Lasers Reveal Underground ‘Super Henge’ (Popular Science)

Rafi Letzter p

Stonehenge

Copyright BBC News

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A new, detailed map of the Stonehenge area, including the newly-discovered “super-henge” © LBI ArchPro, Wolfgang Neubauer

Near the prehistoric Stonehenge monument, archeologists have found the buried traces of a “super henge” more than 4,900 feet in circumference. That’s about as big around as the Astrodome and Cowboys Stadium combined — and 14 times larger than the iconic stone circle. Scientists used various instruments to scan to a depth of up to 3 meters including a magnetometer, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and a 3D laser scanner.

The super henge is comprised of dozens of newly discovered features, including an array of up to more than 50 ten-foot pillars, some of which may still be deep underground. The surveyors also uncovered 17 ritual monuments, including “massive prehistoric pits” that may have been dug along astronomic lines, and a “long barrow” — a huge wooden building believed to have been used as a mortuary for excarnation (stripping flesh from bones).

Archeologists believe the Stonehenge complex was built and modified over a period of 11,000 years. Questions about the function of its various structures remain but new information is being uncovered as we read this which will change the history of Stonehenge as we have come to know it.

Because most of the clues about the ancient construction lie deep underground, the archeologists developed new techniques for finding the traces of pits and pillars. They beamed radar and lasers into the ground, and wheeled scanners over a vast area to study subtle changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.

Not everything discovered at the site is millennia old. The surveyors were able to pinpoint practice trenches dug during the First World War to prepare troops for battle, as well as traces of a military airbase — one of the U.K.’s first — built at the site a few years later.

 Ground penetration A tractor pushes an antenna array designed to study buried remains of monuments. © LBI ArchPro, Wolfgang Neubauer

Ground penetration – A tractor pushes an antenna array designed to study buried remains of monuments. © LBI ArchPro, Wolfgang Neubauer

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3D Reconstruction A 3D rendering of a “long barrow” burial site based on traces of the wooden posts detected during the survey.© LBI ArchPro, Joachim Brandtner

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What was discovered about cave paintings will shock you and change the history books

Hand stencil in a cave in Indonesia, dated to at least 39,900 years old (photograph by Kinza Riza, via Nature.com)

Stencil of a hand from cave in Indonesia, possibly older than 39,900 years old (photo by Kinza Riza, via Nature.com)

New evidence was published last week in the journal Nature that proves Europe is no longer the birthplace of art. A team of archeologists from Australia and Indonesia headed by Maxime Aubert and Adam Brumm of Griffith University investigated a series of cave paintings in Maros on the southern part of the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. These scientists analyzed the 12 stencils of human hands and two paintings of animals at seven different sites in the caves. The cave paintings had stalactite-like mineral growths that aided in the current dating of these paintings. The new  dating of rock art found in Indonesia dates to the same time as cave paintings at the Cave of El Castillo in Cantabria, Northern Spain. This proves that similar art was being made in the Pacific region of the world at the same time as the oldest European cave art and changes the present ideas about humans first developed the ability to produce art. Previously, these painting were assumed to be no more than 10,000 years old but newly developed techniques of examining mineral deposits created the circumstances to correctly date these works of art.

There are also cave paintings that date as early as 27,000 years ago making this a location that was used for approximately 13,000 years. Additionally, other cave paintings located about 1ookm away in the regency of Bone cannot be dated because they lack the mineral deposits but may possibly be just as old as the Maros cave paintings because of stylistic similarities.

The "pig-deer" and the adjacent hand outline (screenshot by the author via YouTube/Nature.com)

The “pig-deer” and the “signature” of the artist (screenshot by the author via YouTube/Nature.com and Hyperallergic.com

The “pig-deer” painting show above, also called a babirusa, is a bit younger than some of the other cave paintings with a date of approximately 35,400 years old, concurrent with Chauvet Caves. This animal painting is one of the oldest figural cave paintings in the world, possibly the oldest.

Maxime Aubert looking at cave art (from BBC News)

Maxime Aubert looking at cave art (from BBC News)

Archeologists believe these hand prints are approximately 40,0000 years old and the artists made them by blowing paint around hands that were pressed tightly to the cave walls and ceilings. Some of the hands in these caves in Indonesia are possibly the oldest hand paintings in the world.

 

Vatican Rents Out Sistine Chapel as New Visitor Limits Are Announced (Hyperallergic)

by Mostafa Heddaya on October 20, 2014 original article here.

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The Sistine Chapel (photo by BriYYZ/Flickr)

For the first time in its 600-year history, the Sistine Chapel has been rented out for a private event organized by Porsche, the Telegraph reported. The German automaker hosted a charity concert in the space for 40 guests on its €5,000-a-head (~$8,000) Porsche Travel Club tour of Rome over the weekend. Singing for the automotive enthusiasts under Michelangelo’s 16th-century frescoes was a choir from the 500-year-old Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Though it is not the first time such a concert has been held at the Sistine Chapel, it is the first time the audience has been a corporate donor rather than a private Vatican audience.

“It is an initiative which will support the Pope’s charity projects. It is aimed at big companies which, through the payment of a fee, can contribute to charity activities,” administrative director of the Vatican Museums Monsignor Paolo Nicolini told The Telegraph. The Vatican declined to disclose the exact amount changing hands, though in a coinciding announcement the Church announced it would cap the number of visitors to the Sistine Chapel at 6 million annually. The director of the Vatican Museums told The Telegraph that the site has “reached the maximum number of visitors possible.”

Corrosion from high visitor traffic is the primary worry for limiting the number of visitors to the space, which underwent an extensive restoration completed in 1994. It is unclear what mechanism — reservations or otherwise — the Vatican will adopt to curb visitor flow and behavior, currently thought to be around 5 or 6 million visitors per year. A reduction in access to the Sistine Chapel has been discussed since at least 2012, when the Italian literary critic Pietro Citati wrote that the crowds there “resemble drunken herds.”

The decision taken by the Vatican under Pope Francis seems to follow in the steps of his predecessor’s views on the subject. “When contemplated in prayer, the Sistine Chapel is even more beautiful, more authentic. It reveals itself in all its richness,” Pope Benedict XVI said in 2012.

‘Evil Eye’ Box and Other Ancient Treasures Found in Nile River Cemetery (Yahoo)

By Owen Jarus

In the Sudan cemetery, researchers found a faience box decorated with large eyes that may have been meant to protect against the “evil eye.”

Ancient tombs (shown here after being excavated) discovered in modern-day Dangeil date back 2,000 years, to a time when the kingdom Kush flourished on the shores of the Nile River in Sudan.

A 2,000-year-old cemetery with several underground tombs has been discovered near the Nile River in Sudan.

Archaeologists excavated several of the underground tombs, finding artifacts such as a silver ring, engraved with an image of a god, and a faience box, decorated with large eyes, which a researcher believes protected against the evil eye.

Villagers discovered the cemetery accidently in 2002 while digging a ditch near the modern-day village of Dangeil, and archaeological excavations have been ongoing since then. The finds were reported recently in a new book.

The cemetery dates back to a time when a kingdom called Kush flourished in Sudan. Based in the ancient city of Meroe (just south of Dangeil) Kush controlled a vast territory; its northern border stretched to Roman-controlled Egypt. At times, it was ruled by a queen. [See Photos of the Ancient Sudan Cemetery & Tombs]

Although the Kushites built hundreds of pyramids, this particular cemetery contains no structures on the surface; the tombs are underground.

“As of now, we don’t know exactly the size of the cemetery,” Mahmoud Suliman Bashir, an archaeologist with Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), said in an interview with Live Science.

NCAM has been working with the British Museum to excavate the cemetery, and the two organizations recently published an online book, called “Excavations in the Meroitic Cemetery of Dangeil, Sudan” (Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project, 2014), describing their findings.

“The funerary tradition of the Kushites demonstrates a widespread belief in life after death. This is why goods and foods usually accompanied the corpse,” Bashir and Julie Anderson, an assistant keeper at the British Museum, wrote in their book. “These items were needed to sustain and provide for the individual in the afterlife.”

Treasures for the afterlife

The team has discovered a wide range of goods meant to aid the deceased in the afterlife, including several large jars that originally contained beer made of sorghum.

In one tomb, they found a silver ring with an image of a horned deity. The ring was conserved and cleaned at the British Museum, and its scholars believe the ring depicts the god Amun, who, in the kingdom of Kush, was often shown with a head that looks like a ram. A temple to Amun dating to the same time period as the cemetery is located in Dangeil.

Ancient officials used rings like this to create seal impressions in pottery, Bashir said, adding that examples made of silver are rare.

The tombs in the cemetery yielded other treasures, including a faience box, decorated with what the ancient Kushites and Egyptians called “udjat” eyes — “a well-known tradition in Egypt,” Bashir said, noting that the Kushites also made use of them. “It had a kind of ritual role to [protect] from the evil eye,” Bashir said.

In the cemetery archaeologists also found an interesting “party tray,” which consists of seven bowls attached together; six of the bowls surround another bowl in the middle. “It’s very unique, and we don’t have any kind of similar object found anywhere else,” Bashir said. “It can be used for food. You can put seven different items in one place.”

An archer’s burial

One tomb yielded arrowheads and the remains of a man wearing a stone ring (also called an archer’s loose) on his thumb. “Thumb rings are well-known objects associated with archery, being used to draw back the bowstring,” Bashir and Anderson wrote in their book.

In Kush, archery played an important role in society, with its kings and queens depicted wearing stone rings on their thumbs, Bashir and Anderson wrote. The Kushite god Apedemak, the lion-headed “god of war,” was also depicted as an archer, Bashir said.

Dangeil is located south of the fifth cataract of the Nile River. Excavations at the cemetery are being carried out by the Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project, a collaboration between NCAM and the British Museum.

The Camera as an Afterthought: Defining Post-Photography (Hyperallergic)

by Allison Meier on October 7, 2014 original article here.

Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera by Robert Shore

Christy Lee Rogers, “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” (2012), from “Reckless Unbound” (all images courtesy Laurence King Publishing)

Photography as medium is not dead, but you can argue it is in a contemporary state of flux. In his new book Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera, released last month by Laurence King Publishing, Robert Shore amasses 300 works by artists who are using photography in an altered state, whether it’s staged, found imagery, or claiming the digital as their own.

Cover of "Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera" (courtesy Laurence King Publishing)

Cover of “Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera” (courtesy Laurence King Publishing)

“Post-photography is a moment, not a movement,” Shore writes. The book claims to be the first publication to look specifically at these artists who are now experimenting intensely with the found and distorted in the visuals of photography. Shore sets the current scene in an introductory essay:

“Given the abundance of pre-existing visual material in our hyper-documented world, it’s unsurprising that an increasing amount of photographic art begins with someone else’s pictures. There’s nothing new about appropriating found imagery for fine-art purposes. But the sources, methods, and goals are fast-evolving. If digital culture has transformed photographic practice — that is, how pictures are taken and displayed — it has had no less profound an impact on how found materials are sought and then manipulated.”

Each artist in the large book with its cardboard cover is given space to discuss how and why they work in a “post-photography” mode. There’s Julia Borissova delicately collaging petals on vintage photographs from the St. Petersburg flea market, along with Steffi Klenz concocting volatile chemicals on negatives of furniture she stacks on the verge of collapse. Others create their own bridges between fiction and reality, like Cristina de Middel documenting the 1960s Zambian plan to send astronauts to the moon, giving imagery to a story that lacks it. The augmentation of reality by digital means is on heavy view, especially in appropriation like Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth that show highways bending at unnatural angles, revealing how the layered system of topography and aerial imagery actually works.

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Photographs of paintings with their museum glares by Jorma Puranen (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Cristina De Middel, "Iko Iko" from "The Afronauts" (2011)

Cristina De Middel, “Iko Iko” from “The Afronauts” (2011)

Cristina De Middel, "Bongo" from "The Afronauts" (2011)

Cristina De Middel, “Bongo” from “The Afronauts” (2011)

Yet there are all also artists actively working outside of digital manipulation, such as Christy Lee Rogers whose photographs in the water at night of people swirled in colored clothes resemble Old Masters paintings. “My intention is to create something magical that could exist, not something that I feel people will think is fake or false,” she explains.

Back in 2011, as Shore points out in Post-Photography, the World Press Photo awards caused quite a stir when Michael Wolf got an honorable mention for his A Series of Unfortunate Events Google Street View photographs. The continued break down and manipulation of photography as it stretches beyond its definitions is likely just beginning its cascade as more and more we view the world through the digital.

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Work by Brendan Flower in “Post-Photography” (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

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Nicole Belle, “Untitled,” from “Rev Sanchez” (2008)

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Michael Wolf, “Tokyo Compression 17″ (2010), a series on commuters on the train

Richard Mosse, "Rebel Rebel" (2010), from "Infra," taken with Aerochrome infrared film

Richard Mosse, “Rebel Rebel” (2010), from “Infra,” taken with Aerochrome infrared film

Benjamin Lowy, "Perspectives II: Nightvision" (2003-08), from "Iraq" taken with night-vision goggles US military issued ISKANDARIYA, IRAQ - JULY 15: US soldiers patrol a marsh-like field as units with the 509th Infantry Division and the 3rd Infantry's Aviation Brigade launch a joint air assault, raiding over 30 targeted areas in a large rural area near Iskanderiyah on July 15, 2007 in Iskandariya, Iraq. The raid targeted IED production and a search for suspected insurgets. The area south of Baghdad has had little US army presence in the last 6 months, and is considered a haven for Al Qaeda in Iraq. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Reportage by Getty Images)

Benjamin Lowy, “Perspectives II: Nightvision” (2003-08), from “Iraq” taken with night-vision goggles issued by the US military