пятница, 14 февраля 2020 г.

More than 16,000 antiquities stolen from Turkish-occupied Cyprus


More than 16,000 Christian icons, mosaics and murals dating from to 6th and 5th centuries have been forcibly stolen and sold abroad since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, according to the Director of the Office for Combating Illegal Possession and Trafficking of Antiquities, Michalis Gavriilidis.

More than 16,000 antiquities stolen from Turkish-occupied Cyprus
Credit: KYPE-CNA
In a lecture he gave on Monday night at the University of Cyprus Archeology Research Unit, Michalis Gavriilidis said that after the Cyprus invasion in 1974, Byzantine artworks were even found in Kyoto, Japan (Fragments of Royal Doors from Peristeronopigi were fund in Kanazawa College of Arts). He added that efforts are being made to repatriate them and he hoped to return to Cyprus soon.

As Gavriilidis pointed out, illicit trafficking of cultural property is one of the most serious forms of crime today. “The annual cost of illicit trafficking and trade of artifacts and cultural goods worldwide is estimated to be more than $ 10 billion,” he said.


“Illegal trafficking of cultural heritage is an international crime that many countries suffer from, including Cyprus, especially after the 1974 Turkish invasion. It is a scourge affecting the countries of origin and the countries of transit and final destination of the stolen works. Just by listing the countries whose cultural heritage has been plundered by traffickers in recent years, the magnitude of the crime will be ascertained: Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq and Cyprus and many more countries all over the world,” he said.

Gavriilidis also noted that the international community had become more sensitive about this issue, especially after the disaster in Palmyra, Syria, which put other countries that had suffered a similar disaster on the spotlight, such as Cyprus. The Council of the European Union, INTERPOL, EUROPOL and other international organizations, such as UNESCO, WCO, etc., have undertaken work in this respect, something which assists our efforts, he noted.

Source: KYPE-CNA [February 12, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Colonnade, Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 8.2.20.

Colonnade, Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 8.2.20.



* This article was originally published here

Angels for sale: retrieving looted cultural property


The illicit trade in stolen cultural property is booming. Countless works of art and antiquities will be lost if we don’t do more to stop this. This is what experts warned at a Leiden Global congress at the National Museum of Antiquities. ‘Looting and stealing cultural property is nothing new. The difference is that nowadays it’s on an industrial scale,’ said Willy Bruggeman, former deputy director of Europol. The speakers at the seminar at the National Museum of Antiquities on 23 January all expressed their deep concern.

Angels for sale: retrieving looted cultural property
Detail of the St Mark mosaic from the Panagia Kanakaria church. This sixth-century mosaic was stolen from Cyprus
in 1974 and found by a Dutch art detective who handed it over to the Cypriot Embassy in The Hague in 2018
[Credit: Leiden University]


In Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Nigeria and Northern Cyprus to name but a few, sacred places such as churches, temples and graveyards are being looted on a large scale. ‘A conscious strategy,’ said Bruggeman. The sacred places are destroyed to wipe out the identity and break the morale of the local population, and the stolen art and artefacts are sold. By terrorists, for instance, who use the proceeds to buy weapons, Bruggeman added.

Restitution of stolen cultural property

Cypriot cultural activist Tasoula Hadjitofi spoke about the dramatic developments in her homeland of Cyprus. After Turkish military forces had occupied the northern part of Cyprus in 1974, hundreds of mediaeval Greek Orthodox churches and graveyards were looted. ‘They destroyed our sacred houses and stole our identity.’

Angels for sale: retrieving looted cultural property
The panel with Willy Bruggeman, Tasoula Hadjitofi, Bleda During and Lucas Petit
[Credit: Caspar Sluijter]


Carved angels, unique icons and mosaics dating back centuries were hacked away and sold to hotels, private collectors and museums all around the world. With her Walk of Truth organisation Hadjitofi, who lives in the Netherlands, has been hunting down stolen cultural property for the last 30 years. In her book The Icon Hunter (2017) she explains how, in the face of intimidation and corruption, she was able to track down hundreds of objects.

EU has to honour agreements

‘What is the best way to fight this rogue trade?’ asked moderator Pieter Ter Keurs, Professor of Museums, Collections and Society at Leiden University and Chair of LeidenGlobal. Bruggeman pointed out that there are various international guidelines such as the UNESCO Convention on the Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property. ‘But the agreements are not being honoured and the European member states have to work together more.’

Angels for sale: retrieving looted cultural property
The audience at the symposium [Credit: Elke van der Heijden]


Bruggeman listed alarming figures: according to a report from 2017 over 3.7 billion dollars of stolen cultural heritage is trafficked every year and around 70% of this trafficking is in Europe. Leiden archaeologist Bleda During spoke about his experience of excavations on Cyprus. He noted that artefacts from archaeological sites often disappear onto the black market.

Misuse of databases

Large databases with information about stolen artefacts, such as the London Database, are supposed to ensure that potential buyers check first to see if the object that they covet is not on the blacklist. But these databases can also be ‘misused,’ said Bruggeman. They are by no means complete and buyers can easily justify their purchase by saying that the object is not labelled as stolen because it doesn’t appear on the blacklist. Traders nowadays have to show how they acquired the objects they are selling. ‘But they are very creative at inventing provenance,’ said Ter Keurs.

Be a crime watcher

Another question is how scrupulous museums are about purchases. Lucas Petit, Head of Collections and Research at the National Museum of Antiquities, explained how his museum goes about this. They do a thorough investigation of the provenance of cultural property that is offered and discuss the matter with the countries of origin and the police. But Petit agrees that much more needs to be done to tackle the illicit trade and that more help is needed. Hadjitofi ended the symposium with a moral appeal to the room: ‘We can’t fight this alone. Be a crime watcher too!’

Author: Linda van Putten | Source: Leiden University [January 28, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Bronze Statue Hand, Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 8.2.20.

Bronze Statue Hand, Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 8.2.20.



* This article was originally published here

Human remains unearthed at site of early Roman military base in Kent


Two skeletons dating back to the Bronze and Iron Age have been unearthed by archaeologists working on a building site.

Human remains unearthed at site of early Roman military base in Kent
One of the skeletons found at Aylesham [Credit: SWAT via KentOnline]
The remains were discovered at the Aylesham Garden Village development near Canterbury and are now being examined by experts at the University of Kent to precisely date them and understand why they were buried there.

They are among the latest archaeological finds at the site, with smaller items of pottery and glass, dating from the Roman occupation of 2,000 years ago, also discovered.


The dig is being undertaken for developers Barratt Homes and Persimmon Homes by a team from the Faversham-based Swale and Thames Archaeology (SWAT).

SWAT’s Dr Paul Wilkinson said: “It will be some time before we know much more about the skeletons and their graves. However, the other items we have found have helped to fill in some big gaps in our knowledge of post-invasion Roman life.

Human remains unearthed at site of early Roman military base in Kent
One of the skeletons found at Aylesham [Credit: SWAT via KentOnline]
“We are quite certain we have discovered what was a military supply depot on the Aylesham site. This would have been set up a year or two after the Romans invaded Britain and we believe would have been manned by soldiers of a Roman legion.

“Not all of them would have been fighting men but specialists in a range of support roles – similar to the British Army of the Victorian era – and would have been posted around an area to concentrate on infrastructure tasks.


“At the centre of the Aylesham site were three kilns for firing pottery which were bordered by trenches and ditches. Local clay would have been used to make the army’s pots, plates and urns. We have found glass items from Gaul, now France, and other pottery from Germany in Aylesham as well.

“We have discovered some of the urns found in Aylesham were made in the Medway area and these, with local-made items found, suggest the Romans were mass producing everyday items quickly and efficiently.

Human remains unearthed at site of early Roman military base in Kent
Archaeologist Phillipa Foulds examines Roman pottery found at the site
[Credit: SWAT via KentOnline]
“The site sits on high ground offering sweeping views of the countryside in a triangle with Canterbury and the Roman ports of Richborough and Dover. It isn’t far from the strategically important Roman Watling Street connecting Dover and Richborough to Canterbury and beyond to Roman London.”

Future plans for the archaeological team centre around digging on a site to the east of Aylesham railway station, a short distance from the development.

It is hoped a selection of the Aylesham finds can be eventually put on display.

Author: Gerry Warren | Source: Kent Online [February 13, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Roman Altars and Figureheads, Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 8.2.20.

Roman Altars and Figureheads, Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 8.2.20.



* This article was originally published here

Fossilized insect from 100 million years ago is oldest record of primitive bee with pollen


Beetle parasites clinging to a primitive bee 100 million years ago may have caused the flight error that, while deadly for the insect, is a boon for science today.

Fossilized insect from 100 million years ago is oldest record of primitive bee with pollen
100-million-year-old Discoscapa apicula. The bee is carrying four beetle triungulins
[Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU College of Science]


The female bee, which became stuck in tree resin and thus preserved in amber, has been identified by Oregon State University researcher George Poinar Jr. as a new family, genus and species.

The mid-Cretaceous fossil from Myanmar provides the first record of a primitive bee with pollen and also the first record of the beetle parasites, which continue to show up on modern bees today.

The findings, published in BioOne Complete, shed new light on the early days of bees, a key component in evolutionary history and the diversification of flowering plants.

Fossilized insect from 100 million years ago is oldest record of primitive bee with pollen
Left side of bee [Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU College of Science]


Insect pollinators aid the reproduction of flowering plants around the globe and are also ecologically critical as promoters of biodiversity. Bees are the standard bearer because they're usually present in the greatest numbers and because they're the only pollinator group that feeds exclusively on nectar and pollen throughout their life cycle.

Bees evolved from apoid wasps, which are carnivores. Not much is known, however, about the changes wasps underwent as they made that dietary transition.

Poinar, professor emeritus in the OSU College of Science and an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn more about the biology and ecology of the distant past, classified the new find as Discoscapa apicula, in the family Discoscapidae.

Fossilized insect from 100 million years ago is oldest record of primitive bee with pollen
Beetle triungulin [Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU College of Science]


The fossilized bee shares traits with modern bees - including plumose hairs, a rounded pronotal lobe, and a pair of spurs on the hind tibia - and also those of apoid wasps, such as very low-placed antennal sockets and certain wing-vein features.

"Something unique about the new family that's not found on any extant or extinct lineage of apoid wasps or bees is a bifurcated scape," Poinar said, referring to a two-segment antennae base. "The fossil record of bees is pretty vast, but most are from the last 65 million years and look a lot like modern bees. Fossils like the one in this study can tell us about the changes certain wasp lineages underwent as they became palynivores - pollen eaters."

Numerous pollen grains on Discoscapa apicula show the bee had recently been to one or more flowers.

Fossilized insect from 100 million years ago is oldest record of primitive bee with pollen
Pollen-catching hairs [Credit: George Poinar Jr., OSU College of Science]
"Additional evidence that the fossil bee had visited flowers are the 21 beetle triungulins - larvae - in the same piece of amber that were hitching a ride back to the bee's nest to dine on bee larvae and their provisions, food left by the female," Poinar said. "It is certainly possible that the large number of triungulins caused the bee to accidently fly into the resin."

Author: Steve Lundeberg | Source: Oregon State University [February 12, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Lights over Lake Michigan

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Back in 2016 a gentleman took a video of several lights in a straight row more less over Lake Michigan what do you guys believe we are seeing here.If you would like to help Terry's Theories please donate here https://www.paypal.me/Franklin1275?locale.x=en_US
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Carving of three Water Nymphs, Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 8.2.20.

Carving of three Water Nymphs, Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 8.2.20.



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Extinct giant turtle had horned shell of up to three metres


The tropical region of South America is one of the world's hot spots when it comes to animal diversity. The region's extinct fauna is unique, as documented by fossils of giant rodents and crocodylians -including crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gavials - that inhabited what is today a desert area in Venezuela. Five to ten million years ago, this was a humid swampy region teeming with life. One of its inhabitants was Stupendemys geographicus, a turtle species first described in the mid-1970s.

Extinct giant turtle had horned shell of up to three metres
A graphic reconstruction of the giant turtle Stupendemys geographicus: male (front) and female
 individual (left) swimming in freshwater [Credit: Artwork: Jaime Chirinos]
Researchers of the University of Zurich (UZH) and fellow researchers from Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil have now reported exceptional specimens of the extinct turtle recently found in new locations across Venezuela and Colombia.


"The carapace of some Stupendemys individuals reached almost three meters, making it one of the largest, if not the largest turtle that ever existed," says Marcelo Sanchez, director of the Paleontological Institute and Museum of UZH and head of the study. The turtle had an estimated body mass of 1,145 kg - almost one hundred times that of its closest living relative, the big-headed Amazon river turtle.

Extinct giant turtle had horned shell of up to three metres
Venezuelan Palaeontologist Rodolfo Sanchez and a male carapace of Stupendemys geographicus,
from Venezuela, found in 8 million years old deposits [Credit: Edwin Cadena]
In some individuals, the complete carapace showed a peculiar and unexpected feature: horns. "The two shell types indicate that two sexes of Stupendemys existed - males with horned shells, and females with hornless shells," concludes Sanchez. According to the paleobiologist, this is the first time that sexual dimorphism in the form of horned shells has been reported for any of the side-necked turtles, one of the two major groups of turtles world-wide.


Despite its tremendous size, the turtle had natural enemies. In many areas, the occurrence of Stupendemys coincides with Purussaurus, the largest caimans. This was most likely a predator of the giant turtle, given not only its size and dietary preferences, but also as inferred by bite marks and punctured bones in fossil carapaces of Stupendemys.

Extinct giant turtle had horned shell of up to three metres
Venezuelan Palaeontologist Rodolfo Sanchez and a male carapace of Stupendemys geographicus,
from Venezuela, found in 8 million years old deposits [Credit: Edwin Cadena]
Since the scientists also discovered jaws and other skeleton parts of Stupendemys, they were able to thoroughly revise the evolutionary relationships of this species within the turtle tree of life. "Based on studies of the turtle anatomy, we now know that some living turtles from the Amazon region are the closest living relatives," says Sanchez. Furthermore, the new discoveries and the investigation of existing fossils from Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela indicate a much wider geographic distribution of Stupendemys than previously assumed. The animal lived across the whole of the northern part of South America.

The discovery is published in Science Advances.

Source: University of Zurich [February 12, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

Ancient DNA vs Ex Oriente Lux

In recent years you may have read academic papers, books and press articles claiming that the Early Bronze Age Yamnaya culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppe was founded by migrants from the Caucasus, Mesopotamia or even Central Asia. Of course, none of this is true. The Yamnaya herders and closely related groups, such as the people associated with the Corded Ware culture, expanded from the

* This article was originally published here

Hidden away: An enigmatic mammalian brain area revealed in reptiles


Reptiles have a brain area previously suspected to play a role in mammalian higher cognitive processes, and establish its role in controlling brain dynamics in sleep.

Hidden away: An enigmatic mammalian brain area revealed in reptiles
The Australian bearded dragon Pogona vitticeps [Credit: Dr. Stephan Junek,
Max Planck Institute for Brain Research]
The state of unified perception, which is characteristic of a conscious state in humans, appears to require widespread coordination of the forebrain, and thus, the existence of a physical and anatomical substrate for this coordination. The mammalian claustrum, a thin sheet of brain tissue hidden beneath the inner layers of the neocortex, is widely interconnected with the rest of the forebrain (a fact known from classical neuroanatomy). For this reason, the claustrum has been seen as a good candidate for such widespread coordination and hypothesized to mediate functions ranging from decision-making to consciousness. Until now, a claustrum structure had been identified only in the brains of mammals.


The laboratory of Professor Gilles Laurent, director at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, studies brain function, dynamics, evolution and sleep. His group works on several animal model systems that now include reptiles (turtles and lizards) and cephalopods (cuttlefish). A few years ago, the Laurent lab provided evidence for the existence of rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-REM sleep in the Australian bearded dragon pogona vitticeps, suggesting that the two main brain sleep states (REM and non-REM) date back at least to the time when vertebrate animals first colonized the terrestrial landmass over 300 million years ago.

In a paper in the upcoming issue of Nature, the researchers have identified a homolog of the claustrum in the pogona dragon and in a freshwater turtle using single-cell RNA sequencing techniques and viral tracing of brain connectivity. This is the first evidence of the existence of a claustrum in non-mammalian animals. Its discovery was entirely fortuitous; the investigators' attention was initially drawn to this region following functional investigations of brain activity during sleep.


Postdoctoral fellows Hiroaki Norimoto and Lorenz Fenk were recording brain activity in dragons during sleep and observed that events characteristic of non-REM sleep appeared to be initiated in a small and anterior region of the brain, whose exact identity was unknown. "Our initial goal was to study information processing during sleep," explains Norimoto. "Our approach was very explorative to begin with."

At the same time, postdoctoral fellow Maria Antonietta Tosches (now assistant professor at Columbia University in New York) was analyzing cell-molecular data taken from the dragon forebrain and noticed that a small anterior region of the brain, corresponding precisely to where electrophysiological recordings had been made, had a distinct molecular identity. By comparing this identity to published RNA-sequencing data from mice, she identified this area as equivalent to the mammalian claustrum. Fenk and graduate student Hsing-Hsi Li then used viral tracing methods to map the connectivity of this reptilian claustrum to the rest of the brain and found, as is known in mammals, that it is widely interconnected with the rest of the forebrain.


"Interestingly, we found that the claustrum was also connected with areas of the mid- and hindbrain that have been implicated in the regulation of sleep in mammals. This is consistent with the idea that the claustrum may play a role in controlling brain dynamics characteristic of sleep," says Fenk.

Indeed, the Laurent lab then showed that the claustrum underlies the generation of sharp waves during slow-wave sleep. The researchers foudn that uni- or bilateral lesions of the claustrum suppressed sharp-wave ripple production during slow-wave sleep uni- or bilaterally, respectively, but did not affect the regular and rapidly alternating sleep rhythm characteristic of pogona sleep. The claustrum is thus not involved in sleep-rhythm generation itself, but rather in generating a particular dynamic mode during non-REM sleep, which it then broadcasts widely in the forebrain.

"The fact that we find a claustrum homolog in reptiles suggests that the claustrum is an ancient structure, likely present in the brains of the common vertebrate ancestor of reptiles and mammals," says Laurent. "While our results have not answered the question as to whether the claustrum plays a role in consciousness or higher cognitive functions, they indicate that it may play an important role in the control of brain states (such as in sleep), due to ascending input from the mid- and hindbrain, to its widespread projections to the forebrain and to its role in sharp-wave generation during slow-wave sleep," Laurent concludes.

Source: Max Planck Society [February 12, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta


The Egyptian archaeological mission, which is affiliated with the government’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has announced the discovery of 83 graves during archaeological excavations in the Koam Al-Khiljan region of Egypt’s Daqahliya Governorate, according to a statement by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
Eighty of the graves date back to the first half of the fourth millennium BC, known in Egypt as the Civilization of Buto, an ancient city located southeast of Alexandria in Egypt’s Nile Delta (modern day Lower Egypt), according to Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa al-Waziry said.

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


The graves are in the form of oval-shaped pits, inside which are burials designed in a squatting position rather than a sleeping position. Traditional funerary items were found buried as well, he added.

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
The other three graves discovered date back to Naqada III, an era from approximately 3200 BC to 3000 BC that is sometimes referred to the protodynastic period and which saw major strides in state formation in ancient Egypt.

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


The Kingdoms of Lower and Upper Egypt were eventually united under the rule of a single Pharaoh around 2686 BC.

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
Two clay coffins were discovered as well inside the second groups of graves, which, like the others, contained burials designed in the squatting position surrounded by various funerary items, according to Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Sector.

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


The mission also found in the three tombs dating back to Naqada III two bowls used for kohl (eyeliner).

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
This is the first time coffins made of clay have been uncovered in the Daqahliya Governorate, Waziry noted, adding that the site must have witnessed heavy human activity during the eras of Naqada III and Buto. He said he expects more coffins of this type to be discovered at the archaeological site in the future.

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


The funerary artifacts discovered at the site included a collection of small, hand-made pottery, in addition to oyster shells, Ashmawy said.

83 ancient graves discovered in Egypt's Nile Delta
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
Some of the discovered artifacts dated back to the second transitional period (the Hyksos period), including ovens and stoves, the remains of foundations of mud-brick buildings, four mud-brick burials, some pottery and stone utensils, and amulets and other ornaments made of semi-precious stones, according to Head of the archaeological mission and Director General of the Daqahliya Antiquities Fatehy al-Talhawy.

Source: Egypt Independent [February 13, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

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