7 Amazing Archaeology Discoveries Reveal Humanity’s Lost Origins!
Written by Rev. Dennis Shipman
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The following statement is the current thinking or philosophy that we have been taught about recorded history:
"The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, beginning with Sumerian Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC (3,000 BC)." - Source: Ancient History – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Whether you want to define "history" as starting with written records or by the emergence of "civilization" as seen in recent archaeology discoveries and human skeletal discoveries, the 5,000 year figure is facing very strong challenges that stretch its assumptions and believable boundaries. Here are a few challengers that could change everything.
1. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey
Göbekli Tepe is located atop a mountain ridge in Southeastern Anatolia region of modern-day Turkey, about 12 km (7 miles) northeast of the city of Sanliurfa, and about 760 m (2,490 ft) above sea level. It was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. Schmidt believed that the site is an early neolithic sanctuary used as a holy site and not used as a settlement.
Göbekli Tepe has a height of 15 m (49 ft) and is about 300 m (980 fot) in diameter. More than 200 T-shaped stone pillars were erected in about 20 circles that are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and a weight up to 20 tons.
Radiocarbon dating as well as comparative, stylistical analysis indicate the massive stones are up to 11,000 years old, and the site predates Stonehenge (UK) by 6,000 years. If Schmidt’s assumption is correct – that the site is an early neolithic santuary – then Göbekli Tepe is the oldest religious site yet discovered anywhere on Earth.
However, details of the struture’s function remain a mystery. All statements about the site must be considered preliminary, as less than 5 percent of the site has been excavated, and Schmidt planned to leave much of it untouched to be explored by future generations (when archaeological techniques will presumably have improved).
At present Göbekli Tepe raises more questions for archaeology and prehistory than it answers. It remains unknown how a force large enough to construct, augment, and maintain such a substantial complex was mobilized and compensated or fed in the conditions of allegedly pre-sedentary society that had not yet developed metal tools or pottery.
Scholars cannot interpret the pictograms, and do not know for certain what meaning the animal reliefs had for visitors to the site; the variety of fauna depicted, from lions and boars to birds and insects, makes any single explanation problematic. There is little or no evidence of habitation, and the animals pictured are mainly predators.
Butchered bones found in large numbers from local game such as deer, gazelle, pigs, and geese have been identified as refuse from food hunted and cooked or otherwise prepared for the visitors.
Human burial may or may not have occurred at the site. Though no tombs or graves have been found so far, Schmidt believed that they remain to be discovered in niches located behind the sacred circles' walls.
Schmidt engaged in some speculation regarding the belief systems of the groups that created Göbekli Tepe, based on comparisons with other shrines and settlements. He assumed shamanic practices and suggested that the T-shaped pillars represent human forms, perhaps ancestors.
Until more evidence is gathered, it is difficult to deduce anything certain about the originating culture or the site's significance. Source: Wikipedia
2. Lascaux Cave, France
Lascaux Cave is a network of caves near the village of Montignac in southwestern France. The cave is renowned for containing over 600 excellently detailed paintings that decorate the interior walls and ceilings of the cave in impressive compositions.
Among some of the best-known Upper Paleolithic (50,000 to 10,000 years ago) works of art depicted are primarily large animals, and typical local and contemporary fauna that corresponds with the fossil record. The paintings are the combined effort of many generations. The age of the art (still debated) is estimated around 17,000 years BP (before present). Lascaux was inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1979.
Luscaux Cave was discovered on September 12, 1940, by 18 year old Marcel Ravidat (died in 1995). He returned to the scene with three friends, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas, and entered the cave via a long shaft. The teenagers discovered that the cave walls were covered with depictions of animals. The cave was open to the public in 1948.
By 1955, carbon dioxide, heat, humidity, and other contaminants produced by 1,200 visitors per day had visibly damaged the paintings. Air condition deteriorated fungi and lichen increasingly infested the walls. Consequently, the cave was closed to the public in 1963. The paintings were restored to their original state, and a monitoring system on a daily basis was introduced.
Galleries that suggest continuity, context or simply represent a cavern were given names. Those include the Hall of the Bulls, the Passageway, the Shaft, the Nave, the Apse, and the Chamber of Felines. Lascaux II, an exact copy of the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery opened in 1983 in the cave's vicinity – a compromise and attempt to present an impression of the painting's scale and composition for the public without harming the originals. A full range of Lascaux's art is presented at the Centre of Prehistoric Art at Le Parc du Thot.
In January 2008, authorities closed the cave for three months even to scientists and preservationists due to the discovery of black mold. A single individual was allowed to enter the cave for 20 minutes once a week to monitor climatic conditions. Now, only a few scientific experts are allowed to work inside the cave and just for a few days a month, but the efforts to remove the mold have taken a toll, leaving dark patches and damaging the pigments on the walls. In 2009, it was announced the mold problem was stable. In 2011, the fungus seemed to be in retreat after the installment of an additional, even stricter conservation program.
The cave contains nearly 2,000 figures, which can be grouped into three main categories: animals, human figures, and abstract signs. The paintings contain no images of the surrounding landscape or the vegetation of the time. Most of the major images have been painted onto the walls using red, yellow, and black colours from a complex multiplicity of mineral pigments including iron compounds such as ochre, haematite, and goethite, as well as manganese-containing pigments. Charcoal may also have been used, but seemingly to a sparing extent.
Over 900 can be identified as animals, and 605 of these have been precisely identified. Out of these images, there are 364 paintings of horses or horse family as well as 90 paintings of stags (male deer). Also represented are cattle and bison, each representing 4% to 5% of the images. A smattering of other images include seven felines, a bird, a bear, a rhinoceros, and a human. There are no images of reindeer, even though that was the principal source of food for the artists. Geometric images have also been found on the walls.
The most famous section of the cave is The Hall of the Bulls where bulls, horses, and stags are depicted. The four black bulls are the dominant figures among the 36 animals represented here. One of the bulls is 5.2 metres (17 ft) long, the largest animal discovered so far in the cave. Moreover, the bulls appear to be in motion.
A painting referred to as “The Crossed Bison,” found in the chamber called the Nave, is often submitted as an example of the skill of the Paleolithic cave artists. The crossed hind legs create the illusion that one bison is closer to the viewer than the other. This visual depth in the scene demonstrates a primitive form of perspective which is considered particularly advanced for the time period. Source: Wikipedia
3. Aboriginal Rock Art, Australia
The Burrup Peninsula, located in Murujuga National Park in Western Australia, is a small landmass with a large range of habitats, a diverse array of wildflowers and wildlife, and an ancient outdoor art gallery. It is located about 5 km north-east of the town of Dampier.
The Burrup Peninsula contains one of the most prolific indigenous, prehistoric art sites in the world. The Yaburarra people, who once inhabited the peninsula and the adjacent islands of the Dampier Archipelago, left a rich cultural heritage. The peninsula is a unique ecological and archaeological area since it contains the world's largest and most important collection of petroglyphs – ancient Aboriginal rock carvings.
The collection of standing stones is the largest in Australia with rock art petroglyphs numbering over one million images. The petroglyphs include depictions of human-like figures, human faces and animals that no longer inhabit the region, including the now extinct Tasmanian tiger.
The question is: how old is the rock art? Nobody seems to know. Some researchers claim the art dates back to the end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago. Others say the rock art is vastly older. It is believed that Aboriginal occupation of the peninsula dates back more than 40,000 years ago. It opens up the possibility that some of the rock art could be tens of thousands of years old.
A study published in April 2013 in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews estiamtes that the deepest engravings could theoretically survive on these rock surfaces for up to 60,000 years, although the researchers do not claim the rock art is this old.
The study, led by Professor Brad Pillans, a geologist at the Australian National University, and his co-author Professor L. Keith Fifield, came to that conclusion by measuring levels of Berylllium 10 – a radioactive isotope that accumulates in the surfaces of rocks because of radiation from space and indicates how long they have been exposed to the elements.
Though archaeologists haven't been able to date the engravings directly, they have estimated some of them to be up to 30,000 years old based on the style of the art and weathering patterns. Source: Wikipedia
4. Cave of the Castle, Spain
The Cueva de El Castillo (Cave of the Castle) is an archaeological site within the network of the Caves of Monte Castillo, and is located in Puente Viesgo, in the province of Cantabria, Spain. It contains the oldest known cave art in Europe. Some researchers argue this might even be the oldest known example of artwork in the world and likely to be a product of Homo neanderthalensis (became extinct about 40,000 years ago).
The Cave of the Castle (Cueva del Castillo) was discovered in 1903 by Spanish archaeologist Hermilio Alcalde del Rio, who was one of the pioneers in the study of the earliest cave paintings of Cantabria. He found an extensive sequence of images in charcoal and red ochre on the walls and ceilings of multiple caverns.
Over 150 images have already been cataloged. The 300-metre long cave contains figurative art and includes a number of outstanding drawings of horses, bison, deer and mammoths as well as some rare images of dogs. About 40 red ochre hand stencils and dozens of large red discs are estimated to belong to the early period of Aurignacian art (circa. 40,000-30,000 BC) – making them older than those of the Chauvet Cave in central France, which are dated to around 39,000 years BP (before present). Most of the hand stencils are grouped on a panel in a narrow gallery known as the Gallery of the Hands.
As traditional methods such as radiocarbon dating do not work where there is no organic pigment, a team of British, Spanish and Portuguese researchers led by Dr. Alistair Pike of the University of Bristol dated the formation of tiny stalactites on top of the paintings using the Uranium-thorium dating technique, thus obtaining a minimum age for the art. Where larger stalagmites had been painted, maximum ages were also obtained.
The archaeological site has been divided into around 19 layers of strata (geological material), slightly deviating from each other depending on the source. However, the overall sequence is consistent, beginning in the early Aurignacian (circa. 40,000 – 30,000 years BP), and ending in the Bronze Age (beginning 3000 BC in Mediteranian Europe).
The paintings and numerous markings and graffiti span a wide range of chronological time from the Lower Paleolithic (about 2.5 million to 200,000 years ago) to the Bronze Age and even into the Middle Ages (circa. 1100 to 1453 AD). Source: Wikipedia
5. Omo Fossil Remains, Ethiopia
The Omo fossil remains are a collection of hominin bones (direct ancestor to humans) discovered between 1967 and 1974 at the Omo Kibish sites near the Omo River, in Omo National Park in south-western Ethiopia. The bones were discovered by a scientific team from the Kenya National Museums directed by Richard Leakey and others. Two fossil sites were identified. The fossil remains from Kamoya's Hominid Site (KHS) were called Omo I and those from Paul Abell's Hominid Site (PHS) Omo II.
The fossil bones include two partial skulls, four jaws, a legbone, around two hundred teeth and several other parts. Because of the very limited fauna and the few stone tools and artifacts that were found at the sites, the estimated age of the Omo fossil hominids are uncertain.
In 1997, the geological layers around the fossils were dated. Using argon-dating, the age of the Kibish hominids were estimated at around 195,000 years old (give or take 5,000 years). Numerous recent lithic records verify the tool technology from the Middle Stone Age (280,000 to 50,000–25,000 years ago).
The Omo fossil remains pre-dates the number of hominid bone fossils found in 1997 in Herto Bouri, Ethiopia by about 30,000 to 35,000 years. Designated “Herto Man,” and using radioisotope dating, the geological layers surrounding the fossils are between 154,000 and 160,000 years old. Source: Wikipedia
6. Human Jawbone, Ethiopia
A graduate student from Arizona State University (USA) discovered a human jawbone in Ethiopia in 2013 that scientists are dating back to 2.8 million years ago.
The jawbone was discovered by Chalachew Seyoum, a Ethiopian grad student. He climbed up a little plateau and found the specimen on the edge of the hill in plain sight. The fossil findings have been published in a study by ASU's Institute of Human Origin.
Seyoum found the jawbone in the Ledi-Geraru area of the Afar region, which is near the site where Lucy's skeleton was found, the famous 3.2 million-year-old fossil of the species Australopithecus afarensis found in 1974.
The jawbone, which has five teeth, has features seen in Australopithecus afarensis and features seen in later specimens of the Homo genus, according to the team behind the study.
Experts in human origins now believe that the Homo genus could have evolved nearly half-a-million years earlier than previously thought. The new fossil would provide researchers new evidence to bridge the gap between fossils and better map out the human genus evolution.
"The importance of the specimen is that it adds a data point to a period of time in our ancestry in which we have very little information," said William H. Kimbel, director of Arizona State University's Institute of Human Origins, in a press release.
The ASU team was also able to establish that the owner of the jawbone walked on two legs and lived in a dry, arid climate. Researchers are still trying to establish what it ate and whether it used stone tools. Source: New York Daily News, March 8, 2015
7. Lucy’s Skeleton, Ethiopia
Lucy is the common name for several hundred pieces of bone fossils representing 40 percent of the skeleton of a female of the hominin species “Australopithecus afarenis.” Lucy was discovered in 1974 in Africa, near the village Hadar in the Awash Valley of the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia, by paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
"Lucy" acquired her name from the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by the Beatles, which was played loudly and repeatedly in the expedition camp all evening after the excavation team's first day of work on the recovery site. After public announcement of the discovery, Lucy captured much public interest, went on a world tour and became a household name.
The Lucy specimen has been dated to about 3.2 million years ago. The skeleton presents a small skull akin to that of non-hominin apes, plus evidence of a walking-gait that was bipedal and upright, akin to that of humans (and other hominins). This combination supports the view of human evolution that bipedalism preceded increase in brain size. A 2016 study proposes that “Australopithecus afarensis” was also to a large extent tree-dwelling, though the extent of this is debated.
Lucy became famous worldwide, and the story of her discovery and reconstruction was published in a book by Johanson. Beginning in 2007, the fossil assembly and associated artifacts were exhibited publicly in an extended six-year tour of the United States. The exhibition was called “Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia.” There was discussion of the risks of damage to the fossils, and other museums preferred to display casts of the fossil assembly. The original fossils were returned to Ethiopia in 2013, and subsequent exhibitions have used casts.
On the morning of 24 November 1974, near the Awash River, Johanson joined graduate student Tom Gray to search Locality 162 for bone fossils. By Johanson's later (published) accounts, both he and Tom Gray spent two hours on the increasingly hot and arid plain, surveying the dusty terrain. On a hunch, Johanson decided to look at the bottom of a small gully that had been checked at least twice before by other workers.
At first view nothing was immediately visible, but as they turned to leave a fossil caught Johanson's eye – an arm bone fragment was lying on the slope. Near it lay a fragment from the back of a small skull. They noticed part of a thigh bone about one meter away. As they explored further, they found more and more bones on the slope, including vertebrae, part of a pelvis, ribs, and pieces of jaw. They marked the spot and returned to camp, excited at finding so many pieces apparently from one individual hominin.
Over the next three weeks, the team found several hundred pieces or fragments of bone with no duplication, confirming their original speculation that the pieces were from a single individual. It was determined that an amazing 40 percent of a hominin skeleton was recovered at the site. Johanson assessed that the skeleton was female, based on the one complete pelvic bone and sacrum, which indicated the width of the pelvic opening.
Lucy was 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) tall, weighed 29 kg (64 lbs), and (after reconstruction) looked somewhat like a chimpanzee. The creature had a small brain like a chimpanzee, but the pelvis and leg bones were almost identical in function to those of modern humans, shwoing with certainty that Lucy’s species were hominins that had stood upright and had walked erect.
Lucy's cause of death cannot be determined. The specimen does not show the signs of post-mortem bone damage characteristic of animals killed by predators and then scavenged. The only visible damage is a single carnivore tooth mark on the top of her left pubic bone, believed to have occurred at or around the time of death, but which is not necessarily related to her death. Her third molars were completely formed and slightly worn and therefore, it was concluded that she was fully matured with completed skeletal development. There are indications of degenerative disease to her vertebrae that do not necessarily indicate old age. Some believe Lucy died from falling off a tree. It is believed that she was a mature but young adult when she died, about 12 years old.
Fieldwork at Hadar was suspended in the winter of 1976–77. When it was resumed thirteen years later in 1990, the more precise argon-argon technology had been updated by Derek York at the University of Toronto. By 1992, Aronson and Robert Walter had found two suitable samples of volcanic ash – the older layer of ash was about 18 meters below the fossil and the younger layer was only one meter below, closely marking the age of deposition of the specimen. These samples were argon-argon dated by Walter in the geochronology laboratory of the Institute of Human Origins, and Lucy’s age was estimated at 3.22 million years to 3.18 million years. Source: Wikipedia
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