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Volunteers help repair ancient cairn in Ireland

Stonepages - Tue, 2015-05-19 10:53
A group of volunteers has helped to repair a 5,000-year-old burial cairn on one of Northern Ireland's most significant mountains. Around 30 of them trekked to the top of Slieve...
Categories: General

Cahokia's rise and fall linked to river flooding

Stonepages - Tue, 2015-05-19 10:52
At its peak, between around 1050 and 1200 CE, Cahokia - the famous complex of earthen mounds about 500 kilometres southwest of Chicago, USA - wielded economic power and religious...
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VIDEO: Nurses 'shocked' at Chua murders

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-19 09:43
The Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Stepping Hill Hospital, Judith Morris explains that the case had an emotional impact on staff and patients
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JETting Around the Plain

Wessex Archaeology - Tue, 2015-05-19 09:29

Wessex Archaeology (WA) has been supporting the Jon Egging Trust’s (JET) Blue Skies Programme once again this year, providing exciting learning experiences to inspire young people to achieve their full potential. Level one students kicked off their archaeological education with an interactive tour of the WA head office in Salisbury. The day started with an introduction to archaeology and an impressive whiz through the last 900,000 years by Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy, one of our Osteoarchaeologists. The young people then split into groups to explore our environmental archaeology department and artefact processing lab as specialists gave talks and demonstrations on sample sieving, fieldwork, human skeletal remains and coastal & marine archaeology. The highlight of the day was getting hands on with flint tools and learning how to use them under the tuition of Phil Harding.   The following week, the level one students put their knowledge into practice on a visit to Chisenbury Midden, a mound of Iron Age feasting waste on Salisbury Plain, organised by WA and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). Working in groups, the young people had a chance to try excavation techniques and archaeological recording processes. Finds included animal bones, examples of worked and burnt flint, and several pieces of Iron Age pottery. Students were then able to wash their own artefacts and compare them to previous finds from the site.   Students taking part in level two of the Blue Skies Programme took part in a geophysical survey day on Salisbury Plain, organised by WA and DIO and supported by members of Operation Nightingale. The day was themed on WWI and focused on using geophysical survey techniques to reveal information about a complex system of WWI practice trenches, designed to be a replica of the German trench system at the Somme. The young people were trained to use geophysical survey equipment and took part in both magnetometry and resistivity surveys, led by experts from WA and Winchester University. Other activities included comparing rations and kit from WWI to modern equivalents, hearing a soldier’s perspective of frontline warfare, and exploring the extant remains of the practice trenches nearby. The students will celebrate the achievements they have made through the Blue Skies Programme at a presentation ceremony in June, and we look forward to congratulating them then.  By Laura Joyner, Community & Education Officer 
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VIDEO: Church bells upset village harmony

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-19 07:38
The constant chiming of church bells has upset the harmony in one Hertfordshire village.
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VIDEO: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-19 06:30
Scientists are hoping to find a cure for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
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VIDEO: Prince to meet Sinn Fein leader

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-19 06:25
Prince Charles is set to meet the president of Sinn Fein during a visit to the Republic of Ireland.
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VIDEO: New ways to grow food in space

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-19 06:10
A project will see thousands of schoolchildren experiment on seeds that have spent six months on the International Space Station.
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“Eternal flames” of ancient times could spark interest of modern geologists

Heritage Daily - Tue, 2015-05-19 00:17
Gas and oil seeps have been part of religious and cultural practices for thousands of years.

Seeps from which gas and oil escape were formative to many ancient cultures and societies. They gave rise to legends surrounding the Delphi Oracle, Chimaera fires and “eternal flames” that were central to ancient religious practices – from Indonesia and Iran to Italy and Azerbaijan. Modern geologists and oil and gas explorers can learn much by delving into the geomythological stories about the religious and social practices of the Ancient World, writes Giuseppe Etiope of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy. His research is published in the new Springer book Natural Gas Seepage.

“Knowing present-day gas fluxes from a seep and knowing that a seep was active and vigorous two thousand years ago, we can estimate the total amount of gas that has been released to the atmosphere thus far. What can be measured today is probably also valid, at least in terms of orders of magnitude, for the past,” writes Etiope. “Such information may not only be relevant for atmospheric methane budget studies but may also be important for understanding the leaking potential of petroleum systems, whether they are commercial or not.”

Gas-oil seeps have been the source of mythological tales, and many a Biblical and historic event. The observations of ancient naturalists and historians such as Pliny the Elder, who lived two millennia ago, helped to chronicle many of these occurrences, especially in the Mediterranean area. For example, he wrote about Chimaera, a large burning gas seep in modern day Turkey.. In ancient times, the temple of Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire, was built next to it.

Similar “eternal fires” integrated gas and flame emissions into ancient religious practices in many cultures. For instance, the Zoroastrians worshiped the “Pillars of Fire” near modern Baku in Azerbaijan. In Iraq, the Baba Gurgur seep was probably the “burning fiery furnace” into which King Nebuchadnezzar cast the Jews. A legend of ancient Rome reports a stream of crude oil issuing from the ground around 38 BC. It became a meeting spot for the first Roman converts to Christianity, and is now the site for the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The sacred Manggarmas flame in Indonesia, which has been active at least since the 15th century, is still used in an annual Buddhist ceremony.

“Knowing that a certain ‘eternal fire’ observed today was already active in Biblical times indicates that it was not triggered by the recent drilling and production of petroleum,” adds Etiope.

Etiope writes that hydrocarbon seeps also influenced the social and technological development of many ancient populations. It not only contributed to global civilization, but was often the source of wars. The first evidence for petroleum usage comes from Syria, where the Neanderthal used natural bitumen on stone tools some 40,000 years ago.

Springer

Categories: General

Agriculture, declining mobility drove humans’ shift to lighter bones

Heritage Daily - Tue, 2015-05-19 00:11
Modern lifestyles have famously made humans heavier, but, in one particular way, noticeably lighter weight than our hunter-gatherer ancestors: in the bones. Now a new study of the bones of hundreds of humans who lived during the past 33,000 years in Europe finds the rise of agriculture and a corresponding fall in mobility drove the change, rather than urbanization, nutrition or other factors.

The discovery is reported in the early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of May 18. It sheds light, researchers say, on a monumental change that has left modern humans susceptible to osteoporosis, a condition marked by brittle and thinning bones.

At the root of the finding, the researchers say, is the knowledge that putting bones under the “stress” of walking, lifting and running leads them to pack on more calcium and grow stronger.

“There was a lot of evidence that earlier humans had stronger bones and that weight-bearing exercise in modern humans prevents bone loss, but we didn’t know whether the shift to weaker bones over the past 30,000 years or so was driven by the rise in agriculture, diet, urbanization, domestication of the horse or other lifestyle changes,” says Christopher Ruff, Ph.D. , a professor of functional anatomy and evolution at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“By analyzing many arm and leg bone samples from throughout that time span, we found that European humans’ bones grew weaker gradually as they developed and adopted agriculture and settled down to a more sedentary lifestyle, and that moving into cities and other factors had little impact.”

The study was a collaborative effort of researchers from across Europe and the United States that began in 2008. The group focused on Europe because it has many well-studied archeological sites, Ruff says, and because the population has relatively little genetic variation, despite some population movements. That meant that any changes observed could be attributed more to lifestyle than to genetics.

For the study, the researchers took molds of bones from museums’ collections and used a portable X-ray machine to scan them, focusing on two major bones from the legs and one from the arms. “By comparing the lower limbs with the upper limbs, which are little affected by how much walking or running a person does, we could determine whether the changes we saw were due to mobility or to something else, like nutrition,” Ruff says.

When they analyzed the geometry of bones over time, the researchers found a decline in leg bone strength between the Mesolithic era, which began about 10,000 years ago, and the age of the Roman Empire, which began about 2,500 years ago. Arm bone strength, however, remained fairly steady. “The decline continued for thousands of years, suggesting that people had a very long transition from the start of agriculture to a completely settled lifestyle,” Ruff says. “But by the medieval period, bones were about the same strength as they are today.”

Ruff notes that Paleolithic-style bones are still likely achievable, at least for younger humans, if they recreate to some extent the lifestyle of their ancestors, notably doing a lot more walking than their peers. He cites studies of professional athletes that have demonstrated how lifestyle is written in our bones. “The difference in bone strength between a professional tennis player’s arms is about the same as that between us and Paleolithic humans,” he says.

JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE

Categories: General

VIDEO: 'Pay bankers the same as civil servants'

BBC test - Tue, 2015-05-19 00:05
It's time for the competition authorities to get tough on “obscene” levels of pay in the largest businesses, says David Cameron’s former director of strategy.
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The 1,500-year-old recipe that shows how Romans invented the beef burger

24 Hour Museum - Tue, 2015-05-19 00:00
A discovery in a Roman recipe book shows that burgers aren't modern inventions - instead, they're a form of street food that has developed over the centuries.
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Most European men are descended from three Bronze Age forefathers say scientists

24 Hour Museum - Tue, 2015-05-19 00:00
Scientists say they have found evidence that a population surge of males between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago provides evidence that most European men are descended from just three Bronze Age forefathers.
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VIDEO: Parry's earliest works discovered

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-18 22:59
Seventy unpublished works by the renowned composer Sir Hubert Parry have been discovered after decades of being hidden in a family archive.
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VIDEO: Rooney upstaged by photo-posing son

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-18 22:44
Wayne Rooney's son Kai upstages his dad by posing for photographs and signs an autograph for fans.
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VIDEO: Cameron renews NHS funding pledge

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-18 22:32
David Cameron uses his first major speech since the election to underline government plans to expand 7-day services in the NHS in England.
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VIDEO: Did killer nurse fake qualifications?

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-18 22:31
Greater Manchester Police say the investigation which led to Victorino Chua's arrest and conviction was one of the the biggest and most complex it has ever carried out.
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VIDEO: Queen visits RHS Chelsea Flower Show

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-18 19:57
Queen Elizabeth visits the Chelsea Flower show where grandson Harry's children's charity, Sentabale, has an exhibit.
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VIDEO: Police release killer nurse interview

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-18 19:12
A nurse has been found guilty of murdering two patients and poisoning 20 others at a Greater Manchester hospital.
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VIDEO: Inside a 'huge' Man Utd fan's home

BBC test - Mon, 2015-05-18 16:31
The BBC meets Jayendran Subramoney, whose home in Johannesburg, South Africa, is a shrine to Manchester United.
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