Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Digital Images Recreate Aztec's Templo Mayor

Digital visualization of Templo Mayor prior to destruction.

Templo Mayor plaza viewed from the Temple of the Sun.

Digital images now provide what is considered a reasonable concept of the appearance of a spectacular 16th century Aztec temple in what is today Mexico City.

Antonio Serrato-Combe, professor of architecture at the University of Utah, devoted two decades to digitally recreating ancient structures of the Aztecs. His major accomplishment is the construction of the Templo Mayor Precinct in Tenochtitlan, in what is modern day Mexico City. Destroyed by Hernando Cortes in 1521, the Templo Mayor was the center of Aztec ceremonial life and served as the setting for highly energized rituals.

According to

The question of what the Aztec Templo Mayor Precinct looked like has piqued the curiosity of many, including Serrato-Combe. For more than two decades, he has been trying to solve the mystery on how the capital of the Aztecs looked by using the technology and tools of architecture.

"The Aztec capital was a thriving metropolis planned and built according to principles that not only understood and applied critical environmental issues, but added holistic concepts as well," explains Serrato-Combe. "The Aztecs did not compartmentalize the arts. The final result was a unique combination of architecture, sculpture, painting, costume, wall and sand painting, pottery, masks, amulets, all into one expression. I envy those individuals who had the opportunity to experience those environments."

Combe's research and visualizations are centered on historic and archaeological studies conducted on-site in Mexico City, in conjunction with additional extensive research, very time consuming, due to the complexity and diverse nature of the historic and archeological record.

Click here for the article with larger images.

View from top of Huitzilopochtli shrine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mayan Temples Play 'Raindrop' Music

El Castillo possibly a temple to the Mayan rain god Chaac.

Researchers are speculating that the Mayans constructed some of Mexico’s ancient pyramids to reverberate with peculiar “raindrop music” ~ the sound of raindrops falling into a bucket of water ~ as people climbed them.

For years archaeologists have been familiar with the raindrop sounds made by footsteps on El Castillo, a hollow pyramid on the Yucatán Peninsula. But why the steps should sound like this and whether the effect was intentional remained unclear.

According to New Scientist magazine:

To investigate further, Jorge Cruz of the Professional School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in Mexico City and Nico Declercq of the Georgia Institute of Technology compared the frequency of sounds made by people walking up El Castillo with those made at the solid, uneven-stepped Moon Pyramid at Teotihuacan in central Mexico.

At each pyramid, they measured the sounds they heard near the base of the pyramid when a student was climbing higher up. Remarkably similar raindrop noises, of similar frequency, were recorded at both pyramids, suggesting that rather than being caused by El Castillo being hollow, the noise is probably caused by sound waves traveling through the steps hitting a corrugated surface, and being diffracted, causing the particular raindrop sound waves to propagate down along the stairs.

El Castillo is widely believed to have been devoted to the feathered serpent god Kukulcan, but Cruz thinks it may also have been a temple to the rain god Chaac. Indeed, a mask of Chaac is found at the top of El Castillo and also in the Moon Pyramid.

"The Mexican pyramids, with some imagination, can be considered musical instruments dating back to the Mayan civilization," says Cruz, although he adds that there is no direct evidence that the Mayans actually played them.

Click here for the New Scientist article.

Anglo-Saxon Treasure is a Mystery

Sample of the huge stash of Anglo-Saxon precious-metal objects.

Terry Herbert’s spectacular find with a metal detector of the largest known stash of 7th century Anglo-Saxon gold and silver has rocked the world of archaeology, and more details are being released with each passing day. The find was disclosed last week.

Herbert had been wielding his metal detector for 18 years and in July was searching land in South Staffordshire belonging to a farmer friend.

"I have this phrase that I say sometimes: 'Spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear,’ but on that day I changed ‘coins’ to ‘gold,’" he recalls. "I don't know why I said it that day, but I think somebody was listening and directed me to it.”

He found an estimated 1,500 gold and silver pieces, making it the largest discovery of Anglo-Saxon gold yet recovered.

What Is It?

“For the Anglo-Saxon period, this is an awful lot of wealth for one person, or even one people, to have left in one place,” says Dr. Michael Lewis of the British Museum. “At the moment, we can say what it isn't, even if we can't say what it is. It's not associated with a burial, like Sutton Hoo was, for example.

“After that, there are two main possibilities,” he continues. “The first is that this treasure has been purposefully deposited, like an offering to a god. But, from my 21st-Century perspective, I find it bewildering that someone could shove so much metalwork into the ground as an offering. That seems like overkill.

“The other possibility is it's a treasure chest that got lost, or they couldn't come back for it,” Lewis says.

Click here for the BBC article with two videos.
Click here for more BBC photos of the treasure.
Click here for article by Dr. Michael Lewis.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Genetics Dispel Ancient Indian Division

The longstanding belief of an ancient division between India’s Aryan and Dravidian populations ~ essentially a north-south separation ~ has been disproved by genetic researchers from Harvard and India.

"This paper rewrites history. There is no north-south divide,'' Lalji Singh, former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and a co-author of the study, said at a press conference in Hyderabad on Thursday.

According to the Times of India:

Senior CCMB scientist Kumarasamy Thangarajan said there was no truth to the Aryan-Dravidian theory as they came hundreds or thousands of years after the ancestral north and south Indians had settled in India.

The study analysed 500,000 genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 diverse groups from 13 states. All the individuals were from six-language families and traditionally "upper'' and "lower'' castes and tribal groups. "The genetics proves that castes grew directly out of tribe-like organizations during the formation of the Indian society,'' the study said. Thangarajan noted that it was impossible to distinguish between castes and tribes since their genetics proved they were not systematically different.

“. . .The initial settlement took place 65,000 years ago in the Andamans and in ancient south India around the same time, which led to population growth in this part,'' said Thangarajan. "At a later stage, 40,000 years ago, the ancient north Indians emerged which in turn led to rise in numbers here. But at some point of time, the ancient north and the ancient south mixed, giving birth to a different set of population. And that is the population which exists now and there is a genetic relationship between the population within India.''

The study reveals that the present-day Indian population is a mix of ancient north and south, bearing the genomic contributions from two distinct ancestral populations ~ the Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and the Ancestral South Indian (ASI).

Click here for the Times of India article.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Research Shows More Women Cave Artists

Painting from Pech-Merle in France showing several hand prints.

Much more Stone Age cave art seems to be the creation of women artists than previously thought, according to new research.

An American archaeologist has measured outlined handprints found on cave walls in France and Spain ~ some dating back 28,000 years ~ and has shown that the relative lengths of fingers fit the proportions of female hands better than those of males.

“I had access to lots of people of European descent who were willing to let me scan their hands as reference data,” says Dean Snow, of Pennsylvania State University.

According to the London Times:

By matching their hand profiles against photographs of paint-outlined hands from the caves of El Castillo and Gargas, in northern Spain, and Pech-Merle in the Dordogne region of France, “even a superficial examination of published photos suggested to me that there were lots of female hands there."

The handprints were created by placing the palm, or possibly the back, of the hand against the cave wall, taking a mouthful of powdered pigment ~ usually red ochre ~ and blowing it, as Michel Lorblanchet showed many years ago. Sometimes a finger appears to be missing. Such absences have been attributed to mutilation, but bending the finger back while spraying the hand with the pigment powder would give the same effect.

Snow believes that many of these hand prints are those of women. In two examples from Castillo, about 28,000 years old, “The very long ring finger on one example is a dead giveaway for male hands,” he said. “The other has a long index finger and a short little finger — thus very feminine.”

Click here for the London Times article.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stone Mug Bears Mysterious Script

The stone mug with its inexplicable carvings.

Ten lines of script carved into a 2,000-year-old stone mug found on Mount Zion are mystifying archaeologists, who believe the inscription may provide details about ancient Jewish life.

"These were common stone mugs that appear in all Jewish households" of the time, lead excavator Shimon Gibson of the University of North Carolina told National Geographic. "But this is the first time an inscription has been found on a stone vessel."

According to National Geographic:

Working on historic Mount Zion ~ site of King David's tomb and the Last Supper ~ the archaeologists found the cup near a ritual pool this summer. The dig site is in what had been an elite residential area near the palace of King Herod the Great, who ruled Israel shortly before the birth of Jesus.

From the objects that surrounded it, Gibson determined that the cup dated from some time between 37 B.C. and A.D. 70, when the Romans nearly destroyed Jerusalem after a Jewish revolt.

Such stone mugs were popular among Jews at the time because of the culture's purity rules. According to tradition, a pottery cup that had been contaminated by contact with a forbidden food had to be broken and discarded, according to National Geographic.

Click here for the National Geographic article.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ancient Origins Found for Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood by Fleury Francois Richard (1777-1852)

It has long been known that popular fairy tales frequently had ancient origins, but new research shows Little Red Riding Hood having roots going back at least 2,600 years.

Using research techniques more commonly associated with biologists ~ called a taxonomic tree of life ~ anthropologists are able to explore these stories' origins in various cultures through various time periods. For example, Dr. Jamie Tehrani, a cultural anthropologist at Durham University, has studied 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood from around the world. According to the London Telegraph:

Whilst the European version tells the story of a little girl who is tricked by a wolf masquerading as her grandmother, in the Chinese version a tiger replaces the wolf. In Iran, where it would be considered odd for a young girl to roam alone, the story features a little boy.

. . . He said: “Over time these folk tales have been subtly changed and have evolved just like a biological organism. Because many of them were not written down until much later, they have been misremembered or reinvented through hundreds of generations. By looking at how these folk tales have spread and changed it tells us something about human psychology and what sort of things we find memorable.

“The oldest tale we found was an Aesopic fable that dated from about the sixth century BC, so the last common ancestor of all these tales certainly predated this. We are looking at a very ancient tale that evolved over time.”

Tehrani has identified 70 variables in plot and characters between different versions of Little Red Riding Hood. The original ancestor is thought to be similar to another tale, The Wolf and the Kids, in which a wolf pretends to be a nanny goat to gain entry to a house full of young goats.

Click here for the article.

Temples Display Precise Astronomical Alignment

Karnak temple hieroglyphs.

Temples in ancient Egypt were aligned so precisely with astronomical events that people could set their political, economic and religious calendars by them, according to a study of 650 temples dating back to 3000 BC.

For example, New Year coincided with the moment that the winter-solstice sun hit the central sanctuary of the Karnak temple in present-day Luxor, archaeological astronomer Juan Belmonte of the Canaries Astrophysical Institute in Tenerife, Spain, explains in an article in New Scientist magazine.

Hieroglyphs on temple walls have hinted at the use of astronomy in temple architecture, including depictions of the "stretching of the cord" ceremony in which the pharaoh marked out the alignment for the temple with string. But there had been little evidence to support the drawings.

"Somebody would have had to go to the prospective site during a solar, stellar or lunar event ~ as we did ~ to mark out the position that the temple axis should take," Belmonte says. "For the most important temples, this may well have been the pharaoh, as the temple drawings show."

Belmonte and Mosalam Shaltout of the Helwan Observatory in Cairo found that the temples are all aligned according to an astronomically significant event, such as a solstice or equinox, or the rising of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lone Male Buried Amidst Moche Priestesses

Gilded mask found beside the tomb of the elite male.

Archaeologists were surprised recently to unearth the remains of a male buried among a bevy of powerful priestesses in a Peruvian pre-Inca Moche tomb. The Moche people were a fragmented society of farmers who occupied the arid coasts of Peru from about 100 to 1000 AD.

According to National Geographic:

Surrounded by early "smoke machines" as well as human and llama bones, the body was among several buried inside a unique double-chambered tomb that dates back to A.D. 850, said archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, of the Catholic University of Peru in Lima.

The tomb contained a wooden coffin decorated with a copper lattice and a gilded mask, sitting on a raised platform. Inside the coffin "is where we find the main object of the burial, and that fellow is a male," Castillo said.

"After 18 years of excavation in San José de Moro, we were expecting another female," he added. "But this tends to happen [in archaeology]—expect the unexpected."

The site has so far yielded seven royal priestess burials, an indication of the powerful role of women in Moche society, Castillo said.

Click here for the National Geographic article and more photos.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Early Stone Figures May Have Been Toys

Three of the 2,000 figures unearthed so far in Catalhoyuk.

Stone Age statues carved from stone and clay 9,000 years ago could have been the world's first educational toys. About 2,000 of them have been unearthed at Catalhoyuk in Turkey ~ the world's oldest known town ~ some as recently as last week.

Made by Neolithic farmers, they depict tiny cattle, sheep and people. According to the London Daily Mail:

In the 1960s, some researchers claimed the more rotund figures were of a mysterious large breasted and big bellied "mother goddess,” prompting a feminist tourism industry that thrives today.

But modern day experts disagree.

They say the "mother goddess" figures ~ which were buried among the rubbish of the Stone Age town ~ are unlikely to be have been religious icons. Many of the figures thought to have been women in the 1960s, are just as likely to be men.

Archaeologist Lynn Meskell of Stanford University said: "The majority are cattle or sheep and goats. They could be representatives of animals they were dealing with ~ and they could have been teaching aides.
"All were found in the trash - and they were not in niches or platforms or placed in burials."

Of the 2,000 figurines dug up at the site, less than five per cent are female, she told the British science Festival in Surrey University, Guildford. "These are things that were made and used on a daily basis. People carried them around and discarded them."

Catalhoyuk is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Established around 7,000 BC, it was home to 5,000 people living in mud brick and plaster houses.

Click here for the Daily Mail article.

Oldest Manmade Fibers Found in Cave

A team of archaeologists and paleobiologists has discovered flax fibers that are more than 34,000 years old, making them the oldest fibers known to have been used by humans. They were found during excavation of a cave in the Republic of Georgia.

The flax could have been used to make linen and thread, researchers say. The cloth and thread would then have been used to fashion garments for warmth, sew leather pieces, make cloths, or tie together packs that might have aided the mobility of our ancient ancestors from one camp to another.

"This was a critical invention for early humans. They might have used this fiber to create parts of clothing, ropes, or baskets ~ for items that were mainly used for domestic activities," says Ofer Bar-Yosef, one of the team leaders. "We know that this is wild flax that grew in the vicinity of the cave and was exploited intensively or extensively by modern humans."

Some of the fibers were twisted, indicating they were used to make ropes or strings. Others had been dyed.

Today, these fibers are not visible to the eye, because the garments and items sewed together with the flax have long ago disintegrated. They were discovered by microscopic examination of samples of clay retrieved from different layers of the cave.

Click here for the Harvard University press release.

Early Depiction of Menorah is Discovered

The seven-branched menorah is carved at the base of this stone.

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered one of the earliest depictions of a menorah ~ the seven-branched candelabra that has come to symbolize Judaism ~ in a 2,000-year-old synagogue recently discovered by the Sea of Galilee.

The synagogue dates to the period of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem, where the actual menorah was kept. A small number of depictions of the menorah have surfaced from the same period, according to the Associated Press, but this one was unique because it was inside a synagogue and far from Jerusalem, illustrating the link between Jews around Jerusalem and in the Galilee to the north.

The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman legions in 70 A.D. Most other depictions of the menorah were made only after the temple's destruction, and if this finding is indeed earlier it could be closer to the original, said Aren Maeir, an archaeology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

"If you have a depiction of the menorah from the time of the temple, chances are it is more accurate and portrays the actual object than portrayals from after the destruction of the temple, when it was not existent," he said.

The menorah, depicted atop a pedestal with a triangular base, is carved on a stone which was placed in the synagogue's central hall.

Click here for the Associated Press article.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Easter Island Hats are Volcanic Rock

The mysterious volcanic hats atop the statues.

Researchers believe they’ve figured out how the remote Easter Islanders were able to place huge rock “hats” on their distinctive statues, but they still don’t know why.

The hats were carved from volcanic rock. "We know the hats were rolled along the road made from a cement of compressed red scoria dust," archaeologist Colin Richards tells the BBC. Each hat weighs several tons, but the reason for the hats remains unknown.

"These hats run all the way down the side of the volcano into the valley,” he says. "We can see they were carefully placed. The closer you get to the volcano, the greater the number.”

Easter Island lies 2,500 miles off the coast of Chile and is one of the world’s most remote places inhabited by people. "The Polynesians saw the landscape as a living thing, and after they carved the rock the spirits entered the statues," Richards adds.

The research team is from the University of Manchester and University College London, the first English archaeologists to work on Easter Island since 1914.

Click here for the BBC article.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monks Trained Eyes for Super-Fine Drawing

The Chi-Rho page from the Book of Kells, circa 800 AD.

A Cornell paleontologist claims to have solved the mystery of how monks in the 7th and 8th centuries could illustrate manuscripts with details comparable to the finest engravings on a modern dollar bill ~ centuries before magnifying lenses were invented.

Some of the geometric designs are so precise that in some places they contain lines less than half a millimeter apart and nearly perfectly reproduced in repeating patterns ~ leading a later scholar to call them "works not of men, but of angels."

According to

The answer, says Cornell paleontologist John Cisne, may be in the eyes of the creators. The Celtic monks evidently trained their eyes to cross above the plane of the manuscript so they could visually superimpose side-by-side elements of a replicated pattern, and thereby, create 3-D images that magnified differences between the patterns up to 30 times.

The monks could then refine any disparities by minimizing the apparent vertical depth of the images ~ ultimately replicating the design element to submillimeter precision. Cisne proposed the idea in the July 17 issue of the journal

The paper suggests that the technique, called free-fusion stereocomparison, which takes advantage of the brain's ability to perceive depth by integrating the slightly different views from each eye, was known nearly a thousand years before it was articulated by stereoscope inventor Sir George Wheatstone in the 19th century.

Cisne analyzed the most detailed illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, created between 670 and 800 AD ~ including the circa 800 Book of Kells ~ where some have as many as 30 lines per centimeter.

Click here for the complete article.
Click on the photo to see much more detail.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Earliest 'Zero' Was Only a Placeholder

Wall of ancient Egyptian numerals at Karnak.

The mathematical concept of zero ~ or at least a “placeholder” zero in the form of two brackets ~ may date back 5,000 years to ancient Sumaria, when its purpose was to enable people to tell 1 from 10 or 100.

But zero actually began functioning as a numerical value in fifth century India, according to Robert Kaplan in his 2000 book The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero. "It isn't until then, and not even fully then, that zero gets full citizenship in the republic of numbers," Kaplan tells Scientific American, adding that some cultures were slow to accept the idea of zero, which for many carried darkly magical connotations.

According to Scientific American, the second appearance of zero occurred independently in the New World, in Mayan culture, likely in the first few centuries A.D. "That, I suppose, is the most striking example of the zero being devised wholly from scratch," Kaplan says.

The number zero as we know it arrived in the West circa 1200, most famously delivered by Italian mathematician Fibonacci (aka Leonardo of Pisa), who brought it, along with the rest of the Arabic numerals, back from his travels to north Africa. But the history of zero, both as a concept and a number, stretches far deeper into history—so deep, in fact, that its provenance is difficult to nail down.

Click here for the complete Scientific American article.
Inset photo shows ancient Babylonian zero as two small wedges.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

DNA May Help Confirm Mayan Battle

Photo taken last week of ruins of a Mayan temple at the El Mirador archaeological site in Guatemala, near the Mexican border. Reuters reports that researchers are performing DNA tests of hundreds of spear tips, arrowheads and bone fragments found here to learn more about a dramatic battle believed to have occurred between a Mayan royal family and invaders from hundreds of miles away. El Mirador until recently has been buried under thick jungle vegetation.

Finding the Tomb of Herod the Great

Ruins of Herod's elaborate palace fortress on Herodium.

A 75-year-old Israeli archaeologist ~ Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University ~ is certain he has solved one of biblical archaeology’s greatest mysteries: locating the tomb of King Herod the Great.

Known for his cruelty as well as architectural achievements, Herod ruled over Judea from 37 to 4 BC. Though the Gospel of Matthew charges him with the infamous “Massacre of the Innocents,” most modern biographers doubt the historical existence of the event.

Herodium is the mountain where Herod is said to have built his fortified palace and final resting place. says:

Long an object of scholarly as well as popular fascination, Herodium, also called Herodion, was first positively identified in 1838 by the American scholar Edward Robinson, who had a knack for locating biblical landmarks. After scaling the mountain and comparing his observations with those of the first century Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus, Robinson concluded that "all these particulars...leave scarcely a doubt, that this was Herodium, where the [Judean] tyrant sought his last repose."

By the late 1800s, Herod's tomb had become one of biblical archaeology's most sought-after prizes. And for more than a century archaeologists scoured the site. Finally, in 2007, Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University announced that after 35 years of archaeological work he had found Herod's resting place. The news made headlines worldwide.

Netzer, one of Israel's best-known archaeologists, in 1976 led a team that discovered the site of one of Herod's infamous misdeeds: the murder of his brother-in-law, Aristobulus, whom Herod ordered to be drowned in a pool at his winter palace complex near Jericho. The discovery of Herod's tomb, however, is Netzer's most celebrated find.

Click here for the complete Smithsonian account, with more photos.

Herod on his throne, as depicted by Guiseppe Fattori in 1856.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Research Points to Harappan Script as Language

A Harappan seal circa 2400 B.C. from the Indus Valley.

The ancient Indus Valley civilization was in many ways highly sophisticated, but its language has proven so impenetrable that some scholars have speculated the entire society was illiterate. But new research on the Harappan script using computer technology seems to be proving otherwise.

The 4,500-year-old urban culture covered 300,000 square miles in modern day Pakistan and northwestern India. Digs at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa have revealed a sophisticated society. According to Time magazine:

But the Indus Valley civilization poses an intractable problem, one which a legion of archaeologists and scientists have puzzled over from the first excavations to a new study published last month. Its writing, etched in signs on tiny, intricate seals and tablets, remains undeciphered, shrouding the ancient culture in mystery. A code-busting artifact with bilingual text, like the Rosetta Stone, has yet to be found.

By some counts, over 100 decipherments of the civilization's often anthropomorphic runes and signs ~ known in the field as the Harappan script ~ have been attempted over the decades, none with great success.

Scientists using computer modeling and probability testing now have “determined the Harappan script had a similar measure of conditional entropy to other writing systems, including English, Sanskrit and Sumerian. If it mathematically looked and acted like writing, they concluded, then surely it is writing.”

Click here for the complete Time magazine article.

Ancient Egyptian Fragment Points to Israel Ties

English and Israeli archeologists have discovered a rare, four-centimeter-long stone fragment at the point where the Jordan River exits Lake Kinneret. The piece ~ part of a carved stone plaque bearing archaic Egyptian signs ~ depicts an arm and hand grasping a scepter and an early form of the ankh sign.

It is the first artifact of its type ever found in an archaeological site outside Egypt and has been attributed to the period of Egypt's First Dynasty, at around 3000 BC.

Earlier discoveries, both in Egypt and at Bet Yerah, have indicated that there was direct interaction between the Israel site and the Egyptian royal court. The new discovery suggests that these contacts were of far greater local significance than had been suspected.

Click here for the Jerusalem Post article.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Human Remains Deepen Macedonian Mysery

The burial vessels found in Aigai, one of which contained human remains.

Archaeologists have unearthed a lavish burial site at the seat of the ancient Macedonian kings, pointing to a 2,300-year-old mystery of murder and political intrigue. The find in the ruins of Aigai in northern Greece is only yards from last year's discovery of what could be the bones of Alexander the Great's murdered teenage son.

According to the Associated Press:

Archaeologists are puzzled because both sets of remains were buried under very unusual circumstances: Although cemeteries existed near the site, the bones were taken from an unknown first resting place and re-interred, against all ancient convention, in the heart of the city.

Excavator Chrysoula Saatsoglou-Paliadeli said in an interview that the bones found this week were inside one of two large silver vessels unearthed in the ancient city's marketplace, close to the theater where Alexander's father, King Philip II, was murdered in 336 B.C. She said they arguably belonged to a Macedonian royal and were buried at the end of the 4th century B.C.

But it is too early to speculate on the dead person's identity, pending tests to determine the bones' sex and age, said Saatsoglou-Paliadeli, a professor of classical archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Saatsoglou-Paliadeli believes the teenager's bones found in 2008 may have belonged to Heracles, Alexander's illegitimate son who was murdered during the wars of succession around 309 B.C. and buried in secret. The remains had been placed in a gold jar, with an elaborate golden wreath.

Click here for the complete AP article.