November 23, 2015

Lost civilization island. . . . found

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:14 pm

An entire ancient island has been rediscovered in the Aegean

An analysis of pottery shards, architecture, and other historic remnants in the nearby Bademli village helped the team identify the island, which linked up to the mainland to form the tip of the peninsula thanks to thousands of years of sediment build-up. The team drilled down into the filled-up gap that once separated Kane from the Turkish coast to discover that it was made up of loose soil and rock.

“It had been a matter of discussion if the islands here were the Arginus Islands or not until our research began,” one of the team, archaeologist Felix Pirson from the German Archaeology Institute, told the Doğan News Agency.

Aha. I had to read it a couple of times before I figured out that it’s still there but is not an island anymore, it’s part of the peninsula.

Medical archaeology

Filed under: Forensic archaeology, Public Health — acagle @ 8:11 pm

Syphilis widespread in Central Europe even before Columbus’ voyage to America

(Vienna ) In 1495, a “new” disease spread throughout Europe: syphilis. Christopher Columbus was said to have brought this sexually transmitted disease back from his voyage to America.

At least, that has been the accepted theory up until now. Using morphological and structural evidence, researchers from the Department of Forensic Medicine and the Center for Anatomy and Cell Biology (bone laboratory) at MedUni Vienna have now identified several cases of congenital syphilis dating back to as early as 1320 AD in skeletons from excavations at the cathedral square of St. Pölten, Austria “The discovery clearly refutes the previous theory,” say study leaders Karl Großschmidt and Fabian Kanz of MedUni Vienna.

I’m not entirely sure that was the “accepted theory”, I always thought it was conjecture-ish. I haven’t seen any critiques of this yet, so at this point it’s just another data point.

And hey, I thought white people wouldn’t cut up and analyze anything but aboriginal skeletons.

November 19, 2015

Thursday RIP.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 3:56 pm

A bit of sad news for this Thursday:

Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni, and Friends,
I regret to inform you that Professor Emeritus William Longacre passed away
peacefully in Tucson, AZ on November 18 after a short illness. Dr. Longacre
will be interred in the family plot in Houghton, MI in the spring. Funeral
arrangements are pending. The School of Anthropology will host a celebration
of life in Tucson, also in the spring.
Bill’s receipt of the Raymond H. Thompson Award will be acknowledged at the
School of Anthropology Centennial Gala Dinner on December 4. Following
Bill’s wishes, the dinner will be a celebration of our centennial year and
an opportunity to enjoy good food, drink, and conversation with colleagues
and friends.
Diane Austin
Professor and Director
School of Anthropology
University of Arizona

We studied Longacre’s (and Hill’s) work on architectural analysis of room contents a lot, mainly for critical reasons. I haven’t looked into that for a looooooong time, but it’s dashedly difficult to determine room function based on contents alone (for a number of reasons) and then to try to get social structure out of that is iffy and a lot of ink was spilled on it. Still, a very influential bunch of work.
I uploaded a copy of the 1964 paper for reference purposes ( Feel free to discuss.
Longacre, W. A.
1964 Archeology as anthropology: a case study. Science 144:1454-1455.

November 18, 2015

Some papers. . . . .

Filed under: Dating, Online publications — acagle @ 7:54 pm

For a small project I’m starting on:

Dealing with Outliers and Offsets in Radiocarbon Dating



The Groningen Radiocarbon Series from Tel Rehov

Will get back to you once it’s done.

When I don’t know, I link.

Filed under: Paleoanth — acagle @ 7:47 pm

And I don’t know squat about the new Denisovian tooth DNA. Hence, go read Hawks.

November 16, 2015

In which I go full Dunnellian

Filed under: Car Lust — acagle @ 12:07 pm

Buick Ventiports and Style Vs. Function: A Fundamental Dichotomy?

These things have fascinated me for a while, mostly for geeky theoretical reasons. I studied evolutionary theory as part of my graduate studies in archaeology and, oddly enough, automobiles provide very good examples of a lot of the sort of evolutionary principles that can be applied to cultural phenomena; in this case those big ol’ ‘artifacts’ that we drive around in. Cars have a number of functional features that have been molded by selective forces — gasoline won out over electrics over a hundred years ago, for example — but they also have a lot of stylistic features that illustrate the sort of cultural factors that influence their design. And then there are others that manifest the complicated history of design trends and historical “hiccups” that make for odd combinations of features that aren’t really explained by either purely functional or stylistic concerns.

UPDATE: I’ve discovered that the “Internet lore” on the origin of these things is wrong. They appeared on the 1946 Buicks, not the ’49s. Happily, I was a bit suspicious and labeled it as “Internet lore”, but do be careful about research on the Webs.

November 15, 2015

Yeah, they’re nuts to begin with

Filed under: Academia — acagle @ 8:29 am

There’s an awful cost to getting a PhD that no one talks about

I might not have felt so alone had I known how many people struggle with mental health issues in academia. A 2015 study at the University of California Berkeley found that 47% of graduate students suffer from depression, following a previous 2005 study that showed 10% had contemplated suicide. A 2003 Australian study found that that the rate of mental illness in academic staff was three to four times higher than in the general population, according to a New Scientist article. The same article notes that the percentage of academics with mental illness in the United Kingdom has been estimated at 53%.
But the stiff-upper-lip attitude that pervades the ivory tower can prompt many people who struggle with mental health problems to keep their problems hidden, while others simply accept depression as par for the course. And in the often-Darwinian culture among graduate students competing for a handful of professorial jobs, too many people assume that psychological problems are only for the weak.

Telling part of this essay: Anxiety attacks became a part of my daily life. I drank and cut myself. I sometimes thought I wanted to die.

It wasn’t graduate school that caused this, it was underlying mental health issues that undoubtedly were present long before grad school. I’m quite willing to believe that academia is chock full of people with previous mental health issues; it’s an esoteric place that attracts “esoteric” people. Not all, but a lot, of “high achievers” have issues.

I suppose you could blame academia for creating a space and an environment that’s attractive to people with mental health issues, but don’t blame them for causing it in the first place.

November 12, 2015

Paleocardiology update

Filed under: Egypt, Public Health — acagle @ 11:36 am

Mummies know best: the pharaohs giving up their secrets about heart disease

In 2008, Greg Thomas, a cardiologist from California, was in Cairo for work. While there, he visited the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities with another cardiologist, Adel Allam of Al Azhar University in Cairo. They came across the mummy of King Merneptah, a pharaoh who lived 3,200 years ago. The description on Merneptah’s case said he had suffered from atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque on artery walls. Both men were sure this must be wrong. How could an ancient Egyptian have had heart disease, when most of the risk factors for the disease – obesity, unhealthy diet, smoking and lack of exercise – did not then exist? But could they prove it?
. . .
After months of negotiation with officials, the pair began scanning the museum’s mummies (ironically, Merneptah was excluded, as Egyptian archaeological officials ruled that royal mummies could not be part of the project). What they found surprised them: many showed clear signs of fatty buildup in their arteries. When the results are adjusted for age (pre-modern people had shorter life-spans, so most of the remains are of people who died in their 40s or younger), the rate of atherosclerosis was about the same as it is for people in modern society, around 40%.

I think this is great research because they’re getting scans from a wide variety of people and areas. Hard to tell what all other demographic and health status information they can get from the mummies themselves; many times you can gauge obesity from the mummies and it looks like they are getting other data (though probably from previous research, such as the infections each had). However, in most places you’re still likely to get mostly upper echelons of society since those were the ones most likely to have their corpses expensively preserved (except in cases where preservation was natural).
Remember, we really know very little about the causes of most non-infectious diseases.

November 11, 2015

[Insert title here]

Filed under: Abandonment — acagle @ 7:13 pm

Selinunte: Site of ancient massacre yields the secrets of a lost Greek city

“Selinunte is the only classical Greek city where the entire metropolis is still preserved, mainly buried under sand and earth. It therefore gives us a unique opportunity to discover how an ancient Greek city functioned,” said Professor Martin Bentz of the University of Bonn, Director of the major current excavation at Selinunte.

Excavations at the site are now uncovering pottery kilns and workshops complete with pottery-making equipment and even the pigments used to paint the pots.

Classic case of sudden abandonment, it appears, though not from a natural disaster so things weren’t destroyed like in Pompeii, but things were also left to the elements. The advantage is that you can see what the city was like at that moment, how many rooms and structures were being used, what were they being used for, etc. Didn’t say how many skeletons were recovered though, which would be a great demographic study, as well as pathological.

November 4, 2015

Lesson: Build a parking lot if you want to protect something

Filed under: Biblical archaeology — acagle @ 7:23 am

Ancient Greek Fortress Found in Jerusalem Parking Lot

The remnants of the Acra, a fortress built by the Greek King Antiochus IV more than 2,000 years ago and sought for over 100 years, has emerged from a parking lot in Jerusalem, Israeli archaeologists said Tuesday.

Mentioned in Jewish biblical sources and by historians like Josephus Flavius, the fortress was unearthed after 10 years of excavations under the parking lot.

The discovery solved “one of Jerusalem’s greatest archaeological mysteries,” the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said.

Actually, I’ve been arguing that for years now.

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