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Skull-Cups Found in a British Cave Conjure an Ancient Rite

Skull-Cup
© Natural History Museum of London
A skull-cup found in Gough’s Cave in Somerset, England.

The three human braincases, two from adults and one from a child, were carefully skinned and cleaned with flint tools. The soft tissue was removed and probably consumed, leaving a well-shaped cup, perhaps made for use in some sort of ritual.

This is not a scene from a horror movie. British paleoanthropologists report their discovery of these skull-cups in the current issue of the journal PLoS One. The 14,700-year-old cups were found in Gough's Cave in Somerset, England, and are the oldest directly dated skull-cups known, based on radiocarbon analysis.

"It shows, really, how skilled these people were in shaping the skull, and also the fact that it was a very complex ritual," said Silvia Bello, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London and the study's lead author.

Magnify

Humans Living in East Africa 200,000 Years Ago Were as Complex in their Behavior as Humans Living Today

Image
© Unknown
In a paper recently published in Current Anthropology, SBU Professor John Shea disproves the myth that the earliest humans were significantly different from us. The idea that human evolution follows a progressive trajectory is one of the most deeply-entrenched assumptions about Homo sapiens evolution. In fact, archaeologists have long believed that modern human behaviors emerged tens of thousands of years after our species first evolved. And while scientists disagreed over whether the process was gradual or quick, they have agreed that Homo sapiens once lived who were very different from us.

Info

Olmec Sculpture Uncovered in Mexico

Olmec Statue_1
© Past Horizons
Map showing the location of Ojo de Agua, in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

The main character in the sculpted relief of a newly discovered stone monument has one arm raised and a determined scowl, but John Hodgson, a University of Wisconsin-Madison archaeologist feels that we may never know who he was or indeed, the true meaning of the sculpture in its entirety.

The stone monument was discovered in 2009 at a site called Ojo de Agua in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico, and is described in the cover article of the current issue (December 2010) of Mexicon.

Monument 3 is the second sculpted relief to be found in Ojo de Agua. Monument 1 was discovered by accident when a local farmer hit it with a plough in the 1960s and Monument 3 was a similarly fortuitous find, uncovered in the process of digging an irrigation ditch. (Monument 2 is a large boulder with a flat surface but with no visible carving, found by Hodgson in 2005).

Hodgson was fortunate to be working in the area and was told of the find just a few days after its discovery. Rushing to the site he was still able to see the impression of the carving in the sides of the trench and he could record the layers where it had been buried, gaining a wealth of information that is usually lost in chance discoveries such as this.
"Usually sculptures are first seen by archaeologists in private art collections and we normally have no good idea where they came from. The depictions of figures and the motifs change in form through time so you can get an approximate date by comparing styles," he said. "But we were able to date the new monument by where it was found to a narrow 100-year window, which is very rare."

Cow Skull

Introduction of the Agriculture: Northern hunters slowed down advance of Neolithic farmers

Image
© Unknown
One of the most significant socioeconomic changes in the history of humanity took place around 10,000 years ago, when the Near East went from an economy based on hunting and gathering (Mesolithic) to another kind on agriculture (Neolithic). Farmers rapidly entered the Balkan Peninsula and then advanced gradually throughout the rest of Europe.

Various theories have been proposed over recent years to explain this process, and now physicists from the University of Girona (UdG) have for the first time presented a new model to explain how the Neolithic front slowed down as it moved towards the north of the continent. The study has been published in the New Journal of Physics.

"The model shows that the farmers' dispersal and reproduction was limited by the high density of hunter-gatherers in northern Europe", Neus Isern, a physicist at the UdG and lead author of the study, tells SINC.

By between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago, the first farmers from Asia were already cultivating land in what is now Greece, but in the areas today occupied by the United Kingdom, Denmark and Northern Germany this did not happen until around 3,000 years later. This can be seen from archaeological remains.

Gear

Jericho's Tower: World's first skyscraper sought to intimidate masses, promote agriculture?

Image
© Travelujah
Constructed 11,000 years ago, Jericho tower was aimed at promoted the farming life, archeologists say.

The world's first skyscraper was built by early farmers, who were frightened into erecting a solar marker by mankind's early bosses, archaeologists say.

Long before its Biblical walls came tumbling down, Jericho's residents were being enticed to give up hunting and gathering and start farming for a living. They settled in this oasis next to the Jordan River and built a mysterious 8.5-meter (28-foot) stone tower on the edge of town.

When discovered by archaeologists in 1952, it was dated at over 11,000 years old, making it the first and oldest public building even found. But its purpose and the motivation for erecting it has been debated ever since.

Now, using computer technology, Israeli archaeologists are saying it was built to mark the summer solstice and as a symbol that would entice people to abandon their nomadic ways and settle down.

"The tower was constructed by a major building effort. People were working for a very long time and very hard. It was not like the other domestic buildings in Jericho," said Ran Barkai of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, who was part of a team that did the computer analysis.

Comment: From the Superluminal Communication session dated 02 November, 1994:

Q: (L) Who were the original inhabitants of the city of Jericho?
A: Aramaic.
Q: (L) There was a stone tower at one of the lower levels, what was it built for?
A: Energy disbursement. Attempt to duplicate tower of Babel and Atlantean crystal towers.

Also read Origins of Agriculture - Did Civilization Arise to Deliver a Fix? to understand how introducing agriculture contributed to the gradual decline of our civilization.


Cult

Jewish ritual bath found in Baltimore may be oldest in U.S.

Image
© Algerina Perna
Archaeologists peeling back layers of history beneath the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue in East Baltimore have uncovered what is believed to be the oldest Jewish ritual bath complex in the United States.

Hints of the presence of the 1845 bath, or "mikveh," were first detected during excavations in 2001. But further digging this winter has revealed about a quarter of a five-foot-deep wooden tub, and linked it to a related cistern found in 2008, and to remains of a brick hearth once used to warm the bath's water.

"The idea of a ritual bath complex helps fill out the history of Jewish religious practice in this country," said Avi Decter, executive director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, of which the old Lloyd Street Synagogue is now a part. "This is a very ancient practice, going back thousands of years."

The 1845 mikveh is just a few feet away from a pair of more modern, tile-lined baths, built and used by the Shomrei Misheres Orthodox congregation that used the building after 1905.

Question

"Wildest Mammoth in the West" Found?

While researchers in northern Colorado dig up the bones of giant Ice Age mammoths (see gallery), others nearby in southeastern Utah are looking at a very different record of these extinct creatures.

High on a cliff overlooking the floodplain of the San Juan River, rock art specialists Ekkehart Malotki and Henry Wallace have examined several highly stylized images carved into the rock face including what they believe to be the first example of prehistoric Native American rock art to show a mammoth. While such images are common in the caves of Europe, they are surprisingly unknown in the New World.

Image
© Ekkehart Malotki
This image from 15 feet up a cliff face in southeastern Utah shows two overlapping engravings, including one interpreted by researchers as a mammoth.
To be sure, many other American mammoth images have surfaced in the past two centuries, but until recently all had either disappeared or been shown to be forgeries. In 2009 however a bone from Vero Beach, Florida surfaced with a detailed engraving of a mammoth, and several tests and expert opinions have so far supported its authenticity. Here too though, further tests are needed before a final verdict is reached. (Read more about the Vero Beach mammoth.)

Well aware of this history of promise and disappointment, Malotki and Wallace set out to verify this most recent find.

Magnify

US: In Pacific Discovery, Traces of Nantucket and 'Moby-Dick'

Remains of an 1800s Nantucket whaling ship with a poignant tie to the book Moby-Dick have been discovered on a remote reef almost 600 miles northwest of Honolulu.


The Two Brothers is the first wrecked Nantucket whaler to be discovered, and the chance find illuminates an era when close to 150 whaling ships from this tiny island set out across the world's oceans in search of the lucrative oil extracted from blubber and left behind the near-extinction of many whale species.

While marine archeologists are ecstatic at the information they hope to glean from the coral-encrusted cooking pots and blubber hooks, the artifacts also complete the tale of a famously cursed captain: George Pollard Jr., who had commanded the Essex, the whaler from Nantucket that was sunk by an enraged sperm whale and inspired Herman Melville to write his classic novel.

Bulb

New View of Human Evolution? 3.2 Million-Year-Old Fossil Foot Bone Supports Humanlike Bipedalism in Lucy's Species

Image
© Carol Ward/University of Missouri
This image shows the position of the fourth metatarsal Australopithecus afarensis (AL 333-160) recovered from Hadar, Ethiopia, in a foot skeleton.
A fossilized foot bone recovered from Hadar, Ethiopia, shows that by 3.2 million years ago human ancestors walked bipedally with a modern human-like foot, a report that appears Feb. 11 in the journal Science, concludes. The fossil, a fourth metatarsal, or midfoot bone, indicates that a permanently arched foot was present in the species Australopithecus afarensis, according to the report authors, Carol Ward of the University of Missouri, together with William Kimbel and Donald Johanson, of Arizona State University's Institute of Human Origins.

The research helps resolve a long-standing debate between paleoanthropologists who think A. afarensis walked essentially as modern humans do and those who think this species practiced a form of locomotion intermediate between the quadrupedal tree-climbing of chimpanzees and human terrestrial bipedalism. The question of whether A. afarensis had fully developed pedal, or foot, arches has been part of this debate. The fourth metatarsal described in the Science report provides strong evidence for the arches and, the authors argue, support a modern-human style of locomotion for this species. The specimen was recovered from the Hadar locality 333, popularly known as the "First Family Site," the richest source of A. afarensis fossils in eastern Africa, with more than 250 specimens, representing at least 17 individuals, so far known.

Bad Guys

From Dresden to Gaza: Some people never change

Goodnes over Dresden
© Richard Peter, 1946, Air Force Magazine
August Schreitmüller's sandstone sculpture "The Goodness" on Dresden's town hall overlooking the city in 1946, after the February 13-15, 1945 bombing.
64 years since that ill-fated day when Dresden was completely destroyed by the Allied forces and defenseless civilians perished helplessly in a firestorm of bombing raids, questions remain unanswered. One of the most beautiful and green-laden cities of Europe, "with a pleasant location and a mild climate on the Elbe, Baroque-style architecture housing numerous world-renowned museums and art collections, Dresden became known as 'Elbflorenz' (Florence on the Elbe)." The descriptions of the city as well as pictures from that time also give us an idea about the people inhabiting it: they must have been individuals who cared about beauty, art and nature, and who were predominantly civilized and refined, personality traits reflected in their cityscape. But their lives were destined to change overnight, the beautiful city traumatised by the horrific events of Valentine's Day 1945, its charred remains testimony to the psychopaths in power's relentless oppression of humanity.

As we now know, after years of following the events of our world and observing how the pathocrats make war as an excuse to "express their thirst for blood and evilness", the deliberate targeting of the most humane of people is a favorite tactic, one with the added benefit of extinguishing certain bloodlines and genetics. It wouldn't be surprising if the pathocrats wanted Dresden destroyed for what it stood for, as a symbolic warning to the rest of humanity. And the psychopathic leaders of the time went over and beyond with brutality, ceasing only at humanity's opposition. That's how psychopaths gauge when enough is enough, since they don't posses the internal "stop-cruelty switch" themselves. Same story with the recent carnage in Gaza. Without humanity voicing its opposition (citizens rather than heads of states and governments), the Israeli government would have "cleared out" Gaza completely. And so the British and US forces, following commands from above, unleashed hell on the city of Dresden.