General

Gleaming in the Dust – Ancient Antiquities Looted & Sold on International Markets

Heritage Daily - Thu, 2014-09-25 15:17
Gleaming in the Dust is a new audio documentary that reveals the extent to which ancient antiquities are being looted in Egypt and sold on international markets in London, Paris and New York.

Produced by two young documentary-makers, George Richards and Tristan Summerscale, for Square Bracket Productions, Gleaming in the Dust explores the tragedy of how antiquities have been dug out of the desert in post-revolutionary Egypt, smuggled into the West, and sold illegally by well-known auction-houses and antiquities dealers.

Featuring interviews with leading Egyptologists, the Egyptian government, the British Museum, antiquities dealers and lost-art investigators, Gleaming in the Dust uncovers the murky world into which artistic wonders of mankind’s distant past are being lost forever.

After the tumultuous fall of President Mubarak, the short-lived rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the restoration of military rule, Gleaming in the Dust asks whether a combination of the new Egyptian government, academic institutions, and the legitimate international antiquities trade work together to stop the looting of Egypt’s ancient past.

Since the events in Egypt that inspired Gleaming in the Dust, the crisis of antiquities looting has spread far beyond the confines of Egypt – the cultural heritage of the wider Middle East is under grave threat from looting and destruction. The state of civil war now prevailing in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq has opened up these countries’ ancient sites to plundering by thieves and by Islamic extremists who believe they have a religious duty to destroy art belonging to any sect or religion other than their own.

In Syria, entire ancient cities have been destroyed with mechanised diggers and all six World Heritage Sites have suffered damage. Satellite imagery shows ancient sites, many hectares in size, peppered with small holes burrowed into the ground by looters. In Iraq, the Islamic State has systematically destroyed ancient temples and shrines belonging to Shi’a Muslims, Christians and a range of other minorities, including the Yezidis. The Islamic State is also selling Iraqi and Syrian antiquities on the black market in order to finance its military campaign.

This is an issue that continues to afflict the Middle East, and Egypt remains one of the worst affected countries — Gleaming in the Dust tells this story.

Follow George and Tristan on Twitter: @gergis and @trissum.

Categories: General

New evidence of ancient multicellular life sets evolutionary timeline back 60 million years

Heritage Daily - Thu, 2014-09-25 14:23
A Virginia Tech geobiologist with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago – nearly 60 million years before skeletal animals appeared during a huge growth spurt of new life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion.

The discovery published online Wednesday in the journal Nature contradicts several longstanding interpretations of multicellular fossils from at least 600 million years ago.

“This opens up a new door for us to shine some light on the timing and evolutionary steps that were taken by multicellular organisms that would eventually go on to dominate the Earth in a very visible way,” said Shuhai Xiao, a professor of geobiology in the Virginia Tech College of Science. “Fossils similar to these have been interpreted as bacteria, single-cell eukaryotes, algae, and transitional forms related to modern animals such as sponges, sea anemones, or bilaterally symmetrical animals. This paper lets us put aside some of those interpretations.”

In an effort to determine how, why, and when multicellularity arose from single-celled ancestors, Xiao and his collaborators looked at phosphorite rocks from the Doushantuo Formation in central Guizhou Province of South China, recovering three-dimensionally preserved multicellular fossils that showed signs of cell-to-cell adhesion, differentiation, and programmed cell death — qualities of complex multicellular eukaryotes such as animals and plants.

The discovery sheds light on how and when solo cells began to cooperate with other cells to make a single, cohesive life form. The complex multicellularity evident in the fossils is inconsistent with the simpler forms such as bacteria and single-celled life typically expected 600 million years ago.

While some hypotheses can now be discarded, several interpretations may still exist, including the multicellular fossils being transitional forms related to animals or multicellular algae. Xiao said future research will focus on a broader paleontological search to reconstruct the complete life cycle of the fossils.

Xiao earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Beijing University in 1988 and 1991 and his doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1998. He worked for three years at Tulane University before arriving at Virginia Tech in 2003. He is currently active in an editorial role for seven professional publications and has himself published more than 130 papers.

The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biological sciences, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college offers programs in cutting-edge areas including, among others, those in energy and the environment, developmental science across the lifespan, infectious diseases, computational science, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The College of Science is dedicated to fostering a research-intensive environment that promotes scientific inquiry and outreach.

Virginia Tech

Categories: General

VIDEO: Cork cocaine seizure "significant"

BBC test - Thu, 2014-09-25 11:53
Four men are arrested after a tonne of cocaine, thought to be worth £63m, is seized off the south west coast of Ireland.
Categories: General

VIDEO: 'Unlimited holiday policy works'

BBC test - Thu, 2014-09-25 11:48
Media agency boss, Jenny Biggam, welcomes Richard Branson's decision to offer his personal staff as much holiday as they want.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Pothole repairs 'not cost effective'

BBC test - Thu, 2014-09-25 09:31
"Piecemeal and stop-go" investment in England's road system is making cost-effective maintenance difficult, MPs have warned
Categories: General

VIDEO: Disruption damaging pupils' life chances

BBC test - Thu, 2014-09-25 09:25
Poor behaviour in classrooms in England is damaging children's education, according to an Ofsted report.
Categories: General

JCB digs deep for "hugely important" Wedgwood Collection as appeal passes £2.3 million

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2014-09-25 00:00
The construction equipment giant's £100,000 pledge has been matched by a private trust, with Art Fund organisers reporting £1.1 million in donations from the public.
Categories: General

Five artworks from the British Museum's Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2014-09-25 00:00
The British Museum's exhibition on witches opens today. Take a look at cauldrons and pitchforks through artworks going from Goya to Macbeth.
Categories: General

Roman occupiers had comfy boots, granaries and heating in southern Scotland, say experts

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2014-09-25 00:00
A rotted boot found during a dig near Dumfries would have been used by a soldier to patrol 2nd century tribes in Scotland, say archaeologists investigating Carzield Roman Fort.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Brighton teen 'killed in US air strikes'

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-24 23:07
As David Cameron warns the UN that young people from modern societies are being sucked into the conflict in Syria, a mother tells the BBC she believes her son - fighting in Syria - was killed by US air strikes.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Last Mitford sister dies at 94

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-24 22:50
Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, and the last surviving Mitford sister, has died aged 94.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Taxi drivers stage London protest

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-24 21:32
Taxi drivers have staged a protest in central London over a number of issues including regulation, rickshaws, the cycling super highway and smartphone apps.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Miliband defends speech omission

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-24 20:25
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has insisted the economy is "incredibly high" on his list of priorities after forgetting to include it in his conference speech.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Uzi and bolt gun among amnesty haul

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-24 17:13
A submachine gun capable of firing hundreds of rounds a minute has been handed in as part of a police amnesty.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Sturgeon launches SNP leadership bid

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-24 14:57
Nicola Sturgeon has launched her bid to replace Alex Salmond as the leader of the SNP.
Categories: General

Excavation Through a Scheduled Monument

Wessex Archaeology - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:03

Wessex Archaeology has recently completed an excavation through the Scheduled Monument of Car Dyke (Scheduled Monument number 1004923). Wessex was commissioned by Lincolnshire County Council, working with the Heritage Consultancy Team at Mouchel, on a flood alleviation scheme at Keeble Drive, Washingborough. The flood alleviation works will involve laying of new pipes to take surface water runoff away from nearby residential areas.  The scheme presented an excellent opportunity to understand more about Car Dyke, which is thought to have been constructed around AD 125. The Dyke forms an artificial water channel running along the western fen edge from Peterborough to Lincoln; previous archaeological excavations have revealed that the water channel was approximately 15 metres wide at the top and between two to four metres deep, with sloping sides and a flat bottom. The dyke is thought to have been used to control and divert flood waters rather than a canal, with most of it now incorporated into modern drainage systems.  The flood alleviation trenching did not impact on the water channel but did allow us to examine a section through the Dyke’s southern earthen bank. Car Dyke originally had mounds of earth on either side, which would have stood up to 5 m high and up to 20 m wide; remnants of these banks survive as earthworks in fields to the east. Our work demonstrated that the southern bank was formed from dumps of redeposited alluvium capped with clay, and that over 1 m of deposits survive beneath the current ground surface. Most intriguingly the bank appears to be contemporary with a large peat-filled ditch or channel. The peat should provide material for radiocarbon dating and allow us to confirm the assumed date of the construction of Car Dyke. By Andrew Norton 
Categories: General

VIDEO: Lorry driver tells of Calais risks

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-24 07:44
The head of a large UK haulage firm has said the number of illegal immigrants trying to enter the UK is the worst he's ever seen.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Miliband forgets deficit in speech

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-24 07:23
Labour leader Ed Miliband failed to mention immigration or the deficit in his speech because he forgot.
Categories: General

A wiki for the First World War? International Encyclopedia of the Great War to launch online

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2014-09-24 00:00
The latest web project to be launched for the First World War Centenary is a Pan European Encyclopedic wiki featuring international perspectives on the conflict.
Categories: General

"Memory holds the truth": Olga Sviblova on Burning News: Recent Art from Russia at the Hayward Gallery

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2014-09-24 00:00
The Director of Moscow's Multimedia Art Museum says the new exhibition of six young Russian artists, at the Hayward Gallery's Project Space, rewards "a bit of time".
Categories: General
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