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Witches and Climate Change

Salem Witch Trials
© Public domain / Artist unknown
An engraving depicting a scene from the Salem Witch Trials. The central figure in this 1876 illustration of the courtroom is usually identified as Mary Walcott, 17, one of several girls in Salem with a psychological disorder known as mass hysteria, and whose condition was blamed on witchcraft..
Salem - The Salem witch tragedy of 1692 took less than two years to play out. Yet 300 years later, explanations for how and why it happened are still coming.

One theory recently gaining exposure thanks to bloggers comes from a 2004 college thesis that places the blame on something we think of as a strictly modern phenomenon: climate change.

Proposed in a Harvard thesis, the paper by economist Emily Oster has earned attention due to the modern swirl of controversy surrounding the possibility that human interaction has altered world temperatures.

Currently an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, Oster linked periodic outbreaks of violence against people accused of witchcraft with dramatic temperature drops.

"The most active period of the witchcraft trials (mainly in Europe) coincides with a period of lower-than-average temperature known to climatologists as the 'little ice age,'" Oster wrote. "The colder temperatures increased the frequency of crop failure, and colder seas prevented cod and other fish from migrating as far north, eliminating this vital food source for some northern areas of Europe."

When crops failed, "people would have searched for a scapegoat in the face of deadly changes in weather patterns," she wrote. Thus, desperate people traced their troubles to unpopular neighbors and outcasts allied to the devil.

Oster noted that the persecutions "spread even across the Atlantic Ocean to Salem, Massachusetts."

Moreover, she added, "The coldest segments of this 'little ice age' period were in the 1590s and between 1680 and 1730."

Comment: See: Laura Knight-Jadczyk's Witches, Comets and Planetary Cataclysms for a fuller explanation of the phenomenon.


Play

Gobekli Tepe: 12,000-year-old unexplained structure in Turkey

Amazing find (History Chanel docum.) in what is now Turkey, 12,000 year-old circular city. Twice as old as any city in Mesopotamia. The Germans are excavating it.

No stone-cutting tools used.


Info

Ancient 'Wave of Poseidon' Was Real Tsunami

Greek Sunset
© Klaus Reicherter
The sun sets over the Greek peninsula of Kassandra, where scientists conducted fieldwork. Mount Olympus looms in the distance.
San Diego - When the ocean rose up and saved a Greek town from a marauding Persian army nearly 1,500 years ago, renowned Greek historian Herodotus chalked it up to an act of the gods.

Yet new evidence suggests his account of divine intervention is firmly rooted in the earthly realm, and was actually a tsunami, according to a researcher who spoke here today (April 19) at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.

"This is historical stuff, but you have to interpret it in a scientific way," said Klaus Reicherter of Germany's Aachen University, who studied geological evidence of the event.

Bell

Stonehenge designed for sound? Mysterious Acoustic Properties

Stonehenge
© Simon Wyatt / University of Salford
Mystery: The researchers found Stonehenge reacted to acoustic activity in a way that would have been noticeable to the Neolithic man suggesting it was built with acoustics in mind
Stonehenge could have been designed with acoustics in mind like a Greek or Roman theatre, a study has revealed.

A team of researchers from the University of Salford spent four years studying the historic site's acoustic properties in a bid to crack the mystery of why it was built.

While they could not confirm the exact purpose of the stones, the researchers did find the space reacted to acoustic activity in a way that would have been noticeable to the Neolithic man.

Comment: Readers may be interested in these excerpts from the Cassiopaean Experiment regarding Stonehenge:

Oct. 23rd 1994

Q: (L) Who built Stonehenge?
A: Druids.
Q: (L) Who were the Druids?
A: Early Aryan group.
Q: (L) How did they move the stones and set them up?
A: Sound wave focusing; try it yourself; coral castle.
Q: (L) Who taught the Druids to use the sound waves?
A: They knew; handed down.
Q: (L) When was Stonehenge built?
A: 8000 approx. BC
Q: (L) What was Stonehenge built to do or be used for?
A: Energy director.
Q: (L) What was this energy to be directed to do?
A: All things.
Q: (L) Was the energy to be directed outward or inward to the center?
A: Both.

December 8th 1996

(L) Okay, what is it about Stonehenge?
A: Location attracted those spirit types on the proper frequency, who in turn, placed stones in proper location to receive the coded communications in code telepathically, in order not to have to chase around the countryside reading encoded pictographs.
Q: (L) What was the technique used within the circle to receive the information telepathically?
A: Transcendent focused thought wave separation.
Q: (L) OK, so that you're saying that moving in a spiral...
A: The spiral serves to translate message by slowing down the wave and focusing thought wave transference energy. Utilizes /transduces electromagnetic waves, the conduit, by breaking down signal from universal language of intent into language of phonetic profile. This is for multiple user necessity.
Q: (L) Multiple user necessity implies that a number of people must do the spiral. Is that correct?
A: No. Must hear and feel and understand precisely the same thing. The molecular structure of the rock, when properly sculpted sing to you.


Question

Swedish Stonehenge? Ancient Stone Structure Spurs Debate

Swedish Stonehenge
© Steffen Hoejager | Shutterstock
An ancient megalithic structure shaped like a ship in Sweden seems to have a similar geometry to Stonehenge, and may have been used as an astronomical calendar, one scientist says.
Ancient Scandinavians dragged 59 boulders to a seaside cliff near what is now the Swedish fishing village of Kåseberga. They carefully arranged the massive stones - each weighing up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) - in the outline of a 220-foot-long (67-meter) ship overlooking the Baltic Sea.

Archaeologists generally agree this megalithic structure, known as Ales Stenar ("Ale's Stones"), was assembled about 1,000 years ago, near the end of the Iron Age, as a burial monument. But a team of researchers now argues it's really 2,500 years old, dating from the Scandinavian Bronze Age, and was built as an astronomical calendar with the same underlying geometry as England's Stonehenge.

"We can now say Stonehenge has a younger sister, but she's so much more beautiful," said Nils-Axel Mörner, a retired geologist from Stockholm University who co-authored the paper on the interpretation, published in March in the International Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Other researchers familiar with the site are skeptical. Among other arguments, they cite the results of carbon dating to reject Mörner's interpretation.

Key

Greek and Byzantine tombs found in Alexandria

Greek byzantine ina lexandria
© Ahram Online
View of the excavated tomb
Egyptian archaeologists have discovered four Greek and Byzantine-era rock tombs in a section of old Alexandria's eastern necropolis in an area neighbouring Al-Ibrahimeya tunnel.

The site was discovered during excavations carried out by the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) and stretches between the areas of Al-Shatbi and Mostafa Kamel.

Excavations uncovered four rock-hewn Greek and Byzantine tombs containing a collection of funerary pots, perfume containers and lamps.

MSA minister Mohamed Ibrahim stated that the aim of the excavations was to inspect the area for archaeological artefacts before declaring it free for residential building.

"It is a very important discovery that adds more detail to the archaeological map of Alexandria," Ibrahim told Ahram Online.

A finely decorated clay container from the second century BC was among the discoveries, he added.

Eye 2

Dinosaur Eggs Found in Russia's Chechnya

Image
© Reuters/Yelena Fitkulina
A man looks at what is believed to be fossilised dinosaur eggs at a site in Russia's volatile Chechnya region April 14, 2012.
Grozny, Russia - Geologists in Russia's volatile Chechnya region have discovered what they believe to be fossilized dinosaur eggs laid by one of the huge extinct reptiles that roamed the Earth more than 60 million years ago.

"We've found about 40 eggs so far, the exact number has not been established," said Said-Emin Dzhabrailov, a geologist at the Chechen State University.

"There could be many more laying under the ground."

The find was uncovered when a construction crew was blasting through a hillside to build a road near the region's border with former Soviet Georgia in the Caucasus Mountains.

A team of geologists stumbled across the smooth, oval rock-like forms, which range from 25 cm to one meter coincidentally on a recent trip to the area, said Dzhabrailov.

Info

Ancient 'Red Deer Cave' People Discovered in Yunnan

Red Deer Cave Skull
© GoKunming
Anatomically unique fossils unearthed in Yunnan could be those of a previously unknown species of human. The remains were first discovered in 1989 inside of southern Yunnan's Maludong cave (马鹿洞), near the city of Jianshui (建水). Until this year the fossils had yet to be studied.

The three specimens have been dubbed Red Deer Cave people after the cave where they were found and the large collection of deer bones located inside it. Radiocarbon dating of ashes found alongside the fossils revealed that they are between 11,500 and 14,300 years old.

Those dates place the find in the Pleistocene era when humans are thought to have evolved into their present form. The specimens from Maludong have traits unique from modern people, yet lived at a time when all other species of human beings were thought by scientists to be extinct.

A team of anthropologists from China and Australia first published their results in the peer-edited journal PlosOne. The group was led by Darren Cunroe, a professor at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and Ji Xueping of the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology.

Info

Rare Ancient Statue Depicts Topless Female Gladiator

Female Gladiator
© Alfonso Manas, University of Granada
The newly identified bronze statue reveals what may be a female gladiator standing in a victory pose, while looking down at what is presumably her fallen opponent.
A small bronze statue dating back nearly 2,000 years may be that of a female gladiator, a victorious one at that, suggests a new study.

If confirmed the statue would represent only the second depiction of a woman gladiator known to exist.

The gladiator statue shows a topless woman, wearing only a loincloth and a bandage around her left knee. Her hair is long, although neat, and in the air she raises what the researcher, Alfonso Manas of the University of Granada, believes is a sica, a short curved sword used by gladiators. The gesture she gives is a "salute to the people, to the crowd," Manas said, an action done by victorious gladiators at the end of a fight.

The female fighter is looking down at the ground, presumably at her fallen opponent.

The "precise real-life" details of the statue suggest the depiction was inspired by an actual person, a real woman who fought, Manas told LiveScience in an interview.

It's not known where the statue was originally found, though it is currently in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbein Hamburg, Germany.

The rarity of such statues likely reflects the idea that female gladiators in ancient Rome were scarce. They were banned by Emperor Septimius Severus in A.D. 200 with only about a dozen references to them in ancient writing surviving to present day.

The only other known depiction of them is a carved relief from the site of Halicarnassus (now in the British Museum) that shows two female gladiators fighting. There have been claims made in the past of burials of female gladiators being uncovered, but none has attracted widespread support among scholars.

Info

What's in a Surname? New Study Explores What the Evolution of Names Reveals About China

Chinese Surnames
© China Ancient.com
What can surnames tell us about the culture, genetics and history of our society? That is the question being answered by Chinese researchers who have traced the evolution of surnames across China. The research, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, reveals how surnames can act as a genetic stamp, allowing scientists to trace lineage and understand the migrations and historical events which shaped modern China.

The research was led by Dr. Jaiwei Chen, from Beijing Normal University, and Professor Yida Yuan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"When it comes to surnames the Chinese people are unique. 1.28 billion people share 7,327surnames. In fact the 100 most common names account for 85% of the population," said Dr Chen. "This means Chinese surnames include more cultural and genetic information than in most other countries."

Dr Chen and the team analysed data from China's National Citizen Identity Information, using isonymy theory which provides a method of exploring population structure by studying the distribution of surnames. This included measuring Genetic distance, the genetic divergence between populations within a species."

"Surnames are inherited through the male line which means they can be considered markers for the Y chromosome genes," said Dr. Chen. "This means a study of surname distribution can help us understand genetic structures and historical social behavior, such as the role of migrations."