Saturday, December 16, 2017

High status female found buried at Aspero archaeological site in Peru

The expression on the ancient face that looks out from the virtual image is that of a benign and ordinary looking woman. But, according to Dr Ruth Shady, director of the Caral Archaeological Zone (ZAC), the individual, who anthropologists concluded died between the ages of 40 and 50 years old, was anything but ordinary 
Archaeologist Ruth Shady and her research team found the remains of a high-status woman buried about 4,500 years ago at the archaeological site of Aspero —Caral civilization’s fishing town. Shady noted the importance of this discovery to further understand the dynamics of the oldest social organization in the Americas. 

The body was unburied from Huaca of the Idols. “Investigators analyzed the skeletal remains and concluded the body belonged to a 40-year-old woman. The place and the way she was buried revealed the high rank she held 4,500 years ago,” she said. “This find shows evidence of gender equality, that is, both women and men were able to play leading roles and attain high social status more than 1,000 years ago,” Shady underlined. 

Dr Shady explained: 'It's exciting to see the computer-generated 3D image of a person who we believe was a noble woman with important social standing and authority in the ancient Caral civilisation. 'Her discovery refers to the four brooches or 'cuatro tupus' carved from animal bones and shaped like monkeys and birds, that were found pinned to the fabric covering her remains. 'We know that these ornamental fasteners were used by women of prestige in traditional societies as symbols of their affluent social status.

read more here @ Andina and the Daily Mail and Archaeology Magazine

The Feared and Respected Old Norse Völva Sorceresses

In the Viking Age, the völvas (female shamans) were both feared and respected: they exercised seiðr (Norse magic) and were supposedly in direct contact with Odin, the Allfather. The word völva derives from the Old Norse vǫlva meaning “wand carrier”, a traveling sorceress and seeress who got well paid for her services.

A number of women’s graves found in Scandinavia contained what is believed to be a völva’s wand. The graves are often well equipped and rich, and show that these women were involved in practicing magic.

The völvas were the foremost religious interpreters in the Norse society. The most famous example of a völva’s prediction is in the Eddic poem Völuspá (Old Norse: Vǫluspá, meaning ”Prophecy of the Völva”). The poem tells the story of the creation of the world until its coming end of Ragnarök (“The Doom of the Gods”), told by a Norse sorceress addressing Odin.

read more here @ Ancient Origins

Ancient burial sites show just how badly our ancestors treated older women

Grave 94When archaeologists Christine Cave and Marc Oxenham analysed three Anglo-Saxon burial sites, they found that women were often less respected than men in death.

Cave and Oxenham looked into the burials of 200 people dating back to the 6th century AD. They focused their attention on three cemeteries: Greater Chesterford in Essex, Mill Hill in Kent, and Worthy Park in Hampshire.

Their findings, titled Sex and the Elderly were published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

The archaeologists found that, while men did receive non-normative burials, more women received them than men in every age category. "Only women were buried face down, or prone," they note, "a form of non-normative burial treatment often seen as having negative connotations." In fact, two of those prone women appear to have been bound or restrained.

read more here @ IB Times and Forbes

The grim reality of the brothels of Pompeii

From The Local:
The conditions in which the women worked were of no concern to brothel owners, clients or anyone else for that matter, as most sex workers in ancient Italy were slaves. As the ancient attitude towards slaves was one of indifference at best, and violent disdain at worst, the lives of women were no source of empathy to those outside their class.

The sex workers fulfilled a utilitarian function and nothing else. Confined to the premises by (usually) male pimps who provided them with only their most basic needs, the women were essentially cut off from the outside world. This rendered them vulnerable to the whims of both pimp and client alike.

read more here @ The Local

Winfarthing Woman

The chance discovery of a mysterious wealthy lady in poor farmland soil is about to rewrite the history of Anglo-Saxon England.

The find by Tom Lucking, a student, of the remains bedecked with an exquisite gold pendant and diplomatic coins has led to a reassessment of the powerbases of the Anglo-Saxon elite in the 7th century.

The “Winfarthing Woman”, named after the village in Norfolk where she was found, was described yesterday as a high-status individual who might have even been royal. The pendant found with the body features hundreds of tiny individually set garnets, some used to create an interwoven serpent-type motif, whose hand-cut garnet eyes are half a millimetre in diameter.

Face of Ancient South American Queen Reconstructed

Some 1,200 years ago, a wealthy noblewoman, at least 60 years old, was laid to rest in Peru—richly provisioned for eternity with jewelry, flasks, and weaving tools made of gold.
Now, more than five years after her tomb was found untouched outside of the coastal town of Huarmey, scientists have reconstructed what she may have looked like.

In 2012, Giersz and Peruvian archaeologist Roberto Pimentel Nita discovered the tomb El Castillo de Huarmey. The hillside site was once a large temple complex for the Wari culture, which dominated the region centuries before the more famous Inca. The tomb—which looters miraculously missed—contains the remains of 58 noblewomen, including four queens or princesses.

read more here @ National Geographic

Friday, December 1, 2017

Secret talent of Henry VIII’s last Queen

Katherine Parr was, in fact, a master of public relations who rallied England behind its King on the road to war, according to an academic who is preparing the first performance in 470 years of the queen’s secret musical work.

Dr. David Skinner, fellow and Osborn director of music at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, is to oversee the 21st century debut of Thomas Tallis’s Gaude gloriosa Dei Mater, with words, written in English, by Parr herself.
The lost manuscript, thought to have belonged to 16th century organist Thomas Mulliner, was used to stuff cracks in the walls of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, possibly by builders ignorant of its significance.

When it was uncovered in 1978, it was identified as being from the six-part Gaude gloriosa, which is among Tallis’s greatest works.

read more here @ National Post

Women in a Temple of Death

Trenches Peru SacrificeArchaeologists have long known that ancient societies on Peru’s north coast killed male prisoners of war and drank their blood in grisly sacrifice ceremonies. Now researchers have found an unusual twist on that scene: the remains of six young women, sacrificed in a ritual in about A.D. 850. Their bones were found under the floor of a mudbrick temple complex in Pucalá, near the city of Chiclayo. The women show no signs of disease and had been wrenched into odd positions. Four lay atop each other in a single grave, and two others rested a few feet away, accompanied by a baby llama. Most are missing rib bones, indicating that their remains were left exposed and that their organs had been eaten by vultures after death, a “purification rite” that the bodies of male sacrifice victims were also subjected to, says archaeologist Edgar Bracamonte of the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum.

read more here @ Archaeology Magazine

Unravelling the Mysteries of the Tomb of the Red Queen of Palenque

A remarkable tomb dating back to 600 or 700 AD was discovered by Mexican archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz in 1994. When the researchers opened the burial chamber they couldn't believe their eyes… 

The tomb is located inside Temple XIII, among the ruins of the ancient Maya city of Palenque. Excavations were carried out at the temple to discover its construction sequence and the methods used in building it. Works began in 1973 by a team led by Jorge Acosta. He located the space which he called the burial chamber.

The team started to clean the area they believed to be the tomb and discovered a small blocked-up door on the vertical section of the substructure's second level, about 2.80 meters (9.19 ft.) over the level of the Temple Plaza. When they removed the block, they saw a six meter (19.69 ft.) long corridor which led to one of the best preserved galleries discovered in Palenque to date. A few meters later, between the other magnificent corridors and chambers there was a treasure waiting – one which overwhelmed the researchers.

read more here @ Ancient Origins