Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sustainability in unexpected places: archeology 2

In my overnight post on Science and society, I wrote:
There will be a part four, which will be the second in a series that began with Sustainability in unexpected places: archeology 1. Yes, I really did run into that many archeology articles with a sustainability slant in one week.
Without any further ado, it's time for the linkspam.

General Sustainability

Archeology News Network on Blogspot: Ethiopian lake reveals history of African droughts
Posted by TANN 4:49 PM
A new survey of Lake Tana in Ethiopia – the source of the Blue Nile – suggests that drought may have contributed to the demise of the Egyptian Old Kingdom, around 4200 years ago.

A team led by the University of Aberystwyth used seismic surveys and sediment cores to work out how the lake's water levels has varied over the past 17,000 years and linked this to evidence for global climate change.

Understanding how and why rainfall patterns change is particularly important for sub-Saharan Africa, where prolonged droughts have such serious social and economic consequences.

Environment, including science and technology

Archeology News Network on Blogspot: The Olympia tsunami hypothesis
Posted by TANN ArchaeoHeritage, Archaeology, Europe, Greece, Southern Europe 12:52 PM
Olympia, site of the famous Temple of Zeus and original venue of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, was presumably destroyed by repeated tsunamis that travelled considerable distances inland, and not by earthquake and river floods as has been assumed to date.

Evidence in support of this new theory on the virtual disappearance of the ancient cult site on the Peloponnesian peninsula comes from Professor Dr Andreas Vött of the Institute of Geography of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. Vött investigated the site as part of a project in which he and his team are studying the paleotsunamis that occurred along the coastlines of the eastern Mediterranean over the last 11,000 years.

According to his account, the geomorphological and sedimentological findings in the area document that Olympia and its environs were destroyed by tsunami impact. The site of Olympia, rediscovered only some 250 years ago, was buried under a massive layer of sand and other deposits that is up to 8 meters deep.

The Daily Mail (UK): Crash test mummies: Egypt's oldest pyramid saved from collapse by giant airbags
By Daily Mail Reporter
Egypt's oldest pyramid has been saved from collapse by giant airbags which have been used to prop up the ceilings.

The 4,700-year-old building has been stabilised so engineers can carry out permanent repairs.

The giant structure was built as a burial place for Pharaoh Djoser, a warrior who reigned in the third dynasty for 19 years but has been damaged in an earthquake.

Society, including culture and politics

N.Y. Times via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Revolution Dims Star Power of Egypt's Antiquities Chief
By KATE TAYLOR, The New York Times
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Until recently Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities minister, was a global symbol of Egyptian national pride. A famous archaeologist in an Indiana Jones hat, he was virtually unassailable in the old Egypt, protected by his success in boosting tourism, his efforts to reclaim lost artifacts and his closeness to the country's first lady, Suzanne Mubarak.

But the revolution changed all that.

Now demonstrators in Cairo are calling for his resignation as the interim government faces disaffected crowds in Tahrir Square.

The Voice of San Diego: A Surprise Museum Raid, Then ... Silence
Officials at the Mingei International Museum say they've only received one follow-up call from the federal government since its agents swarmed the building in 2008 as part of an investigation into suspected smuggling.
by Kelly Bennett
Disturbing the post-holiday quiet in Balboa Park one early January morning, federal agents swarmed into the Mingei International Museum.

The agents ordered museum workers to escort them through corridors and galleries, pointing out anything thought to have originated from Ban Chiang, an ancient culture in Thailand. They pulled 67 items: artifacts, jewelry and pottery.

Federal agents commanded the museum to whisk those items from public view and lock them away in storage. Museum staff plucked their images from museum literature, too, as if the items had vanished from the collection.

The 67 items are still sitting there, hidden, three-and-a-half years later.

Archeology News Network on Blogspot: Antiquities to return to Swat Museum
Posted by TANN ArchaeoHeritage, Asia, Breakingnews, Central Asia, Heritage, Pakistan 5:50 PM
Thousands of antiquities removed from the Swat Buddhist Museum for safety after militants bombed it in 2008 were returned to the museum on Wednesday.

Officials of the Taxila Museum, where the more than 2,700 pieces of Gandhara period were kept, handed the whole lot to the Directorate of Archaeology of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday.

The Swat Museum was closed following the bomb attack on it in February 2008 and its unique archaeological trove was shifted to the vaults of Taxila Museum for safekeeping.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement: ICE makes arrests and seizes cultural artifacts stolen from Egypt
Set of Sarcophagi more than 2,000 years old
NEW YORK — Antiquity dealers and collectors from Michigan, New York, Virginia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were charged today in connection with a scheme to smuggle illicit cultural property into the United States. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents dismantled an organization responsible for conspiring to smuggle Egyptian Middle Eastern and Asian antiquities into the United States and conspiring to launder money in furtherance of smuggling.

ICE HSI agents who specialize in cultural property investigations seized Egyptian antiquities to include but are not limited to a Greco-Roman style Egyptian sarcophagus, a unique three-part coffin set belonging to Shesepamuntayesher from the Saite period or 26th Dynasty, approximately 664-552 B.C. In addition to Egyptian antiquities, other Middle Eastern and Asian artifacts along with more than a thousand antique coins have been recovered.

Archeology News Network on Blogspot: Peru to sue Swedish city for theft of ancient textiles
Posted by TANN Americas, ArchaeoHeritage, Heritage, Peru, South America 10:54 AM
Peru will sue the Swedish city of Gothenburg on charges of being accomplices in the theft of ancient pre-Columbian textiles on exhibit in their museum, President Alan Garcia said.

Garcia said that Peru wants back more than 100 colorful Paracas culture textiles, which are more than 2,000 years old. The textiles are on exhibit at the city-owned Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, in southern Sweden.

Archeology News Network on Blogspot: Chaos threatens Philippines' cultural treasures
Posted by TANN
Thieves and art dealers are the usual suspects, but mildew and flashbulbs are just as dangerous for some of the Philippines' beleaguered cultural treasures.

From a 30,000-year-old skull fragment of one of its first human inhabitants to imposing churches built during Spanish colonial rule, the Southeast Asian archipelago has a stunning display of artefacts showcasing its diverse history.

But they are under threat on every front.

Even at the National Museum where half a million archaeological items are supposed to be protected, a lack of funds means they could be as vulnerable as treasures outside its walls, said its chief conservator Orlando Abinion.

"They are in danger, yes, they are prone to deterioration, robbery, vandalism," Abinion told AFP inside the rundown hallways of one of the museum's twin 85-year-old neoclassical buildings in the historic old quarter of Manila.

The Seattle Times: Teams scramble to save Afghan artifacts before copper mining begins
A dozen archaeologists and 100 Afghan laborers are working like army ants to finish the dig at the site of the ancient Mes Aynak ruins in Afghanistan.
By Alex Rodriguez
MES AYNAK, Afghanistan — The ruins poke out of a monotonous stretch of scrub and beckon the world to visit Afghanistan as it was more than 1,400 years ago, when Buddhist monasteries dotted the landscape.

An ancient citadel juts from a tall crag, standing sentinel over what once was a flourishing settlement. The monastery stands largely preserved, as does a series of reliquaries adorned with schist arches and shelves.

But few people today will have a chance to see these ruins, which French and Afghan archaeologists are unearthing.

Sometime soon, perhaps in as little as 14 months, the sprawling, 9,800-acre Mes Aynak site will be crushed by Chinese bulldozers hunting for copper — a clear choice of economic development over historic preservation for a country trying to overcome decades of war, religious extremism and occupation.

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