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Grey Alien

'Alien' skulls found at Sonora, Mexico, ancient burial site

© CRISTINA GARCIA / INAH
An ancient burial site in Mexico, discovered in 1999 but only recently investigated, has revealed skeletal remains with odd, "alien-shaped" skulls.

They were unearthed in the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora at a site known as "El Cementerio" when workers stumbled upon the remains accidentally while digging to install an irrigation system. According to Time, the bones date to between A.D. 940 and 1308, making them around 1,000 years old.

The skulls appear to have been intentionally deformed until they resembled something akin to the "Coneheads," the fictional alien family made famous on "Saturday Night Live" in the late 1970s.

"This was an Hispanic cemetery with 25 skulls, and 13 of them have deformed heads," Cristina Garcia Moreno, a researcher from Arizona State University who worked on the project, told ABC News. "We don't know why this population specifically deformed their heads."
Question

Is Israel hiding the secret source of Christianity?

Caiaphus Ossuary
© Israel Antiquities Authority
Caiaphus Ossuary.
Were the final resting-places of the family and disciples of Jesus discovered 30 years ago and then hidden as part of a religious-political conspiracy?

The archaeological controversy swirling around two Roma-era burial tombs in Jerusalem refuses to die. Indeed, it has become something of an ugly academic slugfest.

In one corner stands the Israeli archaeological establishment represented by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Professor Amos Kloner of Bar-Ilan University, backed by various respected archaeologists and scholars. In the other stands Simcha Jacobovici, the filmmaker and self-styled "Naked Archaeologist," backed by another group of respected archaeologists and scholars.

In 1981, Prof Kloner led an archaeological survey of a 1st-century burial tomb in East Talpiot, Jerusalem, that was exposed during construction works in the area. Prof Kloner was able to spend only a few minutes inside the tomb before he was chased away by a group of ultra-orthodox Jews who objected to the disturbance of what they suspected were Jewish graves. A number of stone burial boxes or ossuaries were left inside the tomb and it was resealed, eventually hidden under the patio of a newly-built apartment.

The tomb briefly inspected by Kloner was very close to another tomb from the same era that been exposed during construction work a year earlier. That tomb contained 10 ossuaries, of which nine are in the IAA store rooms including ones with inscriptions identifying them as containing the bones of "Yehoshua bar Yoseph", "Miriam", and "Yehuda bar Yeshua (Jesus)".
Pharoah

Oldest known depiction of pharaoh found

Royal Boat Procession
© Stan Hendrickx, John Coleman Darnell and Maria Carmela Gatto
The scene with the royal boat procession. Heavily damaged, the carving has been virtually restored.
The oldest known representation of a pharaoh has been found carved on rocks at a desert site in southern Egypt, according to new research into long forgotten engravings.

Found on vertical rocks at Nag el-Hamdulab, four miles north of the Aswan Dam, the images depict a pharaoh riding boats with attendant prisoners and animals in what is thought to be a tax-collecting tour.

"We don't know with certainty who the king represented at Hamdulab is. We can guess on paleographic and iconographic grounds," Maria Carmela Gatto, associate research scholar in Egyptology at Yale University and co-director of thee Aswan-Kom Ombo archaeological project in Egypt, told Discovery News.

Indeed, the style of the carvings suggests that the images were made at a late Dynasty date, around 3200-3100 B.C. This would have been the reign of Narmer, the first king to unify northern and southern Egypt, thus regarded by many scholars as Egypt's founding pharaoh.
Bacon

Ice Age California saber-toothed cats didn't starve into extinction

© American Museum of Natural History
The fearsome felines of the Ice Age in California don't show signs of starving immediately before their extinction. Teeth of saber-toothed cats and the American lions didn't have wear marks that would have suggested the cats were gnawing on bones in hunger near the time of the cats' extinctions.

"Tooth wear patterns suggest that these cats were not desperately consuming entire carcasses, as was expected, and instead seemed to be living the 'good life' during the late Pleistocene, at least up until the very end," said lead author Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University in a press release.

Tooth wear patterns did reveal previously unknown differences in the two cat species behavior. Saber-toothed cats, also known as Smilodon, appeared to have regularly crunched bones, and showed no increase in this dietary distinction toward the end of their reign, which spanned from 30,000 to 10,000 years ago. American lions however, were more finicky and seem to have avoided bones, much as modern cheetahs do.
Question

The little-known legend of Jesus in Japan

Burial Ground
© Jensen Walker / Getty Images
The burial ground to what some claim is Jesus' final resting place.
On the flat top of a steep hill in a distant corner of northern Japan lies the tomb of an itinerant shepherd who, two millennia ago, settled down there to grow garlic. He fell in love with a farmer's daughter named Miyuko, fathered three kids and died at the ripe old age of 106. In the mountain hamlet of Shingo, he's remembered by the name Daitenku Taro Jurai. The rest of the world knows him as Jesus Christ.

It turns out that Jesus of Nazareth - the Messiah, worker of miracles and spiritual figurehead for one of the world's foremost religions - did not die on the cross at Calvary, as widely reported. According to amusing local folklore, that was his kid brother, Isukiri, whose severed ear was interred in an adjacent burial mound in Japan.

A bucolic backwater with only one Christian resident (Toshiko Sato, who was 77 when I visited last spring) and no church within 30 miles, Shingo nevertheless bills itself as Kirisuto no Sato (Christ's Hometown). Every year 20,000 or so pilgrims and pagans visit the site, which is maintained by a nearby yogurt factory. Some visitors shell out the 100-yen entrance fee at the Legend of Christ Museum, a trove of religious relics that sells everything from Jesus coasters to coffee mugs. Some participate in the springtime Christ Festival, a mashup of multidenominational rites in which kimono-clad women dance around the twin graves and chant a three-line litany in an unknown language. The ceremony, designed to console the spirit of Jesus, has been staged by the local tourism bureau since 1964.

The Japanese are mostly Buddhist or Shintoist, and, in a nation of 127.8 million, about 1 percent identify themselves as Christian. The country harbors a large floating population of folk religionists enchanted by the mysterious, the uncanny and the counterintuitive. "They find spiritual fulfillment in being eclectic," says Richard Fox Young, a professor of religious history at the Princeton Theological Seminary. "That is, you can have it all: A feeling of closeness - to Jesus and Buddha and many, many other divine figures - without any of the obligations that come from a more singular religious orientation."
Info

Maori are not the indigenous people of New Zealand

David Rankin
© The Northern Advocate
David Rankin of Ngapuhi.
The status of Maori as the country's indigenous population could be in danger if research, which suggests previous civilisations lived in New Zealand before Maori arrived, is proved true.

Ngapuhi leader David Rankin said books by authors such as investigative journalist Ian Wishart and historian Noel Hilliam presented "clear evidence" that some of New Zealand's earliest residents might have arrived before the Polynesians.

He pointed to numerous Maori oral histories which referred to people being here when the first Maori arrived, including fair-skinned people.

"If we believe our histories, then we as Maori are not the indigenous people of New Zealand."

The archaeological evidence in some research was a potential challenge to the status of Maori as indigenous, which was why he believed no other Maori was prepared to speak publicly on the issue, Mr Rankin said.
USA

Oliver Stone's 'Untold History of the United States': World War Two

World War II -- "Narrated by Oliver Stone, this new one-hour series features human events that at the time went under reported, but crucially shaped America's unique and complex history. The first chapter explores the birth of the American Empire by focusing on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Through examination of key decisions during World War II, discover unsung heroes such as American Henry Wallace and explore the demonization of the Soviets."

Snow Globe

Rudolph and our early ancestors - a love story

Ice age reindeer
© Discott
Ice Age carving of two swimming reindeer made from the tip of a mammoth tusk.

Reindeer are almost mythical creatures. They are associated with Santa Claus and sleighs, with the idea of a Scandinavian icy white Christmas that is far more magical than the reality we normally experience in warmish, wettish Britain.

But for me there's also something very special about reindeer because they are survivors from the Ice Age, clinging on when so many other magnificent large mammals died out at the end of the Pleistocene, through climate change or human hand or a bit of both. They are animals that were important to our ancestors, and animals that are still revered by the Siberian tribes who have a long history of hunting and herding them.

I first visited the icy north of Siberia five years ago while making a BBC documentary about ancient human migrations. We were filming with indigenous Siberians of the Evenki tribe, and staying in a remote reindeer-herders camp - living in tents that were kept warm with larch stoves while it was a bone-chilling -40C outside. (The stoves went out overnight and in the morning I would wake up to find my eyelashes stuck together with ice.)

There were reindeer all around us in the snowy, sparse larch forest. At night, they came in, walking cautiously around our tents, the thick fur behind their large hooves muffling their footsteps. One morning I wandered off into the forest to answer a call of nature. A single pure-white reindeer followed me. I wandered further and further with the reindeer following me a few paces behind. It felt as though I had made some kind of connection with this beautiful, ethereal creature. After I had done what I'd come for, I started to make my way back to camp, and wondered if the reindeer would follow me back. He didn't. Instead, he started tucking into the yellow snow I'd created. The mystical moment was shattered. He wanted nothing more than a few salts from my urine. Later I discovered that this apparently common behaviour was enshrined in a Siberian myth about the domestication of the first reindeer: a woman who went for a wee managed to catch and tame a reindeer who, like mine, had been after the yellow snow.
Wreath

Birth of Jesus celebrated in 'wrong Bethlehem'

Bethlehem Jesus
© AP
A woman lights candles in the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

Each year, Christians flock from all over the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, but archaeologists believe they are in the wrong place.

Instead, Jesus was more likely to have been born in Bethlehem of the Galilee, a hillside village in northern Israel, The Times reports.

Aviram Oshri, an Israeli archaeologist, told the paper that the genuine site of the Nativity had been mistaken by thousands.

"Bethlehem in the Galilee was inhabited by Jews at the time of Jesus, whereas the other Bethlehem? There is no evidence that it was a living site, an inhabited area in the first century."

Mr Oshri has found some evidence that Jewish purification rituals took place in Bethlehem of the Galilee around the time Jesus was born. The village is also less than five miles from Nazareth, Jesus's childhood home.
Magnify

Unique 2,000-year-old Roman theatre discovered in Faversham, U.K.

roman theater

Theatres were unheard of in Britain before the arrival of the Romans. This illustration depicts a theatre near St Albans that would have been used around the same time as the Faversham cockpit theatre.
Roman remains reveal first British example of ancient cockpit-style theatre

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a Bronze Age Roman theatre - dating back 2,000 years.

Dr Paul Wilkinson, founder of the Kent Archaeological Field School, believes it is the first of its kind to be found in Britain.

The theatre with a nearly circular cockpit-style orchestra, which would have seated 12,000 people. It was found in Faversham, Kent - just behind Dr Wilkinson's back garden where his field school is based.

Theatres were unheard of in Britain before the arrival of the Romans. This illustration depicts a theatre near St Albans that would have been used around the same time as the Faversham cockpit theatre

The site shows activity dating back to the Bronze Age, but it is the Roman theatre - which would have been used for religious occasions - that has really excited history buffs.

Dr Wilkinson is fighting to preserve the unique find for future generations and has applied for it to become an ancient monument site.

He said: 'It really is an amazing find, the first one in Britain, and it is just beyond my garden. This is a unique and wonderful discovery, not only for Faversham but for all of Britain.

'The theatre could have held 12,000 people and we are going to request for it to become an ancient monument site because it is so important and we can preserve it for future generations.
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