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Oldest Known Cremation in The Near East, From 7000 BC

Oldest Known Cremation in The Near East, From 7000 BC


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Archaeologists have unearthed parts of a nine thousand-year-old individual’s body in Israel who was burned or cremated in a ritualistic way. This discovery has established a new milestone for the oldest known cremation ever found in the Near East. A new paper published on PLoS ONE by a team of scientists from the French National Centre for Scientific Research , says the young adult’s burned remains were discovered in a pit in northern Israel that they’ve dated to between 7013 BC and 6700 BC. This remarkable discovery represents “The oldest known cremation in the Middle East .”

Oldest Known Cremation: Cultural Shift in Funeral Practices

The man’s body was discovered at an excavation at the Neolithic archaeological site of Beisamoun which was discovered in 1945 in northern Israel, near a small Palestinian Arab village, about 16.5 kilometers (10.25 miles) northeast of Safad. The scientists deduced that the man had been intentionally burned in a “pyre-pit” as part of a funerary process . The 9,000-year-old cremated remains mark what is described in the new paper as an early “cultural shift in funeral practices.” Based on the evidence found so far from this 9,000-year-old corpse, this new style of dealing with the bodies of the dead required temperatures over 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit (700 degrees Celsius).

The Beisamoun pyre field, where the cremated burial site remains were discovered in northern Israel. ( © Mission Beisamoun )

According to lead researcher Dr Fanny Bocquentin, the body was put in the ground in a sitting position inside a pit that appeared to have been built with an open top and “strong insulating walls.” All that remained of the cremated individual were the feet, ribs, shoulders and part of the man’s left arm. Further forensic inspection of the individual’s shoulder blade led to the discovery a small flint projectile point embedded in the left shoulder bone. The bone healing process indicates that the person died a few months after being hit by the projectile.

How Do Researchers Know So Much About A Death in 7000 BC?

You might be wondering how scientists could determine this was an intentional cremation of an individual. Who’s to say the man didn’t accidentally set himself on fire and fall into a pit lined and ready to store food? Or perhaps the shoulder injury caused an infection that the tribe felt could infect others and he was burned for sanitation reasons. The find in Israel is especially fascinating because of all the telling forensic evidence found in the pit.

Excavation of the pyre pit. (© Mission Beisamoun)

The U-shaped cremation pit was 31 inches (80 cm) wide and 24 inches (60 cm) deep and archaeologists discovered it had been “lined with reddish mud plaster” similar to the bricks used by Neolithic people at this time in their homes. The pit was also believed to have been lined with flowers based on a study of the ashes. The study researchers also said that “it appears that the burial pit was designed to function as a kiln.” And with such a range of evidence it becomes clear that this person was cremated, and that the cremation was a ritual at that time 9,000 years ago.

Picture of bones in situ: A. Segment of axial skeleton: ribs and vertebrae exposed in the middle of the structure. B. Right coxal in situ; preserved almost complete by a piece of collapsed mud wall (see Fig 2D ). C. Four right pedal proximal phalanges found directly under the right coxal. (© 2020 Bocquentin et al / PLoSONE)

Measuring The Nature Of A 9,000-Year-Old Fire

The study researchers also provided their conclusions of how the individual was burned. In terms of “funerary processes,” the corpse was arranged in a “seated position” in the pit with his upper body leaning against the southern wall. Dr Bocquentin wrote that it is possible that the body had originally been placed on a wooden pallet above the pyre because the bottom of the pit doesn't show signs of burning. This could be because the fire wasn't as hot at its base. However, the walls of the pit were all found to be heavily charred because the fire would have been hotter in the oxygenated air, higher up, the researchers wrote in the study. And when the body began to burn, the upper torso fell forward, rotated, and then stayed in that position for the next 9,000 years.

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In the conclusion section of the study, Dr Bocquentin wrote that cremation is a redefinition of “the place of the dead in the village and in society.” The discovery dates to an important period of transition in funerary practices in this region of the world, when old traditions were replaced by new practices such as cremation. One could say that these kinds of changes, including cremation, set the ancient world “on fire!”

The full report is available from PLoS ONE, doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235386.


This 9,000-year-old skeleton is the oldest cremation in the Near East

The cremated remains are a reminder of what archaeology can, and can't, tell us.

ashes to ashes - dust to dust

It seems like these Neolithic people should be remembered if they were this far ahead of the game in many respects, this is just another reason its worth understanding their history.

They if anything they urned it

Puns and bible quotes. Has ars come to this?

As a mortician put it to me. the bodies sit up during cremation. (assuming placed face up)

Also if this was the only one like it. an assumption might be an outcast or criminal's burial (thief, coward, murderer, etc, etc.)?

Don't know what ARS is, but Ars definitely has.

Kiona muscling in on Beth's pun game. I look forward to future entries.

As a mortician put it to me. the bodies sit up during cremation. (assuming placed face up)

Also if this was the only one like it. an assumption might be an outcast or criminal's burial (thief, coward, murderer, etc, etc.)?

Reading this (the whole article), it seems like a lot of wishful thinking and assumptions. We'll never know the answers to most/all of this and postulating a reason for anything is pure speculation with a twist of logic.

Don't know what ARS is, but Ars definitely has.

Kiona muscling in on Beth's pun game. I look forward to future entries.

Puns and bible quotes. Has ars come to this?

I alternate between puns, and non-puns, but I think the cumulative withdraw of stopping puns cold turkey would literally kill me. Seems to be a large part of my posting.

As a mortician put it to me. the bodies sit up during cremation. (assuming placed face up)

Also if this was the only one like it. an assumption might be an outcast or criminal's burial (thief, coward, murderer, etc, etc.)?

Reading this (the whole article), it seems like a lot of wishful thinking and assumptions. We'll never know the answers to most/all of this and postulating a reason for anything is pure speculation with a twist of logic.

It's no fun if only the archaeologists & anthropologists get to guess.

Could be that wood became more available. It takes a lot to properly burn a body. Maybe a nearby forest regrew to supply enough wood to allow cremation. Or the town won a battle that gave them access to a nearby plentiful wood supply. Maybe that family's floor was full ancestors and they didn't want to disturb granny to bury a young adult and chose cremation instead. Not every activity has to be based solely on religious beliefs.

The cremation dates to a time of social and cultural change in the region around what is now northern Israel. Around 7000 BCE, people abandoned many of the larger settlements in the region the archaeological record shows homes and villages falling into disuse and disrepair. Until that time, people in villages like Beisamoun had often buried their dead in the floors of their homes. People evidently wanted to keep their ancestors and relatives close to the center of family life. At Beisamoun, people stuck around, but they started building in a lighter construction style and stopped burying dead relatives under the floor. It marked the end of a period that archaeologists working in the Levant call the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, which is precise but not terribly catchy.

It’s no coincidence that the oldest evidence of cremation in the Near East dates from this same time of cultural and social change. “The way you handle the dead is directly connected to beliefs,” Fanny Bocquentin, an archaeologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), told Ars.

Here's a wonderful case of someone overthinking the religious while ignoring the practical.

Plague, people. It makes people do things differently. The religion is then tuned to accommodate the practice. Beliefs don't change so they wouldn't do this unless something else outside changed them for a very specific reason.

This is what would happen for one of three things: Disaster (like drought), war, or disease.

I'll rule out disaster, since evidence of that would be wide-spread. As would that of war. That means a disease of some kind likely hit the region. Unless it left tell-tale marks in the survivors, odds are good that the evidence of whatever disease it might have been decomposed with the bodies.

There are a lot of candidate diseases that could arise from the practice of burying your dead in your home.

But the LAST thing I'd think about was the religious beliefs spontaneously changing for no reason. There had to have been one hell of a good reason to do that. Going from burying your dead in your home's floor to burning them and building so you don't bury your dead in your house anymore, strongly points to compelling practical reasons for doing that. And from the way they changed, it sounds like they encountered something nasty that made them realize that it's not a good idea to bury your loved ones in your living room.

Otherwise I'd expect no changes in religions without some compelling outside influence. Look at the course of history and religions. They only change when something outside makes them change. You don't alter the traditions of the tribe without good reasons. Wars, drought and diseases account for most of those changes.

"About 9600 BCE, people living in northern Israel had started settling in permanent villages, growing crops, and raising livestock. Around that time, they also started burying their dead in more complex ways, like removing the skull (cranium) before burial. The last evidence of cranium removal shows up in the archaeological record around the same time as the earliest cremations, around 7000 BCE."

Why would they remove the cranium before burial?

Also, I doubt it's purely coincidence that ending skull removal for burial and the beginning of (limited) cremation occurred concurrently. I wonder what's up with that simultaneity.

The cremation dates to a time of social and cultural change in the region around what is now northern Israel. Around 7000 BCE, people abandoned many of the larger settlements in the region the archaeological record shows homes and villages falling into disuse and disrepair. Until that time, people in villages like Beisamoun had often buried their dead in the floors of their homes. People evidently wanted to keep their ancestors and relatives close to the center of family life. At Beisamoun, people stuck around, but they started building in a lighter construction style and stopped burying dead relatives under the floor. It marked the end of a period that archaeologists working in the Levant call the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, which is precise but not terribly catchy.

It’s no coincidence that the oldest evidence of cremation in the Near East dates from this same time of cultural and social change. “The way you handle the dead is directly connected to beliefs,” Fanny Bocquentin, an archaeologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), told Ars.

Here's a wonderful case of someone overthinking the religious while ignoring the practical.

Plague, people. It makes people do things differently. The religion is then tuned to accommodate the practice. Beliefs don't change so they wouldn't do this unless something else outside changed them for a very specific reason.

This is what would happen for one of three things: Disaster (like drought), war, or disease.

I'll rule out disaster, since evidence of that would be wide-spread. As would that of war. That means a disease of some kind likely hit the region. Unless it left tell-tale marks in the survivors, odds are good that the evidence of whatever disease it might have been decomposed with the bodies.

There are a lot of candidate diseases that could arise from the practice of burying your dead in your home.

But the LAST thing I'd think about was the religious beliefs spontaneously changing for no reason. There had to have been one hell of a good reason to do that. Going from burying your dead in your home's floor to burning them and building so you don't bury your dead in your house anymore, strongly points to compelling practical reasons for doing that. And from the way they changed, it sounds like they encountered something nasty that made them realize that it's not a good idea to bury your loved ones in your living room.

Otherwise I'd expect no changes in religions without some compelling outside influence. Look at the course of history and religions. They only change when something outside makes them change. You don't alter the traditions of the tribe without good reasons. Wars, drought and diseases account for most of those changes.

Puns and bible quotes. Has ars come to this?

I alternate between puns, and non-puns, but I think the cumulative withdraw of stopping puns cold turkey would literally kill me. Seems to be a large part of my posting.

some people don't know when to quit.

"About 9600 BCE, . they also started burying their dead in more complex ways, like removing the skull (cranium) before burial."

Why would they remove the cranium before burial?

Some people know when to quit.

As a mortician put it to me. the bodies sit up during cremation. (assuming placed face up)

Also if this was the only one like it. an assumption might be an outcast or criminal's burial (thief, coward, murderer, etc, etc.)?

Reading this (the whole article), it seems like a lot of wishful thinking and assumptions. We'll never know the answers to most/all of this and postulating a reason for anything is pure speculation with a twist of logic.

A scientific hypothesis is similar to a speculation, but quite different in that it conforms to everything else that has been learned from previous studies. An interesting article like this would not be read here it it included all previous studies for comparisons.

The reasoning described in the article seems consistent. I'll bet that if it were someone's wild speculation based on some "gut feel" without consistency with other known facts, that person would gain greatly reduced standing in the future.

Sure. And you've made some good points. But be careful not to anachronistically apply our life in the twenty-first century to life in the Levant 9,000 years ago, when it was likely that religious/cult beliefs were so deeply embedded in culture and individuals as to be constitutive of who they were as a culture or as an individual. We're not talking about someone who has some vague religious belief that the preacher talked about last Sunday when we were in a hurry to get home to watch that old rerun of Star Trek. We're talking about beliefs that defined these people and subconsciously and consciously informed everything they did, collectively social or individually.

Don't know what ARS is, but Ars definitely has.

Kiona muscling in on Beth's pun game. I look forward to future entries.

Nowicki (second post) doing some skilled muscling in, too.

I would have said: 'Ashes to ashes, funk to funky", as I prefer Bowie's take on it.

Nit-pick: the PNAS article says 7031 not 7013 BCE. You transposed the last two digits.

More importantly: they don't have anything like single-year precision from carbon dating, which is what they say they're using. So I'm not sure where that number comes from.

I had a chuckle at the caption to the header photo.
A few thoughts on the article: Veneration of ancestors and burying them in the home wasn't limited to the Near East, nor was the practice of cranium removal before disposal of the body be it by burial or cremation. Ancient evidence of both practices has been found in Britain.
The article mentions that during the time this individual was cremated that people had abandoned living in large settlements and the buildings had fallen to disrepair, so some kind of calamity had hit the region and led to a breakdown in society such as economic upheaval or any number of contributing factors that can have a snowball effect with one leading to another leading to another. The fact this individual was cremated in a rundown section of buildings but was burned in a prepared site raises some interesting questions and speculation. That it was a prepared site and contains only one individual pretty much rules out the 'It's plague, people.' raised earlier in the thread. Since great calamity has and will lead to great societal change in the span of a generation, it shouldn't be surprising it happened there in that time. If the old time religion ain't workin' so well maybe a new way might be worth a try. When times seem like they can't get much worse people have been known to change their mind in a hurry.

Nit-pick: the PNAS article says 7031 not 7013 BCE. You transposed the last two digits.

More importantly: they don't have anything like single-year precision from carbon dating, which is what they say they're using. So I'm not sure where that number comes from.

I debated about posting this, as I know it a cheap shot, but…

Isn't Earth supposed to be 6000 years old?

Those Neolithics sure had it easy. Nowadays they find bodies under the floor sealed with plaster and people are getting all kinds of bent out of shape.

Maybe they were burying people in the half-crumbled houses in the abandoned side of town because. that was their family's home.

Sure. And you've made some good points. But be careful not to anachronistically apply our life in the twenty-first century to life in the Levant 9,000 years ago, when it was likely that religious/cult beliefs were so deeply embedded in culture and individuals as to be constitutive of who they were as a culture or as an individual. We're not talking about someone who has some vague religious belief that the preacher talked about last Sunday when we were in a hurry to get home to watch that old rerun of Star Trek. We're talking about beliefs that defined these people and subconsciously and consciously informed everything they did, collectively social or individually.

This is a sample size of one so hard to draw definitive conclusions. As someone who has spent a lot of time doing role playing games, it is fun to try to role play why this one person was treated different. Plus religious practices rarely develop while ignoring economic or resource realities. Unlikely that a culture would develop burial beliefs requiring cremation if it took a month of total village effort to gather enough fuel for one body.

Other ideas for why this person was treated different:

1. They were the last of their line and had no family floor to be buried under.
2. They were a well thought of foreign mercenary who while being tended for their injuries expressed a desire to be cremated when they died.
3. They did something that resulted in excommunication from the local church and therefore they were denied the normal burial process.

As a mortician put it to me. the bodies sit up during cremation. (assuming placed face up)

Also if this was the only one like it. an assumption might be an outcast or criminal's burial (thief, coward, murderer, etc, etc.)?

I was going to suggest they've just found the oldest recorded murder victim. See, we're all still savages at heart.

Those Neolithics sure had it easy. Nowadays they find bodies under the floor sealed with plaster and people are getting all kinds of bent out of shape.

And think of all the trouble John Wayne Gacy went through.

Here's hoping they were dead when cremated, and not as an offering, or because they were a witch. Or because they were an outsider, or because they said something that offended someone. People it seems have always been people.

The temptation to paint the people of the past as credulous fools, doing everything because of belief rather than thinking of them as "same as us" - greedy, petty, "doing what it takes to make ends meet", brave, kind, etc. Human behavior is (and I would posit always has been) a spectrum (and not always "because of gods").

The cremation dates to a time of social and cultural change in the region around what is now northern Israel. Around 7000 BCE, people abandoned many of the larger settlements in the region the archaeological record shows homes and villages falling into disuse and disrepair. Until that time, people in villages like Beisamoun had often buried their dead in the floors of their homes. People evidently wanted to keep their ancestors and relatives close to the center of family life. At Beisamoun, people stuck around, but they started building in a lighter construction style and stopped burying dead relatives under the floor. It marked the end of a period that archaeologists working in the Levant call the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, which is precise but not terribly catchy.

It’s no coincidence that the oldest evidence of cremation in the Near East dates from this same time of cultural and social change. “The way you handle the dead is directly connected to beliefs,” Fanny Bocquentin, an archaeologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), told Ars.

Here's a wonderful case of someone overthinking the religious while ignoring the practical.

Plague, people. It makes people do things differently. The religion is then tuned to accommodate the practice. Beliefs don't change so they wouldn't do this unless something else outside changed them for a very specific reason.

This is what would happen for one of three things: Disaster (like drought), war, or disease.

I'll rule out disaster, since evidence of that would be wide-spread. As would that of war. That means a disease of some kind likely hit the region. Unless it left tell-tale marks in the survivors, odds are good that the evidence of whatever disease it might have been decomposed with the bodies.

There are a lot of candidate diseases that could arise from the practice of burying your dead in your home.

But the LAST thing I'd think about was the religious beliefs spontaneously changing for no reason. There had to have been one hell of a good reason to do that. Going from burying your dead in your home's floor to burning them and building so you don't bury your dead in your house anymore, strongly points to compelling practical reasons for doing that. And from the way they changed, it sounds like they encountered something nasty that made them realize that it's not a good idea to bury your loved ones in your living room.

Otherwise I'd expect no changes in religions without some compelling outside influence. Look at the course of history and religions. They only change when something outside makes them change. You don't alter the traditions of the tribe without good reasons. Wars, drought and diseases account for most of those changes.

The first thing I thought of was disease or a combination of disease and famine/war as an underlying cause. Abandoned buildings (if correct) being used to bury the dead indicates a relatively "fast" population decline. All three can drive to that conclusion, as well as mass poisoning as is suspected with at least some of the Mayans IIRC. However, moving the dead burials from in-house to an abandoned house indicates a major change in how the dead were viewed, like they were infecting the living. So to honor their dead according to custom, but to save themselves, they buried them in the now abandoned houses, away from the survivors.

But, it is just an interpretation of the details presented, and assuming that certain aspects, such as the houses being abandoned and falling in ruins are true.

Here's hoping they were dead when cremated, and not as an offering, or because they were a witch. Or because they were an outsider, or because they said something that offended someone. People it seems have always been people.

The temptation to paint the people of the past as credulous fools, doing everything because of belief rather than thinking of them as "same as us" - greedy, petty, "doing what it takes to make ends meet", brave, kind, etc. Human behavior is (and I would posit always has been) a spectrum (and not always "because of gods").

Purpose and forethought don't rule out nefarious circumstances.

Dexter (TV series and books) had no problem with extreme preparation and ritual before murdering his victims. Witch trials were diligently conducted using laws, tests, and rituals perfectly reasonable to those believing witches existed and were a serious threat. Witch trials could be impressive prolonged examples of logical legal "proofs", as was often the case with religious inquisitions.

It's hard to place limits on what people will do to others once they are programmed with the appropriate distortion of a belief system.

A body left in the crematorium sort suggests that those who were to remove or cover the body. Since death rites generally are an important thing for humans throughout history, that suggests to me that something really bad like war or disease, would be the sort of answer for why the body was left there after.

A scientific hypothesis is similar to a speculation, but quite different in that it conforms to everything else that has been learned from previous studies. An interesting article like this would not be read here it it included all previous studies for comparisons.

The reasoning described in the article seems consistent. I'll bet that if it were someone's wild speculation based on some "gut feel" without consistency with other known facts, that person would gain greatly reduced standing in the future.

All of this discussion assumes a 100% homogeneous culture. Maybe this particular person or family was from somewhere else, where cultural practices and beliefs around death were different.

Not really. Migrations, trade and resettlements are one of the causes of shifts in beliefs and practices like this. A persuasive preacher coming in from the outside, new settlers bringing practices from the old country, traders far from home requesting their traditional burial practices, or locals adopting the practices of victorious enemies since the enemies appear to be more favoured by the gods, are all potential seeds of new practices, as well as locals finding that the old ways aren't filling their needs anymore and trying to come up with something new themselves. The main point is that gradually people across a region were taking up new burial practices and beliefs, wherever the ideas first came from.

The cremation dates to a time of social and cultural change in the region around what is now northern Israel. Around 7000 BCE, people abandoned many of the larger settlements in the region the archaeological record shows homes and villages falling into disuse and disrepair. Until that time, people in villages like Beisamoun had often buried their dead in the floors of their homes. People evidently wanted to keep their ancestors and relatives close to the center of family life. At Beisamoun, people stuck around, but they started building in a lighter construction style and stopped burying dead relatives under the floor. It marked the end of a period that archaeologists working in the Levant call the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, which is precise but not terribly catchy.

It’s no coincidence that the oldest evidence of cremation in the Near East dates from this same time of cultural and social change. “The way you handle the dead is directly connected to beliefs,” Fanny Bocquentin, an archaeologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), told Ars.

Here's a wonderful case of someone overthinking the religious while ignoring the practical.

Plague, people. It makes people do things differently. The religion is then tuned to accommodate the practice. Beliefs don't change so they wouldn't do this unless something else outside changed them for a very specific reason.

This is what would happen for one of three things: Disaster (like drought), war, or disease.

I'll rule out disaster, since evidence of that would be wide-spread. As would that of war. That means a disease of some kind likely hit the region. Unless it left tell-tale marks in the survivors, odds are good that the evidence of whatever disease it might have been decomposed with the bodies.

There are a lot of candidate diseases that could arise from the practice of burying your dead in your home.

But the LAST thing I'd think about was the religious beliefs spontaneously changing for no reason. There had to have been one hell of a good reason to do that. Going from burying your dead in your home's floor to burning them and building so you don't bury your dead in your house anymore, strongly points to compelling practical reasons for doing that. And from the way they changed, it sounds like they encountered something nasty that made them realize that it's not a good idea to bury your loved ones in your living room.

Otherwise I'd expect no changes in religions without some compelling outside influence. Look at the course of history and religions. They only change when something outside makes them change. You don't alter the traditions of the tribe without good reasons. Wars, drought and diseases account for most of those changes.

The first thing I thought of was disease or a combination of disease and famine/war as an underlying cause. Abandoned buildings (if correct) being used to bury the dead indicates a relatively "fast" population decline. All three can drive to that conclusion, as well as mass poisoning as is suspected with at least some of the Mayans IIRC. However, moving the dead burials from in-house to an abandoned house indicates a major change in how the dead were viewed, like they were infecting the living. So to honor their dead according to custom, but to save themselves, they buried them in the now abandoned houses, away from the survivors.

But, it is just an interpretation of the details presented, and assuming that certain aspects, such as the houses being abandoned and falling in ruins are true.


What to consider when looking for a funeral home or cremation service

Are you comfortable with the service you receive?

Your comfort should take first priority when preparing for a funeral. If you’re not comfortable with the funeral home or the people helping you, look elsewhere.

  • Personal service: Funeral preparations can be personal, delicate processes. Work with someone who listens to your concerns and gives you proper direction. You should never feel pressured into making arrangements that you don’t want to make.
  • Cultural observations: Make sure your funeral home will help you with any cultural arrangements you need. Many provide services in multiple languages.

Does the home offer pre-planning service?

Pre-planning your or someone else’s funeral can help you budget for funeral costs. It also helps your friends and family who have to oversee final preparations.

  • Online planning: Some companies allow you to start the pre-planning process online. They usually have free online pre-planning resources available.
  • Personal advisor: Take the time to meet with a personal advisor. They will make sure you know the service options they offer.
  • Payment plans: The most common reason for pre-planning your funeral is to save money. You can set up a plan to prepay for your or your loved one’s funeral. This way, if you have life insurance, that money can go directly to your beneficiaries instead of paying funeral costs.

What type of products do I need to buy for a funeral?

When you start planning a funeral, you will need to buy either a casket for burial or an urn for cremation.

  • Casket and urn selection: Your options for choosing a casket or urn will vary among funeral services. Funeral homes that do not carry the casket or urn that you want may be able to order it for you.
  • Other remembrance products: Funeral homes offer other remembrance products. These include specialty picture frames, medallion cases and more. Ask the funeral director about these products.

What should you consider when choosing a location?

Choosing where to have the memorial service is a personal as well as practical decision.

  • Transfer of service: Some preplanned funeral services are transferable in case you move somewhere else. If you move often or think you may move, make sure your funeral plan can move with you.
  • Travel reimbursement: Some funeral services can reimburse friends and family who must travel to attend the funeral. This is especially useful if you plan for a funeral in a remote location.

What other considerations are there?

Some funeral homes offer additional services, like writing obituaries or scattering ashes. Talk with your funeral home director to see if you need any of these.

  • Obituary service: Some funeral and cremation services include written obituaries. You give the funeral director or staff the information to include, and they write the obituary or hire a third-party writer.
  • Ash scattering: Your or a loved one’s last wishes may include scattering cremains. Some services specialize in scattering ashes in specific locations.

Robin Wright

Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer

J. Robin Wright is a Licensed Funeral Director and embalmer who is certified by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice as a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner. Robin is dually licensed in both Florida and Tennessee. She is a graduate of John A. Gupton College in Nashville Tennesse with a degree in Mortuary Science in 2000. In 2003 Robin graduated with a B.A.in Management and Human Relations from Trevecca Nazarene University, also in Nashville. She earned her Master in Management in 2012 and a Master in Theological Studies in 2013 both from Liberty University Lynchburg, Va.

Robin is an Adjunct Professor of Funeral Service at Florida State College of Jacksonville where she has been teaching the next generation of Funeral Directors since 2005. Robin is a Veteran (Desert Shield Desert Strom) serving in the Army and the Tennessee Army National Guard from 1990- 2000. Robin is a member of the Disabled Veterans of America Chapter 20 in Lake City Florida.

Robin attends Christian Fellowship Temple in Macclenny Florida where she and her husband are active in Children’s Church. Robin is married to Brian and has two beautiful children. She serves as the Pack Committee Chair for Cub Scout Pack 555 in Macclenny, Fl and the Advancement Chair for American Heritage Girls Troop 0518 also in Macclenny. She enjoys Atlanta Braves Baseball and University of Tennessee Football and Basketball. She enjoys spending time with her family traveling and outdoors.


California just made it legal to liquefy a corpse

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Whereas the “Big Four” cemeteries around Lone Mountain were generally reserved for San Francisco’s well-off citizens, Golden Gate Cemetery opened in 1868 and generally served the city’s working-class, immigrant, indigent population. The photo above shows the same Chinese funerary structure in 1914, in the golf course’s formative years. As for the Legion of Honor, it’s experienced two major skeletal discoveries: when it first broke ground, and again in 1993 during seismic renovations, when crews found almost 800 bodies.

What it used to be: Two Jewish cemeteries

The next time you sit on a hilly patch of Dolores Park grass facing the San Francisco skyline, take a look down and appreciate that it used to belong to these Jewish cemeteries: Home of Peace (between 18 th and 19 th Streets) and Hills of Eternity (19 th and 20 th Streets). Both cemeteries closed in 1888 and moved to Colma, where they keep the same names today. (Photo: OpenSF History)

What it used to be: Odd Fellows Cemetery

The homes and businesses that surrounded the Columbarium used to be the grounds for this Big Four cemetery, which opened in 1865 and belonged to the Order of Odd Fellows. This is the cemetery where the body of a 3-year-old girl nicknamed “Miranda” was left behind when bodies were exhumed in the early 1900s. Her body was found in an elaborate coffin under an Inner Richmond home. Most of the bodies buried here were moved to Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma by 1923.

What it is now: Angelo J. Rossi Playground

The Inner Richmond playground, named after San Francisco’s 31 st mayor, includes grounds for basketball, baseball, swimming, and tennis. Just don’t be surprised if the occasional human femur turns up.

What it used to be: Lone Mountain Cemetery, then Odd Fellows

Before the Big Four cemeteries were named, they composed Lone Mountain Cemetery, opened in 1854 on said mountain. Rossi Playground stands above where Odd Fellows Cemetery, once part of Lone Mountain, used to be.

Courtesy of OpenSFHistory.org Show More Show Less

What it is now: Target on 225 Bush Street

This Target is a new addition to the Financial District, having opened in 2015. But the area surrounding it has seen many lives (and deaths).

What it used to be: Bush Street Cemetery

The origins of Bush Street Cemetery, which ran between Montgomery and Sansome Streets, aren’t entirely known. But we do know that remains here were moved to Yerba Buena Cemetery after 1850. This went on to be the same block where the old Mercantile Library resided on 216 Bush Street.

What it used to be: Calvary Cemetery

San Francisco’s Catholic cemetery (seen from Buena Vista Park in 1948) was reluctant to uproot its remains after the 1901 order to vacate, believing that the dead deserve a permanent home. But by 1940 it had sent its 55,000 or so bodies to Holy Cross Cemetery. (Photo: OpenSF History)

What it is now: UCSF Laurel Heights Campus

This medical-research campus exists in a four-story building originally bought by the Firemen's Fund Insurance Company in 1953.

What it used to be: Masonic Cemetery

Before USF moved to this area in 1927, Masonic Cemetery opened in 1864 and occupied 30 acres (this map is from 1873). It closed its doors in 1931, when the university was just beginning to expand. About 19,900 bodies were moved to Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma, aside from the occasional skull that still turns up.

What it used to be: Greek Cemetery

The soccer field lies approximately at the southeast corner of what would have been a small Grecco-Russian cemetery commonly known as Greek Cemetery (this 1947 photo was taken on Turk and Parker, which would have been very close). According to SF Geneology, it only lasted about 10 years, closing in 1896 with about 60 bodies that were moved to Golden Gate Cemetery. (Photo: OpenSF History)

What it used to be: Russian Hill Cemetery

There have never been many Russians living in Russian Hill. So how did the neighborhood get its name? No one knows exactly when, but sometime in the early-to mid-1800s, a small cemetery opened around the Vallejo Street Vista Point for Russian sailors, who weren’t allowed to be buried in a Catholic cemetery (in San Francisco’s Gold Rush days, such people would be covered up with dirt where they lay). Blackett’s San Francsico Cemeteries site estimates there were 30 or 40 graves here, with the bodies later moved to Golden Gate Cemetery in 1853. There’s a plaque at the vista point’s summit that includes some of its history.

What it is now: San Francisco General Hospital

Technically, we’re talking about San Francisco General parking lots near the western corner of San Bruno Avenue and 21 st Street.

What it used to be St. Michael’s Cemetery and Magdalen Asylum

St. Michael’s opened in 1867 – this 1890s map shows its location – and closed in 1932, with bodies being moved to Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma. The above photo of the cemetery is from a book called “The Life of Mother Mary Baptist Russell, Sister of Mercy,” published in 1901.

Bordering the cemetery was Magdalen Asylum/St. Catherine’s Home, a Catholic-run home and school for “desperate women, homeless men or other troubled souls,” according to a Chronicle article from 2003. The asylum opened in 1869 and was sold to the city in 1932.

The life of Mother Mary Baptist Russell, Sister of mercy Show More Show Less

What it is now: Buena Vista Park

What it has: Headstones from past SF cemeteries

There’s never been a cemetery underneath Buena Vista Park in the Lower Haight. But people brought the cemetery to the park anyway. A park-restoration project in the 1930s lined the park’s storm drain with the headstones from unclaimed graves at Golden Gate Cemetery – many of which belonged to immigrants with no family to claim the exhumed remains. The headstones were supposed to be turned over out of respect for the dead, but either through human error or a dark sense of humor, a few names and dates can be seen in the gutter. You can find the drain if you enter the park from the eastern side of Haight Street and work your way uphill to the right.

As early as 2020, Californians will be able to pursue a new option for end-of-life remains: water cremation.

On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 967, a controversial bill that's been making the rounds around the nation over the last several years. It makes it legal to dispose of human remains through a process commonly referred to as water cremation (or alkaline hydrolysis, aquamation or bio-cremation).

Despite its name, water cremation does not involve flushing a dead body down the toilet or drowning it in hot water. In fact, it's more of a bath. The body is put in a steel, pod-like vat and bathed in alkaline solution for about four hours.

All that's left afterward are the clean, natural bones, which are crushed into ashes and returned to the family. The alkaline solution simply accelerates the ecosystem's natural breakdown of a body.

According to Matt Baskerville, a funeral director in Illinois who uses alkaline hydrolysis, the consistency of ashes is different, too. Unlike the coarse and dense texture of ashes post-flame cremation, flameless cremation gives the final production (of the human body) a consistency of ivory powdered sugar. It also doesn't require any implants that would normally explode in flame cremation, like pacemakers or other titanium, to be removed beforehand.

Baskerville said that the process produces 20-30 percent more ashes than flame cremation.

The process is on the front lines of a major movement to "green-ify" death. There is growing concern over the carbon footprint that both the burial and standard cremation processes leave in their wake. Cities are running out of burial space and many of the materials used in burials &mdash including the embalming liquids and caskets &mdash have toxic effects on the environment.

According to a 2016 report from the National Funeral Directors Association, more people used cremation than burial in 2015, and that number has grown over time. But eco-advocates say regular flame cremation isn't the greatest when it comes to the environment either.

Joe Wilson, the CEO of Bio-Response Solutions &mdash a company that specializes in liquid cremation &mdash told Seeker earlier this year that the energy used in just one flame cremation could heat a house in Minnesota for a whole week in the winter.

An average of 300 gallons of water, depending on the manufacturer, is used per human body during water cremation.


History

Sites characteristic of Golasecca culture have been identified in eastern Lombardy, Piedmont, the Canton Ticino and Val Mesolcina, in a territory stretching north of the Po River to sub-alpine zones, between the course of the Serio to the east and the Sesia to the west. The site of Golasecca, where the Ticino exits from Lake Maggiore, was particularly suitable for long-distance exchanges, in which Golaseccans acted as intermediaries between Etruscans and the Halstatt culture of Austria, supported on the all-important trade in salt.

In a broader context, the subalpine Golasecca culture is the very last expression of the Middle European Urnfield culture of the European Bronze Age. The culture's richest flowering was Golasecca II, in the first half of the sixth to early fifth centuries BCE. It lasted until it was overwhelmed by the Celts in the fourth century and was finally incorporated into the hegemony of the Roman Republic.

Golasecca culture is divided for convenient reference into three parts: the first two cover the period of the ninth to the first half of the fifth century BCE the third, coinciding with La Tène A-B of the later Iron Age in this region and extending to the end of the fourth century BCE, is marked by increasing Celtic influences, culminating in Celtic hegemony after the conquests of 388 BCE. The very earliest finds are of the Late Bronze Age (ninth century), apparently building upon a local culture. Ώ]

Cremation near the burial site, followed by ash and bone burials in terracotta jars, in excavated pits set at determined distances one from the other in scattered necropolises, characterize a culture of many small village settlements.

In Golasecca culture some of the first evolved characteristics of historic society may be seen, in the specialized use of materials and the adaptation of the local terrain. The early-period habitations were circular wooden constructions along the edge of the river's floodplain each was built on a low basement of stone round a central hearth and floored with river pebbles set in clay. Hand-shaped ceramics, made without a potter's wheel, were decorated in gesso. The use of the wheel is known from the carts in the Tomb of the Warrior at the Sesto Calende site. Amber beads from the Baltic sea across the Amber Road and obsidian reveal networks of long-distance trade. From the seventh century onwards some tombs contain burial goods imported from Etruscan areas and Greek objects ΐ]

The settlements depended on domesticated animals: remains reveal the presence of goats, sheep, pigs, cattle and horses. Some legume and cereal crops were cultivated nuts and fruits were collected. The dugout boats from Castelletto Ticino and Porto Tolle are conserved at the museum of Isola Bella. Metal, though rare, was in increasing use.

Approximate distribution of languages in Iron Age Italy during the sixth century BC.

Undeciphered written characters are found incised in ceramics or on stone.

The Golasecca culture is best known by its burial customs, where an apparent ancestor cult imposed respect of the necropoli, a sacred area untouched by agrarian use or deforestation. The early-period burials took place in selected raised positions oriented with respect to the sun. Burial practices were direct inhumation or in lidded cistae. Stone circles and alignments are found. Burial urns were painted with designs, with accessory ceramics, such as cups on tall bases. Bronze objects are usually of wearing apparel: pins and fibulas, armbands, rings, earrings, pendants and necklaces. Bronze vessels are rare. The practice of cremation persists into the second period (early sixth to mid-fourth centuries).

The old sites—Golasecca, Sesto Calende, Castelletto Ticino—maintained their traditional autochthonous character through the sixth century, when outside influences begin to be detectable. At the beginning of the fifth century, pastoral practices resulted in the development of new settlements in the plains.

The first finds were discovered at several locations in the comune of Golasecca in 1824, by the antiquarian abate Giovan Battista Giani, who identified the clearly non-Roman burials as remains of the battle between Hannibal and Scipio Africanus Α] . In 1865 Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet, a founder of European archaeology, rightly assigned the same tombs to the early Iron Age. The modern assessment of Golasecca culture is derived from the campaigns of 1965-69 on Monsorino, directed by Mira Bonomi.


Ligures

The Ligures (singular Ligus or Ligur English : Ligurians, Greek : Λίγυες ) were an ancient people who gave their name to Liguria , which once stretched from Northern Italy into southern Gaul . According to Plutarch they called themselves Ambrones which means ¨people of the water¨. The Ligures inhabited what now corresponds to Liguria , northern Tuscany , Piedmont , part of Emilia-Romagna , part of Lombardy , and parts of southeastern France .

Classical references and toponomastics suggest that the Ligurian sphere once extended further into central Italy (Taurisci): according to Hesiod 's Catalogues (early 6th century BC) they were one of the three main "barbarian" peoples ruling over the Western border of the known world (the others being Aethiopians and Scythians ). Avienus , in a translation of a voyage account probably from Marseille (4th century BC) speaks of the Ligurian hegemony extending up to the North Sea , before they were pushed back by the Celts . Ligurian toponyms have been found in Sicily , the Rhône valley, Corsica and Sardinia .

It is not known for certain whether they were a pre-Indo-European people akin to Iberians a separate Indo-European branch with Italic and Celtic affinities or even a branch of the Celts or Italics. Kinship between the Ligures and Lepontii has also been proposed. Another theory traces their origin to Betica (modern Andalusia ).

The Ligures were assimilated by the Romans , and before that by the Gauls , producing a Celto-Ligurian culture.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Black Bile (the practice of maturing wisdom)

At 9 a.m. the heat is already oppressive. The Bodh Gaya mosquitoes have found a hole into our netting and hang bloated from the inside of the white curtain, their bodies glutted with fresh blood. Perhaps the blood is not mine, though, as I can't remember being disturbed in my sleep.

This morning I feel the weight of the heat oppressing me. The air seems difficult to breathe and yet this is not the hottest part of the year. Little wonder that the Lodge is nearly empty.

I muse on the purpose of our journey:

"The feeling of not being connected to any specific tradition leaves one at sea. Sure, I can be an artist here in no-man's land (this land of the Intrepid Tourist, depending on your point of view) but where is the captive audience? And there's no sense thinking of myself as an artist explorer, since every tourist with a plane ticket has gone this route before me and probably much further into the mountains than I'll ever reach. So where are we exactly and of what possible interest could our location be to others? Aha! A dawn of light. Is not our position only relative to the position of others? And have I not often gauged my own "location" in my meetings with other travelers on the road? On the road to where is beside the point. It's just that, from my point of view, being on the road, being fully present here, is the whole goal and object, not some specific or even undetermined destination, outwardly. And so the trip to Nepal could also be a trip to Disneyland, depending on the point of view."

With my newly shaved head and dressed in my bright colored Indian-made clothing I sit breathing and being, my journal poised on my lap, feeling the pull of gravity, dreaming, outlining imagined possibilities, appreciating, trying to define, listening, trying not to judge. Dealing with my "bad mood".

My thoughts now turn to music. We have been invited to a pot luck dinner tonight at the Kagyu Temple and I was asked to bring my "instruments". However, I find I am hesitant to do so because the whole scene has the feel of a diversion and an entertainment. What am I thinking? I'll probably enjoy myself. Yet the thought of sharing music just to "strut my stuff" does not appeal to me. I would rather the music be in a prayerful, meditative setting.

My conceptions are killing any sense of fun I might be having. My stuffed up head and congested nasal passages are also killing my sense of fun but this is not enough to stop me from enjoying a milky cup of mucous-producing coffee with my toast this morning. My fear of others seeing my own shortcomings is killing my sense of fun. Will they even like my music? I don't want to be just another bored westerner, spending time with other bored westerners in India, yet here is my karma coming at me again. Deal with it my son!

This morning I have been thinking of Nicholas Roerich. "His life in India was heavily creative, mingling elements of art and religion. I like to think that I am traveling here with similar motives and yet what kind of creative work am I actually doing? Roerich was connected to artistic and religious circles. Who am I connected to? What meaning does my interest in art have for others? What effect am I actually having on the world around me? As far as I can see, none or very little. Only my love of art and truth keep me playing this role in my life. And as I see it, most of the time it is a protection against a possible, less-idealistic life such as day-laborer, taxi-driver, civil servant, wage slave, etc.

I choose my own highest conception, happy in the ability to play the role of make-believe so well, while others are trapped in killing self-images which their lifestyles crystallize around them."

I find it interesting in talking to Karen later that she is also going through a similar period of self-doubt, sorting and processing things in her mind. This bout of nagging thought and depression however is not isolated. It is connected with something that will soon follow.

Later that evening after our routine of circling the Mahabodhi Temple and praying we purchase a large quantity of fruit in the market and back at the lodge, concoct an enormous fruit salad in a borrowed stainless steel bowl. Then, guitar in hand and kids in tow we wend our way under a waning moon to the Kagyu Temple for the pot luck.

To my surprise, when we arrive there is a already a large group of mostly unfamiliar people gathered out on the moonlit, candle-lit balcony, seated on mats around a central banquet of fruit and sandwiches. They all seem genuinely glad to see us and we settle quickly into a pleasant and surprisingly easy, "judgementless" conversation.

After eating, I am asked to play and am accompanied by Marianne's husband David , who is ringing a Tibetan bell. This provides an interesting mix, the bell, although off-key from the guitar, falls together with it harmonically and rhythmically in places. The effect is hypnotic and meditative and I don't have to worry about the "entertainment" aspect of it at all, as it seems quite prayerful and genuine.

After a while, Marianne picks up my guitar and plays a lovely little song called "Waltzing on the Stars", singing in a beautiful, full voice and she follows this with "The Rose". David then recites some poetry written by his Nyingmapa guru. This was interesting especially since he'd just been showing me some ritual instruments, the bell, the vajra , the dagger that transmutes lust, ignorance and greed into their opposites by stabbing it into the sky and a little double-headed drum made of the tops of human skulls that is played right-handed while the bell is rung in the left.

Under the light of a three-quarter moon, the effect of the poem accompanied with these instruments is pleasing and I recall hearing that Tantric practitioners meditate in graveyards at night as part of their personal confrontation with fear and that they actually conjure up spirits as part of their practice of maturing wisdom.

This gives depth to the poem being recited which read in part: "With the vajra thunderbolt in hand/I practice this black magic/If the spell succeeds that's okay/If it fails that's okay/Meanwhile I continue to practice the highest wisdom". However, I still entertain the feeling that his guru is treading a very "fine line", for in my own mind, black magic is a poor substitute for the highest wisdom.

David asks me if I am working with any spiritual group and my self-questioning of earlier today floods back to me. I admit that I am formally unaffiliated with any group.

Now, the evening gathering is drawing to a close and one of the girls present lends our family her waiting rickshaw. We carry our now-sleeping children downstairs to the rickshaw and walk slowly home beside it. My hand is in my pocket on my rosary and I am doing a silent japa. My emotional and mental state is unstable tonight and I too appear to be treading a "fine line". Small noises startle me, specters seem to be waiting around corners in the moonlight and I become the walking image of Ichabod Crane, fearful to look behind lest some horrible apparition appear.

In the distance, the low roar of a motor scooter sounds to me like the barking of a ferocious dog and I redouble my efforts at keeping my thoughts on my japa. Suddenly, behind us, I hear the bark and then the growling of a real dog. Fear floods through my body and with a great effort I bring it under control. It seems to me at this moment that to the degree I succeed, the growling of the dog subsides.

The next morning Karen wakes with a high fever and heavy diarrhea. The doctor visits and sends the hotel attendant into the village for some medicine. She remains in bed and I have my hands full, nursing her and caring for the children.

By mid morning, her skin has turned yellow, her bowel movements and urine are both jet black and she is semi-comatose, either sleeping or murmuring in a half-awake state. The anti-diarrhea pills prescribed by the doctor went through her system undissolved and came out whole, in her stool.

I am dosing her with Electrosol powder which is supposed to replace the body fluids and salts and with a vitamin supplement. I have this crazy notion that what she is going through is a kind of physical/psychic catharsis sand that the medication won't really help, that she just has to let it run its course. I don't say this to anyone of course and continue to do what the doctor has advised.

I am worried. The girls have been feverish too and affected by their mother's "absence" are frustrated and incapable of enjoying themselves. They are fighting, whining, asking for something to eat which they throw away the moment they get it, lying down, jumping up, scratching at mosquito bites and generally miserable. I am trying to be helpful and caring but I am becoming more and more short-tempered with them. I am disappointed in myself. By late afternoon I find myself shouting at them to be quiet. I am even starting to get angry with Karen.

In the middle of this ordeal, a staff member arrives with a lovely floral bouquet for Karen's bedside and I am touched and softened by the gesture. Another staff member comes to change the bed sheets and is constantly asking if I need anything. I am buoyed by the feeling that somehow we are getting through this.

Finally, Karen's temperature breaks and she takes a turn for the better. Her skin color is returning to normal and she is now sleeping peacefully. I sigh and sit down to write in my journal when Nika calls me from the bathroom. Now she, too, has diarrhea and moments later it is Chaya's turn.

The thought now comes to me that they haven't been boiling the water enough, as we had originally asked them to do, to safeguard our health. This morning, I now recall, Nika had been given a glass of water that hadn't been boiled at all but I'd been so busy I hadn't paid attention.

Karen asks for some clear soup to be prepared for her and I suggest they make enough for the children too. Perhaps that will provide the nourishment they need right now. During my reading, comparing notes from different travel books, I discover that the anti-diarrhea medication contains an ingredient that is purported to cause nerve damage and so, doctor or not, I decide to stop administering it to her or the children.

Late evening, and the kids are finally asleep. Karen is awake enough now to read a book under the mosquito netting and I sit down to write:

"About 4:30 I dragged the kids off to the Mahabodhi Temple by way of a diversion. I promised them a nice soft drink when we returned to spur them on. Nika of course floundered, whined and generally protested that she didn't want to go, while fussing to be carried and generally dragging ass. Magically, the back gate through the park to the temple, which is always locked, was open, so we were able to go quickly there, avoiding the bustle of the streets and the market on the way."

"We made two or three difficult rounds, with the monks as usual joking with the kids, making passing remarks or just giving a good-natured smile. At the main entrance to the temple a group of sadhus which looked like a guru and his disciples, although all of them were quite venerable-looking, were just emerging from inside. The one I noticed first seemed absolutely blissed out, looking a lot like Baba Ram Dass in his late sixties incarnation. They took notice of us and stopped to ask where we were from. There was a short exchange of pleasantries and then a really thrilling parting benediction. We saluted each other with joined palms, in the local fashion and I felt a slight chill pass through me or rather a warm tingling sensation accompanied by a feeling of goodness, as though they really did wish us well and really were happy to see us there. I can't help wondering whether this encounter will lead us to even deeper similar encounters, for I feel I have much to learn."

Two Shaved Heads

The day begins on an off note. We rise too late and I am grumbling because Karen won't get up. I bathe and dress the children, order coffee, swallow my grouchiness, take a cup in to Karen and write a little in my journal. I have a head cold that is causing me further discomfort and am becoming edgy and irritable with everyone. Finally it is mutually agreed that I go off by myself for a little walk.

I head towards the Gelugpa Tibetan Temple, the one we visited the other day and it is still locked! As I am turning away, I see Karen and the girls coming toward me in a bicycle rickshaw. Both our moods have improved and Karen suggests that I wait with the girls while she checks around the back to see if anyone is there. Soon she is waving from the front gate, for me to go around the back and as I start around the side of the temple I am met by a monk who explains in fairly good English that the temple is closed because the maintenance staff are on strike!

We all walk up to the road together and it becomes clear that he is not a Buddhist, but a monk of the Ramakrishna Order in Calcutta and I immediately suggest he come to meet our hotel manager who belongs to the Ramakrishna Mission. However, there is some confusion in our schedules, we part company and the proposed meeting never happens. I am disappointed because when I described the monk to the manager he became very excited and asked "Is Swamiji coming for lunch?", explaining to us that the man we met was a very senior monk in the order, whose lecture he had attended in Gaya only yesterday.

I muse on the fact of these many encounters we have had, so real at the moment and then evaporating like smoke or like the clouds in the thangka paintings we see later on at the Kagyupta Temple where the Australian nun has invited us. Robin is her name, and she is just leaving out the front gate as we arrive, going to check her mail. She tells us to go ahead inside the main temple which is in a state of semi-completion with scaffolding and bare cement walls on all sides.

The first thing we notice is the traditional sumptuous and ornate decor on the ceilings with its heavy, scrolled, golden laminations and spinning energy wheels. Then, covering one entire wall and part of another behind us we see a mural, not traditional at all but very modern and gorgeous. It depicts scenes from the life of Buddha, beginning with the elephant that appears in his mother's dream, the infant boy in a halo of light and so on. The figures are all life size, the colors rich, plentiful and light-suffused so unlike the darker traditional Tibetan colors.

Finally, up on a scaffold in the corner, we see the artist herself working. She's a Danish girl from Copenhagen, Marianne Rydvall. She is a mother and the mother's energy is very evident in her work. In fact the first figure in the mural is the Buddha's mother, reclining on a bed of clouds and lotus, dreaming of a wonderful elephant, while the buddhas in the sky look on. The colors are pastel, vivid and light and there is a clarity and simplicity to the detail that gives one a sense of a marvelous balance and rhythm unfolding. I tell her this of course and hope that I am not "gushing" too much but she seems pleased by my interest and compliments.

Yesterday at the Barabar Caves Karen and I came up with a plan to do a recording there. The hotel manager had encouraged this idea and said that he might even be able to get us government sponsorship for the project. Now the idea occurs to me that Marianne's artwork could appear on the cover and I suggest this to her. She seems interested and invites us upstairs to meet her baby son Sky and her husband David, who we have already seen, doing "taking-refuge-in-the-Buddha-Dharma" prostrations outside the Mahabodhi Temple.

Robin, the nun, has hot lemon tea brought in for us all and we have a short conversation on the subject of travel to Katmandu. Then Robin takes us to see the puja room, replete with 1000 bronze buddhas waiting to be moved to their traditional showcase in the main temple.

She shows us a picture of Karmapa, the recently deceased head of the Kagyu lineage and another of her teacher, a disciple of Karmapa and also a tulku, named Benu Chentse Rinpoche, whose address in Katmandu she has already given us.

We both like Robin and find her very clear and non-egocentric, freely letting us into her thoughts and lifestyle and thus opening up a line of inquiry into the Kagyu lineage for us. Karen and she relate beautifully to one another.

Karen is describing a very painful past experience which she had while in meditation and begins to weep. I watch Robin for a reaction. There is none. Karen leaves for a moment to recover from the weeping and the conversation continues smoothly between us. When Karen returns, there is no mention and no blame. Nothing happened but we all feel better!

Robin explains how the new Karmapa will be the 16th or 17th in his lineage and how, before the old lama dies, he leaves a letter for the senior lamas to be opened only after his death, which names the location of his "new" birth and the names of his parents. They then go in search of the new tulku who they usually locate quite young, looking for signs in him of recognition of his previous life.

About her teacher she doesn't say much, except that he will be happy to see us because it is his form of compassion that he has incarnated as a lama to help others toward liberation. I don't get such a glowing recommendation of this teacher's compassion from Marianne, however, who relates to me the story of how she was commissioned to do this mural in the temple but has not received any money, as she was promised, nor materials nor even plane fare and that the Rinpoche, when it comes to matters of money, is far from fair-minded.

Apparently a Moslem named Mohammad has put up the money for this Tibetan temple to be built! He also sent along an extra $100,000. for art materials for Marianne. So far she hasn't seen a dime. The Rinpoche had not told her anything about it and was meanwhile trying to whittle down their original agreement to "bed and breakfast", threatening her to bring in another artist to finish the job she started if she didn't agree. She is only staying on because she is committed to the work itself and is hoping things will somehow right themselves.

We are also introduced to Tara, another Westerner staying at the temple, who suggests a trekking plan for the Katmandu area but tells us all manner of unpleasant things that might happen to us, enough to change our minds if we didn't already have visas. She also informs us that Lama Govinda has recently died in California and I am disappointed to learn that now I will never get to meet the illustrious Master whose words on art and religion have moved me so deeply through the years.

Back at the Lodge, Karen and I come to a decision. Perhaps it's the influence of all these monks but we mutually agree that the time has come to have our heads shaven! So, on our behalf, the manager summons a local barber and the staff gather around to watch the crazy foreigners have their heads shaved in the courtyard.

The young barber upon his arrival wastes no time. After first consulting us to make sure that we want our heads completely shaved and perhaps slightly non-plussed at this request, he produces a straight razor and whetting it a bit, proceeds directly to his task. Great clumps of stripped hair cascade to the ground and in a matter of minutes Karen and I are completely bald.

How strange to see myself in a mirror. I seem to recognize my face as belonging to some else but can't place who. I suddenly feel very "Buddhist". There is something of the feeling of a "spiritual confirmation" in this for both of us.

The staff do not know quite what to say and one of them bursts out in an uncomfortable laugh at the sight of Karen being shaved. The kids have their hair cropped close but not shaved and think the whole experience "neat" before forgetting it completely. We then all set out for the Mahabodhi Temple to do our walking puja and are greeted with friendly smiles of delight by all the monks who meet us.

I pause to read the inscription on a mani stone which I think is the HUM symbol which I had seen in Lama Govinda's books. Karen is standing alongside of me and suddenly exclaims that there is a hurt bird lying at my feet. I look down and the bird begins fluttering along the ground, while another bird standing on a nearby railing, begins chirping loudly, as if in alarm. Karen quickly picks up the bird and the same thought comes to both of us at once, of the stories I have told her of the several unusual experiences I have had, discovering a hurt or "dead" bird, picking it up and having it "come to life" in my hands and fly away healed. So she hands me the bird!

I see immediately that the whole tail-feather section is "on crooked", probably broken. I cradle the bird in my palms until we reach a fairly secluded patch of green lawn and flowers, among the stupas and there lay the bird down with a silent prayer that God will help it. I can't imagine trying to "doctor" the bird and feel suddenly quite helpless and unequal to this experience. The "magical" power to help the bird is nowhere in evidence now and a silent prayer on its behalf is clearly no help.

As we walk away I am left with my conflicting emotions over this incident. I feel brought down to earth by it and yanked right out of the realm of my imagination and fantasy world of how things might be. I spend the rest of the day wondering about this incident and about its significance to me.

If I have suddenly become more "Buddhist" by shaving my head and saying my prayers, this has not eased my responsibility in the material world in any visible sense. I think of the Zen poem "I do nothing, yet the leaves fall and blossoms come into bloom" and my heart lifts slightly.

Bodh Gaya

This morning we purchase train tickets for Gaya, the jumping off point for Bodh Gaya, our destination. This is the site where, as legend has it, Lord Buddha attained the state of enlightenment while sitting under the "Bo" tree. We return to our hotel to pack and once again our makeshift altar is bedecked with flowers and incense, the room scrupulously cleansed. I express regret that we have to leave so soon but our journey calls us. Karen has the hotel staff pack us a lunch of rice and chapatis for the train and we depart in style, ready for all contingencies.

We arrive in Gaya at 10 p.m. an hour behind schedule and take a bicycle rickshaw to what has been described as a good hotel. Children and luggage piled on the seat we walk through the filthy squalor of the streets toward our destination. We are shocked that this city looks so slum-like, even after dark.

To our dismay the hotel is full and so we continue on down the line visiting various smaller, seedier-looking hotels and getting into arguments and even a shouting match with a hotel owner and with our rickshaw driver, who seems to be in league with the hoteliers. Tempers worn thin, we finally resolve to return to the railway station where we fall in with a band of intrepid travelers like ourselves, also heading to the same destination, who have run into the same problems this evening. Together, we resolve to rent a taxi and travel to Bodh Gaya this very night.

By now it is after midnight and the locals' advice about the dangers of being accosted by armed bandits along the country roads adds a sense of adventure we had not anticipated. The taxi driver has taken another man along , who is presumably armed, for our protection.

We speed full-tilt through the dark countryside, the rubber blade of the upraised dagger hood ornament cleaving the highway center line and I fully expect a group of gun-toting thieves to leap from the bushes in the headlights' glow and take us all hostage, such is the atmosphere in the taxi.

I experience a great sense of relief as we pull up outside the darkened structure of the Ashok Traveler's Lodge, certain that this hotel, being part of a major Indian chain, will provide us with a clean room and good hot meal before bed. To our dismay, however, the electrical power is out and so, aided by flashlight and candle, we sign the guest register and stow our luggage before joining the rest of the group around the dining room table for a welcome cup of hot tea. There is no food at this hour but the electricity comes back on and we able to fall asleep to the cooling, soothing hum of an overhead fan.

The next morning we are out in the intense sunlight and dry heat making our rounds of the Buddhist temples in the area. Many Asian countries are represented here and there is even a mosque nearby, the azan, or call to prayer having reached our ears in the early morning, hauntingly and melodiously.

The main temple is the Mahabodhi Temple, dating from the 3rd century and restored from a state of almost complete ruin by the British in 1858. The spiring, intricately carved structure strikes me as an ancient blueprint for a modern power generating station, complete with stupa-insulators.

When we arrive, the place is packed with mostly Asian tourists and Buddhist monks from different countries wearing their brightly colored robes. We pay our .50 paise admission and begin circulating through the grounds.

At the back of the temple is the "Bo" tree, a Pipal tree, actually, which was grown from a sapling sent back here from the original which has been replanted in Sri Lanka. The "offspring" itself is now old and venerable looking, draped in colorful prayer flags and surrounded by monks who are meditating or lighting incense sticks under its branches. The monks smile at our children as we pass and hand them incense sticks.

The tisbeh or rosary given to me by Ali Moosa is in the pocket of my vest and as I circumambulate the temple in the company of the monks, the tourists and my family, I chant my silent zikr, bringing Islam and Buddhism together in the moment, unknown to any of my fellow pilgrims.

Finally, we enter the dim-lit, candle-flickering interior which is nearly empty and we meditate under the serene golden gazes of the huge bronze buddhas sitting silently within.

Karen is a good barometer of the energy around places we visit and here she is quite chipper, happily enjoying herself and browsing through the souvenir stands nearby. This is an unusual temple as it is also sacred to Hindus and there is a section near the main entrance in which all the statuary is of Hindu origin. I had not realized until now that Lord Buddha is also sacred to the Hindus and they have there very own version of him represented here.

At lunch the same day, the hotel manager stops by our table to introduce himself and the subject of the nearby Barabar Caves comes up. He dissuades us from going on our own due to the presence of those ubiquitous local dacoits and insists on driving us himself the next morning. His only condition is that we go in the company of a police escort and since the chief of police in Gaya is his personal friend, this should pose no problem. "Just tip the captain 100 rupees and buy them a bottle of whiskey and everything will be okay", he suggests.

Later on in the day the manager notices me reading a booklet on mediation published by the Ramakrishna Mission and informs me that he is associated with this Mission and would love my family to meet his wife and daughter over tea that evening. The walls of his small apartment are decorated with pictures of Sri Ramakrishna and his consort, Sara Devi, the Holy Mother, as she is called. He plays us a recording of some devotional music from the mission, some Ravi Shankar and also some music by a nephew of Shankar who has composed it for a travel seminar, commissioned by the hotel chain he works for, in 1978. Then he plays us some of Ghalib's ghazzals sung by a 65 year old woman with an incredibly powerful voice whose name I neglect to write down and thus can not remember.

My oldest daughter Chaya who is four years old had a fever earlier on in the afternoon which has by bed time risen to 104 degrees and we are worried. The local doctor is called and pronounces it a "light" stomach infection for which some medication is prescribed, dispensed and given on the spot. We stay up late, talking with an English couple who had accompanied us from Gaya and then, just as we are preparing for bed Nika, who is two, wakes up and has a crying bout that lasts an hour or so.

We get about an hour's sleep and are up at 4:30 a.m. for the journey to the caves. To our surprise, the police "escort" is a military truck full of police, who in this part of the country look , dress and feel like the army. With us on the trip is a young English girl who we have come to know recently and we fill the manager's tiny car as we rocket and buffet over the bumpy country roads, through a landscape that is flat, arid and stony. I can't imagine where thieves would hide here. However, as we approach the caves, the area becomes more hilly, with large outcroppings of huge rocks and finally we arrive, piling out of the car in the dusty heat.

At first glance it is obvious that this is not the site that was used in the filming of "Passage to India". These hills and caves are much smaller, but far more mysterious looking once one gets up close. Dating from the 3rd century BC, the caves are formed into the solid rock by what looks to be a combination of natural and human forces. Perhaps the original caves had been formed by volcanic action, creating huge "bubbles" in the rocks as they were cooling.

The interior walls of the caves seem "finished" or polished to a high, reflective gloss and which, seen from the entrance, appear to be a mixture of marble and gold shining richly in the natural light. The first cave we enter has an intricate lintel carved into the rock above the entrance containing a frieze of elephants and script in what we are told is Pali, the ancient language of Buddhism. These caves were used, it is said, by highly evolved monks to meditate and work in.

The next thing we notice as we enter is that the caves are natural sound amplifiers, and our voices, even when we are speaking in low tones, resonate powerfully. Any chanting done in these caves would undoubtedly have a deep psychological and even physical effect on the person chanting. I experiment by singing a few tones and the entire cave seems to ring like a gigantic bell in response to every note. Later I will write in my journal "Its like talking in a glass cathedral, so delicate is the balance of sound. And should a vigorously chanting person sit inside these caves for an hour or more doing japa, I should think that the sound would mystically transform and perfect their physical body." Our police guards seem as excited as our children to hear the sounds of their voices in these caves!

I also note that "the caves were swept perfectly clean and we were informed that they are, even at night, totally devoid of damp or cold. They were as comfortable inside as any thermostatically controlled Western living space, more so perhaps, as the heat is natural and not artificially produced. It's as though the sun stores up energy in the rock all day to keep the caves warm at night."

After visiting four of these caves, our guide suggests we visit a Shiva Temple, perched atop a nearby hill, a small mountain really, in our children's' eyes. So up we all hike, a 40 minutes climb to the whitewashed little temple at the top, which from the distance looks quite magical. However, at the top, I feel that familiar old Shiva-energy dancing around and repulsing me and I will not go inside, despite being invited by the priests who are chanting in there. There is a lifeless, dark feel about the place and I don't want to drink that air inside.

I walk around the hilltop admiring the wonderful view of the landscape all around when out from under a rock crawls a mangy, half-starved looking little puppy (typical bloody Shiva energy, I think) and I feed him a biscuit and silently pray to God to save his life.

On the way down, as in Forester's novel, our party and it's police escort become separated and there is a minor panic on their part, even though we are quite clearly wending our way down to the bottom. There seems to be a pervasive fear that something can easily happen to us, even though they are nearby.

An old woman, carrying a bundle on her back and another in her arms passes us on the path, heading up towards the temple. She casts a glance at me that seems in the moment strangely dark and malevolent. Or is that my imagination too? This place has got us all seeing things.

The journey back in this heat seems at least twice or even three times as long and as grueling. However, back at the Lodge a hearty, spicy Indian rice, dal and subji await us and we are well content with the day's events.

The evening brings with it more magic. We set out for the village, just before sundown, to buy fruit and come across a deer park, where the deer, called cheetel, male and female alike, approach us and lick our hands with tender gentleness, making us feel like living embodiments of Buddha himself.

We had planned to stop at the Tibetan Temple but the gates are locked and so we go instead to make a circuit of the Mahabodhi Temple, joining the monks and pilgrims in their walking meditations around it.

Even the children are having a delightful time of it, Chaya chanting on her miniature mala and Nika playing tag with young novice monks who can not be more that ten years old, if that.

Karen enters into a conversation with an Australian Buddhist nun. She has been ordained since 1976. She invites us to visit a second Tibetan Temple which we had at first thought was under construction but which, she informs us, houses monks and nuns of the Kagyupta order. She tells us there's a girl there who has spent a lot of time in Katmandu and who may be able to give us more information on traveling to Nepal.

I am intrigued because of the connection of this sect with Lama Govinda, whose books I have read and admired for many years now. The nun tells us that her teacher is a 39 year old real life tulku although why that should make a difference I don't know. I guess I am fascinated by the romance of being initiated into a religious sect as old as this one. The question comes to my mind, "Could this be why I am here?", always that lingering question, fueled by the idea that this journey to India has somehow been preordained.

I recall years ago having a beer in a Vancouver pub and meeting a Rosicrucian couple there with whom I became friends. At one of their dinner parties, I was introduced to an elderly gentlemen, also a Rosicrucian, who looked at my friends conspiratorially and said "Do you think he is connected with India? I do. I think there's a relationship there." My youthful mind scoffed at the idea and at the old man for spouting such obvious bunk. Years later, however, I look at his comment with a new respect, and cringe at my own "posings" in those days. What have I been dreaming about, studying and finally experiencing after all these years, if not traditions that spring from the soil of India?

My journal from this time continues, "And so, in the softly settling twilight, round and round we walked, chanting, talking, reflecting on the gilt Buddhas seated in meditation, row on row, the lotus framed elfin faces on the ancient stone rail fence, the flickering oil lamps lit under the Bo tree and the rapt group of seated pilgrims below it, listening to the slow-spoken lecture of a yellow-robed monk, expounding on the life of the Buddha in way that has been done on this spot for centuries now."


Explorator 23.17

Thanks to Arthur Shippee, Dave Sowdon, Edward Rockstein, Kurt Theis,
John McMahon, Barnea Selavan, Joseph Lauer, Mike Ruggeri, Hernan Astudillo,
Richard Campbell, Barbara Saylor Rodgers, Bob Heuman, David Critchley,
Richard Miller, Kris Curry, Rick Heli, Richard C. Griffiths, Frank MacKay,
Don Buck, mata kimasitayo, and Ross W. Sargent for headses upses this week
(as always hoping I have left no one out).

… the earliest coverage spun the story with a ‘social eating’ spin for some reason:

Evidence of 200 000 years bp ‘bedding’ assembled by early humans from Border Cave (South Africa):

Feature on the role of ‘mobile containers’ in human development (seems kind of late):

More on that out-of-Africa/flintknapping site in the Negev:

More on DNA from an unknown early human lurking in our systems:

The first phase of extracting and restoring the Second Khufu Ship has been completed:

Feature/interview with the Chinese team excavating at Montu Temple:

Feature on the Cairo Citadel Aqueduct:

Latest on the Tahrir Square ‘makeover’:

Feature on the Book of the Dead:

Another ‘Parthian Lady’ burial from Isfahan:

Finds from various periods from a survey of Sefidkuh (Iran):

Feature on the find of the ‘Gold Bowl of Hasanlu’ 60+ years ago:

The search is on for the site of the Battle of Manzikert (Turkey):

Remains of a 1200 years bp ‘soap factory’ from Rahat:

From the Beisamoun site in Northern Israel comes evidence of cremation dating to 7000 BCE or so:

Evidence from various items is shedding light on the ‘incense route’ which connected the Arab peninsula to Gaza (via Petra):

… while this seems to be a survey of another Jordanian-connected trade route:

A Second Temple era ‘decorated table’ find from Khirbet Kfar Mer:

Latest finds from the tomb of Lazarus excavations:

Latest claims about evidence for the historicity of Solomon’s kingdom are based on geography:

Feature on the 3000 years bp or so finds and what might be found at Mount Adir:

Feature on 2500 years bp ‘mysterious giant mounds’ from Jerusalem:

Not sure if we’ve mentioned this 1300 years bp church find from Kfar Kama:

An interview with Yuval Baruch on archaeology in Jerusalem:

Oxford archaeologists have gained access to restricted satellite images of Israel/Palestinian territories:

Interesting feature on Fire Beacons in the Ancient Near East:

Feature on the ‘Agrarian Priesthood’ of Second Temple Jerusalem:

Feature on archaeology in Israel:

The Azekah dig provides babysitters for archaeo-moms:

An interview with Louise Hitchcock:

In case you’re interested in an ongoing interview series with Larry Schiffman on the DSS, a playlist has started at Youtube:

As might be expected, there are concerns for Heritage Sites in Lebanon right now:

More on 2600 years bp evidence of changes to earth’s magnetic field from tiles from a site in Israel:

More on the 2700 years bp ‘administrative centre’ remains in Jerusalem:

More on that purported ‘image of God’:

Finds from various periods from the Grakliani Hill archaeological site in the Georgian SSR (I never know where to classify this):

A Roman villa ‘building site’ from a housing development in Corby:

Feature on Roman artifacts revealed during roadwork at Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire:

A Roman bowl from Zeeland (Dutch):

A first century CE Roman brooch from a farm in the Yorkshire Dales:

Interesting Roman-era finds revealed after an earthquake in Algeria (Italian):

A 4th century church find from Tyana:

A 4th century Roman coin found during a dig at an 18th century pub site in Slovakia:

Archaeologists located the 1800 years bp entrance to the Zerzevan Castle:

Honours for Keith Branigan:

Tom Holland gave Fishbourne Palace’s funding campaign a bit of a boost:

A Rome prize for a pair of Stanford graduate students:

In case you haven’t seen Daniel Voshart’s photorealistic recreations of Roman emperors:

If Odysseus had instagram:

Interesting feature on the identification of that Artemision Zeus/Poseidon:

Feature on the Temple of Apollo Zoster:

Feature on the Pantheon from Hadrian to Raphael:

Feature on the Roman Forum:

Feature on the arrival of Christianity in Ireland:

Feature on the Battle of Actium:

… and a feature/interview on William Murray’s work there:

Somewhat dated feature on the classification of slaves in Ancient Greece:

Feature on ideas of sexuality and masculinity in ancient Rome:

Pondering the role of Greek Classical Art today:

Feature on the image of the Good Shepherd in early Christianity:

BBC radio interview on the Fall of the Roman Empire:

… and a feature on the same topic:

Feature on assorted misconception about ancient Rome:

An upcoming livestream reading of the Odyssey :

A Greek-myth-based series is coming to Netflix:

Feature on some German words derived from ancient Greek:

Lessons from the Odyssey for the impending return to classes:

Not sure you want to see Geen Davis’ classical reception fireplace:

More on ramps at Greek temples:

A survey revealed some new stones at the ‘Armenian Stonehenge’:

Bronze Age (?) pig figurines from a site in Poland:

A metal detectorist came across a 3000 years bp bronze hoard in Scotland:

An Iron Age hillfort site found by ‘citizen scientists’ looking at survey images of the Chiltern Hills:

A medieval helmet found in the UK back in the 1950s has been identified as a 10th century Viking helmet:

Assorted medieval finds from Polish lake, including a sword and two bridges:

A couple on a walk came across a hoard of 14th century coins in the Czech Republic:

I think we mentioned these Civil-War-era hammered silver coins from Suffolk:

A dig at an 18th century pub site in Slovakia:

A series of ‘boreholes’ are a feature of a dig just under way in Winchester:

A project to recreate the sound of assorted early medieval languages:

Feature/reviewish on economic migrants in medieval England:

Latest on the conservation efforts on the HMS Victory:

Plans to restore a 19th century crane:

Feature on the lost town of Trellech:

Marking the 350th of Edinburgh’s Botanical Garden:

Not sure where to put this ‘reunion’ of Cheddar Man with his 9000 years bp descendant:

… or this item on plague-era-inspired ‘wine windows’ reopening in Florence:

More on 4500 years bp ‘timber circles’ from Portugal:

More on 6600 years bp burials from Poland as evidence of a ‘wealth gap’:

Warring States period burials from a ‘stadium’ construction site iat a Lijiang school:

The tomb of Cao Cao is going to be open to the public:

Conversion of ancient temples into ‘propaganda sites’ seems to be going on in China right now:

Infrared photography at Saimyoji temple revealed images of four Buddhist ‘saints’:

Feature on the Japanese Zaido ritual:

Review of Amy Stanley, *Stranger in a Shogun’s City*:

Evidence of 2000 years bp Indigenous banana cultivation from Mabuiag Island:

Concerns for skeletons at India’s ‘first archaeological theme park’:

Evidence of a ‘highly developed’ civilization in Kazakhstan (18th/19th centuries but not sure if BC or BCE):

Feature on slavery in South Seas islands/Australia:

Feature on Lake Roopkund and the skeletons found therein:

Feature on Indigenous ‘archaeology’ (oral tradition?) in Indonesia and environs:

More on that mammoth from a Siberian lake:

Test digs reveal a number of sites from various periods around Lake Winnebago:

Road construction reveals some remains of the Erie Canal:

Interesting feature on burials of six Jewish Confederate soldiers:

Remembering the dig at Boston’s old poultry market back in 1990:

Feature on digs (maybe) along the Conway River in New Hampshire:

Feature on an important letter related to the 19th amendment:

… and a review of some books on the subject:

… and the Times’ project on same:

Feature on the 1864 elections:

Pondering the legacy of Woodrow Wilson:

Covid is once again postponing work on the Franklin wrecks:

Feature on the Toxcatl Massacre:

Feature on the collapse of the Rapa Nui culture:

Feature on the ‘King of Araucania’:

More on the offerings from Lake Titicaca:

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Americas Breaking News:

Feature on another ‘mystery’ associated with the Poor Clare nuns:

Feature/revieish on trees in the Middle Ages:

Feature/reviewish/auctionish on some historical recipes:

Feature on portrayals of envy in various ancient cultures:

Feature on Manet’s ‘Luncheon on the Grass’:

Feature on the ‘eastern origins’ of assorted landmarks in Europe:

Feature on William Faulkner:

Feature on the death of Andrew Marvell:

Feature on the Reclaim Her Name publishing project:

On some ‘hidden toilet humour’ in a Titian masterpiece:

On the history of the Victorian ‘afternoon tea’:

Reviewish of Isabel Wilkerson’s books comparing white supremacy in the US to India’s caste system:

Trying to fix the ‘frat party’ atmosphere at archaeological field schools:

A plaque for Sarah Siddons:

A graphic novel approach to Shakespeare:

Pondering the thought of Edmund Burke:

I think we mentioned this item on the last Zoroastrians:

Review of Wolfram Eilenberger, *Time of the Magicians*:

More on Cromwell’s ‘cut and paste’ Bible for Henry VIII:

Big bucks expected for a 1794 US silver dollar:

A DNA study is hinting at possible evidence for syphilis in the ‘Old World’ prior to Columbus’ voyages:

Evidence from a 17th century bishop support a Neolithic emergence of tuberculosis:

Some CNN hyping of the impending opening of the GEM:

… and the first Khufu Solar Boat is heading there:

Feature on the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization:

Assorted museums are involved in a project analyzing mummy portraits:

Latest manoeuvres from the Museum of the Bible regarding unprovenanced artifacts:

The Agora Museum has had to close for a couple of weeks due to Covid-19 issues:

The Israel Museum reopened:

Layoffs are coming to the Tate:

A ‘face-lift’ is planned for the Sudan National Museum:

There’s a new carbon dating standard apparently:

More on that Raphael facial reconstruction:

How coral provides ‘exact climate date’ from the past:

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compstela:

Performing some Euripides at home:

Feature on John Barbirolli:

On the role of music at Auschwitz:

Some fallout from the death of dealer Douglas Latchford:

Latest Anonymous Swiss Collector Culture Crime News:

anonymous swiss collector:

Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues:

Illicit Cultural Property:

Latest opEd on repatriation from museums:

Feature on the coins depicting Achelous:

… and the one which should appear later today:

Taygete Atlantis excavations blogs aggregator:

Archaeology Podcast Network:

http://www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/
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Ancient World Review

"The oldest known person to be intentionally cremated in the Near East took their last breath about 9,000 years ago, and their body went up in flames shortly thereafter, a new study finds." Source: Live Science.

"The body wasn't simply thrown in a fire, however whoever arranged the funeral pyre did so with care, archaeologists found by sifting through the body's burnt remains. It appears that the deceased was placed in a seated position, with their knees bent to their chest in a kiln-like pit. Then, a fire was ignited next to or under the deceased."

Note: This find was made in northern Israel. According to New Scientist, "Stone Age people were cremating their dead in fire pits about 9000 years ago, in what is now Israel. The development of cremation may have been linked to a shift in their religious beliefs, away from worship of ancestors.

"For tens of thousands of years, people tended to bury their dead, says Fanny Bocquentin at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris. There is also evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead about 70,000 years ago. Cremation, in which the body is intentionally burned, is a relatively recent invention."

The oldest known cremation in the world was discovered when the remains of the app. 40,000-year-old Mungo Lady were discovered in Australia.


Watch the video: Nam Cremation Ceremony (June 2022).


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