Explorers and Scientists explore 3,000-year-old burial ground that may reveal secrets of Polynesian migration

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.29: Scientists and explorers have long tried to understand how Polynesia came to be settled; the shape and contour of one ancient skull may provide a clue

Evidence from an ancient graveyard has begun to illuminate one of the great mysteries of the human journey: the peopling of the Pacific. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that the shape and contours of the earliest skull in a 3,000-year-old burial ground in Vanuatu, a group of islands once known as the New Hebrides,suggests a starting point for the great Polynesian migration.

This enduring question was directly framed by Captain Cook, the great 18th century navigator, on his third voyage, when he stopped at the Hawaiian islands. He wrote in his journal: “How shall we account for this Nation spreading itself so far over this Vast ocean?

We find them from New Zealand to the South, to these islands to the North, and from Easter Island to the Hebrides.”

Guardian.com

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Featured: King Tut’s Beard brought back to life with a little beeswax

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.29: CAIRO—A 9-week restoration of King Tutankhamun’s golden mask has been successfully completed and the artifact is now once again on display in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

The mask’s elongated beard snapped off while museum staff worked on the display in August 2014. An attempt to restore the royal beard with epoxy followed. The latest conservation efforts began in October 2015. The objective was not only to reattach the beard, but the restoration taking 9-weeks will also to undertake a full-scale study of the mask using the museum archives as reference, which hasn’t been done before.

Concern over Tut’s beard dates back to 1922, when Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered. “The study of the mask showed that its beard was detached and was not fixed back till 1946” says Christian Eckmann—the German expert who lead the mask’s restoration team—in a press conference that unveiled the mask after restoration. Eckmann is a conservator with a specialization in glass and metal, the two main components of the golden mask. He had previously restored and conserved several Egyptian artifacts, notably the two copper statues of King Pepi I, and the golden head of Horus.

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“The 2014 damage was exaggerated, since the beard was previously detached as the examination showed,” says Friederike Fless, the president of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo, one of the German and Egyptian bodies that cooperated in the restoration process.

The restoration process started with a full 3D scan with a light pattern projection scanner to record and document the mask’s status, followed by the removal of the inadequately applied glue. No chemicals were used to remove the resin—instead, the team worked millimeter by millimeter with wooden tools after raising the temperature of the mask. This step alone took more than four weeks.

“The process has uncovered two surprises, the first is that beard has an internal tube that connects it to the mask’s face, and the second is that the 1946 reattachment of the beard was done using soft solder,” says Mamdouh Eldamaty, the Egyptian minister of antiquities.
Picture of King Tutankhamun’s golden mask on display

A picture taken in 2009 shows the mask on display, spotlighted in a specially darkened exhibition gallery, in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Photograph by KHALED DESOUKI, AFP/GettyImages

Ancient techniques were implemented in the restoration process; The team has used beeswax as an adhesive since it was a common material in ancient Egypt, and because it’s an organic material that poses less risk of damaging the metal of the mask.

The beard on the mask wasn’t how Tut’s actual facial hair looked. The false beard was an important symbol in ancient Egypt—it was one of the ways Egyptian kings identified themselves with Osiris, the god of the underworld. Unlike in real life at the time, where facial hair was considered a sign of a low social status, wearing a false beard with an upturned end, like King Tutankhamun, was a sign of divinity.

The information gathered from the scans of the mask and details of the restoration will be published in a forthcoming book.

During the restoration process, a 3D hologram of the mask was on display, but starting December 17, museum visitors can enjoy the real mask, and will be allowed to take photographs of it and the entire collection of the museum for one month.

2015 has been a big year for King Tut admirers. This summer, National Geographic grantee Nicholas Reeves theorized that hidden chambers in Tut’s tomb might lead to the burial place of Queen Nefertiti. Scans of the tomb reveal there may, in fact, be two rooms hidden behind walls, and further examination of the space is expected in the coming months.

Khaled El Samman is a staff writer with Rawi Magazine.
Source: National Geographic

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FEATURED: 6 modern #archaeology tools for locating sites before digging!

Six tools that are revolutionising archaeology by helping us find sites without digging ~Mark Horton, Professor in Archaeology, University of Bristol, Volker Heyd, Reader in prehistoric archaeology, University of Bristol, THE CONVERSATION, December 7, 2015.

In the past decade there has been a quiet revolution in archaeology, virtually allowing archaeologists to see through the ground without digging. Advances in geophysics, soil chemistry and remote sensing are speeding up the discovery of ancient sites and helping archaeologists understand them on a global scale.

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.15: Below is our list of the top six of these techniques. While each is valuable on its own, the future will lie in combining them – possibly one day creating a GPS-linked virtual reality that will take the observer below the ground.

While you won’t find actual artefacts in this way, and cannot date what you see, this approach is much more sustainable than actually digging and possibly risking damaging objects. Instead, it leaves the buried archaeology for future generations when techniques of excavation might be even better.

1. Google Earth

Satellite imagery such as Google Earth, Microsoft’s Bing and Nasa’s World Wind has made it possible to zoom into even the most remote corners of the globe to locate sites. By helping to spot things like settlement mounds or enclosures, it can help draw attention to places where such sites may be found. Aerial photographs have been used in this way since the 1930s, but these were typically difficult to access. The universal availability of Google Earth has therefore made it a fantastic tool for professional and citizen scientists alike. However there are many pitfalls in interpretation of satellite images that can only be resolved on the ground.

2. LIDAR


Image of the Late Hallstatt princely hillfort, c. 550-450 BC, covered nowadays in dense wood. Tincry project V. Heyd & B. Koscher,Author provided

Archaeological sites often leave surface traces of what is buried beneath the soil. We have long laboured in manually mapping elusive “humps and bumps” often using hachures, a form of representation invented in 1799. Now Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology produces detailed three-dimensional maps of the Earth’s surface in a fraction of the time. In principle working like a table scanner but operated from a plane, laser beams are directed to the ground, while connected to an accurate GPS and an inertia measurement system, generating a point cloud image of the ground surface. One advantage of LIDAR is that it can often see through vegetation, locating sites otherwise obscured by woodland or tropical forests.

3. Drones


Drone taking aerial images. Flying Eye/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

Archaeologists have been using drones for a number of years to capture sites from the air. Before that, we used a variety of homemade kites, helium balloons and model planes – filling the gap between aerial photographs and images taken from the top of Landrovers and shaky ladders. Drones can take photographs in low light and in frost and snow conditions when the archaeology can better visualised. One particular application is to mimic LIDAR, by taking overlapping vertical images, and with ground control (typically paper plates at fixed points) it is possible to generate three-dimensional point cloud imagery, using standard software packages. In the not too distant future it will be possible to mount LIDAR directly onto drones.

4. Shallow geophysics


Magnetic survey. Tapatio/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

Geophysical techniques can help locate targets to investigate. Soil resitivity for example is a measure of how much the soil resists the flow of electricity. It can uncover differences in soil moisture to reveal buried structures and can reliably range up to around 1.5 metres in depth. However it is slow, as probes have to be inserted into the ground at regular intervals, but it can produce highly detailed results. Magnetometerymeasures the intensity of the earth’s magnetic field. This can reflect the pattern of archaeological features created through either burning, or by soil bacteria that can leave magnetic traces in the soil. It is a fast technique, and has proven especially good for desert sites, such as in ancient Egypt. Recently, sensitive magnetometers with multiple sensors, mounted on a cart and linked to GPS, are capable of surveying many hectares in real-time a day and revealing entire landscapes, such as those around Stonehenge.

5. Soil geochemistry

Traces of faeces from both humans and animals around ancient settlements can stay in the soil for millennia. It has long been known that by recording patterns of heavy metals in the soil, it may be possible to locate these ancient sites. This is especially important if there are little or no artefacts left behind. One way to carry out such measurements is by collecting samples and analysing them in the lab. But in the last few years, portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy measurers (pXRF) have become available, enabling rapid in-the-field recording of samples. They work by emitting X-rays that the atoms of the sample absorb. This boosts the energy of the atoms, which in response emit secondary x-rays at a unique energy that reveals the elements the sample is made of.

6. Ground penetrating radar


Ground penetrating radar survey of an archaeological site in Jordan. Archaeo-Physics LLC/wikimedia

When ground penetrating radar, which uses radar pulses to image the ground, was first applied to archaeology in the early 1980s, it was believed to be the answer to many problems in archaeology. But while the technology gradually improved, archaeologists were not impressed. The early use of such radar produced sections through the deposits. However, there were endless cases of false positives. Recently, software has come to the rescue of the technology, by allowing three-dimensional modelling, making visualisation much more reliable. One advantage of ground penetrating radar is that it works in confined spaces and through hard surfaces. But interpreting the results remains a problem. Be very sceptical of hidden Egyptian tombs and Nazi trains.

Original Article: https://truthaholics.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/6-modern-archaeology-tools-for-locating-sites-before-digging/

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FEATURED: Rapid Film merged with Path’e and Pathé-Natan, was born the country’s leading studio throughout the 1930s

French film producer Bernard Natan, deputy director of Pathé cinema, who was killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.15: La Fémis, the French national film school, occupies a space at number 6, rue Francoeur in Montmartre, Paris. The building is a former film studio, naturally enough. It was built in 1929 for a company called Rapid Film, owned by a man called Bernard Natan. When Natan bought a much more famous outfit, Pathé, he merged the two organisations, and Pathé-Natan, the country’s leading studio throughout the 1930s was born.

Today, there is a plaque at La Fémis commemorating Natan, the founder of the building, a man vitally important to French film history. The plaque, which was unveiled at the end of 2014, states that he died in 1942 at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Between the second world war and the establishment of this small memorial, few people talked about Natan, his sad death, or his contribution to cinema. Many people that did mention his name called him a criminal, or a deviant. With Natan’s legitimate achievements erased from the history of the business he devoted his life to, rumours swirled in to fill the void. Instead of being known as the saviour of the French film industry, Natan was called a pornographer and a crook.

Watch the trailer for Natan.

Not everyone fell for the gossip. A fascinating documentary film called Natan, directed by David Cairns and Paul Duane and newly available on DVD, attempts to separate the facts from the slander. It’s a grim, but enthralling watch – despite its sensational subject matter, it’s a cool-headed investigation into an unpalatable slice of film history. Unfortunately, despite his late recognition on the Rue Francoeur, Natan’s story remains a very sad one indeed.

Natan Tannenzaft was born in Romania in 1886. He first arrived in Paris in the early 1900s and, because he loved the cinema, he immediately began working in the moving picture business. He held various jobs, including working as a projectionist, and developing films in a lab. In 1909, he married a French woman and they went on to have two children, little girls. In the first world war, he volunteered to fight for France, and returned to Paris wounded, but decorated for bravery. In 1921 he successfully applied for French citizenship, changing his name to Bernard Natan. Twenty years later he would be imprisoned, stripped of that citizenship, labelled “the most dangerous Jew in France” and sent to certain death at Auschwitz.

Bernard Natan

Nicknamed ‘the Pathé swindler’ … Bernard Natan Photograph: Pathé-Natan

Natan’s crime appears to have been to be successful, and Jewish, in an era of antisemitism and fear. In the 1920s, Natan was the owner of Rapid, which had exclusive rights to film the 1924 Paris Olympics, and ran studios where silent-era luminaries such as Marcel l’Herbier made groundbreaking films. At the end of that decade, he took over the exhibition and production sectors of Pathé and turned that company around. Without him, the French cinema industry was at risk of foundering, having failed to recover from the dry period of the first world war, and unready to embrace the disruption of the 1930s. Without Natan, Pathé would most likely not have embraced sound film-making, revived its famous newsreels nor moved into diverse areas from radio and television to home projection and anamorphic photography.

In his time at Pathé, he also produced some of the masterpieces of French 1930s cinema, including Raymond Bernard’s Wooden Crosses (1932), a powerful war film made all the stronger by the fact that it was created by and starred so many veterans of the 1914-18 conflict, including Natan himself.

But this is where the story begins to get very murky – and veers in two different directions. According to contemporary rumours, which have been recently revived by people from American academic Joseph Slade to lead singer of the Pixies Black Francis (in his illustrated novel The Good Inn), all the time that Natan was the chief executive of the Pathé studio, he led a double-life as a pornographer. Natan is not suggested to have been a porn film producer, but actually an actor, in boundary-pushing silent stag movies involving practices previously, or indeed still, taboo – homosexual acts, sadomasochism, and bestiality. It’s a charge as ludicrous as it is lurid, and it boggles the mind to think that one of the country’s leading businessmen would take on such work. There is absolutely no evidence to confirm the story. For anyone who still harbours doubts, in Cairns and Duane’s documentary, headshots of Natan are shown next to discreet excerpts from the films.

The truth is somewhat less sensational, but outrageous in its own way. Pathé was hit by the financial crises of the 1930s, and Natan was struck by the surge of antisemitism in France. When the studio went bankrupt, Natan was accused of fraud and nicknamed “the Pathé swindler”; newspaper reports revealed his “hidden” Jewishness and his name was dragged through the mud. Filmed in the dock during his trial, Natan is shown hiding his face behind a newspaper and saying: “This is not a comedy, this a tragedy.” The recording was manipulated so that his words are spoken in a ridiculous, Mickey-Mouse squeak. This is when the stories about the stag films began to circulate, from industry rumours to a grim illustrated report in Paris-Match. Natan was convicted and sent to prison in 1939. In 1941, his portrait featured prominently in a racist Paris exhibition called Le Juif et la France, and Natan was stripped of his French nationality. He was released a year later, but as he was no longer a citizen, he was sent with a transport of Romanian Jews from the Drancy camp in Paris to Auschwitz (with a note to Adolf Eichmann, pointing out who he was). He never came home again.

Dead, and defamed, Natan’s name was consistently missed out of the standard histories of French cinema, but still the rumours persisted. When the pornography stories surfaced again in a journal article by Slade in 1993, Natan went from a forgotten man to a dirty joke – the saucy, crooked Jew who thought he could make a legitimate career in a booming business. For his family, these lies are upsetting, but the damage spreads further than that. We owe it to our understanding of the cinema, and of immigration, to remember the name Natan.

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OBITUARY: Norman Harris sports writer & activist who coined the word jogger

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.15: Norman Harris, who has died aged 75, was more than just a noted sportswriter – he was a sporting activist who gave momentum to the jogging boom in the 1970s. He even claimed to have coined the word jogger. Typically, it amused Norman rather than annoyed him that others disputed this. He reckoned he introduced the word in the New Zealand Herald in 1962 when he called a group of middle-aged runners, who were in search of a name, the Auckland Joggers’ Club. He liked the idea that he had started a semantic argument.

Youngest of five children of Edward and Ruby Harris, Norman grew up on a farm near Ngaruawahia, New Zealand, attended Hamilton high school and briefly went to Auckland University before abandoning his parents’ plans for him to go into teaching in favour of taking up a radio copywriter’s job. He joined the New Zealand Herald in 1959.

Media Guardian.com

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Julius Caesar battlefield unearthed in southern Netherlands

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.12: Archaeologists claim carbon dating of ancient weapons found in Kessel proves Roman emperor led massacre of Germanic tribes on Dutch soil

Archaeologists claim to have proved that Julius Caesar set foot on what is now Dutch soil, destroying two Germanic tribes in a battle that left about 150,000 people dead.

The tribes were massacred in the fighting with the Roman emperor in 55BC, on a battle site now in Kessel, in the southern province of Brabant.

Continue reading…

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Pope Saint Damasus commissioned St Jerome to translate the scriptures into Latin the vulgate version of the bible

#AceHistoryNews – Dec.11: All lovers of Scripture have reason to celebrate this day. Damasus was the pope who commissioned Saint Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin, the Vulgate version of the Bible.

Damasus was a sixty-year-old deacon when he was elected bishop of Romein 366. His reign was marked by violence from the start when another group decided to elect a different pope. Both sides tried to enforce their selections through violence. Though the physical fighting stopped, Damasus had to struggle with these opponents throughout his years as pope.

Damasus may not have won this battle directly, but he won the war by initiating works that outlasted all his opponents. Not only did he commission the Vulgate translation but he also changed the liturgical language of the Church from Greek to Latin. He worked hard to preserve and restore the catacombs, the graves of the martyrs, and relics.

Damasus was a writer — but he didn’t author many-volumed treatises as other Christian writers did. Damasus liked to write epigrams in verse: short sayings that capture the essence of what needed to be said. He wrote many epigrams on martyrs and saints. And he wrote one about himself that shows his humility and the respect he had for the martyrs. In a Roman cemetery is the papal crypt he built. All that is left of him there, however, is this: ” I, Damasus, wished to be buried here, but I feared to offend the ashes of these holy ones.” Instead, when he died in 384, he was buried with his mother and sister.

From the Decree of Damasus (attributed to Damasus):

The arrangement of the names of Christ, however, is manifold: Lord, because He is Spirit; Word, because He is God; Son, because He is the only-begotten son of the Father; Man, because He was born of the Virgin; Priest, because He offered Himself as a sacrifice; Shepherd, because He is a guardian; Worm, because He rose again; Mountain, because He is strong; Way, because there is a straight path through Him to life; Lamb, because He suffered; Corner-Stone, because instruction is His; Teacher, because He demonstrates how to live; Sun, because He is the illuminator; Truth, because He is from the Father; Life, because He is the creator; Bread because He is flesh; Samaritan, because He is the merciful protector; Christ, because He is anointed; Jesus, because He is a mediator; Vine, because we are redeemed by His blood; Lion, because he is king; Rock, because He is firm; Flower, because He is the chosen one; Prophet, because He has revealed what is to come.

From The Faith of the Early Fathers , by William A. Jurgens, Copyright 1970, the Order of St. Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota

In His Footsteps:

Damasus’ love and respect for Scripture is shown in his authorization of the Vulgate translation. Spend 30 minutes today reading and meditating on Scripture. Try to make this a daily habit. One way to do this is keep a Bibleopen by your bedside and read it first thing in the morning and last thing before you turn out the light at night.

Prayer: Saint Damasus, instead of worrying about the short term of life on earth, you took God’s view and looked to the things that last. Pray for me that I may be able to look beyond immediate popularity and fleeting favors, and choose to do the things that God wants me to do. Amen

Source: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=41

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