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Authorities Preserve Maya Ruins Buried Under Mexican Highway

Mexican cultural authorities have preserved an archaeological area with several Maya buildings more than 1,500 years old that were buried under a highway in the Yucatan peninsula.

The archaeological zone, comprised of the remains of five Maya buildings, was part of the ancient city of Oxkintok and is located on both sides of the highway, where a roadside stop has been set up so that visitors or travelers can look around, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said.

© Unknown
Info

Ancient Statue Reveals Prince Who Would Become Buddha

Buddha?
© Jaroslav Poncar
A newly discovered stele from Mes Aynak, in Afghanistan, reveals a depiction of a prince and monk. The prince is likely the founder of Buddhism.
In the ruins of a Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan, archaeologists have uncovered a stone statue that seems to depict the prince Siddhartha before he founded Buddhism.

The stone statue, or stele, was discovered at the Mes Aynak site in a ruined monastery in 2010, but it wasn't until now that it was analyzed and described. Gérard Fussman, a professor at the Collège de France in Paris, details his study in The Early Iconography of Avalokitesvara (Collège de France, 2012).

Standing 11 inches (28 centimeters) high and carved from schist - a stone not found in the area - the stele depicts a prince alongside a monk. Based on a bronze coin found nearby, Fussman estimates the statue dates back at least 1,600 years. Siddhartha lived 25 centuries ago.

The prince is shown sitting on a round wicker stool, his eyes looking down and with his right foot against his left knee. He is "clad in a dhoti (a garment), with a turban, wearing necklaces, earrings and bracelets, sitting under a pipal tree foliage. On the back of the turban, two large rubans [are] flowing from the head to the shoulders," writes Fussman in his new book. "The turban is decorated by a rich front-ornament, without any human figure in it."

The monk stands at the prince's right side, his right forearm shown upright. In his right hand the monk holds a lotus flower or palm (now broken), and in his left is a round object of some kind.

Based on the iconography of the stele, particularly the pipal leaves, Fussman believes the prince is Gautama Siddhartha Sakyamuni, who is said to have achieved enlightenment, become a Buddha - someone of divine wisdom and virtue - and founded the religion of Buddhism. This stele shows him at an early moment in his life, when he has yet to start his fateful journey of enlightenment.
Die

Was humanity born in the mother of all plagues?

DNA plagues
© George Underwood/Getty Images
Switched off: Two Siglec genes made humans vulnerable to disease
Around 100,000 years ago, the human race was on the brink of extinction. Confined to Africa, our population had fallen to less than 10,000. Yet within a few tens of thousands of years, we began spreading around the world.

New genetic evidence suggests that one factor contributing to the population bottleneck was a massive epidemic of bacterial disease. The bacteria were exploiting two immune system genes, turning them against us. So the solution was simple: get rid of the traitorous genes.

Ajit Varki of the University of California, San Diego and colleagues looked at two genes called Siglec-13 and Siglec-17. Both code for proteins that are involved in controlling the immune system, helping to decide whether immune cells should go on the offensive.

Varki found that both genes are active in chimpanzees, but not in humans. Siglec-13 has been entirely deleted from the human genome, while Siglec-17 is non-functional as a result of losing one letter from its code.
Cow Skull

Iowa Clan's search for blackberries yields the remains of a 12,000-year-old mammoth

 Mammoth Bones
© ABC News
Iowa Family Finds Mammoth Bones In Backyard
An excavation is underway thanks to the discovery of the bones of a prehistoric mammoth in one Oskaloosa, Iowa, family's backyard.

According to ABC's affiliate ABC5-WOI in Des Moines, the first bones were discovered in July 2010 by a man named John and his two teenage sons when they were walking in the woods of their property looking for blackberries.

One of his sons pointed out what he thought was a ball in the creek below to his family. Once they got closer, John, who has an interest in archeology, noticed a marrow line at the top of the object, said reporter ABC5-WOI reporter Katie Eastman, who interviewed the family.

Realizing this was no ball, the family dug out what has now been identified as a mammoth femur.

Despite discovering the bones nearly two years ago, the bones were brought to the University of Iowa for identification only last month, sparking the interest of Holmes Semken, professor emeritus of Geoscience.
Info

Gold Earring, Precious Stones Among 2,000-Year-Old Treasure

Ancient Artifacts
© Sharon Gal, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Archaeologists uncovered about 140 gold and silver coins along with gold jewelry in a pit in the courtyard of an exposed building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period.
A trove of gold and silver coins and jewelry discovered near the Qiryat Gat in Israel was likely stashed there by a wealthy woman during the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the last Jewish-Roman war, archaeologists announced today (June 5).

Scientists uncovered about 140 gold and silver coins, along with gold jewelry, during an excavation that exposed rooms of a building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period. The treasure trove was wrapped in cloth and hidden in a pit in the building's courtyard.

The jewelry could make even a modern gal smile; among the hoard is a flower-shaped earring and a ring holding a precious stone that is covered with a seal of a winged goddess.

Two sticks of silver in the trove were likely kohl sticks, which were used type of like eyeliner in Arabia and Egypt to darken the edges of eyelids. The coins date to the reigns of emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan, who ruled the Roman Empire from about A.D. 54 to 117; the emperors' images adorn one side of the coins.

And the other side of the coins shows cultic portrayals of the emperors, symbols of the brotherhood of warriors and mythological gods such as Jupiter seated on a throne or Jupiter grasping a lightning bolt in his hand.
Cheeseburger

Brits used cold storage in Bronze Age 4,000 years ago

Homes in Britain may have had 'mod cons' as many as 4,000 years ago, according to archaeologists.

They have discovered what are believed to be some of the country's earliest cold storage larders, which are precursors to the fridge, at a Bronze Age site.

The larders, an early form of refrigeration used to keep milk and meat from going off, were uncovered by a team investigating six roundhouses found at a housing development site at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, Argyll.

They are the first north of the Border to have ring ditches inside.

Dr Clare Ellis, of Argyll Archaeology, who led an evaluation at the site, believes the ditches are cellars for keeping food cool.

"This is a new design, not recognised or seen before in Scotland. The general consensus was that ring ditches occur outside the roof supports of roundhouses, but still within the roundhouse structure, and were erosional features where animals were kept," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

"But these are inside the roof support area and the theory is that they are low cellars that would have had wooden floors over them. We think they are an early form of cellar, an early larder storage system.
Sherlock

500-Year old Indian Village Unearthed in North Carolina

© http://www.charlotteobserver.com/
An artist's rendering of the Catawba Meadows Archaeological Interpretive Center, located at Catawba Meadows Park in the city of Morganton. Located along the Catawba River, the center will be on the actual site where archaeologists are excavating an Indian village that stood here 500 years ago.
The Charlotte Observer reported on an American Indian village unearthed in Morganton, North Carolina, in Catawba Meadows Park. Archaeologists have been pulling artifacts from the ground in Burke County for some time now. The Observer spoke to Emma Richardson, who has been part of the team researching the village.

Richardson told the Observer that village hugged the banks of the Catawba River in present-day Morganton, and was likely circled by a wooden palisade, with village structures rising in a meadow where gardens flourished thank sto the rich river-bottom soil.

"Richardson also imagines a day in the 16th-century when villagers may have looked up from their toil and seen Spanish explorers arrive," Observer reporter Joe DePriest writes. "The story of this clash of cultures will be told in a major living history project going up on the actual site of the village, now occupied by Morganton's Catawba Meadows Park."
Newspaper

Great khufu Pyramid Starmap Etching Depicts Age of 9200 BCE


The etching of a starmap centered exactly above Gantenbrink's Door, in the "airshaft' running up and away south from the Queen's Chamber in the great pyramid, depicts some amazing surprises for us all, if we would only do the research. No hieroglyphs here at all; just celestial markings. These markings were NOT purposeless graffiti; because if purposeless graffiti were allowed, then markings would have been found all over the pyramid, and they were not. All facets of the pyramid were aligned to a Northmark - INCLUDING the shaft pointing south - to align that shaft to something different than the true north sky (what everything else was aligned to) would have caused failure in the engineering.

Is there one above the north shaft door? I do not know, because we were in such a rush to drill holes in things, that we failed to follow the scientific method and document the walls, untouched, first.
Question

'Vampire' Plague Victim Spurs Gruesome Debate

Vampire of Venice
© Matteo Borrini
The skull of the "vampire of Venice," found in a mass grave with a brick stuck in its jaw.
What may have been an exorcism of a vampire in Venice is now drawing bad blood among scientists arguing over whether gravediggers were attempting to defeat an undead monster.

The controversy begins with a mass grave of 16th-century plague victims on the Venetian island of Nuovo Lazzaretto. The remains of a woman there apparently had a brick shoved in her mouth, perhaps to exorcise the corpse in what may have been the first vampire burial known in archaeology, said forensic anthropologist Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence in Italy.

Vampire superstitions were common when plague devastated Europe, and much, if not all, of this folklore could be due to misconceptions about the natural stages of decomposition, Borrini said. The recently dead can often appear unnervingly alive. As the corpse's skin shrinks and pulls back, for example, hair and nails may appear to grow after death.

The remains of the woman were apparently wrapped in a shroud, based on the position of her collarbone, Borrini suggested. A corpse might appear to have chewed through its shroud because of corrosive fluids it spewed as it decayed, perhaps frightening gravediggers into thinking it was a vampire.

Vampire myths link the monsters with contagions, and the plague ran rampant in Venice in 1576, killing as many as 50,000 people, nearly a third of the city, including famed Renaissance artist Titian. The gravediggers that ran across this corpse may have wanted to prevent a vampire from ravaging the city further with pestilence, Borrini and his colleague Emilio Nuzzolese suggested in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in 2010. The "vampire" has since been discussed on Italian national TV and a National Geographic documentary.
Umbrella

Climate Change Led to Collapse of Ancient Indus Civilization, Study Finds

Indus collpapse
© Liviu Giosan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Stefan Constantinescu, University of Bucharest; James P.M. Syvitski, University of Colorado.
Once extending more than 1 million square kilometers across the plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Sea to the Himalayas and the Ganges, over what is now Pakistan, northwest India and eastern Afghanistan, the Indus civilization was the largest—but least known—of the first great urban cultures that also included Egypt and Mesopotamia. Named for one of their largest cities, the Harappans relied on river floods to fuel their agricultural surpluses. Today, numerous remains of the Harappan settlements are located in a vast desert region far from any flowing river.

A new study combining the latest archaeological evidence with state-of-the-art geoscience technologies provides evidence that climate change was a key ingredient in the collapse of the great Indus or Harappan Civilization almost 4000 years ago. The study also resolves a long-standing debate over the source and fate of the Sarasvati, the sacred river of Hindu mythology.

Once extending more than 1 million square kilometers across the plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Sea to the Ganges, over what is now Pakistan, northwest India and eastern Afghanistan, the Indus civilization was the largest -- but least known -- of the first great urban cultures that also included Egypt and Mesopotamia. Like their contemporaries, the Harappans, named for one of their largest cities, lived next to rivers owing their livelihoods to the fertility of annually watered lands.

"We reconstructed the dynamic landscape of the plain where the Indus civilization developed 5200 years ago, built its cities, and slowly disintegrated between 3900 and 3000 years ago," said Liviu Giosan, a geologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and lead author of the study published the week of May 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Until now, speculations abounded about the links between this mysterious ancient culture and its life-giving mighty rivers."
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