понедельник, 22 апреля 2019 г.

Prehistoric Bronze Chariot Fittings, St Fagans National Museum, Cardiff, 14.4.19.







Prehistoric Bronze Chariot Fittings, St Fagans National Museum, Cardiff, 14.4.19.


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Rebuilding Notre Dame will be long, fraught and expensive

Notre Dame in Paris is not the first great cathedral to suffer a devastating fire, and it probably won’t be the last.











Rebuilding Notre Dame will be long, fraught and expensive
An aerial shot of the fire damage to Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Tuesday April 16. Nearly $1 billion has
already poured in from ordinary worshippers and high-powered magnates around the world to restore
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after it was damaged in a massive fire on Monday
[Credit: Gigarama.ru via AP]

In a sense, that is good news. A global army of experts and craftspeople can be called on for the long, complex process of restoring the gutted landmark.


The work will face substantial challenges — starting immediately, with the urgent need to protect the inside of the 850-year-old cathedral from the elements, after its timber-beamed roof was consumed by flames .


The first priority is to put up a temporary metal or plastic roof to stop rain from getting in. Then, engineers and architects will begin to assess the damage.


Fortunately, Notre Dame is a thoroughly documented building. Over the years, historians and archaeologists have made exhaustive plans and images, including minutely detailed, 3-D laser-scanned re-creations of the interior.











Rebuilding Notre Dame will be long, fraught and expensive
Interior view of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in the aftermath of a fire
that devastated the cathedral [Credit: AFP/Getty Images]

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of the conservation organization Historic England, said Tuesday that the cathedral will need to be made secure without disturbing the debris scattered inside, which may provide valuable information — and material — for restorers.


“The second challenge is actually salvaging the material,” he said. “Some of that material may be reusable, and that’s a painstaking exercise. It’s like an archaeological excavation.”


Despite fears at the height of the inferno that the whole cathedral would be lost, the structure appears intact. Its two rectangular towers still jut into the Paris skyline, and the great stone vault stands atop heavy walls supported by massive flying buttresses. An edifice built to last an eternity withstood its greatest test.


Tom Nickson, a senior lecturer in medieval art and architecture at London’s Courtauld Institute, said the stone vault “acted as a kind of fire door between the highly flammable roof and the highly flammable interior” — just as the cathedral’s medieval builders intended.











Rebuilding Notre Dame will be long, fraught and expensive
Debris inside the damaged Notre Dame cathedral in Paris
[Credit: Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP]

Now, careful checks will be needed to determine whether the stones of the vaulted ceiling have been weakened and cracked by the heat. If so, the whole vault may need to be torn down and re-erected.


The cathedral’s exquisite stained-glass rose windows appear intact but are probably suffering “thermal shock” from intense heat followed by cold water, said Jenny Alexander, an expert on medieval art and architecture at the University of Warwick. That means the glass, set in lead, could have sagged or been weakened and will need minute examination.


Once the building has been stabilized and the damage assessed, restoration work can begin. It’s likely to be an international effort.


“Structural engineers, stained-glass experts, stone experts are all going to be packing their bags and heading for Paris in the next few weeks,” Alexander said.











Rebuilding Notre Dame will be long, fraught and expensive
A hole is seen in the dome inside the damaged Notre Dame cathedral [Credit: Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP]

One big decision will be whether to preserve the cathedral just as it was before the fire, or to take a more creative approach.


It’s not always a straightforward choice. Notre Dame’s spire, destroyed in Monday’s blaze, was added to the Gothic cathedral during 19th-century renovations. Should it be rebuilt as it was, or replaced with a new design for the 21st century?


Financial and political considerations, as well as aesthetic ones, are likely to play a part in the decision.


Getting materials may also be a challenge. The cathedral roof was made from oak beams cut from centuries-old trees. Even in the 13th century, they were hard to come by. Nickson said there is probably no country in Europe with big enough trees today.


Alternatives could include a different type of structure made from smaller beams, or even a metal roof — though that would be unpopular with purists.











Rebuilding Notre Dame will be long, fraught and expensive
A firefighter walks along Notre-Dame-de Paris [Credit: AFP/Getty Images]

The restored building will have to reflect modern-day health and safety standards. But Eric Salmon, a former site manager at the Paris cathedral, said it is impossible to eliminate all risk.


“It is like a street accident. It can happen anywhere, anytime,” said Salmon, who now serves as technical director at the Notre Dame cathedral in Strasbourg, France.


The roof of Strasbourg’s Notre Dame was set ablaze during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. It took up to five years to restore the wooden structure. Nowadays the roof is split into three fire-resistant sections to make sure one blaze can’t destroy it all. Smoke detectors are at regular intervals.


Still, Salmon said that what worked in Strasbourg may not be suitable for Paris. Each cathedral is unique.


“We are not going to modify an historic monument to respect the rules. The rules have to be adapted to the building,” he said.



Experts agree the project will take years, if not decades. Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization, said restoring Notre Dame “will last a long time and cost a lot of money.” A government appeal for funds has already raised hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) from French businesses.


But few doubt that Notre Dame will rise again.


“Cathedrals are stone phoenixes — reminders that out of adversity we may be reborn,” said Emma Wells, a buildings archaeologist at the University of York.


“The silver lining, if we can call it that, is this allows for historians and archaeologists to come in and uncover more of its history than we ever knew before. It is a palimpsest of layers of history, and we can come in and understand the craft of our medieval forebears.”


Authors: Jill Lawless & Raf Casert | Source: Associated Press [April 17, 2019]



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Italian team to partially restore Persepolis

A team of Italian archaeologists and restorers is scheduled to partially rehabilitate some ruined monuments and bas-relief carvings in Persepolis, which was once the ceremonial capital of the mighty Achaemenid Empire.











Italian team to partially restore Persepolis
Ruins of the Gate of All Nations, Persepolis
[Credit: Alborzagros/WikiCommons]

The team is associated with the foundation “Archaeology Without Borders”, which supports archaeological education and training in developing countries and helps to strength regional networks of students in archaeology.


The restoration project is set to be conducted from April 27 to June 7 based on an agreement Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization had reached with the foundation, IRNA reported.


The open-air stone works of Persepolis are threatened by spreading lichens due to periodic moisture that many experts believe are impossible to completely eradicate.


A UNESCO World Heritage site, Persepolis lies just only an hour’s drive from north-east of Shiraz, itself a major tourist destination of the country.


Persepolis boasts extensive structures, including monumental staircases, exquisite reliefs and imposing gateways as one of the great wonders of the ancient world.


Source: Tehran Times [April 17, 2019]



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Rare gold coin Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II found by students in northern Israel

1,600 years after the edict of the Emperor Theodosius II led to the abolishment of the post of the ‘Nasi,’ the Head of the Sanhedrin, school pupils found a rare piece of evidence reflecting this dramatic moment in Jewish history.











Rare gold coin Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II found by students in northern Israel
The gold coin bearing the Image of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II
[Credit: IAA/Nir Distelfeld]

In February 2019, four ninth grade students from the Haemeq Hamaaravi High School in Kibbutz Yifat in the Jezreel valley were orienteering in the fields alongside the Zippori stream in the Galilee, adjacent to the Sanhedrin Trail, when they spotted a gold coin on the ground. The four pupils, Ido Kadosh, Ofir Sigal, Dotan Miller and Harel Grin, realized immediately that this was a significant find, and they reported it to their geography and history teacher Zohar Porshyan, who contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority​ .
The pupils handed the coin to Nir Distelfeld, the IAA anti-theft inspector, and showed him the spot in the field where the found had been made. Distelfeld awarded the boys certificates for their good citizenship, saying, “It is uncommon to find single gold coins as they were very valuable, and people took care not to lose them. I commend the pupils and their teacher for their good citizenship.”


IAA numismatic expert Dr. Gabriela Bijovsky explained the coin, “The gold coin is a solidus minted by the emperor Theodosius II in Constantinople (now Istanbul) around 420–423 CE. Similar coins are known from the Eastern Byzantine empire, but this is the first of its type discovered in Israel. One side depicts the image of the emperor and the other shows the image of the Goddess Victory holding the Staff of the Cross.”











Rare gold coin Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II found by students in northern Israel
The reverse of the coin bearing the image of the Goddess Victoria holding the Staff of the Cross
[Credit: IAA/Nir Distelfeld]

Theodosius II was one of the most influential emperors of the Byzantine Empire, compiling an Imperial Code of Laws, designated the ‘Codex Theodosius’.
According to Yair Amitzur, IAA chief archaeologist of the Sanhedrin Trail, “The emperor Theodosius II abolished the post of the ‘Nasi’, the Head of the Sanhedrin Council, and decreed that the Jews’ financial contributions to the Sanhedrin be transferred to the Imperial Treasury.”


Amitzur continues, “The Sanhedrin Trail initiated by the IAA, tells the story of the Jewish leadership in the Galilee at the time of the Mishna and the Talmud in the Roman and Byzantine periods. It is symbolic that the gold coin discovered adjacent to the Sanhedrin trail reflects the period of dramatic events when the Sanhedrin ceased to function in the Galilee, and the centre of Jewish life transferred from the Galilee to Babylon.”


Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs [April 17, 2019]



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Bronze Age cremation burials unearthed in Slovakia

Slovakian archaeologists have uncovered 17 Bronze Age cremation graves attributed to the Piliny culture (part of the urnfield culture) dating from between 1300 to 700 BC during an ongoing rescue dig on Daxner Street in Rimavská Sobota, the TASR newswire reported.











Bronze Age cremation burials unearthed in Slovakia
Credit: Branislav Caban, TASR

Archaeologist of the local Gemersko-Malohontské Museum (GMM), Alexander Botoš, said that the graves are part of a burial site where people were interred in the Bronze Age for 700 to 800 years.
The site hosts the ongoing extension of the townhouse that will be rebuilt as a primary school. The rescue research was ordered because in 2016, the cremation burial site from the Piliny and Kyjatice culture with 53 graves was uncovered at a neighbouring estate, said Botoš.











Bronze Age cremation burials unearthed in Slovakia
Credit: Branislav Caban, TASR

He added that workers are now cleaning the cremation graves and then they will be documented and moved to GMM, where they will be restored to original conditions. It is possible that they will find some Bronze jewellery, said the archaeologist.
The burial site belongs to a settlement that is documented by several researchers. It is partly covered with the middle-age historical core of Rimavská Sobota. For many years it was assumed that there must be a burial site somewhere nearby, but it was discovered only in 2016, summed up Botoš.


Source: The Slovak Spectator [April 17, 2019]



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R1b-M269 in the Bronze Age Levant (?)

The new Harvard genotype dataset that I blogged about recently includes a couple of potentially very useful samples from the Levant dated to 1400-1100 BCE. Search for IDs I2062 and I1934 in the anno files here. They’re both from an archeological paper about a Late Middle Bronze Age (LMBA) burial site in what is now Israel that was published back in 2017 (here).
Surprisingly, individual I2062 is listed in the anno files as belonging to Y-haplogroup R1b1a1a2, which is also known as R1b-M269. The reason that this is a surprise to me is because R1b-M269 is closely associated with the Bronze Age expansions of pastoralists from the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe, and these expansions didn’t impact the Levant in any direct or significant way.
The Y-haplogroup assignment may or may not be correct. Sometimes the Y-haplogroups in these sorts of datasheets are indeed wrong. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the BAM file for I2062 isn’t available anywhere online, so I can’t check whether he does really belong to R1b-M269. But, intriguingly, his autosomes do show a subtle signal of Yamnaya-related ancestry from the Pontic-Caspian steppe that is missing in earlier ancients from the Levant.
To characterize his genome-wide ancestry, I first ran a series of unsupervised and supervised analyses with the Global25/nMonte3 method (using this datasheet). For the sake of simplicity, I narrowed things down to the mixture models below based on three reference populations each. Levant_ISR_C is made up of Chalcolithic samples from Israel. The identities of the other reference sets should be obvious to most readers. If confused, feel free to ask for more details in the comments below.



Levant_ISR_MLBA:I2062
Levant_ISR_C,66.8
IRN_Seh_Gabi_C,27
Yamnaya_RUS_Samara,6.2

[1] distance%=1.8905
Levant_ISR_MLBA:I2062
Levant_ISR_C,66.2
Kura-Araxes_ARM_Kaps,30.2
Yamnaya_RUS_Samara,3.6

[1] distance%=2.0856
Levant_ISR_MLBA:I2062
Levant_ISR_C,67.8
Kura-Araxes_RUS_Velikent,31.8
Yamnaya_RUS_Samara,0.4

[1] distance%=2.1738



To further confirm the reliability of my models, I tested them with the formal statistics-based qpAdm software. As far as I can tell, the output returned by qpAdm looks very solid across the board.



Levant_ISR_MLBA_I2062
IRN_Seh_Gabi_C 0.193±0.052
Levant_ISR_C 0.710±0.038
Yamnaya_RUS_Samara 0.098±0.026

chisq 9.304
tail prob 0.67676
Full output
Levant_ISR_MLBA_I2062
Kura-Araxes_ARM_Kaps 0.249±0.076
Levant_ISR_C 0.681±0.051
Yamnaya_RUS_Samara 0.071±0.035

chisq 11.101
tail prob 0.52032
Full output
Levant_ISR_MLBA_I2062
Levant_ISR_C 0.661±0.042
Kura-Araxes_RUS_Velikent 0.339±0.042

chisq 7.979
tail prob 0.844942
Full output



Admittedly, even though I2062 can be modeled with Yamnaya-related admixture, he doesn’t need to be. Indeed, his ratio of this type of ancestry varies signifcantly between the models, from around 10% to nothing. This appears to be dependent on the geography of the non-Levant and non-Yamnaya reference populations; the closer that they are to the Pontic-Caspian steppe, the smaller the ratio of Yamnaya-related ancestry in I2062. I’d describe this as an artifact of the isolation-by-distance phenomenon, and it totally makese sense, but it prevents me from confirming beyond any doubt that I2062 does harbor genome-wide steppe ancestry. Unfortunately, individual I1934 doesn’t have enough data to be analyzed with the same methods.
By the way, what’s the chance that I2062 is an awesome proxy for the earliest Jews? I reckon it’s pretty good, considering that Samaritans from Israel are his closest present-day population in terms of genome-wide affinity. Who wants to test this theory with the Global25? If I see some good stuff in the comments I’ll post it here in an update.
See also…
Downloadable genotypes of present-day and ancient DNA data
Early chariot riders of Transcaucasia came from…
R-V1636: Eneolithic steppe > Kura-Araxes?

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2019 April 22 Mars Methane Mystery Deepens Video Credit:…


2019 April 22


Mars Methane Mystery Deepens
Video Credit: NASA’s GSFC, Scientific Visualization Studio


Explanation: The methane mystery on Mars just got stranger. New results from ESA and RoscosmosExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, has unexpectedly not detected methane in the atmosphere of Mars. This result follows the 2013 detection of methane by NASA’s Curiosity rover, a result seemingly confirmed by ESA’s orbiting Mars Express the next day. The issue is so interesting because life is a major producer of methane on Earth, leading to intriguing speculation that some sort of life – possibly microbial life – is creating methane beneath the surface of Mars. Non-biological sources of methane are also possible. Pictured is a visualization of the first claimed methane plume over Mars as detected from Earth in 2003. The new non-detection of methane by the ExoMars Orbiter could mean that Mars has some unexpected way of destroying methane, or that only some parts of Mars release methane – and possibly only at certain times. As the mystery has now deepened, humanity’s scrutiny of our neighboring planet’s atmosphere will deepen as well.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190422.html


A Surprising Surge at Vavilov Ice CapAfter moving quite slowly…


A Surprising Surge at Vavilov Ice Cap


After moving quite slowly for decades, the outlet glacier of Vavilov Ice Cap began sliding dozens of times faster than is typical. The ice moved fast enough for the fan-shaped edge of the glacier to protrude from an ice cap on October Revolution Island and spread widely across the Kara Sea. The Landsat images above were acquired on July 1, 2013, June 18, 2015, and June 24, 2018, respectively.


“The fact that an apparently stable, cold-based glacier suddenly went from moving 20 meters per year to 20 meters per day was extremely unusual, perhaps unprecedented,” said University of Colorado Boulder glaciologist Michael Willis. “The numbers here are simply nuts. Before this happened, as far as I knew, cold-based glaciers simply didn’t do that…couldn’t do that.”


Willis and his colleagues are still piecing together what triggered such a dramatic surge. They suspect that marine sediments immediately offshore are unusually slippery, perhaps containing clay. Also, water must have somehow found its way under the land-based part of the glacier, reducing friction and priming the ice to slide.


Full story here: go.nasa.gov/2Z931lc


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