May 23, 2016

Speaking of vampires. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:03 pm

Which we weren’t, actually, but whatever:
Archaeology of the Undead

In folkloric sources as diverse as Babylonian literature, the shroud-eating Nachzehrer of Germanic tradition, and the Chiang-Shih “hopping vampires” of Chinese legend, notions of corpses rising from the grave have long been documented. But what these new archaeological datasets reveal is that these ancient accounts weren’t just stories that our ancestors told to each other on dark and stormy nights. Many of our forefathers were genuinely scared, taking time and trouble to ensure that the dead stayed where they belong.

Pretty good little summary article. One of the studies is available online here. They do note that — as I think I’ve mentioned once or twice — that one shouldn’t automatically assume “vampire” whenever a burial looks funny, although they may often have been thinking more like “zombie”.

I’m tired of zombies, btw.

April 19, 2016

A couple of complementary links

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 4:06 pm


One creative attempt to estimate how widespread such dishonesty really is involves comparisons between fields of varying “hardness.” The author, Daniele Fanelli, theorized that the farther from physics one gets, the more freedom creeps into one’s experimental methodology, and the fewer constraints there are on a scientist’s conscious and unconscious biases. If all scientists were constantly attempting to influence the results of their analyses, but had more opportunities to do so the “softer” the science, then we might expect that the social sciences have more papers that confirm a sought-after hypothesis than do the physical sciences, with medicine and biology somewhere in the middle. This is exactly what the study discovered: A paper in psychology or psychiatry is about five times as likely to report a positive result as one in astrophysics. This is not necessarily evidence that psychologists are all consciously or unconsciously manipulating their data—it could also be evidence of massive publication bias—but either way, the result is disturbing.

Read, as they say, the whole thing. He makes several salient points about the various biases that can creep in on a macro level having to do with the business of science, but as I’ve argued here before there are globs and globs of biases that can creep in apart from that. One portion that struck with me is the way science is operating in society these days:

Which brings us to the odd moment in which we live. At the same time as an ever more bloated scientific bureaucracy churns out masses of research results, the majority of which are likely outright false, scientists themselves are lauded as heroes and science is upheld as the only legitimate basis for policy-making. There’s reason to believe that these phenomena are linked. When a formerly ascetic discipline suddenly attains a measure of influence, it is bound to be flooded by opportunists and charlatans, whether it’s the National Academy of Science or the monastery of Cluny.
. . .
The Cult is related to the phenomenon described as “scientism”; both have a tendency to treat the body of scientific knowledge as a holy book or an a-religious revelation that offers simple and decisive resolutions to deep questions. But it adds to this a pinch of glib frivolity and a dash of unembarrassed ignorance. Its rhetorical tics include a forced enthusiasm (a search on Twitter for the hashtag “‪#‎sciencedancing‬” speaks volumes) and a penchant for profanity. Here in Silicon Valley, one can scarcely go a day without seeing a t-shirt reading “Science: It works, b—es!” The hero of the recent popular movie The Martian boasts that he will “science the sh— out of” a situation. One of the largest groups on Facebook is titled “I f—ing love Science!” (a name which, combined with the group’s penchant for posting scarcely any actual scientific material but a lot of pictures of natural phenomena, has prompted more than one actual scientist of my acquaintance to mutter under her breath, “What you truly love is pictures”).

I loathe that IFLS site as well as its bastard children involving bad language and archaeology and refuse to even link to them here. Because, you know, watching Big Bang Theory doesn’t make you a Science Geek.

Related is this: A Decades-Old Study, Rediscovered, Challenges Advice on Saturated Fat

So what was the result? Despite being one of the largest controlled clinical dietary trials of its kind ever conducted, the data were never fully analyzed.

Several years ago, Christopher E. Ramsden, a medical investigator at the National Institutes of Health, learned about the long-overlooked study. Intrigued, he contacted the University of Minnesota in hopes of reviewing the unpublished data. Dr. Frantz, who died in 2009, had been a prominent scientist at the university, where he studied the link between saturated fat and heart disease. One of his closest colleagues was Ancel Keys, an influential scientist whose research in the 1950s helped establish saturated fat as public health enemy No. 1, prompting the federal government to recommend low-fat diets to the entire nation.

We just don’t know much about anything really.

April 14, 2016

Lost civilization round rock. . . .found.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:20 pm

Mysterious giant sphere unearthed in forest divides opinion

This round rock could be the oldest stone sphere made by human hands, says Bosnian archaeologist Semir Osmanagic.

Discovered in a forest near the Bosnian town Zavidovici, the ball has a radius of between four and five feet, and an “extremely high” iron content.

Dr Osmanagic believes the sphere proves the existence of an advanced lost civilisation dating back more than 1,500 years ago.

Wonder if he found it at the base of the pyramid. . . .

April 5, 2016

Archaeology going to pot(s)

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:52 pm

Ancient Non-Stick Pan Factory Found in Italy

Giglio and colleagues found more than 50,000 fragments of lids, pots and pans of various sizes and thickness, each featuring a very distinct coating.

“All the defective artifacts were dumped here. These pieces help us enormously to reconstruct the way the pottery was manufactured,” Giglio said.

Many of the fragments featured the thick internal red-slip coating that provided a non-adherent surface, making the pots and pans ideal for cooking meat-based stews.

Yup. At Memphis my area had (apparently) been a dumping ground for a ceramics manufacturing outfit and, in addition to various penii, we found at least a couple whole little vessels, both of them fairly well deformed. Which I thought was kinda neat: the little bowls that ended up rejected were the few to survive the millennia intact.

March 22, 2016

Bodies, bodies everywhere!

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:05 pm

Iron Age remains of 150 people discovered at Yorkshire housing development site

A “hugely important” Iron Age burial ground has been unearthed at a housing development site in Yorkshire.

The 2,000-year-old skeletons and personal effects of 150 ancient Britons was discovered in the small town of Pocklington in east Yorkshire, during excavations at a site which property developer David Wilson Homes had earmarked for 77 new houses.
As The Guardian reports, 65 small square burial mounds were discovered across the site, with archaeologists uncovering human remains, jewellery, and ancient weapons like swords, spears and shields.

Doesn’t say much about the preservation but it ought to give yet more demographic and disease data.

Crucifix or. . . . ?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:03 pm

Extraordinary find: Denmarks oldest crucifix

On Friday March 11th something very special appeared from the ground in a field near Aunslev at Eastern Funen. Dennis Fabricius Holm was out searching with his metal detector and made an exceptional find. Immediately he contacted the archaeologist at Østfyns Museer, Malene Beck.

Dennis had found a small gold pendant, 4,1 cm in height, in the shape of a man with outstretched arms – the image of Christ. The figure is made of fine articulated goldthreads and small filigree pellets and weighs around 13,2 grams. The reverse side is smooth. At the top a small eye for the chain is mounted. The cross looks a lot like the gilded silver cross found in 1879 in Birka near Stockholm in Sweden, in a female grave from the Viking Age. (grave 660).

I dunno. Doesn’t scream out “Christian Crucifix” to me necessarily.

March 15, 2016

I’ve got the scoop. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:48 pm

The Very Serious Archaeological Quest For Lewis And Clark’s Poop

It’s a story that can look very different from the point of view of Native Americans rather than whites, but it remains a major part of the founding myth of the Pacific Northwest. And yet, we have very little tangible evidence of their journey; moving water and growing trees would have wiped out most traces over the last two centuries.

But Burke Museum Executive Director Julie Stein wound up involved in a unique bit of detective work to turn up evidence of Lewis and Clark’s outpost near the Pacific, along the Columbia River. It was, to put it bluntly, an all-out quest to find the historical figures’ poop.

They’re looking at the outhouse which, as we’ve seen here many times, can provide a lot of information on the health of the people producing it, from parasites to diet.

UPDATE: I just listened to it. Julie talks about a pill that is essentially an emetic, which has been used since at least ancient Egypt for pretty much anything. It basically makes you purge from both orifices.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Village of Cadzow

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:44 pm

VIDEO: Finding ‘lost’ village of Cadzow on M74, Hamilton, was a shock to archaeologists

Archaeologists were shocked to uncover remains of the lost village of Cadzow so close to the M74 motorway.

They had no idea four buildings and a range of artefacts, dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, were buried next to the carriageway.

Kevin Mooney and Warren Bailie are part of an archaeological team hired by Transport Scotland to examine the area earmarked for the motorway extension.

They spent 18 months examining the area before discovering the remains of the village just past junction six.

Okay, the video is all of 12 seconds long so don’t even bother.

March 10, 2016

A bit of ancient music

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:23 pm

This was making the rounds a while ago but I didn’t get to it:

“Hurrian Hymn No. 6” is considered the world’s earliest melody, but the oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the “Seikilos Epitaph.” The song was found engraved on an ancient marble column used to mark a woman’s gravesite in Turkey. “I am a tombstone, an image,” reads an inscription. “Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.” The column also includes musical notation as well as a short set of lyrics that read: “While you live, shine / Have no grief at all / Life exists only for a short while / And time demands its toll.”

The well-preserved inscriptions on Seikilos Epitaph have allowed modern musicians and scholars to recreate its plaintive melodies note-for-note. Dr. David Creese of the University of Newcastle performed it using an eight-stringed instrument played with a mallet, and ancient music researcher Michael Levy has recorded a version strummed on a lyre. There have also been several attempts to decode and play “Hurrian Hymn No. 6,” but because of difficulties in translating its ancient tablets, there is no definitive version. One of the most popular interpretations came in 2009, when Syrian composer Malek Jandali performed the ancient hymn with a full orchestra.

I made a copy of the sound file and uploaded it so y’all can have a listen as well:
Hurrian Hymn #6.

March 7, 2016

Maybe they were just sidewalks. . . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:11 pm

Curators in Eastbourne are remaking a Bronze Age track using Bronze Age tools

To answer some of these questions archaeologists are stepping back in time to recreate part of the trackway for a new exhibition, Making Tracks: Eastbourne’s Bronze Age Mystery, which will take visitors on a journey through the environment of the Bronze Age landscape.

The exhibition posits five possible theories as to why the trackway was built and clusters them around the themes of Village, Ritual, Trading Post, Super-Farm and Melting Pot.

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