Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

WUT R WERDS

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In other words, the post I was working on isn’t finished yet, so I’m going to wing it this morning. There’s always something to write about, old or new. I’m watching an old movie for example, ‘Dances with Wolves.’ I tried to watch it when it came out, and couldn’t plod through it all. Not enough explosions for my younger self maybe? Halfway through now, and plodding definitely covers it. Plus somehow Kevin Kostner makes my skin crawl now, that’s a new experience. I will finish and report on by Monday. Two other famous (in their time at least) movies I couldn’t get through were ‘Gandhi’ and ‘Amadeus.’ I don’t believe I will be reattempting them, unless I lose a bet I suppose.

In India four men were accused of raping and murdering a woman. Made the news big time. Then the police took them to the scene of the crime for some reason, where they attempted to escape and were all shot and killed by the police. Rejoicing and celebration in the streets. That’s at least the gist of it from what I can tell. Well, they won’t be raping anyone else. Not sure really what to think of it all. Sort of sounds like an extrajudicial execution, I mean really, all four? I hope they were guilty, sort of, what an odd thing to hope for. Violence against women does appear to be a major problem in India, although it’s pretty much a problem everywhere. My only cogent thought on this is that I simply don’t know enough about India to have cogent thoughts about this. Other than rape is one of the ultimate evils, and it’s often treated far too lightly in the west. The story just got me, and a lot of people I suppose.

In other unfinished business I really tried to get through the Longmire books. I really liked the show. I liked the characters in the books too, but every book introduced a new cast of secondary characters. Worse, each book, at least the last two, used a narrative style where the damn book was half flashback. Two stories intermingled into one, sometimes each with its own cast of secondary characters. I finally gave up, I couldn’t keep  track of who was who when and where and what now. And wasn’t that a tortured turn of phrase, but it expresses how I feel. The dent in the wall where I threw the last book also expresses it.

An anti-vaxxer has been arrested for mass murder in Samoa. I wish. No, but he was arrested for ‘incitement against a government order.’ Samoa is in the midst of a measles epidemic that has killed 63 so far. Samoa has a population of about 200,000, about the size of Salt Lake City, so 63 deaths is a big deal. And anti-vaxxers spreading lies about vaccines are playing a huge negative role. This guy was telling people that vaccines are dangerous, and measles can be cured with vitamin C and papaya leaf extract. Right.

Worse, the anti-vaccine movement is getting more militant and effective in their global campaign to bring back deadly diseases humanity vanquished long ago.  Here’s the whole Samoa story in great detail, it’s freaking infuriating. I’m starting to wonder if the anti-vax movement is secretly run by extraterrestrials seeking to quietly depopulate the Earth. Probably a science fiction B film in there somewhere. More likely though it’s what most human failings can be attributed to. We’re not really an intelligent species.

And since its Friday, I’ll end on a positive note. A cute animated story about a little girl who writes a letter to Santa. Aw. But misspelled it ‘Satan.’ Uhoh. It goes downhill from there. Enjoy it here.

As always, remarks, queries, and, well, thesaurus.com couldn’t come up with a good synonym for shares. All still enjoyed and acknowledged. Enough lame thesaurus jokes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tweet. Credit: Tweeter or Tumblr thescalexwrites? Maybe this fellow? Used without permission, but since it’s floating around Facebook I hope I can be forgiven.)

Written by unitedcats

December 6, 2019 at 9:42 am

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

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I ran across a story about some mesolithic deer masks now on display in England. Pictured above. Found at the Star Carr site in England, dating to around 11,000 years ago. The mesolithic means they were no longer stone age hunters hunting big game, but had started to settle down and utilize a wider variety of food sources. So villages, houses, fishing nets, textiles and pottery even, but no agriculture. That’s the neolithic, which started about 5,000 years ago in Europe. These were very much modern humans though, just as smart as anyone today. And they had language, but no written language.

And while their scientific understanding of the world would be lacking, they would have had remarkable knowledge about the various plants and animals in the natural world around them. What was edible, how to prepare it, medicinal herbs, the seasons … to a depth and detail that would be breathtaking to one of us, raised cocooned from the natural world. I’m not trying to make a noble savage case, just trying to point out they were different from us, but not primitive in any meaningful lifestyle way. If a hundred of us and a hundred of them had to contest naked for possession of an island, they’d be feasting on the last of us in no time.

So yes, the deer skull masks, they were what got me here. They were found at Star Carr, a remarkably preserved mesolithic site in England. Usually from 11,000 years ago all we have are stones and bones, often only stones. At Star Carr we have tons of those, plus all sorts of wood artifacts preserved too. So it’s a wonderful snapshot of life in the mesolithic. However, since they left to written records, there are some big gaps in our knowledge. While we have a pretty good idea what the useful objects we find are for, what non useful objects were for is still a mystery.

And this is where we get back to the deer skull masks. What the heck were they used for? No one as yet has come up with a practical use for them. One suggested they might have been used (with hide still on them I suppose) for camouflage when hunting deer. There has not been a chorus of approval from other archeologists, who question just how stupid a deer would have to be to be fooled by a human in a deer mask. It’s reaching in other words. No, the mainstream view is that they were ritual objects, masks to wear during some sort of religious or spiritual purpose.

I guess. There’s certainly plenty of evidence that modern hunter-gatherers use ritual objects. On the other hand I wonder if the modern puritan streak in our culture colours people’s perception. By that I mean the idea that life is full of practical stuff, and what isn’t practical is religious. Humans now spend all sorts of energy doing impractical things. Even modern hunter/gatherers only spend about 20 hours a week on essential stuff like procuring food and shelter. (Wait, only 20 hours a week, why the hell did we invent civilization with 40 plus hour work weeks? Good question.)  1,000 years from archaeologists are going to find we spend enormous amounts of time and money building football stadiums. Will they think our stadiums are cathedrals? Few today would consider football a religious activity, with the exception of New York Jets fans.

So I dunno, I think there’s lots of non-utile possibilities for a deer mask. Games, sports, plays, telling stories to kids, stand up comedy sketches, anything. The possibilities are as endless as the human imagination. Granted half the reason I wrote this post is I think the masks are cool looking. Hell, that might have been the only reason they were made. And as well just how amazing it is that modern science is able to uncover how our ancestors lived. For more Star Carr pictures and information, this link is pretty good.

Coming soon, slaves and Roman fathers. Hope everyone is having a good week. I’m getting over Dick’s death. At least he left his mark. It’s right there on the highway, a big burned spot I will be driving over for years.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: One of the deer masks found at Star Carr. Credit: Unknown, used without permission. I found it on a number of sites with no attribution, and Pixabay. So I’m guessing it’s public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 20, 2019 at 6:19 am

DEATH, LIARS, JEFFREY EPSTEIN, AND GOD IN SCHOOL

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After my old friend Connie died last week I was chatting with another friend about how many people we had known who died the past few years. It’s been grim for the both of us, the price of growing old. I joked that it’s not safe for people to become friends with me now, they are getting knocked off so regularly. So I am a little creeped out that a fellow I met just a few months ago was killed Friday night.In fact he’d just been by my house Friday morning to talk to my housemate. She still has a note in her pocket from him. She’s pretty upset, she knew him better than I. And he was good friends with the lady who lives across the street, so lots of sadz going around. I know it’s just a horrible coincidence, but still definitely creeped out by it. He managed to kill himself driving the wrong way on a highway, which adds a whole other layer of wrongness to the whole thing. He might have had a few, the police haven’t revealed anything yet. Still, if one saw the weird way the freeway is connected there, it could easily have just been a careless mistake driving at night.

So RIP Richard, I’m sorry I never had a chance to get to know you better. You were quite the character and had an active varied life till the end, you will be missed and mourned. My housemate Elle is out now trying to find a live tree to plant in your memory. And next lifetime dude, wear your damn seatbelt. 

Speaking of death, guess what, Jeffrey Epstein is still dead! The rise of the conspiracy theories about his death is … interesting. I know people who are 100% convinced Epstein was murdered, not debatable in their book. Somehow they make the leap from “suspicious circumstances” to “murder,” without the benefit of evidence. Sorry people, but where there’s smoke … sometimes it’s just smoke.

The aspect of this that I want to propound on is something a lot of people seem to not understand. In every field of human expertise, there are individuals with zero scruples. IE there are experts who will happily take money to promote any viewpoint. In this case a famous forensic pathologist Michael Baden came out publicly stating he thinks Epstein was murdered. The fact that he has a history of propounding controversial opinions and was paid by the Epstein family doesn’t seem to matter, Epstein truthers have seized on it as “proof” Epstein is murdered. No, it’s proof that some people will do anything for money.

Russiagate, 9/11, global warming denial etc. all have a handful of experts touting their line, just like the tobacco companies had no trouble finding doctors to claim tobacco was safe. So because an expert is parroting some conspiracy theory is proof of nothing. Other than the aforementioned proof that some people will lie through their teeth for money. Proof requires actual evidence, not “my expert opinion says this is so.” That people place so much stock in such people is evidence we need to teach critical thinking in schools.

Not that that is going to happen anytime soon in America. In fact just the opposite, a bill has been passed in Ohio, a law called “The Ohio Student Religious Liberty Act of 2019.” The title is deceptive (deliberately so obviously) as it has nothing to do with religious liberty. It’s about letting Christian instruction into public schools. The evangelicals have never given up since the SCOTUS ruled that schools have no business conducting religious services in public schools. Send the kids to private school or Sunday school if one wants them to get religious instruction. Worse, this law at first pass at least would force teachers to accept religious answers from students as the equivalent of the actual science.

Sigh. No, creationism and evolution are not equivalent, one is a religious myth and one is a solidly established scientific fact. Forcing teachers to accept them as equally valid isn’t religious liberty, it’s Christian tyranny. Even scarier now that SCOTUS has been packed with Christian apologists, this law might pass constitutional muster. And America will be that much closer to emulating the theocracies in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Jesus wept.

I got a new patron (Woohoo!) and the odds are against anyone else I know dropping dead soon, so I plan on a great week myself. Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Road, Sunset, Horizon. Credit: Beeki, Pixabay. Pixabay license. Free for commercial use, no attribution required.)

Written by unitedcats

November 18, 2019 at 5:40 am

US HOLDS IRANIANS HOSTAGE FOR 26 YEARS AND OTHER NEWS

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I had planned to write more about the Iran hostage crisis, but life got in the way. Life does that, it’s as if reality has volition of its own that transcends my carefully laid plans. Who knew? So I’ll just be quick, this link, and pointing out that the US installed and supported a brutal dictator in Iran from 1953 to 1979. So no surprise that the people of Iran deposed him. And since the coup that installed the Shah was plotted and conducted from the US embassy, not a surprise that militants occupied the embassy after Jimmy Carter foolishly let the Shah come to the US for medical treatments, fuelling rumours that the US planned to reinstall him by force. All of course unknown to most Americans, who have simply erased pre-revolution Iran from their minds.

Reminds me of an anecdote by one of the hostages. After nearly a year in captivity, one of the hostages snapped, and yelled long and hard at one of his guards about the injustice of holding him and his fellow hostages prisoners for nearly a year. The guard listened to it all, and when the hostage was done, the guard simply said: “America held our entire country hostage for 26 years.” The hostage had no reply to that, because, what could he say? Alas those 26 years don’t exist for most Americans, last time I checked the CIA’s official history of Iran … starts in 1979.

I came across a curious article about how science denial works. The short version is that science denial “works” because a lot of people engage in black and white thinking. In this type of thinking ideas (or scientific theories) are either 100% proved … or false. And since nothing in science is 100% proven, there is always something for people to latch onto to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I definitely recommend the article. The only thing I would add is that unfortunately now there are very powerful interests at work exploiting this tendency in human thinking to promote egregious nonsense like ‘intelligent design’ or ‘global warming denial.’ How to get through to such people? Beats me. Teaching critical thinking in schools would be a start, but the very same interests certainly aren’t going to stand for that.

Interestingly enough in this next article on the evolution of bipedalism, one can easily see how black and white thinkers could fool themselves into thinking that the incredibly complicated and as yet not fully understood evolution of humans is flawed. Especially if one was already wedded to the simplistic idea that Fod snapped his fingers and magically created the Universe out of nothing 7,000 odd years ago. No need for complex theories to explain the amazing complexity of life and evolution.

Not much in the news today. Or same ol same ol to be more accurate. So … science! A NASA engineer has come up with theoretical propellantless engine that could reach 99% of the speed of light. Wait, no propellent? Isn’t that basically a perpetual motion machine, thus violating the laws of the Universe? Pretty much, but his idea somehow takes advantage of a loophole in special relativity. My understanding of special relativity is weak, so I basically have no clue about how he claims his ‘helical engine’ concept works. Still, good to know people are thinking about how to get off this freaking rock.

Well, this was interesting. Turns out the Black Plague was killing people thousands of years before the first pandemic, the Plague of Justinian which devastated the Eastern Roman Empire in 541-542 AD. It killed as many as 50 million people in the two centuries that followed. And it all appears to have been the same strain, so why did the plague not cause pandemics prior to the first outbreak? Possibly it did, but so far there’s no historical or archeological evidence for such. So scientists are trying to figure it out. Crowded cities? New rats? Lack of exposure to horses? Wait, what, how is exposure to horses related to plague outbreaks? Apparently they may be naturally resistant to plague, though how that helped prevent pandemics is a little unclear to me. In any event, interesting speculations, read about it here.

Here’s a last fun science headline: ‘MIT’s ‘virtually indestructible’ Cheetah robots can now play soccer.’ Great, indestructible robot cheetahs. Black Mirror tried to warn us about this, but did we listen? Nope. Another sign of the coming apocalypse.

Stay warm everyone, our lake froze this morning. So much for Indian Summer. Hell, so much for fall.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A hunter-killer metal dog from Black Mirror’s episode Metalhead. Credit: Possibly Edemol Shine UK? Used without permission, but since I am plugging their show, hopefully I can be forgiven.)

Written by unitedcats

November 13, 2019 at 6:04 am

Posted in History, Iran, Personal, Science

DOG LEGGED GATES, MYSTERY SONG, MURDER MOST FOUL, AND APE SCIENCE

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I started writing about Iraq, but it got really depressing. So maybe I will finish it later, for now, random comments on random news items. Bernie Sanders had a mild heart attack. Will be interesting to see if he bounces back. I’m rooting for him, he’s the best of a bad lot. Trump is still hanging in there, though showing signs of strain. He really wasn’t cut out to be POTUS, granted few people are. I’m wondering if his fellow Republicans in Washington are starting to turn on him. Ships, sinking, etc. He’s not exactly a consensus builder. I could see him being driven out of office one way or the other in time for Pence to step up and run. If the Dems self-immolate, again, Pence could win. Fun times.

In music news (No, I don’t think I’ve ever typed that before) I came across the curious story of an unidentified song. As in, no one knows who wrote it, played it, sung it. Recorded it. And this isn’t something from ancient history, it originated from around 1984. I may once have been a demo by some Eartern European band.  It got played like once on some English radio station, and it’s only a fluke that a recording came to light. And at this point the search for the originators has gone viral and still no one has a clue. It does sound hauntingly familiar, as many have observed. Anywise, read the story and listen to the song here.

Another experiment has indicated that some apes have “theory of mind.” A long time favorite topic of mine, as my two or three long term readers might remember. How to explain theory of mind? Well, if someone realizes a mirror reflection is themselves, they are self aware. Humans, apes, elephants, porpoises, some birds seem to be self aware, theory of mind is the next step, knowing that not only you exist, but that other people are also equally self aware. It means the ability to “put yourself in another’s head,” to think about what other people are thinking. It’s actually devilishly hard to pin down in experiments. Most lay people seem to think apes have theory of mind, and apparently the scientific consensus is leaning that way. I’m still unconvinced. Read about it here.

In today’s “Um, that doesn’t sound right” file, Joshua Brown, a key witness in the Botham Jean murder case, has been ambushed and shot to death. OK, Amber Guyger was a white Dallas police woman who ‘accidentally’ went into a neighbour’s apartment thinking it was her own. She encountered the occupant of the apartment, Botham Jean, a black man, and shot him dead. She was recently convicted of murder and sentenced to ten years in prison. Joshua Brown’s testimony helped convict her, he was a neighbour of them both. Joshua was an upstanding man, and his killing seems senseless. So many people have concluded that Joshua was murdered by the Dallas police in revenge for helping convict one of their own. Sadly it’s all too possible, a wild west mentality is still deeply entrenched in parts of America. Something Canadians, Western Europeans, and others probably have a hard time comprehending. And, frankly, America’s penchant for gun violence is hard for many Americans to comprehend.

While going through Hieronymus Bosch paintings, always a great source of images for Doug’s Darkworld, I came across the image above. It looked strangely familiar, something about the gate. Turns out I’ve used written about it before. The gate, not the painting, in “The Mystery of the Dog Legged Gate.” Nine years ago, sheesh. I was such a fool then. Now I’m an older fool. There’s less of me now though, by a stone or two. So does that mean my fool density is higher? Or does fool density remain the same despite body size, so I’m a stone or two less foolish? Why does science never tackle important questions like this?

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Sorry about the short post, decided best to post on time rather than scramble for something, anything, I could segue to from dog legged gates. Have a great week everyone. (Every time I type that now a little in my head screams “But I’m not a Trump supporter!” Sheesh.)

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: ‘The Wayfarer’ painted circa 1500. Credit: Hieronymus Bosch. Being painted over 500 years ago the copyright has long expired. Unless Congress has changed copyright law to benefit corporations once again. Knock on wood.)

Written by unitedcats

October 7, 2019 at 4:28 am

Posted in Crime, gun control, Science

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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OK, just couldn’t get into the police dog post. Maybe someday, maybe not. Discussion of the meme in question got a little heated in the Doug’s Darkworld Facebook group, and my tolerance for drama of any sort is reaching new lows. Life’s too short. So maybe a fun post. Puppies! Oh, wait, I don’t like puppies. They have sharp teeth and they smell funny. Worst of all, like some sort of reverse butterfly, they turn into dogs. Then they have sharp teeth, smell funny, and destroy any nearby furniture, walls, tools, appliances they can get their teeth into. Actually, whatevs, I don’t mind a good dog. If I ever live out in the forest again I might have a dog.

Moving right along, things haven’t gotten worse in the Middle East. Global Warming is getting worse. Things are getting ugly in Hong Kong. My attempts at baking are one for three. Yeah, not going to bake anymore, it’s clearly not my forte. Even the animals outside wouldn’t eat my last batch of attempted muffins. I looked up what happened in history October 2nd, not much hope there. An odd assortment of the usual calamities. In 1187 Salladin captured Jerusalem, which the Crusaders had held for 80 odd years. The Queen Mary chopped a Britsh Cruiser in half during World War Two.  One good Omen I suppose, The Twilight Zone premiered on October 2nd, 1959. And in 1996 an airliner crashed because a mechanic forgot to remove some duct tape. Usually duct tape fixes things, not this time.

Speaking of fixes, this weeks Skeptoid is about how to fix global warming. It is fixable, but like so many of humanity’s problems, fixing it would slightly inconvenience a handful of people who already have more money than they could spend in a hundred lifetimes. They won’t stand for that of course, and claim that them making slightly less obscene profits would wreck the economy. As a general rule anytime one hears “But it would wreck the economy!’ what is really being said is “But the super rich would have slightly less money!” The sad thing is that a lot of the people being exploited by the rich parrot the same tired argument. Sigh. Anyhow, read about it here without my ranting.

And when we’re not avoiding fixing a problem, there’s people actively making them worse. I’m thinking of the anti-vaxxers. The good Dr Novella makes a case for mandatory vaccinations for school kids. Why this even has to be debated is maddening. I remember the sixties and seventies, the only blatant science deniers were cranks. I don’t recall any major social movements completely at odds with established science. It’s not like there’s any doubts, measles caused nearly 3 million annual deaths in 1980. It’s lower than one hundred thousand now. And no, it wasn’t the widespread introduction of handi wipes, it was the MMR  vaccine. And that’s just one of many diseases vaccines radically reduced or even eliminated by vaccines.

Strange times indeed. So politics. IDK. Electoral politics get more like sportsball every day. Everyone gets really excited about their team, or obsessed even, but in the final analysis who wins the Super Bowl or the World Series doesn’t mean anything. So, I have no meaningful comments. And I’m actually going to some political stuff. Meetings. Things. I can’t even make an order in Starbucks, let alone describe what goes on in local electoral politics. Good people trying to make a difference, God bless em.

In the “You can’t make something foolproof because fools are so ingenious” file, people are trying to get their self driving cars to run them over. That’s up there with eating Tide pods, how the hell did I end up on this planet? Didn’t I have any other choices? But yes, at least one youtuber posted his attempts at running himself over. The whole self-driving feature is already a nightmare for insurance companies. Who is at fault when a driver summons their car and it hits someone? Lots of fun to be had. Lots of lawyers will get richer.

Lastly, a scientist has published a paper making the case that aliens are watching us. Seriously. This is because there is a tiny (about twenty known) population of asteroids called Near Earth Co-Orbital Objects. These little guys don’t orbit Earth, but they share the same orbit around the Sun. Dance partners with Earth so to speak. And physicist James Benford suggests they would be the perfect place to keep an eye on Earth from. He suggests we observe them closely looking for any kind of radiation, and scan them with radar to boot. And maybe send a probe? Why not?

Why not indeed. They are both very close to Earth, and at least as scientifically interesting as any other object orbiting the Sun. We find out new stuff every probe we send. And indeed China is actually planning a ten year mission that would not only include visiting 2016 HO3, the nearest of these asteroids, the mission also includes sample returns. Read about it all here. Personally I think the aliens, if they exist, are already here on Earth. And no, they didn’t teach us how to make pyramid shaped piles of rocks. Another post, someday.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Man enjoying view from beach. Credit: Wallpaper Abyss.)

Written by unitedcats

October 2, 2019 at 4:19 am

Posted in History, Science, SETI

ÖTZI

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Oetzi_the_Iceman_Rekonstruktion_1

(Image credit: Thilo Parg / Wikimedia Commons, License: CC BY-SA 3.0)

A few days ago on Facebook I posted about the anniversary of the discovery of Ötzi in the Ötztal Alps. Those are the Alps between Austria and Italy. (Yes, that’s how he got his name.) Pictured above in all his reconstructed glory. He was discovered on 19 september, 1991. He is Europe’s oldest known natural mummy, over 5,000 years old. And a number of my Facebook readers had never heard of Ötzi, much to my amazement. Even better they thought his story was fascinating. And I thought, what a great topic for a blog!

So yes, nice couple out for a stroll in the Alps in 1991. They stumble across a body half frozen in the ice. They, and pretty much everyone else, figured it was some recent victim (as in years or decades old) of the dangers of travelling in the Alps. Such discoveries happen all the time. Fairly quickly it was realized Ötzi was older, much older than the usual crop of dead bodies found in the Alps. Thousands of years older in fact. I have followed Ötzi’s story from the beginning. What follows is partly from memory, partly from recent internet research. Enjoy.

So, he died about 5,250 years ago. At first it was thought some mishap had befallen him, or maybe just cold and exposure. Eventually though, it was determined to be murder most foul. OK, maybe a hunting accident, who knows. He had been struck in the back with an arrow, and bled out fairly quickly. Probably was murder though, his body had some other wounds indicating he had been in a fight or fights before his death. One study indicated that the blood of four different individuals was found on his weapons. No one was ever able to replicate the study though, so maybe not. The shot that killed Ötzi was a great shot, fired from considerably below him. Might explain why his killers didn’t get to his body and take his stuff.

And he had some great stuff, he was fully kitted out. Bow, arrows, knife, clothing, first aid kit, and niftiest of all, a copper axe. Yes, humans had started smelting and casting copper. Every copper axehead ever found was polished to a mirrored sheen, a labor intensive undertaking in the era before emery cloth. Thus the axe likely marked Ötzi as a high status or wealthy individual. Or a thief I suppose, “Shoot him, he’s got my axe!” Anyhow, a tremendous amount was learned from his possessions. One thing that stuck out for me in particular, there were over a dozen items made from wood. And every single item was made out of the exact type of wood best suited for the item in question. The same goes for the items made from animal hide. These people were plenty smart.

In some ways his stuff was the most important thing about him. This wasn’t some guy buried naked in a bog, or a body in a grave. This was a guy with all his possessions with him. In fact archeologists were so interested in that aspect that they went up and excavated everything around where Ötzi was found down to bedrock. And counted every seed, whatever. They got most of his hair and two of his fingernails doing this. Anyhow, here’s an article listing all his stuff with pictures.

Ötzi was about 45 at the time of his death. So he’d been around. Five foot three inches tall. Wiry, in good shape. Suffering from parasites and recurring bouts of a serious illness. Lots of tattoos, over fifty. All soot tattoos, just black lines. He is in fact the oldest known tattooed person. They may have been for medical pain relief or acupuncture type healing, as most of them were found on places like joints or his spine. His previous few meals were still in him, ibex, red deer, and chamois meat. Bread, roots, veges. His DNA shows he was lactose intolerant, so lactose tolerance was still not universal in Europe. They were also able to tell from his tooth enamel that he grew up about 50km south of where he was found, but later in life he moved to the region where he died. His bones also showed he spent a lot of time climbing up and down steep slopes, unusual for any era. So he might have been a mountain shepherd.

Whoever he was, Europe was a very different place then. There certainly were little villages, but no real towns as we would know them. It would have been mostly wilderness, though some agriculture had started.  There were dogs, but no cats yet where he lived. The bread Ötzi ate was apparently from cultivated grains. There had been standing stones and such in Europe, but Stonehenge was still centuries away.. Ötzi had likely never seen anything bigger than a wooden hut or hall. He might have heard tell though. The world’s very first cities were springing up in the Middle East, though the first pyramids were still centuries away.

Ötzi’s DNA shows he was most closely related to people who now live in Corsica and Sardinia. And interestingly enough scientists found 18 people currently living in the Alps who were descended from Ötzi, or a close male relative. His mother’s DNA didn’t live on, but his father’s did. Kind of wild knowing some of the people still living in the region are his direct descendants. Immortality in several ways. His DNA lives on, and countless millions of people know of him. It would have been very difficult to explain to him today’s world.

And no matter what we learn, we can only guess at who Ötzi was. His dreams, memories, fantasies, loves and all that made him human died with him on that cold mountain. We can only wonder. RIP Ötzi, long gone but not forgotten.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Otzi kitted out. Credit: The author Thilo Parg has licensed this file under license CC-BY-SA-3.0 to Wikimedia Commons. This means that a free, even commercial use is possible if the following conditions are met:

Online media:

Clearly legible indication of the author next to the picture: “Thilo Parg / Wikimedia Commons”

Readable license name next to the image: “License: CC BY-SA 3.0”)

Written by unitedcats

September 27, 2019 at 4:33 am