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Arkaim: Russia's Stonehenge and a puzzle of the ancient world

Everyone's heard of Stonehenge. You could probably venture into the Amazonian jungle and seek out an untouched tribe of hunter-gatherers, spend months gaining their trust and learning their language, fighting off dysentery while you're at it, and when their chief finally makes you an honorary member of their society, against the emphatic advice of his shaman, you could ask them if they've heard of Stonehenge, and the answer would probably be: yes.

Some might say that's overstating the matter a touch, but the point stands. The sarsen stones of Wiltshire are famous; they've made their way into popular culture the world over. Though, would it surprise you to know that Stonehenge isn't the only megalithic stone circle in the world? Probably not, but most don't realise that there are somewhere on the order of 5000 stone circles around the world. Some exist as collections of circles, like the Senegambian circles in Gambia, Senegal, which are counted as one circle in the global list, but which actually consists of more than 1000 individual monuments covering an area of 15,000 square miles.

Great Britain boasts a large number of these Neolithic sites, but they don't have a monopoly on henges, as they're called over there. One of their neighbours actually has quite a few as well.
Magic Wand

Ancient 'ritual wand' etched with human faces discovered in Syria

Ritual Wand
© Ibanez et al, Antiquity, 2014
A 9,000-year-old wand with a face carved into it was discovered in Syria.
Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient staff carved with two realistic human faces in southern Syria.

The roughly 9,000-year-old artifact was discovered near a graveyard where about 30 people were buried without their heads - which were found in a nearby living space.

"The find is very unusual. It's unique," said study co-author Frank Braemer, an archaeologist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France.

The wand, which was likely used in a long-lost funeral ritual, is one of the only naturalistic depictions of human faces from this time and place, Braemer said.
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Newly found megalithic ruins in Russia contain the largest blocks of stone ever discovered

Megalithic Stones_1
© The Truth Wins
An incredible discovery that was recently made in Russia threatens to shatter conventional theories about the history of the planet. On Mount Shoria in southern Siberia, researchers have found an absolutely massive wall of granite stones. Some of these gigantic granite stones are estimated to weigh more than 3,000 tons, and as you will see below, many of them were cut "with flat surfaces, right angles, and sharp corners". Nothing of this magnitude has ever been discovered before.

The largest stone found at the megalithic ruins at Baalbek, Lebanon is less than 1,500 tons. So how in the world did someone cut 3,000 ton granite stones with extreme precision, transport them up the side of a mountain and stack them 40 meters high? According to the commonly accepted version of history, it would be impossible for ancient humans with very limited technology to accomplish such a thing. Could it be possible that there is much more to the history of this planet than we are being taught?

For years, historians and archaeologists have absolutely marveled at the incredibly huge stones found at Baalbek. But some of these stones in Russia are reportedly more than twice the size. Needless to say, a lot of people are getting very excited about this discovery.
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Clues to Genghis Khan's rise, written in the rings of ancient trees

Ancient Tree
© Kevin Krajick/Earth Institute
An ancient tree grows in a lava field in central Mongolia.
In the rings of ancient and gnarled trees, a team of scientists has found evidence of a period of consistent warmth and wetness in Mongolia between the years 1211 and 1225 -- the exact time that Genghis Khan first rose to power.

Coincidence? They think not.

This unusual stretch of mild temperatures and unprecedented rain in an area traditionally known for its cold and arid climate would have increased the productivity of grasslands in the Mongolian steppe, the researchers say. The abundant grass would in turn increase the number of grazing animals that could live off it.

Members of Khan's army reportedly had five horses apiece, which allowed them to swiftly conquer an enormous area that stretched from eastern Asia to eastern Europe, as well as parts of northern India and the Mideast. They also traveled with a herd of livestock that provided them with food.
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Historians unravel mystery of cryptic Lincoln note

Abe Lincoln
© Wikimedia Commons
Springfield, Illinois - The cryptic note penned by Abraham Lincoln identifies its recipient only as "my dear Sir" and has a small section carefully clipped out.

Who was he writing to and why was a key piece of information later removed so meticulously?

Historians believe they have unraveled the mystery and uncovered a bit of political intrigue in the process.

Researchers at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project concluded Lincoln was writing to an ally to ask him to maintain a secret relationship with a political insider during the 1860 election campaign.

Lincoln asked his cohort to "keep up a correspondence" with the person, a phrase that gave researchers their best clue.

They ran it through a searchable database of Lincoln's papers and found several matches.

One was in a letter to Lincoln from fellow attorney and Republican Leonard Swett of Bloomington, Ill.
Magnify

4,000-year-old prehistoric Dartmoor burial find rewrites British bronze age history


Parts of a necklace and wooden ear studs found on Dartmoor
Some 4,000 years ago people carried a young woman's cremated bones - charred scraps of her shroud and the wood from her funeral pyre still clinging to them - carefully wrapped in a fur, along with her most valuable possessions packed into a basket, up to one of the highest and most exposed spots on Dartmoor, and buried them in a small stone box covered by a mound of peat.

The discovery of her remains is rewriting the history of the Bronze Age moor. The bundle contained a treasury of unique objects, including a tin bead and 34 tin studs which are the earliest evidence of metal-working in the south-west, textiles including a unique nettle fibre belt with a leather fringe, jewellery including amber from the Baltic and shale from Whitby, and wooden ear studs which are the earliest examples of wood turning ever found in Britain.
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Ancient native American city discovered

Cahookia
© John Kelly, Washington University in St. Louis
Apparently there were cities in the Americas before European influence ever set foot on the continent.

A thousand years ago, where modern-day St. Louis stands, existed a Native American city known as Cahookia. Its birth and decline is one of America's great mysteries.

A new studied published in the Journal of Archeological Science sheds new information on the ancient city where they believe about 20,000 people lived, and was formed in just 50 years.
Question

16th-century warfare manual showing 'rocket cats' weaponry puzzles experts

Jetpacks?
© The Independent, UK
Images from a 16th century artillery manual digitized by the University of Pennsylvania appear to show jet packs strapped to the backs of cats and doves.
From Nyan cat to leaping feline fails the airborne moggie is quite rightly a harmless obsession for those who create internet memes.

Experts studying fanciful illustrations from a circa-1530 manual on artillery and siege warfare, however, appear to have uncovered a less innocent use for cats in flight.

Images from the manual, which was digitised by the University of Pennsylvania, appear to show jet packs strapped to the backs of cats and doves.

The German text accompanying the pictures helpfully advises military commanders to use them to "set fire to a castle or city which you can't get at otherwise."

The pictures showing cats and doves being propelled towards a castle by what appear to be jet-packs appear in a Feuer Buech manuscript that has now got experts puzzled.

The treatise in question was written by artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne, who was believed to have fought in several skirmishes against the Turks in south-central Europe at a time when gunpowder was changing warfare.
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Ancient Egyptian soldier's letter home deciphered

Ancient Letter_1
© Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley
Dating back about 1,800 years, this letter was written, mainly in Greek, by Aurelius Polion, an Egyptian man who served with the legio II Adiutrix legion around modern-day Hungary. In the letter, discovered more than a century ago in the Egyptian town of Tebunis and only recently translated, Polion pleads with his family to respond.
A newly deciphered letter home dating back around 1,800 years reveals the pleas of a young Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion who was serving, probably as a volunteer, in a Roman legion in Europe.

In the letter, written mainly in Greek, Polion tells his family that he is desperate to hear from them and that he is going to request leave to make the long journey home to see them.

Addressed to his mother (a bread seller), sister and brother, part of it reads: "I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind," it reads.

"I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you ..." (Part of the letter hasn't survived.)

Polion says he has written six letters to his family without response, suggesting some sort of family tensions.

"While away in Pannonia I sent (letters) to you, but you treat me so as a stranger," he writes.

"I shall obtain leave from the consular (commander), and I shall come to you so that you may know that I am your brother ..."
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Shilling discovery could rewrite Canadian history

Rare Shilling
© AFP Photo/Clement Sabourin)
A rare Edward VI shilling, minted in London between 1551 and 1553, is seen on January 23, 2014 in Victoria, British Columbia.
Victoria - An amateur treasure hunter with a hand-held metal detector has turned Canadian history on its head after finding a 16th century shilling buried in clay on the shores of Vancouver Island.

The 435-year-old coin discovered in western-most Canada has rekindled a theory that a British explorer made a secret voyage here two centuries before it was discovered by Spanish sailors.

Official historical records show the Spanish were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Canada's British Columbia province in 1774, followed four years later by British Royal Navy Captain James Cook.

Retired security systems installer Bruce Campbell found the coin in mid-December, along with a rare 1891 Canadian nickel, a 1960s dime and penny from 1900.

"I was getting fat and tired of watching TV," he said about what got him into his hobby, surrounded in his Victoria, British Columbia home by a trove of adventure novels and a few dug up treasures.

He never imagined, he said, stirring up controversy with his latest find.

According to conspiracy theorists and some historians, the silver coin (produced between 1551 and 1553) is evidence that English explorer Sir Francis Drake travelled as far north as Canada's Pacific Coast during an expedition to California in 1579, in search of the famed Northwest Passage.
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