Saturday, 14 March 2015

Little-Known Mysterious Prehistoric Site In Anatolia, Turkey Why Was It Abandoned And Destroyed By Fire?

Norsuntepe is located in the Keban area (modern eastern Turkey) on the Upper Euphrates, about 25 km from Elazig.
The crown of the hill, had an area of approximately 500 m to 300 m, within which settlement traces were detectable by archaeologists.
Excavations at Norsuntepe were conducted between 1968 and 1974 by the German Archaeological Institute archaeologists led by Harald Hauptmann, the Heidelberg professor of Prehistory and Early History.

The field works had to be finished by 1974 because of the construction of the Keban Dam works and rising water level. In the excavations of Norsuntepe, archaeologists conducted investigations on the extractive metallurgy of copper, arsenic and a lustrous gray metalloid found in nature and known as antimony.
Rhey also analyzed excavated smelting products from the area of Norsuntepe (Keban) on the Upper Euphrates.
In all regions of Anatolia the majority of artifacts of a late Chalcolithic date were made of unalloyed copper. Some were also made of arsenical coppers with a low arsenic content.
At Norsuntepe, a site which is now under the waters of Keban dam, smelting furnaces, copper ore, slag, fragments of clay crucibles or molds, and finished metal artifacts have been found inside and in the courtyards of a group of buildings which most probably represented a quarter of the settlement inhabited by metal workers
Norsuntepe was probably a fortified site, with mudbrick houses finished with plaster and in some instances had wall paintings.
It has been identified 40 settlement layers from different periods of time, namely the late Chalcolithic (4,000- 3,000 BC) through all phases of the Bronze Age until a Urartian settlement in the Iron Age.

Norsuntepe was one of the most important sites of this period.
Chalcolithic (sometimes referred to as the 'Copper Age') was an important period of time with achievements, of which most striking development was the extensive use of Copper.

Until this period, the only material that the humankind had used to make their weapons was natural stones.
Later, they learned to process and shape this metal copper to make strong weapons and also ornamentation. We also see a considerable increase in the number of towns scattered across the area.

The new towns of this period were usually built on the water or in rich valleys.
The great mother goddess of Asia Minor was the main deity and they have made many figurines of this goddess which they used in their religious rituals. The burials that were within the houses of preceding Neolithic period now take place outside the towns.
After the Iron Age, which also supplied several richly furnished graves, the settlement was abandoned and destroyed by fire.

source :

Megaliths, an ancient mystery

Megaliths, an ancient mystery

 Some argue that megaliths used to be shrines of pagan gods, others that they operated as ancient astronomical observatories, still others believe they represented burial ground facilities. Megalithic sites in Bulgaria have not lost their appeal for either explorers or curious tourists. You might fail to spot some them while walking on open fields or in the woods, however these ancient structures immune to the destruction of time, and alive in legends, have been there for thousands of years. So far, hundreds of such structures have been card-indexed in Bulgaria. Their actual number is even bigger though. 

© Photo: Lyubomir Tsonev 

Menhiri near Pliska 

No one knows anything about them. The monolithic rammed stone blocks, grouped or structured in weird facilities, were built by our predecessors in the course of close to four millennia. Such heaps can only be seen in Europe and Asia. The earliest ones from the 4th millennium BC stand in Northwestern Europe. The Bulgarian megaliths are younger – built from 12 to 5 c. BC, hence their more sophisticated construction. The megaliths in the Bulgarian lands are two types. Do you remember the funny character Asterix and his good friend Obelix who drags along his favorite menhir, or a stone block? In fact menhirs are stone blocks either larger than human height or clustered together, set deeply into the ground. There are hundreds of dolmens in Bulgaria. These are facilities made of stone slabs that look very much like houses with two to three rooms. “We don’t know who created them. We talk about the Thracians but they actually lived after the structures appeared”, explains Lubomir Tsonev from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, who has explored megaliths for years. The Bulgarian explorer advises us to focus on Northeastern Bulgaria where the ruins of the first Balkan Bulgarian capital Pliska dated in 7 c. are scattered. Its vicinity boasts hundreds of magnificent menhirs similar to the ones in France and Belgium. 

 © Photo: Lyubomir Tsonev 

Chromleh in the Rhodopes (the village of Dolni Glavanak) 

“No one can say what they were made of but the mystery is right in front of your eyes”, Lubomir Tsonev says. “Some are 1.5 m in height, others, close to 2 m and stand out rammed in the ground. Some menhirs are set into circles and are called cromlechs. Stonehenge offers some features of a cromlech. Bulgaria has two such structures. One of them was found in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains near the village of Dolni Glavanak, not far from the dams along the Arda River. This is a great place to visit. It displays 15 stone columns spaced out in a circle with a diameter of 8 meters. The other cromlech was found by late archeologist Prof. Georgi Kitov in the region of Starosel, Southern Bulgaria. In 2002 Dr. Kitov’s team came across the cromlech on the southern edge of the village of Staro Zhelezare. It represents twenty stones of various height arranged in a circle. Quite surprisingly this cromlech is unique worldwide as to the way the construction has been buried. It seems that the Thracians loved to make mounds, and they even made artificial mounds. In this way they covered the cromlech allover.” 

 © Photo: Lyubomir Tsonev 

Dolmen in Stranja Mountain, the village of Granichar 

Stone monuments abound in the southeastern Bulgarian mountains Strandja and Sakar. Their ancient forests are virtually dotted with dolmens. Interestingly, some of the megalith structures face ancient summits crowned with pagan shrines. In the past the people of Sakar believed that the millennial stones were inhabited by ghosts and spitted fire at night. 

 © Photo: Lyubomir Tsonev 

Dolmen in Sakar Mountain, the village of Hlyabovo 

“The earliest dolmens in Bulgaria stand in the Sakar Mountain, in the vicinity of Hlyabovo village, not far from Topolovgrad. There is a map in the village. The locals call dolmens ‘barnlets’ or ‘dragon houses’. Indeed, they look like houses. The simplest constructions have a single chamber, others have more. In the recent past the mountain was bare, and they stood out clearly. However after the region was afforested they are difficult to spot amid thick vegetation. Wonderful dolmens are found in central Strandja Mountain, off the villages of Granichar, Kirovo, Gorno Yabalkovo and Dolko Yabalkovo.”

Forts in Maharashtra

Nowhere in the country would you encounter such a profusion of forts. And such variety. Sited on an island, as at Murud-Janjira or guarding the seas as at Bassein, or among the Sahyadri hills, as at Raigad, whose zig-zag walls and rounded bastions sit like a sceptre and crown amidst hills turned mauve. 

 Most of the forts in Maharashtra whether up in the hills or near the seas are associated with Shivaji --the great Maratha warrior and an equally great fort builder. Moreover, these forts were treated as mini-cities, such as Panhala, which is now a hill station. The concept of the fort-city was, however, not peculiar to Shivaji alone. The Portuguese who came to India as traders and missionaries, built within a century of their coming, Bassein, a garden city to rival many a European capital.






Friday, 13 March 2015

Archaeologists discover Bronze Age palace and huge trove of grave goods in Spain

Archaeologists from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have discovered a palatial construction with an audience hall which makes up the first specifically political precincts built in continental Europe. A prince's tomb in the subsoil contains the largest amount of grave goods from the Bronze Age existing in the Iberian Peninsula. Some of the most outstanding items include a silver diadem of great scientific and patrimonial value, the only one conserved from that era in Spain, as well as four golden and silver ear dilators.
Excavations conducted in August by the researchers of the UAB's Department of Prehistory Vicente Lull, Cristina Huete, Rafael Micó y Roberto Risch have made evident the unique archaeological wealth of La Almoloya site, located in Pliego, Murcia. The site was the cradle of the "El Argar" civilisation which lived in the south-eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula during the Bronze Age.
La Almoloya is located on a steep plateau which dominated an extensive region. This strategic and privileged position gave way to over six centuries of occupation, from 2200 to 1550 before our common era. The site was discovered in 1944 by Emeterio Cuadrado and Juan de la Cierva.
The findings indicate that La Almoloya was a primary centre of politics and wealth within the political territory of El Argar -- located a few hundred kilometres to the south in Almeria -- and sheds new light on the politics and gender relations in one of the first urban societies of the West.

A Palatial Building and new Argaric Style

The discoveries made by the archaeological team include an urban tissue made up of fully equipped buildings, as well as dozens of tombs, most of them including grave goods. According to archaeologists, this urban tissue, as well as the solidity and mastery of the construction techniques, are unique samples of prehistoric constructions in continental Europe.
The excavations indicate that the La Almoloya plateau, of 3,800 metres square, was densely populated and included several residential complexes of some 300 square metres, with eight to twelve rooms in each residence.
The buildings' walls were constructed with stones and argamasa, and covered with layers of mortar. Some parts contain stucco decorated with geometric and naturalistic motifs, a novelty which represents the discovery of an Argaric artistic style.
Among the discoveries made is a wide hall with high ceilings measuring some 70 square metres, with capacity for 64 people seated on the benches lining the walls. The hall includes a ceremonial fireplace and a podium of symbolic character. This unique building was used for political purposes and archaeologists consider that it must have been used to celebrate hearings or government meetings.

La Almoloya's Great Hall. Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Archaeologists affirm that this is the first time a building specifically dedicated to governing purposes has been discovered in Western Europe, and believe that decisions were taken here which affected many of the region's other communities.
The hall and adjoining rooms make up a large building which the archaeologists have classified as a palace. They highlight the fact that only the most important of Oriental civilisations had similar constructions during the Bronze Age, with comparable structures and functions.
Several items were recovered from the interior of the buildings, including objects made with metals, stones, bones, fabrics and ceramics; all in exceptional states of conservation.
A Princely Tomb with Objects of Great Value
Of the fifty tombs excavated from under the La Almoloya buildings, one stands out in particular. Located in a privileged area, next to the main wall of the hall, the tomb reveals the remains of a man and woman buried with their bodies in a flexed position and accompanied by some thirty objects containing precious metals and semi-precious stones.
One of the most outstanding pieces is a silver diadem which encircled the skull of the woman. The silver diadem is of great scientific and patrimonial value, since the only other four diadems known to have existed were all discovered 130 years ago at the site of El Algar in Almeria, but none of them remain today in Spain.

A silver diadem discovered in the Spanish Bronze Age tomb, perched atop the head of a female skeleton. Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Four ear dilators, which are unusual objects for the Bronze Age, were also discovered; two are made of solid gold and two of silver.
The abundance of silver is especially notable, since archaeologists also found nine other objects made of silver, including rings, earrings and bracelets. They also discovered that the nails used to hold the handle of an elaborate bronze dagger were made of silver.

Skull and detail of the jewels, with the golden and silver ear dilators. Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
One of the most admirable items is nonetheless a small ceramic cup with the rim and outer part covered in fine layers of silver and which constitutes a pioneering example of silverwork on vessels.
The last item worth mentioning is a metallic punch with a bronze tip and a handle forged in silver. This item is considered unique and archaeologists were surprised to discover the perfection with which it was crafted and the grooved designs which decorate the top of the punch.
According to researchers, the artifacts found at La Almoloya are of great historical and patrimonial relevance. Their interest transcends local scale and should be considered of first order for all of Europe. They assure that the items are unique and that in addition to their intrinsic value, there is also the fact that they are perfectly contextualised. The archaeologists also stress the need to conserve, study and disseminate these findings.
La Almoloya contains many unknown answers and offers many promising perspectives for future digs. The completion of the urban tissue and revealing the details of the first political structure of the West are some of the challenges remaining, archaeologists conclude.
Featured image: The sprawling site of La Almoloya, near Pliego, Murcia in southeastern Spain. Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. "Bronze age palace and grave goods discovered at the archaeological site of La Almoloya in Pliego, Murcia." ScienceDaily.