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Wed, 20 Feb 2019
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Fossilized teeth reveal unknown prehistoric human relatives

Fossil Teeth
© Song Xing and Paul Tafforeau
Juvenile teeth recovered from a fossil site in China. Hominin remains found at the site share characteristics with Homo erectus, Homo sapiens, and Neanderthals.
Bone by bone, tooth by tooth, the ancient remains of prehistoric human relatives from northern China are giving up their secrets.

In the latest analysis, published in the journal Science Advances, the jawbone and teeth of a child reveal that, like us, these ancient people were slow to mature.

But who these people were remains a mystery.

In recent years, the story of early human evolution has become increasingly complicated. Asia, in particular, is throwing up some head-scratching finds that call into question when different members of the Homo clan migrated out of Africa, and how many separate species existed in different parts of the globe.

The Xujiayao site in the Nihewan Basin of northern China was excavated in the late 1970s. In all, 20 ancient human fossils were found there, including skull fragments, jawbones and teeth from a number of individuals.

There have been two attempts to nail down when these prehistoric people lived. Dating of teeth from animal remains found alongside the hominin bones suggests they lived around 100,000 years ago.

But measurements of trapped electrons in the sediments that contain the fossils point to a more ancient time period.

Info

After Israel slaughtered Gaza during 'Cast Lead', Obama admin met with Israeli generals to counteract damning Goldstone Report and get Israel's story out

Michael Posner

Michael Posner
This is the tenth anniversary of "Cast Lead," Israel's three-week-long onslaught on Gaza that took nearly 1,400 lives, 318 of them children, and that as much as anything helped shift the American view of the conflict, causing young progressives to side with Palestinians.

During those three weeks of horrifying images, President-elect Obama had nothing critical to say and Israel did him a favor in return: it ended the bombing/invasion two days before he was inaugurated.

Then in September the UN Human Rights Council issued a bombshell of its own, the Goldstone Report, which documented what it called war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the onslaught, chiefly the Israeli pattern of deliberately striking civilian targets, including schools, mosques, homes, and a flour mill and a chicken farm.

The Obama administration worked to stymie the report at international bodies, and in the end the report went nowhere (defused by its author, Judge Richard Goldstone, who under huge pressure from his own community retracted the allegation that civilians were intentionally targeted).


Comment: See also:


Info

Weevil in earthenware shed light on Jomon rituals

Maize weevil
© Provided by Hiroki Obata
Traces of a maize weevil on earthenware.
Maize weevils found in potsherds from the Jomon Pottery Culture (c. 8000 B.C.-300 B.C.) period point to an ancient belief that the bug is the incarnation of chestnuts and thus a harbinger of a good harvest, a researcher said.

That hypothesis was presented by Hiroki Obata, a professor of archaeology at Kumamoto University, who previously found that weevils, known as a pest that attacks crops like rice, wheat and maize, feasted on stored chestnuts before grain cultivation had fully started.

Obata discovered that an estimated 500 or so maize weevils had been apparently deliberately mixed into clay for earthenware from the late Jomon period found at the Tatesaki archaeological site in Fukushima, Hokkaido.

Obata, who has extensively researched insect and plant impressions left on Jomon pottery, used X-ray CT scanning and other methods to examine the outer surfaces and insides of the fragments.

Health

Tending the dying in the 19th century

A woman tending to a sick man
© No known copyright restrictions
Volunteer Nurses Tending to the Sick and Wounded. (1861). Engraving by Albert Bobbett
In recent years, many Americans have begun looking for new ways to approach death. The death-positive movement supports people who prefer to die at home, and even those who wish to care for the bodies of loved ones the way many families did before the rise of the funeral industry. Historian Karol K. Weaver took a close look at that earlier approach, studying the business of death in early nineteenth century Pennsylvania, when care for the dying and dead fell mostly to women.

Comment:
See also other articles: One can find guides that explain some of the concepts involved in taken care of the dying, like this WikiHow How to Care for a Dying Person


Books

As Xenophon saw it: Leadership, horsemanship and Socrates dancing

xenophon horse sculpture
© Leemage/Corbis via Getty
On horsemanship and domestic bliss. Bronze horse and rider, found in the sea off Cape Artemision. Late Hellenistic sculpture, National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, 150-125 BC.
Brilliant leader, kind horseman and friend of Socrates: Xenophon's writings inspire a humane, practical approach to life

The band of mercenary soldiers had been on the move through hostile territory for several months when they were told they had enlisted under a lie. They weren't marching to put down a rebellion; they were instead marching in rebellion. Offers of special duty pay from their leader, Cyrus the Younger, however, calmed their anger and doubt, and on they advanced, dusty boots through the desert, as the heat of late-summer Persia rose around them in shimmering waves. The villages they passed by were hostile and strange: alien languages, customs, religions. There was little fresh water.

They has assembled under Cyrus in order to overthrow his brother and rival, Artaxerxes II, king of Persia. Before they reached his defensive line, they were harried on their flanks and from behind, depleting morale and using up their supplies. At a small village named Canaxa 50 miles north of Baghdad, they finally met the Persian king's forces, on a day when the noon temperature could have fried a pork chop. As the battle began, Cyrus rashly charged Artaxerxes himself. He was pierced through by a javelin thrown by one of Artaxerxes' guards, and died on the spot.

Better Earth

700,000 years old skull discovered in Greek cave in 1959 shatters Out of Africa theory

The

The "Petralona man", or "Archanthropus of Petralona"
The "Petralona man", or "Archanthropus of Petralona", is a 700,000-year-old human skull discovered in 1959. Since then, scientists have been trying to trace this skull's origin, a process that has caused considerable controversy.

The skull, indicating the oldest human "europeoid" (presenting European traits), was embedded in a cave's wall in Petralona, near Chalkidiki in Northern Greece. The cave, rich in stalactites and stalagmites, was accidentally located by a shepherd. Dr. Aris Poulianos, an expert anthropologist, member of the UNESCO's International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences and founder of the Anthropological Association of Greece, was assigned a research on the cave and skull.

Comment: For more on the discoveries that further debunk the Out Of Africa theory, see:


Water

Easter Island statues may have been built near sources of fresh water

easter island heads
© Alamy
Binghamton University researchers found that Easter Island's moai statues were built close to sources of fresh water.
The huge stone figures of Easter Island have beguiled explorers, researchers and the wider world for centuries, but now experts say they have cracked one of the biggest mysteries: why the statues are where they are.

Researchers say they have analysed the locations of the megalithic platforms, or ahu, on which many of the statues known as moai sit, as well as scrutinising sites of the island's resources, and have discovered the structures are typically found close to sources of fresh water.

They say the finding backs up the idea that aspects of the construction of the platforms and statues, such as their size, could be tied to the abundance and quality of such supplies.

Comment: Fresh water is more often than not seen as a precious resource, but the study doesn't seem to fully explain why the builders of the Moai would go to so much trouble to make and place the figures there, or why they chose the figures that they did.

See also:


Violin

The dancing plagues that struck medieval Europe

Tarantella
© via Wikimedia Commons
Tarantella dancers, 1828
To medieval peasants in southern Italy, the tarantella was more than a catchy tune. It was something powerful and dangerous. The tarantella could save your life-or drive you to the brink of madness.

It was the dead heat of the summer in Apulia. The year was 1431. After a midday nap in the fields, a woman leapt up, crying out that she'd been bitten by a tarantula. The venom began to work in her body, making her dance convulsively. She strutted her way toward the center of town. Soon others joined her, leaping, shrieking, and twirling uncontrollably. They decked themselves out in bright colors and strange ornaments, dancing for days on end and downing vast quantities of wine.

It was, at once, a rollicking party and a terrifying epidemic.

This is how Nicolas Perotti, a witness to these frenzies, described them: "Some victims called for swords and acted like fencers, others for whips and beat each other. Women called for mirrors, sighed and howled while making indecent motions. Some of them had still stranger fancies, liked to be tossed in the air, dug holes in the ground and rolled themselves in the dirt like swine." It was, at once, a rollicking party and a terrifying epidemic.

Comment: It's notable that in our time outbreaks of apparent madness are all around, as is corruption by those in positions of power, crop failures, disease and social unrest. And the similarities don't end there, see: And for more on social contagion, check out SOTT radio's:


Light Saber

Laser technology shines light on South African lost city of Kweneng

kweneng
© Jeffrey Barbee/allianceearth.org
Professor Karim Sadr stands in front of stones that researchers believe were once the entrance to a household in the ancient city of Kweneng.
From close up, all that is visible are some broken walls among the scrubby brush, a mound covered by parched grass, a dry river gully.

But to Professor Karim Sadr and his team of archaeologists from Johannesburg's University of Witwatersrand, the ruins at Kweneng tell an extraordinary story of a long-lost city.

New laser technology has revealed that Kweneng, about 50km (31 miles) south of South Africa's commercial capital, was once a thriving metropolis with hundreds of households, a vast meeting place, scores of walled family compounds and a bustling market. It was ruled over by kings who regulated trade, waged wars against other similar city states and settled disputes.

The discoveries are important not just for South Africa - which some still claim was largely uninhabited before white settlers colonised the western coast and then pushed inland - but the African continent as a whole.

Comment: By allowing archeologists to review vast tracts of land from the comfort of their computer, aerial scanning has revealed a number of discoveries, including unknown monuments and lost civilizations:


People 2

Evidence shows that nuns may have been involved in production of medieval manuscripts

ethiopian manuscript

Beautiful medieval illuminated manuscripts have for centuries thought to have been the work of male scribes, experts say. This image shows books in the monastery museum of the Orthodox Church of Ura Kidane Mehret, Zege Peninsula, Ethiopia (stock image)
Beautiful medieval illuminated manuscripts have for centuries thought to have been the work of male scribes.

But now archaeologists have found conclusive proof that nuns were involved in producing sacred texts.

Tests on the teeth of a middle-aged female skeleton at a cemetery attached to a medieval nunnery in Germany showed flecks of a rare blue pigment on her teeth.

Scientific detective work reveals that the blue colour - ultramarine, made from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli - indicates she must have been involved in painting the holy books, and licked the end of her paintbrush when using the rare pigment.

Comment: This discovery comes from a period in history that we seemingly know little about, which is why finds like these are so interesting. As noted in Dark Ages and Inquisitions, Ancient and Modern - Or Why Things are Such a Mess On Our Planet and Humanity is on the Verge of Extinction:
Regarding the idea that ancient manuscripts were created out of whole cloth to support the questions of the thinkers of the Renaissance, as Europe emerged from the Dark Ages, I agree that this is certainly possible - even probable. The question is: was there some sort of memory of that ancient time that infused these ideas with life? Lee McIntyre writes:
The Dark Ages are one of the most intriguing periods of human history. They mark a nearly 600-year blank spot in the progress of human civilization in which the knowledge of antiquity almost completely disappeared from the West. It was a time when few people received any sort of education whatsoever, and life was governed by the superstitions and fears fueled by ignorance. (McIntyre, 2006)
See also: Also check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Who was Jesus? Examining the evidence that Christ may in fact have been Caesar!