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Siberia's 'mammoth graveyard' reveals 800-year human interactions with mammoths

96 points16 hoursphys.org
_visgean15 hours ago

> Sadly, now that human-mammoth relationship has continued as ivory hunters have looted the site beyond further study.

Radio free europe had a really good photo essay on these new mammoth pirates: https://www.rferl.org/a/the-mammoth-pirates/27939865.html

shmageggy9 hours ago

That was exellently presented. Clear, informative, compelling. I especially appreciated getting to the end without being bombarded with any ads, popups, or begging for email signups. Curious how I could support such media, I found https://pressroom.rferl.org/about-rfe-rl/ which says,

> RFE/RL, Inc. is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded by the U.S. Congress through a grant from the United States Agency for Global Media...

Yay taxes!

the_af3 hours ago

> Yay taxes!

Well, the RFERL was funded through a CIA front organization, it was mostly an anti-communist propaganda operation. It definitely is/was a "state effort". So yes, taxes.

ljf4 hours ago

Was too stunning and interesting not to be a post in its own right:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40643610

danoni7 hours ago

> Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is an American government-funded international media organization

The purpose of RFERL is to produce news items that are covertly critical of the enemy. It adds up with other resources to paint a negative image of the enemy.

orbital-decay5 hours ago

How do you even report stuff like that without being "critical"? That's a legitimate issue covered in Russian media as well. Here's one of the multiple official reports, for example. https://www.archeo.ru/press-relizy/nezakonnye-ohotniki-za-bi...

badpun2 hours ago

When doing propaganda, subject selection is the key factor. If you want to do a smear campaign, you just do honest reporting, but only of the things about your target that are negative.

TomK325 hours ago

Russia and China are doing it on a much worse level and as the language barriers are quite high we don't see and hear of what they say about the West in their media. The French-German broadcaster ARTE has a good series called Fake News that lifts the curtain a bit https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlQWnS27jXh8H1ej2-Sk0...

_visgean6 hours ago

> covertly critical of the enemy

The radio is now based in Prague, it has a long history here and most people were quite happy to hear some real news during the communism. People tuning in risked prison time just to hear something else. I would not say you needed to be overtly critical, it was enough to just bring real news.

TomK325 hours ago

In Nazi Germany you risked a lot more than prison for listening to the BBC, though most death sentences were in combination with some treason accusations. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verordnung_%C3%BCber_au%C3%9Fe...

yladiz6 hours ago

Which enemy?

KeplerBoy6 hours ago

Russia?

The west is in a war-like situation with Russia. Portraying them as stupid, drunk rednecks who ravage trough the environment certainly fits the narrative. Doesn't mean it's not true though.

+2
distances5 hours ago
+3
danoni6 hours ago
8bitsrule12 hours ago

'Piracy' in this region began in the early 1700s - a quarter-millenium ago. 'Twas easier then though.

Here's another long, well-illustrated, little-known tale of exploration of the islands off N. Siberia. Fossil tusks were often found in huge quantities ... some islands covered in them.

https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2019/08/19/alaskan-muck-ivor...

"One of the most active and successful of the fur-hunters of that time was named Liakoff, and he from time to time obtained great quantities not only of valuable furs, but also of fossil ivory from the tusks and teeth of the mammoths, which he himself collected or received from the native Siberians.... Every year great quantities of ivorv were taken from the islands and sold in the markets at Yakutsk.

alekseiprokopev10 hours ago

I’m from Yakutia and remember sharing a hospital room with a former mammoth hunter. He had many stories to tell.

WithinReason9 hours ago

Was it a mental hospital, or was he hunting only bones?

jimnotgym3 hours ago

'Interactions' is a very passive phrase for killing and dismemberment!

joshuaheard10 hours ago

If they only killed a mammoth every 6 months, I wonder how they preserved the meat. That area is too far from the ocean to harvest salt. Maybe store it in the snow? What about summer? Smoking the meat would do it. They did find evidence of fire.

tokai6 hours ago

Apparently eating rotten meat could have been very common.

https://paleoanthro.org/media/journal/content/PA20170044.pdf

WithinReason9 hours ago

You hunt it in the autumn and preserver it in the cold.

From spring you can forage and hunt small prey all summer.

koliber10 hours ago

Maybe they made mammoth jerky.

houseplant10 hours ago

yeah smoking it or drying it by lying it in strips in the sun. if the air is dry enough it won't rot and will just turn into jerkey which lasts for ages. Many still do it to this day

I also just looked this up, but apparently mammoths were still walking the earth as early as only 3000 years ago! I thought it was way farther. The idea to bring them back to northern areas of earth doesnt sound so far fetched

kombookcha9 hours ago

It's a pretty fun party fact that by the time the last mammoths died out, the Great Pyramid was already 1500 years old :)

It gives me a lot of hope for revival projects that there's relatively 'young' dna to be found. Of course the reduced range towards the end probably means there's not many of these recent sources to source it from, but still!

mark_undoio6 hours ago

That flashed me back to a vague memory that the film 10,000BC showed mammoths in use building the pyramids, which I thought was incredibly silly (well, it was...). But it's kind of satisfying to know that the building at least overlapped with the mammoths in real life.

surfingdino5 hours ago

WWIV may be fought using mammoths and dinos? What a cool idea! /s

farseer4 hours ago

For a minute I thought this graveyard involved Stalin and one of his killing sprees.