Category Archives: Prehistoric art

Excavations in the desert

This archaeological site in Israel is near where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Archaeologists and volunteers are at work here now because the site has been looted and continues to be in danger.

It’s interesting to read about the great things found, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls; but archaeologists are also interested in the little things that people own and keep with them. “The thieves took all the main things that they knew to be valuable, but we are looking and finding interesting things, too,” said Uri Davidovich, a research fellow from Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University who is leading the dig. … “One special thing that we found were hairbrushes. We found four of them, not all complete, but I can feel the person who was behind it.”
“Israeli archaeologists rush to dig at Cave of Skulls before looters take everything”
By William Booth and Ruth Eglash

Washington Post, June 8, 2016

Volunteers working alongside Israeli archaeologists sift the dirt in the Cave of Skulls in the Judaean wilderness. (William Booth/The Washington Post)

Volunteers working alongside Israeli archaeologists sift the dirt in the Cave of Skulls in the Judaean wilderness. (William Booth/The Washington Post)

Who were the Celts?

An exhibit at the British Museum in London (through January 31, 2016) explores this great question. “…the term “Celt” was first recorded about 500 B.C. by the Greeks, who used the word “Keltoi” to describe various peoples living in different parts of the European continent. A map near the exhibition entrance charts regions stretching from modern Portugal, France and Italy as far east as Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey, which Ancient Greek and Roman authors described as “Celtic.” For these commentators, “Celt” meant “different” or “foreign.” ” For the ancient Greeks, anyone who wasn’t Greek was a Celt. Interestingly, there are similarities in the arts produced by people across this vast Celtic geography.

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Gundestrup cauldron (150-50 B.C.). Photo: The National Museum of Denmark

The Gundestrup Cauldron (above) is an important object in identifying the Celts. This was found in a bog in what is now Denmark, but it is believed to have been made in ancient Romania or Bulgaria.

The bottom of the interior shows a bare-breasted woman warrior, sword in hand, jumping over a gigantic bull.

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Here is a detail of one of the exterior panels of a male hunter. Note the torc he wears around his neck. Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 5.13.40 PMFor scale, here is a torc from the exhibition….. Watch the sixth video!

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Here is a link to Barrymore Laurence Scherer’s review of the exhibit from the Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2015.

And a link to the British Museum’s web site with several great videos, including this one (the sixth of six) in which the curators discuss a few of the objects. In that last video, be sure to listen to the “fox” at 14:48.

A new species in the evolution of humanity?

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Recent discoveries of bones in a cave in South Africa have scholars wondering if there is a new branch on the tree that leads to Homo sapiens.  Read Robert Lee Hotz’s article from the Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2015. What can we say about how these bones got here? Were they intentionally buried? If so, why? If so…these are very early burials.

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Professor Lee Berger kissing a replica of a Homo naledi skull.

John Noble Wilford’s article from the New York Times, September 10, 2015.

Lots of images in this article from The Telegraph (UK).

And the Press Release from The National Geographic, September 10, 2015.