October 29, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:06 am

Only a couple of items today as the staff are, um, off to do some very important archaeological research. Yes, vey important.

Where’s that 3-iron. . . . .

Yet another story on the Indonesian hobbits Indonesia’s Lost World: Shaking Up the Family Tree

Key quote from this article:

The archaeological evidence strongly suggests that Homo floresiensis made sophisticated stone tools, including choppers, cutting blades, scrapers, and even spear points, some of which appear to have been hafted onto lengths of wood. These tools are very similar to those made by ordinary Stone Age humans (especially in Europe and North America), and yet the Flores hominid had a brain capacity similar–in terms of ratio to body size–to that of early humans like the Australopithecines and Homo habilis, who made only very rudimentary stone tools. The only other explanation for the presence of such sophisticated stone tools, which were found together with the skeletal material, is that they were produced by Stone Age Homo sapiens–but the earliest of the Flores tools date from 90,000 years ago and Homo sapiens is not currently thought to have arrived in Southeast Asia until 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

New tell-all book! Roman remains ‘hidden’ for another five years – but new book reveals all

ROMAN artefacts unearthed in a dig in front of Carlisle Castle are unlikely to go on display in the city before 2009.

But a book detailing finds made during the three-year excavation has gone on sale at the Tullie House Museum.

That is where a permanent exhibition of clothes, coins and other items discovered will eventually be housed.

October 28, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:59 pm

Several links from Nature on the Hobbit skeleton. Unknown how many of these are accessible without subscription, though the papers definitely are not.

Little lady of Flores forces rethink of human evolution

The find has excited researchers with its implications – if unexpected branches of humanity are still being found today, and lived so recently, then who knows what else might be out there? The species’ diminutive stature indicates that humans are subject to the same evolutionary forces that made other mammals shrink to dwarf size when in genetic isolation and under ecological pressure, such as on an island with limited resources.

Flores, God and Cryptozoology

The discovery that Homo floresiensis survived until so very recently, in geological terms, makes it more likely that stories of other mythical, human-like creatures such as yetis are founded on grains of truth.

In the light of the Flores skeleton, a recent initiative4 to scour central Sumatra for ‘orang pendek’ can be viewed in a more serious light. This small, hairy, manlike creature has hitherto been known only from Malay folklore, a debatable strand of hair and a footprint. Now, cryptozoology, the study of such fabulous creatures, can come in from the cold.

The Flores find

For the archaeologists who unearthed and studied the Flores skeleton, the discovery is a potentially career-defining event. So how did they greet the find, and has it changed their ideas about human evolution? News@nature.com asked Peter Brown, who led the analysis, and Mike Morwood, who directed the dig, for their reflections.

A stranger from Flores

The conventional view of early human evolution is that the species Homo erectus was our first relative to spread out of Africa, some 2 million years ago. The spread that our cousin achieved is indicated by a 1.8-million-year-old, primitive form of H. erectus found at Dmanisi in Georgia, and by finds at slightly younger sites in China and the Indonesian island of Java. It was not thought that H. erectus travelled any farther towards Australia than this, because although early humans could have walked to Java from Southeast Asia at times of low sea level, the islands east of Java, always separated from it by deep water, seemed beyond their reach.

Actual papers here and here.

From the first one, the summary section describing the overall morphology and its apparent relationship to other hominins: When considered as a whole, the cranial and postcranial skeleton of LB1 combines a mosaic of primitive, unique and derived features not recorded for any other hominin. Although LB1 has the small endocranial volume and stature evident in early australopithecines, it does not have the great postcanine tooth size, deep and prognathic facial skeleton, and masticatory adaptations common to members of this genus2, 47. Instead, the facial and dental proportions, postcranial anatomy consistent with human-like obligate bipedalism48, and a masticatory apparatus most similar in relative size and function to modern humans48 all support assignment to the genus Homo—as does the inferred phylogenetic history, which includes endemic dwarfing of H. erectus. For these reasons, we argue that LB1 is best placed in this genus and have named it accordingly.

So it essentially presents a mixture of traits from the earlier australopithecines with craniofacial features more like later Homo, but with a brain volume at the lowest end of the earliest australopithecine range.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:11 am

Archaeologist hopes 3,000-year-old wood is from ancient ship

An archaeologist’s dog may have discovered the first ship ever found from the period of King David and his son, Solomon, who ruled the holy land 3, 000 ago.

The remains, which have been carbon-dated to the ninth century B.C., include a huge stone anchor believed to be the largest ever unearthed. The wreckage is lying under a few inches of sand off the Mediterranean coast in shallow waters, and has yet to be examined extensively.

If the remains are indeed 3,000 years old, it would be the first archaeological artifact ever found from the era of the first kings of Israel, with the possible exception of several huge stones at the base of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The discovery was made by a dog, according to marine archaeologist Kurt Raveh.

Scientists dig up family skeletons

It has been a mystery for more than a century – is a skull in an Austrian basement really that of arguably the greatest composer of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?

Over the weekend a group of archaeologists began to answer the question by digging up the remains of Mozart’s close relatives.

In a controversial operation, the scientists exhumed several skeletons from Mozart’s family vault in Salzburg, where the composer spent most of his life.

On Monday they appear to have discovered the remains of the composer’s 16-year-old niece Jeanette, whose bones could unlock the mystery of whether the skull, currently kept by Salzburg’s Mozarteum Foundation, really is Mozart’s.

Syrian archaeology report An abundant archeological excavations year in Syria

Syria is famous for its archeological sites that amount to 4,000. This number is increasing due to efforts by more than 120 archeological national and foreign teams working in Syria. Archeological excavations had unearthed important ruins that date back to old ages, a matter that confirms Syria’s rich historical, human and civilization heritage.

Among the most important findings is the Nabatyiah Cemetery that was excavated south of Sweida, south of the country and includes four tombs separated by an internal foyer on the middle of which there is a main tomb higher than the others. It is believed to be the main burial place of one of the rulers or princes in that period.

In Sweida also, national teams unearthed a Nabatyian cemetery in Salkhad Citadel that dates back to before the first century A.D.

More Chinese tombs About 4,000-year-old tombs unearthed in Fujian

Archaeologists in eastern Fujian Province have unearthed 31 tombs dating back about 4,000 years from the bottom of a reservoir in Fuqing.

The 31 prehistoric tombs are scattered in an area of 800 squaremeters at the bottom of the Dongzhang Reservoir, which has dried up due to continual droughts.

Archaeologists with the provincial archaeological research institute have excavated the area during the past two months, unearthing 123 funeral objects from the tombs. The relics range from pottery to stone tools to jade ware. Each of these tombs is about two meters long and 0.5 to 0.6 meters wide.

October 27, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:23 am

Breaking news Scientists uncover possible new species of human

In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.

One tiny specimen, an adult female measuring about 3 feet tall, is described as “the most extreme” figure to be included in the extended human family. Certainly, she is the shortest.

This hobbit-sized creature appears to have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores, a kind of tropical Lost World populated by giant lizards and miniature elephants.

Well.

On the one hand, dwarfism is a common occurrence on islands for several species. On the other hand, this just sounds fishy to us.

Update: More here.

Macchu Picchu, Part Deux? Ancient city emerges from the clouds

The Peruvian government has presented ambitious plans to turn the stone fortress of Kuelap, a remote pre-Inca site in northern Peru, into one of the country’s main tourism attractions.

Kuelap is located on a mountain top on the eastern ridge of the Andes, 3 000m above sea level and about 700km north of Lima.

The original inhabitants, the Sachapuyo or Chachapoyas, were known as the “people of the clouds” because their stone cities were built on a site where the cold Andean air meets the warm tropical air from the Amazon basin, resulting in a semi-permanent layer of mist and fog.

Cool amateur find I Found: 50,000 treasures unearthed by Britain’s amateur archaeologists

When Peter and Christine Johnson decided on a whim to shut their fitness shop early one day last year to try their luck at treasure-hunting, their metal detectors had hardly been used.

Armed with a plastic bag for any swag, they expected to come back ruddy-cheeked and empty-handed after their first trek out into the fields of Kent.

Twenty minutes later, they had uncovered a precious hoard of 360 coins dating back to the Iron Age – two of them of a kind never previously found in Britain. The extraordinary collection has since been classified as an official treasure. The British Museum is also keen to acquire it.

Just don’t make a profit at it.

Cool amateur find II Foil reveals Roman magic

The Norfolk gardener was quite irritated at finding bits of rubbish mixed with the expensive topsoil he had bought: he picked out what he took to be foil from a champagne bottle and unrolled it – to reveal a lost world of Roman magic.

Experts from the British Museum and Oxford University have been poring over the scrap of gold foil, no bigger than a postage stamp, which went on display for the first time yesterday, with other archaeological finds reported in the past year.

“It meant nothing to me at first, I wondered if it was a scrap of decoration from a garment or a piece of furniture,” said Adrian Marsden, the finds officer in Norwich whose desk it first landed on. “Then I suddenly saw the Greek letter A, and I knew what we must have.”

It is a lamella, a magical charm, one of five found in Britain, and of no more than a few dozen from anywhere in the Roman empire.

See, when we dig in the garden all we find is stuff the neighbor cat left for us.

And back in the US of A. . . Park dig yields picture of ancient camp

The lure of sleeping beneath the stars in Yellowstone apparently is nothing new.

Long before nylon tents and posh RVs, some of the park’s earliest visitors arrived in the early summer on foot and camped on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

While they were there, some 10,000 years ago, they made and repaired tools, hunted, prepared hides and may have rafted out to one or more of the lake’s several islands.

When they left the beach, they left behind evidence of their stay. But over time those tools, flakes of stone and blood residue disappeared in the heaps of soil — a buried story waiting to be told.

See? They find gold and magic foils; we find rocks and stones and sticks and bones.

October 26, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:44 pm

We’ll get right on that 7,000-year-old civilisation site needs attention

Mehrgarh necropolis is one of the archaeological sites discovered in Balochistan during the last five decades, where a city had been buried for centuries under tons of earth. It tells us about the oldest human settlements in the South Asian region.

The site, 140 kms southeast of the provincial capital, is located on the bank of the Bolan river near a settlement of Raisani tribe in the Bolan district. Archaeologists say it is one of the three oldest villages in the world, the other two being in Palestine and Iraq.

French experts, with the collaboration of Pakistani archaeologists, have conducted excavations at the site in various phases, revealing in the process the 7,000-year-old heritage of the Neolithic (new stone age) site. Among the relics discovered from Mehrgarh were skeletons buried along with necklaces of pearls and small items of earthenware.

Atlantis. . .found! And covered with a roof Work on roof for prehistoric site of Akrotiri begins again

Prime Minister (and Culture Minister) Costas Karamanlis had to intervene personally to end the funding shortfall that had bedeviled the makeover of the archaeological site of Akrotiri on Santorini (or Thera, to give the island its ancient name).

The Archaeological Society owed 4 million euros to the contracting company that had undertaken the replacement of the old roof with a new one, as well as a more general revamp of the major prehistoric site.

One of the largest pioneering works to take place at an archaeological site, work restarted this week when the money was provided to pay off the debt, following visits earlier this year by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia and General Secretary Christos Zachopoulos.

This is, of course, the actual place the Atlantic myth is based on. The eruption of Thera has also been (reasonably, in our view) postulated as the source of several of the plagues of Egypt from the Old Testament, though the dating of the various events is a little sketchy.

Experts Prepare Jiroft’s 5,000-Year Map

Archeologists and surveyors plan to draw up an archeological map of the Iranian southern city of Jiroft, home to a 5,000 year old civilization.

Nicknamed as “The Lost Paradise” by experts, historical sites of Jiroft are located by the bank of Halil River, which covers 8450 sq km and houses artifacts dating from the Neolithic to Islamic period.

“The historical settlement of Halil River has relics from 7,000 years ago and is considered one of the earliest urban centers around the world. That’s why we have decided to produce its archeological map,” said Nader Alidad Suleimani, an expert with Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) in Kerman. The historical site of Jiroft, located in Kerman, is one of the richest civilization sites of the world, encompassing invaluable remains and items from the third millennium B.C. and with more than 100 historical areas in just 400 kilometers of Halil Rood riverbank.

New cave paintings discovered

Another 26 cave paintings have been discovered in the Fingal Cave at Naeroey in Troendelag.

When the cave was discovered in 1961, 21 paintings were registered. The 47 paintings depict both people and animals.

-The cave paintings may be more than 3000 years old, archaeologist Melanie Wrigglesworth at the Science Museum says to NRK.

She believes the find may give us more knowledge of how human beings in the late Stone Age and in Older Bronze Age percieved the world around them.

The cave is both dark, wet and cold, and she believes that no one lived there, but that it was possibly used for some sort of religious practice, and that the paintings of animals and people were made in this connection.

That’s the whole thing.

Remote sensing update Geophysics, GPS Technology Play Important Roles In Excavation Of Ancient Roman Fort

For centuries, trowels and handpicks have been traditional tools of the trade for archeologists, but a University at Buffalo geophysicist who has been working at an archeological site in Jordan is proposing that some decidedly 21st-century technologies, like tablet PCs equipped with fancy navigational software, ought to be standard gear as well.

“Non-invasive geophysical techniques, which allow researchers to image what’s under the ground without digging, and real-time differential Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology, which provides resolution and accuracy to within a meter, can provide archeological teams with significant benefits,” said Gregory S. Baker, Ph.D., associate professor of geology in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences.

By helping archeological teams target with greater accuracy where an excavation will provide the greatest archeological “payoff,” the integration of both of these techniques on a commonly available — and portable — platform like the tablet PC, could save them time and money, he added.

We don’t know about centuries but for a long time anyway. This ought to assist in excavating less of any given site, since if you are able to see what the overall structure is like from the surface you can taylor your excavations to get just what you want instead of plowing up the whole thing just to find out where walls are.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:38 am

Letters a ‘time machine’ to daily business of Egypt

They look like scraps of paper covered with lines of ornate faded script and mounted between sheets of glass. But to Matt Malczycki, they’re a time machine offering glimpses into the commerce of medieval Egypt.

Malczycki, a Ph.D. student in history at the University of Utah, has been translating and analyzing the 777 documents and fragments of the Utah Papyri Collection, believed to be the largest collection of Arabic papyri in North America. And he has found that 1,000 years ago, Egyptian businessmen were sophisticated, polite and literate.

This seems like a great (if rather tedious) project. There are no doubt thousands of pages of papyrus sitting around in private (and public) collections that have yet to be translated. It also highlights the fact that the vast majority of surviving written records have to do with generally run-of-the-mill daily business transactions rather than flowery poetry or epic tales of kings and generals.

Truly mind-boggling Archaeologists discover witch burial in Crimea

An astonishing find will keep Russian archaeologists occupied for quite some time. Archaeological expedition from the Russian Ust-Alminsk region has made yet another sensational discovery.

In 2003, the same team of researchers unearthed an unlooted burial of a Sarmat girl in a lavish funeral gown; the burial also contained rings, earrings, necklaces and a variety of various golden medals, which had once been attached to clothes.

Artist’s conception of what the witch may have looked like:

Various Viking items Viking Surprises

It’s been the season for Vikings, with a replica of a warship originally crafted in Dublin setting sail in Denmark and some important discoveries in the British Isles.

Danish researchers at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde have spent four years replicating a 90-foot-long ocean-going warship based on the museum’s Skuldelev 2 shipwreck.

. . .

Archaeologists at Ireland’s National Museum have announced the “significant” and “exciting” discovery of a ninth-century Viking burial north of Dublin.

Biblical archaeology update The cave of Lot’s seduction and the monastery it inspired

The ruins were first discovered during an archaeological survey at the south-east end of the Dead Sea in 1986, near a spring named Ain Abata. After further investigations it was evident that the site – near today’s Ghor al-Safi, the biblical city of Zoara – was none other that the Sanctuary of Agios (“Saint”) Lot. Biblical scholars and archaeologists have sought the site for decades.

Within a year of the discovery and identification of Deir Ain Abata (“Monastery of the Abbot’s Spring”) an international team of archaeologists was assembled to excavate and study the site. After more than 10 years of excavations and research, the final report is about to be published.

Story on Iraq not involving looting Field Museum ‘reuniting’ scattered collections from ancient Iraq site

With the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the museum recently began to study, catalog and reconcile the scattered but priceless collections of materials from the famous 5,000-year-old archaeological site of Kish, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Kish is one of the world’s oldest cities and site of the earliest evidence of wheeled transport.

About time. Again, there are literally millions of items sitting in museum basements around the world that no one is seeing or studying. This is a good start at getting some of this material out to the public and the research community.

That’s it for now. There’s more, but we have pressing research concerns.

October 25, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:22 pm

The continuing preservation saga Mexico Struggles to Preserve Ancient Ruins

The majestic pyramids and temples of the ancient Zapotec kingdom of Monte Alban sit spectacularly atop a hill in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca.

More than 1,000 years ago, Monte Alban was the bustling capital of a pre-Colombian realm, one of Mexico’s oldest civilizations, and an early exponent of writing. It is one of Mexico’s top archeological attractions, visited by people from the world over.

But, like many such sites in Mexico, it is underfunded for investigation, embroiled in land conflicts and being spoiled by the sheer number of visitors.

There’s only two sentences there comparing Mexico with Peru, which is, unfortunately, what attracted our attention to this story in the first place. But still, Monta Alban is another one of those places most people don’t know about, so look it up if you have some time to kill. Start here.

Indian Mounds Mystify Excavators

A thousand years ago along the banks of the Mississippi River, in what is currently southeast Illinois, there was a city that now mystifies both archeologists and anthropologists.

At its zenith, around A.D. 1050, the city that is now called Cahokia was among the largest metropolitan centers in the world. About 15,000 people lived in the city, with another 15,000 to 20,000 residing in its surrounding “suburbs” and outlying farmlands. It was the region’s capital city, a place of art, grand religious rituals and science.

But by 1300, the city had become a ghost town, its carefully built structures abandoned and its population dispersed.

Actually quite a good article.

From mysterious mounds to mysterious ceramics Mysterious pottery shows true face of first Pacific settlers

Staring out from an ancient piece of pottery, the mysterious face of a bearded man has given scientists a unique glimpse of what the first settlers of Fiji may have looked like.

Researchers say the “extraordinary discovery” is a vital clue in mapping out how the South Pacific came to be inhabited some 3,000 years ago, suggesting the first direct link to islands some thousands of kilometres away.

Thought to be the work of the Lapita people – a long-lost race which originated near modern-day Taiwan then migrated to Polynesia – the fragment is also at least 200 years older than any other piece found in Fiji.

Way cool archaeological moment Thousands of tourists gather at Abu Simbel to watch sun greets face of Ramsis II

Thousands of tourists gathered at Abu Simbel Temple early Friday morning to watch the sun rays while falling perpendicularly on the face of King Ramsis II’s statue inside the sanctuary hall to greet him on his birthday.

The fascinating scene was cheered by the crowd when the sun rays illuminated the face of the King for 20 minutes.

The statue of King Ramsis who was one of the most important pharaohs of Ancient Egypt is uniquely placed inside the temple so that the sun rays perpendicularly fall on his face twice a year, on his birthday and his coronation day.

That’s the whole thing. Kind of Stonegengey.

Tehran ==> Finland ==> Boliva? Finnish find sheds new light on prehistoric Andean culture

Ceramic artifacts found by Finnish archeologists during a dig in Bolivia have shed new light on the prehistoric Tiwanaku people, of whom little is known, Helsinki University officials said.

“The discovery demonstrates that the Tiwanakus made the highest quality ceramics in the Andean region, with very naturalistic portraits, and thanks to this we now know what they looked like,” Martti Paerssinen, a professor from Helsinki University who led the excavations, told AFP.

The Tiwanaku people settled on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca in the Andean mountains around 400 BC. They built their administrative centre, the city of Tiwanaku, around 300-500 AD, and their influence in the region continued to grow for several centuries.

Short blurb on more caucasian Chinese mummies China unearths ancient Caucasian tombs

Chinese archaeologists have started unearthing hundreds of tombs in an arid north-western region once home to a mysterious civilization that most likely was Caucasian, state media said Sunday.

The researchers have begun work at Xiaohe, near the Lop Nur desert in Xinjiang region, where an estimated 1000 tombs await excavation, according to Xinhua news agency.

Their findings could help shed light on one of the greatest current archaeological riddles and answer the question of how this isolated culture ended up thousands of kilometres from the nearest Caucasian community.

The tombs, thought by some to be 4000 years old, were first discovered in 1934 by a Swedish explorer, but virtually no work was done on them over the next more than six decades.

In 2003, a Chinese team started digging in the area, finding 33 tombs and nearly 1000 relics, but had to stop because of a severe storm, Xinhua said.

And finally, hot chicks!

We viewed a previously unknown documentary by the National Geographic Channel this weekend called “The Diva Mummy”. It was about several exceptionally well-preserved mummies found in China, one from the 1970s and others more recently. They truly are fantastic. We can’t find the NG story on it, but here is a (pretty good) blurb on it from China Daily:

The body of “Lady Dai,” a noble woman from the Western Han Dynasty which ruled 2,100 years ago, is housed in the state-of-the -art Hunan Museum in Changsha, Central China’s Hunan Province.

Flocks of visitors arrive every day to view the wonder. Just how did the ancient morticians embalm her – what materials did they use?

The body is so well preserved, it can be autopsied by pathologists and shows similar results from a cadaver of a recently deceased human being.

Also of particular interest was that the autopsy revealed she had advanced coronary artery disease, and probably died of myocardial infarction brought on by a dislodged gallstone. They were cagey about how they were preserved so well, but it appears all of these mummies were found covered in some ‘mysterious’ liquid. We speculate that it is probably something similar to the tannic acid that preserves bog mummies in northern Europe to similar degrees.

Also, we found the Mummy News site while researching this story. This site is an absolute hoot and has all sorts of neat stuff. It gives instructions on how to make a chicken mummy (actually four different ways!) and Making A Barbie® or Ken® Mummy.

You can also shop for mummy-related costumes just in time for Halloween! And frankly, given the usual big screen treatment mummies usually get, we wholeheartedly endorse at least one of their available costumes:


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:21 am

Ummmmm. . . . no. Luther’s lavatory thrills experts

Archaeologists in Germany say they may have found a lavatory where Martin Luther launched the Reformation of the Christian church in the 16th Century.

The stone room is in a newly-unearthed annex to Luther’s house in Wittenberg.

Luther is quoted as saying he was “in cloaca”, or in the sewer, when he was inspired to argue that salvation is granted because of faith, not deeds.

The scholar suffered from constipation and spent many hours in contemplation on the toilet seat.

1) This is what the acronym ‘TMI’ was invented for.

2) There are far too many far too obvious jokes to make, so we shan’t.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:00 am

Breaking news Iceman’s discoverer dead in Alps

Helmut Simon, the German who discovered an intact Bronze Age mummy in an Alps glacier, has been found dead in the Austrian Alps.

A hunter found his remains in a stream just as rescuers were planning to suspend their search eight days after he went missing while on a hike.

Well, that’s sad. Kudos to Mr. Simon on his discovery and our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:53 am

Rescue archaeology I Archaeologist faces challenges in Fourth Ward

The future of the Fourth Ward site where Houston Independent School District wants to build a two-school campus remains on hold while Fred McGhee determines what to do about the site’s history.

“There has not been any really meaningful archaeology conducted in the area before,” said McGhee, an African-American archaeologist and historical anthropologist. “My goal is to try to do that.”

On a recent autumn morning, McGhee leaned on a fence surrounding the troubled piece of land in the historic neighborhood almost in the shadow of Houston’s downtown skyline. A rooster crowing in a nearby backyard sounded like a voice from the past.

Rescue archaeology II Mining drives need for archaeologists

Two men are crouched over, stabbing orange and blue flags among the hillside sagebrush while two others scan the hilltop.

“Found a scrape,” one yells, referring to a tiny rock tool that likely was used to scrape animal hides clean hundreds of years ago – not significant enough to place in the National Museum of American History, but one of the big finds of the day.

This hillside near Gillette is littered with rusted cans, scrap wood and bits of porcelain left over from a homestead that must have been here a century ago. Each remnant is examined, recorded and left where it was found. After these pages of history are filed in government books, this hillside and all its homestead relics can be dozed over to make way for a drilling rig or coal shovel.

. . .

Archaeologists like Wilson are in high demand all over Wyoming, a demand driven by the burgeoning natural gas industry, most of which is centered on federally owned minerals.

That would no doubt be scraper.

What this is all leading to is a comprehensive database of known sites, from either archaeological work or historical records. Work has begun on a similar system in Egypt. It’s all part of a push to better manage archaeological remains as a resource.

Aerial Archaeology in Jordan

Aerial photography grew at a rapid pace in tandem with the development of the aeroplane, and in the Middle East there were significant contributions from a number of countries. In the 1914-18 war the Germans created a Denkmalschutzcommado – a small unit of photographers and archaeologists whose job it was to record and protect archaeological sites from damage by military activities.

In the 1930s, the French Jesuit priest, Père Antoine Poidebard, astonished and delighted the academic world with the publication of his La trace de Rome dans le désert de Syrie (Paris, 1934). In the volume of plates, the reader could leaf through page after page of stunning views of lonely Roman forts, roads and frontier towns, all taken from early biplanes. At a stroke, Poidebard had mapped the frontier of Roman Syria – or at least a palimpsest of successive frontiers. In 1945 he published the results of his wider look at Syria from the air (Le Limes de Chalcis, with R. Mouterde) and in the meantime he had stimulated the interest of the great British orientalist and explorer, Sir Aurel Stein, to do his own survey of Iraq and Transjordan in 1938-39 with the aid of the RAF (finally published in 1985 as Sir Aurel Stein’s Limes Report, eds S. Gregory and D. Kennedy). But then aerial archaeology across the entire region grounded to a halt after 1945.

Really, they’re just as fascinating as gold death masks. . . New light on the cart ruts as a scientific study is launched

Some new light will be shed on the mysterious cart ruts found all over Malta as a scientific research will be carried out to try and establish why, when and how where these enigmatic routes cut into rocks were used.

Heritage Malta will be the Project Leader in the Culture 2000 project entitled “The significance of cart-ruts in ancient landscapes”. This is the first time that Malta is a project leader in such a project. During the launch of the project it was announced that there are two international partners involved: Faculty of Environmental Sciences University of Urbino Italy, and APROTECO — association for economic development of Valley of Lecrin, Granada Spain. Local partners include: National Museum of Archaeology, Restoration Unit, MEPA and the University of Malta.

More here.

Black Sea archaeology update Ocean archaeologists hunt Noah’s flood under Black Sea

Four years ago, scientists thought they had found the perfect place to settle the Noah flood debate: A farmer’s house on a bluff overlooking the Black Sea built about 7,500 years ago — just before tidal waves inundated the homestead, submerged miles of coastline and turned the freshwater lake into a salty sea.

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Some believed the rectangular site of stones and wood could help solve the age-old question of whether the Black Sea’s flooding was the event recounted in the biblical story of Noah.

That story told of a calamitous flood occurring over 40 days and nights. Scientists had largely dismissed it, believing the Black Sea filled up gradually with gently rising waters. That wisdom was rocked when two scholars claimed several years ago that the Black Sea’s flooding was more recent — and so rapid and widespread that it forced people to move as far away as mainland Europe.

Probably posted the essence of this story earlier, but here it is anyway.

Hebrew University Archaeologists Reveal Additional Sections Of Ancient Synagogue In Albania

Excavations carried out this fall at an ancient synagogue in Albania have uncovered additional sections of the impressive structure. The excavations, now in their second season, are being conducted under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Albanian Academy of Sciences.

The synagogue, which dates from the 5th or 6th century C.E., is located in the city of Saranda, a coastal city in Albania, opposite the Greek island of Corfu. The synagogue underwent various periods of use, including its conversion into a church at its last stage, prior to being abandoned.

Initial excavations at the site were conducted some 20 years ago when Albania was under tight Communist rule. At that time that the building was identified as a church.

Mostly it’s just avoiding diarrhea ‘Indiana Jones’-style archaeology goes interactive; riddles all around

If you have ever seen any of the Indiana Jones movies, you surely know that archaeology is not only dangerous, but also exciting, enthralling, and generally exhilarating.

That’s not quite the case with the practice of real archaeology, but at 5W!ts Boston’s new “Tomb” attraction, anyone can be Indy for a day, or at least for 40 minutes.

We jest, but this looks to be really fun.

Rescue archaeology III Archaeologist keeps eye on past, future

For about 4,000 years, bones and other remains from an ancient Indian tribe have rested under the dirt on a peaceful hill in what is now called Hermitage.

With development’s bulldozers at the gate of this northeast Davidson County plot, Dan Allen’s job is to clear the way, while trying to honor the dignity of the departed souls and learn about the way they lived.

Allen is a commercial archaeologist who estimates that he has removed 1,000 graves in 12 years of work. They’ve included old graves of fallen Civil War soldiers and Native Americans, like the 80 to 100 graves that rest on this 1-acre site being developed with townhomes near the Hermitage Golf Course. His is a necessary vocation in a culture constantly moving dirt for the next shopping center or cul-de-sac.

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