Antarctica discovery: ‘unexpected treasure’ found buried below ice by researchers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

Antarctica discovery: How ‘unexpected treasure’ was found buried below ice by researchers

ANTARCTICA researchers made a stunning discovery hidden below the ice of the frozen desert for more than a century, a documentary revealed.

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Sir Ernest Shackleton was a British polar explorer who led three expeditions to Antarctica. From 1907 to 1909, Mr Shackleton, alongside three companions, completed the Nimrod expedition, establishing a new record for distance traveled from the South Pole. In 1921, after returning from his final expedition, Mr Shackleton died of a heart attack and was buried in the icy continent – and took his many secrets to the grave with him

However, Bright Side’s 2018 mini-series “Strange Things Found in Antarctica” revealed how researchers made a bizarre discovery more than a century on.

The narrator explained: “Two bottles of excellent Scotch whiskey were hidden in the ice of Antarctica for more than 100 years.

“After archaeologists uncovered this unexpected treasure, they did not remove its ice trap immediately because they were afraid of damaging their findings.

“That’s why they waited for several years until all the necessary tools were delivered to the site.

Antarctica researchers uncovered whiskey below the ice

Antarctica researchers uncovered whiskey below the ice (Image: GETTY/WHYTE & MACKAY)

Ernest Shackleton on his Antarctica expedition

Ernest Shackleton on his Antarctica expedition (Image: GETTY)

Given the original recipe no longer exists this may open a door into history

Richard Paterson

“Only then did they manage to extract the boxes carefully, the whiskey was then defrosted over almost two weeks.

“It turned out that the bottles survived their century-long confinement.”

Bottled in 1898 after the blend was aged 15 years, the Mackinlay bottles were among three crates of Scotch and two of brandy found buried in 2010.

Distiller the, which now owns the Mackinlay brand, chartered a private jet to take the bottles from the Antarctic operations headquarters in the New Zealand city of Christchurch to Scotland for analysis in 2011.

The recipe for the whisky had been lost, but Whyte & Mackay recreated a limited edition of 50,000 bottles from a sample drawn with a syringe through a cork of one of the bottles.

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The explorer hid bottles of whiskey in the ice

The explorer hid bottles of whiskey in the ice (Image: WIKI/WHYTE & MACKAY)

Richard Paterson, one of the lead blenders for Whyte & Mackay, told ABC News: “After bringing it to room temperature, I plan on pouring it into a glass, swirling it around and letting the liquid reveal the hidden treasures that were captured in the ice for all these years.

“If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analysed, the original blend may be able to be replicated.

“Given the original recipe no longer exists this may open a door into history.

“We look forward to working with the Trust to try and replicate the whisky for mutual benefit, allow people to taste a true part of history and be part of what must be the whisky story of the century.”

The revelation comes after Antarctica made headlines more recently when a scientist captured an “amazing” creature alive.

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The bottles were preserved for over 100 years

The bottles were preserved for over 100 years (Image: WHYTE & MACKAY)

The company reproduced the whiskey

The company reproduced the whiskey (Image: WHYTE & MACKAY)

Documentary “The Secrets of Antarctica” revealed how the event played out their YouTube channel.

Scientists Lisa Bryant showed viewers the creature earlier this year, before stating: “It’s beautiful and in really good condition.

“You know we’ve found some fascinating things, but it’s not often they’re bright red which is really cool.

“This one is great and very much still alive.”

Territory claims in Antarctica

Territory claims in Antarctica (Image: DX/GETTY)

Another researcher on board, Julie Hall, explained why the test was so vital before revealing what else they found.

She added: “This is a really important mop net sample for us that’s come from 3,400 metres, it’s the deepest one we’ve ever done.

“In the mop nets we collected all sorts of larger phytoplankton in there and sometimes it has come up literally looking like pea soup.

“But with the larger phytoplankton, they get caught in the net.”

Research Finds Gigantic Masses in Earth’s Mantle Untouched for More Than 4 Billion Years

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OD SCITECHDAILY)

 

Research Finds Gigantic Masses in Earth’s Mantle Untouched for More Than 4 Billion Years

Earth's Layers

This image shows the divisions between Earth’s layers. The ancient, continent-sized rock regions encircle the liquid outer core. Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Ancient, distinct, continent-sized regions of rocks, isolated since before the collision that created the Moon 4.5 billion years ago, exist hundreds of miles below the Earth’s crust, offering a window into the building blocks of our planet, according to new research.

The new study in the AGU Journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems used models to trace the location and origin of volcanic rock samples found throughout the world back to two solid continents in the deep mantle. The new research suggests the specific giant rock regions have existed for 4.5 billion years, since Earth’s beginning.

Previously, scientists theorized that separated continents in the deep mantle came from subducted oceanic plates. But the new study indicates these distinct regions may have been formed from an ancient magma ocean that solidified during the beginning of Earth’s formation and may have survived the massive Moon-creating impact.

Determining the masses’ origin reveals more details about their evolution and composition, as well as clues about primordial Earth’s history in the early Solar System, according to the study’s authors.

It’s amazing that these regions have survived most of Earth’s volcanic history relatively untouched, said Curtis Williams, a geologist at the University of California, Davis, in Davis, California and lead author of the study.

Looking inward

The mantle is a layer of rock, stretching 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) down inside the Earth. Earth’s molten, liquid, metallic core lies beneath the mantle. The core-mantle boundary is where the solid mantle meets the metallic liquid core.

Scientists knew from past seismic imaging studies that two individual rock bodies existed near the core-mantle boundary. One solid rock body is under Africa and the other is under the Pacific Ocean.

Seismic waves, the vibrations produced by earthquakes, move differently through these masses than the rest of the mantle, suggesting they have distinct physical properties from the surrounding mantle. But geologists couldn’t determine whether seismic waves moved differently through the core-mantle continents because of differences in their temperature, mineral composition or density, or some combination of these properties. That meant they could only hypothesize about the separate rocky masses’ origin and history.

“We had all of these geochemical measurements from Earth’s surface, but we didn’t know how to relate these geochemical measurements to regions of Earth’s interior. We had all of these geophysical images of the Earth’s interior, but we didn’t know how to relate that to the geochemistry at Earth’s surface,” Williams said.

Primitive material and plumes

Williams and his colleagues wanted to determine the distinct masses’ origin and evolution to learn more about Earth’s composition and past. To do this, they needed to be able to identify samples at Earth’s surface with higher concentrations of primitive material and then trace those samples back to their origins.

Scientists often take rock samples from volcanic regions like Hawaii and Iceland, where deep mantle plumes, or columns of extremely hot rock, rise from the areas near the core, melt in the shallow mantle and emerge far from tectonic fault lines. These samples are made of igneous rock created from cooling lava. The study’s authors used an existing database of samples and also collected new samples from volcanically active areas like the Balleny Islands in Antarctica.

Geologists can measure specific isotopes in igneous rocks to learn more about the origin and evolution of the Earth. Some isotopes, like Helium-3, are primordial, meaning they were created during the Big Bang. Rocks closer to Earth’s crust have less of the isotope than rocks deeper underground that were never exposed to air. Samples with more Helium-3 are thought to come from more primitive rocks in the mantle.

The researchers found some of the samples they studied had more Helium-3, indicating they may have come from primitive rocks deep in the Earth’s mantle.

The researchers then used a new model to trace how these primitive samples could have gotten to the Earth’s surface from the mantle. Geological models assume plumes rise vertically from deep within the mantle to the Earth’s surface. But plumes can move off course, deflected, due to various reasons. The new model took into account this plume deflection, allowing the study’s authors to trace the samples back to the two giant masses near the core-mantle boundary.

The combination of the isotope information and the new model allowed the researchers to determine the composition of the two giant masses and theorize how they may have formed.

Understanding the composition of specific rock masses near the core-mantle boundary helps geologists conceptualize ancient Earth-shaping processes that led to the modern-day mantle, according to the study’s authors.

“It’s a more robust framework to try and answer these questions in terms of not making these assumptions of vertically rising material but rather to take into account how much deflection these plumes have seen,” Williams said.

Reference: “Primitive Helium Is Sourced From Seismically Slow Regions in the Lowermost Mantle” by C. D. Williams, S. Mukhopadhyay, M. L. Rudolph and B. Romanowicz, 31 July 2019, Journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.

Revelation Chapter #3

Revelation Chapter #3

 

With this letter today I would like for us to discuss the third chapter of the Book of Revelation. Chapter #3 is a lot like chapter #2 was in that the main subject matter is three of the old churches in Asia Minor. In Rev. 22:10 John was told “do not seal the sayings of the Prophecy’s of this Book: for the time is at hand.”  Those that say the Book of Revelation is just a jumble of signs and symbols and is not meant to be understood is directly contradicting the Book and The Lord. The Lord Jesus dictated this information to the Apostle John. This Book is not a closed book that is suppose to be beyond human understanding. This Book is like all Scripture in that for you to really understand it you must read it, see it and understand it through the eyes of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. This is because it is He, The Holy Spirit who is the Author of all Scripture.

 

If a person only sees Scripture through the eyes of the flesh of this world then they will never fully see nor understand what the Truth is. Revelation does not begin anything. Revelation concludes those things which began within the other 65 Books of the Bible. If a person has not studied the rest of the Bible first then Revelation will be very difficult for a person to understand. This Book has 22 chapters and 404 verses. Of these 404 verses 278 of them contain references to the Old Testament.

 

After Chapter #3 the Church is not mentioned again within Revelation. This is because the Church which is the “Bride of Christ” is in Heaven with Him. Now, if you would, lets study what Jesus had to say about the other three Churches of the seven listed, these Churches were in Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. First let us look at the Lord’s words to the Church in Sardis which is in modern day Greece. “To the Angel of the Church in Sardis write: these things saith He that has the seven Spirits of God and the Seven Stars. I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are really dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things that you still have that are about to die. For I have not found your works complete before God. Remember therefore how that you received and heard, hold fast to that, and repent. For if you do not pay attention, I will come unto you as a thief in the night, and you shall not know what hour I will come unto you. There are a few among you even there in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcomes this world shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out their name out of The Book Of Life, but I will confess their name before My Father and before His Angels. He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

 

Friends, as you can see, there is not great mystery here in what The Lord is saying to the people of the Church at Sardis. He points out their good points and their bad points. On the things they are doing good on The Lord tells them to continue. But, on the things they are doing wrong in their lives on He tells them to correct those ways of He will remove their names from the Book of Life. My friends, if our name is not found in the Book of Life at our Judgement we will be cast into Hell at that time. How can things possibly be more plain than what The Lord has laid our to all of us in His own words?

 

Now let us go onto The Lords letter to the Church at Philadelphia. For those of you who are new to this information this letter is not to the people who live in southeast Pennsylvania, it was addressed to a Church in what is now western Turkey. “To the Angel of the Church in Philadelphia write; these things says He that is Holy, He that is True, He that has the Key of David. He that opens and no man can shut. He that shuts and no man can open. I know your works: behold, I have set before you and open door, and no man can shut it. For you have a little power and have obeyed my word and you have not denied My Name. Behold, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan which say they are Jews and are not, for they lie. Behold I will make them come and worship before your feet. Then they will realize that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of My patience, I will also keep you from the hour of temptation which shall come upon the whole world, to try them which dwell upon the Earth. Behold, I shall come quickly. Hold fast to that which you have so that no man can take your Crown. To he that overcomes I will make him a pillar in the Temple of God, he shall no more go out, and I will write upon him The Name of God. And the name of the City of God which is the New Jerusalem which shall down out of Heaven from God and I will write upon him My new name for him. He that has an ear, let him hear what The Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

 

Philadelphia did not receive the condemnation that most of the seven Churches received because most of what they were doing was correct in God’s Eyes. Philadelphia was a Church that was getting out the Word of God. They were not just sitting on their hands and only giving lip service to God. Yet Jesus did still warn them about being complacent and not continuing in His Word. As you can see, in these warnings just as within many other places of Scripture it is possible to fall away from doing God’s Work and lose your Crown. Friends, there is no such thing as once saved always saved, friends please do not let the Devil fool you by such false teachings.

 

Now lets go to The Lord’s letter to the seventh Church of the seven listed, the last message was to the Church in Laodicea. “To the Angel of the Church in Laodicea write; these things saith The Amen, The Faithful and the True Witness, the beginning of the Creation of God. I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot: because they are neither cold nor hot I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. You do not know that you are really wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold that is tried in the fire so that you may be rich and have white raiment so that you may be clothed so that the shame of your nakedness does not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye salve so that you might see. As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears My Voice and opens the door I will come in to him and will eat with him and he with Me. To him that overcomes this world I will grant him to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I also overcame and have set down with My Father in His Throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what The Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

 

Well friends, that is it for chapter #3, as you can see this is not rocket science or brain surgery, it is quite possible for all of us to understand. Lord willing in the next day or two I will get my notes together on Chapter #4 and get it written up. I hope that you will join me then for that read as well. Good evening and I pray that God will bless and keep you all safe until we meet again.

Do you remember these fads from the ’50’s?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Do you remember these fads from the ’50’s?

The age of the Baby Boomer generation, the 1950s, brought memorable fashion statements as well as a new era of culture and entertainment. Some of the trends never resurfaced, while others never went away. Several are true hallmarks of life in the ‘50’s.

Poodle skirts

Black and white photo of a poodle skirt
Credit: bobbieo/ iStock

Poodle skirts were all the rage. They allowed girls the freedom to dance without restriction to that new rock ‘n’ roll music that also hit the scene. Poodle skirts came in all kinds of colors and reached just below the knee. They were often made of felt and got their name because the original versions were adorned with images of a poodles. Their crinoline net underlining provided a swish with which the poodle skirt will forever be associated. To this day, it’s hard to think of the 50’s without thinking of the poodle skirt, a fad that defined the decade.

Hula hoops

Photo of children playing with hula hoops
Credit: StockPlanets/ iStock

Invented in 1957 and then licensed to Wham-O in 1958, the hula-hoop toy took its name from the Hawaiian Hula dance because using a hula-hoop seemed to imitate it. It had sales up to $25 million in just two months, and eventually reached nearly 100 million orders worldwide. Hula-hoops were not enjoyed in every country. Japan banned them because the nature of their movement seemed too provocative. Still, they remained popular until the late ‘70s and have enjoyed resurgence in popularity in recent years.

TV dinners

Vintage photo of a TV dinner
Credit: CSA Images/ iStock

A booming pos-World War II economy finally allowed women to enter the workforce in record numbers. Since women couldn’t always be home cooking for the family anymore, it’s no wonder that easy, processed foods became a quick fad. The most notorious was the TV dinner, a Swanson product that arrived in supermarkets in 1953. TV dinners were portioned trays with separate sections for the different parts of the meal, typically meat, potatoes, and a vegetable. All you had to do was pop them in the oven for 30 minutes, peel back the foil, and you were in business. Afterward, you’d throw away the disposable tray, leaving no dishes to wash. TV dinners are still around today, though now they’re microwave-friendly, making them even more convenient than they used to be.

3-D movies

Photo 3-D glasses with red and blue lenses
Credit: 3dbrained/ iStock

The ‘50s brought television into people’s homes, which worried film industry executives. They had to find a way to keep people coming to the theaters, and 3-D movies were just the thing. Although 3-D movies had been around since the 1920s, their popularity did not begin until the ‘50s with the film “Bwana Devil” in 1952Theaters issued moviegoers 3-D glasses, which provided the 3-D effect. Experts thought 3-D movies would skyrocket, but that wasn’t what happened. However, some big titles were filmed in 3-D, including “Kiss Me Kate” and “Dial M for Murder,” but the standard 2-D versions still had them beat.

As a result, the trend didn’t outlast the 50’s…. until recently. Today, in the era of the superhero-movie craze, most major modern blockbusters are released in high-tech 3-D versions that generate serious cash.

Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap

Photo of a coonskin cap
Credit: Chiyacat/ iStock

The Walt Disney miniseries “Davy Crockett” came out in 1964. The protagonist, Davy Crockett, was a 19th century American frontiersman and a hero who wore an iconic coonskin cap. Little did Disney know that the cap would bring them $100 million in sales as everyone and their mother wanted one of their very own. To this day, those coonskin caps are still associated with the wild frontier of early America.

Outdated but not forgotten

Vintage photo of a family standing next to a retro Volkswagen van
Credit: atlantic-kid/ iStock

Whether you were alive in the 50’s or not, you’re probably aware of these fabulous fads of that unforgettable era. While most of them weren’t timeless trends that outlasted the decade, they have left their mark on history.

(Poem) Today The Hate Flew In

Today The Hate Flew In

 

Today we all remember the day the hate flew into our home

Eighteen years ago on this very mornings date and time

The blind began to see what their minds didn’t seem to know

There are millions in this world who hate both you and me

Many millions now ask, why was this attack upon all of us

 

This morning hate flew in on the wings of four passenger jets

For many was the first time we had seen mass death on our T.V.’s

On this day anger did rage and criers burst into many a tears

Why did some hate us so that they gave their lives in such a rage

Were we really innocent in that we were blinded to their hate

 

Two buildings flattened in lower Manhattan and one hit in D.C.

In a field in western Pennsylvania there is a fourth mass grave

Over three thousand innocent folks lost their lives this day

A unholy war of 1,400 years showed it’s ugly face to us today

A new date of infamy was today, the day the hate flew in

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

There are numerous myths, legends, and folk stories surrounding the history of Ancient Greece. Greek mythology is renowned for its bizarre creatures, powerful Gods, and epic battles—though some of these tales are stranger than others. While most of us are familiar with the stories of the “classic” monsters — the Hydra, the Minotaur, the snake-haired Medusa — there are plenty of other bizarre beasts populating these Greek stories.

The Nemean Lion

Credit: ANGHI / iStock

One of the mythological creatures on this list, the Nemean Lion was a gigantic beast, armed with razor-sharp claws and adorned in golden fur said to be impervious to mortal weapons.

This seeming-immortality was put to the test when Greek hero Heracles was ordered to slay the Nemean Lion as the first of his 12 famous Labors. As the story goes, Heracles attempted to shoot the lion with arrows before realizing that its fur was impenetrable. When this didn’t work, Heracles took a different approach. Different versions of the tale offer two possible outcomes:

  • Heracles shot an arrow into the lion’s unprotected mouth, killing it instantly.
  • Heracles used rocks to trap the lion in its den and proceeded to grapple with it by hand, eventually using his godlike strength to strangle the beast to death.

The Stymphalian Birds

Credit: Albrecht Dürer / Public domain

Denizens of the ancient Greek city of Stymphalia, these monstrous birds were pets of Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the hunt. According to the story, the Stymphalian Birds had beaks made of bronze that were strong enough to pierce the iron plate of Greek armor. Their feathers were supposedly made of metal, used as projectile weapons that could be launched at victims, and their dung was toxic to mortals.

Again, Heracles was set to the task of eradicating these creatures as the sixth of his 12 Labors. However, Heracles didn’t do it alone. With the help of Greek Gods Athena and Hephaestus, and using the poisonous blood of the already-slain Hydra, Heracles was able to rustle the birds from their nest and shoot them down with his toxic arrows. And though many of the birds escaped the purge (later to encounter Jason and the Argonauts), Heracles was able to accomplish his task.

Pegasus

Credit: ezypix / iStock

We’ve all heard of Pegasus: The majestic winged stallion that Poseidon created from the magical blood of the slain Medusa.

In texts, Pegasus was a valuable ally to Poseidon’s son, Bellerophon, in his epic battle against the Chimaera, and later, the Amazons. Bellerophon shortly thereafter met his end (he fell off Pegasus while trying to ascend to Mt. Olympus), and Pegasus would join the pantheon of the immortals in service to Zeus, who charged the stallion with carrying his thunderbolts into battle. Eventually, Pegasus would be immortalized as the constellation that shares his name.

Pegasus is one of the most popular icons for in Greek Mythology, with frequent depiction on coins, in sculpture, pottery, and other artistic works. More than many other Greek creatures, Pegasus has become ingrained in Western culture, so much so that the word “Pegasus” now refers to both the mythological figure and the entire species of winged horses that we often see in fantasy stories.

The Mares of Diomedes

Credit: St.MarieLtd. / iStock

Marking another of Heracles’ legendary Labors, (most of which involved mythic animals in some way), his eighth task was to recapture the lost Mares of King Diomedes.

The only problem? The horses were consumed by madness, trained to eat human flesh instead of regular feed and even thought to breathe fire. Though the story differs amongst versions, it’s generally accepted that Heracles was able to calm the horses enough to be tamed and kill the mad king Diomedes of Thrace, leaving Heracles free to rescue the horses and complete his task.

Carcinus

Credit: Roman Voloshyn / Shutterstock.com

Carcinus played an important role in Heracles’ battle against the Hydra. Not in favor of Heracles, of course — Carcinus is yet another mythical creature sent by the Gods to kill Heracles. And while the Hydra is certainly the headliner in that battle, the crab Carcinus fought bravely against the Greek hero, despite the fact that Carcinus had no impenetrable fur, fire breath, or toxic dung. So says the text:

“Then a giant crab (karkinos) came along to help the Hydra, and bit Herakles on the foot. For this he killed the crab.”

Yes, brave Carcinus did not last long. However, the Goddess Hera (who hated Heracles, incidentally) was moved by the crab’s bravery, and immortalized him as the constellation Cancer (pictured above).

Bizarre Greek Animals

Credit: Digital Storm / Shutterstock.com

Yes, Greek mythology is full of strange tales and bizarre creatures. But that’s what makes the stories so much fun. The fantastical elements, epic poetry, and otherworldly monsters have captured the imaginations of cultures across the world. And given that these are just a few examples of the strange and bizarre Greek creatures that exist, it’s not hard to see why.

Mysterious Indus Valley People Gave Rise to Modern-Day South Asians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Mysterious Indus Valley People Gave Rise to Modern-Day South Asians

a photograph of an ancient skeleton buried in Rakigarhi in India

The skeleton of an individual from the Indus Valley Civilization whose fragile, ancient DNA revealed links to modern-day South Asian populations.
(Image: © Vasant Shinde)

Ancient DNA evidence reveals that the people of the mysterious and complex Indus Valley Civilization are genetically linked to modern South Asians today.

The same gene sequences, drawn from a single individual who died nearly 5,000 years ago and was buried in a cemetery near Rakhigarhi, India, also suggest that the Indus Valley developed farming independently, without major migrations from neighboring farming regions. It’s the first time an individual from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization has yielded any DNA information whatsoever, enabling researchers to link this civilization both to its neighbors and to modern humans.

The Indus Valley, or Harappan, Civilization flourished between about 3300 B.C. and 1300 B.C. in the region that is now covered by parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India, contemporaneous with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The people of the Indus Valley forged an impressively advanced civilization, with large urban centers, standardized systems of weights and measurements and even drainage and irrigation systems. Yet despite that sophistication, archaeologists know far less about the civilization than that of ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia, in part because the Indus Valley writing system hasn’t yet been deciphered.

Cracking Codes: 5 Ancient Languages Yet to Be Deciphered

a map of india, pakistan and afghanistan with sites where indus valley civilization archaeological finds havke been discovered

A map of the Indus Valley, or Harappan, Civilization. Rakhigarhi, the location of the burial that yielded ancient DNA for analysis, is highlighted in blue.

(Image credit: Vasant Shinde)

 Elusive DNA

Gathering ancient DNA from the Indus Valley is an enormous challenge, Vagheesh Narasimhan, one of the leading authors of the new research and a postdoctoral fellow in genetics at Harvard Medical School, Live Science, because the hot, humid climate tends to degrade DNA rapidly. Narasimhan and his colleagues attempted to extract DNA from 61 individuals from the Rakhigarhi cemetery and were successful with only one, skeleton likely belonging to a female which was found nestled in a grave amid round pots, her head to the north and feet to the south.

a round, red, chipped pot found in an ancient burial from the indus valley civilization

A red pot found near the head of the Indus Valley skeleton that yielded ancient DNA.

(Image credit: Vasant Shinde)

The first revelation from the ancient gene sequences was that some of the inhabitants of the Indus Valley are connected by a genetic thread to modern-day South Asians. “About two-thirds to three-fourths of the ancestry of all modern South Asians comes from a population group related to that of this Indus Valley individual,” Narasimhan said.

Where the Indus Valley individual came from is a more difficult question, he said. But the genes do suggest that the highly agricultural Indus people were not closely related to their farming neighbors in the western part of what is now Iran.

“We were able to examine different associations between the advent of farming in that part of the world with the movement of people in that part of the world,” said Narasimhan.

Farming, Narasimhan said, first began in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East around 10,000 years ago. No one knows precisely how it spread from there. Did agriculture pop up independently in areas around the globe, perhaps observed by travelers who brought the idea to plant and cultivate seeds back home? Or did farmers move, bringing their new agricultural lifestyle with them?

In Europe, the genetic evidence suggests that the latter is true: Stone Age farmers introduced Southern Europe to agriculture, then moved north, spreading the practice as they went. But the new Indus Valley genetic evidence hints at a different story in South Asia. The Indus Valley individual’s genes diverged from those of other farming cultures in Iran and the Fertile Crescent before 8000 B.C., the researchers found.

“It diverges at a time prior to the advent of farming almost anywhere in the world,” Narasimhan said. In other words, the Indus Valley individual wasn’t the descendent of wandering Fertile Crescent farmers. She came from a civilization that either developed farming on its own, or simply imported the idea from neighbors — without importing the actual neighbors.

Both immigration and ideas are plausible ways to spread farming, Narasimhan said, and the new research suggests that both happened: immigration in Europe, ideas in South Asia. The results appear today (Sept. 5) in the journal Cell.

Complex populations

The researchers also attempted to link the Indus Valley individual to his or her contemporaries. In a companion paper published today in the journal Science, the researchers reported on ancient and modern DNA data from 523 individuals who lived in South and Central Asia over the last 8,000 years. Intriguingly, 11 of these people — all from outside the Indus Valley — had genetic data that closely matched the Indus Valley Individual. These 11 people also had unusual burials for their locations, Narasimhan said. Together, the genetic and archaeological data hint that those 11 people were migrants from the Indus Valley Civilization to other places, he said.

However, these conclusions should be viewed as tentative, warned Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, an archaeologist and expert on the Indus Valley Civilization at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not involved in the new research. Archaeological evidence suggests that Indus Valley cities were cosmopolitan places populated by people from many different regions, so one person’s genetic makeup might not match the rest of the population. Furthermore, Kenoyer said, burial was a less common way of dealing with the dead than cremation.

“So whatever we do have from cemeteries is not representative of the ancient populations of the Indus cities, but only of one part of one community living in these cities,” Kenoyer said.

And though the Indus individual and the 11 potential migrants found in other areas might have been related, more ancient DNA samples will be needed to show which way people, and their genes, were moving, he said.

Narasimhan echoed this need for more data, comparing the cities of the Indus Valley to modern-day Tokyo or New York City, where people gather from around the world. Ancient DNA is a tool for understanding these complex societies, he said.

“Population mixture and movement at very large scales is just a fundamental fact of human history,” he said. “Being able to document this with ancient DNA, I think, is very powerful.”

Originally published on Live Science.

The most religious countries in the world

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

The most religious countries in the world

Trends in in the Western world have show a decline in religiosity for quite some time now. While some may foresee a growing rise of secularism across the globe, these trends are not reflected in many parts of the developing world. More than 55 countries across Asia and Africa report over 90% of their populations identifying as religious. Of these nations, some tend towards religious homogeneity, whereas others are a mixed bag of diverse religious beliefs. Gauging religiosity can be complicated both by the method of investigation and the legal and social restrictions of a population. Because of this, it’s necessary to take several different approaches to measuring religiosity within a population.

Countries with 97% religious populations

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The most straightforward measure of religiosity is simply to ask populations if they identify as religious. By this measure, the third tier of super-majority religious populations is peppered across Asia and Africa. Of the countries reporting 97% religiosity, four are majority Muslim, comprising Afghanistan, Comoros, Egypt, and Morocco. Thailand, Myanmar and Laos are majority Buddhist nations, though Myanmar has no state religion.

Countries with 98% religious populations

All of the second-ranking nations by self-identifying religious practitioners are in North Africa. Of these countries, Burundi is the only majority (86%) Christian nation. Djibouti, Mauritania and Somalia also report 98% religiosity with majority Muslim populations. Mauritania reports a nearly 100% Muslim population, though religious freedom has been criticized there and may influence self-reports.

Countries with 99% religious populations

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Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malawi, Niger, and Sri Lanka are the world’s most religious countries by self-identification with 99% of the population self-identifying as religious. Niger, Indonesia, and Bangladesh have super-majorities of Muslims with large celebrations and displays of their faith. Malawi and Ethiopia show majority Christian populations with a notable presence of Muslims. Finally, in Sri Lanka, Buddhism is the major religion, though it shows the most diversity among faiths in the top tier of religiosity, including adherents of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam.

Most devout populations

Identifying as religious doesn’t necessarily equate to the devotion of adherents. Whereas religious identity is most predominant in the above listed societies, it can be separately measured as to how religious the participants in a study identify themselves. By this measure, the citizens of Israel identify most strongly with their religious identity (Jewish) among all world populations. This figure is followed closely by Muslims in Saudi Arabia and then Iran.

Largest religious populations

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The United States houses the largest number of Christians by a population of over 229 million. With 245 million followers, Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims. India is the homeland and capital of Hinduism with 957 million, and China houses the largest number of Buddhists. Finally, Israel has the largest number of Jewish citizens in the world at 6 million.

Largest religions

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Measuring by ratio and devotion is a separate measure from the size of a faith. Islam takes many of the top spots, but it is not yet the world’s most widely-practiced religion. Christianity still holds the lead in terms of followers by a substantial spread as the world’s most widely practiced religion ahead of Islam. Of the entire human population, 33% are Christian and 24.1% are Muslim. The third largest group of spiritual identity is “unaffiliated,” comprising atheists, agnostics, and the irreligious.

World’s least religious

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sweden is among the most secular countries in the world with only 8% of Swedes regularly attending religious service, and only one in three weddings is performed by the Church of Sweden.

3 Countries in North America No One Remembers – But Should

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Countries in North America No One Remembers – But Should

When you think of North America, you probably focus on the three nations that currently occupy the continent — Canada, the United States, and Mexico — from top to bottom. And for the most part, these are the only official countries that have claimed a part of this landmass since explorers began venturing across the pond. But the reality is, many people called this continent home long before the first European scientist realized that the Earth was round and one’s ship wouldn’t fall off the side at the end of the ocean. Here are three former countries, or rather lands, that predate the current North American nations.

Cherokee Nation

A beautiful mountain valley
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To be clear, while we’re highlighting countries that no longer exist, there’s a bit of ambiguity around the Cherokee Nation. The original Cherokee Nation that we’re discussing in this article references an autonomous tribal government that lived in what is now the American South before being moved to Northern Oklahoma and existed between 1794 and 1907. In addition to being composed of Cherokee Native Americans, the nation also included Cherokee freedmen (former slaves), people of the Qualla Boundary, and other Native Americans who relocated either voluntarily or were forced to because of the Trail of Tears.

After relocating to Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation relied on cattle ranching to maintain its economy and autonomy from the U.S. government. But federal interference and refusal to lease land to Cherokee cattlemen had a negative effect. This was part of an effort to undermine tribal infrastructure and dissolve the Cherokee claim to the land so that it would be ceded back to Oklahoma during their quest for statehood. Eventually, the original Cherokee Nation government was dissolved in 1906. However, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a new tribal government for the modern Cherokee Nation, which still exists today, was ratified in 1938 after the passing of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Vinland

A lighthouse on a cliffside overlooking a sunset over the ocean
Credit: Scott Heaney / Shutterstock.com

Long before the British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish empires laid claim to North America, the Vikings were braving the elements to explore beyond their original homelands in Scandinavia. While not a formal country, Vinland deserves recognition because it was a settlement spearheaded by the famous Viking Leif Erikson some time around 1000 CE. To be clear, even today archeologists and historians aren’t sure where exactly Vinland existed. Experts theorize that the settlement could have been located somewhere in Eastern Canada, including Newfoundland and areas flanking the St. Lawrence Seaway.

There are conflicting theories about exact locations, and a lot of that is because of the name Vinland. In Old Norse, it translates to “Wineland.” But in the case of Newfoundland, there aren’t — nor have there ever been — any grapes growing in that region. However, there’s better evidence to suggest that areas around the St. Lawrence Seaway such as Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick are more likely options because they have thriving grape crops. Still, Vinland was a short-lived Viking experiment as references to hostile locals and the extreme distance from their homeland caused the settlement to be abandoned 10 years after its founding.

Toltec Empire

Ruins of a Toltec Empire pyramid
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Let’s move a bit south to Mexico and discuss one of the most influential Pre-Columbian cultures from the Mesoamerica period. Also known as the Toltec Kingdom, the Toltecs existed between 674 and 1122 CE. While the Toltecs don’t get a lot of attention in traditional world history classes, they impacted many of the surrounding Pre-Columbian cultures, not just in Mexico but in Central America. Most notably, many of the characteristics that we associate with Aztec culture were influenced by the Toltecs. And their architectural style of building pyramids can be found in some Mayan settlements.

The Toltecs were expert architects, weavers, metal workers and artisans. According to many historians, even their name “Toltec” came to be synonymous with “artisans.” Unfortunately, aside from the remaining ruins of their former cities like the capital of Tula (northwest of Mexico City) and artwork, little is known about the inner workings of the society. Like many cultures of this period, their writings were based on a hieroglyphic system that isn’t found on surviving buildings or artifacts.

Each of these cultures represent a fascinating aspect of North American history. And although western education tends to focus on the achievements of our European descendants, it’s important to remember the ancient cultures that came before.

What Was It Like to Be an Executioner in the Middle Ages?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

What Was It Like to Be an Executioner in the Middle Ages?

The lore surrounding medieval executioners is fairly off base.

The lore surrounding medieval executioners is fairly off base.
(Image: © Shutterstock)

One afternoon in May 1573, a 19-year-old man named Frantz Schmidt stood in the backyard of his father’s house in the German state of Bavaria, preparing to behead a stray dog with a sword. He’d recently graduated from “decapitating” inanimate pumpkins to practicing on live animals. If he passed this final stage, Schmidt would be considered ready to start his job, as an executioner of people.

We know the details of this morbid scene because Schmidt meticulously chronicled his life as an executioner, writing a series of diaries that painted a rich picture of this profession during the sixteenth century. His words provided a rare glimpse of the humanity behind the violence, revealing a man who took his work seriously and often felt empathy for his victims. But what’s more, Schmidt wasn’t necessarily all that unusual; historical anecdotes reveal that the prevailing stereotype of the hooded, blood-spattered, brutish executioner falls far short of the truth.

So then, what was it like to do this work hundreds of years ago in Europe? And how did “executioner” become a legitimate job title in the first place?

Related: Are Iron Maidens Really Torture Devices?

“What’s common to all [countries in Europe at the time] is that they’re all trying to have better criminal law enforcement,” said Joel Harrington, a historian at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and the author of “The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century” (Picador, 2013), a book about Schmidt’s life.

The problem was that things were “a little like the American Wild West, in that most criminals got away,” Harrington told Live Science. “So when they did catch them, they really liked to make a good example and have a public spectacle” — hence the need for public executioners to carry out that work.

But people weren’t exactly lining up for the job of hanging, beheading or burning criminals at the stake; most people understandably saw this as undesirable work. In fact, those who ultimately became executioners didn’t choose the job for themselves. Instead, it was bestowed upon them.

In some cases, butchers were roped in to become executioners, or convicts were offered the job as an alternative to their own deaths. But typically, executioners came into the jobs through family ties; most in the profession were men whose fathers had been executioners before them, Harrington explained. Even the diarist Schmidt was descended from an executioner. His father had unwillingly received the job when randomly ordained by a prince as a royal executioner.

Over time, this passing of the baton from father to son created what Harrington called long-standing “execution dynasties” that spread across Europe during the Middle Ages.

But the existence of those dynasties also reveals the poor image executioners had at the time. People were trapped in this family cycle of employment because, in reality, they had few other opportunities to work, according to Harrington. People whose professions revolved around death were people that the rest of society did not want to associate with. So executioners were typically consigned to the fringes of society — and even forced to literally live at the edge of town.

“People wouldn’t have invited executioners into their homes. Many executioners were not allowed to go into churches. Marriage has to be done at the executioner’s home,” Harrington said. “Some schools would not even take the children of executioners.”

This social isolation meant that executioners were left to consort with others forced to occupy society’s underworld, “undesirables” such as prostitutes, lepers and criminals. That only boosted public suspicion of executioners and their families.

Related: Medieval Torture’s 10 Biggest Myths

Executioners, therefore, were a conundrum: crucial for maintaining law and order, yet shunned because of their unsavory work. “Attitudes toward professional executioners were highly ambiguous. They were considered both necessary and impure at the same time,” said Hannele Klemettilä-McHale, an adjunct professor of cultural history at the University of Turku in Finland who has studied representations of executioners.

Yet, there were some professional perks to this morbid work. Executioners benefited from something called “havage,” a kind of tax that gave them the right to take a portion of food and drink from market vendors for free, said Klemettilä-McHale. What’s more, “the authorities usually gave [the executioner] free lodging and released him from tolls and taxes,” she told Live Science. These small allowances were intended to compensate for executioners’ social isolation — and to compel them to stay in the job.

But at odds with their lowly societal position was the professionalism that executioners were expected to show in their work. While the business of execution may seem like it would require little more than brute strength and barbarity, in reality, executioners needed a relatively high degree of expertise to do the job smoothly, said Klemettilä-McHale.

“The officeholder was expected to be successful at every execution. If he failed, he was accused not only of incompetence, but also of cruelty,” she said.

In some regions, executioners were limited to three strokes for a beheading — and if a grisly scene resulted from one too many swings of the ax or sword, there could be serious consequences. “Sometimes, an unsuccessful executioner was attacked by the furious spectators, and if he survived, the authorities punished him by withholding his fee [or] with imprisonment or dismissal,” Klemettilä-McHale explained.

There was clearly a powerful incentive to execute as cleanly as possible, and that meant having a relatively good understanding of the human body. Contrary to popular opinion, executioners weren’t uneducated. In fact, those in the profession had uncommonly high literacy rates for members of their social class, along with fundamental knowledge of human anatomy, Harrington said.

This led to a surprising irony of the job: Some executioners could double up as doctors. This created an interesting societal paradox: “People who didn’t want anything to do with an executioner socially would come to his house and ask to be healed,” Harrington said. We know, for instance, that Schmidt “had many, many more patients he healed than people he executed,” Harrington added. In fact, Schmidt wrote that doctoring would have been his chosen career, had he not been forced into execution.

Related: How Real Is the ‘Game of Thrones’ Medieval World?

Clearly, executioners from olden times were more than just blood-spattered brutes. Instead, the history books paint a picture of regular people forced into a job that nobody else would do — and in a time when execution was deemed essential for keeping the peace.

“Forget that image of the hood and them being anonymous and sadistic,” Harrington said. “They would have seen themselves as law enforcement officials.”

There’s a final twist in the story of Schmidt. Over the course of his career, he had gained an unusual degree of respect due to his notable professionalism, which led to his appointment as the official executioner of the town of Bamberg, Bavaria. That earned Schmidt a generous salary and allowed him to live a very comfortable life with his family in a large home. However, he was still stigmatized because of his work — a fate he did not want to pass on to his children.

So as a retired 70-year-old, Schmidt made it his mission to restore his family name. He appealed to Bavaria’s authorities to release the Schmidt sons from their father’s tormented legacy, and his bold bid was a success.

His children were ultimately freed from a life at the executioner’s block and given the right to pursue their own careers, as Schmidt had always wished to do — a happy ending to the executioner’s tale.

Originally published in Live Science.