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Canadian paleontologists reveal earthly origins of mysterious Tibetan footprints. But are they right?

Image
© Wikipedia Commons, Photo Handout
Painting of King Gesar, the hero of an epic poem at the heart of Tibetan history. When giant, human-shaped footprints were found stamped in rock at a construction site in Tibet in 1999, local residents celebrated what they believed to be the discovery of ancient traces of the legendary King Gesar.
When giant, human-shaped footprints were found stamped in rock at a construction site in Tibet in 1999, local residents celebrated what they believed to be the discovery of ancient traces left by the legendary figure King Gesar, the hero of an epic poem at the heart of Tibetan history. But two leading Canadian paleontologists have published a study revealing the more earthly origins of the metre-long prints - an enormous dinosaur that made tracks along a Tibetan mudflat about 150 million years ago.

The finding, due to appear in the next issue of the Geological Bulletin of China, represents the first documented dinosaur trackway in Tibet. But it isn't likely to deter locals from leaving respectful offerings to King Gesar at the site of the fossilized footfalls, says the University of Alberta scientist who led the study.

Lida Xing, who co-authored the footprint study with his U of A colleague and famed fossil hunter Philip Currie, said the research site in Tibet was frequently shrouded with gifts left by local residents as a tribute to the mythic king.

Magnify

Neanderthal faces were not adapted to cold

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© Ther Neanderthaler Fund
First reconstruction of Neanderthal man
New research into Neanderthal skulls suggests that facial features believed for over a century to be adaptations to extreme cold are unlikely to have evolved in response to glacial periods after all.

Neanderthal faces had prominent cheekbones and wide noses previously thought to have developed in extremely cold periods because large sinuses were needed to warm air as it was inhaled. One problem with this theory is that modern people such as the Inuits, and other mammals living in Arctic regions have not developed large sinuses, and their sinuses are often smaller, and another problem is that it has never been proven that Neanderthal sinuses were larger.

A team led by Dr Todd C. Rae from the Centre for Research in Evolutionary Anthropology at Roehampton University in the UK took previously published measurements of X-Rays and new data from three-dimensional (3D) computer tomography (CT) scans of nine Neanderthal skulls, all dated at over 28,000 years old. They then collected measurements from four Homo sapiens skulls from archaeological sites in Lithuania and dated from 300 to 1,500 years old. They compared the two sets of measurements to determine how large the sinuses of Neanderthals actually were.

They used medieval Homo sapiens skulls rather than present-day skulls because they wanted data from a period before air conditioning and central heating, which could have affected the results.

Info

Archaeologists: Human Settlement in Syria Dates Back to One Million Years

Ancient Civilization
© Global Arab Network

Syria (Lattakia) - Director General of the Department of Archaeology and Museums Bassam Jamous affirmed that humans inhabited Syria one million years ago on the banks of Orontes, Euphrates and the Great Northern River and later the Syrian Desert.

In a lecture on new archeological finds in Syria during the past ten years, Jamous pointed out that recent studies revealed that humans settled in al-Dedariya Cave north of Aleppo, central Syria, where human skeletons dating back to 100,000 years ago.

Over the past ten years, the Department of Archaeology and Museums documented over 10,000 archaeological sites across Syria, 600 of which date back to prehistory.

Jamous noted that recent discoveries prove that the first villages with circular houses were established during the 10th millennium BC in the middle Euphrates area and Jadet al-Magharra site in Aleppo countryside.

In Damascus Countryside, three sites were discovered: Tal Aswad, a-Ramad and Ghrefi. They contain several buildings indicating urban development dating back to the 7th millennium BC.

In 2010, the Department announced the discovery of a village called "al-Jerf al-Ahmar" on the banks of the Euphrates, which showed an example of a pictography predating hieroglyphs. The village contained circular houses without pillars that are still standing after 11,000 years.

Question

2,100-yr-old Greek Coin Offers Insights Into Rare Astronomical Event

Ancient Greek Coin
© Unreported Heritage News
New research suggests that this coin marks an eclipse of Jupiter by the moon.
It happened on January 17, 121 BC and was visible in Antioch, the capital of the Seleucid Empire. The coin itself show Zeus with a crescent moon above his head and a star like object hovering above the palm of his right hand.
An unusual Greek coin, minted around 120 BC, may have marked a moment in time when people in ancient Syria saw Jupiter being blocked out by the moon.

On one side is a portrait of Antiochos VIII, the king who minted it. On the reverse is a depiction of Zeus, either nude or half-draped, holding a sceptre in his left hand. Above the god's head is the crescent of the moon, and his right arm is outreached with a star like figure (that may in fact be Jupiter) hovering just above his palm.
"Nobody ever re-used this iconography again - it was a one off," said Professor Robert Weir, of the University of Windsor in Canada, who presented his research recently at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Antiochos VIII was ruler of the Seleucid Empire, a kingdom created by one of Alexander the Great's officers, after the great conqueror died in 323 BC. By the time of Antiochos this realm was composed of a rump of territory centred on the city of Antioch, in south-eastern Turkey.

The empire had been in decline for some time, with the Parthians gaining territory in the east, the Romans in the west and the Hasmoneans, a dynasty of Jewish kings, coming to power in the south.

Antiochos's rise to the throne was brutal to say the least. His mother was a woman named Cleopatra Thea, and he started his rule having to share the throne with her. "She was a very oppressive, domineering sort of woman as far as we can gather," said Professor Weir. "She had just killed his brother for no good reason."

Perhaps fearing for his own life Antiochos VIII had her put to death in 121 BC, making him sole ruler of what was left of the Seleucid kingdom.

Sherlock

Researchers find neolithic site

Image
© unknown
A string of neolithic posthole sites, considered to be used by ancient people for the construction of pillared halls, have been found in Palakkad district in south Indian state .

A group of researchers, led by V Sanal Kumar, Director of the Palakkad-based Geo-Heritage Archaeology Research Centre, recently unearthed around 13 such sites in various locations of the district.

While a large number of sites were found in the rocky plateaus at Thenmala in Western Ghats in the Palakkad gap zone, some others were found on the banks of Ikshumathipuzha--a tributary of the Gayathripuzha flowing through Kollengode, Muthalamada and Elevanchery here.

The remnants of a similar site was also found at Polpully, about 20 km away from Thenmala, researchers said.

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34,000-Year-Old Bacteria Discovered

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© unknown
34,000-year-old bacteria were found in ancient salt crystals dug up for research from deep below Death Valley - a surprising discovery of sci-fi proportions.

Scientist Brian Schubert made the bacteria discovery after taking a second look at 34,000-year-old crystals that had been originally dug for climate research. What he discovered, according to LiveScience.com, was astonishing - ancient bacteria within "tiny, fluid-filled chambers inside the salt crystals."

"It was actually a very big surprise to me," said Brian Schubert.

Because salt crystals grow quickly, they essentially imprison anything that happens to be nearby, "akin to naturally made, miniature snow-globes."

Arrow Down

Armenia: World's Earliest Winery Discovered 6,100 Years After Producing its Last Vintage

The world's oldest winery has been uncovered in a remote cave in the mountains of Armenia.

A grape press, fermentation jars and even a cup and drinking bowl dating to about 6,100 years ago were discovered by an international team of researchers.

While older evidence of wine drinking has been found, this is the earliest example of complete wine production, according to Gregory Areshian of the University of California, Los Angeles, co-director of the excavation.

Image
© Reuters
Archaeologist Levon Petrosyan looks at a 6,100-year-old wine-making equipment discovered by an international project at the excavations of the Areni-1 cave complex in Armenia

Sherlock

London's oldest structure discovered

A team from Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) has discovered London's oldest structure on the foreshore of the Thames just metres from the MI6 building in Vauxhall.

As they surveyed the foreshore in spring of 2010, archaeologists from TDP found six timber piles of up to 0.3 metres in diameter. Although no definite alignment or function can yet be determined, it is clear that the piles formed part of a prehistoric structure which stood beside the river over 6500 years ago, during the Mesolithic period, when river levels were lower and the landscape very different. Structures of Mesolithic date are very rare anywhere in Britain, reports Past Horizons.

Kept secret until it could be fully recorded and investigated, the site is located at the confluence of the Rivers Effra and Thames. Near the timbers, late Mesolithic stone tools, including a fine tranchet adze (a woodworking tool), were also discovered, as well as slightly later Neolithic pottery of two distinct types. The area, may have been a significant, named place continuing through centuries or even millennia. It is only 600m downstream from the Bronze Age timber-built bridge or jetty (c1500 BC), which hit the headlines in the 1990s.

Blackbox

Odd Pyramid Had Rooftop Homes, Ritual Sacrifices?

Image
© Edward Swenson
A ewly excavated platform atop a pyramid at the Huaca Colorada site looks out on the Peruvian desert.
Yes, it's yielded human remains - including five females who may have been ritually sacrificed. But it's the signs of life that make a half-excavated Peruvian pyramid of the Moche culture stand out, archaeologists say.

"Often these pyramidal mounds were built as mortuaries more than anything else," said excavation co-leader Edward Swenson.

"In most instances [a pyramid] is not where people live, it is not where they were cooking their food," the University of Toronto archaeologist added.

But the newly exposed 1,400-year-old flat-topped pyramid supported residences for up to a couple dozen elites, who oversaw and perhaps took part in copper production at the site, evidence suggests.

The pre-Inca pyramid dwellers likely presided over important rituals, feasted on roasted llama and guinea pig, and drank corn beer, according to archaeologists working at the site.

Among the signs of occupation are at least 19 adobe stands where large vessels of water and corn beer were stored, as well as scattered llama, dog, guinea pig, and fish bones and traces of coca leaves and red peppers.

"There's a far more robust domestic occupation than what we would have expected," said expedition co-leader John Warner, an archaeologist with the University of Kentucky.

Pharoah

Statue Pieces of King Tut's Grandparents Found

statue of King Amenhotep III and his wife Queen Tiye
© Vipeldo/FlickreviewR/Creative Commons
The colossal double statue of King Amenhotep III and his wife Queen Tiye on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo
Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed six missing pieces from a 3,400-year-old colossal double statue of King Tut's grandparents, the Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Sunday.

Belonging to the statues of King Amenhotep III and his wife Queen Tiye, the fragments were found at the pharaoh's mortuary temple in Luxor during work to lower the ground water on the west bank of the Nile.

Currently a centerpiece of the main hall at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the double statue was unearthed in 1889 at Medinet Habu on the west bank of the Nile by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.

"When the statue was first discovered an Italian team restored it and filled in the missing pieces with modern stonework," Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a statement.

Ranging from 47 cm (18.50 inches) to 103 cm (40.55 inches), the uncovered fragments belong to the right side of Amenhotep III's chest, crown and leg.

The other pieces come from a section of Queen Tiye's wig and from her left arm, fingers and foot.