Have you ever considered going on a pilgrimage? If a pilgrimage is a journey taken in search of some kind of spiritual fulfillment, then pilgrimages might be part of the universal human experience and not tied to a particular religion.
Many ancient American sites are thought to have been pilgrimage centers as important to these indigenous cultures as Jerusalem is to modern Christians, Jews and Muslims.
In the latest issue of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, John Kantner of the School for Advanced Research and Kevin Vaughn of Purdue University consider the sites of Cahuachi in Peru and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico as ancient pilgrimage destinations and ponder how these places came to be important centers of religious devotion.
They propose that a pilgrimage is a form of “costly signaling” that allows members of a religious group to demonstrate commitment by doing something extraordinary. Read more.
It is a sacred site where, for centuries, the haunting sounds of prayer and music would have drifted across the marshes.
And the ruins of Blythburgh Priory, near Southwold, came alive again today as it hosted its first religious service for nearly 500 years.
Local people gathered in the morning sunshine to take part in the historic event at the 12th-century priory, which was once home to Augustinian canons.
In 2008, Channel 4’s Time Team carried out an archaeological evaluation at the site. They discovered evidence of burials and human remains – one which was believed to be the Anglo-Saxon King Anna, the nephew of King Raedwald who is thought to buried at Sutton Hoo.
Rev Malcolm Doney welcomed the congregation and said it was a privilege to be taking the service.
“I stand here very conscious of all the people who have stood here before me,” he said. Read more.
A trove of Jewish books and other materials, rescued from a sewage-filled Baghdad basement during the 2003 invasion, is now caught up in a tug-of-war between the U.S. and Iraq.
Ranging from a medieval religious book to children’s Hebrew primers, from photos to Torah cases, the collection is testimony to a once vibrant Jewish community in Baghdad. Their present-day context is the relationship, fraught with distrust, between postwar Iraq and its Jewish diaspora.
Discovered in a basement used by Saddam Hussein’s secret police, the collection was sent to the U.S. for safekeeping and restoration, and sat at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Maryland until last year, when Iraqi officials started a campaign to get it back.
Initially contacts went well, but now the deputy culture minister, Taher Naser al-Hmood, says “The Americans are not serious” about setting a deadline for getting back the archive. Read more.