1,500 year-old confession of faith

Scholars have discovered a 1,500-year-old papyrus from ancient Egypt that contains a remarkable Christian confession, including an early description of Holy Communion.  Reportedly, the writing was rolled up in an amulet, a Christian version of the amulets-with-protection-spells worn by pagan Egyptians.

The article on the find says that this is an example of Christian “magic,” but the text says nothing about protection or anything spell-like.  The ancient Hebrews of the Bible would also wear little cases that contained Bible verses (Deuteronomy 11:18).  The ignorance of the news story in saying that this is one of the “first” references to the Last Supper–the early Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus who died in 202 A.D., referred to it all the time–casts further doubt on the “magic” claim.  This instead sounds like an example of Christians following a cultural practice while giving it a new meaning.  Anyway, read the text after the jump. [Read more...]

How the Egyptians moved those big stones

No, it wasn’t aliens who moved those massively huge blocks for the Pyramids.  An ancient drawing shows builders dragging a monument on a sledge with someone pouring water in front of it.  Egyptologists interpreted that as some kind of purification ritual.  But scientists have discovered that pouring water on sand reduces the friction so that it would be possible to drag a multi-ton object on a sledge through the desert sand.  See the picture and an account of the research after the jump. [Read more...]

A very early image of Jesus

Archaeologists have discovered in Egypt an image of Jesus dating from the 500s-600s.  See it, along with a news report, after the jump. [Read more...]

Child sacrifice then and now

Collin Garbarino tells of a controversy in archaeology about whether or not the ancient Carthaginians practiced child sacrifice, as the Romans always said they did.  Recently, evidence has arisen that they did, in fact, sacrifice children.  Some archaeologists, though, just won’t believe it.

Mr. Garbarino says that the Carthaginians sacrificed children for the same reason we do. [Read more...]

Richard the Lionheart’s heart

In more medieval forensic archaeology, researchers have found the mummified heart of Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199), which had been buried separately from the rest of his body.  Nothing is left of it but a brown powder, but tests show that he was NOT poisoned, as some have thought, and that the embalming methods used spices associated with the burial of Christ.  King Richard I ruled England beginning in 1189 and was a hero of the Crusades.  (See the heart after the jump.) [Read more...]

Finding and seeing Richard III

We blogged about how archeologists have discovered what they thought was the skeleton of King Richard III, the monarch who, according to Shakespeare’s play of the same name, murdered his way to the crown until he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth field (“a horse!  My kingdom for a horse!”) by Henry, the Earl of Richmond, who would found the Tudor dynasty.  Well, yesterday DNA evidence confirmed that the skeleton–with its curved spine (Shakespeare described him as a hunchback) and a skull that had been hacked by a sword–is, in fact, that of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenets.  Not only that, facial reconstruction based on the skull showed his face, which is exactly that of a contemporary portrait of Richard.  This has also sparked controversy about whether Shakespeare was a propagandist for the Tudors in making him such an over-the-top but extraordinarily interesting villain.  Some say Richard was a good king after all.  The details of the DNA research, my take on the controversy, and the  pictures are after the jump. [Read more...]


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