пятница, 28 февраля 2020 г.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years

Vivid frescoes and never-before-seen inscriptions were among the treasures unearthed in a massive years-long restoration of the world-famous archaeological site Pompeii that came to a close Tuesday.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico

The painstaking project saw an army of workers reinforce walls, repair collapsing structures and excavate untouched areas of the sprawling site, Italy's second most visited tourist destination after Rome's Colosseum.

New discoveries were made too, in areas of the ruins not yet explored by modern-day archaeologists at the site -- frequently pillaged for jewels and artefacts over the centuries.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico
"When you excavate in Pompeii there are always surprises," the site's general director Massimo Osanna told reporters Tuesday.

Archaeologists discovered in October a vivid fresco depicting an armour-clad gladiator standing victorious as his wounded opponent gushes blood, painted in a tavern believed to have housed the fighters as well as prostitutes.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico

And in 2018, an inscription was uncovered that proves the city near Naples was destroyed after October 17, 79 AD, and not on August 24 as previously believed.

That might not be the end of fresh discoveries.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico
"It's certain that by carrying out other excavation projects in areas never explored before, the discoveries will be extraordinary," Osanna added.

Kicked off in 2014, the restoration enlisted teams of archaeologists, architects, engineers, geologists and anthropologists and cost $113 million (105 million euros), largely covered by the European Union.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico

The project was initiated after UNESCO warned in 2013 it could strip the site of its World Heritage status after a series of collapses blamed on lax maintenance and bad weather. But the project has breathed new life into the historic site.

On Tuesday, workers carefully restored ancient frescoes, hues dulled by years of dirt and calcifications, and cleaned off centuries-old tile floors.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico
"You have to be careful not to take off too much," explained Aldo Guida, who was scratching at the surface of the oxblood walls of the 'House of Lovers', a two-storey home in the complex that was closed for repair after an earthquake in 1980.

"Little by little," he added, with a smile.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico

The 'House of Lovers' was named after a Latin verse inscribed on a wall next to an image of a duck reading "Lovers like bees live a life as sweet as honey".

The giant eruption of Mount Vesuvius devastated the ancient Roman city of Pompeii nearly 2,000 years ago, covering everything in its path with volcanic ash.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico
That sediment helped to preserve many buildings almost in their original state, as well as the curled-up corpses of Vesuvius' victims.

Some of the site has been closed to the public during the restoration, including several "domus" -- family residences for the upper classes -- that have been since reopened to the public.

Pompeii 'House of Lovers' reopens to public after 40 years
Credit: Pompeii - Parco Archeologico
The 'House of Orchards' features intricately detailed frescoes of fruit trees and birds, while the 'House of the Ship Europa' boasts a sketch of a large merchant ship.

Though the bulk of the restoration work is now complete, director Osanna said running repairs will never truly be over.

"It's a city in ruins," he said. "The attention we pay to it must never stop."

Author: Alexandria Sage | Source: AFP [February 18, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

четверг, 27 февраля 2020 г.

Evidence of 7,300-year-old massacre found in Spanish cave

The remains of Neolithic immigrants uncovered in modern-day Spain reveal they were brutally executed in a 'xenophobic murderous frenzy' over 7,000 years ago.

Evidence of 7,300-year-old massacre found in Spanish cave
View of the Els Trocs cave entrance located on the southern slope of a karst hill
on the high plateau of Selvaplana [Credit: Alt et al. 2020]
An international team of archaeologists excavated a cave in the modern day Spanish Pyrenees and found the mutilated remains of five adults and four children. The children were aged between three and seven and all nine of the people in the cage had not just been shot with arrows but beaten, even after they had died.

Lead researcher, Kurt W Alt from the University of Basel in Switzerland says the violence was without parallel in Spain or the rest of Europe at that time. He said it was likely triggered after a series of escalating incidents such as the theft of cattle, land disputes or even the theft of women with one group being part of the first wave of immigrants from what is now the Middle East.

The gruesome discovery was found in the Els Trocs cave which is in the mountain landscape of the Huesca region. It required painstaking excavation to avoid damaging the fragile ancient remains in what would have been both hunting and farming land. The remains have been dated to about 5,300 BC, which is when hunter-gatherers were being replaced by farmers.

Kurt Alt said the adults displayed consistent arrow-shot injuries to the skull but not to the skeleton and the children and adults showed traces of blunt violence to the skull and entire skeleton. This suggests that the bones they discovered, which were broken and shattered, were first shot then bludgeoned, sometimes after the death of the victim.

Evidence of 7,300-year-old massacre found in Spanish cave
Geographic location of the Els Trocs cave site in Spain and the Pyrenees and its mountain
 setting on the Selvaplana plateau [Credit: Alt et al. 2020]
The massacre could have been caused by territorial disputes, the theft of cattle or even the theft of women that escalated until they led to slaughter. Genetic data from the victims found they were in the first wave of immigrants from the Middle East, who spread throughout Europe about 10,000 years ago.

The discovery in the cave documents an early escalation of violence between people of  "conceivably different origins and worldviews", according to the paper published in Scientific Reports.

This could have been between natives and migrants or between economic or social rivals, battling for domination, or settling differences. "The conflict conveys the impression of a xenophobic action; the type of aggression suggests a clash between enemy groups."

The researchers studied the genome of the victims of the attack and found that two of them were father and son - a male of about 30 and a boy of about six. The other three children had different mothers and the genomes haven't been studied to the same detail.

Evidence of 7,300-year-old massacre found in Spanish cave
Cases of fatal arrow-shot injuries from Els Trocs cave site. After the victims were shot with arrows they were then
 driven into the cave. When they were in the cave the victims were then subjected to further attacks
with blunt force instruments, some continuing after their death [Credit: Alt et al. 2020]
It is likely they were all part of the same cultural group though, possibility farming immigrants coming in to an area dominated by hunter gatherers. At the time the victims lived agricultural and agrarian societies were starting to develop and researchers think the victims were immigrants that started farming.

The researchers suggest that the attackers could have been local hunter-gatherers or another group of migrant farmers. If they were migrants then the attack may have been sparked by a land dispute over farming space.

However, if they were locals then the researchers suggest that they may have viewed the migrants as invaders in their foraging grounds.

The team say that the extraordinary significance of this violent conflict is early evidence of intentional violence in the Neolithic period. It dates the first events of collective violence against a group to the final phase of the first farming cultures in central Europe at the end of the 5th millennium BC.

Evidence of 7,300-year-old massacre found in Spanish cave
Battle scene from the Les Dogues rock shelter (Ares del Maestre, Castellon, Spain)
 [Credit: Alt et al. 2020]
"This was a phase of upheaval and change", the authors say.

An unusual feature of this violence is the remote geographical location of the site, away from the early Neolithic migration routes on the Iberian Peninsula, which are located inshore or along the Ebro valley.

Another author on the paper, Joe Ignacio Royo, a local expert, said he wouldn't go as far as to call it a ritual killing. "It seems that they were wounded with arrows in the vicinity of the cave, and that they were later taken into it," he said.

Inside the cave the victims where subjected to "vicious beatings, even after death." The attacks were so violent he described them as a kind of "second execution, a murderous frenzy".

Author: Ryan Morisson | Source: Daily Mail [February 15, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

среда, 26 февраля 2020 г.

New findings on the Early Neolithic in Wurttemberg, Germany

New settlement structures were discovered during research excavations by the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments (LAD) in the Stuttgart Regional Council and the University of Tubingen in the area of a large settlement of the oldest rural culture in Central Europe (Linear Pottery, 2nd half of the 6th millennium BC) near Ammerbuch-Pfaffingen. Current scientific analyses of the finds obtained during the excavations provide new insights into the beginning of agriculture and livestock breeding in southwestern Germany. The associated sedentary way of life provides the basis for the development of incisive new cultural techniques that shape our lives today, including the production of ceramics and textiles and finally the development of the wheel and cart in a later phase of the Neolithic period .

New findings on the Early Neolithic in Wurttemberg, Germany
Burial of a 30- to 40-year-old woman from the early Neolithic period, who was buried in a
left-handed squatting position [Credit: L. Brandtstatter/Uni Tubingen, LAD]

On the basis of geomagnetic measurements, a ditch system was identified for the first time in the "Lusse" corridor on the north-western outskirts of Ammerbuch-Pfaffingen, which surrounded large parts of a Neolithic settlement during the Early Neolithic period. Although such settlement enclosures are typical for Neolithic settlements, they have not yet been detected in the Neckar area.

Due to the ongoing archaeological excavations, which are being conducted under the direction of Professor Dr. Raiko Krauß, Institute for Pre- and Early History and Archaeology of the Middle Ages at the University of Tubingen, and Dr. Jorg Bofinger of the LAD, it was possible to determine the layout of a ditch dating to the beginning of the 5th millennium BC. The filling of this settlement perimeter with the rubble of burnt down houses and with large quantities of charred cereal grains, primarily emmer and einkorn, indicate a decisive event during the early phase of the Neolithic village.

During the course of the 5th millennium BC, the settlement area was apparently also used as a burial ground. During the excavations of the previous year, the grave of a three- to four-year-old girl was identified, who was buried in a niche within the ditch in a squatting position. The skull of another person also emerged from the backfilling of the ditch. During the excavation campaign in spring this year (2019), the grave of a woman who died between the ages of 30 and 40 was discovered and documented. On the basis of radiocarbon measurements, the age of this burial can now also be placed in the 52nd century BC.

New findings on the Early Neolithic in Wurttemberg, Germany
Limestone beads from a necklace [Credit: M. Korolnik, University of Tubingen]

The deceased wore a necklace of 16 small, double-conical marble-like limestone beads on her neck. These beads were not known in this form from the early Neolithic period in southern Germany and are evidence of the high level of craftsmanship and care in jewellery making. On a wider scale, however, these beads can be compared with finds from the Carpathian Basin and the Balkan region, i.e. the areas from which the first farmers migrated to Central Europe with their domestic animals and cultivated plants.

Genetic analyses of human skeletal material confirm that the process of settling in Central Europe is largely due to the immigration of a new population group. The role played by the indigenous Mesolithic population, who demonstrably lived in the region for a very long time as hunter-gatherers, but who did not adopt the newly introduced farming practices, will be the subject of further investigations in the vicinity of the Neolithic settlement.

From the Neolithic settlement remains a series of new radiocarbon dating (14C) has been established, which together with the evaluation of the material finds provides the basis for a development model of the settlement sequence in the region. The reconstruction of the settlement history of the first sedentary population groups in the Upper Neckar and Ammer valleys exemplifies the neolithization of Central Europe and helps to understand how our present way of life was able to assert itself in cultural history.

Source: Universitat Tubingen [trsl. TANN, February 15, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

вторник, 25 февраля 2020 г.

Oldest reconstructed bacterial genomes link farming, herding with emergence of new disease

The Neolithic revolution, and the corresponding transition to agricultural and pastoralist lifestyles, represents one of the greatest cultural shifts in human history, and it has long been hypothesized that this might have also provided the opportunity for the emergence of human-adapted diseases. A new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution led by Felix M. Key, Alexander Herbig, and Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History studied human remains excavated across Western Eurasia and reconstructed eight ancient Salmonella enterica genomes - all part of a related group within the much larger diversity of modern S. enterica. These results illuminate what was likely a serious health concern in the past and reveal how this bacterial pathogen evolved over a period of 6,500 years.

Oldest reconstructed bacterial genomes link farming, herding with emergence of new disease
Skull of the ETR001 sample [Credit: Alessandro Riga]

Most pathogens do not cause any lasting impact on the skeleton, which can make identifying affected archeological remains difficult for scientists. In order to identify past diseases and reconstruct their histories, researchers have turned to genetic techniques. Using a newly developed bacterial screening pipeline called HOPS, Key and colleagues were able to overcome many of the challenges of finding ancient pathogens in metagenomics data.

"With our newly developed methodologies we were able to screen thousands of archaeological samples for traces of Salmonella DNA," says Herbig. The researchers screened 2,739 ancient human remains in total, eventually reconstructing eight Salmonella genomes up to 6,500 years old - the oldest reconstructed bacterial genomes to date. This highlights an inherent difficulty in the field of ancient pathogen research, as hundreds of human samples are often required to recover just a single microbial genome. The genomes in the current study were recovered by taking samples from the teeth of the deceased. The presence of S. enterica in the teeth of these ancient individuals suggests they were suffering from systemic disease at their time of death.

The individuals whose remains were studied came from sites located from Russia to Switzerland, representing different cultural groups, from late hunter-gatherers to nomadic herders to early farmers. "This broad spectrum in time, geography and culture allowed us, for the first time, to apply molecular genetics to link the evolution of a pathogen to the development of a new human lifestyle," explained Herbig.

Oldest reconstructed bacterial genomes link farming, herding with emergence of new disease
IV3002 Tooth [Credit: Wolfgang Haak]

With the introduction of domesticated animals, increased contact with both human and animal excrement, and a dramatic change in mobility, it has long been hypothesized that "Neolithization" - the transition to a sedentary, agricultural lifestyle - enabled more constant and recurrent exposure to pathogens and thus the emergence of new diseases. However, prior to the current study, there was no direct molecular evidence.

"Ancient metagenomics provides an unprecedented window into the past of human diseases," says lead author Felix M. Key, formerly of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "We now have molecular data to understand the emergence and spread of pathogens thousands of years ago, and it is exciting how we can utilize high-throughput technology to address long standing questions about microbial evolution."

The researchers were able to determine that all six Salmonella genomes recovered from herders and farmers are progenitors to a strain that specifically infects humans but is rare today, Paratyphi C. Those ancient Salmonella, however, were probably not yet adapted to humans, and instead infected humans and animals alike, which suggests the cultural practices uniquely associated with the Neolithization process facilitated the emergence of those progenitors and subsequently human-specific disease. It was previously suggested that this strain of Salmonella spread from domesticated pigs to humans around 4000 years ago, but the discovery of progenitor strains in humans more than 5000 years ago suggests they might have spread from humans to pigs. However, the authors argue for a more moderate hypothesis, where both human and pig specific Salmonella evolved independently from unspecific progenitors within the permissive environment of close human-animal contact.

Oldest reconstructed bacterial genomes link farming, herding with emergence of new disease
Panorama view of the cave "Riparo sotto roccia Su Asedazzu" in Seulo, Italy,
which provided sample SUA004 [Credit: John Novembre]

"The fascinating possibilities of ancient DNA allow us to examine infectious microbes in the past, which sometimes puts the spotlight on diseases that today most people don't consider to be a major health concern," says Johannes Krause, director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

The current study allows the scientists to gain a perspective on the changes in the disease over time and in different human cultural contexts. "We're beginning to understand the genetics of host adaptation in Salmonella," says Key, "and we can translate that knowledge into mechanistic understanding about the emergence of human and animal adapted diseases."

The scientists hope that the current study will illuminate the possibilities of these methods and that future research will further examine the ways that human cultural evolution has impacted and driven the evolution of human-adapted diseases.

Source: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History [February 24, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

понедельник, 24 февраля 2020 г.

Was the removal of the Parthenon Sculptures illegal?

One of the most debated issues regarding the removal of the Acropolis sculptures by Lord Elgin and their transfer to England in 1800-01 is the legality of that act. In the present essay we will confine ourselves to the written evidence invoked to support the legality of the marbles' removal. This evidence is an English translation of an Italian translation of a Turkish document. It was presented by Dr Hunt, chaplain to Elgin, to the British Parliamentary Committee formed in 1816 to examine the issue of the marbles' acquisition by Elgin. The Turkish document itself, together with any other written testimony which could confirm that Elgin acted on the legitimate approval of the Ottoman authorities, has been lost.

Was the removal of the Parthenon Sculptures illegal?
This painting by Archibald Archer (1819) shows an idealised view of the Temporary Elgin Room at the Museum in 1819,
with portraits of staff, a trustee and visitors. The room was designed by the Museum’s architect, Robert Smirke, for
 the temporary display of the sculptures from the Parthenon brought from Athens by Lord Elgin known as
the 'Elgin Marbles', purchased by the Government and deposited in the British Museum in 1816
 [Credit: WikiCommons]
According to Dr Greenfield, who has recently dealt with the issue of the restitution of objects of cultural significance to their countries of origin, 'it is often presupposed that the legal position regarding the marbles is beyond serious dispute. This point of view has never been closely examined and demands serious scrutiny. . . The view of the British Government has also always been expressed in terms of the legality of the acquisition of the marbles. The Trustees and officials of the British museum have often gone on record as saying that the marbles were legally purchased... In the House of Lords debate of the proposed amendment in 1983 to the British Museum Act, Lord Nugent declared that the 'question of legal ownership is beyond all doubt'. (1) The legality of this act, therefore, is taken for granted by the British Government and the Trustees of British Museum and is not debated.

Professor Merryman of Stanford University is of the same opinion, which he supports, relying 'upon the subsequent acts of ratification by the Turkish authorities to overcome any arguments about those actions taken in excess of the original terms of the firman. In particular there were said to be two such instances of acquiescence, namely the issue by the sultan of additional firmans addressed to the voivode and disdar of Athens, in which he generally sanctioned what those local officials had done for Elgin and his party, and written orders by the Ottoman government to the Athenian government releasing a shipment of marbles to England when they were held up in Piraeus, the port of Athens. Again, whilst these events are referred to in correspondence, there are no authentic original documents in existence'. (2)

It is expedient, first of all, to go through the events that led to the issue of this single document. Lord Elgin was appointed ambassador of Great Britain to Constantinople in 1799. Even before setting out for his new post, he had planned to employ painters and designers to make replicas of Greek antiquities, following the cultural trends of his time (3). Passing through Sicily, he met painter and designer, Giovanni Batista Lusieri, who convinced Elgin to turn his interest to Athens (4). While in Italy, Elgin and his personal secretary, W. R. Hamilton, hired some painters and architects who, after going to Constantinople, arrived in Athens at the end of July 1800 (5). There they met Spiridon Logothetis, the British Consul, who helped them to settle and start their work (6).

Elgin's men had from the beginning difficulties in getting access to the Acropolis to draw sketches and pictures of the monuments. They, like other travellers before them, had to bribe the Turkish dizdar into allowing them entry. It was later stated that the amount of money they gave to the dizdar was 5 guineas a day (7). If that was true, the total amount would have been incredibly high, especially since Lusieri's salary was 200 English pounds a year.

The sum of 5 guineas a day was even characterized as 'monstrous' by Smith. Many years later in Egypt an English pound was equivalent to 72 piastres (gurus) (8). A payment of 5 guineas would suggest that they were paying at least 400 piastres a day to enter the Acropolis when Logothetis wrote to Elgin during the same period (September 1800) that 100 piastres was enough for the dizdar and another 100 for the Turks living around the Parthenon, a mosque at the time. Logothetis also asked for a letter recommending the artists and himself to the voivode,(9) the representative of Kizlar Agasi, the Archieunuch of the Sultan's Harem, under whose authority Athens was a 'vakouf' of the Sultan's mother (Valide Sultan). According to Elgin's statement to the Parliamentary Committee which examined the marbles' acquisition, payment of the 5 guineas a day went on from August 1800 to April 1801 (10).

In February 1801 Logothetis asked in another letter for a firman that would allow Elgin's artists free access to the Acropolis. In March, the document they were expecting did not arrive.

In the spring of 1801 Lusieri went to Constantinople, obviously to brief Elgin on the progress of their work. At the beginning of March, Lusieri left for Athens where he arrived on 15 April. According to Smith, 'a firman of some sort seems to have been obtained and forwarded to Logotheti, but it failed to reached him for a long time, and turned out to be an illusory document' (11). In other words, it has never existed.

Lusieri wrote to Elgin that his men were facing difficulties in carrying out their duties because they did not have the necessary firman, supposedly sent by Elgin to Logothetis before his departure from Constantinople; it follows, that he did not have any document on his arrival in Athens. According to Lusieri,(12) Logothetis had never received the document. The dizdar declared that he could no longer allow Elgin's men to enter the Acropolis without a firman, because the kadas and the voivode threatened him, and so Lusieri begged Elgin to have one sent as soon as possible, with a content that would prevent the occurrence of new obstacles (13). By the time Hunt arrived in Athens on 16 May, no document had been received. He himself then wrote to Elgin asking for the firman, otherwise it would be impossible to carry out any work of copying and drawing of the monuments (14).

The document, so much desired by Elgin and his men, and used to justify the removal of the Parthenon metopes, the Caryatid, and other antiquities from the Acropolis, was at last issued on 1 July 1801. A few days earlier, the French army in Egypt surrendered to the British army. It seems that Elgin took advantage of the situation and was granted by the Turks, as a gesture of gratitude, what he had been requesting, to no avail, for a long time. Elgin received it on 6 July and, two days later, Hunt, who was in Constantinople again, left for Athens, arriving on the twenty-second of the same month. He presented it to the Turkish authorities the next day; Elgin's workmen were now free to begin their task (15).

The English translation of this document, the only one to survive, is as follows:

'Translation from the Italian of a Fermaun, or Official Letter from the Caimakan Pasha, (who filled the office of Grand Vizier at the Porte, during that minister's absence in Egypt) addressed to the Cadi or Chief Judge, and to the Faivode or Governor of Athens, in 1801.'

"After the usual introductory complimerns, and the salutation of Peace, it is hereby signified to you, that our sincere Friend his Excellency Lord Elgin, Ambassador Extraordinary from the Court of England to the Porte of Happiness, hath represented to us, that it is well known that the greater part of the Frank (i.e. Christian) Courts are anxious to read and investigate the books, pictures or figures, and other works of science of the ancient Greek philosophers: and that in particular, the ministers or officers of state, philosophers, primates and other individuals of England, have a remarkable taste for the drawings, or figures or sculptures, remaining ever since the time of the said Greeks, and which are to be seen on the shores of the Archipelago and other parts; and have in consequence from time to time sent men to explore and examine the ancient edifices, and drawings or figures. And that some accomplished, Dilletanti , of the Court of England, being desirous to see the ancient buildings and the curious figures in the City of Athens, and the old walls remaining since the time of the Grecians, which now subsist in the interior part of the said place; his Excellency the said Ambassador hath therefore engaged five English painters, now dwelling at Athens, to examine and view, and also to copy the figures remaining there, ab antiquo : And he hath also at this time expressly besought us that an Official Letter may be written from hence, ordering that as long as the said painters shall be employed in going in and out of the said citadel of Athens, which is the place of their occupations; and in fixing scaffolding round the ancient Temple of the Idols there; and moulding the ornamental sculpture and visible figures thereon, in plaster or gypsum; and in measuring the remains of other old ruined buildings there; and in excavating when they find it necessary the foundations, in order to discover inscriptions which may have been covered in the rubbish; that no interruption may be given them, nor any obstacle thrown in their way by the Disdar (or commandant of the citadel) or any other person; that no one may meddle with the scaffolding or implements they may require in their works; and that when they wish to take away any pieces of stone with old inscriptions or figures thereon, that no opposition be made thereto .

We therefore have written this Letter to you , and expedited it by Mr. Philip Hunt, an English gentleman, Secretary of the aforesaid Ambassador, in order that as soon as you shall have understood its meaning, namely , that it is the explicit desire and engagement of this Sublime Court endowed with all eminent qualities, to favour such requests as the above-mentioned, in conformity with what is due to the friendship, sincerity, alliance and good will subsisting ab antiquo between the Sublime and ever durable Ottoman Court and that of England, and which is on the side of both those Courts manifestly increasing; particularly as there is no harm in the said figures and edifices being thus viewed, contemplated and designed. Therefore, after having fulfilled the duties of hospitality, and given a proper reception to the aforesaid Artists, in compliance with the urgent request of the said ambassador to that effect, and because it is incumbent on us to provide that they meet no opposition in walking, viewing, or contemplating the figures and edifices they may wish to design or copy; or in any of their works of fixing scaffolding, or using their various implements; it is our desire that on the arrival of this Letter you use your diligence to act conformably to the instances of the said Ambassador, as long as the said five Artists dwelling at Athens shall be employed in going in and out of the said citadel of Athens, which is the place of their occupations; or in fixing scaffolding around the ancient Temple of the Idols, or in modeling with chalk or gypsum the said ornaments and visible figures thereon; or in measuring the fragments and vestiges of other ruined edifices; or in excavating, when they find it necessary, the foundations, in search of inscriptions among the rubbish; that they be not molested by the said Disdar (or commandant of the citadel) not by any other persons, not even by you (to whom this letter is addressed); and that no one meddle with their scaffolding or implements, nor hinder them from taking away any pieces of stone with inscriptions or figures. In the above-mentioned manner, see that ye demean and compound yourselves."

(signed with a signet) SEGED ABDULLAH KAIMACAN.

N.B. The words in Italian rendered in two places 'any pieces of stone', are 'qalche pezzi di pietra' (16).

We are not going to examine whether this document gave permission to Elgin to remove the sculptures from the Acropolis and transfer them to England. It is obvious that there is no such allusion in its content. Besides, it was only during the course of the works that Hunt asked and, after some hesitation, received authorization to remove one metope from the Parthenon. From then on, the removal of more was easy. Hunt himself admitted in 1816 to the House of Commons Committee constituted to consider the purchase of the monuments, that 'the voivode had been induced "to extend rather than contract the precise permission of the firman" ' (17). It seems that the voivode was in some way persuaded to allow much more than was stated in the document.

It becomes evident from the above that the legality of the marbles' removal, even taking into account the extension of the initial order, is based upon this single document, everywhere referred to as a 'firman'.

To understand the legal importance of this unique document upon which the legality of Elgin's enterprise is based, one has to consider the diplomatic language of the Ottoman documents, as well as the whole organization and operation of the Ottoman administration during the beginning of the nineteenth century. In the Ottoman empire during that period, there was no legislative body to debate and enact the state's legislation. Being a theocratic and authoritarian state, what was only acceptable was the 'holy law of Islam' (shari'a) as the basis of the state and the sultan's right to amend the provisions of the holy law, where that was inadequate, with decrees not contradictory to it (orf). This right was expressed in firmans. Any act, therefore, that followed the issue of a relevant firman was legal, as it had the approval of the legislator, the sultan. In this case, we could accept that Elgin acted on the lawful permission of the Ottoman authorities, despite extending his right to copy the antiquities to the point of removing them. Is the document presented as such a firman, however?

Any expert in Ottoman diplomatic language can easily ascertain that the original of the document which has survived was not a firman. 'Ferman, in Turkish, denotes any order or edict of the Ottoman sultan. In a more limited sense it means a decree of the sultan headed by his cypher (tughra) and composed in a certain form' (18).

A firman has some common features that distinguish it from documents of other types. First, the tougras, the emblem of the sultan. A firman's compilation is always the same. The document begins with the 'invocatio', invocation to God (da' vet tahmid). After a long gap, a sign of respect to God, there follows the sultan's 'monogram' with his name, his father's name and the wish 'for ever victorious' in Arabic. The text begins by mentioning the official or officials to whom it is addressed ('inscriptio'). Before each name, a series of complementing phrases is written in Arabic, pertinent to the position and rank of the person (elkab), followed by a wish, in Arabic as well (du'a).The text includes characteristic phrases typical only to a firman. The presentation of the case ('narratio') always begins with the clause 'Upon arrival of the great imperial document, let it be known that:' (Tevki-i ref' i-i humayun vasil olicak ma'lum ola ki). The order ('dispositio') begins with phrases such as 'if it is thus' 'now (it is necessary)', 'upon the arrival of my high command', etc. (oyle olsa, imdi gerekdir ki, hukm-i sherifim vusul buldukta) or in other instances with the words 'I have ordered so that' (buyurdum ki). The ratification of the command ('corroboratio') is expressed with the words: 'So you should know and obey to my great emblem (the tougra)'. (Soyle bilesiz; alamet-i sherifim itimad kilasiz). All these features are absent from the text of the document referred to as a firman.

Furthermore, a firman always ends with the date of issue in Arabic and in full, followed by the place of issue written separately on the left corner. These features are also absent from the document. Finally, a firman never mentions the name of the editor, for it is issued in the name of the sultan, and it certainly does not bear his seal. These are features of a common letter or document of the official issuing it. Consequently, the document whose translation we have is not a firman.

The document is not even a 'buyuruldu', (19) a formal order of a vezir, a rank held by the 'kaimakamis', and he could issue it. A document of this kind bears on the top right end the emblem (pence) with the name of the editor. During the time of issue of the document we examine here, it also bears his seal and always ends with the word buyuruldu (it has been ordered), hence its name, written in the form of a discontinuous line. It is nearly always dated.

Such an order, though, would bring the kaimakami into disrepute, since it would not be based on a sultan's command as it should. This document is nothing more than a 'letter' (mektub), as named in its text. In this type of document, the name of the sender is indicated at the end of the text, in the left corner, where is also fixed the personal seal on the ring of the editor, different from the big seal used in a buyurdi. These letters are not dated in most cases. The document is an Official Letter, as referred to in its text, and not an order. It starts by mentioning the officials of the Ottoman administration to whom it is addressed, with the usual compliments that accompany an address in similar documents and the 'salutation of peace', a wish for the addressee. The document was sent to the Cadi, or Chief Judge of the city who had the duty of entering the text of the document in the register of the court (sicil) and of overseeing its application, and to the voivode of the city, the highest-ranking administrative and judicial representatives of the state.

The document consists of two parts. The first defines the reasons for which it was issued. It is clear that it repeats, as was customary, almost word for word the content of Elgin's document with which he asked for a firman, but received this 'official letter' instead. The reference to the 'Dilletanti', the number of the five 'English painters' working in Athens, and the detailed description of their work there, must derive from Elgin's document.

The second part of the document, which reiterates the first in many points, states what the recipients should do. Nowhere, however, does it have the meaning of an order. The expressions used are typical: 'it is the explicit desire and engagement of this Sublime Court', i.e. the official sending the document; 'It is our desire that.. .'. Therefore, it is a wish and not an order or enforcement of a law or a sultan's command.

The editor of the document was Kaimmakam Seyid (descendant of Prophet Mohammed), Abdullah Pasha. He was born in 1762-63. His father, Antali Omer Pasha, went to Constantinople where he became a civil servant. He had had several posts before becoming cavush-bashi (in command of the body of the Cavushes) (20) from 1794 to 1796.

On 1 December 1799, having the rank of vezir and the title of Vali of Anadolu, he was appointed Kaimmakam (deputy) of the Grand Vezir Kor Yusuf Ziyauddin Pasha (21) who was in Egypt in charge of the war against the French army. According to Sureyya, biographer of personalities from the Ottoman state, Abdullah Pasha died on 10 February 1801 (2 Sevval 1215) (22). This date cannot be correct, because it would exclude him from issuing the document of 1 July 1801. According to the historian of the Ottoman Empire, Cevded, Abdullah Pasha died from cardiac arrest on 5 February 1802 (2 Sevval 1216) (23). He was replaced by cavus-bashi Mustafa Bey who was promoted to the rank of vezir (24).

Cevded gives a fairly detailed account of Abdullah Pasha's death, making him a more informed and credible source than Sureyya. The latter mentions only the date of Abdullah Pa~a's death, probably based on Cevded but copying erroneously the year of his death.

Abdullah Pasha issued the letter that survived in translation, as a gesture of gratitude to the British ambassador who was at that time at the peak of his influence at the Porte because of the successful outcome of the war in Egypt. But Abdullah Pasha would not dare to issue a firman to the same effect because he would need the approval of the sultan himself, who would probably reject Elgin's request. Consequently, the document upon which the 'legality' of the removal of the Acropolis monuments is based had neither the strength of a law nor even that of a legal order of the sultan's government, as it would have if it was a firman, but it is simply a 'reference letter' supplied to the British ambassador by the deputy of the Grand Vezir, succumbing to his persistent demands and his powerful influence at the time. The fact that such a document of inferior authority was enough for the authorities in Athens to allow the ravage of the Acropolis should not surprise us. Elgin himself later said that: 'in point of fact, all permissions issuing from the Porte to any distant provinces, are little better than authorities to make the best bargain that can be made with the local magistracies' (25).

The alleged existence of another earlier 'firman', the one which was lost in a mysterious way and never reached Athens, is contradicted by the surviving document. An earlier order, especially one by the sultan, should have been referred to in the document we have. This is the bureaucratic Ottoman custom evident in countless Ottoman documents. If there was such a firman, the editor of the document concerned would be quick to mention it in order to validate his own order. But there is no reference to any earlier document, for the simple reason that there was not one.

Also doubtful is the existence of the documents which, according to Cook, Elgin acquired from the Turkish government when he returned from his visit to Greece in the Summer of 1802, and which approved of all that the voivode and the dizdar did in Athens to help Lusieri, working on behalf of Elgin. It is very strange and unusual for the 'Turkish government' (there was not a government in the modern sense of the word, i.e. with a prime minister and ministers with responsibilities, at the time of the Ottoman Empire) to ratify years later acts of previous officials -- Seyid Abdullah Pasha had already died -- that were not legally sanctioned and their legality outside the Ottoman Empire could in future be disputed.

Cook adds that these documents were handed to these two officers by Lusieri and even copies of them did not survive. The truth is that documents issued by any Turkish authority were always held by the persons concerned and not by the authorities addressed to and only one copy of them was recorded in the register of every kadas. It is thus curious, to say the least, that none of the Turkish documents alleged to have been issued for the removal of the Acropolis marbles has survived.


1. JEANETTE GREENFIELD, The Return of Cultural Treasures, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 76-7.

2. JOHN MERRYMAN, 'Thinking about the Elgin Marbles', Michigan Law Review, vol. 83, no. 8, August 1985, p.1899, 1985. GREENFIELD, op. cit., p. 80.

3. A. H. SMITH, Lord Elgin and his Collection', Journal of Hellenic Studies, 1916, pp. 165-66.

4. SMITH, op. cit., p. 169

5. SM1TH, op. cit., pp. 172--73.

6. SMITH, op. cit., p.179.

7. SMITH, op. cit. i., p.l80.

8. EDUARDS LANE, The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, Everyman's Library (1st ed. 1860). London 1963, p. 579.

9. 'It became common for pashas to appoint agents for the administration of. . . districts, under the name mutesellim for sancaks and voyvoda for kadas, and to share with them the revenues derivable from the tax-farms which the pashas now frequently held themselves, on a life tenure. The sole interest of these agents was to make as much money as they could while the opportunity was still theirs.' (H. A. R. GIBB-HAROLD BOWEN, Islamic Society and the West, vol. 1, Islamic Society in the Eighteenth Century. Part 1, Oxford University Press, London, New York, Toronto 1963, p. 198.

10. SMITH, op. cit., p. 181.

11. 'A firman of some sort seems to have been obtained and forwarded to Logotheti, but it failed to reach him for a long time, and turned out to be an illusory document.' SMITH, op. cit., p. 183.

I2. SMITH op. cit., p. 185.

13. 'I therefore beg your Excellency to have one sent to us as soon as possible, drawn up in such terms as to prevent us meeting with new difficulties in resuming and peaceably continuing our work.', SMITH, op. cit., p. 186.

14. 'Positive Firmans must, however, be obtained from the Porte, to enable the Architects and Modelers to proceed in their most interesting labours. . . . Till those firmans are obtained, the bas-reliefs on the frieze, and the Groupes on the Metopes can neither be modeled nor drawn.' (SMITH, op. cit., p. 88).

15. For these dates see B. F. COOK, The Elgin Marbles, British Museum Publications, p. 55

16. SMITH, op. cit., p. 69.

17. 'The Voivode had been induced "to extend rather than contract the precise permission of the firman" (COOK, op. cit. p. 58).

l8. U. HEYD, Ferman, Encyclopedia of Islam.

19. Buyuruldu: order of an Ottoman grand vizier, vizier, beglerbegi, defterdar, or other high official to a subordinate (U. HEYD, Buyuruldu, Encyclopedia of Islam).

20. The position of cavush-bashi was very important in the central administration during the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. His duties were numerous and varied. 'Owing to the assumption of the Sultan's judicial functions by the Grand Vezir, the Cavush-Bashi, whose primary duty it was to conduct proceedings at the sitting of the court in which these functions were performed, came to attend more generally on the minister rather than on the monarch and so to be regarded as yet another of his lieutenants: it is for this reason that the Cavush-Bashi appears not only as an officer of the Household but as a functionary of the administration . . . In later times the Cavush-Bashi performed a variety of duties. They all had their origin, however, in his command of the Cavushes.. . The Cavush-Bashi, gave them the necessary orders and also played an important pan in the proceedings of the court. By the eighteenth century he had come indeed to be regarded as its vice-president.. . It was the duty of the Cavushes under him to marshal petitioners, litigants, and accused persons in the Grand Vezir's court, to carry messages and to execute certain sentences. (GIBB-BOWEN, op. cit., pp. 117-19).

21. 'Vezjrs appointed to replace the Grand Vezir when he was commanding in the field were called Ka'im-makam, It was generally the Second Vezir that was given this duty. He enjoyed for the time being almost all the authority of a Grand Vezir except in the area where the army was operating, though less than his pomp. For since most of the principal officers and officials of the administration would accompany the Grand Vezir on campaign, the Ka'im-makam had, to support him at home, only the officers and officials that were appointed to replace them. This curious system dated from the days when the Sultans led their armies to war in person. Their chief ministers followed them, leaving substitutes at the capital. And in later times it was continued even when the sultans remained at home and the Grand Vezirs commanded.' (GIBB-BOWEN, op. cit., p. 114).

22. MEHMED SUREYYA, Sicil-i Osmani veyahud Tezkere-i Meshahir-i Osmaniyye (Ottoman Code or Biographies of Renowned Ottomans), Istanbul 1311, (1895), vol. 3, p. 391.

23. AHMED CEVDED, Tarih (History), Istanbul 1301-07 (1885-91), vol. 7, pp. 143-44.

24. CEVDED, op. cit., p. 145.

25. GREENFIELD op. cit., p. 78.

26. COOK, op. cit., p. 59.

This document was included as Appendix A to the submission of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles to the House of Commons Select Committee.

Author: Professor Vassilis Demetriades, University of Crete | Source: Parthenon NewMentor [February 13, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

воскресенье, 23 февраля 2020 г.

Archaeologists discover lost city that may have conquered the kingdom of Midas

Archaeologists from the Oriental Institute have discovered a lost ancient kingdom dating to 1400 BC to 600 BC, which may have defeated Phrygia, the kingdom ruled by King Midas, in battle.

Archaeologists discover lost city that may have conquered the kingdom of Midas
A tip from a local Turkish farmer led archaeologists to this stone half-submerged in an irrigation canal.
Inscriptions from the 8th century BC are still visible [Credit: James Osborne]
University of Chicago scholars and students were surveying a site with Turkish and British colleagues last summer in southern Turkey called Turkmen-Karahoyuk, when a local farmer told them he'd seen a big stone with strange inscriptions while dredging a nearby irrigation canal the previous winter.

"We rushed straight there, and we could see it still sticking out of the water, so we jumped right down into the canal—up to our waists wading around," said Asst. Prof. James Osborne of the OI, one of the foremost centers of research on the ancient world. "Right away it was clear it was ancient, and we recognized the script it was written in: Luwian, the language used in the Bronze and Iron ages in the area."

Translated by OI scholars, the pronouncement boasted of defeating Phrygia, the kingdom ruled by King Midas, legendary ancient ruler said to have a golden touch.

Osborne said it appears the city at its height covered about 300 acres, which would make it one of the largest ancient cities of Bronze and Iron Age Turkey. They don't yet know what the kingdom was called, but Osborne said its discovery is revolutionary news in the field.

"We had no idea about this kingdom. In a flash, we had profound new information on the Bronze Age Middle East," said Osborne, an archaeologist who specializes in examining the expression of political authority in Iron Age cities.

Archaeologists discover lost city that may have conquered the kingdom of Midas
Example of a Luwian inscription, uncovered from a nearby dig
[Credit: Oriental Institute]
Working under the Konya Regional Archaeological Survey Project, Osborne and UChicago students were mapping the site as part of the Turkmen-Karahoyuk Intensive Survey Project, located in an area littered with other famous ancient cities. Just by walking around the site's surface, they collected bits of broken pottery from three thousand years of habitation at the site—a rich and promising find—until the farmer's chance visit pointed them to the stone block known as a stele.

Osborne immediately identified a special hieroglyphic marking that symbolized the message came from a king. The farmer helped pull the massively heavy stone stele out of the irrigation canal with a tractor. From there it went to the local Turkish museum, where it was cleaned, photographed and readied for translation.

The hieroglyphs were written in Luwian, one of the oldest branches of the Indo-European languages. A unique language written in hieroglyphic signs native to the Turkish area, Luwian is read alternating between right to left and left to right.

While Osborne isn't an expert in reading the Luwian language, luckily he works down the hall from two of the foremost experts in the world on Luwian: OI colleagues Petra Goedegebuure and Theo P.J. van den Hout—editors of the Chicago Hittite Dictionary.

Their translation revealed that the stele king was called Hartapu, and Turkmen-Karahoyuk was probably his capital city. The stone tells the tale of King Hartapu's conquest of the nearby kingdom of Muska, better known as Phrygia—home to King Midas. "The storm gods delivered the [opposing] kings to his majesty," the stone read.

Archaeologists discover lost city that may have conquered the kingdom of Midas
Full view of the archaeological mound at Turkmen-Karahoyuk. It appears the unknown city
at its height covered about 300 acres [Credit: James Osborne]
The OI's linguistic analysis suggested the stele was composed in the late-eighth-century B.C., which lines up with the time that Midas ruled.

It answers a long-standing mystery, though; not quite 10 miles to the south is a volcano with a well-known inscription in hieroglyphics. It refers to a King Hartapu, but no one knew who he was—or what kingdom he ruled.

Following a longstanding tradition of OI research in the area, Osborne is already planning the next site visit, hoping to complete the survey this summer.

"Inside this mound are going to be palaces, monuments, houses. This stele was a marvelous, incredibly lucky find—but it's just the beginning," he said.

Osborne worked with colleagues Michele Massa with the British Institute at Ankara, Fatma Sahin with Cukurova University, and Christoph Bacchuber with Oxford University of the Konya Regional Archaeological Survey Project to explore and survey the site.

Author: Louise Lerner | Source: University of Chicago [February 21, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

суббота, 22 февраля 2020 г.

A plan to save Earth's oceans

At least 26 per cent of our oceans need urgent conservation attention to preserve Earth's marine biodiversity, a University of Queensland-led international study has found.

A plan to save Earth's oceans
"Currently one-third of all marine species have less than 10 per cent of their range protected"
[Credit: The University of Queensland]
Dr Kendall Jones said the international community needed to rapidly increase marine conservation efforts to maintain the health of the world's oceans.

"Preserving a portion of habitat for all marine species would require 8.5 million square kilometres of new conservation areas," Dr Jones said. "Currently one-third of all marine species have less than 10 per cent of their range covered by protected areas. Conserving the areas we've identified in our study would give all marine species a reasonable amount of space to live free from human impacts like fishing, commercial shipping or pesticide runoff."

The authors mapped more than 22,000 marine species habitats and applied a mathematical approach to identify the minimum area required to capture a portion of each species range. They also included areas of international importance for biodiversity (known as Key Biodiversity Areas), and areas where human impacts on the ocean are extremely low (known as marine wildernesses).

They found that the total ocean area required for conservation varied from 26-41 per cent, depending on the proportion of each species range conserved. Key regions for conservation included the Northern Pacific Ocean near China and Japan, and the Atlantic between West Africa and the Americas.

Director of Science at the Wildlife Conservation Society and UQ scientist Professor James Watson said the findings demonstrated the need for greater worldwide conservation efforts.

"The world's nations will be coming together in China this year to sign an agreement that will guide global conservation for the next ten years," Professor Watson said. "This science shows that governments must act boldly, as they did for the Paris Agreement on climate change, if we are to stop the extinction crisis facing many marine species."

Professor Watson said it was crucial that global conservation strategies involved rapid action to protect endangered species and ecosystems, combined with approaches to sustainably manage the ocean in its entirety.

"This isn't just about strict marine protected areas," he said. "We need to use a broad range of strategies such as no-fishing zones, community marine reserves and broad-scale policies to put an end to illegal and unsustainable commercial fishing operations."

The authors stress that ocean conservation was essential for people and biodiversity.

"Millions of people around the world depend on marine biodiversity as a crucial source of food and income," Professor Watson said. "A well-designed global conservation agreement will help preserve these livelihoods into the future."

This research has been published in One Earth.

Source: University of Queensland [February 21, 2020]

* This article was originally published here

пятница, 21 февраля 2020 г.

How gliding animals fine-tuned the rules of evolution

A study of gliding animals has challenged the idea that evolutionary innovations - adaptations that bring new abilities and advantages - spur the origin of other new body types and other characteristics in descendent species. The research, undertaken by evolutionary biologists at UNSW Sydney and universities in the US and Spain, examined the key innovation of gliding in two types of gliding animals: 'flying' dragons (family Agamidae) and 'flying' squirrels (family Sciuridae), both common to forests in Southeast Asia. "Gliding Dragons and Flying Squirrels: Diversifying versus Stabilizing Selection on Morphology following the Evolution of an Innovation," published in The American Naturalist, confirms previous assumptions that gliding animals originated from arboreal ancestors and likely arose as a means of escaping predators some 25-30 million years ago.

How gliding animals fine-tuned the rules of evolution
A male Draco blanfordii (Blanford's flying dragon) from Langkawi. This species is one of the largest gliding dragons
and often found sympatric with several other (typically smaller) Draco species [Credit: Terry Ord]
Lead author Dr. Terry Ord, an evolutionary ecologist with UNSW's Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, says another advantage that gliding brought was the ability to exploit a new three dimensional environment and explore more of the forest than just one tree. "From an evolutionary biologist's perspective, these types of innovation that open up new opportunities are assumed to drive even more adapted diversification," Dr. Ord says. "Suddenly there's all these new microhabitats available offering up new resources and you have new species moving into those particular microhabitats where you would expect them to adapt even more."

The evolution of flight in birds, insects and bats is an example where the changes brought about by 'taking to the wing' caused an explosion in diversity. Millions of species of insects, tens of thousands of birds and more than a thousand species of bats developed greatly different shapes, sizes, behaviors and habitats since their ancestors first evolved to fly. But in the case of the gliding animals like the dragons and squirrels, the advantage of gliding has not led to a proliferation of changes to body shapes, sizes and functions. In fact, for the dragons the key innovation of gliding appears to have done the opposite.

"In the case of the dragon lizards, gliding appears to be a constraint on subsequent adaptation because of the aerodynamics of having to glide," Dr. Ord says. "Basically the heavier you are, the more difficult it is to glide. So there is a constraint on general body size and shape - meaning a halt to the evolution of longer limbs and bigger heads, for example, that would normally reflect adaptation to particular microhabitats. But instead, the dragons have to glide, and that means limiting their body sizes to stay small and aerodynamic - which has what we call stabilizing selection on their bodies."

Interestingly, some species of flying dragons actually did go on to evolve larger bodies, at the expense of their gliding abilities. To offset their poor gliding, they had to develop new behaviors such as flattening their bodies against the tree trunk to blend in with the bark, Dr. Ord says. "So they're almost regressing from that gliding lifestyle. But in this case, the reason why they're changing their body size is to overcome competition with other lizards."

There were no such bodily constraints with squirrels, due to key differences in the gliding membranes. Whereas the ribs of the dragon lizards evolved to extend laterally as the 'wings' of the animals, the squirrels' gliding membrane developed as a flap of skin joining their wrists to their ankles.

"So squirrels just evolve longer limbs which means the size of the membrane increases proportionally to the longer limbs, enabling somewhat bigger bodied animals to glide without sacrificing too much ability," says Dr. Ord. But despite squirrel body sizes not being as constrained, the body sizes and characteristics of gliding squirrels are no more diverse than non-gliding squirrels. "So again the expectation of a key innovation driving the evolution of greater diversity was thwarted in the case of gliding squirrels."

Dr. Ord says his research has implications for our understanding of the way key innovations and competition come into play in evolution. "Evolutionary innovations are evocative because they're often amazing curiosities. And perhaps this has led us to infer they're also key in opening the door to even more adaptation. But it seems that interactions with other organisms - competition for resources - is a far more powerful force for generating adaptive diversity," he says. Looking ahead, Dr. Ord will be following up with research into the dragon lizards to find out how they use another evolutionary innovation, their dewlaps - the colorful flap of skin that hangs beneath their jaws - to communicate.

Source: University of Chicago [February 17, 2020]

* This article was originally published here