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Sat, 06 Feb 2016
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Ancient Greek temple aligned to full Moon

© Discovery News
An ancient Greek temple was built to face the setting full moon near the winter solstice, according to new research that sheds new light on the orientation of sacred monuments.

A new survey of the Valley of the Temples just outside Agrigento, Italy, reveals the 2,500-year-old temples were not deliberately aligned to the rising sun, as generally believed. A variety of factors, not all of them being astronomical, inspired the ancient architects.

"Alignment was widely determined by urban layout and morphological aspects of the terrain as well as religious connections," Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan's Polytechnic University, told Discovery News.

Magli and colleagues Robert Hannah, at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, and Andrea Orlando, at the Catania Astrophysical Observatory, conducted the research with funding from the Ente Parco della Valle dei Templi. Their findings are published on the Cornell University physics Web site, arXiv.org.


Archaeologists find tunnel in Mexico City pyramid that may lead to Aztec rulers' tomb

© AP Photo/ Claudio Cruz
In this Oct. 3, 2006 photo, people visit the archaeological site, the Templo Mayor, in Mexico City. A Mexican archaeologist said Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, his team has discovered, at the archaeological site, a long tunnel leading into the center of a circular platform where Aztec rulers were believed to be cremated. The Aztecs are believed to have cremated the remains of their leaders during their 1325-1521 rule, but the final resting place of the cremains has never been found.
A Mexican archaeologist said his team has found a tunnel-like passageway that apparently leads to two sealed chambers, the latest chapter in the search for the as-yet undiscovered tomb of the Aztec rulers of Tenochtitlán.

The Aztecs are believed to have cremated their leaders during their 1325-1521 rule, but the final resting place of the cremated remains - the "cremains," as archeologists refer to them - has never been found. Outside experts said Tuesday the find at Mexico City's Templo Mayor ruin complex would be significant.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said Monday that a team led by archaeologist Leonardo López Luján had discovered a 27-foot-long tunnel leading into the center of a circular platform where dead rulers were believed to be cremated.

The mouth of the tunnel was sealed by a 3-ton slab of rock. When experts lifted it in 2013, they found a hollow space marked by offerings both rich and grisly.

Bizarro Earth

Ancient race of white giants described in native legends from many tribes

© Urosr/iStock
Teardrop Arch in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Navajo legends speak of the Starnake, a race of white giants.
Several Native American tribes have passed down legends of a race of white giants who were wiped out. We'll take a look at a few such legends, including those among the Choctaw and the Comanches of the United States down to the Manta of Peru.


Horatio Bardwell Cushman wrote in his 1899 book History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians: "The tradition of the Choctaws . . . told of a race of giants that once inhabited the now State of Tennessee, and with whom their ancestors fought when they arrived in Mississippi in their migration from the west. ... Their tradition states the Nahullo (race of giants) was of wonderful stature."


Huge geometric shapes located in the Middle East 8500 years old

© Google Earth
Wheel structures in the Azraq Oasis in Jordan, as seen in this Google Earth image.
Thousands of stone structures that form geometric patterns in the Middle East are coming into clearer view, with archaeologists finding two wheel-shaped patterns date back some 8,500 years. That makes these "wheels" older than the famous geoglyphs in Peru called Nazca Lines.

And some of these giant designs located in Jordan's Azraq Oasis seem to have an astronomical significance, built to align with the sunrise on the winter solstice.

Those are just some of the findings of new research on these Middle East lines, which were first encountered by pilots during World War I. RAF Flight Lt. Percy Maitland published an account of them in 1927 in the journal Antiquity, reporting that the Bedouin called the structures "works of the old men," a name still sometimes used by modern-day researchers.

The "works of the old men" include wheels,which often have spokes radiating out from the center, kites (stone structures used for funnelling and killing animals), pendants (lines of stone cairns) and meandering walls, which are mysterious structures that meander across the landscape for up to several hundred feet.

The works "demonstrate specific geometric patterns and extend from a few tens of meters up to several kilometers, evoking parallels to the well-known system of geometric lines of Nazca, Peru," wrote an archaeological team in a paper published recently in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (Peru's Nazca Lines date to between 200 B.C. and A.D. 500.)

They "occur throughout the entire Arabia region, from Syria across Jordan and Saudi Arabia to Yemen," wrote the researchers. "The most startling thing about the 'Works' is that they are difficult to identify from the ground. This stands in contrast to their apparent visibility from the air."

New research on the Middle East lines was published recently in the Journal of Archaeological Science and the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy. Live Science also got an advance copy of an article set to be published in the journal Antiquity.

Comment: Nazca lines of Kazakhstan: More than 50 geoglyphs discovered

Riddle in the Sands: Thousands of Strange 'Nazca Lines' Discovered in the Middle East


The Yamnaya: 'Fourth strand' European ancestry began with hunter-gatherers isolated by the Ice Age

© www.messagetoeagle.com
Satsurblia Cave, location of some of the bones found that indicate a fourth strand of ancestry for European hunter-gatherers.
"This is a major new piece in the human ancestry jigsaw, the influence of which is now present within almost all populations from the European continent and many beyond."

The first sequencing of ancient genomes extracted from human remains that date back to the Late Upper Palaeolithic period over 13,000 years ago has revealed a previously unknown "fourth strand" of ancient European ancestry. This new lineage stems from populations of hunter-gatherers that split from western hunter-gatherers shortly after the 'out of Africa' expansion some 45,000 years ago and went on to settle in the Caucasus region, where southern Russia meets Georgia today.

Here these hunter-gatherers largely remained for millennia, becoming increasingly isolated as the Ice Age culminated in the last 'Glacial Maximum' some 25,000 years ago, which they weathered in the relative shelter of the Caucasus mountains until eventual thawing allowed movement and brought them into contact with other populations, likely from further east.

This led to a genetic mixture that resulted in the Yamnaya culture: horse-borne Steppe herders that swept into Western Europe around 5,000 years ago, arguably heralding the start of the Bronze Age and bringing with them metallurgy and animal herding skills, along with the Caucasus hunter-gatherer strand of ancestral DNA - now present in almost all populations from the European continent.

Comment: As puzzle pieces find their niche, a fuller picture of human genomic ancestry appears with interesting influences of a past ice age.


The entity of neutrality and the story of the black knights

© theflickerees / deviantart
‘The Black Knight’
Around the year 800, Black Knights began to appear in history and, since the 13th century, a series of legends mentioning the mysterious Black Knights, then known as 'the Sith', emerged. Although the Black Knights were said to have carried out good deeds and fought to protect cities from unjust rulers and other threats, texts referring to these legends were censored and banned by the Church during the medieval period. Nevertheless, the story of the legendary knight Ashor endured over the centuries.

The origin of Black Knights is closely linked to the legend of Ashor, a knight who had remained skilled and strong, despite his advanced age, and who specialized in the killing of kings and other nobles. Some time around the 13th or 14th century, there was a king with a powerful enemy - a king of another land who oppressed his people. Desperate to defeat his opponent, the good king sent a message calling Ashor to his court. One night, the king woke up to find Ashor near his bed. The assassin had entered his castle without detection, thus having proven his skill.


Archaeologists unearth Hellenistic Period fortress of Acra

© Assaf Peretz / Israel Antiquities Authority
IAA archaeologists have unearthed the ruins of the Hellenistic period fortress of Acra, solving one of Jerusalem’s greatest archaeological mysteries.
Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have unearthed what they believe are the ruins of Acra - often called the Seleucid Acra - a fortress in Jerusalem constructed more than 2,150 years by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-164 BC).

The fortress ruins were unearthed from beneath the Givati parking lot in the City of David, Jerusalem.

According to the IAA archaeologists, Dr Doron Ben-Ami, Yana Tchekhanovets and Salome Cohen, a section of a massive wall, a base of a tower (13 by 66 feet, or 4 by 20 m) and a glacis were uncovered at the site.

"The glacis, which was built next to the wall, is a defensive sloping embankment composed of layers of soil, stone and plaster, designed to keep attackers away from the base of the wall," Dr Ben-Ami explained.

Blue Planet

The First War For India's Independence: 1857

The British called its battles of 1857 in the Indian sub-continent, waged by native people, as "Sepoy Mutiny" or terms as dismissive, more or less: rebellion, revolt, uprising or subaltern war ( by sepoy cadres and junior officers in their own military ) ! For long now, after I came across compelling evidence of it being a far more concerted and coordinated affair, the historical lies and half-truths that continue to be taught in our schools and colleges has seemed so shocking and shameful to me. But that streaming propaganda flows unabated over the young minds to this day, despite corrections since suggested by very eminent minds and respectable historians. Why ? Are our people so naive, gullible, stupid or fast brainwashed ? Let me know ...


Scan of King Tut's tomb points to secret chamber, maybe Queen Nefertiti's mummy

© Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters
The golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun in his burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings, in Luxor, Egypt
The name Nefertiti means, "the beautiful one has come" in Egyptian. This may actually prove prophetic. Scans of King Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings point to a secret chamber, possibly containing the remains of Queen Nefertiti.

Experts are "approximately 90 percent" sure there's a hidden chamber in Tutankhamun's tomb, Antiquities Minister Mamduh al-Damati told a news conference. They are currently trying to gather more information, using hi-tech infrared and radar technology.

The scans were prompted by a study by a prominent British archaeologist, Nicholas Reeves, which claimed Nefertiti's lost tomb may be hidden in an adjoining chamber. Tutankhamun (who died 3,000 years ago at the age of 19) may have been placed in an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti's tomb, according to Reeves. Along with her husband, Nefertiti, an Egyptian queen and one of the wives of Tutankhamun's father Akhenaten, played a key political and religious role in the 14th century BC.


Sarcophagus of 'high priest of God Amun' unearthed in Luxor

© Antiquities Ministry Facebook page
Sarcophagus of Ankh-f-n-Khonsu.
The sarcophagus of Ankh-f-n-khonsu, a high priest of ancient Egyptian god Amun Ra, has been unearthed in the west bank of Luxor, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al Damaty announced Thursday.

The sarcophagus, which dates back to the 22nd Dynasty (943B.C-716B.C.,) was found in the tomb of Amenhotep-Huy, who served as Egypt's viceroy and vizier during the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III (1391 B.C. - 1353 B.C.)

"The sarcophagus is made of wood and covered with a layer of plaster. It represents the deceased wearing a wig and crown with flowers and colorful ribbons along with ceremonial beard and a necklace adorning his chest," Sultan Eid, Director of Upper Egypt Antiquities Department said in a statement Thursday.

The sarcophagus also contains a number of hieroglyphic inscriptions with scenes of the deceased making offerings to several ancient Egyptian deities, he added.