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duminică, 9 septembrie 2012

See the 'Google pyramids' up close

The place that went viral last month as the potential site of a mysterious Egyptian pyramid looks more like a series of mounds on the surface of Mars when you see it up close. Three weeks after the Dimai archaeological site burst into the spotlight, it's become a lot less mysterious — but there are still secrets to uncover.

The site has been familiar to Egyptologists since the 1920s: It's thought to have been the locale for a desert settlement going back to Egypt's Ptolemaic era, when Greek and Roman influences were on the ascendance. Did these mounds serve as watchtowers, or tombs, or well sites? That's what the Soknopaiou Nesos Project wants to find out. One of the project's directors, Egyptologist Paola Davoli of Italy's University of Salento in Lecce, filled me in about the current state of her group's research last week.

The man who discovered a ‘lost’ wonder of the world

Among Cambridge University Library’s 200 miles of shelving and eight million books  are three soft leather folders and a scrap book volume sitting alongside countless other items in the manuscripts and archives of its Near Eastern collection.

Unremarkable to the casual observer, the  contents of the folders include  personal letters, sketches, bills of sale, letters of introduction and other papers.

Biblical-Type Floods Are Real, and They're Absolutely Enormous

After teaching geology at the University of Washington for a decade, I had become embarrassed that I hadn’t yet seen the deep canyons where tremendous Ice Age floods scoured down into solid rock to sculpt the scablands. So I decided to help lead a field trip for students to see the giant erosion scars on the local landforms.

We drove across the Columbia River and continued eastward, dropping into Moses Coulee, a canyon with vertical walls of layered basalt. We gathered the students on a small rise and asked them how the canyon had formed. They immediately ruled out wind and glaciers. The valley was not U-shaped like a typical glacial valley, and none of us could imagine how wind might gouge a canyon out of hard basalt. But neither were there rivers or streams. After a while I pointed out that we were standing on a pile of gravel. I asked how the rounded granite pebbles came to be there when the closest source of granite lay over the horizon. Silence.