July 28, 2014

Cougars, eh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:32 pm

Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Archaeology students dig Mayan city

An archaeological dig site in Belize had plenty of Cougars.

Washington State University Vancouver students Penny Hughes, Richard Mahurin, and Justine Hanrahan were among the 12 students selected to participate in the Texas Tech University’s archaeology field school at the ancient Mayan city of Chan Chich.

Nothing terribly exciting, I just couldn’t resist.

A diversion into theory

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 4:33 pm

Archaeology per se is no more than a method and a set of specialized techniques for the gathering of cultural information. The archaeologist, as archaeologist, is really nothing but a technician. When he uses his findings to study architecture, he must employ the concepts developed in that field, and when he studies culture, he must use the theoretical structure erected by those who have made it their business to study culture, namely, the anthropologists. Therefore, archaeology is not to be equated either with ethnology which is the writing of cultural contexts, or with ethnology which is the comparative study of cultural phenomena. It is on a lower level of procedure and ceases to be merely archaeology when it utilizes the concepts of other disciplines such as ethnology, art, mythology, ceramics, architecture.
. . .
Here, then, is the answer to the query which titles this chapter: archaeology is neither history nor anthropology. As an autonomous discipline, it consists of a method and a set of specialized techniques for the gathering or “production” of cultural information.

That’s from Walter W. Taylor’s classic A Study of Archaeology pp.43-44. I bring it up because I’m reading it for the second time. It should have been the third time, but when it was assigned in my first theory class I mostly never got to it. But I’ve kept my copy all these years, and it’s survived several large book purges.

It’s a classic because it was more or less the first major work that attempted to overthrow the dominant paradigm of Americanist archaeology which was culture history. You can see that Taylor is arguing that archaeology really has no theory of its own; it must borrow from other disciplines to explain its own data. That is, archaeologists don’t collect (really, generate) archaeological data, they collect ethnographic data or architectural data, etc., depending on what their focus is at any given time. In a sense, he was correct: up to that point, archaeologists really didn’t have any theory of their own apart from a really unacknowledged theory of culture history which drove the creation of chronologies which in turn determined the sorts of data they collected/generated, namely historical types. These types were good at building seriations and tracking similarities across space and through time, but didn’t go a long way toward explaining why they worked the way they did. And that was part of the dissatisfaction with culture history.

So along comes Taylor who says “That’s okay, we need to be something besides archaeologists anyway”. Like ethnographers or historians or what have you.

Although it’s probably not a direct cause, it’s the same sort of thing that the New Archeology did: borrowed theory from other disciplines — quite deliberately because they were “scientific” — like systems theory, ecology, etc., and used archaeological data in their structure. Of course, the upshot of all this is that archaeological data acts as a poor substitute for the real data from the borrowed theories, and this causes enormous problems in application. For examples, if you’re borrowing from population geography and you need population densities, you’re stuck inferring those from house sizes, ethnographic analogy, etc. That’s essentially where Middle Range Theory came from, the need to develop techniques to use archaeological data to get at “real” data.

More later. . . . .

July 23, 2014

And more bodies

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:12 pm

I sense a theme developing. . . . .

Who Were the Ancient Bog Mummies? Surprising New Clues

Makes you do a free account so I didn’t excerpt anything from it.

Yet another find from a place I’ve never heard of

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:07 pm

Human skeleton is found in archaeological dig at Manuden

A HUMAN skeleton possibly dating from Anglo Saxon times was discovered during an archaeological dig in Manuden.

The remains were found close to the main road in one of 10 test pits that were dug in gardens of homes around the village.“The skeleton is thought to be male, about 6ft tall and it was a Christian burial as his hands were crossed over his pelvis,” said Fiona Bengtsen, chairman of Manuden and Berden History Society.

Interestingly, it was uncovered, photographed, and then covered up again.

July 22, 2014

“Braaaaains! Braaaains!”

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:57 pm

Maybe: Archaeologists Uncover 8,000-Year-Old Skull with Preserved Brain Matter

Archaeologists said that they have discovered what might have been an 8,000-year-old human skull from the Stone Age in Norway. Though researchers are still uncertain at this time if the remains are human, the skeleton also appears to have attached brain matter.

. . .

If the “grey and clack-like” material found inside the skull is preserved brain tissue, it could indeed be some of the oldest examples of a Stone Age man, who would have lived some 3.4 million years ago.

Hmmmm.. . . . .interesting contrast there. =)

July 21, 2014

So, Clovis hunted something besides mammoth and mastodon after all

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 2:51 pm

Meet the gomphothere: Archaeologists discover bones of elephant ancestor

Archaeologists have discovered artifacts of the prehistoric Clovis culture mingled with the bones of two gomphotheres – an ancient ancestor of the elephant – at an archaeological site in northwestern Mexico.

The discovery suggests that the Clovis – the earliest widespread group of hunter-gatherers to inhabit North America – likely hunted and ate gomphotheres. The members of the Clovis culture were already well-known as hunters of the gomphotheres’ cousins, mammoths and mastodons.

Assuming it pans out as an actual kill site, it’s I think only the second genus known to have been hunted in North America.

Also: Nat Geo report

“This is a giant head”

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 2:48 pm

Summer camp offers archaeology dig at UTSA

Neat camp. Video at the link. I saw at least one filling out a form so it looks like they’re teaching them at least some of the tedious sort of paper-shuffling that goes on instead of just finding cool stuff.

July 15, 2014

Not someone finishing their dissertation

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:21 pm

5 Heart-Warming and Heart-Breaking Archaeological Discoveries

Some nice little stories, but LINKS people, LINKS.

Ruler of the kittehs. . . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:05 pm

1,500-Year-Old Claws Intrigue Archaeologists in Peru

Archaeologists in Peru say they have unearthed the previously unknown tomb of a nobleman from a pre-Inca civilization known as the Moche. The tomb contained the remains of an adult male, plus artifacts indicating the man’s elite status, according to the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio.

Among the most intriguing artifacts are ornamental metal pieces fashioned to look like feline paws with claws. The paws may have been part of a ritual costume used in ceremonial combat, El Comercio reported. The loser would be sacrificed, while the winner would get the costume.

That’s something I’ve never seen before. I don’t know how much of that ritual combat stuff is speculation though.

July 14, 2014

Together beyond the grave

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:16 pm

Yet another one: Russian archaeologists unearth ‘Romeo and Juliet of the Bronze Age’

It’s another case of a couple of skeletons apparently positioned in some sort of embrace. This is probably the fourth of fifth one of these I’ve linked to over the years, so I’m starting to think it was more common than one might realize. Of course, it usually necessitates the two dying at the same time. Short film at the link which doesn’t provide much additional information.

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