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Blue Planet

100,000 year old tooth enamel provides clues to hunter-gatherer lifestyle of Neanderthals

© João Zilhão
A Neanderthal premolar tooth from the Almonda cave system, Portugal, seen from different angles. Isotopes of strontium were used to track the movement of this individual over the 2 to 3 years the enamel took to form.
A study by an international team of researchers, led by the University of Southampton, has given an intriguing glimpse of the hunting habits and diets of Neanderthals and other humans living in western Europe.

The scientists examined chemical properties locked inside tooth enamel to piece together how pre-historic people lived off the land around the Almonda Cave system, near Torres Novas in central Portugal almost 100 thousand years ago.

Their findings, published in the journal PNAS, show Neanderthals in the region were hunting fairly large animals across wide tracts of land, whereas humans living in the same location tens of thousands of years later survived on smaller creatures in an area half the size.

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Underwater archaeologists discover a 7,000-year-old road in Croatia

Underwater Road
© Screen Capture Youtube
A team of underwater archaeologists from the University of Zadar has discovered the sunken ruins of a 7,000-year-old road that once linked an ancient artificial landmass to the Croatian island of Korčula.

The road is located at a depth of 5 meters in sediment deposits at the submerged archaeological site of Soline, an artificial landmass and Neolithic settlement of the island Korčula and along with several other artifacts, belonged to a lost maritime culture known as the Hvar, who occupied this area during the Neolithic Era.

By radiocarbon analysis of preserved wood found in the last campaign, the entire settlement was dated around 4,900 years before Christ.

A four-meter-wide linear road made of stone slabs was discovered during a recent underwater survey of the site. People walked on this road almost 7,000 years ago.

Over the weekend, the University of Zadar released new footage of the underwater passage, which was made of stacked stones and measured some 12 feet across.


First of its kind coin of Queen Fastrada and Charlemagne found

Ancient Coin
© Holger Hermannsen, Centre Charlemagne, Aachen
Monogram denier of Charlemagne and Fastrada, 1.63 g, 21 mm.
A coin purchased by the Charlemagne Center in Aachen, Germany, bears the name of Queen Fastrada. This is the first known example of a queen being named on a Carolingian coin.

The coin represents the first known example of a queen, indeed of any woman (other than the virgin Mary) being named on a Carolingian coin, and because the coin type was only introduced in 793 and Fastrada died in August 794, it can be very precisely dated.

The dating of numismatic remains from the Carolingian period is difficult when it is not frankly conjectural. The coinage reflects both Charlemagne's affection for Fastrada and the power he was willing to share with her.

The third wife of the great Carolingian king Charlemagne, Fastrada played a critical role in her husband's reign. She was born around 765, the daughter of powerful East Frankish Count Rudolph. In 783, only five months after the death of his second wife, Himiltrude, Charlemagne married her to cement an alliance with her father in his war against the Saxons. They would have two daughters over 11 years of marriage before Fastrada's death in 794.


New megalithic monument discovered in heart of Andalusia in southern Spain - 5,000-year-old secret

La Peña de los Enamorados (Sleeping Giant)
© Arkeonews Net
Archaeologists in Spain uncovered a previously overlooked tomb while investigating the formation of La Peña de los Enamorados, also known as the sleeping giant.

The Antequera archaeological site in southern Spain is home to a number of ancient structures dating back to the third and fourth millennia BC, including the Menga, Viera, and El Romeral megaliths.

According to a study that was published on April 15 in the journal Antiquity, the Antequera site contains both man-made and "natural monuments," but is best known for its prehistoric megaliths.

The "natural monuments" at the site include La Peña de los Enamorados, a stone "sleeping giant" that towers about 2,900 feet above the ground, researchers said.

The Sleeping Giant had a 5000-year-old secret hidden in his chest: Piedras Blancas megalithic grave.

The rectangular stone structure was built at least 5,000 years ago, according to the study. It was used for millennia in three distinct phases before being abandoned between 1950 and 1180 B.C.


Sunken 19th century quarantine hospital and cemetery found off Florida Keys

hospital ocean floor florida
© C. Sproul/National Park Service
A diver examines one of the submerged gravestones off the coast of Dry Tortugas National Park.
The hospital had been used to house yellow fever patients before falling into disuse in 1900, then gradually slipping below the waterline in Dry Tortugas National Park off the coast of Florida.

For more than 100 years, the sparkling turquoise waters of Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys have concealed a grim historical relic. Beneath the waves, archaeologists recently discovered the remains of a submerged 19th-century quarantine hospital and adjoining cemetery.

According to a statement from the National Park Service, park staff, alongside members of the National Park Service's Submerged Resources Center, the Southeast Archaeological Center, and a University of Miami graduate student, made the discovery while conducting a survey in August 2022.

Better Earth

DNA recovered from 20,000-year-old pendant found in Denisovan cave belonged to woman

Denisova Cave
© Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
The pierced deer tooth discovered from Denisova Cave after DNA extraction.
Artifacts made of stone, bones or teeth provide important insights into the subsistence strategies of early humans, their behavior and culture. However, until now it has been difficult to attribute these artifacts to specific individuals, since burials and grave goods were very rare in the Paleolithic. This has limited the possibilities of drawing conclusions about, for example, division of labor or the social roles of individuals during this period.

In order to directly link cultural objects to specific individuals and thus gain deeper insights into Paleolithic societies, an international, interdisciplinary research team, led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, has developed a novel, non-destructive method for DNA isolation from bones and teeth. Although they are generally rarer than stone tools, the scientists focused specifically on artifacts made from skeletal elements, because these are more porous and are therefore more likely to retain DNA present in skin cells, sweat and other body fluids.

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Blue Planet

Periods of prolonged droughts caused downfall of Indus megacities

indus valley
© Shutterstock
A new study by the University of Cambridge has found new evidence locked away in stalagmite formations in a Himalayan cave, suggesting that the downfall of the Indus megacities was caused by periods of prolonged droughts.

The Indus Civilisation was a Bronze Age culture from 3300 BC to 1300 BC, that emerged in the alluvial plains of the Indus River system. At its peak, the civilisation covered an area that spanned much of Pakistan, northeast Afghanistan, and northwestern India.

The large megacities of the Indus are noted for their advanced urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings, and techniques of handicraft and metallurgy.

Researchers examined growth layers in a stalagmites collected from a cave near Pithoragarh, India, which enabled them to chart historic rainfall by measuring a range of environmental tracers — including oxygen, carbon and calcium isotopes.

Comment: It wasn't only drought that they had to contend with, because as noted in How did the Harrappan civilization avoid war for 2,000 years?, the IVC was also 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.


The 6,000-year-old settlement found on island of Corsica

Sotta Corsica
© Florian Soula, Inrap
Archaeologists in a French municipality recently excavated the slopes of Punta Campana (island of Corsica) in preparation for a construction project and found an expansive Neolithic site.

The site in Sotta (Sotta is a French municipality on the island of Corsica) contains two distinct settlements, according to a news release from the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP). The first settlement is partially preserved while the second is well preserved.

As part of this excavation, archaeologists have uncovered the existence of a recent Neolithic settlement (Basien) followed by a late Neolithic settlement.

Archaeologists said the first settlement, which dates back to the early fourth millennium B.C., held a stone structure containing the remains of an obsidian knapping workshop.

Within the workshop, there is evidence indicating that ancient people used a variety of methods to make obsidian tools.
obsidian workshop.
© Laura Manca INRAP
Archaeologists uncovered remains of an obsidian workshop.
According to experts, the site likely experienced significant erosion until the second, more recent settlement was built on top of the workshop.


Egyptian child mummies reveal high prevalence of anemia

egyptian mummy child
© Panzer et al., International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 2023
3D reconstruction of the skull of one of the children.
Anemia was common in mummified ancient Egyptian children, according to a new study that analyzed child mummies in European museums.

Researchers used computed tomography (CT) scans to peer non-invasively through the mummies' dressings and discovered that one-third of them had signs of anemia; they found evidence of thalassemia in one case, too.

"Our study appears to be the first to illustrate radiological findings not only of the cranial vault but also of the facial bones and postcranial skeleton that indicate thalassemia in an ancient Egyptian child mummy," the team writes in their published paper.

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The Ukraine Crisis in context: Brzezinski's grand chessboard in the 21st Century

© unknown
Ukraine • NATO • Zbigniew Brzezinski • Volodymyr Zelensky • Joe Biden • Vladimir Putin
We are now living in the Raging Twenties of the 21st century . . . but the past has a tendency of catching up with present before evolving into the future.

In the aftermath of Watergate affair and its political fallout, U.S. foreign policy was dominated by the figure of Zbigniew Brzezinsky (1928-2017) and his anti-Communist fervour and blatant Russophobia. An ideological circumstance that was to lead to the emergence of political Islam and Islamist terrorism worldwide. As Brzezinski had mobilized Islam as a weapon against global Communism in the seventies (and eighties), and the resultant blowback set the stage for the American-led Global War-on-Terror as a veiled 'Crusade against Islam,' spearheaded by George W. Bush and Barack Obama (2001-2017).

From War-on-Terror to New Cold War

In the wake of NATO secretary-general (1994-5) Willy Claes's February 1995 proclamation that "Islamic militancy has emerged as perhaps the single gravest threat to the NATO alliance and to Western security" and of course, "9/11," the Brzezinski template gave way to Bush, Jr.'s neoconservative doctrine of pre-emption and the global War-on-Terror. Far from being a resounding success, the Bush doctrine led to a new reality — a new reality that normalized living in a state of constant alarm while being under equally constant surveillance (i.e. the Patriot Act), on the one hand, and a very real Islamist extremist threat to the West (with Islamist terror attacks in such varied places like Madrid, London, Paris, Istanbul and Brussels), on the other.

In the same breath, Bush and Obama's 'successful' fight against Usamah (spelled as Osama, by the American establishment) bin Laden (or OBL, in American parlance) and his shadowy terror group Al Qaeda was followed by the emergence of Caliph Ibrahim (aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) and his Islamic State (or IS, formerly known as ISIS or ISIL). In this century, Brzezinski himself recognized the folly of the American-led Crusade against Islam, writing in 2007 that "[t]he 'war on terror' has created a culture of fear in America." Going on to lay out his Russophobic argument in full in the next instance - as Russia and not Islam arguably represents "the real challenges" faced by the U.S.