Buried Roman City Mapped in Stunning Detail Using Ground-Penetrating Radar

For some years now, archaeologists have been employing a technology called ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to discover what lies beneath their feet without the risk of damaging ancient artifacts and structures with shovels and trowels.

Over the years the technology of GPR has advanced, and it was recently used to produce a map of an entire Roman city buried underground without overturning a single grain of soil.

The GPR produced images of the roman city of Falerii Novi in stunning detail, revealing the existence of a market, roads, a temple, monuments, and a bath complex with a network of underground pipes suggesting a sophisticated plumbing system.

The team, from the University of Cambridge and Ghent University, were able to map the city in layers, and deduce how it changed over time; something that could only be done previously with risky, costly, and laborious excavation processes.

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“The astonishing level of detail which we have achieved at Falerii Novi, and the surprising features that GPR has revealed, suggest that this type of survey could transform the way archaeologists investigate urban sites, as total entities,” said Professor and author of the discovery’s corresponding paper, Martin Millett from the University of Cambridge in a statement.

Furthermore, different kinds of radio waves can be thrust into the ground to create even more detailed images—including catching anomalies that not have been detected by other forms of radar. The forum tabernae (shop units) appear, for example, in an earlier magnetometer survey, but not in the GPR survey.

L. Verdonck, Cambridge

One small problem with the technology was encountered however: the sheer amount of data required for such detailed imagery necessitates around 4.5GB and 20 hours of manual computer work per-hectare surveyed, and the authors suggest that assistance from new computer processing programs may be needed in the future.

What was Falerii Novi like?

GPR works like regular radar, bouncing radio waves off objects and using the ‘echo’ to build up a picture at different depths. By towing their GPR instruments behind a quad bike, the archaeologists surveyed all 30.5 hectares (90 acres) within the city’s walls, taking a reading every 12.5cm.

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Falerii Novi was just under half the size of Pompeii and was located 50 km north of Rome. It was first occupied in 241 BC and survived into the medieval period until around AD 700. Although small, Falerii Novi is characterized by some truly remarkable details.

In a southern district, just within the city’s walls, GPR revealed a large rectangular building connected to a series of water pipes which lead to the city’s aqueduct. Remarkably, these pipes can be traced across much of Falerii Novi, running beneath city blocks and houses in a meticulously-organized system of plumbing, rather than only alongside them as has been documented in other places, such as Crete.

L. Verdonck, Cambridge

The team believes that the large-rectangular structure was a natatio, an open-air pool close to the bathhouses, forming part of a substantial public bathing complex—a sort of Roman waterpark.

Even more unexpectedly, near the city’s north gate, the team identified a pair of large structures facing each other within a porticus duplex (a covered passageway). They know of no direct parallel in existing Roman architectural sites but believe these were part of an impressive public monument.

Porta di Giove (Falerii Novi) – CC license

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“It is exciting and now realistic to imagine GPR being used to survey a major city such as Miletus in Turkey, Nicopolis in Greece or Cyrene in Libya”, Millett said. “We still have so much to learn about Roman urban life and this technology should open up unprecedented opportunities for decades to come.”

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South Korea Sends 10K Masks to Navajo Nation to Honor Their Service as ‘Code Talkers’ During Korean War

Navajo code talker Thomas Begay-2017-JASON JIMENEZ/U.S. MARINE CORPS

When the South Korean government realized that the Navajo Nation had been suffered infection rates of COVID-19 rivaling that of New York City, it shipped them 10,000 masks and other PPE to honor their service seven decades years ago to the East-Asian nation.

During the Korean War around 800 members of the Navajo Nation used their native language as an unbreakable code for radio messages, ensuring complete secrecy around any military movements by the United States, an ally to South Korea.

While this little-known story in the famous ‘police action’ that was the Korean War often goes untold, the South Koreans have never forgotten the Native American contributions.

According to the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs in South Korea, around 130 of these “Code Talkers” are still alive today.

“We hope our small gifts will console the veterans in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis,” said committee co-chairman Kim Eun-gi.

“The government remembers those who made a noble sacrifice to defend a strange country 70 years ago, and we hope they will proudly tell their posterity about the choice they made so many years ago.”

South Korea, which has so far handled the COVID-19 pandemic quite well by essentially testing anyone and everyone, has sent masks all over the world—including one half million to the Department of Veterans Affairs in honor of American soldiers who fought and died on the Korean peninsula, and those who serve their country today.

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NASA’s Historic New International Agreements Set Stage for Peaceful and Cooperative Future of Space Exploration

NASA, along with a number of partnering space agencies from around the world, have announced a new set of international agreements that will help to govern a “safe, peaceful, and prosperous future” of space exploration.

The recently-released “Artemis Accords” are the latest development of the Artemis Program, through which the agency vows to send the first woman—and next man—to the moon by 2024.

NASA hopes that the Accords will better allow it to work with international partners to conduct a human mission to Mars as well.

“It’s a new dawn for space exploration!” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter last week. “Today, I’m honored to announce the Artemis Accords agreements—establishing a shared vision and set of principles for all international partners that join in humanity’s return to the Moon. We go, together.”

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The core values enshrined in the Accords expand upon the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. They include the principle that space exploration should be done for peaceful purposes, that the U.S. and its partner nations must be transparent in their practices, and they should strive to build interoperable systems to information that can be exchanged and shared between nations.

The program also aims to protect historic sites and artifacts beyond the bounds of our planet, in much the same way that heritage sites on earth are protected by law. These include the artifacts left behind during the moon landings of the Apollo program of 1969-1972.

“International space agencies that join NASA in the Artemis program will do so by executing bilateral Artemis Accords agreements, which will describe a shared vision for principles, grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, to create a safe and transparent environment, which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy,” NASA said in a statement.

International partners that have signed on to the Accords include the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, according to CNN.

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The Accords mark one of the most significant accomplishments thus far of the largest Artemis program, announced in 2019. The program involves the Orion spacecraft, Gateway and Space Launch Rocket System (SLS). The SLS rocket will be used to send Orion, with astronauts and large cargo on board, to the moon.

Unlike previous spacecraft which only supported short-term missions, the Orion will dock at the Gateway, described by CNN as “a spaceship that will go into orbit around the moon and be used as a lunar outpost. About 250,000 miles from Earth, the Gateway will allow easier access to the entire surface of the moon and potentially deep space exploration.”

Photo by NASA

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Impelled by Reactor Meltdown, Fukushima Japan Vows to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy Use in 20 Years

Nine years ago, an earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan caused one of the most significant nuclear disasters in human history in the area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where the resulting reactor meltdown led to the evacuation of 150,000 individuals.

Now, the local government has vowed to restructure the grid of the north western prefecture to use entirely renewable energy sources by 2040. Fukushima is the third largest administrative district in the country, and uniquely includes a variety of energy resources like prime spots for solar and wind farms, and also opportunities for geothermal power as well.

Working to achieve these ambitious goals, Fukushima Prefecture signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of renewables with the Ministry of Environment for the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, the largest energy-producing state in Germany—and Europe as well—in August of 2017.

North-Rhine Westphalia has doubled their renewable energy infrastructure over the last 15 years—growing it to deliver 9% of total energy production.

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Since 2012, however, Fukushima has tripled its renewable energy production, with solar, wind, water, thermal, and biofuel resources totaling 1,500 megawatts of electricity, delivering a contribution of nearly 18% of Japan’s total yearly energy consumption.

Additionally, 300 billion yen ($2.75 billion) for the project has already been fronted by sponsors such as the state-owned Japan Development Bank and Mizuho Bank. The funding will be used to construct 11 solar farms and 10 wind farms over the next 4 years. The new projects also include biomass plants, geothermal stations, even fleets of sea-going windmills.

The proposed new grid, spanning 80 kilometers, would reach the Tokyo metropolitan area and contribute 600 megawatts of electricity, replacing much of the power which, up until recently, the city had received from the pair of Fukushima atomic energy plants.

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Beyond moving away from its robust infrastructure and dependence on atomic energy, Japan is also the third largest importer of coal and natural gas, and a massive change in energy independence would help Japan reach its ambitious goals set forth in the recent UN climate change panel in Madrid last month.

The country’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, irrespective of the Fukushima Prefecture’s own energy objectives, is targeting 24% total energy from renewables nationally by 2030.

Power Up With Positivity By Sharing The Good News With Your Friends On Social Media — File photo by Tokyo Electric Power Co., TEPCO, CC