Release the Hounds: Archeology edition

There are many articles and essays about new archaeology finds that are of interest to modern Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists out there, more than our team can write about in-depth in any given week. Therefore, The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. Here are our favorite picks this month.

WHITE SANDS, N.M. – New research published in the journal Science offers a new timeline for when humans first inhabited North America and places them in what is now New Mexico several thousand years earlier than scientists have previously thought.

The discovery came after what has been dubbed as “ghost tracks” were more closely examined and radio-carbon dated by researchers. The ghost tracks which are actually fossilized footprints are visible when the ground is wet, but disappear once the ground dries out. Researchers dated the footprints by examining the seeds of an aquatic plant, Ruppia cirrhosa, often referred to as ditch grass. The ditch grass grew on the shores of the long dried-up lake, and the seeds were present in multiple layers of soil both above and below the footprints.

Dating the age of the seeds helped researchers determine that the footprints were created between 21,000 and 23,000 years ago. This new research is important because prior estimates of early human habitation were dependent on artifacts that may have been moved or shifted from their original positions within the layers of the earth, or the question of stone tools possibly being natural formations.

The dating of the footprints also answers the definitive question of whether or not humans were present in North America prior to the Ice Age. The new research would seem to indicate that they were, by several thousand years.

NASHVILLE – The microscopic examination by researchers of two turkey leg bones with sharpened tips and stained with both black and red ochre, have been identified as tattooing tools. Archaeologist Aaron Deter-Wolf and his team at the Tennessee Division of Archaeology in Nashville believe the bird bones stained with pigment are the oldest tattooing implements found in the world so far. It dates their use by Native Americans to between 5,520 and 3,620 years ago.

The bones were found in a man’s burial pit within the archeological dig site in Fernvale during an excavation in 1985. In addition to the bones, excavators found what they believe was evidence of a tattoo kit. The tips of the bones showed wear consistent with that found on other tattooing bones. Shells excavated from the site also showed pigment stains and researchers believe they were likely used to hold the inks used for tattooing.

Fernvale is located in middle Tennessee in Williamson county about 1o miles west of the town of Franklin and also is the site of Harpeth Furnace which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

CAIRO, Egypt – Archaeological excavations in the Temple of the Pharaohs north of Cairo have revealed a literal treasure trove of artifacts that included a number of tools that researchers believe were used in daily spiritual rituals performed to the Goddess Hathor.

Among the items discovered are part of a limestone pillar that is a depiction of Hathor, and a number of incense burners made out of faience, a type of glazed ceramicware. One of the incense burners had a depiction of the head of the God Horus as decoration.

Another part of the find was a group of clay vessels used in various rituals to Hathor. Other items discovered included a small maternity chair, a large offering holder, a pure gold Eye of Horus, and the remains of golden scales used in the gilding of some other pieces.

Statuettes of the deities of Tawart and Djehuty were also found and identified.

Archeologists also unearthed a group of ivory carvings that display scenes of women carrying offerings and of daily life, including depictions of plants, birds, and animals. Yet another find was a partial royal painting of a king performing religious rituals in the temple and hieroglyphic texts etched into a large limestone lintel.

The names of two 26th dynasty kings, “Waha Ip-Ra” and “Ahmose II” and the five titles of King Psamtik I in hieroglyphic inscriptions were also uncovered.

Additionally, a large limestone well for sacred water and a mud-brick Ptolemaic bath consisting of a water basin, a place for heating water, and a bathtub were also found.

ANDHRA PRADESH, India – A man tilling his land in the village of Motupalli in Prakasam district unearthed an 800-year-old stone statue of Hindu God Ganesha.

The statue of Ganesha depicts the God unadorned of his usual headdress but is wearing a naga yagnopavita (sacred thread comprised of a snake), seated in a lotus position, and positioned on a lotus pedestal. Two of the statue’s four hands are missing.

The statue dates to the Cholas period in the 12th century. Members of the Motupalli heritage society team transferred the statue of Ganesha to the Kodanda Ramaswamy temple in the port town of Motupalli.




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