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Sat, 13 Feb 2016
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Peruvians experimented with brain surgery 1,000 years ago

© Danielle Kurin
Some 900 years ago, a Peruvian healer used a hand drill to make dozens of small holes in a patient's skull.
Brain surgery is a procedure so complicated that we use the term as shorthand for something almost unfathomably complex.

However, surgically opening a person's skull isn't a recent phenomenon, as a new study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology has revealed that people living in ancient Peru spent time learning how to conduct such a delicate operation.

In the new study, University of California, Santa Barbara researcher Danielle Kurin described how native people living in Peru 1,000 years ago surgically removed a section of the cranium, a process called trepanation, for a variety of reasons.

"When you get a knock on the head that causes your brain to swell dangerously, or you have some kind of neurological, spiritual or psychosomatic illness, drilling a hole in the head becomes a reasonable thing to do," said Kurin, a visiting assistant professor at UCSB and specialist in forensic anthropology.

In her study, Kurin notes trepanations first appeared between 200 and 600 A.D. The medical procedure continued until Spanish conquistadors put an end to the practice in the early 16th century.

"For about 400 years, from 600 to 1000 AD, the area where I work - the Andahuaylas - was living as a prosperous province within an enigmatic empire known as the Wari," she said. "For reasons still unknown, the empire suddenly collapsed."

"But it is precisely during times of collapse that we see people's resilience and moxie coming to the fore," Kurin added. "In the same way that new types of bullet wounds from the Civil War resulted in the development of better glass eyes, the same way IED's are propelling research in prosthetics in the military today, so, too, did these people in Peru employ trepanation to cope with new challenges like violence, disease and depravation 1,000 years ago."

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Star of Bethlehem a literary creation, says Ohio State physics scholar

© Tom Dodge/Dispatch
Aaron Adair, who has degrees in physics from Ohio State University, has written a book, The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View.
Aaron Adair received his first taste of the Star of Bethlehem mystery when he worked as a planetarium-show presenter while an undergraduate student at Michigan State University.

A decade later, after exploring dozens of star theories dating back centuries, he's a skeptic.

In the newly published The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View, the Ohio State University scholar says the star was most likely the literary creation of the author of the Gospel of Matthew, meant to convey a message of salvation.

None of the other hypotheses he has encountered can explain it, Adair said, and at least one - that the star was a "fantastic" conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in either 3 or 2 B.C. - would have to change history to fit the story.

"I found out that pretty much all the hypotheses failed to really conform to what the Gospel actually said," noted Adair, who has a master's degree in physics and a doctorate in physics education at Ohio State.

The story, told only in Matthew, says the star appeared upon Jesus' birth and guided wise men, or magi, from the East to worship him.

"A lot of the literature of the time is ultimately not to say what happened but is ultimately some sort of symbolic tale," Adair said. "It's supposed to be an important legend or myth that ... tries to explain points of theology in the way of storytelling."

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Ancient spider rock art sparks archaeological mystery

© Salima Ikram, North Kharga Oasis Survey, cropped by Owen Jarus
Archaeologists have discovered a broken panel that depicts the only known example of spider rock art in Egypt and, it appears, the entire Old World.
Archaeologists have discovered a panel containing the only known example of spider rock art in Egypt and, it appears, the entire Old World.

The rock panel, now in two pieces, was found on the west wall of a shallow sandstone wadi, or valley, in the Kharga Oasis, located in Egypt's western desert about 108 miles (175 kilometers) west of Luxor. Facing east, and illuminated by the morning sun, the panel is a "very unusual" find, said Egyptologist Salima Ikram, a professor at the American University in Cairo who co-directs the North Kharga Oasis Survey Project.

The identification of the creatures as spiders is tentative and the date of it uncertain, Ikram told LiveScience in an email. Even so, based on other activity in the area, the rock art may date to about 4000 B.C. or earlier, which would put it well into prehistoric times, before Egypt was unified, noted Ikram, who detailed the finding in the most recent edition of the journal Sahara. [See Photos of the Newfound Spider Rock Art]

The main panel shows what appear to be a few spiders, with a "star" that's possibly meant to depict a web next to the spider on the far left. There are also comblike drawings that are more enigmatic; Ikram said they could be insects being trapped by the spiders, plants or even silken tubes spun by the spiders.

Che Guevara

FDR's 'Economic Bill of Rights' speech

This is FDR's proposed second Bill of Rights that was filmed after he delivered his State of the Union Address via radio on January 11, 1944. Roosevelt's vision for America, along with his vice-president Henry Wallace, was in stark contrast to the war-machine created by the Wall Street oligarchs and mad generals who silently took over the US during WW2.


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CIA mind games and Oswald doubles: Was there more than one 'Lee Harvey Oswald'?

John Judge talk from 1988
"We do know Oswald had intelligence connections. Everywhere you look with him, there are fingerprints of intelligence."

~ Republican Senator Richard Schweiker, member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Village Voice, December 15th, 1975)
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Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Zionist mob kingpin and Jacob Rubenstein... but which 'Lee Harvey Oswald' is it?
The first indication that someone might be impersonating Oswald came in a June, 1960 memo from J. Edgar Hoover to the State Department. His letter stated he believed that someone "accessed" Oswald's birth certificate and might be using it to impersonate him.

This date - 1960 - is not a typo.

Yes, the Kennedy assassination took place in 1963 and Oswald and the idea that there might be more than one of him was already on the radar screen of the FBI Director.

This and other gems - some well documented, some not - can be found in Harvey and Lee - How the CIA framed Oswald by John Armstrong.


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Untold History of the United States: The coup against Henry Wallace and what might have been

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Henry Wallace, the man who would have replaced FDR as President when he died during his 4th term, was forced off the presidential ticket by the corporate controllers of the Democratic Party, despite his overwhelming popular support.
Paul Jay of Real News interviews Peter Kuznick (co-author with Oliver Stone of the Untold History of the United States). A Wallace Presidency might have prevented the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan and prevented the Cold War. But far more than that, it might have completely altered the course of modern U.S. history by leaving the 'Cold War' still-born.


Comment: Top class interview about a top class gentleman. Paul Jay is so right - they would have had no qualms about shooting Wallace dead in broad daylight. This is arguably the most important nexus point in modern US history. JFK tried to reverse what had already been set in motion by the coup against Wallace and the subsequent creation of the bomb, the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA and the overall National Security State. If you haven't seen it yet, Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick's Untold History of the United States is well worth watching.


Footprints

Neanderthal DNA dating back 50,000 years reveals that some of them were 'highly INBRED'

  • Discovery was made after DNA analysis on a Neanderthal woman's toe bone
  • Her mother and father were closely related and may have been half-siblings
  • Inbreeding may have been result of Neanderthal population being very small
  • Scientists say many people alive today still carry ancient Neanderthal genes
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The toe bone of a Neanderthal woman, recovered from a cave in Siberia. 50,000 year-old DNA extracted from the bone was used to produce the most complete sequence so far of the genome of this group of early humans
Neanderthals liked to be close to their families - very close, a genetic study has shown.

DNA from a Neanderthal woman's 50,000-year-old toe bone shows she was highly inbred.

Scientists discovered that her parents were either half-siblings who shared the same mother, an uncle and niece, an aunt and nephew, or a grandparent and grandchild.

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Ancient iron smelters indicate Huns more than just conquering nomads

© Ehime University
Remnants of an iron-smelting furnace discovered in the remains of Khustyn Bulag in central Mongolia.
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of iron-smelting furnaces used by the ancient Huns, a significant find indicating the conquering nomads were advanced enough to make their own iron and not just pillage it.

"With the discovery, the image of a nomadic nation has been altered significantly because we now believe that the Huns built a complex society with a sophisticated system of a division of labor in production," said Tomotaka Sasada, a senior researcher at Ehime University's Research Center of Ancient East Asian Iron Culture.

Before the discovery by Japanese and Mongolian archaeologists, the Huns, who built a nomadic nation between the third century B.C. and first century in the Mongolian plateau and adjoining regions, were believed to have obtained iron for weapons and other implements by pillaging the territories of the Chinese Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.- 206 B.C.) and Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220).

The joint team of researchers from Ehime University's Research Center of Ancient East Asian Iron Culture and the Institute of Archaeology of the Mongolian Academy of Science have excavated five small iron-smelting furnaces since 2011.

They were uncovered in the remains of Khustyn Bulag in Tov province, located about 120 kilometers east from Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia.

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Before Stonehenge - did this man lord it over Wiltshire's sacred landscape?

© English Heritage
Forensic face reconstruction expert, Oscar Nilsson, in the process of re-creating the Neolithic man's face - by using silicon to create 'flesh' over an exact replica of the skull taken from a mould of the original.
Archaeologists have just completed the most detailed study ever carried out of the life story of a prehistoric Briton.

What they have discovered sheds remarkable new light on the people who, some 5500 years ago, were building the great ritual monuments of what would become the sacred landscape of Stonehenge.

A leading forensic specialist has also used that prehistoric Briton's skull to produce the most life-like, and arguably the most accurate, reconstruction of a specific individual's face from British prehistory.

The new research gives a rare glimpse into upper class life back in the Neolithic.

Five and a half millennia ago, he was almost certainly a very prominent and powerful individual - and he is about to be thrust into the limelight once again. For his is the prehistoric face that will welcome literally millions of visitors from around the world to English Heritage's new Stonehenge visitor centre after it opens tomorrow, Wednesday. The organisation estimates that around 1.2 million tourists from dozens of countries will 'meet' him as they explore the new visitor centre over the next 12 months.


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Medieval crypt discovered in Sudan with 7 male mummies

© Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology Archives
The 900-year-old crypt (entranceway shown) uncovered in Old Dongola in modern-day Sudan contains seven naturally mummified bodies and walls covered with inscriptions written in Greek and Sahidic Coptic.
A 900-year-old medieval crypt, containing seven naturally mummified bodies and walls covered with inscriptions, has been excavated in a monastery at Old Dongola, the capital of a lost medieval kingdom that flourished in the Nile Valley.

Old Dongola is located in modern-day Sudan, and 900 years ago, it was the capital of Makuria, a Christian kingdom that lived in peace with its Islamic neighbor to the north.

One of the mummies in the crypt (scientists aren't certain which one) is believed to be that of Archbishop Georgios, probably the most powerful religious leader in the kingdom. His epitaph was found nearby and says that he died in A.D. 1113 at the age of 82.