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Fri, 07 Oct 2022
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Sherlock

Paleo Adapted: The 5,000-year-old iceman cometh with brown eyes and lactose intolerance

Image
© Samadeli Marco/Eurac
"The Iceman" has been the subject of constant study for more than 20 years
New clues have emerged in what could be described as the world's oldest murder case: that of Oetzi the "Iceman", whose 5,300-year-old body was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991.

Oetzi's full genome has now been reported in Nature Communications.

It reveals that he had brown eyes, "O" blood type, was lactose intolerant, and was predisposed to heart disease.

They also show him to be the first documented case of infection by a Lyme disease bacterium.

Sherlock

New Evidence Suggests Stone Age Hunters from Europe Discovered America

eskimo painting
© n/a
New archaeological evidence suggests that America was first discovered by Stone Age people from Europe - 10,000 years before the Siberian-originating ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World.

A remarkable series of several dozen European-style stone tools, dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, have been discovered at six locations along the US east coast. Three of the sites are on the Delmarva Peninsular in Maryland, discovered by archaeologist Dr Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware. One is in Pennsylvania and another in Virginia. A sixth was discovered by scallop-dredging fishermen on the seabed 60 miles from the Virginian coast on what, in prehistoric times, would have been dry land.

The new discoveries are among the most important archaeological breakthroughs for several decades - and are set to add substantially to our understanding of humanity's spread around the globe.

The similarity between other later east coast US and European Stone Age stone tool technologies has been noted before. But all the US European-style tools, unearthed before the discovery or dating of the recently found or dated US east coast sites, were from around 15,000 years ago - long after Stone Age Europeans (the Solutrean cultures of France and Iberia) had ceased making such artefacts. Most archaeologists had therefore rejected any possibility of a connection. But the newly-discovered and recently-dated early Maryland and other US east coast Stone Age tools are from between 26,000 and 19,000 years ago - and are therefore contemporary with the virtually identical western European material.

Hourglass

Not guilty! We did not kill the Neanderthals - ice age wiped them out, say scientists

Neanderthal man

Struggled: Neanderthal man, like above, fared worse than we thought during the Ice Age, according to experts
Neanderthals were not wiped out by humans - and faced extinction even before our ancestors migrated to Europe, according to scientists.

Debunking long-held claims that we introduced disease or brutally murdered them, researchers say our rival species was more likely to have succumbed to the Ice Age.

Only a small band survived that catastrophe which began 50,000 years ago, according to experts at Uppsala University analysing fossils in northern Spain.

They believe the last of the few perished 30,000 years ago after they were unable to deal with the brutal climate.

Our ancestors, who came from the east 40,000 years ago, however, were better suited to the cold conditions and weathered the storms.

Dr Love Dalén said: 'The fact that Neanderthals in Europe were nearly extinct, but then recovered, and that all this took place long before they came into contact with modern humans came as a complete surprise to us.

Igloo

The ancient Arabic writings that reveal desert city of Baghdad was FROZEN over 1,000 years ago in new clue over climate change

Ancient Arabic Manuscript

Revelation: Ancient manuscripts written by Arabic scholars have revealed abnormal weather patterns in Baghdad
It snowed three times between 908 and 1007 - but not again until 2008

Temperatures in Baghdad range from around 2C in winter to 45C in the summer - but ancient Arabic writings have revealed that the city experienced a dramatic frozen period around 1,000 years ago.

Spanish researchers from the University of Extremadura found 9th and 10th century (3rd and 4th in the Islamic calendar) sources that refer to snowfalls in the Iraqi capital in 908, 944 and 1007 and even rivers being frozen.

These are extreme events for Baghdad - for example, the only snowfall in the modern era took place in 2008 - and help meteorologists better understand today's climate.

Magnify

5,000-Year-Old 'Golden Eye' Found on Iran-Afghan Border

Burnt City Artificial Eye 1

The world's oldest artificial eyeball was found on a female skeletal remains
The world's earliest prosthetic eye was worn by an ancient Persian priestess. The female soothsayer stood 6' (1.82m) tall, and the mesmerizing effects of the golden eyeball would have convinced those who saw it that she could see into the future. "It must have glittered spectacularly, conferring on the woman a mysterious and supernatural gaze," said leader of the Italian team Lorenzo Costantini, adding, "She must have been a very striking and exotic figure."

Info

Found: Ancient Warrior's Helmet, Owner Unknown

Ancient Helmet
© Israel Antiquities Authority
Covered with gold leaf (now somewhat corroded), this 2,600-year-old bronze helmet was discovered in the waters of Haifa Bay, in Israel. The helmet would have been worn by a wealthy Greek mercenary leader.

A Greek bronze helmet, covered with gold leaf and decorated with snakes, lions and a peacock's tail (or palmette), has been discovered in the waters of Haifa Bay in Israel. But how this helmet ended up at the bottom of the bay is a mystery.

The helmet dates back around 2,600 years and likely belonged to a wealthy Greek mercenary who took part in a series of wars, immortalized in the Bible, which ravaged the region at that time. Archaeologists believe that he likely fought for an Egyptian pharaoh named Necho II.

Dredging discovery

The helmet was discovered accidentally in 2007 during commercial dredging operations in the harbor. After it was discovered, conservators with the Israel Antiquities Authority went to work cleaning it and archaeologists began to analyze it.

They discovered that it is very similar to another helmet found in the 1950s near the Italian island of Giglio, about 1,500 miles (2,300 kilometers) away. That helmet has been dated to around 2,600 years ago, something which helped the researchers arrive at a date for the Haifa Bay helmet.

"The gilding and figural ornaments make this one of the most ornate pieces of early Greek armor discovered," writes Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit with the Israel Antiquities Authority, and John Hale, a professor at the University of Louisville, in a summary of their research being presented at the meeting.

This Greek warrior likely would have been a very wealthy individual, as few soldiers could afford such an ornate helmet. The researchers aren't sure where the helmet was made, though they suspect the warrior could be from one of the Greek colonies in Ionia, on the west coast of modern-day Turkey.

Info

Possible Earliest Evidence of Christianity Resurrected from Ancient Tomb

James Ossuary
© Wikimedia Commons
Photo of James Ossuary.

In an ancient tomb located below a modern condominium building in Jerusalem, archaeologists have found ossuaries - bone boxes for the dead - bearing engravings that could represent the earliest archaeological evidence of Christians ever found.

The tomb has been dated to before A.D. 70, so if its engravings are indeed early Christian, they were most likely made by some of Jesus' earliest followers, according to the excavators.

One of the limestone ossuaries bears an inscription in Greek that includes a reference to "Divine Jehovah" raising someone up. A second ossuary has an image that appears to be a large fish with a stick figure in its mouth. The excavators believe the image represents the story of Jonah, the biblical prophet who was swallowed by a fish or whale and then released.

Together both the inscription and the image of the fish represent the Christian belief in resurrection from death. While images of the Jonah story became common on more recent Christian tombs, they do not appear in first-century art, and iconographic images like this on ossuaries are extremely rare.

Brick Wall

New Section of Great Wall Discovered in Mongolia

Image
© Unknown
Great Wall of China
For years, British explorer William Lindesay's inquiries about a possible extension of the Great Wall in Mongolia turned up nothing, but the researcher recently had a breakthrough. Seeking insight from Professor Baasan Tudevin, a lauded but hard-to-find expert on the region, Lindesay posted an advertisement in a local newspaper. It was a long shot, but the two connected and the Mongolian geographer said he knew of several such structures in the Gobi desert, the Telegraph reports.

Lindesay formed an expedition in August and with two Land Cruisers, 44 gallons of water, 12 gallons of extra gasoline and a lead from Google Earth, began poking around about 25 miles from the sensitive Chinese-Mongolian border. Two days into the exploration, his team discovered what is thought to be the first section of the Great Wall to exist outside of China. Lost for nearly 1,000 years, the wall's 62-mile-long arm is made mostly of shrubs and dirt. Lindesay told the Telegraph much of the wall is about shin-level, but there is also a stretch that reaches up to his shoulders.

Info

Hailstorms, Wacky Weather Chilled Ancient Baghdad

Baghdad
© sydcinema, Shutterstock
The modern-day suburbs of Baghdad.


Diaries and writings from ninth-century Baghdad provide a glimpse of the weird weather from the era, findings that could help researchers reconstruct past climate.

The surviving documents were written by historians and scholars during the Islamic Golden Age between A.D. 816 and A.D. 1009. They provide a new human record of climate, joining old ship's logs and World War II air force reports as one of the few sources for detailed information on historical weather.

"Climate information recovered from these ancient sources mainly refers to extreme events which impacted wider society, such as droughts and floods," study researcher Fernando Domínguez-Castro of the University of Extremadura in Spain said in a statement. "However, they also document conditions which were rarely experienced in ancient Baghdad such as hailstorms, the freezing of rivers or even cases of snow."

Many of the writings from the Islamic Golden Age have been lost in wars and upheaval. But some works survive, including those of Sunni scholar al-Tabari (A.D. 913), Kurdish historian Ibn al-Athir (A.D. 1233) and Egyptian scholar al-Suyuti (A.D. 1505).

Cow Skull

Rethinking the social structure of ancient Eurasian nomads: Current Anthropology research

Prehistoric Eurasian nomads are commonly perceived as horse riding bandits who utilized their mobility and military skill to antagonize ancient civilizations such as the Chinese, Persians, and Greeks. Although some historical accounts may support this view, a new article by Dr. Michael Frachetti (Washington University, St. Louis) illustrates a considerably different image of prehistoric pastoralist societies and their impact on world civilizations more than 5000 years ago.

In the article, recently published in the February issue of Current Anthropology, Frachetti argues that early pastoral nomads grew distinct economies across the steppes and mountains of Eurasia and triggered the formation of some the earliest and most extensive networks of interaction in prehistory. The model for this unique form of interaction, which Frachetti calls "nonuniform" institutional complexity, describes how discrete institutions among small-scale societies significantly impact the evolution of wider-scale political economies and shape the growth of great empires or states.