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Sherlock

Scientists Probe Lake Huron for Signs of Pre-Historic Caribou Hunters

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© University of Michigan
John O'Shea (right), the University of Michigan researcher heading an archeological probe of an underwater ridge in Lake Huron, prepares to deploy a side-scan sonar device with graduate student Eric Rupley. Scientists are planning a dive this spring to search for artifacts from what they believe was once a major caribou migration corridor and hunting hotspot about 10,000 years ago for some of the earliest inhabitants of present-day Canada and the United States.
Guided by computer simulations that reconstruct a lost world now lying at the bottom of Lake Huron, a team of scientists is preparing to search this spring for ancient artifacts along an underwater ridge that straddles the U.S.-Canada border - a place the researchers believe was a caribou-hunting hot spot about 10,000 years ago for some of the earliest inhabitants of North America.

The planned probe of the Alpena-Amberley Ridge - named for the Michigan and Ontario towns that respectively mark the western and eastern ends of the 160-kilometre-long lake bottom feature - is expected to involve remotely operated sonar devices for mapping the underwater terrain, as well as a team of scuba divers to comb the long-submerged landscape in search of spearheads and other signs of hunting activity from the end of the last ice age.

University of Michigan researchers first announced in 2009 that they'd discovered rock formations along the drowned ridge that appeared eerily similar to well-documented caribou-hunting structures used in prehistoric times by the "Paleo-Indian" peoples who once occupied Canada's Arctic and sub-Arctic territories.

Now under about 35 metres of water, the Lake Huron ridge was once a 16-km-wide upland corridor in a lake-dotted landscape that linked caribou wintering grounds in the south to their summer ranges in present-day Northern Ontario and beyond.

"Scientifically, it's important, because the entire ancient landscape has been preserved and has not been modified by farming, or modern development," project leader John O'Shea, a University of Michigan archeologist, said when the rock structures were discovered. "That has implications for ecology, archeology and environmental modelling.''

Question

New Death Ritual Found in Himalaya - 27 De-fleshed Humans

Human Remains
© Cory Richards
Climber Matt Segal removes a skull from an eroded cliffside cave in Nepal's Mustang region last year.

The remains of 27 ancient men, women, and children have been found in cliffside caves in Nepal. Many of the bones bear cut marks that point to a previously unknown Himalayan death ritual, experts say.

The corpses - many of which had been stripped of flesh - were placed in the high mortuaries some 1,500 years ago, the team announced Friday.

Nearly 67 percent of the bodies' had been defleshed, most likely with a metal knife, say the researchers, who found the remains in 2010.

After the de-fleshing process, the corpses had been neatly laid to rest on wide wooden shelves, the researchers speculate. But due to centuries of exposure to the elements, the bones and bunks - and much of the caves themselves - had collapsed by the time the team entered the chambers.

Also in the jumble: goat, cow, and horse remains - perhaps sacrificial offerings for the dead, though their purpose remains a mystery.

Dug into characteristically reddish cliffs of the Upper Mustang district, the human-made caves lie at 13,800 feet (4,200 meters) above sea level, high above the village of Samdzong.

In ancient times, rock outcrops and probably ladders would have eased access to the caves. Since then, however, erosion has rendered the chambers accessible to only expert climbers, such as seven-time Everest summiter Pete Athans, who co-led the team.

Magnify

DNA: Out of Africa

Chauvet cave painting hand
DNA - deoxyribonucleic acid - is the basis of life. Its molecular structure was discovered in 1953, revealing how it carries all the genetic information needed for organisms to live and reproduce.

Scientists describe it in sequences of letters, and humans inherit three billion from each of their parents. As generations move from place to place, distinctive DNA markers are carried by each and every one of us. In a programme of pioneering research at Edinburgh University, Dr Jim Wilson has been gathering samples of DNA from Scots across the country and this week, in a new book by Alistair Moffat, and in a series of features in The Scotsman, we discover what his innovative work has revealed - and where the Scots came from. Day 1 looks at our origins.

Magnify

Fresh Inca Treasures Unearthed as Discovery of Nine Tombs in Peruvian Andes is Hailed as 'The Most Significant Since Machu Picchu'

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Historically important: Archaeologists have discovered nine tombs in Peru from the pre-Hispanic Wari civilization. The finding in the southern Cusco region suggests the Wari may have controlled areas where the Inca empire later flourished
It could force historians to reconsider the origins of the mighty Inca empire.

Archaeologists have discovered and excavated nine tombs in Peru from the pre-Hispanic Wari civilisation, the Peruvian government said yesterday.

The finding in the southern Cusco region suggests the Wari, who flourished in the Peruvian Andes between 700 and 1200 AD, may have controlled areas where the Inca empire later flourished.

Juan Ossio, Peru's minister of culture, said: 'The Incas could have been inspired by the Wari culture, enabling them to develop their entire political system.'

The Incas built the largest empire in the New World between 1400 and 1532 AD.

Magnify

Prehistoric Dog Lived, Died Among Humans

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© Vladimir Bazaliiskii/Robert Losey/Sandra Garvie-Lok/Mietje Germonpre/Jennifer Leonard/Andrew Allen/Anne Katzenberg/ Mikhail Sablin
The remains of a husky-like dog found buried near humans at a 7,000-year-old site in Siberia.
Burial remains of a dog that lived over 7,000 years ago in Siberia suggest the male Husky-like animal probably lived and died similar to how humans did at that time and place, eating the same food, sustaining work injuries, and getting a human-like burial.

"Based on how northern indigenous people understand animals in historic times, I think the people burying this particular dog saw it as a thinking, social being, perhaps on par with humans in many ways," said Robert Losey, lead author of a study about the dog burial, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Sherlock

Maysara Archaeological Site Records Ancient Life in Syria

Maysara findings
© Global Arab Network
Syria (Daraa) - The discovery of a Neolithic settlement at al-Maysara archaeological site in 2003, 4 km south east of Daraa governorate, represented a turning point in the history of archaeological discoveries in the governorate.

A preliminary archaeological survey of Yasser Abu Noktah revealed caves, stone grinders and stone mortars and pestles in the area.

In a statement to SANA, Director of Daraa Museum Ayham al-Zoubi said a number of archaeological surveys over the last few years indicated to the presence of prehistoric societies at al-Maysara archaeological site.

He added that the studies of archaeological findings uncovered at the site showed that they belong to the Neolithic Period (8000-5500 B.C.).

Excavation works in 2004 unearthed a number of stone scrapers, awls, spears, arrowheads and axes of different sizes generally used for daily life activities, farming and hunting, he said.

Video

Marilyn Monroe: the unseen files

A new book reveals the extraordinary contents of Marilyn Monroe's private filing cabinets, thought lost for over 40 years after her death
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© Mark Anderson
Detail of a test print from the Marilyn Monroe archive.

In November 2005 Millington Conroy, a businessman living in Rowland Heights, 40 miles east of Los Angeles, contacted Mark Anderson, a successful magazine photographer, to discuss an unusual commission.

He had in his possession two metal filing-cabinets, one brown, one grey, containing private papers and a collection of furs, jewellery and other assorted memorabilia, all belonging to Marilyn Monroe. Would Anderson be interested in photographing the collection?

The material - about 10,000 documents - had been thought lost for more than 40 years since the death of Monroe on the night of 4 August 1962. Now, here it was, a treasure trove, languishing in a Californian suburb.

It was the commission of a lifetime, the largest undocumented Monroe archive in existence. Yes, of course Anderson was interested, and, with the help of the biographer and Monroe aficionado Lois Banner, he set about creating a record of the archive's contents, which is now to be published for the first time as a book.

Book

The lost diary of Queen Victoria's final companion

Abdul Karim's writings, hidden by his family until now, throw new light on a close and controversial relationship, says Ben Leach.

'I am so very fond of him. He is so good and gentle and understanding... and is a real comfort to me."

These were the words of Queen Victoria speaking to her daughter-in-law, Louise, Duchess of Connaught, on November 3, 1888, at Balmoral. Perhaps surprising, though, is who she was talking about - not her beloved husband, Albert, who had died in 1861. Nor John Brown, her loyal Scottish ghillie, who in many ways filled the void left by Albert, since Brown had died in 1883.

Instead, Queen Victoria was referring to Abdul Karim, her 24-year-old Indian servant.

Her relationship with Karim was one that sent shockwaves through the royal court - and ended up being one of the most scandalous periods of her 64-year reign.

Indeed, such was the ill-feeling that when Victoria died, her son King Edward ordered all records of their relationship, including correspondence and photographs, to be destroyed.
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© Unknown
Her most trusted confidante: a portrait of Abdul Karim

Igloo

Oldest subarctic North American human remains found

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© Ben Potter
Joshua Reuther, Ben Potter and Joel Irish excavate the burial pit at the Upward Sun River site in Alaska.
A newly excavated archaeological site in Alaska contained the cremated remains of one of the earliest inhabitants of North America. The site may provide rare insights into the burial practices of Ice Age people and shed new light on their daily lives.

University of Alaska Fairbanks archaeologist Ben Potter and four colleagues published their discovery in the Feb. 25 edition of the journal Science.

The skeletal remains appear to be that of an approximately three-year-old child, found in an ancient fire pit within an equally ancient dwelling at the Upward Sun River site, near the Tanana River in central Alaska. Radiocarbon dating of wood at the site indicates the cremation took place roughly 11,500 years ago, when the Bering Land Bridge may still have connected Alaska and Asia. Initial observations of the teeth by UAF bioarchaeologist Joel Irish provide confirmation that the child is biologically affiliated with Native Americans and Northeast Asians.

Frog

Dinosaur Discovery: 10 Recent Prehistoric Discoveries

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© iStockphoto
Tyrannosaurus rex was a lean mean hunter and warm blooded, news discoveries suggest
Our knowledge of dinosaurs is increasing all the time. Here are a list of the most recent discoveries.

Dinosaur Extinction

Dinosaurs survived for more than 700,000 years after the earth was hit by a massive meteorite originally believed to have caused their extinction, according to new research.

Tests on a fossilised bone of a plant eating dinosaur discovered in New Mexico found that it was only 64.8 million years old.

Scientists at the university of Alberta, Canada, said it is possible that in some areas the vegetation wasn't wiped out and a number of hadrosaur species survived.