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Asian Ancestors Had Sex with Mysterious Human Cousins

Ancient Molar
© David Reich et al., Nature.
A molar tooth belonging to a Denisovan, thought to be a new branch of ancient humans.

Neanderthals weren't the only ancient cousins that humans frequently mated with, according to a new study that finds that East Asian populations share genes with a mysterious archaic hominin species that lived in Siberia 40,000 years ago.

This group, the Denisovans, is known only by a few bone fragments: A finger bone, a tooth and possibly a toe bone, which is still undergoing analysis. The Denisovans likely split off from the Neanderthal branch of the hominin family tree about 300,000 years ago, but little else is known about their appearance, behavior or dress. But just as researchers have learned that ancient humans and Neanderthals mated, they've also found genetic echoes of the Denisovans in modern residents of Pacific islands, including New Guinea and the Philippines.

The new research expands the Denisovan genetic influence, uncovering Denisovan genes in modern East Asian populations. The genetic signal is less strong than it is in the Oceanic islands such as the Philippines, said study researcher Mattias Jakobsson, a professor of evolutionary biology at Uppsala University in Sweden. On the Asian mainland, the genetic similarities to Denisovans are strongest in southern China and Southeast Asia.

"We are actually finding gene flow in Southeast Asia," Jakobsson told LiveScience. "So it's not restricted to the Oceanian parts of the world."

Sherlock

Israel Archaeologists Say Find 1,400-Year-Old Christian Relic

A small box with a cross carved on its lid found in Jerusalem, containing what may have been portraits of Jesus and Mary.

Image
© AP Photo
Christian relic found in Jerusalem, Oct. 30, 2011.
Israeli archaeologists said Sunday they have found a tiny 1,400-year-old relic of Christian faith among the remains of an ancient road in Jerusalem.

The finding, an exquisitely made 2 centimeter by 1.5 centimeter box of bone with a cross carved on the lid, was likely carried by a Christian believer around the end of the 6th century A.D.

When its lid is removed, the remains of two portraits are still visible in gold and paint a man and a woman, possibly Jesus and Mary.

Archaeologist Yana Tchekhanovets of the Israel Antiquities Authority said Sunday that the box is the first well preserved example of its kind and is important because it shows that icon use was not limited to church ceremonies in Byzantine times.

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Wales: Bronze Age Hoard Found in Manorbier, Pembrokeshire

Image
© National Museum Wales
The items can be dated to the Late Bronze Age
A collection of Bronze Age artefacts found by a man with a metal detector in a Pembrokeshire field may end up at the National Museum Wales.

The tools, a weapon, and other items which were found by Gavin Palmer near Manorbier have been declared treasure by the county's coroner.

The museum says the find helps shed light on how people lived in west Wales 3,000 years ago.

It is having the find independently valued with a view to buying the items.

The money would be split between Mr Palmer and the landowner.

Sherlock

India: 115 Gold Coins Found in Farmland in Andhra Pradesh Village

The city police on Wednesday recovered as many as 115 gold coins from the villagers of Kalugutla in Andhra Pradesh's Mahbubnagar district that were found in a farm land.

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© NDTV
Some workers and villagers stumbled upon the gold coins that were kept in small pots while they were removing weeds from an agricultural land at Kalugutla village at Manapadu mandal on Tuesday and distributed some coins amongst themselves.

However, some villagers informed the matter to the police. So far, 115 gold coins have been recovered, a police officer said.

"After the information, we recovered 115 gold coins weighing between 1-3 grams each from the villagers. The coins appear very old. Searches are on to locate if there are some more gold coins. The Manapadu Tahasildar and Archaeological department officials are also enquiring from the villagers about the gold coins and verifying as to which era the coins date back to," he said.

Manapadu police are investigating the case further.

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Egypt: Prostate Cancer Found in 2,200 Year-Old Mummy

Some 2250 years ago in Egypt, a man known today only as M1 struggled with a long, painful, progressive illness. A dull pain throbbed in his lower back, then spread to other parts of his body, making most movements a misery. When M1 finally succumbed to the mysterious ailment between the ages of 51 and 60, his family paid for him to be mummified so that he could be reborn and relish the pleasures of the afterworld.

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© Instituto dos Museus e da Conservação, I.P., Lisbon
Ancient affliction. A high-resolution CT scan of the lumbar spine region of a 2150-year-old Egyptian mummy has just revealed small, round lesions—the oldest case of metastatic prostate cancer in ancient Egyptians
Now an international research team has diagnosed what ailed M1: the oldest known case of prostate cancer in ancient Egypt and the second oldest case in the world. (The earliest diagnosis of prostate cancer came from the 2700-year-old skeleton of a Scythian king in Russia.) Moreover, the new study now in press in the International Journal of Paleopathology, suggests that earlier investigators may have underestimated the prevalence of cancer in ancient populations because high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scanners capable of finding tumors measuring just 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter only became available in 2005. "I think earlier researchers probably missed a lot without this technology," says team leader Carlos Prates, a radiologist in private practice at Imagens Médicas Integradas in Lisbon.

Prostate cancer begins in the walnut-sized prostate gland, an integral part of the male reproductive system. The gland produces a milky fluid that is part of semen and it sits underneath a man's bladder. In aggressive cases of the disease, prostate cancer cells can metastasize, or spread, entering the bloodstream and invading the bones. After performing high-resolution scans on three Egyptian mummies in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Lisbon, Prates and colleagues detected many small, round, dense tumors in M1's pelvis and lumbar spine, as well as in his upper arm and leg bones. These are the areas most commonly affected by metastatic prostate cancer. "We could not find any evidence to challenge this diagnosis," Prates says.

Heart - Black

Friend of Fascism: Writer Nancy Mitford Spied on Sisters

Diana Mosley at rally
© National Archives
Friend of fascism: Diana, second left, at a Nuremberg Rally in 1936
The writer Nancy Mitford spied on her sisters because of their sympathies with Hitler, documents released by the National Archives reveal.

The latest batch of files from the security service MI5 includes a report from January 1941 which says the writer "personally informed the authorities of her sister's (Lady Mosley's) treasonable sympathies.

"The information was given with very good will and is thoroughly reliable."

Lady Diana Mosley married the British blackshirt leader Sir Oswald Mosley and was a friend of Hitler.

A search of her luggage at Croydon airport on one occasion, the files state, turned up a newly signed photograph of him. She was interned in late 1940.

Magic Wand

UK: Stanton Drew stone circle reveals new secrets

Image
© BBC
The survey built on the previous studies carried out by English Heritage
Evidence of a second entrance and a farmstead have been discovered beneath a complex of stone circles in Somerset.

The discovery has been made as part of an underground archaeological survey of the Stanton Drew stone circles.

The complex is the second biggest in Europe and dates back to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age.

An earlier study in 2009 concluded the site was 1,000 years older than previously thought after an underground burial chamber was found.

'Sacred objects'

The studies, which took place in 2009 and 2010, were made by Bath and North East Somerset Council and Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (BACAS) in a joint project.

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Beer & Bullets to Go: Ancient 'Takeout' Window Discovered

Godin Tepe
© Courtesy Royal Ontario Museum
About 5,200 years ago, a mud-brick oval enclosure was built at Godin Tepe. The main building (pictured here) had two windows that may have been used for "takeout."

Some 5,200 years ago, in the mountains of western Iran, people may have used takeout windows to get food and weapons, newly presented research suggests.

But rather than the greasy hamburgers and fries, it appears the inhabitants of the site ordered up goat, grain and even bullets, among other items.

The find was made at Godin Tepe, an archaeological site that was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by a team led by T. Cuyler Young Jr., a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, who died in 2006.

A team of researchers took up his work after he died and recently published the results of the excavation, along with more recent research on the artifacts, in the book On the High Road: The History of Godin Tepe (Hilary Gopnik and Mitchell Rothman, Mazda Publishers, 2011). In addition a symposium was held recently where the takeout windows, among other research finds at Godin Tepe, were discussed.

The idea that they were used as takeout windows was first proposed by Cuyler Young and is based mainly on their height and location beside the central courtyard.

The windows could have been used by ordinary individuals or perhaps by soldiers "driving through" to grab some food, or even weapons.

Sherlock

UK: Mystery Yellow Stone Found in Belfast Hills

Image
© Queen’s University
Cave Hill stone excavation
A mysterious yellow stone which could date back to prehistoric times has been discovered in the hills above Belfast.

The yellow, honeycomb type stone was found by a member of the public as part of an ongoing open archaeological dig in the Ballyaghagan town land on the Upper Hightown Road in the north of the city.

Archaeologists believe it may have been used in prehistoric ceremonies, but they will know more after testing and further study has been carried out on the stone.

Up to 400 people, including groups of school children, have taken part in a public dig on Cavehill over the last week as part of an initiative by the Belfast Hills Partnership.

They have been supervised by archaeologists from the Queen's University's Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork.

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Buddha Statues Found in Cambodia

Archaeologists have unearthed the largest Angkorian-era Buddha statues at the renowned Angkor Wat temple complex in South east Asian country of Cambodia.

Image
© unknown
Headless Buddha stone statue sits on blocks unearthed at the Ta Prom temple in Cambodia
The two headless stone statues have been discovered during the excavation at Ta Prohm temple that if they were complete, they would stand about 10 feet (3 meters) tall, Archaeologica reported.

The statues have been discovered when workers were carrying out the Archaeological Survey of India's 10-year, $ 4 million restoration project.

"The statue is incomplete, missing a large Buddha head with a naga snake fan and part of the base which found in the Hall of Dancers at the temple," described the Indian Embassy First Secretary Saurav Ray.

The statues are believed to date back to the 12th century and are the biggest ones discovered since the 1930s, said the expert for the government's Apsara Authority that oversees the site Ly Vanna.

UNESCO Culture Program specialist Philippe Delanghe asserted that he had deployed a field officer to investigate the impressive find.