The Lost Kingdom of Rheged

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Pictish carvings

Archaeologists studying ancient Pictish carvings began excavations at Trusty’s Hill in Galloway, Scotland in 2012. While the study of such symbols is both a fascinating and important endeavor, research at the Trusty’s Hill site has revealed something even more astonishing: the long-lost kingdom of Rheged. The dominant kingdom in northern Britain until the seventh century, Rheged’s actual location has been disputed for centuries.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. Older and more mysterious than ancient Egypt, the strange kingdom of Dodrazeb ignites a Persian warrior’s curiosity when he leads an army to conquer it. Mesmerized by Dodrazeb’s puzzles, the warrior is determined to peel back its layers of secrets as its desperate princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What have they been hiding from the rest of the world for thousands of years? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


Researchers initially chose the Trusty’s Hill site because Pictish symbols were carved into a rocky outcropping near its entrance. Such Pictish carvings are more common further north, but quite rare as far south as Galloway. The Picts were a loose confederation of Celtic tribes that lived in what is now northern and eastern Scotland during Roman occupation of the British Isles. While their exact origin is unknown, the Picts were eventually absorbed by other Gaelic cultures of the region.

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Fortification at Trusty’s Hill, dating to around 600 CE

Archaeologists discovered timber and stone fortifications, a royal hall, and a blacksmith’s workshop. This type of structure is known as a “nucleated” fort, a stronghold from which the local royals would have ruled the surrounding countryside. Dating to around 600 CE, the fort had numerous defensive reinforcements and enclosures in the same style as other high-status settlements of the period in Scotland.

In fact, this was not a simple farming village, but a far more important regional center that managed the surrounding farms and natural resources on a large scale. There is also evidence of leatherworking and wool spinning operations at the site, along with a metal workshop that produced high-quality objects in gold, silver, iron, and bronze. Archaeologists studying the site believe that the Pictish symbols flanking the entrance indicate that royal ceremonies took place at the fort.

Ronan Toolis and Christopher Bowles tell the story of the amazing discovery in their book The Lost Dark Age Kingdom of Rheged (Oxbow Books, 2016). Bowles said, “This was a place of religious, cultural and political innovation whose contribution to culture in Scotland has perhaps not been given due recognition. Yet the influence of Rheged, with Trusty’s Hill at its secular heart…and Urien its most famous king, has nevertheless rippled through the history and literature of Scotland and beyond.”

Rheged and its powerful warrior king, Urien, inspired some of the earliest medieval poetry composed in Britain, by the poet Taliesin. Some Arthurian legends say that Urien married Morgan Le Fay, King Arthur’s sister, but the marriage was not happy. In one version of the story, Morgan plotted to use the sword Excalibur to kill Urien and Arthur and take the throne herself with her lover.

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Location of Trusty’s Hill in Galloway, Scotland

Previously, historians thought Rheged might have been located in Cumbria, a county in northwestern England. Surviving early medieval historical records show King Urien’s dominance in southern Scotland and northern England before a rival group wiped out the settlement in the early seventh century. The site was destroyed by fire, suffering sustained burning for weeks or even months as evidenced by many sections of the timber-reinforced stone rampart found to be fused together. As the researchers concluded, “The deliberate and spectacular destruction of Trusty’s Hills is a visceral reminder that the demise of this kingdom in the early seventh century AD came with sword and flame.”

http://preview.history.com/news/lost-dark-age-kingdom-discovered-in-scotland

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lost-dark-age-kingdom-kingdom-of-rheged-hidden-1400-years-scotland-discover-ronan-toolis-christopher-a7543541.html

http://www.realmofhistory.com/2017/01/25/lost-kingdom-rheged-discovered-britain/

http://www.livescience.com/57591-lost-dark-ages-fort-found-scotland.html

http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2017/01/lost-dark-ages-kingdom-of-rheged-possibly-found-in-scotland/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheged

http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsBritain/BritainRheged.htm

http://www.scotsman.com/news/lost-dark-age-kingdom-discovered-in-galloway-1-4342467

Truth About Trousers

Trousers have been around for a really long time. Why do we wear them? Or pants, as we call them in North America? How did pants/trousers come to replace loincloths, tunics, robes, togas, dresses, and other legless attire? Who invented them?

ancient-clothingWhen simple clothing that hangs loosely from the shoulders is sufficient for comfort, modesty, and a sense of fashion style, why bother with fitted garments designed to cover from the waist down? Before trousers, everyone—men and women—wore relatively shapeless clothes. Clothing was long or short and covered a certain amount of legs and arms depending on the weather of the region and what was considered appropriate for males or females. The easiest way to clothe the human body is to drape cloth around it. Wrap a long fabric rectangle attractively, tie it or secure it with pins or belts to hold it in place, and you’re good to go!


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. Older and more mysterious than ancient Egypt, the strange kingdom of Dodrazeb ignites a Persian warrior’s curiosity when he leads an army to conquer it. Mesmerized by Dodrazeb’s puzzles, the warrior is determined to peel back its layers of secrets as its desperate princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What have they been hiding from the rest of the world for thousands of years? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


So what’s the big deal about pants? Have you ever gone in search of a great-fitting pair of jeans but had to admit defeat after trying on hundreds of combinations of brands, sizes, washes, fits, and colors? Only to scream in delirious delight when you finally found the perfect pair—the jeans that seemed to be made just for you—that enveloped your lower half with unbelievable comfort and made you feel like you were ready to conquer the world? No one gets that feeling from a toga. From a toga you may feel a little breezy, but that’s about it.

patternAnyone who has ever sewn their own clothing can attest to the fact that getting all the various pieces of fabric stitched together correctly is not easy, and pants can be particularly difficult. Crotch depth, butt size, leg length, waist and thigh circumference—each of these measurements are critical to creating trousers that fit well. And then there is the issue of accessibility for, uhm, relieving oneself. It’s incredibly easy to lift a skirt, or toga, or robe, or tunic to take a quick bathroom break. It’s a different matter entirely when you have to peel off leg coverings and then put them back on without the benefit of zippers, buttons, or stretchy fabric. Trousers are complicated, so why did ancient cultures bother to perfect them?

1-31314fbf56Early adopters of the bifurcated garment worn on the lower body needed something that would be functional when riding a horse. Right after humans domesticated and started riding horses about 4,000 years ago, they decided that comfort for the nether regions was highly desirable. Unsurprisingly, trousers were ideal to prevent chafing when astride a horse. What naturally followed was the rise of cavalry riders in armies of conquest, as mounted soldiers have a lot of advantages over infantry. That’s right—pants changed the course of history because they made it easier for soldiers to fight from horseback.

Ancient Greeks derided Eastern cultures where trousers were worn, believing them to be a ludicrous form of attire. They just couldn’t handle the fact that both men and women wore them, allowing them to participate equally in the same activities such as horseback riding and warfare. Likewise, Romans were great admirers of the draped clothing worn by Greeks and thought of trouser-wearing people as barbarians. Well, the Romans changed their minds when they kept getting trounced by trouser-wearing enemies and the style was eventually popularized across their vast Empire.

ancient_trousers-patternArchaeologists discovered a pair of well-preserved burials in Yanghai in western China that support the idea of trousers being created for comfort while riding horses. The two men, each about 40 years old, were buried about 3000 years ago wearing trousers. Evidence indicates they had likely been warriors as well as herders. One man was buried with a decorated leather bridle, a wooden horse bit, a battle-ax and a leather bracer for arm protection. Objects placed with the other body included a whip, a decorated horse tail, a bow sheath and a bow.

Each pair of trousers was sewn together from three pieces of brown-colored wool cloth, one piece for each leg and an insert for the crotch. No cloth was cut to form these pants. Instead, each of the three sections was shaped on a loom in the final size. These pants included side slits, strings for fastening at the waist and woven designs on the legs. For these two men, trousers were not a mere fashion statement—they were a necessity for daily life. Just like my favorite pair of jeans.

Sources:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/first-pants-worn-horse-riders-3000-years-ago
http://www.livescience.com/34077-wearing-pants-horse-riding.html
http://www.academia.edu/8737411/Who_Invented_Trousers
http://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/clothing-types-styles/trousers-through-history
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_clothing_and_textiles
http://www.historyofclothing.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trousers
https://bellatory.com/fashion-industry/A-History-of-Trousers-and-Pants-in-Western-Culture

Orichalcum: The Red Metal of Atlantis

While it isn’t proof that legendary Atlantis ever existed, the discovery of a large quantity of metal bars in an ancient shipwreck is a figurative gold mine for archaeologists.

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Metal bars recovered from a sixth century BCE shipwreck.

The ingots discovered by marine archaeologists in 2015 were determined to be an alloy of 75 to 80 percent copper, 15 to 20 percent zinc, and small percentages of nickel, lead, and iron. Professor Sebastiano Tusa, an archaeologist on the team recovering artifacts from a shipwreck dating to the early sixth century BCE off the coast of Sicily, claimed an X-ray fluorescent analysis of the metal had confirmed that it was orichalcum. Orichalcum is a highly prized and possibly mythical reddish metal said to have been mined on Atlantis.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeySet in the third century, Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion of Dodrazeb, a strange isolated kingdom that knows something about islands disappearing into the sea. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to hide from the world draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What are the Dodrazebbians so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


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Dive team that recovered the ingots and identified them as orichalcum.

While most scientists believe the island of Atlantis never really existed, others insist it may have been based on a real place that was swallowed by rising sea levels or destroyed by a tsunami. What we know about Atlantis comes from the Greek philosopher Plato, who may have invented the myth to illustrate his theories about politics. He tells us that orichalcum was so plentiful in Atlantis, it flashed with the dazzling “red light” of the metal. Highly prized and second only in value to gold, Plato says orichalcum was mined in the mythical island.

The existence of orichalcum and its composition has been widely debated. Ordinary brass is made from copper and zinc. Though it is not known for certain what orichalcum was, it has variously been describd as a gold-copper alloy, a copper-tin alloy, or copper-zinc brass, or a metal no longer known. The copper content in orichalcum is thought to be responsible for its red color.

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Location of the shipwreck off the coast of Sicily.

Some archaeologists believe that when the ancients referred to orichalchum, they actually meant amber. During the Late Bronze Age, the yellowish fossil resin was one of the main products traded through the Mediterranean along with other materials like silver, bronze, or tin. It makes more sense that orichalcum was amber if it was mined rather than created as an alloy of various metals.

Even if Atlantis is merely a myth, orichalcum could have been a real type of metal used by the ancients. If a metal with a particular reddish tint was highly desirable, large percentages of copper in the alloy could have achieved that result. And if the process used to create such a reddish metal was inordinately complicated, it could have been rare and as valuable as gold. Regardless, the discovery of the ingots and the continuing investigation of the shipwreck will yield valuable information about ancient artisan workshops.

Sources:

http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/rare-orichalcum-metal-shipwreck-legendary-atlantis-020158

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2901795/Does-strange-metal-2-600-year-old-shipwreck-prove-Atlantis-DID-exist-Mythical-red-alloy-said-lost-island-discovered-coast-Sicily.html

http://www.iflscience.com/chemistry/mysterious-metal-atlantis-found-shipwreck-sicily/

http://www.seeker.com/atlantis-legendary-metal-found-in-shipwreck-1769435405.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orichalcum

http://www.livescience.com/49354-atlantis-legendary-metal-found-in-shipwreck.html

http://www.ancient-code.com/legendary-atlantis-metal-found-shipwreck/

The Boy King’s Space Blade

Here’s some history that even fans of futuristic space operas can appreciate—one of the daggers buried with King Tut was made of extraterrestrial metal.

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King Tut’s burial mask

King Tut occupies a unique place in popular culture. Ancient Egypt’s “Boy King” was made famous in 1925 when archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the undisturbed tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and Tut has been making headlines ever since. Scholars have written enough books to fill the Great Pyramids of Giza concerning the circumstances of his youthful ascent to the throne, political intrigue during his brief reign, and the conundrum of his untimely death more than 3,300 years ago. Less scholarly, but more popular, are the lurid tales of a mummy’s curse that captured the public’s imagination with a death grip that has continued to tighten with recent CG-enhanced big-screen spectacles.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. Older and more mysterious than ancient Egypt, the strange kingdom of Dodrazeb ignites a Persian warrior’s curiosity when he leads an army to conquer it. Mesmerized by Dodrazeb’s puzzles, the warrior is determined to reveal its many layers of secrets as its desperate princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What have they been hiding from the rest of the world for thousands of years? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


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Interior of King Tut’s tomb

Every few years, scientists apply some new advanced technique to Tut’s mummy and artifacts to try to solve the enduring mysteries that swirl endlessly around his story like the thick curtain of a desert sandstorm. The latest headlines inspired by King Tut are really something out of this world. A study published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science declares that Tutankhamun’s blade is not made of iron from Earth, but from a meteorite that fell from space.

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The space dagger, crafted from meteoritic iron

Two daggers were placed in the folds of material used to wrap Tut’s mummified body. One was made of gold. The other had an iron blade with a decorated gold handle ending in a round crystal pommel, encased in an ornate gold sheath decorated in a pattern of feathers, lilies, and the head of a jackal. As property of the Pharaoh, though likely ceremonial, both daggers would have been extremely valuable, crafted from rare and precious materials.

The ancient Egyptians of Tut’s Bronze Age era referred to meteoric metal as “iron from the sky,” and considered it more valuable than gold. Most archaeologists agree that the few iron objects dating to Egypt’s Old Kingdom (third millennium B.C.E.) were probably produced from meteors as iron smelting was not introduced to the Nile Valley until thousands of years later.

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Close up of an iron meteorite

Observing that the dagger’s metal had not rusted and knowing that ironwork was rare in ancient Egypt, scientists have been intrigued by the remarkable gold-handled dagger with a crystal knob for decades. The Egyptian and Italian research team, led by Daniela Comelli of the Polytechnic University of Milan, analyzed the blade with an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. They found that its nickel and cobalt content are consistent with an extraterrestrial origin.

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The Chinese Nangan meteorite, similar to the Kharga meteorite

With their spectrographic analysis complete, the research team set out to identify exactly which meteor provided the iron used to create Tut’s dagger. They found one whose composition was nearly identical to the iron in the blade: the Kharga meteorite. It was found in the year 2000 on a limestone plateau in Mersa Matruh, a seaport west of the city of Alexandria.

The scientists who made the breakthrough hope that their findings will provide further insight into the use of meteoric iron in Tut’s era and help archaeologists understand the evolution of metalworking technology in the region.

Sources:

http://www.iflscience.com/space/king-tuts-burial-blade-was-forged-iron-meteorite/

http://nypost.com/2016/06/02/king-tuts-dagger-came-from-outer-space/

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/06/space-dagger/486185/

http://www.history.com/news/researchers-say-king-tuts-dagger-was-made-from-a-meteorite

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/02/africa/king-tut-dagger-meteorite/

http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-06-02/why-king-tut-had-awesome-dagger-outer-space

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/maps.12664/abstract

The Glorious Ruins of Ani

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The ruined church of the Holy Redeemer.

Location, location, location… As history teaches, any ancient settlement that survived and flourished for a significant period of time did so because it was located in a strategically defendable spot that provided easy access to water, fertile land for growing crops, space for herding livestock, and other amenities that attracted large numbers of people to live together. But in ancient times there were downsides to developing a thriving city in a great location as well. A bustling center of commerce attracted hostile invaders looking to plunder. A strong, established, and prosperous city invited unwanted attention from political rivals seeking to expand their influence and territory.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key, is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion of Dodrazeb, a strange kingdom isolated from the rest of the world. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to remain hidden draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What is she so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


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The Monastery of the Hripsimian Virgins, thought to have been built between 1000 and 1200 AD, near the height of Ani’s importance and strength. The Akhurian River below acts as the modern border between Turkey and Armenia.

The Armenian city of Ani in present-day eastern Turkey is a prime example of a magnificent medieval city that fell into ruin over the centuries. At the height of its prominence, Ani boasted numerous palaces, places of worship, and military fortifications that were some of the most technically and artistically advanced structures anywhere. The city is located on a triangular site at an elevation of 4,390 feet, protected on the east by a deep ravine and the Akhurian River, and on the west by the steep Bostanlar valley.

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A gate in the medieval walls of Ani.

Unlike many other prominent ancient cities, Ani did not spring up along any established trade routes. It was Ani’s size, power, and wealth that made it an important trading hub, attracting business from the Byzantine Empire, the Persian Empire, the Arabs, and smaller nations in Russia and Central Asia. Ani is first mentioned in the 5th century by Armenian writers who referred to it as “a strong fortress built on a hilltop and a possession of the Armenian Kamsarakan dynasty.”

As the Armenian Bagratuni Dynasty expanded, they acquired Ani. Between 953 and 977, King Ashot III transferred the capital there from Kars. In 992, The Armenian Church moved its seat to Ani. By the beginning of the 11th century, Ani was renowned as the “City of Forty Gates” and the “City of a Thousand and One Churches.” Its population was well over 100,000 and it housed the royal mausoleum of Bagratuni kings.

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Ani cathedral with Armenia’s Little Ararat in the background.

Ani’s downfall began soon after it achieved its apex of power. A quarrel between two sons of King Gagik I (989-1020) left one brother in control of Ani while the other ruled over other parts of the Bagratuni kingdom. Decades of escalated disputes led to attempts to capture Ani, but the city repulsed several attacks by Byzantine armies. In 1046 Ani surrendered to the Byzantines, spurred by many pro-Byzantine citizens among its cosmopolitan population. Then in 1064, an army of the Turkish Muslim Seljuk Empire attacked Ani. After a 25-day-long siege, they captured the city and killed many citizens.

In 1072, the Seljuks sold Ani to the Shaddadids, a Muslim Kurdish dynasty, who were tolerant of the city’s overwhelmingly Armenian and Christian population for several decades. But eventually the Shaddadid governance became too rigid, and the population appealed to the Christian Kingdom of Georgia for help—more than once. The Georgians captured Ani five times: in 1124, 1161, 1174, 1199, and 1209. During brief periods of peace, prosperity returned to Ani and its defenses were strengthened and many new churches were built.

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The Ani Cathedral, in the Turkey-Armenia border province of Kars, Turkey.

The Mongols tried to capture Ani in 1226, but didn’t succeed until 1236. When they captured and sacked the city, the Mongols also massacred large numbers of its population. Later ruled by many different Turkish dynasties, Ani was devastated by a massive earthquake in 1319. No longer the grand and important city it had once been, control of Ani passed through many hands as its population shrank. Reduced to a small town of no particular consequence, it became a part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1579. The site was abandoned by 1735 when the last monks left the monastery in the Virgin’s Fortress.

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Damaged frescoes of the church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents.

Eager to share their discovery, European travelers in the first half of the 19th century described the ruins of Ani in popular travel and academic journals. By then most of the structures were nothing but piles of rubble, but the grand public buildings and portions of the city’s double wall had survived. In the early 20th century, archaeologists professionally excavated large sectors of the city. Buildings were uncovered and measured, the whole site was surveyed for the first time, and emergency repairs were undertaken on buildings that were most at risk of collapse. A museum was established to house the tens of thousands of items found during the excavations. In 1918, during World War I, archaeologists saved thousands of the most portable items from the armies of the Ottoman Empire fighting their way across the region. Everything left behind was later looted or destroyed. Ani reverted to Armenian control when Turkey surrendered at the end of World War I, but Turkey recaptured it in 1920.

The archaeological site of Ani was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 15, 2016.

Sources:

http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2014/01/the-ancient-ghost-city-of-ani/100668/

http://www.kuriositas.com/2011/01/ani-ghost-city-of-1001-churches.html

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/five-towns-abandoned-after-disasters

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ani

Ancient Underground Cities

derinkuyu_graphicThe Cappadocia region of central Anatolia in Turkey earned a World Heritage site designation some time ago for its underground cities. They’ve been there for millennia, but most were forgotten when they were no longer needed for protection from invaders. In 1963, Derinkuyu became a popular tourist destination shortly after a man discovered a man-made passageway linked to subterranean tunnels while renovating his home.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. Older and more mysterious than ancient Egypt, the strange kingdom of Dodrazeb ignites a Persian warrior’s curiosity when he leads an army to conquer it. Mesmerized by Dodrazeb’s puzzles, the warrior is determined to peel back its layers of secrets as a desperate princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What have they been hiding for thousands of years? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground CityIn 2013, a public urban building project unearthed a complex of hand-carved rooms and tunnels beneath a Byzantine-era hilltop castle. The newer find in Nevşehir Province includes artifacts and hidden rooms interconnected by miles of tunnels that may date to 3,000 BCE. The new site appears to be even larger than Derinkuyu, an impressive 18-story underground city that once housed around 20,000 people. Millions of years ago, the region was buried under layer upon layer of volcanic ash. The hardened volcanic rock, known as “tuff,” provided a natural building material that was easy to work with. Because the caves are carved from natural rock, archaeologists can’t date their first use, but most agree that the Anatolian Hittites are the original builders.

derinkuyu-underground-city-roomWhen the region’s ancient inhabitants retreated to their subterranean homes, everyday life continued as usual. They carved out sprawling underground cities that featured apartments, stables, worship centers, ventilation shafts, tombs, water tanks, kitchens, and communal rooms. Some contained functional freshwater wells and stone doors for added protection. There are also arsenals for storing weapons, wineries, chapels, schoolrooms, staircases, and bezirhane—linseed presses for producing lamp oil to light the underground city. Hidden escape routes offered residents a last chance for a getaway.

1_460973772cappadocia-adapt-1900-1Over time, the need for hidden shelter varied. When dangerous invaders threatened, Cappadocians went underground, blocked the access tunnels with stone doors, and sealed themselves in with livestock and supplies until the threat passed. They lived comfortably in the year-round consistent temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In peacetime, people returned to building and living on the surface, using the subterranean city as cold storage for food and stables for livestock.

Sources

http://www.history.com/news/vast-underground-city-found-in-turkey-may-be-one-of-the-worlds-largest

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150325-underground-city-cappadocia-turkey-archaeology/

http://thehigherlearning.com/2014/08/25/a-man-just-discovered-an-ancient-underground-city-underneath-his-house/

http://sometimes-interesting.com/2014/05/09/derinkuyu-the-underground-cities-of-cappadocia/

When Did Cats Become Pets?

img_2873aCats and people began interacting as humans developed agriculture. As rodents and other small prey were drawn to stockpiles of grains and other food, cats were drawn to human settlements. Hungry felines were a boon to hardworking farmers, helping to dispose of critters who wanted to consume the harvest. At one time, researchers had believed that cats were domesticated by the Egyptians between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. The recent discovery of a human and a cat buried together on the island of Cyprus dating back 9,500 years has overturned that theory.

swordtodMy novel,Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key, is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. A Persian warrior discovers a strange kingdom isolated from the rest of the world. Dodrazeb claims to have influenced every ancient culture on earth, including the ancient Egyptians who may have gotten their love of felines from them. A sly princess is determined to sabotage the Persians to protect her kingdom’s ancient secrets. What is she so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com!

img_2980aChinese villagers 5,300 years ago may have had domesticated cats. Researchers excavating a village called Quanhucun found that both the humans and cats dwelling there ate a diet heavy in the grain millet. The cats most likely consumed rodents that fed on the humans’ stores of millet.

When did cats become domesticated pets, coexisting in households with human families and relying on them for food and shelter? Scientists aren’t sure, but they have determined by genetic analysis that the first major wave of cat expansion began in the Middle East. From there, cats spread into the eastern Mediterranean along with human farmers. A second major expansion, thousands of years after the first, took housecats from Egypt to Eurasia and Africa by sea between the fourth century BCE to the fourth century CE.

img_3096A DNA analysis of cat remains found at a Viking archaeological site in northern Germany dating to between 700 CE and 1000 CE shows that the seafaring warriors kept felines that had originated in Egypt. Cats were the most efficient way to get rid of rats and mice on board ships.

There’s another interesting tidbit revealed by studying the DNA of ancient cats. Tabbies didn’t exist until Medieval times, as the genetic mutation responsible for their distinctive stripes, spots, and whorls didn’t occur until then.

Today’s domestic housecats appeared between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago and are descended from a wild ancestor called Felis silvestris lybica. But unlike dogs that have been bred for specific desired traits and abilities for thousands of years, cats were never selectively bred until about 200 years ago. Furthermore, there is no genetic difference between house cats and feral cats that live wild and fend for themselves. Since most house cats are tamed feral cats that survived past six months of age, the personality traits in our beloved feline pets are the result of natural selection.

http://www.livescience.com/41984-cats-domesticated-china.html
http://www.livescience.com/56222-early-cats-travelled-with-vikings.html
http://www.livescience.com/40708-secrets-to-cat-personality.html