Mourn With Ghosts #archeology #haiku #sciku

Millennia past,
Was carefully buried child,
Lovingly buried?

It’s hard for me to imagine what the family’s life was like, but perhaps I could understand their grief.

A purposefully excavated pit followed by intentional covering of the corpse. The child appears to have been prepared for a tightly shrouded burial, placed on one side with knees drawn toward the chest. Even more notable is that the position of the child’s head suggests it rested on some sort of support, like a pillow. CNET

Gifts from the Past #history #archeology #botany

Date palm grown from ancient seed

Date-palm nicknamed “Methuselah” germinated in 2005 from a 2000-year-old seed found in the Masada excavations.  By DASonnenfeld – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Zealots held a mountaintop
As they went to sleep.
Their Roman foes decayed to dust
While they were hidden deep.

Deep indeed sits the Dead Sea.
Nowhere is more secured
From cosmic rays, by denser air,
So in their shells endured.

The fallen palace of a king
Preserved their jar of dates.
Museum drawers then carried them
To their amazing fate.

Seeds that sprout two thousand years
After being packed away.
They bring a history to life,
We touch our past today.

Kate Rauner

Date-palm seeds from this era were taken from several ancient sites. A few looked good and germinated to everyone’s delight and then grew into trees:

The seedlings were genetically quite different from one another. These ancient seeds might represent lost genetic diversity we don’t see any more. As date-palm growers adapt to climate change and battle pests and diseases, they might want to tap into the pool of ancient genes hidden in archaeological archives.

[One male tree produced pollen that was used] to pollinate a modern female, and they made dates. The two female date palms from ancient seeds, Judith and Hannah, have not yet reached sexual maturity, so no ancient date fruits have been resurrected yet. The Atlantic

When dates are produced from the female trees, they aren’t likely to taste the same as the fruit people ate 2,000 years ago, because farmers were already planting their groves from shoots rather than seeds. I guess that means these trees are more like whatever wild dates inspired their domestication, a taste from even farther in our past. I’d love to eat one.

Ancient Burials? Whatever These Are, They’re Amazing #archeology #Laos #travel

The world is a much bigger place than I know. How can I have missed these fascinating remains of an ancient society in Laos? Probably because the sites are so remote, not to mention still peppered with unexploded Vietnam War bombs, that you’re not likely to find a trip arranged for tourists.

Ancient giant stone jars in Laos

Not all the jars are this big, but I can’t resist sharing this image

Carved stone jars around 2,500 years old… [perhaps] used by an Iron Age civilization to expose their dead relatives to the elements for a period of time before the bones were cleaned and buried.

Remains of elaborate human burials have been found at some of the jar sites… archaeologists aren’t sure if the jars were made for the purpose of the burials or if the burials were performed later.

Some of these stone jars are truly enormous, and since no written records have been found, local people speculate. Perhaps a race of giants used them to brew rice alcohol, or maybe they were used to store water. Some studies connect the giant jars’ locations with ancient trade routes.

Perhaps ancient burial practices are reflected in modern traditions.

In contemporary funerary practices followed by Thai, Cambodian and Laotian royalty, the corpse of the deceased is placed into an urn during the early stages of the funeral rites, at which time the soul of deceased is believed to be undergoing gradual transformation from the earthly to the spiritual world. The ritual decomposition is later followed by cremation and secondary burial. wikipedia

Archaeologists from Laos and Australia continue to discover and study more of these jar-sites.

Fascinating Glimpse of Ancestors’ Lives Exposed in Ancient Writing #poem #poetry #history #archeology #ancient

Cuneiform tablet

Early writing tablet recording the allocation of beer in southern Iraq, 3100–3000 BC

What do you share with ancients,
With people lost in time?
Messages in cuneiform
Reveal that
our worries rhyme.

Advice to sooth a baby,
Betray a brother’s fear,
your meal’s delivery,
Including all your beer.

Maps to aid your travels,
Proof your taxes
have been paid,
Seals that are signatures
That eons couldn’t fade.

Will future anthropologists
Revere your grocery list?
Concern themselves with UPS
From kin they can’t dismiss?

The world was once so different
At civilization’s s dawn,
But we are human,
as they were,
And our heirs
will carry on.

Kate Rauner

Thousands of cuneiform writings remain to be translated so we can understand the Mesopotamians who gave us the wheel, astronomy, the 60-minute hour, maps, economics and politics, and the story of the flood and  ark.

The records give us a picture of day-to-day life in ancient Mesopotamia, of power structures and trading networks, but also of other aspects of its social history, such as the role of female workers.

Thanks to advanced imaging techniques, anyone with an internet connection can now access treasures.

New imaging techniques are making the job of working with such ancient, often damaged texts easier… machines will eventually be able to translate more complex Sumerian tablets, and other languages like Akkadian.