All posts by Archaeology World Team

3000 year old trousers discovered in Chinese grave oldest ever found

3000-year-old trousers discovered in Chinese grave oldest ever found

That’s right–1000 years before Christ’s birth these were worn. Archeologists say the two men whose remains have recently been excavated from tombs in western China put their pants on one leg at a time, just as the rest of us are doing today.

With straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch, the ancient wool trousers resemble modern riding pants, says a team led by archaeologists Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin.

The discoveries, uncovered in the Yanghai graveyard in China’s Tarim Basin, support previous work suggesting that nomadic herders in Central Asia invented pants to provide bodily protection and freedom of movement for horseback journeys and mounted warfare, the scientists report May 22, 2014, in Quaternary International. So not much changes – these highly decorated pants must have been someone’s pride and joy as a great deal of work has gone into them.  

The two men were around 40 years old when they died, and they were buried along with a decorated leather bridle, a decorated horsetail, a wooden horse bit, a battle-ax, whip, bow sheath, and a leather bracer for arm protection.  Their trouser design comprised three pieces of wool cloth, one for each leg and one for the crotch, which was stitched together and fastened at the waist with strings.  They were finished with woven designs on the legs.

Beck and Wagner described the trousers as “a ground-breaking achievement in the history of cloth making.”This new paper definitely supports the idea that trousers were invented for horse riding by mobile pastoralists, and that trousers were brought to the Tarim Basin by horse-riding peoples,” remarks linguist and China authority Victor Mair of the University of Pennsylvania.

Previously, Europeans and Asians wore gowns, robes, tunics, togas or — as observed on the 5,300-year-old body of Ötzi the Iceman — a three-piece combination of loincloth and individual leggings. A dry climate and hot summers helped preserve human corpses, clothing and other organic material in the Tarim Basin. More than 500 tombs have been excavated in a graveyard there since the early 1970s.

Earlier research on mummies from several Tarim Basin sites, led by Mair, identified a 2,600-year-old individual known as Cherchen Man who wore burgundy trousers probably made of wool. Trousers of Scythian nomads from West Asia date to roughly 2,500 years ago.

Mair suspects that horse riding began about 3,400 years ago and trouser-making came shortly thereafter in wetter regions to the north and west of the Tarim Basin. Ancient trousers from those areas are not likely to have been preserved, Mair says.

Horse riding’s origins are uncertain and could date to at least 4,000 years ago, comments archaeologist Margarita Gleba of University College London. If so, she says, “I would not be surprised if trousers appeared at least that far back.”

Front view of the woollen trousers (find number: 2003SYIM21:19, after Xinjiang, 2011) from the Yanghai site, tomb M21; (A) drawing: U. Beck; (B)

Front view of the woollen trousers (find number: 2003SYIM21:19, after Xinjiang, 2011) from the Yanghai site, tomb M21; (A) drawing: U. Beck; (B) 

The two trouser-wearing men entombed at Yanghai were roughly 40 years old and had probably been warriors as well as herders, the investigators say. One man was buried with a decorated leather bridle, a wooden horse bit, a battle-ax and a leather bracer for arm protection. Among objects placed with the other body were a whip, a decorated horse tail, a bow sheath, and a bow.

Beck and Wagner’s group obtained radiocarbon ages of fibers from both men’s trousers, and of three other items in one of the tombs.

The Yanghai Tombs (also spelled Yang-Hai) are located in the desert Turpan Basin of Shanshan County, Turpan District, in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of northwest China. Yangshai lies at the base of the Fire or Flaming Mountains (Huoyan Shan) and the foothills of the Heavenly Mountains (Tian Shan), on the edge of the Turpan Oasis, that has drawn people for thousands of years. Yangshai is about 30 km southeast of the main site of Turfan or Gaochang.

The tombs are grouped into three localities: Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3. The localities are really artificial: the cemetery is one big location, measuring some 54,000 square meters (or about 600,000 square feet) in the area.

The people buried in the tombs were nomadic pastoralists of the Subeixi culture, one of many Steppe Societies who roamed the deserts and steppes of central Eurasia from Ukraine to China. The Yanghai Tombs were discovered in the early 1970s by local Turpan villagers who were repairing a karez, and the tombs were excavated through the early 21st century.

Much of the publication in English has been focused on the analysis of the hundreds of mummies and thousands of artifacts recovered from the tombs. More than 500 tombs were excavated in 2003 alone, under the direction of E.G. Lu, with support from the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology and the Bureau of Cultural Relics of Turpan Prefecture.

The trousers were sewn together from three pieces of brown-colored wool cloth, one piece for each leg and an insert for the crotch. The tailoring involved no cutting but included side slits, strings for fastening at the waist and woven designs on the legs.

Source: phys.org

“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey

“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey
“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey

In the ruins of a 3rd Century B.C house, Turkish archeologists came across an incredible find: a mosaic that features a skeleton with a large loaf of bread and a pitcher of wine.

Besides, the imagery of a skeleton having a blast with the bread and the wine.

one section of the three-panel also features an optimistic message  written in Greek that reads: “Be cheerful and live your life.”

The extremely well-preserved ancient mosaic was discovered in a house in Turkey’s southern state, Hatay Province, in the provincial capital of Antakya.

The 3th-century “meme” was discovered during construction of a cable car system.

An archaeologist from the Hatay Archaeology Museum, Demet Kara explained that the mosaic entitled  “skeleton mosaic,” was an elaborate centerpiece of a mosaic floor in the dining room of the house.

There are three scenes on glass mosaics made of black tiles. Two things are very important among the elite class in the Roman period in terms of social activities: The first is the bath and the second is dinner.

In the first scene, a black person throws fire. That symbolizes the bath. In the middle scene, there is a sundial and a young clothed man running towards it with a bare-headed butler behind.

The sundial is between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. 9 p.m. is the bath time in the Roman period. He has to arrive at supper at 10 p.m. Unless he can, it is not well received.

There is writing on the scene that reads he is late for supper and writing about time on the other.

In the last scene, there is a reckless skeleton with a drinking pot in his hand along with bread and a wine pot.

The writing on it reads ‘be cheerful and live your life,’” explained Kara“[This is] a unique mosaic in Turkey.

There is a similar mosaic in Italy but this one is much more comprehensive.

It is important for the fact that it dates back to the 3rd century B.C.,” “Antiocheia was a very important, rich city. There were mosaic schools and mints in the city. she added.

Mehtab Bagh and the Baby Taj Mahal: Mughal Gardens Restored in India

Mehtab Bagh and the Baby Taj Mahal: Mughal Gardens Restored in India

Long overshadowed by the Taj, two neglected spots in Agra have now been restored to their original splendour

The landscaped garden around the Tomb of I'timad-ud-Daulah in Agra
The landscaped garden around the Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah in Agra

Tourists Christine and Martyn Andrews, first-timers to Agra, would have visited Agra Fort and Taj Mahal and been on their merry way back to their hotel, had it not been for a guide who directed them to what the locals call ‘Baby Taj Mahal’ — the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah.

The tomb is the marble precursor to its more famous sibling across the Yamuna, and its English-style gardens and charming ivory-tinted facade are a lovely surprise for the rare tourist or history buff who gets here. And now, after four years of dedicated restoration, the monument is slowly finding its rightful place on the tourist circuit, along with the other famous garden here, Mehtab Bagh.

The restoration of the two Mughal gardens was carried out jointly by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the World Monument Fund (WMF) and the Ministry of Culture, under the Mughal Riverfront Gardens of Agra (MRGA) project, and opened up in January this year.

The tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah — loosely translating to ‘pillar of the state’ — was commissioned by Empress Nur Jahan for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg in the early 1620s in the typical Mughal ‘charbagh’ style.

It consists of four equal square-shaped gardens (hence ‘char’ and ‘bagh’) with the mausoleum sitting smack in the middle.

Fruit for monkeys

A typical Mughal garden also meant lush, chaotic gardens, filled with colorful flower beds and trees heavy with fruit for monkeys and birds, says Lakshmi Narayan, ASI’s junior foreman for horticulture at the site.

Imagine a cross between the secret garden of Frances Hodgson Burnett and the exquisite visuals in Lewis Carroll’s literary masterpieces. But that is also an unfortunate comparison because, under the British Raj, the gardens of I’timād-ud-Daulah were transformed to the exact opposite — stately, manicured lawns with not a tree in sight.

The MRGA project aims to correct that. “The idea behind these gardens at Mughal tomb sites was that if the dead were to wake up from their eternal sleep, they would want to stroll in a garden full of flowers and birds, maybe enjoy a fruit,” says Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI-Agra Circle. The British revived what had turned into agricultural land after Nur Jahan’s time, but in doing so they also removed many markers of the Mughals.Trees were removed, walkways were relaid, the ground was leveled.

Very little recorded

Armed with research papers, paintings, and historical records, conservationists took a stab at restoring the gardens to their former glory.

“There is a very little actual record of how the garden looked during its heyday,” says Swarnkar. “But we’ve tried our best with the information we found.”It’s a cloudy, ozone-heavy afternoon when the photographer and I visit. We can hear the cacophony of birds right from the gates. There is a fair number of visitors lining up at the ticket counter, much more than before, says Sonvir, an ASI supervisor.

“On an average, we get about 700 visitors per day,” he says. The walkway from the main gate is lined on both sides with flower beds, while the pathway to the tomb itself, from the inner gate, is lined with cypress trees, in typical Mughal garden style. On either side of the trees are flower beds, hibiscus plants, and pomegranate trees symmetrically planted in order of increasing height. “Beyond that, we’ve planted amla trees, amaltas, mango trees, guava trees, and others like it,” says Narayan.

The tomb’s traditional water system has also been restored. Irrigation systems were modernized in 1958, but they needed more work. “An integrated water management system was designed to address the needs of the project as well as ensure there would be no discharge or waste. Today, clean water is again flowing in the channels and the gardens,” says a statement from WMF.

The project also created an information and ticketing center, an office for ASI, and a toilet for visitors. Just three kilometers away, along with the banks of the Yamuna, lies Mehtab Bagh, the ‘moonlight garden’. This one is quieter, perhaps because of its size.

Even though we’re surrounded by people, we are easily lost within the symmetrically planted trees and pathways. A quick stroll from the entrance and the Taj Mahal is suddenly upon us, breathtaking as always, but even more special when seen from this distance and without the teeming crowds one always experiences.

Mehtab Bagh with the Taj Mahal emerging at the far end.
Mehtab Bagh with the Taj Mahal emerging at the far end. 

Packed with more

The flora at Mehtab Bagh is pretty much the same as that at I’timād-ud-Daulah, only much more. Spread over 22 acres, there are 20 plots packed with flowering shrubs and fruit trees. The trees are laid out with near-military precision, not one of them out of place. Excavations in 1979-80, originally undertaken to confirm whether this was the site of the famed ‘Black Taj Mahal’, revealed a rectangular garden and its foundation walls.

Further excavation in 1993-94 revealed the octagonal pond, the terracotta pipes connecting it, and the 25 fountains around it.“The remnants of the traditional system indicate that water was drawn from the river to a series of wells and carried into the complex via an aqueduct and fed into the pools through a network of underground terracotta pipes,” reads an information slab.

Even though the traditional aqueduct cannot be revived, the idea is to restore the octagonal pool at least so that the reflection of the Taj Mahal can be seen in it. Mehtab Bagh is also in the same ‘charbagh’ layout, but there is one crucial difference, says Swarnkar.

“The Yamuna cuts through the garden, so parts of the charbagh lie on either side of the river,” he says. The garden could be conceived thus because of the unusual layout of the Taj, he says. “Since the Taj is located at the end of the garden, instead of in the middle, the Mughals might have planned a garden across the river.”

At the boundary wall, there’s a mini photoshoot going on. We can’t resist either, what with the Taj in the backdrop. Meanwhile, the Andrews are finished with their tour of the tomb of I’timād-Ud-Daulah and have reached Mehtab Bagh.“I’m glad we came here first instead of heading to the Taj first,” says Christine. Just then it begins to rain and the sky turns a brooding grey. The Taj doesn’t dim one bit though.

Source: cntraveller

Sunken 17th-Century ‘Pirate Ship’ Discovered in Cornwall coast of England

Sunken 17th-Century ‘Pirate Ship’ Discovered in Cornwall coast of England

The two hand grenades.
The two hand grenades.

Hand grenades and cannons from the pirate ship’s wreck were found along the Cornwall coast in the United Kingdom from the 17th century.

Divers spotted artifacts from the wreck of the Schiedam, which sank off the coast in 1684 after some storms disturbed the sand that covered the objects on the seafloor.

According to Live Science, the Schiedam, originally a Dutch merchant ship, was taken by Barbary Pirates as a prize in 1683 and was subsequently seized by the Royal Navy and used for transport.

IFL Science reported, “The last of her days were spent as a transport vessel in the English Royal Navy before sinking to the seabed amid a storm on April 4, 1684, while loaded with ammunition from a failed British colony in North Africa.

It’s believed locals looted most of the wreckage, however, evidently, some of its treasures remain.”

A Sea Fight with Barbary Corsairs by Laureys a Castro, c. 1681.
A Sea Fight with Barbary Corsairs by Laureys a Castro, c. 1681.

The wreck was rediscovered about two years ago.Local historian and author Robert Felce told Fox News that he found one hand grenade in November 2018 at Dollar Cove on Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula.

Felce found a similar grenade at the site in May 2017.“I don’t use a metal detector – I use sight,” he explained. “I have become accustomed to what a lot of these things look like.”

The two 17th century hand grenades each consisted of a hollow iron shell filled with gunpowder.Felce told Live Science that he was a frequent visitor to the beach, which is exposed to strong waves from the Atlantic.

Both objects were heavily encrusted after lying on the seafloor for more than 300 years, and “Felce said he at first thought the latest grenade was an ordinary rock until he slipped and dropped it, and it broke open, revealing the two halves of the metal weapon and the explosive powder inside.”

Although the gunpowder in the grenade was damp and centuries’ old, he reported the find to the local police, who called in bomb-disposal experts from the Army to ensure that it was safe to handle.

The Schiedam was first discovered in 1971 by divers near the coast of Cornwall at a depth of 13 to 22 feet. Previous dives revealed an arsenal of weapons in the wreck, including numerous iron canons and carriage wheels.

A magnetometer survey in 1985 suggests that as many as 15 iron cannons may be buried under the sand.

David Gibbons of Cornwall Maritime Archaeology recently snapped a series of 3D photogrammetry images of the rediscovered wreckage.“The Schiedam is a fascinating wreck because it was carrying goods back in 1684 from the English colony of Tangier [Morocco], which had been abandoned to the Moors,” Gibbons told Cornwall Live.

“It represents a pivotal moment in history because the failure of Tangier led the English to look to Bombay instead.”Gibson continued: “Had the English succeeded in carving out a commercial enclave in North Africa and focusing their interests in the Mediterranean instead of in India, then the world would have been a very different place today.”

When the ship ran aground, there were no fatalities, which was unusual.“Because it was a government-owned ship by this time, they wanted to get as much of the cargo off, because it was ordnance,” Felce said in an interview.

“They had to draw on companies [of soldiers] from [the neighboring county of] Devon. These people salvaged as much as they could.”

3D photogrammetry of timber and stone from the ship’s wreck.
3D photogrammetry of timber and stone from the ship’s wreck.