Tagarchaeology

A Team At The Getty Museum Cracked Out The SORTES SANCTORUM And Worked With It

A team of five-people—one male- and four female-presenting people—at the Getty Museum have taken a crack at using a medieval divinatory method to get some answers about their day-to-day lives.  They followed every step of the process, including fasting and ritual purification, and the answers they got in relation to both their near and long-term questions seemed to surprise them. Take a look:

The strictest definition of fasting implies refusing all nutrients; however, art historian and food scholar Christina Normore has argued that medieval fasting simply omitted animal products. Considering that about half of the days on the medieval calendar were “fast” days, it’s very likely that medieval Christians relied on a plant-based diet on these days, while animal products were reserved for feast days. With this in mind, our fast consisted of a vegan diet for the three days leading up to our divination.[…]

We all gathered in the manuscripts study room, a beautiful, naturally lit space with ample dice-rolling room. The book awaited our arrival, propped gently on foam. Each of us took a turn, first stating our question aloud, and then rolling the three dice. The dice were arranged in descending order. Then our fortunes were read aloud from a translation by Dr. Faith Wallis. The book was touched only by Rheagan, who is trained in safe handling of parchment.[…]

The whole process, here, is super interesting, from the decision to attempt this at all, to the historical and anthropological interpretations of what it would have meant to “fast,” in this era, to the necessary reinterpretations of the symbolic language used by the theologians and diviners who put this book together. Though the claim that it “worked” for them is sketchier in some cases than others, the physical, mental, and ritual processes of the Getty team are well worth a read, and I highly recommend reading through it.

The full article can be found at the Getty Blog, here: “We Tried Medieval Divination—And It Worked.” Thanks to Mediapathic for the heads-up.

Songs played while writing this included: Weezer’s “Only In Dreams,” and The Electric Hellfire Club’s “Wired In Blood.”

And if you like divination, keep watch for another Tarot interview, here, soon, and take a look at this week’s edition of the Technoccult News.

Possible New Human Ancestor Discovered

Australopithecus sediba skull

Two 1.9 million-year-old skeletons found in a South African cave have added a new and intriguing member to the primate family.

Dubbed Australopithecus sediba, it has many features — including long legs and a protruding nose — common to Homo, the genus that eventually spawned humans. Other features, such as extra-long forearms and flexible feet, date from deep in our primate past.

Paleontologists disagree over whether A. sediba is a direct human ancestor, or just looks like one. But whatever their lineage, the fossils provide rare insight into a period shrouded in paleontological mystery.

“We feel that A. sediba might be a Rosetta Stone for defining for the first time what the genus Homo is,” said paleontologist Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand. “They’re going to be a remarkable window, a time machine.”

Wired: Possible New Human Ancestor Discovered

More on the discovery: New York Times: New Hominid Species Discovered in South Africa

Archaeologists discover half-ton lead coffin near Rome

Half ton lead coffin

In the ruins of a city that was once Rome’s neighbor, archaeologists last summer found a 1,000-pound lead coffin.

Who or what is inside is still a mystery, said Nicola Terrenato, the University of Michigan professor of classical studies who leads the project—the largest American dig in Italy in the past 50 years.

The sarcophagus will soon be transported to the American Academy in Rome, where engineers will use heating techniques and tiny cameras in an effort to gain insights about the contents without breaking the coffin itself.

“We’re very excited about this find,” Terrenato said. “Romans as a rule were not buried in coffins to begin with and when they did use coffins, they were mostly wooden. There are only a handful of other examples from Italy of lead coffins from this age—the second, third or fourth century A.D. We know of virtually no others in this region.”

University of Michigan News Service: An archaeological mystery in a half-ton lead coffin

Amazon explorers uncover signs of a real El Dorado

real el dorado

It is the legend that drew legions of explorers and adventurers to their deaths: an ancient empire of citadels and treasure hidden deep in the Amazon jungle.

Spanish conquistadores ventured into the rainforest seeking fortune, followed over the centuries by others convinced they would find a lost civilisation to rival the Aztecs and Incas.

Some seekers called it El Dorado, others the City of Z. But the jungle swallowed them and nothing was found, prompting the rest of the world to call it a myth. The Amazon was too inhospitable, said 20th century scholars, to permit large human settlements.

Now, however, the doomed dreamers have been proved right: there was a great civilisation. New satellite imagery and fly-overs have revealed more than 200 huge geometric earthworks carved in the upper Amazon basin near Brazil’s border with Bolivia.

Guardian: Amazon explorers uncover signs of a real El Dorado

(via Egg Basket in a Centrifuge)

Underwater Stones Puzzle Archeologists

Underwater archeology at work

“Forty feet below the surface of Lake Michigan in Grand Traverse Bay, a mysterious pattern of stones can be seen rising from an otherwise sandy half-mile of lake floor. Likely the stones are a natural feature. But the possibility they are not has piqued the interest of archeologists, native tribes and state officials since underwater archeologist Mark Holley found the site in 2007 during a survey of the lake bottom.

The site recently has become something of an Internet sensation, thanks to a blogger who noticed an archeological paper on the topic and described the stones as “underwater Stonehenge.” Though the stones could signal an ancient shoreline or a glacial formation, their striking geometric alignment raises the possibility of human involvement. The submerged site was tundra when humans of the hunter-gatherer era roamed it 6,000 to 9,000 years ago. Could the stones have come from a massive fishing weir laid across a long-gone river? Could they mark a ceremonial site? Adding to the intrigue, one dishwasher-size rock seems to bear an etching of a mastodon.”

(via The Chicago Tribune)

The Archaeology of Vinyl

optimo13

“Over the recent Christmas season, my 21-year-old deejay nephew flipped through the large collection of vinyl LPs from the sixties, seventies, and eighties now shelved in our basement. Many is the time when I have privately cursed that collection, hauling heavy boxes of vinyl up and down steep flights of stairs on moving days. But my husband steadfastly refused to sell or pitch out anything—from the Dukes of Stratosphear to the Stranglers—and now I’m rather glad that he did. We now have a miniature museum of sound from the sixties, seventies, and eighties, complete with original shrink wraps and a few Andy Warhol covers.

But what will future generations – particularly future archaeologists—make of the hundreds of thousands of tons of vinyl recordings that our civilization pressed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? I expect most of you have seen that clever Pepsi commercial set in the future, where a middle-aged archaeologist leads his Pepsi-drinking students through a split level ranch house as if it were a Roman villa, and is unable to identify a dusty glass bottle of Coca-Cola. What will future researchers make of our record collections?”

(via Archaeology Magazine)

(Related: “Digital Needle- A Virtual Gramophone” by Ofer Springer)

Earliest Known Shaman Grave Site Found: Study

“An ancient grave unearthed in modern-day Israel containing 50 tortoise shells, a human foot and body parts from numerous animals is likely one of the earliest known shaman burial sites, researchers said on Monday. The 12,000-year-old grave dates back to the Natufian people who were the first society to adopt a sedentary lifestyle, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researcher Leore Grosman and colleagues said.

“The interment rituals and the method used to construct and seal the grave suggest this is the burial of an ancient shaman, one of the earliest known from the archaeological record,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Shamans play an important role in many cultures, mediating between the human and spiritual worlds and acting as messengers, healers, magicians to serve the community, the researchers said.

The Israeli team found the bones in a small cave in the lower Galilee region of present-day Israel that was a Natufian burial ground for a least 28 people. At the time of burial, more than 10 large stones were placed directly on the head, pelvis, and arms of the elderly woman whose body was laid on its side. The legs were spread apart and folded inward at the knee. The special treatment of the body and use of stones to keep it in a certain position suggests the woman held a unique position in the community, likely some sort of a shaman, the researchers said.”

(via News Daily. Thanks DJ!)

Mystery of the Screaming Mummy

Screaming mummy

“It was a blood-curdling discovery. The mummy of a young man with his hands and feed bound, his face contorted in an eternal scream of pain. But who was he and how did he die? On a scorching hot day at the end of June 1886, Gaston Maspero, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, was unwrapping the mummies of the 40 kings and queens found a few years earlier in an astonishing hidden cache near the Valley of the Kings.

The 1881 discovery of the tombs, in the Deir El Bahri valley, 300 miles south of Cairo, had been astonishing and plentiful. Hidden from the world for centuries were some of the great Egyptian pharaohs – Rameses the Great, Seti I and Tuthmosis III. Yet this body, buried alongside them, was different, entombed inside a plain, undecorated coffin that offered no clues to the deceased’s identity.
It was an unexpected puzzle and, once the coffin was opened, Maspero found himself even more shocked.”

(via The Daily Mail)

Stone Age Man Took Drugs, Say Scientists

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“It has long been suspected that humans have an ancient history of drug use, but there has been a lack of proof to support the theory. Now, however, researchers have found equipment used to prepare hallucinogenic drugs for sniffing, and dated them back to prehistoric South American tribes. Quetta Kaye, of University College London, and Scott Fitzpatrick, an archeologist from North Carolina State University, made the breakthrough on the Caribbean island of Carriacou.

They found ceramic bowls, as well as tubes for inhaling drug fumes or powders, which appear to have originated in South America between 100BC and 400BC and were then carried 400 miles to the islands. While the use of such paraphernalia for inhaling drugs is well-known, the age of the bowls has thrown new light on how long humans have been taking drugs. Scientists believe that the drug being used was cohoba, a hallucinogen made from the beans of a mimosa species. Drugs such as cannabis were not found in the Caribbean then. Opiates can be obtained from species such as poppies, while fungi, which was widespread, may also have been used.”

(via Telegraph)

Witches of Cornwall

[image]

“Over the centuries, many in the British Isles have appealed to witches in times of need–to cure a toothache, concoct a love potion, or curse a neighbor. Witchcraft, the rituals of a number of pagan belief systems, was thought to offer control of the world through rites and incantations. Common as it has been over the past several centuries, the practice is secretive and there are few written records. It tends to be passed down through families and never revealed to outsiders. But archaeologist Jacqui Wood has unearthed evidence of more than 40 witchy rituals beneath her own front yard, bringing to light an unknown branch of witchcraft possibly still practiced today.

Wood’s home is in the hamlet of Saveock Water in Cornwall, a county tucked in the far southwest corner of the country. For thousands of years people have raised crops and livestock in its fertile valleys, and its coastline of dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and pounding surf was once a haunt for smugglers. Cornwall is a place time forgot; steeped in folklore, myth, and legend; and purported to be inhabited by pixies, fairies, and elves. So it should come as no surprise that it has also been home to the dark arts.

When I visit Saveock Water it is raining, which adds to its unearthly atmosphere. Wood, a warm lady with sparkling hazel eyes, greets me in her cozy white-washed barn while rain hammers on the roof. She moved to Saveock Water 15 years ago because it was an ideal location for her work in experimental archaeology, replicating ancient techniques, including those used in farming or metallurgy. Since then she has carried out her experiments, such as growing ancient crop varieties, unaware of what lay under her fields. In the late 1990s, Wood decided to do some metalwork research by re-creating an ancient kind of furnace. “I dug down into the ground to construct a shelter close to the furnace and I discovered a clay floor,” she says.”

(via Archaeology)

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