August 27, 2014

“If you’re going to sue the government, you better be in it for the long haul.”

Filed under: Pre-Clovis, Public archaeology — acagle @ 1:30 pm

The Kennewick Man Finally Freed to Share His Secrets

In the summer of 1996, two college students in Kennewick, Washington, stumbled on a human skull while wading in the shallows along the Columbia River. They called the police. The police brought in the Benton County coroner, Floyd Johnson, who was puzzled by the skull, and he in turn contacted James Chatters, a local archaeologist. Chatters and the coroner returned to the site and, in the dying light of evening, plucked almost an entire skeleton from the mud and sand. They carried the bones back to Chatters’ lab and spread them out on a table.

The skull, while clearly old, did not look Native American. At first glance, Chatters thought it might belong to an early pioneer or trapper. But the teeth were cavity-free (signaling a diet low in sugar and starch) and worn down to the roots—a combination characteristic of prehistoric teeth. Chatters then noted something embedded in the hipbone. It proved to be a stone spearpoint, which seemed to clinch that the remains were prehistoric. He sent a bone sample off for carbon dating. The results: It was more than 9,000 years old.

Thus began the saga of Kennewick Man, one of the oldest skeletons ever found in the Americas and an object of deep fascination from the moment it was discovered.

Read the whole thing. Quite sordid.

August 25, 2014

“One of our cities is missing!”

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 10:33 am

On 25 June 2011 the EES hosted a day of lectures focussing on ‘Egypt in the Age of the Pyramids’. Speakers included Drs Jaromir Krejci, Richard Bussman, Joanne Rowland and David Jeffreys. Dr Jeffreys, Director of the Society’s Survey of Memphis, gave the final presentation of the day and took as his theme ”One of Our Cities is Missing!’ Where was Memphis in the Old Kingdom’.

The work of the Survey of Memphis has focussed recently on the early development of the city in the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom.

Also Here.

Haven’t listened to it yet. I worked two seasons at Memphis and Old Kingdom parts of it are hard to come by. IIRC, it primarily had to do with the shifting of the Nile over what would have been the main OK portions of the city, in addition to the usual covering up of older structures with new ones, and raising of the water table.

August 24, 2014

The Daily Ritual

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 4:02 pm

Not mine, the Egyptians’: Digital Karnak: The Daily Ritual (PDF)

Can’t copy any bits of it but worth a read if you’re interested.

Fictional archaeology

Filed under: Media — acagle @ 10:35 am

No, not Po-Mo: ‘Painted Horses’: In Montana, the future vs. the sacred past

Catherine is an archaeologist whose East Coast family steered her toward a music career, Julliard and then to England and Cambridge on a Fulbright. But she has always been interested in the past and reminders of it dug from the earth. For the mentor offering the marble ear, Catherine is an easy recruit.

Success on an archaeological dig in postwar London leads to a job with the Smithsonian to explore a canyon in Montana that may soon be flooded for a hydropower dam unless something sacred, something important, is found there.

Seems like a fairly typical story from the summary given here: Good and just archaeologists vs. mean, bad old Big Company. Not much to go on though.

August 21, 2014

Free lithics!

Filed under: Online publications — acagle @ 8:12 am

Text anyway: Technology and Terminology of Knapped Stone

Classic text.

August 20, 2014

Raiders of the Lost Ark indeed

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Historic — acagle @ 7:01 pm

Archaeologists raid lost Ark in Haddonfield

A team of historians, students and archaeology specialists have been getting down and dirty, digging below a tract adjacent to the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield.

The dig has unearthed old coins, pieces of wine bottles and plenty of animal bones, but also some surprises, such as a cellar deeper and larger than expected under what was once a general store.

“We recovered walls on two sides and were amazed to find a deeper cellar from 1741, much deeper than the one under the sidewalk,” said Garry Stone, the historian for the Indian King Tavern.

Neat little article. I think this is the place. Apparently they’re restoring it.

One of the coolest things hardly anybody knows about

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 9:41 am


In reality, he’s the “Bearded Man, 170-180 A.D.,” a Roman-Egyptian whose portrait adorned the sarcophagus sheltering his mummified remains. But the details of who he was and what he was thinking have been lost to time.

But perhaps not for much longer. A microscopic sliver of painted wood could hold the keys to unraveling the first part of this centuries-old mystery. Figuring out what kind of pigment was used (whether it was a natural matter or a synthetic pigment mixed to custom specifications), and the exact materials used to create it, could help scientists unlock his identity.

“Understanding the pigment means better understanding of the provenance of the individual” said Darryl Butt, a Boise State distinguished professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and associate director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES). “Where the pigment came from may connect it to a specific area and maybe even a family.”

Really nice work. These portraits are, if not unique, at least really really special. They offer a glimpse into what the actual people looked like, although these can’t be taken too literally, as we’re unsure as to how stylized or even idealized they may be. But I would wager they’re pretty close representations of the actual people.

August 18, 2014

CSI: Minnesohh-ta

Filed under: Cemeteries, Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 7:34 pm

A Hastings whodunit: Skeleton buried since the 1800s discovered at work site

She was a middle-aged white woman, most likely a settler. And she was buried with care in Hastings more than a century and a half ago.

Of this much Brian Hoffman is sure. But the rest of her story — where she came from, how she died, how she came to rest in that spot — is shrouded in mystery.

“I do feel like this is a person, and not an archaeological site,” the archaeologist said. “I do feel a little bit of a somberness, or a seriousness; I’d like to think that we’re treating these people with respect and doing the right thing, to carefully remove them if they have to be removed.”

That’s a bit too anonymous for me, although I wonder if they can get something of an identity for her based on land records and maybe death records (although they mention that’s not likely). But it is true that with all the development taking place in outlying areas there are a lot more unmarked, private cemeteries being uncovered.

Pict-ure that

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:28 pm

Rolling stone? Archaeologist try to unlock secrets of Pictish find

Archaeologists have released details on what they have described as the most important Pictish stone find to have been made in Moray in decades.

Weighing more than a ton and stretching to 1.7m, the Dandaleith Stone dates from the 6th to 8th Centuries and was uncovered during the ploughing of a field near Craigellachie in May 2013.

Because of sensitivities around the location as well as the issue of having to work out how to remove a stone of its size – and where to move it to – archaeologists have revealed little about the find until now.

I’ve done a few items on this “Pictish” stuff, but I’m still not sure what the significance of it all is. Other than providing for a lot of puns. . . . .

“It does what it wants and pretends to consult people, but goes over their heads when they talk too much,”

Filed under: Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 7:23 pm

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