Heritage Daily

Syndicate content
Latest archaeology news, archaeological discoveries from across the globe
Updated: 15 min 40 sec ago

10 bizarre war machines from World War Two

Mon, 2014-11-24 02:16
The Second World War witnessed a leap in technology and weaponry. But there are some bizarre weapons that never quite made it into the wider public knowledge. 1 – Ice Aircraft Carriers “Bergships”

Project Habakkuk was a British plan by Geoffrey Pyke to build aircraft carriers out of pykrete, a mixture of wood pulp and ice. The carriers, nicknamed “bergships” were to operate as landing platforms for aircraft in the war against the German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic.

A small prototype was constructed at Patricia Lake, Alberta, measuring only 60 by 30 feet (18 metres by 9 metres), but the final design was to have a deck 2,000 ft (610 m) long with a hull 40 ft (12 m) thick to withstand torpedo attack.

In December 1943 it was officially concluded that “The large Habbakuk II made of pykrete has been found to be impractical because of the enormous production resources required and technical difficulties involved.”

Bergship – Image Credit : bootjesgek.nl

2 – Goliath tracked mine

The Goliath tracked mine “beetle tank” was a remote controlled demolition vehicle used by the Germans in world war two.

Capable of carrying 60 to 100 kilograms of high explosives, the vehicle was intended for tank demolition, disrupting dense infantry and the demolition of buildings and bridges.

Goliaths were used on all fronts where the Wehrmacht fought, beginning in early 1942. They were used principally by specialized Panzer and combat engineer units.

A total of 7,564 Goliaths were produced, however, as a weapon of war it was not considered a success due to the high unit cost, low speed (just above 6 miles per hour (9.7 km/h) and thin armour which failed to protect the remote bomb from any form of antitank weapons.

British soldiers with captured German Goliath tracked mines – Image Credit : WikiPedia

3 – Bat Bombs

The Bat bomb was an experimental weapon conceived by a Pennsylvania dentist named Lytle S. Adams and developed in the United States.

The bomb was a shell shaped container that held scores of Mexican Free-tailed bats. The bats were attached to small timed incendiary bombs and released from a bomber at dawn.

The concept was, that the bats would roost in buildings and attics, then detonated on the timer to start mass fires in towns and cities.

The program was cancelled by Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King when he heard that it would likely not be combat ready until mid-1945.

Bat Bomb – Image Credit : NWW2M

4 – Fire Balloon Bombs

The fire balloon was a hydrogen balloon launched by the Japanese containing either an antipersonnel bomb or incendiary bomb.

They were designed as a cheap weapon intended to make use of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and drop bombs on American and Canadian cities, forests, and farmland.

The balloons were relatively ineffective as weapons, but their potential for destruction and fires had a potential psychological effect on the American people.

Fire Ballons – Image Credit : WikiPedia

5 – The Bob Semple Tank

Originating out of the need in New Zealand to build military hardware from available materials at the outbreak of WW2, the tank was built from corrugated iron on a tractor.

The tank was designed by New Zealand Minister of Works Bob Semple, but without formal plans or blueprints, it had numerous design flaws and practical difficulties, and was never put into mass production or used in combat.

The first prototype was built on a Caterpillar D8 tractor and equipped with seven Bren machine guns—two in the sides, three facing the front, one in the turret and one at the rear. Due to the lack of armour plate, corrugated (manganese) plating was used in the expectation it would deflect bullets.

The tank design was discarded and converted back to tractors after the tanks attracted public ridicule.

Bob Semple Tank – Image Credit : Huther

6 – Bachem Ba 349

The Bachem Ba 349 Natter was a German point-defence rocked powered interceptor, similar to a surface to-air missile designed by Erich Bachem.

Launched vertically like a V2, the interceptor was mainly controlled remotely and then aimed by the pilot at enemy aircraft where they would jettison the nosecone and fire its armament of rockets.

The pilot and the fuselage containing the rocket-motor would then land using separate parachutes as the Ba 349 had no landing gear.

The only manned vertical take-off flight took place on 1 March 1945 but ended in the death of the test pilot, Lothar Sieber. Only 36 models were manufactured and never saw active conflict.

Bachem Ba 349 – Image Credit : WikiPedia

7 -V-3 cannon

V3 Cannon – Image Credit : WikiPedia

The V3 was a German supergun that worked on the multi-charge principle where secondary propellant charges are fired to add velocity to a projectile.

The gun used multiple propellant charges placed along the barrel’s length and timed to fire as soon as the projectile passed them.

The Nazis planned to use the cannon to bombard London from two large bunkers in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France with a complex of 25 gun tubes in operation by 1 October 1944

The site was put out of commission on 6 July 1944, when bombers of RAF Bomber Command’s 617 Squadron (the famous “Dambusters”) attacked using 5,400-kilogram (11,900 lb) “Tallboy” deep-penetration bombs.

Two similar guns were used to bombard Luxembourg from December 1944 to February 1945.

 

 

 

 

 

8 – Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte Super Tank

The Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte was a German design for a super-heavy tank by Friedrich Krupp AG.

At 1,000 metric tons, the P-1000 would have been over five times as heavy as the Panzer VIII Maus and be the heaviest tank ever built.

It was to be armed with naval artillery and armored with 25 centimetres (10 in) of hardened steel. To compensate for its immense weight, the Ratte would have been equipped with three 1.2 metres (3 ft 11 in) wide treads on each side with a total tread width of 7.2 metres (24 ft).

Hitler became enamored with Grote’s concept and ordered Krupp to begin development on it in 1942, however, Albert Speer canceled the project in 1943 before any were constructed.

Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte – Image Credit : Izoom

 9 – Hafner Rotabuggy

Hafner Rotabuggy – Image Credit : WikiPedia

The Hafner Rotabuggy “Malcolm Rotaplan” was a British experimental aircraft that was essentially a Willys MB army jeep combined with a rotor kite like those found on a gyrokite.

It was designed by Raoul Hafner of the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment and the prototype was built by the R. Malcolm Ltd at White Waltham in 1942.

The Rotabuggy had a 12.4 metres (40 ft 8.2 in) diameter rotor,  a tail fairing and fins, but no rudders. It required two men to pilot the aircraft: one to drive it as an automobile, and one to pilot it in the air using a control column.

Initially it was named the “Blitz Buggy”, but that was soon dropped for the “Rotabuggy”.

The introduction of gliders that could carry vehicles made the Rotabuggy obsolete so the project was eventually cancelled.

10 – Flea Bombs

In 1940, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service bombed China with fleas carrying the bubonic plague.

The plague-infested fleas, bred in labs were spread by low-flying airplanes upon Chinese cities, coastal Ningbo in 1940, and Changde, Hunan Province, in 1941. This military aerial spraying killed thousands of people with bubonic plague epidemics.

During the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials, the accused, such as Major General Kiyashi Kawashima, testified that, in 1941, some 40 members of Unit 731 air-dropped plague-contaminated fleas on Changde.

Contributing Source : WikiPedia

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTARTER THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world. Find out more

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

Caltech geologists discover ancient buried canyon in South Tibet

Sun, 2014-11-23 01:13
A team of researchers from Caltech and the China Earthquake Administration has discovered an ancient, deep canyon buried along the Yarlung Tsangpo River in south Tibet, north of the eastern end of the Himalayas.

The geologists say that the ancient canyon–thousands of feet deep in places–effectively rules out a popular model used to explain how the massive and picturesque gorges of the Himalayas became so steep, so fast.

“I was extremely surprised when my colleagues, Jing Liu-Zeng and Dirk Scherler, showed me the evidence for this canyon in southern Tibet,” says Jean-Philippe Avouac, the Earle C. Anthony Professor of Geology at Caltech. “When I first saw the data, I said, ‘Wow!’ It was amazing to see that the river once cut quite deeply into the Tibetan Plateau because it does not today. That was a big discovery, in my opinion.”

Geologists like Avouac and his colleagues, who are interested in tectonics–the study of the earth’s surface and the way it changes–can use tools such as GPS and seismology to study crustal deformation that is taking place today. But if they are interested in studying changes that occurred millions of years ago, such tools are not useful because the activity has already happened. In those cases, rivers become a main source of information because they leave behind geomorphic signatures that geologists can interrogate to learn about the way those rivers once interacted with the land–helping them to pin down when the land changed and by how much, for example.

“In tectonics, we are always trying to use rivers to say something about uplift,” Avouac says. “In this case, we used a paleocanyon that was carved by a river. It’s a nice example where by recovering the geometry of the bottom of the canyon, we were able to say how much the range has moved up and when it started moving.”

Last year, civil engineers from the China Earthquake Administration collected cores by drilling into the valley floor at five locations along the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Shortly after, former Caltech graduate student Jing Liu-Zeng, who now works for that administration, returned to Caltech as a visiting associate and shared the core data with Avouac and Dirk Scherler, then a postdoc in Avouac’s group. Scherler had previously worked in the far western Himalayas, where the Indus River has cut deeply into the Tibetan Plateau, and immediately recognized that the new data suggested the presence of a paleocanyon.

Liu-Zeng and Scherler analyzed the core data and found that at several locations there were sedimentary conglomerates, rounded gravel and larger rocks cemented together, that are associated with flowing rivers, until a depth of 800 meters or so, at which point the record clearly indicated bedrock. This suggested that the river once carved deeply into the plateau.

To establish when the river switched from incising bedrock to depositing sediments, they measured two isotopes, beryllium-10 and aluminum-26, in the lowest sediment layer. The isotopes are produced when rocks and sediment are exposed to cosmic rays at the surface and decay at different rates once buried, and so allowed the geologists to determine that the paleocanyon started to fill with sediment about 2.5 million years ago.

The researchers’ reconstruction of the former valley floor showed that the slope of the river once increased gradually from the Gangetic Plain to the Tibetan Plateau, with no sudden changes, or knickpoints. Today, the river, like most others in the area, has a steep knickpoint where it meets the Himalayas, at a place known as the Namche Barwa massif. There, the uplift of the mountains is extremely rapid (on the order of 1 centimeter per year, whereas in other areas 5 millimeters per year is more typical) and the river drops by 2 kilometers in elevation as it flows through the famous Tsangpo Gorge, known by some as the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon because it is so deep and long.

Combining the depth and age of the paleocanyon with the geometry of the valley, the geologists surmised that the river existed in this location prior to about 3 million years ago, but at that time, it was not affected by the Himalayas. However, as the Indian and Eurasian plates continued to collide and the mountain range pushed northward, it began impinging on the river. Suddenly, about 2.5 million years ago, a rapidly uplifting section of the mountain range got in the river’s way, damming it, and the canyon subsequently filled with sediment.

“This is the time when the Namche Barwa massif started to rise, and the gorge developed,” says Scherler, one of two lead authors on the paper and now at the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany.

That picture of the river and the Tibetan Plateau, which involves the river incising deeply into the plateau millions of years ago, differs quite a bit from the typically accepted geologic vision. Typically, geologists believe that when rivers start to incise into a plateau, they eat at the edges, slowly making their way into the plateau over time. However, the rivers flowing across the Himalayas all have strong knickpoints and have not incised much at all into the Tibetan Plateau. Therefore, the thought has been that the rapid uplift of the Himalayas has pushed the rivers back, effectively pinning them, so that they have not been able to make their way into the plateau. But that explanation does not work with the newly discovered paleocanyon.

The team’s new hypothesis also rules out a model that has been around for about 15 years, called tectonic aneurysm, which suggests that the rapid uplift seen at the Namche Barwa massif was triggered by intense river incision. In tectonic aneurysm, a river cuts down through the earth’s crust so fast that it causes the crust to heat up, making a nearby mountain range weaker and facilitating uplift.

The model is popular among geologists, and indeed Avouac himself published a modeling paper in 1996 that showed the viability of the mechanism. “But now we have discovered that the river was able to cut into the plateau way before the uplift happened,” Avouac says, “and this shows that the tectonic aneurysm model was actually not at work here. The rapid uplift is not a response to river incision.”

California Institute of Technology

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTARTER THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

Archaeologist leads the first detailed study of human remains at the ancient Egyptian site of Deir el-Medina

Fri, 2014-11-21 23:55
By combining an analysis of written artifacts with a study of skeletal remains, Stanford postdoctoral scholar Anne Austin is creating a detailed picture of care and medicine in the ancient world.

Ancient Egyptian workers in a village that’s now called Deir el-Medina were beneficiaries of what Stanford Egyptologist Anne Austin calls “the earliest documented governmental health care plan.”

The craftsmen who built Egyptian pharaohs’ royal tombs across the Nile from the modern city of Luxor worked under grueling conditions, but they could also take a paid sick day or visit a “clinic” for a free checkup.

Stanford postdoctoral scholar Anne Austin examines the skeletal remains of ancient Egyptians found in the burial sites of Deir el-Medina. (Photo courtesy of Anne Austin)

For decades, Egyptologists have seen evidence of these health care benefits in the well preserved written records from the site, but Austin, a specialist in osteo-archaeology (the study of ancient bones), led the first detailed study of human remains at the site.

A postdoctoral scholar in the Department of History, Austin compared Deir el-Medina’s well-known textual artifacts to physical evidence of health and disease to create a newly comprehensive picture of how Egyptian workers lived.

Austin is continuing her research during her tenure as a fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities.

In skeletal remains that she found in the village’s cemeteries, Austin saw “evidence for state-subsidized health care among these workers, but also significant occupational stress fueled by pressure from the state to work.”

Daily work and payment records corroborate the physical evidence: Deir el-Medina’s men had uniquely comprehensive health care, but sometimes could not take advantage of it.

For example, Austin saw in one mummy evidence of osteomyelitis – inflammation in the bone due to blood-borne infection; the man clearly had been working while this infection was ravaging his body. “The remains suggest that he would have been working during the development of this infection,” Austin said. “Rather than take time off, for whatever reason, he kept going.”

The workers received paid sick leave, as we know from the written records, but they “nonetheless felt pressure to work through illness, perhaps to fulfill tacit obligations to the state to which they owed so much.”

“The more I learn about Egypt, the more similar I think ancient Egyptian society is to modern American society,” Austin said. “Things we consider creations of the modern condition, such as health care and labor strikes, are also visible so far in the past.”

Evidence in the bones

Deir el-Medina, an hour’s climb across the mountainside that looms above Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, housed workers primarily in the 19th and 20th dynasties (1292-1077 BCE). Its heyday is later than the valley’s best-known occupant, Tutankhamun, but contemporaneous with the pharaoh who was arguably Egypt’s greatest, Ramesses II, and his long line of successors.

Deir el-Medina’s skilled workers had considerable engineering knowledge and an uncommon degree of literacy. They left tens of thousands of written records – bills, personal letters, lawsuits and prayers, on shards of clay, stone flakes and scraps of papyrus.

Burial sites at Deir el-Medina were excavated from 1922 to 1951 by the French Egyptologist Bernard Bruyère, but the science of osteology was then in its infancy, and Bruyère left many of the bodies unstudied in their tombs.

Austin found tombs “crowded with bats, rats and mummies” when she visited these tombs in 2012 for her UCLA dissertation research. Many of the mummies were little more than skeletons, allowing Austin to clearly see the state of the people’s health as evidenced in their bones.

In many bodies Austin saw evidence of stress from the hard climb – today it’s a thousand stone steps – from Deir el-Medina to the Valley of the Kings and back again. As Austin found, incidence of arthritis in the knees and ankles of the men at Deir el-Medina was significantly higher than for working populations from other Egyptian cemeteries.

The bones also revealed clues that corroborate other scholars’ findings that severely disabled Egyptians were well cared for.

“I found the remains of a man who died at the age of 19 or 20 and was born without a useful right leg, presumably because of polio or another neuromuscular disorder,” Austin said.

“To work in the royal tombs, which was the entire purpose of the village, he would have had to climb,” Austin said. But in examination of the young man’s skeleton, she saw “no signs of other health issues, or of having lived a hard life. That suggests to me that they found a role for him in this community even though the predominant role, of working in the tombs, could not be met.”

Relating to ancient ideas

Austin’s research into the history of social health care invites larger discussion about how ancient peoples viewed health and disease, as well as the link between affluence and social responsibility.

“A woman named Naunakhte had eight children,” Austin said. “In her will, she chastised and disinherited four of them for neglecting her in her old age.”

“At Deir el-Medina, we see two health care networks happening,” Austin said. “There’s a professional, state-subsidized network so the state can get what it wants – a nice tomb for the king. Parallel to this, there’s a private network of families and friends. And this network has pressure to take care of its members, for fear of public shaming, such as being divorced for neglect or even disinherited.”

Austin finds Egyptians’ ideas about health care particularly compelling and fruitful for discussion because, she argues, their ideas about disease were much like ours.

While the Greeks believed that disease stemmed from an imbalance of bodily fluids, she said, “Egyptians thought about it as a kind of contamination of the body. To get better, instead of balancing yourself, you had to purge yourself of the contaminant.”

For example, a doctor in the medical text known as the Edwin Smith Papyrus treats a patient with an open wound over a broken arm by placing ground ostrich-egg shell in the wound and pronouncing, “Repelled is the enemy that is in the wound; cast out is the evil that is in the blood.”

“It’s very similar to modern germ theory,” Austin said. “It shows an awareness of disease as being external.”

In March, she will return to Deir el-Medina in collaboration with Egyptologist Salima Ikram of the American University in Cairo to study more remains in hope of identifying specific diseases.

“Egypt has a complex civilization, a written tradition and a long history of study,” Austin said. “The further away Egypt is and the more we learn, the more relatable it is and thus the more fascinating it is to me.” Austin and her students will be exploring our broader fascination with Egypt in her winter quarter course, Egyptomania! The Allure of Egypt over the Past 3,500 years.

Stanford University

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTARTER THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

Archaeologists race against time to explore Neanderthal site

Fri, 2014-11-21 23:37
University of Southampton archaeologists are working to save important Palaeolithic remains at a rare Neanderthal site, before they are lost to the forces of nature.

The Baker’s Hole site, at Ebbsfleet in Kent, is Britain’s foremost location for evidence dating back to the time when Britain was being colonised by early Neanderthals, some 250,000 years ago.

But researchers are now facing a race against time to excavate and examine the surviving remains, as erosion, animal burrows and plant roots threaten to damage the site.

The dig is being supported by English Heritage, Natural England and Lafarge Tarmac, who own the land where Baker’s Hole is located – an old chalk quarry next to Ebbsfleet International railway station.

In the latest phase of work, the University of Southampton’s Dr Francis Wenban-Smith has been working to identify where important deposits still survive and to find out what these can still tell us about the period.

Sediment samples were taken to be searched for paleo-environmental remains, such as snail shells and the bones of small mammals, like voles.

“These biological remains can tell us a lot of about the environment early Neanderthals lived in,” says Dr Wenban-Smith. “We can tell if the climate was warm or cold, whether the area was wooded or marshland, and other factors that help us to see the context in which they lived. They can also help date the site accurately.”

“We have one to two years to examine this area and implement a new management plan to ensure its survival, otherwise the remains will be eroded away or otherwise damaged by plants and animals, so it is crucial work like this takes place now.”

Stone tools, mammoth teeth and other fossils such as giant deer, bear and lion, have previously been found at Baker’s Hole.

Sites from this period are rarer than older ones, which date back 400,000 years and are relatively common in the Swanscombe area.

Baker’s Hole is also unusual in being one of the very few non-cave Palaeolithic sites on the national list of protected ancient monuments. It is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest on geological grounds. These protections have ensured its preservation in conjunction with the adjacent development of Ebbsfleet International and the High Speed 1 rail link.

Clare Charlesworth, English Heritage Principal Adviser for Heritage at Risk in the South East, said: “Baker’s Hole archaeological site was added to English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register last year because thick scrub and animal burrowing are endangering this significant archaeological site. Faunal remains are also decaying due to exposure to the elements. This clearance work is a step towards safeguarding this rare landscape for future generations.”

Eleanor Brown, Senior Geologist at Natural England added: “Natural England is delighted to support this important survey on one of Kent’s most important geological sites, which is notified for its rare combination of fossils and sediments with evidence of ancient human activity. The University of Southampton’s survey will provide a vital record of this irreplaceable site and support its conservation in the long-term.”

University of Southampton – Header Image : Levallois flakes from Baker’s Hole – WikiPedia

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTARTER THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

THE – The Heritage Explorer (Magazine) Crowdfunder

Fri, 2014-11-21 18:24
THE- The Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place.

What will we feature?

We have put together a fantastic team of high profile writers, bloggers and explorers from TV, academia and leaders in their professions to contribute with the latest research, discoveries and travel features.

Exploration – Our team of intrepid explorers will be share with you their globetrotting discoveries.

Archaeology – New and detailed articles of the latest excavations undertaken by archaeologists in the field.

History – Discover the latest advances in historical research from the team at Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Travel – Exciting new travel destinations, with first hand advice and local knowledge from our travel bloggers and photographers to help you on your next trip.

Culture – Enlightening stories and articles on cultural traditions and practices throughout history.

Who are we?

Leading the team is our Managing Editor Markus Milligan, who is an established figure in the publishing world, having worked on several large mainstream magazines in politics, heritage, finance, fashion and lifestyle. Markus is also the founder of the London History Group and works closely with a majority of the mainstream heritage and archaeology groups within the UK.

Our writers and contributors range from TV and documentary presenters, famous explorers and historians through to established figures for contributions within each category section of the magazine.

For the last three years we have collectively created and grown the successful news website, HeritageDaily.

This news platform has become one of the largest dedicated communities within the heritage industry with over 80,000 fans alone on Facebook. The website and social assets will further evolve to become the online offering of THE Heritage Explorer and the key marketing tool to promote the printed magazine further. How will the money be spent?

We’re looking to raise £15,000 ($24,500), which would cover most of our production, printing and shipping costs on issue 1. In addition, help us to prepare the marketing and sales platforms to deliver to a world audience.

We are confident, that following the first edition, we can then approach premier advertisers with a viable product and help fund continuous print production going forward along with subscription sales.

The printed magazine will be available on world wide distribution and published quarterly in English, as well as digitally, featuring world-renowned journalists, providing insights and editorials on every issue.

Risks and challenges

We are passionate about the topics we would like to publish and we want to create this magazine for people, who like us, have a passion for the historical and cultural world. As a team we have financed this project ourselves without compensation or investors.

We know that we can deliver pristine quality articles and The HeritageDaily website is evidence to that and our commitment and dedication to making our printed resource a success.

We hope that you will become a part of this great magazine, and help us make it a reality because you also believe strongly in the message of promoting our world heritage and raising awareness of historical sites and scientific research.

Your support will allow us not only to present a printed magazine, but a publication that becomes a sustainable, entertaining, informative and well respected magazine that opens up new opportunities for growth and jobs within the sector.

Support Us Today – Click Here

 

Categories: General

Prehistoric farming on the ‘roof of the world’

Thu, 2014-11-20 20:23
Animal teeth, bones and plant remains have helped researchers from Cambridge, China and America to pinpoint a date for what could be the earliest sustained human habitation at high altitude.

Archaeological discoveries from the ‘roof of the world’ on the Tibetan Plateau indicate that from 3,600 years ago, crop growing and the raising of livestock was taking place year-round at hitherto unprecedented altitudes.

The findings, published today in Science, demonstrate that across 53 archaeological sites spanning 800 miles, there is evidence of sustained farming and human habitation between 2,500 metres above sea level (8,200ft) and 3,400 metres (11,154ft).

Evidence of an intermittent human presence on the Tibetan Plateau has been dated to at least 20,000 years ago, with the first semi-permanent villages established only 5,200 years ago. The presence of crops and livestock at the altitudes discovered by researchers indicates a more sustained human presence than is needed to merely hunt game at such heights.

This shows the modern-day barley harvest in Qinghai, farmed at a height of 3,000 meters above sea level.

Professor Martin Jones, from Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology, and one of the lead researchers on the project, said: “Until now, when and how humans started to live and farm at such extraordinary heights has remained an open question. Our understanding of sustained habitation above 2-3,000m on the Tibetan Plateau has to date been hampered by the scarcity of archaeological data available.

“But our findings show that not only did these farmer-herders conquer unheard of heights in terms of raising livestock and growing crops like barley and millet, but that human expansion into the higher, colder altitudes took place as the continental temperatures were becoming colder.

“Year-round survival at these altitudes must have led to some very challenging conditions indeed – and this poses further, interesting questions for researchers about the adaptation of humans, livestock and crops to life at such dizzying heights.”

Professor Jones hopes more work will now be undertaken to look at genetic resistance in humans to altitude sickness, and genetic response in crop plants in relation to attributes such as grain vernalisation, flowering time response and ultraviolet radiation tolerance – as well as research into the genetic and ethnic identity of the human communities themselves.

Research on the Tibetan Plateau has also raised interesting questions about the timing and introduction of Western crops such as barley and wheat – staples of the so-called ‘Fertile Crescent’. From 4,000-3,600 years ago, this meeting of east and west led to the joining or displacement of traditional North Chinese crops of broomcorn and foxtail millet. The importation of Western cereals enabled human communities to adapt to the harsher conditions of higher altitudes in the Plateau.

In order to ascertain during what period and at what altitude sustained food produced first enabled an enduring human presence, the research group collected artefacts, animal bones and plant remains from 53 sites across the late Yangshao, Majiayao, Qiija, Xindian, Kayue and Nuomuhong cultures.

Cereal grains (foxtail millet, broomcorn millet, barley and wheat) were identified at all 53 sites and animal bones and teeth (from sheep, cattle and pig) were discovered at ten sites. Of the 53 sites, an earlier group (dating from 5,200-3,600 years ago) reached a maximum elevation of 2,527m while a later group of 29 sites (dating from 3,600-2,300 years ago) approached 3,400m in altitude.

Professor Jones believes the Tibetan Plateau research could have wider and further-reaching implications for today’s world in terms of global food security and the possibilities of rebalancing the ‘global diet’; at present heavily, and perhaps unsustainably, swayed in favour of the big three crops of rice, wheat and maize.

He said: “Our current knowledge of agricultural foods emphasises a relatively small number of crops growing in the intensively managed lowlands. The more we learn about the rich ecology of past and present societies, and the wider range of crops they raised in the world’s more challenging environments, the more options we will have for thinking through food security issues in the future.”

University of Cambridge

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTARTER THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

 

Categories: General

Laser from a plane discovers Roman goldmines in Spain

Thu, 2014-11-20 15:49
Las Médulas in León is considered to be the largest opencast goldmine of the Roman Empire, but the search for this metal extended many kilometres further south-east to the Erica river valley.

Thanks to a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) laser system attached to an aircraft, the ancient mining works of the area and the complex hydraulics system used by the Romans in the 1st century BC to extract gold (including channels, reservoirs and a double river diversion) have been discovered.

These are ancient goldmines in the Eria river valley, with channels and reservoirs for exploitation. The model generated with LiDAR data (left)

“The volume of earth exploited is much greater than previously thought and the works performed are impressive, having achieved actual river captures, which makes this valley extremely important in the context of Roman mining in the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula,” as Javier Fernández Lozano, geologist at the University of Salamanca and co-author of this study published in the ‘Journal of Archaeological Science’, tells SINC.

The specialists consider that the systems for the transport and storage of water were copied from those already existing in North Africa, where the Egyptians had been employing them for centuries. Some details of the methodology used appear in texts such as those of the Pliny the Elder, the Roman procurator in charge of overseeing mining in Hispania.

“We have established that the labour that went into extracting the resource until its exhaustion was so intensive that after removing the gold from surface sediments, operations continued until reaching the rocks with the auriferous quartz veins underneath,” explains Fernández Lozano.

The researcher stresses that the real discoverer was the LiDAR technology: “Unlike traditional aerial photography, this airborne laser detection system allows the visualisation of archaeological remains under vegetation cover or intensely ploughed areas”.

From aircraft or drones

These are ancient goldmines in the Eria river valley, with channels and reservoirs for exploitation. The model generated allows these structures to be located on aerial photos (right).

LiDAR comprises a laser sensor which scans the ground from an aircraft or drone with geographical references provided by GPS ground stations. The data obtained is represented by point clouds, which are processed with a piece of software to construct a cartographic model where the forms are identified, such as old reservoirs or channels.

This technology was developed by NASA in the sixties to analyse the retreating sea ice in the Arctic and composition of the oceans. Since then their use has been extended to topography, cadastral mapping, geology and archaeology. According to the authors, the study of Roman mining in the Eria valley is the first piece of ‘geo-archaeology’ performed with LiDAR in Spain.

“Our intention is to continue working with this technique to learn more about mineral mining in the Roman Empire and clear up any mysteries such as why Rome abandoned such a precious resource as gold from one day to the next,” concludes the researcher.

FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTARTER THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

Anthropologist uncovers issues of gender inequality in archaeology journals

Thu, 2014-11-20 14:06
On an archaeology field trip in New Mexico as an undergraduate in 2006, Dana Bardolph noticed something that struck her as an odd gender imbalance: The professor leading the dig was a men, while the graduate assistant and all but two of the 14 undergrads were women.

“And it just got me thinking,” Bardolph recalled. “Is this reflective of the profession as a whole, or is it an anomaly?”

The question stayed with her, and four years ago she decided to search for an answer. Her findings — generated after digging through more than 4,500 peer-reviewed papers in 11 archaeology journals covering a 23-year period — are published in a recent issue of the archaeology journal American Antiquity.

Bardolph, a Ph.D. student in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Anthropology, found that female authors are significantly and consistently underrepresented in American archaeology journals. Indeed, although the gender ratio among researchers is roughly equal, in the journals Bardolph surveyed, female authors account for slightly less than 29 percent of articles published.

“I found that there was no significant difference between any of the regions, any of the journals, so it was really a ubiquitous pattern across the study samples,” Bardolph said.

The results, she and researchers familiar with the paper said, have deep implications not just for women in the field but for the direction and substance of archaeology itself. Bardolph argues, based on feminist theory, that the low rates of publication perpetuate a marginalization of female researchers in academia and demonstrate what she called “a pernicious historical bias with regards to the visibility, recognition, presentation and circulation of women’s writing.”

Bardolph’s adviser, Amber VanDerwarker, associate professor of anthropology and director of UCSB’s Integrative Subsistence Laboratory, said the paper has the potential to catalyze a movement toward greater gender equity in publishing and academia. “It is hugely significant because there have been articles here and there that talk about this issue of gender equity in the field,” she said, “and none of the studies has done this much data collection and analysis; this is the first study of this scale looking at publication rates.”

Among the articles surveyed in the major journals, Bardolph found 71.4 percent were lead-authored by men and 28.6 percent by women. The regional journals revealed nearly identical numbers. In addition, the data were consistent over time.

While the data demonstrated a clear gender bias, what they didn’t show is the source, said Bardolph, whose specialty is paleoethnobotany, a study of the relationship between humans and plants in the past.

The journals don’t track submissions by gender, so there’s no way to tell if men are being favored explicitly, she said. Other studies, however, have found that men submit papers far more often than women do, with equal rejection rates among the genders.

Based on her research, Bardolph said she suspects the bias is likely a result of authorial behavior rather than editorial or reviewer bias. Women, she noted, are more likely to take on “nurturing” roles in academia and accept positions in smaller teaching colleges as opposed to large research universities with their more abundant resources.

“When you have grad students you can collaborate with, you publish more than you would if you were doing everything by yourself,” VanDerwarker said. “I spent a few years at a teaching college just struggling to keep up with the publication record.”

Another potential factor Bardolph noted is more subjective: braving the sometimes-brutal journal submission process. The anonymity of peer reviewers occasionally engenders harsh rejections. And archaeology, which has long been dominated by men, is no exception.

“I think it’s highly plausible that the issue of rejection ¾ and whether you do decide to revise and resubmit or discard the manuscript — has a lot to do with confidence issues,” Bardolph said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that was in fact the case, that perhaps women were revising and resubmitting less often than men.”

For Bardolph, getting academia to acknowledge gender bias is just one step on a long road to equality. “People aren’t really realizing this sort of inequality is still pervasive,” she said. “My real goal is to bring awareness to the issue and to inspire people to delve more deeply into their particular subdisciplines and continue this type of research so we can continue to explore why these inequities perpetuate and think about what we can do about them.”

University of California – Santa Barbara

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTARTER THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

Dating of Viking fortress could suggest it belonged to Harald Bluetooth

Tue, 2014-11-18 15:50
In September 2014, archaeologists from the Danish Castle Centre and Aarhus University announced the discovery of a Viking fortress in a field belonging to Vallø Manor, located west of Køge on the east coast of Sealand.

This was the first discovery of its kind in Denmark in over 60 years. Since then, archaeologists have been waiting impatiently for the results of the dating of the fortress.

“When the discovery was published back in September, we were certain that we had found a Viking ring fortress, but since then there have been intense discussions online and amongst archaeologists about whether we were right. Now we know without doubt that we have found a fortress from the 10th century,” says archaeologist Nanna Holm, curator of the Danish Castle Centre.

© Nanna Holm, Danmarks Borgcenter

Two carbon-14 dating results have removed all doubt regarding the authenticity of the Viking fortress. The carbon-14 dating was performed by the AMS 14C Dating Centre at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Aarhus University in close collaboration with Accium BioSciences’ laboratories in Seattle.

“The two samples were both taken from the outermost tree rings of charred logs that were found in the northern gateway of the fortress. The results of the two samples are almost identical: The fortress was built in the period between the year 900 and the beginning of the 11th century,” explains Marie Kanstrup, an employee at the AMS 14C Dating Centre at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University.

Dating is important in determining the role of the fortress in the history of the Viking age

Søren Sindbæk, a professor of medieval archaeology at Aarhus University, explains that archaeologists are still working to date the fortress more precisely.

“We would like to determine a specific year. The carbon-14 method can’t provide that, but we are working on different methods that can help us date the fortress even more precisely.”

“We can’t say whether or not it’s Harald Bluetooth’s fortress yet, but now that we’ve dated it to the 10th century, the trail is getting hotter.

The things we’ve discovered about the fortress during the excavations all point in the same direction. We already know that there’s a good chance that we’ll find conclusive evidence next year,” says Sindbæk.

A structure meant to symbolise power

Even though the excavations have closed for this year, the finds bode well for future efforts. The archaeologists’ investigations have also revealed that the Viking fortress was built right next to the open sea.

“The excavation showed that there was a basin of fresh or brackish water right next to one side of the fortress – presumably a quite narrow inlet leading out to Køge Bay. When the fortress was built, hundreds of tonnes of the heavy clay subsoil would have had to have been dug out into the sea basin,” explains Nanna Holm.

According to Nanna Holm, this work was undertaken for no other reason than to give the fortress an impressive location. The structure was meant to signal power.

North Port : Retail Plan of the excavation around the castle’s north gate . The plan shows the tracks of timber structures from the collapsed port . © Nanna Holm , Danish Castle Centre

The same master builder may be responsible

The excavation has also shown that the construction of the fortress is closely related to other Viking fortresses such as Fyrkat near Hobro, Aggersborg near the Limfjord and Trelleborg near Slagelse. These fortresses were undoubtedly built during the reign of Harald Bluetooth, and still more evidence suggests that Borgring, as the fortress has been named, might have belonged to the same building programme.

“There are a lot of similar details in these structures. And it’s been wonderful to see the same things coming to light at Borgring. In addition to the structure of the rampart and the gates, we have also found traces of a street with wood paving running along the inside of the rampart – just like in Fyrkat, Aggersborg and Trelleborg. The most striking thing, however, is the measurements of the fortress. The rampart of Borgring is 10.6 metres wide. That is exactly the same width as the rampart of Fyrkat. So it’s hard to avoid the sense that the same master builder was responsible,” says Sindbæk.

Aarhus University

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTARTER THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

Climate change was not to blame for the collapse of the Bronze Age

Mon, 2014-11-17 21:43
Scientists will have to find alternative explanations for a huge population collapse in Europe at the end of the Bronze Age as researchers prove definitively that climate change – commonly assumed to be responsible – could not have been the culprit.

Archaeologists and environmental scientists from the University of Bradford, University of Leeds, University College Cork, Ireland (UCC), and Queen’s University Belfast have shown that the changes in climate that scientists believed to coincide with the fall in population in fact occurred at least two generations later.

Their results, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that human activity starts to decline after 900BC, and falls rapidly after 800BC, indicating a population collapse. But the climate records show that colder, wetter conditions didn’t occur until around two generations later.

Fluctuations in levels of human activity through time are reflected by the numbers of radiocarbon dates for a given period. The team used new statistical techniques to analyse more than 2000 radiocarbon dates, taken from hundreds of archaeological sites in Ireland, to pinpoint the precise dates that Europe’s Bronze Age population collapse occurred.

The team then analysed past climate records from peat bogs in Ireland and compared the archaeological data to these climate records to see if the dates tallied. That information was then compared with evidence of climate change across NW Europe between 1200 and 500 BC.

“Our evidence shows definitively that the population decline in this period cannot have been caused by climate change,” says Ian Armit, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Bradford, and lead author of the study.

Graeme Swindles, Associate Professor of Earth System Dynamics at the University of Leeds, added, “We found clear evidence for a rapid change in climate to much wetter conditions, which we were able to precisely pinpoint to 750BC using statistical methods.”

According to Professor Armit, social and economic stress is more likely to be the cause of the sudden and widespread fall in numbers. Communities producing bronze needed to trade over very large distances to obtain copper and tin. Control of these networks enabled the growth of complex, hierarchical societies dominated by a warrior elite. As iron production took over, these networks collapsed, leading to widespread conflict and social collapse. It may be these unstable social conditions, rather than climate change, that led to the population collapse at the end of the Bronze Age.

According to Katharina Becker, Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at UCC, the Late Bronze Age is usually seen as a time of plenty, in contrast to an impoverished Early Iron Age. “Our results show that the rich Bronze Age artefact record does not provide the full picture and that crisis began earlier than previously thought,” she says.

“Although climate change was not directly responsible for the collapse it is likely that the poor climatic conditions would have affected farming,” adds Professor Armit. “This would have been particularly difficult for vulnerable communities, preventing population recovery for several centuries.”

The findings have significance for modern day climate change debates which, argues Professor Armit, are often too quick to link historical climate events with changes in population.

“The impact of climate change on humans is a huge concern today as we monitor rising temperatures globally,” says Professor Armit.

“Often, in examining the past, we are inclined to link evidence of climate change with evidence of population change. Actually, if you have high quality data and apply modern analytical techniques, you get a much clearer picture and start to see the real complexity of human/environment relationships in the past.”

University of Bradford

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTART THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

Ancient DNA sheds light on the origin of Europeans

Mon, 2014-11-17 15:22
Much of the evidence of where the first Europeans came from was originally derived from comparisons of skulls but our work looking at ancient DNA is revealing new insight, with results published this month in Science.

Before we go any further, we need to look at what the skulls were telling us. Over a number of decades from the 1970s the US physical anthropologist William Howells recorded tens of thousands of human skulls held in museum collections across the world.

The patterns identified by Howells established that there were distinct correlations between geography and human biology, which provided insights into our understanding of the population history of the world.

In 1989 Howells included a number of fossil human skulls in this comparison to see if they could shed insights into the understanding of modern human dispersals.

Are the first Australians and Europeans related?

One of the patterns to emerge was that many of the earliest European modern human skulls from the last Ice Age, commonly referred to as the Cro-Magnon people, sat statistically very close to Aboriginal Australians and Papua New Guineans.

Did this reflect a close common origin between the first Europeans and the first Australians? Our research, led by Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen, reveals the answer to this is “not really”.

The genome recovered from an ancient skeleton, from a site known as Kostenki 14, has revealed an important story about the human history of Europe.

The remains there, found in 1954 at Kostenki, in south western Russia, were from a short, dark-skinned man who lived between 38,700 to 36,200 years ago.

It is generally accepted today that multivariate analyses comparing ancient and modern skulls do not necessarily indicate a stronger biological relationship between similarly looking skulls.

Instead it reflects such things as the kinds of patterns that we see in many early modern human fossils that are comparatively large and robust, when compared to later Holocene populations.

The story from ancient DNA is, however, far more complex.

Among the remains from the very ancient Russian, from Kostenki 14, is one of the earliest and most complete modern human skulls from Europe.

In Howells’ original multivariate analysis the skull sat statistically very closely to the first Australians, but his DNA tells a very different story.

Our study shows that Kostenki 14 shared genetic ancestry with hunter-gatherers in Europe, as well as with the early farmers, suggesting that his ancestors interbred with members of the same Middle Eastern population who later turned into farmers and came to Europe themselves.

This lead Eske Willerslev to remark: “Kostenki was already pure European.”

Out of Africa

All modern humans (Russians and Australians included) are derived from an initial migration out of Africa. From the fossil record this seems to have occurred sometime around 100,000 years ago in the Near East, at Skhul and Qafzeh.

This initial Homo sapiens range expansion from Africa was initially thought to have been short-lived, with Homo neanderthalensis returning to South West Asia some 60,000 years ago.

Apart from what his genome tells us about European origins, the Kostenki 14 genome is also fascinating because it contains the genetic record of a period shortly after the ancestors of Europeans hybridised with Neanderthals.

We now know that humans and Neanderthals mixed early in human history, sometime before 45,000 years ago. This is shown by the fact that the genome of Kostenki 14 had slightly more Neanderthal DNA than do Europeans and Asians today, perhaps as much as 1% more.

And his DNA comprises long tracts of Neanderthal DNA, much longer than that found in many non-African people now. In fact the longest of these totals about 3 million base pairs.

After the period of ancient hybridisation, these long DNA sequences start to be broken up by the processes of sexual reproduction. But Kostenki 14 has these well preserved long sequences.

The research team then used the length of these tracts of Neanderthal DNA to better estimate the admixture time of Neanderthals and humans and obtained a date of approximately 54,000 years.

We note that genomic data from a 45,000-year-old modern human from Siberia, which were published during the review process of our study, also shows longer segments of Neanderthal ancestry, further supporting our conclusions.

Because of the divergent position of the Kostenki 14 sample, the team also asked if it contained any fragments of admixed DNA from other previously un-sampled hominins. Interestingly, the distribution of tracts of divergent DNA provides no evidence for other DNA sequences showing evidence of gene flow from other archaic humans.

The sequencing of the genome of Kostenki 14 is a major technical and scientific achievement and illustrates the importance of recovering genomes from ancient remains for understanding the complexity of human origins.

Only when we have entire genomes captured from back in time, as was possible with Kostenki 14, can we better detect and measure important events in the past history of species such as our own.

The Conversation

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER ON KICKSTART THE-Heritage Explorer (Magazine)

Support us in launching a printed magazine that explores the history, archaeology, travel, culture and exploration of the world.

THE Heritage Explorer is an exciting print magazine and publishing business proposal dedicated to delivering you the latest exploration, travel, archaeology, culture and heritage news.

A concept born out of the aspirations of a team of journalists, archaeologists and historians to build a credible and sustainable publishing business that will not only provide the public with entertaining articles and up-to-date research, but also to develop career opportunities for all those involved.

This is not just a magazine, but the opportunity for you to plant the seeds for a real contender in the publishing market place. Find out more

Categories: General

Climate capers of the past 600,000 years

Mon, 2014-11-17 15:11
If you want to see into the future, you have to understand the past. An international consortium of researchers under the auspices of the University of Bonn has drilled deposits on the bed of Lake Van (Eastern Turkey) which provide unique insights into the last 600,000 years.

The samples reveal that the climate has done its fair share of mischief-making in the past. Furthermore, there have been numerous earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The results of the drilling project also provide a basis for assessing the risk of how dangerous natural hazards are for today’s population. In a special edition of the highly regarded publication Quaternary Science Reviews, the scientists have now published their findings in a number of journal articles.

In the sediments of Lake Van, the lighter-colored, lime-containing summer layers are clearly distinguishable from the darker, clay-rich winter layers — also called varves. In 2010, from a floating platform an international consortium of researchers drilled a 220 m deep sediment profile from the lake floor at a water depth of 360 m and analyzed the varves. The samples they recovered are a unique scientific treasure because the climate conditions, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions of the past 600,000 years can be read in outstanding quality from the cores.

The team of scientists under the auspices of the University of Bonn has analyzed some 5,000 samples in total. “The results show that the climate over the past hundred thousand years has been a roller coaster. Within just a few decades, the climate could tip from an ice age into a warm period,” says Doctor Thomas Litt of the University of Bonn’s Steinmann Institute and spokesman for the PALEOVAN international consortium of researchers. Unbroken continental climate archives from the ice age which encompass several hundred thousand years are extremely rare on a global scale. “There has never before in all of the Middle East and Central Asia been a continental drilling operation going so far back into the past,” says Doctor Litt. In the northern hemisphere, climate data from ice-cores drilled in Greenland encompass the last 120,000 years. The Lake Van project closes a gap in the scientific climate record.

The sediments reveal six cycles of cold and warm periods

Scientists found evidence for a total of six cycles of warm and cold periods in the sediments of Lake Van. The University of Bonn paleoecologist and his colleagues analyzed the pollen preserved in the sediments. Under a microscope they were able to determine which plants around the eastern Anatolian Lake the pollen came from. “Pollen is amazingly durable and is preserved over very long periods when protected in the sediments,” Doctor Litt explained. Insight into the age of the individual layers was gleaned through radiometric age measurements that use the decay of radioactive elements as a geologic clock. Based on the type of pollen and the age, the scientists were able to determine when oak forests typical of warm periods grew around Lake Van and when ice-age steppe made up of grasses, mugwort and goosefoot surrounded the lake.

Once they determine the composition of the vegetation present and the requirements of the plants, the scientists can reconstruct with a high degree of accuracy the temperature and amount of rainfall during different epochs. These analyses enable the team of researchers to read the varves of Lake Van like thousands of pages of an archive. With these data, the team was able to demonstrate that fluctuations in climate were due in large part to periodic changes in the Earth’s orbit parameters and the commensurate changes in solar insolation levels. However, the influence of North Atlantic currents was also evident. “The analysis of the Lake Van sediments has presented us with an image of how an ecosystem reacts to abrupt changes in climate. This fundamental data will help us to develop potential scenarios of future climate effects,” says Doctor Litt.

Risks of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the region of Van

Such risk assessments can also be made for other natural forces. “Deposits of volcanic ash with thicknesses of up to 10 m in the Lake Van sediments show us that approximately 270,000 years ago there was a massive eruption,” the University of Bonn paleoecologist said. The team struck some 300 different volcanic events in its drillings. Statistically, that corresponds to one explosive volcanic eruption in the region every 2000 years. Deformations in the sediment layers show that the area is subject to frequent, strong earthquakes. “The area around Lake Van is very densely populated. The data from the core samples show that volcanic activity and earthquakes present a relatively high risk for the region,” Doctor Litt says. According to media reports, in 2011 a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Van province claimed the lives of more than 500 people and injured more than 2,500.

University of Bonn

Categories: General

Life Originated in the Earth’s Crust

Sun, 2014-11-16 17:21
This at least is what the geologist Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schreiber and the physico-chemist Prof. Dr. Christian Mayer of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany are convinced of.

It is the first model on the origin of life which includes a complete process leading from inorganic chemistry to a protocell where the problems of molecule formation, local concentration, driving force and membrane formation are being solved simultaneously” Prof. Mayer from the faculty of Chemistry says.

What is this all about? The detailed environments on the early Earth and the conditions, under which life could originate billions of years ago are largely unknown. In consequence, the possible processes which may have taken place can neither be proven nor excluded. Therefore, most of the models proposed so far are focused on singular elementary steps of prebiotic developments. In its long history, the corresponding discussion about the crucial location on early Earth shifted from the Earth’s surface to the deep sea, from volcanic outlets to shallow ponds. Lacking plausible alternatives, extraterrestrial regions like Mars or the interplanetary space have also been included.

Credit : Universität Duisburg-Essen

On the other hand, the continental crust was, during a long time, neglected in the discussion. “This region, however, offers the ideal conditions for the origin of life“, Prof. Schreiber says.  His focus is on deep-reaching tectonic fault zones which are in contact with the Earth’s mantle. As for example in the region of the “Eifel” in Germany, they are channeling water, carbon dioxide and other gases which constantly rise to the surface. This fluid mixture contains all necessary ingredients for prebiotic organic chemistry.

One of the most intriguing aspects is the presence of supercritical carbon dioxide in depths below 800 meters. This supercritical fluid combines the properties of a liquid with those of a gas and presents an ideal solvent for organic chemical reactions. “This allows for many synthetic steps leading to complex biological molecules which otherwise, in a solvent like water, could not be accounted for”, Prof. Mayer explains, “Supercritical carbon dioxide acts like an organic solvent enabling reactions which would not occur in an aqueous environment. Moreover, it forms interfaces with water and hereby generates double-layer membranes which represent the most important single structural element of living cells”.

The fundamental steps of the proposed mechanisms have already been successfully reproduced in the laboratory. This includes the formation of vesicles as simple cell-like structures or the combination of amino acids to longer polymer chains forming the basis for proteins and enzymes. A fascinating detail is the fact that these processes may be proven today as they have left traces in minerals which have grown in the fault zones of the early Earth.

Prof. Oliver Schmitz, responsible for the field of trace analysis in the department of Chemistry in Essen, is convinced:  „Tiny fluid inclusions in crystals from Australian quartz dykes which have been collected by Prof. Schreiber contain a large collection of organic substances. They have been encapsulated from the fluid contents of the fault zone during the growth of the crystals. Today, they may help us to identify the chemistry which has taken place.“  With his profound experience in the analysis of natural compounds, Prof. Schmitz is a valuable asset in the research group at the University of Duisburg-Essen which deals with the fascinating question around the origin of life.

Universität Duisburg-Essen

Categories: General

High-Tech Authentication of Ancient Artifacts

Sat, 2014-11-15 17:13
Geologist Timothy Rose of the Smithsonian Institution’s Analytical Laboratories is accustomed to putting his lab’s high-tech nanoscale scanning electron microscope (nanoSEM) to work evaluating the mineral composition of rocks and meteorites.

Lately, though, the nanoSEM has been enlisted for a different kind of task: determining the authenticity of ancient Mesoamerican artifacts.

A 17 cm carved stone figurine shown inside the SEM chamber ready for non-destructive imaging and analysis. CREDIT: T. Rose/Smithsonian

In ongoing studies, Rose and his colleague Jane Walsh have now analyzed hundreds of artifacts, including carved stone figurines and masks and ceramic pieces from the ancient Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan and Mezcala civilizations dating from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 600. “With our modern imaging and analytical tools we can look at objects at very high magnification, which can reveal new details about how, and sometimes when, objects were created,” he said.

Rose will discuss the technology at the AVS 61th International Symposium and Exhibition, to be held Nov. 9-14, at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Md.

The nanoSEM used by Rose and his colleagues has the ability to function over a range of pressures. “Being able to work in the low-vacuum mode allows us to put samples into the microscope au naturel without coating them with an electrically conductive material such as carbon, which would be almost impossible to remove from a specimen,” he said.

In one study, Rose and colleagues used the nanoSEM to study stone masks from Teotihuacan, a pre-Columbian site located 30 miles northwest of Mexico City. The masks, about the size of a human face, were too big to be put into the device (and, more importantly, could not be removed from their respective museums or drilled or otherwise altered to obtain samples for analysis). However, silicone molds that were made of the objects to study tool marks with an optical microscope did remove tiny mineral grains from deep within cracks and drill holes. Chemical evaluation of these grains using the nanoSEM’s X-ray spectrographic analysis system showed that some were diatoms—common single-celled algae with cell walls made of silica. Diatomaceous earth is “a very fine powdery siliceous rock comprised entirely of diatoms that would make very nice polish for the stone of these specific masks,” Rose said. “We believe we found abrasive grains and polish that was used in the manufacturing process.”

In a separate study of artifacts confiscated by the federal government, the researchers found some pieces to be partially coated with a layer of what looked to be modern gypsum plaster. In other words, the pieces were fakes. However, Rose noted, a surprisingly small percentage of the objects evaluated to date have shown modern tools marks or other evidence of recent origins. One unique ceramic handled pot analyzed in detail, for example, had five chemically distinct layers that appeared to be original Olmec fresco paint—a level of craftsmanship that, he said, is unlikely to have been the work of modern artisans.

Categories: General

Tell-tales of war: Traditional stories highlight how ancient women survived

Sat, 2014-11-15 17:07
Through the ages, women have suffered greatly because of wars. Consequently, to protect themselves and their offspring, our female ancestors may have evolved survival strategies specific to problems posed by warfare, says Michelle Scalise Sugiyama of the University of Oregon in the US.

Her findings, based on the comprehensive analysis of traditional stories from across the world, are published today in Springer’s journal Human Nature. The work is of interest because research to date has focused on the problems warfare poses for men, and how these problems shaped human male cognition.

Scalise Sugiyama studied a sample of forager and forager-horticulturalist societies by looking at archaeological and ethnographic research on lethal raiding. This helped her to compile a list of five ‘fitness costs’ – ways in which warfare impedes women’s chances of surviving and reproducing. These occur when a woman is killed, a woman is captured, her offspring is killed, a mate is killed or captured, or an adult male kinsman is killed or captured.

The study then reviewed traditional stories about lethal raids that had been handed down for generations by word of mouth. Scalise Sugiyama analyzed a cross-cultural sample of war stories from 45 societies and found that the five fitness costs often feature within these story lines. The war stories included tales from various North American Indian tribes, the Eskimo of the Arctic, Aborigine groups of Australia, the San of Southern Africa and certain South American tribal societies.

Based on the fitness costs documented in these stories, Scalise Sugiyama believes that ancestral women may have developed certain strategies to increase their odds of survival and their ability to manage their reproduction in the face of warfare. These include manipulating male behavior, determining whether the enemy’s intent was to kill or capture them, and using defensive and evasive tactics to sidestep being murdered or to escape captivity. Assessing the risk of resistance versus compliance also requires having several sets of knowledge. This includes information about an enemy’s warfare practices and how they treat their captives.

The so-called Stockholm Syndrome, in which hostages bond with their captors, could have ancestral roots, hypothesizes Scalise Sugiyama. It often occurs under conditions of physical confinement or physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, which are characteristic of captivity in ancestral forager and forager-horticulturalist groups. This response could have developed as a way to help captives identify and ultimately integrate with enemy groups. This then motivates acceptance of the situation and reduces attempts to resist the captor – which may ultimately increase a woman’s chances of survival.

“Lethal raiding has recurrently imposed fitness costs on women. Female cognitive design bears reexamination in terms of the motivational and decision-making mechanisms that may have evolved in response to them,” says Scalise Sugiyama.

Springer Science+Business Media – Header Image Credit : Rod Waddington

Categories: General