Dance headdress representing an eagle and its chicks
National Museum of the American Indian
Pour Trouver Les Sources/ Looking for The Sources.
roots, graphite, black cotton ligatures. 2007
photo Ivan Terestchenko
Pottery Reveals Ice Age Hunter-Gatherers’ Taste for Fish
Hunter-gatherers living in glacial conditions produced pots for cooking fish, according to the findings of a pioneering new study led by the University of York, which reports the earliest direct evidence for the use of ceramic vessels.
Scientists carried out chemical analysis of food residues in pottery up to 15,000 years old from the late glacial period - the oldest pottery so far investigated. The team was able to determine the use of a range of hunter-gatherer ‘Jomon’ ceramic vessels through chemical analysis of organic compounds extracted from charred surface deposits. The samples analysed are some of the earliest found in Japan - one of the first centres for ceramic innovation - and date to the end of the Late Pleistocene, at a time when humans were adjusting to changing climates and new environments.
Until quite recently ceramic container technologies have been associated with the arrival of farming, but we now know they were a much earlier hunter-gatherer adaptation. The first ceramic containers must have provided attractive new ways for processing and consuming foods, but until now virtually nothing was known of how early pots were used.
According to research leader Doctor Oliver Craig, “Perhaps most interesting is that this fundamental adaptation emerged over a period of severe climate change.” This initial phase of ceramic production probably paved the way for further intensification in the warmer climate of the Holocene when we see much more pottery on Japanese sites. Doctor Craig continues: “It opens the way for further study of hunter-gatherer pottery from later periods to clarify the development of what was a revolutionary technology.”
1275 BC (circa)
This tunic, with one long sleeve attached, bears a painted image of the goddess Hathor, shown as a cow emerging from the mountain of the West. Hieroglyphs above the cow describe her as ‘Hathor foremost of Thebes, lady of heaven, mistress of the gods’. Around the animal’s neck is a necklace with a sistrum (an emblem of Hathor) attached; between the horns are two feathers and a solar disc. The first line of the inscription below gives the title ‘mistress of the house’ and the name (unfortunately unclear but ending in ‘-imentet’) of the woman who dedicated the tunic; the second line repeats the name and epithets of Hathor.
It has been described as a child’s tunic, but it is more likely that it was specially produced as a votive offering to the goddess. Many types of votive objects were deposited in temples all over Egypt as gifts expressing devotion to deities, who, it was hoped, would in turn favour the donor. This and similar textiles may have been donated by women to the cult, perhaps accompanying specific prayers for children or successful childbirth. However, none of the inscriptions make reference to this. Another suggestion is that the tunics may have been used to clothe divine images; there is some evidence from the titles of the persons named on them that only those connected with the Hathor cult presented such garments. They presumably had to be stored carefully in the temples to maintain and protect the decoration and efficacy of the object.
Hathor was a popular deity with associations ranging from joy to music and dance, and was also one of the few state gods to whom ordinary people could appeal. Her cult was very prominent on the West Bank at Thebes, near the temples of Deir el-Bahari. The motif of the cow emerging from the western mountain, associated with burial and rebirth, is extremely common at Thebes. The rock-cut Hathor shrine containing a statue of the goddess as a cow, which was discovered in 1906 between the Middle and New Kingdom temples, embodies this idea in three dimensions (Cairo, JE 38574-5).
(Source: The British Museum)
The Great Obelisk
In the south of Egypt, on the banks of the river Nile at Aswan, is one of the strangest riddles of antiquity, an ancient quarry. In between the many bizarre quarry marks that are characteristic to the area, lies an enormous obelisk. A deep trench has been chopped away so that the profile of the obelisk is clearly recognizable. But the base is still attached to the rock floor. Obviously the obelisk was never finished and one suspects that the clearly visible crack is the reason. If finished, it would have measured around 42 m (approximately 137 feet) and would have weighed nearly 1,200 tons.
The obelisk, made of granite, one of the hardest materials on Earth, lies embedded in the rock mass with little or no maneuvering space around it, making it almost inconceivable how workers in the narrow trench were capable of carving the obelisk. How would this giant structure have been removed from the quarry if it had indeed been finished?
Universe Explorers Earth. We are one.
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