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2000-Years-Old Elephant Bone Unearthed In Spain Sparks Inquiry Into Its Role In Historic Battles Led By Hannibal Or Julius Caesar

It is an enigma of mammoth proportions, which is why its discovery was kept under wraps for four years, until more information could be gathered. During an emergency excavation in Córdoba in 2019, archaeologists found a carpal (hand bone) of “an elephant of large proportions” killed between the end of the 4th century and the middle of the 1st century B.C. Its location, the hill of Los Quemados and its surroundings, in the heart of the southern Spanish city of Córdoba, was possibly the main theatre of a large-scale battle involving African elephants. In addition, 17 projectiles (fired by catapults) and other weapons have been located. The Roman Gaius Lucius Marcus took the city, which until then had been in Carthaginian hands, in 206 B.C., and in 45 B.C. Julius Caesar, who was protected by the elephants of the Mauretanian king Bogud, expelled the Pompeians during the Roman Republic’s second civil war. Therefore, the questions are: does the bone come from one of Hannibal’s war elephants or one of Julius Caesar’s? Or could it even be one of the pachyderms sent by the kings of North Africa to the siege of Numancia? Did the animal die in battle or due to another reason? The experts are not sure.

Rafael Martínez, the zoologist and assistant professor of prehistory at the University of Córdoba, has examined the bone and explains to EL PAÍS that it is a “carpal belonging to the right hand, a bone also known as capitatum, of an African or Indian elephant. It is very difficult to determine the species, whether Asian (Elephas maximus) or African (Loxodonta Africana). This discovery is of enormous interest given the practical absence of remains of elephants from a pre-Roman context in Europe, excluding ivory objects, of course.”

“In any case,” he continues, “this discreet bone can be interpreted as proof of the presence of these animals in the area of present-day Córdoba between the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C. The reason why it is so interesting is that it is not a tusk, which was raw material for making crafts, but a hand bone. It could belong to the period of the Punic Wars [between Carthaginians and Romans]. It could be the first of Hannibal’s elephants to be discovered. We can’t know for sure, but it was certainly a sizeable beast.”

Experts have not been able to perform a carbon-14 analysis to determine the date of the pachyderm’s death, because the bone fragment, measuring 15 by 8 centimeters, is not fossilized, but remains porous. Specialists, however, have saved a small sample for a possible protein analysis to obtain more information.

The story of the discovery begins in 2019, when the Amancio Ortega Foundation donated €40 million ($42.8 million) to provide Spanish hospitals with high-tech equipment. Three of the devices were destined for the Reina Sofía university hospital in Córdoba. But a problem arose. Since radiation is used in the treatments, a concrete bunker needed to be constructed to keep the effects of the equipment away from the other patients in the health center. The regional authorities approved the Spanish businessman’s donation and so, given the historical nature of the hill where the hospital stands, it approved emergency excavations.

Carpal bone from the hand of the elephant found in Córdoba.Carpal bone from the hand of the elephant found in Córdoba.Rafael Martínez

Agustín López Jiménez, an expert from Arqueobética (the consultancy that carried out the archaeological research) explains that the place where the bone was found was “an important economic center of the Tartessian and later Turdetan culture.” And he explains how the discovery was made: “At the beginning of the intervention [dig] we documented structures from the Andalusian Emirate and Caliphate period [8th to 10th centuries]. Beneath them, remains emerged of collapsed adobe walls from the high Iberian period, around the 3rd century B.C. Under the one of these collapsed walls is where the carpal was located. In addition, we found 17 catapult ‘bullets’ (small artillery projectiles) and a spear tip (a spike that was used to stick the weapon into the ground). But we have no evidence that a battle or siege took place at the site, so the discovery of these war items was a surprise.” In addition, an oven made with adobe bricks, some coins, an Iberian millstone, Hispanic annular brooches and La Tène type brooches (4th century B.C.) were also found.

Fernando Quesada, a world-renowned expert on pre-Roman weapons, who also collaborated on the research, is not inclined toward either of the two options (Roman or Carthaginian elephant). “The contexts have not been made, and I have not seen the materials. It may be an elephant belonging to Hannibal or to Julius Caesar when he requested that King Bogud of Mauretania come to his aid at Montemayor [Córdoba] and possibly bring elephants. We do not know if the projectiles are associated with the animal, so I do not have a formed opinion. At this time it is impossible to determine.”

One of the catapult projectiles from the find in Córdoba.One of the catapult projectiles from the find in Córdoba.
Arqueobética Quesada also cautions that the elephant could be an animal from the 1st or 3rd centuries A.D. “It could be a pachyderm from North Africa that joined the Carthaginian armies, but it could also be from 50 B.C., so the context would correspond to the Roman civil wars in Andalusia, when Julius Caesar came to Hispania. In that case, we would get into some confusing military campaigns that we are studying at the Montemayor site, just a day’s walk from Córdoba. That is, it could be an elephant brought by King Bogud, who came to help one of the sides in the battle. Caesar is directly involved in some of the campaigns, but in others he is not. We also know that in other battles, such as Numancia [133 B.C.], the kings of North Africa sent elephants to help, and they would have had to pass through Andalusia. It is too early to say.”

Córdoba is not the only place where the Carthaginians were able to use pachyderms. On the banks of the Tagus at Driebes (Spain), it was proven that Hannibal fought with 40 elephants to defeat the troops of the Carpetani, Vettones and Olcades tribes, who were much superior in number. But the Indigenous people did not take into account the genius of the invader, who placed his troops at the fords of the river — the only places where it could be crossed on foot — so the Carpetani had to concentrate their warriors at those places, and therefore lost their numerical advantage: a lot of troops, but too little space to fight.

Iberian annular brooch found at the Los Quemados archaeological site.Iberian annular brooch found at the Los Quemados archaeological site.Agustín López

To force them to cross, Hannibal built a palisade parallel to the riverbed. He placed the cavalry at the fords and the infantry and most of the elephants behind the palisade. When the Carpetani tried to cross the river, they died: swept away by the waters or killed by the Carthaginian horsemen, who were better supported by the river bed. Of the fifty African pachyderms that Hannibal had, 20 were donated to his brother Hasdrubal to maintain the war against the Romans in the Iberian Peninsula while he directed the rest of the animals toward the Pyrenees. For years, Emilio Gamo, director of Driebes research, has been conducting surveys in the Tagus in search of skeletal remains of the animals that entered battle. “At the moment, we have not been successful, because we have to cover a length of more than 10 kilometers of river. It is very difficult,” he says.

The trench where the elephant's bone was found.The trench where the elephant’s bone was found.Arqueobética

Between 48 and 45 B.C.

Caesar’s troops fought around the city of Ulia (present-day Montemayor) against the legions of Pompey the Great and his sons Gnaeus and Sextus, in a period that is known as the Roman Republican Civil Wars. Caesar’s army was commanded by General Quintus Cassius Longinus. After multiple changes in fortune — both sides were Romans and had the same weapons and tactics — Cassius asked King Bogud for help, who had time to arrive with reinforcements, possibly with African elephants, says Quesada.

Whose army does the elephant’s hand found in the heart of the city of Córdoba belong to? For the moment, it is unknown. But at last there is proof that an ancient war elephant stood on the banks of the Guadalquivir, and it is kept discreetly in the warehouses of the Archaeological Museum of Córdoba.


From the living room to the vault: the story of a painting that no one knew was a Van Dyck | Culture

The painting The presentation of the baby Jesus to Saint Barbara, by the Flemish painter Anton van Dyck, remains secure in an insurance company’s safe deposit box in Seville waiting to find out what its next destination will be. For several generations this canvas, measuring 130 by 92 cm, has been hanging in pride of place at a family home in Jaén (southern Spain). The family always looked at it with admiration, but little did they know that every day they were sitting under a masterpiece.

To the astonishment and disbelief of the family, a Madrid art company authenticated the painting as a work by Anton van Dyck (1599-1641) last year. Along with Rubens, the artist is considered the most important of the Flemish painters. The heir to this family legacy, who has been inundated with offers from famous auction houses, has the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville at the top of his list of buyers. Managed by the Junta de Andalucía, the museum has already shown its interest in adding the painting to their art collection.

The Andalusian Ministry of Culture confirmed to EL PAÍS that the family wrote to them in July to inform them of the existence of the canvas, but now they are waiting to resume contact to delve deeper into the matter. “If, as it seems, it is a Van Dyck, anything that enriches the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts is of interest to us, of course it is,” says a spokesperson from the Ministry. The painting is kept under lock and key and the owner, at the moment, has not allowed photos to be taken.

“The owner of the painting has no intention of speculating, but he does have a special interest in it staying in Seville, the city where the family now lives and with which he has a special connection,” says Luis Baena, the lawyer representing the painting’s owner, who wishes to remain anonymous for the moment. Van Dyck is a key painter in the development of the Sevillian baroque due to the influence he had among 17th century artists.

It is thought that the painting might have reached the home of this family in Jaén through Seville (where part of the family lived) in the 17th century. This was when more than a hundred Flemish families, mainly merchants and bankers, settled in the Andalusian city. After its authenticity was certified, the canvas, which showed obvious signs of deterioration as it was a painting from the first third of the 17th century, was restored by a workshop of renowned Andalusian professionals.

At the moment, The presentation of the baby Jesus to Saint Barbara does not have an official appraisal, although its owners anticipate that they will ask for “a fair and reasonable price.” In any case, it is known that, after coming to light, this work of art will be significantly revalued. Just this year, art collector Albert B. Roberts bought an oil sketch of Saint Jerome with an angel that had been found in a shed in upstate New York for over $600. After offering the work to Sotheby’s auction house, he sold it for more than $3 million. Part of those profits went to the Albert B. Roberts Foundation, which provides financial support to artists and various charities.

“It is very difficult to specify an approximate value of this type of work of art. Each painting has its own features,” says Consuelo Durán, who manages the Durán auction house. In any case, up to more than €9 million ($9.4 million) have been paid for Anton van Dyck’s works in the past. That was the amount that Alfred Bader and Philip Mold paid in 2009 at an auction at Sotheby’s in London, which set a record for works by the Flemish painter.

In a case similar to what occurred with the Andalusian family, a priest from the county of Cheshire in the United Kingdom bought a portrait for £400 ($482) in 2014. It was later revealed that it was a sketch of one of the magistrates that the Dutch artist portrayed in 1634. The resulting painting decorated the walls in Brussels city hall until it was destroyed in a French attack on the Belgian capital 61 years later.

Anton Van Dyck became the first court painter in England after a long stay in Italy. He is universally known for his portraits of the Genoese nobility and of Charles I, king of England and Scotland, his family members and his court. In addition to portraits, for which he was highly appreciated, he also dealt with biblical and mythological themes, introducing some notable pictorial innovations.

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8 Reasons Why Highly Intelligent Individuals Tend To Embrace Messiness At Home

By Darren Wilson

In the realm of intellectual brilliance, the concept of order and tidiness often takes a backseat. Highly intelligent individuals, driven by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and innovation, forge their paths in a world of ideas and creativity.

This propensity for intellectual pursuits can give rise to living spaces that may seem cluttered and untamed to the untrained eye.

Here, we dive into eight compelling reasons why some of the brightest minds in history tend to gravitate towards messy households, shedding light on the unique relationship between intelligence and chaos.

1. Unkempt Homes Foster Creativity and Novelty

For highly intelligent individuals, a chaotic environment serves as a crucible for creativity.

Studies from the University of Minnesota have shown that disorderly settings encourage thinking outside the box. In experiments, participants in cluttered rooms generated ideas perceived as more enjoyable and innovative.

This environment fosters a unique brand of creativity, allowing brilliant minds to explore uncharted territories of thought.

2. Disinclination to Adhere to Social Norms

Conformity rarely finds a place in the lives of the highly intelligent. These individuals possess an independent streak that extends to their living spaces.

They question the societal expectation of a meticulously clean home, choosing instead to embrace the chaos that mirrors their unconventional thinking.

Their rejection of conformity extends to their environment, where their independent spirit takes precedence over tidiness.

3. Energy Allocated to Intellectual Pursuits

The pursuit of intellectual endeavors consumes the majority of their energy. Immersed in research, contemplation, and problem-solving, these individuals leave minimal room for routine tasks like cleaning.

This single-minded dedication to intellectual pursuits manifests in a living space that reflects their prioritization of knowledge over cleanliness.

4. Immersed in Thoughts, Oblivious to Surroundings

The minds of highly intelligent individuals are a whirlwind of intellectual activity. Lost in contemplation about the nature of existence and the complexities of the universe, they often become oblivious to their immediate surroundings.

This profound mental engagement takes precedence over the physical environment, resulting in spaces that may appear untamed to others.

“In the world of a true entrepreneur, chaos and creativity dance in perfect harmony.”

– Raza H. Qadri

5. Cleaning Appears Boring and Monotonous

Geniuses often find routine tasks like cleaning to be uninspiring and monotonous.

Their minds are wired to seek intellectual stimulation and challenge, rendering cleaning a lower priority.

They possess a higher threshold for messiness, requiring mental engagement that everyday tasks cannot provide.

6. Independence Trumps Social Approval

Independence is a hallmark of highly intelligent individuals. They chart their paths, setting their own standards and disregarding external validation.


This autonomy extends to their living spaces, where their personal preferences dictate the level of tidiness. They clean not to conform but to accommodate their own thresholds of disorder.

7. Priority on World-Changing Pursuits

For these exceptional minds, the pursuit of groundbreaking ideas takes precedence over mundane tasks.

Cleaning, considered peripheral in the grand scheme of their intellectual pursuits, is deferred to allow room for the development of technologies and solutions that shape the course of progress.

8. Aversion to Mundane Tasks

The brilliance of these minds lies in their ability to envision a transformative future. The act of cleaning pales in comparison to the exhilaration of ideation and innovation.

Cleaning becomes a secondary concern, reserved for moments when disorder reaches an insurmountable level. The brilliance of their minds manifests not in pristine living spaces, but in the ideas and innovations that have the power to change the world.

8 Reasons Why Highly Intelligent Individuals Tend To Embrace Messiness At Home

“Glimpse” by PS Art

In the tapestry of intelligence, the threads of brilliance are often interwoven with chaos. Highly intelligent individuals find their stride amidst clutter, using their mental prowess to craft worlds of innovation and creativity. While their living spaces may appear untamed, they stand as a testament to the extraordinary minds that inhabit them.

In the pursuit of groundbreaking ideas and transformative technologies, the genius of messiness finds its place. It is a reminder that the true measure of brilliance lies not in the pristine order, but in the world-altering ideas that emerge from the minds of these exceptional individuals.

Thank You For Your Love And Support!

— By Darren Wilson | Team ‘THE VOICE OF EU

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Copyright Dispute: DC Comics And ‘Fables’ Author Clash over Ownership, Author Aims for Public Domain

A detail from a 'Fables' cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.

This is a story full of fairy tales. In some ways, it even resembles one. And yet it also proves that, in the real world, things rarely end happily ever after. A few days ago, Bill Willingham, the father of the celebrated Fables comic book series, announced that he was sending his most cherished work to the public domain, that is, to everyone. That’s only fair, since that is also where he got the main characters of his stories, from Snow White to the Wolf, from Pinocchio to Prince Charming, who were then relocated to modern New York. In this tale, the hero has long-faced mistreatment at the hands of the villains, DC Comics, the owner of Vertigo, which publishes the work in the United States, and its executives.

“If I couldn’t prevent Fables from falling into bad hands, at least this is a way I can arrange that it also falls into many good hands,” Willingham wrote in an online post in which he decried the label’s repeated attempts to take over his creations and opposed them with this final extreme remedy. But the company responded that it considers itself to be the true owner of the series.

In a statement published by the specialized media IGN, the company threatened to take “necessary action” to defend its rights. Thus, the end of the dispute is uncertain. But it is unlikely that everyone will end up happily ever after.

In the meantime, in a new post, Willingham celebrated the massive support he received. In fact, for the moment, he has declined all interview requests — he did not respond to this newspaper’s request, nor did the publisher — arguing that he preferred to spend the next few days working on new artistic projects. Meanwhile, the dispute continues.

Fables is one of the most celebrated graphic novels of the last 20 years, and it has spawned spin-offs and a video game adaptation (The Wolf Among Us).

This situation also touches on a key issue, namely, the intellectual property rights of characters and works, especially in a sector where, for decades, dozens of cartoonists and screenwriters have accused comic book giants Marvel and DC of pressuring them to cede their ideas and accept commissioned contracts.

Willingham sums it up as a policy aimed to make creators sign “work for hire” agreements and crush them. All of this makes a gesture that was already intended to make a splash even more resonant.

A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC.

Indeed, the battle over intellectual property is as old as contemporary comics: the copyrights for Superman, Batman and The Fantastic Four all have unresolved disputes and complaints from Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger and Jack Kirby over the contemptuous treatment they suffered. And heavyweight Alan Moore has been lamenting for years that DC took away his ownership of famous works like Watchmen.

Along with prestige and principles, tens of millions of dollars are at stake, especially now that the film industry has become interested in comics.

“When you sign a contract with DC, your responsibilities to them are carved in stone, where their responsibilities to you are treated as “helpful suggestions that we’ll try to accommodate when we can, but we’re serious adults, doing serious business and we can’t always take the time to indulge the needs of these children who work for us” the Fables author wrote on his blog. Following the impact of his original message, Willingham posted two other texts. He maintains that he had thought about sending his work into the public domain when he passed away, but that “certain events” have changed his plans: among them, he lists the changes in management and attitude at the top of the publishing company; the multiple breaches of obligations such as consultations about covers, artists for new plots and adaptations; DC’s forgetfulness when it came to pay, which forced him to demand invoices of up to $30,000; the suspicious frequency with which the publisher attributed it to “slipping through the cracks” (to such an extent that the author insisted that they stop using that expression); and the time and chances he gave them to respect the pact, renegotiate it or even break it and consensually separate.

A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham's comprehensive collection of 'Fables.'
A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham’s comprehensive collection of ‘Fables’.

“Shortly after creating Fables, I entered into a publishing agreement with DC Comics. In that agreement, while I continued to own the property, DC would have exclusive rights to publish Fables comics, and then later that agreement was expanded to give DC exclusive rights to exploit the property in other ways, including movies and TV.

DC paid me a fair price for these rights (fair at the time), and as long as they behaved ethically and above-board, and conducted themselves as if this were a partnership, all was more or less well. But DC doesn’t seem to be capable of acting fairly and above-board.

In fact, they treated this agreement (as I suppose I should have known they would) as if they were the boss and I, their servant. In time that got worse, as they later reinterpreted our contracts to assume they owned Fables outright,” Willingham laments. Hence, he concluded that “you can’t reason with the unreasonable.”

Having ruled out a lawsuit as too expensive and time-consuming at 67 years of age, he found a more creative solution: if they prevented him from owning his works and benefiting from them as he was entitled to do, he would not let the publisher do so either. Or, at least, everyone could use the comics as they wished. But the label was quick to clarify in its statement to IGN: “The Fables comic books and graphic novels [are] published by DC, and are not in the public domain”.

For his part, Willingham promises to continue fighting for all the conditions of his still-in-force contract that he considers DC to have violated, as well as for the last installments of the series, the final script of which he delivered two years ago.

There will be additional chapters in this dispute, as well as in many other ones like it: in 2024, the historic first image of Mickey Mouse, the one that starred in the 1928 short Steamboat Willie, enters the public domain in the U.S. and other countries. Copyright in the U.S. lasts for 95 years, and math is an exact science.

Therefore, in a few years, King Kong, Superman and Popeye will meet the same fate. But The New York Times has wondered how the “notoriously litigious” Disney will react and how far it will go to fight in court. And who would dare to freely use all these works for fear of a million-dollar lawsuit? The same question surrounds DC and similar companies. Because in the real world, fairy tales are rare. Or they end up in court.

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