Archeology Headlines of July 2010
Ancient Civilizations 7/29/10
By: Yona Williams
Researchers of today learn a great deal from ancient civilizations. For example, this article mentions one of the discoveries in ancient Mayan temples, which can lead to producing stronger materials in the present. Other information mentioned includes the discovery of an ancient ceremonial hall in Peru.
Key to Long-Lasting Dye
Thanks to the help of X-rays, the secrets of ancient Mayan dye have led physicists to create a dye that has the potential to last for a thousand years. Decorating the walls of ancient Mayan temple, a pigment of a brilliant blue hue still survives to this day. The pigment is so impressive that it has survived for centuries despite being in an environment as harsh as a jungle. Copying the formula that the Mayans used could lead to a host of new materials.
With years of experience using X-rays to study historical objects, a group of French physicists use beams of fine-tuned rays from a synchrotron machine to study the patterns and composition of ancient materials. This type of X-ray machine is much stronger than the one that you find at your dentist's office.
The technology that the X-ray offers has allowed scientists to take a closer look at cosmetics from ancient Egypt, pottery from Rome, and Renaissance paintings. The machine also makes it easier to recreate some of the materials from the ancient world.
The pigment in question was used for artworks and during rituals meant to bring rains. Over the years, the dye has withstood heat, light, and the natural wear and tear of the environment and climate. In the lab, researchers learned that strong acids and solvents did not destroy the pigment.
Ancient Ceremonial Hall Found in Peru
In northern Peru, archaeologists have come across what looks like a ceremonial hall that once served as a location for human sacrifice to take place. Decorated with murals, the hall also revealed more than half a dozen skeletons on the floor. With this find, archeologists are able to shed more light and confirm previous theories regarding the existence of a ceremony called "the presentation".
Archeologists state that this site is one where the Moche (a pre-Columbian civilization from between 100 BC and 800 AD) carried out ritual killings that took the lives of prisoners of war. Some of the features of the hall include a corridor measuring 60 meters long that opens up to reveal three equidistant porticos and five thrones found on the main pyramid of the archeological site. Details of one of the existing murals found at the site show three high priests embellished with decoration that indicates their link to the politics and culture.
Pre-Columbian Burial Ground
Archeologists have found a pre-Columbian burial ground that dates back 800 years ago. The funeral complex found in the Tres Rios district is comprised of river stones and slabs. Baskets were also found at the site, which were made out of plant fiber. Inside, 26 sets of human bones belonging to children and adults were uncovered. Other discoveries include nearly 100 artifacts created from stone and ceramics.