I used this video for research on the Sealand dynasty and I recommend it for anyone looking at the Ancient Middle East:
Credit: Ollie Bye
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You’ve probably never heard of the Sealand dynasty of Mesopotamia and for good reason. There really isn’t much information on them and what we do have is from, surprise surprise, foreigners. They were a series of kings located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf in the ancient land of Ur, Uruk, Lagash, the Gutians, the Sumerians, Isin, Larsa and then suddenly the Sealand kings. It is known that they ruled for three centuries (1700’s – 1400’s BCE) by breaking away from the Babylonians but never truly became a major power in the region. Finally, some of the ancient remains from this society are being revealed and the site in question is Tell Khaiber, near modern Nasiriyah as well as next to the legendary city of Ur.
Aerial footage revealed the outline which was then fully excavated which took a decent amount of time. It covers 4400 m2 with a 3.5 meter thick mud wall surrounding the city which also had towers along it and a single entrance, reminding me of the picture perfect castle with a drawbridge and moat. The researchers there noticed that not only was the settlement different from its contemporaries, it had no other known comparison that has been found to date. Stashes of clay tablets discovered in the southern quarter were dated during the reign of King Ayadaragalama. Their translation has been left to Prof. Eleanor Robson (University College London) who will be going through 150 tablets and fragments, some of which have already been read.
They largely talk about the administration of the location as well as “the palace” which is believed to refer to nearby Ur. Thankfully people were named as well which can be something that archaeologists search for dutifully but may never find. Hundreds of people were named along with their positions which included farmers, laborers, musicians, cooks, bird catcher, palace ladies and a tailor. Tablets used by students for practice were also found written in Sumerian and were found in a public building, not their homes. Since there is no other example that has been found of this Tell Khaiber once again separates itself as unique.
The rooms discovered included reception rooms, accommodation, cooking spaces, and an administration are. This design also didn’t fit the typical model from forts, temples or palaces of the time. For defense we once again go to the tablets which listed, “…two groups of ten “royal auxiliary troops” drawing rations.” I suppose they didn’t need a very strong army. This reminds me of the classical city-states that sprouted up across the ancient world. The area around them was farmed and the farmers could find refuge within the city walls during warfare. The excavation was performed by the Ur Region Archaeology Project, partnering with the University of Manchester and Iraq’s State Board for Antiquities and Heritage.
The Minoans and Mycenaeans
A new study has analyzed the genomes of the ancient Minoan and Mycenaean peoples who formed the ancient Greek civilizations. DNA from 10 Minoans, 4 Mycenaean’s, 3 southwestern Anatolian people (near the Aegean Sea), 1 Cretan from after the Mycenaean arrival and 1 Neolithic sample dating from 5,400 BCE predating all of them was tested. They were then compared to the DNA of 332 ancient people already tested, 2,614 living people (28 Greek) and 2 living Cretans. The results showed that the Minoans and Mycenaean’s were highly similar, ancestors of modern Greeks and descendants of Neolithic farms who probably migrated from Anatolia. They also bear some ancestry from the people of the Caucasus, Armenia and Iran.
The findings disprove the theory that the Mycenaean’s were foreigners to Greece as well as one proposing that Greeks did not descend from Mycenaean’s. There was also some mixture with the Greek peoples and the people from North Eurasia and the Eastern European steppe before and after the reign of the Minoans and the Mycenaean’s which may explain why their languages are at least partially related. The co-lead authors on the study were Dr. Iosif Lazaridis, postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School, and Professor David Reich, Harvard Medical School. However, the study involved over a dozen collaborators and was definitely a long and tiresome affair. You can view the study to see everyone involved.
Hungary To Nationalize Suleiman the Magnificent (Maybe)
The grave of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s organs in Hungary is currently being considered for nationalization as well as further funding for research in the area. They were discovered in a small Hungarian town called Szigetvár which the government would like to turn into a tourist destination. The Sultan ruled for 46 years and during that time heavily impacted his country. He expanded the empire in the Balkans, Mesopotamia, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and even tried pushing into Iran. He was also known for spurring massive developments in art, literature and embarking on building programs.
In the center of Israel, researchers have found an Assyrian reservoir believed to be used for the surrounding farms.
History of Wine
The oldest wine in Italy (from over 6,000 years ago) has now set back the previous assumption of 3,000 years of winemaking.
The Vietnam Trading Community
A massive trading network was discovered in Vietnam along the Mekong River Delta existing from 4,500 – 3,000 years ago, suggesting an ancient unknown trading culture.
It now seems that the Greeks used movable theater stages.
The Fourni archipelago is quickly turning into one of the largest ship graveyards in the world.
The ancient Greek city of Parion in western Turkey may soon become Turkey’s new Ephesus.
The ancient stone towers of death in Jordan
Frozen mummies found buried in icy Siberia near the Polar Circle.
Researchers studying the genomes of ancient humans in Portugal discover that immigration from Eastern Europe was very limited compare to the rest of Europe.
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