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duminică, 17 martie 2013

Gobekli Tepe - Temples Communicating Ancient Cosmic Geography

Figure 1: Floor plans of three
sub-circular buildings at Gobekli Tepe
(Line drawing by Paul D. Burley)
During the 1960s archeologists from the University of Chicago surveyed a prominent ridge in southern Turkey. They found little of interest. In 1994 archeologist Klaus Schmidt visited the same ridge after reading notes the University of Chicago prepared of their survey. What Schmidt is unearthing on a rounded crest – Gobekli Tepe (Potbelly Hill) - of the ridge is stunning.

Since the early 1900s the human transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer was understood to have occurred over several thousand years, culminating in development of cities by about 6000 BCE in Sumer, the area located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in south-central Iraq. However the architecture of Gobekli Tepe is evidence of social organization and monumental construction that are far earlier than expected. Five-ton megalithic (mega: large, lithic: of rock) limestone pillars stand 18 feet above the floor of sub-circular structures, completed with stone and clay mortar walls and founded on bedrock below the surrounding ground surface. Floor plans of three of these buildings are shown in Figure 1. The pillars include bas relief of various animals – mostly predatory – such as wild boars, lions, foxes, scorpions, frogs, vultures, and other birds. The purpose of the structures remains unknown, but Schmidt interprets them as temples associated with an early organized religion in which animals were deified.

Iowa meteorite crater confirmed

Recent airborne geophysical surveys near Decorah, Iowa are providing an unprecedented look at a 470-million-year-old meteorite crater concealed beneath bedrock and sediments.

The aerial surveys, a collaboration of the U.S. Geological Survey with the Iowa and Minnesota Geological Surveys, were conducted in the last 60 days to map geologic structures and assess the mineral and water resources of the region.

“Capturing images of an ancient meteorite impact was a huge bonus,” said Paul Bedrosian, a USGS geophysicist who is leading the effort to model the recently acquired geophysical data. “These findings highlight the range of applications that these geophysical methods can address.”

Archaeological crusade: US tries to save ancient treasures

TORONTO — The fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones has long enthralled movie audiences, taking on assorted villains in quests to find mythical treasures, with some limited help from the government.

Minus any bullwhips, the real-life U.S. State Department works with other federal departments in a journey to protect important archaeological sites and ancient treasures in the face of conflict, according to professional archaeologists Morag Kersel and Christina Luke in their new book "U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Archaeology: Soft Power, Hard Heritage" (Routledge, 2012).

Coral Clocks

Uranium dating of coral tools used by the earliest settlers of the South Pacific island kingdom of Tonga offers unprecedented precision in reconstructing their history.

About 3,000 years ago, inhabitants of New Guinea set their sights east and headed out to sea, sparking an expansion of humanity across thousands of miles to islands scattered across the South Pacific. Archaeologists have been able to track the migration of these pioneers, a group called the Lapita, by their distinctive pottery. But now, researchers are using advanced chemistry involving the coral tools used by these early explorers to more accurately reconstruct their maritime peregrinations.