July 3, 2013

Secrets of Ancient Graves

Scientists discover the oldest grave flowers from 14,000 years ago - when the dead were buried with mint and sage

Humans have been decorating graves with flowers for almost 14,000 years, say archeologists.

The first evidence the tradition of floral tributes has been dug up in Israel where sage, mint and other plants were used in ceremonial burials.
In modern times the tradition is used as a sign of respect or remembrance, but it is believed to have started thousands of years ago to disguise the stench of the rotting corpse.  It was also hoped the scent of the plants would stop animals being attracted to the grave to dig up the body.

 Sage Mint

The ancient Romans often laid out the ground of the tomb as a garden so the spirit could enjoy itself as it wandered.
The latest discovery was unearthed at the bottom of 13,700 to 11,700 year-old graves at a scenic prehistoric burial spot known as Raqefet Cave overlooking the Mediterranean coast.

First unlooted Wari royal tomb found in Peru

A team of Polish and Peruvian archaeologists have discovered a 1,200-year-old royal mausoleum from Peru’s Wari civilization which has never been looted.
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The team found row after row of bodies wrapped in decaying traditional textiles made from llama wool and posed in a seated position. In three small adjacent chambers they discovered the human remains of three Wari queens buried with their valuables. When Giersz from the University of Warsaw saw the glint of gold in the tomb, he realized they would have to keep the discovery secret for the duration of the excavation or the place would be picked clean by human vultures.

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Images of winged, supernatural beings adorn a pair of heavy gold-and-silver ear ornaments that a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave in the newly discovered mausoleum at El Castillo de Huarmey in Peru.  National Geographic: Peru's Rare, Unlooted Royal Tomb

Somehow they managed to keep the news from leaking for months as they unearthed more than a thousand artifacts. They found silver and gold jewelry, semi-precious stone beads, bronze ritual axes, silver bowls, knives, richly decorated ceramics, an alabaster drinking cup which is the only one of its kind ever found at an ancient Andean site, carved wooden artifacts that survived in exceptional condition and my personal favorite, gold weaving tools kept in a cane box. Royal women couldn’t be expected to weave cloth with just regular tools, now could they? No, they wove with gold tools.
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The Wari civilization flourished in much of today’s Peru between 600 and 1100 A.D. Their territory covered almost the entire length of modern Peru and reached more than halfway inland. Their capital city Huari had a population of 40,000 at a time when Paris had a population of 25,000.

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Posted by Jill Fallon at July 3, 2013 6:19 AM | Permalink