понедельник, 1 июля 2019 г.

Hubble Captures Cosmic Fireworks in Ultraviolet


ESA — Hubble Space Telescope logo.


1 July 2019



Cosmic Fireworks in Ultraviolet

Hubble offers a special view of the double star system Eta Carinae’s expanding gases glowing in red, white, and blue. This is the highest resolution image of Eta Carinae taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.


Imagine slow-motion fireworks that started exploding nearly two centuries ago and haven’t stopped since then. This is how you might describe this double star system located 7500 light-years away in the constellation Carina (The Ship’s Keel). In 1838 Eta Carinae underwent a cataclysmic outburst called the Great Eruption, quickly escalating to become in 1844 the second brightest star in the sky by April of that year. The star has since faded, but this new view from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows that the spectacular display is still ongoing, and reveals details that have never been seen before.



3D Image of Eta Carinae

Violent mass ejections are not uncommon in Eta Carinae’s history; the system has been blighted by chaotic eruptions, often blasting parts of itself into space But the Great Eruption was particularly dramatic. The larger of the two stars is a massive, unstable star nearing the end of its life, and what astronomers witnessed over a century and a half ago was, in fact, a stellar near-death experience.


The resulting surge of light was outshone only by Sirius, which is almost one thousand times closer to Earth, and for a time made Eta Carinae an important navigation star for mariners in the southern seas. This close call stopped just short of destroying Eta Carinae, and the light intensity gradually subsided. Researchers studying the star today can still see the signature of the Great Eruption on its surroundings; the huge dumbbell shape is formed of the dust and gas and other filaments that were hurled into space in the expulsion. These hot glowing clouds are known as the Homunculus Nebula, and have been a target of Hubble since its launch in 1990.



Zoom on Eta Carinae

In fact, the volatile star has been imaged by almost every instrument on Hubble over more than 25 years. Astronomers have observed the cosmic drama play out in ever higher resolution. This latest image was created using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to map warm magnesium gas glowing in ultraviolet light (shown in blue).


Scientists have long known that the outer material thrown off in the 1840s eruption has been heated by shock waves generated when it crashed into material previously ejected from the star . The team who captured this new image were expecting to find light from magnesium coming from the complicated array of filaments seen in the light from glowing nitrogen (shown in red). Instead, a whole new luminous magnesium structure was found in the space between the dusty bipolar bubbles and the outer shock-heated nitrogen-rich filaments.


“We’ve discovered a large amount of warm gas that was ejected in the Great Eruption but hasn’t yet collided with the other material surrounding Eta Carinae,” explained Nathan Smith of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, lead investigator of the Hubble programme. “Most of the emission is located where we expected to find an empty cavity. This extra material is fast, and it ‘ups the ante’ in terms of the total energy of an already powerful stellar blast.”



Pan over Eta Carinae

This newly revealed data is important for understanding how the eruption began, because it represents the fast and energetic ejection of material that may have been expelled by the star shortly before the expulsion of the rest of the nebula. Astronomers need more observations to measure exactly how fast the material is moving and when it was ejected.


Another striking feature of the image is the streaks visible in the blue region outside the lower-left bubble. These streaks appear where the star’s light rays poke through the dust clumps scattered along the bubble’s surface. Wherever the ultraviolet light strikes the dense dust, it leaves a long thin shadow that extends beyond the lobe into the surrounding gas. “The pattern of light and shadow is reminiscent of sunbeams that we see in our atmosphere when sunlight streams past the edge of a cloud, though the physical mechanism creating Eta Carinae’s light is different,” noted team member Jon Morse of BoldlyGo Institute in New York.


This technique of searching in ultraviolet light for warm gas could be used to study other stars and gaseous nebulae, the researchers say.



Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

“We had used Hubble for decades to study Eta Carinae in visible and infrared light, and we thought we had a pretty full account of its ejected debris. But this new ultraviolet-light image looks astonishingly different, revealing gas we did not see in either visible-light or infrared images,” Smith said. “We’re excited by the prospect that this type of ultraviolet magnesium emission may also expose previously hidden gas in other types of objects that eject material, such as protostars or other dying stars; and only Hubble can take these kinds of pictures”.


The causes of Eta Carinae’s Great Eruption remain the subject of speculation and debate. A recent theory suggests that Eta Carinae, which may once have weighed as much as 150 Suns, started out as a triple system, and the 1840s mass ejection was triggered when the primary star devoured one of its companions, rocketing more than ten times the mass of our Sun into space. While the exact circumstances of that show-stopping burst of light remain a mystery for now, astronomers are more certain of how this cosmic light show will conclude. Eta Carinae’s fireworks display is fated to reach its finale when it explodes as a supernova, greatly surpassing even its last powerful outburst. This may already have happened, but the tsunami of light from such a blinding blast would take 7500 years to reach Earth.
More information


The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.


Links:


Hubblecast 122 Light: The Evolution of Eta Carinae: https://www.spacetelescope.org/videos/heic1912a/


Images of Hubble: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/archive/category/spacecraft/


Hubblesite release: https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2019/news-2019-18


Previous images of Eta Carinae from the Hubble Space Telescope:


http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo9623a/


https://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1208a/


http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo9409a/


http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo9110a/


Hubble Space Telescope (HST): https://www.spacetelescope.org/


Images, Animation, Text, Credits: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona, Tucson), and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute, New York)/Jon Morse (University of Colorado), Kris Davidson (University of Minnesota), and NASA/ESA/Videos Credits: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona, Tucson), and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute, New York), L. Calcada, Risinger (skysurvey.org).


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Safe Construction It might not feel like it, but right now…


Safe Construction


It might not feel like it, but right now millions of your cells are frantically multiplying. As your body grows, repairs damage, and naturally refreshes material, cells duplicate their contents then split into two identical versions. Precisely copying DNA – the molecular code of life wound into tiny chromosomes in each cell – is crucial to this process. This is in part governed by centrioles – structures that help produce guiding fibres. Certain details of how centrioles form and function are still unknown, and a new study has found that one particular enzyme, PLK4, helps assemble centrioles by interacting with a protein called STIL. If this interaction is disturbed, too many centrioles (green in these two overloaded replicating fly cells, with DNA in blue), or too few, were produced by cells. Malfunctioning centrioles can lead to brain disorders and cancer. The better we understand their construction, the sooner we’ll be able to develop new treatments.


Written by Anthony Lewis



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X-ray emission from Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium




The Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium contributes substantially to the matter budget in the Universe – but it is only poorly studied, as it is very difficult to observe. Researchers at MPA have now predicted how it can be explored using heavier elements as tracers. Due to scattering of the cosmic X-ray background some of this line emission can be boosted substantially and should be accessible by the upcoming X-ray survey missions.


Half of the baryonic budget in the present-day Universe is very well hidden – astronomers believe it can be found in the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium, which is as abundant and imperceptible as the nitrogen in the air we breathe. Being produced naturally by the ongoing formation of the largest structures in the Universe, this gas has a temperature between 100,000 and 1 million Kelvin and its density exceeds the mean baryonic density by less than a factor of 100. The high temperature of this gas implies that hydrogen and helium should be almost fully ionized and, as a consequence, it cannot be revealed via the Lyman alpha absorption features in the spectra of background quasars (contrary to the high-redshift intergalactic medium, which is readily detected in this way). It is also difficult to observe this gas directly, since its thermal emission is very faint (due to its low density) and also happens to peak in the observationally-challenging extreme UV/soft X-ray energy range.



Figure 2. Three main signatures (middle) of a layer of the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium (left) in X-rays: it is seen in intrinsically produced X-ray emission (E, top), resonant absorption in the spectra of bright background sources (A, middle), and resonant scattering of the isotropic cosmic X-ray background emission (S, bottom).



Fortunately, the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium is enriched by heavier elements (such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, neon and iron) expelled from the star-forming galaxies by powerful galactic-scale outflows (as hinted e.g. by cosmological hydro-simulations, see Fig.1). Having escaped full ionization, atoms of heavy elements produce numerous emission lines and resonant absorption features. For a low density gas, such as the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium, the absorption features are particularly important, since their amplitude is proportional to the total number of ions on the line-of-sight, so it scales linearly with the gas number density. While a large amount of observing time has already been invested in searches for the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium by this technique (taking advantage of high resolution grating spectrometers on board the Chandra and XMM-Newton X-ray observatories), only marginal detections have been reported so far.


In fact, these absorption features are a result of resonant scattering, which is not a true absorption process by itself. Indeed, the intensity lost in the direction of the bright background sources is compensated by increased intensity in all other directions (see Fig. 2). The net effect of course cancels out after integrating over all directions in the case of an isotropic radiation field, such as the Cosmic X-ray Background. Nonetheless, a large portion of this background is contributed by bright individual sources (mainly Active Galactic Nuclei), which can be resolved and excluded from a given aperture. The remaining signal will then contain both the unresolved part of the background radiation (with similar absorption features as in resolved part) plus the spatially-extended resonantly-scattered background radiation. This emission is heavily dominated by the brightest resonance lines and supplements the intrinsic thermal emission from a slab of Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium, boosting its overall X-ray emissivity and changing important spectral characteristics such as the equivalent widths of the lines and their respective ratios.


Recently, MPA scientists performed calculations of the X-ray emission from a layer of Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium that take into account photoionization by the Cosmic X-ray Background and allow self-consistent inclusion of the resonantly scattered line emission (see Fig.3). The overall boost of emission in the most prominent resonant lines (O VII, O VIII and Ne IX) was found to equal ~30, and this boost is pretty much uniform across almost the whole region of the density-temperature diagram relevant for the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium. Even after averaging over broader spectral bands, the boost factor remains very significant (~5) but declines steeply at temperatures above T~1 million K (for all considered densities) and at over-densities > 100, as demonstrated in Fig.4 for the 0.5-1 keV band. The predicted total emission in this band is predicted to be dominated by the resonant lines of the helium- and hydrogen-like oxygen, which have comparable intensity for the major part of the explored parameter space.




Figure 4. Ratio of scattered to intrinsic X-ray emission integrated over 0.5-1 keV energy band as a function of number density and temperature of the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium. The black dashed contours indicate the ionization fraction of He-like oxygen weighted with the mass and mean metallicity of the corresponding gas portion extracted from the Magneticum simulation snapshot at z~0. The black solid triangle and square connected by a dotted line mark the parameters of typical sheet-like and filament-like structures. © MPA



A significant detection of a layer of Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium (at a redshift ~0.1) in emission might be achieved by an X-ray instrument with an effective area of about 1000 cm^2 (at 0.5-1 keV) with a exposure on the order of 1 million seconds over one square degree of the sky – taking into account contamination by the unresolved cosmic X-ray background and the Galactic diffuse soft X-ray foreground. These requirements might already be met with a single observation by the eROSITA telescope onboard of the forthcoming SRG mission.


Future X-ray missions will indeed provide great opportunities to study the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium, both with large-area X-ray surveys and with deep small-area observations with X-ray calorimeters. For the former, the signal can be detected by a cross-correlation of the stacked (absorption and emission) X-ray signal with certain tracers of overdensities in the large-scale structure (e.g. 2MASS galaxies), while for the latter detection (and potentially diagnostics) of prominent individual filaments at z~0.1 is the primary goal.





Author


Khabibullin, Ildar
Postdoc
Phone: 2236
Email: ildar@mpa-garching.mpg.de
Room: 109


Churazov, Eugene
Scientific Staff
Phone: 2219
Email: echurazov@mpa-garching.mpg.de
Room: 225



Original publication


1. Khabibullin, I.; Churazov, E.


X-ray emission from warm-hot intergalactic medium: the role of resonantly scattered cosmic X-ray background 2019, MNRAS, Volume 482, Issue 4, p. 4972-4984

Source / DOI



More Information


Spectral model


The calculated spectral model suitable for use in numerical simulations and data analysis (along with the extracted scattered-to-intrinsic emissivity ratios and other data) is available here.

Magneticum simulation



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Ffon y Cawr (Picell Arthur or Giant’s Staff) Prehistoric Standing Stone, Rowen,...

Ffon y Cawr (Picell Arthur or Giant’s Staff) Prehistoric Standing Stone, Rowen, North Wales, 29.6.19.








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2019 July 1 The Big Corona Image Credit & Copyright: P….


2019 July 1


The Big Corona
Image Credit & Copyright: P. Horálek, Z. Hoder, M. Druckmüller, P. Aniol, S. Habbal / Solar Wind Sherpas


Explanation: Most photographs don’t adequately portray the magnificence of the Sun’s corona. Seeing the corona first-hand during a total solar eclipse is unparalleled. The human eye can adapt to see coronal features and extent that average cameras usually cannot. Welcome, however, to the digital age. The featured central image digitally combined short and long exposures that were processed to highlight faint and extended features in the corona of the total solar eclipse that occurred in August of 2017. Clearly visible are intricate layers and glowing caustics of an ever changing mixture of hot gas and magnetic fields in the Sun’s corona. Looping prominences appear bright pink just past the Sun’s limb. Faint details on the night side of the New Moon can even be made out, illuminated by sunlight reflected from the dayside of the Full Earth. Images taken seconds before and after the total eclipse show glimpses of the background Sun known as Baily’s Beads and Diamond Ring. Tomorrow, a new total solar eclipse will be visible from parts of South America.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190701.html


Flies, Zebrafish, and Nematodes, Oh My! Find this and other…


Flies, Zebrafish, and Nematodes, Oh My! Find this and other great images in the Technology Networks new The Spectacular World of Model Organisms Flipbook.


Image of the Week — July 1, 2019


CIL:39726 http://cellimagelibrary.org/images/39726


Description: Scanning electron micrograph of a Drosophila melanogaster sestrin-null mutant. Sestrin-null Drosophila are used to study pathways involved in oxidative stress and aging.


Author: Thomas Deerinck


Licensing: Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike: This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike License.


The Spectacular World of Model Organisms Flipbook — http://go.technologynetworks.com/the-spectacular-world-of-model-organisms-flipbook


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Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground

Unique necropoli in remote republic of Tuva with more than one hundred undisturbed burials from the Bronze era to the time of Genghis Khan appear eerily from under the water only once a year. The precious archaeological site is located at the bottom of the so-called Sayan Sea, an artificial reservoir created upstream of the Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam, Russia’s biggest power plant.











Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
The archaeological site is located at the bottom of the so-called Sayan Sea
[Credit: RGO/The Siberian Times
]

Scientists can only work here from mid-May to the end of June, with water daily destroying burials made at sea shores, and threatening graves hidden on the reservoir bed. Last year a 2,000-year-old mummified ‘sleeping beauty’ dressed in silk emerged from one of the stone graves.
In this case, the artificial sea — which one day will wipe all traces of this ancient site altogether — has worked as a blessing, as it washed off several layers of soil and revealed a rectangle-shaped stone construction with the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ inside it.


Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground

Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Archaeologists are in a ‘race against time’ to recover treasures
[Credit: RGO/The Siberian Times]

Luckily for archaeologists, the burial had been so well-sealed with a stone lid that first it enabled a process of natural body mummification, and then protected the mummy when the grave was submerged after construction of the dam, on which work started in 1963.


The young woman was laid to rest wearing a silk skirt held by a beaded belt with a precious jet gemstone buckle. There was a rich funeral meal and a pouch of pine nuts prepared for her afterlife, and inside her most intricately-made stylish wooden bag was her Chinese mirror.


Among the young fashionista’s other treasures were turquoise beads used to decorate the belt, a set of much smaller purple beads, fragments of a belt’s ring made of copper alloy and a bone belt buckle with beautiful engraving. There was also an iron knife with a ringed handle.


«This site is a scientific sensation», said Dr Marina Kilunovskaya from the St Petersburg Institute of Material History Culture, who leads the Tuva Archaeological Expedition. «We are incredibly lucky to have found these graves of rich Hun nomads that were not disturbed by robbers. We discovered 110 burials at the Ala-Tey burial site, which is usually 15 metres underwater. Another site which was made at what is now the Sayan Sea shore is getting quickly destroyed by crumbling soil. It is called Terezin, and there we found 32 graves.»











Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
A prehistoric ‘fashionista’ — dressed in silk for the afterlife — has been dubbed
‘Sleeping Beauty’ [Credit: IHMC RAS/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Another view of the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ [Credit: IHMC RAS/
The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Rectangular-shaped stone construction in burial 21 with the remains of the ‘Sleeping Beauty’
[Credit: Institute for the History of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Some of the wooden artefacts found at the site [Credit: Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Purple beads found in burial 21 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Charcoal belt buckle found in burial 21 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]











Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Leather bag found in burial 27 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Wooden comb found in burial 27 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Bone belt buckle found in burial 27 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Bronze mirror from the burial 21 [Credit: Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Bronze mirror from the burial 27 [Credit: Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Human remains and grave goods uncovered in Terezin [Credit: Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]











Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Human remains showing charcoal belt buckle uncovered in Terezin [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Detail of the charcoal belt buckle uncovered in Terezin [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Charcoal belt buckle found in Terezin [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Human remains showing bronze belt buckle uncovered in Ala-Tei [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Detail of bronze belt buckle uncovered in Ala-Tei [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]

Russian archaeologists thought that the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ woman must have been a priestess based on how rich was her burial. Further studies of the finds led them to believe that in fact she was an ancient leather designer, buried with her work instruments — several pieces of leather and tendon threads tacked inside a little bag.


Not far from this ‘Sleeping Beauty’, scientists found the mummy of a Hun weaver, with a wooden spindle packed in a leather bag. Preserved in her burial through thousands of years were sparkling glass beads, two stone pendants and two belt buckets made of bone, one with linear and another one with circular patterns, and a birch bark double cover with holes along its edges.


«Both mummies that were found with fragments of leather, threads and a spindle could have carried a special role in the Hun society», said Dr Kilunovskaya.


«Huns cherished women. It wasn’t a matriarchy, yet women  — mothers and skilled artisans — were treated with great respect. The scientist also explain great attention that was paid to belts found inside the burials. For nomads a belt was an extremely important part of their clothing, indicating wealth and society rank. They didn’t use pockets, so all key elements of day-to-day life had to be hung on belts — which in case of Huns women were intricately decorated.»




Among the other finds were masterpieces of the infamous animal style with female belt buckles depicting scenes of tigers fighting dragons, and beautifully made bronze bulls, horses, camels and snakes.


Other treasures from the underwater necropoli came from China. These were silk, mirrors and coins made during the Han dynasty time (206BC-220 AD) which is described as a golden age in Chinese history and culture.


This summer the work at this Siberian Atlantis will be over by the end of June.


Tuva archaeological rescue expedition in flooded areas is possible thank to a grant from the Russian Geographical Society, and help from Society for the Exploration of EurAsia (Switzerland).


Author: Svetlana Skarbo | Source: The Siberian Times [June 25, 2019]



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Late Iron Age chariot pieces, sword found in Wales

Archaeologists have discovered more artefacts at the first Celtic chariot burial site to be found in southern Britain. Two iron tyres and a sword from the chariot were retrieved during an excavation in Pembrokeshire.











Late Iron Age chariot pieces, sword found in Wales
Archaeologists discovered bronze artefacts, the iron tyres of the chariot wheels
and an iron sword [Credit: Museum Wales]

The exact site remains a secret and follows the discovery of decorative objects by a metal detector enthusiast on the same land in February 2018. National Museum Wales is conserving the chariot pieces.
Archaeologists had suspected they would uncover more beneath the farmland where metal detectorist Mike Smith found a number of objects associated with a chariot. Following an initial investigation in June 2018 by archaeologists from National Museum Wales and Dyfed Archaeological Trust, a dig was carried out in March and April, funded by National Museum Wales, Cadw and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The team discovered bronze artefacts, the iron tyres of the chariot wheels and an iron sword.











Late Iron Age chariot pieces, sword found in Wales
The sword in situ [Credit: Museum Wales]

Adam Gwilt, principal curator of prehistoric archaeology at National Museum Wales, said: «It is the first chariot burial to be found not just in Wales, but in southern Britain. Chariots, as war and ceremonial vehicles, were used to display the power and identity of their owners and tribal communities in late Iron Age Britain, as the fine decoration on these artefacts shows. While we still know little about their owner, these chariot pieces probably belonged to a man or woman of some standing within their tribe or community.»
National Museum Wales hopes to buy the objects found by Mr Smith so they can be displayed alongside the chariot wheels and sword at St Fagans National Museum of History.











Late Iron Age chariot pieces, sword found in Wales
Reconstruction drawing by Jeremy Richards of a horse drawn Celtic chariot and charioteer in Iron Age Britain.
The Iron Age was an archaeological era, referring to a period of time approximating 1200 BC to 600 BC,
it was not is not an archaeological horizon, but rather a locally diverse cultural phase
[Credit: Museum Wales]

Dr Kate Roberts, principal inspector of ancient monuments at Cadw, said: «A unique archaeological discovery like this stirs our imagination — we wonder who the charioteer was and about the world they lived in. By studying these artefacts we hope to learn more about a time when great change in the shape of the Roman Empire was sweeping across Wales.»


Author: Huw Thomas | Source: BBC News Website [June 26, 2019]



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Tools and weapons dug up in Oman proof of Stone Age settlements

Excavation work at Al Mazyoonah archaeological site in southern Oman has led to the discovery of ancient fossils and arrowheads dating back to the Stone Age.











Tools and weapons dug up in Oman proof of Stone Age settlements
Credit: Times of Oman

The excavation started after several local residents reported finding old stone tools in the Mitan area of Al Mazyoonah.


In an online statement, Ministry of Heritage and Culture said: “A team of geologists and specialists from the ministry carried out surveys and archaeological excavations in the north of Mitan in Al Mazyoonah to study the geological and climatic changes and to know the history of human settlement in the region. This came after several reports from local residents about finding old stone tools in the area.”


It added: “The results of the survey revealed the finding of many stone tools indicating settlement in various periods of the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. These tools included pickaxes, hitches for animals, arrowheads and stone axes.”


The ministry explained that the items were found alongside animal fossils that humans have hunted in ancient times.


The area is dominated by wide sand dunes that cover the limestone plateau at a height of 280 meters to 300 meters above sea level.


The discovery of this new archaeological area provides new information about the communities that settled in the southern Arabian Peninsula during the Stone Age, according to the statement.


“Comparisons with known sites in the desert of the Empty Quarter along the southern chain through Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia show a dense presence of people who lived and moved in this region thousands of years ago in rainy climates, during which the Empty Quarter became attractive for settlement and migration due to the abundance of water,” it pointed out.


Matan is characterised by the presence of high sand dunes, salt marshes that were deposited thousands of years ago in water lakes that seemed to be full of life in a savannah-like environment.


“It seems that this area was previously a very attractive environment for life and civilisation before the entry of drought and high temperature,” the report stated.


Source: Times of Oman [June 26, 2019]



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Dispute blocks reopening of revered Jerusalem archaeological site

France reopened a revered but long-closed archaeological site in the heart of Jerusalem on Thursday, but a dispute over access immediately caused its re-closure.











Dispute blocks reopening of revered Jerusalem archaeological site
The Tomb of the Kings has been closed since 2010 due to renovations
[Credit: Thomas Coex/AFP]

France, owner of the site in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem known as the Tomb of the Kings, had agreed to resume public access after having kept it closed since 2010.


But concerns that it would become more of a site of Jewish religious pilgrimage than a purely archaeological site immediately reemerged.


Around 15 people who had pre-registered online as required were allowed access, but a group of more than a dozen ultra-Orthodox Jews, to whom the site is holy, tried to enter and pray there despite not having signed up as requested.


They were prevented from entering since French officials had limited visits to 15 people at once during set times, due to the sensitivity of the site.


The ultra-Orthodox who were denied access shoved toward the gate when it was opened.











Dispute blocks reopening of revered Jerusalem archaeological site
The renovations of the French-owned tomb cost around $1.1 million
[Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP]

Registered visitors granted access were initially trapped inside and eventually exited through a second gate, accompanied by police.


France’s Jerusalem consulate said in a statement that due to the scuffle the site would be closed to the public until further notice.


«We deplore the violent incidents that took place today at the entrance of the site, during which agents of the consulate general of France in Jerusalem were assaulted,» it said in a French-language statement.


«We hope that the climate necessary for the organisation of small group visits, according to the procedures defined by the consulate general in Jerusalem, can be established as soon as possible,» it said.


«In the meantime, we regret to have to suspend the planned visits.»


One of the ultra-Orthodox, Jonathan Frank, 31, said that religious sites should be open to all.











Dispute blocks reopening of revered Jerusalem archaeological site
Ultra-Orthodox Jews describe the tomb as a holy burial site of ancient ancestors
[Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP]

«This is a holy place for Jewish people,» he said.


«Everywhere in the world … when Jewish people or (of) any religion want to go and pray in a holy site, they are able to go and pray.»


The 2,000-year-old archaeological gem had been closed since 2010 due to renovations costing around a million euros ($1.1 million).


It is a remarkable example of a Roman-era tomb, considered among the largest in the region.


Its unique status, Jewish veneration of the burial site and its location in the disputed east of the city added to complications in reopening it.











Dispute blocks reopening of revered Jerusalem archaeological site
View inside the 2,000-year-old burial site [Credit: Thomas Coex/AFP]

Archaeological sites in east Jerusalem, where the tomb is located, are often freighted with religious significance and questions linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Israel occupied what is still mainly-Palestinian east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.


It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.


There has been a challenge at Israel’s rabbinical court — which rules on matters related to Jewish law and holy sites — over access to the tomb and France’s ownership.


Before reopening the site, France sought guarantees from Israel it would not face legal challenges as well as commitments on how visits would be managed.


Ultra-Orthodox Jews describe the tomb as a holy burial site of ancient ancestors.


Author: Laurent Lozano | Source: AFP [June 27, 2019]



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Intricate carvings at Hittite sanctuary claimed to depict lunar calendar

Yazılıkaya is a 3,200-year-old building that is thought to have played an important religious role in the capital city of the ancient Hittite Empire. According to a new theory the carvings may have functioned as a calendar that was way ahead of its time.











Intricate carvings at Hittite sanctuary claimed to depict lunar calendar
This carving at Yazılıkaya is said to depict 12 gods of the underworld
[Credit: WikiCommons]

Yazılıkaya in Turkish simply means inscribed rock and the large Bronze Age limestone site is just as mysterious as its name. Although the carvings at the site have been studied for decades, now some experts are arguing that key aspects have been overlooked.











Intricate carvings at Hittite sanctuary claimed to depict lunar calendar
The site is a large limestone sanctuary [Credit: WikiCommons]

The researchers argue that some faded deity carvings would make one of the depictions add up to the number of days in a lunar month. There are also marks underneath some of the depictions that look like an attempt to keep track of something.











Intricate carvings at Hittite sanctuary claimed to depict lunar calendar
Credit: Getty Images

Eberhard Zangger, president of Luwian Studies, an international non-profit foundation and his colleague Rita Gautschy from the University of Basel think that one carving containing 12 deities depicts the months in a year and another containing 30 depicts the days in a month.











Intricate carvings at Hittite sanctuary claimed to depict lunar calendar
Credit: WikiCommons

They think that the ancient people would have marked underneath the first of the 30 deities at the start of a month and then worked backward to keep track of time. The importance of the full moon is also depicted in some of the carvings.











Intricate carvings at Hittite sanctuary claimed to depict lunar calendar
3D-visualization of Building II and III (gatehouse) at Yazılıkaya showing how the object on the pedestal in
the courtyard may have been illuminated during a religious service on the day of the summer solstice
[Credit: © Oliver Bruderer/Luwian Studies]

The amount of deity carvings doesn’t quite correspond with the number of days in a year but Zangger and Gautschy think the Hittite people would have accounted for this by adding some additional months over a 19-year cycle.











Intricate carvings at Hittite sanctuary claimed to depict lunar calendar
Chamber 1 in the upper city of Ḫattuša was built to catch the light of the Sun as it sets during the winter solstice.
Photo taken on 21st December, 2018 [Credit: © Luwian Studies]

It has also been suggested that other Hittite structures were built to mark importance astronomical events, like the Summer Solstice. However, critics argue that the number of deities alone corresponding to a calendar is not enough conclusive evidence to confirm it was on.



“Celestial Aspects of Hittite Religion: An Investigation of the Rock Sanctuary Yazılıkaya” is written in English and is open access and may be freely downloaded here.


Author: Charlotte Edwards | Source: The Sun [June 27, 2019]



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