Welcome to Sott.net
Fri, 02 Jun 2023
The World for People who Think

Secret History

Better Earth

Long-distance voyaging among Pacific Islands during the last millennium revealed in analysis of stone artifacts

© Aymeric Hermann
Emae Island in Central Vanuatu.
Polynesian peoples are renowned for their advanced sailing technology and for reaching the most remote islands on the planet centuries before the Europeans reached the Americas. Through swift eastward migrations that are now well covered by archaeological research, Polynesian societies settled virtually every island from Samoa and Tonga to Rapa Nui/Easter Island in the east, Hawai'i in the north, and Aotearoa/New Zealand in the south. But little is known about Polynesian migrations west of the 180th meridian.

In order to better understand the relationship between these Polynesian societies of the western Pacific, Melanesia and Micronesia — often referred to as "Polynesian Outliers" — a multidisciplinary team of researchers analyzed the geochemical signature of stone artifacts collected in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and the Caroline Islands between 1978 and 2019. An international research team, led by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, was able to identify the geological origin of these artifacts after comparing their geochemical and isotopic compositions with reference datasets of natural rocks and archaeological quarries in the region.

Comment: See also:


Leaked files: Britain's secret propaganda ops in Yemen


British intelligence and the war on Yemen
Leaked files reveal that British intel used local Yemeni NGOs and social media in a covert campaign to undermine the Sanaa government and influence the war-torn country's peace process.

Yemen's civil war, considered the world's gravest humanitarian crisis, appears to be nearing its end due to a China-brokered detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia, who support opposing sides in the bitter conflict.

Early signs suggest that the rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh may not only end hostilities in Yemen, but across the wider region.

The US, Israel, and Britain have the most to lose from a sudden onset of peace in West Asia. In the Yemeni context, London may be the biggest loser of all. For years, it provided the Saudi-led coalition with weaponry used to target civilians and civilian infrastructure, with receipts running into billions of pounds sterling.


Archaeologists studying an enigmatic stone structure in the Saudi Arabian desert have turned up evidence of a Neolithic cultic belief

More than 260 fragments of animal bones have been found at the monument.
The excavated mustatil with its head oriented to the east.
© Kennedy et al., 2023, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0.
The excavated mustatil with its head oriented to the east.
The excavation of an enigmatic stone monument in AIUIa in Saudi Arabia is offering fresh insight into the rituals and culture of Neolithic-era peoples.

Called a "mustatil," the structure is one of about 1,600 such rectangular monuments that have been recorded across northern Arabia. As part of a five-year project by the University of Western Australia and the Royal Commission for AlUla, researchers are studying one particular mustatil, dating back 7,000 years, with large slabs of sandstone encircling a long inner courtyard.

The architectural features of a mustatil.
© Kennedy et al., 2023, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0.
The architectural features of a mustatil.
Within the 140-meter (460-foot) long complex, archaeologists identified 260 fragments of animal remains, namely the skulls, horns, and teeth of domestic cattle such as goats and gazelles.

Better Earth

Secrets of 9,000 year old female shaman burial in Germany revealed

© Juraj Lipták
An impressive selection of grave goods including roe deer antlers (top) that could have been worn as a headdress and boars' teeth (middle) and tusks (above) with holes drilled in them enabling them to be suspended from an animal skin were found in a 9,000-year-old shaman's burial.
Bad Dürrenberg is a modest spa town in eastern Germany, perched on a bluff overlooking the Saale River. On a Friday afternoon in 1934, workers were laying pipe to supply the spa's fountain with water when they came across red-tinted earth. A local teacher was quickly called to come to the trench. He began to dig and alerted an archaeologist named Wilhelm Henning based in the nearby city of Halle. By the time Henning arrived, the teacher had uncovered flint blades, mussel shells, roe deer remains, and wild boar tusks.

Given just a few hours to work before the trench had to be filled in, Henning salvaged what he could, pulling human bones from the earth and trying to recover as many as possible. A rough sketch made during the dig, now in the archives of the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, shows a skeleton placed as if seated in a shallow pit, along with the approximate location and outlines of the original ditch.

Comment: See also:


Stalin against the Jews: How the Soviet dictator lost his last fight

70 years ago, the Georgian strongman's death brought an end to persecution of the religious minority and the infamous "Doctor's Case"
Stalin's Jew persecution
© RT
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's "purges," targeted at groups of his perceived rivals, are a unique historical and psychological phenomenon as well as the subject of considerable research. In the 1920s, the Georgian indiscriminately eliminated political competitors from opposing parties and classes, former White Army officers, and workers of the tsarist military-industrial complex. In the 1930s, he went after internal party opponents, the entire leadership of the Red Army, and the NKVD (forerunner to the KGB). Fortunately, the terror was briefly halted during World War Two.

By the end of the conflict, the search for internal enemies guilty of "impeding the construction of communism" resumed. The new enemy of the Stalinist regime was presented in the image of a cosmopolitan and... a Jew. The so-called 'Doctors' Case' was to become the highlight of this new anti-Semitic purge, but the legal process was abruptly closed immediately after Stalin's death.

Comment: See also:


Archaeologists have uncovered the first human representations of the people of mythical Tartessos

ancient sculptures
© Institute of Archeology of Mérida/Csic
The ornate depiction of the stone busts, as well the inclusion of jewellery (hoop earrings) and their particular hairstyles, resemble ancient sculptures from the Middle East and Asia.
Archaeologists representing Spain's National Research Council (CSIS) excavating at the site of Casas del Turunuelo have uncovered the first human representations of the ancient Tartessos people.

The incredible results of an excavation that shed light on a mysterious and ancient civilization that flourished in southern Spain several centuries before Christ have been presented by Spain's National Research Council.

The Tartessians, who are thought to have lived in southern Iberia (modern-day Andalusia and Extremadura), are regarded as one of the earliest Western European civilizations, and possibly the first to thrive in the Iberian Peninsula.

In the southwest of Spain's Iberian Peninsula, the Tartessos culture first appeared in the Late Bronze Age. The culture is distinguished by a blend of local Paleo-Hispanic and Phoenician traits, as well as the use of a now-extinct language known as Tartessian. The Tartessos people were skilled in metallurgy and metal working, creating ornate objects and decorative items.

Archaeologists from Spain's National Research Council (CSIS) on Tuesday presented the amazing results of excavation at the Casas de Turuuelo dig in Badajoz, in southwest Spain, as well as the results of the excavation.

Five busts, damaged but two of which maintain a great degree of detail, are the first human and facial representations of the Tartessian people that the modern world has ever seen.


Ancient DNA reveals the multiethnic structure of Mongolia's first nomadic empire

The Xiongnu dominated the Eurasian steppes two millennia ago and foreshadowed the rise of the Mongol Empire.
The Xiongnu Tribe
© Artwork by Galmandakh Amarsanaa, courtesy of Christina Warinner and the DairyCultures Project
The Xiongnu built a multiethnic empire on the Mongolian steppe that was connected by trade to Rome, Egypt, and Imperial China.
The Xiongnu, contemporaries of Rome and Egypt, built their nomadic empire on the Mongolian steppe 2,000 years ago, emerging as Imperial China's greatest rival and even inspiring the construction of China's Great Wall. In a new study researchers find that the Xiongnu were a multiethnic empire, with high genetic diversity found across the empire and even within individual extended elite families. At the fringes of the empire, women held the highest positions of power, and the highest genetic diversity was found among low-status male servants, giving clues to the process of empire building that gave rise to Asia's first nomadic imperial power.

Long obscured in the shadows of history, the world's first nomadic empire - the Xiongnu - is at last coming into view thanks to painstaking archaeological excavations and new ancient DNA evidence. Arising on the Mongolian steppe 1,500 years before the Mongols, the Xiongnu empire grew to be one of Iron Age Asia's most powerful political forces - ultimately stretching its reach and influence from Egypt to Rome to Imperial China. Economically grounded in animal husbandry and dairying, the Xiongnu were famously nomadic, building their empire on the backs of horses. Their proficiency at mounted warfare made them swift and formidable foes, and their legendary conflicts with Imperial China ultimately led to the construction of the Great Wall.

However, unlike their neighbors, the Xiongnu never developed a writing system, and consequently historical records about the Xiongnu have been almost entirely written and passed down by their rivals and enemies. Such accounts, largely recorded by Han Dynasty chroniclers, provide little useful information on the origins of the Xiongnu, their political rise, or their social organization. Although recent archaeogenetics studies have now traced the origins of the Xiongnu as a political entity to a sudden migration and mixing of disparate nomadic groups in northern Mongolia ca. 200 BCE, such findings have raised more questions than answers.

To better understand the inner workings of the seemingly enigmatic Xiongnu empire, an international team of researchers at the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology and Geoanthropology, Seoul National University, the University of Michigan, and Harvard University conducted an in-depth genetic investigation of two imperial elite Xiongnu cemeteries along the western frontier of the empire: an aristocratic elite cemetery at Takhiltyn Khotgor and a local elite cemetery at Shombuuzyn Belchir. "We knew that the Xiongnu had a high degree of genetic diversity, but due to a lack of community-scale genomic data it remained unclear whether this diversity emerged from a heterogeneous patchwork of locally homogenous communities or whether local communities were themselves genetically diverse," explains Juhyeon Lee, first author of the study and PhD student at Seoul National University. "We wanted to know how such genetic diversity was structured at different social and political scales, as well as in relation to power, wealth, and gender."

Better Earth

Sea-level rise caused by crustal subsidence contributed to Viking abandonment of Greenland, researchers believe

sea level rise
© Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2209615120
Regional setting and ice history. (A) The Eastern Settlement of Southern Greenland. The inset shows the entirety of Greenland; dark gray depicts grounded ice cover at present, light gray is land, and white is ocean. Eight black stars show locations of the Viking sites considered herein and also Nanortalik, where Late Holocene relative sea-level data have been collected (11). B is Brattahlid, D is Dyrnaes, G is Gardar, H is Hvalsey, N is Narsaq, N2 is Nanortalik, S1 is Site 1, S2 is Site 2, and uS is Undir Solarfjollum. (B) The tetrahedral grid across Southern Greenland used in the sea-level simulation (top 72 km of Earth’s interior is shown in light gray; surface shading reflects grid resolution and is discussed in Material and Methods Section 3B) with ice mask (blue to white gradient) overlain. The ice mask is estimated from ref. 12. The yellow box shows an area encompassing the Eastern Settlement and the area of ice growth (the same area is shown in Fig. 3A). The green box shows an area with several important Viking settlements, where coastal flooding is assessed (also seen in Fig. 4A). For more details, Section 3A. (C) Time-varying growth for our ice history, normalized to a maximum value of 1.0, and adapted from refs. 13–15.
Vikings occupied Greenland from roughly 985 to 1450, farming and building communities before abandoning their settlements and mysteriously vanishing. Why they disappeared has long been a puzzle, but a new paper from the Harvard University Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) determines that one factor — rising sea level — likely played a major role.

"There are many theories as to what exactly happened," to drive the Vikings from their settlements in Greenland, said Marisa J. Borreggine, lead author of the "Sea-Level Rise in Southwest Greenland as a Contributor to Viking Abandonment," which published this week [April 17] in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"There's been a shift in the narrative away from the idea that the Vikings completely failed to adapt to the environment and toward arguments that they were faced with a myriad of challenges, ranging from social unrest, economic turmoil, political issues, and environmental change," said Borreggine, a doctoral candidate in the Harvard Griffin GSAS in EPS.

Comment: Echoes of our world today.

Comment: See also: Viking-era Afro-Eurasian trade networks pushed back as far as 750CE with new dating technique


Japan's mysterious 'Rock Ship of Masuda' monolith

Masuda Monolith
© Wikimedia
Located in the Takaichi District of Nara Prefecture, Japan, the village of Asuka is famous for its mysterious stones. The ancient origins of the village date back to the Tumulus period, also known as Kofun Jidai (c. 3rd century-538 C.E.).

Kofun Jidai period (AD 250-552) is characterized by a specific type of earth mound in the shape of a key and surrounded by moats. However, the area is known for its many Buddhist temples, shrines, and statues.

Stone monuments that do not match Buddhist-style sculptures or construction on the hills surrounding Asuka attracts curious visitors and explorers.

Masuda-no-iwafune (literally "Rock Ship of Masuda", 益 田 岩 船 in Japanese), or Rock Ship of Masuda, is the name of the largest of these monuments. Its function is still unknown and it is located atop a hill close to Okadera Station. The largest of the mysterious rock mounds, the rock ship is made of solid granite and measures 11 meters (36 feet) by 8 meters (26 feet), 4.5 meters high (15 feet), and weighs approximately 800 tons as it stands. It's a carved mound, with two holes each about a meter square in the center, going through to the ground.


Pre-Hispanic ceremonial center with unknown characteristics was discovered in the Andes

Photograph and site plan of Waskiri
© P. Cruz
Photograph and site plan of Waskiri.
While investigating at Waskiri, near the Lauca River and the Bolivian-Chilean border, archaeologists found an impressive circular construction on a small hill at the site.

The Waskiri structure, which surprised researchers with its large dimensions and design, is a pre-Hispanic ceremonial center with unknown features in the Andes, according to the researchers.

The study authors say the "surprising" construction is unlike any other ever found in the Andes.

Although Waskiri has never been mentioned in the archaeological record, a priest from Spain named Bartolomé Alvarez, who visited Carangas in the 1580s, does seem to have made a reference to it.

Describing the rituals that took place at the site, Álvarez wrote of attendees in a state of "solemn drunkenness" entering what he called the "house and business of hell.