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Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

Excavations of architecture and associated deposits left by hunter-gatherers in the Black Desert in eastern Jordan have revealed bones from wild sheep — a species previously not identified in this area in the Late Pleistocene. According to the team of University of Copenhagen archaeologists, who led the excavations, the discovery is further evidence that the region often seen as a ‘marginal zone’ was capable of supporting a variety of resources, including a population of wild sheep, 14,500 years ago.

Source: Wild sheep grazed in the Black Desert 14,500 years ago

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A large Byzantine-era wine press uncovered in the Negev region is only the second of its kind to be found

Source: 1,600 years ago, soldiers may have quaffed wine from this desert press

The wine press in Ramat Negev is intermeshed with a building, as seen above, summer 2017. (Davida Dagan, Israel Antiquities Authority)

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A global team of researchers has published the first-ever Wild Emmer wheat genome sequence in Science magazine. Wild Emmer wheat is the original form of nearly all the domesticated wheat in the world, including durum (pasta) and bread wheat. Wild emmer is too low-yielding to be of use to farmers today, but it contains many attractive characteristics that are being used by plant breeders to improve wheat.

Source: Wheat genome sequencing provides ‘time tunnel’ — boosting future food production & safety

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Two of my favorite things…Emmer and Haiku, how could I resist.

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Linear A haiku: the sea emmer wheat raindrops:Believe it or not, I was also able to compose a haiku in Linear A, which reads as follows,Linear A haiku tarasa kunisu raniNote that while the word for sea, tarasa, does not appear on any extant Linear A tablets or fragments, it does appear in the pre-Greek substratum, and may very well have existed in the Minoan vernacular. 

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14,000-year-old faba seeds contain clues to the timing of the plants’ domestication
[Credit: Weizmann Institute of Science]

Original article:

Archaeologynewsnetwork

Like all food crops, the faba, or fava, bean — a nutritious part of many the diet of many cultures diets — had a wild ancestor. Wild faba is presumed to be extinct, but Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have now identified 14,000-year-old remains of seeds that offer important clues as to the time and place that this plant grew naturally. Understanding the ecology of the wild plants’ environment and the evolution they underwent in the course of domestication is crucial to improving the biodiversity of the modern crop. The findings were reported in Scientific Reports.

Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto, head of the “Timing of Cultural Changes” track of the Max Planck-Weizmann Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology, and Dr. Valentina Caracuta, a former postdoctoral fellow in Boaretto’s group who is currently a researcher at the University of Salento-Italy, had previously shown that the 10,200-year-old faba beans discovered in three archaeological sites in Lower Galilee were the earliest faba bean ever domesticated.

The new finding — faba seeds from an archaeological site, el-Wad, on Mount Carmel in Northern Israel — came from the earliest levels of an excavation that had been carried out by Profs. Mina Evron and Daniel Kaufman, and Dr. Reuven Yeshurun, all of Haifa University. The people living at that time, the Natufians, were hunter-gathers, and thus the plants there were growing wild. Boaretto and Caracuta performed radiocarbon dating and micro X-ray CT analysis on the preserved pieces of bean to pinpoint their age and identify them as the ancestors of the modern fava bean.

“Sometime between 11,000 and 14,000 years ago, people in this region domesticated faba — around the same time that others farther north were domesticating wheat and barley,” says Boaretto. Faba, a nutritious legume, is eaten around the world; in some places it is used for animal feed; and it fixes nitrogen in the soil. “Understanding how this plant was adapted to the habitat of the Carmel 14,000 years ago can help us understand how to create new modern varieties that will better be able to withstand pests and tolerate environmental stress,” she says.

This research is supported by by the Max Planck-Weizmann Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology “Timing of Cultural Changes”; and the Exilarch Foundation for the Dangoor Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometer. The faba bean sample was dated at the Dangoor Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometer D-REAMS, Weizmann Institute of Science.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute is home to scientists, students, technicians and supporting staff. Institute research efforts include the search for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.

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Original Article:

Livescience.com

By Laura  Geggel

 

A previously overlooked inky inscription on a pottery shard found in Israel calls for the delivery of more wine, according to a new study, showing that not much has changed in 2,600 years for humanity, at least when it comes to wetting our whistles.

The pottery fragment — called an ostracon, or an ink-inscribed shard — was found in 1965 at the desert fortress of Arad in Israel. The shard was in poor condition, but researchers were able to date it to around 600 B.C., right before Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, destroyed the kingdom of Judah.

After discovering the shard, researchers noticed an ink inscription on its front, which begins with a blessing of Yahweh (a Hebrew name for God), then describes money transfers. Biblical scholars and archaeologists have extensively studied this inscription, so researchers were taken aback when they found the overlooked message on the ostracon’s backside.

While its front side has been thoroughly studied, its back was considered blank,” study co-principal investigator Arie Shaus, a doctoral student of applied mathematics and archaeology at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel, said in a statement.

Revealing hidden text
The research team used multispectral imaging, a technique that uses different frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum to capture data from an image. Study co-researcher Michael Cordonsky, a physicist at TAU, noticed the scribbled note on the ostracon’s backside.

“To our surprise, three new lines of text were revealed.” Shaus said.

Using the results from the multispectral imaging, the team deciphered 50 characters making up 17 words on the back of the shard, which had been on display at the Israel Museum for more than 50 years.

“The content of the reverse side implies it is a continuation of the text on the front side,” study co-principal investigator Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin, a doctoral student of applied mathematics at TAU, said in the statement.

Send wine
The newly discovered and translated inscription says, “If there is any wine, send … If there is any-thing (else) you need, send (= write me about it). And if there is still … gi[ve] them (an amount of) Xar out of it. And Ge’alyahu has taken a bat of sparkling (?) wine.”

“The new inscription begins with a request for wine, as well as a guarantee for assistance if the addressee has any requests of his own,” Shaus said. “It concludes with a request for the provision of a certain commodity to an unnamed person, and a note regarding a ‘bath,’ an ancient measurement of wine, carried by a man named Ge’alyahu.”

The note is “an administrative text, like most of the Arad inscriptions,” study co-researcher Anat Mendel-Geberovich, an archaeologist at TAU, said in the statement. “Its importance lies in the fact that each new line, word and even a single sign is a precious addition to what we know about the First Temple period.”

As for who the request was being made to, Mendel-Geberovich said that “many of these inscriptions are addressed to Elyashiv, the quartermaster of the fortress.”

The finding shows the power of multispectral imaging, especially its use on artifacts that have already been studied, but might have had overlooked components, the researchers said.

“This is ongoing research,” study co-researcher Barak Sober, a doctoral student of applied mathematics at TAU, said in the statement. “The future may hold additional surprises.”

The study was published online June 14 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Original article on Live Science.

 

 

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Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority archaeologist Abdulla Al Kaabi recording detail of the 7,000-year-old house on the island of Marawah, which reveals much about the lives and habits of Abu Dhabi’s earliest inhabitants. Photo courtesy Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority

 

Original Article:

By Shireena Al Nowais

the national.ae

ABU DHABI // Archaeologists have revealed the discovery of what they describe as one of the most remarkable and rare finds in the Gulf region – a 7,500-year-old, well-preserved three-room house.

The house was excavated on Marawah Island, just off the coast of Abu Dhabi, at what was once one of the region’s largest Stone Age settlements.

“These important discoveries signify Abu Dhabi’s advanced construction methods from the Neolithic [era] and the influential role it had in early long-distance maritime trade,” said ­Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

“The expertise of our team of archaeologists allows us to build a narrative of the emirate’s ­development and history, piecing together an intriguing and intricate story of the earliest known inhabitants of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.”

Abdulla Al Kaabi, TCA coastal heritage archaeologist, said radiocarbon dating of the deposit revealed the age of the house.

“This style of architecture is unique for this period and has never been found before in the region,” he said.

Dr Mark Beech, head of coastal heritage and palaeontology at TCA, said it was “very unusual” to find a Stone Age house “so well preserved that you have a complete plan of the structure”.

“It’s a stunning find because there are no parallels to it anywhere else in the Gulf coast region,” he said.

“You can see the back yard and small walls projecting out, which is where the cooking was carried out, just like traditional Arabian houses. We knew it was a Stone Age site but did not expect it to be so well preserved.”

The walls of the home are up to 70 centimetres wide, which enabled the residents to have corbelled walls, meaning they could build a dome shape by placing the stones on top of each other.

The site was excavated at one of seven mounds on the island.

Archaeologists predict that a complete Stone Age village could be unearthed.

“There are seven major mounds and we picked the smallest to excavate, so they potentially may have more than one structure,” Dr Beech said.

TCA said that artefacts found on the island had helped archaeologists piece together what life was like for these villagers.

They herded sheep and goats, and used stone tools to hunt and butcher other animals, such as gazelle. Small beads made from shell and a small shark’s tooth were also found at the site and had been very carefully drilled, leading archaeologists to believe they were probably worn as adornments.

One of their most significant finds, during previous excavations, was a decorated ceramic jar from Iraq – the earliest evidence of sea trade during that period.

“The recent excavations have clarified a lot of questions we had about this period,” Dr Beech said. “It tells us about life in the Stone Age and that people had domestic animals, but they also relied a lot on marine life.

“It also shows that they had a varied diet and were involved in long-distance trade, as we see with the pottery. Life on these islands was actually quite good.

“You had food resources, water supply and trade, and, of course, the climate was better than the present time.”

Villagers lived in a completely different setting, with freshwater lakes and more vegetation.

While the island is a marine protected site and not open to the public, some items could be placed on display at public museums.

“Material will gradually go on display but we are still studying, doing investigations and preparing publications,” said Dr Beech.

“Sometimes it takes many years of work to document a site because we have to be very careful, drawing maps, documenting, studying.”

The Marawah excavations will continue for many years because “it’s a slow, painstaking process of digging, screening and putting everything through a 1 millimetre sieve and sorting it”, he said.

New excavations at Baynunah, about 130 kilometres south-west of Abu Dhabi, have also revealed a different side of ancient life in the emirate.

The desert surface of the site is “littered” with white fragments of bones of ancient wild camels – the remains of animals that were hunted and killed 6,500 years ago, TCA said.

The site has provided the earliest evidence in the Middle East for the mass killing of wild camels. Research is being conducted on the near-complete skeletons that will allow experts to discover more about the biology of wild camels, TCA said.

 

 

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