воскресенье, 13 октября 2019 г.

Early Invasion There’s more to making a baby than embryonic…


Early Invasion


There’s more to making a baby than embryonic cells. This image shows a cross-section through a mouse’s womb, around halfway through pregnancy. The bright green speckles are stem cells that originally came from the bone marrow but have been recruited into a tissue known as the decidua, which plays a vital role in helping the developing foetus to implant into the womb and supports it as it grows. These bone marrow cells were already known to transform into blood or other tissues, but this is the first time they’ve been shown to have a role during pregnancy. Mice with a faulty version of a gene that’s active in bone marrow cells are unable to become pregnant but can conceive after receiving a bone marrow transplant from unaffected mice. The results may help to explain why some women have recurrent miscarriages and point to potential ways to save these pregnancies in the future.


Written by Kat Arney



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Three skeletons found under metro station in Rome

Three skeletons believed to date back to the time of the Romans have been uncovered by workmen who were at a metro station in central Rome, Italy.











Three skeletons found under metro station in Rome
Skeleton of adult male unearthed at the Piramide metro station in Rome
[Credit: Soprintendenza di Roma]

The first remains found — that of a largely intact male — has been dubbed the ‘Pyramid Mummy’ by local media and was unearthed on September 20, 2019.


Two further skeletons — that of a mother and child — were found in the area on September 30, 2019.


Workmen were excavating outside the Piramide metro station on Rome’s Line B when they came across the ancient remains on September 20, 2019, local media reported.


The human skeleton — which locals have dubbed the ‘Pyramid Mummy’, after the name of the metro stop — is believed to be largely intact.











Three skeletons found under metro station in Rome
Skeletal remains of mother and child [Credit: Soprintendenza di Roma]

Following the initial find, local authorities immediately moved to cordon off the area so that archaeologists could carefully uncover the bones.


The skeleton dates back to the time of the Roman empire, said a spokesperson for the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome.


However, an exact age for the man’s remains has yet to be established.


Archaeologists working on the site went on to uncover similar skeletal remains of a woman and a child ten days after the initial discovery.











Three skeletons found under metro station in Rome
The little baby bones, probably the ribs, next to the woman[Credit: Soprintendenza di Roma]

Experts believe that the three Romans could have been a family, nothing that the child’s remains had been placed between the woman’s hip and knee, suggesting that she could have been its mother.


Their burial may have formed part of the Necropolis of Via Ostiense, one of Rome’s best-preserved ancient cemeteries.


Both skeletons were found surrounded by metal nails, suggesting that they could have been buried in a wooden coffin that had since eroded away.


Analysis of the three skeletons is ongoing.


Author: Ian Randall | Source: Daily Mail [October 03, 2019]



TANN



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Run top quark run


CERN — European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.


13 October, 2019


The CMS collaboration has measured for the first time the variation, or “running”, of the top-quark mass 



Image above: A candidate event for a top quark–antiquark pair recorded by the CMS detector. Such an event is expected to produce an electron (green), a muon (red) of opposite charge, two high-energy “jets” of particles (orange) and a large amount of missing energy (purple) (Image: CMS/CERN).


Dive into the subatomic world, into the heart of protons or neutrons, and you’ll find elementary particles known as quarks. Measuring the mass of these quarks can be challenging, but new results from the CMS collaboration reveal for the first time how the mass of the top quark – the heaviest of six types of quarks – varies depending on the energy scale used to measure the particle.


The theory of quantum chromodynamics, a component of the Standard Model, predicts this energy-scale variation, known as running, for the masses of all quarks and for the strong force acting between them. Observing the running masses of quarks can therefore provide a way of testing quantum chromodynamics and the Standard Model.


Experiments at CERN and other laboratories have already measured the running masses of the bottom and charm quarks, the second and third heaviest quarks, and the results were in agreement with quantum chromodynamics. Now, the CMS collaboration has used data from high-energy proton–proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider to chase out the running mass of the top quark.



Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Animation Credit: CERN

The CMS physicists looked for how often pairs of particles comprising a top quark and its antimatter counterpart were produced in the collisions. They did this measurement at three different energy scales, between about 400 GeV and 1 TeV, and then compared the results with theoretical predictions of the top quark–antiquark production rate. From this comparison, they obtained the top-quark mass at those three energy scales.


The result? The top-quark mass does seem to run as predicted by quantum chromodynamics – that is, it decreases with increasing energy scale. However, the result is based on only three experimental data points. More data points, as well as improved theoretical predictions, should be able to tell with more precision whether that’s indeed the case.


Find out more on the CMS website: https://cms.cern/news/watching-top-quark-mass-run


Note:


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.


The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.


Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.


Related links:


Quantum chromodynamics: https://home.cern/tags/qcd


Standard Model: https://home.cern/science/physics/standard-model


Antimatter: https://home.cern/science/physics/antimatter


Large Hadron Collider (LHC): https://home.cern/science/accelerators/large-hadron-collider


For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit: https://home.cern/


Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Ana Lopes.


Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link


Amethyst Sceptre | #Geology #GeologyPage #Minerals Locality:…


Amethyst Sceptre | #Geology #GeologyPage #Minerals


Locality: Chibuku Mine, Zambezi Valley, Mashonaland West , Zimbabwe


Size: 6.7 x 3.1 x 2.5 cm

Photo Copyright © Anton Watzl Minerals


Geology Page

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Prehistoric Tools and Weapons, Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, 29.9.19.











Prehistoric Tools and Weapons, Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, 29.9.19.


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Hubble Snaps Spiral’s Profile


NASA — Hubble Space Telescope patch.


Oct. 13, 2019



The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope sees galaxies of all shapes, sizes, luminosities and orientations in the cosmos. Sometimes, the telescope gazes at a galaxy oriented sideways — as shown here. The spiral galaxy featured in this Hubble image is called NGC 3717, and it is located about 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (the Sea Serpent).


Seeing a spiral almost in profile, as Hubble has here, can provide a vivid sense of its three-dimensional shape. Through most of their expanse, spiral galaxies are shaped like a thin pancake. At their cores, though, they have bright, spherical, star-filled bulges that extend above and below this disk, giving these galaxies a shape somewhat like that of a flying saucer when they are seen edge-on.


NGC 3717 is not captured perfectly edge-on in this image; the nearer part of the galaxy is tilted ever so slightly down, and the far side tilted up. This angle affords a view across the disk and the central bulge (of which only one side is visible).



Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Animation Credits: NASA/ESA

For more information about Hubble, visit:


http://hubblesite.org/


http://www.nasa.gov/hubble


http://www.spacetelescope.org/


Text Credits: ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA/Rob Garner/Image Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Rosario.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Tests start at CERN for large-scale prototype of new technology to detect neutrinos


CERN — European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.


13 October, 2019



Image above: A track made by a cosmic-ray muon, observed in the dual-phase ProtoDUNE detector. The ionisation released by the muon track in liquid argon and by the correlated electromagnetic activity can be seen (Image: ProtoDUNE).


Scientists working at CERN have started tests of a prototype for a new neutrino detector, using novel and very promising technology called “dual phase”. If successful, this technology will be used at a much larger scale for the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), hosted at Fermilab in the US.


Scientists began operating the dual-phase ProtoDUNE detector at CERN at the end of August, and have observed the first particle tracks. The detector is a cube about six metres long in each direction – the size of a three-storey house – and is filled with 800 tonnes of argon.


The new technology would be used in addition to so-called single-phase detectors that have been successfully operated for many years. “The single-phase technology is a proven method that will be used to build the first module for the DUNE detector,” said DUNE co-spokesperson Ed Blucher of the University of Chicago. “The dual-phase technology provides a second method that has great potential to add to the DUNE detector’s capabilities.” Indeed, the dual-phase technology may be game-changing: it would significantly amplify the faint signals that particles create when moving through the detector.


The single-phase ProtoDUNE, which began taking data at CERN in September 2018, is filled entirely with liquid argon. Sensors submerged in the liquid record the faint signals generated when a neutrino smashes into an argon atom. The dual-phase version uses liquid argon as the target material and a layer of gaseous argon above the liquid to amplify faint particle signals before they arrive at sensors located at the top of the detector, inside the argon gas. The dual-phase set-up could yield stronger signals and would enable scientists to look for lower-energy neutrino interactions.


The innovative data-collection electronics, each with a surface area of nine square metres, are individually suspended a few millimetres above the liquid level. They sit in the gas layer near the top of the detector, which has special chimneys that open from the outside. This offers the advantage that the electronics can be accessed even when most of the detector is filled with liquid argon at a temperature below -184 °C.


The dual-phase detector features a single active volume with no detector components in the middle of the liquid argon and a reduced number of readout elements at the top. This reduces “dead space” within the detector volume and offers the neutrinos a larger target.


The single- and dual-phase prototypes at CERN are small components of the detector that the DUNE collaboration plans to build in the United States over the next decade: a DUNE detector module will house the equivalent of twenty ProtoDUNEs and operate at up to 600 000 volts.


DUNE plans to build four full-size detector modules based on argon technology. These will be located around 1.5 km underground, at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota. Scientists will use them to understand whether neutrinos could be the reason that matter dominates over antimatter in our universe.


The outcomes of the test at CERN will help with deciding how many modules will feature the single-phase technology and how many will use the dual-phase technology.


Note:


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.


The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.


Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.


Related links:


ProtoDUNE, which began taking data at CERN in September 2018: https://home.cern/news/press-release/experiments/first-particle-tracks-seen-prototype-international-neutrino


Dual-phase version: https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/a-dual-phase-dune


For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit: https://home.cern/


Image, Text, Credit: European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).


Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link


From cosmic rays to clouds


CERN — European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.


13 October, 2019


A new run of the CLOUD experiment examines the direct effect of cosmic rays on clouds 



Image above: The CLOUD experiment in the CERN East Hall at the start of the CLOUDy run, on 23 September 2019. The chamber is enclosed inside a thermal housing that precisely controls the temperature between -65 °C and +40 °C. Instruments surrounding the chamber continuously sample and analyse its contents. (Image: CERN).


CERN’s colossal complex of accelerators is in the midst of a two-year shutdown for upgrade work. But that doesn’t mean all experiments at the Laboratory have ceased to operate. The CLOUD experiment, for example, has just started a data run that will last until the end of November.


The CLOUD experiment studies how ions produced by high-energy particles called cosmic rays affect aerosol particles, clouds and the climate. It uses a special cloud chamber and a beam of particles from the Proton Synchrotron to provide an artificial source of cosmic rays. For this run, however, the cosmic rays are instead natural high-energy particles from cosmic objects such as exploding stars.


“Cosmic rays, whether natural or artificial, leave a trail of ions in the chamber,” explains CLOUD spokesperson Jasper Kirkby, “but the Proton Synchrotron provides cosmic rays that can be adjusted over the full range of ionisation rates occurring in the troposphere, which comprises the lowest ten kilometres of the atmosphere. That said, we can also make progress with the steady flux of natural cosmic rays that make it into our chamber, and this is what we’re doing now.”


In its 10 years of operation, CLOUD has made several important discoveries on the vapours that form aerosol particles in the atmosphere and can seed clouds. Although most aerosol particle formation requires sulphuric acid, CLOUD has shown that aerosols can form purely from biogenic vapours emitted by trees, and that their formation rate is enhanced by cosmic rays by up to a factor 100.


Most of CLOUD’s data runs are aerosol runs, in which aerosols form and grow inside the chamber under simulated conditions of sunlight and cosmic-ray ionisation. The run that has just started is of the “CLOUDy” type, which studies the ice- and liquid-cloud-seeding properties of various aerosol species grown in the chamber, and direct effects of cosmic-ray ionisation on clouds.


The present run uses the most comprehensive array of instruments ever assembled for CLOUDy experiments, including several instruments dedicated to measuring the ice- and liquid-cloud-seeding properties of aerosols over the full range of tropospheric temperatures. In addition, the CERN CLOUD team has built a novel generator of electrically charged cloud seeds to investigate the effects of charged aerosols on cloud formation and dynamics.


“Direct effects of cosmic-ray ionisation on the formation of fair-weather clouds are highly speculative and almost completely unexplored experimentally,” says Kirkby. “So this run could be the most boring we’ve ever done – or the most exciting! We won’t know until we try, but by the end of the CLOUD experiment, we want to be able to answer definitively whether cosmic rays affect clouds and the climate, and not leave any stone unturned.”


Note:


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.


The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.


Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.


Related links:


CLOUD experiment: https://home.cern/science/experiments/cloud


Proton Synchrotron: https://home.cern/science/accelerators/proton-synchrotron


For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit: https://home.cern/


Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Ana Lopes.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


2019 October 13 A Stellar Jewel Box: Open Cluster NGC 290 Image…


2019 October 13


A Stellar Jewel Box: Open Cluster NGC 290
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Acknowledgement: E. Olzewski (U. Arizona)


Explanation: Jewels don’t shine this bright – only stars do. Like gems in a jewel box, though, the stars of open cluster NGC 290 glitter in a beautiful display of brightness and color. The photogenic cluster, pictured here, was captured in 2006 by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Open clusters of stars are younger, contain few stars, and contain a much higher fraction of blue stars than do globular clusters of stars. NGC 290 lies about 200,000 light-years distant in a neighboring galaxy called the Small Cloud of Magellan (SMC). The open cluster contains hundreds of stars and spans about 65 light years across. NGC 290 and other open clusters are good laboratories for studying how stars of different masses evolve, since all the open cluster’s stars were born at about the same time.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191013.html


Dolomite on Smithsonite | #Geology #GeologyPage…


Dolomite on Smithsonite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Minerals


Locality: Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region, Namibia, Africa


Dimensions: 3.7 × 3.1 × 2.5 cm


Photo Copyright © Crystal Classics


Geology Page

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Henmilite on Olshanskyite | #Geology #GeologyPage…


Henmilite on Olshanskyite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Minerals


Locality: Fuka Mine, Bicchu-cho, Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture, Japan, Asia


Dimensions: 7.5 × 6.8 × 4.9 cm


Photo Copyright © Crystal Classics


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The Balkan connection

The hot topic at the moment is social inequality in Bronze Age Europe, thanks to a new paper by Mittnik et al. at Science. The full article is sitting behind an exceedingly robust paywall here.
However, the genotype dataset from the paper is freely available at the Max Planck Society’s Edmond data repository here. Below is my Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of ancient West Eurasian variation featuring 41 of the highest quality ancients from the new dataset. Almost all of them are from the Lech Valley in the Bavarian Alps, covering the period from the Bell Beaker culture (BBC) to the Middle Bronze Age (MBA). Two of the samples are from a mass Corded Ware culture (CWC) burial in the more northerly Tauber Valley.



I’ve also highlighted other ancients on the plot associated with the BBC and CWC from present-day Netherlands and Germany, respectively. The relevant PCA datasheet can be downloaded here.
Social stratification in ancient Europe is a fascinating topic, and it’s an issue that I’ve started looking at myself (see here). However, I can’t see any correlation between the inferred social standing of the individuals from the Lech and Tauber valleys and their positions in my PCA.
Nevertheless, the PCA is interesting in that it highlights considerable genetic heterogeneity within the Lech Valley BBC population. Indeed, how is this heterogeneity even possible, if, as per Mittnik et al., ancient DNA «has shown that the spread of the BBC throughout continental Europe did not involve large-scale migrations»?
Below is another version of my PCA, but this time focusing on three males: Lech Valley Beakers UNTA58_68Sk1 and WEHR_1192SkA, as well as ALT_4 from the aforementioned mass CWC grave in the Tauber Valley. Note that UNTA58_68Sk1 and WEHR_1192SkA represent genetically the most southern and northern, respectively, Lech Valley BBC samples that had enough data to be run in my analysis. I chose to focus on males because they carry the Y-chromosome, which can be informative about male-mediated ancient population expansions.



The PCA outcomes for these individuals are generally in line with their results in other types of genetic analyses, including those based on formal statistics. For instance, compared to the other two, ALT_4 harbors excess early steppe herder ancestry, UNTA58_68Sk1 excess early European farmer ancestry, and WEHR_1192SkA excess European hunter-gatherer ancestry. Moreover…



— UNTA58_68Sk1 shows a non-local isotopic signature and belongs to Y-haplogroup G2a, a marker essentially missing from BBC populations north of the Alps, and is best modeled as a two-way mixture between Bronze Age populations from the Balkans and the Pontic-Caspian steppe (see here), which probably means that he was a migrant to the Lech Valley from south of the Alps
— importantly, UNTA58_68Sk1 is not an isolated case, at least in the sense that several other BBC individuals from Bavaria, Bohemia, Hungary and Poland show varying ratios of Balkan-related ancestry, although almost all of these people are women
— WEHR_1192SkA is very similar to Bell Beakers from the northern Netherlands with whom he shares the R1b-P312 Y-haplogroup, suggesting that he was part of a population that moved into the Lech Valley from potentially as far away as the North Sea coast
— although ALT_4 probably shares the R1b-L51 Y-haplogroup with WEHR_1192SkA and many other BBC and Bronze Age individuals from the Bavarian Alps and surrounds, this can’t be used as evidence of significant local genetic continuity after the CWC period, especially considering the comparatively eastern genome-wide structure of ALT_4.



Of course, archeological data suggest that the BBC was influenced in a profound way by the Copper and Bronze Age cultures of the Balkans and Carpathian Basin. So much so, in fact, that Marija Gimbutas, author of The Civilization of the Goddess, believed that the BBC originated in the Balkans from a synthesis of the local Vucedol culture and the intrusive Yamnaya culture from the Pontic-Caspian steppe.
Considering the ancient DNA evidence, however, the main demographic center of the early BBC could not have been south of the Alps.
Rather, it appears that early BBC and even CWC groups moved from north of the Alps into the Balkans and Carpathian Basin, where they established contacts with the local elites. If so, this may have resulted in significant cultural and perhaps linguistic influence on the BBC, but more limited genetic impact and mostly via female-mediated gene flow. This scenario also has support from archeological data (for instance, see here).
See also…
Is Yamnaya overrated?
The Boscombe Bowmen
Single Grave > Bell Beakers

Source


Chalcedony (Var: Agate) | #Geology #GeologyPage #Minerals…


Chalcedony (Var: Agate) | #Geology #GeologyPage #Minerals #Agate


Photo Copyright © Don Windeler


Geology Page

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Excavations in Israel uncover vast 5,000-year-old city and temple for religious rituals

A vast city, around 5000 years old, the largest and the most central ever uncovered in Israel, was uncovered during extensive excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority that have been in progress for two and a half years in the Ein Iron area. The excavations, revealing a city stretching over 650 dunams accommodating around 6,000 inhabitants, are being carried out prior to the construction of the Harish  interchange, a project initiated and funded by the Netivei Israel – the National Transport Infrastructure Company Ltd.











Excavations in Israel uncover vast 5,000-year-old city and temple for religious rituals
Aerial photograph of the excavation site [Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority/Assaf Peretz]

Widespread excavations at the En Esur (Ein Asawir) archaeological site, located near Wadi Ara, reveal a planned Bronze Age 1B city (end of the 4th millennium B.C.), surrounded by a fortification wall, with residential and public areas, streets and alley .An even earlier settlement, dating to the Chalcolithic period from 7,000 years ago, was uncovered in deeper excavations made beneath this city’s houses. It seems that two abundant springs originating in the area in antiquity were a site of attraction throughout the period.











Excavations in Israel uncover vast 5,000-year-old city and temple for religious rituals
Aerial photograph of the excavation site [Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority/Assaf Peretz]

Approximately 5,000 teenagers and volunteers participated in the excavations as part of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Sharing Heritage Project, which aims to create an emotional and experiential connection to the past and cultural heritage, develop a sense of belonging to the land, and an awareness of the importance of preserving its antiquities. Participants included Menashe Regional Council  students, mechina (pre-army program) cadets, Land of Israel and Archeology study track students, service year participants, IDF Nahal Brigade members, special education students, as well as the participation of students and joint groups of Jews and Arabs in collaboration with the SHARE International Organization.











Excavations in Israel uncover vast 5,000-year-old city and temple for religious rituals
Archaeologists work at a large, 5,000-year-old city in northern Israel
[Credit: Tsafrir Abayov, AFP]

According to Noah Shaul, a guide on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, «The challenges the archaeological excavation presented the students, and the uncovering of its findings, contributed both to their personal development and enriched their acquaintance with the country’s landscape, its sites and history.»











Excavations in Israel uncover vast 5,000-year-old city and temple for religious rituals
Figurines from the Early Bronze Age excavation site near modern Harish
[Credit: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority]

According to Itai Elad, Dr. Yitzhak Paz and Dr. Dina Shalem, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, «There is no doubt that this site dramatically changes what we know about the character of the period and the beginning of urbanization in Israel. This is a fascinating period in the history of the Land of Israel – the Canaan of those days – whose population undergoes changes altering its face completely. The rural population gives way to a complex society living mostly in urban settings. These are the first steps in the country of Canaanite culture consolidating its identity in newly established urban sites; hence the immense importance of the ancient city exposed in northern Hasharon. Such a city could not develop without having behind it a guiding hand and an administrative mechanism. Its impressive planning, the tools brought to Israel from Egypt found at the site, and its seal impressions are proof of this. This is a huge city – a megalopolis in relation to the Early Bronze Age, where thousands of inhabitants, who made their living from agriculture, lived and traded with different regions and even with different cultures and kingdoms in the area.»











Excavations in Israel uncover vast 5,000-year-old city and temple for religious rituals
An archaeologists shows a figurine found at the 5,000-year-old city in northern Israel
[Credit: Tsafrir Abayov, AFP]

In the public area of the city, archaeologists discovered an unusual ritual temple striking in its dimensions, and in its courtyard a huge stone basin for liquids used during performance of religious rituals. A facility containing burnt animal bones — evidence of sacrificial offerings — as well as rare figurines, including a human head with the seal impression of a man hands lifted and next to him the figure of an animal, were uncovered inside the temple. These findings allow us to look beyond the material into the spiritual life of the large community that lived at the site.











Excavations in Israel uncover vast 5,000-year-old city and temple for religious rituals
Seal impression of a man with hands lifted and next to him the figure of an animal
[Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority/Yoli Schwartz]

These surprising findings allow us, for the first time, to define the cultural characteristics of the inhabitants of this area in ancient times .The inhabitants earned a living from agriculture thanks to the nearby springs, and the land used for crops. The remains of residential buildings, diverse facilities and the public buildings are an indication of the organized society and the social hierarchy that existed at the time. The excavation revealed millions of pottery fragments, flint tools, and basalt stone vessels that were brought to the site, and more.



Following the Israel Antiquities Authority’s exposure of the unique excavations site, Netivei Israel carried out planning changes to protect the site of this impressive city. The archaeological ruins are documented using advanced means; they will be covered in a controlled manner, studied and investigated by IAA researchers, and the new interchange will be built high above these ruins, to permit its preservation for future generations.


Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs [October 06, 2019]



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Social inequality in Bronze Age households

Archaeogenetic analyses provide new insights into social inequality 4000 years ago: nuclear families lived together with foreign women and individuals from lower social classes in the same household.











Social inequality in Bronze Age households
Illustration of Bronze Age Europeans [Credit: bunterhund]

Social inequality already existed in southern Germany 4000 years ago, even within one household, a new study published in the Science finds. Archaeological and archaeogenetic analyses of Bronze Age cemeteries in the Lech Valley, near Augsburg, show that families of biologically related persons with higher status lived together with unrelated women who came from afar and also had a high status, according to their grave goods.


In addition, a larger number of local but clearly less well-off individuals were found in the same cemeteries, which were small gravesites associated with single homesteads. The researchers conclude that social inequality was already part of households structures in that time and region. Whether the less well-off individuals were servants or slaves can only be speculated upon.


In Central Europe, the Bronze Age covers the period from 2200 to 800 BCE. At that time people acquired the ability to cast bronze. This knowledge led to an early globalization, since the raw materials had to be transported across Europe. In an earlier study, the current team had shown that, 4000 years ago, the majority of women in the Lech Valley came from abroad and may have played a decisive role in the transfer of knowledge. Supraregional networks were apparently fostered by marriages and institutionalized forms of mobility.


The current archaeological-scientific project was situated at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and led by Philipp Stockhammer from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich together with Johannes Krause and Alissa Mittnik from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena and the University of Tubingen. The researchers attempted to investigate the effects of this mobility and other concurrent changes.


The excavations south of Augsburg, which took place at the sites of Bronze Age homestead farms and their associated graveyards, enabled archaeologists to zoom into the Bronze Age in unprecedented resolution in order to investigate how the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age affected the households of that time.


«Wealth was correlated with either biological kinship or foreign origin. The nuclear family passed on their property and status over generations. But at every farm we also found poorly equipped people of local origin,» says Philipp Stockhammer, Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at LMU Munich. This finding suggests a complex social structure of households, as is also known from Classical Greece and Rome.


In Roman times, slaves were also part of the family unit, but had a different social status. However, these people in the Lech Valley lived over 1500 years earlier. «This shows how long the history of social inequality in family structures goes back in time,» Stockhammer continues.


Stable social structures over 700 years


It was already known that the first larger hierarchical social structures evolved in the Bronze Age. The findings of the current study were surprising in that social differences existed within a single household and were maintained over generations.


Grave goods can reveal the social status of the deceased to archaeologists. In the Lech Valley, weapons and elaborate jewelry were only found in the graves of closely related family members and women who came into the family from long distances, up to several hundred kilometers away. Other unrelated individuals of local origin were found in the same cemeteries without such high-status grave goods.


This study also succeeded in reconstructing for the first time family trees from prehistoric cemeteries spanning four to five generations. Surprisingly, however, these only included the male lineages. The female descendants apparently left the farms where they reached adulthood. The mothers of the sons, on the other hand, were all women who had moved in from afar.


«Archaeogenetics provides us with a completely new view of the past. Until recently, we would not have thought it possible to examine marriage rules, social structure and social inequality in prehistory,» says Johannes Krause, Director of the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for Human History.


The archaeologists on the project were able to compare the degree of kinship with the grave goods and the location of the graves and show how couples and their children were buried. This was made possible by generating genome-wide data from more than 100 ancient skeletons, which allowed reconstructing family tress from prehistoric bone. Only the genetically unrelated local members of a household were buried without significant grave goods.


«Unfortunately, we cannot say whether these individuals were servants and maids or perhaps even enslaved,» says Alissa Mittnik. «What is certain is that through the male lines, the farmsteads were passed from generation to generation and this system was stable over at least 700 years, across the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age. The Lech Valley shows how early social inequality within individual households can be found.»


Source: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen [October 09, 2019]



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Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos

The excavation conducted this season by the University of Athens at ancient Alasarna (today’s Kardamaina) on Kos is into its 35th year. It is the longest, continuous, systematic archaeological research on the island, as well as one of the most long term university excavations in Greece. Hundreds of Greek and foreign archaeologists have trained there since 1985 to the present, many of whom now are employed at the Archaeological service or teach at Universities in Greece, Cyprus, Poland, Australia and elsewhere.











Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos
Aerial view of the excavation at ancient Alasarna
[Credit: Athens University]

Ancient Alasarna’s advantageous position by the sea, opposite Nisyros and the Knidos peninsula, had attracted inhabitants since antiquity and was associated with the most ancient cult of the Koans, that of their forefather Apollo Pythaius or Pythaeus. For this reason, magnificent buildings in his honour were erected in Hellenistic times, and numerous inscriptions and statues and other offerings were established.











Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos
Building of the Roman era [Credit: Athens University]

After the repeated catastrophic earthquakes that hit the island and the prevailing of Christianity, the sanctuary area was taken over by part of a flourishing early Byzantine settlement that grew in the area, while the excellent quality clay and location of the settlement on the wheat sea route from Egypt in Constantinople led to a new flowering, until the settlement was finally abandoned in the 7th century AD due to raids by the Arabs.











Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos
Clay figurine of cupid [Credit: Athens University]

This year’s excavation team worked for one month. It was headed by Emeritus women Professors G. Kokkorou- Alevra, S. Kalopisi-Verti and M. Panagiotidou-Kesisoglou and was made up of 45 people; PhD holders, postgraduate and graduate students.











Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos
Hellenistic skyphos vase with relief decoration [Credit: Athens University]

The unearthing continued of the monumental enclosure (Building E) which appears to have surrounded a magnificent Hellenistic temple (Building C), possibly that of Apollo as testified by inscriptions, issues were looked into related to the construction and chronology of the Roman temple (Building D) located outside the enclosure and lastly, selected areas were excavated for a fuller understanding of the early Byzantine settlement that had occupied the sanctuary district since 400 AD and perhaps even earlier.











Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos
Roman period oil lamp [Credit: Athens University]

The unearthing of one more Roman building to the west of the Roman temple (Building D) is of particular interest, testifying to a greater flowering of the sanctuary in Roman times than what excavations had shown to date.











Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos
Coin from Augustan era [Credit: Athens University]

The most distinguished of this year’s finds are a clay Cupid figurine, a Hellenistic skyphos vase with relief decoration, oil lamps, a coin from the times of Augustus, architectural members, fragments of frescoed plaster, early Byzantine amphorae with graffiti and more.











Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos
Frescoed plaster from the Roman era [Credit: Athens University]

At the same time, movable and immovable finds from the excavation are being studied, as the volumes that make up the Alasarna series (Thales European Programme of Excellence) continue to be published. To date, this places the University excavation of Kardamaina among the few systematic Greek excavations that provides a series of publications, as is usually the case with excavations conducted by foreign archaeological schools in Greece.











Excavations continued this year at ancient Alasarna on Greek island of Kos
Early Byzantine vase shards with graffiti [Credit: Athens University]

The excavation is supervised by the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Dodecanese and is funded annually by the General Secretariat of the Aegean and Island Policy while receiving increasingly warm support from local authorities, the Kardamaina community and educational and cultural institutions of Kos. The ultimate goal is to promote the site and hand it over to the inhabitants and visitors of the island.


Source: University of Athens [trsl. Archaeology & Arts, October 10, 2019]



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