The mysterious origins of the British archaeological site most often associated with the legend of King Arthur have just become even more mysterious.
Archaeologists have discovered the impressive remains of a probable Dark Age royal palace at Tintagel in Cornwall. It is likely that the one-metre thick walls being unearthed are those of the main residence of the 6th century rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia.
Scholars have long argued about whether King Arthur actually existed or whether he was in reality a legendary character formed through the conflation of a series of separate historical and mythological figures.
But the discovery by English Heritage-funded archaeologists of a probable Dark Age palace at Tintagel will certainly trigger debate in Arthurian studies circles – because, in medieval tradition, Arthur was said to have been conceived at Tintagel as a result of an illicit union between a British King and the beautiful wife of a local ruler.
That’s actually a pretty good article. I found the amount of luxury trade items from the eastern Med there.
Toronto may be known for its shiny new condos, but it needs to do a better job taking care of its archaeological treasures, says Coun. Mike Layton.
Layton is leading a motion that will see the city take stock of artifacts that have been unearthed and look at facilities where they could be preserved.
Right now, many are in the hands of the archaeology firms that dug them up or are scattered “all over the city” in boxes and basements, Layton said.
“We’re in danger of actually losing some of these artefacts, let alone the opportunity to actually have a learning moment about our city, our region and our country,” he said.
You’ve got to put the stuff somewhere and even a small excavation can generate literally tons of material. Storing it for the long haul — meaning more than a few decades — is problematic.
British archaeologists working on the Must Farm project in England’s Cambridgeshire Fens can hardly restrain themselves.
Their online diary effervesces with superlatives — “truly fantastic pottery,” “truly exceptional textiles,” “a truly incredible site,” “the dig of a lifetime.”
Typically on prehistoric sites, you are lucky to find a few pottery shards, a mere hint or shadow of organic remains; generally archaeologists have to make do, have to interpret as best they can.
But this archaeological dig has turned out to be completely, thrillingly different.
For the last ten months — day by day, week by week — the excavation has yielded up a wealth of astonishing finds including pottery, textiles, metal work and ancient timbers. The dig offers, as site manager Mark Knight from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit put it, “a genuine snapshot” of a lost world — a prehistoric settlement from the Bronze Age some 3000 years ago.
The 1974 discovery of Australopithecus afarensis, which lived from 3.8 to 2.9 million years ago, was a major milestone in paleoanthropology that pushed the record of hominins earlier than 3 million years ago and demonstrated the antiquity of human-like walking. Scientists have long argued that there was only one pre-human species at any given time before 3 million years ago that gave rise to another new species through time in a linear manner. This was what the fossil record appeared to indicate until the end of the 20th century. The discovery of Australopithecus bahrelghazali from Chad in 1995 and Kenyanthropus platyops from Kenya in 2001 challenged this idea. However, these two species were not widely accepted, rather considered as geographic variants of Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis. The discovery of the 3.4 million-year-old Burtele partial foot from the Woranso-Mille announced by Haile-Selassie in 2012 was the first conclusive evidence that another early human ancestor species lived alongside Australopithecus afarensis. In 2015, fossils recovered from Haile-Selassie’s ongoing research site at the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia were assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. However, the Burtele partial foot was not included in this species.
Not a terribly long review but it mentions the principles.
I actually read Lucy when I first started out in anthro/archy. I wouldn’t say — as Johanson has said many other people have told him — that it pushed me into anthro/archy (since I had already started my major in it), but it was certainly a solidifying agent.
I think I mentioned a few days ago that I went to see Lucy when she was here a few years ago. Very emotional for me.
Wait, actually I didn’t here, I did over at Facebook:
So I saw this movie last week:
I quite liked it. Even watched it twice within a few days. I’d been meaning to see it, but never got around to it until now. Fun movie, although the science is totally whack.
Some anthropology does enter into it, of course, since the protagonist, Lucy, is linked ideationally in the film as analogous to Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis that Don Johanson discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Both are supposed to represent a ‘link’ to a new form (assumed to be a ‘higher’ form of life).
—- Spoiler Alert —- (more…)
Researchers say the findings overturn a 2001 paper that argued the oldest known Australian human remains found near Lake Mungo in New South Wales were from an extinct lineage of modern humans that occupied the continent before Aboriginal Australians.
This claim was based on mitochondrial DNA extracted from Mungo Man’s 40,000-year-old fossilised remains by a team lead by Australian National University’s Dr Greg Adcock.
But now, Professor David Lambert, from Griffith University, and colleagues, have used new DNA sequencing methods to re-analyse the material from Mungo Man, who was found in the World Heritage-listed Willandra Lakes region, in far western New South Wales.
Artist’s conception of what Mungo Man may have looked like:
Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aurea) on Piak Nam Yai, one of Thailand’s coastal islands, have been using stone tools for several decades — and possibly thousands of years — to eat shellfish and nuts, according to a study led by Dr. Michael Haslam from the University of Oxford, UK.
“We find that primates with much smaller brains than humans have innovative ways of exploiting the food sources available to them,” Dr. Haslam said.
“Macaques in the forests on the island come down to the shore when the tide is out to forage, and use stones as tools in order to break open shells and hard nut casings to access the food inside.”
Is this old news? I vaguely remember hearing something about this a long time ago. Something to the effect of monkeys using simple expedient tools but only on certain islands? And occasionally one would go to another island and spread the trait there? Still, neat. But they’re not really “making” tools, just using naturally occurring objects which many other critters do.
Based on shellfish studies elsewhere, Rick said, they expected to find really big oysters in the distant past, and that their size got smaller over time as bigger bivalves were systematically harvested for food. They did find oyster sizes varied through the ages, but were surprised that there was not a clear, straight-line decline over time.
“Archaeologists all over the world have documented size declines where indigenous peoples were intensively harvesting shellfish,” said Rick, who’s curator of North American archaeology for the natural history museum. “We didn’t find that at all.”
The headline makes it sound as if they were ecologically minded shellfishermen, but they probably just couldn’t overfish it with the existing technology. Also, they added maize agriculture to the diet at some point and that would have taken some pressure off of the shellfish harvesting. That didn’t really happen up here in the NW.
Irritant: Some have demanded that we refer to fishing as separate from hunting/gathering which I think is stupid. Because they must like typing hunter-gatherer-fishers or something.
In folkloric sources as diverse as Babylonian literature, the shroud-eating Nachzehrer of Germanic tradition, and the Chiang-Shih “hopping vampires” of Chinese legend, notions of corpses rising from the grave have long been documented. But what these new archaeological datasets reveal is that these ancient accounts weren’t just stories that our ancestors told to each other on dark and stormy nights. Many of our forefathers were genuinely scared, taking time and trouble to ensure that the dead stayed where they belong.
Pretty good little summary article. One of the studies is available online here. They do note that — as I think I’ve mentioned once or twice — that one shouldn’t automatically assume “vampire” whenever a burial looks funny, although they may often have been thinking more like “zombie”.