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MindMatters: Zoroastrianism: The Ancient System of Values That Sought to Change The World, And Did

zarathustra
More than several millennia ago, a spiritual leader in Persia had a very high vision and ideal for humanity that he labored to preach and spread. In what is now known as Iran, this priest and reformer - who we know as Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) - began with a strong conception of both good and evil, and man's choice to be a manifestation of either. He saw this choice, and the awareness of it as a choice - as not only crucial to the future of his tribe and his countrymen, but to the well being of the world at large. Along with this very basic but essential concept was Zoroaster's advocacy for man's connection and respect for nature, a cohesive society, and reverence for a higher cosmological order.

Considering Zoroastrianism's huge influence and widespread appeal, and the two thousand or more years that it helped lift up the ancient world, what can be said of its impact on other of the world's ancient religions? And perhaps more importantly, what religious, social and cultural ideas does Zoroastrianism teach that we may benefit from today? This week on MindMatters we discuss these and several other features of this ancient religion, that though mostly lost to this time, could not be more timely.


Running Time: 00:49:20

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Rose

Neanderthal skeleton dated to 70,000 years ago discovered at 'flower burial' site in Iraq

Neanderthal

The first articulated Neanderthal skeleton to come out of the ground for over 20 years has been unearthed at one of the most important sites of mid-20th century archaeology: Shanidar Cave, in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The first articulated Neanderthal skeleton to come out of the ground for over 20 years has been unearthed at one of the most important sites of mid-20th century archaeology: Shanidar Cave, in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Researchers say the new find offers an unparalleled opportunity to investigate the "mortuary practices" of this lost species using the latest technologies.

Shanidar Cave was excavated in the 1950s, when archaeologist Ralph Solecki uncovered partial remains of ten Neanderthal men, women and children.

Some were clustered together, with clumps of ancient pollen surrounding one of the skeletons. Solecki claimed this showed Neanderthals buried their dead and conducted funerary rites with flowers.

Comment: See also:


Binoculars

The Italian 'Years of Lead' and secret 'strategy of tension' that may be a foreshadowing of America's future

years of lead
While there are some in the United States who believe we are headed toward another Civil War, there is perhaps another, more recent parallel worth exploring - the so-called "Italian Years of Lead."

The short version is that in the late 1960s through the early 1980s, Italy was a hotbed of assassination, shoot-outs and bombings between various factions of the far-left, the far-right and the Italian government - with American, British and Soviet intelligence agencies often pulling the strings.

While the death toll was a lot lower than it could have been, it's a fascinating and oft-overlooked area of history. When all was said and done, the Italian political landscape had been radically changed. Thousands of leftists were forced to flee the nation, but ultimately, shocked by the violence, Italian politics moderated.

Did we mention that a Masonic Lodge came very close to overthrowing the government? Strap yourself in. You're about to take a bumpy ride down an obscure historic lane, where "truth being stranger than fiction" is most certainly true (and well documented).

Comment: Great summary of the 'strategy of tension'.

But what if it's actually already in an advanced state of application in the US?

Terror attacks attributed to Islamists are thankfully rare in the US, but mass shootings are not. What if some of those - especially the particularly bloody ones that receive much media attention - are actually being carried out by govt operative, or operatives who can rely on the govt's protection?

What if it has been a major factor causing the radicalization and polarization we've seen to date in the USA?


Info

Earliest evidence of ancient plant foods discovered in Australia

Plant Food
© The University of Queensland

Australia's first plant foods - eaten by early populations 65,000 years ago - have been discovered in Arnhem Land.


Preserved as pieces of charcoal, the morsels were recovered from the debris of ancient cooking hearths at the Madjedbebe archaeological site, on Mirarr country in northern Australia.

University of Queensland archaeobotanist Anna Florin said a team of archaeologists and Traditional Owners identified 10 plant foods, including several types of fruits and nuts, underground storage organs ('roots and tubers'), and palm stem.

"By working with Elders and co-authors May Nango and Djaykuk Djandjomerr, the team was also able to explain how the plants were likely used at Madjedbebe," Ms Florin said.

"Many of these plant foods required processing to make them edible and this evidence was complemented by grinding-stone technology also used during early occupation at the site."

"The First Australians had a great deal of botanical knowledge and this was one of the things that allowed them to adapt to and thrive in this new environment.

"They were able to guarantee access to carbohydrates, fat and even protein by applying this knowledge, as well as technological innovation and labour, to the gathering and processing of Australian plant foods."

Pyramid

Egypt: Great Pyramid exposed after tiny robot explores mystery shaft in Queen's Chamber

EGYPT's Great Pyramid of Giza has been exposed after a tiny robot headed into the air shafts of the ancient structure, making a breakthrough discovery which "adds another dimension to the story" Express.co.uk can exclusively reveal.
Pyramid
© GETTY
The robot headed into the Great Pyramid
Led by a team of Britons, the Djedi Mission used state of the art robotics and technology designed for space exploration to finally look beyond the famous Gantenbrink Door. First spotted in 1993, the stone slab was hiding 65 metres up an airshaft behind the Queen's Chamber and was drilled through under orders of famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, seemingly revealing nothing during a live TV broadcast. But now, almost three decades later, experts have made a breakthrough, historian Matthew Sibson revealed to Express.co.uk exclusively.

He said: "Basically, a few years ago, a robot went into the Great Pyramid and found a door behind an air shaft in the Queen's Chamber.

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Eagle

Canada has a momumental Ukrainian Nazi problem

Roman Shukhevych, commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army

The monument to Roman Shukhevych, commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army from 1943 until his death in 1950, has stood at the entrance of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in North Edmonton, Alberta, since mid-1970s. Shukhevych is lionized by some for his fight for Ukrainian independence against Poland, the Soviet Union and later Germany. But critics of the monument say it glorifies a Nazi henchman who sided with Germany in hopes of winning independence for Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of John-Paul Himka)
A Canadian monument to a hero of an anti-Soviet nationalist uprising in Ukraine is raising questions about the manipulation of historical memory for political purposes.

Critics of the monument say Roman Shukhevych was also a ruthless Nazi henchman and honouring him plays into the hands of the Kremlin propaganda machine that seeks to delegitimize the very idea of Ukrainian statehood.


Comment: Indeed, Canada clearly has a 'Nazi apologist' problem. Among other things, it voted against Russia's anti-Nazism resolution at the UN.


The bronze bust of Shukhevych, one of the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (known under its Ukrainian acronym UPA) during WWII and immediately after, has stood quietly at the entrance of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in North Edmonton, Alberta, for 45 years.

Shukhevych's stern gaze has greeted generations of Ukrainian-Canadians who came to the centre for various community activities, oblivious of the national hero's messy wartime record of mass murder and ethnic cleansing.

Comment: One solution would be to give these nutcases their state: carve it out of western Ukraine and call it the People's Democratic Republic of Galicia, or Volhynistan or something.

It should be pointed out that Canada was initially reluctant to absorb these Ukie Nazis, until the British govt pressured her into it...
Members of the Galicia Division were initially prohibited from entering Canada due to their membership in the SS. But in 1950, Britain made an appeal to the Commonwealth for volunteers to accept a total of 9,000 division members who were at that time residing in the UK after being disarmed by British troops at the war's end.

When Canada's External Affairs Department, prompted by complaints from the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), raised concerns about the division's ties to the Nazis and role in Nazi atrocities, the British government insisted that it had carried out background checks. "While in Italy these men were screened by Soviet and British missions and neither then nor subsequently has any evidence been brought to light which would suggest that any of them fought against the Western Allies or engaged in crimes against humanity," claimed the British Foreign Office. "Their behaviour since they came to this country," added London, "has been good and they have never indicated in any way that they are infected with any trace of Nazi ideology."

With this letter serving as political cover, Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and his cabinet declared that Galicia Division members would be permitted to immigrate to Canada unless it could be proved that they had personally committed atrocities against civilian populations based on "race, religion or national origins." Simply having been a Galicia Division member would not be considered a valid reason to prevent entry, even though after the war all Waffen-SS members had been deemed complicit in war crimes.

The immigration of Nazi and Nazi-allied war criminals continued for more than a decade after the war and was a significant factor in Canada's emergence during the Cold War as a political-ideological centre of far-right Ukrainian nationalism.

Speaking to a CBS 60 Minutes programme in 1997, Canadian historian Irving Abella, who is currently Professor for Canadian Jewish history at York University, bluntly summed up the political climate of the time. "One way of getting into postwar Canada," he said "was by showing the SS tattoo. This proved that you were an anti-Communist."
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Blue Planet

5,200-year-old grains redate trans-Eurasian crop exchange, climate was warmer and more humid

Chimulchek
© Jianjun Yu
A photo of the stone men (Chimulchek Culture) in the steppe area of Altai Mountains. These figures are characteristic of the peoples who lived in the area around the time of occupation at Tongtian. These specific examples are located at the Chimulchek site (ca. 4000 years old) and not far from Tongtian Cave. Ceramic sherds from the cave suggest that the occupants in the cave shared similar cultural traits to other people in the region.
Cereals from the Fertile Crescent and broomcorn millet from northern China spread across the ancient world, integrating into complex farming systems that used crop-rotation cycles enabled by the different ecological regions of origin. The resulting productivity allowed for demographic expansions and imperial formation in Europe and Asia. In this study, an international, interdisciplinary team of scientists illustrate that people moved these crops across Eurasia earlier than previously realized, adapting cultivation methods for harsh agricultural environments.

Most people are familiar with the historical Silk Road, but fewer people realize that the exchange of items, ideas, technology, and human genes through the mountain valleys of Central Asia started almost three millennia before organized trade networks formed. These pre-Silk Road exchange routes played an important role in shaping human cultural developments across Europe and Asia, and facilitated the dispersal of technologies such as horse breeding and metal smelting into East Asia. One of the most impactful effects of this process of ancient cultural dispersal was the westward spread of northeast Asian crops and the eastward spread of southwest Asian crops. However, until the past few years, a lack of archaeo-botanical studies in Central Asia left a dearth of data relating to when and how this process occurred.

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Dig

Walls made of human bones discovered under Ghent cathedral

wall bones
© Ruben Willaert
Archaeologists uncover low walls made of stacked thigh and shin bones
Archaeologists working in and around Saint-Bavo's cathedral in Ghent have made a macabre discovery - walls constructed entirely out of human bones.

"This find is unique in Belgium," said a spokesperson for the archaeological team from Ruben Willaert bvba in Bruges.

The walls are made mainly of the thigh and shin bones of adults. Between the walls, the space is filled with skulls, many of them shattered.

Above that level, meanwhile, full human skeletons have been uncovered. "So the graveyard must have still been in use for some time after the walls were built."

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Microscope 2

Last mammoths plagued by genetic defects

mammoth
© Albert Protopopov
A mammoth at the Mammoth museum in Yakutsk
The world's last woolly mammoths, sequestered on an Arctic Ocean island outpost, suffered from serious genetic defects caused by generations of inbreeding that may have hampered traits such as sense of smell and male fertility in the doomed population.

Scientists said on Friday that the genome of one of the last mammoths from Wrangel Island off Siberia's coast showed that the population was riddled with deleterious mutations. They resurrected genes from this mammoth in the laboratory to find clues about the demise of this illustrious Ice Age species.

Most woolly mammoths went extinct roughly 10,000 years ago amid a warming climate and widespread human hunting. But isolated populations survived for thousands of years after that on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea and Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean. The Wrangel Island population was the last, disappearing roughly 4,000 years ago.


Comment: Mammoths in Siberia were found to have been flash frozen, meanwhile, they, along with a variety of other mega-fauna, became extinct around the same time. These facts, along with a wealth of other data as detailed by Pierre Lescaudron in Of Flash Frozen Mammoths and Cosmic Catastrophes shows that the vast majority of these species were clearly the victims of cataclysmic events on our planet.


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Magnify

Fossils shed new light on car-sized turtle that once roamed South America

Stupendemys geographicus, armed with sturdy horns, lived from about 13m to 7m years ago alongside giant crocodilians

Stupendemys geographicus
© JA Chirinos/Reuters
The huge extinct freshwater turtle Stupendemys geographicus, that lived in lakes and rivers in northern South America during the Miocene Epoch, is seen in an illustration.
Scientists have unearthed new fossils of one of the largest turtles that ever lived: a car-sized reptile which prowled the lakes and rivers of what is now northern South America from about 13m years ago to 7m years ago.

The fossils of the turtle - Stupendemys geographicus - were found in Colombia's Tatacoa Desert and Venezuela's Urumaco region, and for the first time provide a comprehensive understanding of the creature which grew up to 13ft (4 meters) long and 1.25 tons in weight.

Stupendemys males boasted sturdy front-facing horns on both sides of its shell very close to the neck. Deep scars detected in the fossils indicated that these horns may have been used like a lance for fighting with other Stupendemys males over mates or territory. Females did not have the horns.