AFRICAN ICE CORE ANALYIS REVEALS CATASTROPHIC DROUGHTS, SHRINKING ICE FIELDS AND CIVILIZATION SHIFTS
A detailed analysis of six cores retrieved from the rapidly shrinking ice fields atop Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro shows that those tropical glaciers began to form about 11,700 years ago.
The cores also yielded remarkable evidence of three catastrophic droughts that plagued the tropics 8,300, 5,200 and 4,000 years ago.
Lastly, the analysis also supports Ohio State University researchers’ prediction that these unique bodies of ice will disappear in the next two decades, the victims of global warming. These findings were published today in the journal Science.
Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State and leader of an expedition in 2000 to retrieve these cores, called Kilimanjaro’s ice fields “stagnant” and said they are “wasting away.”
Thompson and his colleagues retrieved six cores from the mountain two years ago after his team spent more than a month camped at a drill site above 19,300 feet. After a logistical nightmare requiring the hiring of 92 porters and obtaining 25 official permits, the team returned 215 meters (705 feet) of frozen ice core to the freezers at the university’s Byrd Polar Research Center.
One key to dating the core came with the finding of a chemical marker in the ice -- a spike of the isotope chlorine-36, a radioactive remnant of nuclear bomb testing in 1951-52. The same spike appears in cores the team had retrieved from both South America and China, and this allows them to calibrate the historic records trapped in the ice.
Clues from the cores suggest a much different, far wetter landscape near Kilimanjaro 9,500 years ago than exists there today. Thompson said that at that time, Lake Chad, now the fourth-largest body of water on the African continent with an area of about 17,000 square kilometers today, covered some 350,000 square kilometers – an area larger than the Caspian Sea.
This map, produced by OSU researchers, shows the retreat of Kilimanjaro's ice cap since 1912. During that period, more than 80 percent of the mountains glaciers were lost. All ice will probably be lost on the mountaintop within 15 years.
The analysis of the core showed a 500-year period beginning around 8,300 years ago when methane levels preserved in polar ice cores dropped dramatically. “We believe that this represents a time when the lakes of Africa were drying up,” Thompson said, adding that the methane levels would register the extent of the wetlands thriving in the tropics.
The cores showed an abrupt depletion in oxygen-18 isotopes that researchers believe signals a second drought event occurring around 5,200 years ago. This cool, dry event coincides with the period when anthropologists believe people in the region began to come together to form cities and social structures. Prior to this, the population of mainly hunters and gatherers had been more scattered.
The third marker is a visible dust layer in the ice cores dating back to about 4,000 years ago. Thompson believes this marks a severe 300-year drought which struck the region. Historical records show that a massive drought rocked the Egyptian empire at the time and threatened the rule of the Pharaohs. Until this time, Thompson said, people had been able to survive in areas that are now just barren Sahara Desert.
Last year Thompson initially predicted in a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science that Kilimanjaro’s ice fields would vanish within 15 years. More recent evidence is reinforcing this prediction.
By using global positioning from satellites, aerial maps and an array of stakes placed on the ice cap, the researchers were able to confirm that the volume of the glacier is shrinking as well.
“We found that the summit of the ice fields has lowered by at least 17 meters (nearly 56 feet) since 1962,” Thompson said. “"That's an average loss of about a half-meter in height each year.”
They were also able to show that the margin of the Northern ice field had retreated more than 2 meters since 2000. "That's more than 2 meter's worth of ice lost from a wall 50 meters (164 feet) high –- that’s an enormous amount of ice.”
Automated weather stations on the summit of Kilimanjaro and on the lowlands nearby now provide scientists with the ability to monitor local conditions in the region. Thompson says that with another major El Nino event expected soon, “what happens on the mountain will be very interesting to watch.”
“Whatever happened to cause these dramatic climate changes in the past, could certainly occur again,” he said. “But today, 70 percent of the world’s population lives in the tropics. They would be dramatically affected by events of this magnitude. We have to find out what causes them to happen.”
Along with Thompson, other members of the research team include Ellen Mosley Thompson, professor of geography, Victor Zagorodnov, Henry Brecher, Mary Davis, Keith Henderson, Ping-Nan Lin, Tracy Mashiotta, Vladamir Mikhalenko, Douglas Hardy and Jurg Beer.
The project was supported in part by a grant from the Earth System History Program of the National Science Foundation.
Disagreement Between Bride And Mother-in-law Exists For Thousand Years
Saturday 19 October 2002
KAYSERI - The disagreement between bride and mother-in-law had been existing for four thousand years and there was written evidence of it in cuneiform inscription in tablets.
Prof. Tahsin Ozguc who had been directing the excavations in Kultepe-Kanis Tumulus in central Kayseri province since 1948 told A.A. correspondent that they found important information on cuneiform writing tablets that dated 2000 B.C.
Ozguc said that Assyrians were marketing tins that were used in arm production and fabrics from world fashion center Mesopotamia in Anatolia. He added that Assyrian merchants were exchanging cuneiform writing tablets with their colleagues who sent them tins and fabrics from Mesopotamia and with their relatives.
Prof. Ozguc said that they found a tablet which was sent by a woman from Mesopotamia to her husband who was in Kanis and in the tablet sent by a caravan she said ''I suffer from your mother. She gives harm to me. I cannot carry this burden any more. Come back as soon as possible and save me from this woman.''
Ozguc added that when her husband did not return from Kanis, the bride sent another letter and said ''Your children grew up, they don't listen to the things I tell them. Come back quickly before your mother and children kill me.''
The two tablets were found in the grave of the man who did not return Mesopotamia and died in Kanis.
Prof. Ozguc said that women rights were very advanced four thousand years ago and a married woman was given a marriage certificate and when she divorced or her husband died, so that she got her share from the inheritance.
The cuneiform inscription tablets and other historical artifacts which were found in Kultepe-Kanis Tumulus on Kayseri-Malatya highway were exhibited in Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Kayseri Archeology Museum.
Cuneiform inscriptions were written on clay tablets and then were dried. The tablets were covered with another layer of clay and were dried again and this part (envelope) was broken to read the letter.
Anadolu Agency 10/13/2002 12:50:41 PM
The Miami Circle
THE EXHIBIT at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida features more than 100 artifacts found near the mouth of the Miami River in November 1998. Archaeologists believe the artifacts are 2,000 years old and indicate that the area was used by Tequesta Indians, possibly as a trading post.
“Only a small group of archaeologists got to be out there and it was never really open to the general public,” said Jorge Zamanillo, a curator at the museum and an archaeologist who worked the site. “A lot of people have seen pictures of it, but now they can understand what it means.”
The area, known as the Miami Circle, is a 38-foot (11.6-meter) circle that Tequestas are believed to have carved into the limestone. It was found during a pre-development examination by archaeologists, on ground that was supposed to be the site of an apartment building.
“It’s one of the best records of what life was like in Biscayne Bay before the Spanish arrived,” said Irv Quitmyer, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Florida who has studied the site.
The exhibit, called “First Arrivals,” includes samples of pottery, cutting devices, hair pins and other materials used by the now-extinct civilization. One of the highlighted artifacts is a large turtle shell, which may indicate the area was used for ceremonial purposes.
Archaeologists were originally surprised the area had survived a 1950s construction project. When that apartment building was knocked down, scientists found builders on that project had only dug about 10 inches (25 centimeters) into the ground to place footers for that structure — preserving the ruins buried 3 to 4 feet (1 meter) below.
Then, during the city-mandated examination of the property in 1998, archaeologists were running out of time to complete their study. A developer had brought in bulldozers and backhoes to begin a complete excavation.
So, breaking away from normal procedures, the archaeologists used the backhoe to dig away at the site, since it would be far faster than finishing the dig by hand.
“We dug where we thought the rest of the circle would be, and found it,” Zamanillo said.
© 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
22 October 2002 17:53 BDST
Dracula's abbey reveals site of Iron Age village
By Ian Herbert North of England Correspondent
22 October 2002
Archaeologists digging land adjoining Whitby Abbey have discovered a new and unexpected dimension to the site's colourful past.
A part of the 150ft headland – on the brink of collapsing into the sea – has yielded evidence of a 2,000-year-old Iron Age domestic settlement, including the remains of a distinctive "round house", possibly dating from the first or second century BC.
While the abbey is famous for hosting the Synod of Whitby in 664, which committed England to the Roman rather than Celtic Christian church, its headland's capacity for yielding tantalising secrets is legendary among archaeologists. It is also, famously, the setting for the opening of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.
The remains of a substantial Dark Ages settlement were discovered there last year.
Archaeologists have been racing against time to salvage its antiquities because of the threat posed by coastal erosion in Yorkshire, a danger demonstrated four years ago when a four-star hotel was sent crashing into the sea. They said yesterday that they had discovered a circular trench with holes on the headland – the remains of a wigwam-style, thatched Iron Age house. Supporting posts for the dwelling would have been lodged in the holes.
The house, made of wood, straw and turf, had a diameter of 11 metres and its entrance faced east, a typical trait of Iron Age dwellings. This would have allowed early morning sunlight to filter into the interior – though if yesterday's bitter winds and rain were anything to go by, afternoons may have been a different proposition.
Near the dwelling, English Heritage archaeologists have discovered rubbish pits containing large lumps of pottery, the remnants of Iron Age vessels. The priority for the nine-week investigation, involving up to 34 archaeologists, has been to find clues about the Anglo-Saxon period, during which the first abbey was founded by St Hilda. They have been surprised by the scale of industrial activity on the headland, having found iron slag, loom weights and even indications of glass making.
Among other artefacts recovered are two ninth century copper alloy strap-ends, possibly used on a belt, featuring delicately carved animal motifs. Some of the relics will be on show at an open day on Sunday. Entrance is free.
Acropolis Museum could be scrapped
A FORTNIGHT after fear of archaeological finds rerouted the Athens tram, the discovery of a unique seventh-century AD housing complex on the site earmarked for the new Acropolis Museum could derail this project too, a citizens protest group indicated in an October 10 press release.
After meeting with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on October 8 and 9, the Makryianni-based coordination commission of local associations quoted the minister saying that he approved works on the site following the recommendation of archaeology experts. Specifically, Professor Dimitrios Pantermalis, chairman of the Organisation for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum, and Alkistis Choremi, head of the First Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.
According to the protest group, Venizelos now appears willing to reconsider the plan should conflicting evidence emerge.
"The minister mentioned the example of Rigillis St (in central Athens, where the construction of the Museum of Modern Art was abandoned in 1997 following the discovery of the Lyceum of Aristotle) to stress that a ministerial decision can change, should different facts... emerge," the press release said.
Venizelos has reportedly agreed to discuss the issue with dissenting archaeologists and members of the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
Though scheduled to be finished in 2004, work on the new Acropolis Museum has barely started. The laying of the foundation stone, expected during the summer, has been postponed until the end of the year.
The group also blamed high-level ministry officials of "using their positions and academic qualifications... to warp both incoming and outgoing information... thereby compromising ministers and not allowing the culture ministry to function as it should".
The culture ministry made no official response to the press release.
ATHENS NEWS , 11/10/2002 , page: A03
Article code: C12983A032
Workers Discover Ancient Grave Site in Nicaragua
October 15, 2002 03:40 PM ET
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (Reuters) - Construction workers building a wall on the edge of Nicaragua's capital have unearthed by accident several graves believed to date back 1,000 years, experts said on Tuesday.
The pre-Columbian cemetery on the shores of Lake Xolotlan in Managua contained the graves of about 20 men, women and children who were buried with pottery and other artifacts, archeologist Jorge Espinosa told reporters.
The remains are being sent to the United States for study, he said.
"There's a good possibility that there are many other graves in the area," said Espinosa, who was hired by the Central American brewing company Consorcio Cervecero Centroamericano three months ago when the remains were discovered on its land.
"It tells us a lot about the migratory patterns of other tribes that came here from Central America and Mexico," said Napoleon Chow, director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture.
Jaime Rosales, director of the brewing company, said it was considering opening the site to the public.
How wars and walls changed city for ever
Oct 17 2002
By Tony Henderson, The Journal
Evidence of how conflict with the Scots changed life dramatically for Newcastle's medieval citizens is emerging from the most important dig in the city for a decade.
The excavation at Gallowgate has revealed remains of substantial stone buildings from the middle of the 12th Century.
The aim of the dig next to Gallowgate coach station, which will end in mid-December, is to record the settlement before work starts on a new office block as part of phase two of the £60m Citygate development.
The houses, which were probably half timber and half stone, would have fronted on to the old Gallowgate route which connected directly with St Andrew's Church.
"They are large, substantial buildings with a stone paved courtyard area. They are certainly not hovels but would have been occupied by people of some status in the town," said archaeologist Richard Fraser, who is leading the dig.
Dave Heslop, Tyne and Wear county archaeologist, said: "The people who lived here were enjoying a fairly comfortable lifestyle for the time when the town was expanding strongly after the foundation of the castle and there was a population explosion in the 12th and early 13th centuries." But life in the comfortable suburbs 850 years ago was shaken as the Scottish wars began and Newcastle decided it needed town walls. The wall, which runs behind the coach station, meant the demolition of the Gallowgate buildings in around 1280.
"The wall was like a pastry cutter and they seem to have been pretty brutal in demolishing property in front of the wall. Everything outside the wall was coming down," said Dave.
There are records of bigwigs like the Bishop of Carlisle, who owned a house outside the wall, demanding compensation for its demolition. "There seems to be abandonment of this area when the wall is built. The building of the wall took priority over everybody else's interests," said Richard. It also altered the line of Gallowgate to that which it follows today.
The Gallowgate settlement may have originally grown up around the 12th Century St Andrew's Church but after the demolition the ground lay unused until the 18th Century. "The site became sealed like a time capsule," said Dave.
The now-completed first phase of the Citygate project by developers Hanro Group includes 57 flats and offices.
The next stage will see the demolition of the coach station, which will open up another section of the town wall and ditch.
Hanro director Adam Serfontein said: "The excavation is showing the area was a good place to be in the 12th Century and that is still the case in the 21st Century."
TIME TRAP Old well is helping scientists plumb Jamestown's history
Fri, October 18, 2002
From JournalNow.com (Northwest North Carolina)
By Diane Tennant
Tourists whispered outside the fence that circled the archaeological dig. Crew members peered over sandbags into the pit. Supervisors with their fists on their hips stood looking past their toes. Everyone was watching Danny Schmidt, alone in the mud, 10 feet down in a well.
"Oh, wow!" he said. He wiggled his fingers in the mud. No one spoke. Silent minutes passed.
An indignant voice rose from the mass of tourists: "You're going to say, "Oh, wow!' and not give us any more information?"
Well, patience is a virtue. And the virtuous archaeologists on Jamestown Island have been rewarded with the recent discovery of a well from the early 1600s.
What they unearthed over the past five weeks was recently trumped by the discovery of a hoard of pristine artifacts. Collectively, the finds are turning the story of English settlement into a tale of mice and men.
Just a few weeks ago, the summer was looking bleak. Diggers had turned up a Civil War powder magazine with burned roofing timbers, but that wasn't germane to the study of early English colonization in America. They'd been hoping to find the settlers' water well. Then, just a few feet away from the magazine, they found discolored dirt - a circle about 12feet across.
Inside this trench, which was used by the well diggers for elbow room, was their actual well, about 3 feet across.
The exact age of the well has not been determined. It would be handy to find a dated coin dropped by a well digger, but no such luck yet. Still, what is coming out puts the well near the 1607 founding of Jamestown.
The most recent finds, pulled from a depth of about 11 feet, include a sort of battle ax, a small cannon, a leather shoe and a pewter flagon used to measure wine a liter at a time.
The excellent condition of the artifacts made William Kelso, the director of archaeology for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, think that the well could date to 1610, when the fort was briefly abandoned.
The settlers didn't want to leave usable armor and weapons for Indians or Spaniards to find, so perhaps the objects were tossed down the well, out of reach.
Kelso and his team have been digging at Jamestown since 1994, making such dramatic discoveries as a skeleton with a musket ball in its knee and proving that the fort did not erode into the James River as once believed.
All the dirt that is scraped out of the well is lifted out in buckets, then washed and screened. Tiny beads and bits of flint have been revealed, along with another surprise: bones from a large number of mice. None of them had skulls.
The "Starving Time" of the winter of 1609-10 killed 155 of 215 settlers. Historical writings from the period say that the colonists ate rats, mice and poisonous snakes.
Tiny mouse skulls could have been crushed over the centuries. But teeth should have survived, and no teeth have been found. In the lab, the bones will be examined for signs of butchering.
Schmidt labored to loosen a chunk of iron from the mud. He tried balancing on one foot. He tried squatting. He tried sitting.
"There we go," he said finally. "Boy, she put up a good fight."
"What is that thing?" a tourist asked.
Eric Deetz spread his arms and shrugged. "We don't know," he said. "It's metal."
Schmidt hefted it over the shaft and into a tray. Other arms wrestled the tray out of the trench and onto the sandbags. The tourists applauded.
Schmidt looked back into the mud. "Oh! There's another one!"
The crew fell silent again. The tourists craned their necks and listened.
"I like it," one woman whispered, "when they say, 'Wow!'"
Work resumes on restoration of iron furnace
By:Kathryn Boughton October 16, 2002
Work resumed this week on the 1826 Kent iron furnace on the grounds of the Sloane-Stanley Museum.
Work stopped two years ago when it was discovered that the hearth of old blast furnace was still intact, a relatively unusual find in industrial archaeology.
"You never know what you will find when you go into a site like this," said iron industry expert Ed Kirby of Sharon. "The shaft had collapsed and a lot of the fire bricks had been taken away-they're probably in somebody's patio-but it's kind of unusual to find a hearth intact. From an industrial archaeology point of view it's of tremendous value."
Last summer, an additional $200,000 was added to the $250,000 budget for the furnace's restoration to allow workmen to do additional work.
In addition, Kent officials have asked for $100,000 in grant funds to help build a walkway to the top of the stack to allow visitors to see it from that vantage point. When the furnace was in operation, an original walkway to the top allowed workers to dump raw ore down into the furnace.
The furnace was built during the heyday of the region's iron industry and was very successful, according to Mr. Kirby. It continued in operation until 1892, originally consuming iron ore mined from Kent's Ore Hill.
"The ore was not quite as good as the ore they mined up in Salisbury, yet the furnace was quite successful because good people operated it," said Mr. Kirby. "John Hopson, Emily Hopson's grandfather, was the last iron master." Miss Hopson was for many years the doyenne of the Kent Historical Society.
Mr. Kirby said that after the coming of the Housatonic Rail Road in 1842, local ironmasters determined that they could bring ore more cheaply from West Stockbridge, Mass., 38 miles to the north, than they could transport it five miles by horse and wagon from Ore Hill. "That just shows how transportation costs cut into the industry," he commented.
"One nice thing about [the Kent] grounds," he added, "is that you can see remnants of Pratt's dam, and number of old foundations in there, as well as the old roadbed for the railroad siding that runs near the charging wall of the furnace. There were five workers' houses near the siding. It's a really great site that should be looked at further."
Mr. Kirby said iron supports are to be installed around the four arches of the furnace stack to stabilize the openings. "I think they are worried they will collapse," he said. "The casting arch in front is pretty solid, but the side arches, where the tuyere pipes or nozzles went in, are not stable. The tuyere pipes were where they blasted the hot air in. As I recall, you can still see the imprint of the pipes there."
Mr. Kirby said the retaining wall and charging wall near the stack are not in good shape and need restorative work. A wooden cover will be constructed to keep water out of the structure, preventing further deterioration.
The work at the furnace is being done by Kroenenberg and Sons Restoration. The Sloane-Stanley Museum is located off Route 7, just north of the town center.
©The Kent Good Times Dispatch 2002
TIME TEAM TRIUMPHANT AT U-TURN ON DIG UNIT
10:30 - 17 October 2002
The threat of the sack hanging over Gloucester's own Time Team of archaeologists has been dramatically removed.
As more than 100 demonstrators, some of them in Civil War costume, laid siege to the City Council's North Warehouse headquarters last night, members of the cabinet performed an astonishing policy U-turn.
The archaeologists will not now lose their jobs in March and the whole future of the archaeology functions of the council will be included in a complete review of the city's museums to be carried out next September.
In the meantime, savings of £28,353 will be achieved by freezing museum staff vacancies already budgeted for, and by charging builders for "watching briefs" when archaeologists supervise excavations in the Roman city.
The archaeologists and their supporters emerged jubilant from the cabinet meeting. Rachel Atherton, who was told a fortnight ago she was redundant, said: "I want to thank everyone who has backed our campaign, especially The Citizen for their brilliant coverage, which has really got people going."
Phil Jones, secretary of the staff union, Unison, said: "This is a tremendous shift in policy by the cabinet. We had no idea it was going to happen until a sheet of revised proposals was handed round at the meeting. We must now keep the pressure up to make sure the unit is kept. We have been astounded by the depth of feeling this issue has created in Gloucester."
Earlier a petition signed by more than 5,000 people was presented to the cabinet by Tim Copeland, history lecturer the University of Gloucestershire, who is chairman of the Council of Europe's heritage experts committee.
He said: "It is vitally important that the layers of history underneath Gloucester are investigated and interpreted to the public by people who have a deep knowledge and understanding of their subject.
"That history is part of the identity of the people of Gloucester, and to share that knowledge the city needs its own dedicated archaeology unit."
As he joined the celebrations after the meeting, Prof Copeland said: "The breathing space provided by tonight's decision gives the opportunity for some really creative thinking on the future of the city's museum service."
Councillor Bill Crowther, cabinet member for culture, said that meetings had been arranged with both the county council and the Heritage Lottery Fund to discuss the funding of the museums service in Gloucester and the future of Blackfriars monastery.
He said: "They will be involved in the review which explores all these options to establish the future role of the museums service in Gloucester."
Council leader Kevin Stephens said the fact remained that the city council had a huge budget deficit to fill.
He said: "In all the letters I have received, from everyone from Baldrick to university professors, not one of them has included a cheque, or any suggestions for how this funding deficit is to be met.
"The alternative to making these savings is to raise the Council Tax by between 40 and 50%. If that is what the people of Gloucester want I am sure they will let me know during the budget consultation which starts in December.
A decision will be made on February 13.