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.

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.

 

The Ancient Roots of “Europe”

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The Ancient Roots of “Europe

By: Javad Mofrad, Mythologist

Translation by WCHV

The name Europe has been derived from the Greek word “Eury-ope” which meant having a long forehead, also referring to the “Phoenician Queen”.  However, the original country that stretched from the North Sea to the Black Sea was also called the “Taurs” country which was also the place where the first wagon was invented.  The ancient Indo-Iranian religious books of Avesta and Rigveda named that country, the Indo-Iranians original “chilly” (cold) country, by the name of Arya-varta.  The names Khvaniratha (both meaning the land of magnificent wagon) and Aerina vaeja (the original land of wheels) were also used at different times. According to the Rigveda, it was said that they had hundred winters and hundred autumn in Aryavarta, and according to the Avesta´s, (Aerina vaeja) referring to the fact that winters lasted for a long time and at times for over nine months.

According to the Pahlavi books the Aryans wandered from Khvaniratha to other lands under Paradhats time (the first legislators ‘ time). Herodotus tells us about the Paradhats home at the Skythes (Skythes that had lived in the Northern part of the Black Sea) by the name of Paralats.  One of Paradhats was Takhmo-oropa (Europa’s hero), also called Takhmo-ratha (Chariot Country’s Hero). This displays that the name Oropa ([Eu]-rope) has been synonymous with (fine wheel and wagon).

According to Arthur Christensen, Avesta Takhmoropa is Skythian´s Arpoksais (wagon king). Herodotus tells us that the two people he had been referring to were Traspies (horse keepers, Russians) and Katyars (sword people, Magyars/Hungarian). The Greek mythical figures half horse and half human Centaurs (bulls-ruler), could have been derived from Russians (grooms, rus) and Taurs. From there, the goddess Europe myth roaring on a bull across the sea and her name have connection to Taurs and their goddess Iphigenia (the strong goddess), that is related to Avesta´s Ardvisvar-Anahita (the Virgin of the strong-flowing water). Phoenicians (or the “beautiful people”) were referred to as the Slavic people or the Veneds (the fine peoples) in Europe that Herodotus mentions under the name Aukhats (the fine families) as Lipoksais people. Lipoksais means “Fair the people’s king”. In the Avesta he was called Hao-shayangehe (the Fine Country´s King). As the Greeks had more contacts with the Phoenicians of the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, they mistook them with Veneds.

Sasanian loom discovered in Northern Iraq

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A team of Frankfurt-based archaeologists has returned from the Iraqi-Kurdish province of Sulaymaniyah with new findings. The discovery of a loom from the 5th to 6th century AD in particular caused a stir.

The group of Near Eastern archaeology undergraduates and doctoral students headed by Prof. Dirk Wicke of the Institute of Archaeology at Goethe University were in Northern Iraq for a total of six weeks. It was the second excavation campaign undertaken by the Frankfurt archaeologist to the approximately three-hectare site of Gird-î Qalrakh on the Shahrizor plain, where ruins from the Sasanian and Neo-Assyrian period had previously been uncovered. The region is still largely unexplored and has only gradually opened up for archaeological research since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The objective of the excavations on the top and slope sections of the settlement hill, some 26 meters high, was to provide as complete a sequence as possible for the region’s ceramic history. Understanding the progression in ceramics has long been a goal of research undertaken on the Shahrizor plain, a border plain of Mesopotamia with links to the ancient cultural regions of both Southern Iraq and Western Iran. These new insights will make it easier to categorise other archaeological finds chronologically. The excavation site is ideal for establishing the progression of ceramics, according to archaeology professor Dirk Wicke: “It is a small site but it features a relatively tall hill in which we have found a complete sequence of ceramic shards. It seems likely that the hill was continuously inhabited from the early 3rd millennium BC through to the Islamic period.”

However, the archaeologists had not expected to find a Sasanian loom (ca. 4th-6th century AD), whose burnt remnants, and clay loom weights in particular, were found and documented in-situ. In addition to the charred remains, there were numerous seals, probably from rolls of fabric, which indicate that large-scale textile production took place at the site. From the neo-Assyrian period (ca. 9th-7th century BC), by contrast, a solid, stone-built, terraced wall was discovered, which points to major construction work having taken place at the site. It is possible that the ancient settlement was refortified and continued to be used in the early 1st millennium BC.

UNESCO calls for protection of the World Heritage Site of Sabratha in Libya

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According to the UNESCO and other news outlets, on 21 September, UNESCO was informed by several sources that military action is intensifying within and around the Archaeological Site of Sabratha in Libya, inscribed on the World Heritage List since 1982. According to these reports, military action has been growing within and around the site and therefore, UNESCO is expressing concerns on the matter.  UNESCO has now called on all parties to cease violence and ensure the protection of Sabratha’s invaluable cultural heritage, including its archaeological museum. The UNESCO’s Director-General underscored the need to protect cultural heritage in times of conflict, as recently urged by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 2347.

The World Heritage Archaeological Site of Sabratha, once a Phoenician trading-post that served as an outlet for the products of the African hinterland, was part of the short-lived Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before being Romanized and rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

UNESCO has also reiterated its commitment to work with all Libyan cultural professionals to reinforce emergency measures for cultural heritage protection, and enable the rapid assessment, documentation and monitoring of heritage.

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

Ancient Royal Limousine

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Archaeologists have found an ancient royal “limousine” in central China once owned by the Lord of Zheng State dating back to 2,400 years, after five months of excavation. The giant, extravagant chariot, which is 2.56 metres long and 1.66 metres wide, was equipped with rain and sun protection on the top and decorated with bronze and bone ornaments. It has more than 26 spokes in each wheel, which indicated the owner’s noble status.

The “limousine” was excavated in a funerary pit in tomb of Lords of Zheng State, in Xinzheng City, a vassal state during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C) and the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C), state-run Xinhua news agency reported. “The chariot is the largest and most extravagant one so far in the excavation site,” said Ma Juncai, leader of an archaeological team with Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology.

DNA reveals genetic history of ancient Egyptians

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A recent finding that the ancient Egyptians and their modern counterparts share less – genetically – in common than you might think has been very intriguing to researchers and archeologists. A team of scientists from the University of Tuebingen and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, both in Germany, have decoded the genome of ancient Egyptians for the first time, with unexpected and surprising results. Their findings were recently published in the journal of Nature Communications.

Their study concluded that preserved remains found in Abusir-el Meleq, Middle Egypt, were closest genetic relatives of Neolithic and Bronze Age populations from the Near East, Anatolia and Eastern Mediterranean Europeans. On the other hand, modern Egyptians, by comparison, share much more DNA with sub-Saharan populations. These new findings are not only intriguing but also have created major questions and re-evaluation of the region’s history and migration patterns.

It is important to note that ancient Egyptians have experienced more investigation and studies than any other ancient civilization.  However, extracting genome data and utilizing this type of incredibly modern technology is a new frontier for Egyptologists.  In this recently published study, scientists took 166 bone samples from 151 mummies, dating from approximately 1400 B.C. to A.D. 400, extracting DNA from 90 individuals and mapping the full genome in three cases.  Previous DNA analysis of mummies has been treated with a necessary dose of skepticism, according to Professor Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute.   We know that heat and high humidity in tombs, paired with some of the chemicals involved in mummification, all contribute to DNA degradation, but the paper describes its findings as “the first reliable data set obtained from ancient Egyptians” as reported by CNN and other international news outlets.

Next researchers looked for genetic differences compared with Egyptians today. They found that the sample set showed a strong connection with a cluster of ancient non-African populations based east of the Mediterranean Sea.  The researchers describe the new findings as incredibly far reaching as the DNA is not just telling us about one person but about the ancestors and parents.

The scientists report that this period covered the rule of Alexander the Great (332-323 B.C.), the Ptolemaic dynasty (323-30 B.C.) and part of Roman rule (30 B.C.-A.D. 641) and they note that Strict social structures and legal incentives to marry along ethnic lines within these communities may have played a part in the Egyptians’ genetic continuity.  The researchers also reported that the modern Egyptians were found to “inherit 8% more ancestry from African ancestors” than the mummies studied the report cites increased mobility along the Nile, increased long-distance commerce and the era of the trans-Saharan slave trade as potential reasons why.

 

Bleaching of Coral Reefs

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A recent report on the condition of the world’s coral reefs last week was published and it was a mixture of good news and bad news but mostly bad news. As announced a few days ago, the good news of the report is that the global coral bleaching event that started in 2015 appears to be finished, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, the bad news, is that the 3 successive years of bleaching conditions damaged all but three of the 29 reefs that are listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage sites. The worse news is that the long term prognosis is not good. The real warning is that unless dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are implemented all these reefs will cease to host functioning coral reef ecosystems by the end of the century.  That is a disastrous prediction for the planet.

It is important to understand that bleaching occurs when overly warm water leads corals to expel symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae. Without the colorful algae, which use photosynthesis to produce nutrients for themselves and their hosts, the corals turn white, or bleach. If the waters cool soon enough, algae return; if bleaching persists, the corals die – and that is what has been happening due to rising temperatures. Reefs are ecosystems that support more than a million marine species. And an estimated half billion people around the world rely on reefs for livelihoods from fishing and tourism. Therefore, these outcomes have major economic and social impact beyond the ecological and environmental impacts.

NOAA has been actively monitoring and recording their findings.  NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch uses satellite observations of sea surface temperatures and modeling to monitor and forecast when water temperatures rise enough to cause bleaching. According to Science magazine, in the most recent case, waters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean basins began rising in mid-2014 and bleaching started in 2015. The 3-year duration of this latest event is unprecedented; previous periods of global bleaching came and went within a year.

Reefs can recover from bleaching, but it takes 15 to 25 years. The recent numbers show that 13 of the 29 World Heritage listed reefs were exposed to bleaching more than twice per decade between 1985 and 2013, that is, even before the latest bleaching event which killed significant numbers of corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef 2 years in a row according to Science magazine.

But even if CO2 emissions are curbed, reefs face challenges from climate change. The Paris Agreement sets the goal of holding the increase in the global average mean temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels but calls for efforts to limit that increase to 1.5°C. The report states that any increase greater than 1.5°C will likely cause “severe degradation of the great majority of coral reefs.”  However, limiting the rise in atmospheric temperatures will at least give reefs some time to adapt.