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International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

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The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated on September 16 every year. This event commemorates the date of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987.

What Do People Do?

On this day primary and secondary school educators throughout the world organize classroom activities that focus on topics related to the ozone layer, climate change and ozone depletion. Some teachers use educational packages from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that have been specifically tailored to address topics about the Earth’s ozone layer.

Other activities that are organized by different community groups, individuals, schools and local organizations across the world include: the promotion of ozone-friendly products; special programs and events on saving the ozone layer; the distribution of the UNEP’s public awareness posters to be used for events centered on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer; and the distribution of awards to those who worked hard to protect the Earth’s ozone layer.

Background

In 1987 representatives from 24 countries met in Montreal and announced to the world that it was time to stop destroying the ozone layer. In so doing, these countries committed themselves, via the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, to rid the world of substances that threaten the ozone layer.

On December 19, 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed September 16 to be the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date when the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987. The day was first celebrated on September 16, 1995.

Nancy Dupree dies in Afghanistan

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Nancy Hatch Dupree an American historian who spent decades in Afghanistan working to preserve the heritage of the war-torn country has died following a long illness. 

An Afghan government statement said on Sunday that Nancy Hatch Dupree, who first came to Afghanistan in 1962 and spent much of her life collecting and documenting historical artifacts, died in Kabul overnight at the age of 90.

She amassed a vast collection of books, maps, photographs and even rare recordings of folk music, all now housed at Kabul University, and wrote five guidebooks.

Many Afghans viewed Dupree as one of their own, and hundreds of people posted condolences on social media.

“The Earthworks” were once important ritual communication spaces.

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The geometric earthworks of southwestern Amazonia have raised the interest within the scientific community as well as the media and the general public, and they have been explored recently by several international research teams.

These unique archaeological sites have been labeled the Geoglyphs of Acre, as most of them are located in the Brazilian State of Acre. Nearly 500 sites have already been registered and have been included on the Brazilian State Party’s Tentative List for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The construction period and use, span the time period of approximately 3000-1000 BP. The earthwork ditches form geometric patterns, such as squares, circles, U-forms, ellipses and octagons. They can be several meters deep and enclose areas of hundreds of square meters.

Members of the community interacted with the environment

Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland, has conducted research with indigenous peoples in the study area for a long time. Sanna Saunaluoma, Post Doctoral researcher at the São Paulo University, Brazil, is specialized in Amazonian archeology and made her doctoral dissertation on Acre’s earthwork sites. Their article published in the American Anthropologist (119[4], 2017), already in early view, examines pre-colonial geometric earthworks from the point of view of indigenous peoples and archaeology.

The study shows that the sites were once important ritual spaces where, through the geometric designs, certain members of the community communicated with various beings of the environment, such as ancestor spirits, animals, and celestial bodies. Thus people were constantly reminded that human life was intertwined with the environment and previous generations. People did not distinguish themselves from nature, but nonhumans enabled and produced life.

The geometric earthwork sites were especially used by the experts of that era, who specialized in the interaction with the nonhuman beings. The sites were important for members of the community at certain stages of life, and the various geometric patterns acted as “doors” and “paths” to gain the knowledge and strength of the different beings of the environment. Visualization and active interactions with nonhuman beings were constructive for these communities.

Contemporary indigenous peoples of Acre still regard earthwork sites as sacred places

The geometric patterns inspired by characteristics and skin patterns of animals still materialize the thinking of indigenous people of Amazonia and are also present in their modern pottery, fabrics, jewelry, and arts. As the theories of Amerindian visual art also show, geometric patterns can provide people with desired qualities and abilities, such as fertility, resistance, knowledge, and power.

Contemporary indigenous peoples of Acre still protect earthwork sites as sacred places and, unlike other Brazilian residents in the area, avoid using the sites for mundane activities, such as housing or agriculture, and therefore protect these peculiar ancient remains in their own way.

UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI

People may have lived in Brazil more than 20,000 years ago

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People hunted giant sloths in the center of South America around 23,120 years ago, researchers say — a find that adds to evidence that humans reached South America well before Clovis hunters roamed North America roughly 13,000 years ago.

Evidence of people’s presence at Santa Elina rock shelter, located in a forested part of eastern Brazil, so long ago raises questions about how people first entered South America. Early settlers may have floated down the Pacific Coast in canoes before heading 2,000 kilometers east to the remote rock shelter, or they might have taken an inland route from North America, archaeologist Denis Vialou of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and his colleagues report in the August Antiquity. Other South American sites reportedly occupied by Stone Age humans lie much closer to the coast than Santa Elina does.

 

Could Ancient Roman Concrete Stop Rising Seas?

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The recent events and flooding of Texas and Louisiana coasts are further evidence that sea levels rise and shorelines erode and our shores and coastal regions are continuously impacted by water.  Two thousand years ago, Romans constructed vast sea walls and harbor piers. The concrete they used outlasted the Roman Empire and we still see evidence of that around us.

Today,  the modern concrete that we use in our buildings could corrode within decades but the materials that the Romans used was a marvel of engineering according to experts and engineers.  DuPont engineers have examined the material and believe that what the Romans built has been the most durable building material in human history according to an article published last month (July 2017) in the Washington Post and several other news outlets. 

Therefore, the mystery is what the Romans made the ancient concrete from (what is the recipe) and how they made it.  According to a scientific paper published in the Journal of American Mineralogists, a team of University of Utah scientists have examined the concrete and believe that the rocklike concrete behaves very much like volcanic deposits. Roman concrete is filled with tiny growing crystals. The crystals, like tiny armor plates, may keep the concrete from fracturing as the scientists report. The scientists subjected the concrete samples to a battery of advanced imaging techniques and spectroscopic tests. The tests revealed a rare chemical reaction, with aluminous tobermorite crystals growing out of another mineral called phillipsite.  However, the big surprise was that the recipe needed a key ingredient and that proved to be sea water.  The experts believe that as the seawater percolated within the tiny cracks in the Roman concrete, it reacted with the phillipsite naturally found in the volcanic rock and created the tobermorite crystals.

 

The question now is if we can learn from this study and what we have learned about the ancient Roman concrete and build better future concrete to protect our cities and shorelines.

Does World Heritage Status Harm Cities?

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We have all recently been hearing about the protests by Venice residents who came out in opposition of excessive tourism and in a recent article in the Guardian newspaper,  the story of Malaysia’s George Town was outlined.  The World Heritage status increased tourism and as a result has overwhelmed the local residents in that UNESCO World Heritage listed town.

As reported by the Guardian, Chew Jetty in Malaysia’s George Town attracts thousands of tourists but the price is too great for that historic town where homes are now commercial stalls branded with neon signs and tour buses deposit vacationers from early in the morning until well after sunset. The locals report daily intrusion where tourists sometime enter homes uninvited and windows are boarded and “no photo” signs are unescapable. 

The “clan jetties” on the outskirts of George Town on Penang Island, were a bustling seafront hub, where stilt houses and sheds, stretching along a line of wooden piers each bearing the surname of its Chinese clan, reminded the visitor of the Malaysia’s old Chinese settlements. According to the Guardian, the seven remaining jetties survived two world wars and Japanese occupation, but as the decades wore on the piers deteriorated.  The victory was when their application to be granted the UNESCO‘s designation status was approved. In 2008 the clan jetties were awarded UNESCO world heritage status – though not before two of the clan enclaves were razed to make way for a housing complex.

That victory gave the residents the protection from the developers, but, not from the tourists and today the “clan jetties” are facing what many other cities like Venice, Barcelona and Prague are facing and according to many reports, the local residents are fed up.  There have been many discussions and the phenomenon has even been given a name by Italian writer Marco d’Eramo, who argues that UNESCO preserves buildings but allows the communities around them to be destroyed, often by tourism. He calls it “Unesco-cide” (as reported by the Guardian).  According to more experts the UNESCO designation can be a potential major money maker for the city or the site.  On the other hand, the waves of tourists who will be coming to come and visit the site/city over many years could bring with them many problems. 

Ancient warehouses found in Turkey’s Antalya

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Two-thousand-year old shops and warehouses were revealed at an excavation site of the ancient Aspendos city, located in the Serik district of Turkey’s touristic Antalya province.

Excavations in the the area where the ancient warehouses and shops were found started in 2008 with surface surveys, and turned into a ministry approved excavation site in 2014.

Associate Professor Veli Köse from Haceteppe University, who oversees the excavations, said he believes valuable materials were sold and stored in the recently discovered area, and that some of the sites might have been used as offices. The proximity of the shops to the city center support his views, he said.

Professor Köse also said that a wealth of coins dating back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, a glass amphora, oil, pieces of perfume bottles, candles, bronze belt buckles, bone hair pins, plenty of nails, rings and gems were found during excavations at the site.

Köse said that the coins, made in the 5th century B.C., were widely used during the Hellenistic period.

The ancient city of Aspendos is one of the most frequented destinations for tourists visiting Antalya.

Aspendos has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015

From daily sabah history