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Ancient Bones: Des Moines sewer construction project turns up human remains possibly 7,000 years old

© Des Moines Register

Human remains that could be up to 7,000 years old have been discovered at a construction site in Des Moines.

They were found by a state archaeology team near a site where scientists think people harvested, cooked and ate clams thousands of years ago.

State archaeologist John Doershuk said that it's a unique site to Iowa and the Midwest.

The site's exact location is not being disclosed, lest looters ravage it.

But the discovery and archaeological dig is delaying a $37.8 million sewer project for at least six months. It's estimated the Wastewater Reclamation Authority will have to spend an estimated $1.5 million or more because of the delay.


Archaeologists Find Third Gender Skeleton In Czech Republic, Media Calls Him A Cave Man Erroneously

© LezGet Real

To a certain degree, the anti-LGBT activists are correct about the fact that homosexuality has never existed throughout the history of the world, and gay marriage never actually existed. This is because the term homosexual and the identity of it only came into being within the last hundred and fifty years. Prior to that, same-sex couples existed, though they often did not exist in what we could call same-gender relationships.

Native American tribes have a long and noted history of 'third and fourth gender' individuals. These are women who live their lives as men and often take women as their spouses and men who live their lives as women and who often take men as their spouses. Today, the term two-spirit tends to be used to describe them, though once each nation and tribe had their own name for these individuals. There were often mythological reasons given for their existence, and they were often treated as special individuals.

Evidence is emerging that Europe had this concept for some time as well. The skeletal remains of a male third gender was found in the Czech Republic buried in the same manner that a woman would be. The skeleton dates to between 2900 BCE and 2500 BCE. He was not, as many sources say, a cave man. By this time, the Egyptian unification had already happened, and agriculture was well known. In fact, it is likely that this culture, which was a blend of stone and copper age in their tool and grave goods use, was likely rather sophisticated.

What is more, this skeleton is not the only two-spirit found. A woman's skeleton was found last year buried in the same manner as a man.


Archaeologists find evidence of pre-Clovis settlement

Evidence pre clovis
New research in Texas shows humans settled North America earlier than previously thought.
New research may change long-held views on early North American inhabitants

Summit County -- New archaeological research in Texas suggests that humans lived in North America thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

For about 100 years, archaeologists have dated the earliest human artifacts to the Clovis people, about 13,000 years ago. The new finds push this date back by about 2,500 years, into the pre-Clovis era, according to a press release from Baylor University.

"This find really rewrites history, so to speak, and changes our collective thought on the early colonization of North, Central and South America," said Dr. Lee Nordt, professor of geology at Baylor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who is an author on the study. "What sets this study a part is that we were able to show using geological methods that the buried artifacts dating to pre-Clovis times were in their original state. This demonstrates unequivocally that the peopling of the Americas occurred much earlier than previously thought."


Oldest case of clogged arteries in Egypt mummy: study

© UnknownA wooden coffin lays open showing a mummy at an excavation site south of Cairo in 2005.
The first known case of clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis, has been found in the mummy of an Egyptian princess, said a study presented Sunday at a major US cardiology conference.

Researchers have long known that ancient Egyptians suffered from plaque build-up in the arteries that supply the heart, but the latest finding suggests that the syndrome may be more prevalent, and mysterious, than previously thought.

"Commonly, we think of coronary artery or heart disease as a consequence of modern lifestyles, mainly because it has increased in developing countries as they become more westernized," said Gregory Thomas of the University of California, Irvine.

"These data point to a missing link in our understanding of heart disease, and we may not be so different from our ancestors," he said.

Researchers performed computerized tomography (CT) scans on 52 Egyptian mummies to determine whether they had atherosclerosis.

Comment: Remember the Egyptians ate a lot of grain:

Origins of Agriculture - Did Civilization Arise to Deliver a Fix?
Can You Stomach Wheat? How Giving up Grain May Better Your Health
Wheat belly
The China Study, Wheat, and Heart Disease; Oh My!


Ancient Greek Calculating Device Continues to Reveal Secrets

Antikythera mechanism
© National Archaeological Museum, AthensPart of the Antikythera Mechanism, an astronomical calculator raised from a shipwreck in 1901.
It's known as the Antikythera mechanism, a metal gear driven device found over a century ago on a sunken Roman ship, near the island of Antikythera, that for just as many years has had scientists analyzing, scratching their heads and offering suggestions as to its purpose.

Some have called the device the first analog computer; other's the first mechanical computing device. Either way, the device very clearly demonstrates that the Greeks of 150 to 100 BCE knew far more about gears and calculating machines than had been thought possible just a decade or so ago.

After careful analysis with an x-ray tomography machine which allowed the device to be seen as a series of slices that could then be used to see all the way through the mechanism slice by slice (as is done with the same machine when analyzing organs inside a living human being) researchers, particularly Michael Wright, now of Imperial College, London, have come to believe they have almost a full understanding of what the machines was built to do; and that, was to calculate the position of celestial bodies.


Is this the first ever portrait of Jesus? The incredible story of 70 ancient books hidden in a cave for nearly 2,000 years

© David O' Neill/D K ImagesDiscovery: The impression on this booklet cover shows what could be the earliest image of Christ
The image is eerily familiar: a bearded young man with flowing curly hair. After lying for nearly 2,000 years hidden in a cave in the Holy Land, the fine detail is difficult to determine. But in a certain light it is not difficult to interpret the marks around the figure's brow as a crown of thorns.

The extraordinary picture of one of the recently discovered hoard of up to 70 lead codices - booklets - found in a cave in the hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee is one reason Bible historians are clamouring to get their hands on the ancient artefacts.

If genuine, this could be the first-ever portrait of Jesus Christ, possibly even created in the lifetime of those who knew him.

The tiny booklet, a little smaller than a modern credit card, is sealed on all sides and has a three-dimensional representation of a human head on both the front and the back. One appears to have a beard and the other is without. Even the maker's fingerprint can be seen in the lead impression. Beneath both figures is a line of as-yet undeciphered text in an ancient Hebrew script.

Astonishingly, one of the booklets appears to bear the words 'Saviour of Israel' - one of the few phrases so far translated.

Comment: Or at modern forgeries. See Dr Peter Thonemann's analysis here, where he translates a line of Greek from the cover of one of the copper codices, and suggests a copy from a tombstone on exhibit in the Jordan Archaeological Museum. But of course, without being able to read the codices themselves, cover to cover, a couple of samples of metal being sent to labs in Oxford and Switzerland is really neither here nor there.

Funny how epigraphists are being kept away from these things ...


Oldest Evidence of Writing Found in Europe

In a study to be published this month in the Proceedings of the Athens Archaeological Society, archaeologist Michael Cosmopoulos of the University of Missouri-St. Louis shares his discovery of a clay tablet showing the earliest known writing in Europe.

Oldest Writing Evidence Europe
© Christian Mundigler
Located in the southwestern corner of Greece, the town where this discovery took place is Iklaina. This town dates back to the Mycenaean period of 1500 BC to 100 BC, and around 1400 BC was conquered by King Nestor.

Cosmopoulos has been actively excavating this site for 11 years and has found evidence of a Mycenaean palace, including colorful murals, Cyclopean walls, and an elaborate drainage system made from clay pipes. However, this tablet has been his most unexpected find.

Tablets of this nature were made from clay which was allowed to dry in the sun, making them very brittle and easily destroyed. The tablet they discovered however, had been thrown in a garbage pit and burned, thus firing the clay and leaving it preserved.


Skeleton of 12,000-year-old shaman discovered buried with leopard, 50 tortoises and human foot

© Gideon HartmanOne of 50 tortoises found buried with the shaman.
The skeleton of a 12,000 year-old Natufian Shaman has been discovered in northern Israel by archaeologists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The burial is described as being accompanied by "exceptional" grave offerings - including 50 complete tortoise shells, the pelvis of a leopard and a human foot. The shaman burial is thought to be one of the earliest known from the archaeological record and the only shaman grave in the whole region.

Dr. Leore Grosman of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, who is heading the excavation at the Natufian site of Hilazon Tachtit in the western Galilee, says that the elaborate and invested interment rituals and method used to construct and seal the grave suggest that this woman had a very high standing within the community. Details of the discovery were published in the PNAS journal on November 3, 2008.

What was found in the shaman's grave?

The grave contained body parts of several animals that rarely occur in Natufian assemblages. These include fifty tortoises, the near-compete pelvis of a leopard, the wing tip of a golden eagle, tail of a cow, two marten skulls and the forearm of a wild boar which was directly aligned with the woman's left humerus.

A human foot belonging to an adult individual who was substantially larger than the interred woman was also found in the grave.

Dr. Grosman believes this burial is consistent with expectations for a shaman's grave. Burials of shamans often reflect their role in life (i.e., remains of particular animals and contents of healing kits). It seems that the woman was perceived as being in close relationship with these animal spirits.


France and lap dogs go way back: Most other prehistoric pooches were much larger than the ancient French dogs

© Unknown
  • The world's oldest known dogs from France were poodle-sized and lived up to 15,000 years ago.
  • The French dogs likely served as companions to humans, hunting partners, and also as a source of food and fur.
  • It's unclear whether these small French dogs descended from larger, older dogs in Europe.
The oldest dogs from France were small, lap-sized canines that lived up to 15,000 years ago, according to new research.

These poodle-sized dogs raise a lot of questions about the earliest domestication of dogs, due to their impressive age and the fact that most other prehistoric pooches were much larger.

"One or many domestication events could have occurred in France and, more generally, in the western part of Europe," Maud Pionnier-Capitan told Discovery News. She led the French project, described in a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Magic Wand

Where Beauty Transcends Time: The Archaeology of a Dress

A Victorian dress decorated with 1,000 real beetle wings is set to go back on display following 1,300 hours of painstaking conservation work carried out by a team led by Zenzie Tinker.

A stage costume worn by Ellen Terry, one of the most celebrated and glamorous actresses of the Victorian age, has now returned home to Smallhythe Place in Kent - now a National Trust property.

© John Singer SargentEllen Terry as Lady Macbeth in 1888
The emerald and sea green gown, covered with the iridescent wings of the jewel beetle (which they shed naturally), was worn by Ellen when she thrilled audiences with her portrayal of Lady Macbeth at London's Lyceum Theatre in 1888.