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Wed, 04 Aug 2021
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Minoan language Linear A Linked to Linear B in groundbreaking new research

© Pat Scrap/Pixabay
Palace of Knossos, Crete.
The Minoan language known as "Linear A" may finally be deciphered with the help of the internet, which can be used to uncover previously-hidden links to the much-better understood Linear B language, which developed later in the prehistoric period.

The puzzle of Linear A has tormented linguists for many decades, as they attempted to link it somehow to Linear B, which was translated successfully for the first time in the 1950s. Linear B was used on the Greek mainland and Crete 50-150 years later than Linear A.

Comment: See also:


New insight into radioactive particles at Australian nuke test site

Nuke Test
© Cosmos Magazine
A nuclear test in Nevada, US. Australia hosted a number of nuclear tests, particularly from the British at Maralinga.
In the 1950s and 60s, hundreds of nuclear tests were carried out at Maralinga in western South Australia, releasing radioactive plutonium and uranium particles that can still be detected in the area today.

A study from Monash University in Melbourne has now examined plutonium particles from the blasts to find they're more complicated than initially thought. This has implications for how they behave in the environment, although these implications are still unclear.

"The British detonated nine nuclear bombs and conducted hundreds of nuclear tests in outback South Australia between 1953 and 1963," says Megan Cook, a PhD student at Monash and lead author on a paper describing the research, published in Scientific Reports.

"The resulting radioactive contamination and cover-up continues to haunt us."

But the effects of radioactive particles in the environment are still poorly understood. Study of these particles is "one of those things we don't have an international best practice for," Cook says.

Star of David

How the UK military supports Israel's combat operations against Palestinians

Gen. Nick Carter
© unknown
UK's chief of defense staff, General Sir Nick Carter on visit to Israel, April 2019
As violence escalates in Israel and Palestine, we take readers through the expanding military relationship between the UK and Israel, which has been erased by the British media. The deepening alliance involves UK military training of Israel for combat, joint exercises, arms deals, as well as intelligence cooperation.

The UK's new military strategy, released in March, states clearly that "Israel remains a key strategic partner".

Months before the importance of the relationship was spelled out, the military chiefs of the two states signed a cooperation agreement "to formalise and enhance our defence relationship, and support the growing Israel-UK partnership", according to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Following the agreement, Britain's ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, tweeted he was "delighted", saying it would "further deepen our military cooperation".

What is in that agreement is secret and has not even been formally acknowledged by the UK government. But Israel lobby group Bicom (the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre) has written that the two militaries are "integrating their multi-domain capabilities in maritime, land, air, space, and cyber and electromagnetic".

This is an extraordinary development and follows recent visits to Israel by two UK chiefs of the defence staff, General Sir Nick Carter in 2019 and his predecessor, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach in 2017.


Entire genome from Peştera Muierii 1 sequenced

skull of Peştera Muierii 1
© Mattias Jakobsson
The skull of Peştera Muierii 1, which entire genome is now successfully sequenced.
For the first time, researchers have successfully sequenced the entire genome from the skull of Peştera Muierii 1, a woman who lived in today's Romania 35,000 years ago. Her high genetic diversity shows that the out of Africa migration was not the great bottleneck in human development but rather this occurred during and after the most recent Ice Age. This is the finding of a new study led by Mattias Jakobsson at Uppsala University and being published in Current Biology.

"She is a bit more like modern-day Europeans than the individuals in Europe 5,000 years earlier, but the difference is much less than we had thought. We can see that she is not a direct ancestor of modern Europeans, but she is a predecessor of the hunter-gathers that lived in Europe until the end of the last Ice Age," says Mattias Jakobsson, professor at the Department of Organismal Biology at Uppsala University and the head of the study.

Very few complete genomes older than 30,000 years have been sequenced. Now that the research team can read the entire genome from Peştera Muierii 1, they can see similarities with modern humans in Europe while also seeing that she is not a direct ancestor. In previous studies, other researchers observed that the shape of her cranium has similarities with both modern humans and Neanderthals. For this reason, they assumed that she had a greater fraction of Neanderthal ancestry than other contemporaries, making her stand out from the norm. But the genetic analysis in the current study shows that she has the same low level of Neanderthal DNA as most other individuals living in her time. Compared with the remains from some individuals who lived 5,000 years earlier, such as Peştera Oase 1, she had only half as much Neanderthal ancestry.


The real 'malign influence'? How US helped destroy democracy, turn Ukraine's Maidan dream into a nightmare for its people

Maidan rally
© Sputnik/Stringer
Kiev's memorial rally dedicated to 7th anniversary of Maidan revolution.
The arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of Kiev's largest opposition party, shows US interference in Ukraine is all about winning a standoff with Russia and has nothing to do with promoting democracy or advancing human rights.

America often likes to insist that its approach to foreign policy is one of championing liberty and defeating authoritarianism. In the minds of many of Washington's officials, US hegemony is synonymous with the cause of liberal democracy. They have done an excellent job in framing the Ukraine crisis through this lens - but is it rooted in reality?

The narrative put forward by Western commentators and politicians is that Kiev's aspirations for democracy and freedom necessitate its turn toward the EU and US, but are continuously undermined by Moscow's belligerence and desire to assert imperial-style control over the nation. The West, supposedly motivated solely by the altruistic values of democracy and human rights, "stands by" the country against the Russian aggressor.

Once the audience believes that premise, reporting on all events in the region ends up being seen in that light alone. However, to what extent does the US actually support Ukraine? Washington has gone against the democratic will and interest of its citizens at every turn, leaving it profoundly divided, with American oversight only granting political legitimacy to a certain group of Ukrainians.

Star of David

Wikileaks: Insights on Palestine from the cables

Goldstone Report

"The world refuses to forget those 22 days in the winter of 2008-2009, when Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1300 people, including over 300 children."
One of the first things that struck me while reading the cables from the US embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv was how worried the Israeli government seems to be about the Goldstone Report into war crimes committed during Israel's 2008-2009 attack on the people of Gaza. In cable 09TELAVIV2777 of December 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have named the report as one of three "principal threats" facing Israel — the other two being Iran's alleged nuclear programme and "missile proliferation".

Second, there are important insights into the high level of collaboration between Israel and forces that have been called the "Palestinian Contras" in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Indeed, the first "cablegate" headline on Palestine was sourced from cable 09TELAVIV1177, in which Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is reported to have said he "had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas". In other words, Fateh leader Mahmoud Abbas (whose term as PA president expired in January 2009) knew the massive Israeli onslaught was coming but said nothing. This was widely suspected, but to read confirmation of it from a confidential US government source is something new.

Comment: The Goldstone Report concluded that both Israel and the Palestinians had committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity. The most obvious question people were asking was the effect of this report on the International Criminal Court. Israel then, as now, claimed the ICC had no jurisdiction over Israel as it was a non-signatory to the Rome Statute.

As the US president at the time, Obama would have been privy to this Israeli-Palestinian Authority arrangement.

Click on this Wikileaks website link to view the cables.


The Aqueduct of Constantinople: The impressive engineering of the longest water channel of the ancient world

© Jim Crow
The two-story Kurunlugerme Bridge, part of the aqueduct system of Constantinople: Two water channels passed over this bridge - one above the other.
Aqueducts are very impressive examples of the art of construction in the Roman Empire. Even today, they still provide us with new insights into aesthetic, practical, and technical aspects of construction and use. Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) investigated the longest aqueduct of the time, the 426-kilometer-long Aqueduct of Valens supplying Constantinople, and revealed new insights into how this structure was maintained back in time. It appears that the channels had been cleaned of carbonate deposits just a few decades before the site was abandoned.

Comment: See also: Roman imperial period marble production more efficient than today

Blue Planet

Roman amphora discovered at huge Pict-era hill settlement that housed 4,000 people

© Aberdeen University.
Tap O' Noth near Rhynie in Aberdeenshire was home to the largest known Pictish-era settlement with evidence of wine drinking recently found at the site. Investigations continue into whether the site was home to a temporary community - such as one that gathered for a festival - or a settled population.
Sherds of Roman amphora have been discovered at Tap O' Noth in Aberdeenshire, which archaeologists earlier discovered was a Pictish-era settlement where at least 800 huts housed around 4,000 people.

It is the first time the material has been found in Pictland, which spanned north and east Scotland from around the 3rd century.

Professor Gordon Noble, head of archaeology at Aberdeen University who has led the Northern Picts programme, returned to Tap O' Noth last week.

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Who was Jesus? Examining the evidence that Christ may in fact have been Caesar!


Roman imperial period marble production more efficient than today

© Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo
A rendering of the plans for the new Colosseum floor. Analysis of wall decoration dating to the second century provides new insights into marble extraction and processing
When it comes to ancient Roman imperial architecture, most people usually have a mental image of white marble statues, columns, or slabs. While it is true that many buildings and squares at that time were decorated with marble, it was frequently not white but colored marble that was employed, such as the green-veined Cipollino Verde, which was extracted on the Greek island of Euboea. Because marble was very expensive, it was often placed in thin slabs as a cladding over other, cheaper stones. "To date, however, no actual remains of marble workshops from the Roman imperial era have been found, so little is known about marble processing during this period," said Professor Cees Passchier of the Institute of Geosciences at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU).

Together with other researchers based in Mainz, Turkey, and Canada, he has now finished analyzing the marble cladding of a second century A.D. Roman villa. As the researchers detail in the online edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, they utilized special software normally used for the 3D modeling of geological structures. They discovered that the material loss during marble slab production at the time was likely lower than it is today.

Comment: There are a number of discoveries that reveal some ancient civilizations appear to have had a knowledge that was equal and sometimes superior to that of our own time: Also check out SOTT radio's:


UK's Cerne Giant dates from 10th century, Anglo-Saxon era, new study claims

Cerne giant
© Ben Birchall/PA
Local lore has that Cerne Abbey was created in 978AD to convert people away from an Anglo-Saxon god.
Over the centuries the huge, naked, club-wielding giant carved into a steep hillside in Dorset has been thought prehistoric, Celtic, Roman or even a 17th century lampoon of Oliver Cromwell.

After 12 months of new, hi-tech sediment analysis, the National Trust has now revealed the probable truth and experts admit they are taken aback. The bizarre, enigmatic Cerne Giant is none of the above, but late Saxon, possibly 10th century.

Martin Papworth, a senior archaeologist at the trust, said he was somewhat "flabbergasted ... He's not prehistoric, he's not Roman, he's sort of Saxon, into the medieval period. I was expecting 17th century."

Comment: Is the dating really definitive? Could it be that the grains of sand studied simply reflect the last time it was restored? Also check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Who was Jesus? Examining the evidence that Christ may in fact have been Caesar!