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Wed, 31 Aug 2016
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Secret History

Cow Skull

Remains in Belgian caves show more evidence of cannibalism among neanderthals

© Helene Rougier, et al./Scientific Reports
Many of the Neanderthal bones excavated a Belgium dig site show signs of purposeful butchering -- evidence of cannibalism.
Neanderthal bones found in Belgium show signs of intentional butchering, evidence the human ancestors consumed their own.

Unearthed from the Goyet caves near Namur, Belgium, the bones are the first evidence of Neanderthal cannibalism north of the Alps. The discovery was made possible by the largest haul of Neanderthal bones north of the Alps. Researchers with the University of Tübingen excavated 99 bones and bone fragments, dated between 40,500 to 45,500 years old.

Cuts, notches and marks offer evidence of the butchering process. Some bones showed signs of skinning, slicing and marrow extraction. "These indications allow us to assume that Neanderthals practiced cannibalism," Hervé Bocherens, a professor at Tübingen's Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, said in a news release. "The many remains of horses and reindeer found in Goyet were processed the same way." In addition to revealing signs of butchering, the remains featured Neanderthal bones fashioned into tools.

DNA samples were collected from the remains and analyzed, doubling the amount of late Neanderthal genetic data. Their analysis shows late Neanderthals had limited genetic diversity and were increasingly interrelated as they approached extinction some 30,000 years ago. Such findings are in line with previous DNA studies.

Comment: See also:

The Golden Age, Psychopathy and the Sixth Extinction


Swastika symbol dates back 11,000 years

© Times of India
Kharagpur: Swastika -the Indian symbol of peace and continuity that Hitler co-opted for his twisted Aryan supremacy theory -is much older than believed, older than the Aryans and even the Indus Valley Civilization, says a team of top-notch researchers from some of the most prestigious institutions in India.

The researchers say the Swastika dates back at least 11,000 years and have traced its spread to western and Middle-Eastern civilizations.

In fact, one of their key findings is that a Ukranian Swastika, believed to date back 12,000 years to the Paleolithic Age, may not be this old, say sources.

The team will announce these and other "breakthroughs" at the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) on July 8, exhibiting all the evidence they have collected. They will also answer queries.

The research was like solving a jigsaw puzzle in the maze of history , involving study of codes and symbols that would excite Dan Brown.

Based at IIT-Kharagpur and led by one of its most senior professors, it was conducted by Sandhi, an HRD ministry-sponsored effort to amalgamate ancient Indian knowledge systems with contemporary science.


Lost city of Rhapta may have been discovered on Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania

© Seaunseen / Alan Sutton
Underwater photograph of some of the rectangular blocks that were found off Mafia Island in Tanzania.
Centuries of speculations related to the lost city of Rhapta may have been ended with a discovery made during a helicopter flight over Tanzania's Mafia Island. A set of partially submerged ancient ruins are believed to be the Roman market town, which had become lost to the pages of history.

The discovery took a place when scuba-diver Alan Sutton spotted an unusually-shaped formation in the water while flying in a helicopter off the coast of Tanzania. After a few years of searching for the ruins, he announced his success in a blog post . It took him three years to discover the ruins of structures resembling an ancient harbor city. Researchers claim that the ruins cover a large area and there are impressive lines of foundations covered by the thousands of square and oblong blocks.


Rare Thomas Jefferson letter discovered in family attic on sale for $325k

© RAAB Collection
Always check the abandoned boxes in your attic because you never know what you might find.

A family in Mississippi discovered a rare letter from founding father Thomas Jefferson in a box of heirlooms, written to their ancestor, U.S. Ambassador to France William Crawford.

The four-page letter from the former president shows his reaction to the end of the War of 1812, comparing it to the American revolution. He discusses the honor of American independence and rails against the British.


Skeletons with elongated skulls found by researchers in Bolivia

Researchers in Bolivia have found a number of skeletons in Bolivia. Two of them are of extreme interest since they display anomalous cranial deformation: freakishly large, elongated skulls.

According to researchers one of the skeletons had an elongated head that exceeds the proportions of an artificial cranial deformation, raising the question what could have caused such atypical features?

Finnish archaeologists working near the village of Patapatani in Bolivia, recently found the remains of at least six individuals buried under an Aymara funerary tower which was built, thousands of years ago for people of royal statues in the ancestral culture.

Comment: See also:

Blue Planet

The American War for Independence, why couldn't Britain win this one?

Could the Brits have won?
For the British Empire the war of American Independence ended in a humiliating and quite unexpected defeat. This answer looks at the reasons why the British Government was unable to quell the rebellion and ultimately lost the war which, in its later stages became a global conflict.

Comment: Also see, How Britain 'lost' America,
India - prized and essential. For 18th century Britain, forced to choose between their American possessions and India, was a no-brainer. The Indian prize was essential for the 'emerging' British imperial agenda - and more prestigious.


The truth behind the 4th of July: The Founding Fathers & America's apartheid state

Ah, July 4th. Of all the national orgies of self-congratulation, militarism and, of course shopping, this one stands out. Even more than say Memorial Day it perfectly captures the combination of myths and ignorance that make up the fairy tale view we hold of our national origins and character.

Fortunately, a new generation of scholars is bringing new research and perspective to our understanding of what really happened and especially why white racism is so intractable. One reason is that its roots run so much deeper than most whites even begin to understand or acknowledge. (A partial list of essential recent books appears at the end of this article.)

What most of us think the Declaration of Independence says is this and only this:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
But there was much more to the Declaration than those famous words. Far more attention was dedicated to a long list of grievances that the founding fathers had with the King. One of them was that the British were in cahoots with, "the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages." Another complaint which didn't make it into the Declaration but was included in a precursor document, the Virginia Constitution, complained that the British were "prompting our Negroes to rise in arms against us..."


How hetereosexuality and homosexuality were 'invented' in the late 19th century

An image from the cover of "Straight"
If you met Hanne Blank and her partner on the street, you might have a lot of trouble classifying them. While Blank looks like a feminine woman, her partner is extremely androgynous, with little to no facial hair and a fine smooth complexion. Hanne's partner is neither fully male, nor fully female; he was born with an unconventional set of chromosomes, XXY, that provide him with both male genitalia and feminine characteristics. As a result, Blank's partner has been mistaken for a gay woman, a straight man, a transman — and their relationship has been classified as gay, straight and everything in between.

Blank mentions her personal story at the beginning of her provocative new history of heterosexuality, "Straight," as a way of illustrating just how artificial our notions of "straightness" really are. In her book, Blank, a writer and historian who has written extensively about sexuality and culture, looks at the ways in which social trends and the rise of psychiatry conspired to create this new category in the late 19th and early 20th century. Along the way, she examines the changing definition of marriage, which evolved from a businesslike agreement into a romantic union centered around love, and how social Darwinist ideas shaped the divisions between gay and straight. With her eye-opening book, Blank tactfully deconstructs a facet of modern sexuality that most of us take for granted.

Salon spoke to Blank over the phone about the origins of heterosexuality, the evolution of marriage and why the rise of the "bromance" is a very good thing.

Men and woman have been having sex for as long as there have been humans. So how can we talk about there being a "history" of heterosexuality?

We can talk about there being a history of heterosexuality in the same way that we can talk about there being a history of religions. People have been praying to God for a really long time too, and yet the ways people relate to the divine have specific histories. They come from particular places, they take particular trajectories, there are particular texts, and individuals that are important in them. There are events, names, places, dates. It's really very similar.

Bad Guys

Beyond the Iran-Contra Affair Part 2: World War 3 has already happened

This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the Iran-Contra affair. This "scandal" briefly revealed the massive crimes that are always going on behind America's facade of respectability. It revealed the activities of the Secret Team of current and former CIA agents who for thirty years had been training and supporting drug-dealing exile armies, from China, to Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cuba, Afghanistan, and of course Nicaragua. Drugs, weapons dealing, money laundering, political bribery, terrorism, assassination, covert wars were just a few of their activities. But you'll have to read part one to find out more about that. This time, instead of examining the scandal itself I'll be widening the focus to reveal the worldwide covert war the US was waging with renewed intensity during the 80's, the final decade of what I call World War 3. World War 3 was primarily a war on the third world; it began before World War 2 even ended in places like Greece and China. With the end of World War 2 it kicked into high gear, targeted the Soviet Union with a covert war using fascist exiles like the Ukrainians and waging a massive and almost forgotten war to prevent Mao from liberating China, and later waged covert war on China using drug-dealing KMT exile armies. The Philippines became a laboratory for counter-insurgency and psychological operations. Millions would die in wars waged on Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos.

Comment: For the first part, see: Beyond the Iran-Contra Affair Part 1: The secret team


Newfound human species suggests Africa was evolutionary melting pot

© John Hawks, Wits University
The skull of Homo naledi, which was discovered within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.
The most recently discovered extinct human species may have lived less than 1 million years ago, researchers have discovered.

This finding suggests that a diverse range of human species might have lived at the same time in Africa, just as they might have in Asia, researchers said.

In 2015, scientists reported South African fossils of a hitherto-unknown relative of modern humans that possessed an unusual mix of features, such as feet adapted for a life on the ground but hands suited for a life in the trees. The fossil's discoverers named the species Homo naledi, and noted that although the early human had a brain about the size of an orange, these humans may have performed ritual burials of their dead.

Comment: Further reading: