Archeology in the News ... June 25-29, 2012


Mystery of Desert 'Fairy Circles' Solved, Creators Found   Live Science - March 29, 2013
The "artists" behind bizarre, barren, grassless rings dotting the desert of Southwest Africa have been found lurking right at scientists' feet: termites. Known as fairy circles, these patches crop up in regular patterns along a narrow strip of the Namib Desert between mid-Angola and northwestern South Africa, and can persist for decades. The cause of these desert pockmarks has been widely debated, but a species of sand termite, Psammotermes allocerus, could be behind the mysterious dirt rings, suggests a study published today in the journal Science.


Mysterious African 'Fairy Circles' Stump Scientists   Live Science - June 27, 2012

In the sandy desert grasslands of Namibia in southern Africa, mysterious bare spots known as "fairy circles" will form and then disappear years later for no reason anyone can determine. A new look at these strange patterns doesn't solve the wistful mystery but at least reveals that the largest of the circles can linger for a lifetime. Small fairy circles stick around an average of 24 years, while larger ones can exist as long as 75 years. The study sheds little light on why the circles form, persist and then vanish into the landscape after decades.

Life cycles of mysterious Namibian grassland 'fairy circles' characterized   PhysOrg - June 27, 2012
The grasslands in Namibia are home to so-called "fairy circles" - circular bare spots, usually surrounded by a ring of taller grass - of unknown origin.

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A fairy ring, also known as fairy circle, elf circle, elf ring or pixie ring, is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms. The rings may grow to over 10 metres (33 ft) in diameter, and they become stable over time as the fungus grows and seeks food underground. They are found mainly in forested areas, but also appear in grasslands or rangelands. Fairy rings are detectable by sporocarps in rings or arcs, as well as by a necrotic zone (dead grass), or a ring of dark green grass. If these manifestations are visible a fairy fungus mycelium is likely to be present in the ring or arc underneath.

Fairy rings also occupy a prominent place in European folklore as the location of gateways into elfin kingdoms, or places where elves gather and dance. According to the folklore, a fairy ring appears when a fairy, pixie, or elf appears. It will disappear without trace in less than five days, but if an observer waits for the elf to return to the ring, he or she may be able to capture it.


Aliens: Screen Memories and Faery Abductions




Mysterious Structures Found in Syrian Desert   Discovery - June 26, 2012

An ancient landscape of stone circles, alignments and possible tombs lies out in the Syrian Desert, according to a Royal Ontario Museum archaeologist who has dubbed the mysterious structures "Syria's Stonehenge." "These enigmatic arrangements are not especially imposing, they are not megaliths or anything like that, but they are very intriguing and clearly deliberately aligned," Robert Mason of Canada's Royal Ontario Museum told Discovery News.


Sacred Stone Circles




Subway work unearths ancient road in Greece   AP - June 26, 2012

Archaeologists in Greece's second-largest city have uncovered a 70-meter (230-foot) section of an ancient road built by the Romans that was the city's main travel artery nearly 2,000 years ago. The marble-paved road was unearthed during excavations for Thessaloniki's new subway system, which is due to be completed in four years. The road in the northern port city will be raised to be put on permanent display when the metro opens in 2016.


Ancient Road Construction


Ancient Greece




Roman Icon Actually Younger Than the City   Live Science - June 26, 2012

The icon of Rome's foundation, a life-size bronze statue of a she-wolf with two human infants suckling her, is about 1,700 years younger than its city, Rome's officials admitted on Saturday. The official announcement, made at the Capitoline Museums, where the 30 inch-high bronze is the centerpiece of a dedicated room, quashes the belief that the sculpture was adopted by the earliest Romans as a symbol for their city.


Mythology of Ancient Rome




Ancient Text Confirms Mayan Calendar End Date


Mayan Civilization


2012




Cavemen Bones Yield Oldest Modern Human DNA   Live Science - June 29, 2012

What may be the oldest fragments of the modern human genome found yet have now been revealed - DNA from the 7,000-year-old bones of two cavemen unearthed in Spain, researchers say. These findings suggest the cavemen there were not the ancestors of the people found in the region today, investigators added. Scientists have recently sequenced the genomes of our closest extinct relatives, the Neanderthals and the Denisovans. When it came to our lineage, the oldest modern human genomes recovered yet came from Otzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy found in the Alps in 1991. Researchers have salvaged DNA from even older human cells, but this comes from the mitochondria that generate energy for our bodies, and not from the nucleus where our chromosomes are housed. (Mitochondrial DNA is passed down only by mothers.)




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