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Saturday, 20 December 2008

The ancients and their secrets, 2008

Today:

  1. Call for promotion of Saraswati basin
  2. Scholar finds Mayans' buried highway through hell
  3. More of ancient Amazon civilization unearthed
  4. Found: An Ancient Monument to the Soul
What would you think if you copy-paste few articles and they turn out to have A LOT in common? Well, I feel precisely like this now. All of those articles ring a bell in my head, a bell that will turn to a melody soon. I hope you like the selection.

Call for promotion of Saraswati basin


An international conference on the Vedic River Saraswati and Hindu civilisation held at the India International Centre, New Delhi, between October 24 and October 26, 2008 has demanded that the government of India develop the Saraswati river basin.

The conference wanted the government to promote the river basin as a national heritage site to promote pilgrimage and heritage tourism.

The conference arrived at the consensus that the River Saraswati played a great role in the lives of the people of Vedic India for millennia. The achievements of the people of the Saraswati region were extraordinary. The great Vedas, the Vedic Sanskrit language and the cultural symbols and practices that originated on the banks of the river were indelibly associated with the collective consciousness of the people of India, leading to a continuum of Hindu civilisation over thousands of years.

It observed that extensive research conducted in recent years by different scholars removed any lingering doubt about the existence of the great river and the associated civilisation which constituted the roots of Hindu culture and abiding tradition. This research also conclusively established that the great and geographically vast civilisation represented by the early Hakra ware (Harappan bricks) communities, followed by the early, middle and mature Harappan phases of development and the highly-evolved Saraswati civilisation were in fact one and the same.

The Vedic river already stands rejuvenated above the ground in Haryana and parts of Rajasthan.
The conference opined that the rejuvenation of River Saraswati would benefit millions of people of India across various states - Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. It recommended that impetus be given to carry forward the archaeological explorations intensively along the Saraswati River basin and in associated areas to its east. source
My comment: If you read the source, you'll find that it's full of happy rhetoric but that's not so important. I read a book on the civilisation of Ind-Sarasvati and I am very convinced this civilisation need much more exposure and research than even those proud scientists on the conference realise. Especially when I connect it with certain Orphic practices I found in Wikipedia that related to the Vedas way too much. I will probably blog about this at some point after my research on the subject is one.

Scholar finds Mayans' buried highway through hell

TZIBICHEN CENOTE, Mexico (AP) — Legend says the afterlife for ancient Mayas was a terrifying obstacle course in which the dead had to traverse rivers of blood, and chambers full of sharp knives, bats and jaguars.

Now a Mexican archaeologist using long-forgotten testimony from the Spanish Inquisition says a series of caves he has explored may be the place where the Maya actually tried to depict this highway through hell.

The network of underground chambers, roads and temples beneath farmland and jungle on the Yucatan peninsula suggests the Maya fashioned them to mimic the journey to the underworld, or Xibalba, described in ancient mythological texts such as the Popol Vuh.

Archaeologists have long known that the Maya regarded caves as sacred and built structures in some.

But De Anda's team introduced "an extremely important ingredient" by using historical records to locate and connect a series of sacred caves, and link them with the concept of the Mayan road to the afterworld, said archaeologist Bruce Dahlin of Shepherd University, who has studied other Maya sites in the Yucatan.

The group explored walled-off sacred chambers that can only be entered by crawling along a floor populated by spiders, scorpions and toads.

To find Xibalba, De Anda spent five years combing the 450-year-old records of the Inquisition trials the Spaniards held against Indian "heretics" in Mexico.

The Mayas used the sinkhole caves, known as cenotes, as places of worship and depositories for sacrificed humans. Many cenotes still contain pools that supply villages with water. The best-known is the broad, circular pool at the ruins of Chichen Itza.

The cenotes De Anda found were drier, better hidden and farther from villages. They seem to have had a special religious significance because even as the Maya were forced to convert to Christianity, they still traveled long distances to worship there.

Among De Anda's discoveries are a broad, perfectly paved, 100-yard underground road, a submerged temple, walled-off stone rooms and the "confusing crossroads" of the legends.

At the center of one of the underground lakes, De Anda's team found a collapsed and submerged altar with carvings indicating it was dedicated to the gods of death.

Bats are depicted in the ancient texts, and visitors have to duck to avoid swarms of them. There's the "chamber of roasting heat" which indeed leaves visitors soaked in sweat. Cool currents of surface air penetrating some caves feel almost frigid, just like the legend's "chambers of shaking cold."

While De Anda has not yet encountered a specific "jaguar chamber," jaguar bones have been found in at least one cave.

Subterranean "roads" interrupted by deep pools of water may signify the rivers of blood and pus. source

My comment:Now, it's not profoundly smart to drop dead people into water sources, but I doubt the Mayan did that anyway. The caves that the article describe are quite interesting, but I find even more interesting why they needed a paved road to hell or even to heaven. This is where it get REALLY weird. For me, those roads led to somewhere, somewhere important, not just to the journey of finding your immortal soul- something that is undoubtedly important, but let's get realistic, they wouldn't pave roads for that. Another relations to Orphism that had similar practice of going underground to experience the transition between the words. You know about the legends that the Atlants are still hiding under the Earth. How about that?

More of ancient Amazon civilization unearthed

By KURT STANTON

A Japanese scholar leading a multiyear archaeological project in Bolivia says his team has found a small human skeleton well over 1,000 years old in this year's excavation, the first discovery of its kind in that country.

"The well-preserved skeleton was very small in size, about 70 cm tall, with a disproportionately large head, but it had characteristics of an adult," Katsuyoshi Sanematsu, a professor of anthropology at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, said in a recent interview.

The dating analysis of a carbon sample extracted from a neck bone showed that the skeleton dates back to around 700 A.D.

Also found at the loma were ceramic dolls, coins, pieces of pottery with a design of a three-stepped platform, ceramic spinning wheels and other tools, Sanematsu said.

"The three-stepped platform design, or three 'pachas,' has its origin in the Andean civilization and indicates there was an interchange of cultures between the Andean highland and the Amazon," he said.

"The large quantity of pieces of pottery found, together with numerous animal bones and apple snails, indicate there used to exist at the site an ancient society with a considerable population," he said.

Also, there are canals, waterways, reservoirs and "terraplens" (ancient roads or dikes) around the loma that form a complex water system built by the ancients, Sanematsu said.

The carbon dating show that the upper part of Loma Chocolatalito was inhabited approximately from 100 to 1200 A.D. source

My comment: I believe I have a follow-up article on that in a coming post, thought I'm not entirely sure. In any case, just notice how small that woman is, in comparison with some rather large skeletons or foots that were found on Earth. Isn't it strange?

Found: An Ancient Monument to the Soul

November 17, 2008

In a mountainous kingdom in what is now southeastern Turkey, there lived in the eighth century B.C. a royal official, Kuttamuwa, who oversaw the completion of an inscribed stone monument, or stele, to be erected upon his death. The words instructed mourners to commemorate his life and afterlife with feasts “for my soul that is in this stele.

University of Chicago archaeologists who made the discovery last summer in ruins of a walled city near the Syrian border said the stele provided the first written evidence that the people in this region held to the religious concept of the soul apart from the body. By contrast, Semitic contemporaries, including the Israelites, believed that the body and soul were inseparable, which for them made cremation unthinkable, as noted in the Bible.

Circumstantial evidence, archaeologists said, indicated that the people at Sam’al, the ancient city, practiced cremation. The site is known today as Zincirli (pronounced ZIN-jeer-lee).

Other scholars said the find could lead to important insights into the dynamics of cultural contact and exchange in the borderlands of antiquity where Indo-European and Semitic people interacted in the Iron Age.

The writing is in a script derived from the Phoenician alphabet and a Semitic language that appears to be an archaic variant of Aramaic.

“Normally, in the Semitic cultures, the soul of a person, their vital essence, adheres to the bones of the deceased,” said David Schloen, an archaeologist at the university’s Oriental Institute and director of the excavations. “But here we have a culture that believed the soul is not in the corpse but has been transferred to the mortuary stone.”

A translation of the inscription by Dennis Pardee, a professor of Near Eastern languages and civilization at Chicago, reads in part: “I, Kuttamuwa, servant of [the king] Panamuwa, am the one who oversaw the production of this stele for myself while still living. I placed it in an eternal chamber [?] and established a feast at this chamber: a bull for [the god] Hadad, a ram for [the god] Shamash and a ram for my soul that is in this stele.”

Dr. Pardee said the word used for soul, nabsh, was Aramaic, a language spoken throughout northern Syria and parts of Mesopotamia in the eighth century. But the inscription seemed to be a previously unrecognized dialect. In Hebrew, a related language, the word for soul is nefesh.

In addition to the writing, a pictorial scene chiseled into the well-preserved stele depicts the culture’s view of the afterlife. A bearded man wearing a tasseled cap, presumably Kuttamuwa, raises a cup of wine and sits before a table laden with food, bread and roast duck in a stone bowl.

In other societies of the region, scholars say, this was an invitation to bring customary offerings of food and drink to the tomb of the deceased. Here family and descendants supposedly feasted before a stone slab in a kind of chapel. Archaeologists have found no traces there of a tomb or bodily remains.

Joseph Wegner, an Egyptologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the research, said cult offerings to the dead were common in the Middle East, but not the idea of a soul separate from the body — except in Egypt.

In ancient Egypt, Dr. Wegner noted, the human entity has separate components. The body is important, and the elite went to great expense to mummify and entomb it for eternity. In death, though, a life force or spirit known as ka was immortal, and a soul known as ba, which was linked to personal attributes, fled the body after death.

They found no signs of a burial in the city’s ruins. At other ancient sites on the Turkish-Syrian border, cremation urns have been dated to the same period. So the archaeologists surmised that cremation was also practiced at Sam’al.

Dr. Stager of Harvard said the evidence so far, the spread of languages and especially the writing on stone about a royal official’s soul reflected the give-and-take of mixed cultures, part Indo-European, part Semitic, at a borderland in antiquity.

source

My comment: I'd like to point out first, that the belief in the soul is apart from the body isn't only a part of Egyptian beliefs, but also of Thracian at the time. I know I repeat that word all over the post, but it should tell you how important I find it. Also, the Indian culture beliefs in immortality of the soul, so one should ask where this belief came- from the East-India or from the west- Balkans or Egypt.


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