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Chile: Archaeologists Uncover Oldest Mine in the Americas

iron oxide mine Chile Taltal
Archaeologists have discovered a 12,000-year-old iron oxide mine in Chile that marks the oldest evidence of organized mining ever found in the Americas, according to a report in the June issue of Current Anthropology.

A team of researchers led by Diego Salazar of the Universidad de Chile found the 40-meter trench near the coastal town of Taltal in northern Chile. It was dug by the Huentelauquen people - the first settlers in the region - who used iron oxide as pigment for painted stone and bone instruments, and probably also for clothing and body paint, the researchers say.

Blackbox

Scotland: King Arthur's Table - or Knot?

Kings Knot Stirling
© TripAdvisor
Archaeologists are using the latest scientific techniques this week in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of the King's Knot - one of Scotland's most enigmatic historic sites.

Many stories have been told about this curious geometrical earthen mound just below Stirling Castle - one being that it was the Round Table where King Arthur gathered his knights.

Others have suggested that it might be partly Iron Age or medieval, or was perhaps used as a Roman fort. Then there are those who think it is a natural feature which was modified as recently as the 1620s, when it is known to have been a grand garden feature, highly visible from nearby Stirling Castle.

Question

Forgeries in the Bible's New Testament?

St. Paul
© Mattiasrex / Wikimedia Commons.
Saint Paul Writing His Epistles.

Nearly half of the New Testament is a forgery, according to a provocative new book which charges that the Apostle Paul authored only a fraction of letters attributed to him, and the Apostle Peter just wrote nothing.

Written by Bart Ehrman, a former evangelical Christian and now agnostic professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the book claims to unveil "one of the most unsettling ironies of the early Christian tradition:" the use of deception to promote the truth.

"The Bible not only contains untruths of accidental mistakes. It also contains what almost anyone today would call lies, Ehrman writes in Forged: Writing in the Name of God -- Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.

According to the biblical scholar, at least 11 of the 27 New Testament books are forgeries, while only seven of the 13 epistles attributed to Paul were probably written by him.

Wolf

Neanderthals Were Cannibals, Study Confirms

Neadnerthals fossile cannibalism

Neandertal fossil bones in block of cemented sand and clay, with foot bones on left, and ribs and vertebra on right, from El Sidrón cave site, Asturias, Spain.
Neanderthals suffered periods of starvation and may have supplemented their diet through cannibalism, according to a study of remains from northwest Spain.

Paleobiologists studied samples from eight 43,000-year-old Neanderthal skeletons excavated from an underground cave in El Sidrón, Spain since 2000. The study sheds light on how Neanderthals lived before the arrival of modern humans in Europe.

Researchers found cut marks and evidence that bones had been torn apart, which they say could indicate cannibalism.

Wolf

Neanderthal 'Family' Possibly Victim of Cannibal Attack

eanderthal family cannibalism
© Lalueza-Fox Lab.
A cave system in El Sidron, Spain, preserved remains of at least 12 Neanderthals who may have been a group of relatives.
The remains of a possible family group of Neanderthals, including an infant, were discovered in a cave in Spain, researchers reported. The bones of the 12 individuals show signs of cannibalism, suggesting another Neanderthal group came along and chowed down on the meat.

This group of Neanderthals died some 49,000 years ago, the research suggests. Shortly after, a violent storm or other natural disaster likely caused the cave to collapse and bury their remains at the El Sidron site.

The finding, detailed last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals for the first time genetic evidence of a social kin Neanderthal group. Analyses suggest the group included three adult males, three adult females, three adolescents (possibly all male), two juveniles (one 5 to 6 years old and the other from 8 to 9), and an infant. [The Many Mysteries of Neanderthals]

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Stone Age Toolkit Found in Siberia

Image
© Agence France-Presse
The region was not covered by massive glaciers, but it was considerably colder than today.
Neanderthals may have lived as far north as the Arctic Circle up to 33,000 years ago, say scientists who found a Stone Age toolkit at a prehistoric archaeological site by Russia's northern Ural mountains.

The collection of more than 300 stone tools at Byzovaya in Siberia were made by Neanderthals living at what must have been one of the most northerly outposts of their range, which extended to western Europe and the Rock of Gibraltar.

The region was not covered by massive glaciers, but it was considerably colder than today. Neanderthals, who had short limbs, thick-set frames and strong jaws, disappeared about 25,000 years ago. They would have hunted game, including mammoth, woolly rhino and musk ox.

Sherlock

Was the 2010 Discovery of Noah's Ark For Real?

Noah's Ark
© n/a
The alleged Noah's Ark discovery
A year ago, the world was a buzz with stories that Noah's ark was found in 2010 - a research expedition claimed to have actually found Noah's Ark.

According to a team of evangelical Christian explorers from Noah's Ark Ministries International (NAMI), they discovered the biblical boat in 2007.

They also claimed to have filmed portions of their find before they went public. That was in April 2010. Now, more than a year later, very little can be found on the "discovery" beyond the initial announcement.

Is it because the location and the find is being kept secret to protect the artifacts or is it because it was an elaborate hoax that fizzled out before it even took off?

Sherlock

On Prehistoric Supercontinent of Pangaea, Latitude and Rain Dictated Where Species Lived

ancient skull bones
© n/a
Tehran- More than 200 million years ago, mammals and reptiles lived in their own separate worlds on the supercontinent Pangaea, despite little geographical incentive to do so. Mammals lived in areas of twice-yearly seasonal rainfall; reptiles stayed in areas where rains came just once a year. Mammals lose more water when they excrete, and thus need water-rich environments to survive. Results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aggregating nearly the entire landmass of Earth, Pangaea was a continent the likes our planet has not seen for the last 200 million years. Its size meant there was a lot of space for animals to roam, for there were few geographical barriers, such as mountains or ice caps, to contain them.

Yet, strangely, animals confined themselves. Studying a transect of Pangaea stretching from about three degrees south to 26 degrees north (a long swath in the center of the continent covering tropical and semiarid temperate zones), a team of scientists led by Jessica Whiteside at Brown University has determined that reptiles, represented by a species called procolophonids, lived in one area, while mammals, represented by a precursor species called traversodont cynodonts, lived in another. Though similar in many ways, their paths evidently did not cross.

Passport

Magic Circles: Walking from Avebury to Stonehenge

Stonehenge
© Frank Lukasseck
Stonehenge, end of the Great Stones Way.
A new walking path links Britain's two greatest prehistoric sites, Avebury and Stonehenge, and is as epic as the Inca Trail

The Great Stones Way is one of those ideas so obvious it seems amazing that no one has thought of it before: a 38-mile walking trail to link England's two greatest prehistoric sites, Avebury and Stonehenge, crossing a landscape covered with Neolithic monuments.

But like any project involving the English countryside, it's not as straightforward as it might seem. The steering group has had to secure permission from landowners and the MoD, who use much of Salisbury Plain for training. They hope to have the whole trail open within a year, but for now are trialling a 14-mile southern stretch, having secured agreement from the MoD and parish councils. The "Plain & Avon" section leads from the iron age hill fort of Casterley Camp on Salisbury Plain down the Avon valley to Stonehenge. Walkers are being encouraged to test the route, and detailed directions can be found on the Friends of the Ridgeway website.

Sherlock

Last Neanderthals Near the Arctic Circle?

examining a mammoth tusk in Byzovaya
© Hugues Plisson
Ludovic Slimak and Pavel Pavlov examining a mammoth tusk in Byzovaya.
Remains found near the Arctic Circle characteristic of Mousterian culture1 have recently been dated at over 28,500 years old, which is more than 8,000 years after Neanderthals are thought to have disappeared. This unexpected discovery by an international multi-disciplinary team, including researchers from CNRS2, challenges previous theories. Could Neanderthals have lived longer than thought? Or had Homo sapiens already migrated to Europe at that stage?

The results are published in Science of 13 May 2011.

The distinguishing feature of Mousterian culture, which developed during the Middle Palaeolithic (-300,000 to -33,000 years), is the use of a very wide range of flint tools, mainly by Neanderthal Man in Eurasia, but also by Homo sapiens in the Near East.

This culture is considered to be archaic, and not sufficiently advanced to allow Neanderthals to settle in the most extreme northern climates. It is thought to have brought about their demise some 33,000 to 36,000 years ago. They seem to have made way for modern humans, who appear to have occupied the whole of Eurasia thanks to their mastery of more advanced technologies.