Computer Models Find Ancient Solutions to Climate Change at Chaco Canyon

From the perspective of this writer, I am pleased to witness the sciences of ancient text, archaeology,  and anthropology connect the cycles of new with the cycles of old. Now, we might just get a better understanding and ‘preparedness’ for natural cyclical events such as that of warming and cooling trends the Earth has seen all her life.

Washington State University archaeologists are at the helm of new research using sophisticated computer technology to learn how past societies such as Chaco Canyon responded to climate change. Their work, which links ancient climate and archaeological data, could help modern communities identify new crops and other adaptive strategies when threatened by drought, extreme weather and other environmental challenges.

In a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, assistant professor of anthropology, and WSU colleagues Stefani Crabtree, Kyle Bocinsky and Tim Kohler examine how recent advances in computational modeling are reshaping the field of archaeology.

“For every environmental calamity you can think of, there was very likely some society in human history that had to deal with it,” said Kohler, emeritus professor of anthropology at WSU. “Computational modeling gives us an unprecedented ability to identify what worked for these people and what didn’t.”

Kohler is a pioneer in the field of model-based archaeology. He developed sophisticated computer simulations, called agent-based models, of the interactions between ancestral peoples in the American Southwest and their environment.

WSU researchers also used crop-niche modeling to identify a viable alternative food source on the Tibetan Plateau. Rapidly rising temperatures make it difficult for the region’s inhabitants to grow cold weather crops and raise and breed yaks, a staple form of subsistence.

He launched the Village Ecodynamics Project in 2001 to simulate how virtual Pueblo Indian families, living on computer-generated and geographically accurate landscapes, likely would have responded to changes in specific variables like precipitation, population size and resource depletion.

By comparing the results of agent-based models against real archaeological evidence, anthropologists can identify past conditions and circumstances that led different civilizations around the world into periods of growth and decline.

Agent-based modeling is also used to explore the impact humans can have on their environment during periods of climate change.

One study mentioned in the WSU review demonstrates how drought, hunting and habitat competition among growing populations in Egypt led to the extinction of many large-bodied mammals around 3,000 B.C. In addition, d’Alpoim Guedes and Bocinsky, an adjunct faculty member in anthropology, are investigating how settlement patterns in Tibet are affecting erosion.

Species distribution or crop-niche modeling is another sophisticated technology that archaeologists use to predict where plants and other organisms grew well in the past and where they might be useful today.

Bocinsky and d’Alpoim Guedes are using the modeling technique to identify little-used or in some cases completely forgotten crops that could be useful in areas where warmer weather, drought and disease impact food supply.

One of the crops they identified is a strain of drought-tolerant corn the Hopi Indians of Arizona adapted over the centuries to prosper in poor soil. “Our models showed Hopi corn could grow well in the Ethiopian highlands where one of their staple foods, the Ethiopian banana, has been afflicted by emerging pests, disease and blasts of intense heat,” Bocinsky said. “Cultivating Hopi corn and other traditional, drought-resistant crops could become crucial for human survival in other places impacted by climate change.”

WSU researchers also used crop-niche modeling to identify a viable alternative food source on the Tibetan Plateau. Rapidly rising temperatures make it difficult for the region’s inhabitants to grow cold weather crops and raise and breed yaks, a staple form of subsistence.

In a paper published in 2015, d’Alpoim Guedes and Bocinsky found that foxtail and proso millet, which fell out of cultivation on the Plateau 4,000 years ago as the climate got colder, could soon be grown there again as the climate warms up.

“These millets are on the verge of becoming forgotten crops,” d’Alpoim Guedes said. “But due to their heat tolerance and high nutritional value, and very low rainfall requirements, they may once again be useful resources for a warmer future.”

With hundreds of years of anthropological data from sites around the world yet to be digitized, scientists are just beginning to tap the potential of archaeology-based modeling.

“The field is in the midst of a renaissance toward more computational approaches,” Kohler said. “Our hope is that combining traditional archaeology fieldwork with data-driven modeling techniques will help us more knowledgeably manage our numbers, our ecosystem interactions and avoid past errors regarding climate change.”

Significant Bronze Age city discovered in Northern Iraq

Archeologists from the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) at the University of Tübingen have uncovered a large Bronze Age city not far from the town of Dohuk in northern Iraq. The excavation work has demonstrated that the settlement, which is now home to the small Kurdish village of Bassetki in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, was established in about 3000 BC and was able to flourish for more than 1200 years. The archeologists also discovered settlement layers dating from the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC), which is regarded as the first world empire in human history.

bronze

Scientists headed by Professor Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk conducted the excavation work in Bassetki between August and October 2016. As a result, they were able to preempt the construction work on a highway on this land. The former significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work. The city already had a wall running around the upper part of the town from approx. 2700 BC onwards in order to protect its residents from invaders. Large stone structures were erected there in about 1800 BC. The researchers also found fragments of Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating from about 1300 BC, which suggested the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site. There was a lower town about one kilometer long outside the city center. Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archeologists discovered indications of an extensive road network, various residential districts, grand houses and a kind of palatial building dating from the Bronze Age. The residents buried their dead at a cemetery outside the city. The settlement was connected to the neighboring regions of Mesopotamia and Anatolia via an overland roadway dating from about 1800 BC.

Bassetki was only known to the general public in the past because of the “Bassetki statue,” which was discovered there by chance in 1975. This is a fragment of a bronze figure of the Akkadian god-king Naram-Sin (about 2250 BC). The discovery was stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad during the Iraq War in 2003, but was later rediscovered by US soldiers. Up until now, researchers were unable to explain the location of the find. The archeologists have now been able to substantiate their assumption that an important outpost of Akkadian culture may have been located there.

Although the excavation site is only 45 kilometers from territory controlled by the Islamic State (IS), it was possible to conduct the archeological work without any disturbances. “The protection of our employees is always our top priority. Despite the geographical proximity to IS, there’s a great deal of security and stability in the Kurdish autonomous areas in Iraq,” said Professor Peter Pfälzner, Director of the Department of Near Eastern Archaeology at the IANES of the University of Tübingen. The research team consisting of 30 people lived in the city of Dohuk, which is only 60 kilometers north of Mosul, during the excavation work.

In another project being handled by the “ResourceCultures” collaborative research center (SFB 1070), Pfälzner’s team has been completing an archeological inspection of territory in the complete area surrounding Bassetki as far as the Turkish and Syrian borders since 2013 — and 300 previously unknown sites have been discovered. The excavations and the research work in the region are due to be continued during the summer of 2017. “The area around Bassetki is proving to be an unexpectedly rich cultural region, which was located at the crossroads of communication ways between the Mesopotamian, Syrian and Anatolian cultures during the Bronze Age. We’re therefore planning to establish a long-term archeological research project in the region in conjunction with our Kurdish colleagues,” says Pfälzner. The excavation work is being funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Cave Art Trove Found in Spain 1,000 Feet Underground

Spanish archaeologists say they have discovered an exceptional set of Paleolithic-era cave drawings that could rank among the best in a country that already boasts some of the world’s most important cave art.

Paleolithic-era cave drawings

Chief site archaeologist Diego Garate said Friday that an estimated 70 drawings were found on ledges 300 meters (1,000 feet) underground in the Atxurra cave in the northern Basque region. He described the site as being in “the Champions’ League” of cave art, among the top 10 sites in Europe. The engravings and paintings feature horses, buffalo, goats and deer, dating back 12,500-14,500 years ago.

But Garate said access to the area is so difficult and dangerous it’s not likely to be open to the public.

The cave was discovered in 1929 and first explored in 1934-35, but it was not until 2014 that Garate and his team resumed their investigations that the drawings were discovered. Experts say while it is too early to say if the discovery ranks alongside Spain’s most prize prehistoric cave art site, the Altamira Caves – known as the Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic Art – Atxurra looks promising.

“No one expected a discovery of this magnitude,” said Jose Yravedra, a prehistory professor at Madrid’s Complutense Univesrsity. “There a lot of caves with drawings but very few have this much art and this much variety and quality.”

Altamira and other major sites in Spain and France have several hundred cave-art images.

Garate highlighted one buffalo drawing, which he said must have the most hunting lances stuck in it of any such drawing in Europe. He said most hunting drawings have four or five lances but this had almost 20 and it is not clear why.

Yravedra said given the cave’s hidden location and the number, variety and quality of its drawings, the site was being classified as a “sanctuary,” or special Paleolithic meeting ritual place, like those at Altamira or Lascaux in France.

Regional officials hope to set up a 3-D display of the art so that the public can appreciate it.

Archaeologists and Geographers Team Predict Locations of Ancient Buddhist Sites

For archaeologists and historians interested in the ancient politics, religion and language of the Indian subcontinent, two UCLA professors and their student researchers have creatively pinpointed sites that are likely to yield valuable transcriptions of the proclamations of Ashoka, the Buddhist king of northern India’s Mauryan Dynasty who ruled from 304 B.C. to 232 B.C.

asoka-buddha-palace

In a study published this week in Current Science, archaeologist Monica Smith and geographer Thomas Gillespie identified 121 possible locations of what are known as Ashoka’s “edicts.”

Ashokan edicts

First they isolated shared features of 29 known locations of Ashokan edicts, which were found carved into natural rock formations in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They then harnessed species-distribution modeling tactics – which includes examining sophisticated geographic information systems datasets along with Google Earth images – to overlay those unique characteristics against a geological and population map of ancient India. They believe they have identified locations that hold the same characteristics as proven sites and are significantly accurate markers for future discovery.

Predictive modeling can be a powerful new tool for scholars and researchers, Smith said. The known edicts and other archaeological discoveries have previously come about through random discovery or comprehensive surveys of whole regions.

“With the realities of looking for artifacts on a continental scale, we need more effective tools, and a search mechanism like predictive modeling is a high-priority development,” said Smith, emphasizing that many nations are facing the challenge of balancing preservation with much-needed development.

The Ashoka monuments in particular are of huge importance, especially in India, Smith said. They constitute the earliest known writings in the region. The national symbol of the modern nation of India is a sculpture that dates to the time of King Ashoka.

Ashoka’s edicts are also considered to be internationally significant as evidence of the power of an ancient political regime and as tangible expressions of religious practices related to Buddhism.

An excerpt of Ashoka’s edicts from Romila Thapar’s “Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas.”

Dhamma

“I consider that I must promote the welfare of the whole world, and hard work and the dispatch of business are the means of doing so. Indeed there is no better work than promoting the welfare of the whole world…For this purpose has this inscription of Dhamma (dharma, righteousness) been engraved. May it endure long.”

Smith’s fieldwork has long taken place on the Indian subcontinent. For this study, and with the support of a transdisciplinary seed grant from the UCLA Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, she partnered with Gillespie, whose expertise lies in determining the presence or absence of ecological and biological species in a given geography, with a special focus on the plants and trees native to Hawaii.

Gillespie, who has also visited India, said the project captured his imagination.

Gillespie and his team of UCLA doctoral candidates combed through data and images to check off a list of environmental consistencies in the known edict sites. Three factors in particular helped provide a reliable prediction of where more might be found – the specific kind of rock the text is carved in, the estimated population density of the area in A.D. 200-300 and the slope of the rock bearing the text

“The models really give a high probability of occurrence in the sites we identified,” Gillespie said. “Looking at the data of the existing sites, their placement certainly appears to be non-random. The scribes tasked with carving these edicts really seemed to think about the geology of the chosen space, the towns that were nearby, even the low level of the rock face they carved upon.”

Gillespie and Smith hope that their predictive model will allow local students or teachers in India and Pakistan and Afghanistan to make the next discovery of Ashokan edicts.

JUST IN: New Finding Depicts Evidence how Modern Science and Ancient Text Unite

Physicists and astronomers from the University of Texas at Arlington have used advanced astronomical software to accurately date  and translate ancient Greek poet Sappho’s, “Midnight Poem” which describes the night sky over Greece more than 2,500 years ago.

shhh2

Scientists are now coming out supporting their interest and research into ancient text as it relates to recent discoveries (new findings over last 5 years). Believe me, this is a new revelation. Of the multitude of scientists I have interviewed over the last 25 years, their ambition of ancient text was only whispered to me “off air.”

Sappho's -Midnight Poem- Describes Star Cluster

The scientific teams research was published yesterday in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage. Martin George, former president of the International Planetarium Society, now at the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, also participated in the work.

science and ancient text unite

Mitch Battros and ‘Science of Cycles’
Research Sponsorship Fundraiser
**Be part of keeping ‘Science of Cycles’ alive and free.
**Your support is needed to keep this unique and valuable resource.

**Help sponsor us with your pledge as you see fit to the value you receive.
  – CLICK HERE – 

“This is an example of where the scientific community can make a contribution to knowledge described in important ancient texts, “ said Manfred Cuntz, physics professor and lead author of the study. ” Estimations had been made for the timing of this poem in the past, but we were able to scientifically confirm the season that corresponds to her specific descriptions of the night sky in the year 570 B.C.”

pleiades

Sappho’s “Midnight Poem” describes a star cluster known as the Pleiades having set at around midnight, when supposedly observed by her from the Greek island of Lesbos.

starry night pro plus1

Cuntz and co-author and astronomer Levent Gurdemir, director of the Planetarium at UTA, used advanced software called Starry Night version 7.3, to identify the earliest date that the Pleiades would have set at midnight or earlier in local time in 570 B.C. The Planetarium system Digistar 5 also allows creating the night sky of ancient Greece for Sappho’s place and time.

“Use of Planetarium software permits us to simulate the night sky more accurately on any date, past or future, at any location,” said Levent Gurdemir.”This is an example of how we are opening up the Planetarium to research into disciplines beyond astronomy, including geosciences, biology, chemistry, art, literature, architecture, history and even medicine.”

pleiades chart

The Starry Night software demonstrated that in 570 B.C., the Pleiades set at midnight on Jan. 25, which would be the earliest date the poem could be related. As the year progressed, the Pleiades set progressively earlier.

“The timing question is complex as at that time they did not have accurate mechanical clocks as we do, only perhaps water clocks” said Cuntz. “For that reason, we also identified the latest date on which the Pleiades would have been visible to Sappho from that location on different dates some time during the evening.”

The researchers also determined that the last date that the Pleiades would have been seen at the end of astronomical twilight – the moment when the Sun’s altitude is -18 degrees and the sky is regarded as perfectly dark – was March 31.

“From there, we were able to accurately seasonally date this poem to mid-winter and early spring, scientifically confirming earlier estimations by other scholars,” Cuntz said.

Sappho was the leading female poet of her time and closely rivaled Homer. Her interest in astronomy was not restricted to the “Midnight Poem.” Other examples of her work make references to the Sun, the Moon, and planet Venus.

“Sappho should be considered an informal contributor to early Greek astronomy as well as to Greek society at large,” Cuntz added. “Not many ancient poets comment on astronomical observations as clearly as she does.”

Morteza Khaledi, dean of UTA’s College of Science, congratulated the researchers on their work, which forms part of UTA’s strategic focus on data-driven discovery within the Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

“This research helps to break down the traditional silos between science and the liberal arts, by using high-precision technology to accurate date ancient poetry,” Khaledi said. “It also demonstrates that the Planetarium’s reach can go way beyond astronomy into multiple fields of research.”

Dr. Manfred Cuntz is a professor of physics at UTA and active researcher in solar and stellar astrophysics, as well as astrobiology. In recent years he has focused on extra-solar planets, including stellar habitable zones and orbital stability analyses. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in 1988.

Levent Gurdemir received his master’s of science degree in physics from UTA and is the current director of the university’s Planetarium. UTA uses the facility for research, teaching and community outreach, serving large numbers of K-12 students and the public at this local facility.

_______________

_science-of-cycles33

Mitch Battros and Science of Cycles Research Sponsorship Fundraiser

paypal donate_button_sm

If banner is not working Click Here

BREAKING NEWS: Examination of Ancient Text Reveals Details of Supernova

German researches have uncovered evidence of the Arabic scholar Ibn Sina’s sighting of supernova 1006 (SN 1006). The new evidence will sit alongside that of others around that globe that reported details of what has been described as the brightest stellar event ever recorded by human beings.

supernova34

Ibn Sina was a Persian scientist and philosopher, who as part of his observations, traveled a lot and wrote about what he saw, along with his interpretations of subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy. One of the texts named Kitab al-Shifa, related to physics, meteorology, and especially astronomy that caught the attention of the researchers. A section of particular note described a bright object appearing in the sky in the year 1006. The section had been studied before, but the account had been attributed to a discussion of a comet.

ibn-Sina in al-Shifa

Be part of keeping ‘Science of Cycles’ alive and free. Your support is needed to keep this unique and valuable resource. Help sponsor us with your pledge as you see fit to the value you receive .                                              – CLICK HERE –

In their recorded paper, German researchers Ralph Neuhaeuser, Carl Ehrig-Eggert and Paul Kunitzsch present the translation of ancient skygazer Ibn Sina’s text, describe an object that was very bright and that changed color over time before fading away – even noting at one point the object threw out sparks. The researchers suggest the description was actually that of SN 1006.

type-la-supernova

SN 1006 was noted and described by others around the world, from places such as Morocco, Japan, Yemen and China, but none of those descriptions included information about the object changing colors. Sina wrote the object started out as faint greenish-yellow, that it twinkled especially at its brightest, and then became whitish before it disappeared altogether.

2 white dwarfs colliding

Most modern astronomers believe that SN 1006 was not just a Ia supernova (which occur when a white dwarf is pulled into another star causing it to blow up due to the overabundance of matter), but that it was the result of two white dwarfs colliding. This new information from an ancient part-time astronomer, the researchers suggest, may help to better understand an event that occurred over a thousand years ago.

__________________________

science-of-cycles600x600

Be part of keeping ‘Science of Cycles’ alive and free. Your support is needed to keep this unique and valuable resource. Help sponsor us with your pledge as you see fit to the value you receive .


paypal donate_button_sm
If link on banner is not working -CLICK HERE-

Bullet Indicates Lawrence of Arabia Accurate Recall

A bullet fired by Lawrence of Arabia during one of his most famous acts of guerrilla warfare has been discovered in the Arabian Desert by a team of archaeologists, led by the University of Bristol, confirming the accuracy of Lawrence’s own account of the attack in his war memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

lawrence of arabia2

The spent bullet was found at the site of the 1917 Hallat Ammar train ambush – immortalized in a scene in David Lean’s Oscar-winning biopic Lawrence of Arabia – during fieldwork by Bristol’s Professor Nicholas Saunders and Dr Neil Faulkner, and colleagues, as part of the Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP).

The project has excavated dozens of sites across the Arabian Desert associated with the 1916-1918 revolt by Arab forces against the Ottoman Turks, then allied to Germany.  T.E. Lawrence – later known as Lawrence of Arabia – served as a liaison officer with the rebel forces, an experience he described in Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

lawrence-bullet

Professor Nicholas Saunders said: “The bullet we found came from a Colt automatic pistol, the type of gun known to be carried by Lawrence and almost certainly not used by any of the ambush’s other participants.”

While several of Lawrence’s biographers have accused him of embellishing his stories, nothing the archaeologists found at any of the sites they excavated supports this view.

Lawrence and the Bedouin

Dr Neil Faulkner said: “Lawrence has something of a reputation as a teller of tall tales, but this bullet – and the other archaeological evidence we unearthed during ten years of fieldwork – indicates how reliable his account of the Arab Revolt in Seven Pillars of Wisdom is.”

In an unlikely coincidence, just two months ago, another Hallat Ammar connection appeared when a Hejaz Railway engine nameplate came to light after being ‘lost’ for almost 80 years.  Lawrence had given it to the family of his friend, Vyvyan Richards, for safekeeping in 1933 but never retrieved it before his death in 1935.  The inscription is in Ottoman Turkish written in Arabic script and translates as ‘iron road’, that is ‘Hejaz Railway’.

The family tradition records that it was ‘souvenired’ by Lawrence from one of the trains he attacked.  Many of these raids were on bridges and tracks rather than on locomotives, and, when they were, there was little time to safely hang around and take souvenirs.

The best documented example of such an opportunity is the ambush at Hallat Ammar, where the Turkish train had two locomotives not one, and there was ample time to lever off a nameplate.  The ambush was so spectacularly successful that it probably meant more to Lawrence than his other railway attacks, and so could have merited this souvenir.

“It is extraordinary,” Professor Saunders added, “that after 100 years new discoveries like this are still being made, casting new light on a guerrilla war which helped reshape the Middle East after 1918 – the consequences of which we are still living with today.”