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>
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>
Scientists use new methods to discover what's inside drug containers used by ancient Mayan people.
- Archaeologists used new methods to identify contents of Mayan drug containers.
- They were able to discover a non-tobacco plant that was mixed in by the smoking Mayans.
- The approach promises to open up new frontiers in the knowledge of substances ancient people consumed.
PARME staff archaeologists excavating a burial site at the Tamanache site, Mérida, Yucatan.
Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.
- Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
- The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
- The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.