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Dark Ages and Inquisitions, Ancient and Modern - Or Why Things are Such a Mess On Our Planet and Humanity is on the Verge of Extinction

Psychopaths rule our world
© Sott
This is going to be a long one so get a cup of tea or coffee and settle down. Those of you who like your information in short bytes, this article is not for you!

I've been reading a lot lately. I mean a LOT. Well, so what else is new? Anyway, the range of topics I've been covering are varied; I tend to follow my nose. I often will read one book that suggests another book, and off I go, but lately, it's been very eclectic and seemingly unconnected. Let me give you a sample going back just a couple of weeks: I picked up You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney because I read a snip of it on my husband's kindle reader. I don't do kindle because I underline and make notes, so I bought my own copy. That led to Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change by Timothy D. Wilson which then led to another of his books: Strangers To Ourselves. That then led to Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality by Samuel Barondes. Some books I had ordered some time ago then arrived: Amarna Sunset by Aidan Dodson; Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet by Nicholas Reeves; Akhenaten & Tutankhamun: Revolution & Restoration by Silverman, Wegner and Wegner; Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt by Dominic Montserrat. Then came The Fall of Rome And the End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkins. Next: Dark Ages: The Case For a Science of Human Behavior by Lee McIntyre, followed by The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness by B. Alan Wallace. Here and there I've been reading snatches of Bertrand Russell. (I also read three mysteries by Gladys Mitchell, but that was just fun reading.) And now I'm reading War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage by Lawrence H. Keeley alternating with Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? By Dennis R. MacDonald.

As I said, this all may seem unconnected, even to me, but the strange thing is that all of the above books circle around a particular theme: Science/academia - has really lost the plot, and the thing that was proclaimed to be the answer to all of humanity's problems has turned into the probable means of our destruction. This is no small matter, I can assure you, and deserves some consideration. In the book Dark Ages: The Case For a Science of Human Behavior, we read:
What would it feel like to live in a Dark Age? Would you realize it? Or would you just see the achievements of the day - perhaps even feeling lucky to live in such "modern times" and fail to see all that had not been achieved. Of course, no one living in a Dark Age would call it that; rather this label is placed on a backward era only by a later one, in which the state of human civilization is more advanced. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easier to see what has been missed. But isn't there nonetheless some way to judge one's own era?

Look around you. We live in a time of enormous technological achievement, when we are able to bend nature to our will, and yet we suffer from the same social problems that have plagued the human race for millennia. Despite the enormous progress that we have made in our understanding of nature, who can honestly say that the bulk of the problems that are the cause of human misery today are not of our own creation? And yet what have we done about them?

The comparison between our success in understanding nature and our failure to understand ourselves is vast. We have satellites and fax machines that transmit stories of barbarous cruelty that could have been told by our ancestors. We have ever more sophisticated weaponry of war and yet no true understanding of what causes war in the first place. ...We are as ignorant of the cause-and-effect relations behind our own behavior as those who lived in the eighth or ninth centuries ... [we're ignorant of the causes] behind disease, famine, eclipses, and natural disasters. We live today in what will someday come to be thought of as the Dark Ages of human thought about social problems. (McIntyre, MIT, 2006)

Comment: See also: The Inquisition


Southeast Asia: Study Shows Humans Were Skilled Fishermen 42,000 Years Ago

© Reuters
Fish hooks and fishbones dating back 42,000 years found in a cave in East Timor suggest that humans were capable of skilled, deep-sea fishing 30,000 years earlier than previously thought, researchers in Australia and Japan said on Friday.

The artefacts -- nearly 39,000 fishbones and three fish hooks -- were found in a limestone cave in Jerimalai in East Timor, 50 metres (165 feet) above sea level, said Sue O'Connor from the Australian National University's department of archaeology and natural history.

"There was never any hint of (what) maritime technology people might have had in terms of fishing gear 40,000 years ago," O'Connor, the study's lead author, told Reuters by telephone from Canberra.

"(This study showed) you got ability to make hooks, you are using lines on those hooks. If you can make fibre lines, you can make nets, you are probably using those fibres on your boats."


Almost 3,000-year-old Tomb of Female Singer Found in Egypt

Woman Tomb
© AFP/Supreme Council of Antiquities
A handout picture released by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities shows the grave.

Cairo - Swiss archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a female singer dating back almost 3,000 years in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said on Sunday.

The rare find was made accidentally by a team from Switzerland's Basel University headed by Elena Pauline-Grothe and Susanne Bickel in Karnak, near Luxor in Upper Egypt, the minister told the media in Cairo.

The woman, Nehmes Bastet, was a singer for the supreme deity Amon Ra during the Twenty-Second Dynasty (945-712 BC), according to an inscription on a wooden plaque found in the tomb.

She was the daughter of the High Priest of Amon, Ibrahim said.

The discovery is important because "it shows that the Valley of the Kings was also used for the burial of ordinary individuals and priests of the Twenty-Second Dynasty," he added.

Until now the only tombs found in the historic valley were those linked to ancient Egyptian royal families.


Rare Ancient Artefact Found in Malta

An example of cuneiform
© n/a
An example of cuneiform from Mesopotamia.
The discovery of a very small fragment of agate stone is causing excitement, as it has a 13th Century BCE cuneiform inscription. Not so surprising, you might think, for an artefact found in Mesopotamia, as the inscription shows that it was part of an object dedicated to the Mesopotamian moon god Sin. But this fragment was found in Malta!

An excavation is being conducted at the site of a megalithic temple, from the late Neolithic Age, in an area on Malta known as Tas-Silg, which is an ancient sanctuary site. The excavation team is lead by palaeontology professor Alberto Casella from the University of Rome (Italy). The main question is how such an article could have found its way so far west and to such a remote location.

One theory is that it may have been looted in a military campaign and then been passed through the hands of merchants and traders. Another theory centres around the high value which would have been placed on the object, which may suggest that the Tas-Silg sanctuary site may have had more significance than previously thought.


Arabia: Stories of yore 
on view

Old Arabian peninsula artifacts

Evidence of an ancient culture in the Arabian Peninsula that dates back to over 120,000 years of human migration has found its way from Sharjah's 18 archaeological excavation sites to the emirate's Archaeology Museum. The collections in this museum cover the history of Sharjah since 7000 years ago till the advent of Islam in the 7th century AD. All artifacts uncovered in the emirate by different archaeological missions or by locals demonstrate its glorious past.

Several unique artifacts rewrite world history. Among them is the remains of the head of a stone axe, discovered in Al Faya Mountain in Sharjah dating back to more than 120,000 years. This artifact has changed scientists' understanding of the modern history of human migration from Africa to the world through the Arabian Peninsula.

Ivory combs, discovered in Tell Abraq's site in Sharjah dating back to more than 4000 years come next. The combs, which are decorated with circles, were buried with their owners to indicate their value to them. It is believed that this ivory belongs to the Indian Subcontinent, which indicates the marine activity of the people of Sharjah in the ancient times. A 3000-year-old saddled camel figurine made of burnt clay was found in Muweilah's site. It is considered an evidence of the domestication of the camel in the Iron Age.

A Greek Imvora jar and a collection of Greek jar handles were found in Malieha (50km east of Sharjah city). Finding this jar indicates the relations people from Malieha had with some Greek cities and islands in the Mediterranean Sea upon the prosperity of Malieha colony in the period between 250 BC and 300 AD.


Scientists Find Evidence Of Pre-Historic 'Lost World' Beneath Lake Huron

Lost World
© redOrbit

Communities of anthropologists throughout the world are buzzing with excitement as researchers in U.S. and Canada have reported finding an unusual wooden pole at the bottom of Lake Huron, leading to speculation that they may have stumbled upon artifacts from a "lost world" of previously unknown ancient North American caribou hunters.

Experts believe that this prehistoric nomadic people may have had a "kill site" in the U.S.-Canada border region some 10,000 years ago, making them some of the earliest human inhabitants of the North America.

Now submerged beneath over a hundred feet of water, researchers believe that the 100-mile long Alpena-Amberley Ridge was deluged by glacial melt at the end of the last Ice Age in what is now Lake Huron. Scientists first began theorizing that the site may have been a prehistoric hunting ground after researchers discovered a system of man-made rock features that appear to have been used to herd together migrating caribou into narrow channels, thus making them easy prey for the spear-hunting natives to take down.

A number of extant Inuit hunters in Northern Canada still use these so-called "drive lanes" to bottle-neck and hunt migrating herds of caribou. Additional clusters of boulders were also found alongside the narrow rock channels. Experts suspect that these may have been used to conceal the hunters from passing caribou.


Ancient Image of Thracian Horseman Found at Bulgaria's Perperikon

© Tsvetelina Nikolaeva
Archaeologists in Bulgaria announced on January 12 2012 that they had found a unique ceramic relief of a Thracian Horseman - a key figure in cult worship - estimated to date from the fourth century BCE, at the country's Perperikon site.

Perperikon, an ancient site of worship that has hosted more than one forms of faith over the centuries, regularly has yielded astonishing archaeological finds.

Bulgarian National Television reported that the image of the Thracian horseman was found 300 metres from a small hill, known as Besik Tepe, at Perperikon.

Treasure hunters had dug in the hill but they had missed the Rider, which the report described as "unique and without equivalent in Thracian art", representing one of the earliest images of the Horseman cult in what is today Bulgaria.


Found: First Solid Evidence of Ancient Mayans' Tobacco Use

Ancient Pot
© Jennifer Loughmiller-Newman
Archeologists found traces of nicotine in the ancient Mayan container, suggesting that it once held tobacco leaves.

Traces of nicotine discovered in a Mayan flask dating back more than 1,000 years represent the first physical evidence of tobacco use by the Mayans, researchers say.

The flask was decorated with text that seemed to read "Yo-'OTOT-ti 'u-MAY," which translates to "the home of his tobacco" (or "her tobacco" or "its tobacco"), the archaeologists said, but that by itself wasn't enough to convince them.

"Textual evidence written on pottery is often an indicator of contents or of an intended purpose - however, actual usage of a container could be altered or falsely represented," said study researcher Jennifer Loughmiller-Newman of the University at Albany.

Their analysis of the samples extracted from the flask identified nicotine, the signature alkaloid in tobacco, as a major component. That indicated the vessel was likely used to hold tobacco leaves, the researchers wrote in the study.


The Curious Case of Clever Hans

Clever Hans
© Wiki Commons/Public Domain

You may think your dog or cat is smart and amazing, but it's got nothing on a horse that drew huge crowds in Germany and throughout Europe over a century ago.

The horse, named Clever Hans, was known around the world for his inexplicable abilities. William Von Osten put his amazing horse on display in 1891, and together he and Hans treated crowds to sights never before seen.

Not only could Hans count -- something no other animals were said to do -- but he could also tell time, read, and spell (in German, of course).

Since the horse couldn't speak (that would have been a remarkable feat indeed), he communicated mainly by stamping one foot on the ground. If Hans was asked what five and two added up to, he would tap seven times; if he was asked what day came after Monday, he would be told to tap once for Tuesday, twice for Wednesday, and so on.

Clever Hans was examined by a group of researchers led by a philosophy professor named Carl Stumpf. What was the secret -- if indeed there was one? Was it all a hoax or trick? Or was this a truly unique horse, a pillar of equine intellect that could rival any schoolchild -- or at least an elected official?

In 1904 the group issued a statement saying that they could find no evidence of trickery. However Prof. Stumpf and one of his students, Oskar Pfungst, would finally solve the mystery. They noticed that Hans could rarely answer questions that Von Osten did not know the answer to, suggesting that that there must be some link between the two.


Animals Mummified by the Millions in Ancient Egypt

Mummified cat
© Courtesy of National Museum of Natural History
Head of mummified cat.

Millions of animals were‭ ‬ritually slaughtered in ancient Egypt to foster a huge mummification industry that even drove some species extinct.‭ ‬

As an exhibition‭ ‬at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. shows,‭ ‬almost no animals escaped the carnage.

‭Although ‬pets died of natural causes before their mummification,‭ and sacred beasts were pampered by adoring priests, most‬ animals in ancient Egypt had miserable, short lives. ‭

Many ‬were simply bred to become votive mummies -- offered to the gods in the same way that people light up candles in churches today.

"Various gods had different animal totems or avatars.‭ ‬Priests who maintained temples for these different gods offered a service whereby people could have an associated animal mummified and placed in a catacomb in their name," exhibition curator Melinda Zeder, director of the archeobiology program at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, told Discovery News.

Began as early as‭ ‬3,000 BC, the practice reached its zenith from about‭ ‬650‭ ‬BC to‭ ‬200‭ ‬AD. ‭

"‬Literally millions of animals like dogs and cats were raised by temple priests and mummified.‭ ‬This practice extended to wild animals like the sacred and glossy ibis and the baboon‭ ‬--‭ ‬and may have contributed to the extinction of these animals in Egypt," Zeder said.

The sacred ibis and baboons were mummified in the millions because they were sacred to Thoth,‭ ‬the god of wisdom and writing. Raptors were ‭ ‬associated with Horus, the falcon god, while cats were sacrificed to the protective goddess Bastet.