вторник, 8 октября 2019 г.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds an Ancient Oasis on Mars


NASA — Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) logo.


Oct. 8, 2019



Image above: The network of cracks in this Martian rock slab called «Old Soaker» may have formed from the drying of a mud layer more than 3 billion years ago. The view spans about 3 feet (90 centimeters) left-to-right and combines three images taken by the MAHLI camera on the arm of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.


If you could travel back in time 3.5 billion years, what would Mars look like? The picture is evolving among scientists working with NASA’s Curiosity rover.


Imagine ponds dotting the floor of Gale Crater, the 100-mile-wide (150-kilometer-wide) ancient basin that Curiosity is exploring. Streams might have laced the crater’s walls, running toward its base. Watch history in fast forward, and you’d see these waterways overflow then dry up, a cycle that probably repeated itself numerous times over millions of years.


That is the landscape described by Curiosity scientists in a Nature Geoscience paper published today. The authors interpret rocks enriched in mineral salts discovered by the rover as evidence of shallow briny ponds that went through episodes of overflow and drying. The deposits serve as a watermark created by climate fluctuations as the Martian environment transitioned from a wetter one to the freezing desert it is today.


Scientists would like to understand how long this transition took and when exactly it occurred. This latest clue may be a sign of findings to come as Curiosity heads toward a region called the «sulfate-bearing unit,» which is expected to have formed in an even drier environment. It represents a stark difference from lower down the mountain, where Curiosity discovered evidence of persistent freshwater lakes.


Gale Crater is the ancient remnant of a massive impact. Sediment carried by water and wind eventually filled in the crater floor, layer by layer. After the sediment hardened, wind carved the layered rock into the towering Mount Sharp, which Curiosity is climbing today. Now exposed on the mountain’s slopes, each layer reveals a different era of Martian history and holds clues about the prevailing environment at the time.



A Guide to Gale Crater

«We went to Gale Crater because it preserves this unique record of a changing Mars,» said lead author William Rapin of Caltech. «Understanding when and how the planet’s climate started evolving is a piece of another puzzle: When and how long was Mars capable of supporting microbial life at the surface?»


He and his co-authors describe salts found across a 500-foot-tall (150-meter-tall) section of sedimentary rocks called «Sutton Island,» which Curiosity visited in 2017. Based on a series of mud cracks at a location named «Old Soaker,» the team already knew the area had intermittent drier periods. But the Sutton Island salts suggest the water also concentrated into brine.


Typically, when a lake dries up entirely, it leaves piles of pure salt crystals behind. But the Sutton Island salts are different: For one thing, they’re mineral salts, not table salt. They’re also mixed with sediment, suggesting they crystallized in a wet environment — possibly just beneath evaporating shallow ponds filled with briny water.


Given that Earth and Mars were similar in their early days, Rapin speculated that Sutton Island might have resembled saline lakes on South America’s Altiplano. Streams and rivers flowing from mountain ranges into this arid, high-altitude plateau lead to closed basins similar to Mars’ ancient Gale Crater. Lakes on the Altiplano are heavily influenced by climate in the same way as Gale.


«During drier periods, the Altiplano lakes become shallower, and some can dry out completely,» Rapin said. «The fact that they’re vegetation-free even makes them look a little like Mars.»



Animation above: This animation demonstrates the salty ponds and streams that scientists think may have been left behind as Gale Crater dried out over time. The bottom of the image is the floor of Gale Crater, with the peak being the side of Mount Sharp. Animation Credits: ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development (KED), Michael Northrop.


Signs of a Drying Mars


Sutton Island’s salt-enriched rocks are just one clue among several the rover team is using to piece together how the Martian climate changed. Looking across the entirety of Curiosity’s journey, which began in 2012, the science team sees a cycle of wet to dry across long timescales on Mars.


«As we climb Mount Sharp, we see an overall trend from a wet landscape to a drier one,» said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. JPL leads the Mars Science Laboratory mission that Curiosity is a part of. «But that trend didn’t necessarily occur in a linear fashion. More likely, it was messy, including drier periods, like what we’re seeing at Sutton Island, followed by wetter periods, like what we’re seeing in the ‘clay-bearing unit’ that Curiosity is exploring today.»


Up until now, the rover has encountered lots of flat sediment layers that had been gently deposited at the bottom of a lake. Team member Chris Fedo, who specializes in the study of sedimentary layers at the University of Tennessee, noted that Curiosity is currently running across large rock structures that could have formed only in a higher-energy environment such as a windswept area or flowing streams.


Wind or flowing water piles sediment into layers that gradually incline. When they harden into rock, they become large structures similar to «Teal Ridge,» which Curiosity investigated this past summer.


«Finding inclined layers represents a major change, where the landscape isn’t completely underwater anymore,» said Fedo. «We may have left the era of deep lakes behind.»


Curiosity has already spied more inclined layers in the distant sulfate-bearing unit. The science team plans to drive there in the next couple years and investigate its many rock structures. If they formed in drier conditions that persisted for a long period, that might mean that the clay-bearing unit represents an in-between stage — a gateway to a different era in Gale Crater’s watery history.


«We can’t say whether we’re seeing wind or river deposits yet in the clay-bearing unit, but we’re comfortable saying is it’s definitely not the same thing as what came before or what lies ahead,» Fedo said.


For more about NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover mission, visit:


https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/


https://nasa.gov/msl


Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Jon Nelson/Alana Johnson/JPL/Andrew Good.


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Health Checks, Science as Spacewalk Season Kicks Off on Station


ISS — Expedition 61 Mission patch.


October 8, 2019


Two NASA spacewalkers are conducting routine post-spacewalk activities today after a 7 hour, 1 minute spacewalk Sunday prior to another excursion outside the International Space Station this Friday.


Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan underwent a routine series of post-spacewalk health checks today with Commander Luca Parmitano assisting the astronauts.



Image above: NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan conducts a spacewalk on Oct. 6, 2019, to begin the latest round of upgrading the station’s large nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries. Image Credit: NASA.


Koch and Morgan will venture outside in their U.S. spacesuits again Friday for more battery replacement work on the P-6 truss structure. This time Morgan will lead the duo during the 6.5-hour spacewalk that will start at 7:50 a.m. EDT. NASA TV coverage begins at 6:30 a.m.


Parmitano and NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir joined the spacewalking duo during the afternoon to review the results and lessons learned from Sunday’s excursion. They will be back in the Quest airlock on Friday to help Morgan and Koch in and out of their spacesuits.


Three more spacewalks are planned before the month is out to complete the power upgrade work. The dates and astronauts for the upcoming spacewalks are…


    16: Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir
    21: Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
    Oct: 25: Jessica Meir and Luca Parmitano


On the Russian side of the station, cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka, who are scheduled to conduct their own spacewalk Oct. 31, continued the upkeep of life support systems while conducting microgravity research.



International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Skvortsov, who has been on the station since July, explored how enzymes in the human body are impacted by weightlessness. Skripochka researched how ultraviolet waves affect Earth’s atmosphere.


Related links:


Expedition 61: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition61/index.html


Truss structure: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/truss-structure


Quest airlock: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/joint-quest-airlock


Spacewalks: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/spacewalks


Enzymes in the human body: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1324


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


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


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


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2019 October 8 Sprite Lightning in HD Image Credit &…


2019 October 8


Sprite Lightning in HD
Image Credit & Copyright: Stephane Vetter (TWAN)


Explanation: This phenomenon occurs in the sky over our heads, not the sea. It is a type of lightning known as red sprite, and rarely has it ever been photographed in this detail. Even though sprites have been recorded for over 30 years, their root cause remains unknown. Some thunderstorms have them, but most don’t. These mysterious bursts of light in the upper atmosphere momentarily resemble gigantic jellyfish. A few years ago high speed videos were taken detailing how red sprites actually develop. The featured image was captured last month in high definition from Italy. One unusual feature of sprites is that they are relatively cold – they operate more like long fluorescent light tubes than hot compact light bulbs. In general, red sprites take only a fraction of a second to occur and are best seen when powerful thunderstorms are visible from the side.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191008.html


2019 September 30 Orion Rising over Brazil Image Credit &…


2019 September 30


Orion Rising over Brazil
Image Credit & Copyright: Carlos Fairbairn


Explanation: Have you seen Orion lately? The next few months will be the best for seeing this familiar constellation as it rises continually earlier in the night. However, Orion’s stars and nebulas won’t look quite as colorful to the eye as they do in this fantastic camera image. In the featured image, Orion was captured by camera showing its full colors last month over a Brazilian copal tree from Brazil’s Central-West Region. Here the cool red giant Betelgeuse takes on a strong orange hue as the brightest star on the far left. Otherwise, Orion’s hot blue stars are numerous, with supergiant Rigel balancing Betelgeuse at the upper right, Bellatrix at the upper left, and Saiph at the lower right. Lined up in Orion’s belt (bottom to top) are Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka all about 1,500 light-years away, born of the constellation’s well studied interstellar clouds. And if a “star” toward the upper right Orion’s sword looks reddish and fuzzy to you, it should. It’s the stellar nursery known as the Great Nebula of Orion.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190930.html


Researchers reveal molecular basis of vision

Researchers have solved the three-dimensional structure of a protein complex involved in vertebrate vision at atomic resolution, a finding that has broad implications for our understanding of biological signaling processes and the design of over a third of the drugs on the market today.











Researchers reveal molecular basis of vision
Credit: Cornell University

The findings illuminate how signals from photons (particles of light) get amplified in the eye. More importantly, the study provides insights into how the largest family of cell membrane proteins — G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) — work in humans.


«They’re involved in almost all the biological processes in a human body — how we perceive light, taste, smell, or how the heart rate is regulated or muscles contract — and they are targets for over 30% of the drugs that are used today,» said Yang Gao, co-first author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Richard Cerione, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and co-senior author.


There are over 800 GPCRs in humans that signal through about 20 different G proteins. GPCRs are responsible for sensing a wide range of outside signals — such as hormones, light, and sense of smell and taste — and inducing corresponding responses inside the cell. In vertebrate vision, the GPCR rhodopsin is capable of detecting the signal from just one photon and through the activation of the G protein transducin and downstream effectors, amplify it 100,000 times.


The researchers used cryo-electron microscopy to obtain atomic-resolution structures of the rhodopsin-transducin complex. The structures not only provide the molecular basis of vertebrate vision, but also reveal a previously unknown mechanism of how GPCRs in general activate G proteins.


«What we’ve learnt from these structures at an atomic level may be broadly applicable to other GPCR signaling systems,» said co-first author Sekar Ramachandran, a senior research associate in Cerione’s lab.


By learning more about how different receptors specifically couple with different G proteins, the researchers hope to gain insights into designing drugs that specifically regulate GPCR signaling. A lot of drug side effects occur when therapies are not specific enough and target both harmful and beneficial pathways, Yang said.


Hongli Hu, a postdoctoral researcher in Stanford’s Department of Structural Biology, is a co-first author; Georgios Skiniotis, professor of molecular and cellular physiology and of structural biology at Stanford, is a co-senior author.


The study was published in the journal Molecular Cell.


Author: Krishna Ramanujan | Source: Cornell University [September 30, 2019]



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Tourmaline | #Geology #GeologyPage #Minerals Locality: Pyingyi…


Tourmaline | #Geology #GeologyPage #Minerals


Locality: Pyingyi Taung, Male, Letpanhla, Singu Township, Pyin-Oo-Lwin District, Mandalay Region, Myanmar


Dimensions: 3.1 × 2.4 × 2.2 cm


Photo Copyright © Crystal Classics


Geology Page

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Is this brain cell your ‘mind’s eye’?

No-one knows what connects awareness — the state of consciousness — with its contents, i.e. thoughts and experiences. Now researchers propose an elegant solution: a literal, structural connection.











Is this brain cell your 'mind's eye'?
Credit: Shutterstock

‘Content circuits’ within the cortex are plugged into ‘switchboard circuits’ that allocate awareness, says the theory, via cortical cells called L5p neurons.


Writing in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, the group offers evidence — and caveats. Their challenge to experimentalists: if consciousness requires L5p neurons, all brain activity without them must be unconscious.


State vs. contents of conscious


Most neuroscientists chasing the neural mechanisms of consciousness focus on its contents, measuring changes in the brain when it thinks about a particular thing — a smell, a memory, an emotion. Quite separately, others study how the brain behaves during different conscious states, like alert wakefulness, dreaming, deep sleep or anesthesia.


Most agree the two are indivisible: you can’t think or feel or experience anything without being aware, nor be ‘aware’ of nothing. But because of the divided approach, «nobody knows how and why the contents and state of consciousness are so tightly coupled,» says Dr. Jaan Aru, neuroscientist at Humboldt University, Berlin, and lead author of the new theory.


Separate circuits


The divide created between state and contents of consciousness is anatomical. Our conscious state is thought to depend on the activity of so-called ‘thalamo-cortical’ circuits. These are connections between neurons in the cortex, and neurons in the thalamus — a thumb-sized relay center in the middle of the brain that controls information inflow from the senses (except smell). Thalamocortical circuits are thought to be the target of general anesthesia, and damage to these neurons due to tumors or stroke often results in coma.


In contrast, functional brain imaging studies locate the contents of consciousness mostly within the cortex, in ‘cortico-cortical’ circuits.


The missing link?


Aru and colleagues believe that L5p neurons are uniquely placed to bridge the divide. «Thalamo-cortical and cortico-cortical circuits intersect via L5p neurons,» explains Aru. «Studies tracing these cells under the microscope suggest they participate in both circuits, by exchanging connections with both thalamus and cortex.»











Is this brain cell your 'mind's eye'?
Cortical layer 5 pyramidal (L5p) neurons (the black-coloured neurons on the image) play a central role in both
cortico-cortical and thalamo-cortical loops. By being central to both loops, they effectively couple them,
functionally coupling the state and contents of consciousness. Two types of thalamic projections are
highlighted: specific (SP) and nonspecific (NSP) types of projections that have different cortical
projection patterns. The grids on the thalami are illustrative of the fact that thalamocortical
 neurons with NSP types of projections can be found in different parts of the thalamus
[Credit: Jaan Aru et al. 2019]

Functional brain studies suggest these cells may indeed couple the state and contents of consciousness. Cellular-level brain imaging in mice shows that L5p neurons respond to a sensory stimulus (air puff to the leg); that this response increases when the animal is awake; and that it is strongest by far when the animal reacts to the stimulus (moves its leg).


«We can’t tell what the mouse is thinking,» concedes Aru. «But if we assume that it reacts only when it is conscious of the stimulus, then this study demonstrates the interaction between the state [wakefulness] and contents [sensory experience] of consciousness in L5p neurons.»


The assumption is consistent with a similar mouse study. This one went further, showing that directly activating the stimulus-responsive L5p neurons (e.g. with drugs) makes the animal react to a weaker sensory stimulus — and sometimes without any stimulus.


«It’s as if the mouse experiences an illusory stimulus; as if L5p stimulation creates consciousness,» Aru adds.


Testing the theory


The theory is a first iteration that needs refinement, stresses Aru. «Our goal here is to convince others that future work on the mechanisms of consciousness should specifically target L5p neurons.»


Nevertheless, this general arrangement could account for some well-known quirks of consciousness.  For example, the processing delay of this long relay — from cortico-cortical circuit to thalamo-cortical and back again via L5p neurons — could explain why rapid changes of stimuli often escape conscious perception. (Think subliminal messages spliced into video.)


One feature of this phenomenon is ‘backward masking’: when two images are presented briefly in rapid succession (50-100 ms), only the second image is consciously perceived. In this case, posits Aru, «by the time the stimulus completes the L5p-thalamus-L5p relay, the second image has taken over early cortical representation and steals the limelight lit by the first image.»


The theory could also help explain why we usually have little conscious insight into some brain processes, like planning movement or even syntax. «All brain activity that does not (sufficiently) involve L5p neurons remains unconscious,» predicts Aru.


Therein lies the key to testing this exciting theory.


Source: Frontiers [September 30, 2019]



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What did ancient crocodiles eat? Study says as much as a snout can grab

While most people imagine alligators and crocodiles as being much the same now as they were during the age of dinosaurs, digging into the fossil record shows much more diverse species through time. Semiaquatic ambush predators resembling modern alligators and crocodiles are seen in fossil relatives going back to the Jurassic period, but the group also includes oceangoing crocs with flippers and tail flukes, heavily armored pug-faced crocs, long-legged crocs that ran on land, and giant crocs with tiny teeth and surfboard-shaped skulls.











What did ancient crocodiles eat? Study says as much as a snout can grab
Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) [Credit: Envato]

Many of these odd adaptations seem to be associated with what the animals were eating, but how do scientists study the diet of animals that have been dead for millions of years?


Two researchers—one from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and one from Stony Brook University—have tried to tackle this question by bringing together mathematical analyses of the animals’ shapes, surveys of modern crocodiles’ diet, modeling methods for reconstructing the diet of fossil groups, and forensic-style interpretations of damaged bones from the distant past.


«We used to put modern crocs into two ecological bins: slender-snouted groups who eat only fish and broader-snouted groups who eat pretty much whatever they want,» said paleontologist Stephanie Drumheller, an adjunct assistant professor in UT’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and coauthor of the paper, published in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. «The reality is a lot more complicated.»


Slender-snouted crocodiles, such as Indian gharials and freshwater crocodiles, actually eat all sorts of animals other than fish, though they do tend to stick with smaller prey relative to their body size. Among the crocs that eat larger prey, the researchers found an unexpected split. Broad V-shaped snouts, like those found in American crocodiles, correspond with animals that are able to eat prey species up to their own size. More U-shaped snouts, like those seen in American alligators, can often be found in species that take down even larger prey—sometimes close to twice their own body weight.


«Several of these fossil groups had skulls and teeth wildly different from living species. This suggests that the way they fed also differed dramatically,» said coauthor Eric Wilberg, an assistant professor in Stony Brook University’s Department of Anatomical Sciences. Among these are a group of extinct crocs that lived in the oceans. While they had slender snouts similar to those of living gharials, their eyes were positioned more on the side of the head, and the part of the skull that houses the jaw muscles was enlarged. This suggests they were not ambush predators like modern crocodylians.


Another group consists almost exclusively of species that lived on land. These crocs had flattened, serrated teeth, like those of carnivorous dinosaurs, and eyes positioned more on the side of the head.


Paleontologists can’t observe feeding in extinct groups, but the fossil records sometimes provide snapshots of this behavior.


«Crocodiles and their relatives are pretty messy eaters,» said Drumheller. «That’s great for us, because they’ll often leave broken, bitten bones behind for paleontologists to find.»


Most of these fossil bite marks line up nicely with the idea of crocodiles and their relatives eating within their expected weight classes. The fossils that don’t fit may be evidence of scavenging, a behavior that is rarely testable in the fossil record.


Some crocodile groups remain mysterious. No fossil bite marks exist for the stubby-faced crocs, whose complex teeth and weak jaws suggest they might have been plant eaters, or for the surfboard-headed ones, which had tiny teeth and may have sported pelican-like pouches under their long, wide jaws.


«Crocodiles and their relatives have long been thought of as unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, and as a result they have received less scientific attention than other groups like dinosaurs and mammals,» said Wilberg. Renewed interest in the group has consistently demonstrated a complex evolutionary and ecological history, going far beyond the semiaquatic ambush predators alive today.


Source: University of Tennessee at Knoxville [September 30, 2019]



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New structures found at Mayan city of X’baatun

Discoveries by Mexican and Spanish archaeologists have revealed the previously unknown extent of the pre-Columbian city of X’baatun in the state of Yucatan.











New structures found at Mayan city of X’baatun
Part of the 37-foot-high pyramid located at X’baatun 
[Credit: EFE]

Spanish archaeologist Carmen Varela Torrecilla, professor at the Universidad Europea del Atlantico in Santander, told the news agency Efe that the excavations revealed an important Mayan city whose splendor lasted over a thousand years.


“With the recent excavations, we discovered new structures and ceramic fragments ranging from the period 500 to 300 B.C. to A.D. 900 to 1000,” she said.


Varela is working with Juan Garcia Targa of the University of Barcelona and Alfonso Munoz Cosme of the Madrid Polytechnic University, as well as researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).


“Doctor Garcia Targa will come to Yucatan next October to continue the first and second phase of the plan,” she said. “We’ll do new excavations, and next January all of us will meet in X’baatun.”


The archaeologists believe that X’baatun, which is located in the Oxhuatz tourism park, was a satellite of the major Mayan city of Izamal.


“We want to return the X’baatun archaeological site to splendor,” said Varela. “We want the inhabitants of the municipality of Tekal de Venegas to feel pride and identity through eco-tourism.”


So far, the excavations have revealed a 37-foot-high pyramid, a ball court, a cenote and several other structures. According to Varela, the pyramid is relatively tall with a narrow base, which is not characteristic of pyramids found in other places.


The archaeologists also hope that the new discoveries will help the site get proper protection.


“The pre-Columbian treasure in the Oxhuatz park is being looted,” said Varela. “And there are other problems: cows from a nearby ranch come to drink water from the cenote, and they destroy the structures.”


Varela added that she is asking the government of Yucatan to provide better protection.


Source: Mexico News Daily [September 30, 2019]



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Phoenician stele with ‘Servant of Melqart’ engraving discovered in Mozia

A team of archaeologists, coordinated by Lorenzo Nigro from the Sapienza Department of Italian Institute of Oriental Studies, has discovered the remains of a stele dedicated to the “tomb of the Servant of Melqart, son of …” The engraving, in Phoenician, refers to the title usually used to refer to the King of the Island.











Phoenician stele with 'Servant of Melqart' engraving discovered in Mozia
Credit: Italian Institute of Oriental Studies

The important discovery was made during the last day of the dig by the Sapienza Archaeological Mission. The stele was concealed in a windowless room in a defensive tower of the city’s first wall (ca. 6 BC) together with vase fragments, the skeletal remains of an adult and child and a funerary stone in calcarenite.
The upper part of the stele, about 45 cm. high, presents traces of bright red paint on the top. On one side, the stele has a monumental engraving in Phoenician, which on four lines reads “tomb of the Servant of Melqart, son of …”


Melqart was the divine protector of the King of Mozia who, by using such an epithet, emphasized the divine right to his status. The state of conservation of the engraving, although incomplete, makes it one of the best monumental engravings every found on the island and provides an important indication both on the site of the necropolis and the chronology of what has been unearthed to date.


The Sapienza Archaeological Mission to Mozia, coordinated by Lorenzo Nigro, is part of the university’s large digs and is conducted through an agreement with Cultural Heritage Department of the Sicily Region – Trapani BBCCAA Office and in collaboration with the Fondazione G. Whitaker.


Source: Sapienza Università di Roma [September 30, 2019]



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Ruins of temples found in ancient Amastris

Archaeologists have discovered ancient pillars and pillar bases believed to be from the sanctuary of Princess Amastris in Turkey’s northern Bartın province, a report said Wednesday.











Ruins of temples found in ancient Amastris
Credit: AA

The pillars were found during drilling launched by Amasra Museum Directorate in the Amasra district in the port town, a report by Demirören News Agency (DHA) said.
Based on the height of the pillars, which vary between five to six metres, the sanctuary’s height was six or seven metres, experts said. Officials are expected to launch excavations in the area soon.


Deputy Museum Director Ahmet Çapkun told reporters that excavations will confirm the authenticity of the pillars and the sanctuary.











Ruins of temples found in ancient Amastris
Credit: AA

Situated in the ancient region of Paphlagonia, the original city seems to have been called Sesamus (Greek: Σήσαμος), and it is mentioned by Homer.


Later Amastris, the niece of the last Persian king Darius III and former wife of Lysimachus, combined four small Ionian colonies, Sesamus, Cytorus, Cromna and Teion to form the new community named after her person.


During the Byzantine Era the acropolis was transformed into a fortress and the still surviving church was built. It formed part of the Empire of Trebizond following the Latin sack of Constantinople in 1204 and later came under the control of the Republic of Genoa. It was eventually conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II.


Source: Anadolu Agency [September 30, 2019]



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Three 17th-century shipwrecks found in central Gothenburg

Not just one but three 400-year-old shipwrecks have been found during building work in central Gothenburg.











Three 17th-century shipwrecks found in central Gothenburg
The wrecks were found during construction work
[Credit: Arkeologerna/SHM]

The wrecks were found during archaeological diggings in connection with building work for Gothenburg’s new railway line Västlänken, and the finds were not totally unexpected.


Gothenburg has a long history of being a major centre for Sweden’s shipping trade, partly thanks to the Swedish East India Company and its convenient location on the coast of western Sweden.











Three 17th-century shipwrecks found in central Gothenburg
Gothenburg was awarded city privileges in the 17th century and has a long shipping history
[Credit: Arkeologerna/SHM]

The wrecks were found at Packhusplatsen, the site of a disused harbour known as Masthamnen. The harbour was used from the 1600s and formed part of the city’s defence, but was eventually covered up in the mid-1800s – at which point the ships were likely left at the bottom of the sea.


It is not known if they were deliberately sunk or sank for other reasons and weren’t salvaged.











Three 17th-century shipwrecks found in central Gothenburg
The ships were built using the clinker method, which means the hull planks overlap each other
[Credit: Arkeologerna/SHM]

«Their size is such that they were probably cargo boats that were used to transport goods on shorter distances. It will be interesting now to see if we can find the remains of the cargo, for example in the layers between the planks, which could then show what they transported,» said archaeologist Carina Bramstång Plura, who is in charge of the archaeological excavations for the Västlänken project, in a statement.


The three wrecks are made out of oak tree and were likely between 15-20 metres in length.


Marine archaeologists are now set to help salvage the ships and analyze them.


Source: The Local [September 30, 2019]



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