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Mother tongue comes from your prehistoric father

Image
© Unknown
Language change among our prehistoric ancestors came about via the arrival of immigrant men - rather than women - into new settlements, according to new research.

The claim is made by two University of Cambridge academics, Peter Forster and Colin Renfrew, in a report to be published in Science on September 9.

They studied the instances of genetic markers (the male Y chromosome and female mtDNA) from several thousand individuals in communities around the world that seem to show the emergence globally of sex-specific transmission of language.

From Scandinavian Vikings who ferried kidnapped British women to Iceland - to African, Indian and Polynesian tribes, a pattern has emerged which appears to show that the arrival of men to particular geographic locations - through either agricultural dispersal or the arrival of military forces - can have a significant impact on what language is spoken there.

Info

Bones of Roman-Era Babies Killed at Birth Reveal a Mystery

Infant Skeleton
© English Heritage
One infant's skeleton found at the Hambleden site. An analysis of remains from 35 infants revealed they were most likely killed at birth.

The bones spent close to a century in 35 small boxes meant to hold loose cigarettes and shotgun cartridges, each box big enough to hold the complete skeleton of one infant. Then Jill Eyers found them in a museum archive.

"It was quite heart-rending, really, to open all these little cigarette boxes and find babies inside," said Eyers, an archaeologist and director of Chiltern Archaeology in England. "But they kept very well over 100 years."

These remains were already ancient by the time they were excavated from the English countryside in 1912 and put into boxes. Eyers estimates they are now about 1,800 years old, dating back to the time when England was part of the Roman Empire.

These 35 babies appear to have died soon after they were born, the victims of infanticide. But while these deaths clearly seem unnatural, Eyers and a fellow researcher disagree on the circumstances behind them, with Eyers suspecting a brothel was to blame.

Sherlock

4,500- and 1,000-year-old tombs have been discovered in Paulesti, Romania

Two 4,500-year-old tombs and another one aged 1,000 years have been discovered in Paulesti, a few kilometres away from Ploiesti (Prahova County).

Inside the 1,000-year-old tomb archeologists found the remains of a human buried in a position similar to Christians and the remains of a horse, making specialists believe the tomb belongs to a member of the Pechenegs, nomadic people that lived in the 10th-11th centuries. Archeologists continue to look for other ancient tombs in the area.

Smoking

Pestilence, the Great Plague and the Tobacco Cure

Great Plague London
© Unknown
Artist's depiction of the plague.
As many of our readers are probably aware, we recently discovered a Spanish blog written by a person named 'Fernando' defaming Laura Knight-Jadczyk and her work. We suspect this person to be either a pseudonym for a lady named Diana Castillo or at the very least a close cohort of hers. In any case, this 'Fernando'/Castillo person demonstrated pathological persistence in pushing his/her opinions on tobacco and why it's so baaad - not an unusual trait among the anti-smoking crowd. Laura shared the details in her recent article, "Freedom of Association, Smoking and Psychopathy".

It's obvious from reading 'Fernando's' blog that he/she has no clue about the research that has led Laura and many others to the conclusion that the Powers That Be (PTB) are primarily motivated to stamp out smoking in order to keep people stressed out and dumb. This really isn't rocket science, folks. As Laura states in her article, "When did the PTB EVER do anything beneficial for the masses?"

This 'Fernando' character also ridiculed the notion of a pandemic caused by Comet Elenin. This particular scenario was broached in my last article "Elenin, Nibiru, Planet-X - Time for a Sanity Check". I had suggested this comet-borne pandemic scenario from an academic perspective, but it is just that, a possible scenario and not a certainty. So, I want to set the record straight and give a little more 'food for thought' on the nature of disease and pestilence as well. I find it interesting that 'Fernando' specifically chose to attack Laura and SOTT based on the topics of cometary catastrophes, tobacco and diet because, as we'll see, these topics are inextricably linked.

Palette

Italy: Search Is On for Lost Da Vinci Masterpiece

Image
© Dave Yoder/National Geographic Society
Searching for Leonardo Da Vinci's lost fresco.
Nuclear physics might soon solve a long-standing Leonardo da Vinci mystery -- the fate of a lost masterpiece known as the Battle of Anghiari.

The project, one of the most ambitious in art history, involves developing a unique camera which can take photographs through a 5-inch-thick wall.

The brick barrier is not just an ordinary wall. It stands in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's 14th century city hall, in the imposing Hall of Five Hundred, and houses a mural known as the Battle of Marciano. It was painted by the renowned 15th-century painter, architect and writer Giorgio Vasari.

Leonardo's lost work could lie right behind that wall, according to art diagnostic expert Maurizio Seracini, director of the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology at the University of California, San Diego.

Sherlock

Lake Dwellings and Otzi the Iceman

Lake dwellings, also called pile dwellings or Alpine lake dwellings, are a type of house, and their remains provide a type of archaeological site dear to the hearts of many archaeologists. These houses were built on pilings, at the shores of Alpine lakes, between the Neolithic and Iron Ages of Europe, say 4,000-100 BC.

Image
© Alfons-Georg Zuelig
Lake Dwelling or Pile Dwelling Reconstruction, Lake Constance Switzerland.
Among other things, lake dwellings represent a lifestyle in which people could exploit a whole range of resources found along the shores of lakes in the Alps, and stay above the water line in changing conditions. Lake dwellers were hunter-gatherer-fishers, but they were also herders of cattle, sheep and pigs, and farmers of wheat, barley, flax and poppies. Because of frequent flooding, lake dwellings only lasted something like 15 years, providing a veritable snapshot of what life was like during the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages.

People

Why a young virgin must not look a lusty man in the eye... and other compelling lifestyle advice for the Englishwoman of 1740

Image
© Bloomsbury
Companion: A self-help guide for women of 18th century Britain offers advice on how to fend off the advances of men and was said to be essential reading for 'virgins, wives and widows'
She that listens to wanton discourse has violated her ears.

This stern warning may sound a little severe - but in 1740 it was seen as essential to preserving the honour of many a blushing maiden.

It is among hundreds of pearls of wisdom dispensed in one of Britain's first self-help books, written to help women resist life's temptations.

Grandly titled The Lady's Companion: or an Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex, it features advice on everything from baking to fending off the advances of lusty men.

The rare book, which has just surfaced in a private collection, claims to be essential reading for 'virgins, wives or widows'.

Experts believe it is one of the earliest examples of the modern self-help book - proving that while many things have changed in the last three centuries, we've always had a weakness for so-called 'expert advice'.

Among the gems on offer is a warning to virgins that having impure thoughts is a 'deflowering of the mind'.

Meanwhile wives are advised that their duty to their husbands is 'first to his person, secondly to his reputation; thirdly to his fortune'.

Sherlock

Ancient Humans Were Mixing It Up

University of Arizona's Michael F. Hammer with an ancient hominid fossil.
© M. F. Hammer
University of Arizona's Michael F. Hammer with an ancient hominid fossil.
It is now widely accepted that the species Homo sapiens originated in Africa and eventually spread throughout the world. But did those early humans interbreed with more ancestral forms of the genus Homo, for example Homo erectus, the "upright walking man," Homo habilis, - the "tool-using man" or Homo neanderthalensis, the first artists of cave-painting fame?

Direct studies of ancient DNA from Neanderthal bones suggest interbreeding did occur after anatomically modern humans had migrated from their evolutionary cradle in Africa to the cooler climates of Eurasia, but what had happened in Africa remained a mystery - until now.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS, a team led by Michael Hammer, an associate professor and research scientist with the UA's Arizona Research Labs, provides evidence that anatomically modern humans were not so unique that they remained separate.

"We found evidence for hybridization between modern humans and archaic forms in Africa. It looks like our lineage has always exchanged genes with their more morphologically diverged neighbors," said Hammer, who also holds appointments in the UA's department ofecology and evolutionary biology, the school of anthropology, the BIO5 Institute and the Arizona Cancer Center.

Sherlock

Archaeologists discover remains of a Roman gladiator school in Austria

British archaeologists were among a team who have discovered the ruins of a Roman gladiator school on the outskirts of the Austrian capital Vienna.

The find, which has been described as 'one in a million' and 'sensational', is one of 100 hundred such schools the Romans built to train the fighters before they were pitted against each other in brutal combat.

The Brits were among an international team of historians, geologists and archaeologists from the Ludwig Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Vienna.

Image
© AP
Mock-up: A virtual video presentation shows the Roman gladiator school discovered by underground radar on the outskirts of Vienna

Info

1,700-Year-Old Map of Roman Roads Used for Online Journey Planner

Ancient Road
© Alamy
The Tabula Peutingeriana was last updated in the third or fourth century.

A Dutch historian has used a unique 1,700 year old map of Roman roads to create an online journey planner giving the destinations, distances and timings of routes used by ancient travellers in the days of empire.

Routes are based on the Tabula Peutingeriana, a one of a kind chart, which shows an imperial Roman road network, or curses public's, that stretches from Britain to the river Ganges that flows through India and Bangladesh.

The huge map, last updated in the third or fourth century, shows 2,760 towns with lists of distances and destinations on the Roman roads connecting them, all set out on a scroll of parchment almost 23 feet long.

The original version of the Roman route tables was prepared two thousand years ago under the direction of Marcus Agrippa, the statesman, general and son-in-law of Augustus, the first Roman Emperor.