October 23, 2014

Some Great War archaeology you never would have thought of

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology — acagle @ 7:29 pm

Archaeological dig at site of wartime horse hospital

Archaeologists have been digging at the site of a specialised veterinary hospital in Britain that cared for an estimated 500,000 horses during World War 1.

The research aims to find out more about the care of the huge number of horses and mules that hauled weaponry, stores and personnel to and from the front line.

The project, known as Digging War Horse, is part of Britain’s World War 1 centenary celebrations.

I always felt bad about all the animals killed in wars. Mechanized warfare was, at least, better for them. I think Rudyard Kipling was also distressed about that.

Also neat: In a quirky twist, a photographer documented the event with a World War 1 plate camera.

Okay, this is cool and I want one.

Filed under: Underwater archaeology — acagle @ 7:26 pm

Who cares if I don’t do underwater archaeology? I’D START. How to Turn an Archaeologist Into an Underwater Iron Man

It used to be that all an archaeologist needed was a fedora hat and a bullwhip. Today’s professionals, however, have much more sophisticated gear. This month, marine archaeologists exploring an ancient Greek shipwreck tried out a high-tech “exosuit” for the first time, sending divers to the seafloor in something that resembles a spacesuit.
. . .
The exosuit changes the equation. It’s essentially a flexible and human-shaped submarine, which maintains an atmospheric pressure inside that’s equivalent to that at the surface. Its inventor, Phil Nuytten of the marine technology company Nuytco Research, says the suit allows divers to work at depths of up to 300 meters (1000 feet) for hours at a time, and then to ascend rapidly to the surface.

Yeah, the Newt Suit was far too bulky to be used for archaeology, I think. I really like this idea. Ballard ought to try it in the Black Sea for some of the supposedly completely intact wrecks he found. (Are those <=1000 feet down?)

Back to the future?

Filed under: Modern artifacts — acagle @ 8:46 am

Something came up twice in recent days and I’m wondering if it hasn’t occurred to anyone else. Let’s start with this, the humble wristwatch:

Many of you may be somewhat unaware of these? I’ve worn one almost my entire life, at least since I was in my teens at least.

Lately, however, or at least for a few months in the last year or so, I kind of quit wearing one. Why? Because I always had either my computer or cell phone to look at for the time. I found myself putting my watch on every morning and then taking it off in the evening and realizing that I hadn’t looked at it even once all day. So I shelved it (them, actually, I have three) and did without. Eh. Sometimes I’d catch myself looking at my wrist, maybe when I was out on the street or something and my phone was buried in a pocket somewhere but I mostly got along without it.

One advantage in the summer was that by the end of August I didn’t have brown arms with a little white band where the watch was.

But I started wearing it again recently. Dunno know why, it just seemed kind of like a nice retro kinda thing to do. Most days I still don’t look at it, but it’s kind of nice to know it’s there.

But the other day I was in a watch store getting a new battery for the new Mickey Mouse watch I gave the ArchaeoWife for her birthday, and was looking over a display of these:

Again, for some young’uns, that’s a pocket watch. I’ve always kind of liked pocket watches, or at least I always liked the idea of pulling it out of one’s vest pocket to check the time. I was kind of half debating maybe getting one — I’ve done the same thing at estate sales — but then decided (again) that it would probably go into my pocket in the morning, rarely come out for the same reason as the wristwatch, and probably end up broken or something.

Of course, then I realized: I keep my phone in my pocket and pull it out to check the time. Hence, we’ve kind of come full circle with the new pocket watch: the mobile phone.

And maybe in a few years the cell phone will become the cell watch and we’ll be back there again, too.

UPDATE: Today, obviously, I didn’t wear my watch and I’ve looked at my bare wrist about half a dozen times. . . .

October 22, 2014

Paleontologist <> Archaeologist

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:54 pm

Again: The kung-fu stegosaur: Archaeologists find the lumbering plant-eating dinosaurs used giant spiked tails as a killer weapon

Old news that’s not new news but old news

Filed under: Egypt, Historic — acagle @ 6:53 pm

Archaeologists dig up silent-movie set from California sands
More than 90 years ago, filmmaker Cecile B. DeMille erected 21 giant sphinxes and an 800-foot-wide temple as a set for the silent, black-and-white classic movie “The Ten Commandments.”
But in 1923, when filming was over, DeMille abandoned them there among the sands of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes in Santa Barbara County.
Now archaeologists are digging for the fragile plaster sphinxes and this week began excavations on one that they hope will eventually be on display at the nearby Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, which has raised $120,000 for the dig, the Los Angeles Times reported.

They’ve been working on this for years, but are now really excavating it. Not sure how significant it all is from a historical standpoint though.

But hey, it gives me another excuse to post a pic of Morena Baccarin. . .

October 21, 2014

“Brains. . . .braaaaaaaiiiiins. . . .”

Filed under: Egypt, Mummies — acagle @ 7:01 pm

Egyptian Mummy’s Brain Imprint Preserved in ‘Peculiar’ Case

“This is the oldest case of mummified vascular prints” that has been found, study co-author Dr. Albert Isidro told Live Science in an email.

The mummy was recovered in 2010, along with more than 50 others in the Kom al-Ahmar/Sharuna necropolis in Egypt. [8 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]

But unlike his neighbors in the field, the inside of this man’s skull bore the imprints of his brain vessels, with “exquisite anatomical details,” for centuries. The prints were cast into the layer of the preservative substances used during the mummification process to coat the inside of the skull.

They note that the brains were removed during mummification, but in the later periods — this was Ptolemaic — that wasn’t always or even commonly the case. They speculate that some soft tissue might remain.

Tut, Tut. . . .

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 6:56 pm

Again: King Tut’s ‘virtual autopsy’ reveals surprises

King Tutankhamun’s golden, mummified remains tell only a partial story of an ancient Egyptian boy king who died under mysterious circumstances.
But a new “virtual autopsy” of King Tut’s body, shown in an upcoming BBC One documentary, has given historians a clearer picture of the young man’s life — and death.
Scientists used CT scans to recreate the first life-size image of Tutankhamun, one of the last rulers of the 18th Dynasty. King Tut ruled from 1333 B.C. until about 1323 B.C. Historians put his age at death at about 19.

For some reason I don’t remember the club foot when the result from this first came out. . . . .

Related: CT Scans of Pharaohs Lead to Arthritis Rediagnosis

October 18, 2014

Ancient cancer?

Filed under: Public Health — acagle @ 3:58 pm

Ancient Siberian mummy had breast cancer and self-medicated with marijuana

team of Russian scientists has determined that the Siberian “ice maiden” likely died of breast cancer and used marijuana to treat the pain, The Siberian Times reports.

An investigation of the mummified, 2,400 year old remains of the young woman indicates that the young woman died of breast cancer, and the researchers speculate that the marijuana found in her burial chamber was used to mitigate the pain it caused.

“During the imaging of mammary glands, we paid attention to their asymmetric structure and the varying asymmetry of the MR signal,” Andrey Letyagin, a physiology professor from the Russian Academy of Medical Science, told the Times. “We are dealing with a primary tumour in the right breast and right axial lymph nodes with metastases.”

Kind of a confusing article. They say she died of breast cancer, but also had quite a few apparently very traumatic injuries and also a bone infection. So maybe she was just one sick individual who happened to take a bad fall before succumbing to all the other things? At any rate, they seem pretty certain of the cancer diagnosis so at least we have a very old mummy with cancer.

Link via PRO.

October 17, 2014

Friday humor

Filed under: Egypt, Humor — acagle @ 4:03 pm

Desert Fox

Via the Petrie Museum via Facebook

And speaking of vampires. . . .

Filed under: Cemeteries — acagle @ 8:32 am

‘Vampire grave’ found in Bulgaria

A “vampire grave” containing a skeleton with a stake driven through its chest has been unearthed by a man known as “Bulgaria’s Indiana Jones”.

That seems like a bad sign. . . .

Professor Nikolai Ovcharov – a crusading archaeologist who has dedicated his life to unearthing mysteries of ancient civilisations – said that he had made the discovery while excavating the ruins of Perperikon, an ancient Thracian city located in southern Bulgaria, close to the border with Greece.
The city, inhabited since 5,000 BC but only discovered 20 years ago, is believed to be the site of the Temple of Dionysius – the Greek God of wine and fertility. And among the finds at the site, which includes a hilltop citadel, a fortress and a sanctuary, are a series of “vampire graves”.

Only one is described in the article so I’m not sure how they gt to “a series” of vampire graves. It seems about the right time for plague so one might assume that, rather than ‘vampires’, it might be something more akin to ’spreader of disease’ (or at least an assumed spreader of disease) that they were trying to keep down.

I don’t really mind the whole Indiana Jones thing, by the way, but it sounds like yet another elective excavation which I take a dim view of anymore.

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