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Cow

Food remains in ancient cooking pots suggest farming caught on slowly

cooking pot farming
© Anders Fischer
A cooking pot and wooden spoon recovered from the Åmose bog in Zealand, Denmark. Charred food residues found in such pots show they once contained fish.
Residues in 6,000-year-old cooking pots point to a gradual transition to agriculture, contrary to received wisdom

Our ancestors' move from hunter-gathering to farming happened gradually rather than abruptly, food residues found in 6,000-year-old cooking pots suggests.

Evidence from pots found around the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe shows farmers at the beginning of the Neolithic period continued to cook the same types of food foraged by their immediate hunter-gatherer ancestors. The finding challenges the traditional view that farming quickly and completely replaced the more ancient lifestyle.

Archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Bradford studied 133 pots from farming communities in 15 different sites in Denmark and Germany. The team analysed the chemical structures of fats, oils and waxes that had been released from cooking and had soaked into the ceramic. The researchers also studied crusts of burnt food that had been preserved on the inside of the vessels.
Magnify

Archaeopteryx regains its perch on the bird family tree

Archaeopteryx bird fossil
© Sally A. Morgan/Corbis
The new analysis, using a more sophisticated statistical method, makes Archaeopteryx a bird not a dinosaur.
A new study claims to re-establish the status of Archaeopteryx as the earliest bird - and not just another bird-like dinosaur

For 150 years the creature occupied top spot on the avian evolutionary tree until this summer when the discovery of a close relative suggested it was a mere bird-like dinosaur. Now it looks to have regained its previous perch thanks to a more sophisticated anatomical analysis.

"This shows that when you look at the data with a higher degree of analytical rigour it supports the traditional view that Archaeopteryx is a bird," said Dr Paul Barrett, a dinosaur researcher at London's Natural History Museum.

The first complete specimen of Archaeopteryx was discovered in Germany in 1861, two years after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

It lived around 150 million years ago, had sharp teeth, three fingers with claws, a long bony tail, feathers, broad wings, could grow to about 0.5 metres in length and could fly.
Info

Mysterious 'Copiale Cipher' Cracked

Copiale Cipher
© University of Southern California and Uppsala University
These are pages from the “Copiale Cipher,” a mysterious cryptogram, bound in gold and green brocade paper, that was finally cracked by an international team of cryptographers.

The manuscript seems straight out of fiction: a strange handwritten message in abstract symbols and Roman letters meticulously covering 105 yellowing pages, hidden in the depths of an academic archive.

Now, more than three centuries after it was devised, the 75,000-character "Copiale Cipher" has finally been broken.

The mysterious cryptogram, bound in gold and green brocade paper, reveals the rituals and political leanings of a 18th-century secret society in Germany. The rituals detailed in the document indicate the secret society had a fascination with eye surgery and ophthalmology, though it seems members of the secret society were not themselves eye doctors.

"This opens up a window for people who study the history of ideas and the history of secret societies," said computer scientist Kevin Knight of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, part of the international team that finally cracked the Copiale Cipher. "Historians believe that secret societies have had a role in revolutions, but all that is yet to be worked out, and a big part of the reason is because so many documents are enciphered."

To break the Copiale Cipher, Knight and colleagues Beáta Megyesi and Christiane Schaefer of Uppsala University in Sweden tracked down the original manuscript, which was found in the East Berlin Academy after the Cold War and is now in a private collection. They then transcribed a machine-readable version of the text, using a computer program created by Knight to help quantify the co-occurrences of certain symbols and other patterns.
Sherlock

Archaeologists protest removal of Muslim graves

Bethlehem -
© MaanImages/Stringer
A general view of the Mamilla graveyard in Jerusalem on 9 May 2006 upon
which the Simon Wiesenthal Center is constructing the Museum of Tolerance.
The "surreptitious and unscientific" removal of hundreds of bodies from ancient Muslim graves in Jerusalem violates international and Israeli law, a group of archaeologists warned Friday.

Some 84 archaeologists and and professors of archaeology from universities and research centers around the world signed a letter appealing to Jerusalem's mayor, the Israeli Antiquities Authority and the Simon Wiesenthal Center to abandon plans to build a Museum of Tolerance on the historic Mamilla cemetery.

The cemetery is the burial ground of thousands of Muslim leaders, Sufi saints and Jerusalem families dating back to at least the 12th century. It is said to have been in use as early as the seventh century, when the companions of the Prophet Muhammad were reputedly buried.
Alarm Clock

The Capture, Trial and Conviction of Saddam Hussein - Another US Intelligence Farce

© Steve Bell - Guardian
At the time, much was made of the capture of Saddam Hussein. Touted by the US government-controlled American mainstream press as a fatal blow to the insurgency that would lead to rejoicing in the streets of Baghdad, the reality, as we have seen, has turned out to be rather different. Iraqis, logically enough, seem to be less concerned about Saddam's capture and trial than about the fact that a brutal US military force of occupation has essentially taken possession of their country and its resources and has caused the deaths of 655,000 of their fellow citizens.

After his initial capture in December 2003, Saddam was paraded in front of the press at his first court appearance in July 2004 where he stood accused of up to 12 crimes, including the alleged gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. But fate (and in Iraq these days "fate" wears the red white and blue ) has decreed that "Saddam" will not suffer the ignominy of answering those particular charges because his first trial for the killing of 148 people in a Shiite town in 1982 was enough, it seems, to convict and sentence him to death. The sense of relief in the White House over the fact that the "gassing" allegation will not have to be dissected is surely palpable, given that, if Saddam gassed anyone, it was with the chemical weapons supplied to him by the US government.
Sherlock

Treasure hunters on the verge of finding Sir Francis Drake's watery grave after locating two of his ships off Panama coast

A team of international treasure hunters is close to finding the final resting place of British Naval hero Sir Francis Drake.

They have found two of his ships which were scuttled off the coast of Panama over 400 years ago following the adventurer's death.

The team believes Drake's lead-lined coffin could be near to the location of the two ships Elizabeth and Delight and have begun a search for the historical artefact.

© Unknown
Major breakthrough: The treasure-hunting team led by American explorer Pat Croce, pictured in action, believe they have found two of Sir Francis Drake's ships which were scuttled off the coast of Panama over 400 years ago - taking them closer to the site of the British naval hero's final resting place
The ships were scuttled by Drake's crews in 1596 after the English captain was buried at sea following his death at the age of 55 from dysentery.

Drake is considered one of Britain's greatest naval heroes having led the English fleet in victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 as they prepared for an invasion of Britain.
Sun

US: Virginia - Archaeologist Claims 12,000-Year-Old Solstice Site in Clarke County

Archaeologist Hranick

Archaeologist Jack Hranicky believes that a 12,000-year-old solstice site has been discovered in Clarke County, Virginia
Bear's Den Rock has captured the attention of travelers in the northern Shenandoah Valley since colonial times and for thousands of years before by the indigenous people who hunted and fished in the region. Now, a local archaeologist believes that the prominent outcrop just south of Virginia's Route 7 in Clarke County is a part of a larger 12,000 year old celestial calendar used by Native Americans to mark the changing of the seasons.

"Although archaeological sites have been discovered across the United States, there's nothing like this above ground or this old in North America," says Dr. Jack Hranicky about the site located just off Ebenezer Road. Hranicky, also known as "Dr. Jack" to friends and associates, is a Virginia Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA) credited with authoring 32 books on North America's prehistory and discoverer of over a half-a-dozen other Native American solstice sites.

"This preserved site has numerous properties that prove its use 12,000 years ago by Paleo-Indians and classifies it as a major ceremonial and calendar site on the Shenandoah River," said Dr. Jack "I classify it as an 'Horizon Observation Station' which produced a Paleo-calendar for early Americans."
Bacon

Mastodons were hunted in North America 800 years earlier than thought

Mastodon hunting
© University of Copenhagen/PA
A mastodon rib with an embedded bone spear tip: (a) Closeup view; (b) reconstruction showing the bone point with the broken tip (the thin layer represents the exterior of the rib); (c) CT scan; (d) the entire rib fragment.

Humans were hunting large mammals in North America about 800 years earlier than previously thought, new analysis of a controversial mastodon specimen - with what appears to be a spear tip in its rib - seems to confirm.

The find suggests humans were hunting mastodons using tools made from bone about a thousand years before the start of the "Clovis culture", reputedly the first human culture in North America. Other evidence points to mammoth hunting using stone tools around this time, but the notion of pre-Clovis hunting has remained highly controversial.

The mastodon was found in 1977 by a farmer called Emanuel Manis. He contacted archaeologist Carl Gustafson, who excavated the skeleton and noticed a pointed object embedded in its rib. Gustafson took a fuzzy x-ray and interpreted the object as a projectile point made of bone or antler.

By dating organic matter around the fossil, he estimated that it was about 14,000 years old. Other archaeologists challenged Gustafson's dates and his interpretation of the fragment as a man-made point.
Sherlock

Scotland: Ardnamurchan Viking boat burial discovery 'a first'

The UK mainland's first fully intact Viking boat burial site has been uncovered in the west Highlands, archaeologists have said.

The site, at Ardnamurchan, is thought to be more than 1,000 years old.

Artefacts buried alongside the Viking in his boat suggest he was a high-ranking warrior.

© Getty Images
Archaeologist Dr Hannah Cobb said the "artefacts and preservation make this one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Britain".

Dr Cobb, from the University of Manchester, a co-director of the project, said: "This is a very exciting find."
House

Piles of Ancient Rubbish Could Prove Incredible Temple That's 6,500 Years Older Than Stonehenge was Actually a House

It has long been considered the world's oldest temple and even thought by some to be the site of the Garden of Eden.

But a scientist has claimed that the Gobekli Tepe stones in Turkey, built in 9,000 BC and 6,500 years older than Stonehenge, could instead be a giant home 'built for men not gods'.

Ted Banning, a professor at the University of Toronto, has branded it 'one of the world's biggest garbage dumps,' with piles of animal bones, tools and charcoal found there proving that it was an ancient home rather than a religious site.

Gobekli Tepe_1
© Alamy
Ancient: Much of the 11,000 year-old site is still yet to be explored and it has even been considered the place of the Garden of Eden.
When excavation started at Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey in 1994, archaeologists were sure it was a temple and largely uninhabited.

Remarkably it was deliberately buried under thousands of tonnes of soil and only a small amount of the 20-acre area has been excavated since its discovery.

The incredible site was put up long before humans mastered language or skills like pottery or metal work, making it one of the true wonders of the world pre-dating any previously discovered religious site by 1,000 years.
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