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Aztec conquerors reshaped genetic landscape of Mexico

Aztec Skull
© Lisa Overholtzer, Wichita State University
New DNA analysis of the bones from 25 individuals in Xaltocan suggest that the population changed after the Aztec conquest.
The Aztecs who conquered the city of Xaltocan in ancient Mexico around 1435 may have fundamentally changed the genetic makeup of the people who lived there, new research suggests.

The study, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, showed that maternal DNA from 25 residents of Xaltocan prior to the conquest did not match that found after.

The findings may help shed light on a long-standing debate over whether the original Otomi people who lived in Xaltocan before the conquest either abandoned the site or were assimilated into Aztec life.

"We're telling a story that's more complicated and nuanced," said study author Lisa Overholtzer, an archaeologist at Wichita State University in Kansas.

"We don't think there was a population replacement but we do think there was a demographic shift associated with the Aztec conquest."
Pharoah

Human sacrificial skull mound in Mexico puzzles experts

© AP Photo/Christopher Y. Morehart
In this June 20, 2012 image courtesy of Christopher T. Morehart released on Jan. 31, 2013, archaeologists work at the site where skulls were found in a field in Xaltocan, near the Teotihuacan pyramids in central Mexico. Georgia State University archaeologist Christopher Morehart found about 150 skulls of human sacrifice victims in this field, one of the first times that such a large accumulation of severed heads has been found outside of a major pyramid or temple complex in Mexico.
Archaeologists say they have turned up about 150 skulls of human sacrifice victims in a field in central Mexico, one of the first times that such a large accumulation of severed heads has been found outside of a major pyramid or temple complex in Mexico.

Experts are puzzled by the unexpected find of such a large number of skulls at what appears to have been a small, unremarkable shrine. The heads were carefully deposited in rows or in small mounds, mostly facing east toward the rising sun, sometime between 660 and 860 A.D., a period when the nearby city-state of Teotihuacan had already declined but the Aztec empire, founded in 1325, was still centuries in the future.

Georgia State University archaeologist Christopher Morehart, who found the skulls last year in Xaltocan, a farming village just north of Mexico City, said that between 150 and 200 adult skulls or their equivalent in bone parts have been excavated so far from fields that stand on a former lake bed.

Experts weren't expecting to find anything of this kind in the flat, undistinguished pasture land and corn fields. The site is near, but not immediately adjacent to, Teotihuacan, one of the biggest pre-Hispanic cities. It reached its height between 100 B.C. and A.D. 750 and was abandoned by the time the Aztecs arrived in the area in the 1300s.
Question

Film has unique view of Oak Island

Oak Island
© Herald News
Oak Island has been the site of numerous excavations to recover treasure believed by many to be buried there.
Bridgewater - Petter Amundsen looks upon the beautiful fresh snow that has blanketed the world around the Evangelical Lutheran chapel, where he plays the organ.

It's an incongruous setting, given the conversation in which he is engrossed.

Amundsen is in Norway, where his day job as chapel organist means he has played for King Harald V and Queen Sonja. But he's talking about what has gripped his heart for the last 10 years - uncovering the secrets of Oak Island in Mahone Bay.

His efforts culminated in a film released in Norway last year that will be shown in London this spring, but the amateur cryptologist is making plans to show it beforehand in Nova Scotia.

The film will debut in 40 theatres in England beginning April 23, though Amundsen would like a screening in Chester on April 13, a year to the day after its release in Norway.

Amundsen has made three trips to film on Oak Island since 2003, the most recent in 2011. He believes the movie will generate interest in Oak Island and boost tourism in the region.
Sherlock

Crop circles are no hoax, concludes historian after studying Google Earth's new 1945 overlay


A crop circle in Halesowen. Greg Jefferys estimates this one to be about ten meters in diameter. He points out the shadow on its south east perimeter corresponds precisely with the shadows cast by the trees and hedges and that the quality of the image is high enough to show there are no tracks through the grain crop leading to or from the crop circle
Crop circles dating back to 1945 are proof the phenomenon is no modern hoax, a Tasmanian historian claims.

The mystery of the increasingly intricate patterns was supposedly solved after several high-profile cases were revealed to be the work of artists and mischief-makers armed with barrels, planks of wood and plenty of spare time.

Credit for the hoaxes has been laid largely at the feet of pranksters Dave Chorley and Doug Bower, who in 1991 announced they had been pulling the wool over people's eyes since 1978.

(FYI, crop circles have also been blamed on unusual weather patterns, top secret military experiments and, er, stoned wallabies.)
Rocket

The NAZI origins of NASA

Full spectrum dominance: The Nazi-American race to control space

Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II (1939/45). It was executed by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), and in the context of the burgeoning SovietAmerican Cold War (1945/91) one purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific knowledge and expertise to the USSR.

Although the JIOAs recruitment of German scientists began after the European Allied victory (8 May 1945), US President Harry Truman did not formally order the execution of Operation Paperclip until August 1945. Truman's order expressly excluded anyone found to have been a member of the Nazi Party, and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazi militarism. Said restriction would have rendered ineligible most of the scientists the JIOA had identified for recruitment, among them rocket scientists Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph, and the physician Hubertus Strughold, each earlier classified as a menace to the security of the Allied Forces.

To circumvent President Trumans anti-Nazi order, and the Allied Potsdam and Yalta agreements, the JIOA worked independently to create false employment and political biographies for the scientists. The JIOA also expunged from the public record the scientists' Nazi Party memberships and régime affiliations. Once bleached of their Nazism, the US Government granted the scientists security clearance to work in the United States. Paperclip, the projects operational name, derived from the paperclips used to attach the scientists new political personæ to their US Government Scientist JIOA personnel files.
Info

Did rise of ancient human ancestor lead to new stone tools?

Ancient Tools
© PNAS
Scientists have unearthed more than 350 ancient tools in Konso, Ethiopia that were used by humans' ancient ancestors. The tools, which span roughly 1 million years of evolution, show a gradual progression to more refined shaping.
Scientists have unearthed and dated some of the oldest stone hand axes on Earth. The ancient tools, unearthed in Ethiopia in the last two decades, date to 1.75 million years ago.

The tools roughly coincided with the emergence of an ancient human ancestor called Homo erectus, and fossilized H. erectus remains were also found at the same site, said study author Yonas Beyene, an archaeologist at the Association for Research and Conservation of Culture in Ethiopia.

Collectively, the finding suggests an ancient tool-making technique may have arisen with the evolution of the new species.

"This discovery shows that the technology began with the appearance of Homo erectus," Beyene told LiveScience. "We think it might be related to the change of species."

The findings were described today (Jan. 28) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Bizarro Earth

Destruction of Timbuktu manuscripts is an offence against the whole of Africa

© Photograph: Sebastien Cailleux/Corbis
Libraries like the Ahmed Baba institute were rescuing Africa's history from oblivion.
This was an assault on world heritage comparable with the demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001

The reported destruction of two important manuscript collections by Islamist rebels as they fled Timbuktu is an offence to the whole of Africa and its universally important cultural heritage. Like their systematic destruction of 300 Sufi saints' shrines while they held Timbuktu at their mercy, it is an assault on world heritage comparable with the demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001.

The literary heritage of Timbuktu dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries when the gold-rich kingdoms of Mali and Songhai traded across the Sahara with the Mediterranean world. It took two months for merchant caravans to cross the desert, and while gold and slaves went north, books were going south.
R2-D2

Scientists strive to save dying spoken language of Jesus

British scientists are attempting to preserve the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus and tied to Hebrew and Arabic.

Professor of linguistics at the University of Cambridge, Geoffrey Khan, has begun a quest to record the ancient language that's been around for three thousand years before it finally disappears.

Prof Khan decided to record the language after speaking to a Jew from Erbil in northern Iraq. "It completely blew my mind," Khan told Smithsonian.com.
Info

Mass human sacrifice? Pile of ancient skulls found

Mexican Artifact
© Christopher Morehart
An artifact depicting Tlaloc, a Pre-Columbian water god, was found at the human sacrifice site at Lake Xaltocan, Mexico.
Archaeologists have unearthed a trove of skulls in Mexico that may have once belonged to human sacrifice victims. The skulls, which date between A.D. 600 and 850, may also shatter existing notions about the ancient culture of the area.

The gruesome find, described in the January issue of the journal Latin American Antiquity, was located in an otherwise empty field that once held a vast lake, but was miles from the nearest major city of the day, said study co-author Christopher Morehart, an archaeologist at Georgia State University.

"It's absolutely remarkable to think about this little nothing on the landscape having potentially evidence of the largest mass human sacrifice in ancient Meso-America," Morehart said.
Sherlock

Archeologists revise image of ancient Celts: 2,600-year-old grave suggest they were much more sophisticated than previously thought

The Celts were long considered a barbaric and violent society. But new findings from a 2,600-year-old grave in Germany suggest the ancient people were much more sophisticated than previously thought. The little Bettelbühl stream on the Danube River was completely unknown, except to local residents. But that changed in the summer of 2010 when a spectacular discovery was made just next to the creek.
Not far from the Heuneburg, the site of an early Celtic settlement, researchers stumbled upon the elaborate grave of a Celtic princess. In addition to gold and amber, they found a subterranean burial chamber fitted with massive oak beams. It was an archeological sensation that, after 2,600 years, the chamber was completely intact.

The wooden construction was preserved by the constant flow of water from the Bettelbühl stream. "In dry ground, the wood wouldn't have had a chance to survive over so many centuries," said Nicole Ebinger-Rist, the director of the research project handling the find.
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