May 20, 2015

Childhood archaeology?

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:26 pm

Colorado archaeologist excavates his childhood toys, discovers himself

In 2008, History Colorado archaeologist Thomas Carr discovered an artifact in his boyhood home in North Carolina: a piece of grey and green plastic sticking out of the dirt. He knelt to inspect it and soon realized it was a part of a model plane — one he’d built some three decades earlier. As his eyes focused, he noticed several more pieces of plastic. The archaeologist in him wanted to excavate. So he did just that, in an informal way, unearthing parts of a battleship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, a submarine, and other models that he’d built. In the process, he unearthed the memories and his childhood and new realizations about himself.

That’s neat. It’s mostly a radio story so you have to listen to it to get the whole story.

It was rather distressing the first time I was out on survey and actually found some of my old childhood toys. . .in an archaeological site. Not my personal toys, obviously, but the same ones I’d (or my brother) had. And yes, it was over 50 years old (as a whole), and no, they weren’t necessarily all that old, but still. . . .they were in an archaeological site.

April 20, 2015

Coooooooool.

Filed under: Historic, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:29 pm

Ghosts from the past brought back to life

Myriah Williams and Professor Paul Russell from Cambridge’s Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC), believe that a 16th century owner of the book, probably a man named Jaspar Gryffyth, summarily erased centuries’ worth of additional verse, doodles and marginalia which had been added to the manuscript as it changed hands throughout the years.

However, using a combination of ultraviolet light and photo editing software, the 16th century owner’s penchant for erasure has been partly reversed to reveal snatches of poetry which are previously unrecorded in the canon of Welsh verse. Currently, the texts are very fragmentary and in need of much more analysis, although they seem to be the continuation of a poem on the preceding page with a new poem added at the foot of the page.

“What do they study in the Pacific Northwest?”

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:25 pm

Mostly boring junk: Historical archaeology: Learning about, understanding our recent past

Historical archaeologists work on a wide range of sites all over Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Early missions like Cataldo near Coeur d’Alene (ca. 1850-1853) or military fortifications such as the Valley’s own Fort Walla Walla (active between 1858 and 1917) are studied to learn early European settlement and its effects on Native American peoples.

Homesteads, farmsteads, mines, railroads and trolley systems, roads and trails, whole neighborhoods and even irrigation ditches such as the circa-1905 Burlingame Gardena canal are examined for important trends in settlement patterns, technological advances, coping strategies during environmental and economic challenges and impacts from industrialization and urbanization on the American West.

Actually the historical stuff is more fun, in a way, because you recognize a lot of the stuff.

Except when you find your childhood toys in an archaeological site. That’s rough.

April 16, 2015

Some old junk

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:32 pm

Ummmm. . . . literally: 18th-Century Sex Toy Found In Ancient Latrine

Polish archaeologists digging an ancient latrine in the Baltic city of Gdańsk have stumbled upon a 250-year-old sex toy.

The phallic object is “large, thick, made of leather filled with bristles, and has a wooden tip,” the Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments in Gdansk said in a press release.

Dating from the second half of the 1700s, the artificial penis was found “preserved in excellent condition.”

Desert Fox

March 24, 2015

Richard III Update

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:04 pm

After all the initial hoopla. . .more hoopla! King Richard III begins final journey to the battlefield where he died 530 years ago

On Sunday, Richard’s coffin left the University of Leicester where it has been since the remarkable discovery, accompanied by the team who made the find, in a hearse to Fenn Lane Farm in the village of Dadlington, the site believed to be the closest to his death.

Richard fell fighting to hold onto his crown against the invading forces of Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII. William Shakespeare famously depicted him going down fighting shouting “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Philippa Langley, a screenwriter who led the search for Richard III, said it was the end of an “extraordinary journey”.

I rather like the fact that they’re taking him past the battlefield. Makes for nice closure.

Argentine Nazis. . . . .I hate those guys.

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 6:58 pm

Argentine archaeologists find secret Nazi lair in jungle

A team of Argentine archaeologists investigating a series of ruins in the jungle, close to the border with Paraguay, believe they have discovered a secret Nazi lair.
The cluster of stone structures, now covered by thick vines and accessible only when using a machete to cut through the undergrowth, contain stashes of German coins from the late 1930s, fragments of “Made in Germany” porcelain, and Nazi symbols on the walls.
“We can find no other explanation as to why anyone would build these structures, at such great effort and expense, in a site which at that time was totally inaccessible, away from the local community, with material which is not typical of the regional architecture,” said Daniel Schavelzon, leader of the team.

Color me skeptical. The buildings just don’t strike me as something anyone would build in the 20th century. I would guess a more likely scenario is that older existing buildings were used as a hideout for a time by recalcitrant Nazis after the war.

March 10, 2015

Franklin Expedition update

Filed under: Historic, Underwater archaeology — acagle @ 7:00 pm

Ice divers and underwater archaeologists to study Franklin shipwreck

Not really much there, but I thought I’d send along the update anyway.

February 4, 2015

Lost civilization yet another famous dead body. . . .found?

Filed under: Cemeteries, Forensic archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 7:56 pm

Did Archaeologists Just Find Miguel de Cervantes, 400 Years After His Death?

Family crypts all over Europe contain mummies, valuables—and a hodgepodge of random bodies. Between the high death rates of days gone by and lax record-keeping, it’s often difficult to determine who lies in any given vault. That’s what happened to Cervantes: though his will stipulated that he be buried in a Madrid convent, his final resting place was never known for sure.

But that might have changed this weekend, when archaeologists found pieces of a casket with Cervantes’ initials in a crypt at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians. The find was clustered among the bones of at least ten individuals, one of whom could be Cervantes. Coffin-makers used metal tacks to form the initials “M.C.” on a now-brittle, decaying piece of wood.

They’re just popping up all over the place these days.

February 2, 2015

The Arrrrr-chaeology of Medicine

Filed under: Historic, Public Health — acagle @ 7:59 pm

(heh) Blackbeard’s Booty: Pirate Ship Yields Medical Supplies

Archaeologists are excavating the vessel that served as the flagship of the pirate Blackbeard, and the medical equipment they have recovered from the shipwreck suggests the notorious buccaneer had to toil to keep his crew healthy.

Blackbeard is the most famous pirate who ever lived. His real name was Edward Teach (or possibly Thatch), and his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, was formerly a French slave vessel named La Concorde de Nantesthat Blackbeard captured in November 1717. Blackbeard was able to capture this ship easily because much of its crew was either sick or dead due to disease.

They mention mercury as being used to treat syphillis and show a syringe which was used to squirt mercury up the urethra on the assumption that the mercury — being poisonous (not that they knew how it would work) — would kill the source of the infection. But it was also used in tablet form (I believe Lewis & Clark brought them along) and also was rubbed into the skin and inhaled in vapor. I would guess it probably would occasionally work, but would often be deadly, although they were probably aware of the nasty side effects.

January 30, 2015

A bit of fairly recent history

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 9:29 am

When bread bags weren’t funny

There is nothing so romanticized as old-fashioned cookery, lovingly hand-prepared with fresh, 100 percent organic ingredients. If you were a reader of the Little House books, or any number of other series about 19th-century children, then you probably remember the descriptions of luscious meals. When you reread these books, you realize that they were so lovingly described because they were so vanishingly rare. Most of the time, people were eating the same spare food three meals a day: beans, bread or some sort of grain porridge, and a little bit of meat for flavor, heavily preserved in salt. This doesn’t sound romantic and old-fashioned; it sounds tedious and unappetizing. But it was all they could afford, and much of the time, there wasn’t quite enough of that.

These were not the nation’s dispossessed; they were the folks who had capital for seed and farm equipment. There were lots of people in America much poorer than the Ingalls were. Your average middle-class person was, by the standards of today, dead broke and living in abject misery. And don’t tell me that things used to be cheaper back then, because I’m not talking about their cash income or how much money they had stuffed under the mattress. I’m talking about how much they could consume. And the answer is “a lot less of everything”: food, clothes, entertainment. That’s even before we talk about the things that hadn’t yet been invented, such as antibiotics and central heating.

I didn’t have bread bags, although both of my parents were dirt poor growing up. My mother baked her own bread and to this day I feel a bit of a twinge of guilt whenever I buy it in the store. We would have been counted as lower middle class I guess. I had more than one pair of shoes, but I do remember buying the cheap jeans and my mom making some clothes for us and herself. She canned a lot of vegetables for the winter; supermarkets in the midwest could get some produce during the winter but it was kinda pricey and not all that good.

And this doesn’t even take into account how sick most people were most of the time and how close to an early death everyone was. Most of my family of my grandparents’ generation died in their 50s or 60s usually from stroke or a heart attack. And a lot of their siblings died in their youth or infancy as well.

If you want to learn anything at all about history, a good place to start is ignoring Hollywood.

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