Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for the ‘Archaeology’ Category

30,000-Year-Old Giant virus revived

Posted by Anonymous on March 4, 2014

20140303-221845.jpgA 30,000-year-old giant virus has been revived from the frozen Siberian tundra, sparking concern that increased mining and oil drilling in rapidly warming northern latitudes could disturb dormant microbial life that could one day prove harmful to man.

The latest find, described online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, appears to belong to a new family of mega-viruses that infect only amoeba. But its revival in a laboratory stands as “a proof of principle that we could eventually resurrect active infectious viruses from different periods,” said the study’s lead author, microbiologist Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University in France.

“We know that those non-dangerous viruses are alive there, which probably is telling us that the dangerous kind that may infect humans and animals — that we think were eradicated from the surface of Earth — are actually still present and eventually viable, in the ground,” Claverie said.

I’d like to see a movie like Jurassic Earth where we revive dinosaurs and they almost wipe us out then we revive this giant virus which is harmless to us but kills them all in 5 days and then there are only a few people left on earth and I’m one of them. And so are you.

Posted in Archaeology, Biology | Leave a Comment »

Saddle Ridge Hoard: Buried gold coin stash worth $10,000,000

Posted by Anonymous on February 26, 2014

The coins were in uncirculated, mint condition, adding to their worth to collectors
A California couple found a stash of gold coins buried on their property last year valued at as much as $10m (£6m), rare coin dealers have said.

The 1,427 coins, which date from 1847-1894, were never circulated and are in mint condition, numismatist David Hall told the Associated Press.

The unnamed couple found them buried in rusting metal cans under a tree while on a walk last April.

It is seen as the largest haul of buried treasure in US history.

“We’ve seen shipwrecks in the past where thousands of gold coins were found in very high grade, but a buried treasure of this sort is unheard of,” David McCarthy of currency firm Kagin’s, who is advising the couple, told Reuters news agency.

“I’ve never seen this face value in North America and you never see coins in the condition we have here.”

A rusted old can that contained the gold coins, shown in a photo distributed by the coin dealers Kagin’s
The coins were buried in rusted old metal cans
The couple live in a rural area of California known as Gold Country for the swarms of prospectors who descended on the region during the 19th Century gold rush.

They found the coins in an area of their land they called Saddle Ridge, and the coin dealers who have seen the haul have taken to calling it the Saddle Ridge Hoard.

It is a mystery who buried the coins – and why.

Mr Hall of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, California, which recently authenticated the coins, told the Associated Press the coins’ face value adds up to about $27,000. But some of the coins are so rare they could sell for $1m each,

The couple plan to sell the coins on Amazon.


What a quick fun way to become a multimillionaire! Why didn’t I think of this? ;-)

Posted in Archaeology, History, Money | Leave a Comment »

500-year-old hidden butt song from Hell + the Xeno transcription (listen)

Posted by Anonymous on February 17, 2014

the_garden_of_earthly_delights_by_bosch_high_resolution_2When Hieronymus Bosch painted The Garden of Earthly Delights some time between the years of 1490 and 1510, the man clearly had a lot on his mind. His triptych shows a hallucinatory landscape: There is Adam and Eve, for example, and there is a man flying on the back of a bird-lion grasping a bear in its talons. The three sections of the painting, all of which are currently housed in the Prado Museum, Madrid, have captivated viewers for centuries, and this week a university student in Oklahoma found another reason to take a closer look.

Amelia, “a hard-of-hearing music and information systems double major,” posted a close-up on Tumblr of “the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell.” The figure has a musical score stenciled across both cheeks, and Amelia translated it into modern notation and made a recording.

So what does a 500-year-old “butt song from Hell” actually sound like? To my ears something like the creepy orgy scene soundtrack from Eyes Wide Shut—which, given the painting’s content, is oddly appropriate. But make up your own mind by listening here.


I did my own translation, assuming the second line down is middle C as was often the case with Gregorian Chant. To hear the Xeno version, click “AButtMusicFromHell” in the box.com widget to the left. When I looked closely there were different simultaneous notes so I take this as harmony. I also made a midi file of my version, the way I read the notes. Play around with the rhythm using the midi file and you could create much better versions.



Posted in Archaeology, History | 4 Comments »

Caveman With Blue Eyes Shocks Scientists

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2014

http://media.skynews.com/media/images/generated/2014/1/27/285055/default/v2/9713872-1-1-328x437.jpgScientists examining the DNA of ancient remains find surprising new evidence of how early Europeans had dark skin and blue eyes.

Image: An artist’s impression of the face of a 7,000-year-old man, reconstructed from his skeleton.

His remains were discovered in a cold subterranean cave 5,000ft below sea level in the Cantabrian mountains of northwest Spain, where conditions are ideal for preserving DNA. Experts were astonished to find a combination of African and European genes in the ancient hunter gatherer who they christened La Brana 1. Scientists have unearthed surprising new evidence about what ancient Europeans looked like. Experts were shocked when genetic tests on a hunter-gatherer who lived 7,000 years ago found his dark hair and skin were combined with bright blue eyes.

It was previously thought that early Europeans were fair. The research has been led by the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Spain and is published in the journal Nature.

The lead author, Dr Carles Lalueza-Fox, said: “One explanation is that the lighter skin colour evolved much later than was previously assumed.”

Researchers were astonished to find a combination of African and European genes in the results on tests on a tooth. La Brana 1 was one of two unusually well preserved male skeletons unearthed from the La Brana-Arintero cave system near Leon in 2006. The scientists focused first on La Brana 1’s DNA because it was in a better condition. They hope to piece together the genome of the other man, La Brana 2, in due course. Both individuals lived in the Mesolithic period, which ended 5,000 years ago.

via Caveman With Blue Eyes Shocks Scientists.


Posted in Archaeology, Biology | Leave a Comment »

Pre- Viking Brew: Surprisingly Good

Posted by Anonymous on January 16, 2014

20140115-200516.jpgAncient Scandinavians quaffed an alcoholic mixture of barley, honey, cranberries, herbs and even grape wine imported from Greece and Rome, new research finds.

This Nordic “grog” predates the Vikings. It was found buried in tombs alongside warriors and priestesses, and is now available at liquor stores across the United States, thanks to a reconstruction effort by Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

“You’d think, with all these different ingredients, it sort of makes your stomach churn,” McGovern, the study’s lead author, told LiveScience. “But actually, if you put it in the right amounts and balance out the ingredients, it really does taste very good.”

Drink of the ancients

McGovern began the journey toward uncovering the ingredients of ancient Nordic alcohol decades ago, when he began combing through museums in Denmark and Sweden, looking for pottery shards that held traces of old beverages. But in the mid-1990s, the technology to analyze these chemical remnants just wasn’t available, he said.

More recently, McGovern and his co-authors re-examined the remnants with modern tools. They analyzed samples from four sites, two of which were grave sites in Sweden and Denmark. The oldest of these sites dated back to 1500 B.C. — more than 3,500 years ago. The oldest sample came from a large jar buried with a male warrior in Denmark. The other three came from strainer cups, used to serve wine, found in Denmark and Sweden. One of the strainer cups came from a tomb where four women were buried. One of the women, who died at around age 30, clutched the strainer in her hand.

Beer brewing goes back at least 10,000 years, and ancient humans were endlessly creative in their recipes for intoxicants. Studies of pollen content in northern European drinking vessels suggested the ancient residents drank honey-based mead and other alcoholic brews. But the exact ingredients were not well understood. Ancient texts written by Greeks and Romans proved that southern Europeans were among the first wine snobs — these authors dismissed Northern beverages as “barley rotted in water.”

In fact, Nordic grog was a complex brew, McGovern and his colleagues found. The ingredients included honey, cranberries and lingonberries (acidic red berries that grow in Scandinavia). Wheat, rye and barley — and, occasionally, imported grape wine from southern Europe — formed a base for the drink. Herbs and spices — such as bog myrtle, yarrow, juniper and birch resin — added flavor and perhaps medicinal qualities.
The oldest sample, which was buried with a male warrior, was an anomaly. The jug found in that grave contained only traces of honey, suggesting that the occupant went to his grave with a jar of unadulterated mead. Because the warrior had well-crafted weapons in his tomb, he was likely of high status. Pure mead was probably a drink for the elite, because honey was expensive and scarce, the researchers reported online Dec. 23 in the Danish Journal of Archaeology. …


I don’t drink but I’m curious to try this.

Posted in Archaeology, Food | Leave a Comment »

World’s oldest Buddhist shrine discovered in Nepal

Posted by Anonymous on November 28, 2013

Buddhist monks at the Mayadevi temple in Lumbini, NepalArchaeologists in Nepal say they have discovered traces of a wooden structure dating from the sixth century BC which they believe is the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine.

Kosh Prasad Acharya, who worked with archaeologists from Durham University, said on Tuesday that the structure had been unearthed inside the sacred Mayadevi temple in Lumbini.

The Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, is generally thought to have been born in about the sixth century BC at the temple site.

The findings were published in the December issue of the journal Antiquity.

Acharya said the traces had been date tested using radiocarbon and luminescence techniques. The archaeological team dug underneath previously known brick structures in the temple, and experts from the University of Stirling examined and collected the samples, he said. The team has been working at the site for the past three years.

Previously, a pillar installed by the Indian emperor Ashok with inscriptions dating to the third century BC was considered to be the oldest Buddhist structure, Acharya said. “This finding further strengthens the chronology of Buddha’s life and was is major news for the millions of Buddhists around the world,” Acharya said.

“Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition,” a Durham University archaeologist, Robin Coningham, said. “Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a building there as early as the sixth century BC.”

Each year, tens of thousands of Buddhists visit Lumbini, 175 miles south-west of Kathmandu. Followers believe Siddhartha, a prince, left his family and kingdom and meditated in the jungles of Nepal and India before achieving enlightenment. …

via World’s oldest Buddhist shrine discovered in Nepal | World news | theguardian.com.

Posted in Archaeology, Religion | 1 Comment »

Mysterious Package Found in Century-Old Time Capsule

Posted by Anonymous on November 28, 2013

Mysterious Package Found in Century-Old Time CapsuleIf you opened a 101-year-old time capsule and found a mysterious package addressed to the descendants of an unknown man, would you open it? That’s the question a church in Michigan now faces after they recently cracked open a time capsule from 1912, and found something they couldn’t quite explain.

The Lansing State Journal has this fascinating story of a cornerstone capsule that’s leaving members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Grand Ledge scratching their heads. The capsule included everything you’d expect from one of the era, including photographs, church literature, and newspapers. But it also included a package with cryptic instructions for the future.

Dated May 2, 1912, the handwriting on the package is a little hard to make out. But according to Alan Miller, who wrote about it for the Lansing State Journal, it reads:

If opened after the lapse of many years, these are to be presented to relatives of Rev. Foote if any are alive. Cassius Alexander, Warden. Presented by Rev. J. E. Foote Congregational Minister.

A 1948 book about the history of churches in the area mentions the 1912 time capsule and even includes a list of contents. But the mysterious package isn’t mentioned at all.

One of the photographs included in the capsule supposedly shows Reverend Foote. He’s the man on the left holding the white hat. But nobody at the church really has any idea who he was or whether he has any descendants.

Most importantly, nobody has any idea what could be in the package. And it seems that the church has no plans to open it until they figure out if old Reverend Foote has any living relatives.

I did a cursory newspaper archive search and the only mention of a Reverend J. E. Foote that I could find in any Michigan newspaper of the era came from the November 16, 1911 edition of the Marshall Evening Statesman. It appears Reverend Foote went deer hunting every autumn:

Cadillac — For the eighth season Rev. J. E. Foote has gone into the north woods to hunt deer. The pastor goes alone, and in Schoolcraft county is joined by a brother. Rev. Foote always bags his allotment.

Who are Reverend Foote and Cassius Alexander and why did they send this time-traveling package to Foote’s descendants? I’ve reached out to Trinity Episcopal Church and will keep you posted if there are any new developments in this time capsule mystery. Until then, let the wild speculation begin. …

via Mysterious Package Found in Century-Old Time Capsule.

What would you leave to a future ancestor 100 years from now?

Posted in Archaeology | Leave a Comment »

More than 600 ancient seals and amulets found

Posted by Anonymous on November 21, 2013

More than 600 ancient seals and amulets foundClassical scholars from the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” made an unusually large find of seals in an ancient sanctuary in Turkey. They discovered more than 600 stamp seals and cylinder seals at the sacred site of the storm and weather god Jupiter Dolichenus, 100 of which in the current year alone. “Such large amounts of seal consecrations are unheard-of in any comparable sanctuary”, said excavation director Prof. Dr. Engelbert Winter and archaeologist Dr. Michael Blömer at the end of the excavation season. In this respect, the finding of numerous pieces from the 7th to the 4th centuries B.C. close to the ancient city of Doliche is unparalleled.

“The amazingly large number proves how important seals and amulets were for the worshipping of the god to whom they were consecrated as votive offerings”, according to Classical scholar Prof. Winter. Many pieces show scenes of adoration. “Thus, they provide a surprisingly vivid and detailed insight into the faith of the time.” The stamp seals and cylinder seals as well as scarabs, made of glass, stone and quartz ceramics, were mostly crafted in a high-quality manner. Following the restoration work, the finds were handed over to the relevant museum in Gaziantep in Turkey.

Different themes can be found on the seals and amulets: the spectrum ranges from geometric ornaments and astral symbols to elaborate depictions of animals and people. This includes, for example, praying men in front of divine symbols. Another popular theme was a royal hero fighting animals and hybrid creatures. “Even those images that do not depict a deity express strong personal piety: with their seals, people consecrated an object to their god which was closely associated with their own identity”, said Blömer. People wore the amulets found with the seals in everyday life. “Strung on chains, they were supposed to fend off bad luck”, explained the archaeologist.

From the Iron Age until the Roman Empire

Up to now, the researchers were able to identify late Babylonian, local Syrian Achaemenid and Levantine seals. “The large find provides new impetus for research to answer unsolved questions of cult practices, cult continuity and cult extension – above all, these are important for the understanding of the early history of the sanctuary in the 1st millennium B.C., which had been unknown until recently”, according to Prof. Winter. Later, in the 2nd century A.D., Jupiter Dolichenus turned into one of the most important deities of the Roman Empire. …

via More than 600 ancient seals and amulets found.

Only a few were found to have magical properties, such as the ability to heal paper cuts, hypnotize horses, and bring on a rain of frogs. ;-)

Posted in Archaeology | Leave a Comment »

Farmer to become millionaire after 2 DINOSAUR skeletons discovered on his land

Posted by Anonymous on October 23, 2013

20131023-202050.jpgA farmer is set to become an overnight millionaire after stumbling across the 70-million-year-old bones of two dinosaurs on his land.

The enormous 38ft long Tyrannosaurus rex was discovered just a few miles from the 26ft Triceratops – and together they are set to fetch more than two million pounds.

Experts have described the incredible finds as “very significant, very impressive and very valuable”.

The T-rex skeleton is so significant that it is said to be among the top 20 ever found in the world, as it boasts around 40 per cent of its original bones.

The rest of the skeleton is made up of cast bones from other T-rex finds.

The Triceratops, a herbivore known for having two large horns on its head and a smaller one on its nose, is 70 per cent original.

The bones of the gigantic beasts were found on a 20 square mile ranch in Hell Creek in the U.S. state of Montana before being excavated by dinosaur fossil hunters.

They have since been prepared and mounted ready for sale.

The T-rex has been named ‘Russell’ after the American artist Charles Russell, who used a nearby shed when painting some of his Western landscapes.

It is tipped to fetch £1.4 million, while the Triceratops could fetch £560,000.

The world record for the most expensive dinosaur fossil was set in 1997 when ‘Sue’, a Tyrannosaurus rex, sold for £5.4 million.


Posted in Archaeology, Money | Leave a Comment »

Skull may change story of human evolution

Posted by Anonymous on October 18, 2013

20131018-133626.jpgGeorgian scientists on Friday showed off a 1.8 million-year-old skull discovered in the Caucasus nation that researchers say could force a re-evaluation of current theories of human evolution.
The skull – unearthed in the medieval town of Dmanisi some 100 kilometres (62 miles) southwest of Tbilisi – is the first completely preserved skull found from that period.

Along with four other skull samples uncovered at the site, it appears to show that early man was a single species with a wide range of looks rather than several distinct species.

“Today in this skull – and the other Dmanisi samples – we see all the features lumped together in one group that we previously thought identified different groups,” David Lordkipanidze, Georgia’s national museum director, told AFP after a presentation in the capital Tbilisi on Friday.

The collection – which is housed in the vault of Georgia’s national museum – is “the richest collection of hominids in the world from that time”, Lordkipanidze, the lead researcher on the project, said.

“We wanted to share with the Georgian public here what we had found,” he said before allowing a small number of journalists into the vault to see the original skull.

The stunningly well-preserved find has an almost-complete set of teeth and seems more elongated than a normal human skull. …


Posted in Archaeology | Leave a Comment »


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