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Fri, 02 Jun 2023
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Secret History


Vikings brought animals to England as early as the year 873

© Julian Richards/University of York
By analyzing cremated animal and human bones (shown), researchers say they have found the first solid scientific evidence of animals traveling with Vikings across the North Sea to England.
Vikings brought horses and dogs to the British Isles from Scandinavia, a new study suggests.

A chemical analysis of bone fragments from a cemetery in England provides the first solid scientific evidence of animals traveling with Vikings across the North Sea, scientists report February 1 in PLOS ONE.

In the 1990s, researchers unearthed the cremated remains of a human adult and child as well as of a dog, horse and probable pig from a burial mound in a Viking cemetery in Derbyshire, England. In previous work, radiocarbon dating of femur, skull and rib fragments revealed that the inhabitants all died sometime between the eighth and 10th centuries. That date was narrowed down to the year 873, thanks to the ninth-century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which records that a Viking army wintered near the site that year.

Comment: See also:


Edward M. Kennedy address at the public memorial service for Robert F. Kennedy

Senators Edward and Robert Kennedy RFK
© AP
Talking tactics, Senators Edward and Robert Kennedy sit together during a session of the Senate Labor Subcommittee in Washington, 1967.
Edward M. Kennedy Address at the Public Memorial Service for Robert F. Kennedy delivered 8 June 1968 at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York

Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Mr. President:

On behalf of Mrs. Kennedy, her children, the parents and sisters of Robert Kennedy, I want to express what we feel to those who mourn with us today in this Cathedral and around the world.

We loved him as a brother, and as a father, and as a son. From his parents, and from his older brothers and sisters -- Joe and Kathleen and Jack -- he received an inspiration which he passed on to all of us. He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side.

Comment: This speech is applicable today as it was in 1968 when it was given; perhaps more so. In times of turbulence and great change, it is up to the moral courage of the individual to birth the new world, not just the great men remembered in the history books. If not you, then who?

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Spreading Democracy, the American Way

USA Democracy
© Blue Moon of Shanghai
This is a list of all the "democracies" the US has installed in other countries over the years:
    1. ____________________
    2. ____________________
    3. ____________________
That's the entire list. You can see that it's blank. But how can that be? We all know that the US has freed dozens of nations from their evil and repressive governments, and installed loving democracies where people lived happily ever after, swamped with freedoms and overwhelmed with human rights. We know this because we've read and heard it hundreds, or maybe thousands, of times. It's in all the US history books. We've seen it in so many movies and even read it in comic books when we were kids. It must be true. So why is the list empty? How can that be? Sadly, the list is empty because everything we were told was a lie. It is often said that if you tell a lie five times, most people will believe it; the US as a "defender of democracy" is one of those lies.

In the West, we have for many decades been subject to an incessant barrage of high-sounding pronouncements about the US 'saving the world from communism' and promoting democracy and freedom throughout the world. But that has been little more than an effective propaganda campaign levied at the uninformed and simple-minded, since even a casual glance at the facts on the ground reveal something quite different. In fact, rather than promoting democracy and freedom, the opposite is true. The US has instead been promoting dictatorships and serfdom, and with great success over 60 or 70 years. We have a list below of 42 countries where the US not only installed and financed a brutal dictator, but often and repeatedly sent in arms and troops to put down local rebellions and revolutions against those installed friendly dictators.

For all the talk about promoting democracy and freedom, there is no instance - NO instance - where the US has ever removed a dictatorship and replaced it with any kind of benevolent government, electoral democracy or otherwise. You may be aware of the statements by Major-General Smedley Butler who claimed that during his 33 years as a US Marine, he functioned simply as "a gangster for capitalism" and that all wars were bankers' wars. On the topic of the US government installing democracies in the world, Butler himself denied such a thing had ever occurred, and said further, "The U.S. has routinely destroyed democracy throughout the globe while its leaders claimed to be spreading democracy."

But if the US didn't install "democracy" in all those places, what did they do? Well, while preaching democracy, freedom and human rights at home, the US government was actually running around the world installing dictatorships - about 50, at last count. Not only that, while boasting at home about defending democracy, the CIA and military were actually undermining and destroying functioning democracies and replacing them with dictatorships. There are many countries where the US military and/or CIA financed and led revolutions to depose electoral democracies and install a dictator, often by assassinating the incumbent president: Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Spain, Philippines, Zaire, Guatemala, Iran, Greece, Chile, Fiji, Nicaragua, Indonesia, The Congo.


The links between the British Royal Family and the slave trade

Elizabeth I

Profitable links between British royals and the slave trade began during the reign of Elizabeth I in the 16th century
The Tudor Queen was connected to Sir John Hawkins, who as a vice-admiral had helped defeat the Spanish Armada.

Later, in 1562, he shipped a cargo of slaves across the Atlantic. He traded the 300 Africans he had captured in Sierra Leone for pearls and sugar.

'His missions were so lucrative that Queen Elizabeth I sponsored his subsequent journeys and provided ships, supplies and guns. She also gave him a unique coat of arms bearing a bound slave,' according to Royal Museums Greenwich, which includes the National Maritime Museum.

Hawkins' trips began a grisly period in which millions of captured men, women and children were taken from West Africa to work in England's American colonies in the most horrific conditions.

Comment: See also: Whites were slaves in North Africa before blacks were slaves in the New World


First direct evidence of drug use as part of Bronze Age ritual ceremonies in Europe

Ancient Human Hair
© ASOME-Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
An analysis of human hair strands recovered from a burial site in Menorca, Spain, reveals that ancient human civilizations used hallucinogenic drugs derived from plants.

According to the researchers, the findings are the first direct evidence of ancient drug use in Europe, which may have been used as part of ritualistic ceremonies.

Previous evidence of prehistoric drug use in Europe was based on indirect evidence, such as the discovery of opium alkaloids in Bronze Age containers, the discovery of drug plant remains in ritualistic contexts, and the appearance of drug plants in artistic depictions.

Researchers detected scopolamine, ephedrine, and atropine in three replicated hair samples.

Atropine and scopolamine are naturally occurring substances in the nightshade plant family that can cause delirium, hallucinations, and altered sensory perception. Ephedrine is a stimulant derived from certain shrubs and pines that can boost excitement, alertness, and physical activity.

Elisa Guerra-Doce and colleagues noted in their study that, considering the potential toxicity of the alkaloids found in the hair, their handling, use, and applications represented highly-specialised knowledge.

Blue Planet

170,000 years ago in Africa ancient humans cooked and ate giant land snails, new study suggests

giant snail
© majivecka/Shutterstock.com
New research suggests humans cooked and ate giant land snails 170,000 years ago, in what is the earliest find of its kind.
We know the question that keeps you awake at night: when did humans start eating snails? Well, researchers have recently discovered the earliest evidence of prehistoric people cooking and eating these terrestrial mollusks. But while you might imagine a rustic version of modern escargot, the snails in question were actually enormous in comparison.

A team of researchers from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, have found shell fragments of land snails from the Achatinidae family - which can grow to 16 centimeters (6.3 inches) long - at Border Cave, located on a cliff near South Africa's border with Eswatini. The site has been excavated on multiple occasions since the 1930s, but it was during work conducted between 2015 and 2019 that the shell fragments of giant land snails were found.

Comment: See also:


How old is Gobekli Tepe? (updated)

Enclosure E, outside the main excavation area.
© Prehistory Decoded
Enclosure E, outside the main excavation area.
In an earlier post I suggested the earliest phase of construction of GT could be in the Younger Dryas period. This is because enclosure D is so well crafted and so large, that it is unlikely to have been the first construction of its kind. Other enclosures must have preceded it, acting as templates or precursors for its design.

Given that ground penetrating radar scans show that other large structures remain to be uncovered, and that the enclosures excavated so far represent only 5-10% of the site, it seems unlikely we have excavated the oldest parts already. This idea is reinforced by the existence of enclosure E outside the main excavation area. It seems to be a rougher and less precise example than enclosure D, and so could be a precursor. Since it is missing its walls and pillars, it is possible they were re-used in the construction of enclosure D.

But what about scientific evidence? Let's consider the facts. Regarding radiocarbon dates, the earliest radiocarbon dates reported so far for Göbekli Tepe are (Dietrich, 2013);

1. A measurement (KIA-44149) on charcoal particles from within mortar that binds the wall of enclosure D, from between pillars 41 and 42 in the north-west of the wall, with a (95.4%) calibrated radiocarbon age of 9,530 ± 200 BCE.

2. A measurement (UGAMS-10796) from a hearth just outside and north-east of enclosure D close to the bedrock, with a radiocarbon age (95.4%) of 9,530 ± 200 BCE.

Both of these measurements have been re-calibrated using the latest radiocarbon calibration curve (Reimer et al., 2020). Clearly, they are in excellent agreement.

Bad Guys

Ukraine 2014: The tipping point of terror

Part I of a CAM investigation into the origins of the Ukraine War: U.S. and NATO involvement in the February 2014 Coup and Maidan Massacre, and their historical antecedents

kyiv protesters
© nbcnews.com
Anti-government protesters clash with police in Kyiv on February 20, 2014.
As I write, the world is on the edge of nuclear and humanitarian crises after a year of the Ukraine "proxy" war with Russia. No single event can be seen as the sole cause, but the most dramatic lurch in the story was the "Revolution of Dignity" in Ukraine in November 2013 to February 2014, notably the horrific massacre of protesters and police in Maidan (Independence) Square on February 20, 2014.

Without dismissing the large sectors of Ukrainian society with legitimate grievances against corruption and stagnation, this was a bloody coup d'état, engineered largely by the U.S. over years with parts played by NATO puppets and local proxies. Viktor Yanukovych was elected in internationally recognized fair elections, and new elections were planned to occur within a year. But powerful interests and a large section of the public believed it could not wait as he could not be trusted. And he was chased out of the country like a hunted animal.

And, like all "color revolutions," despite the underlying legitimate grievances, it was no true upheaval or revolution at all, it was simply local elites of the same class switching their allegiances to another external power. As Ukrainian political researcher Volodymyr Ishchenko describes, four groups gained power after the violent 2014 coup: "the oligarchic opposition, the NGOs, the far right and Washington-Brussels."[1]

Many protesters congregated in Maidan Square from late November to February, sparked by the governments reticence to agree to the EU association agreement and its clauses on economic reform. Initially peaceful, the protests experienced periodic escalations in violence, often precipitated when things were settling down.


Millenniums-old tiger-patterned ritual weapon unearthed in east China

tiger-patterned axe-shaped stone relic
© Xinhua
This undated image combination shows file photos and sketches of a tiger-patterned axe-shaped stone relic unearthed at the Dinggeng Relics Site in Wuxi City, east China's Jiangsu Province.
Archaeologists found an extremely rare stone relic, an axe-shaped weapon used for rituals in ancient China, engraved with a tiger pattern, in Wuxi City in east China's Jiangsu Province. The relic dates back some 4,500 years, during the Liangzhu Culture period.

According to an expert consultation meeting held Saturday on the archaeological site of Dinggeng Relics Site, 16 archaeologists from home and abroad said it was the first time they had seen such a tiger-patterned stone relic, which they believed to be a symbol of power.


First ancient DNA from the Swahili civilization discovered by researcher

The site of tombs along the Swahili Coast
© Chapurukha Kusimba, University of South Florida
The site of tombs along the Swahili Coast in East Africa where University of South Florida anthropologist Chapurukha Kusimba and colleagues opened graves to study ancient DNA.
A University of South Florida anthropologist has uncovered the first ancient DNA from the Swahili Civilization, prosperous trading states along the coast of East Africa dating back to the 7th century.

From Kenya to Mozambique, Chapurukha Kusimba, a USF professor of anthropology, dedicated 40 years to studying the ancestry of those who built the civilizations - a debate that many Swahilis feel robbed them of their heritage for centuries.

"This research has been my life's work - this journey to recover the past of the Swahili and restore them to rightful citizenship," Kusimba said. "These findings bring out the African contributions, and indeed, the Africanness of the Swahili, without marginalizing the Persian and Indian connection."

Published in Nature, this work examines the DNA of 80 individuals from as long as 800 years ago - making it the first ancient DNA uncovered from the Swahili Civilization.

As part of his decades-long research, Kusimba, a Kenya native, spent time with the people of Swahili to gain their trust before receiving their approval to complete cemetery excavations. To respect the remains, Kusimba finished the sampling and re-burial process all in one season.