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Ancient volcano discovered on Dutch seafloor

The Mulciber volcano (in red) found at the bottom of the North Sea.
The Mulciber volcano (in red) found at the bottom of the North Sea. Three kilometers of sediment lies on top of it.
An extinct volcano has been discovered about 100 kilometers off the coast of Texel, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) confirmed this week. The 150-million-year-old volcano, named 'Mulciber' after the Roman god of fire, was discovered accidentally by TNO researchers during a reanalysis of old seafloor maps while on the search for oil.

The ancient formation was recognized by deviations in the seafloor's structure, combined with measurements of the earth's magnetic field. According to Michiel van der Meulen, who headed up the Geological Survey of the Netherlands for the TNO, the discovery marks an important moment in the understanding of volcanism in the North Sea.

"The North Sea and the geological deposits in it seem to me to be reading an exciting story. We think we know the big story now. But if as you reread it, characters and storylines become more and more apparent, so this discovery adds to the general knowledge about our living environment," Van Der Meulen explained to public broadcaster NOS on Saturday.


Particle accelerator to help read Dead Sea Scrolls too fragile to unroll

Dead Sea scrolls
© S. Parker, The Digital Restoration Initiative/The University of Kentucky
Virtually unwrapped Ein Gedi scroll (and a penny): The original scroll is on the right.
Researchers are on the cusp of perfecting a technique to read Dead Sea scrolls that are too brittle to be unrolled and decipher the content of these 2,000-year-old texts without ever opening them.

An international team of archaeologists, computer scientists and physicists is planning to virtually unwrap these fragile manuscripts by tapping into the power of a synchrotron, a massive ring-shaped particle accelerator in which scientists smash atoms together to figure out how the Universe works.

Scholars have been able to decipher most of the parchments and papyri found along the shores of the Dead Sea, but a few dozen are in such poor condition that any attempt to unroll them would almost certainly destroy them, explains Pnina Shor, curator for the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Comment: See also: Also check out SOTT radio's: The Truth Perspective: Match Made in Heaven: The Surprising Similarities Between Radical Islam and Talmudic Judaism


How ancient people preserve their foods

New Fridge
© Everett Collection
For quarantine cuisine, many of us are reaching deep into the kitchen pantry and freezer — recovering canned soups and frozen veggies, purchased who knows when. Though we may wonder, "Are these the same peas I used to ice my sprained ankle?" we're confident the contents are edible. Perishables last for years thanks to modern methods of preservation, such as freezing, canning, vacuum-sealing and chemical additives.

But how did ancient people preserve their foods?

It's a problem that every society, from the dawn of humanity, has faced: How to save food for figurative rainy days — away from microbes, insects and other critters eager to spoil it. Over the years, archaeologists have found evidence for a variety of techniques. Some, like drying and fermenting, remain common today. Others are bygone practices, such as burying butter in peat bogs. Though low-tech, the ancient ways were effective — clearly, as some of the products have survived millennia.
Bog Butter
© Nordic Food Lab/University of Copenhagen
Bog butter.

Георгиевская ленточка

Victory Day: Remembering the Great Patriotic War

Victory Day
What is Victory Day ?

Every spring, as the weather improves, Russians begin to venture outside to enjoy the warming sun, or perhaps to open up their dachas or to prepare vegetable gardens for planting. There is also the long May holiday to anticipate. This year however is different. Like almost everywhere else in the world, Russia has been hit by the coronavirus. It means people are asked to stay in their flats and not go out except for necessities, like groceries, prescriptions, and the like. It is a time of worry, frustration, aggravation. In short, this year the May holiday is not going to be a holiday at all, at least not as it usually is. The traditional 9 May celebrations, the parade in Red Square and the marches around Russia of the Bessmertnyi polk are postponed. President Putin has indicated that these events will be held as soon as the coronavirus danger has passed. For now, anyway, instead of streets and parks full of people, remembering the brave deeds of veterans and of their own family members, public places will be empty.


Why did Scotland's coastal, seafaring Picts avoid eating fish?

© John Tosca
Monastery workshop
A large-scale isotopic analysis of skeletons from the Scottish Highlands has provided evidence for the first time about the diet of the Picts.

The research reveals that these people avoided eating fish despite their coastal proximity.

This Highland Pictish community had a noticeable lack of fish in their diet, even though the Picts are known to have been seafarers.

Studying ancient skeletons

Dr Shirley Curtis-Summers, Lecturer in Archaeological and Forensic Sciences at the University of Bradford, studied 137 skeletons buried under the old Tarbat Parish Church in Portmahomack, Easter Ross. They span hundreds of years of Highland history, including two periods of Pictish life: from the 6th century when the land was used by a farming community, and subsequently, as a Pictish monastery.

Comment: But why, if this was due to some monastic tradition, do the women also abstain from eating fish? Because presumably they weren't part of the monastery?

See also:


New genomic portrait of pre-Columbian civilisations.

Machu Picchu in Peru
The ancient Andes we all recognise: Machu Picchu in Peru.
An international team has conducted what it says is the first in-depth, wide-scale study of the genomic history of ancient civilisations in the central Andes mountains and coast before European contact.

The findings, published in the journal Cell, reveal early genetic distinctions between groups in nearby regions, population mixing within and beyond the Andes, surprising genetic continuity amid cultural upheaval, and ancestral cosmopolitanism among some of the region's most well-known ancient civilizations.

Led by Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study team was drawn from a number of disciplines and countries, including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Chile, Germany, Peru, the UK and the US.

Together they analysed genome-wide data from 89 individuals who lived between 500 and 9000 years ago. Of these, 64 genomes, ranging from 500 to 4500 years old, were newly sequenced - more than doubling the number of ancient individuals with genome-wide data from South America.

Their analysis included representatives of civilisations in the Andes from whom no genome-wide data had been reported before, including the Moche, Nasca, Wari, Tiwanaku and Inca.

And it represents "a major step toward redressing the global imbalance in ancient DNA data", according to Harvard's David Reich, a professor of genetics.


Macabre death rituals in the Viking Age

© Rogvi N. Johansen/Moesgaard Museum
The skull of a man, 25-40 years, with his face cut off with a sharp weapon. The head was found in a well outside
a pit house from the 9th century in Aarhus, Denmark
New research has put a question mark on the popular stereotype perpetuated in literature and cinema that Vikings were burned in boats or burial mounds together with valuable items on their way to Valhalla, the fabled hall where fallen warriors rest.

According to new research, Vikings kept bits of skulls and even dead infants in their homes, among other things, under doorways and floors, national broadcaster NRK reported.

Archaeologist Marianne Hem Eriksen at the University of Oslo has studied 40 archaeological finds of skull remains around Scandinavia from the Iron Age, found from about 250 BC until about 1050 AD, which corresponds to the end of the Viking Age.

Comment: While the burial rituals aren't entirely clear from the findings, it's notable that at Çatalhöyük, a community that thrived in Turkey 9,000 years ago, burials were also kept close to home:
These dwellings also played an important role in their funerary practices: Residents buried the dead under their homes. At its peak, the town housed as many as 8,000 people, who supported themselves through agriculture and raising livestock.
See also:


Infectious disease modeling study casts doubt on the Justinianic Plague's impact

Justinianic Plague’s Impact
Annapolis, MD — Many have claimed the Justinianic Plague (c. 541-750 CE) killed half of the population of Roman Empire. Now, historical research and mathematical modeling challenge the death rate and severity of this first plague pandemic.

Researchers Lauren White, PhD and Lee Mordechai, PhD, of the University of Maryland's National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, examined the impacts of the Justinianic Plague with mathematical modeling. Using modern plague research as their basis, the two developed novel mathematical models to re-examine primary sources from the time of the Justinianic Plague outbreak. From the modeling, they found that it was unlikely that any transmission route of the plague would have had both the mortality rate and duration described in the primary sources. Their findings appear in a paper titled "Modeling the Justinianic Plague: Comparing hypothesized transmission routes" in PLOS ONE.

"This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a robust mathematical modeling approach has been used to investigate the Justinianic Plague," said lead author Lauren White, PhD, a quantitative disease ecologist and postdoctoral fellow at SESYNC. "Given that there is very little quantitative information in the primary sources for the Justinianic Plague, this was an exciting opportunity to think creatively about how we could combine present-day knowledge of plague's etiology with descriptions from the historical texts."

White and Mordechai focused their efforts on the city of Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire, which had a comparatively well-described outbreak in 542 CE. Some primary sources claim plague killed up to 300,000 people in the city, which had a population of some 500,000 people at the time. Other sources suggest the plague killed half the empire's population. Until recently, many scholars accepted this image of mass death. By comparing bubonic, pneumonic, and combined transmission routes, the authors showed that no single transmission route precisely mimicked the outbreak dynamics described in these primary sources.


Escobar: Deeper roots of Chinese demonization

I. Kant
© Google Images
Immanuel Kant was the first thinker to actually come up with a theory of the yellow race.
Fasten your seat belts: the US hybrid war against China is bound to go on frenetic overdrive, as economic reports are already identifying Covid-19 as the tipping point when the Asian - actually Eurasian - century truly began.

The US strategy remains, essentially, full spectrum dominance, with the National Security Strategy obsessed by the three top "threats" of China, Russia and Iran. China, in contrast, proposes a "community of shared destiny" for mankind, mostly addressing the Global South.

The predominant US narrative in the ongoing information war is now set in stone: Covid-19 was the result of a leak from a Chinese biowarfare lab. China is responsible. China lied. And China has to pay.

The new normal tactic of non-stop China demonization is deployed not only by crude functionaries of the industrial-military-surveillance-media complex. We need to dig much deeper to discover how these attitudes are deeply embedded in Western thinking - and later migrated to the "end of history" United States. (Here are sections of an excellent study, Unfabling the East: The Enlightenment's Encounter with Asia , by Jurgen Osterhammel).


50 years ago today: Kent State massacre cover-up continues

Kent State shootings

Kent State shootings
Abby Martin talks to Mickey Huff, Director of Project Censored, about the Kent State massacre and subsequent cover-up by the federal government.

Comment: An eyewitness account:

A discussion of the recording:

TV coverage at the time:

Enhanced audio home movie of the shooting: