Secret History
Map


Info

Iron Age feast found in England

Cauldron
© British Museum, John Winterburn, Wessex Archaeology; Stephen Crummy
Remnants of an Iron-Age feast, including cattle skulls and 13 cauldrons, have been unearthed in Chiseldon, United Kingdom, according to a report in the latest British Archaeology.

The discovery marks the largest grouping of early cauldrons ever found in Europe. One cauldron features a handle plate in the form of a cow's head; zoomorphic decoration is otherwise unknown on a British cauldron.

"Analysis of the interiors of the cauldrons has even revealed traces of animal fats, a tantalizing suggestion that these objects might have been used in cooking and serving meat-rich stews at Iron-Age feasts over 2,000 ago," Julia Farley, curator of European Iron Age collections at the British Museum, told Discovery News.

Farley's colleague Jody Joy, as well as Alexandra Baldwin and Jamie Hood from the museum, are still studying the artifacts, which were found buried in a 6.6-feet-wide pit. The cauldrons were made from iron and copper alloy in the second or first century B.C.

Given that these cauldrons survived for over 2,000 years, it should come as no surprise that they were built to last.

Each was built to last, with an iron rim and band supporting circular suspension handles. The main body of the cauldrons consisted of a central band and bowl of sheet copper alloy riveted together. "The iron rim and handles gave strength and rigidity, while the copper-alloy bowl acted as an excellent heat conductor," the researchers note.
Info

Real-life 'Hobbit' face revealed

Hobbit Face
© University of Wollongong
Susan Hayes’ facial approximation of the female Hobbit.
Researchers have revealed what the face of a controversial ancient human nicknamed "the Hobbit" might have looked like.

"She's not what you'd call pretty, but she is definitely distinctive," said anthropologist Susan Hayes, a senior research fellow at University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. The female doesn't have feminine-looking big eyes and she's lacking much of a forehead.

With a background in forensic science, Hayes was able to flesh out the face of the 3-foot (1-meter) tall, 30-year-old female based on remains that were uncovered in the Liang Bua cave on the remote Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. To come up with this facial depiction, Hayes uploaded information from 3D imaging scans of the skull into a computer graphic program and also looked at portraits by paleo-artists of the Hobbit, finding these earlier interpretations were skewed toward monkey features; her examination, meanwhile, suggested modern features were more accurate, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The 18,000-year-old skeleton, officially known as Homo floresiensis, gets its nickname from its squat stature. The Hobbit would have weighed between 66 and 77 pounds (30 and 35 kilograms). Since the discovery, scientists have debated whether the specimen actually represents an extinct species in the human family tree, perhaps a diminutive offshoot of Homo erectus, a 1.8-million-year-old hominid and the first to have body proportions comparable to those of modern Homo sapiens. (See Images of Homo Floresiensis)
Info

Labyrinth lies within mysterious desert drawing

Labyrinth_1
© Clive Ruggles/www.cliveruggles.net
The spiral that marks the outer end of the labyrinth.
A large labyrinth lies in the midst of Peru's Nazca Lines, according to the most detailed study on the enigmatic desert etchings created between 2,100 and 1,300 years ago.

Completely hidden in the flat and featureless landscape, the labyrinth was identified after a five-year investigation into the arid Peruvian coastal plain land, about 250 miles south of Lima, where the mysterious geoglyphs are located.

"As you walk it, only the path stretching ahead of you is visible at any given point," Clive Ruggles of the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said.

Ruggles and colleague Nicholas Saunders of the University of Bristol's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology walked more than 900 miles of desert, tracing the lines and geometric figures carved between 100 B.C. and 700 A.D. by the Nasca people. They reported their findings in the December issue of the journal Antiquity.

Also known for their obsession over trophy heads - - they boasted the largest collection of human heads in the Andes region of South America -- the Nazca flourished in Peru between the first century B.C. and the fifth century A.D. and slid into oblivion by the time the Inca Empire rose to dominate the Andes.
Pyramid

Is there an ancient 'dark pyramid' in Alaska?

"Farewell Airport could have been a forward staging area to bring in equipment and supplies by helicopters to the 'Square' that you mentioned." - - Airline Pilot and Retired USAF Lt. Col.
© Earthfiles/Frank Flavin
September 26, 2012, aerial of anomalous “green square” (red circle) with surrounding creeks that includes Highpower Creek and Mount McKinley to the southeast.
"The pilot told my dad the Alaska site was 'every bit as hush hush as the Manhattan Project.' ...The pilot also told him that it was not a nuclear device; it was not made by man; nobody is supposed to know this place even exists. ...This thing is some kind of power generator and it's thousands of years old, it's made out of stone like a pyramid. They don't know where it came from, who made it or how it works. But it can generate enough power to power the whole North Slope, all of Alaska, and probably the whole country of Canada!" - Bruce L. Pearson, New Jersey
Info

How did female genital mutilation begin?

Surgical Tools
© Corbis
Forceps, rubber gloves, and other items used in female genital mutilation (FGM), lie on a table in Hargeysa, Somalia.
United Nations Member States recently approved the first-ever draft resolution calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).

Hailed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a major step forward in protecting women and girls and ending impunity for the harmful practice, the text is expected to be endorsed by the UN general assembly this month.

How did the practice begin anyway?

Although theories on the origins of FGM abound, no one really knows when, how or why it started.

"There's no way of knowing the origins of FGM, it appears in many different cultures, from Australian aboriginal tribes to different African societies," medical historian David Gollaher, president and CEO of the California Healthcare Institute (CHI), and the author of Circumcision, told Discovery News.

Used to control women's sexuality, the practice involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia. In its severest form, called infibulation, the vaginal opening is also sewn up, leaving only a small hole for the release of urine and menstrual blood.

While the term infibulation has its roots in ancient Rome, where female slaves had fibulae (broochs) pierced through their labia to prevent them from getting pregnant, a widespread assumption places the origins of female genital cutting in pharaonic Egypt. This would be supported by the contemporary term "pharaonic circumcision."

The definition, however, might be misleading. While there's evidence of male circumcision in Old Kingdom Egypt, there is none for female.
Crusader

Baltic Crusades caused extinctions, end to pagan practices

Baltic Crusades
© Aleks Pluskowski
Stanford Assistant Professor Krish Seetah and Reading University student Rose Calis analyze animal bones in the basement of Riga Castle, Latvia.
The Baltic Crusades left major ecological and cultural scars on medieval pagan villages, and new archaeological evidence shows the campaign caused deforestation, pushed species to extinction and may have even ended a pagan practice of eating dogs.

From the 12th century to the 16th century, a group of a Germanic Christian knights known as the Teutonic Order waged war against pagans, who viewed much of nature as sacred, in what is today Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and parts of Sweden and Russia. An archaeological and anthropological team, led by Stanford University researcher Krish Seetah, has been piecing together the changes that took place during this period, with an emphasis on the crusaders' use of wildlife.

"Underlying war was the use of animals for war," Seetah said in a statement. And some of the project's findings show how the Teutonic Order owed the success of its conquest in part to its horses, which were much larger than the ones used by the pagans. The researchers are also comparing food preparation across cultures, through an analysis of processing tools and cut marks on animal bones.
Pharoah

Oldest pharaoh carvings discovered in Egypt

Egyptian Boat
© Stan Hendrickx, John Coleman Darnell & Maria Carmela Gatto
Look closely -- standing on the top of this boat is a crowned figure who may represent Narmer, the first pharaoh to rule unified Egypt. Oarsmen propel the boat along.
The oldest-known representations of a pharaoh are carved on rocks near the Nile River in southern Egypt, researchers report.

The carvings were first observed and recorded in the 1890s, but only rediscovered in 2008. In them, a white-crowned figure travels in ceremonial processions and on sickle-shaped boats, perhaps representing an early tax-collecting tour of Egypt.

The scenes place the age of the carvings between 3200 B.C. and 3100 B.C., researchers report in the December issue of the journal Antiquity. During that time, Egypt was transitioning into the dynastic rule of the pharaohs.

"It's really the end of prehistory and the beginning of history," in Egypt, study researcher Maria Gatto told LiveScience.
Boat

Archaeologists uncover lost port of ancient Rome

French and Italian archaeologists have found the remains of a grain port that played a critical role in the rise of ancient Rome, France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) said on Thursday.

Cores drilled at a location at the mouth of the River Tiber have revealed the site of a port whose existence has been sought for centuries, it said in a press release.
Family

Genes tell intricate tale of Jewish Diaspora

© Anibal Trejo/Shutterstock
The Aben Danan Synagogue in Fez, Morocco, brings a North African flare to the Jewish faith.
A new genetic map paints a comprehensive picture of the 2,000 or so years in which different Jewish groups migrated across the globe, with some becoming genetically isolated units while others seemed to mix and mingle more.

The new findings allow researchers to trace the diaspora, or the historical migration, of the Jews, which began in the sixth century B.C. when the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah. Some Jews remained in Judah under Babylonian rule, while others fled to Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. Jewish migrations have continued into the present day.

The study researchers found that the genomes of Jewish North African groups are distinct from one another, but that they show linkages to each other absent from their non-Jewish North African neighbors. The findings reveal a history of close-knit communities prone to intermarriage, said study leader Harry Ostrer of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

"Virtually all the Jewish groups we've studied tend to be quite closely related to one another," Ostrer said. "It would seem for most Jewish groups, there is a biological basis for their Jewishness which is based on their sharing of DNA segments."
Map

Origin of the Romani people pinned down

© Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J0525-0500-003 / CC-BY-SA, distributed under a Creative Commons license (German Federal Archives)
Romani with their wagon, photographed in the Rheinland of Germany in 1935.
Europe's largest minority group, the Romani, migrated from northwest India 1,500 years ago, new genetic study finds.

The Romani, also known as the Roma, were originally dubbed "gypsies" in the 16th century, because this widely dispersed group of people were first thought to have come from Egypt. Today, many consider "gypsy" to be a derogatory term.

Since the advent of better and better genetic technology, researchers have analyzed the genetic history of much of Europe, finding, for example, the history of the Jewish Diaspora written in DNA. But though there are 11 million Romani in Europe, their history has been neglected, said study researcher David Comas of the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain

Linguistic history as well as a few limited genetic studies had already suggested the Romani originally hailed from India. To confirm this idea and uncover more details on the migration, Comas and his colleagues used a technique that compares DNA segments from across the whole genome with that of other populations. They used DNA samples from 13 groups of Romani spread across Europe.
Top