One of the Earliest Uses of Symbols by Humans Discovered in Israel

A group of French and Israeli archaeologists have identified six lines carved in 120,000-year-old bone fragments that, they are convinced, were the deliberate work of humans, as the Times of Israel reports:

The bone fragment, found recently during an excavation near the city of Ramle, has six similar etchings on one side of the bone. . . . “It is fair to say that we have discovered one of the oldest symbolic engravings ever found on earth, and certainly the oldest in the Levant,” said Yossi Zaidner of the Institute of Archeology at Hebrew University. “This discovery has very important implications for understanding of how symbolic expression developed in humans.”

Scientists have long surmised that etchings on stones and bones have been used as a form of symbolism dating back as early as the Middle Paleolithic period (250,000-45,000 BCE), but findings to support that theory are extremely rare. Only five similar findings have been found in the Levant.

Given their likely deliberate nature, the researchers concluded that the symbols must have had meaning. . . . While they can’t tell exactly what the carvings symbolized, they believe that the bone—from an aurochs, a now-extinct species of large wild cattle—was deliberately chosen. “We hypothesize that the choice of this particular bone was related to the status of that animal in that hunting community and is indicative of the spiritual connection that the hunters had with the animals they killed,” [they wrote].

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Art, Prehistory, Spirituality

Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad