April 19, 2014

Unfortunately, it hasn’t lived up to its name

Filed under: Antiquities Market, Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 10:36 am

Marred By Vandals, Hidden Cave Gets Restoration

High on a hill east of Fallon, a team of archaeologists is working at a site that holds thousands of years of our history.

That work, however, is not aimed at uncovering that history, but repairing damage left by modern-day vandals.

Sometime in February or early March, a group of people gained entrance to Hidden Cave and, in an act of juvenile arrogance, left their mark inside and out.

“It’s certainly disheartening and unexplainable,” says Bryan Hockett, leader archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada.

It is a legitimately famous site in Great Basin archaeology. But then, see previous post.

Back to looting and UNESCO

Filed under: Academia, Antiquities Market, Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 10:30 am

If you recall this post, there are a couple of letters in response.

I might disagree somewhat with the first one on at least this bit: Archaeologists don’t seek “treasure.” We seek information about how people lived in the past to help us better understand our own existence.

That’s one way to put it. Another way is that archaeologists seek stuff they can use to get PhDs and plum university jobs and write much-cited papers about.

Mummies in the news

Filed under: Egypt, Mummies — acagle @ 10:25 am

Actually in the database. This from SJ Wolfe via the EEF:

n conjunction with the publication of our article on building
the EMINA ( Egyptian Mummies in North America) database in
the Yearbook of Mummy Studies Volume 2, I am pleased to announce
that the searchable web version of the database is now online
(courtesy of Caroline and John Stoffel and Kathleen Haley and
the Egyptologists’ Electronic Forum). The address for the
website is

http://www.egyptologyforum.org/EMINA/

Although the database attempts to track over 70 access points
for each mummy, not all the searches are yet available; however,
I will be very happy to send any information I have on a specific
mummy which is not yet available in a search if you contact me
at EMINADB@gmail.com .
One search we will be adding as soon as possible is a mummy id
search (each mummy or part has a unique identifier which will
make it easier to find again).

I look on this as a cooperative effort and I am particularly
interested in adding information to the database such as names,
occupations, wrappings and coffin information, as well as basic
conservation information. There is a list of all the access
points I am trying to document on the website. Please do not
hesitate to give me information even if you think I do not
have it. You may do so at EMINADB@gmail.com
or on the New EMINA Facebook page.

This database attempts to record every mummy or mummy part
which has been documented to have come into North America
through the present time. It was primarily constructed to
serve as an aid for the writing of my book Mummies in
Nineteenth Century America; Ancient Egyptians as Artifacts
(McFarland 2009) but it soon grew far beyond the narrow
confines of the book. One of the most important things it
does do is record the provenance of each mummy. When you
do a search, the provenance will come up in chronological order.
I also hope to eventually link EMINA to other mummy databases.

April 16, 2014

Egyptians in Israel

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 2:39 pm

Long ago: Israeli archaeologists uncover 3,300-year-old coffin, gold signet

Archaeologists uncovered a Bronze Age ceramic coffin and a golden scarab in Israel’s Jezreel Valley, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.

A ring with an Egyptian scarab seal was found with the name of the crown worn by Egyptian pharaoh Seti I, who ruled Egypt in the Late Bronze Age. Seti I was the father of Ramses II and some scholars identify him as the pharaoh in the biblical story of the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt. The seal of Seti I helped the archaeologists date the site back to the thirteenth century B.C.

They have a few photos. The coffin seems very Egyptianesque with the simple face and crossed arms that is usually suggestive of a royal burial. That suggests to me that it is someone attempting to imitate Egyptian burial customs rather than a true Egyptian burial in Israel.

Helicopter Neanderthals

Filed under: Neanderthals — acagle @ 2:33 pm

Researchers say Neanderthals were no strangers to good parenting

In research published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology, they found that Neanderthal childhood experience was subtly different from that of their modern human counterparts in that it had a greater focus on social relationships within their group. Investigation of Neanderthal burials suggests that children played a particularly significant role in their society, particularly in symbolic expression.

The research team, which also included Gail Hitchens, Andy Needham and Holly Rutherford, say there is evidence that Neanderthals cared for their sick and injured children for months and often years. The study of child burials, meanwhile, reveals that the young may have been given particular attention when they died, with generally more elaborate graves than older individuals.

Eh. Seems like an awful lot to get out of some burials.

April 14, 2014

Out in the field tomorrow (Tuesday)

Filed under: Blogging update — acagle @ 7:58 pm

Hopefully will return with some scenic photos if not anything way cool and archaeological.

Send in the drones. . . .

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:56 pm

Drone Images Reveal Buried Ancient Village in New Mexico

Thermal images captured by an small drone allowed archaeologists to peer under the surface of the New Mexican desert floor, revealing never-before-seen structures in an ancient Native American settlement.

Called Blue J, this 1,000-year-old village was first identified by archaeologists in the 1970s. It sits about 43 miles (70 kilometers) south of the famed Chaco Canyon site in northwestern New Mexico and contains nearly 60 ancestral Puebloan houses around what was once a large spring.

Now, the ruins of Blue J are obscured by vegetation and buried in eroded sandstone blown in from nearby cliffs. The ancient structures have been only partially studied through excavations. Last June, a team of archaeologists flew a small camera-equipped drone over the site to find out what infrared images might reveal under the surface.

Talks a bit about current and future regulations regarding drone use. I’d not heard of the thermal imaging aspect though.

When in doubt, Punt

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 7:52 pm

Baboon mummy analysis reveals Eritrea and Ethiopia as location of land of Punt

There are several ancient Egyptian texts that record trade voyages to the Land of Punt, dating up until the end of the New Kingdom, 3,000 years ago. But until now scholars did not know where Punt was. Ancient texts offer only vague allusions to its location and no ‘Puntite’ civilization has been discovered. Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and even Mozambique have all been offered as possible locations.

However, it appears that the search for Punt may have come to an end according to new research which claims to prove that it was located in Eritrea/East Ethiopia. Live baboons were among the goods that we know the Egyptians got from Punt. The research team included Professor Salima Ikram from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and Professor Nathaniel Dominy and graduate student Gillian Leigh Moritz, both from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

That’s pretty much where it’s thought to have been. Although I’m a bit puzzled as to why one was considered a captive animal in Egypt for quite a while and the other wasn’t. Did they import a dead baboon?

April 11, 2014

More than bodies

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 9:32 am

New research unwraps the study of ancient Egypt

“Egyptian mummies may pull crowds, but focusing on them only as bodies means we overlook what was arguably much more important from an ancient Egyptian point of view: their wrappings,” said Dr Riggs, a senior lecturer in the School of Art History and World Art Studies at UEA.

One issue Dr Riggs raises is the gulf between what wrappings and mummification meant in ancient Egypt, and the emphasis placed on analyzing the bodies today, as if scientific techniques are the only way to gain new insight on the past. In many museums that house Egyptian antiquities today, techniques such as endoscopy, CT scans, X-rays and facial reconstruction focus attention on the body beneath the original, careful arrangements of linen. In earlier times, mummies were also completely unwrapped and dissected.

Not sure what to think about this. Yes, the wrappings were important, sometimes more so than at other times. For example, the Roman period mummies were wrapped in extraordinarily complex ways while the actual mummification wasn’t usually done very well; that tells you something about what they thought about mummies.

OTOH, then she says this:

“What I have found so surprising,” said Dr Riggs, “is that we have been asking the same questions, for example about race and disease, for over 200 years. Reading a report from the 1820s or the 1920s, or websites and news articles today, I couldn’t help but feel stuck in a rut, as if the only thing that had changed about research on Egyptian mummies was the technology we use, not the fundamental issues at stake.”

Really? People still think about “race” — which really no one even recognizes anymore as a ‘thing’ — the same way they did 200 years ago? Maybe certain segments that depend on race as a political issue do, but not many others do.

I suspect she’s probably coming at this from more of a PoMo perspective which kind of puts it all out of the realm of science anyway.

April 10, 2014

Ancient vino

Filed under: Alcohol — acagle @ 8:50 am

Recreating Nordic Grog

The woman, dead at 30, was buried 1,900 years ago in an oak log near Juellinge, Denmark. Interred with her was a long-handled bronze strainer that still held residue of a fermented drink she may have been meant to enjoy in the afterlife.

Now the ingredients and even the flavor of that drink, a “grog” made from local fruits, grains, and herbs mixed with grape wine from southern Europe, are becoming clearer. University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Patrick McGovern has applied biomolecular techniques to organic residue taken from four ancient Scandinavian artifacts, including the woman’s strainer, a clay jar, and pieces of Roman bronze drinking sets, dating to between 1500 B.C. and A.D. 200.

I may have linked to this same thing earlier. I’m not entirely certain that it demonstrates trade with the south; depending on the timing, they could have been making wine that far north.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress