July 23, 2014

More dead babies?

Filed under: Cemeteries, Historic — acagle @ 7:10 pm

Archaeologist says “definite indications” of Bessborough baby mass graves

Toni Maguire, an archaeologist and anthropologist known for her work with the Milltown cemetery in Belfast, visited Bessborough on Wednesday, the Irish Examiner reports. She was joined by four women who were born in the mother and baby home, two of whom had journeyed from the US.

The Bessborough home opened in 1922 and was run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Research conducted by the Adoption Rights Alliance suggests that as many as 1,000 mothers and babies may have died there over the course of several decades. The grounds are currently home to the Bessborough Mother and Baby Centre, which offers care and education to parents and their young children.

A lot of this ‘controversy’ I don’t really get; you have to put dead bodies somewhere after all. Unless there’s something nefarious with the manner of death, it’s just bodies.

June 30, 2014

You wouldn’t think it would be that hard

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 6:59 pm

Archaeologists Are Trying To Figure Out Exactly Where Plymouth Was

The Mayflower, the pilgrims and Plymouth Rock are deeply engrained in American lore, but where, exactly, was the Plymouth colony located? We actually don’t know for sure. But researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Boston are now undertaking an excavation to pinpoint the exact location of the pilgrims’ colony.

A Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, Plimoth Plantation draws 360,000 visitors a year to an open-air museum with historical reenactments from the period but is located about three and a half miles from where researchers believe the original colony was founded.

June 28, 2014

This day in history

Filed under: Car Lust, Historic — acagle @ 8:12 am

The fuse was lit: Great Cars of Death III: The Franz Ferdinand Death Car

A forgotten war to many, overshadowed as it eventually was by the horrors of World War II, it was — accurately for the time — known as The Great War, involving as it did countries from around the world and savage in its brutality. Until 1939 it was also known as The War to End All Wars, since the carnage for soldiers and civilians alike was really unlike anything that had gone before, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The advent of the machine gun and heavy artillery turned infantry into cannon fodder and completely rewrote the book on how to conduct modern warfare. True, the Crimean War and the American Civil War had hinted at what ‘total war’ looked like, but the concept reached its full fruition in WWI.

And it all started with a few young hotheads hell bent on killing someone for the glory of Greater Serbia.

100 years ago today. It’s a shame at least we here in the US aren’t getting quite as much retrospective on the war and its centennial as one might expect, although it was much less “our” war I suppose.

June 24, 2014

Populated by a people known as the Oompalompali, no doubt.

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:29 pm

An Archaeologist Excavates a Hippie Commune, Preserved in 1969 by Fire

The Olompali commune started with around 30 members, and grew to a population of 50 to 70 people—aged 7 to 50—living in the 24-room Burdell Mansion and a couple of nearby structures. When a fire consumed the mansion on February 2, 1969, nobody was injured. Some members of the group remained on the property in an unattached frame house for a few months, but the commune officially closed in August.

State archaeologist E. Breck Parkman began exploring the site as early as 1981, hoping to examine the historical realities behind what he believes are stereotypical notions about the commune and hippie life. But it would be decades before he could conduct a thorough excavation of the site, which was declared off-limits following the discovery of asbestos that needed to be cleared from the area.

I’m guessing they don’t find many hair gel containers.

June 16, 2014

Hmmmmm. . . . .

Filed under: Forensic archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 3:17 pm

‘Dracula’s tomb’ discovered in Italy

Researchers are claiming a newly uncovered headstone in Naples’ Piazza Santa Maria la Nova, in the same graveyard as his daughter and son-in-law, could be his final resting place.

The headstone was discovered by Neapolitan student, Erika Stella, who was writing a dissertation on the history of the church. Stella shared the photograph on the Internet and experts identified it with a certain level of confidence after years of research.

Kind of interesting, but nothing near certain or even very convincing in my view. I imagine they’d have to do DNA tests on the whatever remains remain and compare them with any known relatives to get any degree of certainty.

June 10, 2014

Potentially bad and definitely sad news

Filed under: Cemeteries, Forensic archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 7:30 pm

Archaeologist questions lack of knowledge of Tuam burials

A consultant archaeologist and anthropologist has questioned whether the Bon Secours nuns could not have known the remains of 800 children lay on a site at the former Tuam mother and baby home.
Toni Maguire, who worked on the identification of the remains of 11,000 adults children and infants on a site outside Miltown cemetery in Belfast, said the first port of call in the investigation into the matter had to be access to documents.
“If the sisters are saying they were unaware that there were 800 children buried there, I would question that, especially if they were being funded per head,” Ms Maguire said.

This is bigger news (I gather) in Europe than it is here. There are a couple of background links in the article there. I’m not sure what to make of it. I can imagine in the population probably being served that the infant mortality rate would have been very high and, despite our modern devotion to children, throughout history high infant mortality has led to children being. . . .if not ‘devalued’ exactly, not usually given the care in burial which adults usually are. But we’ll see how it all shakes out.

May 31, 2014

Battlefield archaeology. . . .at home

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 8:29 am

Echoes of World War I at Camp Dodge archaeology dig

As combat-hardened French military officers watched and shouted instructions, the American soldiers dug trenches at the Iowa base in the snow starting in November 1917.

Wearing broad-brimmed campaign hats, the troops trained with Enfield rifles with bayonets attached, firing blank .30-caliber cartridges and throwing dummy hand grenades as they prepared for battle in France or elsewhere on the Western Front in what became known as the “war to end all wars.”

Nearly a century later, the long-forgotten trenches are the site of an archaeological dig now underway at the Johnston military base. About 130,000 United States soldiers, including 37,000 from Iowa, were assigned between 1917 and 1919 to Camp Dodge, which was one of 16 major training sites for the U.S. Army during World War I.

Kind of an irritating site, but there’s a video there. No doubt more WWI stuff will be coming as the centennial approaches.

May 28, 2014

Aerial archaeology update

Filed under: Aerial Archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 7:08 pm

Historian and archaeologists at Idaho National Laboratory find crashed WWII bomber

In March, archaeologists pinpointed the location of Aircraft 42-73365 — a consolidated B-24J Liberator bomber that crashed in the Acro Desert during a 1944 training mission.

The entire 7-man crew compliment died in the crash: 2nd Lt. Richard A. Hedges, 25, 2nd Lt. Lonnie L. Keepers, 23, 2nd Lt. Robert W. Madsen, 28, 2nd Lt. Richard R. Pitzner, 23, Sgt. Louis H. Rinke, 19, Sgt. Charles W. Eddy, 22, and Sgt. George H. Pearce Jr., 25.

“I think that was the most touching part — that we know that seven people died right here,” archaeologist Julie Williams said. “And it’s not that we haven’t found other places (on the INL site) where people have died, but this was in context . because we know where and how they perished.”

It wasn’t really a ‘lost’ plane, just a forgotten one.

That’s actually my favorite bomber from WWII. Most people like the B17 but I always liked the B24.

May 23, 2014

“It was a frightful place.”

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 3:32 pm

Archaeologists Dig Into Chicago’s Grisliest History In Douglas Neighborhood

In February 1863, 10 percent of the Camp’s inhabitants were lost, marking the deadliest month in any Civil War prison camp. More than 4,000 prisoners were known to have died on the site and the mortality rate for those passing through the camp may have been as high as 23 percent over the course of the war. Conditions were so horrid that the place seems to have given birth to the phrase “hell in a hand basket.”

And within six months of the end of the Civil War, it had been wiped away. A couple decades later it was hardly even a memory, replaced by a neighborhood that bore the same name, but looked far different, serving as a proving ground for some of Chicago’s greatest architects.

I’d heard of the place before but never linked to anything about it. Short video from a TV program at the link as well. Not much in the way of archaeology though. But worth linking to anyway.

May 19, 2014

Lost civilization Santa Maria. . . .found?

Filed under: Historic, Underwater archaeology — acagle @ 7:19 pm

Appears to be: Exclusive: Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria “More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeological investigators think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains – lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. It’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford.”

It’s circumstantial, but intriguing. Hard to assess, really, since they had already discovered it and now were using diary data to place it at the right spot — maybe a bit of “affirming the consequent” going on. Will be hard to tell unless they come up with something really diagnostic.

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