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calendar   Friday - February 25, 2011

A & R Friday, Part 2

Looks like Peiper had the same idea. Not that there isn’t always room for more.

This is the replacement post. I wasn’t even going to do it. I was going to write about how the Cairo Museum is open again, and how, against all odds, TV personality, martinet, staunch Mubarak supporter, and Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass still has his job. I had neat pictures of tanks in front of the museum, which is right there on the edge of Tahrir Square in Cairo. Pictures of Hawass inside with Egyptian Special Forces guards, rumors of how the museum was used as a police detention and torture center during the protests, links to the ruckus surrounding the looting that went on there and at other archaeological sites around the country, stories about how the people worked with the army and the police to guard as many of these places as they could, quotes from Hawass’ pro-Mubarak speeches. The little glory hound must have unimaginable pull in that country. It’s amazing. Not only did he survive the falling government, but he managed to scrounge up the money to hire 900 new Egyptian archaeology graduates for half a year, followed by 500 more. But the post wouldn’t gel, so finally I just threw it out. I had this one in reserve. Mostly.


A Mile Down Underground River, Ancient Human Skull Found

Skull is older than the end of the last Ice Age;

Rising sea levels flooded Yucatan caves 12,000+ years ago



Swim for miles in the dark, in a labyrinthine cave underground, and then dive further down a giant shaft to nearly 200 feet below sea level? No thanks. But that’s what it takes to find ancient evidence that people went to Cancun ages before there was anything called Spring Break.


image

Deep underground, cave diver puts marker next to ancient human skull. National Geographic photo.



“This is the Holy Grail of underwater cave exploration.”

Explorers have discovered what might be the oldest evidence of humans in the Americas. Alex Alvarez, Franco Attolini, and Alberto (Beto) Nava are members of PET (Projecto Espeleológico de Tulum), an organization that specializes in the exploration and survey of underwater caves on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Alex, Franco and Beto have surveyed tens of thousands of feet of mazelike cave passages in the state of Quintana Roo. The team’s relatively recent explorations of a large pit named Hoyo Negro (Black Hole, in Spanish), deep within a flooded cave, resulted in their breathtaking and once-in-a-lifetime discovery of the remains of an Ice Age mastodon and a human skull at the very bottom of the black abyss.

Hoyo Negro was reached by the PET team after the divers travelled more than 4,000 feet [1,200 meters] through underwater passages using underwater propulsion vehicles, or scooters, which enabled them to cover long distances in the flooded cave system.

Once they reached the pit, they began to survey and document its dimensions. The pit is approximately 200 feet [60 meters] deep and 120 feet [36 meters] in diameter and is located inside the Aktun-Hu cave system in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
...
“The immense size of Hoyo Negro is difficult to comprehend. Once you enter the pit you cannot see the floor below, and all that can be seen in front of you is a black void—an inviting entrance to the abyss, “ recalls Franco.

The team of explorers touched bottom at 197 feet [57 meters], where they made their incredible discovery.

Approximately 12,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, Earth experienced great climatic changes. The melting of the ice caps caused a dramatic rise in global sea levels, which flooded low lying coastal landscapes and cave systems. Many of the subterranean spaces that once provided people and animals with water and shelter became inundated and lost until the advent of cave diving.

image

“The findings of Hoyo Negro are a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. The skull looks pre-Maya, which could make it one of the oldest set of human remains in the area. Gaining an understanding of how this human and these animals entered the site will reveal an immense amount of knowledge from that time.
...
The human found with the megafauna remains in Hoyo Negro could represent the oldest evidence of humans yet discovered in the Americas.

Archaeological and genetic data have long supported a northeast Asia origin for the populations that first settled North and South America. The so-called “First Americans” or Paleoindian peoples likely entered into these new lands sometime between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago.
...
“During the Late Pleistocene, these caves were dry. The first people to occupy what is now the Caribbean coast of Mexico wandered into these caves, where some ultimately met their demise.

“As the last glacial maximum came to end, the melting of the polar ice caps and continental ice sheets raised sea levels worldwide. The caves of the Yucatan Peninsula filled with water and the First Americans were hidden for millennia—only to be discovered by underwater cave explorers

“It is within these dark reaches that cave explorers are discovering and documenting the oldest human skeletons yet found in the Western Hemisphere,” Rissolo said.

Plenty more info and pics at the Nat Geo source.

And if those eyes looked interesting, the “R” part of this “A & R” post is below the fold:

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/25/2011 at 01:46 PM   
Filed Under: • AfricaArcheology / AnthropologyEye-Candy •  
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