Category Archives: ASIA

Ancient 70-Mile-Long Wall Found in Western Iran. But Who Built It?

Ancient 70-Mile-Long Wall Found in Western Iran. But Who Built It?

Everyone knows of the Great Wall of China, the series of fortifications constructed across the northern border of China, designed to protect against numerous nomadic forces, which is supposed to appear from the space (fun fact, it’s not). But have you ever heard of the wall of western Iran?

Not likely because it has recently been found by historical experts and archeologists.

Ancient Wall

The wall is located in the district of Sar Pol-e Zahab, in the west of Iran, and stretches for about 71 miles (or 115 kilometers) as far as the legendary Adrian Wall, constructed in England by the Romans.

This satellite image was taken on July 31, 2019, by the WorldView-2 satellite. The red arrows show a surviving section of the Gawri Wall.

The walls stretch from the Bamu Mountains north to an area close to the village of Zhaw Marg, south, as per the release says.

“With an estimated volume of approximately one million cubic meters [35,314,667 cubic feet] of stone, it would have required significant resources in terms of workforce, materials and time,”

Sajjad Alibaigi, a doctoral student in the department of archaeology at the University of Tehran, wrote.

According to the paper, the wall would have been built somewhere between the 4th century B.C. and 6th century A.D., as evidenced by some ancient pottery that has been found along the wall.

“Remnants of structures, now destroyed, are visible in places along the wall.

These may have been associated turrets [small towers] or buildings,” Alibaigi added, noting the wall itself is built from natural local materials, such as cobbles and boulders, with gypsum mortar surviving in places.

However, while the wall itself has just been recently identified, locals living around the area are aware of its presence, calling it the “Gawri Wall.”

Unfortunately, because it hasn’t been preserved properly, archaeologists aren’t sure how tall or wide it actually is, with the best guess sitting at 13 feet wide and around 10 feet tall. Why it was built, or who built it, is unknown as well.

However, since the Gawri wall isn’t the only ancient wall discovered in Iran, then it’s theorized that it may have been made for defensive purposes since similar structures have been located in the north and eastern parts of the country.

Divers found a perfectly preserved ancient Chinese underwater city

Divers found a perfectly preserved ancient Chinese underwater city

A maze of white temples, memorial arches, paved roads, and houses… hidden 130 feet underwater: this is China’s real-life Atlantis.

Incredible images show an incredible sunken city hidden in the depths of Qiandao Lake in China. Divers discovered a jaw-dropping labyrinth of adorned temples, memorial arches and dragon carvings, deep in the tranquil waters.

The ancient city, which is hidden 130 feet underwater, was once Shi Cheng – the centre of politics and economics in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

But despite it’s beauty, the city was deliberately flooded by the Chinese government in 1959 to make way for a new hydroelectric power station.

The historical metropolis, built over 1,300 years ago, was slowly filled with water until it was completely submerged by the turquoise-blue mass now referred to as Qiandao Lake.

Qiandao Lake, China. The city was submerged when the valley was flooded to build the Xin’anjiang Reservoir and Xin’an River hydroelectric station in 1959.

The city, which is now dubbed “Lion City” because it is tucked between the Five Lion Mountains, then lay forgotten for 53 years in the man-made lake.

The 1,300-year-old city is in near-perfect condition 

But since being rediscovered in almost perfect condition, it has resurfaced as an underwater adventure park for tourists. Depending on where on the lake bottom it is, the city is between 85 and 131 feet underwater.

Qiu Feng, a local official in charge of tourism, introduced the idea of using Shi Cheng as a destination for diving clubs.

The first voyage was one of discovery, and Qui said: “We were lucky. As soon as we dived into the lake, we found the outside wall of the town and even picked up a brick to prove it.”

It was later discovered that the entire town was intact, including wooden beams and stairs. Now the city has attracted interest from archaeologists and a film crew has been on site to record the preservation of the lost ruins.

Visibility can be quite low due to the unusual conditions

April-October is the recommended months to visit, as there is warmer weather at the lake and hopefully warmer water below the thermocline.

The colder air temperatures in Nov-March can make it uncomfortable for divers to do three dives in a day, particularly those diving in wetsuits. Depending on the time of year, the water temperature can range from 7-16c.

The Dives

Although it is breathtaking, it’s important to remember the differences between the conditions encountered here vs. clear ocean water. All divers are required to do an initial 25ft dive in the lagoon, to ensure they are safe to continue.

Visibility at the surface is about 5ft at best, dropping down to a mere 6 inches in some places at the bottom of the lagoon. But this isn’t the only bizarre sunken city which has been uncovered after years of neglect.

Mysterious 1,500-Year-Old Stone Complex Unearthed in Kazakhstan

Mysterious 1,500-Year-Old Stone Complex Unearthed in Kazakhstan

Near the eastern shore of Kazakhstan’s the Caspian Sea was discovered a huge, 1500-year-old stone complex constructed by nomadic tribes.

The site comprises various stone structures scattered over around 120 hectares of land or more than 200 American football fields, archaeologists reported recently in the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia.

The archaeologists Andrei Astafiev from the State Mangisto Historical and Cultural Reserves (MANCH) and Evgeniy Bogdanov, from the Russian Academy of Sciences Siberians Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, wrote in an article on the journal, “when the area was examined in detail, several types of stone structures were identified.” The smallest stone structures are only 13 feet by 13 feet (4 by 4 meters), and the biggest is 112 feet by 79 feet (34 by 24 m).

A stone structure and a carved stone that shows an animal.

The structures have been “built from vertically mounted stone blocks,” the archeologists have written. Some of the stones which look like Stonehenge, have carvings of weapons and creatures etched into them.

One of the most spectacular finds is the remains of a saddle made partly of silver and covered with images of wild boars, deer and “beasts of prey” that maybe lions, Astafiev and Bogdanov wrote in their article. The images were etched in relief, sticking out from the silver background.

“The relief decoration was impressed on the front surface,” Astafiev and Bogdanov wrote. The two researchers think ancient artisans designed the images out of leather and glued them onto wooden boards. “Finally, silver plates would have been laid over the shapes and fixed in place,” they said.

Stone-complex discovery

In 2010, a man named F. Akhmadulin (as named in the journal article), from a town called Aktau, was using a metal detector in Altÿnkazgan, which is located on the Mangÿshlak Peninsula, near the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea, when he found parts of a silver saddle and other artifacts. Akhmadulin brought the artifacts to Astafiev who works in Aktau.

“Most of the territory consists of sagebrush desert,” Astafiev and Bogdanov wrote. However, Astafiev found that the desert location where Akhmadulin brought him contained the remains of an undiscovered 120-hectare stone complex. Akhmadulin located the artifacts in one of these stone structures.

“Unfortunately, the socio-economic situation in the region is not one in which it is easy to engage in archaeological research, and it was not until 2014 that the authors of this article were able to excavate certain features within the site,” Astafiev and Bogdanov wrote.

When excavations got underway in 2014, the archaeologists excavated the stone structure where Akhmadulin had found the saddle. They found more saddle parts, along with other artifacts, including two bronze objects that turned out to be the remains of a whip.

Who owned the saddle?

A great deal of work needs to be done to excavate and study the remains of the stone complex, the archaeologists said. “Certain features of the construction and formal details of the [stone] enclosures at Altÿnkazgan allow us to assume that they had been left there by nomad tribes,” Astafiev and Bogdanov wrote.

The design and decorations on the silver saddle indicate that it dates to a time when the Roman Empire was collapsing, and a group called the “Huns” were on the move across Asia and Europe, they said.

“The advance of the Huns led various ethnic groups in the Eurasian steppes to move from their previous homelands,” Astafiev and Bogdanov wrote.

The owner of the saddle was likely a person of considerable wealth and power as the archaeologists found symbols called “tamgas” engraved on the silver saddle above the heads of predators, something that can be “an indication of the privileged status of the saddle’s owner.” These signs may also be a link “to the clan to which the owner of the tamga belonged,” Astafiev and Bogdanov wrote.

The saddle’s silver facing. 
Silver facing from the rear end of a saddle flap found at the site. The image shows a beast attacking another creature while a bird attacks the animal’s nose. More birds are depicted around the edge of the saddle flap.

It’s not exactly clear why the silver saddle was placed in the stone structure, though it may have been created for a ritual purpose or as a burial good, Astafiev and Bogdanov suggested.

They found the remains of one skeleton buried beneath the stone structure; however, the skeleton may date to centuries after the silver saddle was deposited there.  

Research is ongoing, and Bogdanov said the team plans to publish another paper on research into the silver saddle.

Some of the geoglyphs found in northern Kazakhstan.

Bogdanov said the team hopes to make the public aware of the newly found site. “I hope that one day there [will be] a film about the archaeological excavations on the Mangÿshlak, about ancient civilizations and modern inhabitants.

10 tons of copper coins unearthed in 2,000 years old ancient tomb

10 tons of copper coins unearthed in 2,000 years old ancient tomb

Archaeologists have unearthed more than two million copper coins from an ancient complex of tombs in the Xinjian District of China.

The 2,000-year-old money, which bears Chinese symbols, characters, and a square hole in the centre, was found at a dig site in the city of Nanchang.

The value of the coins is said to be around £104,000 ($157,340) and experts believe the main tomb is that of Liu He – the grandson of Emperor Wu, the greatest ruler of Han Dynasty.

Archaeologists have unearthed more than two million copper coins from an ancient complex of tombs in the Xinjian District of China
Archaeologists have unearthed more than two million copper coins from an ancient complex of tombs in the Xinjian District of China

The dynasty ruled between 206 BC and 25 AD.

Experts hope the discovery – which also includes 10,000 other gold, bronze and iron items, chimes, bamboo slips, and tomb figurines – may now shed more light on the life of nobility from ancient times.

The find follows a five-year excavation process on the site which houses eight tombs and a chariot burial site.

It covers (430,550 sq ft (40,000 square metres) with walls that stretch for almost 9,690 ft (900 metres) and experts believe Liu’s wife is buried in one of the tombs, RT reported.   

Xin Lixiang of the China National Museum said the next step is to look within the tomb for items that will give a clearer idea of the occupant. 

‘There may be a royal seal and jade clothes that will suggest the status and identity of the tomb’s occupant,’ he said.  

Chinese people started using coins as currency around 1,200 BC, where instead of trading small farming implements and knives, they would melt them down into small round objects and then turn them back into knives and farm implements when needed.

It meant early coins were known as ‘knife money’ or ‘tool money’, and as people began to rely on them more for commerce they were replaced by copper coins which were of very low value and often had holes in the middle.

The hole meant the coins could be strung together to create larger denominations, with typically around 1,000 coins on a single string being worth one tael of pure silver. 

The 2,000-year-old money, which bears Chinese symbols, characters, and a square hole in the centre, was found at a dig site in the city of Nanchang
The ancient money, which bears Chinese symbols, characters, and a square hole at its centre, was found at a dig site in the Xinjian District in the city of Nanchang, capital of East China’s Jiangxi Province
The hole meant the coins could be strung together to create larger denominations, with typically around 1,000 coins on a single string which was worth one tael of pure silver

At face value, they would be valued at around £104,060 ($157,340), but because of their age and history are believed to be worth far more.

A single coin can, in fact, sell for thousands of pounds, although at the time copper coins had a very low value. The Western Han was regarded as the first unified and powerful empire in Chinese history.

While there are many theories behind the fall of the Western Han Dynasty, recent research suggests human interaction with the environment played a central role in its demise.

A census taken by China in 2 AD suggests the area struck by the massive 14-17 AD flood was very heavily populated, with an average of 122 people per square kilometre, or approximately 9.5 million people living directly in the flood’s path. 

By AD 20-21, the devastated region had become the centre of a rebellion that would end the Western Han Dynasty’s five-century reign of power. 

Along with the tonnes of coins found were also chimes, bamboo slips, and tomb figurines, all of which accompanied deceased nobles of the past when they were buried underground.

The items discovered have promised to help fill in more gaps as historians try to complete the puzzle of ancient Chinese burial customs.

1,400-year-old Byzantine Hammer and Nails Discovered in Ancient Jewish Village of Usha

1,400-year-old Byzantine Hammer and Nails Discovered in Ancient Jewish Village of Usha

During a Sukkot holiday, some 8,500 individuals were participating in the IAA archeological excavations and activities, but none of them anticipated to discover the most closely associated with building the Sukkah – the hammer and the nails – from the Byzantine period, about 1400 years ago.

Aerial view of the winepresses and the adjacent ritual bath at Ancient Usha

This was the luck of a Tur’an family who participated in a Usha dig in the lower Galilee.

“About 20 iron hammers are recorded with the records of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, of which only six are from the Byzantine period,” according to Yair Amitzur and Eyad Bisharat, the directors of the excavation for IAA.

“It is already known that Usha settlers produced large quantities of glass vessels, as we find several wine glasses and glass lamps together with raw material glass lumps, and the discovery of the hammer, nails, and the adjacent iron slag tells us that they also made iron tools on the site.”

Some of the 15,000 pupils who participated in the archaeological excavations at Usha over the past year

Alongside these industries, complex pressing installations for the production of olive oil and wine indicate that the primary occupation and source of income of the Usha inhabitants was the large-scale processing of the agricultural produce of the olive trees and the vines that they cultivated on the surrounding gentle hillslopes.

Adjacent to the oil and winepresses were exposed two rock-hewn ritual baths with plastered walls and steps, dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods, about 1800 years ago.

The discovery of the ritual baths indicates that the Jewish press workers took care to purify themselves in the ritual baths in order to manufacture ritually-pure oil and wine.

The 1,400-year-old iron hammer and nails that were found at Usha

The main ‘workforce’ excavating the site are school children, youth and volunteers, who participate in the excavations thanks to the Israel IAA’s policy of bringing the community closer to its own cultural heritage.

Over the past year, more than 15,000 youth and families have taken part in the educational venture at Usha, digging and exposing the fascinating past of the site.

Amitzur also said that the town of Usha had been mentioned in Jewish sources since the first century CE.

“The settlement of Usha is mentioned in the Jewish sources many times in the Roman and Byzantine periods, as the village where the institution of the Sanhedrin was renewed, after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and after the failure of the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135 CE”.

“The Sanhedrin was the central Jewish Council and Law Court, and it was headed by the President, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel the Second, who both presided in Usha, and then his son Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi”.

“Here in Usha, the Rabbis of the Sanhedrin made decrees to enable the Jewish people to recover after the war against the Romans, and to reconstruct Jewish life in the Galilee”.

Ancient wine glasses found at Usha

“The Jewish sources mention that Rabbi Yitzhak Nafha was an inhabitant of Usha, and his name ‘Nafha’, meaning ‘the blower’ indicates that he probably worked as a glass manufacturer”.

“The many delicate wine glasses, glass lamps, and glass lumps indicate that Usha inhabitants were proficient in the art of glassblowing. The ritual baths adjacent to the presses indicate that the Sanhedrin Sages paid particular attention to issues of ritual purity”.

The excavations at Usha are part of the Sanhedrin Trail Project that was initiated by the IAA, crossing the Galilee from Bet Shearim to Tiberias, following the movement of the Sanhedrin sages who finally convened in Tiberias.

The excavation is underway, continuing throughout the year with the participation of thousands of school children, youth and volunteers.

Also planned are special activity days open to the general public.