Austrian art to revert to Jewish owners

The Austrian Culture Ministry has recommended that seven paintings contained in a prestigious Vienna art collection be returned because they were either seized by the Nazis or given up against the will of their Jewish owners.

The seven works by Austrian artists – five by Egon Schiele of the 20th century and two by Anton Romako, a 19th century artist – are currently in the possession of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation.

The recommendations on Tuesday by a ministry panel are non-binding.

The owners of the paintings are Karl Maylaender and Moriz Eisler, Jews who were persecuted by the Nazis. Names of possible heirs were not given.

Austria has returned looted works of art held by federal museums to their rightful owners or heirs, most of them Jewish, under a 1998 restitution law

Hitler planned to invade UK with UFOs

Adolf Hitler with his chief architect Albert Speer. As Germany’s position became desperate twoards the end of the war, the Fuhrer put his faith in far-fetched plans to turn the tide in his favour / Supplied

AS Hitler’s armies began to crumble he turned in increasing desperation to his scientists to create a war-winning super-weapon.
Some, like the V2 rockets and the first jet fighters, saw action but came too late to halt defeat.
Others were so outrageously ambitious that they never got past the drawing board.
The idea of building flying saucers to bomb London and even New York could have been just such a scheme.
Now it is claimed Hitler’s scientists were so far advanced with the project a prototype may have flown up the Thames.
The program, under the command of SS officer Hans Kammler, was said to have made breakthroughs in anti-gravity, according to a report in the German science magazine PM.
It quotes witnesses who saw a flying saucer marked with the Iron Cross flying low over the Thames in 1944.

“The Americans also treated the existence of the weapons seriously,” it said.
The magazine said the Germans destroyed much of the paperwork on their activities but in 1960, Canadian UFO experts managed to recreate the device which, to their amazement, “did actually fly”.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/hitler-planned-to-invade-uk-with-ufos/story-e6frfro0-1225956043643#ixzz15p5Tnsqp

Copper load of this! Company digging mine in Afghanistan unearths 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery

A Chinese company digging an unexploited copper mine in Afghanistan has unearthed ancient statues of Buddha in a sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery.

Archaeologists are rushing to salvage what they can from a major seventh century B.C. religious site along the famed Silk Road connecting Asia and the Middle East. The ruins, including the monastery and domed shrines known as ‘stupas,’ will likely be largely destroyed once work at the mine begins.

The ruins were discovered as labourers excavated the site on behalf of the Chinese government-backed China Metallurgical Group Corp., or MCC, which wants to develop the world’s second largest copper mine, lying beneath the ruins.

Historic find: Ancient Buddha statues inside a temple in Mes Aynak, south of Kabul, Afghanistan. Chinese labourers digging a copper mine made the astonishing discovery

Hanging over the situation is the memory of the Buddhas of Bamiyan — statues towering up to 180 feet high in central Afghanistan that were dynamited to the ground in 2001 by the country’s then-rulers, the Taliban, who considered them symbols of paganism.

No one wants to be blamed for similarly razing history at Mes Aynak, in the eastern province of Logar. MCC wanted to start building the mine by the end of 2011 but under an informal understanding with the Kabul government, it has given archaeologists three years for a salvage excavation.

Archaeologists working on the site since May say that won’t be enough time for full preservation.

Ancient: An Afghan archaeologist stands next to the remains feet of the Buddha statues discovered in Mes Aynak. The ruins, including the monastery and domed shrines known as ‘stupas,’ will likely be largely destroyed once work at the mine begins

The monastery complex has been dug out, revealing hallways and rooms decorated with frescoes and filled with clay and stone statues of standing and reclining Buddhas, some as high as 10 feet. An area that was once a courtyard is dotted with stupas standing four or five feet high.

More than 150 statues have been found so far, though many remain in place. Large ones are too heavy to be moved, and the team lacks the chemicals needed to keep small ones from disintegrating when extracted.

‘That site is so massive that it’s easily a 10-year campaign of archaeology,’ said Laura Tedesco, an archaeologist brought in by the U.S. Embassy to work on sites in Afghanistan. ‘Three years may be enough time just to document what’s there.’

Dig: A wooden Buddha statue, estimated to be about 1,400 years old, is discovered during the excavation at the sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery

Philippe Marquis, a French archaeologist advising the Afghans, said the salvage effort is piecemeal and ‘minimal’, held back by lack of funds and personnel.

The team hopes to lift some of the larger statues and shrines out before winter sets in this month, but they still haven’t procured the crane and other equipment needed.

Around 15 Afghan archaeologists, three French advisers and a few dozen labourers are working within the 0.77-square-mile (2-square-kilometer) area — a far smaller team than the two dozen archaeologists and 100 labourers normally needed for a site of such size and richness.

‘This is probably one of the most important points along the Silk Road,’ said Marquis. ‘What we have at this site, already in excavation, should be enough to fill the (Afghan) national museum.’

Deadline: Archaeologists digging at the site of the ancient ruins have three years to finish the excavations

Mes Aynak, 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of Kabul, lies in a province that is still considered a major transit route for insurgents coming from Pakistan. In July, two U.S. sailors were kidnapped and killed in Logar. Around 1,500 Afghan police guard the mine site and the road.

Mes Aynak’s religious sites and copper deposits have been bound together for centuries — ‘mes’ means ‘copper’ in the local Dari language. Throughout the site’s history, artisanal miners have dug up copper to adorn statues and shrines.

Afghan archaeologists have known since the 1960s about the importance of Mes Aynak, but almost nothing had been excavated. When the Chinese won the contract to exploit the mine in 2008, there was no discussion with Kabul about the ruins — only about money, security and building a railroad to transport the copper out of Logar’s dusty hills.

But a small band of Afghan and French archaeologists raised a stir and put the antiquities on the agenda.

The mine could be a major boost for the Afghan economy. According to the Afghan Mining Ministry, it holds some 6 million tons of copper (5.52 million metric tons), worth tens of billions of dollars at today’s prices. Developing the mine and related transport infrastructure will generate much needed jobs and economic activity.

Waheedullah Qaderi, a Mining Ministry official working on the antiquities issue, said MCC shares the government goal of protecting heritage while starting mining as soon as possible.

Copper load of this! Company digging mine in Afghanistan unearths 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery | Mail Online.

Chinese vase fetches record $69 million in UK auction

A Chinese vase discovered during a routine house clearance in a London suburb sold for 43 million pounds ($69 million) Thursday, 40 times its estimate and an auction record for any work of art from Asia, the auctioneer that sold it said.

“It’s a world record for a piece of Asian art,” Helen Porter of West London auction house Bainbridges told Reuters.

“It’s part of the end of Asian Art week, so there were a lot (of buyers) over for that and the room was absolutely full of Chinese people bidding against each other,” she added.

The hammer price did not include 20 percent in fees and taxes.

“It (the bidding) went on for half an hour. We don’t know exactly who the buyer is. I believe they’re buying on behalf of someone, but I believe they’re Chinese,” she added.

The sale highlights the intense and growing competition among wealthy Chinese buyers for rare pieces of their heritage, and anything associated with imperial China appears to be particularly attractive.

According to the auctioneer, the vase dates from the 1740s from the Qianlong period, would have resided “no doubt” in the Chinese Royal Palace and was fired in the imperial kilns.

The auctioneer said it was a mystery how the 16-inch high piece ended up in London. Its provenance was described simply as belonging to an English family collection, probably acquired during the 1930s.

“It is a masterpiece,” the auction house wrote in its blog before the sale. “If only it could talk!!”

Earlier Thursday, a white jade dragon seal which belonged to the Chinese Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799), sold for 2.7 million pounds at auction house Bonhams.

The four centimeter-square seal, which was expected to fetch 1.5-2.0 million pounds, was bought by an unidentified Chinese buyer from Beijing.

In October, auction house Sotheby’s sold a Chinese Qing dynasty vase for $32.4 million and their Asian auction series of art, jewelry, wine and watches in Hong Kong raised $400 million.

via Chinese vase fetches record $69 million in UK auction – Yahoo!7.

We’ve all suspected it, now it’s official: Ozzy Osbourne IS a Neanderthal

By Arthur Martin

He claims his ‘superhuman’ genes have kept him healthy despite a lifetime of rock ’n’ roll excess.

And now it seems science may back up Ozzy Osbourne’s theory that he has a particularly hardy family tree.

Researchers studying his DNA have found that the singer is the descendant of a Neanderthal man.

He is also a distant relative of outlaw Jesse James, the last Russian tsar Nicholas II and King George I – and shares some genes with the ancient Romans.

Family album: Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, left, is the descendant of a Neanderthal man, according to researchers

The 61-year-old hellraiser, who has survived years of drug abuse and alcohol addiction, joked that news of his Neanderthal heritage would not come ‘as much of a surprise’ to his wife Sharon or to police departments around the world.

He famously bit the head off a bat while drunk on stage, broke his neck in a quad bike accident in 2003 and has admitted there’s ‘no plausible reason’ why he is still alive.

Scientists made the discovery by taking a sample of the singer’s blood at his home in Buckinghamshire and sending it to a lab in New Jersey in the U.S.. Using a state-of-the-art £12,000 test, they were able to unlock his genetic code, or genome.

The researchers discovered that the star shares some DNA with the ancient Romans who were killed in Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

Close family: It’s unlikely how children Kelly and Jack, and wife Sharon will respond after research revealed Ozzy is descended from a Neanderthal man

Osbourne said: ‘That means I’m also probably related to some of the survivors, which makes a lot of sense.

‘If any of the Roman Osbournes drank nearly as much as I used to, they wouldn’t have even felt the lava. They could have just walked it off.’

The researchers also examined the gene the body uses to break down alcohol and discovered an ‘unusual variant’ which could have helped Osbourne survive during the years when he drank up to four bottles of Cognac a day.

‘Given the swimming pools of booze I’d guzzled over the years – not to mention all the [drugs] – there’s really no plausible medical reason why I should be alive,’ he told The Sunday Times.

But although the genetic results gave Osbourne some clues about his good health, scientists also told him that he had his long-suffering wife to thank for still being alive for doing her best to curb the worst of his excesses.

MISSING LINKS

Neanderthals may have died out 30,000 years ago – but their genes live on in some modern humans.

A study this year showed that ancestors of white Europeans and Asians bred with Neanderthals in the distant past, and their genes have been passed down ever since.

Up to 4 per cent of the DNA of every living person of non-African descent can be traced back to the short, stocky cavemen, according to researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

They mapped the genome of Neanderthal remains and compared it with that of homo sapiens.

It is believed the two shared a common ancestor in Africa around 400,000 years ago. Early Neanderthals left Africa soon afterwards and headed for Europe and Asia, while our ancestors stayed behind and evolved into modern humans.

Then, 100,000 years ago, they left Africa too. Before Neanderthals died out, the two species lived alongside each other in Europe and Asia, and the research suggests there was interbreeding during this period.

We’ve all suspected, now it’s official: Ozzy Osbourne IS a Neanderthal | Mail Online.

Could a rusty coin re-write Chinese-African history?

Click to play

Professor Qin Dashu shows off some of his finds

It is not much to look at – a small pitted brass coin with a square hole in the centre – but this relatively innocuous piece of metal is revolutionising our understanding of early East African history, and recasting China’s more contemporary role in the region.


In barely distinguishable relief, the team leader Professor Qin Dashu from Peking University’s archaeology department, read out the inscription: “Yongle Tongbao” – the name of the reign that minted the coin some time between 1403 and 1424.

“These coins were carried only by envoys of the emperor, Chengzu,” Prof Qin said.

“We know that smugglers would often take them and melt them down to make other brass implements, but it is more likely that this came here with someone who gave it as a gift from the emperor.”

And that poses the question that has excited both historians and politicians: How did a coin from the early 1400s get to East Africa, almost 100 years before the first Europeans reached the region?

When China ruled the seas

The answer seems to be with Zheng He, also known as Cheng Ho – a legendary Chinese admiral who, the stories say, led a vast fleet of between 200 and 300 ships across the Indian Ocean in 1418.


It is now believed that China’s Zheng He reached East Africa long before any European explorer

Until recently, there have only been folk tales and insubstantial hints at how far Zheng He might have sailed.

Then, a few years ago, fishermen off the northern Kenyan port town of Lamu hauled up 15th Century Chinese vases in their nets, and the Chinese authorities ran DNA tests on a number of villagers who claimed Chinese ancestry.

The tests seemed to confirm what the villagers have always believed – that a ship from Zheng He’s fleet sank in a storm and the surviving crew married locals, meaning some people in the area still have subtly Chinese features.

Searching for clues

It was then that Peking University organized its expedition to try to find conclusive evidence. The university is spending $3 million (£2 million) on the three-year project.


The dig suggests China’s interest in Africa goes back a long way

Prof Qin’s team chose to dig in Mambrui for two reasons.

First, ancient texts told of Zheng He’s visit to the Sultan of Malindi – the most powerful coastal ruler of the time. But they also mentioned that Malindi was by a river mouth; something that the present town of Malindi doesn’t have, but that Mambrui does.

“Start Quote

The Chinese had a very different approach from the Europeans to East Africa…they saw us as equals”

Dr Herman KiriamaNational Museums of Kenya

The old cemetery in Mambrui also has a famous circular tomb-stone embedded with 400-year-old Chinese porcelain bowls hinting at the region’s long-standing relationship with the East.

In the broad L-shaped trench that the team dug on the edge of the cemetery, they began finding what they were looking for.

First, they uncovered the remains of an iron smelter and iron slag.

Then, Mohamed Mchuria, a coastal archaeologist from the National Museums of Kenya, unearthed a stunning fragment of porcelain that Prof Qin believes came from a famous kiln called Long Quan that made porcelain exclusively for the royal family in the early Ming Dynasty.

The jade-green shard appears to be from the base of a much larger bowl, with two small fish in relief, swimming just below the surface of the glaze.

“This is a wonderful and very important piece, and that is why we believe it could have come with an imperial envoy like Zheng He,” Prof Qin said.


The team is hoping to unearth more buried secrets

Re-writing history?

While the evidence is still not conclusive, it undermines Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama’s claim to have been the first international trader to open up East Africa.

He arrived in 1499 on an expedition to find a sea route to Asia, and launched more than 450 years of colonial domination by European maritime powers.

“Start Quote

It… gives politicians a reason to say: ‘Let’s look East’ because we’ve been looking that way throughout the ages”

Herman KiriamaNational Museums of Kenya

“We’re discovering that the Chinese had a very different approach from the Europeans to East Africa,” said Herman Kiriama, the lead archaeologist from the National Museums of Kenya.

“Because they came with gifts from the emperor, it shows they saw us as equals. It shows that Kenya was already a dynamic trading power with strong links to the outside world long before the Portuguese arrived,” he said.

And that is profoundly influencing the way Kenya is thinking about its current ties to the East.

It implies that China has a much older trade relationship with the region than Europe, and that Beijing’s very modern drive to open up trade with Africa may in fact be part of a far deeper tradition than anyone suspected.

In 2008 China’s trade with the continent was worth $107bn (£67bn) – more even than the United States, and 10 times what it was in 2000.

“A long time ago, the East African coast looked East and not West,” said Mr Kiriama.

“And maybe that’s why it also gives politicians a reason to say: ‘Let’s look East’ because we’ve been looking that way throughout the ages.”

Kids name Buzz Lightyear as first man on moon

A large number of British children believe Buzz Lightyear was the first person to walk on the moon and that Darth Vader’s Deathstar from Star Wars is the furthest planet from Earth.

A survey of 2000 children aged 6-12 years in the UK revealed most youngsters have trouble distinguishing between fact and fiction, and lacked basic knowledge of key events in history, London’s Telegraph newspaper reports.

What did you used to believe as a kid? Share your memories below.

One in five children believed Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear was the first person to set foot on the moon and one in six said the Deathstar was the most distant planet from Earth.

One- third of the children surveyed also did not know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, with nine percent giving credit to Deal or No Deal host Noel Edmonds.

One in six children incorrectly identified US President Barrack Obama as either Mr T from the A-Team, F1 driver Lewis Hamilton or Nelson Mandela.

But while their knowledge of history was somewhat muddled, the children proved to be far more aware of what was happening in the lives of celebrities.

Close to 65 percent of the children knew Britney Spears had shaved her head and two-thirds identified malaria as the illness suffered by X Factor judge Cheryl Cole.

Children’s author Christopher Lloyd told the Telegraph there was a lot of confusion among children about historical events.

”Young people have little or no context when it comes to knowledge about the past,” Mr Lloyd said.

“Often they know a great deal about a few topics, but seldom do they have any idea of the big picture – Neil Armstrong would not be happy to learn a plastic action figure is getting the credit for first man to step on the moon.”

via Kids name Buzz Lightyear as first man on moon.

SAHARAN VIBE: DINKA OF SUDAN

Location: The Dinka are a group of several closely related peoples living in southern Sudan along both sides of the White Nile. They cover a wide area along the many streams and small rivers, concentrated in the Upper Nile province in southeast Sudan and across into southwest Ethiopia.

Identity: The Dinka are one of the branches of the River Lake Nilotes. Though known for centuries as Dinka, they actually call themselves Moinjaang, “People of the people.” The more numerous Southern Luo branch includes peoples throughout central Uganda and neighboring sections of Zaire and the lake area of western Kenya. The Dinka peoples still live near the hot and humid homeland of the River-Lake Nilotes. They are the largest ethnic group in southern Sudan. The Dinka groups retain the traditional pastoral life of the Nilotes, but have added agriculture in some areas, growing grains, peanuts, beans, corn (maize) and other crops. Women do most of the agriculture, but men clear forest for the gardening sites. There are usually two plantings per year. Some are fishers. Their culture incorporated strategies for dealing with the annual cycle of one long dry season and one long rainy season.

The Dinka are split into twenty or more tribal groups which are further divided into sub-tribes, each occupying a tract of land large enough to provide adequate water and pasture for their herds.

Corseted Dinka Man, Sudan Besides cattle, the most coveted possession of a Dinka man is an intricately beaded corset. This corset is sewn on tightly and worn until marriage. The height of the beaded wire at the back indicates that the wearer comes from a family rich in cattle.

The Dinka have lived pretty much on their own, undisturbed by the political movements in their area. They did fight the Ottoman Turks when they were ruling Sudan. They have periodically had clashes with neighboring peoples, such as the Atuot, with whom they have fought over grazing areas. They have not been active in national politics.

Before the coming of the British the Dinka did not live in villages, but traveled in family groups living in temporary homesteads with their cattle. The homesteads might be in clusters of one or two all the way up to 100 families. Small towns grew up around British administrative centers. Each village of one or more extended families is led by a leader chosen by the group.

Traditional homes were made of mud walls with thatched conical roofs, which might last about 20 years. Only women and children sleep inside the house, while the men sleep in mud-roofed cattle pens. The homesteads were located to enable movement in a range allowing year-round access to grass and water. Permanent villages are now built on higher ground above the flood plane of the Nile but with good water for irrigation. The women and older men tend crops on this high ground while younger men move up and down with the rise and fall of the river.

Polygamy is allowed among the Dinka, though many men may have only one wife. The Dinka must marry outside their clan (exogamy), which promotes more cohesion across the broader Dinka group.

A “bride wealth” is paid by the groom’s family to finalize the marriage alliance between the two clan families. Levirate marriage provides support for widows and their children. All children of co-wives are raised together and have a wide family identity. Co-wives cook for all children, though each wife has a responsibility for her own children.

RIGHTS OF PASSAGE – INITIATION

Initiation marks a young man’s passage from boyhood to adulthood. An initiate is called a parapool – “one who has stopped milking”. Initiation means he no longer does a boy’s work of milking, tethering the cattle, and carting dung. Initiation is marked by mutilation – tribal marks of several parallel lines or V-shaped marks – are scarified onto the youth’s forehead. The pattern of scars may change over time but the parapuol is always easily recognisable as belonging to a particular tribe. This scarification takes place at any age from ten to sixteen. Initiates are warriors, guardians of the camp against predators – lions, hyenas – and against enemy raiders. Some stay with the cattle all year round. All of them stay with the cattle during the dry months but most return to the villages to help cultivate the crops during the wet season. Even in this duty, the parapuol have the role of warrior protectors. The cattle, protected by the parapuol who remain with them, are kept in camps on the plains at the base of the foothills for the entire wet season.

Photo by Foto Morgana

Initiation occurs around harvest time. The night before the ceremony the boys come together to sing the songs of their clans. Their heads have already been shaved in preparation for the initiation ritual itself. At dawn, they are collected by their parents and taken to where the ceremony will take place. After receiving a blessing, the boys take their places in a row, sitting cross-legged, the rising sun behind their backs. As the initiator comes to each boy in turn, he calls out the names of his ancestors. The initiator clasps the crown of the boy’s head firmly and spins it past the blade of an extremely sharp knife. After the first cut, the initiator makes the second and third, etc., whatever the clan pattern of scars might be. The cuts are deep, in fact skulls have been found that have the scars visible on the bony forehead. The initiate, psyched up by a night of clan song-singing, looks straight ahead and continues to recite the names of his ancestors.

This is the moment he has been waiting for; when he joins the ranks of the warriors and puts aside the lowly status of boyhood and the demeaning chores it represents, and takes on the status of warrior, with all the privileges and honour this brings. His initiation scars declare him to be a warrior and a man, and therefore brave and proud. To flinch or scream during the initiation ritual would be to deny his own courage and therefore to disgrace his family and his ancestors. A kink in his initiation scars would brand him a coward, visible for all to see.

When all initiates have been ritually scarred, their fathers wipe the blood from their sons’ eyes and mouths, then wrap a broad leaf around their foreheads. Initiation scars mean that a man is able to marry – the parapuol may now begin to court eligible girls. The boys are presented with a spear, a club and a shield – necessary accoutrements of a warrior. There is great rejoicing within the group, with singing and dancing going on for several days. After his initiation, a parapuol is given an oxen, his “song oxen”. It is his most precious possession and he will lavish care on it, even to the extent of delicately training its horns into unusual, often asymmetrical, shapes.(http://www.ptc.nsw.edu.au/scansw/dinka.htm)

Girls learn to cook, but boys do not. Cooking is done outdoors in pots over a stone hearth. Men depend upon women for several aspects of their life, but likewise the division of labor assigns certain functions to the men, such as fishing and herding, and the periodic hunting. After initiation to adulthood, the social spheres of the genders overlap very little. The basic food is a heavy millet porridge, eaten with milk or with a vegetable and spice sauce. Milk itself, in various forms, is also a primary food.

The Dinka wear few clothes, particularly in their own village. Adult men may be totally nude except for beads around the neck or wrist. The women commonly wear only goatskin skirts, but unmarried adolescent girls will typically be nude. Clothes are becoming more common. Some men will be seen in the long Muslim robe or short coat. They own very few material possessions of any kind.

Personal grooming and decoration are valued. The Dinka rub their bodies with oil made by boiling butter. They cut decorative designs into their skin. They remove some teeth for beauty and wear dung ash to repel mosquitoes. Men dye their hair red with cow urine, while women shave their hair and eyebrows, but leave a knot of hair on top of the head.

The major influence formerly was exercised by “chiefs of the fishing spears” or “spear masters.” This elite group provided health through mystical power. Their role has been eradicated due to changes brought about by British rule and the modern world. Their society is egalitarian, with no class system. All people, wealthy or poor, are expected to contribute to the common good.

The primary art forms are poetry and song. There are certain types of songs for different types of activities of life, like festive occasions, field work, preparation for war and initiation ceremonies. History and social identity are taught and preserved through songs. They sing praise songs to their ancestors and the living. Songs are even used ritually in competition to resolve a quarrel in a legal sense. Women also make pottery and weave baskets and mats. Men are blacksmiths, making all sorts of implements.

The Dinka lifestyle centres on their cattle: the people’s roles within the groups, their belief systems and the rituals they practice, all reflect this. Cattle give milk (butter and ghee), urine is used in washing, to dye hair and in tanning hides. Dung fuels fires from which ash is used to keep the cattle clean and free from blood-sucking ticks, to decorate the Dinka themselves (body art), and as a paste to clean teeth. While cattle are not killed for meat, if one dies or is sacrificed, the meat is eaten and the hide cured. Skins are used for mats and drum skins, and belts, ropes and halters are also made from it. Horns and bones are used for a range of practical and aesthetic items.

Religion: The Dinka believe in a universal single God, whom they call Nhialac. They believe Nhialac is the creator and source of life but is distant from human affairs. Humans contact Nhialac through spiritual intermediaries and entities called yath and jak which can be manipulated by various rituals. These rituals are administered by diviners and healers. They believe that the spirits of the departed become part of the spiritual sphere of this life. They have rejected attempts to convert them to Islam, but have been somewhat open to Christian missionaries. Cattle have a religious significance. They are the first choice as an animal of sacrifice, though sheep may be sacrificed as a substitute on occasion. Sacrifices may be made to yath and jak, since Nhialac is too distant for direct contact with humans.

ABOUT SAHARAN VIBE

Welcome! Karibuni! Isibingelelo! Kushe! Akwaba! to Saharan Vibe. The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it. Saharan vibe will strive to be your source on all that is African bringing African news to a global audience. From Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope, Africa encompasses 53 nations, nearly a billion people and more than 800 distinct ethnic groups. From the arts, the culture, entertainment, politics join me on a safari as we explore a remarkable people and their distinctive way of life and in the celebration of African life.

SAHARAN VIBE: DINKA OF SUDAN.

Ancient Babylonian poems online: Readings heard for first time in 2000 years

Scholars have rediscovered how to speak the language of the King Of Babylon,

Scholars have rediscovered how to speak the language of the King Of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar

The ancient language of Babylonian can be heard for the first time in almost 2,000 years after Cambridge University scholars posted readings and poems online.


Babylonian, one of the chief languages of Ancient Mesopotamia, dates back as far as the second millennium BC but died out around 2,000 years ago.


However, Cambridge historians have resurrected the ancient tongue by discovering how the language was pronounced and spoken.


Researchers have now recorded readings of ancient tablets, poems and laws, and posted them online.


The project is the brainchild of Dr Martin Worthington, of the University of Cambridge, who described uncovering the pronunciation as ‘detective work’.


These tablets have not been read aloud for over 2,000 years and working out how Babylonian was pronounced required detailed forensic investigation.


Researchers studied letter combinations and spelling patterns as well as transcriptions into other ‘known’ languages to unlock the key to the language.


Dr Worthington said: ‘Whenever I tell people what I do, the first question they ask is what did Babylonian sound like, and how do you know? It’s essentially detective work.


‘We will never know for sure that a Babylonian would have approved of our attempts at pronunciation, but by looking at the original sources closely, we can make a pretty good guess.


‘In the end I decided that the best thing to do would be to create a resource where people can listen to it for themselves.


‘I also wanted to dispel some long-standing myths. Many people think that the further you go back in history, the less you know about it.


‘In fact, we have masses of information about the Babylonians.’

Dr Worthington has released 30 recordings including excerpts from some of the earliest works of literature known to man.

A clay tablet known as the Jursa tablet

A clay tablet known as the Jursa tablet that proves the existence of a Babylonian official in the Bible


These texts were taken from cuneiform inscriptions found on clay tablets in Mesopotamia, which comprises Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.


These include the Epic of Gilgamesh and also documents including the Codex Hammurabi, an ancient law code dating from 1790BC.


Dr Worthington hopes that when listeners hear the sound of Babylonian they will be encouraged to study the language further.


He said: ‘In many cases these stories are the equivalent of Old English tales like Beowulf.


‘Through them, we meet gods, giants, monsters and all sorts of other weird and wonderful creatures. As stories they are amazing fun.’


The collection of Babylonian readings is available to listen to for free at: www.speechisfire.com

Ancient Babylonian poems online: Readings heard for first time in 2k years | Mail Online.

Bronze Age teenager buried at Stonehenge had travelled to visit site from the Mediterranean

By DAVID DERBYSHIRE

Foreign visitor: A boy, aged 14 or 15, who travelled to Britain from Spain, Italy, Greece or France, was found buried at Stonehenge

A million visitors from around the world flock to Stonehenge every year. But the monument’s status as an international attraction is nothing new.

Yesterday scientists said the stones were attracting overseas tourists thousands of years ago – after discovering that a Bronze Age teenage boy buried there around 1550BC grew up in the Mediterranean.

The boy – aged 14 or 15 – had travelled to Britain from Spain, Italy, Greece or France, crossing the English Channel in a primitive wooden boat, they said.

He was placed in a simple grave alongside an amber necklace just a mile from the stone circle.

Known as the Boy in the Amber Necklace, his is the third burial site of a foreigner discovered at the World Heritage site in the past few years.

The finds raise the intriguing possibility that Stonehenge was attracting tourists and pilgrims from across the globe thousands of years ago.

Archaeologists have previously shown that the Amesbury Archer – a man buried with a treasure trove of copper and gold and discovered in 2002 – was born in the Alps.

They also believe that the Boscombe Bowmen – a group of seven men, women and children found the following year – originated from Wales, the Lake District or Brittany.

Professor Jane Evans, who traces the birthplace of Bronze Age skeletons using a chemical analysis of teeth, believes the visitors were travelling to Britain specifically to see Stonehenge.

‘If you went to Westminster Abbey today and looked at the people buried there, how many are Londoners?

‘I don’t think many because the great, the good and famous are buried at Westminster Abbey,’ said Prof Evans of the British Geological Survey.

The boy’s skeleton was discovered in 2002 at Stonehenge. Today scientists revealed that he must have been born and brought up in the Mediterranean

‘Stonehenge in a similar way is obviously a very important place and people from all sorts of origins came to Stonehenge and were buried there.’

The boy’s virtually intact skeleton was discovered at Boscombe Down, a mile from Stonehenge, by Wessex Archaeology during a housing development.

The remains were radiocarbon dated to around 1550BC – a time when the monument was already more than 1,500 years old.

Prof Evans said: ‘He’s about 14 to 15 years old and he’s buried with this beautiful necklace. From the position of his burial, his age, and this necklace, it suggests he’s a person of significant status and importance.’

She used a slither of tooth enamel the size of a nail clipping to trace his origins.

The amber beads that were found buried by his side more than 3,500 years ago

By analysing the ratio of two different forms – or isotopes – of oxygen, the professor found that the boy came from a warmer climate.

And an isotopic comparison of the mineral strontium, which is absorbed by the body from plants, revealed that he was born and grew up in the Mediterranean.

The boy’s grave was alongside dozens of other graves at the site but it was the only one that was not from Britain

In contrast, the Amesbury Archer, who was buried 1,000 years earlier, was most likely to have been raised in the Alpine foothills of Germany, Prof Evans said.

Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology, said: ‘Archaeologists for a long time have been fighting the idea that there was any migration going on at this time.

‘But, clearly, there were individuals moving across huge distances.’

The Boy with the Amber Necklace was found alongside dozens of other graves.

However, all other skeletons studied so far at the site were raised in Britain. Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, of Wessex Archaeology, said: ‘We don’t know why these people made these long journeys.

‘It’s possible they were coming to visit Stonehenge but we know people had been travelling great distances for thousands of years for trade and exploration.’

Stonehenge was built by early Bronze Age farmers – who lived in homes made of wooden stakes, twigs, chalk and clay – in stages between 3000BC and 2400BC.

It was actively used for at least another 1,000 years.

Bronze Age teenager buried at Stonehenge had travelled to visit site from the Mediterranean | Mail Online.