Lots of mammoths

30 May 2020

William sent in this link www.yahoo.com/news/mammoth-skeletons-dug-mexico-city-155124553.html ... mammoth skeletons dug up during construction of an airport at Mexico City. To date, 70 mammoths have been unearthed since late last year, suggesting that in the Late Pleistocene lots of mammoth roamed Mexico. Apparently, it was grassland in those days - praire. These were Columbian mammoths - which had little fur. They were bigger than the woolly mammoth, found further north, and weighed 20 tons. They are being dug out of muck - a muddy and presumably watery environment in  which they had died. Not exactly a dry praire on the day they perished.

William also sent in a Yahoo link to the next story - a coal mine in Serbia has revealed the remains of a Roman boat. Not so much a mine but a big hole - open cast coal extraction  (digging down into the coal seam from above). See https://www.reuters.com/article/us-serbia-archaeology/coal-mine-in-serbi... ... In the process of clearing ground for the airport they have discovered a buried Roman city, Viminacium. It had a hippodrome, fortifications, a forum, a palace, temples, amphitheatre, aqueducts, baths and workshops (as well as houses). The boat was part of the town as a Roman fleet was stationed in the vicinity to patrol rivers. It is the one thing that grabbed the attention of the media. The excavation has also uncovered tiles, jade sculptures, mosaics, frescos, 14,000 tombs, and the remains of three mammoths. They seem to get everywhere - and even deeper down we have the coal.

At https://phys.org/news/2020-05-reveals-cannabis-frankincense-judahite-shr... ... two Iron Age altars found at a shrine at Tel Arad in the Beersheba valley were later found to contain cannabis and frankincense. The site was occupied between the 9th and 6th centuries BC - during the monarchy period. It guarded the southern border of Judah. The shrine itself has been specifically dated between 750 and 715BC - immediately prior to the reform of Hezekiah. It is thought cannabis was used to create psychoactive stimulation as part of cultic ceremony. The frankincense, on the other hand, was heated, or burnt, to release its fragrance. It was mixed with animal fat in order to facilitate the process. Arad would therefore have been on the caravan route from South Arabia to ports on the Levant coast, as well as Egypt. Frankincense remained a valuable item for trade right up to the Roman period - until the advent of Christianity which had no use for it. Frankincense was burnt in temples of all kinds in the ancient world - even in the Aegean.