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Royal Armouries prepares its revolutionary Victorian 64-pounder gun for a rare firing

24 Hour Museum - Thu, 2014-09-11 00:00
The Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson is preparing its great Victorian 64-pounder Rifle Muzzle Loading gun for a rare firing later this month.
Categories: General

VIDEO: Leaders make Scotland 'No' vote plea

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-10 23:46
Prime Minister David Cameron has made an impassioned plea to keep Scotland in the Union, saying: "I love my country more than I love my party."
Categories: General

VIDEO: Nominees celebrate Mercury nod

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-10 23:21
Bombay Bicycle Club, Kate Tempest and FKA twigs are among the 12 acts celebrating after being nominated for the 2014 Barclaycard Mercury Prize.
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VIDEO: Scanners reveal Stonehenge secrets

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-10 20:02
Scientists have discovered a hidden complex of archaeological monuments at Stonehenge, challenging the modern impression that it stood in isolation.
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VIDEO: Warning over school leavers' skills

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-10 17:22
Too many courses for school leavers in England are not providing the skills needed to help them find work or go on to further education, Ofsted warns.
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VIDEO: A look inside the Crossrail project

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-10 15:40
BBC London takes an exclusive look inside Crossrail to see how the transport scheme is taking shape.
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Study traces ecological collapse over 6,000 years of Egyptian history

Heritage Daily - Wed, 2014-09-10 12:58
Ancient Egyptian artworks help scientists reconstruct how animal communities changed as climate became drier and human populations grew.

Depictions of animals in ancient Egyptian artifacts have helped scientists assemble a detailed record of the large mammals that lived in the Nile Valley over the past 6,000 years. A new analysis of this record shows that species extinctions, probably caused by a drying climate and growing human population in the region, have made the ecosystem progressively less stable.

The study, published September 8 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that local extinctions of mammal species led to a steady decline in the stability of the animal communities in the Nile Valley. When there were many species in the community, the loss of any one species had relatively little impact on the functioning of the ecosystem, whereas it is now much more sensitive to perturbations, according to first author Justin Yeakel, who worked on the study as a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute.

Around six millennia ago, there were 37 species of large-bodied mammals in Egypt, but only eight species remain today. Among the species recorded in artwork from the late Predynastic Period (before 3100 BC) but no longer found in Egypt are lions, wild dogs, elephants, oryx, hartebeest, and giraffe.

“What was once a rich and diverse mammalian community is very different now,” Yeakel said. “As the number of species declined, one of the primary things that was lost was the ecological redundancy of the system. There were multiple species of gazelles and other small herbivores, which are important because so many different predators prey on them. When there are fewer of those small herbivores, the loss of any one species has a much greater effect on the stability of the system and can lead to additional extinctions.”

The new study is based on records compiled by zoologist Dale Osborne, whose 1998 book The Mammals of Ancient Egypt provides a detailed picture of the region’s historical animal communities based on archaeological and paleontological evidence as well as historical records. “Dale Osborne compiled an incredible database of when species were represented in artwork and how that changed over time. His work allowed us to use ecological modeling techniques to look at the ramifications of those changes,” Yeakel said.

The study had its origins in 2010, when Yeakel visited a Tutankhamun exhibition in San Francisco with coauthor Nathaniel Dominy, then an anthropology professor at UC Santa Cruz and now at Dartmouth. “We were amazed at the artwork and the depictions of animals, and we realized they were recording observations of the natural world. Nate was aware of Dale Osborne’s book, and we started thinking about how we could take advantage of those records,” Yeakel said.

Coauthor Paul Koch, a UCSC paleontologist who studies ancient ecosystems, helped formulate the team’s approach to using the records to look at the ecological ramifications of the changes in species occurrences. Yeakel teamed up with ecological modelers Mathias Pires of the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Lars Rudolf of the University of Bristol, U.K., to do a computational analysis of the dynamics of predator-prey networks in the ancient Egyptian animal communities.

The researchers identified five episodes over the past 6,000 years when dramatic changes occurred in Egypt’s mammalian community, three of which coincided with extreme environmental changes as the climate shifted to more arid conditions. These drying periods also coincided with upheaval in human societies, such as the collapse of the Old Kingdom around 4,000 years ago and the fall of the New Kingdom about 3,000 years ago.

“There were three large pulses of aridification as Egypt went from a wetter to a drier climate, starting with the end of the African Humid Period 5,500 years ago when the monsoons shifted to the south,” Yeakel said. “At the same time, human population densities were increasing, and competition for space along the Nile Valley would have had a large impact on animal populations.”

The most recent major shift in mammalian communities occurred about 100 years ago. The analysis of predator-prey networks showed that species extinctions in the past 150 years had a disproportionately large impact on ecosystem stability. These findings have implications for understanding modern ecosystems, Yeakel said.

“This may be just one example of a larger pattern,” he said. “We see a lot of ecosystems today in which a change in one species produces a big shift in how the ecosystem functions, and that might be a modern phenomenon. We don’t tend to think about what the system was like 10,000 years ago, when there might have been greater redundancy in the community.”

University of California – Santa Cruz

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Categories: General

AUDIO: Abuser: I'm 'lucky' wife stood by me

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-10 12:03
A former domestic abuser says he is "so lucky" his wife of 30 years stood by him.
Categories: General

New Digital Map reveals stunning hidden archaeology of Stonehenge

Heritage Daily - Wed, 2014-09-10 11:03
A vast amount of previously unknown archaeological monuments have been unveiled around Stonehenge as part of an unprecedented digital mapping project that will transform our knowledge of this iconic landscape- including remarkable new findings on the world’s largest ‘super henge’, Durrington Walls.

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, led by the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, is the largest project its kind.

Remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys have discovered hundreds of new features, which now form part of the most detailed archaeological digital map of the Stonehenge landscape ever produced. The surprising results of the survey, unveiled in full at the British Science Festival, include 17 previously unknown ritual monuments dating to the period when Stonehenge achieved its iconic shape. Dozens of burial mounds have been mapped in minute detail, including long barrow (a burial mound dating to before Stonehenge) which revealed a massive timber building, probable used for the ritual inhumation of the dead following a complex sequence of exposure and excarnation (defleshing), and which was finally covered by an earthen mound.

The project has also revealed exciting new, and completely unexpected, information regarding previously known monuments. Among the most significant relate to the Durrington Walls ‘super henge’, situated just a short distance from Stonehenge. This immense ritual monument, probably the largest of its type in the world, has a circumference of over 1.5 kilometers (0.93) miles.

A new survey reveals that this had an early phase when the monument was flanked with a row large posts or tones, perhaps up to three meters high and up to 60 in number, some of which may still survive beneath the massive banks surrounding the monument. Only revealed by the cutting-edge technology used in the project, the survey has added yet another dimension to this vast and mysterious structure.

Novel types of monument were also revealed including massive prehistoric pits, some of which appear to form astronomic alignments, plus new information on hundreds of burial grounds, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman settlements and fields at a level of detail never seen before. Taken together, these results- which will be featured in a major new BBC Two series titled Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath- show that new technology is reshaping how archaeologists understand the landscape of Stonehenge and its development over a period of more than 11,000 years.

In the year marking the centenary of the First World War, the new Stonehenge map even impacts on our knowledge of the momentous event. Surveys have produced detailed maps of the practice trenches dug around Stonehenge to prepare the troops for battle on the western front, as well as maps of RAF/RFC Stonehenge- one of Britain’s first military airbuses used by the Royal Flying Corps between 1917 and 1920.

British project leader Vincent Gaffney, Chair in Landscape Archaeology and Geomatics at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project is unique at a global level. Not only has it revolutionised how archaeologists use new technologies to interpret the past, it has transformed how we understand Stonehenge and its landscape.

‘Despite Stonehenge being the most iconic of all prehistoric monuments and occupying one of the richest archaeological landscapes in the world, much of this landscape in effect remains terra incognita.

‘This project has revealed that the area around Stonehenge is teeming with previously unseen archaeology and that the application of new technology can transform how archaeologists and the wider public understand one of the best-studied landscapes on Earth.

‘New monuments have been revealed, as well as new types of monument that have previously never been seen by archaeologists. All of this information has been placed within a single digital map, which will guide how Stonehenge and its landscape are studied in the future.

‘Stonehenge may never be the same again.’

Professor Wolfgang Neubauer, Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, said: Developing non-invasive methods to document our cultural heritage is one of the greatest challenges of our time and can only be accomplished by adapting the latest technology such as ground-penetrating radar arrays and high-resolution magnetometers. The developments of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro) offer Europe the opportunity to carry out fundamental archaeological research at a scale and precision never previously attempted.

‘No landscape deserves to benefit from a study at this level of detail more than Stonehenge. The terabytes of digital survey data collected, processed and visualised by LBI ArchPro provide the base for the precise mapping of the monuments and archaeological features buried in the subsurface or still visible in the landscape surrounding Stonehenge. After centuries of research, the analysis of all mapped features makes it possible, for the first time, to reconstruct the development of Stonehenge and its landscape through time.’

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham; Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, Vienna and its international partners; University of Bradford; University of St Andrews; University of Nottingham, and the ‘ORBit’ Research Group of the department of Soil Management and the University Ghent, Belgium.

The project operates under the auspices of the National Trust and English Heritage.

Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaeologist for the Avebury and Stonehenge World Heritage Site, said: ‘Using 21st-century techniques, the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes team have transformed our knowledge of this ancient, precious and very special landscape. Their work has revealed a clutch of previously unsuspected sites and monuments showing how much of the story of this world-famous archaeological treasure house remains to be told.’

Dr Heather Sebire of English Heritage, Curator of Stonehenge, said: ‘This is such an exciting project. The surveys will help us form an understanding of possible new sites which have not been recorded before but which will need further investigation.’

 

Contributing Source: University of Birmingham

Header Image Source: WikiPedia

 

 

The post New Digital Map reveals stunning hidden archaeology of Stonehenge appeared first on HeritageDaily - Heritage & Archaeology News.

Categories: General

Massage Made to Measure!

Wessex Archaeology - Wed, 2014-09-10 10:05

From my recent stint in the field (more to follow on that and my other adventures later), I realised just how much an archaeologist’s hands go through when digging out a trench or gully – after just one week digging my muscles ached in areas I never knew existed and I envied the protective calluses on my colleagues hands. I bet that even the best weight lifters and body builders would shrink away in awe of the superior musculature of a weathered archaeologists troweling hand and then of course there’s the mighty ‘Trowel Claw’ which sounds mythically impressive. It’s fair to say that the hands get a beating (or a mattocking?) so imagine the chorus of delight and cheer when the lovely Dr Sarah Bryan of SB Holistic called us to arrange a free hand massage session at our Sheffield office next Friday! 

Sarah got in touch with us when she saw our new member status tweet for the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. We were excited to hear about her fantastic work which combines “made-to-measure, integrated holistic therapeutic massage and aromatherapy” with a person-centred approach. You can find out more about her company SB Holistic here. Feeling envious? Then why not book yourself in and see the other therapies she has to offer!  By Emma Carter
Categories: General

VIDEO: Harry hosts party for Invictus athletes

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-10 09:57
Prince Harry hosts a party to welcome wounded servicemen and women to the UK ahead of the opening ceremony of the inaugural Invictus Games.
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VIDEO: In training with Invictus athletes

BBC test - Wed, 2014-09-10 07:48
The BBC's Disability Affairs Correspondent Nikki Fox meets two of the competitors in the Invictus Games as they train for their events.
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"Lost house" destroyed by 17th century Civil War Royalists found on Nottinghamshire pipeline

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2014-09-10 00:00
Archaeologists will rebury and preserve two stone walls in a dramatic first discovery at Kelham, in Nottinghamshire, during water pipeline work.
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Competition: Win a copy of new Grayson Perry book Playing to the Gallery

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2014-09-10 00:00
Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in its Struggle to be Understood has just been published by Penguin, and we've got a copy to give away to one reader.
Categories: General

In Pictures: Martin Creed's Work No. 204: Half the air in a Given Space entertains Bestival 2014

24 Hour Museum - Wed, 2014-09-10 00:00
Pictures and a video as the former Turner Prize winner's work, filling a space with distinctly red balloons, intrigues the crowds at the hugely popular festival on the Isle of Wight.
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VIDEO: Queen 'won't interfere in Scots poll'

BBC test - Tue, 2014-09-09 23:30
Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the Scottish referendum campaign is "categorically wrong", Buckingham Palace has said.
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VIDEO: Leaders in No vote trip to Scotland

BBC test - Tue, 2014-09-09 23:27
The main UK party leaders are visiting Scotland to campaign against independence, ahead of the referendum.
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VIDEO: Do the English care about Scotland?

BBC test - Tue, 2014-09-09 21:06
Reeta Chakrabarti has been talking to people in Derbyshire about their concerns on the Scottish Independence Referendum and the prospect of losing Scotland.
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VIDEO: Views from a Franco-Scottish town

BBC test - Tue, 2014-09-09 16:43
Scotland and France have a traditional affinity for one another, but despite this, France would prefer a strong United Kingdom.
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VIDEO: Ainslie aiming for America's Cup glory

BBC test - Tue, 2014-09-09 15:33
BBC Sport's Joe Wilson reports on Sir Ben Ainslie's attempts to put together Britain's first winning America's Cup team ahead of the 2017 event.
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