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.


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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