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Sun, 23 Feb 2020
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Ötzi the iceman, the multiple mosses, and his final days

Otzi first discovered
© Paul HANNY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Ötzi, freshly discovered, in situ, in 1991.
After 5,300 years, Ötzi the Iceman continues to divulge secrets. Archaeobotanists recently identified seventy-five different species of mosses and liverworts (a non-vascular plant similar to moss) that were sprinkled on the neolithic man's clothing, sequestered in his gut, and buried in the icy gully where he lay for millennia after his murder by the Schnalstal/Val Senales glacier in the Ötzal Alps. Many of these bryophtyes — another term for mosses and liverworts — are not local to the spot where the Iceman was found, and reveal information about his movements in the final forty-eight hours of his life. A study detailing the new findings was published this past fall in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

When the Iceman (also nicknamed Ötzi after the Ötzal Alps where he was found) was discovered by two hikers in South Tyrol, Italy in 1991, he was laying face down in a frozen gully. He had been killed over five thousand years prior — shot through the back with an arrow — but the glacier's ice preserved his corpse. Also captured in the ice around his shriveled body was a menagerie of neolithic plants and fungi.

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A new study says footprints in volcanic rock probably belong to Homo heidelbergensis

The Devil's Path
© Ars Technica
Local residents call the tracks Ciampate del Diavolo, or the Devil's Path.
Roccamonfina volcano, about 60km northwest of Vesuvius, erupted violently around 350,000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows — deadly torrents of hot gas and volcanic ash — raced down the sides of the mountain. But within a few days, a small group of hominins trekked across the layer of ash and pumice that covered the steep mountainside. Recent analysis and some newly identified prints suggest that the intrepid (or reckless) hominins may have been Homo heidelbergensis who lived and hunted near the volcano.

Another layer of ash later covered the slope, sealing away at least 81 tracks until the early 1800s, when erosion revealed them to the local humans. The tracks record where at least five climbers, all with different foot sizes, walked down the steep, ash-covered hillside. One trail zigzags back and forth downhill, and you can easily picture climbers carefully working their way diagonally across the slope. Along another, more curving path, there are still handprints where the climbers reached out to steady themselves, and a slide mark reveals where one climber slipped.

The ash must have been cool enough to walk on but still soft enough to preserve tracks — very detailed ones, in a few cases. According to ichnologist Adolfo Panarello (of University of Cassino and Southern Latium) and his colleagues, that must have happened within a few days of the pyroclastic flow; Roccamonfina may even still have been erupting. In the 1800s, people living around the now-extinct volcano were sure that only the devil could have left those tracks.


3800-year-old spoons made from bones found in Mongolia

Bone Spoon
© AKI Press
Spoons found in Mongolia are said to have been used during the time of ancient Egypt, and the Shang dynasty as early as 4,000 years ago, Montsame reported.

In correlation with the matter, it has been found that ancient Mongolians used to make spoons out of bones, which traces back at least 3,800 years ago, from the findings discovered by a research team of the Archeology Department of Ulaanbaatar State University.

As a result of their excavation done between 2002 and 2011, the research team had found a 7,500-year-old bone knife from the basin of Eg river in Khutag-Undur soum, Bulgan aimag, a 4,500-year-old vase pot from the basin of Bulgan river in Bulgan soum, Khovd aimag, a 3,800-year-old bone spoon from the basins of Bulgan and Eg rivers as well as others.

Star of David

Declassified: An expose on Israeli plot to prepare Arab lands for Jewish settlement via Martial Law

Ramla prisoners
© CC0
Ramla prisoners of war, July 12-13, 1948
Between 1948 and 1966, over 150,000 Arabs living within Israel's post-independence borders were governed by military rule, faced curfews, travel restrictions, and the threat of arbitrary arrest and expulsion.

The draconian circumstances faced by Arab-Israelis during the period of military rule were not instituted on the basis of security considerations or any real fear of an Arab uprising, but were part of a concerted plan to drive the minority from the land and to clear the way for Jewish settlement, a declassified secret supplementary to a government report has revealed.

The document, excerpts of which have been published by Haaretz, was part of a report by the Ratner Committee, a government committee established in late 1955 to examine the possibility of abolishing martial law in the Arab-majority territories of Israel.

Entitled "Security Settlement and the Land Question," the codicil discusses the provisions governing the estimated 156,000 Arabs who stayed behind in the territories which became part of Israel after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (another 800,000 Arabs fled Israel during this period).

Blue Planet

Ancient skulls from Mexico surprisingly diverse, challenges assumptions about settlement of the Americas

© Jerónimo Avilés
Skeletal remains found inside a submerged cave in Mexico are among the oldest found in the Americas.
Analysis of four ancient skulls retrieved from the submerged caves of Quintana Roo, Mexico, suggests that early humans populating North America were far more diverse than previously thought.

The discovery adds fresh fuel to one of the most hotly debated topics in archaeology and biological anthropology, according to a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, as part of a quest to understand the origins of Native Americans.

The skeletons, discovered by underwater archaeologists in the expansive limestone cave system that used to be above sea level, are dated to between 13 and nine thousand years ago, during the late Pleistocene/early Holocene.

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World's oldest cooking pots found in Siberia, created 16,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age

© Yanshina Oksana
Shards of pottery from a cooking pot used by Siberian hunters.
A new study shows that ancient Siberian hunters created heat resistant pots so that they could cook hot meals - surviving the harshest seasons of the ice age by extracting nutritious bone grease and marrow from meat.

The research - which was undertaken at the University of York - also suggests there was no single point of origin for the world's oldest pottery.

Academics extracted and analysed ancient fats and lipids that had been preserved in pieces of ancient pottery - found at a number of sites on the Amur River in Russia - whose dates ranged between 16,000 and 12,000 years ago.


Comment: Was it that the conditions on our planet were shifting so considerably that cookware of this kind was suddenly necessary? Also check out SOTT radio's:

Light Saber

Benjamin Lay: The 18th-century Quaker dwarf who challenged slavery, meat-eating, and racism

benjamin lay quaker abolistionist
© William Williams/Public Domain
This 1790 portrait of Benjamin Lay, by William Williams and his apprentice, depicts Lay in front of his cave. The basket of vegetables beside him is a hint of his vegetarianism.
One Sunday, 18th-century Quakers living in Abington, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, were met with a strange sight outside their morning meeting. The snow lay thick on the ground and there was Benjamin Lay, a member of the congregation, wearing little clothing, with his "right leg and foot uncovered," almost knee-deep in the snow. When one Quaker after the next told him that he would get sick or that he should get inside and cover up, he turned to them. "Ah," he said, "you pretend compassion for me, but you do not feel for the poor slaves in your fields, who go all winter half-clad."

Lay always cut a striking figure. An 1818 article, republished in the newspaper The Friend in 1911, many years after his death, described him thus:
... only four foot seven in height; his head was large in proportion to his body, the features of his face were remarkable ... He was hunch-backed, with a projecting chest, below which his body become much contracted. His legs were so slender, as to appear almost unequal to the purpose of supporting him.

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MindMatters: Who Was G.I. Gurdjieff And Why Does It Matter?

Healer, philosopher, psychologist, adventurer, composer, mystic - all describe a facet of who George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was, and what he did. And yet, he may also be called one of the leading figures in 'spiritual' growth that most people have simply never heard of. Gurdjieff's teachings, body of writing and the schools he started and taught were, and are, a profound testament to his insight and vision for a healthy and well functioning human being. On a personal level, he worked with hundreds of students in assisting them to not only see themselves as they really were, but to help grow the seeds of greater consciousness and conscience that would make them better people.

This week on MindMatters we discuss the life and times of one of the 20th century's most towering figures and ask, what drove him? Who did he work with? And what is the 4th Way school that has carried on his work in the generations after his death in 1949? In a world that insists that it is 'woke', why are Gurdjieff's ideas about self-awareness so relevant to the individual in the here and now?

Running Time: 01:02:03

Download: MP3 — 57.7 MB


Egypt unearths 3,000 year-old tomb with sarcophagus dedicated to Horus, GOD of the sky

© Global Look Press / dpa / Samer Abdalla
A vast trove of artifacts, including 20 sarcophagi, has been discovered in sixteen tombs in Egypt's Minya region. It's the latest in a series of high-profile digs which have resulted in extraordinary finds in recent years.

The Ministry of Antiquities unveiled the incredible discovery at the Al-Ghoreifa site, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) south of Cairo on Thursday.

The tombs contained the mummified bodies of high priests of the god Djehuty, and nobility from the 26th dynasty from the Late Period around 3,000 years ago. A spectacular sarcophagus inscribed with hieroglyphics dedicated to the sky god Horus was also unearthed.


Russia declassifies pre-Yalta conference photos: Churchill, FDR in Sevastopol, Crimea

© Russian Defense Ministry archive
(left to right) Soviet FM Molotov, British PM Churchill and US President Roosevelt at the Sevastopol airport, Crimea, USSR, February 1945
As part of a WWII document trove declassified ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Yalta summit, never before seen photographs show US and British leaders and officers arriving in Crimea and touring Sevastopol with Soviet hosts.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt traveled to Crimea in February 1945, to meet with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at the Black Sea town of Yalta.

Official photos from the Yalta conference itself were taken by American photographers at the Livadia Palace, where the US delegation was staying. Prior to the summit, however, Soviet photographers captured the arrival of Allied leaders and their activities in Sevastopol.