The Roman Road in Cilicia is the remains of an ancient road located near the city of Tarsus in Southern Turkey. It is believed to be part of the major road which connected the regions of Cilicia and Cappadocia in antiquity. The road is believed to have begun in the city of Tyanna (present-day Bahçeli) in southern Cappadocia and ended in Tarsus, the capital city of Cilicia. The total distance of the ancient road is unknown. However, the modern highway distance between Tarsus and Tyanna is approximately 148 kilometers (92 miles). Only about 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) of the road have been unearthed.

Near the southern end of the road there is a stone gate (pictured above) which is believed to have served as a border checkpoint. The gate was originally built during the reign of Caracalla in the 3rd century CE but was demolished and replaced with the present gate sometime in the medieval era.

The current remains were constructed by the Romans in the 1st century CE, but it is known that a road connecting Cilicia and Capadoccia has existed since the Bronze Age. Some scholars believe that a passage has existed as early as the Neolithic era due to reports of Neolithic petroglyphs near the location of the road. Today, the Roman road is a popular spot for local pastoralists.

Mummy Hair Points to a Low-Stress Life in Ancient South America
By Matías Loewy

Several anthropological studies show that, just like other pre-Hispanic natives, those who inhabited the desert in northern Chile faced periods of food shortages, severe weather conditions, crippling diseases and violence. However, a new analysis of a stress hormone in hair samples from 19 mummies of people who lived between 500 and 1,500 years ago suggests that perhaps not all of them had as stressful an existence as previously thought.

This interpretation “is different from what had been assumed so far,” says Hermann Niemeyer, head of the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Chile, and one of the authors of the study. Niemeyer and his colleagues took hair samples from 19 mummies of San Pedro de Atacama, five of them from the Middle Period (400 to 1000 AD) and the rest from the Late Intermediate Period (1000 to 1400 AD), and measured the capillary concentration of cortisol, a hormone released in response to real or perceived threats.

Because hair grows on average one centimeter per month, the analysis functions as an indicator of the stress experienced during the natives’ last months of life—and may be an invaluable window into the emotional life of the remote past. Although it is impossible to rule out some degree of degradation caused by decomposition, Niemeyer says the mummies’ hair and other organic remains are extremely well preserved because of the arid San Pedro de Atacama atmosphere. “And cortisol itself is a fairly stable molecule,” he adds.

Researchers also measured the concentration of cortisol in the hair of 19 healthy, non-obese living residents of Santiago de Chile, ranging from 23 to 55 years old. The results were surprising: Cortisol levels proved to be similar in modern and in prehistoric samples. “While the environmental, technological and health conditions in ancient times could be considered restrictive in relation to the conditions of life today, apparently they did not alter the levels of systemic stress of these populations,” the authors wrote in Chungará, a Chilean anthropology magazine. Details of the new work were also presented in April at the 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Atlanta.

The finding contradicts previous studies. Applying a similar methodology in 2009, a team of researchers led by Emily Webb, then at the University of Western Ontario, found that mummies from different places in Peru presented very high stress levels. The team attributed this to food shortages, droughts, interpersonal conflicts and other threats to life. Researchers now assume that—despite all odds—the ancient inhabitants of the Atacama were well adapted to the conditions of the local environment, since human occupation in the area went on for thousands of years.

But this assumption of a low-stress life for the remote Atacama people should not necessarily be extrapolated to the experience of other pre-Hispanic natives. “The diversity of environments and cultural processes along the Andes is so heterogeneous that we must be cautious in expanding our findings to other prehistoric societies in our continent,” warns the study’s lead author, physical anthropologist Rocio Lopez Barrales from the University of Chile. He is currently researching at the Department of Anthropology at Ohio State University.

The application of new techniques, such as the measurement of cortisol in mummies’ hair, "is interesting for providing information on specific aspects,” says Lourdes Marquez Morfin, a bioarchaeologist at the National School of Anthropology and (ENAH) in Mexico, who specializes in society and health in ancient populations and was not involved in the new research. However, she adds that the interpretation in the Atacama study could have been more solid if it had considered a larger number of variables and health indicators.

Jerusalem “Pokémon Go” Player Finds Ark Of The Covenant

July 8th 2016 - Mordechai Benjamin of Jerusalem was playing Pokémon Go when he entered an abandoned temple in an attempt to capture a shiny Magcargo. Inside the temple, he almost immediately stumbled upon what was unmistakably the Ark of the Covenant.

“It was amazing, I was shocked. Never did I expect to find anything so important but there I was, in its presence, a shiny Magcargo!” said Mordechai, “I screencapped it immediately and when I showed my brother he was like, ‘What’s that behind it?’ and I said ‘Who cares?’ but he recognized it and told the Givat Ram museum guys.”

The museum officials were also shocked when they saw the picture. Said archaeologist Martin Schlemiel, “This is the find of a lifetime, no question. Magcargo isn’t that rare but to find a shiny one just like that is unheard of in Go, at least so far. I hoped that Mordechai would be willing to trade as it really belongs in a museum, but in the end we settled for the Ark and I think it was the right thing to do. I wish him the best.”

The Ark of the Covenant was indeed found to contain the original ten commandments, which glow with an unearthly golden fire. Shiny Magcargo by contrast glows with a purple flame instead of the usual red. Said Talmudic scholar Yitzchak Solomon, “The Talmud explains that while a shiny Slugma is just plain grey, this rarest Magcargo in fact shines purple and Rashi deems the find worthy of using a Neshef Melech, or ‘Master Ball’ to capture.”

Archaeologists in the region are now trying to use Pokémon Go players to find the Holy Grail, but have thus far found only Zubats. More details will appear on FIJMU as they arrive.

King Tut's Blade Made of Meteorite

King Tut was buried with a dagger made of an iron that literally came from space, says a new study into the composition of the iron blade from the sarcophagus of the boy king.

Using non-invasive, portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, a team of Italian and Egyptian researchers confirmed that the iron of the dagger placed on the right thigh of King Tut’s mummified body has meteoric origin.

The team, which include researchers from Milan Polytechnic, Pisa University and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, detailed their results in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

The weapon, now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, was described in 1925 by Howard Carter, who three years before had discovered the treasure-packed tomb, as “a highly ornamented gold dagger with crystal knob.” Read more.

Incense burner base

Early Classic period

Object Place: Tiquisate, Guatemala, Pacific Slope

Hour glass-shaped base for a Teotihuacan-style incense burner (see 1988.1229a). It is embellished with a stylized nose ornament, and two circular elements attached to each side of the base recall typical Mesoamerican ear flares.

Elaborate incense burners may have served as oracle vessels through which the spirit realm was contacted. This two-part incense burner is modeled in the form of a temple, complete with an elaborate “roof comb”. A figure, standing in the temple’s doorway, is adorned with divination mirrors. He is flanked by attendants holding incense bags. Burning coals and incense were placed in the burner’s base, the smoke rising through a chimney at the back of the burner’s top, and emerging from the temple’s roof.

Elaborate incense burners may have served as oracle vessels through which the spirit realm was contacted. This burner-produced by Maya artists influenced by Teotihuacan culture-was modeled in the form of a temple. A figure, perhaps a religious specialist, is adorned with divination mirrors and stands at the temple’s entrance, with attendants holding incense bags. Burning coals and incense were placed in the base, the smoke rising through a chimney at the back and emerging from the temple’s roof.


New Mexico scientist builds carbon dating machine that does not damage artifacts
Marvin Rowe’s machine can accurately date even tiny artifacts without damaging them
By T. S. Last | Journal Staff Writer

“The process is important because, unlike other methods of radiocarbon dating that destroy the sample being tested, LEPRS preserves it. It also works on tiny samples – even a flake of ink or paint – and is considered a more accurate means of dating.”

After decades of searching, a long-lost Holocaust tunnel was finally found in Paneriai, Lithuania. It was dug by 80 members of ‘The Burning Brigade’ (prisoners forced to burn their dead) using only their hands and spoons they found on burned bodies. Guards caught on when 40 prisoners tried to escape, but 11 were able to get out safely. Source Source 2

Forgotten Mayan city 'discovered' in Central America by 15-year-old

A 15-year-old boy believes he has discovered a forgotten Mayan city using satellite photos and Mayan astronomy.

William Gadoury, from Quebec, came up with the theory that the Maya civilization chose the location of its towns and cities according to its star constellations.

He found Mayan cities lined up exactly with stars in the civilization’s major constellations.

Studying the star map further, he discovered one city was missing from a constellation of three stars.

Using satellite images provided by the Canadian Space Agency and then mapped on to Google Earth, he discovered the city where the third star of the constellation suggested it would be. Read more.


May 17th 1902: Antikythera mechanism discovered

On this day in 1902, an odd mechanism discovered in a Greek shipwreck was identified as a form of ancient calculator. The wreck was discovered off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900 by sponge divers, and a number of artefacts - including statues, jewellery, pottery, and furniture - were recovered from the ship, dating from the first century BCE. The haul was sent to the National Museum of Archaelogy in Athens for analysis. In May 1902, archaelogist Valerios Stais discovered that one of the recovered objects - which initially appeared just a piece of rock - was in fact a wooden box housing a clockwork mechanism. However, it took decades before the importance of the find was realised. After the 1970s, X-ray imaging allowed scientists to infer that the device could be used for monitoring astronomical movement, tracking the cycles of the solar system. It was dubbed an ‘ancient Greek computer’, but scholars were skeptical until further research in the early 2000s. It was discovered that the device was operated by dials which moved the internal gearwheels to display celestial time - it was essentially a computer which could predict the positions of the sun, moon, and planets on any given date. The fascinating mechanism reveals the sophistication of Ancient Greek scientific and mathematical thinking.

A King's Apotheosis: Iconography, Text, and Politics from a Classic Maya Temple at Holmul

Excavations at the ancient Maya city of Holmul, Petén, have led to the discovery of a building decorated with an intricately carved and painted plaster frieze. The iconography of the frieze portrays seated lords, mountain spirits, feathered serpents, and gods of the underworld engaged in the apparent rebirth of rulers as sun gods. Large emblems carved on the side of the building identify the structure as a shrine for ancestor veneration. A dedicatory text carved along the bottom of the frieze contains a king list and references to the political and familial ties of the ruler who commissioned the temple. Together, the iconography and text of this structure provide evidence of function and meaning. They also shed new light on a century during Classic Maya history known asthe Tikal “Hiatus,” for which a limited number of texts are available. The information derived from this monument also broadens our understanding of the nature of hegemonic relationships among Classic Maya states. 

This was a very good read in this summer’s Latin American Antiquity. I hope you will take the time to read it over.

This 2,500-year-old corpse could change history
A rare genome has been identified in an ancient body pulled from a sarcophagus on a site near ancient Carthage, in a discovery which could throw new light on the history of human movement. The DNA of the 2,500-year-old remains of the ‘Young Man of Byrsa’ , discovered in 1994 and believed to be that of a young male Phoenician, was sequenced by a team of scientists.
Children's Doodles Found in Margins of Medieval Manuscript

The margins of a medieval manuscript from a convent in Naples, Italy, are decorated with doodles of what are apparently devils, a farm animal and a person that were likely drawn by children, a new study finds.

Children probably scribbled these doodles on the 14th-century manuscript a few hundred years after the book was made, said the study’s author, Deborah Thorpe, a research fellow at the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders at the University of York in the United Kingdom.

The drawings are a rather serendipitous find; Thorpe discovered them by chance while conducting research for another project.

“I was looking through a database of medieval manuscripts online, and I found images of these beautiful doodles in the margins, and to me they looked like they were done by children,” Thorpe said in a statement. “I thought, ‘This is really interesting, has anyone written anything about this?'’ Read more.