(ANSA) – Milan, March 8 – Excavations of a tomb in northern Lazio dating to around the 8th century BC have uncovered treasures including an amber necklace, a golden Egyptian scarab amulet and rare pottery that archaeologists say likely belonged to an Etruscan princess.
The excavation of the Tomb of the Golden Scarab follows its discovery earlier this year in the archaeological site of Vulci, a former Etruscan city.
Anthropological research helped back the theory that the tomb belonged to a princess within the ranks of the nascent Etruscan aristocracy. A few bones wrapped in precious cloth are all that remains of her.
The excavation of the tomb was carried out in the laboratories of the Vulci foundation in Montalto di Castro near Viterbo.
A group of international archaeologists are set to begin a new digging campaign at the Vulci site in April.
This little sun bear has the best reason wild animals shouldn’t be kept as pets: her pure joy at being reintroduced to the forest she was taken from.
Like many young bears, Kala was a victim of the illegal wildlife trade. Her mother was likely killed by poachers so the little cub could be sold as an exotic pet. Fortunately, the person who bought her quickly surrendered her to officials and she ended up at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC) in Malaysia in January, already emaciated and malnourished from her brief time in captivity.
Kala quickly perked up at BSBCC, and carers began to take her out on forest walks in late February. The result was unbridled excitement.
Pictures show the young sun bear looking ecstatic as she explores her newfound freedom. Back in the forest for the first time since she was taken from her mother, the little bear can be seen biting at branches, exploring everything in sight and rolling around on the forest floor in sheer happiness.
“Kala is everything a cub should be — playful, inquisitive and sweet-natured,” BSBCC wrote on its site. “Kala loves spending her time lying on forest floor and grabbing dry leaves or branches to bite and play with. She has become more active and energetic, and her favorite activities include digging, eating soil, and playing.”
BSBCC said Kala enjoys foraging for termites and earthworms to eat. As noted above, she also has a strange but harmless passion for eating soil.
She also appears to be a bit skittish. “When she comes across something unexpected like a millipede or giant ant she is very cautious, shows little interest, and then runs away,” BSBCC writes.
In the wild, Kala would have remained with her mother until she was 2 or 3 years old. Since she was so cruelly snatched away, BSBCC is stepping in to help raise the little sun bear and, hopefully, reintroduce her to the wild.
At the moment, carers are working on teaching the little bear to climb. Sun bears are arboreal, but Kala would become “fussy” whenever workers tried to help her into the trees. So, they built a custom jungle gym for her to play on at home, and gradually become more comfortable with getting off the ground.
And the little bear makes do with what she has. Since Kala has no mother or sibling to wrestle with, she likes to playfully attack carers’ boots with her little claws and teeth.
“Her forest skills are improving day by day,” BSBCC wrote. “We are absolutely delighted that Kala will have the second chance to live in the wild again once she is ready for life in the forest.”
To support Kala’s care, you can make a donation to BSBCC through the group’s website.
You can see more of the little bear’s happy reintroduction to the forest below.
Three years ago, it would have been easy to find a place to buy elephant ivory. Even though Google banned ads for ivory products, that didn’t stop them from popping up on Google’s shopping site in Japan. And if a couple years ago you wanted to bid on an ivory trinket, no problem—you could have browsed online auction aggregator LiveAuctioneers.com, which didn’t provide guidelines for selling or shipping ivory items.
It’s still all too possible to buy illegal wildlife products online, but it’s getting harder. Both companies have stepped up policies to identify unlawful wildlife products and rid their websites of it, and now they’re pledging to go even further. The U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, a coalition of nonprofits and companies, announced Thursday that in honor of World Wildlife Day, more than a dozen companies or organizations have committed to help combat wildlife trafficking by eliminating illicit products from the supply chain, telling others to do the same, or educating the public.
“The announcement signifies that there’s an increasingly broad recognition of the terrible scope of the international wildlife trafficking crisis,” says David Hayes, chairman of the alliance, which organized the pledge as part of President Barack Obama’s initiative to clamp down on the illegal wildlife trade. “It’s a recognition that the U.S. remains an important market for these illegal products.”
Wildlife trafficking is finally taking its place in the public’s consciousness as a dangerous and destabilizing industry. Valued at billions of dollars, the illegal trade is a major black market. Illicit skins, tusks, horns, and other animal parts show up in necklaces, trendy shoes, on the dinner plate. Not only are millions of animals, from elephants to rhinos, threatened by the trade, but it’s become increasingly organized and violent.
And big businesses have taken notice. Just as in the early 2000s when companies began pledging to combat sweatshops and child labor, the private sector is now adding wildlife protection to its corporate responsibilities.
Along with commitments made today by Google and LiveAuctioneers.com, fashion retailer Ralph Lauren has promised to beef up its illegal wildlife product policies and share the problem with the American Apparel and Footwear Association. High end jewelry shop Tiffany & Co. and Signet Jewelers, owner of Zales, Kay Jewelers, and Jared, also said they’ll spread the word to other retailers.
Then there’s Etsy, an online haven for DIYers and artsy trinket lovers, which has already distanced itself from the illegal wildlife trade by banning the sales of body parts of protected species. Now the company has pledged to increased enforcement of the ban and discuss wildlife trafficking with other businesses. And eBay plans to do the same. The online marketplace bans the sale of endangered species products but was singled out in a 2008 report as the worst offender in the online trade of endangered wildlife products.
Representing the travel sector, Royal Caribbean Cruises has committed to identifying and eliminating all sales of products illegally made from wildlife. Meanwhile, JetBlue, which offers flights from the U.S. to the Caribbean, has promised to show a movie about wildlife trafficking on every flight. “It’s our responsibility to help that customer have a great vacation and also to protect the region of the Caribbean to ensure that it’s there for more tourism in the future,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, the airline’s head of sustainability.
This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback and story ideas firstname.lastname@example.org.
People around the world are helping to transcribe more than a half-million ancient documents from the comfort of their sitting rooms, thanks to a major crowd-sourcing project that is revolutionising our understanding of life in Greco-Roman Egypt and how scholars sift through vast quantities of archaeological material. The Ancient Lives project, a collaboration between the University of Oxford, the Egypt Exploration Society, the Citizen Science Alliance and others, asks its 250,000-strong group of online volunteers to review digital scans of papyri fragments from Oxyrhynchus in Upper Egypt. With the help of specialised online tools, they identify Greek letters found on the papyri and this data is then fed to scholars for translation. To mark the fifth anniversary of the project, Dirk Obbink, an associate professor in Papyrology and Greek Literature from the University of Oxford, will present the latest findings of what is being billed as “the world’s largest archaeological project”, at a talk in London tomorrow (1 March).
The cache of papyri, which dates from the third century BC to the seventh century AD, was discovered in the late 1890s by British archaeologists digging in a rubbish dump at Oxyrhynchus (City of the Sharp Nosed Fish), which is approximately 160m south-west of Cairo. By the time the excavation was completed in 1907, 700 boxes of documents had been recovered and shipped to Oxford for study.
The Oxyrhynchus fragments include personal documents such as tax assessments, grocery lists, marriage certificates, horoscopes and wills as well as public edicts, official correspondence and court records. They also contain excerpts of literary works by Sappho, Euripides and Homer as well as a lost tragedy by Sophocles. One fragment offers an alternative account of the death of Narcissus than the one popularised by the Roman poet Ovid. In this rediscovered version of the myth, the son of a river god and nymph does not die of a broken heart but takes his own life.
Some of the more recent discoveries resulting from the Ancient Lives project include tried-and-true ancient remedies for treating haemorrhoids, hangovers and cataracts as well as juicier reports, including an agreement, from 12BC, for a young wrestler to throw a match for the right price. Several literary works have also been uncovered including a romantic tale involving a king called Sesonchosis. A lost gospel in which Jesus casts out demons from possessed men has also been discovered.
The London talk, which is being held at the Royal Geographical Society, is organised by the World Monuments Fund Britain and is the first in a series of talks the fund is planning for this spring and summer.