August 19, 2015

Well, okay, here’s another one

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:42 am

This has been getting some linkage on the Internets: The famous Robert Frost poem we’ve read wrong forever

It is the most famous poem in American literature, a staple of pop songs, newspaper columnists and valedictorian speeches. It is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
Everyone can quote those final two lines. But everyone, writes David Orr in his new book “The Road Not Taken” (Penguin Press), gets the meaning wrong.
The poem is praised as an ode of individuality, to not follow the pack even though the path may be more difficult.
Except Frost notes early in the poem that the two roads were “worn . . . really about the same.” There is no difference. It’s only later, when the narrator recounts this moment, that he says he took the road less traveled.

I’ve never actually read it, though I am familiar with the line. I doubt this article will resolve anything since the poem itself seems to be rather confused. At first it sounds like he’s talking about two paths, equally well-traveled and he decides to take the one: his choice. Then later he says the one he took the one less-traveled.

Don’t take poets at face value. Appreciate the language.

August 18, 2015

A farewell post

Filed under: Blogging update, Field photos — acagle @ 7:41 pm

Gonna be gone to my Stammland (Wisconsin) for a couple of weeks. Been crazy busy the last few days trying to get that straightened out and also get some fieldwork done. I’m putting a couple of photos here of that, although I can’t show too much (private property and such, donchaknow). But as a bit of background, I was over at Leavenworth (not the prison; they haven’t found my stash of Victorian child pron quite yet) on Sunday and Monday to do a small survey next to Icicle Creek. Eastern Washington has been very dry this year and has had lots of wildfires. Here is Leavenworth when I got in Sunday evening:

Desert Fox

August 13, 2015

And now for something really important

Filed under: Alcohol — acagle @ 7:17 pm

‘Genomic Archaeology’ Reveals That Lager Yeast Was Born More Than Once

After millennia of ales, lagers joined the beer scene some six centuries ago. A hybrid yeast strain made it possible to brew in cold conditions — giving lagers the smooth, light flavor that has led them to represent 94 percent of the world beer market.

Until 2011, no one was able to find the species that combined with Saccharomyces cerevisiae – which brings us bread, ales and wines – to form this lager-brewing hybrid. Since the discovery of that elusive second species, named Saccharomyces eubayanas, scientists have sequenced its genome and begun to uncover the history of lager yeasts. This “genomic archaeology” has turned up evidence to settle a debate about the origins of lagers, according to a report in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

I may have linked to something like this before. But hey, it’s beer so it’s important.

And more!

Filed under: Bodies, China, bodies everywhere! — acagle @ 7:13 pm

A Pompeii of China? Archaeologists discover heartbreaking remains of mum who died protecting her baby boy from an earthquake

Archaeologists have discovered the skeletal remains of a mum who died trying to protect her child.

Anthropologists studying the Lajia archaeological site in Minhe County, in north-west China’s Qinghai Province, came across the mother and her son while unearthing a large-scale burial caused by a devastating earthquake some 4,000 years ago.

Some really nice photos. They don’t appear to have been staged (that is, excavated, removed, cleaned, and then repositioned) and if not someone did a fabulous job excavating them.

Bodies, bodies everywhere!

Filed under: Bodies, Cemeteries, bodies everywhere! — acagle @ 7:10 pm

Archaeologists dig up thousands of skeletons under London’s Liverpool Street Station

Archaeologists in London believe they may have uncovered a mass grave of plague victims buried beneath one of the city’s busiest train stations.

The find at Liverpool Street Station is part of one of Britain’s most important archaeological digs, with a team of more than 60 scientists working double shifts since March to excavate around 3,000 skeletons.

The bodies were interred in a cemetery attached to the notorious Bedlam mental asylum, with the site being used for burials for at least 170 years.

At first I thought it was going to be all plague victims but apparently it’s just a big ol’ cemetery with some plague victims.

August 11, 2015

Hmmmmm. . . . .

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 7:14 pm

What lies beneath?

What Mr Reeves found in these ultra-high-resolution images, which reveal the texture of walls beneath layers of paint in the original tomb, was a number of fissures and cracks that suggest the presence of two passages that were blocked and plastered to conceal their existence. (See image, with proposed new areas in yellow.) One of these would probably lead to a storeroom; its position and small size mirror that of an already-uncovered storeroom inside the multi-chambered tomb. The other, bigger possible doorway in the north wall of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber suggests something much more exciting.

This link has one of the images. Not sure about this without reading the paper. It’s certainly possible that it could have been someone else’s tomb — perhaps a queen’s — that was then modified and maybe cut off and plastered over in spots in the rush to give Tut a tomb. Doesn’t mean there’s anything in the other chambers, but one never knows. I would have thought earlier scans would have revealed these though.

August 10, 2015

From pot to bodies

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:17 pm

Archaeologists Excavate Graves of Jamestown’s Leaders

In late 2010, the archaeologists working at Jamestown found five deep post holes, matching colony records of a 60-foot-long church known to have been built in early 1608, after a fire destroyed much of the fort. The first Protestant church built in the New World, the building fell into disrepair during the bleak winter of 1609-10, a period known as the “starving time” in Jamestown, but was later repaired and in 1614 saw the wedding of Englishman John Rolfe to the Native American princess Pocahontas. (The red-brick tower, the only 17th-century structure still standing above ground in Jamestown, actually belonged to the colony’s fifth church, built in the 1670s-‘80s.)

Inside the chancel, or altar area, located at the east end of the ruined 1608 church, archaeologists found four side-by-side graves. Excavations of the graves in November 2013 yielded only 30 percent of each skeleton, but the researchers were able to use forensic testing along with archaeological, historical and genealogical records to determine the identity of the graves’ inhabitants.

The interesting bit is the part about the box.


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:11 pm

Cannabis discovered in tobacco pipes found in William Shakespeare’s garden

South African scientists have discovered that 400-year-old tobacco pipes excavated from the garden of William Shakespeare contained cannabis, suggesting the playwright might have written some of his famous works while high.
Residue from early 17th century clay pipes found in the playwright’s garden, and elsewhere in Stratford-Upon-Avon, were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry, the Independent reports.

Better article.

I suppose it’s not all that secure that, even if the piped were found in his garden, that he was the one using them. That said, people were doing an awful lot to make themselves feel better including drinking prodigious amounts and smoking a lot of stuff.

August 9, 2015

A little (but epic) alcohol rant

Filed under: Alcohol — acagle @ 8:16 am

Not by me: Stop boozing after four drinks? The public health people just don’t want us to have fun

Nothing better sums up the out-of-touchness of public health prigs than the debate about so-called binge drinking. To these teetotal, ciggie-dodging suits, for whom fun is the foulest of f-words, and who are such miserabilists that they’re made sad by the idea of happy hour, anything more than four units of booze a day for a bloke, and three for a lady, counts as binging.

Four units is two pints of weak lager. Three units is a large glass of wine. Are these people for real? That’s lunch for many of us. On party nights most of us have more than that before we even don our glad rags and leave the house. Consider it pre-drunkenness, in anticipation of actual drunkenness, which is often followed by blind drunkenness. If it’s a binge to have a couple of weak pints of beer then, hell, I’ve already binged today. (I’m writing this in a bar in Dublin, where two pints is an appetiser, not a binge).

It’s fairly amusing so do read the whole thing. I link to this because of something I noticed while beginning my study of alcohol and HIV: Physicians and anthropologists study alcohol very differently. The former almost universally treat consumption of alcohol — really any consumption of alcohol — as a bad, evil, unhealthy, bad, bad, BAD pathology that must be eliminated. The latter are far more concerned with why people drink, what sort of role it plays, the social context, etc. I admit to finding the latter more interesting and really more realistic. People have been drinking for thousands of years; they’ve always drank; they always will drink.

There may have been a shift in the role of alcohol, however. It used to be fully the equivalent of a staple food, not more of a recreational beverage like it is now. That’s largely because we don’t really have much of any food security problems anymore; we have abundant food and abundant clean water, so we really don’t need to use food material to make alcohol. In the past, booze was a way of turning vegetal matter and iffy water into a lot of safe calories. Now, not so much.

I like the paradox. Alcohol, notably beer, has been a large part of the diet for a long time but people have recognized its dangers as well, with even the ancient Egyptians recognizing the problems associated with alcohol to excess:

I am told, thou forsakest writing, thou gives thyself up to pleasure; thou goest from street to street, where it smelleth of beer, to destruction. Beer, it sendeth men from thee, it sendeth thy soul to perdition. (Papyrus Anastasi, iv and v)

So perhaps with our abundant food the cost-benefit analysis may have shifted in favor of less alcohol? Maybe. It’s a bit irrelevant, at least in the near term, as people still like to drink.

August 6, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:16 pm

French archaeology students find 560,000-year-old human tooth

Two students have found a human tooth from about 560,000 years ago in a famous prehistoric cave in southwestern France, a discovery praised by archaeologists as the oldest human body part ever discovered in the country and being rare from that period in Europe.

The tooth was found last week during excavations at Tautavel, one of Europe’s most important prehistoric sites, where about 40 volunteers are working under the supervision of scientists.

Paleoanthropologist Tony Chevalier, researcher at Tautavel’s archaeological laboratory, called it a “major discovery.”

I was all set to make a sorta snarky comment on the hotness of the (female) “French archaeology student” but she’s 16 so forget it.

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