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Better Earth

Best of the Web: Paleoclimate reconstructions show significant cold periods coincided with pandemics & plagues in ancient Rome

© Painting at the Walters Art Museum, Public Domain, Wikimedia CommonsSt Sebastian pleading for the life of a gravedigger afflicted with plague during the 7th-century Plague of Pavia.
High-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions from southern Italy, dating to between around 200 BCE and 600 CE, provide a clearer picture of how climate and disease intersected in ancient Rome.

Reconstructions showed that temperature and precipitation became increasingly unstable after ~130 CE, with several cold periods tied to historic pandemic outbreaks such as the Justinian Plague.

Paleoclimate proxies can offer insights into how past climate change may have influenced human societies, such as when warm or cool intervals coincided with periods of social development or pandemics.

Comment: It's probably no wonder that the establishment would have us believe we're in an era of 'global boiling', rather than on the precipice of a similar (or worse) cooling that correlates with famine, an uptick in cometary activity, and great dyings caused by (real) pandemics:


'Lost' 4,000-year-old tomb rediscovered in Ireland

Billy Mag Fhloinn with the remnants of the tomb.
© Seán Mac an tSíthigh/RTÉ NewsBilly Mag Fhloinn with the remnants of the tomb.
A "lost" 4,000-year-old tomb has been rediscovered on the Dingle Peninsula in Co Kerry.

The megalithic tomb known locally as Altóir na Gréine (the sun altar) was believed to have been completely destroyed in the 1840s, with its stones broken and carried away for use as building material.

While the existence of a tomb "near" Baile an Fheirtéaraigh is documented in 19th century antiquarian literature, a record of the monument's location did not exist.

An 1838 sketch of the tomb, its reputed association with the sun and its strange disappearance has been a source of intrigue for archaeologists for decades.

However, the 180-year-old mystery has now been solved by local man Billy Mag Fhloinn.

The folklorist has not only found the prehistoric site, but he has also discovered some of the large stones, which had been believed to have been removed, still in situ.

A number of orthostats (large upright stones) have survived, as well as a large capstone, while more may lie under the dense undergrowth.

The monument is situated on the crest of a hill overlooking the village of An Buailtín.


Ancient sword with possible Viking origins and a mysterious inscription recovered from Polish river

ancient viking sword river poland
© Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments in ToruńThe ancient Viking sword was fished out of the Vistula River in Poland, in January 2024
Research is underway to learn more about the origins of medieval sword found earlier this month at the bottom of a Polish river, which some experts believe may have belonged to the Vikings.

The sword sports a "mysterious inscription" and is one of eight weapons of its kind discovered so far in Poland, the Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments in Toruń, a city near the spot where the sword was found and itself a protected world heritage site, wrote in a translated announcement on Facebook. Workers unearthed the sword from the bottom of Poland's Vistula River while dredging the port at Włocławek, which is about 30 miles from Toruń.

Preliminary analyses of the weapon, having weathered centuries of corrosion, traced it back more than 1,000 years to the 10th century A.D., the culture office said. That period is significant for Poland, which did not exist prior to the formation that century of the House of Piast, the earliest known dynasty that settled in that area and began the first recorded reign over modern-day Polish land. Officials wondered in their announcement whether the sword may have borne witness to the formation of Polish statehood.

Comment: From Facebook:

Matthew Sosnowski, Olaf Popkiewicz

An early medieval sword from Włocławek a witness to the formation of Polish statehood?
Friday, January 12, 2024, turned out to be a happy day for the employees of the company leading the work related to deepening the pool of the port of the Sport and Recreation Center in Włocławek. Completely accidentally they made an unprecedented discovery related to history, not only Włocławek, but all of Poland.

While unloading the charm from the harbor by boat, Sławomir Mularski - the owner of the company leading the work - noticed on the mule, thrown away by the excavator, an entirely preserved early medieval sword. Without a moment of hesitation, the Provincial Monument Protection Office in Włocławek informed about his discovery, whose employees secured this valuable monument and handed it over for the first analysis.

Preliminary analyses of the discovered sword now allow us to conclude that it is dated to the 10th century, that is, the period when the country of the first Piast was formed. Typologically, based on the construction of the frame, this sword can be classified as the S type, according to Petersen typology, which are characterized by a simple blade that extends symmetrically towards the end, while the head of these swords usually had a three-piece head overlay and are dated to the period between 900 and 1000 years. It is believed that the region of origin of this type of weapons should be considered northwestern Europe (areas of Scandinavian or Franconian State), the territory of today's Poland was most likely due to Scandinavian influences, which at that time were very strong throughout the region of Central-Eastern Europe.

In order to assess the condition of the discovered sword, an X-ray photo was also made, which allowed us to look under a layer of over a thousand years of corrosion and to discover further fascinating facts related to the very construction of this unique object. First of all, the inscription can be clearly seen on the main sword, perhaps the sword from Włocławek can be counted as one of the famous swords signed with the mysterious inscription U[V]LFBERTH, which is one of the most famous and at the same time the best, in terms of performance of the main, early medieval swords from Europe. This would be the eighth sword of this type discovered in today's Poland, however only after cleaning and maintenance can such a hypothesis about the origin of the main sword itself be confirmed.

The geographical-historical context in which this object was found is also interesting. On the basis of previous archaeological and historical research, we know that the history of Włocławk is very rich and reaches much further into the past than the fact that the city was locked in 1255. Probably in the 10th century, i.e. during the period when the discovered object is dated, a strong town center, connected to the beard on the Vistula, operated in this place, through which the trade route from the Kujaw area to the land of Dobrzyn, Chełmiń and further towards Prus. Perhaps because of the location over the Vistula river, which must have been an important sailing trail at that time, there was also a port, connecting this place to the waters, and as a result, the far-reaching paths of the Batycian Sea, also towards Scandinavia.

It should be mentioned that this is not the first object of Scandinavian origin discovered around Włocławek and dated to the beginning of Polish statehood. In 2007, during the construction of the A1 motorway, bypassing Włocławek from the west, in the town of Bodzia, a cemetery dating back to the Xth and XI centuries was discovered, where during the investigation they found many objects of Scandinavian origin, allowing us to assume that in this necropolis were buried by foreigners from Scandinavian, who perhaps they were in the service of the first Piasties, who were creating their country in this area during this period.

Looking for an analogy to the sword from Włocławek we can point out two swords of this type (type S according to Petersen) from Lutów (voj. Kuyavian-Pomeranian) and from Ciepłý (voj. Pomeranian). This second monument is particularly interesting because the sword from Warm was found in the context of the early medieval cemetery, located on the edge of the Vistula Valley, in the vicinity of today's Anger. The cemetery, like the one from Bodza, dates back to the 10th and 11th centuries, and houses graves of people whose origins are related to Scandinavian immigrants, as was the case with the Bodza necropolis. Perhaps the sword discovered in Włocławek was an element of equipping a person among the people responsible for the expansion of Piast's rule in the 10th century to new areas beyond Greater Poland? However, we leave the answer to this question in the sphere of hypothesis, which require wider research, which unfortunately do not always have to bring us the expected results.

Returning to the sword itself, it now faces a strenuous process of conservation and scientific development, which may bring us further revelations related to its construction and ornaments, and consequently its wonderful history.

(Google translation)
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10,000 year old "chewing gum" provides insight into diet of ancient Scandinavians

Mastic Gum
© Wikimedia CommonsMastic Gum
What did people eat on the west coast of Scandinavia 10,000 years ago? A new study of the DNA in a chewing gum shows that deer, trout and hazelnuts were on the diet. It also shows that one of the individuals had severe problems with her teeth.

Some 9,700 years ago, a group of people were camping on the west coast of Scandinavia, north of what is today Göteborg. They had been fishing, hunting and collecting resources for food. And some teenagers, both boys and girls, were chewing resin to produce glue, just after munching on trout and deer, as well as on hazelnuts. Due to a bad case of periodontitis (severe gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and bone loss), one of the teenagers had problems eating the chewy deer-meat, as well as preparing the resin by chewing it.

Better Earth

Humans were inhabiting China 45,000 years ago, new site analysis reveals

human china ancient
© Esteban De Armas / AlamyThe first members of our species to reach China might have entered the region from the north. A fresh look at an archaeological site in northern China that was excavated in the 1960s has confirmed Homo sapiens was present there about 45,000 years ago.
Modern humans were living in what is now China by 45,000 years ago. The finding means our species reached the area thousands of years earlier than generally thought, possibly via a northerly route through modern-day Siberia and Mongolia.

A team co-led by Francesco d'Errico at the University of Bordeaux in France re-examined an archaeological site called Shiyu in northern China. It was originally excavated in 1963 during the unrest of China's cultural revolution. "This was not the best moment to find such an important site," says d'Errico.

Shiyu is an open-air site in a river gully. It holds a 30-metre-deep deposit of sands and other sediment, which the original excavators divided into four horizontal layers, the second from bottom of which was found to hold evidence of human occupation.

Comment: A number of Chinese researchers question the current Out of Africa theory, highlighting evidence that they've been in the region for 100,000s of years: Ancient Chinese relics point to unbroken cultural links that began a million years ago

See also:

Better Earth

Wooly mammoth movements tied to 14,000 year old hunting camps, research of Alaska's earliest sites reveals

© Julius CsostonyiArtwork shows three mammoths being watched by a family of ancient Alaskans from the dunes near the Swan Point archaeological site, a seasonal hunting camp occupied 14,000 years ago.
Researchers have linked the travels of a 14,000-year-old wooly mammoth with the oldest known human settlements in Alaska, providing clues about the relationship between the iconic species and some of the earliest people to travel across the Bering Land Bridge.

Scientists made those connections by using isotope analysis to study the life of a female mammoth, named Élmayųujey'eh, by the Healy Lake Village Council. A tusk from Elma was discovered at the Swan Point archaeological site in Interior Alaska. Samples from the tusk revealed details about Elma and the roughly 1,000-kilometer journey she took through Alaska and northwestern Canada during her lifetime.

Isotopic data, along with DNA from other mammoths at the site and archaeological evidence, indicates that early Alaskans likely structured their settlements to overlap with areas where mammoths congregated. Those findings, highlighted in the journal Science Advances, provide evidence that mammoths and early hunter-gatherers shared habitat in the region. The long-term predictable presence of wooly mammoths would have attracted humans to the area.

Comment: It seems that mammoth meat was sustaining humans for tens of thousands of years, and that regions we think of today as barren, were perhaps much more hospitable:


Nearly 300-million-year-old fossilized reptile skin found in Oklahoma cave resembles that of modern crocodiles

collage of skin fossils
© Current Biology, Mooney et al.A visual collage of skin fossils described in the new study. The mummified skin specimen is shown sliced into two pieces in the center-left of the image. The surrounding specimen scans are of fossilized skin impressions.
Paleontologists say they've identified and described the oldest fossilized reptile skin ever found.

A team of paleontologists from the University of Toronto Mississauga discovered the fossilized skin of a reptile-like animal in a cave in Oklahoma. The skin fossil is estimated to be more than 20 million years older than the previous record-holder.

The finding, which is believed to be at least 286 million years old, was discovered in the Richards Spur cave system, a fascinating area of Oklahoma uniquely suited to preserve fossilized remains.

The soft tissue fossil is a rare find, made possible by a series of chance events. It provides insight into a distant evolutionary past that predates both mammals and the oldest dinosaurs.

In caves, fine sediment deposits and low oxygen levels help delay decomposition, according to lead study author Ethan Mooney, who is pursuing a master's degree in paleontology at the University of Toronto (U of T).

The limestone caves of Richards Spur in Oklahoma contain some of the world's most diverse and well-preserved fossils from the Paleozoic. At that time, the caves were filled with petroleum and tar from the nearby Woodford Shale, which saturated the fossils and further protected them from decay.

Richards Spur contains many fossils of Captorhinus aguti — an iguana-size, lizardlike reptile. Most specimens are skeletons, but one C. aguti fossil described in the Current Biology study retains a portion of its epidermis — the scaly outermost layer of skin made of the same keratin found in human hair and fingernails. Mooney emphasizes the importance of developing a thick, waterproof epidermis for survival on land.


Construction workers unearth 9,000-year-old artifacts that may change Brazil's history

human skeleton
Construction workers in Brazil unearthed a treasure trove of artifacts back in 2019, and archaeologists now think it'll rewrite the entire nation's history.

Construction workers were just getting started on the development of a new apartment complex in the seaside city of Sao Luis, when they found human remains, pottery shards and thousands of other artifacts throughout the area, according to CBS News. Archaeologists were called in to assess the site, known as Chacara Rosane, and found the artifacts were from around 9,000 years ago.

In total, some 100,000 artifacts have been found at the site, along with at least 43 human skeletons, according to a press release published in January by the Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage.

Comment: And once again proof that we do not know the true history of mankind. Due to political or religious ideologies, "facts" of our past have been disseminated that bear no resemblance to the truth.

See also:


Newly-found inscribed brick may reveal Elamite water supply system in western Iran

brick inscribed with the Akkadian script
© Tehran Times
This discovery sheds light on the political and economic significance of the ancient site of Garan on the western borders of Elamite civilization.

According to ISNA, the findings were reported during a specialized session titled "Representation of Dehloran Valley's Perspective; Based on the Discoveries of Garan Mound," organized by the Institute of Archaeology.

"Garan, situated in the Dehloran Valley within the modern province of Ilam and on the southwestern plateau of Iran, covers an area of 17 hectares. It features a prominent cone-shaped elevation in the south of the site, surrounded by several irregular mounds to the east, north, and west of the main prominence," said Mohsen Zeinivand, an archaeologist involved in the excavation.

Zeinivand highlighted the exceptional importance of Garan in archaeological studies of the region due to its organized human habitation sequence from the late ancient periods to the end of the historical era.

It transformed into the largest settlement in the second millennium BC until the late Achaemenid period, holding extraordinary significance in the archaeology of the area, the archaeologist said.

Regarding recent examinations of the site, Zeinivand explained: "Surface surveys identified numerous broken bricks with possible inscriptions. Although the inscriptions on these brick fragments were not easily decipherable due to weathering and erosion, one sample revealed partially readable words such as 'ruler,' 'son,' and 'his lord,' suggesting Akkadian language."

Blue Planet

Discoveries gleaned from 5,000 ancient Eurasian human DNA samples

Porsmose skull
© The Danish National MuseumThe Porsmose Man from the Neolithic Period, found in1947 in Porsmose, Denmark.
Four research articles published in Nature follow the genetic traces and geographical origins of human diseases far back in time. The analyses provide detailed pictures of prehistoric human diversity and migration, while proposing an explanation for a rise in the genetic risk for multiple sclerosis (MS).

By analyzing data from the world's largest data set to date on 5,000 ancient human genomes from Europe and Western Asia (Eurasia), new research has uncovered the prehistoric human gene pools of western Eurasia in unprecedented detail.

The results are presented in four articles published in the same issue of Nature by an international team of researchers led by experts from the University of Copenhagen and contributions from around 175 researchers from universities and museums in the U.K., the U.S., Germany, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Poland, Switzerland, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Italy. The many researchers represent a wide range of scientific disciplines, including archaeology, evolutionary biology, medicine, ancient DNA research, infectious disease research, and epidemiology.