четверг, 24 января 2019 г.

Captioned Image Spotlight (22 Jan 2019): Multi-Elevation…


Captioned Image Spotlight (22 Jan 2019): Multi-Elevation Gullies


Gullies probably formed along the bouldery layers in the upper slopes of this unnamed crater within the last few million years. Gullies eroded these crater slopes and transported sediment downslope forming debris aprons multiple times.


These older apron surfaces were cut by numerous fractures running perpendicular to the slope. Subsequent episodes of gully activity eroded through these fractures and deposited new aprons.


On the floor of the crater are ridges with bouldery layers. These ridges may mark the furthest extent of glaciers that predate much of the original gully activity. Bright flows continue to form in these gullies seasonally.


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Captioned Image Spotlight (23 Jan 2019): Impact Near the South…


Captioned Image Spotlight (23 Jan 2019): Impact Near the South Pole


This image shows a new impact crater that formed between July and September 2018. It’s notable because it occurred in the seasonal southern ice cap, and has apparently punched through it, creating a two-toned blast pattern.


The impact hit on the ice layer, and the tones of the blast pattern tell us the sequence. When an impactor hits the ground, there is a tremendous amount of force like an explosion. The larger, lighter-colored blast pattern could be the result of scouring by winds from the impact shockwave. The darker-colored inner blast pattern is because the impactor penetrated the thin ice layer, excavated the dark sand underneath, and threw it out in all directions on top of the layer.


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Captioned Image Spotlight (24 Jan 2019): Cross-Section of a…


Captioned Image Spotlight (24 Jan 2019): Cross-Section of a Complex Crater 


This image shows a cross-section of a complex crater in Terra Cimmeria.


Starting in the center, we see a series of peaks with exposed bedrock. These peaks formed during the impact event when material that was originally several kilometers below the surface was uplifted and exposed. The impact also melted the rocks. This eventually cooled, forming the pitted materials that coat the crater floor around the uplift.


The rim of the crater was unstable, and collapsed inwards to form terraces, and we see additional pitted materials between the terraces and the rim. Just outside the crater we can see dark-toned material that was excavated and thrown out after the impact.


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Hundreds of impact craters cover ESA’s Columbus science laboratory


ESA & DLR – Columbus Laboratory Module patch.


24 January 2019


On 6 September 2018, the 17-metre arm attached to humankind’s most distant outpost began to move. Its instructions were to survey the spaceship’s European science laboratory for signs of impact damage from marauding bits of space rock or space debris.


The robotic arm camera on the International Space Station has now completed the first two scans of the outer panels of the Columbus module, in search of micro impact ‘craters’.



ESA Columbus module

The Columbus crater survey was requested by a European team of scientists, including Detlef Koschny, an expert from ESA’s Planetary Defence Office focussing on space safety and security.


“Space is vast and mostly empty, but small space rocks are constantly passing into our local environment as well as debris from past spacecraft collisions and explosions”, explains Detlef.



The robotic arm of the ISS scanning the European Columbus module

The Columbus module, part of the International Space Station, is the first permanent European research facility in space, and the largest single contribution to the Station made by the ESA.


Launched in February 2008, the European Columbus laboratory has been in space for ten years, but until September it had not been thoroughly checked for signs of impact damage.


In their first analysis of the data, the team found several hundred small impact craters, visible in the image below as tiny dents in the laboratory’s outer casing. These would have been produced by very small pieces of either natural or artificial debris, typically smaller than 1 mm in size.


“These fragments can travel at extremely fast speeds, and if larger than a centimeter in size could do a great deal of damage to the Space Station and satellites in orbit”, Detlef continues.



Hundreds of impact craters cover the cosmic Columbus science laboratory

As was recently discovered on the Station, even a small hole in the protective casing of the Soyuz module created a noticeable loss of air pressure. This recent discovery is now thought not to be the result of an external impact, but it shows the importance of understanding how these events can happen.


Detlef concludes, “These little dents in the outer part of the Columbus module show how the space around Earth is not so empty after all. They also show what a good job the ESA-built module is doing to protect astronauts living and working in space”.


This study allows the team to better understand the density of human-made debris particles at the orbital altitude of the Space Station, in comparison to the natural micrometeorite density near Earth, both of which are important for constructing models to help us understand the risks of the meteorites marauding through space.



Columbus gets a look-over

The recordings will also be used by ESA’s Space Debris Office, who are evaluating the footage in order to characterise the craters found – an important tool for validating current models, such as ESA’s Meteoroid and Space Debris Terrestrial Environment Reference (MASTER), which describes the impact risk to missions in orbit from human-made and natural debris.


Find out more about ESA’s Space Debris Office and the Agency’s asteroid defence efforts – including construction of the first-ever Flyeye telescope and the ambitious planned Hera mission to test asteroid deflection.


Editor’s note: This project was proposed by Gerhard Drolshagen (University of Oldenburg, D), Robin Putzar (Fraunhofer/EMI, Freiburg, D), Dieter Sabath (DLR Oberpfaffenhofen, D), and Detlef Koschny (ESA) plus other experts from TU Braunschweig, D, ESA, and NASA.


Related links:


Columbus module: https://www-adm.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Columbus/Columbus_laboratory


ESA’s Planetary Defence Office: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/Space_Situational_Awareness/Near-Earth_Objects_-_NEO_Segment


ESA’s Space Debris Office: https://www-adm.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/gse/ESA_Space_Debris_Office


Flyeye telescope: https://www-adm.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/Space_Situational_Awareness/ESA_s_bug-eyed_telescope_to_spot_risky_asteroids


Hera mission: https://www-adm.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Hera/Earth_s_first_mission_to_a_binary_asteroid_for_planetary_defence


Space Situational Awareness: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/Space_Situational_Awareness


Images, Animations, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA.


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Moving on the Moon


ESA – European Space Agency patch.


24 January 2019


Europe is preparing to go forward to the Moon, but how will astronauts move once they get there? Despite the Apollo missions, little is known about what lunar gravity may mean for our bodies. ESA’s space medicine team is working to find out through a series of studies.


The level of gravity on the Moon is about one sixth of Earth’s so while Apollo astronauts did not float as astronauts do on the International Space Station, they tended to hop rather than walk.



International Space Station flying in front of the Moon

Education coordinator at ESA’s astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany, David Green is leading this research alongside science operations engineer Tobias Weber. He says, though much research has been carried out into the impacts of microgravity as experienced on the International Space Station, the physiological impact of working in lunar gravity remains unknown.


Studying the effects of lunar gravity will help identify potential risks and create measures to keep astronauts fit and healthy.


“How microgravity influences our bodies is also investigated through bedrest studies that recreate some of the changes we associate with living in space by putting people in bed with their head below horizontal,” David explains.


“These studies show the way in which the body adapts to life in weightlessness, resulting in bone weakness and muscle loss, and it is why astronauts are prescribed daily exercise when in orbit.”


Do we need a gym on the Moon?


To help answer some of their questions such as how lunar gravity might impact the biomechanics of walking, running and hopping, the team – in collaboration with German Aerospace Center DLR and academic partners – conducted the first “Movement in low gravity study” in 2017. This study used a vertical treadmill to simulate various levels of reduced gravity.


During the study, researchers looked at movement patterns, muscle activity, ground reaction forces and aspects of Achilles tendon function.


While the initial study showed that jumping may be the best way to prevent muscle and bone loss, the vertical treadmill did not allow subjects to jump as high as they would be able to on the Moon.



The vertical treadmill at :envihab

“We believe jumping and hopping on the Moon may provide forces similar to walking and running on Earth. This would allow astronauts to maintain their bone and muscle condition through everyday movement,” Tobias says. “This may reduce the need for training equipment such as on the Space Station and it is something we hope to explore further.”


The second phase of the study will be conducted using NASA’s Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, which allows a greater range of vertical movement.


This will enable researchers to determine maximum jump heights, alongside what forces and strains will be placed on an astronaut’s muscles and bones.



Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS) Montage

Simulating Moon, Mars and asteroids


A similar system to ARGOS will form part of a new facility at ESA’s astronaut centre known as Luna 2. Research into movement in low gravity will be used to build expertise and prepare for surface operations on the Moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond.


Related article:


NASA’s Campaign to Return to the Moon with Global Partners
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2019/01/nasas-campaign-to-return-to-moon-with.html


Related links:


European vision for space exploration: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/A_new_European_vision_for_space_exploration


Exploration of the Moon: http://exploration.esa.int/moon/


Lunar exploration interactive guide: http://lunarexploration.esa.int/#/intro


Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO/NASA JSC Engineering.


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2019 January 24 Matterhorn, Moon, and Meteor Image Credit…


2019 January 24


Matterhorn, Moon, and Meteor
Image Credit & Copyright: Stephane Vetter (Nuits sacrées), TWAN


Explanation: Fans of planet Earth probably recognize the Matterhorn in the foreground of this night skyscape. Famed in mountaineering history, the 4,478 meter Alpine mountain stands next to the totally eclipsed Moon. In spite of -22 degree C temperatures, the inspired scene was captured on the morning of January 21 from the mountains near Zermatt, Switzerland. Different exposures record the dim red light reflected by the Moon fully immersed in Earth’s shadow. Seen directly above the famous Alpine peak, but about 600 light-years away, are the stars of the Praesepe or Beehive star cluster also known as Messier 44. An added reward to the cold eclipse vigil, a bright and colorful meteor flashed below the temporarily dimmmed Moon, just tracing the Matterhorn’s north-eastern climbing route along Hornli ridge.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190124.html


Elbaite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Location: Paprok Mine,…


Elbaite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral


Location: Paprok Mine, Kamdesh, Nuristan, Afghanistan


Size: 17.0 x 7.0 x 5.0 cm (large-cabinet)


Photo Copyright © Weinrich Minerals


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Silver Cave | #Geology #GeologyPage #SilverCave #Cave…


Silver Cave | #Geology #GeologyPage #SilverCave #Cave #China


Silver Cave is a national AAAA level scenic spot in Lipu County, Guilin City, Guangxi Province of China, 85 km from Guilin and 18 km away from Yangshuo.


Silver Cave is the typical karst landscape, running through 12 hills. The cave is a floor-type cave, with three layers and more than ten scenery spots and different typles of stalactites, which are crystal clear and sparkling like silver, thus providing the area with its common name.


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Fluorite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality: Bergsig…


Fluorite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral


Locality: Bergsig Farm 167 (Hohenstein), Omaruru District, Erongo Region, Namibia


Size: 10 x 3.8 x 3.8 cm


Photo Copyright © Anton Watzl Minerals


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Smoo Cave, Scotland | #Geology #GeologyPage #Scotland…


Smoo Cave, Scotland | #Geology #GeologyPage #Scotland #Cave


Smoo Cave is located at the eastern edge of the village of Durness, on Scotland’s most northerly coastline. It is a dramatic location and on the only primary road in the area, the A838 Durness to Tongue. A trip to Smoo Cave has to be included in any stay in Durness. Set into limestone cliffs, Smoo Cave is quite large – 200 feet long, 130 feet wide, and 50 feet high at the entrance.


Read more & More Photos: http://www.geologypage.com/2016/05/smoo-cave-scotland.html

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How Are Oil/Natural Gas Formed? 😂😂 | #Geology #GeologyPage #Oil…


How Are Oil/Natural Gas Formed? 😂😂 | #Geology #GeologyPage #Oil #NaturalGas


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Jordan’s monuments threatened by population growth, theft

According to the Department of Antiquities, 27,000 heritage sites in Jordan are well-documented, which makes illegal excavations and vandalism easier for those looking to rob sites.











Jordan’s monuments threatened by population growth, theft
Holes dug by looters are seen in this photo taken at Fifa in Jordan
[Credit: Follow the Pots Project]

“There is a permanent danger for the monuments, due to population growth, social development and urbanisation, followed by vandalism and illicit excavations,” said professor of archaeology at the German-Jordanian University, Thomas Weber-Karyotakis.
However, the scholar added that problems caused by these  factors are not much more dramatic than in other countries such as Turkey, Greece, Italy and Germany.


“Jordan has very good legislation concerning the protection of immovable and movable antiquities. It is always a question how these laws are applied,” Weber-Karyotakis stressed.


Areas on the periphery of Amman are particularly threatened, like Khirbet Yajuz, Quweismeh and Khirbet Al Souq, the German expert underlined, adding that traces of the Roman Via Traiana, “one of the most important traffic routes in the Orient”, were still visible in 2014.


However, they have been entirely removed by public water piping projects in the last three years.


The common problems are that the pace of change, in terms of agricultural intensification, building and construction, are all affecting archaeological sites across the region, and that the Department of Antiquities does not have the resources to cope with the enormity of the problem, noted Director of Endangered Archaeology of Middle East and North Africa Robert Bewley.


“The differences are that some of the national authorities have better records than others. Morocco, Egypt and Jordan have better records than say Libya. The level of cooperation between countries is growing and in terms of understanding the best approaches and sharing experience, there is a high level of cooperation and collaboration,” Bewley stressed.


“Since 1940, everything changed dramatically,” said Professor David Kennedy from The University of Western Australia, adding that the crises developed as the population of Transjordan rose from 330,000 in 1941 to 7.9 million in 2014, which is a 2,400 per cent increase.


“At the same time, the UK experienced a 20 per cent increase in its population,” the scholar said.


Landscape development also affected archaeological sites near the capital, the expert stressed, as the biggest increase in the number of citizens occurred near ancient Philadelphia.


Weber-Karyotakis said a major reason for the negligence towards preservation of Jordanian heritage is ignorance.


“There are a handful of prominent Roman rural sites still visible and occasional fragments of Roman roads and milestones,” Kennedy said.


Western archaeologists can do much to assist in preservation because of their advantage in resources and tools, Kennedy suggested.


“A major endeavour to improve the situation lies in augmented public education, in order to understand monuments as elements of individual and collective identity, and as vehicles for the development of quality of life,” Weber-Karyotakis concluded.


Author: Saeb Rawashdeh | Source: The Jordan Times [January 18, 2019]



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Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site

The remains of 132 youngsters — who were slain as part of a ritual offering 550 years ago — have been uncovered along the coast of the beachside town of Huanchaco in northern Trujillo province (La Libertad region).











Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site
Credit: Andina

With this new finding, the number of victims in the biggest-ever sacrifice of children totals 269. Investigations are underway.
Led by Peruvian archaeologist Gabriel Prieto, the discovery was made at the Pampa La Cruz area located 1.5 km from Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, where well-preserved skeletons of 137 children from pre-Columbian Chimu civilization were exhumed back in 2018.


Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site










Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site
Credit: Andina

In addition to the child vestiges, the discovery included bones of three adults and 260 young llamas —also sacrificed— which are added to other 206 South American camelids unearthed in the Huanchaquito-Las Lomas sector, where research began in 2011.
What amazed archaeologists the most was the fact that some skeletons still have well-preserved hair.


Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site










Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site
Credit: Andina

In fact, one of the infants was wearing a hair ornament with macaw feathers, a native cotton fabric, and thin wool braids.
According to researchers, this shows that some of the children —who were between the ages of five and 14— belonged to the elite of the time.



Children’s remains show evidence of horizontal deep cuts to the sternum —at heart level— caused by a copper knife recently found at Pampa La Cruz.
Prieto consulted John Verano —a forensic expert and professor at Tulane University— to further understand the clues.



Verano has experience analyzing physical evidence of ritual violence in the Andes, including a 13th century Chimu massacre of some 200 men and boys at Punto Lobo site in Piura.


For more on this story see: ‘What made this ancient society sacrifice its own children?’ featured in National Geographic Magazine.


Source: Andina [January 18, 2019]



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Seventh century Ganga Dynasty idol excavated at Talakad

A seventh century Ganga Dynasty idol of Parshvanatha stone sculpture has been discovered at historic place of Talakad in T. Narasipur taluk in in India’s Karnataka state.











Seventh century Ganga Dynasty idol excavated at Talakad
Credit: ASI

The excavation is being conducted by former University of Mysore Professor M.S. Krishnamurthy and Department of Archaeology and Museums Assistant Directors Dr. R. Gopal and Dr. Manjula in Talakad and found the stone idol of Parshvanatha near a Jain temple.


Prof. Krishnamurthy is the former Chairman of Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore.


The stone sculpture, about four ft to five ft height, belonged to seventh century Ganga dynasty. The Department of Archaeology and Museums has taken up excavation in Rajaghatta at Doddaballapur, Talakad and Hampi across the State.


Dr. Gopal said that the sandstone idol was recovered near a Jain Basadi site. The excavation is being undertaken on the left side of Jain Basadi in Talakad. The idol is in ‘Kayotsarga’ pose,  a yogic meditative posture in the Jain tradition and idols generally represent a Thirthankara in standing or seated posture, he said.











Seventh century Ganga Dynasty idol excavated at Talakad
Credit: ASI

‘Kayotsarga’ literally means “dismissing the body” or to give up one’s physical comfort and body movements”, thus staying steady, either in a standing or other posture, and concentrating upon the true nature of the soul.


It may be recalled here that about four years ago the State Archaeology Department had begun excavation in and around the historic and ancient site of Talakad looking for clues about earlier human habitation.


The place is well-known for historical monuments that date back to 5th Century AD. Gangas were in power there then.


The Department had begun excavations in 2010 as part of its regular and seasonal activities. For some reason, the excavation works were stalled and now the works have started as the Department has received the green signal for excavations from Archaeological Survey of India


Source: Star of Mysore [January 18, 2019]



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2,000-year-old coin workshop excavated in central China

Chinese archaeologists have discovered the relics of an ancient coin factory after a heavy bout of rain caused an area of ground to collapse.











2,000-year-old coin workshop excavated in central China
Archaeologists found fragments of ceramic coin moulds at the site when they were carrying out repairs after
heavy rain in late 2017 [Credit: Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology]

The large national mint, dating back over 2,000 years, was found at the end of 2017 in the city of Nanyang, central China’s Henan Province, experts said earlier this week.
The workshop produced coin moulds as well as two kinds of coins, and could prove valuable in the study of coin-making and the economic system of the period, said Bai Yunxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


“The ruins were uncovered by pouring rain,” said He Yujian, head of Nanyang cultural relics bureau.











2,000-year-old coin workshop excavated in central China
Coin moulds found at the site [Credit: Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology]

Archaeologists found fragments of pottery set as a coin mould and started the excavation accordingly.
Items unearthed include copper coins, copper smelting slags, pottery shards, animal bones, and a large amount of coin-mould pieces.


According to Yang Jun, a research fellow with China Numismatic Society, that two inscriptions on the moulds suggest they were used during the reign of Wang Mang, who established the short-lived Xin Dynasty (45 B.C.-A.D. 23).











2,000-year-old coin workshop excavated in central China
Coin moulds found at the site [Credit: Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology]

Wang was a powerful official in the Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 8) who launched a currency reform after seizing the throne.


Detection indicates the ruins cover 100,000 square meters, while only 75 square meters have been excavated. Experts believe the excavation area should be expanded.


Source: Xinhua [January 19, 2019]



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Siccar Point | #Geology #GeologyPage #Scotland Siccar Point is…


Siccar Point | #Geology #GeologyPage #Scotland


Siccar Point is a rocky promontory in the county of Berwickshire on the east coast of Scotland. It is famous in the history of geology for Hutton’s Unconformity found in 1788, which James Hutton regarded as conclusive proof of his uniformitarian theory of geological development.


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Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt’s Al-Amriyah

The Archaeological Mission of Alexandria Antiquities, which works at the Tuba Metwah site in Al-Amriyah, northern Cairo, uncovered a collection of artifacts dating back to the Greek and Roman eras.











Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, confirmed that this is a “unique discovery because the site was being used for industrial and commercial purposes.”


“One of the most important elements of the archaeological findings is a set of interconnected walls with clear construction and designing methods. Some walls were built with non-symmetrical stones, while others were built with carefully cut stones,” Waziri added.


Head of the Egyptian Antiquities Sector Ayman Ashmawy stated: “A large number of ovens were also discovered as separate units inside the walls, which have been rebuilt and renovated more than once.”


According to Ashmawy, most of these ovens were used to prepare food, as bird and fish bones were found inside. This large number of ovens indicates that this place was used as a service unit for militants or camps, he noted.


Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah

Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah

Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah










Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

During the first phase of excavation, a cemetery and a fountain were also found.


Head of the Central Department of the Effects of the Sea, Nadia Khedr said: “The discovered artifacts also include cooking utensils of different sizes, as well as large quantities of pottery vessels indicating that this area dates back to the first and second centuries BC.”


“We also discovered a number of lampstands featuring unique decorations, such as a crescent and a statue for god Serapis, along with a glass bottle that was probably used to store perfume, and a different set of bronze coins that are being processed and investigated,” she added.


Director General of Alexandria Antiquities and Head of the mission, Khaled Abul Hamd, said: “Among the discoveries were two corpses, one of which was of a middle-aged woman wearing a copper ring.”


Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah

Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah

Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah










Graeco-Roman industrial site, graves found in Egypt's Al-Amriyah
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

The bodies were found next to a wall and close to a used oven. The place might have been used by the poor to bury their dead, after it had been abandoned,” he added.


And from Alexandria to the north, to the new Valley of the South, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities also announced the discovery of gold coins dating back to the Byzantine era, in the region of Ain Sabil in Dakhla in the New Valley governorate (southwest of Cairo).


“The coins date back to the rule of Byzantine Emperor Constantine II, who lived between 317 and 361 AD. The empire took over from 337 to 361,” said Dr. Jamal Mustafa, head of the Islamic, Coptic, and Jewish Antiquities Department in the ministry.


Mustafa added that “each of these coins has two faces, the first features a picture of the emperor in different positions, surrounded by some words including his name, while the others feature some drawings and writings that indicate the coin’s minting date.”


Kamil Bayoumi Ahmed, head of the Archaeological Mission and director general of Dakhla Antiquities in the Islamic Antiquities Sector, said: “The pottery and its content were transferred to the region’s warehouse. The first restoration and archaeological documentation of coins was carried out and more studies are being conducted to uncover more information about that important period.”


Source: Asharq Al-Awsat [January 19, 2019]



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Levant’s transition to Islamic rule was gradual for majority of population

The transition from the Byzantine to Early Islamic period was drastic when looks at only historical literary sources, claimed a French scholar from the University of Paris-Panthéon-Sorbonne.











Levant’s transition to Islamic rule was gradual for majority of population
Umayyad house in Jerash [Credit: ACOR]

“After a short-lived Sassanid occupation of the Levant from 614-628AD, the conquest by Islamic armies remained a shock for savants. For instance, a handful of chroniclers interpreted the failure of the Byzantine Empire to control their territory as the waning of their golden age,” Apolline Vernet said.


Vernet added that from a top-down viewpoint, the battle of Yarmouk was a significant moment in breaking Byzantine dominion over the Levant.


Gradual change


However, the gradual establishment of the new Islamic ruling-system is a tangled and complex narrative, she continued, noting that the first decades of the Islamic state in the Near East are punctuated by both back-and-forth battles along the frontier areas of the empire and civil war.


“During the reign of Muawiya Ibn Abu Sufyan, he tried to calm tensions between ruling factions to some degree, but the new administrative shift is mostly attributed to the Caliph Abdel Malik Ibn Marwan,” Vernet said.


Marwan, who ruled between 685 and 705 AD, introduced reforms that standardised Islamic administrative practices and solidified Arabic as the official administrative language. He also ordered inscribed milestones to be placed on the main roads within the territory.


From the bottom-up viewpoint, recent studies have emphasised the resilience of local inhabitants — or their ability to compromise with the new socioeconomic and political realities, the scholar explained.


The governor of a province had military, administrative and fiscal duties, but he was also responsible for the inhabitants’ environment by maintaining and improving civil works and public facilities, she underlined.


“The relationship between the governor and the local population would have been quite close, as suggested by contemporary Egyptian papyri and recent studies”, Vernet pointed out.


In general, the shift from Byzantine to Islamic rule was a step-by-step process over the course of the 7th-8th centuries AD — rather than one explosive event. “It echoes in the archaeological remains that show no evidence of societal collapse or destruction of sites in the Near East.”


Decapolis during transition


When it came to the established sites in the area such as the Decapolis, they did not face abrupt change following the Islamic conquest, Vernet explained.


“Nonetheless, the integration of the new Muslim population and practices can be discerned by archaeology through different means.”


Vernet claimed that the congregational mosque was the focal point for urban Muslim communities and would have been constructed in most of cities during the Umayyad period.


The scholar added that the most remarkable one in Jordan is the mosque located in the ancient city centre of Jerash.


“Another aspect to the city’s transformation during the first years of Islam was the increase of pottery workshops and kilns within the city,” Vernet said, noting that the ceramics produced were sold locally in the various shops near the mosque, but were also sent abroad to marketplaces in other regional cities.


However, in the case of Pella, in north-western Jordan, the scholar said that “no mosque from the Umayyad period has been recorded yet — not even a palatial centre”.


Nevertheless, several houses discovered on the hill can attest to the continuity of daily life during the transition from Byzantine to Umayyad rule, she underlined.


A study of Pella’s artefacts, some of which, along with their owners, were sealed away by an earthquake in 750AD, showed that new decorations and shapes were used for tableware after the conquest.


Vernet said there is no indication Pella’s inhabitants converted to Islam, and instead seemed to be wealthy merchants living under Umayyad rule.


Seized in 634 or 635, the ancient city of Amman kept its former status as a prominent city during the Umayyad period, she said, adding that the only evidence for this period in the lower city is a mosque, which is no longer visible.


“In contrast, the citadel was renovated to accommodate the regional administration of the province,” the French researcher said, adding that in addition to a palace, cistern, market and a mosque, archaeologists also uncovered a residential quarter.


These three cities show the wide range of both continuity and transformation that affected Byzantine cities after the Islamic conquest. Even if the preexisting structures are still standing, new trends appeared in economic, administrative and everyday life.


‘Oriental house’


The “the oriental house”, or “central courtyard house” is a type of structure that dates back to prehistoric times, and was constructed for centuries from northern Syria through Arabian Peninsula, Vernet said.


“It suits the requirements of the warm climate with a simple but effective plan: the living rooms surround the courtyard, where shade can be easily made with a piece of fabric in a corner, a tree or a peristyle,” she noted, saying that the “central courtyard house” was very common during Byzantine and Islamic rule.


Nevertheless, one has to note that this type of plan was widely constructed in the aristocratic castles and newly-founded cities during the Umayyad period, Vernet said.


“The plan would serve as a dwelling unit in the aristocratic complex… and it could be used as an apartment to house the family of an official,” the archaeologist underlined.


Moreover, the Islamic period introduced a systematic room pattern, which could be extended from the small “proto-bayt” (a central room leading to two side rooms), to the large “Syrian-bayt” (a rectangular central room leading to two sets of side rooms), Vernet said.


“Both examples are found at the citadel of Amman… Those rooms could have been used for banqueting purposes or to welcome special guests into the house,” she emphasised.


Vernet said that even though the Islamic period in the region was embedded with an ancient foundation, “the study of housing practices highlights new living habits and customs introduced by newcomers following the Islamic conquest”.


Author: Saeb Rawashdeh | Source: The Jordan Times [January 19, 2019]



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Archaeologists discover a rare type of evidence for prehistoric salmon fishing in...

An international team of archaeologists identified remains of salmon bones through a novel approach at the Stone Age village of Kierikinkangas in Finland.











Archaeologists discover a rare type of evidence for prehistoric salmon fishing in Northern Finland
The whitlockite mineral was discovered in hearth sediments from the 5,600 year old Yli-Ii Kierikinkangas site
 on the Iijoki River in northern Finland [Credit: University of Haifa]

Salmon fisheries are thriving industries in many places across the north, and they have been so for hundreds of years, judging from historical sources. The antiquity of this readily available nutrition source is however much less known because salmon bones – the evidence used by archaeologists to tell that these fish were part of past human diet – are very rare in northern areas.
In the whole of Finland, for example, out of thousands of Stone Age (dating 10,500–3,500 years ago) settlements, many of which were established  along rivers once rich in seasonally migrating salmon, only six bones were identified in over 100 years of archaeological exploration. This situation is about to change, a new study published in Scientific Reports shows.


The team of archaeologists discovered the first evidence for salmon fishing of this site through the presence of a unique mineral that forms upon combustion in the bones of migratory salmon. This mineral, containing magnesium and phosphorous, was first identified in the Laboratory for Sedimentary Archaeology at the University of Haifa, headed by Ruth Shahack-Gross, following a detailed experimental study by Don Butler, who specializes in micro-archaeology. Seeing the potential of utilizing this rare and unique mineral to advance archaeological and environmental knowledge in northern areas, the Israeli researchers partnered with Satu Koivisto of the University of Helsinki, an expert of Finnish Stone Age archaeology.











Archaeologists discover a rare type of evidence for prehistoric salmon fishing in Northern Finland
Whitlockite and beta magnesium tricalcium phosphate minerals are documented in the infrared spectra
of archaeological Atlantic salmon bone [Credit: University of Haifa]

Koivisto and Butler worked with the Kierikki Stone Age Centre to excavate a fireplace inside an ancient pit-house at Kierikinkangas that included numerous tiny unidentifiable bone fragments,  and together with three of the six salmon bones found across Finnish archaeology, all were analyzed back  at the Laboratory for Sedimentary Archaeology in Israel.
Butler explains, “Our extensive testing of animal bones confirmed that the mineral discovered in the Kierikinkangas fireplace is the result of burning salmon bone wastes”. “With this new method, we have finally found direct evidence of the early utilization of salmon resources up north in the Stone Age,” adds Koivisto.


Shahack-Gross emphasizes, “This new finding exemplifies the strength of interdisciplinary research, as we provide here new analytical tools that are based in the natural sciences to advance archaeology”. Beyond analytics, this discovery provides brand new insights into the livelihoods of these people and the times of the year they lived at the site. The new identification of salmon utilization suggests a broader use of the estuary resource base and provides additional support for year-round occupations. “This new method opens entirely new avenues into the utilization of soil in the study of prehistoric livelihoods and diet in areas where bone materials degrade rapidly”, summarizes Butler.


Source: University of Helsinki [January 19, 2019]



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Six tombs dating back to the Old Kingdom uncovered in Aswan

The British Archaeological Mission of the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society, working on the Qubbet el-Hawa project in Aswan succeeded in uncovering six tombs of different sizes dating back to the Old Kingdom.











Six tombs dating back to the Old Kingdom uncovered in Aswan
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of  Antiquities, said that the discovered tombs’ dimensions range from 1.90×2.85m to 3.52×6.35m. Two of them have an entrance carved into the rock, one a complete entrance, which is closed with stones, and an entrance to its burial chamber, carefully enclosed by a brick wall. However, it was looted in ancient times by thieves who broke the back wall to it.











Six tombs dating back to the Old Kingdom uncovered in Aswan
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

Prof. Martin Bommas, project director and director of the Museum of Ancient Cultures at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, said that a fragment of a funerary mask and a small metal amulet showing  god Khnum, were also found inside a tomb.











Six tombs dating back to the Old Kingdom uncovered in Aswan
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities

Also found were a large quantity of pottery, which dates back to the late era. Abdul Moneim Said, Director General of the Aswan Antiquities, said that all the finds discovered were transferred to the storehouse in Aswan.


Source: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities [January 20, 2019]



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