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Nuclear physicists have claimed to have identified one of the oldest known churches in the word using advanced scanning techniques

Nuclear physicists have claimed to have identified one of the oldest known churches in the word using advanced scanning techniques.

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The mysterious structure was largely buried underground and is located within the boundaries of a medieval fortress in the Russian city of Derbent.

Experts had argued that the structure was a water tank, a church or a fire temple – but the protected status of the fort prevented archaeological excavations from being investigated.

To circumvent this, researchers use special detectors to study how subatomic particles called muons, created by cosmic rays, travel through the building.

With this muon scanning technique, researchers can reconstruct a 3D image of the outside of the underground building without digging.

Although the researchers are planning a more detailed scan, they have already shown that the outside of the building was cross-shaped and oriented north-south.

These architectural features correspond to the idea that the building was indeed a church, making it the earliest known example in Russia.

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Nuclear physicists have claimed to have identified one of the oldest known churches in the word using advanced scanning techniques

Nuclear physicists have claimed to have identified one of the oldest known churches in the word using advanced scanning techniques

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in the Russian Republic of Dagestan and dates from around 300 AD.

The building is buried almost entirely underground, with only a fragment of its semi-destroyed, wire-frame dome visible above the ground.

Physicists led by Natalia Polukhina of the Russian Academy of Sciences tested a scanning technique called muon tomography – which is basically similar to the CT scans used in hospitals – on the structure between May and September 2018.

The team placed multiple muon detectors in the largely buried building at a depth of about 33 feet (10 meters) from the surface of the fort's interior – each with & # 39; nuclear emulsion & # 39 ;, the muon equivalent of a photographic plate.

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From the images collected by the emulsion, the researchers have been able to make a three-dimensional reconstruction of what the outside of the structure would have looked like before it was buried.

The cross-shaped building extends 15 meters from north to south and 44 feet (13 m) from west to east. Each arm of the cross is approximately 16 ft (5 m) wide and three is 14 ft (4 meters) long while the fourth is more than 20 ft (6 meters) long.

Between the cross shape of the building and vaulted roofs, the researchers suggest that the structure is probably a church, so that the buried structure is not only the oldest church in Russia, but also one of the oldest known around the world.

Researchers turned to muon tomography to study the mostly buried structure because a conventional archaeological excavation would be impossible at the site given the risk of damage to the surrounding fortress, which is a UNESCO cultural heritage.

Experts believe that the building, located in the northwestern part of the fort, was covered with earth by Arabs who captured Derbent around 700 AD.

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However, the original purpose of the structure has been the subject of discussion, with a number of historical and reference texts indicating that the structure was built to serve as an underground water tank.

During the 17 – 18th century, the structure was permeated by such a use, but the researchers are skeptical that the building was designed for this purpose.

The mysterious structure was largely buried underground and is located within the boundaries of a medieval fortress in the Russian city of Derbent.

The mysterious structure was largely buried underground and is located within the boundaries of a medieval fortress in the Russian city of Derbent.

The mysterious structure was largely buried underground and is located within the boundaries of a medieval fortress in the Russian city of Derbent.

To circumvent this, researchers use special detectors to study how subatomic particles called muons, created by cosmic rays, travel through the building

To circumvent this, researchers use special detectors to study how subatomic particles called muons, created by cosmic rays, travel through the building

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To circumvent this, researchers use special detectors to study how subatomic particles called muons, created by cosmic rays, travel through the building

With this muon scanning technique, researchers can reconstruct a 3D image of the outside of the underground building without digging

With this muon scanning technique, researchers can reconstruct a 3D image of the outside of the underground building without digging

With this muon scanning technique, researchers can reconstruct a 3D image of the outside of the underground building without digging

Although the researchers are planning a more detailed scan, they have already shown that the exterior of the building was cross-shaped and oriented north-south

Although the researchers are planning a more detailed scan, they have already shown that the exterior of the building was cross-shaped and oriented north-south

Although the researchers are planning a more detailed scan, they have already shown that the exterior of the building was cross-shaped and oriented north-south

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& # 39; It seems strange to me to interpret this building as a water tank & # 39 ;, said Dr. Polukhina in a statement.

& # 39; In the same fort of Naryn-Kala there is an equal underground structure of 10 meters depth, and it really is a tank; this is just a rectangular building. & # 39;

& # 39; The unusual building in which we have placed our detectors has the shape of a cross, strictly focused on the sides of the world, one side being two meters longer than the other. & # 39;

This configuration seems more consistent with other sources suggesting that the building was a church or a fire temple – a zoroastrian place of worship.

& # 39; As the archaeologists who started excavations said, during construction, the building was completely on the surface and is at the highest point of the Naryn-Kala & # 39 ;, Dr. Polukhina added.

& # 39; What is the use of putting the tank on the surface, and even on the highest mountain? It's strange. Currently there are more questions than answers. & # 39;

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

The team placed multiple muon detectors, pictured, in the largely buried building at a depth of about 33 feet (10 meters) from the surface of the fort's interior - with each & # 39; nuclear emulsion & # 39 ;, the muon equivalent from a photographic plate
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The team placed multiple muon detectors, pictured, in the largely buried building at a depth of about 33 feet (10 meters) from the surface of the fort's interior - with each & # 39; nuclear emulsion & # 39 ;, the muon equivalent from a photographic plate

The team placed multiple muon detectors, pictured, in the largely buried building at a depth of about 33 feet (10 meters) from the surface of the fort's interior – with each & # 39; nuclear emulsion & # 39 ;, the muon equivalent from a photographic plate

The team placed multiple muon detectors, pictured, in the largely buried building at a depth of about 33 feet (10 meters) from the surface of the fort's interior - with each & # 39; nuclear emulsion & # 39 ;, the muon equivalent from a photographic plate

The team placed multiple muon detectors, pictured, in the largely buried building at a depth of about 33 feet (10 meters) from the surface of the fort's interior - with each & # 39; nuclear emulsion & # 39 ;, the muon equivalent from a photographic plate

The team placed multiple muon detectors, pictured, in the largely buried building at a depth of about 33 feet (10 meters) from the surface of the fort's interior – with each & # 39; nuclear emulsion & # 39 ;, the muon equivalent from a photographic plate

The buried structure in Naryn-Kala is not the first old building to be scanned using muon tomography.

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In 2017, researchers revealed the discovery of a huge and previously unknown room – the & # 39; great void & # 39; called – located in the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

& # 39; Although there is currently no information about the intended purpose of this void, these findings show how modern particle physics can shed new light on & # 39; the world's archaeological heritage, & # 39; the team had in their Nature paper.

In addition to forming a rough picture of the structure of the church, the team also recorded an anomaly in the distribution of muons passing through the western wing of the building, which they think is a kind of architectural feature.

Although the results of the study are revealing, the research was only meant as a first step – one to determine the best optical exposure and the optimal configuration of detectors for scanning this specific building.

The reliability of using muon tomography at Naryn-Kala was not certain for the test, with the shelly limestone walls and the density similarity between the buried structure and the surrounding church with the potential to present problems.

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With this first step a resounding success, the researchers are now planning a full scan of the building, with which they can determine the full contours of the buried structure.

To improve the final scan of the structure, the researchers will install additional detectors on the western slope of the fort.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Applied Science.

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

The mysterious half-buried structure, long claimed to be a water tank, is located within the walls of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the city of Derbent in Dagestan

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