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Monday, 18 August 2008

Recent on Archeology

  1. When crocodiles roamed the Arctic
  2. The Ordovician: Life's second big bang
  3. Uncovering Evidence of a Workaday World Along the Nile

When crocodiles roamed the Arctic

  • 18 June 2008
  • Magazine issue 2661

WHEN Ernest Shackleton and his men marched towards the South Pole in December 1908, they came across something entirely unexpected. After scaling the vast Beardmore glacier on the edge of the polar plateau, they found seams of coal amid the snow and ice. They also found impressions of leaves in sandstone boulders nearby and even fossilised wood from a coniferous tree.

The conclusion was extraordinary but inescapable: Antarctica was once warm and forested, conditions that could hardly be more different to the far-below-freezing midsummer weather that forced Shackleton's team to turn back before reaching the pole. How was this possible?

Four years later, Alfred Wegener put forward his theory of continental drift which, it was later realised, could explain the balmy climate: Antarctica had been warmer because it was once much closer to the equator. Even today, some schoolchildren are taught that continental drift accounts for all the evidence for ... source

My comment: I read the whole article. It looks kind of unbelievable to me that the Arctic average temperature in the summer was 32 C. I didn't quite read all of it, but still, the evidences are the bones of reptiles and other animals found in the ice.

The Ordovician: Life's second big bang

  • 11 June 2008
  • James O'Donoghue
  • Magazine issue 2660

JUST over half a billion years ago, evolution hit a purple patch. In the space of a few million years, once-empty seas were suddenly overrun by all manner of newfangled life forms. Animals had arrived on the scene and life on Earth never looked back.

At least, that's what we originally thought the fossil record was telling us. It now turns out that this spectacular event - known as the Cambrian explosion - stuttered to a halt not long after it began. Around 515 million years ago, evolution ran out of steam and the increase in biodiversity went into reverse. For the march of progress to continue, life needed rebooting.

It came in the form of a second explosion of life called the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, a little-heard-of episode which has been the focus of intense scientific interest in recent years. Since discovering hints of it around 20 years .. source

My comment: Forgot the source, but if you take a sentence and google it, you'll find the original article. Couldn't find the full article, so I won't comment it. If someone has it, I'ld be very happy to take a look.

Uncovering Evidence of a Workaday World Along the Nile

Published: July 1, 2008

Archaeologists have long fixed their sights on the grandeur that was ancient Egypt, the pyramids, temples and tombs. Few bothered to dig beneath and beyond the monumental stones for glimpses into the living and working spaces of ordinary Egyptians.

That is changing slowly but steadily. In the last two or three decades, excavations have uncovered urban remains and swept aside the conventional wisdom that the Egypt of the pharaohs, in contrast to Mesopotamia, was somehow a civilization without cities.

“We can now confirm that this was not the case,” said Nadine Moeller, an Egyptologist at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

She described the discovery of a large administration building and seven grain silos buried at the site of an ancient provincial capital on the Upper Nile. The partly preserved round silos, more than 3,500 years old, appear to be the largest storage bins known from early Egypt. Seal impressions and other artifacts associated with commodities put a somewhat older date for the central building, with at least 16 columns.

An official announcement of the discovery was made by Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council for Antiquities in Egypt. He is best known for the more spectacular research on mummies and tombs, but is now promoting greater attention to settlement exploration.

Mark Lehner, an Egyptologist who uncovered remains of settlements for workers who built the pyramids at Giza, said that at Dr. Moeller’s site he inspected layers of sediments showing occupation extending back 5,000 years to the dawn of Egyptian civilization and forward to the early Islamic period in the first millennium A.D. The silos are near temple ruins from about 300 B.C.

“Where there are temples, we are learning, they were surrounded by towns which have usually been overlooked,” Dr. Lehner said.

The site of the recent discovery is at Tell Edfu, halfway between the modern cities of Aswan and Luxor (Thebes in antiquity). For much of Egyptian history, the central government was based in Memphis, in the north, or Thebes. The town at Tell Edfu was an important regional center with close ties to Thebes.

Dr. Moeller and a team of European and Egyptian archaeologists began excavations near the temple there in 2005. They exposed a large courtyard surrounded by mud-brick walls. Underneath the courtyard, they came upon foundations of the first three of the seven silos. From artifacts, the archaeologists dated the silos to the 17th dynasty, 1630 to 1520 B.C.

These storage bins, presumably for barley and emmer wheat, which were used for food and as a medium of exchange, were built of mud brick, with diameters from 18 to 22 feet. If their height was greater than the diameter, as was the usual case, the silos probably stood at least 25 feet tall.

In the last three years, the team excavated the column bases and chambers of what they think was the town’s administrative center. The building layout suggests it may have been part of the governor’s palace, and artifacts mark it as the economic heart of town.

Seal impressions, which established the building’s existence in the 13th dynasty, 1773 to 1650 B.C., indicate their use in identifying different commodities. Some seals showed ornamental patterns of spirals and hieroglyphic symbols belonging to different officials. Archaeologists said this was evidence of the activities in the building like accounting and the opening and sealing of boxes and ceramic jars in the course of business transactions. source

My comment: What I like is that people are making serious digs. I mean, it's nice to have all those monuments, but the stories we create on them are not only one-sided. They are based on way too many assumptions. Maybe now, we'll finally have an Egyptology based on evidences.

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