Working dogs are being trained to sniff out ancient treasures smuggled from countries such as Syria and Iraq. The pioneering US research program, K-9 Artifact Finders, has been set up in response to alarm over cultural heritage trafficking.
Dogs already play a crucial role in helping detect narcotics and explosive devices. The new program, involving the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Vet Working Dog Center, is hoping to use them to root out cultural artifacts in shipping containers, cargo crates, the post and luggage.
Dogs can already detect soil and agricultural products, said archeologist Michael Danti, who has worked in Iran, Iraq and Syria, adding that he believes that their target scents could be further refined.
The UN Security Council has confirmed that terrorists generate income from smuggling cultural property.
A “huge percentage” of the fifth-century Dura-Europos site in Syria has been excavated illegally, Danti said.
“It would take centuries for archeologists to do that much excavation scientifically. That’s just one site. We see this all over the conflict zone,” he said.
Red Arch, a non-profit group whose research includes investigating antiquities trafficking and archeological looting, is also involved in the scheme.
Group founder Rick St Hilaire said the idea of using dogs came to him after he saw a news report about a dog detecting electronics: “I thought, if dogs could detect electronics, what about antiquities?”
Cynthia Otto of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, which specializes in research on detection dogs, believes the antiquities program is unprecedented.
Dogs are rewarded with play time or food, she said.
“They absolutely love the work: That’s what is so wonderful,” she added.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed