A rare, 2,700-year-old papyrus with Hebrew script that had been looted from a cave in the Judean Desert has been seized in an elaborate operation by the Israel Antiquities Authority, archaeologists announced today (Oct. 26).However, a professor at George Washington University has provided information to Live Science indicating that the papyrus may be a sophisticated modern-day forgery. The papyrus' Hebrew text translates as: "from the king's maidservant, from Na'arat, jars of wine, to Jerusalem," the capital city of the Kingdom of Judah, according to a statement from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).The document indicates "payment of taxes or transfer of goods to storehouses in Jerusalem, the capital city of the kingdom at this time," the IAA statement read."This is the most ancient mentioning of Jerusalem outside of the Bible in Hebrew script," said Eitan Klein, who holds a doctorate in archaeology and is the deputy director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities … [Read more...] about Ancient Hebrew Papyrus Seized from Looters, But Is It Authentic?
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Forget leap years, months with 28 days and your birthday falling on a different day of the week each year. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland say they have a better way to mark time: a new calendar in which every year is identical to the one before.Their proposed calendar overhaul — largely unprecedented in the 430 years since Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian calendar we still use today — would divvy out months and weeks so that every calendar date would always fall on the same day of the week. Christmas, for example, would forever come on a Sunday."The calendar I'm advocating isn't nearly as accurate" as the Gregorian calendar, said Richard Henry, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins who has been pushing for calendar reform for years. "But it's far more convenient."New versus oldThe trouble with designing a nice, regular calendar is that each Earth year is 365.2422 days long, leaving extra snippets of time that don't fit nicely into a cycle of … [Read more...] about Is It Time to Overhaul the Calendar?
Imagine that every copy of William Shakespeare's First Folio had been destroyed some 350 years ago. We might have heard tell of how great "Macbeth" once was on stage, but we couldn't perform it ourselves. Without the First Folio, we'd be deprived of at least half of Shakespeare's plays. No "Julius Caesar." No "Tempest." No "Twelfth Night."Scholars of ancient literature find themselves in such a predicament with the Greek lyric poet Sappho, born in the late seventh century B.C. Her fame lives, but few of her poems survive.Last year, however, classicists welcomed exciting news: Dirk Obbink, a leading papyrologist at the University of Oxford, announced that he had recovered substantial sections of two never-before seen poems by Sappho: one about her brothers, the second about unrequited love. [Image Gallery: Amazing Egyptian Discoveries]Widely admired and studied in antiquity, Sappho was known as "the Tenth Muse," and her poetry was collected into nine books at the Library of Alexandria. … [Read more...] about Sappho’s New Poems: The Tangled Tale of Their Discovery
If you believe the near-daily news stories, sexual predators lurk everywhere: in parks, at schools, in the malls—even in teens' computers. A few rare (but high-profile) incidents have spawned an unprecedented slate of new laws enacted in response to the public's fear.Every state has notification laws to alert communities about released sex offenders. Many states have banned sex offenders from living in certain areas, and are tracking them using satellite technology. Officials in Florida and Texas plan to bar convicted sex offenders from public shelters during hurricanes.Most people believe that sex offenders pose a serious and growing threat. According to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, "the danger to teens is high." On the April 18, 2005, "CBS Evening News" broadcast, correspondent Jim Acosta reported that "when a child is missing, chance are good it was a convicted sex offender." (Acosta is incorrect: If a child goes missing, a convicted sex offender is actually among the … [Read more...] about Predator Panic: Reality Check on Sex Offenders
Before the dinosaur age, the coelacanth — a hefty, mysterious fish that now breathes with its gills — sported a well-developed lung, a new study finds.This lung likely helped the fish survive in low-oxygen, shallow waters hundreds of millions of years ago, the researchers said. During the Mesozoic era, more commonly known as the dinosaur age, it's likely that some species of coelacanth (see-leh-kanth) moved to deeper waters, stopped using their lungs and began relying exclusively on their gills to breathe, the researchers said.This adaptation to deep water likely helped coelacanths survive the asteroid that slammed into ancient Earth and killed the nonavian dinosaurs, the researchers said. The fish's gill- and lung-breathing relatives were not as lucky; during the Late Cretaceous period, about 66 million years ago, coelacanths living in shallow waters disappear from the fossil record, they said. [See Images of Modern and Fossil Coelacanths]The hulking 6.5-foot-long (2 … [Read more...] about Ancient Human-Size Fish Breathed with Lungs