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Prehistorical petroglyph discovered in central Iran

Prehistorical petroglyph
© Tehran Times
Tehran - A prehistorical petroglyph, which bears Pahlavi script written by ordinary people of the time, has recently been found during an archaeological survey in Teymareh region of Khomein county, central Iran.

"This is the sixth petroglyph, engraved with Pahlavi script, which has so far been found in the highlands of Teymareh. And the petroglyph is estimated to date back to 2,200 years ago," IRIB quoted Iranian archaeologist Mohammad Nasserifard as saying on Wednesday.

"The difference between this inscription and other inscriptions of the Pahlavi script discovered in Iran, (which have been inscriptions ordered by monarchs and rulers) is that these manuscripts belong to ordinary people and those who were far from the power and governments," Nasserifard explained.

Pahlavi is a particular, exclusively written form of various Middle Iranian languages. Pahlavi compositions have been found for the dialects/ethnolects of Parthia, Persis, Sogdiana, Scythia, and Khotan.

Talking about the significance of the relics, the top archaeologist said "From the content of their texts, we can learn about the social and anthropological views of the Iranian people who lived in this region about two millennia ago."

"Therefore, the texts of these inscriptions are first-hand documents that can help researchers to discover more about the life of ordinary people who lived in this region some 2,200 years ago."

Colosseum

Ancient Canaanite scepter may be first proof of life-sized 'divine statues'

Canaanite
© Canaanite
A scepter from the Canaanite temple that is believed to have been part of a life-sized "divinity statue."
An approximately 3,200-year-old scepter found at a biblical site in southern Israel may be the first physical evidence of life-sized "divine statues" used in Canaanite rituals, according to a new report.

Yosef Garfinkel, an archaeology professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote in the academic journal Antiquity that the scepter, which was made from bronze and coated in silver, was discovered inside the cellar of a Canaanite temple at Lachish.

He linked the scepter, which looks like a spatula, to a scepter found at Hatzor in the north, as well as to a small figurine found at the site of a Canaanite temple at Meggido.

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Cow Skull

Oldest and largest Viking settlement possibly unearthed in Iceland

Viking
© Bjarni Einarsson
The oldest of the two Viking longhouses at Stöð dates from around A.D. 800, several decades before the commonly accepted date of the settlement of Iceland in A.D. 874.
Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest Viking settlement in Iceland.

The ancient longhouse is thought to be a summer settlement built in the 800s, decades before seafaring refugees are supposed to have settled the island, and was hidden beneath a younger longhouse brimming with treasures, said archaeologist Bjarni Einarsson, who led the excavations.

"The younger hall is the richest in Iceland so far," Einarsson told Live Science. "It is hard not to conclude that it is a chieftain's house."

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Blue Planet

Africa's Lost Kingdoms

Mansa Musa
© Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
Mansa Musa, the king of Mali, approached by a Berber on camelback; detail from The Catalan Atlas, attributed to the Majorcan mapmaker Abraham Cresques, 1375.
Africa has never lacked civilizations, nor has it ever been as cut off from world events as it has been routinely portrayed.

There is a broad strain in Western thought that has long treated Africa as existing outside of history and progress; it ranges from some of our most famous thinkers to the entertainment that generations of children have grown up with. There are Disney cartoons that depict barely clothed African cannibals merrily stewing their victims in giant pots suspended above pit fires.1 Among intellectuals there is a wealth of appalling examples. Voltaire said of Africans,
"A time will come, without a doubt, when these animals will know how to cultivate the earth well, to embellish it with houses and gardens, and to know the routes of the stars. Time is a must, for everything."
Hegel's views of Africa were even more sweeping:
"What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World's History."
One can hear echoes of such views even today from Western politicians. Donald Trump referred to a number of African nations as "shithole countries" in 2018, and French president Emmanuel Macron said in 2017, "The challenge Africa faces is completely different and much deeper" than those faced by Europe. "It is civilizational."

It may remain a little-known fact, but Africa has never lacked civilizations, nor has it ever been as cut off from world events as it has been routinely portrayed. Some remarkable new books make this case in scholarly but accessible terms, and they admirably complicate our understanding of Africa's past and present.

Map

Huge volcanic eruption in Alaska linked to rise of Roman Empire in new study

Volcanic Eruption
© InterNetwork Media/Getty Images
The assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE triggered a nearly two-decade power struggle that led to the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.

Historic records say the period was marked with strange sightings in the sky, unusually cold weather and widespread famine - and a new study suggests a volcanic eruption in Alaska may have been the cause.

The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

An international team of scientists and historians used an analysis of volcanic ash (tephra) found in Arctic ice cores to link the period of unexplained extreme climate in the Mediterranean with the crater-forming eruption of Alaska's Okmok volcano in 43 BCE.

"To find evidence that a volcano on the other side of the Earth erupted and effectively contributed to the demise of the Romans and the Egyptians and the rise of the Roman Empire is fascinating," said lead author Joe McConnell of the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, Nevada.

The advent of the Roman Empire also brought an end to the dynasty of Ptolemies, the last of the pharaohs.

Light Saber

The Father of Capitalism and the Abolition of Slavery

adam smith slavery abolition

Adam Smith
It has become a common trope that slavery and the slave trade is responsible for the industrial revolution, if not our entire modern prosperity. Slavery is often called capitalism's "dark side." A recent column in the Guardian claimed the slave trade "heralded the age of capitalism" and Guardian columnist George Monbiot said on Twitter: "The more we discover about our own history, the less the 'trade' on which Britain built its wealth looks like exchange, and the more it looks like looting. It meant extracting stolen resources and the products of slavery, debt bondage and land theft from other nations." The same line has been taken by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who tweeted: "It's a sad truth that much of our wealth was derived from the slave trade."

But what did the "father of modern economics," Adam Smith, actually think about slavery? And is it responsible for our modern prosperity?

Adam Smith argued not only that slavery was morally reprehensible, but that it causes economic self-harm. He provided economic and moral ammunition for the abolitionist movement that came to fruition after his death in 1790. Smith was pessimistic about the potential for full abolition, but he was on the side of the angels.

Map

Huge 4,500-year-old stone circle discovered near Stonehenge

structure near stone henge
© Picture: PA/Metro.co.uk
The vast neolithic circle of deep shafts was found near Stonehenge
Archaeologists have discovered a major new prehistoric monument just a short distance away from Stonehenge. Some 20 or more massive prehistoric shafts - more than 10 metres wide and five metres deep - form a vast circle more than two kilometres in diameter around the Durrington Walls henge. Coring of the shafts suggest the features are neolithic and excavated more than 4,500 years ago, around the time Durrington Walls was built. It is thought the shafts served as a boundary to a sacred area or precinct associated with the henge.

Comment: For the truth about Stonehenge check out Secret History of the World by Laura Knight-Jadczyk.




Russian Flag

Russia vis a vis Europe: Two different histories

Russian army parade
© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
Moscow's Victory Parade in Red Square
A considerable amount of baggage has become attached to the word "European" over the half-millennium that Europe has dominated the world. There's the geographical meaning - from the Atlantic to the Urals - but, because Europe is a peninsula on the western end of Asia, the frontier is subject to debate. Diplomats sometimes use the word to mean members of the European Union. But the most important meaning is the value-laden one - to be "European" is to be modern, civilised, rational, to hold "values", to be successful. To be powerful. Not to be "European" is to be none of these things, perhaps even their opposites. Europeans are rulers and exemplars; the others are subjects and inferiors. Throughout the period of European domination, to be considered "European" was favoured and to adopt European habits, dress styles, education and appearance was desirable. Not to be "European", on the other hand, was an insult: your culture didn't make the grade. This meaning is commonly found today, especially in the smug phrase "European values".

I have been considering writing this essay for some years but have put off doing so because I know that for many readers "Europe" means "best" and to say Russia is not European is to say that it's not good enough. But at last President Putin has given me the opening: "Россия - это не просто страна, это действительно отдельная цивилизация". "Russia, it's not simply a country it is certainly a separate civilisation". And who would dare disagree with him?

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Info

The world's first astronomical site was built in Africa and is older than Stonehenge

Stone circle of Nabta Playa
© Wikimedia Commons
The stone circle of Nabta Playa marks the summer solstice, a time that coincided with the arrival of monsoon rains in the Sahara Desert thousands of years ago.
For thousands of years, ancient societies all around the world erected massive stone circles, aligning them with the Sun and stars to mark the seasons. These early calendars foretold the coming of spring, summer, fall, and winter, helping civilizations track when to plant and harvest crops. They also served as ceremonial sites, both for celebration and sacrifice.

These megaliths — large, prehistoric monuments made of stone — may seem mysterious in our modern era, when many people lack a connection with, or even view of, the stars. Some even hold them up as supernatural, or divined by aliens. But many ancient societies kept time by tracking which constellations rose at sunset, like reading a giant, celestial clock. And others pinpointed the Sun's location in the sky on the summer and winter solstice, the longest and shortest days of the year, or the spring and fall equinox.

Europe alone holds some 35,000 megaliths, including many astronomically-aligned stone circles, as well as tombs (or cromlechs) and other standing stones. These structures were mostly built between 6,500 and 4,500 years ago, largely along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.

The most famous of these sites is Stonehenge, a monument in England that's thought to be around 5,000 years old. Though still old, at that age, Stonehenge may have been one of the youngest such stone structures to be built in Europe.

The chronology and extreme similarities between these widespread European sites leads some researchers to think the regional tradition of constructing megaliths first emerged along the coast of France. It was then passed across the region, eventually reaching Great Britain.

But even these primitive sites are at least centuries younger than the world's oldest known stone circle: Nabta Playa.

Located in Africa, Nabta Playa stands some 700 miles south of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. It was built more than 7,000 years ago, making Nabta Playa the oldest stone circle in the world — and possibly Earth's oldest astronomical observatory. It was constructed by a cattle worshiping cult of nomadic people to mark the summer solstice and the arrival of the monsoons.

"Here is human beings' first attempt to make some serious connection with the heavens," J. McKim Malville, a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado and archaeoastronomy expert, tells Astronomy.

"This was the dawn of observational astronomy," he adds. "What in the world did they think about it? Did they imagine these stars were gods? And what kinds of connections did they have with the stars and the stones?"

Blue Planet

Affluent Galilean Christian town destroyed in 7th century unearthed by archeologists

Byzantine
© Israel Antiquities Authority
Part of a Byzantine-era mosaic unearthed in 2007 in northern Israel at the Pi Mazuva dig site.
Israeli archaeologists have published a 360-degree analysis of a rural, affluent Christian town in the Galilee that was most likely destroyed by Persian invaders in 613 CE.

Unearthed in 2007 in a salvage excavation before roadworks near Shlomi and Kibbutz Hanita, the remains of the Byzantine settlement at Pi Mazuva are located in modern Israel's northwest corner on the border with Lebanon. The finds include Christian iconography, a large house and a colorful, high-quality, partially preserved mosaic floor.

The findings were published in June's edition of Atiqot, a research journal produced by the Israel Antiquities Authority, and initially reported on in Haaretz. The lead researchers were Gilad Cinamon, Yoav Lerer, Gabriela Bijovsky and Rina Talgam.

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