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

‘Striking’ Face of 4,500-Year-Old English Man Revealed

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excerpt from –  Live Science………

The face of a man who died in England around 4,500 years ago has been reconstructed, revealing a “striking” image that should help humans alive today feel a personal connection, researchers said.

The man’s remains were excavated in the 1930s and 1980s at Liff’s Low bowl barrow, a burial mound located in Derbyshire, England. He was found buried with a type of pot called a beaker and a stone pendant that was likely worn on a necklace, the researchers said.

Anthropological analysis done in the 1980s found that the man was about 5 feet, 7 inches (1.7 meters) tall and was between the ages of 25 and 30 when he died, said Claire Miles, a collections assistant at the Buxton Museum. The anthropologists at the time found that the man had a fracture in his left elbow that had “healed poorly,” Miles said, noting that the cause of the man’s death is unknown.

The museum commissioned Face Lab, a team of forensic specialists at Liverpool John Moores University, to reconstruct the man’s face ahead of an exhibit featuring his remains scheduled to open in September. 

 

International Day of Families May 15

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The International Day of Families, annually held on May 15, celebrates the importance of families and the work started during the International Year of Families.

 

International Day of Families promotes the importance of a healthy and well-balanced family.©iStockphoto.com/Ekaterina Monakhova

What Do People Do?

A wide range of events are organized at local, national and international levels. These include: workshops, seminars and policy meeting for public officials; exhibitions and organized discussions to raise awareness of the annual theme; educational sessions for children and young people; and the launch of campaigns for public policies to strengthen and support family units. In some countries, tool kits are created to help people organize celebrations aimed at a particular section of the population, such as school children or young adults.

Background

The year 1994 was proclaimed as the International Year of Families by the United Nations. This was a response to changing social and economic structures, which have affected and still affect the structure and stability of family units in many regions of the globe. The International Day of Families, on May 15, is an occasion to reflect on the work started during 1994 and to celebrate the importance of families, people, societies and cultures around the world. It has been held every year since 1995.

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery

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The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is on March 25 each year. It honors the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. It is also an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade remembers the lives of transatlantic slave trade victims.

What Do People Do?

Various events are held on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These include memorial services and vigils for those who died in slavery, as a result of the slave trade, or from campaigning to end of slavery. In addition, African-American inspired music is performed and exhibitions of art and poetry inspired during the slave trade era are opened.

This day is also an occasion to educate the public, especially young people, about the effects of racism, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Educational events are held in schools, colleges and universities.

Background

About 17 million people were transported against their will from Africa to North, Central and South America during the 16th century and up until the 19th century. Millions more died while being transported to the Americas. This mass deportation and resulting slavery are seen as one of the worst violations of human rights. Some experts believe that its effects are still felt in Africa’s economies.

Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today. Hence, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an occasion to discuss the transatlantic slave trade’s causes, consequences and lessons. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice.

On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was first observed in 2008.