Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mystery Group Forms to Track Down Looted Antiquities

Sounds like a Tom Clancy novel.  Where are Emily Thorne and Nolan Ross when we need them?

Mystery men hunt cultural past stolen by ISIL

Jonathan Gornall
 Updated: May 28, 2015 01:51 PM

ISIL’s destruction of antiquities in Syria and Iraq has prompted a secretive organisation to track and restore looted artefacts, while another international group wants to virtually recreate heritage lost to theft and vandalism.
It has no headquarters, no website, and no spokespersons prepared to see their real names in print or online. Even the title of the secretive private organisation that has recently sprung up in response to the grave threat posed by ISIL to the cultural treasures of Syria and Iraq, has an anodyne feel to it.
But there is nothing dull about the self-imposed mission of the Committee for Shared Culture (CSC), a group of like-minded people who have come together to track down and recover the ancient artefacts that are – they fear – disappearing from archaeological sites throughout Iraq and Syria every day.
“We are a group of individuals who share a common interest in the ancient world,” says John Smith, a former classics student who spent some years working in the UAE and spoke on condition of anonymity.
“I have to consider the safety of my family,” he says.

It's Settled (For Now)! Modern Man Left Africa Through Egypt

When we are still in the infancy of genetic research, it continues to amaze me the conclusions scientists are so eager to assert!  As far as I'm concerned, based on the evidence the verdict is still undecided.

Article at Phys Org (summary below)
May 28, 2015

Humans migrated north, rather than south, in the main successful migration from Cradle of Humankind

New research suggests that European and Asian (Eurasian) peoples originated when early Africans moved north - through the region that is now Egypt - to expand into the rest of the world. The findings, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, answer a long-standing question as to whether early humans emerged from Africa by a route via Egypt, or via Ethiopia.

 The extensive public catalogue of the genetic diversity in Ethiopian and Egyptian populations developed for the project also now provides a valuable, freely available, reference panel for future medical and anthropological studies in these areas.

 Two geographically plausible routes have been proposed for humans to emerge from Africa: through the current Egypt and Sinai (Northern Route), or through Ethiopia, the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Arabian Peninsula (Southern Route). Some lines of evidence have previously favoured one, some the other.

 "The most exciting consequence of our results is that we draw back the veil that has been hiding an episode in the history of all Eurasians, improving the understanding of billions of people of their evolutionary history," says Dr Luca Pagani, first author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and University of Cambridge. "It is exciting that, in our genomic era, the DNA of living people allows us to explore and understand events as ancient as 60,000 years ago."

The team produced whole-genome sequences from 225 people from modern Egypt and Ethiopia. In previous studies, they and others have shown that these modern populations have been subject to gene flow from West Asian populations, so they excluded the Eurasian contribution to the genomes of the modern African people.

 The remaining masked genomic regions from Egyptian samples were more similar to non-African samples and present in higher frequencies outside Africa than the masked Ethiopian genomic regions, pointing to Egypt as the more likely gateway in the exodus to the rest of the world.


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