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Music

Ancient conch makes music for the first time in 17,000 years

Drawing of Ancient Conch
© Carole Fritz et al. 2021 / drawing: Gilles Tosello
Reconstruction of the instrument being played. In the background, a red dotted buffalo decorates the walls of the Marsoulas Cave; similar motifs decorate the instrument.
How old-fashioned is your taste in music? Researchers have recreated notes from a 17,000-year-old conch shell, found in a cave in southern France.

Discovered in the Marsoulas Cave, just north of the Pyrenees mountains, in 1931, the shell was initially thought to be a drinking cup. But a more detailed analysis, published today in the journal Science Advances, showed that the shell had been subtly modified by humans to attach a mouthpiece and use as a musical instrument.

The researchers enlisted the help of a musicologist specialising in wind instruments, who played the instrument in a recording studio. With the mouthpiece of the shell protected to avoid damage to the artefact, the musicologist blew air through the shell in a similar manner to playing trumpet or trombone, which allowed the shell to vibrate at its natural resonance and produce notes. Three distinct tones were recorded, which were similar to the modern notes C, D and C sharp.

Doberman

DNA shows ancient Siberians domesticated dogs, who then helped settle America

Dog depictions cave art
© Wikimedia Commons
One of the earliest known cave depictions of dogs is in northwestern Saudi Arabia. It shows humans hunting with leashed canine helpers more than 9,000 years ago.
Scientists have long sought an indisputable link showing when humans first domesticated dogs, steering a few receptive gray wolves' descendants toward lives as lapdogs.

The origins of their "domestic relationship" is one of the most hotly debated questions around dogs' undying loyalty to their masters and humankind's unparalleled reliance on dogs to get a leg up on other predators in a frequently hostile environment.

Now, a team of interdisciplinary researchers has used DNA and other evidence to assert a "tandem movement" in and then beyond northeastern Siberia at a key stage of human and canid development late in the last Ice Age. Their identification of eastern Russia as a wellspring of dog-domestication tens of thousands of years ago is a major contribution to the debate over when "the first recognizably domestic dog" appeared.

They say iced-in Siberians somehow teamed up with wolves more than 23,000 years ago on a relatively temperate patch that hosted prey like mammoths and steppe bison. They speculate that thousands of years of geographical confinement prevented either side from straying too far and kept canine and human interlopers from disrupting the budding relationship.

Bad Guys

France confronted with the jihadism of its Turkish ally

France realises a little late that the jihadists who have carried out attacks on its soil and others who are preparing new ones are supported by foreign states, military allies within NATO. The refusal to draw conclusions in terms of foreign policy makes the bill to combat Islamism of little use.

erdogan

One month before the attacks in Paris-Saint Denis, President Erdoğan held an election meeting at the German-French border, in Strasbourg, as if he were at home. The crowd shouted: "We are your soldiers. You are our commander.
President Emmanuel Macron and the government of Jean Castex drafted a bill to combat the political instrumentation of the Muslim faith. This text is currently being discussed in Parliament.

It revolves around four strong ideas, including the prohibition of the financing of religious associations by foreign States. Everyone is well aware that this is the head of Islamism, but no one dares to name these states: Turkey and Qatar, remote controlled by the United Kingdom and the United States. Indeed, fighting against Islamism in France has many brutal consequences in foreign policy. No party dares to tackle this problem, rendering all the efforts made in this struggle ineffective.

France has already experienced this hesitation in the face of Islamism in the mid-1990s. At the time, the United Kingdom and the United States supported the jihadists in Algeria against French influence. London also offered political asylum to these "democrats" who were fighting against a military regime. The Minister of the Interior, Charles Pasqua, launched a showdown that led him to have the members of a commando of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) who had hijacked an Air France plane shot dead and to expel the CIA chief of post in Paris (who was also compromised in a case of economic espionage). The issue was thus settled for 20 years.

Blue Planet

Farming, trade, and climate change in Switzerland during the Bronze Age

Bronze Age
© Archeodunum SA
Tolochenaz - La Caroline (canton of Vaud). Late Bronze Age burial. Photograph taken during excavation of tomb 1061.
The Bronze Age (2200 to 800 BC) marked a decisive step in the technological and economic development of ancient societies. People living at the time faced a series of challenges: changes in the climate, the opening up of trade and a degree of population growth. How did they respond to changes in their diet, especially in Western Switzerland? A team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, in collaboration with the University of Neuchâtel (UNINE) and Aix-Marseille (Lampea, France), has for the first time carried out isotopic analyses on human and animal skeletons together with plant remains. The scientists discovered that manure use had become widespread over time to improve crop harvests in response to demographic growth. The researchers also found that there had been a radical change in dietary habits following the introduction of new cereals, such as millet. In fact, the spread of millet reflected the need to embrace new crops following the drought that ravaged Europe during this period. Finally, the team showed that the resources consumed were mainly terrestrial. The research results are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Comment: As other studies have revealed, it would be interesting to know just exactly what their diet was made up of, in what quantities, as well as the overall health of the people studied:


Cheese

Humans were drinking milk before they could digest it

Sudan cow
© Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis/Getty Images
Cattle herders in South Sudan are part of a dairying tradition that stretches back at least 6000 years, according to a new study.
Our history with milk presents a chicken-or-egg conundrum: Humans couldn't digest the beverage before they evolved mutations that helped them do so, yet they had to already be consuming milk to change their DNA. "There's always been the question of which came first," says University of Pennsylvania geneticist Sarah Tishkoff. "The cultural practice or the mutation."

Now, scientists have found some of the oldest evidence yet for dairy drinking: People in modern Kenya and Sudan were ingesting milk products beginning at least 6000 years ago. That's before humans evolved the "milk gene," suggesting we were drinking the liquid before we had the genetic tools to properly digest it.

All humans can digest milk in infancy. But the ability to do so as an adult developed fairly recently, likely in the past 6000 years. A handful of mutations allows adults to produce the enzyme lactase, which can break down the milk sugar lactose. Genes that enable what's called lactase persistence are widespread in modern Africa, which has four known lactase persistence mutations. (European populations rely on just one.)

Comment: Mongolians survive extremely well in their harsh climate, in part thanks to their consumption of dairy and the essential fat and protein that it provides them with. As the article suggests, and as seems to be the case with agriculture, it seems that one of the primary drivers behind the consumption of dairy was due to environmental pressures, and in particular climatic upheaval. It's also notable that it's only in humanities recent history that we turned to farming, and then dairy:


Info

Previously unknown kingdom discovered in Turkey

"We had no idea about this kingdom. In a flash, we had profound new information on the Iron Age Middle East," said Prof. James Osborne of the Oriental Institute, an archaeologist who specializes in examining Iron Age cities. Osborne and colleagues have discovered what looks like a major political center in ancient Turkey from about 2700 years ago — and we knew nothing about it.
Ancient Stone
© James Osborne
The half-submerged stone with inscriptions dating to the 8th century BC.
It started in 2019, when a local farmer told the group that a nearby canal had a strange stone with some unknown writing on it. At that time, researchers were exploring a giant, ancient mound site in central Turkey called Türkmen-Karahöyük and went to investigate what the farmer had pointed out. They knew the area was riddled with archaeological finds, but they were shocked by what they found.
"We could see it still sticking out of the water, so we jumped right down into the canal - up to our waists wading around," said archaeologist James Osborne from the University of Chicago in early 2020.

"Right away it was clear it was ancient, and we recognised the script it was written in: Luwian, the language used in the Bronze and Iron ages in the area."
Osborne wasn't an expert in Luwian, but he was fortunate enough to work just down the hall from two experts who translated it as being written by a king called Hartapu.

Bizarro Earth

Indonesian slaughter, Allen Dulles, and the assassination of JFK

JFK Dulles
A Review of Greg Poulgrain's book JFK vs. Allen Dulles

Before I digress slightly, let me state from the outset that the book by Greg Poulgrain that I am about to review is extraordinary by any measure. The story he tells is one you will read nowhere else, especially in the way he links the assassination of President Kennedy to former CIA Director Allen Dulles and the engineering by the latter of one of the 20th century's most terrible mass murders. It will make your hair stand on end and should be read by anyone who cares about historical truth.

About twelve years ago I taught a graduate school course to Massachusetts State Troopers and police officers from various cities and towns. As part of the course material, I had created a segment on the history of the United States' foreign policy, with particular emphasis on Indonesia.

No one in this class knew anything about Indonesia, not even where it was. These were intelligent, ambitious adults, eager to learn, all with college degrees. This was in the midst of the "war on terror"; i.e., war on Muslim countries, and the first year of Barack Obama's presidency. Almost all the class had voted for Obama and were aware they he had spent some part of his youth in this unknown country somewhere far away.

I mention this as a preface to this review of JFK vs. Dulles, because its subtitle is Battleground Indonesia, and my suspicion is that those students' lack of knowledge about the intertwined history of Indonesia and the U.S. is as scanty today among the general public as it was for my students a dozen years ago.

Comment: It goes without saying that the same malevolent geopolitical mechanisms to wrest control from whole sovereign nations continues to this day. See also:


Books

Extreme weather events that hit Bristol 400 years ago revealed in newly transcribed chronicle

Great Flood
© The British Library
News Pamphlet illustration depicting the Great Flood in the Bristol Channel Jan 1607
Historians from the University of Bristol have discovered contemporary accounts of numerous weird weather events that happened in the Bristol area around the turn of the 17th century, including devastating floods, massive snowfalls and frosts that saw rivers frozen for months.

The detail comes from a chronicle that was acquired by Bristol Archives in 1932 but then declared as 'unfit for production' due to its extremely fragile nature. Access to the manuscript was very limited making it difficult to investigate its contents.

Using digital photography, a team led by Dr. Evan Jones from the University of Bristol's Department of History, has now painstakingly transcribed the document which is named 09594/1.

Comment: The world is not getting warmer, instead all signs point to our planet entering a similar cycle to that described above: And check out SOTT radio's:


Info

New study suggests how Genghis Khan really died

Genghis Khan
© The Art Science Museum
Genghis Khan may have died of bubonic plague, and not from blood loss after being castrated or other causes bandied about over the centuries, a new study finds.

Genghis Khan, born Temüjin of the Borjigin clan in 1162, was one of the most famous conquerors in history. In 1206, he founded and served as the first ruler of the Mongol Empire, which, at the time of his death in 1227, was 2.5 times larger by territory than the Roman Empire, the new study's authors noted. His legacy has reached global dimensions: A study published in 2003 in The American Journal of Human Genetics suggested that about 1 in 200 men worldwide may be Genghis Khan's direct descendants.

While the conqueror's influence is well known, his death is shrouded in mystery. Genghis Khan's family and followers were instructed to keep his demise as their most hidden secret, since it happened during a vital stage of their war against the Western Xia, an empire the Mongols had fought for more than 20 years, the researchers said.

To honor or sully Genghis Khan's memory, both friends and foes of the Mongols told a number of legends about his death, the scientists said. One story claims he succumbed to blood loss after getting stabbed or castrated by a princess of the Tangut people, a Tibeto-Burman tribe in northwest China. Others suggested he died of injuries sustained after tumbling from his horse, fell in battle against the Chinese or died of an infected arrow wound during his final campaign against the Western Xia.

Bizarro Earth

Joe Biden and the revenge of the behaviorists: Why statistical thinking can get you killed

Holdren/Skinner/Brzezinski/Russell
© Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS/biograpy.com/Dances With Bears/Simplycharly.com/KJN
John Holdren • BF Skinner • Zbigniew Brzezinski • Bertrand Russell
As the spirit of patriotism and belief in scientific and technological progress was slowly suffocated throughout the Cold War, the governing class that Russell represented sunk its talons into civilization ever more deeply.

Ninety years ago, Bertrand Russell wrote a book entitled The Scientific Outlook.

In it, the philosopher and sometimes imperial grand strategist made the point that society has become far too complex to be left to democratic institutions. In the modern age of advanced warfare, only a scientific dictatorship could be trusted to lead society, while the thoughtless masses of human cattle should be given the illusion of democracy and freedom. Sovereign nation states must be superseded by world government and thus two parallel cultures, two educations and two moralities must be shaped.

Russell laid out his grim worldview of a master/slave dominated order in the following terms:
"The scientific rulers will provide one kind of education for ordinary men and women and another for those who are to become holders of scientific power. Ordinary men and women will be expected to be docile, industrious, punctual, thoughtless and contented. Of these qualities, probably contentment will be considered the most important. In order to produce it, all the researchers of psycho-analysis, behaviorism and biochemistry will be brought into play... all the boys and girls will learn from an early age to be what is called "cooperative" i.e.: to do exactly what every body else is doing. Initiative will be discouraged in these children, and insubordination, without being punished will be scientifically trained out of them."
For the elites in Russell's dystopic world, a different role was envisioned:
"Except for the one matter of loyalty to the world state and to their own order, members of the governing class will be encouraged to be adventurous, and full of initiative. It will be recognized that it is their business to improve scientific techniques and to keep the manual workers contented by means of continual new amusements".