Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shaman burials

shaman, n.

[a. G. schamane, Russian sha{sm}man, a. Tungusian samân (Castren Tung. Sprachl.). Cf. F. chaman. The Persian shemen, idol, idol temple, sometimes cited as the source, is unconnected. Evidence seems to be wanting for the plausible suggestion that the Mongolian word is an adoption of Chinese sha mên, an ordained member of a Buddhist fraternity, a. Skr. çrama{ndotbl}a, Pali samana Buddhist monk or mendicant.]

n. A priest or priest-doctor among various northern peoples of Asia. Hence applied by extension to similar personages in other parts, esp. a medicine-man of some of the north-western American Indians. Occas. in wider sense: an adherent of shamanism. Also more recently, with recognition of the widespread similarity of primitive beliefs, the term denotes esp. a man or woman who is regarded as having direct access to, and influence in, the spirit world which is usu. manifested during a trance and empowers them to guide souls, cure illnesses, etc. Also fig.~Oxford English Dictionary

Israel ~ Natufian culture (4th and 5th images)
11,500-15,000 years old
Contents: Skeleton of a 45-year-old female, 50 arranged turtle shells, tail vertebrae from an auroch (an extinct type of cattle), skulls of 2 stone martens (members of the weasel family), bony wing parts from a golden eagle, the forearm of a wild boar, a nearly complete leopard pelvis, and a human foot.
  • "...another view into a society that didn't leave behind a written record.... It's almost equivalent to a textual record."~Ofer Bar-Yosef, anthropologist, Harvard University
  • "What was unusual here was there were so many different parts of different animals...that were clearly put there on purpose."~Natalie Munro, zooarchaeologist, University of Connecticut
China~Puyang (3rd image)
7,000 years old
Contents: Mosaics in the form of a dragon and a tiger that were oriented along a north-south axis and intended to be star maps. Round and square shapes in the tomb suggest a cosmography that bears a striking resemblance to modern feng shui devices and formulas.

China~Gushi culture (1st image)
2,700 years old
Contents: Disarticulated skeleton of a 45-year-old man with skull and bones of possible female sibling at his feet, earthenware pots, horse bridle and halter, bows and arrows, leather medicine bag, leather make-up bag, woolen fabric, harp, wooden wimble tool (to untie knots), and a wooden bowl and leather bag containing nearly 2lbs. of cultivated marijuana.
  • "To our knowledge, these investigations provide the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically active agent..."~Ethan B. Russo,Visiting Professor, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (et al.)
Siberia~Old Bering Sea culture (2nd image)
2,000 years old
Contents: The skeleton of a woman in her 40s or 50s with a wooden mask at her knees, wood dance goggles, a walrus ivory chain, drum handles, gut scrapers (to clean the sea mammal intestines used to make waterproof clothing), pottery paddles, knives, food containers, lance points, and harpoons.
  • "Dorian Sergeev, himself a native anthropologist, offered to finish the excavation and take on all the evil that might be present in the mask. He was the one who reached in and cleared the burial mask off, then drew it out of the ice encrusted bottom of the grave, and brought it up into daylight for the first time in 2,000 years."~William W. Fitzhugh, Director, Arctic Studies Center
  • "There are certain kinds of artifacts that are exactly the same as those used by modern peoples of Bering Strait...and our Russian colleagues feel that perhaps this is one of the only archaeological examples known in the world where an ethnic group can be traced in detail for as long as 2,000 years."~William W. Fitzhugh, Director, Arctic Studies Center
Peru~Lambayeque culture
800 years old
Contents: A fan-shaped shell for smoking, 500 nectandra seeds (considered aphrodisiacs), gourds, textiles, a ceramic jug, and a wooden staff.
  • "Director of the Brüning Museum in Lambayeque, Carlos Wester, states that the discoveries of the curandero and the person of medium authority indicate the intense level cultural, artistic, technological and religious activities that were taking place in the Mochumí sector of the vast archaeological region...located in one of the ancient world’s most important but relatively unheard-of centres of civilization."

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