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November 21 2014

China’s 7,000-strong Terracotta Army all modelled on individual soldiers, 3D imaging reveals


When it was unearthed by a man digging a well in rural China almost exactly 40 years ago, the Terracotta Army took the world by storm to become one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time.

Now, four decades later, scientists have discovered the first evidence which they say could prove that each of the clay figures in the army is modelled on an individual, real soldier – offering an unprecedented insight into China’s earliest empire.

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November 21 2014

Electron Beam Points to Origins of Teotihuacan Stone Faces


Dramatic stone masks, iconic finds in the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan, were supposed to be made from a jadelike stone. Many researchers also thought the large faces were made on the site of the pre-Columbian metropolis. Instead, they seem to have been made in workshops a great distance to the south of the city. And they are made of softer stone like serpentinite and polished with quartz. Quartz does not appear around Teotihuacan, bolstering the notion that the masks were made far away. “Almost everything that has been written about the making of the Teotihuacan masks is untrue,” says Jane Walsh, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

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November 21 2014

Laser from a plane discovers Roman goldmines in Spain


Las Medulas in Leon is considered to be the largest opencast goldmine of the Roman Empire, but the search for this metal extended many kilometres further south-east to the Erica river valley.

Thanks to a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) laser system attached to an aircraft, the ancient mining works of the area and the complex hydraulics system used by the Romans in the 1st century BC to extract gold (including channels, reservoirs and a double river diversion) have been discovered.

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November 21 2014

Ancient Egyptian Handbook of Spells Deciphered


Researchers have deciphered an ancient Egyptian handbook, revealing a series of invocations and spells.

Among other things, the "Handbook of Ritual Power," as researchers call the book, tells readers how to cast love spells, exorcise evil spirits and treat "black jaundice," a bacterial infection that is still around today and can be fatal.

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November 21 2014

Archaeologists discover 5,000 year old hieroglyphics at ancient site 20m away from ISIS territory


A group of intrepid archaeologists are excavating a 5,000 year old ancient site on the Turkish-Syrian border within sight of the black flag of ISIS.

The Italian researchers are digging in the ancient city of Karkemish, which is close to the Syrian city of Jarablous - which is under the control of the feared terrorist organisation.

Archaeology Professor Nicolo Marchetti, of the University of Bologna said his team has been working as US and coalition aircraft screamed overhead on their way to targeting the Islamic extremists.

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November 21 2014

Archaeologists race against time to explore Neanderthal site


University of Southampton archaeologists are working to save important Palaeolithic remains at a rare Neanderthal site, before they are lost to the forces of nature.

The Baker's Hole site, at Ebbsfleet in Kent, is Britain's foremost location for evidence dating back to the time when Britain was being colonised by early Neanderthals, some 250,000 years ago.

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November 21 2014

Ancestor of horses and rhinos originated on the Asian subcontinent while it was still an island


Working at the edge of a coal mine in India, a team of Johns Hopkins researchers and colleagues have filled in a major gap in science's understanding of the evolution of a group of animals that includes horses and rhinos. That group likely originated on the subcontinent when it was still an island headed swiftly for collision with Asia, the researchers report Nov. 20 in the online journal Nature Communications.

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November 21 2014

Why lizards have bird breath: Iguanas evolved one-way lungs surprisingly like those of birds


Biologists long assumed that one-way air flow was a special adaptation in birds driven by the intense energy demands of flight. But now scientists have shown that bird-like breathing also developed in green iguanas – reptiles not known for high-capacity aerobic fitness. The finding bolsters the case that unidirectional bird-like flow evolved long before the first birds.

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November 21 2014

Dawn of farming sparked speed-evolution in weeds


IT DIDN'T take long. Just a few thousand years after humans began to domesticate crops, a wide variety of weeds had adapted to exploit the new farmlands – with some species seeming to have evolved, like crops, to be completely dependent on cultivated land.

But weed woes are nothing new. Ehud Weiss at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, and his colleagues studied ancient seeds, fruits and other plant remains recovered from Atlit-Yam, a 9000-year-old coastal settlement now submerged a few metres below the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.

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November 21 2014

Prehistoric farming on the ‘roof of the world’


Animal teeth, bones and plant remains have helped researchers from Cambridge, China and America to pinpoint a date for what could be the earliest sustained human habitation at high altitude.

Archaeological discoveries from the ‘roof of the world’ on the Tibetan Plateau indicate that from 3,600 years ago, crop growing and the raising of livestock was taking place year-round at hitherto unprecedented altitudes.

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November 21 2014

Climate capers of the past 600,000 years


If you want to see into the future, you have to understand the past. An international consortium of researchers under the auspices of the University of Bonn has drilled deposits on the bed of Lake Van (Eastern Turkey) which provide unique insights into the last 600,000 years.


Related: Erdogan says Muslims discovered Americas - "Turkish leader says Muslims, not Christopher Columbus, discovered continent in 1178, offering to build a mosque in Cuba."

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November 21 2014

A Comet Did It! Mystery of Giant Crater Solved


The origins of a massive 1.8 billion-year-old crater in Canada has been revealed

The Sudbury Basin, which is the world's second-largest impact crater, was likely formed by an enormous comet that battered Earth more than 1.8 billion years ago, new research suggests.

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November 21 2014

Sun's magnetic field boosts lightning strikes across the UK


The number of lightning strikes across the UK has been significantly affected by solar activity, according to new research.

Scientists say the Sun's magnetic field is bending the Earth's own field, increasing our exposure to cosmic rays.


Alt: Sun's rotating 'magnet' pulls lightning towards UK

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November 21 2014

New Theory Suggests Life Can Emerge On Planets Without Water


Astrobiologists like to argue about the various parameters required for planetary habitability, but one thing they tend to agree on is that water must be present. A new theory upends this assumption by suggesting that alien life could thrive on "supercritical carbon dioxide" instead.

When chemists talk about supercritical fluids (SCFs), they're describing fluids that have exceeded their temperature and pressure thresholds. Once you get past this "critical point," liquids and gases cannot co-exist.

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November 21 2014

Possible orphan black hole lies just 90 million light-years from Earth


An unusual object about 90 million light-years from Earth might be a supermassive black hole kicked out of its home galaxy during a collision with another galaxy, a new study suggests. If so, it’s the first evictee to be confirmed as such by astronomers. The object, dubbed SDSS1133, lies about 2600 light-years from the center of a dwarf galaxy known as Markarian 177.

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November 21 2014

Eerie alignment of black holes detected, suggesting underlying Dark Matter filament to the universe


THERE’S something odd about black holes. Not only do they twist the laws of physics into infinity, they’ve now been discovered to be eerily aligned.

Or at least it seems so. The science isn’t fully “in”. But what we have is highly tantalising.

And nobody knows why.


Related: Big Bang's Echo May Reveal Skeleton of the Universe

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November 20 2014

Dark Matter Murder Mystery: Is Weird Substance Destroying Neutron Stars?


The mysterious substance that makes up most of the matter in the universe may be destroying neutron stars by turning them into black holes in the center of the Milky Way, new research suggests.

If astronomers successfully detect a neutron star dying at the metaphorical hands of dark matter, such a finding could yield critical insights on the elusive properties of material, scientists added.

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