Richard III : Wiki CommonsRichard III may have gone through very painful treatments for his spinal deformity, according to University of Leicester researcher.
Dr Mary Ann Lund, of the University’s School of English, has carried out research into the kinds of scoliosis treatments available at the time Richard III was alive.
The remains of Richard III discovered by University of Leicester scientists revealed that the King suffered from severe scoliosis, which he probably developed in early adolescence.
Scoliosis – a lateral or side-to-side curvature of the spine – can be a very painful condition to live with.
But some of the treatments practised in the late medieval period would have themselves caused sufferers a lot of anguish.
Among the “cures” practised was traction – the same principle on which “the Rack” worked as an instrument of torture.
The patient would be tied under the armpits and round the legs. The ropes were then pulled at either end, often on a wooden roller, to stretch the patient’s spine.
The treatment would probably have only been available to those who could afford it.
Richard III would certainly have been able to afford the highest levels of medical care available – and his physicians would have been well aware of the standard “traction” methods for treating the condition.
Dr Lund charted the influence of Greek philosopher Hippocrates – who developed early prototype methods of dealing with spinal disorders – to the 11th century Persian polymath Avicenna.
Avicenna’s treatises on medicine and philosophy were highly regarded in Medieval Europe. His theories on using traction in scoliosis treatment would have been widely read and practised by doctors in Richard III’s lifetime.
Avicenna also advocated the massage techniques practised in Turkish baths, and herbal applications, as treatments for back disorders. In the longer term, patients might wear a long piece of wood or metal in an attempt to straighten their back.
Dr Lund said: “Scoliosis is a painful illness, and Richard would have been in quite a lot of pain on a daily basis. These methods could also have been very painful – but people would have expected treatments to be unpleasant.
“Medical practices could exacerbate conditions rather than improving them. These treatments would have only been open to people in the upper echelons. Richard would have probably received these treatments because he was a member of the nobility.”
Later methods of treatment for scoliosis included the orthosis, which was developed by French physician Ambroise Paré in the late 16th century.
This was a tightly fitting metal corset for treating scoliosis made by an armourer, which would have been worn by patients to brace the skeleton in an attempt to correct the curvature of the spine.Contributing Source : University of Leicester HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
It was a CSI Cold Case like no other.
The missing person was a machine and a world icon- the Spitfire fighter.
The crime scene was a battle-scarred airfield in the Far East.
And the crime, if it took place at all, took place more than sixty five years ago.
In January 2013 the World’s media watched as a crack team of historians, archaeologists and geophysicists assembled by global game company Wargaming.net, set out to solve the mystery of the lost squadron of Spitfires which, according to aviation enthusiast David Cundall, were buried by Allied Forces at airfields in Burma at the end of the Second World War.
The Wargaming team approached the project as a CSI style police procedural mystery, looking for alleged ‘missing persons’ – the Spitfires. To solve the mystery the team went in search of the Royal Air Force’s “Means”, “Motive” and “Opportunity” to bury the aircraft, following up clues in the military archives; examining geophysical data and testing it against historical photographs of the site; and pouring over the RAF shipping records and Operational Record Books.
Recognising that this was a very human story they also read numerous witness statements, talked to surviving witnesses and in the ultimate test of their theories, visited the ‘crime scene’ at Yangon International Airport, in order to turn months of documentary research and the perceptions of witnesses into facts on the ground.
As a result of this archive research and the ‘ground truthing’ by archaeology at Yangon Airport, the team are now confident that the legend of the buried Spitfires of Burma is just that: a captivating legend about a beautiful and iconic aircraft.
As the world now knows, after weeks of specifically targeted surveys and excavations, no trace of crated Spitfires was found at Mingaladon. At Myitkyina, in northern Kachin State, the Burmese-led surveys also produced no trace of the Spitfires which were also alleged to have been buried there. This had the effect of independently confirming the conclusion of earlier documentary work carried out regarding the Myitkyina site by the Wargaming team.
Wargaming’s research team now believes that these facts on the ground, endorse the conclusion of their documentary research which proves beyond reasonable doubt that no crated Spitfire aircraft were ever delivered to Mingaladon or Myitkyina, let alone buried in crates at either site.
However, this disappointing conclusion turns out to have a silver lining. The missing Spitfires of Burma are the first and only such piece of World War Two folklore to have ever been investigated objectively and scientifically. This means that, although though there will not be a newly discovered squadron of vintage aircraft gracing the skies, the Wargaming team can demonstrate the fascinating genesis and evolution of a wartime legend, born in the mud and chaos of RAF Mingaladon in 1945 in a world which now lies at the fragile edge of living memory.
The case of the Burma Spitfires goes to the very heart of how we remember this traumatic and endlessly fascinating period of our shared history; while the worldwide interest in the project has demonstrated how the Spitfire remains alive in the hearts and memories of all those who love the history of aviation and recognise its value. This is the case even though it is over two generations since the glory days of R J Mitchell’s masterpiece in the skies of every theatre of war between 1939 and 1945 and a number of conflict zones thereafter.
Now for the first time the Wargaming research team are going to present the full findings of the investigation at Mingaladon in a special multimedia presentation at the Royal Air Force Museum Hendon on 19th June 2013 with the main presentation starting at 19.30hrs.
The historians, archaeologists and scientists who actually carried out the research will take you on a journey which will place you behind the lens of a reconnaissance camera in 1945; at a desk at the UK National Archives as a crucial document which has never before been looked at comes to light and at the screen of a laptop on the sun beaten expanse of Yangon Airport as a lost road which is key to the story takes form out of the electronic background.
The evening will be fully illustrated by slides and video of the expedition and will include the team’s suggestion as to how and why the legend of the Burma Spitfires came to be so widely believed by the public and the media.
The evening will include opportunities to ask questions of the team and special arrangements will be made for members of the media who wish to undertake more extensive interviews.
Wargaming Thanks the Royal Air Force Museum for enabling us to mount this event.About Wargaming
Wargaming is an award-winning online game developer and publisher and one of the leaders in the free-to-play MMO market. Founded as a privately held company in 1998, Wargaming has shipped more than 15 titles and employs over 1500 people across such key regions as North America, Europe, Russia, Asia, and Australia. Currently, Wargaming is focused on its team-based MMO war series dedicated to mid-20th century warfare that will include the company’s flagship armoured MMO World of Tanks, launched in April 2011 and currently boasting 55 million players worldwide, the flight combat World of Warplanes, named one of the most anticipated MMOs, and the naval World of Warships, both scheduled for release in 2013. In June 2012, Wargaming announced the Wargaming.net Service, the epicentre of the online battle gaming universe that will gather the series under a single portal — www.wargaming.net.
A detailed Programme and final Ticketing Arrangements will be announced shortly so please do not contact the Royal Air Force Museum.-
To register an interest in attending please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and state which in which capacity you wish to attend,
1. Media: stating which organisation or outlet you represent
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3. Member of the Public.
Professor Daniel Turbón is expert on on molecular and forensic anthropology and the origin and evolution of hominids.The most supported traditional hypothesis points out that the earliest well-established human culture in the North American continent were the Clovis, a population of hunters who arrived about 13,000 years before present from North-East Asia through the Bering Strait, and scattered over the continent.
A new genetic study of South American natives, published on the journal PLOS Genetics, provides scientific evidence to reformulate the traditional model and define new theories of human settlement of the Americas. Professor Daniel Turbón, from the Department of Animal Biology of the UB, is one of the authors of this international research, led by Lutz Roewer (Charité – University Medicine, Berlin). Eduardo Arroyo-Pardo and Ana Maria López Parra (Complutense University of Madrid) also sign the paper.Which was the earliest well-established culture in America?
This new research is based on the analysis of male Y-chromosomal genetic markers in about one thousand individuals, representing 50 tribal South American native populations. According to the authors, the extant genetic structure of South America native populations is largely decoupled from the continent-wide linguistic and geographic relationships. This finding evidences that the initial human settlement of the Americas was not a single migration process —regardless of whether it took place through the Bering Strait—, but rapid peopling, followed by long periods of isolation in small tribal groups.
Profesor Daniel Turbón, expert on molecular and forensic anthropology and the origin and evolution of hominids, states that “Probably, America is one of the most recent examples of human settlement of a large continent. For scientists, it constitutes an excellent laboratory to compare the methodological tools used on genetic and population studies. Even if it has been widely held, the hypothesis of a single migration movement to explain the origin of America’s settlers is a reductionist view which is more and more questioned”.Studies of Y-chromosomal markers
Authors analyse the genetic variation of every male individual by means of a series of Y-chromosomal genetic markers: to be exact, 919 subjects (91 % of the total) were typed for the 16 most common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in South America, and for the 17 short tandem repeat (STR) most widely used in forensic anthropology. The analysis of polymorphisms enabled to determine each individual’s geographical origin and to compare these data with other populations from North and Central America.
The research presents also a powerful international database on forensic genetics based on relevant collective studies (with native atomized small populations) developed by the international co-authors. The experts Francesc Bert and Alfons Corellas, both authors of doctoral theses supervised by Professor Daniel Turbón, also represent UB’s participation in the research.
“Nowadays, science is strongly atomized”, affirms Turbón. “On the one hand, many published researches are based on small population samples and use few genetic markers. That prevents us to observe the global scene. On the other hand, there are some macro genetic studies that show a wider scene, but it is difficult to compare them due to methodological reasons. Studies with biological samples are also carried out; samples come from hospitals located at large population centres with a high hybridization level. Native communities, which usually live on a more isolate way, are becoming scarcer”.Native communities in danger of extinction
The paper published on PLOS Genetics identifies also a lineage which has not been described to date in North and Central American populations: C-M217 (C3*) haplotype, which occur at high frequency in Asia. Moreover, experts detected a Polynesian lineage in Peru.
International scientific community face the exciting challenge of discovering the origin of America’s first settlers. This new publication shapes some alternatives to the hypothesis of a single migration movement —which denies any trans-Pacific migration with remarkable effects on population’s genetics— as a model to describe America’s population origin.
“In the future, it would be essential to find an archaeological site which has a continuous archaeological sequence. Furthermore, it would be necessary to develop a complete genetic study of native populations as their danger of extinction is increasing day by day”, concludes Professor TurbónContributing Source : University of Barcelona HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
It stretched from the Scottish border in the North to the Sahara in the south, from Spain in the West to Arabia in the East. It lasted for over a thousand years, two counting its Byzantine successor, and brought civilisation and unity to Europe.
Eventually like all empires it fell and from its ashes was born Medieval Europe. The reasons for its fall are many, barbarian invasion, internal weakness and corruption, disease, climate change, over stretched borders, and lack of resources and development at the necessary crunch time.
The Gothic immigration that led to the disaster at Adrianople crippled them to an extent that they couldn’t hold off the ‘scourge of god’, Atilla, and by the time he was finally defeated Rome had been fatally weakened and slowly disintegrated over the next few decades until the deposition of the final emperor, Romulus Augustus, in 476.
Many have questioned this collapse and asked if it was truly inevitable. Obviously some things could have gone better, and different leaders may have made better decisions, but there were many long term effects that may have made it inevitable. Could it all have been simply down to the choices and views of the Romans though? Did they just need to continue the waves of expansion that stopped after the disastrous loss of Varus’ 3 legions in the Teutonburger Forest, and Augustus withdrawal from Germany? Some tried to repeat these expansionist moves, such as Julian, Septimus Severus, and more famously Trajan, but their conquests were short lived or given up by their successors. We must ask wether they should have tried to keep these territories, or if they were impossible to hold and just created to bring personal glory to an emperor.POSITIVES
Virgil said in the first century that Rome’s empire had no bounds. History seems to suggest the opposite, but is this the case? One of the simplest points is that a larger empire would have had a larger population and more cultivable land, agriculture being the main form of wealth, thus more tax revenues and more manpower, but to truly understand this concept we need to look at each of the borders in more detail, starting with Germania. This is really the centre of this study. Its relevance to the growth and later decline and fall of Rome are obvious. It was an area that had been considered for expansion by many of the most important figures of Rome, Caesar, Augustus, Domitian, Marcus Aurelius and later emperors like Julian the Apostate to name but a few.
The first attack on Germania superior (i.e. Germany east of the Rhine) was by Julius Caesar as part of his Gallic campaigns, however this was merely a punitive raid to prevent them assisting their cousins west of the Rhine. Augustus’ campaigns, led by Drusus the elder, succeeded in capturing all the territory up to the Elbe, but this only lasted until the famous defeat of Varus in the Teutonburger Wald in 9AD, and although Drusus son Germanicus succeeded in returning the stolen Roman eagles and devastating those tribes who had been involved, Tiberius decided to end the campaigns and return the border to the Rhine, ending any dream of a Roman controlled Germany; although this may merely have been due to jealousy and fear of Germanicus’ growing popularity.
Nearly two hundred years later Marcus Aurelius fought one of the longest and most difficult wars with the German tribes led by the Alemanni, Macromannic wars. As they were coming to an end with German defeat Marcus Aurelius decided to annex a great part of their territory, in particular the Bohemian plateau, thereby creating two new provinces. His untimely death in 180AD however, caused his son Commodus to come to power and he wanted a quick and easy end to the fighting, so merely concluded a swift peace treaty and gave up the plans for the creation of the new provinces.
While the withdrawal under Tiberius was quite logical, due to the lack of development and resources in Germany across the Rhine at that time, (in fact it cost them more to keep the land than they could gain in tax, as it couldn’t even provide enough grain to feed the soldiers stationed there) the later one could be seen as a terrible mistake.
The Bohemian plateau would have provided a reasonably wealthy area (Germania being more developed at that time) with far a clearer more defensible border. This would have been in the form of a series of narrow valleys, rather than a long river and forest frontier, which would therefore have provided greater safety from raiding and needed a smaller garrison, thereby saving the empire money and manpower. As the Rhine frontier became so a major weak point for the empire, suffering frequent raids, and later incursions, migrants and large scale invasions, strengthening this would obviously have been highly beneficial.
Recent studies by people such as Peter Heather have talked about the development and migrations of the ‘barbarian tribes’ of Germania. They have shown how they not only raided and fought with Rome, but were more deeply connected, and able to develop due to the impact of Rome. To sum up this large and complex area of study we can now see that the immediate frontier zone experienced rapid development due to its proximity to the Roman empire.
The opportunities for trade, not only with elite goods to the centre (mainly in the forms of furs and amber) but also in a more everyday sense providing food and goods to the soldiers guarding the border, meant these peoples became far wealthier and thus had the opportunity to create more developed societies of larger groups with more complex monarchical control. Moreover, access to goods and knowledge improved the farming techniques creating more heavily farmed areas, larger tradable surpluses and population growth.
This was a self perpetuating cycle that allowed them to keep on growing and forming larger groups, which competed with the other nearby groups, often leading to migration to the centre and conflict, to create bigger confederations then existed in the early empire, thus creating true threats to the Roman empire. Continued expansion could have kept ‘nipping this in the bud’, in other words if they had a policy of expansion whenever possible then they would have kept subduing the Germans and expanding into their improved territory, thus eliminating them before they became a problem, and ensuring the tribes at their borders were always small undeveloped and unorganised.
If the borderlands were therefore kept weak and underdeveloped then when the Huns arrived and tried to seize control of them the job would have been harder and less profitable, thus may never have happened, so the great empire of the Huns may never have reached the strength it did under Attila and become such a threat to Rome; and even if it did happen the populations unde his control would have been smaller and poorer, and therefore less well armed, again meaning a lesser threat to Rome.
Let us turn now to the case of Britannia. This was an area that had an unconquered northern frontier and dangerous western neighbour in the form of Ireland, or Hibernia as the Romans called it. Britannia was never fully pacified due to the changing political situations at court. Agricola was campaigning throughout Scotland during the 70s and 80, but was recalled by Domitian, supposedly because he was making the emperor’s own conquest in Germany look less in comparison. Later Septimus Severus again campaigned here and aimed to finish the conquest, but his death in York ended this for good. What would have been the result of the island’s complete conquest?
In the shorter term the pacification of the north would have meant that the enormous military structure that was Hadrian’s wall wouldn’t have needed to have been built, saving the empire a large expense. Additionally there wouldn’t have been the need for such a large garrison, as it should have followed the standard pattern of calming down and accepting Roman domination within a generation, as did most of the other conquests, especially those in northern Europe, thus saving more money and manpower.
We should also consider that the reason Britannia was abandoned was due to the constant pressure on Hadrian’s wall and the disinterest of a Roman state which, having more pressing (and nearer) concerns on the Rhine, wouldn’t or couldn’t send more troops. If this hadn’t been an issue Rome would have been able to hold onto this wealthy province.
It might also have meant that later expansionist emperors may have even moved on to a conquest of Ireland thus securing the western border permanently as beyond Ireland there is merely the Pacific ocean. There have been suggestions of a Roman presence in Ireland with the recent discovery of what appears to be a Roman fort in Carmanagh, near Dublin, and there’s a reference to a punitve mission in Agricola suggesting he crossed, and it was a common practice of Rome to interfere in the affairs of it’s neighbors, for example by appointing kings and providing financial and military assistance. So any emperor may have decided that an easy conquest like this would have brought them glory.
It is even possible that it was actually attempted, as, after all, military actions like this don’t often leave archaeological traces (In fact we only know of Caesar’s expeditions to Britain due to his writings). A final point to consider is that Britannia was beset by raids and piracy from Ireland and the Saxons, if the west was calm they could have focused their efforts on the east and so been better able to deal with this threat.
An interesting point to consider with this essay is Parthia. This, and more its successor Sassanid Persia, was the single greatest threat to Rome, being the only superpower they bordered. While the empire was generally able to defeat the earlier Parthian incarnation in most battles and had chipped away at its borders and surrounding client kingdoms they never really got very deep into their territory due to logistical reasons, and much of the territory they did take they were forced to give up, such as Babylon (whose Jewish population revolted prompting Jews in other parts of the empire to revolt) and Trajan’s conquests. (Although Trajan can be said to have overextended himself, and only had the ability to take these lands due to Parthian internal fighting, which when resolved allowed them to return in force and kick the Romans out. For more information see Bennet’s Trajan:Optimus Princeps.) There are therefore two questions we have to ask, could Rome have expanded in this direction, and secondly would it have been worth it?
Parthia was an incredibly wealthy empire with trade connections going all the way to China (Chinese ambassadors are known to have visited the Parthian court on several occasions) and was able to make huge sums as a middleman between east and west so it was always a tempting target for Rome. However its territory was incredibly large and most of it was arid desert and semi-desert thus any campaign was fraught with difficulties in supplying food and water for the troops. The only real chance of success here would have been to either continue to pick at is edges over time, or use an approach like Alexander the great and try to force a make or break pitched battle and eliminate the king, although unlike in Alexanders day the king had less power and a lot more was held in the council of elders and satraps; these could have been taken apart piece by piece, but it would have been a slow and difficult process. So coming back to the question of would it have been worth taking over Parthia, it can be seen that a full blown war of conquest would have been far too difficult, and that the path undertaken was probably correct, namely to pick around the edges and to mount occasional large scale raids. Sadly while this worked, indeed the capital, Ctesiphon, was sacked three times in the second century, this led to the collapse of the Parthian regime and its replacement by the far more aggressive, and therefore dangerous, Sassanid Empire.
The areas around Dacia, i.e. those outside the boundary of the Carpathian mountains pose some questions as to their value in greater Roman expansion. The area between the province and the Black Sea would have been tactically useful as it would have shortened the border significantly, and brought the majority of the coast under Roman control. While this area was indeed conquered by Trajan, it was given up by his successor Hadrian as it was too difficult to hold on to, its peoples being the nomadic Iazyges who weren’t settled in cities which could be easily overrun and garrisoned.
This situation was not to last forever though, and after these peoples had been conquered by the Goths in the third century, it would have actually been easier to take it from them and possibly prevent the need to retreat from the then surrounded province of Dacia. Any other areas outside of Dacia would not have really been valuable for conquest as they were again inhabited by nomadic peoples whose lifestyles made them hard to subdue, as mentioned above, and also as the Carpathian mountains provided such a strong and easily defensible border, it would have been unwise to give it up for the steppe land of the Hungarian Plain, unless Rome was expanding in a steady wave from the west and able to push all the way to the Dniester or indeed Dnieper rivers.
The kingdom of Crimea was a client state throughout most of the imperial period and though briefly annexed by Nero was given back its independence upon his death and stayed this way until late antiquity. It seems therefore that it was better to have this as a buffer state to protect the empire from the barbarian nomads that lived in the far northwest (as evidenced by it having Roman soldiers stationed there to assist their kings). Therefore, like with the Trans-Dacia regions, it would only have been worth taking over as part of a wider expansion.
Moving away from the frontiers there are a few other considerations when assessing this hypothesis. One of Rome’s strengths was its adaptability and acceptance of others, as it expanded it didn’t annihilate other cultures but rather absorb them and added their strengths to their own, for example Carthaginian ships, Spanish swords, Palmyran and Armenian cavalry, not to mention what they got from Greek culture. So as they expanded and took over more peoples, could they have developed and learned more? This is just speculation and we will never know for sure, but the idea of them reaching India or even China, throws up all kinds of possibilities.
One should also consider the role of the legions, which, while being considered one of the greatest military machines the world has ever known, had many weaknesses and often suffered from low morale, mutinies and lack of enrollment. This became more evident when Rome was no longer expanding as the men no longer had as much opportunity for gaining booty and slaves from defeated foes. An empire that continued to expand would not have had to suffer from this, as it would have given them more opportunity for wealth.
The final benefit of continuing expansion to consider is that it would have meant that the borders would have been pushed further out so when raiding occurred it would have been further and further from the centre. And as raids rarely got very deep in times when the empire was strong, more and more land would be spared the horrors of attack so would be able to develop and grow.NEGATIVES
However good an idea further expansion may have been we have to accept the realities of the ability to control such territories. The Roman empire was already massive and struggled to control its territories hence the need to split in two parts, which while weakening the west did allow the east to survive. Other problems that have been noted are divided loyalties; soldiers on distant borders had no contact or understanding of other parts of the empire and so were more likely to revolt and throw up their own emperors, and when one army did so the others often followed, as can be seen in the case of the famous year of the four emperors in 70A.D. after Nero’s assassination.
Another point to consider is that border defences and fortifications took time to build up and gain real strength. If it was constantly moving its borders they would have never gained much strength, inviting continual raiding. Although, conversely, a constantly expanding strong empire may have cowed many of their neighbours so reduced the possibility of this.
The key weakness though is that of the sheer size of the empire which meant that communication was frighteningly slow in an age before modern communication technology, even with the highly efficient postal service, the cursus publicus, it could still take weeks to get messages to the far flung parts of the empire, and soldiers even longer. Would a bigger empire have merely split earlier or into more separate parts, as with the effective yet extremely short lived Tetrachy? On the other hand the crisis of the third century was caused by these problems and the adaptations to this by the likes of Diocletian and Constantine gave the empire another two centuries of life, would it have simply adapted again, for example by increasing devolution and the size of the bureaucracy?CONCLUSION
There would of course have been other avenues of expansion that I have not mentioned here. In the east we have Arabia, which being a desert would not have been likely to be absorbed at any point. In the south Meriotic Sudan and Ethiopia would have had similar logistical problems to Parthia, however, if the empire had remained strong and expansionist for long enough they may indeed have come under Roman domination. South of Roman Africa was the great Sahara desert, which provided a natural boundary to there southern expansion, and the only means there would have been sailing round the west of the continent, which, while possible, would have required a great distance before viable sites were discovered, although again with time and population increase this may have changed, and they may have continued in a means similar to the European empires of the 1500s, planting colonies at key points to control trade, e.g. the Dutch in South Africa.
To the north west lay Iceland, Greenland and eventually the Americas, but to reach these would have required superior sailing technology than existed in the empire, so would have not been likely targets without technological development, and afterwards of course, political will.
I personally believe that continuing expansion could have prevented the collapse of the Roman empire, as in effect it really collapsed in the west due to the Germanic influx picking it apart and taking its best land crippling it financially and leaving it unable to defend itself against the Huns and the groups that arose from their collapse, but a larger empire could have given up more territory and kept going. However, it was already too large having to split between east and west, so if it had been any larger it would probably have split into more parts, as in the 260s when it split between the Gallic empire, central empire and Palmyran centred empire. However, if the separate parts were not too many and managed to remain amicable and willing to coordinate in times of crisis, the empire could have gone on indefinitely. Indeed it may have developed more like China, dividing and reunifying under different dynasties but maintaining its cultural identity, if so the world would have developed in an altogether different way.Written by Joe Medhurst HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases Bibliography:
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Bennet, Julian, Trajan: Optimus Princeps, Indiana University Press, 2001.
Breeze, David, The Frontiers Of Imperial Rome, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, 2011.
Casson, L., Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (Princeton 1971) pp. 220 ff.
Goldsworthy, Adrian, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower, Yale University Press, 2010.
Heather, P., Goths and Romans 332-489, Clarendon Press§, Oxford, 1991.
Heather, P., ‘The Huns and the End of the Roman Empire in Western Europe’, English Historical Review cx (1995), pp. 4-41.
Heather, P., ‘The Late Roman Art of Client Management: Imperial Defence in the Fourth Century West’ in Walter Pohl, Ian Wood, and Helmut Reimitz, eds., The Transformation of Frontiers: From Late Antiquity to the Carolingians, Brill Publishers§, Leiden; Boston, 2001), pp. 15-68.
Heather, P., The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History of Rome and the Barbarians§ Oxford University Press, 2006.
Heather, P., Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe, Macmillan§, London, 2009.
James, Simon, Rome & the Sword: How Warriors & Weapons Shaped Roman History, Thames & Hudson, London, 2011.
Meyer-Zwiffelhoffer, Eckhard, Imperium Romanum. Die Geschichte der römischen Provinzen (Imperium Romanum. The History of the Roman Provinces), Munchen: Beck 2009.
Shotter, David, Nero, Routledge, 2012.
Venning, Timothy, If Rome hadn’t fallen : what might have happened if the Western Empire had survived, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, 2011.
Warner, Richard, Yes, the Romans did invade Ireland, British Archaeology, no 14, May 1996.
Reconstruction of Iceman Ötzi : Wiki CommonsFor the first time, researchers from the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich together with colleagues abroad have been able to provide evidence of periodontitis, tooth decay and accident-related dental damage in the ice mummy ‘Ötzi’.
The latest scientific findings provide interesting information on the dietary patterns of the Neolithic Iceman and on the evolution of medically significant oral pathologies.
The Neolithic mummy Ötzi (approximately 3300 BC) displays an astoundingly large number of oral diseases and dentition problems that are still widespread today. As Prof. Frank Rühli, head of the study, explains, Ötzi suffered from heavy dental abrasions, had several carious lesions – some severe – and had mechanical trauma to one of his front teeth which was probably due to an accident.
Although research has been underway on this important mummy for over 20 years now, the teeth had scarcely been examined. Dentist Roger Seiler from the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich has now examined Ötzi’s teeth based on the latest computer tomography data and found that: «The loss of the periodontium has always been a very common disease, as the discovery of Stone Age skulls and the examination of Egyptian mummies has shown. Ötzi allows us an especially good insight into such an early stage of this disease», explains Seiler. He specializes in examining dental pathologies in earlier eras.Advanced periodontitis
The three-dimensional computer tomography reconstructions give an insight into the oral cavity of the Iceman and show how severely he was suffering from advanced periodontitis. Particularly in the area of the rear molars, Seiler found loss of the periodontal supporting tissue that almost extended to the tip of the root. While Ötzi is scarcely likely to have cleaned his teeth, his abrasive diet contributed significantly to a process of self-cleaning. Nowadays periodontitis is connected to cardiovascular diseases. Interestingly, the Iceman also displays vascular calcification, for which – like in the case of the periodontitis – mainly his genetic make-up was responsible.
The fact that the Iceman suffered from tooth decay is attributable to his eating more and more starchy foods such as bread and cereal porridge which were consumed more commonly in the Neolithic period because of the rise of agriculture. In addition, the food was very abrasive because of contaminants and the rub-off from the quern, as is demonstrated by the Iceman’s abraded teeth. His accident-related dental damage and his other injuries testify to his troubled life at that time. One front tooth has suffered mechanical trauma – the discoloration is still clearly visible – and one molar has lost a cusp, probably from chewing on something, perhaps a small stone in the cereal porridge.Ötzi – the world’s oldest wet mummy
The Iceman – known widely as ‘Ötzi’ – is the oldest wet mummy in the world. Since its discovery in 1991, numerous scientific examinations have taken place. In 2007, for example, also with the involvement of Frank Rühli, Ötzi’s cause of death was determined as probably stemming from internal bleeding.
The current project took place in cooperation with Andrew Spielmann (New York University College of Dentistry) and Albert Zink (EURAC, Bolzano). It was carried out at the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine in the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich and received the financial support of the Mäxi Foundation in Zurich. The Centre performs interdisciplinary research into the evolution of major human diseases.Contributing Source : University of Zurich HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
The report is based on an online survey and telephone interviews that, in a period of less than two months, elicited accounts of abuse from dozens of women and men working in the field of biological anthropology.
This is a first attempt to systematically document the harassment, abuse or assaults young researchers sometimes face in the course of doing anthropological fieldwork at remote sites, said University of Illinois anthropology professor Kathryn Clancy, one of four researchers to present the new findings at the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology.
Most students and postdoctoral researchers consider field research a stepping stone to a better career, Clancy said.
“This is something that most biological anthropologists, cultural anthropologists and archeologists see as a fairly necessary experience,” she said. “Some people can do an entirely lab-based project or a computer modeling project or a local project, but most of us need to go into the field.”
The team recruited subjects through outreach on social media and websites devoted to researchers in biological anthropology. They heard from 122 men and women, more than half of whom had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment, physical abuse or sexual assault at the hands of site managers, project directors or peers living and working at field research sites. The researchers defined sexual assault as “any kind of inappropriate physical contact, unwanted physical touching, assault, all the way up to rape,” Clancy said.
“Overwhelmingly, we’re seeing junior women being targeted by senior men,” Clancy said. “59 percent of respondents have experienced sexual harassment. Women are 3 times more likely to experience harassment than men. And 19 percent of respondents have been sexually assaulted.”
The perpetrators of the harassment and assaults were usually men, but some women also abused their students. One female site director, for example, refused to let women leave the work site to urinate.
The researchers did not directly ask the respondents if they had been raped, but some of the respondents volunteered that they had been raped by research leaders or peers at fieldwork sites. Others reported that they had witnessed the systematic targeting of junior members of the research team for harassment or assault.
Such working conditions can have devastating effects on the health and wellbeing of those who are targeted and those who witness the abuse, Clancy said. They also force students to choose between their career goals and their desire to speak up for themselves or others.
Clancy and her colleagues noticed that larger, more organized research sites tended to have fewer incidents of abuse, harassment or assault than smaller, less formal fieldwork sites. Those who worked on teams that included women in leadership positions also reported less harassment and abuse. Some respondents said they noticed an uptick in abusive behavior when female leaders were absent.
“The larger a field site, the more organized you have to be, so you’re more likely to actually have ground rules or a code of conduct, or a chain of command that prevents people from feeling they can get away with bad behavior,” Clancy said.
The researchers are proposing that funding agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health require the same kinds of protocols and oversight of researcher safety in the field that are routine in the laboratory.
“If we want to fund a postdoctoral researcher, we have to write a postdoc mentoring plan so that we prove that this postdoc isn’t just going to be a lackey for us and that we’re actually going to mentor them and train them and help them get a job,” Clancy said. “I have to make sure my students have access to certain kinds of vaccines if they’re working with blood. We have to go through Institutional Review Boards to protect our research subjects. We have to go through animal protocols to protect our animals. But we don’t have to protect our researchers in the field.”Contributing Source : University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Joya Ceren : Wiki CommonsUC faculty have been involved in multiple research projects concerning ancient Maya culture for more than a decade. This latest Maya study from Lentz focuses on Cerén, a farming village that was smothered under several meters of volcanic ash in the late sixth century.
Cerén, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as Joya de Cerén, was discovered in El Salvador in the late 1970s when a governmental construction project unearthed what turned out to be ancient ceramic pottery and other clay structures. The initial archaeological excavation was directed by Payson Sheets, a faculty member at the University of Colorado and a friend of Lentz.
Cerén is sometimes called “the Pompeii of Central America,” and much like that doomed ancient Roman city, the wreckage of Cerén was remarkably well preserved by its volcanic burial shroud. So that bad news for the Cerén villagers became good news for archaeologists centuries later.
“What this meant for me, is this site had all these plant remains lying on the ground,” Lentz says. “Not only do we find these plant remains well preserved, but we find them where the people left them more than a thousand years ago, and that is really extraordinary.”
Lentz specializes in paleoethnobotany and oftentimes in his work – including at other Maya sites – he’s left to interpret complex meaning from splinters of charred wood and hard nut fragments. The Mayas’ tropical environment, which isn’t conducive to preserving plant remains, doesn’t make things any easier.
But the situation was different at Cerén. The village’s sudden and complete ruin sealed it under layers of preservative ash. So Lentz’s research there is still challenging but in an unfamiliar way.
“It was tricky because we kept encountering things we’d never encountered before at a Maya site,” Lentz says. “They were just invisible because of the lack of preservation.”GARDENS, CROPS AND OTHER SURPRISES
A few examples of what Lentz and his team have discovered at Cerén:
-They found tremendous quantities of a root crop (malanga, a relative of taro) that previously had not been associated with Maya agriculture. They found another “invisible” crop of manioc alongside the more anticipated fields of maize, and they found grasses no longer in existence on the modern-day El Salvador landscape.
-They made what is thought to be the first discovery of a Maya kitchen, complete with intensively planted household garden. “We could tell what was planted around the houses,” Lentz says. “This is fabulous because people have long debated how the Maya did all this. Now we have a real example.”
-They found a household with more than 70 ceramic pots, many used to store beans, peppers and other plant matter. Having that many vessels in one home was an unusual discovery for what is thought to be a small, farming village. Lentz likened it to having four or five sets of China in a typical American home.
-They found large plots of neatly rowed land, evidence of ridge and furrow agriculture. Lentz also posits that the people of Cerén surrounded their homes with orchard trees. These discoveries seemingly debunk the common theory that the Maya employed a slash-and-burn agriculture method.
-They found a raised, paved pathway called a “sacbe,” which was used by the Maya for ceremonial and commercial purposes. Lentz plans additional research on the sacbe to see what other significant discoveries could be made by following the path.LEARNING FROM ANCIENT LANDSCAPES
From these new discoveries come many lessons, a lot of them ecological. Lentz has studied how the Mayas effectively implemented systems of agriculture and arboriculture. He is intrigued by what made these methods successful, considering the Maya population was much denser than what exists on the modern landscape.
His findings at Cerén give him new pieces to plug into the Maya puzzle. Furthermore, they help us understand how humankind affects the natural world.
“Cerén is regarded internationally as one of the treasures of the world,” Lentz says. “What’s been found there gives you a real idea of what things were like in the past and how humans have modified things. I think what we’re learning there is revolutionizing our concept of the ancient past in Mesoamerica.”Contributing Source : University of Cincinnati HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Palygorskite : Wiki CommonsThe recipe and process for preparing Maya Blue, a highly-resistant pigment used for centuries in Mesoamerica, were lost. We know that the ingredients are a plant dye, indigo, and a type of clay known as palygorskite, but scientists do not know how they were ‘cooked’ and combined together. Now, a team of chemists from the University of Valencia and the Polythecnic University of Valencia (Spain) have come up with a new hypothesis about how it was prepared.
Palace walls, sculptures, codices and pieces of pottery produced by the ancient Maya incorporate the enigmatic Maya Blue. This pigment, which was also used by other Mesoamerican cultures, is characterised by its intense blue colour but, above all, by the fact that it is highly resistant to chemical and biological deterioration. Indeed, it was used centuries ago and when it is analysed now it appears virtually unchangeable.
There is no document that verifies how this paint was prepared and so it remains a mystery. Archaeologists and scientists have sought to uncover the mystery in recent years but it seems that researchers cannot come to an agreement.
The dominant theory proposes that there is a single type of Maya Blue that was also prepared in a unique way and that a specific type of bond binds the two components: one organic component, indigo -the dye used for denim that is obtained from the Indigofera suffruticosa plant in Mesoamerica– and another inorganic component, palygorskite, a type of clay characterised by its crystal structure full of internal channels.
But the work of a team from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) seem to contradict this ‘monoist’ version. “We detected a second pigment in the samples, dehydroindigo, which must have formed through oxidation of the indigo when it underwent exposure to the heat that is required to prepare Maya Blue,” stated Antonio Doménech, a UV researcher.
“Indigo is blue and dehydroindigo is yellow,” the expert explained, “therefore the presence of both pigments in variable proportions would justify the more or less greenish tone of Maya Blue. It is possible that the Maya knew how to obtain the desired hue by varying the preparation temperature, for example heating the mixture for more or less time or adding more of less wood to the fire.”
Another of the unsolved questions is how the dye molecules are distributed in palygorskite’s crystal network. According to some scientists, the indigo adheres to the exterior of the clay structure with the ‘brick’ shape although it could also form a sort of ‘cover’ on the entrance to the channels.
However, other researchers believe that the indigo penetrates into the channels. This is the theory supported by the team from Valencia that has just published a study in the “Microporous and Mesoporous Materials” journal on the reactions that could be behind the formation of the blue pigment.Two-stage process
The results reveal that two stages occur when both components are heated to temperatures between 120 and 180 ºC. In the first and fastest of the two stages water evaporates from the palygorskite and the indigo bonds to the clay, although a part oxidises and forms dehydroindigo.
In the second stage it would appear that the dye disperses through the channels in the clay. “The process is similar to what happens when we pour a drop of ink into a glass of water,” Doménech said, drawing a comparison, although he acknowledges that “this is a hypothesis” at present.
The researcher’s team, like other groups in other parts of the world, is also investigating the secret of the unknown chemical bonds that bind the organic to the inorganic component. These bonds are the reason behind Maya Blue’s resistance.
In addition to palaces and buildings of the Maya nobility, this pigment is traditionally associated with ritual ceremonies conducted by priests, and may even have been used during human sacrifices. Containers holding traces of the pigment found at the bottom of some natural and man-made wells on the Yucatán peninsula point to this ceremonial use.
Studies such as the one published by US anthropologists in 2008 on a bowl found in the Sacred Cenote of Chichén Itzá led some media outlets to state that the mystery of Maya Blue had been solved. “The bowl contained Maya Blue mixed with copal incense so the simplified conclusion was that it was only prepared by warming incense,” stated Doménech.
The researcher believes that the composition and function of Maya Blue could have varied down through the centuries: “Although quite a few samples would be required, it could be possible to establish the evolution in its properties and preparation throughout the Maya culture from approximately 150 B.C. to 800 A.D., in such a way that we could establish a chronology based on analysing the pigment. This provides a far more ‘flexible’ view of this culture, breaking with that traditional monolithic view of inflexible ritualism.”Small greenish balls in La Blanca
In support of this view, the team also recently found other pigments that are different from Maya Blue but follow the same pattern of a plant dye combined with clay. They found small greenish balls with this material in the ancient Maya city of La Blanca, modern day Guatemala, and it is assumed they were used to plaster and decorate the walls of palatial buildings.
“These materials were certainly not within the reach of the common people but they signal a more ‘everyday’ use of the pigments that would not have had to be restricted to ritual or ceremonial activities,” Doménech pointed out and said by way of conclusion: “Maya Blue can be considered a polyfunctional material as it can combine different organic components with an inorganic carrier, which, in addition, can be distributed and react differently, thereby producing functions that are also different.”Contributing Source : FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
But seated at his desk at Duke University, Maurizio Forte knows. Using satellite photos and high-tech imaging technology, he can see what the farmer cannot. And this semester, his students are creating a virtual replica of the hidden villa.
Sounds cool, huh? This is what Forte does. An archaeologist, he uses the latest gadgetry to discover ancient civilizations and piece them back together digitally.
Forte arrived at Duke in January after a five-year stint on the faculty of the University of California’s Merced campus. At Duke he has faculty appointments in the departments of classics and art, art history and visual studies (AAHVS). He will work in a new Smith Warehouse lab being designed for him and other visual artists and scientists. He also expects to spend a great deal of time in the Duke Immersive Virtual Environment facility — the “Dive” — which he will use to poke around and analyze ancient ruins in Turkey, China, Italy and elsewhere.
He wants not to just bring ancient civilizations to life, but to simulate them with an unusual level of detail and accuracy.
“Technology is a wonderful catalyzer, and there are people here from a lot of different backgrounds who together can share a lot of ideas and research,” he said. “I want to make this field very different from the traditional view of it.”
Forte’s path to Duke is unusual for American academia. Born in northern Italy, Forte, 51, became interested in ancient artifacts and history as a youngster when he visited archaeological sites with his parents. After getting his Ph.D. in archaeology in Italy, he went to work at the National Research Council,a government agency in Rome, where he spent a decade running a research laboratory.
That left him with plenty of research experience but little of the traditional academic work needed to move to an American university. But he found an entry point in 2008 at the University of California – Merced, a new campus in that state’s central valley that was ambitious and enough flexible to invest in new multidisciplinary fields. It brought Forte in to work on digital technology and cultural heritage, and he prospered, taking on a number of archaeology projects and bringing students to ancient dig sites all over the world.
“When you’re on a baby campus, you can build things, shape things,” he said. “There was a lot of potential.”
He was drawn to Duke by its reputation for collegiality and collaborative spirit. He points to his dual appointment in classics and AAHVS, an arrangement he says is unusual in academia. And he is looking forward to working with faculty in similar areas of expertise; he’ll share lab space at Smith Warehouse with current Duke faculty involved in the Wired! lab, which uses 3D modeling and other technologies to re-create ancient cities and structures.
“His work depends on teamwork and he really values collaboration,” said Carla Antonaccio, chair of the classics department. “Though he’s trained in Roman archaeology, what he does isn’t bounded by one particular place or culture. He’s interested in all of it.”
Forte’s brand of visual, virtual archaeology is attracting different sorts of grad students to archaeology — those with backgrounds in computer science, environmental science, visual art and architecture as well as classics, Forte said.
“When we have a broader community of students with different skills, we can be more effective in teaching and do better research,” he said. “We donât want to clone people and their backgrounds. We want people to be independent, and students from different backgrounds working together can produce something special.”
At least one core principle will remain, however. In piecing an ancient community back together, either in person or virtually, Forte makes the distinction between re-creating it and simulating it. He isn’t re-creating these ancient communities; that would be presumptuous. Rather, he and his students are applying their knowledge of these ancient places and peoples to make their best educated guesses about how places were designed and how people lived.
And the work they do remains in the public domain, an interactive, digital textbook of sorts for use by other scholars.
“Any scientific approach uses inferences and hypothetical analyses,” he said. “We cannot reconstruct the past, but we can simulate it because the past itself is fluid. Our job is to be open to multiple interpretations and perspectives.”Contributing Source : Duke University HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Australopithecus sediba : Wiki CommonsSpecies identified in 2010 is 1 of closest relatives to humans A dental study of fossilized remains found in South Africa in 2008 provides new support that this species is one of the closest relatives to early humans.
The teeth of this species – called Australopithecus sediba – indicate that it is also a close relative to the previously identified Australopithecus africanus. Both of these species are clearly more closely related to humans than other australopiths from east Africa, according to the new research.
The study, published in the journal Science, revealed that both africanus and sediba shared about the same number of dental traits with the first undeniably human species.
“Our study provides further evidence that sediba is indeed a very close relative of early humans, but we can’t definitively determine its position relative to africanus, said Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg, co-author of the study and professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University.
The research was led by Joel D. Irish, professor of natural sciences at Liverpool John Moores University.
The sediba fossils were found in South Africa in 2008 and first described in a series of articles published in Science in 2010. That study was led by Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, who is also a co-author of this new study.
In this study, Irish, Guatelli-Steinberg and their colleagues extended that work by examining the teeth from sediba and comparing them to eight other African hominin species, which include modern humans from Africa, and extinct species of Homo, Australopithecus, and Paranthropus. In all, the researchers examined more than 340 fossils and 4,571 recent specimens. They also examined teeth from 44 gorillas for comparison.
The focus was on 22 separate traits of tooth crowns and roots that can give clues as to the relationship between the different species studied.
For example, they measured how much one of the incisors was shovel-shaped. Depending on the species in this study, the incisor may have no depression in the back of the tooth, a faint shovel shape, or a trace of that shape.
Researchers use standardized measurements from the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System to compare the teeth on these 22 traits.
The researchers found that on 15 of these traits, sediba and africanus scored the same. Sediba shared 13 traits with Homo erectus, an early human species, which was comparable to how africanus scored.
Sediba and africanus shared five dental traits that weren’t found in earlier australopiths, further showing their close relationship. Both also share five traits with early humans – Homo habilis/rudolfenis and Homo erectus — which weren’t shared with earlier ancestors, demonstrating the close relationship between these two australopiths and the first humans.
Teeth are an excellent way to study relationships between different species, Guatelli-Steinberg said. They are well preserved in the fossil record, and researchers can compare large samples, at least for many ancient species.
In addition, most of the dental traits the researchers used in this analysis don’t have a selective advantage that could help one species survive over another. That means if researchers see a similar trait in two species, they can be more confident that they shared a common ancestor and that the trait didn’t evolve independently.
In many ways, these new dental data support the earlier research on sediba, which included analysis of the inside of the skull, hand, spine, pelvis, foot and ankle, Guatelli-Steinberg said.
“All of the research so far shows that sediba had a mosaic of primitive traits and newer traits that suggest it was a bridge between earlier australopiths and the first humans,” she said.
Guatelli-Steinberg said their dental analysis showed that both africanus and sediba are more closely related to humans than the famous “Lucy” skeleton fossil found in East Africa in 1974. This fossil represented a species, Australopithecus afarensis, that was at one time was thought to be the closest relative of humans.
Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago. Sediba lived 1.977 million years ago, while africanus lived between 3.03 and 2.04 million years ago.
“Our research on teeth can’t definitively settle if either sediba or africanus is more closely related to humans than the other species,” Guatelli-Steinberg said. “But our findings do suggest that both are closely related to each other and are more closely related to humans than afarensis.
“We need to find more sediba remains to help fill in the missing pieces of this evolutionary puzzle.”Contributing Source : Ohio State University HeritageDaily : Palaeoanthropology News
Reconstruction of Au. Sediba. Credit: Lee Berger; University of the WitwatersrandResearchers at Wits University in South Africa, including Peter Schmid from the University of Zurich, have described the anatomy of a single early hominin in six new studies.
Australopithecus sediba was discovered near Johannesburg in 2008. The studies in Science demonstrate how our two million year old ancestor walked, chewed and moved.
The fossils discovered four years ago in Malapa near Johannesburg show a mixture of primitive features of australopiths and advanced features of later human species.
The researchers led by Prof Lee Berger of Wits University are therefore of the opinion that the new species is currently the best candidate for a direct ancestor of our own genus Homo.
Researchers are now presenting new studies, including those of Peter Schmid, who taught and did research at the University of Zurich until he retired. Also involved were UZH students Nakita Frater, Sandra Mathews and Eveline Weissen.
Schmid has described the remains of Au. sediba‘s thorax. “They show a narrow upper ribcage, as the large apes have such as orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas”, says Peter Schmid. The human thorax on the other hand is uniformly cylindrical. Along with the largely complete remnants of the pectoral girdle, we see the morphological picture of a conical ribcage with a raised shoulder joint, which looks like a permanent shrug. The less well-preserved elements of the lower thorax on the other hand indicate a slim waist, similar to that of a human being.Conical ribcage makes it difficult to swing arms when walking
The narrow upper thorax of apes enables them to move the shoulder blade, which is important for climbing and brachiation in trees. Its conical shape makes it difficult, however, to swing their arms when walking upright or running, plus they were a similar length to an ape’s. This is why Schmid assumes that Au. sediba was not able to walk or run on both feet as well as humans. “They probably couldn’t run over longer distances, especially as they were unable to swing their arms, which saves energy”, says Schmid.
An examination of the lower extremities shows a heel, metatarsus, knee, hips and back, which are unique and unprecedented. Sediba must have walked with feet turned sharply inwards. This inward turn distinguishes it from other australopiths. The conclusion to be drawn is that our early ancestors were able to move around in a different way.Arms for climbing and brachiation
Au. sediba was an experienced climber. This is shown by the remains of the upper arm, radius, ulna, scapula, clavicle and fragment of sternum found in Malapa. These clearly belong to a single individual, which is unique in the entire previously known fossil record of the earliest hominins. With the exception of the hand bones described above, the upper extremity is exceptionally original. Au. sediba, like all the other representatives of the Australopithecus genus, had arms that were suitable for climbing as well as possibly for brachiation. Perhaps this capability was even more pronounced than has been assumed for this genus hitherto.Differences from Australopithecus afarensis
Based on the dental crowns the researchers assume that Au. sediba does not belong phylogenetically to the eastern African australopiths but is closer to Au. africanus and thus forms a southern African sister group. This has an impact on our modern understanding of the evolution of early hominins from the late Pliocene. As such, Au. sediba and maybe even Au. africanus were not descended from Au. afarensis.
The lower jaw of the female skeleton was also examined along with previously unknown incisors and premolars. As noted already on the skull and other areas of the skeleton, the mandibular remains show similarities with other australopiths. They differ, however, in size and shape as well as in ontogenetic growth changes of Au. africanus. These results support the hypothesis that Au. sediba is taxonomically different from Au. africanus. In the relevant differences the parts of the lower jaw appear most to resemble those representatives of early Homo.
An analysis of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral region of the spinal column shows that Au. sediba had the same number of lumbar vertebrae as modern man. The strong hollow back suggests that he was more advanced in this area than Au. africanus and may be more likely compared with Homo erectus.
The new studies show a unique image of a human species with a mosaic-like physique. Some body parts are similar to those of earlier and others to those of later hominins. “The numerous similarities with Homo erectus suggest that Au. sediba represents the most appropriate early form of the genus Homo“, says Peter Schmid. The previous candidates are too fragmentary to be capable of occupying this position.Contributing Source : University of Zurich HeritageDaily : Palaeaonthropology News
Euphanerops : WikiCommonsAn unusual fossil fish that has fins behind its anus could have implications for human evolution according to a scientist at The University of Manchester.
Dr Robert Sansom from the Faculty of Life Sciences identified the paired fins of Euphanerops, a fossil jawless fish that swam in the seas around 370 million years ago. The find makes the fish one of the first vertebrate to develop paired appendages such as fins, legs or arms.
However, their positioning is incredibly unusual, as Dr Sansom explains: “Euphanerops is unique because its anal fin is paired meaning there is one fin on each side of the fish. Up until now anal fins have only been seen on jawed fish where they are unpaired and this is true of both extinct and modern fish. The age of Euphanerops is important as it dates from the time of a deep evolutionary split between jawed and jawless fish, the two main divisions of vertebrates alive today. As such, it represents an important stage in the evolution of paired appendages.”
He continues: “It’s not clear why the fins are positioned so far back on the fish, or what advantage they might have provided. However, they do show that our early vertebrate ancestors tried out lots of different body plans before settling on two arms and two legs. If they hadn’t then our bodies would have looked very different!”
Dr Sansom came across the paired fins as part of a study of Euphanerops fossils in Quebec, Canada. 3D surface scans of fossils and comparison of specimens preserved in different conditions revealed that there were two fan-shaped fins, a left and a right.
Dr Sansom’s research on the paired fins followed on from a 2009 study of early vertebrate evolution and fossil preservation with colleagues from The University of Leicester. Their findings have been published in the Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters.
Dr Sansom says it was an exciting find: “The unusual paired anal fin of Euphanerops lends support to the idea that there was some degree of developmental and evolutionary experimentation in some fish. After the Devonian period and the extinction of a lot of species, the jawed vertebrate body exhibits fewer deviations from the formula of paired pectoral, paired pelvic, unpaired dorsal and unpaired anal appendages. The discovery of new anatomical conditions will hopefully shed more light on the timing and sequence of the events underlying the origin and diversification of vertebrate appendages.”Contributing Source : University of Manchester HeritageDaily : Palaeontology News : Palaeontology Press Releases
Hoa Hakananai’a : WikiCommonsA team of archaeologists from the University of Southampton have used the latest in digital imaging technology to record and analyse carvings on the Easter Island statue Hoa Hakananai’a.
James Miles, Hembo Pagi and Dr Graeme Earl from the Archaeological Computing Research Group at the University of Southampton teamed up with archaeologist and editor of British Archaeology Mike Pitts to examine the statue at the Wellcome Trust Gallery in the British Museum, London.
Dr Earl explains: “The Hoa Hakananai’a statue has rarely been studied at first hand by archaeologists, but developments in digital imaging technology have now allowed us to examine it in unprecedented detail.”
Hoa Hakananai’a was brought to England in 1869 by the crew of HMS Topaze. It is traditionally said to have been carved around AD1200. The Island is home to around 1,000 similar statues, but Hoa Hakananai’a is of particular interest because of the intricate carvings on its back.
It is popularly believed that around AD1600 the Easter Islanders faced an ecological crisis and stopped worshipping their iconic statues. The Rapa Nui, as they are known, turned instead to a new birdman religion, or cult. This included a ritual based around collecting the first egg of migrating terns from a nearby islet, Motu Nui. The ‘winner’, whose representative swam to the islet and then back with the egg, was afforded sacred status for a year.
Hoa Hakananai’a survived this shift in religious beliefs by being placed in a stone hut and covered in carved ‘petroglyphs’, or rock engravings, depicting motifs from the birdman cult. As such, it may be representative of the transition from the cult of statues to the cult of the birdman.
The team from the University of Southampton examined Hoa Hakananai’a using two different techniques: Photogrammetric Modelling; which involved taking hundreds of photos from different angles to produce a fully textured computer model of the statue, capable of being rotated in 360 degrees; and Reflectance Transformation Imaging; a process which allows a virtual light source to be moved across the surface of a digital image of the statue, using the difference between light and shadow to highlight never-seen-before details.
James Miles, a PhD student at Southampton, comments: “Despite the wonders of modern technology, creating accurate, detailed geometric models of these kinds of complex surfaces remains a painstaking task. We have more work to do but the virtual versions already provide a more interactive way of studying Hoa Hakananai’a.”
Using these techniques, Mike Pitts and the team made some fascinating discoveries, perhaps the most significant being the apparently simple recognition that a carved bird beak is short and round, not long and pointed as previously described: this allowed the two birdmen on the back to be marked as male and female, unlocking a narrative story to the whole composition relating to Easter Island’s unique birdman cult. They also realised that the statue is one of the few on Easter Island that did not stand on a platform beside the shore. It is now believed to have always stood in the ground, where it was found, on top of a 300 metre cliff.
Mike comments: “Study of the tapering base suggests that rather than being the result of thinning to make it fit into a pit, as often suggested, it is more likely part of the original boulder or outcrop from which it was carved. This may also explain why, as we now see it in the British Museum, it appears to lean slightly to the left – its uneven end resulted in its being incorrectly set into its 19th century plinth.”Other observations from the digital imaging include:
• When it was half-buried by soil and food debris, small designs known as komari, representing female genitalia, were carved on the back of the head.
• At a later date, the whole of the back was covered with a scene showing a male chick leaving the nest, watched by its half-bird, half-human parents – the story at the heart of the birdman ceremony, recorded in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
• A round beak on the right birdman in the scene described above. This can be read as a sign of female gender, and confirmation of the male / female bird ‘parents’. The female birdman is matched by the female komari on the right ear of the statue, and the male on the left by a paddle on the left ear – a symbol of male authority.
• A rounded shape near the lower part of the right birdman, possibly the egg the male chick hatched from. Another possibility is the ring clutched in the two birdmen’s arms has been re-imagined as an egg.
• Faint indications of fingers around the navel, which may have once been more prominent, but later removed.
It’s hoped the imaging carried out by the University of Southampton’s Archaeological Computing Research Group will open new debate on the significance of the engravings of Hoa Hakananai’a on display at the British Museum, which is visited by some six million people every year.
The statue recently featured in the BBC and British Museum project History of the World in 100 Objects. More details can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/qV6Cpj1ITza54IbC7uij6QTo find out more about this project visit:
Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton
British Archaeology Magazine
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Today, I am left wondering… Which politician would I ‘exile’?
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Dra’ Abu el-Naga’ : WikiCommonsThe Djehuty Project, led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), has discovered on the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga in Luxor (ancient Thebes), the burials of four personages belonging to the elite of the 17th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, who lived about 3.550 years ago.
These findings, discovered during the 12th campaign of archeological excavations of the project, shed light on a little-known historical period in which Thebes becomes the capital of the kingdom and the empire’s foundations become established with the dominance of Egypt over Palestine and Syria to the north, and over Nubia to the south.
The project is led by the CSIC researcher José Manuel Galán, from the Institute of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (ILC), and funded by Unión Fenosa Gas and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.
The 17th Dynasty belongs to the historical period called Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (between 1800 and 1550 BC), characterized by the hegemony of rulers of Syrian-Palestinian origin settled in the eastern Delta. This is a period of great political complexity in which the monarchy did not control all the territory and the real power was in the hands of local rulers.Intefmose and Ahhotep
The owner of one of the tombs found was a personage called Intefmose, to whom the three inscriptions found inside (one of them accompanied by a portrait in relief) call “son of the king”. Galán states: “We believe that Intefmose could be the son of Sobekemsaf, one of the first kings of the 17th Dynasty, about whom we barely have historical information”.
The tomb of Intefmose consists of a small chapel built with adobe bricks, erected in front of a shaft-grave (about seven meters deep) that leads to a burial chamber. Through a hole in the back of this room, it is found the access to the burial chamber of a second tomb discovered by archeologists during this campaign.
The second tomb belongs to the high-level official Ahhotep, also called “spokesman of Nekhen”, city better-know as the Greek toponym Hierakonpolis. In the burial chamber, archeologists found (as part of the grave goods) three clay funerary figurines (shabtis), painted and with the deceased’s name written on the front.
Galán adds: “Two of these shabtis were found inside of both small clay sarcophagi, decorated with an inscription on the sides and on the top. The third one was wrapped in nine linen fabrics, as if it was a real mummy, and each of the fabrics had traces of writing in black ink. These figurines have a very original and naïf style, which provides them a special charm and a unique character”.
In addition, during this archeological campaign, Galán and his team unearthed the intact coffin of a boy that lived about 3.550 years ago, as well as a set of shabtis and funerary linens of another child, prince Ahmose-Sapair, who lived during the transition from the 17th to the 18th Dynasty.Tribute of Djehuty to the 17th Dynasty
This series of findings confirm, according to Galán and his team, that the Dra Abu el-Naga hill, on the northern edge of the necropolis of ancient Thebes, was the cemetery of the Royal Family of the 17th and early 18th Dynasties, as well as of their main courtiers. Recent findings help to contextualize the work done during previous campaigns in the tombs of Djehuty, supervisor of the Treasure of Queen Hatshepsut (ca 1470 BC), and Hery, a courtier who lived about 50 years before the said royal scribe.
The head of the Djehuty Project concludes: “Unlike what the rest of courtiers of his time did, around 1470 BC, Djehuty did not place his tomb in the surrounding area of Deir el-Bahari, where the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut was erected, but he chose the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga for his eternal rest, half kilometer further to the north, because that’s where the members of the 17th Dynasty were buried”.
In a fragmented political context, the 17th Dynasty, native to Thebes, the most important southern city, led the reconquest and expulsion of northern rulers (called “Hyksos”), unified the country, and contributed to the germ of a new historical stage in Egypt, the New Empire, the time of the great kings who would forge the Egyptian Empire from its new capital, Thebes.Contributing Source : Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
Elaborately carved wooden lintel or ceiling from a temple in the ancient Maya city of Tikal, Guatemala, that carries a carving and dedication date in the Maya calendar.The Maya are famous for their complex, intertwined calendric systems, and now one calendar, the Maya Long Count, is empirically calibrated to the modern European calendar, according to an international team of researchers.
“The Long Count calendar fell into disuse before European contact in the Maya area,” said Douglas J. Kennett, professor of environmental archaeology, Penn State.
“Methods of tying the Long Count to the modern European calendar used known historical and astronomical events, but when looking at how climate affects the rise and fall of the Maya, I began to question how accurately the two calendars correlated using those methods.”
The researchers found that the new measurements mirrored the most popular method in use, the Goodman-Martinez-Thompson (GMT) correlation, initially put forth by Joseph Goodman in 1905 and subsequently modified by others. In the 1950s scientists tested this correlation using early radiocarbon dating, but the large error range left open the validity of GMT.
“With only a few dissenting voices, the GMT correlation is widely accepted and used, but it must remain provisional without some form of independent corroboration,” the researchers report in today’s (April 11) issue of Scientific Reports.
A combination of high-resolution accelerator mass spectrometry carbon-14 dates and a calibration using tree growth rates showed the GMT correlation is correct.
The Long Count counts days from a mythological starting point. The date is comprised of five components that combine a multiplier times 144,000 days – Bak’tun, 7,200 days – K’atun, 360 days – Tun, 20 days – Winal, and 1 day – K’in separated, in standard notation, by dots.
Archaeologists want to place the Long Count dates into the European calendar so there is an understanding of when things happened in the Maya world relative to historic events elsewhere. Correlation also allows the rich historical record of the Maya to be compared with other sources of environmental, climate and archaeological data calibrated using the European calendar.
The samples came from an elaborately carved wooden lintel or ceiling from a temple in the ancient Maya city of Tikal, Guatemala, that carries a carving and dedication date in the Maya calendar. This same lintel was one of three analyzed in the previous carbon-14 study.
Researchers measured tree growth by tracking annual changes in calcium uptake by the trees, which is greater during the rainy season.
The amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere is incorporated into a tree’s incremental growth. Atmospheric carbon-14 changes through time, and during the Classic Maya period oscillated up and down.
The researchers took four samples from the lintel and used annually fluctuating calcium concentrations evident in the incremental growth of the tree to determine the true time distance between each by counting the number of elapsed rainy seasons. The researchers used this information to fit the four radiocarbon dates to the wiggles in the calibration curve. Wiggle-matching the carbon-14 dates provided a more accurate age for linking the Maya and Long Count dates to the European calendars.
These calculations were further complicated by known differences in the atmospheric radiocarbon content between northern and southern hemisphere.
“The complication is that radiocarbon concentrations differ between the southern and northern hemisphere,” said Kennett. “The Maya area lies on the boundary, and the atmosphere is a mixture of the southern and northern hemispheres that changes seasonally. We had to factor that into the analysis.”
The researchers results mirror the GMT European date correlations indicating that the GMT was on the right track for linking the Long Count and European calendars.
Events recorded in various Maya locations “can now be harmonized with greater assurance to other environmental, climatic and archaeological datasets from this and adjacent regions and suggest that climate change played an important role in the development and demise of this complex civilization,” the researchers wrote.Background:
Other Penn State researchers on this project were Brendan J. Culleton, post doctoral fellow in anthropology; Soumaya Belmecheri, research associate, meteorology; Heather V. Graham, graduate student in geosciences; Katherine H. Freeman, professor of geosciences; and Lee Newsom, associate professor of anthropology.
Other researchers were Irka Hajdas and Gerald H. Haug, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; Simon Martin, University of Pennsylvania Museum; Hector Neff, California State University Long Beach; Jaime Awe, Institute of Archaeology, Belize; David L. Lentz, University of Cincinnati; Flavio S. Anselmetti, University of Bern; Mark Robinson, Louisiana State University; Norbert Marwan, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany; John Southon, University of California Irvine; and David A. Hodell, University of Cambridge, UK.
The National Science Foundation and the German Science Foundation supported this work.Contributing Source : Penn State HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases
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