Half-Eaten Cookie Found Inside 16th Century Tudor Manuscript
One timid schoolboy is believed to be leafing through the book which seems to be a chocolate chip cookie about 50 years ago. The manuscript — which dates back almost 500 years — was given to the university by a grammar school in 1970.
The 1529 volume from the complete works of St Augustine is stored inside the university’s rare books archive, where no food, drink or even pens are allowed.
Emily Dourish, the deputy keeper of rare books and early manuscripts, discovered the biscuit.
She explained to The BBC: “It was probably a schoolboy looking at the book over 50 years ago who then accidentally dropped a biscuit and it was forgotten about.”
“When we received the book, somebody will have had a brief look at it, then stored it away. Nobody has properly looked at it since.”
“I was stunned. When we gave it to our conservationist, his jaw dropped.”
Restorers were able to remove the decaying “dry and crumbly” biccie — but it has left a greasy stain on a handwritten page.
The university’s special collections library tweeted: “For future reference, we have an acid-free paper to mark your place. Please don’t use baked goods.”
Archaeologists in Turkey Discover a Mysterious Ancient Kingdom Lost in History
In Southern Turkey Last Winter, a local farmer stumbled over a large stone half submerged in a canal of irrigation with mysterious inscriptions.
Accordingly to new discoveries, the stone revealed the existence of an ancient, lost civilization that might have defeated King Midas’ kingdom of Phrygia in the late eighth century B.C., according to new findings.
The farmer tipped the nearby archaeologist to the presence of the stone a few months after this discovery.
“Right away it was clear it was ancient, and we recognized the script it was written in: Luwian, the language used in the Bronze and Iron Ages in the area,” James Osborne, an archeologist and assistant professor of Anatolian Archeology at the University of Chicago, said in the statement. With a tractor, the farmer helped the archeologists pull the heavy stone block, or stele, out from the canal.
The stele was covered in hieroglyphs written in Luwian, one of the older Indo-European languages, according to the statement. The written language, made up of hieroglyphic symbols native to ancient Turkey, is read in alternating sequences from right to left and left to right.
“We had no idea about this kingdom,” Osborne said. “In a flash, we had profound new information on the Iron Age Middle East.” The stone tells the story of an ancient kingdom that defeated Phrygia, which was ruled by King Midas. According to Greek mythology, Midas turned everything he touched into gold.
A symbol on the stone indicated that it was a message that came directly from its ruler, King Hartapu. One part of the stone read, “The storm gods delivered the [opposing] kings to his majesty.”
The lost kingdom likely existed between the ninth and seventh centuries B.C. and at its height, it likely covered around 300 acres (120 hectares). Though that sounds tiny compared with modern cities, it was actually one of the largest settlements to exist in ancient Turkey at the time.
The name of the kingdom is unclear, but its capital city was likely located at what is now the nearby archeological site of Turkmen-Karahoyuk.
The Konya Regional Archaeological Survey Project had identified this settlement as a major archeological site in 2017, and Osborne and his colleagues had been excavating there at the time when the stone was discovered.
This inscription isn’t the first mention of King Hartapu. Just under 10 miles (16 kilometers) south, archeologists previously discovered hieroglyphic inscriptions on a volcano that referred to King Hartapu. That inscription didn’t reveal who he was or what kingdom he ruled, according to the statement.
Remembering the giant mushrooms that once ruled the earth
When earth plants were relatively new kids and “the largest trees only a few meters high” on the evolutionary block from around 420 to 350 million years ago, giant spires of life poked from the Earth.
“The ancient organism boasted trunks up to 24 feet (8 meters) high and as wide as three feet (one meter),” said National Geographic in 2007. With the help of a fossil dug up in Saudi Arabia scientists finally figured out what the giant creature was: a fungus. (We think.)
The towering fungus spires would have stood out against a landscape scarce of such giants, said New Scientist in 2007.
“A 6-meter fungus would be odd enough in the modern world, but at least we are used to trees quite a bit bigger,” says Boyce.
“Plants at that time were a few feet tall, invertebrate animals were small, and there were no terrestrial vertebrates. This fossil would have been all the more striking in such a diminutive landscape.”
Fossils of the organisms, known as Prototaxites, had peppered the paleontological findings of the past century and a half, ever since they were first discovered by a Canadian in 1859.
But despite the fossil records, no one could figure out what the heck these giant spires were. The University of Chicago:
For the next 130 years, debate raged. Some scientists called Prototaxites a lichen, others a fungus, and still others clung to the notion that it was some kind of tree.
“The problem is that when you look up close at the anatomy, it’s evocative of a lot of different things, but it’s diagnostic of nothing,” says Boyce, an associate professor in geophysical sciences and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. “And it’s so damn big that when whenever someone says its something, everyone else’s hackles get up: ‘How could you have a lichen 20 feet tall?’”
That all changed in 2007 when a study came out that concluded the spires were a fungus, like a gigantic early mushroom.
But not everyone was sold on the idea that Prototaxites was an early fungus. No one’s questioning the spires’ existence—people just have trouble trying to imagine that such a huge structure could be a fungus.
Researchers trying to refute the fungus idea thought that Prototaxites spires were gigantic mats of liverworts that had somehow rolled up. But in a follow-up study, the scientists who had proposed the fungus idea doubled down on their claim.
So science is messy, and despite more than a century of digging, we still don’t really know, for sure, what these huge spires that dominated the ancient Earth really were.
But even though the spire-like mushrooms of yore—or whatever they were—are long gone, don’t feel too bad for fungus kind. The largest organism on Earth, says ABC, is still a huge fungal mat, a single organism spread over 2,200 acres of forest in eastern Oregon.
Bones hidden in church revealed to be remains of one of England’s earliest saints
First scientific tests on bones in a Kent Church for decades prove they are really are relics of one of the earliest English saints, Eanswythe, patron saint of Folkestone.
She was a Kentish royal Anglo-Saxon princess who is said to have founded one of the earliest English monastic communities as a teenager but died in her teens or early 20s.
If the findings of further studies are authenticated, hers are the earliest identified remains of an English saint, and the only remains identified of a member of the powerful Anglo Saxon royal family.
Eanswythe cannot have been born any later than 641 AD since her father king Eadbald died in late 640. She is believed to have died by 663. The radiocarbon dating results, which would indicate the latest date of her death, give a high probability that the bones date from between 649 and 673 AD.
“My hands were literally shaking when I opened the email with the results,” says Andrew Richardson, the archaeologist who led the Finding Eanswythe project. “The dates could have been inconclusive, or blown the project completely out of the water, but instead they are the best we could possibly have hoped for.”
The diocese of Canterbury gave special permission for the work on the bones, which were examined by archaeologists in the 1980s but not tested.
Apart from one bone fragment and a single tooth sent for radiocarbon to Queen’s University Belfast, they stayed in the church during the work, with the archaeologists and scientists sleeping in the church to guard them.
Most of the team including Richardson come from Folkestone and had known the story of the teenage saint since childhood, apart from US-born conservator Dana Goodburn-Brown who is still working on fragments including minute scraps which may be the gold thread from precious fabric once covering the bones.
The relics had disappeared for centuries before workmen found them in 1885, hidden inside a wall near the altar, presumably to save them from the iconoclasm of the Reformation, which destroyed most of the oldest monuments.
They were still in a curious battered oval lead container, one of a handful of known Anglo Saxon examples made from recycled panels cut down from a high status decorated Roman coffin. They have remained where they were reinterred in 1885, in a niche behind an alabaster and brass fronted door, part of an elaborate Victorian redecoration of the church.
Eanswythe’s grandfather Ethelbert was the first English king to convert to Christianity, under the mission to Kent of Saint Augustine: his tomb and others of the royal family were destroyed with Augustine’s church in Canterbury.
She is said to have founded a monastic settlement, near the present medieval church of St Mary and St Eanswythe which stands on the cliff above the sea high above the old town of Folkestone.
Early accounts of her life say her body was moved when some monastic buildings tumbled over the cliff into the sea and moved again when the new church was built.
In a 13th century life, she was credited with some admirably practical miracles, illustrated in Victorian stained glass in the church, including diverting a stream to flow uphill to supply her monastery, and ordering a flock of birds to spare their crops.
The Anglo Saxon history of the area will be celebrated in events at the nearby town museum during British Science Week from 6-15 March. The Finding Eanswythe project is fundraising for further tests, which the team hopes will include extracting DNA which should reveal more about her diet, background, and appearance.
Skeletons of war dead from 11,000 BC go on show at the British Museum
Lying on their left sides, curled together, the two skeletons on display for the first time at the British Museum look peacefully laid to rest.
But the razor-sharp stone flakes among the bones are the remains of ancient weapons. The two are among the oldest known war dead in the world, men who died 13,000 years ago.
The cemetery they came from, on the banks of the Nile in what is now northern Sudan, is famous among archaeologists: dating from about 11,000 BC, it is among the oldest organized burial grounds in the world. However, the finds have never been exhibited before.
“These were tribes mounting regular and ferocious raids amongst themselves for scarce resources,” curator Renee Friedman said.
“There were many women and children among the dead, a very unusual composition for any cemetery, and almost half bore the marks of violent death. These people lived in extraordinarily violent times.”
The bodies were laid on their left sides, heads to the south and looking east – towards the source of the river and the rising sun, on which survival depended.
“Before this date, we find isolated burials of bodies just placed in holes in the ground,” Friedman said. “These come from a time when the hunter-gatherers are starting to put down roots, and burying their ancestors is a very powerful way of laying claim to the land. But clearly they had to defend it, not once but many times, at a terrible cost.”
The cemetery at Jebel Sahaba now lies deep under the waters of the Aswan dam.
They were excavated in the 1960s by the American archaeologist Professor Fred Wendorf, in one of the Unesco-funded rescue digs to save as much history as possible before the waters rose.
Wendorf recovered the remains of 61 individuals, with weapons. When he retired from the Southern Methodist University of Texas in 2001 he presented his collection to the British Museum in London.
“Often with remains from such an ancient time, we will never know what happened to them,” Friedman said. “With these skeletons, there is no question: we found arrowheads lodged in spines, spear points that had pierced eye sockets … The lives and deaths of these people were not nice.”
There are carvings found in the Angkor Wat temples that seem to resemble dinosaurs.
By the time that our ape ancestors split from the line that would produce chimpanzees, which happened about 4 million to 7 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs had been extinct for more than 58 million years.
Birds, the descendants of one group of small theropod dinosaurs, are the only dinosaurs that survived the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. There are a number of people who reject the scientific view, however, and insist that humans and dinosaurs once lived together within the last 10,000 years or so.
These “young Earth creationists” twist Biblical passages to support their view that Tyrannosaurus rex lived peacefully in the Garden of Eden. They also supplement their beliefs with some rather spurious evidence—like a carving found on a Cambodian temple.
It is not known precisely when the carving was first noticed, but during the past several years, creationist groups have been a-twitter about a supposed carving of a Stegosaurus on the popular Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia. (The story recently reappeared on the “All News Web” site, an internet tabloid that specializes in tales of UFOs and other humbugs.) Since the temple was built around the end of the 12th century, some take this bas relief to suggest that Stegosaurus, or something Stegosaurus-like, survived until a few hundred years ago.
While certainly not proving their view that dinosaurs and humans were created together less than 10,000 years ago, it is consistent with their beliefs and is a favorite piece of evidence among creationists.
There is a substantial problem, however. Not only does creationism distort nature to fit a narrow theological view, but there is also no evidence that the carving in question is of a dinosaur.
If you look at the carving quickly and at an angle, yes, it does superficially look like a Stegosaurus than a kindergartener made out of play-doh.
As anyone who has spent time watching the clouds go by knows, though, an active imagination can turn something plain into something fantastic. If viewed directly, the carving hardly looks Stegosaurus-like at all. The head is large and appears to have large ears and a horn.
The “plates” along the back more closely resemble leaves, and the sculpture is a better match for a boar or rhinoceros against a leafy background.
Even so, the sculpture only vaguely looks like a rhino or boar. We can be certain that it is not a representation of a living Stegosaurus, but could it be a more recent attempt at depicting a dinosaur? Indeed, it is quite possible that this carving has been fabricated.
There are many sculptures at the temple, and the origin of the carving in question is unknown. There are rumors that it was created recently, perhaps by a visiting movie crew (the temple is a favorite locale for filmmakers), and it is possible that someone created something Stegosaurus-like during the past few years as a joke.
Either way, the temple carving can in no way be used as evidence that humans and non-avian dinosaurs coexisted.
Fossils have inspired some myths (see Adrienne Mayor’s excellent book The First Fossil Hunters), but close scrutiny of geological layers, reliable radiometric dating techniques, the lack of dinosaur fossils in strata younger than the Cretaceous, and other lines of evidence all confirm that non-avian dinosaurs became extinct tens of millions of years before there was any type of culture that could have recorded what they looked like.
As scientist Carl Sagan said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, and in the case of modern dinosaurs the evidence just isn’t there.
Exquisite 2,000-year-old sapphire ring thought to have belonged to Roman Emperor Caligula
The Roman emperor Caligula, who had been governing for four years from AD 37 until his assassination, was said to own an exquisite 2,000-year-old ring of Sapphire.
The sky blue hololith, made from a single piece of the precious stone, is believed to have been owned by Caligula. The face engraved into the bezel is thought to be his fourth and last wife Caesonia, who was said to be so beautiful Caligula paraded her naked in front of his friends.
The reason for Caligula’s assassination could stem from the extravagance of spending, especially on precious stones, which depleted the Roman treasury.
There are even rumors that Caligula also incestuous relationships with sisters in the royal family and adultery with the wives of allies.
Worth mentioning, this ancient sapphire ring has a woman’s face engraved on it. According to the Daily Mail, this woman is Caesonia, Caligula’s fourth wife.
Caesonia possesses the beauty of tilting the water, tilting the city. Emperor Caligula even once naked his wife and march in front of friends for people to admire. However, “beautiful fate”, Caesonia was killed shortly after Emperor Caligula was assassinated.
The sapphire ring is said to have attracted attention during an exhibition of more than 100 gems held by jewelry company Wartski next week in London, England. Its value is about USD 7,000 – USD 750,000.
The auction became a major concern for gem collectors around the world. People from Japan even lined up outside Wartski’s premises days before the exhibition was first approved.
The “Caligula Ring” is in the Earl Marlund Gems “Marlborough Gems” from 1637 to 1762. This is a collection of 800 gems carved by George Spencer, the 4th earl of Marlborough, into the late 18th century, early 19th century.
They were sold in 1875 by John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Earl of Marlborough, to fund the repair of the Blenheim Palace.
“This ring is one of the precious pieces of the” Marlborough Gems “collection. It is made entirely of sapphire. Very few of these rings still exist and I bet this is the best one of you. find.
We believe it belongs to Emperor Caligula and the face that appears on the ring is his fourth wife, Caesonia, “said Kieran McCarthy, director of Wartski.
Homo erectus Fossils and Tools Unearthed in Ethiopia
Africa’s smallest Homo erectus cranium and the various stone tools discovered in Gona, Ethiopia, indicate that human ancestors were more varied, both physically and behaviorally, than previously known.
A Cranium was discovered by an international study team headed by the U.S. and Spanish scientists, including a Michigan geologist university, An almost complete hominin cranium is estimated to 1.5 million years, and a partial cranium dated to 1.26 million years ago, from the Gona study area, in the Afar State of Ethiopia discovered by international study team.
All cranies that are assigned to Homo erectus were associated with simple Oldowan-type (Mode 1) and more complex Acheulian (Mode 2) stone tool assemblages. This suggests that H. Erectus had a degree of cultural/behavioral plasticity that has yet to be fully understood.
The team was led by Sileshi Semaw of CENIEH (Centro Nacional de Investigación Sobre la Evolución Humana) in Spain and Michael Rogers of Southern Connecticut State University. U-M geologist Naomi Levin coordinated the geological work to determine the age of the fossils and their environmental context.
The nearly complete cranium was discovered at Dana Aoule North (DAN5), and the partial cranium at Busidima North (BSN12), sites that are 5.7 kilometers apart. The research team has been investigating the Gona deposits since 1999, and the BSN12 partial cranium was discovered by N. Toth of Indiana University during the first season.
The DAN5 cranium was found a year later by the late Ibrahim Habib, a local Afar colleague, on a camel trail. The BSN12 partial cranium is robust and large, while the DAN5 cranium is smaller and more gracile, suggesting that H. Erectus was probably a sexually dimorphic species. Remarkably, the DAN5 cranium has the smallest endocranial volume documented for H. Erectus in Africa, about 590 cubic centimeters, probably representing a female.
The smallest Homo erectus cranium in Africa, and the diverse stone tools found at Gona, show that human ancestors were more varied, both physically and behaviorally, than previously known, according to the researchers.
This physical diversity is mirrored by the stone tool technologies exhibited by the artifacts found in association with both crania. Instead of only finding the expected large handaxes or picks, signature tools of H. Erectus, the Gona team found both well-made handaxes and plenty of less-complex Oldowan tools and cores.
The toolmakers at both sites lived in close proximity to ancient rivers, in settings with riverine woodlands adjacent to open habitats. The low d13C isotope value from the DAN5 cranium is consistent with a diet dominated by C3 plants (trees and shrubs, and/or animals that ate food from trees or shrubs) or, alternatively, broad-spectrum omnivory.
The ages of the fossils and the associated artifacts were constrained using a variety of techniques: standard field mapping and stratigraphy, as well as analyses of the magnetic properties of the sediments, the chemistry of volcanic ashes, and the distribution of argon isotopes in volcanic ashes.
“Constraining the age of these sites proved particularly challenging, requiring multiple experts using a range of techniques over several years of fieldwork,” said Levin, an associate professor in the U-M Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and in the Program in the Environment.
“This is a great example of scientific detective work and how science gets done, drawing on a community of scholars and their collective knowledge of the geology of eastern Africa,” said Levin, who co-directs an isotope geochemistry lab that conducts studies of ancient environments using carbon and oxygen isotopes.
Along with the University of Arizona geologist Jay Quade, Levin also coordinated the environmental reconstruction of the Gona sites. At the Gona study area in Ethiopia’s Afar State, H. Erectus used locally available stone cobbles to make their tools, which were accessed from nearby riverbeds. Fossil fauna was abundant at the BSN12 site, but cut marks or hammerstone-percussed bones were not identified.
At the DAN5 site, an elephant toe bone was found with stone tool cut marks, and a small antelope leg bone had a percussion notch, implying that H. Erectus butchered both large and small mammals, though it is not clear whether they hunted or scavenged their prey.
There is a common view that early Homo (e.g., Homo habilis) invented the first simple (Oldowan) stone tools, but when H. erectus appeared about 1.8 to 1.7 million years ago, a new stone tool technology called the Acheulian, with purposefully shaped large cutting tools such as handaxes, emerged in Africa.
The timing, causes, and nature of this significant transition to the Acheulian by about 1.7 million years ago is not entirely clear, though, and is an issue debated by archaeologists. The authors of the Science Advances paper said their investigations at DAN5 and BSN12 have clearly shown that Oldowan technology persisted much longer after the invention of the Acheulian, indicative of particular behavioral flexibility and cultural complexity practiced by H. Erectus, a trait not fully understood or appreciated in paleoanthropology.
“Although most researchers in the field consider the Acheulian to have replaced the earlier Oldowan (Mode 1) by 1.7 Ma, our research has shown that Mode 1 technology actually remained ubiquitous throughout the entire Paleolithic,” Semaw said.
“The simple view that a single hominin species is responsible for a single stone tool technology is not supported,” Rogers said. “The human evolutionary story is more complicated.” The DAN5 and BSN12 sites at Gona are among the earliest examples of H. Erectus associated with both Oldowan and Acheulian stone assemblages.
“In the almost 130 years since its initial discovery in Java, H. Erectus has been recovered from many sites across Eurasia and Africa. The new remains from the Gona study area exhibit a degree of biological diversity in Africa that had not been seen previously, notably the small size of the DAN5 cranium,” said study co-author Scott Simpson of Case Western Reserve University.
“The BSN12 partial cranium also provides evidence linking the African and eastern Asian fossils, demonstrating how successful Homo erectus was.”
In Africa, some argue that multiple hominin species may have been responsible for the two distinct contemporary stone technologies, Oldowan and Acheulian. On the contrary, the evidence from Gona suggests a lengthy and concurrent use of both Oldowan and Acheulian technologies by a single long-lived species, H. Erectus, the variable expression of which deserves continued research, according to the researchers.
“One challenge in the future will be to understand better the stone tool attributes that are likely to be passed on through cultural tradition versus others that are more likely to be reinvented by different hominin groups,” Rogers said.