November 30, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:19 pm

Review of Discovery Channel’s Rameses program Pharaoh’s legacy lives on

In nearly seven decades of ruling ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh Rameses II — aka Rameses the Great — scattered dozens of temples, tombs and sons across the land of the Nile.

Archaeologists believe they have found the remains of four of those sons during the excavation of a tomb called KV5, the largest in Egypt’s famed pharaonic burial ground, the Valley of the Kings, outside Thebes.

Forensic reconstructions of the sons’ faces provided to USA TODAY show a strong family resemblance to the powerful pharaoh who ruled Egypt more than 3,200 years ago. Some scholars believe that the exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt described in the Bible took place during the reign of Rameses II.

Also, check out the “Gather the children” photo series. It would probably have been better had the forensic person doing the reconstruction done it “blind” so they wouldn’t know whose skull it was thought to belong to. That would take care of any confirmation bias that might be present.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:54 am

Archaeologists studying lifestyles of the Achaemenid era

The National Museum of Iran will temporarily loan a number of Achaemenid era clay inscriptions unearthed in Persepolis to the Parseh and Pasargadae Research Foundation for research, the director of the foundation announced on Saturday.

“Our archaeologists are trying to obtain information on the quality of life and social conditions of the people who lived in Persepolis. The inscriptions will be good sources for our research,” said Mohammad-Hassan Talebian.

More Viking stuff The Vikings: A Memorable Visit to America

Exploring the New World a thousand years ago, a Viking woman gave birth to what is likely the first European-American baby. The discovery of the house the family built upon their return to Iceland has scholars rethinking the Norse sagas

Roughly 1,000 years ago, the story goes, a Viking trader and adventurer named Thorfinn Karlsefni set off from the west coast of Greenland with three ships and a band of Norse to explore a new land that promised fabulous riches. Following the route that had been pioneered some seven years before by Leif Eriksson, Thorfinn sailed up Greenland’s coast, traversed the Davis Strait and turned south past Baffin Island to Newfoundland—and perhaps beyond. Snorri, the son of Thorfinn and his wife, Gudrid, is thought to be the first European baby born in North America.

About three years after starting out, Thorfinn—along with his family and surviving crew—abandoned the North American settlement. After sailing to Greenland and then Norway, Thorfinn and his family settled in Iceland, Thorfinn’s childhood home.

Just where the family ended up in Iceland has been a mystery that historians and archaeologists have long tried to clear up.

Intensive fishing was an ancient practice

Intensive fishing by humans may be more ancient than previously thought, suggests a new archaeological study, which shows that significant marine fishing may have started in the UK in the 9th century.

The diminishing levels of marine fish stocks as a result of over-fishing has caused great concern since the mid-20th century. The rapid increase in commercial fishing after World War II has had a devastating impact on the marine ecosystem in the North Sea, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and caused a number of marine fish species to become endangered.

But new analyses of remains at key archaeological sites in England suggest that the foundations of this recent problem were laid as far back as AD 1000.

Guess it was the next-to-Last Crusade. . . The never-ending search

Fascination with the Holy Grail has lasted for centuries, and now the Bletchley Park code-breakers have joined the hunt. But what is it that’s made the grail the definition of something humans are always searching for but never actually finding?

Could an obscure inscription on a 250-year-old monument in a Staffordshire garden point the way to the Holy Grail – the jewelled chalice reportedly used by Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper?

That is one theory entertained by Richard Kemp, the general manager of Lord Lichfield’s Shugborough estate in Staffs.

The code breakers at work:

Somewhat related story here.

Yes, that would be a good idea Bulldozing an ancient site: Turkish Cypriot developers say they’re willing to bring in the archaeologists

THE row over whether a Turkish Cypriot construction company should be allowed to build on the site of a Bronze-Age necropolis in the village of Kazafani outside Kyrenia resurfaced yesterday with the company at the centre of the debate calling on the north’s authorities to join them in excavating the site.

The offer coincided with a renewed debate over the site’s status within the Turkish Cypriot administration. In line with local law, the antiquities department has reissued its application for the site to be recognised as a grade one archaeological site. The application is currently waiting for ratification by the ‘economy and tourism ministry’, after which its status will be published in the official gazette.

The argument first erupted in June, when the north’s antiquities department called a halt to development of a 40-donum site, known as Vounos, into a complex of luxury housing for sale to predominantly British clients. The department had, unbeknownst to the company, declared Vounos a grade one archaeological site on May 27 this year, but not soon enough to prevent extensive bulldozing of the Bronze Age relic.

Ummmmmm. . . . .no Prehistoric Julia Roberts Found

Bulgarian archaeologists have found what they claim is Europe’s oldest skeleton, which they have named “Julia Roberts” because the woman was a “rare beauty” with a nearly flawless set of teeth.

The archaeologists reported their findings in the Sofia News Agency and Bulgaria’s Standart News newspaper.

If radiocarbon analysis, scheduled to take place in Germany, confirms the skeleton’s suspected age of 9,000 years old, the find will predate all other human remains discovered in the Balkans by several centuries. The female skeleton will represent the first agricultural civilisation in the region.

We’d prefer Prehistoric Anna Kournikova ourselves, but that’s just us.

Whoops. Greek museum roof collapses, reportedly damaging ancient artifacts

A section of the roof of the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion on the island of Crete collapsed, authorities said Tuesday, reportedly damaging artifacts more than 3,000 years old.

The collapse was discovered after the museum opened early Monday, the Culture Ministry said, adding that it had ordered an “emergency investigation” into the incident.

The ministry gave no details and museum officials were not available for comment. But the Athens daily To Vima said several ceramic vases dating from the early Minoan era – around 1,900 BC – had been smashed.

The vases reportedly damaged were discovered at a Minoan palace in the Cretan seaside town of Zakros. British archeologist David George Hogarth began the excavations in 1901, and they were followed by more systematic digs in the 1960s by Greek archeologist Nikolaos Platon.

That’s the whole thing.

More later. So much news, so little time. . . .

November 29, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:19 pm

Overkill update Ancient hunters off hook for bison

Big game hunters could be off the hook in the latest effort to explain the steep decline of bison populations thousands of years ago.

Proponents of the overkill theory blamed the first Americans — who crossed the corridor connecting what are now Alaska and Siberia — for hunting bison within a whisper of disappearance.

Those super-hunters are also considered responsible for pushing massive mammals, including woolly mammoths, short-faced bears and North American lions into extinction.

Here’s the summary from Science:

In an international collaboration of more than 15 museums, Shapiro et al. (p. 1561; see the news story by Pennisi) used mitochondrial DNA sequences from more than 350 late Pleistocene and Holocene bison bones to record evolutionary processes in real-time throughout the late Pleistocene. The genetic diversity of Beringian bison populations underwent a catastrophic decline immediately before the Last Glacial Maximum, well ahead of the arrival of humans in the New World. Old World steppe bison are all descended from a re-invasion from the New World around 90,000 to 120,000 years ago, and New World bison are descended from a small population of bison isolated to the south of glacial ice barriers.

The original paper is here for those with subscriber access, as is a more detailed summary article.

Hmmmmm. . . . . Unearthed: ancient burial pit shows how Bronze Age Scots prepared for afterlife

Archaeologists have hailed the discovery of an early Bronze Age cemetery as one of the most significant in Britain after new technology enabled them to pinpoint the date of graves.

The remains of more than 35 men, women and children who lived between 1900BC and 1600BC have been uncovered at a previously unknown settlement at Skilmafilly, north-west of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.

Among the cremated bones, which were buried in pottery urns, scientists found a wide range of artefacts which signify that the community had widespread trade links with other parts of Britain and probably shared a common belief in an afterlife.

We didn’t see what “new technology” was used to date these things. The only one mentioned was radiocarbon, but that’s not exactly “new”. Maybe it was a new technique relative to what other burials of this type (which they said hadn’t been found in 30 years) had been dated with.

Underwater archaeology update

Stone age relics found off coast

The site of a stone age settlement, preserved under layers of silt, has been discovered off the coast of the Isle of Wight.

Included in the find is a fire pit, presumed to be an oven, which was first used about 9,000 years ago.

The settlement, now thirty feet beneath the sea and 500 yards off the coast of Bouldnor, was found by divers.

The Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology hope to gather funds for a full investigation.

A small flint tool was also found embedded in a piece of wood near the oven.

More details of the finds will be given at a public lecture in Newport on Thursday.

That’s the whole thing.

Here they come again Viking map may rewrite US history

Danish experts will travel to the U.S. to study evidence that the Vikings landed in the New World five centuries before Columbus.

A controversial parchment said to be the oldest map of America could, if authentic, support the theory that the Vikings arrived first.

The map is said to date from 1434 and was found in 1957. Some people believe it is evidence that Vikings, who departed from Greenland around the year 1000, were the first to land in the Americas.

The document is of Vinland, the part of North America believed to be what is today the Canadian province of Newfoundland, and was supposedly discovered by the Viking Leif Eriksen, the son of Erik the Red.

We are agnostic on the authenticity of the map, though Vikings in North America around that time is not really in question.

Update on Genghis Khan tomb Has Genghis’ Tomb Been Found?

After four years’ work, a joint team of Japanese and Mongolian archaeologists announced on October 4 that they had found what they believe to be the true mausoleum of Genghis Khan (1162-1227).

The ruins, dated to between the 13th and 15th century, were found at Avraga, around 250 kilometers east of Ulan Bator, the capital of the People’s Republic of Mongolia. Team members said that they expect the discovery to provide clues to the whereabouts of the khan’s actual burial site, which they believe may be within 12 kilometers of the mausoleum.

Actually, nothing really new here.

Following news courtesy of the EEF.

A Belgian mission excavated a tomb sculptured in the rock with a skeleton (of a 50-60 year old woman) and funeral furniture inside. The tomb, which was found in Wadi Hosh, Aswan, dates to 4,000 BC.

Dr Hawass’s campaign against the illicit antiquities trade in Egypt:

Dr Zahi Hawass retells the story of Tutankhamun:

Three important mosaics at Alexandria’s Graeco-Roman Museum have been restored and put on display.

Some other news about this museum:

Al-Ahram has two brief items, about the tomb of “Ankh-Khonsu-Derat-Hor” (which here is assigned to dyn 26, while earlier press reports spoke of either dyn 27 or NK – take

your pick) and about Roman period items (that were thought to be mislaid in the Cairo Museum basement) being stolen.

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner] The Autobiography of Ahmose, son of Abana

– Hieroglyphic text: Urk. IV, 1-11


– Hieroglyphic text (drawing): LD III, 12 [d - b -c]


– English translation in: James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. II, Chicago, 1906, sections 1-16, 38-39, 78-82


– English translation: [Lichtheim II, 12-15]


John Lewis Burckhardt, Travels in Nubia (to which is prefixed a biographical memoir) (1819) [zipped; 418 kB]

For those who like old travelogues. Contents (in HTML): Memoir on the Life and Travels of John Lewis Burckhardt Journey along the Banks of the Nile, from Assouan to Mahass,

on the Frontiers of Dongola.

Description of a Journey from Upper Egypt through the Deserts of Nubia to Berber and Suakin, and from thence to Djidda in Arabia. Performed in the Year 1814.

[Eds. Burckhardt was an amazing character. Definitely worth looking into. We think there's also a volume on his travels through Egypt, as well as Arabia.]

Online dissertation: Glennda Susan Marsh-Letts, Ancient Egyptian linen: the role of natron and other salts in the preservation and conservation of archaeological textiles; a pilot study. Institution University of Western Sydney, 2002 [in several PDF files]

Online version of: Hany Farid, Samir Farid, Unfolding Sennedjem’s Tomb, in: KMT, vol. 12, no. 1, 2001 – 8 pp., pdf-file: 1.5 MB

“… the highly valued and often reproduced tomb decorations have had a profound influence on art and have contributed signficantly to our understanding of the Ancient Egyptian culture. This article describes how recent advances in computational and digital technology can add a new perspective to these marvels of antiquity.”


End of EEF news.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:20 am

Welcome back from the long (for all you US readers) holiday weekend. And look, no lame stories on The First Thanksgiving from an archaeological perspective. You should worship us just for that.

Few items to start. We’ll be catching up on all the news off and on, because there’s so much of it.

Enough with the LOTR references already Hobbit defended against research Gollum

Australian scientists have dismissed as ill-informed claims that a member of a tiny new species of prehistoric human, known as Hobbits, found on the Indonesian island of Flores, was a modern human with a brain deformity.

Peter Brown, of the University New England, who was a member of the team that made the discovery, said the suggestion had come from a researcher who had not seen the specimen nor the archaeological site.

He said Maciej Henneberg, a palaeopathologist at the University of Adelaide, was not an authority on ancient hominids. “And his claims have not been peer reviewed.”

Professor Henneberg told the journal Science that the Australian and Indonesian research team had “jumped the gun” in deciding the metre-high human that lived about 18,000 years ago was a member of a new species, Homo floresiensis.

He said the skull was similar to that of a 4000-year-old modern human found on Crete with a condition called secondary microcephaly, which causes a small brain.

We will stay on the side of the original scientists and accept for the moment that this is, in fact, a new species.

Plat ‘em and plant ‘em Renovation turns up old cemetery

Cameron County officials say they will try to relocate a downtown project’s utility lines after the planned site turned out to be a forgotten graveyard. Construction workers in September dug up bodies under a county-owned parking lot across from the 1912 courthouse the county is renovating. Archaeologists believe the workers found the city’s first platted cemetery, which they think dates to 1848 and has as many as 700 bodies. Debbie Head, spokeswoman for the Texas Historical Commission, said the state is willing to help find alternatives.

That’s the whole thing, it’s a small blurb on a page full of small blurbs.

We like to see this word in print Connecticut archaeologist an expert at rooting out historical hooey

The lost land of Atlantis has been discovered. Again.

In a press conference last week, a U.S. researcher named Robert Sarmast announced that his six-day expedition had detected evidence of man-made structures on the Mediterranean seabed off Cyprus. Not only had sonar scanners picked up the ghostly contours of walls and trenches on a rectangular landmass, he said, but these features matched the descriptions in the original account of Atlantis.

. . .

An archaeologist who has taught at Central Connecticut State University for more than 25 years, Feder rejects Sarmast’s claim and the countless others that have come before it with the same simple argument _ namely, that Atlantis’ only location was in the imagination of the man who first described it.

But that rationale hasn’t prevented Feder from using the myth for his own purposes.

Indian campground may be excavated

An ancient Indian campground in the path of a proposed highway likely will have to be excavated before the roadway can be built, a state archaeologist said.


“We may have a site that is intact and isn’t badly disturbed,” said Mark Denton, director of the state and federal review section of the Texas Historical Commission’s archaeology division.

Tests conducted during the 1990s found two layers of artifacts at the site, both within four feet from the surface.

Officials said the campground is on private property along the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, but would not be more specific.

Still waiting Santee tribe still waits for ancestor’s remains

Chief William Koon is still waiting to throw the first shovels of dirt atop his ancestor’s graves more than three years later.

The member of South Carolina’s Santee tribe is trying to navigate government’s red tape to get back human remains and other items unearthed from a mound in Clarendon County during the 1970s.

Koon has become discouraged at times, but giving his ancestors a proper burial is more important.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Koon said. “You do think about giving up and saying the heck with it, but you can’t do it.”

November 24, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:16 pm

“This would look much better in a chartreuse, don’t you think?”

“Who am I? Huh? Huh? Brad Pitt! Get it?”

“Be right back. I’m going to take Colin and Elliot waaaaay up there for a little, um, private conference.”

“Son, do you like movies about. . .doomed airliners?”

“I just can’t wait to be king!”

“See Angelina down there? Would one of you guys tell her the accent really sucks? I would, but she’d kick my ass.”

In order for Muad’dib to become a leader of the Fremen people, he must first pass the rite of manhood and ride the Worm – Shai-hulud.

“Who am I? Huh? Huh? This isn’t getting old, is it?”


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:12 am

Bronze Age Site Discovered at Gas Company Dig

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is the most comprehensively-dated Bronze Age site in Britain, it emerged today.

The 29 cremations pits and a number of artefacts were uncovered by chance during the installation of a gas pipeline in Aberdeenshire.

The pits include 10 pottery urns containing ashes of children and adults and two golden eagle talons.

The talons are of particular archaeological importance as they have never been excavated from this period before.

Ming Dynasty coffin uncovered

An ancient tomb uncovered by construction workers in Yangpu District last Friday contains the remains of someone who lived during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), local archaeologists announced yesterday.

Two archaeologists, with the help of several construction workers, yesterday opened one of two coffins found at the site, unearthing a body covered by four shrouds and about 13 belts.

“It is one of the best preserved bodies from the Ming Dynasty ever found in Yangpu District, particularly its skeleton,” said He Jiying, an archaeologist with the Shanghai Cultural Relics Management Commission who worked on the site.

She said she is certain the tomb was made during the Ming Dynasty because the coffins were covered by two large stone boards-a typical way of arranging tombs during that period.

Scientists still haven’t taken a good look at all the contents of the coffin, which is filled with water and mud. It will take two to three days to work out the detailed features of the tomb.

The tomb was found accidentally by workers in the Yangpu Dushi Industrial Park on Yinhang Road last Friday.

“I assumed the site was an ancient tomb because it was much harder than normal underground, which is mainly made of soft earth,” said Wang Jiding, a construction manager on the project.

That’s the whole thing. We figure there will be an inordinate number of discoveries coming out of China in the next few years as we A) Actually hear about them for a change, and B) They do gobs more construction.

Peking Man’s digs gets archaeological redo

The first phase of work to reinforce caves where the 500,000-year-old Peking Man was found has been completed, with six relic sites threatened by collapse successfully saved.

The project at the Zhoukoudian area, a World Heritage site 50 kilometres southwest from downtown Beijing, started in July after archaeologists reported 21 areas at the site inn danger of geological calamity.

The second work phase will be carried out next year,protecting a further group of seven ruin sites, according to the Zhoukoudian management.

Disturbing, but important Archaeologists needed in investigation of mass graves

Beyond the flashy advertisements aimed at luring additional recruits for the U.S. military is a stark, help-wanted notice posted on the Internet by the Justice Department and the Archaeological Institute of America:

The government is looking to hire up to seven archaeologists to assist in a widening investigation and excavation of mass graves and suspected grave sites in Iraq.

The new recruits would be part of a second deployment of investigators and forensic analysts who have been assembling a catalog of evidence expected to be used against Saddam Hussein in his upcoming trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

This is, unfortunately, one of those areas where archaeological expertise cna be very useful indeed. Since we are more or less trained to excavate, among other things, burials and doing so in a manner that preserves the context of the burials and associated objects, the connection to recently buried bodies is evident. Most of this is covered under forensic anthropology though, not archaeology generally, and most of the people doing it are physical anthropologists. See’s Forensic and Human Skeletal Archaeology page for lots of links to sites and online articles.

We’ll also put a special plug in for Fascinating site. Especially click on the “Stroll through our online cemetery” link and look at random tributes. There are numerous search functions as well to look for famous people in your area or to find where famous (and not so famous) people are buried as well. The site seems to be responding very slowly at the time of this writing though.

November 23, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:01 pm

Breaking news Ancient Ape Discovered—Last Ape-Human Ancestor?

In Spain scientists have discovered 13-million-year-old fossils of new species of ape. The species may have been the last common ancestor of humans and all great apes living today. (See pictures of the new ape species.)

The great apes—which later gave rise to humans and which now include orangutans, chimpanzees, and gorillas—are thought to have diverged from the lesser apes about 11 to 16 million years ago. Today’s lesser apes include the gibbons.

The new species was christened Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, after the village, Els Hostalets de Pierola, and region, Catalonia, where it was found. Like great apes and humans, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, had a stiff lower spine and other special adaptations for climbing trees.

You’d think they could come up with maybe a slightly friendlier-looking critter.

Original summary of the Science paper here. The actual paper is here. Both by subscription only.


We describe a partial skeleton with facial cranium of Pierolapithecus catalaunicus gen. et sp. nov., a new Middle Miocene (12.5 to 13 million years ago) ape from Barranc de Can Vila 1 (Barcelona, Spain). It is the first known individual of this age that combines well-preserved cranial, dental, and postcranial material. The thorax, lumbar region, and wrist provide evidence of modern ape–like orthograde body design, and the facial morphology includes the basic derived great ape features. The new skeleton reveals that early great apes retained primitive monkeylike characters associated with a derived body structure that permits upright postures of the trunk. Pierolapithecus, hence, does not fit the theoretical model that predicts that all characters shared by extant great apes were present in their last common ancestor, but instead points to a large amount of homoplasy in ape evolution. The overall pattern suggests that Pierolapithecus is probably close to the last common ancestor of great apes and humans.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:55 am

ArchaeoBlog film corner That’s right, film corner. Alexander to be exact. We’ll not bore you with an actual review of the film, since we haven’t seen it and probably won’t until it comes out on DVD or HBO and maybe not even then. But we thought we would deal with the issue of Alex’s sexuality head-on in a decisive and scholarly manner. . . . .and simply link to a quote we found uproariously funny: Richard Roeper:

A group of Greek lawyers has threatened to file a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Oliver Stone “for suggesting Alexander the Great was bisexual,” as the National Post put it.

Some two dozens Athens-based attorneys are demanding that Warner Bros. issue a disclaimer saying “Alexander” is fiction.

Having seen the film, I can categorically state that Stone does not in any way suggest Alexander was bisexual.

He suggests Alexander was absolutely, fabulously gay.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Now, off to investigate the historical and cultural accuracy of this “nude and revved-up Rosario Dawson”. . . . .

Genuinely interesting Canadian dig unearths Sinai desert fortress

A Canadian archeological expedition in Egypt has uncovered the remains of a 4,200-year-old fortress near the Red Sea coast in the Sinai Desert, a discovery that sheds some light on life at the time when the Great Pyramids were built.

Details of the discovery will be published soon in the Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, and archeologists say it offers important clues on what was going on during the last years of the period in Egypt called the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 BC).

The team first learned of the site two years ago — and returned this past summer — while mapping archeological sites in the Sinai Desert. Led by a brief report of ruins in the area of Ras Budran and information from local Bedouin, they went south along the Red Sea coast to the remains of the fort.

Especially so because it’s Old Kingdom.

Easter island, fools’ paradise

The great mystery of Easter Island that struck all early visitors was not just that these colossal statues stood in such a tiny and remote corner of the world, but that the stones seemed to have been put there without tackle, as if set down from the sky. The Spaniard who attributed the marvels of Inca architecture to the Devil was merely unable to recognize another culture’s achievements. But even scientific observers could not, at first, account for

the megaliths of Easter Island. The figures stood there mockingly, defying common sense.

We now know the answer to the riddle, and it is a chilling one.

The article suggests (okay, it says so outright) that the inhabitants denuded the island and brought about their own destruction. We seem to recall reading about some recent work indicating it may have been more of a climatic disaster perhaps exacerbated by human activities. We’ll do more research.

The ancients: now available in colour

For hundreds of years, Caligula’s handsome, marble face has stared out at a fascinated world. Now situated at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen, the celebrated first-century bust of this cruel young Roman emperor is made repellent, yet intriguing, not so much by his petulantly downturned mouth as by the blank, staring eyes chiselled from marble by an unknown sculptor.

It comes as a shock to be confronted with an exact replica with unthreatening hazel eyes. Add garish pink skin and glossy brown hair, and the new painted version of Caligula’s bust looks as if it might once have been used to model hats in thewindow of a men’s outfitters. Yet, according to the curators of a new exhibition at the Vatican museums, this is a lot closer to what the sculptor intended we see than the white marble to which we are accustomed.

CSI: Rodel, on south Harris

Moors murders scientist traces buried medieval village

A LOST medieval village has been discovered by a scientist who led a search for Moors Murder victims.

Professor John Hunter and a team of 15 have discovered what is believed to be a buried medieval crofting settlement while carrying out general field survey work in and around a harbour village in the Western Isles.

Artefacts buried under the clachan of Rodel, on south Harris, may provide evidence that the community was once an international trading centre, with vessels arriving from Scandinavia and also the Mediterranean.

It is not yet known what remains could be found if further investigation is carried out.

This seems to be making headlines Evidence of 16th-Century Spanish Fort in Appalachia?

A long-standing theory says that more than four centuries ago Spanish explorers ventured into the foothills of what is now North Carolina. They stayed long enough to possibly change the course of European settlement in the New World, then vanished into the fog of time, the story says.

Until recently historians regarded a 16th-century Spanish presence this far north in North America as more theory than fact. But archaeologists working in a farm field near the tiny community of Worry Crossroads might change that perception.

Combining detective work with old-fashioned digging, the team may have unearthed ruins and artifcats—evidence that Spanish soldiers did, indeed, roam the Appalachian Mountains. The researchers think they’ve found the site of Fort San Juan, where Spanish explorers reportedly stayed from 1566 to 1568. The outpost was near the American Indian village of Joara, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of present-day Asheville.

Actually interesting from a number of perspectives, not the least of which is the Spanish’s role in depopulation due to disease. Read the whole thing.

Divers find ancient homes

International divers have discovered several cave sites along the Cape Peninsula coast where ancient lost civilisations might have lived.

The team embarked on their search earlier this month after Dr Bruno Werz, a marine archaeologist, found a prehistoric axe, that could be 1.5m years old, in Table Bay nine years ago.

Werz said in Simon’s Town on Friday there were indications that more remnants of prehistoric civilisations could be found under the water.

The text quoted is somewhat misleading in that it calls these the remains of “civilizations”. In fact, they appear to be fairly typical cave sites of hunter-gatherers from 45k years ago.

And finally. . . State plans to beef up security at Range Creek

The state of Utah is beefing up security at the remote eastern Utah canyon of Range Creek to protect an estimated 2,000 to 5,000 archaeological sites kept secret until last summer.

Archaeologists estimate as many as 250 households occupied the canyon over a span of centuries ending about 750 years ago. They left half-buried stone-and-mortar houses, cob houses and granary caches, and painted colorful trapezoidal figures with spiky hair styles on canyon walls.

Researchers had quietly conducted surveys at the site for three years, but the significance of the finds was hidden until news reports surfaced in June about the transfer of the land from a rancher to the state.

Because the publicity causes a greater risk of looting, the state has allocated $152,000 to secure the site through the end of the fiscal year 2005.

A combination of rangers and conservation officers will provide security for the site, and Division of Wildlife Resources employees will include it in some of their aerial flyovers.

That’s the whole thing. This is the area where a rancher had kept quiet about numerous sites that appear to be in fairly pristine condition, thus keeping numerous graduate students in dissertation topics for probably the next hundred years.

November 22, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:41 pm

Heh. Amateur archaeologists curse pharoahs’ guardian

Dr Zahi Hawass is one of the most powerful men in history – at least of archaeology – and he is angry.

The 57-year-old is secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities but, as any Egyptologist will tell you, this is the least of his titles.

The self-styled guardian of the pharaohs, commonly referred to as the “Big Zee”, is the minder of 4000 years of history, 500 kings, scores of legends, thousands of tourists and hundreds of competing archaeologists.

Yet the theatrical, outspoken and Stetson-wearing Egyptian with a string of academic credits to his name and the power to dictate what the world is told about Ancient Egypt is being challenged relentlessly by two plucky French amateurs.

This is an update on the story we’ve linked to over the past few months regarding two amateur archaeologists who wish to drill into the Great Pyramid.

We would, however, caution against using the moniker “Big Zee” in his actual presence.

And the winner is. . . . Turn-up for the books earns archaeology award

A Northern Ireland property development company has won an archaeological award for its work on a Bronze Age settlement.

The Coleraine-based Kennedy Group was highly commended in the developer-funded archaeology category of the British Archaeological Awards, which have been running since 1876.

The company shared the prize with Drogheda firm Archaeological Consultancy Services.

During preparation work for a housing development at Corrstown near Portrush Kennedy’s uncovered 70 Bronze Age roundhouses.

Found! Buddhist antiquities unearthed near Taxila

The Pakistan government’s archaeology department has discovered eight antiquities dating back to the first century AD, including rare sculptures of ‘future’ Buddha, Hindu God Indra and his bodyguard from an ancient archaeological site very near to Taxila, considered as a seat of learning during the Buddhist period.

According to the Daily Times, experts from the archaeology department’s preservation and restoration team unearthed the treasures while carrying on preservation work at the world renowned Dharmarajika Stupa and monastery dating back to 3rd century BC to 5th Century AD, regarded as the epitome of the Gandhara civilization.

Archaeologists have confirmed that one of the antiquities excavated depicts in exact detail the ‘the reappearance of Buddha’ as told in Buddhist mythology.

Apart from the other discovery of Corinthian capital, which was used in Magna, Garcia and Sicily from the early third century, the statue of Indra, regarded as the rain god in Vedic mythology and another depicting the bodyguard of Indra has also interested experts to a great extent.

Archaeologists have said that the artefacts made of grape black schist and green phylite belong to the early stage of the first or second century AD.

That’s the whole thing.

Archaeologist digging in his native habitat, part XXLIV Archaeologists dig into tavern’s past

The circular concrete patch looked like simply that – a patch of concrete on an old dirt driveway.

But as he bent down to look, Dave Hazzard, an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, saw something else on the lane surrounding historic Boykin’s Tavern in Isle of Wight County.

Because the concrete had caved in from time to time, it probably meant an old well was underneath.

“Yes. Yes,” Hazzard said, waving his arms and all but dancing a jig. “It’s a well, a well. The right distance from the house. The right shape.”

DOTD archaeologist digs history before it gets paved over by progress

Many people think that when the state or federal governments decide they want to build a new road or construct a bridge, it’s simply a matter of budgets and bulldozers. But before even a spoonful of dirt is moved, developers have to answer to a woman who sits in a cubicle on the second floor of the Department of Transportation and Development’s building downtown.

That’s because, as the DOTD’s chief archaeologist, Elizabeth Davoli is responsible for making sure that construction projects promising a better tomorrow don’t do so at the expense of yesterday’s buried treasures. Simply put, before the heavy equipment is rolled in, Davoli and her team engage in a far more hands-on attempt at historic preservation — usually on their knees, sifting through dirt, bucket by bucket, looking for anything that’s worth saving.

“If it’s at all possible we try to avoid (construction) on certain sites,” said Davoli. “But if we cannot, then we are interested in data recovery.”

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Non-archaeology blog of note We’d just like to pass along to our faithful readers a blog we peruse occasionally called The author is a semi-personal friend and she presents a fascinating series of both personal vignettes and insightful commentary on important medical issues. And we like the fact that she has many pictures of kittens.

Plus, you know, she has a link to ArchaeoBlog so we are obligated to return the favor.

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