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Sherlock

Old coins force re-think on Jerusalem's Western Wall

Image
© Reuters/Baz Ratner
A Jewish worshipper covered in a prayer shawl prays in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City November 21, 2011.
Israeli archaeologists on Wednesday said they had found ancient coins that overturned widely-held beliefs about the origins of Jerusalem's Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites.

For centuries, many thought the wall was built by King Herod - also infamous, in the Christian tradition, for his efforts to hunt down the baby Jesus in the original Christmas story.

But archaeologists said they had found coins buried under the wall's foundations minted 20 years after King Herod's death in 4 B.C., showing the structure was completed by his successors.

The find will mean a re-think for the city's army of tour guides.

"Every tour guide ... grounded in the history of Jerusalem" had replied "Herod" when asked who built the wall, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

"This bit of archaeological information illustrates the fact that the construction of the Temple Mount walls and (the adjacent) Robinson's Arch was an enormous project that lasted decades and was not completed during Herod's lifetime," the Authority added.

The authority said academic historians were already aware of an account by the Jewish historian Josephus that the wall was completed by Herod's great grandson.

But that report had done nothing to dispel the popular story that Herod completed the wall and the coins were the first hard evidence to back up Josephus's version.

Info

Cranium Shows Human Aggression Existed 126,000 Years Ago

Cranium_1
© University of the Witwatersrand
These are CT reconstructions depicting the lesion on the Maba cranium.
A new study has found evidence that interhuman aggression and human induced trauma occurred as far back as 126,000 years ago.

The report suggests that a half-inch ridged, healed lesion with bone depression inward to the brain resulted from localized blunt force trauma due to an accident or interhuman aggression.

"This wound is very similar to what is observed today when someone is struck forcibly with a heavy blunt object," Lynne Schepartz from the School of Anatomical Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, one of the co-authors of the study, said in a press release.

He said that this wound could be the oldest example of interhuman aggression and human induced trauma documented.

"It's remodeled, healed condition also indicates the survival of a serious brain injury, a circumstance that is increasingly documented for archaic and modern Homo through the Pleistocene."

Sherlock

UK: Saxon burial ground under Warwickshire couple's home

A Warwickshire man has described the moment builders found human bones under his patio. Stephen and Nicky West were having their home redeveloped when one of the builders unearthed the remains. Mr West said: "There was a tap on the door and the builder said 'Stephen, I think there's something you need to see'.

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© Archaeology Warwickshire
Mr West said at first he thought the bodies were probably casualties of the battle of Edgehill
"He had a skull in his hand and I thought 'oh my goodness'." The couple have lived at their house in Ratley, a village in south Warwickshire, for nearly seven years. The village is near to Edgehill - site of the the battle of Edgehill, where the King's army clashed with Parliamentarians in 1642 at the start of the English Civil War.

Info

Mystery of Dead Sea Scroll Authors Possibly Solved

Qumran
© Joseph Calev/Shutterstock
First excavated by Roland de Vaux in the 1950s, the site of Qumran in Israel is mired in controversy. De Vaux believed that it was a monastic settlement used by the Essenes and that the Dead Sea Scrolls were composed here.
The Dead Sea Scrolls may have been written, at least in part, by a sectarian group called the Essenes, according to nearly 200 textiles discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank, where the religious texts had been stored.

Scholars are divided about who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls and how the texts got to Qumran, and so the new finding could help clear up this long-standing mystery.

The research reveals that all the textiles were made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. Also they lack decoration, some actually being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours. Altogether, researchers say these finds suggest that the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect, "penned" some of the scrolls.

Not everyone agrees with this interpretation. An archaeologist who has excavated at Qumran told LiveScience that the linen could have come from people fleeing the Roman army after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and that they are in fact responsible for putting the scrolls into caves.

X

Crooked Teeth? Blame Early Farmers

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© Fotosearch
The price of civilization? Farming caused changes in our jaws that we have to spend money to fix today.
When humans turned from hunting and gathering to farming some 10,000 years ago, they set our species on the road to civilization. Agricultural surpluses led to division of labor, the rise of cities, and technological innovation. But civilization has had both its blessings and its curses. One downside of farming, a new study demonstrates, was a shortening of the human jaw that has left precious little room for our teeth and sends many of us to an orthodontist's chair.

Although all living humans belong to one species, Homo sapiens, there are recognizable differences in the shapes of our skulls and faces across the world. In recent years, anthropologists have concluded that most of this geographic variation in skull shape is due to chance, so-called genetic drift, rather than natural selection. But some features of our faces, including the shape of our lower jaws, don't seem to follow this random pattern.

A number of researchers have hypothesized that the advent of agriculture, which led to diets consisting of softer foods that required less chewing, led to modifications in the lower jaw, either through natural selection or from developmental changes caused by the way we use our jaws beginning in infancy. But evidence from ancient skeletons has been limited. To test the hypothesis, Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, an anthropologist at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, looked at skull and jaw shape in 11 populations, six of which live by farming and five of which are hunter-gatherers. The populations included people from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas.

Comment: For more information on the "gifts" of agriculture read: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race


Pistol

A Chiropractor Looks at the Zapruder Film

Zapruder frame 225
© www.assassinationresearch.com
Frame 225 of the Zapruder film.
This coming Tuesday, November 22, will be the 48th anniversary of the murder of President Kennedy. I hope that a lot will be said and written about it. And to the Occupy folks in Dallas, I really think they should move their occupation over to Dealey Plaza. Occupy Dealey Plaza because what happened in Dealey Plaza in 1963 has more to do with all that is wrong in America today than anything that ever happened on Wall Street.

I have been a student of the JFK assassination for a long time, and I have read a lot of books about it, most recently JFK: Analysis of a Shooting by Orlando Martin, who looked at it from his perspective as an expert on ballistics and firearms. Another was Head Shot: The Science Behind the JFK Assassination by G. Paul Chambers, who looked at it from his perspective as a physicist.

But now, to commemorate the assassination, I want to look at the Zapruder film from my perspective - as a chiropractor.

Note that there is a lot controversy, even among conspiracy buffs, about the proper interpretation of the Zapruder film. And, some analyses delve into very minute and arcane elements of it. But, I intend to skip the minutia and just look at the broad, basic elements of it. I mean the things that stand out to the naked eye upon one viewing. They really tell you all that you need to know to draw valid conclusions.

Sherlock

8,000 year-old Ancient Bulgarian settlement destroyed by bulldozers

An archaeological site in Bulgaria, including remnants of a village said to date back 8000 years, has been destroyed by bulldozers, allegedly the work of a construction company building part of a new road from Bulgaria to Greece. A special commission from the Ministry of Culture is inspecting the damage to the site, near Momchilgrad, and police are investigating.

Zharin Velichkov, chief inspector of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture said that the site had individual layers dating back thousands of years, believed to reach back as far as 6000 BCE. He said that he could not say who had committed the destruction but it was most likely the company that had been carrying out work in the area.

The construction company had been given accurate maps of the area, with archaeological sites marked. The mound of the site, which also included a medieval church, were a few hundred metres from the planned road to Greece. Archaeologists are now trying to rescue anything remaining after the bulldozing.

Sherlock

17th century shipwreck found off Swedish coast

A shipwreck discovered in the murky waters of the Baltic Sea is believed to be a legendary 17th century warship whose captain went down with it in battle rather than surrender to the enemy.

Deep Sea Productions, an underwater research team, said Wednesday it believes the 25-meter (82-feet) wooden wreck it found off the island of Oland this summer is the ship Svardet, which sank when Sweden was defeated by a Danish-Dutch fleet in a 1676 naval battle.

Malcolm Dixelius, a member of the research team, said that wood samples show the wreck is from the 17th century. He also said the stern of the ship is missing, which is consistent with historical reports that Svardet went under after a fire and explosion at the stern.

Thousands of other wrecks - from medieval vessels to warships sunk during the world wars - have been found in the Baltic Sea, which doesn't have the ship worm that destroys wooden wrecks in saltier oceans.

Pharoah

15,000 year-old rock art in Egypt discovered

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© RMAH, Brussels
Belgian archaeologist Wouter Claes poses with a panel with wild bovids (Bos primigenius or aurochs) at the Qurta II site.
Using a new technology known as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), a team of Belgian scientists and Professor John Coleman Darnell of Yale have determined that Egyptian petroglyphs found at the east bank of the Nile are about 15,000 years old, making them the oldest rock art in Egypt and possibly the earliest known graphic record in North Africa.

The dating results will be published in the December issue of Antiquity (Vol. 85 Issue 330, pp. 1184 - 1193). The site of the rock art panels is near the modern village of Qurta, about 40km south of the Upper-Egyptian town of Edfu. First seen by Canadian archaeologists in the early 1960s, they were subsequently forgotten and relocated by the Belgian mission in 2005. The rediscovery was announced in the Project Gallery of Antiquity in 2007.

The rock art at Qurta is characterized by hammered and incised naturalistic-style images of aurochs and other wild animals. On the basis of their intrinsic characteristics (subject matter, technique, and style), their patina and degree of weathering, as well as the archaeological and geomorphological context, these petroglyphs have been attributed to the late Pleistocene era, specifically to the late Palaeolithic period (roughly 23,000 to 11,000 ago). This makes them more or less contemporary with European art from the last Ice Age - such as the wall-paintings of Lascaux and Altamira caves.

Sherlock

11th-century stone tower excavated in Bac Ninh Vietnam

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© File Photo
The foundation of a tower has been excavated at the site of Dam Pagoda.
The foundation of an 11th-century stone tower has been unearthed at Dam Pagoda in the northern city of Bac Ninh, 30km northeast of Ha Noi, revealing complex features of Buddhist architecture of the period.

Located on the southern side of Lam Son Mountain, construction of Dam Pagoda was begun in 1086 under the reign of Ly Nhan Tong and completed in 1094.

It was one of the leading examples of Buddhist architecture in the north during the Tran (1225-1400) and Le (1428-1788) dynasties. In the Tran dynasty, the pagoda consisted of 12 buildings while in the Le dynasty, it was expanded to over 100 rooms.

According to researcher Le Dinh Phung, who directed the excavation, the foundation formed a square measuring 8.4m by 8.4m. The missing tower was assumed to face east to a height of 1.56m and built with stones decorated in wave patterns.

It may have carried Buddha statue on top to face the remaining stone column at the pagoda, Phung said.

Upon excavating the foundation and a site of 300sq.m, archaeologists found building materials from the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties and concluded that Dam Pagoda was an architectural complex of four layers covering an area of over 7,500sq.m following the slope of Lam Son Mountain.