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Drought Led to Demise of Ancient City of Angkor

Angkor Wat
© Mary Beth Day, University of Cambridge
The ancient city of Angkor is best known for its ruined temple of Angkor Wat.

The ancient city of Angkor - the most famous monument of which is the breathtaking ruined temple of Angkor Wat - might have collapsed due to valiant but ultimately failed efforts to battle drought, scientists find.

The great city of Angkor in Cambodia, first established in the ninth century, was the capital of the Khmer Empire, the major player in southeast Asia for nearly five centuries. It stretched over more than 385 square miles (1,000 square kilometers), making it the most extensive urban complex of the preindustrial world. In comparison, Philadelphia covers 135 square miles (350 sq. km), while Phoenix sprawls across more than 500 square miles (1,300 sq. km), not including the huge suburbs.

Suggested causes for the fall of the Khmer Empire in the late 14th to early 15th centuries have included war and land overexploitation. However, recent evidence suggests that prolonged droughts might have been linked to the decline of Angkor - for instance, tree rings from Vietnam suggest the region experienced long spans of drought interspersed with unusually heavy rainfall.

Angkor possessed a complex network of channels, moats, and embankments and reservoirs known as barays to collect and store water from the summer monsoons for use in rice paddy fields in case of drought. To learn more about how the Khmer managed their water, scientists analyzed a 6-foot (2-meter)-long core sample of sediment taken from the southwest corner of the largest Khmer reservoir, the West Baray, which could hold 1.87 billion cubic feet (53 million cubic meters) of water, more than 20 times the amount of stone making up the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Star of David

Jewish Man Exposes Israel's Lies

The author Miko Peled, son of an Israeli general and born in Israel, condems Israeli policies and lies and reveals the truth about the Zionist state.


Comment: Sott.net highly recommends the Controversy of Zion by Douglas Reed for an accurate account of the foundation of Israel.


Hourglass

Spain: Irikaitz archaeological site: only for the tenacious

The recent discovery of a pendant at the Irikaitz archaeological site in Zestoa (in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa) has given rise to intense debate: it may be as old as 25,000 years, which would make it the oldest found to date at open-air excavations throughout the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. This stone is nine centimetres long and has a hole for hanging it from the neck although it would seem that, apart from being adornment, it was used to sharpen tools. The discovery has had great repercussion, but it is not by any means the only one uncovered here by the team led by Álvaro Arrizabalaga: "Almost every year some archaeological artefact of great value is discovered; at times, even 8 or 10. It is a highly fruitful location".

Irikaitz lies behind the bath spa in Zestoa, on the other side of the river Urola, 14 metres from the river bank. The archaeologist from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) has been carrying out excavations here summer after summer, together with students and researchers from this and other universities and in cooperation with Aranzadi Science Society. Since 1998 they have uncovered 32 square metres; nothing compared to the eight hectares (at least) that this "gigantic" open-air site covers. This is archaeology, demanding a lot of patience, but the results are worth it: "You feel as if you have found something that has been waiting to fall into your hands for 200,000 years".

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Lovers' Pipe Dreams Emerge from Jerusalem Excavation

Pipe
© Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
This centuries-old pipe bears an inscription that indicates it may have been a gift between lovers.

An archaeological excavation in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem has uncovered a centuries-old clay pipe inscribed with the phrase "Love is the language for lovers."

Literally translated, the inscription reads "Heart is language for the lover." And, not surprisingly, it was most likely a gift to a lover, according to Shahar Puni, of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

"Clay pipes of this kind were very common in the Ottoman period, were mostly used for smoking tobacco, and some were even used to smoke hashish," Puni said in a statement. Hashish comes from the cannabis plant, like marijuana.

During this period, from the 16th to the 19th century, Jerusalem was part of the vast Ottoman Empire, a Turkish state that reached into Asia, Africa and Europe.

Sherlock

Graeco-Roman masks shed light on cultural past

Two masks found in a grave during excavations in the central Anatolian province of Eskişehir's Şarhöyük-Dorylaion Necropolis site are expected to shed light on ancient culture. The masks date back to 1 A.D.
Image
© Hurriyet
The masks date back to 1 AD and symbolize abundance and plentitude
Anadolu University Archaeology Department Professor Taciser Sivas said the masks were regarded as the most beautiful historical findings of the year. Excavations in the necropolis had been continuing since 2005, she said. "The masks were broken, but we have repaired the broken pieces. There are horns of a mythical figure on one of the masks, symbolizing a satyr [a half-human and half-goat god]. The other is bigger and white, with black and red hair."

Sivas said the masks had been worn to symbolize abundance and plentitude at wine-harvest ceremonies in ancient times. They were still being produced through the end of the Roman period.

"Masks were used during religious ceremonies. It is very significant the masks were found in Şarhöyük as Eskişehir became the capital of Turkish world culture."

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Ancient Texts Part of Earliest Known Documents

Ancient Stele
© The Schøyen Collection, MS 2063
Detail of the Tower of Babel stele, with the engraving of King Nebuchadnezzar II.

A team of scholars has discovered what might be the oldest representation of the Tower of Babel of Biblical fame, they report in a newly published book.

Carved on a black stone, which has already been dubbed the Tower of Babel stele, the inscription dates to 604-562 BCE.

It was found in the collection of Martin Schøyen, a businessman from Norway who owns the largest private manuscript assemblage formed in the 20th century.

Consisting of 13,717 manuscript items spanning over‭ ‬5,000‭ ‬years, the collection includes parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Buddhist manuscript rescued from the Taliban, and even cylcon symbols by Australia's Aborigines which can be up to 20,000 years old.

The collection also includes a large number of pictographic and cuneiform tablets -- which are some of the earliest known written documents -- seals and royal inscription spanning most of the written history of Mesopotamia, an area near modern Iraq.

A total of 107 cuneiform texts dating from the Uruk period about 5,000 years ago to the Persian period about 2,400 years ago, have been now translated by an international group of scholars and published in the book Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions and Related Texts in the Schøyen Collection.

The Tower of Babel stele stands out as one of "the stars in the firmament of the book," wrote Andrew George, a professor of Babylonian at the University of London and editor of the book.

The spectacular stone monument clearly shows the Tower and King Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled Babylon some 2,500 years ago.

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Rare Cuneiform Script Found on Island of Malta

Ancient Script
© Popular Archaeology
A small-sized find in an ancient megalithic temple stirs the imagination.
Excavations among what many scholars consider to be the world's oldest monumental buildings on the island of Malta continue to unveil surprises and raise new questions about the significance of these megalithic structures and the people who built them. Not least is the latest find - a small but rare, crescent-moon shaped agate stone featuring a 13th-century B.C.E. cuneiform inscription, the likes of which would normally be found much farther east in Mesopotamia.

Led by palaeontology professor Alberto Cazzella of the University of Rome "La Sapienza", the archaeological team found the inscribed stone in the sancturary site of Tas-Silg, a megalithic temple built during the late Neolithic period, and which has been used for various religious and ceremonial purposes by the ancients from the third millennium BC to the Byzantine era. The inscription was translated as a dedication to the Mesopotamian moon god Sin, the father of Ninurta who, for centuries, was the main deity worshiped far to the east in the city of Nippur in Mesopotamia. Nippur was considered a holy city and a pilgrimage site with a scribal school that generated literary texts.

Top Secret

Vatican Throws Light on History as it Opens Secret Archives

Vatican scrolls
© Archivo Segreto Vaticano
As the confidential correspondence of popes, princes and potentates, the Vatican Secret Archives have been jealously guarded for centuries.

But now 100 of the most historically significant documents held by the Vatican's Secret Archives are to go on public display in Rome - the first and probably last time that they will leave the buttressed stone walls of the tiny city state.

The priceless documents span more than a millennium, from the 8th century to modern times, and feature a cast of historical characters ranging from the Knights Templar to Galileo, Martin Luther and Henry VIII.

They are normally kept in air-conditioned, climate-controlled rooms in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, which boasts more than 50 miles of shelves, as well as in a high-security underground bunker.

Archivists have gathered them together for an unprecedented exhibition, to be held in Rome's Capitoline Museums, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Secret Archives in their present form.

Sherlock

Early Christian Church and Cemetery Unearthed in Syria

A Syrian archeological expedition working at the site of Tal Hasaka, northeastern Syria, have unearthed a church and cemetery dating back to the Early Christian Era during its fourth excavation season.

Image
© The Archaeology News Network
Head of the expedition, Abdul-Masih Baghdo, said the church is 22.50 m long and 14.50 m wide, located to the south of a cathedral which was discovered during the past three seasons.

The church was built with basalt stones, with its walls painted with gypsum.

Baghdo pointed out that the church can be entered from the southern part of Tal Hasaka through an entrance leading to a lobby, adding that the first part of the church can be accessed through 3 entrances, 1 m wide each.

Attention

Turkey: Bracelet Reveals Amazing Craftsman's Skill From 7500BC

obsidian bracelet
© CNRS
Polished skills: The obsidian bracelet contains remarkable detail
A 9,500-year-old bracelet has been analysed using the very latest computers - and the results show that it is so intricate even today's craftsmen would struggle to improve it.

Researchers from the Institut Français d'Etudes Anatoliennes in Istanbul and Laboratoire de Tribologie et de Dynamiques des Systèmes studied the bracelet's surface and its micro-topographic features revealing the astounding technical expertise of the maker.

The bracelet is obsidian - which means it's made from volcanic glass - and the researchers analysis of it sheds new light on Neolithic societies, which remain highly mysterious.

Discovered in 1995 at the site of Asıklı Höyük in Turkey, it was analysed by software designed to characterise the 'orange peel effect' on car bodywork.