Breakthrough in world’s oldest undeciphered writing


Experts working on proto-Elamite hope they are on the point of ‘a breakthrough’

The world’s oldest undeciphered writing system, which has so far defied attempts to uncover its 5,000-year-old secrets, could be about to be decoded by Oxford University academics.

This international research project is already casting light on a lost bronze age middle eastern society where enslaved workers lived on rations close to the starvation level.

“I think we are finally on the point of making a breakthrough,” says Jacob Dahl, fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and director of the Ancient World Research Cluster.

Dr Dahl’s secret weapon is being able to see this writing more clearly than ever before.

In a room high up in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, above the Egyptian mummies and fragments of early civilisations, a big black dome is clicking away and flashing out light.

This device, part sci-fi, part-DIY, is providing the most detailed and high quality images ever taken of these elusive symbols cut into clay tablets. This is Indiana Jones with software.

It’s being used to help decode a writing system called proto-Elamite, used between around 3200BC and 2900BC in a region now in the south west of modern Iran.

And the Oxford team think that they could be on the brink of understanding this last great remaining cache of undeciphered texts from the ancient world.

Read it all HERE.

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Read it all HERE.

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On Eve of Debate, Former Senior Obama Adviser Eviscerates Administration’s Catastrophic Foreign Policy Failures

Rosa Brooks, a former senior adviser to the Obama State and Defense Departments has penned a damning indictment of the administration’s foreign policy failures. The piece — entitled “The Case for Intervention… In Obama’s dysfunctional foreign-policy team” and published in Foreign Policy — lists six things that Obama must do if he is reelected.

But you really only need to read the beginning of the article to get a sense for the debacle that is the Obama non-doctrine:

…he has presided over an exceptionally dysfunctional and un-visionary national security architecture — one that appears to drift from crisis to crisis, with little ability to look beyond the next few weeks. His national security staff is squabbling and demoralized…

1. Get a Strategy. No, really. We don’t currently seem to have one, grand or otherwise. We’ve got “the long war” — but we don’t seem to have a long game. Instead of a strategy, we have aspirations (“We want a stable Middle East”) and we have laundry lists (check out the 2010 National Security Strategy). But as I have written in a previous column, there’s no clear sense of what animates our foreign policy. And without a clear strategic vision of the world, there’s no way to evaluate the success or failure of different initiatives, and no way to distinguish the important from the marginal…

Another of Brooks’ recommendations is for Obama to get out of his bubble and talk to experts, not cronies, campaign aides and yes-men. But RedState reminds us that, ironically, Obama has moved backward in that respect, not forward.

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Paradise With an Asterisk

Bikini Atoll, a tiny ring of islands halfway between Hawaii and Australia, is a world-class diving destination and home to one of the Pacific’s last great fishing grounds. So where are all the tourists? Welcome to heaven on earth, where the vestiges of hell lie just below the surface.

by S. C. Gwynne

A U.S. military bunker blights the view on Namu Island. Photo: Corey Arnold

Alson Kelen is seated comfortably on the grave of his great aunt, at the far eastern end of Bikini Island in the vast, hyperblue beyond of the Pacific Ocean. He is telling a story of a lost paradise, of a life he lived on this island a long time ago.

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Five Reasons That You Vote the Way You Do -

Wide-ranging recent research provides provocative clues into why one American votes Democrat and another Republican.
—With the first U.S. presidential debate now history, the 2012 election has entered its final phase, and both major party candidates are making their final pitches to the voters. Polls suggest very few Americans are genuinely undecided; most of us are firmly convinced that one side or the other has the stronger argument. But how are those attitudes formed? Why does one person grow up to be a liberal, and another a conservative? Social science research is beginning to come up with some compelling answers.

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Inside the Mansion—and Mind— of Kim Dotcom, the Most Wanted Man on the Net

A. Kim Dotcom is not a pirate. He’s a hero. The savior of my online liberties. A visionary digital entrepreneur. His company Megaupload was a legitimate data-storage business used by hundreds of millions of individuals and by employees of NASA, US Central Command, even the FBI. The raid on his New Zealand home was excessive and illegal—shock-and-awe bullshit. Hollywood is terrified by the digital future, and an innocent paid the price. Kim is a martyr. But Kim will triumph.

You’d like him, he’s cool.

B. Kim Dotcom is a pirate. A megalomaniacal gangsta clown. An opportunistic and calculating career criminal. His Megaupload enterprise willfully made hundreds of millions of dollars off stolen movies, songs, videogames, books, and software. And, oh yeah, he couldn’t be more obnoxious about it.

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Communist agents being executed by a policeman in the streets of Shanghai, as Kuomintang soldiers look on. The slaughter was pointless – Mao’s troops would control the city within days. May 1949.