Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Mysterious Ancient Camel Sculptures in Saudi desert

Squinting in the Saudi desert, unprecedented archaeological discovery of camels carved on russet-hued rocky spurs that could shed new light on the evolution of rock art. Almost a dozen humped sculptures, some of them damaged from erosion and vandalism, are probably around 2,000 years old and were recently discovered in a private property along a desert crossing in the northern province of Al-Jouf. The sculptures, which also depict equids, or hoofed mammals, show a level of artistic skill unseen in other rock art forms in the Saudi desert.  This is great work of artistry and creativity, now well known in archeological circles as “the camel site”. Khalifah a researcher explored the site in 2016 and 2017, accidentally found the carvings, when a local friend told him about camel shaped mountain.  Despite detailed artwork, the ancient artists left very few inscriptions or pieces of writing behind unlike at many other rock art locations.
Indeed truly unique and rare camels were carved in the mountain outcrops for centuries venerated as the “ship of the desert “are a familiar motif in artworks from the kingdom. The three dimensional engravings featuring only part of a camel’s body such as the hooves, differ from those discovered at other Saudi sites. Many are perched high on the outcrops and would have required ropes or scaffolding. Moreover, one engraving in specific stands out a camel facing what appears to be a donkey, mule or horse, animals that have rarely been represented in the region’s rock art. The incredible carvings show great skill in their level of naturalism and their sheer size. This discovery may potentially change the understanding of prehistoric population dynamics and cultural traits. However, the site is shrouded in mystery, with little information on who created the carvings or the tools they used. The closest Nabateans tribe known for founding the city of Petra in modern-day Jordan that was carved out of sandstone desert cliffs. In one rock panel there is a camel lying on the ground with its head tilted toward a donkey that is on its feet. The two are nearly touching.
The discovery has shone a spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s rich bedouin heritage. The kingdom is endowed with thousands of examples of painted rock art and ancient inscriptions. This discovery will show variety and richness of the Saudi Arabian past have different styles, which suggests there was more than one artist behind them. Archaeologists say, it is possible, that the Al-Jouf site was one of veneration or on a caravan route used as a resting place or boundary marker. The site is an emblematic place on the regional and caravan routes towards Mesopotamia.  Thus, further fieldwork is now required to find the answers. Many of the eroded sculptures are hard to date, but archaeologists estimate they were possibly completed in the first centuries BC or AD. If they pre-date the domestication of the camel, then they represent wild specimens who may have been hunted, and a successful hunt may have been vital for the survival of the local human populations. Also visible alongside the engravings were painted art forms, which showed human and mythological beings and an object that appeared to look like a chariot.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Ancient Bristlecone Pines of the Great Basin

At high elevations in a region of the western United States recognized as the Great Basin. Here is a species of pine lives a quiet, isolated, and exceptionally long life. Bristlecone pines are famous for attaining great ages, have been found that have lived more than 5,000 years longer than any other non-clonal organism. Bristlecone pines are small to medium-sized windblown trees ranging from about 5 to 16 meters (15 to 50 feet) in height Bristlecone pines grow in isolated groves just below the tree line; grow in soils that are shallow lithosols, usually derived from dolomite and sometimes limestone, and sporadically sandstone or quartzite soils. Dolomite soils are alkaline, high in calcium and magnesium, and low in phosphorus.

The trees are extremely hardy, surviving in harsh freezing cold temperatures, being buried in snow, and restorative powerful winds. However, in several cases, portions of the tree can die-off and allow the tree to preserve its limited resources. Hence, Bristlecones aren’t very tall and every so often appear dead or very weathered. Few other plants can grow in the hard rock that Bristlecones prefer, and often the oldest trees are those that live in the most exposed and precarious places. Further, the Rocky Mountain population is sternly threatened by an introduced fungal disease recognized as white pine blister rust, and by pine beetles. The bark of the Great Basin bristlecone pine is characteristically orange-yellow to light brown, whereas that of the Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine is typically gray-brown. The female cones are ovoid in shape and deep purple when young; they mature to a pale brown and bear a characteristic bristle on each scale.

Although, one thing they can’t last is chainsaws. In what is now the Great Basin National Park of eastern Nevada, a tree known as “Prometheus” was being studied by a group of ecologists. Experts drill cores out of trees in order to count and measure the rings that chronicle their growth. Thus, much about the tree’s life and the ecological conditions in the area can be derived from these samples. Unluckily, when Prometheus was drilled for a core, the tool used for this process broke off inside. The investigator needed his tool back and to get it, he had to cut the tree down. Once he’d retrieved his tool and the core from Prometheus, he was able to define that the tree had lived 4,862 years longer than any other single living organism.

Moreover, an older tree hasn’t been found since, though one recognized as Methuselah is believed to be about 4,850 years old and its specific location is also being kept secret. Most of the living groves of these trees are under better protection now and can be visited in numerous locations throughout the Great Basin and in California. The other two species, Pinus balfouriana and Pinus aristata are also long-lived; specimens of both have been measured or estimated to be up to 3,000 years old. The study of the wood of these ancient trees has revealed environmental conditions stretching back to almost 9,000 years ago.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Spook Hill ! Florida's

Spook Hill is located on the Lake Wales Ridge, (about 50 miles south of Disney World) a geologically significant range of sand and limestone hills, which were islands from two to three million years ago, when sea levels were much higher than at present. The Legends abound regarding this landmark, and famous as a magnetic hill, anti-gravity location or simply a “gravity hill” a car, placed in neutral, will appear to roll uphill  Spook Hill is  an optical illusion where cars appear to roll up the spooky hill. Spook Hill is located directly across the street from Spook Hill Elementary School, which conveniently adopted "Casper the Friendly Ghost" as their school mascot. The Friendly Ghost as their school mascot. Before the age of automobiles, horses would supposedly struggle to go downhill. The town embraces and officially recognizes the hill’s curious properties.

The attraction is also in close proximity to Bok Tower. Spook Hill received national media attention when an article about it appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on October 25, 1990, and it was featured in a segment on CBS Morning News with Charles Osgood on November 5, 1990. The Legends believe that an Indian chief battled an alligator that had been terrorizing the local village. The fight was outwardly so intense that both combatants eventually died, on top of the hill. The legends are split as to whether it is the chief or the alligator’s spirit that haunts the hill. In reality neither chief nor alligator are responsible for the hill’s anti-gravity properties, but like all other anti-gravity spots is the result of a unusual optical illusion. Moreover, you should read the cute sign, drive slowly to the white line in the road, stop, put your car in neutral and BE CAREFUL looking backwards as your car mysteriously rolls uphill and you try to keep your car in the middle of the road and not crash into another dumb tourist.