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Tue, 30 Aug 2016
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2,000-year-old dog graveyard discovered near the Arctic Circle in Siberia

© University of Alberta/Robert Losey
Archaeologists have discovered a prehistoric dog graveyard at a 2,000-year-old village near the Arctic Circle in Russia's Siberia.
The carefully buried remains of five dogs were recently found in a 2,000-year-old doggy graveyard near the Arctic Circle in Siberia, according to archaeologists. This discovery at the Ust-Polui archaeological site, in Salekhard, Russia, reveals close relationships between the region's people and their animal "best friends" two millennia B.C. The dogs likely served as pets, workers and sources of food — and possibly as sacrificial offerings in religious ceremonies, the researchers said.

"The role of dogs at Ust-Polui is really complex and variable," Robert Losey, an archaeologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, wrote in an email to Live Science from Salekhard, where he is carrying out fieldwork at Ust-Polui. "The most striking thing is that the dog remains are really abundant compared to all other sites in the Arctic — there are over 115 dogs represented at the site," Losey said. "Typically, sites have only a few dog remains — 10 at most."

Working dogs

The dogs were likely involved in various tasks in the ancient Arctic village, including pulling sleds, he said. The remains of two sleds, as well as a carved bone knife handle thought to depict a sled dog in a harness, have been found at the site.

"Some [dogs] were probably also used in hunting, for reindeer and birds, the remains of which were both abundant at the site," Losey said. Parts of a reindeer harness had also been found at Ust-Polui, he added, and dogs may have been used to herd reindeer, as is still done today by some communities in the region.


Turkey's troubled history of unrest and military coups

© Murad Sezer / Reuters
Turkey has experienced several coups since 1960.
Since becoming a republic in 1923, Turkey has undergone several coups due to a constitution that states the military are not beholden to the country's political leaders. The most recent attempt continues a history of unrest between politicians and the military.

The Republic's first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, implemented an ideology known as "Kemalism" in order to distinguish the new state from its Ottoman predecessor. Under Kemalism, religion is separate from the state, including with respect to education and culture.

The military have historically viewed themselves as guardians of this ideology, with the freedom to intervene when it is perceived as being under threat.

Comment: For more information and updates on the current situation in Turkey, see: Breaking news: Military coup under way in Turkey - Jets, troops, helicopters surround government buildings


Vatican unveils frescoes hinting that women held power in the early Christian Church

Newly restored Italian frescoes have revealed what could have been women priests in the early Christian church. The female pictured in this fresco has her arms outstretched as if holding Mass.
Newly restored Italian frescoes have revealed what could have been women priests in the early Christian Church.

The frescoes, dating back to between 230 to 240 AD, are housed inside the Catacombs of Priscilla of Rome and were unveiled by the Vatican this week.

Proponents of a female priesthood have said that the frescoes prove there were women priests in early Christianity.

The Vatican, however, has responded by saying that such assertions are sensationalist 'fairy tales'.

Comment: See also: 'Secret' labyrinth of tunnels under Rome mapped


'Primitive machine' within Great Pyramid of Giza reconstructed

© The Science Channel, screengrab
Just outside the entrance to the King’s Chamber (hidden within the Great Pyramid of Giza), workers carved out a set of grooves and fitted three huge granite slabs (red arrow) into them. Once the king’s mummy was safely inside the chamber, the workers dropped those down to block the entrance.
The ancient Egyptians created a simple yet elaborate system of blocks and grooves within the Great Pyramid of Giza to protect the King's Chamber from tomb robbers.

In an upcoming episode of the Science Channel's "Unearthed," that system comes to life via computer animations. In the episode, Egyptologist Mark Lehner describes the system for viewers, calling it a "very primitive machine." Lehner leads Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA), a team that has been excavating at Giza for about 30 years.

Many scholars believe that the King's Chamber housed the remains of the pharaoh Khufu (reign ca. 2551 - 2528 B.C.), the ruler who ordered the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The tallest pyramid ever constructed in Egypt, the Great Pyramid was considered to be a "wonder of the world" by ancient writers. In addition to the King's Chamber, the Great Pyramid contains two other large chambers, which are today called the Queen's Chamber and the Subterranean Chamber.

What those two chambers were used for is unclear.

Comment: Related articles:

Top Secret

What FOIA CIA files say about Milosevic, intelligence, declassification: Information is doctored to align with foreign policy whims

What kinds of documents does the CIA have on world leaders? What do they involve and how detailed are they? Do the CIA assessments differ from the ones we are familiar with from the mass media? And if they do, in what respects? Are they more sober and less sensationalist? Are they free from ideological bias? What is the methodology used and what sources?

These are some of the questions that led me to file a FOIA request to the CIA regarding the politician whose activities have marked the entire decade in the Balkans after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the violent destruction of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ): the former Serbian and Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević (1941-2006). Milošević was NATO's main enemy in the war it waged against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Spring 1999 and was presented as the European equivalent of Saddam Hussein. He was overthrown in October 2000 with the help of the Western intelligence agencies, including the CIA. Milošević ended his days in the Hague Tribunal prison unit in March 2006 under the circumstances many still consider suspicious.

Nobody has (publicly) asked the CIA about Milošević before and, as he died more than 10 years ago, it was reasonable to expect that I could be provided with some interesting, historically significant, and newsworthy information.

What I got, after the whole process was over, was definitely interesting and newsworthy (otherwise, I would not be writing about it), but hardly historically significant. In fact, I should say that, from what the CIA sent me, I learned more about the seriousness (and the lack thereof) of its information declassification and release process than any hidden secrets about Milošević.

Comment: For more background, don't miss the great documentary Weight of Chains: US/NATO Destruction of Yugoslavia (Documentary).


Cultural genocide: The plight of indigenous children - state violence & oppression

© Library and Archives Canada
In a photo taken around 1936, Aboriginal Canadians attend a school at Fort Resolution in the Northwest Territories. Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has concluded that the country's former policy of removing Aboriginal children from families for schooling could be best described as "cultural genocide." In the US, Native children were subjected to similar policies for more than a century.
The plight of Indigenous children recently made headlines, as Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a damning report calling the country's long-held policy of removing Native children from their families by force and placing them in state-funded residential schools "cultural genocide."According to the report, even before Canada was founded in 1867, churches were operating boarding schools for Indigenous children, and the last federally supported residential school didn't close until the late 1990s.

In the US, Native children were subjected to similar policies for more than a century. Article VII of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 stated,
"In order to insure the civilization of the Indians entering into this treaty ... they, therefore, pledge themselves to compel their children, male and female, between the ages of six and sixteen years, to attend school."

Comment: The colonization of America was genocidal by plan: Yes, Native Americans were the victims of genocide
The form of colonialism that the Indigenous peoples of North America have experienced was modern from the beginning: the expansion of European corporations, backed by government armies, into foreign areas, with subsequent expropriation of lands and resources. Settler colonialism requires a genocidal policy. Native nations and communities, while struggling to maintain fundamental values and collectivity, have from the beginning resisted modern colonialism using both defensive and offensive techniques, including the modern forms of armed resistance of national liberation movements and what now is called terrorism. In every instance they have fought and continue to fight for survival as peoples. The objective of US authorities was to terminate their existence as peoples—not as random individuals. This is the very definition of modern genocide.


Documents show JFK was murdered days after demanding answers from CIA about UFOs

In declassified documents obtained and published by Scott C. Waring, editor of UFO Sightings Daily, John F. Kennedy wrote a letter to the head of the CIA demanding their research on alien life and UFOs just days before his death.

The memo is authentic and is a confirmed declassified document released by the CIA.

JFK wrote the memo to the CIA on November 12, 1963, only to be killed on November 22, 1963.

Comment: See also: Was JFK Killed Because of His Interest in Aliens? Secret Memo Shows President Demanded UFO Files 10 Days Before Death


Another huge ancient ship graveyard found off Greece archipelago

A joint Greek-American archaeological expedition has found 23 ancient wrecks around the small Fourni archipelago, confirming the Greek site is the ancient shipwreck capital of the world.

Discovered last month, the 23 shipwrecks add to other 22 identified last September, bringing the total to 45 wrecks in the last nine months. "These shipwrecks demonstrate the truly exceptional significance of the archipelago and establish the project as one of the most exciting currently in archaeology," Peter Campbell, of the University of Southampton and co-director from U.S.-based RPM Nautical Foundation, told Discovery News.

A collection of 13 islands and islets located between the eastern Aegean islands of Samos and Icaria, the Fourni archipelago had a critical role both as a navigational and anchorage point. The archipelago lies right in the middle of a major east-west crossing route, as well as the primary north-south route that connected the Aegean to the Levant.

Ships traveling from the Greek mainland to Asia Minor, or ships leaving the Aegean for the Levant had to pass by Fourni. Archaeologists from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and RPM Nautical Foundation surveyed the seabed along the coastline to depths up to 213 feet.

Comment: 22 Shipwrecks found in single location in Greece


After 30-year dig, 'first Philistine cemetery' may turn ancient knowledge upside down

© Amir Cohen/Reuters
American archaeology students unearth a skeletons and clay jars during excavation works at the first-ever Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon National Park in southern Israel.
The discovery of the first ever Philistine cemetery outside the walls of the biblical city of Ashkelon in Israel may finally help "unlock the secrets" of the origins of the ancient Philistines.

"After decades of studying what Philistines left behind, we have finally come face to face with the people themselves," Daniel M. Master, professor of archaeology at Wheaton College and one of the leaders of the excavation, told AP. "With this discovery we are close to unlocking the secrets of their origins," he added.

The Philistines left behind a lot of pottery, but little biological trace of them had been discovered, however. In 2013, archaeologists found what is said to be the first Philistine cemetery ever unearthed, containing the remains of over 200 people.

The discovery by the Leon Levy Expedition, a team of archaeologists from Harvard University, Boston College, Wheaton College in Illinois and Troy University in Alabama, was made public on Sunday following a 30-year excavation. The team is currently busy performing DNA tests on bone samples, dating back to between the 11th and the 8th centuries B.C., AP reported.
© Amir Cohen/Reuters
A skeleton is seen as it is unearthed during excavation works at the first-ever Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon National Park in southern Israel.
Although a few human remains at Philistine sites have been unearthed in the past, they provided too small a sample to make any conclusions, Master told AP. He added the archaeologists kept their landmark discovery a secret for as long as three years, until the end of their dig, in order not to attract ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters.


178,000 years of Chinese history? That's really something to chew over

Discovery of three ancient human teeth in a cave in Guizhou adds piece to puzzle of Chinese origins
After removing several metres of sediment from an ancient, underground river bed deep inside a limestone cave in Bijie, Guizhou, a team of researchers led by Professor Zhao Lingxia discovered three human teeth.

Anatomically, they resembled those of modern humans, but dating of the sediment showed they were buried 112,000 to 178,000 years ago, before the first modern humans walked out of Africa, around 75,000 years ago.

There is overwhelming evidence from fossil records that China was populated with humans before the arrival of African settlers.

The team's discovery three years ago, detailed in a paper in the journal Acta Anthropologica Sinica earlier this year, added a new piece to the puzzle of Chinese origins but not the full picture, in the absence of DNA analysis.

Over the past decade, ancient human fossils have been found in almost every province in southern China, many of them from sediments dating back 100,000 years or more but with anatomical features little different to the Chinese people living today.

However, analysis of the evolutionary history of the male Y chromosome has traced the origin of all Chinese men to an "Adam" from Africa who arrived in Southeast Asia about 60,000 years ago. The thinking has been that when he and his sons moved north to what is now China, they either encountered a zone devoid of others humans or killed all they found, otherwise the modern Chinese man would have more than one father among his ancestral roots.