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World Day of Social Injustice

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The United Nations’ (UN) World Day of Social Justice is annually observed on February 20 to encourage people to look at how social justice affects poverty eradication. It also focuses on the goal of achieving full employment and support for social integration.

The World Summit for Social Development, which promoted social justice, was held in Copenhagen.

What Do People Do?

Many organizations, including the UN and the International Labour Office, make statements on the importance of social justice for people. Many organizations also present plans for greater social justice by tackling poverty, social and economic exclusion and unemployment. Trade unions and campaign groups are invited to call on their members and supporters to mark the day. The Russian General Confederation of Trade Unions declared that the common slogan would be “Social Justice and Decent Life for All!”.
Schools, colleges and universities may prepare special activities for the day or plan a week of events around a theme related to poverty, social and economic exclusion or unemployment. Different media, including radio and television stations, newspapers and Internet sites, may give attention to the issues around the World Day of Social Justice.
It is hoped that particular coverage is given to the links between the illicit trade in diamonds and armed conflicts, particularly in Africa, and the importance of the International Criminal Court. This is an independent court that conducts trials of people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Background

The World Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1995 and resulted in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. At this summit, more than 100 political leaders pledged to make the conquest of poverty and full employment, as well as stable, safe and just societies, their overriding objectives. They also agreed on the need to put people at the center of development plans.
Nearly 10 years later, the UN’s member states reviewed the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action when they gathered at a session of the Commission for Social Development in New York in February 2005. They also agreed to commit to advance social development. On November 26, 2007, the UN General Assembly named February 20 as the annual World Day of Social Justice. The day was scheduled to be first observed in 2009.

Laser Scans reveal Mayan ‘Megalopolis’ in Guatemala

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As reported by a number of news outlets including the National Geographic, airborne laser scans have helped archeologists and researchers to uncover a vast Mayan ’megalopolis’ with tens of thousands of buildings including pyramids under the jungle in Guatemala.

As reported, the remains include canals and industrial-sized fields, and suggest that millions of people may have lived in the area.

The remains lay hidden for centuries, but were detected using airborne light detection and ranging technology, or LiDAR.  This exciting discovery which has been possible using technology has allowed researchers to use high-tech mapping of the site and these findings suggest that over then million people may have lived in a lost city in modern day Guatemala. This site was until the discovery unknown and now reveals communities and city where thousands of interconnected structures in Guatemala’s jungles, including houses, farms, highways, and pyramids were constructed.

According to the researchers, the find suggests that the area may have been home to more than 10 million people, and that at its peak 1,500 years ago, the Mayan civilization was more advanced than Chinese or Greek cultures.  In addition, it looks like that they had built huge defensive walls and fortresses which were uncovered in the area and also suggest a long history of war.  The archeologists believe that this finding is one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology.

The new site includes urban centers with sidewalks, homes, terraces, ceremonial centers, irrigation canals and fortifications and researchers believe that if the technology was not utilized and they had simply used the classical archaeological method, they would not have finished and revealed all they have found in their lifetimes.  It is so amazing that for the Guatemala project, the LiDAR information was gathered over the course of eight days and 44 hours of flight and involved 38 billion laser pulses. The plane used to fly over the area was equipped with a state-of-the-art multispectral Titan MW LiDAR sensor, based on specifications requested by NCALM and developed by Teledyne Optech.  Airborne LiDAR is a remote sensing technology used to produce high resolution three-dimensional maps using lasers and it works by firing hundreds of thousands of laser pulses per second from an aircraft flying at a relatively low altitude; a timing device measures the round-trip travel time, using that information to create detailed topographical maps.

Ancient kids’ toys have been hiding in the archaeological record

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Youngsters have probably been playing their way into cultural competence for at least tens of thousands of years. So why are signs of children largely absent from the archaeological record?

A cartoon that Biblical scholar Kristine Garroway taped up in her college dorm helps to explain kids’ invisibility at ancient sites: Two men in business suits stare intently at an unidentifiable round object sitting on a table. “Hey, what’s this?” asks the first guy. “I dunno, probably a toy … or a religious object,” says the second.

Archaeologists have long tended to choose the second option, says Garroway, now a visiting scientist at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Ambiguous finds, such as miniature pottery vessels and small figurines, get classified as ritual or decorative objects. Some of these artifacts undoubtedly were used in ceremonies. But not all of them, Garroway argues.

Read more:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-toys-kids-archaeological-record

Archeologists ascertain 4,000-year-old characters on Mongolian pottery

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Archeologists have found characters older than oracle-bone scripts in the city of Chifeng in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

National Museum of China experts confirmed the 4,000-year-old marks were three or four characters left by animal-fur brush with ink, said Lian Jilin, a staff member at the regional research institute of cultural heritage and archeology institute.

They were found on a pottery piece unearthed by the institute and Jilin University at Gaojiataizi, an area of over 10,000 square meters of ruins from the Lower Xiajiadian Culture. The words, written smoothly, are believed to be connected with sacrificial activities. Pottery scripts, together with oracle bones and bronze objects, are known for their longevity.

“The oracle bones, scripts from some 3,000 years ago in the Shang Dynasty [C.1600-1046 BC], may have originated with pottery scripts,” Li said, adding the discovery has offered new evidence to trace the origin. Animal bones, pottery and stone articles were also unearthed at the ruins.

The Lower Xiajiadian Culture, a branch of the northern bronze culture during the Xia (C.2070-C.1600 BC) and Shang dynasties, dates back to 3,500-4,000 years ago, between the late Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age.

The Lower Xiajiadian site in Chifeng was listed as one of the top archeological discoveries in China in 2009.

In Memoriam: Asma Jilani Jahangir

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Local media in Pakistan reported human rights champion Asma Jahangir has died. She died in a hospital on Sunday morning after suffering from cardiac arrest.

Asma Jilani Jahangir was a Pakistani human rights lawyer and social activist who co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

The pro-democracy activist championed women’s rights throughout her career. Asma Jahangir was also UN special rapporter on human rights in Iran.

Truck Runs Over Ancient Peruvian Archaeological Site

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Peru’s Nazca Lines, an ancient archaeological site and UNESCO World Heritage site, were damaged after a driver plowed a cargo truck through the sand, officials announced on Tuesday. 

The driver left “deep prints in an area approximately 100 meters long,” and damaged part of three geoglyph lines, according to a statement given to Agence France-Presse. 

He ignored warning signs that tell drivers not to enter the area, and drove over the lines on January 27, AFP reported. The man was detained and had charges filed against him. 

 

The Phaistos Disc reveals its secrets

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According Greek news The Phaistos Disc, probably dating back to the 17th century, gradually reveals its secrets. The linguist Dr. Gareth Owens, who has been living in Crete for the past 30 years (25 working in the Technical University of Crete and the last 10 as Erasmus + coordinator), has devoted his research to decipher the disc. In fact, in collaboration with Professor John Coleman, professor of phonetics at Oxford, he has managed to decipher the disc in a 99 percentage, ANA reports.

“We are reading the Phaistos disc with the vocal values of Linear B and with the help of comparative linguistics, ie comparing with other relative languages from the Indo-European language family. Reading something, however, does not mean understanding,” Owens revealed in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency on the occasion of his speech to the National Research Foundation on Wednesday, February 7.

4,400-Year-Old Egyptian Tomb Discovered

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Egyptian archaeologists unearthed a well-preserved 4,400-year-old tomb from Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty, a prosperous era where pharaohs ruled, palaces were erected and pyramids were built.

The tomb was discovered in Giza’s western cemetery by a team of Egyptian archaeologists at the helm of Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany said that the tomb belonged to Hetpet, a priestess to the goddess of fertility Hathor. Female priests were not common in ancient Egypt.

al-Enany told reporters during a press conference on Saturday that the cemetery where the tomb was found is home to the graves of other official figures from the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty, which spanned from 2465 BC to 2323 BC.

Hetpet’s name and various titles are engraved inside the tomb, alongside paintings and other artifacts including a purification basin.

“The tomb is in very good condition,” Waziri told the Agence France-Presse. ” The paintings show scenes of music and dance. “

Global Warming Reveals Ancient Artifacts

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Archeologists have found artifacts dating back to more than 6,000 years and these articles are emerging from the ice in the mountains of Norway as a result of global warming.

Over the last decade, a team of international archeologists have been working in the Jotunheimen mountains of Oppland County in the south of Norway.  The team researchers who represent Norwegian and British universities have now recovered more than 2,000 articles including clothing from the Iron Age and the Bronze Age and ancient reindeer-hunting equipment.  The experts believe that some of their discoveries date back to 4,000 BC and report that the articles are perfectly preserved.

The new report which was created under the project name, “Secrets of the Ice” was published in the Royal Society Open Science journal. The research gave the project the name “Secrets of the Ice” as they believe that the ice has in a way acted as a “time machine” and preserved the artifacts perfectly.  The researchers are also surprised by the fact that the artifacts show a possible increase in activity in the period known as the Late Antique Little Ice Age (c. 536 to 660 AD) during which time population size had dropped due to lower temperatures (cooling) and agricultural activities had fallen as a result of it. However, it is quite plausible that mountain hunting increased to supplement failing agricultural harvests due to low temperatures.

The archeologists have also reported finding artifacts dating to the eighth to 10th centuries AD, probably reflecting increased population, mobility and trade – just before and during the Viking Age, when outward expansion was also characteristic of Scandinavia.

The researchers believe that the artifacts have been found because some of the ice in the high mountains of Oppland has now melted back to levels last seen 4,000 to 6,000 years ago. And this is obviously attributed to the impact of global warming.

Revealing Face of Ancient Queen

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Last month, the National Geographic reported that scientists have used 3D technology to reconstruct the face of a “Huarmey Queen” centuries after the noblewoman lived and died in Peru.  The reconstruction of the queen’s face is based on her 1,200-year-old remains. It took specialist Oscar Nilsson 220 hours to complete the project. 

The scientists report that the Queen’s skull after removal from the tomb was scanned and a 3-D model was printed to serve as the basis for the reconstruction. They then inserted pegs in the skull to represent facial tissue depth. It is important to know that tissue depth is determined by age, gender, build, and other factors.  They then modeled the facial muscles with clay. The scientists had also discovered copies of golden ear spools in the tomb which were then inserted in the ears.  Additional clay was then used to model fat and skin on top of the facial muscles. In addition, for authenticity, the reconstructed face was then even surrounded by hair from an elderly Andean woman, which was purchased at wig-supply market in Peru.

This project display that some 1,200 years ago, a wealthy noblewoman, who was at least 60 years old, was laid to rest in Peru and as all noble families did at the time she was richly provisioned for eternity with jewelry, flasks, and weaving tools made of gold in her tomb.

The tomb had been discovered by archeologists, led by Peruvian archeologist Roberto Pimentel Nita and National Geographic grantee Milosz Giersz in 2012.  The tomb El Castillo de Huarmey had been completely untouched. The hillside site was once a large temple complex for the Wari culture, which dominated the region centuries before the more famous Inca according to National Geographic. The tomb which seemed to have escaped the looters contains the remains of 58 noblewomen, including four queens or princesses.  The archeologists report that one of these women, nicknamed the Huarmey Queen, was buried in particular splendor. Her body was found in its own private chamber, and it was surrounded with jewelry and other luxuries, including gold ear flares, a copper ceremonial axe, and a silver goblet. 

It is still not known who this woman was. Giresz’s team has carefully examined the skeleton and found that like many of the site’s noblewomen, the Huarmey Queen spent most of her time sitting, though she used her upper body extensively—the skeletal calling cards of a life spent weaving. 

Her expertise likely explains her elite status. According to the National Geographic, among the Wari and other Andean cultures of the time, textiles were considered more valuable than gold or silver, reflective of the immense time they took to make. Giersz says that ancient textiles found elsewhere in Peru may have taken two to three generations to weave.

Interestingly, the noblewoman was missing some of her teeth which is consistent with the decay that comes with regularly drinking chicha, a sugary, corn-based alcoholic beverage that only the Wari elite were allowed to drink, according to the archeologists.