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Sherlock

Roman-Era Shipwreck Reveals Ancient Medical Secrets

shipwreck artefacts
© EMANUELA APPETITI
The aquarium recreated in the museum, where several vials and containers, (still sealed), are preserved.
A first-aid kit found on a 2,000-year-old shipwreck has provided a remarkable insight into the medicines concocted by ancient physicians to cure sailors of dysentery and other ailments.

A wooden chest discovered on board the vessel contained pills made of ground-up vegetables, herbs and plants such as celery, onions, carrots, cabbage, alfalfa and chestnuts - all ingredients referred to in classical medical texts.

The tablets, which were so well sealed that they miraculously survived being under water for more than two millennia, also contain extracts of parsley, nasturtium, radish, yarrow and hibiscus.

They were found in 136 tin-lined wooden vials on a 50ft-long trading ship which was wrecked around 130 BC off the coast of Tuscany. Scientists believe they would have been used to treat gastrointestinal complaints suffered by sailors such as dysentery and diarrhoea.

Info

Supernova Record Found in Kashmir

Supernova
© The Daily Galaxy
A painting on the arch-door of the 17th century tomb of Sufi saint Syed Mohammad Madni in Srinagar is the "first firm record" of a supernova sighting in India, claim researchers. The mural, which shows two archers, a representation of the Sagittarius constellation, depicts the celestial event dating back to 1604, according to researchers from Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and University of Kashmir.

German astronomer Johannes Kepler observed the supernova - a spectacular explosion of a massive star - and described it as an archer in his book De Stella nova in pede Serpentarii. The supernova, the last in our galaxy, was subsequently named Kepler's Supernova after him.

The mural at Madni's tomb depicts the same celestial event. The tomb, however, was built 15 years after the event.

"Our research suggests that India also saw the supernova in 1604. It was winter in Kashmir and the sky was bright for weeks," said Aijaz Banday, an archaeologist at Kashmir university's department of Central Asian studies.

Better Earth

North Atlantic: Lost World? A Submerged Landscape Discovered

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© Don Anderson
Buried deep beneath the sediment of the North Atlantic Ocean lies an ancient, lost landscape with furrows cut by rivers and peaks that once belonged to mountains. Geologists recently discovered this roughly 56-million-year-old landscape using data gathered for oil companies.

"It looks for all the world like a map of a bit of a country onshore," said Nicky White, the senior researcher. "It is like an ancient fossil landscape preserved 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) beneath the seabed."

So far, the data have revealed a landscape about 3,861 square miles (10,000 square km) west of the Orkney-Shetland Islands that stretched above sea level by almost as much as 0.6 miles (1 km). White and colleagues suspect it is part of a larger region that merged with what is now Scotland and may have extended toward Norway in a hot, prehuman world.

Sherlock

Olympia Hypothesis: Tsunamis Buried the Cult Site On the Peloponnese

Olympia Buried by tsunamis
© Andreas Vött
View to the west of the central Kladeos River valley and the range of hills which separate Olympia from the wider coastal area. In the background the narrow Apheios River valley (left) and the coast of the Gulf of Kyparissia can be seen. The site of ancient Olympia was hit by tsunami impact and buried under a massive layer of sand and other deposits in the 6th century AD.

Olympia, site of the famous Temple of Zeus and original venue of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, was presumably destroyed by repeated tsunamis that travelled considerable distances inland, and not by earthquake and river floods as has been assumed to date. Evidence in support of this new theory on the virtual disappearance of the ancient cult site on the Peloponnesian peninsula comes from Professor Dr Andreas Vött of the Institute of Geography of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany.

Vött investigated the site as part of a project in which he and his team are studying the paleotsunamis that occurred along the coastlines of the eastern Mediterranean over the last 11,000 years. According to his account, the geomorphological and sedimentological findings in the area document that Olympia and its environs were destroyed by tsunami impact. The site of Olympia, rediscovered only some 250 years ago, was buried under a massive layer of sand and other deposits that is up to 8 meters deep.

"Both the composition and thickness of the sediments we find in Olympia do not go with the hydraulic potential of the Kladeos River and the geomorphological inventory of the valley. It is highly unlikely that this could have been the work of this creek," states Vött. To date, it has been assumed that the cult site was finally destroyed by an earthquake in 551 AD and later covered by flood deposits of the Kladeos River. In this scenario, however, it remains mysterious how the tiny Kladeos that passes by could first have buried Olympia under several meters of sediment, only to subsequently get incised by 10 to 12 meters down to the flow level used in ancient times. Working in collaboration with the local Ephorate for Classical Antiquities, the German Archaeological Institute, and colleagues from the universities of Aachen, Darmstadt, Freiburg, Hamburg, and Cologne, Vött and his team examined the location using geomorphological and geoarcheological methods and techniques.

Blackbox

Fang-tastic Viking warrior unearthed

Image
© AP
The warrior, found in Weymouth, Dorset, England, had grooves filed into his two front teeth.
London - The pain without anaesthetic would have been excruciating - but it would have proved his status as a great warrior, archaeologists said.

The warrior, found in Weymouth, Dorset, England, had grooves filed into his two front teeth.

Scientists also found other bones and decapitated heads in the pit where a new road is being built. They think the bodies were young Viking warriors who were executed without mercy after being captured in a battle with the Anglo-Saxons.

During analysis of the remains, the pair of front teeth was found to have distinct incisions.

Lead scientist David Score, of Oxford Archaeology, said: "It's difficult to say how painful the process of filing teeth may have been, but it wouldn't have been a pleasant experience.

"The incisions have been very carefully made and it is most likely that they were filed by a skilled craftsman.

Magnify

Human Ingenuity: A 100,000-Year-Old Story

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Genevieve von Petzinger: "Yes, we were capable. Yes, they were us."
Humans have been the most successful species on the planet (roaches and rats have done well, too). Scientists credit our success to three traits: technology innovation, group collaboration, and communication. Humans not only have all three abilities, but we excel at all three. The question of when we started being human and flexing our abilities has been coming under constant revision in recent years.

Until the 1990s historians pegged humanity's first creative explosion at about 40,000 years ago, a time of rapidly expanding variation on primitive stone tools. This is the era of the mesmerizing 32,000-year-old paintings in the caves at Chauvet or the ornate grave goods found at the burial site at Sungir outside of Moscow. One boy's burial garment was sewn with 4,500 ivory beads. A girl's had 5,000. Each bead is estimated to have taken an hour to produce, which means these strands were probably a year in the making, suggesting that the "primitive" beadmaker was thinking abstractly about death and spirituality in a disciplined way for a long time.

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Italy: Ancient sarcophagus unearthed near Rome

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© Unknown
Rome - Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman sarcophagus in the central Italian Lazio region surrounding Rome. It is the second sarcophagus discovered during a dig being coordinated by the University of Michigan.

The sarcophagus was uncovered in the area of Lazio believed to the site of the ancient Roman city of Gabii, located 18 kilometres east of Rome.

Magnify

Mexico unearths monolith of Aztec God

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© Unknown
The 8th century monolith
Archaeologists in Mexico made a dramatic discovery in the state of Morelos when they uncovered an 8th century monolith featuring an Aztec God weighing 60 tonnes.

With agricultural images engraved on its side, the massive stone is believed to have been used by the Aztecs to call on the god of rain.

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Japan: Ancient pottery shard in Aomori found to hold carving of dancing shaman

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© Aomori Prefecture department of protection for cultural properties
A carving of what is thought to be a shaman is seen on this pottery shard uncovered at the Sannai-Maruyama archaeological site.
A carving of a dancing shaman has been found on an ancient pottery shard unearthed years ago at an archaeological site in Aomori, making it possibly the oldest depiction of a shaman on an artifact uncovered in Japan.

"It is speculated to be a shaman with a ritual tool in hand, praying and dancing. It is a very valuable find," says Michio Okamura, chairman of an expedition committee for the site.

People

US: Bones leave Oak Harbor, Washington vulnerable to lawsuit

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© File Photo
A 1983 photo in the Whidbey News-Times shows then-Oak Harbor Assistant Police Chief Pete Gaalema examining a bone passed to him by Officer Steve Johnson. The bones were believed to have been Native American and were found on SE Pioneer Way.
If it's proved that Oak Harbor officials knew Native American remains were located on SE Pioneer Way but proceeded with the project anyway, the city could be held liable in court.

Under state law RCW 27.44.040, anyone who knowingly removes a cairn or grave of any Native American is guilty of a class "C" felony. And under another section of the same code, RCW 27.44.050, a plaintiff may recover punitive damages upon proof that the violation was willful.

Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Tribal Senate, confirmed this week that the tribe has not opened litigation against the city, despite clear evidence that Oak Harbor officials were aware of a possible burial site adjacent to SE Pioneer Way.

"It's pretty obvious the city ignored (the state's) recommendation to have an archaeologist on site," he said.