Pharaoh’s tomb discovery in Egypt


This video is called Bent Pyramid perfectly cut stones. Dashur, Egypt. April 2016.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio:

Newly discovered pyramid is royal tomb

Today, 11:09

In Egypt a new pyramid has been discovered. Egyptologist Huub Pragt says to the NOS Radio 1 News that the discovery is special. “This is a royal tomb, which is unusual.” The structure was discovered in Dashur, an archaeological area where several pyramids have been found.

That it is a tomb of a pharaoh is reflected in the structure and layout of the building. The tomb of which king it is not yet clear.

Hieroglyphs

Because the building dates from the 13th dynasty it is interesting to find out who is in the tomb, says Pragt. Because pharaohs quickly alternated at that time there are gaps in the list of kings. “So, it could be an unknown pharaoh. It is scientifically very interesting to perhaps again add a pharaoh’s name to the king list.”

Newly discovered Dashur hieroglyphs, photo Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/EPA

Pragt is hopeful it can be figured for whom the pyramid was built as a piece of stone was found with hieroglyphs. “I have seen a faded photograph of them, but it is not entirely clear to me what it says.”

UPDATE: there is suspicion it is the grave of Pharaoh Ameny-Qemau.

Neanderthals and raven bones


CUTS ABOVE Notches carved into a raven’s wing bone by Neandertals include two that were added to create a consistent, possibly symbolic pattern, scientists say. Added notches are second from bottom and second from top in the side view of the bone. Photo: Francesco d’Errico

From Science News:

Neandertals had an eye for patterns

Notches on a raven bone suggests human relatives intentionally created even spacing

by Bruce Bower

2:00pm, March 29, 2017

Neandertals knew how to kick it up a couple of notches. Between 38,000 and 43,000 years ago, these close evolutionary relatives of humans added two notches to five previous incisions on a raven bone to produce an evenly spaced sequence, researchers say.

This visually consistent pattern suggests Neandertals either had an eye for pleasing-looking displays or saw some deeper symbolic meaning in the notch sequence, archaeologist Ana Majkić of the University of Bordeaux, France, and her colleagues report March 29 in PLOS ONE.

Notches added to the bone, unearthed in 2005 at a Crimean rock shelter that previously yielded Neandertal bones, were shallower and more quickly dashed off than the original five notches. But additions were carefully placed, resulting in relatively equal spacing of all notches.

Although bone notches may have had a practical use, such as fixing thread on an eyeless needle, the even spacing suggests Neandertals had a deeper meaning in mind — or at least knew what looked good.

Previous discoveries suggest Neandertals made eagle-claw necklaces and other personal ornaments, possibly for use in rituals (SN: 4/18/15, p. 7).

New research suggests that advances in the production of Early Stone Age tools had less to do with the evolution of language and more to do with the brain networks involved in modern piano playing. The findings are a major step forward in understanding the evolution of human intelligence: here.

Cuban-Dutch ancient shipwrecks research


Admiral Cornelis Jol and his peg leg

Again, a blog post about Cuba. This time not about the birds I saw in Cuba (more blogs posts about that will come later). But about some twenty historical wrecked ships in Cuban waters; including some of Dutch buccaneer admiral Cornelis Corneliszoon Jol (1597–1641).

Cornelis Jol was nicknamed in Dutch Houtebeen=in English pegleg=in Spanish Pie de Palo, because he had one wooden leg. So, there is not just the fictional pirate Captain Hook, but also the real Jol.

Jol was an admiral of the Dutch West India Company. As such, he played an important role in making the Dutch important players in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery, which they had not been before. Jol conquered the Portuguese slave export port Luanda in Angola. He also played a role in the conquest of north-east Brazil with its slave plantations.

In 1640, a storm sank some of Jol’s ships off Cuba. Today, Dutch NOS TV reports that there will be joint Cuban-Dutch archaeological research into these shipwrecks.

There are also later Dutch shipwrecks near Cuba: like the cargo ship SS Medea, sunk in 1942 by a German submarine.

The research will start in 2018.

Ancient Mexican palace discovery


This video about archaeology in Mexico is called Palenque (New Documentary 2014).

From Science News:

Palace remains in Mexico point to ancient rise of centralized power

Ruler ruled, lived in, maybe even performed ritual sacrifices in 2,300-year-old structure

By Bruce Bower

3:10pm, March 27, 2017

Remnants of a royal palace in southern Mexico, dating to between around 2,300 and 2,100 years ago, come from what must have been one of the Americas’ earliest large, centralized governments, researchers say.

Excavations completed in 2014 at El Palenque uncovered a palace with separate areas where a ruler conducted affairs of state and lived with his family, say archaeologists Elsa Redmond and Charles Spencer, both of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Only a ruler of a bureaucratic state could have directed construction of this all-purpose seat of power, the investigators conclude the week of March 27 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The royal palace, the oldest such structure in the Valley of Oaxaca, covered as many as 2,790 square meters, roughly half the floor area of the White House. A central staircase connected to an inner courtyard that probably served as a place for the ruler and his advisors to reach decisions, hold feasts and — based on human skull fragments found there — perform ritual sacrifices, the scientists suggest. A system of paved surfaces, drains and other features for collecting rainwater runs throughout the palace, a sign that the entire royal structure was built according to a design, the researchers say.

El Palenque’s palace contains no tombs. Its ancient ruler was probably buried off-site, at a ritually significant location, Redmond and Spencer say.

Tibetan prehistory, new research


This video says about itself:

14 August 2012

Compare the lives of hunter-gatherers during the Paleolithic Age with the lives of people during the Neolithic Age.

From Science News:

Hunter-gatherers were possibly first to call Tibetan Plateau home

High-altitude foragers moved in long before farmers, new dates indicate

By Bruce Bower

2:00pm, January 5, 2017

People hunted and foraged year-round in the thin air of China’s Tibetan Plateau at least 7,400 to 8,400 years ago, a new study suggests. And permanent settlers of the high-altitude region might even have arrived as early as 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.

Three lines of dating evidence indicate that humans occupied the central Tibetan Plateau’s Chusang site, located more than 4,000 meters above sea level, at least 2,200 years earlier than previously thought, say geologist Michael Meyer of the University of Innsbruck in Austria and colleagues. Their report, published in the Jan. 6 Science, challenges the idea that the Tibetan Plateau lacked permanent settlers until farming groups arrived around 5,200 years ago.

“Hunter-gatherers permanently occupied the Tibetan Plateau by around 8,000 years ago, which coincided with a strong monsoon throughout Asia that created wet conditions on the plateau,” Meyer says.

These early permanent residents hunted animals such as wild yaks and foraged for edible plants, including berries from sea buckthorn shrubs, in nearby river valleys at elevations more than 3,600 meters above sea level, Meyer suspects. Brief, summer forays to Chusang would have been difficult for people living below 3,300 meters above sea level, he adds. Even when mountain passes were clear of heavy snowfall and expanding valley glaciers, round trips from low altitudes to the central Tibetan Plateau would have taken 41 to 70 days, Meyer’s team estimates.

Researchers discovered Chusang in 1998. The site consists of 19 human hand- and footprints on the surface of a fossilized sheet of travertine, a form of limestone deposited there by water from a hot spring.

The new age estimates for Chusang come from three measures:  the decay rate of forms of radioactive thorium and uranium in travertine sampled in and around the prints; determinations of the time since quartz crystals extracted from the travertine were last exposed to sunlight; and radiocarbon measures of sediment and microscopic plant remains found on the travertine slab’s surface.

Signs of long-term camping at Chusang have yet to turn up, but extensive excavations of the site have not been conducted, Meyer says. His group found chipped rocks and other stone tool‒making debris at two spots near Chusang’s hot springs. These finds are undated.

Previous research has suggested that hunter-gatherers occasionally reached the Tibetan Plateau’s northern edge by around 12,000 years ago (SN: 7/7/01, p. 7), and again from about 8,000 to 6,000 years ago, says archaeologist Loukas Barton of the University of Pittsburgh, who wasn’t involved in the study. But the new discoveries at Chusang may not necessarily point to permanent residence there. Those early arrivals likely spent a single summer or a few consecutive years at most on the plateau, Barton says. “That would not constitute a peopling of a region any more than our 1969 visit to the moon did,” he says.

Archaeological finds indicate that human populations expanded on the Tibetan Plateau between around 5,200 and 3,600 years ago, Barton says. Those groups cultivated barley and wheat at high altitudes and herded domesticated sheep and perhaps yaks, he says.

Before that time, Chusang might have supported a year-round occupation, says archaeologist David Rhode of the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., who wasn’t involved in the study. But the site could easily have been occupied seasonally, he says. Unlike Meyer, Rhode estimates that Chusang was about a two-week walk from some lower-altitude campsites. “That’s not far at all for a human forager.”

New dates for Chusang also raise the possibility that rare gene variants that aid survival in high-altitude, oxygen-poor locales first evolved among hunter-gatherers on the Tibetan Plateau, Meyer says. But both Barton and Rhode doubt it.