Top Ten Builds by the Ancients that Were Exposed in 2015: Stone Circles, Architecture, Petroglyphs, Fortresses and More
There is no doubt that our ancient ancestors were adept at creating beautiful and masterful structures. The features they managed to construct easily rival some of the most important works built today. Stone circles, architectural structures, petroglyphs, geoglyphs, and fortresses are some of the more elaborate builds that made the news in 2015.
U.S. government archaeologists set a controlled fire in April 2015 to reveal a site in northern Montana that has large Native American stone effigies, cairns, circles, and structures used centuries ago to drive cattle into catchment areas for slaughter. A couple weeks later they sent up an aerial drone to photograph and record data about the ancient site. Officials called the 300-acre site unique. Other Plains Native American sites have separate effigies, cairns, circles or drive lines to direct buffalo, but this is the first to have been found with all of these various structures in one place.
People of the Avonlea culture used the site at least between 770 and 1140 AD, but the exact time frame of the site is not known yet. Researchers intend to do some non-invasive dating methods to more accurately delineate the site’s usage. Since the 1960s the site was known to have a buffalo jump. But vegetation was getting in the way of viewing and studying exactly what was at the site.
In August, a Catholic priest and archaeologists in Israel began excavating an ancient synagogue and a site that may be the homeland of Mary Magdalene. Archaeologists say Jesus could have preached in the temple, as he is said to have spoken at synagogues in the Galilee - and no other synagogue from his lifetime has been found.
Six years ago Juan Solana, a Catholic priest, found the ruins of a 1st century AD synagogue. The synagogue is ornate with frescoes and mosaic floors. It has an altar, called a bimah in Hebrew, in the center. People call this the Magdala stone. There is a rare menorah carved into the stone. Archaeologists say that this is one of the more important discoveries in Israel in 50 years. They have also found a bowl dating back about 2,000 years.
Archaeologists excavating a modern housing estate on the English-Welsh border in Monmouth, UK, discovered an ancient fortress consisting of a wooden island with a fortified farmhouse elevated above the ground on stilts. The structure used to stand above the waters of an ice age lake and may be older than Stonehenge or the Egyptian pyramids. The structure, known as a ‘crannog’, has been dated to 4,900 years ago. The crannog at Monmouth would probably have been occupied by a wealthy family who farmed the fields nearby and gathered fruit, nuts, wild cabbage, and medicinal herbs from local woodlands. They also could probably have hunted wild boar and other animals as well. When attacked, they would have retreated to the fort.
Hundreds of petroglyphs are etched on a slab of crystalline limestone about 180-by-100 feet (a third the size of a football field) in Peterborough, Canada. The site is known to local Natives as the Teaching Rocks. Their legends hold that it is an entrance to the Spirit world. However, there is also a claim of Scandinavians creating the petroglyphs, which has a few prominent supporters. They say that the depictions of animals, solar symbols, geometric shapes, boats, and human figures on the so-called Peterborough Stone reflect a style used in the Old World.
For example, features a large steering oar at the stern, which is only included in ships more than 100 feet (30.5 meters) long. The local Native population is not known to have produced any such vessels. Nonetheless, some argue that the Natives envisioned it as a spirit ship, that it was not meant to depict their own vessels.
Approximately 200 mysterious stone circles dot the landscape in the hot and unforgiving Gobi Desert. These man-made stone formations sitting atop the sand near Turpan City in northwestern China may be up to 4,500 years old.
The stone formations are arranged in various designs of circles and squares, and it is reported that some of the circles are composed of rocks which aren’t native to the area, and may have been brought from far off for this specific purpose. Lyu Enguo, a local archaeologist who has studied the circles says, “Across Central Asia, these circles are normally sacrificial sites.” Excavations into and beneath the formations were conducted in hopes of finding burials, but no evidence of remains or artifacts were ever found.
Excavations carried out at Geval Castle in Central Anatolia, Turkey, revealed a secret tunnel that had been built by the Hittites about 4,000 years ago. Around 150 meters (492 feet) of the tunnel, which had been closed off with a vault, have been investigated so far. The secret tunnel was used all the way through to the Seljuk era (11th – 12th century AD). It establishes a connection with the outside of the castle and “It is closed with a vault and looks like a part of the land. But when you go deeper, you understand that it is a tunnel. The first examples of secret tunnels go back to the Hittites.” Excavations at Geval Castle will resume in May 2016.
In the fifth or sixth century AD, Picts on the eastern Scotland coast set up a fort on a stone outcrop just offshore, possibly to hold sway over the seas. The ancient people had a reputation for ferocity and were one reason the Romans never established a lasting presence in what is now Scotland.
The fort on what is called a “sea stack” may have been one of a series of forts along the coast. This particular fort, near Stonehaven, may have been a precursor to medieval Dunnottar Castle, just a few hundred meters (yards) away, on a headland onshore. The fort was inhabited for extended periods.
Researchers from the University of Yamagata in Japan spotted 24 previously unknown geoglyphs in Peru’s famous Nazca Plateau, adding to the collection of hundreds of symbols and shapes that are carved across the Nazca landscape. It is believed that the newly-discovered geoglyphs are older than the hummingbird and monkey symbols – the most famous of all the Nazca lines.
The geoglyphs are located approximately 1.5km (0.5 miles) north of the town of Nazca, on the southern coast of Peru. Most of them are heavily eroded making their shapes difficult to make out – although many appear to represent llamas or geometric shapes. They range in size from 5 meters (16ft) to 20 meters (65ft) in length. They are believed to be among the oldest found at the site, having been dated to between 400 BC and 200 BC. They were identified using 3D scanning equipment.
2. Startling New Evidence Suggests Stonehenge was First Built in Wales then Transported and Reconstructed 500 Years Later in England
Archaeologists found the exact holes in a rocky outcrop in Wales from where the bluestones found at Stonehenge originated, revealing that they were quarried 500 years before they were assembled into the famous stone circle that still stands today in Wiltshire, England. The dramatic discovery suggests that the ancient monument was first erected in Wales and later dismantled, transported, and reassembled over 140 miles (225.3 km) away in Salisbury Plain.
The holes were dated to 3,400 BC at Craig Rhos-y-felin and 3,200 BC at Carn Goedeg. However, the bluestones were not assembled at Stonehenge until 2,900 BC, which raises the question as to why they were quarried centuries before their use in the famous stone monument in Wiltshire, England.
“It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that’s pretty improbable in my view,” Prof Mike Parker Pearson, director of the project, said. “It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument, somewhere near the quarries, that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.”
The research team have begun carrying out geophysical surveys, trial excavations, and aerial photographic analyses in the area between the two quarries in Wales to identify the area where a Stonehenge-like stone circle was originally assembled. They have hinted at the fact that they might already have found a promising location and that a big discovery may follow in 2016.
According to Manetho, an ancient Egyptian historian and priest of the 3rd century BC, Memphis once carried the name Ineb-hedj, meaning ‘White Walls’. Some historians maintain that the city was named by the founder of Memphis, pharaoh Menes, who built a fortress of white walls. Others suggest the city was named after the pharaoh’s palace, which would have been built of white-washed brick, while another theory is that the white walls refer to the enormous walls around the Temple of Ptah, the largest and most important temple in ancient Memphis.
Bringing story to fact, a team of Russian archaeologists unearthed parts of the legendary white walls near the town of Mit Rahina, 20 km (12.4 miles) south of Cairo and near Saqqara, which was the necropolis of Memphis. Speaking of the discovery, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said: “We hope this finding will enhance our knowledge of one the most important cities of Ancient Egypt. Memphis played a significant political, religious and economic role in the history of the country."