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Women the true artisans behind ancient Greek ceramics argues new research

A new paper makes the case that scholars have ignored the role of female ceramicists in Greece going back some 3,000 years — and that this failing could speak to a more consequential blind spot involving gender.
Greek Amphora
© Zde/Wikimedia Commons
This amphora comes from a period in ancient Greek history called the Early Iron Age.
Painted over the enormous midsection of the Dipylon amphora — a nearly 2,800-year-old clay vase from Greece — silhouetted figures surround a corpse in a funeral scene. Intricate geometric patterns zig and zag across cracks in the vase, framing the scene.

The roughly 5-foot-tall amphora is one of many painted vases credited to a so-called Dipylon Master. (Dipylon is the name of the cemetery gate near where people found this vessel.) Historians have assumed that this master was a man. In fact, the assumption has long been that male artisans crafted the iconic pottery of ancient Greek society throughout its history.

After all, ancient Greece isn't exactly known for its record of women's rights and contributions. In Politics about 2,400 years ago, Aristotle wrote, "the male is by nature superior and the female inferior."

"No one had really thought that women were involved in making this pottery," says Sarah Murray, a classical archaeologist at the University of Toronto. "There was no argument. It was just taken as the default."

But in a recent article published in the American Journal of Archaeology, Murray and two of her undergraduate students challenge those assumptions. They argue that women were primarily responsible for the ceramics in at least one significant era of ancient Greek history.

Their analysis reframes archaeological questions about gender and paints a more cohesive picture of life during one of the most mysterious periods of ancient Greece. It also speaks to a larger effort underway in human history research: questioning how modern biases have skewed understandings of the past.

Sherlock

Measles virus likely emerged 2,500 years ago

measles
© Navena Widulin/Berlin Museum of Medical History at the Charite
An autopsy report of a measles patient compiled in 1912 kept at the Berlin Museum of Medical History
An international research team says the measles virus may have emerged as far back as some 2,500 years ago, much earlier than previously thought, and that it likely came alongside urbanization.

The experts came to that conclusion by analyzing a genome taken from a human lung preserved for more than a century.

The team, led by researchers from Germany's Robert Koch Institute, published its findings in the journal Science on June 19.

"The measles virus may have caused epidemics in ancient times, where the cause was unknown at the time," one of the researchers said.

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Blue Planet

Peopling of the Americas may have begun more than 33,000 years ago

Chiquihuite
© Mads Thomsen
Tools found in the Chiquihuite cave in Zacatecas, Mexico, suggest humans arrived there early
Writing in Nature, Ardelean et al.1 and Becerra-Valdivia and Higham2 report evidence that the initial human settlement of the American continent happened earlier than is widely accepted, and some of this evidence suggests that expansion into the continent began at least 10,000 years earlier than was generally suspected. A study of radiocarbon dating of early archaeological sites by Becerra-Valdivia and Higham reveals that interior regions of Alaska, Yukon in Canada and the continental United States were already widely populated before 13,000 years ago. For decades, that time frame was widely considered to mark the earliest possible date of initial entry, until data from sites more than 13,000 years old in North and South America, first reported in the 1970s, raised the possibility of earlier arrivals3-5. Archaeological excavations in Chiquihuite Cave in northern Mexico by Ardelean and colleagues provide evidence of human occupation about 26,500 years ago. This Mexican site now joins half a dozen other documented archaeological sites in northeast and central Brazil that have yielded evidence suggesting dates for human occupation between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago6-12.

Comment: The facts may be hard for some achaeologists to accept but the evidence is becoming hard to ignore: Also check out SOTT radio's:


Pharoah

The dark past of the World Bank and Bank for International Settlements

Bretton Woods Conference

U.N. Monetary and Financial Conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in July, 1944
Although written by Patrick Wood in 2005, nothing has changed to the historical fact of the Bank for International Settlements. It has nefarious roots and is the tap-root of modern globalization.

Today, the BIS is getting headlines again because of its direction of central banks to go cashless. It is readily apparent that it has not lost its power and influence over the decades. For anyone wanting to understand how the world really works, this is a must-read paper. - TN Editor
Created at Bretton Woods in 1944, the World Bank has been dominated by international bankers, members of the Council on Foreign Relations and later by the Trilateral Commission. Corruption and self-interest run amok as public funds are converted into private hands by the billions.

Introduction

According to The World Bank, it is,
"a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. We are not a bank in the common sense. We are made up of two unique development institutions owned by 184 member countries — the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). Each institution plays a different but supportive role in our mission of global poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards. The IBRD focuses on middle income and creditworthy poor countries, while IDA focuses on the poorest countries in the world. Together we provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, communications and many other purposes." 1

Blue Planet

Climate change not responsible for extinction of Western Mediterranean Neanderthals

Cucù
© O. Lacarbonara
Researchers sampled this 50-cm long stalagmite in the Pozzo Cucù cave, in the Castellana Grotte area (Bari) and they carried out 27 high-precision datings and 2,700 analyses of carbon and oxygen stable isotopes. Credit:
Homo Neanderthaliensis did not become extinct because of changes in climate. At least, this did not happen to the several Neanderthal groups that lived in the western Mediterranean 42,000 years ago. A research group of the University of Bologna came to this conclusion after a detailed paleoclimatic reconstruction of the last ice age through the analysis of stalagmites sampled from some caves in Apulia, Italy.

The researchers focused on the Murge karst plateau in Apulia, where Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens coexisted for at least 3,000 years, from approximately 45,000 to 42,000 years ago. This study was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Data extracted from the stalagmites showed that climate changes that happened during that time span were not particularly significant. "Our study shows that this area of Apulia appears as a 'climate niche' during the transition from Neanderthals to Homo Sapiens" explains Andrea Columbu, researcher and first author of this study. "It doesn't seem possible that significant climate changes happened during that period, at least not impactful enough to cause the extinction of Neanderthals in Apulia and, by the same token, in similar areas of the Mediterranean."

Comment: It seems likely that the factors contributing to the Neanderthals demise could include their obvious lack of creativity, their small population size, and, notably, that Homo Sapiens, renowned for their ingenuity, were - for the most part - either unable or unwilling to interbreed with them; and there may be other factors that are, as of yet, to fully come to light: The Golden Age, Psychopathy and the Sixth Extinction


Archaeology

Ancient tombs and hundreds of objects dating back to 'golden age' in Chinese history unearthed at Silk Road origin

china ancient tombs
© Xi'an Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology
Archaeologists working at the starting point of the Silk Road in northwest China's Shaanxi province have unearthed a group of ancient tombs dating back around 2,000 years to the early days of the Han dynasty.

A total of 27 ancient tombs were excavated in the provincial capital Xi'an and a hoard of objects, including ceramic figurines and thousands of pieces of jade clothing were found. Four of the tombs are large in scale and experts say they are the final resting places of important people of the day.

More than 2,200 pieces of jade clothing were unearthed in the grandest of the tombs and their restoration will provide an important reference for the study of the jade clothes system during the reign of the dynasty. The excavation of the tombs is also set to yield valuable insights into the burial customs of the time.

Black Magic

Eugenics in high school history: Failure to confront the past

Margaret Sanger
© Cliff, via Flickr
Bust of Margaret Sanger, National Portrait Gallery.
Judging by a representative sample of textbooks, America's high-school students get little exposure to the history of eugenics and scientific racism. One reason might be that the relationship of these movements to Progressivism is too close for comfort.

Eugenics and scientific racism in the United States emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century and lasted through the 1930s. It claimed that heredity was the fundamental determinant of an individual's ability to contribute to society. Eugenics claimed the scientific ability to classify individuals and groups as "fit" or "unfit." The unfit were defined by race, mental and physical disabilities, country of origin, and poverty. Eugenics was widely accepted by academics, politicians, intellectuals, government, the U.S. Supreme Court, and especially progressives, who supported eugenics-inspired policies as policy instruments to be utilized by an interventionist administrative state to establish a healthy and productive society. Those who questioned the "settled science" of eugenics were dismissed as "deniers," much like those who question the "settled science" of climate change are today dismissed as "deniers."

Eugenics and slavery share much common ground in their inherent racist view of blacks; however, the inherent racist perspective of eugenics was broader in that the set of those considered unfit included individuals and groups beyond those who were black. Eugenics provided the scientific foundation for involuntary sterilization policies in thirty-two states, supported the racist immigration policies in the first part of the twentieth century, and supported a variety of de jure and de facto policies designed to limit those defined as "unfit" to less than full-citizenship status. More troubling, eugenics and eugenics-inspired policies in the United States were admired by Adolf Hitler. American and German eugenicists interacted and exchanged views up to the late 1930s, and sterilization laws, immigration restrictions based on race or ethnicity, and efforts to prevent full citizenship to the unfit in the United States became the model for the Nuremburg Laws of 1935. Stefan Kühl (1994) was the first to document in detail the American-German eugenics connection. In Hitler's American Model (2017), James Whitman extended this research to illustrate how U.S. policies influenced Nazi race law in the 1930s and the Nuremberg Laws in particular. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (2017) by Dinesh D'Souza is the most recent effort to bring public attention to eugenics and the American-German connection.

Info

Hyksos invasion of ancient Egypt debunked in new study

Egyptian Painting
© CCO
Egypt was ruled by the pharaohs from approximately 3100 BC to 30 BC. However, there was a short period when the country was under the rule of the Hyksos, who took advantage of a power vacuum and seized control of Egypt for one hundred years - or at least that's what historical documents have told us. Who precisely the Hyksos were remains unclear.

Scientists from Bournemouth University claim to have debunked a millennia-old myth about an invasion of Egypt by the Hyksos. After the pharaohs retook power from them, the Hyksos were called foreign invaders of an obscure race. However, historians have struggled to find evidence to prove this narrative. They failed to discover signs of an invasion despite the existence of extensive burial sites, while documents showed that more men with Egyptian names married women with non-Egyptian names at the time. During invasions and wars, which were generally waged by men, foreign conquerors often married women from the losing side.

According to a new study published on 15 July in the Journal PLOS One, the narrative promoted by the pharaohs about the Hyksos invading Egypt was fake news. During the research, Chris Stantis and her colleagues examined teeth from the Hyksos; in particular, they looked at the levels of strontium in them. This chemical element gets into our bones and teeth through water and food and people from one area have different ratios of strontium compared with people from another area.

Pharoah

The American who restored Hagia Sophia's ancient mosaics to their former glory

Komnenos mosaic
© Hagia Sophia
Mosaic of John Komnenos – Eirene – Alexios, 13th century
The mosaics of Hagia Sophia are world-renowned priceless artifacts not only of Greek Orthodoxy but also of Byzantine Civilization and Hellenism. What is lesser known is that the hagiographies inside the Cathedral were restored by an American man before it was turned into a museum in 1935.

The name Thomas Whittemore may not mean much to many, but the American academic and amateur archaeologist and restoration expert is the man responsible for the restoration of the Byzantine mosaics that adorn Hagia Sophia.

Whittemore's team restoration
© Unknown
Whittemore’s team works to restore Hagia Sophia mosaics and icons.
While the fascinating mosaics were covered and uncovered multiple times throughout its 1,500 year history, their present state owes a great deal to Whittemore.

Magnify

Oldest evidence of cranial deformation in Eurasia found, skull is 11,000 years old

Songhuajiang
© Xijun Ni et al. 2020
CT-scanned images of the intentionally deformed Songhuajiang Man
An 11,200-11,400 year old fossil of an adult man's skull from a pre-agricultural culture in northeastern China, termed Songhuajiang Man I, is the oldest record of intentional skull deformation in Eurasia, and one of the oldest records in the world. Evidence from stable isotopes in the fossil show that Songhuajiang Man relied on foods like fish from rivers and lakes. This fossil of an intentionally modified human skull from Heilongjiang Province in China is described in a new paper in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences by Chinese, American, and Pakistani authors.

In well-known societies around the world such as the ancient Mayans, Egyptians, Huns, and Polynesians, the skull was intentionally deformed into a non-natural shape by compressing an infant's head with hand pressure, binding the head with hard and flat surfaces, or by tightly wrapping the head in cloth, Songhuajiang Man I is the oldest evidence in the world for what is called tabular deformation; where hard and flat surfaces are bound to the forehead and back of the skull of an infant in order to permanently alter their skull shape. In the resulting adult's head, the forehead is flatter and taller with a similarly flattened back of the skull.

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