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2,550-year-old inscription reveals Mesopotamia’s ancient footprint on Arabian Peninsula



By S.Ravi

New Delhi, July 29: An important inscription has been recovered in Saudi Arabia recently which assumes historical significance as it could shed light on the ancient ties and historical bonds between the Arabian Peninsula and its ancient neighbours, namely Mesopotamia.

According to a report published in in Saudi Arabia researchers have discovered a sixth-century B.C.E. rock carving of the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus.

The archaeologists from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, according to a report by Arab News, discovered this inscription. The 2,550-year-old inscription was found in the Al-Hadeed Governorate which lies in Saudi Arabia’s northern Hail region, is engraved on a basalt stone.

The official statement released by the authorities gives a fair description of the carvings. It states that the carving contains 26 lines of cuneiform writing. Thereby giving it the singular distinction of being the longest cuneiform inscription discovered in Saudi Arabia so far. The importance of the carving lies in the fact that it will help scholars and historians understand the ties that existed in the past between those living in the Peninsula and the neighbouring Mesopotamia.

The inscription etched on the rock depicts the King of Babylon, standing and holding a sceptre in his hand. In front of the Emperor, four symbols hover around and these are that of a crescent moon, the sun, a snake and a flower.

The experts and scholars feel that these images are of religious significance. They are still trying to determine what exactly these etchings mean and signify and for that they are comparing it to other ones of similar nature that have been discovered earlier.

The History Blog, suggested that these markings may be possibly tied and connected with the deities in the Mesopotamian pantheon. Thus they stand for the star of Ishtar, the winged disc of the sun god Shamash and the crescent of the moon deity Sin.

Owen Jarus in Live Science mentioned the importance of the location from where the inscription was found. It was discovered in the town of Al Hait, which in the past used to be known as Fadak. According to Jarus, Al Hait is home to the ruins of fortresses, rock art and water installations.

According to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage the site holds “great significance,” as it boasts of an early history that is spread for a period beginning in the first millennium B.C.E. through the beginning of the Islamic era. Earlier too researchers have found in this region inscriptions and obelisks which mention Nabonidus, who was the ruler of Babylonia from 556 to 539 B.C.E., before his rule was finished when the kingdom fell to Cyrus of Persia, according to Arab News report.

When the Babylonian Empire was its zenith, it was spread out from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. With Nabonidus assuming power of the kingdom, portions of what is presently in Saudi Arabia were also captured by him.

After assuming power, four years later, Nabonidus announced his son Belshazzar as coregent. Thereafter, he went into exile in Tayma, a city which is located about 160 miles north of Al Hait. According to Live Science he stayed in Tayma until around 543 B.C.E.

Experts and historians are not sure as to what made Nabonidus leave Babylon. On this aspect, Arkeonews stated that it was his “self-imposed exile from political and religious authority”. This according to Arkeonews may have been the result of a coup.

A reason for Nabonidus’ departure could have been disputes between the clergy and Babylon’s elite. History Blog suggests that by declaring the moon god to be superior to all other gods and deities, Nabonidus had attempted to alter the religious hierarchy of his people. This move on his part may have angered and irritated the nobility.

There is not much known about Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king. This includes what happened to him after Babylon fell to Cyrus. According to Encyclopedia Britannica Nabonidus was captured by a general of Cyrus and exiled.

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BYJU’S announces launch of new innovation hub



New Delhi, Oct 5: Edtech company BYJU’S on Tuesday announced the launch of BYJU’S Lab — an innovation hub based out of the UK, the US and India.

The hub will redefine the role of technology in learning and transform powerful ideas into solutions.

It will create an exciting and fulfilling environment for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) professionals, both experienced as well as new graduates.

For the new venture, BYJU’S will hire AI and ML specialists in the UK, the US and India, who will focus on projects with longer gestation cycles that involve deep analysis to gain valuable insights into the learning habits of children.

“By combining the ability of computing, technology, and data, we at BYJU’S Lab want to explore the power of information and technology to create a more personalised, enhanced, and democratised learning,” BYJU’S Chief Innovation and Learning Officer Dev Roy said, in a statement.

“As we continue to grow and experiment, we will operate at the intersection of business and technology to make innovation real and relevant for our end-customers. We are looking at strengthening our team and look forward to working with bright and curious minds to transform the way children learn,” Roy added.

The company is also paving the way for geography agnostic learning tools that sit at the intersection of mobile, interactive content, and personalised learning methodology.

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Hubble spots spiral galaxy with celestial eye



Washington, Oct 4: The Hubble Space Telescope, an international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), has detected a spiral galaxy around 130 million light-years from Earth that showcases a celestial eye.

Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) captured the galaxy — NCG 5728 — which appears to be an elegant and luminous, an ESA statement said.

WFC3 is extremely sensitive to visible and infrared light and thus beautifully captured the regions of NGC 5728 that are emitting light at those wavelengths.

However, there are many other types of light that galaxies such as NGC 5728 emit, which the WFC3 cannot see.

NGC 5728 is also a monumentally energetic type of galaxy, known as a Seyfert galaxy.

Powered by their active cores, Seyfert galaxies are an extremely energetic class of galaxies known as active galactic nuclei (AGNs). This AGNs at its core shines bright due to the gas and dust hurled around its central black hole.

There are many different types of AGNs, but Seyfert galaxies are distinguished from other galaxies with AGNs because the galaxy itself is clearly seen, ESA said.

Other AGNs, such as quasars, emit so much radiation that it is almost impossible to observe the galaxy that houses them.

In the new image “NGC 5728 is clearly observable, and at visible and infrared wavelengths it looks quite normal”, ESA said.

“It is fascinating to know that the galaxy’s center is emitting vast amounts of light in parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that WFC3 just isn’t sensitive to! Just to complicate things, the AGN at NGC 5728’s core might actually be emitting some visible and infrared light — but it may be blocked by the dust surrounding the galaxy’s core,” the statement said.

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UP cabinet expansion to see 7 new faces, allies to be accommodated



Lucknow: Cabinet expansion of the Yogi government will take place on September 27 with seven new ministers taking oath of the office. This is the second cabinet expansion of the Yogi government.

Earlier on August 22, 2019, the Yogi cabinet was expanded for the first time. This expansion is being done keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly elections in 2022, in which the focus will be on creating caste equations.

Sanjay Nishad, A K Sharma, Jitin Prasad, Paltu Ram, Sanjay Gaur, Dharamveer Prajapati, former cabinet minister Chetan Chauhan’s wife Sangeeta Chauhan are among some names likely to get a place in UP’s new cabinet. At present, the Yogi government has 53 ministers including 23 cabinet ministers, nine ministers of state (independent charge) and 21 ministers of state. So, it can accommodate seven more.

The expansion would also indicate how the BJP prefers to deal with its allies ahead of the UP assembly elections. It is most likely that both allies Apna Dal (Sonelal) and the Nishad Party could be accommodated in the Yogi ministry. Leaders with a clean track record are expected to be given priority in the election year.

All discussions on the subject have reportedly been held with chief minister Yogi Adityanath and other senior UP leaders, including state BJP chief Swatantra Dev and general secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal.

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