- BBC - Travel - Why Genghis Khan’s tomb can’t be found
- Currie part of international team to solve mystery of bizarre Mongolian dinosaur
- How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire
Between the two substantial skeletons, it was now possible for the first time to describe the full Deinocheirus in a paper published today in Nature. At 11 metres long and with an estimated weight of 6. Rather, the apparently disproportionately large forearms were more likely used for digging and gathering plants in freshwater habitats, or for fishing. Among its other unusual attributes are tall dorsal spines, truncated hoof-like claws on the feet to prevent sinking into muddy ground, and bulky hind legs that indicate it was a slow mover. Currie notes that Deinocheirus is a descendant of ostrich-like dinosaurs that were only slightly larger than humans, so its evolution into a giant, multi-tonne creature is almost certainly responsible for most of its unusual characteristics.
To feed its great bulk, Deinocheirus was apparently an omnivore that ingested both plants and fish, as evident from fish remains found in its stomach contents. The fact that Deinocheirus is from the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia, one of the richest and most diverse dinosaur faunas known, hints that there are probably thousands of dinosaurs that we still do not know about from the majority of dinosaur localities in the world.
The now near-complete Deinocheirus specimen has been returned to its home for further study in the Mongolia Centre for Paleontology. In support of preserving these assets in Mongolia, Currie and his wife and research partner Eva Koppelhus have been working on a book about Mongolian dinosaurs to raise awareness and pride among Mongolians for their prehistoric treasures, hopefully as a way to deter further poaching. Phil Currie will speak about international dinosaur research at the University of Alberta in a special presentation Oct. Currie part of international team to solve mystery of bizarre Mongolian dinosaur.
Researchers piece together a year-old puzzle from poached fossils—and help a prehistoric giant return home. U of A eye specialist warns parents about dangers of Nerf guns. A University of Alberta ophthalmologist wants safety rules put in place for Nerf toys, after a patient was shot in the eye and nearly lost her vision.
The year-old woman was accidentally struck …. Read more from this release. Diets of nearly half of South Asian immigrants are unhealthy, study suggests. A significant percentage of new immigrants to Alberta from some South Asian countries are struggling with unhealthy eating habits, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
BBC - Travel - Why Genghis Khan’s tomb can’t be found
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Currie part of international team to solve mystery of bizarre Mongolian dinosaur
This takes the essence of shamanic beliefs and practices and repackages them in a safe, sanitized and often diluted form that is acceptable for Western seekers of alternative spirituality. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries the area known as Siberia was colonized by the Russians from Mongolia. They were led there by its abundance of wild animals that created a flourishing trade in animal skins and furs. The TSAR used the income from this enterprise to boost their economy and access the foreign currency that helped create the Russian empire.
The influx of Russian hunters, fur traders and merchants drastically affected the local population, which consisted of many different tribes. Along with the fur traders there also came missionaries and, in later times, anthropologists.
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The former were interested in converting the indigenous population to Orthodox Christianity, while the latter wanted to study their tribal culture, spiritual beliefs and ritual practices. Both these groups of outsiders contacted the tribal shamans of Siberia and, for totally different reasons, recorded and commented upon their religious observances. The earliest references to magical practitioners that could be described as shamans in fact date back to the 13th century. It was then that the first Western travelers penetrated Central Asia and visited the court of the Mongol rulers.
The explorer Marco Polo, for instance, met magicians who were healers and could diagnosis diseases by the use of divination. However, it was an English explorer called Richard Johnston in the 16th century who first described what sounds very like the activities of shamans proper.
One theory is that it is possibly derived from an ancient Chinese term for a Buddhist priest or monk. It reflected an animistic belief system where everything in the natural world was alive, permeated by spirit force or, in simple terms, inhabited by spirits. These spirits had to be respected and appeased or else the land would become infertile and barren, the animals relied upon for food would disappear and eventually the world would come to an end.
To achieve this essential and vital balance between humans, nature and the spirit world, a magical specialist was required and the shaman took that role. He or she acted as an intermediary or middle person between humanity and the Other, and a caretaker of cultural and magical tradition. Their job involved conducting blessings, especially on new-born babies, performing rituals of protection, divining the future, healing the sick, exorcising ghosts and demons, overseeing the burial of the dead, and generally communicating on behalf of the tribe with the spirit world and its denizens.
Initiation into the shamanic cult could be achieved in several different ways. The easiest was the hereditary route where magical knowledge, power and skill were passed down from grandfather or father to son or, more rarely, from grandmother or mother to daughter. Sometimes children were chosen at a very early age or even at birth by the spirits and instructed by them through the medium of visions and dreams. Young people who suffered a serious illness or disease or from epileptic fits, were introverted and dreamy, or had any form of mental condition or disability, were regarded as natural shamans who had been specially chosen by the spirits.
In later life those who felt a strong calling to become a magical practitioner would retreat from society, usually to a remote place in the wilderness, and undergo a vigil during which they invited the spirits to contact them and teach them the shamanic ways. Often these initiations by either another shaman or the spirits involved a traumatic visionary death and rebirth experience.
The ritual regalia given to the new shaman reflected the fact that he or she was a special person who was separate and different from other members of the tribe. Head-wear consisted of a conical or pointed cap made from felt or fur or the antlers of a reindeer. Some shamans wore iron-shod fur boots so when they stamped their feet they could drive away evil spirits. The majority of shamans carried a ritual drum similar in shape to the traditional Irish bodhran.
These were made from an animal skin stretched over a wooden frame and decorated with feathers and magical symbols representing spirit journeys to the Other world or the shamanic cosmology. The drum was very important and represented the symbolic and magical steed that enabled the practitioner to travel from Middle Earth to the realm of the spirits.
It was also a magical object in its own right that contained and focused spirit force or energy. By playing it the shaman could both attract spirits and exorcise them. In addition to the drum a magical staff was often carried. This was made of either wood or metal and was decorated with feathers, bells, ribbons and the pelts of small woodland animals. The shaman-healers were often female and they specialized in health matters connected with human and animal fertility, sexuality and children. They were recognizable by their distinctive skirts made from animal hide and brightly colored woolen hats.
Instead of the ritual drum used by the male shamans, they carried a silk fan and prayer beads. Unfortunately when Buddhism came to Siberia and Mongolia many of these female healers were ruthlessly persecuted and exterminated by the misogynist monks. As a result their extensive knowledge of herbs and plants used for natural healing was either lost completely or taken over by Buddhist healers and only practiced in a debased or diluted form.
Another female practitioner was the shaman-midwife, who inherited her power from the maternal line of familial descent. As well as ensuring that babies entered this world safely in a physical sense, she was also responsible for their spiritual protection from evil influences during birth and their well-being as children. In this sense she took on the role of a human fairy godmother.
Immediately after a birth the shaman-midwife cut the umbilical cord and then purified the new-born baby with salt water and fire. Any female only witnesses to the birth could only be present if they had first been ritually purified by the midwife with fire and water. These essential rites were the responsibility of the shaman-midwife and her assistants. Another type of shamanic healer was a bone-setter who called upon spirit guides to help them in their healing work. They mainly repaired broken and dislocated bones and torn ligaments, healed back pain caused by spinal injuries or disease and also skin infections such as boils, rashes, psoriasis and eczema.
Most of the shamans worked with what modern New Agers call animal allies or spirit-helpers in animal form. These entities assisted them with their magical work and also taught them. For instance, the shaman-midwives described above worked with an animal spirit in the form of a mountain fox. The first bone-setter is supposed to have been taught his skills by a snake so that creature was sacred to the clan.
How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire
Other shamanic practitioners were assisted by reindeer or wolves for attacking and destroying evil spirits, and ravens for getting rid of diseases. Other important animal spirit helpers included owls, wild ducks, geese, squirrels, bears, frogs and toads, dogs, seagulls and eagles. One of the most important and respected types of magical practitioners was the shaman-smith. In all cultures all over the world from Europe to Africa the smith took a central role in tribal society and was regarded as a powerful magician or sorcerer because of his mastery over fire and skill in working with metal.
There are many legends about blacksmiths making pacts with demons, gods or the Devil or tricking and outwitting them to acquire their skills. There are also many smith gods in ancient mythology who were magicians, made weapons for the Gods or acted as cultural exemplars by inventing agricultural tools. In Siberia the shaman-smiths made and magically consecrated the ritual metal objects used by other shamans.
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They were only chosen by the spirits and instead of a drum they used their anvils to communicate with the spiritual realm. They obtained their power from the north possibly the North Pole or the North Star and could be easily identified as they always wore black robes with very little, if any, decoration. The primary function of the black shaman was to deal with demons and the dark gods on behalf of their clients. In this role they were hired to curse their enemies and blight their crops and livestock.
In wartime the black shamans attached themselves to the army rather like the modern padres and helped to win battles using their occult powers. In peacetime they took a more positive role as diplomats, political advisers and emissaries and they oversaw the preparation and signing of treaties with the appropriate magical rites. Black shamans were greatly feared, even after their deaths.
They operated at a tribal level almost exclusively as healers and diviners and they only had dealings with beneficent entities. It was their role to pacify angry or evil spirits, exorcise them if they possessed human beings and help the tribe live in harmony with their natural environment and the spirit world.
To this end on a physical level they were often employed in an administrative role to oversee tribal affairs. In Siberian and especially Mongolian shamanism the ger, a traditional dwelling constructed from a framework of wooden poles covered with animal skins and with a central smoke-hole in the roof, was a microcosmic symbol or representation of the universe. For this reason all movement inside the ger was conducted, if at all possible, in a deosil or sunways direction. This also reflected the traditional direction of movement used in shamanic rituals and dances. The centre of the ger, where a fire burnt in a hearth and was seldom extinguished, was symbolic of the actual centre of the world or universe.