August 23, 2016

“Balls,” said the Queen. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:42 pm

Tool or weapon?

“Our study suggests that the throwing of stones played a key role in the evolution of hunting,” said Bingham, a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and an author on the study. “We don’t think that throwing is the sole, or even primary, function of these spheroids, but these results show that this function is an option that warrants reconsidering as a potential use for this long-lived, multipurpose tool.”

The use of these stones, which date from between 1.8 million and 70,000 years ago, has puzzled archaeologists since they were unearthed at the Cave of Hearths in South Africa’s Makapan Valley nearly 30 years ago.

I suppose a round rock about the size of one’s hand would be useful in a number of contexts. Chucking it at some jerk you took a dislike to is just one of them.

August 17, 2016

And this is even coolerer.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 1:02 pm

Hear The Epic of Gilgamesh Read in the Original Akkadian and Enjoy the Sounds of Mesopotamia

There’s an embedded link to even more there. I like this. Not sure of the accuracy of the pronunciation — I don’t know anything about how they came up with it — but it’s weirdly familiar but different at the same time. Alien.

And for the ladies, here is an artist’s conception of what an ancient Akkadian may have looked like:

August 16, 2016

And this is cooler

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:09 pm

Northwest Archaeologists Reset Assumptions About Durability Of Biological Evidence

I like the photo. Another one of those “Pretend like you’re actually doing something” shots.

For some reason I thought they’d already been getting residues from way way back.

This is cool

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:06 pm

Archaeologists have uncovered one of the biggest Maya tombs ever

I probably would have done Maya archaeology if I’d had the chance. Probably would have hated all the bugs though.

August 9, 2016

Yet another Neolithic problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 2:20 pm

A tale of two Neolithics? Investigating the evolution of house societies in Orkney

The traditional understanding of the Neolithic period in Orkney has long been of a game of two halves, with each half represented by completely different cultural packages. The ‘early’ phase, in the 4th millennium BC, was associated with simple, single farmsteads and ‘stalled’ burial cairns (so-called because their interiors are divided into compartments using upright stones projecting from the side walls). They also contain Unstan ware pottery, a shallow, round-bottomed form with decoration limited to a collar below the rim. Sweeping in at the turn of the 3rd millennium BC, the late Neolithic apparently brought with it villages, passage-grave tombs, and flat-bottomed, ornately decorated Grooved ware pottery. With no clear sign of a transition between these two phenomena, it was suggested that this break might represent the arrival of a new group replacing the earlier culture. Recent analysis, however, is presenting a more nuanced picture. New dating evidence confirms an idea originally suggested by Colin Renfrew, blurring the lines between ‘early’ and ‘late’ Neolithic categories.

There’s a similar thing that’s gone on with the Egyptian Neolithic and its relationship to the previous Epipaleolithic (I summarized it here). Control of chronology is really very crucial, which sounds obvious, but too often it’s taken somewhat for granted.

August 6, 2016

[Insert Monty Python jokes here]

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:16 am

Dark Ages royal palace discovered in Cornwall – in area closely linked to the legend of King Arthur

The mysterious origins of the British archaeological site most often associated with the legend of King Arthur have just become even more mysterious.

Archaeologists have discovered the impressive remains of a probable Dark Age royal palace at Tintagel in Cornwall. It is likely that the one-metre thick walls being unearthed are those of the main residence of the 6th century rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia.

Scholars have long argued about whether King Arthur actually existed or whether he was in reality a legendary character formed through the conflation of a series of separate historical and mythological figures.

But the discovery by English Heritage-funded archaeologists of a probable Dark Age palace at Tintagel will certainly trigger debate in Arthurian studies circles – because, in medieval tradition, Arthur was said to have been conceived at Tintagel as a result of an illicit union between a British King and the beautiful wife of a local ruler.

That’s actually a pretty good article. I found the amount of luxury trade items from the eastern Med there.

July 30, 2016

Speaking of the Must site. . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 4:54 pm

Shannon over at Facebook posted this, a tiny ball of intact yarn from the place.

July 26, 2016

Yeeeeeup.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:32 pm

Toronto’s archaeological treasures left to languish in basements: councillor

Toronto may be known for its shiny new condos, but it needs to do a better job taking care of its archaeological treasures, says Coun. Mike Layton.
Layton is leading a motion that will see the city take stock of artifacts that have been unearthed and look at facilities where they could be preserved.
Right now, many are in the hands of the archaeology firms that dug them up or are scattered “all over the city” in boxes and basements, Layton said.
“We’re in danger of actually losing some of these artefacts, let alone the opportunity to actually have a learning moment about our city, our region and our country,” he said.

You’ve got to put the stuff somewhere and even a small excavation can generate literally tons of material. Storing it for the long haul — meaning more than a few decades — is problematic.

July 20, 2016

Pretty sure I posted about this earlier. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 2:54 pm

History made: In an astonishing Bronze Age discovery a 3000-year-old community has been unearthed

British archaeologists working on the Must Farm project in England’s Cambridgeshire Fens can hardly restrain themselves.

Their online diary effervesces with superlatives — “truly fantastic pottery,” “truly exceptional textiles,” “a truly incredible site,” “the dig of a lifetime.”
Typically on prehistoric sites, you are lucky to find a few pottery shards, a mere hint or shadow of organic remains; generally archaeologists have to make do, have to interpret as best they can.
But this archaeological dig has turned out to be completely, thrillingly different.
For the last ten months — day by day, week by week — the excavation has yielded up a wealth of astonishing finds including pottery, textiles, metal work and ancient timbers. The dig offers, as site manager Mark Knight from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit put it, “a genuine snapshot” of a lost world — a prehistoric settlement from the Bronze Age some 3000 years ago.

June 22, 2016

Lucy update

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:05 pm

Lucy had neighbors: A review of African fossils

The 1974 discovery of Australopithecus afarensis, which lived from 3.8 to 2.9 million years ago, was a major milestone in paleoanthropology that pushed the record of hominins earlier than 3 million years ago and demonstrated the antiquity of human-like walking. Scientists have long argued that there was only one pre-human species at any given time before 3 million years ago that gave rise to another new species through time in a linear manner. This was what the fossil record appeared to indicate until the end of the 20th century. The discovery of Australopithecus bahrelghazali from Chad in 1995 and Kenyanthropus platyops from Kenya in 2001 challenged this idea. However, these two species were not widely accepted, rather considered as geographic variants of Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis. The discovery of the 3.4 million-year-old Burtele partial foot from the Woranso-Mille announced by Haile-Selassie in 2012 was the first conclusive evidence that another early human ancestor species lived alongside Australopithecus afarensis. In 2015, fossils recovered from Haile-Selassie’s ongoing research site at the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia were assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. However, the Burtele partial foot was not included in this species.

Not a terribly long review but it mentions the principles.
I actually read Lucy when I first started out in anthro/archy. I wouldn’t say — as Johanson has said many other people have told him — that it pushed me into anthro/archy (since I had already started my major in it), but it was certainly a solidifying agent.

I think I mentioned a few days ago that I went to see Lucy when she was here a few years ago. Very emotional for me.

Wait, actually I didn’t here, I did over at Facebook:

So I saw this movie last week:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2872732/

I quite liked it. Even watched it twice within a few days. I’d been meaning to see it, but never got around to it until now. Fun movie, although the science is totally whack.
Some anthropology does enter into it, of course, since the protagonist, Lucy, is linked ideationally in the film as analogous to Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis that Don Johanson discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Both are supposed to represent a ‘link’ to a new form (assumed to be a ‘higher’ form of life).
—- Spoiler Alert —-
(more…)

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