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

September 23, 2014

And speaking of hoaxes. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:52 pm


For now. . . . . .

September 22, 2014

Yeah. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:08 pm


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.

September 7, 2014

Jack the Ripper ID’d?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:04 am

DNA tests ‘prove’ that Jack the Ripper was a Polish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski

The breakthrough came when Dr Jari Louhelainen, an expert in historic DNA, was commissioned to study a shawl found with Eddowes, the second-last “confirmed” victim of the Ripper more than 125 years ago.

I’ll let y’all read the rest of it (not very long). I always favored Kosminski over the various other suspects since he fit the profile better than the others. . . and the kennings stopped right after he was arrested. I won’t state victory though, there’s not enough info on the tests and provenience and such yet. Ferinstance, just because his DNA was on it doesn’t necessarily mean he killed her (she was a prostitute after all), although I suppose the odds of him hooking up with that particular one seem to make a circumstantial case. I’d wager more than one person was convicted on less.

September 2, 2014

Coffee cans? Yes.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 3:46 pm

An archaeologist’s field guide to coffee cans

The coffee was Hills Bros. The can was vacuum-sealed. For more than a decade, no other coffee company mastered this technique, first used with butter. This made Hills Bros. of San Francisco the primary choice of early Gold Rush cabin dwellers. The pungent beverage was so popular in Alaska it inspired a local archaeologist to produce a field guide, the “Hills Bros. Coffee Can Chronology.”

Steve Lanford of the Bureau of Land Management in Fairbanks finds Hills Bros. cans valuable because 1) he finds the sturdy cans at old cabin sites all over Interior Alaska and 2) he knows that designers at the company changed the label often enough that the cans are a diagnostic tool helpful when pondering when someone lived at a site.

I’ve mentioned this before, the Hills Brothers coffee can chronology. What he’s talking about in there is primarily style: small changes that don’t necessarily reflect any functional aspect of the object, but something that can vary over time without compromising the functional integrity of the object. It’s exactly analogous to how archaeologists date other things like ceramics, by their decorations mostly, although you can also have certain functional attributes that vary with time in predictable ways (such as method of manufacture). I’m guessing in the not too distant future you’ll be able to point your phone camera at a can or a bottle in the field, snap a photo, and have an app analyze it with a remote database and come up with a date.

Importance? Often whether or not you have to through the process of recording a historic site depends on its age, which here anyway is 50+ years old. So you have to check the dates of the junk in a collection of objects to see whether there is anything old enough to qualify.

September 1, 2014

A brief non-archaeological(?) digression

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:51 am

When Did We Get So Old?

Yes, my generation, born between 1946 and 1964, has physical concerns: Friends are dying, joints are aching, and memories are failing. There are financial issues, with forced retirement and unemployment, children needing money and possibly a bed, and dependent parents. But for many of us, it is a psychological quandary that is causing the most unpleasantness: looking around and suddenly being the oldest.

Every generation gets old, but for those who were told we’d be forever young, it just seems more painful. “It’s a huge issue,” says Dr. Anna Fels, a psychiatrist in New York. “I see so many who are trying to adjust their lives to this new phase, which for some reason none of us really pictured ourselves going through.”

Why didn’t we? We knew that eventually more people around us would be younger rather than older. But it still rankles.

This isn’t really a new phenomenon; you can go back to Greek writing to find the old bitching about the young and vice versa, so in a lot of ways this incessant whining amongst Boomers — a generation I generally loathe and will deny to my dying breath that I am a part of — is (like most of what Boomers expound upon) nothing at all new. OTOH, now that I’m actually in my 50s (did I just really type that?) I found the article somewhat resonant.

It’s a tricky thing, getting older. Or “old” I suppose. 50 isn’t nearly the same as it used to be; looking at older movies and even photographs makes 50 in those days look like 70 these days, thanks to far better nutrition, health care, and fewer physical labor-intensive jobs. But bodies still tend to break down and we wrestle with our attitudes as we grow older. For me, I haven’t deteriorated too much; I still have most of the strength and endurance as when I was 30, thanks in most part to daily hard work in the weight room. Probably more, actually, as I’m way more disciplined about working out these days, not to mention drinking far less beer. Still, things have started to go awry. I had to cut short an archaeological survey out in the back country a couple of years ago because my knee couldn’t take hiking over rough terrain. And I’ve needed reading glasses for the past few years now; that’s been frustrating as there’s nothing much I can do about it and I still whine about it (“Well, I guess I’ll have to find my $^@)*^$)*@ reading glasses before I can read this”). OTOH, it’s hard to tell what all my various aches and pains are from aging since ye olde weight room has been causing me various injuries and such since I was in my 20s. But, you know, I can still go out and dig 10 shovel probes in a day with little problem so I can’t complain too much.

On the attitudinal side, there’s this paragraph:

And I am learning some lessons of another kind. For example, never start a sentence with, “When I was your age…” or “In my day…” Do not attempt to show that while you may look old, you’re still 22 inside. Even if you know who Schoolboy Q is, don’t brag, because you’ll get something wrong eventually. Like too many cosmetic procedures, rather than youthenizing us, they only make us seem older.

Yeeeeup. There are those who stick to what they know, only listening to classic radio and playing music from their teens and twenties and bitching about how music sucks these days. Or the wanna-be hipsters that try desperately to keep up with whatever’s new and supposedly hip but they end up just looking like, well, wanna-be hipsters. Or, as I wrote some time ago:

Some (most?) people go through some form of mid-life crisis and buy a brand new sports car, or maybe that classic muscle car they either had or wanted as a teenager. Others dump their wife/husband and kidsOrangeHeader and take up with a trophy spouse or perhaps an old flame they recently met at a school reunion or found on Facebook. Still others decide they really feel 20 again and start wearing the clothes that today’s “young people” wear, listen to the music they listen to, and maybe try to skateboard or trail bike their way into contemporary youth culture, but end up mostly skating their way into the ER.

I’ve tried to stake out a middle ground. I did make a few promises to myself in my youth that I’ve largely kept:
– I wouldn’t let myself go to pot physically (i.e., fat and out of shape). Check.
– I wouldn’t stay stuck in the past, listening to only old music and not know anything about modern pop culture; Check.
– I wouldn’t let hygiene go just because I’m old. You know, farting in public, etc. No. Just. . .no.

So, you know, I still have (and collect) a lot of old LPs, even some stuff I didn’t listen to then. I just recently discovered The Allman Brothers, for example. But then, I love love loved the whole grunge thing (which would have been a “new” thing for people my age at the time), listen to KEXP a lot, and am at least passingly familiar with things pop culturish. My attitude is that I don’t have to like a lot of pop culture but I’m at least going to be familiar with it.

I also have to watch my cultural touchstone phrases. I’m noticing people sometimes don’t get some of the phrases I use on occasion. I mean, who doesn’t know every catchphrase in Blazing Saddles???

I will also refer to “back in my day” and “young people today”, but always ironically.

So I dunno. I’ve learned to let youth have their day as I had mine and try not to compare the two too closely. I try not to “act old” or “act young”, except when it suits my purposes of course (“I’m 53, do you really expect me to dig that many holes?”). I try not to get stuck in pastopianism, but at the same time try to remind younger folks that virtually nothing they’ve thought of hasn’t been thought of at least a million times before.

But, for all you “young people” out there, two pieces of sage advice:
– Start saving early even if it’s a few dollars a week
– Take care of your teeth; you seriously don’t want to deal with dentures. I have all of my teeth still, but the thought just squicks me out something awful.

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