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Wed, 25 Apr 2018
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Professor John Erickson: 'Edinburgh Conversations' with Russians

Professor John Erickson
© Unknown
As Edinburgh University today hosts the annual Erickson Lecture, it is a good moment to reflect on the remarkable contribution of Professor John Erickson (1929-2002) to easing tensions between Russia and the West during the original Cold War.[1]

Erickson was the initiator of a nine-year series of meetings through the 1980s that came to be known as the Edinburgh Conversations. With the wholehearted support of the University's principal, Erickson created a 'back channel', away from politicking and press, which allowed Western and Soviet admirals and generals to engage face-to-face for open and mutually respectful dialogue in a neutral setting. According to parliamentarian Tam Dalyell, this initiative 'singlehandedly kept open contact with the Soviet high command and the Soviet military when times were at their most edgy.' Erickson himself ensured that the meetings - typically lasting about three days - were conducted strictly under 'academic rules'. (In Erickson's view, 'good scholarship is good morality.') This allowed them to proceed in good spirit, despite the tensions of the time. The series of Conversations continued for nine years, with the venue for annual meetings alternating between Edinburgh and Moscow.

Archaeology

Built to last! The roads of Ancient Rome

Roman Empire

The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117–138), showing the network of main Roman roads.
The Romans were renowned as great engineers and this is evident in the many structures that they left behind. One particular type of construction that the Romans were famous for is their roads. It was these roads, which the Romans called viae, that enabled them to build and maintain their empire. How did they create this infrastructure that has withstood the passing of time better than most its modern counterparts?

Roads of All Kinds

It has been calculated that the network of Roman roads covered a distance of over 400,000 km (248,548.47 miles), with more than 120,000 km (74,564.54 miles) of this being of the type known as 'public roads'. Spreading across the Romans' vast empire from Great Britain in the north to Morocco in the south, and from Portugal in the west to Iraq in the East, they allowed people and goods to travel quickly from one part of the empire to another.

Comment: Ancient Rome was unparalleled in its time, not only because of military might and bloody conquests, but also because of its technological ingenuity which allowed the former empire to expand beyond the scope of previous ones that came before it. For more on some of the history of Rome, see also:


Info

Powerful men have left a genetic mark on humanity

Genghis Khan
© Nautilus
In humans, the profound biological differences that exist between the sexes mean that a single male is physically capable of having far more children than is a single female. Women carry unborn children for nine months and often nurse them for several years prior to having additional children.1 Men, meanwhile, are able to procreate while investing far less time in the bearing and early rearing of each child. So it is that, as measured by the contribution to the next generation, powerful men have the potential to have a far greater impact than powerful women, and we can see this in genetic data.

The great variability among males in the number of offspring produced means that by searching for genomic signatures of past variability in the number of children men have had, we can obtain genetic insights into the degree of social inequality in society as a whole, and not just between males and females. An extraordinary example of this is provided by the inequality in the number of male offspring that seems to have characterized the empire established by Genghis Khan, who ruled lands stretching from China to the Caspian Sea. After his death in 1227, his successors, including several of his sons and grandsons, extended the Mongol Empire even farther-to Korea in the east, to central Europe in the west, and to Tibet in the south. The Mongols maintained rested horses at strategically spaced posts, allowing rapid communication across their more than 8,000-kilometer span of territory. The united Mongol Empire was short-lived-for example, the Yüan dynasty they established in China fell in 1368-but their rise to power nevertheless allowed them to leave an extraordinary genetic impact on Eurasia.2

A 2003 study led by Chris Tyler-Smith showed how a relatively small number of powerful males living during the Mongol period succeeded in having an outsize impact on the billions of people living in East Eurasia today.3 His study of Y chromosomes suggested that one single male who lived around the time of the Mongols left many tens of millions of direct male-line descendants across the territory that Mongols occupied. The evidence is that about 8 percent of the male population in the lands the Mongol Empire once occupied share a characteristic Y-chromosome sequence and a cluster of similar sequences differing by just a few mutations. Tyler-Smith and his colleagues called this a "Star Cluster" to reflect the idea of a single ancestor with many descendants, and estimated the date of the founder of this lineage to be 1,300 to 700 years ago based on the estimated rate of accumulation of mutations on the Y chromosome. The date coincides with that of Genghis Khan, suggesting that this single successful Y chromosome may have been his.

Heart - Black

Russophobia, the Jewish Lobby and the Armenian holocaust

"As a result of the Jewish lobby's recommendations, the Young Turks government removed Armenians from Anatolia in 1915. Hence, the economy of the country was left in the hands of Jewish capital." - Ekrem Buğra Ekinci of The Daily Sabah Turkish newspaper, October 13th 2017.
Armenian genocide 1915
© Mary Evans Picture Library

Comment: Must-see docu:

100 years later: The Armenian genocide of 1915






Arrow Down

Destruction of Yugoslavia: The template for America's future policy

SceneYugoslavia
© unknown
The prospects of a Hillary Clinton presidency bring back the memories of the peoples of the Balkans the era of the 1990s, when Bill Clinton, NATO, and the forces of globalism brought about the collapse of Yugoslavia and a surge in nationalism in the Balkans not seen since World War II.

The planned US destruction of Yugoslavia is spelled out in an October 31, 1988, US National Intelligence Council memorandum titled "'Sense of Community' Report on Yugoslavia". Written by Marten van Heuven, the National Intelligence Officer for Europe, the formerly classified Secret memo conveyed the opinion of the US Intelligence Community that it was doubtful that Yugoslavia would survive from its form in 1988. Van Heuven was a product of the RAND Corporation, the Pentagon think tank that developed countless scenarios for nuclear war, including thermonuclear mega-deaths on a global scale.

As the Cold War began to conclude, van Heuven and his American supremacy colleagues, including the later US 'viceroy' for Iraq, Paul 'Jerry' Bremer, and various US military commanders within NATO, began to sharpen their knives for the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.

Rather than blame outside influences for the pressure on the Yugoslav federal system, van Heuven began the meme that would later justify NATO's and America's intervention in Yugoslavian civil wars. For van Heuven, it was Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic who was squarely responsible for the fracture of Yugoslavia's federal system. This lie would persist until Milosevic's suspicious death in 2006 while he was on trial before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Info

13,000-year-old human footprints found off Canada's Pacific coast

Ancient Footprint
© Duncan McLaren CC-BY
Photograph of track #17 beside digitally-enhanced image of same feature using the DStretch plugin for ImageJ. Note the toe impressions and arch indicating that this is a right footprint.
As we turn our attention to the stars to search for life on other planets, it's easy to forget that the history of life on our Earth is still being unraveled. Anthropologists only recently discovered more evidence of humans interbreeding with a mysterious sister species to the Neanderthals, and now they've found the oldest human footprints in North America, which may revise estimates of when human crossed over from Asia.

The footprints were found buried in the sand of a beach on Calvert Island, a remote Canadian area accessible only by boat. The first footprint was found in 2014, but over the course of two years, a team from the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria in British Columbia discovered 29 in all, including the footprints of two adults and a child.

The prints were carbon-dated to be between 11,000 and 14,000 years old, placing them around the end of the last ice age, when sea levels were about six to 10 feet lower than they are now.

Archaeology

Prehistoric human footprints unearthed on Canada shoreline - supports Asia to America theory

Calvert Island footprints
© Grant Callegari/Hakai Institute
'We were searching for archaeological sites along this lower shoreline when we came across the footprints.'
Duncan McLaren (centre) and Daryl Fedje (left) on Calvert Island.
Whether it was a family day out at the beach, complete with prehistoric equivalent of a bucket and spade, we'll never know, but one thing is for sure: about 13,000 years ago a little band of humans were pottering about on a shore in western Canada.

Researchers have unearthed 29 footprints in a layer of sediment on the shoreline of Calvert Island in British Columbia. Between 11,000 and 14,000 years ago, as the world was coming towards the end of the last ice age, the sea level there was 2m to 3m lower than today.

While it is not clear quite how many humans were responsible for the tracks, the team said there are at least three different sizes of footprints, including one set that appeared to belong to a child.

Comment: It's becoming clear that we still have much to learn about humanity's great journey:


Archaeology

3mn yo giant land sloth discovered after landslide on Argentinian beach

fossil giant sloth argentina
© Ruptly
The remains of a giant sloth, believed to be more than three million years old, has been uncovered on an Argentinian beach.

The discovery was made by a couple, Marianela Amaya and Marcelo Lima, who were strolling along Serena beach in Mar del Plata on Argentina's Atlantic coast, Sunday. "We came to the beach, we were walking, Marcelo always climbs a little the sand dunes to see if he can find something, and he was the one who found it," Amaya told Ruptly.

Info

Pre-Columbian settlements suggests current ideas about South American indigenous history are wrong

Pre-Columbian settlement
© José Iriarte
Aerial photo, showing a 140 metre diameter hilltop circular enclosure, strong evidence of Pre-Columbian settlement.

Researchers have discovered an 1800 kilometre stretch of Pre-Columbian settlements in the Amazon, potentially rewriting both the history of the region and the conservation strategies for the largest wilderness on Earth.


The discovery, reported in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that areas of Amazonia previously thought to be free of human influence (at least prior to Spanish colonisation) were in fact densely populated. The role of human activity in shaping the environment must therefore be re-evaluated.

To make the finding, a team led by Jonas Gregorio de Souza of the University of Exeter, UK, used a combination of remote sensing, excavation and survey data to examine landscapes in the Upper Tapajós Basin - an area of about 492,000 square kilometres in Brazil that accounts for around 7% of the Amazon basin.

Much of the area comprises interfluvial forests - that is, vegetation growing on ridges and plateaus situated between narrow valleys. This type of landform has been largely ignored by archaeologists, de Souza and colleagues explain, because of "traditional views that Pre-Columbian people concentrated on resource-rich floodplains".

Areas such as the Upper Tapajós Basin, therefore, were thought to be marginal.

Family

Ancient relics reveal humans in Britain survived intense climate change 11,000 years ago

Star Carr excavation

Star Carr excavation in Yorkshire, England
The first humans to reclaim Britain at the end of the last Ice Age encountered volatile and abrupt climate change as the great winter faded - but in the face of extreme instability, they showed an amazing resilience, new research reveals.

New investigations of the mysterious prehistoric people who once inhabited the Mesolithic site of Star Carr in England's north show humans lived through dramatic environmental shifts 11,000 years ago - but with such unflinching determination, there's almost no evidence climate change disrupted them.

"It has been argued that abrupt climatic events may have caused a crash in Mesolithic populations in Northern Britain," says quaternary scientist Simon Blockley from Royal Holloway, University of London.

"But our study reveals, that at least in the case of the pioneering colonisers at Star Carr, early communities were able to cope with extreme and persistent climate events."