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Sat, 04 Feb 2023
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Oldest known projectile points uncovered in the Americas

Stone projectile points
© Oregon State University
Stone projectile points discovered buried inside and outside of pit features at the Cooper’s Ferry site, Area B.
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University archaeologists have uncovered projectile points in Idaho that are thousands of years older than any previously found in the Americas, helping to fill in the history of how early humans crafted and used stone weapons.

The 13 full and fragmentary projectile points, razor sharp and ranging from about half an inch to 2 inches long, are from roughly 15,700 years ago, according to carbon-14 dating. That's about 3,000 years older than the Clovis fluted points found throughout North America, and 2,300 years older than the points previously found at the same Cooper's Ferry site along the Salmon River in present-day Idaho.

The findings were published today in the journal Science Advances.

"From a scientific point of view, these discoveries add very important details about what the archaeological record of the earliest peoples of the Americas looks like," said Loren Davis, an anthropology professor at OSU and head of the group that found the points. "It's one thing to say, 'We think that people were here in the Americas 16,000 years ago;' it's another thing to measure it by finding well-made artifacts they left behind."

Previously, Davis and other researchers working the Cooper's Ferry site had found simple flakes and pieces of bone that indicated human presence about 16,000 years ago. But the discovery of projectile points reveals new insights into the way the first Americans expressed complex thoughts through technology at that time, Davis said.

Shopping Bag

Exclusive: Afghan government officials helped smugglers sneak almost $1 billion in cash and gold out of Afghanistan as the US-backed government neared collapse, documents show

afghan image
© iStock/Rebecca Zisser/Insider
How corrupt was the US-backed government of Afghanistan? Who was involved and who knew about it? An official investigation into a massive smuggling ring reveals a troubling picture.
During the final months of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as the Taliban advanced on the capital, the elected government struggled to reassure its US patrons that it could maintain control. Yet at the same time, smugglers were illegally carrying hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and gold out of the country with the assistance of officials from within the Afghan government, according to internal government documents and former Afghan officials.

The office of Ashraf Ghani, the US-backed Afghan president, had been informed about the problem, insiders say. But it did nothing to stop it.

Documents assembled by Afghanistan's now-defunct government and obtained by Insider show that $59.7 million in cash and gold went from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan through the port of Hairatan during the first three months of 2021, as the US contemplated withdrawing its forces and the Taliban geared up for the spring offensive that eventually toppled Kabul. During a 13-month period running from May 2019 through May 2020, the total was a staggering $824 million.

Though the couriers failed to declare the money to Afghan officials as it left the country, Uzbek customs agents on the other side of the border did record the cash and gold on handwritten customs forms. Those records were obtained by Afghan anti-corruption officials as part of an investigation into money smuggling, and they form the basis of a scathing report documenting a river of cash flowing out of the impoverished nation.

Much of the money, the Uzbek customs forms show, was bound for the United Arab Emirates, where top Afghan officials would flee when their government collapsed later that year.


Archaeologists discover huge lost Maya civilization in Guatemala

A new survey revealed nearly 1,000 Maya settlements, with pyramids and ballcourts, that date back more than 2,000 years.
© Vice
Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a vast ancient Maya civilization that flourished more than 2,000 years ago in northern Guatemala, reports a new study. This long-lost urban web encompassed nearly 1,000 settlements across 650 square miles, linked by an immense causeway system, which was mapped out with airborne laser instruments, known as LiDAR.

The results of the LiDAR survey "unveiled a remarkable density of Maya sites" in Guatemala's Mirador-Calakmul Karst Basin (MCKB) that "challenges the old notion of sparse early human occupation" in this area during the "Preclassical" period spanning 1,000 BC to 150 AD, according to a study published this month in the journal Cambridge Core.

Scientists led by Richard Hansen, an archaeologist at Idaho State University and the director of the Mirador Basin Project, offer "an introduction to one of the largest, contiguous, regional LiDAR studies published to date in the Maya Lowlands," a region that covers parts of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, according to the study.


168 mysterious new geoglyphs discovered in Peru's Nazca Lines

new geoglyphs
© Yamagata University
About 50 of the large-scale drawings are of human-like figures
Scientists have discovered 168 new geoglyphs in the soil of Peru's desert — almost doubling the known instances of ancient Nazca Lines in the area.

Peruvian and Japanese researchers from Yamagata University spent two years scanning the UNESCO World Heritage site on Peru's southern Pacific coast using aerial photos, drones and field surveys.

The drawings portray humans, camelids, birds, killer whales, felines, snakes and more. About 50 of the large-scale drawings are of human-like figures — with one even resembling Homer Simpson.

While it's hard to know exactly when the geoglyphs were made, clay pots found near the lines point to a time between 100 B.C. and 300 A.D. — between 2,100 and 1,700 years ago.

Most of the Nazca Lines can only be seen from the air, and have mystified scientists for years. But the recently discovered figures are smaller, averaging between 6 feet and 19 feet in length, and can be seen from the ground, Masato Sakai, a professor from Yamagata University who led the study, told Reuters.


PhD student solves 2,500-year-old Sanskrit grammar puzzle

The discovery makes it possible to translate any word written in Sanskrit.

Sanskrit MAnuscript
© Cambridge University Library
A page from an 18th-century copy of Dhātupāṭha by Pāṇini from the Cambridge University Library.
A PhD student studying at the University of Cambridge has solved a puzzle that has stumped scholars since the fifth century BCE. Rishi Rajpopat decoded a rule taught by Pāṇini, an Indian grammarian who is believed to have lived in present-day northwest Pakistan and southeast Afghanistan. Scholars have referred to him as one of the fathers of linguistics.

Sanskrit is an ancient an classical Indo-European language from South Asia and the sacred and literary language of Hinduism. It is also how much of India's greatest science, philosophy, poetry, and other secular literature has been written. It is spoken in the country by roughly 25,000 people today.

"Some of the most ancient wisdom of India has been produced in Sanskrit, and we still don't fully understand what our ancestors achieved, said Rajpopat, who first learned Sanskrit as a high school student and is now at the University of St. Andrews, in a statement. "We've often been led to believe that we're not important, that we haven't brought enough to the table. I hope this discovery will infuse students in India with confidence, pride, and hope that they too can achieve great things."

With Rajpopat's discovery, scholars can now construct millions of grammatically correct words in Sanskrit. The findings were published as Rajpopat's PhD thesis in 2021.


16,500-year-old stone figurine discovered in cave in Turkey

Stone Figurine
© Arkeonews Net
A stone figurine was discovered in a 16500-year-old votive pit belonging to the Epi-paleolithic period, the transition phase from the Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age, during the archaeological excavation carried out in the Gedikkaya Cave in the İnhisar district of Bilecik in northwest Turkey.

With the permission of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums, the rescue excavation started by the Bilecik Museum Directorate in the cave 1 kilometer away from İnhisar continues.

Traces of life were found in the cave at a depth of 180 meters, a height of about 20 meters, and a width of 30 meters, in two sections, the lower and the upper.

Bilecik Şeyh Edebali University (BŞEU) Faculty of Arts and Sciences Archeology Department Lecturer Assoc. Dr. Deniz Sarı, an ongoing study under the scientific consultancy of sheds light on the archeology of the region.

Blue Planet

Goldworking toolkit found in Bronze Age burial near Stonehenge

Stonehenge gold
© Antiquity (2022). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2022.162
A tentative chaîne opératoire for sheet-gold cover working. Diamond-shaped boxes display sourcing, production and maintenance processes. Solid rectangular boxes display production/manufacturing processes evidenced in our analyses. Dashed rectangular boxes show processes implied by the sheet-gold objects (figure produced by R. Crellin, using images produced by C. Tsoraki; photographs courtesy of Wiltshire Museum, Devizes).
Archaeologists have identified a 4000-year-old goldworking toolkit amongst the grave goods from an important Bronze Age burial near Stonehenge.

The toolkit was found at the Upton Lovell G2a Bronze Age burial, which was excavated in 1801 and is now on display at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Leicester, working with experts from the University of Southampton, have re-examined the stone and copper-alloy grave goods found with the burial, revealing they are goldworking tools.

Dr. Christina Tsoraki, Leicester, carried out wear-analysis of the grave goods at the museum in Devizes as part of the 'Beyond the Three Age System' project. In the process, she noticed what appeared to be gold residues on their surfaces. It also became clear that the stone tools had been used for a range of different purposes — some were used like hammers and anvils whereas others had been used to smooth other materials.

Comment: See also:


Tiny flakes tell a story of tool use 300,000 years ago

Tübingen University and Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment team analyze flint chips found in Schöningen, Lower Saxony.
Ancient Tools
© Flavia Venditti
Overview of the flint chips from Schöningen, which were created as "waste" during the re-sharpening of knife-like tools. They are sorted by size in millimeters. In the middle a scale of 3cm.
When prehistoric people re-sharpened cutting tools 300,000 years ago, they dropped tiny chips of flint - which today yield evidence of how wood was processed by early humans. The small flint flakes were discovered at the Lower Paleolithic site of Schöningen, Lower Saxony. Now, a multidisciplinary team led by the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (SHEP) in Tübingen has analyzed this very old material for the information it can provide. The study has been published in Scientific Reports.

The 57 small stone chips and three bone implements for re-sharpening stone tools were discovered around the skeleton of a Eurasian straight-tusked elephant that had died on the shore of a lake about 300,000 years ago. "We can prove, among other things, from these finds that people - probably Homo heidelbergensis or early Neanderthals - were in the vicinity of the elephant carcass," says Dr. Jordi Serangeli, director of the archaeological excavations in Schöningen. "This site is located about two meters below the famous site of the world's oldest spears," he adds.


A union of groups capable of the worst makes World War possible

The Great Dictator chaplin

Scene from The Great Dictator
While we react with fear to the resurgence of fascist, Nazi or Japanese imperial groups, we fail to see that it was not these ideologies that provoked World War, but the alliance of rulers ready for the worst. The same configuration is about to be repeated with other groups. In a few months, if we do not react now, a Third World War may be possible.

The Second World War can serve as a lesson to us. It did not appear in a serene sky. It was not a battle of the Good guys against the Bad guys. It was just triggered by an unforeseen gathering of forces capable of destroying everything.

After the economic crisis of 1929, the whole world was convinced, and rightly so, that the capitalism of that time was over. The Soviet Union alone offered an alternative, Bolshevism. Soon the United States came up with a second alternative, the structural reforms of the New Deal, and then Italy promoted a third alternative, fascism. The great Anglo-Saxon capitalists chose to support a new regime, close to fascism, Nazism. They thought that Germany would attack the USSR, thus preserving their interests threatened by both Bolshevik collectivisations and US economic reforms. However, nothing worked out as planned, since Italy, Germany and Japan formed the Axis with their own logic and the war was not started against the Soviets, but against the great fortunes that prepared it.

Blue Planet

Did devastating drought in Hungary drive Attila and the Huns to attack the Roman Empire?

tree rings
© Shutterstock
A study of tree rings suggests that the Hunnic peoples migrated westward across Eurasia, switched between farming and herding, and became violent raiders in response to severe drought in the Danube frontier provinces of the Roman Empire.

Hungary has just experienced its driest summer since meteorological measurements began, devastating the country's usually productive farmland. Archaeologists now suggest that similar conditions in the 5th century may have encouraged animal herders to become raiders, with devastating consequences for the Roman Empire.

The study, published today in the Journal of Roman Archaeology, argues that extreme drought spells from the AD 430s - 450s, forced Hunnic peoples to adopt new strategies to buffer against severe economic challenges.

Comment: See also: The Seven Destructive Earth Passes of Comet Venus

And check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Who was Jesus? Examining the evidence that Christ may in fact have been Caesar!