четверг, 2 августа 2018 г.

Scientists discover why elusive aye-aye developed such unusual features

It is one of the most unusual primates on the planet—famed for its large eyes, big ears and thin, bony finger used for probing.

Scientists discover why elusive aye-aye developed such unusual features
3D models of aye-aye and squirrel skulls [Credit: Philip Cox, University of York]

Often persecuted as a harbinger of evil, the aye-aye has fascinated scientists, in particular how and why it evolved such unusual features.

But now a new study has, for the first time, measured the extent to which the endangered aye-aye has evolved similar features to squirrels, despite being more closely related to monkeys, chimps, and humans.

When two aye-ayes were first brought back to Europe from their native Madagascar by French explorers in 1780, they were “ranked with the rodents” and believed to be “more closely allied to the genus of squirrel than any other”.

By the mid-19th Century the aye-aye had been correctly identified as a primate, but its squirrel-like appearance is often cited as a striking example of “evolutionary convergence”, or how unrelated species can independently evolve the same traits.

Now, using techniques developed in collaboration by researchers at the University of York, a new study has used high-resolution microCT scanning to image the skulls of the two species, mapping and modelling the level of convergence in their physical features.

The findings suggest that the demands of needing to produce a high bite force with the two front teeth—in the squirrel for cracking nuts and in the aye-aye for biting into tree bark to feed on wood-boring beetle larvae—have not only led to the aye-aye evolving the ever-growing incisors characteristic of rodents, but has also given it a squirrel-like skull and jaw.

The study shows how lifestyle and ecology can have such a strong influence on the way a species looks that they can almost override ancestry.

Senior author of the study, Dr. Philip Cox from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York and the Hull York Medical School, said: “Examples of convergent evolution can be seen throughout nature—for example, despite belonging to separate biological groups, dolphins and sharks have converged in body shape due to their shared need to move efficiently through the water.

“Aye-ayes and squirrels have become an iconic example of convergence because of their similar teeth, but our study has shown for the first time that the evolution of their skulls and jaws has also converged.

“Our analysis suggests that the skulls of both species have not evolved simply to house their teeth, but that the distinctive shape may be what allows them to exact a high bite force. The shape of the skull is what makes the aye-aye look so similar to squirrels in particular.”

Using skeletons borrowed from the collections of natural history museums, the research team made 3-D reconstructions of the skulls and mandibles of the aye-aye and squirrel, plus a variety of other primates and rodents.

They then took 3-D co-ordinates from these reconstructions and put this data into statistical software.

Plotting the evolutionary trees of the two biological groups allowed the team to visualise how the evolutionary paths of the aye-aye and squirrel incline towards each other—showing the high degree of convergence in the skull and jaw, despite the completely different ancestry of the two species.

Dr. Cox added: “Our study shows the extent to which functional pressures, such as having to eat mechanically demanding food, can significantly alter an animal’s skeleton and result in distantly-related species evolving to resemble one another very closely”.

The study is published in Biology Letters.

Source: University of York [July 31, 2018]




Excavations of Scythian settlement kick off in Ukraine’s Poltava region

The archaeological field research of Europe’s largest ancient settlement – Belsk settlement dating back to the eighth-third centuries BC – started in Poltava region on Monday.

Excavations of Scythian settlement kick off in Ukraine's Poltava region

Excavations are carried out by scientists, students and postgraduate students of Ukrainian and Polish universities within the framework of the joint international project IV Archaeological Field School.

Excavations of Scythian settlement kick off in Ukraine's Poltava region

Excavations of Scythian settlement kick off in Ukraine's Poltava region

Excavations of Scythian settlement kick off in Ukraine's Poltava region

The Belsk settlement is located between the rivers Vorskla and Sukha Hrun on the territory of the Kotelevske district of Poltava region near the village of Belsk.

Excavations of Scythian settlement kick off in Ukraine's Poltava region

Excavations of Scythian settlement kick off in Ukraine's Poltava region

Excavations of Scythian settlement kick off in Ukraine's Poltava region

This settlement is considered to be the largest Scythian settlement. Its area is 4,400 hectares, and the length of fortifications is more than 34 km.

The Belsk settlement is thought to be five times larger than ancient Babylon.

Source: Ukrinform [July 31, 2018]




Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Remains of what archaeologists believe is from a Byzantine coastal town have been found during the restoration works of Istanbul’s Haydarapaşa railway station, which stands on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.

Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station

Byzantine remains found during restoration of historic Istanbul station
Credit: Hurriyet Daily News

The discovery came a while ago, after a team of about 50 people started to undertake in archaeological excavations on the site under the coordination of the Istanbul Directorate of Archaeology Museums. The works led the team to unearth ancient remains under the railroad tracks, but archaeologists believe the remains are scattered on a much larger scale—over an area of 300 decares.

Haydarpaşa station, designed by two German architects, was inaugurated in its current form in 1909, five years before the outbreak of World War I. It was a symbol of the friendship between the Ottoman Empire and imperial Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II, who yearned to expand Berlin’s influence deep into the Middle East and had sealed a strong relationship with Sultan Abdulhamid II.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [July 31, 2019]




Ancient Greek inscription found on marble slab stashed in bag of rocks

An inscribed marble slab which was found and seized by authorities on Thursday on the Greek island of Evia (Euboea) is, according to a local expert, of significant archaeological significance.

Ancient Greek inscription found on marble slab stashed in bag of rocks
Credit: Hellenic Police

The slab was found, following a tip-off, by officers from the Attica Security Directorate’s Department of Cultural Heritage and Antiquities. It had been hidden among rocks in a bag used to transfer agricultural products.

According to the head of the Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities Department at the archaeological site of Chalcis (Halkida), it is a 50×22 centimetre marble slab with an ancient Greek inscription carved into it.

Ancient Greek inscription found on marble slab stashed in bag of rocks
Credit: Hellenic Police

He said it dated to the Hellenistic era or Early Roman period, and had been part of an ancient sanctuary or ancient market area.

Moreover, he said the text could provide valuable insights into ancient Greek culture.

Authorities have launched an investigation to find out who had hidden the stone.

Source: Kathimerini [July 31, 2018]




The competitive edge: Dietary competition played a key role in the evolution of early...

Since Darwin first laid out the basic principles of evolution by means of natural selection, the role of competition for food as a driving force in shaping and shifting a species’ biology to outcompete its adversaries has played center stage. So important is the notion of competition between species, that it is viewed as a key selective force that resulted in the split of the lineage leading to modern humans from that of our early ape ancestors.

The competitive edge: Dietary competition played a key role in the evolution of early primates
Three models of niche competition between euprimates and non-euprimate mammals. Non-euprimates thrived across
North America prior to euprimate arrival ~55 Ma (large tree, left). After euprimate arrival (center column), these
two groups could have: occupied separate niches with no competition (top row, right); occupied the same niche
with one group ultimately displacing the other to reduce competition (middle row, right); or coexisted
with minimal competition (bottom row, right) [Credit: Laura Stroik and Gary T. Schwartz]

The earliest true primates, called “euprimates,” lived about 55 million years ago across what is now North America. Two major fossil euprimate groups existed at this time: the lemur-like adapids and the tarsier-like omomyids. Dietary competition with other similarly adapted mammals was presumably equally critical in the origin and diversification of these two groups. Though it’s been hinted at, the exact role of dietary competition and overlapping food resources in early adapid and omomyid evolution has never been directly tested.

New research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences led by Laura K. Stroik, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at Grand Valley State University, and Gary T. Schwartz, associate professor and research scientist at Arizona State University’s Institute of Human Origins, confirms the critical role that dietary adaptations played in the survival and diversification of North American euprimates.

“Understanding how complex food webs are structured and the intensity of competition over shared food resources is difficult enough to probe in living communities, let alone for communities that shared the same landscape nearly 55 million years ago,” said Stroik.

The researchers utilized the latest in digital imaging and microCT scanning on more than 350 fossil mammal teeth from geological deposits in North America. They sought to quantify the 3-D surface anatomy of molars belonging to extinct representatives of rodents, marsupials, and insectivores—all of which were found within the same geological deposits as the euprimates and were thus likely real competitors.

The competitive edge: Dietary competition played a key role in the evolution of early primates
Examples of micro CT scans of molars and the types of measurements researchers were looking at
[Credit: Laura Stroik and Gary T. Schwartz]

The high-resolution scans allowed them to capture and quantify details of how sharp, cresty, or pointy the teeth were. In particular, they looked at molars, or the teeth at the back of the mouth, useful in pulverizing and crushing food or prey. The relative degree of molar sharpness is directly linked to the broad menu of dietary items consumed by each species.

Stroik and Schwartz used these aspects of molar anatomy to compute patterns of dietary overlap across some key fossil groups through time. These results were then weighed against predictions from three models of how species compete with one another drawn from the world of theoretical ecology. The signal was clear: lineages belonging to the adapids largely survived and diversified without facing competition for food. The second major group, the omomyids, had to sustain periods of intensive competition with at least one contemporaneous mammal group. As omomyids persisted into more recent geological deposits, it is clear that they evolved adaptive solutions that provided them with the ability to compete and were usually victorious.

“The results showed adapids and omomyids faced different competitive scenarios when they originated in North America,” said Stroik.

“Part of what makes our story unique is that for the first time we compared these fossil euprimates to a range of potential competitors from across a diverse group of mammals living right alongside adapids and omomyids, not just to other euprimates,” said Schwartz. “Doing so allowed us to reconstruct a far greater swath of the ecological landscape for these important early primate relatives than has ever been attempted previously.”

The key advance of this new research is the demonstration that diet did in fact play a fundamental role in the establishment, and continued success, of euprimates within the North American mammalian paleocommunity. An exciting outcome is the development of a new quantitative toolkit to diagnose patterns of dietary competition in past communities. This will now allow them to explore the role that diet and competition played in how some of these fossil euprimates continued to evolve and diversify to give rise to living lemurs and all other higher primates.

Source: Grand Valley State University [August 01, 2018]




Saka burial mound, later graves found in Kazakhstan

Archaeologists have begun excavating a Saka burial mound found 10 kilometres from Astana, in the course of their work discovering seven other graves dating to the much more recent past (to the 15th and 16th centuries), two of which held women’s jewellery.

Saka burial mound, later graves found in Kazakhstan
Credit: Press Service of Astana Culture and Sports Department

“A female copper ring was found in one of the graves. More like a wedding ring. Another burial featured a bronze earring. Also, there was a silver buckle,” archaeologist Diana Duisekeyeva said.

The funerary practices and positions of the graves indicate that they belonged to Muslim people. Muslim rites hold that a grave should be at a right angle to the Qibla (the direction to the holy Kaaba in Mecca) so that the body, which is placed into its grave lying on its right side, without a coffin, faces the Qibla.

“Islam became the state religion on the territory of the central regions of Kazakhstan in the 14th century; naturally, before that period, these Muslim burials could not arise, so they belong to the 15th to 16th centuries,” the head of the research institute explained.

Saka burial mound, later graves found in Kazakhstan
Credit: Press Service of Astana Culture
and Sports Department 

The burial mound, however, belongs to an earlier period. It is 4 metres in height and 60 metres in diameter. The mound is covered with a stone shell. Archaeologists think the mound belonged to Saka tribes. Granite slabs for burial are known to have been taken from the banks of Nura River.

According to another hypothesis, Saka tribes could live on the territory of the modern day capital. The excavation will continue to search for evidence.

“Peoples who lived here, in Saryarka, were riders and mounted soldiers. They guarded the territory and this was their main wealth and dignity. It is also known that local peoples took part even in the battle against Cyrus II. This is written in all textbooks,” Maral Khabdulina, Akishev Research Institute of Archaeology Director, said.

The Astana akimat (mayor’s office) has been coordinating the excavation, which is being carried out through the Sacred Kazakhstan project.

“This year we plan to hold four more excavations. This is the first one. We will hand over all the jewellery found to the National Museum,” Askar Kalabayev, head of Astana’s Culture and Sports Department, said.

Author: Dana Omirgazy | Source: Astana Times [August 01, 2018]




Origins of Prehistoric Builders

Origins of Prehistoric BuildersSource link


The Headquarters Building, Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria,…

The Headquarters Building, Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria, 31.7.18.

Situated at the centre of the Roman fort, the headquarters building was a complex of smaller rooms from which administrative duties and operations were organised for the Roman soldiers and citizens in this region. The building likely contained a small courtyard area with a colonnade and steps.

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HiPOD (2 August 2018): Tributary Valleys Near Shalbatana Vallis …

HiPOD (2 August 2018): Tributary Valleys Near Shalbatana Vallis

   One of the justifications for taking this image was to look for inner valley features such as terraces. (274 km above the surface. Black and white is less than 5 km across; enhanced color is less than 1 km.) 

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Top Five Technologies Needed for a Spacecraft to Survive Deep Space

NASA – Orion Crew Vehicle patch.

August 2, 2018

When a spacecraft built for humans ventures into deep space, it requires an array of features to keep it and a crew inside safe. Both distance and duration demand that spacecraft must have systems that can reliably operate far from home, be capable of keeping astronauts alive in case of emergencies and still be light enough that a rocket can launch it.

Image above: Artist rendering of NASA’s Orion spacecraft as it travels 40,000 miles past the Moon during Exploration Mission-1, its first integrated flight with the Space Launch System rocket. Image Credit: NASA.

Missions near the Moon will start when NASA’s Orion spacecraft leaves Earth atop the world’s most powerful rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System. After launch from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Orion will travel beyond the Moon to a distance more than 1,000 times farther than where the International Space Station flies in low-Earth orbit, and farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever ventured. To accomplish this feat, Orion has built-in technologies that enable the crew and spacecraft to explore far into the solar system.

Systems to Live and Breathe

As humans travel farther from Earth for longer missions, the systems that keep them alive must be highly reliable while taking up minimal mass and volume. Orion will be equipped with advanced environmental control and life support systems designed for the demands of a deep space mission. A high-tech system already being tested aboard the space station will remove carbon dioxide (CO2) and humidity from inside Orion. Removal of CO2 and humidity is important to ensure air remains safe for the crew breathing. And water condensation on the vehicle hardware is controlled to prevent water intrusion into sensitive equipment or corrosion on the primary pressure structure.

The system also saves volume inside the spacecraft. Without such technology, Orion would have to carry many chemical canisters that would otherwise take up the space of 127 basketballs (or 32 cubic feet) inside the spacecraft—about 10 percent of crew livable area. Orion will also have a new compact toilet, smaller than the one on the space station. Long duration missions far from Earth drive engineers to design compact systems not only to maximize available space for crew comfort, but also to accommodate the volume needed to carry consumables like enough food and water for the entirety of a mission lasting days or weeks.

Highly reliable systems are critically important when distant crew will not have the benefit of frequent resupply shipments to bring spare parts from Earth, like those to the space station. Even small systems have to function reliably to support life in space, from a working toilet to an automated fire suppression system or exercise equipment that helps astronauts stay in shape to counteract the zero-gravity environment in space that can cause muscle and bone atrophy. Distance from home also demands that Orion have spacesuits capable of keeping astronaut alive for six days in the event of cabin depressurization to support a long trip home.

Proper Propulsion

The farther into space a vehicle ventures, the more capable its propulsion systems need to be to maintain its course on the journey with precision and ensure its crew can get home.

Orion has a highly capable service module that serves as the powerhouse for the spacecraft, providing propulsion capabilities that enable Orion to go around the Moon and back on its exploration missions. The service module has 33 engines of various sizes. The main engine will provide major in-space maneuvering capabilities throughout the mission, including inserting Orion into lunar orbit and also firing powerfully enough to get out of the Moon’s orbit to return to Earth. The other 32 engines are used to steer and control Orion on orbit.

In part due to its propulsion capabilities, including tanks that can hold nearly 2,000 gallons of propellant and a back up for the main engine in the event of a failure, Orion’s service module is equipped to handle the rigors of travel for missions that are both far and long, and has the ability to bring the crew home in a variety of emergency situations.

The Ability to Hold Off the Heat

Going to the Moon is no easy task, and it’s only half the journey. The farther a spacecraft travels in space, the more heat it will generate as it returns to Earth. Getting back safely requires technologies that can help a spacecraft endure speeds 30 times the speed of sound and heat twice as hot as molten lava or half as hot as the sun.

When Orion returns from the Moon, it will be traveling nearly 25,000 mph, a speed that could cover the distance from Los Angeles to New York City in six minutes. Its advanced heat shield, made with a material called AVCOAT, is designed to wear away as it heats up. Orion’s heat shield is the largest of its kind ever built and will help the spacecraft withstand temperatures around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit during reentry though Earth’s atmosphere.

Before reentry, Orion also will endure a 700-degree temperature range from about minus 150 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Orion’s highly capable thermal protection system, paired with thermal controls, will protect Orion during periods of direct sunlight and pitch black darkness while its crews will comfortably enjoy a safe and stable interior temperature of about 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Radiation Protection

As a spacecraft travels on missions beyond the protection of Earth’s magnetic field, it will be exposed to a harsher radiation environment than in low-Earth orbit with greater amounts of radiation from charged particles and solar storms that can cause disruptions to critical computers, avionics and other equipment. Humans exposed to large amounts of radiation can experience both acute and chronic health problems ranging from near-term radiation sickness to the potential of developing cancer in the long-term.

Orion was designed from the start with built in system-level features to ensure reliability of essential elements of the spacecraft during potential radiation events. For example, Orion is equipped with four identical computers that each are self-checking, plus an entirely different backup computer, to ensure Orion can still send commands in the event of a disruption. Engineers have tested parts and systems to a high standard to ensure that all critical systems remain operable even under extreme circumstances.

Orion also has a makeshift storm shelter below the main deck of the crew module. In the event of a solar radiation event, NASA has developed plans for crew on board to create a temporary shelter inside using materials on board. A variety of radiation sensors will also be on the spacecraft to help scientists better understand the radiation environment far away from Earth. One investigation called AstroRad, will fly on Exploration Mission-1 and test an experimental vest that has the potential to help shield vital organs and decrease exposure from solar particle events.

Constant Communication and Navigation

Spacecraft venturing far from home go beyond the Global Positioning System (GPS) in space and above communication satellites in Earth orbit. To talk with mission control in Houston, Orion’s communication and navigation systems will switch from NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) system used by the International Space Station, and communicate through the Deep Space Network.

Orion is also equipped with backup communication and navigation systems to help the spacecraft stay in contact with the ground and orient itself if it’s primary systems fail. The backup navigation system, a relatively new technology called optical navigation, uses a camera to take pictures of the Earth, Moon and stars and autonomously triangulate Orion’s position from the photos. Its backup emergency communications system doesn’t use the primary system or antennae for high-rate data transfer.

Related links:

NASA’s Orion spacecraft: http://www.nasa.gov/orion

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS): http://www.nasa.gov/sls

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Exploration Mission-1: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/around-the-moon-with-nasa-s-first-launch-of-sls-with-orion

Deep Space Network: http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/scan/services/networks/txt_dsn.html

Emergency communications system: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/Sextant_ISS

Living in Space: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/living-in-space/index.html

Moon to Mars: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars/

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Dragon Packing, Eye Science and Spacewalk Preps Today

ISS – Expedition 56 Mission patch.

August 2, 2018

The Expedition 56 crew has nearly completed loading the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship with cargo for retrieval back on Earth this Friday. The orbital residents are also busy with an intense day of space research and Russian spacewalk preparations.

Image above: Astronaut Alexander Gerst practices cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as cosmonaut Sergey Prokopev looks on during an emergency training session aboard the International Space Station. Image Credits: NASA.

Dragon is due to be released Friday at 12:37 p.m. EDT from the International Space Station carrying several tons of experiment results and orbital lab hardware. The crew has been packing the crucial research samples this week inside specialized, portable freezers onboard the commercial space freighter.

SpaceX technicians will pick up Dragon with its precious cargo after it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean and return to shore in southern California. Scientists and engineers will then begin the process of analyzing the critical space science and refurbishing station hardware.

Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst spent Wednesday morning helping doctors understand how living in space impacts the human eye. They are exploring the hypothesis that upward fluid shifts in the body caused by microgravity increases pressure on the brain possibly pushing against the eyes. This may affect the shape of the eye and permanently affect vision.

Image above: Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor are seen while Auñón-Chancellor works inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the Micro-11 investigation. The study is looking to provide fundamental data indicating whether successful human reproduction beyond Earth is possible. Image Credit: NASA.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev are getting ready for a spacewalk on Aug. 15. The duo reviewed the translation paths to their work sites on the outside of the station’s Russian segment. During the near seven-hour excursion, the spacewalkers will hand-deploy four tiny satellites, install antennas and cables on the Zvezda service module and collect exposed science experiments.

A host of life science studies being returned aboard Dragon looked at cancer therapies, gut microbes, and a variety of other biological phenomena. Samples collected from those studies, including the experiment hardware housing the research, are being transferred from the station and stowed inside the Dragon.

The AngieX Cancer Therapy investigation is completing its run today with NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor finalizing research operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The experiment tested a treatment that targets tumors and the resulting samples are being stowed inside Dragon science freezers.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Rodents studied for the Rodent Research-7 experiment to understand how microbes interact with the gut in space are being returned Friday. Biological samples observed in July for the Micro-11 human reproduction study are also being cold stowed aboard Dragon.

Related links:

Expedition 56: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition56/index.html

SpaceX Dragon: https://www.nasa.gov/spacex

Fluid shifts: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1126

AngieX Cancer Therapy: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7502

Rodent Research-7: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7425

Micro-11: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1922

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS): https://www.iss-casis.org/

Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Roman Bathhouse, Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria, 31.7.18.The…

Roman Bathhouse, Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria, 31.7.18.

The harsh landscape of the Lake District provides a stunning backdrop to Hardknott Roman Fort and just outside the perimeter of the fort lies the foundations of a bathhouse complex. The site contains the outlines of a frigidarium, a tepidarium, a caldarium and the round shape of a laconicum. There was also a plunge pool. This building would have provided respite for those posted to this forbidding place.

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Archaeologist in Jordan uncovers secrets of Shoback castle’s fall

Italian Archaeologist Guido Vannini, from the University of Florence has set up to help mediate cultures of the past and mediate between European culture and the southern region of the Mediterranean.

Archaeologist in Jordan uncovers secrets of Shoback castle's fall
Shobak Castle – the first castle to be built by the Crusaders near Jordan’s Petra
[Credit: Longhorns and Camels]

He is working on a project in the vicinity of the rock engraved southern city Petra, near a town of Shoback, with the famous Islamic Castle that witnessed ups and downs of Islamic powers as they descended into an endless state of cultural decline.

Vannini, who started leading the mission in Jordan’s Medieval Petra from 1986, deals with archaeology of Crusader-Ayyubid settlement in Transjordan circa 12-13th centuries.

The study was able to show how mediaeval origins represent a significant part of Jordanian cultural roots, the archaeologist said, noting that the operational practices and objectives of the team actually cover an entire historical region of Jordan, he told the Jordan Times.

“The reconstruction of an unsuspected Crusader settlement system [the classic feudal ‘incastellamento’] of the entire Petra Valley, focused on the pivotal castles of Wu’ayra and Al Habis, but not only,” Vannini said, noting that in Shobak, researchers discovered structures of the princely palace of Crac de Montréal, established by Baldwin I (1098-1100), which was based on a monumental fortified settlement from the Romano-Byzantine Limes Arabicus.

“The ‘discovery’ of a new, unexpected, refined Islamic town, Shobak [which thus came to be part of the refounded Islamic empire by Saladin] rose to the rank of the regional capital in Ayyubid and early Mamluk age [between the end of 12th and of 14th centuries],” Vannini elaborated, adding “an authentic production structure that could be defined as ‘industrial’ [textiles, soap, sugar] was also discovered in the area outside the castle” he said.

“The mission’s new goal is now to investigate the problem of the ‘disappearance’ of this rich, important city that flourished at least until the end of the 14th century,” the Italian researcher underlined, voicing his interest to study and date forms and epoch of its radical crisis and Shobak’s regression to a village, as it could represent a concrete case of the eclipse and the crisis of the late mediaeval Arab society, up to the Ottoman hegemony.

According to Vannini, archaeologists working in the Near East are a kind of cultural mediators between the cultures of the past and those of the present, and, at the same time, mediators between European culture and that of their host countries.

“We must recognise that Jordan occupies – in this perspective – an advanced position also due to its solid network of international academic collaborations and to the prestige of its institutions,” Vannini was quoted as saying.

Source: ANSAmed [July 30, 2018]




Iroquois artefacts uncovered in downtown Montreal date back to 14th century

Archaeologists in Montreal have uncovered Iroquois artefacts that date mostly to around 1375.

Iroquois artefacts uncovered in downtown Montreal date back to 14th century
Iroquois pottery uncovered in Montreal [Credit: CTV News]

Thousands of artefacts – mostly pottery – have been found during an excavation at Peel and Sherbrooke Streets, where digging has been underway since 2016.

Archaeologist Roland Tremblay called it a “major discovery.”

“We find their cooking vessels, essentially. But we also find their pipes because they were made out of ceramics,” he told CTV Montreal.

The researchers also found a tooth from a beluga whale. It’s not known what the tooth was used for, although it’s believed it came from relatives down the St. Lawrence River toward Quebec City.

This is not the first time Indigenous treasures have been found at the site. The site was excavated once before after pottery was found in 1859.

Iroquois artefacts uncovered in downtown Montreal date back to 14th century
Archaeology dig at Peel and Sherbrooke Streets in Montreal [Credit: CTV News]

Tremblay said that six out of 10 of the radio carbon dates show the artefacts are from the late fourteenth century, around 1375.

“That’s a little mind-boggling so we have to understand why,” Tremblay said. “We’re working on that right now.”

Christine Zachary Deom, a former elected Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, said she thinks the discoveries are “wonderful.”

“It just actually means to me that the things that I heard as a child, the oral tradition is there and it’s alive and well,” she said.

“It just really highlight(s) that the Mohawks have been present all the way through,” she added.

The City of Montreal is providing archaeology training to members of the Mohawk community so that they can be a part of future digs.

Zachary Deom called it “the best inclusion I’ve ever seen.”

Montreal is also working with the community on ways to commemorate the ancient village. One idea is for metal grates at the site that echo designs from the ancient pottery.

Source: CTV News [July 30, 2018]





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