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'Tudor era' is misleading myth, says Oxford historian


Henry VII was the first of the line of 'Tudor monarchs'.
The idea of a "Tudor era" in history is a misleading invention, claims an Oxford University historian.

Cliff Davies says his research shows the term "Tudor" was barely ever used during the time of Tudor monarchs.

There are also suggestions the name was downplayed by Tudor royals because of its associations with Wales.

Dr Davies says films and period dramas have reinforced the "myth" that people thought of themselves as living under a "Tudor" monarchy.

"The term is so convenient," says Dr Davies, of Wadham College and the university's history faculty. But he says it is fundamentally "erroneous".
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Occupy the Neolithic

Ancient Farmer
© BDA-Neugebauer
On top of the food chain. This 7000-year-old farmer from Austria was buried with a stone adze (at his back), a sign that he was part of the social elite.
Even the most democratic societies are rife with social and economic inequalities, as the current tension between the poorer "99%" and the richest "1%" vividly illustrates. But just how early in human events such social hierarchies became entrenched has been a matter of debate. A new study of skeletons from prehistoric farming communities across Europe suggests that hereditary inequality was an early feature, going back more than 7000 years ago.

Most researchers agree that social hierarchies began with the advent of farming. The earliest known farming communities are found in the Near East, dating back almost 11,000 years.

Archaeologists have looked for evidence of social stratification in these societies with mixed results. Some early farming societies show signs that people played different roles and that some were buried with greater ritual - shuffling off this mortal coil with a number of elaborate "grave goods," including pottery and stone tools. However, there is little evidence that social inequality was hereditary or rigidly defined.

That seems to have changed sometime after farmers moved into Europe from the Near East, beginning about 8500 years ago during a period known as the European Neolithic. One of the best studied farming cultures is the Linearbandkeramik (LBK), which arose in what is today Hungary about 7500 years ago and spread as far as modern-day Paris within 500 years, after which it appears to have been superseded by other cultures.

Archaeologists have long noted signs that the LBK culture might have been socially stratified. For example, some, but not all, males were buried with stone tools called adzes, which were thought to be used to build the wooden houses in which the farmers lived. But a few researchers have argued that this stratification took place only gradually over the 500 year period of the LBK.
Sherlock

Was Columbus secretly a Jew?

© Getty Images
Christopher Columbus bids farewell to his son Diego at Palos, Spain, before embarking on his first voyage on August 3, 1492.
Today marks the 508th anniversary of the death of Christopher Columbus.

Everybody knows the story of Columbus, right? He was an Italian explorer from Genoa who set sail in 1492 to enrich the Spanish monarchs with gold and spices from the orient. Not quite.

For too long, scholars have ignored Columbus' grand passion: the quest to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims.
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Discovery of Ancient Religious Text Will Kill Christianity

Christianity is going to collapse, claims Iranian press. Reason? The writings in a recently unearthed religious text written on animal skin that dates back to the fifth century.

The text which is believed to be an authentic version of the Gospel by Barnabas, a disciple of Jesus, is presently with Turkish authorities as they have confiscated it from a group of smugglers who were taking away antiquities.

According to Iranian media, the book has the power to collapse the foundation of Christianity and shake the politics of the world with its claims that Jesus was never crucified.
Ancient Bible
© Device Magazine
Moreover, the book claims that Jesus foretold the coming of the Prophet Muhammad, claims Iranian media like The Basij Press.

The book which is actually written in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, has even made the Vatican curious enough to make an official request with Turkey to allow them to view the book.

Comment: Even if it were authentic as to date, that doesn't make the ideas presented in the text the truth. What's more, it is highly unlikely to "spell the death of Christianity" since any Christian worth his salt is so much an authoritarian follower that he will automatically fall back on Augustine's argument that this is produced by the Devil to test his faith. I'd say this piece is a bit of sensationalist journalism mixed with propaganda.

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200,000 Year Old Palaeolithic Site Discovered

Ancient Palaeolithic Site
© New Straits Times
Universiti Sains Malaysia archaeology research team head Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin (left) showing Sabah Museum director Joanna Kitingan some samples the research team had collected at the site in Kampung Lipasu, Keningau.
Kota Kinabalu: A PALAEOLITHIC site believed to be 200,000 years old has been discovered in Keningau, 138km from here.

Archaeologists claimed that the site in Kampung Lipasu in the sub-district of Bingkor could rival the Mansuli site in Lahad Datu, which is 235,000 years old.

Universiti Sains Malaysia archaeology research team head Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin said researchers, however, had not revealed the exact age of the site said to be a location for making Palaeolithics stone tools.

Excavation began on May 9 and is expected to finish on May 29.

The team, comprising researchers from the USM Global Archeological Research Centre and the Sabah Museum Department, has discovered several artefacts, including an anvil, core stone, hammer stone, chopper and flake tools.

"We believe the Bingkor site could be older than the Mansuli site as there could be more layers beneath the present excavation site," said Mokhtar.
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Caveman Flutists? First Instruments Date Back 40,000 Years

Ancient Flute
© The University of Tübingen
40,000 year old flute from the site of Geißenklösterle made from bird bones.
Early modern humans could have spent their evenings sitting around the fire, playing bone flutes and singing songs 40,000 years ago, newly discovered ancient musical instruments indicate. The bone flutes push back the date researchers think human creativity evolved.

Researchers were studying a modern human settlement called Geißenklösterle, a part of the Swabian caves system in southern Germany, when they came across the bone flutes.

One is made of mammoth ivory, while the other seems to be made of bones from a bird. They also found a collection of perforated teeth, ornaments and stone tools at the site.

"These results are consistent with a hypothesis we made several years ago that the Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago," study researcher Nick Conard, of Tübingen University, said in a statement.

"Geißenklösterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments. The new dates prove the great antiquity of the Aurignacian in Swabia." The Aurignacian refers to an ancient culture and the associated tools.
Sherlock

Dig "proves" Bethlehem existed centuries pre-Jesus

Israeli archaeologists said on Wednesday they had discovered the first physical evidence supporting Old Testament accounts of Bethlehem's existence centuries before the town became revered as the birthplace of Jesus.

The proof came, they said, in a clay seal unearthed near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and imprinted with three lines of ancient Hebrew script that include the word "Bethlehem".

Eli Shukron, who directed the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the seal apparently had been placed on a tax shipment of silver or agricultural produce sent from Bethlehem to the King of Judah in nearby Jerusalem in the 8th or 7th century BC.
© Reuters/Baz Ratner
A clay seal recently unearthed by Israeli archaeologists is displayed by Eli Shukron, who directed the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, just outside Jerusalem's Old City May 23, 2012.

Comment: For a more in-depth review of the Bible and many other interesting topics, check out Laura Knight-Jadczyk's The Secret History of the World

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Rhine Fossils Push River's Age Back 5 Million Years

Fossil Antler
© Senckenberg
A fossil antler of a prehistoric deer that clued researchers in.

Fossilized antlers, teeth and wood dug up near Europe's storied Rhine River indicate the waterway is 5 million years older than many scientists had thought, according to new research.

The Rhine originates in the Swiss Alps and flows more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) northward; it empties into the North Sea along the Netherlands' coast.

There's been an ongoing debate in the scientific community about just how old the river is, according to Madelaine Böhme, a researcher at the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoecology at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

For that reason, scientists examined more than 300 fossils from one of the oldest known areas of the river basin - an area that is a famed treasure trove of fossils.

Böhme, lead author of a study published in the journal PLoS One on May 16, examined fossils dug up in the 1980s that are housed in museum collections.
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Black Magic Revealed in Two Ancient Curses

Ancient Curses_1
© Museo Archeologico Civico di Bologna, cropping by Owen Jarus
Two ancient curses dating back 1,600 years depict a deity with snakes coming out of its head. This deity may be none other than the goddess Hekate, the Queen of the Crossroads. Invocations in the curses resemble those used for her.
At a time when black magic was relatively common, two curses involving snakes were cast, one targeting a senator and the other an animal doctor, says a Spanish researcher who has just deciphered the 1,600-year-old curses.

Both curses feature a depiction of a deity, possibly the Greek goddess Hekate, with serpents coming out of her hair, possibly meant to strike at the victims. Both curses contain Greek invocations similar to examples known to call upon Hekate.

The two curses, mainly written in Latin and inscribed on thin lead tablets, would have been created by two different people late in the life of the Roman Empire.

Both tablets were rediscovered in 2009 at the Museo Archeologico Civico di Bologna, in Italy, and were originally acquired by the museum during the late 19th century.

Although scholars aren't sure where the tablets originated, after examining and deciphering the curses, they know who victims of the curses were.
Family

Dogs may have helped Humans beat the Neanderthals

dog
© unknown
Over 20,000 years ago, humans won the evolutionary battle against Neanderthals. They may have had some assistance in that from their best friends.

One of the most compelling -- and enduring -- mysteries in archaeology concerns the rise of early humans and the decline of Neanderthals. For about 250,000 years, Neanderthals lived and evolved, quite successfully, in the area that is now Europe. Somewhere between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago, early humans came along.

They proliferated in their new environment, their population increasing tenfold in the 10,000 years after they arrived; Neanderthals declined and finally died away.

What happened? What went so wrong for the Neanderthals -- and what went so right for us humans?
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