Saturday, December 25, 2010

Magi Revelations Translated from Ancient Text

The first English translation of a 1,700-year-old text ~ Revelation of the Magi ~ contends that Jesus told the Magi he has come to earth many times.

"Christ tells them, 'This is one of many occasions on which I have appeared to the peoples of the world,'" Brent Landau, teacher of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told ABC News. "So this text may even be saying that there are no non-Christian religions because Christ is the revelation behind everything."

Landau ~ author of The Revelations of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men's Journey to Bethlehem ~ hypothesizes that the text is a sort of lost message about them from an early Christian community. "I think the thing that stunned me the most was what it seemed to be suggesting about the scope of Christ's revelation, if you will," he said.

The original text tells of the Magi’s trip to Bethlehem, probably along the Spice Road from China, and finding the infant in a cave. "The cave is filled with light," Landau said, describing the transcribed text. "They're kind of hesitant about this, but eventually the star...its light concentrates and reveals the small luminous human being, a star child, if you will ~ it's Christ."

Click here for the article that elaborates on the video above.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mayan Temples Could Have Been Amplifiers

Temples in the northern section of Palenque ruins.

Ancient Mayan buildings may have been design to amplify sounds to either enthrall or disorient audiences. Temples at the Mayan city of Palenque in central Mexico, for example, might have formed a kind of acoustic public-address system, projecting sound across great distances, according to a team led by archaeologist Francisca Zalaquett of the Unisersidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

According to National Geographic:
Zalaquett's team recently discovered that Palenque's Northern Group of public squares and temples—built around roughly A.D. 600—is especially good at projecting the human voice as well as sounds like those that would have been made by musical instruments found at the site. 
Performers and priests may have stood atop these temples or in specialized projection rooms, which still exist, to broadcast songs and chants throughout the squares. The Maya are known to have to held public rites to commemorate enthronements, births of nobles, and war victories as well as to honor deities, Zalaquett said. 
The acoustics may have even been purposely enhanced by the strategic application of stucco coatings, Zalaquett's findings suggest. Measurements at some of the buildings still bearing stucco suggest it may have changed the absorption and reflection of sounds.

Click here for the complete article.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Older Chinese Town May Lie Beneath Ancient One

Ceramic tiles recovered in 2003 from the 2,000-year-old site.

Archaeologists are hoping that sediment from a Yellow River flood has preserved a buried town as well as it did a smaller one discovered in 2003 in Sanyangzhuang in central China. The discovery in 2003 included four walled houses, wells, toilets, ponds and trees, all dating back more than 2,000 years to the Han Dynasty.

Efforts now are focused also on evidence of an even older agricultural field lying deeper than the 2003 discovery, plus the possibility of an even older and larger town buried about two miles away. “If these are preserved in the same way the houses are, it would really turn out to be a staggering development,” says Tristram Kidder of Washington University.

According to Discover News, the 2003 find was buried intact by 28 inches of flood sediments, which formed a protective layer over the village. Kidder thinks massive flooding from the Yellow River hit so quickly that people left behind everything, from large grinding stones to tiny coins.

Click here for the article.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pompeii Skeletons Point to Earlier Syphilis

Erotic scene from a Pompeii fresco.

Ongoing examination of a group of skeletons dating to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD is revealing considerable new information about early Roman life in Pompeii. The skeletons are the remains of a group of about 50 Pompeii residents who tried to escape the eruption by hiding in a basement storeroom filled with pomegranates.

Among the new findings are that syphilis likely existed in Pompeii, which overturns the previous belief that the disease was unknown in Europe before it was transmitted in the late 1400s by Columbus’s sailors.

Also, the skeletons show that people were taller than earlier believed and that their lifespans were longer.

Click here for the complete BBC article plus some videos.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Area of Early Civilization Now Beneath Persian Gulf?

Now submerged area may be where moderns first interacted with Neanderthals.

Land now submerged under the Persian Gulf may have supported some of the earliest humans outside Africa some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago. The floodplain now under water would have been about the size of Great Britain, shrinking as water flooded the area. Then, about 8,000 years ago, the land would have been swallowed up by the Indian Ocean, researchers now say.

A new research study, detailed in the December issue of the journal Current Anthropology, has broad implications for aspects of human history. According to
For instance, scientists have debated over when early modern humans exited Africa, with dates as early as 125,000 years ago and as recent as 60,000 years ago (the more recent date is the currently accepted paradigm), according to study researcher Jeffrey Rose, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham in the U.K.
"I think Jeff's theory is bold and imaginative, and hopefully will shake things up," Robert Carter of Oxford Brookes University in the U.K. told LiveScience. "It would completely rewrite our understanding of the out-of-Africa migration. It is far from proven, but Jeff and others will be developing research programs to test the theory. 
Viktor Cerny of the Archaeogenetics Laboratory, the Institute of Archaeology, in Prague, called Rose's finding an "excellent theory," in an email to LiveScience, though he also points out the need for more research to confirm it.
"Given the presence of Neanderthal communities in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates River, as well as in the eastern Mediterranean region, this may very well have been the contact zone between moderns and Neanderthals," Rose told LiveScience.

Click here for the complete article.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Arabic Island Site Reveals Early Christianity

Portion of the island's Christian-settlement dig site.

Remains of a Christian monastery and church on Sir Bani Yas Island in the Arabian Gulf, believed to have been settled around 600 AD by a community of 40 monks, is now open to the public. Unearthed in the early 1990s, the site has valuable historical and religious significance.

"Twenty years ago, we had no idea that Christians came this far south and east in the Arabian Gulf," Dr Joseph Elders, the project's archaeological director, who began excavating the site nearly two decades ago, told The National. "This shows that Christianity had penetrated far further than we thought before. We don't have many monasteries from this period."

The monastery complex, a multi-building compound located on the eastern side of the 87-square-kilometre island, is the only pre-Islamic Christian site known in the UAE. Discovered in 1992 during an archaeological survey, the monastery is believed to have been an important destination for pilgrims travelling along a trade route to India.

"We think quite a lot of visitors came to the monastery," said Dr Elders. "These people wanted to be visited."

Christianity spread throughout the Gulf between the years 50 and 350, following the trade routes. The inhabitants of the 7th-century settlement probably belonged to the Nestorian Church, or Church of the East. Researchers believe the wealthy community was made up of a mixture of people from along the Gulf, and local residents who spoke Syriac and Arabic.

Click here for the complete article.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ballgame Park Likely Mentioned in Sacred Book

A section of the Tonina Ballgame court.

A ritual ballgame park in the Mayan city of Tonina ~ today known as Chiapas in Mexico ~ is likely the one described 1,500 years ago in the sacred book of the Mayas, the Popol Vuh. Newest evidence is the discovery of two scuptures there in the shapes of serpent’s heads and used as part of the ballgame.

Discovery of the two sculptures brings to four similar objects that have appeared since 1992, all of them in Palacio del Inframundo (Underworld Palace), at the Acropolis of Tonina. 

Archaeologist Juan Yadeun Angulo, responsible for the Tonina Archaeological Project, told “With this discovery, the Tonina Ballgame court, 70 meters long, becomes the only example in Mexico of how these ritual spaces were in the Classic period (200-900 AD), whose scoreboards were animal-shaped monuments.”

According to Yadeun, sculptures of snake heads were attached to the lateral walls of the court until 688 AD, representing the myth mentioned in Popol Vuh regarding astral movement, specifically the equinoxes, solstices and the Ecliptic, which is the orbit described by the Earth in its movement around the Sun.

Click here for the complete article.