Update: Pyramid Texts Online

“The Pyramid Texts Online website has had a major update with the addition of the Library. Sit down and relax with an old classic, flick through the pages on-screen thanks to the Internet Archive’s Flip Book. Due to the antique age of most of these books it is best to use something more current for study purposes but these old books are an enjoyable look back at the past thoughts of earlier writers.

There are also links to other online books, articles and also a paprii section which includes Papyrii.info, a search engine of papyrological resources called the Papyrological Navigator. Other pages were also updated and the Tools page now has some new additions and Mark Vyges’ Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary has just been updated this week.”

(via Talking Pyramids. h/t: Egyptology News.)

(Mark Vyges’ Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary via Egyptology News)

The Mystery Story of the Maya Slowly Reveals New Twists

“Don’t tell Indiana Jones, but most archaeologists pack spades, not bullwhips, and big discoveries usually come after lots of digging, not looting. Maya discoveries in Mexico that are rewriting the history of this classic civilization, for example, are coming from years of careful digging, not looted idols.

The classic Maya were part of a Central American civilization best known for stepped pyramids, beautiful carvings and murals and the widespread abandonment of cities around 900 A.D. in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, leaving the Maya only the northern lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula. The conventional wisdom of this upheaval is that many Maya moved north at the time of this collapse, also colonizing the hilly “Puuc” region of the Yucatan for a short while, until those new cities collapsed as well.

But that story of the Maya is wrong, suggests archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., who is co-leading an investigation of the abandoned city of Kiuic with Mexican archaeologist Tomas Gallareta of Mexico’s National Institute of Archaeology and History. “Our work indicates that instead the Puuc region was occupied for almost 2,000 years before the collapse in the south,” says Bey, by e-mail.”

(via USA Today. h/t: The Daily Grail)

Legend of the Crystal Skulls


“Along with superstars like Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, and Shia LaBeouf, the newest Indiana Jones movie promises to showcase one of the most enigmatic classes of artifacts known to archaeologists, crystal skulls that first surfaced in the 19th century and that specialists attributed to various “ancient Mesoamerican” cultures. In this article, Smithsonian anthropologist Jane MacLaren Walsh shares her own adventures analyzing the artifacts that inspired Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (in theaters May 22), and details her efforts tracking down a mysterious “obtainer of rare antiquities” who may have held the key to the origin of these exotic objects.”

(via Archaeology)

The Secret of Stonehenge

“The last time any excavation was allowed inside its ancient sarsen stone pillars was in 1964 but now the first archaeological excavations at Stonehenge in almost half a century are attempting to solve, once and for all, the mystery of how and why the stone circle was built.

The enigma of Stonehenge, famed for its orientation in relation to the rising and setting sun, has puzzled and divided experts for decades. Some say the ancient stones were built as a temple used to worship ancient earth deities. Others say it was a prehistoric astronomical observatory; others claim it was a sacred burial site for people of high birth. Arthurian legend even has it that the stones were put there by the magician Merlin.

But yesterday, researchers started the dig inside the stone circle, a project English Heritage is calling the most significant in the site’s history, and which they hope will finally lift the lid on the truth behind one of Britain’s most famous landmarks.”

(Thanks Kallisti!)

(via The Independent)

(Just for fun: Carhenge)

Worlds Oldest Animation, 5,200 Years Old

“An Italian team of archaeologists unearthed the goblet in the 1970s from a burial site in Iran’s Burnt City, but it was only recently that researchers noticed the images on the bowl tell an animated visual story.

The oldest cartoon character in the world is a goat leaping to get the leaves on a tree.

According to an article in the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies:

The artifact bears five images depicting a wild goat jumping up to eat the leaves of a tree, which the members of the team at that time had not recognised the relationship between the pictures. Several years later,Iranian archaeologist Dr Mansur Sadjadi, who became later appointed as the new director of the archaeological team working at the Burnt City discovered that the pictures formed a related series.”

(via Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub)

Mysterious Pits Shed Light on Forgotten Witches of the West

“Evidence of pagan rituals involving swans and other birds in the Cornish countryside in the 17th century has been uncovered by archaeologists. Since 2003, 35 pits at the site in a valley near Truro have been excavated containing swan pelts, dead magpies, unhatched eggs, quartz pebbles, human hair, fingernails and part of an iron cauldron.

The finds have been dated to the 1640s, a period of turmoil in England when Cromwellian Puritans destroyed any links to pre-Christian pagan England. It was also a period when witchcraft attracted the death sentence. Jacqui Woods, leading the excavations, has not traced any written or anecdotal evidence of the rituals, which would have involved a significant number of people over a long period. There are no records of similar practices anywhere else in the world.”

(via Times Online)

A Review of Methodology in “Biblical Entheogens”

An argument about the theory that “Moses was high on drugs”.

“Over the last week, Benny Shanon’s article ‘Biblical Entheogens: A speculative hypothesis’ has been a rather popular topic online, both in mainstream media outlets and specifically in the skeptical community. I wonder how much of this interest, especially in the the skeptical community, is just a case of Schadenfreude. After my skeptical comments on the article earlier this week, I have decided to go through the article thoroughly, and offer a more concrete review of Shanon’s work.

Effectively, Shanon’s thesis is that Moses, throughout his encounters with God, was under the effects of an Entheogen, a mind altering psychedelic drug, which lead to hallucinations and an altered state of consciousness. This is certainly an interesting theory, but one that I believe Shanon fails to support. His main evidence appears to be comparison to known historic and modern usages of such substances in religious and spiritual endeavors. However, his comparisons to Pre-Columbian and modern American examples may serve as example of entheogen use, they cannot serve as evidence of Israelite use.”

(via Archaeoporn)

Cannibalism May Have Wiped Out Neanderthals

“A Neanderthal-eat-Neanderthal world may have spread a mad cow-like disease that weakened and reduced populations of the large Eurasian human, thereby contributing to its extinction, according to a new theory based on cannibalism that took place in more recent history. Aside from illustrating that consumption of one’s own species isn’t exactly a healthy way to eat, the new theoretical model could resolve the longstanding mystery as to what caused Neanderthals, which emerged around 250,000 years ago, to disappear off the face of the Earth about 30,000 years ago.

“The story of Neanderthal extinction is one of the most intriguing in all of human evolution,” author Simon Underdown told Discovery News. “Why did a large-brained, intelligent hominid that shared so many traits with us disappear?” To resolve that question, Underdown, a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University, studied a well-documented tribal group, the Fore of Papua New Guinea, who practiced ritualistic cannibalism. ”

(via Discovery News)

(Related: “Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice” via Global Politician)

Natural-Gas Drilling Threatens Ancient Rock Art in Utah

“Eastern Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon holds more than 10,000 known American Indian rock-art images. But they may be no match for 800 gas wells. A Denver-based energy company’s proposal to drill at least that many wells on the West Tavaputs Plateau threatens the thousand-year-old Anasazi ruins, where dust and chemicals are already corroding peerless rock art. And the Bill Barrett Corp. wants to drill some of those wells in wilderness study areas and critical habitat for deer, elk and sage grouse, as well as operate year-round instead of laying off for the winter as has been the tradition to accommodate wildlife needs.
Conservationists say the company’s full-field development of the Stone Cabin and Peters Point gas fields would guarantee the end of Nine Mile Canyon as it has been for millennia. “This project, if approved, if implemented, will be the death blow for Nine Mile Canyon, for the cultural sites there and for the wilderness-quality areas there,” said Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance attorney Steve Bloch.”

(via Stone Pages)

Archaeologists Bring Egyptian Excavation to the Web

“This is an educational web site that aims to provide the viewer with the elements of archaeological work, including the progress of excavation. The daily results are crucial to an understanding of how field investigation takes place, since decisions must be made on the basis of ongoing work. The people involved in the work are also an essential feature and contribute profoundly to the final outcomes. The focus of our diary is thus often on the people and their activities.

In January 2008, Dr. Betsy Bryan once more traveled to Egypt with students. Work at the temple of Mut began later than usual, however, as Dr. Bryan first led fifteen undergraduate and three graduate students on a study tour of Egypt. This intensive intersession course included sites rarely visited in recent years due to result of convoy traffic that moves non-Egyptians at certain times of the day, and only allows stops at a few and unvarying archaeological sites.”

(Hopkins in Egypt Today via Alternative Approaches)

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