morning 04.02.16

View From Space Hints at a New Viking Site in North America. This deserves its own post, but it’s a busy morning.

The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows, the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960.

Pynchon in Public. A podcast devoted to Thomas Pynchon!

Turkey moves to rebuild San Stefano Russian Monument in Istanbul. After the blowup at the Syrian border, Russia and Turkey are attempting to repair relationships by rebuilding monuments from their conflict during World War I. That seems… backwards.

Clinton aides unite on FBI legal strategy. All four Clinton aides in the State Department being interviewed by the FBI have hired the same lawyer (Beth Wilkinson) and each are paying a flat fee. Politico says that the aides must think there must not be much of a case, because they’re not in fear of one person turning on the others, which would made the lawyer’s job difficult. My theory is that they have a plan as to who is going to fall on his sword to protect Hillary. They are the firewall. This is all about coordination. All they have to do is protect Clinton, hope she is elected, and whoever is the fall guy gets the same treatment Scooter Libby received.

My hero: Flann O’Brien by John Banville.

NASA Satellite Images Uncover Underground Forest Fungi.

Rover reveals puzzling sand dunes on Mars. Some of this is only now catching up with the crazy speculation from orbiter photos from the late ’90s.

Possibly one of the last recorded interviews with Dan O’Bannon.

Anti-languages. The cants of the persecuted and criminal.

The Temple of Bel should not be rebuilt.

Pamuk weighs in on Erdogan

It feels as if Pamuk has been quieter about the state of Turkey for the past several years. My guess is that with his time in Istanbul, working with his museum/art installation project, he would risk being grabbed up and prosecuted if he spoke too loudly. Pamuk has some things to say about Erdogan now that I missed if he stated before.

Another thing:

I sense Pamuk sometimes tires of political questions. At heart he is an aesthete. “I am not by nature a political person,” he admitted. “I was criticised by the previous generation of more socially committed writers for being a bourgeois writing about bourgeois life.”

I wish he’d write more aesthetic novels. Of course he still is, but as the years pass, his books are more.. you know… bourgeois. I miss the the more obvious references to the Sufi tradition. His love for the shopkeepers, domestic romance, and such is not my cup of tea. That’s where he finds his beauty obviously. I love my home and family too but it’s not anything I need a reflection of in the books I read. Eh.

via 3 Quarks Daily.

Signs of world’s first pictograph found in Göbeklitepe

An obelisk at Göbeklitepe appears to depict a sky burial ritual. The obelisk seems to date to 12,000 years ago.

“The scene on the obelisk unearthed in Göbeklitepe could be construed as the first pictograph because it depicts an event thematically. It depicts a human head in the wing of a vulture and a headless human body under the stela,” ?anl?urfa Museum Director and Göbeklitepe excavation head Müslüm Ercan said. “There are various figures like cranes and scorpions around this figure. This is the portrayal of a moment; it could be the first example of pictograph. They are not random figures. We see this type of thing portrayal on the walls in 6,000-5,000 B.C. in Çatalhöyük [in modern-day western Turkey].”

women’s rights detailed in 4,000 year old Assyrian tablet

The site is Kültepe-Kani?-Karum in central Turkey. Most of the 23,500 cuneiform tablets document commerce, but some are turning up more interesting details.

“From women’s rights to the adoption of children and marriages arranged at birth, the tablets include all kinds of civilizational and social data from Anatolia 4,000 years ago. There is also an emotional letter from a woman to her husband and a letter from another woman who complains about her mother-in-law. You can’t find such things in an empire’s official archive,” he said.


Massive Underground City Found in Cappadocia Region of Turkey

Nev?ehir. “…the city was in use from the Byzantine era through the Ottoman conquest.”

Geophysicists from Nev?ehir University conducted a systematic survey of a 1.5-mile (4-kilometer) area using geophysical resistivity and seismic tomography. From the 33 independent measurements they took, they estimate the site is nearly five million square feet (460,000 square meters).

These studies suggest the underground corridors may plunge as deep as 371 feet (113 meters). If that turns out to be accurate, the city could be larger than Derinkuyu by a third.

The locals seem very excited about their discovery and eager to explore and preserve it.

12,000 year old site Hasankeyf threatened by planned Ilisu Dam by Turkey

Hasankeyf might be as important as Göbekli Tepe, except it might be older and has been continuously inhabited. Turkey apparently has been wanting to build a reservoir here for decades (with an Austrian company as the constructor) and seems finally to be moving ahead. It’s a Kurdish area and it’s Turkey, so there’s almost certainly an element of ethnic persecution in play here. It seems that there are now 3,000 people now at work prepping. Not all elements of the Turkish government are hellbent on this idiotic scheme, as according to this original news story (in Spanish,) “The Turkish State Council ordered the suspension of works at the request of the Bar Association and Engineers, since there was no environmental impact assessment.”

The construction of this damn seems as wantonly destructive and callous as the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas or the attempted destruction of the manuscripts of Timbuktu, except in this case, because someone is making a financial profit, it’s not being as universally reviled. This site was one of the most important points in the creation of Western Civilization. Yeah, let’s just flood it.

((There is an English subtitles switch on the YouTube toolbar.))

8,500 year old wheat identified in Çatalhöyük

(Damn, i thought that this was old news.)

DNA analysis reveals that wheat was used in agriculture at the Çatalhöyük site 8,500 years ago. While i was trying to track down the source of the oldest known cultivation of emmer wheat, i ran across this excellent overview of myths of the Neolithic Revolution, on a blog that i’ve never run across before, Mathilda’s Anthropology Blog. It has the Neolithic Revolution at 15,000 years ago in southeastern Turkey, which automatically earns my loyalty. It’s a deeper, more professional blog, but has photos and maps. Woo hoo.

Göbleki Tepe revisited (and sphinxes)

There is a nice little overview of Göbleki Tepe over on the Guardian. It would be fruitful to raise its profile in the consciousness of the public. Stonehenge is a wondrous site, but in pop culture, it and the Egyptian Pyramids dominate the landscape of great antiquity, leading to the false assumption that there are mysteries about early man that are no quite the mysteries that they seem. Civilization and culture have been around a long time, and there were a lot of false dawns through the ages.

There is piece in there that i need to follow up on:

Vecihi Ozkaya, the director of a dig at Kortiktepe, 120 miles east of Urfa, doubts the thousands of stone pots he has found since 2001 in hundreds of 11,500-year-old graves quite qualify as that. But his excitement fills his austere office at Dicle University in Diyarbakir.

“Look at this”, he said, pointing at a photo of an exquisitely carved sculpture showing an animal, half-human, half-lion. “It’s a sphinx, thousands of years before Egypt. South-eastern Turkey, northern Syria – this region saw the wedding night of our civilisation.”

I wish that i knew exactly how old the sculpture that he is describing is. (11,500 years? Or is that just the oldest grave of the site?) Looking up sphinx on Wikipedia was no help, as they date the image of the sphinx to the fourth dynasty of Egypt (2723 BC to 2563 BC.) That just seems wrong. However, my old Dungeons & Dragons background points to shedu and lama. Somewhere out there, someone has to have created a convenient timeline of the human-animal hybrid imagery used in art in that area. Now i gotta track it down.