Monthly Archives: July 2018

ARCHIMEDES’ CANNON

If Archimedes (or Da Vinci) designed and built it you know it worked. Trouble would be reload/reset times, and handling parameters. To be effective you’d need a number of cannons firing in strict rotation, and you’d need some pretty damned effective ammunition. You couldn’t beat the Romans on psychological effect alone. Almost no one ever did.

Overall, and histrionically speaking, they were the most “cool under fire” military that ever existed.

Greek scientists make successful test with replica of ancient steam cannon

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-01 20:01:38|Editor: mmm

ATHENS, July 1 (Xinhua) — A group of Greek scientists including engineer Alexandros Oikonomidis made a successful test this weekend, firing a replica model of the ancient steam cannon designed by Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 BC), the ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer and inventor.

The test was carried out in a field at Koropi, a suburb of Athens. Original cannon had been used to defend the city from invading Romans (213-211 BC). The replica model was constructed four decades ago by Oikonomidis’ late colleague Yannis Sakkas.

Centuries before him, Leonardo da Vinci had also reconstructed Archimedes’ war device, according to scholars.

The steam cannon basically consists of a metal tube. One end of the tube is capped while the other is loaded with the projectile. Once the tube is heated and reaches high enough temperature, a small amount of water is injected in behind the projectile. It rapidly turns into high-pressure steam, blasting the projectile out of the barrel.

A projectile of about 6 cm diameter reached some 30 meters on Saturday, far less than the over 1,000 meters the ancient steam cannon larger in size could reach. Still the mission was accomplished.

Oikonomidis, assisted by Yorgos Sakkas, the son of the late engineer, and other Greek experts, proved once again that the design of the machine is working and simple ideas can make great difference.

“This is a replay of an experiment made by my colleague and friend Yannis Sakkas 37 years ago. He worked based on a manuscript discovered in the archives of the great inventor, engineer, mechanic, architect and artist Leonardo da Vinci,” Oikonomidis told Xinhua before the test.

“Among these archives there were three sketches depicting da Vinci’s version of the steam cannon Archimedes had invented to target the Roman ships which had gathered around Syracuse,” he said.

“He (Sakkas) wanted to prove that Archimedes’ achievements, as narrated, were not legends but the crystal clear reality,” Oikonomidis added.

Oikonomidis undertook the task of tearing apart, repairing and putting together again the 1.2 meter-long device which had been left aside in a warehouse for years.

Saturday’s experiment was carried out ahead of an exhibition on Ancient Greek warfare technology which will be hosted at the Herakleidon museum opposite the Acropolis hill from August 22, Pantelis Mitsiou, head of the museum’s marketing and communication department, told Xinhua.

“Basically we wanted to have a firing shot for educational purposes, to see how this device functioned in antiquity,” Mitsiou said.

“The idea is very simple. The aim is to create enough pressure inside the chamber so that it will blast the projectile to a distance,” he explained.

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INTERESTING

Interesting, especially given the differences of the cultures…

Dai tempi di Omero, i greci hanno idealizzato i loro antenati Micenei in poemi epici e tragedie classiche che glorificano le imprese di Ulisse, del re Agamennone e di altri eroi che entravano e uscivano dal favore degli dei ellenici. Sebbene i micenei raccontati nei poemi fossero frutto della fantasia, un team di studiosi ha compiuto una serie di analisi genetiche per appurare la discendenza dei moderni Greci.

Il DNA dei moderni greci è strettamente correlato agli antichissimi Micenei e Minoici

La Civiltà Micenea si sviluppò fra il 1.600 e il 1.200 a.C. nella zona di Micene, nel Peloponneso, per poi scomparire in modo repentino e misterioso, gettando però i semi per la cultura della Grecia Classica. I Minoici erano la popolazione dell’isola di Creta, oggi così chiamati grazie al nome del mitico Re Minosse, che costituirono la civiltà cretese fra il 2.000 e il 1.450 a.C.. I Micenei, contemporanei per lungo tempo dei Minoici, erano più combattivi di questi ultimi, che invece si dedicavano al commercio, e a un certo punto, fra il 1.450 e il 1.400 a.C., li assoggettarono al proprio controllo.

Sotto, la Porta dei Leoni a Micene. Fotografia di Andrea Trepte condivisa con licenza CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikipedia:

Epicamente non furono solo i Minoici a cadere, ma anche la città di Troia in Turchia, conquistata dai Micenei

In una ricerca del 2013, l’antico DNA di 19 persone vissute fra il 2.900 e il 1.700 a.C. (fra cui 10 minoici cretesi, 4 Micenei del sito archeologico di Micene e 5 persone di altre culture fra Grecia e Turchia) è stato confrontato con quello di 30 moderni Greci e altre 334 persone vissute in antichità in tutta l’area Mediterranea ed Eurasiatica.

I risultati sono stati sorprendenti

I micenei erano strettamente legati alle popolazioni minoiche, ed entrambi dovevano 3/4 del loro DNA ai primi agricoltori che vivevano in Grecia e nell’Anatolia sud-Occidentale. Entrambe le culture avevano un DNA connesso ai coltivatori caucasici nei pressi all’odierno Iran, suggerendo che la migrazione di persone dall’est avvenne prima che i micenei si separassero dai minoici. Tutte queste popolazioni, hanno un DNA profondamente diverso da quello delle popolazioni Africane ed Egiziane dell’epoca.

Rispetto agli abitanti di Creta, i Micenei portavano un’importante differenza:

Dal 4 al 16% del loro DNA proveniva da popolazioni del Nord-Europa o della Siberia

Uno degli autori dello studio, Iosif Lazaridis, genetista delle popolazioni presso l’Università di Harvard, afferma come sia quindi chiaro che le migrazioni dalla steppa eurasiatica proseguirono sino a poco prima del periodo Miceneo, ma non raggiunsero gli abitanti di Creta.

Sotto, affresco di una danzatrice al palazzo di Cnosso:

Non a caso, minoici e micenei si assomigliano. Negli affreschi, nelle ceramiche e in genere in tutte le opere d’arte, gli artisti di entrambe le culture dipingevano persone con gli occhi scuri e i capelli scuri, sebbene le due culture parlassero e scrivessero lingue diverse (Lineare A e Lineare B). I micenei erano più militaristi, e la loro arte era caratterizzata da lance e immagini di guerra, mentre l’arte minoica non era centrata sul culto della battaglia.

Sotto, una donna raffigurata a Micene:

E i greci moderni?

La parte forse più interessante dello studio è quella che raffronta la popolazione della moderna Grecia con quella degli antichissimi Greci. Fra i Micenei, i Minoici e i Greci Moderni esistono numerosissime sovrapposizioni genetiche. Per George Stamatoyannopoulos, co-autore dello studio, la continuità fra popolazioni vissute oltre 3.500 anni fa e i Greci moderni è sorprendente.

La Grecia subì le invasioni dei Persiani, dei Romani, dei popoli Barbari, il dominio dei Veneziani e dei Turchi Ottomani

Questo suggerisce che le componenti genetiche degli antenati dei Greci erano già consolidate durante l’età del bronzo (3.500-1.200 a.C.), dopo che la migrazione dei primi agricoltori dall’Anatolia stabilì il modello per il corredo genetico dei greci e, di fatto, per molti altri popoli europei.

Pittura a Cnosso:

La conclusione di Stamatoyannopoulos è che: “Ora sappiamo che i fondatori delle prima civiltà europea avanzata erano europei. Essi erano molto simili agli europei del neolitico e molto simili ai cretesi del giorno d’oggi“.

Il prossimo obiettivo dei genetisti è riuscire a identificare le connessioni fra il misterioso popolo Ittita e i moderni abitanti dell’odierna Anatolia.

Articolo parzialmente tradotto e da Science Mag., altre fonti sono le pagine Wikipedia riguardanti la Civiltà Micenea e Minoica.

THE BLACK SARCOPHAGUS

THE MAGUS

ANOTHER GOD AWFUL GOOD DAY – AND THE RETURN OF THE MANTICORE

The Missal

Had another God awfully (in the true sense of the term God-awe-full) good and profitable. Plus it was an enormously fun day. This has become my consistent habit.

While I traveled today I finished up my lecture series on Ancient Religion in the Mediterranean World and then listened (or re-listened, haven’t heard it since I was in my twenties) to the First disc of Return of the Manticore, which was excellent indeed.

I really, really like progressive Rock groups, especially those that derive much of their work through adaptation of ancient, art, classical, and folk music, scores, and sources, as does ELP.

Plus I was able to score several truly useful treasures today including adding to my personal library two of the works formerly held in the library of Robert Jordan (really regret never meeting him, and a real shame too since he was a fellow South Carolinian and…

View original post 238 more words

THE GOTHS AND HUNS TO THE NORSE

Rather fascinating accounts…

 

FASA

I spent many great hours in my youth wargaming Star Trek in Star Fleet Battles, plus I developed my own Star Trek role playing game to match my SFB universe. I am seriously considering purchasing this game.

THE SHIP OF A MILLION YEARS

He’s got a point… the Thesean dilemma is true of all things that maintain at least some sense of their (original) integrity, even men.

But this gives me an idea for a science-fiction short story. About a ship whose components are gradually and intentionally replaced over time by new components of the exact same shape, design, and dimensions but with vastly different and more complex capabilities.

Adaptive pre-programmed (improvable future) design is one of the basic core principles of my personal method of design and invention.

 

BREAD AND CIRCUMSTANCE

Archaeologists discover bread that predates agriculture by 4,000 years

July 16, 2018
University of Copenhagen
One of the stone structures of the Shubayqa 1 site. The fireplace, where the bread was found, is in the middle. Credit: Alexis Pantos

At an archaeological site in northeastern Jordan, researchers have discovered the charred remains of a flatbread baked by hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago. It is the oldest direct evidence of bread found to date, predating the advent of agriculture by at least 4,000 years. The findings suggest that bread production based on wild cereals may have encouraged hunter-gatherers to cultivate cereals, and thus contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period.

A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen, University College London and University of Cambridge have analysed charred  remains from a 14,400-year-old Natufian hunter-gatherer site—a site known as Shubayqa 1 located in the Black Desert in northeastern Jordan. The results, which are published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide the earliest empirical evidence for the production of bread:

“The presence of hundreds of charred food remains in the fireplaces from Shubayqa 1 is an exceptional find, and it has given us the chance to characterize 14,000-year-old food practices. The 24 remains analysed in this study show that wild ancestors of domesticated cereals such as barley, einkorn, and oat had been ground, sieved and kneaded prior to cooking. The remains are very similar to unleavened flatbreads identified at several Neolithic and Roman sites in Europe and Turkey. So we now know that bread-like products were produced long before the development of farming. The next step is to evaluate if the production and consumption of bread influenced the emergence of plant cultivation and domestication at all,” said University of Copenhagen archaeobotanist Amaia Arranz Otaegui, who is the first author of the study.

University of Copenhagen archaeologist Tobias Richter, who led the excavations at Shubayqa 1 in Jordan, explained:

“Natufian hunter-gatherers are of particular interest to us because they lived through a transitional period when people became more sedentary and their diet began to change. Flint sickle blades as well as ground stone tools found at Natufian sites in the Levant have long led archaeologists to suspect that people had begun to exploit plants in a different and perhaps more effective way. But the flat bread found at Shubayqa 1 is the earliest evidence of bread making recovered so far, and it shows that baking was invented before we had plant cultivation. So this evidence confirms some of our ideas. Indeed, it may be that the early and extremely time-consuming production of bread based on wild cereals may have been one of the key driving forces behind the later  where wild cereals were cultivated to provide more convenient sources of food.”

Dr. Amaia Arranz-Otaegui and Ali Shakaiteer sampling cereals in the Shubayqa area. Credit: Joe Roe

Charred remains under the microscope

The charred food remains were analysed with electron microscopy at a University College London lab by Ph.D. candidate Lara Gonzalez Carratero (UCL Institute of Archaeology), who is an expert on prehistoric bread:

“The identification of ‘bread’ or other cereal-based products in archaeology is not straightforward. There has been a tendency to simplify classification without really testing it against an identification criteria. We have established a new set of criteria to identify flat bread, dough and porridge like products in the archaeological record. Using Scanning Electron Microscopy we identified the microstructures and particles of each charred food remain,” said Gonzalez Carratero.

“Bread involves labour intensive processing which includes dehusking, grinding of cereals and kneading and baking. That it was produced before farming methods suggests it was seen as special, and the desire to make more of this special food probably contributed to the decision to begin to cultivate cereals. All of this relies on new methodological developments that allow us to identify the remains of  from very small charred fragments using high magnification,” said Professor Dorian Fuller (UCL Institute of Archaeology).

More information: Amaia Arranz-Otaegui el al., “Archaeobotanical evidence reveals the origins of bread 14,400 years ago in northeastern Jordan,” PNAS(2018). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1801071115

Provided by University of Copenhagen

Explore further: Archaeologists revise chronology of the last hunter-gatherers in the Near East

THE STAR TREK WARGAMING AND ROLEPLAYING UNIVERSE(S)

I spent a lotta time in my youth wargaming Star Fleet Battles and playing Star Trek the Roleplaying Game (or at least my own personal modifications of both). Both were superb games.

 

SUPERIOR WARFIGHTING

The soldiering superiority of the ancient technologically advanced combatant

 

THE ANCIENT DARK AGES

I’ve always greatly enjoyed Cline’s lectures even when I suspect he is wrong…

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