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New discovery fills gap in ancient Jerusalem history

DIGGING HISTORY

New discovery fills gap in ancient Jerusalem history

Archaeologists think construction on this ancient building started in the early second century B.C. and continued into the Hasmonean period.

Archaeologists think construction on this ancient building started in the early second century B.C. and continued into the Hasmonean period.  (Israeli Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists have discovered the first ruins of a building from the Hasmonean period in Jerusalem, filling a gap in the ancient city’s history, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.

The building’s remains were uncovered during an extensive dig at the Givati Parking Lot, located in Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhood, the City of David. Excavations over several years at the site have turned up some remarkable finds, including a building from the Second Temple period that may have belonged to Queen Helene, a trove of coins from the Byzantine period, and recently, a 1,700-year-old curse tablet in the ruins of a Roman mansion.

Despite extensive excavations in Jerusalem, IAA archaeologists Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets said there has been an absence of buildings from the Hasmonean period in the city’s archaeological record. Simon Maccabeus founded the Hasmonean dynasty in 140 B.C. This group ruled Judea until 37 B.C., when Herod the Great came into power. [In Photos: The Controversial ‘Tomb of Herod the Great’]

“Apart from several remains of the city’s fortifications that were discovered in different parts of Jerusalem, as well as pottery and other small finds, none of the Hasmonean city’s buildings have been uncovered so far, and this discovery bridges a certain gap in Jerusalem’s settlement sequence,” excavators Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets said in a statement. “The Hasmonean city, which is well-known to us from the historical descriptions that appear in the works of Josephus, has suddenly acquired tangible expression.”

Flavius Josephus recounted Jewish history and the Jewish revolt against the Romans in his first century A.D. books “The Jewish War” and “Antiquities of the Jews.” Some archaeologists have used his texts to guide their work and interpretations. For example, excavators who recently found cooking pots and a lamp in an underground chamber in Jerusalem think these objects could be material evidence of Josephus’ account of famine during the Roman siege of the city.

IAA officials said the Hasmonean building has only come to light in recent months, adding that the structure boasts quite impressive dimensions. It rises 13 feet (4 meters) and covers 688 square feet (64 square meters) with limestone walls more than 3 feet (1 m) thick.

Inside, the excavators found pottery and coins, the latter of which helped them determine the age of the building. IAA researchers think construction on the building began in the early second century B.C. and continued into the Hasmonean period, when the most significant changes were made inside the structure.

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Deep, hidden trench discovered beneath Antarctic glacier

3D-Jakobshavn

Radar that can penetrate ice helped researchers make this 3D map of the bedrock beneath the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland. (Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets)

Ice-penetrating radar has uncovered a previously unknown ice-covered trench, and other detailed terrain, in the bedrock hidden beneath two massive, bluish glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica.

The gaping features were revealed in the first, highly detailed 3D maps of the frozen bedrock the land under Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier and Antarctica’s Byrd Glacier which may help researchers predict how glaciers, ice sheets and sea levels may change in the future.

“Without bed topography, you cannot build a decent ice-sheet model,” lead researcher Prasad Gogineni, director of the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) at the University of Kansas, said in a statement.

For the study, the CReSIS team analyzed survey data, collected from 2006 to 2011, with a NASA device called a multichannel coherent radar depth sounder/imager (MCoRDS/I) that can send radar through ice to map the ground beneath. [See Stunning Photos of Antarctica’s Ice]

Researchers operate MCoRDS/I by sending radar waves down to the glaciers. The radar signals not only reflect off the ice’s surface, but they also bounce off layers within the ice sheet and the bedrock below. Taken together, these signals give researches access to a 3D view of the terrain.

However, even MCoRDS/I faces challenges when mapping bedrock. Warm ice and rough surfaces can weaken and scatter radar waves, the researchers said. To help overcome this challenge, the researchers used a sensitive radar tool that has a large antenna array, and relied on cutting edge signal- and image-processing techniques to remove interference and create a bedrock map.

“We showed that we have the technology to map beds,” Gogineni said.

After analyzing the data in a computer program, the researchers were able to create comprehensive, 3D maps of the terrain under the Jakobshavn and Byrd glaciers.

Interestingly, glaciologists have wanted a detailed map of Jakobshavn Glacier for years. It’s the world’s fastest moving glacier, and it drains about 7.5 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the researchers said.

Byrd Glacier, which also moves faster than average, was previously mapped in the 1970s. Yet, beneath the glacier, the researchers recorded a trench about 1.9 miles below sea level that the old mappers had missed. With the new maps and knowledge of the trench, the researchers revised depth measurements of the bedrock, finding the old depth measurements were off by about a half-mile in some areas.

Future technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), may help create even more detailed maps of bedrock beneath glaciers, the researchers said.

“Improving ice-sheet models means we need even finer resolution,” Gogineni said. “To do this, we need lines flown much closer together, which small UAVs would be well-suited for.”

The study was published in the September issue of the Journal of Glaciology.

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New discovery fills gap in ancient Jerusalem history

hasmonean-walls

Archaeologists think construction on this ancient building started in the early second century B.C. and continued into the Hasmonean period. (Israeli Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists have discovered the first ruins of a building from the Hasmonean period in Jerusalem, filling a gap in the ancient city’s history, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.

The building’s remains were uncovered during an extensive dig at the Givati Parking Lot, located in Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhood, the City of David. Excavations over several years at the site have turned up some remarkable finds, including a building from the Second Temple period that may have belonged to Queen Helene, a trove of coins from the Byzantine period, and recently, a 1,700-year-old curse tablet in the ruins of a Roman mansion.

Despite extensive excavations in Jerusalem, IAA archaeologists Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets said there has been an absence of buildings from the Hasmonean period in the city’s archaeological record. Simon Maccabeus founded the Hasmonean dynasty in 140 B.C. This group ruled Judea until 37 B.C., when Herod the Great came into power. [In Photos: The Controversial ‘Tomb of Herod the Great’]

“Apart from several remains of the city’s fortifications that were discovered in different parts of Jerusalem, as well as pottery and other small finds, none of the Hasmonean city’s buildings have been uncovered so far, and this discovery bridges a certain gap in Jerusalem’s settlement sequence,” excavators Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets said in a statement. “The Hasmonean city, which is well-known to us from the historical descriptions that appear in the works of Josephus, has suddenly acquired tangible expression.”

Flavius Josephus recounted Jewish history and the Jewish revolt against the Romans in his first century A.D. books “The Jewish War” and “Antiquities of the Jews.” Some archaeologists have used his texts to guide their work and interpretations. For example, excavators who recently found cooking pots and a lamp in an underground chamber in Jerusalem think these objects could be material evidence of Josephus’ account of famine during the Roman siege of the city.

IAA officials said the Hasmonean building has only come to light in recent months, adding that the structure boasts quite impressive dimensions. It rises 13 feet (4 meters) and covers 688 square feet (64 square meters) with limestone walls more than 3 feet (1 m) thick.

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Shipwrecks spotted in crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan

rising-sun-wreck

The wreck of the Rising Sun rests in 6-12 feet of water. (Mitch Brown/U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City)

Early spring is apparently a good time to look for shipwrecks in Lake Michigan.

Earlier this month, a helicopter from the Coast Guard’s Air Station in Traverse City, Michigan, was out on a routine patrol over the lake, looking for boats in distress or anything out of the ordinary. It was a calm day; the ice that covered the lake had recently melted, and the water was still very cold, just 38 degrees Fahrenheit — a perfect combination for good visibility.

When Petty Officer Mitch Brown looked out the window of the helicopter, he could spot several century-old shipwrecks in the crystal-blue waters. [See photos of the wrecks from above]

“We usually look for boats that are in the process of sinking,” Lt. Dan Schrader told Live Science. “We try to keep them keep from getting to that point.”

Brown snapped several pictures of the Lake Michigan wrecks with his iPhone. The Coast Guard posted the photos to Facebook, and they quickly went viral.

“We didn’t expect these photos to catch on like they did,” Schrader said. In the last week, he’s gotten calls from reporters as far away as Norway and China.

The photos didn’t reveal any new shipwrecks, but they did offer new views of vessels that sank up to 150 years ago.

For example, the aircrew captured a shot of a 133-foot-long wooden steamer named Rising Sun that ran aground in shallow water just north of Pyramid Point on October 29, 1917, during an early season snowstorm.

Some of Brown’s photos also revealed the 121-foot-long brig James McBride, which was stranded near Sleeping Bear Point during a storm on October 19, 1857, while carrying wood to Chicago.

Both of those ships are located in the Manitou Passage, which was a major shipping area in the heyday of Michigan lumbering, according to the Michigan Underwater Preserve Council (MUPC). Ships sought safety in the waters around the Manitou islands during storms, but clearly not all of them were successful.

The historic wrecks are protected under state law, and divers should know that it is a felony to remove or tamper with artifacts in Michigan’s Great Lakes, according to the MUPC. Anyone who tries to take a porthole, anchor or other object from a wreck could face two years in prison and hefty fines.

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Creepy’ Doodles Emerge From Medieval Text

 

UV LIGHT REVEALS ERASED ADDITIONS TO THE WELSH ‘BLACK BOOK’

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2015

(NEWSER) – Experts have uncovered what LiveScience calls “ghostly” secrets hidden in a medieval manuscript, which happens to be one of the first to reference King Arthur and Merlin. “The Black Book of Carmarthen” was compiled around 1250, but contains poetry, religious verses, and other texts dating as far back as the 9th century. While perusing its old pages with an ultraviolet light, however, experts at the University of Cambridge uncovered additional lines of verse and “quite creepy” ghost-like faces, the Independent reports. High-resolution photos helped researchers get a closer look at what they now think are drawings added to the 54-page tome after its creation. They were perhaps erased by someone named Jaspar Gryffyth, who penned his name in the book now housed at the National Library of Wales.

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“It was a living text that was constantly added to,” but “this man in the 16th century went through the book tidying it up,” researcher Paul Russell tells the BBC. “The owner erased a lot of material from the left, right, top, and bottom margins. Anything he thought was an addition, he got rid of.” As the pages of the book are vellum, or stretched animal skin, Russell says a pumice stone was likely used. “It takes off a slight layer off the surface, but the ink has penetrated a bit further so what we can do is use UV light to bring out that ink.” Researchers were startled to find faces, a drawing of a fish, and what may be a never-before-seen Welsh poem. They’re continuing to search for more. (Another medieval discovery: a cemetery beneath Cambridge.)

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Why do zebras have stripes? It’s not for camouflage

ZebraStripes.jpg

 (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Zebras’ thick, black stripes may have evolved to help these iconic creatures stay cool in the midday African heat, a new study suggests.

Many African animals sport some stripes on their bodies, but none of these patterns contrast as starkly as the zebra’s. Researchers have long struggled to explain the purpose of the zebra’s unique black-and-white coat. Some have suggested that the stripes may help zebras camouflage themselves and escape from lions and other predators; avoid nasty bites from disease-carrying flies; or control body heat by generating small-scale breezes over the zebra’s body when light and dark stripes heat up at different rates.

Still, few scientists have tested these explanations, and many argue that the stripes serve a complex mix of purposes. [See images of plains zebras across southern Africa]

Now, researchers based at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have produced one of the most comprehensive zebra stripe studies yet by examining how 29 different environmental variables influence the stripe styles of plains zebras at 16 different sites from south to central Africa.

The scientists found that the definition of stripes along a zebra’s back most closely correlated with temperature and precipitation in a zebra’s environment, and did not correlate with the prevalence of lions or tsetse flies in the region. These findings suggest that torso stripes may do more to help zebras regulate their body temperature than to avoid predators and tsetse flies, the team reported Jan. 13 in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

“This wall we kept hitting up against was, ‘Well, why do zebra have to have stripes for predation? Other animals have predators, and they don’t have stripes,'” said study co-author Ren Larison, a researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. “And other animals get bitten by flies, and they don’t have stripes, either.”

Other animals also need to regulate body temperature, or thermoregulate, Larison pointed out, but zebras may especially benefit from an extra cooling system because they digest food much less efficiently than other grazers in Africa. As such, zebras need to spend longer periods of time out in the heat of the midday sun, eating more food.

“Zebra have a need to keep foraging throughout the day, which keeps them out in the open more of the time than other animals,” Larison told Live Science. “An additional cooling mechanism could be very useful under these circumstances.”

The team found that the plains zebras with the most-defined torso stripes generally lived in the Northern, equatorial region of their range, whereas those with less-defined torso stripes were more common in the Southern, cooler regions of the range — a finding that supports the thermoregulation explanation.

Still, the researchers have not experimentally tested the theory that black and white stripes may generate small-scale breezes over a zebra’s body, and some researchers don’t think stripes can actually create this effect.

“I don’t think that you would want to have a lot of black hairs along the top of your back if you wanted to try to keep cool,” said Tim Caro, a professor of wildlife biology at the University of California, Davis, who studies zebra stripes but was not involved in the new study. “It’s kind of the last color that you would want.”

Caro said regions with warmer, wetter climates are particularly susceptible to several species of disease-carrying flies other than the tsetse fliesthat the team considered in their study, and that the relationship the researchers found may actually be a function of fly avoidance, not thermoregulation. Flies seem to struggle to recognize striped surfaces, but scientists have not quite figured out why this is, Caro told Live Science.

The study co-authors emphasized that their findings require follow-up research, and that a zebra’s stripes likely serve multiple purposes. For example, stripes on a zebra’s back may help thermoregulate, whereas stripes on the animal’s legs — where zebras are more likely to get bitten by flies — may help them avoid disease-carrying flies other than tsetses, Larison said.

“Really, the striping is kind of extraordinary, so you need something extraordinary to explain it,” Larison said.

The researchers plan to test their thermoregulation hypothesis, either by studying the behavior of air currents over zebra pelts, or by implanting wild zebras with temperature sensors, if they are granted permission to do so, Larison said.

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Ancient Greek drinking game makes a comeback

Ancient Greek drinking game makes a comeback

Kottabos was all about hurling wine. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Greg Kreller,File)

What better place to re-create an ancient drinking game than a college campus? A teacher at West Chester University in Pennsylvania and her students kept up an ancient Greek tradition by playing kottabos, a game that involves hurling one’s wine from a glass onto a target at the center of a room.

Greek men used to gather at symposia to drink, chat, and be entertained, and when they reached the bottom of their wine vessels—called kylixes—they would toss the dregs at the target, LiveScience reports.

(YouTube has some examples.) A variety of targets were used, WhatCulturereports. One was a figurine with a brass disc on top. The disc would land with a victorious ring as it hit the floor.

In other cases, players would throw wine into a saucer to fill it up, or toss wine at a saucer floating in water. Kylixes are a little hard to find these days, so the students used 3D-printed cups instead.

And since this was in a classroom, not a dorm, there was no alcohol involved; instead, students tossed grape juice. The best strategy, it seems, was to put a finger through one of a kylix’s handles and toss the wine out overhead.

“It must have gotten pretty messy,” says assistant professor Heather Sharpe. “By the end of our experiment we had diluted grape juice all over the floor.” (While students investigate the ancient Greek tradition, an icon of the era is in danger.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Ancient Greek Drinking Game Is Reborn

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