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Fri, 02 Jun 2023
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Better Earth

Modern-day Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish people have Pictish ancestry

© Peace Palace Library - Public Domain
During the Pre-Viking and Early Middle Ages around AD 300-900, the Picts inhabited the area north of the Forth-Clyde isthmus in Britain.
Most of what we know about the Picts can be deduced from Pictish stones and early medieval manuscripts. While very little Pictish writing has survived, much of its history is known from external sources, including Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, hagiography of saints' lives such as that of Columba by Adomnán, and the Irish annals.

Medieval traditions, including from the time of the Picts themselves, had ascribed exotic origins such as Thracians (north of the Aegean Sea), Scythians (eastern Europe), or people from the isles north of Britain.

In a new study published in the journal PLoS Genetics, researchers have extracted genomes sampled from Pictish burials to explore how they are related to other cultural groups in Britain.

Comment: For more on the mysterious Picts, see:


Roman military camps in desert found by archaeologists using Google Earth

An aerial view of the western camp.
An aerial view of the western camp.
Three new Roman fortified camps have been identified across northern Arabia by a remote sensing survey by the University of Oxford's School of Archaeology. Their paper, published today [Thurs] in the journal Antiquity, reports the discovery may be evidence of a probable undocumented military campaign across south east Jordan into Saudi Arabia.

The camps were identified using satellite images. According to the research team, they may have been part of a previously undiscovered Roman military campaign linked to the Roman takeover of the Nabataean Kingdom in AD 106 CE, a civilisation centred on the world-famous city of Petra, located in Jordan.

Dr Michael Fradley, who led the research and first identified the camps on Google Earth, suggests there is little doubt about the date of the camps. He says, 'We are almost certain they were built by the Roman army, given the typical playing card shape of the enclosures with opposing entrances along each side. The only notable difference between them is that the westernmost camp is significantly larger than the two camps to the east.'

According to Dr Mike Bishop, an expert on the Roman military, 'These camps are a spectacular new find and an important new insight into Roman campaigning in Arabia. Roman forts and fortresses show how Rome held a province, but temporary camps reveal how they acquired it in the first place.'


Norse colonists imported timber from North America to Greenland

© Shutterstock
A microscopic analysis has revealed that Norse colonists imported timber from Northern Europe and North America to Greenland.

Greenland, or Grœnland in Old Norse, was settled by Norwegian and Icelandic explorers in AD 985 or 986. The settlers established two colonies on the southwest coast: The Eastern Settlement or Eystribyggð, in what is now Qaqortoq, and the Western Settlement or Vestribygð, close to present-day Nuuk.

In a study published in the journal Antiquity, archaeologists from the University of Iceland have conducted a wood taxa analysis on pieces of timber found in 11th to 14th century AD Norse farmsteads.

The purpose of the study is to differentiate between native wood, imported wood, and driftwood, revealing that 0.27% of the wood was unambiguous imports, including oak, beech, hemlock and Jack pine. Another 25% of the total wood was either imported or driftwood, including larch, spruce, Scots pine and fir.

Comment: The following recent study reveals some of the environmental conditions that led to the abandonment of the settlements in Greenland: Sea-level rise caused by crustal subsidence contributed to Viking abandonment of Greenland, researchers believe

Blue Planet

1800-year-old ritual mask uncovered in Osaka Prefecture

mask japan
© Osaka Centre for Cultural Heritage
In an announcement by the Osaka Centre for Cultural Heritage, archaeologists have uncovered an 1800-year-old ritual mask in the Osaka Prefecture, Japan.

The discovery was made during excavations to extend the Osaka Monorail in the city of Higashiōsaka, where the team found a mask hewn from a cedar tree with a representation of a human face.

The mask measures around 30cm in height by 18cm wide and features two eye holes, a mouth, and a perforated hole surviving on one side that probably held string for holding the mask on the wearers face.

Comment: See also:

Blue Planet

Fossilized soot provides insight into history of Nerja cave, occupied by humans for 41,000 years

nerja cave
© Scientific Reports (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-32544-1
Image composition of the materials. (A) Black mark (dating number 33). (B) Micro-charcoal inside fixed lamp (dating number 43). (C) Scattered charcoals (dating number 54). (D) GN16-08 stalagmite section. The red arrows point to one of the samples, analyzed both by TEM–EDX and Raman micro-spectroscopy.
A new study reveals that Nerja is the European cave containing Paleolithic Art with the most confirmed and recurrent visits during Prehistory

For 41,000 years human beings have been visiting the Cave of Nerja; for a few of them, it has been exploited as a tourist attraction, and for almost the same amount of time, the object of scientific study. Throughout its history, and even today, it continues to stun visitors and researchers from around the world.

The latest surprise from the cave, located in the province of Malaga, was just published in Scientific Reports by an international team including researchers from the University of Córdoba; Marian Medina, currently at the University of Bourdeux; Eva Rodríguez; and José Luis Sachidrián, a Professor of Prehistory and the scientific director of the Cave of Nerja.


Astral Magic: The occult religion of modern cosmology

behind the veil
How the Renaissance revival of ancient alchemy birthed the mythos of modern science.

The European Renaissance was defined as a cultural rebirth, but what was it actually a rebirth of? This "rebirth" was a disastrous reintroduction of Hermeticism into European scholasticism, establishing the Hermetic tradition as a crucial factor in the development of modern science. Quite simply, the Renaissance was the rebirth of neoplatonic astral magic flooding into European culture.

This Hermetic dominance of modern scholastic thought can be quite obviously seen in its great impact on the Copernican revolution. With the entire Renaissance being funded by the Medici Italian banking family, their Laurentian library was the knowledge hub of Europe, housing countless occult manuscripts that ushered in the golden age of alchemy. As Erasmus of Rotterdam saw this alchemical obsession begin to unfold, he forewarned, "I have a fear and it is, that, with the study of ancient literature, ancient Paganism will reappear."

Copernicus worked out his heliocentric cosmological model under the mystical influence of Hermes Trismegistus, who is considered the founder of science, religion, mathematics, geometry, alchemy, philosophy, medicine, and magic. The notion that the sun is at the center of the cosmos and not the earth is a belief not found in the Bible but in the Heremetica of Hermes Trismegistus, a compilation of ancient esoteric texts believed to contain the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians. The author of the Arabic Hermetic text, the Pecatrix, wrote that Hermes built a temple to the sun, and in the Corpus Hermeticum V, it states that the sun is supreme among the gods of heaven. The Asclepius lists the sun as far greater than all the planets.

Bizarro Earth

Two mass extinctions occurred alongside massive volcanic eruptions 260 million years ago, new research reveals

eruption volcano
© Margaret Weiner/UC Marketing + Brand
Researchers discovered evidence that a mass extinction 260 million years ago was actually two events separated by 3 million years. Scientists say both likely were caused by volcanic eruptions.
Massive volcanic eruptions millions of years apart caused two mass extinctions during the Middle Permian Period, according to a study of uranium isotope profiles in marine samples. The findings highlight the potential effects of modern-day global warming on ocean food chains and the importance of addressing environmental issues to prevent further extinctions.

Long before dinosaurs, Earth was dominated by animals that were in many ways even more incredible.

Carnivores such as Titanophoneus, or "titanic murderer," stalked enormous armored reptiles the size of buffalo.

Comment: For more the role of volcanoes in mass extinctions, ancient, and those relatively recent, check out SOTT's: Volcanoes, Earthquakes And The 3,600 Year Comet Cycle


Ex-Russian counterspy chief reveals how Hitler tried to assassinate Stalin

© Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Joseph Stalin walks towards Red Square in Moscow, Russia.
Turncoats posed as agents of the SMERSH counterintelligence service in an attempt to get close to the Soviet leader...

A family of Nazi spies on a mission to assassinate Joseph Stalin impersonated the very people tasked to identify them - agents of the military security service SMERSH, a veteran Russian counterintelligence officer has said in an interview.

SMERSH was a Soviet wartime organization, the name of which translates as "death to spies." It was created in 1943, after the tide had turned against the Axis invaders, and the leadership of the USSR needed greater focus on collecting fresh intel for planning offensive operations and stopping would-be saboteurs.

Wednesday marked the 80th anniversary of the creation of SMERSH. Rossiyskaya Gazeta spoke on this occasion to Col. Gen. Aleksandr Bezverkhniy, a former Russian counterintelligence commander and enthusiast of the history of clandestine operations.

The plot to assassinate Stalin was hatched by Operation Zeppelin, Nazi Germany's effort to recruit Soviet citizens and use them against the USSR. The would-be killers were a married couple, who posed as Pyotr Tavrin, the deputy commander of a SMERSH department in the Baltic, and his typist Lidia Shilova.


How the English once planned to seize the Russian North

two knights/map
© Kira Lisitskaya Public Domain
When he was expanding diplomatic relations with England, the first Russian tsar, Ivan the Terrible, could hardly have anticipated that, shortly afterwards, his "partners" would want to turn part of the Tsardom of Muscovy into their own colony.
The English set foot on Russian soil for the first time on August 24, 1553. The Edward Bonaventure ship belonged to an English trading company known as the 'Mystery and Company of Merchant Adventurers for the Discovery of Regions, Dominions, Islands, and Places Unknown' and Richard Chancellor was its captain. The ship entered the mouth of the Northern Dvina and moored not far from the Nikolo-Korelsky Monastery, 35 km from Arkhangelsk. From there, Chancellor went to Kholmogory and then on to Moscow, where he handed Ivan the Terrible a letter from King Edward IV. From that moment on, the tsar allowed the British to trade in Russia.


Scientists solve mystery of how the Mayan calendar works

mayan calendar
© Joern Haufe//Getty Images
We were thinking too small all along.
The Mayan calendar's 819-day cycle has confounded scholars for decades, but new research shows how it matches up to planetary cycles over a 45-year span. That's a much broader view of the tricky calendar than anyone previously tried to take.

In a study published in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica, two Tulane University scholars highlighted how researchers never could quite explain the 819-day count calendar until they broadened their view.

"Although prior research has sought to show planetary connections for the 819-day count, its four-part, color-directional scheme is too short to fit well with the synodic periods of visible planets," the study authors write. "By increasing the calendar length to 20 periods of 819-days a pattern emerges in which the synodic periods of all the visible planets commensurate with station points in the larger 819-day calendar."

Comment: See also: The Seven Destructive Earth Passes of Comet Venus