January 30, 2015

A personal oddity

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:58 am

Kind of off-topic, but you may quit reading if you like. Just wanted to post that Colleen McCullough passed away yesterday (Jan. 29). Apparently, her obit is causing a stir among feminist circles as it referred to her weight and lack of hotness. But I don’t care about that, because it’s not about ME.

What is about me is that I, um, became rather fixated on The Thorn Birds back in my undergrad days. I know, it’s kind of on par with my fondness for new age music. Nevertheless, I did quite like it. Recall this was the early 1980s when all things Australian were the rage here (Men At Work, Crocodile Dundee, Elle Macpherson). Add to that I was just getting into the nitty gritty of archaeology and spending hours and hours pawing through bones and junk, and going through some personal stuff involving a young lady and thinking the French Foreign Legion sounded like a nice alternative career path, and you have a recipe for latching onto some sweeping period tale involving love and loss. I still think it’s a pretty nice book, more on the chick-lit side to be sure, but I enjoyed it. Still do, I read it every couple of years. Primarily, I like the idea of self-sacrifice for something better:

“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to outcarol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain… Or so says the legend.”

Which is very true. Most very successful people sacrifice an awful lot to be the best at what they do. Though after watching many archaeologists who I considered very successful lead really screwed up lives, it started to wear on me whether or not I wanted to go that route.

Much of the language is really stilted; I think Rachel Ward who played one of the main characters in the miniseries hated the role and some of the lines she had to say (I watched it but didn’t care much for it). I still quote some of them to myself every now and then (“Nothing is given without a disadvantage in it” which is really true). I know a lot of Aussies who hate it (“That’s nothing like Australia!”), but I don’t like it because I think it describes Oz with great accuracy. I just like the story.

Odd, but for someone who doesn’t read much fiction, the two books that probably most influenced my young life were both fiction: The Thorn Birds and James P. Hogan’s Inherit The Stars. Both of those I feel almost compelled to read every couple of years, and they are so very different. The ArchaeoWife even bought me a decent hardcover first edition of Thorn Birds a few years ago because my old paperback was falling apart.

So anyway. Thanks, Colleen. Requiescat in Pace.

January 26, 2015

Yet another thing I’ve never heard of

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:15 pm

Moat ruins found in Japan may be part of a burial mound for an ancient emperor

Archaeologists in Japan have unearthed a huge stone-paved moat in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, which they believe is part of a burial mound for an ancient emperor. The finding adds to a string of fascinating discoveries in the small village of Asuka, from pyramid-like structures to multiple carved granite stones in peculiar shapes dotted across the region.
According to The Asashi Shimbun, the remnants of the moat, which were found at the archaeological site of Koyamada, measure 48 meters (158ft) in length and 3.9 (13ft) to 7 meters (23ft) in width. The moat is lined with 40-centimeter quartz diorite boulders along its northern slope, while the southern slope is covered with flagstones stacked in a staircase pattern, and the bottom is covered with smaller rocks.

They reconstructed it (“artist’s conception”) to look much like the stepped pyramid at Saqqara. Pretty significant structure, too.

January 21, 2015

Either way. . . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:34 pm

Woman’s Death Attributed to 19th-Century Polar Bear Attack

It had been thought that the woman was killed by a gunshot wound because of the holes on either side of her cranium, but museum archaeologist Karen Ryan and her colleagues thought it more likely that the woman had been attacked by an animal. They created a 3-D image of the skull, and sent it to the Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic Project at Idaho State University, where the technicians compared the wounds to the bites of different Arctic animals without actually handling the woman’s remains. An adult female polar bear made a good match.

January 20, 2015

Grecian tomb formula

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:50 pm

Mystery of Greece’s Alexander the Great-era tomb deepens with body discoveries

A vast tomb built in the time of Alexander the Great in Greece contains the ancient remains of five people, archaeologists announced on Monday, deepening the mystery as to who it was dedicated to.
Archaeologists unearthed bones from at least five people, including a woman aged over 60, a newborn baby, two men aged between 35 and 45 and another adult of indeterminate age.
The bones of one of the men bore cut marks which were likely to have come from a sword or a dagger, the Greek culture ministry said, adding a new twist to the occupants of the necropolis.

There’s a little video there that adds some to the text. I would guess at least some of the individuals are ‘intrusive’ to the main burial.

January 19, 2015

Kennewick update

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 10:01 am

First DNA tests say Kennewick Man was Native American

Nearly two decades after the ancient skeleton called Kennewick Man was discovered on the banks of the Columbia River, the mystery of his origins appears to be nearing resolution.

Genetic analysis is still under way in Denmark, but documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act say preliminary results point to a Native-American heritage.

The researchers performing the DNA analysis “feel that Kennewick has normal, standard Native-American genetics,” according to a 2013 email to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the care and management of the bones. “At present there is no indication he has a different origin than North American Native American.”

That is, he shared the same ancestors as the majority of early migrants. Owsley based his determination of Ainu relatedness on the shape of the skull, but the DNA is far more definitive. Sadly, it will probably eventually force his reburial.

January 8, 2015

Hannah was unavailable for comment

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:02 pm

Ancient Amulet Discovered with Curious Palindrome Inscription

The amulet contains a Greek inscription, 59 letters long, which reads the same backwards as it does forwards, a feature known as a palindrome. The three letters at the very bottom, ΕΑΙ, were squeezed in and are hard to read. The amulet is about 1.4 inches by 1.6 inches (34.9 millimeters by 41.2 millimeters) in size. The inscription translates as “Iahweh is the bearer of the secret name, the lion of Re secure in his shrine.” Although the translation doesn’t read as a palindrome, the original ancient Greek text does.

It’s hard to see it on the image of the amulet but they have a text version of the inscription that shows it clearly.

January 7, 2015

The only reason I post this. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:50 pm

Is because I was doing a phone survey the other day and when I mentioned that I was an archaeologist the (utterly delightful) interviewer mentioned she’d heard of some city discovered in Turkey: Large Underground City Discovered in Turkey

An underground city estimated to be 5,000 years old has been discovered in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province, surrounding Nevşehir fortress, which sits on a conical-shaped hill. The area was being prepared by the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) for an urban transformation project. “It is not a known underground city. Tunnel passages of seven kilometers are being discussed. We stopped the construction we were planning to do on these areas when an underground city was discovered,” TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan told Hurriyet Daily News.

Not much there, but I thought that was interesting.

January 6, 2015

Testing. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:18 pm

Having trouble posting. . . . .

January 5, 2015

Homer not Homer?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 12:24 pm

Author Says a Whole Culture—Not a Single ‘Homer’—Wrote ‘Iliad,’ ‘Odyssey’

The Iliad and The Odyssey are two of the key works of Western civilization. But almost nothing is known about their author and the date and manner of their creation. In Why Homer Matters, historian and award-winning author Adam Nicolson suggests that Homer be thought of not as a person but as a tradition and that the works attributed to him go back a thousand years earlier than generally believed.

Speaking from his home in England, Nicolson describes how being caught in a storm at sea inspired his passion for Homer, how the oral bards of the Scottish Hebrides may hold the key to understanding Homer’s works, and why smartphones are connecting us to ancient oral traditions in new and surprising ways.

That idea has been kicking around for decades if not centuries. I remember discussing (read: listening to a professor/TA tell us) as an undergrad that this “Homer” chap, whoever he was (if anybody), probably wrote down various oral histories into a single place and ended up famous for it. I end up re-reading the Odyssey every couple of years, albeit in the prose version. The Iliad, not so much. Lots of good gore, but not as much fun as Scyllas and Cyclopes and Calypsos and what-not.

January 4, 2015

Revving things up for the new year

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:38 pm

Pictures of pyramids from Nat Geo:

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