Ancient Oddities

Cool, yet unsettling, green serpentine mask.
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Hello and welcome to antiquity! Tonight, for your edification and amusement, we collect a number of heretofore unheard and unseen mysteries, and attempt to unlock the secrets of the ages! Get ready to expand your mind from the comfort of your couch, as we delve into time itself.

Pre-history

Ever chewed gum in class and stuck the used wad under the table? Millennia from now, scientists may use it to learn amazing information about you: Scientists Reconstruct a Woman After Finding Her DNA In 5,700-Year-Old ‘Chewing Gum’

(This, by the way, reminds me of a favourite piece of micro-fiction I wrote, concerning steak-and-kidney pies and DNA…)

Bronze Age

We sometimes tend to “compress” history — apes came down from the trees, settled in caves, planted some seeds, and voila! Pyramids, the Parthenon, and the Roman empire pop up all over the place.

Hold your chariots… There was quite a bit in between, and things took an interminable amount of time. I’m doing some research into the Bronze age (for another project — or maybe just for fun…), so here are some interesting articles that might tickle your fancy about this early period in history, a period that brought us things like the Trojan War, the heyday of Egypt, and the civilisations of Mesopotamia.

So, first, a bit about social structures and daily life during the time: Social Inequality, Marriage Habits And Other Clues To Bronze Age Life Revealed In New Study

You can also see archaeological of the (usually more talked about) battles in the Discovery Of Bronze Age Warrior’s Kit Sheds New Light On An Epic Prehistoric Battle.

Over in Egypt the Colossi of Memnon are well-known statues which have survived for 3,400 years. Besides the mis-identification with Memnon (the Ethiopian hero from the Trojan War) instead of Amenhotep III, there were acoustic wonders attached to them! Some time in the first century BC an earthquake cracked the statues. Ever since, a keening howl could be heard every morning — Memnon’s lament.

You can also watch a short segment about it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0623dm5, where Mary Beard also talks about the graffiti that a certain Julia Balbila had chilled on the statues (this was no fly-by-night graffiti — her mediocre poetry had to be chiselled into the hard granite!)

(Side note: For those who read In Numina and remember the vivid scenes with the statue of the boxer, here’s Mary beard talking about it and examining it in detail! https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0607dlm)

Regrettably, this was lost in the 3rd century when someone tried to fix the statues as a way to appeal to the emperor, and in the process removed the cause of the sound. Still, for a (historical-)fantasy authors that can be quite the imagination spark!

Another thing that the Colossi are known for — or rather, on the bases of several statues behind them — is the Aegean List, a testament to the interconnectedness and globalisation of the ancient world.

This all collapses at the late Bronze Age, often blamed on the mysterious “Sea People”. It was followed by a period of dark ages, a period with little known about it. For example, Homer wrote the Iliad on the other side of this dark ages, several centuries after the Trojan Wars. It’s like Renaissance poets writing on King Arthur.

Here’s an interesting lecture about the grandness of the late bronze age and the collapse of this globally-connected world, based on a book I intend to read soon:

Oh, and BTW, we keep learning new things: Shipwreck on Nile vindicates Greek historian’s account after 2,500 years. Two and a half millennia ago, Herodotus described a ship on the Nile, of which no archaeological record existed. Archaeologists relegated it to one of his fanciful accounts, but a recent find shows he was speaking about a real thing.

And while we’re on the subject of Herodotus’s accuracy: Herodotus Is A Big, Fat Liar … And Better Than Any Historian You Have Ever Read. While Thucydides, a contemporary of Herodotus, wrote an as unbiased account of the Peloponnesian War as possible, Herodotus wrote any hearsay and wild tale he came across — providing future fantasy authors with a great resource 😉

Medieval

Templar tunnels were recently discovered in Acre: https://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/tunnels-that-may-have-been-used-to-transport-the-knights-templars-lost-fortune-discovered/
I go to Israel to visit family every couple of years, but we haven’t made it to Acre recently. Seems like we have a good excuse now 🙂

Just plain odd

Because it’s not just the ancients that were odd…

The Devil Heads — Two monstrous faces loom over a village in Czechia.

I’m sure there’s a story behind this, but I doubt we’ll learn anything outside the realm of occult-inspired fantasy: Infant Skeletons Wearing ‘Helmets’ Made Of Other Children’s Skulls Stun Archaeologists

Or this one, for that matter: Fifth-century child’s skeleton shows evidence of “vampire burial”. You could probably combine these two links (regardless of the extreme geographical separation), to come up with something intense, probably involving aliens.

And lastly, I’ll leave you with a couple of what are clearly magical artefacts from the Elder Eons. Their usage is obscured by time, so one has no option but to try them on:


Thank you for staying with me, and sharing my journey into the oddities of the past. Clearly I’m still blogging, which means my plan to put on the Serpentine Mask, wield the Crystal Dagger, and become one with the gods as they rise again has not come to fruition. Yet.

If you’d like to help me on my quest of unlocking ancient horrors from beyond archaeological mysteries, why not get a copy of my books? You’ll be financing my expeditions (and following bail), and get some good entertainment in between.

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