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Serpent Mound is older than we thought

Serpent Mound
© Associated Press
Estimates about the age of Serpent Mound are changing.
Serpent Mound in rural Adams County, Ohio, is one of the premier Native American earthworks in the hemisphere. Its pristine flowing form was enhanced by major reconstruction in the 1880s. That reconstruction now appears to have been the second time in its long life that Serpent Mound has shed some of its skin.

Estimates of the age of the earthwork are now radically revised as the result of a new radiocarbon analysis, suggesting that the mound is about 1,400 years older than conventionally thought. The new date of construction is estimated at approximately 321 BCE, one year after the death of Aristotle in Greece.

Signs and other interpretive material have been made obsolete virtually overnight, along with ideas about the indigenous culture responsible for the astounding artwork. A paper by an eight-member team led by archaeologist William Romain has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science with a free-access summary available on Romain's website.
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Geneticist traces origins of Native Americans to Ancient Greece, Middle East

© Wikimedia Commons, background image of DNA via Thinkstock)
A Cherokee boy and girl stand in costume on a North Carolina reservation in 1939.
The idea that Native Americans are descended from ancient Jews, Egyptians, or Greeks has been a controversial one for hundreds of years. James Adair, an 18th century settler who traded with Native Americans for 40 years, wrote that their language, customs, and social structures were similar to those of the Israelites.

He wrote in his book "The History of the American Indians": "It is a very difficult thing to divest ourselves, not to say, other persons, of prejudices and favourite opinions, and I expect to be censured by some for opposing commonly received sentiments, or for meddling with a dispute agitated among the learned ever since the first discovery of America."

In more recent years, similar observations by Dr. Donald Panther-Yates have even met with what Yates described as "hate mail" from indigenous studies professors.

It is commonly held that Native Americans descended from Mongolians. In 2013, a study published in the journal Nature acknowledged that some ancient European ancestry is possible. The DNA from a 24,000-year-old corpse in Siberia was analyzed. It showed no resemblance to Asian populations, only to European, yet it showed a clear connection to Native Americans. But the mainstream scientific community is far from embracing the theory that Native Americans descended from ancient Middle-Eastern or Greek peoples as Yates and some others have proposed.
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The mysterious jars of the Xieng Khouang plain of Laos

The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In "Beyond Science" Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.
© Shutterstock
Megalithic jars on the Xieng Khouang plain of Laos.
The Plain of Jars in the Xieng Khouang plain of Laos is one of the most enigmatic sights on Earth. The unusual site of thousands of megalithic stone jars scattered across nearly one hundred sites deep in the mountains of northern Laos has fascinated archaeologists and scientists ever since their discovery in the 1930s.

The unusual site known as the Plain of Jars is dated to the Iron Age (500 BC to 500 AD) and is made up of at least 3,000 giant stone jars up to 3 metres tall and weighing several tonnes. Most are made of sandstone but there are others made of much harder granite and limestone.

Because the jars have lip rims, it is presumed that all of them were originally covered with lids and although a few stone lids have been recorded it is more likely that the main material used was wood or ratan.
Eye 1

Society bloomed with gentler personalities and more feminine faces

© Robert Cieri, University of Utah
A composite image shows the facial differences between an ancient modern human with heavy brows and a large upper face and the more recent modern human who has rounder features and a much less prominent brow. The prominence of these features can be directly traced to the influence of the hormone testosterone.
Technology boom 50,000 years ago correlated with apparent reduction in testosterone.

Modern humans appear in the fossil record about 200,000 years ago, but it was only about 50,000 years ago that making art and advanced tools became widespread.

A new study appearing Aug. 1 in the journal Current Anthropology finds that human skulls changed in ways that indicate a lowering of testosterone levels at around the same time that culture was blossoming.

"The modern human behaviors of technological innovation, making art and rapid cultural exchange probably came at the same time that we developed a more cooperative temperament," said lead author Robert Cieri, a biology graduate student at the University of Utah who began this work as a senior at Duke University.

The study, which is based on measurements of more than 1,400 ancient and modern skulls, makes the argument that human society advanced when people started being nicer to each other, which entails having a little less testosterone in action.

Heavy brows were out, rounder heads were in, and those changes can be traced directly to testosterone levels acting on the skeleton, according to Duke anthropologist Steven Churchill, who supervised Cieri's work on a senior honors thesis that grew to become this 24-page journal article three years later.

What they can't tell from the bones is whether these humans had less testosterone in circulation, or fewer receptors for the hormone.

The research team also included Duke animal cognition researchers Brian Hare and Jingzhi Tan, who say this argument is in line with what has been established in non-human species.
Vader

Revealed: How King George V demanded Britain enter the First World War

Record of previously unknown meeting between George V and his Foreign Secretary reveals that the King told him to "find a reason" to go to war with Germany

George V, Edward Grey
© Alamy/Jay Williams
The letter documents a previously unrecorded meeting between George V (left) and Sir Edward Grey (right)
It is a letter that throws fresh light on one of the darkest periods in Britain's history.

A note which has remained in private hands for a century details a previously undocumented meeting between George V and his Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, on the eve of the First World War.

The King, mindful of his position as a constitutional monarch, made no public declarations about the situation in Europe in the lead-up to the conflict.

But in the newly-disclosed meeting, the King informed Sir Edward it was "absolutely essential" Britain go to war in order to prevent Germany from achieving "complete domination of this country".

When Sir Edward said the Cabinet had yet to find a justifiable reason to enter the conflict, the King replied: "You have got to find a reason, Grey."

Historians have no record of the meeting which took place at Buckingham Palace on August 2 1914, two days before Britain went to war.

It was revealed in a letter written by Sir Cecil Graves, Sir Edward's nephew, who met with the King a month after his uncle's death in 1933.
MIB

The lies that started the First World War

The personality and motives of the young assassin, Gavrilo Princip, who fired the fatal shots at Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, were twisted by Austrian propaganda.
Gavrilo Princip
© Alamy
Gavrilo Princip is paraded by his Austrian captors after assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo
This day 100 years ago dawned memorably bright over Sarajevo. After days of stormy rain, Sunday June 28,1914 began cloudless as Austria-Hungary, the imperial power that held dominion over the small Balkan province of Bosnia, prepared for a show of ostentatious pageantry in its capital.

Loyal citizens came out in their thousands, lining the route into the city centre that was to be used for a rare official visit by a top member of the Habsburg royal house, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, second only in imperial protocol to the venerable, mutton-chopped emperor himself, Franz Joseph. Witnesses remember the morning sun being fierce as the crowds gathered, eight deep in places, many of them waving the yellow imperial standard of Austria-Hungary with its double-headed black eagle, some shouting ''Long Live the Archduke'' as the Gräf & Stift limousine drove sedately by. An imperial 21-gun salute, from the fortress high in the hills that ring Sarajevo, sent out puffs of smoke, vivid white against the blue summer sky.

But the crowd was seeded with six would-be assassins united in their loathing of Austria-Hungary. By the time the sun set, what happened in Sarajevo would plunge the world into the darkness of global war for the first time.

The details were well recorded: how the first attacker lost his nerve as the cortege passed, how the next attacker threw a grenade that struck the limousine but did not harm the Archduke, how the royal party nevertheless continued with the visit, how three would-be assassins melted away into the crowd and how one, a 19-year-old peasant, stood his ground.
Newspaper

First World War survivor tells how it happened, hour by hour

Britain went to war on August 4, 1914. In the first part of a four-day series, we document the dramatic events leading up to the declaration of war as they happened, hour-by-hour
© Daily Telegraph
Germany declares war on Russia: the Kaiser addresses the crowd from the balcony of the Imperial Palace, Berlin, pictured in the following morning's Daily Telegraph
Books

Solzhenitsyn and the struggle for Russia's soul

solzhenitsyn
There are many people who write history. There are very few who make history through their writings. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died this week at the age of 89, was one of them. In many ways, Solzhenitsyn laid the intellectual foundations for the fall of Soviet communism. That is well known. But Solzhenitsyn also laid the intellectual foundation for the Russia that is now emerging. That is less well known, and in some ways more important.

Solzhenitsyn's role in the Soviet Union was simple. His writings, and in particular his book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, laid bare the nature of the Soviet regime. The book described a day in the life of a prisoner in a Soviet concentration camp, where the guilty and innocent alike were sent to have their lives squeezed out of them in endless and hopeless labor. It was a topic Solzhenitsyn knew well, having been a prisoner in such a camp following service in World War II.
Boat

Ship found under collapsed World Trade Center dates back to 1773

WTC ship
© AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
In this July 27, 2010, file photo, a pair of archeologists begin dismantling the remains of an 18th century ship at the World Trade Center construction site in New York. Columbia University scientists say this week they have determined wood used in the ship's frame came from a Philadelphia-area forest in 1773, before the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War.
It's a ship tied to two critical points in American history: Sept. 11, 2001, and the eve of the Revolutionary War.

Researchers said this week that a vessel unearthed four years ago at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan was made from wood cut around the year 1773 - two years before the start of the war and three years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, writing in the July issue of the journal Tree Ring Research, said the white oak in the ship's frame came from a Philadelphia-area forest and matched the material used to build the city's Independence Hall.

They said they tentatively identified it as a Dutch-designed, Philadelphia-built sloop made to carry passengers and cargo over shallow, rocky water.

They said it sailed for 20 to 30 years before being weighed down and sunk to the bottom of the Hudson River as landfill to extend lower Manhattan.
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Bones of Iron Age warriors in Danish bog were mutilated

Iron Age Shull
© Ejvind Hertz, Skanderborg Museum
A skull of an Iron Age warrior discovered in a bog in Denmark shows signs of battle.
The bones of dozens of Iron Age warriors found in Denmark were collected and ritually mutilated after spending months on the battlefield, archaeologists say.

At least six months after the soldiers died, their bones were collected, scraped of remaining flesh, sorted and dumped in a lake. Some were handled in a truly bizarre manner; for instance, four pelvises were found strung on a stick.

"We think it's a kind of ritual closure of the war," said Mads Kähler Holst, project manager at the dig and head of the department of archaeology at the Moesgård Museum in Denmark. The victors seem to have carried out their gruesome work on a spit of land extending into the lake where the bones were dumped, the researchers said. [See Photos of the Mutilated Iron Age Skeletons]
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