October 30, 2014

Did you ever wonder. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:39 am

Were Chinese workers cheaper than English horses?

I calculate, the unit labour cost (wage relative to productivity) of horse haulage in England, compared with the in extremis case of human-only portage in China, would have been 2:1 in silver-money terms and 3:1 in PPP terms. (See the first post in the comments section for my calculation.) This implies that for any given acre’s worth of goods made accessible by human portage, horse haulage was 2-3 times as cheap/productive. No, this does not take into consideration that using horses probably saved on the number of wagons/carts. And presumably you could not produce 5 hp with 50 men because, as a speculative example, the canal walkways weren’t wide enough. (As with most input substitutes, the isoquant curve for horses/substitutes is convex to the origin, and there is a diminishing marginal rate of technical substitution — but not inordinately.) But the point is, the 20:1 ratio is in no way plausible, especially since the Chinese also must have driven oxen, mules and donkeys.

Interesting read if you’re at all interested.

October 27, 2014

Well. . . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:10 pm

Archaeologists in Peruvian Andes Find Highest Known Ice Age Settlement

Archaeologists exploring the Peruvian Andes have uncovered perhaps the highest Ice Age settlement in the world, a tool-littered campground reaching up to 14,700 feet above sea level, according to new research.

Despite the cold and dangerously thin air, prehistoric men and women made themselves at home in these dizzying heights starting about 12,400 years ago, only 2,000 years or so after people first arrived in South America, the scientists reported Thursday in Science.

Video at the link that describes the whys and hows in more detail so it’s worth watching. It actually seems to be a quarry site but the video makes it sound like it was continuously inhabited.

October 22, 2014

Paleontologist <> Archaeologist

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:54 pm

Again: The kung-fu stegosaur: Archaeologists find the lumbering plant-eating dinosaurs used giant spiked tails as a killer weapon

October 12, 2014

Yes, I’m back.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 9:14 am

Halfway decent trip. We did the Olympic Peninsula circle again this year, first spending a few days in and around Lake Quinault, in the rainforest. Of course, as like previous years, save for one, there was no rain in the rain forest. Which was fine by me, the rain looks neat for a few hours but then you get tired of everything being all wet all the time. We mostly did some minor hiking around, mostly unlaxing and eating. Then around and up to Sequim for somewhat more civilized environs and activities.

Following is a photographic essay with very little archaeological content, but there is some. This first photo is the view out of the cabin on Lake Quinault. More photos after the break.
Desert Fox
(more…)

September 23, 2014

And speaking of hoaxes. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:52 pm

Fakes!

For now. . . . . .

September 22, 2014

Yeah. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:08 pm

No

Lost civilization civilization. . .hmmm, what?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:08 pm

Ruins of Ancient City Discovered in Australian Desert

A team of archaeologists working for the Australian National University, who were proceeding to an excavation near the sandstone rock formation of Uluru, has unearthed the ruins of a large precolonial city dating back to more than 1500 years ago. The important number of tombs and artefacts already discovered on the site suggests that it could have been the capital of an ancient empire, completely unknown to historians until now.

The site which was first noticed on satellite pictures taken in October 2013, using a newly developed ground-penetrating radar. The images revealed many 90° angles and various common geographic figures over a 16 km2 area, leading the team of scientists to direct some archaeological excavations on the spot, starting in May 2014. Over the last few months, many structures have been unearthed including what looks like a royal palace, a few temples, large rainwater reservoirs, workshops and dozens of houses.

A lot of burials, too:

Pretty spectacular, I’d say.

September 15, 2014

Skeletons in love

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:12 pm

Two 1,000-year-old skeletons holding hands found by archaeologists in Leicestershire

Centuries-old skeletons holding hands have been uncovered at a “lost” chapel by archaeologists.

The remains, of a man and a woman, were found at the Chapel of St Morrell, an ancient site of pilgrimage in Hallaton.

Tiles from a Roman building, were found underneath the chapel.

No photos except for one not showing the remains. This is probably the 6th or 7th one of these I’ve seen since blogging.

Big ol’ Greek tomb update

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:07 pm

From National Geographic:

This past weekend the excavation team, led by Greek archaeologist Katerina Peristeri, announced the discovery of two elegant caryatids—large marble columns sculpted in the shape of women with outstretched arms—that may have been intended to bar intruders from entering the tomb’s main room.

“I don’t know of anything quite like them,” says Philip Freeman, a professor of classics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

September 10, 2014

RIP Fred Nick

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:41 pm

Got this sad news in the mail today:

“Dear colleagues: I know some of you have heard this news, but I wanted to make sure all of you are aware of this. Fred Nick, the former Director of CSSCR (Center for Social Science Computation and Research), died this past Friday of a heart attack. Fred retired just one year ago, after serving for more than forty years in this position. He was an indescribable support to so many social scientists, from undergraduate students to beginning graduate students, to frustrated dissertators, to junior faculty struggling to learn new systems, to seasoned social science faculty undertaking new projects, using new data sets, and to so many others. When I came to the UW in 1982, CSSCR was right down the hall from my office. I turned to Fred more times than I care to count. Fred’s constant availability, generosity, and patience, were legendary. There was no problem too small, no problem too difficult, for Fred.”

Fred was one of those Great Guys. He was there when I started grad school back in 1986. Back then, of course, computing was in its relative infancy and social scientists tended to be notoriously computer-ignorant. Not all, of course, many of the archaeology faculty were way ahead of the curve, and we ended up using the computing facilities for much of our class work. In those days there were a few PCs, but mostly we used minis and mainframes, the latter primarily DEC Vax’s of various flavors. We used terminals and line printers as well. Most of the software was some graphics (I use the term somewhat loosely) and statistics, notably Minitab and SPSS.

And fred was there as the main support contact and instructor. And he was excellent at both. He was a big bearded friendly bear of a man, and I don’t really recall him ever being snarky or mean or anything like that. He was patient with those who were new to computers and his method of teaching was very straightforward and stepwise, doing the basics of what people really needed to do without trying to instruct everyone on the ins and outs of operating systems, etc., which would just be confusing. A really excellent teacher.

Since I was kind of a geek, I hung out at CSSCR a lot. And made a lot of good, though sadly as it turned out, temporary friends there. Mostly with his undergraduate research assistants who worked there as consultants and helped us a lot with our geeky extra-curricular projects. Some of these may or may not have involved text-based and semi-graphical adventure games, but mostly it was a lot of data whacking. And Fred was always there to answer our questions and shoot the breeze with us. I went back a few years ago for some reason, and Fred was still there and took out some time to talk over whatever it was. I’m guessing he would have been able to make a bundle in the private sector in an IT department somewhere, but I think he was happy where he was.

So long, Fred. I’m sure you’ll be up there ready to show us the ropes when we get there as well.

I’m leaving this up all day tomorrow (Sep 11) so it will be at the top of the page for a full day.

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