February 27, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:28 pm

Seafaring clue to first Americans

People in North America were voyaging by sea some 8,000 years ago, boosting a theory that some of the continent’s first settlers arrived there by boat.

That is the claim of archaeologists who have found evidence of ancient seafaring along the Californian coast.

The traditional view holds that the first Americans were trekkers from Siberia who crossed a land bridge into Alaska during the last Ice Age.

The report in American Antiquity makes arrival by boat seem more plausible.

Confessional holds key to ancient Greek loot

GREEK archaeologists hope a priest who convinced a gold digger to give up ancient artifacts he unearthed by accident will let them know where the treasures came from, a representative said on February 19.

Georgia Karamitrou-Medesidi, director of a local archaeological commission in the Kozani prefecture in northern Greece said the man had gone digging for gold coins. “During confession, he told a priest what he dug up, and the priest convinced him to give him the artefacts to deliver to us. The priest is a deeply spiritual man and won’t divulge the identity of the man,” she told Reuters. “We just hope he can convince the finder to disclose the area he was digging in.”

February 25, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:08 am

Inscriptions Prove Influence of Jiroft Civilization on Sumer

TERHAN Feb. 25 (Mehr News Agency) –- Head of the International Archaeological Study Center said that the unearthed inscriptions in the historical region of Jiroft proves that the civilization of the region had influenced Sumerian civilization.

Yusef Majidzadeh added that following the second stage of archaeological studies in Halilrud region of Jiroft, Kerman Province, 25 mud seals were discovered.

“An inscription written on one of the seals is datable to 4000 years ago. The 2×3cm seal is made of mud, which was unearthed in layers on top of the hill in the region. The inscription is unique and proves the fact that the civilization of the Halirud region in eastern Iran was the originator of the script,” added Majidzadeh.

Cool web site alert Online guide lets you explore ancient realms

Cairo – Lovers of archaeology – be it Pharaonic, Roman, Greek, Coptic or Islamic – can now log on to a new website to access more than 5 000 years of history.

Project organisers on Tuesday launched the website, Eternal Egypt, against the backdrop of the Pyramids of the Giza plateau and the Sphinx.

Work on the project began three years ago in a partnership between the Egyptian Centre for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage (CultNat) and US technology manufacturer IBM.

Early makeup kit may confirm biblical story

Excavation: Israeli archaeologists find 2,500- year-old accessories, which likely belonged to Jews who returned from exile in Babylon.

JERUSALEM — Israeli archaeologists excavating caves near the Dead Sea discovered jewelry, a makeup kit and a small mirror — 2,500-year-old fashion accessories for women.

The trove apparently belonged to Jews who returned from exile in Babylon in the 6th century B.C., said Tsvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

“This find is very rare. Both for the richness of the find and for that period, it is almost unheard of,” Tsuk said Friday.

Antiquities market report Stolen Treasures: An Egyptian artifact takes a crooked path

A decade ago, laborers excavating a building site in Akhmim hit an imposing limestone slab incised with hieroglyphics and the image of Osiris, god of the lower world. The ancient Egyptians offered this kind of monument, known as a stele, as a tribute to a god or a dead relative.

.

Under Egyptian law, the stele should have been turned over to the government, a recovered shard of the national patrimony. Instead, something considerably more commonplace happened. It became an outlaw. Quietly, it passed into the global antiquities market. Five years later, cleansed of its illicit origins, it emerged in New York as a rich man’s prize, in the foyer of an apartment on the Upper East Side.

Long and extensive article on the mechanisms by which looted artifacts reach the west.

And yet more market news Fake ossuary leads Israel to look into sellers of antiquities

An Israeli documentary Wednesday claimed the James ossuary, the ancient burial box bearing a discredited inscription mentioning Jesus, is just the tip of a long-running forgery ring that has duped antiquities collectors worldwide for the last 15 years.

First reports of the ossuary in a 2002 Biblical Archaeology Review created a frenzy over the relic that bears the Aramaic inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Throngs visited the Royal Ontario Museum to see the empty stone box. Scientists all agree the ossuary is a genuine artifact from the era of the New Testament, but many scholars believe the inscription was added recently.

February 24, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:21 pm

700-year-old mummies found

Two of the oldest mummies found in Peru – so well preserved that one had an eye and internal organs intact – have gone on display after their discovery by building workers two weeks ago.

Officials from the National Institute of Culture said the mummies – a young boy and a man in his mid-30s – were at least 700 years old.

They came from a culture that predated the Incas, who dominated a vast swathe of South America from Colombia to Chile until they were toppled by Spanish invaders in the 1530s.

An archaeologist at the National Culture Institute, Lucy Linares, said: “Two mummies have been found – a boy of about five and a farmer, about 35 years old, dating from between 1100 and 1300, the Chiribaya culture. What is striking is the level of conservation [of the mummies].”

The man had one eye open and “you can see his eyeball. It’s perfectly preserved.”

I admit to being somewhat flummoxed by this. Apparently the bodies were preserved due to dessication, but, eyes being mostly water, would presumably have dried out long ago. Even Egyptian mummies, which were deliberately dried for preservation, did not retain the eyes. (As far as I know) So, take what you will.

Arabs want ancient artefacts back

A regional conference in Egypt has called on Western museums to return “stolen” Middle Eastern artefacts to their country of origin.

Lawyers taking part in the event said monuments such as the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum had been plundered and should be handed back.

Shaheen Abou-Alfoutouh, one of the Egyptian organisers, said the West should agree to protect human heritage.

He said he hoped citizens in the UK and Europe would support the campaign.

Doubt it will have much effect. The vast bulk of antiquities removed from various countries in the Middle East were done with the permission of the governments then in charge. And there’s something to be said for having artifacts spread widely: natural disasters or a sudden turn of the political fortunes of any individual country (e.g., the Taliban) would be unlikely to destroy the whole kit-n-kaboodle.

Hills of the Dead: Archaeologists seek to unearth city’s secrets

From high above Guatemala City, Kaminaljuya Park resembles a keyhole — a rare undeveloped spot in a sprawling metropolis hungry for land to develop. Archaeologists from Brigham Young University and other U.S. institutions are helping their Guatemalan counterparts to pick this massive lock in hopes of revealing the secrets buried deep within the park. This oasis in the city of more than a million represents the last window into an ancient Mesoamerican city that first rose to power between 500 and 200 B.C.

BYU’s Stephen Houston said Kaminaljuya translates in a Mayan language to “Hills of the Dead,” named for the burial mounds found throughout the area. The city’s original name is lost to time, since so few examples of the culture’s writing system survived.

Despite being one of the major population centers of the ancient Americas, archaeologists know little about Kaminaljuyœ. Information gleaned from this site could help explain the evolution of the region’s culture as well as how cities in the region interacted.

Fight! Fight! errr. . Stoush! Stoush!Prehistoric row erupts over hunter-gatherer riddle

A team of Australian archaeologists have sparked an academic row by claiming to have solved the riddle of a missing 1,000 years in human prehistory.

The scientists from Melbourne’s La Trobe University have found remnants of grains on the shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan that they believe help fill the 1,000-year gap in our knowledge of man’s transition from nomad to farmer.

But not everyone agrees, and the Australian team is now muscling up for an academic arm wrestle next month with the exponents of different theories in France.

Re., ‘Stoush”: Never heard of it.

February 23, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:27 pm

Scholar: Muslims had insights into hieroglyphs

CAIRO, Egypt (Reuters) — An Egyptian scholar based in London, England, has been delighting Arab audiences with his inquiries into the recondite world of medieval Muslims who wrote about ancient Egypt and had some insights into hieroglyphic writing.

Among Western scholars, who have led the field of Egyptology since Napoleon’s 1798 campaign and Jean-Francois Champollion’s groundbreaking work on hieroglyphics in the 1820s, the conventional wisdom has been that Arabs and Muslims dismissed ancient Egypt as an irrelevant pagan civilization.

The important observations here are: 1) “Three Arab scholars between them correctly identified about 10 of the several dozen hieroglyphs that they thought made up a phonetic alphabet…” and 2) “the Arab scholars grasped two of the basic principles — that some signs represented sounds while others were determinatives, signs that conveyed the concept of the word pictorially.”

While significant from a historical point of view, it’s still a bit of a footnote since these insights didn’t lead anywhere useful. Still, it highlights how advanced Islamic civilization was at that point especially compared with Europe.

Library of classics at your fingertips

STUDENTS at Manchester University no longer need to thumb through dusty texts when reading classics of English literature.

They don’t even have to visit the library, for the university has made every book published in English between 1453 and 1800 available online.

I tried to find an actual link to these works, but Man U was taking forever to come up. Will try to verify this, though I suspect it may only be available for ManU students and possibly to affilicated academics elsewhere (i.e., not publically available).

More on looting Stopping the Archaeological Plunder

Last spring, an armed Guatemalan gang brutalized a woman to make her give up the location of a valuable Mayan monument in the Petén rain forest so they could steal it. Then something remarkable happened. A group of local elders reported the crime to Arthur Demarest, an archaeology professor at Vanderbilt University, who alerted Guatemala’s federal police, the Servícios de Investigación Criminal. Six months later, government agents arrested 10 members of the gang, many with suspected connections to organized crime, and returned the monument to its home in Cancuén, which thrived during the Mayan Classic Period. “The S.I.C. agents and the Q´eqchi´ people are risking their lives to protect that site,” Demarest says.

In the face of widespread archaeological theft around the world, the events in Guatemala point to part of the solution: getting local citizens involved. To help do this, Demarest has partnered with the National Geographic Society to help make tourism at Cancuén an integral part of the economy. He has also enlisted a Washington, D.C.–based humanitarian organization, Counterpart International, to set up medical clinics and provide clean water, solar energy, and legal help. As a result, the Q´eqchi´ Mayans have become protective of their archaeological heritage.

Taking the plunge to find ancient shipwrecks off Greece

For a while, it looked like Greece was toast as the Persian invasion fleet sailed out of the northern Aegean Sea toward Athens.

But as the armada attempted to round Mount Athos, the Greek historian Herodotus recounts, “a violent north wind sprang up, against which nothing could contend, and handled a large number of the ships with much rudeness, shattering them and driving them aground upon Athos. ‘Tis said the number of the ships destroyed was little short of three hundred, and the men who perished were more than 20,000. For the sea about Athos abounds in monsters beyond all others.”

And so it was that the first Persian attempt to conquer Greece, in 492 B.C., with a combined sea-and-land attack, got no farther than Macedonia. And King Darius’ next effort, two years later, would be thwarted by the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon.

Not entirely by coincidence, as Athens prepares to host the Olympics this summer, an international team of scientists will be scanning and diving the waters off Athos in a bid to find the remains of at least one of those 2,500-year-old shipwrecks.

Deep-water archaeology is the next frontier. The bottom of the Mediterannean will turn out to be a treasure trove of remains. Even more significant will be the Black Sea. The bulk of the bottom of the Black Sea is totally anoxic, meaning ships — and their cargo (and crew?) — ought to be nearly perfectly preserved. Several intact vessels have already been found. This will turn out to be far more significant than all the tombs of Egypt in terms of elucidating our understanding of the past in general in this entire region.

February 19, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:47 pm

Gruesome secret of Antonine wall

RESEARCH into the largest relic from the Roman Empire’s invasion of Scotland has given historians a dramatic insight into the daily life of ordinary soldiers and the gruesome nature of ancient warfare.

Excavations of the 38-mile Antonine wall at Mumrills Fort, near Falkirk, have revealed evidence of the Romans’ defensive structures, which were designed to cause the maximum damage to attackers, and even the daily cooking routines of foot-soldiers.

We often lose sight of what actual soldiers went through in ancient warfare. Warfare with spears and blades was indeed a gruesome affair, something which we have a difficult time imagining. A good reference work is Lawrence Keeley’s War Before Civilization. Prehistoric warfare is an increasingly popular area of research among archaeologists in North America, especially in the Southwest. FOr many years, archaeologists were loathe to attribute violent tendencies to aboriginal North American populations, largely due (in my opinion) to guilty feelings. This has been changing, though not without resistance. Expect more popular works to come out on prehistoric warfare in North America.

More gruesome deaths THE EXECUTIONER’S MOAT

Excavations in a medieval moat around Oxford Castle have so far yielded the remains of 60 to 70 criminals, mostly men in their twenties, executed during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Archaeologists believe that dozens more await discovery. “This excavation has given us a much greater understanding of the way in which the bodies of executed criminals were treated in postmedieval England,” said Andrew Norton, the field archaeologist running the dig.

The victims, all of whom are thought to have been hanged, seem to have been denied a Christian burial. They were interred in unconsecrated ground, and some 20 percent of them were buried face down or on their sides. Most were not buried in a traditional Christian east-west alignment, thus depriving them of the opportunity to rise from the dead facing Jerusalem on the Day of Judgment.

And still more stiffs Excavations bring Bern’s past to life

Archaeologists stumbled across around 270 human skeletons, thought to be people of high social standing, during excavations near the parliament building last November.

Earlier in the year a paupers’ graveyard was discovered at another site in the Swiss capital.

“We are hoping to gather information on the social and economic history of the period between 1730 and 1820 when this graveyard was still in use,” excavation specialist Martin Portmann told swissinfo.

I wonder if the lack of the disease among the pooer folk was more due to higher mortality from other causes rather than from an actual absence of the disease.

Dismal Swamp may reveal secret history of escaped slaves

SUFFOLK, Va. – (KRT) – The Great Dismal Swamp is exactly what its name promises.

Its tangle of razor-tipped thorn bushes encircles a determined swarm of insects that survive on the flesh of mammals, birds, deadly reptiles and a relatively small number of humans on brief forays to see what this place is all about.

This was not always so.

Black men and women – escaped slaves – once scratched out lives, maybe even raised families, in what was once a 2,000-square-mile swamp. They took their chances in a harsh wilderness rather than spending another moment under their masters’ thumbs.

Egyptian beer roolz! Scottish beer droolz! A taste for trouble

AN ARCHAEOLOGIST recently recreated a neolithic brew based on ingredients excavated in Perthshire. The resulting ale tasted unpleasant, but clearly those who drank it originally were not put off. Ever since, the production and consumption of alcohol has been central to Scotland’s culture.

It wasn’t just home-produced brew for which Scots developed a taste. Scotland did brisk international trade exporting a wide range of goods in exchange for claret, imported from France to Leith as early as the 12th century. Subsequently, wines from Spain were landed in Dumbarton, bound for Glasgow. In the other direction, export ales were developed from the late 18th century so they remained drinkable on arrival in the colonies.

More of an opinion piece, but some interesting background on drinking in Scotland. Interesting angle: “alcoholic beverages, beer in particular, were safer to consume than drinking water, particularly in the towns, and it was often not much more expensive. . .”

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:47 pm

Gruesome secret of Antonine wall

RESEARCH into the largest relic from the Roman Empire’s invasion of Scotland has given historians a dramatic insight into the daily life of ordinary soldiers and the gruesome nature of ancient warfare.

Excavations of the 38-mile Antonine wall at Mumrills Fort, near Falkirk, have revealed evidence of the Romans’ defensive structures, which were designed to cause the maximum damage to attackers, and even the daily cooking routines of foot-soldiers.

We often lose sight of what actual soldiers went through in ancient warfare. Warfare with spears and blades was indeed a gruesome affair, something which we have a difficult time imagining. A good reference work is Lawrence Keeley’s War Before Civilization. Prehistoric warfare is an increasingly popular area of research among archaeologists in North America, especially in the Southwest. FOr many years, archaeologists were loathe to attribute violent tendencies to aboriginal North American populations, largely due (in my opinion) to guilty feelings. This has been changing, though not without resistance. Expect more popular works to come out on prehistoric warfare in North America.

More gruesome deaths THE EXECUTIONER’S MOAT

Excavations in a medieval moat around Oxford Castle have so far yielded the remains of 60 to 70 criminals, mostly men in their twenties, executed during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Archaeologists believe that dozens more await discovery. “This excavation has given us a much greater understanding of the way in which the bodies of executed criminals were treated in postmedieval England,” said Andrew Norton, the field archaeologist running the dig.

The victims, all of whom are thought to have been hanged, seem to have been denied a Christian burial. They were interred in unconsecrated ground, and some 20 percent of them were buried face down or on their sides. Most were not buried in a traditional Christian east-west alignment, thus depriving them of the opportunity to rise from the dead facing Jerusalem on the Day of Judgment.

And still more stiffs Excavations bring Bern’s past to life

Archaeologists stumbled across around 270 human skeletons, thought to be people of high social standing, during excavations near the parliament building last November.

Earlier in the year a paupers’ graveyard was discovered at another site in the Swiss capital.

“We are hoping to gather information on the social and economic history of the period between 1730 and 1820 when this graveyard was still in use,” excavation specialist Martin Portmann told swissinfo.

I wonder if the lack of the disease among the pooer folk was more due to higher mortality from other causes rather than from an actual absence of the disease.

Dismal Swamp may reveal secret history of escaped slaves

SUFFOLK, Va. – (KRT) – The Great Dismal Swamp is exactly what its name promises.

Its tangle of razor-tipped thorn bushes encircles a determined swarm of insects that survive on the flesh of mammals, birds, deadly reptiles and a relatively small number of humans on brief forays to see what this place is all about.

This was not always so.

Black men and women – escaped slaves – once scratched out lives, maybe even raised families, in what was once a 2,000-square-mile swamp. They took their chances in a harsh wilderness rather than spending another moment under their masters’ thumbs.

Egyptian beer roolz! Scottish beer droolz! A taste for trouble

AN ARCHAEOLOGIST recently recreated a neolithic brew based on ingredients excavated in Perthshire. The resulting ale tasted unpleasant, but clearly those who drank it originally were not put off. Ever since, the production and consumption of alcohol has been central to Scotland’s culture.

It wasn’t just home-produced brew for which Scots developed a taste. Scotland did brisk international trade exporting a wide range of goods in exchange for claret, imported from France to Leith as early as the 12th century. Subsequently, wines from Spain were landed in Dumbarton, bound for Glasgow. In the other direction, export ales were developed from the late 18th century so they remained drinkable on arrival in the colonies.

More of an opinion piece, but some interesting background on drinking in Scotland. Interesting angle: “alcoholic beverages, beer in particular, were safer to consume than drinking water, particularly in the towns, and it was often not much more expensive. . .”

February 18, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:50 am

It’s about time Vikings’ Barbaric Bad Rap Beginning to Fade

“Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. … Behold, the church of St. Cuthbert, spattered with the blood of the priests of God, despoiled of all its ornaments; a place more venerable than all in Britain is given as a prey to pagan peoples.”

So wrote religious scholar Alcuin of York in the late eighth century in a letter to Ethelred, king of Northumbria in England. He was describing a violent raid by Vikings on a monastery in present-day Scotland.

It is no wonder that the Vikings have a reputation for mindless savagery. Since the Vikings were unable to write, much of their history was recorded by British and French clergy—the very people who fell victim to the Viking raids.

High Museum Turnout Forces Tombs’ Closure

NEW YORK – Unexpectedly high visitor interest has forced the Metropolitan Museum of Art to close two Egyptian tombs that were opened for unrestricted viewing last month.

The museum had removed protective glass screens from the tombs of Raemkai and Perneb Jan. 29, allowing visitors full views of interior limestone carvings for the first time in 90 years.

This is the continual problem in Egypt: the tombs being in visitors; the visitors’ mere presence is degrading the tombs; eventually there will be nothing left to look at.

It’s one of those paradoxes of archaeology. The reason why things survive from thousands of years ago is that they have been sealed away from human contact. The ground is, after all is said and done, a very safe place for artifacts to be (as well as inaccessible caves or their analogs, tombs). The tombs of Egypt were largely preserved for so long because they were either sealed up and inaccessible or choked with debris and similarly inaccessible. The paintings remained stable because the environment within the tombs was fairly stable. Once they were opened to the outside and people came in with their body heat and moisture-laden breath, the decorations began to decay rapidly.

A similar situation evolved in France with the Paleolithic cave paintings. In that case, the caves containing the paintings were largely sealed off from public view to protect them. This is, of course, somewhat controversial. Nobody denies that unfettered access to these things would be damaging, but it does put archaeologists in something of an elitist position controlling access to what is generally regarded as the patrimony of the human race as a whole. This occurs again and again within archaeology and is something worth considering in depth. Which I will not do here.

And in a similar vein. . .Reading between Peru’s Nazca Lines

Tourists, grave robbers, tractor trailers leaving their mark

NAZCA, Peru (AP) — Standing inside the maze of mysterious lines and figures that put this arid region on the tourist map, state archaeologist Alberto Urbano surveys a football field-sized spread of ankle-deep trash.

“Farther down this road there are illegal gold mines, too,” he says, noting the path actually is the side of a giant trapezoid. “See how straight it is.”

But not just trash and small-time gold diggers threaten Peru’s fragile Nazca Lines. Grave robbers, tractor trailers and tourists have left their mark on the mammoth designs carved more than a millennium ago along a 35-mile stretch of desert.

February 17, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:29 am

No, just science. Kennewick man ruling – politics or science?

Native Americans called him “The Ancient One”, while anthropologists speculated he could reveal who first settled the Americas.

Then, for over seven years, the skeleton of Kennewick Man became the subject of a court battle between the two parties, crystallising the debate over who should lay claim to ancient human remains and artefacts.

Last week, a federal appeals court finally granted scientists the right to study the 9200-year-old bones, against the wishes of a group of native American tribes, including the Nez Perce tribe of Idaho and those of the Yakama Indian Nation, who wished to rebury them.

There is really no evidence of political motivation present in the article to suggest the headline. The fact that other old skeletons have since come to light is entirely irrelevant. Other than that, the article provides absolutely no basis for the sensationalist headline.

Cartography in the news Norse Map or German Hoax? Still No Rest for Vinland (Free registration required)

When it surfaced in 1957, it was too good to be true: a purported 15th-century world map depicting an island to the far west labeled Vinilandia Insula — the fabled Vinland — proof positive, it seemed, that Norse explorers had reached North America long before Columbus.

Thanks — but no thanks — the British Museum told the intermediary who offered to sell it to them. It’s a phony.

Later that year, however, New Haven, Conn., book dealer Lawrence Witten bought the map and an accompanying medieval manuscript for his wife, paying $3,500. Soon after, he visited Yale University Library to view a seemingly unrelated manuscript fragment purchased by Thomas E. Marston, the library’s curator of medieval and renaissance literature. Witten asked to borrow it.

Human evolution at the crossroads: Integrating genetics and paleontology

SEATTLE — Advances in genetics during the last decade not only have influenced modern medicine, they also have changed how human evolution is studied, says an anthropologist from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Using her own research on the teeth of baboons as a case in point, Leslea J. Hlusko said that some of the traits considered important to human evolution, such as the thickness of molar enamel, may be too simplistically interpreted by some paleontologists.

Hlusko organized a Monday symposium on human evolution at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She brought together experts who study phylogenetics, ancient DNA, developmental genetics, quantitative genetics and primate evolution so that they could share the same stage to discuss their current work, and where they may be able to go on together in an effort to understand the evolution of our ancestors. The session was discussed Sunday at a news briefing.

Hlusko’s call for an integration of paleontology and genetics is also the focus of a perspective article that will appear online Monday ahead of print publication by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The two camps (geneticists and paleontologists) have feuded a lot over the years but have often come to some accomodation to the benefit of all. Money quote:

“By combining these different data sets with the fossil record, we don’t have to be just paleontologists, or just geneticists. Because selection operates on the genome through our anatomies, it makes better sense to conduct our research with a similarly integrative approach.

Scientists discover lost world

A prehistoric lost world under the North Sea has been mapped by scientists from the University of Birmingham.

The team used earthquake data to devise a 3D reconstruction of the 10,000-year-old plain.

The area, part of a land mass that once joined Britain to northern Europe, disappeared about 8,000 years ago.

The virtual features they have developed include a river the length of the Thames which disappeared when its valley flooded due to glaciers melting.

This is the most exciting and challenging virtual reality project since Virtual Stonehenge.

Professor Bob Stone

Professor Bob Stone, head of the Department of Engineering’s Human Interface Technology Team, said they were working to ensure the visual accuracy of the environment.

British Archaeologists Believe They Have Found Darwin’s Ship

British archaeologists believe they have uncovered the remains of the ship Charles Darwin used to sail across the world.

Marine archaeologist Robert Prescott of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews told London’s Observer newspaper that he is “quietly confident” that the Beagle has been located.

The ship’s fate has been a mystery for more than a century.



Colombians say past in peril

Archeologists, scavengers tussle over burial sites

SANTA MARTA, Colombia — In an impoverished neighborhood of Santa Marta on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, an old man dug under the merciless sun in an abandoned plot of land. A cigarette dangling from his lips, he held up what appeared to be a human bone to the sun for a closer look.

Alberto, hunting for pre-Columbian artifacts to sell on the black market, had found the piece in what probably was an ancient burial ground. He calls himself a “Colombian Indiana Jones.”

“How would Colombia know about these sites and artifacts if we hadn’t found them?” said Alberto, who requested that his full name not be used.

But it’s worse in Iraq, isn’t it?Looters trash Iraq’s archaeological sights

BAGHDAD – Deadly, efficient and dangerous, Iraqi looters are devastating the country’s immense archaeological heritage as the forces of the US-led coalition seek to kick-start an initiative to protect the

country’s cultural treasures.

A maze of footprints, desert churned up by four-wheel vehicles and an imperial city reduced to enormous empty caves.

Such was the evidence of mass robbery seen just weeks ago in the southern province of Diwaniya, nearly a year after the war, coalition officials told AFP.

Road project strikes tomb

A new road project on the outskirts of Volos in central Greece has revealed what appears to be an intact, unplundered Mycenaean royal tomb, a report said yesterday.

The subterranean tholos tomb was found along with four or five small, box-like cist tombs during construction of a new Volos ring road, according to the Ethnos daily.

See, I should give up archaeology and become a construction worker since they always seem to find the cool stuff.

Mesopotamian climate change

Geoscientists are increasingly exploring an interesting trend: Climate change has been affecting human society for thousands of years. At the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in December, one archaeologist presented research that suggests that climate change affected the way cultures developed and collapsed in the cradle of civilization — ancient Mesopotamia — more than 8,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have found evidence for a mass migration from the more temperate northern Mesopotamia to the arid southern region around 6400 B.C. For the previous 1,000 years, people had been cultivating the arable land in northern Mesopotamia, using natural rainwater to supply their crops. So archaeologists have long wondered why the ancient people moved from an area where they could easily farm to begin a much harder life in the south.

SLOAN CANYON NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA: Artifacts surprise crew

Under the watchful eyes of tortoises, bobcats and bighorn sheep, a dozen researchers spent the past three months scouring the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area for evidence of ancient civilizations.

They came away with samples from at least 80 prehistoric sites and a host of new questions about how the area was used over the past 1,500 years and by whom.

“I was really shocked by the complexity of the archaeology,” said Stan Rolf, district archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management. “I didn’t expect to find as much archaeology as we did in the NCA outside of Sloan Canyon.”

One of the biggest surprises was the discovery of pottery shards decorated with the black-on-white designs used by the Ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi.

This is really a good article describing survey archaeology, how it’s done, and what sort of things they find.

February 13, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:14 pm

Happy Birthday!Clovis Man turns 75, plus 13,000

CLOVIS, N.M. — He lived among saber-toothed cats, hunted giant mammoths and bison and was smart enough to dig water wells.

Other than that, even thousands of years later, we still don’t know much about the people known collectively as Clovis Man.

Last week marked 75 years since a local amateur archaeologist discovered Clovis Man at Blackwater Draw, about 14 miles southwest of Clovis in eastern New Mexico.

Clovis people lived between 11,500 and 13,000 years ago. Since Clovis Man’s discovery, evidence has surfaced that prehistoric man’s first North American appearance may have been on the East Coast, but many researchers still favor Clovis Man as the oldest.

Clovis, Clovis, Clovis. . .probably the most used and abused people in the world of which we know very little. They were supposedly big game hunters yet we have very few actual sites that unequivocolly show that they actually hunted anything (as opposed to, say, scavenged). They are key to hypotheses concerning the peopling of the Americas and the extinction of several genera of large mammals, yet their basic lifeways still elude us to a large degree. One of these days, I’ll post a bunch of links regarding these two very contentious issues.

Tourists To Look for Ancient Persian Army

Feb. 12, 2004 — Tourists traversing Egypt’s desert may solve a mystery that has puzzled archaeologists for centuries: what happened to the 50,000-man Persian army of King Cambyses.

Set up by tourist operator Aqua Sun Desert, the Cambyses project will comb the desert sands using four-wheel-drive vehicles packed with paying tourists eager to find the remains of the lost army swallowed in a sandstorm in 524 B.C., according to the account of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.

“What did you do on vacation this year?”

“Oh, I found Cambyses’ army that was swallowed by a sandstorm two and a half thousand years ago. You?”

February 12, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:46 pm

Truly excellent site on Egypt’s Early Dynastic period. Built and maintained by Francesco Raffaele. Simply an astounding amount of information on the early periods of Dynastic Egypt.

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