Monday, September 11, 2017

HUMAN SKELETON FOUND NEAR TULUM, MEXICO, SUGGESTS HUMANS IN THE AMERICAS IN 13,000 YEARS AGO


Analysis of a skeleton found in the Chan Hol cave near Tulum, Mexico suggests human settlement in the Americas occurred in the late Pleistocene era.

Scientists have long debated about when humans first settled in the Americas. While osteological evidence of early settlers is fragmentary, researchers have previously discovered and dated well-preserved prehistoric human skeletons in caves in Tulum in Southern Mexico.

To learn more about America's early settlers, Stinnesbeck and colleagues examined human skeletal remains found in the Chan Hol cave near Tulum. The researchers dated the skeleton by analyzing the Uranium, Carbon and Oxygen isotopes found in its bones and in the stalagmite which had grown through its pelvic bone.

The researchers' isotopic analysis dated the skeleton to approximately 13,000 years before present. This finding suggests that the Chan Hol cave was accessed during the late Pleistocene, providing one of oldest examples of a human settler in the Americas. While the researchers acknowledge that changes in climate over time may have influenced the dating of the skeleton, future research could potentially disentangle how climate impacted the Chan Hol archaeological record.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-08-human-settlement-americas-late-pleistocene.html#jCp

ANCIENT GREAT HOUSES BUILT IN FOUR CORNERS REGION ARE BEING INVESTIGATED


Near Mancos, Colorado, on the site of a former auto-repair shop here, broken stone walls mark the site of a 900-year-old village that may yield new insights into an ancient desert culture. The ruins are what remains of two “great houses” — apartment buildings, essentially — that formed a northern outpost of a civilization based at Chaco Canyon, about 100 miles away in northwestern New Mexico.

Archaeologists from the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, in nearby Cortez, have just begun the first systematic excavation of this site in an effort to learn how its residents lived in the early 1100s, and how they related to the wider Chaco culture. In particular, the Northern Chaco Outliers Project aims to determine when the village was occupied, how many people lived there, and whether they did so during an extended drought of 1130-1180, which may have accelerated a northward movement of people from Chaco.

The project is the first in many years to systematically excavate any of about 250 great houses that were built in the region known as Four Corners, said John Kantner, an archaeologist at the University of North Florida. “We have so little understanding of the role of great houses and the relationship between others and Chaco Canyon itself,” said Dr. Kantner, who excavated Blue J, another Chaco-related site in New Mexico.

The project here has the potential to “fill in the gaps about the outlying great houses,” he said.

ROMAN CAVALRY BARRACKS UNEARTHED NEAR HADRIANS WALL DATING TO ABOUT 2,000 YEARS AGO WITH THOUSANDS OF ARTIFACTS

Archaeologists are likening the discovery to winning the lottery. A Roman cavalry barracks has been unearthed near Hadrian’s Wall, complete with extraordinary military and personal possessions left behind by soldiers and their families almost 2,000 years ago. A treasure trove of thousands of artifacts dating from the early second century has been excavated over the past fortnight. The find is significant not just because of its size and pristine state, but also for its contribution to the history of Hadrian’s Wall, showing the military build-up that led to its construction in AD122. The barracks pre-dates the wall: the Romans already had a huge military presence in the area, keeping the local population under control.

“The native Britons took an opportunity, when the emperor Trajan died in AD117, to rebel,” says Andrew Birley, who heads the archaeological team. “The soldiers stationed in the north before the wall was built became involved in fighting and were very vulnerable. The evidence we have from this [find] shows the incredibly rich and diverse lifestyle these people had.”

Archaeologists stumbled on the site by chance and have been taken aback by finds in a remarkable state of preservation. These include two extremely rare cavalry swords – one of them complete, still with its wooden scabbard, hilt and pommel – and two wooden toy swords. One has a gemstone in its pommel. As well as other weapons, including cavalry lances, arrowheads and ballista bolts – all left behind on the floors – there are combs, bath clogs, shoes, stylus pens, hairpins and brooches. Sections of beautifully woven cloth have also been unearthed. They may have come from garments and have yet to be tested.

There are also two wooden tablets covered in marks made in black ink. They are thought to be letters, but their contents have yet to be deciphered as they were rushed into a conservation laboratory to ensure their survival.

The barracks, that dates from AD105, was found beneath the fourth-century stone fort of Vindolanda, south of Hadrian’s Wall near Hexham, Northumberland. It is one of the site’s earliest barracks. Hadrian did not begin his 73-mile defensive barrier – to guard the north-western frontier of the province of Britain from invaders – until 122.

The artifacts survived because they were concealed beneath a concrete floor laid by the Romans about 30 years after the barracks was abandoned, shortly before 120. The concrete created oxygen-free conditions that helped preserve materials such as wood, leather and textiles, which would otherwise have rotted away. There is a huge range of stuff – their hair combs, pots, wooden spoons, bowls, weapons, bits of armor, and their cavalry bling.

“Even for us, it’s very unusual to get things like complete Roman swords, sitting on the ground in their scabbards with their handles and their pommels. We were slightly dumbfounded by that. Then, to find another complete sword in another room next door only two meters away, two wooden swords and a host of other cavalry equipment, all in beautiful condition, is just terrific. “Archaeologists would never expect to find a Roman cavalry sword in any context, because it’s like a modern-day soldier leaving his barracks and dumping his rifle on the floor … This is a very expensive thing. So why leave [it] behind?”

He recalled feeling “quite emotional” over the discovery: “You can work as an archaeologist your entire life on Roman military sites and never expect, or imagine, seeing such a rare thing, even at Vindolanda. It felt like the team winning a form of archaeological lottery, and we knew we had something very rare and special before us.”

Hidden in this soil, they went on to find, were the timber walls and floors, fences, pots and animal bones from the abandoned barracks. To their astonishment, excavating about 3.5 meters down, they uncovered eight rooms, with stables for horses, and living accommodation, with ovens and fireplaces. They believe that the base was home to more than 1,000 soldiers and probably many thousands more dependants, including slaves. The Romans had covered over this early barracks with concrete and heavy clay foundations before building another above it. At Vindolanda, garrisons would arrive, build their forts and destroy them when leaving.

Cavalry swords are very rare, even across the north-west provinces of the Roman empire, he said, partly because they are so thin. “They’re very light, a couple of feet long, designed to slash somebody as you’re riding past, with a wickedly sharp blade and a point.”
Other finds include copper alloy cavalry fitments for saddles, strap junctions and harnesses. They are in such fine condition that they still shine and are almost completely free of corrosion. The strap junctions are preserved so beautifully, he said, that they have all their alloy links – incredibly rare survivals. Much of the pottery has graffiti, from which the archaeologists hope to work out the names and stories of some of the people who lived here.

Quite why so much valuable material was left behind has yet to be discovered. One theory is that the barracks was abandoned in a hurry. Birley said: “There was strife. This is the precursor to Hadrian coming to the UK to build his wall. This is the British rebellion. So you can imagine a scenario where the guys and girls at Vindolanda are told: ‘We need to leave in a hurry, just take what you can carry.’ If it’s your sword or your child, you grab the child.”

NEW EVIDENCE ABOUT MASADA AND WHO WAS ACTUALLY THERE.. DIFFERENT THAN HEROD'S ANCIENT TALE


In February 2017, Stiebel headed the first excavations atop Masada in over a decade. He and his team broke ground at some previously untouched areas of the site, including an untouched section of Herod’s fresco and mosaic-bedecked northern palace in search of its garden, a collapsed cave believed to possibly house rare scrolls, the Byzantine monastery, and open areas of the plateau once used for agriculture.

Cutting-edge archaeological techniques helped glean a more detailed picture of the past that would have been impossible during Yadin’s time. The picture emerging from these new data about Masada’s inhabitants is far more complex than previously assumed. “It’s not one monolithic group,” Stiebel explained, describing the people living at Masada before its fall as a “very vibrant community of 50 shades of gray” of Judea.

“We have the opportunity to truly see the people, and this is very rare for an archaeologist,” he said. Among them are women and children, who are too often underrepresented in the archaeological record. Through archaeology, the study of the material culture found on Masada, architecture and a restudying of Josephus, he and his team can even pick out where different groups originated from before coming to Masada. “We know people by name, we know people by profession. We can learn about the way this group of rebels lived,” he said.

Stiebel was loath to disclose too many particulars about his team’s finds until they could be published in a scientific journal. He divulged, however, that he and his team have managed to extract “tremendous amounts of data” from the newly excavated areas of the site by adopting a multidisciplinary approach. Beyond the typical archaeological methods, the co-operation with team of archaeobotanists and archaeozoologists enable them to learn about Masadans’ diet, studied pollen samples to learn what crops they raised, and scrutinized metal and ceramic fragments, testing the latter for clues in 2,000-year-old residues.

These techniques have allowed Stiebel to determine that the Jewish rebels subsisted on food they cultivated atop the mountain, and grew cattle and goats. He also determined that a century before the rebels arrived, King Herod imported fine wine that originated from a vineyard in southern Italy.

The extreme aridity atop Masada, which was largely vacant following the siege (except for 200 years of occupation by Byzantine monks), permits preservation of artifacts “beyond words.” Previous excavations have turned up delicate organic materials: wood, parchment, leather and human hair. Stiebel’s latest dig in February yielded additional potsherds bearing Hebrew inscriptions of Masada’s final Jewish residents.

These discoveries have helped shed light on the day-to-day lives of Masada’s Judean refugees, offering a glimpse at a cross-section of Jewish society during a critical period. Excavating at Masada sheds light not only on its inhabitants, but also on the people who lived in Jerusalem and Judea in the nascent years of Christianity, and the twilight of Jewish independence.

Stiebel plans to publish at least two papers describing the results of these digs in greater detail in the near future, and the Tel Aviv University team will be returning to Masada for another season of excavations in February 2018.

Read more: http://forward.com/news/382132/exclusive-new-archaeology-shows-refugee-camp-not-just-rebels-atop-masada/

EGYPT HAS NEW TOMB OF A JEWELER THAT HOPES TO REVIVE TOURISM INDUSTRY



After five months of digging under an unforgiving sun, a team of Egyptian archaeologists unearthed the tomb belonging to the goldsmith who had lived in the desert province of Luxor. The jeweler, who lived during the 18th dynasty (about 1567 B.C. to 1320 B.C.), had dedicated his work to Amon-Re, the most powerful deity at the time. Amenemhat’s tomb was found in Draa Abul-Naga, a necropolis for noblemen and rulers near the Valley of the Kings, on the left bank of the Nile River.

The discovery was a relatively modest one, but in a country that has been trying to revive its tourism industry, which has been decimated by political strife and terrorist attacks after the 2011 uprising, officials announced the find with fanfare. “This find is important for marketing,” Egypt’s antiquities minister, Khaled el-Enany, said at a news conference outside the tomb on Saturday. “This is exactly what Egypt needs.”

The tomb’s main chamber had statues of Amenemhat and his wife seated on chairs, according to Mostafa Waziri, the archaeologist who led the dig. One statue shows her wearing a long dress and wig. A smaller statue, discovered between the couple, depicts one of their sons.


The chamber also contained pottery, wooden funerary masks and ushabti figurines, which are small blue, black or white statues that ancient Egyptians placed in tombs to serve the dead in the afterlife.





NEADERTHALS FOUND IN CROATIA OLDER THAN ORIGINALLY THOUGHT THAT BRINGS UP NEW FACTS


The Neanderthal remains were originally found in the cave approximately 40 years ago and have been tested for age several times. They have also been the subject of much speculation, as it was thought that the remains represented the last of the Neanderthals in that part of Europe and that they existed for a short period of time in close proximity to modern humans.

Initial testing suggested the remains were approximately 28,000 to 29,000 years old. More recent tests have put them at 32,000 to 34,000 years old. Both time frames coincide with the arrival of modern humans into the area, keeping alive the theory that the two groups mixed, both physically and socially. But now, using what is being described as a more accurate technique, the group with this new effort has found that the remains are older than thought.

The new technique, called ZooMS involves radiocarbon dating hydroxyproline—an amino acid taken from collagen samples found in bone remains. The team also purified the collagen to remove contaminants. The researchers report that the new technique indicates that the remains—all four samples—were approximately 40,000 years old. This new finding puts the Neanderthal in the cave well before the arrival of modern humans, thus, there could not have been mixing of the two.

The researchers also studied other artifacts from the cave, including other animal bones, and found that the artifacts were a mixed bag, representing a timeline of thousands of years. The animal bones, they found, were from bears. This has led the team to conclude that the reason more modern artifacts were found with older artifacts is because of bears mixing them up.

The researchers conclude by claiming their study has shown that the Neanderthals at the Vindija cave did not overlap in time with modern humans, and thus were not the final holdout that many have suggested.


Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-09-dating-neanderthal-vindija-cave-older.html#jCp

Monday, September 04, 2017

NEOLITHIC BURIAL, MORE THAN 5,000 YEARS OLD NEAR STONEHENGE, WILL BE INVESTIGATED

A Neolithic burial mound near Stonehenge could contain human remains more than 5,000 years old, experts say. The monument lies in Pewsey Vale, halfway between Avebury and Stonehenge in Wiltshire, and was identified in aerial photographs and followed up by geophysical survey imagery.

As part of the University's final Archaeology Field School, students and staff, with the support of volunteers from the area, have investigated the site of a Neolithic long barrow burial mound in a place known as Cat's Brain - the first to be fully investigated in Wiltshire in half a century.

The monument, which predates nearby Marden Henge by over 1,000 years, is believed it could contain human remains buried there in about 3,600 BCE. The Cat's Brain long barrow, found in the middle of a farmer's field, consists of two ditches flanking what appears to be a central building. This may have been covered with a mound made of the earth dug from the ditches, but has been ploughed flat over many centuries.

Dr Jim Leary, director of the university's archaeology field school, said: "Opportunities to fully investigate long barrows are virtually unknown in recent times and this represents a fantastic chance to carefully excavate one using the very latest techniques and technology. Discovering the buried remains of what could be the ancestors of those who built Stonehenge would be the cherry on the cake of an amazing project."

Dr Leary's co-director, Amanda Clarke, said: "This incredible discovery of one of the UK's first monuments offers a rare glimpse into this important period in history. We are setting foot inside a significant building that has lain forgotten and hidden for thousands of years."

In addition to the Cat's Brain long barrow site, the University of Reading's Archaeology Field School is working at Marden henge, the largest henge in the country, built around 2,400 BC, also within the Vale of Pewsey. Little archaeological work has been carried out in the Vale, especially compared with the well-known nearby sites of Avebury and Stonehenge. The project aims to fill this gap in our knowledge and highlight the importance of the area in the Neolithic period.

Edited from BBC News, PhysOrg (12 July 2017)
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AVEBURY STONE CIRCLE HAS NEW FIND

Avebury is a massive monument, largely created during the 3rd millennium BCE. Its perimeter is a 420 meter diameter earthwork, within which is the world's largest known stone circle - a ring of around 100 standing stones which itself encloses two inner stone circles, each constructed around one of two huge megalithic structures known as the Cove and the Obelisk. The Obelisk was recorded in the 18th century as the largest stone at Avebury, but was later destroyed.

A square formation has been discovered within the Neolithic stone circle at Avebury, the village 130 kilometers west of London. Archaeologists believe the hidden stones, discovered using ground-penetrating radar, were one of the earliest structures at the site, and may have commemorated a Neolithic building dating to around 3500 BCE.

Previously archaeologists had speculated that the 330 meter diameter outer stone circle - the largest in Europe - preceded its enclosed features. The latest work suggests that a wooden building seeded the monument, a series of stone structures place around it over hundreds of years.

According to Mark Gillings, an archaeologist at the University of Leicester: "Our working interpretation is that the house is the first thing. It falls into ruin but they're still remembering and respecting it. They put a square around it about 3000 BC and then the circles."

Clues to the existence of a square structure, each side of which was around 30 meters in length, were first discovered by Alexander Keiller, who excavated in 1939, revealing a number of small standing stones in a line close to the former location of a 6-meter upright stone known as the Obelisk. Keiller's excavation also uncovered postholes and grooves, indicating that a building had once been there, which he supposed was medieval.

When the newly discovered square was compared with Keiller's notes it was found that the stones were centered on and aligned with the building, suggesting Neolithic origin. Similar Neolithic buildings have been discovered recently at other sites.

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Edited from The Guardian (29 June 2017), Arts & Humanities Research Council
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ROCK ART VIEWED IIN THE MOONLIGHT SHOW THAT THEY WERE VIEWED EVEN MORE AT NIGHT THAN IN DAYTIME T

A new investigation of the stone age rock art panel at Hendraburnick Quoit in Cornwall, southwest England, found nearly ten times the number of markings when viewed in moonlight or very low sunlight from the south east. The researchers also discovered that pieces of white quartz which would have reflected moonlight or firelight had been deliberately smashed up around the site.

Study leader Dr Andy Jones, of the Cornwall Archaeological Unit says: "I think the new marks show that this site was used at night and it is likely that other megalithic sites were as well. We were aware there were some cup and ring marks on the rocks but we were there on a sunny afternoon and noticed it was casting shadows on others which nobody had seen before.

When we went out to do some imaging at night, when the camera flashed we suddenly saw more and more art, which suggested that it was meant to be seen at night and in the moonlight. Then when you think about the quartz smashed around, which would have caused flashes and luminescence, suddenly you see that these images would have emerged out of the dark.

Stonehenge does have markings, and I think that many more would be found at sites across the country if people were to look at them in different light."

Hendraburnick Quoit is a large propped 'axe-shaped' stone that was set upon a low platform of slates on Hendraburnick Down, near Davidstow, around 11 kilometres east of the promontory site of Tintagel Castle. Dr Jones believes the stone was dragged up from the valley in the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, around 2,500 BCE.

Previous studies had recorded 13 cup marks, but Dr Jones and colleague Thomas Goskar found 105 engravings under low-angled light, which now makes it the most highly decorated and complex example of rock art known in southern England.

Edited from The Telegraph (7 July 2017)
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HUNDREDS OF STONE TOMBS DISCOVERED IN JORDAN

Hundreds of ancient stone tombs have been discovered in Jebel Qurma, south of Damascus, in a 'black desert' stretching across northeastern Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Many are covered by stone cairns, while others are more complex 'tower tombs'. Tomb robbers have pillaged many of the burials, but archaeologists have found clues to how human life changed in the region over the course of millennia.

Project leader Peter Akkermans, of Leiden University in the Netherlands, writes that: "While the foci of daily living and domestic activity were in secluded areas at the foot of the basaltic uplands or in the deep valleys through which wadis run, it appears that the preferential areas for the disposal of the dead were on the surrounding high plateaus and the summits of the basalt hills."

The team found evidence suggesting that between the late third millennium BCE and the early first millennium BCE, few people lived in Jebel Qurma. A cemetery that contains about 50 cairns stopped being used around 4,000 years ago, which seems to coincide with a large scale withdrawal of people from the region.

Until very recently it was believed that people did not return to Jebel Qurma until the mid or late first millennium BCE, but recent research reveals that the area was re-inhabited in the early first millennium BCE by people who did not use pottery. Another possibility is that people were living in Jebel Qurma, but their remains have yet to be found.

In the late first millennium BCE, the inhabitants began building 'tower tombs', a type both larger and more difficult to construct than the earlier cairns. Some towers are up to 5 meters in diameter and 1.5 meters high, with straight facades made of large, flattened basalt slabs weighing 300 kilos. Initially, Akkermans thought the tower tombs were built for elite members of the society, but recent fieldwork reveals the type is common in the both the local area and the desert region as a whole.

Edited from Jebel Qurma, LiveScience (13 July 2017)
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ROCK SHELTERS WITH SOUND REFLECTIONS ATTRACTED ROCK ARTISTS

Researchers say that members of early farming communities in in the central Mediterranean preferred to paint images in rock shelters where sounds bounced off walls and into the surrounding countryside. Archaeologist Margarita Diaz-Andreu of the University of Barcelona and colleagues report that in landscapes with many potential rock art sites, "the few shelters chosen to be painted were those that have special acoustic properties."

Diaz-Andreu's team studied two rock art sites generally dated to between approximately 6,500 and 5,000 years ago. In southeastern France, at the kilometer-long cliff site of Baume Brune, only eight of the forty-three naturally formed cavities in the cliff contain paintings, which include treelike figures and horned animals. On the east coast of Italy, in the Valle d'Ividoro, at an 800-meter-long section of a gorge, only three of eleven natural shelters contain painted images.

The researchers popped balloons in front of each rock-shelter, recording the sound waves from various locations and distances. Three-dimensional slow-motion depictions of echoes revealed that at both sites, shelters with rock paintings displayed better echoing properties than undecorated shelters, and that shelters with the best echoes had the highest number of paintings.

In a separate study of paintings in northern Finland dated to between around 7,200 and 3,000 years ago, music archaeologist Riitta Rainio of the University of Helsinki and her colleagues found that echoes from steep rock cliffs bordering three lakes also attracted ancient artists. She and her colleagues recorded from boats on the lakes.

Similarly, at the Grotte de Niaux in southwestern France, archaeologist Paul Pettitt of Durham University in England observes that many roughly 14,000 to 12,000 year-old animal drawings and engravings are concentrated in a cathedral-like chamber where sounds echo loudly.

Edited from Science News (26 June 2017)
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ISLE OF MAN IN THE IRISH SEA HAS FINDS OF 160 ROUND BARROWS


A team of archaeologists, students, and local volunteers have for the past twelve months been investigating prehistoric mounds in fields south of Kirk Michael, a village in the north of the Isle of Man - the island in the Irish Sea famous for its annual motorcycle race. The site overlooks the sea with good views of both Scotland and Ireland.

The Isle of Man is home to over 160 round barrows - human burial sites found throughout the British Isles and in continental Europe. First appearing around 3800-3600 BCE, different kinds of round mounds were built sporadically during the Neolithic period and in large numbers during the Early Bronze Age.

The team is led by Doctors Rachel Crellin, a native of the island who now lectures in Archaeology at Leicester University, and Chris Fowler, a lecturer at Newcastle University. Finds so far include the collar of what is believed to be a burial urn of the type commonly found upside down on top of human ashes.

Among other artifacts are a number of flint tools, one of which is a scraper with beveled edges used to remove fat from animal hides.
The team has been running workshops for local schoolchildren and offering daily tours for the public. Heritage Open Days are scheduled for the autumn.
Doctor Crellin says a burial mound of this type has not been excavated on the island for some time, and hopes modern techniques will reveal specific new information about the site, and about prehistory on the island generally.

Edited from IOM Today (21 July 2017)
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DENISOVANS -- ARE THEY PART OF OUR ANCIENT LINEAGE?

During the time of one of our ancient ancestors, the Neanderthals, there also lived a long extinct hominid known as Denisovan. While very little is known about Denisovans, we do know that we share some common DNA and that they might have contributed a positive factor to our immune system. They also shared a common DNA with their Neanderthal cousins.

Until recently our total knowledge of Denisovans has been based on two teeth and a finger bone, which were all found in a cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. There has now been a exciting fourth find, that of a baby tooth, on the same site back in November, 2015. Extensive research has now been carried out on the tooth by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

The tooth was found in a sedimentary layer which has been dated at between 128,000 and 227,000 years old, pre-dating previous Denisovan finds by between 50,000 and 100,000 years! To put this in perspective this time span would indicate that the Denisovans had occupied the site for a longer period than modern humans have occupied Europe.

Vivian Slon, from the Institute, is quoted as saying "Such a long span of time increases the chances that the Denisovans and the Neanderthals may have interacted and interbred". The main point of note is that all Denisovan finds so far have emanated from one site. Without further finds from other locations the researchers are unable to determine whether the finds so far represent the entire spectrum of Denisovan genetic diversity or are an isolated branch.

Edited from LiveScience (10 July 2017)
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[1 image]ere Denisovans an isolated part of our lineage?

Monday, August 28, 2017

SOME 400 VIKING OBJECTS STOLEN FROM A NORWEGIAN MUSEUM

Some 400 Viking objects were stolen from a Norwegian museum at some time over the weekend of Aug. 11-13, the museum's director said describing the loss as "immeasurable". "If the stolen objects are not returned, this is by far the most terrible event in the 200 years of Norwegian museum history," the director of the University Museum of Bergen in southwestern Norway, Henrik von Achen, told AFP.

The items, most of them small metal objects like jewelry, "do not have monetary value attached to them" and the value of the metal itself "is also quite small," he said. "Yet the great and immeasurable loss is connected to the cultural history value of the items, which exceeds the monetary value many times over," he added.

Thieves were able to enter the museum on the seventh floor via scaffolding on the building's facade. The stolen objects had been temporarily placed there ahead of a planned transfer to a more secure location on Aug. 14. Norwegian police are investigating the case together with their international counterparts.

Meanwhile, the museum was surveying all of the stolen objects and posting photos of them on social media sites so "that the items become well-known and hence more difficult to sell and easier to spot," von Achen said.

BABYLONIAN CLAY TABLET (3700 YEAR OLD) IS WORLD'S OLDEST AND MOST ACCURATE TRIGONOMETRIC TABLE

Sydney scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world's oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, possibly used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces and temples and build canals. The new research shows the Babylonians, not the Greeks, were the first to study trigonometry - the study of triangles - and reveals an ancient mathematical sophistication that had been hidden until now.

Known as Plimpton 322, the small tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, academic, diplomat and antiquities dealer Edgar Banks, the person on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based. It has four columns and 15 rows of numbers written on it in the cuneiform script of the time using a base 60, or sexagesimal, system.

The UNSW Science research provides an alternative to the widely-accepted view that the tablet was a teacher's aid for checking students' solutions of quadratic problems. "Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles. It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius.

The new study by Dr Mansfield and UNSW Associate Professor Norman Wildberger is published in Historia Mathematica, the official journal of the International Commission on the History of Mathematics. A trigonometric table allows you to use one known ratio of the sides of a right-angle triangle to determine the other two unknown ratios. The Greek astronomer Hipparchus, who lived about 120 years BC, has long been regarded as the father of trigonometry, with his "table of chords" on a circle considered the oldest trigonometric table. "Plimpton 322 predates Hipparchus by more than 1000 years," says Dr Wildberger. "It opens up new possibilities not just for modern mathematics research, but also for mathematics education. With Plimpton 322 we see a simpler, more accurate trigonometry that has clear advantages over our own."

"A treasure-trove of Babylonian tablets exists, but only a fraction of them have been studied yet. The mathematical world is only waking up to the fact that this ancient but very sophisticated mathematical culture has much to teach us." Dr Mansfield read about Plimpton 322 by chance when preparing material for first year mathematics students at UNSW. He and Dr Wildberger decided to study Babylonian mathematics and examine the different historical interpretations of the tablet's meaning after realizing that it had parallels with the rational trigonometry of Dr Wildberger's book Divine Proportions: Rational Trigonometry to Universal Geometry.


The left-hand edge of the tablet is broken and the UNSW researchers build on previous research to present new mathematical evidence that there were originally 6 columns and that the tablet was meant to be completed with 38 rows. They also demonstrate how the ancient scribes, who used a base 60 numerical arithmetic similar to our time clock, rather than the base 10 number system we use, could have generated the numbers on the tablet using their mathematical techniques.


"Plimpton 322 was a powerful tool that could have been used for surveying fields or making architectural calculations to build palaces, temples or step pyramids," says Dr Mansfield. The tablet, which is thought to have come from the ancient Sumerian city of Larsa, has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 BC. It is now in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University in New York. The name is derived from Pythagoras' theorem of right-angle triangles which states that the square of the hypotenuse (the diagonal side opposite the right angle) is the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

Friday, August 25, 2017

METAPONTUM, ITALY, FOUNDED IN THE LATE 8TH CENTURY BCE

Metapontum (Greek: Metapontion, modern name: Metaponto) is located on a fertile plain which stretches along the southern coastline of the Basilicata region of southern Italy. The city, situated at the mouths of the Bradano and Basento Rivers, was founded by the Achaeans of the Greek Peloponnese c. 720 BCE as part of the wave of Greek colonization from the 8th century BCE onwards across the entire region of southern Italy. Archaeological evidence points to the presence on the site of an earlier Italian town which then displays evidence of Greek culture. A fully-Greek settlement seems to date from c. 630 BCE.

Metapontum, along with such local rivals as Tarentum (modern Taranto) and Siris (modern Nova Siri), became one of the most prosperous cities in the region which would become known as Magna Graecia. Controlling an extensive area of the lands around the city - some 200 km2 - the success of the colony was largely based on agriculture, fishing and horse-breeding and is attested by the extensive and regular divisions of land in the area with over 850 accompanying small farms which were used over several generations. It is not known if such farmsteads were inhabited all year round or inhabited only during the growing season and then used as storehouses. The average plot of land at Metapontum measures 9 hectares which is larger than the 5 hectares needed to support a single family in the ancient Mediterranean and perhaps indicative of the greater space available in the Greek colonies and so their attraction for emigrants from the homeland.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NAZI-LOOTED BOOKS FOUND IN GERMAN LIBRARIES

A man in California holds a book in his hand. It contains a personal dedication from his former school teacher. The elderly man was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Beyond a family photo and one item of clothing, the book is the only thing that he has from his former home country. He has tears in his eyes. The book was recently returned to him, its rightful owner. "Such moments are truly filled with happiness, because we see that all of our work is really worth it," says Uwe Hartmann, head of provenance research at the German Lost Art Foundation in Magdeburg.

The Lost Art Foundation has organized a program called "Initial Check" in order to enable the search for stolen books in smaller German libraries: The program has tasked three experienced provenance researchers to scour libraries in Saxony-Anhalt, and look for suspicious items. Their aim is to find out whether such inventory items are in fact looted goods.

Elena Kiesel is conducting research related to the Magdeburg City Library. The historian knows exactly which Jewish families or political parties in the region were dispossessed. "She has the lists compiled during earlier studies," says librarian Cornelia Poenicke, referring to inventories put together after German reunification. In the early 1990s, researchers were looking at a completely different chapter in Germany's history of confiscations - namely those of estate owners in the early stages of East Germany's nascent communist era. "In the end, she will go through the library's shelves and look through the books, at least part of them," adds Poenicke. "She won't make it through all 80,000 volumes but she will make random samples."

Finding looted books in small and medium-sized libraries is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. In Magdeburg, researchers are not even certain that there are any needles to be found. But larger finds have indeed been made in other libraries. For instance, the library of Jewish department store owners Hermann and Oskar Tietz - whose company Herman Tietz & Co. was rebranded as Hertie after the Nazis took possession of it - had been thought lost forever until just two years ago. Then 500 volumes from the collection were found in the city of Bautzen.

Uwe Hartmann says that books from Jewish collections started making their way into public libraries after compulsory expropriation began in the wake of the November 1938 Reichspogromnacht - also referred to in English as the Night of Broken Glass. But also when those fortunate enough to be able to emigrate were forced to sell off everything they owned in order to pay the obligatory Reich Flight Tax. Additionally, looting increased in areas occupied by the Nazis as the war went on. The persecution of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany was characterized by its perfidious systematization. But that is exactly what makes it possible to identify once stolen items today. One source of information is the inventory of the Reichstauschstelle, which functioned as an exchange for those interested in restocking libraries destroyed during the course of the war. Many of those exchanges were documented.

Unlike looted artworks, the Nazis were not necessarily interested in the financial value of individual books, but rather, at times, in their value in terms of "ideological counter research." The National Socialists and their leading ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg, were keenly invested in collecting intellectual arguments against Judaism.

Since 2014, the German Lost Art Foundation has been spending some four million euros ($4.7 million) annually for provenance research in German libraries and museums. The financing, which comes from Germany's federal government, is a direct result of the 1998 Washington Principles agreement: In the agreement, signatory states pledged to find the prewar owners of looted property and find "fair and just solutions" for how to deal with such items.

The German Lost Art Foundation publishes descriptions of found books along with photos and stamp marks in its lostart.de databank when it cannot locate rightful owners or their heirs. This provides those owners or heirs the opportunity to contact the foundation. Although it is impossible to know what such research will bring, Maik Hattenhorst of the Magdeburg City Library says that he hopes to be able to point to positive discoveries by the time the library celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2025.

"We look at Bautzen and now the five libraries in Saxony-Anhalt as examples," says Uwe Hartmann. "Six thousand libraries across Germany are stocked with historical books. That is why I always tell my students: Not even the next generation of museum and library staff will be able to finish what you have started."


MOSAICS IN "POMPEII" OF THE EAST REVEAL MOMENT OF DESTRUCTION THAT CRUSHED A CITY 1,200 YEARS AGO



Mosaics in the city of Jerash lie where they were left more than 1,200 years ago when the settlement was abandoned. A devastating earthquake struck the city in the year 749 CE, after which the surviving inhabitants of the town never returned. Now a house where mosaics were made has been discovered in the city, offering a snapshot in time of an artisan's studio when the disaster struck.

Jerash has been studied and gradually excavated for more than 100 years, but archaeologists are still revealing new aspects of the city at the time of the earthquake. Recent investigation has revealed several mosaics from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods.
One building discovered in 2015 stood out as something unusual, described in a study published in the journal Antiquity and found in the north-west quarter of the city.

"This area, covering approximately 3,000 square metres, might almost be termed the 'Pompeii of the East', displaying frozen moments in time," write study authors Achim Lichtenberger of the University of Münster, Germany, and Rubina Raja of Aarhus University, Denmark.

The building was centered around a rectangular room with an arch, opening onto a courtyard. It was well maintained with layers of plaster showing suggesting that it was in the process of renovation when the earthquake hit. It's thought that the building was a work space rather than someone's house. A trough full of perfect tesserae – or small cubes of stone for making mosaics – was found at the site.

"The trough served for the storage of tesserae; it was completely filled with thousands of pristine unused white tesserae," the authors write. "No similar installation for tesserae storage had ever been found before. In this case it is clear that the tesserae were unused and therefore part of the preparation for mosaic production."

There has been much debate about how mosaicists worked in this period. Until now there had been relatively little evidence to determine whether they worked in a mobile, traveling fashion or had permanent bases. The discovery of the 'House of the Tesserae' suggests the latter scenario is the more likely.

"The trough in the house at Jerash clearly suggests a kind of storage intended for more than just short-term construction. It could be claimed, therefore, that we do indeed have a studio of a workshop with a tesserae storage facility in the room where craftsmen worked."

HUMAN TOOTH HINTS AT EARLY MIGRATION OUTOF AFRICA

Kira Westaway of Macquarie University and her colleagues have found evidence of the presence of Homo sapiens on the Indonesian island of Sumatra dated to between 63,000 and 73,000 years ago, according to a report in New Scientist. “This is a significant finding because it supports emerging ideas that modern humans left Africa and reached Australia much earlier than we thought,” said Michelle Langley of Griffith University.

The evidence came in the form of two teeth, discovered by Dutch archaeologist Eugene Dubois in a cave on Sumatra in the late nineteenth century. The researchers confirmed the teeth belonged to Homo sapiens by comparing them to orangutan fossils found near the cave, and then dated them with electron spin resonance dating. Scientists could now look for traces of early human habitation in the rain forest, such as evidence of cooking and stone tool use. But, Langley notes, “It’s possible they were just passing through.”

Monday, August 07, 2017

3,000 YEAR OLD FOOTPRINTS FOUND IN PIMA. ARIZONA

Not long after Dan Arnit made the biggest archaeological find of his career, he had to go build a parking lot.

The news of his discovery—3,000-year-old footprints made by a family walking through ancient fields—had made it up the chain at the Pima County government in Arizona, which wanted to show off the oldest footprints ever found in the Southwest. But the archaeological site was a mess. Arnit was his team’s backhoe operator when he found the footprints, so he and his tractor got a new job: Build a parking lot for hundreds of eager visitors.

Arnit doesn’t usually build parking lots anymore. He specializes in the delicate work of using heavy machinery to dig trenches at archaeological sites. With custom equipment made in his own machine shop, Arnit can shave off as little as one millimeter of dirt at a time with a backhoe. “He is by far the most knowledgeable operator I know,” said Mary Prasciunas, an archaeologist at Pima Community College. Prasciunas has worked with Arnit on digs throughout Arizona as well as a mammoth site in Wyoming. Archaeologists frequently rely on heavy machine operators like Arnit—“artists with a backhoe,” as one archaeologist called them—to dig delicately but quickly through the earth.

STANFORD U. SUMMER HUMANITIES INSTITUTE HAS JULIUS CAESAR AND AUGUSTUS GIVING ADVICE TO PRESIDENTT DONADL TRUMP ABOUT GOVERNANCE


In an eight-minute skit, the students reenacted a fictional segment of a Fox News program in which ancient Roman leader Julius Caesar and his adopted son, Emperor Augustus, give advice to President Donald Trump about governance.

“President Trump, you have done a great job at getting some of the people to love you, but in doing so, you’re actually dividing the country,” said the student portraying Julius Caesar. “If you truly want to make America great, you need to unite the nation under a common identity. It’s the stuff of the Romans’ genius – their ability to integrate the people they conquered.”

The skit was part of the final project for students who took the institute’s new class on ancient Rome. The institute offers a three-week intensive program for high school sophomores and juniors every summer. The program’s courses, taught by Stanford faculty, offer deep immersion in history, philosophy and literature, and expose students to the life of a humanities scholar.

The new class, Ancient Rome and Its Legacies, examined the rise and fall of the influential civilization and how its legacies have shaped the European colonization of the Americas and the development of the United States. The class, co-taught by history Professor Caroline Winterer and Associate Professor of classics Christopher Krebs, compared similarities and differences between the worlds of ancient Rome and America.

Students attended lectures and question-and-answer sessions with professors, discussed reading materials in small groups with Stanford graduate students, examined Stanford University Libraries’ rich collection of early modern books about ancient Rome and spent an afternoon in the Cantor Arts Center exploring Roman artifacts and neoclassical painting and sculpture.

“We wanted to offer a course that showed why the classical past is still so important for us to understand today,” Winterer said. “Ancient Rome isn’t dead – it’s alive and well and continues to shape the way we think about our world today, often in subtle ways that we don’t see unless we know how and where to look.”

Many modern societies have borrowed some aspect of ancient Roman thought, but its shaping influence on the United States has been especially profound. The framers of the U.S. Constitution incorporated Roman ideas about the separation of powers and the need for a senate. The fluted white columns decorating the neoclassical facades of many antebellum American plantation mansions mimic those on Roman temples.

The class also focused on slavery, another similarity between ancient Rome and America. Both were slave societies, holding a significant proportion of their populations in legal bondage. “For most of human history, slavery was not seen as morally problematic,” Winterer said during the lecture on the rise of anti-slavery ideas in the United States before the Civil War. “That shift in human consciousness and understanding was so great that it’s difficult for us to put ourselves in a moment before that time.”




ROMAN TOMBS VANISH UNDER BUILDING OF HYATT HOTEL IN SOFIA, BULGARIA



Construction of a luxury hotel is continuing in Sofia despite the discovery that the site covers part of an ancient Roman necropolis.
While numerous machines laid concrete and strengthened the foundations of the future 190-room five-star hotel, a team of archaeologists with an excavator was carefully digging a rare find out of the ground. They recently discovered an ancient Roman tomb – part of the eastern side of the necropolis of the Roman city of Serdica, which lies under Bulgaria’s capital – which could soon be buried under the luxury new hotel.

The same fate has already befallen six other tombs discovered at the construction site in April. “We have researched almost eight tombs, all of them with half-cylindrical arches, with different sizes, containing over 112 single graves,” Polina Stoyanova co-leader of the archaeological salvation team, told BIRN. She explained that all of the remains were damaged when the former Serdica cinema was built in the 1950s. It was demolished in July, opening up the space for the Hyatt Regency hotel, which is set to open in 2018.

“All the tombs we have discovered were flattened to the level needed for the construction of the cinema, so none of the arches were completely preserved,” Stoyanova added. The archaeologist explained that the Ministry of Culture, which holds the rights to determine the fate of excavations, as state public property, issued a conservation order for one of the tombs.

Large parts of the center of Bulgaria’s capital lie above the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Ulpia Serdica, which flourished between the 1st and 6th centuries AD. Parts of the ancient city have been revealed. In 2016, the second government of current Prime Minister Boyko Borissov opened the Ancient Serdica complex in the heart of the city, which forms the largest open-air museum in Bulgaria.

Among the most important attractions of ancient Serdica are Decumanus Maximus, the main road of the Roman city, as well as the amphitheatre, one of the largest in the Eastern Roman Empire. The amphitheatre was discovered by accident in 2004 during the construction of another high-end hotel in central Sofia, which is currently named Arena di Serdica and has parts of the archaeological remains exposed in its lobby.
The necropolis of Serdica occupies large parts of Sofia’s downtown, including the space under the building the National Assembly and the area of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral and Sofia University.

Remains of the ancient burial area can be seen exposed in the St Sofia Basilica.

The remains discovered at the Hyatt construction site are located at the further eastern periphery of this necropolis, formed between the second and third centuries AD, where the tombs are of a lower density, Simeonova explained.

LOWER PALEOLITHIC PERIOD ARTIFACTS FOUND IN SAUDI ARABIA, FROM 1.8 MILLION TO 250,000 YEARS AGO

Forty-six sites containing artifacts, mainly stone tools, have been discovered beside the remains of ancient lakes in the western Nefud desert in Saudi Arabia.

Some of the tools, left by early humans, date to the Lower Paleolithic period, from 1.8 million to 250,000 years ago, the researchers said in a new study describing the findings. Animal fossils, including fossils from now-extinct forms of jaguar and elephant, were also discovered at some of the sites.

The discoveries shed light on so-called Green Arabia, periods when the climate in Arabia — the area spanning modern-day Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and other Gulf States — was wetter and supported more vegetation and wildlife than it does today. Green Arabia was also home to early humans.











































































































"These repeated wet phases, called 'Green Arabia' events, affected much of Arabia and were driven by periodic variations in the Earth's orbit and axis, causing the monsoons to move north into Arabia — and into the Sahara," said Paul Breeze, a landscape archaeologist and research associate at King's College London. "Between these times, Arabia was as arid as it is today."

Breeze is part of the Palaeodeserts Project, which aims to better understand Saudi Arabia's environmental and human history. The project brings together researchers from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the Saudi Geological Survey, Saudi Aramco and scientists from all over the world.

In their research Breeze and his colleagues searched for lakes that may have existed in ancient times by examining high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery, as well as geological maps. They found that many of these so-called paleolakes might have been located in basins between sand dunes.

The researchers traveled to as many possible paleolakes as they could, using 4 x 4 vehicles or helicopters to reach these locations. They focused on a section of the western Nefud desert.

Once the team reached a site, they examined paleolake sediments, confirming the existence of the ancient lake. Then, they excavated any human artifacts and animal fossils they could find.

From early humans to the future

The discoveries revealed how life changed in the western Nefud desert.

"Lower Palaeolithic hominins in particular could, at times, have experienced widespread favorable environmental conditions," the team wrote in their study, published online in the June 2017 issue of the journal Archaeological Research in Asia. Early human sites that date to the Lower Paleolithic "appear concentrated close to raw material sources near the Nefud fringe, despite the presence of freshwater and fauna deeper in the dune field," the team wrote.

Previously reported research suggested that around 200,000 years ago, after the Lower Paleolithic, modern humans(Homo sapiens) might have used Arabia as a corridor to migrate out of Africa. The new findings suggest that, at that time, humans (whether Homo sapiens or other human species) appear to have been venturing deeper into the western Nefud desert and were no longer sticking to the fringes. [In Photos: Oldest Homo Sapiens Fossils Ever Found]

The researchers did not find any archaeological sites that dated to the Upper Paleolithic or Epipaleolithic time periods, between roughly 40,000 and 10,000 years ago. This may be a sign that the western Nefud had become more arid and less capable of supporting life by that time, the researchers said.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

RESEARCHERS HAVE FOUND EVIDECE THAT HUMANS ARRIVED IN AUSTRALIA ABOUT 65,000 YEARS AGO

A team of researchers, has found and dated artifacts in northern Australia that indicate humans arrived there about 65,000 years ago — more than 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. A paper published in the journal Nature describes dating techniques and artifact finds at Madjedbebe, a longtime site of archaeological research, that could inform other theories about the emergence of early humans and their coexistence with wildlife on the Australian continent.

The new date makes a difference, co-author and University of Washington associate professor of anthropology Ben Marwick said. Against the backdrop of theories that place humans in Australia anywhere between 47,000 and 60,000 years ago, the concept of earlier settlement calls into question the argument that humans caused the extinction of unique megafauna such as giant kangaroos, wombats and tortoises more than 45,000 years ago.

“Previously it was thought that humans arrived and hunted them out or disturbed their habits, leading to extinction, but these dates confirm that people arrived so far before that they wouldn’t be the central cause of the death of megafauna,” Marwick said. “It shifts the idea of humans charging into the landscape and killing off the megafauna. It moves toward a vision of humans moving in and coexisting, which is quite a different view of human evolution.”

Since 1973, digs at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in Australia’s Northern Territory, have unearthed more than 10,000 stone tools, ochres, plant remains and bones. Following the more recent excavations in 2012 and 2015, a University of Queensland-led research team, which included the UW, evaluated artifacts found in various layers of settlement using radiocarbon dating and optical stimulated luminescence (OSL).

The new research involved extensive cooperation with the local Aboriginal community, Marwick added. The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, representing the Mirarr people, joined much of the excavation and reviewed the findings, Marwick said. Researchers had both a memorandum of understanding and a contract with the community, which gave control to the Mirarr as senior custodians, oversight of the excavation and curation of the finds. The Mirarr were interested in supporting new research into the age of the site and in knowing more about the early human occupants, particularly given environmental threats posed by nearby modern-day mining activities.

Noteworthy among the artifacts found were ochre “crayons” and other pigments, what are believed to be the world’s oldest edge-ground hatchets, and evidence that these early humans ground seeds and processed plants. The pigments indicate the use of paint for symbolic and artistic expression, while the tools may have been used to cut bark or food from trees.

Labs in Australia used OSL to identify the age range, Marwick explained. Radiocarbon dating, which requires a certain level of carbon in a substance, can analyze organic materials up to about 45,000 or 50,000 years old. But OSL is used on minerals to date, say, the last time a sand grain was exposed to sunlight — helpful in determining when an artifact was buried — up to 100,000 years ago or more. That process measured thousands of sand grains individually so as to establish more precise ages.

The UW researchers worked in the geoarchaeology lab on the Seattle campus, testing sediment samples that Marwick helped excavate at Madjedbebe. One graduate student and six undergraduate students studied the properties of hundreds of dirt samples to try to picture the time in which the ancient Australian humans lived.

Using a scanning electron microscope, the students examined the composition of the sediment layers, the size of the grains of dirt and any microscopic plant matter. For another test, the students baked soil samples at various temperatures, then measured the mass of each sample, said UW doctoral student Gayoung Park, another author on the paper. Because organic matter turns into gases at high heat, a loss of mass indicated how much matter was in a given sample. This helped create a picture of the environments across the sedimentary layers of the site. The team found that when these human ancestors arrived, northern Australia was wetter and colder.

CHINESE MUSEUM OFFERING CASH TO WHOEVER CAN DECIPHER 3,000 YEAR OLD INSCRIPTIONS



During the 19th century, farmers in China’s Henan Province began discovering oracle bones—engraved ox scapulae and tortoise shells used by Shang Dynasty leaders for record-keeping and divination purposes—while plowing their fields. More bones were excavated in subsequent years, and their inscriptions were revealed to be the earliest known form of systematic writing in East Asia.

But over the decades, scholars still haven’t come close to cracking half of the mysterious script’s roughly 5000 characters—which is why one Chinese museum is asking membes of the public for help, in exchange for a generous cash reward.

As Atlas Obscura reports, the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan Province has offered to pay citizen researchers about $15,000 for each unknown character translated, and $7500 if they provide a disputed character’s definitive meaning. Submissions must be supported with evidence, and reviewed by at least two language specialists.

MONUMENTAL TOMB DISCOVERED NEAR POMPEII


A monumental tomb with a long funerary epigraph describing the life of the deceased has been discovered in Porta Stabia, according to a report in ANSAmed. The inscription is missing the man’s name, but it says he was a duoviro, or Pompeii city magistrate, and describes his coming of age, his wedding, and his sponsorship of banquets and games.

The inscription also contains information about an armed brawl at a gladiator show in Pompeii in 59 A.D., in which the tomb’s occupant may have been killed. We know from an account left by the Roman historian Tacitus that after a Senate investigation into the brawl, ordered by Emperor Nero, that the residents of Pompeii were forbidden to hold gladiator games for ten years, and those who organized the games and incited the clash were exiled.

Pompeii’s general director, Massimo Osanna, said the newly found inscription complements the account left by Tacitus and mentions that some of the city’s magistrates were also exiled.

NEW EVIDENCE ABOUT SOLOMON'S STABLES ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT IN ISRAEL


The structure housed the horses of the Knights Templar during the Crusades. We have found many horseshoe nails, arrowheads, coins, and bits of armor from the Crusader period.

On the stones in the piers that hold up the vaulted ceiling of the structure, you can see the draft margin from the Herodian period. The other sides imitate this poorly, so we know these stones are in secondary use, originating from the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount platform. The structure was constructed in the Early Islamic Period.

As reconstruction, earthquakes, or other building happened on the Temple Mount over the last millennium, the debris would be removed to the Eastern side of the Temple Mount. Therefore, the material we are sifting is not necessarily specific to this corner of the Mount. Rather it is a sample of many different sites across the Temple Mount and shows us bits and pieces of the whole history of the Temple Mount.

There is possibly another structure beneath Solomon’s Stables because the walls of the Temple Mount platform could not hold so much soil without further support and the bedrock is very low.

The Destruction:
1.In 1996, renovation began in Solomon’s Stables in order to convert it into a usable mosque (Al-Marwani Mosque). The wall between the Triple Gate and Solomon’s Stables was breached to create an entrance to the new mosque. Dirt heaps were removed from within the structure.

2.In 1999, a new monumental (huge) entrance way was opened. This was done by bulldozer and without archaeological supervision. This was initiated by the Northern Flank of the Islamic Movement in Israel in coordination with the Waqf. Prime Minister Barak gave oral permission for this new entrance as well on a smaller scale. Legally in Israel, any construction must first complete a salvage excavation to record any archaeology in the proposed construction zone. Especially in a place as sensitive and historic as the Temple Mount, this excavation is not only necessary legally but also ethically. No such excavation took place.

IN ISRAEL FRESHWATER TURTLES WEREE HUNTED BY HOMININS 60,000 YEARS AGO

According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, Rebecca Biton of Hebrew University has found evidence that hominins hunted freshwater turtles in the northern Jordan Valley some 60,000 years ago.

“In Israel, at every archaeological site you will find some evidence of the exploitation of tortoises, which do not have much meat, but were consumed,” she said. The discovery of Western Caspian turtle remains, which live in fresh water, suggests that humans were also exploiting animals from Hula Lake and the surrounding swamps. “They took the turtle and smashed the shell and cooked whatever meat they could extract,” she said. The meat was carefully removed with a flint knife, she added. For more, go to “Let a Turtle Be Your Psychopomp.”