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.

April 9, 2014

Okay, okay: I’ll volunteer. If I have to.

Filed under: Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 7:25 pm

Palm Beach rich in archaeological sites

Seven residents over the past year have had to hire archaeologists to perform assessments before work could begin on their properties.

The assessments can be pricey for property owners, ranging from a few hundred to thousands, but archaeologist say they have yielded significant findings.

“Well-preserved animal bones and shell refuse occur at many of these sites allowing scientists to chart the dramatic changes in the environment that has occurred over the past 2,000 years,” said archaeologist Robert Carr, who has performed dozens of assessments in town. “Overall the town has a large number of significant sites, in part, because of its location on a barrier island.”

I have sympathy. My own opinion is that unless human remains are found there should be no requirement for homeowners to have the place surveyed or even monitored.

Well. . .yeah

Filed under: Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 7:20 pm

The archaeology paradox: more laws, less treasure

During the late 19th and early 20th century — an era former Met director Thomas Hoving called “the age of piracy” — American and European art museums acquired antiquities by hook or by crook, from grave robbers or souvenir collectors, bounty from digs and ancient sites in impoverished but art-rich source countries. Patrimony laws were intended to protect future archaeological discoveries against Western imperialist designs.

But as it turns out, those laws may not be an unalloyed good. In country after country, empirical data show that when rigid cultural property laws are put in place, major archaeological excavations and discoveries slow markedly, making source countries — and the world at large — culturally poorer.

I surveyed 90 countries with one or more archaeological sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list, and my study shows that in most cases the number of discovered sites diminishes sharply after a country passes a cultural property law. There are 222 archaeological sites listed for those 90 countries. When you look into the history of the sites, you see that all but 21 were discovered before the passage of cultural property laws.

Seems relatively straightforward to me: Why bother excavating in a country — and spending gobs of money to do so — when you can’t even bring anything back for analysis or display? OTOH, the rabid conservationist in me thinks that “discovering sites” just ends up destroying them in the long run. OTOOH, without a legit foreign “market” perhaps the sites will still be discovered and pillaged but just not publicized. So, I dunno.

Shhhhhhhh. . . . .

Filed under: Alcohol, Online publications — acagle @ 7:13 pm

Don’t tell.

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