الخميس، 17 سبتمبر 2015

16 pyramids discovered in ancient cemetery

The remains of 16 pyramids with tombs underneath have been discovered in a cemetery near the ancient town of Gematon in Sudan.  
They date back around 2,000 years, to a time when a kingdom called "Kush" flourished in Sudan. Pyramid building was popular among the Kushites. They built them until their kingdom collapsed in the fourth century AD.
Derek Welsby, a curator at the British Museum in London, and his team have been excavating at Gematon since 1998, uncovering the 16 pyramids, among many other finds, in that time. "So far, we've excavated six made out of stone and 10 made out of mud brick," Welsby said. 
The largest pyramid found at Gematon was about 35 feet long on each side and would have risen around 43 feet off the ground. [See Photos of 2,000-Year-Old Pyramids Discovered at Another Site in Sudan]
Wealthy and powerful individuals built some of the pyramids, while people of more modest means built the others, Welsby said. "They're not just the upper-elite burials," he said.
In fact, not all the tombs in the cemetery have pyramids: Some are buried beneath simple rectangular structures called "mastaba," whereas others are topped with piles of rocks called "tumuli." Meanwhile, other tombs have no surviving burial markers at all.
Burial goods
In one tomb, archaeologists discovered an offering table made of tin-bronze. Carved into the tableis a scene showing a prince or priest offering incense and libations to the god Osiris, the ruler of the underworld. Behind Osiris is the goddess Isis, who is also shown pouring libations to Osiris.
Though Osiris and Isis originated in Egypt, they were also venerated in Kush as well as other parts of the ancient world. The offering table "is a royal object," Welsby said. The person buried with this table "must have been someone very senior in the royal family."
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الأربعاء، 16 سبتمبر 2015

States move to ban aborted fetal tissue from medical research

Aggressive state efforts to ban the use of fetal tissue in research is alarming some scientists who say such measures will set back efforts to cure the world’s deadliest diseases, including cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
But lawmakers in states like California and Wisconsin, which are deliberating whether to make their state laws even tougher than federal restrictions, say ending the practice of harvesting organs from aborted fetuses is a moral and ethical imperative.
They say the summer release of nine undercover videos featuring Planned Parenthood representatives and others talking candidly about obtaining and transferring fetal body parts to laboratories has sparked outrage among their constituencies, and has “pulled back the curtain” on what they say is a gruesome business.
“There’s a lot of outrage and I think certainly a lot of strong feelings (in the General Assembly) similar to what we are hearing from our constituencies. They want this to stop and the videos are certainly what’s forcing that,” said Wisconsin Republican State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, who is also the majority leader.
He is helping to shepherd a bill through the Republican-dominated legislature that would not only prohibit the sale of fetal body parts – which is already banned under federal law – but would also demand that “no person may knowingly and for valuable consideration acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer a fetal body part.”
In addition, it would ban all use of fetal tissue from abortions for experimentation.
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Hull of Confederate sub, first in history to sink enemy warship, revealed

The hull of the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship has been cleaned and revealed for the first time in 150 years.
After a year of painstaking work, scientists using small chisels and hand tools have removed encrusted sand, sediment and rust from the outside of the hand-cranked Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.
Now, the outside appears much as it did when the Hunley and its eight-man crew rammed a spar with a powder charge into the USS Housatonic and sank the Union blockade ship off South Carolina in 1864.
But scientists said Thursday that cleaning the hull didn't solve the mystery of why the Hunley itself sank with its crew before returning from its mission.
Cleaning the hull showed some dents on both sides of the submarine. But scientists say it's not clear when the dents occurred. The Hunley sank twice before it went on its 1864 mission, though it also could have been dented at the time of the Housatonic attack or later when the sub sat for decades on the ocean floor off Charleston. "If there was a smoking gun, we would have seen it a long time ago," said Johanna Rivera-Diaz, a conservator with the Hunley project.
The most significant find from cleaning the hull is an indication that a wooden boom at the front of the Hunley that supported the spar with the powder charge was damaged in the attack. It appeared as if the boom had been pushed back into the sub. That would be consistent with the boom striking a vessel, said Michael Scafuri, an archaeologist with the project.
The conservation team has laboriously removed about 1,200 pounds of sediment and other gunk from the outside hull of the Hunley, which was built in an attempt to break the Union blockade that was strangling Charleston. That's roughly the same weight as a grand piano.
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الثلاثاء، 15 سبتمبر 2015

Medieval skeleton discovered in tree suffered violent death, experts say

Archaeologists in Ireland have unearthed startling details about the strange medieval skeleton found in the roots of a 215 year-old tree.
The beech tree in Collooney, Sligo, fell during a storm earlier this year, revealing the macabre sight of a skeleton trapped in its roots.  The Irish National Monuments Service brought in experts from Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services to excavate and analyze the remains, revealing a grisly tale.
“He had been killed violently,” Marion Dowd, director of Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services, told FoxNews.com. “We have stab wounds in the upper chest and they were inflicted by a knife – we also have a stab wound in the left hand, which suggests that he was trying to defend himself.”
The skeleton is of a young man between the ages of 17 and 20. Radiocarbon analysis has dated the remains to between 900 and 1,000 years old.
“We don’t know if he was killed in a battle or if this was a personal dispute,” said Dowd, noting that the body was originally buried in a Christian fashion with its head pointing to the west. “His family or community must have buried him,” she added.
Dowd told FoxNews.com that whoever planted the tree was unaware of the grave. “It’s completely coincidental – the context is unusual,” she said. “There are historical records that say there was a church and graveyard in the area, but there are no remains visible today.”
Another aspect of the excavation is unusual – the young man’s height. “He’s 5-foot-10,” said Dowd. “For early medieval society that’s pretty tall.”
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الاثنين، 14 سبتمبر 2015

Paleolithic hunter-gatherers loved oatmeal too

Some like it hot, some like it cold, and it looks like they probably liked it about 32,000 years ago.
An ancient grinding stone found in the Grotta Paglicci, Apulia, in southern Italy, has hit the news after scientists discovered that some of the debris on the stone turns out to be none other than oatmeal. The stone harkens back to the Gravettian era, a late Paleolithic culture, known for its tool making. It was recovered in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until recently that Marta Mariotti Lippi and team at the University of Florence in Italy studied the debris and found the oat fragments.
The team determined that the Gravettian people heated the grains before grinding them with the stone in order to preserve and prep them for processing. The resulting powder was then made into bread and oatmeal.
The Grotta Paglicci, Apulia served as home to ancient hunter-gatherer cultures anywhere from 34,000-32,000 years ago, and has produced artifacts that include mural paintings with animals and etchings on bones. As for the stone, Lippi says the team intends to continue studying the debris to find out what else prehistoric cultures dined on.
Matt Pope, an archaeologist with University College London, told Herald Scotland, “There is a relationship there to be explored between diet, experimentation with processing plant food and cultural sophistication. We’ve had evidence of the processing of roots and cattails, but here we’ve got a grain, and a grain that we’re very familiar with.”
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الأحد، 13 سبتمبر 2015

CIA ship at center of 'strangest covert operation' to meet its end

More than 40 years after it was the centerpiece of what PRI calls "possibly the biggest and strangest covert operation" of the Cold War, a piece of CIA history is headed for the scrap heap.
After the Soviet Union failed to find one of its nuclear submarines that sank 1,500 miles northwest of Hawaii in 1968, the CIA swooped in, hoping to recover both the sub's nuclear missiles and its cryptography gear, according to Reuters.
Under the code name Project Azorian, the CIA schemed to raise the 14 million-pound sub three miles to the surface—an undertaking considered impossible. "I think given a better background in marine engineering, we likely would not have tried," says the retired CIA employee who finally revealed the long-officially-secret story in 2012.
The ship that the CIA came up with—and what is now being scrapped: the Hughes Glomar Explorer. The ship was unique to say the least: 619 feet long and too wide to fit in the Panama Canal, it featured massive hydraulics, ball bearings the size of bowling balls, and one huge claw with which to grab the sub wreck.
The CIA was able to cover up the construction of the ship for four years by convincing the world Howard Hughes was building it to mine manganese nodules from the ocean floor.
Project Azorian was modestly successful, with the Hughes Glomar only raising the bow of the Soviet sub. The CIA's infamous "Glomar Response" ("we can neither confirm nor deny...") has its origins in the agency's attempt to keep the project secret even as details leaked.
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New book claims Nazi soldiers were high on crystal meth

You can add drug abuse to the long list of Nazi exploits, according to author Norman Ohler, who claims Adolf Hitler's soldiers were as high as a kite during World War II.
When a friend mentioned Nazi soldiers used drugs, Ohler began scouring US and German archives and uncovered some surprises, described in his new bookDer Totale Rausch (Total Rush), per Deutsche Welle.
First, notes from Hitler's personal physician describe him receiving 800 injections of animal hormones and the opiate Eukodal, which Ohler calls "a pharmaceutical cousin of heroin," over 1,349 days, reports the Independent.
But Ohler also uncovered evidence that Nazi soldiers were on drugs during major offenses. Though the Nazis condemned cocaine, opium, and morphine as "Jewish," Nazi chemist Fritz Hauschild developed a new drug, Pervitin, which was basically crystal meth in a pill, Ohler says.
It wasn't some secret operation: Pervitin was openly available in Germany in 1937 and used as a kind of medicine to make people feel alert. It was even put in chocolates so housewives could take part in the high.
"It became a drug of choice, like people drink coffee to boost their energy," Ohler says. "For the first couple of days, you don't need to sleep." That made it perfect for when Hitler's armies invaded Poland in 1939.
Ahead of the attack on France, some 35 million tablets were ordered for the army, Ohler says. General Erwin Rommel, a decorated tank commander known as the "Desert Fox," reportedly consumed Pervitin like it was his "daily bread," reports the Independent.
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