April 3, 2014

Mystery object update

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:15 pm

Back in this post I put up the following photo:
Desert Fox

I answered the question of what it was in a comment there, but I thought I’d make an observation. I was telling the ArchaeoWife about is and remarked that from my boyhood in the 1960s and early ’70s one of my strongest memories of Autumn was the smell of burning leaves. She could not conceive of such a thing. She’s from California originally and is a bit younger than I, but I thought it was probably fairly common in most places. Maybe still is? I dunno, they banned it in my boyhood city at some point but I don’t know when.

But yeah, people would rake up their leaves and then burn them in their back yards or maybe in empty lots adjacent to their houses (this was a small midwestern city). It combined with the crisp Fall air to make a really strong memory for me.

Vikings! And their bread

Filed under: Uncategorized, Vikings! — acagle @ 8:57 am

Neat little video:

Several good observations in there. Egyptian bread was similar — actually probably most early bread was this way — in having lots of grit in it which would wear down teeth quite rapidly. And they mention beer and the malting process, which is essentially releasing the sugars out of the carbohydrates in order to make them fermentable.

April 2, 2014

This may be a first

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:46 pm

Archaeologists call time on elderly ale

Archaeologists working at the site of one of Britain’s oldest Christian buildings made an unexpected discovery – a bottle of beer drunk by one of their counterparts more than a century ago.

Researchers working to uncover St Piran’s Oratory in Cornwall say the artefact, dating from the first decade of the 20th century, still contains some of its original contents.

The bottle, bearing the embossed stamp of Walter Hicks & Company – the forerunner of today’s St Austell Brewery – is perfectly preserved.

A weird nexus of archaeologists and beer and archaeologists. . . .

March 26, 2014

Tomb of Attilla the Hun found. . . . .again.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:48 pm

Or so they say:

Construction workers building the foundations of a new bridge over the Danube River in the Hungarian capitol, have unearthed a spectacular 6th century sepulchre. The analysis of the monument revealed that it was the burial chamber of a great hunnic leader, most likely that of King Attila himself.

“This site is absolutely incredible!” explains Albrecht Rümschtein, an historian from the Lorand Eötvös University in Budapest and member of the team of specialists investigating the tomb. “We found many horse skeletons, as well as various weapons and other artefacts, all traditionally associated with Huns. These objects include a large sword made of meteoric iron, which could certainly be Attila’s legendary “Holy War Sword of the Scythians”, allegedly given to him by the god Mars himself. In fact, this definitely seems to be the resting place of the almighty Attila, but further analysis needs to be done to confirm it.”

Meh. Pretty thin gruel. Funny stuff in the comments, all seem to be discussing whether the Huns were Mongolians or Turks.

March 21, 2014

Field photos

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:01 pm

Back in after a couple days out doing fieldwork. Thursday was a long day; when we have to go up to the San Juan Islands it’s an all-day affair: 1.5 hours to the ferry, wait for an hour (or less) — and this time the first boat was cancelled — travel over, do the work, wait for the return ferry, and then another 1.5 hours driving home. Leave at 7, get back at 7. But the scenery is pretty nice:

Desert Fox

UPDATE: Sorry about the image(s); either my ftp program is fouling up or my host is fouling up or Firefox is fouling up. The ftp app says it uploaded files. It shows them in the correct location. Firefox does not see them. Obviously one of them is lying.

March 11, 2014

Well, tans are pretty hot

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:59 pm

New Diet, Sexual Attraction May Have Spurred Europeans’ Lighter Skin

Why do some humans have lighter skin than others? Researchers have longed chalked up the difference to tens of thousands of years of evolution, with darker skin protecting those who live nearer to the equator from the sun’s intense radiation. But a new study of ancient DNA concludes that European skin color has continued to change over the past 5000 years, suggesting that additional factors, including diet and sexual attraction, may also be at play.

I did link to this earlier, I think, but this article provides a bit more context and interpretation. While reading it I started to think the same thing:

But why was strong natural selection for lighter skin, hair, and eye color still going on thousands of years after humans left Africa and its brutal UV rays? In the case of skin color, the team speculates that these populations, which represented early farmers, had previously received a lot of vitamin D from their food, such as vitamin D-rich fish and animal livers, when they were hunter-gatherers. But after the advent of farming, when grains such as wheat and barley became a major part of their dinner plates, early Europeans needed to synthesize a larger amount of vitamin D in their skins. That’s when lightening up became very advantageous.

March 6, 2014

Errr. . .huh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:43 pm

Archaeologists channel spirit of Rastamouse as robber returns iPad to police in Liverpool

March 5, 2014

Hey, I thought the climate didn’t change until recently

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:22 pm

Revealed: How climate change ended world’s first great civilisations

The world’s first great civilisations appear to have collapsed because of an ancient episode of climate change – according to new research carried out by scientists and archaeologists.

Their investigation demonstrates that the Bronze Age ‘megacities’ of the Indus Valley region of Pakistan and north-west India declined during the 21st and 20th centuries BC and never recovered – because of a dramatic increase in drought conditions.

The research, carried out by the University of Cambridge and India’s Banaras Hindu University, reveals that a series of droughts lasting some 200 years hit the Indus Valley zone – and was probably responsible for the rapid decline of the great Bronze Age urban civilization of that region.

Nothing really new here, I don’t think, climate-related ‘collapses’ have been batted around for decades. Egypt’s Old Kingdom is thought to have ended due to a series of famine-causing drops in the Nile floods.

Head will did roll

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:12 pm

Hopewell skulls pose a mystery

How can we determine whether an isolated skull is a war trophy or an honored ancestor? A study recently published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology offers some clues.

Anthropologists at the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Cambridge analyzed 112 human skulls collected in Borneo in the late 19th century. This collection represents well-documented cases of headhunting and, therefore, might provide a yardstick with which to compare the Hopewell skulls.

A bit too binary for my tastes, but interesting.

Material Culture . . . new functions for old artifacts

Filed under: Modern artifacts, Uncategorized — Tags: , — ArchaeoFriend @ 9:51 am

The musical banging and clanging of the radiator in my office once again reminds me of the beautiful musical tones from ordinary everyday objects. Take this recent composition, featuring the dulcet tones of the Epson LQ 850:
Dot matrix printer plays Eye of the Tiger

Could material culture get any better than this? It almost brings a tear to my eye, thinking about dot matrix printers. (Almost). Each Tuesday and Thursday, by the way, I pass by an Epson dot matrix printer, covered in dust and dead flies, in the main hall of the Physics department (where I teach Intro Archaeology). The poor thing looks so sad. And so old. But it reminds me of the re-purposing of objects that we see in archaeology, and of curation behaviors. I think I will even use it as an example of technology, style, and function for class on Thursday. This poor printer also reminds me of my trip last spring to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View CA. More on that trip, later.

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