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Topics - Doobie Keebler

1

Ancient data, modern math and the hunt for 11 lost cities of the Bronze Age


A clay tablet with cuneiform inscription from Anatolia circa 1875-1840 B.C. Researchers have extracted numbers from thousands of these tablets to create a database of trade in ancient Assyria. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

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Using numbers scrawled by Bronze Age merchants on 4,000-year-old clay tablets, a historian and three economists have developed a novel way to pinpoint the locations of lost cities of the ancient world.

Trade, Merchants, and the Lost Cities of the Bronze Age (behind paywall)

The ancient city of Kanesh, located in the middle of modern-day Turkey, was a hub of trade in the Anatolian region four millennia ago. Modern-day archaeologists have unearthed artifacts from the city, including more than 23,000 cuneiform texts, inscribed in clay by ancient Assyrian merchants.

The texts themselves are mostly "business letters, shipment documents, accounting records, seals and contracts," according to the working paper by Gojko Barjamovic, Thomas Chaney, Kerem A. Cosar and Ali Hortacsu. Barjamovic is an expert in the history of Assyria, the ancient Middle Eastern kingdom founded near the Tigris River in what is present-day Iraq. His co-authors are economists from, respectively, the Paris Institute of Political Studies, the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago.

A typical passage from the clay tablets, translated by the team, reads something like this:

   
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From Durhumit until Kaneš I incurred expenses of 5 minas of refined (copper), I spent 3 minas of copper until Wahšušana, I acquired and spent small wares for a value of 4 shekels of silver

Most tantalizing to archaeologists are the mentions in the tablets of ancient cities and settlements -- some of which have been located, others of which remain unknown. In the record above, for instance, while Kaneš (Kanesh) has been located and excavated. Durhumit is, at present, lost to history.

Traditionally, historians and archaeologists have analyzed texts like these for bits of qualitative information that might locate a site -- descriptions of landscape features, for instance, or indications of distance or direction from other, known cities.

But Barjamovic and his co-authors had a different idea: What if they analyzed the quantitative data contained in the tablets instead? In the passage above, for instance, you have a record of three separate cargo shipments: Durhumit to Kanesh, Kanesh to Wahshushana, and Durhumit to Wahshushana.

If you analyze thousands of tablets and tally up each record of a cargo shipment contained therein, you end up with a remarkably comprehensive picture of trade among the cities around Kanesh 4,000 years ago. Barjamovic did exactly that, translating and parsing 12,000 clay tablets, extracting information on merchants' trade itineraries.

What they had, in the end, was a record of hundreds of trade interactions among a total of 26 ancient cities: 15 whose locations were known and 11 that remain lost.

Here's where things get really interesting: In the ancient world, trade was strongly dependent on geographic distance. Moving goods from Point A to Point B was a lot more difficult at a time when roads were rough, goods had to be transported on the backs of donkeys and robbers lurked everywhere.

Cities located closer together traded more, while those farther apart traded less. This is the key insight driving the entire paper. Let's say we have an ancient city, such as Kanesh, that we know the location of. We also have two lost cities, Kuburnat and Durhumit. If we know Kanesh traded more with Kuburnat than with Durhumit, we can reasonably assume that Kuburnat is closer to Kanesh than Durhumit is.



The figure above is a conceptual illustration of this idea. Kanesh is in the center, Kuburnat is somewhere in the inner light-blue region, and Duhurmit is somewhere farther out, in the dark-blue area.

If you have decent data on trade volume (from, say, thousands of clay tablets), you can do one better than this: You can actually plug the trade data into an algorithm that uses other pieces of known data, such as commodity prices and population size, to estimate the distance between two given cities, given the volume of trade between them.



Updating our example illustration, you can see that if we know the rough distance between two cities, we can narrow our concentric circles down to concentric rings.

That still leaves a large area to search if we're trying to find these lost cities. But recall: the clay tablet data set includes trade volumes for 14 other known cities in addition to Kanesh. We can run our trade algorithm for any given lost city, such as Durhumit, against any other city we already know the location of. That gives us an estimate of the distance to Durhumit from each of those cities.

If a number of those distance estimates overlap in the same region, that's a pretty strong indicator that Durhumit would have been located in that region.



In the end, the trade data contained on 12,000 ancient clay tablets allowed Barjamovic and his co-authors to estimate the locations of the 11 lost cities mentioned therein. As a sanity check, they mapped their own estimates against some qualitative guesses produced by historians over the years. In some cases, the qualitative and quantitative estimates were in precise agreement. In others, the quantitative model lends credence to one historical assessment vs. another. In others, the model suggests that the historians previously got it completely wrong.

"For a majority of cases, our quantitative estimates are remarkably close to qualitative proposals made by historians," the authors conclude. "In some cases where historians disagree on the likely site of lost cities, our quantitative method supports the suggestions of some historians and rejects that of others."

As a final check, the authors ran the model against the location of known ancient cities to see whether its results matched the actual archaeological record.

One two out of three of the known cities they tested against, the model nailed it. But it whiffed on the third.

The authors suspect their algorithm performs better for cities located near the center of the Assyrian trade network. The "estimation of the location of lost cities is reliable for central cities, but less precise for peripheral cities," they write. Whether you're a Bronze Age merchant of a modern-day economist, long distances remain treacherous.

Still, the authors say their approach for finding lost cities can be used to supplement more traditional methods, helping historians fill in gaps of knowledge in the archaeological record. Beyond that, the paper is a fascinating illustration of how modern knowledge can breathe new life into numbers inscribed on clay tablets 4,000 years ago.

I can dig it.
2
TR Embassy and Animal Shelter / Vertebrates; Misc.

A thread for the 'brates who, while awesome, aren't quite worthy of a dedicated thread.


4


Horsey McHorseface wins maiden race

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(CNN) The best name in horse racing finally has its maiden win.

Horsey McHorseface, who until Monday had only drawn attention for his standout moniker rather than his performances, came from behind in the final furlong to race clear and claim a first win in only his fourth start.

The three-year-old gelding, trained by Bjorn Baker, got his name after a public poll in Britain chose Boaty McBoatface as the most popular name for a $300 million polar research ship. The Natural Environment Research Council eventually opted for the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Horsey McHorseface's triumph came in the A$20k ($15k) Arthur Thompson Memorial Maiden Plate at Cessnock Racecourse in New South Wales, Australia. "We had a laugh about it in the office and thought, 'Hey, why not,'"Jake Bruce, racing manager at Sydney's Warwick Farm racecourse, told CNN last year. Australian horse owner Joe Rosetti came up with the name, quickly convincing his co-owner Baker.

"Joe's a good bloke and he's a good horse -- we just thought it would be a good fit." Bought in New Zealand for $45,000 in November 2015, Bruce had hoped the name would generate some interest. "Any publicity is good publicity," said Bruce. "He's got as good a chance as any to make it and we'd absolutely love to win with him on a big day. It would be a) hilarious and b) great for the owners."

Now, it seems, Horsey McHorseface is making a name for himself on the track to go with his name off it.

5
The only issue I have with it is that Ken doesn't mention if this diorama is based on Observational or Historical Science. Any insights Dave?

Can you imagine what it would be like to survive being attacked by a giant only to be chomped by a dinosaur?  :sadcheer:

At least the King not only has a Queen, it appears he was allowed a little slave nookie on the side. Very naughty. :cheer:








#AlternativeScienceFacts
6
Arts and Entertainment / Better Call Saul
Season 3 is to begin broadcast on April 10th and those who have kept up so far know that it's pretty much inevitable that Gustavo would have to make an appearance in the storyline. Apparently this ad is already about a month old but it wasn't until this evening I saw it for the first time on AMC. I am so ready for some more BCS. :cheer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8vfckXAPJ8
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Mary Tyler Moore, Who Incarnated the Modern Woman on TV, Dies at 80

Because my mother was a huge fan of Mary and controlled the TV the majority of the time, I grew up in a household that saw every episode and multiple re-runs of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda's spinoff and a decent slice of Phyllis. The Dick Van Dyke Show is and will always be one of my favorites.

Most people don't know about or perhaps realize the extent of MTM Enterprises started by Mary and her husband.

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Moore and her husband Grant Tinker founded MTM Enterprises, Inc. in 1969; Moore later commented that he had named the entity after her in much the same fashion that someone might name a boat after a spouse. This company produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show and several other television shows and films. It also included a record label, MTM Records.[41] MTM Enterprises produced a variety of American sitcoms and drama television series such as Rhoda, Lou Grant and Phyllis (all spin-offs from The Mary Tyler Moore Show), The Bob Newhart Show, The Texas Wheelers, WKRP in Cincinnati, The White Shadow, Friends and Lovers, St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues, and was later sold to Television South, an ITV Franchise holder during the 1980s. The MTM logo is very similar to the Metro Goldwyn Mayer logo, but features Moore's cat Mimsie instead of the lion.

Mary's mysterious voice and gams were a staple of the Richard Diamond, Private Detective series. She would have brief appearances as the phone operator who face was obscured in the dark, her soft voice and visible legs added to the titillation.



Heh. Shoutout to Wikifeet.  ;)



It may look like a walnut. (couldn't find a nice hi-res at all. sad!)



This has always been one of my top ten favorite photos. There is a nice
hi-res print available and I hope to have a copy of it in my home one day.



The massive fern was the perfect backdrop for that hairstyle.



Group shuffle anyone ?



From crushing those capri pants to crushing the late 70s/early 80s jumpsuit.  lulz.



Dem eyes still very much full of life.



Betty White and Cloris Leachman are still kicking ass.



Bye Mary.  :sadcheer:  I hope we make it after all.



Mimsie will see us out.  If you've ever heard him I'll bet you can hear him now.

8
Arts and Entertainment / Victoria begins on PBS
Tonight in the US at 7eastern/8central on your local PBS channel.

(edit- Actually the first episode should have already aired last Sunday but I guess I missed it. My guide didn't list as a repeat this evening but I just realized that it should be.)


9
Technical Issues and Questions / "Expanding" Images
I noticed that there's no equivalent script on the new forum that will allow you to click downsized images on the page to see them at full resolution like we had at the old joint.*

 Any chance something like that is available? It would be nice to get away from doing the ol' drag to a new tab or leaving the page.

* I'm assuming this is the case and that it's not my particular browser setup.
10
Science / The Cool Science Image Thread


Orbits of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids
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Explanation: Are asteroids dangerous? Some are, but the likelihood of a dangerous asteroid striking the Earth during any given year is low. Because some past mass extinction events have been linked to asteroid impacts, however, humanity has made it a priority to find and catalog those asteroids that may one day affect life on Earth. Pictured above are the orbits of the over 1,000 known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs). These documented tumbling boulders of rock and ice are over 140 meters across and will pass within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth -- about 20 times the distance to the Moon. Although none of them will strike the Earth in the next 100 years -- not all PHAs have been discovered, and past 100 years, many orbits become hard to predict. Were an asteroid of this size to impact the Earth, it could raise dangerous tsunamis, for example. Of course rocks and ice bits of much smaller size strike the Earth every day, usually pose no danger, and sometimes creating memorable fireball and meteor displays.
11
The Soap Opera / Image Association thread locked ?
If it's because no members have been posting their nude selfies I'm willing to upload one or two.  :unsure: 
12
Apparently the issues are over non-Zika but medically related funding in the bill (understandable perhaps) on top of Republicans once again trying to defund Planned Parenthood by attaching a rider to the bill that denies funds for contraception.*

* none of which is specifically mentioned in the video. Consider the video entertainment, akin to that Republican jackass and his pet snowball.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppNM1rWUAA4
13
Amazing 'Nesting Doll' Fossil Reveals Bug in Lizard in Snake

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Forty-eight million years ago, an iguana relative living in what's now Germany scarfed down an insect with a shimmering exoskeleton. Soon thereafter the lizard's luck changed--when a juvenile snake gulped it down headfirst.

We know this happened because the snake had the spectacularly bad luck to end up in a death trap: the nearby Messel Pit, a volcanic lake with toxic deep waters and a possible knack for belching out asphyxiating clouds of carbon dioxide.

It's unclear if the lake poisoned or suffocated the snake, fates that more often befell the area's aquatic and flying creatures. Most likely, it somehow died near the lake and was washed in. But no more than two days after eating the lizard, the snake lay dead on the lake floor, entombed in sediments that impeccably preserved it, its meal, and its meal's meal.

And that's a very good thing. That fossil, recently described in Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, is only the second of its kind ever found, revealing three levels of an ancient food chain nested one inside the other in paleontology's version of Russian nesting dolls--or its culinary equivalent, a turducken.

[...]

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The fossil contains a juvenile specimen of the snake Palaeopython fischeri and its prey. The arrow points to the tip of the snout of the lizard inside the snake. An illustration highlighting the lizard--and the insect inside it--is down below.

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Interpretive drawing of the fossil, overlaid on a photograph. The lizard, Geiseltaliellus maarius (orange), is preserved in the stomach of the snake (white). The insect rests in the abdominal cavity of the lizard (blue).
15
Arts and Entertainment / Animal Kingdom (TNT Drama)
Anyone else watching the "crime family" drama Animal Kingdom?   (IMDb page)

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Animal Kingdom  Tuesdays at 9/8c  TV-MA

Animal Kingdom is an adrenaline-charged drama starring Emmy and Tony winner Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love, This Boy's Life, Oceans 13) as the matriarch of a Southern California family whose excessive lifestyle is fueled by their criminal activities, with Scott Speedman (The Strangers, The Vow) as her second in command. Shawn Hatosy (Southland, Reckless), Ben Robson (Vikings, Dracula: The Dark Prince), Jake Weary (Pretty Little Liars, It Follows) and Finn Cole (Peaky Blinders, An Inspector Calls) also star.

Barkin is pretty good so far playing a manipulative family head/boss. I'm diggin' the guy playing "Pope", he's pulling off a damn convincing sociopath. It's only three episodes in and seems to have a lot of potential. I'm enjoying it so far.

I haven't checked the schedule to see if they are doing rerun/catchup broadcasts but you can watch all the episodes to date on the show's home page. (if you log into your cable/dish provider from that page apparently, I've never messed with that)


16
Given this crew's boisterous and somewhat bawdy nature. Just sayin'.

I do however see a kinda ironic conflict with having it available in any thread where Dave's shit bucket is under discussion.