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Historian accuses Allies of mass rape in Germany

© FP, Getty Images File , London Daily Telegraph
Allied troops are shown entering the city of Mainz, Germany, on March 30, 1945. A German historian claims hundreds of thousands of German women were raped by British, U.S. and French soldiers.
Hundreds of thousands of German women were raped by British, U.S. and French soldiers after the end of the Second World War, a German historian has claimed.

In a new book, Miriam Gerhardt, a well-regarded German academic, challenges the established view that Soviet troops were responsible for the vast majority of rape cases in occupied Germany.

"The assumption that Western Allied soldiers would not do such a thing turned out not to be true," she told the broadcaster Deutsche Welle. "In the method and violence of rape there was no difference between American GIs and the Red Army, as far as I can see."

Gerhardt drew on detailed accounts kept by Bavarian Roman Catholic priests on individual cases for her book, When the Soldiers Came.

Hardhat

Two "lost cities" discovered in Honduras by archaeologists

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© Dave Yoder/National Geographic
Archaeologists in Honduras have found dozens of artifacts at a site where they believe twin cities stood.
Archaeologists have discovered two lost cities in the deep jungle of Honduras, emerging from the forest with evidence of a pyramid, plazas and artifacts that include the effigy of a half-human, half-jaguar spirit.

The team of specialists in archaeology and other fields, escorted by three British bushwhacking guides and a detail of Honduran special forces, explored on foot a remote valley of La Mosquitia where an aerial survey had found signs of ruins in 2012.

Chris Fisher, the lead US archaeologist on the team, told the Guardian that the expedition - co-coordinated by the film-makers Bill Benenson and Steve Elkins, Honduras and National Geographic (which first reported the story on its site) - had by all appearances set foot in a place that had gone untouched by humans for at least 600 years.

"Even the animals acted as if they've never seen people," Fisher said. "Spider monkeys are all over place, and they'd follow us around and throw food at us and hoot and holler and do their thing."

"To be treated not as a predator but as another primate in their space was for me the most amazing thing about this whole trip," he said.

Fisher and the team arrived by helicopter to "groundtruth" the data revealed by surveying technology called Lidar, which projects a grid of infrared beams powerful enough to break through the dense forest canopy.

Pocket Knife

Ancient well-heeled Roman traveler's multi-tool displayed at Cambridge museum

© Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
With a spoon, knife, fork and toothpick, a spike used for deducing meat from the shells of seafood or removing stones from horses' hooves and a spatula which could have worked as a toothbrush or for scooping paste from bottles, it's little wonder a highly versatile Roman version of a Swiss army knife has provoked popular intrigue at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Nearly 38,000 visitors have wondered how this implement might have been used 2,000 years ago, making it the most popular object on the museum's website. And the answer might be less practical than we thought: curators say it's "hard to avoid" concluding that the neatness of the knife might just have made it a possession Romans wanted to show off with.

"The fact that this is made of silver, and so beautifully crafted, definitely marks it out as a luxury item," says the museum.

"Most likely it was the possession of a wealthy person who was a frequent traveller - one can imagine him getting it out at an inn and showing off with it, not unlike having the latest type of iPhone, except that this would also have rarity value."

Although the iron knife blade has corroded, the other handy sections, hinged and riveted onto a flat silver handle, can all be wielded. There is little evidence that Romans set forks at the dinner table, but they may have put them to surgical use.

"Portability seems to be the motive behind these implements," say curators.

"The Germans call them Reisebestecke or travelling cutlery - like their modern counterparts they are highly portable.

Sherlock

Celtic royal burial site uncovered in small north-central French town

© Denis Gliksman/Inrap
The cauldron is finely decorated with designs and figures, including the head of the Greek god Achelous
France's National Archaeological Research Institute (Inrap) on Wednesday revealed the discovery of an ancient grave site, probably that of a Celtic prince, which is helping shed light on trade between some of Europe's earliest civilizations.

Archaeologists uncovered the tomb dating from the fifth century BC in an industrial zone in the small town of Lavau, in France's Champagne region. Inrap, which routinely scours construction sites in order to find and preserve the country's archaeological heritage, began excavating at Lavau site in October 2014.

A 40-metre-wide burial mound of the Celtic ruler crowns a larger funeral complex, which archaeologists said preceded the royal's final resting place, and could have first been built during the Bronze Age.

The prince was buried with his prized possessions, which archaeologists said were still being unearthed.

The most exciting find has been a large bronze-decorated cauldron that was used to store watered-down wine. Inrap said it appears to have been made by Etruscan craftsmen in what is now northern Italy.

Comment: In spite of all the evidence people still seem to have the image of Celts as howling savages.

Archaeologists discover bronze remains of Celtic Iron Age chariot


Black Magic

Elongated Peruvian skulls DNA tested: Not human?


Paracas skulls at the National Museum of Achaeology, Anthropology, and History in Lima
Ever since their discovery by Julio Tello in 1928, the bizarre Paracas Skulls have amazed and terrified in equal measure. Uncovered in a tomb in South Peru, and believed to be around 3,000 years old, the skulls feature strange elongated craniums which gives them a decidedly inhuman appearance.

In fact, some have claimed they could in fact be the skulls of ancient alien visitors who apparently frequented South America, with other clues including the Nazca Lines and stepped pyramids. Now, an expert on these skulls, Brien Foerster, has claimed he has scientific evidence to back up these claims.

The traditional logic dictates that the skulls were created via a process of 'binding' - in which rope and wood was used to change the shape of a new born infant's skull. This was not unique to the Paracas region, and was practiced all over the South American continent by indigenous tribes. Over 300 elongated skulls of different shapes and sizes were discovered by Tello alone, suggesting the process may have been widespread and used to illustrate a highborn status. The Paracas skulls are particularly strange, however, as they are 60% heavier than most normal skulls.

Comment: Even if the DNA is 'non-human' (and it would be nice if the geneticists who worked on the samples went public, or if others who were willing to do so would attempt to verify their results), that does not necessarily imply alien.


Gold Seal

The archaeology of Nazareth: A history of pious fraud?

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Good morning. This presentation will be divided into two parts. The first part will consist of a brief survey of the most significant material finds from the Nazareth basin as they relate to the possible existence of a settlement there at the turn of the era. The second part will briefly discuss the question of "pious fraud" as this may relate to the history of Nazareth archaeology.

First, however, I would like to preface these remarks with a little background on myself and on some false assumptions regarding my work.

You may be aware that I wrote a book called The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus. It was published in 2008 by American Atheist Press. The book required eight years of research and has over 800 footnotes, seven appendices, and a bibliography that extends to hundreds of works. It's major thesis has since met violent and sustained opposition from scholars of virtually every stripe. The evidence in the book, however, has not yet been contradicted.

Not being an archaeologist myself, I am often asked: "How can you date evidence, Mr. Salm?" or: "How can you presume to correct professional archaeologists?" or: "How can you have any opinion on these matters?" However, there is a misunderstanding inherent in these questions, for I have never dated anything at all. I have simply identified the relevant archaeological experts and quoted their published datings: Hans-Peter Kuhnen on kokhim tombs, Varda Sussman on bow-spouted oil lamps, Roland Deines on Jewish stone vessels, Amos Kloner on circular blocking stones, and so on. The case regarding Nazareth does not rest on my opinion at all. Anyone who disagrees with The Myth of Nazareth is not disagreeing with me but is taking issue with the leading archaeological experts in the world. As we shall see, this is fatal for traditional conclusions regarding Nazareth.

Book 2

The myth of Nazareth, the invented town of the mythical figure known as Jesus

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René Salm
"It is very doubtful whether the beautiful mountain village of Nazareth was really the dwelling-place of Jesus."
—T. Cheyne (Encyclopedia Biblica, "Nazareth," 1899).
A recent American Atheist column [1] contained surprising results of new research into one of the most important venues of the Christian story: the town of Nazareth. This topic has been contentious for many years, and it is no coincidence that significant research into the dubious origins of Christianity should first appear in this magazine, given what I consider the common sense and scientific acumen indigenous to Atheists. Of course, damaging material such as this puts the very stiff Christian neck in a scientific noose, as it were, and the Christian press has no interest in kicking the chair out from under itself. A nudge by well - intentioned Atheists at this critical juncture won't hurt... With the knowledge that Nazareth did not exist in the time of Jesus, we have our fingers wrapped around one of the chair legs and are now poised to give it a decided heave.

The column in the November-December issue of American Atheist was aptly titled "Why The Truth About Nazareth Is Important." This topic is indeed important, but not for the most obvious reason. After all, where Jesus really came from is hardly earthshaking. What must matter to all Christians, however, is the inescapable fact that the evangelists invented this basic element in the story of cosmic redemption. The proof is now at hand that "Jesus of Nazareth," a long-standing icon of Western civilization, is bogus.

There can be no return to the comforting familiarity of the past, for with the proof that Nazareth did not exist at the turn of the era, the gospels leave the realm of history and forever enter the realm of myth. It is a swift kick to the solar plexus of Christian inerrantism, the scholarly equivalent of a punch sending the opponent to the mat—perhaps even a knock-out.

Info

Earliest human species possibly found in Ethiopia

© Kaye Reed
A close-up view of the mandible from an early Homo species, shown just steps from where Arizona State University graduate student Chalachew Seyoum from Ethiopia spotted it.
An ancient jawbone fragment is the oldest human fossil discovered yet, a bone potentially from a new species that reveals the human family may have arose a half million years earlier than previously thought, researchers say.

This find also sheds light on the kind of landscape where humans first originated, scientists added.

Although modern humans are the only human lineage alive today, other human species once roamed the Earth. These extinct lineages were members of the genus Homo just as modern humans are.

For decades, scientists have been searching Africa for signs of the earliest phases of the human family, during the shift from more apelike Australopithecus species to more human early Homo species. Until now, the earliest credible fossil evidence of the genus Homo was dated to about 2.3 million or 2.4 million years ago.

Now researchers have found a human fossil in Ethiopia about 2.8 million years old. The scientists detail their findings in two papers online today (March 4) in the journal Science.

"There is a big gap in the fossil record between about 2.5 million and 3 million years ago — there's virtually nothing relating to the ancestors of Homo from that time period, in spite of a lot of people looking," research team co-leader and study co-author Brian Villmoare, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas,told Live Science. "Now we have a fossil of Homo from this time, the earliest evidence of Homo yet.

Magnify

Medieval mass burial site discovered beneath Paris supermarket

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© Denis Gliksman, Inrap
More than 200 bodies were recently unearthed in several mass burials beneath a Paris supermarket.

The bodies, which were lined up head to feet, were found at the site of an ancient cemetery attached to the Trinity Hospital, which was founded in the 13th century.

Though it's not clear exactly how these ancient people died, the trove of bodies could reveal insights into how people in the Middle Ages buried their dead during epidemics or famine, the researchers involved said.

Supermarket renovations

The burials were discovered during renovations to the basement of the Monoprix Réaumur-Sébastopol supermarket, located in the second-arrondissement neighborhood of Paris. As workers lowered the floor level of the basement, they found a shocking surprise: the bodies of men, women and children, neatly arranged in what looked to be mass graves.

The site was once the location of the Trinity Hospital, which was founded in 1202 by two German noblemen. The hospital was conceived not just as a place to provide care for the sick, but also as one where weary pilgrims and travelers could rest and enjoy themselves, according to a 1983 presentation given at the French Society on the History of Medicine.

Books

Archaeologists believe they've identified the house that the mythical Jesus grew up in

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© Ken Dark
People in the Middle Ages believed Jesus grew up in this first-century house in Nazareth, according to research
Archaeologists working in Nazareth — Jesus' hometown — in modern-day Israel have identified a house dating to the first century that was regarded as the place where Jesus was brought up by Mary and Joseph.

The house is partly made of mortar-and-stone walls, and was cut into a rocky hillside. It was first uncovered in the 1880s, by nuns at the Sisters of Nazareth convent, but it wasn't until 2006 that archaeologists led by Ken Dark, a professor at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, dated the house to the first century, and identified it as the place where people, who lived centuries after Jesus' time, believed Jesus was brought up.

Whether Jesus actually lived in the house in real life is unknown, but Dark says that it is possible.

"Was this the house where Jesus grew up? It is impossible to say on archaeological grounds," Dark wrote in an article published in the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review. "On the other hand, there is no good archaeological reason why such an identification should be discounted."

Jesus is believed to have grown up in Nazareth. Archaeologists found that, centuries after Jesus' time, the Byzantine Empire (which controlled Nazareth up until the seventh century) decorated the house with mosaics and constructed a church known as the "Church of the Nutrition" over the house, protecting it.

Crusaders who ventured into the Holy Land in the 12th century fixed up the church after it fell into disrepair. This evidence suggests that both the Byzantines and Crusaders believed that this was the home where Jesus was brought up, Dark said.


Comment: While it is interesting that the Byzantines and Crusaders both believed that this was the house of Jesus, it could easily have been false, a myth created to help build up the Jesus story.