Archive for May, 2011



The World’s First Tell-All Book: an Ancient Book Written for Mongol Royalty

By: The Scribe on May, 2011

The actions of Genghis Khan are well known to many people even though he died in 1227 An illustration of the Mongolian ruler Genghis KhanCE. He was known both as a brutal warrior and the builder of the Mongol Empire, an empire that was one of the largest in the ancient world. He was a man of contrasts. On one hand, he slaughtered entire civilizations and exacted brutal revenge on anyone who wronged or betrayed him. On the other hand, he was also known for uniting the Mongolian tribes and turning them into an efficient and deadly army. When he was not laying siege to his enemies, he worked on developing a unified Mongolian language and other elements of Mongolian culture.

Because of the mobile nature of the Mongolian people, there is not a lot of archaeological evidence left that can tell us about Genghis and his exploits. There was, however, one book that included many details about Genghis, his family history, and the activities that led to the creation and spread of the Mongol empire.

The book is titled The Secret History of the Mongols and it was written after the death of Genghis Khan in 1227 CE. The name of the author is unknown. The book was originally written for the Mongol royal family and was not intended to be read by anyone outside this family. It not only provides valuable information about the activities of Genghis it also serves as an excellent example of the Mongolian language. It is the earliest known work that was written in the Mongolian language.

The book is not strictly factual. It also contains a genealogy of the family that is more mythical than factual. There are other areas of the book that are more folklore than fact. It does, however, include valuable information about Genghis’ childhood, his rise to power and defeat of the other tribes, and the campaigns that he led outside of Mongolia. These included the conquest of China, the destruction of the Tangut Empire and the attacks that he led against Baghdad and ancient Russia.

A portion of text from The Secret Life of the MongolsThe book has served other purposes than as a source of historical information. It was also used by the Chinese as a way of teaching the spoken and written forms of the Mongolian language. There are no copies of the work that are written solely in Mongolian. Any copy that has been discovered has been a translation that included both Mongolian and Chinese characters.

The book has been translated into several modern languages including modern Mongolian, Russian and English. Translation has been difficult due to the fact that copies of the book became increasingly difficult to find. Translated portions of the book have also appeared in several other historical works.

Genghis Khan slaughtered millions of people during his lifetime, even members of his own family, in a bid to take over the world. Although very little archaeological evidence of the Mongol Empire can be found today, it likely would have pleased Genghis Khan to no end that his reputation and deeds live on, even if only in written form.



Ancient Brain Unearthed in Britain

By: The Scribe on May, 2011

Image is courtesy of the York TrustIn 2008, archaeologists found a 2,500-year-old brain in York, England. This was a highly unusual find due to the fact that body parts such as brains and other organs will decompose rapidly after death. Unless a deliberate attempt to preserve them is made, internal organs will be completely lost even when other parts of the body such as bones and hair are left behind.

It was believed that the former owner of the brain, a man from the Iron Age, had been the victim of ritual decapitation. Bone fractures and marks on the skull indicate that the body was hanged and then decapitated. It was believed that the cut marks show that after hanging, a knife or other sharpened implement was used to sever the head from the body. While the body was ritually decapitated, it is unknown why the man was hanged in the first place.

The head was thrown into a clay pit. This is what ultimately led to the preservation of the brain. The man’s body, however, has never been located. The thick, wet clay that filled the pit helped to stave off decomposition. The brain did not escape totally unscathed however. It showed signs of dehydration and the loss of water meant that the brain was much smaller than it would have been in real life.

There were several factors that lead to the brain’s preservation. The first is that the clay was very low in oxygen. Oxygen feeds the microbes that dissolve dead tissue and so a low supply of oxygen meant that the work of the microbes was slowed down significantly. The second factor that led to the brain’s preservation was the fact that the temperature in the clay pit was quite cool. When temperatures are fairly low it means that the enzymes which also would have broken down soft tissue could not work as quickly as they would under warmer, more favorable conditions.

Scientists also believe that the brain’s preserved state could have been aided by the fact that the head had been removed from the body. Many of the bacteria that break down a human body actually come from within that body itself. All humans carry bacteria in their gut and these continue to work even after death. This means that a human body tends to decompose from the inside out. Because these bacteria were not present, the body did not break down and the brain may have been decomposed as a result.

Other ancient brains have been discovered but for the most part they are extremely rare Iniopteryx rushlauiand any ancient brains tended to be fossilized. One prime example is a fossilized brain found in an iniopterygian, which was an ancient ancestor of the modern-day ratfish. The brain that was discovered was about the size of a pea.

Because they still do not understand how the human brain was so well preserved they are continuing to experiment in an attempt to recreate the process. A number of pigs’ heads have been buried around the site which predated the Roman presence in Britain.



Remains of Massive Prehistoric Snake Discovered in Columbia

By: The Scribe on May, 2011

Some modern snakes can reach lengths of over 30 feet which may seem massive when compared to other animals. The remains of a prehistoric constrictor, which has been named Titanoboa cerrejonensis is more massive by far than any snake that is now living. The name comes from the fact that the remains were found at the Cerrejon Coal Mine which is located in northern Columbia. The discovery was made in 2008.

This massive snake lived approximately 65 million years agoThe snake lived approximately 60 million years ago. Remains indicate that when full grown, these creatures could achieve lengths of 42 feet (13 meters) or more and could weigh up to 2,500 pounds (1,135 kilograms) making it approximately twice the size of any modern snake and similar in weight to a small car. It had a diameter of approximately three feet. To put the size in more perspective, this meant that the snake was roughly as long as a T-Rex. Modern-day anacondas have been measured at lengths of up to 28 feet and girths of up to 44 inches.

The snake’s remains were found in Columbia. They were discovered by an international team of scientists. The remains are being studied at the University of Florida. It was a bit of a miracle that scientists were able to discover the snake due to the area where it lived. The tropics are a difficult place to find fossils. This is due to the fact that much of the area is covered by a forest and this makes it difficult to find the usual kinds of exposed rocks where fossils are usually located.

The snake killed its prey in the same way that modern constrictors do. It would wrap around any animal that it caught and would squeeze it until the creature suffocated. This would have been a slow death and not a particularly comfortable one.

Titanoboa lived in the time immediately after the dinosaurs became extinct. Other fossils that were found in the area surrounding Titanoboa’s remains showed that the snake likely ate animals such as giant turtles and prehistoric crocodiles. This image shows how much larger Titanoboa was compared to modern anacondas

The discovery of Titanoboa is important because it gives scientists an idea of what the world was like after the dinosaurs became extinct. Scientists have made educated guesses but the fact that there are few vertebrate fossils available that are known to be from this time period. The fact that the snake was able to reach such a large size is also important because it shows what the climate would have been like during this time period. A snake or other cold blooded creature can only grow to a certain point under certain environmental conditions. A larger snake or other reptile would have meant that the environment was warmer than it is today.

It also shows that the current ecosystem that was in place in the area is very similar to the one that is present today. Remains of the ancestors of modern day reptiles such as snakes, turtles and crocodiles were discovered showing that the current ecosystem was around for at least 65 million years. Because of this, scientists feel that the discovery of Columbian fossils may have been one of the most exciting and valuable discoveries to date.



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