burial cave

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Ballymeanoch Standing Stones and Cist Cairn, Kilmartin Glen, Argyll, Scotland, 15.4.17. These two sets of standing stones can be seen from a distance due to their height and location. Some of the stones feature marking such as cup art and line markings and the second and the last image show the relative location of a small cist cairn. Nearby can be seen the remains of a henge and a Bronze Age linear cemetery.

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North East Passage Grave of the Balnuaran of Clava or ‘Clava Cairns’, Inverness, 26.7.16. This structure stood at over three and a half metres in height and is composed of various materials. The passage of this cairn was so low that people would have to crawl in order to access the central chamber. The central space was likely lined with quartz along the back wall so that at the shortest day of the year, sunlight would have reflected on these surfaces and illuminated the chamber space. This grave is one of a large number of cairns that composed a large scale prehistoric cemetery. Of interest is the single decorated piece that forms one of the foundation stones of the cairn. There is much speculation as to whether the ‘cup and ring’ markings on this single stone represent constellations and stellar alignments.

I was thinking about Homo naledi last night, and how it’s puzzling they existed alongside early humans and the burials, which seemed intentional but they that don’t seem smart enough for. Has anyone suggested it was the sapiens doing the cave burials? What if if naledi didn’t just live in the same time and place but were part of the human culture? Maybe they scavenged on the edges of human settlements, like baboons do, or maybe they were more like pets? Semi-domesticated. Maybe the humans used them like watchdogs, or to climb trees for fruit, or something.

Not likely, but an interesting thought.

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The Calderstones, Calderstones Park, Liverpool, 30.5.16. The stones would have originally formed a dolmen or burial mound and it is thought that the site would have approximated that of Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey, North Wales. As late as 1825, the stones were in their original site with the remenants of the mound. However, since then they have been displaced several times. At one point they sat at the entrance to the park. The stones are beautifully marked with prehistoric rock art although they have been defaced with subsequent graffiti. At present they are inaccessible to the general public inside a locked glass vestibule. 

“Skulls and bones on display in the Fontanelle cemetery in Naples, southern Italy, on November 2, 2015. The cemetery is the epicenter of what is known as ‘The Neapolitan Cult of the Dead,’ or ‘The Neapolitan Skull Cult.’ It is a vast underground ossuary located in a cave in the tuff hillside at the heart of the Sanita quarter, once used to bury the corpses of people for whom there was no room in the public graves at the churches within the city.”

More: Scenes from Underground

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Pre-colonial Gold Earrings

Imagine an abundance of gold, where everyone from the noble upper class to the warriors to the common people to the slaves all were covered in gold ornaments. Being passed down from generation to generation or being buried with your gold possessions to take with you to the afterlife. This was the life of our ancestors prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. All genders, all classes, wore gold, from gold necklaces, earrings, bracelets, armlets, to even extending that love for gold to making a threaded belt and hilts of swords and daggers made of gold.

When the first Spaniards arrived on the islands of what is now known as the Philippines, from Magellan to Legazpi, they all recorded the gold jewelry that was numerous among the people they saw. They were shocked on the amount of gold they saw on a people who for the Spaniards dressed almost to naked, with the men who wore g-strings known as bahag and other various local terms, and their form of clothing was through their tattoos and gold ornaments. To the Spaniards they saw gold as a symbol of wealth, however the people they saw wore it as a part of their everyday clothing attire regardless of class and gender. One of the records that most illustrate this abundance and distribution of gold are the illustrations of pre-colonial Pilipin@s in the Boxer Codex manuscript which is the only known manuscript from the Philippines to use gold leaf.

Both men and women wore earrings and earplugs. They had their ears pierced, men with one or two holes per lobe, while women with three to four. Panika was the general term for rings and plugs worn in the lower hole (panikaan). They were also the term used for the finger-thick gold rings which were split on top to be fastened to the earlobe “like a letter O, in which Francisco Alcina mentioned "without being able to see the opening once they were inserted.” It was made by hammering a thin sheet of gold over a wax-resin mould, and it must be at least 18 karats to be soft enough to work. Some of these rings were hollow and others a solid gold heavy enough to pull the earlobe down until the ring actually touched the shoulder. In the Initao Burial Cave in Lekak, Cotabato, among the ceramic heads found was one that had holes through elongated earlobes for the rings.

The large gold plugs worn were known as pamarang or barat. Dalin-dalin were simple loops and palbad were the rosettes worn by women in the uppermost hole, dinalopang if it was shaped like a yellow dalopang blossom. Kayong-kayong was any pendant dangling from an earring and sang was a single ring worn in one ear only.

In Samar and Leyte were ear ornaments called uod, or caterpillar shaped ornaments, that were slit in the back so that they wrapped around the extended earlobe. This ear ornament can be seen on female figures carved on stone reliefs in Indian temples of the same period. The form is not seen in other parts of Southeast Asia, suggesting that there was a direct and intimate connection between Indian and Samarnon artisans.

The holes were made with a copper needle. The first piercings were made soon after birth while the next ones were made before the childs second year. A thick cotton thread was looped through the hole to keep it from closing. After the wound was healed the thread was then replaced with a series of gradually thicker bamboo or hardwood splints until the hole was large enough to fit the circumference of the little finger. It was then over time extended to the desired size by inserting leaves tightly rolled up to exert steady, gentle, pressure outwards. 

If by any chance the distended lobes tore, the ends would be trimmed and the raw edges would be sutured together to heal the hole again. This procedure was know as kulot or sisip and it was more frequently asked by women as when women fought against one another they would go for each others ears first. 

They even had terms for those without pierced ears, bingbing, and those whose ear lobes were naturally to short for a successful piercing and distending known as bitbit.