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

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy