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Oldest Buddhist Stele Discovered in Tibet

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A ninth-century Purang stele – the official term for an upright stone slab with engravings – is believed to be the oldest in the Tibet Autonomous Region, according the archaeologists in the region.

Shargan Wangdue, of the Tibet Cultural Relics Protection Institute, said the stele was discovered in Ngari Prefecture in northern part of Tibet.

The stele, 1.85 meters tall, is inscribed with the image of a standing Buddha.

On its left side are 24 lines of old Tibetan language. On its right side are 19 lines of buddhist prayers.

Most scholars agree that the stele was set up in 826 or 838, during the period of Tubo kingdom.

“This stele shows Buddhism was already being practiced during the Tubo period in western part of Ngari,” Shargan Wangdue asserted.

Swiss archaeologist discovers the earliest tomb of a Scythian prince

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Deep in a swamp in the Russian republic of Tuva, SNSF-funded archaeologist Gino Caspari has discovered an undisturbed Scythian burial mound. All the evidence suggests that this is not only the largest Scythian princely tomb in South Siberia, but also the earliest — and that it may be harbouring some outstandingly well-preserved treasures.

Gino Caspari made the most significant find in his career to date not with a shovel, but at a computer. A recipient of Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funding, archaeologist Caspari discovered a circular structure on high-resolution satellite images of the Uyuk River valley (Siberia) on his computer screen. An initial trial dig carried out this summer by the Bern University scientist together with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Hermitage Museum confirmed his suspicion: the structure is a kurgan, a Scythian princely tomb.

World Tourism hits 7-year high record in 2017 led by arrivals to Med destinations

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The number of global tourists increased 7 % in 2017, the biggest increase in seven years led by Europe with the lure of the Mediterranean’s sea and sun, the U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced Monday.

The sharp rise was mostly due to the economic recovery around the world, it added.

International tourist arrivals increased by a remarkable 7% in 2017 to reach a total of 1.32 billion, the source pointed out.

This strong momentum is forecast to continue in 2018 at a rate of 4% to 5%.

Led by Mediterranean destinations, Europe showed extraordinary results for such a large and rather mature region, with 8% more international arrivals than in 2016. Africa consolidated its 2016 rebound with an 8% increase. Asia and the Pacific recorded 6% growth, the Middle East 5% and the Americas 3%.

The year was characterized by sustained growth in many destinations and a firm recovery in those that suffered decreases in previous years, UNWTO said. Results were partly shaped by the global economic upswing and the robust outbound demand from many traditional and emerging source markets, particularly a rebound in tourism spending from Brazil and the Russian Federation after a few years of declines.

Crocodiles, giant vipers, side-necked turtles and Komodo dragon ‘cousins’ lived in Ancient Greece

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A team of scientists from the universities of Torino and Frieburg, headed by Greek paleontologist Giorgos Georgalis announced that crocodiles, cobras and giant Komodo-dragon-sized lizards called varanids once walked the banks of the Axios River and lived on the Greek island of Evia between nine and 18 million years ago, according to recent findings from the study of the fossil record, ANA reports.
The experts examined a number of fossilized crocodile teeth found in Aliveri in Evia by a team from Utrecht University and Georgalis, who published a paper on the fossils in “Historical Biology”, stressed that these are some of the oldest crocodile fossils ever found in Greece while The same area yielded fossils of chameleons that are unique in Greece, as well as snakes, lizards, turtles and frogs.
Georgios Georgalis is a researcher who studies fossil finds of reptiles particularly from the Aegean region (Greece and the western part of Turkey). He has a rather diverse topic since he does comparative analysis of recent and extinct specimens which belong to three large reptile groups: lizards, snakes and turtles. Before his stay at the Hungarian Natural History Museum within the Synthesys program, he also visited the Herpetological Collections of the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid and the Natural History Museum in Vienna to examine skeletons of extant snakes.
He has managed to discover a new species of turtle, which was named Nostimochelone lampra. This species was a so- called side-necked (Pleurodira) turtle. The peculiarity of the finding is that the side-necked turtles group is only inhabiting the Southern hemisphere today, and became extinct from the European continent a long time ago, however, the fossil of Nostimochelone lampra was found in an 18 million year old sediment in western Greece.
“There was a very warm climate in the area at that time, you see, with a very strong watery element, while it most likely resembled a jungle,” Georgalis said to ANA.
On the contrary, the area around the Axios River, resembled a savannah and was inhabited by cobras and giant lizards similar to the present-day Komodo dragon about nine million years ago.
Their fossils were discovered a few years back in Nea Mesimvria and were stored at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) geology department but were only recently identified. The findings were presented in a paper published by the “Swiss Journal of Geosciences” by Georgalis, Jean-Claude Rage from Paris University, Louis de Bonis (Poitier University) and Giorgos Kougos at AUTH.
“We identified approximately 10 fossils and recognised a small snake, a large lizard, a cobra and a varanid that then made up the reptile fauna of the region,” Georgalis told the ANA. He noted that these were the first fossils of lizards and snakes identified around the Axios River area, where scientists had so far identified mainly mammalian fossils, such as the ape Ouranopithecus macedoniensis, lions, hyenas and antilope.
Georgalis clarified that fossil reptiles in Greece have not been thoroughly studied, even though they are found in many places in the country and their study would help enhance understanding of the evolution of snakes and lizards in Europe, as well as the paleogeography and paleoclimate of the region.
He states that his most intresting discovery was a fossil of the 4 million year old giant viper, (Laophiscrotaloides) which was excavated near the city of Thessaloniki. This enormous creature was probably the biggest viper of all time. It had been discovered previously and for the first time by the world famous palaeontologist Richard Owen in the 19thcentury. His material unfortunately got lost and there was not any trace of this mysterious giant viper for a long time. The rediscovery of the new finding from the same locality proves that the giant viper really existed. The new vertebra provides valuable information about the taxonomic status and size of this bizarre, enigmatic snake.

As reported on Tornos News

Ancient Sunken Warship, Steamboat and Lighthouse Discovered off Coast of Mexico

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Recording Divers found remnants from not one, but three archaeological features off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A Dutch warship, a British steamboat and a lighthouse, which sounds like the beginning of an extremely nerdy joke but is really just a factual list of discoveries.

The relics lie near the small seaport town of Sisal, according to Reuters. These days, Sisal is a quiet fishing village. In the 18th and 19th centuries, however, it was a major port for all manner of vessels, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. Some of those vessels were luckier than others.

Neither the Dutch warship nor the British steamboat have been seen since they sank, in the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively. They lie at separate sites, to which local guides led experts from the institute’s Sub-Directorate of Underwater Archeology.

The Dutch warship lies in the Madagascar Canyons, about 22 nautical miles (basically the same distance as a mile) northwest of Sisal. It features 12 cannons, each more than eight feet long. Based on records from the General Archive of the Indies in Seville, Spain, the ship went down in February of 1722, a season of lethal north winds, according to the Yucatan Times. The archive lists two Dutch frigates from that time that were carrying contraband merchandise (though exactly what kind of contraband wasn’t specified). One sank, while the crew was rescued and brought ashore to Sisal.

Helena Barba Meinecke, a marine archaeology expert at the institute, reported that the cannons were probably thrown overboard by the crew in an attempt to save the sinking ship. Eight additional cannons and cannonballs were found about 60 feet away—covered in nearly six inches of coral, an ideal artificial reef for local marine life.

The 18th century Dutch frigate, which was carrying contraband when it sank. Helena Barba/INAH

The second ship, just over one nautical mile from shore, is a Mississippi-style steamboat complete with a rocking machine and paddle wheels, according to the second part of the Yucatan Times report. The archaeologists dated it to between 1807 and 1870, before the era of more modern boilers. It’s been newly named “Vapor Adalio” to honor the grandfather of the Sisel fisherman who guided the researchers to the site.

The lighthouse rests at a third site, just two nautical miles from Sisal. Experts dated it to the late 19th or early 20th century. It measures a little over 26 feet high and around 11 and a half feet wide and probably met its fate during a tropical storm, the Yucatan Times reported.

By Kastalia Medrano Newsweek

Ancient board game has no parallel in Europe

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Slovakia has another unique archaeological object, an ancient game found in 2006 when researching the tomb of a Germanic prince in Poprad. After its conservation and further research, experts found the game has no parallel in Europe.

The game, over 1,600 years old, consists of chess-like squares with green and white playing pieces of different sizes that have also been preserved.

“There were plenty of board games in ancient times with many variants, but reconstructing the playing technique is a very complicated process that only top experts can solve,” said the deputy of director of the Archaeological Institute in Nitra, Karol Pieta, as cited by the SITA newswire. Pieta lead the research on the tomb in Poprad.

Expert from Switzerland

Archaeologists turned to the best European expert on ancient games, Ulrich Schädler, director of the Museum of Games located near Lake Geneva in Switzerland. He travelled to Slovakia and was excited about the finding.

“There has been not a playing board of similar type in Europe yet,” said Pieta for SITA. Games of this type were found in Greek and Roman temples on the floors or in the streets of ancient towns, carved into stone pavement. This portable wooden board game from Poprad is unique.

Schädler has a difficult task ahead of him – to try to solve the system of the ancient game. By the end of 2018 it should be placed in the exposition of findings from the tomb in the Podtatranské Museum in Poprad.

“The board game from the tomb of the German prince in Poprad is a great discovery and contribution to the history of games in Europe. It’s the best preserved ancient wooden board game that has been found to the north of the Mediterranean Sea. Together with Roman glass playing pieces it was apparently a prestigious object that documented contacts of the dead with the Roman world,” said Schädler, as quoted by SITA.

An analysis of the playing pieces revealed that it is ancient glass from the east Mediterranean, probably from Syria. “So the game was apparently brought from the territory of the Roman empire to under the Tatras,” added Pieta for SITA.

Roman army soldier

Experts succeeded in finding much information about the German prince during the research. Archaeologists now know that he was born in the area where he was also buried, he was about 30 years old and he stayed in the Mediterranean for some time.

“It’s highly probable that he served in the Roman army as a prominent officer that corresponded with his social status. He was strongly influenced by the developed ancient culture, as demonstrated by his favourite game being placed in his tomb,” said Pieta for SITA.

The tomb from the year 375 AD was discovered by accident while doing construction work twelve years ago in the industrial zone of Poprad – Matejovce. A bed from yew wood decorated with silver sheets and a desk belong among the most significant discoveries in the tomb.

Compiled by Spectator staff

 

Archaeologists find 2,700-year-old ‘governor of Jerusalem’ seal impression

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Israeli archaeologists unveiled a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression they believe belonged to a biblical governor of Jerusalem

The artifact, inscribed in an ancient Hebrew script as “belonging to the governor of the city,” was likely attached to a shipment or sent as a souvenir on behalf of the governor, according to officials of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

It was discovered near the plaza of Judaism’s Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Reuters reported.

The impression is the size of a small coin, Reuters reported. It shows two standing men facing each other in a mirror-like manner and wearing striped garments reaching to their knees.

“It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago,” an Antiquities Authority statement quoted excavator Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah as saying.

Governors of Jerusalem, appointed by the king, are mentioned twice in the Bible, Reuters reported: In 2 Kings, which refers to Joshua holding the position; and in 2 Chronicles, which mentions Masseiah in the post during the reign of Josiah.