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2,000-Year-Old Home Found Under a Seaside Playground May Be Pliny the Elder’s Villa

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If you’ve ever felt that planning permission is hard to get in an American city because of zoning regs, imagine the difficulty in a country that’s both orders of magnitude smaller, and ground zero for the archaeological remains of one of the world’s most sophisticated classical civilizations.

The Commune of Bacoli outside Naples was trying to build a children’s playground, but the kids will have to make do with their backyards because preliminary surveys uncovered a Roman villa on the same spot.

2,000 years ago, the villa would have sat on a cliffside and commanded 360° views of the Gulf of Naples, with the islands of Ischia and Procida visible in the distance. In fact, the archaeologists excavating the ruins believe it could have been the oppulent haunt of Pliny the Elder.

An author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, Pliny Sr. wrote the Naturalis Historia which became a publishing model for encyclopediae in our time. He was also a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and Bacoli sits today where the city of Misenum was located—the dockyard of the Roman navy’s Tyrhennian Sea fleet.

He died from inhaling the toxic gasses of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption, which he witnessed from his villa across the Gulf, and into which he organized several ships for a rescue mission. Overweight and asthmatic, he couldn’t flee from the plumes of gas after arriving at the town of Stabiae with a team to rescue the citizens trapped there.

“It is likely that the majestic villa had a 360-degree view of the gulf of Naples for strategic military purposes,” Simona Formola, lead archaeologist at Naples’ art heritage, told CNN in an interview. “We think (the excavation of) deeper layers could reveal more rooms and even frescoes — potentially also precious findings.”

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Scientists Discovered More Than 100,000 Ancient Coins at an Excavation Site in Japan

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In the Kanto region of Central Japan, a trove of 100,000 ancient coins has been uncovered by city archaeologists, some of which date back 2,000 years.

Stacked like cordwood in the Sojamachi district under a site where a company was planning to build a factory, many were minted in China, some as far back as the Western Han Dynasty (220 BCE – 9 CE).

According to the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, 334 of the coins have so far been examined. 44 types have been identified, ranging from the time of Emperor Wendi (175 BCE) of the Western Han to ones as recent as the Kamakura Period (1185-1333).

The paper didn’t say what the materials were, but given the mint and the burial method, they’re probably all copper or bronze.

An innovation of the Chinese, the bronze and copper coins were minted with a hole in the middle. Along with saving material, it allowed for easy transport, storage, and counting as the coins could be slid down a rope made from straw or reeds and carried like a keychain.

It was in this state that the coins were found, stacked and buried—perhaps hastily, according to Asahi Shimbun, whose report mentioned that they were found in property that belonged to wealthy members of the medieval Japanese society of Maebashi.

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Sealed Jars of Wine From 5,000 Years Ago Uncovered in Egyptian Queen’s Tomb

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Sealed jars of wine from 5,000 years ago have been uncovered amongst the grave goods found in an Egyptian Queen’s tomb.

The stash once belonging to Queen Meret-Neith in Abydos, from 3,000 BC, and is one of the oldest ever.

Researchers from the University of Vienna say she was the most powerful woman in the period and possibly the first female pharaoh of ancient Egypt.

Queen Meret-Neith was the only woman to have her own monumental tomb in Egypt’s first royal cemetery at Abydos.

Although her true identity remains a mystery the excavation revealed hundreds of jars of wine, some still sealed, buried with her.

Meret-Neith’s monumental tomb complex in the Abydos desert, which includes the tombs of 41 courtiers and servants in addition to her own burial chamber, was built of unbaked mud bricks, clay and wood.

In addition, inscriptions testify that Queen Meret-Neith was responsible for central government offices such as the treasury, which supports the idea of her special historical significance.

Archaeologist Professor Christiana Köhler from the University of Vienna said that a lot of the finds are undergoing analysis to reveal their secrets.

“The wine was no longer liquid and we can’t tell if it was red or white,” she said. “We found a lot of organic residue, grape seeds and crystals, possibly tartar and all of this is currently being scientifically analyzed.

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24,000-Year-Old Cave Art Suddenly Found in Well-Known Paleolithic Cave Shelter in Spain

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When you think of Spain, I’ll bet you probably picture bulls and bullfighters, rugged hills cloaked in olive trees, tapas bars, or the Alhambra, but I’ll bet you don’t picture cave paintings.

Actually, no country on Earth has more paleolithic cave art than Spain, and a new discovery merely adds to that position—110 paintings and engravings dating back 24,000 years.

They were found in a cave called Cueva Dones, a well-known site for adventurers, hikers, and spelunkers in Eastern Spain near Valencia. A 500-meter cave system that opens into a steep river gorge.

It wasn’t until 2021 that scientists from the universities of Zaragoza in Spain and Southampton in the UK, discovered rock art in three separate locations that seemed to depict extinct animals that would have roamed Paleolithic Europe.

“Although Spain is the country with the largest number of Paleolithic cave art sites, most of them are concentrated in northern Spain,” said Aitor Ruiz-Redondo, senior lecturer of prehistory at the University of Zaragoza. “Eastern Iberia is an area where few of these sites have been documented so far.”

Ruiz-Redondo and his co-authors in their paper describe the depictions of animals and shapes as the most important cave art site found in Eastern Spain because of the number, the variety of animals, and the diversity of motifs and artistic methods.

Horses, a red deer stag, seven hinds (female red deer), two auroch (an extinct wild bovine), and two indeterminate animals are depicted in both red clay finger paintings, and engravings.

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Archaeologists May Have Discovered the Oldest And Most Complete Egyptian Mummy

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Near the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egyptologists working on an ancient cemetery uncovered what has been called “the oldest and most complete mummy found in Egypt to date.”

Located at the bottom of a 45-foot (15-meter) shaft, a limestone sarcophagus contained the remains of a very rich man whom hieroglyphics named Heka-shepas, who was probably the oldest mummy ever found who wasn’t a blue blood.

How old was this Heka-shepas? Last year was the 100th anniversary of the opening of the “Boy King” Tutenkhamon’s tomb. During the Boy King’s reign, Heka-shepas had already been slumbering under the sands for more than 1,000 years.

The shaft containing him was found near the modern-day village of Saqqara, a location near the capital city of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, from 2,700 to 2,200 BCE.

His remains were found covered in gold leaf, with various jewelry pieces bedecking the body.

Near Heka-shepas’ tomb, other shafts were found that uncovered important wooden statues, some behind a false wall.

“The mission discovered three stone statues representing a person named Fetek,” Renowned Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass detailed on his Instagram. “Beside these statues was an offering table and a stone sarcophagus that contained his mummy.”

Two other mummies were found with the discovery. The priests Khnum-djed-ef and Messi were found in the pyramid complexes of Unas, and King Pepi I respectively.

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