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Earliest Evidence Found for Aboriginal People Living on the Australian Coast


A team of international archaeologists has confirmed evidence from a remote cave in Australia’s North West that pushes back human occupation of Australia to around 50,000 years ago.  The discovery is of international significance in providing one of the earliest age brackets for the settlement of Australia. It also has the longest record of dietary fauna providing unprecedented insights into the lifeways of the earliest Australians.

Lead archaeologist Professor Peter Veth, from The University of Western Australia, said the findings provided unique evidence for the early and successful adaptation of Aboriginal people to both coastal and desert landscapes of Australia.

“This site contains cultural materials clearly associated with dates in the order of 50,000 years,” Professor Veth said. “This pushes back the age of occupation from the previous and more conservative limit of 47,000 years ago. Even older dates are entirely plausible.”

The team focused on Barrow Island, which provides a unique window into the now-drowned North-West Shelf of Australia.  Barrow Island is a large limestone island located 60 km off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia.

University of Western Australia

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers


The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is a day to remember those who served in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations. They also honor the memory of people who died in the name of peace.


The UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was founded on May 29, 1948. UNTSO’s task was to assist peacekeepers to observe and maintain a cease-fire. This cease-fire marked the end of the hostilities between Israel and the Arab League forces. The hostilities started after the end of the British Mandate of Palestine on May 14, 1948. On December 11, 2002, the UN General assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The day was first observed on May 29, 2003.

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is a tribute to people who serve or have served in UN peacekeeping operations. The peacekeepers are honored for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage. People who died for peace are also remembered.


What Do People Do?

Many activities are organized on this day. Activities include:

  • Notes in official UN documents and schedules.
  • Presentations during UN meetings and events.
  • Memorial services and wreath laying events for those who died in peace keeping missions.
  • Presentation of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal as a way to honor military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while working for UN peacekeeping operations.
  • Awarding peacekeeping medals to military and police officers who are peacekeepers.
  • The launch of photographic and multimedia exhibitions on the work of UN peacekeepers.

The events take place in places such as the UN headquarters in New York in the United States, as well as Vienna, Australia, and other locations worldwide.

On December 11, 2002, the UN General assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The day was first observed on May 29, 2003.

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is a tribute to people who serve or have served in UN peacekeeping operations. The peacekeepers are honored for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage. People who died for peace are also remembered.

Swiss Archaeologist Examines Ancient Nabateans’ Water Technology


The infrastructure of Petra, the capital of the ancient Nabateans, still remains a mystery to most people who visit this heritage site. The focus of tourists when they arrive to Petra is to find splendid monuments, temples, shrines, churches and market places, but the water infrastructure and the way Nabateans preserved water for irrigation and drinking is relatively unknown, noted Ulrich Bellwald, a Swiss archaeologist, conservator and architect.

Surveys of Siq Al Mudhlim,Wadi Mataha, Khazne Plaza and the Outer Siq with hydraulic and archaeological research programmes gave further results regarding the water supply system and the flash flood prevention system, Bellwald said.

Based on these results, the survey of the entire Petra area was elaborated and all the visible remains of the city’s hydraulic system were recorded and documented, the scholar continued. 

Moreover, a first relative chronology could be established, showing how the entire system was developed over the centuries, how it declined and finally collapsed, he said, underlining that “for each single element of the system, its function in the entire network and its technical and constructive characteristics could be determined”. 

During early phases of the city development in the 1st century BC, Bellwald said, the Nabateans collected run-off water in cisterns located on roofs of buildings and surrounding areas. 

One of these early cisterns was excavated by a team from Basel University below the mansion at Zhantur IV, the scholar stated, noting that it dates to the first half of the 1st century BC and was then “overbuilt by the foundations of the walls belonging to the construction from the very beginning of the 1st century AD”. 

“The pottery found in the retention basin of the dam number 3 in Wadi Al Jarra corresponds perfectly with the results from all my other excavations connected with the hydraulic infrastructure, in the Siq and in Wadi Al Madrass,” said the expert and author of the book ” The Petra Siq: Nabatean hydrology uncovered”, adding that the oldest shards are from the mid 1st century BC, the main amount from the last quarter of the 1st century BC and the finds stopped around 80 AD. 

“Also, the French excavations in the Obodas chapel have given the same results, which proves that the entire hydraulic system, that is the aqueducts for the drinking water supply and the flash flood retention system, have been planned in the mid-1st century BC and then realised between 50 and 25 BC, and they were fully operational in the last quarter of the 1st century BC,” Bellwald noted. 

 The excavations in the Siq revealed sections of an underground gravity flow channel that followed the surface of the trampling path before the construction of the paved road, the expert said, explaining that “the channel was covered over its entire length and crossed wider faults on dams or even arched bridges”. 

The sections excavated in the Siq and in the vicinity of the Temenos Gate by Professor Stephan Schmid showed exactly the same type of construction and interior plaster, Bellwald underlined. 

“As due to the modern building activity in the town of Wadi Musa, no remains of this first channel have yet been discovered between Bab Al Siq area and the springs to the east of the city, so the original feeder of the aqueduct may not be determined.” 

“But, based on the wide cross section of the channel, it must have been a spring with a great capacity, hence it was most probably Ain Musa,” the expert speculated. 

The sections of this first gravity flow channel excavated in the Siq have shown that this first aqueduct must have been destroyed by a flash flood in the middle of the 1st century BC, Bellwald explained. 

Furthermore, the constructive characteristics of the first spring water channel, as revealed by the excavated sections in the Siq and near the Temenos Gate, and by the still visible remains in the Bab Al Siq area are clearly showing that this first aqueduct was built as a completely hidden, underground construction, which was a common way to do in Greece from archaic period and consequently implemented in the Hellenistic cities in Asia Minor like Pergamon, emphasised the Swiss scholar.  

On the other hand, the Khubtha north aqueduct represents the first spring water aqueduct to be completely visible above the ground, the architect said, replacing the older destroyed channel in the Siq. 

Petra has five aqueducts: Khubtha, Siq, Ain Braq, Ain Abu Olleqa and Ain Debdehbeh, with an  overall length of 55,263 metres.

After the earthquake of 363AD, most of these Hellenistic aqueducts were destroyed and never reconstructed, so the city installed other water systems in order to provide water to its population, according to Bellwald.

“Only the gravity flow channel in the Siq was repaired during the Byzantine rule and prolonged into the city centre,” he said, adding that it was “clearly related to the Byzantine level of the paved street, which was several metres above the Nabataean pavement”.

The significantly-reduced population of Petra returned to run-off water collection systems as “may be shown by the cistern in the courtyard in front of the Petra Church”, the scholar noted.

“At its final stage, the spring water supply system of Petra covered the entire area of the city basin, bringing spring water from the east, south and north into the city. The location of the end reservoirs shows that all four quarters of the city had their own aqueduct,” Bellwald concluded.

The Jordan Time

Ancient Decorated Stone Block Found in Egypt


A stone block decorated with a cartouche of the pharaoh Nectanebo II was discovered in a hole in the floor of a home in the Egyptian city of Abydos.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities say they caught looters digging up an ancient stone block carved with an image of a pharaoh

Images of the discovery show that the block is decorated with the cartouche of Nectanebo II. (A cartouche is a symbol consisting of ovals that frame a set of hieroglyphs indicating a royal name). Nectanebo II ruled during Egypt’s 30th Dynasty, from 360 to 342 B.C., and was the last native Egyptian pharaoh before his defeat during the Persian conquest.

Abydos is in Upper Egypt about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the Nile River. The earliest kings of Egypt were buried at the site, and it remained an important religious place for thousands of years.

World Day for Cultural Diversity


World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is annually held on May 21 to help people learn about the importance of cultural diversity and harmony.

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a chance for people to celebrate cultural diversity and harmony.©iStockphoto.com/skynesher

What Do People Do?

Various events are organized to increase the understanding of issues around cultural diversity and development among governments, non-governmental organizations and the public. Many of these include presentations on the progress of implementing the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.

Events include:

  • Seminars for professionals.

  • Educational programs for children and young adolescents.

  • The launch of collaborations between official agencies and ethnic groups.

  • Exhibitions to help people understand the history of various cultural groups and the influence on their own identities.

  • Celebrations to create greater awareness of cultural values and the need to preserve them.

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development tends to be marked in countries that embraced their varied cultural history and acknowledged the importance of embracing it.


The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in Paris, France, on November 2, 2001. It was the 249th resolution adopted at the 57th session of the United Nations General Conference. Although the declaration was the culmination of years of work, it was adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. This reaffirmed the need for intercultural dialogue to prevent segregation and fundamentalism.

The year 2002 was the United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage. At the end of that year, on December 20, 2002, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared May 21 to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The General Assembly emphasized links between the protection of cultural diversity and the importance of dialogue between civilizations in the modern world. The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development was first observed in 2003.

4,000-year-old funerary garden discovered


The Djehuty Project has discovered a 4,000 year-old Funerary Garden- The first such garden ever found on the Dra Abu El-Naga hill in Luxor, Egypt as reported by a number of news outlets. The discoveries made by this project also shed light on a key epoch when, for the first time, Thebes (now Luxor) became the capital of the unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt about 4,000 years ago.

The archaeologists explain that they knew of the possible existence of these gardens since they appear in illustrations both at the entrances to tombs as well as on tomb walls, where Egyptians would depict how they wanted their funerals to be. This is the first time that a physical garden has ever been found, and it is therefore the first time that archaeology can confirm what had been deduced from iconography. The discovery will provide valuable information about both the botany and the environmental conditions of ancient Thebes, of Luxor 4,000 years ago”.

In addition, the experts state that the plants grown there would have had a symbolic meaning and may have played a role in funerary rituals. Therefore, the garden will also provide information about religious beliefs and practices as well as the culture and society at the time of the Twelfth Dynasty when Thebes became the capital of the unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt for the first time. The archeologists also know that palm, sycamore and Persea trees were associated with the deceased’s power of resurrection. Similarly, plants such as the lettuce had connotations with fertility and therefore a return to life.

The garden, or funeral garden, was unearthed in an open courtyard at the entrance of a Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb very probably from the Twelfth Dynasty, circa 2000 BCE. In one corner, the researchers recovered a still upright tamarisk shrub complete with its roots and 30cm-long trunk, beside which was a bowl containing dates and other fruit which may have been given as an offering.


Official Launch of New Database of ‘at risk’ Archaeological Sites


WCHV congratulates the launch of a new database housed at University of Oxford, Durham University and University of Leicester.  The database also emphasizes the awareness of the scale of the problems related to the cost of conflict on heritage sites.  The new database will provide information for each heritage site, including the level of risk. The database will be accessible to all heritage professionals and institutions with an interest in the archaeological heritage of the Middle East and North Africa.

The funding for the new database has been provided by Arcadia – a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing. EAMENA which stands for Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa was established in January 2015 to respond to the increasing threats to archaeological sites in the Middle East and North Africa. The project uses satellite imagery to rapidly record and make available information about archaeological sites and landscapes which are under threat.
Dr Robert Bewley, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford and Director of EAMENA project, said: ‘Not all damage and threats to the archaeology can be prevented, but they can be mitigated through the sharing of information and specialist skills.” As stated on Oxford University’s website.  The archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa is exceptionally rich and diverse, giving insight into some of the earliest and most significant cultures in human history.

Addition of Ancient Jewish Cemetery on Iran’s heritage list


By Faryar Nikbakht

Following years of destruction, vandalism, encroachment and neglect of the ancient Gilliard cemetery, and after tireless efforts by cultural activists – in particular, the small remaining Iranian Jewish community – the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization has finally agreed to register this site in the national cultural heritage list, designated as entry number 31691.

Jewish captives had been taken to different regions of Babylon and parts of the future Persia by Nebuchadnezzar, before King Cyrus the Great of Persia freed all the Babylonian captives, including the Jews who were then allowed to return to their motherland in Jerusalem, to remain within the Iranian territories or go to any place they preferred. Many Jews decided to stay in Iran and to start new lives in Persian cities as free and proud citizens.

In addition to Biblical texts, the existence of ancient Jewish grave sites and shrines such as those of Prophet Daniel in Shush, Esther and Mordechai in Hamedan, Sarah Beth Asher in Isfahan and Habakkuk in Tooiserkan and many other sites, attest to the Jewish presence in Iran for several millennia.

According to historical evidence and research, the presence of Jews in Gilliard near Damavand – as the original inhabitants of area – dates to the year 3,368 of the Hebrew calendar, during their diaspora, corresponding to 409 BCE.

The Jewish people named this area “Gil’ad” after one of their old cities in ancient Israel, which literally means “eternal pillar” or “memorial pillar”.

The Gilliard (AKA Gillard or Jilliard) cemetery is located next to the Gillavand Highway, on the way to the Damavand village in the foothills of the majestic Damavand dormant volcano. The large numbers of graves both in the old section and in the more modern one, demonstrate that the Jewish population in the area was quite large.

Unfortunately, due to the circumstances, Jewish Iranians moved to larger cities and eventually sought refuge in free and safe countries abroad, to the tune of 90% of their pre-1979 population.

It is said that a wall is going to be constructed around this historical site to protect it from vandalism.



International Day of Families May 15


The International Day of Families, annually held on May 15, celebrates the importance of families and the work started during the International Year of Families.


International Day of Families promotes the importance of a healthy and well-balanced family.©iStockphoto.com/Ekaterina Monakhova

What Do People Do?

A wide range of events are organized at local, national and international levels. These include: workshops, seminars and policy meeting for public officials; exhibitions and organized discussions to raise awareness of the annual theme; educational sessions for children and young people; and the launch of campaigns for public policies to strengthen and support family units. In some countries, tool kits are created to help people organize celebrations aimed at a particular section of the population, such as school children or young adults.


The year 1994 was proclaimed as the International Year of Families by the United Nations. This was a response to changing social and economic structures, which have affected and still affect the structure and stability of family units in many regions of the globe. The International Day of Families, on May 15, is an occasion to reflect on the work started during 1994 and to celebrate the importance of families, people, societies and cultures around the world. It has been held every year since 1995.

More than 1M songbirds killed in Cyprus


Several news outlets have reported on the fact that British authorities in Cyprus have been criticized for failing to effectively tackle the poaching of songbirds on a military base. The estimated report is that almost 1.7 million birds were illegally killed across the Republic of Cyprus in 2016. It has also been reported that more than 800,000 were killed on the British military territory that extends for around 100 sq. km (100 sq. miles).

In response, the UK authorities in Cyprus said that their efforts had helped to halt what had been a rising trend. The report is the result of a study carried out by the RSPB and Birdlife Cyprus, during the autumn migration season between September and October in 2016. Once the songbirds are captured, they are then sold on the black market to be pickled, roasted or fried and eaten in secret as a local delicacy. In fact, according to the report, criminal gangs are thought to earn huge sums from the trade. A number of the sites where these birds are being sold to, include the popular holiday destination areas of Famagusta and Larnaca along with Ayios Theodorus – Maroni.

It has been reported that the poachers have found that the most efficient way of trapping birds is to use a “mist net” strung between acacia bushes. In addition, fake birdsong is played from MP3 players hidden in the branches which deceives the birds into thinking it’s a safe place. They then fly straight in to the near-invisible net. One net can trap 400 birds.

The recent report has criticized the British military authorities for not having taken steps in the past. An operation to remove the bushes was stopped after a protest last year when trucks were used to blockade the main road in and out of the base.

A spokesperson for the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) has stated that the UK is committed to tackling illegal bird crime and is pleased that the RSPB has recognized a significant increase in enforcement activity that has led to a record number of arrests, equipment seizures, prosecutions and fines.