Animal dung as a strategic resource in the kingdom of Mari

Kings of Mari controlled an important trade route in the valley of the Euphrates River in the 3rd and early 2nd millennium BCE. Although their country was situated in an area with unfavourable conditions for agriculture, the economy of the kingdom of Mari could support a big population. The key to understanding this paradox is animal dung.

The kingdom of Mari was the most powerful country of north Mesopotamia in the 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. Its power is reflected both by the size of its capital (modern archaeological site of Tell Hariri), which occupied an area of more than 60 hectares – more than Cracow in the 13th century – and by the fact that six of its rulers were included in the Sumerian King List, that is a record of the dynasties that were regarded as those holding superior power in Sumer. The dynasty from Mari was the only dynasty from north Mesopotamia on this list. 

Sala tronowa w pałacu Zimri-Lima, ostatniego króla Mari fot. Herbert Frank (opublikowano na licencji CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
The throne room in the palace of Zimri-Lima, the last Mari king
Photo: Herbert Frank
(Published under CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

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Eneolithic Travelers of the Bell Beakers in north-east Poland

In Supraśl, on the Polish-Belarusian border, unique objects of Bell Beaker communities were discovered. They might have been linked to distant regions of the Atlantic coast and the British Isles. Is it possible that the artefacts would be the traces of the Eneolithic travelers, who like Marco Polo, travelled thousands of miles in search of new, valuable and exotic raw materials and objects?

Obiekt rytualny ze stanowiska 3 w Supraślu © A. Cetwińska
Ritual feature from site 3 at  Supraśl
© A. Cetwińska

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Newly discovered cathedral in Dongola – Polish research in Sudan

Archaeologists working in Old Dongola (Sudan) found the remains of what may be the largest church known from medieval Nubia. Newly discovered cathedral could have been the seat of an archbishop governing the church hierarchy over a 1000 km-long stretch along the Nile, between the 1st and 5th cataracts. The archbishop of Dongola oversaw the bishop of Faras, whose cathedral with its famous wall paintings was discovered by Prof. Kazimierz Michałowski 60 years ago.

Trójwymiarowa wizualizacja nowoodkrytego kompleksu il. CAŚ UW - A. Wujec
3D visualisation of the newly discovered complex
il. PCMA UW – A. Wujec

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Suffocated with smoke. Massacre in Kan-Gohar Cave, Iran

The cruel commander Malek Ashraf attacked the town of Bavanat in 1342, during the civil war in Iran. The inhabitants of the town had hidden in a cave located nearby. Since their shelter was difficult to access the soldiers made a great fire at the entrance to the cave. The refugees could try to jump over the fire, straight into the hands of the attacking forces, but most were suffocated with the smoke. Modern archaeologists reveal tragic mysteries of the massacre by analysing burned bones found in the Kan-Gohar Cave.

Szczątki ludzkie (i kość zwierzęca) z irańskiej jaskini Kan-Gohar, obecnie w Ośrodku Medycyny Sądowej Prowincji Fars Fot. Mahsa Nadżafi
Human remains (and animal bone) from Iran’s Kan-Gohar cave,
currently at the Forensic Medicine Centre of Fars Province
photo: Mahsa Najafi

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