Lost Civilizations: History Hidden, Bible Vindicated?

Sahara civilization: By scanning satellite images, David Mattingly from the University of Leicester found that habitation of the Sahara from 1000 BC to 700 AD was much more widespread than realized. Lizzie Wade at Science Magazine reports on a presentation given to the AAAS. In “Drones and satellites spot lost civilizations in unlikely places,” she says that Mattingly–

…studies a culture known as the Garamantes, which began building a network of cities, forts, and farmland around oases in the Sahara of southern Libya around 1000 B.C.E.…

Many Garamantian structures are still standing in some form or another today, but very few have been visited by archaeologists. It’s hard to do fieldwork in the hot, dry, remote Sahara, Mattingly explains. “And that relative absence of feet on the ground leads to an absence of evidence” about the Garamantes and other cultures that may have thrived before the Islamic conquest of the region. But because many Garamantin sites haven’t been buried or otherwise destroyed, they show up in stunning detail in satellite photos. By analyzing such images, “in an area of about 2500 square kilometers, we’ve located 158 major settlements, 184 cemeteries, 30 square kilometers of fields, plus a variety of irrigation systems,” Mattingly says. That phrase “the Islamic conquest of the region” sounds hauntingly familiar, as ISIS makes inroads into modern Libya.

Amazon civilization: Just as startling was the presentation by José Iriarte, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter. He is using drones outfitted with radar and infrared cameras to peel away the story of ancient Amazonian dwellings. His findings are changing the paradigm about rain forest inhabitants:

When ecologists look at the Amazon, they see “virgin wilderness” untouched by humans, Iriarte says. But thanks to the discovery of large-scale earthworks called geogylphs and terra preta—“black earth” that was purposely enriched by humans in the past—archaeologists have concluded that at least parts of the rainforest must have been home to large, agricultural settlements. “Now it’s time to start quantifying past human impact in different parts of the Amazon,” Iriarte says.…

If past cultures “farmed” the rainforest by cultivating helpful crops in specific places, their practices may have shaped which species grow where, even today—which could change the way we think about conservation in the Amazon. “The very biodiversity that we seek to safeguard may itself be a legacy of centuries or millennia of human intervention,” Iriarte says.

Iriarte is rushing because development threatens to erase the signs of past civilization.

Wade weighs the impact of these discoveries:

What do the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest have in common? Until recently, archaeologists would have told you they were both inhospitable environments devoid of large-scale human settlements. But they were wrong. Here today at the annual meeting of the AAAS (which publishes Science), two researchers explained how remote sensing technology, including satellite imaging and drone flights, is revealing the traces of past civilizations that have been hiding in plain sight….

All this evidence of rapid dispersion of intelligent humans into scattered civilizations in a time of different climate fits the Genesis record, not evolution. “Archaeologists would have told you.… But they were wrong,” Wade said. Darwin’s teachings have misled history, archaeology and anthropology long enough. We have a written record; let’s use it.

From Creation Evolution –

Venezuelans use Bitcoins to bypass socialist currency controls

By Girish Gupta – Reuters.com –

Tech-savvy Venezuelans looking to bypass dysfunctional economic controls are turning to the bitcoin virtual currency to obtain dollars, make Internet purchases — and launch a little subversion.

Two New York-based Venezuelan brothers hope this week to start trading on the first bitcoin exchange in the socialist-run country, which already has at least several hundred bitcoin enthusiasts.

Due to currency controls introduced by late president Hugo Chavez a decade ago, acquiring hard currency now means either requesting it from the state, which struggles to satisfy demand, or tapping a shadowy black market. Even small dollar transactions are out of the question for most Venezuelans.

While President Nicolas Maduro makes frequent tirades against black market traders, whom he sees as part of the “economic war” on his government and the reason for inflation and shortages, he has never said anything about bitcoin. The government declined to comment on bitcoin policy.

That has created a gray market for bitcoins, a digital currency which is not governed by a central bank or controlled by a single source. Bitcoin values have soared and fallen in the last year as a popular exchange, Mt. Gox, collapsed and some developed countries began to mull bitcoin regulation. In Venezuela, using bitcoins can carry a scent of subversion.

“Bitcoin is a way of rebelling against the system,” said one bitcoin trader, Caracas-based software developer John Villar, 32, who discovered the usefulness of bitcoin when he wanted to buy a $10 cellphone battery on Amazon.

Unable to pay for it in dollars, he bought bitcoin off a friend using local currency. He then used the bitcoin to purchase an Amazon gift certificate, with which he bought the battery.

Gerardo Mogollon, a business professor who styles himself as ‘Dr. Bitcoin Venezuela,’ speaks at conferences and appears in online videos to urge Venezuelans to adopt the currency.

“I’m teaching people to use bitcoin to bypass the exchange controls,” said Mogollon, a 42-year-old professor at the University of Tachira’s graduate business school.

Currently, bitcoin trading in Venezuela is between enthusiasts who use internet forums and social media to make ad hoc deals.

 
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