Ancient Civilization

3,700-year-old cellar housed ‘luxurious’ wine

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 22, 2013   View Article

A 3,700-year-old palatial cellar packed with jars once filled with a wine-like brew has been discovered at an archaeological site in northern Israel, a team of researchers announced Friday.

The cellar is perhaps the oldest of its type ever discovered and the wine was anything but ordinary. Spiked with juniper berries, cedar oil, honey and tree resins, it was likely the good stuff pulled from the cellar for grand, royal banquets where resident rulers and perhaps their trading partners washed down a feast of wild cattle with an intoxicating swill.

Photos: Mummy Bundles, Child Sacrifices Found on Pyramid

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 25, 2010   View Article

A rare undisturbed tomb atop an ancient pyramid in Lima, Peru, has yielded four 1,150-year-old, well-bundled mummies of the Wari culture, archaeologists announced on October 20.

The mummies include what appear to be an elite woman and three children, who may have been sacrificed to accompany her into the afterlife, according to Isabel Flores Espinosa, excavation director at the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site.

The Wari civilization spread along the central coast of Peru beginning around A.D. 700. At Huaca Pucllana, they replaced the Lima culture before being replaced themselves by the ascendant Inca.

Pictures: 12 Ancient Landmarks on Verge of Vanishing

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 23, 2010   View Article

Damaged frescoes in the Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents tell a story of neglect in the medieval city of Ani, now part of Turkey.

Sitting in a militarized zone near the current Turkish-Armenian border, the city is one of 12 cultural sites on the verge of collapse, according to a report released this week by the San Francisco, California-based Global Heritage Fund.

Odd Pyramid Had Rooftop Homes, Ritual Sacrifices?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 21, 2010   View Article

Yes, it’s yielded human remains—including five females who may have been ritually sacrificed. But it’s the signs of life that make a half-excavated Peruvian pyramid of the Moche culture stand out, archaeologists say.

“Often these pyramidal mounds were built as mortuaries more than anything else,” said excavation co-leader Edward Swenson.

“In most instances [a pyramid] is not where people live, it is not where they were cooking their food,” the University of Toronto archaeologist added.

But the newly exposed 1,400-year-old flat-topped pyramid supported residences for up to a couple dozen elites, who oversaw and perhaps took part in copper production at the site, evidence suggests.

Seven deep mysteries of history

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: August 24, 2010   View Article

What happened to Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart raised the spirits of Depression-era America as she soared into the aviation record books with feats of altitude, distance and endurance. The mood took a gloomy turn, however, when she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, during a much-heralded attempt to fly around the world. Their fate remains one of aviation’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

Theories abound: They ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. They were captured by the Japanese and executed. They survived, and Earhart lived out her life as a housewife in New Jersey.

A prominent theory with tantalizing clues holds that they survived the crash landing and but perished as castaways on Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island in the republic of Kiribati. An expedition to the island in 2010 recovered pieces of a pocket knife and a glass jar that may have belonged to the castaways. If DNA analyses on these and other items match Earhart’s, the mystery may finally be resolved.

Check out six more stories of historical mysteries.

Seven rock-solid careers from the Stone Age

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: August 7, 2010   View Article

If nuclear war, the Great Recession or some other calamity turns the economy back to the Stone Age, what kind of jobs and industries will pay the bills?

Archaeologists, for reasons more to do with academic curiosity than preparing for doomsday, have been hard at work looking for an answer.

Bowl of Fingers, Baby Victims, More Found in Maya Tomb

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 21, 2010   View Article

Reeking of decay and packed with bowls of human fingers, a partly burned baby, and gem-studded teeth—among other artifacts—a newfound Maya king’s tomb sounds like an overripe episode of Tales From the Crypt.

But the tightly sealed, 1,600-year-old burial chamber, found under a jungle-covered Guatemalan pyramid, is as rich with archaeological gold as it is with oddities, say researchers who announced the discovery Friday.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach