Monday March 30, 2020

‘Bog Butter’ dating back to 2,000 years discovered in Co Meath, Ireland

Bog was used by ancient people to preserve dead bodies

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Bog butter. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • A 2,000 years old “bog butter” weighing 22-pounds recently discovered
  • The confounding fact is that it could also be “theoretically… still edible”
  • Such methods of preserving things in bogs were surprisingly common back in those days

An enormous lump of “bog butter” weighing 22-pounds, which is believed to be buried almost 2,000-year-ago, was recently discovered in Co Meath, Ireland. But why would one bury it with intent to preserve it for so long? There is only one possible reason – Ancient butter experts believe that it was once offering to the gods.

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Bog butter it as a “creamy white dairy product, which smells like a strong cheese.”  The massive find, while not unusual, has been enclosed in a refrigerated case and given to the National Museum, where it will be preserved, said an atlasobscura report.

Such methods of preserving things in bogs were surprisingly common back in ancient times. Without salt, butter would spoil quickly, but the cold, low-oxygen environment of the bog could probably act as an unreal refrigerator. To ensure the protection of Bog butter, it is sometimes found enclosed in wooden containers or animal skin. Bog was even used by ancient people to preserve dead bodies.

The Butter which is estimated to be over 2,000 years old has gone to the Conservation Department, National Museum for research and analysis. Image source: Caravan County Museum
The Butter which is estimated to be over 2,000 years old has gone to the Conservation Department, National Museum for research and analysis. Image source: Caravan County Museum

The confounding fact is that it could also be “theoretically… still edible” according to Andy Halpin, one of the Irish National Museums’ assistant keepers. Although, it won’t be advisable to taste it before proper examination and there is little possibility of it tasting good. Also, if it’s true that it was an offering to God then one would have to figure out whether or not to eat the butter meant for Gods.

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Archaeologist Ross MacLeod commented on the quantity of butter discovered in Galway. Speaking to the Irish Times he said, “It would have been a substantial loss to the family that buried the butter in the bog that they never recovered it. Perhaps the person who buried it died or forgot where it was left…That might have been stored up by a family during the summer and put into the bog for use during the cold winter months. Its loss could have been a tremendous one for some family a long, long time ago.”

-By Pashchiema, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @pashchiema

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Researchers Develop New Framework To Select Best Trees For Fighting Air Pollution

Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth

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Trees
In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads.

In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution.

“We are all waking up to the fact that air pollution and its impact on human health and the health of our planet is the defining issue of our time,” said study researcher Prashant Kumar, Professor at the University of Surrey in the UK. “Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth,” Kumar added.

The review found that there is ample evidence of green infrastructure’s ability to divert and dilute pollutant plumes or reduce outdoor concentrations of pollutants by direct capture, where some pollutants are deposited on plant surfaces.

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As part of their critical review, the researchers identified a gap in information to help people – including urban planners, landscape architects and garden designers – make informed decisions on which species of vegetation to use and, crucially, what factors to consider when designing a green barrier. To address this knowledge gap, they identified 12 influential traits for 61 tree species that make them potentially effective barriers against pollution.

Beneficial plant properties include small leaf size, high foliage density, long in-leaf periods (e.g. evergreen or semi-evergreen), and micro-characteristics such as leaf hairiness. Generally detrimental aspects of plants for air quality include wind pollination and biogenic volatile organic compound emissions.

Air Pollution, Global Warming, Mask, Doctor, Protection
Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads. Pixabay

In the study, the team emphasised that the effectiveness of a plant is determined by its environmental context – whether, for example, it will be used in a deep (typical of a city commercial centre) or shallow (typical of a residential road) street canyon or in an open road environment.

To help concerned citizens with complex decisions, such as which tree is best for a road outside a school in a medium-sized street canyon, the research team has also developed a plant selection framework. “The use of green infrastructure as physical barriers between ourselves and pollutants originating from our roads is one promising way we can protect ourselves from the devastating impact of air pollution,” Kumar said.

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“We hope that our detailed guide to vegetation species selection and our contextual advice on how to plant and use green infrastructure is helpful to everyone looking to explore this option for combatting pollution,” he added. (IANS)