History In the News - Part VIII
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From the Prawn of Time...
Older than sharks. Older than horseshoe crabs. The tiny "tadpole shrimp", or Triops cancriformis, is on the endangered species list, but valiantly persists.
The Guardian.UK writes:
Until recently, researchers believed the ancient shrimps lived only in a single pond in the New Forest in Hampshire. Six years ago, Larry Griffin, a scientist at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, discovered what appeared to be an isolated colony of the creatures in a pool at Caerlaverock.
The wee shrimp remains virtually unchanged from the Triassic Period, making it some 200 Million years old -- pre-dating dinosaurs.
I hope they act to preserve these special little guys.
Edited to add this link --
some told me the other wasn't working for them.
Another Earth would really be quite handy. We could use it to preserve everything, and any extinctions wouldn't be our fault!
I know I'm just a sentimental fool. But seems sad to me that something hangs on for 220million years only to get wiped out by a Jiffy-mart.
Misleading. Earliest horseshoe crabs are Ordovician; earliest sharks are Devonian, both much earlier than the Triassic. And it's only the European species that's endangered; the North American species Triops longicaudatus is abundant - you can buy them as "pets". Not very cuddly, though.
Well, we all know that the domestic Triops are inferior to the imported.
Here's more on that ship they uncovered beneath Washington Street.
The oldest home in Britain.
I put together a "History in the News" article on my blog covering research into pyroclastic clouds at Pompeii, new Roman finds in Britain, a Thracian temple in Turkey, studies done on the Temple Scroll and much more. There are ten stories, too many to copy here, but you can follow the links to the original articles here: http://faithljustice.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/history-news-2/
Not directly history news, but relevant for archeology: the activity of the sun has an impact on the half-life of radioisotopes. I suppose there will be readjustment of many a carbon date after this is sorted out.
Oh god, haha... it seems like every year something new comes out showing how flawed carbon dating is...
Totally OT::: but it might be of interest to some here:
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That last one is of special interest. It fits in with my passion for this thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/77052
Oldest arrows found: 64,000 years old
The skeleton of Phillip of Macedon?
Cool, Stellar. You know if I could travel back in time... yes, it'd probably be to visit Phillip and son.
By the way, an interesting study has suggested that lead poisoning, via make-up, in the Edo period of Japan was responsible for political instability.
Does anyone know about lead studies in Romans?
I know that it used to be a popular theory for why the empire "fell" and all that, but nowadays is a bit out of favor. Wouldn't surprise me if it had *some* kind of impact on society on the whole, though.
A rare suit of Roman armor found in Wales. There's a good video as well:
Long before Hitler, Stalin & Pol Pot ... genocide in history:
Genocide Wiped Out Native American Population : Discovery News
I've posted my monthly "history in the news" article on my blog. For those interested in threatened archaeological sites, the fate of looted artifacts and national kerfuffles over politics and history, you can check it out at: http://faithljustice.wordpress.com
You know, Josh, I've heard this too but don't actually now what the theory was based on. I believe I sort of rolled my eyes at it without researching it. I mean does someone have lead-laden Roman bones somewhere or what?
I've never really looked into it either, it always just seemed like a fishy excuse, to me. Still, I'd be interested to find out, because lead poisoning is a serious thing, and if everyone was exposed to it all the time, I'm sure it would have had some kind of negative impact on public health eventually..
Okay, I hope I'm remembering this right because I can't remember the source. Anyway ...
It used to be theorised that the Romans were being poisoned by the lead water pipes they used; but I read somewhere quite recently - possibly on this site - that it wouldn't actually happen because a coating of oxide would form on the inside of the pipes and insulate the water from the pure lead.
Does that make sense, scientifically?
Don't know much about it, but this site might have some answers: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/wine/leadpoisoning.html
27> Does that make sense, scientifically?
Somewhat. Lead water pipes - for that matter, just about any water pipes - usually do develop some sort of interior coating after they have been in use for a while. However, the chemistry of the water dictates exactly what that coating is; it can be oxides of the material the pipe is made out of (lead oxide in the case lead pipe), or (probably most commonly) calcium compounds deposited from the water. Or both. The was a classic example of the law of unintended consequences in the Washington DC water system. Washington had been using chlorine as a disinfectant for drinking water. Chlorine, however, can combine with trace organic material in the water to make various organochlorine compounds, some of which are carcinogens. DC therefore switched to chloramines as disinfectants (you've probably been warned at some time or another never to mix chlorine bleach with hosuehold ammonia. Chloramines are what you get when you do this). Chloramines, however, have a lower oxidation potential than chlorine and can form a lead carbonate compound, which is much more water soluble than lead oxide. That's exactly what happened in DC; as the organochlorine concentrations in drinking water went down, the dissolved lead concentration went up.
This has limited applicability to ancient Rome, obviously - neither chlorine or chloramine in the water. It would be reasonable to expect that any lead pipes in Rome would quickly get coated with lead oxide or calcium carbonate, and it would stay there. (You can make lead oxide or calcium carbonate dissolve at very high or very low pH, but the water would be undrinkable at those pH levels.)
#28 - Fascinating article and site - thanks.
#30 - From the link in #28, it was probably the calcium compounds, rather than lead oxide, that I'd been reading about.
Fascinating article. I had totally forgotten about Lead Salts and how they were used to sweeten foods. AND the connection to gout.
There's a new study out that shows that animals trampling ancient sites that are water-logged, affects the results, sometimes pushing artifacts into older millennia.
Those of you who get the Journal of Archaeological Science can look up::: "Experimental Examination of Animal Trampling Effects on Artifact Movement in Dry and Water Saturated Substrates: A Test Case from South India"
Apparently all previous examinations of this effect used dry soils. (D'oh)
I haven't actually read it (even now that I've copied it), but this looks related to the trampling Pam is talking about.
This is really amazing news:
'Mini-Pompeii' Found in Norway Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi
Thu Oct 7, 2010 02:24 PM ET
0 Comments | Leave a Comment Print Email Facebook Tweet Digg Yahoo! Buzz Norwegian archaeologists have unearthed a Neolithic “mini Pompeii” at a campsite near the North Sea, they announced this week.
Discovered at Hamresanden, not far from Kristiansand’s airport at Kjevik in southern Norway, the settlement has remained undisturbed for 5,500 years, buried under three feet of sand.
“We expected to find an 'ordinary' Scandinavian Stone Age site, badly preserved and small. Instead, we discovered a unique site, buried under a thick sand layer,” lead archaeologist Lars Sundström, of the Museum of Cultural History at the University in Oslo, told Discovery News.
Digging about 80 meters (262 feet) from the shoreline, in the headland formed by the river Topdalselva and the North Sea, Sundström’s team first unearthed what appears to be the remains of a walled structure.
“So far, we have evidence of a 30-meter (98.5-foot) bank made from sand mixed with clay and silt. We believe that this bank has been shoveled up against a wooden wall in order to support it," Sundström said.
The structure, whose length continues beyond the limits of the excavation trenches, is made of large stones.
"They must have been carried from some distance, since the area is devoid of stone naturally," Sundström said.
Most likely a seasonal aggregation site conveniently located between a river and the sea, the settlement is filled with shards of beaker-shaped vessels, many of which could be restored to the original state.
Highly decorated with the use of stamps, mostly cords used to form patterns, the pottery belong to the earliest phase of the Trichterrandbecherkultur (TRB) , or Funnel-Beaker Culture. This is a late Neolithic culture which spread in north-central Europe between 4000 and 2700 B.C.
“The pottery has allowed us to date the site to between 4000 – 3600 B.C. We found it on top of the cultural layer which reflects the last event of the occupation,” Sundström said.
According to the archaeologist, the way the pottery was found suggests that the seasonal Stone Age settlers left their pots with the intent of reusing them upon their return.
But a sudden, catastrophic event buried everything.
“The formation of the upper layer remains somewhat mysterious. Most probably the site was suddenly flooded, and covered with sand by the nearby river. There are no signs of occupation within this thick sand layer. This is a strong indication of a relatively quick process,” said Sundström.
Encapsulated between the sand layer and an underlying layer of silt and clay, the remains are virtually untouched.
The archaeologists, who have so far dug out about 500 square meters (5381 square feet) out of several thousand, hope to uncover much more in the following months.
“The site is lying on top of a silt and clay layer which we know preserves wood, so we have good hopes for finding buried wood from the occupation phase later on in the excavation,” Sundström said.
Photo: A fragment of a beaker-shaped vessels from the Funnel-Beaker Culture. Courtesy of Lars Sundström/Kulturhistoriskt Museum, Universitetet I Oslo.
(First thought though : "vulcanic activity in Norway???" - LOL)
Matt, wasn't it a Norwegian volcano that theoretically doused the Neanderthals. (Can't remember who's theory this is, but he was recently in the news.)
THAT fragment is so beautiful. Amazing.
39> Well, Jan Mayen Island and Bouvet Island are both technically in Norway. I can't see Bouvet having much effect on Neaderthals, but I suppose Jan Mayen is a possibility.
That well-preserved bronze Roman cavalry helmet, that was in the news a month or so ago, was sold at Christie's for $3.6 million. My neighbor works at Christie's (in the furniture department) but was able to get me a copy of the catalog which featured the helmet on the cover. A beautiful piece! Link to the article: http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/36006/a-rare-roman-cavalry-helmet-rides-off-wi...
Damn archaeological law loopholes! I hate seeing stuff like that hit the market instead of being in a museum where it belongs.
Ah well, some rich guy gets a nice conversation piece for his mantel, I guess :-P
An aerial picture approximately taken in 1970 shows a stone structure located in the mountains, south of Kislovodsk. Traces of a previously unknown Bronze Age civilization have been discovered in the peaks of Russia's Caucasus Mountains.
Bronze Age Civilization Spotted in Old Photographs
Forty-year-old aerial photographs of Russia's Caucasus Mountains revealed clues to the ancient civilization.Aerial photographs of Russia's Caucuses Mountains were taken in the 1970s.
Archaeologists recently spotted stone structures in the photographs.
They traced the location of the sites at high altitudes and began excavation.
Traces of a previously unknown Bronze Age civilization have been discovered in the peaks of Russia's Caucasus Mountains thanks to aerial photographs taken 40 years ago, researchers said Monday.
"We have discovered a civilization dating from the 16th to the 14th centuries B.C., high in the mountains south of Kislovodsk," in Russia's North Caucasus region, Andrei Belinsky, the head of a joint Russian-German expedition that has been investigating the region for five years, said.
He said researchers had discovered stone foundations, some up to a meter (3.3 feet) high, at nearly 200 sites, all "visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads."
The sites are spread over about 60 miles between the Kuban river in the west and the city of Nalchik in the east.
The decorations and forms of bronze items found in the area indicate the civilization is linked to the Kuban civilization, which was discovered at the end of the 19th century at the foot of Mount Kazbek and is known for its artistic bronze works.
The discovery of this older civilization "was possible thanks especially to old black-and-white photographs taken in the Soviet Union," said Dmitry Korobov, another participant in the expedition.
Using modern research methods such as global positioning systems, the archeologists were able to use the photographs to uncover the sites, which are at a height of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet.
Valentina Kozenkova, an archeologist specializing in the Caucasus at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the discovery was of historical importance.
"This is a discovery without parallel, notably for the number of sites found in the same place," she said.
"The impact of this work is even more important because these 200 sites are in very good condition thanks to their location," she said.
That is so cool! The archaeologists must be dying to get up there. Imagine, getting to excavate a site with so little exposure to looting!
Now here's some really ancient history --
To add to David Christian's "Maps of Time" Creation story:
Now this is truly a miracle!
Columbus cleared of importing syphilis from America after skeletons from two centuries earlier show signs of disease
#60: Now that is interesting! I had heard that a form of syphilis existed in both old and new worlds but that the mixture of the strains turned it into the deadly form that plagued Europe and the rest of the globe thereafter. I don't lnow where I heard that but this article makes no mention of it so I wonder if that was simply idle speculation or a legitimate theory.
Well, they had to get in their little jab at the end didn't they.
But across the Atlantic, diseases carried from Europe were causing far greater havoc. Millions of Native Americans died of measles, flu and smallpox exported from Europe.We of European ancestry just need to have our blame called out.
Unclear about the connotations of this in the US. But such thing do have a sobering effect on us Europeans.
Robert, it's the flavor of the day. Think of it as part of the historiography :)
Matt, how so?
Of interest to Neanderthal fans:
A whole bunch of Bronze Age goodies found in Essex....
>57 that is a spectacular find -- fits in nicely with the early date of Australian occupation.
Thought this was cool. Apparently they ran tests on all those "headless gladiators" they found in England, and found that most of them originally hailed from far off places!
I love the arcane ways we now have of uncovering all sorts of information from the data; so much is there if we have the right tools...
I've posted my latest history in the news round-up "Italy's Woes, Roman Recycling and Forensic Genetics" at my blog. Comments are welcome. Thanks to Feicht for the tip on the headless Romans!
An Apple engineer has recreated the Antikythera Mechanism out of legos. A great video and interview with the designer here:
So cool! A winter storm has washed up from the sea an ancient Roman statue in Israel. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1339051/The-sea-gave-Wonder-Israel-ancie...
This just in: Neanderthals cooked their vegetables!
We've tended to think of them as meat eaters, but they ate their vegetables. Maybe why they grew up to be big and strong, the way my mother deceptively advertised them to me!
"Researchers in the US have found grains of cooked plant material in their teeth.
The study is the first to confirm that the Neanderthal diet was not confined to meat and was more sophisticated than previously thought.
The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The popular image of Neanderthals as great meat eaters is one that has up until now been backed by some circumstantial evidence. Chemical analysis of their bones suggested they ate little or no vegetables.
This perceived reliance on meat had been put forward by some as one of the reasons these humans become extinct as large animals such as mammoths declined due to an Ice Age.
But a new analysis of Neanderthal remains from across the world has found direct evidence that contradicts the chemical studies. Researchers found fossilised grains of vegetable material in their teeth and some of it was cooked.
Although pollen grains have been found before on Neanderthal sites and some in hearths, it is only now there is clear evidence that plant food was actually eaten by these people.
Continue reading the main story
We have found pollen grains in Neanderthal sites before but you never know whether they were eating the plant or sleeping on them or what”
End Quote Professor Alison Brooks George Washington University
Professor Alison Brooks, from George Washington University, told BBC News: "We have found pollen grains in Neanderthal sites before but you never know whether they were eating the plant or sleeping on them or what.
"But here we have a case where a little bit of the plant is in the mouth so we know that the Neanderthals were consuming the food."
More like us
One question raised by the study is why the chemical studies on Neanderthal bones have been wide of the mark. According to Professor Brooks, the tests were measuring proteins levels, which the researchers assumed came from meat.
"We've tended to assume that if you have a very high value for protein in the diet that must come from meat. But... it's possible that some of the protein in their diet was coming from plants," she said.
This study is the latest to suggest that, far from being brutish savages, Neanderthals were more like us than we previously thought."
This is interesting - a new species to add to the the Neanderthals, the Flores 'hobbits' and us:
I'm wondering how many more new species are going to turn up.
> 65 I've mulling over the above for the last two weeks or so. There was gene flow between the groups.
This is interesting too: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12039203
"Ancient rock art's colours come from microbes
A particular type of ancient rock art in Western Australia maintains its vivid colours because it is alive, researchers have found.
While some rock art fades in hundreds of years, the "Bradshaw art" remains colourful after at least 40,000 years.
Jack Pettigrew of the University of Queensland in Australia has shown that the paintings have been colonised by colourful bacteria and fungi.
These "biofilms" may explain previous difficulties in dating such rock art." Etc.
Great link Stellar! It emphasizes the role that various branches of the sciences play in today's historical studies.
Earliest winery found in Armenia: 6100 years old
A clearer description of where the newly-identified Denisovans fit in to the human family tree:
Especially the last section as I'd been puzzling for some time as to how, exactly, this field uses the term 'species'.
It's such an exciting field: what with the Flores 'hobbits' and now this people, not to mention the new stuff about the Neanderthals' eating habits, I really look forward with some anticipation to what the next few years might bring.
I just hope it doesn't refuel the old racist arguments about different human "races" being different species (and therefore, okay to enslave, etc).
>72 I agree -- it's a very exciting time. The changes in our view of recent human evolution have been astonishing in the last few years.
>73 Agreed, no enslavement!
>75 I always agree with your more thought-out positions, Feicht!
Ah yeah... "no slavery" = good... but "no fat chicks" = debatable? Gotcha!
> 73 (and further): At least we now have better scientific grounds for calling those racists Neanderthals.
I am so fascinated by the latest developments on the human evolution story. Thanks for posting!
Just saw this on past civilizations and climate shifts:
Fascinating stuff, but am I the only one getting a sense of déjà vu? I'm sure I've read a book or articles about this stuff in the past.
I wish they didn't have these dumb, hyped up titles. Great information, strong hypothesis, then ruined by an off-the-wall headline
I wonder how much influence humans actually have in the world? Certainly we seem to be able to mess things up on a grand scale, and we have a record of achievements. But when you consider the influence of climate on human history, of epidemics and infection, of geography, etc., it's sobering. And then if you consider our capacity to repair things when they go wrong ... I for one am hoping for good weather.
I can't for the moment conjure up the correct term for the paleo-meteorologists that explore climate change in the distant past (I know there is a term!), but it seems evident that man has had an impact upon the climate pretty dramatically from very early on. Swidden agriculture apparently caused a mild global warming. Certainly, today's impact is more substantial. It will be some time, if ever, until we can sort out how much man has impacted upon the climate over time and whether the climate we worry about today has already been significantly altered long before the industrial revolution, which I suspect has been the case.
OK. If the climate has pieces. I somehow think of the climate as something that is all of one piece. But in any case, we are not something separate over against it to view it dispassionately and do things to it. OCICBW.
> 84 Perhaps the term would be paleoclimatology?
> 84,87 No question we have been altering the Earth and its climate since before historical times. And we are part of the climate. I wasn't attempting to be controversial, just musing. Perhaps overly approximately...
I join in opposing blithely doing things to it. :-)
I see the planet as an organism and humans have a choice. Either we work out a mutually beneficial relationship (like mitochondria), or we continue as we are and overwhelm Earth's immune system (like some nasty virus). Oh, or another possibility: Through disregard for the consequences of our actions, humans trigger Earth's immune system and we go the way of the... Mayans? (Not sure, but I've read that some scientists believe the Mayans' impact on the ecology led to the collapse of their civilization.)
"With great power comes great responsibility." Uncle Ben
Unlike many of my fellow agnostics, I do not reject some form of determinism out of hand, although that determinism need not be driven by a supernatural force. Also, I do not accept Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis that the Earth is a single living organism -- although as an agnostic I try to keep an open mind here too. I have wondered that if determinism exists, could it be that evolution is driven towards higher life forms, such as ourselves, who would then be capable to achieving evolutionary ends that are more advanced than natural selection coulfd otherwise obtain? Out of the ball park, I know, and there is zero evidence of it, but it is just something I wonder about it from time to time.
PS Stellar, I think you're right: paleoclimatology
I should have added the caveat that Earth is like an organism. I meant it as a metaphor and not literally. Metaphysically I believe all things are interconnected in some way, so for me it only makes sense that humans do their best to reduce their collective impact on the planet.
>90 You are confusing me there Garp. Of course this is not a resolved issue (joke), but determinism tends to be more associated with atheism than theism. God may be seen as having granted man free will, as without choice there can be no moral responsibility. God grants the freedom to choose to sin or not to sin. Thus it would tend to be god-accepting folk who particularly reject determinism. Of course there exceptions, eg. Calvin and Calvinism, etc.
In a godless universe, one governed by physical laws that are deterministic, human behavior as part of that universe, might seem also necessarily guided by determinism. And again, there are arguments and objections to that -- all very interesting to some -- the point being that atheists would generally speaking tend more to embrace determinism than nonatheists.
So I am confused about your associating agnostics with rejecting determinism.
92 Stellar --Well I was referring to determinism in the sense that the earth was deliberately utilizing evolution to shape itself thru the organisms that evolved to populate the biosphere. In general, scientists treat evolution as a wholly blind process, and thus far all the evidence seems to support that.
I meant only that athiests would not only reject determinism from a supernatural creator being, but generally also anything non-scientific, as per unestablished philosophical musings such as I was engaged in.
91 pmackey -- I follow you and the metaphor is indeed a sound one.
Hard to tell sometimes. Even I don't always know. Possibly. ;D Don't mean any harm -- that much I can say with conviction.
January's "History in the News" is up on my blog (http://faithljustice.wordpress.com) covering the controversy over Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park (Egypt wants it back), our new human cousins from Siberia, bog bodies and much more. Comments welcome!
As much as I deplore the wholesale looting that's happened in Egypt over the last few hundred years, I feel like the Needle is part of Central Park now. It was a gift from the Khedive in 1877 - and even if you doubt his right to give it away, how badly could they be missing it? The Berlin head, now....
Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, is claiming the city isn't taking proper care of the obelisk because of the significant erosion of the hieroglyphs, but the article uses photos to show that the monument arrived in NYC in poor shape. And, I agree with you, it was a gift, not looted like the Elgin Marbles from Greece and so many other artifacts from the ancient world.
The atmosphere in NYC probably isn't doing it any favours; Egypt would have the advantage of skipping the yearly freeze-thaw cycle, but the pollution there is at least as bad (though there's less rain). At least the granite will weather it all better than limestone.
I don't know - I fret, I really do. I agree with some repatriation, but Hawass just seems to want every major artifact back. In absolute moral terms, the Egyptian people are probably entitled to have them. The counterarguments about the care of the artifacts, the actual genetic connection between modern Egyptians and ancient Egyptians, and an alleged lack of interest by the public always sound paternalistic to me.
However, I think it would be a shame if there weren't some exceptional artifacts abroad - not only for scholars and students, but in case of some Egyptian catastrophe. Then there are cases like Cleopatra's Needles, which have become important landmarks in their adopted cities.
There is another aspect: where would you draw the line?
Should Italy "return" the horses of Saint Marc (Venice) to Turkey because they we're looted from Byzantium (contemporary Istanbul)? Should museums all over the world return their Dutch masters department to us Dutchies? Should Egypt repay the damage caused by the pharaos in what's now Sudan?
That is a good question. I don't think it entirely lets the western world off the hook for having appropriated bushels of priceless artifacts and art objects (and I don't mean to suggest that's your position at all), but it's worth asking.
In the early 20th century the Canadian government impounded thousands of west coast religious objects, mostly masks, from first nations tribes. Are they being returned? Yes, some of them. Should they be returned? Hell, yes. Should Cleopatra's Needle go back to Egypt? Ech. Leave it where it is.
Indeed, I did not mean to suggest that museums all over the world - but certainly also in the West - wouldn't contain the loot of centuries.
Hell, there are bits and pieces of Egypt still in Rome that were looted by the Principate! Should the Italian government give these back? I agree with Matt: once you start with this path, it becomes a slippery slope.
I know there are some famous examples of statues, etc. that have been carted all over the world, depending on which empire was the highest-status at the time. An obelisk or two? The statues from the Hippodrome?
> 104: Ultimately we would end up with situations like (contemporary) Greece having to reimburse (contemporary) Iran for the damage caused by Alexander the Great. And maybe the international criminal court / war crimes tribunal, here in The Hague, should start finding out what really happened to the Neanderthals.
Moral of the story: History is a bitch, but we all have to play the hand we were dealt.
For things that were swiped more than, say, 100 years ago, I think I agree. I think more recent... acquisitions..? are still up for debate. If you can point at something and say "that was my great-grandmother's, you so-and-so, give it back" - or, worse "that is my great-grandmother, give her back now" then you have a clear case.
Yeah, I agree. These things can get very personal, and with good reason. I do think we need to address these things. But we also need to keep our minds set on "practical".
>106: Exactly, Matt. I mean at a certain point it is just silly. You can even make the argument--given a long enough timeline--that it isn't really even the relatives of the people that are now "responsible" for past crimes. Are the citizens of modern Greece and Iran even that closely related to their ancient "forbears"? After so many successive invasions and so forth in the intervening years, I think this can really be called into question. To me it is almost like holding the US government responsible for warcrimes by the Iroquois Confederacy in the 1500s ;-D
In forming judgements about issues such as this, I always follow the money.
OK, should the Turks return Armenian artefacts to the Armenians in the Diaspora, or should they own them as annexed to the land (that their recent ancestors killed the Armenians on)?
> 111: Well, since currently Turkey doesn't accept the responsibility - in fact the gorvernment there mostly denies it - that's unlikely to happen in the near future. But in a way that's exactly what I mean.
> 110: Okay, in a way that could work too. But just where is the money? Who knows how much Egypt would be willing to fork up to get that obelisk (back).
But, that does draw a very different question: should artefacts be returned to the region they came from, or to the ethnicity that produced them?
Generally these complaints seem a way for governments to win a few nationalist votes cheaply. But it's also a fact that the recipient nations have a habit of holding on like grim death to anything that comes into them. It's a shame that we can't have some generosity on the part of the democratic governments to match the open-handedness of the original donor countries. But sadly, to take an example, Greece's demagoguery on the theme of the 'return' of the marbles makes a hypothetical act of generosity to Greece unlikely.
I agree on the return of objects directly connected to personal ownership. But otherwise, the slippery slope argument makes sense to me, along with the altered ethnicity argument. Also, I support the idea of museums as safeguarding the heritage of humankind, as ethnocentric and non-PC as that may sound.
And while we're at it, let's not go returning any Buddhist relics once found in Afghanistan.
Exactly, Stellar, but Italy really ought to return the Shroud of Turin to Hamas.
But Berlin is an excellent example of why the heritage safeguarding argument is not watertight - so many cultural treasures were lost in the War due to bombing.
Its a very complex argument on both sides. I don't see any easy resolution. I generally oppose the return of things long ago removed to museums, wherever they are, although a part of me would really like to see the Elgin marbles returned to Greece.
Footnote: When I was a kid, I thought the Elgin marbles were real marbles you played with, but then I also misheard Silent Night so I thought it was about a "round young virgin ..."
The return of artifacts is definitely a slippery slope. Looted ones should obviously be returned even if purchased in good faith. Boy George just returned an icon looted from Cyprus (http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jan/20/boy-george-icon-cyprus-church). Descendants of holocaust victims are trying to get art work looted by the Nazi's returned to the families (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/artinfo/jewish-groups-launch-new_b_766921.html).
The problem is in the definition of "looted". Yale University returned artifacts to Peru (http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/nov/21/yale-return-peruvian-artifacts/) that were found by Hiram Bingham III in 1898 and given to the University. The Elgin Marbles were taken during a time of war and sold to the British Museum, which by it's charter is not allowed to give things back. They have used the excuse that there is no proper place to house the frieze in Greece, but that's now moot with a new museum built specifically for that purpose (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/5304133/Greek-government...)
Objects that were legitimate cultural gifts to another country, such as Cleopatra's Needle (which is one of a pair--the other is in London on the banks of the Thames), are in a different category...unless the "gift" was coerced. Life is never black and white, always gray...
What about all the American Civil War flags that were captured in battle and are housed in various northern capitals? I remember reading some time ago that South Carolina (I think) wanted theirs back. It's a complicated issue in that I sympathize that a state would want a treasured piece of their history returned, but on the other hand Union soldiers fought and died to win those flags, too, so who has the higher claim?
The only middle ground in this case, I think, is to give them to the Smithsonian on behalf of the American people.
I think South Carolina should be grateful they were allowed back in the union and not gotten leveled and had their earth salted. I'm just sayin ...
We're in a happy period of history when issues like this are what we worry ourselves about.
So the timeline for the modern human departure from Africa gets more complicated. And potentially earlier:
How about a Hero of ancient engineering... http://io9.com/5742457/the-ancient-greek-hero-who-invented-the-steam-engine-cybe...
I love Hero! Brilliant guy. A lot of his inventions were used by priests to provide "miracles" for the masses...mysteriously opening doors and flying gods.
I am so worried about the Egyptian Museum right now that I feel slightly ill.
I've heard scraps that suggest that the fire from the NDP headquarters could threaten the building, which would be catastrophic, as the fire dept. hasn't been responding to the existing fires.
Then there's the ever-present danger of looting when civil unrest really gets going.
I am cautiously optimistic about a regime change in Egypt - god knows they deserve some justice after all these years - but someone, please protect the papyri.
According to the Star, protesters have formed a human shield around the museum to protect it from looting! Anyone who does that can call themselves a member of my family.
Over here the news has it that, despite protection attempts by civilians, rioters got into the museum, robbing the ticket sales money storage (or something... English vocabulary failure here) and destroying two mummies.
Vandals tore the heads off of two mummies inside the museum before the protective measures were taken, Hawass said.LA Times
Jesus fucking christ. *facepalm*
I know living in an oppressive regime must suck, but can't they take their anger out on like... actually overthrowing the government or something?
Robbing "the ticket sales money storage" I can understand - ready cash! - some of those people are really really dirt poor.
But!.. Ah well, were probably all thinking the same...
This will sound like more Afrocentric b-s, but the people who will probably end up in charge of Egypt, had nothing to do with ancient Egypt. Also, they will have religious reasons to destroy as much of classical Egypt as they can. Why is there so much hand wringing over the long dead, and so little over all the Copts who have been murdered from Thebes (Luxor) to Cairo this past year.
I don't think it was the protesters doing the damage. Most likely they were thugs taking advantage of the situation - although the rumor (on Twitter) is that it was non-uniformed police trying to make the demonstrators look bad.
so little over all the Copts who have been murdered from Thebes (Luxor) to Cairo this past year
In my case: because I wasn't aware of that. Not a great excuse, I grant you. But I agree that's terrible.
Why is there so much hand wringing over the long dead,
Because we are talking about world heritage. Current living people - we have plenty. Yes, I know, that's not a nice thing to say.
this is very worrisome
This is good though, from the articcle Garp cites:
"Before the army arrived, young Egyptians — some armed with truncheons grabbed off the police — created a human chain at the museum's front gate to prevent looters from making off with any of its priceless artifacts."
While hope springs eternal, I am informed by paleontologists that over 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.
Extinction is natural, and is only to be deplored if caused by unnatural, i.e. human, causes. Perhaps this is because we like to think that nature is perpetually in balance and self-correcting. The truth is that given our highly favorable environment, even in deserts, new species are probably coming into existence faster than old ones are becoming extinct. Most of these new species are probably fungi, micro-organisms and arthropods, so we really do not notice them as much as the more complex species. Whatever the cause of the specific extinction, keep in mind that existing, and new, species will immediately replace the newly extinct in that ecological niche.
The deepest hole ever drilled found nearly boiling water filled with bacteria that eat minerals to survive and reproduce.
I agree that people always have to take priority over stuff - totally and entirely. I wouldn't trade anything in there - no, not even the statue of Anubis sitting on Tut's Canopic shrine - for a single Egyptian teen or her future.
It is also on my mind that Egypt's tourism industry is key to its prosperity, and very few German tourists are going to pay $5000 for a Nile tour if they can't come to look at Tut's mask.
However, Egyptians are demanding the intangibles as well as food and housing - freedom, a voice in their own government. For some of us, those artifacts are important, and I am deeply touched to see people caring so much about their history and art that they're protecting it with their own bodies. It's of a piece with the love of country that so many Egyptians have expressed this past week.
And yes, there are people in any country who would sell their own grannies for a dollar - and lots of people in Egypt need that dollar very badly. I find it moving that people are willing to say "this is ours" instead of "this is mine".
I've been in love with ancient Egypt since I was a small child, so you'll have to forgive me a little hand-wringing over the possibilities here. I could also have posted on Egyptian politics, Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian unemployment, the roles of the military and police, etc. etc., which have been preoccupying me greatly, but this is an ancient history group, so artifact talk is what you're going to get. It doesn't mean we don't understand the larger context, too.
>146 I am a bit conflicted on the stuff issue, in the sense that if police/army protection is a limited resource and there are many dangers afoot, how ought that resource be deployed? I have to admit that a big part of me feels that museums and historical artifacts are legitimately a significant priority. Maybe that makes me a cold person. On the other hand, artifacts and heritage can't lift a finger to find a way to safety.
Am I the only one who feel this way? The topic raises uncomfortable but interesting conflicts.
Artifacts and heritage are limited resources too, and - as Cynara pointed out in 146 - very important resources for Egypt.
Doesn't mean I'm cool with seeing contemporary people loosing health or life.
Nor am I... however it just seems like anyone who is looting a freaking museum is simply a thug. And it's not like these guys were carrying off mummies to sell on the black market as a way to make money for their families in a relatively impoverished country; they just seem to breaking in and destroying stuff. I am not okay with this.
Details are still somewhat unclear; there may have been more than one group. Hawass says that some Late Period cases were broken into, which would have to be in addition to the Al Jazeera footage.
An Egyptologist friend of mine Facebooked a link to an interview with a former director of the museum, who said that it was actually some museum guards who were responsible for the thefts and destruction. One report says that some of the jewellery was stolen, which they presumably would have been in the best position to do.
They wouldn't have been blundering around like the (presumably different) group who came in through the skylights and started bashing things up because they couldn't find the gold.
Egyptologists are trying to alert airlines, customs agents, anyone they can, to the likelihood of illegal antiquities being smuggled out of the country.
I have some interesting links on all of this which I'll try to post this evening, when I have Facebook back.
Actually, the SSEA sent me an email with most of the important links:
Discovery describes some looting & countermeasures:
A blogger shows before & after pictures of the smashed artifacts from the Al Jazeera footage:
Also includes links to more info.
The Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities just sent the following out on its email list:
"There has been a major re-organization of the Egyptian government as it relates to antiquities. A new Ministry of Archaeology has been created separate from the Ministry of Culture and Pres. Mubarak has put Zahi Hawass in charge.
Director of the Luxor Museum, Miss Sanaa Aly has said that the museum is closed and the military is guarding the building. She also said the Mr Ibrahim Suliman, director of Karnak temple is safe as is the temple. This comes after reports of an unsuccessful attempt on the temple, immediately stopped by the Army and Community Police.
More expeditions are heading home or reporting in. The dig at Amarna has been shut down and the members of the dig are heading for Cairo. Mark Lehner and the AERA report that they are safe and well. The EES team at Luxor is well and safe, but are unable to work on the West Bank. They are leaving soon. The U. Memphis dig members are all safe.
The Coptic Museum seems to be relatively undamaged after an attempted entry. People are attempting to find out more."
The blog Egyptology News is acting as a clearing-house for breaking stories.
From the Guardian by way of 3 Quarks Daily, what to wear to the revolution. http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2011/01/what-to-wear-in-cairo.html
Dr. Zahi Hawass has been appointed the director of a new department which is charged with protecting all Egypt's museums and monuments. I've posted an update on the what's happening with Egypt's treasures on my blog: http://faithljustice.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/special-history-in-the-news-update...
Here is an article by the Wall Street Journal covers the looting of museums in Egypt.
Not to divert from the Egypt discussion, but I wanted to post this item I hadn't seen before. Apologies if it's old news -
Let's hope they haven't looted/destroyed too much. (Whatever the site turns out to be).
I had tickets and reservations and longstanding plans to be in Philly on Saturday for opening day of the "Secrets of the Silk Road" exhibit featuring three of the Indo-European Tarim mummies and textiles and artifacts associated with them. I've been reading The Tarim Mummies book by Mallory/Mair all week to get ready for it. I just learned that China -- no doubt because of its concerns about ethnic tensions in Xinjiang -- has ordered Penn Museum to pull the exhibit so no mummies or artifacts wil be on display:
When "Secrets of the Silk Road" opens at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on Saturday, much of the show truly will be secret — because no ancient artifacts will be on display following a last-minute request from Chinese officials not to show them. In fact, the decision itself is shrouded in secrecy: A museum spokesperson declined to say why China doesn't want the objects displayed or which officials requested their removal. Yet there is much speculation that at the heart of the matter are three ancient mummies and their connection to ethnic controversies in China."
I try to avoid using bad language on LT but FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This sucks - totally. But (from a distance) I'm pretty sure that the exhibits left will not be available for a long long time. My advice, even though this is - of course - a major bummer : make the most of the opportunity. You might never be able to see those exhibits again..
Aw, well, easy to speak for me, maybe (since it's way out of my reach anyway). I don't really have an answer. But: this might be the only chance you will ever get to see the rest of those exhibits. Is that worth it to you? : ultimately only you can answer that.
BUT: yes, it sucks. And I'm deeply sorry for you. Living on the other side of the Atlantic I wasn't sweetend up like this - but having those exhibits withdrawn at the last stage would enfuriate me too, However: consider if the rest might be worth it.
I am so sorry Garp -- I know how excited you were. I am still going to go at some point in the next few months before the exhibit ends. But I get down to that area fairly often anyway -- I'm from Philly originally -- and the exhibit is at my cherished alma mater.
"Sucks" does seem appropriate.
So sorry Garp, that does suck. Especially since the mummies and artifacts were shown in two other places in the US.
Yep, once again, modern politics have an impact on the study of the ancient world. Shocking.
So the exhibit was awful. Imagine walking through a museum exhibit with giant glass cases filled with ... one-dimensional badly enlarged blurry pictures of an exhibit catalog glued to posterboard. There was zero crowd. I felt bad for the museum; they obviously put a lot into it and they only had a couple of days to try to compensate for the Chinese government-imposed censorship. On the other hand, while they refunded the special exhibit tickets, they still charged for museum admission to ticket holders, which was lame. They also went out of their way to try to "sell" the castrated exhibit as still being "great!" and they went on with all the special events including textile shows, dancing, camels, henna, etc. The camels were really cool, the rest not so much. They should have simply cancelled the whole thing in protest. What a waste. I also was not terribly impressed with the museum overall. It was so old fashioned in many ways and their other exhibits were basically artifacts in glass cases that lacked context. If I wasn't there to explain the stuff to my family, nobody would have understood what any of it meant.
On a more positive note, I did a lot of eating and drinking, and had a great time with my daughter and her boyfriend dancing up a storm at a dual piano bar in Philly.
On another note, try this out for size ... very cool:
take the test ... the chimp beat me
Sorry to hear that about the remnants of the exhibit, Stan. Can't say I'm really surprised though, unfortunately.
Fortunately, they had camels. Camels are fun and smarter than Sarah Palin. So I was entertained.
I used to ride camels. They can be rather nasty when they're in a bad mood. Palin? I'd hate to speculate.
Best novel featuring a camel as a major character: The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macauley. Famous opening sentence: '"Take my camel, dear", said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.'
Lots of Byzantine history too, though not a historical novel - set in early twentieth century Turkey.
I don't know any novels about Sarah Palin, though it certainly seems like a golden opportunity.
Also, observing camels probably can teach you as much if not more about the Early Inner Asians than seeing their mummies. Though it is a shame you couldn't do both.
I've been following the Egyptian turmoil closely in all its aspects, but blogging (http://faithljustice.wordpress.com) on the situation of the museums and monuments. All looked well for quite some time, but Dr. Ziri Hawass posted yesterday that some items were stolen from the museum. Details here: http://www.drhawass.com/blog/sad-news
He detested violence, yet welcomed the cataclysms that flung fresh works of art onto the market. 'Wars, pogroms and revolutions', he used to say, 'offer excellent opportunities for the collector.' --Bruce Chatwin, UtzHope the stuff falls into good hands.
Unfortunately I doubt any of this ends up in the British Museum; they can't even keep their own stuff off the black market these days.
Pretty damn depressing, to me. The thefts, not Chatwin.
It seems that Dr. Hawass is under some pressure after his recent rise to prominence in the Mubarak regime. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/16/scitech/main20032199.shtml
I'm not surprised. Hawass rubbed shoulders with the Mubarak regime for decades - obviously he had no alternative, but he always was a total despot himself.
Ice Age Brits were apparently pretty hungry. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/archaeology/8326115/Ice-age-Britons...
What do you think the Argylls ate in Aden - Arabs?
Captain B.J. Smethwick in a white wine sauce with shallots, mushrooms and garlic
Makifat, that's really in poor taste. I mean, garlic? C'mon, be reasonable.
Maybe you're right. My kids will eat garlic, but they'll never touch the mushrooms.
My kids would always eat that stuff. It was the arms and legs they didn't like.
Speaking of which, I thought the article on Haggis was pretty interesting:
not news i guess, but interesting
The remains of an Ice Age era child have been discovered in Alaska. http://www.adn.com/2011/02/24/1720567/ice-age-childs-remains-found-in.html
#189 - I made the mistake of reading the 'comments' section below it. I should know better by now ... (sigh)
Well, I had skipped the comments, so now I had to go back. (sigh agreed)
OMG why did you have to mention the comments? It truly scares me. The level of anti-science, anti-intellectualism that is in fashion now and is so rampant and so prevalent that it would use the platform of an article about an exciting archaeological/anthropological find to give voice to such nonsense that I ... I can't even articulate it. Time for a beer ... maybe several ...
Great article, and yes the comments are truly sad. I attribute it to the lout factor. Any anonymous lout can leave a comment and feel important by getting a response. Maybe it's called the troll factor. Whatever...
At first I was grateful that you guys had saved me from the precious time and emotional energy those comments would no doubt cost. Then I had to do it. I looked. Only for 30 seconds, but that was enough. Sometimes I want to live on another planet, and study its history instead.
At first I was grateful that you guys had saved me from the precious time and emotional energy those comments would no doubt cost. Then I had to do it. I looked. Only for 30 seconds, but that was enough. Sometimes I want to live on another planet, and study its history instead.
**Bangs head against wall**
Hearing this about the comments makes me not want to look at the article.
>190, 191 Does a no comment filter have to be staged. I don't want to see anyone develop a nervous tick when it comes to the m.using them to be pests to thouse around the enlightened argument of some people.
This also covers strokes triggered by individuals repeating cants of vaguely remembered colour supplements in popular illustrated (aka no words involved.) Bring us the firemen who will rid us of those troublesome books which cause elitism or causing people to think making the to be pests to those around them. All right thinking citezens should help us rid our society of those troublesome books.Was it not Shakespeare who said something likje "First was it burn the books" or was it "First kill all the Lawyers" Oh well it's all the same thing is it not?
Ok I managed to read it without looking at the comments, though I can only imagine to what dumbass extremes they ventured; any finds in North America are always fraught with difficulty because of the whole "respect for natives' remains" deal... as if you can identify someone who died 10k years ago with a specific modern tribe.... sigh.
Oops! Sorry I mentioned the comments, now. I suppose we love to share our suffering. Sorry again.
Yes, rankamateur, I blame you. ; )
I wouldn't have read the comments except you pointed them out. Sigh.... The article was excellent -- though I agree with Feicht that we get rather silly about native peoples when the remains can't be tied to a specific tribe. Better to err on the side of caution, I suppose.
And really, we know the type of idiots who leave comments like those are all around us. Hopefully they don't advocate such stupid points of view when people can identify them. How about we make me leave at least their first name and last initial with their city? Maybe that'd make them think twice.
I mean don't get me wrong... I get the hypersensitivity towards indigenous peoples in the Americas due to the previous...well...genocide and all. And I get that the extant tribes tend to have creation myths which involve their particular tribe being the first people ever in their modern area and whatnot. But you would think in the modern world, people would be able to appreciate the fact that humans have always moved around, and the likelihood that a skeleton found in a given area is in any meaningful way related to the modern people in that area is just laughable. Then again there are still people who are looking for the "Garden of Eden".... so... yeah.
Don't worry. There were also comments that the dating simply had to be off, because that would predate creation ;-)
They do have a point: If the dating does show human remains prior to the origin of the Earth, something does have to be wrong...
It is part of the problem that emphasized the need for more intensive study of the age of the universe. In the 1990s, as many likely are aware, there were stars that were older than the age of the universe as then understood. Huh? This helped to point out that more work was needed. The matter has now be substantially resolved.
But perhaps that is not what the comments were getting at? :)
The earth perhaps crystallized around the remains, which thitherto had orbited in stately solitude about the sun.
What do you think? That little crystals of earth fell from the sun? Of course that would explain the remains being covered with earth.
Thought this was kinda neat:
7,000 year old dog burial in Siberia
Yeah... as an avid dog lover I am always interested in any finds pertaining to dog domestication/origins/etc. Thought this article was interesting to me not just for the dog bit, but also the bit near the end where it talks about the possible implications of early wolf-worship, another passing interest of mine :-)
Do you have any book recommendations regarding wolves as totems or cult objects?
>212 Uncharacteristically, there was one good comment that gave me a laugh:
Simplicio: We are talking one dog here that does not make the Norm. How do we know this isnt a prehistoric
Greyfriars Bobby. A specical case. (sic)
Salviati: Yeah, maybe that's why the headline reads "prehistoric dog" and not "prehistoric dogs?"
AW: Unfortunately none spring to mind; as I said, it is a passing interest, and even that being said, most of what I can recall reading are bits and pieces tacked onto other works, much like in the case of this article!
The news out of Egypt has deteriorated. It seems that major looting is going on outside the cities.
An interesting article on "blood-sweating heavenly horses" from a mausoleum in China.
Central Asian horses or Ferghana horses. Akhal-teke as stated in the article is a modern version, developed by imperial Russians. It would be interesting to see what they find from genetic investigations, whatever they can do at this late date. Valuable find. The immense cultic status of Wu-ti is interesting too.
Thanks MarysGirl + Yes, Anthony -- Feghana horses! According to The Tarim Mummies by Mallory & Mair (p56) which I read proactively prior to my abortive visit to the Penn Museum (as previously discussed) for the Tarim exhibit (that vanished and later reappered at the whim of the Chinese government) the so called "heavenly horses" were in reality "liable to parasitic attacks . . . that cause minor bleeding of the skin and make sweat appear pink." Fascinating stuff!
This is cool:
and more at:
Chinese Road Workers Stumble Across 700-Year-Old MummyPosted by JacobSloan on March 7, 2011
At any given moment, who knows what might be buried right beneath our feet? Perhaps, there’s a still-fresh-faced 700-year-old woman waiting to be found below the pavement. Via the Daily Mail:
The corpse of the high-ranking woman believed to be from the Ming Dynasty – the ruling power in China between 1368 and 1644 – was stumbled across by a team who were looking to expand a street.
And the mummy, which was found in the city of Taizhou, in the Jiangsu Province, along with two other wooden tombs, offers a fascinating insight into life as it was back then.
Discovered two meters below the road surface, the woman’s features – from her head to her shoes – have retained their original condition, and have hardly deteriorated. It was as though she had only recently died.
Her body, which measures 1.5 meters high, was found at the construction site immersed in a brown liquid inside the coffin.
That is totally fascinating. I've come across some info online on the Changsha mummy, but mostly from news sources and tourism sites. Does anyone know a fairly readable source on these Ming mummies?
>222 A friend of mine made it down to Philly once the mummies reappeared. She said it was great. So sorry about your own trip, Garp83. I'm currently on a cheap bus from NYC to DC to hear a lecture by one of my favorite authors Maria Dzielska (Hypatia of Alexandria) at the Polish Embassy. Her book inspired my novel and I have a hundred questions. Hoping the program is in English!
Garp83, wish you could have been there. The program was in English and I had a blast! Professor Dzielska spent most of her speech summarizing her book and updating the research (which was the main question I wanted answered.) Then she spent most of the Q&A refuting all the historical errors in the movie "Agora" (I wrote a three-part "reel vs. real" post about the movie on my blog: http://faithljustice.wordpress.com) I got her to sign my 15-year-old dogeared copy of her book and gave her a copy of mine. Everyone was astonished that I came all the way from NYC to hear her talk. It turns out that her son is the First Secretary of the Embassy and she was visiting from Krakow, so they put this program together to acknowledge International Women's Day on March 8. (Since it's "International", we don't celebrate here in the US!)
At the reception I chatted with a lovely Polish couple who were holocaust survivors; discussed whether Hellenistic philosophy and Christianity are compatible, with a young seminary student; and found the folks who go to all the free Embassy events for the food! Response of one gentleman to my query about how he enjoyed the program: "They really made me work for the food this time."
Coupled with a lovely visit with a writer friend who put me up Tuesday night and provided taxi service to and from the bus depot, I couldn't have asked for a better trip!
Wow Marysgirl -- sounds like a great time. And yes I would have loved that!
Wart Detected on Egyptian Queen Beauty
King Tut's grandmother, the powerful and beautiful Queen Tiye, might have had an unattractive flat wart on her forehead, according to a mummy expert.
Located between the eyes, the small protuberance was found on the mummy of the so-called Elder Lady (KV35EL). Boasting long reddish hair falling across her shoulders, the mummy was identified in February 2010 by DNA testing as Queen Tiye, the daughter of Yuya and Thuya, wife of Amenhotep III, and mother of Akhenaten.
The skin growth had gone unnoticed until Mercedes González, director of the Instituto de Estudios Científicos en Momias in Madrid, spotted it looking at the mummy during a visit to the Cairo Museum.
"I got a high-resolution image of the mummy’s face from the Egyptian museum. From the enlargement, the small growth appears compatible with a flat wart or verruca plana," González told Discovery News
Slightly raised, flat and smooth, these harmless bumps of various colors are hyperplastic epidermal lesions produced by papilloma viruses (HPV). They usually occur on the face, neck and back of hands.
However, flat warts are not commonly found on the face of ancient Egyptian mummies.
"Until now I haven't seen anything similar," González said.
Read the entire article here: http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/king-tut-grandmother-mummy-wart-110322.htm...
There was debate already about the identity of the mummy, now there's even more debate. If it is Queen Tiye, and she had such a blemish on her skin, it's a remarkable find.
This seems a bit complex: the article seems to point both to an attitude that the idea is dead that the Clovis people were North America's first and to resistance to the idea that there were earlier peoples. An 'ongoing story', I suppose.
Right. Clovis can be dead without this being the primary evidence for it. Or Clovis can be in doubt, but so can this particular set of finds. Or Clovis is dead, but this paper is not very good. Or Clovis is in doubt, but let's not run off an say unsubstantiated things. In other words, we've got problems, the thing isn't resolved, work-in-progress as you say rank -- hard to get unanimity of opinion in human prehistory...
A couple of relevant points come out of this body of work -- work that doesn't appear to be deeply controversial and divisive, despite a few of the quotes in the above article:
-A date for N American occupation of ~15,000 BP would predate the so-called "ice free corridor", and lend further support to the coastal path of spread. This notion has gained credibility in recent years.
- The idea of early N American arrival isn't at all new: there has been general acceptance that the Monte Verde site in Chile was indeed pre-Clovis, and was occupied ~14,000 BP. The current findings are in keeping with that date. Other pre-Clovis sites in the US have been found.
- The finding of pre-Clovis spear points in the US that lack the fluted Clovis styling supports that the Clovis point technology evolved in N America from predecessors like the ones found at the Texas site. Prototype fluted points have long been sought in Siberia, without success.
Pretty cool: artifacts associated with H erectus ~1.5 million yBP found in India, only 100,00 years after first similar finds in Africa, pointing to rapid spread:
From The Telegraph (Calcutta):
"New Delhi, March 24: Archaeologists have discovered India’s oldest stone-age tools, up to 1.5 million years old, at a prehistoric site near Chennai. The discovery may change existing ideas about the earliest arrival of human ancestors from Africa into India.
A team of Indian and French archaeologists has used two dating methods to show that the stone hand-axes and cleavers from Attirampakkam are at least 1.07 million years old, and could date as far back as 1.5 million years.
In nearly 12 years of excavation, archaeologists Shanti Pappu and Kumar Akhilesh from the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, Chennai, have found 3,528 artefacts that are similar to the prehistoric tools discovered in western Asia and Africa.
Their findings will appear tomorrow in the US journal Science. The tools fall in a class of artefacts called Acheulian that scientists believe were invented by the Homo erectus —ancestors of modern humans — in Africa about 1.6 million years ago.
“This means that soon after early humans invented the Acheulian tools, they crossed formidable geographical barriers to get to southern Asia,” said Michael Petraglia, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford, who is an expert in Asian prehistoric archaeology but was not associated with the Chennai study.
“The suggestion that this occurred 1.5 million years ago is simply staggering,” he said.
Petraglia himself had earlier been involved in excavating the Hunsgi valley in Karnataka, which has yielded 1.27 million-year-old stone tools, regarded as India’s oldest until now. Although earlier excavations had revealed Acheulian tools at a few sites on the Indian subcontinent, including a two million-year-old site in Pakistan, the dates assigned to the artefacts so far have remained under debate.
Pappu and her colleagues assigned dates to the Attirampakkam tools by analysing traces of certain elements embedded in them and by correlating the archaeological layers excavated at the site with changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.
“We adopted two different dating methods and arrived at consistent results,” Pappu told The Telegraph. “We believe this is the strongest evidence so far for an Acheulian industry in India older than one million years.”
The dating studies were carried out by collaborating geophysicists in French academic institutions. Researchers believe the new dates will have major implications for current ideas about who carried the Acheulian culture into India.
In the past, some researchers had attributed the flow of Acheulian tools into southern Asia and Europe to the Homo heidelbergensis, another ancestor of modern humans but one that appeared long after the Homo erectus. But the 1.5 million year date assigned to the Attirampakkam tools suggests that groups of Homo erectus carried the tool-making culture into India.
“This is important as it implies that a smaller-brained form of hominin was able to cross formidable barriers and adapt to the ecological settings of India,” said Petraglia, who has been an advocate for a long chronology of hominin presence in India.
In an independent research study, Petraglia and his colleagues have analysed Acheulian tools in India that appear to be only 120,000 years old. The two findings suggest that the Acheulian toolmakers inhabited India for 1.4 million years — from 1.5 million years ago to 120,000 years ago.
Archaeological evidence from Jwalapuram, another prehistoric site in India, suggests that modern humans — Homo sapiens — arrived in India in another wave out of Africa at least about 80,000 years ago.
The Attirampakkam site, located near a tributary of the Kortallaiyar river, about 60km northwest of Chennai, was discovered in 1863 by British archaeologist Robert Bruce Foote who launched studies of prehistoric sites in India.
The tools in Attirampakkam suggest that the Homo erectus carried the Acheulian culture into India before the Homo heidelbergensis ferried this tool-making culture into Europe, where the earliest sites are about 600,000 years old, said Robin Dennel, a senior archaeologist at the University of Sheffield, in a special scientific commentary in tomorrow’s issue of Science."
Does "Acheulian tools" equate to "Homo erectus" or did modern humans also make Acheulian tools?
My understanding is that the Acheulian style is most associated with H erectus, but wouldn't things be tidy if it were that simple? The earlier Oldowan industry was thought to have been the work of H habilis, but it appears that very early erectus may have used Oldowan, and then later developed Acheulian, ~ 1.7 million ya. Erectus used these tools throughout its later duration, but the tools became associated with H. heidelbergensis in Europe, up to perhaps 400,000 ya. They are still found well into the Middle Paleolithic, to ~100,000 ya, and so may have been used by early H sapiens. Not by later behaviorally modern humans though, as far as I know, depending on what you mean. (And there are enthusiasts who still enjoy these tools today!) Neanderthal went in another direction, developing the smaller and sharper Mousterian tools.
These tools, the Acheulian, were so widely used, and for so long, that there are many variations and local adaptations. It may be considered more of a basic method of stone toolmaking than one best thought of as part of a particular group or culture.
It must take a lot of subtle observation to be able to identify these tools or tell one style from another. When you say there are enthusiasts who still enjoy these tools today, do these enthusiasts actually make these tools today?
> 236 There are folks like this: http://www.flintknappers.com/ or those who aim more at teaching like http://www.uiowa.edu/~osa/learn/ancient/flint.htm
and academic books like Making Silent Stones Speak, with chapters on experimental artifact manufacture. There are also archeologists who practice the ancient flintknapping arts to understand the process better.
I've given it a whirl once or twice; it's probably safer if you use goggles, but it's easy enough to bash out a few useable flakes if you've been given a few pieces of instruction. I've mostly done it with Egyptian flints.
I don't think I'm going to try it, I have enough trouble sharpening a kitchen knife, but it had not occurred to me that people still practice this art. Intriguing and impressive.
I think it's mostly just done by archaeologists, tryin to get a feel for it. It helps your ability to distinguish man-made from natural brakes.
I always thought that the prodigious quantities of Acheulian style axes found throughout Europe would have some impact upon those who insist the earth is only 6000 years old. I found that I was wrong. After a long back-and-forth, give-and-take discussion with an evangelical, I was told that Satan littered the earth with fossils and the like to mislead us. I then quietly took my ball and went home ...
Sometimes there's nothing you can say. If someone's arguments are that... supernatural, then where do you go for a rebuttal but the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
I usually take solace in the fact that I tend to be better-educated on their holy book than these type of people usually are themselves.
Yeah, that's me. Come to think of it, my literature professor keeps demanding I read the Mephistopheles parts in "Faust" out loud during class...
Nothing wrong with quoting Faust, of course. Neither in the Goethe version nor in Marlowe - or in any other version. It's great literature.
But yes, I've run into people claiming that god put dinosaur fossils into the earth at creation, just to test our faith.
P.s.: Right, that's something like Garp said in #242. Well, at least we heard about a similar "theory" ;-)
This is really cool stuff:
"odorless…with a resilient, tofu-like texture."
For anyone who is interested in bog bodies, The Bog People by P. V. Glob, gives a fairly concise overview. It was written in the 1960s, so it doesn't contain any recent finds, but it is well laid out, and loaded with pictures.
Don't forget this juicy tidbit:
Thanks for the links, Garp83 and stellarexplorer! Fascinating stuff.
What's happening in Libya, pickled bog brain, ancient chemical warfare and much more in my most recent "History in the News" blog post.
You have to feel sorry for urban archaeologists, as London must be running out of ground for reburials by now.
"best archaeological argument ever" :D
Granting that those nails may have been used for a crucifixion -unfortunately those were not that uncommon in Judea of the early centuries CE (two Jewish revolts)-, the reasoning makes about as much sense as expecting an American chief justice getting burried along with an electric chair.
Dude, that article is ridiculous. And will people please stop chiseling random New Testament names into ossuaries? Thank you. I appreciate it.
I was saddened to see that it made discovery.com too. Some people are just too insistent on finding "verifications" for their faith... even though they soundly reject other verifications to the contrary via geology, paleontology, etc.
But you have to agree with the incisive message: there are no other nails in existence that are more likely to be from Jesus' crucifixion than those.
(This passes as scholarship?)
I know practically zilch about burial practices in ancient Judea, but does it seem likely that any articles of importance would be left just lying around the floor of the tomb? Is there any possibility the nails aren't just a random bit of litter or an intrusion dating after the original burials?
burial practices in ancient Judea
It's complicated. Practices varried, both in time and regionally. The whole ossuary thing seems to have been pretty much limited to the Jerusalem area in the second temple period, for instance.
What really makes this thing daft is the fact that Caiaphas, as a (high) priest, would have rendered himself ritually unclean by even touching something associated with a corpse. So much for the alledged talismanic value they could have had for him.
Is there any possibility the nails aren't just a random bit of litter or an intrusion dating after the original burials?
Of course that's possible. But people tended to be more careful with those hand forged nails (no DIY shops around). As far as we know the Romans even reused crucifixion nails as much as possible.
Again, they could possibly indeed be crucifixion nails. But, if so, it is much more likely to have "belonged" to somebody actually burried there.
If you're really interested: try Judahite burial practices and beliefs about the dead and Israel's beneficent dead : Ancestor cult and necromancy in ancient Israelite religion and tradition
This is why it always struck me (though I'm basing this on no scholarship, only assumption) that the Romans would have used rope more often than not for crucifixions. I mean, before the industrial revolution (up to comparatively modern times even) nails were indeed rather expensive to manufacture, so why waste them on murdering non-citizens? I guess nails would hurt more and end up being marginally more gruesome--and what was crucifixion, if not a sort of ancient billboard against disobedience--but even so, a victim would probably die in a similar amount of time, and end up being a bloated, disgusting, maggot infested lump of flesh in a few days no matter how they were hung up there.
Oh, I do think they indeed often used rope. Especially in mass executions. Problem is: that's really hard to trace. Occasionally you might find human bones showing nail damage, but rope damage...
(Certainly no expert on such things, but I have read that the cause of death in cases of crucifixion was probably - usually - slow asphixiation. And I can imagine: tied or nailed to a cross by wrists and ankles, your body would sag foreward and this would make breathing very difficult. Combine that with a burning medditerranean sun: very nasty...).
Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross is interesting, though pretty gruesome.
Yes, that is basically my assumption as well. Obviously it's unlikely one would ever find direct evidence of rope used to crucify someone, but for that matter, it is almost equally as hard to find "hard evidence" that people wore clothing! We obviously know that they did, but it is just as perishable as rope and rarely survives intact, so you see what I'm getting at here ;-)
There is an informal discipline in the medical community in which doctors enjoy discussing -- and sometimes publishing -- on the medical aspects of historical events. There are treatises on the sequence of the various medical consequences of crucifixion (ending, as you say, Matt, with respiratory failure); excursions on from what malady Van Gogh was really suffering; debate on genetic disease of royal families, etc. It's doctors trying to recapture the childhood dream of a career as a historian... you know -- something meaningful.
Evidence indicates that this British girl was stabbed to death with a Roman short sword about 2,000 years ago. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-13211331
#268 Bloody Romans. The only people I hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front ... or is it the People's Front for Judea?
On a more serious note:
Thanks for the links varielle and Garp83! Both interesting articles.
The Celt in me tries to hate the Romans -- but it's pretty hard for me to be sympathetic when they couldn't unite to stave off Roman incursions. Hell, think I'll go have a Guiness and sing a really sad song....
#268 Thanks for the link, very interesting, but what does he mean 'now for the first time' we have evidence of the Romans being violent, am I missing a joke?
Interesting story on the domestication of rice:
Back in 2003 a Korean team claimed to have dated burnt rice to 15,000 years. Sooo, what's up with the discrepancy?
"Remains controversial" is the phrase used in the article. So much to live for, just to see how it all turns out!
;) (*Only slightly ironic death mockery*)
I found a recipe for 2,000 year old rice pudding. No... let me rephrase. I found a recipe that's been used for 2,000 years that produces Rice Pudding if you follow it. And actually, I didn't find it. I found a reference to the guy who found it.
In any case, Rice Pudding is important, isn't it?
Cooking with Kurma
2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
3/4 cup long grained rice, washed and dried
1/2 bay leaf
2 litres milk
1/2 cup ground rock sugar, or raw sugar
1/4 cup currants
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
one pin-head quantity of pure cooking camphor (optional)
1 tablespoon toasted nuts for garnish (dot dot dot)
>277 The discrepancy could come from two areas. First, the Korean sample may have been of wild rice and not domesticated rice which would mean that the dates from both groups are valid. I haven't read the Korean paper to see if they addressed this. The second is that the use of molecular clocks to date anything is fraught with peril. It is easy to start with the same data but get dates that differ by thousands of years depending on how you use the molecular clock. I am an expert in bacterial genetics, not plant genetics, so it is possible that the plant folks have more reliable molecular clocks. However, I generally view molecular clock dates as being very rough estimates.
I wonder what the margin of error is for each measurement. I would doubt the issue is wild versus domesticated rice, as then the author of the second study would have been less likely to see the issue as "a controversy".
I agree the the wild vs domesticated rice is likely to not be the issue. For the molecular clocks the data isn't really a problem. These days reading the sequence of DNA is practically error free. The problem is that for a dating of this type you take the DNA sequences from present day organisms and then use them to build a model of how those sequences changed over time. Slight changes in the assumptions used to build the model can lead to large differences in the results. Unless you can build a time machine and get DNA from the past then there is no way to check those models to really see how accurate they are. The usual method to check the models is to use fossils, but generally that only works for time scales much larger than the 9,000 years that they are claiming in this work.
Reading these posts challenges my past assumptions -- largely based on assertions by Dawkins in The Ancestor's Tale -- that molecular clocks were highly reliable. Dawkins even goes so far in one place, if I recall correctly, to argue that with such molecular clocks fossils are almost superfluous. It sounds like he was exaggerating or I misunderstand his emphasis.
I would be interested in a good article that summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of the molecular clock method, and details where it is most and least reliable.
Stellar -- after you find it and read it, could you write up an abstract for me? I'm feeling intellectually lazy today ...LOL
As with most things involving DNA, the more we learn about it the more complicated things get. Dawkins may have been pushing things a bit, but the concept of molecular clocks used to be considered to be pretty solid. However, we now know that different types of organisms evolve at different rates and there is now evidence that when a population of organisms expands into a new environment their rate of evolution can speed up. There is even controversial evidence in bacteria that when they are under stress they can deliberately speed up their rate of mutations to better adapt to the new situation. It is thought they do this by turning off their DNA repair systems. (Mutations happen shockingly often but all life has extremely effective repair mechanisms.) If the rate of mutations can vary then it really throws the whole idea of a steadily ticking molecular clock right out the window. I'll see if I can find a good review of molecular clocks that isn't too technical.
Interesting. It has always seemed a questionable assumption to me that the rate of mutations has been invariable over time.
Anyway, thanks RG, and any good article you suggest will be appreciated. I am willing to work my way through technical if necessary.
Here are two fairly recent reviews of molecular clocks. The first is short and fairly readable, but it is pretty pessimistic about the technique. The second is more optimistic, but it is a bit longer and more detailed with practical advice about how a scientist should use a molecular clock. I think both of these should be freely available. If not then I can email the articles to you.
Thank you RG. Unfortunately they want $37.50 per article. I'll send you my email address -- much appreciated!
Here's something on a different yet even more fascinating topic: Neanderthal populations that apparently survived far longer than previously supposed.
Odd, because they give 33,000 years ago as the dating of these last Neanderthals. But the Gibraltar finds, while perhaps not absolutely certain, are later ~24,000 years ago:
Also, more conventional final dates have been ~32,000 years ago:
So I am puzzled.
Thanks for the articles, RabidGerbil. Very interesting, and you were right about these being somewhat technical, especially the Pulquerio and Nichols.
Two quick questions: they don't mention variations in DNA repair mechanisms. Is this a potential confounding factor in molecular clocks? Also, I've always wondered about the assumption that mutational/selective forces are invariable over time. One might imagine numerous environmental factors that might make this false (variations in atmospheric ozone, solar output variations, etc). Is this a settled issue?
Remains of Bronze Age battle found: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13469861
(moral: wear a helmet!)
That is fascinating stuff! I did a little digging (well, metaphorically... for now...) and found that they have apparently been making finds related to all this for years, and excavations are planned until at least 2015. There's an article on Der Spiegel's website from 2009 that is kind of along the same lines as this BBC one, actually. http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/0,1518,650639,00.html
Awesome, awesome stuff.
EDIT: I could translate it if someone wants, but I'll have to do some *actual* homework, first ;-D
>296 Those are excellent questions. As far as I know DNA repair mechanisms have only been studied in a few model organisms so we don't know much about how they vary across all life. However, it is thought that such variations are a major reason why different types of organisms evolve at different rates. I think that most scientists using molecular clocks don't worry much about why the evolution rate varies - instead they focus on figuring out what the rate is for the particular group they are studying. Your second point is very relevant. I know scientists in other fields have looked at the variation in environmental factors over time. For example, a lot of work has gone into refining carbon dating which is affected by a variety of factors that could also impact mutation rates. However, I don't think I've ever seen anyone applying this kind of information to molecular clocks. Someone definitely should look into doing this if they haven't already.
Who says archaeology isn't glamourous?
and a short interview with one of the researchers (0:50 on)
When the ref's bad call during a gladiator game, cost a life:
Just put up my round-up of History in the News on my blog. Links to 19 stories. Here's the introduction:
You can’t kick a stone in the Middle East without uncovering an artifact. It’s an archaeologist’s paradise and a diplomat’s nightmare. When it comes to biblical-related stories, there’s always a furor. Does this artifact “prove” Jesus lived or does this inscription substantiate the story of David and Goliath? The past couple of months provided several stories touching on biblical narratives. The trend in returning looted artifacts to their rightful home is continuing with a couple of good news stories. Finally, it’s been thirty years since Indiana Jones made archaeology sexy in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” But Dr. Jones preferred a bull whip and pistol to scientific methods. We’ll see what scientific innovations have evolved since Indy’s time. First story in our lineup: the city of Shekhem; supposedly the final burial site of Joseph of the many-colored coat.
Hope you stop by!
Great summary Marysgirl! I try to follow the Bib. Arch. stuff -- always fascinating. The new(ish) TC Dead Sea Scrolls course by Gary Rendsberg is first-rate!
Thanks, stellarexplorer. I'll have to check out that course when they have their next sale!
2nd century Hercules statue found in Israel. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4109238,00.html
> Was this item discovered by Putin? Just asking since Putin has quite the talent for is kind of thing as witnessed by his discovery of Hellenistic jugs or jars on the Black Sea coast.
Probably. I suspect he was shirtless and on horseback when he found it.
>308, 309: Oh, and the cameras just happened to be there. Come to think of it, he's a politician so the cameras were no coincidence.
I keep thinking of Cleopatra having her divers put fish on the ends of Mark Anthony's lines.
A gladiatorial ampitheatre has been found near Vienna. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/aug/30/archaeologists-uncover-amphitheatr...
Forthcoming punch-up - who do you think will win this time?
Children doing prehistoric cave art:
There doesn't seem to be much comment on the fact that these little kids were a kilometre underground - which is the bit I find most intriguing.
Interesting that it seems to be saying that Y. pestis didn't change so much between outbreaks, we did.
They seem to suggest that some immunity develops in populations over time, but also that this may be due partly to the differential survival of those with a native resistance. This is a striking sentence: "Plague was among the strongest sources of selection on the human population in the last few thousand years".
I remember reading research somewhere that suggested the relatively lower rates of AIDS and other terrible diseases in Europeans may be correlated to the resistance that must have been built up in our DNA during the population bottleneck of the Black Black Death (and its subsequent outbreaks). Not sure if I buy it or not, but it's interesting to think about.
Yeah, plagues and infectious diseases are fascinating things.
There is a counterfactual I like in What if? edited by Robert Cowley. It's by that famous lover of plagues, Wm McNeill. He talks about the the investment of Jerusalem by the Assyrians in 701 BCE. They'd already destroyed the Northern Kingdom, and now were at the doorstep of Judah. But at the last moment, the siege was terminated and the Assyrians departed. McNeill speculates that cholera or another infectious disease may have been responsible. An interesting thing to contemplate is that had the Assyrians successfully continued the campaign and wiped out the remaining bastion of the Israelites, what are the implications? No more Judaism, thus no Christianity or Islam. Different world. Maybe.
#316 - Oops! I was forgetting that my concept of childhood is not the same as that of just a few hundred years ago - let alone thousands and thousands.
ETA - I've often wondered if I'm pretty resistant to Y. pestis - or is it just our better hygiene. Yet another thing I've never got round to reading-up on.
Not terribly ancient since it's only 1,000 years old, but a Viking burial ship has been found in the West Highlands. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-15333852
Well it may not be "ancient", but at least it's not "recent"; that starts at 1453 ;-)
That is cool. I'm assuming she is giving birth with the help of gravity downward in a semi-squatting position. I guess it's possible that it's an aerial view and she's on her back, but I doubt it.
Pish tosh. :-) Maybe it's the earliest if you don't consider Egyptian art "western".
Uh, but maybe I could have said it a different way. Etruscan stuff is also cool! Also, they seem to have given birth in the same posture as ancient Egyptians.
But I think you make a valid point in bringing up Egyptian art.
Cynara -- it didn't occur to me until you said it and you make a great point. Both cultures a pretty cool, I think . . . But I never heard of "pish tosh" before though, LOL
I admit I don't know a ton about what's considered "western". Certainly my high school art history course started with Egyptian art and worked its way up, but you could probably make a good cause for excluding it, with all the African and eastern influences.
Also, if "western" is like "near eastern", "far eastern", and "middle eastern", it's a bit fuzzy. I mean, the ancient near east and the modern middle east is the same place.
A Roman brothel coin found in England. Story here:
Roman cavalry helmet from invasion of Britain has been restored:
>334: Is that a reproduction of the helmet in 333 or the brothel in 332? :-)
I was thinking helmet, but I'm sure some people would enjoy the other.
Hmmm. Which ancient Greek ruin would you like to sponsor with your advertising dollars. Same story different pics.
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