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Thu, 17 Aug 2017
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Ancient Greeks may have designed China's Terracotta Army

© Philippe Wojazer/Reuters
The new evidence is to be shown in a documentary.
Marco Polo may have been beaten to China by 1,500 years according to new evidence. Not only did the travelers get to China earlier than previously believed, but they played a key role in the county's iconic Terracotta Army according to researchers.

"By systematically examining the First Emperor's main tomb and subsidiary burials we have discovered something more important even than the Terracotta Army," Professor Zhang Weixing, lead archaeologist at the tomb site, told BBC documentary makers.

The revised timeline of the West's presence in China emerged after new pieces of evidence including DNA was discovered in China's Xinjiang province dating back to the Third Century BC. Tests on the DNA show it to be of European origin.

Researchers also believe the sudden appearance of life-sized statues in China around this time point to a presence of Greek artists, who would have brought their sculpting techniques to the East following Alexander the Great's reign. Prior to this, Chinese statues were typically no taller than 20cm.

"I imagine that a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals," Professor Lukas Nickel, chair of Asian art history at Vienna University said when speaking about China's famous Terracotta Army, consisting of life-sized models of the soldiers of the First Emperor of China.

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Ancient site in Australia could rival Stonehenge as world's oldest observatory

© Computer image of Stonehenge Site by Richard Patterson 2015
Artist's rendition of the site outside of Mullimbimby, based on old, diary descriptions from a '30s archaeologist.
An ancient Aboriginal site at a secret location in the Victorian bush could be the oldest astronomical observatory in the world, pre-dating Stonehenge and even the Great Pyramids of Giza.

Scientists studying the Wurdi Yuangstone arrangement say it could date back more than 11,000 years and provide clues into the origins of agriculture.

Duane Hamacher, a leader in the study of Indigenous astronomy, has been working with Aboriginal elders at the site to reconstruct their knowledge of the stars and planets.

"Some academics have referred to this stone arrangement here as Australia's version of Stonehenge," Dr Hamacher said.

"I think the question we might have to ask is: is Stonehenge Britain's version of Wurdi Yuang? Because this could be much, much older."

If the site is more than 7,000 years old, it will rewrite history and further disprove the notion that first Australians were uniformly nomadic hunter-gatherers.

Black Magic

Mowing the backyard: Ten most lethal CIA interventions in Latin America

Note: In its 200 year history, the USA has intervened in, invaded or militarily occupied the following Western Hemisphere nations: Canada, Confederate States of America, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Surinam, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Grenada.

While the dates most associated with the Central Intelligence Agency are the 1953 coup against Iran's Mohammed Mossadeq and the following year against Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz, the world's most notorious - and possibly ignoble - spy agency actually was chartered on this day, 18 September, in 1947.

Since then, the CIA has played a role in hundreds of assassinations, military coups, and rebellions around the globe, from Argentina to Zaire.

Despite its championing of freedom, the CIA's true objective has always been imperialist in nature. Whether oil in Iran or bananas in Guatemala, the U.S. has a material interest in every country in whose affairs it has meddled.

Sherlock

Salafism vs. Wahhabism: Are they the same?

© Antonio Melina/Agência Brasil, Wikipedia Commons
Muslims praying
The terms Salafi and Wahhabi are often used interchangeably. Many confuse the two while others refer to them as one. What are the differences between the two?

The study of modern Salafism will not be complete without looking into Wahhabism - a reference to the teachings of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab and its relation to Salafism. In the current discourse on Islam, the term "Salafi" and "Wahhabi" are often used interchangeably. Many confuse the two while others refer to them as one.

Wahhabi is a label given to those who follow the teachings of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. The Wahhabis are always referred to as Salafis, and in fact they prefer to be called as such. As a rule, all Wahhabis are Salafis but not all Salafis are Wahhabis. The term Salafism did not become associated with the Wahhabi creed until the 1970s. It was in the early 20th century that the Wahhabis referred to themselves as Salafis.

Who is a Salafi?

The usage of the term Salafi today refers to those who embrace Salafism (Arabic: Salafiyyah). Salafiyyah is known to be the manhaj or way of the Salafis. The Salafis are Muslims who advocate literal and to some degree binary interpretation of Islamic teachings as enjoined by Prophet Muhammad and subsequently practised by the early pious predecessors known as the salaf al-salih. Following the salaf is the reason for their self-designation as Salafis.

Microscope 2

Europe: DNA discovery reveals an unknown chapter in human history 15,000 years ago

© MAHMOUD ZAYAT/AFP/Getty Images
A major and unexplained population shift occurred in Europe around 15,000 years ago when local hunter-gatherers were almost completely replaced by a group from another area, scientists researching our ancestors' genetics have discovered. The findings were made after the extensive study of DNA evidence obtained from the bones and teeth of ancient people who lived in Europe during from the Late Pleistocene to the early Holocene, a period of roughly 30,000 years.

While attempting to find more genetic data from this time period, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany made an unexpected discovery. The Institute's Johannes Krause said: "We uncovered a completely unknown chapter of human history: a major population turnover at the end of the last Ice Age."

To try and piece together the facts of this 'lost period' the team analysed the mitochondrial genomes of 35 hunter-gatherers who lived in Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, the Czech Republic and Romania, from around 35,000 to 7,000 years ago. Three of these 35 people had DNA that belonged to 'haplogroup M', meaning they all were part of a single line of descent. This haplogroup is almost completely absent in modern Europeans, but it's very common among modern Asian, Australasian and Native American populations.

The absence of this haplogroup in places other than these led scientists to believe that non-African people dispersed gradually throughout history to colonise other parts of the world. However, the discovery that this haplogroup existed in Europe relatively recently instead suggests that all non-Africans quickly dispered from a single group at a specific time, which scientists believe occurred around 50,000 years ago.

This is a major discovery in itself, but the researchers' biggest surprise came when they found evidence that there was a major population turnover in Europe around 14,500 years ago, as the last Ice Age ended and the world began to warm.

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History of human migration reconsidered after discovery of ancient Phonecian's DNA is made

© Handout
A reconstruction of what the 'Young man of Byrsa' may have looked like
A rare genome has been identified in an ancient body pulled from a sarcophagus on a site near ancient Carthage, in a discovery which could throw new light on the history of human movement.

The DNA of the 2,500-year-old remains of the 'Young Man of Byrsa', discovered in 1994 and believed to be that of a young male Phoenician, was sequenced by a team of scientists.

They found it contained an extremely rare type of genome sequence, known as U5b2c1, which is almost unknown among modern populations. The research has now been published in the scientific journal Plos One.

"This is first example of an ancient Phoenician genome," Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith, co-leader of the study with Dr Pierre Zalloua, told The Independent. The DNA was found on the site of Byrsa, a citadel close to the ancient city of Carthage, which now just outside Tunis, Tunisia.

Comment: DNA analysis has also been revealing other discoveries of historical importance:


Archaeology

25 new "Dead Sea Scrolls" come to light

© The Schøyen Collection, Oslo and London, MS 4611
This scroll fragment preserves parts of the Book of Leviticus, in which God promises to reward the people of Israel if they observe the Sabbath and obey the 10 commandments.
More than 25 previously unpublished "Dead Sea Scroll" fragments, dating back 2,000 years and holding text from the Hebrew Bible, have been brought to light, their contents detailed in two new books.

The various scroll fragments record parts of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Ruth, Kings, Micah, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Joshua, Judges, Proverbs, Numbers, Psalms, Ezekiel and Jonah. The Qumran caves ― where the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered ― had yet to yield any fragments from the Book of Nehemiah; if this newly revealed fragment is authenticated it would be the first.

Scholars have expressed concerns that some of the fragments are forgeries.

These 25 newly published fragments are just the tip of the iceberg. A scholar told Live Science that around 70 newly discovered fragments have appeared on the antiquities market since 2002. Additionally, the cabinet minister in charge of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), along with a number of scholars, believes that there are undiscovered scrolls that are being found by looters in caves in the Judean Desert. The IAA is sponsoring a new series of scientific surveys and excavations to find these scrolls before looters do.

Hourglass

Treasure trove of ancient human footprints found near volcano in Tanzania

© Robert Clark, National Geographic Creative
Mudflats in the shadow of the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano captured a huge trove of ancient human footprints.
Nine miles from the volcano the Maasai call the "Mountain of God," researchers have cataloged a spectacularly rare find: an enormous set of well-preserved human footprints left in the mud between 5,000 and 19,000 years ago.

The more than 400 footprints cover an area slightly larger than a tennis court, crisscrossing the dark gray mudflat of Engare Sero, on the southern shore of Tanzania's Lake Natron. No other site in Africa has as many ancient Homo sapiens footprints—making it a treasure trove for scientists trying to tell the story of humankind's earliest days.

Comment: Related articles:


Info

The not-so-underground Reich: W. Germany's senior justice ministry was over 50% Nazi in 1950-70s

© De-okin / Wikipedia
The Federal Ministry of Justice in Berlin
The majority of West German Justice Ministry officials during the post-WWII period were former Nazis that had served in Adolf Hitler's regime, a government study claims, adding that may be why so few Nazis were prosecuted for war crimes.

Between 1949 and 1973, 90 of the West German Justice Ministry's 170 judges and lawyers were ex-members of the Nazi party, an official study presented by German Justice Minister Heiko Maas revealed.

Of those 90, at least 34 had been members of the SA, the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. The SA played a significant role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power and was responsible for the crimes committed during the 1938 Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass, when more than 90 Jews were killed.

Comment: Left unsaid is that this was directly supported and facilitated by the "winner" of the war: the USA. For some like Allen Dulles, the Nazis weren't so bad. Actually, they were pretty darn great. Dulles had always been a supporter, with many Nazi friends, clients, and business associates. After the war, he did all he could to save as many of them as possible from retribution. Many were brought over to the States in Project Paperclip. Many more were put on the payroll overseas, like Reinhard Gehlen, who basically ran the CIA's anti-communism spy activities in West Germany. In truth, the Nazis were never defeated. They just teamed up with the Americans. For more of the details, see David Talbot's recent book, The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government.


Arrow Down

Columbus and the Indians: By Howard Zinn

© US Slave Blogspot
Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:
"They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."
© US Slave Blogspot
These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus. Columbus wrote:
"As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts." The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold?