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Sun, 05 Dec 2021
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Ancient DNA rewrites early Japanese history

Ancient DNA extracted from human bones has rewritten early Japanese history by underlining that modern day populations in Japan have a tripartite genetic origin - a finding that refines previously accepted views of a dual genomic ancestry.
Jomon Pottery and Skull
© Shigeki Nakagome, Lead researcher, Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin.
Jomon pottery from the Hirajo shell midden (Late Jomon) and a skull from which ancient DNA was extracted.
Twelve newly sequenced ancient Japanese genomes show that modern day populations do indeed show the genetic signatures of early indigenous Jomon hunter-gatherer-fishers and immigrant Yayoi farmers - but also add a third genetic component that is linked to the Kofun peoples, whose culture spread in Japan between the 3rd and 7th centuries.

The eye-opening research has just been published in leading international journal Science Advances .

Blue Planet

Whale hunting and 'magic mushroom people' seen on 2,000 year old, northernmost petroglyphs in Eurasia

Chukotka petroglyphs
© Institute of Archaeology RAS
Archaeologists are rushing to preserve rock images of ancient ‘magic mushroom whale-hunting’ people, and other stunning petroglyphs in Eurasia’s most northerly art gallery at Pegtymel, Chukotka, dating to 2,000 years ago.
Whale hunting, reindeers crossing rivers, dogs chasing a brown bear for an ancient hunter, dancing men and women with huge 'fly agaric' mushrooms on their heads - these stunning, dynamic and expressive petroglyphs are one of the least studied on Earth. They are also the only rock art in Russia discovered above the Arctic Circle.

The spectacular art gallery - scientists found 350 stone planes, each with dozens of drawings - was 'opened' at least two thousand years ago, when ancient artists embossed petroglyphs on rocks of what is now Chukotka, Russia's easternmost corner.

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


China's mysterious Sanxingdui ruins reveal more stunning relics

© Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute
A gold mask unearthed from Sanxingdui Ruins: Chinese cultural relic authorities on Thursday revealed some new discoveries from the mysterious Sanxingdui Ruins in Sichuan Province, including a gold mask, a huge bronze mask, bronze statues and ivory carvings.
A complete gold mask 37.2 centimeters wide, 16.5 centimeters high and about 100 grams in weight was unearthed from No.3 Pit of the Sanxingdui Ruins, the local cultural relic authority announced on Thursday.

The golden mask shares a similar size and the same facial features as one of the bronze heads unearthed at the Sanxingdui Ruins.

"We speculate that this golden mask was a part of the face of the bronze head instead of a separate object," Ran Hongling, head of the Sanxingdui Institute of Archaeology, told the Global Times.

Comment: Wikpedia has some excellent images of some of the other previously excavated, bizarre and fascinating finds from Sanxingdui:

© Tyg728/Wikipedia
A large bronze head with protruding eyes believed to be a depiction of Cancong, the semi-legendary first king of Shu[8]

Bronze Tree
© Wikipedia/momo
The figure is hollow inside with a total height of 2.62 m and the height of the human part measures 1.72 m.

The figure wore three layers of clothing with a ribbon, and bracelets on both hands and feet. It is generally believed that this figure was a king and shaman leader, that is, the highest authority assumed the triple status of god, shaman and king.
The figure has oversize hands and was clearly intended to hold some large object, now lost. Possibilities include a jade cong or an elephant tusk, both found in the pits.
See also:


900-year-old cosmic mystery surrounding Chinese supernova of 1181AD solved

1181AD Supernova
© The University of Manchester
A 900-year-old cosmic mystery surrounding the origins of a famous supernova first spotted over China in 1181AD has finally been solved, according to an international team of astronomers.

New research published today (September 15, 2021) says that a faint, fast expanding cloud (or nebula), called Pa30, surrounding one of the hottest stars in the Milky Way, known as Parker's Star, fits the profile, location and age of the historic supernova.

There have only been five bright supernovae in the Milky Way in the last millennium (starting in 1006). Of these, the Chinese supernova, which is also known as the 'Chinese Guest Star' of 1181AD has remained a mystery. It was originally seen and documented by Chinese and Japanese astronomers in the 12th century who said it was as bright as the planet Saturn and remained visible for six months. They also recorded an approximate location in the sky of the sighting, but no confirmed remnant of the explosion has even been identified by modern astronomers. The other four supernovae are all now well known to modern day science and include the famous Crab nebula.

The source of this 12th century explosion remained a mystery until this latest discovery made by a team of international astronomers from Hong Kong, the UK, Spain, Hungary and France, including Professor Albert Zijlstra from The University of Manchester. In the new paper, the astronomers found that the Pa 30 nebula is expanding at an extreme velocity of more than 1,100 km per second (at this speed, traveling from the Earth to the Moon would take only 5 minutes). They use this velocity to derive an age at around 1,000 years, which would coincide with the events of 1181AD.


Roman port discovered underwater off north-eastern Crete

roman port underwater crete
© Greek Ministry of Culture
The underwater remains of a Roman-era port at Sitia, Crete were documented as part of ongoing archaeological research this past year.
Treasures from the Roman era of Greek history were discovered recently at the bottom of the sea near the old Roman port at Sitia on the Gulf of Palekastro on the Greek island of Crete.

The underwater research, undertaken by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in the Gulf of Palekastro was completed in August.

For the first time, the remains of a shipwreck were found in the form of a number of stunningly lovely amphorae from the second century AD, resting on the seabed as they had been loaded onto a ship that researchers believe most likely originated from the Iberian Peninsula.


Bone tools used to produce clothing in Morocco 120,000 years ago says study

Skinned for Fur
© Jacopo Niccolò Cerasoni 2021
Carnivores were skinned for fur, and bone tools were then used to prepare the furs into pelts.
A new study led by Arizona State University paleoanthropologist Curtis Marean and ASU doctoral graduate Emily Hallett details more than 60 tools made of bone and one tool made from the tooth of a cetacean, which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. These finds, first unearthed from Contrebandiers Cave, Morocco, in 2011, are highly suggestive proxy evidence for the earliest clothing in the archaeological record and attest to the pan-African emergence of complex culture and specialized tool manufacture.

The invention of clothing, and the development of the tools needed to create it, are milestones in the story of humanity. Not only are they indicative of strides in cultural and cognitive evolution, archaeologists also believe they were essential in enabling early humans to expand their niche from Pleistocene Africa into new environments with new ecological challenges. However, as furs and other organic materials used to make clothing are unlikely to be preserved in the archaeological record, the origin of clothing is still poorly understood.

The current study published this week in iScience, which reports on a worked bone assemblage found near the Atlantic Coast of Morocco, provides strong evidence for the manufacture of clothing as far back as 120,000 years ago.

As part of her research with the Institute of Human Origins and the Lise Meitner Pan-African Evolution Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH), Hallett was studying the vertebrate remains from Contrebandiers Cave deposits dating from 120,000 to 90,000 years ago.


Another look at 9/11: Ask not 'What happened?' but 'Who did it?'

9/11 terror attack
© Flickr/ Cyril Attias
The evidence of Israeli involvement is substantial, based on the level of the Jewish state's espionage operations in the U.S., Phil Giraldi writes.

The twentieth anniversary of 9/11 last Saturday has raised many of the usual issues about what actually happened on that day. Were hijacked airliners actually crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or was the damage in New York City attributable to explosives or even some kind of nuclear device? These are fundamental questions and the so-called "Truthers" who raise them have been inspired by their reading of the 585 page 9/11 Report, which is most charitably described as incomplete, though many would reasonably call it a government cover-up.

I have long believed that unless one actually sees or experiences something first hand the description of any event is no better than hearsay. The closest I came to "seeing" 9/11 was the panicked evacuation of a CIA office building, where I was working at the time. Another related bit of 9/11 narrative also came from two close friends who were driving into work at the Pentagon when they each independently observed what appeared to be a large plane passing over their cars and striking the building. I consider the sources credible but was it an airplane or a missile? And I was not there to see it with my own eyes, so I am reluctant to claim that my friends actually saw something that in retrospect might have been misconstrued.

Comment: And there's every reason to believe that Mossad & co. are still at it: Forbes asks: 'Was Israel responsible for the Beirut explosion?'

See also: And check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: No Ordinary Inside Job - The 9/11 Psy-Ops


Milk enabled massive steppe migration

Wild Horses
© A. Senokosov
Horses in the Eurasian steppes: Already 5000 years ago, they served pastoralists as a source of milk and a means of transportation. In this way, populations managed to migrate to unusually distant areas.
The Yamnaya, one of the the earliest pastoralist populations of the Eurasian steppe, began expanding out of the Pontic-Caspian steppe more than 5000 years ago. These migrations resulted in gene flow across vast areas, ultimately linking pastoralist populations in Scandinavia with groups that expanded into Siberia. Just how and why these pastoralists travelled such extraordinary distances in the Bronze Age has remained a mystery. Now a new study led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has revealed a critical clue. The Bronze Age migrations seem to coincide with a simple but important dietary shift - the adoption of milk drinking.

The researchers drew on a humble but extraordinary source of information from the archaeological record - they looked at ancient tartar (dental calculus) on the teeth of preserved skeletons. By carefully removing samples of the built-up calculus, and using advanced molecular methods to extract and then analyse the proteins still preserved within this resistant and protective material, the researchers were able to identify which ancient individuals likely drank milk, and which did not.

Their results surprised them. "The pattern was incredibly strong," observes study leader and palaeoproteomics specialist Dr. Shevan Wilkin, "The majority of pre-Bronze Age Eneolithic individuals we tested - over 90% - showed absolutely no evidence of consuming dairy. In contrast, a remarkable 94% of the Early Bronze Age individuals had clearly been milk drinkers."


Prehistoric humans rarely mated with their cousins

Scientists screened 1,785 ancient human genomes from the last 45,000 years for parental relatedness.
Ancient DNA
© MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology
The researchers screened DNA extracted from ancient human remains for the genomic signs of parental relatedness.
At present-day, more than ten percent of all global marriages occur among first or second cousins. While cousin-marriages are common practice in some societies, unions between close relatives are discouraged in others. In a new study, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and the University of Chicago investigated how common close parental relatedness was in our ancestors.

The researchers re-analyzed previously published DNA data from ancient humans that lived during the last 45,000 years to find out how closely related their parents were. The results were surprising: Ancient humans rarely chose their cousins as mates. In a global dataset of 1,785 individuals only 54, that is, about three percent, show the typical signs of their parents being cousins. Those 54 did not cluster in space or time, showing that cousin matings were sporadic events in the studied ancient populations. Notably, even for hunter-gatherers who lived more than 10,000 years ago, unions between cousins were the exception.

To analyze such a large dataset, the researchers developed a new computational tool to screen ancient DNA for parental relatedness. It detects long stretches of DNA that are identical in the two DNA copies, one inherited from the mother and one from the father. The closer the parents are related, the longer and more abundant such identical segments are. For modern DNA data, computational methods can identify these stretches with ease. However, the quality of DNA from bones that are thousands of years old is, in most cases, too low to apply these methods. Thus, the new method fills the gaps in the ancient genomes by leveraging modern high-quality DNA data. "By applying this new technique we could screen more than ten times as many ancient genomes than previously possible", says Harald Ringbauer from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the lead researcher of the study.


Sequence of hand and footprints may be oldest art

Oldest Artwork
© Cornell Chronicle
Researchers discovered what is possibly the world's oldest artwork, rendered here in a three-dimensional scan, on a rocky promontory at Quesang on the Tibetan Plateau in 2018.
An international collaboration has identified what may be the oldest work of art, a sequence of hand and footprints discovered on the Tibetan Plateau. The prints date back to the middle of the Pleistocene era, between 169,000 and 226,000 years ago - three to four times older than the famed cave paintings in Indonesia, France and Spain.

To answer the question, "is it art?" the team turned to Thomas Urban, research scientist in the College of Arts and Sciences and with the Cornell Tree Ring Laboratory.

"The question is: What does this mean? How do we interpret these prints? They're clearly not accidentally placed," said Urban, a co-author of the paper, "Earliest Parietal Art: Hominin Hand and Foot Traces from the Middle Pleistocene of Tibet," published Sept. 10 in Science Bulletin.

"There's not a utilitarian explanation for these. So what are they?" Urban said. "My angle was, can we think of these as an artistic behavior, a creative behavior, something distinctly human. The interesting side of this is that it's so early."

The project was led by David Zhang of Guangzhou University in collaboration with researchers from Bournemouth University, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Education University of Hong Kong, Institute of Geology and University of Minnesota.