понедельник, 1 апреля 2019 г.

Caption Spotlight (1 April 2019): The Hills of Junventae…


Caption Spotlight (1 April 2019): The Hills of Junventae Chasma


This image captures some of the geologic diversity of Mars. There are hills of ancient terrains on the floor of Juventae Chasma, surrounded by younger sediments, including dark sand sheets and dunes that are likely active today.


The hills are heavily eroded by landslides, forming gullies in some places. Diverse colors represent unaltered volcanic minerals (blue and green) and altered minerals (brighter and reddish colors).


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


peashooter85: An ornate onyx chalice recently discovered at the…





peashooter85:



An ornate onyx chalice recently discovered at the Basilica of St. Isodore in Leon, Spain.  Dated to between 100 BC and 200 AD, a couple of Spanish historians believe that it is none other than the exalted Holy Grail.  The chalice joins another 200 cups, dishes, chalices, mugs, and other vessels in Europe which are claimed to be the authentic Holy Grail.



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peashooter85: How did coins from Medieval East Africa end up in…




peashooter85:



How did coins from Medieval East Africa end up in Australia?


During World War II in the Wessel Islands north of the Australian coast, an RAAF serviceman named Morry Isenburg found a handful of very old coins.  Isenburg had the coins identified by an expert, who determined that 4 of the coins were minted by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century.  However, the remaining 5 coins certainly had an especially interesting origin, originating from the Kilwa Sultanate, a Medieval African kingdom which dominated the Swahili Coast of east Africa between the 10th and 15th centuries.  The coins themselves range in date from the 10th to the 14th century.  Made from simple copper, only two other Kilwa coins have ever been found outside of East Africa, being discovered from a site in Oman and a site in Zimbabwe.


This of course raises serious questions as to how the coins made their way 6,000 miles from East Africa to Australia.  Later expeditions to the island have found a shipwreck of the island’s coast, which has yet to be dated or identified.  Most likely, the coins have washed ashore from that shipwreck.  The island also sports many examples of aboriginal rock art depicting a variety of ships from various places and periods in time.  It is quite obvious that the waters off Wessel have been rich shipping lanes for centuries.  Trading fleets from Southeast Asia and Indonesia crossed through the region in large numbers.  The Dutch traded heavily in the area in the 17th century and first stepped foot in Australia in 1606.  


Many enthusiastic historians like to speculate that the coins are proof of Kilwa contact with Australia dating before European contact.  They wouldn’t be off base as the Kilwa dominated East African trade, with commercial contacts stretching through the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, Broneo, Sumartra, Java, and perhaps as far as China.  Muslim immigrants and Islamic trade stretched to Southeast Asia and throughout Indonesia.  So it’s an extremely plausible theory that Kilwa ships sailed in Australian waters before European colonization.  Unfortunately, the finding of Medieval Kilwa coins found intermixed with 17th century Dutch coins cast doubt on this theory.  Most likely, the coins were the collection of Dutch, or perhaps Javanese merchants in the 17th century.  Then again, there is little hard evidence supporting either theory as to how the coins found their way to Australia.  Regardless, the Kilwa coins show that sometimes even the simplest of objects can find their way across the world.



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peashooter85: A cuneiform receipt for the sale of goats, Sumer,…


peashooter85:



A cuneiform receipt for the sale of goats, Sumer, circa 2,000 BC.



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peashooter85: A 600 year old Chinese coin found by…


peashooter85:



A 600 year old Chinese coin found by archeologists on the Kenyan Island of Manda.





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peashooter85: Ancient gold cup of Incan origin.


peashooter85:



Ancient gold cup of Incan origin.



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peashooter85: Ancient Chinese bronze pitcher, Shang Dynasty,…


peashooter85:



Ancient Chinese bronze pitcher, Shang Dynasty, 1,200 BC.



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peashooter85: Pair of gold clasps depicting warriors, 1st…


peashooter85:



Pair of gold clasps depicting warriors, 1st century BC.  Part of the “Bactrian Hoard”, this piece was discovered in 1978 among 20,600 other gold ornaments in an ancient grave site near Sheberghan in Northern Afghanistan.  In 1979 the artifacts were carefully hidden in secret vaults under the Central Bank of Afghanistan in Kabul.  They were rediscovered in 2003.



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peashooter85: The Rent is Due… Ancient Babylonian bill for rent…


peashooter85:



The Rent is Due…


Ancient Babylonian bill for rent written in cuneiform.  Dated to 542 BC, currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.



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peashooter85: An Etruscan Gold Spiral gold ring circa 7th…


peashooter85:



An Etruscan Gold Spiral gold ring circa 7th Century BC.  The Etruscans were a people who dominated central and northern Italy, before the rise of the Roman Republic.  



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peashooter85: The largest standing Egyptian Obelisk… is in…



peashooter85:



The largest standing Egyptian Obelisk… is in Rome?  The Lateran Obelisk,


Perhaps the only thing more iconic of Egypt than the obelisk are the pyramids.  The large towering slabs of granite are often hundred of feet high and hundreds of tons in weight.  It would have taken extraordinary skill and engineering know how to erect these large stone behemoths.  Archeologists and engineers today still debate how they did it, with some wild theories including mysticism and aliens.  However, did you know that the largest standing Egyptian obelisk is not located in Egypt, but rather in Rome?


The largest Egyptian obelisk still standing today is the Lateran Obelisk.  Constructed in the 1400’s BC, it was commisioned by the Pharaoh Thutmose III and Thutmose IV.  A large obelisk, it weighs 455 tons and reaches a height of around 150 feet. Originally it was located at the Temple of Amun in Karnak.  So how did this large stone structure make its way to Rome?


In 31 BC, the Roman leader Octavius (Emperor Augustus) had defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra, conquering Egypt for the Roman Empire. The Romans were very enthusiastic antiquarians, often pillaging conquered territories of antiquities, relics, art, and treasure.  This was often done on a grand scale, as even large statuary was taken and used to decorate the mansions of wealthy Romans.  The Romans especially had an interest in Egyptian obelisks, every wealthy patrician family had to have their own obelisk in their collection. Throughout Egypt obelisks were uprooted from their foundations, shipped across the Mediterranean, and erected in various sites all over Roman Europe.  Eight alone where shipped to Rome, others were erected in the Eastern Roman capitol of Constantinople. When a shortage in Egyptian obelisks developed, the Romans began building their own.  The Renaissance saw a revival of classical architecture and with it the obelisk.  Obelisk fever once again hit Rome by storm as wealthy Italians commissioned artists and architects to build their own.  Perhaps the most famous example of this Renaissance obsession is the Vatican Obelisk in St. Peters Square, erected in 1586 AD, it was formally an Ancient Egyptian obelisk built by an unknown pharaoh during the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt (2494 BC – 2345 BC).


The Lateran Obelisk caught the fancy of Roman Emperor Constantius II (reign 350-361AD).  He intended to erect it as a monument at the new capitol of Constantinople.  However, Constantius fell into conflict with his brothers over who should rule the empire.  The obelisk remained in storage at Alexandria, until Constantius defeated his brothers and grabbed the throne of the empire.  From there the obelisk was moved to Rome, where it was erected as a decoration and memorial to Constantius’ father in the Circus Maximus, a large stadium which hosted chariot races.


When the Western Roman Empire fell the Circus Maximus fell into to disuse.  As the structure crumbled masons pilfered it for free stone, and the obelisk fell over and was covered with dirt after centuries of disuse.  In 1587 Pope Sixtus ordered the excavation of the obelisk and its restoration.  Renaissance artist and engineer Domenico Fontana, who repaired and restored its engravings, and shortened it by 4 meters.  The obelisk was then erected on the Piazza del Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill, next to the Basilica of St. John Lateran (thus the name Lateran Obelisk) in 1588.  A bronze cross was also added, a incredible contrast to the religious ancient Egyptian ceremonial hieroglyphs below.


Because of the Romans obelisk fever there are twice as many obelisks in the City of Rome, than there are in all of Egypt.



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peashooter85: Emperor Gallienus and the Chicken — Rome, 3rd…



peashooter85:



Emperor Gallienus and the Chicken — Rome, 3rd century AD


According to the Historia Augusta, a biography of the Roman Emperors, in the mid 3rd century AD a merchant was caught selling fake jewels to Salonina, the wife of Roman Emperor Gallienus.  Gallienus ordered the man arrested and ordered that he be punished by being fed to a lion as part of the spectacles in the Colosseum.


The merchant was forced into the Colosseum to face off with the lion.  As his bladder gave out he could hear the ferocious roar of the mighty beast that was going to devour him in mere moments.  With Gallienus’ signal the gate was opened and out strode a mean, mightyTERRIFYING… chicken. As the chicken lunged from the opened gate the people of Rome laughed at the hoax.  Emperor Gallienus announced, “He has deceived and then was himself deceived.”


The merchant was allowed to return home, his only punishment being the laughing stock of Rome.



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peashooter85: Elagabalus – Roman Emperor, Inventor of the…



peashooter85:



Elagabalus – Roman Emperor, Inventor of the Whoopee Cushion.


The craziness of Roman Emperors is legendary in history, with nutty Romans such as Caligula and Nero coming to mind.  However, between 218 and 222 AD a little known and mostly overlooked emperor named Elagabalus ruled the empire.  Incredibly Elagabalus was only 14 when he was installed as Roman Emperor by his mother.  Like other emperors before him Elagabalus was not short on eccentricities.  Here is just a short list of some of his crazies.


1. Elagabalus was named after a Roman-Syrian sun deity.  When Elagabalus came to power, he tried to force all Romans to worship Elagabalus, with himself as chief priest of the new religion.


2. During games held at the Colosseum he would host a state lottery.  Prizes were given in the form of a secret box which could contain gold, jewelry, wine, fine clothing, a deed to a new house, or ownership of a slave.  However the boxes could have other less desirable prizes such as a dead dog, a piece of rotting meat, the severed head of criminal, a swarm of bees, or poisonous snakes.


3. Elagabalus was most likely a homosexual and transvestite.  While  accepted by many today transvestism was seen as taboo in the Roman world.  However, Elagabalus slept around with everyone, regardless of age or sex.  One of his favorite pastimes was to “play prostitute”, disguising himself and offering himself up for sex on the streets of Rome.  He would then return home and have one of his male lovers “punish” him for being naughty.


4. Elagabalus was a big time party animal, hosting banquets with over 400 dishes.


5. At one party he and his guests played a game where they ate live parrots.


Apparently Elagabalus was an incredible trickster, inventing outrageous scams and pranks to entertain or humiliate his guests.  One of them would go down as in history and preserve his legacy forever; the whoopee cushion.  According to the Historia Augusta, a collection of biographies on the Roman Emperors, he invented a type of whoopee cushion,


Many of his humbler friends he used to seat on air-pillows instead of cushions and would let out the air while they were dining, so that often the diners were suddenly found under the tables. Finally, he was the first to think of setting out a semi-circle on the ground, not on couches, so that the air-cushions might be loosened by slave-boys at their feet, to let out the air.


While Elagabalus was busy pranking and partying, his empire crumbled around him.  Whole units of the army and navy revolted and he was eventually ousted from power.  The Praetorian Guard, elite bodyguards of the emperor, grew tired of his shenanigans and had him killed in 222 AD at the age of 18.  


While Elagabalus has long been forgotten by most people today, his legacy lives on as the whoopee cushion is a common staple of modern day pranksterism.



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peashooter85: Ancient Roman Public Toilets, A simple row of…




peashooter85:



Ancient Roman Public Toilets,


A simple row of toilets.  Waste was carried away by constantly flowing water, which would then flow into a nearby river or ocean.  One of the most important feats of civilization is to be able to dispose of one’s poo without causing disease, and the Romans were experts in plumbing and public sanitation. 


Since the Ancient Romans did not have toilet paper, one would clean his or her posterior with a sponge on a stick, usually soaked in brine.  The moat of running water in front of the toilets was for cleaning the sponge stick after use.  A trough with water and sometimes scented oils was used for handwashing.


The Ancient Romans were not big on privacy.  In fact the potty time was also a time to socialize and catch up on gossip.



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Mucking In Lining the inside of our guts, intestinal…


Mucking In


Lining the inside of our guts, intestinal epithelial cells are exposed to any pathogens we might ingest. A layer of protective mucus, made up of proteins and antibodies, shields them from attack, yet the common food borne bacterium Salmonella enterica can still find a way through. Transmembrane mucins, proteins that lie across the membrane of epithelial cells, create an important barrier, but one of these, MUC1, can be hijacked by Salmonella. Recent research found that cells possessing MUC1 (pictured, with nuclei in blue, MUC1 in green), are much more vulnerable to invasion by Salmonella (in red) than cells without. Salmonella gains entry into epithelial cells thanks to the interaction between MUC1 and one of its own adhesins, surface proteins used by bacteria to attach themselves to potential hosts. Without this protein, named SiiE, Salmonella cannot invade cells through this route, suggesting that treatments targeting SiiE could block this pathway for infection.


Written by Emmanuelle Briolat



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2019 April 1 Astronaut Kicks Lunar Field Goal Image Credit:…


2019 April 1


Astronaut Kicks Lunar Field Goal
Image Credit: NASA, Apollo 15 Team


Explanation: Score three points for NASA. With time running out late in Apollo 15’s mission to the Moon in 1971, Astronaut David Scott prepared to split the uprights and bring about yet another dramatic end-of-the-mission victory for NASA. Scott used a special lunar football designed for the rugged games held on the Moon. R1-D1, a predecessor to R2-D2, cheered from the sideline. Happy April Fools’ Day from the folks at APOD. In reality, Astronaut Scott placed a drill that measured how temperature changed with lunar depth. The foreground device actually detected high-energy particles that escaped from the Sun.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190401.html


Map of pre-Corded Ware culture (>2900 BCE) instances of Y-haplogroup R1a

Below is a map showing the global distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a prior to the expansions of the R1a-rich Corded Ware culture (CWC) population and its many derivatives across Europe and Asia from around 2900 BCE. I’ll be updating this map regularly and using it to help me narrow down the options for the place of origin of R1a, and also to counter the misinformation about this topic that has appeared in print and online over the years, including in many scientific publications and popular websites such as Wikipedia.



Incredibly, as far as I know, there are just six reliably called instances of R1a in the now ample Eurasian ancient DNA record dating to the pre-CWC period. To put this into perspective, consider that R1a is today the most common Y-haplogroup in much of Europe and Asia. How did that happen I wonder? However, please note that I chose to base the map only on samples sequenced with the capture and shotgun methods, rather than the PCR method, which is susceptible to producing contaminated results and no longer used in major ancient DNA studies.
See also…
The beast among Y-haplogroups
The Poltavka outlier
Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but…

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Horseshoe Bend, Arizona…


Horseshoe Bend, Arizona http://www.geologypage.com/2019/03/horseshoe-bend-arizona.html


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