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Earthquake and historic sites in Iran

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A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck western Iran late on Sunday November 12, causing relatively minor damage to several historic and heritage sites in Kermanshah and Ilam provinces.

“It slightly damaged five historical sites including a Safavid-era caravanserai and a Sassanid-era fortress in the counties of Qasr-e Shirin, Sarpol-e Zahab and Dalahu in Kermanshah province while assessing the damage is still ongoing,” CHTN quoted Jalil Baalai, the provincial tourism chief, as saying on Monday.

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Department dispatched several cultural heritage task forces to determine the extent of [possible] damage to each monument, the official said, adding “The five sites can be restored.”

UNESCO-registered sites of Bisotun and Taq-e Bostan went unhurt, ISNA quoted Baalai as saying. 

Bisotun features a life-size bas-relief carving that depicts Achaemenid king Darius I and several other figures while Taq-e Bostan meaning “Arch of the Garden” is home to series of large rock reliefs from Sassanid era.

Opening of the Louvre Museum in Dubai

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Today, November 11th, marked the historic opening of the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island, and it definitely won’t be a quiet affair! With a whole host of events, the Louvre museum will come alive for a 4-day opening celebration and we’re all invited! From music and workshops to international performers and surprise performances, the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi is set to be monumental in the capital’s history.

Louvre Abu Dhabi is set to become a new cultural beacon in the region it opens on Saturday 11th November. The first of its kind in the Arab world, Louvre museum will showcase human stories across civilisations and cultures, helping us to understand the similarities and connections that are at the core of humanity. In addition to featuring galleries, temporary exhibitions and a year-long programme packed with performances, Louvre will also boast a high-end restaurant, a café and a Children’s Museum.

The Peopling of the Americas

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In a Perspective article published in the November 3, 2017 issue of Science, Todd J. Braje and colleagues discuss the various theories behind how people first arrived and settled in North America, emphasizing that the conventional belief – that the first people to arrive came via the Beringia land bridge – is becoming less widely accepted. They cite evidence for human occupation at least ~14,500 years ago, which is a millennium or more sooner than the Beringia land bridge became passable, roughly 13,500 years ago. In particular, the authors favor the kelp highway hypothesis, which proposes that deglaciation of the outer coast of North America’s Pacific Northwest after ~17,000 years ago created a possible dispersal corridor rich in aquatic and terrestrial resources along the Pacific Coast. However, testing the kelp highway hypothesis is challenging because much of the archaeo­logical evidence would have been sub­merged by rising seas since the last glacial maximum. Recent underwater discoveries, such as one site in Florida, where butchered mastodon bones and chipped stone tools were found and estimated to be roughly 14,500 years old, show how it may also be possible to receive evidence from such submerged sites along the Pacific coast. Braje et al. outline key areas where additional research can be focused. In the search for clues as to how the peopling of the Americas occurred, including formerly glaciated areas where ancient shorelines have not shifted so dramatically, is important, they say.

Article Source: Edited and adapted from the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) news release.

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.

World Science Day for Peace and Development

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Celebrated every 10 November, World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.

By linking science more closely with society, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed of developments in science. It also underscores the role scientists play in broadening our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable.

The Day offers the opportunity to mobilize all actors around the topic of science for peace and development – from government officials to the media to school pupils. UNESCO strongly encourages all to join us in celebrating World Science Day for Peace and Development

What can you do?

The success of the World Science Day for Peace and Development will depend on the active involvement of many partners such as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, scientific and research institutions, professional associations, the media, science teachers and schools.

Different activities will be undertaken to mobilize support for the objectives of the World Science Day for Peace and Development.

We invite you and your organization to celebrate this Day with some special events or action. Next, you can find a list of potential actions that can be undertaken by you and your organization:

  • DIFFUSE World Science Day for Peace and Development in your institution or in your town, city or local community, through municipal and state government channels.
  • ORGANISE an ‘Open Day’ in your institution to highlight the importance of science for peace and development.
  • INCORPORATE the messages of World Science Day for Peace and Development into official speeches, publications and other activities taking place on 10 November.
  • ORGANIZE classroom discussions to emphasize the many different ways science and technology touch our daily lives.
  • CONTACT national and local media (TV, radio, print, electronic) to highlight the importance of celebrating WSDPD at national and local level.
  • WRITE articles and letters about the importance of science for sustainable societies to the media, including industry trade journals, organization newsletters, and school newspapers.
  • VISIT local schools to speak about careers in science, deliver scientific presentations or demonstrations to young students.
  • BUILD classroom-to-classroom connections between schools via the Internet to talk about science projects that will interest young people.
  • ORGANIZE conferences and forums.
  • FIND a sister institution and carry out a joint activity highlighting the importance of science.
  • INVITE university faculty to join with community organizations and schools to celebrate the Day.
  • ARRANGE a science museum visit

 

Pregnant Egyptian Woman’s Remains Discovered in King Solomon’s Mines

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A consortium of archeologists and researchers from Tel Aviv University have discovered the 3,200-year-old remains of a pregnant Egyptian woman in Southern Israel’s Timna Valley, adjacent to an ancient Egyptian temple in an area once known as “King Solomon’s Mines”, according to a report in Haaretz.

Situated in an arid climate with scarce natural resources to sustain life, few human corpses – and no previous female remains – have been unearthed near the copper mines, which were believed to have been exploited for 500 years between the 9th and 14th centuries BCE.

Older Neandertal Survived With A Little Help From His Friends

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An older Neandertal from about 50,000 years ago, who had suffered multiple injuries and other degenerations, became deaf and must have relied on the help of others to avoid prey and survive well into his 40s.

 “More than his loss of a forearm, bad limp and other injuries, his deafness would have made him easy prey for the ubiquitous carnivores in his environment and dependent on other members of his social group for survival,” said

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Erik Trinkaus, study co-author and professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Known as Shanidar 1, the Neandertal remains were discovered in 1957 during excavations at Shanidar Cave in Iraqi Kurdistan by Ralph Solecki, an American archeologist and professor emeritus at Columbia University.

Previous studies of the Shanidar 1 skull and other skeletal remains had noted his multiple injuries. He sustained a serious blow to the side of the face, fractures and the eventual amputation of the right arm at the elbow, and injuries to the right leg, as well as a systematic degenerative condition.

In a new analysis of the remains, Trinkaus and Sébastien Villotte of the French National Centre for Scientific Research confirm that bony growths in Shanidar 1’s ear canals would have produced profound hearing loss. In addition to his other debilitations, this sensory deprivation would have made him highly vulnerable in his Pleistocene context.

As the co-authors note, survival as a hunter-gatherer in the Pleistocene presented numerous challenges, and all of those difficulties would have been markedly pronounced with sensory impairment. Like other Neandertals who have been noted for surviving with various injuries and limited arm use, Shanidar 1 most likely required significant social support to reach old age.

“The debilities of Shanidar 1, and especially his hearing loss, thereby reinforce the basic humanity of these much maligned archaic humans, the Neandertals,” said Trinkaus, the Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor.

https://source.wustl.edu/2017/10/shanidar/

The World’s Smallest Ornamental Beads Discovered in China

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As reported in Shanghai Daily:  Four beads, made of a kind of eggshell and the smallest 1.26 millimeters in diameter, were discovered in an ancient site from the late Pleistocene dating between 8,000 and 12,000 years ago in the city of Qingtongxia.

All were smaller than 2 millimeters in diameter, archeologists said yesterday.

The excavation was conducted by Ningxia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology, the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology and the cultural relics administration of Qingtongxia from May to August.

“It is incredible that it can be so well processed with such a small diameter. It is rare among similar ornaments unearthed in other sites around the world,” said Wang Huimin, a researcher with the Ningxia institute.

Archeologists said the beads showed excellent craftsmanship and the aesthetic tastes of ancient humans. They said further research is needed to determine their exact purpose or meaning.

The Qingtongxia site is one of China’s top 10 archaeological finds of last year and has revealed more than 10,000 items, including stoneware, ornaments and plant seeds.

 

 

International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

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In the past eleven years close to 930 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. On average, this constitutes one death every four days. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems. UNESCO is concerned that impunity damages whole societies by covering up serious human rights abuses, corruption, and crime. Governments, civil society, the media, and everyone concerned to uphold the rule of law are being asked to join in the global efforts to end impunity.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163  (link is external)at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ (IDEI). The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163 (link is external) at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ (IDEI). The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.

 

The Priceless Heritage of Cyrus the Great for Iranian People

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Statement of Pasargad Heritage Foundation on Cyrus Day, Oct. 29, 2017.

For the fifteenth year we are approaching the Cyrus Day on October 29th which is the anniversary of the day when Cyrus the Great announced his Declaration of Human Rights on a clay cylinder. The occasion is celebrated by many people in and outside Iran. After many centuries, the Iranians have come to recognize the unique values of a great historical personality belonging to their motherland. They gather at his tomb and adjacent city and give tribute to his name and memory. These activities highlight the importance of this event and Cyrus Day. It is an important event which reflects the natural inclination of Iranian people in celebrating this day.

The reason behind this vast attention to Cyrus and his declaration is twofold. On one hand it is due to the elevation of peoples’ understanding of human rights in this age of information and, on the other, it is a reaction towards the harsh and difficult situation, created and imposed on them by the Islamic Republic.
Today in the 21st century and information age, human beings cannot (and should not) live under oppression and inhumane conditions. Humanity has survived centuries of bitter experiences and has been able to create a world that, though still full of pain and misery, is enlightened by that brilliantly crafted document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, Iranians are today deprived of these very rights and, at the same time, have come to know that their ancient leader of 2550 years ago was the one who initiated the understanding of such rights. They compare the backward laws of Islamic Republic of Iran with Cyrus’ Declaration and their hearts are full of sorrow. Confronting the differences between the two sets of laws, makes them appreciate what Cyrus had done for his time.

Cyrus appears to be the first man in history who thought of his peoples’ rights, their freedom of religion and opinion, while negating slavery, releasing slaves and focusing on the well-being of his people. These facts cannot be ignored and these rights of Iranians should today be considered as part of their cultural heritage.
Iranians are cognizant that Cyrus was neither a prophet nor a saint. He did not walk on water, could not resuscitate the dead and was unable to cause splitting of the moon. Nevertheless, by giving the people the right to choose their own religion, and therefore their destiny, he led the way in creating a nation of free decision makers. Thus, paying homage to him, especially in a time when his children are deprived of their basic rights, becomes ever more significant and timely.

Pasargad Heritage Foundation, the entity that first suggested the observance of Cyrus Day, 15 years ago, invites all Iranians and Iran-lovers to pay their tributes to Cyrus wherever they are and celebrate his day with more glory and splendor than ever before. They are invited to contemplate the role Cyrus played in the history of humanity by bestowing the human race a declaration that could bring them happiness, peacefulness, and tolerance.

With love and best wishes for everyone.

Shokooh Mirzadegi
Pasargad Heritage Foundation
www.savepasargad.com