Archive for ‘vitenskap’

12.12.16

Svenska arkeologer upptäcker okänd stad i Grekland

http://historiskastudier.gu.se/Aktuellt/Nyheter/fulltext//svenska-arkeologer-upptacker-okand-stad-i-grekland.cid1416535

AV: Cecilia Köljing

En internationell forskargrupp vid Institutionen för historiska studier, Göteborgs universitet, undersöker lämningarna av en antik stad i centrala Grekland. Resultaten kan ge upprättelse åt ett område som tidigare setts som ett av antikens bakvatten.

Arkeologer från Göteborgs universitet har inlett undersökningar av en tidigare okänd antik stad vid byn Vlochós, fem timmar norr om Athen. De arkeologiska lämningarna är utspridda på och kring den höga kullen Strongilovoúni vid den stora Thessaliska slätten och kan dateras till flera olika historiska tidsperioder.

– Det som tidigare ansetts vara lämningarna av en obetydlig boplats på en kulle kan redan efter en säsongs fältarbete uppgraderas till en Forskarteamet som gräver ut antik lämning inom ramen för VLAPregelrätt stadslämning, säger Robin Rönnlund, doktorand i Antikens kultur och samhällsliv vid Göteborgs universitet som leder fältarbetet.

– Jag och en kollega råkade på den här platsen i samband med en annan undersökning förra året och vi insåg genast att här fanns det stor potential. Att ingen undersökt kullens lämningar förut är ett mysterium.

I samarbete med Svenska Institutet i Athen och den lokala arkeologiska myndigheten i Karditsa startades projektet The Vlochós Archaeological Project (VLAP) för att undersöka lämningarna. Under två veckor i september 2016 genomförde projektets forskargrupp den första fältsäsongen.

Keramikkärva från 500 f.Kr. som hittats i undersökningenRobin Rönnlund konstaterar att kullen döljer många hemligheter. På kullens topp och sluttningar finns höga rester av murar, torn och stadsportar, men på marken nedanför syns nästan inget ovan markytan.

Ett av projektets mål är att undvika att gräva ut lämningarna och istället fokusera på undersökningsmetoder som till exempel markradar, vilket gör att man kan lämna platsen som den var när man kom. Att denna filosofi fungerar märks av resultaten från den första fältsäsongen:

– Vi hittade ett torg och ett gatunät som visade att vi hade att göra med en rätt stor stad. Området innanför stadsmuren är på drygt 40 hektar. Vi hittade även antika krukskärvor och mynt som kan användas för att datera staden. Våra äldsta fynd är från runt 500 f.Kr. men staden verkar ha blomstrat främst på 300- till 200-talet f.Kr. innan den av någon anledning övergavs, kanske i samband med att Romarriket erövrade området.

Bild på stadsmuren tagen från luftenRobin Rönnlund tror att det svensk-grekiska projektet kan ge viktiga ledtrådar till vad som hände under denna stormiga period i Greklands historia.

– Man vet än så länge väldigt lite om antika städer i regionen, och många forskare har tidigare trott att västra Thessalien var något av ett bakvatten under antiken. Vårt projekt fyller därför en viktig lucka i kunskapen kring området och visar att det fortfarande finns mycket att upptäcka i Greklands jord.

The Vlochós Archaeological Projekt (VLAP):

VLAP är ett samarbetsprojekt mellan Eforatet för Antikviteter i Karditsa och Svenska Institutet i Athen. Under 2016-2017 undersöker en forskargrupp stadslämningen i Vlochós inom ramen för projektet.

FOTO: SIA/EFAK/YPPOA

BILD 1: Stadens akropolis skymtar fram under en molnig dag på den Thessaliska slätten.

BILD 2: Deltagarna i den första arkeologiska fältsäsongen i Vlochós.

BILD 3: Skärva av rödfigurig keramik från slutet av 500-talet f.Kr., antagligen av den attiske målaren Paseas.

BILD 4: Försvarsmurar, torn och stadsportar syns tydligt från luften.

 

15.10.16

Secrets of Greek artists revealed: X-rays show hidden layers of paint on a stunning 2,500-year-old vase

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3837808/Secrets-Greek-artist-s-revealed-X-rays-hidden-colours-used-stunning-2-500-year-old-vase.html#ixzz4N9PriCnd

  • X-ray scanning was used on an Athenian oil-flask from around 500 BC
  • The results showed that a calcium colour additive was used for white
  • This is an additional step that was previously unknown  
Researchers have used a new x-ray scanning technique on an ancient Greek vase to reveal layers of hidden paint beneath the surface.

The results raise questions about how ancient pottery was produced, and whether previously unknown additional steps were involved.

The researchers now hope to use the x-ray scanning method on other materials that could be used in batteries or electronics.

The chemical map shows calcium matching the white areas in the driver’s tunic and dot accents, and iron (red) and potassium (blue) matching the black of the horse and figure silhouettes.

The findings come as a result of a growing collaboration between the Cantor Arts Centre and Stanford University, both in California.

About two years ago, the Arts Centre introduced a fellowship for science students interested in studying art conservation.

Susan Roberts-Manganelli, director of the Learning Lab said: ‘We can do a lot of testing here at the Cantor.

‘But some studies need more robust collaboration and more powerful X-rays to actually get answers to our questions.’

One such study, done by student Kevin Chow, took a deeper look at the techniques of the ancient Greek potters, which are difficult to reproduce and not entirely understood.

The study focused on an Athenian oil-flask, called a lekythos, from 500-480 BC.

Using a technique called synchrotron X-ray fluorescence, the team was able to uncover surprising steps in the production process that challenge the conventional understanding.

3960283F00000578-3837808-image-a-11_1476436342282.jpgThe scan produced a chemical map, which showed that a calcium-based colour additive was used for white, which would have added an additional step


Jody Maxim, who supervised Mr Chow’s study, said: ‘Under what they thought was a single coat, they found other instances of painting that the naked eye could not see.

The study focused on an Athenian oil-flask, called a lekythos from 500-480 BC


‘It was thrilling to learn that a very humble vase – hundreds of these were produced for the Festival of Athena every four years – shows certain standards of aesthetic excellence.’

The scan produced a chemical map, which showed that a calcium-based colour additive was used for white, which would have added an additional step.

It also raised questions about the firing process, due to the absence of zinc – which was presumed to be key in achieving black colours in the heating process.

The researchers now hope to use the same scanning technique on other materials.

Apurva Mehta, a scientist from Stanford, said: ‘We had to find a way to see all layers of the Greek pot in detail, which is something we want to do for other materials that might be used in batteries or electronics.’

A custom-made mount held the delicate pot during a rotational scan using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence

A custom-made mount held the delicate pot during a rotational scan using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence


By Shivali Best For Mailonline
13.10.16

Western contact with China began long before Marco Polo, experts say

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-37624943?ocid=socialflow_facebook&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews

_91770731_soldiers_getty624Greek artisans may have trained those who made the Terracotta Warriors(Getty Images)

China and the West were in contact more than 1,500 years before European explorer Marco Polo arrived in China, new findings suggest.

Archaeologists say inspiration for the Terracotta Warriors, found at the Tomb of the First Emperor near today’s Xian, may have come from Ancient Greece.

They also say ancient Greek artisans could have been training locals there in the Third Century BC.

Polo’s 13th Century journey to China was the first to be well-documented.

However, Chinese historians recorded much earlier visits by people thought by some to have been emissaries from the Roman Empire during the Second and Third Centuries AD.

«We now have evidence that close contact existed between the First Emperor’s China and the West before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought,» said Senior Archaeologist Li Xiuzhen, from the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Museum.

A separate study shows European-specific mitochondrial DNA has been found at sites in China’s western-most Xinjiang Province, suggesting that Westerners may have settled, lived and died there before and during the time of the First Emperor.

  _91770735__wiki_pd
Qin Shi Huang lived between 259-210BC and became the first emperor of a unified China

Farmers first discovered the 8,000 terracotta figures buried less than a mile from the tomb of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang in 1974.

However there was no tradition of building life-sized human statues in China before the tomb was created. Earlier statues were simple figurines about 20cm (7.9ins) in height.

To explain how such an enormous change in skill and style could have happened, Dr Xiuzhen believes that influences must have come from outside China.

«We now think the Terracotta Army, the Acrobats and the bronze sculptures found on site have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptures and art,» she said.

Prof Lukas Nickel from the University of Vienna says statues of circus acrobats recently found at the First Emperor’s tomb support this theory.

_91770728_mediaitem91770727
 The findings feature in a new BBC documentary

He believes the First Emperor was influenced by the arrival of Greek statues in Central Asia in the century following Alexander the Great, who died in 323BC.

«I imagine that a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals,» he said.

Other discoveries include new evidence that the First Emperor’s tomb complex is much bigger than first thought and 200 times bigger than Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

They also include the mutilated remains of women, believed to have been high-ranking concubines of the First Emperor, and the skull of a man with a crossbow bolt embedded in it.

The skull is believed to have belonged to the First Emperor’s eldest son, thought to have been killed along with others during a power struggle after the emperor’s death.

19.09.16

Human Skeleton Found on Famed Antikythera Shipwreck

http://www.nature.com/news/human-skeleton-found-on-famed-antikythera-shipwreck-1.20632

Two-thousand-year-old bones could yield first DNA from an ancient shipwreck victim

Jo Marchant
19 September 2016

Divers examine human bones excavated from the Antikythera shipwreck (Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO).

Hannes Schroeder snaps on two pairs of blue latex gloves, then wipes his hands with a solution of bleach. In front of him is a large Tupperware box full of plastic bags that each contain sea water and a piece of red-stained bone. He lifts one out and inspects its contents as several archaeologists hover behind, waiting for his verdict. They’re hoping he can pull off a feat never attempted before — DNA analysis on someone who has been under the sea for 2,000 years.

Through the window, sunlight sparkles on cobalt water. The researchers are on the tiny Greek island of Antikythera, a 10-minute boat ride from the wreckage of a 2,000-year-old merchant ship. Discovered by sponge divers in 1900, the wreck was the first ever investigated by archaeologists. Its most famous bounty to date has been a surprisingly sophisticated clockwork device that modelled the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets in the sky — dubbed1 the ‘Antikythera mechanism’.

But on 31 August this year, investigators made another groundbreaking discovery: a human skeleton, buried under around half a metre of pottery sherds and sand. “We’re thrilled,” says Brendan Foley, an underwater archaeologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, and co-director of the excavations team. “We don’t know of anything else like it.”

A partial skull, with three teeth, is among the human remains found at the Antikythera wreck (Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO).

Within days of the find, Foley invited Schroeder, an expert in ancient-DNA analysis from the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, to assess whether genetic material might be extracted from the bones. On his way to Antikythera, Schroeder was doubtful. But as he removes the bones from their bags he is pleasantly surprised. The material is a little chalky, but overall looks well preserved. “It doesn’t look like bone that’s 2,000 years old,” he says. Then, sifting through several large pieces of skull, he finds both petrous bones — dense nuggets behind the ear that preserve DNA better than other parts of the skeleton or the teeth. “It’s amazing you guys found that,” Schroeder says. “If there’s any DNA, then from what we know, it’ll be there.”

Schroeder agrees to go ahead with DNA extraction when permission is granted by the Greek authorities. It would take about a week to find out whether the sample contains any DNA, he says: then perhaps a couple of months to sequence it and analyse the results.

For Schroeder, the discovery gives him the chance to push the boundaries of ancient-DNA studies. So far, most have been conducted on samples from cold climates such as northern Europe. “I’ve been trying to push the application of ancient DNA into environments where people don’t usually look for DNA,” he says. (He was part of a team that last year published the first Mediterranean ancient genome, of a Neolithic individual from Spain.)

Foley and the archaeologists, meanwhile, are elated by the chance to learn more about the people on board the first-century bc ship, which carried luxury items from the eastern Mediterranean, probably intended for wealthy buyers in Rome.

Rare discovery

The skeleton discovery is a rare find, agrees Mark Dunkley, an underwater archaeologist from the London-based heritage organization Historic England. Unless covered by sediment or otherwise protected, the bodies of shipwreck victims are usually swept away and decay, or are eaten by fish. Complete skeletons have been recovered from younger ships, such as the sixteenth-century English warship the Mary Rose and the seventeenth-century Vasa in Sweden. Both sank in mud, close to port. But “the farther you go back, the rarer it is”, says Dunkley.

Only a handful of examples of human remains have been found on ancient wrecks, says archaeologist Dimitris Kourkoumelis of the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, who collaborates with Foley. They include a skull found inside a Roman soldier’s helmet near Sardinia, and a skeleton reportedly discovered inside a sunken sarcophagus near the Greek island of Syrna (although the bones disappeared before the find could be confirmed).

Hannes Schroeder (left), project co-director Theotokis Theodoulou (centre) and Brendan Foley inspect the bones (Michael Tsimperopoulos, EUA/WHOI/ARGO).

In fact, the best-documented example is the Antikythera wreck itself: scattered bones were found by the French marine explorer Jacques Cousteau, who excavated here in 1976. Argyro Nafplioti, an osteoarchaeologist at the University of Cambridge, UK, concluded that the remains came from at least four individuals, including a young man, a woman and a teenager of unknown sex.

At the wreck site, only broken pots now remain on the sea floor — the sponge divers recovered all artefacts visible on the seabed in 1900–01. But Foley thinks that much of the ship’s cargo may be buried under the sediment. His team, including expert technical divers and members of the Greek archaeological service, relocated and mapped the 50-metre-deep site before beginning their own excavations in 2014. They have found items such as wine jars, glassware, two bronze spears from statues, gold jewellery and table jugs used by the crew (see ‘Ancient bounty’). The divers have also recovered ship components including enormous anchors and a teardrop-shaped lead weight, found in June, that may be the first known example of what ancient texts describe as a ‘war dolphin’ — a defensive weapon carried by merchant vessels to smash hostile ships.

Source: Stefan Williams, Australian Centre for Field Robotics; Alex Tourtas, EUA/WHOI/ARGO

The skeleton uncovered in August consists of a partial skull with three teeth, two arm bones, several rib pieces and two femurs, all apparently from the same person. Foley’s team plans further excavations to see whether more bones are still under the sand.

That so many individuals have been found at Antikythera — when most wrecks yield none — may be partly because few other wrecks have been as exhaustively investigated. But the researchers think it also reveals something about how the ship sank. This was a huge vessel for its time, perhaps more than 40 metres long, says Foley, with multiple decks and many people on board. The wreck is close to shore, at the foot of the island’s steep cliffs. He concludes that a storm smashed the ship against the rocks so that it broke up and sank before people had a chance to react. “We think it was such a violent wrecking event, people got trapped below decks.”

Mediterranean mystery

Diver Gemma Smith brings up bones from the Antikythera wreck. (Michael Tsimperopoulos, EUA/WHOI/ARGO)

The individuals found at Antikythera could be from the crew, which would probably have consisted of 15–20 people on a ship this size. Greek and Roman merchant ships also commonly carried passengers, and sometimes slaves. One reason people get trapped inside shipwrecks is if they are chained, points out Dunkley. “The crew would be able to get off relatively fast. Those shackled would have no opportunity to escape.” Intriguingly, the recently discovered bones were surrounded by corroded iron objects, so far unidentified; the iron oxide has stained the bones amber red.

Schroeder says that because ancient underwater remains are so rare, DNA analysis on such samples using state-of-the-art techniques has barely been tried. (Analyses were conducted on skeletons from the Mary Rose and the Vasa, but specialists no longer see those methods — based on amplifying DNA using a method called PCR — as reliable, because it is too difficult to distinguish ancient DNA from modern contamination.) Exceptions include analyses on 8,000-year-old wheat from a submerged site off the English coast (although these results have been questioned because the DNA did not show the expected age-related damage), and mitochondrial DNA from a 12,000-year-old skeleton found in a freshwater sinkhole in Mexico.

The surprisingly complex Antikythera mechanism modelled the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets (Anthony Ayiomamitis).

Finding undisturbed remains such as those at Antikythera is crucial because it offers the opportunity to extract any DNA in the best possible condition. Previously salvaged bones are not ideal for analysis because they have often been washed, treated with conservation mater­ials or kept in warm conditions (all of which can destroy fragile DNA), or handled in a way that contaminates them.

Schroeder guesses from the skeleton’s fairly robust femur and unworn teeth that the individual was a young man. As well as confirming the person’s gender, DNA from the Antikythera bones could provide information about characteristics from hair and eye colour to ancestry and geographic origin. In the past few years, modern genome sequences have revealed that genetic variation in populations mirrors geography, says Schroeder. He and others are now starting to look at how ancient individuals fit on that map, to reconstruct past population movements. Would the shipwreck victim look more Greek-Italian or Near Eastern, he wonders?

Over dinner, the researchers decide to nickname the bones’ owner Pamphilos, after a name found neatly scratched on a wine cup from the wreck. “Your mind starts spinning,” says Schroeder. “Who were those people who crossed the Mediterranean 2,000 years ago? Maybe one of them was the astronomer who owned the mechanism.”

Nature
537,
462–463

 

11.06.16

Scientists decipher purpose of mysterious astronomy tool made by ancient Greeks

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/antikythera-mechanism-1.3628648

Inscriptions on Antikythera Mechanism suggests it was mechanical computer used to track sun, moon

Fragments of the 2,100-year-old Antikythera Mechanism are displayed at the National Archaeological Museum, in Athens. For over a century since its discovery in an ancient shipwreck, the exact function of the Antikythera Mechanism — named after the southern Greek island off which it was found — was a tantalizing puzzle.

Fragments of the 2,100-year-old Antikythera Mechanism are displayed at the National Archaeological Museum, in Athens. For over a century since its discovery in an ancient shipwreck, the exact function of the Antikythera Mechanism — named after the southern Greek island off which it was found — was a tantalizing puzzle. (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)


When you’re trying to fathom a mangled relic of very old hi-tech, it helps to have the manufacturer’s instructions.

For over a century since its discovery in an ancient shipwreck, the exact function of the Antikythera Mechanism — named after the southern Greek island off which it was found — was a tantalizing puzzle.

From a few words deciphered on the twisted, corroded fragments of bronze gears and plates, experts guessed it was an astronomical instrument. But much more remained hidden out of sight.

GREECE-ARCHAEOLOGY/ANTIKYTHERA-MECHANISM

After more than a decade’s efforts using cutting-edge scanning equipment, an international team of scientists has now read about 3,500 characters of explanatory text — a quarter of the original — in the innards of the 2,100-year-old remains. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)


They say it was a kind of philosopher’s guide to the galaxy, and perhaps the world’s oldest mechanical computer.

«Now we have texts that you can actually read as ancient Greek, what we had before was like something on the radio with a lot of static,» said team member Alexander Jones, a professor of the history of ancient science at New York University.

«It’s a lot of detail for us because it comes from a period from which we know very little about Greek astronomy and essentially nothing about the technology, except what we gather from here,» he said. «So these very small texts are a very big thing for us.»

Eclipse predictions

The team says the mechanism was a calendar of the sun and the moon that showed the phases of the moon, the position of the sun and the moon in the zodiac, the position of the planets, and predicted eclipses. Nothing of the sort was known to be made for well over 1,000 years.

Greece Ancient Computer

University of Athens professor Xenophon Moussas speaks behind a possible reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism during a press conference in Athens, on June 9. The team says the mechanism was a calendar of the sun and the moon that showed the phases of the moon, the position of the sun and the moon in the zodiac, the position of the planets, and predicted eclipses. (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)


«It was not a research tool, something that an astronomer would use to do computations, or even an astrologer to do prognostications, but something that you would use to teach about the cosmos and our place in the cosmos,» Jones said. «It’s like a textbook of astronomy as it was understood then, which connected the movements of the sky and the planets with the lives of the ancient Greeks and their environment.»

«I would see it as more something that might be a philosopher’s instructional device.»

The letters — some just 1.2 millimeters (1/20 of an inch) tall — were engraved on the inside covers and visible front and back sections of the mechanism, which originally had the rough dimensions of an office box-file, was encased in wood and operated with a hand-crank.

GREECE ANCIENT COMPUTER

While hypotheses were made as to the functioning of the gears and the use of the machine, it was for long impossible to read more than a few hundred characters of the texts buried on the inside of a multi-layered mechanism a bit like a big clock. (Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

It wasn’t quite a manual, more like a long label you would get on a museum to describe a display, according to another team member, Mike Edmunds, who is an emeritus professor of astrophysics at Cardiff University.

«It’s not telling you how to use it, it says `what you see is such and such,’ rather than `turn this knob and it shows you something,»‘ he said Thursday, during a presentation of the team’s findings in Athens.

Found in shipwreck

The mechanism’s fragments were raised in 1901 from a mid-1st century B.C. shipwreck, and at first seemed like a scruffy footnote to a magnificent body of finds that included bronze and marble statues, luxury glassware and ceramics.

But the sediment-encrusted, compacted lumps soon attracted scientific attention, and were studied by successive teams over the next decades. While hypotheses were made as to the functioning of the gears and the use of the machine, it was for long impossible to read more than a few hundred characters of the texts buried on the inside of a multi-layered mechanism a bit like a big clock.

Greece Roman Wreck

A diver with a metal detector holds a copper ship’s fitting next to a vase at the site of the Antikythera wreck off the island of Antikythera in southern Greece, where the mechanism’s fragments were raised in 1901. (Brett Seymour/ARGO via Greek Culture Ministry/Associated Press)

About 12 years ago, Jones’ and Edmunds’ team started to use x-ray scanning and imaging technology to analyze the 82 surviving fragments.

«The original investigation was intended to see how the mechanism works, and that was very successful,» Edmunds said. «What we hadn’t realized was that the modern techniques that were being used would allow us to read the texts much better both on the outside of the mechanism and on the inside than was done before.»

It was a painstaking process, as to read each of the tiny letters, researchers had to look at dozens of scans.

Not a toy

Edmunds said the style of the text — formal and detailed — implied that it was designed to be much more than a rich collector’s plaything.

«It takes it to me out of the realm of executive toys — an executive wouldn’t pay all that money to have all that waffle — it’s more serious than a toy,» he said.

Greece Ancient Computer

«Perhaps, at some point, our reading may be fleshed out by sections retrieved from the sea,» said team member Yanis Bitsakis, speaking behind a possible reconstruction of the device at a news conference on June 9. (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)

It was probably made in Greece between 200 and 70 B.C., although no maker’s signature has been found.

The team says they have read practically all the text on the surviving fragments. Their greatest hope is that archaeologists currently revisiting the shipwreck will uncover pieces overlooked by the sponge divers who found it a century ago — or even another similar mechanism.

The commercial vessel was a giant of the ancient world — at least 40 meters (130 feet) long — and broke into two as it sank, settling on a steep underwater slope about 50 meters (164 feet) deep.

Most of the inscriptions, and at least 20 gears that worked to display the planets, are still there.

«Perhaps, at some point, our reading may be fleshed out by sections retrieved from the sea,» said team member Yanis Bitsakis.

08.06.16

Stone age Aegean Sea migrants brought agriculture to Europe

http://www.ekathimerini.com/209429/article/ekathimerini/life/stone-age-aegean-sea-migrants-brought-agriculture-to-europe

FRANK JORDANS

Stone Age people from the Aegean Sea region moved into central and southern Europe some 8,000 years ago and introduced agriculture to a continent still dominated at the time by hunter-gatherers, scientists say.

The findings are based on genetic samples from ancient farming communities in Germany, Hungary and Spain. By comparing these with ancient genomes found at sites in Greece and northwest Turkey, where agriculture was practiced centuries earlier, researchers were able to draw a genetic line linking the European and Aegean populations.

The study challenges the notion that farming simply spread from one population to another through cultural diffusion. The findings were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Joachim Burger, one of the study’s authors, said genetic analyses of the samples showed that the ancient farmers in central Europe and Spain were more closely related to the Aegean group than to each other. This suggests that farmers came in two separate waves – northward into the continent and westward along the coastline to Spain.

«One is the Balkan route and one is the Mediterranean route, as we know it also from migration of today,» said Burger, an anthropologist and population geneticist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

Researchers were also able to deduce some characteristics of the ancient Aegean farmers based on their DNA, he said. They were relatively fair-skinned with dark eyes and didn’t yet have the genes necessary to digest milk after childhood – a trait that only developed in Europe later.

The Aegean farmers also appeared to be closely related to Oetzi the Iceman, whose well-preserved remains were found on a glacier on the border between Austria and Italy.

Finally, by comparing the ancient samples to those of modern-day Europeans, the scientists found that the ancient farmers weren’t their direct ancestors. These ancestors also include the hunter-gatherers, who eventually mixed with the newcomers and a third population thought to have arrived in Europe from the eastern steppes about 5,000 years ago.

An expert not involved with the study said it was «solid and well done,» but cautioned that some of its conclusions were based on limited data.

«Small statistical effects might be [a] fluke,» said Michael Hofreiter, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Potsdam, Germany.

But the insight into Europe’s Stone Age migration offered by the study was valuable, Hofreiter said.

«It adds to our knowledge about human history. And I think it is always valuable to replace speculation by factual evidence,» he said.

Burger said researchers will now investigate whether the Aegean farmers can be linked directly to populations further southeast in the Fertile Crescent stretching from Syria to southwest Iran, where agriculture is known to have first emerged more than 10,000 years ago.

Stikkord: ,
27.05.16

Is this Greek hilltop the 2,400-year-old burial place of Aristotle?

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/26/aristotle-burial-place-stagira-macedonia-greece

Greek archaeologist ‘almost certain’ he has discovered the long-sought tomb of world’s greatest philosopher

Aristotle tomb Stagira
The site in Stagira, Macedonia, in northern Greece, is near what would have been the ancient city’s main square. Photograph: PR

Greek archaeologists believe they have discovered the lost tomb of Aristotle, the greatest philosopher in history.

Kostas Sismanidis said he was almost sure that a 2,400 year-old domed vault he unearthed in ancient Stagira was the burial place of the man credited with formalising logic.

Aristotle
 Aristotle. Photograph: Alamy

“I have no hard proof, but strong indications lead me to almost certainty,” said Sismanidis.

Archaeologists have been working painstakingly at the site – the philosopher’s birthplace in 384 BC in the Greek region of Macedonia – for 20 years.

Sismanidis was due to give further details at a world congress in northern Greece of scholars specialised in Aristotle’s work. He said the architecture and location of the tomb, close to Stagira’s ancient square and with panoramic views, supported the belief that it was the philosopher’s final resting place.

Although few of Aristotle’s works have survived, two literary sources – a mainstay for archaeological discovery – suggest that the people of Stagira may have transferred his ashes from Chalcis on the island of Euboea (Chalkida on Evia today) where he is known to have died in 322 BC.

The vault, which has a square marble floor dating from Hellenistic times, appears to have been hurriedly constructed with an altar outside. Coins dated to Alexander the Great and ceramics from royal pottery were also found.

The claim was welcomed by Greece’s culture ministry; a senior aide to the minister, Aristides Baltas, said the academic community was awaiting further details.

“A team of independent archaeologists with no connection to a particular school or department have been working at the site,” the official told the Guardian. “What we know is that their excavation has been meticulous and we await further details with great anticipation.”

Plato’s star pupil, Aristotle was enrolled at the court of ancient Macedonia as the tutor of Alexander the Great. He thereafter travelled around the Aegean and Asia Minor before returning to Athens where he founded his own school, the Lyceum, in 335 BC.

An aerial view of the dig site.
An aerial view of the dig site. Photograph: PR

Remains of that complex were accidentally unearthed in 1996 during construction work for a site then earmarked for a new museum of modern art. From under the unpaved parking lot the fabled Lyceum emerged, replete with a central courtyard and wrestling area, or palaestra.

Northern Greece has been the scene of several discoveries, though not all of them have been well received. In 2014, amid great fanfare, a tomb initially believed to be the long-sought burial place of Alexander the Great was found in Amphipolis, also in central Macedonia.

Scholars subsequently agreed it was not related to the Macedonian warrior king, with many accusing authorities of deliberately overplaying the discovery to distract Greeks at a time of economic and social hardship.

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04.04.16

The Ancient Theatre of Larissa Opens its Doors to the Public

One of the best preserved ancient theatres, the Ancient Theatre of Larissa dated back to the 3rd century BC, opened its doors to the public. Following Larissa Antiquities Ephorate decision, the theatre will be open for visitors every day from 10.00-13.00 with free entrance. The Ancient Theatre of Larissa is one of the best preserved and larger theatres of the ancient world that could host approximately 12.000 spectators. The visitors will have access to the area of the orchestra and the stage. However, the seats and the other areas of the theatre will not be accessible because they are under restoration.
31.03.16

Studer klassisk filologi!

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17.03.16

“Aristotle Anniversary Year: From Hate Speech to tolerance and understanding” Symposium

http://www.megaron.gr/default.asp?pid=5&la=2&evID=3132