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2,000 year old Siberian brain surgery techniques recreated by Russian scientists

200yo. brain surgery
© Reuters/Matthew Dunham
Russian neurosurgeons alongside anthropologists and archaeologists have carried out pioneering tests to better understand how incredible operations on skulls were conducted more than 2,000 years ago.

Experts at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography united with prominent Russian neurosurgeons for a series of tests that revealed the exceptional skillfulness of ancient doctors, equipped only with primitive tools, The Siberian Times reported on Thursday.
Magnify

Skull discovery suggests region where humans first had sex with Neanderthals

© Tel Aviv University and University of Vienna
Views of the human skull, with missing jaw, found in western Galilee, northern Isreal and estimated at 55,000 years old.
Skull found in northern Israeli cave in western Galilee, thought to be female and 55,000 years old, connects interbreeding and move from Africa to Europe

An ancient skull found in a cave in northern Israel has cast light on the migration of modern humans out of Africa and the dawn of humanity's colonisation of the world.

For most palaeontologists that might be enough for a single fossil, but the braincase has offered much more: a likely location where the first prehistoric trysts resulted in modern humans having sex with their heavy-browed Neanderthal cousins.

Discovered in a cave in western Galilee, the partial skull belonged to an individual, probably a woman, who lived and died in the region about 55,000 years ago, placing modern humans there and then for the first time ever.

Homo sapiens walked out of Africa at least 60,000 years ago, but the harsh climate in parts of Europe at the time hampered their spread across much of the continent until about 45,000 years ago.
Cow Skull

Mummified remains of '200 year old man in lotus position' found in Mongolia

Forensic examination to be made on well preserved remains of possible Lama teacher.

This extraordinary picture shows the mummifed male body which is believed to be several centuries old. It was found at 6.30 pm 27 January 2015 in Songinokhairkhan province, reported Mongolia's Morning Newspaper.
© 'Өглөөний сонин'
A 'meditating mummy' found on 27th of January in Mongolia.
'The mummified body sits in a lotus position, as if still meditating.

'Experts that only had time to carry basic visual test say they believe the body can be about 200 years old'.

The report added: 'So far there is no information as to where the body was found. The only details we learned was that it was covered with a cattle skin'.
V

The forgotten 1961 massacre of Algerians in Paris who demonstrated against a discriminatory curfew imposed only on Muslims


1961 Paris massacre
A colleague of mine in Cairo told me a story a few years ago about a massacre in the streets of Paris. He was a news service reporter at the time of the violence in the French capital - Oct. 17, 1961 - and saw tens of bodies of dead Algerians piled like cordwood in the center of the city in the wake of what would now be called a police riot.

But his superiors at the news agency stopped him from telling the full story then, and most of the world paid little attention to the thin news coverage that the massacre did receive. Even now, the events of that time are not widely known and many people, like myself, had never heard of them at all.

This year is an apt time to recall what happened, and not only because this is the 35th anniversary year of Algerian independence. The continuing civil war in Algeria and the growing violence and racism in France, as well as the appalling slaughters taking place elsewhere in the world, give it a disturbing currency.

Here's what happened:

1961 march
Unarmed Algerian Muslims demonstrating in central Paris against a discriminatory curfew were beaten, shot, garotted and even drowned by police and special troops. Thousands were rounded up and taken to detention centers around the city and the prefecture of police, where there were more beatings and killings.

Comment: See also:

Holocaust 2.0: Coming soon!

As Islamophobia Rises, Moral Values Decrease

Boat

Blackbeard's pirate ship yields medical equipment not for faint of heart

© North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
This urethral syringe was used to treat syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease that can be fatal. Chemical analysis shows that it contained mercury, which was commonly used to treat people with syphilis during the early 18th century. Although mercury may alleviate some of the symptoms taking too much of it can be fatal.
Archaeologists are excavating the vessel that served as the flagship of the pirate Blackbeard, and the medical equipment they have recovered from the shipwreck suggests the notorious buccaneer had to toil to keep his crew healthy.

Blackbeard is the most famous pirate who ever lived. His real name was Edward Teach (or possibly Thatch), and his flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, was formerly a French slave vessel named La Concorde de Nantes that Blackbeard captured in November 1717. Blackbeard was able to capture this ship easily because much of its crew was either sick or dead due to disease.

A few months into 1718, the Queen Anne's Revenge ran aground on a sandbar at Topsail Inlet in North Carolina. Blackbeard abandoned much of his crew at that point, leaving the site with a select group of men and most of the plunder. He was killed in battle later that year.

The wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge was rediscovered in 1996 and has been under excavation by the Queen Anne's Revenge Project. Archaeologists have recovered many artifacts, including a number of medical instruments. These artifacts, combined with historical records, paint a picture of a pirate captain who tried to keep his crew in fighting shape.

"Treating the sick and injured of a sea-bound community on shipboard was challenging in the best of times," Linda Carnes-McNaughton, an archaeologist and curator with the Department of Defense who volunteers her time on the excavation project, wrote in a paper she presented recently at the Society for Historical Archaeology annual meeting.

The people on a ship like Blackbeard's would have had to contend with many conditions, including "chronic and periodic illnesses, wounds, amputations, toothaches, burns and other indescribable maladies," Carnes-McNaughton said.

Blackbeard's surgeons

In fact, maintaining the crew's health was so important that when Blackbeard turned the Queen Anne's Revenge into his flagship, he released most of the French crew members he had captured, but he forced the ship's three surgeons to stay, along with a few other specialized workers like carpenters and the cook, Carnes-McNaughton said.
Info

Australian aboriginal stories of ancient sea level rise have survived for 10,000 years


The Great Barrier Reef, off the Queensland coast, was once part of the mainland according to Aboriginal tales
Traditional stories passed down through generations by Australian Aborigines may be among the oldest accurate oral histories in the world, scientists have claimed.

The findings have allowed them to map how the continent may have looked around 10,000 years ago.

Oral folklore tells how the Great Barrier Reef once formed part of the coastline of north east Queensland, while Port Phillip Bay in Victoria was once a rich place for hunting kangaroo and opossum.

Researchers have found other stories from all over the continent that mirror how the landscape dramatically changed towards the end of the last ice age.
Question

New human species? Taiwanese fishermen unearth unique ancient bones

© Chang et al. / Nature Communications / NPG
A fossilized lower jaw found by the Taiwanese fishermen working in the Penghu Channel indicates that a previously unknown human species lived in Asia as far back as 200,000, researchers say.

According to a study, published in the Nature Communications journal, the fossil, dubbed Penghu 1, is the first such discovery in Taiwan. It was picked up off on the seafloor that was part of the Asian mainland in the Pleistocene Epoch, which lasted from about 1.8 million years ago to approximately 11,700 years ago.

Although Homo sapiens are the only surviving human lineage, there were other human species or hominin roaming the earth. These include Homo erectus, believed to be our direct ancestors, Neanderthals and their close relatives Denisovans, as well as hobbit-like Homo floresiensis.

The fossil discovered in Taiwan might add another name to the list.
Sherlock

After 2,500 years the face of a Siberian princess is revealed

Taxidermy expert uses painstaking techniques to create first ever replica of the ice maiden found preserved in the Siberian high altitude plateau.
Siberian mummified princess tattoos
© The Siberian Times
'One of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century'.
The first replica face has been created of the famous tattooed Siberian princess found mummified and preserved after almost 2,500 years in permafrost. A Swiss expert has used special taxidermy techniques to build an accurate reconstruction of the ice maiden who was uncovered by archaeologists in 1993.

Known as Princess Ukok, after the high altitude plateau on which she was discovered, her body was decorated in the best-preserved, and most elaborate, ancient art ever found. While her discovery was exciting, particularly given how intact her remains were, her face and neck skin had deteriorated, with no real clue as to what she once looked like.

However, now her face has been revealed to the world for the first time following the work by Swiss taxidermist Marcel Nyffenegger.

Comment: Archaeology studies have come a long way in respecting indigenous traditions. May the Princess rest in peace after sharing so much about her culture.

Fireball

Asteroid that killed the dinosaurs boiled Earth's atmosphere

asteroid
© Donald E. Davis / NASA
Calm before the storm
The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs set off an intense heat wave that briefly boiled the Earth's atmosphere - but it didn't burn off all the plants.

Humanity has not been unlucky enough to observe at first hand the effects of a large impact, so to investigate whether a massive asteroid would spark off a global wildfire we had to turn to the laboratory. We have modelled, for the first time, the heat generated by the impact and what it meant for the planet's plants. Our research is published in the Journal of the Geological Society.

This all happened 65m years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Suddenly, between 60 and 80% of all living species became extinct. Until the 1980s, this catastrophic loss of life was a mystery, but then scientists found a clue - traces of the element iridium in rocks of this age. Iridium generally falls to Earth with extraterrestrial objects. This suggested a massive asteroid collided with the planet and that this could be responsible for the mass extinction.

Comment: Is history repeating? Fireball sightings are on rise. The Chelyabinsk meteor explosion should serve as a reminder of what humanity has coming for it.



Info

Scan finds new tattoos on 5300-year-old Iceman

Otzi
© South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Eurac/Samadelli/Staschitz)
A new study has used advanced imaging techniques to identify previously unknown tattoos on the ribcage of the 5300-year old man known as Ötzi, bringing his total number of tattoos to 61.

But first, some context

In September of 1991 hikers in the Ötzal Alps along the border of Austria and Italy happened upon the mummified corpse who became an archaeological celebrity. After Ötzi died at the hands of unknown attackers one late spring or early summer around 3500 BC, his body and belongings were left in a small gully where they were entombed beneath an alpine glacier. A combination of glacial meltwater and extreme cold resulted in natural mummification of his body.

Thanks to more than two decades of analysis, scientists arguably know more about Ötzi's health and final days than those of any other ancient human. He died at around 45 years of age after being shot in the back with a stone-tipped arrow and bludgeoned. In the 12 hours preceding his death he climbed into the mountains from an Italian valley, and ate a last meal consisting of grains and ibex meat.

Ötzi suffered a variety of ailments, including advanced gum disease, gallbladder stones, lyme disease, whipworms in his colon, and atherosclerosis. Researchers have sequenced Ötzi's entire genome, identified a genetic predisposition to heart disease, and determined that he has 19 surviving male relatives in his genetic lineage. However, a new studyshows the Iceman still has secrets left to reveal.
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