The Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare, Ireland. Classified as a portal tomb, this structure dates to the Neolithic period, radiocarbon dates place its use between 3,800 - 3,600 BCE.
During excavations the skeletal remains of up to 22 prehistoric individual were found, which included both adults and children, as well as one newborn. Extensive specialist analysis has been done on these remains, offering us a rare insight into the lives of these Neolithic people. 

[…] A variety of artefacts, presumably representing grave goods, were also recovered from the burial chamber. These included a polished stone axe, two stone beads, a decorated bone pendant, a fragment of a mushroom-headed bone pin, two quartz crystals, several sherds of coarse pottery, three chert arrowheads and three chert/flint scrapers.
The burial evidence from Poulnabrone has given us rare glimpse into the lives of our early ancestors. It appears that they endured a relatively tough existence, that involved hard physical labour, childhood illnesses, occasional violent attacks and early deaths. Although only a small section of the community were deemed worthy of burial in the tomb, there is little evidence for gender or age discrimination, with both male and female remains present as well as young and old. Prior to interment their bones appear to have been stored elsewhere and this may indicate that they were venerated as ancestor relics. Why certain individuals were chosen to be buried in the seemingly exalted location of a megalithic tomb, however, remains a mystery. 
-Irish Archaeology

Photo courtesy of & taken by Nicolas Raymond.

The Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare, Ireland. Classified as a portal tomb, this structure dates to the Neolithic period, radiocarbon dates place its use between 3,800 - 3,600 BCE.

During excavations the skeletal remains of up to 22 prehistoric individual were found, which included both adults and children, as well as one newborn. Extensive specialist analysis has been done on these remains, offering us a rare insight into the lives of these Neolithic people. 

[…] A variety of artefacts, presumably representing grave goods, were also recovered from the burial chamber. These included a polished stone axe, two stone beads, a decorated bone pendant, a fragment of a mushroom-headed bone pin, two quartz crystals, several sherds of coarse pottery, three chert arrowheads and three chert/flint scrapers.

The burial evidence from Poulnabrone has given us rare glimpse into the lives of our early ancestors. It appears that they endured a relatively tough existence, that involved hard physical labour, childhood illnesses, occasional violent attacks and early deaths. Although only a small section of the community were deemed worthy of burial in the tomb, there is little evidence for gender or age discrimination, with both male and female remains present as well as young and old. Prior to interment their bones appear to have been stored elsewhere and this may indicate that they were venerated as ancestor relics. Why certain individuals were chosen to be buried in the seemingly exalted location of a megalithic tomb, however, remains a mystery. 

-Irish Archaeology

Photo courtesy of & taken by Nicolas Raymond.

A quick look at: Germanicus, a prominent Roman general of the early Empire, and the grandson-in-law of Augustus Caesar.
"Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success." -Tacitus, Annals (2.26), via The Internet Classics Archive.
Germanicus Julius Caesar (15 BC-AD 19), usually just referred to as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius. He commanded 8 Roman legions on the Rhine frontier with distinction. He appears to have gained affection among the Roman people; Suetonius in Life of Caligula III describes his “…unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men’s regard and inspiring their affection." He died aged 33 on October 9 of AD 19, it was a suspected poisoning. 
Great honours were granted to Germanicus after his death and he was elevated to a god-like status:

[…] Five voting centuries were to be named after him; a curule chair was to be kept in the temple of the new god, the temples were to be closed on the day that Germanicus’ ashes were interred and sacrifices were to be made on that day each year at his tomb.
[…] In public, all due honours were granted to Germanicus. The only oddity was that Tiberius and his mother did not attend the internment. Some bad feeling may have been read into this by Germanicus’ supporters, but this would seem to be an over-reaction.
-Richard Alston in Aspects of Roman History AD 14–117, page 28.

Sculpture courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Photo taken by Jastrow. The sculpture dates to circa 40 AD, Accession number: Ma 1238.

A quick look at: Germanicus, a prominent Roman general of the early Empire, and the grandson-in-law of Augustus Caesar.

"Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success." -Tacitus, Annals (2.26), via The Internet Classics Archive.

Germanicus Julius Caesar (15 BC-AD 19), usually just referred to as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius. He commanded 8 Roman legions on the Rhine frontier with distinction. He appears to have gained affection among the Roman people; Suetonius in Life of Caligula III describes his “…unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men’s regard and inspiring their affection." He died aged 33 on October 9 of AD 19, it was a suspected poisoning.

Great honours were granted to Germanicus after his death and he was elevated to a god-like status:

[…] Five voting centuries were to be named after him; a curule chair was to be kept in the temple of the new god, the temples were to be closed on the day that Germanicus’ ashes were interred and sacrifices were to be made on that day each year at his tomb.

[…] In public, all due honours were granted to Germanicus. The only oddity was that Tiberius and his mother did not attend the internment. Some bad feeling may have been read into this by Germanicus’ supporters, but this would seem to be an over-reaction.

-Richard Alston in Aspects of Roman History AD 14–117, page 28.

Sculpture courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Photo taken by Jastrow. The sculpture dates to circa 40 AD, Accession number: Ma 1238.

Cave 19 at the Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra, India.

Ajanta contains 30 excavated rock-cut caves which belong to two distinct phases of Buddhism: the Hinayana phase (2nd century BC-1st century AD) and the Mahayana phase (5th century AD-6th century AD). These caves are considered to be one the finest examples of early Buddhist architecture, cave-paintings, and sculpture.

The Archaeological Survey of India, Aurangabad Circle, speaks specifically of Cave 19:

The small chityagriha [prayer hall] is considered one of the most perfect specimens of Buddhist art in India. The exquisitely decorated facade and beautiful interior form a grand combination of richness of detail and graceful proportion. The inscription in Cave 17 records that a feudatory prince under Vakataka King Harisena was a munificent donor of this cave, datable to the 5th century AD. It consists of a small but elegant portico, verandah, a hall, and chapels. The apsidal hall is divided into a nave, an elaborate and elongated drum, and a globular dome which stands against the apse. 

The pillars and the stupa are intricately carved with the figures of Lord Buddha and other decorative motifs. The sidewalls are also adorned with countless figures of Buddha while the ceiling is filled with painted floral motifs in which animals, birds, and human figures are cleverly interwoven. The chapel contains the panel of Nagaraja with his consort known for its serenity and royal dignity.

The first and second photos were taken by Kirk Kittell, the third is by Arian Zwegers.

Scenes from Aeschylus’s Oresteia portrayed on an Apulian red-figure bell-krater. This play was first performed 458 BC.
Following his return from Tory, Agamemnon is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, and her lover. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon seeks revenge and kills Clytemnestra. The Erinyes (also referred to as the “Furies”) pursue Orestes for revenge.
Shown is side A, where Orestes is being purified by Apollo. Visible to the left is Clytemnestra trying to awake the sleeping Erinyes.
The following section is from Peter Burian & Alan Shapiro’s The Complete Aeschylus: Volume I: The Oresteia, Oxford University Press, 2011, pages 17-18:

The ghost of Clytemnestra, who stirs the sleeping Erinyes to continue their terrifying pursuit of her murderer-son, belongs entirely to the old world of retribution. […] The punishment they promise Orestes has the balance of an accountant’s ledger:
You’ll have to pay with your own blood for hers,
you’ll feel me suck the half-caked gore out of your living flesh;
swill from your very veins the vile dregs of the drink I crave.
I’ll shrivel you up and drag you, still alive into the underworld
where you will pay in currencies of torment for the murder of your mother. 
(1300-1309/ 264-68)
For the Erinyes, Apollo’s very sanctuary is polluted by the welcome Apollo has given to the blood-stained Orestes. Orestes, on the other hand, repeatedly emphasizes the purifications he has received there. Apollo confirms that he has purged his suppliant of the stain of guilt, and Athena accepts him as “a proper suppliant who is clean, who bears/ no danger to us”. Despite all that, the Erinyes still track him by the scent of blood […].

Artifact courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Greek, possibly from Armento, Eumenides Painter, 380–370 BC. Accession number: Cp 710. Photo taken by Bibi Saint-Pol.

Scenes from Aeschylus’s Oresteia portrayed on an Apulian red-figure bell-krater. This play was first performed 458 BC.

Following his return from Tory, Agamemnon is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, and her lover. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon seeks revenge and kills Clytemnestra. The Erinyes (also referred to as the “Furies”) pursue Orestes for revenge.

Shown is side A, where Orestes is being purified by Apollo. Visible to the left is Clytemnestra trying to awake the sleeping Erinyes.

The following section is from Peter Burian & Alan Shapiro’s The Complete Aeschylus: Volume I: The Oresteia, Oxford University Press, 2011, pages 17-18:

The ghost of Clytemnestra, who stirs the sleeping Erinyes to continue their terrifying pursuit of her murderer-son, belongs entirely to the old world of retribution. […] The punishment they promise Orestes has the balance of an accountant’s ledger:

You’ll have to pay with your own blood for hers,

you’ll feel me suck the half-caked gore out of your living flesh;

swill from your very veins the vile dregs of the drink I crave.

I’ll shrivel you up and drag you, still alive into the underworld

where you will pay in currencies of torment for the murder of your mother.

(1300-1309/ 264-68)

For the Erinyes, Apollo’s very sanctuary is polluted by the welcome Apollo has given to the blood-stained Orestes. Orestes, on the other hand, repeatedly emphasizes the purifications he has received there. Apollo confirms that he has purged his suppliant of the stain of guilt, and Athena accepts him as “a proper suppliant who is clean, who bears/ no danger to us”. Despite all that, the Erinyes still track him by the scent of blood […].

Artifact courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Greek, possibly from Armento, Eumenides Painter, 380–370 BC. Accession number: Cp 710. Photo taken by Bibi Saint-Pol.

Human-headed winged bull and winged lion (lamassu). Neo-Assyrian, ca. 883–859 B.C. Nimrud (ancient Kalhu).

The so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the surface of most of the reliefs described Ashurnasirpal’s palace:
"I built thereon [a palace with] halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, teak, terebinth, and tamarisk [?] as my royal dwelling and for the enduring leisure life of my lordship." 
The inscription continues: “Beasts of the mountains and the seas, which I had fashioned out of white limestone and alabaster, I had set up in its gates. I made it [the palace] fittingly imposing.” 
Such limestone beasts are the human-headed, winged bull and lion pictured here. The horned cap attests to their divinity, and the belt signifies their power. The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. These lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces. (met)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections. Accession Number: 32.143.1–.2

Human-headed winged bull and winged lion (lamassu). Neo-Assyrian, ca. 883–859 B.C. Nimrud (ancient Kalhu).

The so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the surface of most of the reliefs described Ashurnasirpal’s palace:

"I built thereon [a palace with] halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, teak, terebinth, and tamarisk [?] as my royal dwelling and for the enduring leisure life of my lordship."

The inscription continues: “Beasts of the mountains and the seas, which I had fashioned out of white limestone and alabaster, I had set up in its gates. I made it [the palace] fittingly imposing.”

Such limestone beasts are the human-headed, winged bull and lion pictured here. The horned cap attests to their divinity, and the belt signifies their power. The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. These lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces. (met)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections. Accession Number: 32.143.1–.2

A quick look at: Senwosret III, the 5th king of Egypt’s 12th Dynasty. 
Who was he, and why is he so stern-looking in his artistic representations?
Pictured: Three granite statues of Senwosret III at the British Museum.
Following the decline of Egypt’s Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC), royal power was devolved to nomarchs (provincial governors), leading Egypt into the First Intermediate Period.

Egyptologists traditionally distinguish between the major periods of pharaonic history on the basis of the political state of the country. ‘Kingdoms’ -defined as times of political unity and strong, centralized government -alternate with the ‘intermediate periods’, which are in contrast characterized by the rivalries of local rulers in their claims for power. (-Stephan Seidlmayer, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, pg. 108).

The Middle Kingdom (approx. 2055-1650 BC), however, saw the re-centralization of power and the disappearance of these nomarchs and their families. Senwosret III was an instrumental player in this, with his domestic policy focused on reorganizing the administrative system; he also greatly strengthened Egypt’s control over Nubia. 
There is a significant difference between the royal statues of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Those of the Middle Kingdom overall become larger in size, and markedly sterner-looking in expression. I side with those Egyptologists who suggest that the recent memory of the First Intermediate Period was the cause of this; following the loss of kingship to the nomarchs, the kings of the Middle Kingdom felt the need to exhort their power and authority in more obvious manners -such as through their artistic representations.

This powerfully realistic portrait of Senwosret III [the middle statue shown] was clearly intended to inspire awe in the onlooker. The authority of the Pharaoh is conveyed by the stern gaze and the downturned, almost grimacing, mouth. (-Rita Freed in Ancient Egypt, pg 218).

A good example which I usually give when comparing is this Old Kingdom statue of Khafre at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 
Artifacts shown courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by Stevan Hubbard.

A quick look at: Senwosret III, the 5th king of Egypt’s 12th Dynasty.

Who was he, and why is he so stern-looking in his artistic representations?

Pictured: Three granite statues of Senwosret III at the British Museum.

Following the decline of Egypt’s Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC), royal power was devolved to nomarchs (provincial governors), leading Egypt into the First Intermediate Period.

Egyptologists traditionally distinguish between the major periods of pharaonic history on the basis of the political state of the country. ‘Kingdoms’ -defined as times of political unity and strong, centralized government -alternate with the ‘intermediate periods’, which are in contrast characterized by the rivalries of local rulers in their claims for power. (-Stephan Seidlmayer, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, pg. 108).

The Middle Kingdom (approx. 2055-1650 BC), however, saw the re-centralization of power and the disappearance of these nomarchs and their families. Senwosret III was an instrumental player in this, with his domestic policy focused on reorganizing the administrative system; he also greatly strengthened Egypt’s control over Nubia. 

There is a significant difference between the royal statues of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Those of the Middle Kingdom overall become larger in size, and markedly sterner-looking in expression. I side with those Egyptologists who suggest that the recent memory of the First Intermediate Period was the cause of this; following the loss of kingship to the nomarchs, the kings of the Middle Kingdom felt the need to exhort their power and authority in more obvious manners -such as through their artistic representations.

This powerfully realistic portrait of Senwosret III [the middle statue shown] was clearly intended to inspire awe in the onlooker. The authority of the Pharaoh is conveyed by the stern gaze and the downturned, almost grimacing, mouth. (-Rita Freed in Ancient Egypt, pg 218).

A good example which I usually give when comparing is this Old Kingdom statue of Khafre at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 

Artifacts shown courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by Stevan Hubbard.

Kuttam Pokuna (“Twin Pools/Ponds”), built in the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

The twin pond is undoubtedly the best surviving example of landscape architecture in ancient Sri Lanka” -Professor Anuradha Seneviratne.

An outstanding example of hydrological engineering, the Kuttam Pokuna are ritual baths used by Buddhist monks, and are thought to date to the 8th or 9th centuries. ‘Kuttam pokuna’ is the name given to these pools in the 20th century, their ancient name is not known. Water was transferred to these pools through underground ducts.

The second pool is located directly behind the one shown, better displayed in this photo. Although referred to as “twins”, the northern pool is significantly larger than southern one, the northern being 40m long, and the southern, 28m.

Of the two ponds the one in the north, seems to have been constructed before the southern one. Fine architectural differences confirm this point. It seems that after the construction of the southern pond an attempt has been made to connect them. The two ponds varying in size and architectural details areharmonised to create to make up a composite place of artistic creation

During excavations, a metal box was discovered at the bottom of a pool. Within this box were small replicas of water dwelling animals, such as of a fish and crab, now displayed at the Anuradhapura Museum.

Photos courtesy & taken by Vasse Nicolas Antoine. The quoted sections are from Professor Anuradha Seneviratne’s book Ancient Anuradhapura (1994).

The so-called “Fat Lady” inside the Western Temple of the Tarxien temple complex in Malta.

This figure has been dated to 3000 BCE, and is thought to have once been over 2 metres in height. It is possibly the earliest known piece of monumental sculpture in the world. Unfortunately, due to quarrying, only the lower section remains. This is a reconstruction shown at its original find spot, the original is housed within the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta for preservation. Here is an image of the original.

Photos courtesy & taken by Ron GallowayPeter Grima.

The pyramid texts of Teti I’s pyramid.

Teti I (2345–2333 BCE) was the first king of Egypt’s 6th dynasty, and was buried at Saqqara. Preserved within his pyramid are some excellent examples of pyramid texts. Pyramid texts are ancient religious texts from Egypt’s Old Kingdom, and are possibly the oldest known religious texts in the world.

The spells (or “utterances”) written are primarily concerned with protecting the remains of the king, reanimating his body after death, and aiding him in ascending to the heavens.

The following is a translated section from the pyramid texts of Teti I’s pyramid (‘Utterance 373’ via: Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol 1):

"Oho! Oho! Rise up, O Teti!

Take your head, collect your bones,

Gather your limbs, shake the earth from your flesh!

Take your bread that rots not, your beer that sours not,

Stand at the gates that bar the common people!

The gatekeeper comes out to you, he grasps your hand,

Takes you into heaven, to your father Geb.

He rejoices at your coming, gives you his hands,

Kisses you, caresses you,

Sets you before the spirits, the imperishable stars…”

Photos courtesy & taken by kairoinfo4u.

The archaeological site of Arikamedu, Puducherry, India.

Examples of artifacts found at Arikamedu include this piece of Roman pottery, and this piece of grey pottery with engravings.

Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s choice of sites to excavate in the Indian subcontinent was determined by his primary concern, i.e. to establish a chronological sequence for the subcontinent and to link developments in its cultural history with the Graeco-Roman world. […] It was here that pottery of Mediterranean inspiration had been found and led Wheeler to excavate the site, which he later termed an Indo-Roman trading station.

[…A] Myth debunked by the recent excavations is the identification of the site as an Indo-Roman trading station. It has been argued that the evidence for a Roman presence at Arikamedu was only circumstantial. More significantly, the archaeological record has confirmed that Arikamedu occupied a nodal position in the inland, coastal, and trans-oceanic networks. The site continued in the ‘post-Roman trade’ period, i.e. from the third to the seventh centuries CE, though the nature of the site changed over time.

Photos courtesy & taken by Nshivaa. The quoted segment is from page 127 of The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia, edited by Himanshu Prabha Ray, which I would recommend for further reading on the subject.

Balkåkra - a strange object found in 1847 in a bog Skåne, Balkåkra, thought to be some form of ritual artifact.

Suggestions for its original purpose have included a sun altar, a drum, a gong, and a throne. This bronze artifact actually has a twin, an identical object was found in northern Hungary, in Hasfalva (Ágfalva) in 1913. These two objects are the only of their kind found in the world. It is likely that they were manufactured in the same workshop, perhaps even by the same craftsman.

The object from Balkåkra consists of a dish-shaped disc with zigzag-lines, similar to a sun depiction. It is attached to an open-work frame ending with wheel symbols. The frame comprises 10 parts that are put together with rivets. On each module there are lines or dots, a number system [for example, see photo 3]. They show the place of the module in the structure. This is one of the first examples of serial production in a European workshop. The production area was somewhere in Central Europe. Scandinavian archaeologists date the objects to c. 1500 BC while Hungarian colleagues date them to 1000-800 BC […] Probably, these ritual objects played an important role within the religion of the Bronze Age. (The Swedish History Museum)

As previously stated, the specific function of Balkåkra and Hasfalva is unable to be identified. The expensive metal used in their manufacture suggests affluence and power. The symbols of wheels signify movement, and the discs have been interpreted as symbols of the sun. 

Artifact courtesy & currently located at The Swedish History MuseumStockholm. If you’re interested in seeing more images of this artifact, check out the museum’s Flickr page.

Native American pottery of the Ancient Pueblo people from the Grand Canyon National Park.

The first is a Lino Gray bowl, and the earliest of the shown artifacts, dating to the Basketmaker III Era. The second bowl is of the ‘black mesa black on white’ style, and is heavily yellowed (likely with ocre). The third photo is of a Tusayan polychrome bowl, which dates to the Pueblo III Era, while the fourth dates to the early Pueblo III Era.

Courtesy the Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection.