понедельник, 27 января 2020 г.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a pre-Hispanic sweat lodge near La Merced, a market area in the historic center of Mexico City.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH

The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said in a statement Tuesday that the temazcal, as a domed, pre-Hispanic sweat lodge made out of mud or stone is known, was found during an excavation at a property on Talavera street, which is now known for the sale of baby Jesus statues.

Temazcales were used by indigenous people in Mesoamerica for medicinal purposes, spiritual rituals and childbirth.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH
Archaeologists found blocks made out of adobe and tezontle –a volcanic rock – that were used to build the sweat lodge as well as a bathtub used to heat the structure with steam. Based on the remains they found, the INAH team concluded that the temazcal was five meters long and about three meters wide.

INAH said the discovery has allowed archaeologists to pinpoint the location of Temazcaltitlan, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Tenochtitlan, the Mexica capital that would become Mexico City.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH

According to a chronicle of pre-Hispanic times in Tenochtitlan, a temazcal was built in Temazcaltitlan to bathe and purify Quetzalmoyahuatzin, a noble Mexica girl.

Hernando Alvarado Tezozomoc, a noble indigenous man who lived in colonial times, wrote in his Cronica Mexicayotl that ordinary residents of Tenochtitlan also bathed there.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH
The head of the INAH team that found the temazcal said the discovery is the first concrete evidence of Temazcaltitlan’s vocation as a center of bathing and purification.

Victor Esperon Calleja said the neighborhood belonged to the district of Teopan (also known as Zoquipan), which was the first territory built on Lake Texcoco and occupied by the Mexicas. It is believed that the female deities of earth, fertility, water and the pre-Hispanic beverage pulque were also worshipped in Temazcaltitlan.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH

In addition to the temazcal remains, on the same Talavera street property archaeologists found the remnants of a home that was possibly inhabited by a noble indigenous family shortly after the Spanish conquest and structures of a tannery, which operated during the last century of colonial rule before Mexico gained its independence in the early 19th century.

“The findings suggest that in the 16th century this area was more populated than we initially thought,” Esperon said.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH
“Given that it was an area of chinampas [floating agricultural gardens], it was thought that there were few houses but at this property we have evidence of the wooden pilings and stones that were used for the wall foundations [of a home],” he added.

Esperon said that the methods used to build the house allowed archaeologists to date it to the first century of colonial rule between 1521 and 1620.

The walls of the four-room home were decorated with red motifs and its floor was made of adobe blocks, features that the archaeologist said indicated that it was “inhabited by an indigenous family, possibly of noble origin.”

The tannery, Esperon said, likely made leather from cattle slaughtered at the San Lucas abattoir, which was located close to where the Pino Suarez Metro station now stands.

Source: Mexico News Daily [January 23, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

Knights' Hall built by the Crusaders discovered in Western Syria

New archaeological finds were located at the sites of Amrit, Safita, and Marqab, in the Syrian Mediterranean province of Tartus, according to media in Damascus.

Knights' Hall built by the Crusaders discovered in Western Syria
14th-century miniature from William of Tyre's Histoire d'Outremer of a battle during the Second Crusade,
National Library of France, Department of Manuscripts, French 22495 fol. 154V
[Credit: Combat Deuxieme Croisade]
In recent excavations, pottery and clay objects, an ancient grave and the exact location of the Knights' Hall, built by the Crusaders in the middle of the 12th century, were found, Marwan Hassan explained, head of the Archaeology Department in that province, 258 km northwest of the Syrian capital.

Hassan explained that the excavation it was found that the Talus “a diagonal wall” that was in fact part of an outer wall of the Knights' Hall and not part of the reinforcement wall of the gate.

Knights' Hall built by the Crusaders discovered in Western Syria
The Tartous Archaeology Department managed to locate the Knights’ Hall that the
Crusaders built in the middle of the 13th century AD at Chastel Blanc's keep
[Credit: WikiCommons]
The expert indicated that these excavation works are extended to Al-Marqab Castle by a joint Syrian-Hungarian mission, where they found pottery sherds and other pieces by using the latest technological methods.

He also noted that, based on the importance of scientific research of the historical stages of the Syrian coasts, a Syrian-Russian team was formed to search for archaeological remains and sites in the waters off the city of Tartus and Arwad Island.

Those works, Hassan said, also include areas of Armit Beach, with modern surveying devices that will enable the advance of these studies this year.

Source: Prensa Latina [January 21, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

The British Museum and the Art Loss Register help to return important Kushan sculpture to Afghanistan

The British Museum and the Art Loss Register have worked together to identify and preserve an Afghan limestone sculpture depicting humped bulls which was stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan. The sculpture was illegally removed from the country and offered for sale through an online auction house in the UK.

The British Museum and the Art Loss Register help to return important Kushan sculpture to Afghanistan
The Surkh Kotal bull, 2nd century AD, carved limestone corner block, from the National
Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul [Credit: The British Museum]
It was offered for sale in 2019 by Timeline Auctions but withdrawn after the Art Loss Register reported it to the Metropolitan Police Service (Art and Antiques Unit). Its provenance and stolen status was subsequently confirmed by the British Museum and National Museum of Afghanistan and the sculpture brought to the Museum for safekeeping. The National Museum of Afghanistan have kindly agreed to allow this important sculpture to be put on public display for the first-time outside Afghanistan and prior to its return and display in Kabul. The sculpture will be officially returned via the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The carved limestone corner block was excavated by a French archaeological expedition in the 1950s at the important site of Surkh Kotal in northern Afghanistan. It shows a reclining humped bull with its face turned to the viewer and the front of a second bull on the left. It was part of a composite frieze with other blocks showing human figures and bulls in some form of ceremony. These probably originally decorated the inner part of the sanctuary of a temple, although all the blocks were later scattered and none were found in their original position. The site and temple date to about the 2nd century AD when this region of Afghanistan was part of the Kushan empire which stretched as far as northern India. The temple is most famous for the discovery there of a monumental inscription in Bactrian language which refers to the reconstruction of the temple’s security and water supply, and a sculpture showing the great Kushan king Kanishka I.

Following their discovery, the blocks were taken to Kabul where they were registered in the National Museum of Afghanistan and published as part of that collection. However, all were stolen during the Afghan civil war (1992–1994) when Kabul was besieged by different armies and the museum was on the front line. Many other objects were also lost or destroyed during this period, and the statue of Kanishka was badly damaged by Taliban extremists in 2001: although that has now restored, this is the first stolen piece from the Surkh Kotal temple to be recovered.

The British Museum and the National Museum of Afghanistan have worked very closely together since the restoration of an internationally recognised government in 2003. The British Museum helped install the first conservation studio in the Kabul museum and has provided training for curators and conservators. Since 2009, the British Museum has identified and returned over 2,300 antiquities of all periods which were illegally excavated at sites across Afghanistan and trafficked abroad, but seized and investigated by the UK Border Force, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs and the Metropolitan Police Service. The National Museum of Afghanistan is fully open to the public and some of these objects are already back on display in Kabul.

Hartwig Fischer Director of the British Museum said: “The identification, return and display of this sculpture to Kabul is another very important step in the reconstruction of the rich cultural heritage of Afghanistan after decades of conflict, destruction and loss. The Museum works extensively with law enforcement agencies and a wide range of other partners to try to combat the trafficking of illicit material from countries which have suffered so much from conflict in recent years”.

Fahim Rahimi Director, National Museum of Afghanistan said: “I am happy that we are able to recover another missing piece from the collection of the National Museum of Afghanistan. We thank the British Museum for their cooperation with us on this regard. As the result of our cooperation many lost objects from Afghanistan have been recovered in the UK and I hope that not only customs, but also museums and other private collections, will continue to help us return objects from Afghanistan in this way”.

James Ratcliffe, the Art Loss Register said “We are delighted that our identification of this piece being offered for sale led to its seizure and look forward to its return to Kabul. We would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for their swift action in seizing it following that identification, and the British Museum for their subsequent assistance. As so often, this is a clear demonstration of the value of cooperation between various bodies in pursuing looted antiquities.”

DI Jim Wingrave “The Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit is delighted that this piece has been identified and can be returned to the museum from which is was stolen. We would like to thank everyone involved in recovery of this unique artefact, which is an example of the positive results that can be achieved through cooperation. Unfortunately, there are many other artefacts that are still missing and we encourage anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of stolen property to contact the police.”

Source: The British Museum [January 21, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

2020 January 27 Comet CG Evaporates Image Credit &...

2020 January 27

Comet CG Evaporates
Image Credit & License: ESA, Rosetta, NAVCAM

Explanation: Where do comet tails come from? There are no obvious places on the nuclei of comets from which the jets that create comet tails emanate. One of the best images of emerging jets is shown in the featured picture, taken in 2015 by ESA’s robotic Rosetta spacecraft that orbited Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Comet CG) from 2014 to 2016. The picture shows plumes of gas and dust escaping numerous places from Comet CG’s nucleus as it neared the Sun and heated up. The comet has two prominent lobes, the larger one spanning about 4 kilometers, and a smaller 2.5-kilometer lobe connected by a narrow neck. Analyses indicate that evaporation must be taking place well inside the comet’s surface to create the jets of dust and ice that we see emitted through the surface. Comet CG (also known as Comet 67P) loses in jets about a meter of radius during each of its 6.44-year orbits around the Sun, a rate at which will completely destroy the comet in only thousands of years. In 2016, Rosetta’s mission ended with a controlled impact onto Comet CG’s surface.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap200127.html

* This article was originally published here

2019 excavation results of the Paphos Agora Project

The Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, has announced the completion of the 2019 excavations of the Department of Classical Archaeology of the Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland, within the framework of the Pafos Agora Project (PAP). The PAP, which has been running since 2011, examines the economic infrastructure and activity of the city, not only on the basis of excavations in the Agora itself, but also outside of it, throughout the entire Archaeological Site of Kato Paphos, based on prospection with the use of non-invasive geophysical methods.

2019 excavation results of the Paphos Agora Project
Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus
Researchers from the Warsaw Technical University and the University of Hamburg participated in the 2019 field season, which took place during August and September 2019. Two main goals were set: 1) determining the size of the Agora in the north, and 2) identifying streets flanking it from the north and from the east. Excavations were carried out at four points.

The main research focused on three trial trenches (TT): on TT.VI, which began being investigated in 2018, and on two new ones founded in 2019 on the basis of the results of a geophysical prospection carried out in previous seasons. The first is TT.VII located on the north extension of the West Portico of the Agora, the second is TT.VIII on the north extension of the East Portico, whereas the fourth point, where excavations were carried out, was in TT.II, i.e. the East Portico, where the research was continued within the room, R.22, discovered last year, and whose exploration has not been completed.

Of the research tasks mentioned above, the second goal was met. In all trial trenches, it was possible to reveal either the street surfaces themselves (in TT.VIII) or the infrastructure associated with them (channels and collector in TT.VI and TT.VII). However, the northern border of the porticos was not discovered. An important result of the research was achieved in TT.VIII, i.e. the confirmation of the further route of the street marked as P in the city plan reconstructed by J. Młynarczyk (1990), which was also revealed to the south of the theatre by the expedition from Sydney, Australia.

2019 excavation results of the Paphos Agora Project
Credit: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus
The PAP research in this year's season has also positively verified the route of street no. 1a, which is an extension of the internal line of the Agora’s West Portico (in TT.VII). However, street no. 2a was discovered in a slightly different place than it would appear from the reconstruction of Młynarczyk - about 20m to the east (TT.VI).

It should be emphasised that the studied area had been levelled in many places and subjected to robbery exploration, which has hindered the exploration and interpretation by the PAP. The recreation of the history of the studied area was also impeded by the unexpected discovery of several skeletal burials (TT.VII) dug into earlier structures. At present, not much can be said about the nature of this small necropolis. It cannot be ruled out that it may be related to an unearthed basilica, which may have been located a little further to the north-west from TT.VII.

The existence of this basilica was suggested during the initial analysis of geomagnetic research carried out as part of the PAP by the University of Hamburg in the area in 2016. More can be said once the research using the C14 method of dating on the remains of graves, primarily the wooden casket from grave 2, has been completed. It seems that the above-mentioned features, discovered in 2019, can be dated to the late Hellenistic and early Roman periods, while the cemetery could rather be dated to the late Roman period.

In parallel with the excavations, a small-scale geophysical survey, as well as the preservation of the metal objects and studies on conserved metal objects and coins have continued. In addition, a short study campaign on the anthropological material (skeletal remains) discovered during excavations in previous years was completed.

Source: Dept. of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus [January 23, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

17,000 years old artefacts found in Malaysian caves

The National Heritage Department has found more than 100 Palaeolithic artefacts estimated to be 17,000 years old in several caves in Gunung Pulai here.

17,000 years old artefacts found in Malaysian caves
The artefacts include stone tools, fragments of pottery and river snails
[Credit: Bernama]
Artefacts in the form of stone tools, fragments of pottery and river snails were found at new excavation sites including Gua Kelambu, Gua Tembus and Gua Akar in the mountain.

National Heritage Department director-general Mesran Mohd Yusop, who is also the Heritage Commissioner, said the artefacts were discovered while his department was conducting explorations in the area between April and October last year.

"The exploration was to carry out documentation and inventory of the site to obtain the latest archaeological data and to identify any possible evidence that has not been discovered by previous researchers.

"The discovery of the artefacts proves the existence of prehistoric life in this area and gives us new clues about the lives of these early inhabitants," he told local reporters.

17,000 years old artefacts found in Malaysian caves
National Heritage Department Archaeological Division director Ruzairy Arbi
in the caves on Gunung Pulai in Baling [Credit: Bernama]
Mesran said excavations and research at the site were also joined by the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (Atma), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Malaya's (UM) Geology Department.

He said some of the artefacts found were sent to Nanyang Technological University in Singapore for analysis and to determine their age.

According to him, if the artefacts are truly 17,000 years old, it means that the settlement on Gunung Pulai is among the oldest in the country and is older than the Sungai Batu archaeological site in Merbok.

He also explained that the discovery made Gunung Pulai a valuable archaeological site for the country's archaeological data and as a basis for recognising the origins of the ancient community.

17,000 years old artefacts found in Malaysian caves
Some of the artefacts discovered in the caves on Gunung Pulai in Baling
[Credit: Bernama]
"It also has the potential to make the area famous and make Gunung Pulai and its caves a focal point for tourists, researchers and archaeologists," he said.

Meanwhile, the department's Archaeological Division director Ruzairy Arbi said the discovery of stone tools showed that the Palaeolithic community here used rock extensively for hunting and food storage purposes.

However, the discovery of river limpets is considered to be most important as it is evidence of dietary practices of prehistoric peoples there.

"All of these artefacts were found on the ground of the caves and we believe more artefacts are buried and we will be mapping and digging within the next month to find other artefacts," he said.

In the meantime, the department is advising the public to comply with the National Heritage Act 2005 by reporting immediately any historic findings in the Gunung Pulai area to the district officer or Heritage Commissioner.

Source: Bernama [January 23, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

NASA's Kepler Witnesses Vampire Star System Undergoing Super-Outburst

Credits: Artist's Illustration: NASA and L. Hustak (STScI)

NASA's Kepler spacecraft was designed to find exoplanets by looking for stars that dim as a planet crosses the star's face. Fortuitously, the same design makes it ideal for spotting other astronomical transients – objects that brighten or dim over time. A new search of Kepler archival data has uncovered an unusual super-outburst from a previously unknown dwarf nova .

The system brightened by a factor of 1,600 over less than a day before slowly fading away. The star system in question consists of a white dwarf star with a brown dwarf companion about one-tenth as massive as the white dwarf. A white dwarf is the leftover core of an aging Sun-like star and contains about a Sun's worth of material in a globe the size of Earth. A brown dwarf is an object with a mass between 10 and 80 Jupiters that is too small to undergo nuclear fusion. 

The brown dwarf circles the white dwarf star every 83 minutes at a distance of only 250,000 miles (400,000 km) – about the distance from Earth to the Moon. They are so close that the white dwarf's strong gravity strips material from the brown dwarf, sucking its essence away like a vampire. The stripped material forms a disk as it spirals toward the white dwarf (known as an accretion disk).

It was sheer chance that Kepler was looking in the right direction when this system underwent a super-outburst, brightening by more than 1,000 times. In fact, Kepler was the only instrument that could have witnessed it, since the system was too close to the Sun from Earth's point of view at the time. Kepler's rapid cadence of observations, taking data every 30 minutes, was crucial for catching every detail of the outburst.

The event remained hidden in Kepler's archive until identified by a team led by Ryan Ridden-Harper of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Baltimore, Maryland, and the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. "In a sense, we discovered this system accidentally. We weren't specifically looking for a super-outburst. We were looking for any sort of transient," said Ridden-Harper.

Kepler captured the entire event, observing a slow rise in brightness followed by a rapid intensification. While the sudden brightening is predicted by theories, the cause of the slow start remains a mystery. Standard theories of accretion disk physics don't predict this phenomenon, which has subsequently been observed in two other dwarf nova super-outbursts.

"These dwarf nova systems have been studied for decades, so spotting something new is pretty tricky," said Ridden-Harper. "We see accretion disks all over – from newly forming stars to supermassive black holes – so it's important to understand them."

Theories suggest that a super-outburst is triggered when the accretion disk reaches a tipping point. As it accumulates material, it grows in size until the outer edge experiences gravitational resonance with the orbiting brown dwarf. This might trigger a thermal instability, causing the disk to get superheated. Indeed, observations show that the disk's temperature rises from about 5,000–10,000° F (2,700–5,300° C) in its normal state to a high of 17,000–21,000° F (9,700–11,700° C) at the peak of the super-outburst.

This type of dwarf nova system is relatively rare, with only about 100 known. An individual system may go for years or decades between outbursts, making it a challenge to catch one in the act.

"The detection of this object raises hopes for detecting even more rare events hidden in Kepler data," said co-author Armin Rest of STScI.

The team plans to continue mining Kepler data, as well as data from another exoplanet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, in search of other transients.

"The continuous observations by Kepler/K2, and now TESS, of these dynamic stellar systems allows us to study the earliest hours of the outburst, a time domain that is nearly impossible to reach from ground-based observatories," said Peter Garnavich of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

This work was published in the Oct. 21, 2019 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The Space Telescope Science Institute is expanding the frontiers of space astronomy by hosting the science operations center of the Hubble Space Telescope, the science and operations center for the James Webb Space Telescope, and the science operations center for the future Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). STScI also houses the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) which is a NASA-funded project to support and provide to the astronomical community a variety of astronomical data archives, and is the data repository for the Hubble, Webb, Kepler, K2, TESS missions and more.


Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland


Ryan Ridden-Harper
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, and
Australian National University, Canberra, Australia


Related Links:

* This article was originally published here

Update to museum guidelines could see British Museum with no choice but to return Parthenon Marbles

As the fight for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful home in Greece continues, there seems to be some hope on the horizon.

Update to museum guidelines could see British Museum with no choice but to return Parthenon Marbles
Part of the Parthenon sculptures currently housed at the British Museum
[Credit: WikiCommons]
British museums could face fines if they do not return pieces in their collections taken from other countries, reports the Daily Mail.

With demands for repatriation from various countries expected to rise, Arts Council England is seeking to update its current guidelines, which it claims are out of date.

The council has asked experts to bid for a £42,000 contract that will see guidelines updated to assist museums in deciding which treasures should be returned, including the Parthenon Marbles, an aboriginal shield and Ethiopian sacred tablets, among others.

The contract would be put together based on a review of existing research and evidence, as well as extensive consultation with practitioners and stakeholders across and beyond the UK museum sector “to identify key challenges, opportunities, practical and ethical issues and examples of best practice in the UK and internationally,” reads the advert, highlighting that there are “increasing calls for action by museums to address this”.

The contract, expected to be enforced next month, will also include assistance for museums from experts to deal with media attention, government policies and the future of artefacts with no value.

“The aim is to encourage a more proactive and coordinated approach across the museum sector by providing museums with a practical resource to support them in responding to all aspects of restitution and repatriation,” an Arts Council England spokesperson said.

The idea follows the promise made by French president Emmanuel Macron to repatriate colonial objects.

BBC historian David Olusoga is among those encouraging the ‘decolonisation’ of collections in Britain, saying there is a ‘moral imperative’ for relics to be returned, calling the case of the Parthenon Marbles “such a stark case of theft”.

Mr Olusoga also said that it could be beneficial for Britain’s relationship with the Commonwealth after Brexit.

While organisations are currently requested to follow diversity procedures, it is uncertain as yet whether the council’s 828 members will face fines for keeping treasures from abroad in their procession, Arts Council England said.

Source: Neos Kosmos [January 21, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

Doon Hill Neolithic Feasting Hall, Enclosure, Burial Site and Later Timber Hall, Doon Hill, Scottish...

Doon Hill Neolithic Feasting Hall, Enclosure, Burial Site and Later Timber Hall, Doon Hill, Scottish Borders, 25.1.20.

These line markers are all that remain of a complex site first used 6000 years ago. 4500 years later, the same site was reused to build a timber hall.

* This article was originally published here

Ancient statue found in Cambodia's Siem Reap

Siem Reap Provincial Environment Department officials and archaeologists are conducting research on a large Makara animal statue carved on a rock at the Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap province’s Svay Loeu district.

Ancient statue found in Cambodia's Siem Reap
Credit: Khmer Times

Provincial Department of Environment director Sun Kong said yesterday the head portion of the broken statue was found by a resident on Saturday and the officials went to inspect the site on Sunday.

He added that the statue was made of sandstone during the sixth century and the body was broken into pieces, noting that officials found 13 pieces of the body nearby the site.

Ancient statue found in Cambodia's Siem Reap
Credit: Khmer Times

Mr Kong said: “According to the experts, this Makara animal statue is one that we have never seen before. It is approximately 2.14 metres in length and about 0.97 metres high. We have not yet moved the body parts or excavated the head from the site and have told park rangers in the area to guard it in order for officials from relevant ministries and institutions to come and study in detail about the site’s history and reconstruct the pieces.”

He noted that experts have not found a foundation of any temple at the site and believe it was just carved out on the rock.

Ancient statue found in Cambodia's Siem Reap
Credit: Khmer Times

Chhim Samrithy, 38, a craftsman from the province who discovered the statue, said yesterday he spotted it on Saturday while searching for bamboo. “I usually walk in the forest to look for some unique and sacred objects and suddenly spotted this rare statue,” he said. “After seeing it, I took environmental officials and archaeologists to the site and also helped to find some of the missing pieces of the statue.”

Long Kosal, Apsara Authority spokesman, said that the authorities’ archaeologists visited the site yesterday and will conduct additional studies to add it to the records.

Ancient statue found in Cambodia's Siem Reap
Credit: Khmer Times
He said: “The Kulen National Park area is rich in ancient artefects, both above and below the ground. Therefore,  I urge people, especially those living in the area, to avoid excavating or clearing archaeological sites. If they find ancient objects, please report to the authorities for research to be done to preserve them for future generations.”

Author: Pech Sotheary | Source: Khmer Times [January 23, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

ancientpeopleancientplaces:‘Ephemera’ PoemWritten by The Silicon Tribesman. All Rights...


‘Ephemera’ Poem

Written by The Silicon Tribesman. All Rights Reserved, 2020.

* This article was originally published here

New species of Allosaurus discovered in Utah

A remarkable new species of meat-eating dinosaur has been unveiled at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Paleontologists unearthed the first specimen in early 1990s in Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah. The huge carnivore inhabited the flood plains of western North America during the Late Jurassic Period, between 157-152 million years ago, making it the geologically oldest species of Allosaurus, predating the more well-known state fossil of Utah, Allosaurus fragilis. The newly named dinosaur Allosaurus jimmadseni, was announced today in the open-access journal PeerJ.

New species of Allosaurus discovered in Utah
Allosaurus jimmadseni attack juvenile sauropod
[Credit: Todd Marshall]
The species belongs to the allosauroids, a group of small to large-bodied, two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Allosaurus jimmadseni, possesses several unique features, among them a short narrow skull with low facial crests extending from the horns in front of the eyes forward to the nose and a relatively narrow back of the skull with a flat surface to the bottom of the skull under the eyes. The skull was weaker with less of an overlapping field of vision than its younger cousin Allosaurus fragilis. Allosaurus jimmadseni evolved at least 5 million years earlier than fragilis, and was the most common and the top predator in its ecosystem. It had relatively long legs and tail, and long arms with three sharp claws. The name Allosaurus translates as "different reptile," and the second part, jimmadseni, honors Utah State Paleontologist James H. Madsen Jr.

Following an initial description by Othniel C. Marsh in 1877, Allosaurus quickly became the best known--indeed the quintessential--Jurassic theropod. The taxonomic composition of the genus has long been a debate over the past 130 years. Paleontologists argue that there are anywhere between one and 12 species of Allosaurus in the Morrison Formation of North America. This study recognizes only two species--A. fragilis and A. jimmadseni.

"Previously, paleontologists thought there was only one species of Allosaurus in Jurassic North America, but this study shows there were two species--the newly described Allosaurus jimmadseni evolved at least 5 million years earlier than its younger cousin, Allosaurus fragilis," said co-lead author Mark Loewen, research associate at the Natural History Museum of Utah, and associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah led the study. "The skull of Allosaurus jimmadseni is more lightly built than its later relative Allosaurus fragilis, suggesting a different feeding behavior between the two."

"Recognizing a new species of dinosaur in rocks that have been intensely investigated for over 150 years is an outstanding experience of discovery. Allosaurus jimmadseni is a great example of just how much more we have to learn about the world of dinosaurs. Many more exciting fossils await discovery in the Jurassic rocks of the American West," said Daniel Chure, retired paleontologist at Dinosaur National Monument and co-lead author of the study.

George Engelmann of the University of Nebraska, Omaha initially discovered the initial skeleton of the new species within Dinosaur National Monument in 1990. In 1996, several years after the headless skeleton was collected, the radioactive skull belonging to the skeleton using a radiation detector by Ramal Jones of the University of Utah. Both skeleton and skull were excavated by teams from Dinosaur National Monument.

"Big Al," another specimen belonging to the new species, was discovered in Wyoming on United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in 1991 and is housed in the collections of the Museum of The Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. Previously thought to belong to Allosaurus fragilis, "Big Al" was featured in the BBC's 2001 "Walking with Dinosaurs: Ballad of Big Al" video. Over the last 30 years, crews from various museums have collected and prepared materials of this new species. Other specimens include "Big Al Two" at the Saurier Museum Aathal in Switzerland and Allosaurus material from the Dry Mesa Quarry of Colorado at Brigham Young University.

"This exciting new study illustrates the importance of continued paleontological investigations on public lands in the West. Discovery of this new taxon of dinosaur will provide important information about the life and times of Jurassic dinosaurs and represents another unique component of America's Heritage," said Brent Breithaupt, BLM regional paleontologist.

New species of Allosaurus discovered in Utah
Paleontologist James Madsen Jr assembles a composite skeleton of Allosaurus from the Clevland
Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry [Credit: J. Willard Marriot Library at the University of Utah]

Early Morrison Formation dinosaurs were replaced by some of the most iconic dinosaurs of the Late Jurassic

Allosaurus jimmadseni lived on the semi-arid Morrison Formation floodplains of the interior of western North America. The older rocks of the Morrison Formation preserve a fauna of dinosaurs distinct from the iconic younger Morrison Formation faunas that include Allosaurus fragilis, Diplodocus and Stegosaurus. Paleontologists have recently determined that specimens of this new species of dinosaur lived in several places throughout the western interior of North America (Utah, Colorado and Wyoming).

Study summary

Dinosaurs were the dominant members of terrestrial ecosystems during the Mesozoic. However, the pattern of evolution and turnover of ecosystems during the middle Mesozoic remains poorly understood. The authors report the discovery of the earliest member of the group of large-bodied allosauroids in the Morrison Formation ecosystem that was replaced by Allosaurus fragilis and illustrate changes acquired in the genus over time. The study includes an in-depth description of every bone of the skull and comparisons with the cranial materials of other carnivorous dinosaurs. Finally, the study recognizes just two species of Allosaurus in North America with Allosaurus fragilis replacing its earlier relative Allosaurus jimmadseni.

Fact sheet: Major points of the paper

- A remarkable new species of meat-eating dinosaur, Allosaurus jimmadseni, is described based on two spectacularly complete skeletons. The first specimen was unearthed in Dinosaur National Monument, in northeastern Utah.

- Allosaurus jimmadseni is distinguished by a number of unique features, including low crests running from above the eyes to the snout and a relatively narrow back of the skull with a flat surface to the bottom of the upper skull under the eyes. The skull was weaker with less of an overlapping field of vision than its younger cousin Allosaurus fragilis.

- At 155 million years old, Allosaurus jimmadseni is the geologically-oldest species of Allosaurus predating the more well-known State Fossil of Utah Allosaurus fragilis.

- Allosaurus jimmadseni was the most common and the top predator in its ecosystem. It had relatively long legs and tail, and long arms with three sharp claws.

Study design

- Comparison of the bones with all other known allosauroid dinosaurs indicate that the species possessed unique features of the upper jaw and cheeks (maxilla and jugal) and a decorative crest stretching from just in front of the eyes to the nose.

- Many of the comparisons were made with the thousands of bones of Allosaurus fragilis collected from the famous Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry administered by the Bureau of Land Management that are housed in the collections of the Natural History Museum of Utah.

- On the basis of these features, the scientific team named it a new genus and species of dinosaur, Allosaurus jimmadseni (translating to "Jim Madsen's different reptile").

- Allosaurus jimmadseni is particularly notable for its slender, narrow skull with short sharp nasal crests compared to its close relative and successor Allosaurus fragilis.

- The study was funded in part by the University of Utah, the National Park Service and the National Science Foundation.

New species of Allosaurus discovered in Utah
A cast of the skeleton and skull of Allosaurus jimmadseni as it was discovered and now on exhibit at Dinosaur
National Monument in Utah. The original skeleton was molded and cast before it was taken apart
and prepared for study and research [Credit: Dan Chure]

New dinosaur name: Allosaurus jimmadseni

- The first part of the name, Allosaurus, (a·luh·SAW·ruhs) can be translated from Greek as the "other", "strange" or "different" and "lizard" or "reptile" literally to "different reptile". The second part of the name jimmadseni (gym-MAD-sehn-eye) honors the late Utah State Paleontologist James Madsen Jr. who excavated and studied tens of thousands of Allosaurus bones from the famous Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in central Utah and contributed greatly to the knowledge of Allosaurus.


- Allosaurus jimmadseni was approximately 26 to 29 feet (8-9 meters) long.

- Allosaurus jimmadseni weighed around 4000 lbs. (1.8 metric tonnes).


- Allosaurus jimmadseni belongs to a group of carnivorous dinosaurs called "allosauroids," the same group as the famous Allosaurus fragilis.

- Other dinosaurs found in rocks containing Allosaurus jimmadseni include the carnivorous theropods Torvosaurus and Ceratosaurus; the long-necked sauropods Haplocanthosaurus and Supersaurus; and the plate-backed stegosaur Hesperosaurus.

- Allosaurus jimmadseni is closely related to the State Fossil of Utah, Allosaurus fragilis.


- Allosaurus jimmadseni was a two-legged carnivore, with long forelimbs and sharp, recurved claws that were likely used for grasping prey.

- Like other allosauroid dinosaurs, Allosaurus jimmadseni had a large head full of 80 sharp teeth. It was also the most common carnivore in its ecosystem.

Age and geography

- Allosaurus jimmadseni lived during the Kimmeridgian stage of the Late Jurassic period, which spanned from approximately 157 million to 152 million years ago.

- Allosaurus jimmadseni lived in a semi-arid inland basin filled with floodplains, braided stream systems, lakes, and seasonal mudflats along the western interior of North America.

- Allosaurus jimmadseni represents the earliest species of Allosaurus in the world.

New species of Allosaurus discovered in Utah
Three species of Allosaurus [Credit: Chure and Loewen, 2020]


- Allosaurus jimmadseni can be found in a geologic unit known as the Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation and its equivalents exposed in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.

- The first specimen of Allosaurus jimmadseni was discovered in the National Park Service administered by Dinosaur National Monument in Uintah County, near Vernal, Utah.

- Allosaurus jimmadseni was first discovered by George Engelmann of the University of Nebraska, Omaha on July 15, 1990 during a contracted paleontological inventory of the Morrison Formation of Dinosaur National Monument.

- Another specimen of Allosaurus jimmadseni known as "Big Al," was found on land administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming.

- Further specimens of Allosaurus jimmadseni have been subsequently recognized in the collections of various museums.

- Allosaurus jimmadseni specimens are permanently housed in the collections of Dinosaur National Monument, Utah; the Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Montana; the Saurier Museum of Aathal, Switzerland; the South Dakota School of Mines, Rapid City, South Dakota; Brigham Young University's Museum of Paleontology, Provo, Utah; and the United States National Museum (Smithsonian) Washington D.C.

- These discoveries are the result of a continuing collaboration between the Natural History Museum of Utah, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.


- The first skeleton of Allosaurus jimmadseni was excavated during the summers of 1990 to 1994 by staff of the National Park Service's Dinosaur National Monument. The skeleton block was so heavy it required the use of explosives to remove surrounding rock and a helicopter to fly out the 2700 kg block. The head of the skeleton was missing

- The first bones of Allosaurus jimmadseni discovered included toes and some tail vertebrae. Later excavation revealed most of an articulated skeleton missing the head and part of the tail.

- The radioactive skull of the first specimen of Allosaurus jimmadseni, which had previously eluded discovery, was found in 1996 by Ramal Jones of the University of Utah using a radiation detector.

New species of Allosaurus discovered in Utah
Allosaurus jimmadseni, a new species of dinosaur discovered in Utah, has a distinctive
crests that run from the eyes to the nose [Credit: Andrey Atuchin]


- It required seven years to fully prepare all of the bones of Allosaurus jimmadseni.

- Much of the preparation was done by then Dinosaur National Monument employees Scott Madsen and Ann Elder, with some assistance from Dinosaur National Monument volunteers and students at Brigham Young University.


- The Natural History Museum of Utah houses the world's largest collection of Allosaurus fossils, which are frequently studied by researchers from around the world.

- More than 270 National Park Service (NPS) areas preserve fossils even though only 16 of those were established wholly or in part for their fossils. Fossils in NPS areas can be found in the rocks or sediments of a park, in museum collections, and in cultural contexts (building stones, artifacts, historical legends, and documents).

-The United States Bureau of Land Management manages more land--247 million acres--than any other federal agency, and manages paleontological resources using scientific principles and expertise.

Source: University of Utah [January 24, 2020]

* This article was originally published here


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