General

VIDEO: Father's fears for Yazidi family

BBC test - Thu, 2014-08-14 11:22
Thousands of members of the Yazidi sect have fled to Mount Sinjar after the advance of Islamic State militants in the north of the country. Maher Nawaf said he is waiting for news from his family.
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VIDEO: Thieves target WW2 Italian chapel

BBC test - Thu, 2014-08-14 10:50
Thieves remove wooden plaques from Orkney's nissen hut which was converted into a place of worship by prisoners of war.
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AUDIO: 'Most of us know very little about mental illness'

BBC test - Thu, 2014-08-14 10:37
Adrian Strain talks about his son, Martin, who recently took his own life.
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VIDEO: A-level students celebrate results

BBC test - Thu, 2014-08-14 10:21
A-level students at Coleg Gwent in Ebbw Vale tell Hywel Griffith about their A-level results
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Field Archaeologist Intern - Weeks 8: Ditches, ditches and more ditches

Wessex Archaeology - Thu, 2014-08-14 09:43
This week I have been back in South Yorkshire on more of an urban type of site: both rural and urban sites have their advantages and disadvantages so a balance of working between both is good. On Tuesday I graduated from the University of Sheffield, which was slightly unusual hop from commercial archaeology to the ceremony and academia and then back again in a few days. The site is just under a hectare in size and I spent a few days digging slots through a potential boundary ditch for a small settlement and across some outlying field boundaries. Working so closely with such experienced archaeologists has really developed my eye for often indistinct features on site. The site consisted mainly of Iron Age ditches although the archaeological features were obscured in places by modern and geological features which gave us something to think about. I really enjoyed the balance of digging and thinking about the site and its formation and the relationship between the features, both archaeological and geological or modern. Site taphonomy is something we are taught about at university but there really isn’t any substitute to working it out on site. In this respect being an intern has really helped as everyone has been enthusiastic to help me learn as I work in the field. I can’t believe that I’ve completed two of my three months of my internship already!  By Hannah Holbrook  
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VIDEO: Young British Muslims debate Caliphate

BBC test - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:51
BBC Asian Network reporter Catrin Nye has been speaking to young British Muslims from different sects of Islam about their views on the concept of a Caliphate and what it means to them.
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Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter is inspirational at Towner Eastbourne

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:00
The life and work of the remarkable Peggy Angus is celebrated with a fitting exhibition at Towner. Richard Moss enjoys the journey with Angus biographer James Russell.
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The act of finding, rather than carving is celebrated in Morphisisation at APT Gallery

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:00
The gentle art of finding, rather than carving, modelling or moulding is the theme in a group show of sculptural installation at Deptford's APT Gallery.
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Luton Wardown Park Museum attempts Guinness World Record for wearing straw boaters

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:00
Not content with introducing Pharrell Williams to the joys of a straw boater, Wardown Park Museum is celebrating Luton's hat making tradition by attempting a Guinness World Record for mass straw boater wearing.
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Embalming study ‘rewrites’ key chapter in Egyptian history

Heritage Daily - Wed, 2014-08-13 23:53
Researchers from the Universities of York, Macquarie and Oxford have discovered new evidence to suggest that the origins of mummification started in ancient Egypt 1,500 years earlier than previously thought.

The scientific findings of an 11-year study by a researcher in the Department of Archaeology at York, and York’s BioArCh facility, and an Egyptologist from the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, push back the origins of a central and vital facet of ancient Egyptian culture by over a millennium.

Traditional theories on ancient Egyptian mummification suggest that in prehistory — the Late Neolithic and Predynastic periods between c. 4500 and 3100 B.C. — bodies were desiccated naturally through the action of the hot, dry desert sand.

Scientific evidence for the early use of resins in artificial mummification has, until now, been limited to isolated occurrences during the late Old Kingdom (c. 2200 BC). Their use became more apparent during the Middle Kingdom (c. 2000-1600 BC).

But the York, Macquarie and Oxford team identified the presence of complex embalming agents in linen wrappings from bodies in securely provenanced tombs in one of the earliest recorded ancient Egyptian cemeteries at Mostagedda, in the region of Upper Egypt.

“For over a decade I have been intrigued by early and cryptic reports of the methods of wrapping bodies at the Neolithic cemeteries at Badari and Mostagedda,” said Dr Jana Jones of Macquarie University, Sydney.

“In 2002, I examined samples of funerary textiles from these sites that had been sent to various museums in the United Kingdom through the 1930s from Egypt. Microscopic analysis with my colleague Mr Ron Oldfield revealed resins were likely to have been used, but I wasn’t able to confirm my theories, or their full significance, without tapping into my York colleague’s unique knowledge of ancient organic compounds.”

Dr Jones initiated the research and led the study jointly with Dr Stephen Buckley, a Research Fellow at the University of York.

“Such controversial inferences challenge traditional beliefs on the beginnings of mummification,” said Dr Jones. “They could only be proven conclusively through biochemical analysis, which Dr Buckley agreed to undertake after a number of aborted attempts by others. His knowledge includes many organic compounds present in an archaeological context, yet which are often not in the literature or mass spectra libraries.”

Corresponding author on the article, Dr Buckley, used a combination of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and sequential thermal desorption/pyrolysis to identify a pine resin, an aromatic plant extract, a plant gum/sugar, a natural petroleum source, and a plant oil/animal fat in the funerary wrappings.

Predating the earliest scientific evidence by more than a millennium, these embalming agents constitute complex, processed recipes of the same natural products, in similar proportions, as those employed at the zenith of Pharaonic mummification some 3,000 years later.

Dr Buckley, who designed the experimental research and conducted the chemical analyses, said: “The antibacterial properties of some of these ingredients and the localised soft-tissue preservation that they would have afforded lead us to conclude that these represent the very beginnings of experimentation that would evolve into the mummification practice of the Pharaonic period.”

Dr Buckley added: “Having previously led research on embalming agents employed in mummification during Egypt’s Pharaonic period it was notable that the relative abundances of the constituents are typical of those used in mummification throughout much of ancient Egypt’s 3000 year Pharaonic history. Moreover, these resinous recipes applied to the prehistoric linen wrapped bodies contained antibacterial agents, used in the same proportions employed by the Egyptian embalmers when their skill was at its peak, some 2500-3000 years later.”

Professor Thomas Higham, who was responsible for dating the burials at the University of Oxford, said: “This work demonstrates the huge potential of material in museum collections to allow researchers to unearth new information about the archaeological past. Using modern scientific tools our work has helped to illuminate a key aspect of the early history of ancient Egypt.”

“Our ground-breaking results show just what can be achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration between the sciences and the humanities,” said Dr Jones.

University of York – Header Image : WikiPedia

Categories: General

VIDEO: Blind man claims 200mph speed record

BBC test - Wed, 2014-08-13 23:47
A man claims to have broken the blind land speed record by driving a car at more than 200mph (322km/h).
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VIDEO: Lancaster bombers fly in tandem

BBC test - Wed, 2014-08-13 21:33
The last two remaining airworthy Lancaster bombers fly together over Lincolnshire.
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VIDEO: Extinct mammoth 'walks on beach'

BBC test - Wed, 2014-08-13 19:24
A "mammoth" that last walked on the Norfolk coast more than 700,000 years ago returns to the beach.
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VIDEO: Woman cleared over Syria terror cash

BBC test - Wed, 2014-08-13 18:59
A woman accused of trying to smuggle £15,800 worth of euros in her underwear to a Briton fighting in Syria is found not guilty of funding terrorism.
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VIDEO: Lancasters in first tandem flight

BBC test - Wed, 2014-08-13 16:10
Two World War Two Lancaster bombers fly together for the first time in 50 years.
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VIDEO: 'Pauper funerals' on the rise

BBC test - Wed, 2014-08-13 14:08
BBC Newsnight's Katie Razzall has been to Leeds to follow the story of the death of 64-year-old Malcolm Horncastle
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VIDEO: UK squad prepares for Invictus Games

BBC test - Wed, 2014-08-13 14:06
A British Armed Forces team is preparing for the first ever Invictus Games - a series of para-sport events for wounded, injured and sick service personnel.
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Field Archaeologist Intern - Weeks 7: I do like to be beside the seaside!

Wessex Archaeology - Wed, 2014-08-13 13:00

Well not quite, but this week was my first time digging on a sandy site which presented a whole set of challenges that I haven’t encountered before. The site was in rural north Nottinghamshire which was quiet and peaceful giving me a chance to train my eye to see the Roman field boundaries that traversed the area. Trying to trowel straight section edges was difficult as the glorious sunshine dried the sand making it crumbly although I wouldn’t want to complain and make it rain! The site didn’t produce that many finds although I got my first chance to half section some ditch terminals. The site had been stripped of the topsoil by machine which gave an interesting perspective of land use in the area, as opposed the smaller evaluation trenches that I have worked in on other sites. On Tuesday there was an event hosted by Santander who have supported and facilitated the internships for Emma (archives) and I (field).  It was a good opportunity for the interns, Wessex managers, Santander representatives and university coordinators to meet up and celebrate the successes of the internships and identify areas for improvement in the future. It was good to see that the internships have worked well for everyone and to take the time out to talk about the internships as well as the archaeology. By Hannah Holbrook  
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VIDEO: Saturday's Frankie set for Strictly

BBC test - Wed, 2014-08-13 10:36
The Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge is the first celebrity to be confirmed for the next series of Strictly Come Dancing
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Archive Intern Weeks 9 and 10 : Quern baby quern

Wessex Archaeology - Wed, 2014-08-13 10:29

There are three things they don’t tell you when you become an archivist: firstly you will find an array of different sized boxes meeting museum requirements oddly pleasing; secondly having finished neatly arranging finds in said boxes ready for deposition, you will look upon your tidy boxes with Zen-like appreciation; and thirdly, you won’t find the previous two geeky at all. Last week we loaded up the van and made our way down to Leicestershire to deposit the archives I’d been working on and to get a tour! Like all museums/county archives, Leicestershire Museums have a strict set of guidelines on how the finds should be packed and ordered. It was really interesting to see that they have that same approach but on a much bigger scale to the whole of their archaeological archives. On the tour we were shown an extensive collection of quernstones – some of the most complete ones I’ve ever seen, and then some lovely pottery. We were also shown into a very hot, dry and secured room in which they ensure that the metal items held there (such as swords and coins) are kept in exactly the right conditions to ensure the preservation and integrity of the objects. It was especially nice to think that some of the significant finds in the archives we were depositing would be preserved in such excellent conditions. I really liked the organisational approach that Leicestershire Museums have towards their archaeological archives as it unifies all the various projects or finds deposited over the ages into one big amalgamated collection. Speaking of macro and microcosms, the more I learn about environmental sampling the more intriguing it becomes – this may be to do with preparing a box of flots and residues for deposition recently. I especially like seeing the glass bottles filled with delicate pieces of desiccated plant matter and seeds; holding them up to the light makes me feel like some old Victorian botanist. 

And who said the world of archiving was boring? By Emma Carter

    

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