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Vikings feasted on seals, bones reveal

Grave
© Jette Arneborg
Archaeologists dig up skeletons of Norse settlers in 2010 at Igaliku Fjord, Greenland.
Seals made up as much 80 percent of the Viking diet in Greenland, new analyses of Norse skeletons reveal. The finds suggest that the settlers' mysterious disappearance from Greenland 500 years ago was hardly due to an inability to adjust to the icy environment.

"Even though the Norse are traditionally thought of as farmers, they adapted quickly to the Arctic environment and the unique hunting opportunities," explained researcher Jan Heinemeier of Aarhus University in a statement. "During the period they were in Greenland, the Norse ate gradually more seals."

Through analyses of the carbon isotope ratios in bone samples from 80 Norse skeletons, the researchers determined that a large proportion of the Vikings' diet came from seafood, with seals making up between 50 and 80 percent by the 14th century.

The first Norse transplants brought farming and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs from Iceland to Greenland. But the new findings challenge the view that these settlers stuck to this lifestyle until increasingly harsh conditions, and possibly a "Little Ice Age," drove them to starve or settle elsewhere.
Boat

Hurricane Sandy exposes Fire Island shipwreck

© Live Science/Cheryl Hapke/USGS
The presumed remains of the Bessie White, a wrecked schooner long buried under Fire Island's dunes, now lays fully exposed on the beach following Hurricane Sandy.
New York - A wrecked schooner long buried on Fire Island - a barrier island off of Long Island, N.Y. - now lies fully exposed following Hurricane Sandy's attack on the beach.

The weathered hull of the shipwreck lies about 4 miles (6 kilometers) east of Davis Park, between Skunk Hollow and Whalehouse Point, in the Fire Island National Seashore, as first reported by Newsday.

The remains are thought to be the Bessie White, more than 90 years old, said Paula Valentine, public affairs specialist for the park. Historic photographs and news accounts don't agree on the year of ship's grounding, but here is an outline of its story:

The ship, a four-mast Canadian schooner, went aground in heavy fog about a mile west of Smith's Point, Long Island, in either 1919 or 1922. The men escaped in two boats. One capsized in the surf, injuring one crew member, but everyone (including the ship's cat) made it to shore safely. But the crew couldn't save the three-year-old ship or its tons of coal. The ship was salvaged in the following weeks.

The bus-size ship's skeleton has poked up through the sand before, such as after a nor'easter in 2006, exposing long boards and metal pegs, Valentine told OurAmazingPlanet.
Monkey Wrench

Stone-tipped spear invented earlier than thought, researchers say

Stone-tipped spear
© Jayne Wilkins
Examples of experimental stone-tipped hafted spears.
Homo heidelbergensis developed the weapon 500,000 years ago, long before Neanderthals and Homo sapiens made them, a study finds.

It was among early man's greatest technological feats: a fully engineered weapon that combined a wooden shaft, mixed adhesives and a stone that had been chiseled to a lethal point.

To many anthropologists, the creation of the stone-tipped, or hafted, spear was a watershed moment in human evolution. Not only did it amplify the killing power of early hunters, it also demonstrated clearly that they had developed the capacity for complex and abstract reasoning.

Pinning down this moment in prehistory has been difficult, however. It was long held that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens first lashed stone tips to spears 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. But a study published in Friday's edition of the journal Science contends that a third species, Homo heidelbergensis, developed the technology about 500,000 years ago.
Black Magic

They cracked this 250 year-old code, and found a secret society inside


Ancient Manuscript
© Uppsala University
For more than 200 years, this book concealed the arcane rituals of an ancient order. But cracking the code only deepened the mystery.
The master wears an amulet with a blue eye in the center. Before him, a candidate kneels in the candlelit room, surrounded by microscopes and surgical implements. The year is roughly 1746. The initiation has begun.

The master places a piece of paper in front of the candidate and orders him to put on a pair of eyeglasses. "Read," the master commands. The candidate squints, but it's an impossible task. The page is blank.

The candidate is told not to panic; there is hope for his vision to improve. The master wipes the candidate's eyes with a cloth and orders preparation for the surgery to commence. He selects a pair of tweezers from the table. The other members in attendance raise their candles.

The master starts plucking hairs from the candidate's eyebrow. This is a ritualistic procedure; no flesh is cut. But these are "symbolic actions out of which none are without meaning," the master assures the candidate. The candidate places his hand on the master's amulet. Try reading again, the master says, replacing the first page with another. This page is filled with handwritten text. Congratulations, brother, the members say. Now you can see.

For more than 260 years, the contents of that page - and the details of this ritual - remained a secret. They were hidden in a coded manuscript, one of thousands produced by secret societies in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the peak of their power, these clandestine organizations, most notably the Freemasons, had hundreds of thousands of adherents, from colonial New York to imperial St. Petersburg. Dismissed today as fodder for conspiracy theorists and History Channel specials, they once served an important purpose: Their lodges were safe houses where freethinkers could explore everything from the laws of physics to the rights of man to the nature of God, all hidden from the oppressive, authoritarian eyes of church and state. But largely because they were so secretive, little is known about most of these organizations.

Membership in all but the biggest died out over a century ago, and many of their encrypted texts have remained uncracked, dismissed by historians as impenetrable novelties.
Question

Ancient mariners: Did Neanderthals sail to Mediterranean?

Akrotiri Aetokremnos
© Alan Simmons
Neanderthals or other extinct human lineages may have sailed to the Mediterranean Islands long before previously thought. Here, an excavation at Akrotiri Aetokremnos, a site in Cyprus dating back to about 10,000 B.C. where pygmy hippo fossils were found.
Neanderthals and other extinct human lineages might have been ancient mariners, venturing to the Mediterranean islands thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

This prehistoric seafaring could shed light on the mental capabilities of these lost relatives of modern humans, researchers say.

Scientists had thought the Mediterranean islands were first settled about 9,000 years ago by Neolithic or New Stone Age farmers and shepherds.

"On a lot of Mediterranean islands, you have these amazing remains from classical antiquity to study, so for many years people didn't even look for older sites," said archaeologist Alan Simmons at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

However, in the last 20 years or so, some evidence has surfaced for a human presence on these islands dating back immediately before the Neolithic.

"There's still a lot to find in archaeology - you have to keep pushing the envelope in terms of conventional wisdom," Simmons said.
Stock Down

Human intelligence has been on an intellectual and emotional decline since its peak thousands of years ago

Human Brain
© The Independent
Is the human species doomed to intellectual decline? Will our intelligence ebb away in centuries to come leaving our descendants incapable of using the technology their ancestors invented? In short: will Homo be left without his sapiens?

This is the controversial hypothesis of a leading geneticist who believes that the immense capacity of the human brain to learn new tricks is under attack from an array of genetic mutations that have accumulated since people started living in cities a few thousand years ago.

Professor Gerald Crabtree, who heads a genetics laboratory at Stanford University in California, has put forward the iconoclastic idea that rather than getting cleverer, human intelligence peaked several thousand years ago and from then on there has been a slow decline in our intellectual and emotional abilities.

Although we are now surrounded by the technological and medical benefits of a scientific revolution, these have masked an underlying decline in brain power which is set to continue into the future leading to the ultimate dumbing-down of the human species, Professor Crabtree said.

His argument is based on the fact that for more than 99 per cent of human evolutionary history, we have lived as hunter-gatherer communities surviving on our wits, leading to big-brained humans. Since the invention of agriculture and cities, however, natural selection on our intellect has effective stopped and mutations have accumulated in the critical "intelligence" genes.
Info

Ancient temple with marks of conflict uncovered near Jerusalem

Ancient Israeli Temple_1
© Dale Manor
Floor level of the temple at Beth Shemesh.
At a biblical border city outside of Jerusalem, archaeologists have uncovered a temple from the 11th century B.C. that they say bears evidence of conflict among the ancient Israelites, Canaanites and Philistines.

Spread across what would have been the floor at the complex at Tel Beth-Shemesh, a site about 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of Jerusalem, excavators found shards of painted chalices and goblets - not the type of containers that would have been used for daily household activities.

They also found animal bones surrounding a flat stone inside the building and discovered two more flat stones seemingly designed to direct liquids. Lacking the typical traces of domestic use, the excavators believe the building served as a place of worship.

But the complex didn't stay holy for long. The archaeologists found evidence that the temple was destroyed. What's more, an analysis of dirt at the site turned up microscopic remains of plants commonly eaten by livestock as well as the remnants of poop from grass-eating animals, suggesting the site was appropriated as a livestock pen.

The excavators believe the animal takeover of the temple might represent a deliberate desecration by the Philistines, who lived alongside, though hardly peacefully, with the Israelites and Canaanites. The ancient village of Beth-Shemesh, located at the crossroads of the three groups, frequently changed hands between the Philistines and the Canaanite and Israelite populations that resisted them. The researchers say the Philistines likely gained temporary control of Beth-Shemesh and then brought in livestock to reside on what they knew had been a holy place for their enemies.
Bacon n Eggs

Was woolly mammoth Neanderthal lunch?

Woolly mommoth and neanderthals

An archaeologist from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research works near the excavation site where a preserved woolly mammoth skeleton, nicknamed 'Helmut' by the excavation team and estimated to date from 125,000 to 200,000 years ago, has been discovered at a quarry site.
Changis-sur-Marne, France - French archaeologists have uncovered a rare, near-complete skeleton of a mammoth in the countryside near Paris, alongside tiny fragments of flint tools suggesting the carcass may have been cut into by prehistoric hunters.

The archaeologists say that if that hypothesis is confirmed, their find would be the clearest ever evidence of interaction between mammoths and ancient cavemen in this part of Europe.

"Evidence this clear has never been found before, at least in France," said Gregory Bayle, chief archaeologist at the site.

"We're working on the theory that Neanderthal men came across the carcass and cut off bits of meat."

Archaeologists came across the giant bones by accident while they were excavating ancient Roman remains in a quarry near the town of Changis-sur-Marne, 30km east of Paris.
Cloud Lightning

Extreme weather preceded collapse of Maya civilization

© Unknown
Decades of extreme weather crippled, and ultimately decimated, first the political culture and later the human population of the ancient Maya, according to a new study by an interdisciplinary team of researchers that includes two University of California, Davis, scientists.

The collapse of the Maya is one of the world's most enduring mysteries. Now, for the first time, researchers have combined a precise climatic record of the Maya environment with a precise record of Maya political history to provide a better understanding of the role weather had in the civilization's downfall.

Their findings are published in the Nov. 9, 2012 issue of the journal Science.

"Here you had an amazing state-level society that had created calendars, magnificent architecture, works of art, and was engaged in trade throughout Central America," said UC Davis anthropology professor and co-author Bruce Winterhalder. "They were incredible craftspersons, proficient in agriculture, statesmanship and warfare - and within about 80 years, it fell completely apart."

To determine what was happening in the sociopolitical realm during each of those years, the study tapped the extensive Maya Hieroglyphic Database Project, run by UC Davis Native American Language Center director and linguist Martha Macri, a specialist in Mayan hieroglyphs who has been tracking the culture's stone monuments for nearly 30 years.

"Every one of these Maya monuments is political history," said Macri.

Comment: Bruce Winterhalder asks if we are in danger the same way the Classic Maya were in danger. The answer to this question is yes, and more. Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. And our political elites know it, and yet do everything in their power to keep the masses in the dark, or by keeping them busy with manufactured terror threats, bloody expensive wars and circuses for elections. From where we sit, something wicked this way comes. The gradually increasing meteorite/comet fragment activity and extreme weather events may be precursors to the return of Ice Age conditions and the collapse of global civilization as we know it.

Read the following articles to learn more:
Reading Celestial Intentions Through the Wrong End of the Telescope: Missiles, UFOs and the Cold War
Reign of Fire: Meteorites, Wildfires, Planetary Chaos and the Sixth Extinction
Chemtrails, Disinformation and the Sixth Extinction
Incoming! Meteor or Comet Fragment Explodes Above Southwestern US, Prompting US Army 'Missiles' Cover-up

Pocket Knife

Early humans tooled up

Tolled up
© SIMEN OESTMO
Tiny microlith blades were being used by humans more than 70,000 years ago.
Sophisticated bladelets suggest that humans passed on their technological skill down the generations

A haul of stone blades from a cave in South Africa suggests that early humans were already masters of complex technology more than 70,000 years ago1.

The tiny blades - no more than about 3 centimetres long on average - were probably used as tips for throwable spears, or as spiky additions to club-like weapons, says Curtis Marean, an archaeologist at Arizona State University in Tempe who led the team that found the bladelets.

Twenty-seven such blades, called microliths by archaeologists, were found in layers of sand and soil dating as far back as 71,000 years ago and representing a timespan of about 11,000 years, showing how long humans were manufacturing the blades.
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