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Stone Age Mass Graves Reveal Green Sahara

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago

Earth 305

iminplaya sends along a New Scientist article that begins: "One of the driest deserts in the world, the Saharan Tenere Desert, hosted at least two flourishing lakeside populations during the Stone Age, a discovery of the largest graveyard from the era reveals. The archaeological site in Niger [is] called Gobero... It had been used as a burial site by two very different populations during the millennia when the Sahara was lush... 'The first people who used the Gobero cemetery were Kiffian, hunter-gatherers who grew up to two meters tall,' says Elena Garcea of the University of Cassino in Italy and one of the scientists on the team. The large stature of the Kiffian suggests that food was plentiful during their time in Gobero, 10,000 to 8,000 years ago... All traces of the Kiffian vanish abruptly around 8,000 years ago, when the Sahara became very dry for a thousand years. When the rains returned, a different population, the Tenerians, who were of a shorter and more gracile build, based themselves at this site... 'The most amazing find so far is a grave with a female and two children hugging each other. They were carefully arranged in this position. This strongly indicated they had spiritual beliefs and cared for their dead,' says Garcea." The research article is at PLoS One.

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Obviously, camel farts caused eco-damage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24629657)

No, wait, the camels came after the desert. Never mind.

Water = civilization (5, Insightful)

pieterh (196118) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629661)

Isn't the history of civilization generally based around water for animals, agriculture, transport, industry?

Maybe time to start treating our seas with respect. I was on a beach in Togo last week and every day the ocean washes up plastic bags.

Re:Water = civilization (5, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629897)

Isn't the history of civilization generally based around water for animals, agriculture, transport, industry?

Yup. In the United States, around 53% of the population lives near the coast[.] [oceansatlas.org] Also, look at any map and notice how many major cities are right on major rivers.

Maybe time to start treating our seas with respect.

I hope we do, though right now I'm pessimistic. See this [sciencedaily.com]

Re:Water = civilization (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630099)

I was on a beach in Togo last week and every day the ocean washes up plastic bags.

They're probably the same plastic bags you threw out ten years ago. Please pick up your trash.

Re:Water = civilization (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630235)

Maybe time to start treating our seas with respect. I was on a beach in Togo last week and every day the ocean washes up plastic bags.

You mean like, maybe, let's not start drilling for oil off the Florida coast? Hello? Charlie Crist? Barrack Obama? George Bush? John McCain? You guys listening at all?

Re:Water = civilization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630659)

I think of the bags on the beach as a form of man's artwork, rather than try to control what should be based on some mythical past of "nature". The bags represent the superb progress man has achieved. It's all in the way you look at it, either as a positive, sharing person, or as a dictatorial tyrant bent on imposing incorrect views on others. Man is a subpart of nature and the bags are also...thanks bag droppers for painting a new picture of the beach for us.

Re:Water = civilization (4, Informative)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630691)

The salt water isn't nearly as important as fresh water. The oceans only provide seafood, fresh water is necessary for most agriculture and industry. It is also necessary for most terrestrial animal life, including humans.

not too surprising (4, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629697)

I thought it was fairly common knowledge that the Sahara used to be a very lush and fertile plain between 10-15k years ago. Or at least that's what I was taught 15 years ago. Still, nice to find anthropological and archeological evidence of the people that lived there.

Re:not too surprising (5, Informative)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629861)

Not all of the Sahara. Only a portion of it; and the boundaries are rather vague and unknown. Plus, while there's plenty of speculation that the Sahara was green, things like migration and movement of people through the area is unknown. Until now. This gives a whole lot of information. Well, two really important data points, at least.

Re:not too surprising (5, Informative)

DI Rebus (1342829) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630221)

Jeesus. Those of us who studied history know that the Sahara could be crossed on horseback as late as the 4th Century AD, if you knew where the wells were.

Re:not too surprising (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630463)

You don't need to go back very far.
The Romans didn't build stuff like this in a desert.
El Jem was a verdant hub of agricultural life.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Tunisias_Match_for_Romes_Colosseum_in_El_Jem

Global Warming (2, Funny)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629731)

Were their shamans just as convincing arguing for less water use and building smaller huts to prevent the climate-changes?

Re:Global Warming (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24629757)

No, but not unlike modern GW proponents, many of them did advocate sacrificing a goat to stop global warming.

Re:Global Warming (3, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629951)

No, but not unlike modern GW[Bush] proponents, many of them did advocate sacrificing a goat to stop global warming.

I've corrected your grammar.

Re:Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630663)

Wrong. I said GW guys advocated sacrificing goats, not advocated sacrificing babies like the other GW guys.

This what happened. (5, Funny)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629869)

Were their shamans just as convincing arguing for less water use and building smaller huts to prevent the climate-changes?

No, but their chief, Chief Bush, was totally responsible for suppressing the data from the bones and tea leaves that it was happening. Then Chief Bush, along with the paleo-cons started bogus wars with tribes in Mesopotamia and with the Persians in order to promote chiefocracy. But the people eventually saw through the paleo-con lie that it was and realized that it was just a war to secure grain supplies.

In the meantime, a former chief, Gor, showed the populous cave paintings that would show what would happen if they didn't change their wasteful ways.

Really, that's the way it happened.

Re:This what happened. (0)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630003)

You Sir are a Master. I stand in awe.

Re:This what happened. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630081)

He is supposed to have said, "Verily, thou either marchest with us, or thou dost marchest with the Hittites".

Re:This what happened. (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630315)

I just would like to point out the parody here. The people that the term Paleo-con applies to today are not the ones responsible for the Iraq war and the erosion of your constitutional rights. Those would be the Neo-Cons. Paleo-Cons are people like Buchanan and Paul who condemned the war and the Patriot Act from the start.

Re:This what happened. (0, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630561)

Paleo-Cons are people like Buchanan and Paul who condemned the war and the Patriot Act from the start.

Buchanan is a nut who for a while had a following sufficient to gain some influence over the Republican Party, until everyone finally had had enough of his complete and utter insanity and collectively decided it was better to ignore him.

Paul is a Libertarian, and therefore, by definition, in a constant state of "full retard".

Holy Shit! (1)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630567)

There is such a thing as Paleocon [wikipedia.org]

And here I was thinking I was being clever!

Re:This what happened. (2, Informative)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630373)

The same Gore who owns the very Eco-credit company he 'buys credits' from? The Gore who uses over 10x more electricity to run his mansion than any of us use in a year?

The Gore who can't seem to figure out that the vast majority of carbon released in the world is from natural causes we have no control over?

Yeah, Gore's a genius. Geez. He figured out how to cash in on the eco-craze.

Question: Sapiens or ??? (4, Interesting)

drjohnretired (1345973) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629751)

The description of the Kiffian, robust versus gracile, and the skull with heavy brow ridges looks like the neandertal versus sapiens distinction but the dates are far later than the neandertal range. With this article flooding the searches, I can find little other description of the Kiffians.

Re:Question: Sapiens or ??? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629889)

I don't think so. Sounds more like the Tutsi vs. the Pygmy.

Re:Question: Sapiens or ??? (4, Interesting)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630001)

You know, it's kind of interesting.... paleobiologists tend to focus a lot on eating habits, because teeth are commonly found fossils, and they show you insight into diet and behavior. They totally devided the Kiffians and the Tenerians into a sort of carnivore/herbivore classification. Lacking other data, and going only by the fossil record, this is about the best they can do. Interesting viewpoint to approach archeaology from. Also, the Kiffians may simply not be much in the record. Dr. Sereno (and the University of Chicago in general) has a tendency to not be interested in a project unless it's completely ground breaking and opens up a new area of research. I would bet he wouldn't have gone back for the dig at all unless he did a fair bit of research and confirmed that not only was it green sahara, but that there was essentially nothing on the record about the Kiffians.

Beware (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24629753)

A nigger bit off my penis.

Re:Beware (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24629775)

A nigger bit off my penis.

And it wasn't even enough to feed an Ethiopian

Fuck shit piss cunt (-1, Troll)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629765)

COCK

Since I keep getting arbitrarily downmodded all the time anyway, it clearly doesn't matter what I post. Might as well start spamming inane shit like this.

HEY LOOK AT THIS EVERYONE! [goatse.cz]

Re:Fuck shit piss cunt (0, Troll)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629805)

You could go tell your mom that you are getting angry at the internets again.

Re:Fuck shit piss cunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630239)

Thank you for not posting anonymously. *adds to foe list*

Re:Fuck shit piss cunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630241)

oh so you are that AC that is always posting that shit....

spiritual beliefs? (4, Insightful)

techmuse (160085) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629777)

Why does this imply spiritual beliefs? Maybe they just felt comfortable with the idea of being buried in the arms of someone they cared about.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629877)

Care = spiritual.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

Warll (1211492) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629905)

So if someone does not profess to be a member of a faith they are really cold hearted bastards?

Re:spiritual beliefs? (2, Insightful)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630121)

No. Other way 'round. These days, if you do profess membership in some faith, you're a cold-hearted bastard.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

Warll (1211492) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630169)

I'm a Christian you insensitive-cold-hearted-clod!

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630245)

I'm with you buddy, you fellow insensitive-cold-hearted-clod!

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630135)

No, but look at it, just about every atheist in this world has been exposed to some religion be it with the media, general talk, or just how society acts. Without any hint of spirituality we would be more like animals and have no reason to be different.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630781)

This is a typical argument that has been disproven time and again. "Atheists would all be murdering baby-rapers if they weren't surrounded by good God-fearing theists." Utter claptrap. Any objective study of religion will show that if anything, religion causes much of the inhuman behavior we see in the world, and is no moral model for anyone.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630305)

Humanism is also a form of faith--though it is faith in the goodness or worth of fellow human beings with no need to call on the supernatural.

Unfortunately, it's a faith that my cynicism has denied me.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (2, Insightful)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629931)

Spiritual == Care (but looking at religious people today it's hard to believe)

Care != Spiritual (believe it or not, Athiests, Agnostics and the like DO feel love!)

Re:spiritual beliefs? (2, Interesting)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629961)

"Athiesm" only refers to disbelief in the Christian God - believe it or not, an Athiest can still be a very spiritual person.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (5, Informative)

Bane1998 (894327) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630055)

"Athiesm" only refers to disbelief in the Christian God - believe it or not, an Athiest can still be a very spiritual person.

Uhh, where do you get that, exactly? Have you looked up the word atheist in the dictionary? And it's spelled Atheist. Perhaps you were pointing that out by how you quoted your parent.

Perhaps you are confused with agnosticism. Atheists do not believe in any deity, Christian or otherwise. An agnostic believes it is unknown, undefined. Maybe even believes there's 'something' out there, but doesn't know what, and so rejects organized religion.

To claim Atheism is tied specifically to Christianity... is actually a bit offensive. Perhaps like saying Christianity is defined as simply denial of pagan beliefs.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (2, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630075)

No, "atheism" refers to believing that there are no god or gods.

You are correct that an atheist can still be a spiritual person, both in the more typical interpretation of "spiritual" and in the more general sense. However, it has nothing to do with the Christian god specifically.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630465)

I disagree. I don't think any valid atheism could allow for "spirituality."

Re:spiritual beliefs? (4, Insightful)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630141)

No it doesn't, Atheism refers to the disbelief in god or gods of any description. Hence Buddhists, for example, are atheist.

While that is its truest sense, it is usually followed up with a disbelief of mystical, spiritual, religious or any of the labels people use to categorise 'knowledge' which has no evidence in its favour. Rare is the atheist who rejects god only to move on and accept 'spirituality' and I suspect the breed is confined to America where evolved camouflage is necessary to avoid predatory evangelicals. I would even argue that the initial presentation of atheism in its strictest sense is somewhat misleading.

Incidentally, as an atheist, I would recommend the book "A Very Short Introduction to Atheism" [amazon.co.uk] for those who are atheist, think they might be or, god forbid, might actually want to understand their neighbour. The same series, incidentally, has very good books on everything from particle physics to Islam.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (2, Interesting)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630571)

Incidentally, as an atheist, I would recommend the book "A Very Short Introduction to Atheism" for those who are atheist, think they might be or, god forbid, might actually want to understand their neighbour.

(emphasis mine)

Now, it seems to me that, intentional irony or not, someone who claims to be an atheist and uses the term "god forbid" loses some credibility. Those two words actually diluted your previous, quite insightful argument.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (4, Insightful)

multisync (218450) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630747)

Now, it seems to me that, intentional irony or not, someone who claims to be an atheist and uses the term "god forbid" loses some credibility.

BS. I used the term "voila" the other night when I served dinner. Doesn't make me a Frenchman.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (3, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630223)

"Athiesm" only refers to disbelief in the Christian God - believe it or not, an Athiest can still be a very spiritual person.

Hmm, you're on a roll today. Again, the dictionary disagrees with you:

Atheism - Noun, absence of belief in deities.

I've heard valid arguments that it applies to a lack of belief in the supernatural, versus it applying to a lack of belief only in deities/gods. Using the latter, somewhat accepted definition, atheists can be spiritual, and I imagine a significant number of people who self identify with that title are. Using the former definition, they could not be. I've seen a number of sociological studies now that allow people to identify into the category of "spiritual, but not religious" and people do choose that option, people who do not choose "athiest."

Re:spiritual beliefs? (3, Insightful)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630041)

Spiritual != Religion

It is possible for Atheists and Agnostics to be spiritual without having religion.

Caring and spirituality as synonymous in this sense.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630105)

I take spiritual as being belief in spirits, i.e. belief in the existence of non-physical things. I suppose an Atheist might believe in ghosts or some sort of "gaia" junk, since that doesn't explicity require belief in God, but such people require the very same "faith" any Christian or Muslim requires. It could just be a conflict of definitions, but as far as I'm concerned, believing in Gaia theory or Ghosts or ESP, etc.. is synonymous with Religion.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (3, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630389)

Non-believers or 'skeptics' as they call themselves (a term I despise since there are many skeptical believers too) also spend their lives living in faith of what they perceive. Faith in their senses not to lie to them. Faith in the consistency and research of others, faith that the universe around them exhibits behaviours that are testable.

This faith may not be unfounded, but to call it anything else is silliness since no one person could ever claim to have lived their lives thoroughly testing every belief they live by.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

prelelat (201821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630401)

thank you.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (3, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630115)

Care = spiritual.

Technically, spiritual refers to a belief in spirits or souls. The definition is:

Spiritual, adj. - of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things; of or relating to religion or religious belief

Care is not a synonym in the general use, nor do I think it applies in this usage. The implication is that because they buried bodies in a particular way, they had some belief, or potential belief in a resurrection or life after death, because otherwise, why bother arranging corpses in any way?

I don't think that implication is ironclad. For all we know they buried them alive and they simply died in that posture, or these people had no belief in an afterlife, but enjoyed arranging corpses as an art form. Still, spiritual beliefs are the most likely sounding explanation to me.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (3, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630301)

The implication is that because they buried bodies in a particular way, they had some belief, or potential belief in a resurrection or life after death, because otherwise, why bother arranging corpses in any way?

I don't think that implication is ironclad.

I think you'd be right. Burial or crematory (or whatever death rites) practises are for the living. Yeah, sure, there's a sanitary aspect to it and you don't want the local carnivores (who'll scavenge when available) developing a taste for human meat, but regardless of "religious" beliefs or disbeliefs, there's a little part of everyone that isn't really convinced that death is the end, whatever may come after. So you do nice things like arranging corpses "the way they would have wanted it" partly to respect their memories, and partly in the hope that somebody does something nice for you when you're gone. Doesn't mean you really think that they're out there somewhere watching, or that the position will have some apres vie meaning.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

Thomasje (709120) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630533)

For all we know they buried them alive and they simply died in that posture, or these people had no belief in an afterlife, but enjoyed arranging corpses as an art form. Still, spiritual beliefs are the most likely sounding explanation to me.

"Most likely"?
I'm an atheist, have been all my life. Yet, I was always nice to my teddy bear. It's not like I believe that the thing is alive, has feelings, has a soul, or anything like that... but still, even today, I'll make sure that it sits in a comfortable spot.
When someone I care about dies, their mortal remains are no more capable of suffering than my inanimate teddy bear, and yet, I'll do my best to give them a decent funeral. Why? Because it feels wrong not to, that's all.
To assume that there is anything spiritual going on in situations like that is facile at best. I believe there is a simply psychological explanation for these phenomena: all of us who aren't pathologists or undertakers spend almost all of our lives interacting with the living. When we see a dead person, or a doll, what jumps out at us is *not* that they are dead, but rather, how much they are like the living; in the case of the dead, we have to bury or cremate them because things will get pretty nasty pretty soon if we don't, but *still*, we don't just casually toss them into a hole in the ground or into a furnace... we dress them up nice, and we move and position them *gently*... Because that's how we treat people in general.
Just because someone's dead is no reason to be mean to them, that's all.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630729)

Because that's how we treat people in general.

Just because someone's dead is no reason to be mean to them, that's all.

Thanks for articulating that point of view. As an atheist, I have always had a hard time explaining how I deal with things like death. "It just feels like the right thing to do." is a little thin as an explanation. Tying it to how we treat the living makes perfect sense.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630451)

I think you're pushing it a bit there. Kin group selection can account for care also. And spirituality can be aggressive, as was often the case with hunter societies. Belief in gods of hunt and war and the like.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630715)

Care = spiritual

Not for everyone. For some people, caring for others is the height of humanism.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (4, Insightful)

umbra_dweller (797279) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629927)

It doesn't necessarily imply complex spirituality on the order of modern religion, but it means that the people who buried them saw them as something other than sacks of meat, that they felt some connection to people even after death - a trait which not all animals share.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (2, Interesting)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630091)

Viewing people as entities that are meaningful after their death (and thus are buried as a rite or ritual and not simply as a sanitary measure) is spirituality.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630109)

Because without spirituality, when you are dead. You are dead. Whether it be in the ocean, on a throne, wherever you might be. Even then, why bury the dead? It obviously wasn't for sanitary reasons, it wasn't for ease of taking care of a dead body. Most likely it would be because of some spiritual belief.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630599)

Why is it obvious that it wasn't for sanitary reasons?

Having a built-in reverence/respect/fear for dead bodies, and handling them carefully and then isolating them from the living is a pretty good policy from a survival perspective, and it looks an awful lot like spirituality.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630785)

Because 8000ish years ago we didn't know anything about sanitary things.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630117)

Maybe they were buried alive, and she was just hugging her children.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (3, Informative)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630199)

In archaeology, "spritual" == "no other explanation".

I mean really, every other artifact that they dig up that doesn't immediately have an obvious purpose is a "ritual object" of some "spiritual significance".

Re:spiritual beliefs? (2, Interesting)

kklein (900361) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630229)

My first thought was human sacrifice. Buried alive.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (3, Informative)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630267)

The assumption is, if somebody did something special for a person that was already dead, they probably believed that some part of that person was 'still around' to appreciate it - else why go to the extra bother.
      It's not invariably true - for example we probably try to honor people's last will and testaments as much for the peace of mind it brings them while they are still alive as for any other reason. This burial could arguably have been done just to give the deceased's survivors a mental image that alleviated some of their sorrow, with no real expectation beyond that.
        Many prehistoric cultures have done more than just arranging the dead though, such as burying 'killed' tools with them. This goes back to at least some Neanderthal sites in the range of 60 - 65,000 BC, also shows up in some of our direct ancestors, and some particular symbolic rituals span roughly 50,000 years, making them part of what was probably by far the longest continuous religious system ever. One of the roughly 60,000 year old Neanderthal sites involved the burial of a young girl, about 5 or 6. Her corpse was laid on a sort of rug made of woven flowers, and carefully equipped with bone needles, a waterskin, spools of sinew, flint knapping stones, shell jewelry, and clothing in various sizes from hers at time of death to items which would have fit her fully grown. Many of the items showed signs of being neatly broken or damaged in a ritualistic fashion, as though to send them with her by some form of sympathetic magic.
      If the article's writer is inferring spiritual beliefs just from the position of the corpses, they may well be in error, but if this is the opinion of the research anthropologists, they have probably noticed enough similarities to other sites to be confident it's part of the same cultural context.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630393)

I was just about to post the same thing on seeing that in the article. This isn't suggested at all -- not any more than a child playing with dolls proves spirituality. A desire to nurture or sentimentality does NOT in any way prove spirituality.

Archaeologists always seem to be inferring spirituality on ancients. However, humans today are mostly not that spiritual -- they are a pretty selfish, material greedy bunch, and I don't really believe that humans have got worse (or much better admittedly, though we have renamed slavery "outsourcing").

Re:spiritual beliefs? (2, Informative)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630495)

Did you see the photos? They weren't simply buried in each others' arms; they were placed in a really complex way with fingers intertwined and stuff. The mother and children site is really touching and sad to see. Whoever buried them wanted them to be together. If you take a look at the photos, you'll see what I mean. Somebody was wanting these three to be together, even though they were already dead. That's compared to the other society, which buried their dead as if the dead were in burlap sacks. The other society was like 'oh, this person's dead; put them in a sack and toss them in a ditch and get rid of the body". Very different behavior.

Re:spiritual beliefs? (0, Troll)

multisync (218450) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630673)

Yeah, I found this quote to be a bit of a leap:

The most amazing find so far is a grave with a female and two children hugging each other. They were carefully arranged in this position. This strongly indicated they had spiritual beliefs and cared for their dead,' says Garcea.

To me it indicates they had strong secular beliefs and cared for their wives and children. But I guess if you are predisposed to believe something, you start to see it in everything. I think it's called projection. I think the person who made that comment was projecting his world view on this poor, 8000-year-old family who were probably simply arranged that way by a grieving husband and father.

plug for paul sereno (5, Informative)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629843)

First of all, Paul Sereno is awesome. Modern day Indiana Jones, if there ever was one. I had the opportunity to work for him as a Research Assistant, doing fossil reconstruction of some of the other dinosaurs he dug up in Niger.

Interesting tidbits about the guy who led the research:

He left this particular site alone for three years before coming back to it with the appropriate team of people. He commonly does that... goes out in the field, finds something, and leaves it, only to return with the proper team and equipment. He doesn't like to mess up a find, and he'd rather be patient and do a thing right than go for a quick-win and run the risk of screwing something up. He knows how to follow through on super-complex projects better than almost anybody I've ever met before.

His dinosaur laboratory is located across the street from the site of Chicago Pile 1, where the first controlled release of atomic energy occurred, in the racketball court underneath the bleachers of Stagg Stadium. That building, across the street, now know as the Enrico Fermi Institute, holds all sorts of milling equipment, 50 ton hoists, and a "monster garage" that's three stories tall inside. It has all the right equipment to mill graphite into control rods, or hoist dinosaur skeletons onto their scaffolding. It once held the first cyclotron, and they now build dinosaurs and space satellites there. The dino lab is affectionally known as the "Atomic Dino Lab".

He also has a license plate that reads "dinosaur".

All in all, a super cool guy. His class on paleobiology was, hands down, one of the most educational classes I've ever had the opportunity to take. The class was all on phylogenetics and cladistics, with a lab in geostrata and mineral identifications. Who knew?

http://www.paulsereno.org/ [paulsereno.org]
http://www.projectexploration.org/ [projectexploration.org]

Re:plug for paul sereno (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630063)

You wrote something quite interesting and made him sound all great, but then you wrote this:

He also has a license plate that reads "dinosaur".

and you gave away the illusion - the most characters any state plates have is seven, and thus I have to assume that the rest of your story is completely fictitious.

Re:plug for paul sereno (1)

poity (465672) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630321)

maybe it's one of those orange fruit Florida plates that also enabled the now e-famous A55 RGY plate.

Re:plug for paul sereno (1)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630327)

well, it was probably "dinosr" or "dinosor" or some other variation, it was like 10 years ago. and i felt bad as soon as i wrote that anyhow, as it's a bit too much personal info. shouldn't have mentioned that. you're right about the 7 character limit, but wrong about the rest of the story being fictitious.

Re:plug for paul sereno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630437)

I was just having a bit of fun about the plates, though I suppose without hearing an inflection one could fairly interpret my post as serious skepticism.

As for mentioning the plates, that's usually extremely far from the worst security gaffe someone has in their life. I wouldn't worry about it, especially as you got it (somewhat) wrong.

Re:plug for paul sereno (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630479)

And some day, something in 1 of his classes, might actually be useful. Archeology and Paleontology, along with Philosophy, are the biggest masturbation degrees ever.

Re:plug for paul sereno (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630619)

Haven't you heard? Masturbation can be fun.

Re:plug for paul sereno (4, Interesting)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630701)

I know you're just trolling for kicks, but the stuff on phylogenetics and cladistics turned out to be extremely useful, and I've wound up using it all the time since.

If you've ever worked with binary trees, file systems, or any other type of tree data structure, you're working with tree models, which cladistics is the study of. Phylogenetics is the study of how to take observations of things, markup meta data, and then organize those observations into tree structures. Think when you take a bunch of digital photographs, add meta data to the images when you upload them to your computer, and then try to figure out which pictures should be sorted into which directories. That's a phylogenetic process. Cladistics is figuring out which directories you should have in the first place, which ones should be the root directories, and so forth. ie. Should /home be located in the root directory, the /usr director, or somewhere else? Where should /share be located? Do we need an /opt directory, or can we just use /tmp? Those kinds of questions are cladistic questions, and I wind up using them all the time.

And then there's all the stuff about evolution, and learning about natural selection and mutation and extinction and stuff. I won't get into that.

But it was actually pretty useful stuff, and I've been surprised at the number of places that knowledge has come in useful. Particularly in the areas of data analysis, structure, and storage.

Re:plug for paul sereno (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630565)

First of all, Paul Sereno is awesome. Modern day Indiana Jones, if there ever was one.

Ooh, sounds exciting!

He commonly does that... goes out in the field, finds something, and leaves it, only to return with the proper team and equipment.

Wow, just like in Indiana Jones and the Patiently Waiting Tomb Hunters. That montage scene when five years went by as Professor Jones assembled his team was incredible!

Re:plug for paul sereno (3, Funny)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630643)

Modern day Indiana Jones, if there ever was one... His dinosaur laboratory is located across the street from the site of Chicago Pile 1, where the first controlled release of atomic energy occurred

So did he survive the atomic blast in a refrigerator?

/. still got it (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630697)

Some science news gets posted, and a commentor or two pop up saying something along the line of "hey, I know that dudette, I worked with her on this and that. And here some more stuff related to this..."

What other sites have such audience, eh?!

Not that I can vouch for these comments, you understand, but these seem to happen with some regularity here.

Global Warming is NOT a crisis - John McCain (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24629845)

"countries don't invade sovereign nations" -- John McCain, 2008

( song to the tune of Bobby Brown by Frank Zappa)

Hey, there, people Iâ(TM)m John McCain
They say Iâ(TM)ve never been insane
My car is fast, my teeth is shiney
I tell all the my voters they can kiss my heinie

Here I am at a famous school
Im dressin sharp n im
Actin cool
I got a country here wants help with their paper
Let âem do all the work n maybe later Ill rape her

Oh God I am the american dream
I do not think Im too extreme
An Im a handsome sonofabitch
Get a political job n be real rich

(get a good
Get a good
Get a good
Get a good job)

Fake constitutional democracy
Came creepin across the nation
I tell you people it was more than an orgy
When I fucked this politician by the name of Georgie

He made a little speech then,
Aw, he tried to make me say when
He had my past in a vice, but he left my grades
I guess there still in the records, but my memory fades

Oh God I am the american dream
But now I smell like vaseline
An Im a miserable sonofabitch
Am I a senator or criminal..i dont know which

(I wonder wonder
Wonder wonder)

So I went out n bought me a leisure suit
I jingle my change, but Im still kinda cute
Got a job doin Republican shows
Basically, all my friends thatâ(TM)s how it goes

Eventually me n a friend
Sorta drifted along into s&m
I can take about an hour on with Bush in the shower
But Iâ(TM)ve discovered it pushes my rating lower.

Oh God I am the american dream
With a spindle up my butt till it makes me scream
An Ill do anything to ahead forge
I lay awake nights sayin, thank you, George!

Oh god, oh god, Im so fantastic!
Thanks to Georgie , Im a politcal spastic
And my name is John McCain
Watch me now, Im not insane,
And my name is John McCain
Watch me now, Im not insane.

If you look really close (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629857)

You can just see one of the Mars rovers about two thirds up near the right hand side [plosone.org] .

Oh well (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24629873)

I guess I will wait for Linus' opinion on this one.
I do I agree with him however.

It's obviously the fault of George Bush (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24629985)

that the Sahara is not as lush and green as it used to be.

The One will bring the green back (0, Offtopic)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#24629993)

Too bad. I'm sure we'll hear that the Sahara would still be green except George Bush doesn't care about black people. The desert undoubtedly spread because of global warming (er, I mean "climate change" because you can't sell warming when it's cold -- and scientific consensus is all about marketing for some reason) caused by those evil SUVs of the time.

I hope The One can bring the green back. And future generations will say "... this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal..." [newsweek.com] .

Re:The One will bring the green back (2)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630085)

Or, to put it another way, "This was the moment when global warm.. er... climate (yeah that's it) change Jumped the Shark."

Re:The One will bring the green back (2)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630129)

Amazingly enough, thousands of years ago they must have also had a leader who was simultaneously a bumbling idiot and an evil genius.

We know this because Weather doesn't exist since those secret Tinfoil Weather Control Satellites turned it into Climate Change.

Get ready for your Troll mods (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630187)

Well before this buried by Troll/Flamebait mods (or the more cowardly Offtopic/Overrated) mods.

I have to say this really is the only proper response to this story.
Two days ago I could have modded you Funny, but not now.

Well done.

Spirituality? (2, Insightful)

crontabminusell (995652) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630151)

This strongly indicated they had spiritual beliefs and cared for their dead,' says Garcea.

"Cared for their dead" I get. This "spiritual beliefs" stuff doesn't make sense. What proves any kind of spirituality in this situation? Posing a corpse isn't proof of spirituality, it's just proof that they moved people around after they died.

Re:Spirituality? (2, Insightful)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630379)

if they didn't have any spirituality then a copse would be nothing. they would probably just toss it in a ditch. If they pose a person, then it shows they think their is more to a person then just the body. that the person has a spirit.

Re:Spirituality? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630705)

are you serious?

Just because people don't believe in spirits doesn't mean that they automatically care nothing about the body, I mean hell, they probably didn't know the difference between a "soul" and the body anyway!

Re:Spirituality? (1)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630391)

Well, actually, posing a corpse is exactly what they're submitting as evidence of spiritual belief. Burial is a ritual practice that is generally tied into a concept of afterlife, which is a spiritual belief. Doesn't matter if you believe in a god or gods. What they're describing as spiritual, is a belief in the afterlife. And burial customs are a clue into whether or not you have beliefs about what happens after the grave. If you didn't believe in an afterlife, just leave the people to rot or toss them off in a bush. This find had way too much ritual involved to be that. So it had to have involved a burial ritual of some type.

The Sahara and the Old Kingdom (5, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630167)

This article [sciencemag.org] in Science Magazine indicates that the Sahara was fully formed by 2300 BCE

To me, the timing between that and the rise of the Old Kingdom in Egypt (~ 2600 BCE) is too close to be coincidental. I think we will find that people migrated from sites such Gobero to the Nile, and that precipitated the formation of political organization in Egypt.

Re:The Sahara and the Old Kingdom (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24630639)

That hypothesis is being investigated, and seems a very likely one, according to the article "Pharaohs from the stone age" published in NewScientist 16 Jan 2007.

Terraforming Earth (5, Interesting)

dapyx (665882) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630311)

We should forget about terraforming Mars. We should try to terraform Earth before that. This huge tract of land that is Sahara could be restored with some advanced technology to the greener place it once was. Are there any studies on the possibility of transforming Sahara?

Re:Terraforming Earth (1)

Puffy Director Pants (1242492) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630707)

I think there was something in Battlefield:Earth. Does that count?

Finally! (1)

Puffy Director Pants (1242492) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630679)

The Proof that our industrial society is causing Global Warming! Yes, so it happened thousands of years ago, it's still obviously our fault. We must invent time machines to solve this problem before it gets worse!

two meters ?!? (2, Funny)

kapouer (1215366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24630797)

i bet basket games were quite like nowaday's
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