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World's Earliest Christian Engraving Shows Surprising Pagan Elements

Pagan Inscriptions
© Left: © Zach123 | Dreamstime.com; Right: Christian Archaeology, Charles Wesley Bennett
Scholars have identified what appears to be the world's earliest Christian inscription, dating to the second century. It is in the collection of the Capitoline Museums in Rome which could not release an image at press time. Also shown, examples of other early Christian inscriptions, copied in 1880.

Researchers have identified what is believed to be the world's earliest surviving Christian inscription, shedding light on an ancient sect that followed the teachings of a second-century philosopher named Valentinus.

Officially called NCE 156, the inscription is written in Greek and is dated to the latter half of the second century, a time when the Roman Empire was at the height of its power.

An inscription is an artifact containing writing that is carved on stone. The only other written Christian remains that survive from that time period are fragments of papyri that quote part of the gospels and are written in ink. Stone inscriptions are more durable than papyri and are easier to display. NCE 156 also doesn't quote the gospels directly, instead its inscription alludes to Christian beliefs.

"If it is in fact a second-century inscription, as I think it probably is, it is about the earliest Christian material object that we possess," study researcher Gregory Snyder, of Davidson College in North Carolina, told LiveScience.

Sherlock

Texas, US: Drought Uncovers Treasure for Looters on Lake Whitney

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© WFAA
Sinking lake levels have exposed some of Hill County's hidden secrets.

Fossils and Native American tools from eight thousand years ago are easy to find at Lake Whitney, and looters are taking advantage.

They used to be buried in underwater caverns, but the drought has evaporated that protection.

"The looter and scavenger comes and digs up the site," said U.S. Army Corps Engineer Brad Demsey. "They just destroy all that and leave it to the side."

Even in remote parts of Lake Whitney that were once buried under concrete for security, scavengers unearth and discard valuable history.

There are fossils and Native American tools from prehistoric times.

Texas and federal laws ban the removal of Native American artifacts from archaeological sites, but burial grounds have been disturbed.

Palette

Stone-age toddlers had art lessons

Stone age toddlers may have attended a form of prehistoric nursery where they were encouraged to develop their creative skills in cave art, say archaeologists.

Research indicates young children expressed themselves in an ancient form of finger-painting. And, just as in modern homes, their early efforts were given pride of place on the living room wall.

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© University of Cambridge/PA
Artworks such as this were created 13,000 years ago by children in caves in the Dordogne, research suggests.
A Cambridge University conference on the archaeology of childhood on Friday reveals a tantalising glimpse into life for children in the palaeolithic age, an estimated 13,000 years ago.

Archaeologists at one of the most famous prehistoric decorated caves in France, the complex of caverns at Rouffignac in the Dordogne known as the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths, have discovered that children were actively helped to express themselves through finger fluting - running fingers over soft red clay to produce decorative crisscrossing lines, zig-zags and swirls.

Info

Turkey: Ancient Lost City Found in the Dardanelles

A settlement area from the pre-historic period has been found in the Dardanelles, according to the head of Troy excavations, Associate Professor Rüstem Aslan.

"We have found a prehistoric settlement dating back to 5,000 B.C. But only 5 percent of the settlement exists," said Aslan. The archaeology team examined the coast from the entrance of the Dardanelles to Çanakkale city center, he said. "The coastal excavations had been finished and we unearthed something unexpected around Bozköy."

The settlement was 2,000 years older than Troy, Aslan said. "We know that almost all settlements older than 5,000 years ago were established on high plateaus." The reason for the settlement pattern in high places has been questioned, he said. "This discovery gives us important clues that people settled deliberately because of the rise and fall of the sea," he added.

Aslan said it was the first time that such a settlement was found in the Dardanelles and there is no information about this settlement in any map or document. "We can easily see remains of a 7,000-year-old lost settlement here," he said. "We can call this place a lost city."

Sherlock

How Psychology Solved A WWII Shipwreck Mystery

In November 1941, two ships crossed paths off the coast of Australia. One was the German raider HSK Kormoran. The other: an Australian warship called the HMAS Sydney. Guns were fired, the ships were damaged and both sank to the bottom of the ocean.

The loss of the Sydney in World War II was a national tragedy for the Australians, particularly because none of the 645 men on board survived. In the years that followed, there was intense interest in finding the wrecks, particularly the wreck of the Sydney. The idea was that doing this might give the families of the lost sailors some measure of peace, a sense of closure and certainty.

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© Unknown
The Australian warship HMAS Sydney is anchored in Sydney Harbor in this undated photograph. The ship sank in November 1941 after a battle with a German vessel. Despite extensive search efforts, the boats were not found until 2008.
The problem was that the only witnesses to the battle and the sinking were about 300 German sailors who had abandoned their ship after it had been hit. They were eventually picked up by the Australian military.

Blackbox

Preserved flesh of 2-million-year-old human ancestor found?

His jaw must have dropped when he examined the material before him. It was a rare find. So rare, in fact, that, if what he was looking at was really what he thought it could be, it would be the first and only evidence of soft body tissue from an early hominin ever discovered.......soft tissue from an early (possible) pre-human ancestor nearly 2 million years old. The find was part of the remains uncovered by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand and his colleagues when they discovered fossils of Australopithecus sediba, a possible precursor to our earliest human ancestors (the Homo genus) in the Malapa cave system of South Africa.

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© Phiston, GNU Free Documentation License
Australopithecus sediba, on display in Maropeng.
"I was standing with Lee in his lab looking at what might be australopithecine skin" said Dr. John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist with the University of Wisconsin - Madison. "I'm not talking about an imprint of skin, like a skin cast. These appear to be thinly layered, possibly mineralized tissue"[1].

Blackbox

Mayan film documentary claims proof of aliens?

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© Unknown
A new documentary about Mayan civilization will provide evidence of extraterrestrial contact with the ancient culture, according to a Mexican government official and the film's producer.

Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond, currently in production, will claim the Mayans had contact with extraterrestrials, producer Raul Julia-Levy revealed to TheWrap.

"Mexico will release codices, artifacts and significant documents with evidence of Mayan and extraterrestrial contact, and all of their information will be corroborated by archaeologists," said Julia-Levy, son of actor Raul Julia.

In a release to TheWrap, Luis Augusto Garcia Rosado, the minister of tourism for the Mexican state of Campeche, said new evidence has emerged "of contact between the Mayans and extraterrestrials, supported by translations of certain codices, which the government has kept secure in underground vaults for some time."

Sherlock

Treasure hunters eye huge silver haul from WWII ship

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© Odyssey Marine Exploration
A stern compass of the SS Gairsoppa on the top of the poop deck. When the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat, it took its huge silver cargo to a watery grave. Seventy years later, US divers said they are working to recover what may well be the biggest shipwreck haul ever
When the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat, it took its huge silver cargo to a watery grave. Seventy years later, US divers said they are working to recover what may well be the biggest shipwreck haul ever.

Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration on Monday confirmed the identity and location of the Gairsoppa and cited official documents indicating the ship was carrying some 219 tons of silver coins and bullion when it sank in 1941 in the North Atlantic some 300 miles (490 kilometers) off the Irish coast.

That's worth about $200 million today, which would make it history's largest recovery of precious metals lost at sea, Odyssey said.

"We've accomplished the first phase of this project -- the location and identification of the target shipwreck -- and now we're hard at work planning for the recovery phase," Odyssey senior project manager Andrew Craig said in a statement.

Sherlock

Turkey: Heracles finally returning to its homeland

The top half of an 1,800-year-old Roman sculpture of the mythological hero Heracles, which was smuggled out of the country 40 years ago, is to return to Turkey in the plane of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to daily Hürriyet.

Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said he was happy about the imminent return of the top half of the statue, which has been on display at the Boston Museum and added that Turkey would continue to work for the return of cultural artifacts stolen from the country.

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© Unknown
The top half of Weary Heracles will meet its lower half which is on display at the Antalya Archaeology Museum.
The bottom half of the statue, known as Weary Heracles, was discovered in 1980 by Professor Jale İnan in Perge, a few years after the top half was smuggled out of the country. "[There have been] 40 years of longing between the top and lower half of the statue," Günay said. Together, the two halves weigh 200 kilograms.

Sherlock

US: American Indian mounds are Florida's hidden monuments

I'm scrabbling, sweating, straining up a steep incline, my running shoes sliding back downhill on the chalky white ground. My hat's in the car where it doesn't belong on this unusually hot March afternoon, and I can feel my forehead starting to sear. Getting myself into this position took three hours in crawling traffic and then a boat ride to Mound Key, in Estero Bay. I have to ask myself: "You agreed to this?''

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© Suzanne Williamson
The temple mound in Crystal River Archaeological State Park shows its height and a scar from shell removal, which occurred before the preservation of its 14-acre, six-mound complex — said to have been occupied for 1,600 years.
I did. Soon after we moved to Tampa Bay my wife Suzanne began traveling around Florida to photograph American Indian heritage sites. The old bungalow felt empty without her and, besides, she was heading into some remote areas alone. So I tagged along.

These Indian mounds, as they're known, are man-made structures of earth, shells and sand, built by prehistoric and historic civilizations. Beginning as long as 7,000 years ago and continuing into the 1700s, American Indians living in nature transformed it - working without metal tools, pack animals, or the wheel. Florida is rich in these mounds, Suzanne explained, especially along the west coast and around Tampa Bay.