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Mon, 21 May 2018
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DNA dates dog domestication back 33,000 years

Tibetan wolf
© Wikimedia Commons
Tibetan wolf. A subspecies of grey wolf similar to this is thought to have given rise to the world’s first dogs, according to new research.
All dogs alive today can trace at least some of their ancestry back to dogs that were domesticated 33,000 years ago in southern East Asia, suggests one of the most extensive ever investigations of canine DNA.

In addition to pinpointing the place and time for the earliest dog domestication, the new study, published in the journal Cell Research, found that the first domesticated dogs descended from grey wolves that likely came from China.

The research, conducted by an international team, further determined that dogs began to migrate out of East Asia and towards the Middle East and Africa 15,000 years ago. They then reached Europe in large numbers approximately 10,000 years ago. It appears that the dogs self-initiated the moves.

Sherlock

Julius Caesar battlefield unearthed in southern Netherlands

Julius Caesar
© Walter Sanders/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
Julius Caesar wrote about the battle in his account of the Gallic wars.
Archaeologists claim carbon dating of ancient weapons found in Kessel proves Roman emperor led massacre of Germanic tribes on Dutch soil

Archaeologists claim to have proved that Julius Caesar set foot on what is now Dutch soil, destroying two Germanic tribes in a battle that left about 150,000 people dead.

The tribes were massacred in the fighting with the Roman emperor in 55BC, on a battle site now in Kessel, in the southern province of Brabant.

Skeletons, spearheads, swords and a helmet have been unearthed at the site over the past three decades. But now carbon dating as well as other historical and geochemical analysis have proved the items dated to the 1st century, the VU University in Amsterdam said.

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6,000-year-old skeletons in French pit came from victims of violence

CIRCLE OF DEATH
© Bertrand Perrin/Antea
A circular pit excavated in France (left) contains the remains of eight people probably killed in a violent attack around 6,000 years ago. Seven severed left arms lay at the bottom of the pit. A diagram of the pit discoveries denotes bones of each individual in different colors.
Discovery of severed arms, cracked skull adds to debate over Neolithic circular pits

A gruesome discovery in eastern France casts new light on violent conflicts that took lives — and sometimes just limbs — around 6,000 years ago.

Excavations of a 2-meter-deep circular pit in Bergheim revealed seven human skeletons plus a skull section from an infant strewn atop the remains of seven human arms, say anthropologist Fanny Chenal of Antea Archéologie in Habsheim, France, and her colleagues.

Two men, one woman and four children were killed, probably in a raid or other violent encounter, the researchers report in the December Antiquity. Their bodies were piled in a pit that already contained a collection of left arms hacked off by axes or other sharp implements. Scattered hand bones at the bottom of the pit suggest that hands from the severed limbs had been deliberately cut into pieces.

Sherlock

Wreck full of ancient Roman "ketchup" found

garum
© Carabinieri Subacquei
Now a shelter to fish, the jars originally contained garum, a popular fish sauce.
Italian archaeologists have discovered the wreck of a Roman ship laden with thousands of jars containing the ketchup of the ancient Romans — a pungent, fish-based seasoning known as garum.

Considered a delicacy, the smelly liquid was mass produced in factories, especially in Spain and Portugal.

Resting at a depth of more than 650 feet in the waters off the Ligurian coast near Alassio, the vessel is estimated to be 98 feet long and dates between the first and the second century A.D.

The jars are now piled up on the seafloor. Ironically, they are a shelter to fish.

"From the size of the jar-made mound we estimate the ship was carrying between 2,000 and 3,000 amphoras, or clay jars," team leader Simon Luca Trigona, coordinator of the technical services of underwater archaeology at the archaeological superintendency of Liguria, told Discovery News.

Fire

'This Gulf of Fire': The cataclysmic earthquake that leveled Lisbon

Fire

Mark Molesky’s richly readable new book “This Gulf of Fire” chronicles the catastrophic earthquake of 1755 that left Lisbon in ruins, killed almost 40,000 people in the city alone, and irrevocably altered the history of Portugal.
First came the earthquake. Then came the tsunami. Then came the all-consuming fire.

Economic chaos and a political power vacuum followed — from which a dictatorship arose.

Mark Molesky's richly readable This Gulf of Fire: The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason paints an astonishing picture of the natural cataclysm that struck Lisbon on Nov. 1, 1755. But it goes well beyond that, too.

Molesky examines the historical consequences the earthquake had for Portugal. He weighs its effect on European thought (his title is borrowed from Voltaire). He traces how it spread as a news event across Europe and the Atlantic. He also argues that European aid to Portugal constituted "the first international relief effort in world history."

Santa

Magical characters of winter from Russia: Meet Father Frost and his fairy god-daughter Snow Maiden

Ded Moroz and Snegurochka in the sleigh.
© Goodfon.ru
Ded Moroz and Snegurochka in the sleigh.
Ded Moroz, translated to (Grand)father Frost, or Old Man Frost, is a legendary Slavic character that makes his rounds every New Year's Eve. Along with his companion, Snegurochka, he brings delight to children as the two provide the little ones with gifts.

Although there are undoubtedly similarities between the character of Ded Moroz and another jolly man dressed in red who delivers presents, there are certain traits of this famous icon that differ from his western counterpart as well.

Origins and Characteristics of Ded Moroz

Ded Moroz

Postcard of Ded Moroz by Matorin Nikolay Vasilyevich from 1917.
Ded Moroz is a holiday character that has been transformed over the years. Pre-dating Christianity, Ded Moroz was a Slavic wizard, or demon, of winter. As legends show, the modern Ded Moroz favors the kind, gentle, and hardworking, but also is ready to punish any who are mean or lazy.

He was not always this way however, and today's Father Frost, was once the ancient Morozko who, according to Russia Info Centre, was "a powerful hero and smith who chains water with his "iron" frosts." Russian folk tales told of people "feeding" Morozko oatmeal kissel or kutya (boiled rice with raisins and honey) so he would not freeze their plants.

The darker side of Ded Moroz is also made apparent in Nikolai Nekrasov's poem "Moroz - Red Nose;" a tale telling of Ded Moroz killing a peasant widow and orphaning her children. This cruel wizard of winter was also capable in the past of kidnapping children, and only returning them when their parents provided him with gifts.

Read more here.

Heart - Black

Gandhi was a racist who forced young girls to sleep in bed with him

Gandhi
© Getty Images
Gandhi in 1942.
Be the self-righteous misogynist you wish to see in the world.

In August 2012, just before India's 65th Independence Day, Outlook India, one of the country's most widely circulated print magazines, published the results of a blockbuster poll it had conducted with its readership. Who, after "the Mahatma," was the greatest Indian to have walked the country's soil? The Mahatma at the center of this smarmy question was, of course, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

There's nothing surprising about the fact that Outlook passed this assumption off as truth. Gandhi has become the obvious, no-duh barometer for Indian greatness, if not greatness in general. After all, who doesn't like Gandhi? We've come to know him as this frail, nobly malnourished old man with a purely moral, pious soul. He's a guy who ushered in a new grammar of nonviolent resistance to India, a country he helped escape the constraints of British imperial rule. He soldiered through some valiant hunger strikes until a Hindu nationalist shot, killed, and effectively martyred him.

My maternal grandfather went to jail with Gandhi in 1933, so I grew up knowing this myth was cobbled together from half-truths. My grandfather took the lessons he'd learned in jail to begin an ashram in the bowels of West Bengal. As a consequence, my parents raised me with an intimate understanding of Gandhi that teetered between laudatory and critical. My family adored him, though we never really bought into the idea that he single-handedly orchestrated India's independence movement. This is to say nothing of Gandhi's bigotry, which we didn't touch in our household. In the decades since his assassination in 1948, the image of Gandhi has been constructed so carefully, scrubbed clean of its grimy details, that it's easy to forget that he predicated his rhetoric on anti-blackness, a vehement allergy to female sexuality, and a general unwillingness to help liberate the Dalit, or "untouchable," caste.

Gandhi lived in South Africa for over two decades, from 1893 to 1914, working as a lawyer and fighting for the rights of Indians—and only Indians. To him, as he expressed quite plainly, black South Africans were barely human. He referred to them using the derogatory South African slur kaffir. He lamented that Indians were considered "little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa." In 1903, he declared that the "white race in South Africa should be the predominating race." After getting thrown in jail in 1908, he scoffed at the fact that Indians were classed with black, not white, prisoners. Some South African activists have thrust these parts of Gandhi's thinking back into the spotlight, as did a book published this past September by two South African academics, but they've barely made a dent on the American cultural consciousness beyond the concentric circles of Tumblr.

Pirates

How the Nazi network and ideology retained power in Germany's Interior Ministry after WWII

Reinhard Gehlen

US War Department's Identification Card for Hans Holbein aka Reinhard Gehlen - infamous Nazi General protected and employed by the U.S. Gov't
The German Interior Ministry (BMI) employed more former Nazis after the Second World War than previously thought. Between 1949 and the beginning of the 1970s, there were more former Nazis in leading positions than in other ministries, such as the foreign office or the justice ministry, which were also teeming with former Nazis.

This was demonstrated in the concluding report of a preliminary study by historians, which appeared on October 29. In December 2014, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière ordered a project group, led by Professor Frank Bösch (ZZF Potsdam) and Andreas Wirsching (IfZ Munich-Berlin), to study the role of National Socialists in the Interior Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Interior Ministry of former Stalinist East Germany (GDR).

The Interior Ministry had blocked such a study for longer than most of the other ministries and authorities. Since they had something to hide, this is not surprising! Immediately after the founding of the BMI in 1949, half of all newly hired department heads, branch and subdivision leaders were former members of the Nazi Party. This percentage rose to 66 percent between 1956 and 1961. This number in the Interior Ministry was only exceeded by the number in the Federal Criminal Office (BKA), which is under the control of the Interior Ministry. The proportion of ex-Nazis in the BKA was 75 percent.

Comment: Given the above analysis, one shudders to think how modern day Germany is in a position to effect the lives of so many Muslim refugees who are basically at their mercy.

See: Refugee crisis in Germany - Nazis on the rise - 'Never again' is happening again


Pyramid

The Great Pyramid of Cholula: Little known but recognized as largest pyramid in the world by volume

Great Pyramid of Cholula
© Diego Delso/CC-BY-SA 3.0
A section of the ruins of the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
Mesoamerica is home to a number of pyramids. Some of these pyramids are quite well-known, whilst others are much more obscure. Despite being recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest pyramid in the world, one of the less familiar pyramids is the Great Pyramid of Cholula.

It should be mentioned here that the Great Pyramid of Cholula (which actually functioned as a temple) is the largest pyramid in the world in terms of its volume. The volume of the Cholula pyramid is estimated to be 4.45 million cubic meters (157.2 million cubic feet). By comparison, the Great Pyramid of Giza, though about 2.5 times the height of the Great Pyramid of Cholula, has a volume of 2.5 million cubic meters (88.3 million cubic feet).

Location and Construction of the Great Pyramid of Cholula

The Great Pyramid of Cholula is located just outside Puebla, the fourth largest city in modern day Mexico. This pyramid was dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, one of the most important deities of the Mesoamerican pantheon and during pre-Colombian times, Cholula was a large city and the religious center of highland Mexico.

Info

Buried towers and spiral structure discovered at Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat_1
© Khmer Archaeology Lidar Consortium (KALC)
At Angkor Wat, a massive sand structure encompassing several rectangular spirals was discovered using a laser-scanning technique called LiDAR.
Eight buried towers and the remains of a massive spiral structure created from sand have been discovered at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

The massive structure — almost a mile long — contains a spiral design, with several rectangular spirals that form a giant structure, archaeologists say. "This structure, which has dimensions of more than 1,500 m × 600 m (about 1 mile by 1,970 feet) is the most striking discovery associated with Angkor Wat to date. Its function remains unknown and, as yet, it has no known equivalent in the Angkorian world," Roland Fletcher, a University of Sydney professor, said in a statement put out by the university.

Today, the spiral structure is hard to make out on the ground, having been obscured by modern features and vegetation.

By examining the mile-long spiral structure and the stone towers, researchers date them back to when Angkor Wat was first built in the 12th century A.D. [See Photos of the Spiral Structure and Buried Towers at Angkor Wat]

King Suryavarman II had Angkor Wat built as a Hindu temple to the god Vishnu. The temple has a 213-foot-tall (65 meters) central tower that is surrounded by four smaller towers and a series of enclosure walls. The layout "is considered to correspond with the cosmology of Mount Meru and the surrounding Sea of Milk from which ambrosia was churned by the gods and demons," wrote a research team in an article published this month in the journal Antiquity.

Antiquity recently published a special section dedicated to the latest archaeological research at Angkor Wat.