Yesterday was a national holiday here in Burundi, commemorating the shooting down of the plane containing the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda, and the beginning of the awful genocide in Rwanda. I was in Nairobi at the time, and have graphic visions of what took place, which I will blog about this week.
Portolan charts, it was always assumed, were compiled by medieval European mapmakers from contemporary sources. A Dutch doctoral dissertation now disproves this: these nautical charts are impossibly accurate, not just for medieval Europe, also for other likely sources, the Byzantines and the Arabs. So who made them – and when?
How Climate Change Influenced the End of the Late Bronze Age National Review Online (blog) According to archeologist Eric H. Cline in his new book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, the great ancient civilizations of the Egyptians, the Hittites, the Mycenaens, the Canaanites, and the Cypriots in the Late Bronze Age may have fallen in large part due to climate change, nearly three millennia before mankind’s first industrial revolution.
Believe it or not, rice, our staple crop, was not introduced to our island by Aryan migrants from Eastern India around the 5th century BC as had been previously supposed. Rather its cultivation seems to go back to pre-historic times, in all probability to Sri Lanka’s Stone Age
Irving Finkel, curator, British Museum I've just come from the press conference launching my new book, The Ark Before Noah. As I told the journalists, it all started with a fairly normal event for ...
diana buja's insight:
"This tablet, however, turned out to be one in a million. The cuneiform was a sixty-line passage from the ancient Babylonian Story of the Flood. This story had been well known since the 1870s, when George Smith, a brilliant decipherer who worked at the British Museum, first identified the story known from the Book of Genesis in a seventh-century cuneiform tablet from Nineveh. The two accounts – Babylonian and biblical – were closely related. The new tablet, however, written in about 1750 BC, has startling new contents...
A course with Ömür Harmanşah Water is the source of life. In the midst of a global climate change, environmental crises for water resources and the political debates over water, we have come to the...
diana buja's insight:
Dr. Harmansah is Professor of Archaeology and Egyptology and Western Asian Studies at Brown - one of the 'new breed' of researchers who are busily combining various fields that historically have been treated as separate enclaves.
Slope deposits in North Pare provide evidence of two millennia of anthropogenically driven land clearance, soil erosion and land degradation. Drawing on deposit stratigraphy, soil magnetic parameters, stable carbon isotope composition and radiocarbon dating, three phases of soil erosion are distinguished characterized by distinct surface processes and increasing levels of agricultural land use.
Onset of slope deposit formation in Pare since about 300 BC documents soil erosion as an immediate consequence of new land use practices associated with the spread of agriculture and iron working across northern Tanzania. By AD 500, slope deposits extended into valley bottoms and to middle slopes suggesting catchment-wide land clearance and soil erosion. In the 15th century AD, progressive anthropogenic soil erosion had exhausted the topsoil resource and material changes of the slope deposits reflect widespread subsoil erosion. The exposure of subsoils represents an ecological tipping point and triggered the transition to a new morphodynamic framework dominated by runoff-based erosion processes that are recorded as sand lenses and sand layers. The most recent deposits show ongoing accelerated erosion and severe land degradation whilst cessation of sand lens preservation indicates pre-colonial intensification of agricultural land use. Land use changes and socioeconomic transitions associated with the establishment of the Ugweno chiefdom and the 19th-century caravan trade are discussed as possible responses to imperceptible long-term land degradation in Pare.
The study demonstrates that anthropogenic soil erosion and not external climatic drivers shaped landscape development in Pare and shows that the identification of environmental thresholds is essential for the assessment of resilience in human-dominated ecosystems.
It has long been recognised that organisms living in the soil are important for making nitrogen available to plants and for storing carbon in the soil but a new paper in PNAS by de Vries et al, Soi...
diana buja's insight:
Comprehensive studies of soil, such as this on, are so labor and finance intensive that similar studies in developing countries may not be possible. What are the next 'best bet' options?
In Sudan (el-Obeid area) we discovered local farmers identified a soil type that was not identified by researchers. The farmer-identified soil type was linked to specific forms of cropping. That, in itself, was reason enough to conduct our less intensive, but more farmer-centered study,of soils.
Similar findings here in Burundi, regarding micro-catchment soil types - identified by farmers - especially in wetland areas.
But the weakness of these studies relates to their less specific results.
As the study in the attached research notes:
"Researchers found a strong link between soil biodiversity and the performance of ecosystems, in particular on carbon and nitrogen cycling. Indeed soil biodiversity was a greater predictor of C and N cycling than land use. Intensive wheat rotation was found to reduce soil biodiversity across the food web in all countries. The authors hope that this and other research will lead to the development of sound land management practices that support soil biodiversity, in turn increasing the productivity of land while mitigating climate change.
Humans today eat gorillas and chimpanzees, so why would our prehistoric ancestors flinch at sitting down to a nicely roasted Neanderthal?
That's the shocking new hypothesis being raised by anthropologists in Spain who wonder if our closest extinct relative was exterminated in the same way as 178 other large mammals, so called megafauna, which are suspected of going at least partially by the hand of hungry human hunters.
"Except in its native Africa, in the other continents Homo sapiens can be considered as an invasive alien species," write researchers Policarp Hortolà and Bienvenido Martínez-Navarro of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain. They published their hypothesis in the May issue of the journal Quaternary International.
Charred grains of barley, millet and wheat deposited nearly 5,000 years ago at campsites in the high plains of Kazakhstan show that nomadic sheepherders played a surprisingly important role in the early spread of domesticated crops throughout a mountainous east-west corridor along the historic Silk Road, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.
“Our findings indicate that ancient nomadic pastoralists were key players in an east-west network that linked innovations and commodities between present-day China and southwest Asia,” said study co-author Michael Frachetti, PhD, an associate professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University and principal investigator on the research project.
CAIRO: 200 artifacts of Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s treasures were transferred Thursday to the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum in, Mohamed Mostafa, head of GEM, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The artifacts are being renovated and prepared for display in a separate hall dedicated to the young pharaoh, said Mostafa.
“The new section is seven times bigger than the pharaoh’s section in the Egyptian museum in Tahrir Square,” said Mostafa, who added that the new hall will operate with the most updated technology systems.
Other artifacts, including limestone sphinxes and granite pillars, have been transferred to the GEM, member of GEM’s transferring artifacts committee Basem Hamad told Al-Balad news website.
“Archaeologists and professors of antiquity renovation have been consulted before taking the decision to transfer Egypt’s treasures to the Grand Egyptian Museum,” said Hamad, who added that the artifacts will be transported through a convoy and secured by police forces.
On Aug. 25, 2006, after years of controversy and logistical headaches, a colossal pink granite statue of Ramses II was transferred in one piece from Cairo’s busy Ramses Square to the GEM.
The transfer was carried out during a high-risk overnight operation through Cairo’s streets on a 27-metre motorized convoy.
The technique used in lifting the statue is similar to the one used by ancient Egyptians in lifting the pyramid’s blocks, according to Zahi Hawass, former Minister of Antiquities.
The GEM is being built over an area of 117 acres and is considered the biggest-ever Pharaonic museum worldwide. Its foundation stone was laid in February 2002.
Under the supervision of UNESCO and the International Union of Architects (UIA), an International Architectural Competition to design the GEM was launched in 2002. The design of an Irish architect firm named Heneghan Peng was chosen.
The cost of the project is estimated at $550 million and is being funded by Japanese JICA and a fund raising campaign. It is expected to be inaugurated in mid-August 2015.
Hausa/Fulani pre-colonial political system can be credited to the Holy Jihad fought by Uthman Danfodio in 1804. They can be found in the Northern part of Nigeria covering areas like Kaduna, Sokoto,...
diana buja's insight:
Brief summary of pre-colonial administrative conditions in northern Nigeria. The coloial Brits seemed a bit stymmied - here were highly literate persons who were quite unlike residents in southern Nigeria and other African areas of British colonialism.
A tomb newly excavated at an ancient cemetery in Egypt would have boasted a pyramid 7 meters (23 feet) high at its entrance, archaeologists say.
diana buja's insight:
-- Cahail believes that Horemheb's family had military ties that allowed them to afford such an elaborate tomb. Another burial chamber, this one missing a sarcophagus, contains shabti figurines that were crafted to do the work of the deceased in the afterlife. Writing on the figurines say that they are for the "Overseer of the Stable, Ramesu (also spelled Ramesses)." This appears to be a military title and it’s possible that Ramesu was the father or older brother of Horemheb, Cahail said.
While the study of plants alongside archaeological projects has long been established within Europe and the Near East, for much of Africa such studies are much rarer. This volume represents an important contribution to this growing focus of research, and provides an important corpus of work both for the archaeobotanist and African archaeologist alike.
The twenty-two newly-authored chapters are divided into four major areas of study; the archaeobotanies of hominids during the Palaeolithic, the West African Neolithic, the role of plants in the economies and structure of complex societies, and finally a series of case studies that apply new techniques and approaches to African archaeological analyses. The themes of the papers cover such diverse topics as primate plant use, diet and evolution, palaeoenvironmental change, domestication, agriculture, iron production and historical linguistics.
We have continued to work on the mortuary temple that we think was devoted to the cult of a dead king (or maybe all the dead kings and queens in the cemetery). It’s a large building, and we have now nearly excavated the entire outer room with 26 columns. Stay tuned for a photo within the next week...
Even as publics in many of the surveyed Muslim-majority countries express a clear preference for women to dress conservatively, many also say women should be able to decide for themselves what to wear.
The presence in S.E. Spain of Vitis vinifera L. seeds at prehistoric siites of the 3rd millennium B.C., and pollen at Quaternary stations, are considered in the light of conflicting views about the origins of cultivation of the grape and their relation to spontaneous and subspontaneous Vitis in Western Mediterranean Europe. It is proposed that new findings from Spain cast doubt on the widely-held view that Vitis exploitation there is no older than Classical times. Botanical as well as archaeological arguments are put forward to support a greater antiquity of exploitation of Vitis in Mediterranean prehistory, based on a critical review of the literature about both palaeobotanical finds of Vitis and the modern distribution of spontaneous Vitis in the Mediterranean basin and adjacent regions.
Info. on ancient history and distribution of grape vines - it's greater antiquity than normally presented. There is quite early recording of (domestic?) grapes in ancient Egypt and I'll try to find the reference
Agriculture originated across a broader swath of southwestern Asia’s Fertile Crescent, and over a longer time period, than many scientists have thought, excavations in western Iran suggest.
Between 11,700 and 9,800 years ago, residents of Chogha Golan, a settlement in the foothills of Iran’s Zagros Mountains, went from cultivating wild ancestors of modern crops to growing a form of domesticated wheat called emmer, say archaeobotanist Simone Riehl of the University of Tübingen, Germany, and her colleagues. Until now, most evidence of farming’s origins came from sites 700 to 1,500 kilometers west of Chogha Golan, the scientists report in the July 5Science.
Dongola Citadel is located on the uplifted rock on the bank of the Nile. It was surrounded by fortifications built in the late fifth and sixth centuries. In the past, archaeologists stumbled upon its walls, but never before so well preserved fragments. This year, they unveiled the tower preserved to a height of more than 8 m.
diana buja's insight:
Massive fortifications - vs. Bishari and other pastoral groups - perhaps also from Egypt ?