Mon, 13 Feb 2017 19:00 UTC
The Saghatelyans no longer use this forlorn family heirloom, the girth of which exceeds the width of the door's frame. It belonged to the family's now-deceased patriarch, who used it to make homemade wine through a traditional process of fermentation and storage that people in this region have used for millennia. At one point, the family possessed at least five of them. Today only two are still intact.
This scene of giant karases, now sitting dusty and idle for decades in the basements of Armenia's villagers, is a strangely common one in this particular region. The villagers don't use them anymore, but the pots are so large they cannot be transported it out of their homes without the karas being smashed, or the wall of the basement being demo-ed. You can imagine the residents of Chiva rarely choose the latter option.
Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:00 UTC
"We are not saying that this was a state-level society," said Douglas J. Kennett, head and professor of anthropology, Penn State. "But we don't think it was egalitarian either." Archaeologists have described the Chaco Phenomenon as anything from an egalitarian society without any rulers at all, to a full-fledged state-level society or kingdom. The researchers now think that Chaco Canyon was much more than a leaderless conglomeration of people, but a hierarchically organized society with leadership inherited through the maternal line.
Typically, the only things found in prehistoric archaeological ruins to indicate elevated status are grave goods—the artifacts found with burials. Throughout the Southwest it is unusual to find formal burials within structures, because most people were buried with limited grave goods outside housing compounds, but in excavations sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History and carried out in the 1890s at Chaco Canyon, archaeologists found room 33 in Pueblo Bonito—a burial crypt within a 650-room pueblo dating between 800 and 1130—that contained 14 burials.
Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:54 UTC
An old file from 1951 seen by German newspaper Bild says she had "connections to Soviet authorities" that allegedly indicated some "intelligence activity." The documents had been kept under lock and key for over five decades.
Rokk was allegedly recruited as a KGB agent by her manager, Heinz Hoffmeister, who was already working for Soviet intelligence. Her husband, film director Georg Jacoby, whom she met on the set of Kora Terry, is thought to have spied along with her.
While it is unclear what role Rokk might have played in the espionage, the network of agents she was a member of, called Krona, was involved in passing top secret military intelligence on to the USSR, including plans for Operation Barbarossa (the code name for Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II) and the Battle of Kursk.
The Egyptian-born diva of Hungarian descent started her career as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris before heading to Broadway to polish her dancing and acting skills.
Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:29 UTC
Having spent many years researching the mystery of one of the so called 'saltmen' - mummies discovered in Iran's northwest in the 1990s and kept in the National Museum in Tehran - Iranian historians have been able to establish that the man did not die of natural causes, according to the Mehr news agency.
After subjecting the mummy's skull to radiocarbon dating, the researchers have determined that the 'saltman' was in fact killed at the age of 40 by a powerful blow to the head.
Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:36 UTC
Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:20 UTC
It was no secret that Yadin's excavations at sites in Israel, such as at Hazor in the 1950s and at Masada in the 1960s, were in part undertaken in the hope of reinforcing Jewish claims to the land by linking them to biblical stories and other famous events. Some have long charged Yadin with a political agenda detached from the truth - and cast a shadow over his interpretations of the finds at Masada and elsewhere in the Levant. In 1995 and 2002, Nachman Ben-Yehuda, a sociologist also at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, published his own interpretation of the finds from Masada in two separate books - The Masada Myth and Sacrificing Truth. He concluded that Yadin had been incorrect in many of his interpretations, perhaps deliberately so, in the interest of creating a nationalist narrative to help the young state of Israel forge an identity for itself.
Subsequently, Amnon Ben-Tor, who is now the Yigael Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and who had excavated with Yadin at Masada, published a spirited defence of Yadin and his findings, titled Back to Masada (2009). In this book, Ben-Tor went through the archaeology again, dismissing each of Ben-Yehuda's points and basically confirming Yadin's point of view.
Yet the dispute goes on. The story of Masada is more than just a story of the archaeological excavations. It is an example of how archaeologists use historical information to supplement what they find during their excavations and to flesh out the bare details provided by the archaeological discoveries. Yadin made particular use of the writings of Flavius Josephus - the Jewish general turned Roman historian who wrote two books about the Jews in the first century CE and who is the primary source for what might have taken place on top of Masada nearly 2,000 years ago. And Masada shows how the relationship between archaeology and the historical record cuts both ways; since we cannot be certain that Josephus's discussions are 100 per cent accurate, we can use archaeology to corroborate - or to challenge - the ancient text.
Masada also serves as a cautionary tale about using (or misusing) archaeological evidence to support a nationalistic agenda, as some scholars have suggested Yadin did. The debate over Masada involves the trustworthiness of Josephus's account; the credibility of Yadin, perhaps the most famous of all Israeli archaeologists; and the influence of nationalism on the interpretation of archaeological discoveries. Whom do we believe? How should we view this seemingly tragic, heart-wrenching ancient site and event? And can we ever tap evidence from thousands of years in the past to establish the origins, legal claims and birthright of peoples today?
Could a giant polar bear skull found at an eroding Alaska archaeological site be the legendary 'weasel bear'?
Alaska Daily News
Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:16 UTC
A huge, fully intact and unusually shaped polar bear skull emerged in 2014 from an eroding archaeological site about 13 miles southwest of Utqiaġvik (Barrow). It is one of the biggest polar bear skulls ever found — and quite different from most modern polar bear skulls. It is slender, elongated in the back and has unusual structural features around the nasal area and other areas.
"It looks different from your average polar bear," said Anne Jensen, an Utqiaġvik-based archaeologist who has been leading excavation and research programs in the region. Through radiocarbon dating and subsequent analysis, Jensen and her colleagues estimate that the big bear skull — which appears to be the fourth largest ever found — is from a period between the years 670 and 800. It is possibly the oldest complete polar bear skull found in Alaska, inspiring a name for the departed creature that owned it: The Old One.
Sun, 19 Feb 2017 17:36 UTC
An early indication an ancient volcanic eruption could have been the reason behind the gap came from sulfur particles trapped within the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. Michael Sigl, a chemist with the Paul Scherrer Institute, determined a massive eruption might have occurred in 540 CE, coinciding with the beginning of the Maya "Dark Age." Tree ring records also suggest that sulfur particles up high in the atmosphere triggered a global temperature drop of between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius around the same time. A volcanic eruption had impacted the world's climate, however, its location was undetermined.
Comment: For a more in-depth study, read Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 19:10 UTC
The diversity of languages in the Americas is like no other continent of the world, with eight times more "isolates" than any other continent. Isolates are "languages that have no demonstrable connection to any other language with which it can be classified into a family," Sicoli said. There are 26 isolates in North America and 55 in South America, mostly strung across the western edge of the continents, compared to just one in Europe, eight in Africa[?] and nine in Asia.
"Scientists in the past few decades have rethought the settlement of the Americas," Sicoli said, "replacing the idea that the land which connected Asia and North America during the last ice age was merely a 'bridge' with the hypothesis that during the last ice age humans lived in this refuge known as 'Beringia' for up to 15,000 years and then seeded migrations not only into North America, but also back into Asia."
In a Feb. 17 presentation to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Sicoli will join other scientists discussing "Beringia and the Dispersal of Modern Humans to the Americas." Since much of Beringia, theorized to have been located generally between northwest North America and northeastern Asia, has been under water for more than 10,000 years, it has been challenging to find archaeological and ecological evidence for this "deep history," as Sicoli calls it.
Recent ecological, genetic and archaeological data support the notion of human habitation in Beringia during the latest ice age. The new linguistic research methods, which use "big data" to compare similarities and differences between languages, suggest that such a population would have been linguistically diverse, Sicoli said.
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 15:43 UTC
Traces of the ancient observatory were found during the excavation of the Paregan mound in the province of Khormozgan in southern Iran. The remains likely belong to the reign of the Sassanian dynasty from 224 to 651 CE, Ali Asadi, the head of the archaeological team, told Tasnim news agency. The Sassanian Empire was the last imperial dynasty in Persia, now modern-day Iran, which ruled before the rise of Islam.
"Judging by the location of ceramics, this object belongs to the reign of the Sassanian dynasty," Asadi said. "However, scientists continue to work on the dating of the found artifacts."