March 6, 2017

Not the 4X4.

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:47 pm

Archaeologists in Alaska uncover campsite used by survivors of doomed Russian ship

On a voyage to the remote settlements on Alaska’s southeast coast, the ill-fated Russian ship The Neva round aground during the brutally cold winter of 1813. More than 30 people aboard the vessel died and another 28 limped ashore where two more died of hypothermia in the harsh Alaskan wilderness before the remaining survivors were rescued three weeks later.

While the story of The Neva is well known throughout Alaska, the location of the shipwreck and how the survivors endured in that rugged landscape with little more than what was in their pockets has remained a mystery for over two centuries.

But the recent discovery by an international team of researchers funded by the National Science Foundation of a campsite used by the survivors has shed new light on what life was like for the survivors and pointed the archeologists to the Neva’s final resting place.

Nice little piece of detective work. I especially liked the misguided compass possibility and that they were looking in the wrong place due to uplift.

April 6, 2016

The War of 1812 and Proxy Buttocks

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 6:58 pm

Mass Grave From War Of 1812 Gives Archaeologists First Evidence Of Buckshot Injuries

The night of June 6, 1813, was dark and chaotic. As American troops advanced into the Niagara Peninsula, a battle ensued between them and the British army attempting to raid their camp at Stoney Creek in Ontario. Unable to coordinate a standard infantry line, both sides launched into close-range, hand-to-hand combat. Given the atypical nature of the battle, a group of archaeologists set out to see if the injuries found on two dozen skeletons in a mass grave from this War of 1812 skirmish were also atypical.

The Battle of Stoney Creek mass grave was excavated in 1998 and 1999. Containing 2,701 fragments, the collection represents at least 24 people who were likely hastily buried following the raid. The British lost 23 men, and the Americans 17, with over 200 more injured, missing, or captured. Previous studies on the excavated skeletons using stable isotope analysis revealed some of the soldiers had a more European diet, while others had a more North American, corn-based diet, suggesting both sides may have used the same grave to bury their dead. And in three of the individuals’ hip bones, there were injuries that seemed to have resulted from muskets.

January 13, 2016

Annnnnnd back to beer.

Filed under: Alcohol, Historic — acagle @ 1:37 pm

As promised, I’m providing a (temporary) link to the PDF of the paper for us to examine: A taste for temperance: how American beer got to be so bland by Ranjit S. Dighe. Here’s the abstract:

This article examines the historical origins of bland American beer. The US was not
strongly associated with a particular beer type until German immigrants popularised
lager beer. Lager, refreshing and mildly intoxicating, met the demands of America’s
growing working class. Over time, American lager became lighter and blander. This
article emphasises America’s uncommonly strong temperance movement, which put
the industry on the defensive. Brewers pushed their product as ‘the beverage of
moderation,’ and consumers sought out light, relatively non-intoxicating beers. The
recent ‘craft beer revolution’ is explained as a backlash aided by a changing consumer
culture and improved information technology.

So, one thing I kind of want to take issue with right off the bat is the premise:

Americans drink bland beer. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is subjective; one person’s ‘insipid’ is another’s ‘refreshing’. But compared with traditional beer-drinking countries like England, Germany, and Belgium, America is notable for the lightness, paleness, and relatively un-hopped character of its beer.

I don’t like the inherent negative connotations of “bland”. He even rather contradicts himself in the very next sentence. It’s probably just shorthand for “Light, pale, and relatively un-hopped”, but it strikes me as similar to bitching about water because it doesn’t taste like cranberry juice. So, having said that, onward.

December 30, 2015

Not strictly archaeology, but. . . .

Filed under: Experimental archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 4:20 pm

Building the Great Cathedrals

NOVA’s program on Gothic cathedrals is worth watching. It’s largely Cathedrals 101 — I didn’t see much that I hadn’t learned of as an undergrad in 198*mumble* — but there were a few items I hadn’t seen before, like the Big Fix to the Beauvais cathedral and its attendant problems. Plus a couple of nice recreations. They also have a bit on the Guédelon project which I’ve posted about before.

October 13, 2015

Historical/Aeronautical archaeology

Filed under: Aerial Archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 7:06 am

Buried Spitfire gives up its secrets: Archaeologists uncover precious items from plane that crashed during World War II

There’s not a lot of historical information here, but I appreciate these kinds of projects. And nice photos, too. Excellent view of the stratigraphy in one, with the dark peat overlying what looks like compact clay.

September 17, 2015

Hmmmmmm. . . . .

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:14 pm

Loot found by treasure hunters above Nazi gold train tunnel

Treasure hunters scouring the woods above the tunnel where the Nazi train is said to be hidden have claimed to have found a Nazi Eagle, gold coins and other WWII memorabilia which they say is ‘proof’ it may really be packed with priceless jewels.
The local two men, who refused to be named, recovered the ‘treasure’ from the hill in Walbrzych, Poland, which has become the centre of fevered speculation over the last two weeks, ever since it was revealed two men had ‘discovered’ a Nazi train hidden in a secret tunnel underneath it.
They showed MailOnline pictures of coins, a German helmet and a Nazi Eagle they found at the site, adding: ‘There is still a lot of treasure like this lying around. If that train is in the tunnel, it could well contain more of this, a lot more.’

DUnno, I’m starting to wonder if they might really be on to something. . . . . .

September 14, 2015

This sounds. . . . .fishy?

Filed under: Historic, Underwater archaeology — acagle @ 3:11 pm

It was either that or a cod piece joke.

Cod bones from Mary Rose reveal globalised fish trade in Tudor England

New stable isotope and ancient DNA analysis of the bones of stored cod provisions recovered from the wreck of the Tudor warship Mary Rose, which sank off the coast of southern England in 1545, has revealed that the fish in the ship’s stores had been caught in surprisingly distant waters: the northern North Sea and the fishing grounds of Iceland – despite England having well developed local fisheries by the 16th century. Test results from one of the sample bones has led archaeologists to suspect that some of the stored cod came from as far away as Newfoundland in eastern Canada.

I can imagine that preserved fish as provisions could have gone all over the place as it waited to be utilized. Ships would provision wherever they could and if you got a barrel o’ fish from one location you’d hang on to it until you used it, or even transfer it to another vessel. So I’m not sure I go along with the “lack of sufficient fisheries locally” idea.

September 9, 2015

Recent archaeology

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:30 pm

This is pretty neat: Archaeologists piece together how crew survived 1813 shipwreck in Alaska

Working closely with the U.S. Forest Service and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, an international team of researchers funded by the National Science Foundation has begun to piece together an archaeological and historical narrative of how the crew of the wrecked 19th century Russian-American Company sailing ship Neva survived the harsh subarctic winter.

“The items left behind by survivors provide a unique snapshot-in-time for January 1813, and might help us to understand the adaptations that allowed them to await rescue in a frigid, unfamiliar environment for almost a month,” said Dave McMahan of the Sitka Historical Society.

Only a month though.

August 6, 2015

Urban architectural archaeology?

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:08 pm

Sort of: See NYC’s Only Remaining Trace of the Original Penn Station

On West 31st Street, wedged in between a Park ‘n’ Lock and DVD store, stands the only remaining trace of the glorious original Penn Station. Scouting NY’s Nick Carr has turned his camera on the “granite behemoth” at 242 West 31st Street to discover that the building with curiously blacked-out windows and an industrial door is the original Penn Station’s service building. Designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Mead, & White, with William Symmes Richardson, the granite-faced building is where “all of the critical powering services to the original Penn Station” were produced, including electricity, heat, light, elevator hydraulics, compressed air, and refrigeration, the Municipal Art Society says.

You can find a lot of this stuff in most cities. I saw something about the old Penn Station sometime in the last few weeks but can’t remember what it was.

July 7, 2015

“It’s gold.”

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 7:09 pm

Gold fillings and family grit helped solve the 71-year-old mystery of a veteran’s burial

First Lieutenant Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman Jr was finally coming home.

For the better part of a century, the Medal of Honor recipient was literally lost to the chaos and carnage of World War II. His grave said “Buried at sea” but his family knew better. Sandy Bonnyman was entombed — somewhere.

The story of how Evans, a 53-year-old freelance journalist from Colorado, tracked down his grandfather’s remains is almost as incredible as Bonnyman’s heroics. It involves gunfights and flamethrowers, radar and drones, mass graves and a cadaver dog named Buster.

“It is incredible,” Evans said. “Just incredible.”

Nice story. Video at the link.

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