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Sunday, 8 February 2009

Ancient history, January, 2009

Today:

  1. Peruvians walked their prayers into the earth
  2. The Maya suffered for their looks
  3. Study on early human migration focuses on stomachs
  4. The web of human progress revealed
  5. Pacific people spread from Taiwan
And by the way, check out what I found- the Vedic twin-gods of the Sun the Ashvins are the same like the Latvian and Lithuanian Ašvieniai! The same gods! If that's not amazing!

Peruvians walked their prayers into the earth

THE ancient, intricate geometric patterns stamped on the surface of a desert in Peru have long been thought of as messages to the gods, or as markers that tracked celestial objects. Now new details about these geoglyphs suggest they may have been made for "prayer walking".

The Nasca lines are a collection of lines, giant trapezoids, and figures of humans, plants and animals in a desert 400 kilometres south of Lima, Peru. They were created between 400 BC and AD 650 by the removal of reddish oxidised stones from the desert pavement to reveal the lighter sand beneath.

Tomasz Gorka of Munich University in Germany analysed five geoglyph complexes near the city of Palpa, focusing on the large trapezoidal structures which are etched on the plains there. He measured anomalies in the Earth's magnetic field caused by changes in soil density at various depths. The team walked the entire site, an area of about 60 hectares, using hand-held sensors.

"We found other lines, in the interior of the trapezoid structures, which were not visible from the air," says Gorka.

Some of the lines produced stronger magnetic anomalies than others, prompting Gorka and Karsten Lambers of the University of Konstanz in Germany to suggest that the soil beneath was compacted by people walking back and forth during prayer rituals. source

My comment: Obviously, the last part is ridiculous, but if you like it, your choice. For me, the important information is that there are anomalies along these lines. That could suggest the use of weird elements on them for example. Obviously those lines are special in one way. Of course, the best thing to do is to make a map of the anomalies alond all of them and the surrounding area, but this is also very exciting result. The next step is to take samples from the soil on some depth and check what's causing the anomalies-to know whether they are surface based or internal. If they are surface one-then it makes sense that they were produced by something. If they are natural, then it makses sense to guess that something was using them. It's so interesting!

The Maya suffered for their looks

“The Maya went to extreme lengths to transform their bodies,” Professor Mary Miller reports in the new year issue of Archaeology, the US journal. “They invested vast wealth and endured unspeakable pain to make themselves beautiful.”

As an example, Professor Miller cites K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, who ruled the western Maya city of Palenque from AD615 to 683, and after his death at the age of 80 was interred in a great carved sarcophagus below the Temple of the Inscriptions. His skeleton shows that soon after his birth, his head was strapped between two cradle-boards to compress it from back to front.

This left an indentation above his browline, which was emphasised by an artificial nasal bridge, probably of clay or plaster, built up on to his forehead. Although this does not survive in the burial, a stucco portrait head found below the sarcophagus shows it clearly. The head also shows that Pakal’s hair was cut in a series of bluntly trimmed tresses, with longer strands on top flopping forward, which Professor Miller interprets as imitating the leaves and corn silk on a maize plant: at the site of Cacaxtla, Maya-style murals show maize cobs on the plant as human heads.

Pakal’s front teeth were filed into an inverted T-shape, marking him as also being the Sun God, something shown on his jade burial mask as well. For many Maya, notably those of the elite, dental decoration was seen as highly desirable.

Teeth, especially the upper incisors and canines were filed and notched in a variety of designs, giving in some cases a distinctly crooked smile. Most striking, however, were the dental inlays: a shallow hole was drilled into the front face of the tooth enamel (using a reed or bone hollow drill and an abrasive such as sand or jade dust), sometimes reaching the dentine within.

Small discs of jade, obsidian or haematite were then cemented into the holes: the plant adhesive was so powerful that many burials found by archaeologists today still have the inlays firmly in place. Up to three discs were inserted into a single tooth, and jade and the other materials were combined to give a flash of apple-green, dull red and shiny black across the mouth; inlays and filing were also combined. Dental decoration was probably applied as a rite of passage to adulthood, according to Professor Stephen Houston, of Brown University, Rhode Island.

The Maya also painted their bodies, in life and in death. In death, Pakal’s corpse was treated with alternating layers of red and black pigments, Professor Miller reports. Red to the Maya was the colour of the sunrise, black of the sunset, alternating with each other in the diurnal cycle. source

My comment: I'm pretty impressed by the fact that the plant cement lasted hundreds of years! If it's safe, can't we use it now? Ok, seriously, why did they do that? And the shape, the same as the aliens we imagine. Isn't it odd? You don't do that our of vanity, it's just too much. You do it to comply with some sort of very strict expectation. You do it for your soul. Why? And isn't it interesting that the skulls from Malta are also very odd. And that they are veeery hidden.

Study on early human migration focuses on stomachs

By ERIC BERGER, Jan. 22, 2009, 2:17PM

To better understand the early migrations of humans, modern scientists have followed their stomachs.

The findings, based upon an analysis of bacteria in the guts of modern humans, show that two major migrations from Southeast Asia populated the islands of the Pacific.

The researchers, including gastroenterologists at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, sampled the bacterial parasite Helicobacter pylori in the stomachs of present-day aborigines in the Pacific.

Only humans carry the H. pylori bacterium, which causes ulcers and gastric cancer, so it travels with people as they migrate. The bacteria itself mutates more rapidly than human DNA.

The novel research approach allowed scientists to compare the bacteria in the stomachs of aborigines across the Pacific to gain an understanding of when they came to the islands and from where.

“It’s most interesting to me that the people in Polynesia came from Taiwan about 5,000 years ago,” said Dr. David Graham, a professor at Baylor and a study co-author.

Earlier studies concluded that humans first came out of Africa about 60,000 years ago, slowly spreading into Asia via a southern coastal route. Later, sometime between 31,000 to 37,000 years ago, a group of humans crossed to New Guinea and Australia.

The second major Pacific migration came much later, about 5,000 years ago, when people from Taiwan began colonizing the Malay Archipelago and the rest of the Pacific.

Left unanswered is why humans undertook such heroic sea voyages at a time when, halfway around the world, Egyptians were just beginning to learn how to sail. source

My comment: A very interesting article. I prefer those than plain archeology which somewhat too conservative. So, they came from Taiwan. That's interesting. The question why they did it is really important. Because they didn't have to, if you think about it! I wonder how exact those surveys are. Because it wasn't exactly a piece of cake!

The web of human progress revealed


22 January 2009

When I started tracing my ancestors online a few years back, the trail went cold about 200 years ago at Westmeath in Ireland. Now I have moved on and reached back 50,000 years thanks to the Genographic project, now in its fourth year, organised by National Geographic. A team from NG is scouring the Earth to collect more than 100,000 DNA samples to which are added many more from members of the public such as me.

My line has been traced back to 10,000 fellow members of Homo sapiens living in or about the Rift Valley in north Africa (roughly, modern Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania). It seems I am nothing special. About 70% of men in the south of England are fellow members of my "haplogroup", R1b, rising to more than 90% in parts of Spain and Ireland (95% in the north). R1b is a kind of communal marker for men in the UK.

Another key ancestor born 40,000 years ago somewhere around modern Iran triggered a mutation marking a new lineage that spent the next 30,000 years populating much of the planet, with splinter groups moving into central Asia, Pakistan and India. NG points out that the descendants of my Iranian, or southern-central Asian ancestors, known as the Eurasian clan, include most people in the northern hemisphere, nearly all north Americans and east Asians and many Indians.

About 30,000 years ago our clan, by now numbering about 100,000 people, headed for Europe, marking the end of the 200,000-year era of the Neanderthals that had inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia previously. Some 20,000 years ago, expanding ice forced us to retreat to southern Spain, Italy and the Balkans before eventually moving back to the British Isles.

Sadly, the genetic traces of my ancestors' group ends between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago, though more details may be known as a result of extra information participants are invited to contribute about themselves. source

My comment: Only 69 pounds to participate in this research. Well, it's not that much. I would participate if I didn't have privacy concerns. I mean, I'd surely love to know more about me and my ancestors, but I don't know anybody else to know it. Oh, well. But it's certainly interesting. Especially the lack of data from before 5000 years. Very interesting. Also, I can't stop myself of thinking about Iran- it really was the cradle of our civilisation. And now, everybody hates it. So sad.

Pacific people spread from Taiwan

New research into language evolution suggests most Pacific populations originated in Taiwan around 5,200 years ago.

Scientists at The University of Auckland have used sospisticated computer analyses on vocabulary from 400 Austronesian languages to uncover how the Pacific was settled.

"The Austronesian language family is one of the largest in the world, with 1200 languages spread across the Pacific," says Professor Russell Gray of the Department of Psychology. "The settlement of the Pacific is one of the most remarkable prehistoric human population expansions. By studying the basic vocabulary from these languages, such as words for animals, simple verbs, colours and numbers, we can trace how these languages evolved. The relationships between these languages give us a detailed history of Pacific settlement."

The results, published in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Science, show how the settlement of the Pacific proceeded in a series of expansion pulses and settlement pauses. The Austronesians arose in Taiwan around 5,200 years ago. Before entering the Philippines, they paused for around a thousand years, and then spread rapidly across the 7,000km from the Philippines to Polynesia in less than one thousand years. After settling Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, the Austronesians paused again for another thousand years, before finally spreading further into Polynesia eventually reaching as far as New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island. source

My comment: A confirmation of the previous article. I still can't even think what it is to colonize the Pacific. In a canoe! It's amazing. And quite unbelievable :) And how did they end up with so many languages anyway.


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