Archaeologists dig up silent-movie set from California sands
More than 90 years ago, filmmaker Cecile B. DeMille erected 21 giant sphinxes and an 800-foot-wide temple as a set for the silent, black-and-white classic movie “The Ten Commandments.”
But in 1923, when filming was over, DeMille abandoned them there among the sands of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes in Santa Barbara County.
Now archaeologists are digging for the fragile plaster sphinxes and this week began excavations on one that they hope will eventually be on display at the nearby Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, which has raised $120,000 for the dig, the Los Angeles Times reported.
They’ve been working on this for years, but are now really excavating it. Not sure how significant it all is from a historical standpoint though.
But hey, it gives me another excuse to post a pic of Morena Baccarin. . .
Kent archaeologists discover Sheppey WW1 trenches
It was once known as “Barbed Wire Island”: a flat, marshy area in the Thames Estuary that was heavily fortified and bristled with guns in anticipation of a German invasion that never came.
But when archaeologists began excavating the island of Sheppey off the north Kent coast, what they found took them by surprise.
They expected to uncover structures from World War Two, but instead discovered “fantastic” trenches dating back to World War One that they believe to be of national importance.
Beer, you say? What about the beer?
he network of trenches was just one aspect of a huge security operation centred on the island during war. Residents were issued with “Sheppey passports” and plans were drawn up that would have seen the entire north Kent community facing evacuation and the loss of their livelihoods.
A devastating “scorched earth” policy aimed at hindering and frustrating the invaders would have seen livestock slaughtered and even beer destroyed.
These seem to have been actual defensive structures rather than for training which is primarily what the other WWI trench systems I’ve linked to before were used for.
Neat article and video on locating burials in a cemetery under realistic conditions: Finding Avondale: Remote Sensing for an Unmarked Cemetery in Difficult Subsurface Conditions>
Cemetery researchers frequently turn to remote sensing technics when there are little to no trace of a burial ground visible on the surface. The effectiveness of these methods has been evaluated by numerous case studies however, these studies tend to be conducted under optimal and under more controlled conditions then we tend to find in the field. In this study we used real world situation where the adverse settings encountered at the Avondale burial place also known as 9BI164, an unmarked cemetery in southern Bibb County Georgia.
In short, records were nonexistent, informative data was sparse and we only had a rough estimate of where the cemetery was located. The grounds were over a century old. There were no surface features and it was situated in Georgia red clay, a notoriously difficult substrate for successful remote sensing.
I haven’t watched the video yet. As I’ve said, this sort of thing is getting more and more common, finding disused private and even public cemeteries that have long since been forgotten, often with no headstones or decayed monuments (wood). And in this case they not only used hi-tech remote sensing technologies, but also dogs! Well worth a viewing and a read.
Historical nonetheless. And decaying.
Well, sorta: The Urban Archaeologist
Salvaging is a bit more interactive than the more traditional forms of antique dealing, combining a talent for reverse engineering and an intimate acquaintance with masonry, millwork, metalsmithing and design. It certainly doesn’t hurt if you have also developed some business sense, and Nordstrom got his practice in early. “I started a roofing business when I was 11,” he grins. “I was a weird kid.”
You also need plenty of cash just to ante into the salvaging game at Nordstrom’s level. Securing rights to a building isn’t cheap. And if it has the kind of historic significance that galvanizes community backlash, you can expect to have to ride out protests from preservationists intent on preventing demolition, or even salvaging. In 2012, when Nordstrom went to work on the 1886 David C. Cook Mansion, the job turned out to be an on-again, off-again nightmare lasting a year. “It was so stressful,” he remembers. Recently an activist sent him a tart letter to “cease” removing items from the Gethsemane. He’s sensitive to the issue, but like the fall off the ladder, “It’s part of the job.”
The impression I get is that these buildings are already condemned or beyond repair. I’d hope so, but often there are very few takers for a lot of these old buildings.
Or just a regular apocalypse: Medieval Weapon Finds Modern Appeal
Longpoint, held in July, is one of several annual tournaments around the world, manifestations of renewed interest in what enthusiasts call historical European martial arts, or HEMA. It includes events like grappling — similar to Greco-Roman wrestling — and several types of swordfighting. But the focus is on the most iconic medieval weapon, forged from cold, lustrous steel: the longsword.
“The longsword specifically is just very accessible,” said Pettersson, a management consultant from Gothenburg, Sweden, “because that is what the old masters wrote about the most. It was called the ‘queen of weapons’ in the old days.”
Embedded video which is worth watching.
I linked to something like this a couple of years ago, not sport-fighting like this but someone who had studied the old manuals and developed the techniques. I think this is neat. Be nice if it really developed some and we ended up with gear something like fencing where one could tell from embedded sensors the type of hit that was landed, etc. Not sure it would really get us all that close to actual historical combat techniques being rediscovered — and seen — because taking the lethality angle out of things (mostly) will still develop different techniques. If you look at the video there you can see that they’re really not doing any sort of theatrical sword play; it’s much faster and looks more like actual fighting.
I’m guessing this may end up being really useful for the film industry. Get people with motion capture suits on and let them fight like they would be for real and battle scenes on-screen would be much more realistic.
I may have linked to something like this earlier: Bones Tell the Grisly Tale Behind King Richard III’s Death
Researchers say marks on Richard III’s bones confirm the centuries-old saga of the English king’s death — including claims that the killing blows were delivered to his skull, and that vengeful foes stabbed his corpse after death.
. . .
The University of Leicester team, led by archaeologist Jo Appleby, counted nine wounds to the skull. That suggested that the king had removed or lost his helmet on the field of battle. University of Leicester pathologist Guy Rutty said two of the skull injuries were the most likely to have caused his death. One was a heavy blow to the bottom of the skull, possibly coming from a sword or staff weapon. The other was a penetrating injury from the tip of an edged weapon.
“Richard’s head injuries are consistent with some near-contemporary accounts of the battle, which suggest that Richard abandoned his horse after it became stuck in a mire, and was killed while fighting his enemies,” Rutty said in a news release.
I’m not altogether convinced how much these match up to the written accounts, since some of the written ones are kind of ambiguous. But it’s still a nice way of getting some comparison of written records with actual remains. I would mention these sorts of wounds aren’t all that unusual; battle was and always has been particularly brutal, especially the hand-to-hand sort.
Lost Ship from 19th-C. Franklin Expedition Found by Arctic Archaeologists
Canadian archaeologists have found one of the Franklin Expedition’s ships — lost since the Arctic explorers famously disappeared in 1846 — off of King William Island in the Canadian Arctic. The ship is either the HMS Erebus or the HMS Terror, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on September 9.
The discovery comes in the sixth year of expeditions led by Parks Canada, which has scoured hundreds of square kilometres of ocean bottom in search of the Franklin ships. A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) deployed from Parks Canada’s 10-meter survey vessel Investigator made the discovery on September 7.
Nice. No video or photos of the wreck site in that article. Probably some will be forthcoming.
Archaeologists raid lost Ark in Haddonfield
A team of historians, students and archaeology specialists have been getting down and dirty, digging below a tract adjacent to the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield.
The dig has unearthed old coins, pieces of wine bottles and plenty of animal bones, but also some surprises, such as a cellar deeper and larger than expected under what was once a general store.
“We recovered walls on two sides and were amazed to find a deeper cellar from 1741, much deeper than the one under the sidewalk,” said Garry Stone, the historian for the Indian King Tavern.
Neat little article. I think this is the place. Apparently they’re restoring it.
The Video Game Graveyard
In 2013, media companies Fuel Entertainment and Lightbox acquired the rights to create a documentary about the video game crash of the early 1980s and to dig the Atari dump site, if it could be found. As both an archaeologist (and Director of Publications at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens) and a child of that early video game boom, I contacted Fuel to ask about how the archaeology—excavation, documentation, reporting—would be handled. They invited me to take part, and I assembled a team that included Richard Rothaus of Trefoil Cultural and Environmental and Bill Caraher of the University of North Dakota, veterans of excavations in the Mediterranean and the Americas, as well as video game historian Raiford Guins of Stony Brook University and historian Bret Weber of the University of North Dakota.
Not much new there, I don’t think, although I really like the photo of the dusty old game controller. They do make a good point about recent archaeology: Even from just 30 years ago we’re not all that sure what exactly happened out there apart from the basics of thinking there was something there. Be nice to get some of the witnesses to describe what they saw, too.