Archive for December, 2014

The future of racing looks so much more fun and badass

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on December 30, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4073                                                                                                                                                                                               Jesus Diaz       

The future of racing looks so much more fun and badass                     The future of racing looks so much more fun and badass

This video on the future of racing—based on concept tires designed by Hankook Tire and the University of Pforzheim, Germany—is pretty goddamn fun. I don’t know if we will ever get to this point (seeing the evolution of racing since the time of Roman Empire, I wouldn’t be surprised) but it’s great to watch.

They came up with three types of tires which seems to be influenced by climate change:Boostrac, Alpike and HyBlade for desertification, heavy snow and heavy rain.

The future of racing looks so much more fun and badass

Boostrac boasts hexagonal tread blocks that can transform into an expanded mode for intensified traction – especially on steep and rough conditions such as desert and mountain roads.

Alpike, along with the studs and gaps, is designed with a tyre circumferential expansion mode, which increases vehicle ground clearance, making it optimal for heavy snow.

HyBlade is designed to provide the ideal solution for heavy rain. It’s equipped with ‘waterwheel’ tread and side spokes that create driving and steering force in heavy rain.

SPLOID is delicious brain candy. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.



Can You Guess The Drunkest Day Of 2014?

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on December 30, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4072                                                                                                                                                                                             Robbie Gonzalez

Can You Guess The Drunkest Day Of 2014?                                                    Can You Guess The Drunkest Day Of 2014?

Hint: It wasn’t Superbowl Sunday.

Recently, the company behind BACtrack portable breathalyzers released a report based on anonymized data collected from its users. The analysis offers some fascinating insights into patterns of alcohol consumption in the U.S. – including the days of the year when Americans were most drunk.

According to the report, Americans consume the most alcohol during the winter months. The average recorded BAC was above 0.06% on nearly 75% of days between December 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. By comparison, average BAC exceeded 0.06% on only half of the remaining days.

Contributing to winter’s overall crapulence are several days of peak drunkenness. According to the report, “14 of the 15 biggest drinking days of the year, all of which have an average BAC of 0.08% or higher, fall between December and March.” The following visualization gives you a big-picture view of drinking patterns between November 3, 2013 and December 6, 2014. Can you find the drunkest day of all? (Hint: It’s not labeled.) Keep scrolling for the answer.

Can You Guess The Drunkest Day Of 2014?

Notable dates include the day after Valentine’s day (0.092%); Super Bowl Weekend (February 1st and 2nd, with BACs of 0.090% and 0.091%, respectively); and, the only non-winter day, May 3rd – the Saturday before Cinco de Mayo (0.090%). But the Drunkest Day of 2014? That title goes to Sunday, March 15th (the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day), which had an average BAC reading of 0.094%. Here’s the full list of drunkest dates, in chronological order:

December 6, 2013: 0.087%

December 7, 2013: 0.088%

December 31, 2013 (NYE): 0.094%

January 18th, 2014: 0.090%

January 19th, 2014: 0.088%

January 25th, 2014: 0.093%

February 1st, 2014: (Superbowl Weekend): 0.090%

February 2nd, 2014: (Superbowl Weekend): 0.091%

February 15th, 2014: (Day After V-Day): 0.092%

March 7th, 2014: 0.088%

March 8th, 2014: 0.088%

March 14th (St. Patrick’s Day Weekend): 0.087%

March 15th, 2014 (St. Patrick’s Day Weekend): 0.094%

May 3rd, 2014 (Weekend Before Cinco de Mayo): 0.090%

That said, 2014 isn’t over. You may have noticed that New Year’s Eve 2013 also registered an average BAC reading of 0.094%. If history repeats itself, March 15th, 2014 will find itself in a two-way tie with December 31, 2014 for drunkest day of the year.

[ BACtrack Consumption Report via WaPo]

Top Photo via Shutterstock

Déjà Vu All Over Again: This Man Relived Every New Moment

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on December 30, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4071

Déjà Vu All Over Again: This Man Relived Every New Moment

Archaeologists Find Royal Entryway To King Herod’s Hilltop Palace

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on December 30, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4070                                                                                                                                                                                                 Mark Strauss                                                                                                                                                                               

Archaeologists Find Royal Entryway To King Herod’s Hilltop PalaceArchaeologists Find Royal Entryway To King Herod's Hilltop Palace

King Herod’s most ambitious project was Herodium, a fortified palace on top of a hill in the Judean desert. Honeycombed with passages and chambers, it also became his mausoleum. Now, archaeologists have found a resplendent, 65-foot corridor to provide the royal entourage direct entry into the palace courtyard.

According to a statement issued by Hebrew University archaeologists Roi Porat, Yakov Kalman and Rachel Chachy, “The corridor was built as part of Herod’s plan to turn Herodium into a massive artificial volcano-shaped hill, a vast and impressive monument designed to commemorate the architect-King.”

Archaeologists Find Royal Entryway To King Herod's Hilltop Palace

Between 23 BC and 15 BC, Herod transformed the cone-shaped mound into the largest palace complex in the Roman world. Located 7.5 miles south of Jerusalem—a four-hour trip by horseback—and possessing no strategic value, it seems an odd place for the king to build such an elaborate structure. But, Herod was bound by an oath that he had made years earlier. As anarticle in Smithsonian magazine explains:

[Herod] was the governor of Galilee when, in 40 B.C., the Parthian Empire conquered Judea (then under Roman control) and named a new king, Mattathias Antigonus. Herod, probably more shrewd than loyal, declared allegiance to Rome and fled Jerusalem with as many as 5,000 people—his family and a contingent of fighting men—under cover of night.

Surging over rocky terrain, the wagon in which Herod’s mother was riding overturned. Herod drew his sword and was on the verge of suicide when he saw she had survived. He returned to the battle and fought “not like one that was in distress…but like one that was excellently prepared for war,” the first century Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus wrote. In tribute to his victory and his mother’s survival, he vowed to be buried there.                                                                                                                                                                                           Credit :

“Herodium was built to solve the problem he himself created by making a commitment to be buried in the desert,” said archaeologist Ehud Netzer, [who passed away one year after this interview.] “The solution was to build a large palace, a country club—a place of enjoyment and pleasure.” The summit palace could be seen by Herod’s subjects in Jerusalem, while the tallest of the four towers offered the king pleasant breezes and a gripping view of his domain.

Herod sought to make his palace impregnable by raising the hill to enclose and shield it. Workers lopped off the top of a neighboring hill and carted it up to Herodium’s peak, pouring it all around and giving it its distinctive shape.

According to the archaeologists who discovered Heordium’s royal entryway, it is “an impressive corridor with a complex system of arches spanning its width on three separate levels.” The entrance led to a vestibule covered with elaborate, painted frescoes, while the arches buttressed the corridor’s massive sidewalls, permitting King Herod and his entourage direct passage into the palace’s courtyard. The 65-foot-long and 20-foot wide corridor has been preserved to a height of 65 feet by the entryway’s supporting arches. Also, the archaeologists note:

“Surprisingly, during the course of the excavations, it became evident that the arched corridor was never actually in use, as prior to its completion it became redundant.

This appears to have happened when Herod, aware of his impending death, decided to convert the whole hilltop complex into a massive memorial mound —a royal burial monument on an epic scale. Whatever the case, the corridor was back-filled during the construction of the massive artificial hill at the end of Herod’s reign.”              After a 35-year search, archaeologists finally found Herod’s resting place in April 2007. In a chamber they discovered an elaborate sarcophagus that had been deliberately smashed apart. Based on coins and other artifacts nearby, the archaeologists surmised that the desecration of the hated monarch’s tomb occurred sometime during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, from 66 AD to 73 AD.                                                   Credit :

Indeed, the Hebrew University archaeologists found coins and crude temporary structures in the newly discovered entryway, suggesting it also had been occupied by rebels during the revolt. Further excavations in the arched corridor also turned up compelling evidence from the Bar-Kochba Revolt period (132 AD to 135 AD), including hidden tunnels dug on the site by the rebels as part of the guerrilla warfare they waged against the Romans.

“Supported in part by wooden beams, these tunnels exited from the hilltop fortress by way of the corridor’s walls, through openings hidden in the corridor,” the archaeologists say. “One of the tunnels revealed the well-preserved construction of 20 or so cypress-wood branches, arranged in a cross-weave pattern to support the tunnel’s roof.”

When the excavation is completed, visitors to Herodium will be able to enter the palace by way of the corridor that Herod had planned for himself, 2,000 years ago.                                                                                                                                   Credit :       

marble and plaster basin excavated from Herodium,


Bar Kokhba revolt

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on December 30, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4069

Bar Kokhba revolt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bar Kokhba revolt
Part of Jewish–Roman wars
PikiWiki Israel 19975 Archeological sites of Israel.jpg
An entrance into an excavated cave used by Bar Kokhba’s rebels
Date 132 – 136 (traditionally Tisha B’Av of 135);
Location Judea Province
Result Decisive Roman Empire victory:

  • Roman troops annihilate Judean population
  • Suppression of Jewish religious and political authority by Hadrian
  • Judea renamed Syria Palaestina
Judea renamed and merged into theSyria Palaestinaprovince.
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Roman Empire Judea under Bar Kokhba
Commanders and leaders
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Hadrian
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Tineius Rufus
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Sextus Julius Severus
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Publicius Marcellus
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg T. Haterius Nepos
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Q. Lollius Urbicus
Simon bar Kokhba
Eleazar of Modi’in
Akiva ben Joseph
Yeshua ben Galgula
Yonatan ben Baiin
Masbelah ben Shimon
Elazar ben Khita
Yehuda bar Menashe
Shimon ben Matanya
Legio X Fretensis
Legio VI Ferrata
Legio III Gallica
Legio III Cyrenaica
Legio XXII Deiotariana
Legio X Gemina
Total forces from 12 legions:
200,000-400,000b Jewish militiamen
Casualties and losses
Massive casualties:
Legio XXII Deiotarianadestroyeda
Legio IX Hispana possibly destroyed
200,000-400,000 killed
Total: 580,000 Jews killed, 50 fortified towns and 985 villages razed;a
Massive Roman military casualtiesa
[a] – per Cassius Dio
[b] – according to Rabbinic sources

This is a picture of a battle inthe Bar Kokhba revolt

The Bar Kokhba revolt (Hebrew: מרד בר כוכבא‎ or mered Bar Kokhba), was a rebellion of the Jews of Judea Province, led by Simon bar Kokhba, against the Roman Empire. Fought circa 132–136 CE,it was the last of three major Jewish–Roman wars, so it is also known as The Third Jewish–Roman War or The Third Jewish Revolt.

The revolt erupted as a result of religious and political tensions in Judea province. Simon bar Kokhba, the commander, was regarded by many Jews as the Messiah, a heroic figure who would restore Israel. Initial rebel victories established an independent state of Israel over parts of Judea for over two years, but a Roman army made up of six full legions withauxiliaries and elements from up to six additional legions finally crushed it.

The Bar Kokhba revolt resulted in an extensive depopulation of Jude

After the failed First Jewish–Roman War in 70 CE, the Roman authorities took measures to suppress the rebellious province of Judea. Instead of aprocurator, they installed a praetor as a governor and stationed an entirelegion, the X Fretensis, in the area. Tensions continued to build up in the wake of the Kitos War, the second large-scale Jewish insurrection in the Eastern Mediterranean, the final stages of which saw fighting in Judea.

Historians have suggested multiple reasons for the sparking of the Bar Kokhba revolt, long-term and proximate. The revolt is shrouded in mystery, and only one brief historical account of the rebellion survives. Several elements are believed to have contributed to the rebellion; changes in administrative law, the diffuse presence of Romans, alterations in agricultural practice with a shift from landowning to sharecropping, the impact of a possible period of economic decline, and an upsurge of nationalism, the latter influenced by similar revolts among the Jewish communities in Egypt, Cyrenaica, Libya and Mesopotamia during the reign of Trajan. The proximate reasons seem to centre around the proscription of circumcision, the construction of a new city, Aelia Capitolina, over the ruins of Jerusalem, and the erection of a temple to Jupiter on the Temple mount. One interpretation involves the visit in 130 CE of the Roman Emperor Hadrian to the ruins of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. At first sympathetic towards the Jews, Hadrian promised to rebuild the Temple, but the Jews felt betrayed when they found out that he intended to build a temple dedicated to Jupiter upon the ruins of theSecond Temple. A rabbinic version of this story claims that Hadrian planned on rebuilding the Temple, but that a malevolent Samaritan convinced him not to. The reference to a malevolent Samaritan is, however, a familiar device of Jewish literature.

The first coin issued at the mint of Aelia Capitolina about 130/132 CE. Reverse: COL AEL KAPIT COND.

An additional legion, the VI Ferrata, arrived in the province to maintain order. Works on Aelia Capitolina, as Jerusalem was to be called, commenced in 131 CE. The governor of Judea, Tineius Rufus, performed the foundation ceremony, which involved ploughing over the designated city limits. “Ploughing up the Temple”,seen as a religious offence, turned many Jews against the Roman authorities. The Romans issued a coin inscribed Aelia Capitolina.

A disputed tradition, based on the single source of the Historia Augusta, suggests that tensions grew higher when Hadrian abolished circumcision(brit milah), which he, a Hellenist, viewed asmutilation. However others maintain that there is no evidence for this claim.

Timeline of events

Eruption of the revolt

Bar Kokhba’s tetradrachm. Obverse: the Jewish Temple facade with the rising star. Reverse: A lulav, the text reads: “to the freedom of Jerusalem”

The Jewish leaders carefully planned the second revolt to avoid the numerous mistakes that had plagued the first Great Jewish Revolt sixty years earlier. In 132, a revolt led by Bar Kokhba quickly spread fromModi’in across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.

Eusebius of Caesarea wrote that Christians were killed and suffered “all kinds of persecutions” at the hands of Jews when they refused to help Bar Kokhba against the Roman troops.

The Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva (alternatively Akiba) indulged the possibility that Simon Bar Kosiba (Bar Kokhba) could be theJewish messiah, and gave him the surname “Bar Kokhba” meaning “Son of a Star” in the Aramaic language, from the Star Prophecy verse from Numbers 24:17: “There shall come a star out of Jacob“. The name Bar Kokhba does not appear in theTalmud but in ecclesiastical sources.

Simon Bar Kokhba took the title Nasi Israel and ruled over a ministate that was virtually independent for two and a half years. The era of theredemption of Israel was announced, contracts were signed and a large quantity of Bar Kochba Revolt coinage was struck over foreign coins.                                                                                                                                     

CoinNo.16 ashekel of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 CE)

Roman reaction

The outbreak and initial success of the rebellion took the Romans by surprise. Hadrian called his general Sextus Julius Severus from Britain, and troops were brought from as far as the Danube. The size of the Roman army amassed against the rebels was much larger than that commanded by Titus sixty years earlier.

The rebels incorporated combined tactics to fight the Roman Army. According to some historians Bar Kokhba’s army utilized guerilla warfare, engaging Romans in surprise locations and inflicting heavy casualties with sneak attacks. Others, however claim that Bar Kokhba actually preferred direct engagement due to his superiority in numbers, and only after several painful defeats in the fields, the Romans decided to evade direct fighting and instead employ the tactic of siege on Jewish centers, taking them one by one. With the slow advance of the Roman Army and cut supplies, the rebels engaged in long-term defense tactics. The defense system of Judean towns and villages was based mainly on hideout caves, which were created in large numbers almost in every population center. Many houses utilized underground hideouts, where Judean rebels hoped to withstand Roman superiority by narrowness of the passages and even surprise attacks from underground. The cave systems were often interconnected into large systems, used not only as hideouts for the rebels, but also for storage and refuge their families.

Remains of Hurvat Itri village, destroyed during the Bar Kokhba revolt

The struggle lasted for three years before the revolt was brutally crushed in the summer of 135 CE, on August 4, 135 CE. Roman losses however were very heavy – XXII Deiotariana was disbanded after serious losses.In addition, some historians argue that Legio IX Hispana disbandment in the mid-2nd century could also have been a result of this war.Cassius Dio wrote that “…Hadrian, in writing to the Senate, did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors: ‘If you and your children are in health, it is well; I and the army are in health.’”

A cluster of papyrus containing Bar Kokhba’s orders found in the Judean desert by modern Israeli archeologist Yigael Yadin.

After losing many of their strongholds, Bar Kokhba and the remnants of his army withdrew to the fortress of Betar, which also subsequently came under siege. The Fifth Macedonian Legion and the Eleventh Claudian Legion are said to have taken part in the siege of Betar.

The Jerusalem Talmud relates that the number of dead in Betar was enormous, that the Romans “went on killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils.”According to a Rabbinic midrash, in addition to Bar Kokhba himself, the Romans executed eight leading members of the Sanhedrin (The list of Ten Martyrs include two earlier Rabbis): R. Akiba; R.Hanania ben Teradion; the interpreter of the Sanhedrin, R. Huspith; R. Eliezer ben Shamua; R. Hanina ben Hakinai; R.Jeshbab the Scribe; R. Yehuda ben Dama; and R. Yehuda ben Baba. The Rabbinic account describes agonizing tortures: R. Akiba was flayed, R. Ishmael had the skin of his head pulled off slowly, and R. Hanania was burned at a stake, with wet wool held by a Torah scroll wrapped around his body to prolong his death.According to Cassius Dio, who might have exaggerated, 580,000 Jews were killed in the overall operations, and 50 fortified towns and 985 villages were razed to the ground, with many more Jews dying of famine and disease. Cassius Dio also claimed that “Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war. Therefore, Hadrian, in writing to the Senate, did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors: ‘If you and your children are in health, it is well; I and the army are in health.’”                                


Immediate consequences

Expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem during the reign of Hadrian. A miniature from the 15th-century manuscript “Histoire des Empereurs”.

Hadrian’s proclamations sought to root out the nationalistic features within Judea’s Jewish communities, which he saw as the cause of continuous rebellions. He prohibited the Torah law and the Hebrew calendar, and executed Judaic scholars. The sacred scroll was ceremonially burned on theTemple Mount. At the former Temple sanctuary, he installed two statues, one ofJupiter, another of himself. In an attempt to erase any memory ofJudea or Ancient Israel, he wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina. By destroying the association of Jews to Judea and forbidding the practice of Jewish faith, Hadrian aimed to root out a nation that inflicted heavy casualties on the Roman Empire. Similarly, he re-established Jerusalem, but now as the Roman pagan polis of Aelia Capitolina, and Jews were forbidden from entering it, except on the day ofTisha B’Av.

The Jews became a minority in Judea, remaining strong only in the Galilee,Bet Shean and the Golan. Hadrian’s death in 138 CE marked a significant relief to the surviving Jewish communities of Judea. Rabbinic Judaism had already become a portable religion, centered around synagogues. In the aftermath of the defeat of Bar Kochba, the consolidation of Jewish settlement in Palestine became of major concern to the rabbinate. The Sages endeavoured to halt Jewish migration into diaspora, and even banned emigration from Palestine, branding those who settled outside its borders as idolaters.Later relations between the Jews and the Roman Empire.                                                                                                                          

Bar Kokhba Coin, 132135 CE  cojs.orgModern historians view the Bar-Kokhba Revolt as being of decisive historic importance.The massive destruction and loss of life occasioned by the revolt has led some scholars such as Bernard Lewis to date the beginning of the Jewish diasporafrom this date. They note that, unlike the aftermath of the First Jewish–Roman War chronicled by Josephus, the majority of the Jewish population of Judea was either killed, exiled, or sold into slavery after the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, and Jewish religious and political authority was suppressed far more brutally. After the revolt, the Jewish religious center shifted to theBabylonian Jewish community and its scholars. Judea would not be a center of Jewish religious, cultural, or political life again until the modern era, although Jews continued to live there and important religious developments still occurred there. In Galilee, the Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in the 2nd–4th centuries.

Constantine I allowed Jews to mourn their defeat and humiliation once a year on Tisha B’Av at the Western Wall.

In 351–352 CE, the Jews of Galilee launched yet another revolt, provoking heavy retribution once again.

In 438 CE, when the Empress Eudocia removed the ban on Jews’ praying at the Temple site, the heads of the Community in Galilee issued a call “to the great and mighty people of the Jews” which began: “Know that the end of the exile of our people has come!”

During the 5th and the 6th centuries, a series of Samaritan insurrectionsbroke out across the Palaestina Prima province. Especially violent were the third and the fourth revolts, which resulted in almost entire annihilation of the Samaritan community. It is likely that the Samaritan Revolt of 556was joined by the Jewish community, which had also suffered a brutal suppression of Israelite religion.

In the belief of restoration to come, the Jews made an alliance with thePersians, who invaded Palaestina Prima in 614, fought at their side, overwhelmed the Byzantine garrison in Jerusalem, and for five years, governed the region as Jewish-Sassanian commonwealth.However, their autonomy was brief: with the withdrawal of Persian forces, Jews surrendered to Byzantine forces in 625 CE, and were consequently massacred by them in 629 CE. The Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) control of the region was finally lost to the Muslim Arab armies in 637 CE, when Umar ibn al-Khattabcompleted the conquest of Akko.                                                                                                                                                                                          

roman suppression of the bar kokhba rebellion 132 135 ce


In the post-rabbinical era, the Bar Kokhba Revolt became a symbol of valiant national resistance. The Zionist youth movement Betar took its name from Bar Kokhba’s traditional last stronghold, and David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, took his Hebrew last name from one of Bar Kokhba’s generals.

The disastrous end of the revolt also occasioned major changes in Jewish religious thought. Jewish messianism was abstracted and spiritualized, and rabbinical political thought became deeply cautious and conservative. The Talmud, for instance, refers to Bar Kokhba as “Ben-Kusiba,” a derogatory term used to indicate that he was a false Messiah. The deeply ambivalent rabbinical position regarding Messianism, as expressed most famously inMaimonides “Epistle to Yemen,” would seem to have its origins in the attempt to deal with the trauma of a failed Messianic uprising.

A popular children’s song, included in the curriculum of Israeli kindergartens, has the refrain “Bar Kokhba was a Hero/He fought for Liberty,” and its words describe Bar Kokhba as being captured and thrown into a lion’s den, but managing to escape riding on the lion’s back



The best recognized source is Cassius Dio, Roman History (book 69). TheJerusalem Talmud contains descriptions of the results of the rebellion, including the Roman executions of Judean leaders. The discovery of theCave of Letters in the Dead Sea area, dubbed as “Bar Kokhba archive”, which contained letters actually written by Bar Kokhba and his followers, has added much new primary source data.


Cave of Letters

A scroll found in the cave, part of the Babatha archive

The Cave of Letters was surveyed in the 1960-61 explorations, when letters and fragments of papyri were found that dated back to the period of the Bar Kokhba revolt 132-135. Some of these were personal letters of correspondence between Bar-Kokhba and his subordinates, and one notable bundle of papyri known as the Babata or Babatha cache revealed the life and trials of a woman, Babata, who lived during this period of time.

Roman Imperial inscription in Jerusalem

In 2014, one half of a Latin inscription was discovered in Jerusalem during excavations near the Damascus Gate. It was identified as the right half of a complete inscription, the other part of which was discovered nearby in the late 19th century and is currently on display in the courtyard of Jerusalem’s Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum. The complete inscription was translated as following:

To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country (dedicated by) the 10th legion Fretensis Antoniniana

The inscription was dedicated by Legio X Fretensis to the emperor Hadrian in the year 129/130 CE. It is considered that the inscription is greatly strengthening the claim that indeed the Emperor visited Jerusalem that year, supporting the traditional claim that the result of Hadrian’s visit was among the main causes of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, and not the other way around.

Betar fortress

The Betar fortress was the last standing Jewish fortress in the Bar Kokhba revolt of the 2nd century CE, destroyed by theRoman army of Emperor Hadrian in the year 135. The ruins of Betar, the last fortress of Bar Kokhba, is located in the vicinity of the town of Battir and the town Beitar Illit. A stone inscription bearing Latin characters and discovered near Betar shows that the Fifth Macedonian Legion and theEleventh Claudian Legiontook part in the siege.

an Jewish communities, more so than theGreat Revolt of Judea of 70 CE. Despite easing persecution of Jews following Hadrian’s death in 138 CE, the Romans barred Jews from Jerusalem, except for attendance in Tisha B’Av. The Jewish community of Judea was devastated in events some scholars describe as a genocide.

Although Jewish Christians hailed Jesus as the Messiah and did not support Bar Kokhba, they were barred from Jerusalem along with the rest of the Jews. The war and its aftermath helped differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism (see also Split of early Christianity and Judaism)






Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on December 30, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post Post 4068                                                                                                                                                                                               Robbie Gonzalez, Levi Gadye, and Mika McKinnon

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Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014                                                      Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

The Oldest Artwork In The World Predates Modern Humans

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

In 2007, archaeologists examining fossilized seashells in a museum collection stumbled upon a detail other scientists had somehow missed:deliberate engravings of abstract patterns. These shells were dated to over 500,000 years ago, and were found amongst other shells that had been carefully crafted into specialized tools, at the same site where the first fossils of Homoerectus, our hominin ancestor, had been discovered, in 1890. Taken together, these discoveries suggest that Homo erectus was far more sophisticated than previously believed and capable of symbolic thought. This year, these scientists published the fruit of seven years of confirmation that these shells indeed represent the earliest examples of art and tools in the world. While scientists disagree somewhat on the original purpose of these artifacts, the discovery “raises the possibility that the development of human cognition — human culture — was a very long process. It was not a sudden development,” says Alison Brooks, a paleoanthropologist from George Washington University.

Evidence For The Big Bang Is Refuted By Interstellar dust

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

In March, Harvard’s servers were brought to their knees dealing with the international demand to watch a press conference about … gravitational waves. It’s no surprise; as physicist Marc Kamionkowski reflected, “It’s not everyday you wake up and learn something completely new about the early universe.” Scientists had finally observed a particular pattern in the cosmic microwave background radiation, known as B-mode gravitational waves, which cosmological theorists had predicted would peak during the first 10-34 seconds of the primordial universefollowing the Big Bang. Or so they thought.

Soon after the announcement, evidence came to light that the study’s findings were likely an experimental artifact. In the ensuing months,scientists confirmed that interstellar dust was the likely source of the observed B-mode gravitational waves. As with all science, it takes some time for the dust of a big discovery to settle, and in this case, dust was all that was left. Hopefullyscientists will soon use their massive Antarctic telescope, BICEP2, to observe real B-mode gravitational waves through dust-less regions of the Earth’s surroundings.

The World’s First Birth With A Donated Womb

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Above: The newborn baby just after birth, via Brännström et al.

In late September, for the first time ever, a woman gave birth to a baby after receiving a womb transplant. The mother and child offer hope to women the world over with missing or non-functional uteruses, who desire to carry their own children to term.

The unidentified 36-year-old woman was born without a womb (a congenital disorder known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser – or MRKH – syndrome), and is one of nine Swedish women who received a uterine transplant from live donors between 2012 and 2013. Some of those women received wombs from family members (including their own mothers), but this particular uterus was reportedly donated by a 61-year-old “family friend” who had undergone menopause 7-years prior to the 2013 surgery.

Young Blood Rejuvenates Old Brains

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

A few years ago, scientists from Stanford discovered that it’s possible to reverse cognitive decline in old mice by injecting them with the blood of the young. At the time, researcher Saul Villeda wasn’t entirely sure howyoung blood reversed the effects of cognitive decline. This year, several studies helped elucidate the mechanism responsible for this rejuvenation.

The Orion Spacecraft Proves Doubters Wrong

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 20148

Orion blasting off on top of a Delta IV Heavy rocket at 7:05 am EST, on Friday December 5, 204. Image credit:NASA/Bill Ingalls

When NASA announced plans for sending humans on deep space exploration, their dream was met with a mix of wistfulness and scorn, as few believed it would ever become a reality. As the Orion spacecraft worked its way through design, development, and systems testing, that same disbelief continued to haunt it. Even those hopeful that it would take shape as a vessel to carry humans beyond the Earth-Moon system were convinced it would be the archetype of a government project: over-budget, behind schedule, and ultimately unfulfilling.

This December, NASA proved the doubters wrong. For the first and only uncrewed test flight, Orion went through its paces absolutely perfectly,blasting out of Florida, soaring through the Van Allen radiation belts, and splashing down into the Pacific Ocean. On one hand, it was just a test flight. On the other, this was real, undeniable progress in moving from a dream to a reality. The next time Orion heads to space it will be with astronauts on board, and the time after that will be to carry humans to an asteroid. NASA is trying to do something outrageously ambitious on a starvation budget and this could all fall apart, but if it keeps working, Orion’s test flight was the first real step on an incredible journey.

The Largest Robotic Swarm In History Takes Shape

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

In August, researcher Mark Rubenstein and his colleagues reported the most impressive demonstration of robotic swarm activity to date: A group of 1,024 low-cost, inch-wide robots called “Kilobots” that can self assemble into a variety of two-dimensional shapes (two-dimensional in the sense that the shapes are never more than one-Kilobot tall). Speedy they’re not, but Kilobots can twitch, scuttle, and jostle around one another to achieve complex global behaviors – and they can do it autonomously. Together, they constitute the largest, most technically impressive robotic swarm ever created.

A 1024-strong horde is still several orders of magnitude shy of the swarms we see in nature (the number of ants in a supercolony, for example, can easily exceed 100-million), but it’s a significant step for the field of swarm robotics. As Rubenstein and his colleagues note, their work advances the ambitious goal “of creating artificial swarms with the capabilities of natural ones.

The First Earth-Sized, Habitable Zone Planet

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Above: An artist’s conception of Kepler-186f Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech

In April, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a faraway planet that’s perhaps the most Earth-like yet discovered. It’s the same size as our home world, and at the right distance from its parent star to have liquid water.

“The ultimate goal of all this searching for exoplanets – the real reason we’re doing this – is to answer the question ‘ are we alone?’” So said Tom Barclay, a research scientist working with NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler mission, and co-author of the paper recounting Kepler-186f’s discovery.

Barclay says that the answer to that big, ultimate question is almost certainly contained in the answers to a host of smaller ones, starting with:Are there other places out there like Earth?With the discovery of Kepler-186f, Barclay said, it’s clearer than ever that “the answer to that question is ‘Yes.’”

An Ocean’s Worth Of Water Below Earth’s Surface?

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

After a series of experiments, geologists have come to a rather startling conclusion. There may be a ocean-sized amount of water far beneath the Earth, trapped inside the high-pressure mantle zone between our planet’s liquid metal core and its outer crust.

For decades, geologists have speculated about what created Earth’s vast oceans of water. One popular theory is that icy comets crashed into the planet, eventually melting into oceans. But another theory, which now seems more plausible, was that Earth was already packed with water when it formed. As the planet coalesced out of dust and rocks, that water became trapped in various rocks below the crust.

Galactic Supercluster Laniakea

Our galactic supercluster is 100 times bigger in volume and mass than previously thought. Using an innovative mapping technique, astronomers have charted an enormous region they’re now callingLaniakea. The new study, which better defines the dividing line between superclusters, offers a completely new look at our galaxy’s surroundings.

King Richard III’s Remains Confirmed To 99.999% Accuracy

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

The case is officially closed on what’s been called the oldest forensic investigation in history. A new genetic analysis is providing incontrovertible evidence that the skeleton found under a parking lot in Leicester belonged to the king, while uncovering new truths about his appearance and lineage.

Enceladus Harbors A Hidden Ocean. Does That Ocean Harbor Life?

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft beamed back images showing what appeared to be plumes of water vapor spewing from fractures, called “tiger stripes,” near the southern pole of Enceladus, an icy moon of Saturn. These images alone could not prove that liquid water existed beneath the moon’s surface. But in April, an analysis of gravity measurements taken by Cassini confirmed that a large reservoir of liquid water exists underneath Enceladus’s icy exterior. Moreover, they’ve confirmed that the tiny moon is a differentiated celestial body; it’s comprised of two layers — an external icy layer and an internal rocky core made up of silicates. Excitingly, this layer of silicate rock, in conjunction with liquid water, means that Enceladus features a potentially habitable environment — one that could be even more hospitable to life than Europa, a moon of Jupiter.

Not four months later, the Cassini team presented observations that suggest the moon’s geysers may be directly connected to the sea beneath its surface – a monumental discovery. As Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini imaging team, put it: “For me, the finding of an easily sampled, habitable environment within Enceladus has been Cassini’s most profound discovery. Many of us are now asking whether a second origin of life in our solar system could have occurred on this little moon.”

A Skull Discovered In An Underwater Cave Holds Clues To The History Of America’s First Settlers

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Paleoamericans began exploring the western coasts of the Americas about 15,000 years ago, but never managed to establish the longer-lasting empires (Inca, Maya) that would give rise to Native Americans. Because of the distinct facial features of paleoamericans and Native Americans, scientists thought the two groups had distinct ancestry. However, a skull found underwater off the shore of Mexico proved this year that Native Americans and paleoamericans share common ancestry in the people who lived in Beringia (an enormous stretch of fertile grassland connecting Eurasia and the Americas during the last ice age) and that differences in their facial structure must have come about from differences in lifestyle, not ancestry.

Dreadnoughtus, An “Astoundingly Huge” Supermassive Dinosaur

Dreadnoughtus Schrani – the herbivorous, titanosaurian sauropod described in September by University of Drexel paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara and his team – is estimated to have been 85 feet long. Its tail accounted for roughly 30 of those feet. Its neck, the individual vertebrae of which measure more than three feet across, stretched 37 feet in length. Its scapula, pictured here beside Lacovara’s son, stands more than five and a half feet tall – the tallest ever reported for any titanosaur.

Measurements taken from one of Dreadnoughtus‘ femurs, which stands over six feet tall, have led Lacovara and his team to estimate that the dinosaur, which lived approximately 77 million years ago, weighed about 65 tons in life, making it far and away the largest land animal for which a body mass can be accurately calculated (the previous record holder, another Patagonian titanosaur named Elaltitan, had a calculable weight of 47 tons.) No two ways about it –Dreadnoughtus was, to quote Lacovara, “astoundingly huge.”

Evidence of Active Tectonics on Jupiter’s Moon, Europa

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Above: A false-color image of Europa’s trailing northern hemisphere, where subduction zones are hypothesized to exist. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

A recent geological survey of Europa revealed a massive, 20,000 square-kilometer portion of the moon’s surface had gone missing. In September,researchers published evidence that suggests a plate tectonic system may be moving old portions of Europa’s surface beneath adjacent plates. If confirmed, the finding would make Europa the only known place in the solar system (apart from Earth) whose surface continues to be shaped by active plate tectonics.

Stem Cells Could Hold A Cure To Type 1 Diabetes

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Above: human-stem-cell derived beta cells. (Douglas Melton)

β cells are insulin-producing cells found in the pancreas that help keep blood glucose levels in balance. In patients with type 1 diabetes, β cells are targeted and destroyed by the immune system. A possible cure? Replace the destroyed cells with ones grown in a lab. In October,researchers at Harvard University published a method for converting human embryonic stem cells into β cells at quantities large enough to make cell transplantation feasible (though researchers still need to figure out how to protect synthesized cells from the autoimmune attacks that eliminate the body’s natural β cells). The cell-derived β cells are currently undergoing trials in animal models, including non-human primates.

A Living Organism With An Expanded Genetic Alphabet

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

The genetic codes of all living things consist of the same four building blocks: Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine. These building blocks, abbreviated by the letters A, T, G, and C, respectively can be found in untold combinations. But in May of this year, researchers announced they had engineered, for the first time, live E. coli bacteria that incorporate two entirely new letters into their genetic alphabet. An achievement nearly 15 years in the making, the team’s reconstituted version of the bacteria boasts two artificial base blocks of DNA – DNA that can be carried and passed on to future generations.

An Artificial Yeast Chromosome Was Built From Scratch

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Twelve years ago, scientists created the first artificial virus. Eight years later, the world was introduced to the first synthetic genome for bacteria. By 2012, scientists had created the first complete computer model of a living organism. In March of this year, an international team of scientists reconstructed a synthetic and fully functional yeast chromosome. A breakthrough seven years in the making, the remarkable advance could eventually lead to custom-built organisms (human organisms included).

Scientists Discover the Gynosome, A New Kind of Sexual Organ

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

When Brazilian scientist Rodrigo Ferreira sent a few insect specimens to a Swiss entomologist named Charles Lienhard, the latter identified the insects as belonging to an entirely new genus, henceforth known asNeotrogla. Lienhard also noticed that the females had an erectile “penis-like structure,” which he called a “gynosome.” Among this group of cave-dwelling Brazilian insects, the females use their gynosomes to penetrate the males. It’s a first in the animal kingdom, and scientists say that the lives of these insects challenge everything we thought we knew about sexual selection.

At Stonehenge, A Pair of Monumental Discoveries

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Though archaeologists have long suspected that the huge neolithic stones of Stonehenge once formed a complete circle, evidence in support of the claim has remained elusive. In September, following a dry summer season, archaeologists were able to observe patches of dry grass that appear to confirm the prehistoric monument’s circular configuration.

Not two weeks later, archaeologists, u sing powerful ground-penetrating radar, announced they had detected a trove of previously unknown burial mounds, chapels, shrines, pits — and most remarkable of all — a massive megalithic monument made up of more than 50 giant stones buried along a 1,082-foot-long c-shaped enclosure. The new findings upend previous conceptions of Stonehenge as a desolate and lonely place.

The Philae Lander Successfully Touches Down On a Comet

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2014

Over ten years ago, scientists at the European Space Agency bid adieu to a robot lander named Philae, as it set off on a mission with the Rosetta space probe to collect data about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This November, after Rosetta achieved orbit around the comet, Philae detached from Rosetta and landed on 67P. After two wild bounces and no harpoon strikes to anchor it, Philae settled in the shadow of a cliff. For the first time in human spacefaring history, a robotic probe had been placed on the surface of a comet – and already its findings are reshaping the way we view the uni


European Comet Lander May Wake Up from Space Slumber

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE with tags on December 26, 2014 by 2eyeswatching


European Comet Lander May Wake Up from Space Slumber

SAN FRANCISCO — Europe’s Philae comet lander may be about to wake up from its lengthy, unplanned slumber.

Philae, part of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, went into hibernation in mid-November, a few days after executing adramatic and historic touchdown on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — the first-ever soft landing on one of these icy relics from the solar system’s formation.

The highly anticipated maneuver didn’t go entirely as planned. Philae’s anchoring harpoons failed to fire, and the robot bounced twice before finally settling down on Comet 67P/C-G in the shadow of an ice cliff. Philae was cut off from sunlight for much of the day, so the solar-powered lander went into hibernation when its primary batteries ran out, shortly after wrapping up its initial round of science observations on the comet’s surface. [See comet photos from Rosetta and Philae]

But it’s now approaching summer in Philae’s presumed location, so the washing-machine-size lander could soon access enough energy to open its eyes and start working again, mission scientists said.                                                                 

Philae on Comet

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission made an historic landing on a comet on Nov. 12, 2014. The probe arrived at the comet in August. This photo from the European Space Agency is the Philae lander’s view of its landing site on Comet 67P/C-G’s surface. Image release Nov. 13, 2014. [See’s full coverage.]

“Pessimistically, it will be after Easter; [optimistically], it will be much prior to that,” Philae lead scientist Jean-Pierre Bibring said during a news conference today (Dec. 17) here at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “It all depends on how the sun will go over the horizon, the local horizon.”

The uncertainty stems, in large part, from the fact that the mission team still doesn’t know exactly where Philae landed on the comet. Researchers have performed several search campaigns using cameras aboard the Rosetta mothership, which remains in orbit around Comet 67P/C-G, but so far, they haven’t been able to pinpoint the lander.                                

Philae’s Drift Across Comet 67P

Images taken by Rosetta spacecraft show the path of Philae lander as it approached and rebounded from its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on Nov. 12, 2014.

However, images from the most recent campaign, which extended from Dec. 12 through Dec. 14, are still coming down to Earth, and mission scientists expressed optimism that at least one of them would show Philae’s location.

Philae should survive the frigid conditions on the comet’s surface and be ready to go when the time comes, Bibring said, adding that the lander and its 10 science instruments were designed to operate in the cold.

“I think we managed to make a very robust system,” he said. “My suspicion is that we will be in good shape.”

The unplanned (final) landing site may even prove to be a blessing in disguise. Photos taken by Philae shortly after its touchdown show a landscape that has scientists licking their chops, eager to conduct a lengthier investigation.

“The material that we have ahead of us is certainly fantastic,” Bibring told “We see the building blocks we are desperately looking for — icy material loaded with organics.”                                                                                             

1st Comet Panorama from Philae Lander

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA
The European Space Agency’s Philae lander took this first panorama from the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after its historic landing on Nov. 12, 2014. The body of the lander is superimposed on the image.[See’s full coverage.]

The nearby cliff may also allow Philae to keep operating on the comet’s surface for longer than scientists had anticipated. Comet 67P/C-G is currently zooming toward the sun, with its closest approach coming in August 2015, when the icy body will be about 1.2 astronomical units (AU) from our star. (1 AU is the distance from Earth to the sun — about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.)

Mission scientists had thought that increasing temperatures would render Philae inoperable by February or March. But the lander may be able to keep working for significantly longer in its more shaded location. (The intended landing site, which Philae hit before bouncing away the first time, was very open.)

Meanwhile, exciting things are afoot for the Rosetta mothership, which continues to study Comet 67P/C-G from orbit. Rosetta will fly within 4 miles (6 km) of the comet’s surface in February, returning imagery with a resolution of just a few inches per pixel, researchers said.                                                                                                                                                

Comet Landscape of 67P by Rosetta

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
This previously unreleased image shows the strange, alien landscape of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as seen by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft in late October 2014. [See’s full coverage.]

And in July or thereabouts, the mission team will attempt to fly Rosetta through a “jet” of material outgassing from 67P’s surface, said Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor.

Rosetta launched in 2004 and arrived in orbit around Comet 67P/C-G in August of this year. The mission aims to learn more about composition of comets, as well as their structure, thereby revealing insights about the conditions prevalent during the solar system’s early days.

The Rosetta mission is currently scheduled to operate until December 2015, but team members are looking at possibly extending the mission into 2016 to keep studying 67P. Taylor said he and other team members would like to land Rosetta on the comet when the probe’s end is near, rather than simply letting its fuel run out in orbit.                                             

ROLIS Captures Descent of Philae

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR
Comet 67P/CG appears in an image taken by the ROLIS instrument on the Philae lander as it descended from Rosetta spacecraft on Nov. 12, 2014, from a distance of approximately 1.9 miles (3 km) from the surface. [See’s full coverage.]

“It appears to be more compelling to do this spiraling in,” Taylor told “So we’ll probably have a fourth landing.”

(Philae “landed” three times, finally staying put the third time.)

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us@Spacedotcom, Facebook orGoogle+. Originally published on