April 20, 2015

Coooooooool.

Filed under: Historic, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:29 pm

Ghosts from the past brought back to life

Myriah Williams and Professor Paul Russell from Cambridge’s Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC), believe that a 16th century owner of the book, probably a man named Jaspar Gryffyth, summarily erased centuries’ worth of additional verse, doodles and marginalia which had been added to the manuscript as it changed hands throughout the years.

However, using a combination of ultraviolet light and photo editing software, the 16th century owner’s penchant for erasure has been partly reversed to reveal snatches of poetry which are previously unrecorded in the canon of Welsh verse. Currently, the texts are very fragmentary and in need of much more analysis, although they seem to be the continuation of a poem on the preceding page with a new poem added at the foot of the page.

“What do they study in the Pacific Northwest?”

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:25 pm

Mostly boring junk: Historical archaeology: Learning about, understanding our recent past

Historical archaeologists work on a wide range of sites all over Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Early missions like Cataldo near Coeur d’Alene (ca. 1850-1853) or military fortifications such as the Valley’s own Fort Walla Walla (active between 1858 and 1917) are studied to learn early European settlement and its effects on Native American peoples.

Homesteads, farmsteads, mines, railroads and trolley systems, roads and trails, whole neighborhoods and even irrigation ditches such as the circa-1905 Burlingame Gardena canal are examined for important trends in settlement patterns, technological advances, coping strategies during environmental and economic challenges and impacts from industrialization and urbanization on the American West.

Actually the historical stuff is more fun, in a way, because you recognize a lot of the stuff.

Except when you find your childhood toys in an archaeological site. That’s rough.

Raiders Droners of the Lost Pots

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:19 pm

Drones putting archaeologists on trail of looted antiquities

At a sprawling Bronze Age cemetery in southern Jordan, archaeologists have developed a unique way of peering into the murky world of antiquities looting: With aerial photographs taken by a homemade drone, researchers are mapping exactly where — and roughly when — these ancient tombs were robbed.
. . .
It’s sophisticated detective work that stretches from the site, not far from the famed Dead Sea in Jordan, to collectors and buyers the world over.

The aerial photography detects spots where new looting has taken place at the 5,000-year-old Fifa graveyard, which can then sometimes be linked to Bronze Age pots turning up in shops of dealers, said Morag Kersel, an archaeologist at DePaul University in Chicago. Kersel, who heads the “Follow The Pots” project, also shares the data with Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, to combat looting.

I worked with Morag in Egypt in 1996. Although I wouldn’t have recognized her at all from that picture. . . . .

April 16, 2015

Some old junk

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:32 pm

Ummmm. . . . literally: 18th-Century Sex Toy Found In Ancient Latrine

Polish archaeologists digging an ancient latrine in the Baltic city of Gdańsk have stumbled upon a 250-year-old sex toy.

The phallic object is “large, thick, made of leather filled with bristles, and has a wooden tip,” the Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments in Gdansk said in a press release.

Dating from the second half of the 1700s, the artificial penis was found “preserved in excellent condition.”

Desert Fox

April 15, 2015

Phrases you never thought you’d see

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology — acagle @ 7:07 pm

“hunchback Hanoverian”: 200 Year Old Skeleton Found : Archaeologist identified man who fought with British troops as Friedrich Brandt

A “UNIQUE” 200-year-old skeleton discovered beneath a car park at the battlefield of Waterloo has been identified as a hunchback Hanoverian trained in the East Sussex resort of Bexhill-on-Sea.
The soldier has been identified as Friedrich Brandt, 23, a member of the King’s German Legion of George III, killed by Napoleon’s troops with a musket ball between his ribs.

Also this:

He said: ‘Bone was considered a great fertiliser in the 1830s and 40s, so companies would raid former Napoleonic battlefields to collect the bodies of fallen soldiers and horses which would then be ground down and sold on to farmers.
‘Dead bodies weren’t thought of in the same way back then. Unless you were very wealthy, you were thrown in a mass grave and people didn’t think much of it.

But remember, Europeans only ever treated non-European bodies disrespectfully.

I like this

Filed under: Paleoanth — acagle @ 7:02 pm

Study Suggests Chins Evolved as Faces Shrank

Scientists have debated for more than a century why modern humans are the only primates to sport chins. Young modern human children have nearly imperceptible chins, similar to Neanderthals, but they grow chins as they mature.
. . .
Team member Robert Franciscus, an anthropologist, suggests that as modern humans formed increasingly cooperative groups, and were less likely to fight over territory and belongings, reduced levels of hormones such as testosterone resulted in noticeable changes in the male craniofacial region—as the face became smaller, the chin became a bony prominence as a matter of geometry.

I’m not sure I go along with the whole hormonal/behavioral thing — I don’t know why our faces shrank and flattened out, apart from having something to do with our brains — but I like the non-functional approach; I suspect a lot of our anatomy has more to do with simple physics than any real “fitness” thing.

(Rock) Breaking news:

Filed under: Paleoanth — acagle @ 6:59 pm

World’s oldest stone tools discovered in Kenya

Researchers at a meeting here say they have found the oldest tools made by human ancestors—stone flakes dated to 3.3 million years ago. That’s 700,000 years older than the oldest-known tools to date, suggesting that our ancestors were crafting tools several hundred thousand years before our genus Homo arrived on the scene. If correct, the new evidence could confirm disputed claims for very early tool use, and it suggests that ancient australopithecines like the famed “Lucy” may have fashioned stone tools, too.

They don’t mention anything about any controversy regarding the actual tool status of the objects or the dating, so one assumes both are fairly secure. That would put another supposed hallmark of Homo back back into our ancestors.

April 10, 2015

Just in over the EEF wires:

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Egypt — acagle @ 1:14 pm

Ministry of Antiquities
Press Office
9-4-201
Translated by: Eman Hossni

Antiquities Minister: New Archaeological borders for Merimdet
Beni Salama

Minister of Antiquities, Dr. Mamdouh Eldamaty declared that
the Egypt Exploration Society’s mission in collaboration with
The Ministry of Antiquities has reached new scientific evidences
that the borders of the famous Neolithic Settlement extends
approximately 200 m. to the south western side of its existing
borders.
Eldamaty added that the team uncovered a number of ceramics and
lithics of Neolithic date and that more investigations at the
area will present us much information about the various roads
and means of living during this era.
According to the Mission’s report: ” In summer 2014 after test
trenches had been conducted by the Ministry of Antiquities prior
to the laying of a gas pipeline – it was possible to investigate
the area just to the west of the modern asphalt road and it was
confirmed that in the pits of the MA investigations, as well as
in a test trenches by the current mission, ceramics and lithics
of Neolithic date were present. This means that the settlement
extents at least c. 200m southwest of what was formerly considered
to be the boundary of the settlement. Forthcoming investigations
and post-excavation analysis will be able to confirm whether this
newly-discovered area was occupied during the latest periods of
occupation of the settlement – as we anticipate – or whether it is
earlier.”
Merimdet Beni Salama where the discovery took place lies along the
desert edge of the Nile Delta and one of the aims of the Prehistoric
Survey performed by the Egypt Exploration Society in Imbaba Area and
directed by Dr Joanne Rowland of the Free University of Berlin, is to
reconsider the site within its wider geographic and environmental
context.
Geophisical surveys conducted in a previous season revealed what
appeared to be pits that had not previously been investigated before,
a matter indicating the extension of the Neolithic settlement.

Much of what they do over there is typical CRM; that was part of the training we imparted to their Inspectors at the field schools we did (I did in 1996 and 2003). Merimde is a very important site; I summarized some of it in my dissertation if you’re interested.

April 9, 2015

“The future of preservation is to refrain from excavation”

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:32 pm

Indeed. Touch-Free Archaeology Reveals History With “Lasers”, Drones

It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes archaeologists can learn more by not digging up the past. In fact, noninvasive methods—including lasers, ground-penetrating radar, and drone photography—are changing the way they do their work.

One of the latest examples: a project at Ammaia, in southern Portugal, where researchers have been able to create detailed, three-dimensional illustrations of a now-underground Roman village in its heyday.

Data from the site show that the town flourished in the first century A.D.—at its peak it was home to more than 2,000 inhabitants—but gradually declined in the fourth century. By the Middle Ages it was abandoned.

Digging anything up ought to be a last resort.

Sounds menacing

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:22 pm

Archaeologists Unearth Ottoman War Camel in Austria

“The partly excavated skeleton was at first suspected to be a large horse or cattle. But one look at the cervical vertebrae, the lower jaw and the metacarpal bones immediately revealed that this was a camel,” said Dr Galik, who is the first author of the paper published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Camel bones have been found in Europe dating back to the Roman period. Isolated bones or incomplete skeletons are known from Mauerbach near Vienna as well as from Serbia and Belgium. But a complete camel skeleton is unique for Central Europe.

The original paper is here if you want to read the source.

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