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Sherlock

The Obscure Mangiapane Cave in Sicily, Italy: Trapped in a time capsule

Mangiapane Cave
Mangiapane Cave (known also in Italian as Grotta Mangiapane) is a cave that has been occupied on and off since prehistoric times. In addition to being a prehistoric site, Mangiapane Cave is also well-known for being the location of a village that is reported to have been left untouched for the last 70 years. It is perhaps this aspect of the small village in Mangiapane Cave (i.e. being trapped in a time capsule) that draws people to visit this otherwise obscure site in Italy.

Magnify

Chinese archaeologists discover ancient burial site dating back 4,500 years

Ancient tombs dating back 4,500 years old have been found in China's Sichuan province
archeological dig
© Flickr/ Michael Abshear
An ancient cemetery with various tombs has been discovered in the district of Dai. According to the archaeological team head Chzhitsin Zhou, the tombs all differ from each other in style.

Chzhitsin Zhou said that it is the oldest and most well-preserved cemetery in in the plain of Chengdu.

Inside the tombs a number of remains were found, as well as numerous artefacts, including ceramic items.

Crusader

Cobalt and how the empires feed on Congo's treasure: America's military strategic Africom initiative

King Leopold

Belgians King Leopold (The Empire Files)
Every drone flown by the U.S. military has inside a piece of the Democratic Republic of the Congo--a valuable mineral, of which the DRC has trillions of dollars worth buried underground. For five centuries, the continent of Africa has been ravaged by the world's Empires for its vast untapped treasure. Today, the U.S. Empire is increasing it's military role through their massive command network, AFRICOM, carrying out several missions a day. With the Congo being arguably the biggest prize for imperialist powers, Abby Martin is joined by Kambale Musavuli, spokesperson for Friends of the Congo, to look at Empire's role in their history and current catastrophe.

Comment: For more on the historical realities of Africa and elsewhere:


Question

Dragon Stones: Armenia's mysterious vishap steles

serpent stones armenia
© CC by SA 3.0
Standing stones at the ruins of the Metsamor site.
A vishap stele (known also as vishapakar and vishap stone) is a type of stone monument that can be found in Armenia. These steles may be identified by the carvings on them, usually of fishes or snakes. Hence, the vishap steles have also been referred to as 'serpent stones' and 'dragon stones'. The vishap steles are considered a part of the rock art tradition of Armenia, and are therefore treasured as part of the country's rich heritage.

Dating the Vishap Steles

The vishap is said to be the Armenian word for dragon. According to Armenian legends, the vishaps were powerful creatures who lived in high mountains, in big lakes, or in the clouds. Representations of these mythical creatures are not limited to the vishap steles, but are also thought to have been depicted on other rock carvings found in the country.

Whilst it is at present extremely difficult for such petroglyphs to be dated, these images of the vishaps may have been made as early as prehistoric times, perhaps during the Neolithic period. In one source, the vishaps of these petroglyphs are the archetypes of dragons, and were later adopted by other civilizations to the west of Armenia.

Satellite

The ancient Peruvian mystery solved from space

These puzzling holes in the arid valleys of southern Peru tell us there was once a flourishing, sophisticated society here.

Nasca canals
© Ab5602/Wikimedia/Public Domain
The funnel-like shape helped to draw the wind down into the underground canals.
In one of the most arid regions in the world a series of carefully constructed, spiralling holes form lines across the landscape. Know as puquios, their origin has been a puzzle - one that could only be solved from space.

The holes are from the Nasca region of Peru - an area famous for the Nasca lines, several enormous geometric images carved into the landscape; immaculate archaeological evidence of ceremonial burials; and the rapid decline of this once flourishing society.

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Hourglass

Homo sapiens helped kill off Neanderthals with STDs and other diseases, study shows

Neanderthal man
© University of Utah
Research published earlier this year suggested that Neanderthal genes might have boosted our immunity and given us allergies, and now new research suggests that we may have returned the favor by infecting them with diseases we transported from Africa to Europe.

In the new study, which was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology this weekend, researchers from University of Cambridge and Oxford Brookes University reported that Neanderthals throughout Europe may have been infected by diseases that were brought there by Homo sapiens, and that said diseases may have contributed to their eventual demise.

Since both species were hominids, the researchers explained, it would have been easier for these pathogens make the jump from one species to another. Infections passed from modern humans to Neanderthals could have included tapeworm, tuberculosis, stomach ulcers, and herpes - all of which are chronic conditions that would have weakened the Neanderthals and made them less able to find food, thus harming the overall fitness of the species.

Hourglass

French cave paintings are 10,000 years older than originally thought, oldest in the world

cave painting
© Jean-Michel Geneste, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
The cave drawings in the Chauvet-Pont d'Arc, France may be taking back the crown for the oldest animal paintings on Earth, as an international team of scientists have found new evidence that they are 10,000 years older than previously believed.

Chauvet-Pont d'Arc is a cave located in the Ardèche département, a region that is found in south-central France. Discovered in 1994, it features human hand prints as well as drawings of 14 different animal species, ranging from cave bears to big cats. It was long believed to be the oldest known human-decorated cave in the world, with its artwork estimated to be from between 22,000-18,000 BCE.

However, in 2014, a cave on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia knocked Chauvet-Pont d'Arc off its pedestal, as researchers dated its animal paintings to roughly 35,000 years old. The Sulawesi cave also contained the earliest hand stencil, coming in at about 40,000 years old.

Sherlock

Possible 'lost Caravaggio' found in French attic causes rift in art world

Painting valued at up to €120m found by accident believed by many to be work of Renaissance master
Caravaggio, Judith beheading
© Charles Platiau/Reuters
The painting Judith Beheading Holofernes at its presentation in Paris. It may have been painted by Caravaggio (1571-1610) and could be worth €120m.
It could turn out to be an Italian Renaissance masterpiece by one of history's greatest painters; yet the mysterious 400-year-old canvas was only found by accident when the owners of a house near Toulouse went to fix a leak in the ceiling.

The large, remarkably well-preserved canvas of the beheading of the general Holofernes by Judith, from the apocryphal Book of Judith, was painted between 1600 and 1610, specialists estimate. And many experts believe it could be a work by the Milan-born master, Caravaggio.

Labelled the Caravaggio in the attic, France has put an export ban on the painting to stop it leaving the country while investigations are carried out.

Speaking to reporters, the painting expert Eric Turquin said it could be worth as much as €120m (£96m), describing the work as having "the light, the energy, typical of Caravaggio, without mistakes, done with a sure hand and a pictorial style that makes it authentic".

Hourglass

Cant, Polari and Gobbledygook: The anti-languages of the anti-societies

Elizabethan vagrants
© Alamy
Thomas Harman's book deciphered the elliptical slang used by Elizabethan vagrants to plan their crimes.
Could you erectify a luxurimole flackoblots? Have you hidden your chocolate cake from Penelope? Or maybe you're just going to vada the bona omi?

If you understand any of these sentences, you speak an English "anti-language". Since at least Tudor times, secret argots have been used in the underworld of prisoners, escaped slaves and criminal gangs as a way of confusing and befuddling the authorities.

Thieves' Cant, Polari, and Gobbledygook (yes, it's a real form of slang) are just a few of the examples from the past - but anti-languages are mercurial beasts that are forever evolving into new and more vibrant forms.

Question

Largest mysterious man-made sphere discovered in Bosnia

Bosnian stone sphere
© CEN/Piramidasunca.ba
What about this mysterious man-made sphere discovered by a controversial archeologist in Bosnia?The specialist claims this bizarre natural sphere is the world's oldest man-made sphere proving Europe has an advanced lost civilisation that used impressive technology more than 1,500 years ago.

The giant ball of rock has a radius of between four and five feet (1.2 to 1.5 metres) and is extremely iron rich. Semir Osmanagic discovered the 'stone ball' near the town Zavidovici in central Bosnia and Herzegovina and said it is the heaviest man-made ball in the world.
Bosnia and Herzegovia Map
© Piramidasunca.ba
Dr Osmanagic had previously hit the headlines for his work on the supposed existence of ancient pyramids in the Visoko Valley, which he believes are hidden in plain sight as a cluster of hills. The phenomenon of stone balls has been linked with ancient civilisations around the world with the most famous being the stone spheres of Costa Rica. In total there are around 300, weighing up to 15 tonnes, which are believed to have been created by the now extinct Diquis culture, potentially making them up to 1,500 years old.


It is unclear how they were created but it is believed they were first sculpted from a local stone before being hammered and polished with sand.
If the huge stone in Bosnia is found to be made by human hands, it would be the largest man-made stone ball ever found - twice as heavy as the Costa Rican ones.

But there seems to be no proof that the 'sphere' is anything more than an unusual product of nature at the moment. These images actually reminds me of the Moeraki boulders in New Zealand.

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