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Basque origins mystery solved by ancient DNA

© Agence France-Presse
Two men saw a tree trunk with a "tronza" (traditional Basque saw) during a rural sports championship
DNA from ancient remains seems to have solved the puzzle of one of Europe's most enigmatic people: the Basques.

The distinct language and genetic make-up of the Basque people in northern Spain and southern France has puzzled anthropologists for decades.

One theory proposed that they were an unmixed pocket of indigenous hunters.

Now, a study in PNAS journal suggests they descend from early farmers who mixed with local hunters before becoming isolated for millennia.

The Basques have unique customs and a language - Euskera - that is unrelated to any other spoken in Europe, or indeed the world.

Nestled in a mountainous corner of Atlantic Europe, they also show distinct genetic patterns to their neighbours in France and Spain.

It seemed logical that they were representatives of an older layer of population settlement, but just how far back their roots went has been a topic of debate.

Mattias Jakobsson from Uppsala University in Sweden analysed the genomes of eight Stone Age human skeletons from El Portalón in Atapuerca, northern Spain.

These individuals lived between 3,500 and 5,500 years ago, after the transition to farming in southwest Europe.

The results show that these early Iberian farmers are the closest ancestors to present-day Basques.

Comment: Other theories:
  • Basque Origins Predate Arrival of Farmers in Iberian Peninsula, DNA Analysis Finds



Gold Bar

Mysterious treasure hunter says he found 100 tons of Soviet gold hidden from Nazis during WWII

Image
© Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
A representative of a mysterious treasure hunter has told the German tabloid Bild that he has discovered an underground gold cache near the Russian city of Smolensk, which was placed there as the Soviets retreated during the German onslaught in 1941.

According to his Berlin-based lawyer Mikhail Kantor, the gold-seeker "risked his life using a geo-radar to scan the environs of Smolensk" until he struck upon the cache in shaft near the village of Otnosovo, located 15 to 17 meters underground, where five or six trucks laden with 100 tons of jewelry, precious stones and bullion stand untouched.

Even assuming that the contents are generic gold bars, the market value of such a find at current prices would be over $3.4 billion.

The expert believes claims that at least seven, possibly eight trucks were packed up in a rush in July 1941 - less than a month before Smolensk was captured - from the regional department of the Soviet state bank, and sent towards Moscow. But as they crossed the river Dnieper, they came under fire from German bombers, and one or more of the trucks were destroyed.
Image
© RIA Novosti
Combat equipment near Smolensk. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
Local eyewitnesses saw a "shower of precious coins" erupt from the trucks. Deciding they were unable to safeguard the cargo, Soviet officers burned all the paper money, and hid the precious cargo locally.

Comment: Historical anomaly: U.S. WWII propaganda film ACCURATELY portrays Russia and 'most epic battle in history'


Vader

Secret crimes: U.S. dropped insects carrying anthrax, cholera, encephalitis, and bubonic plague on North Korea

This happened some 63 years ago, but as the U.S. government has never stopped lying about it, and it's generally known only outside the United States, I'm going to treat it as news.

Here in our little U.S. bubble we've heard of a couple versions of a film called The Manchurian Candidate. We've heard of the general concept of "brainwashing" and may even associate it with something evil that the Chinese supposedly did to U.S. prisoners during the Korean War. And I'd be willing to bet that the majority of people who've heard of these things have at least a vague sense that they're bullshit.

If you didn't know, I'll break it to you right now: people cannot actually be programmed like the Manchurian candidate, which was a work of fiction. There was never the slightest evidence that China or North Korea had done any such thing. And the CIA spent decades trying to do such a thing, and finally gave up.


Comment: Actually there is substantial evidence to the contrary. In his book, The C.I.A. Doctors, Dr. Colin Ross provides proof, based on 15,000 pages of documents obtained from the C.I.A. through the Freedom of Information Act, that the Manchurian Candidate "super spy" is fact, not fiction. He describes the experiments conducted by psychiatrists to create amnesia, new identities, hypnotic access codes, and new memories in the minds of experimental subjects.

I'd also be willing to bet that very few people know what it was that the U.S. government promoted the myth of "brainwashing" to cover up. During the Korean War, the United States bombed virtually all of North Korea and a good bit of the South, killing millions of people. It dropped massive quantities of Napalm. It bombed dams, bridges, villages, houses. This was all-out mass-slaughter. But there was something the U.S. government didn't want known, something deemed unethical in this genocidal madness.


Comment: According to findings from a 2003 International War Crimes Tribunal:
..the U.S. used weapons banned by the articles of war, including bacteriological and chemical weapons. U.S. planes had dropped canisters containing flies and other insects infected with plague, cholera and other epidemic diseases.



Info

DNA helps unravel the story behind past human migrations

© Cristina Valdiosera
Cristina working at the El Portalon cave dig at the anthropological site Atapuerca in northern Spain.
It's only a matter of time before we have a nearly complete genetic picture of the Neolithic in Europe, thanks to molecular archaeology, writes Dr Cristina Valdiosera.

Past human migrations have always been a subject of great interest because they tell us a story of where we come from, and who we are.

Molecular archaeology or archaeogenetics, is a new field that allows you to travel back in time and directly study the DNA of humans or animals in the archaeological record.

This has now opened the possibility to directly track ancient human migrations by analysing the genetic composition of past populations.

Among the subjects that I have been recently working on are the 'Peopling of the Americas' and the 'Neolithisation' of Europe: that is, the origin of agricultural societies. Both involve past human migrations.

The peopling of the Americas is of particular interest because this was the last mass of land on earth to be populated by humans.

But who were these people? Where did they come from? Are all Native Americans direct descendants of one single migration wave that populated the Americas only one time? Or were there several initial migration waves originating from different places?

By using the latest molecular technologies, the field of molecular archaeology has been unravelling some of the stories behind the past human migrations.

Attention

Ice Age skeletons discovered in Mexican underwater cave show evidence of early migrations to the Americas

© Christine Rondea / Roberto Chavez Arce
A cenote in Tulum, Mexico Inset: Ancient skull found in Tulum cenote.
In May last year, archaeologists made the exciting announcement that a complete Ice Age skeleton had been found in an underwater cave in Tulum, Mexico. Since then, more than eight well-preserved skeletons, ranging in age from 9,000 to 13,000 years have been retrieved from cenotes in Mexico and now scientists are beginning to unravel the secrets that they hold, remaining hopeful that the bones may eventually reveal how the Americas were first populated.

El Universal reports that three skeletons were found in the Naharon cenote, Los Palmas cenote, and the Temple cenote. Out of the eight sets of human remains, at least one of the individuals is believed to have accidentally fallen in the cenote - a natural pit resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath, while at least two of the skeletons were intentionally deposited. Cenotes were later used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

Comment: See also: Skull in Underwater Cave May Be Earliest Trace of First Americans


Info

Huge ritual monument found hidden near Stonehenge

© Ludwig Boltzmann Institute
A new line of stones has been found under Durrington Walls super-henge.
A huge ritual monument which dates from the time of Stonehenge has been discovered hidden under the bank of a nearby stone-age enclosure.

Durrington Walls, a roundish 'super-henge' has long puzzled archaeologists because one side is straight while the rest of the structure is curved.

As early as 1810, historian Richard Colt Hoare suggested that its shape had been left 'much mutilated' by centuries of agriculture.

But now ground penetrating radar has found that the straight edge is actually aligned over a row of 90 massive standing stones which once stood 15ft high, and formed a c-shaped arena which has not been seen for thousands of years.

The stone line, which curves into a c-shape towards one end, is likely to have marked a ritual procession route, and is thought to date from the same time as the sarsen circle at Stonehenge.

Hardhat

Legendary secret tunnels discovered beneath Puebla, Mexico

© Jose Castanares / AFP
A member of Puebla's city hall works in one of the tunnels discovered under the city on September 03, 2015 in Puebla, Mexico.
Talk of ancient tunnels in the Mexican city of Puebla has long been considered urban legend. But authorities have now confirmed their existence, and say the secret passageways could date back 500 years. The city hopes to turn the tunnels into an attraction.

The underground passages, which measure approximately seven meters high and three meters wide, were discovered during public works in the colonial city.

"In the urban narrative or urban legends there was word of the tunnels in Puebla, but nobody knew where they were, they had never been seen," Sergio Vergara Bermejo, manager of the Cultural Heritage and Historical Center of Puebla, told El Universal.

Info

Low water level exposes thousands of Shiva Lingas in the Shalmala river

Image
Recently, due to dry weather, the water level of the Shalmala river in Karnataka receded, revealing the presence of thousands of Shiva Lingas carved throughout the river bed. Because of these uncountable carvings, the place gets the name "Sahasralinga" (thousand Shiva Lingas).

Sahasralinga has become an important pilgrimage place. On the auspicious day of Mahashivaratri thousands of pilgrims visit Sahasralinga to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. Each Lingam in the river has a matching carving of Nandi (the Bull carrier of Lord Shiva) facing it.

Shiva Lingas have been worshipped by Hindus for thousands of years. It represents divine power and energy. The worship of Shiva Linga was not confined to India only. Carvings of Shiva Lingas can be found throughout the world in nearly every ancient civilization.

Comment: "During Shivratri, thousands of pilgrims visit this place and offer pujas, a perfect time when the water level in the river is low and most of the Lingas are visible with their bases called Yonis. Each Linga also has an individual bull carved facing towards them. No one really knows when or who carved these Lingas but it is speculated that the King of Sirsi, Sadashivaraya may have ordered their construction during his reign from 1678 to 1718."


Info

Ice Age fossils, including bones of ancient mammoths discovered at California construction site

© Cornerstone Communities
Workers dig up the fossilized bone of a prehistoric mammoth at the Quarry Creek development along state Route 78 in Carlsbad.
Fossils from the last Ice Age, including bones of ancient mammoths and a prehistoric bison, have been found at a Carlsbad construction site where hundreds of new homes are planned.

The fossils, 50,000 to 200,000 years old, were discovered earlier this summer during grading at Carlsbad's Quarry Creek, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Work was halted while paleontologists carefully removed them.

"I said, 'Take your time, this is kind of cool,'" John Suster, the project superintendent for developer Cornerstone Communities of San Diego, told the newspaper in a story Thursday.

Info

Discovery of ancient shipwrecks in Malaysia may force historians to rewrite history of South-East Asia

© YouTube, The Star Online
An ancient mast unearthed by archaeologistsat the Sungai Batu Archaeological Site, near Semeling, Malaysia.
Archaeologists have discovered a number of ancient shipwrecks lying in mud at the site of an ancient town called Kedah Tua in Malaysia. An investigation of the wrecks may force historians to rewrite the history of South-East Asia. The ships may predate the ancient city of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, itself more than 1,000 years old, by around 2,000 years.

The wrecks were detected by ground penetrating radar, enabling the archaeologists to reveal the outlines of more than five ships buried between five and 10 meters (16 and 33 feet) underground at the Sungai Batu Archaelogical Site, near Semeling. The site appears to have been one of the oldest civilizations in the region, reports New Strait Times Online.