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Wed, 22 Nov 2017
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Archaeology

Recovering cuneiform, the world's oldest known writing

© Diego Delso/Wikimedia
A relief at the ancient Persian city of Persepolis (now in modern Iran), including inscriptions in cuneiform, the world's oldest form of writing.
It is a little-known piece of history that Saddam Hussein was a great fan of ancient Mesopotamian literature. His enthusiasm for epics written in cuneiform - the world's oldest known form of writing - can be seen in his own efforts at writing political romance novels and poetry. Hussein's first novel, Zabibah and the King, blended the Epic of Gilgamesh with the 1001 Nights, and was adapted into a television series and a musical.

Indeed, the Iraqi dictator was said to be so immersed in his novel-writing that he left much of the military strategising to his sons leading up to the 2003 war. He continued writing in prison, using a card table as a writing desk. This example from the modern genre of "dictator literature" provides an unusual insight into the diverse reception of cuneiform literature in the modern day.

The decipherment of cuneiform in the late 18th century, a tale of academic virtuosity and daring, revealed a "forgotten age" and challenged the traditional, biblical view of history. One scholar was even put on trial for heresy for the wonders he uncovered in the translated script.

For over 3,000 years, cuneiform was the primary language of communication throughout the Ancient Near East (roughly corresponding to the Middle East today) and into parts of the Mediterranean. The dominance of the cuneiform writing style in antiquity has led scholars to refer to it as "the script of the first half of the known history of the world". Yet it disappeared from use and understanding by 400 CE, and the processes and causes of the script's vanishing act remain somewhat enigmatic.

USA

3 mass shootings that the US government would rather you forgot - Because they were responsible for them

The Las Vegas shooting has been called "the deadliest shooting in US History," but there are several mass shootings from the past that have killed many more

As the death toll continued to rise from the Las Vegas shooting, media outlets were quick to call it "the deadliest shooting in U.S. History." However, that title was soon changed to "the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. History," as tales of past mass shootings on American soil were unearthed.

Here are three mass shootings in the United States with death tolls surpassing the Las Vegas shooting:

Sand Creek Massacre - Nov. 29, 1864

A horrific scene unfolded in Colorado in 1864, when a blood-thirsty army of U.S. Calvary members slaughtered over 500 peaceful Native Americans living in a village at Sand Creek. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes were living on land that was rightfully theirs, as was acknowledged by a treaty with the U.S. government.

Comment: And given the trajectory of the military-industrial-security-complex and apparatus currently in place, the worst, quite sadly, is probably yet to come.


Archaeology

Prehistoric humans developed sophisticated social systems to prevent inbreeding

© José-Manuel Benito Álvarez / Wikipedia
Even 34,000 years ago, our ancestors knew having sex with their relatives was a bad idea. Analysis of ancient human remains found in Russia has revealed that even among an extremely small society, incest did not take place.

The study, led by Cambridge University and the University of Copenhagen, says prehistoric humans developed surprisingly sophisticated social and mating networks and deliberately sought partners beyond their families.

The study has led to speculation that this could partly explain why anatomically-modern humans proved more successful than other species such as Neanderthals that did not avoid inbreeding.

Researchers examined genetic remains of four anatomically-modern humans from Sunghir, an Upper Paleolithic site in Russia. Unusually for finds from this period, the people were found buried together.

To the researchers' surprise, the individuals were not closely related in genetic terms. At the very most, they were second cousins. This is true even in the case of two children who were buried head-to-head in the same grave.

War Whore

October 5, 2000: Remembering Yugoslavia, the West's first color revolution victim

© Reuters
A fireman and a doctor observe the burning Interior Ministry in downtown Belgrade April 3. 1999
While Washington makes evidence-less claims of Russian interference in US politics, it is worth remembering an epidemic of "color revolutions" around the world openly sponsored by the US, which began in Serbia 17 years ago.

October 5, 2000 now seems a lifetime ago. It is worth reaching that far back in the memory to the first "color revolution," a technique developed to overthrow governments Washington disliked and replacing them with more favorable and compliant ones.

According to the official narrative crafted by the Western media and their franchises in Serbia, the righteous people revolted against the corrupt, dictatorial regime of Slobodan Milosevic, took to the streets of Belgrade, stormed the public TV station and the parliament, and established freedom and democracy without bloodshed.

There is just one problem. None of it is true.

The US has long tried to replace Milosevic with someone more willing to obey unconditionally and remake what was then still Yugoslavia into yet another eastern European country that was "transitioned" from Communism and despoiled in the process. Previous attempts at doing so, from the 1995 intervention in Bosnia to the 1999 NATO attack and occupation of Kosovo, failed.

After Milosevic held out against the alliance for 78 days and eventually struck a negotiated armistice, agents of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Soros Open Society Fund, USAID and other quasi-NGOs answering to Washington stepped up plans for regime change by other means.

Comment:


Blue Planet

Vietnamese farmer discovers a spectacular world: Sơn Đoòng cave estimated 5M years old is the world's largest cave

The Sơn Đoòng cave in Vietnam is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular places we can visit on the planet. It was first discovered by a local farmer in 1991, but it took 18 years before scientists were able to make their way into the cave and see what was hiding there.

What a sight it must have been!

The Sơn Đoòng cave is not only the world's largest cave, it is a separate little world. Under the roof there is enough space to fit a 40 storey skyscraper. It has its own separate jungle, a river and a rich wildlife. The cave is five times larger than Phong Nha cave, a nearby cave previously considered the biggest cave in Vietnam.

Sơn Đoòng means "Mountain river cave" and the researchers estimate that the cave is about five million years old. The largest room in the Sơn Đoòng cave is more than five kilometers long and stretches 200 meters into the air. With these dimensions, Sơn Đoòng overtook Deer Cave in Malaysia in 2009 to take the title of the world's largest cave.


MIB

Addicts, armies and agents: How the CIA turned Vietnam and Laos into a lucrative drug trafficking enterprise

At 7:30 a.m., on March 16, 1968, Task Force Barker descended on the small hamlet of My Lai in the Quang Nai province of South Vietnam. Two squads cordoned off the village and one, led by Lieutenant William Calley, moved in and, accompanied by US Army Intelligence officers, began to slaughter all the inhabitants. Over the next eight hours US soldiers methodically killed 504 men, women and children.

As the late Ron Ridenhour, who first exposed the massacre, said years later to one of the present authors, "Above My Lai were helicopters filled with the entire command staff of the brigade, division and task force. All three tiers in the chain of command were literally flying overhead while it was going on. It takes a long time to kill 600 people. It's a dirty job, you might say. These guys were flying overhead from 7:30 in the morning, when the unit first landed and began to move into those hamlets. They were there at least two hours, at 500 feet, 1000 feet and 1500 feet."

Comment: Now, more than 50 years after the depicted events, the CIA's massive criminal enterprise has only seen an even more 'aggressive expansion' - employed by "amiable psychopaths" who destroy the lives of millions - in order to ensure continuance of "the Company".

See:


Info

Pre-dynastic rock art discovered in Egypt

© Ahram Online
During an archaeological survey in the desert of Subeira Valley, south Aswan, an Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities stumbled upon pre-Dynastic rock markings.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained that the markings can be dated to the late pre-Dynastic era, and were found engraved on sandstone rocks. They depict scenes of troops of renowned animals at that time, such as hippopotamuses, wild bulls and donkeys, as well as gazelles. Markings showing workshops for the production of tools and instruments were also found on some of the rocks.

Nasr Salama, director general of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, described the newly discovered markings as "unique and rare" in Egypt. He pointed out that similar markings were previously uncovered at sites in Al-Qarta and Abu Tanqoura, north of Komombo town.

Key

US-UK intelligence 'hold key' to the demise of UN Sec. Gen. Dag Hammarskjold 56 years ago

© New York Times
Former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold
A United Nations investigation into the death of Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in 1961 could be edging closer to solving the mystery. It is understood the UK and US intelligence services could be sitting on vital evidence.

The death, in a plane crash, of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961 has been a mystery ever since but a new investigation could be edging closer to solving it. Research by Swedish aid worker Goran Bjorkdahl and Susan Williams, a senior fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London, has forced the UN to reopen the case.

"My own conclusion... is that Hammarskjold's DC6 was brought down and that the motive was to maintain the west's control over Katanga minerals. It is significant that the UN, after Hammarskjöld's death, has become less of a challenge to the big powers," wrote Bjorkdahl back in 2011.

Padlock

Camp Algiers: An internment camp for Nazi sympathizers and Jewish refugees, erased from US history

© TheFREETHOUGHTPROJECT.com
As neo-Nazis face off against AntiFa at various protests across the country, the media fanfare often leaves the public asking how much free speech groups should be allowed when it comes to their extreme beliefs. Advocates of freedom will argue that free speech extends to all, no matter how abhorrent their beliefs--but to truly see the reality of what occurs when groups are targeted for their suspected beliefs, just look at history.

After the Pearl Harbor attack occurred on Dec. 7, 1941, tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps, based solely on their heritage. The Roosevelt Administration did not stop there, and a significant portion of its wrath was carried out in another camp that is not mentioned in most history textbooks: Camp Algiers.

Camp Algiers was located in New Orleans, and while it was labeled as an internment camp for Nazi sympathizers from Latin America, a large percentage of the detainees were Jewish. The camp's legacy was detailed in a report by WWNO, New Orleans Public Radio.

Max Paul Friedman, a history professor at American University and an expert on the Latin American deportation operation during WWII, told WWNO that with over 1.5 million Germans lived in Latin America in the early 1940s, and the Roosevelt Administration made a case for the idea that "some of them might be Nazi agitators and even saboteurs and spies who could conceivably rise up and overthrow governments, and open up another front."

Boat

Vikings were never the pure-bred master race that white supremacists would like to portray

The word "Viking" entered the Modern English language in 1807, at a time of growing nationalism and empire building. In the decades that followed, enduring stereotypes about Vikings developed, such as wearing horned helmets and belonging to a society where only men wielded high status.

During the 19th century, Vikings were praised as prototypes and ancestor figures for European colonists. The idea took root of a Germanic master race, fed by crude scientific theories and nurtured by Nazi ideology in the 1930s. These theories have long been debunked, although the notion of the ethnic purity of the Vikings still seems to have popular appeal - and it is embraced by white supremacists.