суббота, 28 июля 2018 г.

Ancient parchments reveal a blend of cultures, knowledge during the Middle Ages

When historian Rowan Dorin first stepped onto the Stanford campus in early 2017, he made it a habit to visit Green Library every week to dig through its collection of medieval documents and objects.

Ancient parchments reveal a blend of cultures, knowledge during the Middle Ages

Ancient parchments reveal a blend of cultures, knowledge during the Middle Ages
One of the ancient pages Professor Rowan Dorin is studying has been partially translated
with the help of Jewish historian Ezra Blaustein [Credit: Stanford University Libraries]

After a few months, Dorin, an assistant professor of history specializing in medieval Europe, discovered something out of the ordinary.

Three leaves of ancient parchment were labeled as a Hebrew translation of text about grammar, but its margins had Latin words like fish, capers and dill.

“It looked like some sort of food dictionary,” said Dorin about his first impression of the documents. “There didn’t seem to be anything grammatical about it.”

The miscataloged texts turned out to be written in Arabic using Hebrew letters, with Latin and old Spanish notes on the edges. They described the health qualities of pickled foods, causes of hiccupping and other ancient medical knowledge.

Dorin said the rare parchments showcase the sharing of knowledge that was happening among societies around the Mediterranean Sea during the Middle Ages, the historical period between the 5th and the 15th centuries.

“Most people associate the Middle Ages with plague, war and ignorance,” said Dorin, who is also an affiliated faculty member at the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. “We don’t usually think about the dialogues between different cultures or open exchanges of knowledge that were happening throughout that time. These documents are evidence for the conversations occurring among people from different linguistic backgrounds.”

Cracking a historical puzzle

After more than a year of research, Dorin, with the help of other scholars around the world, determined that the pages came from two different texts. One was first written down in northern Africa sometime in the 14th century and ended up in Spain, where it was recycled as scrap parchment. The other was probably written around the same time on the island of Mallorca, a diverse hub of commerce in the western Mediterranean, Dorin said.

Dorin believes that the knowledge the texts carry was passed down from the ancient Greeks. But many things about the artifacts are still unsolved. For example, it is unclear who wrote them or what other medical books the authors referenced during their creation. Back then, books were copied by hand and expensive to produce.

Ancient parchments reveal a blend of cultures, knowledge during the Middle Ages
Rowan W. Dorin, assistant professor of history, with the miscataloged parchments
whose mystery he is working to solve [Credit: L.A. Cicero]

“Hebrew manuscript fragments from that time are especially rare because so many of them were destroyed,” Dorin said. “Stanford’s collections include hundreds of fragments from medieval Latin manuscripts, but to have something in Judaeo-Arabic is really special.”

The story behind the texts becomes even more complex because two of the pages contain faded text underneath the main text. Imaging at Stanford University Libraries’ preservation department revealed that the hidden writing is in Hebrew and is also about medical knowledge.

Dorin said the hidden text could have been scraped off to make room for new text, as was often done during that time because parchment was expensive. But the faded passages could also have been an imprint of another text that was pressed tightly against the parchment.

All three pieces of parchment were eventually used as covers for bindings of other books because of their durability.

“We may never find out who originally wrote them,” Dorin said. “But these texts provide a unique look at medieval multilingual communities. They were written for someone who could read Latin as well as Hebrew and Arabic, at least.”

This summer, Hagar Gal, a rising Stanford sophomore, is helping Dorin determine if any connection could be made between this text and other known Jewish, Arabic or Greek medical manuscripts from that time.

“It feels like I’m trying to figure out a cool puzzle,” Gal said.

Gal said she was immediately captivated by the mysterious document after Dorin presented it to her and other students during a course on medieval history this past winter quarter. Gal, who was born in Israel and knows some Hebrew, picked up on the words “pickling” and “vinegarized” in the writing.

“I was so excited to recognize words that were written so long ago,” said Gal, adding that she has always enjoyed studying history. “It’s pretty amazing to see how this one document captures the movement of knowledge throughout the Mediterranean and Africa and how languages come and go with time.”

All three pieces of parchment can be viewed in high resolution on the Stanford Libraries’ website or in person at the Department of Special Collections, where they are now labeled as “Fragments of two medical treatises written in Judaeo-Arabic.

Source: Stanford University [July 24, 2018]




Messapic tomb painted with meanders discovered in Manduria, Apulia

A Messapic tomb was discovered during the excavations for the construction of the methane gas grid in Manduria, an Apulian city in the province of Taranto, famous for the production of ‘Primitivo’ wine.

Messapic tomb painted with meanders discovered in Manduria, Apulia
Credit: sabap-le.beniculturali.it

The tomb, described as a funerary monument with characteristics of both the Messapian and Magna Graecia civilizations, is a rectangular shaped fossa (trench) grave, cut into the bedrock, with a wide upper section or controfossa, and lacking the roofing slabs.

Messapic tomb painted with meanders discovered in Manduria, Apulia
Credit: sabap-le.beniculturali.it

Despite the fact that the internal walls were in contact with the soil for over two millennia, they still have preserved a large part of their painted plaster: an upper frame shows a continuous meander motif in red and blue colours, of very fine workmanship.

Messapic tomb painted with meanders discovered in Manduria, Apulia
Credit: sabap-le.beniculturali.it

Only a few fragments of pottery have been recovered from the tomb which indicate that it was constructed during the third to second centuries BC. According to archaeologists, the tomb may have been plundered during the thirteenth century.

Messapic tomb painted with meanders discovered in Manduria, Apulia
Credit: sabap-le.beniculturali.it

The excavation is still in progress and it is not excluded that other useful elements will surface that will illuminate further aspects of the Messapian civilization.

Manduria, also referred to as “Mandonion” in works by the Greek and Roman historian Plutarch, was an important stronghold of the Messapii against Taras. Archidamos III, king of Sparta, fell beneath its walls in 338 BC, while leading the Tarantine army.

Manduria revolted against Hannibal, but was taken in 209 BC.

Source: Fame di Sud [July 25, 2018]




More on Archaeologists find ancient rock art in Egypt’s Edfu

A team of archaeologists — led by Yale Egyptologist John Darnell — has uncovered a “lost oasis” of archaeological activity in the eastern Egyptian desert of Elkab.

More on Archaeologists find ancient rock art in Egypt's Edfu
John Darnell, professor of Egyptology at Yale, along with a team of researchers, uncovered a “lost oasis”
in the eastern Egyptian desert. One image dates back to about 3,300 B.C.E. and includes large depictions
of animals, including an addax, or antelope. “The large addax in particular deserves to be added
to the artistic achievements of early Egypt,” says Darnell [Credit: Yale University]

The researchers from the Elkab Desert Survey Project — a joint mission of Yale and the Royal Museums of Art and History Brussels working in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Inspectorate of Edfu — surveyed the area of Bir Umm Tineidba, once thought to be devoid of any major archaeological remains. Instead, the team unearthed “a wealth of archaeological and epigraphic material,” says Darnell, including a number of examples of ancient rock art or “graffiti,” the burial site of an Egyptian woman, and a previously unrecorded, enigmatic Late Roman settlement.

One particularly impressive image identified during the field season, says Darnell, dates back to about 3,300 B.C.E. and includes large depictions of animals, including a bull, a giraffe, an addax (antelope), a barbary sheep, and donkeys. Other tableaux depict long lines of boats, revealing an “interesting mixture of Eastern Desert and closer, Nile Valley-oriented styles,” notes Darnell.

“At a time immediately before the invention of the hieroglyphic script, rock art such as this provides important clues to the religion and symbolic communication of Predynastic Egyptians,” says Darnell. “The large addax in particular deserves to be added to the artistic achievements of early Egypt.

Darnell says that this ancient graffiti was created for other people who would visit the site or who might pass along the road. “The ancient Egyptians just loved to write and draw,” he says. “And this general desire to express and memorialize yourself graphically seems to be one of the real hallmarks of Egyptian culture; it seems to be one of the things that you pick up when you are Egyptianized: that you just can’t pass one of these surfaces without memorializing yourself.”

Egyptians chose a meaningful spot to carve these images, explains Darnell, usually at a habitation site or, as in this case, a crossroad of tracks going east to west.

“This is imagery and style that you would expect in the Nile Valley, but it’s out here in the Eastern Desert at this site,” says Darnell, explaining that the drawings suggest a cultural mix and demonstrate that desert people were almost certainly interacting with Nile Valley people. “It shows a greater complexity and a little bit more of a mosaic, or hybrid of groups,” says Darnell. “I think this discovery will influence how we see the development of the early state in Egypt.”

“Our newly discovered material at Bir Umm Tineidba is important in revealing a desert population coming under increasing influence from the Nile Valley during the time of Dynasty 0 [the Protodynastic Period in ancient Egypt characterized by an ongoing process of political unification, culminating in the formation of a single state to begin the Early Dynastic Period],” he adds.

The archaeologists also uncovered several burial tumuli — or mounds of earth and stone raised over graves — that appear to belong to desert dwellers with physical ties to both the Nile Valley and the Red Sea. They investigated one of the tumuli, which they determined was the burial place of a woman between 25 to 35 years of age at the time of her death. “She was probably one of the local desert elite, and was buried with at least a strand of Red Sea shells and carnelian beads, alluding to her desert and Red Sea associations, as well as a Protodynastic vessel of Nile Valley manufacture, all indicative of the two worlds of Nile and desert with which she and her people appear to have interacted,” says Darnell.

To the south of the rock inscription and tumuli sites, the archaeologists located a Late Roman settlement with dozens of stone structures. The ceramic evidence and other materials indicate that the site dates to between 400 and 600 C.E., says Darnell. “This Late Roman site complements the evidence for similar archaeological sites in the Eastern Desert, and once again fills a gap in an area once blank on the archaeological map of the Eastern Desert.

“Probably associated with the ancient people whom Egyptian and later Roman documents call the Blemmyes, these sites reveal important information on the late administration of the Eastern Desert, and help us understand the transition between the Late Antique and the Early Islamic Periods,” says Darnell.

To document their findings in the field, the team used a digital technique developed at Yale in 2010, in collaboration with Yale digital archaeologist Alberto Urcia. The technology, employing the photogrammetirc Structure from Motion technology, generates detailed three-dimensional models of the rock surface that are used to produce high-resolution images of each panel. Unfortunately, says Darnell, considerable and active mining in the area is threatening the sites in and near Bir Umm Tineidba.

The new technology, says Darnell, cuts excavation and recording time down to about a quarter of what it used to be. “It means you get through more material in greater detail than you would otherwise. If you’re racing the clock to record these desert sites before mining and land reclamation and thieves get at them, you know you can do four structures in a month rather than one structure in a month, which is fabulous.”

Darnell adds, “If I could go back in time and do all the other sites I’ve done in the past using that technique I would. At least we have it now, and it will greatly increase the speed and accuracy with which we will hopefully record ever more sites.”

Author: Bess Connolly Martell | Source: Yale University [July 25, 2018]




174-million-year-old sauropod dinosaur fossils discovered in China

After studying a set of fossils, Chinese paleontologists have identified that they belong to a dinosaur species which was previously not believed to have existed in East Asia, challenging previous ideas about how this species originated and spread.

174-million-year-old sauropod dinosaur fossils discovered in China
An artist’s rendering of Lingwulong shenqi, a newly discovered dinosaur 
unearthed in northwestern China [Credit: Zhang Zongda]

Paleontologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have confirmed the fossils belong to a dinosaur species named Lingwulong shenqi from the genus Diplodocus. The fossils, comprised seven to ten partial skeletons ranging from juveniles to adults, were first discovered in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in 2004.

They found that these dinosaurs were widely distributed in East Asia, a part of the supercontinent Pangaea, which began to break apart about 175 million years ago.

174-million-year-old sauropod dinosaur fossils discovered in China
One of the four quarries were several Lingwulong dinosaurs were found 
[Credit: Reuters]

However, it was previously believed that that species had not spread to East Asia, which became an isolated island separated from the supercontinent about 164 million to 158 million years ago.

Diplodocus is one group of the sauropod dinosaurs, which were gigantic long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs that dominated many animals during Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods.

174-million-year-old sauropod dinosaur fossils discovered in China
Two technicians measuring a large shoulder bone of Lingwulong shenqi 
[Credit: Reuters]

It was also previously believed that the continental breakup had affected the evolution of the sauropod dinosaurs, producing endemic dinosaurs in East Asia during the Middle Jurassic, about 174 to 164 million years ago.

However, according to the new study, these dinosaurs had already evolved and achieved a global distribution when the supercontinent was still a coherent landmass.

The study, led by Xu Xing, a paleontologist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: Xinhua [July 26, 2018]




Medieval cemetery with at least 20 bodies found in Lisbon

At least 20 burials from the medieval period were found by a team of archaeologists in the parish of Santa Maria Maior, in Lisbon.

Credit: Tiago Petinga/Lusa

“At the moment we already have 20 [bodies], but, possibly, even more will appear, because we have only excavated the first level of the cemetery”, said Vanessa Filipe, archaeologist and coordinator of the project tasked with installing ecopoints by the Lisbon Municipal Chamber.

Credit: Tiago Petinga/Lusa

“The cemetery was discovered on 26 June, in the context of a project in which a team of archaeologists carried out a survey and diagnosis of the areas before the installation of the ecopoints”, she explained.

Credit: Tiago Petinga/Lusa

“The necropolis dates to medieval times, from the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth centuries”, Vanessa Filipe said.

Credit: Tiago Petinga/Lusa

“The cemetery is probably associated with a hermitage belonging to the Marquises of Cascais and the church walls would be in an area near to where the bodies were buried”, the project’s coordinator added.

Credit: Tiago Petinga/Lusa

“The necropolis is fully Christian, since all the bodies were buried with the head towards the west and the feet to the east, so that they will rise in the direction of the rising sun”, Vanessa Filipe explained, adding that “there are other similar cemeteries in Lisbon.”

Credit: Tiago Petinga/Lusa

“The excavated burials are homogeneous, they all belong to adults, except for one child”, says forensic anthropologist Sónia Ferro, adding that the body of the child “is the only burial with evidence of some more serious pathology, consistent with a tuberculose”.

Credit: Tiago Petinga/Lusa

The researcher explained that “the deceased were likely poor people from a nearby neighbourhood, because they were buried directly in the earth”, adding that “only one individual has a coin in his hand, which was normal in medieval times, to pay for the journey to the other side”.

The excavation is expected to last three years.

Source: CMJornal [July 26, 2018]




HiPOD (28 July 2018): A Cluster of Dunes within a Crater in…

HiPOD (28 July 2018): A Cluster of Dunes within a Crater in Tyrrhena Terra 

   – 260 km above the surface, less than 5 km across.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


2018 July 28 One Night, One Telescope, One Camera Image Credit…

2018 July 28

One Night, One Telescope, One Camera
Image Credit & Copyright: Fernando Cabrerizo (Centro Astronomico de Tiedra)

Explanation: Taken on the same night, from the same place, with the same telescope and camera, these postcards from our Solar System are shown at the same scale to provide an interesting comparison of apparent sizes. Spanning about half a degree in planet Earth’s sky, the Moon is a stitched mosaic of six images. The others are the result of digitally stacked frames or simple single exposures, with the real distances to the objects indicated along the bottom of each insert. Most of the Solar System’s planets with their brighter moons, and Pluto were captured during the telescopic expedition, but elusive Mercury was missed because of clouds near the horizon. The International Space Station was successfully hunted, though. The night was July 21st. Telescope and camera were located at the Centro Astronomico de Tiedra Observatory in Spain.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180728.html


Heritage and Wildlife Sculptures, Brungerley Park at Clitheroe,…

Heritage and Wildlife Sculptures, Brungerley Park at Clitheroe, Lancashire, 26.7.18.

Source link


Heritage and Wildlife Sculptures at Brungerley Park at…

Heritage and Wildlife Sculptures at Brungerley Park at Clitheroe, Lancashire, 26.7.18.

Source link


A Corded Ware-related Proto-Greek from the Pontic-Caspian steppe?

The recent Wang et al. preprint on the genetic prehistory of the Greater Caucasus features several supposedly already published ancient samples that, as far as I know, haven’t yet appeared anywhere. These include five Yamnaya samples from Hungary and two Neolithic samples from Greece. I’m guessing that they’re part of a paper that was scheduled to be released earlier this year, but was delayed, and will probably come out very soon.
Intriguingly, one of these new Greek samples, Greece_Neolithic I6423, appears to harbor an unusually high level of Yamnaya-related ancestry from the Pontic-Caspian (PC) steppe. So much, in fact, that in a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) he/she clusters amongst a pair of Corded Ware individuals from Northern Europe, and almost on top of a Varna Eneolithic outlier from Bulgaria, all of whom also pack a lot of this type of ancestry.
So if this isn’t some sort of an error, then I6423 might turn out to be a very important sample in the context of the population history of Greece, including in the search for the Proto-Greeks. That’s because the ancestors of the Corded Ware people are generally regarded to have been amongst the first Indo-European-speakers to migrate out of the PC steppe, and ancient steppe ancestry is now widely accepted to be a signal of early Indo-European expansions across Europe (including those that took Proto-Greek to Greece).

But note that I6423 also clusters near several Eneolithic samples from the North Pontic part of the PC steppe (look for the inverted gray triangles in the PCA). One of these samples is the Corded Ware-like Ukraine_Eneolithic I6561 from a burial associated with the Sredny Stog II culture, which is often said to have been a Proto-Indo-European archaeological culture. I’ve mentioned this sample on many occasions on this blog, including here.
Could it be, then, that the high level of ancient steppe admixture in I6423 is a signal of a surprisingly early Indo-European migration from the North Pontic region to the southern Balkans that led to the formation of the Proto-Greeks? I don’t see why not, especially when looking at this map of the spread of Corded Ware pottery and other typically steppe cultural traits into the region around 4,000 BC (sourced from Bulatovic 2014 here). In any case, I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on I6423, hopefully soon.

See also…
A Mycenaean and an Iron Age Iranian walk into a bar…
Graeco-Aryan parallels
Main candidates for the precursors of the proto-Greeks in the ancient DNA record to date



First fossilized snake embryo ever discovered rewrites history…

First fossilized snake embryo ever discovered rewrites history of ancient snakes http://www.geologypage.com/2018/07/first-fossilized-snake-embryo-ever-discovered-rewrites-history-of-ancient-snakes.html


Paleontologists discover largest dinosaur foot ever…

Paleontologists discover largest dinosaur foot ever http://www.geologypage.com/2018/07/paleontologists-discover-largest-dinosaur-foot-ever.html


Scientists use satellites to measure vital underground water…

Scientists use satellites to measure vital underground water resources http://www.geologypage.com/2018/07/scientists-use-satellites-to-measure-vital-underground-water-resources.html


New sources of melanin pigment shake up ideas about fossil…

New sources of melanin pigment shake up ideas about fossil animals’ colour http://www.geologypage.com/2018/07/new-sources-of-melanin-pigment-shake-up-ideas-about-fossil-animals-colour.html



https://t.co/hvL60wwELQ — XissUFOtoday Space (@xufospace) August 3, 2021 Жаждущий ежик наслаждается пресной водой после нескольких дней в о...