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Italy's Shaky Past Hidden in Ancient Records

Italian Quake
© USGS
The shaking intensity of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck L'Aquila, Italy on April 6, 2009.
Amid weeks of endless tremors, in a central Italian city already destroyed by an earthquake, two warring factions laid down their arms, signed a truce and took cover in their huts. The earthquake of Dec. 3, 1315, had stunned the men of L'Aquila into retreat. It was a sign, they believed, that their years-long war should immediately end.

Nearly 700 years later, a historical seismologist at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology uncovered that treaty and used it, along with hundreds of other historical documents, to piece together the seismic history of central Italy's Abruzzo region.

The history that Emanuela Guidoboni and her team found was a tumultuous one: Hundreds of quakes have rocked Abruzzo over the last two millennia. Guidoboni's group believes its findings, which span 15 centuries, will help improve seismic hazard calculations for this quake-prone region.
Blackbox

Could there have been Ceratopsian dinosaurs in Pre-Columbian South America?

Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly! Its tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are close-knit. Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like rods of iron. It ranks first among the works of God...Job 40

Ceratopsian dinosaur skull
Evidence indicating the historical presence of ceratopsian dinosaurs in South America within the last 1,000 years would be controversial for at least two reasons; one, ceratopsian dinosaurs are thought by modern science to have been extinct for 65 million years and two, science at most only recognizes the presence of one type of ceratopsian dinosaur on that entire continent.

Ceratopsian dinosaurs were, vegetarian, quadruped, frilled and horned dinosaurs whose fossils have been found primarily in North America, Asia and Europe. Incidentally, they also had tails like a cedar; Certainly much thicker than that of the hippo which some believe is described in the book of Job.

Unusual identifying features for this dinosaur include the rostral bone which gives its face a beak like appearance and the jugal bones which scientists most often depict as bones protruding from the side of the animals face. Ceratopsia is derived from the Greek for "horned face".

Only one species has been identified from fossils in South America, Notoceratops and the scant fossils upon which that tentative identification was based have since been lost.
Question

Severed Hands Discovered in Ancient Egypt Palace

Severed Hand
© Axel Krause
A severed right hand discovered in front of a Hyksos palace at Avaris (modern-day Tell el-Daba). It would have been chopped off and presented to the king (or a subordinate) in exchange for gold. This discovery is the first archaeological evidence of the practice. At the time they were buried, about 3,600 years ago, the palace was being used by King Khayan. The Hyksos were a people believed to be from northern Canaan, they controlled part of Egypt and made their capital at Avaris on the Nile Delta.
A team of archaeologists excavating a palace in the ancient city of Avaris, in Egypt, has made a gruesome discovery.

The archaeologists have unearthed the skeletons of 16 human hands buried in four pits. Two of the pits, located in front of what is believed to be a throne room, hold one hand each. Two other pits, constructed at a slightly later time in an outer space of the palace, contain the 14 remaining hands.

They are all right hands; there are no lefts.

"Most of the hands are quite large and some of them are very large," Manfred Bietak, project and field director of the excavations, told LiveScience.

The finds, made in the Nile Delta northeast of Cairo, date back about 3,600 years to a time when the Hyksos, a people believed to be originally from northern Canaan, controlled part of Egypt and made their capital at Avaris a location known today as Tell el-Daba. At the time the hands were buried, the palace was being used by one of the Hyksos rulers, King Khayan. [See Photos of the Buried Hands]
Question

Lost Egyptian Pyramids Found?

Lost Pyramids_1
© Angela Micol
The site near Abu Sidhum contains four mounds with a larger, triangular-shaped plateau.
Two possible pyramid complexes might have been found in Egypt, according to a Google Earth satellite imagery survey. Located about 90 miles apart, the sites contain unusual grouping of mounds with intriguing features and orientations, said satellite archaeology researcher Angela Micol of Maiden, N.C.

One site in Upper Egypt, just 12 miles from the city of Abu Sidhum along the Nile, features four mounds each with a larger, triangular-shaped plateau.

The two larger mounds at this site are approximately 250 feet in width, with two smaller mounds approximately 100 feet in width.

The site complex is arranged in a very clear formation with the large mound extending a width of approximately 620 feet -- almost three times the size of the Great Pyramid.

"Upon closer examination of the formation, this mound appears to have a very flat top and a curiously symmetrical triangular shape that has been heavily eroded with time," Micol wrote in her website Google Earth Anomalies.

Intriguingly, when zooming in on the top of the triangular formation, two circular, 20-foot-wide features appear almost in the very center of the triangle.
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Ancient Mayans May Have Sacrificed Earliest Domestic Turkeys

Jaguar Paw Temple
© Photo courtesy of the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Brigham Young University
North face of the Jaguar Paw Temple, in the Tigre Complex at El Mirador, Guatemala, showing the east mask, stairway, and upper landing during excavations by Project El Mirador. Most of the Preclassic turkey bones were associated with this building.
The bones of Mexican turkeys discovered at a Mayan archaeological site in Guatemala may push back the domestication of this gobbler by 1,000 years, researchers say.

The find is also the oldest evidence for a Mexican turkey (Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo) in the Mayan world, with signs that the bones are the remains of an elite sacrifice or a feast, said lead researcher Erin Thornton, of the Florida Museum of Natural History and Trent University Archaeological Research Centre in Ontario.

"I did not expect to find Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo at the site as the species is not local to the Maya area," Thornton said. "The birds were likely traded in."

Trading turkeys

Turkeys served important roles for the Maya, including for food and sacrificial offerings. Their feathers, bones and other byproducts were often used to make medicines, musical instruments, personal adornments and tools. However, until this discovery, scientists assumed the Maya only used the native, wild ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) throughout the Preclassic to Classic period that ended in A.D. 1000.
Magic Wand

Archaeologists claim objects are earliest 'matches'

© Unknown
The tell tale scratches on the "matches" led researchers to believe they were used to start fires
Researchers from Israel say that mysterious clay and stone artefacts from Neolithic times could be the earliest known "matches".

Although the cylindrical objects have been known about for some time, they had previously been interpreted as "cultic" phallic symbols.

The researchers' new interpretation means these could be the earliest evidence of how fires were ignited.

The research was published in the open access journal Plos One.

The journal reports that the artefacts are almost 8,000 years old.

Fire starters

Although evidence of "pyrotechnology" in Eurasia is known from three quarters of a million years ago, this evidence usually takes the form of remnants of fire itself.

"We have fire evidence in modern humans and Neanderthals, from charcoal, ashes and hearths, but there was nothing ever found that was connected with how you ignite the fire," lead author Prof Naama Goren-Inbar of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem told BBC News.
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Mexican Archaeologists Discover 'Unprecedented' Aztec Burial

Aztec Tomb
© Reuters
Archaeologists work on human bones found at the Templo Mayor in the heart of Mexico City.
Mexican archaeologists say they have found an unprecedented human burial in which the skeleton of a young woman is surrounded by piles of 1,789 human bones in Mexico City's Templo Mayor.

Researchers found the burial about five metres (15ft) below the surface, next to the remains of what may have been a sacred tree at one edge of the plaza, the most sacred site of the Aztec capital.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said the find was the first of its kind, noting the Aztecs were not known to use mass sacrifice or the reburial of bones for the interment of a member of the ruling class.

University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the project, called the find "unprecedented for the Aztec culture".

She said on Tuesday that when the Mayas interred sacrifice victims with royal burials, but they were usually found as complete bodies. And, except for special circumstances, the Aztecs, unlike other pre-Hispanic cultures, usually cremated members of the elite during their rule from 1325 to the Spanish conquest in 1521.

"Although the bodies of sacrificial victims have been found in burials of elite persons in Mesoamerica going back to at least the preclassic period, funerary deposits for Aztec elites have only rarely been encountered," said Gillespie.
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New Flat-Faced Human Species Possibly Discovered

Skull
© Photo by Fred Spoor
Four decades ago, in 1972, the Koobi Fora Research Project (KFRP) discovered the enigmatic fossilized skull known as KNM-ER 1470, or "1470" for short, which ignited a now long-standing debate about how many different species of early Homo lived alongside Homo erectus during the Pleistocene epoch. Shown here, 1470's cranium combined with the new lower jaw KNM-ER 60000; both are thought to belong to the same species. The lower jaw is shown as a photographic reconstruction, and the cranium is based on a computed tomography scan.
New fossils from the dawn of the human lineage suggest our ancestors may have lived alongside a diversity of extinct human species, researchers say.

Although modern humans, Homo sapiens, are the only human species alive today, the world has seen a number of human species come and go. Other members perhaps include the recently discovered "hobbit" Homo floresiensis.

The human lineage, Homo, evolved in Africa about 2.5 million years ago, coinciding with the first evidence of stone tools.

For the first half of the last century, conventional wisdom was that the most primitive member of our lineage was Homo erectus, the direct ancestor of our species.

However, just over 50 years ago, scientists discovered an even more primitive species of Homo at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania they dubbed Homo habilis, which had a smaller brain and a more apelike skeleton.

Now fossils between 1.78 million and 1.95 million years old discovered in 2007 and 2009 in northern Kenya suggest that early Homo were quite a diverse bunch, with at least one other extinct human species living at the same time as H. erectus and H. habilis.

"Two species of the genus Homo, our own genus, lived alongside our direct ancestor, Homo erectus, nearly 2 million years ago," researcher Meave Leakey at the Turkana Basin Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, told LiveScience.
Sherlock

Five hundred year old Mexican burial and "sacred" tree found by Mexican archaeologists

A 500 year old burial, with the complete skeleton of an individual, surrounded by more than a thousand human bones of children, teenagers and adults, was found recently by specialists from the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH - Conaculta) in the Historical Center of Mexico City, close to the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. This finding is unique, claimed the archaeologist Raúl Barrera Rodríguez, who is responsible for the Urban Archaeology Program (PAU) of the INAH. There had been other multiple burials before in Mexican culture, but this is the first one in which the main skeleton was found accompanied by osseous human pieces of different age groups. Raúl Barrera Rodríguez also explained that besides the osseous remains, a circular structure of tezontle was found.

It contained a log which, determined by its location, should have belonged to one of the sacred trees associated to the Huitzilopochtli tributary temple, and given its circular platform - found in 2011 - it was determined that it is one of the five cuauhxicalco (ceremonial buildings) that were held in the sacred area of Tenochtitlan. The discoveries occurred during the work that was being done in a property named Plaza Manuel Gamio for the creation of an access hall to the Archaeological Zone and the Great Temple's Museum.
Boat

Divers in northern Italy discover a Roman trading ship, believed to be 2000 years old

For 2000 years the ancient and decomposing hulk lay buried in deep, muddy waters, off the Italian coast. Everybody knew it was down there because for more than 80 years local fishermen had been collecting bits of Roman artefacts and pots in their nets. Finds of this nature are not unusual in Italian waters, which are littered with treasures going back thousands of years.

Residents knew riches lay beneath because local fishermen had been collecting artefacts in their nets.
But these artefacts told a different story, and it was good enough to attract the interest of the archaeological community and a police commander who heads an expert diving squad in the city of Genoa.

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