depicted on seals of the Common Style variety, in contrast to the more mythological scenes portrayed on the more elite Elaborate and Derivative Styles.(237-240) This series of correlations is particularly interesting as there is otherwise little concordance among images as represented in the different media of figurines, seals, and vases.(279) She does not examine, however, what this might imply about the status of the various performers of rituals e.g., did varying levels of bureaucrats act as varying levels of priests? A distinction between sacred and secular rituals might be useful here. There is also a risk of circularity of argument in using the artifacts depicted on the seals to identify ritual assemblages in otherwise ambiguous contexts.

    W. believes that seals “appear to have served as symbolic markers of high intrinsic and ideological value and as bearers of a coercive imagery designed to promote existing socioeconomic structures by direct reference to religious authority. (262) Since only one sealing has been found after more than a century of exploration, it is later suggested that seals were applied to non-durable materials like papyrus, leather, or wax writing boards.(306) The manner of transmission and the intended audience of the “coercive imagery,” however, are not discussed.

    In the concluding chapter on “Ideology, Cult and Politics,” W. briefly reexamines the evidence for each of the major sites. Although the limited number of excavated sites renders interpretation challenging, W. discerns five possible cult site types: domestic, extramural, mortuary, small-scale regional and elite-controlled urban, but no natural sites like caves or peak sanctuaries. She does not make explicit, however, the promised series of indicators that were to allow reasonable inference that a particular site was given over to organized ritual activity except to state passim that horns of consecration are uniquely religious artifacts — terracotta bulls do not qualify, and the rest would all be unremarkable if not for their contexts. W.’s analysis reveals a diversity of modes of rituals i.e., incised ox scapulae, miniature tools and vessels, evidence for opium and deer are found only at some sanctuaries. It is unfortunate that W. does not pursue this potentially productive approach for any other correlations — ceramic, chronological, or regional. Concerning metallurgy, W. accepts both an ideological and structural connection between cult and metallurgy. She does not offer any evidence, however, to support her conclusion that “scrap metal and metallic waste can have had no practical function in a ritual context and may be presumed to have been votive or symbolic in character.”(237, repeated almost verbatim on p. 300)

    At the end of the concluding chapter, W. allows herself to be diverted into peripheral controversies on archaic state formation in the LC I period, although she has consistently maintained that remains of cult, apart from one ceramic assemblage, “are otherwise lacking from the whole period during which Enkomi is believed to have been engaged in the establishment of a unitary state” before 1400 B.C. (284). She nonetheless rebuts arguments on state formation in LC I as based on retrospective interpretation of later (burial) evidence while retrojecting her own LC II/LC III evidence to the LC I period. Otherwise W. is careful to distinguish between evidence for LC IIC and LC IIIA, the periods for which she has so much material. Even within the LC II and III periods, however, there is too much unexamined evidence from settlements and burials for generalizations about trade patterns and state formation to be accepted without question.

    W.’s presentation does not do her work justice. Various topics like adyta or continuity are not the focus of separate discussions despite references scattered throughout the text. Other focused discussions are buried in the text for example, W.’s observations on metallurgy in sanctuaries are hidden in a section entitled “Artefacts and Ideology” and are not included in the index. The five page index itself is curiously incomplete especially when compared to her commendable fifty-five page bibliography the only reference to “elite ritual practice” in the index, although certainly not the only one in the text, is to several consecutive pages in the chapter reviewing some of the sites discussed and enumerating site types. The result of all this is that W.’s book is well written but its organization is not reader friendly.

    In summary, it is a substantial achievement for W. to have assembled and put most of the relevant evidence including plans on a chronologically level playing field, and it is the quality of this work that makes one wish she had gone further. The presentation would have been more effective and useful with a clearer arrangement of discussions and headings and a complete index.


    God house

    Archaeologists unearthed the foundations of the ancient building last month at Ose, a seaside village near the town of Ørsta in western Norway, ahead of preparations for a new housing development.

    Their excavations revealed traces of early agricultural settlements dating to between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago, including the remains of two longhouses that would have each been the center of a small farm for a family and their animals, Diinhoff said.

    The remains of the god house at Ose, however, are from a later time when the area began to be dominated by an elite group of wealthy families — a distinction that arose as Scandinavian societies began to interact with the more stratified societies of the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribes of northern Europe.

    "When the new socially differentiated society set in, in the Roman Iron Age, the leading families took control of the cult," he said.

    Norse religious worship became more ideological and organized, and god houses at Ose were patterned on Christian basilicas that travelers had seen in southern lands, he said.

    As a result, Old Norse temples featured a distinctive high tower above the pitched roof, which was a copy of the towers of early Christian churches, he said.

    Although the wooden building is now long-gone, the post-holes that remain show its shape, including the round central posts of its tower — a very distinctive construction that was only ever used in god houses, Diinhoff said. "It would have been very impressive."


    Pointy Skulls Belonged to ‘Foreign’ Brides, Ancient DNA Suggests

    Archaeologists have long suspected that modified skulls in German burials belonged to the Huns. Now genetic evidence may confirm it.

    During the Migration Age (ca. 300-700 A.D.), "barbarian" groups like the Goths and Vandals roved around Europe, nibbling away at the declining Roman Empire and settling down as they went along. One tribe that got comfortable was the Bavarii, who hunkered down in what is now southern Germany around the sixth century A.D. And inside Bavarii cemeteries, archaeologists find interesting specimens: Women with elongated skulls.

    That’s long confused researchers, who associate such skull modification in Europe at the time with places further east such as Hungary. Southeast Europe at the time was home to the feared confederacy of tribes known as the Huns, and their burial grounds contain many more long-skulled ladies than further west in Bavaria. So how did the practice make it to Germany?

    One theory is that the Huns or some other group transmitted the skull-modifying technique—the equivalent of a meme that local Bavarian women then took up themselves. But a new study published in the journal PNAS suggests another answer: Maybe the Bavarian women with the unusual skulls weren’t Bavarian to begin with.

    An international team of researchers recently analyzed the genomes of 36 sets of bones buried in six Bavarian cemeteries during the fifth and sixth centuries A.D.: twenty-six women, 14 of whom showed signs of artificial cranial deformation (ACD), and ten men. They also analyzed five additional samples, including remains of what is thought to be a Roman soldier and two other women with ACD from Crimea and Serbia.

    The women’s skulls didn’t get that way by accident. Their heads were carefully bound starting at birth, and their skulls kept their distinctive looks as they hardened. Archaeologists aren’t sure if the practice had to do with beauty, health, or another reason.

    TIL: You Might Be Related to Genghis Khan

    The researchers sequenced parts of the buried Bavarians’ DNA, and the entire genomes of 11 samples. Then they used the data to learn about the appearance, ancestral origins and health of the long-dead Bavarians.

    The men—likely farmers in small communities— looked pretty much alike. But many of the women didn’t look like the men. At all.

    It wasn’t just the skull modifications: While the men’s genes showed that they likely had blond hair and blue eyes, the women likely had brown eyes and blond or brown hair.

    Looks were just the tip of the iceberg. The researchers compared the ancient genes to those of modern people and found some big differences between male and female.

    The men’s genes were similar to those of northern and central Europeans. The women with modified skulls, however, had a much more diverse set of ancestors. The majority matched up with southeastern Europeans like Romanians and Bulgarians, and one even had East Asian ancestors.

    “Archaeologically, they are not that different from the rest of the population,” says Joachim Burger, a population geneticist at the University of Mainz and an author of the study. “Genetically, they are totally different.”

    From what researchers can tell, the women assimilated and adopted local traditions—and skull modification seems to have stopped with them. So why did they have such different genes?

    Burger is quick to admit he doesn’t know for sure. But he and his colleagues have a theory. They think their data shows a previously unconfirmed practice of exchange between the Bavarians and other cultures, even in what Burger calls “relatively boring, blond farm places.”

    Though she didn’t work on the current study, Susanne Hakenbeck, a University of Cambridge historical archaeologist, has spent years trying to piece together the stories of the same women and others with ACD throughout Europe.

    When Hakenbeck analyzed isotopes from bones in one of the cemeteries in the current study, she found dietary differences between men and women. Her analyses of skull modifications of the era also back up the hypothesis: ACD was common among men, women and children living between Central Asia and Austria at the time, but is only seen in a handful of adult women in places further west, like Germany.

    "Nobody thought that marriage and kinship had a really important function in the period,” says Hakenbeck. The new research could prove that wrong the women seem to have arrived specifically to marry Bavarian men, perhaps as the result of a strategic alliance.

    The study has its limitations: It doesn’t deal with a large population, and two of the samples were buried later than the rest of the group. However, those women’s ancestors came from even further away than the others, which might suggest a pattern of marriage migrations.

    Think the confrontation between a group of dark-haired, skull-modded strangers and some blond farmers sounds like the premise of a bingeworthy Netflix series? So does Burger. “There are exotic women with exotic skulls coming to these boring foreign places,” he says. “Culture clash.”

    Erin Blakemore is a freelance science writer and author of 'The Heroine's Bookshelf." Follow Erin on Twitter.


    The DNA of the Rothschilds (not what you expected)

    As person who loves history and Genealogy I decided to look up the Paternal DNA of famous people including the Rothschilds to see if there is any significance to their bloodlines. Despite everything you know the genetic evidence tells a different story of what we have previously thought.

    Both Adolf Hitler & Albert Einstein belonged to the same Paternal haplogroup of E1b1b . which is only found in Jews.

    The Rothschilds belong to the paternal Haplogroup J2 which was the original DNA of ancient Mesopotamians.

    Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, thePhoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), and to a lower extent also the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

    There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia). The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities.

    Basically haplogroup J2 is not that significant it's predominantly found among Muslims and Arabs.

    The fact that the Rothschilds don't have Jewish DNA could mean that they were instead related to the Khazars who converted to Jewdiasm.

    Ashkenaz was a region in Magog where the so-called “red Jews” of Khazaria had ruled an empire on the north shores of the Black and Caspian seas. The Rothschilds, and ‘most’ other Ashkenazi Jews, are descended from the Khazars who are actually Turks.

    While the [Turks/Jews by conversion] of Khazaria had been the small minority among both Christian and Muslim citizens, they ruled the empire absolutely it had been the law of the land that only [TurkJews] could rule! There were two kings, an invisible one called a “khagan,” and a visible one called a “beg.” Interesting, isn’t it, that the invisible Rothschilds are now a few [Turks/Jews] ruling the world.

    In 867 AD, The Vikings from Scandinavia, appeared near Kiev (north shore of the Black Sea), and eventually took the city from the Khazars the Turks/Jews. For some years the invaders lived side by side with the Khazars, but thereafter they put the Khazars to flight, at roughly which time the phrase, “Ashkenazi Jew,” was heard for the first time in the regions of Germany and Hungary.

    In The Year 2000 There Were Seven Countries Without A Rothschild-Owned Central Bank: They were Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Cuba, North Korea and Iran.

    Khazars aka Ashkenazi Turk/Jew were ‘not’ true Hebrews, but instead Turks who had converted to Judaism. Ashkenazi Turk/Jews are over 90 percent of those who claim to be Jews today– but who are actuallyTurks that wrongly believe to be Jews. The conspiracy to control the world by international bankers is not a Jewish plot, but a Turkish plot. Hitler sent ‘mainly’ Turks to concentration camps! And Turks now run the ‘State’ of Israel!! In short: most of today’s Jews are not the real descendants of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah.

    I'm not into conspiracies but after reading about history and other cultures , It's quite obvious that the Turkish people hate Caucasians with a passion. Just take the Young Turks for example the whole show is about shaming white people.


    Could there be some genetic history behind all this conflict? Who knows.
    If you Google "Roman vs Greek nose" , there are a slot of illustrations showing how the Armenian nose looks like , just like those of Jews.

    Anyway the fact that Hitler unleashed genocide on his own people is pretty hilarious and sad at the same time considering all the things he said about them.


    Ancient World Blog

    This posting is not about modern law but about ancient law. It was the ancient ordering of the stars of the heavens, which, according to Bertrand Russell, gave men their first conceptions of natural law.

    We have been successful - so we allege - in deciphering the entire complex of Scandinavian rock drawings at the World Heritage Site of Tanum, now in Sweden, and formerly in Norway (until the year 1658 - see the Treaty of Roskilde).

    Our decipherment shows that the more than 1500 petroglyphs (rock drawings) at Tanum and its rock art affiliate locations form an enormous ca. 70 square kilometer planisphere (sky map of the heavens) .

    This sky map forms a shape of the stars along the Milky Way which was probably intended by its makers to represent a heavenly boat of the ancient Nordic seafarers. We have drawn in the line of the Milky Way to show this, but it is not, as far as we know, actually drawn on the ground.

    As we shall be presenting a paper on this topic in May of this year in Horn / Bad Meinberg, Germany, at the Machalett Conference on Preshistory and Early History, this posting just contains the basics of our discovery.

    It was 30 years ago in the year 1977 that this author first visited the petroglyphs (rock drawings) of Tanum, located in Tanumshede, Västra Götaland (historically Bohuslän), about a two-hour drive north of Göteborg (Gothenburg). Tanum was not well known internationally in 1977, in spite of over 1500, in part gigantic, rock drawings.

    Tanum includes the following petroglyphic locations covering many square kilometers of countryside: Vitlycke (where the museum is located), Tanum, Tegneby, Aspeberget, Gerum, Ryland, Oppen, Slänge, Varlös, Fossum, Lycke, Hoghem, Västerby, Ljungby, Tuvene, Litsleby, Kyrkoryk, Orrekläpp, Rungstung, Satetorp, Ryk, Tyft, Hovtorp, Björneröd, Bergslycke, Kalleby and Trättelanda .

    One key to our decipherment was the Tanum rock drawing location map found at the World Heritage Site for Tanum. Without such a complete overview of the area, such a decipherment as ours would be impossible, since it is the entire complex of petroglyphs which builds the secret to this enormous site. All of these petroglyphs as a whole represent the stars of the heavens, with multiple petroglyphs in clusters representing constellations of stars known to us today. Many of these along the ecliptic of course form our modern Zodiac.

    One cannot escape the feeling at Tanum that we are witnessing the birth of modern astronomy among the ancient seafarers, whose need for a knowledge of star orientation in sea navigation is beyond dispute.

    These ancient men formed these constellations primarily for practical purposes and not, as mainstream archaeology persists in advocating regarding these petroglyphs, for unproven rites and rituals, which may have been a part of the complex of the ancient world, but certainly not as its moving force.

    It is in fact little wonder that there are so many boats (ancient ships) represented in the petroglyphic figures. To the seafaring ancients, the night sky was a sea of stars. We think it possible that this might be the location at which our modern stellar constellations were initially "grouped" by European man - for purposes of navigation in seafaring travel.

    There are other proofs - beyond the evidence of the rock drawings themselves - that this astronomical decipherment is correct, e.g. the names of locations at which the rock drawings are found, but these proofs will first be discussed in a paper in German to be presented to the 41st Conference of the Machalett Study Group on Prehistory and Early History in May of this year.


    Contents

    Although Judaism regards the Book of Exodus as the primary factual historical narrative of the origin of Hebrew religion, culture and ethnicity, scholars now accept that this text evolved in the 8th–7th centuries BCE as a compilation from stories dating possibly as far back as the 13th century BCE, with further polishing in the 6th–5th centuries BCE, as a theological and political manifesto to unite the Israelites in the then‐current battle for territory against Egypt. Γ]

    Archaeologists from the 19th century onward actually expressed surprise when they failed to find any evidence whatsoever for the events of Exodus. By the 1970s, archaeologists had largely given up regarding the Bible as any use at all as a privileged field-guide. [citation needed]

    The archaeological evidence of local Canaanite, rather than Egyptian, origins of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel is "overwhelming" and leaves "no room for an Exodus from Egypt or a 40‐year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness". Δ] The culture of the earliest Israelite settlements is Canaanite, their cult objects represent the Canaanite god El, the pottery reflects the local Canaanite tradition, and the alphabet is early Canaanite. Almost the sole marker distinguishing Israelite villages from Canaanite sites is an absence of pig bones.

    William Dever, an archaeologist normally associated with the more conservative end of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, has labeled the question of the historicity of Exodus "dead". Israeli archaeologist Ze'ev Herzog provides his view on the historicity of the Exodus: Ε]

    Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology Eric H. Cline also summarizes the scholarly consensus in his book Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction (published by Oxford University Press and winner of the 2011 Biblical Archaeology Society's "Best Popular Book on Archaeology") Ζ]

    Despite attempts by a number of biblical archaeologists — and an even larger number of amateur enthusiasts — over the years, credible direct archaeological evidence for the Exodus has yet to be found.

    While one might argue that such evidence would be difficult to find, since nomads generally do not leave behind permanent installations, archaeologists have discovered and excavated nomadic emplacements from other periods in the Sinai desert.

    So if there were archaeological remains to be found from the Exodus, one would have expected them to be found by now. And yet, thus far there is no trace of the biblical "600,000 men on foot, besides children" plus "a mixed crowd. and live stock in great numbers" (Exod. 12:37-38) who wandered for forty years in the desert.

    Nevertheless, another current consensus among scholars suggests that some historical elements lie behind the Exodus narrative, even if Moses and the Exodus belong more to collective cultural memory than to verifiable history. Η] According to Avraham Faust, a professor of archaeology in the department of General History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel: ⎖]

    Those Canaanites who started regarding themselves as Israelites would likely have been joined or led by a small "Exodus group" of Semites from Egypt, likely carrying stories and collective memories that made it into the written composition of Exodus: ⎗]

    It appears that while many individuals, families and groups were involved in the process of Israel's ethnogenesis throughout the Iron Age, and that many of those who eventually became Israelites were of Canaanite origins, the first group was composed mainly of Shasu pastoralists. Other groups, probably including a small "Exodus" group which left Egypt, joined the process, and all were gradually assimilated into the growing Israel, accepting its history, practices and traditions, and contributing some of their own.

    Traditions and practices that were useful in the active process of Israel's boundary maintenance with other groups were gradually adopted by "all Israel". It appears that the story of the Exodus from Egypt was one such story.


    Supplementary information

    Supplementary Information

    Detailed description of methods and additional results, containing information on sample morphology and stratigraphy, laboratory methods for DNA extraction and sequencing, sequence data processing, and DNA authenticity assessment. Further information on mitogenome reconstruction, DNA-based dating, genetic phylogenies, and admixture analysis (f4-statistics, AdmixtureGraphs, TreeMix and ghost admixture) is also provided.

    Reporting Summary

    Supplementary Tables

    These tables contain information on sequencing data, specifically the number of sequence reads generated, and mapping and post-mortem DNA damage statistics. We also list all used priors and obtained posteriors from the mitochondrial BEAST analysis, all pairwise f4-statistics, and a list of all coding changes comparing mammoths to elephants.