Categories
Massive Stone

Massive stone structures in Saudi Arabia may be some of oldest monuments in the world – Live Science

Mustatils have been found in a wide variety of environments in Saudi Arabia including six examples seen here on the slope of a volcano.

Mustatils have been found in a wide variety of environments in Saudi Arabia including six examples seen here on the slope of a volcano.

(Image: © Gary Rollefson)

They number in the hundreds, can be larger than an NFL football field and are found across Saudi Arabia, including on the slope of a volcano. Sprawling stone structures reported in 2017 now appear to be some of the oldest monuments in the world, dating back some 7,000 years, archaeologists now report. 

A new study of the mysterious stone structures — once called “gates” but now referred to as “mustatils,” the Arabic word for “rectangle” —suggests they were used for rituals; and radiocarbon dating of charcoal found within one of the structures indicates people built it around 5000 B.C., a team of researchers report in an article recently published in the journal The Holocene

Related: See photos of the mysterious stone structures in Saudi Arabia

“The mustatil phenomenon represents a remarkable development of monumental architecture, as hundreds of these structures were built in northwest Arabia,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “This ‘monumental landscape’ represents one of the earliest large-scale forms of monumental stone structure construction anywhere in the world.” 

Ritual use

The structures are made from low stone walls that form what often looks like a field gate from above (hence their former name). They range in size with some measuring less than 49 feet (15 m) long and the largest measuring about 2,021 feet (616 m) long. 

When first constructed, many of the mustatils would have had a platform on either end of the “rectangle,” the researchers found when analyzing some of the structures. On the platform of one mustatil, they discovered a painting with geometric designs on it. The design of the painting “is not currently known from other rock art contexts” in the region, the team wrote in the journal article. 

Related: Spectacular new photos of the ‘gates’ in Saudi Arabia

It “is quite possible that these structures would have been visually spectacular, and perhaps quite extensively painted,” study lead author Huw Groucutt, the leader of the Extreme Events Group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany, told Live Science. 

Few artifacts were found within the mustatils, suggesting that the structures were not occupied or used year-round. Also, the “the long walls [of the mustatils] are very low and typically lack obvious entry points, and therefore do not seem to be obviously functional as something like animal corrals,” the team wrote. 

Still, if the mustatils were in fact the sites of rituals, it’s still not clear what kinds of rituals would have taken place there. 

Image 1 of 4

This painting with geometric motifs was found on the platform of one of the mustatils.

This painting with geometric motifs was found on the platform of one of the mustatils. (Image credit: The Holocene)

Image 2 of 4

The largest mustatil discovered so far is 2,src21 feet (616 meters) in length and covers an area of more than 236,srcsrcsrc square feet (22,srcsrcsrc square m). Research team members can be seen on the right for scale.

The largest mustatil discovered so far is 2,021 feet (616 meters) in length and covers an area of more than 236,000 square feet (22,000 square m). Research team members can be seen on the right for scale. (Image credit: The Holocene)

Image 3 of 4

Mustatils have been found in a wide variety of environments in Saudi Arabia including six examples seen here on the slope of a volcano.

Mustatils have been found in a wide variety of environments in Saudi Arabia including six examples seen here on the slope of a volcano. (Image credit: Gary Rollefson)

Image 4 of 4

A stone platform on one end of the mustatil can be seen in the foreground.

A stone platform on one end of the mustatil can be seen in the foreground. (Image credit: The Holocene)

Territorial markers?

Today, the structures are found in a number of very arid places including the southern Nefud Desert (where Groucutt’s team conducted their fieldwork) as well as barren, inhospitable lava fields.

But if the structures were indeed crafted around 5000 B.C., they would have been in use when the climate in Saudi Arabia was wetter than it is today. “Between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago, “the Arabian Peninsula saw the most recent of the ‘Green Arabia’ periods, when increased rainfall transformed this generally arid region,” the researchers wrote in the paper. 

The largest mustatil discovered so far is 2,src21 feet (616 meters) in length and covers an area of more than 236,srcsrcsrc square feet (22,srcsrcsrc square m). Research team members can be seen on the right for scale.

(Image credit: The Holocene)

At the time, people in the region tended to be pastoralists — relying on herds of domesticated animals for food — while also hunting some wild animals, the researchers wrote in the paper. As such, the mustatils could have been a way for the people to mark their territory, the researchers said.

The mustatils may “represent one manifestation of the increasing territoriality that developed, induced by factors such as competition for grazing land in the challenging and unpredictable environments of Arabia,” they wrote. 

Even when the climate in Arabia was at its wettest, “the environment would have been highly seasonal and droughts would have occurred,” they added. 

Researchers react

Yorke Rowan, a senior research associate with the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, praised the research but noted that there are older examples of large-scale monumental stone construction noting that “kites” (massive stone structures used to hunt animals) appear to be older. 

Gary Rollefson, an emeritus professor at Whitman College in Washington, who was not involved with this research, called the finds “absolutely enthralling.” He noted that, in addition to mustatils, there are other types of rock structures in the area that may have also been places for ritual activity. 

“The paper by Groucutt et al. is an admirably detailed account of one enigmatic construction type — the mustatil rectangle — although there are several other stunning architectural patterns that reflect large-scale human cooperative ventures that have little apparent utilitarian purpose beyond social identity, social reaffirmation and social memory,” Rollefson told Live Science. 

Originally published on Live Science.

Read More

Categories
Roger Stone

Roger Stone under fire for allegedly using racial slur in radio interview – CBS News

Trump criticized for Stone commutation


Trump criticized for Stone commutation

08:13

Washington — Republican operative Roger Stone, who was relieved of a 40-month prison sentence by longtime ally President Trump this month, is coming under fire for using a racial slur during a radio interview Saturday, though he denies doing so.

Stone appeared on the Mr. Mo’Kelly Show, broadcast on KFI-AM in Los Angeles, on Saturday evening, during which he and radio host Morris O’Kelly discussed Mr. Trump’s decision to commute his prison sentence days before he was set to report to federal prison in Georgia.

During the phone interview, O’Kelly, who is Black, told Stone, “There are thousands of people treated unfairly daily. How your number just happened to come up in the lottery, I’m guessing it was more than just luck, Roger, right?” A man who sounds like Stone is then heard saying, “I don’t really feel like arguing with this Negro,” though the audio is muffled.

After attempting to reconnect with Stone and nearly a minute of silence from the GOP operative, he then reappears, saying, “You there? Hello?”

O’Kelly confronted Stone about the remark, though he denied making such a comment.

“I did not,” Stone responded. “You’re out of your mind.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, Stone again denied using the slur, saying “Mr. O’Kelly needs a good peroxide cleaning of the wax in his ears because at no time did I call him a negro.”

“That said, Mr. O’Kelly needs to spend a little more time studying black history and institutions,” he continued. “The word negro is far from a slur.”

Stone was convicted in November of seven charges of obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering in a case that stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison in February, but day before he was set to surrender, Mr. Trump wiped clean the entirety of his sentence and his two years of supervised release, but declined to issue a full pardon.

Read More

Categories
Roger Stone

Roger Stone uses racial slur on black radio host’s show – The Guardian

Roger Stone, the political operative whose 40-month prison sentence was commuted by Donald Trump, his longtime friend, used a racial slur on air while verbally sparring with a Los Angeles-based black…
Read More

Categories
Roger Stone

Roger Stone: Robert Mueller defends indictment over Russia probe – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionRoger Stone speaks to reporters reacting to Trump’s decision to grant clemency

Former US special counsel Robert Mueller has made a rare public intervention to defend his indictment of former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

Stone was found guilty on charges linked to an investigation led by Mr Mueller that found Russia tried to boost the Trump 2016 election campaign.

President Donald Trump commuted Stone’s 40-month jail sentence on Friday saying he was the victim of a “witch-hunt”.

In the Washington Post, Mr Mueller said Stone was rightly a convicted felon.

Stone was convicted of obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress.

The president’s move – sparing Stone from jail but not granting him a pardon – came just after a court denied Stone’s request to delay the start date of his prison term.

Leading Democrats and a few Republicans have condemned Mr Trump’s decision, saying it undermined the justice system.

The White House said that Department of Justice prosecutors under Mr Mueller only charged Stone out of frustration after failing to prove the “fantasy” that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Kremlin.

What do Mueller and others say?

Mr Mueller writes that he felt compelled to respond to claims that his investigation had been illegitimate, his motives improper, and Stone a victim.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Mr Mueller’s article is his first public statement since he gave testimony to Congress last year

“The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” he wrote.

He said that finding evidence of Russian interference was a complex task that took “two years and substantial effort” and resulted in a number of charges and prosecutions. Stone’s obstruction may have impeded efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable, he added.

“We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law,” he concluded. “The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.”

Mr Mueller rarely makes public statements about the investigation, and the article is the first since he gave testimony in Congress in July 2019.

His reaction follows strong condemnation by senior Democrats, with presidential contender Joe Biden’s spokesman accusing Mr Trump of abuse of power and “laying waste” to US values.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said it showed Mr Trump was the most corrupt president in history.

Some Republican critics of Mr Trump have also spoken out, with Senator Mitt Romney describing the president’s decision as “unprecedented, historic corruption”.

What does the president say?

In a tweet on Saturday, Mr Trump said: “Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place.”

Earlier, the White House said in a statement that Stone was “a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency”.

It also suggested that the FBI had tipped off CNN about their pre-dawn raid on Stone’s house, noting that a camera crew for the cable network was on the scene to record the arrest.

Mr Trump had been hinting about a reprieve for Stone for months, including on Thursday night in an interview with a Fox News host.

Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham was among those welcoming the decision. He said Stone was convicted of a “nonviolent, first-time offense” and the president was “justified” in commuting the sentence.

Stone himself told reporters that under the terms of the commutation he could now appeal against his sentence, and was confident that he could expose “an enormous amount of corruption” at his trial.

What was Stone convicted of?

The president’s commutation does not void a criminal conviction as a pardon does.

Stone was found guilty of lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact Wikileaks, the website that released damaging emails about Mr Trump’s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton.

US intelligence officials have concluded the messages were stolen by Russian hackers.

Stone had acknowledged during the 2016 campaign that he was in contact with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

He also intimated that he knew the website would disclose more than 19,000 emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee servers.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionTrump: ‘I’d love to see Roger Stone exonerated’

Stone’s sentence fell short of an initial seven-to-nine-year recommendation from prosecutors.

In a remarkable move, US Attorney General William Barr had overruled that sentencing guideline following a Trump tweet, and instead recommended a more lenient punishment.

That intervention led to the entire Stone prosecution team resigning from the case.

Read More