Secret History
Map


Fireball 2

Talisman made from a 9,000 year-old Meteorite found inside prehistoric shaman's hut in Poland


A meteorite fragment from 9,000 years ago has been found by archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) in Szczecin, Poland. It's believed humans at the time were aware that it was from out of this world and worshipped it as a magical object
Archaeologists have found a meteorite fragment in a shaman's hut dating back 9,000 years that seems to have been worshipped as a magical object. The talisman was found alongside other objects that were considered sacred at the time including an amulet and a stick made of antler. It's thought it gained this status because the prehistoric stone age humans saw it fall from space, suggesting they may have known it came from another world.

Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Szczecin, in north west Poland, found the meteorite fragment inside the caveman house by lake Swidwe in Western Pomerania during excavations.The object was a natural pyrite meteorite fragment, pyrite being an iron sulfide mineral often referred to as fool's gold owing to its yellowish appearance.

This meteorite, which measured eight by 5.3 by 3.5 centimetres (3.1 x 2.1 x 1.4 inches) has a cylindrical shape and was porous, with a corrugated surface on its side.
Cow Skull

Dinosaurs not the primitive ancestors of birds?

Scansoriopteryx
© Stephen A. Czerkas
A skeletal reconstruction of Scansoriopteryx with outlines to indicate the extent of the feathers
Re-examination of birdlike fossil challenges common belief that birds evolved from ground-dwelling dinosaurs.

The re-examination of a sparrow-sized fossil from China challenges the commonly held belief that birds evolved from ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs that gained the ability to fly. The birdlike fossil is actually not a dinosaur, as previously thought, but much rather the remains of a tiny tree-climbing animal that could glide, say American researchers Stephen Czerkas of the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah, and Alan Feduccia of the University of North Carolina. The study appears in Springer's Journal of Ornithology.

The fossil of the Scansoriopteryx (which means "climbing wing") was found in Inner Mongolia, and is part of an ongoing cooperative study with the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. It was previously classified as a coelurosaurian theropod dinosaur, from which many experts believe flying dinosaurs and later birds evolved. The research duo used advanced 3D microscopy, high resolution photography and low angle lighting to reveal structures not clearly visible before. These techniques made it possible to interpret the natural contours of the bones. Many ambiguous aspects of the fossil's pelvis, forelimbs, hind limbs, and tail were confirmed, while it was discovered that it had elongated tendons along its tail vertebrae similar to Velociraptor.

Comment: Journal Reference: Stephen A. Czerkas, Alan Feduccia. Jurassic archosaur is a non-dinosaurian bird. Journal of Ornithology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s10336-014-1098-9

Info

Were ancient child skulls gifts to the lake gods?

Illustration of Bronze-Age lake dwellers
© Benjamin Jennings et al, Antiquity 2014
An illustration of Bronze-Age lake dwellers in Switzerland and Germany, who may have buried children's skulls at the perimeter of their settlements as gifts to lake gods to ward off flooding.
Children's skulls found at the edges of Bronze Age settlements may have been a gruesome gift for the local lake gods.

The children's skulls were discovered encircling the perimeter of ancient villages around lakes in Switzerland and Germany. Some had suffered ax blows and other head traumas.

Though the children probably weren't human sacrifices killed to appease the gods, they may have been offered after death as gifts to ward off flooding, said study co-author Benjamin Jennings, an archaeologist at Basel University in Switzerland.
War Whore

The birth of America's religious 'warvangelicals'

religious right
Laurence Vance has coined the word "warvangelical" to describe so-called evangelical Christians who are obsessed with supporting all of the state's wars and all of the death, destruction, and mayhem that they entail. They ignore the ancient just war tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas, among others, and simply support all war and all military aggression - as long as the U.S. government is the aggressor.

These are the people who booed at Ron Paul when he reminded them at one of their conventions that Jesus is known as "the Prince of Peace." These are the people who became quite hysterical (and hateful) when Ron Paul quoted the Biblical admonition, "live by the sword, die by the sword" in response to a question about a U.S. Army sniper who had written a book boasting of murdering hundreds of Iraqis after he was murdered after returning to civilian life.
Info

Mysterious earthen rings predate Amazon rainforest

Ring Ditch
© Heiko Prumers
Shown here, a ring ditch next to Laguna Granja in the Amazon of northeastern Bolivia.
A series of square, straight and ringlike ditches scattered throughout the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon were there before the rainforest existed, a new study finds.

These human-made structures remain a mystery: They may have been used for defense, drainage, or perhaps ceremonial or religious reasons. But the new research addresses another burning question: whether and how much prehistoric people altered the landscape in the Amazon before the arrival of Europeans.

"People have been affecting the global climate system through land use for not just the past 200 to 300 years, but for thousands of years," said study author John Francis Carson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. [See Images of the Ancient Amazonian Earthworks]
Info

Remains of long-lost temple discovered in Iraq

Ancient Iraqi Temple
© Dlshad Marf Zamua
Life-size human statues and the remains of an ancient temple dating back some 2,500 years have been discovered in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The region's hilly environment, shown here.
Life-size human statues and column bases from a long-lost temple dedicated to a supreme god have been discovered in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

The discoveries date back over 2,500 years to the Iron Age, a time period when several groups - such as the Urartians, Assyrians and Scythians - vied for supremacy over what is now northern Iraq.

"I didn't do excavation, just archaeological soundings - the villagers uncovered these materials accidentally," said Dlshad Marf Zamua, a doctoral student at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who began the fieldwork in 2005. The column bases were found in a single village while the other finds, including a bronze statuette of a wild goat, were found in a broad area south of where the borders of Iraq, Iran and Turkey intersect. [See Photos of the Life-Size Statues & Other Discoveries in Iraq]

For part of the Iron Age, this area was under control of the city of Musasir, also called Ardini, Marf Zamua said. Ancient inscriptions have referred to Musasir as a "holy city founded in bedrock" and "the city of the raven."
Info

Roman coin hoard found in UK cave

Ancient Coins
© Richard Davenport/National Trust
Experts say the find is highly unusual as it is the first time coins from these two separate civilisations have been buried together.
A precious hoard of Roman and Late Iron Age coins has been discovered in a cave where it has lain undisturbed for more than 2,000 years.

The treasure trove was initially unearthed by a member of the public, who stumbled across four coins in the cave in Dovedale, Derbyshire.

The discovery prompted a full-scale excavation of the site.

Experts say it is the first time coins from these two separate civilisations have been buried together.

'Wealth and power'

Archaeologists discovered 26 coins, including three Roman coins which pre-date the invasion of Britain in AD 43, and 20 other gold and silver pieces which are Late Iron Age and thought to belong to the Corieltavi tribe.

Although Roman coins have often been found in fields, this is understood to be the first time they have been unearthed in a cave.

The cache has been declared as "treasure".

National Trust archaeologist Rachael Hall said: "The coins would suggest a serious amount of wealth and power of the individual who owned them.
Sherlock

Pristine fossil found in Germany confirms Archaeopteryx as original bird

"Since its first discovery in the 1860s, Archaeopteryx has been the object of many debates in relation to bird evolution," said paleontologist Oliver Rauhut

In a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, researchers described the discovery of a near perfect fossil of Archaeopteryx, the "original bird."
Archaeopteryx original bird fossil
© R. Liebreich/Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology
An artist's reconstruction of Archaeopteryx.
Though the Archaeopteryx had previously been fingered by paleontologists as the first bird to fly, the inconsistent nature of the fossil record made it difficult for scientists to confirm that the ancient creature could indeed take to the air.

But the latest Archaeopteryx fossil, unearthed in 2011, was preserved in fine-grain limestone after succumbing to fate in an ancient lagoon in modern day Bavaria, a region of southern Germany -- thus revealing the bird's full plumage in remarkable detail. The details confirm a lightweight suit (including a strange pair of "feather trousers" on the legs) likely capable of lifting Archaeopteryx skyward, researchers say.

"Since its first discovery in the 1860s, Archaeopteryx has been the object of many debates in relation to bird evolution, especially flight and feather evolution," explained study co-author Oliver Rauhut, a paleontologist at the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology in Munich. "There were debates if it was ground-dwelling or arboreal, if it could fly or not."

Archaeopteryx lived 150 million years ago, and though its not the only ancient bird to sport plumage, it is one of the first that used their feathers to take to the air.

The new fossil further informs the evolution of ancient bird feathers.
Info

Oldest case of Down's syndrome from medieval France

Down's syndrome
© SPL
Key features of the skull indicate that the owner of this 1500-year old skeleton had Down's syndrome.
The oldest confirmed case of Down's syndrome has been found: the skeleton of a child who died 1500 years ago in early medieval France.

According to the archaeologists, the way the child was buried hints that Down's syndrome was not necessarily stigmatised in the Middle Ages.

Down's syndrome is a genetic disorder that delays a person's growth and causes intellectual disability. People with Down's syndrome have three copies of chromosome 21, rather than the usual two.

It was described in the 19th century, but has probably existed throughout human history. However there are few cases of Down's syndrome in the archaeological record.

The new example comes from a 5th- and 6th-century necropolis near a church in Chalon-sur-Saône in eastern France. Excavations there have uncovered the remains of 94 people, including the skeleton of a young child with a short and broad skull, a flattened skull base and thin cranial bones.

These features are common in people with Down's syndrome, says Maïté Rivollat at the University of Bordeaux in France, who has studied the skeleton with her colleagues.

"I think the paper makes a convincing case for a diagnosis of Down's syndrome," says John Starbuck at Indiana University in Indianapolis.

He has just analysed a 1500-year-old figurine from the Mexican Tolteca culture that he says depicts someone with Down's syndrome.
Info

Prehistoric circle dated to same summer as Seahenge neighbour

Holme II
© Andrew Parsons/PA
The timber circle Holme II on the coast of Norfolk near Seahenge.
A second prehistoric circle on a Norfolk beach has been dated to the same summer more than 4,000 years ago as its famous neighbour, Seahenge.

Archaeologists believe the two circles, which originally stood inland in boggy freshwater but are now being eroded gradually by the tides, were part of the same monumental complex connected with rites to honour the dead.

Unlike the giant boulders of monuments such as Stonehenge, the only evidence for most prehistoric timber structures is post holes in the ground. However in Norfolk, because the salty silt preserved the wood, the two circles at Holme Beach are the only ones in Britain to have been dated precisely, to 2049BC.

In 1999, images went round the world of druids and other protesters chanting, weeping and trying to block the diggers from dragging the ancient timbers of Seahenge out of the silt and removing them from the beach.

It was the eerie beauty of Seahenge, with the posts half submerged in the waves surrounding the upended stump of a giant oak tree, which made it international news. But the protesters who demanded it be left on the beach missed the second Bronze Age circle, just visible at the lowest tides.
Top