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Sat, 16 Dec 2017
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Assyrian tablet reveals details about infertility

Cuneiform tablet
© Daily Sabah
Cuneiform tablet containing details about infertility.
The first diagnosis to determine infertility was made 4,000 years ago, an ancient Assyrian clay tablet discovered by Turkish researchers in central Kayseri province revealed Thursday.

Various researchers from different universities led by Şanlıurfa's Harran University examined a 4,000-year-old Assyrian tablet containing a prenuptial agreement and found out that the first infertility diagnosis was made in central Kayseri province's Kültepe district.

The clay tablet written in cuneiform script discusses infertility and a solution for the issue, which is the inability of a person to reproduce through natural means.

Professor Ahmet Berkız Turp from Harran University's Gynecology and Obstetrics Department told NTV that the clay prenuptial agreements addressed the issue of infertility in Assyrian families.

Blue Planet

The Son Doong Cave, 'A lost world below the surface': Russian explorers film in world's biggest cave with drone (VIDEO)

Son Doong Cave
© cameraptor
A group of Russian travelers explored one of the most spectacular yet least visited natural landmarks in the world - the Son Doong Cave located in the jungles of inland Vietnam.

The world's biggest known cave, formed as a result of a cave in caused by a mountain river at least two million years ago, was stumbled upon by a local man in 1991. At at its widest, it measures 150 by 200 meters, stretches for over 5 kilometers, and has a volume of 38,5 million cubic meters, about twice the size of the next largest underground hollow.


Ruins found in Turkish lake may be Iron Age fortification dating back 3,000 years

Lake Van castle turkey
© CC BY 3.0 / gozturk / Lake Van
Lake Van, Turkey
A team of Turkish researchers has discovered the remains of what is believed to be a 3,000-year-old Urartu castle in the country's eastern Van province, the site of Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey and the second largest in the Middle East.

The excavations were led by Van Yüzüncü Yıl University and the governorship of Turkey's eastern Bitlis Province. The researchers who went underwater believe that the ruins are supposedly from the Iron Age Urartu civilization, also known as the Kingdom of Van, thought to date back to the eighth to seventh centuries B.C., Turkish Daily Sabah reports on Sunday.

Bad Guys

Setting the record straight on the Beirut Barracks bombing: Iran had nothing to do with it

Beirut US barracks bombing
© Gunnery Sgt. R.D. Lucas/DefenseImages.mil
Chaplains, U.S. Marines and family members observe a moment of silence at memorial services for the 241 Marines killed during the terrorist bombing of the barracks at Beirut International Airport.
The White House wants to blame Iran, but they're wrong. I was there.

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster recently marked the 34th anniversary of the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Their remarks may have comforted the families and honored the sacrifice of the 242 American service members-222 of whom were Marines-who were killed. But both officials presented such a distorted version of the events of that horrible day that, if not corrected, they will cause more harm than good to our national security.

According to Pence and McMaster, the attack on the Marine (and French) barracks was an early version of the attacks of 9/11. In their view, terrorist bombers, aided and abetted by Iran, committed mass murder and inspired Osama bin Laden by attacking U.S. and allied military forces that were simply in Lebanon on a peacekeeping mission. Moreover, the attack demonstrates that their boss, President Trump, was right not to certify the nuclear deal with Iran.

However, close examination of the events reveals that while the U.S. and French military forces were initially engaged in a peacekeeping mission, by the time of the attack their nations were waging war against the allies of Iran in the Lebanese civil war.

Black Magic

How medieval women shrank in height because of Black Death

Mass burial trench
© Museum of London
Mass burial trench from the East Smithfield Black Death cemetery from London (MIN86).
In the middle of the 14th century, the Black Death swept Europe, killing millions of people, but archaeologists have recently discovered that its effects were far-ranging and surprising. People living after the plague were overall healthier than those who lived just before it, but a new study suggests that the Black Death may have caused Medieval women to shrink.

Writing in the American Journal of Human Biology, bioarchaeologist Sharon DeWitte from the University of South Carolina studied more than 800 skeletons from Medieval London with the goal of investigating "stress, sex, and plague." A bit less salacious than it sounds, the main topic covered in the research is the experience of physiological stress among members of two sexes -- male and female -- before and after the Black Death.

In examining skeletons from the 11th-12th century, the first half of the 13th century, and the mid-14th through mid-16th centuries, DeWitte calculated age-at-death from the bones and also tracked changes in the canine teeth and in the length of shin bones as a way of estimating people's health.

Using a mathematical survival analysis, DeWitte found that survivorship decreased before the Black Death but increased after it, for both males and females. That is, she found a general increase in health after the plague, explaining that "the post-Black Death demographic changes might represent a 'harvesting' effect; that is, an increase in mortality among people with compromised health."

Although generations following the plague were to some extent healthier than the ones before it, DeWitte was primarily interested in whether health outcomes were similar for males and females. She recorded the prevalence of linear enamel hypoplasia - a defect in the dental enamel caused by childhood stress such as infection - and found that these defects increased just before the Black Death and then decreased in the generations following it. This means that both male and female children suffered poor health prior to the plague, but later generations had better health.

mandible teeth
© Sharon DeWitte / University of South Carolina
Enamel hypoplasia in a canine from the St. Mary Graces cemetery in London, dating to 1350-1540.
But the data DeWitte collected from shin bone length were a bit more puzzling. A person's adult height is produced by a complicated interaction between genes (taller parents tend to have taller children) and the environment (but if a kid with tall genes has poor childhood health, s/he may not reach their height potential). DeWitte found that male height significantly increased from the pre-plague to the post-plague time periods, which aligns with the overall picture of better health and survivorship after the Black Death.

Surprisingly, though, female stature decreased significantly in the two time periods. "These results," DeWitte notes, "suggest similar temporal trends in survivorship for both sexes but distinct male vs. female patterns of physiological stress before and after the Black Death."

What was happening to women and girls after the plague to cause them to shrink? DeWitte suggests a number of factors, including the possibility that females were better buffered from environmental stress than males before the plague or that males had better access to food after the plague.

Most intriguing, though, is DeWitte's suggestion that the decrease in female stature might reflect better nutrition following the plague. It is well known that in the period after the Black Death, standards of living in England improved considerably. The new shortage of laborers meant that wages increased to attract healthy workers and the price of food declined. More specifically, improvements in diet were seen across all social statuses, largely benefitting those lower-class people who previously did not have access to good food.

"If nutritional status or disease burden improved substantially following the Black Death in London," DeWitte suggests, "this might have resulted in earlier average age at menarche in the post-epidemic population and thus earlier cessation of growth in females." That is, better nutrition can lead to girls going through puberty earlier, which in turn can result in an earlier time at which they stop growing, making them shorter adult women. DeWitte emphasizes, though, that further work on establishing age at menarche is needed.

DeWitte's research is clear evidence that the health of post-plague generations was better than their pre-plague ancestors. However, she concludes by noting that these improvements "should not be viewed as evidence that the epidemic was ultimately good for affected populations. Any positive outcomes from the epidemic came at an unimaginably high cost in terms of the number of lives lost and the psychosocial stress experienced by the survivors." Rather, DeWitte intends her work on Medieval survivorship and health to help "identify factors that promote mortality crises and societal disruption, and that potentially can be addressed in living populations."

Kristina Killgrove is a bioarchaeologist at the University of West Florida. For more osteology news, follow her on Twitter (@DrKillgrove) or like her Facebook page Powered by Osteons.

Comment: See also:

New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection
Archeological study on Black Death reveals incredible devastation wrought by plague
It finally reaches mainstream: Researchers argue 'Black Death' was due to Ebola, not Bubonic plague


US' deadliest attack on educational institution happened in 1920s

Enoch Monument Franklin County
© Ken Shockey/Antrim-Allison Museum
Enoch Brown and his students are memorialized at this Antrim Township site in Franklin County.
School shootings are gruesome and, unfortunately, are nothing new to America. The Enoch Brown school massacre predates the invention of the original Colt revolver by 70 years. But as far as mass-murder goes, no school attack comes close to the Bath School disaster of 1927.

Everything started when Andrew Kehoe, a Michigan school board treasurer, killed his wife and blew up his farm with dynamite, which detonated simultaneously with explosives he planted at the nearby Bath Consolidated School.

Comment: The latest in school violence in the US:


Another CIA horror show: Biological warfare expert Frank Olson's fatal trip

Frank Olson CIA
By the early 1950s the CIA's relationship with drugs stretched from alliances with criminal smugglers of heroin to research in, and application of, lethal or mind-altering chemical agents. On November 18, 1953, a group of seven men gathered for a meeting at the Deer Creek Lodge, in the mountains of western Maryland. Three were from the US Army's biological weapons center at Fort Detrick; the other four were CIA officers from the Agency's Technical Services Division. This encounter was one in a regular series of working sessions on Project MK-NAOMI, with MK being the prefix for work by Technical Services and NAOMI referring to a project to develop poisons for operational use by the CIA and its clients. The men at Fort Detrick had, at the CIA's request, already stockpiled a lethal arsenal of shellfish toxins, botulinum, anthrax and equine encephalitis.

A day later, during the evening of November 19, the scientists shared an after-dinner glass of Cointreau. Unknown to those round the convivial table, the CIA's Dr. Sidney Gottlieb had decided to spike the Cointreau with a heavy dose of LSD. Gottlieb didn't tell the officers they had been drugged and indeed had violated CIA rules by failing to get prior approval for the experiment. About thirty minutes after they had tossed back their liqueurs, Gottlieb asked if anyone had noticed anything unusual. The doctor found that most of men round the table experienced a little buzz, but nothing significant. Then Gottlieb fessed up and disclosed the covert LSD dosage.

Comment: For more on leading CIA psychopath Dr. Sidney Gottlieb:

Eye 2

CIA documents reveal fascist Ukrainian icon Stepan Bandera was a German spy - and a CIA accomplice

Stepan Bandera

Stepan Bandera, worshipped in Ukiestan
The electronic library of the Central Intelligence Agency published a four-page document dated 1951, stating that the icon of Ukrainian nationalism, Stepan Bandera, was a German spy.

The documents appeared in their online form 10 years ago, but they have become available to the general public only recently.

Realizing that randomnesses in this department is extremely rare, it can be assumed that a new stage of the special operation in Ukraine is being prepared. Ukrainian radical nationalists should think twice about their future destiny, and whether or not they are being preparing for disposal.



Why didn't British King George V save deposed Russian cousin after the revolution?

NickII GeorgeV
© Wikipedia
Russia's Tsar Nicholas II and King George V of Britain
Pictured arm in arm wearing yachting uniforms, the two future kings could be mistaken for twins. But while cousins Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Britain's King George V were described as close friends, their relationship ended in ruthless circumstances.

As head of an empire that was waning, where many citizens experienced extreme poverty and autocratic rule, Nicholas II found himself caught between a world war and the discontent of his own people. The explosive mix would hasten his fall from monarch to executed prisoner in just over a year.

The killing of Nicholas II, tsar from 1894 until his forced abdication in 1917, saw the collapse of Russia's royal family. His grisly death in 1918 and the murder of the Romanov family by a Bolshevik firing squad at a house in Ekaterinburg also placed George V's reputation under scrutiny.


History of art rewritten as archaeologists unearth 3,500-year-old carving of ancient Greek battle

Pylos combat agate pre greek art
© University of Cincinnati
The ‘Pylos Combat Agate’ has been hailed as one of the finest works of prehistoric Greek art ever discovered
The history of art has been rewritten after archeologists unearthed an astonishing 3,500 year old carving of an ancient Greek battle, depicting human bodies in anatomical detail which was thought way beyond the skill of Bronze Age artisans.

In 2015, the tomb of the so-called 'Griffin Warrior' was discovered near the ancient city of Pylos, southwest Greece, containing the remains of a powerful Myceneaen warrior and a treasure trove of burial riches.

Dating from around 1,500BC the grave also held a intricately carved gem, or sealstone, which was covered in limestone.