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New evidence shows ancient hunters stayed in frozen Northern Europe rather than migrate to warmer areas

Digging for Bones
© Universioty of Exeter
The team digging in search of bones for analysis
Ancient hunters stayed in the coldest part of Northern Europe rather than migrating to escape freezing winter conditions, archaeologists have found.

Evidence from Arctic fox bones show communities living around 27,500 years ago were killing small prey in the inhospitable North European Plains during the winter months of the last Ice Age.

Researchers have found no evidence of dwellings, suggesting people only stayed for a short time or lived in tents in the area excavated, Kraków Spadzista in Southern Poland - one of the largest Upper Palaeolithic sites in Central Europe. Until now it wasn't clear if people retreated elsewhere each winter to avoid the intense cold.

Dr Alexander Pryor, from the University of Exeter, who led the study, said: "Our research shows the cold harsh winter climates of the last ice age were no barrier to human activity in the area. Hunters made very specific choices about where and when to kill their prey."

Inhabitants of Kraków Spadzista around 27,500 years ago killed and butchered large numbers of woolly mammoths and arctic foxes at the site. For the first time, the research team were able to reconstruct details of how the foxes were moving around in the landscape before they died, and also what time of the year they died, through analysing the internal chemistry and growth structures of their tooth enamel and roots.

The analysis of teeth from four of the 29 hunted foxes show each was born and grew up in a different location, and had migrated either tens or hundreds of kilometres to the region before being killed by hunters - by snares, deadfalls or other trapping methods - for both their thick warm furs as well as meat and fat for food. The carcasses were brought back to the site to be skinned and butchered.

Cloud Grey

Climate change implicated in downfall of Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilization

This figure shows the settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization during different phases of its evolution. RIT Assistant Professor Nishant Malik developed a mathematical method that shows climate change likely caused the rise and fall of the ancient civilization.
This figure shows the settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization during different phases of its evolution. RIT Assistant Professor Nishant Malik developed a mathematical method that shows climate change likely caused the rise and fall of the ancient civilization.

A Rochester Institute of Technology researcher developed a mathematical method that shows climate change likely caused the rise and fall of an ancient civilization. In an article recently featured in the journal Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, Nishant Malik, assistant professor in RIT's School of Mathematical Sciences, outlined the new technique he developed and showed how shifting monsoon patterns led to the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization, a Bronze Age civilization contemporary to Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.

Comment: Correlation is not causation, and there are a number of other disciplines that bring valuable information to the table, because, as noted in How did the Harrappan civilization avoid war for 2,000 years?, climate change wasn't the only challenge the IVC was struggling with:
Add to this drought the fact that the cities had already been over-farming, and it's likely that starvation began driving people away from Harappa. There is also ample evidence that people in the cities were suffering from tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. The one-two punch of famine and plague left the region depopulated.
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Bulb

Biden teaches history: 'A black guy invented the light bulb, not a white guy named Edison'

joe biden mask
On Thursday, noted historian and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reinvented history as he preached at a church, pontificating, "People fear that's, which, that which is different. We gotta, for example, why in God's name don't we teach history in history classes? A black guy invented the light bulb, not a white guy named Edison."


Uh .... no.

Despite Biden's false notion of history, genuine historians would point out that Thomas Edison did indeed invent the incandescent light bulb. As The Department of Energy wrote in 2013 under the Obama administration:
In 1835, the first constant electric light was demonstrated, and for the next 40 years, scientists around the world worked on the incandescent lamp, tinkering with the filament (the part of the bulb that produces light when heated by an electrical current) and the bulb's atmosphere (whether air is vacuumed out of the bulb or it is filled with an inert gas to prevent the filament from oxidizing and burning out). These early bulbs had extremely short lifespans, were too expensive to produce or used too much energy.

When Edison and his researchers at Menlo Park came onto the lighting scene, they focused on improving the filament — first testing carbon, then platinum, before finally returning to a carbon filament. By October 1879, Edison's team had produced a light bulb with a carbonized filament of uncoated cotton thread that could last for 14.5 hours. They continued to experiment with the filament until settling on one made from bamboo that gave Edison's lamps a lifetime of up to 1,200 hours — this filament became the standard for the Edison bulb for the next 10 years. Edison also made other improvements to the light bulb, including creating a better vacuum pump to fully remove the air from the bulb and developing the Edison screw (what is now the standard socket fittings for light bulbs).
Biden may have been referring to Lewis Latimer; LiveScience adds, "Several months after the 1879 patent was granted, Edison and his team discovered that a carbonized bamboo filament could burn for more than 1,200 hours. Bamboo was used for the filaments in Edison's bulbs until it began to be replaced by longer-lasting materials in the 1880s and early 1900s. In 1882, Lewis Howard Latimer, one of Edison's researchers, patented a more efficient way of manufacturing carbon filaments."

Blue Planet

'Upside down houses' built for the dead in Stone Age tomb in Orkney

Maeshowe

Maeshowe
A study of the Maeshowe tomb by the University of the Highlands and Islands has suggested that the side chambers of the tomb are styled upside-down, as inverted netherworlds for the dead to pass on into the afterlife.

Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave, built around 2800 BC on the mainland of the Orkney Islands in Scotland. Maeshowe is one of the island's largest tombs, consisting of a large mound reaching a height of 24 feet that encases a complex of passages and chambers built from crafted slabs of flagstone.

The interior contains a 36-foot-long passageway that leads to a central square shaped chamber, illuminated on the winter solstice in similarity to the grand passage tomb of Newgrange found in Ireland.

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Fish

Trove of undersea figurines point to ancient Phoenician cult

Phoenician
© Jonathan J. Gottlieb
Three 2,500-year-old Phoenician figurines recovered from the Mediterranean. The leftmost and center figurines carry a symbol associated with Tanit, a mother goddess of the Phoenician pantheon.
In 1972, in one of the early finds of marine archaeology, researchers discovered a trove of clay figurines on the seabed off the coast of Israel. The figurines — hundreds of them, accompanied by ceramic jars — were assumed to be the remains of a Phoenician shipwreck that had rested under the Mediterranean for 2,500 years.

The artifacts were never fully analyzed in a scientific study, and were filed away and mostly forgotten for decades. But a new analysis by Meir Edrey, an archaeologist at the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, and his colleagues indicates that the items were not deposited all at once in a wreck. Rather, they accumulated over roughly 400 years, between the 7th and 3rd centuries B.C., in a series of votive offerings, as part of a cult devoted to seafaring and fertility.

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Cheese

Lactose tolerance spread throughout Europe in only a few thousand years

skull
© Stefan Sauer/Tollense Valley Project
The human ability to digest the milk sugar lactose after infancy spread throughout Central Europe in only a few thousand years.
This is the conclusion reached by an international research team led by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The researchers analyzed genetic material from the bones of individuals who had fallen in a conflict around 1200 B.C. on the banks of the Tollense, a river in the present-day German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and report their findings in Current Biology this week.

The researchers found that only around one in eight of the assumed warriors had a gene variant that enabled them to break down the lactose in milk. "Of the present-day population living in this same area, around 90 percent have this lactase persistence," explained population geneticist Professor Joachim Burger of JGU, the lead author of the study. "This is a huge difference when you consider that there cannot be many more than 120 human generations between then and today." Aside from lactase persistence and a few other genetic variants, the genomes of the Tollense people are similar to that of today's inhabitants of northern Germany and the Baltic Sea region.

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Info

Study of the death beliefs of Bronze Age people

Ancient Burial
© Tees Archaeology
Burial of a woman from Windmill Fields, Stockton-upon-Tees, accompanied by skulls and limb bones from at least 3 people. The 3 people represented by the skulls and long bones had died 60-170 years before the woman with whom they were buried.
Using radiocarbon dating and CT scanning to study ancient bones, researchers have uncovered for the first time a Bronze Age tradition of retaining and curating human remains as relics over several generations.

While the findings, led by the University of Bristol and published in the journal Antiquity, may seem eerie or even gruesome by today's convention, they indicate a tangible way of honouring and remembering known individuals between close communities and generations some 4,500 years ago.

"Even in modern secular societies, human remains are seen as particularly powerful objects, and this seems to hold true for people of the Bronze Age. However, they treated and interacted with the dead in ways which are inconceivably macabre to us today," said lead author, Dr Thomas Booth, who carried out the radiocarbon dating work at the university's School of Chemistry.

"After radiocarbon dating Bronze Age human remains alongside other materials buried with them, we found many of the partial remains had been buried a significant time after the person had died, suggesting a tradition of retaining and curating human remains."

"People seem to have curated the remains of people who had lived within living or cultural memory, and who likely played an important role in their life or their communities, or with whom they had a well-defined relationship, whether that was direct family, a tradesperson, a friend or even an enemy, so they had a relic to remember and perhaps tell stories about them," said Dr Booth.

Fireball 5

The long history of comet phobia

he Book of Miracles, c. 1550
© Wikimedia Commons
The Book of Miracles, c. 1550.
Nowadays, the appearance of a comet, like the recently soaring NEOWISE, is likely to inspire wonder and excitement. But for much of human history, a comet was more likely to inspire blood-curdling fear.

"Almost always in classical times comets were regarded as portents, generally as warnings of dire events," writes historian Duane Koenig. (They were also sometimes "harbingers of happy things," like the birth of heroes, prophets, or kings.)

Ancient records show that thousands of years ago, "Persians and Koreans viewed comets as of evil nature and often [announced] war with the country in whose direction the tail pointed," writes Koenig. Over in Rome, comets were an object of fear and worship. Historian Geraldine Herbert-Brown finds that Pliny the Elder paid "particular attention to comets, and the terror they had caused humans in the course of history." According to Pliny, a comet would appear at "crucial intervals" starting in 49 BCE, "glaring terribly when Nero succeeded Claudius, and then continuously throughout Nero's principáte."

Comets — also called "bearded stars" — were consistently seen as bad news for rulers. Around 70 CE, the Roman emperor Vespasian was cautioned about a comet. "He contended the bearded star did not concern him because he was bald. It threatened his neighbor, the king of the Parthians, who was hairy," writes Koenig.

Archaeology

'Mammoth central' found at Mexico's Santa Lucia airport construction site

mammoth fossils mexico city
© Marco Ugarte / Associated Press
Paleontologists work Thursday to preserve the skeleton of a mammoth discovered at the construction site of Mexico City’s new Santa Lucia airport.
The number of mammoth skeletons recovered at an airport construction site north of Mexico City has risen to at least 200, with a large number still to be excavated, experts said Thursday.

Archaeologists hope the site that has become "mammoth central" — the shores of an ancient lakebed that both attracted and trapped mammoths in its marshy soil — may help solve the riddle of their extinction.

Experts said that finds are still being made at the site, including signs that humans may have made tools from the bones of the lumbering animals that died somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.

There are so many mammoths at the site of the new Santa Lucia airport that observers have to accompany each bulldozer that digs into the soil to make sure work is halted when mammoth bones are uncovered.

Galaxy

A warning from history: The Carrington event was not unique

Carrington

Drawings of the Carrington sunspot by Richard Carrington on Sept. 1, 1859, and (inset) Heinrich Schwabe on Aug. 27, 1859.
[Ref]

On Sept. 1st, 1859, the most ferocious solar storm in recorded history engulfed our planet. It was "the Carrington Event," named after British scientist Richard Carrington, who witnessed the flare that started it. The storm rocked Earth's magnetic field, sparked auroras over Cuba, the Bahamas and Hawaii, set fire to telegraph stations, and wrote itself into history books as the Biggest. Solar. Storm. Ever.

But, sometimes, what you read in history books is wrong.

"The Carrington Event was not unique," says Hisashi Hayakawa of Japan's Nagoya University, whose recent study of solar storms has uncovered other events of comparable intensity. "While the Carrington Event has long been considered a once‐in‐a‐century catastrophe, historical observations warn us that this may be something that occurs much more frequently."

Comment: Taking into account Electric Universe theory, it's notable that Wikipedia's entry for the year 1770 records that on July 1st Lexell's Comet (D/1770 L1) passed Earth at a distance of 2184129 km, the closest approach by a comet in recorded history. The extreme solar storm of 1770 is thought to have occurred just over a month later.

In Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, Pierre Lescaudron details the electrical interaction involved between a comet and the Sun, and, considering the 1770 time frame above, the following excerpt could go some way towards explaining the occurrence of the powerful sunspot and subsequent geomagnetic storm:
Because of their highly eccentric orbits, the trajectory followed by most comets is almost perpendicular to the Sun's electric field. This means that the surrounding electric potential rapidly changes during the comet's journey across the solar system.1 This subjects the comet to increasing electric stress brought on by increasing electric potential difference between the comet and its surrounding space. This imbalance in electric potential triggers massive solar discharges and comet outbursts [...]

1 Thornhill, W. & Talbott, D., The Electric Universe, p. 90-95
In our own time, when we consider how many comets have been recorded in our skies of late, our entry into a grand solar minimum, that Earth's weakening geomagnetic field has reached an all time low - which serves to shield our planet from incoming space weather - an extreme solar storm event similar to any of those mentioned above is highly possible and could be a catastrophe for our planet as we know it.

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