More of Tel Dan Temple is Unearthed

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Steps leading to the temple platform.

Discoveries continue at the northern Israel site of “Tel Dan” near Mount Hermon and the location of one of the region’s greatest ancient temples. Late Neolithic people first settled the area as early as 4500 BC, and Bronze Age inhabitants constructed the world’s oldest known gated archway.
According to Popular Archaeology:
Known today as Tell el-Qadi, more popularly as "Tel Dan", the site is located near Mount Hermon in Northern Israel adjacent to one of the sources of the Jordan River. The 'Tel', or mound, was defined very early on during the Middle Bronze period when massive defensive ramparts were constructed, encircling the city. 
It was first identified based on historical records as the city of Laish, a town allied with the Phoenician Sidonians and later renamed "Dan" after the early Isrealite tribe of Dan, which conquered and settled it as documented in the Book of Judges. 
Thanks to a bilingual Greek and Aramaic inscription found at the site in 1976, this city name has been confirmed. Translated, that inscription reads, “To the God who is in Dan, Zoilos made a vow.”
Ancient Egyptian texts and cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia document Dan’s significance during the second millennium BC.  Later, during the Iron Age, Aramaeans, Israelites, and Assyrians battled over the city. Dan was a recognized cultic center even into the Greco-Roman period.

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Talisman of God Bes is Discovered

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Ancient Egyptians may have used a newly discovered bug-eyed artifact to magically protect children and pregnant mothers from evil forces.
The pale green talisman is made of faience, a delicate material that contains silica. It dates to the first millennium B.C. and is believed to show the dwarf god Bes with his tongue sticking out, eyes popping and wearing a crown of feathers. 
Carolyn Graves-Brown, a curator at the Egypt Centre, discovered the artifact in the collection of Woking College. It wasn't until she learned of a similar artifact in the British Museum that she was able to determine that it is a faience Bes bell, one of a very few known to exist.
"If you try to rattle it much it would (have) broken easily," she said. "Faience is very often used for objects that have a magical or religious significance in ancient Egypt."
According to LiveScience.com:
Making the find more intriguing is the quirky character of Bes himself. A dwarf god and protector of pregnant mothers and young children, Bes may look goofy to us with his tongue sticking out, however, his appearance, tongue and all, had a purpose. 
Graves-Brown explained that he would sometimes bare sharp teeth and "it's assumed, but it's not known, that this [appearance] was supposed to scare off evil spirits and evil entities.”
Flinders Petrie, an archaeologist who encountered items similar to this, wrote in 1914 in his book Amulets that bells like these were probably "worn by children against the evil eye."
Click here for the article.
Top photo is newly discovered talisman, lower is bas-relief of Bes.

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Were Neanderthals Earliest Artists?

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Detail from the El Castillo Cave in Spain.

The unexpected old age of some European cave paintings raise the possibility that Neanderthals rather than Homo sapienswere the earliest painters ~ either that, or humans began painting earlier than previously thought.
“It would not be surprising if the Neanderthals were indeed Europe’s first cave artists,” says João Zilhão, an archaeologist at Spain’s University of Barcelona.
According to Wired.com:
Researchers led by Zilhão and Alistair Pike of the United Kingdom’s University of Bristol measured the ages of 50 paintings in 11 Spanish caves. The art, considered evidence of sophisticated symbolic thinking, has traditionally been attributed to modern humans, who reached Europe about 40,000 years ago. 
Traditional methods of dating cave paintings, however, are relatively clumsy. Even the previous best technique — carbon dating, or translating amounts of carbon molecule decay into measurements of passing time — couldn’t discern differences of a few thousand years. 
Instead of carbon, Pike and João Zilhão’s team calibrated their molecular clocks by studying mineral deposits that form naturally on cave surfaces, including paintings. The thicker the deposits, the older the painting. And as the reseachers describe in a June 14 Sciencepaper, some of the paintings are very old indeed.
 “What’s really exciting about this possibility,” said Pike, “is that anyone, because it’s open to the public, could walk into El Castillo cave and see a Neanderthal hand on the wall.”

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