6A - Monday, February 10, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
footprints in England
activity outside Africa
LONDON (AP) - They were
a British family on a day out -
almost amillionyears ago.
Friday that they have discovered
human footprints in England that
are between 800,000 and 1 mil-
lion years old - the most ancient
found outside Africa, and the
earliest evidence of human life in
A team from the British Muse-
um, London's Natural History
Museum and Queen Mary college
ered imprints from up to five indi-
viduals in ancient estuary mud
at Happisburgh on the country's
British Museum archaeologist
Nick Ashton said the discovery -
recounted in detail in the journal
PLOS ONE - was "a tangible link
to our earliest human relatives."
Preserved in layers of silt and
sand for hundreds of millennia
before being exposed by the tide
last year, the prints give a vivid
glimpse of some of our most
ancient ancestors. They were left
by a group, including at least two
children and one adult male. They
could have been be a family for-
aging on the banks of a river sci-
entists think may be the ancient
Thames, beside grasslands where
bison, mammoth, hippos and rhi-
University of Southampton
archaeology professor Clive Gam-
ble, who was not involved in the
project, said the discovery was
"It's just so tangible," he said.
"This is the closest we've got to
seeing the people.
"When I heard about it, it was
like hearing the first line of (Wil-
liam Blake's hymn) 'Jerusalem'
- 'And did those feet, in ancient
time, walk upon England's moun-
tains green?' Well, they walked
upon its muddy estuary."
The researchers said the
humans who left the footprints
may have been related to Homo
antecessor, or "pioneer man,"
whose fossilized remains have
been found in Spain. That species
died out about 800,000 years ago.
Ashton said the footprints are
between 800,000 - "as a conser-
vative estimate" - and 1 million
years old, at least 100,000 years
older than scientists' earlier esti-
mate of the first human habita-
tion in Britain. That's significant
because 700,000 years ago, Brit-
ain had a warm, Mediterranean-
style climate. The earlier period
was much colder, similar to mod-
Natural History Museum
archaeologist Chris Stringer said
that 800,000 or 900,000 years
ago Britain was "the edge of the
"This makes us rethink our feel-
ings about the capacity of these
early people, that they were coping
with conditions somewhat colder
than the present day,"he said.
"Maybe they had cultural adap-
tations to the cold we hadn't even
thought were possible 900,000
years ago. Did they wear cloth-
ing? Did they make shelters,
windbreaks and so on? Could
they have the use of fire that far
back?" he asked.
Syrian men help survivors out ofa destroyed building after a Syrian forces warplane's attack in Aleppo, Syria, Saturday.
Civiian evacuation continues
in wartorn centr l Syrian ci
Hungarian Jewish group to
boycott Holocaust memorials
Members say they
will not participate
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP)
- The Federation of Hungar-
ian Jewish Communities said
Sunday it will boycott all gov-
ernment events commemorat-
ing the 70th anniversary of the
Holocaust in Hungary unless the
government cancels some of the
The dispute stems from his-
torical and ideological differenc-
es between the federation and
gain upper hand as
rebels restricted to
BEIRUT (AP) - Hundreds of
civilians were evacuated Sunday
from the besieged Syrian city of
Homs, braving gunmen spraying
bullets and lobbing mortar shells
to flee as part of a rare three-day
truce to relieve a choking block-
ade. Dozens were wounded as
The cease-fire came as Syrian
officials arrived in Switzerland
for a new round of talks with
opposition activists-in-exile to
try to negotiate an end to Syria's
More than 600 people were
evacuated from Homs on Sun-
day, said Governor Talal Bar-
razi. The operation was part of a
U.N.-mediated truce that began
Friday between the government
of President Bashar Assad and
armed rebels to allow thousands
of women, children and elderly
men to leave opposition-held
parts of the city, and to permit
the entry of food and supplies.
Forces loyal to Assad have
blockaded rebel-held parts of
Homs for over a year, causing
widespread hunger and suffer-
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's
government about the yearlong
series of remembrances centered
on the 1944 deportation of more
than 430,000 Hungarian Jews to
Nazi death camps.
"The known plans do not take
into account the arguments or
the sensitivity of the victims of
the horrors of the Holocaust,"
the group said, adding that there
had been "no substantive prog-
ress on the government side in
the dispute over the Hungarian
Holocaust Memorial Year." The
federation voted 76-2 in favor of
the boycott, with three absten-
Mazsihisz, the federation's
Hungarian acronym, wants the
government to abandon plans to
build a memorial of Nazi Ger-
many's 1944 invasion of Hunga-
ry and a project dedicated to the
child victims of the Holocaust.
The "House of Fates" memo-
rial is being built at a Budapest
railway station from which Jews
were deported to Nazi death
camps. The memorial honoring
children will include an exhibit
and education center, and Mazsi-
hisz said it has been sidelined
from the project, whose "histori-
cal approach remains unknown"
to the federation's experts.
Mazsihisz fears both memo-
rials will downplay the role of
Hungary and Hungarians in the
Dozens of people were wound-
ed when they came under fire as
they waited at an agreed-upon
evacuation point in the rebel-
held neighborhood of al-Qara-
bis, according to three activists
based in Homs, who spoke to The
Associated Press by Skype.
Despite the gunfire and
exploding mortar shells, hun-
dreds of women, children and
elderly men ran toward a group
of Red Crescent workers waiting
less than a mile (kilometer) away,
said an activist who gave his
name as Samer al-Homsy. The
Syrian activists said the gunfire
came from a government-held
The Syrian news agency SANA
also reported that civilians came
under fire, but blamed "terror-
ists," the government term for
At least four busloads of civil-
ians were shipped out, according
to footage broadcast on the Leb-
anese television station al-Maya-
deen. Wide-eyed children, their
prominent cheekbones sugges-
tive of malnutrition, tumbled out
of a bus, assisted by aid workers.
"Our life was a disaster, we
had no food, no water," one dis-
tressed woman said.
"There was nothing, my chil-
dren are all sick. They were
thirsty," she said, standingwith a
group of exhausted-looking chil-
dren as khaki-clad Syrian sol-
diers, Red Crescent workers in
red jump suits and U.N. workers
in blue protective vests gathered
around the buses.
Some evacuees were to be
hosted in government-run shel-
ters, others were going to join
relatives in safer areas, while
still others said they did not
know where they were going.
Khaled Erksoussi of the Syri-
an Red Crescent, which is assist-
ing the operation, told the AP
that the agency hoped to evacu-
ate as many civilians as possible
before the truce expires Monday.
On Saturday, gunmen opened
fire on civilians, leaving aid
workerswounded and two trucks
damaged, Erksoussi said, speak-
ing by telephone from Damascus.,
Despite the violence, the U.N.
High Commissioner for Refu-
'gees, Ant6nio Guterres, said
in a statement that the truce
showed "that even in the darkest
of nights it is possible to offer a
glimmer of hope to people in des-
perate need of assistance."
The Homs cease-fire was
arranged by U.N. mediator
Lakhdar Brahimi, who urged
the warring sides to aid the esti-
mated 2,500 civilians trapped in
the ancient, rebel-held quarters
known as Old Homs, to build
trust during the first face-to-face
meetings of government officials
and opposition figures in Swit-
zerland last month.
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