Ancient fortress discovery may solve one of Jerusalem’s great archaeological mysteries

Remains of the citadel and tower (Photographic credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority).

Remains of the citadel and tower (Photographic credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority).

Archaeologists in Israel believe they have found the remains of an ancient Greek fortification used to control the Temple in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago.

The citadel was recently uncovered during archaeological excavations in a parking lot at the City of David, which is in the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

Related: Stonehenge builders hosted barbecues

The Greek fortifications, known as the Acra, were built during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to control the city and monitor activity in the Temple. However, the Acra’s exact location has been one of Jerusalem’s great archaeological mysteries, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“It has been an open question in the archaeology of Jerusalem,” Excavation Director Doron Ben-Ami told “For hundreds of years scholars, archaeologists and historians have been looking for the location of this Acra and many, many different locations have been suggested.”

Now the parking lot has revealed its incredible secret. “This sensational discovery allows us for the first time to reconstruct the layout of the settlement in the city,” wrote excavation directors Ben-Ami, Yana Tchekhanovets and Salome Cohen, in a statement released by the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The new archaeological finds indicate the establishment of a well-fortified stronghold that was constructed on the high bedrock cliff overlooking the steep slopes of the City of David hill.”

The stronghold, they added, controlled all means of approach to the Temple atop the Temple Mount, and cut the Temple off from the southern parts of the city.

Excavators now believe that they have exposed evidence of the Acra on Jerusalem’s City of David hill – a section of massive wall, a base of a tower and a glacis, or sloping defensive embankment, which is built of soil, stone and plaster.

Related: Archaeologists discover 3,500-year old Mycenaean warrior and his treasures

A host of artifacts, including lead sling shots, bronze arrowheads and ballista stones stamped with the trident symbolizing Antiochus IV Epiphanes have been discovered during the excavations. Other items include coins and wine jars, according to the excavation directors.

“The numerous coins ranging in date from the reign of Antiochus IV to that of Antiochus VII and the large number of wine jars (amphorae) that were imported from the Aegean region to Jerusalem, which were discovered at the site, provide evidence of the citadel’s chronology, as well as the non-Jewish identity of its inhabitants.”

The temple was liberated from Greek rule by the Hasmoneans in 164 B.C.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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22 ancient shipwrecks discovered near Greek island

An archaeologist prepares a level on one of the wrecks.

An archaeologist prepares a level on one of the wrecks. (V. Mentogianis)

Shipwrecks were the stuff of lore around the craggy coasts of Fourni, a Greek archipelago close to Turkey in the eastern Aegean Sea. Generations of local fishermen and sponge divers had seen piles of ancient pottery collecting algae on the seafloor. Last month, a group of marine archaeologists finally investigated the waters, and their wealth of findings far exceeded expectations.

During the very first dive of the expedition, the team found the remains of a late Roman-period wreck strewn with sea grass in shallow water. By day 5, the researchers had discovered evidence of nine more sunken ships. The next day, they found another six. By the time the 13-day survey was finished, the divers had located 22 shipwrecks— some more than 2,500 years old — that had never been scientifically documented before.

“I think we were all shocked,” said Peter Campbell, co-director of the project from the U.S.-based RPM Nautical Foundation. “We were expecting three or four wrecks, and we would have been very happy.” [See Photos of the Newly Discovered Greek Shipwrecks]

Just how many more wrecks are hidden around Fourni — which lies between the islands of Samos and Icaria — is anyone’s guess, Campbell said. The expedition turned up doomed vessels from the Archaic period (700-480 B.C.) to the late medieval period (16th century A.D.), from depths of 180 feet to as shallow as 10 feet. And yet, this initial survey covered merely 17 square miles, just 5 percent of the archipelago’s coast. Previously, about 180 ancient shipwrecks had been well-documented in all of Greece’s territorial waters. These new discoveries add 12 percent to the total number of known wrecks, the leaders of the project said.

“In a survey, you don’t really choose what you’re going to find — you just dive,” George Koutsouflakis, the Greek director of the survey, from the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, told Live Science. “We knew already that Fourni was a hub in navigation in the Aegean, so we had some expectations, but the results surprised us. The importance of this place was underestimated.”

Though Fourni didn’t have major cities, it was notable in the ancient world for its location along Aegean crossing routes, both east-west and north-south. Early Imperial Roman sources say that Fourni was very prosperous, had a robust population and had marble mines in full operation, Koutsouflakis said. But mentions of the archipelago in late Roman texts are scant, which is why the divers were surprised that about half of the wrecks found in the survey date to this period. [In Photos: ‘Most Beautiful Lakes’ Discovered Beneath Aegean Sea]

“By the late Roman period, we don’t really know anything about the island,” Koutsouflakis said. “Fourni is hardly mentioned in the sources of that time. You see that the shipwrecks tell us a more nuanced story. The island must have maintained importance as a harbor site.”

The main component of these shipwrecks, wood, isn’t likely to survive centuries at the bottom of the sea, unless it is buried in mud without oxygen to fueldecomposition. So far, the wrecks that have been found around Fourni bear few traces of the vessels themselves (though future underwater excavations may change that). Instead, the divers documented messy piles of lost cargo, mostly transport vessels like amphoras, which sank with their ships close to the cliffs on Fourni’s coast.

“A lot of times, you can see near the point of impact where the ships must have crashed, and then you have this scatter pile raining down the underwater slope of the cliff,” Campbell said. “These aren’t the nice ship-shaped piles of amphoras that you sometimes get in ships that wreck far out at sea. We probably do have some of those, but they’re probably farther away from shore.”

Campbell said that of the 22 newly discovered wrecks, three have unique cargos that have never been found before in Mediterranean shipwrecks: a trove of Archaic pots from nearby Samos that was probably destined for Cyprus, but didn’t make it very far; a group of huge second-century A.D. amphoras from the Black Sea region; and a cache of “Sinopian carrots,” or amphoras that come from Sinop on the Black Sea coast of Turkey and, as the name implies, are shaped vaguely like carrots.

Koutsouflakis and Campbell said they intend to go back to Fourni, equipped with underwater robots and other technologies, to search for more wrecks before they plan any underwater excavations. For now, they have taken artifact samples ashore for analysis at a laboratory in Athens, Greece, partly to try to find out what was on board — wine, oil, fish sauce — the ill-fated ships that met their demise at Fourni.


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Scientists to get inside 4 pyramids without touching them

In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo, a tour bus passes near the historical site of the Giza Pyramids, near Cairo, Egypt.

In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo, a tour bus passes near the historical site of the Giza Pyramids, near Cairo, Egypt.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

How do you see what’s inside an Egyptian pyramid without taking it apart or even “drilling the slightest opening?” With infrared thermography, 3D scans with lasers and drones, and cosmic-ray detectors, scientists said Sunday at a press conference.

Forbes translates the latter technology: Scientists will study “how the cosmic rays that continually zap our planet skitter through the stones.” The scanning—which will take scientists several yards deep into the structures—will start at the Bent Pyramid at Dashour, chosen to be first “due to its distinguished and unique architectural design and because it is the first attempt at pyramid construction that has not been carefully studied,” Mamdouh Eldamaty, Egypt’s antiquities minister, tells Ahram Online of the roughly 4,600-year-old pyramid The scanning will then continue at the Red Pyramid and the two grand Giza pyramids of Cheops and Chephren, the AP reports.

Cheops, also known as Khufu, is the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing, per the Scan Pyramids project site. Thought to be about 480 feet in height originally, notes “it took modern man until the 19th century to build a taller structure” than Khufu.

Scientists have used such cosmic-ray techniques before to scan nuclear reactors ruined at Japan’s Fukushima site and to peer inside ancient pyramids in Belize and Mexico.

In fact, scientists “looked for the cosmic-ray signature” of chambers tucked away in the Pyramid of Chephren in the 1960s, says Forbes, “but scanning technologies have gone through a quantum leap since then.” The mission begins in November and should last until late 2016.

(Has Queen Nefertiti’s lost tomb been found? Go inside the hunt.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Scientists to Get Inside 4 Pyramids Without Digging

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Archaeologists discover 3,500-year old Mycenaean warrior and his treasures

(Photo courtesy of the University of Cincinnati)

(Photo courtesy of the University of Cincinnati)

If striking gold is great, striking ancient gold must be better.

While digging for artifacts at the Palace of Nestor in southern Greece, an archaeological team headed up by researchers from the University of Cincinnati stumbled upon what they now believe is the grave of a wealthy Mycenaean warrior.

The Palace of Nestor features in Homeric legend, and the recent archaeological efforts seek to study and uncover the palace, which was destroyed by fire around 1200 B.C., but remains the best-preserved palace from the Bronze Age found on Greece’s mainland.

Inside the grave, the team uncovered the remains of a male they estimate to be age 30-35 years of age lying on his back. Beside him, weapons lay to  the left and treasures lay to the right.

Related: Hiker taking a rest finds a 1,200-year-old Viking sword in great condition

Highlights from the find include weapons gilded of precious metals, gold rings, gold and silver cups, carved ivory and over 1,000 beads made of precious stones. The team also noted that the lack of items made of pottery indicates the man’s wealth and position in the community at the time he was alive.

UC Magazine writes on its website, “The tomb may have held a powerful warrior or king – or even a trader or a raider – who died at about 30 to 35 years of age but who helped to lay the foundations of the Mycenaean culture that later flourished in the region.”

The warrior’s grave shaft measured about 5 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long and the team worked on clearing it for about two weeks before uncovering the warrior and his trove of treasures.

The project is headed up by UC’s Sharon Stocker, senior research associate in the Department of Classics, McMicken College of Arts and Sciences and Jack Davis, Carl W. Blegen Chair in Greek Archaeology. Other UC team members making the discovery included UC faculty, staff specialists and students.

UC Magazine writes, “The excavation was organized through the Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati, with sponsorship from the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, and with permits from the Greek Ministry of Culture.”

Related: Plague spread 3,000 years earlier than 1st thought: 2,800 BC

Stocker told UC magazine, “This previously unopened shaft grave of a wealthy Mycenaean warrior, dating back 3,500 years, is one of the most magnificent displays of prehistoric wealth discovered in mainland Greece in the past 65 years.”

Stocker added that the warrior pre-dates the days of legendary King Nestor and his father Neleus by around 200-300 years. “That means he was likely an important figure at a time when this part of Greece was being indelibly shaped by close contact with Crete, Europe’s first advanced civilization.”


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Hiker taking a rest finds a 1,200-year-old Viking sword in great condition

File photo - Participants dressed up as Vikings raise their swords as they take part in the annual Viking festival of Catoira in north-western Spain Aug. 7, 2011.

File photo – Participants dressed up as Vikings raise their swords as they take part in the annual Viking festival of Catoira in north-western Spain Aug. 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Miguel Vidal )

Goran Olsen was enjoying a leisurely hike recently in Norway when he stopped near the fishing village of Haukeli, about 150 miles west of Oslo. Under some rocks along a well-traversed path, he made a discovery that’s now the envy of every detectorist in Scandinavia: a 30-inch wrought-iron Viking sword, estimated to be about 1,200 years old, CNN reports.

One would think a sword that old would be so decrepit it could never be wielded again, but a Hordaland County archaeologist says it just needs a little polish and a new grip to be good to go.

“The sword was found in very good condition,” Jostein Aksdal notes, per theLocal. County conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd adds, per CNN: “It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well preserved … it might be used today if you sharpened the edge.” The extreme weather in the area likely had something to do with the sword’s relatively unscathed condition: The mountains are covered in snow and ice six months out of the year, and there’s no humidity in the summer, so the sword would have been protected.

No one’s sure what the blade’s backstory is yet, but scientists are already thinking beyond winter and into the springtime thaw. “When the snow has gone in spring, we will check the place where the sword was found,” Aksdal says.

“If we find several objects, or a tomb, perhaps we can find the story behind the sword.” Ekerhovd says the weapon could have been from a burial site or belonged to someone passing through who may have died.

But “it was a costly weapon, and the owner must have used it to show power,” Aksdal tells the Local. The Viking artifact has been sent for conservation at the University Museum of Bergen.

(The inscription on this medieval sword has become a real head-scratcher.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Hiker Finds 1.2K-Year-Old Viking Sword

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Archaeologists Discover Tomb Stuffed With Riches

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By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

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Posted Oct 27, 2015 10:19 AM CDT


(NEWSER) – Archaeologists have discovered a treasure trove in the undisturbed grave of a warrior who died some 3,500 years ago in Greece. Found in the ancient city of Pylos in May, the 5-foot-deep grave contained a bronze sword with an ivory hilt; a gold-hilted dagger; four gold rings; a gold necklace; gold, silver, and bronze cups; carnelian, amethyst, jasper, and agate beads; impressive stone carved seals; a bronze mirror; remains of a bronze suit of armor; an ivory plaque carved with a griffin; and more, per the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. “Probably not since the 1950s have we found such a rich tomb,” says a researcher. “You can count on one hand the number of tombs as wealthy as this one,” another adds. Many of the treasures are from the Minoan civilization on Crete to the southeast and may hold clues about the mainland Mycenaean civilization.

The grave of the so-called “griffin warrior” dates to “a transformative moment in the Bronze Age” when the Mycenaean civilization began borrowing heavily from the “higher culture” of the Minoan civilization, researchers explain, noting further study may reveal how the Minoan culture was adopted and adapted into what became Mycenaean palace culture. For now, scientists guess the male warrior, aged 30 to 35, was perhaps the leader of a chiefdom, though DNA analysis could reveal more about his origin. “Whoever he was, he seems to have been celebrated for his trading or fighting in nearby island of Crete and for his appreciation of the more-sophisticated and delicate of the Minoan civilization,” a scientist says in a release. “It’s almost as if the occupant wants his story to be told.” (A professor recently found priceless coins from ancient Greece and Rome.)


The warrior sure had bling, including this solid-gold necklace.
The warrior sure had bling, including this solid-gold necklace.   (Greek Culture Ministry)

Plague spread 3,000 years earlier than 1st thought: 2,800 BC

In this undated photo released by Cell journal, a Bronze Age human skull painted with red ochre, from the Yamnaya culture of Central Asia, one of the cultures that carried the early strains of plague. (Simon Rasmussen/Cell 2015 via AP)

In this undated photo released by Cell journal, a Bronze Age human skull painted with red ochre, from the Yamnaya culture of Central Asia, one of the cultures that carried the early strains of plague. (Simon Rasmussen/Cell 2015 via AP)

The plague was spreading nearly 3,000 years before previously thought, scientists say after finding traces of the disease in the teeth of ancient people — a discovery that could provide clues to how dangerous diseases evolve.

To find evidence of the prehistoric infection, researchers drilled into the teeth of 101 individuals who lived in Central Asia and Europe some 2,800 to 5,000 years ago. The drilling produced a powder that the researchers examined for DNA from plague bacteria. They found it in samples from seven people.

Before the study, the earliest evidence of the plague was from A.D. 540, said Simon Rasmussen of the Technical University of Denmark. He and colleagues found it as early as 2,800 B.C.

“We were very surprised to find it 3,000 years before it was supposed to exist,” said Rasmussen, one of the study authors. The research was published online Thursday in the journal, Cell.

Rasmussen said the plague they found was a different strain from the one that caused the three known pandemics, including the Black Death that swept across Medieval Europe. In contrast to later strains, including the one estimated to have wiped out about half of Europe, the Bronze Age plague revealed by the new study could not be spread by fleas because it lacked a crucial gene. So it was probably less able to infect people over wide regions.

But Rasmussen said knowing that plague existed thousands of years earlier than had been believed might explain some unsolved historical mysteries, including the “Plague of Athens,” a horrifying unknown epidemic that struck the Greek capital in 430 B.C. It killed up to 100,000 people during the Peloponnesian War.

“People have been speculating about what this was, like was this measles or typhus, but it could well have been plague,” Rasmussen said.

He said tracking how the plague evolved from being an intestinal infection to “one of the most deadly diseases ever encountered by humans” could help scientists predict the disease’s future path.

“Typically, things get less virulent with time, but that’s not always the case,” said Hendrik Poinar, a molecular evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University in Canada who was not part of the study. He noted that diseases could acquire new features — including lethality — relatively quickly.

Other experts said it was unlikely that plague would ever pose as great a threat as it has in the past, especially since it is now largely treatable.

“It might be that (plague) will eventually burn itself out,” said Brendan Wren, dean of the faculty of infectious and tropical diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Wren said other diseases like leprosy have also lost genes over time and are now less able to sicken people.

“The evidence is that (plague) is not going to come back big time, but it’s hard to predict what the bacteria will do,” he said. “They are great survivors.”

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Wreck of steamship found in Lake Ontario

The wreck of a steamship that sank in Lake Ontario back in 1862 has been discovered by several explorers. (

The wreck of a steamship that sank in Lake Ontario back in 1862 has been discovered by several explorers. (

Explorers have found the wreckage of a steamship that was lost in a storm on Lake Ontario in 1862, making it the oldest vessel of this kind found in local waters.

Jim Kennard and Roger Pawlowski located the shipwrecked steamer Bay State in deep waters near Fair Haven, N.Y by using high resolution side scan sonar system. Grainy Images show the ship – that went down on its way to either Cleveland or Toledo with as many as 18 passengers and crew – resting on the lake bottom.

Related: Shipwreck hunters make rare find on Lake Ontario: Air Force Plane that went down in ’53

The wreck was first spotted in August 2015, when sonar from the lake bottom spiked up on the boat depth finder just before an image of a shipwreck appeared on the side scan sonar system.  The wreck was then surveyed from several different viewpoints, helping evaluate its size and identity. The surveys also showed that the ship had started coming apart for almost a quarter of a mile, leaving debris in its wake before eventually sinking to the bottom of the lake.

To confirm this was the Bay State, the explorers analyzed the size, shape, type, location, and conditions causing the wreck. The technical divers reported viewing the propeller and a large opening on the port side of the ship for loading cargo. An article on the loss of the steamship Bay State in the Oswego Commercial Times newspaper from November 4, 1862 also helped provide clues to the lost ship.

Related: 17th century shipwreck in Lake Michigan? Maybe

While the discovery of this steamship is significant, finding a ship wreck in the Great Lakes is not.

There are estimated to be from 6,000 to 8,000 ships that wrecked in the Great Lakes, with over 600 occurring on Lake Ontario. Many of these ships were wrecked or burned in a harbor or were driven on-shore where they were broken apart.

Today, there are over 200 ships that still remain in Lake Ontario.

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Marble Medusa head unearthed in ancient Roman ruins

Credit: Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied professor of art history, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

(Credit: Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied professor of art history, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. )

In the ruins of a Roman city in southern Turkey, archaeologists have discovered a marble head of Medusa, somehow spared during an early Christian campaign against pagan art.

The head was unearthed at Antiochia ad Cragum, a city founded during the first century, around the rule of Emperor Nero, that has all the marks of a Roman outpost —bathhouses, shops, colonnaded streets, mosaics and a local council house.

With serpents for hair, wide eyes and an open mouth, Medusa was a mythical monster who could turn a person to stone with her gaze. At Antiochia, a Medusa architectural sculpture would have served an apotropaic function, intended to avert evil —but later, her likeness would have been considered idolatrous by the Christians who came to live at the site.

“The people living at Antiochia later were zealous Christians who were destroying art in much the same way that ISIS is destroying remnants of the ancient past,” Michael Hoff, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln art historian and director of the excavations, told Live Science. “These things were meant to be destroyed and put into a lime kiln to be burned and turned into mortar.” [See Photos of the Medusa Head and Ancient Antiochia Site]

Antiochia, which covers more than 7 acres (3 hectares), is located on the sparsely populated outskirts of the town ofGazipa?, atop craggy cliffs in an area that is today dominated by wheat fields. Little is known about the city from ancient sources, and though the archaeological site had been identified in the early 19th century, it had never been given much attention by scholars until recently, Hoff said.

“The fact that it’s somewhat of an unknown city makes it fascinating for us as archaeologists,” he added. The evidence Hoff and his colleagues have dug up so far suggests Antiochia might have actually been an economic player during theRoman Empire, a center for the trade and production of wine, agriculture and glass.

“The result of all this economic activity is a pretty high degree of cultural output,” Hoff said. In 2012, they discovered an enormous poolside mosaic covering 1,600 square feet with intricate geometric patterns. They also found the marble head of an Aphrodite sculpture in 2013.

Much of the Roman artwork from the site has been lost. Sometime after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, several churches were built at Antiochia. Hoff said his team has found lots of broken sculptural parts and bits of statues that had smashed into pieces; they’ve also found evidence of the Christian kilns where the marble artwork would become mortar.

A group of Turkish students discovered the Medusa head near the foundations of a building that may have been a small temple. Hoff and his colleagues have reconstructed the head and other marble fragments found nearby, showing that Medusa’s head was not part of a freestanding statue, but rather it would have been incorporated into the pediment of the building.

When the team returns to the site next year, they plan to further excavate the city’s bouleuterion, the seat of the local legislature that may have doubled as a music hall or theater. Hoff said they also plan to investigate the rows of shops that line a Roman street to find out what was being sold in the marketplace.


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Bloody ancient arrowhead reveals Maya ‘Life Force’ ceremony

Around 500 years ago, in this Maya temple at Zacpetén in Guatemala, a person was cut open using an obsidian arrowhead, and their blood was spilled in a ceremony that may have used a person’s "life force" to feed the gods.

Around 500 years ago, in this Maya temple at Zacpetén in Guatemala, a person was cut open using an obsidian arrowhead, and their blood was spilled in a ceremony that may have used a person’s “life force” to feed the gods. (Photo by Timothy Pugh)

An ancient arrowhead with human blood on it points to a Maya bloodletting ceremony in which a person’s “life force” fed the gods, two researchers say.

The ceremony took place around 500 years ago in Guatemala at a temple at the site of Zacpetén. During the ceremony someone was cut open — possibly through the earlobes, tongue or genitals — with an arrowhead made of obsidian (a volcanic glass), and their blood was spilled.

The Maya believed that each person had a “life force” and that bloodletting allowed this life force to nourish the gods. “The general consensus (among scholars) is that bloodletting was ‘feeding’ the gods with the human essential life force,” said Prudence Rice, a professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. [Photos: Maya Mural Depicts Royal Advisors]

“We know Mayas also participated in bloodletting as a part of birth or coming-of-age ceremonies,” said Nathan Meissner, a researcher at the Center for Archaeological Investigations at Southern Illinois University. “This practice served to ensoul future generations and connect their life force to those of past ancestors.”

Whoever gave their blood may have done so voluntarily and probably survived the ceremony, Rice said.

Bloody finds

This life force ceremony was one of many discoveries made in a study published recently by Meissner and Rice in the Journal of Archaeological Science. For the study, they examined 108 arrowheads from five sites in the central Petén region of Guatemala. All the sites had been excavated within the last 20 years and all the arrowheads date to between A.D. 1400 and A.D. 1700.

Using a technique called counter-immunoelectrophoresis they were able to detect the remains of ancient blood on 25 of the arrowheads and identify the types of species they came from. Two of the arrowheads had human blood, while the others held blood from a mix of animals, including rodents, birds, rabbits and large cats.

During the lab procedure, proteins are removed from the arrowheads and tests are conducted to see if the proteins react to serums containing the antibodies of different animals. If a reaction occurs, then it means the proteins from the arrowhead may be from the animal whose antibodies are being tested.

This technique “has been used occasionally in the last decade, but has some limitations because of cost, its potential for contamination, and its success rate,” Meissner said. Quite often, ancient proteins don’t survive the passage of time and the reactions don’t always allow scientists to identify the precise species. For instance, while the researchers were able to tell that four of the arrowheads were coated with the blood of rodents, they couldn’t identify what type of rodents were killed.

Combat casualty?

In the study, the researchers found that two arrowheads had human blood on them. The second arrowhead with human blood was discovered inside an old house near a fortification wall at Zacpetén. Impact damage on the arrowhead suggests it hit a person.

The researchers aren’t clear on the story behind this arrowhead. A wounded individual (perhaps someone who was defending the site) may have been carried into the house, where the arrowhead was removed. “There are multiple accounts of Mayas surviving arrow injuries, which could mean they were brought back embedded in living individuals,” Meissner said.

Another possibility is that the arrowhead hit someone in a skirmish and the arrow itself was then recycled. “The arrow could have been retrieved from a skirmish and brought back to the residence to reuse the arrow shaft, thus discarding the tip,” Meissner said.

The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and was supported by the Instituto de Antropología e Historia de Guatemala. The lab analysis was done at the Laboratory of Archaeological Science at the University of California at Bakersfield.


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