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Sculptors from the extraordinarily wealthy ancient Mali Empire — once the source of nearly half the world's gold — at times coated their works of art with blood, scientists confirmed for the first time. At its height, the empire, which lasted from the 13th century to the 17th century, extended over an area larger than Western Europe and was renowned for its gold mines.Researchers have often reported or suspected the presence of blood on many African relics, purportedly shed during ancient ceremonies involving animal sacrifice. While crusts or patinas supposedly made of blood havebeen found on many such artifacts, accurately confirming the presence of blood has proven hard because little has remained on the objects over the ages.Scientists in France have now used advanced technology to identify blood on Mali sculptures.
The technique cannot tell if the blood is from animals or humans, although past interviews conducted by anthropologists suggest it is animal blood.
The researchers focused on eight statuettes dating from the 12th century to the 20th century.
Three wooden humanoid
artifacts came from the Dogon tribe, while five from the Bamana tribe
were sacred bamboo or wooden relics known as boliw that had animal
shapes. Their dark crusts were said to be made of blood from ritually
sacrificed animals along with millet mush, shea butter—made from the
fat of a shea nut—or palm wine.
The investigators scraped
microscopic samples of the patina off the statues. Theynext bombarded
the samples with particle beams and high-intensity light rays that did
virtually no damage.
These highly sensitive
tests identified chemical fingerprints of blood — such as components of
hemoglobin and iron linked with proteins — on seven of the eight
statuettes. The last remained inconclusive.
Richardin, an analytical chemist at the Center for Research and
Restoration for the Museums of France in Paris, said these artifacts
are often the only vestiges of practices that were essential elements
of African civilizations.
"A better knowledge of these patinas could explain some practices used for centuries," Richardin told LiveScience.
Richardin and her colleagues detailed their findings in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.
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The Lincoln Observatory Tower at Lincoln Castle.
Image Credit: CC 2.0 Dave Hitchborne
Archaeologists have uncovered a stone sarcophagus thought to contain someone "terribly important".
The sarcophagus was unearthed while the castle was being refurbished so that a new center to housethe Magna Carta could be built.
Among the discoveries were the remains of a church dating back 1,000 years and a number of skeletons.Archaeologists working at the site believe that the stone sarcophagus is likely to be the resting place of a figure of great importance, possibly a Saxon bishop or king. If this turns out to be the case then it would be one of the most important finds in the region for some years."Logistically it"s quite a difficult job because the trench is deep and the sarcophagus obviously weighs alot," said excavation team member Cecily Spall. "It"s very unusual for archaeologists to encounter a church which hasn"t been detected in historical documents."Lincoln Castle itself was built in the late 11th century by William the Conqueror at the site of a pre-existing Roman fortress and remains a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the world.
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The novel discovery dates back to the 1500s and could be the oldest globe of the New World ever found.Cartographers have inscribed maps on to a number of different surfaces over the years, but the shell of an ostrich egg is particularly unusual. Originally purchased anonymously at a London map fair in 2012, the artifact eventually found its way to Belgian map collector Stefaan Missinne who has since beeninvestigating its origins.Although its clearly made from an ostrich egg, the globe has generated skepticism among experts because of its questionable origins and because it isn"t completely clear how old it is.
The level of calcium bone density in the egg indicates that it is definitely old, but it"s possible the map was inscribed on to it at a later date. "A recently discovered globe from the early 1500s, carved onto ostrich eggs, may be theoldest globe of the New World ever identified, experts say."
View: Full article | Source: National Geographic
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A badger has unwittingly helped uncover the tombs of two medieval lords at a site in Germany. The striped-mammal had set up home at a farm about 75km northeast of Berlin when two sculptors who had been looking to exhibit some of their work nearby came across some human bones that the badger had dug up. After further investigation it turned out that the creature had uncovered the tomb of two medieval lords complete with bronzebowls, a sword and an ornate belt buckle."We hadn"t found graves like that in Brandenburg before so it"s an important discovery," said archaeologist Thomas Kersting.
One of the two skeletons appeared to have been a warrior as he exhibited signs of multiple injuries from past battles. "There were healed marks from sword strikes on his skull, it"s really impressive, especially as he was relatively small. He was a tough guy," Kersting added. "A badger helped discover thetombs of two medieval lords in Germany in what archaeologists are hailing as a significant find."
View: Full article | Source: Spiegel.de
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