New study on kingship and sainthood in Islam offers a striking new historical perspective


New study on kingship and sainthood in Islam offers a striking new historical perspective

Lahore Mosque and fortAt the end of the sixteenth century and the turn of the first Islamic millennium, the powerful Mughal emperor Akbar declared himself the most sacred being on earth. The holiest of all saints and above the distinctions of religion, he styled himself as the messiah reborn. Yet the Mughal emperor was not alone in doing so. In this field-changing study, A. Azfar Moin explores why Muslim sovereigns during this period began to imitate the exalted nature of Sufi saints.

Ancient tree-ring records from southwest U.S. suggest today’s megafires are truly unusual

Christopher Roos, fire scar, tree ring, ancient fire, Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age, anthropology, SMUToday’s mega forest fires of the southwestern U.S. are truly unusual and exceptional in the long-term record, suggests a new study that examined hundreds of years of ancient tree ring and fire data from two distinct climate periods, says study co-author and fire anthropologist Christopher I. Roos, SMU.

New Texas Native: 96-million-year-old crocodile Terminonaris makes its first appearance in Texas, switches origins

Gharial-snout-400x300.jpgMaking its first appearance in Texas, a prehistoric crocodile thought to have originated in Europe now appears to have been a native of the Lone Star State.

The switch in origins for the genus known as Terminonaris is based on the identification of a well-preserved, narrow fossil snout that was discovered along the shoreline of a lake near Dallas. SMU paleontologist Thomas L. Adams identified the reptile.

Tiny teeth discovered from Inner Mongolia are new species of today’s birch mouse, rare “living fossil”

Sicista_betulina%2Ccredit%20Dodoni%20400x300.jpgTiny fossil teeth discovered in Inner Mongolia are a new species of birch mouse, indicating its ancestors are much older than previously reported, says SMU paleontologist Yuri Kimura.

The fossils were discovered in sediments that are 17 million years old, says Kimura, who identified and named the species Sicista primus. This adds millions of years to the rodent family Sicista, she said.

3-D mapping of Guatemala’s “Head of Stone” confirms ancient Maya buildings buried beneath forest cover

Looters-tunnel-400x300%2032k.jpgAn archaeological team co-led by SMU archaeologist Brigitte Kovacevich has made the first three-dimensional topographical map of ancient monumental buildings long buried under centuries of jungle at the Maya site "Head of Stone" in Guatemala.

The map puts into 3-D perspective the location and size of Head of Stone's many buildings and architectural patterns, which are typical of Maya sites.

Modern-day bamboo tool-making shines light on scarcity of Stone Age tools from prehistoric East Asia

Replica%20stone%20tool%20400x300.jpgThe long-held theory that prehistoric humans in East Asia crafted tools from bamboo was devised to explain a lack of evidence for advanced prehistoric stone tool-making processes. But can complex bamboo tools even be made with simple stone tools?

A new study suggests the "bamboo hypothesis" is more complicated than conceived, says SMU archaeologist Metin I. Eren. A modern-day flint knapper, Eren and colleagues replicated the crafting of bamboo knives and confirmed that it is possible to make a variety of bamboo tools with the simplest stone tools. However, rather than confirming the long-held "bamboo hypothesis," the new research shows there's more to the theory, Eren says.

Flying Texas reptile: World’s oldest Pteranodon? First specimen of its kind discovered as far south as Texas

McIV%20%2B%20humerus%20copy%20400x300%20small.jpg Fossilized bones discovered in Texas are from the left wing of an ancient flying reptile that died 89 million years ago — possibly the earliest occurrence of the prehistoric creature Pteranodon, says SMU paleontologist Timothy S. Myers, who identified the fossils.

If the reptile is Pteranodon, it would be the first of its kind discovered as far south as Texas.

3D digital download of giant Glen Rose dinosaur track is roadmap for saving at-risk natural history resources

bandstand.jpg Internet users now can download an exact facsimile of the huge fossil footprint of a 110 million-year-old dinosaur that is a favorite track from Texas' well-known Dinosaur Valley State Park.

SMU scientists created the digital facsimile using 3D laser technology and are making it available free to the public. The model preserves a footprint on permanent outdoor display that's being destroyed by weathering, says SMU paleontologist Thomas L. Adams.

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