понедельник, 6 января 2020 г.

2000-year-old measuring table-top discovered in Jerusalem


The top of a rare 2000-year-old measuring table used for liquid items such as wine and olive oil has been discovered in what appears to be a major town square along the Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem, during excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David National Park.

2000-year-old measuring table-top discovered in Jerusalem
The top part of the measuring table [Credit: Ari Levi,
Israel Antiquities Authority]
In addition to the measuring table, tens of stone measurement weights were also discovered in the same vicinity.

These findings all support the theory that this was the location of the main city square and market on route to the Temple during the Second Temple Period, in what was historically known as Jerusalem’s lower city, and it appears that the market served as the focal point of trade and commerce.


Researchers suggest that this area housed the offices of the "Agoranomos" - the officer in charge of supervising measurements and weights in the city of Jerusalem.

According to Prof. Ronny Reich, who is currently researching the recent discovery: "In a portion of the "standard of volumes" table uncovered in the City of David, we see two of the deep cavities remain, each with a drain at its bottom. The drain at the bottom could be plugged with a finger, filled with a liquid of some type, and once the finger was removed, the liquid could be drained into a container, therefore determining the volume of the container, using the measurement table as a uniform guideline. This way, traders could calibrate their measuring instruments using a uniform standard."

2000-year-old measuring table-top discovered in Jerusalem
The bottom part of the measuring table [Credit: Ari Levi,
Israel Antiquities Authority]
Reich adds that "this is a rare find. Other stone artifacts were very popular in Jerusalem during the Second Temple, however so far, excavations in Jerusalem have only uncovered two similar tables that were used for measuring volume - one during the 1970's in the Jewish Quarter excavations, and another in the Shu'afat excavations, in northern Jerusalem."


According to archaeologist Ari Levi of the Israel Antiquities Authority, one of the directors of the excavations of the Pilgrimage Road, "The Pilgrimage Road excavations in the City of David have also uncovered a great number of stone scale-weights measuring different values. The weights found are of the type which was typically used in Jerusalem. The fact that there were city-specific weights at the site indicates the unique features of the economy and trade in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, possibly due to the influence of the Temple itself."

The stone scale-weights have a flat, round shape, and they are made in different sizes, representing different masses.

2000-year-old measuring table-top discovered in Jerusalem
Side view of the measuring table [Credit: Ari Levi,
Israel Antiquities Authority]
According to Reich, more than 90% of all stone weights of this type, totaling several hundreds, were found in archaeological excavations in early Jerusalem dating back to the Second Temple period. Due to this fact, they represent a unique Jerusalem phenomenon.


Israel Antiquities Authority researchers, Nahshon Szanton, Moran Hagbi and Meidad Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who directed the excavations along the Pilgrimage Road on behalf of the Authority, uncovered a large, open paved area dating back some 2000 years, along the street leading up to the Second Temple and suggest that this served as the main square of the lower city, where trade activity would have taken place in this part of the city.

According to Ari Levi, "The volume standard table we've found, as well as the stone weights discovered nearby, support the theory that this was the site of vast trade activity, and perhaps this may indicate the existence of a market."

Prof. Reich adds: "It is possible that this part of the Second Temple-period city housed the office of the inspector of measurements and weights of the city of Jerusalem - a function which was commonplace in other cities throughout the Roman empire in ancient times, known as an Agoranomos."

Source: Arutz Sheva [January 06, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Greek authorities seize rare 6th century BC kouros head in Corinth


Investigators with the Hellenic Police’s (ELAS) department for the protection of cultural heritage and antiquities seized what is believed to be a rare 6th century BC statue fragment during a raid in Corinth, according to an announcement this week.

Greek authorities seize rare 6th century BC kouros head in Corinth
Credit: ANA-MPA


The fragment is a 40 cm head and part of the neck of a larger-than-life kouros, a statue of a young man, dating from the archaic period and considered of tremendous archaeological value because of its age, provenance, details and construction.


The item was found hidden among rocks on a rural road in Nemea in Corinth, during an investigation into a Greek man who was allegedly planning to sell the artifact for 500,000 euros. The suspect has been arrested, while the head has been sent for expert analysis.

Greek authorities seize rare 6th century BC kouros head in Corinth
Credit: Hellenic Police


Earlier this week Greek authorities also arrested a 61-year-old doctor and his 42-year-old wife on charges on antiquities smuggling after finding a Neolithic statue and a classical-era amphora during raids of their home and business.

Greek authorities seize rare 6th century BC kouros head in Corinth
Credit: Hellenic Police
The two objects, which were seized along with an unlicensed flair gun, were sent to experts at the Piraeus ephorates for Antiquities and Underwater Antiquities, where they ascertained that the statue depicts a fertility goddess and is dated to around 4000 BC, while the amphora originates either from the island of Samos or Thasos and dates from between 500 and 400 BC.

The statue will be handed over to the National Archaeological Museum, while the amphora will be placed in the keeping of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.

Source: Kathimerini [December 25, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Early Islamic gold coins found in central Israel


A hoard of gold coins was found last week in Yavneh during excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority prior to the development of a new neighborhood at the behest of the Israel Lands Authority. The archaeologists were surprised to discover a broken clay juglet containing gold coins dating to the Early Islamic period. The excavations revealed an ancient industrial area which was active for several hundred years, and the archaeologists suggest that the shiny treasure may have been a potter’s personal “piggy bank”.

Early Islamic gold coins found in central Israel
The hoard of gold coins dating to the Early Islamic period found in IAA excavations in Yavneh
[Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority/Liat Nadav-Ziv]
“I was in the middle of cataloging a large number of artifacts we found during the excavations when all of a sudden I heard shouts of joy” said Liat Nadav-Ziv, co-director alongside Dr. Elie Haddad of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “I ran towards the shouting and saw Marc Molkondov, a veteran archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, approaching me excitedly. We quickly followed him to the field where we were surprised at the sight of the treasure. This is without a doubt a unique and exciting find especially during the Chanukah? holiday”.


Inspection of the Yavneh gold coins conducted by Dr. Robert Kool, an expert on ancient coins at the Israel Antiquities Authority, dates the coins to the early Abbasid Period (9th century CE). Among the coins, is a gold Dinar from the reign of the Caliph Haroun A-Rashid (786-809 CE), on whom the popular story “Arabian Nights” also known as “One Thousand and One Nights” was based.

Early Islamic gold coins found in central Israel
The gold coins from the Earlier Islamic Period 7th-9th centuries CE, found at a dig in Yavne,
central Israel [Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority/Liat Nadav-Ziv]
“The hoard also includes coins that are rarely found in Israel” says Dr. Kool. “These are gold dinars issued by the Aghlabid dynasty that ruled in North Africa, in the region of modern Tunisia, on behalf of the Abbasid Caliphate centered in Bagdad”. “Without a doubt this is a wonderful Chanukah present for us” concluded Dr. Kool.


The large-scale excavation, carried out southeast of Tel Yavneh, revealed an unusually large amount of pottery kilns that was active at the end of the Byzantine and beginning of the Early Islamic period (7th – 9th centuries CE). The kilns were for commercial production of store-jars, cooking pots and bowls. The gold hoard was found inside a small juglet, near the entrance to one of the kilns and according to the archaeologists could have been the potter’s personal savings.

Early Islamic gold coins found in central Israel
Aerial view of ancient Yavneh and its industrial winery
[Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority/Idan Jonish]
In a different area of the site, the remains of a large industrial installation used for the production of wine dating to the Persian period were revealed (4th – 5th centuries BCE). According to Dr. Haddad of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Initial analysis of the contents of the installation revealed ancient grape pips (seeds). The size and number of vats found at the site indicated that wine was produced on a commercial scale, well beyond the local needs of Yavneh’s ancient inhabitants”.

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs [December 30, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Roman Ladle or Wine Dipper, Auldearn, Inverness Museum and Gallery, Inverness, Scotland, 21.12.19.

Roman Ladle or Wine Dipper, Auldearn, Inverness Museum and Gallery, Inverness, Scotland, 21.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

‘Prehistoric’ burials found in Mandalay


Several burials believed to be from the Bronze and Iron Ages have been found at an archaeological excavation site in Myanmar's Mandalay Region, an official of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum said.

‘Prehistoric’ burials found in Mandalay
Credit: Dept. of Archaeology
The remains were discovered at the site in Kyi Kyi village in the Nwartogyi township in central Mandalay.


U Kyaw Oo Lwin, director general of the department, said that pottery, animal bones, mussel shells, bone and stone beads, and two bronze arrowheads were also recovered from the site.

“We have since re-buried the skeletons after recording the finds,” U Kyaw Oo Lwin added.

This is the first time Bronze and Iron Age finds have been made in Myanmar the archaeologist said.

Source: Myanmar Times [December 31, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Prehistoric Metalwork and Stonework, Inverness Museum and Gallery, Inverness, Scotland, 21.12.19.

Prehistoric Metalwork and Stonework, Inverness Museum and Gallery, Inverness, Scotland, 21.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

2020 January 6 Tumultuous Clouds of Jupiter Image Credit &...



2020 January 6

Tumultuous Clouds of Jupiter
Image Credit & License: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS; Processing: Kevin M. Gill

Explanation: Some cloud patterns on Jupiter are quite complex. The featured tumultuous clouds were captured in May by NASA’s robotic Juno spacecraft currently orbiting our Solar System’s largest planet. The image was taken when Juno was only about 15,000 kilometers over Jupiter’s cloud tops, so close that less than half of the giant planet is visible. The rough white clouds on the far right are high altitude clouds known as pop-up clouds. Juno’s mission, now extended into 2021, is to study Jupiter in new ways. Among many other things, Juno has been measuring Jupiter’s gravitational field, finding surprising evidence that Jupiter may be mostly a liquid.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap200106.html



* This article was originally published here

Early modern humans cooked starchy food in South Africa, 170,000 years ago


"The inhabitants of the Border Cave in the Lebombo Mountains on the Kwazulu-Natal/eSwatini border were cooking starchy plants 170 thousand years ago," says Professor Lyn Wadley, a scientist from the Wits Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa (Wits ESI). "This discovery is much older than earlier reports for cooking similar plants and it provides a fascinating insight into the behavioural practices of early modern humans in southern Africa. It also implies that they shared food and used wooden sticks to extract plants from the ground."

Early modern humans cooked starchy food in South Africa, 170,000 years ago
Border Cave excavation [Credit: Dr. Lucinda Backwell]
"It is extraordinary that such fragile plant remains have survived for so long," says Dr Christine Sievers, a scientist from the University of the Witwatersrand, who completed the archaeobotanical work with Wadley. The underground food plants were uncovered during excavations at Border Cave in the Lebombo Mountains (on the border of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, and eSwatini [formerly Swaziland]), where the team has been digging since 2015.

During the excavation, Wadley and Sievers recognised the small, charred cylinders as rhizomes. All appear to belong to the same species, and 55 charred, whole rhizomes were identified as Hypoxis, commonly called the Yellow Star flower.


"The most likely of the species growing in KwaZulu-Natal today is the slender-leafed Hypoxis angustifolia that is favoured as food," adds Sievers. "It has small rhizomes with white flesh that is more palatable than the bitter, orange flesh of rhizomes from the better known medicinal Hypoxis species (incorrectly called African Potato)."

The Border Cave plant identifications were made on the size and shape of the rhizomes and on the vascular structure examined under a scanning electron microscope. Modern Hypoxis rhizomes and their ancient counterparts have similar cellular structures and the same inclusions of microscopic crystal bundles, called raphides.

The features are still recognisable even in the charred specimens. Over a four-year period, Wadley and Sievers made a collection of modern rhizomes and geophytes from the Lebombo area. "We compared the botanical features of the modern geophytes and the ancient charred specimens, in order to identify them," explains Sievers.

Early modern humans cooked starchy food in South Africa, 170,000 years ago
Hypoxis angustifolia growth habit [Credit: Prof. Lyn Wadley/Wits University]
Hypoxis rhizomes are nutritious and carbohydrate-rich with an energy value of approximately 500 KJ/100g. While they are edible raw, the rhizomes are fibrous and have high fracture toughness until they are cooked. The rhizomes are rich in starch and would have been an ideal staple plant food. "Cooking the fibre-rich rhizomes would have made them easier to peel and to digest so more of them could be consumed and the nutritional benefits would be greater," says Wadley.

Wooden digging sticks used to extract the plants from the ground

"The discovery also implies the use of wooden digging sticks to extract the rhizomes from the ground. One of these tools was found at Border Cave and is directly dated at circa 40,000 years ago," says co-author of the paper and co-director of the excavation, Professor Francesco d'Errico, (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université de Bordeaux, France and University of Bergen, Norway). Dr Lucinda Backwell (Instituto Superior de Estudios Sociales, ISES-CONICET, Tucumán, Argentina) also co-authored the paper and was a co-director of the excavation.


The plants were cooked and shared

The Hypoxis rhizomes were mostly recovered from fireplaces and ash dumps rather than from surrounding sediment. "The Border Cave inhabitants would have dug Hypoxis rhizomes from the hillside near the cave, and carried them back to the cave to cook them in the ashes of fireplaces," says Wadley.

"The fact that they were brought back to the cave rather than cooked in the field suggests that food was shared at the home base. This suggests that the rhizomes were roasted in ashes and that, in the process, some were lost. While the evidence for cooking is circumstantial, it is nonetheless compelling."

Discoveries at Border Cave

This new discovery adds to the long list of important finds at Border Cave. The site has been repeatedly excavated since Raymond Dart first worked there in 1934. Amongst earlier discoveries were the burial of a baby with a Conus seashell at 74,000 years ago, a variety of bone tools, an ancient counting device, ostrich eggshell beads, resin, and poison that may once have been used on hunting weapons.

Early modern humans cooked starchy food in South Africa, 170,000 years ago
Border Cave entrance in the Lebombo Mountains, South Africa
[Credit: Ashley Kruger]
The Border Cave Heritage Site

Border Cave is a heritage site with a small site museum. The cave and museum are open to the public, though bookings are essential [Olga Vilane (+27) (0) 72 180 4332]. Wadley and her colleagues hope that the Border Cave discovery will emphasise the importance of the site as an irreplaceable cultural resource for South Africa and the rest of the world.


About Hypoxis angustifolia

Hypoxis angustifolia is evergreen, so it has visibility year-round, unlike the more common deciduous Hypoxis species. It thrives in a variety of modern habitats and is thus likely to have had wide distribution in the past as it does today.

It occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, south Sudan, some Indian Ocean islands, and as far afield as Yemen. Its presence in Yemen may imply even wider distribution of this Hypoxis plant during previous humid conditions. Hypoxis angustifolia rhizomes grow in clumps so many can be harvested at once.

"All of the rhizome's attributes imply that it could have provided a reliable, familiar food source for early humans trekking within Africa, or even out of Africa," said Lyn Wadley. Hunter-gatherers tend to be highly mobile so the wide distribution of a potential staple plant food would have ensured food security.

The findings are published in Science.

Source: Wits University [January 02, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Lichens on Stone, Inverness Museum and Gallery, Inverness, Scotland, 21.12.19.

Lichens on Stone, Inverness Museum and Gallery, Inverness, Scotland, 21.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

Researchers learn more about teen-age T.Rex


Without a doubt, Tyrannosaurus rex is the most famous dinosaur in the world. The 40-foot-long predator with bone crushing teeth inside a five-foot long head are the stuff of legend. Now, a look within the bones of two mid-sized, immature T. rex allow scientists to learn about the tyrant king's terrible teens as well.

Researchers learn more about teen-age T.Rex
The skull of the juvenile T. rex, "Jane", was slender with knife-like teeth, having not yet grown
big enough to crush bone [Credit: Scott A. Williams]
In the early 2000s, the fossil skeletons of two comparatively small T. rex were collected from Carter County, Montana, by Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Illinois. Nicknamed "Jane" and "Petey," the tyrannosaurs would have been slightly taller than a draft horse and twice as long.

The team led by Holly Woodward, Ph.D., from Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences studied Jane and Petey to better understand T. rex life history.

The study "Growing up Tyrannosaurus rex: histology refutes pygmy 'Nanotyrannus' and supports ontogenetic niche partitioning in juvenile Tyrannosaurus" appears in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances.


"Historically, many museums would collect the biggest, most impressive fossils of a dinosaur species for display and ignore the others," said Woodward. "The problem is that those smaller fossils may be from younger animals. So, for a long while we've had large gaps in our understanding of how dinosaurs grew up, and T. rex is no exception."

The smaller size of Jane and Petey is what make them so incredibly important. Not only can scientists now study how the bones and proportions changed as T. rex matured, but they can also utilize paleohistology-- the study of fossil bone microstructure-- to learn about juvenile growth rates and ages. Woodward and her team removed thin slices from the leg bones of Jane and Petey and examined them at high magnification.

"To me, it's always amazing to find that if you have something like a huge fossilized dinosaur bone, it's fossilized on the microscopic level as well," Woodward said. "And by comparing these fossilized microstructures to similar features found in modern bone, we know they provide clues to metabolism, growth rate, and age."

Researchers learn more about teen-age T.Rex
Juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex were fleet-footed with knife-like teeth, dominating the mid-carnivore niche before
 growing up to become the giant, bone-crushing King of Dinosaurs [Credit: Julius T. Csotonyi]
The team determined that the small T. rex were growing as fast as modern-day warm-blooded animals such as mammals and birds. Woodward and her colleagues also found that by counting the annual rings within the bone, much like counting tree rings, Jane and Petey were teenaged T.rex when they died; 13 and 15 years old, respectively.

There had been speculation that the two small skeletons weren't T. rex at all, but a smaller pygmy relative Nanotyrannus. Study of the bones using histology led the researchers to the conclusion that the skeletons were juvenile T. rex and not a new pygmy species.


Instead, Woodward points out, because it took T. rex up to twenty years to reach adult size, the tyrant king probably underwent drastic changes as it matured. Juveniles such as Jane and Petey were fast, fleet footed, and had knife-like teeth for cutting, whereas adults were lumbering bone crushers. Not only that, but Woodward's team discovered that growing T. rex could do a neat trick: if its food source was scarce during a particular year, it just didn't grow as much. And if food was plentiful, it grew a lot.

"The spacing between annual growth rings record how much an individual grows from one year to the next. The spacing between the rings within Jane, Petey, and even older individuals is inconsistent - some years the spacing is close together, and other years it's spread apart," said Woodward.

The research by Woodward and her team writes a new chapter in the early years of the world's most famous dinosaur, providing evidence that it assumed the crown of tyrant king long before it reached adult size.

Source: Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences [January 01, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Irish Sea at Mynydd y Graig Ancient Hill Fort, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 5.1.20.Over the past...

Irish Sea at Mynydd y Graig Ancient Hill Fort, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 5.1.20.

Over the past three days I have tried to seek out some of the less well known Prehistoric and ancient sites of North Wales. I always like the road less travelled. My journey has taken me to over thirty stunning locations although I did succumb to some well known places too. Hopefully I’ll post some of these locations over the next couple of weeks…



* This article was originally published here

First survey campaign at Amargeti in Paphos completed


The Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works announced the completion of the first archaeological survey campaign of Graz University (Austria) in Amargeti, Paphos District, under the direction of Dr. Gabriele Koiner. The survey was conducted from 22 to 29 October 2019, in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities and the Cyprus University of Technology.

First survey campaign at Amargeti in Paphos completed
Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus
The survey team consisted of the following professionals: Gabriele Koiner, Eva Christof, Ute Lohner-Urban, Alexandra Puhm, Sabine Sturmann (archaeologists), Rainer Morawetz and Andreas Milchrahm (geophysics), Vasiliki Lysandrou and Athos Agapiou (Cyprus University of Technology, Lemesos) (Remote sensing) and Andreas Papachristodoulou (Paphos) (land survey).


The survey project aims at the systematic and interdisciplinary investigation of the archaeological landscape and remains of Amargeti, as well as the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage for the benefit of the people of Amargeti and society in general. The archaeological aims shall be achieved by documenting surface finds, detecting and analysing subsurface structures by geophysical methods and remote sensing.

First survey campaign at Amargeti in Paphos completed
Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus


The first campaign focused on a general analysis of the cultural landscape of Amargeti as well as on intensive field walking at the locales of Asomatos and Petros Anthropos. The collected finds range from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine period.

The survey team was supported by the President of the Local Community of  Amargeti, Androulla Dimitriou, and the inhabitants of Amargeti. The team was warmly hosted by Yiota Kaizer, Kaizer Agrotourism. It is hoped that future fieldwork, which will be conducted in 2020, will enhance our knowledge on the archaeological landscape of Amargeti.

Source: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus [January 03, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Swords and spears of long-forgotten warrior tribe found in medieval cemetery


Archaeologists have discovered rare swords, spears and knives among hundreds of items belonging to a long-disappeared people famed for their warrior culture in the Suwałki region of eastern Poland.

Swords and spears of long-forgotten warrior tribe found in medieval cemetery
Some of the ancient weapons unearthed from the site of the cemetery
[Credit: Jakub Mikołajczuk/Muzeum Okręgowe w Suwałkach]
The weapons were among 500 items dating back around 1,000 years dug up on the site of a cemetery belonging to the Yotvingians.


A Baltic people the Yotvingians had cultural ties to the Lithuanians and Prussians. Occupying an area of land that now straddles parts of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus they spoke a language related to Old Prussian but were, over time, absorbed into the larger Slavic and Germanic groups that surrounded them.

They were famed for their warrior culture and were regarded as good fighters and hunters.

The new find, described by archaeologists as the “biggest Yotvingian cemetery from the early Middle Ages,” has helped historians gain fresh information on an ancient people long lost to time.

Swords and spears of long-forgotten warrior tribe found in medieval cemetery
A map showing the ancient land of the Yotvingians
[Credit: MapMaster]
“The area is very rich in Yotvingian culture and rituals,” Jerzy Siemaszko, an archaeologist from the Suwałki District Museum, told PAP. “Getting to the items has been quite easy because they are in a layer about 20-30 centimetres beneath the surface of the ground.


“The area was used by the Yotvingians in the early Middle Ages, between the 11th and 13th centuries,” he added. “It was the site of very unusual crematory cemetery where the remains of funeral pyres were dumped along with gifts for the dead.”

Excitement generated by the find has, however, been tempered by the fact that treasure hunters appeared to have got there first, stealing an estimated 1,000 items despite the fact that such actions are illegal and bring with them a stint in prison of up to 10 years.

The area of the find is now secured and its whereabouts kept secret to prevent further robbery.

Author: Matt Day | Source: The First News [January 05, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

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