August 19, 2015

Well, okay, here’s another one

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:42 am

This has been getting some linkage on the Internets: The famous Robert Frost poem we’ve read wrong forever

It is the most famous poem in American literature, a staple of pop songs, newspaper columnists and valedictorian speeches. It is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
Everyone can quote those final two lines. But everyone, writes David Orr in his new book “The Road Not Taken” (Penguin Press), gets the meaning wrong.
The poem is praised as an ode of individuality, to not follow the pack even though the path may be more difficult.
Except Frost notes early in the poem that the two roads were “worn . . . really about the same.” There is no difference. It’s only later, when the narrator recounts this moment, that he says he took the road less traveled.

I’ve never actually read it, though I am familiar with the line. I doubt this article will resolve anything since the poem itself seems to be rather confused. At first it sounds like he’s talking about two paths, equally well-traveled and he decides to take the one: his choice. Then later he says the one he took the one less-traveled.

Don’t take poets at face value. Appreciate the language.

August 10, 2015

From pot to bodies

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:17 pm

Archaeologists Excavate Graves of Jamestown’s Leaders

In late 2010, the archaeologists working at Jamestown found five deep post holes, matching colony records of a 60-foot-long church known to have been built in early 1608, after a fire destroyed much of the fort. The first Protestant church built in the New World, the building fell into disrepair during the bleak winter of 1609-10, a period known as the “starving time” in Jamestown, but was later repaired and in 1614 saw the wedding of Englishman John Rolfe to the Native American princess Pocahontas. (The red-brick tower, the only 17th-century structure still standing above ground in Jamestown, actually belonged to the colony’s fifth church, built in the 1670s-‘80s.)

Inside the chancel, or altar area, located at the east end of the ruined 1608 church, archaeologists found four side-by-side graves. Excavations of the graves in November 2013 yielded only 30 percent of each skeleton, but the researchers were able to use forensic testing along with archaeological, historical and genealogical records to determine the identity of the graves’ inhabitants.

The interesting bit is the part about the box.


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:11 pm

Cannabis discovered in tobacco pipes found in William Shakespeare’s garden

South African scientists have discovered that 400-year-old tobacco pipes excavated from the garden of William Shakespeare contained cannabis, suggesting the playwright might have written some of his famous works while high.
Residue from early 17th century clay pipes found in the playwright’s garden, and elsewhere in Stratford-Upon-Avon, were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry, the Independent reports.

Better article.

I suppose it’s not all that secure that, even if the piped were found in his garden, that he was the one using them. That said, people were doing an awful lot to make themselves feel better including drinking prodigious amounts and smoking a lot of stuff.

August 6, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:16 pm

French archaeology students find 560,000-year-old human tooth

Two students have found a human tooth from about 560,000 years ago in a famous prehistoric cave in southwestern France, a discovery praised by archaeologists as the oldest human body part ever discovered in the country and being rare from that period in Europe.

The tooth was found last week during excavations at Tautavel, one of Europe’s most important prehistoric sites, where about 40 volunteers are working under the supervision of scientists.

Paleoanthropologist Tony Chevalier, researcher at Tautavel’s archaeological laboratory, called it a “major discovery.”

I was all set to make a sorta snarky comment on the hotness of the (female) “French archaeology student” but she’s 16 so forget it.

August 5, 2015

And they’re awful cute

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:20 pm

Sea Otters Use Tools, and Archaeologists Are On the Case

For a long time, we thought of tool use as the thing that made us human, but we actually share the ability with many other primates, as well as surprising animals like crows and sea otters. Some archaeologists are interested in studying sea otters’ tools.

Archaeologists have studied the history of human tool use, through the physical things our ancestors left behind, for decades. In recent years, some archaeologists have started using the same methods to study chimpanzee tool use by looking at the tools they discard, and even the waste that gets left behind when a chimpanzee makes a tool. Now, a small group of primate archaeologists wants to take a look at sea otters.

Sea otters are one of handful of non-primate species in the world that uses tools. From a young age, some sea otters learn to use rocks to crack snail shells to get at the soft, edible bits inside.

That was pretty long ago that anyone thought that tool use was a human-defining trait, but point taken.

July 29, 2015

Misuse of ‘archaeologist’ #13,478

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:15 pm

Alaskan Archaeologists Find and Identify New Plesiosaur Species

An Anchorage, Alaska-based fossil collector named Curvin Metzler has recently announced that discovery of fossil bones of an elasmosaur—a type of plesiosaur. Metzler says that this species has very long limbs and necks like paddles, a feature which would have definitely allowed the animal to swim efficiently underwater.

According to University of Alaska Museum of the North earth science curator and marine expert Patrick Druckenmiller, notes, “Picture the mythical Loch Ness monster and you have a pretty good idea what it looked like.”

Not a terribly exciting story but I wanted to point that out.

July 23, 2015

Same ones that brought the chickens?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:56 am

Studies find genetic signature of native Australians in the Americas

The first paper takes the view that it’s a product of a later addition to the already established population in North America, probably brought in by a group that was largely East Asian but had interbred with Australo-Melanesians. Whatever this group was, it appears to have vanished from Siberia and East Asia.

The second paper, however, argues that the Australo-Melanesian DNA couldn’t have gotten to the Amazon undisturbed if it were just randomly being spread through interbreeding. Instead, a distinct population must have taken it there. Because the population is still largely Native American on the DNA level, but contains some DNA distantly related to Australo-Melanesians, its authors argue that this population originated in Asia and came to the Americas via a second migration.

These chickens. Purley speculation on my part.

July 21, 2015

And not so breaking news

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:00 pm

Well, not really “news” at all, via Althouse: Art historical horticulture? (scroll down)

Horticulture professors Jim Nienhuis and Irwin Goldman co-teach what may be one of the few horticulture classes in the world that visits an art museum: Hort 370, World Vegetable Crops.

“Vegetables are perishable (as opposed to grains), and were domesticated prior to photography, but Renaissance art saves the day,” says Nienhuis. “We’re interested in the color, shape and sizes of the vegetables from 400 years ago, compared to modern cultivars of the same vegetables: the deep sutures on cantaloupe in Italian art of the Renaissance or the lack of pigmentation in pictures of watermelon compared to today.”

That’s one way to do it. One would expect that they would have painted such things realistically? I dunno, I’m not an art historian.

July 20, 2015

Okay then

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:23 pm

Weird Horse-Cows and 6-Legged Sheep Found in Iron Age Burials

Weird, “hybridized” animal skeletons, including a cow-horse and a six-legged sheep litter the bottom of storage pits in an Iron Age site in England, archaeologists have found. One pit even holds the bones of a woman with a slit throat laid on top of animal bones, the scientists said.

The unusual remains belong to an ancient people who lived in southern England from about 400 B.C. until just before the Roman invasion, in A.D. 43, said dig co-director Paul Cheetham, a senior lecturer in archaeology at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom.


I have not heard of this before. The proffered explanation makes some sense though.

Not unlike (actually, completely unlike, but whatever) the Centaur of Volos (which I saw in Madison WI once).

July 16, 2015

Footprints, now fingerprints

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:51 pm

Denmark: Archaeologists Find Artisan’s 5,500-year-old Fingerprint in Ceramic Vessel

Archaeologists unearthed pieces of a ceramic vessel from an ancient fjord east of Rødbyhavn near Lolland, Denmark on the south coast. The 5,500-year-old ceramic vessel is known as a funnel beaker because of the characteristic funnel-shaped neck and the accompanying flat bottom of the vase.

Altogether, archaeologists found three beakers at the site. When they were brought to the Danish National Museum, upon closer inspection, experts found a fingerprint just within one of the ceramic vessels.

These aren’t all that rare; I found one myself on a piece of mud plaster with a (I assume) thumb print on it in Egypt.

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