Category Archives: ASIA

Dead Sea Scroll Analyzed With Artificial Intelligence

Dead Sea Scroll Analyzed With Artificial Intelligence

According to a statement released by the University of Groningen, Mladen Popović, Lambert Schomaker, and Maruf Dhali used a computer algorithm to analyze the Great Isaiah Scroll, which was discovered in Qumran Cave 1 in 1947.

Dead Sea Scroll Analyzed With Artificial Intelligence
The Great Isaiah Scroll is over 7 metres long and the most complete of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

However, since the scribes are anonymous, scholars have been unable to identify the individuals behind the scrolls. The University of Groningen researchers have cracked the code, allowing them to uncover the scribes behind the scrolls, by combining science and the humanities. On April 21, they published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

The scribes who created the scrolls did not sign their work. Scholars suggested some manuscripts should be attributed to a single scribe based on handwriting. ‘They would try to find a “smoking gun” in the handwriting, for example, a very specific trait in a letter which would identify a scribe’, explains Mladen Popović, professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Judaism at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen.

Two 12×12 Kohonen maps (blue colourmaps) of full character aleph and bet from the Dead Sea Scroll collection. Each of the characters in the Kohonen maps is formed from multiple instances of similar characters (shown with a zoomed box with red lines). These maps are useful for chronological style development analysis. In the current study of writer identification, Fraglets (fragmented character shapes) were used instead of full character shapes to achieve more precise (robust) results.

He is also director of the university’s Qumran Institute, dedicated to studying the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, these identifications are somewhat subjective and often hotly debated.

Scribes

That is why Popović, in his project The Hands that Wrote the Bible which was funded by the European Research Council, teamed up with his colleague Lambert Schomaker, professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Schomaker has long worked on techniques to allow computers to read handwriting, often from historical materials. He also performed studies to investigate how biomechanical traits, like the way in which someone holds a pen or stylus, would affect handwriting.

In this study, together with PhD candidate Maruf Dhali, they focused on one scroll in particular: the famous Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) from Qumran Cave 1. The handwriting in this scroll seems near-uniform, yet it has been suggested it was made by two scribes sharing a similar writing style. So how could this be decided? Schomaker: ‘This scroll contains the letter aleph, or “a”, at least five thousand times. It is impossible to compare them all just by eye.’ Computers are well suited to analyse large datasets, like 5,000 handwritten a’s. Digital imaging makes all sorts of computer calculations possible, at the microlevel of characters, such as measuring curvature (called textural) and whole characters (called allographic).

Authors of the new paper Mladen Popovic (far left) and Maruf A Dhali (middle) with other collaborators at the Qumran Caves, where the scroll was found.(Supplied)

Neural network

‘The human eye is amazing and presumably takes these levels into account too. This allows experts to “see” the hands of different authors, but that decision is often not reached by a transparent process,’ Popović says. ‘Furthermore, it is virtually impossible for these experts to process the large amounts of data the scrolls provide.’ That is why their results are often not conclusive.

The first hurdle was to train an algorithm to separate the text (ink) from its background (the leather or the papyrus). For this separation, or ‘binarization’, Dhali developed a state-of-the-art artificial neural network that can be trained using deep learning. This neural network keeps the original ink traces made by the scribe more than 2,000 years ago intact as they appear on digital images. ‘This is important because the ancient ink traces relate directly to a person’s muscle movement and are person-specific, Schomaker explains.

Similarities

Dhali performed the first analytical test of this study. His analysis of textural and allographic features showed that the 54 columns of text in the Great Isaiah Scroll fell into two different groups that were not distributed randomly through the scroll, but were clustered, with a transition around the halfway mark.

With the remark that there might be more than one writer, Dhali then handed the data to Schomaker who then recomputed the similarities between the columns, now using the patterns of letter fragments. This second analytical step confirmed the presence of two different. Several further checks and controls were performed. Schomaker: ‘When we added extra noise to the data, the result didn’t change. We also succeeded in demonstrating that the second scribe shows more variation within his writing than the first, although their writing is very similar.’

Handwriting

In the third step, Popović, Dhali, and Schomaker have produced a visual analysis. They created ‘heat maps’ that incorporate all the variants of a character across the scroll. Then they produced an averaged version of this character for the first 27 columns and the last 27 columns. Comparing these two average letters by eye shows that they are different. This links the computerized and statistical analysis to human interpretation of the data by approximation because the heatmaps are neither dependent nor produced from the primary and secondary analyses.

Certain aspects of the scroll and the positioning of the text had led some scholars to suggest that after column 27 a new scribe had started, but this was not generally accepted. Popović: ‘Now, we can confirm this with a quantitative analysis of the handwriting as well as with robust statistical analyses. Instead of basing judgment on more-or-less impressionistic evidence, with the intelligent assistance of the computer, we can demonstrate that the separation is statistically significant.’

New window

In addition to transforming the palaeography of the scrolls – and potentially other ancient manuscript corpora – this study of the Great Isaiah Scroll opens up a totally new way to analyse the Qumran texts based on physical characteristics. Now, researchers can access the microlevel of individual scribes and carefully observe how they worked on these manuscripts.

Popović: ‘This is very exciting because this opens a new window on the ancient world that can reveal much more intricate connections between the scribes that produced the scrolls. This study found evidence for a very similar writing style shared by the two Great Isaiah Scroll scribes, which suggests a common training or origin. Our next step is to investigate other scrolls, where we may find different origins or training for the scribes.’

In this way, it will be possible to learn more about the communities that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. ‘We are now able to identify different scribes’, Popović concludes. ‘We will never know their names. But after seventy years of study, this feels as if we can finally shake hands with them through their handwriting.’

Additional information:

Digital images of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of the Great Isaiah Scroll were kindly provided by Brill Publishers and the Israel Antiquities Authority (the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library).

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in jars like this.

From 6-8 April 2021, an international online conference took place, Digital Palaeography and Hebrew/Aramaic Scribal Culture, organized by the University of Groningen. A link to presentations will appear soon on this page: https://www.rug.nl/ggw/news/events/2021/digital-palaeography-and-hebrew-aramaic-scribal-culture

Reference: Mladen Popović, Maruf A. Dhali, and Lambert Schomaker, Artificial Intelligence Based Writer Identification Generates New Evidence for the Unknown Scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls Exemplified by the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa)

The mystery of India’s ‘lake of skeletons’

The mystery of India’s ‘lake of skeletons’

The view of an enormous pile of skulls and bones tangled under the water surface is quite enticing. You wonder who they are, and especially how they came here first because that lake is 16,000 feet above sea level and there is nothing more than ice tops and frozen glaciers around it.

The roopkund lake.

Every year, the ice melts and shows the human remains of more than 300 unfortunate people who rest at the bottom of the Roopkund, better known as the Skeleton Lake. This frozen, frozen, shallow lake is hidden deeper into the Indian Himalayas.

This “spectacular” view can be enjoyed in the core of the dark forest of Lohajung in Uttarakhand, India, by any enthusiastic trekking enthuse who wishes to walk down the steep path up to the glacier lake, which most of the moment is frozen, in a tiny valley elevated in the Garhwal section of the Himalayas.

Roopkund Lake contains hundreds of skeletons and is flanked by sheer cliffs.
The remains of an estimated 600-800 people have been found at the site

However, the ice begins to melt and the surface begins to see for a month when the temperature is sufficiently friendly. Then, the six-foot-deepest depth of the lake demonstrates what lies underneath the small and apparently typical natural wonders.

This is a death-ground filled with skeletons and not only that, but also the hair, nails, spears, knives, and gems, preserved by the frosts as if these souls had been decimated and found mysteriously their way into the bottom of this lake.

This stunning mystery has been tried by scientists, anthropologists, and historians to unravel. In 1942when the contents of the lake were first found by a British forest guard, Remains of unfortunate Japanese soldiers passing through the mountains were believed to be recent humans.

On the snow just outside the lake, the guard stumbled over a human skull, and on the basis of the preservation with a complete bunch of hair, it took on the most probable scenario. He submitted a report soon after finding more skeletons nearby and below the frozen lake surface.

And his hypotheses seemed logical at first. But there was no inquiry of the bones, and nobody knew who they were, what they were and what had occurred. So obviously, in moments of conflict, the authorities had the same initial conviction that these are the residues of a military battalion that passed through the hills in the direction of India.

But all these first impressions came down the drain after a more thorough inquiry when spears and all sorts of various old arms or bars were discovered lying next to the bones, and it was evident comprehensive research of the remains needed to be done.

The mystery had been unresolved for some moment and many theories were brought to life about what had occurred. People even accepted a local faith in an old goddess who would lay waste to a group of individuals who defied her.

The legend says that this goddess was so furious by the group of people who ostensibly passed by her unspoiled shrine in the mountains that she flung iron hailstones over these petty disrespectful people and killed them on the spot. The legend said she was so furious.

In recent studies, it has been found, in fact, that the skulls and their shoulders have clear signs of round-shape blows as if they had been struck from above. In 2004, the lake received samples and research from an expedition led by a team of Indian scientists with a few Europeans.

During the progress of DNA testing, the bones and some of the preserved human tissue could now be examined. The common belief was that the skeletons were the remains of people who over the years were killed by severe weather and sudden storms on the hills and slipped into the lake with snow, which prevented the natural process of decomposition.

Human skeletons at Roopkund Lake.

Although the bodies discovered that their height and body are distinguished, Almost all remains from the same time, at about 850 A.D., are found in the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit of the University of Oxford, UK. In addition, two separate body types with similar DNA were found.

A group of smaller and thinner people and one completely the opposite. This resulted in them thinking it had to be a pilgrimage group or a kind of mountain excursion which hired local guides. Sadly, a baseball-style hail storm murdered them on their manner trapped in a valley and nowhere to find a shelter. That’s the recent scientific research at least.

One group of shorter individuals with smaller and thinner bones, and one completely the opposite. Which led them to believe that it must have been a group on pilgrimage or some kind of expedition in the mountains that hired some local guides. Unfortunately for them, trapped in a valley, and nowhere to be found with shelter, they were killed by a baseball-sized hail storm. This, at least, is based on recent scientific research.

According to the historical Himalayan legend of the ancient goddess, a king went on a pilgrimage in India to the Nanda Division Raj Jat Festival only once every 12 years, with his spouse, family, servants, musicians and others.

They hired locals to help them get there, but along the way, and despite locals telling them otherwise, the goddess Nanda Devi was angry and punished with their loudness. But most of all, a pregnant woman was in the group that presumably gave birth in the sacred land of the goddess. The newborn was the biggest sin of all and she had “hard-as-iron” sent out a storm of hailstones and murdered them.

This shrine in honor of Nanda Devi lies along the trail to Roopkund Lake.

Although it wasn’t the goddess ‘ wrath, it was certainly the fury of what killed hundreds of people. At least part of a legend clarified the mystery well before science. That means something completely distinct until more information and further research are revealed. This should be followed by a science or academic institution because sadly all trekking passers-by pick a bone or two as souvenirs, and very shortly there might be nothing left to be studied.

Original 15th-Century Castle Wall Found in Tokyo

Original 15th-Century Castle Wall Found in Tokyo

The Mainichi reports that a 400-year-old stone wall standing about 13 feet tall has been uncovered at Edo Castle, which was constructed in the mid-fifteenth century A.D. by Ōta Dōkan, a samurai warrior-poet who eventually became a Buddhist monk.

The historic remnants were excavated at the spot where Sannomaru Shozokan (Museum of the Imperial Collections) is undergoing renovation work, in the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.

The stone walls are not thought to have been repaired since they were first built at the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1867). An official at the Chiyoda Ward Government said the finding “allows us to examine stone wall construction techniques at the time.”

Original 15th-Century Castle Wall Found in Tokyo
Stone walls from the Edo Castle, thought to be about 400-years-old, are seen at a construction site in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward

According to the ward government, the stone walls were found near the Imperial Palace’s Otemon Gate.

They run about 16 meters north to south and measure about 4 meters high — or about seven steps. It seems they were part of the stone wall for the water-filled moat, and a band-shaped white line for indicating the water flow at the time remains on its surface. It is believed water went up to the stone walls’ fourth to fifth steps.

Researchers assume the whole stone walls were buried by the mid-1600s, based on the loss of its top, the condition of soil on the structure, and drawings from the time.

The field excavation survey was conducted from November to December 2020. Researchers are examining and analyzing the excavated relics and soil and will summarize the results in the future. The stone walls will be covered with soil again afterwards.

Stone walls from the Edo Castle, thought to be about 400-years-old, are seen at a construction site in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward

Sannomaru Shozokan is set to greatly expand its storage and exhibition areas and had aimed to open fully to the public in 2025, but the effects of the excavation survey mean a year’s delay is now expected.

Over 2,000-year-old bronze mirrors unearthed at a cemetery in NW China

Over 2,000-year-old bronze mirrors unearthed at a cemetery in NW China

Xinhua reports that pottery and more than 80 delicate bronze mirrors and other bronze items have been discovered in a cemetery of more than 400 tombs in northwest China. 

Situated in the Gaozhuang Township of Shaanxi’s Xixian New Area, the graveyard is home to more than 400 tombs and a collection of pottery and bronze ware that can be traced back to the early Western Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 25).

The bronze mirrors, with diameters ranging from 8 cm to 22.1 cm, were discovered during the recent excavation of the site, according to the archaeologists.

An archaeologist is cleaning a bronze mirror in Xixian New Area, Shaanxi Province, China.

They are believed to have been manufactured mainly between the late Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and the late Western Han Dynasty.

The high gloss of some mirrors was well preserved, as researchers found one still showed clear images.

Archaeologists carry out the excavation work at the Dabaozi Cemetery in Xixian New Area, Shaanxi Province, China.

The researchers also found that most of the mirrors were placed close to the head or around the upper body of the tomb owners, with inscriptions showing people’s expectations of a better life.

Not only did the women of yore enjoy their reflection, but also the men, as they were buried along with their delicate mirrors.

According to historical records, in order to ensure the construction and service of the emperor’s mausoleum as well as to better supervise the aristocrats, Liu Bang, founder of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), set up a centralized residence area for the nobility, which was located about 4 km from the cemetery.

Therefore, the ancient tombs are believed to belong to the dynasty’s upper-class residents, said the researchers. 

The Powerful Symbol of the Swastika and its 12,000 Year History

The Powerful Symbol of the Swastika and its 12,000 Year History

The swastika is a sign of the massacres of millions of people and the destructiveness of one of the most despised men on Earth. But it’s not Adolf Hitler who used the symbol first. It was actually utilized by many cultures and continents as a powerful symbol thousands of years before him.

The Swastika has been an important symbol for many thousands of years to the Hindus and Buddhists of India and other Asian countries, but the symbol is still visible in abundance – on temples, buses, taxis, and covers of books.

It was used in Ancient Greece as well and can be found in the ancient city of Troy that existed four thousand years ago.

A swastika is a symbol found in many cultures, with different meanings, drawn in different styles.

The ancient Druids and the Celts also used the symbol, reflected in many artefacts that have been discovered. It was used by Nordic tribes and even early Christians used the swastika as one of their symbols.

For example, the Teutonic Knights, a German medieval military order that became a purely religious Catholic order, used it. But why is this symbol so important and why did Adolf Hitler decide to use it?

The word “swastika” is a Sanskrit word (“svastika”) meaning “It is,” well being,” “good existence,” and “good luck.” However, it is also known by different names in different countries—like “wan” in China, “manji” in Japan, “fylfot” in England, “Hakenkreuz” in Germany and “tetraskelion” or “tetragammadion” in Greece.

Mosaic swastika in excavated Byzantine church in Shavei Tzion (Israel).

A Sanskrit scholar P.R. Sarkar in 1979 said that the deeper meaning of the word is “permanent victory.”

The earliest swastika ever found was uncovered in Mezine, Ukraine, carved on an ivory figurine, which dates an incredible 12,000 years, and one of the earliest cultures that are known to have used the swastika was a Neolithic culture in Southern Europe, in the area that is now Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, known as the Vinca Culture, which dates back around 8,000 years.

In Buddhism, the swastika is a symbol of good fortune, prosperity, abundance, and eternity. It is directly related to Buddha and can be found carved on statues on the soles of his feet and on his heart.  It is said that it contains Buddha’s mind.

Wooden Buddha statue with gamadian (swastika).

On the walls of the Christian catacombs in Rome, the symbol of the swastika appears next to the words “zotiko zotiko,” which means “life of life.” It can also be found on the window openings of the mysterious Lalibela Rock churches of Ethiopia, and in various other churches around the world.

In Nordic Myths, Odin is represented passing through space as a whirling disk or swastika looking down through all worlds. In North America, the swastika was used by the Navajos.

In Ancient Greece, Pythagoras used the swastika under the name “tetraktys,” and it was a symbol linking heaven and Earth, with the right arm pointing to heaven and the left arm pointing to Earth.

The swastika, the Phoenician sun symbol, on the Phoenician Craig-Narget stone in Scotland, and on the robe of a Phoenician high priestess.

It was used by the Phoenicians as a symbol of the sun and it was a sacred symbol used by the priestesses.

How and why did so many diverse countries and cultures, across many eras, use the same symbol and apparently with the same meaning? It is ironic, and unfortunate, that a symbol of life and eternity that was considered sacred for thousands of years has become a symbol of hatred.

Over 67 million-year-old tree fossil found in Shimla district in India

Over 67 million-year-old tree fossil found in Shimla district in India

A tree fossil estimated to be over 67 million years old has been found near Kharapathar in the district, an expert said on Thursday. The fossilised tree belongs to the Mesozoic era, Hari Chauhan, curator of State Museum and a fossil expert who visited the spot, said. The Mesozoic era is the age of dinosaurs, and lasted about 180 million years, from about 250 to 65 million years ago.

Rohru’s Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Chandulal Tahsildar said he found the fossils during a site visit to the area in connection with complaints of illegal filling. He said frequent landslides that the area experienced recently could have brought the fossils to the surface.

“It was during my visit to the place on March 30 that I chanced upon these fossils that obviously seemed to look very old,” he said, adding that the tree stumps were nearly 11×8 feet and elliptical.

Over 67 million-year-old tree fossil found in Shimla district in India
Himachal Pradesh: A tree fossil found in Kharapathar, Shimla district. According to Harish Chauhan, Curator State Museum the fossil belongs to the Mesozoic geological era.

Chauhan, who visited the site, said the discovery could either be tree fossils or geological formations.

“It’s a very important discovery either way,” he said, adding that such fossils, while not uncommon in the Shiwalik ranges, were rare in Himalayan ranges. Similar fossils have been found in Spiti.

“If it’s a tree fossil, it’s very important from the point of view of paleontological studies. And if it’s a geological formation, then it’s a crucial discovery in the field of geological studies,” he said, adding a team of geologists and forest officials would join him in thoroughly searching the area.

Meanwhile, the latest discovery will be protected.

About Fossils :

A fossil is the remains or trace of an ancient living thing. Fossils of animals, plants, or protists occur in sedimentary rock. In a typical fossil, the body form is retained, but the original molecules that made up the body have been replaced by some inorganic materials, such as calcium carbonate (CaCO3) or silica (SiO2). The fossil feels like, and is, made of rock. It has been mineralised or petrified(literally, turned into rock).

A fossil may also be an imprint or impression of a living thing remaining in the fossilised mud of a long-gone age. Some organisms fossilise well, others do not.

The most common fossils are those left behind by organisms that produce hard materials. The hard, calcitic shells of molluscs (such as clams and snails) and of now-rare brachiopods (also known as lampshells) are examples. These sea-dwelling shellfish have produced many fossiliferous (that is, fossil-bearing) chalky layers of limestone in the earth.

Soft-bodied organisms can fossilise in special circumstances: the Ediacaran biota is a good example. The best-known fossils for the general public are those of the giant, prehistoric dinosaurs. The fossilized bones and fossilized tracks of these huge, ancient reptiles can be seen in many museums of natural history and earth science.

The study of fossils by geologists and biologists is known as palaeontology. If the study puts living things in their ecological context it is called paleobiology.

Mesozoic Era  :

The Mesozoic Era is the age of the dinosaurs and lasted almost 180 million years from approximately 250 to 65 million years ago. This era includes 3 well known periods called the Triassic, Jurassic, and cretaceous periods.

A mass extinction marked the beginning and end of the Mesozoic Era. The event that caused the transition from the Paleozoic era to the Mesozoic era was the greatest extinction this earth has seen. This extinction wiped out about 95% of all marine life and 70% of land life. This allowed the dinosaurs to step in and settle into their role as the lords of the earth. The era ended with “The Great Extinction” which marked the end of the dinosaurs as the Cenozoic era began.

Tectonics :

At the beginning of the Mesozoic era, the continents as we know them were joined together as the massive mother continent, Pangaea. It was during the age of the dinosaurs that Pangaea was transformed into the modern continents.

Pangaea became two great continents known as Laurasia and Gondwana and the Atlantic Ocean began to grow. Laurasia eventually split into the continents of North America and Eurasia. Gondwana became the modern continents of South America, Africa, Australia, Antarctica, and the Indian subcontinent, which, after the Mesozoic era, collided with Eurasia forming the Himalayas.

Environment :

The environment was unusually warm and polar ice caps did not yet exist. This played a large part in the evolution and is a key factor behind the flourishing of the dinosaurs.

During the Triassic period, the climate was generally dry, which changed near the Jurassic period as oceans began to rise due to mounting layers of magma covering the seafloor. As a result, flooding overtook many parts of the exposed land.

This allowed the climate to change with increased humidity and it continued that way even into the Cretaceous period. However, the climate began to cool during the Cretaceous although temperatures may have risen again near the end of the Mesozoic.

Monumental Neolithic Tomb Discovered in Saudi Arabia

Monumental Neolithic Tomb Discovered in Saudi Arabia

According to a statement released by Taylor & Francis, the remains of a dog and 11 people have been found in a monumental tomb near the archaeological site of Al-Ula, which is located in northwestern Saudi Arabia.

The discovery came from one of the projects in the large-scale archaeological surveys and excavations of the region commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU).

The researchers found the dog’s bones in a burial site that is one of the earliest monumental tombs identified in the Arabian Peninsula, roughly contemporary with such tombs already dated further north in the Levant.

This burial site in a badlands area of AlUla in north-west Saudi Arabia is currently rare for Neolithic-Chalcolithic Arabia in being built above-ground and meant to be visually prominent.

Evidence shows the earliest use of the tomb was circa 4300 BCE and received burials for at least 600 years during the Neolithic-Chalcolithic era – an indication that the inhabitants may have had a shared memory of people, places, and the connection between them.

“What we are finding will revolutionize how we view periods like the Neolithic in the Middle East. To have that kind of memory, that people may have known for hundreds of years where their kin was buried – that’s unheard of in this period in this region,” said Melissa Kennedy, assistant director of the Aerial Archaeology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (AAKSAU) – AlUla project.

“AlUla is at a point where we’re going to begin to realize how important it was to the development of mankind across the Middle East,” said the AAKSAU director, Hugh Thomas.

This is the earliest evidence of a domesticated dog in the Arabian Peninsula by a margin of circa 1,000 years.

The findings are published in the Journal of Field Archaeology.

The project team, with Saudi and international members, focused its efforts on two above-ground burial sites dating to the 5th and 4th millennia BCE and located 130 kilometers apart, one in volcanic uplands and the other in arid badlands. The sites were above ground, which is unique for that period of Arabian history, and were positioned for maximum visibility.

The research team detected the sites by using satellite imagery and then by aerial photography from a helicopter. Ground fieldwork began in late 2018.

It was in the volcanic uplands site that 26 fragments of a single dog’s bones were found, alongside bones from 11 humans – six adults, an adolescent, and four children.

The dog’s bones showed signs of arthritis, which suggests the animal lived with the humans into its middle or old age. After assembling the bones, the team then had to determine that they were from a dog and not from a similar animal such as a desert wolf.

The team’s zooarchaeologist, Laura Strolin, was able to show it was indeed a dog by analyzing one bone in particular, from the animal’s left front leg. The breadth of this bone was 21.0 mm, which is in the range of other ancient Middle Eastern dogs. In comparison, the wolves of that time and place had a breadth of 24.7 to 26 mm for the same bone.

The dog’s bones were dated between circa 4200 and 4000 BCE.

Rock art found in the region indicates that the Neolithic inhabitants used dogs when hunting ibex, and other animals.

The fieldwork uncovered other noteworthy artifacts, including a leaf-shaped mother-of-pearl pendant at the volcanic uplands site and a carnelian bead found at the arid badlands site.

The researchers expect more findings in the future as a result of the massive survey from the air and on the ground, and multiple targeted excavations in the AlUla region undertaken by the AAKSAU and other teams, which are operating under the auspices of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU). The AAKSAU team is led by researchers from the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia.

The researchers note that AlUla is a largely unexplored area located in a part of the world that has a fertile archaeological heritage of recognized global value.

“This article from RCU’s work at AlUla establishes benchmarks. There is much more to come as we reveal the depth and breadth of the area’s archaeological heritage,” said Rebecca Foote, Director of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Research for RCU.

Mother Found Still Cradling Baby After 4,800 Years

Mother Found Still Cradling Baby After 4,800 Years

It is a fitting discovery as Mother’s Day approaches. Archaeologists have uncovered the ancient remains of a young mother and an infant child locked in a 4,800-year-old embrace. The remarkable find was among 48 sets of remains unearthed from graves in Taiwan, including the fossils of five children.

The mother is seen looking towards the child

Researchers were stunned to discover the maternal moment, and they say these Stone Age relics are the earliest sign of human activity found in central Taiwan.

Preserved for nearly 5,000 years, the skeleton found in the Taichung area shows a young mother gazing down at the baby cradled in her arms.

Researchers turned to carbon dating to determine the ages of the fossils, which they traced back to the Neolithic Age, a period within the Stone Age.

Excavation began in May 2014 and took a year for archaeologists to complete. But of all the remains found in the ancient graves, one pair set stood out from the rest.

‘When it was unearthed, all of the archaeologists and staff members were shocked.

‘Why? Because the mother was looking down at the baby in her hands,’ said Chu Whei-lee, a curator in the Anthropology Department at Taiwan’s National Museum of Natural Science.

According to the researchers’ measurements, the mother was just 160 cm tall, or 5 foot 2 inches. The infant in her arms is 50 cm tall – just over a foot-and-a-half.

Archaeologists say they have discovered the earliest trace of human activity in central Taiwan among graves from 4,800 years ago

This breathtaking discovery came as a surprise to the researchers on sight, but it isn’t the first of its kind.

In the past, archaeologists have dug up remains of similar moments which have been preserved for thousands of years.

Notably, Chinese archaeologists unearthed the interlocked skeletons of a mother and child last year from an Early Bronze Age archaeological site branded the ‘Pompeii of the East, the People’s Daily Online reported.

The mother is thought to have been trying to protect her child during a powerful earthquake that hit Qinghai province, central China, in about 2,000 BC.

Experts speculated that the site was hit by an earthquake and flooding of the Yellow River.

Photographs of the skeletal remains show the mother looking up above as she kneels on the floor, with her arms around her young child. Archaeologists say they believe her child was a boy.