Secret HistoryS


On Prehistoric Supercontinent of Pangaea, Latitude and Rain Dictated Where Species Lived

ancient skull bones
© n/a
Tehran- More than 200 million years ago, mammals and reptiles lived in their own separate worlds on the supercontinent Pangaea, despite little geographical incentive to do so. Mammals lived in areas of twice-yearly seasonal rainfall; reptiles stayed in areas where rains came just once a year. Mammals lose more water when they excrete, and thus need water-rich environments to survive. Results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aggregating nearly the entire landmass of Earth, Pangaea was a continent the likes our planet has not seen for the last 200 million years. Its size meant there was a lot of space for animals to roam, for there were few geographical barriers, such as mountains or ice caps, to contain them.

Yet, strangely, animals confined themselves. Studying a transect of Pangaea stretching from about three degrees south to 26 degrees north (a long swath in the center of the continent covering tropical and semiarid temperate zones), a team of scientists led by Jessica Whiteside at Brown University has determined that reptiles, represented by a species called procolophonids, lived in one area, while mammals, represented by a precursor species called traversodont cynodonts, lived in another. Though similar in many ways, their paths evidently did not cross.


Magic Circles: Walking from Avebury to Stonehenge

© Frank LukasseckStonehenge, end of the Great Stones Way.
A new walking path links Britain's two greatest prehistoric sites, Avebury and Stonehenge, and is as epic as the Inca Trail

The Great Stones Way is one of those ideas so obvious it seems amazing that no one has thought of it before: a 38-mile walking trail to link England's two greatest prehistoric sites, Avebury and Stonehenge, crossing a landscape covered with Neolithic monuments.

But like any project involving the English countryside, it's not as straightforward as it might seem. The steering group has had to secure permission from landowners and the MoD, who use much of Salisbury Plain for training. They hope to have the whole trail open within a year, but for now are trialling a 14-mile southern stretch, having secured agreement from the MoD and parish councils. The "Plain & Avon" section leads from the iron age hill fort of Casterley Camp on Salisbury Plain down the Avon valley to Stonehenge. Walkers are being encouraged to test the route, and detailed directions can be found on the Friends of the Ridgeway website.


Last Neanderthals Near the Arctic Circle?

examining a mammoth tusk in Byzovaya
© Hugues PlissonLudovic Slimak and Pavel Pavlov examining a mammoth tusk in Byzovaya.
Remains found near the Arctic Circle characteristic of Mousterian culture1 have recently been dated at over 28,500 years old, which is more than 8,000 years after Neanderthals are thought to have disappeared. This unexpected discovery by an international multi-disciplinary team, including researchers from CNRS2, challenges previous theories. Could Neanderthals have lived longer than thought? Or had Homo sapiens already migrated to Europe at that stage?

The results are published in Science of 13 May 2011.

The distinguishing feature of Mousterian culture, which developed during the Middle Palaeolithic (-300,000 to -33,000 years), is the use of a very wide range of flint tools, mainly by Neanderthal Man in Eurasia, but also by Homo sapiens in the Near East.

This culture is considered to be archaic, and not sufficiently advanced to allow Neanderthals to settle in the most extreme northern climates. It is thought to have brought about their demise some 33,000 to 36,000 years ago. They seem to have made way for modern humans, who appear to have occupied the whole of Eurasia thanks to their mastery of more advanced technologies.


Mysterious Ancient Rock Carvings Found Near Nile

Etchings on Rock
© Tim Karberg/Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität MünsterHere a rock etched with patterns forming a crescent moon and orb, an example of another piece of rock art discovered at Wadi Abu Dom in northern Sudan.
An archaeological team in the Bayuda Desert in northern Sudan has discovered dozens of new rock art drawings, some of which were etched more than 5,000 years ago and reveal scenes that scientists can't explain.

The team discovered 15 new rock art sites in an arid valley known as Wadi Abu Dom, some 18 miles (29 kilometers) from the Nile River. It's an arid valley that flows with water only during rainy periods. Many of the drawings were carved into the rock faces - no paint was used - of small stream beds known as "khors" that flow into the valley.

Some of the sites revealed just a single drawing while others have up to 30, said lead researcher Tim Karberg, of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster in Germany.

"We asked the local people about the rock art and they said that it would be very old, before their grandfathers," Karberg told LiveScience.


Best of the Web: Agriculture: The Worst Mistake In The History Of The Human Race

© Unknown
To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our Earth isn't the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren't specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

At first, the evidence against this revisionist interpretation will strike twentieth century Americans as irrefutable. We're better off in almost every respect than people of the Middle Ages who in turn had it easier than cavemen, who in turn were better off than apes. Just count our advantages. We enjoy the most abundant and varied foods, the best tools and material goods, some of the longest and healthiest lives, in history. Most of us are safe from starvation and predators. We get our energy from oil and machines, not from our sweat. What neo-Luddite among us would trade his life for that of a medieval peasant, a caveman, or an ape?

Arrow Down

Saudi Arabia reveals new historical finds dating back to 1st century BC

Two new archaelogical sites have been discovered in Jubail in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Dr. Ali Al Ghabban, Vice President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) for Antiquities and Museums Affairs, explained that the commission intends to transform the two locations into open museums for the public. His assertions came during a field trip to the sites organized by the SCTA branch of the eastern province in collaboration with the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY).

The two archeological sites in Al Jubail Industrial city in the eastern province of KSA dates back to the 3rd century BC and the 1st century BC, corresponding to 5th century AH.

Dr. Ghabban stated: "The first site is near Al Dafi within the Jubail Industrial College near the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu building about 14 kilometers from the city of Jubail. The site area, which is about 60 thousand square off the sea coast, is surrounded by a wall on an archaeological hill that rises to 5 to 6 meters above sea level.

"This site is believed to be the location of [the] ancient Thaj seaport in Al Jahra kingdom, which had taken control of [the] east of the Arabian Peninsula before Islam. Third century BC could be the possible date of the site, however, accurate dating could be given only after finalizing the layer tests."


UK: Glastonbury Abbey's pottery link to Dark Ages

© unknownRalegh Radford and Linda Witherill excavated Glastonbury Abbey in 1954
Pottery fragments from an excavation archive of Glastonbury Abbey have shown the site dates back to the Dark Ages, which is later than previously thought.

The research project into the 1951-1964 excavation archive have shown humans occupied the site in the late 4th or 5th centuries.

Archaeologist John Allan said: "We hadn't realised these periods were represented in the excavated pottery."

Other finds include "exotic" pottery from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.


Crocodile God Temple Featured Croc Nursery

Egyptian Temple
© Courtesy of Minister of State for AntiquitiesLions and sphinxes line the processional way to the temple at Madinet Madi.
Egyptian authorities put another archaeological site on the country's tourist map yesterday by opening a visitor center at Madinet Madi in the Fayoum region south of Cairo.

Founded during the reigns of Amenemhat III (about 1859-1813 B.C.) and Amenemhat IV (about 1814-1805 B.C.) of the 12th Dynasty, Madinet Madi contains the ruins of the only Middle Kingdom temple in Egypt.

Approached by a paved processional way lined by lions and sphinxes, the temple was dedicated to the cobra-headed goddess Renenutet, and the crocodile-headed god, Sobek of Scedet, patron god of the region.

Now almost forgotten by tourists, the site was swarming with pilgrims in ancient times.

Indeed, 10 Coptic churches dating from the 5th to 7th centuries and the remains of a Ptolemaic temple dedicated to the crocodile god were unearthed in the past decades by renowned Egyptologist Edda Bresciani of Pisa University, who has been excavating the area since 1978.


Ancient Cultures and Prehistoric Discoveries in Costa Rica

© Anita363The main plaza of Guayabo seen from above.

To most Costa Ricans - Ticos and expats alike - Costa Rican history begins with the arrival of the Spanish in 1502. Recent developments and archeological finds are painting a far different picture however. In fact, there is increasing evidence that ancient cultures thrived in the land of Pura Vida long before European explorers cast covetous eyes upon its beauty and natural riches.

Three archeological sites in various parts of the country give an interesting glimpse into pre-Columbian life: Guayabo and La Montana complex in Turrialba, the footpaths of Lake Arenal, and . Each site offers a different window into who the ancient Costa Ricans were and how they lived.


The first, and probably the most notable, is Guayabo de Turrialba. This 540 acre - which is roughly 219 hectares - site can be found in Turrialba on the southern slope of the Turrialba Volcano.

The Guayabo National Park monument was established to preserve the ruins of the city even as archeologists continue to unearth details about the settlement and those who lived there. To date, it is estimated that Guayabo was established and inhabited somewhere around 1500 B.C. During the height of its existence, the city may have held between 10,000 and 25,000 people. For unknown reasons, the settlement seems to have been abandoned by 1400 A.D.-nearly a century before the Spanish arrived. Curiously, no record was left by the Spanish as to whether they had discovered the location and, if so, what condition it was in.


India: Archeological find: Excavation Banned at Site to Stop Degradation

© unknownArchaeology Dept team to prepare preservation plan
The government on Friday issued a notification banning any excavation at the site where the ruins of a bridge supposedly from the Mughal era, have been discovered.

The Punjab Archaeology Department will send a team of technical staff, architects and civil engineers within a couple of days to the site for the documentation of the structure for preservation.

Nadia Saquib, the Ferozewala assistant commissioner, told The Express Tribune that she had prohibited all kinds of excavation at the site.

She said the land owners had been directed not to take any step that could harm the historic structure.

While the Punjab Archaeology Department said they were informed about the ruins by a revenue official, Saquib told The Tribune that the ruins were found during a visit by a city government team looking for land to set up a disposal plant.

She said she had informed the Punjab chief secretary, the culture and youth affairs secretary and the archaeology director about the discovery.

"It is now the duty of the departments concerned to preserve the site," she said.