gap news items

Jordan Valley - cradle of civilisations? - Jordan Times

AMMAN - Archaeological finds in the northern Jordan Valley are forcing experts to rethink the patterns of the earliest civilisations.

In Tabqat Fahel, 90 kilometres north of Amman, recent finds indicate that the ancient site of Pella, which spans across the earliest pre-historic times to the Mameluke era, may have been a part of the cradle of civilisations.

Over the past five seasons, University of Sydney teams have been focusing on the early Bronze Age period, 3600BC-2800BC, a time when humans went from smaller villages to larger towns and large-scale urban communities.

When Australian and Jordanian teams began exploring early urbanisation in the Jordan Valley, many expected it to occur later and be influenced by the burgeoning civilisations to the east and west.

Story Source: Jordan Times - By Taylor Luck Date: August 12th, 2010

Scholar Composes Music from Ugaritic Cuneiform Tablet - Global Arab Network

Syria (Lattakia) - Musical scholar Ziad Ajjan composed eight poetry and musical pieces from the musical archaeological cuneiform tablet known as "Hymn of Supplication" H6 discovered in Ugarit in the early 20th century.

Ajjan composed three musical pieces based on the musical notes in the tablet which dates back to 1400 BC, naming the pieces "Sunrise," "Sunset" and "Holiday in Ugarit."

This marks the recording of the oldest music notation in the history of the world.

Ajjan said he is still working on the tablet based on information he reached after extensive study and previous experiment, making use of previous research by fellow Syrian scholars Mohammad Ahmad Soso and Sajii Kurkmaz and analyzing the phrases of the tablet's text.

The tablet contains a complete hymn, both words and music, in addition to detailed performance instructions for a singer accompanied by a harpist as well as instructions on how to tune the harp.

Story Source: Global Arab Network - By H. Sabbagh Date: July 08, 2010

First humans arrived in Britain 250,000 years earlier than thought -

A spectacular haul of ancient flint tools has been recovered from a beach in Norfolk, pushing back the date of the first known human occupation of Britain by up to 250,000 years.

While digging along the north-east coast of East Anglia near the village of Happisburgh, archaeologists discovered 78 pieces of razor-sharp flint shaped into primitive cutting and piercing tools.

The stone tools were unearthed from sediments that are thought to have been laid down either 840,000 or 950,000 years ago, making them the oldest human artefacts ever found in Britain.

The flints were probably left by hunter-gatherers of the human species Homo antecessor who eked out a living on the flood plains and marshes that bordered an ancient course of the river Thames that has long since dried up. The flints were then washed downriver and came to rest at the Happisburgh site.

Story Source: - Ian Sample Date: July 07, 2010

Doomsday Ark may reside on the Moon - Daily Galaxy

"Eventually, it will be necessary to have a kind of Noah's ark there, a diversity of species from the biosphere."

Bernard Foing, Chief Scientist / Research, European Space Agency. If the human species should be destroyed on Earth, our future may reside on the Moon if plans being drawn up for a "Doomsday ark" on the moon by the European Space Agency are carried through.

The Ark will contain the essentials of life and human civilization, to be activated in the event of earth being evastated by a giant asteroid or nuclear war.

The construction of a lunar information bank, discussed at a conference in Strasbourg last month, would provide survivors on Earth with a remote-access toolkit to rebuild the human race.

A basic version of the ark would contain hard discs holding information such as DNA sequences and instructions for metal smelting or planting crops. It would be buried in a vault just under the lunar surface and transmitters would send the data to heavily protected receivers on earth. if no receivers survived, the ark would continue transmitting the information until new ones could be built.

Story Source: Daily Galaxy Date: July 04, 2010

Early modern humans use fire to engineer tools from stone

TEMPE, Ariz. "Evidence that early modern humans living on the coast of the far southern tip of Africa 72,000 years ago employed pyrotechnology " the controlled use of fire " to increase the quality and efficiency of their stone tool manufacturing process, is being reported in the Aug. 14 issue of the journal Science. An international team of researchers, including three from the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, deduce that "this technology required a novel association between fire, its heat, and a structural change in stone with consequent flaking benefits." Further, their findings ignite the notion of complex cognition in these early engineers.

"Our illumination of the heat treatment process shows that these early modern humans commanded fire in a nuanced and sophisticated manner," says lead author Kyle Brown, a doctoral candidate at the University of Cape Town, and field and lab director in Mossel Bay, South Africa, for ASU's Institute of Human Origins.

"We show that early modern humans at 72,000 years ago, and perhaps as early as 164,000 years ago in coastal South Africa, were using carefully controlled hearths in a complex process to heat stone and change its properties, the process known as heat treatment," explains Brown.

"Heat treatment technology begins with a genius moment " someone discovers that heating stone makes it easier to flake," says Curtis Marean, project director and a co-author on the paper. Marean is a paleoanthropologist with the Institute of Human Origins and a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Story Source: Press Release - ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY Date: August 15th, 2009