It’s that time again, off to a short vacation. First one in over a year. Will be out at the Olympic Peninsula again. Be back sometime in a week or 10 days.
In the meantime, enjoy this short series of photographs of preserved underground ‘cities’ from WWI. One could argue with some of the author’s conclusions — it’s a slide show with captions (which go by too quickly, IMO) — but the photos are stunning and worth remembering:
Cloaked in darkness under private land in the beautiful French countryside, these underground cities are bristling with artifacts, sculptures and emotionally charged “graffiti” created by WWI soldiers a century ago. Frozen-in-time, these cities beneath the trenches form a direct human connection to men who lived a century ago. They make hundred years ago seem like yesterday. They are a Hidden World of WWI that is all but unknown, even to the French.
Neat article and video on locating burials in a cemetery under realistic conditions: Finding Avondale: Remote Sensing for an Unmarked Cemetery in Difficult Subsurface Conditions>
Cemetery researchers frequently turn to remote sensing technics when there are little to no trace of a burial ground visible on the surface. The effectiveness of these methods has been evaluated by numerous case studies however, these studies tend to be conducted under optimal and under more controlled conditions then we tend to find in the field. In this study we used real world situation where the adverse settings encountered at the Avondale burial place also known as 9BI164, an unmarked cemetery in southern Bibb County Georgia.
In short, records were nonexistent, informative data was sparse and we only had a rough estimate of where the cemetery was located. The grounds were over a century old. There were no surface features and it was situated in Georgia red clay, a notoriously difficult substrate for successful remote sensing.
I haven’t watched the video yet. As I’ve said, this sort of thing is getting more and more common, finding disused private and even public cemeteries that have long since been forgotten, often with no headstones or decayed monuments (wood). And in this case they not only used hi-tech remote sensing technologies, but also dogs! Well worth a viewing and a read.
Ancient bog body found in Meath to be carbon dated
Experts from the National Museum of Ireland plan to radiocarbon date an ancient bog body found at a Midlands bog today. It is the second one to be found at the midlands bog in two years.
The partial remains, comprising of adult leg and foot bones and flesh, were discovered by Bord Na Móna workers at Rossan Bog close to the Westmeath border in Co Meath on Saturday.
Once the find was made, a Bord Na Móna worker initiated company protocol and called gardai to examine the scene. Work was stopped and the National Museum of Ireland was notified.
Couple of years old — the find — but I missed it the first time around.
Historical nonetheless. And decaying.
Well, sorta: The Urban Archaeologist
Salvaging is a bit more interactive than the more traditional forms of antique dealing, combining a talent for reverse engineering and an intimate acquaintance with masonry, millwork, metalsmithing and design. It certainly doesn’t hurt if you have also developed some business sense, and Nordstrom got his practice in early. “I started a roofing business when I was 11,” he grins. “I was a weird kid.”
You also need plenty of cash just to ante into the salvaging game at Nordstrom’s level. Securing rights to a building isn’t cheap. And if it has the kind of historic significance that galvanizes community backlash, you can expect to have to ride out protests from preservationists intent on preventing demolition, or even salvaging. In 2012, when Nordstrom went to work on the 1886 David C. Cook Mansion, the job turned out to be an on-again, off-again nightmare lasting a year. “It was so stressful,” he remembers. Recently an activist sent him a tart letter to “cease” removing items from the Gethsemane. He’s sensitive to the issue, but like the fall off the ladder, “It’s part of the job.”
The impression I get is that these buildings are already condemned or beyond repair. I’d hope so, but often there are very few takers for a lot of these old buildings.
Ruins of Ancient City Discovered in Australian Desert
A team of archaeologists working for the Australian National University, who were proceeding to an excavation near the sandstone rock formation of Uluru, has unearthed the ruins of a large precolonial city dating back to more than 1500 years ago. The important number of tombs and artefacts already discovered on the site suggests that it could have been the capital of an ancient empire, completely unknown to historians until now.
The site which was first noticed on satellite pictures taken in October 2013, using a newly developed ground-penetrating radar. The images revealed many 90° angles and various common geographic figures over a 16 km2 area, leading the team of scientists to direct some archaeological excavations on the spot, starting in May 2014. Over the last few months, many structures have been unearthed including what looks like a royal palace, a few temples, large rainwater reservoirs, workshops and dozens of houses.
A lot of burials, too:
Pretty spectacular, I’d say.
Or just a regular apocalypse: Medieval Weapon Finds Modern Appeal
Longpoint, held in July, is one of several annual tournaments around the world, manifestations of renewed interest in what enthusiasts call historical European martial arts, or HEMA. It includes events like grappling — similar to Greco-Roman wrestling — and several types of swordfighting. But the focus is on the most iconic medieval weapon, forged from cold, lustrous steel: the longsword.
“The longsword specifically is just very accessible,” said Pettersson, a management consultant from Gothenburg, Sweden, “because that is what the old masters wrote about the most. It was called the ‘queen of weapons’ in the old days.”
Embedded video which is worth watching.
I linked to something like this a couple of years ago, not sport-fighting like this but someone who had studied the old manuals and developed the techniques. I think this is neat. Be nice if it really developed some and we ended up with gear something like fencing where one could tell from embedded sensors the type of hit that was landed, etc. Not sure it would really get us all that close to actual historical combat techniques being rediscovered — and seen — because taking the lethality angle out of things (mostly) will still develop different techniques. If you look at the video there you can see that they’re really not doing any sort of theatrical sword play; it’s much faster and looks more like actual fighting.
I’m guessing this may end up being really useful for the film industry. Get people with motion capture suits on and let them fight like they would be for real and battle scenes on-screen would be much more realistic.
Why Archeologists Hate Indiana Jones
It’s not surprising that academics – hell bent on taking the fun out of everything – would hate our beloved and iconic movie version of them. But Canuto is no killjoy. His ironic tone and acerbic wit seem honed by long boring days in the sun. So I bite. I quickly learn that there’s a good reason why most every archeologist on Earth hates Indy. And that they might have a point. Because Jones isn’t an archeologist at all.
“That first scene, where he’s in the temple and he’s replacing that statue with a bag of sand – that’s what looters do,” Canuto says, grinning. “[The temple builders] are using these amazing mechanisms of engineering and all he wants to do is steal the stupid gold statue.”
Yeah, we don’t do that these days.
Now we dig a bunch of stuff up, leave it in the host country, and they dump everything but the valuable stuff in a basement to rot.