Category Archives: ASIA

Incredible 1,500-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread is uncovered at a church near the Sea of Galilee

Incredible 1,500-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread is uncovered at a church near the Sea of Galilee

In the ancient city of Hippos, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, an image of Jesus ‘ miracle might have been discovered. There stand the ruins of an old church that was burned down long ago. 

Completed either in the later part of the 5th century or early in the 6th century, the building was probably burnt up in the 7th century, as Fox News states when the city was invaded by the Sassanian Empire.

The longer men have lived in an area, the more common it is to find the remnants older civilizations and times, and Israel has been populated for millennia. 

What makes this particular church interesting, however, is what archaeologists recently found under the rubble and ash.

The church’s floor boasts a colorful mosaic containing inscriptions and images of baskets containing loaves and fishes, which experts believe may depict Jesus’s miracle of the ‘feeding of the 5,000’.

Site of Hippos in Israel.
Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647)—The Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes—c.1620

A spokesperson for the University of Haifa, who has been involved in the excavation, remarked in a statement that when the roof of the church was burning, inches of ash fell to the floor, covering and preserving the mosaic from the elements for the next 1,500 years.

The mosaic depicts baskets of birds, fruit, and fish, and is thought to be referring to the miracle described in the bible, in Matthew 14:13-21, in which Jesus is said to have broken up five loaves and three fishes and used them to feed the multitudes.

A fire destroyed the fifth-century church in 700AD but the mosaic-paved floor has been remarkably preserved throughout the centuries by a layer of ash

Michael Eisenberg, Ph.D., is the head of the Haifa University team doing the excavation and said while there were certainly other possible explanations for the imagery found in the mosaic, it was hard to ignore the close parallels between it and the story in the New Testament. 

He also allowed that there are some differences, as well.  Some of the baskets in the mosaic are holding fruit, for example, and some others hold three fish, rather than two, as is described in the bible.

A 2,000-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand has been unearthed during an excavation of an ancient city near the Sea of Galilee

Eisenberg’s statement also talks about the implications of the find. He notes that, although the bible doesn’t give the exact location for where the event was supposed to have occurred, only calling it ‘a remote place’, it’s generally believed by religious scholars to have happened near the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee, according to Live Science. 

However, that somewhat vague biblical description could also be applied to the area north of Hippos, where the Burnt Church is located, as well.

The church is situated at the western edge of Mount Sussita, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and the Jesus ministry, where most of his miracles are said to have happened.

Eisenberg suggests that the locals would have been familiar with the miracles when they occurred, and would have a much better idea about the locations involved than modern scholars would.

That would suggest that the mosaic was commissioned by someone who wanted to ‘create an affinity’ with a miracle that occurred nearby.

Hippos is located on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, so if Eisenberg’s suppositions are true, then religious scholars may have been completely wrong about where the event is supposed to have happened.

He further said that he believes that Jesus performed the miracle on the east side of the Sea, before walking across the water to the northwestern shore, which is the area where the Church of the Multiplication is located. 

That church also has a mosaic whose imagery makes reference to the same miracle, although it shows two fish and only four loaves of bread, not five, meaning that the mosaic in the Burnt Church correlates more closely to the story in the New Testament.

The newly-uncovered mosaic also has some variation from the biblical description, however, so the team’s speculations will have to remain speculations, at least for now. 

All the same, the mosaic may offer scholars new avenues of thought and inquiry as they attempt to piece together the place where faith and history come together.

Scientists discover unique carcass of extinct ‘pygmy’ woolly mammoth on island off Siberian coast

Frozen pygmy woolly mammoth carcass unearthed in Siberia could be proof of a new species of ice age beast

Scientists have discovered relics of Mammuthus exilis, or what they’re calling a “Golden mammoth”, named after the color of its seemingly strawberry blonde colored hair.

The discovery of the carcass proves the existence of a miniature or “dwarf” species of a woolly mammoth — something that’s never been seen by scientists before.

The remains of this “Golden mammoth” was about two meters (or about six and a half feet) in height, which is extremely small when compared to a typical woolly mammoth that was on average three meters (or around ten feet) tall.

The mammoth was found on Kotelny island in the Siberian region of Russia. Scientists have heard reports of smaller mammoths being found in this particular area before, but the discovery of this carcass solidified their existence.

Dr. Albert Protopopov of the Yakutin Academy of Sciences said that scientists “have had reports about small mammoths found in that particular area, both grown-ups and babies. But we had never come across a carcass. This is our first chance to study it.”

Dr. Protopopov working on Kotelny Island.
It has been preserved in permafrost for between 22,000 and 50,000 years. Picture: Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha

Scientists have more to figure out, namely whether the discovery of the animal is a one-off or if mini woolly mammoths were specific to the region where the carcass was found.

The bones of what scientists believe were pygmy-sized woolly mammoths have been discovered in the Arctic region of Russia, but Dr. Protopopov believes that this “Golden mammoth” is an entirely new species of pygmy mammoth.

He believes that this species roamed the earth earlier and was not a rare breed, but an evolutionary adaptation specific to the location where it was found.

Dr. Protopopov was joined by a team of “paleontologists, archeologists, zoologists, botanists, entomologists and permafrost experts” on this expedition to Kotelny Island where the “golden mammoth” was discovered.

He told The Siberian Times, “I believe that this mammoth is related to the period of the heyday of the species, which was supposed to be in the Karginsky interglacial time (between 50,000 and 22,000 years ago).

Our theory is that in this period the mammoths significantly rose in numbers –  and this led to the biggest diversity of their forms. So we want to check this theory.”

Where the new species of the woolly mammoth was discovered makes this find all the more interesting. Koletny island, as well as much of the Russian Arctic region of Siberia, is completely frozen in the winter — including the sea.

An Arctic expedition was undertaken by Russia’s Defence Ministry on Kotelny Island.

The mammoth was found in what Dr. Protopopov describes as “an inaccessible place, and is almost completely buried in the ground in a tidal area,” making this discovery particularly remarkable.

Europe has been experiencing one of the hottest summer’s of record, and the extreme temperatures could have enabled the ice to melt enough to make this discovery possible.

It’s a find that has scientists extremely excited, and it’s quite possible that they have the unusually hot summer season to thank for that.

Excavation of the “Golden Mammoth” has been set to start in the summer of 2019, and it’s likely that scientists will be able to find more animals that have been as well preserved underneath the ice as this latest discovery.

Archaeologists may have discovered the village where Jesus is said to have appeared after he was crucified.

Archaeologists may have discovered the village where Jesus is said to have appeared after he was crucified. 

In accordance with Luke’s Gospel. Following the crucifixion of Jesus, two of his disciples went to Emmaus, and a stranger walked by them on their way to the village, asked them what had just happened in Jerusalem.

The stranger disclosed that he was Jesus in this biblical story only when they reached Emmaus and stopped for supper.

Two archeologists suggest that an archeological site known as the Kiriath-jearim might be the Emmaus in a document released in the sequence “New Studies of Archeology of Jerusalem and its Region.”

The location of Emmaus has long been a topic of debate, with a few different sites proposed in the past. 

While biblical scholars generally agree that Jesus was a real person, they’ve long debated which stories in the Bible actually occurred and which ones did not. The story of Jesus reappearing at Emmaus may have never happened. 

The Shmunis Family Excavations at Kiriath-jearim

Complicated proposal

Several clues point to Kiriath-jearim being Emmaus. For instance, the Gospel of Luke says Emmaus is “60 stadia” from Jerusalem, a distance about equal to the 8 miles (13 kilometers) that separates Kiriath-jearim from the Old City of Jerusalem, wrote Israel Finkelstein, professor emeritus at the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and Thomas Römer, a professor of biblical studies at Collège de France, in the forthcoming article.

Recent excavations at Kiriath-jearim have also uncovered a series of fortifications that were renovated during the first half of the second century B.C., and according to the Book of Maccabees, the Seleucid Empire (an empire ruled by the descendants of one of Alexander the Great’s generals) controlled much of the region, fortifying several sites, including Emmaus. 

Excavations indicate that these fortifications at Kiriath-jearim were renovated about 2,200 years ago, an event that appears to be described in the Book of Maccabees. Emmaus was one of the sites that were mentioned as being fortified at that time.

The researchers can’t be completely certain that Kiriath-jearim is Emmaus and not another site fortified by the Seleucids.

But the fact that the site is located 60 stadia from Jerusalem supports the proposal. Additionally, the other sites mentioned in the Book of Maccabees that the Seleucids fortified don’t appear to match up well with Kiriath-jearim.

Adding more evidence for the proposal, pottery found at Kiriath-jearim suggests that the site was inhabited around the time that Jesus is said to have lived. This means there would have been an active village at the site for Jesus’ disciples to visit and where Jesus could have appeared. 

Problems with identification

There are, however, problems with the idea that Kiriath-jearim is Emmaus, the researchers wrote. For instance, there doesn’t seem to be any linguistic connection between the names Kiriath-jearim and Emmaus, the researchers noted. Also, other sites do have at least tenuous links to Emmaus: A fourth-century historian named Eusebius wrote in his book “Onomasticon” that Nicopolis is Emmaus. 

Other sites also have potential. For instance, Josephus, a historian who lived during the first century, wrote that retired Roman soldiers settled at Emmaus, which he claimed was only 30 stadia from Jerusalem, at a site located near Qaluniya (a village that was not abandoned until 1948). 

Finkelstein and Römer are co-directors of excavations at Kiriath-jearim. After their paper is published, scholars not affiliated with the research project will be able to evaluate the proposal’s evidence. 

Incredible 4,800-year-old fossil of a mother cradling and looking lovingly down at her baby found in Taiwan

Incredible 4,800-year-old fossil of a mother cradling and looking lovingly down at her baby found in Taiwan

The remains of the mother and the child were received with a mixture of awe and celebration, welcomed by the archeologists as the first indication of any human activity found in central Taiwan.

The remains are thought to be more than 4,800 years old and scientists who uncovered the remains were astonished after the discovery of the deposition of bodies.

The mother was found holding the little baby, while the face of the mother was pointing downwards as if looking down at the baby.

The incredible ancient embrace is one of the 48 sets of other remains unearthed from the same grave in central Taiwan. Further remains of another five children were also found in the grave.

After analyzing the remains researchers concluded the mother was just 5 foot 2 inches or 160cm, whereas the baby is only foot and a half or 50cm tall.

Researchers turned to carbon dating to determine the ages of the fossils, which they traced back to the Neolithic Age, a period within the Stone Age.

The remains of other children found lying near the mother and baby are being analyzed in detail and details will be released later.

The discovery came as a surprise for the local researchers; these Stone Age remains are the earliest sign of human activity in this region of Taiwan.

Unearthed in the central Taiwanese region of Taichung, the unbelievable remains depicting an exquisite maternal moment took the internet by storm.

A number of large news outlets picked up on the story, while many history enthusiasts shared the unique and mind-blowing picture on social media platforms.

Another closely related set of remains was discovered by a team of Chinese archaeologists from a site branded the Pompeii of the East, for its resemblance with the actual Pompeii.

Experts recovered the remains of a mother and child interlocked into each other.

However many experts suggest the stone age remains of Taichung are much more significant due to their earlier time, as compared to the Chinese since Taichung is from stone age unlike Pompeii of the east which is from the Bronze age.

Another distinctive aspect is the nature of the mother and baby bodies, the one in Taichung presents a more human side since the mother is apparently looking down at the baby while holding the baby in her arms.

The remains found in China last year were discovered near Qinghai Province in Central China. Experts believe there was a massive earthquake that devastated the region sometime in 2,000 BC.

The mother is thought to have been trying to protect the baby from the falling rocks and debris, however, got buried herself under the rubble along with the infant.

Unlike the mother from the Taichung, the woman in China was looking up while embracing her baby, who experts believe was a boy.

The field of archaeology is considered an expert field and only a handful of the present generation has any interest in recent findings and old discoveries.

However according to some experts every now and then archaeologists stumble upon something that touches the hearts of everyone, regardless of their interests and perceptions.

The very first city ever established in human history recorded

The First City in Recorded History

It is the oldest city in ancient Mesopotamia. It was located in the southern region of Sumeria (now Warka, Iraq) to the northeast of the Euphrates River. Uruk was an ancient city of Sumer and Babylon at one time.

The ruins of what once used to be the great city of Uruk show thousands of clay tablets that indeed it was a religious and scientific center. The oldest texts of the world were written here, according to Archeology Magazine.

A massive ziggurat at the entrance of Uruk.

A series of wedge-shaped symbols pressed into wet clay using reeds was developed around 3200 B.C. The writing system is known as cuniform. By Sumerian scribes in Uruk.

The combination of shapes represented different sounds, so the system could thus be adopted by scribes who spoke different languages. The script was used by multiple cultures for around 3,000 years.

Neo-Assyrian clay tablet. Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet 11.

Uruk is also well known as the city of Gilgamesh. The mythological Sumerian hero-king was made famous in the modern world with the discovery of a collection of stories — known as the “Epic of Gilgamesh” — in 1853. The 12 cuneiform tablets on which the stories were written were discovered by archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam at the site of the Royal Library of Ashurbanipal.

According to Professor John Maier of the State University of New York College at Brockport, “Ancient writings point to the existence of an actual, historical person we now call Gilgamesh. He lived, according to our best estimate, about 2600 B.C.”

It is also believed that Uruk is the biblical city of Erech, the second city of the kingdom of Nimrod in Shinar (Genesis 10:10). Archaeologists distinguish nine different periods in the rise of the city from a simple settlement to the first urban center of the world.

The foundations of the first settlements on the site date somewhere around 5000 B.C., the Eridu period. According to the Sumerian King List (an ancient stone tablet which lists all the kings of Sumer, in Sumerian language), Uruk was founded by King Enmerkar around 4500 B.C. This was during the Ubaid period (5000–4100 B.C.)

Pottery jar from Late Ubaid period.

After 4000 B.C., Uruk rose from small, agricultural villages to a significantly larger and more complex center. This has been attributed partly to a period of climatic change; the area saw less rainfall and so people living in the hills migrated to the river valley of the ancient Euphrates. The course of the Euphrates has since shifted, an important factor in the decline of the city.

Nestled in the lush and fertile river valley, the population of Uruk continued to grow throughout the Early Uruk period (4000–3500 B.C.), Middle Uruk period (3800–3400 B.C.) and Late Uruk period (3500–3100 B.C.). Farming and irrigation techniques were refined, providing a surplus of food for the community.

By around 3200 B.C., the city of Uruk was the largest settlement in southern Mesopotamia, and probably in the world. It was an urban center with a full-time bureaucracy, stratified society, and a formal military. It was also a major hub of trade and administration.

The organization of Uruk in this period set the blueprint for cities ever since. There is evidence of social hierarchies and coercive political structures that would be familiar to most of us today. Clay tablets containing a “standard professions list” have been found, listing around 100 professions. As the city became more affluent, those at the top sought ways to display their wealth and power. Luxury goods were acquired by conquest or trade with lands as far as the Egyptian Nile Delta.

Uruk was a city of extraordinary architecture and works of art. The remains of monumental mud-brick buildings, the walls of which were decorated with mosaics of painted clay cones, pressed into the mud plaster — a technique known as clay cone mosaic — have been excavated. The most impressive creations discovered to date of this Sumerian craft are the two large temple complexes in the heart of Uruk.

Part of a relief from the Inanna Temple.

One was dedicated to Anu, the god of the sky, and the other, known as the Mosaic Temple of Uruk, to Inanna (or Ishtar), the goddess of love, procreation, and war. There was a clear division of the city into the Anu and Eanna Districts.

Another famous piece of artwork, “The Lady of Uruk,” or the Mask of Warka, was discovered in 1939 by the German Archaeological Institute in Uruk. Dating from 3100 B.C., it is most likely that the mask was part of a much larger work from one of the temples and it is considered to represent of Inanna. The marble sculpture is one of the earliest representations of the human face.

The Mask of Warka was stolen during the Battle of Baghdad in April 2003. She was recovered in September 2003 – buried in a farmers field – and returned to the Iraqi National Museum.

To this day, the mask is the most significant artifact found on the site, and it is part of the collection of National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. It is also called “The Sumerian Mona Lisa.” Uruk continued to expand and, as the center of luxurious materials and possessions, it demanded greater protection.

Zodiacal calendar of the cycle of the Virgo Clay tablet Seleucid period, end of 1st millennium BC, copy of an older original Warka, former Uruk, Southern Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Although it was traditionally believed that the great wall of Uruk was built by King Gilgamesh himself, as it is written in the Epic of Gilgamesh, it was possibly created during the reign of King Eannutum who established the first empire in Uruk during the Jemdet Nasr Period (3100-2900 B.C.) By the time the wall was raised, it protected an area of 2.32 square miles and a population of almost 80,000.

During the Early Dynastic period (2900–2350 B.C.), Mesopotamia was governed by city-states whose rulers gradually grew in importance and power. Starting circa 2004 B.C. the struggles between the Sumerians in Babylonia and the Elamites from Elam, the Pre-Iranian civilization rose to serious national conflicts.

Possible representation of Gilgamesh as Master of Animals, grasping a lion in his left arm and snake in his right hand, in an Assyrian palace relief from Dur-Sharrukin, now held in the Louvre.

Uruk was still a prominent center during this time but suffered severely. There are recollections about the conflicts in the Gilgamesh epic. Sometime after 2000 B.C., Uruk lost importance, but it wasn’t abandoned.

The city remained inhabited throughout the Seleucid (312–63 B.C.) and Parthian (227 B.C.–224 A.D.) periods. The last people living there left Uruk after the Islamic contest of Persia in 633–638 A.D. The remains of probably the oldest city in the world laid buried until 1850 when archaeologist William Loftus led the first excavations on the site and identified the city as “Erech, the second city of Nimrod.”