понедельник, 14 января 2019 г.

Moel Goedog Ring Cairn 2, Harlech, North Wales, 4.1.19.

Moel Goedog Ring Cairn 2, Harlech, North Wales, 4.1.19.

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2019 January 14 Meteor and Milky Way over the Alps Image Credit…

2019 January 14

Meteor and Milky Way over the Alps
Image Credit & Copyright: Nicholas Roemmelt (Venture Photography)

Explanation: Now this was a view with a thrill. From Mount Tschirgant in the Alps, you can see not only nearby towns and distant Tyrolean peaks, but also, weather permitting, stars, nebulas, and the band of the Milky Way Galaxy. What made the arduous climb worthwhile this night, though, was another peak – the peak of the 2018 Perseids Meteor Shower. As hoped, dispersing clouds allowed a picturesque sky-gazing session that included many faint meteors, all while a carefully positioned camera took a series of exposures. Suddenly, a thrilling meteor – bright and colorful – slashed down right next the nearly vertical band of the Milky Way. As luck would have it, the camera caught it too. Therefore, a new image in the series was quickly taken with one of the sky-gazers posing on the nearby peak. Later, all of the images were digitally combined.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190114.html

Dragon Released to Return Science and Supplies Back to Earth

SpaceX – CRS-16 Dragon Mission patch.

January 13, 2019

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was released from the International Space Station today at 6:33 p.m. EST. Robotics controllers remotely commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to let go of the U.S. space freighter sending it on a solo trajectory back to Earth.

Astronaut Anne McClain monitored the activities from the cupola and watched Dragon perform a series of departure burns as it separated itself to a safe distance from the orbital lab. Integrated operations between mission controllers in Houston and SpaceX controllers in California stop when Dragon reaches a point about one kilometer away from the station.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured moments after being released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Image Credit: NASA TV.

SpaceX personnel will retrieve Dragon after it parachutes to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean Monday at 12:15 a.m. (9:15 p.m. Sunday Pacific time) then tow it to port in southern California. This will be the first nighttime splashdown and recovery for the Dragon with plenty of moonlight to track its entry.

The commercial cargo vessel is taking home a variety of critical space research that will immediately be picked up by NASA engineers and distributed to scientists across the nation. Station hardware will also be extracted for analysis, refurbishment or discarding.

SpaceX CRS-16: Dragon departure from the ISS

Dragon completes a 36-day mission attached to the station’s Harmony module after delivering more than 5,600 pounds of science and supplies on Dec. 8. Today’s departure leaves four spacecraft, including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft, attached to the space station.

The next Dragon mission to the space station will be its first uncrewed demonstration mission designated SpaceX DM-1. The Commercial Crew Program’s first launch is currently targeted for February and will demonstrate ground systems, orbit to docking activities and landing operations.

Related links:

Expedition 58: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition58/index.html

SpaceX Dragon: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/launch/spacex.html

Canadarm2 robotic arm: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/mobile-servicing-system.html

Harmony module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/harmony

SpaceX DM-1: https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/category/spacex/

Commercial Crew Program: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/index.html

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

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

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link

Astronomers observe evolution of a black hole as it wolfs down stella

X-ray echoes, mapped by NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), revealed changes to the accretion disk and corona of black hole MAXI J1820+070. Image: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Halo of highly energized electrons around the black hole contracts dramatically during feeding frenzy

On March 11, an instrument aboard the International Space Station detected an enormous explosion of X-ray light that grew to be six times as bright as the Crab Nebula, nearly 10,000 light years away from Earth. Scientists determined the source was a black hole caught in the midst of an outburst — an extreme phase in which a black hole can spew brilliant bursts of X-ray energy as it devours an avalanche of gas and dust from a nearby star.

Now astronomers from MIT and elsewhere have detected “echoes” within this burst of X-ray emissions, that they believe could be a clue to how black holes evolve during an outburst. In a study published today in the journal Nature, the team reports evidence that as the black hole consumes enormous amounts of stellar material, its corona — the halo of highly-energized electrons that surrounds a black hole — significantly shrinks, from an initial expanse of about 100 kilometers (about the width of Massachusetts) to a mere 10 kilometers, in just over a month.

The findings are the first evidence that the corona shrinks as a black hole feeds, or accretes. The results also suggest that it is the corona that drives a black hole’s evolution during the most extreme phase of its outburst.

“This is the first time that we’ve seen this kind of evidence that it’s the corona shrinking during this particular phase of outburst evolution,” says Jack Steiner, a research scientist in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “The corona is still pretty mysterious, and we still have a loose understanding of what it is. But we now have evidence that the thing that’s evolving in the system is the structure of the corona itself.”

Steiner’s MIT co-authors include Ronald Remillard and first author Erin Kara.

X-ray echoes

The black hole detected on March 11 was named MAXI J1820+070, for the instrument that detected it. The Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) mission is a set of X-ray detectors installed in the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station (ISS), that monitors the entire sky for X-ray outbursts and flares.

Soon after the instrument picked up the black hole’s outburst, Steiner and his colleagues started observing the event with NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, another instrument aboard the ISS, which was designed partly by MIT, to measure the amount and timing of incoming X-ray photons.

“This boomingly bright black hole came on the scene, and it was almost completely unobscured, so we got a very pristine view of what was going on,” Steiner says.

A typical outburst can occur when a black hole sucks away enormous amounts of material from a nearby star. This material accumulates around the black hole, in a swirling vortex known as an accretion disk, which can span millions of miles across. Material in the disk that is closer to the center of the black hole spins faster, generating friction that heats up the disk.

“The gas in the center is millions of degrees in temperature,” Steiner says. “When you heat something that hot, it shines out as X-rays. This disk can undergo avalanches and pour its gas down onto the central black hole at about a Mount Everest’s worth of gas per second. And that’s when it goes into outburst, which usually lasts about a year.”

Scientists have previously observed that X-ray photons emitted by the accretion disk can ping-pong off high-energy electrons in a black hole’s corona. Steiner says some of these photons can scatter “out to infinity,” while others scatter back onto the accretion disk as higher-energy X-rays.

By using NICER, the team was able to collect extremely precise measurements of both the energy and timing of X-ray photons throughout the black hole’s outburst. Crucially, they picked up “echoes,” or lags between low-energy photons (those that may have initially been emitted by the accretion disk) and high-energy photons (the X-rays that likely had interacted with the corona’s electrons). Over the course of a month, the researchers observed that the length of these lags decreased significantly, indicating that the distance between the corona and the accretion disk was also shrinking. But was it the disk or the corona that was shifting in?

To answer this, the researchers measured a signature that astronomers know as the “iron line” — a feature that is emitted by the iron atoms in an accretion disk only when they are energized, such as by the reflection of X-ray photons off a corona’s electrons. Iron, therefore, can measure the inner boundary of an accretion disk.

When the researchers measured the iron line throughout the outburst, they found no measurable change, suggesting that the disk itself was not shifting in shape, but remaining relatively stable. Together with the evidence of a diminishing X-ray lag, they concluded that it must be the corona that was changing, and shrinking as a result of the black hole’s outburst.

“We see that the corona starts off as this bloated, 100-kilometer blob inside the inner accretion disk, then shrinks down to something like 10 kilometers, over about a month,” Steiner says. “This is the first unambiguous case of a corona shrinking while the disk is stable.”

“NICER has allowed us to measure light echoes closer to a stellar-mass black hole than ever before,” Kara adds. “Previously these light echoes off the inner accretion disk were only seen in supermassive black holes, which are millions to billions of solar masses and evolve over millions of years. Stellar black holes like J1820 have much lower masses and evolve much faster, so we can see changes play out on human time scales.”

While it’s unclear what is exactly causing the corona to contract, Steiner speculates that the cloud of high-energy electrons is being squeezed by the overwhelming pressure generated by the accretion disk’s in-falling avalanche of gas.

The findings offer new insights into an important phase of a black hole’s outburst, known as a transition from a hard to a soft state. Scientists have known that at some point early on in an outburst, a black hole shifts from a “hard” phase that is dominated by the corona’s energy, to a “soft” phase that is ruled more by the accretion disk’s emissions.

“This transition marks a fundamental change in a black hole’s mode of accretion,” Steiner says. “But we don’t know exactly what’s going on. How does a black hole transition from being dominated by a corona to its disk? Does the disk move in and take over, or does the corona change and dissipate in some way? This is something people have been trying to unravel for decades And now this is a definitive piece of work in regards to what’s happening in this transition phase, and that what’s changing is the corona.”

This research is supported, in part, by NASA through the NICER mission and the Astrophysics Explorers Program.

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office

Source: MIT/News

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Decapitated skeletons found at Roman cemetery dig in Suffolk

Archaeologists have uncovered a rare collection of decapitated skeletons while excavating a site in Suffolk.

Decapitated skeletons found at Roman cemetery dig in Suffolk
Archaeologist excavated Roman cemetery with high proportion of deviant burials
[Credit: Archaeological Solutions]

The discovery took place at a dig in Great Whelnetham, near Bury St Edmunds, ahead of a planned Havebury Housing development in the village.

A total of 52 skeletons have been found, with 17 that have been decapitated with the head placed by or between the legs or feet.

The decapitated burials, which include both men, women and one child, represents up to 40% of the recorded graves at the site, which is a “very high percentage”.

According to archaeologist Andy Peachey, 60% of the graves at the site, which dates to the 4th century, could be classified as ‘deviant’ – placed in a manner which does not conform to the most common Roman burial rite.

Decapitated skeletons found at Roman cemetery dig in Suffolk
Decapitated skeleton [Credit: Archaeological Solutions]

“It is rare to find such a high proportion of decapitated burials in Britain,” he said. “Perhaps only half a dozen other sites in Britain demonstrate this.

“However, low proportions of decapitated burials are a common component of Roman cemeteries.”

Mr Peachey, from excavation company Archaeological Solutions, said the remains did not indicate executions.

“This appears to be a careful funeral rite that may be associated with a particular group within the local population, possibly associated with a belief system (cult) or a practice that came with a group moved into the area,” he said.

Decapitated skeletons found at Roman cemetery dig in Suffolk
Decapitated skeleton with head between its feet [Credit: Archaeological Solutions]

“The incisions through the neck were post-mortem and were neatly placed just behind the jaw – an execution would cut lower through the neck and with violent force, and this is not present anywhere.”

Mr Peachey added the skeletal analysis is beginning to reveal some interesting results from the site.

“We have a fairly evenly mixed population by gender, with a couple of juvenile skeletons (nine-10 years), but most were at least middle aged if not older,” he said.

“They were well nourished, and several had very robust upper arms/bodies consistent with a working agricultural population.

Decapitated skeletons found at Roman cemetery dig in Suffolk
Decapitated skeleton with head under knee [Credit: Archaeological Solutions]

“However, their diet was plentiful enough to include significant natural sugars and carbohydrates, resulting in poor dental hygiene.

“Many dental abscesses and losses were present but most were healed, while several had also carried TB – also common in rural-agricultrual populations.”

The archaeologists are now beginning the analysis of the Roman occupants and artefacts, and will relate the cemetery to other Roman burial grounds across England.

Once completed, a report will be published and artefacts deposited with the Suffolk County Council archaeological archive.

Author: Michael Steward | Source: East Anglian Daily Times [January 08, 2019]



Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Culture Minister Rogers Valencia presented an important discovery of a Wari ceremonial offering which consisted of 6 small idols, 24 silver figures of female warriors, 3 anthropomorphic figures, and 107 pieces representing parts of human bodies carved in spondylus shells, among other artifacts.

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco
Credit: DDC Cusco

“This is an extraordinary discovery by our researchers as it allows us to explore new aspects of Wari culture and reveals the high degree of trade-cultural integration in ancient Peru,” Valencia said.

According to the first hypotheses, researchers at Cusco’s Decentralized Culture Directorate (DDC) carried out the find.

“The next step is to bring the metal pieces to the Brüning Museum’s laboratory specializing in metallurgical works —based in Lambayeque region— and, then, take them back to Cusco for public display,” the Culture sector’s head pointed out.

The discovery took place in one of the 15 excavation sites at Pikillaqta’s main square.

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco

Wari ceremonial offerings from Pikillaqta presented in Cusco
Credit: DDC Cusco

Two camel skeletons, eight spondylus shells, and two small silver sheets were found in a hole of about 70 cm diameter and two-meter depth.

Likewise, a round-shaped ceremonial offering was unearthed as researchers delved deeper. A sort of bar was placed at the center.

Pikillaqta Archaeological Park is one of the most famous pre-Inca sites and the best-preserved ancient cities in Peru.

It was developed between the years 600 and 1,000 AD by the Wari culture in the Central Andes (Ayacucho region).

Source: Andina [January 09, 2019]



Population boom points to Nabataean cultivation of ‘inhospitable’ southern Jordan

A population boom that took place during a period of Nabataean, Roman and Byzantine rule must have been caused by multiple factors including surprisingly — cultivation, an associate professor from the US has recently said.

Population boom points to Nabataean cultivation of ‘inhospitable’ southern Jordan
The view of the theatre in ancient Nabataen town of Petra [Credit: Jennifer Ramsey]

“Petra, as the capital of a trading empire in the ancient Near East during the late first century BC, influenced the region’s landscape, which experienced a significant increase in population,” said associate professor at The College at Brockport, State University of New York, Jennifer Ramsay.

“Although this may seem like an inhospitable landscape today,” she continued, “the ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century BC, described Petra as having a very significant population [of around 10,000]”.

Ramsey said that even though Bir Madhkur, a site in Wadi Araba, receives less than 100mm of precipitation a year, it was a major caravan station along the ancient spice route that connected Petra with the Mediterranean port of Gaza, and has evidence of Nabataean occupation.

Ramsay added that sites like Ayla (Aqaba), may have been founded in response to the Roman annexation of Egypt and the subsequent revitalisation of Egyptian Red Sea ports.

“The Nabataeans probably saw this as a direct threat to their control of the lucrative aromatics trade from the southern Arabian Peninsula. And then Trajan’s annexation of the Nabataean Kingdom in 106 AD as the province of Arabia, and the construction of the Via Nova Traiana… likely led to the increase in population,” Ramsay outlined.

Likewise, Ramsay explained, the transfer of a Roman legion from Jerusalem to Ayla at the end of the third century AD led to an increase in military personnel — as well as civilians — in military camps in southern Jordan.

“The legion remained at Ayla, then the southernmost Roman military base along the eastern frontier, until at least the beginning of the fifth century AD,” she said, noting that other sources suggest that Ayla remained an active commercial port through late antiquity, until its fall to the Arabs in 630AD.

It is clear from this that the Nabataeans rapidly learned how to collect the small amounts of precipitation that were available to them. A wide variety of hydraulic engineering features utilised by the Nabataeans as their population grew have been documented, Ramsay elaborated.

Botanical remains also provide direct evidence of the Nabataean’s growth and adaptation, which is supported by archaeological remains of field walls, farmhouses, threshing floors, catch dams, wadi barriers and ethnographic research, she said.

The sites of Ayla, Humayma, Bir Madhkur and Ayn Gharandal also had military forts during the Roman period, whose inhabitants would have needed augmented quantities of food — as a result of this, an increased demand for agricultural commodities would have been likely, she pointed out.

“Local cultivation on any scale may well have been a necessity at these sites, to support the great sedentary population,” Ramsay highlighted.

This is not to say the populations of southern Jordan were relying solely on local agriculture, specifically cereal grains, to supply all of their needs, the researcher explained.

“However, the data cited [weeds, chaff, and field systems] points to at least some local cultivation,” Ramsay stressed.

Moreover, the presence of cereal grains found on sites through the different periods of occupation, and the presence of crop processing by-products supports the idea there was a local agricultural economy, the scholar underlined.

“As a result, the landscape of southern Jordan and the Negev Desert in antiquity would have been significantly altered from a barren desert to a more verdant and anthropomorphic environment, reflective of a larger population that required more agricultural commodities to support their existence,” Ramsay concluded.

Author: Saeb Rawashdeh | Source: The Jordan Times [January 08, 2019]



Oldest known human burial identified in Lower Central America

The remains of a young woman were discovered by archaeologists in what is now the Nicaraguan village of Bleera Kaanu. Buried some 5,900 years ago, the unusually muscular woman young woman is the oldest known human buried in lower Central America to date, adding a significant chapter to the region’s archaeological record.

Oldest known human burial identified in Lower Central America
The excavated burial of the ancient woman [Credit: Roksandic M. et al., Antiquity 2018;
Courtesy of BICU-CIDCA]

The woman’s remains, shielded by an ancient shell mound, a pile of assorted shells designed to mark burial sites or certain spots in the landscape, and the Caribbean’s tropical conditions, remained undisturbed for nearly six millennia.
Until a team of Canadian, German and Nicaraguan researchers has deemed her final resting site. As the group writes in a study published in the journal Antiquity, the find “represents an important contribution to our understanding of the early peopling” of the Caribbean.

Oldest known human burial identified in Lower Central America
Laid on her back with legs tucked against her chest and arms prone at the sides of her body, she remained undisturbed
 for nearly six millennia [Credit: Roksandic M. et al., Antiquity 2018; Courtesy of BICU-CIDCA]

The team also notes that the woman was still in her original burial position when the grave was reopened. Although the skeleton was largely complete, the quality of the bones was compromised by the Caribbean’s poor preservation conditions.
Ancient human remains are rarely found in lower Central America and similarly tropical regions, as acidic soil tends to damage bone. Luckily, lead author Mirjana Roksandic, an anthropologist at Canada’s University of Winnipeg, says the shell mound placed over the woman’s grave “reduced the acidity of the soil and helped preserve the remains.”

Oldest known human burial identified in Lower Central America
The left radius (arm bone) of the ancient woman. Notice the pronounced markings on the bone,
which suggest she was muscular [Credit: Roksandic M. et al., Antiquity 2018]

Forensic analysis suggested the woman died when she was between 25 and 40 years old. Despite the heavy wear evident on her teeth (a marker usually associated with higher age), the researchers believe she was closer to the lower limit of this age range, as individuals who follow a seafood-based diet tend to exhibit poorer dentition. No cause of death was readily apparent.
The woman stood 4-feet 11-inches tall, and had, in the words of Roksandic, “strongly developed musculature of the forearm,” possibly due to rowing or similar strengthening activities.

Oldest known human burial identified in Lower Central America
A profile shot of the Angi burial. On the left is a photo taken during the excavation. On the right is a drawing
of that photo, showing the different layers, as well as where the shells and body were buried
[Credit: Roksandic M. et al., Antiquity 2018; Courtesy of BICU-CIDCA]

As Roksandic explains to Live Science, study co-author Harly Duncan, a member of the Bleera Kaanu community, introduced the other researchers to an 82-year-old woman who had just rowed four hours to visit family across the water. “Kids as young as 9 rowed around Rama islands”—a cluster of land on Nicaragua’s eastern coast—”in a dugout,” Roksandic adds.
It remains too early for researchers to offer a definitive analysis of the culture that produced the woman. For now, her remains are being held in the CIDCA Historical Cultural Museum of the Caribbean Coast.

Source: Archaeology & Arts [January 10, 2019]



Madrid mummy found to be Ptolemy II’s eye doctor

In the middle of the night on June 6, 2016, an enormous refrigerated trailer with a two-vehicle escort parked in front of the Emergency Unit at Quirónsalud University Hospital in Pozuelo, outside Madrid. An extensive team of doctors was waiting there to examine the four bodies travelling within – three Egyptians and a male from the Canary Islands.

Madrid mummy found to be Ptolemy II’s eye doctor
The mummy of Nespamedu had a CT scan in 2016 [Credit: MAN/El Pais]

The specialists had just 15 hours to carry out a project dubbed CT Mummy Operation: visitors to the National Archaeology Museum were not meant to notice that the four bodies had spent the night elsewhere, while hospital patients were not to suspect that they were sharing state-of-the-art medical resources with humans who had lived more than 2,000 years ago.

Now, two years later, the museum has released the results of that examination. And it turns out that one of the mummies, which was covered in jewels and charms beneath its bandages, was the priest Nespamedu, the personal eye doctor of Pharaoh Ptolemy II, and perhaps also Ptolemy III (the jury is still out on this latter claim).

His Spanish odyssey began in 1925, when the steamship C. López y López docked in the port of Barcelona with an unusual cargo: a mummy that had been bought in Cairo by the scholar Ignacio Bauer with scarcely any documentation, according to a report by Esther Pons Mellado, a specialist at the National Archaeology Museum. In fact, at first it was thought to be the body of a woman.

Thanks to the tomography analysis, it has now been established that Nespamedu was a priest who lived between 300 BC and 200 BC and who worked at the Imhotep- Asclepius clinic in Serapeum of Saqqara (Memphis) or else in Alexandria as well as being doctor to the king, according to another report by archaeologists María del Carmen Pérez Die and Dr Javier Carrascoso.

The information gleaned from the scan reveals that Nespamedu was a high-ranking official with enough money to have his body prepared for the journey to the afterlife. But according to experts, it is the charms and plaques stored within his bandages that are the most revealing. Two groups of eight plaques have shown up on different parts of the mummy in which the four sons of the deity Horus are represented. Another two plaques feature the goddesses Isis and Nephthys, while representations of the mummification of the corpse together with the god Anubis were found at the top of Nespamedu’s legs.

There are also two plaques featuring the god Thoth and the Eye of Horus, symbolizing magic, protection and purification together with a solar symbol that stands for cosmic stability. Thoth is the god of ophthalmologists, as it was he who put Horus’ eye back after he lost it in his battle with Set.

Madrid mummy found to be Ptolemy II’s eye doctor
Tomography of Nespamedu’s mummy [Credit: MAN/El Pais]

This has led specialists to conclude that Nespamedu chose this god on account of his own profession. “There is nothing casual about the iconography and it is clear that he wanted to register his beliefs and the responsibilities that had elevated him to the upper echelons of society,” states a report published in the last National Archaeology Museum’s bulletin. “The fact that he was the pharaoh’s doctor makes us think that part of his life was lived in Alexandria, where Ptolemy had his court.”

A third report written by Andrés Carretero Pérez, director of the National Archaeology Museum, points out that “mummies are cultural assets that are very vulnerable to changes in the environment and it should be a priority to avoid manipulation and movement as far as possible because there is no such thing as zero risk.”

The mummies are closely monitored, conserved behind glass with air-renewal systems and tightly controlled temperature, humidity and light levels. Such is the fragility of the mummies that the expert Teresa Gómez Espinosa notes how a highly specialized transportation company was chosen to transfer the bodies to the hospital for the scans. Two alternative routes were planned in case of unforeseen circumstances, and the trip took place on a night when the air was dry and the temperature mild. If there had been rain or an increase in humidity levels, the operation would have been called off immediately.

After arriving at the hospital, Nespamedu and the other mummies were carefully introduced into the CT scanner. Nespamedu had 2,739 images taken of his body, which was virtually undressed, allowing the charms and plaques to show up. The headband he was wearing was a winged Scarab charm with a solar disc that also featured the god Khepri, symbol of resurrection and rebirth.

Nespamedu also wore a Usekh collar, particular to the Egyptian elite – one of the most typical pieces of Egyptian jewellery, which normally features a falcon’s head and is supported by the shoulders with a counterweight on the back.

It is known that priests and doctors were trained in the temple where Nespamedu attended to patients. In fact, a chapel dedicated to health was built In Imhotep’s honour and people came there from the most remote regions of Egypt in search of miracle cures. Its god was Thoth, deity of science and medicine, the forefather of ophthalmologists.

Author: Vicente G. Olaya/transl. Heather Galloway | Source: El Pais [January 10, 2019]



Museum of Scotland in row over Great Pyramid stone

The Museum of Scotland has been caught up in a row about whether it has permission to exhibit a casing stone from an Egyptian pyramid.

Museum of Scotland in row over Great Pyramid stone
The block that the National Museum of Scotland claims is part of the Great Pyramid’s casing
[Credit: National Museums Scotland/BBC]

It was announced last week that a block of limestone from the Great Pyramid of Giza was to go on display in Edinburgh.

Egypt’s Antiquities Repatriation Department has since cast doubt over its authenticity and documentation.

However, the museum has insisted that a British engineer was given permission to take the stone in 1872.

The pyramid stone is due to go on public display for the first time next month as the centrepiece of an exhibition on ancient Egypt in Edinburgh.

But Shabaan Abdel Gawwad, supervisor-general of Egypt’s Antiquities Repatriation Department, has said he wants an official team to visit Scotland, asking for a certificate of possession and export documents.

‘Illegally smuggled’

He said measures would be taken to repatriate any artefacts found to have been illegally smuggled out of his country.

Museum of Scotland in row over Great Pyramid stone
The stone is the only casing stone from the Great Pyramid of Giza to be displayed outside Egypt
[Credit: National Museums Scotland/BBC]

Mr Abdel Gawwad also said he did not believe the stone was from the Great Pyramid of Giza, as the museum claims.

He said: “The ministry of antiquities has addressed the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take necessary measures to contact Scottish authorities and the museum asking for a certificate of possession and export documents for the casing stone and how it left Egypt and when the museum obtained it.

“We want to see all certificates of possession for other Egyptian artefacts due to be exhibited in the museum as well.

“The Egyptian law on protection of monuments no.117 for 1983 stipulates that trading or exporting antiquities is a crime.

“If it’s proven that this block or any other artefact were found to have been illegally smuggled, necessary measures will be taken to repatriate them.”

Officials at the museum, in Edinburgh’s Chambers Street, told the BBC Scotland news website the casing stone came from the Great Pyramid of Giza, and was found by British engineer Waynman Dixon, working on behalf of the Astronomer Royal of Scotland, Charles Piazzi Smyth.

Museum of Scotland in row over Great Pyramid stone
Astronomer Royal of Scotland, Charles Piazzi Smyth
[Credit: Science Photo Library/BBC]

He uncovered it in a rubble heap from road works being undertaken by the Egyptian government in 1869.

A spokeswoman for National Museums Scotland said: “In 1865 Piazzi Smyth had initiated a programme of research including the first largely accurate survey of the Great Pyramid.

“In doing so, he had the official permission of the Viceroy of Egypt and the assistance of the Egyptian Antiquities Service.

“The stone was brought to the UK by Waynman Dixon in 1872 and transported to Charles Piazzi Smyth in Edinburgh.

“After reviewing all the documentary evidence we hold, we are confident that the appropriate permissions and documentation were obtained, in line with common practice at the time.”

It has been reported in Egypt that the casing stone could not be from the Great Pyramid of Giza because it is made of the wrong material.

Egyptian experts said that the outer layer of the pyramid was made of granite, like the pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure, and not of limestone as the National Museum of Scotland claims the casing stone is made from.

Pyramid base

However, a museum spokeswoman added: “The Great Pyramid was originally clad in fine Tura limestone.

Museum of Scotland in row over Great Pyramid stone
An illustration by Charles Piazzi Smyth who arranged for the casing stone
to come to the UK [Credit: National Museums Scotland/BBC]

“Even today, some limestone casing stones still remain at the base of the pyramid.

“The block in our collections was discovered at the foot of the Great Pyramid, and we are confident that it is a casing stone from it.”

Built for King Khufu and dating about 2589-2566 BC, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex.

The museum said the stone was one of the few surviving casing stones from the Great Pyramid and will be displayed in a new, permanent gallery at the museum called Ancient Egypt Rediscovered.

It forms the centrepiece of the Museum of Scotland’s display about the design and construction of pyramids in ancient Egypt, and will be the only display of its kind in the UK when it goes on show on 8 February.

Author: Angie Brown | Source: BBC Neww Website [January 10, 2019]



Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts

In the National Museum of Damascus, archaeologist Muntajab Youssef works on an ancient stone bust from Palmyra, one of hundreds of artefacts his team is painstakingly restoring after they were damaged by Islamic State.

Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts
A specialist works on a damaged statue from Palmyra at Syria’s National Museum of Damascus, Syria
January 9, 2019. Picture taken January 9, 2019 [Credit: Omar Sanadiki]

Centuries-old statues and sculptures were wrecked by the jihadists when they twice seized control of the old city in central Syria during the country’s war, which will go into its ninth year in March.

The 1,800-year-old bust of a bejewelled and richly clothed woman, The Beauty of Palmyra, was damaged during the first offensive on the city by Islamic State fighters in 2015.

After Syrian government forces took back the city with Russian military support in March 2016, the bust, alongside other damaged ancient monuments, was taken to Damascus and archived in boxes. When restoration work on it began last year, Youssef said it was in pieces.

“The hands and face were lost completely, also parts of the dress and there are areas that are weaker,” Youssef, who has been working on the bust for two months, said.

Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts

Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts

Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts

Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts

Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts

Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts

Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artefacts
Specialists work on damaged statues from Palmyra at Syria’s National Museum of Damascus, Syria
January 9, 2019. Picture taken January 9, 2019 [Credit: Omar Sanadiki]

Youssef is one of 12 archaeologists working on the arduous restoration job, which first began with the of moving the damaged pieces to Damascus.

Mamoun Abdulkarim, the former Head of Syrian Antiquities, said that in some cases broken artefacts were transported in empty ammunition boxes provided by the Syrian army in Palmyra.

How many artefacts there are in total is difficult to say, given the state they were found in.

The lack of documentation for the artefacts also adds to the restoration challenge.

“A big part of the documentation in the Palmyra museum, was damaged with the antiquities and computers,” archaeologist Raed Abbas said. “A statue needs pictures … in order to be rebuilt.”

Source: Reuters [January 10, 2019]




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