Welcome to Sott.net
Thu, 01 Jun 2023
The World for People who Think

Secret History


Origin of Ancient Jade Tool Baffles Scientists

Jade Tools
© Les O’Neil, University of Otago
A composite photograph of the front and back of the jade gouge shown with a centimeter scale.

The discovery of a 3,300-year-old tool has led researchers to the rediscovery of a "lost" 20th-century manuscript and a "geochemically extraordinary" bit of earth.

Discovered on Emirau Island in the Bismark Archipelago (a group of islands off the coast of New Guinea), the 2-inch (5-centimeters) stone tool was probably used to carve, or gouge, wood. It seems to have fallen from a stilted house, landing in a tangle of coral reef that was eventually covered over by shifting sands.

The jade gouge may have been crafted by the Lapita people, who appeared in the western Pacific around 3,300 years ago, then spread across the Pacific to Samoa over a couple hundred years, and from there formed the ancestral population of the people we know as Polynesians, according to the researchers.

Jade gouges and axes have been found before in these areas, but what's interesting about the object is the type of jade it's made of: it seems to have come from a distant region. Perhaps these Lapita brought it from wherever they originated.


Ancient Dog Skull Suggests We've Lived with Dogs for 33,000 Years

dog skull
© Nikolai D. Ovodov
A dog skull unearthed in a Siberian cave presents some of the oldest known evidence of dog domestication and suggests modern dogs may be descended from multiple ancestors.

The ancient skull, preserved in a cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia for 33,000 years, presents some of the oldest known evidence of dog domestication and, together with equally ancient dog remains from a cave in Belgium, indicates that domestication of dogs may have occurred repeatedly in different geographic locations rather than with a single domestication event.

In other words, today's dogs might have originated from more than one ancient ancestor, contrary to what some DNA evidence previously has indicated.

Greg Hodgins, a researcher at the University of Arizona's Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory is co-author of the study that reported the find. He said:
Both the Belgian find and the Siberian find are domesticated species based on morphological characteristics. Essentially, wolves have long thin snouts and their teeth are not crowded, and domestication results in this shortening of the snout and widening of the jaws and crowding of the teeth.


Ancient Astronomers Were No Fools

Ancient Astronomers
© Casey Reed

There's no doubt ancient astronomers were clever folk. Realizing Earth was round, estimating the Sun's distance, discovering heliocentricity - it's quite a list. But Brad Schaefer (Louisiana State University) suggested at the recent American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin that we should add another light bulb to the glow shining from history: ancient astronomers may have corrected for dimming caused by the atmosphere, centuries before anyone came up with a physical model for it.

This dimming is called atmospheric extinction. Extinction happens because starlight has to pass through Earth's atmosphere in order to reach us. But the effect isn't uniform: if you spend time stargazing you've probably noticed that a star high up in the sky's dome looks brighter than it does as it slides toward the horizon. That's because light coming to us from near the horizon passes through more atmosphere than if it shines straight down from overhead. (The Sun looks redder at sunset and sunrise for the same reason.)

Astronomers have catalogued stars' magnitudes for at least two millennia, all the way back to an ancient document called the Almagest. It was the Almagest that Schaefer began with - but his goal wasn't to determine if astronomers in olden days accounted for extinction. He wanted to use the brightnesses reported in it to decide a long-standing debate over who wrote the catalog in the first place, Hipparchus of Rhodes (circa 150 BC) or Ptolemy of Alexandria (circa AD 150).


Aegean Sea: Hunt for the ancient mariner

Armed with high-tech methods, researchers are scouring the Aegean Sea for the world's oldest shipwrecks

Brendan Foley peels his wetsuit to the waist and perches on the side of an inflatable boat as it skims across the sea just north of the island of Crete. At his feet are the dripping remains of a vase that moments earlier had been resting on the sea floor, its home for more than a millennium. "It's our best day so far," he says of his dive that morning. "We've discovered two ancient shipwrecks."

© J. Hios/akg-images
The Minoans were pioneers in long-distance ocean travel, as seen in this sixteenth-century BC wall mural from the Greek island of Santorini, which depicts Minoan ships.

Better Earth

Space station sees southern lights

We've been talking a lot about the northern lights lately, but here's a must-see view of the southern lights, as captured by the crew of the International Space Station on Jan. 3.

The time-lapse video begins over the Indian Ocean, with the camera looking eastward toward southern Australia. The red and green lights of the aurora shimmer just before sunrise, which comes when the station is south of Australia and west of Tasmania. Go full screen for the full effect.

The differences in the colors of the aurora are due to the various emissions sparked by the interaction of solar particles with oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere. This previous posting delves into the colors of the auroral sky as seen from space.

I've got to think the space station's astronauts are closely watching the current uptick in solar activity. NASA says the solar storm poses no danger to the crew, so they'll be free to snap photos and send them along to the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, which is the source of this imagery. Be sure to check out Jason Major's report on Universe Today about the whole space-storm safety issue as it relates to the station's crew.

Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor.


Ancient Jewish Scrolls Found in North Afghanistan

Jewish scrolls
A cache of ancient Jewish scrolls from northern Afghanistan that has only recently come to light is creating a storm among scholars who say the landmark find could reveal an undiscovered side of medieval Jewry.

The 150 or so documents, dated from the 11th century, were found in Afghanistan's Samangan province and most likely smuggled out - a sorry but common fate for the impoverished and war-torn country's antiquities.

Israeli emeritus professor Shaul Shaked, who has examined some of the poems, commercial records and judicial agreements that make up the treasure, said while the existence of ancient Afghan Jewry is known, their culture was still a mystery.

"Here, for the first time, we see evidence and we can actually study the writings of this Jewish community. It's very exciting," Shaked told Reuters by telephone from Israel, where he teaches at the Comparative Religion and Iranian Studies department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Mysterious 'Winged' Structure from Ancient Rome Discovered

Mystery Structure
© Michael Page
The Y-shaped Roman structure, discovered in eastern England in the Norfolk area, can be seen in this aerial shot. Nothing like it has been discovered before from the Roman Empire. Sometime later another Roman structure (whose postholes can be seen) was built on top of it.
A recently discovered mysterious "winged" structure in England, which in the Roman period may have been used as a temple, presents a puzzle for archaeologists, who say the building has no known parallels.

Built around 1,800 years ago, the structure was discovered in Norfolk, in eastern England, just to the south of the ancient town of Venta Icenorum. The structure has two wings radiating out from a rectangular room that in turn leads to a central room.

"Generally speaking, [during] the Roman Empire people built within a fixed repertoire of architectural forms," said William Bowden, a professor at the University of Nottingham, who reported the find in the most recent edition of the Journal of Roman Archaeology. The investigation was carried out in conjunction with the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group.

The winged shape of the building appears to be unique in the Roman Empire, with no other example known. "It's very unusual to find a building like this where you have no known parallels for it," Bowden told LiveScience. "What they were trying to achieve by using this design is really very difficult to say."

The building appears to have been part of a complex that includes a villa to the north and at least two other structures to the northeast and northwest. An aerial photograph suggests the existence of an oval or polygonal building with an apse located to the east.


Indonesia: Finding on Garut Pyramid Verified - structure is highly unlikely to be of natural formation

The phenomenon of "Garut Pyramid" found on a mount in Garut, West Java, has encouraged the Ancient Catastrophic Disaster Team to conduct verification.
© Turangga Seta
Sadahurip Mountain in Garut, West Java
The verification is carried out to determine the existence of a man-made structure that formed Mount Putri in Garut using Superstring geo-electric instruments. The geo-electric instruments were used to scan geological layers on the hill by measuring its resistivity.

In a written statement received by VIVAnews, Monday, Dec 19, a member of the Ancient Catastrophic Disaster Team, Iwan Sumule, said that the results of the geo-electric instruments within 20 meters and 10 meters electrodes showed that there was a horizontal unconformity on the intrusion (red) rocks within around 120 meters from the summit.

The finding shows that the right-side intrusion branch seems to form a terrain morphological base that has similar topographical elevation with Cirahong valley. Then, the 120 meter-limit seems to coincide with the base of a steeper ascending topography, where the rocks turn red.


Good Heavens! Oldest-Known Astrologer's Board Discovered

© Live Science

A research team has discovered what may be the oldest astrologer's board, engraved with zodiac signs and used to determine a person's horoscope.

Dating back more than 2,000 years, the board was discovered in Croatia, in a cave overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The surviving portion of the board consists of 30 ivory fragments engraved with signs of the zodiac. Researchers spent years digging them up and putting them back together. Inscribed in a Greco-Roman style, they include images of Cancer, Gemini and Pisces.

The board fragments were discovered next to a phallic-shaped stalagmite amid thousands of pieces of ancient Hellenistic (Greek style) drinking vessels.

An ancient astrologer, trying to determine a person's horoscope, could have used the board to show the position of the planets, sun and moon at the time the person was born.

"What he would show the client would be where each planet is, where the sun is, where the moon is and what are the points on the zodiac that were rising and setting on the horizon at the moment of birth," said Alexander Jones, a professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. [See Photos of Astrologer's Board]

"This is probably older than any other known example," Jones said. "It's also older than any of the written-down horoscopes that we have from the Greco-Roman world," he said, adding, "we have a lot of horoscopes that are written down as a kind of document on papyrus or on a wall but none of them as old as this."

Jones and StašoForenbaher, a researcher with the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, reported the discovery in the most recent edition of the Journal for the History of Astronomy.

2 + 2 = 4

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