Archaeology Round-Up

At ... Tel Aviv University archaeologists have explored Naukritis, a Greek trade emporium in Egypt during the 7th and 6th centuries BC. It existed under the protection of powerful political forces, namely the Lydian empire which had a formal alliance with the Egyptian Empire. The Lydians, at the time, controlled the Greek settlements in Ionia, and in western Anatolia.

Roman Sea Level ... and a paper blasting climate models

There are currently a succession of very good posts at EM Smith (December 6th) begins by bemoaning the constant bleating about the hottest year ever - before it has reached its end. As many other people have looked at the medieval warming he thought it might be interesting to look at what is called the Roman Optimum.

Rivers cut notches in glacial valleys

Again, can be found at ... a geological conumdrum as rivers form steep inner gorges in some broad glacial valleys in the Alps. The U shaped valleys were formed by slow moving glaciers, eroding the bedrock over hundreds and thousands of years. When the glaciers receded rivers carved V shaped notches, or inner gorges, into the flow of the glacial valleys.

Flickering flares

At ... astronomers have been looking at the waxing and waning light of exploding stars and have seen patterns that aren't yet accounted for within the consensus view. The paper was published in The Astrophysical Journal and the instrument used in the study was the Solar Mass Ejection Imager in California.

Some snippets gleaned from The Times archaeology section in late November/early December 2010

November 26th ... a 20 mile long reef of chalk has been found by divers offshore of Sheringham in Norfolk. It consist of arches and caves within a ridge of chalk that extends out to sea by at least 20 miles in length. Its width has not been measured. The question now might be - did it once form a barrier to the sea? ... or was it a former ridge or range of hills that has been overwhelmed by rising sea levels?

Evidence of biomass burning in ice cores

At there is a press release on a paper from the December 2nd issue of Science and it seems that Antarctic ice cores have found some striking evidence of biomass burning in the southern hemisphere over the last 650 years - with a series of peaks and troughs. They go back to 1350AD and therefore embrace the period of the Black Death epidemic (see Mike Baillie, New Light on the Black Death).

Fossils of the Soom Shale deposit

At ... a site near Table Mountain in South Africa has a rock layer a few metres thick that contains the petrified remains of bizarre early life-forms complete with eyes, guts, and muscles. It is a mystery how they were preserved in such a pristine condition but a paper in the December issue of Geology claims it was all down to the wind. A bitter wind blowing off an ice sheet.

Comet Hartley2

The NASA web site had a collection of images as Deep Impact approached Comet Hartley2 and locked its cameras onto the comet nuclei. At there is a short piece written in the lead up to the encounter between spacecraft and comet. When it was some 12 million miles from earth Comet Hartley2 NASA meteorite experts claimed debris interacted with the atmosphere of the earth as there was a shower of fireballs on November 2nd and 3rd.

Indus Valley Lakes

At .... we learn that the Indus Valley civilisation covered a region that included Baluchistan in the west to the Upper Ganga-Yamuna Daub in the east, a quite extensive area. The town of Dholavira in the Great Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat province was located on an island surrounded by water - a city of lakes. Nowadays it is arid. What happened?

Ice Age Sea Levels

At we learn that research at Southampton University is looking at the rate of sea level rise at the end of the Ice Age. Presumably computer simulation is being used which is programmed by the idea that sea levels rose as a result of a melting ice sheet rather than through a catastrophic redistribution of ocean waters.