I saw this thing in my news feed and was intrigued: Bronze Age time capsule: 3,000-year-old vitrified food found in jars in England
Vitrified, you say?
Yes. I was thinking “Idiots. Organic substances can’t vitrify, that’s for silicates.” True vitrification yes, but organics can also vitrify. I’d never seen this referred to archaeologically, however. I didn’t see anything about that in the links either.
Scarlet Macaws Point to Early Emergence of Complex Pueblo Society
The rare birds were a sign of prestige and their feathers were important as ceremonial objects for their colorful variety, not locally common among the area’s native birds. The bright colors signified different directions, such as red for south and blue or green for west, for example.
It was traditionally thought that the Pueblo people did not bring the macaws back to the settlement until 1040 CE. But new radiocarbon dating of the bird remains discovered in the settlement is changing that view.
The radiocarbon dating project, co-led by Dr Adam Watson from the American Museum of Natural History, Prof Stephen Plog from the University of Virginia and Dr Douglas Kennett from Pennsylvania State University, showed that the macaw remains came from as early as the late 800s to mid 900s CE.
That’s generally thought to be one of the ways elites reinforce their authority, by having access to luxury goods from elsewhere. It does make some sense that the hierarchies — and all of the additional accouterments — wouldn’t have developed overnight, some stuff coming earlier, some later. But I haven’t read the paper.
Archaeologists find 500-year-old skeleton with ‘evil twin’ tumor in Peru
Out of the 500 skeletal remains found at the cemetery of the Chapel of the Divino Niño Serranito de Eten, the bones of one teenage girl stood for the simple reason that she had a lot more of them than anyone else in the burial site.
After careful study, the scientists, including bioarchaeologist Haagen Klaus of George Mason University, ruled that the dozens of extra bones and teeth found in her abdominal cavity were part of an ovarian teratoma – or what has been labelled an “evil twin” tumor. While the teratoma may not have not have been the cause of her death, the large tumor probably made her look like she was pregnant and may have factored into her early death.
That’s too bad. This is the first I’ve seen of one of these things archaeologically; you get quite a number of pregnancies, but no teratomas.
The Caveman’s Home Was Not a Cave
I don’t blame anyone for focusing on caves. Caves are constrained spatially, preservation is excellent because they’re usually limestone and very alkaline, which helps preserve bone and other materials that don’t often preserve in the open air. But caves are an unrepresentative sample of where people were and what they did. People were clearly inside caves—painting, drawing, and doing other kinds of artistic and cultural activities. But they weren’t hunting in a cave, they weren’t collecting raw materials in a cave, they weren’t collecting firewood or other things. So where were they the rest of the time, and what were they doing?
I dunno, this seems like old news to me. It’s an interview with Margaret Conkey. They do seem to indicate that archaeologists back in the 1970s were still cave-focused so this is something of a retrospective? I would guess the average person still probably thinks of them as all living in caves but that hasn’t been archaeological thought for decades.
On American r-lessness
In an America new to microphones, the unconscious cultural expectation was that public announcements were couched in a theatrical style – theatrical, as in pitched to be heard unamplified in an auditorium by hundreds or thousands at a time. That tone seemed as natural to people of this time as, for example, recording artists releasing packages of songs of roughly an hour’s length called “albums” seems to us now despite that practice’s roots in a particular physical technology now obsolete, or that pop music is today usually sung in a Southern / black cadence even by whites who don’t speak that way in real life.
Gradually, it dawned on people that microphones allowed a less hotly-pitched, intimate way of communicating: FDR’s Fireside Chats were an example, as was the singing style called crooning. However, the sunny, chirpy delivery persisted as a style well into the 1960s on radio, television and in films simply because of familiarity.
Meanwhile, when today we find the old announcing style peculiar in terms of pronunciation, what is mainly striking us is a particular feature, r-lessness. That is, r’s lost at the end of syllables, such that Carter comes out as “Cah-tuh.” To Americans today, this sounds like Downton Abbey, such that we wonder why people in black and white or on old radio broadcasts sound “British” despite talking about Babe Ruth and Times Square.
This has sort of fascinated me of late. I still kind of think that there is/was a particular pronunciation of the upper classes of the east and south that sought to imitate the British upper class, similar to that of the lower classes and their r-lessness, but different. I’d not thought of the microphone angle, although I’ve noted that in announcers up to at least the 1960s.
Summer archaeology workshop in Çatalhöyük
I just link because someone I worked with in Egypt a couple of years ago works on this project as the photographer.
The Edible Seascape
Dana Lepofsky, an archaeologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, believes these gardens and traps, found up and down the coast, could be up to 2,000 years old. They were used by the indigenous population and serve as artifacts that dispute what the archaeological record has to this point claimed was the area’s primary staple: salmon.
Closer inspection of middens, or trash heaps, where the natives in long-gone settlements close to the shore once dumped food waste, suggests that while the red, fatty fish might have been prized, salmon was only available during seasonal runs. Though the early North Americans dried and stored the salmon they caught, it would have taken more than just the seasonal catch to feed these ancient communities.
Lepofsky believes that the native British Columbians deliberately and consciously managed their marine and other food resources. By combining archaeology with local oral history, she and others are concluding that these societies oversaw an entire oceanfront ecosystem that offered a diverse bounty of marine life, including little fish (such as anchovies), roe, clams, cockles, sea urchins, and eelgrass.
Dana was in my class, but got out way before me. Salmon were a big part, to be sure, but that was also seasonal.
Sasquatch Archaeology Militia: Students study island trash
Thousands of pieces of trash were inside four large bags awaiting sorting, identification and analysis. In the field of archaeology, taxonomy is what we call this rubbish, “divisive and judgmental” is the way we categorize the story of humans.
So, what exactly was washing up on the west side of San Juan Island? In volume, the grand total was 12 cubic feet; 16.8 pounds, 2,737 pieces with 51 percent being plastic, 39 percent foam, with the remainder being mixed metal, paper, nylon and glass. The plastic types included: water bottles, straws, hygiene, sheet plastic, hard plastic shards, plastic apparel, cigarette butts, bottle caps, 157 shotgun wads, 175 food wrappers, and nylon rope.
The students used divisive methodology to separate the waste by material, then by types and then further by attributes. Their research tracked the food wrappers to China, to the cargo vessels in Haro Strait, 35 percent came from Canada, being dropped by boaters, crabbers and fisherman in the San Juan waters and from the bad habits of people visiting the beach.
Kinda of a neat story. I’ve been there many times myself.
Autopsy carried out in Far East on world’s oldest dog mummified by ice
Scientists in the Russian Far East have carried out a post-mortem examination of the remains of the only mummified dog ever found in the world.
Found sealed inside permafrost during a hunt for traces of woolly mammoths, the perfectly-preserved body is 12,450 years old.
The dog, believed to be a three-month-old female, was unearthed in 2011 on the Syallakh River in the Ust-Yana region of Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic.
They say it probably died in a landslide so for all the critter lovers out there, it was undoubtedly a quick death.
I feel fairly certain someone will try to clone it.