Scientists Analyze Ancient Canaanite DNA\
HINXTON, ENGLAND—According to a report in Science News, researchers led by Marc Haber of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute mapped the genomes of five 3,700-year-old Canaanite skeletons uncovered in Sidon, Lebanon, and compared the results with other ancient and modern populations.
Little is known about the Canaanites, who left few written records. Scholars have had to rely upon second-hand accounts written by ancient Hebrew, Egyptian, and Greek sources for historical information on the origins and supposed demise of the Canaanites. The results of the DNA study suggest that the Canaanites descended from early farmers who settled in the Levant some 10,000 years ago, and migrants from Iran who arrived between 6,600 and 3,550 years ago.
The spread of the Akkadian Empire between 4,400 and 4,200 years ago could account for the large contribution of migrants from the east to Canaanite ancestry. In fact, a similar mixture of genes has been found in ancient skeletons unearthed in Jordan. The researchers also found that modern Lebanese people received about 93 percent of their DNA from the ancient Canaanites. The remaining seven percent likely came from Eurasians who arrived in the Levant some 3,700 to 2,200 years ago.
Revealing Discoveries of Rare Ivory and Unique Gold Coin from Byzantine Bulgarian Fortress
An extremely rare find of an ivory icon has been made just a few days after a unique Byzantine gold coin dating back to Emperor Phocas’ reign (602-610 AD) was uncovered during excavation works at Rusokastro Fortress, which is located on a hill near Zhelyazovo village, in Burgas district in southeastern Bulgaria.
Milen Nikolov, head of the Regional History Museum in Bourgas, said of the ivory find was, “much more valuable than gold in the Middle Ages”, as reported by Sofiaglobe. The extreme value of the piece and where it was found leads the archaeologists to conclude that the icon was a possession of one of the emperors who had occupied the fortress over the centuries.
“Historically, it is definitely the place where Tsar Ivan Alexander, Emperor Andronik III Paleologus, and probably King Todor Svetoslav Terter resided’, Nikolov informed Sofiaglobe.
Only one other such ivory icon has been discovered in Bulgaria by archaeologists and that was over a century ago making this an extremely rare find. The valuable ivory piece is yet to be dated but probably dates from after the building of the palace in the 14th century.
Monumental Tomb Discovered Near Pompeii
NAPLES, ITALY—A monumental tomb with a long funerary epigraph describing the life of the deceased has been discovered in Porta Stabia, according to a report in ANSAmed.
The inscription is missing the man’s name, but it says he was a duoviro, or Pompeii city magistrate, and describes his coming of age, his wedding, and his sponsorship of banquets and games. The inscription also contains information about an armed brawl at a gladiator show in Pompeii in 59 B.C., in which the tomb’s occupant may have been killed. We know from an account left by the Roman historian Tacitus that after a Senate investiga
tion into the brawl, ordered by Emperor Nero, that the residents of Pompeii were forbidden to hold gladiator games for ten years, and those who organized the games and incited the clash were exiled. Pompeii’s general director, Massimo Osanna, said the newly found inscription complements the account left by Tacitus and mentions that some of the city’s magistrates were also exiled.
Christian Crucifix Found at Michigan’s Fort Michilimackinac
— Archaeologists working at the site of an eighteenth-century fur trader’s home in Fort Michilimackinac have discovered a small brass crucifix. Archaeologist Lynn Evans suggested the artifact may be older than the British trade silver uncovered at the site last week.
Located on the shore of the Straits of Mackinac, the fort was constructed by French soldiers in 1715 and thrived as a center of the fur trade, even after the British took control in 1761.
During the Revolutionary War, however, the British demolished the fort and moved the fur trading hub to Mackinac Island. The cross was found in the rubble left behind at the site of the original fort.
Byzantine-Era Wine Press Discovered in Israel
RAMAT NEGEV, ISRAEL—A 1,600-year-old wine press has been found in a large building along the incense trade route in the southern Negev desert, according to a report in The Times of Israel.
Archaeologist Tali Gini of the Israel Antiquities Authority said the stone building measured about 44 yards square—large enough to have supplied wine for an army unit or for export throughout the Byzantine Empire. Its juice run-off pit could have held more than 1,500 gallons. “In the entire southern Negev region, there is only one other wine press that is included inside an enclosed structure,” commented archaeologist Yoram Chaimi.
Gini thinks the winepress fell out of use after a sixth-century plague, when there was less need for wine in the region.
6th Century Roman Law Text Discovered After Being Hidden for Centuries Inside Parchment Recycled as Medieval Bookbinding
The secrets within medieval manuscripts can be read once again, thanks to modern technology and new imaging techniques. Experts now suggest that computational imaging and signal processing advances open up a whole new way to read many texts that were once considered inaccessible.
By combining two imaging techniques (visible hyperspectral imaging and x-ray fluorescence), a diverse team of Northwestern University researchers has developed a new technology that gives access to medieval texts hidden in parchment re-used for ancient book-bindings, as Live Science reported. The new technology is seen by researchers as truly innovative, as it can be used to help decipher the text under the surface of other bookbinding materials.
“For generations, scholars have thought this information was inaccessible, so they thought, ‘Why bother?'” the study’s senior researcher, Marc Walton, a senior scientist at the Northwestern University-Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies (NU-ACCESS), said in a statement as Live Science reports. And continued, “But now computational imaging and signal processing advances open up a whole new way to read these texts.”
Last summer, researchers discovered traces of early medieval life at Tintagel in Cornwall, on England’s southwest coast, where the legendary British monarch was said to have been born.Now, they’ve returned to the site for another round of digging, to further explore buried buildings dated from the fifth to the seventh centuries.
The striking ruins of a 13th-century castle still stand on the Tintagel headland, but the site’s history stretches back further, to the centuries after the end of Roman rule. It was during this time that King Arthur is said to have fought the invading Saxons. Tintagel is the birthplace of Arthur, according to a 12th-century writer named Geoffrey of Monmouth, who popularized legends about the king and the wizard Merlin. Still, there’s no airtight historic evidence that Arthur existed.
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