July 20, 2016

Pretty sure I posted about this earlier. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 2:54 pm

History made: In an astonishing Bronze Age discovery a 3000-year-old community has been unearthed

British archaeologists working on the Must Farm project in England’s Cambridgeshire Fens can hardly restrain themselves.

Their online diary effervesces with superlatives — “truly fantastic pottery,” “truly exceptional textiles,” “a truly incredible site,” “the dig of a lifetime.”
Typically on prehistoric sites, you are lucky to find a few pottery shards, a mere hint or shadow of organic remains; generally archaeologists have to make do, have to interpret as best they can.
But this archaeological dig has turned out to be completely, thrillingly different.
For the last ten months — day by day, week by week — the excavation has yielded up a wealth of astonishing finds including pottery, textiles, metal work and ancient timbers. The dig offers, as site manager Mark Knight from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit put it, “a genuine snapshot” of a lost world — a prehistoric settlement from the Bronze Age some 3000 years ago.

July 18, 2016

Back to beer

Filed under: Alcohol, Beer — acagle @ 7:24 pm

Did I mention the Maureen Ogle book Ambitious Brew here? Don’t remember if I just did that at Facebook or not. Anyway, I finished it a few weeks ago and thought it was excellent. Definitely worth reading if you’re interested in the history of American beer. Frankly, I never had much of a problem with the lightness of American lagers and am not particularly interested in slamming them. But I came across this quote a while ago and thought it was interesting:

Perhaps the difference stemmed from nothing more than scarcity and abundance: German beer culture was born and raised in a place that was overcrowded and where food was often in short supply. For centuries, Germans and other Europeans had prized beer as food—liquid bread. But the American experience relegated that idea to antiquity’s dustbin. The United States was the land of liberty, high crop yields, and protein-rich diets. No one need drink beer for food. No surprise, then, that Americans preferred a beer that sat light on the stomach, a beer more suited to the American way of life. John E. Siebel, the science editor for one of the first brewing trade journals, Western Brewer , and founder of the first American brewing school, understood this point. The old-world crowd would always prefer the “nourishing qualities” of full-bodied Bavarian lager, he reminded his readers, but Americans drank in order “to pass time pleasantly in jovial society.” They disdained old-world lager as too heavy, too filling, and entirely too brown, and demanded instead a light sipping beer, one that fell somewhere between “light wine and the heavy Bavarian lager.”

Brewers who planned to stay in business had to adjust to the times and the place. Thus the great wave of experimentation with beer styles. Improvement-minded inventors obtained patents on new methods of brewing with corn and other cereals in hopes of creating a lager that allowed brewers to cope with chronic shortages of grain and satisfy the tastes of non-German Americans. But in the early 1870s, the nation’s brewers encountered the answer to both problems: Bohemian lager, a light-bodied, low-alcohol, lemon-colored, translucent brew. On the tongue, it tasted and felt as different from Bavarian lager as lager did from English ale. Many brewers recognized that this style of beer would appeal to an American audience.

It’s a strikingly evolutionary explanation IMO. Like so many objects, the history is complicated and a lot of different selective factors went into the fixing of a suite of traits — in this case, light-bodied lagers — into a particular population. Part of the reason US brewers used adjuncts like corn and rice in their brewing was because the barley they had to work with packed more protein than the European varieties and thus the adjunct grain added carbohydrates to the brewing process, creating a less cloudy and cutting down on the particulates. In a lot of cases, that actually made the product more expensive to produce. Plus there was a history of alcohol consumption that was wildly different than in Europe, a much greater degree of industrialization earlier, and entrepreneurs who could experiment with consistency and quality from batch to batch. We often forget that back in the mid-late 19th century having a pure, consistent, and safe product wasn’t really the norm.

Anyway, read the book, it’s a good survey.

Back to Jesus, etc.

Filed under: Biblical archaeology — acagle @ 7:09 pm

In Search of the Historical Jesus

The biggest media splash about the tomb and its contents didn’t emerge, however, until after a re-investigation initiated by a team put together by filmmaker and investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici in 2004, recruiting Tabor as an academic consultant. There were still some tantalizing outstanding questions about the tomb, not the least of which was the question of whether or not the tomb and its contents could reasonably be associated with the historical Jesus of Nazareth and his family. The names inscribed on each of five of the tomb ossuaries raised a few eyebrows, to say the least — Yeshua bar Yehosef (Jesus son of Joseph); Maria (Mary); Mariamene Mara (interpreted from ancient sources to be another word for Mary Magdalene the Master or “the Lady”); Yosef (Joses – a brother of Jesus); and Yehuda bar Yeshua (Judah son of Jesus).

Mostly about this (which I probably posted about here) and the James ossuary (which I posted about here). Nothing to change anyone’s mind (probably) but it’s a good summary of both.

July 6, 2016

Blogging update

Filed under: Blogging update — acagle @ 5:34 pm

Am in Wisconsin at the moment, through July 16. Busy. Still doing work-work and also visiting mom and doing various household tasks. Probably not much posting until after then.

June 30, 2016

Some sad news to report

Filed under: Car Lust — acagle @ 7:19 pm

My other blog, Car Lust, is going away. Nothing apparently wrong with the blog itself, Amazon is getting rid of things that aren’t strictly under its control and contributing to the company in any sort of specific way. Kind of a bummer, although the past few weeks I’ve been remiss in not posting good new content and neither have the others (much; there’s been some). Part of the problem is that we hit all the low-hanging fruit: the Pacers, the Gremlins, the 1976 Trans Ams, etc. There is still quite a bit to do, and I had a couple of posts getting ready to roll.

But, that’s all water under the bridge now. It was a bit different from this place because the “blog posts” there were less about providing links and a bit of commentary and more about making real articles. Which isn’t really a true “blog” in my opinion, more like an online e-zine, but I had fun doing it. It’s the one bit of non-academic-ish writing I would really do on a regular basis.

I got hooked up with it by one of those curious happenstances that people find themselves in occasionally: I liked the blog (directed there by Instapundit) and, since the proprietor (Chris Hafner) liked many of the comments I (and others) wrote, he invited some of us to be contributors. We’ve had several, but there was a core of about 3-4 of us that provided pretty regular content.

Don’t know what will happen to it. The contract we signed gives each of us rights to our own content, but I’m not sure how we’ll be able to extract it and use it. We’ve discussed — we the contributors — moving it elsewhere and keeping it going. For the most part it’s been a cooperative thing anyway; no one at Amazon really did anything with it, we just managed it ourselves for the most part. So who knows. I have a feeling it may end up at Blogger.com because it’s free. Not sure how we’d manage any ad revenue it might generate.

Anyway, if you ever wandered over there, please leave a comment at the last post to express whatever appreciation you may have: Car Lust Closing on July 7th

June 22, 2016

Lucy update

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:05 pm

Lucy had neighbors: A review of African fossils

The 1974 discovery of Australopithecus afarensis, which lived from 3.8 to 2.9 million years ago, was a major milestone in paleoanthropology that pushed the record of hominins earlier than 3 million years ago and demonstrated the antiquity of human-like walking. Scientists have long argued that there was only one pre-human species at any given time before 3 million years ago that gave rise to another new species through time in a linear manner. This was what the fossil record appeared to indicate until the end of the 20th century. The discovery of Australopithecus bahrelghazali from Chad in 1995 and Kenyanthropus platyops from Kenya in 2001 challenged this idea. However, these two species were not widely accepted, rather considered as geographic variants of Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis. The discovery of the 3.4 million-year-old Burtele partial foot from the Woranso-Mille announced by Haile-Selassie in 2012 was the first conclusive evidence that another early human ancestor species lived alongside Australopithecus afarensis. In 2015, fossils recovered from Haile-Selassie’s ongoing research site at the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia were assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. However, the Burtele partial foot was not included in this species.

Not a terribly long review but it mentions the principles.
I actually read Lucy when I first started out in anthro/archy. I wouldn’t say — as Johanson has said many other people have told him — that it pushed me into anthro/archy (since I had already started my major in it), but it was certainly a solidifying agent.

I think I mentioned a few days ago that I went to see Lucy when she was here a few years ago. Very emotional for me.

Wait, actually I didn’t here, I did over at Facebook:

So I saw this movie last week:


I quite liked it. Even watched it twice within a few days. I’d been meaning to see it, but never got around to it until now. Fun movie, although the science is totally whack.
Some anthropology does enter into it, of course, since the protagonist, Lucy, is linked ideationally in the film as analogous to Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis that Don Johanson discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Both are supposed to represent a ‘link’ to a new form (assumed to be a ‘higher’ form of life).
—- Spoiler Alert —-

Mungo Man revisited

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:57 pm

New DNA technology confirms Aboriginal people as first Australians

Researchers say the findings overturn a 2001 paper that argued the oldest known Australian human remains found near Lake Mungo in New South Wales were from an extinct lineage of modern humans that occupied the continent before Aboriginal Australians.

This claim was based on mitochondrial DNA extracted from Mungo Man’s 40,000-year-old fossilised remains by a team lead by Australian National University’s Dr Greg Adcock.

But now, Professor David Lambert, from Griffith University, and colleagues, have used new DNA sequencing methods to re-analyse the material from Mungo Man, who was found in the World Heritage-listed Willandra Lakes region, in far western New South Wales.

Artist’s conception of what Mungo Man may have looked like:

June 16, 2016

You’ll thank me.

Filed under: Egypt, Humor — acagle @ 11:27 am

By the Gods

Desert Fox

I’m pretty sure that my ideal Life Everlasting would somehow involve Kate. . . . . .

June 13, 2016

Now this is even cooler.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:17 pm

Wild Macaques in Thailand Have Entered Stone Age

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aurea) on Piak Nam Yai, one of Thailand’s coastal islands, have been using stone tools for several decades — and possibly thousands of years — to eat shellfish and nuts, according to a study led by Dr. Michael Haslam from the University of Oxford, UK.

“We find that primates with much smaller brains than humans have innovative ways of exploiting the food sources available to them,” Dr. Haslam said.

“Macaques in the forests on the island come down to the shore when the tide is out to forage, and use stones as tools in order to break open shells and hard nut casings to access the food inside.”

Is this old news? I vaguely remember hearing something about this a long time ago. Something to the effect of monkeys using simple expedient tools but only on certain islands? And occasionally one would go to another island and spread the trait there? Still, neat. But they’re not really “making” tools, just using naturally occurring objects which many other critters do.

Now this is cool.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:14 pm

Bloomberg Tablets: Hundreds of Roman ‘Notepads’ Unearthed in London

According to Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), a total of 405 writing tablets were unearthed on London’s Queen Victoria street – the site of a new European headquarters for Bloomberg.

“Romans used waxed writing tablets like paper, for note-taking and accounts, for correspondence and for legal documents,” the archaeologists said.

“Made of wood, recesses in the rectangular tablets were originally filled with blackened beeswax, with text inscribed into the wax with styluses.”

A link goes to a book with, one would assume, the translations. Just a few summaries here.

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