[UPDATE JULY 01 2015 – John is recovering well but still banned from using the computer. Thanks again to everyone who have sent in good wishes for John and to Research Associates who’ve sent in news stories and links recently. I will continue to put up some news stories and update the Skywatching Calendar for him though it will not be possible to do it daily – Polly]
“Rapid phases of warming climate played a greater role in the extinction of megafauna in the Late Pleistocene than did human activity, a new study shows.
The study helps to inform the debate about what killed off megafaunal species (or animals, such as mammoths, over 100 pounds) during the last glacial period, commonly known as the Ice Age – a subject that is highly debated, with some scientists pointing to human hunting and land alteration, and others to climate change.
Using advances in analyzing ancient DNA, radiocarbon dating and other geologic records, an international team led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales (Australia) have revealed that short, rapid warming events, known as interstadials, recorded during the last ice age or Pleistocene (60,000-12,000 years ago) coincided with major extinction events even before the appearance of humans.
‘This abrupt warming had a profound impact on climate that caused marked shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns’, said University of Adelaide lead author and Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Professor Alan Cooper.”
“Archaeologists, Prof. Nicholas Conard and his team member Maria Malina, present the discovery of two fragments of a new female figurine in today’s edition of the journal: Archäologische Ausgrabungen Baden-Württemberg.
The figurine shows similarities with the well-known Venus from Hohle Fels that Prof. Conard published in 2009.
The two pieces of carved mammoth ivory fit together to form a find with dimensions of 23 x 22 x 13 mm.
The find does not appear to be part of a depiction of an animal or lionman, both frequent motifs from the caves of the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany.
Instead, the find shows strong affinities with the only other female figurine known from the region.
The female depictions from Hohle Fels date to 40,000 years ago are the oldest depictions of humans thus far recovered.”
“Scientists in the country have found remnants of a historically important port on Goa’s Zuari River which is expected to be amongst the oldest signs of human trade on the central west coast and may be contemporary to Dwarka in Gujarat.
The researchers say they may discover a dockyard similar in structure to Lothal dockyard (4500 years old), discovered by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Gujarat in 1954.
Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) is working on 1.2 kms long wall along the Zuari River few kms away from here and it is expected to be a part of an old port, existed anywhere between 1,000 to 3,500 AD, that is currently buried.”
“A scene on an obelisk found during excavations in Göbeklitepe, a 12,000-year-old site in the southeastern province of ?anl?urfa, could be humanity’s first pictograph, according to researchers.
‘The scene on the obelisk unearthed in Göbeklitepe could be construed as the first pictograph because it depicts an event thematically.
It depicts a human head in the wing of a vulture and a headless human body under the stela’, Sanliurfa Museum Director and Göbeklitepe excavation head Müslüm Ercan said.
‘There are various figures like cranes and scorpions around this figure. This is the portrayal of a moment; it could be the first example of pictograph. They are not random figures. We see this type of thing portrayal on the walls in 6,000-5,000 B.C. in Çatalhöyük [in modern-day western Turkey].’
Ercan said the artifacts found in Göbeklitepe provided information about ancient burial traditions.
‘There were no graves 12,000 years ago. The dead bodies were left outdoors and raptors ate them. In this way, people believed the soul goes to the sky’, he added.”
“On March 24 536AD the sky suddenly darkened across continental Europe as a thick dust cloud rolled in and stayed put for 18 months.
Historians such as Prokopios record that the Sun shone as dimly as the Moon, sparking summer frosts and snow showers and providing too little light to ripen crops and fruit.
Three years later a similar dust veil blocked out sunlight for several months.
The natural catastrophes led to widespread famine and was responsible for the Great Justinian Plague which wiped out one third of Europeans and probably dealt the fatal blow to the struggling Roman Empire.
Now scientists have determined that the cause was probably a series of North American volcanoes which shot huge amounts of sulphate and ash into the atmosphere, followed by further eruptions in the Tropics.
New studies of ice cores and historical records by the British Antarctic Survey, Nottingham University and 17 other international universities and institutions, show that there was a huge volcanic eruption in 535AD or early 536AD in North America.”
Using tree-ring datasets and comparing them with the most recent work of astronomers and astro-physicists, he deduced that at the the same date, AD536, the Earth had encountered a stream of cometary debris which likely “dustloaded” the upper atmosphere causing effects similar to those described in the above article, but attributed by its authors to volcanic activity.
An excellent case for a good old “Compare & Contrast” exercise for 15-18 year-old students – Ed.]
[In October 1900, Captain Dimitrious Kondos was leading a team of sponge divers near the the island of Antikythera off the coast of Greece. They noticed a shipwreck about 180 feet below the surface and began to investigate. Amongst the artifacts that they brought up was a coral-encrusted piece of metal that later archaeologists found was some sort of gear wheel.
The rest of the artifacts, along with the shape of the boat, suggested a date around 2000 years ago, which made the find one of the most anomalous that had ever been recovered from the Greek seas. It became known as The Antikythera Mechanism.
In 2006 the journal “Nature” published a letter, and another paper about the mechanism was published in 2008, detailing the findings of Prof. Mike G. Edmunds of Cardiff University. Using high-resolution X-ray tomography to study the fragments of the anomalous Antikythera Mechanism, they found that it was in fact a bronze mechanical analog computer that could be used to calculate the astronomical positions and various cycles of the Moon – as seen from the Earth: – Ed]
Part of the Antikythera Mechanism
Antikythera Mechanism Research Project
2000-year-old analog computer recreated
More Antikythera Mechanism Information & Commentary:
“The conventional wisdom says that the devolution of classic Maya civilization occurred because its population grew too large and dense to be supported by primitive neotropical farming methods, resulting in debilitating famines and internecine struggles.
Using research on contemporary Maya farming techniques and important new archaeological research, Ford and Nigh refute this Malthusian explanation of events in ancient Central America and posit a radical alternative theory.
The authors: show that ancient Maya farmers developed ingenious, sustainable woodland techniques to cultivate numerous food plants (including the staple maize) examine both contemporary tropical farming techniques and the archaeological record (particularly regarding climate) to reach their conclusions make the argument that these ancient techniques, still in use today, can support significant populations over long periods of time.”
“Based on the scientific analysis of tree rings, this text argues that the Earth has undergone several catastrophic encounters with comets and their debris in the last five millennia, with mythology preserving the story better than history. It reveals extraterrestrial bombardment events.
This intriguing challenge to traditional views of history, provides explanations for many of the myths and legends that continue to haunt humankind. In particular, it argues that, in the last five millennia, the Earth has undergone several catastrophic encounters with comets and their debris–and that mythology has preserved these events better than so-called “factual” records.”
Around 700 BC an Assyrian scribe in the Royal Place at Nineveh made a copy of one of the most important documents in the royal collection.
Two and a half thousand years later it was found by Henry Layard in the remains of the palace library.
It ended up in the British Museum’s cuneiform clay tablet collection as catalogue No. K8538 (also called “the Planisphere”), where it has puzzled scholars for over 150 years.
In this monograph Bond and Hempsell provide the first comprehensive translation of the tablet, showing it to be a contemporary Sumerian observation of an Aten asteroid over a kilometre in diameter that impacted Köfels in Austria in the early morning of 29th June 3123 BC.”
“Noted British astronomer’s fascinating study of early astronomical knowledge through the interpretation of Stonehenge, Carnac, other megalithic sites. Stone Age sculpture, astronomical computations, radiocarbon dating, many other topics. Over 140 maps, photos, illustrations. “…essential summary of astronomy in the Stone Age”. Bibliography. Index”