понедельник, 13 января 2020 г.

Oldest known city view of Venice discovered

A researcher from the University of St Andrews has unearthed the oldest known city view of Venice, dating from the 14th century.

Oldest known city view of Venice discovered
Image of Venice supplied by the Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, II.IV.101, fol. 1v. With permission of the
Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali e per il turismo [Credit: Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence]
The discovery, by Dr. Sandra Toffolo from the School of History, was made during research for her monograph “Describing the City, Describing the State. Representations of Venice and the Venetian Terraferma in the Renaissance,” which will be published in early 2020.

The image is part of a manuscript containing the travel account of Niccolò da Poggibonsi, an Italian pilgrim who traveled to Jerusalem in 1346-1350. The manuscript was likely made shortly after he returned to Italy in 1350. During his pilgrimage, Niccolò passed through Venice and his description of the city is accompanied by a pen drawing of Venice.

Dr. Toffolo, who specializes in the history of Venice in the Renaissance, discovered the image in May 2019 during her research in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence, and has worked on representations of Venice during the Renaissance for several years.

When Dr. Toffolo discovered the image, she realized that the city view of Venice predates all previously known views of the city, excluding maps and portolan charts. The oldest extant map of Venice was made by Fra Paolino, a Franciscan friar from Venice, and dates from around 1330. Since the discovery, Dr. Toffolo has spent the last several months verifying the image through consulting books, manuscripts and articles.

A series of small pinpricks discovered on the original manuscript image also suggests that the city view was more widely circulated. This technique was used to copy images: powder was sifted through the pinpricks onto another surface, thereby transferring the outlines of the image.

Dr. Toffolo said: “The presence of these pinpricks is a strong indication that this city view was copied. Indeed, there are several images in manuscripts and early printed books that are clearly based on the image in the manuscript in Florence.

“The discovery of this city view has great consequences for our knowledge of depictions of Venice, since it shows that the city of Venice already from a very early period held a great fascination for contemporaries.”

Source: University of St Andrews [January 07, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

US returns 3,500 copper axe 'coins' to Mexico

The United States returned a collection of over 3,500 pre-Hispanic copper coins to Mexican authorities in a ceremony in Miami on Monday.

US returns 3,500 copper axe 'coins' to Mexico
Credit: Giorgio Viera/EFE
The coins were used in what are now Michoacán and Guerrero between the years 1200 and 1500, according to Jessica Cascante, spokesperson for the Mexican Consulate in Miami.

A U.S. collector acquired them in Texas at a numismatic fair in the 1960s, she said, but at that time neither Mexico nor the United States was part of a UNESCO convention that guarantees the return of such heritage artifacts to their countries of origin.

US returns 3,500 copper axe 'coins' to Mexico
Credit: Giorgio Viera/EFE
Cascante said the fragile, tongue-shaped coins, which are currently covered in verdigris, will be sent to Mexico in January.

Agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) who headed the operation to recover the coins attended the presentation ceremony along with the Consul General of Mexico in Miami, Jonathan Chait.

US returns 3,500 copper axe 'coins' to Mexico
Credit: Giorgio Viera/EFE
Mexican authorities notified the FBI of the existence of the coins in 2013 when they were taken to Spain for an auction. Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) then began authenticating the coins in order to request their return.

As both countries were by then signatories to the UNESCO convention (Mexico in 1972 and the United States in 1983), the return process was completed six years later.

US returns 3,500 copper axe 'coins' to Mexico
Credit: Giorgio Viera/EFE
Cascante did not divulge the name of the collector who obtained the coins in the 1960s, but said that he did so before it constituted a crime and turned them in voluntarily.

“Now we’re just waiting for the physical material to arrive [in Mexico],” she said, adding that they are currently being packaged with the support of specialists from history museums in Florida.

Source: Mexico News Daily [January 07, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

Unexpected cemetery found in central Trondheim

During the archaeological excavations in Kjøpmannsgata in the summer, somewhat unexpected traces of a large cemetery from the Middle Ages appeared.

Unexpected cemetery found in central Trondheim
One of the fourteen individual graves [Credit: NIKU]
Throughout 2019, excavation work has been taking place in connection with new construction projects in Kjøpmannsgata. As with all new builds in Norway, an archaeological examination of the site in central Trondheim has taken place.

The surprising finds continue

An unelected cemetery has been the highlight of the work so far. It’s surprising not only for its location, but for its size. To date, 15 individual graves and three pit graves have been found.

Heads were turned last summer when one of these pits was uncovered. It contained the human remains of an estimated 200 people. It is believed these remains were excavated from other cemeteries and reburied here during development work sometime in the 17th century. Two more pit graves have since been found.

Unexpected cemetery found in central Trondheim
Overview of excavation site in historic Trondheim
[Credit: NIKU]
As it doesn’t appear on any maps, it is not yet known when this cemetery was built or for how long it has been in use. These are some of the questions archaeologists are hoping to answer during the investigation.

A team from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) is currently working on the site of the former Kjøpmannsgata cemetery under a heated tent.

Studying the cemetery

Archaeologists are closely studying a 12-square-metre area of the cemetery. Although 15 graves have been found so far, they expect the final count to be up to 30. Of those found far, seven were adults, five were children, with three yet to be excavated.

Unexpected cemetery found in central Trondheim
Trench with postholes [Credit: NIKU]
“There are probably even more graves further down. All of these individual graves are in situ, i.e. located in the same place as when they were buried, but several have been partially destroyed. In many cases only the upper body has been preserved. The lower half can be cut by, for example, other graves being laid over or by later excavation work.” Those were the words of NIKU project manager Silje Rullestad.

The cemetery has been clearly impacted by several stages of building work, but the team can nevertheless see a clear structure. The northern boundary of the area appears to be marked by a ditch, while four post holes suggest a clear boundary mark.

Two new pit graves discovered

“This collection and re-burial of bones must have been an extensive job,” says archaeologist Monica Svendsen. She is responsible for the digital mapping and documentation of the excavation.

Unexpected cemetery found in central Trondheim
The team of NIKU archaeologists are currently working in Trondheim
[Credit: NIKU]
She explains that all three pits consist of deep wooden boxes filled with human bones. They Re placed parallel to the trench that archaeologists assume marks the medieval demarcation of the cemetery.

Survey of conservation conditions for human bones

At the same time as the cemetery excavation is underway, a survey will also be conducted. In collaboration with COWI, NIKU will systematically take samples of soil and human bones to survey soil and biochemical conditions in the cemetery soil.

“From the archaeological excavation of the St. Clement’s Church churchyard, large variations in the degree of conservation of the skeletons were observed. We also see the same here in Kjøpmannsgata. Using the study, we will try to map out why the differences in conservation conditions vary within small distances,” says Rullestad.

The survey could provide a better understanding of the conditions that affect the preservation of human remains.

Author: David Nikel | Source: Life in Norway [January 09, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

2020 January 13 A Desert Eclipse Image Credit & Copyright:...

2020 January 13

A Desert Eclipse
Image Credit & Copyright: Maxime Daviron

Explanation: A good place to see a ring-of-fire eclipse, it seemed, would be from a desert. In a desert, there should be relatively few obscuring clouds and trees. Therefore late last December a group of photographers traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Rub al-Khali, the largest continuous sand desert in world, to capture clear images of an unusual eclipse that would be passing over. A ring-of-fire eclipse is an annular eclipse that occurs when the Moon is far enough away on its elliptical orbit around the Earth so that it appears too small, angularly, to cover the entire Sun. At the maximum of an annular eclipse, the edges of the Sun can be seen all around the edges of the Moon, so that the Moon appears to be a dark spot that covers most – but not all – of the Sun. This particular eclipse, they knew, would peak soon after sunrise. After seeking out such a dry and barren place, it turned out that some of the most interesting eclipse images actually included a tree in the foreground, because, in addition to the sand dunes, the tree gave the surreal background a contrasting sense of normalcy, scale, and texture.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap200113.html

* This article was originally published here

1800-year-old inscribed votive stele found at Hadrianopolis in Paphlagonia

An ancient votive stele dating back around 1,800 years was unearthed in Turkey's northern Karabuk province.

1800-year-old inscribed votive stele found at Hadrianopolis in Paphlagonia
Credit: AA
The limestone slab that had a silhouette of a woman on it was found during excavation works in Church C and the necropolis in the ancient city of Hadrianopolis – now located 3 kilometers east of the Eskipazar district of the Karabuk province.

Faculty Member of the Department of Archaeology of Karabuk University (KBU) Ersin Celikbas said that the stele has an inscription in Greek reading: "Herakleides, son of Glaukos, presented this."

1800-year-old inscribed votive stele found at Hadrianopolis in Paphlagonia
Credit: AA
"The slab has a figure of a woman on it wearing a traditional dress, holding ears of wheat in her right hand and wearing a belt with a snake on her waist. Most probably, this is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture Demeter," he said.

An important settlement during the Late Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine periods, excavation works at Hadrianopolis started in 2003.

1800-year-old inscribed votive stele found at Hadrianopolis in Paphlagonia
Credit: AA
Archaeological surface surveys have uncovered 14 public buildings and other structures in the ancient city. Among these public buildings are two baths, two churches, a defense structure, rock tombs, a theatre, an arched and domed structure, a monumental cultic niche, walls, a villa, other monumental buildings and some religious buildings.

The church floors are decorated with mosaics and have images of the rivers of Gihon, Pishon, Tigris and Euphrates imprinted on them, which are mentioned in the Old Testament.

Source: Anadolu Agency [December 27, 2019]

* This article was originally published here

Study reveals decline of Harappan city Dholavira caused by drying up of river and drought

A recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur reveals that the decline of Harappan city Dholavira was caused by drying up of river like Saraswati river and Meghalayan drought.

Study reveals decline of Harappan city Dholavira caused by drying up of river and drought
(a) Panoramic view of the GRK with its rocky island; Dholavira is located on one such island (b) Modern dry bed of the
River Manhar outside Dholavira. (c) Google Earth image of Dholavira showing the Castle, Bailey, Middle Town,
Lower Town, reservoirs and course of the dry bed of the River Manhar. (d) Elevation contour map of Dholavira
 with its components (redrawn after Singh, 1996; Bisht, 2015); note the two rivers Mansar and Manhar on the
 northern and southern sides of the settlement. These rivers supplied monsoonal water to the adjacent
reservoirs during the Harappan period [Credit: Sengupta et al. 2019]
These researchers have for the first time connected the decline of Harappan city Dholavira to the disappearance of a Himalayan snow-fed river which once flowed in the Rann of Kutch. They have been able to connect the dots between the growth and decline of the Dholavira, located in the Rann with this river which resembles the Himalayan river Saraswati. The study has just been published online in the Journal of Quaternary Science, according to information shared by the institute.

The research team that also include researchers from Archaeological Survey of India, Deccan College PGRI Pune, Physical research laboratory, and Department of Culture, Gujarat, besides researchers from IIT Kharagpur, dated archaeological remains from all the stages and also inferred climate shifts through time which led to the rise and fall of the Harappan city.

Study reveals decline of Harappan city Dholavira caused by drying up of river and drought
(a) Map of NW India and Pakistan showing the locations of major Harappan towns and smaller settlements of different
periods including those in Saurashtra and Kachchh, Gujarat (after Possehl, 2002). The present river courses of the Indus,
Nara and Luni are also shown. (b) Map of northern Saurashtra and Kachchh showing the location of the study area
Dholavira on the rocky island of Khadir within the Great Rann of Kachchh (southern fringe of the Thar Desert) close
 to the international border, along with smaller Harappan settlements. The river Nara and other distributaries of the
 Indus possibly flowed further eastward than their present course(s) during the Harappan period, discharging
 their Indus-like water into the GRK along its northern periphery. A remotely sensed trace of a palaeochannel
 (ancient river Saraswati) is also shown. The river Luni and many other smaller monsoon-fed streams
 originating in the hills of Aravalli and Kachchh possibly discharged their water into the GRK along its
 eastern and southern periphery during the same time. White dotted lines represent 100mm rainfall isohyets.
Tidal incursion into the GRK occurs today through the Kori creek that must have acted as a palaeoseaway
during the mid-Holocene highstand; arrows indicate the direction of monsoon moisture transport
from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea [Credit: Sengupta et al. 2019]
“Our data suggest that prolific mangroves grew around the Rann and distributaries of Indus or other palaeochannels dumped water in the Rann near southern margin of Thar Desert. This is the first direct evidence of glacial fed rivers quite like the supposedly mythological Saraswati, in the vicinity of Rann” said IIT Kharagpur's Anindya Sarkar and the lead researcher.

Dr. Ravi Bhushan and Navin Juyal from PRL, Ahmedabad dated the carbonates from human bangles, fish otolith and molluscan shells by accelerator mass spectrometer and found that the site was occupied from pre-Harappan period to ~3800 years before present i.e. Late Harappan period. The Dholavirans were probably the original inhabitants in the region, had a fairly advanced level of culture even at its earliest stage. They built spectacular city and survived for nearly 1700 years by adopting water conservation suggested the researchers.

Author: Prachi Verma | Source: The Economic Times [January 03, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

Surprise! TESS Shows Ancient North Star Undergoes Eclipses

The star Alpha Draconis (circled), also known as Thuban, has long been known to be a binary system. Now data from NASA's TESS show its two stars undergo mutual eclipses. Credit: NASA/MIT/TESS

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) have shown that Alpha Draconis, a well-studied star visible to the naked eye, and its fainter companion star regularly eclipse each other. While astronomers previously knew this was a binary system, the mutual eclipses came as a complete surprise.

“The first question that comes to mind is ‘how did we miss this?’” said Angela Kochoska, a postdoctoral researcher at Villanova University in Pennsylvania who presented the findings at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu on Jan. 6. “The eclipses are brief, lasting only six hours, so ground-based observations can easily miss them. And because the star is so bright, it would have quickly saturated detectors on NASA’s Kepler observatory, which would also mask the eclipses.”

This animation illustrates a preliminary model of the Thuban system, now known to be an eclipsing binary thanks to data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The stars orbit every 51.4 days at an average distance slightly greater than Mercury’s distance from the Sun. We view the system about three degrees above the stars’ orbital plane, so they undergo mutual eclipses, but neither is ever completely covered up by its partner. The primary star is 4.3 times bigger than the Sun and has a surface temperature around 17,500 degrees Fahrenheit (9,700 C), making it 70% hotter than our Sun. Its companion, which is five times fainter, is most likely half the primary’s size and 40% hotter than the Sun. Thuban, also called Alpha Draconis, is located about 270 light-years away in the northern constellation Draco. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA). Download HD video from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio

The system ranks among the brightest-known eclipsing binaries where the two stars are widely separated, or detached, and only interact gravitationally. Such systems are important because astronomers can measure the masses and sizes of both stars with unrivaled accuracy.

Alpha Draconis, also known as Thuban, lies about 270 light-years away in the northern constellation Draco. Despite its “alpha” designation, it shines as Draco’s fourth-brightest star. Thuban’s fame arises from a historical role it played some 4,700 years ago, back when the earliest pyramids were being built in Egypt.

At that time, it appeared as the North Star, the one closest to the northern pole of Earth’s spin axis, the point around which all of the other stars appear to turn in their nightly motion. Today, this role is played by Polaris, a brighter star in the constellation Ursa Minor. The change happened because Earth’s spin axis performs a cyclic 26,000-year wobble, called precession, that slowly alters the sky position of the rotational pole.

TESS monitors large swaths of the sky, called sectors, for 27 days at a time. This long stare allows the satellite to track changes in stellar brightness. While NASA’s newest planet hunter mainly seeks dimmings caused by planets crossing in front of their stars, TESS data can be used to study many other phenomena as well.

A 2004 report suggested that Thuban displayed small brightness changes that cycled over about an hour, suggesting the possibility that the system’s brightest star was pulsating.

To check this, Timothy Bedding, Daniel Hey, and Simon Murphy at the University of Sydney, Australia, and Aarhus University, Denmark, turned to TESS measurements. In October, they published a paper that described the discovery of eclipses by both stars and ruling out the existence of pulsations over periods less than eight hours.

Now Kochoska is working with Hey to understand the system in greater detail.

“I've been collaborating with Daniel to model the eclipses and advising on how to bring together more data to better constrain our model.” Kochoska explained. “The two of us took different approaches to modeling the system, and we hope our efforts will result in its full characterization.”

As known from earlier studies, the stars orbit every 51.4 days at an average distance of about 38 million miles (61 million kilometers), slightly more than Mercury’s distance from the Sun. The current preliminary model shows that we view the system about three degrees above the stars’ orbital plane, which means neither star completely covers the other during the eclipses. The primary star is 4.3 times bigger than the Sun and has a surface temperature around 17,500 degrees Fahrenheit (9,700 C), making it 70% hotter than our Sun. Its companion, which is five times fainter, is most likely half the primary’s size and 40% hotter than the Sun.

Kochoska says she is planning ground-based follow-up observations and anticipating additional eclipses in future TESS sectors.

“Discovering eclipses in a well-known, bright, historically important star highlights how TESS impacts the broader astronomical community,” said Padi Boyd, the TESS project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “In this case, the high precision, uninterrupted TESS data can be used to help constrain fundamental stellar parameters at a level we’ve never before achieved.”

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

By Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Media contact

Claire Andreoli
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
(301) 286-1940

Editor: Francis Reddy

* This article was originally published here

Castle Haven Iron Age Dun, nr. Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 12.1.20.

Castle Haven Iron Age Dun, nr. Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 12.1.20.

* This article was originally published here

Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea

Over the past two years, Vanderbilt researchers and students working at the ancient port city of Caesarea, on the north coast of modern-day Israel, have unearthed tantalizing clues to life in the city during the medieval Islamic period as well as the best-preserved remains yet discovered of Herod the Great’s Temple of Rome and Augustus. These finds shed light on an oft-overlooked period in Mediterranean history and give scholars a fresh look at a world-famous monument destroyed long ago.

Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea
Aerial view of the Caesarea dig site [Credit: Vanderbilt University]
Under the direction of Joseph Rife, director and associate professor of classical and Mediterranean studies, and Phillip Lieberman, associate professor of Jewish Studies and Classical and Mediterranean Studies, an international team of Vanderbilt students, staff, faculty and archaeological specialists have been excavating a 900-square-meter section of the ancient and medieval port city during the Maymester sessions of 2018 and 2019. They work at the site, which is a national park, in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Home to the mercantile elite

“Caesarea is one of the most important sites in the region, dating back to antiquity,” said Lieberman. “It was a huge, cosmopolitan trading center, on par with medieval Baghdad and Damascus and, before that, ancient Alexandria and Antioch.”

Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea
Intricate mosaics helped identify these homes as wealthy residences
[Credit: Vanderbilt University]
Beginning in 2018, the Vanderbilt students opened a series of regularly spaced trenches on a plot of land just off the city’s main thoroughfare, right in the city center.

“One of the first things we found was a very opulent residential district dating back to the 10th to 12th century of the common era—what we call the Islamic Middle Ages,” said Rife. They ultimately uncovered the remains of two compounds that likely housed two extended family households.

Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea
A rare hoard of gold coins minted by the Fatimid Caliphate around 1055
[Credit: Vanderbilt University]
Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea
Late Antique carved bone veneer with a heroic scene, perhaps from a jewellery box
[Credit: Vanderbilt University]
Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea
Piece of Middle Islamic pottery with handle [Credit: Vanderbilt University]
Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea
Roman-era carved marble head of an Amazon or warrior, possibly broken off from a tomb
[Credit: Vanderbilt University]
Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea
Portion of the stone platform atop which stood Herod’s massive Temple of Augustus and Rome.
These are the best-preserved remains found to date [Credit: Vanderbilt University]
Rife described the homes as urban mansions, housing the richest residents of the city during a period when Caesarea was booming. The structures contained elaborate, well-preserved mosaics, glazed and decorated pottery, imported glassware and finely carved bone used for the decoration of expensive furniture—all indicators of high social status during the period.

Another clue to the residents’ status was their sophisticated plumbing, said Lieberman. “There were enormous cisterns, large enough to stand up in,” he said. “This is a very arid part of the world, which means access to water is highly prized. The presence of these sophisticated waterworks tells us these families were quite wealthy.”

And perhaps most importantly, the students discovered a horde of gold coins—a rare find—minted locally around the year 1055 during the rule of the Fatimid Caliphate, which was expanding north and east from Egypt toward Mesopotamia at the time.

While no religious items have yet been found at the site to indicate the faith of the residents, Rife said that the objects they have found reflect the lifestyle of wealthy Muslim merchants of the period.

Temple of Rome and Augustus

Once a wonder of the ancient world, the massive, first-century-B.C.E. shrine to the Roman Empire and the Emperor Augustus dominated the city’s skyline until it fell into ruin and was replaced by a cathedral during the 5th century C.E. Today, all that remains is the stone platform upon which the structure once stood.

The Vanderbilt excavation site abuts the platform, and the team stumbled upon a portion of the outer wall quite by accident. The wall is made of expertly dressed stone—local sandstone hand-carved into blocks with clean edges—and is in better shape than any other part of the temple found to date. “It’s perfectly preserved,” said Lieberman. “It looks like it could have been built yesterday.”

The wall likely has an important connection to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, too, added Rife. “Herod was a famous builder during his reign, and we know that he used the best structural engineers in the region,” he said. “And these might well have included the same builders who renovated the Temple Mount and erected its famous Western Wall. So by exploring this new area of the temple platform at Caesarea, we can also learn more about the building techniques used to construct one of the world’s most important religious structures.”

Looking forward

In addition to analyzing the artifacts they discovered, Rife and Lieberman are working with colleagues in the U.S. and Israel to design an integrated digital archive of historical and archaeological evidence so that scholars, students and the public alike can learn about Caesarea online. They’re also looking forward to continuing the excavation with another group of students this coming May.

Medieval and Roman artefacts discovered in ancient port city of Caesarea
Caesarea Maritima [Credit: WikiCommons]
“The archaeology of medieval Islam is a relatively young field in the Near East, as most such work in the region has traditionally concentrated on earlier eras and the biblical narrative,” said Rife. “We have a lot of textual records for society and economy during the medieval period, such as business records and wills, and now we’re finding archaeological parallels to all of those documents. It’s very exciting. Vanderbilt’s work at Caesarea will help to write a new chapter in the history of the region.”

Author: Liz Entman | Source: Vanderbilt University [December 31, 2019]

* This article was originally published here

‘White Cairn of Bargrennan’ Forest, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 12.1.20.

‘White Cairn of Bargrennan’ Forest, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 12.1.20.

* This article was originally published here

It's time for museums to return their stolen treasures

Western museums are beset with demands to give back stolen property -- the cultural heritage of oppressed people plundered by colonial armies in the 19th century or taken unfairly by grasping missionaries or egregious ambassadors.

It's time for museums to return their stolen treasures
A section of the Parthenon Marbles on display at the British Museum in London
[Credit: Future Light/Photolibrary RM/Getty Images]
No less than 90% of African cultural property resides in European museums, according to a report commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has decided that much of it must be returned. However, the British Museum has refused to give back to Greece the half of the Parthenon Marbles stolen by Lord Elgin.

In law, a thief is not allowed to keep his or her ill-gotten gains, no matter how long ago they were taken, or how much he or she may have improved them. In the past, a lot of cultural property was wrongfully extracted from places that are now independent states. They want the loot sent back to where it was created and to the people for whom it has most meaning.

Mighty museums such as the Metropolitan in New York, the Getty, the Louvre, the British Museum and the Humboldt Forum in Berlin have locked up the precious legacy of other lands taken in wars of aggression or by theft or duplicity. They have refused demands to return them although many were taken by colonial armies in the course of what would now be regarded as crimes against humanity. They argue that they are entitled to keep "the spoils of war" -- although that doctrine is now rejected by international law -- or else rely on that school playground philosophy of "finders' keepers" no matter how unconscionable the finding.

It's time for museums to return their stolen treasures
A section of the Parthenon Marbles on display at the British Museum in London
[Credit: Graham Barclay/Getty Images]
Elgin never even offered to pay for the marbles because he knew the Ottomans (in occupation of Athens at the time) would never sell, so he lavishly bribed local officials to turn a blind eye while his workmen ripped the statues off the temple walls. Now, the British Museum falsely claims that Elgin acted lawfully and refuses to allow the two halves of this greatest extant wonder of the ancient world to be reunited in the new Acropolis Museum, the place where it can best be appreciated.

In 2017, President Macron declared that "African cultural heritage can no longer remain a prisoner of European museums." He is sending back to Nigeria some of the Benin Bronzes, bought by the French after they were seized in a barbaric "punishment raid" by the British army in 1897. The British Museum holds many more but its trustees refuse even to discuss returning this evidence of an advanced 16th century African civilization.

London's Victoria & Albert Museum is just as bad: It recently exhibited some of the plunder from the Battle of Magdala, the conclusion of the British Army's 1868 expedition to Abyssinia, including the gold crown of its still-venerated Christian king. This invasion amounted to a crime of aggression but the display merely noted that it was "controversial." British curators seem grateful for colonial atrocities that brought back treasures to Britain. They display them with euphemistic labels and avoid critical accounts of the manner in which they were seized.

It's time for museums to return their stolen treasures
Plaques forming part of the Benin Bronzes on displayed at the British Museum, which has agreed to loan
the plaques to a new museum in Benin City, Nigeria [Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe]
Countries that have been conquered or colonized in the past are now determined to reclaim their treasures and President Macron's declaration has been hailed as providing "justice at last" to the victims of the colonial plundering. The principle that wrongfully acquired property should be returned has been recognized by courts in England, Ireland and the US which have ruled that nation states have "sovereignty" over items that constitute "keys to their heritage."

Human rights treaties support these claims by endorsing a "right to culture" while a UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People entitles them to return of property "taken without their free, prior and informed consent." The laws of most advanced countries require that art seized by the Nazis should be returned -- why not cultural property stolen at the same time by the Japanese army from many Asian countries, or the plunder of colonial armies?

There must, of course, be exceptions. Preservation of priceless antiquities is essential, and it would not be right to return them to countries plagued by civil war or to museums where they will be in danger, whether from corrupt curators or lack of air conditioning. The right to restitution should also be denied to states that will use them to propagate false history or which trample on the rights of the very people in the name of whose culture they demand restitution.

It's time for museums to return their stolen treasures
A crown taken by British troops at the battle of Magdala in 1868, pictured on display at the Victoria
and Albert museum in London in 2018 [Credit: Daniel leal-Olivas/AFP/AFP via Getty Images]
An international convention will be needed to make these distinctions, or at least an agreed set of ethical rules for museums to decide on restitution claims. They need not apply to all antiquities, but only to those of significance either because they are "keys to the history" of a nation, or have a religious or spiritual connection to a past that remains relevant today.

For items of universal importance, such as the Elgin Marbles or the Rosetta Stone, the question should turn on where they can best be studied and appreciated -- the former, obviously, in the new Acropolis Museum that is dedicated to telling their story, but the latter should stay in the British Museum where it was deciphered and remains the most popular exhibit.

The issue is complicated by colonial "finders' keepers" laws in Britain and other European countries which prevent national museums from parting with their possessions, even if stolen or obtained by force of arms. These will need amendments to give museum trustees a discretion to return and trustees themselves will have to change.

It's time for museums to return their stolen treasures
Egypt has previously requested the Rosetta Stone be repatriated from the British Museum
[Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]
At present in Britain they are mostly multimillionaire corporate figures appointed by the government -- if elected by museum members, they might be better disposed to the moral case for returning plundered treasure.

"Who Owns History? Elgin's Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure," published by Biteback Publishing, is available now.

Author: Geoffrey Robertson | Source: CNN Style [January 08, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

Slow Moving Fireball Over Puerto Rico

15 views   2 likes   0 dislikes  

Channel: Frankie Lucena  

This fireball was captured on Jan 12 , 2020 at 4:31am facing southeast from Cabo Rojo. The long and orange colored persistent train made this event look very impressive.

Video length: 0:07
Category: Science & Technology

Cairnholy II Prehistoric Chambered Cairn at Midday, Creetown, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland,...

Cairnholy II Prehistoric Chambered Cairn at Midday, Creetown, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 12.1.20.

* This article was originally published here

Gold bar found beneath Mexico City street part of Moctezuma's treasure

A new scientific analysis of a large gold bar found decades ago in downtown Mexico City reveals it was part of the plunder Spanish conquerors tried to carry away as they fled the Aztec capital after native warriors forced a hasty retreat.

Gold bar found beneath Mexico City street part of Moctezuma's treasure
Ingot melted down from Aztec gold objects by Cortés and maybe lost in the waters
during La Noche Triste [Credit: INAH]
Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) announced the findings of new tests of the bar in a statement on Thursday, a few months before the 500-year anniversary of the battle that forced Hernan Cortes and his soldiers to temporarily flee the city on June 30, 1520.

A day earlier, Aztec Emperor Moctezuma was killed, or possibly assassinated, according to the native informants of one Spanish chronicler, which promoted a frenzied battle that forced Cortes, his fellow Spaniards as well as their native allies to flee for their lives.

A year later, Cortes would return and lay siege to the city, which was already weakened with supply lines cut and diseases introduced by the Spanish invaders taking a toll.

The bar was originally discovered in 1981 during a construction project some 16 feet (5 meters) underground in downtown Mexico City - which was built on the ruins of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan - where a canal that would have been used by the fleeing Spaniards was once located.

The bar weighs about 2 kg (4.4 lb) and is 26.2 cm (10.3 inches) long, 5.4 cm (2.1 inches) wide and 1.4 cm (half an inch) thick.

Gold bar found beneath Mexico City street part of Moctezuma's treasure
X-ray fluorescence analysis of gold bar [Credit: INAH] 
A fluorescent X-ray chemical analysis was able to pinpoint its creation to between 1519-1520, according to INAH, which coincides with the time Cortes ordered gold objects stolen from an Aztec treasury to be melted down into bars for easier transport to Europe.

Historical accounts describe Cortes and his men as heavily weighed down by the gold they hoped to take with them as they fled the imperial capital during what is known today as the “Sad Night,” or “Noche Triste,” in Spanish.

“The golden bar is a unique historical testimony to a transcendent moment in world history,” said archeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan, who leads excavations at a nearby dig where the Aztecs’ holiest shrine once stood.

Until the recent tests, scholars of the last gasps of the Aztec empire only had historical documents to rely on as confirmed sources, added Lopez Lujan.

A more in-depth and technical description of the tests performed on the bar is published in the January issue of the magazine Arqueologia Mexicana.

Source: Reuters [January 10, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

Clear Recording Of Orb Darting Around In The Sky!

439 views   28 likes   2 dislikes  

Channel: Terry's Theories  

Please help me with my UFO research by donating thank you, Terry : https://www.paypal.me/Franklin1275?lo...
Pretty clear capture of ord darting around in the sky I don't have a location yet I will continue to work on that and will post it as soon as I do for those interested.
This video came from the Youtube channel UFO Hunter he has got a great channel go check him out. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMsUeAGNeLaN09eviRQzuUg

Source video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxOmbxyXltA

Video length: 1:52
Category: Science & Technology


https://t.co/hvL60wwELQ — XissUFOtoday Space (@xufospace) August 3, 2021 Жаждущий ежик наслаждается пресной водой после нескольких дней в о...