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Wed, 12 May 2021
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Secret History


Petrified tree up to 20M-years-old found intact in Lesbos

petrified tree
© N. Zouros
Petrified tree • Natural History Museum of the Lesbos Petrified Forest, Greece
Lesbos' Petrified Forest was formed when a volcano exploded in the island's north, covering the entire area with ash and lava. The area, which spans 15,000 hectares, is renowned for its vivid and colorful fossilized tree trunks. Experts have made an "extraordinary" discovery of a tree which is still intact after being petrified by a volcanic eruption 20 million years ago in Greece.

The huge tree measured 19.6 meters (21.4 yards) -- complete with branches and a root system --was discovered during in an excavation along the Kalloni-Sigri highway.

Nickolas Zouros, a professor of geology at the University of the Aegean, had been excavating the fossilized forest ecosystem but told CNN he had never uncovered such a find. Experts have found numerous examples of vegetation including conifers, fruit trees and oaks. Zouros added:
"We have a lot of findings over these years but the latest ones are the most important -- really extraordinary. This is not something very often found in excavations. We usually find logs without branches and roots. It's the only one found in the excavation found with the branches, the root system, and was found on a layer full of leaves -- we have all the organs of the tree in the regional system. This is unique, until now -- we have been excavating for 25 years and have never found such a tree."
Conifers, fruit producing trees, sequoia trees, pine, palm, cinnamon and oak trees are among the specimens uncovered in the petrified forest.


How Britain stole $45T from India and lied about it

Lord Louis Mountbatten, wife
© AP
Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, and his wife, Lady Edwina Mountbatten, ride in the state carriage towards the Viceregal lodge in New Delhi, on March 22, 1947.
There is a story that is commonly told in Britain that the colonisation of India - as horrible as it may have been - was not of any major economic benefit to Britain itself. If anything, the administration of India was a cost to Britain. So the fact that the empire was sustained for so long - the story goes - was a gesture of Britain's benevolence.

New research by the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik - published by Columbia University Press - deals a crushing blow to this narrative. Drawing on nearly two centuries of detailed data on tax and trade, Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938.

It's a staggering sum. For perspective, $45 trillion is 17 times more than the total annual gross domestic product of the United Kingdom today.

How did this come about?

It happened through the trade system. Prior to the colonial period, Britain bought goods like textiles and rice from Indian producers and paid for them in the normal way - mostly with silver - as they did with any other country. But something changed in 1765, shortly after the East India Company took control of the subcontinent and established a monopoly over Indian trade.


Ancient Egyptian art reveals extinct goose

Ancient Geese
© C.K. Wilkinson.
‘Meidum Geese’, Chapel of Itet, mastaba of Nefermaat and Itet (Dynasty 4), Meidum, Egypt.
As a University of Queensland researcher examined a 4600-year-old Egyptian painting last year, a speckled goose caught his eye.

UQ scientist Dr Anthony Romilio said the strange but beautiful bird was quite unlike modern red-breasted geese (Branta ruficollis), with distinct, bold colours and patterns on its body, face, breast, wings and legs.

"The painting,Meidum Geese, has been admired since its discovery in the 1800s and described as 'Egypt's Mona Lisa'," he said.

"Apparently no-one realised it depicted an unknown species.

"Artistic licence could account for the differences with modern geese, but artworks from this site have extremely realistic depictions of other birds and mammals."

Dr Romilio said no bones from modern red-breasted geese (Branta ruficollis) had been found on any Egyptian archaeological site.

"Curiously, bones of a similar but not identical bird have been found on Crete," he said.

"From a zoological perspective, the Egyptian artwork is the only documentation of this distinctively patterned goose, which appears now to be globally extinct."


Culture of bovine farming revealed in bronze age Maltese pottery


The bronze age site at Baħrija.
Our prehistoric ancestors were probably fond of porridge, had a way to make cheese and were already using a system to store crops after the harvest, a new study of archaeological remains from the Maltese bronze age has revealed.

The study examined residue found inside pottery remains recovered from a prehistoric site at Il-Qlejgħa tal-Baħrija, revealing some of the dietary habits of the Maltese who lived between 2500 and 700BC.

Pottery shards found at the ancient settlement were analysed for fragments of organic residue and protein. This enabled the researchers to identify some of the ingredients that formed part of the Maltese bronze age diet.

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Dissecting the Vegetarian Myth - Interview with Lierre Keith


Kangaroo painting is now Australia's oldest known rock art

17300 year old painting
© Damien Finch / Pauline Heaney
A montage of 39 photographs of the 17,300 year old kangaroo with an accompanying illustration.
An image of a kangaroo has been identified as Australia's oldest known rock painting, dated to over 17,000 years old.

The two-metre-long kangaroo is painted on the ceiling of a rock shelter on the Unghango clan estate, in Balanggarra country in the north-eastern Kimberley region, WA.

A research team led by Damien Finch from the University of Melbourne used radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of mud-wasp nests below and above the painting.

"In these old paintings, the ochre pigment used is an iron oxide," says Finch. "It cannot be dated with any of the current scientific dating techniques. The alternative is to date any suitable material found directly under or on top of the painting. In our work we date mud-wasp nests that are commonly found in rock shelters in northern Australia."

The team found nests below the painting were 17,500 years old, while nests above it were 17,100 years old. This means the painting is in between these two date ranges, "most likely 17,300 years old", according to Finch.

There is older evidence of rock painting in Australia, but not "in-situ" - that is, still on a cave or rock wall. "Two very old fragments of rock with ochre or charcoal lines have been discovered in archaeological excavations in northern Australia," says Finch.


Brutal murder of warrior Pharaoh reconstructed using CT scans

© Dr. Sahar Saleem
Sahar Saleem places the mummy of pharaoh Seqenenre into a CT scanner.
Since the mummy of pharaoh Seqenenre Taa II, who ruled over southern Egypt in the 16th century BCE, was found in the 1880s, researchers have debated the circumstances of his obvious murder. Visible to the naked eye, the king's crushed facial bones, punctured skull, and contorted hands tell a grisly but incomplete story. Was he the victim of a palace conspiracy? Did he die as a prisoner of enemy invaders?

Now, a forensic investigation has combined CT scans used to reconstruct in three dimensions the king's bones and soft tissues with an analysis of archaeological artifacts and historical accounts to sort through theories surrounding the king's death and provide a more detailed understanding of his final moments.

Comment: See also:

Treasure Chest

Trove of 650 coins bearing likenesses of Caesar, Mark Antony unearthed in Turkey

roman coin trove turkey
© Courtesy of Pamukkale University
Archaeologists uncovered the coins in 2019 but only examined them recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Archaeologists in the ancient Turkish city of Aizanoi have discovered a cache of 651 Roman coins in a vessel buried near a stream, reports Muharrem Cin for the state-run Anadolu Agency.

"The jug was aimed to be kept [in place] by three terracotta plates covering it," lead archaeologist Elif Özer of Pamukkale University tells the Hurriyet Daily News, adding that that the coins were likely buried during Emperor Augustus' reign (27 B.C. — 14 A.D.).

Per a statement, the scholars concluded that 439 of the coins were denarii, a type of silver coin first introduced in the third century B.C., while 212 were cistophori, or silver coins from Pergamum, an ancient Greek city in what is now Turkey. Though the researchers discovered the coins in 2019, they weren't able to examine them until recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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MindMatters: Mr. Jones and the 'Holodomor' Red Pill - What Happened During Stalin's Famine?

mr jones
Based on true events, Agnieszka Holland's 2019 film Mr. Jones tells the story of an English government functionary who, hot off the heels of interviewing Hitler in the early 1930's, tasked himself with going to Soviet Russia to interview Stalin. The story's protagonist, Gareth Jones, seeks to inform Stalin of Hitler's plans for European domination and plant the seeds of an alliance between England and the Soviet Union that could offset the Nazi party's plans. In the process, Jones learns that the Communist nation's rapid development is due in large part to the amount of grain it is extracting from the Ukraine. The scandal drives Jones on an odyssey and discovery of truth and horror as he learns of what later became known as the 'Holodomor famine'.

In this week's MindMatters show, we delve into the surrounding context and facts about Holodomor - and how despite his own shady background, Mr. Jones got the story right, unlike his shameless colleague at the New York Times, Walter Duranty. But like much of how history is presented in art, and elsewhere, the omission of crucial information also threatens to turn a story on its head and make it perfect fodder for contemporary propaganda - even decades after the fact. With that in mind we also discuss the implications of mass collectivization, the realities of a Communist political system, and how the film speaks, perhaps unwittingly, to many detrimental developments that we are now witnessing on the world stage. Historical events are often quite complicated, but with a nuanced examination of how history is told, and the real lessons that may be derived from it, we may better see where we are, and where we're going.

Running Time: 01:24:52

Download: MP3 — 77.7 MB

Red Flag

Reviewing "Repressive Tolerance" and other works by Herbert Marcuse, the quack who became America's most influential thinker

In my early twenties, I read an expedition was being planned in search of the grave of Genghis Khan. Being young, game, and interested in writing on an adventure, I inquired about tagging along.

I found a professor at Harvard connected with the mission, whom I quizzed about its likelihood of success. The man laughed and eventually revealed the team had little idea where Khan was buried. Some colleagues merely dug up a few stories of Khan's death that would be enough to take in a sponsor.

I was blown away. How, I asked, could the archaeologists justify that?

"Son," he laughed. "They're intellectuals. They can justify anything."

People complain about QAnon, but truly lasting, impactful lunacy is always exclusive to intellectuals. Everyone else is constrained. You can't fish on land for long. Same with using a chainsaw for headache relief. An intellectual may freely mistake bullshit for Lincoln logs and spend a lifetime building palaces. Which brings us to Herbert Marcuse.

Often called the "Father of the New Left," and the inspiration for a generation of furious thought-policing nitwits of the Robin DiAngelo school, Marcuse was a great intellectual. Most Americans have never heard of him — he died in 1979 — but his ideas today are ubiquitous as Edison's lightbulbs. He gave us everything from "Silence Equals Violence" to "Too Much Democracy" to the "Crisis of Misinformation" to In Defense of Looting to the 1619 Project and Antiracist Baby, and from the grave has cheered countless recent news stories, from the firing of Mandalorian actress Gina Corano to the erasure of raw footage of the Capitol riot from YouTube to...

Comment: Taibbi's article is paywalled. For James Lindsay's read-through and analysis of "Repressive Tolerance", see these:

Magic Wand

Whitewashing Britain's largest intelligence agency: GCHQ

GCHQ antennae
Electronic intelligence-gathering antennae used by GCHQ in Yorkshire, Britain
The new 'authorised history' of GCHQ, Britain's largest intelligence agency, ignores or simply dismisses its most controversial activities as supposed scandals, giving a thoroughly one-sided account of the spy agency.

First, it was the Security Service, MI5; then the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6; now GCHQ has approved an authorised history.

GCHQ was the most secretive of Britain's security and intelligence agencies. Its eye-catching modern headquarters, widely referred to as "the doughnut", is now the best-known building in Cheltenham, a spa town in southwest England.

GCHQ has more than 7,000 staff - many of them computer wizards, mathematicians and linguists - excluding Royal Air Force, Navy and Army signals experts working with the agency. It takes up the lion's share of Britain's £3-billion plus secret intelligence budget.

The initials GCHQ, which not so long ago could only be whispered, are prominently displayed on local bus routes. GCHQ's books of puzzles are popular Christmas gifts.

"Behind the Enigma" is the clever but misleading title of the spy agency's authorised history. Over more than 600 pages, its author, Canadian historian John Ferris, ignores or simply dismisses GCHQ's most controversial activities - notably, the bulk interception of private communications without proper safeguards - as "scandals". It is a description he uses to suggest that concerns about what GCHQ has been up to are exaggerated.