Ancient Artifacts: The Silent Witnesses Of Human Evolution And Culture – Beneath the dusty ruins of Xi’an, a city in the heart of China, an extraordinary army stands guarding the final resting place of an ancient emperor.
This is China’s Clay Army: a collection of over 8,000 real clay soldiers, complete with horses and chariots, each with distinctive facial features and clothing.
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Instead of preparing for war, this silent and passive battalion has an eternal duty – to preserve its kingdom in the afterlife.
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Historically, this clay army is associated with one of the most prominent figures of ancient China – Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, was the founder of the Qin Dynasty and the initiator of the construction of the Great Wall. In his quest for immortality, he built a magnificent tomb for himself, at the heart of which is the Clay Army.
The world first saw this amazing sight in the spring of 1974, when local farmers in Lantong County, outside Xi’an, stumbled upon a clay statue while digging a well.
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The discovery not only provides unprecedented insight into the art, military organization and religious beliefs of ancient China, but also sparks new interest in China’s historical heritage and highlights the greatness of the Qin Dynasty.
The Terracotta Army has captivated the world with its thousands of unique, meticulously crafted sculptures ever since, becoming a symbol of China’s rich historical tapestry and the enduring legacy of its first emperor.
Emperor Qin Shi Huang, a strong and visionary leader, is best remembered for uniting the warring states of China into a unified empire…
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The mummy once rested in a mysterious Tenerife cave whose location has been lost to history, although experts may have pinpointed its origin.
Canary Islands, Spain, I’m standing on a cliff-side path that leads to the sea, about four kilometers away. This is the place: a cave, the entrance of which is barely visible. I look at the rising cliff. I feel it turn toward me and point to its hiding place: hundreds of caves formed over the centuries by mountain lava flows. Any of these could be the cave we seek – here, history is yet to be written.
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Inside this strait in Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, a magnificent cave was discovered in 1764 by Spanish viceroy and infantry captain Luis Roman. A local priest and contemporary writer described the discovery in a book about the island’s history: “A magnificent pantheon has been discovered.” It was so full of mummies that there were no less than a thousand people. And thus the story of a thousand mummies was born. (Read about the different types available around the world.)
Few things are more interesting than navigating the blurred line between history and legend. Now, two and a half centuries later, in the gorge known as the Barranco de Herques—also known as the “Death Trap” because of its burial caves—we find ourselves there. We find what most local archaeologists consider to be legendary. Cave”. Thousands of mummies. There are no written coordinates. Its location is spread by word of mouth among a select few. Passers-by are unaware of its existence.
In the company of island friends, I feel like I have been shown a place where they believe their ancestors once rested. I entered the narrow corridor, turned on my headlamp and fell to the ground. To find this hidden realm, we crawl a few claustrophobic meters on our bellies. But there’s a reward for pushing myself hard: a long, wide room suddenly opens up before me, promising a journey back into the island’s past.
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“As archaeologists, we believe that the phrase ‘thousands of mummies’ was probably an exaggeration, a way of showing that there were really hundreds,” said Mullah Alvarez Sousa, a local historian and Egyptologist. In the dark, our eyes adjust slowly. We scan the space for telltale signs of a cemetery in a meandering lava tube, part of a wider system across the island.
This was not the first mummy to be discovered on the island. But according to local tradition, a large buried cave houses the pantheon of the nine Mansi kings who once ruled the islands.
The location of the cave was a closely guarded secret. And there were no reports of it, which only elevated it to the Holy Grail of Canary archaeology. Locals believe that they will not reveal the location to preserve the memory of their ancestors who rested there, the Guanche, the indigenous people of the island – to this day there are no separate settlements on the Guanche. Others say it was lost in a landslide and buried forever. (Go to the beaches of the Canary Islands.)
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What can be certain for the 18th century explorers is that when these mummies were removed from their resting place, they lost their place. But the precious few—from that cave and others—that survive and are housed in museum collections help scientists tell the island’s story: when and where the first inhabitants came from, and how their dead died. rejected
This map of the Burial Cave in Tenerife, published in a book in 1746, was based on the account of a Welsh doctor who claimed to have visited the site. This matched the description of a tomb discovered 20 years later by a Spanish captain – called the Cave of a Thousand Mummies.
Tenerife was the last island that came under the crown of Castile in 1494. This was not the first conflict between the islanders and the Europeans, but it was the last. Álvarez Souza imagines the exact opposite, when at the end of the 15th century, at the beginning of the Renaissance, soldiers were on ships and swords on horses. They encountered people who emerged from the Neolithic period, cave dwellers who wore animal skins and used wood and stone tools. “But they still honored their dead and prepared them for their final journey,” says Alvarez Sosa. “Save them.”
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Fascination with death led colonists to describe funeral rituals. Álvarez Sosa says: “This is what attracted the attention of the Castilian conquerors in the first place. In particular, they were attracted to the emotional process—merlado—that produced the licorice, as the Guanche mummies call it, forever.
The cave walls are silent. I think that Louis Roman, plunged into darkness, felt this fear when, inspired by the spirit of enlightenment and the companionship of the natives, he entered Neropolis to obtain specimens for study. He transported the bodies to Europe, where in the 18th century mummies were a scientific curiosity as well as a novelty. Both researchers and collectors were interested.
I picture the moment the Romans raised their torches to reveal hundreds of frozen corpses. He must have been overcome by a combination of fate and passion. Surprisingly, the author who summarized his visit report omitted the location. If the intention was to protect the cave from looting, he failed miserably: by 1833, several sources confirmed that no bodies remained. (Learn more about Egyptian royal mummies.)
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I stood up and wiped the white dust from my hands and knees. My headlamp is lighting up the walls brightly. Even though I know it’s impossible, I still long in my heart to find a xaxo (pronounced hahoo) in some corner or corner, as described by Vera and Carnation.
The method of keeping these bodies to fight against time and nature was surprisingly simple. “It’s the same process you use with food,” says Alvarez Sosa. The body was treated with dried herbs and salt, dried in the sun and smoked with fire. It takes 15 days to prepare an exo, compared to 70 days for an Egyptian mummy (40 days to soak in natural natron salts, then 30 days before filling the body cavity with bandages or cloth). is used in fabric). Another important difference: historically, the Canary Islands participated in the process of owning women, taking care of women’s bodies.
Rosa Fragel, a geneticist, pulls a mummy’s tooth for DNA testing to identify it
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