пятница, 7 февраля 2020 г.

Detectorists unearth 69,347 Iron Age coins in Jersey, Channel Isles


Treasure hunters have set a record for the largest coin hoard discovered in the British Isles after unearthing 69,347 Roman and Celtic coins that were buried three feet beneath a hedge in Jersey, Channel Isles.

Detectorists unearth 69,347 Iron Age coins in Jersey, Channel Isles
Britain's largest coin hoard of gold and silver pieces was found under a hedge on Jersey
in the Channel Islands [Credit: David Ferguson]
Metal detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles spent 30 years searching the field for the £10million treasure after a woman described seeing what looked like silver buttons in the area.


Their find - made in 2012 - trumps the previous record holding discovery of 54,951 Iron Age coins unearthed in Wiltshire in 1978.

Detectorists unearth 69,347 Iron Age coins in Jersey, Channel Isles
The coins were found by metal detectorists encased in clay. It is believed that
they were hidden in the field around 50BC [Credit: Jersey Heritage]
Some of the silver and gold relics from the Guinness Record setting discovery, dated to around 50BC, will go on display at La Hougue Bie Museum on the island.

'We are not surprised at this achievement and are delighted that such an impressive archaeological item was discovered, examined and displayed in Jersey,' said curator of archaeology at Jersey Heritage Olga Finch.

Detectorists unearth 69,347 Iron Age coins in Jersey, Channel Isles
The coins were carefully extracted after they were detected three feet
beneath a hedge [Credit: Jersey Heritage]
'Once again, it puts our Island in the spotlight of international research of Iron Age coinage and demonstrates the world class heritage that Jersey has to offer.'


Mr Miles said he and Mr Mead had been involved in the process the whole way through and described receiving the Guinness World Record certificates as 'lovely'.

Detectorists unearth 69,347 Iron Age coins in Jersey, Channel Isles
Conservator for the Jersey Heritage Museum Neil Mahrer begins to carefully dig
the silver and gold treasures out of the clay [Credit: 
Jersey Heritage]
The coins were found to have been entombed in a mound of clay weighing three quarters of a ton and measuring 55 x 31 x 8 inches.

They were declared a 'treasure' under the Treasure Act 1996, which means they officially belong to the Queen, although the finders are entitled to a reward.

Detectorists unearth 69,347 Iron Age coins in Jersey, Channel Isles
Detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles found the coins sealed
 inside a slab of clay in 2012 [Credit: SWNS.com]
Mr Mead has said that the least valuable coins in the hoard are likely to be worth £100 each, suggesting a valuation of several million pounds, without taking into account the precious jewellery also found in it.


However, there has been discussion over whether the price would come down because so many coins had been found, reducing their rarity.

Detectorists unearth 69,347 Iron Age coins in Jersey, Channel Isles
Some of the coins after cleaning [Credit: Jersey Heritage]
The previous largest coin hoard from Wiltshire was discovered in 1978 at the former Roman town of Cunetio near to Mildenhall.

The largest hoard of coins ever found in the world was in Brussels in 1908 with 150,000 silver medieval pennies from the 13th Century uncovered.

Author: Luke Andrews | Source: Daily Mail [February 02, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

9,900-year-old female skeleton discovered in Mexico distinct from other early American settlers


A new skeleton discovered in the submerged caves at Tulum sheds new light on the earliest settlers of Mexico, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Wolfgang Stinnesbeck from Universität Heidelberg, Germany.

9,900-year-old female skeleton discovered in Mexico distinct from other early American settlers
Underwater exploration of Chan Hol Cave, near Tulum, Mexico
[Credit: Eugenio Acevez]
Humans have been living in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula since at least the Late Pleistocene (126,000-11,700 years ago). Much of what we know about these earliest settlers of Mexico comes from nine well-preserved human skeletons found in the submerged caves and sinkholes near Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico.


Here, Stinnesbeck and colleagues describe a new, 30 percent-complete skeleton, 'Chan Hol 3', found in the Chan Hol underwater cave within the Tulum cave system. The authors used a non-damaging dating method and took craniometric measurements, then compared her skull to 452 skulls from across North, Central, and South America as well as other skulls found in the Tulum caves.

9,900-year-old female skeleton discovered in Mexico distinct from other early American settlers
The skeleton was found in the Chan Hol underwater cave near the city of Tulúm
on Mexico's Yucatán peninsula [Credit: Photo: Eugenio Acevez]
The analysis showed Chan Hol 3 was likely a woman, approximately 30 years old at her time of death, and lived at least 9,900 years ago. Her skull falls into a mesocephalic pattern (neither especially broad or narrow, with broad cheekbones and a flat forehead), like the three other skulls from the Tulum caves used for comparison; all Tulum cave skulls also had tooth caries, potentially indicating a higher-sugar diet. This contrasts with most of the other known American crania in a similar age range, which tend to be long and narrow, and show worn teeth (suggesting hard foods in their diet) without cavities.


Though limited by the relative lack of archaeological evidence for early settlers across the Americas, the authors suggest that these cranial patterns suggest the presence of at least two morphologically different human groups living separately in Mexico during this shift from the Pleistocene to the Holocene (our current epoch).

9,900-year-old female skeleton discovered in Mexico distinct from other early American settlers
Team from Liverpool John Moores University, UK, involved in the Ixchel skeleton
description and comparisons with other Paleoindian skeletons from Central
Mexico and Brazil. Dr Sam Rennie (right) and Prof Silvia Gonzalez (left)
[Credit: Jerónimo Avilés Olguín]
The authors add: "The Tulúm skeletons indicate that either more than one group of people reached the American continent first, or that there was enough time for a small group of early settlers who lived isolated on the Yucatán peninsula to develop a different skull morphology. The early settlement history of America thus seems to be more complex and, moreover, to have occurred at an earlier time than previously assumed."

Source: Public Library of Science [February 05, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Speleologists study the tunnels and drainage canals of ancient Pompeii


From surface to subsoil. Investigation and research at Pompeii does not stop at the visible parts of the city, but also focuses on previously unseen aspects, such as the study of the tunnels and drainage canals of Ancient Pompeii which crossed the Forum area, from Porta Marina to the Villa Imperiale.

Speleologists study the tunnels and drainage canals of ancient Pompeii
Credit: Pompeii Sites
457m of these passages have been investigated thanks to the collaboration with the group of speleologists of the Cocceius Association, with whom the Archaeological Park of Pompeii entered into an agreement in 2018, which sought to reconnoiter and study the city’s rainwater drainage system, starting from the Civil Forum.


The analysis of this complex system had been highly complex and seldom updated over time, due to various factors which limited in-depth examination of it. The primary factor was the logistical difficulty of the structures, which were physically inaccessible without the necessary equipment and preparation by operators.

Speleologists study the tunnels and drainage canals of ancient Pompeii
Credit: Pompeii Sites
A further complication was the fact that the only information which had been gathered during the last decades was limited to simply noting the presence of these elements of the ancient water management system, which were identified during investigations that had been conducted for other reasons (such as the installation of electrical systems, or site services, not least the disabled access route).


Furthermore, the excavation records made at the time when the limited investigations were carried out in these grottoes yielded precious little information regarding the context of the excavation, and the recovered material.

Speleologists study the tunnels and drainage canals of ancient Pompeii
Credit: Pompeii Sites
The recent exploration and detailed analysis of the drainage system has thus had the double objective of providing new information regarding the evolution of the area between the Civil Forum and Porta Marina, as well as identifying the potential critical issues of the system and the most appropriate ways of remedying it and keeping the drainage pipes functioning, while respecting the archaeological value of the ancient work.


The first phase of the project — which will be followed by a second phase aimed at the regeneration of the canals and cisterns for the drainage of water, which is of particular importance for the purpose of safeguarding the site — ended in early January.

Speleologists study the tunnels and drainage canals of ancient Pompeii
Credit: Pompeii Sites
A network of tunnels and canals has been identified which branches out from a pair of cisterns below the Forum, running under Via Marina and ending near the Imperial Villa. The system allowed excess rainwater in the Via Marina channel to be drained out of the ancient city, towards the sea.


In modern times, the system was largely cleaned of ancient deposits in order to restore its functionality. It has also been possible to indicate a chronology of the structures and the system as a whole, albeit on a preliminary basis, and three main phases of the life of this extensive underground complex have been hypothesised; an initial Hellenistic phase (late 3rd-2nd century BC); a second in the late Republican age (early/late 1st century BC) and a third phase corresponding to the Augustan and Imperial age (late 1st century BC–79 AD).

Speleologists study the tunnels and drainage canals of ancient Pompeii
Credit: Pompeii Sites
“The project of exploring these tunnels forms part of the activities of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii that aim to broaden our understanding of the site, which is the essential basis of any monitoring or safeguarding intervention”, declares Director General Massimo Osanna — “this initial, but complete, exploration of the complex system of underground canals confirms the cognitive potential which the Pompeian subsoil preserves, and demonstrates how much still remains to be investigated and studied. Furthermore, many gaps in knowledge from the past regarding certain aspects or areas of the ancient city are being filled, thanks to the collaboration of experts in various sectors, which allow us to gather ever more accurate data as a result of specialised skills which had never been employed in other periods of excavation or study.”

Source: Pompeii Sites [February 05, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Possible Neanderthal footprints found at southern Italian volcano


Archaeologists believe the 'Ciampate del Diavolo', or devils trail, along the Roccamonfina volcano in southern Italy was made by Neanderthals.

Possible Neanderthal footprints found at southern Italian volcano
Footprints from Ciampate del Diavolo [Credit: Edmondo Gnerre/WikiCommons]
Approximately 81 footprints from at least five individuals can be seen etched in the solid lava and considering the age of the rock, experts believe the group lived 'before our species existed'.

Based on size and shape, the prints match a hominoid foot from Sima de los Huesos: the 'pit of bones' in Atapuerca, northern Spain, according to the scientists.

The team also determined that the prints were made hours or days after the violent volcano erupted some 50,000 years ago.


The dense collection of hot gas and volcanic materials, or pyroclastic flow, heated to more than 570 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of the eruption and based on the distance between each step, experts concluded the lava was still soft, but cool enough for a slow walk.

The Roccamonfina is a stratovolcano with a radius of about six miles and is located along the northern Campania coast, at a distance of about 37 miles to the northwest of Mount Somma and Mount Vesuvius.

The volcano has been extinct for more than 50,000 years, but ash from its last explosion is well-preserved in the area.

Possible Neanderthal footprints found at southern Italian volcano
The team also determined that the prints were made hours or days after the violent volcano erupted
some 50,000 years ago [Credit: Mauro Fermariello/Science Photo Library]
Archaeologists first discovered 67 footprints in 2001 that headed both down and uphill.

The footprints are located at the top of the Roccamonfina volcano and after further examination, another uncovered 14 prints have been spotted -bringing the total to  81.

The tracks are believed to have been made by a group walking at a speed of 13 feet per second, scientists said.


There have been many artifacts uncovered in the surrounding area that leads experts to think this mysterious group frequently visited the area – and could have harvested the rocks to make stone tools.

'The new data also provide some hints for exploring new hypotheses about the presence of the Palaeolithic hominins in the Roccamonfina territory, although the specific identity of the trackmakers still remains unaddressed,' the researchers wrote in the Journal of Quaternary Science.

'How many and which species were present at that time in Europe are, indeed, challenging questions, still the subject of open debate.

Author: Stay Liberatore | Source: Daily Mail [January 22, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Human skull caps were produced systematically from end of Palaeolithic to Bronze Age in Europe


The ritual use of human skulls has been documented in several archaeological sites of different chronologies and geographical areas. This practice could be related to decapitations for obtaining war trophies, to the production of masks, as decorative elements (even with engravings) or to what is known as skull cups. In fact, some ancient societies considered that human skulls possessed powers or life force, justifying sometimes its collection as evidences of superiority and authority during violent confrontations.

Human skull caps were produced systematically from end of Palaeolithic to Bronze Age in Europe
Skull cups from El Mirador Cave in Atapuerca
[Credit: IPHES/Psaladie]
Different signals preserved on the bones help us to recognize possible ceremonial practices. The most common modifications related to the ritual treatment of skulls are those produced by stone tools or metal knives, that is, cut marks, during scalp removal. This practice is archeologically well documented among American Paleo-Indians, for example, who show circular arrangements around the head as signs of this type of practices.


In Europe, skull cup have been identified in assemblages ranging from Upper Paleolithic, about 20,000 years old to the Bronze age, about 4,000 years ago. The meticulous fracturing of these skulls suggests that they are not only related to the need to extract the brain for nutritional purposes, but that they were specifically and intentionally fractured for obtaining containers or vessels.

This is evidenced in a study carried out by a team of researchers from IPHES (Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution), the URV (Rovira and Virgili University of Tarragona) and the Natural History Museum in London (NHML), which have developed a statistical analysis to assess whether the cut marks on skull fragments of the TD6.2 level of Gran Dolina in Atapuerca, Gough’s Cave (Great Britain), Fontbregoua (France), Herxheim (Germany), and la Cueva de El Mirador also in Atapuerca respond to a systematic processing.

Human skull caps were produced systematically from end of Palaeolithic to Bronze Age in Europe
Representation of the cut marks (blue) found in the skulls from
El Mirador Cave (Atapuerca) [Credit: IPHES]
The results conclude that these striate certainly respond to a specific pattern in the most recent chronological sites, showing treating skulls practices that were perpetrated during almost 15,000 years.

The study considered the bone as a map on which surface modifications are distributed and where it can be assessed whether if it is possible to identify specific patterns on  the elaboration of cup skulls, by comparing evidences among the different sites mentioned above.


Specific modifications related to this human behaviour have been identified and the relevance of the cut marks location in specific areas of the skulls has been statistically described. Signals made by using stone tools, when meticulously and repeatedly extracting the scalp and meat., Actions that indicate an intense cleaning of skulls in the specific cases of Gough’s Cave, Fontbregoua, Herxheim and El Mirador. However, this model has not been observed on the remains of Homo antecessor from level TD6.2.

Human skull caps were produced systematically from end of Palaeolithic to Bronze Age in Europe
Map of the sites examined in the study
[Credit: IPHES]
Systematic fabrication of the skulls began with the removal of the scalp and continued with the removal of muscle tissue. The elaboration of the skulls ended fracturing them to preserve the thickest part of the cranial vault. The use of these container-shaped bones is still unknown. The repetition of this observed pattern provides new evidences of skulls preparation for ritual practices, and are associated in most cases to human cannibalism during recent Prehistory.

The results of this research have been published in the prestigious Journal of Archaeological Science. The study has been led by Francesc Marginedas, who is currently pursuing the Erasmus Mundus Master in Quaternary Archaeology and Human Evolution (taught at the URV) and doing his research work in IPHES under the supervision of Dr. Palmira Saladie. Marginedas studied the degree in “Cultural Anthropology and Human Evolution”, jointly taught by the URV and the Open University of Catalonia (UOC). It was while he was receiving these courses that he began his research career, specializing in this subject.

Source: IPHES [January 23, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

One sixth of the sky with the telescope SRG/eROSITA

Current status of the all-sky survey in X-rays by SRG: about 1/6 of the entire sky has already been covered. Due to the survey geometry, the individual scans of the observatory intersect near the ecliptic poles, resulting in increased sensitivity. The inset shows a small region enlarged and a PLANCK map of the same region in comparison. © IKI, MPA

A little more than a month has passed since the beginning of the regular all-sky survey of the SRG observatory, moving on a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange point L2. The spacecraft is at a distance of one and a half million kilometers from Earth, rotating around an axis directed towards the Sun. Since the start of the scan, the ART-XC and eROSITA telescopes have already covered more than 1/6 of the entire celestial sphere and demonstrated the excellent capabilities of SRG in mapping the X-ray sky. By mid-June 2020, the scientists will have the first map of the entire sky, and after four years, each part of the sky will be covered 8 times, increasing the sensitivity of the survey by a record 20-30 times compared to the existing one by the ROSAT satellite.

The image shows a map of half the sky in the 0.4–2 keV energy range, obtained by the SRG/eROSITA telescope. The axes of the observatory telescopes draw large circles in the sky passing through the north and south ecliptic poles. The dark band associated with the absorption of soft X-ray radiation by gas and dust in the Galaxy Plane is clearly visible on the map. The bright diffuse region on the right side of the map is the famous North Polar Spur, an area of ​​increased brightness of radio emission in the form of an arc. Another bright area near the Plane of the Galaxy is the most powerful star-forming region in our Galaxy, known as Cygnus X. Outside of these areas, the X-ray radiation is dominated by numerous active galactic nuclei and clusters of galaxies.

The resolution of the map of the whole sky shown in the figure does not allow one to see individual sources, although more than ten thousand of them have already been registered. To illustrate the capabilities of the telescope, the inset shows a small portion of the sky (2x2 degrees) with better resolution. For comparison the PLANCK (ESA) SZ-map of the same region is shown. The place where the inset was taken from is shown in the large image as a small square near the North ecliptic pole. Near the ecliptic poles the individual scans of the observatory intersect.

The Spectrum RG Observatory continues to scan, and every day it adds a 1-degree-wide strip to this map. The images shown here are based on the data from the Russian share of observing time of the SRG/eROSITA telescope.

Contacts

Rashid Sunyaev
Director emeritus
Tel: 2244
rsunyaev@mpa-garching.mpg.de

Eugene Churazov
Scientific Staff
Tel: 2219
echurazov@mpa-garching.mpg.de

Marat Gilfanov
Scientific Staff
Tel: 2227
mgilfanov@mpa-garching.mpg.de





* This article was originally published here

Archaeologists analyze the composition of a Roman-era 'makeup case'


A study carried out by researchers from the Merida Consortium, the University of Granada (UGR) and the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain has analysed the contents of a scallop shell discovered in a 1st century AD grave and found traces of makeup.

Archaeologists analyze the composition of a Roman-era 'makeup case'
Image of the scallop with pigment residues 
[Credit:University of Granada]
First discovered in 2000 during excavations of a funerary complex in the former capital of the Lusitania, Augusta Emerita (present-day Merida) the 'make-up case' was uncovered in a deposit of cremated remains alongside ceramic cups, bone spindles, nails, glassware and the remains of a detachable bone box.


The make-up case is made from a bivalve malacological mollusk specimen of pecten maximus (viera). Once the shell was opened, it was possible to document the cosmetic remains, specifically, a small ball of a “pinkish” powdery conglomerate via a combination of X-ray diffraction (XRD), electron microscopy and chromatographic analysis.

Archaeologists analyze the composition of a Roman-era 'makeup case'
The study revealed that the pinkish deposit was composed of a granite lacquer, mixed with a rose madder 
to obtain the colouration and then an astringent compound was used as a fixative agent 
[Credit: University of Granada]


The use of the mollusk as a cosmetic container is a practice that dates back thousands of years across various civilisations. One of the earliest examples is tiny shells in the Sumerian city of Ur from 2500 BC that contained pigments used for cosmetics.

The study revealed that the pinkish deposit was composed of a granite lacquer, mixed with a rose madder to obtain the coloration and then an astringent compound was used as a fixative agent.

The results of the study have been published in the latest issue of Saguntum.

Source: University of Granada [January 24, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Prehistoric Bone Spindle Whorls, Whitby Museum and Art Gallery, Whitby, North Yorkshire, 2.2.20.

Prehistoric Bone Spindle Whorls, Whitby Museum and Art Gallery, Whitby, North Yorkshire, 2.2.20.



* This article was originally published here

Shocking truth behind Takabuti’s death revealed


Takabuti, the famous ancient Egyptian mummy on display at the Ulster Museum, suffered a violent death from a knife attack, a team of experts from National Museums NI, University of Manchester, Queen’s University Belfast and Kingsbridge Private Hospital have revealed.

Shocking truth behind Takabuti’s death revealed
Takabuti mummy case, ca. 660 BC [Credit: University of Manchester]
The team, whose findings are made public on the 185 year anniversary of Takabuti’s unwrapping in 1835, also show that her DNA is more genetically similar to Europeans rather than modern Egyptian populations.

The team show Takabuti had an extra tooth - 33 instead of 32 - something which only occurs in 0.02% of the population and an extra vertebrae, which only occurs 2% of the population.

And Takabuti’s heart, previously thought to have been missing, was identified by the state of the art technology used by the researchers as intact and perfectly preserved.


The scans show she was stabbed in the upper back near her left shoulder and that it was the cause of her death.

The findings finally solve the mystery of the mummy which has intrigued Egyptologists - and the public - since she was first unwrapped in Belfast in 1835. It transforms our understanding of Takabuti’s life in ancient Egypt and her journey into the afterlife.

The project was supported by funding from Friends of the Ulster Museum. Kingsbridge Private Hospital facilitated the work by providing their expertise and use of a portable x-ray machine to aid sampling for DNA work.

Shocking truth behind Takabuti’s death revealed
Takabuti's mummified remains [Credit: University of Manchester]
According to the team, the mysterious object in her body cavity, previously thought to be her heart, was in fact material used to pack the knife wound.

Takabuti lived over 2,600 years ago and died in her 20s. Experts say she was probably a married woman because she was a leading woman living - or mistress – who lived in a Thebes house - where Luxor is today.

She was acquired in Thebes by Thomas Greg from Holywood, County Down and brought to Belfast in 1834.


The scientific team consisted of Professor Rosalie David, Drs Bart van Dongen, Konstantina Drosou, Sharon Fraser, Professor Tony Freemont, Ds Roger Forshaw, Robert Loynes and Keith White from The University of Manchester

It also included Professors Eileen Murphy and Paula Reimar from Belfast University; Professor Caroline Wilkinson and Dr Sarah Shrimpton from Liverpool John Moores University; and Dr David Tosh from the Ulster Museum.

Dr Greer Ramsey, Curator of Archaeology at National Museums NI, says advances in scientific techniques have made the new findings possible.

Shocking truth behind Takabuti’s death revealed
Detail of Takabuti's head with auburn coloured wig deliberately set after death
[Credit: University of Manchester]
He said: “There is a rich history of testing Takabuti since she was first unwrapped in Belfast in 1835. But in recent years she has undergone x-rays, CT scans, hair analysis and radio carbon dating. The latest tests include DNA analysis and further interpretations of CT scans which provides us with new and much more detailed information.

“The significance of confirming Takabuti’s heart is present cannot be underestimated as in ancient Egypt this organ was removed in the afterlife and weighed to decide whether or not the person had led a good life. If it was too heavy it was eaten by the demon Ammit and your journey to the afterlife would fail.”

The tests and examination of Takabuti were carried out over a period of months by the team using the latest scanning technologies, leading to new insights into Egyptian high society in the 25th dynasty.


Professor Rosalie David, an Egyptologist from The University of Manchester said: “This study adds to our understanding of not only Takabuti, but also wider historical context of the times in which she lived: the surprising and important discovery of her European heritage throws some fascinating light on a significant turning-point in Egypt’s history.

“This study, which used cutting-edge scientific analysis of an ancient Egyptian mummy - demonstrates how new information can be revealed thousands of years after a person’s death. Our team - drawn from institutions and specialisms – was in a unique position to provide the necessary expertise and technology for such a wide-ranging study.”

Professor Eileen Murphy, a Bioarchaeologist from Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Natural and Built Environment, said: “It has been an incredible privilege to have been involved in modern research that has really helped enlighten us about Takabuti’s life and death. The latest research programme has provided some astounding results. It is frequently commented that she looks very peaceful lying within her coffin but now we know that her final moments were anything but and that she died at the hand of another.

Shocking truth behind Takabuti’s death revealed
Takabuti's opened coffin [Credit: University of Manchester]
“Trawling the historical records about her early days in Belfast it is clear that she caused quite a media sensation in 1835 – she had a poem written about her, a painting was made of her prior to her ‘unrolling’ and accounts of her unwrapping were carried in newspapers across Ireland. Research undertaken ten years ago gave us some fascinating insights, such as how her auburn hair was deliberately curled and styled. This must have been a very important part of her identity as she spurned the typical shaven-headed style. Looking at all of these facts, we start to get a sense of the petite young woman and not just the mummy.”

Retired Orthopaedic Surgeon and currently honorary lecturer in the University of Manchester's KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, Dr Robert Loynes who performed the CT analysis and biopsy retrieval of material for a DNA and other analyses said: “The CT scan reveals that Takabuti sustained a severe wound to the back of her upper left chest wall. This almost certainly caused her rapid death. However, the CT scan also reveals unusual and rare features of her embalming process.”


Geneticist Dr Konstantina Drosou said “Takabuti’s genetic footprint H4a1 is relatively rare as it has not been found to my knowledge in any ancient or modern Egyptian population. My results agree with previous studies about ancient Egyptians being more genetically similar to Europeans than modern day Arabs.”

A book is currently being produced by the project team and supported by the Engaged Research Fund, Queen’s University Belfast, and the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, The University of Manchester. The book will bring together all of the research findings to date on Takabuti.

Details of the new findings can be found in the Ancient Egypt gallery in the Ulster Museum where Takabuti is currently on display. Admission is free.

Source: University of Manchester [January 27, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Prehistoric Tools, Whitby Museum and Art Gallery, Whitby, North Yorkshire, 2.2.20.

Prehistoric Tools, Whitby Museum and Art Gallery, Whitby, North Yorkshire, 2.2.20.



* This article was originally published here

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomical observations


Archaeologists from the Jagiellonian University have found out that some of the rock drawings made by Native Americans about 800 years ago in the canyons located in the border region between the US states of Colorado and Utah were linked to astronomic observations, such as determining the dates of summer and winter solstices. The pioneering archaeological research in this field has been led by Dr Radoslaw Palonka from the JU Department of American Archaeology.

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomic observations
Credit: Jagiellonian University


Since 2011 the JU Institute of Archaeology has been running an archaeological project in Mesa Verde region located on the border of Colorado and Utah. The area is famous to both archaeologists and tourists for the Pre-Columbian Pueblo culture settlements built in rock niches or carved into canyon walls and for numerous ancient works of rock art. The research is the first Polish independent archaeological project in the United States and one of the few such European projects in the region.

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomic observations
Credit: Jagiellonian University
The sites studied by the JU researchers contain remains of several dozen small settlements centred around Castle Rock Pueblo, built in the 13th century AD by Pueblo people. So far, Dr Palonka’s team have discovered previously unknown cave galleries containing murals and petroglyphs from various historical periods.

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomic observations
Credit: Jagiellonian University


During their studies, the archaeologists started to speculate, based on the analogies to several other sites in the South-West USA, whether some of these stone carvings hidden in rock recesses could be used by the ancient Pueblo people to determine the dates some important days of the year, namely summer and winter solstice as well as spring and autumn equinoxes.

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomic observations
Credit: Jagiellonian University
Two such sites have been studied so far. At the first one, centred around a rock niche with remains of several buildings from circa 800 years ago, petroglyphs were carved on a flat rock wall facing south, shaded by an overhanging rock. The panel consists of three different spirals and several smaller elements, such as rectangular motifs and numerous hollows.

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomic observations
Credit: Jagiellonian University


“Our observations revealed a unique phenomenon, particularly visible during the sunset of the winter solstice on December 22, when the sun rays and shadows move across the middle part of the panel with petroglyphs, going through the subsequent spirals, longitudinal grooves, and other elements. To a much lesser extent, the phenomenon is also visible during the spring and autumn equinox. The interaction between light and shadow as well as the moving of sun rays across the entire panel is already visible some time before the winter solstice, as well as several weeks afterwards. We have not seen this phenomenon during the remaining part of the year”, explains Dr Palonka.

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomic observations
Credit: Jagiellonian University
Similar illumination of petroglyphs by sun rays in specific periods of the year has been observed at another site in Sand Canyon. What was different was that the petroglyph was regularly lit by sun rays only in the morning and early afternoon during the summer solstice. The researchers are planning to continue to study the rock art’s relations with astronomy.

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomic observations
Credit: Jagiellonian University


The JU archaeologists’ conversations with members of Hopi tribe, who are the descendents of Pueblo people, have confirmed that the spirals were most probably used as a sort of calendar. As pointed out by Dr Palonka, similar ethnographic studies from the 19th century also suggested the existence of solar calendars: both the horizontal ones, based on watching sunsets and sunrises over certain mountains, passes and valleys, and those related to observing sun rays shining on petroglyphs during solstices or equinoxes.

800-year-old rock drawings at Mesa Verde linked to astronomic observations
Credit: Jagiellonian University
It is also worth noting that summer and winter solstices are still of great religious importance to contemporary Pueblo groups from Arizona and New Mexico, providing framework for rituals and celebrations related to key farming activities, such as sowing and harvesting, as well as the preparations to these crucial tasks.

Source: Jagiellonian University [January 28, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

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