Thought I would take a slight detour from all the seriousness of late (most of which I haven’t been posting about here, but will at some point) and examine a bit of pop cultural evolution and other delights. I speak (again, as it turns out) of one of the most famous album covers of all time, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights:
It might be described as the album cover that launched a million mid-life crises (or pubertys). Go into nearly any home occupied by a man in his 60’s and up today and you will probably find a copy of it, probably barely played (I know, I’ve looked at many). Occasionally you’ll find one or two other HA&TB albums but most likely this will be the only one. I admit it: Even my own family had one (did Dad instigate buying it? Surely). I will also admit that I actually loved the album even before the ol’ hormones kicked in and I came to fully appreciate what was on the outside as well as what was coming out of the speakers. Part of that probably came from my playing the trumpet, but I think I still would have taken to it. It’s fun music.
Turns out the model used for the cover, Dolores Erickson, has something of a local (to me) connection, living here in Washington State, which I first became aware of here (note the update). Since I’ve started playing my old horn again, I’ve had the old HA&TB albums out playing them for songs that I can start learning. And while searching for sheet music I started coming across various WC&ODs. . . .paraphernalia. Mostly take-offs on the cover. Doing a more complete search, I came up with quite a lot of them (many not fit for a family-friendly blog such as this).
And it got me wondering: Could this be the most copied album covers of all time? I was all set to create The Definitive Compendium of WC&ODs, but found that. . . . .someone else had already done so. Here are a few of my favorites anyway, but follow the link to see the full panoply.
Excavation of World’s Oldest Subway Tunnel Remains Blocked
An appellate court ruled last week that the city was within its rights to block Bob Diamond from accessing the circa-1844 Long Island Rail Road tunnel he discovered in 1980, striking another blow to the rail buff’s efforts to continue his decades-long excavation of the historic tunnel, named the world’s oldest subway tunnel by the “Guinness Book of World Records.”
There’s really not much there and I hesitated to link to this because the picture is pretty unclear just what is going on. From a couple of the links there, it seems to have a lot of political intrigue going on.
Did a Volcanic Cataclysm 40,000 Years Ago Trigger the Final Demise of the Neanderthals?
The Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) eruption in Italy 40,000 years ago was one of the largest volcanic cataclysms in Europe and injected a significant amount of sulfur-dioxide (SO2) into the stratosphere. Scientists have long debated whether this eruption contributed to the final extinction of the Neanderthals. This new study by Benjamin A. Black and colleagues tests this hypothesis with a sophisticated climate model.
Black and colleagues write that the CI eruption approximately coincided with the final decline of Neanderthals as well as with dramatic territorial and cultural advances among anatomically modern humans. Because of this, the roles of climate, hominin competition, and volcanic sulfur cooling and acid deposition have been vigorously debated as causes of Neanderthal extinction.
As they note, Neanderthals had been declining before that, which is somewhat similar to the north american megafaunal extinctions so a single causative factor (e.g., hunting in that case) is hard to pin down.
After all the initial hoopla. . .more hoopla! King Richard III begins final journey to the battlefield where he died 530 years ago
On Sunday, Richard’s coffin left the University of Leicester where it has been since the remarkable discovery, accompanied by the team who made the find, in a hearse to Fenn Lane Farm in the village of Dadlington, the site believed to be the closest to his death.
Richard fell fighting to hold onto his crown against the invading forces of Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII. William Shakespeare famously depicted him going down fighting shouting “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”
Philippa Langley, a screenwriter who led the search for Richard III, said it was the end of an “extraordinary journey”.
I rather like the fact that they’re taking him past the battlefield. Makes for nice closure.
Argentine archaeologists find secret Nazi lair in jungle
A team of Argentine archaeologists investigating a series of ruins in the jungle, close to the border with Paraguay, believe they have discovered a secret Nazi lair.
The cluster of stone structures, now covered by thick vines and accessible only when using a machete to cut through the undergrowth, contain stashes of German coins from the late 1930s, fragments of “Made in Germany” porcelain, and Nazi symbols on the walls.
“We can find no other explanation as to why anyone would build these structures, at such great effort and expense, in a site which at that time was totally inaccessible, away from the local community, with material which is not typical of the regional architecture,” said Daniel Schavelzon, leader of the team.
Color me skeptical. The buildings just don’t strike me as something anyone would build in the 20th century. I would guess a more likely scenario is that older existing buildings were used as a hideout for a time by recalcitrant Nazis after the war.
500,000-Year-Old Stone Tools, Butchered Elephant Bones Found in Israel
Which is cool. But the really cool thing is:
In the new PLoS ONE paper, the archaeologists report the surprising discovery of the butchered straight-tusk elephant remains in association with two stone tools 500,000 years old: a biface (56 mm in length, 48 mm wide and 16 mm thick) and a scraper (44 mm in length, 36 mm wide and 20 mm thick).
“At the Revadim quarry, a wonderfully preserved site a half-million years old, we found butchered animal remains, including an elephant rib bone which had been neatly cut by a stone tool, alongside flint hand axes and scrapers still retaining animal fat,” said Prof Ran Barkai of the Tel Aviv University’s Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures, who is the senior author on the paper.
All sorts of cool stuff.
T.Rex soft tissue
For more than a century, the study of dinosaurs has been limited to fossilized bones. Now, researchers have recovered 70 million-year-old soft tissue, including what may be blood vessels and cells, from a Tyrannosaurus rex.
If scientists can isolate proteins from the material, they may be able to learn new details of how dinosaurs lived, said lead researcher Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University.
“We’re doing a lot of stuff in the lab right now that looks promising,” she said in a telephone interview. But, she said, she does not know yet if scientists will be able to isolate dinosaur DNA from the materials.
It will eventually be done.
with doing commercial archaeology is that I can’t often post about what it is I’m doing. Nondisclosure and such, not to mention tribes not wanting anything archaeological going out there on the Interwebs where people might see it and go loot it.
Nevertheless, part of the reason posting’s been light is that the last couple weeks have been hectic. The problem is that a client is trying to build a house on an actual, known shell midden site. With burials. That makes it very complex and also very sensitive. I have a couple of observations. First, I have to admit that, as much as I want to see the archaeological record protected, I want to see the 5th amendment protected. So I’m very uncomfortable with any government agency forcing landowners to pay thousands of dollars to mitigate or “encourage” them not to do things with their property. If it’s not materially affecting anyone else, they should be able to do what they want with their property.
Second, human remains are another issue. It’s easy to take the tribes to task for demanding that an entire site’s worth of sediment be screened for every scrap of human bone. But then, I imagine what would happen were a settler cemetery to have been discovered, perhaps even heavily disturbed in the last century at some point. I would bet most people would argue that we should expend a decent amount of effort to recover and rebury their remains as well. Still, I would rather see the tribes man and pay for at least a portion of the process. Recovering human remains isn’t a job for archaeologists, and I again don’t think it’s fair to have a landowner shoulder all of the costs.
But then, I can’t really talk about this in too much detail or show photos to you guys or anything. I wish I could, but we’re often on private property and such. But I think in the future I’ll try to talk about some of the things we’re doing on a daily basis.
Anthropologist offers possible explanation for collapse of ancient city of Teotihuacan
Linda Manzanilla, an anthropologist with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México has published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offering a possible explanation for the collapse of the early central Mexican city of Teotihuacan—she believes it was due to clashes between groups with differing economic interests.
The ruins of Teotihuacan can be seen today at a location approximately 30 miles northeast of modern Mexico City, and offer testament to the flourishing metropolis that once was home to approximately 125,000 people, making it the most populous city in the pre-Columbia Americas. The city got its start around 100 BCE, but was completely decimated by the eighth century. Why it collapsed has been a subject of debate among historians and anthropologists for several years. In this new effort, Manzanilla suggests it was not drought or invaders that brought down the great city, but internal strife among its inhabitants.
Actually, I don’t have a while to say about this.