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5,000-year-old cave art discovered in Egypt depicts 'nativity scene'

© Marco Morelli
Ancient cave art in the Egyptian Sahara desert depicts two parents, a baby and a star in the east.
Italian researchers have discovered what might be the oldest nativity scene ever found — 5,000-year-old rock art that depicts a star in the east, a newborn between parents and two animals.

The scene, painted in reddish-brown ochre, was found on the ceiling of a small cavity in the Egyptian Sahara desert, during an expedition to sites between the Nile valley and the Gilf Kebir Plateau.

"It's a very evocative scene which indeed resembles the Christmas nativity. But it predates it by some 3,000 years," geologist Marco Morelli, director of the Museum of Planetary Sciences in Prato, near Florence, Italy, told Seeker.

Morelli found the cave drawing in 2005, but only now his team has decided to reveal the amazing find.

"The discovery has several implications as it raises new questions on the iconography of one of the more powerful Christian symbols," Morelli said.

Boat

Major offshore structures discovered at ancient Corinth harbour

© University of Copenhagen
Conservator Angeliki Zisi carefully cleans and conducts a condition assessment of the bulwark’s wooden posts.
Researchers from the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities (Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports) and the University of Copenhagen are continuing to make important discoveries at Lechaion, the main harbour town of ancient Corinth.

Among them structures that join the Inner and Outer Harbours, and a unique wooden bulwark that made up part of a mole flanking the entrance to the Inner Harbour.

Greek and Danish archaeologists investigating Lechaion's harbour areas are finding that the town appears to have been much more important than previously thought. In the course of three excavation seasons, they have delineated major offshore structures, a monumental entrance canal and several inland canals connecting at least four harbour basins. In total, the area is greater than 500.000 m2 - bringing it on par with other major harbour towns of the age, such as Athens' harbours in the Piraeus and Roman Portus.

"This season topographical and geophysical surveys have made it possible for us to successfully delineate the canal zone between the inner and outer harbours. In the process we discovered that the entrance canal connecting the Inner and Outer Harbours was up to 30 m wide in the 4th and 3rd century BC, then grew narrower in later centuries.

The precise reason why remains to be discovered," says c o-director of the Lechaion Harbour Project Bjørn Lovén.

The team mapped the full extent of the mole flanking the eastern side of the entrance canal as far as 46 meters offshore in 1 - 3 meters of water. Working carefully and methodically for 35 days, divers defined the eastern side of the canal. At the harbour entrance, and interconnected with this mole, they discovered strong stone foundations, perhaps for a tower that would protect the entrance. Nearby were found two column drums. Their precise purpose remains unknown, but such drums found at other excavated Roman harbours supported porticoes on the harbour front. Future explorations promise more discoveries.

"The extremely rare wooden structures we've found in the early stages at Lechaion give us hope that we'll find other organic materials, such as wooden tools, furniture, wooden parts of buildings and shipwrecks - the potential is immense and it is important to stress that we almost never find organic material on land in the central Mediterranean region", says Bjørn Lovén.

Bulb

Russell Gmirkin: Athenian, Ideal Greek Tribes were the model for the Tribes of Israel

The Bible's narratives evidently share much of the cultural heritage of ancient Syria and Mesopotamia but zoom in for a more detailed study and one arguably sees many signs of a distinctively Greek influence. That's the argument of Russell Gmirkin in Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible. Previous posts in this series that include explanations of how Greek sources could have influenced the biblical authors are:
  1. Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible
  2. The Pentateuch's Debt to Greek Laws and Constitutions — A New Look
  3. David, an Ideal Greek Hero — and other Military Matters in Ancient Israel
  4. Some preliminaries before resuming Gmirkin's Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible
Nothing is more essentially "Biblical Israel" than its Twelve Tribes. Genesis is for most part the story of the origins of these twelve tribes. The history of Israel is a history primarily of the tribes of Israel, mostly twelve at first, but then divided into two kingdoms of ten and two. One of the tribes was assigned for the priesthood and therefore not given a territorial allotment, but two of Joseph's sons were each given land areas to maintain the all-important twelve inheritors of the land while the sons of Levi became a thirteenth tribe. Always twelve, though sometimes ten and sometimes thirteen.

So very "biblical", yet so very Greek as known about Athens and various Greek colonies from the writings of Plato and Aristotle housed in the Great Library of Alexandria.

Comment: See SOTT's wide-ranging interview with Gmirkin here: The Truth Perspective: Interview with Russell Gmirkin: What Does Plato Have To Do With the Bible? Or check it out on YouTube:




Archaeology

Historian discovers giant human skeleton in cave of Malaysian coast

© THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Mr Azman Wahab, assistant to historian Mohd Fuad Khusari M Said, at the large grave site in Pulau Upe
A historian claims to have discovered skeletal remains of what is believed to be a larger-than-usual man in a cave in Pulau Upeh, off the coast here.

Mohd Fuad Khusari M. Said, who was appointed by the Malacca go­vernment to search for new historical sites, said he discovered some bones partially exposed above the ground in Pulau Upeh.

He also found two other unusually large graves some 1.2km outside the cave.

The graves measuring about 5m by 0.5m are located about 15m to 20m away from each other.

"I have reported the findings to the authorities because we have no right to excavate the site without permission," he told The Star yesterday.

Comment: See also:


Magnify

New Dead Sea Scrolls fragments found in Judean desert caves

© Alex Levac
A fragment of a Dead Sea scroll, 2010.
New fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been found in the Cave of the Skulls by the Dead Sea in Israel, in a salvage excavation by Israeli authorities. The pieces are small and the writing on them is too faded to make out without advanced analysis. At this stage the archaeologists aren't even sure if they're written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic or another language.

"The most important thing that can come out of these fragments is if we can connect them with other documents that were looted from the Judean Desert, and that have no known provenance," says Dr. Uri Davidovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, among the scientists investigating the caves.

Star of David

Zionist claims to the Western Wall not supported by historical evidence


Western Wall in Jerusalem
Israel Antiquities Authority vs. UN

The head of the Israel Antiquities Authority has recently (Times of Israel Oct. 20) compared UNESCO unflatteringly 'to Islamic State jihadists', for its October 13 resolution calling into question 'the link between Judaism and the Western Wall' (as Haaretz put it): the view that the Wall is a surviving feature of the pre-70 CE Temple Mount.

However the IAA's own view, formed in reaction to new evidence, itself deserves to be questioned.

Old and new replies: Coins, Herod, Agrippa II and Josephus

It is generally agreed that Herod the Great, King of the Jews, began work on the Temple in or near 20 BCE. According to a statement 'Building the Western Wall' published by the IAA through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 23, 2011, 'every guide and every student grounded in history', when asked 'who built the Temple Mount walls?' will 'immediately reply 'Herod". However, there should now, the IAA continues, be a new reply in the light of archaeology. The New Reply runs, 'the work was completed in the reign of Herod's great grandson Agrippa II' - i.e. in or around 62 CE, when the chain of events that would lead to the destruction of the Temple in 70 was just starting.

The IAA firmly invokes Josephus' authority for its favoured date, using - misusing, I think - a passage from his Antiquities Book 20, never hinting that he says other things by which the Old Reply, Herod built the Western Wall, might have been encouraged. This misuse was once favoured, as I'll note later, by Christians arguing against Jews.
© Israel Antiquities Authority

A coin found under the Western Wall in a cistern, and dated to Valerius Gratus, after Herod’s rule.
The reason the Israel Antiquities Authority came up with the New Reply was the discovery in 2011 (described in the same IAA document) in a cistern space under the Wall of four coins, the latest dated to around 17 CE, in the governorship of Valerius Gratus, twenty years after Herod's death. 'This bit of archaeological information illustrates the fact that the construction of the Temple Mount walls... was an enormous project that lasted decades and was not completed during Herod's lifetime,' the IAA concedes.

Info

Hussein's CIA interrogator: If Saddam had remained in power, rise of ISIS 'improbable'

© David Furst / Reuters
Islamic State would not have enjoyed the success it did if Saddam Hussein had remained in power, John Nixon, the former CIA agent who grilled him, claims. Nixon says the West should deal with leaders it "abhors" to have a stable Middle East.

Nixon was the first to debrief Saddam after his capture in December 2003, 13 years ago. His book, entitled Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein, is a first-hand account of what the invasion of Iraq and the execution of Saddam Hussein have entailed.

Eagle

'Operation Condor' documents show how US wanted to rig Ecuador's election to prevent left-wing victory

© teleSUR
Former Ecuadorian President Jaime Roldos (4th from R) was killed in a plane crash in 1981.
While leftist Jaime Roldos Aguilera went on to become Ecuador's president, he was later killed in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances.

Previously classified documents released earlier this week on Operation Condor have shed further light on how the U.S. controlled and meddled in Latin America politics in the 1970s, showing how the U.S. was tossing up the idea of "tinkering" with the outcome of elections in Ecuador as the victory of a left-wing president appeared likely.

The latest release of the Cold War-era documents detailed intelligence from July 24, 1978, where the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency looked into committing fraud in Ecuador's 1979 election after left-wing candidate Jaime Roldos Aguilera won the most votes in 1978 but not enough to avoid a second runoff election scheduled for April 1979.

According to the source, embassy reports showed that Ecuador's navy and president at the time, Alfredo Poveda, who came to power in a military coup, were "determined to have a clean election." Ecuador's military was also "determined to allow Roldos to participate in a runoff election," according to reports from the Embassy and DIA.

Comment: See also: Operation Condor: CIA files reveal US ties with Argentina during 'Dirty War' despite knowledge of human rights abuses


Eye 1

Operation Condor: CIA files reveal US ties with Argentina during 'Dirty War' despite knowledge of human rights abuses

© Larry Downing / Reuters
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in Langley, Virginia, U.S.
Newly declassified files including documents from the CIA and the US Secretary of State reveal details of targets for "liquidation" during Operation Condor in Argentina, and provide insight into US relations with Argentina's former military dictatorship.

Some 500 pages of documents have been released by the US government as part of the Argentina Declassification Project to shed light on human rights abuses in Argentina during the period of the so-called "Dirty War" by military dictatorships from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.

During a visit to Argentina in March, President Obama announced on the 40th anniversary of the military coup that his administration would declassify documents from its military and intelligence services relating to Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship.

More than 4,000 State Department Cables and other documents were released by the US government in 2002, however this is the first time that CIA or FBI documents relating to the matter have been published.

Comment: The precise number of victims from Operation Condor is unknown, as these actions were all illegal and hidden. However, it is estimated that about 50,000 people were murdered or disappeared (among them 3,000 children) and 400,000 people were imprisoned.

See also:
  • Operation 'Condor' revisited: Italian trial attempts justice from abroad
  • Venezuela brands US 'biggest exporter of violence in the world'



Info

Megalithic stone circle in Brazil hints that ancient civilizations were more sophisticated than first thought

© Wikipedia Commons
A megalithic stone circle in Brazil hints that the indigenous people of the Amazon may have been more sophisticated than previously thought.
Calcoene, Brazil — As the foreman for a cattle ranch in the far reaches of the Brazilian Amazon, Lailson Camelo da Silva was razing trees to convert rain forest into pasture when he stumbled across a bizarre arrangement of towering granite blocks.

"I had no idea that I was discovering the Amazon's own Stonehenge," said Mr. da Silva, 65, on a scorching October day as he gazed at the archaeological site located just north of the Equator. "It makes me wonder: What other secrets about our past are still hidden in Brazil's jungles?"

After conducting radiocarbon testing and carrying out measurements during the winter solstice, scholars in the field of archaeoastronomy determined that an indigenous culture arranged the megaliths into an astronomical observatory about 1,000 years ago, or five centuries before the European conquest of the Americas began.

Their findings, along with other archaeological discoveries in Brazil in recent years — including giant land carvings, remains of fortified settlements and even complex road networks — are upending earlier views of archaeologists who argued that the Amazon had been relatively untouched by humans except for small, nomadic tribes.

Instead, some scholars now assert that the world's largest tropical rain forest was far less "Edenic" than previously imagined, and that the Amazon supported a population of as many as 10 million people before the epidemics and large-scale slaughter put into motion by European colonizers.

In what is now the sparsely populated state of Amapá in northern Brazil, the sun stones found by Mr. da Silva near a stream called the Rego Grande are yielding clues about how indigenous peoples in the Amazon may have been far more sophisticated than assumed by archaeologists in the 20th century.

"We're starting to piece together the puzzle of the Amazon Basin's human history, and what we're finding in Amapá is absolutely fascinating," said Mariana Cabral, an archaeologist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, who together with her husband, João Saldanha, also an archaeologist, has studied the Rego Grande site for the last decade.