French Guiana archaeological discoveries


This 2010 BBC video says about itself:

11 August 2010

Michelle Jana Chan explores the heritage of Suriname before crossing the Maroni River into French Guiana.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands, 25 August 2015:

Original inhabitants of French Guiana were not nomads

Archaeologically, French Guiana is still largely unexplored. “The work is hard,” says Martijn van den Bel, “but all you find is brand new. For example, that Indians really lived in the so-called virgin forest.” PhD on September 2.

Finds from unknown epoch

Van den Bel focused on the period from 3000 BC. until the present time. He discovered that French Guiana had already residents then and also that these Indians were not so primitive. He and his colleagues found shards which could be reconstructed into open, round bowls of 30 cm high with powdered quartz stone mixed into the baking clay. They can be dated to the Early Ceramic period (2500 BC.). “There was nothing known about that time,” says Van den Bel.

Palmyra in Syria, ISIS and the CIA


This 2010 video is called Palmyra, Syria.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The atrocities of ISIS and the US wars of sociocide

26 August 2015

Images posted Tuesday on social media have confirmed the destruction by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) of the 2,000-year-old temple of Baal Shamin in the Syrian city of Palmyra. The images show ISIS fighters planting explosive charges throughout the ancient structure and then detonating them, reducing the temple to rubble.

The willful demolition of this site, one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world and one of the best preserved Greco-Roman ruins in existence, followed the savage murder a week earlier of Professor Khaled Assad. The 82-year-old Syrian archeologist had participated in the excavation and restoration of Palmyra’s ruins and had remained there as the head of antiquities for nearly half a century. He was beheaded for refusing to assist ISIS in looting the site.

UNESCO, the United Nations cultural and educational agency, justifiably denounced these atrocities as “war crimes,” adding that “their perpetrators must be accountable for their actions.”

There is no question that those responsible for these acts and for far bloodier atrocities against the Syrian people are criminals and should be held accountable. The obstacle to bringing to justice those principally responsible, however, is the fact that they are the former and current chief officials in the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA.

It was they who laid waste to one Middle Eastern country after another, while working with the Islamist forces that comprise ISIS to carry out their wars of regime-change against a series of secular Arab governments.

The systematic destruction of a cultural heritage carried out by ISIS has a historical precedent in the crimes carried out by the Pol Pot regime and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. This regime set out to erase the country’s cultural heritage, while carrying out a reign of terror and mass murder against the population.

The similarities between ISIS and the Khmer Rouge do not end with their barbaric assaults on culture and human life. In both cases, the preconditions for these atrocities had been created through the destruction of entire societies by US imperialism.

In Cambodia, a US bombing campaign dropped some 532,000 tons of explosives on the country in four years—more than three times the tonnage dropped on Japan during all of World War II. The resulting death toll is estimated as high as 600,000, while 2 million people out of a population of 7 million were made homeless and economic life was shattered.

ISIS and the current bloodshed across Syria and Iraq are the direct products of similar acts of sociocide on the part of US imperialism. In Iraq, the illegal US invasion of 2003, the subsequent occupation and the systematic destruction of what had been one of the most advanced health and social infrastructures in the Arab world claimed the lives of over 1 million Iraqis, while turning another 5 million into refugees. The divide-and-rule strategy pursued by the Pentagon stoked a sectarian civil war by deliberately manipulating tensions between Iraq’s Shia and Sunni populations.

The ramifications of this policy have long since spilled across national borders, with increasingly catastrophic consequences, all driven by Washington’s resort to militarism to advance its aim of hegemony over the energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia.

To this end, the US has been involved in wars for over 35 years, beginning with the CIA’s orchestration of the war for regime-change against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan, where it allied itself with Islamist forces, including Osama bin Laden and the other founders of Al Qaeda.

Nine months before the last US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, Washington and its NATO allies launched another unprovoked war of aggression to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and impose their own puppet regime over the oil-rich North African country. The destruction of the Libyan state and the murder of Gaddafi plunged the country into chaos and bloodshed that continues to this day. Islamist militias used as US proxies in the Libyan war, along with tons of captured Libyan weapons, were subsequently funneled—with the aid of the CIA—into the civil war in Syria, strengthening ISIS and helping create the conditions for it to overrun more than a third of Iraq.

In the name of the never-ending “war on terrorism,” Washington is prosecuting another military campaign in alliance with the Shia-based government in Baghdad against ISIS in the predominately Sunni regions of Iraq, while in Syria it is stepping up military operations in alliance with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Gulf monarchies, while attempting to find “moderate” Sunni Islamists it can utilize as proxies in the war to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The New York Times Tuesday published a lengthy article reflecting an internal debate within the Obama administration over whether to provide more direct US support to Ahrar al-Sham, a Sunni Islamist militia with multiple links to Al Qaeda. The group already receives extensive backing from key US allies Turkey and Qatar.

The horrific consequences of decades of US wars are now spilling into Europe, with the increasingly desperate flight of hundreds of thousands of refugees—in many cases at the cost of their own lives—from homelands that Washington has turned into killing fields.

Politically and morally, the US government and its top officials, starting with Bush and Obama, are totally responsible for all of the crimes, atrocities and human suffering resulting from the multiple wars of aggression they initiated.

None of them have been held to account. Representatives and defenders of an oligarchy of corporate billionaires, they are not, under the present political setup, answerable to the American people, whose opposition to war they routinely defy.

The task of bringing these war criminals to justice and putting an end to the succession of wars and growing threat of a new world war lies with the working class.

Svalbard expedition animals news update


This video says about itself:

15 November 2012

Extremely Rare White Whale Spotted Off The Coast Of Spitsbergen

That was a humpback whale.

Translated from a blog post today by Ms Liesbeth Noor, a participant in the big Dutch Svalbard expedition:

The first day [near Edgeøya island] (last Thursday, August 20th), we immediately spotted a polar bear (from the ship and far away), which meant we were not allowed to land. In the afternoon there was a number of whales in sight, fin, humpback and sei whale. Two came quite close, the rest you had to see with binoculars.

I’ve on Friday joined a day of field work by the team of archaeologists. That meant taking sand samples around a hut of Pomors. Those were Russian seafarers around 200 years ago who had a cabin on the west coast of Edgeøya (just around the corner from where the four Dutch students wintered in 1968, three of these gentlemen are with us now too).

Translated from a blog post by participant Nienke Beintema, about 21 August 2015:

Some researchers counted the seals and collected their droppings. Others took water samples. …

Brünnich’s guillemots overhead, pink-footed geese, a pomarine skua.

Translated from a blog post by Nienke Beintema, about 20 August 2015:

And beneath flat rocks [on the east coast of Spitsbergen island], the scientists found a dozen species of mites and springtails. Which are preserved for genetic research. Are these the same species as on the warmer west coast of Spitsbergen?

English Lost Colony in North Carolina, new research


This video from the USA says about itself:

4 October 2014

Roanoke: The Lost Colony

Josh Bernstein investigates America’s oldest missing person’s case– the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. In 1587, over 100 settlers landed in the New World to build England’s first permanent colony in North America. But, three years later, they had vanished. Did they starve to death? Were they killed by natives? Were there any survivors? Josh travels across two continents to examine the archaeological evidence. He flies high above Roanoke Island in a powered paraglide to scan the terrain; climbs and cores a cypress tree to find out what the climate was like when the colonists disappeared; and conducts a new DNA study that reveals groundbreaking evidence about the fate of the lost settlers.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rupert Cornwell

Sunday 16 August 2015

Carolina’s Lost Colony: The fate of the first British settlers in America was a mystery… until now

Out of America: They arrived two decades before the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts, but the 115 colonists then vanished

There are places, on America’s mid-Atlantic seaboard, where you can still imagine the coastline as the first English settlers must have seen it, more than 400 years ago. No boat marinas, no highways, no beachfront houses for rent: just reeds, marshes and shimmering expanses of water where the sea meets the sky, and the hazy outline of pristine forests.

So it must have been when John White returned to Roanoke Island for the last time. He was well acquainted with the area – part of what is now North Carolina, guarded by the barrier islands today known as the Outer Banks. White had made a first reconnaissance mission there in 1585. Two years later, he was back, as governor of a new permanent colony sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh. But the going was hard, and soon White sailed back to England to organise further supplies.

Unfortunately, there was the small matter of the Spanish Armada to contend with. No ships were available and the fate of a few score intrepid settlers at the rim of the known world was of little import compared with the survival of the Queen’s realm. Only in 1590 could White return to Roanoke. But when he got there – nothing. The 115 colonists had vanished, among them his own daughter and son-in-law, and their infant daughter Virginia Dare, the very first child born to English settlers in the New World, on 18 August 1587.

But what had happened? The departure seemed orderly. The buildings had been carefully dismantled; the only clues left were the letters C-R-O-A-T-O-A-N carved on a post, seemingly a reference to Croatoan, the old name for Cape Hatteras, the extreme southeastern point of the Outer Banks, 50 miles to the south, or to the Croatoan Indians who inhabited coastal North Carolina.

Thus was born the saga of the “Lost Colony”, a mystery for the ages that still provides welcome distraction to American children plodding through their country’s history. Theories abound: that the colonists were slaughtered by hostile Indians; that they died of famine or disease; that they were assimilated, voluntarily or involuntarily, by tribes; even (this being America) that they were abducted by aliens.

But in the most basic historical terms, Roanoke matters. The settlement, whatever its fate, was the first established by the English in North America, predating Jamestown by 20 years, and the arrival of the Mayflower on the hard shores of Massachusetts by more than three decades. Like Jamestown, the colony was a commercial venture, designed to exploit the vast imagined riches of the New World. Instead, it disappeared from the face of the earth. Until now, that is.

For many years, archaeological digs around Hatteras have yielded some tantalising clues: coins, gun parts, a signet ring and various other artefacts from the 16th and 17th centuries. But the real breakthrough came in 2012, as the British Museum scrutinised a watercolour map in its collection called Virginea Pars, on which John White apparently started work in 1585, during his first visit to the area.

The map itself is both beautifully executed and remarkably accurate. What followed, however, might have been lifted from Treasure Island. In the middle of the map, some 50 miles west of Roanoke, is a patch. Using imaging technology, museum experts found that beneath the patch was a blue and red star, possibly denoting a fort.

The location, on the edge of the mainland on the other side of Albemarle Sound, more or less fitted in with a reference that White himself made later to an intended and more permanent destination, about which the new settlers were talking as early as 1587. Why the spot had been covered by a patch is a mystery in itself. Perhaps it was to keep such a plan, of obvious military significance, secret from Spain, then the leading colonial power in the Western Hemisphere.

So, the researchers focused attention on an impoverished corner of North Carolina called Merry Hill, notable mainly for an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course. The area, called Site X, had been looked at before, but this time the digs yielded some particularly telling finds. Last week, the First Colony Foundation, the group which has been sponsoring the excavation, provided the first details.

No evidence of a fort has come to light, nor of the “Cittie of Raleigh” that the Elizabethan courtier-adventurer-poet intended as centre of his project. But the location makes sense, strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers. And the items unearthed by the archaeologists fit in with the period, including bits of guns, a nail and an aglet (a small metal sheath protecting the end of shoelaces) – and, above all, fragments of a type of English pottery known as Surrey-Hampshire Border ware, of which shipments to America stopped in 1624 when the Virginia Company of London was wound up.

None of this amounts to conclusive proof. The discoveries, however, are the most credible suggestion yet that the “Lost Colony”, or part of it, survived after 1587 and after Roanoke, for a while at least. Scholarly opinion is now shifting from the view that the settlers were simply exterminated towards the theory that they were assimilated by neighbouring tribes – this would bear out local lore, about the odd native who was strangely pale-skinned and blue-eyed – and that perhaps the settlers split up, with some heading south to Hatteras, and others moving west to Site X.

There, for now, matters rest. But as so often in attempts to unravel remote history, one discovery leads only to new hypotheses. What, for instance, happened to the settlers once they got to Site X? As Phillip Evans, president of the First Colony Foundation, almost reassuringly puts it: “The mystery of the Lost Colony is still alive and well.” And on both sides of the Atlantic, for in St Bride’s Church, off Fleet Street in London, you’ll find an enigmatic bronze of the child Virginia Dare, in the very place her parents married, before the voyage to the New World from which neither she nor they would return.

Egyptian Queen Nefertiti’s grave discovered?


This 2013 video is called Discovery Channel’sQueen Nefertiti” The Most Beautiful Face of Egypt.

From the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, by Nicholas Reeves:

ABSTRACT

Recently published, high-resolution scans of the walls of room J (the Burial Chamber) of Valley of the Kings tomb KV 62 (Tutankhamun) reveal, beneath the plastered surfaces of the painted scenes, distinct linear traces. These are here mapped, discussed, and tentatively identified as the ‘ghosts’ of two hitherto unrecognized doorways. It is argued that these doorways give access to: (1) a still unexplored storage chamber on the west of room J, seemingly contemporary with the stocking of Tutankhamun‘s burial; and (2) a pre-Tutankhamun continuation of KV 62 towards the north, containing the undisturbed burial of the tomb’s original owner: Nefertiti.

From the Daily Mail in Britain today:

Has Queen Nefertiti been found behind King Tut’s tomb? Scientist claims to have discovered a secret door to her burial chamber in Tutankhamun’s grave, the boy king who may have been her son

Radical claim made by Dr Nicholas Reeves at the University of Arizona
He analysed high-resolution scans of the walls of Tutankhamun‘s grave
Dr Reeves says he found ‘ghosts’ of doors that tomb builders blocked
The door on the north side contains ‘the undisturbed burial of the tomb’s original owner – Nefertiti’, Dr Reeves argues

Did William Shakespeare smoke marihuana?


This video from Britain is called Shakespeare’s Mother: The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman. BBC Documentary 2015.

If William Shakespeare did indeed smoke marihuana, then he was lucky not to live in South Carolina in the USA in 2015 …

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Was William Shakespeare high when he penned his plays?

Pipes with cannabis residue were found in the Bard’s garden

Francis Thackeray

Saturday 08 August 2015

State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of William Shakespeare.

Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

Chemicals from pipe bowls and stems which had been excavated from Shakespeare‘s garden and adjacent areas were identified and quantified during the forensic study. The artefacts for the study were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The gas technique is very sensitive to residues that can be preserved in pipes even if they had been smoked 400 years ago.

What were they smoking?

There were several kinds of tobacco in the 17th century, including the North American Nicotiana (from which we get nicotine), and cocaine (Erythroxylum), which is obtained from Peruvian coca leaves.

It has been claimed that Sir Francis Drake may have brought coca leaves to England after his visit to Peru, just as Sir Walter Raleigh had brought “tobacco leaves” (Nicotiana) from Virginia in North America.

In a recent issue of a Country Life magazine, Mark Griffiths has stimulated great interest in John Gerard’s Herbal, published in 1597 as a botanical book which includes engraved images of several people in the frontispiece. One of them (cited as “The Fourth Man”) is identified by Griffiths as William Shakespeare, but this identification is questionable.

Possibly, the engraving represents Sir Francis Drake, who knew Gerard.

Gerard’s Herbal refers to various kinds of “tobacco” introduced to Europe by Drake and Raleigh in the days of Shakespeare in Elizabethan England.

There certainly is a link between Drake and plants from the New World, notably corn, the potato and “tobacco”. Furthermore, one can associate Raleigh with the introduction of “tobacco” to Europe from North America (notably in the context of the tobacco plant called Nicotiana, from Virginia and elsewhere).

What we found

There was unquestionable evidence for the smoking of coca leaves in early 17th century England, based on chemical evidence from two pipes in the Stratford-upon-Avon area.

Neither of the pipes with cocaine came from Shakepeare’s garden. But four of the pipes with cannabis did.

Results of this study (including 24 pipe fragments) indicated cannabis in eight samples, nicotine in at least one sample, and in two samples definite evidence for Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves.

Shakespeare may have been aware of the deleterious effects of cocaine as a strange compound. Possibly, he preferred cannabis as a weed with mind-stimulating properties.

These suggestions are based on the following literary indications. In Sonnet 76, Shakespeare writes about “invention in a noted weed”. This can be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use “weed” (cannabis as a kind of tobacco) for creative writing (“invention”).

In the same sonnet it appears that he would prefer not to be associated with “compounds strange”, which can be interpreted, at least potentially, to mean “strange drugs” (possibly cocaine).

Sonnet 76 may relate to complex wordplay relating in part to drugs (compounds and “weed”), and in part to a style of writing, associated with clothing (“weeds”) and literary compounds (words combined to form one, as in the case of the word “Philsides” from Philip Sidney).

Was Shakespeare high?

Chemical analyses of residues in early 17th-century clay “tobacco pipes” have confirmed that a diversity of plants was smoked in Europe. Literary analyses and chemical science can be mutually beneficial, bringing the arts and the sciences together in an effort to better understand Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

This has also begged the question whether the plays of Shakespeare were performed in Elizabethan England in a smoke-filled haze?

One can well imagine the scenario in which Shakespeare performed his plays in the court of Queen Elizabeth, in the company of Drake, Raleigh and others who smoked clay pipes filled with “tobacco”.

**

This piece is based on an article published in the South African Journal of Science in July 2015.

Francis Thackeray is Phillip Tobias Chair in Palaeoanthropology, Evolutionary Studies Institute at University of the Witwatersrand.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.