Say hello to the Jewel Box Cluster 👋This Hubble Space Telescope…

Say hello to the Jewel Box Cluster 👋

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows a young, open star cluster known as NGC 4755 or the Jewel Box. Just like old school friends that drift apart after graduation, the stars in open clusters only remain together for a limited time. They disperse into space over the course of a few hundred million years, pulled away by the gravitational tugs of other passing clusters and clouds of gas.

The Jewel Box is a spartan collection of just over 100 stars. The cluster is about 6,500 light-years away from Earth, which means that the light we see from it today was emitted before the Great Pyramids in Egypt were built.

Head outside and you can see it for yourself! The Jewel Box is visible to the naked eye, but will masquerade as a single star. Grab a pair of binoculars if you want to see more of the cluster’s sparkling stellar population. It is located in the southern constellation of the cross (Crux).

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Archaeologists shed light on Neolithic culture in Egypt’s Western Desert

Very little is known about Neolithic Egypt, the precursor to the subsequent civilisation of Pyramids and Pharaohs we all know today. The often-inaccessible sites conceal their mysteries, lying beneath the Nile’s former flood plain or in outlying deserts.

Archaeologists shed light on Neolithic culture in Egypt's Western Desert
Neolithic skull unearthed at Gebel Ramlah [Credit: Czekaj-Zastawny et al. 2018]

An international group of scientists has reported the discovery of burial sites that date back to an ancient culture that existed in the Libyan desert and enabled the rise of ancient Egypt, publishing some of their findings in the African Archaeological Review.
While many of us tend to associate pre-Hellenic Egypt exclusively with the pharaohs and pyramids of the Dynastic period, there was a Neolithic civilisation that predated it.

Archaeologists shed light on Neolithic culture in Egypt's Western Desert
Excavation site at Gebel Ramlah [Credit: Czekaj-Zastawny et al. 2018]

Members of the Combined Prehistoric Expedition, with permission from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), studied burial sites focusing on the Final Neolithic (4,600-4,000 BC), which was built on the success of the Late Neolithic (5,500-4,650 BC) and lying along the former shores of an extinct seasonal lake near a place called Gebel Ramlah.
In “Gebel Ramlah—a Unique Newborns’ Cemetery of the Neolithic Sahara”, the researchers offer important insights into the mysterious ways of life of the ancient peoples. At that time, the climate in the desert was more humid than today, which allowed ancient farmers to populate the area. This culture was characterised by the cultivation of livestock and the creation of megalithic structures, shrines and even calendar circles resembling Stonehenge.

Archaeologists shed light on Neolithic culture in Egypt's Western Desert
Well preserved vs. wind-eroded remains at Gebel Ramlah
[Credit: Czekaj-Zastawny et al. 2018]

During the final part of the Neolithic period, people started burying their dead in formal cemeteries. The skeletons provide telltale information about their health, relationships, diet and even psychological experiences.
In 2001-2003 the archaeologists excavated three cemeteries from this era, uncovering and studying 68 skeletons and the artefacts left in the graves: elaborate cosmetic tools for women, stone weapons for men, as well as ornamental pottery, sea shells, stone and ostrich eggshell jewellery. Researchers found that these people had a low level infant mortality, high growth, and a relatively long life expectancy (40-50 years).

Archaeologists shed light on Neolithic culture in Egypt's Western Desert
Grave goods from 2001-2003 excavations at Gebel Ramlah
[Credit: Czekaj-Zastawny et al. 2018]

In 2009-2016, two more cemeteries were discovered with 130 skeletons and a small number of artefacts. According to the results of the analysis, these people were short, there was a high degree of infant mortality and they had a short life expectancy.
Pondering the reasons for the tremendous differences in the burial sites, researchers came up with a number of theories. It’s possible that some sites were intended for people of high social status, while others were for the working class. This could be the earliest evidence of class stratification in Egypt, claim the experts.

Archaeologists shed light on Neolithic culture in Egypt's Western Desert
Map of the cemetery for newborns at Gebel Ramlah
[Credit: K. Juszczyk and J. Kabacinski]

These indicators, taken together with the innovative technological and ceremonial architecture, such as the calendar circles and shrines, imply that these people showed a level of sophistication beyond that of common cattle and sheep/goat herders.

The fascinating finds can be viewed as a precursor of things to come in Ancient Egypt.

Author: Svetlana Ekimenko | Source: Sputnik News [August 06, 2019]

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Thousands of 17th century silver coins found buried in Teutonic Knights’ church

A treasure trove of 17th century silver coins has been found under the floor of a monastic church. Archaeologists from the University of Gdansk were working in the presbytery of the 14th century Church of the Saint Andrew the Apostle in the town of Barczewo in Poland’s northern province of Warmia, when they discovered a glazed ceramic mug handle filled with nearly 1,000 coins. Coins were also scattered around the vessel.

Thousands of 17th century silver coins found buried in Teutonic Knights’ church
Archaeologists from the University of Gdansk discovered a glazed ceramic mug
handle filled with nearly 1,000 coins [Credit: Tomasz Waszczuk/PAP]

The treasure was hidden underground in the north-western corner of the chancel near what is known as the rainbow arch. Though covered in dirt and needing a good clean after their 400-year hibernation, the experts from Gdansk said that the coins are relatively well-preserved.
The coins are silver and were struck for the Polish royal crown and bear the image of King Sigismund III Vasa’s long reign (1587-1632). The find is made up mainly of lower denomination Polish coins, and includes groschens, 1.5 groschens, as well as 3 and 6 groschen coins. The haul includes many Prussian shillings struck for Prince George Wilhelm Hohenzollern, who was a fief of the Republic of Poland, as well as Lithuanian coins.

Thousands of 17th century silver coins found buried in Teutonic Knights’ church
The find is made up mainly of lower denomination Polish coins, and includes groschens,
1.5 groschens, as well as 3 and 6 groschen coins [Credit: Tomasz Waszczuk/PAP]

Dr. Koperkiewicz, the archaeologist leading the work, believes that the treasure was placed under the floor in the chancel of the church by the monks themselves. Many of the coins have marks on them suggesting that they were in circulation for a long time. One of them has a hole showing that it could have been worn around the neck.
Dr Koperkiewicz says that the coins were hidden at the time when the Bernardine monastery flourished in the 17th century, when the Order received numerous subsidies from the Warmian bishops. However, it remains a mystery why the coins were placed where they were and why they remained hidden until today.

Thousands of 17th century silver coins found buried in Teutonic Knights’ church
Dr. Koperkiewicz, the archaeologist leading the work, believes that the treasure was placed under the floor
 in the chancel of the church by the monks themselves [Credit: Tomasz Waszczuk/PAP]

Dr Arkadiusz Koperkiewicz said in an interview with PAP: “It is a sensational find in terms of the context of the discovery and the amount of historical information directly connected with the history of the Barczewo monastery and the history of Warmia. It reflects the character of the place and the specificity of the monetary crisis of those times. Its value as a date marker in further conservation work should not be under-estimated.”
The interior of the church is currently undergoing preparatory work to strengthen the earth under the foundations of the church. The Church of St. Andrew the Apostle was built at the same time as Franciscan monastery at the end of the 14th century by the Teutonic Order.

Thousands of 17th century silver coins found buried in Teutonic Knights’ church
The interior of the church is undergoing preparatory work to strengthen the earth
under the foundations of the church [Credit: Tomasz Waszczuk/PAP]

The monastery, like other Prussian monasteries, fell into decline and was deserted during the Reformation in the first half of the 16th century. It was restored thanks to the bishops of Warmia, including Bishop Andrzej Batory, the nephew of the Polish king Stefan Batory, who invited the Bernardine order to settle in the monastery.
The Bernardines remained in Barczewo until 1810, when they were abolished by the Prussian authorities. After World War II, the Franciscans returned to Barczewo and regained the church of St. Andrew the Apostle.

Thousands of 17th century silver coins found buried in Teutonic Knights’ church
Though covered in dirt and needing a good clean after their 400-year hibernation, the experts from
Gdansk said that the coins are relatively well-preserved [Credit: Tomasz Waszczuk/PAP]

The extensive program of archaeological, architectural and conservation being carried out in the church is connected with the ongoing complex renovation and construction work, which will last until 2021.

Przemyslaw Gorek, head of conservation at Gorek Restauro, the general contractor, told PAP: “We will do everything in our power to make sure that the treasure can be exhibited here in the Church in a specially arranged exhibition space.”

Author: Stuart Dowell | Source: The First News [August 06, 2019]

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