Lots of good photos (and some really dumb ones) here.
November 5, 2014
November 4, 2014
The world has been waiting with bated breath to see whether one of Alexander the Great’s relatives lies in a mysterious ancient tomb in Greece.
But it appears, for now, that archaeologists have come to a dead end, because the tomb’s third chamber, which has yielded no remains, is its last.
Despite this disappointment, some experts are cautiously optimistic that the burial chamber is hidden below ground, while others caution that the tomb, which dates back to between 325 and 300 BC, was robbed years ago.
Some nice photographs but the video is kind of useless.
November 2, 2014
On the steppes: Amazon Warriors Did Indeed Fight and Die Like Men
The real Amazons were long believed to be purely imaginary. They were the mythical warrior women who were the archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Every Greek hero or champion, from Hercules to Theseus and Achilles, had to prove his mettle by fighting a powerful warrior queen.
We know their names: Hippolyta, Antiope, Thessalia. But they were long thought to be just travelers’ tales or products of the Greek storytelling imagination. A lot of scholars still argue that. But archaeology has now proven without a doubt that there really were women fitting the description that the Greeks gave us of Amazons and warrior women.
The Greeks located them in the areas north and east of the Mediterranean on the vast steppes of Eurasia. Archaeologists have been digging up thousands of graves of people called Scythians by the Greeks. They turn out to be people whose women fought, hunted, rode horses, used bows and arrows, just like the men.
I linked to something else like this a few weeks ago, IIRC. I’m not sure if we know anywhere else where female graves were associated with weapons? OTOH, this may be from a lack of available evidence; we mostly have a large amount of formal grave data from sedentary populations, so perhaps this was more common than we think. Or perhaps it was just more possible for a horse-centered population to have relatively mobile pregnant women? I don’t really know, but it raises lots of interesting questions.
Oh, what the heck: Artist’s conception of what an ancient Amazon warrior woman may have looked like:
October 30, 2014
I calculate, the unit labour cost (wage relative to productivity) of horse haulage in England, compared with the in extremis case of human-only portage in China, would have been 2:1 in silver-money terms and 3:1 in PPP terms. (See the first post in the comments section for my calculation.) This implies that for any given acre’s worth of goods made accessible by human portage, horse haulage was 2-3 times as cheap/productive. No, this does not take into consideration that using horses probably saved on the number of wagons/carts. And presumably you could not produce 5 hp with 50 men because, as a speculative example, the canal walkways weren’t wide enough. (As with most input substitutes, the isoquant curve for horses/substitutes is convex to the origin, and there is a diminishing marginal rate of technical substitution — but not inordinately.) But the point is, the 20:1 ratio is in no way plausible, especially since the Chinese also must have driven oxen, mules and donkeys.
Interesting read if you’re at all interested.
October 27, 2014
Archaeologists exploring the Peruvian Andes have uncovered perhaps the highest Ice Age settlement in the world, a tool-littered campground reaching up to 14,700 feet above sea level, according to new research.
Despite the cold and dangerously thin air, prehistoric men and women made themselves at home in these dizzying heights starting about 12,400 years ago, only 2,000 years or so after people first arrived in South America, the scientists reported Thursday in Science.
Video at the link that describes the whys and hows in more detail so it’s worth watching. It actually seems to be a quarry site but the video makes it sound like it was continuously inhabited.
October 22, 2014
October 12, 2014
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.
September 23, 2014
September 22, 2014
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.