Secret History


Most of the harmful mutations in human genes arose in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years

© Wiki Commons
Spectrum of human genetic diversity today is vastly different from only 200 to 400 generations ago

A study dating the age of more than 1 million single-letter variations in the human DNA code reveals that most of these mutations are of recent origin, evolutionarily speaking. These kinds of mutations change one nucleotide - an A, C, T or G - in the DNA sequence. Over 86 percent of the harmful protein-coding mutations of this type arose in humans just during the past 5,000 to 10,000 years.

Some of the remaining mutations of this nature may have no effect on people, and a few might be beneficial, according to the project researchers. While each specific mutation is rare, the findings suggest that the human population acquired an abundance of these single-nucleotide genetic variants in a relatively short time.
"The spectrum of human diversity that exists today is vastly different than what it was only 200 to 400 generations ago," said Dr. Joshua Akey, associate professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is one of several leaders of a multi-institutional effort among evolutionary geneticists to date the first appearance of a multitude of single nucleotide variants in the human population.

4,000-year-old irrigation system unearthed in China

Ancient Irrigation System
© Want China Times
The protective dam of the irrigation system found in Chengdu. (Internet photo).
An ancient irrigation system that dates back 4,000 years has been unearthed in Chengdu in southwestern China's Sichuan province, according to the city's municipal museum on Thursday.

The system, with a 147-meter-long bank protective dam, was discovered at a real estate construction site in the Wenjiang district of the city.

The dam is 14 m wide at the bottom, 12 m at the top and 1.3 m high with eight grooves dug by hand.

The remains of five houses and 54 tombs were discovered on the east side of the dam, which is evidence that the dam was built to protect the community, according to the museum.

The dam is the earliest irrigation system in the area along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, said Wang Yi, curator of the museum.

It is 2,000 years older than the Dujiangyan irrigation system, a world cultural heritage site near Chengdu, he said.

Sinking the Lusitania: An act of mass murder by the banksters

Sinking The Lusitania_1
© Fools Crow Blog
Lusitania on fire.
On this day 99 years ago, a German U-boat sunk the RMS Lusitania off the southern Irish coast with the loss of 1,195 lives, including 128 Americans. 94 children perished, 31 of them mere babies. This incident became the major catalyst for drawing a reluctant America into the European slaughter pens of World War 1.

But was the sinking of the Lusitania one of those unfortunate acts that occur randomly during war or was there a more sinister and deliberate hand at work?

In a disputed incident like this, one often gets to the truth of the matter by asking the question, "Cui bono?" "Who benefits?" After a detailed examination of the facts, one can only come to the conclusion that it was the banksters who benefitted, and grossly at that.

The RMS Lusitania was one of the world's biggest ships and the pride of the Cunard Line at the time of her demise. "RMS" stands for "Royal Mail Steamer" which meant that the Lusitania was certified to carry the mail, earning her owners an annual fee of some £68,000.

At the time of her final voyage, leaving New York for Liverpool on May 1st, 1915, Europe was embroiled in war. Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom to be a war-zone and German U-boats were wreaking havoc on enemy shipping. 300,000 tons of Allied shipping were sunk every week and one out of every four steamers leaving Britain never returned. Britain was virtually cut off from her allies and her waters were fraught with danger.

Archaeologists discover 5,600-year-old tomb in Egypt

Ancient Tomb
© Photograph courtesy of NebRaatMa
A 5,600-year-old tomb containing the scattered bones of a skeleton has been unearthed by archaeologists in southern Egypt, says Ali El-Asfar, head of the ancient Egyptian section at the country's antiquities ministry.

A 32cm ivory statue of a bearded man, 10 ivory combs, and a number of tools and weapons were also found in the tomb by the Hierakonpolis Expedition team led by Renee Friedman.

The tomb was constructed before the Dynasty of the Pharaohs and unification of Upper Egypt, which stretched along the Red Sea, and Lower Egypt, to the north on the coast of the Mediterranean, and should provide some incites into pre-dynastic Egyptian rituals.

The discovery was made at Hierakonpolis, ancient Egyptian Nekhen and capital of Upper Egypt, which was a vibrant and bustling city that stretched over 3km along the Nile river.

500-year-old vampire grave unearthed in Polish marketplace

Vampire Grave
© Lydia Smith/IB Times
Archaeologists have discovered the grave of a suspected vampire in Kamien Pomorski, northwestern Poland.

The body, which dates back to the 16th century, was unearthed during a dig in a marketplace in the town, situated in the West Pomeranian Province.

As reported in, the team found unusual features which indicated the burial site was vampiric.

The teeth, or "fangs" had been removed and a fragment of rock had been inserted into the mouth. In addition, his leg had been staked in order to prevent the body from rising from its grave.

Slawomir Gorka, who led the dig, said: "A piece of brick rubble in the mouth and pierced thigh indicates that it is a vampire burial. This was done not for him, but for the community, who lived here."

Gorka added that the same rituals were common in burials in the Kamien Pomorski area between the 13th and 17th centuries. The body was buried in the cemetery next to the town church.

Mysterious writing in rare 16th-century Homer identified

Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana
© University of Chicago Library
The mysterious notes scrawled in a 1504 edition of Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana donated to the University of Chicago Library have been identified. As suspected by the book's donor, the curling, 150-year-old script is a form of French shorthand in use in the 19th century.

In order to identify the script, the library was offering a US$1000 bounty to the first person who could provide a translation with supporting evidence for their claim. The winner was one Daniele Metilli, a digital humanities student at the Archivio di Stato di Milano who has hopes for a career as an archival librarian.

Working with colleague Giulia Accetta, who is proficient in contemporary Italian stenography and fluent in French, Metilli identified the script as a form of shorthand invented by shorthand author Jean Coulon de Thévénot in the late 18th century. The shorthand notes in the text are mostly French translations of Greek phrases from the Odyssey.

Ancient bones show signs of struggle with coeliac disease

© Soprintendenza ai Beni Archeologici della Toscana
The skeleton of a woman who lived in Tuscany 2,000 years ago shows signs of malnutrition and perhaps of an attempt to avoid certain foods.
If going gluten-free seems hard now, try doing it in ancient Rome. A well-heeled young woman with coeliac disease tried to adapt her diet in an unsuccessful effort to cope with gluten sensitivity, studies of her remains suggest.

The woman's remains were buried in a 2,000-year-old tomb at the Cosa archaeological site on the Tuscan coast in Italy. The ancient Roman city's economy depended on growing wheat and olives and was not particularly prosperous, yet archaeologists discovered gold and bronze jewellery entombed alongside the woman's bones. They concluded that she was relatively wealthy and would have had access to plenty of food.

Yet the skeleton of the woman - who researchers estimate was 18 - 20 years old - bore signs of malnutrition and osteoporosis. Both can be complications of untreated coeliac disease, which is characterized by a severe allergic reaction to gluten in the intestinal lining. Many of the woman's bones were eroded at the tips, and she would have stood just 140 centimetres (4 feet, 7 inches) tall.

Azerbaijani historian's sensational discovery

Chirik Rabat
© Azernews
The famous Issyk inscription found in 1969 is not the only example of the Scythian-Saka written language.

The news was announced by employee of the Azerbaijan's Archaeology and Ethnography Institute Zaur Hasanov who talked to local media.

In addition to the inscriptions of the Issyk kurgan, two inscriptions of the Scythian period were discovered in Kazakhstan, the scientist said.

Found by prominent Kazakh scientist Zholdasbek Kurmankulov as a result of some excavations in 2005 in the ancient Scythian-Saka settlement, now known as Chirik Rabat, they date back to 4-2 centuries BC.

The first amphora-shaped vessel was found in the ruins of the temple. Five signs are incised on it - one on the top of the vessel and four others beneath it.

The second vessel was discovered in a tomb with burial place, together with a long iron sword. At the head of the body there was a ceramic flask with an inscription which begins with an ideogram and is followed by five signs.

The ideogram and five signs in these two vessels are similar to the signs of the Issyk inscription, the scientist said.

Older than Nazca: Mysterious rock lines marked way to ancient Peru fairs

Ancient Lines_1
© Charles Stanish
Mono B on the day before solstice (June 20) in 2013. A marker points to the solstice sunset.
New rock lines discovered in Peru predate the famous Nazca Lines by centuries and likely once marked the site of ancient fairs, researchers say.

The lines were created by people of the Paracas, a civilization that arose around 800 B.C. in what is now Peru. The Paracas culture predated the Nazca culture, which came onto the scene around 100 B.C. The Nazca people are famous for their fantastic geoglyphs, or rock lines, built in the shapes of monkeys, birds and other animals.

The new lines date to around 300 B.C., making them at least 300 years older than the oldest Nazca lines, said Charles Stanish, the director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who reported the new find today (May 5) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"They used the lines in a different way than the Nazca," Stanish told Live Science. "They basically created these areas of highly ritualized processions and activities that were not settled permanently."

The closest European analog, Stanish said, would be the medieval fairs that brought visitors from far and wide.

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.