Oldest Dutch telescope, archaeological discovery


The anccient Delft telescope, photo by Marco Zwinkels

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Oldest telescope found in Delft

Update: Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 13:05

In Delft, during excavations, recently the oldest telescope in the Netherlands was found. The technological marvel dates back to the early 17th century.

Archeologists found the device during the construction of a tunnel. After extensive research, scientists concluded that the telescope is older than a telescope by Christiaan Huygens in 1655. The viewer enlarged five times, enough to see mountains on the moon. The telescope is one of the highlights of the renovated museum the Prinsenhof, which re-opens this Friday.

The oldest telescope in the world dates back to 1609 and was by Galileo Galilei.

Unfortunately, in an interview archaeologist Steven Jongma said the telescope was probably not for astronomy, but for war; for spying on the enemy side.

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Extinct great auk discovery in Scotland


This video is called Extinct – The great Auk – Documentary.

From the BBC:

‘Scotland’s dodo’ bone found at Scottish Seabird Centre dig

A bone from an extinct bird known as “Scotland’s dodo” has been uncovered following an archaeological dig in East Lothian.

The bone from the Great Auk, a species last seen in British waters on St Kilda in 1840, was recovered at the Kirk Ness site, now known as North Berwick.

It was unearthed during a dig at the Scottish Seabird Centre.

Archaeologists said the find sheds new lights on human habitation of the area in the Middle Ages.

The archaeological dig, by Edinburgh-based Addyman Archaeology, and supported by Historic Scotland, revealed bones of butchered seals, fish and seabirds, including the bone of the Great Auk.

The upper arm bone of the flightless bird was unearthed at the entrance area of an early building and has been radio carbon dated to the 5th to 7th centuries.

The seabird was a favoured food source in medieval times as it was easy to catch.

Human predation led to the decline of the species, ensuring that by the middle of the 19th Century it had become persecuted and exploited into extinction.

The penguin-like bird was 1m tall and its range at one time extended from the north-eastern United States across the Atlantic to the British Isles, France and Northern Spain.

Tom Brock, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “The discovery of the Great Auk bone on site at the Scottish Seabird Centre is fascinating but also very sad.

“We are so fortunate in Scotland to have a rich variety of seabirds and we must use the extinction of the Great Auk as a warning to future generations to look after our wonderful wildlife and the marine environment as an absolute priority.

“There are both behavioural and environmental lessons that must be taken from this internationally-important finding, and as an educational and conservation charity we will remain dedicated to inspiring people to enjoy, protect and learn about wildlife and the natural environment.”

Future generations

Tom Addyman, of Addyman Archaeology, said: “The discovery of the Great Auk bone at Kirk Ness is an illuminating find, as we seek to understand and document the importance of the area in the history of wildlife and human habitation in the Middle Ages.

“We hope that its discovery helps historians and conservation experts, such as the Scottish Seabird Centre, to educate future generations about the precious nature of our natural resources.”

Rod McCullagh, senior archaeology manager at Historic Scotland, said: “In the last two decades, there has been a renaissance in our understanding of the archaeology and history of early Medieval Scotland.

“The discovery of the remains of domestic buildings and the associated detritus of daily life at Kirk Ness gives us a glimpse of what ordinary life was like in East Lothian at this time.

“That ‘daily life’ involved the killing of such valuable birds as the Great Auk is no surprise but the discovery of this single bone perhaps attests to a time when hunting did not overwhelm such a vulnerable species.”

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New archaeological discoveries in Peru


This video, recorded in Peru, says about itself:

Secrets of the Nazca Lines

12 November 2013

The Nazca Lines /ˈnæzkə/ are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The high, arid plateau stretches more than 80 kilometres (50 mi) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana about 400 km south of Lima. Although some local geoglyphs resemble Paracas motifs, scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, and lizards.

The lines are shallow designs made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. Hundreds are simple lines or geometric shapes; more than seventy are zoomorphic designs of animals such as birds, fish, llamas, jaguar, monkey, or human figures. Other designs include phytomorphic shapes such as trees and flowers. The largest figures are over 200 metres (660 ft) across. Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs, but in general they ascribe religious significance to them. Other theories have been summarized as follows: “The geometric ones could indicate the flow of water or be connected to rituals to summon water. The spiders, birds, and plants could be fertility symbols. Other possible explanations include: irrigation schemes or giant astronomical calendars.”

Due to the dry, windless, and stable climate of the plateau and its isolation, for the most part the lines have been preserved. Extremely rare changes in weather may temporarily alter the general designs. As of recent years, the lines have been deteriorating due to an influx of squatters inhabiting the lands.

Contrary to the popular belief that the lines and figures can only be seen with the aid of flight, they are visible from atop the surrounding foothills. They were first discovered by the Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe, who spotted them when hiking through the foothills in 1927. He discussed them at a conference in Lima in 1939.

Paul Kosok, a historian from Long Island University, is credited as the first scholar to seriously study the Nazca Lines. In the country in 1940-41 to study ancient irrigation systems, he flew over the lines and realized that one was in the shape of a bird. Another chance helped him see how lines converged at the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. He began to study how the lines might have been created, as well as to try to determine their purpose. He was joined by Maria Reiche, a German mathematician and archaeologist to help figure out the purpose of the Nazca Lines. They proposed one of the earliest reasons for the existence of the figures: to be markers on the horizon to show where the sun and other celestial bodies rose. Archaeologists, historians and mathematicians have all struggled with determining the purpose of the lines.

Determining how they were made has been easier than figuring why they were made. Scholars have theorized the Nazca people could have used simple tools and surveying equipment to construct the lines. Archaeological surveys have found wooden stakes in the ground at the end of some lines, which support this theory. One such stake was carbon-dated and was the basis for establishing the age of the design complex. The scholar Joe Nickell of the University of Kentucky has reproduced the figures by using tools and technology available to the Nazca people. The National Geographic called his work “remarkable in its exactness” when compared to the actual lines. With careful planning and simple technologies, a small team of people could recreate even the largest figures within days, without any aerial assistance.

On the ground, most of the lines are formed by a shallow trench with a depth of between 10 cm (3.9 in) and 15 cm (5.9 in). Such trenches were made by removing the reddish-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles that cover the surface of the Nazca desert. When this gravel is removed the light-colored clay earth which is exposed in the bottom of the trench produces lines which contrast sharply in color and tone with the surrounding land surface. This sublayer contains high amounts of lime which, with the morning mist, hardens to form a protective layer that shields the lines from winds, thereby preventing erosion.

From Popular Archaeology:

Ancient Geoglyphs in Peru Predate Nazca Lines

Mon, May 05, 2014

Mound complex in Peru’s Chincha Valley features linear radiating geoglyph lines that predate the Nazca lines by three centuries

A recent study of an archaeological mound complex with astronomical orientations and geoglyph lines in southern Peru suggests that the site features a ceremonial or ritualistic center for religous and social interaction in an ancient culture that existed between 800 and 100 BCE.

Known as the Paracas culture, these ancient people constituted an Andean society known for extensive knowledge of irrigation and water management. The Chincha Valley, about 200 km south of Lima, contains early settlements of the Paracas culture. Previous surveys have indicated at least 30 major Paracas period sites or centers in the valley.

Recenty, a study team co-led by Charles Stanish of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and Department of Anthropology, University of California, surveyed and test-excavated among five previously identified mound clusters in the lower Chincha mid-valley area. Dating them based on excavated pottery to the Late Paracas period (400 – 100 BCE), they found that the mounds featured a total of 71 geoglyph lines that radiated outward from the mounds, forming what they called “ray centers”. Two of the mounds, built in a u-shape configuration, were oriented toward the location of the sun at the June solstice. Stanish and colleagues suggest that it all represents construction for specific group or societal purposes, the details of which are thus far lost to time. But the signs appear to be unmistakeable. Write Stanish, et al:

“In Chincha, linear geoglyphs, platform mounds, and walls on those ceremonial mounds mark the June solstice. If it were only lines, then one could argue that the few solstice alignments were due to chance. However, the combination of platform mounds built in orientation with the June solstice, similarly positioned wall alignments, and comparative evidence from other regions in the Andes that documents solstice marking at sites contemporary with the Paracas period, makes purposeful construction the most parsimonious explanation. Based on these data, there is little doubt that marking the June solstice is an Andean tradition that was part of the logic of ceremonial mound construction and the creation of linear geoglyphs in pre-Hispanic Chincha during Paracas times.*

Ancient geoglyphs in Peru are most commonly associated with the famous Nazca Lines located in the Nazca Desert of southern Peru. Thought to have been created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD, scholars have developed a number of theories explaining their existence, with the greatest consensus revolving around religious practices or beliefs. But with recent discoveries related to the earlier Paracas culture, the picture is becoming a bit clearer, with the construction tradition appearing to be more ancient and more widespread.

“The ritualized landscape publically attested to particular platform mound sites as focal points for social gatherings, but it was also a product of these gatherings,” write Stanish, et al. “The act of creating geoglyphs within the broader ritualized landscape—the physical piling and clearing of rocks and soil—may be a key component of individual participation in such events. The specific nature of these social events remains obscure and will be the focus of our future research.”*

The study report has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1406501111.

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Libyan artists in danger


This video says about itself:

Tadrart Acacus, UNESCO World Heritage Site

21 July 2009

Tadrart Acacus is a desert area in western Libya and is part of the Sahara. It is situated close to the Libyan city of Ghat. Tadrart means ‘mountain’ in the native language of the area (Tamahaq language). It has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art. The Acacus has a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sand dunes to arches, gorges, rocks and mountains. Major landmarks are the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega.

Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the callotropis plant. The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

Now, four years after the making of this video, both this ancient Libyan art, and today’s Libyan art and its makers are in danger.

After George W Bush invaded Iraq, 90% of that country’s artists were killed or fled to other countries.

Something similar happens now as the consequence of another so-called ‘humanitarian’ war, the NATO war on Libya in 2011.

From Magharebia (Washington DC, USA):

Libya Chaos Impacts Artists

By Asmaa Elourfi, 17 April 2014

Interview

Benghazi — With Libya’s capital of culture facing daily bombings and assassinations, artists are left in a perilous position.

To get a handle on the situation, Magharebia met in Benghazi with Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi, a 42-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. He began his theatre career in the ’90s, before later performing at events in Tunisia and Morocco.

As al-Obeidi explains, Benghazi’s “chaos and insecurity” is taking a toll on the city’s famed cultural and literary activities.

Magharebia: As an artist, how do you see the situation in Libya now?

Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi: Writers, poets and intellectuals fully realise the deteriorating security situation and have their own visions about it. They only wait for calm to prevail to present their ideas on how to deal with these issues.

This is because artists are the closest ones to the street; in my opinion, they are the real mirror of the street.

Magharebia: What’s keeping writers and actors from proceeding with their careers in Libya?

Al-Obeidi: There are many obstacles, but the fact that theatres are not fully prepared for theatrical troupes is the main obstacle.

Writers have their own very profound imaginations, but the entities concerned with writers are not playing their roles as they should. For example, Benghazi, which is the cultural capital, has its own literary experiences and elements, and is known for its art, creation and culture, but its literary production is very modest.

Magharebia: What are your latest works?

Al-Obeidi: I’m now writing another play titled “I’m without Address”, a monodrama depicting the condition of Arab citizens following the revolutions, the ambiguity they live in, the concepts that have changed and the schizophrenia they live. The play is being rehearsed now by al-Mashhad al-Masrahi theatrical troupe in Morocco. I’ve also released, at my own expense, my first collection of lyrics and popular poetry.

Magharebia: What do you see for your country’s future?

Al-Obeidi: Building Libya is not an impossible wish. We have to reach national reconciliation and put aside hatreds and clean our hearts before we can talk about building the state or institutions.

We as Libyans are Arabs, and we depend too much on traditions, habits and tribes, and this is a double-edged weapon.

If we can utilise all of these capabilities, we’ll reach the shore of safety and the country and future generations will rest. However, if we proceed with retaliations, hatred and double standard policies, we’ll continue in this dark tunnel.

Magharebia: What part does an artist play in this?

Al-Obeidi: Their role is important and vital. They have to work day and night to get their ideas across using all peaceful means. They have to embody their visions through their works of art because the street is now looking for an alternative to solve the crisis, and here comes the role of the pioneering artist who can reach all categories of society with his/her distinguished style.

This is because the artist is loved by all, and stands at the same distance from all; therefore, the artist shouldn’t deal lightly with his assigned role in society, as he is responsible before history.

Libya remains in the grip of rivalrous rebel factions. Three years after ousting dictator Moammar Kadafi, the militias have turned to smuggling and extortion, and left Libya without a real government: here.

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Bronze age bracelet discovery in the Netherlands


Bronze age bracelet, photo by Limburgs Museum

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Palette bracelet found from Bronze Age

Tuesday 8 April 2014, 22:03 (Update: 09-04-14, 08:05 AM)

An amateur archaeologist has found a palette bracelet from the late Bronze Age (1000-800 BC) in Limburg province. Palette bracelets from this time are rare. In the Netherlands there had never previously been found one, though some were in Belgium and France.

The man found the object during a years-long search on a field in the municipality of Echt-Susteren. In total he found 85 objects in the ground: bracelets, rings, beads and wire in a spiral shape. The Limburg Museum aquired them last year.

The museum assumes that the objects were buried as offerings or to keep them out of the hands of an enemy.

Restored

It is not certain whether the jewelry was used as a bracelet. It may also have been worn on an ankle.

The museum has restored the items. From May 3 on, people will be able to see them in the museum.

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Pre-Inca archaeological discoveries in Peru


This video says about itself:

8 March 2014

Archaeologists uncover human remains dating back about 3, 000 years in Peru.

From Peru this Week:

Archaeologists find 3,000-year-old graves in Cusco, Peru

19 Hours ago

By Rachel Chase

Experts say the artifacts and skeletal remains come from the pre-Inca Marcavalle culture.

Excavators working in the city of Cusco have discovered a burial site containing five individuals from the Marcavalle culture, a pre-Inca society.

Andina news agency reports that the skeletal remains date back to around 1,000 BC. The burial site, which contained two double graves and one single grave, was found on land owned by a Cusco center for juvenile rehabilitation. Three of the individuals found at the site were adults at the time of their deaths, while one was a child and the other an adolescent.

In addition to the skeletal remains, some of which were buried wearing beaded necklaces. Tools made from obsidian and camelid bones also accompanied the bodies, as did ceramic fragments bearing artistic motifs known to be associated with the Marcavalle culture.

Andina reports that investigations related to this find go back as far as 1960. No intact human remains of the Marcavalle culture had previously been found.

This most recent dig began in late 2013. Archaeologists are now planning to continue excavations in the area to learn more about the Marcavalle. According to Andina, researchers are hoping for a budget of S/. 1,000,000 to continue their work in Cusco.

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Spanish Costa Blanca civil war atrocities history


This video from Spain says about itself:

Spanish Civil War mass grave excavation reveals remains of 17 women

25 January 2012

Gerena (Spain), 25 Jan (EFE), (Camera: Juan Ferreras). Archaeologists found the first bones on Tuesday in a mass grave belonging to women known as the ‘17 roses‘, who were executed by firing squad during the Spanish Civil War 74 years ago for being related to republican militants.

By Geoff Martin in Britain:

Spain‘s past casts a sinister shadow

Friday 21st February 2014

Costa Blanca is a favourite destination for tourists but it also holds some dark secrets. GEOFF MARTIN investigates

As the planes deliver thousands of tourists to Alicante airport to begin their holidays in Benidorm and other resorts along the Costa Blanca, I suspect only a tiny number know anything of the brutal past of the area which still sits well within living memory.

My own research into the civil war on the Costa Blanca began by chance just behind the lighthouse at El Faro on the headland at the southern tip of Alicante’s huge bay.

Walking the hills, and taking in the superb view across the Med to the island of Tabarca, I came purely by chance upon some disused anti-aircraft gun emplacements and a derelict barracks and munitions block.

I guessed that they must have been civil war era and after some inquiries in a nearby bar established that they were republican positions designed to repulse Italian and German fascist bombing raids on Alicante and the surrounding area.

I didn’t need any more than that. My journey into the dark and hidden past of the Costa’s sunshine resorts had begun.

My travels since then have taken me to remote corners of the area by train and bus and on foot as I’ve followed up leads and tried to piece together fragments of information and history to gain a proper understanding of what took place in the area over 75 years ago and why so much remains buried deep under the rocks and sandy soil.

They’ve taken in Benissa, with its military hospital and fantastic International Brigades memorial, the dockside in Alicante where the final republican surrender to Italian fascist forces descended into brutality, torture and murder and the last remnants of the Mediterranean Wall’s defences.

I’m still on the trail but probably the most harrowing experience so far has been the visits to the sites of the two concentration camps close to Alicante.

Campo de los Almendros (Field of Almond Trees) was a makeshift concentration camp just north of the main city. It was there that the thousands of republicans rounded up on the dockside were taken by Franco’s forces when Alicante became the final stronghold of the Spanish republic to fall to the nationalists on March 31 1939.

Today it remains a desolate place, hemmed in by a wire fence and located just behind a shopping centre. There is little to mark its significance, apart from a symbolic olive tree regularly subject to neofascist vandalism. There are a couple of small signs, but they say nothing of what terror took place in this small corner of the Costa Blanca.

Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 prisoners passed through in its short time of operation. There was no food and no water and other reports say that up to 2,000 may have died, some machine-gunned by Italian troops on the slopes of the nearby hill.

The Los Almendros camp was dismantled on April 6 1939. The prisoners were dispersed, mainly to the labour camp at San Isidro/Albatera which is a short train ride south out of Alicante’s main terminal.

Today, the site of the San Isidro camp sits within the shadow of the high-speed rail route being built down to the south of the country and to reach it you have to pick your way through the building works.

A monument was erected by survivors in 1995 and its twin iron beams, wrapped at the top with broken chains, stand proud against the backdrop of palm trees.

All that remains of the original camp is a small brick shed that was close to the gatehouse, now used as tool store. It is estimated that 25,000 people died at the San Isidro camp. During the night, falangists would arrive from all over the country to drag away and torture and shoot prisoners.

In 2011 the Spanish Ministry of Justice, after years of pressure from the historical memory campaigners and counter-pressure from the far-right Manos Limpeas, finally produced a map of known sites of mass graves from the civil war period.

It’s an important resource that goes some way to exposing the scale of the far-right butchery and to offering some hope of closure for the many surviving friends and relatives of the victims.

But, despite the fact that thousands were murdered at San Isidro and with many buried adjacent to Albatera railway station, this location was left off the official map even though it is thought to be the one of the largest mass graves in the country. Nobody has explained why. A campaign to recognise the terror, brutality and mass murder at San Isidro rages on and deserves international support.

That support for the campaigning groups in Spain like the Historical Memory Commission isn’t just important in terms of what happened in the past, it’s crucially important in terms of what is happening in the country right now.

After years of EU-imposed austerity and corruption scandals involving the elite and the upper-echelons of the political class, the far-right is once again on the march.

Fascist attacks on left-wing and multi-cultural events are on the rise and the Movement Against Intolerance, a monitoring organisation, says that Spain is experiencing its worst wave of far-right extremism since the mid 1990s, a previous period of economic and political crisis.

The connection between those who not only want to keep the truth of the Spanish civil war buried and locked away but who also seek to tear down the few memorials to the International Brigades and others who fought and struggled for democracy and progress and a resurgent far-right is brutally clear. The only people who benefit from hiding the past are those whose bloodline tracks back to the same ideology and ethos as Franco’s butchers.

The efforts of all of those fighting for truth and justice, including formal political prisoners from the years up to 1975, deserve nothing less than our full support. La lucha continua!

Geoff Martin is head of communications at the RMT union. More information on the Costa Blanca during the civil war can be found on the blogsite www.costablancacivilwar.blogspot.co.uk.

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Ancient sarcophagus discovery in Luxor, Egypt


This video is about sarcophaguses and coffins in ancient Egypt.

From Ahram Online in Egypt:

Rare wooden anthropoid sarcophagus discovered in Luxor

A 17th dynasty painted sarcophagus belonging to a top governmental official was unearthed at Draa Abul-Naga necropolis on Luxor‘s west bank

Nevine El-Aref, Thursday 13 Feb 2014

A Spanish-Egyptian archeological team working on Luxor’s west bank has discovered a rare wooden human-shaped sarcophagus from the 17th dynasty.

The find came during routine excavation work at the tomb of Djehuty, treasure holder for Queen Hatshepsut, at Dra Abul-Naga necropolis.

The sarcophagus is important for the detailed depictions of bird feather shapes and sizes painted on its lid, motifs that have earned it the title of Feathers Sarcophagus, according to Egypt’s antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim.

The 2 metre long, 42 cm tall sarcophagus is in very good condition, Ibrahim said, and also engraved with titles of the deceased, which archeologists have not yet been able to identify.

Studies reveal that the sarcophagus belongs to a top governmental official from the 17th dynasty, whose mummy was enclosed inside, said Ibrahim.

The archeological team found two other burials at the site, which were both empty. It is believed that they were robbed in antiquity.

The Spanish mission began excavation work at Djehuty’s tomb 13 years ago, when many artefacts from New Kingdom dynasties were found.

Last year the team unearthed a sarcophagus of a 17th dynasty child, along with a number of clay pots and ushabti figurines wrapped in linen.

Excavation at the site remains in full swing, said Gose Galan, head of the Spanish team.

Archaeologists working in the western desert of Egypt have discovered a school dating back about 1,700 years that contains ancient Greek writings on its walls, including a text about ancient drug use that references Homer’s “The Odyssey”: here.

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