Secret History


New battle for the dating of Chauvet cave

© Wikimedia
Chauvet cave art.
In 1994, the discovery of the wonders contained within Chauvet cave at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc (France) formed a crucial part of our understanding of Palaeolithic art as a whole. At the time the discovery became a media sensation and then more recently returned to the limelight with the release of Werner Herzog's film Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

The cave, extends horizontally for nearly 500 metres and is located at the entrance to the Ardèche gorges between the Cevennes and Rhone valleys. Over 425 groups of paintings have been documented and include numerous realistic renditions of animals (reindeer, horses, aurochs, rhinoceros, bison, lions, cave bears among others), human hand prints and abstract dots. The images in the front hall are primarily red, created with liberal applications of red ochre, while the back hall images are mainly black, drawn with charcoal.

The black drawings are grouped into two main phases; a paste of ground charcoal in water for the more recent and a dry charcoal stick for the earlier. However, the early age assigned to some of the black images have been called into question by researchers Jean Combiera and Guy Jouve, who have carried out a comparison with other cave art from the same period along with an examination of the original AMS radiocarbon dates.


New research suggests continuous human presence in Stonehenge landscape for ten millennia

© The Independent, UK
New research has revealed that the landscape around Stonehenge has been continuously occupied for around 10,000 years.

The findings - a series of radio carbon dates from a site 1.5 miles east of the famous prehistoric monument - strengthens the likelihood that the area was of considerable political significance for literally thousands of years before Stonehenge and its neighbouring monuments were built.

The earliest definitive evidence of human activity in the area - dating from around 8000 BC - is from a site 100 metres north of Stonehenge. But now a new series of 11 radio carbon dates reveal that an area 1.5 miles east of the site of Stonehenge was inhabited between 7600 and 4700 BC, during the pre-agricultural 'Mesolithic' period. Still standing ancient tombs and other monuments in the Stonehenge landscape date from the subsequent Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Romano-British, Anglo-Saxon and later medieval periods - and the nearby small town of Amesbury has existed since at least the 9 century AD.


Tsunami created North Sea 'Atlantis' 8,000 years ago

© The Independent, UK
A prehistoric land mass once connecting Britain to mainland Europe may have been wiped out by a 5m-high tsunami, according to new research.

Some 8,000 years ago, a devastating subsea landslide off the coast of Norway generated a wave which overran the island of Doggerland, a low-lying Atlantis, which is now completely submerged.

"It would have completely inundated the landmass," says Dr Jon Hill, one of the team of researchers from Imperial College London, who have submitted their findings to the journal Ocean Modelling. "Any humans living there would have suffered a catastrophic event."

There could have been inhabitants on the island at the time the waves struck, though this is still unclear from the evidence. The Imperial team's computer models suggest that Doggerland was mostly less than 5m above sea level at the time of the tsunami, suggesting flooding would have been extensive.

The trigger for the tsunami was a landslide named Storegga, where 3,000 cubic km of sediment collapsed in the North Sea.

"That's a lot of sediment," says Dr Hill. "Three hundred times more than all the rivers in the world hold in a year, which is what makes this event so unique. The chances of it happening again are minuscule."


Mysterious buried artifacts discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings

© Image by Przemyslaw Idzkiewicz, CC Attribution share-alike generic 2.5, available on Wikimedia
A view of the Valley of the Kings, the burial place of rulers from Egypt's New Kingdom period (ca. 1550-1070 B.C.), including Merenptah.
Four deposits of artifacts possibly buried as a ritual act of sorts before the construction of a tomb have been discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.

The so-called foundation deposits, arranged in a boxlike shape, contain a mix of artifacts, including the head of a cow, a vase painted in blue and flint blades that have wooden handles that are still preserved after more than three millennia.

The Valley of the Kings was used to bury Egyptian royalty during the New Kingdom (1550 - 1070 B.C.) period. The discovery was made in its "western valley," an area sometimes called the "valley of the monkeys" after a scene depicting 12 baboons was discovered in one of its tombs.

"Previously discovered foundation deposits in the Valley of the Kings have always been associated with a nearby tomb," write Afifi Ghonim and Glen Dash in the abstract of a presentation they gave recently at the Current Research in Egyptology conference in London.


Dozens of mummies discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings


A tomb containing up to 50 mummified remains has been found in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. Pictured can be seen fragments of coffins, cloth and pottery within tomb KV 40. The tomb was used twice, once in the 18th dynasty (14th century BC) and again in the 22nd dynasty (9th century BC)
The charred remains of least 50 mummified Egyptians have been found in a plundered tomb in Cairo.

It is thought most of the bodies were members of the ancient Egyptian elite, and inscriptions suggest the tomb contains a prince and princess, related to two pharaohs who ruled during the 14th century BC.

But excavation wasn't easy because the tomb is covered in soot - from a fire started by grave robbers in the late 19th century.

The find was made during excavations by Egyptologists from the University of Basel Kings' Valley Project close to the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, about 310 miles (500 kilometres) south of Cairo.

Experts identified the burial place of several children as well as other family members of two pharaohs.

The team have been working on tomb KV 40 - where the find was made - close to the city of Luxor for three years.


Ancient Civilizations? Check out these mysterious structures found on the bottom of the ocean floor

© The Truth Wins
In cultures all over the world, there are ancient stories about beautiful, prosperous cities that became submerged in the ocean and were never seen again. The most famous of these is the story of Atlantis, but there are many others. So could it be possible that some of these cities actually exist? In recent years, modern technology has allowed humanity to investigate the ocean floor like never before. As we have done so, we have made some incredible discoveries. You are about to see some amazing mysterious structures that have been found on the bottom of the ocean floor all over the world. Could these mysterious structures actually be evidence of very advanced ancient civilizations? As we learn about these ancient civilizations, will this knowledge turn the conventional version of human history that we all learned in school upside down?

We live at a time when mind blowing discoveries are being made at a pace never seen before. Just last month, I wrote about the megalithic ruins that have just been discovered in Russia that contain the largest blocks of stone ever found (even bigger than Baalbek).

Nobody can explain where those stones came from, who lived there, or how ancient humans could cut and move such massive blocks.

Well, similar things could be said about many of these mysterious structures on the bottom of the ocean floor...


Ancient caribou hunting site discovered beneath Lake Huron

© John O'Shea/University of Michigan
An acoustic image of the ancient caribou hunting site produced via a mosaic of scanning sonar images. (Light colored objects are stones that produce a strong acoustic signature while dark areas are acoustic shadows.)
An elaborate array of linear stone lanes and V-shaped structures has been discovered on an underwater ridge in Lake Huron, marking what is thought to be the most complex set of ancient hunting structures ever found beneath the Great Lakes, according to a new report.

Researchers based at the University of Michigan think the roughly 9,000-year-old-structure helped natives corral caribou herds migrating across what was then an exposed land-corridor - the so-called Alpena-Amberley Ridge - connecting northeast Michigan to southern Ontario. The area is now covered by 120 feet (347 meters) of water, but at the time, was exposed due to dry conditions of the last ice age.

Using underwater sonar and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with a video camera, the researchers found two parallel lines of stones that create a 26-foot-wide (8 meters) and 98 foot-long (30 m) northwesterly-oriented lane that ends in a natural cul-de-sac. The team also found what appear to be V-shaped hunting blinds oriented to the southeast, and a rectangular area that may have been used as a meat cache, according to the researchers. The entire feature spans an area of about 92 feet by 330 feet (28 by 100 m), the team reports. [See Images of Ancient Hunting Structures Under Lake Huron]


How modern humans became weaklings compared with our ancient ancestors who could outrun and outlift today's top athletes


The study looked at skeletons dating back to around 5,300 BC with the most recent to 850 AD - a time span of 6,150 years. Pictured is an early Neolithic (approximately 4000 - 5000 BC) 35-40 year old male from Vedrovice, Czech Republic which was analysed as part of the research
* Human leg bones have grown weaker since farming was invented

* Scientists found bone structure declined after agriculture emerged

* Male farmers 7,300 years ago had legs of cross-country runners

* But just 3,000 years later, they had legs comparable to 'sedentary' students

Mo Farah would have had some tough competition from ancient farmers living 7,300 years ago.

Scientists claim if they were to cross paths, our ancestors would have been capable of outrunning some of the world's most talented athletes.

That's according to recent research by Cambridge University which reveals just how far our fitness has fallen in just a couple of millennia.


Breakthrough on understanding the demographic history of Stone-Age humans

© Göran Burenhult
This image shows osteologists Ove och Evy Persson at Ajvide, Gotland, Sweden, 1983. The skeleton from a young woman dated to 2700 BC.
An international team led by researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University reports a breakthrough on understanding the demographic history of Stone-Age humans. A genomic analysis of eleven Stone-Age human remains from Scandinavia revealed that expanding Stone-age farmers assimilated local hunter-gatherers and that the hunter-gatherers were historically in lower numbers than the farmers. The study is published today, ahead of print, in the journal Science.

The transition between a hunting-gathering lifestyle and a farming lifestyle has been debated for a century. As scientists learned to work with DNA from ancient human material, a complete new way to learn about the people in that period opened up. But even so, prehistoric population structure associated with the transition to an agricultural lifestyle in Europe remains poorly understood.

"For many of the most interesting questions, DNA-information from people today just doesn't cut it, the best way to learn about ancient history is to analyze direct data - despite the challenges," says Dr. Pontus Skoglund of Uppsala University, now at Harvard University, and one of the lead authors of the study.

"We have generated genomic data from the largest number of ancient individuals," says Dr. Helena Malmström of Uppsala University and one of the lead authors. "The eleven Stone-Age human remains were between 5,000 and 7,000 years old and associated with hunter-gatherer or farmer life-styles," says Helena Malmström.

Anders Götherström, who led the Stockholm University team, is satisfied with the amount of DNA that they could retrieve.

"Not only were we able to generate DNA from several individuals, but we did get a lot of it. In some cases we got the equivalent of draft genomes. A population genomic study on this level with a material of this age has never been done before as far as I know."


DNA evidence shows stone age hunter-gatherers shunned farming

© Göran Burenhult
Farmer or hunter-gatherer? Check her DNA
How did farming take over the world? One theory is that farming was such an evidently good idea that it spread on its own. As hunter-gatherers encountered farmers, they were converted to an agricultural way of living. But a large-scale genetic analysis of Stone Age remains in Sweden suggests that this wasn't the case.

Instead, it seems like early farmers and hunter-gatherers had deep-rooted genetic differences. This suggests that European farmers were so successful that they displaced hunter-gatherers as they spread across the continent.

Pontus Skoglund of Uppsala University in Sweden and his colleagues sequenced the DNA from 11 early hunter-gatherers and farmers dating back to between 5000 and 7000 years ago. Four were associated with late Stone Age farming settlements; seven were identified as coastal hunter-gatherers.

DNA analysis showed that the farmers and hunter-gatherers descended from distinct genetic lineages. "It is quite clear that the two groups are very different," says Skoglund. Comparisons with the genes of modern populations revealed them to be more distinct that the genomes of modern Scandinavians and Italians.

Previous analyses of the isotopes in the bones of the 11 Stone Age individuals also showed the hugely different diet the two groups had. The hunter-gatherers relied primarily on seals and fish, while the farmers ate mostly land protein - presumably from the animals that they took care of.