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Thu, 24 Sep 2020
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Embossed stone blocks from King Ramses II reign discovered in Egypt

Embossed Stone Block
© Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
Archaeologists conducting a rescue project have discovered several embossed stone blocks and statues from the reign of King Ramses II and Egypt's Coptic era.

The rescue project is being conducted by the Supreme Council of Archaeology near the ancient capital of Memphis, in the modern-day town of Mit Rahina. The embossed blocks from Ramesses II's reign were made from pink and black granite, and limestone along with a statue of the pharaoh himself. Researchers believe that the limestone blocks that date from the Coptic era (Late Roman Egypt and Byzantine Egypt) was recycled stonework repurposed for later structures.

Ramesses II also known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Ramesses was regarded as one of the most powerful pharaohs of the New Kingdom, who led several military campaigns into the Levant and Nubia, and constructed various cities, temples, and monuments.


Collapse of ancient economy in the grip of plague and climate change revealed by grape pips

© Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain
A team of archeologists from Bar-Ilan University and the University of Haifa has discovered new and compelling evidence for a significant economic downturn on the fringe of the Byzantine Empire in the aftermath of a major pandemic in the mid-sixth century CE. The research reconstructs the rise and fall of commercial viticulture in the middle of Israel's arid Negev desert using evidence about life during that period found in an unexpected place: the trash.

While countries grapple with the new reality imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many researchers look to the past for historical precedents such as the Spanish flu of 1918 and the Black Plague of the 14th century. The first historically attested wave of what later became known as the Black Plague (caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis) spread throughout the Byzantine Empire and beyond, in 541 CE. Known as Justinianic Plague, after the emperor Justinian who contracted the disease but survived, it caused high mortality and had a range of socio-economic effects. Around the same time, an enormous volcanic eruption in late 535 or early 536 CE marked the beginning of the coldest decade in the last 2000 years (another volcano of similar proportions erupted in 539 CE). However, scholars disagree as to just how far-reaching and devastating the mid-sixth century epidemic and climate change were. This scholarly debate is unsurprising, considering that even today, leaders and policymakers around the world differ on the severity and correct response to COVID-19, not to mention climate change. One reason that hindsight is not 20/20 when it comes to ancient plagues is that ancient reports tend to exaggerate or underrepresent the human tolls, while archeological evidence for the social and economic effects of plague are very hard to find.

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Blue Planet

Mediterranean Sea was warmer during the Roman Empire, warmest period of the last 2,000 years

mediterranean warm

The study identifies the Roman period (1-500 AC) as the warmest period of the last 2,000 years. Map A shows the central-western Mediterranean Sea. Red triangle shows the location of the sample studied, while the red circles are previously-found marine records used for the comparison. Map B shows the Sicily Channel featuring surface oceanographic circulation and sample location. Black lines follow the path of surface water circulation
The Mediterranean Sea was 3.6°F (2°C) hotter during the Roman Empire than other average temperatures at the time, a new study claims.

The Empire coincided with a 500-year period, from AD 1 to AD 500, that was the warmest period of the last 2,000 years in the almost completely land-locked sea.

The climate later progressed towards colder and arid conditions that coincided with the historical fall of the Empire, scientists claim.

Comment: When followed the warm period was much more devastating: 536 AD: Plague, famine, drought, cold, and a mysterious fog that lasted 18 months

Spanish and Italian researchers recorded ratios of magnesium to calcite taken from skeletonized amoebas in marine sediments, an indicator of sea water temperatures, in the Sicily Channel.

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Blue Planet

Earliest confirmed case of smallpox found in bones from Denmark to Russia during Viking era

Viking grave
© Thames Valley Archaeological Services/PA
Massacred 10th century Vikings are seen having been found in a mass grave, at St John's College, Oxford
The Vikings are known for their intrepid seafaring, fearsome fighting and extensive trading, but it seems it may not only have been goods and weapons they carried on their travels - they could also have carried a deadly disease.

Researchers say they have found the world's earliest confirmed case of smallpox, revealing the disease was widespread across northern Europe during the Viking age.

"I think it is fair to assume the Vikings have been the superspreaders," said Eske Willerslev, professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Cambridge and director of the Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre at the University of Copenhagen, who led the research.

Comment: Indeed, there is evidence that there were connections between Nordic countries and Egypt even back then: Beads found in Nordic grave reveal trade connections with Egypt 3,400 years ago

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Genetic data piece together origins of African Americans

African American
© joshlaverty / Getty Images
Until less than two centuries ago, millions of people were forcibly removed from Africa by European colonisers and taken across the Atlantic to become slaves in the Americas.

Helping to unravel the pervasive, ongoing impacts of this enslavement, an extensive population genetic study has added to historical records gathered by the slave trade database, concurring with them overall but adding some new insights.

"For millions of people in the Americas, the story of the transatlantic slave trade is the story of their ancestral origins," says Steven Micheletti from 23andMe in Sunnyvale, US, and lead author of the study published in The American Journal of Human Genetics.

The team, which included a researcher from the University of Leicester, UK, analysed genetic data from more than 50,000 people on both sides of the Atlantic, working closely with historians, scholars of African American studies and other geneticists.

As predicted, they found strong genetic connections between people of the Americas and African regions where more people were enslaved, most with roots in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

But a closer look revealed multiple deviations from the group's expectations, says Micheletti.

One discovery was that most US-based African Americans tend to have high Nigerian ancestry, even though relatively small numbers of their enslaved ancestors were taken directly to the US from present-day Nigeria.


A canal in Nicaragua: Russia's powerful blow to the US

Canal and boat
© Unknown
When all of this is over and the smoke clears, the first thing China will think about is how to respond to the US for all that it has done to good Chinese citizens. And for sudden trade wars, and for exercises off the coast of the Celestial Empire, and for Hong Kong, and now, most importantly, for COVID-19. These lords of the Pacific at first imported it into Wuhan, and under the plausible pretext in the form of participation in the World Games, and then China was accused of hiding the virus worldwide, as well as its further distribution.

And the answer in the modern world is no longer with missiles and tanks. The United States itself demonstrated that weapons, in the words of the famous political scientist Sergey Kurginyan, "have become much more effective than the atomic bomb."

First place belongs to the bioweapon - and the coronavirus showed it. Whereas it is nearly impossible to prove who initiated the provocation and world aggression. And let no one be misled by the number of cases in the United States - it's like saying: what, it's them who infected themselves so massively? The fact is that ordinary American citizens are worth just as much to those who started all this as ordinary Chinese citizens.

I.e., nothing!


How the Cold War (still ongoing), actually started

truman nukes atomic energy
© Flickr/Nuclear Regulatory Commission
President Truman signs the Atomic Energy Act on August 1 1946.
This will be the first-ever credible, or "historical," but brief, account of how the Cold War actually began, and of why it started, and of why it continues today (even though it started on the basis of lies which have long-since become exposed but — for reasons which will become obvious — the exposing of which lies remains hidden from the public, so that 'history' can be preserved, and the public thus remains deceived).


To understand today's world, an introduction is needed first that summarizes what World War II (the Cold War's predecessor) was actually all about, in geostrategic terms:

The key decision-makers who coordinated together, in order to defeat the three fascist powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy, in WWII, were America's Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), Britain's Winston Churchill, and the Soviet Union's Joseph Stalin. If any one of those three would abandon the Allied side, or as FDR anticipatorily named it the "United Nations," then the Axis would win the war, and then a war between the three Axis leaders — Hitler, Hirohito, and Mussolini — would follow afterward, in which Hitler was generally considered to be the likeliest to achieve his "Thousand Year Reich": global control. If so, the result would have been a Nazi-controlled planet. But each of the three Allied leaders had different political views and priorities.


Analysis of the Zodiacal dating of the Golan Dolmens

Golan Dolmens
© Prehistory Decoded
In a recently published paper in Asian Archaeology, new zoomorphic rock art is reported on Dolmens in the Levant. The picture above is from one of these dolmens, but is not new, and can be seen in an earlier blogpost concerning comets. My interpretation is that these trident shapes represent comet gods, just like the one on a stone palette found at Gobekli Tepe - see below.

Gobekli Tepe Artifact
© Prehistory Decoded
I interpret this plaquette to mean 'The comet god (left) attacked and destroyed (middle) the cosmic serpent who fell to earth (right)', consistent with numerous mythologies in the region. Gobekli Tepe's archaeologists interpret this to simply be the sequence 'snake, person, bird' (the other way up).

We see similar trident symbols at Stonehenge - see below. Clearly, in this image these symbols have been enhanced with colour, because they are very faint to the eye.


Women the true artisans behind ancient Greek ceramics argues new research

A new paper makes the case that scholars have ignored the role of female ceramicists in Greece going back some 3,000 years — and that this failing could speak to a more consequential blind spot involving gender.
Greek Amphora
© Zde/Wikimedia Commons
This amphora comes from a period in ancient Greek history called the Early Iron Age.
Painted over the enormous midsection of the Dipylon amphora — a nearly 2,800-year-old clay vase from Greece — silhouetted figures surround a corpse in a funeral scene. Intricate geometric patterns zig and zag across cracks in the vase, framing the scene.

The roughly 5-foot-tall amphora is one of many painted vases credited to a so-called Dipylon Master. (Dipylon is the name of the cemetery gate near where people found this vessel.) Historians have assumed that this master was a man. In fact, the assumption has long been that male artisans crafted the iconic pottery of ancient Greek society throughout its history.

After all, ancient Greece isn't exactly known for its record of women's rights and contributions. In Politics about 2,400 years ago, Aristotle wrote, "the male is by nature superior and the female inferior."

"No one had really thought that women were involved in making this pottery," says Sarah Murray, a classical archaeologist at the University of Toronto. "There was no argument. It was just taken as the default."

But in a recent article published in the American Journal of Archaeology, Murray and two of her undergraduate students challenge those assumptions. They argue that women were primarily responsible for the ceramics in at least one significant era of ancient Greek history.

Their analysis reframes archaeological questions about gender and paints a more cohesive picture of life during one of the most mysterious periods of ancient Greece. It also speaks to a larger effort underway in human history research: questioning how modern biases have skewed understandings of the past.


Measles virus likely emerged 2,500 years ago

© Navena Widulin/Berlin Museum of Medical History at the Charite
An autopsy report of a measles patient compiled in 1912 kept at the Berlin Museum of Medical History
An international research team says the measles virus may have emerged as far back as some 2,500 years ago, much earlier than previously thought, and that it likely came alongside urbanization.

The experts came to that conclusion by analyzing a genome taken from a human lung preserved for more than a century.

The team, led by researchers from Germany's Robert Koch Institute, published its findings in the journal Science on June 19.

"The measles virus may have caused epidemics in ancient times, where the cause was unknown at the time," one of the researchers said.

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