Temporal [A Short Story]

He’d taken her to many of his favourite places and times and she, in turn, had showed him her own favourite places and times. That day, while technically arbitrary since they both possessed the means of temporal traversal, was a milestone for Claire, prompting James to plan a series of connected temporal jumps to celebrate.

The viscous pop that preceded and followed every jump slapped the inside of his head as the thin vacuumed layer an atom thick clicked from present to past, or rather alternate present that just happened to be the former present’s past. The instantaneous jump was always disorienting and he sneezed. It was always the ionized scent of the new time that James noticed first as the single atom field dissolved around him and the native particles of the new time rushed in to to fill the void.

Claire laughed. “Every time.”

Every time,” James smirked, rubbing his nose.

They’d just come from cursing out Cicero in English (which of course he would not understand) for writing the five books of the Tusculan Disputations which Claire had to translate from Latin into English in her graduate studies. The confusion on Cicero’s brow at this blonde robed woman barking at him in an unusual tongue would be a hard experience to top.

Still smiling from the high of going off on Cicero, Claire looked around trying to guess when James had jumped them to now. This trip was to be a surprise to her and he’d made her promise not to check the holographic read out that would project the data against the skin of her arm. She agreed not to check.

So we’re on an island,” Her furrowed brow scanned the horizon of azure sea beyond the green capped cliffs that fell off sharply in front of her. She swung around to look behind her and smiled. “I’ve spent a lot of time here. I should recognize this place.”

Claire looked up at James and he beamed back: “Yah, but when.”

The island stretched 200 km from east to west and varied from 12 to 58 km from north to south.

Are we standing where Heraklion should be?”

Well, it won’t be for a very very long time, but yes,” he followed behind her and his heart hummed from the glow in her eyes as she scanned the untouched contours of a Crete.

Is that …” she started to ask and then started to walk toward a mound of dirt James had hoped she wouldn’t notice. “That’s recently disturbed soil.”

Oh wow, good eye,” James smirked. “You actually weren’t supposed to notice that. I came here earlier and …” he paused. “Actually … spoilers. You’ll find out later.”

The trees!” Claire said, gape mouthed. “It’s completely deforested now … well … in the present it will be completely deforested. Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, the Aegean Islands, and the Greek mainland all commercially exploited Crete for timber. So I’m going to say we’re 2700 BCE.”

Close,” James clicked his wrist and a holographic beam projected the time stats on the skin of his wrist. “2796 BCE.”

So roughly three hundred years before the great Minoan civilization,” she said, eyes lapping up the reality that had before been merely ink on paper inside a textbook.

They walked together around the rim of the island before arriving back at the disturbed soil where James instructed her to close her eyes so he could sync up their time circuits to arrive at the same point in time.

Ready?” He smiled.

You didn’t say I could look yet,” she smirked.

You can look,” he said.

Oh good,” she started to check her wrist.

You can open your eyes, not check the time circuits,” James laughed.

Well, you should’ve been more specific.”

I’ll remember that. Ready?”

Ready?”

There was a slow hum of energy and then that disorienting pop and another wave of new smells.

James sneezed.

Ever-“

Everytime,” James interrupted her. “Well, here we are.”

And when is here?” There was a smaller settlement where the present, (future), city of Heraklion would’ve been.

What’s your guess?” He started to move to a space of soil behind Claire and seemed to be looking for something.

Claire was busily surveying the rocky outcroppings that sunk away into the sea beyond the lip of the cliff in front of her.

When she turned she saw it.

Oh my god,” she sighed.

Right?” James stood up from his digging and followed Claire’s gaze to where the first palace on the low hill beside the Krairatos river jutted out from the island’s horizon.

So we’re before 1700 BCE. Before the destruction of the palace and the other Protopalatial palaces around Crete,” she still hadn’t blinked yet. “Was it a large earthquake or foreign invaders?”

What am I? A time traveller?” James shrugged. “It’s ready.”

What’s ready?”

Exactly,” James was pointing down to a space of dirt at his feet and handed her a 4 inch trowel.

It wasn’t that far below the surface and Claire quickly excavated what turned out to be a small plastic tub. It contained photographs from their visit to the Chicago jazz club Apex Club in 1927 where they danced the Charleston. Another was from the time they went to the 1897 General Art and Industrial Exposition of Stockholm where they saw exposition of “new” media technologies such as the phonograph, and film. One showed Claire with gymnast Natalia Kuchinskaya performing her floor routine in the background at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico.

These are wonderful,” she cooed. “Thank you.”

There’s one more thing in there,” he pointed to the bottom of the plastic tub.

It was a voice recorder. She pressed play and the machine in her hand whirred to life.

James’ familiar voice was singing her Happy Birthday.

That was Beethoven playing piano, ” he said afterward as she hugged him. “Happy Thirtieth Birthday, Claire.”

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Facts About Sparta’s Women

Via Heritage Key

Skimpy clothes - if not quite as skimpy as those sported by Lena Headey in '300' - were commonly worn by women in Sparta. It was just one of many freedoms they enjoyed which weren't shared by their Athenian sisters.

As documented in the article ‘Woman of Sparta: Tough Mothers’, Spartan women enjoyed all kinds of rights not shared by their Athenian sisters – albeit plenty of plights too.  Sparta’s unique social system and constitution, which was completely focused on military training and excellence, afforded females a level of freedom and responsibility uncommon in the classical world – as child bearers, they were vital to replenishing the ranks of an army that suffered an almost constant stream of casualties; with so many men constantly away at war, they were crucial to running their households and the community at large.

Yet, Spartan women were also subjected to brutal and demeaning rituals and rites, in what was a cruel and strange society. Their glorious duty in life was to facilitate the fiercely macho city state’s status as the prominent military power in Greece, or die trying. The only family and the only love they were allowed to know was Sparta itself.

Here we count down key facts, good and bad, about Sparta’s fairer sex.

1. They Were Citizens of Sparta

This was a crucial factor in Spartan women’s relative empowerment. Unlike the perioikoi, an autonomous group of free inhabitants of Sparta, or Helots, state-owned serfs, essentially slaves, women of Sparta were considered Spartiates – that is, full citizens of the city state. They were exempt from manual labour, could own land, amass wealth and were entitled to an education.

2. They Could Dress Daringly

They probably weren’t quite as revealing as some of the dental-floss sized outfits sported by Lena Headey in her role as Queen Gorgo in300, but certainly Spartan women’s dresses were notoriously skimpy for their age, allowing them to flash not just leg but thigh too. This was deemed acceptable since women, like men, were expected to be models of physical fitness and proud of it. Spartans believed that the stronger the Spartan mother, the stronger the son. Long hair was banned though.

3. They Had to Give Up Their Sons at a Young Age

As much as it was an honour for a woman to bear a child in Sparta – particularly a boy – it was also an incredible emotional burden. For starters, in a society that practiced eugenics – that is, the process of trying to improve a race’s genetic makeup by killing off inferior children – a baby needed to be deemed fit enough to live by a council of elders. If it failed, it would be left out to die. Male children that passed the test would be wrenched from their mothers when they reached just seven years old, and placed in theagoge – an extremely harsh educational system preparing them as soldiers.

4. The First Ever Female to Win Gold at the Olympics Was a Spartan

Just about every event at the modern day Olympics has a men’s and women’s category, but it wasn’t always so. At the ancient games, the Olympics were originally exclusively for male competitors. The Spartans, who – unlike the Athenians and other Greeks – prided their women’s physical prowess and skill, changed that. Spartan princess Cynisca became the first ever female Olympic victor when she won the four-horse chariot race not just once but twice, in 396 BC and then again in 392 BC.

5. They Expected Their Sons to Triumph or Die on the Battlefield

“They would tell their sons as they saw them off into battle to return ‘with their shield, or on it’.”

A famous quote by a Spartan woman, recorded by Plutarch, is that they would tell their sons as they saw them off into battle to return “with their shield, or on it.” That is: shield in hand and triumphant, or carried on their shield, dead.

Plutarch also gives various accounts of Spartan women murdering their sons if they showed cowardice, or celebrating their deaths if they occurred on the battlefield. Clearly the ethos of Sparta was ingrained deep into women’s minds.

6. A Spartan Woman’s Greatest Honour Was to Die During Childbirth

There was only one way a Spartan man was entitled to have his name etched into his headstone, and that was if he died in battle. The equivalent death for a woman was deemed to be while performing her divine duty to Sparta – giving birth. Therefore, only women who passed away while in labour were allowed to have their names recorded on their graves and be remembered immortally.

7. They Were in Competition to Bear the Most Sons

It wasn’t quite Soviet Russia – where women were awarded a medal for giving birth to more than 10 children – but Sparta too had a system for hailing mothers with the strongest and most fertile wombs. If a Spartan female gave birth to three or more sons, she was rewarded special privileges and status, similar to veteran soldiers who had triumphed on the battlefield several times.

8. They Had to Make Love in Secret

The Spartans weren’t shy or conservative when it came to sex – Spartan men were openly encouraged to have sexual relations with other men and young boys as a means of strengthening masculine bonds. But sex with women was considered to be exclusively for the purpose of fathering children.

It was subject to all kinds of strange rules and rituals – one of which was that all liaisons between husbands and wives had to be conducted secretly. The idea was that, since contact would be limited, sexual desires would be heightened and potency increased, resulting in healthier offspring.

9. They Were Major Landowners

As mentioned above, because Spartan women were full citizens, they could own land. And own it they did, in massive amounts – perhaps as much as a third of all of Sparta at one stage. Every Spartan male was allotted a portion of land, called a kláros orklēros, upon completing military service. When he died, this would be passed to his male heir if he had one, but if not, then his daughter profited. Property was shared between married couples, meaning wives could also inherit from their husbands. It was theirs to keep, tend, and profit from even if they divorced.

10. Spartan Women Caused the Decline of Spartan Society?

Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that a contributing factor in Sparta’s decline around the late 4th century BC was that Spartan husbands had become so dominated by their wives. He alleged that Spartan womens’ ability to acquire wealth and land, coupled with the fact that they lived – as he put it – “in every sort of intemperance and luxury” while the male population all the while dwindled, caused disorder to reign in a city state that needed militaristic discipline to survive.

_______________

About The Author

Malcolm Jack

Malcolm Jack (follow me: e-mail or RSS feed for MalcolmJ)
Malcolm Jack is a freelance arts and entertainment journalist based in Glasgow, Scotland. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2004 with an MA Honours Degree in History.

Bonging with the Bard: Shakespeare Smoked Marijuana?

Via Harvard Magazine

Perhaps the second-most-cultivated plant in Elizabethan England, after wheat, was hemp—Cannabis sativa, also known as marijuana. The sovereign herself encouraged its growth. Hemp fibers were fashioned into rope, paper, garments, and sails. “Queen Elizabeth’s navy ran on that stuff,” says Clay professor of scientific archaeology Nikolaas J. van der Merwe, who recently helped focus high technology on fragments unearthed from a literary dig to suggest that the Elizabethans may also have smoked marijuana for its mind-altering effects. One smoker may even have been William Shakespeare.

With colleagues Francis Thackeray and Tommie van der Merwe (not a relation), van der Merwe analyzed scrapings from the bowls and stems of 24 pipes dug from sites in and about Stratford-on-Avon. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust provided fragments of kaolin (white clay) pipes, some unearthed from the garden at Shakespeare’s residence and all dating from the 1600s. “There’s an archaeological dating system for pipes, based on shape and the diameters of the bowl, stem, and stem bore,” van der Merwe explains. “I scraped things out of them—mostly soil—but you could see little black flecks on the inside of the bowls.”

When subjected to a chemical assay using gas chromatography and a mass spectrometer—as summarized in the South African Journal of Science—these flecks proved most interesting. Though cannabis itself degrades fairly quickly, cannabidiol and cannabinol are stable combustion products produced when it burns. (Van der Merwe has detected these substances in 600-year-old Ethiopian pipes.) Eight of the 24 pipe fragments showed evidence suggestive of such marijuana-related compounds.

Unexpectedly, cocaine also appeared on two specimens, including one from the Stratford home of John Harvard’s mother. Cocaine was introduced from South America to Europe during the sixteenth century, the authors explain, “initially through Spanish conquistadors who in turn were raided by English explorers such as Sir Francis Drake, a contemporary of Shakespeare.” Other pipes showed nicotine, implying the smoking of another New World plant, tobacco.

While no one knows whether Shakespeare himself smoked any of the pipes in question, the data of course provide fodder for speculation. The researchers muse on the phrase “noted weed” in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 76, which also mentions “compounds strange.” They ask if the “Tenth Muse” of Sonnet 38 might refer to chemical inspiration.

Scholars like Cogan University Professor Stephen Greenblatt, an authority on Shakespeare and general editor of the Norton Shakespeare, are amused but not persuaded. “I suppose it’s remotely possible that Shakespeare and his family were getting a buzz from what they were smoking, but I very much doubt that it played any meaningful role in his life,” Greenblatt says. “Shakespeare never mentions pipes, tobacco, or smoking anywhere in his poems or plays, in contrast with Edmund Spenser and other writers of the period. Alcohol is a much more likely stimulant for Shakespeare’s imagination, and even that is probably unimportant. The seventeenth-century gossip John Aubrey described Shakespeare as not much of a partygoer—when he was invited to a debauch, he’d beg off, saying he was in pain. More likely, he was working on another play.”

~Craig Lambert

The Story Behind the World’s Oldest Museum, Built by a Babylonian Princess 2,500 Years Ago

Via I09.com

In 1925, archaeologist Leonard Woolley discovered a curious collection of artifacts while excavating a Babylonian palace. They were from many different times and places, and yet they were neatly organized and even labeled. Woolley had discovered the world’s first museum.

It’s easy to forget that ancient peoples also studied history – Babylonians who lived 2,500 years ago were able to look back on millennia of previous human experience. That’s part of what makes the museum of Princess Ennigaldi so remarkable. Her collection contained wonders and artifacts as ancient to her as the fall of the Roman Empire is to us. But it’s also a grim symbol of a dying civilization consumed by its own vast history.

The Archaeologist

Ennigaldi’s museum was just one of many remarkable finds made by Leonard Woolley, generally considered to be among the first of the modern archaeologists. Born in London in 1880, Woolley studied at Oxford before becoming the assistant keeper at the school’s Ashmolean Museum. It was there that Arthur Evans – himself a renowned archaeologist for his work with the Minoan civilization on the Greek island of Crete – decided that Woolley would be of more use out in the field, and so Evans sent him to Rome to begin his excavating career.

The story behind the world's oldest museum, built by a Babylonian princess 2,500 years agoAlthough Woolley had a longstanding interest in excavation, he had little or no formal training in how to actually go about doing it. He would be left to teach himself on the job, and many of the techniques and approaches he came up with would prove hugely influential to future archaeologists. Just before the outbreak of World War I, he excavated the ancient Hittite city of Carchemish alongside his younger colleague T.E. Lawrence, who would soon cast aside his archaeological career for his more famous role as…well, as Lawrence of Arabia. You can see the two together in the photo on the left.

But it was Woolley’s work in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur that would really cement his legacy. Beginning in 1922, Woolley excavated huge swaths of an ancient city-state that had endured for thousands of years, from the ancient Sumerian civilization of 3000 BCE to the Neo-Babylonian Empire of 500 BCE. One of his biggest discoveries – you might call it the Sumerian equivalent of King Tut’s tomb – was the tomb of Shubad, a woman of great importance in 27th century Sumer whose tomb had remained undisturbed through the ensuing 4,600 years.

However, it was the discovery of something from the very end of Ur’s existence that interests us in this particular case. And for that, we might as well go straight to the words of Leonard Woolley himself.

The Discovery

The story behind the world's oldest museum, built by a Babylonian princess 2,500 years agoIn his book Ur of the Chaldees, Woolley recounts his excavations of a palace complex in Ur. This particular palace dated to the very end of the city-state’s long history, right before the absorption of its territories into the Persian Empire and the eventual abandonment of the city around 500 BCE. This was the time of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, and while Babylon was (unsurprisingly) the capital of this empire, the now ancient city of Ur was still important both for its strategic location near the Persian Gulf and for its legacy as a once great power.

As Woolley explains in his book, he and his team were quite confident that they were excavating Ur from its latest period, which is why the artifacts they found in one particular chamber (a photo of which is on the left) made so little sense:

Suddenly the workmen brought to light a large oval-topped black stone whose top was covered with carvings in relief and its sides with inscriptions; it was a boundary-stone recording the position and the outlines of a landed property, with a statement as to how it came legally into the owner’s hands and a terrific curse on whosoever should remove his neighbor’s landmark or deface or destroy the record.

Now, this stone belonged to the Kassite period of about 1400 BC Almost touching it was a fragment of a statue, a bit of the arm of a human figure on which was an inscription, and the fragment had been carefully trimmed so as to make it look neat and to preserve the writing; and the name on the statue was that of Dungi, who was king of Ur in 2058 BC. Then came a clay foundation-cone of a Larsa king of about 1700 BC, then a few clay tablets of about the same date, and a large votive stone mace-head which was uninscribed but may well have been more ancient by five hundred years.

What were we to think? Here were half a dozen diverse objects found lying on an unbroken brick pavement of the sixth century BC, yet the newest of them was seven hundred years older than the pavement and the earliest perhaps sixteen hundred.

In this single room, Woolley had discovered at least 1,500 years of history all jumbled together, a bit like if you randomly found a Roman statue and a piece of medieval masonry while cleaning out your closet. Left to their own devices, these objects would never be found together like this. Somebody had messed around with these artifacts – they just couldn’t have guessed how long ago and to what purpose that tampering took place.

The Museum

The story behind the world's oldest museum, built by a Babylonian princess 2,500 years agoIt quickly dawned on Woolley that this might actually be an ancient museum, the 6th century BCE equivalent of the sorts of institutions that were now sponsoring him. Indeed, a key piece of evidence was how the artifacts were arranged – while they were all mixed up from a temporal perspective, whoever had brought these items together had done so with considerable care and attention.

What sealed the deal was the discovery of the world’s earliest known museum label. In his book, Woolley describes finding clay cylinders in the chamber, each with text written in three different languages, including the language of ancient Sumerian and the more modern (for the period) late Semitic language. He quotes one of these descriptions, along with a rather wry appraisal of what was said:

“These,” it said, “are copies from bricks found in the ruins of Ur, the work of Bur-Sin king of Ur, which while searching for the ground-plan [of the temple] the Governor of Ur found, and I saw and wrote out for the marvel of beholders.”

The scribe, alas! was not so learned as he wished to appear, for his copies are so full of blunders as to be almost unintelligible, but he had doubtless done his best, and he certainly had given us the explanation we wanted. The room was a museum of local antiquities…and in the collection was this clay drum, the earliest museum label known, drawn up a hundred years before and kept, presumably together with the original bricks, as a record of the first scientific excavations at Ur.

Sure, Woolley didn’t think much of the scribe’s attention to detail. But he was man enough to admit when he had been beaten to the punch – and in this case, he readily acknowledged that archaeology in Ur had been thriving about 2,500 years before he had ever set foot there. And, even more remarkably, this most ancient museum predated the first modern museums by about two millenniums.

The Curator And The King

So who was responsible for this ancient wonder full of even more ancient wonders? That honor goes to Princess Ennigaldi, the daughter of King Nabonidus, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. As was traditional for the daughters of Mesopotamian kings, her primary duties were religious in nature, both as the high priestess of the moon god Nanna and as the administrator of a school for young priestesses. It was around 530 BCE that Ennigaldi created her museum. That comes dangerously close to being everything we know about the woman behind the world’s first museum.

The story behind the world's oldest museum, built by a Babylonian princess 2,500 years agoWe do know that the museum was built with the support and encouragement of her father the king, who was himself a committed antiquarian and collector of ancient artifacts. It’s hard to know just where his interest in the past came from, but it might have had something to do with the fact that he came from self-described humble origins and that he only sat on the throne because he had overthrown his predecessor. Without a rich regal history of his own to draw on, it’s possible that Nabonidus found a substitute in the ancient city of Ur.

To that end, the king undertook what would become his most lasting contribution to archaeology, and that was the restoration of the Great Ziggurat of Ur. While we’re not 100% sure what purpose this massive structure served – the best guess is that it and the other ziggurats were some sort temple – we do know that the original Sumerian ziggurat had crumbled to nothing by the time of Nabonidus, and so he decided to restore the ziggurat to its former glory (and then some). The discovery of the remains of this second ziggurat in the 19th century would be key to identifying this site as the ancient city of Ur, and in turn setting up Leonard Woolley’s excavations in the 1920s.

The Dying World

The story behind the world's oldest museum, built by a Babylonian princess 2,500 years agoSince we don’t have records direct from Ennigaldi or Nabonidus about the museum, we can only guess at why they decided to set up the museum in Ur. But in his 1927 account of his findings, “Ur Excavations: The Neo-Babylonian and Persian Periods”, Leonard Woolley suspects it was just the natural outgrowth of an era that had become obsessed with its past:

That there should be a collection is altogether in accordance with the antiquarian piety of the age and especially of the ruler Nabonidus with whose daughter this building is probably to be associated. That the museum should be connected with a school is also no matter for surprise. Schools were commonly organised in temples, and some at least of the teaching was of a sort that would be fitly illustrated by specimens of antiquity. In Larsa schools we find that copies of old historical inscriptions extant in the city were regular objects of study.

As is perhaps only appropriate for a city coming to the end of over two thousand years of history, the Ur of King Nabonidus’s reign was one governed by a seemingly overwhelming sense of nostalgia, a fascination with times gone by. That’s not entirely surprising – even Princess Ennigaldi’s school for priestesses was already 800 years old when she took over, making it roughly as old as Oxford and Cambridge are now. Ur had become one vast museum commemorating times long since gone by, so Princess Ennigaldi could perhaps be forgiven for building a home version in miniature.

Indeed, Ur was just the most extreme example of an entire empire that ran on nostalgia. The Neo-Babylonian Empire was a very conscious throwback to the past, as it represented Mesopotamia’s first period of self-rules after centuries of domination by their northern neighbors. We can see it in the imperial inscriptions, as expressions dating back to at least 1,500 years earlier suddenly found themselves popping up on inscriptions, as well as choice selections from the long dead Sumerian language. Even the writing system was altered to look like it had done thousands of years ago.

In that context, the invention of the museum in 530 BCE doesn’t seem particularly new or revolutionary. Instead, it seems like just more evidence of a civilization consumed by its own history and afraid to step into the future. In retrospect, they had good reason to be, considering their eastern neighbors in Persia would soon conquer the empire and Ur itself would be abandoned, likely a victim of severe drought and the vagaries of the Euphrates River.

And yet for all that cultural stagnation, Princess Ennigaldi and her father came up with an idea that is still relevant 25 centuries later. If it takes the death of your civilization’s future to realize that your past is worth celebrating, preserving, and (most importantly) organizing…well, I’ve heard of worse trade-offs.

Further Reading

Ur Excavations Volume IX: The Neo-Babylonian and Persian Periods by Leonard Woolley
Ur of the Chaldees: A Record of Seven Years of Excavation by Sir Leonard Woolley
Woolley of Ur: The Life of Sir Leonard Woolley by Harry Victor Frederick Winstone
Treasures from the royal tombs of Ur by Richard L. Zettler, Lee Horne, Donald P. Hansen, Holly Pittman
Nabonidus and Belshazzar: A Study of the Closing Events of the Neo-Babylonian Empire by Raymond Phillip Daughtery

Top image via.

Send an email to Alasdair Wilkins, the author of this post, at alasdair@io9.com.

Archaeologists unearth 5,000-year-old ‘third-gender’ caveman

Via Mother Nature Network

Stone Age remains
Photo: ZUMA Press
By Bryan Nelson
Archaeologists investigating a 5,000-year-old Copper Age grave in the Czech Republic believe they may have unearthed the first known remains of a gay or transvestite caveman, reports the Telegraph.
The man was apparently buried as if he were a woman, an aberrant practice for an ancient culture known for its strict burial procedures.
Since the grave dates to between 2900 and 2500 BC, the man would have been a member of the Corded Ware culture, a late Stone Age and Copper Age people named after the unique kind of pottery they produced. Men in this culture were traditionally buried lying on their right side with their heads pointing west, but this man was instead buried on his left side with his head pointing east, which is how women were typically buried.
“From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake,” said lead archaeologist Kamila Remisova Vesinova. “Far more likely is that he was a man with a different sexual orientation, homosexual or transsexual.”
Another clue is that Corded Ware men would typically be buried alongside weapons, hammers and flint knives, as well as food and drink to prepare them for their journey to the other side. But this man’s grave instead contained only a traditional egg-shaped pot, which was what women were typically buried with.
With all the evidence taken together, archaeologists are confident that the best explanation for the strange burial is that the man was effeminate, perhaps a homosexual, and possibly a transvestite.
“We believe this is one of the earliest cases of what could be described as a ‘transsexual’ or ‘third gender grave’ in the Czech Republic,” reiterated cooperating archaeologist Katerina Semradova.
Semradova also noted that archaeologists from a previous dig had uncovered a grave from the Mesolithic period where a female warrior was buried as a man, so mixed gender burials, though rare, were not unprecedented

Vanished Persian Army Found After 2500 Years

Via Discovery News

Hundreds of bleached bones and skulls found in the desolate wilderness of the Sahara desert may be the remains of the long lost Cambyses' army, according to Italian researchers.

The remains of a mighty Persian army said to have drowned in the sands of the western Egyptian desert 2,500 years ago might have been finally located, solving one of archaeology’s biggest outstanding mysteries, according to Italian researchers.

Bronze weapons, a silver bracelet, an earring and hundreds of human bones found in the vast desolate wilderness of the Sahara desert have raised hopes of finally finding the lost army of Persian King Cambyses II. The 50,000 warriors were said to be buried by a cataclysmic sandstorm in 525 B.C.

WATCH VIDEO: Take a closer look at a valley of bones that researchers think may belong to the fabled lost army of Cambyses II.

VIEW A SLIDE SHOW: See some of the remains found in the Sahara Desert.

“We have found the first archaeological evidence of a story reported by the Greek historian Herodotus,” Dario Del Bufalo, a member of the expedition from the University of Lecce, told Discovery News.

According to Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, sent 50,000 soldiers from Thebes to attack the Oasis of Siwa and destroy the oracle at the Temple of Amun after the priests there refused to legitimize his claim to Egypt.

After walking for seven days in the desert, the army got to an “oasis,” which historians believe was El-Kharga. After they left, they were never seen again.

“A wind arose from the south, strong and deadly, bringing with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear,” wrote Herodotus.

A century after Herodotus wrote his account, Alexander the Great made his own pilgrimage to the oracle of Amun, and in 332 B.C. he won the oracle’s confirmation that he was the divine son of Zeus, the Greek god equated with Amun.

The tale of Cambyses’ lost army, however, faded into antiquity. As no trace of the hapless warriors was ever found, scholars began to dismiss the story as a fanciful tale.

Now, two top Italian archaeologists claim to have found striking evidence that the Persian army was indeed swallowed in a sandstorm. Twin brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni are already famous for their discovery 20 years ago of the ancient Egyptian “city of gold” Berenike Panchrysos.

Presented recently at the archaeological film festival of Rovereto, the discovery is the result of 13 years of research and five expeditions to the desert.

“It all started in 1996, during an expedition aimed at investigating the presence of iron meteorites near Bahrin, one small oasis not far from Siwa,” Alfredo Castiglioni, director of the Eastern Desert Research Center (CeRDO)in Varese, told Discovery News.

While working in the area, the researchers noticed a half-buried pot and some human remains. Then the brothers spotted something really intriguing — what could have been a natural shelter.

It was a rock about 35 meters (114.8 feet) long, 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) in height and 3 meters (9.8 feet) deep. Such natural formations occur in the desert, but this large rock was the only one in a large area.

“Its size and shape made it the perfect refuge in a sandstorm,” Castiglioni said.

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