90 Miles From Tyranny : 10 Rare Artifacts With Fascinating Backstories

Saturday, August 17, 2019

10 Rare Artifacts With Fascinating Backstories

Like a shadow, history is attached to every pot shard, pebble, and bone. Nothing on this Earth is without a backstory. Archaeology is all about finding these missing shadows and sewing them together to better understand bygone times.Rare stories are particularly valuable. They offer glimpses into the personal lives of ancient business owners and why neighboring cities fought. Unique finds also solve mysteries, create new world records, and even challenge the current timelines.

10Earliest Down Syndrome

Photo credit: Live Science
The genetic disorder known as Down syndrome is ancient. Throughout the centuries, artists have depicted the condition in paintings and sculptures. The oldest case involving human remains came from France. A necropolis in the northeast produced 94 skeletons, and one of them was a child. Found in 1989, it was determined that the youngster was between five and seven, gender unknown, and lived during the fifth or sixth century.Preliminary analysis suggested that the child had Down syndrome, although it was never confirmed. Modern technology gave scientists that chance. A scan of the skull found strong signs of the condition—extra bone, abnormalities with the sinuses and teeth, thin cranium, and flattened base.The findings offered a unique opportunity to see how an ancient community treated the child. Everyone in the necropolis was buried with a certain body posture, including this youngster. This suggested that he or she was neither discriminated against in life nor ostracized in death.[1]

9Ediacaran Mystery Solved

Photo credit: Live Science
The Ediacaran period ran from 635 to 541 million years ago. From this era, a fossil type stumped the scientific community. Nobody could agree on its nature. Some felt that Palaeopascichnus linearis was fossilized poop. Others voted for ancient organisms or the markings left by them. Getting a clear answer was difficult since many Palaeopascichnus sites were protected areas.In 2018, scientists caught a break. Over 300 specimens were discovered in Siberia, plus an extra batch was found in old collections from the 1980s. This combined cache allowed researchers the chance to dismantle the mysterious fossils.After they were sliced, diced, and viewed under microscopes, the truth dawned. They were exoskeletons. Remarkably, this “armor” was made of sediment and served as extra protection for a sea-dwelling species.Dating between 613–544 million years old, P. linearis became the oldest, non-microscopic critters with skeletons. The organisms could have been amoebas since they resemble xenophyophores, living amoebas that build their own sandy exoskeletons.[2]

8Ancient Hashtag

Photo credit: sciencealert.com
Archaeologists who love cave doodles recently enjoyed two milestones. In 2015, they discovered the oldest art made by humans. Then, in 2018, they found the (slightly younger) oldest figurative art. The latter turned up in Borneo.[3]The image, a cow of some sort, was large and painted between other colorful endeavors, including ancient hand stencils. Tests pinpointed the bovine creature’s creation between 40,000 and 52,000 years ago. While that wins the trophy for the world’s oldest figurative drawing, the most ancient human art came from South Africa.In the past, Blombos Cave had already produced notable hominid artifacts. More recently, researchers puttered through Blombos sediment when they found a small flake. Incredibly, around 73,000 years ago, somebody used red ocher to draw something resembling a hashtag.Although this is a stunning find, the oldest-known art does not belong to humans. That honor goes to a Homo erectus local in Indonesia who engraved zigzags on a shell 540,000 years ago. 

7Oldest Footprints

Photo credit: Live Science
The planet is crisscrossed with ancient tracks. The oldest was found in 2018 and belonged to a mysterious animal. Around 551–541 million years ago, a creature traipsed around modern-day China. Today, the site is known as the Dengying Formation, but back then, the region was an ocean.While paddling near the seafloor, the animal left behind two rows of footprints. There is only so much that spoor can reveal, but researchers determined that the creature was a bilaterian species. As strange as it sounds, that means the animal had a head on one end, a bum on the other, and symmetrical left and right sides.In addition, the marine wonder had appendages that left the prints. These limbs are the main suspects in the creation of several burrows found nearby. The fossilized grooves suggested that the creature dug to satisfy a need, perhaps looking for food.[4]Not only does the mud-scooping thing beat all dinosaur tracks by millions of years, it also proved that limbs evolved much sooner than previously believed.

6Unique Sumerian Artifact

Photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine
After being forgotten for 150 years, a pillar recently resurfaced at the British Museum. The marble was inscribed with Sumerian cuneiform and told the story of...

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