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Books

Code in 14th Century medieval almanac finally deciphered, reveals lunar calendar use & unusual zodiac

medieval almanac

For centuries a medieval almanac has baffled historians with its confusing array of liturgical and astronomical calendars
For centuries a medieval almanac has baffled historians with its confusing array of liturgical and astronomical calendars, depictions of monthly activities and figures of the zodiac.

It also details a strange-looking code, with Os, Cs and dots.

But three centuries later, a team of archivists have finally understood this 14th-century manuscript's history.

The manuscript, designated MS/45, was donated by Robert Moray FRS to the Royal Society in 1668. He dubbed the artefact a 'curious Almanack'.

Comment: It is curious that the zodiac above associates signs with different months than we do today.

See also:


Stop

Is the reason some wealthy people oppose democracy deeper than we think?

Wealth Magnet
© Udo J. Keppler/Library of Congress
The Magnet, from Puck, 1911
Why are America's plutocrats funding efforts to weaken our democracy and replace it with plutocracy and oligarchy? Is it just about money? Or is there something much deeper that most Americans rarely even consider?

An extraordinary investigative report from documented.net tells how morbidly rich families, their companies, and their personal foundations are funding efforts to limit or restrict democracy across the United States.

In an article co-published with The Guardian, they noted:
"The advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, the powerful conservative think tank based in Washington, spent more than $5m on lobbying in 2021 as it worked to block federal voting rights legislation and advance an ambitious plan to spread its far-right agenda calling for aggressive voter suppression measures in battleground states."
Their efforts have had substantial success, as you can read in Documented's article.

This effort, of course, is not unique to the one think tank they called out. From Donald Trump all the way down to the lowest Republican county official, efforts to make it harder for what John Adams called "the rabble" to vote and otherwise participate in democracy are in full swing across America.

But why? Why are some wealthy people so opposed to expanding democracy in America?

Footprints

Never forget the Soviet heroes who liberated Auschwitz

prisoners
© Sputnik
Jewish prisoners in transit camp
The SS guards abandoned the guard posts surrounding Auschwitz during the night of 20-21 January 1945.

At its height, in the summer of 1944, the Auschwitz complex, which comprised three basic camps — the main camp, Birkenau and Monowitz — and another 40 sub-camps, housed over 105,000 registered prisoners, mostly Jews, and around 30,000 unregistered Jewish inmates of so-called transit camps.

By January 20, 1945, there were approximately 9,000 prisoners remaining. In the days that followed the evacuation, SS guards would patrol the camps, shooting 400 prisoners to death, and burning another 300 alive in their barracks. On January 25, the SS gathered approximately 150 prisoners from Birkenau and marched them out of the camp. The next day the SS blew up some warehouses and abandoned the facility altogether.

Most of the surviving prisoners were starving, sick, and on the verge of death. The camp medical staff, assisted by the healthier prisoners, did their best to care for the bedridden patients. The camp was besieged by a howling winter storm, with temperatures well below zero and snow drifting around the camp. The survivors were afraid to move around too much — regular German troops, falling back in the face of an advancing Soviet Army, made their way through the camp, pillaging as they went, and everyone feared the return of the SS.

Archaeology

Archaeologist hails possibly 'oldest' mummy yet found in Egypt

Saqqara necropolis oldest mummy
© Reuters
People work at the site after the announcement of the discovery of 4,300-year-old sealed tombs in Egypt's Saqqara necropolis, in Giza, Egypt, January 26, 2023
Egyptologists have uncovered a Pharaonic tomb near the capital Cairo containing what may be the oldest and "most complete" mummy yet to be discovered in the country, the excavation team leader said on Thursday.

The 4,300-year-old mummy was found at the bottom of a 15-metre shaft in a recently uncovered group of fifth and sixth-dynasty tombs near the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, Zahi Hawass, director of the team, told reporters.

An Egyptian archaeologist restores antiquities after the announcement of new discoveries in Gisr el-Mudir in Saqqara, in Giza, Egypt, January 26, 2023. — Reuters

The mummy, of a man named Hekashepes, was in a limestone sarcophagus that had been sealed in mortar.

Books

Russian POW recalls horrors of Nazi death camp in declassified papers

Auschwitz German Nazi death camp
© AFP / Janek Skarzynski
The main gate to the Auschwitz German Nazi death camp with the inscription “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work makes one free”). There were days when up 30,000 people were burnt at Auschwitz-Birkenau facility, according to recollections by an escaped inmate.
A declassified report by a Soviet prisoner of war who managed to escape the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, shares shocking detail of how thousands were executed at the infamous Nazi death facility and how tough it was to survive for those who were left alive and forced to work.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has dedicated the release of the historic document to the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau camp by Soviet forces, which is marked on Friday.

Over a million people, mainly Jewish, Polish and Soviet prisoners, were executed at the death camp in southern Poland between 1940 and 1945, with senior lieutenant Pavel Gavrish being a witness to many of those terrifying events.

Comment: See also: 'They used axes to spare the ammo': How modern Ukraine's Nazi heroes massacred civilians during WWII


Pharoah

52-foot-long Book of the Dead papyrus from ancient Egypt discovered at Saqqara

For the first time in 100 years, a full Book of the Dead papyrus has been uncovered at Saqqara.
Papyrus of Ani

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 52-foot-long (16 meters) papyrus containing sections from the Book of the Dead. The more than 2,000-year-old document was found within a coffin in a tomb south of the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara.

There are many texts from The Book of the Dead, and analysis of the new finding may shed light on ancient Egyptian funerary traditions. Conservation work is already complete, and the papyrus is being translated into Arabic, according to a translated statement, which was released in conjunction with an event marking Egyptian Archaeologists Day on Jan. 14.

This is the first full papyrus to be uncovered at Saqqara in more than 100 years, Mostafa Waziry, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said, according to the statement.

Bad Guys

The hidden truth about the war in Ukraine

Map Ukraine
© Unknown
The cultural and historical elements that determine the relations between Russia and Ukraine are important. The two countries have a long, rich, diverse, and eventful history together.

This would be essential if the crisis we are experiencing today were rooted in history. However, it is a product of the present. The war we see today does not come from our great-grandparents, our grandparents or even our parents. It comes from us. We created this crisis. We created every piece and every mechanism. We have only exploited existing dynamics and exploited Ukraine to satisfy an old dream: to try to bring down Russia. Chrystia Freeland's, Antony Blinken's, Victoria Nuland's and Olaf Scholz's grandfathers had that dream; we realized it.

The way we understand crises determines the way we solve them. Cheating with the facts leads to disaster. This is what is happening in Ukraine. In this case the number of issues is so enormous that we will not be able to discuss them here. Let me just focus on some of them.

Did James Baker make Promises to Limit Eastward Expansion of NATO to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990?

In 2021, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that "there was never a promise that NATO would not expand eastward after the fall of the Berlin Wall." This claim remains widespread among self-proclaimed experts on Russia, who explain that there were no promises because there was no treaty or written agreement. This argument is a bit simplistic and false.

Pirates

Feminism was never about equality: The true history of a movement dominated by male-hating zealots

Bettina Arndt
Man hating feminism? The question is whether there is any other kind. I used to think so. I started calling myself a "feminist" as a young woman in the 1970s after reading Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch, ironically whilst working a university vacation job as a Hertz Rent-a-car girl, dressed in my bright yellow perked cap and mini skirt and flirting with American tourists.

I convinced myself that feminism was all about equality, about creating a level playing field where women could take their rightful place in the world, embracing opportunities once denied to them. But then I watched with increasing alarm as the current misandrist culture took hold, with the male of the species as the punching bag, and women shamelessly promoted and protected, infantilized and idealized. Feminism had gone off the rails, I concluded.

But it turned out that was wrong. Now I know the truth about feminist history - thanks to my recent re-education by the formidable Janice Fiamengo, who has spent much of the last year putting out videos based on a powerful body of scholarship that shows feminism was never about equality. The result of Fiamengo's deep dive into feminist history is that this normally calm, measured scholar now seethes with righteous indignation.

Info

11,000-year-old human remains discovered in northern Britain

Martin Stables
© University of Central Lancashire
An international team led by archaeologists at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has discovered the earliest human remains ever found in northern Britain.

Human bone and a periwinkle shell bead unearthed at Heaning Wood Bone Cave have been analysed and dated at around 11,000-years-old.

UCLan's Dr Rick Peterson and PhD student Keziah Warburton have examined the human remains and prehistoric artefacts excavated in Cumbria's Great Urswick by local archaeologist Martin Stables.

Dr Peterson, a Reader in Archaeology, said: "This is a fantastic discovery! We've been delighted to confirm Martin's unbelievable find dates back around 11,000-year-ago and gives us clear evidence of Mesolithic burials in the north. This is particularly exciting as these are some of the earliest dates for human activity in Britain after the end of the last Ice Age."

The enthusiast has been excavating the site since 2016 and has discovered human and animal bone, stone tools, prehistoric pottery and beads made from perforated periwinkle shells.

Info

5000-year-old stoneware workshop found in Iran

Ancient Excavation
© Tehran Times
The image of the Konar Sandal archaeological site south of Jiroft city.
Iranian archaeologists found the ruins of a stoneware workshop estimated to date back to the 3rd millennium BC, during their excavations at Jiroft in Iran's Kerman Province.

A team of archaeologists from the University of Tehran has discovered a wide variety of stone vessels and stone ornamentations from the site of Hajjiabad-Varamin in Jiroft, IRNA reported.

According to the archaeologists, stone containers and objects that were used or broken by people were not discarded in Jiroft, but their broken pieces were brought to the production workshop to make smaller containers and objects such as beads and pendants.

The Jiroft culture also referred to as the Intercultural style or the Halilrud style is a presumed early Bronze Age (late third millennium BC) archaeological culture that was present in the region of the modern Iranian provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan and Kerman.