49 research outputs found

    Indurated soil nodules: a vestige of ancient agricultural practices?

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    The identification of controlled fires in ancient agricultural systems is important for understanding how past societies managed the landscape. Although the use of fire in agriculture is documented in recent historical records, and combustion markers can persist in soils over a long time scale, this is a complex issue because combustion traits in general are ubiquitous. Archaeopedological surveys undertaken in an ancient forest in Burgundy (France) have led to the recovery of several red indurated nodules scattered in the soils. Gallo-Roman housing structures and parcels were recognized using light detection and ranging mapping, stimulating questions about the understanding of the nature of these nodules. Elemental and structural analyses by X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction (XRD) confirmed the local origin of these features by comparing their composition with on-site sediments, and thermoluminescence dating placed the samples in the Medieval period. The results cast light on the nature of the nodules and how they can be related to controlled fires used in agricultural practices. Even though questions remain about which processes lead to the formation of the nodules, the firing temperature estimated via XRD analysis seems to be in agreement with that used in the “paring-and-burning” technique. The present study provides new information about medieval agriculture practices from the 10th to the 12th centuries CE and shows how past societies managed the opening and maintenance of agricultural fields using natural resources and “archaeological” remains from the antique period

    Convento di San Francesco a Folloni: the function of a Medieval Franciscan Friary seen through the burials

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    Background: The Franciscan Friary in Montella near Avellino in Southern Italy is of special interest because according to historical sources it was founded by St. Francis himself in AD 1221-1222. Human remains of several hundred individuals interred in the cloister walk have been unearthed during two excavation campaigns conducted in 2007-2008 and 2010. The environs of the friary have remained rural since the foundation preventing much modern contamination. The state of preservation of the skeletons is fair to good making a suite of analyses worthwhile. Results: The skeletons have been examined anthropologically and tissue samples have been subjected to radiocarbon dating, stable isotope measurements and trace element analyses by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry and Cold Vapour Atomic Absorption Spectrometry. Conclusions: The radiocarbon dates are consistent with the historical sources and show that the cemetery in the cloister walk has been in uninterrupted use from the foundation of the friary in AD 1221-1222 and until the cemetery went out of use in AD 1524. The anthropological investigations show that the individuals interred at the friary would have been shorter than other Italians from the same time, and it seems that tuberculosis was more prevalent than leprosy. Isotopic measurements show a mixed agricultural and pastoral diet and none of the individuals were consuming marine protein. Based on the trace element analysis it seems that the people resided mainly at two distinct geographical areas, one of which was Montella. One individual stands out from the rest, because he was born and raised at some third geographical location distinct from Montella and because he sports the second oldest radiocarbon date of AD 1050-1249 (two sigma calibrated range). This date is consistent with the first generation of the founders of the friary-perhaps one of St. Francis' fellow travellers from Assisi

    The effects of possible contamination on the radiocarbon dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls I:Castor oil

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    Some fragments of the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts were contaminated with castor oil in the late 1950s. We have conducted experiments in order to establish if the AAA pretreatment cleaning procedures conducted on Dead Sea Scroll manuscript samples in the last two dating series (Bonani et al. 1992; Jull et al. 1995) were effective in removing oil contamination. Our experiments show that not all oil contamination can be expected to have been removed by the acid-alkaline-acid (AAA) pretreatment, and that the radiocarbon ages previously reported therefore cannot be guaranteed to be correct. Any samples contaminated with castor oil were most likely reported with ages that are too young by an unknown amount

    The range of attraction for light traps catching Culicoides biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae)

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    BACKGROUND: Culicoides are vectors of e.g. bluetongue virus and Schmallenberg virus in northern Europe. Light trapping is an important tool for detecting the presence and quantifying the abundance of vectors in the field. Until now, few studies have investigated the range of attraction of light traps. METHODS: Here we test a previously described mathematical model (Model I) and two novel models for the attraction of vectors to light traps (Model II and III). In Model I, Culicoides fly to the nearest trap from within a fixed range of attraction. In Model II Culicoides fly towards areas with greater light intensity, and in Model III Culicoides evaluate light sources in the field of view and fly towards the strongest. Model II and III incorporated the directionally dependent light field created around light traps with fluorescent light tubes. All three models were fitted to light trap collections obtained from two novel experimental setups in the field where traps were placed in different configurations. RESULTS: Results showed that overlapping ranges of attraction of neighboring traps extended the shared range of attraction. Model I did not fit data from any of the experimental setups. Model II could only fit data from one of the setups, while Model III fitted data from both experimental setups. CONCLUSIONS: The model with the best fit, Model III, indicates that Culicoides continuously evaluate the light source direction and intensity. The maximum range of attraction of a single 4W CDC light trap was estimated to be approximately 15.25 meters. The attraction towards light traps is different from the attraction to host animals and thus light trap catches may not represent the vector species and numbers attracted to hosts