mistaken identity

Ancient Greek warriors may not be who we thought they were

Plus: A self-proclaimed UFO expert explains what may be lurking in an upcoming Pentagon report.

Greek vase showing soldiers fighting at war in Athens Greece ( Fifth period 431 - 404 )
Original edi...
Grafissimo/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

History has a habit of being rewritten. But thanks to advances in science and technology, we’re gaining an ever-clearer picture of what life may have been like during some of the most crucial periods of human civilization — like the time of the ancient Greeks.

As Inverse innovation reporter Sarah Wells writes, between 480 BCE and 409 BCE, the Greek city of Himera (located on what is now modern-day Sicily) experienced two great battles by invading Carthaginian armies. Famously, the first attack in 480 BCE was fended off with the help of non-local Greek allies, while the second battle was mostly fought by Greek locals and resulted in the city’s fall.

At least, this is how Herodotus and other historians of the time remembered the battle for antiquity. When researchers put their accounts to the test, however, they didn’t hold up. The truth, it seems, is in fact written into the ancient soldiers’ very bones.

I am Claire Cameron, managing editor of Inverse. Manifest the weekend a little early and scroll on to unravel the truth about ancient Greek warriors, as well as other wild-but-true stories about the origin of language, a clash of tech titans, and more.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for May 14, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Do you believe?


UFO evangelist: Pentagon report is just the “tip of the spear”Luis Elizondo is a leading voice calling for the Pentagon to release a report on UFOs. Elizondo spoke to Inverse’s own John Wenz about what might be in the report. For those who don’t know Elizondo, Wenz introduces him thus:

Elizondo is among several public personalities who, in the past few years, have distinguished themselves as among the leading voices calling for “disclosure” — essentially, getting the U.S. government to fess up about unidentified aerial phenomena (aka UFOs).

So, what is in the report? Initially, Elizondo did not want to respond to Inverse. But he didn’t remain silent for long.

“The reality of UFOs is no longer a stigmatized issue. It’s fact, and most of DoD and IC leadership believe it’s time for the truth to come out,” Elizondo tells Inverse via email.

Read the full interview to find out more.

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Say it with us.

GeorgePeters/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Listen: A new theory for the origin of language The origins of languages may link back to “iconic vocalizations,” according to a new study.

Inverse staffer Bryan Lawver explains:

Complex speech is one of the defining features of humans, so it makes sense that scientists want to learn more about its origins. A leading theory about the origins of language suggests early humans first used iconic gestures to convey meaning without the need for a mutual language.
Now, researchers from the University of Birmingham suggest iconic vocalizations may have played a similar role — and you can test the idea yourself.

Can you guess what this sound means?

Test yourself on more iconic sounds.

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Who were the ancient Greek heroes, really?


Ancient tooth debunks a 2,500-year-old claim about Greek soldiersA team of anthropologists analyzed the remains of Greek soldiers and discovered that history books may have fibbed about who actually fought some of the most infamous battles in classical history. Inverse innovation writer Sarah Wells has the story:

Greek historians like Herodotus are famous for writing down some of the first-ever Western historical records and waxing poetic about the skirmishes and wars waged throughout Ancient Greece. But just because these stories are famous doesn’t necessarily mean they’re entirely true.
Doing isotope analysis of ancient teeth, a team of researchers from the University of Georgia has uncovered some Greek military secrets you won’t find in history books, including the fact that soldier diversity may have been greater than the likes of Herodotus let on.

What the scientists say: “This study suggests that ancient communities were more diverse than previously thought.” — Katherine Reinberger, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Georgia and first author on the paper.

Unlock the history.

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Written into your genes — or not.


Can love be genetic? Netflix’s The One uses genetics to help customers find their soulmates through DNA matching tech. Scientists say it’s poorly researched wishful thinking, journalist Sofia Quaglia reports.

The science behind The One is fiction — not much is known about what element of choice is involved in ant reproduction — and the series does little to explore the ethical conundrums of a genetically predefined happy ever after. Still, it’s an appealing fantasy and one that researchers all over the world have long tried to solve. While some scientists believe genes can and should be used to match people, others think it’s just poorly researched wishful thinking. One thing both sides do agree on: they still don’t have a final answer.

In fact, there is a real dating app that uses similar technology, Quaglia reports. Timothy Sexton, CEO of the dating app DNA Romance, says The One isn’t that far off from the service he already offers.

“I guess I was happy that The One came out and it was highlighting the fact that DNA-based dating was a real thing,” Sexton tells Quaglia.

But one scientist had this to say about the idea behind The One: “It’s all just a bit crap, to be honest.” Oof.

Get the inside scoop.

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Game on.


#FreeFortnite is a dirty trick that might just work — The Epic Games vs. Apple trial has been a mess, and it may be — at least in part — due to Epic’s “Free Fortnite” campaign. Inverse video games writer Giovanni Colantonio reports:

The two tech giants are facing off in court after Apple took all of Epic’s apps, including the enormously popular free-to-play game Fortnite, off of the App Store last year. Epic responded to the move by firing up a legal battle that seeks justice for app developers everywhere who have to abide by Apple’s rules.
It’s a complicated case. Apple charges developers a 30 percent commission fee on app purchases, which Epic argues is unreasonably high. That also includes in-app purchases, which means it gets a cut of things like V-Buck sales (the in-game Fortnite currency). For app developers, the case is a monumental deal that could rein in what’s seen as a big bad in the tech world.
Epic wants you to think it's the good guy in this scenario. While the company may be justified in its complaints about Apple’s tactics, there’s one area that firmly plants Epic in a moral gray zone: the way it has mobilized its community throughout the battle.

What the experts say: “The wielding of one’s online fanbase as an ‘army’ can often have bad, unintended consequences.”

Read the full story.

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Let me know what you think of this daily dispatch by emailing newsletter@inverse.com. You can follow me on Twitter at @ClaireHCameron, where I share some of my favorite stories from Inverse and elsewhere around the web every day.

May 14 birthdays — George Lucas (77), Mark Zuckerberg (37), Cate Blanchett (52), Tim Roth (60), Rob Gronkowski (32) (Source: AP)

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