суббота, 28 декабря 2019 г.

Monumental doors of Florence Baptistry finally reunited after 40 years of restoration


The three massive sets of doors from the Florence Baptistry, which had been separated for nearly 30 years for restoration work, are now back together at the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, the vestry in which the Duomo, the Cupola del Brunelleschi, the Campanile di Giotto, and the Baptistry take part.

Monumental doors of Florence Baptistry finally reunited after 40 years of restoration
Credit: Opera del Duomo Florence/Claudio Giovannini
The bronze masterpieces measure about 5 metres tall and 3 metres wide, and were made between 1330 and 1452.


Visitors can now admire the doors next to each other in the museum's Sala del Paradiso, the same place that already held the two sets of doors made by Lorenzo Ghiberti, the north and east doors.

Monumental doors of Florence Baptistry finally reunited after 40 years of restoration
Credit: Opera del Duomo Florence/Claudio Giovannini
The east doors, which are the more recent and more famous of the sets, are known as the Gates of Paradise and were allegedly given their name by Michelangelo due to their beauty.

Now the south doors, the oldest of the three, have also arrived. Those doors were made by Andrea Pisano, a student and collaborator of Giotto.

Monumental doors of Florence Baptistry finally reunited after 40 years of restoration
Credit: Opera del Duomo Florence/Claudio Giovannini
The restoration work on the south doors, like that for the other two sets, was performed by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence. The 1.5-million-euro cost of the restoration was financed by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore.


The return of the south doors marks the completion of a restoration project that began in 1978, when the first work started on the Gates of Paradise - finished only in 2012, due to its complexity - the first to be removed from its original location in 1990.

Monumental doors of Florence Baptistry finally reunited after 40 years of restoration
Credit: Opera del Duomo Florence/Claudio Giovannini
Restoration on the south doors took three years, the same as for the north doors, to bring back to light what remained of its beautiful gilding.

In the lower section, for example, some areas of gilding had been worn down by contact with hands over time.

Monumental doors of Florence Baptistry finally reunited after 40 years of restoration
Credit: Opera del Duomo Florence/Claudio Giovannini
In addition, the restoration brought back marvelous details in the sculptural areas made with such passionate care that they almost seem like a prayer.


The recently restored set of doors was created by Pisano between 1330 and 1336. They are made up of 28 panels, 20 of which depict scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist and eight with emblematic figures, interspersed with 74 friezes.

Monumental doors of Florence Baptistry finally reunited after 40 years of restoration
Credit: Opera del Duomo Florence/Claudio Giovannini
There are also 48 lions' heads, the symbol of Florence, one of which was lost in the 1966 flood, which severely damaged the three sets of doors of the Baptistry, which Dante affectionately referred to in his Divine Comedy as "my beautiful Saint John".

After Pisano completed the south set of doors, he was entrusted with the most important Florentine sculptures of the century.

Monumental doors of Florence Baptistry finally reunited after 40 years of restoration
Credit: Opera del Duomo Florence/Claudio Giovannini
Following Giotto's death, he was charged with continuing the works on the Campanile, where, with the help of his collaborators, he completed eight of the large statues and 48 of the 52 reliefs.

The originals of those are also on display at the Museo dell'Opera.

Source: ANSA [December 10, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Канадский ледяной венец Хельмкен-Фолс

Зимний водопад Хельмкен-Фолс  ледяной венец  один из 39 водопадов в провинциальном парке Уэллс-Грей, Канада, континента Северная Америка

Helmcken Falls is a 141 m (463 ft) waterfall on the Murtle River within Wells Gray Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. During winter, it often showcases a crown of ice around its base which looks like a massive "snow crater" http://ow.ly/2QHz50xI5rS
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1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China


A tomb dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) was discovered in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the province's archaeology institute said Tuesday.

1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
Credit: ChinaNews
The tomb, found in Yancun Village, Xixian New District, is believed to belong to Xue Shao, the first husband of Princess Taiping, daughter of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty.


The Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology worked on the excavation of the tomb from August to December this year, and unearthed a total of 120 relics, most of which are painted pottery figures.

1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
Credit: ChinaNews


1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
1,300-year-old royal tomb discovered in NW China
Credit: ChinaNews
A well-preserved 600-word epigraph was also found on a square stone with a length of 73 cm on each side, which records Xue Shao's pedigree, government post, cause of death, burial time, offspring and other information.


The tomb, 23 km from the site of the ancient city of Chang'an, known as Xi'an today, faces south and is 34.68 meters long and 11.11 meters deep, said Li Ming, a researcher with the institute.


The discovery fills an important gap as there is no biography for Xue Shao in the "Old Book of Tang" and the "New Book of Tang," two classic pieces recording the Tang Dynasty's history, and helps the study of the epigraphs and the tomb layouts, as well as the political culture of the period, Li said.

Source: Xinhua News Agency [December 17, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Otzi’s bowstring and the oldest hunting equipment from the Neolithic


Swiss researchers are astounded to have identified Otzi’s bowstring. Even though the Iceman had still been working on his bow, he carried a finished twisted string in his quiver which was made of animal fibers and not of plant fibers. It is elastic, extremely resilient, and is therefore ideal as a bowstring. An extensive research project was carried out by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) which examined materials of Neolithic bows and arrows in detail for the first time. These were then compared to Otzi’s equipment.For the Archaeology Museum, the results of the study mean another record: Otzi’s artfully twisted cord and his hunting equipment are the world’s oldest preserved examples from the Neolithic.

Otzi’s bowstring and the oldest hunting equipment from the Neolithic
Wrapped cord made of animal leg sinew (left), animal sinew bundle (right)
[Credit: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/H. Wisthaler]
While arrows and arrowheads are relatively common finds worldwide, complete sets of hunting equipment consisting of bows, arrows, and sometimes even quivers are extremely rare and are only known from glacier finds of the Alpine arch. In Europe there have only been three instances of bowstrings being preserved.


Combining previous finds of bows and arrows discovered across all of Europe with the most recent comparisons from Switzerland (Bronze Age finds from Schnidejoch and Lotschenpass), it has now been possible to examine the materials, size, and construction techniques of prehistoric hunting equipment in detail for the first time. The authors of the study, Jurgen Junkmanns (Germany), Giovanna Klugl (Switzerland), Werner Schoch (Switzerland), Giovanna Di Pietro (Switzerland), Albert Hafner (Switzerland), obtained a microscopic fiber sample from Otzi’s bowstring for their comparative study.

Prehistoric bowstrings are among the rarest of all finds in archaeological excavations. The cord contained in Otzi’s quiver may be the oldest preserved bowstring in the world. It has a diameter of 4 mm and is comprised of three strands which are very uniformly and finely twisted. The Swiss study was able to prove that leg sinews of an indeterminate species were processed as fibers and the cord was therefore particularly well suited for use as a bowstring.

Otzi’s bowstring and the oldest hunting equipment from the Neolithic
Otzi’s arrows [Credit: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/H. Wisthaler]
Previously, research had been done on plant fibers that would not have proven successful as a bowstring. The cord measures almost 2 metres and would have been long enough for Otzi’s unfinished bow. If stretched out, the elastic string would only measure about 2-3 mm in diameter, which would have fit perfectly in the notches (nocks) on the arrows in Otzi’s quiver. The Iceman had wound the cord bundle into an S-shape and tied a knot at one end.


Another bundle made of animal leg sinews found in the quiver was possibly meant to be used as replacement material for another bowstring.

Otzi’s 1.83 m long, unfinished bow made of yew (Taxus baccata) gave a unique, informative glimpse into how Neolithic bows were manufactured. The bow was first freshly cut from an 8-10 cm thick yew tree. He had already made good progress with his work, but the bow probably needed to be shortened and thinned. The best shooting results are obtained when the bow approximately corresponds to the height of the archer. For Otzi that would have been approximately 1.60m.

Otzi’s bowstring and the oldest hunting equipment from the Neolithic
Otzi’s arrow quiver [Credit: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/H. Wisthaler]
The investigation was able to establish that Otzi’s bow had been worked with a hatchet from both directions. Whether this had been done by Otzi himself cannot be determined. The question of how to work the ends of the bow to fasten the string also remains open. Junkmanns proposed the hypothesis that Otzi could have purchased the rough bow on the way, which would possibly explain why he had an unfinished bow with him in the high mountains.


Even the Iceman’s quiver is the only known Neolithic carrying case for arrows. It is 86 cm long and stitched from doeskin (Rupicapra rupicapra). One side of the quiver is reinforced with a hazel wood stick. At the upper end of the quiver a flap of stiffened leather protected the arrows carried within. If required, it could be opened very quickly and an arrow could be pulled out with a single motion of the arm.

The quiver’s interior held 14 arrows, two of which were ready to fire and complete with arrowheads and fletching. They represent the best preserved examples of Neolithic arrow production in Europe. Neolithic arrows were most often made from branches of suitable bushes like hazel (Corylus avellana) or, as with Otzi, from the branches of the wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana).

Otzi’s bowstring and the oldest hunting equipment from the Neolithic
Yew stave that was Otzi’s unfinished longbow [Credit: South Tyrol Museum
of Archaeology/H. Wisthaler]
Three feather halves were attached to the end of Otzi’s arrows with birch tar glue and bound with thin nettle fibers. They represent the only preserved fletchings in Europe. The three-part, radially-placed fletching for stabilizing the arrow during flight has remained virtually unchanged since the Neolithic.

The study is published in the Journal of Neolithic Archaeology.

Source: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology [December 18, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Archaeologists uncover part of 16th-century ship in central Stockholm


Over the past year, work has been going on in the Kungstradgarden area to strengthen the foundations of a building belonging to the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ).

Archaeologists uncover part of 16th-century ship in central Stockholm
Archaeologists Daniel Matsenius and Philip Tonemar investigate the wreckage of the Samson
cargo ship built in 1598 found in the heart of Stockholm [Credit: Arkeologikonsult]
Archaeologists routinely check this kind of work, in case any archaeologically important discoveries might be made.


And in this case, that's exactly what happened. Under the courtyard, parts of an old wooden hull were found, which were then analysed by marine archaeologists.

Archaeologists uncover part of 16th-century ship in central Stockholm
Detail from the Samson wreck [Credit: VRAK Museum]
The parts are thought to have come from a ship called Samson, which was commissioned by Charles IX of Sweden in the late 1500s, and the rings on the wood date the parts back to the 1590s.


"A find from this transition period between the old and new era of shipbuilding is very unusual. There are actually no other direct examples," said Philip Tonemar, an archaeologist who was asked to carry out the survey by the municipality. "It's fantastically fun to make a discovery like this. This will never happen to me again," he added.

Archaeologists uncover part of 16th-century ship in central Stockholm
Reconstruction of a section of the ship Samson with the remains
marked in yellow [Credit: VRAK Museum]
The fact the ship was built entirely in pine, with detailed design work, makes it especially unusual. Samson was over 30 meters long, and is mentioned briefly in records about its construction and journeys, but disappears from the archives after 1607.


"When the ship was abandoned in the early 1600s, it was probably stripped of material, chopped up and left on the shore," said Tonemar. "We have found rubbish from residents in the area that was thrown directly over the ship."


These finds include coins, glass, ceramics, and a small clay ball that may have been a child's toy.

The area east of Kungstradgarden was water-filled well into modern times, making it a prime area for such discoveries.

Source: The Local [December 19, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

2019 December 28 A Distorted Sunrise Eclipse Image Credit &...



2019 December 28

A Distorted Sunrise Eclipse
Image Credit & Copyright: Elias Chasiotis

Explanation: Yes, but have you ever seen a sunrise like this? Here, after initial cloudiness, the Sun appeared to rise in two pieces and during partial eclipse, causing the photographer to describe it as the most stunning sunrise of his life. The dark circle near the top of the atmospherically-reddened Sun is the Moon – but so is the dark peak just below it. This is because along the way, the Earth’s atmosphere had an inversion layer of unusually warm air which acted like a gigantic lens and created a second image. For a normal sunrise or sunset, this rare phenomenon of atmospheric optics is known as the Etrucan vase effect. The featured picture was captured two mornings ago from Al Wakrah, Qatar. Some observers in a narrow band of Earth to the east were able to see a full annular solar eclipse – where the Moon appears completely surrounded by the background Sun in a ring of fire. The next solar eclipse, also an annular eclipse, will occur in 2020 June.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191228.html



* This article was originally published here

Achavrail Armlet, (Bronze 1st or 2nd Century CE), Inverness Museum and Gallery, 21.12.19.

Achavrail Armlet, (Bronze 1st or 2nd Century CE), Inverness Museum and Gallery, 21.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

2019 excavations in Nea Paphos concluded


The Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project recently conducted its 19th excavation season at the World Heritage listed site of the Hellenistic-Roman theatre of Nea Paphos. Nea Paphos was the capital of Cyprus during the Ptolemaic and Early Roman periods and the theatre was one of the grandest public buildings in the city. It was constructed in c. 300 BC during the foundation of the city, and was used for performance and spectacles for more than six centuries until its destruction by earthquake in around 365 AD. Considerable Late Antiquity, Medieval and post-Medieval activity on the site of the former theatre has also been subject to the investigations.

2019 excavations in Nea Paphos concluded
Drone image of the Paphos Theatre site [Credit: Dr Rowan Conroy]
 2019 was one of the project’s largest seasons: more than 70 archaeologists, specialists, students and contributing volunteers toiled away on the site, opening a number of trenches. And the results? Well, analysis of finds and trenches is still continuing but as a result of the endeavours of the team we now know a number of new things about the ancient theatre and its surroundings.


A wide paved road of the 2nd century AD was the major decumanus [east-west running thoroughfare of a Roman city] of Nea Paphos. The road was paved, colonnaded and had a major drainage system running beneath it. It was also more than 8 and a half metres wide and wheel ruts suggest that it was used for vehicular traffic.

2019 excavations in Nea Paphos concluded
Trench 19C [Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus]
It also sloped considerably between the east (where it accessed the city’s gate) and towards the west where it would have intersected with a colonnaded cardo [north-south running main road]. The slope is 1.98 metres over a distance of approximately 50 metres.


The road was eventually covered by walls and structures collapsed as a result of earthquakes, and later filled with architectural elements taken from the theatre as it was stripped of stone in Late Antiquity. In 2019 another marble Corinthian capital and a three-metre length of a Troad granite column were recovered from above the road pavers.

2019 excavations in Nea Paphos concluded
Drone image of the Decumanus [Credit: Dr Rowan Conroy]
Excavations to the south of the road this season have confirmed the long-suspected dimensions of the insula blocks that this road network served. Investigations 30 metres to the south of the paved road revealed a wall and the surface of another street, although nowhere as ordered as the paved roads of the decumanus. The function of the building or buildings between the two still remains unknown and will be investigated in future seasons. We also now know the drainage system associated with the paved road is more complex than we initially thought.


There were other important trenches opened during 2019, elsewhere on the theatre and nearby. As always with excavations as one question is answered, the soil reveals a dozen new questions. This season uncovered some exciting finds: our first ever example of egg-and-dart moulding on a Roman limestone architectural element, a fragment of a Roman inscription written in Greek, fragments of Late Hellenistic or early Roman painted plaster from the wall of a building, and an intact medieval vase which created much excitement amongst the team. We shall return in our next season to try and answer some of these new questions!

2019 excavations in Nea Paphos concluded
Vase being excavated [Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus]
The work of the Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project is only possible because of the support of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens and the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney. The team excavates under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus.

Source: Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens [December 17, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Bronze Age Forest Clearance Remains (Roots from 4000yr old Scots Pine from upland bog cut with a...

Bronze Age Forest Clearance Remains (Roots from 4000yr old Scots Pine from upland bog cut with a bronze axe), Inverness Museum and Gallery, Inverness, Scotland, 21.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

Ancient Roman culinary preferences revealed in Ashkelon excavation


Archaeological excavations conducted by the IAA near Ashkelon uncovered an ancient industrial area with winepresses and rarely discovered installations for producing a popular fish sauce, the preparation of which involved strong odours.

Ancient Roman culinary preferences revealed in Ashkelon excavation
The Ashkelon first century garum-production site
[Credit: Asaf Peretz, IAA]


Vats used to produce fish sauce (garum) that are among the few known in the Eastern Mediterranean, were recently uncovered by the Israel AntiquitiesAuthority  in Ashkelon. The excavation, underwritten by the Municipality of Ashkelon and the Ashkelon Economic Co. in preparation for the establishment of the Eco-Sport Park, has revealed evidence of 2000-year old Roman and Byzantine culinary preferences. Youths of the Kibbutz Movement from Kibbutz Yad Mordecai and pupils from the Makif Vav middle school located next to the project participated in the excavation.

Ancient Roman culinary preferences revealed in Ashkelon excavation
The Byzantine wine-producing kilns
[Credit: : Asaf Peretz, IAA]
According to Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini from the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Long before pasta and pizza, the ancient Roman diet was based largely on fish sauce. Historical sources refer to the production of special fish sauce, that was used as a basic condiment for food in the Roman and Byzantine eras throughout the Mediterranean basin. They report that the accompanying strong odors during its production required its being distanced from urban areas and this was found to be the case since the installations were discovered approximately 2 km. from ancient Ashkelon.”

Ancient Roman culinary preferences revealed in Ashkelon excavation
Byzantine-era winepresses at the Ashkelon site
[Credit: Asaf Peretz, IAA]


Dr. Erickson-Gini adds: “This is a rare find in our region and very few installations of this kind have been found in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ancient sources even refer to the production of Jewish garum. The discovery of this kind of installation in Ashkelon evinces that the Roman tastes that spread throughout the empire were not confined to dress but also included dietary habits.”

Ancient Roman culinary preferences revealed in Ashkelon excavation
Marble fragments from decoration of the Byzantine church near Ashkelon
[Credit: Anat Rasiuk, IAA]
The Roman site was eventually abandoned but the conditions that favored viticulture remained and in the Byzantine period in the 5th c. CE a monastic community began to thrive there, making a living from wine production: three winepresses were built next to an elaborately decorated church. Little of the church has survived but architectural fragments found at the site show that it was decorated with impressive marble and mosaics. A large kiln complex was located nearby that produced wine jars. These appear to have been used for exporting wine, which was the primary income for the monastery. 

Ancient Roman culinary preferences revealed in Ashkelon excavation
Work in the Ashkelon excavation
[Credit: Anat Rasiuk, IAA]
Dr Erickson-Gini: “The site, which served as an industrial area over several periods, was again abandoned sometime after the Islamic conquest of the region in 7th c. CE and later nomadic families, probably residing in tents, dismantled the structures and sold the different parts for building material elsewhere.”


Evidence of this activity was found in the vats of the winepresses, which were turned into refuse pits containing the bones of large pack animals, such as donkeys and camels.


The excavation, underwritten by the Ashkelon Economic Co., was conducted to facilitate the establishment of the large Eco-Sport Park that will include an artificial lake, an athletic stadium and other facilities for the residents of Ashkelon.

Ashkelon mayor Tomer Glam said, “Ashkelon is one of the most ancient cities in the world and from time to time we find additional proof of that. The recent excavation in one of its beautiful new neighborhoods produces a combination of the city’s rich past, its present development and its future progress.”

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



* This article was originally published here

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