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Texas museums brace for full impact of Hurricane Harvey

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Tropical Storm Harvey continues to batter south-eastern Texas with torrential rain, potentially displacing thousands of residents in Houston and the surrounding area. Most museums across the region remain closed and many took precautions before the storm to protect their collections and staff. This page will be updated with replies from institutions as they come in.

The Museum of Fine Art Houston (MFAH) closed its main campus, Bayou Bend, Rienzi and Glassell School locations on Friday. It has posted on its website that “our collections are safe, but the Museum remains closed to the public for now. Our thoughts are with our fellow Houstonians.”

On Monday, a museum spokesperson said the museum’s collections “have not been impacted at all, and there have been only limited issues with our facilities.” She added: “Advance planning—for sandbags, emergency water pumps, and the floodgates that are installed at various critical points around the campus—has largely mitigated potential issues.”

A spokesperson from the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), says: “Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by Harvey and our fellow Houstonians during the on-going storm. We are thankful to our crew who prepared CAMH for the storm and who continue to monitor the museum.” The museum will release further updates via its social media channels.

The Menil Collection has maintained a 24-hour security presence on its campus since Friday. Museum employees have been “making regular checks on our basements in the main building” as well as periodic checks on other buildings, including the Menil Drawing Institute construction site, according to a spokesperson.

“At this time, and thankfully, our buildings have not been impacted by the storm. Our director, conservation, and registration departments, which includes art handling services, are receiving regular updates about building status.”

The Rockport Center for the Arts in Corpus Christi appears to have “sustained serious external damage,” according to a Facebook post from its executive director, Luis Purón, who has seen pictures of the building.

“One image demonstrates that the front porch is completely gone and a roof structure in the front of the building is exposed and thus compromised,” Purón wrote. “It is entirely possible that additional damage to the roof exists, yet only an onsite inspection will reveal that.”

The Houston Center for Photography (HCP) “has experienced no visible damage to our facility that we have been able to locate during a brief visit before the heavy rains began again,” says its director, Ashlyn Davis. “No artwork has been damaged and our library is still in good shape. We are very lucky.”

Davis added: “There are several artists in the HCP community though who have taken direct hits and are in real need of support. They’ve all evacuated to dry homes with their small children and are safe, but HCP’s community of artists will likely need major support in the weeks ahead.”

The Texas-based publication Glass Tire has video from the owner of the Cardoza Fine Art Gallery in Houston that shows extensive flooding in his home and gallery. According the the publication: “Cardoza says that although his building has been damaged, most of the art in the gallery was out of harm’s way. As of this morning, water in the area has been receding.” The journal also has a list of emergency resources for artists.

The city of Austin has missed the brunt of Hurricane Harvey, but institutions like the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas and the San Antonio Museum of Art were prepared nonetheless.

“Whenever something like this in on the horizon, we monitor the weather very closely and watch for alerts from the University of Texas emergency notification system, which is very responsive,” says a Blanton Museum spokesperson. “When it’s raining, our gallery staff frequently check all levels of the museum for any signs of leaks.”

Although the museum is closed Mondays, it will be open and free the rest of the week for anyone who has been displaced by the storm.

Necessary precautions were also taken at the San Antonio Museum of Art, says William Rudolph, the museum’s chief curator.

“We are in an area prey to flash flooding and unexpected torrential rainfall and lived through a catastrophic hailstorm in 2016 so we have a very good knowledge of any trouble spots,” Rudolph says. “We did monitor the storm in advance and to that end, we moved particularly vulnerable objects out of harm’s way and made protective modifications, such as draping cases with plastic, etc., by the end of the work day on the Friday that the storm made landfall.”

He added: “We luckily were spared any of the worst of Harvey, due to its impact being mainly to the south and east of our city.”

As reported in The Art Newspaper

Two Roman Sarcophagi Discovered in Rome

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Two Roman sarcophagi in marble, one of which is decorated in bas-relief, were discovered in the area around Rome’s Stadio Olimpico stadium during a preventative archaeological dig at a construction site of public utility ACEA, according to the city’s special superintendency.

The finds were most likely burials of children from a well-off Roman family.

“At first analysis, they could be from between the 3rd and 4th century A.D., but dating can only be confirmed after a thorough examination,” the special superintendency said.

The tombs were found at a depth of about 2.5 metres on the northwest slope of Monte Mario, behind the stadium’s north curve, during work to place utility service pipes underground.

The dig is being led by Dr. Marina Piranomonte with archaeologist Alice Ceazzi, restoration expert Andrea Venier, anthropologist Giordana Amicucci and topographer Alessandro Del Brusco.

The finds were removed and brought to the special superintendency’s workshops in Rome for analysis, study, and restoration in the coming months.

The results of the research will be released in the fall.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

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The night of 22 to 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples. In accordance with the goals of the intercultural project “The Slave Route”, it should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.

The Director-General of UNESCO invites the Ministers of Culture of all Member States to organize events every year on that date, involving the entire population of their country and in particular young people, educators, artists and intellectuals.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in a number of countries, in particular in Haiti (23 August 1998) and Goree in Senegal (23 August 1999). Cultural events and debates too were organized. The year 2001 saw the participation of the Mulhouse Textile Museum in France in the form of a workshop for fabrics called “Indiennes de Traite” (a type of calico) which served as currency for the exchange of slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Archaeologists uncover ancient trading network in Vietnam

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A team of archaeologists from ANU has uncovered a vast trading network which operated in Vietnam from around 4,500 years ago up until around 3,000 years ago.

A new study shows a number of settlements along the Mekong Delta region of Southern Vietnam were part of a sophisticated scheme where large volumes of items were manufactured and circulated over hundreds of kilometres.

Lead researcher Dr Catherine Frieman School of the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology said the discovery significantly changes what was known about early Vietnamese culture.

“We knew some artifacts were being moved around but this shows evidence for a major trade network that also included specialist tool-makers and technological knowledge. It’s a whole different ball game,” Dr Frieman said.

“This isn’t a case of people producing a couple of extra items on top of what they need. It’s a major operation.”

The discovery was made after Dr Frieman, an expert in ancient stone tools, was brought in to look at a collection of stone items found by researchers at a site called Rach Nui in Southern Vietnam.

Dr Frieman found a sandstone grinding stone used to make tools such as axe heads out of stone believed to come from a quarry located over 80 kilometres away in the upper reaches of the Dong Nai River valley.

“The Rach Nui region had no stone resources. So the people must have been importing the stone and working it to produce the artifacts,” she said.

“People were becoming experts in stone tool making even though they live no-where near the source of any stone.”

Dr Phillip Piper of the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology, an expert in Vietnamese archaeology, is working to map the transition from hunting and gathering to farming across Southeast Asia.

“Vietnam has an amazing archaeological record with a number of settlements and sites that provide significant information on the complex pathways from foraging to farming in the region” Dr Piper said.

“In southern Vietnam, there are numerous archaeological sites of the Neolithic period that are relatively close together, and that demonstrate considerable variation in material culture, methods of settlement construction and subsistence.

“This suggests that communities that established settlements along the various tributaries and on the coast during this period rapidly developed their own social, cultural and economic trajectories.

“Various complex trading networks emerged between these communities, some of which resulted in the movements of materials and manufacturing ideas over quite long distances”

The research has been published in the journal Antiquity.

as reported per Australian National University

Mystery of 8,500-year-old copper-making event revealed through materials science

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An international team of archaeological scientists have put an end to the more than half-a-century old claim about the earliest copper smelting event at the Late Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey – one of the world’s best-studied prehistoric archaeological sites.

Scholars have been hotly debating the origins and spread of metallurgy for decades, mainly due to the relationship this technology had with the rise of social complexity and economy of the world’s first civilisations in the Near East.

Whether metallurgy was such an exceptional skill to have only been invented once or repeatedly at different locations is therefore still contentious. The proponents of the latter have just provided conclusive evidence of the incidental nature of what was held to be the key find for the single origin of metallurgy claim.

Published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the re-examination of a c. 8,500-year-old by-product from metal smelting, or ‘slag’, from the site of Çatalhöyük presents the conclusive reconstruction of events that led to the firing of a small handful of green copper minerals.

“From the beginning of our study it was clear that the small handful of ‘slag’ samples were only semi-baked. This indicated a non-intentional, or accidental copper firing event, but the ‘eureka’ moment of how and why that happened arrived quite late”, says Dr Miljana Radivojevic, lead author and researcher at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge.

“The co-authors had a lengthy debate about why the semi-baked copper minerals were deposited in a burial, but then when our pigment specialist (Camurcuo?lu) mentioned earlier examples of green and blue copper pigments in graves and our excavation specialist (Farid) reported firing events that charred bones and materials in the shallow graves, the penny started to drop”, she explains.

“The native copper artefacts from the site of Çatalhöyük were not chemically related to this non-intentionally produced metallurgical slag sample”, adds Professor Ernst Pernicka, of the University of Heidelberg, further strengthening the claim these authors elaborated in the article.

Professor Thilo Rehren, of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, explains the significance of these results: “The invention of metallurgy is foundational for all modern cultures, and clearly happened repeatedly in different places across the globe. As we have seen, not every piece of semi-molten black and green stuff from an excavation is necessarily metallurgical slag. Only materials science methods, in combination with good archaeological records, can distinguish between debris from intentional metal smelting and accidental waste from a destructive fire”.

“It has been a long journey for the materials now identified as vitrified copper minerals to be recognised as once important solely for their colour properties, and we can finally put this debate to rest”, comments Professor Ian Hodder, from Stanford University, who has been directing the excavations of Çatalhöyük for the past 25 years.

Article Source: University of Cambridge news release

World Humanitarian Day

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World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

Is the new Iranian Minister of Energy responsible for the scarcity of water?

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Karun River 1970

Karun River 2017

The recent installment of Habibollah Bitaraf as the Minister of Energy and Water in the new cabinet of President Rouhani of Iran has become the focus of vast protests and opposition by environmental and cultural activists.

Mr. Bitaraf was one of the leaders of the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, who occupied the US Embassy in Iran and took its staff as hostage in 1979. He has continuously enjoyed the support of the Revolutionary Guard and the leaders of the Iranian Islamic State, as well as held high offices such as governor and minister. He has also had a major role in economic decisions taken by the Revolutionary Guard.

He was the Minister of Energy and Water in President Khatami’s administration (the first reformist cabinet in the IRI) and held a major role in the demise of springs and rivers, as well as the catastrophic drying of Lake Urmia.

In such positions, and by supporting projects such as the erection of Gotvand, Sivand, Karkheh, and many other dams, he is responsible for the resulting scarcity of water in Iran, as well as other environmental and cultural catastrophes in that country.

From: www.savepasargad.com

International Youth Day 12 August

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The United Nations’ (UN) International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12 each year to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

International Youth Day focuses on young people all over the world.©iStockphoto.com/Jacob Wackerhausen

What Do People Do?

Many activities and events that take place around the world on International Youth Day promote the benefits that young people bring into the world. Many countries participate in this global event, which may include youth conferences on issues such as education and employment. Other activities include concerts promoting the world’s youth, as well as various sporting events, parades and mobile exhibitions that showcase young people’s achievements.

Background

The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Many of these young men and women live in developing countries and their numbers are expected to rise steeply. The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by young people who were gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the UN’s World Youth Forum. The forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fundraising and promotional purposes, to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with youth organizations.

In 1998 a resolution proclaiming August 12 as International Youth Day was adopted during the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. That recommendation was later endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1999. International Youth Day was first observed in 2000. One of the year’s highlights was when eight Latin American and Caribbean youth and youth-related organizations received United Nations World Youth Awards in Panama City, Panama.

Historic Windsor mill destroyed by fire

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WINDSOR — Federal and state officials are investigating what caused a fire that destroyed a historic mill in Windsor. The  the blaze early Sunday destroyed the Windsor Mill. No injuries are reported. Smoke permeated Windsor’s streets, and foam insulation debris littered surrounding streets.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are investigating.

Mayor Kristie Melendez said everyone in town had been excited that the 1899 flour mill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was being transformed. Fort Collins-based developer Blue Ocean was working toward a fall opening of a brewery, restaurant and office space in the building.

The town supported a $3.7 million economic incentive package for the building’s renovation.

“We had so many folks excited about the direction we had taken for that,” Melendez said.

This isn’t the first time the mill has faced a setback: It was hit by a tornado in 2008.

Melendez said she hopes Blue Ocean will work to rebuild after the fire.

“They hope that enough remains there that they can come back in and rebuild,” she said.

Steve Schroyer, director of real estate for Blue Ocean said, “We’re just in assessment mode right now. All we know is it’s burned pretty much to the ground.” Schroyer said the company does have insurance on the building.
An area brewery owner, who did not give his name, said an announcement of the businesses slated to fill the historic building had been coming soon.

“We were pretty excited,” he said.

But now developers and the town will just have to wait and hope, Melendez said.

On Sunday morning, many Windsor residents held each other close as they turned out to see the damage. “What horrible news we all woke up to this morning,” Melendez said. The mill, built in 1899, reminded residents of their agricultural history, Melendez said.

“I think the mill testified to all of us where our history and where our roots come from,” she said. Although the news had many residents in tears, Melendez said she is grateful no one was hurt. Crews worked to cut the gas line to the building Sunday morning. Rick Klimek, Windsor police chief, said Main Street was  closed until at late afternoon.

In addition to Windsor Severance Fire Rescue personnel, workers from the following organizations assisted: Front Range Fire Rescue, Loveland Fire Rescue, Poudre Fire Authority, Eaton Fire Rescue, Berthoud Fire, UC Health EMS, Weld County Sheriff, Weld County Communications, Windsor Police Department, Windsor Public Works, and Xcel Energy.

Debris was visible on roads several blocks away from the mill.

Windsor-Severance Fire Chief Herb Brady described the fire as probably the largest in the town’s history in terms of damage and destruction.

The fire was reported at 1:49 a.m., and Brady said there were reports of an explosion or multiple explosions during the fire. He said that’s not unusual for a building that is under construction. He said it could take a week to determine the cause of the fire.

Read the full article at GreeleyTribune.com

80 medieval tombs found at Bulgaria’s Perperikon

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Professor Nikolai Ovcharov’s archaeological team working at the ancient sacred site of Perperikon in Bulgaria has discovered more than 80 tombs in a necropolis estimated to date from the 12th to the 14th centuries CE.

The number of tombs found, in the southern section of Perperikon, is expected to increase to more than 100, an announcement about the July 2017 find said.

Ovcharov said that in 2016, his archaeological dig team had uncovered 37 tombs, containing what he described as some very interesting finds, including earrings, other jewellery and beautiful ornaments.