Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mexico: Ancient woman suggests diverse migration

Scientific reconstruction done on one of oldest sets of human remains in Americas

A scientific reconstruction of one of the oldest sets of human remains found in the Americas appears to support theories that the first people who came to the hemisphere migrated from a broader area than once thought, researchers say.

Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History on Thursday released photos of the reconstructed image of a woman who probably lived on Mexico's Caribbean coast 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. She peeks out of the picture as a short, spry-looking woman with slightly graying hair.

Anthropologists had long believed humans migrated to the Americas in a relatively short period from a limited area in northeast Asia across a temporary land corridor that opened across the Bering Strait during an ice age.

But government archaeologist Alejandro Terrazas says the picture has now become more complicated, because the reconstruction more resembles people from southeastern Asian areas like Indonesia.

"History isn't that simple," Terrazas said. "This indicates that the Americas were populated by several migratory movements, not just one or two waves from northern Asia across the Bering Strait."

Some outside experts caution that the evidence is not conclusive.

Ripan Malhi, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, said that "using facial reconstructions to assign ancestry to an individual is not as strong as using ancient DNA to assess the ancestry of the individual, because the environment can influence the traits of the face."


Stevenson, Mark. 2010. "Mexico: Ancient woman suggests diverse migration". MSNBC. Posted: July 23, 2010. Available online:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Footprint Fossils Analyzed for Ancient Human Gait

Out in the Kenyan desert, a trail of extremely old footprints are etched into sedimentary rock -- a memory of early humans and how they moved.

Created around 1.5 million years ago, these are the oldest footprints that look like those made by modern humans. A team of scientists, including Brian Richmond from George Washington University, discovered these precious fossilized prints in dried mud in 2009.

Now Richmond is working on comparing the gait and foot structure of modern humans to the collection of ancient footprints.

As Richmond told NPR in an interview about his work, these footprints provide rare insight into understanding the evolution of human locomotion.

These adaptations -- long legs and arches in our feet -- represent major differences between us and our distant primate relatives including gorillas, chimps and bonobos.

The development of specialized foot tendons, called spring tendons, paved the way for our wonderful arches. Spring tendons enhance the foot’s efficiency: some of the energy spent to drop one’s weight down when taking a step is actually stored and then returned to the leg as it rebounds.

Scientists believe that the ancient footprints were laid down by Homo erectus, a human ancestor that appeared around 1.8 million years ago. Unlike earlier ancestors, these hunted, made tools and even used fire. Homo erectus was also physically similar to modern humans with large brains and bodies.

By the looks of it, the fossilized foot impressions seem identical to the ones we make when walking across the sand. But how similar are they really? That is what Richmond and his science team want to find out.

Currently, the researches are documenting how people walk by placing reflective markers along the legs of their participants and then filming the volunteers walk in an indoor sandbox. The cameras focus on the reflectors, allowing the scientists to create computer animations of the walkers.

The next step (pardon the pun) is to analyze all the footprints with 3-D scans.

After repeating this process hundreds of times, the researchers will be able to conclusively say whether or not the prints are identical and thus shed light on just how recent our mechanisms for walking and running really are.

Hirji, Zahra. 2010. "Footprint Fossils Analyzed for Ancient Human Gait". Discovery News. Posted: July 22, 2010. Available online:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Extreme Archaeology: Divers Plumb the Mysteries of Sacred Maya Pools

Steering clear of crocodiles and navigating around massive submerged trees, a team of divers began mapping some of the 25 freshwater pools of Cara Blanca, Belize, which were important to the ancient Maya. In three weeks this May, the divers found fossilized animal remains, bits of pottery and -- in the largest pool explored -- an enormous underwater cave.

This project, led by University of Illinois anthropology professor Lisa Lucero and funded by the National Geographic Society and an Arnold O. Beckman Award, was the first of what Lucero hopes will be a series of dives into the pools of the southern Maya lowlands in central Belize. The divers will return this summer to assess whether archaeological excavation is even possible at the bottom of the pools, some of which are more than 60 meters deep.

"We don't know if it's going to be feasible to conduct archaeology 200 feet below the surface," Lucero said. "But they are going to try."

The Maya believed that openings in the earth, including caves and water-filled sinkholes, called cenotes (sen-OH-tays), were portals to the underworld, and often left offerings there. Ceremonial artifacts of the Maya have been found in pools and lakes in Mexico, but not yet in Belize.

Maya structures have been found near two of the eight pools the team surveyed.

"The pools with the most substantial and most obvious settlement at the edge also turn out to be the deepest that we know," Lucero said. The divers so far have explored eight of the 25 known pools of Cara Blanca.

The use of these pools at the end of the Late Classic period (roughly A.D. 800-900) corresponds to an enduring drought that deforested parts of Central America and -- some believe -- ultimately drove the Maya from the area.

The need for fresh water could have drawn the Maya to the pools, Lucero said. No vessels other than water jars were found in the structures built near the pools.

"They could have been making offerings to the rain god and other supernatural forces to bring an end to the drought," she said.

Patricia Beddows, one of the divers and a hydrologist and geochemist at Northwestern University, found that the chemistry of the water in each of the pools was distinct. She also found that the water in Pool 1, the pool with the huge cave and a Maya structure at its edge, held the freshest water of the pools surveyed. But the water contained a lot of soluble minerals, Lucero said, making it problematic for anyone who used it as their primary water supply. Those who drank the water over an extended period would have been at risk of developing kidney stones, she said.

The divers extracted core samples of the sediment at the bottoms of two of the pools. An analysis of the soil, debris and pollen in the cores will offer insight into the natural history of the cenotes and the surrounding region.

Lucero recruited expert cave exploration divers for the expedition. She provided food, lodging and other basics, but the divers donated their time and expertise. The dive team included Robbie Schmittner, Kim Davidsson (an independent cave dive instructor), Bil Phillips, and videographer Marty O'Farrell, who produced the video.

The research team also included archaeologist Andrew Kinkella, of Moorpark College. In Pool 1, Kinkella and diver Edward Mallon recovered ceramic jar shards in the wall of the pool just below the Maya structure.

Three more divers, Steve Bogaerts, James "Chip" Petersen and still photographer Tony Rath will join the project this summer.

Lucero has studied Maya settlements and sacred sites in Belize for more than 20 years, and works under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology, which is part of the National Institute of Culture and History, Government of Belize.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 2010. "Extreme Archaeology: Divers Plumb the Mysteries of Sacred Maya Pools". Science Daily. Posted: July 22, 2010. Available online:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peru archaeologists find hall for human sacrifice

The discovery appears to reinforce prevailing theories about a ceremony known as "the presentation" that was carried out by the Moche people, an agricultural civilization that flourished between 100 B.C. and 800 A.D.

Carlos Wester La Torre, director of the Bruning Museum in Peru and a leader of the dig, said the ceremonial site likely hosted ritual killings of prisoners of war.

Photographs taken at the site show more than half a dozen skeletons on the floor of the hall.

"There was a great ceremonial hall or passage integrated into the rest of the architecture that establishes the presence of certain figures of the Moche elite and also the practice of complex rituals such as human sacrifice," Wester told Reuters.

His team uncovered a 60-meter-long (197-foot-long) corridor opening up to face three equidistant porticos and five thrones on the archaeological site's main pyramid.

The remnants of a mural found within the corridor depict three high priests whose ornamentation confirms the involvement of the culture's political leadership in the ceremony, he said.

Peru is believed to be one of the places in the world where agriculture first developed and has hundreds of ancient archaeological sites, including the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.

Schmall, Emily. 2010. "Peru archaeologists find hall for human sacrifice". Reuters. Posted: July 22, 2010. Available online:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oldest dog debated

Fossil jaw may, or may not, come from oldest known example of man’s best friend

Every dog has its day, but that day took more than 14,000 years to dawn for one canine. A jaw fragment found in a Swiss cave comes from the earliest known dog, according to scientists who analyzed and radiocarbon-dated the fossil.

Dog origins remain poorly understood, however, and some researchers say that dog fossils much older than the Swiss find have already been excavated.

An upper-right jaw unearthed in 1873 in Kesslerloch Cave, located near Switzerland’s northern border with Germany, shows that domestic dogs lived there between 14,100 and 14,600 years ago, say archaeology graduate student Hannes Napierala and archaeozoologist Hans-Peter Uerpmann, study coauthors at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

“The Kesslerloch find clearly supports the idea that the dog was an established domestic animal at that time in central Europe,” Napierala says.

Researchers have also found roughly 14,000-year-old dog fossils among the remains of prehistoric people buried at Germany’s Bonn-Oberkassel site.

Older fossil skulls recently identified by other teams as dogs were probably Ice Age wolves, Napierala and Uerpmann argue in a paper published online July 19 in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. That includes a 31,700-year-old specimen discovered more than a century ago in Belgium’s Goyet Cave and reported in 2009 to be the oldest known dog.

Paleontologist Mietje Germonpré of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, who directed the analysis of the Goyet fossil, stands by his conclusions. “The Kesslerloch dog is not the oldest evidence of dog domestication,” he says.

Numerous wolf fossils lie near alleged dog remains at Kesslerloch Cave and Goyet Cave, raising doubts about whether either site hosted completely domesticated animals, remarks archaeologist Susan Crockford of the University of Victoria in British Columbia. She regards the Swiss jaw as an “incipient dog” in the early stages of domestication from wolves.

Scientists disagree about how and when dogs originated, other than that wolves provided the wild stock from which dogs were bred. One investigation of genetic diversity in modern dogs and wolves concluded that domestication occurred in southeastern Asia, whereas another placed canine origins in Eastern Europe or the Middle East (SN: 4/10/10, p. 12).

Napierala and Uerpmann suspect that, however the DNA studies pan out, they will show where wolves originated, not dogs. In their view, dogs were domesticated from local wolf populations in various parts of Europe, Asia and perhaps northern Africa sometime before 15,000 years ago.

The Kesslerloch dog jaw and its remaining teeth are considerably smaller than those of wolves recovered from the same site, the scientists say. A space between two of the fossil dog’s teeth indicates that domestication must have reached an advanced phase at that time, they argue. During initial stages of domestication, jaws shrink in size faster than teeth, producing dental crowding. Later in the domestication process, teeth get small enough to leave spaces.

Canine fossils from Goyet and several other sites older than Kesslerloch Cave fall within the size ranges of modern and ancient wolves, Napierala adds. Relatively short, robust snouts on the older fossils, initially cited as evidence of domestication, may denote an adaptation of wolves to hunting large Ice Age game, he holds.

Ancient dogs had shorter, broader snouts, wider mouths and wider brain cases than wolves, responds Germonpré. Brain studies indicate that dogs’ retinas became reorganized to focus on the central visual field, perhaps to assist in tracking human faces, at the same time that selective breeding produced shorter noses, he says.

Dogs older than the one at Kesslerloch Cave were relatively large, although not as large as wolves, Germonpré argues. Those dogs have been unearthed at sites that have yielded huge numbers of mammoth bones. People living in those areas may have used dogs to haul mammoth meat from kill areas and as sentinels, he proposes.

Napierala and Germonpré agree that a resolution of this debate demands the dogged pursuit of additional canine fossils.


Bower, Bruce. 2010. "Oldest dog debated". Science News. Posted: July 22, 2010. Available online:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pre-Inca Remains Found in Peru

Peruvian researchers uncovered bones of a tribal leader and a child that date back more than 1,200 years.

Peruvian archaeologists have found remains from a person believed to be a leader of a key pre-Inca civilization that is more than 1,200 years old, one of the researchers said.

Carlos Elera told AFP the remains from the northern region of Lambayeque are from what some call the Sican culture that flourished in the area between around 700 and 1375 AD.

He said among the remains found two weeks ago in the archaeological complex Las Ventanas is a type of sarcophagus for an adult with a headdress and a feathered eye mask, which are "characteristic of the nobles of the Sican culture."

The researcher also said that objects found included a ceremonial knife, ceramics, textiles with copper plates.

Elera reported that since April when the research began at Las Ventanas, the remains of about 20 people have been found in good condition.

Among them were remains of a child of three to four years old believed to be from between 1100 and 1150 AD.

Sican culture emerged around the years 700-750 AD and remained in force until 1375, recording its apogee stage between 900 and 1100.

Researchers believe the culture flourished for around 200 years under seven to eight "lords of Sican" and then vanished after the Chimu conquest of the Lambayeque region around 1375 AD, a group that also preceded the Incas.

2010. "Pre-Inca Remains Found in Peru". Discovery News. Posted: July 21, 2010. Available online:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Disease Genes That Followed the Silk Road Identified

Researchers with the National Institutes of Health have found susceptibility to Behcet's disease, a painful, inflammatory condition, to be associated with genes involved in the body's immune response.

Although the Greek physician Hippocrates described Behcet's disease (pronounced BET'-chet's), more than 2,000 years ago, the condition existed in relative obscurity until the early 20th century. Named for the Turkish physician who first classified it in 1937, Behcet's disease is found almost exclusively in populations with origins along the Silk Road, a trading route that stretched from Europe to the Far East. Marco Polo was among the most famous travelers along the Silk Road.

This distinctive distribution led researchers to suspect that the disease has a hereditary component, though they determined that a definitive genetic cause is unlikely due to the complexity of disease inheritance. Further investigation of the interleukin 10 (IL10) gene associated with immune response, showed that people with two copies of the Behcet's disease IL10 gene produced significantly lower levels of IL-10 protein than people with only one or no IL10 disease gene. The findings appear online in the current issue of the journal Nature Genetics.

Today, despite advances in genetics and genomics research, the diagnosis of Behcet's disease is still determined by the clinical picture, characterized by painful ulcers affecting the mouth and genitals and inflammation of the skin and eyes. Recurrent inflammatory attacks affecting the eyes may result in permanent loss of vision, and inflammation of the brain and large blood vessels may be associated with increased mortality. In addition, treatments for the disease target individual symptoms rather than addressing an underlying mechanism.

In the current study, the NIH researchers from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), in collaboration with Professor Ahmet Gul's group at Istanbul University, have performed the first large genome-wide association study (GWAS) of Behcet's disease in a Turkish population. They looked at the genomes of more than 1,200 Behcet's patients and 1,200 people without the disease in an effort to identify places where the two groups differed. These places, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), could point to genes that are associated with the disorder. Both groups of people were from Turkey, which has the highest prevalence rate for the disease, 4 cases per 1,000 individuals. Previous genetic studies have shown a strong association of Behcet's disease to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a section of the genome on chromosome 6 containing a large number of immune-related genes. The highest association is with the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B51 region of the MHC. However, since it accounts for less than 20 percent of the disease's genetic risk, other genetic factors must be involved.

"We knew that Behcet's disease had a strong genetic component, but until now, we haven't been able to search the entire genome to identify hidden candidate genes," said Elaine F. Remmers, Ph.D., an investigator in the NIAMS Laboratory of Clinical Investigation and lead author of the study. "With the GWAS, we were able to zero in on promising SNPs and then perform more extensive examinations of these regions."

In addition to conducting their own GWAS, the NIAMS group exchanged data with an independent group of investigators that concurrently performed a large GWAS for Behcet's disease in a Japanese population. This study's paper also appears online in Nature Genetics. After identifying several possible targets, the NIAMS researchers performed a meta-analysis of genetic data from six independent cohorts, which included populations from Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

The researchers had several significant findings. They reconfirmed a strong association of Behcet's disease with the HLA-B51 region of the MHC and identified an independent association area within the MHC. The researchers also identified associations on chromosome 1 with a known variant of the IL10 gene and with a variant located between the genes for the IL-23 receptor (IL23R) and a component of the IL-12 receptor (IL12RB2). Interestingly, the genetic variants found to be associated with Behcet's disease in the Turkish population were identical to those independently identified in the Japanese population, lending credence to a genetic link between two disparate populations separated by thousands of miles, but tied together by the ancient trading route.

The most encouraging finding resulted from an analysis of the function of the IL10 gene variant. They found that cells from blood donors who had two copies of the IL10 gene variant produced significantly lower levels (approximately one-third) of IL-10 protein compared to people with one or two normal IL10 genes. Since the function of IL-10 is to decrease inflammation, the researchers suggest that low levels of IL-10 protein, in conjunction with external triggers, might be a risk factor for Behcet's disease. Additionally, IL10 has an extensive disease history, with different variants of IL10 having been associated with other autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases, including ulcerative colitis, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, and severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. These findings suggest that there may be possible therapeutic targets that can be examined in future studies.

More information about Behcet's disease can be found at:

Science Daily. 2010. "Disease Genes That Followed the Silk Road Identified". Science Daily. Posted: July 12, 2010. Available online:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wooden "Stonehenge" Emerges From Prehistoric Ohio

Just northeast of Cincinnati, Ohio, a sort of wooden Stonehenge is slowly emerging as archaeologists unearth increasing evidence of a 2,000-year-old ceremonial site.

Among their latest finds: Like Stonehenge, the Ohio timber circles were likely used to mark astronomical events such as the summer solstice.

Formally called Moorehead Circle but nicknamed "Woodhenge" by non-archaeologists, the site was once a leafless forest of wooden posts. Laid out in a peculiar pattern of concentric, but incomplete, rings, the site is about 200 feet (57 meters) wide.

Today only rock-filled postholes remain, surrounded by the enigmatic earthworks of Fort Ancient State Memorial. Some are thousands of feet long and all were built by Indians of the pre-agricultural Hopewell culture, the dominant culture in midwestern and eastern North America from about A.D. 1 to 900.

This year archaeologists began using computer models to analyze Moorehead Circle's layout and found that Ohio's Woodhenge may have even more in common with the United Kingdom's Stonehenge than thought—specifically, an apparently intentional astronomical alignment.

The software "allows us to stitch together various kinds of geographical data, including aerial photographs and excavation plans and even digital photographs," explained excavation leader Robert Riordan, an archaeologist at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

The researchers had known, for example, that an opening in the rings; a nearby, human-made enclosure; stone mounds; and a gateway in a nearby earthen wall are all aligned.

But the model revealed that the alignment is such that, during the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice—the longest day of the year—the sun appears to rise in the gateway, as seen from the center of the circle, Riordan said.

In much the same way, and on the same day, the sun appears to rise alongside Stonehenge's outlying Heel Stone, casting a beam on the monument's central altar.

Trench Mystery at Woodhenge

Park officials using ground-penetrating technologies discovered the first holes at Moorehead Circle in 2005. Since then, Riordan's team's excavations have revealed hundreds more.

About 10 inches (30 centimeters) across and up to three feet (one meter) deep, the holes are thought to have held posts made from stripped oaks, hickories, and other local trees, Riordan said.

Each post probably stood about 10 to 13 feet (3 to 4 meters) above ground, and some were spaced only a few inches apart.

At the center of the innermost circle is a patch of cleared earth filled with reddish, burned soil and hundreds of broken pottery fragments.

In 2007 Riordan and his team discovered a series of trenches filled with ash and clay and capped with gravel and soil.

The trenches' layout mimics the pattern of the long-gone posts. And as with the posts, Riordan said, "We have no idea what [the trenches] were built for."

An Elaborate Construction

For the ancient Ohioans, constructing Moorehead Circle would have been a significant undertaking.

"They would have had to dig these holes, go get the trees, cut them, strip them, and carry them in," Riordan said.

Workers would have had to carry limestone rocks from about a mile (1.6 kilometers) away and up a 250-foot (76-meter) hill. The rocks would have then been broken up and placed in the pits to help keep the posts upright.

Not even digging the postholes would have been easy. Lacking shovels or picks, the Hopewell people dug with bones and sharpened pieces of wood.

And for all their work, the circle's creators must have known their monument wasn't built to last. After about ten years the wooden posts would have been largely rotted and ripe for replacement, Riordan said.

"This was an elaborate construction," he added. "All the effort that went into constructing it suggests it was the ceremonial focus of Fort Ancient for a time."

2010. "Wooden "Stonehenge" Emerges From Prehistoric Ohio". National Geographic News. Posted: Available online:

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Lost" Languages to Be Resurrected by Computers?

A new computer program has quickly deciphered a written language last used in Biblical times—possibly opening the door to "resurrecting" ancient texts that are no longer understood, scientists announced last week.

Created by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the program automatically translates written Ugaritic, which consists of dots and wedge-shaped stylus marks on clay tablets. The script was last used around 1200 B.C. in western Syria.

Written examples of this "lost language" were discovered by archaeologists excavating the port city of Ugarit in the late 1920s. It took until 1932 for language specialists to decode the writing. Since then, the script has helped shed light on ancient Israelite culture and Biblical texts.

(Related: "Oldest Hebrew Text Is Evidence for Bible Stories?")

Using no more computing power than that of a high-end laptop, the new program compared symbol and word frequencies and patterns in Ugaritic with those of a known language, in this case, the closely related Hebrew.

Through repeated analysis, the program linked letters and words to map nearly all Ugaritic symbols to their Hebrew equivalents in a matter of hours.

The program also correctly identified Ugaritic and Hebrew words with shared roots 60 percent of the time. Shared roots are when words in different languages spring from the same source, such as the French homme and Spanish hombre, which share the Latin root for "man."

The team may be the first to show that a computer approach to dead scripts can be effective, despite claims that machines lack the necessary intuition.

"Traditionally, decipherment has been viewed as a sort of scholarly detective game, and computers weren't thought to be of much use," study co-author and MIT computer science professor Regina Barzilay said in an email.

"Our aim is to bring to bear the full power of modern machine learning and statistics to this problem."

Not Always a "Rosetta Stone"

The next step should be to see whether the program can help crack the handful of ancient scripts that remain largely incomprehensible.

Etruscan, for example, is a script that was used in northern and central Italy around 700 B.C. but was displaced by Latin by about A.D. 100. Few written examples of Etruscan survive, and the language has no known relations, so it continues to baffle archaeologists.

"In the case [of Ugaritic], you're dealing with a small and simple writing system, and there are closely related languages," noted Richard Sproat, an Oregon Health and Science University computational linguist who was not involved in the new work.

"It's not always going to be the case that there are closely related languages that one can use" for Rosetta Stone-like comparisons.

But study co-author Barzilay and her colleague, Benjamin Snyder, think the decoding program can overcome this hurdle by scanning multiple languages at once and taking contextual information into account—improvements that could uncover unexpected similarities or links to known languages.

A paper describing the new computer program was presented last week at the 48th annual meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Uppsala, Sweden.

Hornyak, Tim. 2010. ""Lost" Languages to Be Resurrected by Computers?" National Geographic News. Posted: July 19, 2010. Available online:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Extinct," Pop-Eyed Primate Photographed for First Time

Fewer than a hundred Horton Plains slender lorises thought to survive.
Long thought to be extinct, one of the world's rarest primates has been caught on camera for the first time, scientists announced Monday.

Discovered in 1937 but "missing" for 60 years, Sri Lanka's Horton Plains slender loris was presumed to have died out. In 2002 a fleeting nighttime sighting of something looking like the elusive tree-dweller, however, gave conservationists hope.

Follow-up surveys led by the Zoological Society of London finally confirmed the lorises are alive—if not exactly well—in 2009, when two individuals were photographed and examined.

Initial estimates after the rediscovery put the total world population at fewer than a hundred, said the society's conservation biologist Craig Turner. And in this case, the world is limited to high cloud forests in the Horton Plains area (map) of central Sri Lanka—the animal's only known habitat.

"Potentially this is the rarest primate we're aware of today," Turner said.

Lonely Lorises

About 8 inches (20 centimeters) long and weighing just 11 ounces (310 grams), the slow-moving loris has been doomed as forests have been felled for firewood and to make way for tea plantations and other farms, Turner said.

"There's no means for these lorises to move between the [remaining] forest patches," Turner said. "In terms of breeding and finding mates, it is very difficult for them." (See a satellite picture of Horton Plains' forests.)

"The real focus now has to be on the remaining forest areas and looking at how we can enhance and protect them, and also reconnect them to one another," he added.

"New" Loris Also New Species?

The Horton Plains slender loris is generally classified as a subspecies of Sri Lanka's red slender loris. But, thanks in part to the first ever pictures, researchers now believe the "extinct" loris could be a whole new species.

"It's clearly very different physically," Turner said. Compared to lowland lorises, the Horton Plains loris is "stockier, shorter limbed—and it's got a much longer fur coat."

Ongoing tests on DNA samples taken from the few individuals recorded to date, he added, should help to settle the issue.

Owen, James. 2010. ""Extinct," Pop-Eyed Primate Photographed for First Time". National Geographic News. Posted: July 19, 2010. Available online:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Medici Family Cold Case Finally Solved

Malaria, not murder, was responsible for the deaths of two members of the clan that dominated the Florentine Renaissance.

Scientists who exhumed the remains of several members of the Medicis, the clan that dominated the Florentine Renaissance, have conclusively dismissed the theory of family murders, solving a more than 400-year-old cold case.

Malaria, not poison as long rumored, killed Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his second wife, Bianca Cappello, according to research to be published in Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The couple died a few hours apart in October 1587 after 11 days of agony. Their almost simultaneous deaths led to speculation that they had been murdered.

"It appears it wasn't poison. We carried an immunologic investigation and found evidence of the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum. ... We are talking of the most deadly of the Plasmodium species that cause malaria," Gino Fornaciari, professor of forensic anthropology and director of the Pathology Museum at the University of Pisa, told Discovery News.

The founder of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and a patron of the arts and sciences, Francesco (1541-1587) was more interested in alchemical experiments than dedicating himself to statecraft.

When his wife, Joan of Austria -- the ugly daughter of Ferdinand of Habsburg -- died, Francesco married his beautiful, long-time mistress Bianca Cappello (1548-1587). She lived only one day longer than he.

Although the original death certificates attributed the couple's demise to tertian malarial fever, rumors soon spread that Francesco's brother, Cardinal Ferdinando (1549-1609), had a hand in the their deaths. It was said that Ferdinando, who was at risk of being excluded from the succession, never tolerated the presence of the new Grand Duchess at the Medici court.

The rumors were further fueled by the fact that Francesco and Bianca fell ill a couple of weeks after Ferdinando came to the villa at Poggio a Caiano, near Florence, where the couple lived.

With Francesco's death, Ferdinando became Grand Duke -- the last great Grand Duke of the Medici dynasty.

"He ruled with great skill and was the real beginner of a very rational trend in the government of Tuscany," Cristina Acidini, superintendent of Florence museums, told Discovery News.

A supporter of the arts, Ferdinando bolstered commercial and industrial activity, and arranged a series of strategic weddings in the family.

However, the controversial death of his brother remained a shadow over Ferdinando's legacy.

Ferdinando should be fully exonerated, according to Fornaciari, who in 2006 questioned the results of a toxicological study that pointed to arsenic poisoning as the cause of Francesco's death.

"I believe that the high arsenic concentrations found by the researchers were due to the frequent use of arsenic mixtures in embalming. Francesco died of pernicious malaria," Fornaciari said.

Fornaciari and colleagues detected Plasmodium falciparum's histidine-rich protein 2 in spongy bone samples belonging to Francesco, whose skeletal remains were unearthed from the Medici Chapels in Florence in 2004. Analysis could not be conducted on Bianca's remains since her burial site remains unknown.

The researchers used bones of Cosimo I de' Medici, Francesco's father who died of pneumonia, and Joan of Austria, Francesco's first wife who died in childbirth after producing her seventh child, as control samples.

As expected, Cosimo's and Joan's bones were all negative.

This study marks the first time that this immunological technique has been used to detect ancient P. falciparum proteins in bone samples.

"Muscle has been considered the best tissue for the detection of P. falciparum malaria because of its abundant red cell content," anthropologist Raffaella Bianucci, at the department of Anatomy, Pharmacology and Legal Medicine of Turin University, told Discovery News.

"Obtaining a positive result in bone samples is important because it opens new possibilities to test ancient skeletons," said Bianucci, who identified the traces of the parasite in Francesco's bones.

Lorenzi, Rossella. 2010. "Medici Family Cold Case Finally Solved". Discovery News. Posted: July 14, 2010. Available online:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Person's Language May Influence How He Thinks About Other People

The language a person speaks may influence their thoughts, according to a new study on Israeli Arabs who speak both Arabic and Hebrew fluently. The study found that Israeli Arabs' positive associations with their own people are weaker when they are tested in Hebrew than when they are tested in Arabic.

The vast majority of Arab Israelis speak Arabic at home and usually start learning Hebrew in elementary school. The subjects in this study were Arab Israelis, fluent in both Hebrew and Arabic, who were students at Hebrew-speaking universities and colleges. Researchers Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University and Robert Ward of Bangor University took advantage of the tensions between Arabs and Israelis to design an experiment that looked at how the students think differently in Arabic and Hebrew. Their hypothesis: "It's likely that a bilingual Arab Israeli will consider Arabs more positively in an Arab speaking environment than a Hebrew speaking environment," says Danziger.

The study used a computer test known as the Implicit Association Test, which is often used to study bias. Words flash on the computer screen, and subjects have to categorize them by pressing two keys on the keyboard as quickly as possible. It's a nearly automatic task, with no time to think about the answers. The trick is, the subjects are classifying two different kinds of words: words describing positive and negative traits and, in this case, names - Arab names like Ahmed and Samir and Jewish names like Avi and Ronen. For example, they might be told to press "M" when they saw an Arab name or a word with a good meaning, or "X" when they saw a Jewish name and a word with a bad meaning. In this example, if people automatically associate "good" words with Arabs and "bad" with Jews, they'll be able to do the classifications faster than if their automatic association between the words is the other way around. In different sections of the test, different sets of words are paired.

For this study, the bilingual Arab Israelis took the implicit association test in both languages – Hebrew and Arabic – to see if the language they were using affected their biases about the names. The Arab Israeli volunteers found it easier to associate Arab names with "good" trait words and Jewish names with "bad" trait words than Arab names with "bad" trait words and Jewish names with "good" trait words. But this effect was much stronger when the test was given in Arabic; in the Hebrew session, they showed less of a positive bias toward Arab names over Jewish names. "The language we speak can change the way we think about other people," says Ward. The results are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Danziger himself learned both Hebrew and English as a child. "I am a bilingual and I believe that I actually respond differently in Hebrew than I do in English. I think in English I'm more polite than I am in Hebrew," he says. "People can exhibit different types of selves in different environments. This suggests that language can serve as a cue to bring forward different selves."

Association for Psychological Science. 2010. "A Person's Language May Influence How He Thinks About Other People". Association for Psychological Science. Posted: July 12, 2010. Available online:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Roads of Arabia - Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Three hundred works reveal the archaeology and the history of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia from prehistoric times to the dawn of the modern world.

This exhibition offers a journey through the heart of Arabia, orchestrated by photographs of the region's sumptuous landscapes. It takes the form of a series of stopovers in some of the peninsula's extensive oases, which in ancient times were home to powerful states or which, beginning in the 7th century, became Islamic holy places. The three hundred items chosen, most of which have never left their country of origin before, provide an original panorama of the different cultures that succeeded each other within the kingdom of Saudi Arabia from prehistoric times through the dawn of the modern world.

They reveal in particular the little-known past of a dazzling, prosperous Arabic world now being gradually discovered by archaeologists. Moving Neolithic funerary stelae, colossal statues of the kings of Lihyan (6th – 4th century BC), and silver tableware and precious jewelry placed in tombs testify to the dynamism of this civilization. Despite a hostile natural environment, the inhabitants succeeded in taking advantage of their country's geographical situation as a crossing point for the roads linking the shores of the Indian Ocean and the horn of Africa to Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Mediterranean world. Early in the first millennium BC this trans-Arabian trade flourished, bringing prosperity to the caravan cities and permeating the local culture with new fashions and ideas from the great neighboring empires.

The second section of the exhibition highlights the role of Arabia as the cradle of Islam. The roads became crowded with pilgrims as well as traders; a first group of exhibits evokes the pilgrim paths and Al-Rabadha, one of the principal stopping-places. Following this road as far as Mecca, a second group comprises a selection of funerary stelae illustrating the evolution of writing and ornamentation between the 10th and 16th century and providing precious information on Meccan society at the time. Muslim sovereigns vied with each other in their generosity towards holy places, with buildings and such ventures into embellishment as this monumental door from the Ka’ba, the gift of an Ottoman sultan.

Louvre. 2010. "Roads of Arabia - Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia". Louvre. Posted: July 13, 2010. Available online:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oldest written text found in al-Quds

Excavations have unveiled a tiny clay tablet, which archeologists say bears the oldest written document ever found in al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The fragment was found in the Ophel area, located between the southern wall of the Old City of al-Quds and the City of David to its south.

The 2-centimeter-long fragment dates back to the 14th century BCE and is believed to be part of a tablet from the royal archives.

According to head of the excavation team Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, the partial text is an ancient form of Acadian wedge script and includes the words 'you,' 'them,' and 'later.'

The newly found tablet predates the next-oldest written record found in al-Quds by about 600 years, AP reported.

The previously found tablet, now housed in an Istanbul museum, was discovered in the Shiloah water tunnel built during King Hezekiah's reign in the 8th century BCE and celebrates the completion of the tunnel.

Press TV. 2010. "Oldest written text found in al-Quds". Press TV. Posted: July 13, 2010. Available online:§ionid=3510212

Saturday, July 17, 2010

North America's First Peoples More Genetically Diverse Than Thought, Mitochondrial Genome Analysis Reveals

he initial peopling of North America from Asia occurred approximately 15,000-18,000 years ago. However, estimations of the genetic diversity of the first settlers have remained inaccurate. In a report published online in Genome Research, researchers have found that the diversity of the first Americans has been significantly underestimated, underscoring the importance of comprehensive sampling for accurate analysis of human migrations.

Substantial evidence suggests that humans first crossed into North America from Asia over a land bridge called Beringia, connecting eastern Siberia and Alaska. Genetic studies have shed light on the initial lineages that entered North America, distinguishing the earliest Native American groups from those that arrived later. However, a clear picture of the number of initial migratory events and routes has been elusive due to incomplete analysis.

In this work, an international group of researchers coordinated by Antonio Torroni of the University of Pavia in Italy performed a detailed mitochondrial genome analysis of a poorly characterized lineage known as C1d. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down through the maternal lineage, and mtDNA sequence markers are extremely useful tools for mapping ancestry. Similar to other haplogroups that were among the first to arrive in North America, C1d is distributed throughout the continent, suggesting that it may have been also present in the initial founding populations. However, C1d has not been well represented in previous genetic analyses, and the estimated age of approximately 7,000 years, much younger than the other founding haplogroups, was likely inaccurate.

To resolve these inconsistent lines of evidence, the group sequenced and analyzed 63 C1d mtDNA genomes from throughout the Americas. This high-resolution study not only confirmed that C1d was one of the founding lineages in North America 15,000 to 18,000 years ago, but revealed another critical insight. "These first female American founders carried not one but two different C1d genomes," said Ugo Perego of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and primary author of the study, "thus further increasing the number of recognized maternal lineages from Beringia."

These findings raise the number of founding maternal lineages in North America to fifteen. Furthermore, this work emphasizes the critical need for comprehensive analysis of relevant populations to gather a complete picture of migratory events.

Alessandro Achilli of the University of Perugia, a coauthor of the report, suggests that the number of distinct mitochondrial genomes that passed from Asian into North America is probably much higher. "These yet undiscovered maternal lineages will be identified within the next three to four years," Achilli noted, "when the methodological approach that we used in our study will be systematically applied."

Scientists from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (Salt Lake City, UT), the University of Pavia (Pavia, Italy), the University of Perugia (Perugia, Italy), the University of Santiago de Compostela, (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), Innsbruck Medical University (Innsbruck, Austria), and the University of Beunos Aries (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

This work was supported by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Fundación de Investigación Médica Mutua Madrileña, the FWF Austrian Science Fund, Progetti Ricerca Interesse Nazionale (Italian Ministry of the University), and Fondazione Alma Mater Ticinensis.

Science Daily. 2010. "North America's First Peoples More Genetically Diverse Than Thought, Mitochondrial Genome Analysis Reveals". Science Daily. Posted: June 29, 2010. Available online:

Journal Reference:

Perego UA, Angerhofer N, Pala M, Olivieri A, Lancioni H, Hooshiar Kashani B, Carossa V, Ekins JE, Gómez-Carballa A, Huber G, Zimmermann B, Corach D, Babudri N, Panara F, Myres NM, Parson W, Semino O, Salas A, Woodward SR, Achilli A, Torroni A. The initial peopling of the Americas: A growing number of founding mitochondrial genomes from Beringia. Genome Research, 2010; DOI: 10.1101/gr.109231.110

Friday, July 16, 2010

Science Historian Cracks the 'Plato Code'

Plato was the Einstein of Greece's Golden Age and his work founded Western culture and science. Dr Jay Kennedy's findings are set to revolutionise the history of the origins of Western thought.

Dr Kennedy, whose findings are published in the leading US journal Apeiron, reveals that Plato used a regular pattern of symbols, inherited from the ancient followers of Pythagoras, to give his books a musical structure. A century earlier, Pythagoras had declared that the planets and stars made an inaudible music, a 'harmony of the spheres'. Plato imitated this hidden music in his books.

The hidden codes show that Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton, discovering its most important idea -- the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. The decoded messages also open up a surprising way to unite science and religion. The awe and beauty we feel in nature, Plato says, shows that it is divine; discovering the scientific order of nature is getting closer to God. This could transform today's culture wars between science and religion.

"Plato's books played a major role in founding Western culture but they are mysterious and end in riddles," Dr Kennedy, at Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences explains.

"In antiquity, many of his followers said the books contained hidden layers of meaning and secret codes, but this was rejected by modern scholars.

"It is a long and exciting story, but basically I cracked the code. I have shown rigorously that the books do contain codes and symbols and that unraveling them reveals the hidden philosophy of Plato.

"This is a true discovery, not simply reinterpretation."

This will transform the early history of Western thought, and especially the histories of ancient science, mathematics, music, and philosophy.

Dr Kennedy spent five years studying Plato's writing and found that in his best-known work the Republic he placed clusters of words related to music after each twelfth of the text -- at one-twelfth, two-twelfths, etc. This regular pattern represented the twelve notes of a Greek musical scale. Some notes were harmonic, others dissonant. At the locations of the harmonic notes he described sounds associated with love or laughter, while the locations of dissonant notes were marked with screeching sounds or war or death. This musical code was key to cracking Plato's entire symbolic system.

Dr Kennedy, a researcher in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, says: "As we read his books, our emotions follow the ups and downs of a musical scale. Plato plays his readers like musical instruments."

However Plato did not design his secret patterns purely for pleasure -- it was for his own safety. Plato's ideas were a dangerous threat to Greek religion. He said that mathematical laws and not the gods controlled the universe. Plato's own teacher had been executed for heresy. Secrecy was normal in ancient times, especially for esoteric and religious knowledge, but for Plato it was a matter of life and death. Encoding his ideas in secret patterns was the only way to be safe.

Plato led a dramatic and fascinating life. Born four centuries before Christ, when Sparta defeated plague-ravaged Athens, he wrote 30 books and founded the world's first university, called the Academy. He was a feminist, allowing women to study at the Academy, the first great defender of romantic love (as opposed to marriages arranged for political or financial reasons) and defended homosexuality in his books. In addition, he was captured by pirates and sold into slavery before being ransomed by friends.

Dr Kennedy explains: "Plato's importance cannot be overstated. He shifted humanity from a warrior society to a wisdom society. Today our heroes are Einstein and Shakespeare -- and not knights in shining armour -- because of him."

Over the years Dr Kennedy carefully peeled back layer after symbolic layer, sharing each step in lectures in Manchester and with experts in the UK and US.

He recalls: "There was no Rosetta Stone. To announce a result like this I needed rigorous, independent proofs based on crystal-clear evidence.

"The result was amazing -- it was like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself.

"Plato is smiling. He sent us a time capsule."

Dr Kennedy's findings are not only surprising and important; they overthrow conventional wisdom on Plato. Modern historians have always denied that there were codes; now Dr Kennedy has proved otherwise.

He adds: "This is the beginning of something big. It will take a generation to work out the implications. All 2,000 pages contain undetected symbols."

Science Daily. 2010. "Science Historian Cracks the 'Plato Code'". Science Daily. Posted: June 29, 2010. Available online:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'Mummies of the World' on display

The largest exhibition ever assembled of mummies has opened in Los Angeles.

Mummies of the World features a never-before-seen collection of 150 human and animal mummies and related artifacts from five continents.

As well as displaying the mummies, which have been donated by museums in Europe, the exhibition highlights the work done using modern scientific techniques to date and analyze the human and animal remains.

"We showcase the current methodology using CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, other types of techniques that allow a scientist to investigate mummies without damaging them and finding out new things about past environments, people and civilizations," says Dr Diane Perlov, senior vice president for exhibits at the California Science Centre.

The concept of the exhibition started in Germany in 2004, with the re-discovery of 20 specimens within the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums of Mannheim.

The project grew when 21 museums around Europe agreed to loan specimens for the collection.

"As a condition of the loan, they're all going be analysed, which is wonderful," says Dr Perlov.

Before being returned to their home museums, the mummies will all be examined using DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating, mass spectrometry and other techniques.

Last week one of the specimens, the remains of Michael Orlovits, who was born in 1765 and was discovered in a church crypt in Hungary, in 1994, had a CT scan at the well-known Cedars Sinai medical centre in Los Angeles.

The hospital donated its experts and equipment for the project. The mummy was among a group of specimens preserved by the cool, dry air of the crypt and the oil from the pine boards used to build their coffins.

Using DNA analysis, researchers discovered that Michael's wife, who was also in the crypt, had suffered from severe tuberculosis.

Information gleaned from present day scientific analysis of mummies is also assisting medical research.

"Mummies are not just pieces of the past - they're actually an insight into the future as well," explains Dr Heather Gill-Frerking, the scientific research curator for the German Mummy Project.

"By studying things like the DNA, by studying the development of disease, by studying the progress of movement within populations, we get a sense of where we're going in the future, not just where we've been."

In particular, the researchers hope to shed light on the complex history of tuberculosis through the analysis of mummies.

"We're able to explore tuberculosis in several ancient populations, and so by studying the pathogen DNA over time, we've been able to look at how the strain has developed," says Dr Gill Frerking.

Now with the resurgence of tuberculosis and drug resistant tuberculosis in modern populations, we can trace the evolution of the disease and perhaps find better ways to treat it."

Other mummies in the collection include:

* The Detmold Child - a preserved Peruvian child mummy, radiocarbon dated to 4504-4457BC - about 3,000 years before the birth of King Tut.
* Baron von Holz - a 17th century nobleman believed to have died in or near Sommersdorf, Germany, during the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), who was discovered in the family crypt of a 14th century castle still wearing his boots.
* An Egyptian cat mummy wrapped in painted linen bandaging, which dates to the Ptolemaic period (from 323- 30BC) and shows how Egyptian cats were sometimes intentionally preserved to accompany royals into the afterlife.

'Into the afterlife'

Mummification is a rare phenomenon, since it requires the preservation of soft tissue, such as skin, muscle or organs.

Naturally occurring mummies are found in bogs, ice or desert environments. Some cultures deliberately mummify bodies for long term preservation.

"The ancient Egyptians had a very strong belief about the afterlife and making sure that the body was intact going into the afterlife," says Dr Gill Frerking.

"The South Americans were very much ancestor worshippers so in some cultures it was important to keep family members intact for either discussion and decision-making or perhaps being part of family feast days.

The exhibition will run in Los Angeles for five months before embarking on a three-year, seven-city tour of the US.

"Mummies have fascinated people for a long time," says Dr Perlov.

"There is something about why is it that these mummies have survived and not decomposed. Also, the fact that they're human, we kind of see ourselves in them."

Visit the site to see some amazing pictures.

Bowes, Peter. 2010. "'Mummies of the World' on display" BBC News. Posted: July 7, 2010. Available online:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hips don't lie: Researchers find more accurate technique to determine sex of skeletal remains

Research from North Carolina State University offers a new means of determining the sex of skeletal human remains – an advance that may have significant impacts in the wake of disasters, the studying of ancient remains and the criminal justice system.

Historically, forensic scientists have been able to determine the sex of skeletal remains by visually evaluating the size and shape of the pelvis, or os coxa. "This technique is accurate, but is not without its limitations," says Dr. Ann Ross, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.

"For example," Ross says, "when faced with fragmentary remains of the os coxa, it can be difficult to determine the deceased person's sex based solely on visual inspection. This can be a significant challenge when evaluating remains from disasters – such as plane crashes – or degraded remains in mass burials – whether the burials date from prehistory or 20th century political violence."

But Ross and her colleague Dr. Joan Bytheway have now used three-dimensional imaging technology to effectively quantify the specific characteristics of the os coxa that differentiate males from females. Bytheway is an assistant professor of forensic science at Sam Houston State University.

The researchers found more than 20 anatomical "landmarks" on the os coxa that can be used to determine a body's sex. Finding so many landmarks is important, Ross says, because it means that the sex of a body can be ascertained even if only a small fragment of the pelvis can be found. In other words, even if only 15 percent of the pelvis is recovered, it is likely that at least a few of the landmarks can be found on that fragment.

Here's how it would work: a forensic scientist would use a digitizer to create a 3-D map of the pelvic fragment and measure the relevant anatomical landmarks. The scientist could then determine the sex of the remains by comparing those measurements to the measurements listed in the paper by Bytheway and Ross.

"This technique also has the benefit of being significantly more accurate than traditional visual inspections," Ross says. While determining sex based on visual inspections of os coxa have an accuracy rate of approximately 90 percent, the new technique from Ross and Bytheway has an accuracy rate of 98 percent or better. The researchers found, for example, that several anatomical landmarks commonly used in visual inspection to estimate sex are actually very poor indicators of sex.

The new technique could also have significant benefits in the courtroom. Obviously the improved accuracy is important, but so is the fact that the method relies on quantifiable metric data – not an opinion. This is an important distinction under the federal rules of evidence that govern what evidence can be submitted in criminal court.

The researchers are planning to incorporate their findings into the National Institute of Justice's 3D-ID program. The 3D-ID program consists of software that allows forensic scientists to plug in data on skeletal remains and determine the sex and ancestral origin of those remains.

EurekAlert. 2010. "Hips don't lie: Researchers find more accurate technique to determine sex of skeletal remains". EurekAlert. Posted: July 6, 2010. Available online:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Archaeologists Begin Dig on Buried Stone Circle TEN Times Bigger than Stonehenge

Archaeologists have begun a major dig to unearth the hidden mysteries of a buried ancient stone circle site that is ten times bigger than Stonehenge.

The enormous 4,000 year old Marden Henge, in Wiltshire, is Britain's largest prehistoric structure stretching for 10.5 hectares, the equivalent of 10 football pitches.

English Heritage is carrying out a six-week dig hoping to reveal the secrets behind the giant henge which has baffled historians for centuries.

Most of the Neolithic henge has been destroyed over the years due to farming and erosion but minor excavations in 41 years ago estimate the site to between 2,000 and 2,400BC.

Marden Henge was once a 45ft high mound surrounded by a water filled ditch which was used for sacrificial offerings.

Although the henge no longer has its vast stone circle it has a large puzzling sunken circular feature which is almost unheard of at Neolithic sites.

A team of 15 archaeologists and historians believe the dig could show the ancient site is even more significant than both Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles.

Archaeologist Jim Leary, 34, said: 'Virtually nothing is known about this vast circle. We are starting from point zero.

'Marden Henge deserves to be understood more partly because of its size, but also due to its proximity to the more famous stone circles at Avebury and Stonehenge.

'The relationship between the latter two sites - chronology of their construction, whether it is built by the same people, how they were used, is of immense interest.

'How Marden relates to them is another layer of interest which we want to study.

'We are potentially looking at a much more intricate system of Neolithic ritual sites in this part of the world than we previously thought.

'The study of Prehistory is entering a very exciting phase with lots of fascinating research and dating techniques emerging.

'The stunning discovery of Neolithic houses at Durrington Walls near Stonehenge a few years' ago, for example, has really turned things on its head.

'We certainly hope that this excavation will bring more pieces of the puzzle to light.'

The dig is the culmination of a two year English Heritage project including aerial, topographic and geophysical surveys.

It has not been touched since an investigation in 1969 by Professor Geoffrey Wainwright which dated the henge from fragments of deer antler found in the area.

Marden Henge is situated near to the source of the River Avon, in Marden, north of Devizes, between Avebury and Stonehenge and close to ancient Silbury Hill.

The henge comprises a well-preserved bank covering 10.5 hectares and an internal ditch.

Unlike Stonehenge and Avebury or Castlerigg, in Cumbria, Marden Henge no longer has any surviving stone monuments.

All that has remained is the evidence of a huge mound similar to a smaller at the centre of the henge, which collapsed in 1806 and was completely levelled by 1817.

Most experts now believe that significant ceremonial or ritual activity occurred within the ditches.

Archaeologists aim to find remnants of the Neolithic age within the remains of the mound.

The entire site is around 15 hectares and set within surrounding fields covering 40 hectares.

The dig began on Monday this week and will continue until August.

Daily Mail Reporter. 2010. "Archaeologists Begin Dig on Buried Stone Circle TEN Times Bigger than Stonehenge". Daily Mail. Posted: June 30, 2010. Available online:

Monday, July 12, 2010

'Human Terrain' hits rocky ground

I've been following the Human Terrain Systems information via the Open Anthropology blog so I thought I'd add the latest news here.

The US Army's controversial project for social scientists to serve alongside soldiers on the battlefield has suffered another setback with the loss of its director, retired US Army colonel Steve Fondacaro, who left on 11 June. Although no reason was given for his sudden departure, those familiar with the programme say that it is yet another sign of trouble for a project that has faced criticism since its inception four years ago.

Greg Mueller, a spokesman for US Army Training and Doctrine Command, based in Fort Monroe, Virginia, confirmed that Fondacaro is no longer manager of the Human Terrain System (HTS), but declined to provide details. He says that the army is now looking for a new civilian director. Colonel Sharon Hamilton will run the programme until a new director is found.

Fondacaro said in a phone interview that, although not technically fired, he had been pushed out of the position. He said that there had been "a lot of tension" between himself and senior army leaders, exacerbated by congressional pressure. "This is just a culmination of that," he said.

The HTS aims to help commanders to understand local culture and reduce violence. But critics, including the American Anthropological Association in Arlington, Virginia, see a contradiction between the goal of anthropology, to help local populations, and the goals of the army, which often wants to control them.

The programme has also suffered more concrete setbacks. It has struggled to recruit and retain social scientists. Several deployed social scientists have been killed, a translator was kidnapped in January (and later released) and one civilian team member pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter after executing an Afghan man who attacked social scientist Paula Loyd last year. Loyd later died of her wounds.

Roberto Gonzalez, an anthropologist and the author of American Counterinsurgency, a book on the HTS, says he is surprised that the leadership shake-up has been so long in coming. "Some argue that the HTS is suffering from poor management and lack of oversight, and that if these problems could be corrected it would be successful," he says. "I disagree. The entire programme is flawed because Human Terrain team members are thrust into an impossible situation in which they are torn between conflicting interests."

Funding for the HTS has increased from US$10 million to US$100 million a year since it began in 2006. But in May, a congressional panel said that it would limit funding until the project had been assessed by the army.

More changes lie ahead. The army has confirmed that it is seeking a new contractor to train Human Terrain teams. Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, which currently provides training, has decided to end its involvement — but did not give details.

Fondacaro denied that problems with the programme were caused by his leadership, arguing that aspects such as contracting were beyond his control. "The record will show, if anybody cares to look, that the things I was able to manage worked quite well," he said.

Asked about the programme in a meeting with reporters in March, US secretary of the army John McHugh said that he was "neither happy nor unhappy" with the HTS. "Whether it's a long-term solution or one in which we can glean short-term lessons and then move forward is still something we're not able to judge," McHugh said.

Weinberger, Sharon. 2010. "'Human Terrain' hits rocky ground". Nature. Posted: June 22, 2010. Available online:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Photo Gallery: The Adventures of Marco Polo

Stunning photos of the places Marco Polo traveled during his 24 year odyssey.

Click here to see the photo gallery.

Marco Polo Mosaic


2010. "Photo Gallery: The Adventures of Marco Polo". National Geographic Society. Posted: Available online:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

History Changing Trips


How Travel Changed History: Polynesian Migration

Starting around 3500 years ago, people set out from Southeast Asia in groups, slowly discovering and populating a swath of islands that would stretch from Hawaii to Easter Island.

Short term results: A robust Polynesian culture with a language shared across thousands of miles of islands and atolls.

Long term results: The modern packaged American vacation, the Hawaiian shirt, surfing as a worldwide sport.

How Travel Changed History: Balkan Journey

Hearing that the Balkans are “wonderful this time of year,” Archduke Franz Ferdinand leaves behind the stuffy confines of his plush Venetian palace—no air conditioning —and heads south to see the sights. On June 28, 1914 his driver gets lost on the quaint, cobble-stoned streets of Sarajevo—this was before the GPS. A wrong turn leads them directly into the path of a local that, on hindsight, turned out to a little too overcome with emotion upon encountering royalty.

Short term results: World War I, Lost Generation, flappers

Long term results: World War II, the Cold War, the English rock group Franz Ferdinand

How Travel Changed History: Ultimate Road Trip

In 1950 a couple scruffy college dropouts said ‘sayonara’ to the conformity of post-war 1950s America (at least that’s what the souvenir coffee mug says), piled into an American car (remember those?) and drove cross-country from New York to San Francisco all the while jabbering about William Blake, jazz, and the powers of various psychedelics.

Short term results: A book, On the Road, a blueprint for the 1960’s culture to follow, and the early death of Jack Kerouac owing to cirrhosis of the liver.

Long term results: Williamsburg, Brooklyn (and various ‘hipster ghettos’ throughout the U.S.), $500 jeans, ironic facial hair, and enough bad road trip literature to fill every nook and cranny of the library at Reed College.


Truth.Travel. 2010. "How Travel Changed History". Truth.Travel. Posted: n/d. Available online:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ethnic Favorites Get an American Twist

Once exotic, now ubiquitous, hummus will reportedly be available in flavors as wild as peanut butter by this August, but this dip isn’t the only foreign-born food to get the American treatment recently.

Traditional Japanese sushi has long been popular in America—it's even spawned historical accounts of its rise—but it's also available in more unusual variants, such as candy sushi and dessert sushi. Sold online by Candy Warehouse, Sushi Candy comes in 4-oz. packs for $12.50 each, although you may be disappointed to learn that candy wasabi isn't included. Meanhwile Glamour notes another sugary iteration of the dish: desserts made by Chocolate Sushi. The Belgian and Swiss chocolate treats look notably less fishy than their Candy Warehouse counterparts and come in flavors like fresh raspberry and white chocolate truffle.

Tacos, while originally from Mexico, have become almost as ubiquitous in America as hot dogs and hamburgers. But thanks to Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go's creativity, the Korean taco was born, pairing marinated beef with taco (and burrito) trimmings.

And gyros, a long-time favorite in Greece, have taken an unusual American twist as well. Portofino’s Pizzeria in Evanston, IL have combined the two favorites, serving up their Police Pizza topped with gyro meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, pepperoncini, and their special garlic sauce.

Rowe, Elizabeth. 2010. "Ethnic Favorites Get an American Twist". Truth.Travel. Posted: Available online:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums

Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education -- and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world's poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Picts

"Venit et extremis legio praetenta Britannis, Quae Scotto dat frena truci ferronque notatas Perlegit examines Picto moriente figuras"

The above words of the Roman poet Claudian perhaps give the only physical description of the race of people known as Picts who once raided Roman Britain, defeated the Angle-Saxon invaders and in one of the great mysteries of the ancient world, disappeared as a separate people by the end of the tenth century. "This legion, which curbs the savage Scot and studies the designs marked with iron on the face of the dying Pict," are the Claudian words which give some insight as to the name given by Rome to the untamed tribes north of Hadrian's Wall . The Romans called this pre-Celtic people Pictii, or "Painted," although Claudius' words are proof that (as claimed by many historians), the ancient Picts actually tattooed their bodies with designs. To the non-Roman Celtic world of Scots and Irish and the many tribes of Belgic England and Wales they were known as "Cruithni" and for many centuries they represented the unbridled fury of a people who refused to be brought under the yoke of Rome or any foreign invader.

The origins of the Picts are clouded with many fables, legends and fabrications, and there are as many theories as to who the Picts were (Celtic, Basque, Scythians, etc.), where they came from, what they ate or drank, and what language they spoke, as there once were Pictish raiders defying the mighty legions of Rome. Legend tells us, perhaps incorrectly, that Rome's mighty Ninth Legion, the famous "Hispana" legion, which had earned its battle honors in Iberia, conquering Celtic Spain for Caesar is never heard of again when faced against the Picts (they actually surfaced years later in Israel). We do know that the Picts may have spoken a non-Celtic language, (although many Celtophiles feel the Picts spoke a Brythonic-Gaulish form of Celtic language) as St. Columba's biographer clearly stated that the Irish saint needed a translator to preach to the Pictish King Brude, son of Maelchon, at Brude's court near the shores of Loch Ness. At other times the Pictish king lived at Scone, and we know there often were two separate Pictish kingdoms of Northern and Southern Picts. We know that they were mighty sailors, for the Romans feared the Pictish Navy almost as much as the wild men who came down from the Highlands to attack the villages along the wall. We also know that as far as the 9th century they wrote in stone a language which was not far in design from the Celtic "Ogham" script but was not Celtic in context, although Prof. Richard Cox thinks that it is Norse, which has really turned the carefully galvanized world of Pictish academic opinions upside down. By the legacy of their standing stones, we know that they were great artists as well. It is also well known that the Picts were one of Western culture's rare matrilinear societies; that is, bloodlines passed through the mother, and Pictish kings were not succeeded by their sons, but by their brothers or nephews or cousins as traced by the female line in (according to the scholar Dr. Anthony Jackson) a complicated series of intermarriages by seven royal houses.

It was this rare form of succession which in the year 845 A.D. gave the crown of Alba and the title Rex Pictorum to a Celtic Scot, son of a Pictish princess by the name of Kenneth, Son of Alpin. This Kenneth MacAlpin, whose father's kingship over the Scots had been earlier taken over by the Pictish king Oengus, who ruled as both king of Picts and Scots, and who possibly harbored a deep ethnic hatred for the Picts, and in the event known as "MacAlpin's Treason" murdered the members of the remaining seven royal houses thus preserving the Scottish line for kingship of Alba and the eventual erasure from history of the Pictish race, culture and history.

The true mystery in Pictish studies is the extraordinary disappearance of the culture of the tattoed nations of the North. The fact that within three generations of MacAlpin kings, the Picts were almost held in legendary status as a people of the past must be the real question to be answered, and the historian is consumed by legend, lack of facts and the nagging story of an obscure intrigue leading to genocide of a people, its customs, culture, laws and art.

It is in the sculptured stones of Scotland, left behind by the Pictish and proto-Pictish people of ancient Alba and present day Scotland that we can find some information about a mighty race of people who defied and defeated Rome and who slaughtered the invincible barbarian hordes of Angles Germans at Nechtansmere in Angus, and hammered the invading Vikings back home thus forever preserving a separate culture and race in Scotland. It is in these sometimes mighty, sometimes delicate stones that the history of ancient Scotland is now recorded. Were they descendants of the ancient Basque people of northern Spain once known to Rome as Pictones, who then migrated to northern Britain after they had helped the Empire defeat the seagoing people of Biscay? Or are they descendants of the dark tribes of ancient Stygia and the huge Eastern steepes? No one knows - only the Stones.

Campello, F. Lennox. 2006. "The Picts". Pictish Nation. Posted: 2006. Available online:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cultures of the United Kingdom

I find the diversity of British people absolutely fascinating. The idea that such diverse cultures occupy such a small space and despite strong socio-political influence, retain their cultural uniqueness.

The people of the United Kingdom are called British or English, Welsh, Scots, and Irish. Over 90 percent of United Kingdom residents are native-born. The ethnic minorities include West Indian or Guyanese (499,000), Indian (840,000), Pakistani (475,000), or Bengali (160,000). There are also sizable numbers of Africans, Americans, Australians, Chinese, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Italians, Spaniards, and Southeast Asians.

The English

LOCATION: United Kingdom (England)
POPULATION: Over 48 million
RELIGION: Church of England; Protestantism; Judaism; Sikhism; Hinduism; Islam

INTRODUCTION: England is unique among European countries. As an island, it has been protected by surrounding waters that form a natural barrier. No country has successfully invaded England for the last 1,000 years.

The area now called England was occupied by many European cultures and tribes. In 1066 AD the Normans, from France, invaded and became the new rulers of England. London was established as the country's capital. Soon after, England began expanding into its neighboring countries—Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. England's history has been continuously linked with these three nations through to present times.

In the seventeenth century, the first English colonies in America were established. England continued to expand its colonies and became an empire (a government with many territories under its rule) that covered one-quarter of the world.

England suffered enormous losses during World War I (1914–18). After the war, England began to lose authority over its colonies. Ireland was the first to become independent. World War II (1939–45) was also devastating to England. In the twenty-five years that followed, the British Empire granted independence to the majority of its other colonies. Most of the former colonies still retain economic and political ties to Britain. The British economy and society still have a strong influence in world affairs today. The British royal family, which no longer has any political power, is often the focus of international publicity.

LANGUAGE: English is the most widely spoken language in the world. It is spoken throughout the United Kingdom and by close to 450 million people around the globe. Many varieties of English are spoken worldwide, and many dialects and regional accents exist within England. Although Americans speak English, they may have difficulty understanding the speech of the English people. In addition to differences in pronunciation, people in the two countries often use different words for the same thing. Examples include:

FOLKLORE: The most famous folklore of England is about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. If there was a real King Arthur, he most probably lived in the sixth century AD . King Arthur is believed to have ruled justly, which was uncommon for rulers of that era. Famous characters from that folklore include Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot. Many books and movies tell these stories, including T. H. White's The Once and Future King and the movies Camelot and Excalibur.

Also famous are the English legends about Robin Hood and his Merry Men. These noble outlaws lived in Sherwood Forest near the city of Nottingham in the twelfth century AD . They were famous for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

CLOTHING: There is no unique national costume for England. For the most part, the English wear modern-style clothing similar to that worn in the United States and other industrialized countries. Blue jeans and T-shirts are very popular. The cold, damp winters require heavy coats, mackintoshes (rain-coats), and warm woolen clothes.

The most famous traditional costumes in England are the red uniforms and high black hats worn by the royal guard at Buckingham Palace. Ceremonial dress is worn by government troops and the royal family on official occasions. In rural areas, traditional folk costumes are worn for festivals such as May Day (May 1, a celebration of spring).

CULTURAL HERITAGE: England has a distinguished cultural heritage, including one of the greatest writers ever, the sixteenth-century playwright William Shakespeare. Other great writers include the poets William Wordsworth and John Keats; novelists Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne), George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy; and modern writers D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, W. H. Auden, George Orwell, and T. S. Eliot.

Great English painters include Joseph Turner and John Constable (nineteenth century), and Francis Bacon, David Hockney, and Graham Sutherland (twentieth century). Henry Moore was a famous twentieth-century sculptor. English composers include John Dowland, William Byrd, and Henry Purcell (1500s and 1600s); Gilbert and Sullivan (nineteenth-century light operas); and Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten in modern times. In the 1960s, England became a trendsetter in popular music as the home of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Read more about the English here

The Scots

LOCATION: United Kingdom (Scotland)
POPULATION: Over 5 million
LANGUAGE: Scottish dialect of English (also called Scots); Gaelic
RELIGION: Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian sect; Roman Catholic; small numbers of Baptists, Anglicans, and Methodists

INTRODUCTION: Scotland is one of four countries that make up the United Kingdom. (The other three are England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.) Scotland covers the northern part of the island of Great Britain, which it shares with England and Wales.

For centuries, social and political life in the northern (Highland) area of Scotland was organized around clans (communities of people with strong family ties). Chieftains protected clan members from invasion in exchange for their loyalty. (The cultural tradition of clans still exists today at ceremonial gatherings such as weddings.) The southern areas of Scotland were more influenced by English patterns of organization.

Repeated disputes with England sometimes led to war. Before the early fourteenth century, the Scottish were ruled by English monarchs. In 1707 the Act of Union made Scotland, England, and Wales all part of the United Kingdom.

Scotland has seen difficult times in the twentieth century. Extensive unemployment began in the 1930s, forcing thousands to emigrate in search of a better life. Oil was discovered off the North Sea coast in the 1960s. Many new jobs were created as a result, and emigration slowed. Since the 1980s national feeling in favor of separation from England has strengthened. In 1997, Scotland voted to establish its own parliament (government council) by 1999. This change will increase Scotland's independence from England.

LANGUAGE: Scotland's official language is English. It is spoken with a unique Scottish accent, or "burr," that is especially prominent in words containing "r" sounds. Scottish English (also called Scots) contains words borrowed from Gaelic (a Scottish dialect), French, Dutch, and Scandinavian languages. Its grammar sometimes differs from standard English, as in expressions like "Are you no going?" and "I'm away to bed." Gaelic is spoken as a second language by less than 2 percent of the population, mostly in the Highlands and Hebridean islands.

FOLKLORE: The oldest Gaelic songs tell stories of warriors battling Norsemen, magic rowan (mountain ash) trees, and monstrous old women living in the sea. There is also a rich folk tradition of belief in fairies and other supernatural forces. The most famous character in Scottish folklore is the Loch Ness monster. "Nessie" is said to be a dinosaur-like creature living in a large lake. Although it has supposedly been sighted by hundreds of people, its existence has never been scientifically proven.

A popular Scottish legend tells the tale of the "wall flower." In a castle near the river Tweed, a fair maiden was held prisoner because she had promised her love to a member of a neighboring enemy clan. Her lover tried various tactics to rescue her. He finally was able to get inside the castle by pretending to be a troubadour (wandering musician). Once inside, he found the maiden and the two made a plan for her escape. She climbed out the window, and planned to climb down the wall of the castle using a silk rope. While her lover waited below to rescue her, something went wrong, as this poem relates:

Up she got upon a wall
Attempted down to slide withal;
But the silken twist untied,
She fell, and bruised, she died,
And her loving, luckless speed,
Twined her to the plant we call
Now the "Flower of the Wall."

CLOTHING: People throughout the world generally picture the Scots in their famous traditional costume, the kilt. However, this skirtlike garment is generally worn only for ceremonial and formal occasions. Otherwise, most Scots wear standard Western-style clothing. Because of the cold, damp climate, Scottish clothing is usually made of heavy fabrics such as wool, including the native tweed. Each of Scotland's clans has its own tartan (or plaid), developed over the centuries. There are over 300 designs in all. Women's ceremonial costumes include tartan skirts and white blouses worn under snug, black, vestlike bodices.

The Scots have a particularly distinguished tradition in the realm of literature, especially poetry and novels. Scotland's most famous poet, Robert Burns, lived and wrote in the late eighteenth century. Lord Byron (1788–1824), another Scottish poet, was born and educated in Aberdeen. Other famous writers include Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94), both writers of adventure novels. Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930), another Scot, created the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Doyle's countryman J. M. Barrie (1860–1937) wrote the famous play Peter Pan, which has delighted audiences throughout the twentieth century.

Read more about the Scots here.

The Welsh

LOCATION: United Kingdom (Wales)
POPULATION: 2.8 million
LANGUAGE: English; Welsh
RELIGION: Methodism; Anglicanism; Presbyterianism; Roman Catholicism; small numbers of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs

INTRODUCTION: Wales is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. (The others are England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.) The Welsh people are Celtic (central and western European) in origin and have their own language and cultural heritage. The southern part of Wales was colonized by Normans during the eleventh century AD . The last independent principality—Gwynedd, made up of most of North and Central Wales—was conquered by Edward I of England in 1284. Edward's oldest son was given the title Prince of Wales. That title has been held by the oldest son of England's reigning monarch ever since. Wales was officially joined with England in 1707 by the Act of Union, which established the United Kingdom.

South Wales became heavily industrialized in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the development of coal and iron mining. In the twentieth century, much of the Welsh population has emigrated to England and other countries in search of better job opportunities. In recent decades there has been a renewal of Welsh nationalism (patriotism). Political and cultural groups have worked to strengthen a unique Welsh identity separate from a British identity.

LANGUAGE: Both English and Welsh are the official languages of Wales. The use of Welsh has declined gradually since the late eighteenth century. Almost all Welsh people speak English. Welsh is a Celtic language, closest to the Breton language spoken in a part of France. Welsh was recognized as an official language in 1966. Since the 1960s there has been a movement to increase the use and recognition of Welsh. It is now taught in schools, and there are Welsh radio and television broadcasting facilities.

Welsh is known for its long words, double consonants, and scarce vowels. English-speakers find the language quite difficult to pronounce. The Welsh language contains what is probably the longest place name in the world: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, a town name that means "Church of St. Mary in the Hollow by the White Aspen near the Rapid Whirlpool and Church of St. Tysilio by the Red Cave." (It is usually referred to as Llan-fair.)

FOLKLORE: Welsh culture is full of myths and legends. Even the country's national symbol—the dragon—is a mythical beast. Almost every mountain, river, and lake, as well as many farms and villages, are associated with some legend of tylwyth teg (fairies), magical properties, or fearful beasts. The Welsh claim that the legendary British hero King Arthur, as well as his magician-counselor Merlin, were from Wales. Another popular subject of Welsh legend is the prince Madog ab Owain. He is said to have discovered America in the twelfth century AD.

CLOTHING: The Welsh wear typical Western-style clothing for ordinary casual and formal occasions. However, at festivals one can still see women wearing their traditional national costumes. These consist of long dresses, checkered aprons, white collars, and tall black hats (something like a witch's hat but less pointy and with a wider brim) worn over white kerchiefs. On such occasions, men may wear striped vests over white shirts and knee-length breeches with high white socks.

CULTURAL HERITAGE: Welsh-language literature is among the oldest continuous literary traditions in Europe, with some of its earliest masterpieces dating from the sixth century AD . Welsh poets have gained recognition in the English-speaking world since the seventeenth century. Wales' most illustrious modern poet was Dylan Thomas (1914–53), author of the beloved A Child's Christmas in Wales, the radio play Under Milk Wood, and many well-known poems.

The Welsh are a very musical people. Their choral tradition includes celebrated male choirs, a variety of soloists, and pop singers including Tom Jones. Rock bands like the Alarm and the Manic Street Preachers also come from Wales. Several famous actors are Welsh, the best-known being Anthony Hopkins and the late Richard Burton.

Read more about the Welsh here.

Every Culture. "United Kingdom". Every Culture. Posted: n/d. Available online: