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Sherlock

Polish archaeologists score another success

Rock engravings, ancient burial sites and several dozen terracotta figurines were discovered by a group of Polish archaeologists in the north-eastern part of Sudan by the Red Sea, Rzeczpospolita reports. The research was carried out by scientists from the Archaeology and Ethnology Institute of the Polish Academy of Science, Poznan branch.

Prehistoric settlement has never been researched in north-western Sudan, Rzeczpospolita notes. The first rock engravings were accidentally discovered by Krzysztof Pluskota in 1999. An expedition led by Doctor Przemysław Bobrowski has been researching the area. "During the December expedition we discovered lots of rock engravings. Most of them depict cattle but there are also portraits of people and African animals" says Prof. Michal Kobusiewicz, member of the team. "The engravings were concentrated around a solitary phallus-shaped mountain, which suggests that they were connected with fertility rites" Kobusiewicz adds.

According to archaeologists, the mountain was a symbol of fertility cult, which is supposedly proved by its miniature copies made in sandstone found near the engravings. The theory about the cult character of the site may be proved by the discovery of several dozen terracotta figurines of people and the miniature sandstone phallus-shaped mountains. Numerous traces of prehistoric settlement were also discovered near the engravings.

Blackbox

Mysteries of Cumbria's ancient stones unlocked

Image
© Unknown
Marks on the stones at Long Meg could have formed a map
A book which sets out to fill the 'black hole' in Cumbria's prehistoric past has been published by a Cambridge academic.

Dr David Barrowclough, a Fellow in Archaeology, has pulled together decades of research to come up with new interpretations about how ancient Cumbrians lived and why they built some of the most impressive stone monuments in England.

One theory Dr Barrow-clough propounds is that patterns and marks carved on some of the ancient stones, such as Long Meg, in Eden, could have originally been 'map symbols' to guide people from valley to valley.

This early 'rock art' eventually was used to chart the movements of the sun and moon and rituals associated with passing from life to death, says Dr Barrowclough.

His book, Prehistoric Cumbria, also suggests that thousands of years ago the Langdale Valley was a centre of 'professional' axe-head production, with part-finished products being manufactured for both local and 'export' trade, overseen by organised groups.

Info

Ancient Denisovans and the Human Family Tree

Denisovans_1
© MPI-EVA, Leipzig
Ancient molar tooth from Denisova Cave in Siberia. Scientists obtained the genetic information of the tooth, as well as of a finger bone found in the caves, revealing a connection to people living today.
Last month scientists revealed remarkable evidence of a new group of ancient humans called Denisovans that interbred with our species and left behind a genetic trace in people living in south east Asia today.

An international team, including scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, carried out a genetic study of a finger bone and a large molar tooth uncovered in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains, Siberia. They sequenced the genome and found that this ancient human shared 4-6% of its genetic material with some present-day Melanesians.

In March, the team obtained a complete mitrochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence for the same finger bone, dated to about 40,000 years ago, showing that it was from neither a modern human nor Neanderthal.

Professor Chris Stringer, human origins expert at the Natural History Museum, comments on this research, 'The recovery of mtDNA from Denisova Cave was an exciting enough development, but this latest work by many of the same team is nothing short of sensational.

'This new work showed that the fossil finger bone female was actually slightly closer genetically to Neanderthals than to modern humans, but something else even more remarkable was revealed: the Denisovan is also related to one group of living humans - Melanesians, who live on some of the islands of south east Asia.'

Info

Oldest Known Winery of 6,000 Years Unearthed in Armenian Cave

Oldest Winery
© Huliq
A cave excavation in the mountains of Armenia has yielded what researchers believe to be the oldest known winery in existence.

The ancient winery, estimated to be approximately 6,000 years old, was unearthed by a collaborate group of international researchers working on the excavation of a cave in an area known as Areni-1, according to the findings published online Tuesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Artifacts discovered in the oldest known winery include a wide basin connected to a large vat, which is thought to have once been used to press wine grapes, fermentation jars and other cup and bowl artifacts used for drinking wine.

Areni, a southeastern village located in the Vayots Dzor province of the Fertile Crescent region of Armenia, is known for its exceptional wine growing and wine making areas and has a rich winemaking history. The co-director of the excavation, UCLA's Gregory Areshian, indicated that the recent discovery is perhaps the earliest known example of a full wine making operation.

Info

Archaeological Site, Dating Back to Iraq's Ancient Sumerian Era, Discovered in Nassiriya

An ancient archaeological site, dating back to Ancient Iraq's Sumerian Era, was discovered in southern Iraq's Nassiriya city, the center of Thi-Qar Province, the Director General of the High Commission for Archaeology &Heritage, Qais Rashid Hussein said on Sunday.

"Our excavation teams have discovered an important site in a Sumerian position, dating back to the Dawn of the Ancient Strains - Third Century BC, south of Nassiriya city," Hussein told Aswat al-Iraq news agency, adding that "the site, carrying the name 'Umm al-Aqarib (Mother of Scorpions) consists of a worshipping position, housing units and about 600 archaeological antiques, that were handed over to the Iraqi Museum."

The archaeological sites in Thi-Qar Province, comprising amazing ancient archaeological sites, date back to the ancient historic eras of Misopotamia (Ancient Iraq), some of them dating back to the Somerian era and others to the Acadian, Babylonian, Firthian, Akhmenian, Sasanian or Islamic eras, whilst it comprises the world's most ancient archaeological hill, called "Al-Obali Hill", dating back to 6,000 BC.

Sherlock

'Mysterious, hidden literary references' found in the Mona Lisa

Image
© Unknown
A professor from the Queen's University has stumbled upon literary references in Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

He believes that the work of art incorporates images inspired by the literary works of Roman poet Horace and Florentine poet Petrarch, a technique called 'invention'.

"The composition of the Mona Lisa is striking. Why does Leonardo have an attractive woman sitting on a balcony, while in the background there is an entirely different world that is vast and barren?" asks Ross Kilpatrick.

According to Kilpatrick, the painting alludes to Horace's Ode 1. 22 and two sonnets by Petrarch, all of which celebrate a devotion to a smiling young woman, with vows to love and follow the woman anywhere in the world, from damp mountains to arid deserts - the regions portrayed in the background of Mona Lisa.

Meteor

Forget About Global Warming: We're One Step From Extinction!

Image
© S. Deiries/ESO
Often, some of the most important news comes from local papers, stories that don't make it up the feeding chain and onto the news wires or major newspapers or nightly network news. It can be news that at first glance wouldn't appear to have a national or international impact. Second glance, and a good memory, can reveal that the impact may well be quite significant.

The other day a reader sent us an article link that he found on another alt.news website: Bad news - we are way past our 'extinct by' date

Since we had run the same story back when it first came out, we thought "yeah! Flashback!" After all, with all the talk about Global Warming, it served to remind readers that human caused CO2 levels are not all there is to what is going on here on the BBM today.

Comment: We posted an article yesterday from Ivan Eland where he said:
Spending all that money to combat a threat that is as rare as a catastrophic comet hitting the United States makes little sense. If NASA were able to use the same scare tactics as DHS, perhaps the space agency could persuade a reluctant Congress to give it the paltry $1 billion (by comparison) for its equally absurd Spaceguard Survey program, which tracks asteroids and comets that have an equal probability of killing Americans as terrorists do.
As you can see from the article above, Mr Eland knows not of what he speaks. But how many people on the planet do? How many of your fellow citizens have any idea that the human species has passed its due date? Think about that the next time you see a shooting star or read about a fireball in the newspaper...


Pharoah

6000-year-old ancient civilization discovered in Jiangxi

Chinese archaeologists have discovered the Terracotta and Painted Pottery Culture, which flourished around 4000 B.C., during excavations of the Laohudun Site in Gaohu, Jing'an of Jiangxi Province. An important collection of late Neolithic remains and cultural relics were discovered in the dig.

Xu Changqing, the excavation team leader, stated that in the bottom of the site where the Terracotta Pottery Culture relics sit they excavated some stoneware, including hatchets, adze, stone ploughs and stone walls as well as some pottery ware. The items have been preliminarily estimated to be 6,000 years old.

Info

Researchers to Drill For Ancient DNA in 'Hobbit' Tooth

Hobbit's Skull
© Stephen Hird/Reuters/Corbis
Digging deep into history: A model of a hobbit-sized species' skull, whose teeth researchers will drill into for DNA.

Scientists are planning an attempt to extract DNA from the "hobbit" Homo floresiensis,the 1-meter-tall extinct distant relative of modern humans that was unearthed in Indonesia, following a study that suggests problems in standard sampling methods in ancient-DNA research could have thwarted previous efforts.

This year, geneticists at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide hope to recover DNA from a roughly 18,000-year-old H. floresiensis tooth, which was excavated in 2009 from the Liang Bua site on the Indonesian island of Flores.

The premolar has been kept cold, and has been handled as little as possible to prevent contamination with modern DNA. But little, if any, of the ancient DNA is likely to have survived the heat and moisture of the tropics, and any that has may be highly fragmented.

Tony Djubiantono, director of the Indonesian National Centre for Archaeology in Jakarta, where the tooth is held, says that developments in DNA extraction techniques could overcome previous sampling problems, and have exciting potential for understanding the evolutionary history of H. floresiensis.

If the DNA can be extracted, comparing its sequence to that of other species could settle disputes over classification. For instance, Peter Brown, a paleoanthropologist at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, who described and named the species in 2004, is rethinking his initial classification. At first he put the species in the human genus Homo, but he now suspects that the hobbit's ancestors left Africa before Homo evolved so the species could belong to a different or new genus.

Compass

Evidence of 130,000-Year-Old Sea Voyage Found in Crete

Crete evidence
© eltercero via flickr.com
A rock cave at Preveli in the island of Crete
Athens - Archaeologists in the Greek island of Crete have uncovered startling evidence on Monday showing that early humans navigated across open waters thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

According to the Greek Culture Ministry, archaeological experts from Greece and the United States discovered along the southern coast of the island rough axes and other tools believed to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old during a survey of the caves and rock shelters located in the areas of Plakias and Preveli, calling the said discovery made by the archaeologists working with the American School of Classical Studies based in Athens as "the most ancient sign of early navigation worldwide."

The tools that have been discovered were described to be simple hand tools that were made out of stone. Archaeologists found a similarity between these tools and those associated to the Homo heidelbergensis (also referred to as the Heidelberg Man) and Homo erectus, early ancestors of modern humans that lived in Africa 200,000 years ago.

"Up to now, we had no proof of Early Stone Age presence on Crete," Maria Vlazaki--Senior Ministry Archaeologist--told the Associated Press, referring to the conclusive evidence previously found on the island that humans settled and inhabited Crete no earlier than the Neolithic Period.