October 9, 2015

Heads will did roll

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:52 am

Excavation of Mexican site reveals decapitation of conquistadors

Some place the number of people in the group as high as 550. Cortes had been forced to leave the convoy on its own while trying to rescue his troops from an uprising in what is now Mexico City.
Members of the captured convoy were held prisoner in door-less cells, where they were fed over six months. Little by little, the town sacrificed, and apparently ate, the horses, men and women.
“The aim of the sacrifices … was to ask the gods for protection from the strange interlopers,” the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.
But pigs brought by the Spaniards for food were apparently viewed with such suspicion that they were killed whole and left uneaten. “The pigs were sacrificed and hidden in a well, but there is no evidence that they were cooked,” Martinez said.
In contrast, the skeletons of the captured Europeans were torn apart and bore cut marks indicating the meat was removed from the bones.

Apparently it didn’t work. Should have eaten the pigs.

October 8, 2015

So we’re all Eurasians. Or Africans. Whatever.

Filed under: Paleoanth — acagle @ 5:09 pm

Scientists Sequence First Ancient Human Genome From AfricaI

n recent years, scientists have found segments of DNA in Ethiopians and other Africans that bear a striking resemblance to those found in people from Europe and Asia. They proposed that there was a “backflow” of genes into Africa roughly 3,000 years ago.

Dr. Pinhasi and his colleagues found that Mota, who lived 1,500 years before that time, had no trace of Eurasian DNA in his genome. “It’s an African without this backflow,” he said.

Armed with this early genome, Dr. Pinhasi and his colleagues took a new look at the spread of Eurasian genes into Africa. They pinpointed the source of the DNA to ancient farmers in the Near East. Once those people spread into Africa, their DNA traveled across the continent over the generations.

Short summary: We travel around and mate with anything that moves.

October 7, 2015

Anubis the Bouncer

Filed under: Egypt, Humor — acagle @ 8:22 am

(via Kara Cooney)

Desert Fox

October 5, 2015

Hmmmmmm. . . . .

Filed under: Public Health, Rome — acagle @ 8:10 am

Ancient Romans ‘had perfect teeth’ thanks to healthy low-sugar diet

They may have lived in an era when dental care was rudimentary at best, but the ancient Romans had better teeth than people today, new research has revealed.
Scientists used CAT scans to examine the remains of 30 men, women and children who were killed in Pompeii when the city was engulfed by ash and pumice from Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
After months of research, their most startling discovery was the excellent condition of the Romans’ teeth, which the researchers ascribed to a low-sugar, fibre-rich Mediterranean diet.
“The inhabitants of Pompeii ate a lot of fruit and vegetables but very little sugar,” said Elisa Vanacore, a dental expert. “They ate better than we did and have really good teeth. Studying their teeth could reveal a lot more about their lives.”

I’m a bit wary of this. Other research shows that they had pretty good dental health but nothing near perfect. Tooth decay was fairly common as were abscesses and lost teeth, partly due to the fact that they ate a lot of tough food and that produced a lot of wear. This may be a function of age or social status or, as the link indicates, a water supply with fluoride and other minerals.

September 30, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:52 am

Amid budget fight, Illinois State Museum prepares to close

Last week paleoecologist Eric Grimm, the director of science at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, rented an 8-meter-long truck, bought $500 worth of lumber, and built temporary shelves in the back. Then, with the help of his wife and former coworkers, he loaded his cargo: roughly 30 sediment cores drilled from lake bottoms.

The cores, which hold pollen grains, minerals, and other clues that help researchers reconstruct past environments, had been stored at the museum where Grimm has worked for 28 years. But the museum is scheduled to close on 1 October as the result of a tense budget standoff between the state’s Democrat-led General Assembly and its Republican governor. So Grimm is moving his collection to the University of Minnesota’s National Lacustrine Core Repository (LacCore) in Minneapolis. And he’s retiring from his post at the museum—with a certain sense of dismay.

“It’s a travesty,” Grimm says of the political stalemate that has dominated Illinois for months, and the consequences for the museum. “I think it’s political corruption and malevolent anti-intellectualism.”

Political corruption? In Illinois? The dickens you say.

These are, of course, the same people who continue selling lottery tickets they don’t pay off.

Antikakakthericakaka mechanisms?

Filed under: Underwater archaeology — acagle @ 11:44 am

New Treasures Found From 2,000-Year-Old Antikythera Shipwreck

Two millennia after a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera, the site is still yielding treasures that reveal details of life in ancient times.

Not much there. I’m not sure if the video at the top is supposed to do anything or not, all I got was a long commercial.

September 28, 2015

I guess they weren’t peaceful naturists after all

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology — acagle @ 5:04 pm

Mass Grave Found in California Reveals Prehistoric Violence Against ‘Outsiders’

An ancient mass grave, uncovered during the construction of a shopping mall outside San Francisco, contains the bodies of seven men who appear to have been victims of “mass homicide” some 1,150 years ago, scientists say.

The men — ranging in age from 18 to 40 — bore clear signs of physical trauma, including severe head wounds, broken limbs, and in some cases, the remnants of stone and obsidian weapons still among their remains.

Now, chemical analysis has revealed that the men were far from home when they were killed, up to several days’ journey from where they were born and raised.

Not that this is anything really new. The descriptions look like fairly common trauma injuries. It’s a good thing that the analysis was allowed though, so judos to all involved. Even if the story that ends up being told isn’t pleasant it adds to the richness of life (and death) in the area’s history.

September 27, 2015

Beer: Is there anything it can’t do?

Filed under: Alcohol, Experimental archaeology — acagle @ 6:29 am

Staten Island Students Brew Chicha Beer To Learn About Ancient Peruvian Migration

Chicha was an important element of the ancient Moche diet, but as with most alcoholic consumption through time, it also helped cement social alliances. ”People drank prodigious amounts of chicha at social events,” Gagnon and colleagues write in a new article in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. By one estimate, the average ancient Moche person drank 2 liters of chicha daily, and even more during feast times. ”The production of chicha was a site of power negotiations at the local level,” they explain, and chicha production is often identified by archaeologists based on their finding of special vessels for fermentation of the drink.

Brewing a drink like chicha is relatively simple: take water and sprouted corn, boil for hours, cool, strain, add yeast, and let ferment for a few days. But what excessive drinking of chicha does to the human skeleton is much more complex. Our bodies contain a lot of oxygen in several different forms or isotopes. The relative abundance of oxygen isotopes in our skeletons is mostly due to what we drink. So a person who lives in one place during childhood, when their teeth and bones are forming, will have an oxygen isotope ratio related to the groundwater in the geographical area. Testing skeletal tissue for oxygen isotopes is one way that bioarchaeologists can discover whether a person was local or a migrant to an area. Brewing water results in evaporation, so the oxygen isotope value of the brewed beverage is different from the water that went into it. Since the ancient Moche were drinking more chicha than groundwater, though, this almost certainly changed their oxygen isotope ratio.

So it really wasn’t (at least based on Kristina’s summary, I didn’t go to the paper yet) about the beer process, it was about isotopes for a change. I’ll need to read the article, but I’m wondering how widespread the chicha consumption was across the population. One would think that it or some form of it would be common through all classes as it usually is, functioning as something of a dietary staple.

September 23, 2015

I had a story to link. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:04 pm

But the USA Today site irritated me with gigantic popups that I couldn’t get rid of that I decided not to. Scum sucking pig-dogs.


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:02 pm

Archaeology: Book about America’s discovery gets it all wrong

In the current issue of the journal American Antiquity, Larry Zimmerman, an archaeologist from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, reviews one of those books, The Lost Colonies of Ancient America: A comprehensive Guide to the Pre-Columbian Visitors Who Really Discovered America, written by Frank Joseph.

Joseph writes that there were pre-Columbian visits by Sumerians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Celts and others. An apparently non-facetious blurb on the book’s cover asks, “Who didn’t discover America?”

. . .

Why don’t archaeologists take these claims seriously?

Joseph says they “cannot deviate from an academic party line without jeopardizing their professional careers,” and so accept “only those facts that support mainstream opinion.”

That’s pretty much what everyone says, from Erich von Däniken onwards. Not that we don’t tend to be wedded to our theories; it took an awful lot of prodding to get anyone to accept pre-Clovis sites, after all.

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