Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 10 Dec 2023
The World for People who Think

Secret History


US: 4th-Grade 'Paleontologists' Discover 11,500-Year-Old Mastodon Hair

© Linda Azaroff
Fourth-grade scientists in action, sifting through dirt from a mastodon excavation.
Earlier this year, Linda Azaroff's fourth-grade class received a 2.2-pound (1-kilogram) box containing what one student described as a "clump of dirt."

But this wasn't just any dirt - it was sediment, or matrix, collected from a backyard in Hyde Park, N.Y., in 2000, where a project to deepen a backyard pond uncovered the remains of a mastodon - an extinct elephantlike animal. Working under a deadline, but not wanting to miss any important pieces, excavators carted away about 22,000 pounds (10,000 kg) of matrix from around the bones, more than they could realistically sort through in the years to come.

The excavators turned to citizen scientists volunteering for the Mastodon Matrix Project, which enlists school classes, hobbyists, families and other volunteers scour the matrix from mastodon excavations. Since 2008 alone, more than 3,500 participants from around the U.S. have worked on matrix from Hyde Park.

"One of the huge limiting things form a scientific standpoint is we often don't have the staff time either from interns or scientists themselves to go through all of this stuff," said Carlyn Buckler, an education and outreach associate at the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), which operates the Mastodon Matrix Project. "The more data we can get, the more complete a picture we will come up with about the environment."

This approach isn't unique; students and other citizen scientists can contribute their time and effort to a variety of projects, from recording road kill to counting stars. In return, volunteers get hands-on experience with science and the chance to contribute to real research projects.


Vietnam: Mysterious Ancient Square Wells in Vinh Phuc

Old square wells of over 600 years old in the northern province of Vinh Phuc are special, for their square shape and are mysterious through tales told by locals.

The wells in Ba Hien, Vinh Phuc, are different from all wells in Vietnam's countryside, since well mouths are in square shape, which are made by four rectangular pieces of rock. These wells are from 4 to 7 meters deep and they are always full with water.

Local people thought that these wells were built by Chinese because the well mouths have Chinese scripts. Recently the local authorities invited experts to examine the wells, and they said that the wells were build by Vietnamese people over 600 years ago.


UK: Archeology Volunteers Uncover 'Lost' Castle

© North Pennines AONB Partnership
A castle that was once one of the most important buildings in the North Pennines and the gateway to the Bishop of Durham's great deer park of Stanhope, is now revealing its secrets after centuries as a forgotten ruin.

Fifty volunteers from the North Pennines AONB Partnership's Altogether Archaeology and backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage are busy uncovering the ruins of Westgate Castle in Weardale.

From the 13th until the early 17th century, Westgate Castle served as the 'west gate' into the Bishop of Durham's great deer park, and functioned as an administrative headquarters for the Bishop's extensive estate encompassing the Old Forest of Weardale.
© North Pennines AONB Partnership
A wall of the old castle is revealed.

By the mid 17th century it lay in ruins and its masonry was quarried for new buildings.

Paul Frodsham, the North Pennines AONB Partnership's Historic Environment Officer said: "Today, nothing of its masonry survives above ground, but recent geophysical survey suggests that substantial walls survive buried below the surface. We're not aiming to excavate the entire site, but just to uncover a sample of what survives in order to help inform plans for its future".

Arrow Down

Early Bronze Age Battle Site Found on German River Bank

© D Jantzen
One of the finds from the site included this human skull with a large fracture
Fractured human remains found on a German river bank could provide the first compelling evidence of a major Bronze Age battle.

Archaeological excavations of the Tollense Valley in northern Germany unearthed fractured skulls, wooden clubs and horse remains dating from around 1200 BC.

The injuries to the skulls suggest face-to-face combat in a battle perhaps fought between warring tribes, say the researchers.

The paper, published in the journal Antiquity, is based primarily on an investigation begun in 2008 of the Tollense Valley site, which involved both ground excavations and surveys of the riverbed by divers.

They found remains of around 100 human bodies, of which eight had lesions to their bones. Most of the bodies, but not all, appeared to be young men.

The injuries included skull damage caused by massive blows or arrowheads, and some of the injuries appear to have been fatal.

One humerus (upper arm) bone contained an arrow head embedded more than 22mm into the bone, while a thigh bone fracture suggests a fall from a horse (horse bones were also found at the site).


Maya Blue: Mysterious Color of the Mayan Rain God

© Ancient-tides.blogspot.com
A Mayan mask with still vibrant blue tiles
Azul Maya, or Maya Blue, is a vibrant color that was created and used by the classic and post-classic Maya civilizations more than 1700 years ago, and which is still evident in Mayan ruins and archeological treasures.

The pigment was used to decorate household items, murals, sculptures and, its best known use, for adorning human sacrifices, held important symbolic value for the ancient Maya. The amazing color was extremely important for ritual.

For the Maya, blue was the color of the rain deities, particularly the god Chaahk, their rain god and the patron of agriculture.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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]