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UK's 'oldest' open-air cemetery discovered in Somerset

Old open air cemetery

The skulls date from around 8,300 BC, the Mesolithic era

Somerset was the site of the UK's oldest open-air cemetery, the county council says.

Recent radiocarbon dating of two skulls found at a sand quarry in Greylake nature reserve near Middlezoy in 1928 revealed them to be 10,000 years old.

The council said the find was made under its Lost Islands of Somerset project by a team investigating the archaeology of the Somerset Levels.

Since their discovery, the skulls have been held at Bridgwater's Blake Museum.

The new findings show that by around 8,300 BC, hunter-gatherers were burying their dead on what was once an island amid the Levels.

Info

Devastating Fire, War Destroyed Ancient Peruvian Society

Ancient Peruvian Site
© Charles Stanish
An excavation of two ancient Peruvian sites suggests the people of Pukara set fire to and waged war on the established ancient state of Taraco more than 2,000 years ago.

A war and inferno that apparently destroyed one ancient society while dramatically elevating another in Peru is now shedding light on how states emerge in the world.

Scientists investigated ruins in the Titicaca basin in southern Peru, home to a number of thriving ancient societies more than 2 millennia ago. They focused on two prominent states in the region - Taraco, based along the Ramis River, and Pukara, in the grassland pampas. At its height, Taraco was about 250 acres (1 square kilometer) in size with approximately 5,000 people, give or take 2,000, while Pukara peaked at about 500 acres (2 sq. km.) and had about 10,000 people, give or take 2,000.

Their results suggest Pukara waged a violent war against Taraco, possibly killing hundreds with their weapons before burning the state to the ground.

"In the century that Pukara peaked, the site of Taraco was attacked, and [it] ceased to be a political power in the region," researcher Charles Stanish, director of UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, told LiveScience. "The inference that Pukara was responsible for the raid is extremely strong."

Cow Skull

Wales, UK: Carving found in Gower cave could be oldest rock art

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© National Museum of Wales
The location of the wall carving is being kept secret for the time being
An archaeologist believes a wall carving in a south Wales cave could be Britain's oldest example of rock art.

The faint scratchings of a speared reindeer are believed to have been carved by a hunter-gatherer in the Ice Age more than 14,000 years ago.

The archaeologist who found the carving on the Gower peninsula, Dr George Nash, called it "very, very exciting."

Experts are working to verify the discovery, although its exact location is being kept secret for now.

Dr Nash, a part-time academic for Bristol University, made the discovery while at the caves in September 2010.

He told BBC Wales: "It was a strange moment of being in the right place at the right time with the right kit.

Family

Respect for the Elders: How the evolution of grandparents was 'key to the success of the human race'

Countless generations have relied on grandparents for childcare, emotional support and a helping hand.

Now a theory claims that the older generation may have played a key role in the evolution of mankind.

Fossil experts say the number of grandparents shot up dramatically 30,000 years ago as people started to live longer.

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© The Gallery Collection / Corbis
Survival: Grandparents passed on skills such as tool-making and water supplies allowing their offspring to survive for longer
With older people able to look after children, pass on knowledge and share in food gathering, our ancestors were able to spread around the world and develop farming, tools and civilisation.

Comment: Also read The Golden Age, Psychopathy and the Sixth Extinction to learn more about the Golden Age of our civilization. A time after Cro-Magnon man arrived in Europe, and when the region apparently achieved a sort of nirvana civilization that was apparently peaceful and stable for over 25,000 years.


Attention

100th Anniversary of Machu Picchu Discovery

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© unknown
July 25, marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the "Lost City" of Machu Picchu.

Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956), historian, explorer, treasure hunter and politician "discovered" the city that the Incas had abandoned 400 years before and which the Spanish conquistadors were never able to find. (He was the inspiration behind Hollywood's Indiana Jones character.) About 1,000 people were living there at the time.

Although other explorers had "found" Machu Picchu years before, Bingham was the first to scientifically explore and publicize the place that had been covered in an overgrowth of jungle trees and vines. The entire April 1913 issue of National Geographic was devoted to his work there. Bingham also wrote about it, notably Inca Land: Explorations in the Highlands of Peru (1922) and Lost City of the Incas, a 1948 best-seller.

Machu Picchu was revered as a sacred place at a time quite a bit before the Incas "adopted" it as their own. The five-square-mile complex of palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and about 150 houses arranged around a central plaza was completely self-contained. It was surrounded by agricultural terraces and watered by natural springs that could accommodate the population that lived there. Here is an example of the stone cuttings that were fitted together without mortar. Their construction was well-suited for earthquakes because they could sustain tremors without collapsing.

There is great speculation about why the Incas built Machu Picchu. Some say it was an estate and retreat site for Pachacuti and his royal court to relax, hunt and entertain guests.

Question

Germany, Bavaria: Experts Baffled by Mysterious Underground Chambers

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© Getty Images
A cave explorer crawls through an arched section of cave passage.
There are more than 700 curious tunnel networks in Bavaria, but their purpose remains a mystery. Were they built as graves for the souls of the dead, as ritual spaces or as hideaways from marauding bandits? Archeologists are now exploring the subterranean vaults to unravel their secrets.

Beate Greithanner, a dairy farmer, is barefoot as she walks up the lush meadows of the Doblberg, a mountain in Bavaria set against a backdrop of snow-capped Alpine peaks. She stops and points to a hole in the ground. "This is where the cow was grazing," she says. "Suddenly she fell in, up to her hips."

A crater had opened up beneath the unfortunate cow.

On the day after the bovine mishap, Greithanner's husband Rudi examined the hole. He was curious, so he poked his head inside and craned his neck to peer into the darkness. Could it be a hiding place for some sort of treasure, he wondered? As he climbed into the hole to investigate, it turned out to be a narrow, damp tunnel that led diagonally into the earth, like the bowels of some giant dinosaur.

Suddenly the farmer could no longer hear anything from above. He panicked when he realized that it was getting difficult to breathe the stifling air -- and quickly ended his brief exploration.

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First Nation Artifacts Found in Canada

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© unknown
Archaeologists find artifacts in New Brunswick that prove aboriginal people were living in the province more than 10,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have found ancient artifacts in New Brunswick which suggests that First Nations people moved through the area more than 10,000 years ago.

"We have individual finds and that's how we knew people were here," CBCnews quoted head of the archeology team Brent Suttie as saying.

"We had individual spear points that we knew were that old," he added, saying "But it's just we never had the sites to give us contextual information - like what people were eating, how they were living, the structures they may have been living in, what the population size may have been."

Sherlock

The Mystery of 'Prisoner Seven': Cremation of Hess Eliminates Possibility of DNA Testing

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© Unknown
Rudolph Hess
German authorities have exhumed and cremated the remains of the late Stellvertreter des Führers Rudolf Hess, who famously fled the Reich in 1941 to negotiate a peace with Britain.

The cremation eliminates the possibility of DNA testing on the remains of the former "Prisoner Seven", leaving forever unanswered a lingering question as to whether the inmate serving a life sentence in Spandau Prison as Hitler's former deputy was, in fact, Hess; questions most vocally raised by Dr. Hugh Thomas - a former British military surgeon and one of the few physicians to personally examine Prisoner Seven - in his out-of-print 1979 book The Murder of Rudolf Hess. In his book Thomas theorizes that a double occupied the role of Hess. The evidence Thomas presented includes:

Comment: Consider the following excerpt from the Cassiopaean Experiment dated January 24, 1998:
Q: Alright. Along the same lines of the Sabrina Aisenberg issue, I was reading a book about Churchill and Hitler and Rudolf Hess. It seems that this writer was saying that the man in Spandau Prison was NOT Rudolf Hess. Is that correct?
A: Yes.
Q: What happened to Rudolf Hess?
A: Died in plane crash in Scotland.
Q: He died? Was this the reported crash landing?
A: Yes.
Q: He DIED in that crash?
A: Yes.
Q: Who was the guy who parachuted out?
A: Did not.
Q: They made up the whole story?
A: No, just Hess survival, for propaganda value.
Q: Well that is a bizarre thing to say about it. But, it is also another option that the writer of that book did NOT consider. But what about the farmer who saw a guy parachute out of the plane?
A: So they say.
Q: Well, I guess they could have set the whole thing up. That would be even MORE devious!
A: Real Hess would never have relented to abuse.
Q: Hmmm. Did Hess actually fly to Scotland?
A: Yes.
Q: Did Hitler know and was he in on it?
A: Yes.
Q: So, they had to make Hitler think Hess survived in order to fool him into thinking that whatever the plan was it was working?
A: Hitler believed Hess had gone mad, or had indeed died.
Q: Well, this is a bizarre question, but I have to ask it. Was Hitler a homosexual?
A: No.
Q: Well, this book suggests that he had an unusual relationship with Rudolf Hess. But, others said that he was completely ascetic in ALL ways.
A: Book is wrong in other ways too.



Magic Wand

UK: 'Extraordinary' genetic make-up of north-east Wales men

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© Unknown
Why more men in north Wales carry a rare marker in the Y chromosome is not yet known
Experts are asking people from north-east Wales to provide a DNA sample to discover why those from the area carry rare genetic make-up.

So far, 500 people have taken part in the study which shows 30% of men carry an unusual type of Y chromosome, compared to 1% of men elsewhere the UK.

Common in Mediterranean men, it was initially thought to suggest Bronze Age migrants 4,000 years ago.

Sheffield University scientists explain the study at Wrexham Science Festival.

Sherlock

Oldest pregnant lizard fossil discovered

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© Susan Evans/UCL
The pregnant gravid female Yabeinosaurus fossil.
A new paper published in Naturwissenschaft reveals a fossil from 120 million years ago that proves that some lizards were not laying eggs but rather giving birth to live young.

The fossil was discovered by Susan Evans, a professor from the University College London Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, in the Jehol region of Northeast China. This area has revealed hundreds of dinosaur, amphibian, reptile, fish, bird, mammal, invertebrate and plant fossils.

The lizard in this case has been identified as Yabeinosaurus which scientists believe to be similar to the gecko. Evans did not pay much attention to the fossil when it was first discovered but Yuan Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences examined the fossil and discovered 15 tiny fossilized embryos.

The embryos were almost fully developed and the researchers believe that the foot-long mother died only a few days before she would have given birth.