Tapeworm discovery in prehistoric domestic dog


Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm

From the Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 50, October 2014, Pages 51–62:

Multicomponent analyses of a hydatid cyst from an Early Neolithic hunter–fisher–gatherer from Lake Baikal, Siberia

Highlights:

Echinococcus granulosus infection in an 8000-year-old forager from Siberia.

Differential diagnosis of egg-like, multi-chambered ovoid calcifications.

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes of a parasitic hydatid cyst.

Abstract:

Calcified biological objects are occasionally found at archaeological sites and can be challenging to identify. This paper undertakes the differential diagnosis of what we suggest is an Echinococcus granulosus hydatid cyst from an 8000-year-old mortuary site called Shamanka II in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia. Echinococcus is a parasitic tapeworm that needs two hosts to complete its life cycle: herbivores and humans are intermediate hosts, and carnivores such as dogs, wolves, and foxes are definitive hosts.

In the intermediate host the Echinococcus egg hatches in the digestive system, penetrates the intestine, and is carried via the bloodstream to an organ, where it settles and turns into an ovoid calcified structure called a hydatid cyst. For this object, identification was based on macroscopic, radiographic, and stable isotope analysis. High-resolution computed tomography scanning was used to visualize the interior structure of the object, which is morphologically consistent with the E. granulosus species (called cystic Echinococcus).

Stable isotope analysis of the extracted mineral and protein components of the object narrowed down the range of species from which it could come. The stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of the object’s protein, and stable carbon isotope ratio of the mineral, closely match those of the likely human host. Additionally, the δ13C protein-to-mineral spacing is very low, which fits expectations for a parasitic organism. To our knowledge this is the first isotopic characterization of a hydatid cyst and this method may be useful for future studies. The hydatid cyst most likely came from a probable female adult. Two additional hydatid cysts were found in a young adult female from a contemporaneous mortuary site in the same region, Lokomotiv. This manuscript ends with a brief discussion [of] the importance of domesticated dogs in the disease’s occurrence and the health implication of echinococcal infection for these Early Neolithic hunter–fisher–gatherers.

Spanish dictator Franco’s mass graves uncovered


This video says about itself:

Exhumations, Memory, and the Return of Civil War Ghosts in Spain

21 May 2014

Francisco Ferrandiz, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Since 2000, the exhumation of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War and the Post-War years, mostly involving the largely abandoned graves of civilians killed in the Francoist rearguard by paramilitary groups, has become a central element in contemporary social and political debates in the country about the nature of the armed conflict and the dictatorial regime following it. Although exhumations have become a crucial tool for symbolic reparation and have triggered claims for justice for the crimes committed and now unearthed, the social process unleashed by their opening is way larger, and relates to the emergence of a fragmented and heterogeneous political culture focused on the memory of the defeated in the war. This emergent political culture is expressed in multiple acts of ‘memory recovery’ and ‘dignification’ of the diverse victims of Francoism beyond exhumations, in political acts such as concerts, homages, book publishing, street renaming, battleground tourism, pressure over Francoist monuments, or even academic conferences.

In this talk, the complexity and dynamism of this process is analysed, including from political and legal initiatives of great social and media impact to local actions on the ground, at times failed, ephemeral or almost imperceptible, but no less crucial. Regional differences, associated to uneven public memory policies, will also be considered. In the last few years, the politics of dignification of those defeated in the war is increasingly incorporating elements drawn from international law, such as the concept of ‘crimes against humanity’ or the category of ‘forced disappearence.’ This revitalization of the memory of the defeated in the Civil War has also been accompanied by a resurgence of winners in the war, which have inaugurated an active brand of neofrancoism.

Dr. Ferrandiz is a staff researcher interested in the anthropology of the body, violence and social memory (in Latin America and in Spain), with focus on the analysis on the current process of exhumation of mass graves from the Civil War (1936-9). To cite only a few, his ranging interests include cultural memory, human rights, forensic archaeology, forensic anthropology, to crimes against humanity.

Session 8 in the public, one-credit course Reframing Mass Violence: Human Rights and Social Memory in Latin America and Southern Europe.

Organized by the IAS Reframing Mass Violence Research Collaborative. Cosponsored by the Human Rights Program, and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. This talk occurred on May 8, 2014, from 3:00-4:30pm in 1-109 Hanson Hall.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Mass graves from Spain’s civil war uncovered

18 August 2014

The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory has found mass graves in the Estépar Mountains on the outskirts of the Spanish northern city of Burgos.

A team consisting of 50 Spanish archaeologists, anthropologists and forensic scientists estimates that four mass graves could include between 300 to 400 corpses.

Archaeologist Juan Montero told El Diario, “We have managed to contact sixty families. Everyone is well aware that given the large number of mass graves and the lack of economic resources, due to there being zero government involvement, the tasks of identifying the victims are going to be tremendously complex.”

This music video from Spain is called Ave Maria, Antonio José, BURGOS 2012 03 10.

Among those who are said to be buried there are the composer Antonio José Burgos and his brother Julio, and the father of the writer Francisco Ayala, the last representative of the poets and writers of the Generation of 1927. …

According to local historian José Ignacio Casado, most victims come from those who were arrested and then released. Waiting for them were Falangists, soldiers and members of the Guardia Civil, who would execute them in what were known as “sacas” or “paseos” (“strolls”). Many of these prisoners were released from jails and concentration camps, driven to isolated places at dawn and shot.

The number of bodies in each grave matched the number of released prisoners who stayed in Burgos prison. Ignacio explained to El Diario, “I can tell you that it is those who left prison on September 29 and 30, 1936. Some cases may vary, but we can know who they were by identifying them and their ages with the documentation on those released from the prisons.”

Witnesses described to the Internet daily Público how the victims were executed. After being arrested, and to prevent them from cheering liberty and republic, they were gagged with straps, which were then washed in vomit and saved for the next execution. The executioners forced them to dig their own graves. They were shot at close range, and finished off with rifle butts.

Burgos witnessed one of the most notorious repressions during the Civil War. It is estimated that 2,500 people were executed, mainly consisting of members of the trade unions UGT and CNT, local politicians and mayors of Izquierda Repúblicana, and members of the Socialist Party (PSOE), and in some cases peasants and workers whose crime had been to claim unpaid wages.

According to Paul Preston’s The Spanish Holocaust, 200,000 people were executed between 1936 to 1945 by the fascists.

The regime of General Franco and post-Franco revisionist historiography have justified the repression as a response to the “red terror”. In fact, the fascist repression was planned well in advance, targeting the organised working class and any whom they deemed oppositionists.

In May 1936, two months ahead of the coup, General Mola, in charge of the northern sector, passed instructions to the military bases: “The action must be extremely violent as soon as possible to reduce the enemy, which is strong and well-organised. Of course, we will arrest all the leaders of the political parties, associations or unions that are not affiliated with the [National] movement, applying exemplary punishment to those individuals in order to strangle rebel movements or strikes.”

On July 19, two days after the coup, Mola sent another order: “It is necessary to spread terror, eliminating without scruples or hesitation all those who do not think as we do…. All those who oppose the victory of the movement to save Spain will be shot.”

Since the death of Franco and the end of the fascist dictatorship in 1978, successive governments have attempted to cover up the crimes of fascist regime.

After its election in the 2011, the Popular Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy reduced by 60 percent the budgets dedicated to the Law of Historical Memory (LHM), passed by the previous Socialist Party government, and abolished the Office of Victims of the Civil War and the Dictatorship, which coordinated the exhumation of the remains of those that disappeared. For 2013-2014, the budget for LHM ceased to exist, forcing the associations dedicated to recovering the remains to rely on donations.

Last September, the Popular Party government refused to extradite four fascists indicted by Argentinean judge María Romilda Servini, who declared that under universal jurisdiction they could be charged under international law if the Spanish judiciary did not carry out prosecution.

This came four years after judge Baltasar Garzón, who began an investigation into Franco-era crimes, was subjected to an intense campaign of vilification that led to his prosecution and being barred from practising as a judge for 11 years.

Against Servini, the PP and the opposition PSOE closed ranks in defence of the 1977 Amnesty Law, passed during the transition from fascism to bourgeois democracy following Franco’s death in 1975, which prevents any reckoning and investigation into the crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship. In response, the former leader of the Stalinist-led United Left, Gaspar Llamazares, called for a mere modification of the law.

The government has remained completely silent on the latest list of recommendations sent in July by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, which call for a “schedule indicating the measures that will be taken.”

While the recommendations are not binding, Madrid has an obligation to reply.

The efforts to conceal the past crimes are not motivated only by historic concerns. Under conditions where the economic crisis and austerity have caused 21 percent of the population to be classified as poor, where 2.3 million children—27.5 percent of the total—live under the poverty line, and where 25 percent of workers are unemployed, the same conditions that led to the revolutionary explosions of the 1930s and the ruling class’s pre-emptive counter-revolution, are being created.

The ruling class sees the need to justify past dictatorships in order to set up a new one and to smash any opposition to austerity and imperialist war.

Tunisian cultural workers protesting


This video is called El Jem, Tunisia – Roman Archaeology.

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Tunisian cultural workers protest

Cultural workers in Tunisia began a three-day strike on July 9, impacting festivals and similar events. One expected to be affected is the International Festival of [Carthage], which is the largest in the country and takes place from [July] 10 to August 16.

The workers had held a three-day strike in June. They are also calling for an investigation into corruption in the National Institute of Heritage for the publication of financial and administrative data relating to the national library service. In addition, they are opposing plans to privatize some Tunisian archaeological sites and museums.

Explorer Thor Heyerdahl born 100 years ago


This video from Oslo in Norway is called The Kon-Tiki Museum.

From the Norway Post:

Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo celebrates the 100th anniversary of Thor Heyerdahl’s birth

Amazing new exhibition and activities in Norway and abroad as the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo celebrates the 100th anniversary of Thor Heyerdahl’s birth

When the famous Norwegian adventurer, scientist and communicator Thor Heyerdahl died on 18 April 2002 it made headlines around the world. No Norwegian celebrity’s death has received as much coverage before or since. He had become world famous 55 years earlier thanks to his legendary Kon-Tiki expedition and photos of Thor Heyerdahl and his crew together with the USA’s President Truman outside the White House.

The photos and the story of the Kon-Tiki expedition were everywhere. Naturally, interest did not decline when the film about the expedition won the Oscar for best documentary and the book sold by the millions. It has since been translated into 72 languages. During these years, Thor Heyerdahl retained his world celebrity thanks to new expeditions that were loved by the entire world, but also strongly criticised by academia.

He followed up the Kon-Tiki expedition with other spectacular expeditions on the reed boats Ra and Tigris. His recreations of prehistoric voyages showed that early man had mastered sailing before the saddle and wheel were invented. His reputation as a scientist was consolidated through his archaeological excavations on the fabled, mysterious Easter Island. Curiosity was Thor Heyerdahl’s driving force. Thor Heyerdahl’s archives at the Kon-Tiki Museum have now been included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. Much of this archive is now on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum’s new library exhibition, which opened in April this year.

The Kon-Tiki Museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth with a new, upgraded exhibition. There will also be a touring exhibition, accompanied by lectures and films, which will travel around Norway and abroad: Russia, the UK, Italy, the US, Canada, Spain, Armenia, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania and Estonia. The ‘Thor Heyerdahl 1914 – 2014′ exhibition portrays Thor Heyerdahl’s life and best known expeditions on large posters through text and photos. At the Kon-Tiki Museum the Kon-Tiki raft has been fitted out as it was on its voyage across the Pacific Ocean in 1947.

Upgraded Kon-Tiki exhibition – Kon-Tiki sails again

The exhibition is our most comprehensive yet and has a special section for children. A new exhibition, ‘The Tiki Effect’, tells the story of how the names Kon-Tiki and Aku Aku (Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition to Easter Island in the 1950s) became buzzwords from the 1950s to the 1970s, with bars, restaurants, music and fashion named after Kon-Tiki and Aku Aku. Even Walt Disney adopted the idea in Disneyland and the well-known pop group The Shadows had a hit with a song called Kon-Tiki.

This music video is called The Stranger ~ Kon Tiki – The Shadows.

The Galapagos expedition – new exhibition

Thor Heyerdahl believed that South American Indians could have sailed from Peru and Ecuador to the Polynesian islands. He proved this was feasible with the Kon-Tiki expedition.

“Why did no Indians visit the Galapagos Islands?” asked his opponents, who claimed that there were no clear signs that South American Indians had visited the Galapagos Islands. Thor Heyerdahl took this as a direct challenge. He quickly organised a small expedition with three archaeologists. Within two months, after digging in five locations on Floreana, Santa Cruz and Santiago, the three men had collected more than 1,988 pieces of pottery, one pottery flute, four pieces of flint, one piece of obsidian, and two other artefacts that proved the islands had been visited in both historic and prehistoric times.

Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition to the Galapagos Islands now has its own exhibition at the museum where kids can also learn how an archaeologist works.

Cave stone sculptures from Easter Island

When Thor Heyerdahl was on Easter Island in 1955-1956 he learned that there were old family caves that were passed down through the generations. Thor Heyerdahl became the first outsider, from a country far away over the sea, who was allowed to see a family cave on Easter Island. The sculptures he found here depicted a wide variety of subjects, from people and mammals to birds, fish, insects and molluscs. There were skulls carved in stone, animals with human heads, faces with beards, a hook-beaked birdman and models of reed boats. Thor Heyerdahl was given some of the cave stones by the local population and he bought others.

Since then, the 900 cave stone sculptures have been stored at the Kon-Tiki Museum, inaccessible to the general public until this summer in 2014. Some of them are old, while others were probably made while Thor Heyerdahl was on Easter Island in 1955-1956.

More exhibitions about Thor Heyerdahl the scientist, environmentalist, adventurer and artist will open in the autumn of 2014. There will also be a new exhibition about the fantastic voyages across the Atlantic Ocean on Ra and RA II, both named after the Egyptian sun god.

Emperor Nero really had a revolving dining hall, archaeologists prove


This video is called The Life And Death Of Emperor Nero.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

Nero’s revolving restaurant really existed, archaeologists prove

Haaretz gets an exclusive look at the reopened dig of the infamous Emperor Nero’s rotating dining hall in Rome.

By Ariel David

July 1, 2014 | 10:10 AM

Dormice drenched in honey and poppy seeds as an appetizer.

Roast boar stuffed with live thrushes for the main course, focaccia with cheese and Spanish honey for dessert, and a finale of fresh oysters and grilled snails. All washed down with wine aged for a century.

That’s only part of the decadent menu that the satirical writer Petronius reports could be sampled at a typical banquet hosted by first-century Roman elites.

It’s easy to imagine even more exotic delicacies gracing the table of an emperor when visiting the remains of what archeologists believe was one of the most peculiar and sophisticated structures of antiquity: the revolving dining room built by the infamous Nero. First uncovered in 2009 by a team of French and Italian archeologists, the building is now undergoing excavations and will be visible to the public after October, when the dig ends.

Haaretz got an exclusive tour of the site last month, as well as insight into the archeological detective work that went into identifying the building.

Mystery: The platform that should have collapsed

When they started digging on an artificial terrace created by Nero’s successors on the north-east corner of Rome’s Palatine hill, researchers certainly hadn’t been looking for a precursor to the modern revolving restaurant.

The platform was built after 70 CE, shortly after Nero was toppled in a revolt. His successors, the Flavian dynasty, were moving to consolidate their rule by building a new palace on the Palatine, the traditional seat of imperial power in Rome.

Modern researchers had puzzled over the area because surveys showed the retaining wall was too thin to hold the artificial terrace: the whole thing should have collapsed.

“It was a mystery that needed to be solved,” says Francois Villedieu, the French archeologist who leads the dig. “There had to be something big underground holding it all in place.”

What they found was a huge puzzle: a round, 12-meter-tall tower, with a massive central pillar of four meters in diameter and 8 pairs of arches supporting two floors.

“There was no other ancient building like it, nothing to compare it to,” Villedieu recalls. The strata it occupied and the building technique dated the tower to Nero’s time. But whatever it was built to support had been razed to make way for the new palace and erase the memory of the previous ruler, reviled as a cruel, corrupt despot and megalomaniacal builder who allegedly fiddled while Rome burned down in 64 CE.

The only clues to the tower’s function, along the top of the upper arches, were lines of semi-spherical holes, filled with slippery clay.

Primitive ball bearings and water power

Archeologists were reminded of cavities, filled with similar lubricants, that were used on large ships and harbor structures to contain primitive ball bearings, on which moveable platforms were mounted to transport heavy loads.

But what was such industrial equipment doing in what would have been part of Nero’s elegant palace, the fabled D[omus aurea] – the Golden House?

It was then that researchers recalled a description of the emperor’s palace by the Roman historian Suetonius, who wrote that Nero’s “main dining room was round, and revolved continuously on itself, day and night, like the world.”

Historians had long thought that Suetonius had exaggerated his description and that the coenatio rotunda was the round, frescoed hall located in another part of the immense palace, on the opposite Esquiline Hill.

But the discovery by Villedieu’s team is set to change that view. The mysterious cavities in the structure are believed to have housed metal spheres that supported a revolving floor.

At the bottom of the tower, archeologists also found indications that a mechanism had been built into the wall. The metal parts had been ripped out to be reused, but calcite deposits on the surrounding stones suggest that the floor’s constant movement may have been powered by water channeled through a system of gears.

The Sibylline inscription

Further evidence comes from a coin minted by Nero, which shows a tower similar to the one uncovered with two smaller structures on the side, and a Sibylline inscription that describes it as “MAC AUG.”

That second word refers to Augustus, the title that all Caesars took. As for the first abbreviation, some scholars think it refers to the m” or market of Augustus. But others, including Villedieu, believe the tall and narrow building on the coin does not look like a market, and the writing should be read as celebrating the “machina” – the machine of Augustus.

The discovery generated much debate and skepticism among archeologists, so much that it took years for Villedieu to gather funding to continue the dig.

“We don’t have definitive proof, but we have many convincing clues,” Villedieu told Haaretz.

Now, thanks to a prize that the project won in France and with the support of Italian officials, she hopes to find the building’s facade and the other structures depicted on the coin.

Maria Antonietta Tomei, an archeologist and former Culture Ministry official who supervised the dig on the Palatine, said the discovery of the dining room somewhat changes our view of Nero.

The emperor is known mostly through the writings of historians who belonged to the aristocracy and opposed him for his populist economic policies in favor of the poor and the expropriation of lands that belonged to the upper class to build his golden palace, she points out.

“Nero has a terrible reputation but he was a very complex character,” Tomei told Haaretz. “He was not just a negative figure.” And now, in hew view, the mechanical and architectural sophistication of his revolving dining room highlight his passion for science and technology as well as for the arts and culture.