Analyzing 12 ancient Egyptian papyri fragments with X-ray microscopy, University of Copenhagen researchers were surprised to find previously unknown lead compounds in both red and black inks and suggest they were used for their drying properties rather than as a pigment. A similar lead-based 'drying technique' has also been documented in 15th century European painting, and the discovery of it in Egyptian papyri calls for a reassessment of ancient lead-based pigments.
Scientists led by the ESRF, the European Synchrotron, Grenoble, France and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, have discovered the composition of red and black inks in ancient Egyptian papyri from circa 100-200 AD, leading to different hypotheses about writing practices. The analysis, based on synchrotron techniques, shows that lead was probably used as a dryer rather than as a pigment, similar to its usage in 15th century Europe during the development of oil paintings. They publish their results today in PNAS.
Assessment of a Papyrus in the Field Museum has led to a new analysis of the First Book of Breathing, an ancient Egyptian funerary text intended to enable deceased people to join the gods in the afterlife.
The first analysis of a sedimentary drill core representing 1 million years of environmental history in the East African Rift Valley shows that at the same time early humans were abandoning old tools in favor of more sophisticated technology and broadening their trade, their landscape was experiencing frequent fluctuations in vegetation and water supply that made resources less reliably available. The findings suggest that instability in their landscape was a key driver of human adaptability.
The legend of Solomon and the birds associated with the Dome of the Rock was developed over time. Stories about the two birds demonstrate that Sufi traditions and the figure of Solomon were still very influential in shaping the appearance and conception of the Dome of the Rock.
McMaster University researchers who analyzed thousands of documents covering a 300-year span of plague outbreaks in London, England, have estimated that the disease spread four times faster in the 17th century than it had in the 14th century.
Mammals and birds today are warm-blooded, and this is often taken as the reason for their great success.
When anthropologists examined a broad, global sample of 30 pre-modern societies, they found that when 'good' governments -- ones that provided goods and services for their people and did not starkly concentrate wealth and power -- fell apart, they broke down more intensely than collapsing despotic regimes. And the researchers found a common thread in the collapse of good governments: leaders who undermined and broke from upholding core societal principles, morals, and ideals. It's... relevant.
Israeli archaeologists found an astonishing common denominator among storage jars in Israel over a period of 350 years: the inner-rim diameter of the jar's neck. It's consistent with measurements of the palm of a (male) hand and may reflect the use of the original metrics for the biblical measurement of the "tefach," a unit of measurement that was used primarily by ancient Israelites, appears frequently in the Old Testament and is the basis for many legal and purity laws
UZH researchers have investigated ancient leather balls discovered in the graves of horse riders in northwest China. According to the international research team, they are around 3,000 years old, making them the oldest balls in Eurasia. The find suggests amongst others that the mounted warriors of Central Asia played ball games to keep themselves fit.