After years of speculation a team of researchers has pinpointed the age of this ancient mystery.
- The Plain of Jars consists of over 90 sites containing thousands of jars scattered across Laos.
- According to new research, these jars were constructed sometime between 1240 and 660 BCE.
- In 2019, UNESCO named a cluster of 11 regions as a World Heritage Site.
View to the southwest at megalithic jar Site 1.
Credit: Louise Shewan, et al.<p>Dr. Louise Shewan from the University of Melbourne explains,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"With these new data and radiocarbon dates obtained for skeletal material and charcoal from other burial contexts, we now know that these sites have maintained enduring ritual significance from the period of their initial jar placement into historic times." </p><p>How the jars were moved around Laos remains unknown. As with other ancient mysteries—the various henges around Scotland and England; the interconnected network of cities in the Harappan civilization—understanding the rituals associated with and technologies used to create awe-inspiring monuments remains a dream for many archaeologists. </p><p>The team behind this research plans on examining more samples from these Laotian jars—a particularly daunting challenge considering less than 10 percent of jar sites have been cleared of American explosives. Shewan is excited about the prospects of what further testing could reveal, however. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We expect that this complex process will eventually help us share more insights into what is one of Southeast Asia's most mysterious archaeological cultures."</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His most recent book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
The chariot survived ancient eruptions and modern-day looters to become a part of the world heritage site.
- Archeologists recently discovered a first-of-its-kind chariot in Pompeii.
- The ceremonial chariot is decorated with bronze and tin medallions, while the sides sport bronzesheets and red-and-black paintings.
- Given looting activity in the area, it's lucky the 2,000-year-old treasure wasn't lost to the world heritage site.
One dope Pompeian whip<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTc5ODk0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NTk5NTc0OH0.SyjKTnqDO6XGbGqecHArg5jLoRbPhJm8KLCQDYNKVVw/img.jpg?width=980" id="8c0df" width="986" height="1024" data-rm-shortcode-id="0b5b1b3bc77bc3787a8502f97a019eea" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Chariot found at Pompeii" />
Researchers carefully extract the chariot from the sedimentary rock encasing it.
Credit: Luigi Spina, Archaeological Park of Pompeii<p>In a recent discovery, researchers unearthed a first-of-its-kind chariot at Civita Giuliana, an excavation site north of Pompeii's ancient walls. In Roman times, the site served as a getaway for Rome's elite and wealthy citizens, a serene countryside brimming with villas and Mediterranean farms. So, it's understandable why such an exquisite chariot was found here.<br></p><p>"I was astounded," Eric Poehler, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who specializes in Pompeii traffic, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2021/02/27/972118983/a-lamborghini-of-chariots-is-discovered-at-pompeii-archaeologists-are-wowed?ft=nprml&f=1001" target="_blank">told <em>NPR</em></a>. "Many of the vehicles I'd written about before ... are your standard station wagon or vehicle for taking the kids to soccer. This is a Lamborghini. This is an outright fancy, fancy car."</p><p>Located in a double-level portico, the chariot is a far cry from anything Ben-Hur would have been seen cruising around in. It sports four iron wheels and a high seat complete with arm- and backrest. The sides are adorned with engraved bronze and wooden panels painted with red-and-black figures. And the rear bumps with a register of bronze and tin medallion depicting Eros-inspired scenes of satyrs, nymphs, and cupids. In short, this chariot is slab.</p><p>"It is an extraordinary discovery for the advancement of our knowledge of the ancient world," Massimo Osanna, the director of the archaeological park, <a href="http://pompeiisites.org/en/comunicati/the-four-wheeled-processional-chariot-the-last-discovery-of-pompeii/" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "At Pompeii vehicles used for transport have been found in the past, […] but nothing like the Civita Giuliana chariot."</p><p>But unlike a Lamborghini—which serves only to show the owner has more money than sense—this chariot served a social and cultural role. Likely a <em>pilentum</em>, it would have been rolled out in times of ceremony, potentially during festivals, processions, or weddings.</p><p>While similar chariots have been uncovered in northern Greece, this is the first such chariot to be discovered in Italy. Its presence in Pompeii will further help historians understand the people who called the city home, as well as their relation to the Mediterranean world.</p><p>As Poehler added, "This is precisely the kind of find that one wants to find at Pompeii, the really well-articulated, very well-preserved moments in time. And it happens to be in this case an object that is relatively rare despite its ubiquity in the past."</p>
It belongs in a museum (not the black market)<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTc5ODk2NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NTUzMTE4NH0.spa-Hrt91eKZBpnYfk1H6MDYduDl4auXSZ89EWM64wU/img.jpg?width=980" id="d2e80" width="1024" height="683" data-rm-shortcode-id="b12c6edf7665df4ed4475391f97e6322" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Bronze and tin medallions depict satyrs, nymphs and cupids.
Credit: Luigi Spina, Archaeological Park of Pompeii<p>Beyond its gilded appeal, the chariot is also special because it survived so we could learn from it. The area where the vehicle was found has been favored in recent years by looters, and illicit tunnels had been dug precariously close to the chariot's resting place. For this reason, the archeological park has teamed up with the Public Prosecutor's Office of Torre Annunziata to protect Pompeii's history and excavate its treasures before they become lost or stolen.</p><p>"The collaboration between the Public Prosecutor's Office of Torre Annunziata and the Archaeological Park of Pompeii has proved itself to be a formidable instrument, not only for bringing finds of exceptional historical and artistic value to light, but also for halting the criminal actions of individuals who for years have been the protagonists in a systematic looting of the priceless archaeological heritage preserved in the vast area of the Civita Giuliana villa, which is still largely buried and to which the recent exceptional findings bear witness," Nunzio Fragliasso, chief prosecutor of Torre Annunziata, said in his joint statement with Osanna.</p><p>Nor is everything that glitters historic gold. Even Pompeii's everyday ephemera can have an outsized impact on history. Pompeian citizens, for example, viewed street walls as a type of "<a href="https://www.thegreatcoursesdaily.com/how-pompeii-graffiti-preserved-the-ordinary-voices-of-ancient-rome/" target="_blank">public advertisement space</a>" and so painted them thick with graffiti. As historians must often rely on the written works of the literate elite, this graffiti gives the ordinary Pompeians their voice back. <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/10/ancient-graffiti-shifts-date-pompeii-s-destruction-back-2-months" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">One such charcoal tag</a> even corrected the record of Vesuvius's eruption by two months, from August to October, contradicting the traditionally accepted date set by Pliny the Younger.</p><p>"Today, archaeologists try to understand ancient societies by studying the entire material record -- not just the beautiful or luxurious objects, but also the broken bits of cooking pottery, the animal bones thrown into the trash, the microscopic grains of pollen in the soil, and much more," Caitlín Barrett, associate professor at Cornell University, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/pompeii-new-excavations-looting/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told <em>CNN</em></a>.</p><p>This ephemera is also at risk. Looters looking for eye-catching treasure and artwork will often destroy everyday objects in their pursuit. And after centuries encased in protective sedimentary rock, the city has again been exposed to the rains, winds, and human blunders that erode. The goal now isn't just to excavate fantastic treasures, but to preserve the world heritage site and learn from it for as long as time (<a href="http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/what%E2%80%99s-most-recent-eruption-vesuvius-and-will-it-erupt-again" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">and maybe Vesuvius</a>) will allow.</p>
Research shows that bone fragments of Jesus's (possible) brother belong to someone else.
- New research in Rome has found that bones purported to be from St. James the Less are impossible.
- The femoral bone fragments date to somewhere between 214 and 340 CE—a few centuries off the mark.
- The analysis was conducted on bone fragments, oil, and mummy remains in the Basilica dei Santa Apostoli.
a) Tibia of St Philip KLR-11036/C90 (femur of St James KLR-11030/C81); b & c) foot of St Philip KLR-12288/C18 and KLR-11029/C80
Credit: Rasmussen et. al<p>The contention that St James the Less is Jesus's brother is also contested. As the researchers note, the Lord's brother, <em>Iakob</em>, is not mentioned in any list of the 12 disciples. Pivotal to the Church of Jerusalem, with 11 mentions in the New Testament, James was part of the council that decided whether gentiles should be circumcised. His influence remains part of us—well, deciding what remains part of us.</p><p>The team notes that the potential conflation of Jesus's brother with St James is a red flag. Calling a divine sibling "Lesser" doesn't make sense considering his outsized influence on the Church of Jerusalem. Jesus's brother is textually referred to as "Lord's brother" or "the Just." Some even consider St James the Less to be a cousin of Jesus, not a brother. </p><p>As mentioned, we love a good mystery. </p><p>Regardless, the bones in the Basilica are not of any James we know of. Lead author Kaare Lund Rasmussen, an archaeometry professor at the University of Southern Denmark, <a href="https://www.livescience.com/st-james-relic-someone-else.html" target="_blank">says</a>,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Our dates, although disproving it was St. James, fall in a dark period, between the time when the apostles died and Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire."</p><p>In a <a href="https://www.sdu.dk/en/nyheder/forskningsnyheder/jesu-apostle-videnskabeligt-undersogt" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement</a> released after the publication of the study, Rasmussen continues, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We consider it very likely, that whoever moved this femur to the Santi Apostoli church, believed it belonged to St. James. They must have taken it from a Christian grave, so it belonged to one of the early Christians, apostle or not."</p><p>The mystery continues. While we might never discover actual bones or grails, there's always a novel waiting around for Netflix to option. </p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">--</span></p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His most recent book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
Waun Maun was an ancient Welsh stone circle that had an awful lot in common with Stonehenge.
A mystery of dates solved<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY1MzI4Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTE4Nzk2OX0.7m_x0Sf1EGBnHt-pDD7C8SOnYZpKzOZlqlb8fEeJL6E/img.png?width=980" id="5a9f5" width="1440" height="960" data-rm-shortcode-id="09a30eaf008cfd6ce8739e70547acb8c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Ankit Sood/Unsplash<p>The theory has to do with Stonehenge's bluestones. These are the 43 smaller upright stones positioned at the inside of the structure. They're called "bluestones" not because they're normally blue, but because they take on a bit of that hue when they're wet. (The outer, taller, stones at Stonehenge are sarsens, and the stones laying across the tops of other stones are its lintel stones.)</p><p>It has been known for some time that the bluestones were dug from a quarry in the Preseli Hills of Wales 200 km away some 5,000 years ago. (The larger <a href="https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/stonehenge-sarsens" target="_blank">sarsen stones </a>are believed to have come from about 15 miles away from Stonehenge.)</p><p>There's been a problem with dates, though. The rocks were extracted about 5,000 years ago, between 3400 BC and 3000 BC. That's 300 or 400 years before Stonehenge was built. Where were they all that time? "They're clearly not spending 200 years slowly moving them across the landscape," co-author of the research <a href="https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology/about/staff/cjp1r10.page" target="_blank">Joshua Pollard</a> tells <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/02/england-s-stonehenge-was-erected-wales-first" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Magazine</a>.</p><p>The earliest writing about the origins of Stonehenge was Geoffrey of Monmouth's c. AD 1136 "History of the Kings of Britain." In it, the author suggests that Stonehenge was constructed from the stones of a dismantled Giants' Dance stone circle atop the mythical Mount Killaraus, having been moved to Salisbury under the command of Merlin. Fantasy, to be sure, but the distant origin of the bluestones may underpin the central idea that these stones were actually repurposed from another place and time.</p>
Waun Mawn<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY1MzMwNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3OTQ1ODE5N30.TLpIZTnvJc7VHcJ5vVHMFLQbkamAVkUnCAl3vqZm7Wk/img.png?width=980" id="cf81f" width="898" height="1000" data-rm-shortcode-id="5468a6bf3b26748128a23ed9da93a4e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Denys Holovatiuk/Adobe Stock/Big Think<p>The "<a href="https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/things-to-do/stone-circle/stones-of-stonehenge/" target="_blank">Stones of Stonehenge</a>" project identified a possible Welsh stone circle in 2010, Waun Mawn, but had not excavated it. In 2017 and 2018, a research team led by Parker Pearson began serious exploration. They identified an ancient megalith quarry nearby and the toppled bluestone remains of the stone circle, estimated to be the third largest yet found after Avebury in Wiltshire and Stanton Drew in Somerset.</p><p>At Waun Mawn were socket-shaped pits that likely held other, long-gone bluestones. The researchers used optically simulated luminescence to determine how long ago the sediments buried inside the pits had been exposed to light, and radiocarbon-dated charcoal found inside. The shrine dates back pretty perfectly to 3400 BC, in line with the time the bluestones had been quarried.</p><p>The researchers mapped out the likely arrangement of the stone circle by extrapolating between the remaining stones and empty stone sockets. They arrived at a shape that measured about 100 meters across, the same as Stonehenge's original layout, the ditch currently surrounding it. (Stonehenge has been rearranged many times since it was first built.) Waun Mawn, like Stonehenge, was aligned on the midsummer solstice.</p><p>The researchers estimate that the missing bluestones were removed between 300 and 400 years after the stone circle was built, around the time Stonehenge was built. "We're quite confident the reason they come down is they've gone to Stonehenge," Parker Pearson tells <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/02/england-s-stonehenge-was-erected-wales-first" target="_blank">Science Magazine</a>.</p><p>Other clues? One of the Stonehenge bluestones has an unusual shape that matches one of the Waun Mawn pits perfectly. In addition, sone chips found in that pit precisely match that stone at Stonehenge.</p>
There goes the neighborhood<p>Sometime after 3000 BC, the people living near Waun Maun left — there's little evidence of habitation in the area after about 3400 BC, according to Parker Pearson. "It's as if they just vanished," he says. "Maybe most of the people migrated, taking their stones — their ancestral identities — with them, to start again in this other special place. This extraordinary event may also have served to unite the peoples of east and west Britain."</p><p>Analyses of plant and animal remains at Stonehenge indicate that the people who built it spent their early years on the Welsh coast, providing evidence, says Pollard, that "We've got regular contact between the two regions."</p><p>Parker Pearson suggests that maybe the people who built Stonehenge incorporated the bluestones from Waun Mawn for one of two reasons: to have something of their former home in their new one, or to use the bluestones as symbols of their authority, thus entitling it to respect and power among their new neighbors.</p><p>In any event, Pearson suspects there's more to the story. Waun Mawn's stones may not be the only transplants at Stonehenge:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"With an estimated 80 bluestones put up on Salisbury Plain at Stonehenge and nearby Bluestonehenge, my guess is that Waun Mawn was not the only stone circle that contributed to Stonehenge. Maybe there are more in Preseli waiting to be found. Who knows? Someone might be lucky enough to find them."</p>
Even tyrants and despots offer wisdom worth heeding.
- Rome's famed emperors have seen a resurgence thanks to Stoicism, but many philosophies date back to the Empire.
- While the range of rulers vary from tyrannical despots to benevolent political forces, they all have something to say.
- These 10 quotes seem suited to our modern political situation in America and beyond right now.
A List of the Roman Emperors and their Deeds<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79c26634be9c6fab888fb57bee5fd5c0"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/R9OCA6UFE-0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><blockquote>If you want a rainbow, you have to deal with the rain. — Augustus</blockquote><p>Who knew that Dolly Parton took cues from the very first Roman Emperor, who began his culture's run of global domination in 27 BCE? With wisdom like this, we can imagine how he inspired the <em>Pax Romana</em>. Eternal advice: You have to suffer life's tragedies in order to know its glory. Those shiny colors are only revealed after the mud is cleaned off. </p><blockquote>The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. — Marcus Aurelius </blockquote><p>Being a rebel is common currency in the social media age, even if many modern rebellions are really signs of following a herd mentality. Marcus Aurelius was both Stoic and ruler, holding the seat of power from 161-180 CE. His wisdom fills books, yet this simple sentence says so much: don't slip so far down your conspiracy thinking that you lose the rope to pull yourself back up. </p><blockquote>Because of a few, disasters come upon a whole people, and because of the evil deeds of one, many have to taste their fruits. — Basil I </blockquote><p>Was this written over the last four years? Or the last 40 in trickle-down America? Basil I, aka The Macedonian, ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867-886. Born a Macedonian peasant, Basil is an example of rags to riches, dropping truth bombs along the way: a simple reminder of the interconnectedness of societies. </p><blockquote>What we wish, we readily believe, and what we ourselves think, we imagine others think also. — Julius Caesar</blockquote><p>Officially, Caesar was not an emperor. He led the charge in dissolving the Roman Republic so that the Empire could begin, however. Caesar's power move in becoming the first <em>dictator perpetuo</em> (dictator for life) inspires authoritarians around the world today; it also led to his assassination. Regardless, Caeser has been the subject of fascination for over two millennia, and though often viewed as a tyrant, he greatly expanded Rome's territory and influence. Given the above quote, you can say he imagined himself as a world ruler — and really believed it. </p><blockquote>How absurd to try to make two men think alike on matters of religion, when I cannot make two timepieces agree. — Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor</blockquote><p>This 16th-century Austrian ruler was at the tail end of Roman rule, yet his sentiment is perfectly timed for the social media age. We might enjoy universal time (and tech companies willing to supply digital clocks). We're certainly no closer on a consensus about topics of religion, politics, and, during an age in which everyone has a voice, much anything else.</p>
Statue of Marcus Aurelius in Campidoglio, Rome, Italy.
Credit: Nicodape / Adobe Stock<blockquote>Say not always what you know, but always know what you say. — Claudius</blockquote><p>The first Roman emperor born outside of Italy, the son of Nero was inflicted with a limp and slight deafness at an early age, making him a bit of an outcast. These events might have tuned him into a level of empathic intelligence, as displayed in this quote—one which should be required reading for anyone signing up for a Twitter account today. </p><blockquote>Our great mistake is to try to exact from each person virtues which he does not possess, and to neglect the cultivation of those which he has. — Hadrian</blockquote><p>As with many emperors, Hadrian's rise to power and reign was filled with treachery and greed alongside vision and social reform. Well known for being a walking contradiction—compassionate one moment, murderous the next—Hadrian might have been doing a bit of self-reflection (or self-evasion) when speaking this quote. Either way, it's a powerful reminder not only to stay in one's lane but to own that lane completely. </p><blockquote>Keep cool and you will command everyone. — Justinian I</blockquote><p>Justinian the Great ruled over the Eastern Roman Empire from 527-565 CE. Known as the "Last Roman," he rose from peasantry to power and tried to instill many social reforms. Perhaps the sentiment above was his own guide for navigating the treacherous world of politics. Sadly, cooler heads don't seem to prevail in our current landscape. Maybe Justinian saw something we don't. </p><blockquote>Hidden talent counts for nothing. — Nero</blockquote><p>Let your light shine, says the debaucherous and tyrannical fifth Roman emperor. Five years into his reign he had his overbearing mother killed. Perhaps his talents were all centered in his dictatorship? Regardless, we'd do well to heed these five words. If you have something to offer the world, don't play small. </p><blockquote>It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them. — Tiberius</blockquote><p>The second Roman Emperor offers this timeless piece of advice: you need to prune plants to keep them from overgrowth, yet you can't cut back too much. This call to level-headedness is yet another piece of wisdom needed in today's social media climate. Hold people accountable for their actions while remembering the more you tear everything down, the harder it becomes to repair and rebuild.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His most recent book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>