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Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs -

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    #MythicMovieMonsters  – Minotaurs - Ancient Blogger:

    Yeah, he looks like a warning against Gruffalo cousins marrying but he’s a Minotaur from a 60s film. Read more about Minotaurs in film on my latest website piece.

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    "I've found lots of gold, it's always wonderful'
    Karen Till BDMDC

    The latest number of British Archaeology has a thought-provoking article in the section called 'my archaeology'. It is an interview with an artefact hunter. Readers who know me would expect me to be fuming about that, collecting historical artefacts of metal is not in any way archaeology. But that I'll leave aside now because I am intrigued by 'what the author [apparently] had in mind' - by which I mean the interviewer.

    Up to now the CBA has had a pretty laissez faire attitude to Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record with the use of metal detectors, but this article seems to me to have a hidden message - coming on the wake of the RESCUE policy document, that might be good news. Or is it just a temporary aberration in a two-decades long spate of the CBA shying away from rocking the boat when it comes to Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record (which the CBA call 'metal detecting' and continually represent as some warped form of self-serving 'archaeology for all').

    The text is called 'Walking across history, absolute history' (CBA British Archaeology magazine Jan-Feb 2019 number, page twelve), and you wonder what the writer of the text (Mike Pitts) had in mind quoting that adjective - is it used here in the sense 'not qualified or diminished in any way' (like directly received, not through 'book learning')? It seems to me that the writer might be tongue-in-cheek from the very beginning. 

    The full-page text is an interview with Karen Till, chair of the Brentwood and District metal Detecting Club in Essex. The lady (calls herself a 'chairman') is reportedly in her early sixties and started detecting ten years ago because she had nothing else to do, it says.  She had started artefact hunting in her teens (so, early 1970s probably), gave it up and then started again (she says) after watching the 'Detectorists' comedy TV series. The article's tagline reads 'She'd be outside searching every day, if she could'. Of the club itself, she says: ' We have a monthly club meeting, we should have 80 to 90 people there. we're a very popular club, about 130 [...]' and they have a waiting list. So how many finds does the Essex FLO get to record from the monthly haul of those 130 people and what do they mean? How successful is the PAS approach being in instilling 'responsibility' and 'best practice'? The perspective of this club is telling. After talking about the fantastic venue they have for the monthly meetings of over 100 tekkies and the new projector for slides, she blurts out:
    'We have  an expert who comes as well, he's a dealer. He sits in a corner and people ask for things to be ID'ed, and if they are interested in selling (sic) he'll offer them a price. A finds liaison officer (sic) comes every three months, although we're trying out a new system where one of our members is taking the Flo's (sic) place and she'll be liaising with them. [Italicisation in original]
    Wow. Well that is not how the PAS is supposed to be working, is it? So, basically what goes into the PAS database are the dregs, collectables that the dealer did not want. What on earth is happening over there in Darkest Essex? (I have to be careful discussing metal detecting policy in my home county, my local FLO might have the police on me again for discussing it: Another PAS 'Liaison' First). How persuasive the PAS drive to get 'best practice', once every three months can be judged by the further comments: 
    'People in our club range (sic) enormously. You've got the old timers in their 70s and 80s. This was their club for 30 years and suddenly these youngsters are coming in. They're very suspicious. They would never put anything in the finds cabinet. When they started detecting, there was no Portable Antiquities Scheme, and what you found you kept, you know? You'll never, ever change them'. 
    Also: "Nighthawks do exist, we've probably even got some in our club. It is totally frowned upon and people are very very wary" [of what is not quite explained, perhaps of putting things in finds cabinets].  She claims that, in contrast to the oldies, the 'newbies' will 'do absolutely everything right. They want to report everything to the Flo (sic). They want everything ID'ed [...] they are the future'. She does not explain whether its the oldies that go to the dealer, or whether the newbies in their haste to get 'everything IDed', will ask the dealer for their opinion on the days the FLO is absent. But the club's chair herself...
    'I am in the middle, I report Treasure items, I'm not so good at other things, mainly because of time and logistics. That's my concern [...]'.
    Well, in fact it is everyone's. She's taking stuff for herself and by not allowing it to be properly recorded, she is stealing (no other word for it - thought the Ixelles gang wants to represent it as 'borrowing')  archaeological knowledge from everyone else. So, in fact Ms Till is basically acting like the irresponsible Old-Timers' she has just criticised. So she reports only what she's obliged to by law (and there's a reward for that). Irrespective of that the interviewer allows her to start being preachy:
    'I think there is so much being missed. It's coins.  Coins are so important, because they actually show that people walked across that particular land, that era of people were there. What was he (sic) doing? Where was he (sic) going?'
    Reminder, this is darkest Essex, not the surface of the Moon. The presence of man in the past in Essex is shown by so much more than dropped small change - the very landscape itself and the field boundaries, hedgerows and much else are ample proof of that if you know how to read them. But apparently Ms Till needs a coin with somebody's picture and name on it to feel that  "that era of people were there". Pathetic. PAS, where is your 'outreach' leading? After her object-fuelled romanticised musings about past lives, the coin fondler goes on:
    'But people just dont bother about single coins. More could be done to encourage detectorists to record them, but I don't think the Flos (sic) would ever cope. There'd be so much more (sic) markers on the archaeological map if more coins were actually recorded, but how you get that, I don't know'.
    By apparently focussing on finding and reporting - or not - coins, Ms Till and her 130 members, 'walking across history, absolute history' are blithely walking across and walking into but missing a whole lot of information about the sites they are hoiking and pocketing from. Most archaeological site assemblages produce vast artefactual assemblages, of which those of metal are often only a fraction (oddly enough, actual statistics on this are pretty elusive) and of these coins will be a smaller fraction. Yet if we look at the PAS database we find that there are some 670,000 coins on the PAS database (that's about half the database!). I've talked recently about this here: 'The Archaeological Values of the PAS Database (VI): Hauntings, Heads on Poles, Imaginary Data and Clipping, Reporting Archaeological Artefacts PAS-Style' .   As an archaeologist, Mike Pitts, and all the archaeologist readers of the BA magazine will be well aware that the archaeological evidence from the sites the BDMDC hoik collectable from consists of much, much, more than showing 'that people walked across that particular land, that era of people were there' through one specific class of artefact (dropped or deposited small change). Though money may be central to the mindsets of many Brits today, there is more to the past than that.

    But that brings us to commercial artefact hunts. Ms Till talks about a 'club dig' they held at an undisclosed location - they had a search and take agreement with the landowner for 77 acres (just over 30 hectares) and there were 38 people ('you could barely see somebody [sic], it was so big') and they were using facebook to communicate across the field. But 38 people scattered randomly over an area that size is not going to allow a systematic search and even coverage, so any pattern of finds from plotting them is only going to reflect the collecting activity and not the nature of the underlying patterning of archaeological evidence across that area - which is therefore being destroyed with no meaningful record. 
    An uncoordinated commercial artefact grabfest - site destruction in progress

    On the matter of the commercialisation of artefact grabbing, Ms Till says:
     'we are happy to pay to detect. A lot of people do it to make money. I'm happy to keep it maybe half the price of what everybody else is charging and give the whole lot to the landowner. We have agreements with all of our farmers, so that anything over the  value of  £500 which is not treasure is split 50/50 [...] Anybody can make money from detecting. look on eBay, you'll see the proof. Some guy has found 60 hammered coins within two to three months. He'll keep the best ones, but the others will be sold. He might get ten to 20 quid for them and that bit of history has gone [...]"
    So 'we' are not in it for the money, but lots are, in fact. Everybody knows, everybody pretends. 

    The article should perhaps have been titled: 'Walking off with history....'.

    UPDATE 30th Dec 2018

    I'll just put this reply up here, make of it what you will in the context of what's above:
    Mike Pitts podał/a dalej Paul Barford
    Hi Paul, pleased you enjoyed the new British Archaeology! I won't comment on what the interviewee says as she speaks for herself, but note that i'm not "the author". The words are all Karen Till's, and I talked to her because she speaks well for many we should listen to more.

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    A newly-identified Recumbent Stone Circle has been recorded on a farm in Aberdeenshire (Scotland), in the parish of Leochel-Cushnie.

    Despite being a complete stone circle that has obviously been known and respected by those who have farmed the area over the years, it has been unknown to archaeologists until now. The site was reported to Aberdeenshire Council's Archaeology Service by Fiona Bain, whose family have farmed in the area for generations.

    Neil Ackerman, Historic Environment Record Assistant at Aberdeenshire Council, visited the site along with Adam Welfare, Alison McCaig and Katrina Gilmour from Historic Environment Scotland (Survey and Recording). While fitting the Recumbent Stone Circle model, this is a slightly unusual example, they say.

    Describing the monument, Mr Welfare said: "In numbering ten stones it fits the average, but its diameter is about three meters smaller than any known hitherto and it is unusual in that all the stones are proportionately small. It is orientated SSW and enjoys a fine outlook in that direction, while the rich lichen cover on the stones is indicative of the ring's antiquity."

    Mr Ackerman added: "It is rare for these sites to go unidentified for so long, especially in such a good condition."

    Recumbent Stone Circles were constructed around 3,500-4,500 years ago and are unique to the north east of Scotland. Their defining feature is a large horizontal stone (the recumbent) flanked by two upright stones, usually situated between the south-east to south-west of the circle. They are well known and spread throughout the north east of Scotland, but it is rare to find a previously unrecorded one, especially in such a complete condition

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    Archaeologists have accused Highways England of accidentally drilling a large hole through a 6,000-year-old structure near Stonehenge during preparatory work for a tunnel. The drilling, which is alleged to have taken place at Blick Mead, around a mile and a half from the world-famous neolithic ring of stones, has enraged archaeologists, who say engineers have dug a three-meter-deep hole (10ft) through a man-made platform of flint and animal bone.

    Highways England have said they are not aware of any damage to archaeological layers on the site caused by their work and will meet with the archaeological team led by David Jacques, a senior research fellow at the University of Buckingham.

    Before the drilling incidents, archaeologists were concerned that the construction of a tunnel and a flyover near the site will cause the water table to drop, damaging remains preserved in water-logged ground. The Highways Agency agreed to monitor water levels as part of the project.

    The 6,000-year-old platform through which a hole has been drilled preserved the hoof prints of an aurochs, giant prehistoric cattle that are now extinct.

    Jacques said: "This is a travesty. We took great care to excavate this platform and the aurochs' hoof prints. We believe hunters considered this area to be a sacred place even before Stonehenge. These monster cows - double the size of normal cattle - provided food for 300 people, so were revered. It the tunnel goes ahead the water table will drop and all the organic remains will be destroyed. It may be that there are footprints here which would be the earliest tangible signs of life at Stonehenge. If the remains aren't preserved we may never be able to understand why Stonehenge was built."

    Blick Mead is part of the Stonehenge and Avebury Unesco world heritage. A Highways England spokesperson said: "We are not aware of any damage being caused to archaeological layers. We notified Prof David Jacques of the locations of our water table monitoring, and have adhered to guidelines in carrying out the work. Our assessments so far indicate that construction of the scheme will have no significant effects on the Blick Mead area, and we are undertaking this further hydrogeological investigation.

    Edited from The Guardian (6 December 2018)
    [1 image]

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    Significant new discoveries have been made during ongoing excavations at Akrotiri, on the Aegean island of Santorini, about 120 kilometers north of Crete and 230 kilometers southeast of Athens, Greece.

    Inside rectangular clay chests were a marble proto cycladic female figurine, two small marble proto cycladic collared jars, a marble vial, and an alabaster vase. The chests were uncovered beneath rubble in a large building known as the "House of Desks", near an important public building decorated with rich murals at the southern edge of the settlement where the golden ibex now on display at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera was found in a clay chest beside a heap of animal horns in 1999.

    According to archaeologists, the latest finds are undoubtedly related to the perceptions and beliefs of the ancient society of Thera - the official name of Santorini - and pose key questions about the ideology and possibly the religion of that prehistoric society.

    Edited from Greek Reporter, Tornos News (12 October 2018)
    [4 images]
    [6 images]

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     [First posted in AWOL 13 June 2014, updated 30 December 2018]

    Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies

    Nubian studies needs a platform in which the old meets the new, in which archaeological, papyrological, and philological research into Meroitic, Old Nubian, Coptic, Greek, and Arabic sources confront current investigations in modern anthropology and ethnography, Nilo-­Saharan linguistics, and critical and theoretical approaches present in post­colonial and African studies.

    The journal Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies brings these disparate fields together within the same fold, opening a cross­-cultural and diachronic field where divergent approaches meet on common soil. Dotawo gives a common home to the past, present, and future of one of the richest areas of research in African studies. It offers a crossroads where papyrus can meet internet, scribes meet critical thinkers, and the promises of growing nations meet the accomplishments of old kingdoms.

    We embrace a powerful alternative to the dominant paradigms of academic publishing. We believe in free access to information. Accordingly, we are proud to collaborate with DigitalCommons@Fairfield, an institutional repository of Fairfield University in Connecticut, USA, and with open-access publishing house punctum books. Thanks to these collaborations, every volume of Dotawo will be available both as a free online pdf and in online bookstores.
    Volume 5 (2018) Nubian Women


    An Old Nubian Letter from the Daughter of an Eparch
    Vincent van Gerven Oei and Alexandros Tsakos

    Volume 4 (2017)

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    ANCIENT MAKERSPACES 2019: Digital Tools for Ancient World Study

    For the third year running…
    About Ancient MakerSpaces
    Almost all research, teaching, and scholarly communication in ancient studies today bears the imprint of digital technology in some way, yet the growing number of projects and the rapid rate of technological development present a distinct challenge for scholars who are interested in taking advantage of advances in the digital humanities.
    This workshop is a space for students and scholars to interact with a variety of digital techniques and digital projects of broad application, providing participants the opportunity to engage in hands-on, peer-based learning.
    Experienced digital humanists from various disciplines within ancient studies have developed demonstration curricula and will coordinate teams of trained demonstrators for each workshop station. The emphasis will be on learning to do things of immediate utility to scholarship and pedagogy. The workshop is comprised of five demonstrations and a series of lightning talks; together they will present techniques and projects dedicated to:
    • mapping
    • text tagging, annotating, searching, and editing
    • epigraphic squeezes
    • podcasting
    • collaborative commentaries
    • and more…

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    To judge from the weekend roundups compiled here, there is always something interesting being discovered or announced. The difficulty can be that there is too much, and it becomes challenging to recall what is most important out of the constant barrage.

    The list below comes from stories noted in the weekend roundups. Some of the artifacts were made in previous years, but only announced in 2018. For each item, I suggest a reason for its significance. I don’t deny a bias towards objects and sites more closely related to the Bible.

    1. A copper alloy ring bearing the inscription “of Pilatus” may have belonged to an administrator who served Pontius Pilate. Though excavated at the Herodium many years ago, its significance was only recently discovered. Why is this in my top 10? Artifacts with names of biblical figures are relatively rare, and Pilate played a major role in the crucifixion of Jesus.

    2. A seal impression that belonged to a man named Isaiah was discovered in Jerusalem. Why is this in my top 10? Though there’s good reasonto doubt that this is the prophet by the same name, we still have the convergence of name (Isaiah), city (Jerusalem), and date (8th century BC).

    3. A glazed ceramic head from Tel Abel Beth Maacah that dates to the 9th century BC may depict a royal official. Why is this in my top 10? I’m less convinced by the claim that this depicts an Israelite king than I am by the quality of this colorful work of art. That’s rare enough among the Israelites that you don’t need a royal connection to argue for its significance.

    4. Excavations of Kiriath Jearim revealed a large platform that is 110 by 150 meters in size, with walls preserved 6 to 7 m high. Why is this in my top 10? You don’t have to believe the archaeologist’s wild theories to recognize that this is a major building project at a site we knew almost nothing about.

    5. An undisturbed Canaanite tomb from the 17th century BC was discovered at Megiddo. Why is this in my top 10? I’m a sucker for undisturbed tombs, and it doesn’t hurt that this one was next to the royal palace.

    6. The Galilean synagogue at Huqoq continues to produce beautiful, biblical mosaics, including a scene of the Israelite spies, a youth leading an animal, and a fragmentary Hebrew inscription reading “Amen selah.” Why is this in my top 10? I’m a big fan of ancient depictions of biblical scenes, as you might have guessed from my dream to create the Photo Companion to the Bible.

    7. More than 1,000 Hellenistic-era seal impressions were discovered in excavations at Maresha. Why is this in my top 10? For a country that has so relatively few inscriptions preserved, this is an enormous trove that will bear fruitful study for many years to come.

    8. An inscription at a site on Israel’s coast provides evidence for Babylonians living in Samaria after the fall of Jerusalem. Why is this in my top 10? This discovery helps to fill in details for an all-too-elusive period in the historical and archaeological record.

    9. Excavations of Ein Hanya uncovered an Israelite royal capital (proto-Aeolic?), a 4th century Greek drachma, and a Byzantine pool system. Why is this in my top 10? Israelite royal capitals stir the imagination, and Ein Hanya has been off everyone’s radar until now.

    10. Archaeologists discovered a 5th-Dynasty tomb in Saqqara, Egypt, that has never been looted. Why is this in my top 10? Top 10 lists need 10 items. Besides, the photos are impressive.

    Honorable mention:

    Others have created their own top ten lists, including Gordon Govier (Christianity Today), Bryan Windle, Christopher Eames, Ruth Schuster #1 and #2 (Haaretz), Amanda Borschel-Dan (Times of Israel), and J-P Mauro (Aleteia). The Epoch Times’s list covers the world.

    Those we lost in 2018 include Philip Davies, Gary Knoppers, Jack P. Lewis, John McRay, Richard Rigsby, Ephraim Stern, James F. Strange, and Ada Yardeni.

    New releases from this year were Ruth, Psalm 23, and Persia. Get all three volumes at a discount.

    You can revisit the top stories of previous years at the links below:

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    I’ll end the year by rounding up the top ten most visited posts on my blog during 2018. I’m delighted that the #1 destination on the blog is actually the front page, meaning a lot of people come here not because of a link they came across on social media as their first point of […]

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    An Israeli woman walking near ancient ruins noticed a head sticking out of the ground, leading to...

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    An ancient stone tablet bearing a historic inscription of the Resolution of Nikouria, dating back to...

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    [First posted in AWOL 23 February 2011. Most recently updated 31 December 2018]

    Kernos - Revue internationale et pluridisciplinaire de religion grecque antique
    ISSN électronique 2034-7871

    Kernos - Couverture du no 23 | 2010
    Kernos est la seule revue scientifique internationale entièrement consacrée à l’étude des faits et phénomènes religieux de la Grèce antique. Elle a pour ambition de fournir aux chercheurs en ce domaine, mais aussi à toute personne intéressée par les questions religieuses, un instrument de réflexion et des outils de travail pour progresser dans la connaissance du système religieux des Grecs.
    Actuellement, les textes des numéros 1 à 17 sont uniquement accessibles au format pdf [fac-similé], librement téléchargeables.

    EBGR - Index

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    2018 was a busy year for archaeologists working in the area of Turkey. Almost 350 archaeological excavations and around 50 rescue missions were carried out, with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism that provided 26 mln liras. Below you will find an overview of the most important discoveries in the country.

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    The formation processes that produce the surface context studied through intensive pedestrian survey are really annoying. They hide things that you know MUST be there (like Late Roman material on a prominent coastal height overlooking a Roman to Late Roman settlement). They make visible things that have no rational explanation (like the famous one sherd of Classical black-slipped pottery on a lonesome hillside). Various formation processes scramble and smear and move and interrupt and complicate assemblages across the landscape and force survey archaeologists to keep stepping back and back and back until the picture comes into a kind of blurry focus. Outliers are noted, but major patterns become the basis for analysis.

    This past week, I’ve been working on an article with Grace Erny on the houses of Chelmis in the Argolid which we are study as part of the Western Argolid Regional Proect. Grace is going to give a paper on our preliminary results at the annual Archaeological Institute of America meeting next week (check out a list of all the WARP papers here). These are “Early Modern” to “Modern” period houses around which we conducted intensive survey in 2016. To get a sense for the impact of the houses on the distribution of artifacts in their immediate vicinity, we did 10 m of very intensive documentation counting all the roof tiles, ceramic artifacts, and other objects around the houses. We grouped our survey into three units on each side: one of 2 m in width walked by a single walker and two of 4 m in width walked by 2 walks. These units produced largely consistent patter of a 65% percent drop off between the 2 m unit and the first 4 meter unit and then a 25% drop off between the first and the second 4 m unit.


    Not every house produced this distribution, but it was consistent enough both at Chelmis and at the two other sites where we conducted intensive survey to qualify as a pattern. And this is worthy of note in a universe where the trickeration of formation processes often makes any small scale patterning of artifact densities in the landscape either rare or suspect.

    Hoping that all your survey assemblages pattern predictably in the new year! 

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  • 12/31/18--07:33: A 2019 Bible-reading plan
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    Studies of ancient skeletons suggest anthropology holds lessons for the new year.

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  • 12/31/18--08:12: BHD 2018 top ten
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    From approximately A.D. 450-1400, a Native American group known today as the Hohokam overcame a harsh desert environment along with periodic droughts and floods to settle and farm much of modern Arizona. They managed this feat by collectively maintaining an extensive infrastructure of canals with collaborative labor.

    New archaeological excavations by Desert Archaeology, Inc., carried out in advance of land development north of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport, resulted in a detailed new look at the repair and maintenance of two Hohokam canals fed by the neighboring Salt River. The research was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Field Archaeology by Drs. Gary Huckleberry, T. Kathleen Henderson and Paul R. Hanson.

    The excavations of these canal systems revealed a complex record of sedimentation that required substantial analysis to both delineate the evidence for major flooding and to determine when that flooding occurred. In his previous research, Huckleberry has investigated sedimentation patterns found in modern canal systems that can be directly tied to historically documented floods, thereby creating a strong comparative dataset to identify flooding in prehistoric contexts. The sediments found in the Hohokam canals excavated by Desert Archaeology, Inc., showed all the signs of poorly sorted sandy deposits and clasts of fine-grained material mixed by turbulent flows that Huckleberry had seen in historic contexts.

    The archaeology team was able to date the Hohokam canals and flooding events based on a combination of classic and novel archaeological methods. Previous research in the region had relied on the stylistic analysis of pottery found in association with the canals to provide an approximate date for their use. The new excavations, however, were able to employ optically stimulated luminescence dating methods that reveal how long-ago quartz sand particles were heated by the fiery desert sun. With this new dating technique, the researchers were able to identify three distinct damaging floods that occurred between A.D. 1000 and 1400.

    After each flood the Native American communities that relied upon the canal system to irrigate their fields banded together to repair the canal intakes, clear the channels of accumulated sediments, and repair canal walls and berms. Responding to disasters, however, strains social systems, even in the best of times.

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