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Mexican plants could break code on Voynich manuscript

Voynich Manuscript
© General Collection, Beinecke RareBook and Manuscript Library, Yale University
Name that plant.
A mysterious manuscript that appears to be written in gibberish may actually be in an extinct dialect of the Mexican language Nahuatl. Illustrations of plants in the manuscript have been linked to plants native to Central America for the first time, suggesting a new origin for the text. But some still say it could be a hoax.

The Voynich manuscript has puzzled researchers since book dealer Wilfrid Voynich found it in an Italian monastery in 1912.

Among hundreds of pages of so-far undecipherable text, it includes illustrations of naked nymphs, astrological diagrams and drawings of plants that no one has been able to identify.

An academic war has raged for years between those who think the manuscript contains a real language that could eventually be decoded, and those who think it was a clever forgery designed to dupe book collectors.

"It's a battle with two sides," says Alain Touwaide, a historian of botany at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.
Footprints

Prehistoric village found in downtown Miami

© CW GRIFFEN / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
Archaeologists who for months have been uncovering mounting evidence of an ancient and extensive Native American village in the middle of downtown Miami have concluded it's likely one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the United States.

The archaeologists, under the direction of veteran South Florida archaeologist Bob Carr, have so far painstakingly dug up eight large circles comprised of uniformly carved holes in the native limestone that they believe to be foundation holes for Tequesta Indian dwellings dating as far back as 2,000 years.
Magnify

Elongated skulls found in La Libertad, Peru (photos)

© Hernán Flores
Elongated skulls of Pataz, Peru.
Though some doubted the accuracy of the two skulls found by farmers in Pataz, La Libertad, La Industria presents unpublished images from this discovery that sheds new light about the lifestyle of ancient civilizations in Peru. The elongated skulls are over 30 cm long and belong to a man and a woman, according to director of History, Archaeology and Tourism of the province of Pataz, Sergio Montero Cruzado.

Comment: See also:

DNA analysis of Paracas elongated skull finally complete - with incredible results
Elongated human skulls of Peru: Possible evidence of a lost human species?

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DNA analysis of Paracas elongated skull finally complete - with incredible results


"It had mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans."
Paracas is a desert peninsula located within the Pisco Province in the Ica Region, on the south coast of Peru. It is here were Peruvian archaeologist, Julio Tello, made an amazing discovery in 1928 - a massive and elaborate graveyard containing tombs filled with the remains of individuals with the largest elongated skulls found anywhere in the world. These have come to be known as the 'Paracas skulls'. In total, Tello found more than 300 of these elongated skulls, which are believed to date back around 3,000 years. A DNA analysis has now been conducted on one of the skulls and expert Brien Foerster has released preliminary information regarding these enigmatic skulls.

It is well-known that most cases of skull elongation are the result of cranial deformation, head flattening, or head binding, in which the skull is intentionally deformed by applying force over a long period of time. It is usually achieved by binding the head between two pieces of wood, or binding in cloth. However, while cranial deformation changes the shape of the skull, it does not alter its volume, weight, or other features that are characteristic of a regular human skull.

The Paracas skulls, however, are different. The cranial volume is up to 25 percent larger and 60 percent heavier than conventional human skulls, meaning they could not have been intentionally deformed through head binding/flattening. They also contain only one parietal plate, rather than two. The fact that the skulls' features are not the result of cranial deformation means that the cause of the elongation is a mystery, and has been for decades.
Hardhat

Pagan temple remains unearthed under Milan Cathedral


Milan Cathedral from the Square.
The remains of a pagan temple believed to have been devoted to the goddess Minerva have been found under the Milan Cathedral.

The announcement was made Wednesday during the presentation of other archaeological finds, the remains of the ancient Mediolanum Forum discovered recently under the basement of the building housing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

Archaeological excavations to unearth the remains of the large city that, beginning in 292 A.D., was the capital of the Western Roman Empire for over a century continue despite funding difficulties. So far, part of the floor made out of what is known as 'Verona stone' has been found. The base of a section of an arcade can also be seen. The entire forum occupied an estimated surface area of 166 by 55 square meters. While waiting to be able to extend the excavations, the zone has been fitted with a special entrance on the side of the building, walkways, and illustrative signs to make visits by the public possible. The works were conducted with funding from the Cariplo foundation and the Lombardy regional government and are part of the project for a 'Milan Archaeology' route being readied for the 2015 Milano Expo, said regional culture councillor Cristina Cappellini.
Book

Do camels prove that the Bible is inaccurate? Archaeologists reveal mammals were domesticated in 900BC - centuries after Biblical characters rode them


Archaeologists have found that camels were not domesticated in Israel until centuries after famous figures such as Abraham were said to have ridden them. An engraving from The Dore Bible showing Abraham journeying into the Land of Canaan, by Gustave Dore, is pictured
  • Archaeologists from the University of Tel Aviv, Israel, found that camels were not domesticated in Israel until the 9th century BC
  • They claim this shows that Biblical text was compiled long after the events described in it and challenges the Bible as a historical document
  • Researchers analysed the oldest known domesticated camel bones, found in the Aravah Valley in the southern Levant, to inform their research
Camels are mentioned in Biblical stories involving Abraham, Joseph and Jacob as well as other famous characters.

But archaeologists have found that the mammals were not domesticated in Israel until centuries after famous figures were said to have ridden them.


They claim this shows that text in the Bible was compiled long after the events described in it and challenges the holy book as a historical document.
Question

Is this underwater isthmus - Adam's Bridge - connecting India and Sri Lanka man-made? Examining the legend of Rama Setu

Is the legend of Rama Setu real? Is the shallow isthmus that appears to connect Sri Lanka and India, when viewed from space, actually the remnants of an ancient man-made structure? If so, how old is 'Adam's Bridge'?

The following video takes a look at some evidence:


Comment: Astronomical positions are unreliable because of cyclic catastrophes - the passage of a comet close-by, for example, could alter the planet's tilt.

Then inserting them into historical timelines makes these dates even more unreliable because history is repeatedly rewritten post-cataclysm so that survivors can re-establish power.

Note at 2'35, the presenter says "no archaeological evidence has been uncovered on land thus far because this 'Rama civilization' existed so long ago"... this hardly constitutes scientific evidence for its historical existence!

At 5', the narrator speculates that "IF we shovel under the sand, we are sure to see this land bridge they built" 7.5k years ago! This is in no way a scientific examination of the known facts, nevertheless we publish this video because 'Rama's bridge' is a unique feature - as can be seen from the satellite images - and because of the possibility that it was man-made.

Without taking into account cyclic catastrophism, any examination of ancient history is always going to be sorely lacking. Nevertheless, there could be some historical basis to this myth. What if, for example, India and Sri Lanka were originally joined by a natural isthmus, one that was supplemented by man-made structures, and once the land-bridge was destroyed during a period of upheaval, it then passed into folk-legend as 'Rama's bridge'? As recently as the 15th century, it was possible to walk across until, it is said, the water-level of the channel was deepened during a cyclone in AD 1480.

It should also be pointed out that the Government of India, in an affidavit in the Supreme Court of India, said that "there is no historical proof of the bridge being built by 'Rama' or any other mythological or historical figures", and that this legend of the structure being man-made "has become an object of worship only recently."

Map

Family of rabbits uncover 8,000-year-old archaeological 'gold mine' near Land's End, UK


Bunnies found about 20 arrowheads, scrapers and flint tools dating back 8,000 years to the Mesolithic and Neolithic period.
A family of rabbits are believed to be responsible for unearthing an 8,000-year-old archaeological 'gold mine' near Land's End.

A haul of Stone Age arrow heads and flint tools found in a freshly dug network of rabbit warrens less than 200 yards from the Cornish landmark has led archaeologists to plan a full excavation of the site.

Although a formal dig of the 150-acre area is yet to begin, initial analysis suggests there could be a large Neolithic cemetery, Bronze Age burial mounds and an Iron Age hill fort buried there.

Land's End has long been considered an area of historical interest as the spectacular views have led to a disproportionately large number of important people being buried there over several thousand years.

Although there are a number of important archeological sites in the local area, the latest Land's End dig will almost certainly be the first prompted by a family of rabbits.

The excavation of the site will be managed by a team from Wirral-based archaeologists Big Heritage.

Team leader Dean Paton, 30, told the Mirror: 'It seems important people have been buried here for thousands of years - probably because of the stunning views. [But] it's a million-to-one chance rabbits should make such an astounding find.'
Pyramid

4,600-year-old step pyramid uncovered in Egypt

Step Pyramid
© Tell Edfu Project at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute
Archaeologists working near the ancient settlement of Edfu in southern Egypt have uncovered a step pyramid that dates back about 4,600 years.
Toronto - Archaeologists working near the ancient settlement of Edfu, in southern Egypt, have uncovered a step pyramid that dates back about 4,600 years, predating the Great Pyramid of Giza by at least a few decades.

The step pyramid, which once stood as high as 43 feet (13 meters), is one of seven so-called "provincial" pyramids built by either the pharaoh Huni (reign ca. 2635-2610 B.C.) or Snefru (reign ca. 2610-2590 B.C.). Over time, the step pyramid's stone blocks were pillaged, and the monument was exposed to weathering, so today, it's only about 16 feet (5 m) tall.

Scattered throughout central and southern Egypt, the provincial pyramids are located near major settlements, have no internal chambers and were not intended for burial. Six of the seven pyramids have almost identical dimensions, including the newly uncovered one at Edfu, which is about 60 x 61 feet (18.4 x 18.6 m).

The purpose of these seven pyramids is a mystery. They may have been used as symbolic monuments dedicated to the royal cult that affirmed the power of the king in the southern provinces.

"The similarities from one pyramid to the other are really amazing, and there is definitely a common plan," said Gregory Marouard, a research associate at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute who led the work at the Edfu pyramid. On the east side of the newly uncovered pyramid, his team found the remains of an installation where food offerings appear to have been made - a discovery that is important for understanding this kind of pyramid since it provides clues as to what they were used for.

The team also found hieroglyphic graffiti incised on the outer faces of the pyramid. The inscriptions are located beside the remains of babies and children who were buried at the foot of the pyramid. The researchers think the inscriptions and burials date to long after the pyramid was built and that the structure was not originally intended as a burial place.

Initial results of the excavation were presented at a symposium held in Toronto recently by the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities.
Pyramid

Ruins of bustling port unearthed at Egypt's Giza pyramids

© AERA
Archaeologists working at the Giza Pyramids have made several new discoveries that shed light on life at the time the pyramids were built. Among the discoveries is a basin that may have been part of a thriving harbor and a "silo building complex," where researchers have found numerous bones from the forelimbs of cattle, offerings in ancient Egypt, suggesting royal cult priests perhaps venerating the pharaoh Khafre occupied the complex.
The remains of a bustling port and barracks for sailors or military troops have been discovered near the Giza Pyramids. They were in use while the pyramids were being built about 4,500 years ago.

The archaeologists have been excavating a city near the Giza Pyramids that dates mainly to the reign of the pharaoh Menkaure, who built the last pyramid at Giza. Also near the pyramids they have been excavating a town, located close to a monument dedicated to Queen Khentkawes, possibly a daughter of Menkaure. The barracks are located at the city, while a newly discovered basin, that may be part of a harbor, is located by the Khentkawes town.

Several discoveries at the city and Khentkawes town suggest Giza was a thriving port, said archaeologist Mark Lehner, the director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates. For instance, Lehner's team discovered a basin beside the Khentkawes town just 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) from the nearest Nile River channel.

This basin may be "an extension of a harbor or waterfront," Lehner said at a recent symposium held here by the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities. Lehner said his team also found at Giza charcoal remains of cedar, juniper, pine and oak, all trees that grew in a part of the eastern Mediterranean called the Levant, along with more than 50 examples of combed ware jars, a style of pottery from that region. Additionally, large amounts of granite from Aswan, located on ancient Egypt's southern border, have long been known to be at Giza, and these could have been brought down the Nile River to Giza's port.
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