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Archeologists in Kenya unearth oldest stone tools ever found

© MPK-WTAP
The stone flakes are estimated to be 3.3 million years old i.e. 700,000 years older than the oldest tools, which have been found until now.
A recently unearthed stone tool kit consisting of hammer stones, anvils, worked cobblestones and other items dates to 3.3 million years ago, predating our genus Homo by over half a million years, according to a new study.

The items, described in the latest issue of the journal Nature, are now the oldest stone tools ever found.

They "show that early humans (essentially proto-humans) used and made stone tools 3.3 million years ago, which is about 700,000 years earlier than the previously earliest known date for early stone tools," Erella Hovers, who authored an accompanying "News & Views" article, told Discovery News.

Hovers, who is a senior member of the Institute of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, added that the other more recent tools were attributed to Homo habilis, aka "Handy Man," whose culture is called the Oldowan. Now it looks like there was a much earlier culture--as of yet unnamed--and that stone tool making was not unique to our genus.

The approximately 149 stone artifacts tied to tool making were found at a site called Lomekwi 3 next to Lake Turkana in Kenya.

Fireball 2

Aboriginal legends reveal ancient secrets to science

© BBC
Meteor streaks across the sky against a field of star.
Scientists are beginning to tap into a wellspring of knowledge buried in the ancient stories of Australia's Aboriginal peoples. But the loss of indigenous languages could mean it is too late to learn from them.

The Luritja people, native to the remote deserts of central Australia, once told stories about a fire devil coming down from the Sun, crashing into Earth and killing everything in the vicinity.

The local people feared if they strayed too close to this land they might reignite some otherworldly creature.

The legend describes the crash landing of a meteor in Australia's Central Desert about 4,700 years ago, says University of New South Wales (UNSW) astrophysicist Duane Hamacher.

It would have been a dramatic and fiery event, with the meteor blazing across the sky. As it broke apart, large fragments of metal-rich rock would have crashed to Earth with explosive force, creating a dozen giant craters.

The Northern Territory site, which was discovered in the 1930s by white prospectors with the help of Luritja guides, is today known as the Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve.

Pistol

Past is prelude: 1921: Black business district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attacked, aerially bombed and razed, victims dumped in mass graves

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© Unknown
An otherwise poor and uninformative documentary (funded by Pennsylvania Public Television and Corporation for Public Broadcasting) on the US bombing and burning alive of 11 residents, adults and children, of the MOVE house in Philadelphia, 1985, begins with one minute (10:30 to 11:30) on the rarely-mentioned 1921 onslaught, aerial bombing, and incineration of the "Black Wall Street" business district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, by white mobs, including the KKK and government forces.

From the PPT, CPB doc:
May 31st, 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The 'Negro Wall Street' district of the Greenwood neighborhood is bombed from the air.

Whites invade the enviable black business district, looting, burning, killing.

The police commandeer private planes. The 101st Airborne is flown in. A load of dynamite is dropped. 75 instantly killed. Hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed.

Four truckloads of bodies are shoveled into mass graves along the Arkansas river.

4,000 black men, women, and children arrested and placed in concentration camps, where they are required to carry 'passes'.

The city quickly re-zones the neighborhood so that the railroad can be run through, thus completing the destruction of that neighborhood.

Comment: The forms may have changed somewhat, but it seems that institutionalized racism in the U.S. has not improved one iota.

See more about the events of that day:




Pharoah

Long lost Egyptian temple found

© The Gebel el Silsila Survey Project 2015
A general overview of the temple.

Remains of the long lost temple of Kheny have been unearthed at Gebel el Silsila, north of Aswan, Egypt's Minister of Antiquities announced today.

Revealing the foundations and blockwork of the temple, the ruins are one of the few remnants of the settlement of Kheny or Khenu, which is the ancient Egyptian name — meaning "Rowing Place" — for Gebel el-Silsila.

The site, located on both banks of the Nile between Edfu and Kom Ombo, was extensively used as a quarry from the New Kingdom until Roman times.

"We know that huge quantities of sandstone for temple building were quarried there," Lund University archaeologist Maria Nilsson, director of the Gebel el Silsila Survey Project, told Discovery News.

Indeed, virtually all of Egypt's great temples, including those at Karnak and Luxor, were built with sandstone from Gebel el Silsila.

"Now this finding changes the history of the site, and it firmly establishes Gebel el Silsila as not only a quarry, but also a sacred location," she added.

While cult activities at the site were mainly associated with the Nile and its inundation, the principal deity was Sobek, the god of crocodiles who controlled the waters.

"At the moment we do not know to whom the temple was dedicated," Nilsson said.

"We believe it marked the beginning of the east bank quarries. We hope further archaeological work and research will reveal more," she added.

Comet

A comet 'wiped out highly advanced ancient civilisation after smashing into Earth nearly 13,000 years ago'

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© Channel 4
Controversial: Hancock has found new evidence to support his theory
Graham Hancock argues an ancient culture in Antarctica was obliterated - but subjects such as astronomy and mathematics were passed to later civilisations.

The author of a controversial new book claims a comet struck the Earth nearly 13,000 years ago and wiped out a highly advanced ancient civilisation.

When Graham Hancock wrote Fingerprints of the Gods, it was derided by academics but became a commercial sensation.

He argued an ancient culture in Antarctica was obliterated - but subjects such as astronomy and mathematics were passed to later civilisations.

Despite selling an estimated 3m copies, a BBC Horizon programme sought to demolish his theory.

Paul V Heinrich, a US geologist, wrote: "Rather than stumbling upon an archaeological mystery, he has merely created one."

Sherlock

Neanderthals and humans did interbreed: 40,000-year-old bone found in Romania suggests species mingled in Europe

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A 40,000-year-old fossilied human jawbone discovered in Romania suggests that humans and Neanderthals (illustrated) continued breeding in Europe, after mingling in the Middle East
Anthropologists have long puzzled over how much contact Neanderthals had with modern humans and when this may have occurred.

Now a 40,000-year-old fossilied human jawbone discovered in Romania suggests that humans and Neanderthals continued breeding in Europe, after coming into contact in the Middle East.

DNA testing revealed a genome with between 4.8 and 11.3 per cent Neanderthal DNA.

Typically, between one and four per cent of modern humans' genes come from Neanderthals.

Neanderthals - a human sub-species distantly related to, but genetically different from, modern humans, or Homo sapiens - are thought to have moved from Africa to Europe and possibly Asia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Boat

Canada's ancient hunter-gatherers used advanced techniques to assist nature

© The Canadian Press

Simon Fraser University student Misha Puckett and Louie Wilson (Cape Mudge Band and Hakai Institute) excavate a shell midden associated with a clam garden that was built on a bedrock outcrop in a 2013 handout photo.
First Nations Coastal First Nations used advanced cultivation techniques to intensify clam harvest

The discovery of an expansive system of historic clam gardens along the Pacific Northwest coast is contributing to a growing body of work that's busting long-held beliefs about First Nations as heedless hunter-gatherers.

A team of researchers at Simon Fraser University has revealed that First Nations from Alaska to Washington state were marine farmers using sophisticated cultivation techniques to intensify clam production.

In an article published recently in the journal American Antiquity, lead author Dana Lepofsky argued that the findings counter the perception of First Nations living passively as foragers in wild, untended environments.

"Once you start calling someone a hunter-gatherer there's something implied ... about not really being connected to the land or sea and not needing much from it," she said. "Even if they aren't formal agricultural plots in the way that Europeans recognized, they were still cultivating the landscape."

Comment: How much cultural wisdom is missed when viewed with a narrow Western bias.


Blue Planet

Britain's greatest battle not Waterloo or D-Day, but Imphal-Kohima, India


A military cemetery in Kohima, India. Credit Gardiner Harris/The New York Times
Soldiers died by the dozens, by the hundreds and then by the thousands in a battle here 70 years ago. Two bloody weeks of fighting came down to just a few yards across an asphalt tennis court.

Night after night, Japanese troops charged across the court's white lines, only to be killed by almost continuous firing from British and Indian machine guns. The Battle of Kohima and Imphal was the bloodiest of World War II in India, and it cost Japan much of its best army in Burma.

But the battle has been largely forgotten in India as an emblem of the country's colonial past. The Indian troops who fought and died here were subjects of the British Empire. In this remote, northeastern corner of India, more recent battles with a mix of local insurgencies among tribal groups that have long sought autonomy have made remembrances of former glories a luxury.

Now, as India loosens its security grip on this region and a fragile peace blossoms among the many combatants here, historians are hoping that this year's anniversary reminds the world of one of the most extraordinary fights of the Second World War. The battle was voted last year as the winner of a contest by Britain's National Army Museum, beating out Waterloo and D-Day as Britain's greatest battle, though it was overshadowed at the time by the Normandy landings.

Comment: More about Imphal-Kohima [link].

India's contribution to the war effort was immense, and the cost appalling [link].

Churchill's policies caused the deaths of between 3.5 million and four million Indians in 1943 by diverting food from India to Europe. It is known as the Great Bengal Famine, and impacted the areas comprising present day Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Bangladesh.

Like Russia, which bore the brunt of the fighting in World War II, India's contribution proved crucial. By 1943 more than 2.5 million well-trained Indian soldiers were fighting alongside the Allies in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. Vast quantities of armaments, ammunition and raw materials sourced from across the country were shipped to Europe at no cost to Britain.

Cambridge University historians Tim Harper and Christopher Bayly describe in two volumes Forgotten Armies and Forgotten Wars that "it was Indian soldiers, civilian labourers and businessmen who made possible the victory of 1945."


Question

Mysterious stone circle discovered on Dartmoor could be older than Stonehenge

© www.mirror.co.uk
Bronze Age Britain: Dartmoor was home to an astonishing ancient community.
Archaeologists have discovered a massive ancient stone circle on Dartmoor which could be older than Stonehenge.

The mysterious ruined structure is the first circle to be found on the moor for more than a century and is evidence the area was home to an advanced ancient civilisation.

Although the 30 stones fell down an estimated 4,000 years ago, they would once formed a forbidding circle standing 34 metres wide.

The newly-discovered henge is thought to have formed part of a "sacred arc" of stone circles around Dartmoor's north-eastern edge and is the highest rock ring in southern England.

There is evidence fires were lit inside these stones, suggesting our ancient ancestors used them for religious rites or feasting.

Pharoah

Egyptian mummies' height reveals incest

© Wikimedia Commons
Above is the mummified head of Egyptian pharaoh King Ahmose I, whose parents and grandparents were probably both sets of siblings.
The height of the pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt supports historical records that they might have married their sisters and cousins, says new research into 259 mummies.

It's known from historical sources that incestuous marriages were common among the ancient Egyptian royalty. The pharaohs believed they descended from the gods so inbreeding was seen as a way to retain the sacred bloodline.

But it is hard to prove incest in royal marriages through genetic testings because of ethical consideration when destroying mummies' tissues.

Frank Rühli, director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, and colleagues used a highly hereditable character, body height, to look for evidence of incest in 259 mummies of both commoners and royals.

"It is actually one of the largest collections of body height of ancient Egyptians and spans all major periods of their history," Rühli told Discovery News.

The researchers tested the hypothesis of royal incest by studying variation (difference between individuals) of body heights of royals and comparing it with variations among commoners.