Who cares, Go Brewers! (PRE)HISTORIC BATTLE
Any woolly mammoths in The Bronx better beware. The Red Sox are coming to town for a three-game series with the Yankees, and they’re bringing their caveman center fielder – the very hairy Johnny Damon.
. . .
“It’s an insult to the people who lived in those cavernous alcoves long ago. And no self-respecting caveman would wear a Red Sox uniform,” said Ken Mowbray, a physical anthropologist with the American Museum of Natural History.
You heard it here first: the confluence of baseball and archaeology.
Archaeological evidence shows ancient coastal life
SAN LUIS OBISPO – Rubbish dug a generation ago from an oceanside archaeological site first occupied around 8,000 B.C. is being re-examined for clues that could bolster the theory some of the first Americans to stream into the New World hugged the Pacific coast, reaping the bounty of the land and the sea.
This month, anthropologist Terry Jones and his colleagues began poring over the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 broken bones and shells, salvaged in excavations hastily carried out 36 years ago to make way for construction of a nuclear power plant on the Central California coast.
Now, more exhaustive analysis could support the controversial idea that some pioneering Paleo-Indians moved into North America along the West Coast, skipping inland routes that traditionally have been considered the most likely avenues into the continent from Asia.
This is an excellent article for two reasons: 1) It reinforces the idea expressed below that valuable research can be carried out on existing collections without digging up anything new; and 2) It furthers the idea that Clovis big game hunters were not necessarily the only early people in the Americas. This has implications for all sorts of New World questions, including the extinction of megafauna, the composition of Amerindian populations (i.e., their phylogenetic affiliations), etc.
Side note: A truly excellent paper that utilizes old excavated material is RC Dunnell’s Aspects of the spatial structure of the Mayo Site (15-JO-14) Johnson County, Kentucky. He used materials collected in the 1930s to develop a functional model of a Mississippian (I believe) village. Full reference: in Lulu Linear Punctated: Essays in honor of George Irving Quimby, edited by Dunnell, R.C., Grayson, D.K., Anthropological papers, Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan #72, Ann Arbor, 1983, pp. 109-165.
Additional side note: Rumor hath it that “Lulu Linear Punctated” (a ceramic type) was actually named after an Athapascan prostitute. I leave it at that.
Rocking the cradle
In Iran, an archaeologist is racing to uncover a literate Bronze Age society he believes predates ancient Mesopotamia. Critics say he may be overreaching, but they concede his dig will likely change our view of the dawn of civilization
Discoveries made during a dig in southeastern Iran have convinced archaeologist Yousef Madjidzadeh that a desolate valley here was once home to a thriving—and literate—community. He calls it nothing less than “the earliest Oriental civilization.” It’s a dramatic assertion, but if he’s right, it would mean the site, near Iran’s Halil River, is older than Mesopotamia, a thousand miles to the west in what is today Iraq and long acknowledged as one of the earliest civilizations. Confirmation would overturn our understanding of the critical period when humans first began to live a literate urban life. It would also give sudden prominence to this forgotten corner of Iran.
It took an unlikely combination of events—a flood in this region, combined with a political thaw in distant Tehran, the Iranian capital—to bring Madjidzadeh here in the first place. Starting in 2001, local villagers began plundering ancient graves that had been exposed earlier that year by a flash flood. Iranian police confiscated hundreds of finely worked stone vessels carved with images of animals and architecture and decorated with semiprecious stones. Madjidzadeh strongly believes most were made in this valley more than 4,000 years ago.
There’s a link to the complete article (PDF) which may or may not require a subscription. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but will post more when I do. Iran is definitely the future place to be.
Professor blows new life into ancient flute
Few Chinese people have heard of the yue, an ancient wind instrument that belonged to the flute family.
However, this flute, the name of which is pronounced the same as the word for “music” in Chinese, used to be an important instrument in many ancient ceremonial rituals.
In The Book of Songs (Shi Jing), the most ancient collection of Chinese poetry, which was compiled in the 6th century BC, yue is the most frequently mentioned wind instrument.
After the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) about 1,700 years ago, the yue seemed to have disappeared. Two ancient instruments, the dizi, or bamboo flute, which was played transversely and the xiao, another form of bamboo flute, but played vertically, seemed to have become the dominant wind instruments.
Human bones found near Wupatki
Human bones were uncovered Thursday near Wupatki National Monument, and preliminary findings indicate that the bones might be those of a prehistoric ancestor of the Hopi Tribe.
Ken Frederick, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, said that a National Park Service ranger found the bones on an area of Forest Service land near the southern edge of Wupatki.
Slavery in NYC The African foundations of New York
The remains of 20,000 Africans are said to be buried under New York
The remains of 20,000 African men, women and children have lain beneath the busy streets of New York for 300 years, waiting to tell their stories on the extent of slavery in the city.
In March 1992, leading African-America archaeologist Michael Blakey arrived at the burial ground in downtown Manhattan.
“I had read about these people documented as chattel, ” he said. “Now I was going to learn about these Africans in New York as human beings.”
A haunting sight greeted him. Being winter, work was taking place under a translucent plastic tent.
There are numerous articles on the Web regarding NYC’s A-A cemeteries (here, for example) and they make for truly fascinating reading. One comment regarding the age distribution of the individuals: a preponderance of juveniles and few over the age of 40 doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary; we don’t have the numbers handy (readers?), but this does not seem unusual for this period given infant mortality and life expectancy for people generally.
New Findings on Diet of Inhabitants of Ancient Jiroft
TEHRAN (CHN) — Studies carried out on animals’ bones discovered in the historical area of Jiroft have shown that five thousand years ago, its inhabitants used farm animals as their source of protein.
Architectural remains and indications of a great civilization contemporary to that of the Mesopotamia are so far discovered in the historical site of Jiroft, which is called the Lost Paradise by archeologists.
According to professor Marjan Mashkor of Sorbone University, France, who specializes in studying bones, during excavations in the archeological site of Jiroft, remains of bones from animals such as cows, sheep, zebra, rabbit, gazelle, boar and some birds have been discovered.
The abundance of the bones of cows, sheep and goat in the area shows that the citizens of Jiroft used their meat as the main source of protein.
Historians uncover Roman tileworks
HISTORIANS in Reigate have been entrenched in a major dig in the town after uncovering a Roman tileworks.
The discovery has been made in Doods Way and is thought to date from the second or third centuries.
Exhibit watch Ancient, Buried Roman Villas Resurrected
WASHINGTON (AP) — It was an idyllic life for the Roman rich and famous, who basked in the sun in villas overlooking the sea until a volcanic eruption in A.D. 79 buried their homes in ash. Four of those grand villas are recalled, and partly resurrected, at a new Smithsonian exhibit.
“In Stabiano” opens Tuesday at the National Museum of Natural History, inviting visitors to peer into the daily life of the Roman wealthy.
Not as well known as nearby Pompeii, Stabiae was destroyed by the same mighty eruption of Vesuvius.