December 30, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:19 am

Sad confirmation Obituaries: Robson Bonnichsen

Robson Bonnichsen of College Station, Texas, died of natural causes Saturday in Bend. He was 64.

He was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, to Everett and Helen Williams Bonnichsen.

He married Peggy Hays in August 2003 in Aloha.

He had over 44 years of archeological field experience. He was a professor of anthropology at Oregon State University and was the director of the Center for Study of the First Americans at both Oregon State University and Texas A & M University from 1991 to 2002.

Survivors include his wife, Peggy Hays of College Station, Texas; sons, Sven of Portland, Shield of Tucson, Ariz., and Max of California; brothers, Bill of Moscow, Idaho, and Joe of Albany; sister, Janet Towle of Tigard; and one grandchild.

A service will be Thursday, Jan. 6, at the Tigard Christian Church, 13405 S.W. Hall Blvd., in Tigard.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Center for Study of the First Americans, Department of Anthropology, Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas, 77843-4352.

That’s the whole thing. No doubt more will be written on his life and work and we’ll post those as well when they come across the wires.

Thieves! Buddha head stolen from Indian Museum

Antique thieves have struck again, this time in the heart of Kolkata. A rare, sandstone head of Buddha, brought to the Indian Museum from Sarnath, was stolen from the museum’s Archaeology Long Gallery on the ground floor on Wednesday afternoon.

The fifth century artefact, about 24 cm in height, is considered an artistic masterpiece of the Gupta period.

It was apparently a neat, clean and easy job — the thief or thieves (police don’t know yet whether it was one person or more) just walked in, lifted the the glass case covering the artefact and walked off with it.

Well. At least they noticed it right away.

Discovery weaves a picture of life for villagers

EXCAVATIONS at a village have unearthed the graves of weavers from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, giving researchers an insight into the lifestyles of the workers at the time.

Derek Alexander, archaeologist with the National Trust for Scotland, said two digs had taken place at different locations in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire.

“There was an excavation at the Weaver’s Cottage, and a separate one which was instigated by some rebuilding work along the south side of the graveyard at Kilbarchan West Parish Church.

“They both gave us a chance to look at the history and archaeology of the weaving industry, which played an important role in Scotland’s economy,” he said.

Experts differ over origin of ancient pictographs

While experts differ over the origins of prehistoric pictographs at Hueco Tanks, most people go there to enjoy the wilderness or take in some of the park’s history.

Idalia Sullivan, formerly of El Paso, on Wednesday took three of her nieces on a guided tour that made several stops at some of the rock formations with paintings.

“I climbed the rocks here as a teenager, and came back recently, and was blown away by what I saw,” said Sullivan, who was visiting from California. It was the first time her El Paso nieces — Tamara Hoefner, 15; Kristin Hoefner, 12; and Raven Anchondo, 5 — had gone to Hueco Tanks State Historic Site.

Antiquities Market update Museums Advised to Check Bible-Era Relics

Experts advised world museums to re-examine their Bible-era relics after Israel indicted four collectors and dealers on charges of forging items thought to be some of the most important artifacts discovered in recent decades.

The indictments issued Wednesday labeled many such “finds” as fakes, including two that had been presented as the biggest biblical discoveries in the Holy Land – the purported burial box of Jesus’ brother James and a stone tablet with written instructions by King Yoash on maintenance work at the ancient Jewish Temple.

Shuka Dorfman, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the scope of the fraud appears to go far beyond what has been uncovered so far. The forgery ring has been operating for more than 20 years.

This: Golan said in a statement Wednesday “there is not one grain of truth in the fantastic allegations related to me.” He said the investigation was aimed at “destroying collecting and trade in antiquities in Israel.”

You say that like it’s a BAD thing. . . . .

China Discovery I Scientists discover ancient sea wharf

Archeologists say that they have found the country’s oldest wharf and it is believed to be the starting point of an ancient sea route to Central and West Asia.

The discovery has reaffirmed the widespread belief that the ancient trade route started in Hepu County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, archeologists said at yesterday’s symposium on the nation’s marine silk road.

After three years of excavation, archeologists have unearthed a wharf that is at least 2,000 years old in Guchengtou Village, according to Xiong Zhaoming, head of the archeological team.

China Discovery II 3,000-year-old woodcarving discovered

The Chengdu Archeological Team discovered a 3,000-year-old painted woodcarving of a head during the second phase of excavation at the Jinsha site’s ritual area. It is the oldest and most intact sculpture over its type ever discovered in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

According to Wang Yi, curator of the Chengdu Municipal Museum, the woodcarving was found buried about three meters below the earth’s surface.

The item in question:

And Andie’s blog has a couple more links to the Fayum granaries stories here and here.

And a few things we missed lately:

UF Study: Bigfoot Myth Persists Because It Depicts Humans’ Wild Side

There’s plenty to debunk about the Bigfoot myth, but people may not listen because they have a love-hate relationship with the gigantic hairy monster, says a University of Florida researcher.

“People express a reverence for the grandeur of the animal and derive meaning from Bigfoot because it represents where we came from,” said UF anthropologist David Daegling. “I think Bigfoot depicts the wild and uncultured side of who we are, a side we are both attracted to and repulsed by.”

Interesting, but only vaguely archaeology Research Points To New Theory Driving Evolutionary Changes

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have used canine DNA to identify a genetic mutation mechanism they believe is responsible for rapid evolutionary changes in the physical appearance of many species.

The findings, based on data gathered from hundreds of museum specimens of dogs and from blood samples of volunteered live dogs, offer a new explanation for the sudden, rapid rise of new species found in the fossil record. They also help explain the variability in appearance among individual members of a species, such as the length of the nose in different breeds of domestic dogs.

A mechanism for punctuated equilibirum at last?

There’s More to the Mimbres Than the Pottery

The NAN Ranch Ruin in southwestern New Mexico has yielded the “most comprehensive body of information ever gathered at a single Mimbres site,” according to author and anthropologist Harry Shafer. This impressive scholarly volume presents findings from 20 years of extensive excavations at the NAN Ranch ruin — offering new views of the ancient Mimbrenos that once thrived in New Mexico from about A.D. 600 to 1140.

“Mimbres culture is no longer seen as just a culture whose architecture was a poor copy of the ancient Anasazi to the north but with pottery that was unrivaled in terms of its painted imagery and design,” Shafer states. “The Mimbres phenomenon was a regional fluorescence in its own right that drew upon resources and people from neighboring groups in the desert and mountains.”

December 29, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:29 pm

Burning question in the Blogosphere

In case anyone hasn’t seen it, there is some controversy out among various more politically-oriented bloggers regarding an aspect of Jared Diamond’s latest book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The whole thing was started by a guest blogger at Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Basically, it was a comment on the political tone of Malcolm Gladwell’s review of the book, but has since snowballed somewhat into a discussion of Greenland Norse dietary practices.

Matthew Yglesias posted thrice on the subject (here, here, and here) and also someone named Fritz Schrank.

We are noncommital at this point, but the issue probably needs some work, if any interested readers out there have anything to say. We found a couple of papers, none really referencing fish consumption, but at least one mentioning extensive use of other marine life (seals).

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:15 pm

Interesting thing we’ve never heard of The Computational Geometry of Mayan Pyrite Mirrors

Among the artifacts found in the ancient Mayan ruins were many pyrite mirrors. The mirrors are composed of several pieces that were intelligently fit together to form a complicated geometrical structure. This structure can be represented as a planar embedding of vertices, edges, and faces that closely resembles a graph structure called a Voronoi diagram. Using several different methods, it can be approximated how close the mirror is to an actual Voronoi diagram, and how far the vertices would have to be moved to match the structure exactly. The concept of a Voronoi diagram gives insight into how the mirrors might have been constructed.

We’d never heard of these pyrite mirrors before, nor did we know what Voronai diagrams were. Seems an interesting concept though. We got this via email and the author is looking for insights as to how the Maya mirrors were designed.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:03 am

Unconfirmed report (from Archaeology Magazine’s web site) that Robson Bonnichsen has passed away.

Will relate more when we find out more.

Update: Amazon women of Roman Britain BURIED WOMEN ‘WERE IN AMAZON FIGHTING TRIBE’

TWO bodies unearthed from an ancient cemetery at Brougham, near Penrith, have changed experts’ views on Roman Britain.

For the 1,750-year-old remains – found at the site in the 1960s – have been identified as women warriors who may have been from the fabled Amazon fighting tribe of Eastern Europe.

The discovery has astonished archaeologists and historians because women were not previously known to have fought in the Roman army, which occupied Britain between 55BC and AD410.

Their artists’ conception of what the Amazon women may have looked like:

Our artists’ conception of what the Amazon women may have looked like:

Who do you want to get your news from?

And a good thing it is Tomb of Genghis Khan receives some TLC

A large-scale renovation of the mausoleum of Genghis Khan is underway in Inner Mongolia.

The tomb of the founder of the Mongol Empire of the Middle Ages is in North China’s Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.The project at a cost of 180 million yuan (US$22 million will hopefully receive 50,000 tourists a year, said Mengkeduren, head of the mausoleum’s administrative bureau.

Oops Relic Discovered Stolen After Over 2 Years

National Museum of Korea director Yi Kun-moo on Monday officially apologized for Gyeongju National Museum’s loss of a stone relic and announced that it will reinforce security of outdoor museum exhibits.

“We will focus on tightening security of the museum’s cultural possessions and according to the results of the criminal investigation, we will punish those who are responsible for its loss,’’ Yi said during a news conference at the National Museum of Korea in northern Seoul.

Cemeteries update Volunteers catalog old cemeteries

Metro’s plans to add turn lanes at the intersection of Edmondson Pike and Cloverland Drive were interrupted recently when the 19th-century child’s grave was found on the property.

Remnants of an old graveyard fence and the child’s grave marker were discovered amidst overgrown vines and trees after Metro purchased an option on the property, according to Metro attorney Philip Baltz.

When Metro finds an old cemetery on land it wishes to use, it files a petition in Chancery Court to declare the cemetery unsuitable for interment and then hires a licensed funeral director to move the remains in accordance with state law, Baltz said.

That’s a nice article detailing what happens with cemeteries in Tennessee and how burials developed over time from small family plots near the homesteads to large, central cemeteries later on.

December 28, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:21 pm

Breaking news! Archaeologists Find Egyptian Stone Age Stores

Archaeologists in Egypt have found eight Stone Age grain stores at an oasis southwest of Cairo that help show the shift from hunting to agricultural societies, the Ministry of Culture reported.

The ministry said the discovery was made by a team from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in an area north of Fayoum 60 miles southwest of Cairo, where 67 grain stores were found in 1926.

“The well-preserved nature of these stores helped experts to understand the transformation of societies, from depending on hunting to a stable agricultural society,” government antiquities chief Zahi Hawas said in the statement.

The statement did not say when the discovery was made.

That’s the whole thing. We did a quickie search and think it may refer to this work, either the particular season described at that link, or related work in a different season. As the article above states, other grain storage facilities were found by Caton-Thompson and Gardner earlier and provided the basis for the Fayum Neolithic subsistence model. Check out Andie Byrnes’ Neolithic Faiyum page for a good background discussion including Koms W and K, which is Caton-Thompson’s site.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:20 am

Yet another article on the Port Angeles site Discovery of ancient village derails bridge repair

If it had been only one skeleton, the project would have continued. Even a few dozen skeletons might not have been enough to persuade Washington state officials to abandon a $283 million bridge-repair project along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 65 miles northwest of here.

But what construction workers stumbled upon went beyond anything ever found in the Pacific Northwest: an ancient Indian village dating back 17 centuries, with lodges, dance halls, and cemeteries containing hundreds of skeletal remains. Nearly 300 complete skeletons have been unearthed, many of them buried in clusters, including entire extended families.

One thing: ”Every time we’d find one of our ancestors, we’d wrap them in a blanket and put them in a cedar box, and pack them in, and you could feel the silence among us. We wondered: ‘Is this my great-grandfather? Is this my great-grandmother?’ “ Um, no. Possibly (great x 82-ish)-grandmother/father.

And still more from Scotland Digging for clues to North Berwick’s past

HISTORIC relics from one of the first settlements at North Berwick are being unearthed at a new archaeological dig.

The excavation is taking place on the site of a future extension to the Scottish Seabird Centre at the town’s harbour.

It follows on from a dig held four years ago which uncovered skeletal remains, including those of a murder victim, on the site of the old St Andrew’s Kirk graveyard, which is next to the centre.

And archaeologists working on the new site say it may contain even more fascinating artefacts than those previously uncovered.

Generally beheaded???? Human Sacrifice Was Common in Burnt City

According to archeological research in the 5000-year-old burnt city, in eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, sacrificing human beings was a common practice in ancient times.

After excavating a number of graves in the cemetery of the burnt city, the Iranian archeological team came across signs of murder and generally beheaded bodies.

Major Climate Change Occurred 5,200 Years Ago: Evidence Suggests That History Could Repeat Itself

Glaciologist Lonnie Thompson worries that he may have found clues that show history repeating itself, and if he is right, the result could have important implications to modern society.

Thompson has spent his career trekking to the far corners of the world to find remote ice fields and then bring back cores drilled from their centers. Within those cores are the records of ancient climate from across the globe.

From the mountains of data drawn by analyzing countless ice cores, and a meticulous review of sometimes obscure historic records, Thompson and his research team at Ohio State University are convinced that the global climate has changed dramatically.

Hardly news, but it sounds good.

Tribal rock art offers clues to religious beliefs of old

Unlike the imposing grandeur of the cathedrals of Europe, a spiritual place on a mountain ledge in southern Arizona, also recognized as a holy site for hundreds of years, has a sense of serenity to it – an unspoiled, natural feel.

Many generations of American Indians have used it for religious ceremonies, leaving evidence of their other-world communion – symbols painted on the rock face sheltered by an overhang, cryptic images that confound those of today’s so-called “organized” religions, but which continue to hold special meaning for tribal members.

December 27, 2004

Creating an archaeological park

Filed under: Conservation/CRM — admin @ 2:50 pm

This seems like a good thing ARCHAEOLOGY: Vista Del Rio honors its former residents

The Vista Del Rio neighborhood on the city’s Northeast Side is a quiet, residential area – probably not unlike it was 1,000 years ago when another neighborhood – of the Hohokam culture – occupied the same turf.

The city is putting finishing touches on a ramada and a series of walkways through the newly designated Vista Del Rio Archaeological Park, a 4-acre set-aside just north of Tanque Verde and Dos Hombres roads.

A formal dedication program is anticipated in January or February.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:46 am

The latest blockbuster archaeology program from Discovery Pompeii: The Last Day

Scheduled for broadcast on Sunday, Jan. 30. We believe there is a web site devoted to this program (besides the Discovery Channel link above), but can’t find it anywhere. Well, we only saw a brief advertisement for it once, so it may be largely mythical.

Kind of a neat site. Check out the Recent Discoveries link on that page.

Another lost city. . .found! Archeologists find ancient village near Tel-Aviv

Archeologists have discovered a village near the Mediterranean coast dating from the 4th century B.C., the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday – a rare find.

The discovery provides an unusual insight into a turbulent period when there were intense struggles for control over the area, said Uzi Ad, who led the dig.

During this period the region was under the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemy empire and then the Selucid Greeks from Syria before it was conquered by the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty in the second century B.C.

Yet another Homo hobbitus update Indonesian ‘hobbit’ legends may be factual

Mount Ebulo, Indonesia – Nellis Kua is too old to remember his exact age, but his eyes light up when he talks of the gang of hobbit-like creatures his grandparents told him once lived in the forest on the slopes of this still smoking Indonesian volcano.

“They had these big eyes, hair all over their body and spoke in a strange language,” said Kua, his skin leathered by a lifetime tending coffee and chilli pepper crops under the harsh tropical sun.

“They stole our crops, our fruit and moonshine. They were so greedy they even ate the plates!”

Drunken little Australopithecines. . . .we are at a loss to contemplate anything quite so humorous.

This would be bad Conversations: Hunting Fakes

Jane Walsh, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, is best known for her work with museum collections and for exposing several crystal skulls, once thought to be Precolumbian, as nineteenth-century German fakes. She is now working with several museums to create a database that can be used to identify bogus Precolumbian jade, crystal, and other stone artifacts. She talked to ARCHAEOLOGY about why you shouldn’t always trust what you see at museums.

More from Scotland Arthur’s Seat arrow pinpoints Bronze Age living

A YOUNG brother and sister who discovered an ancient arrowhead on Arthur’s Seat were praised today for helping piece together Scotland’s “ancient historical jigsaw”.

Robert Simon, 12, and his ten-year-old sister Kirsty found what they thought was an odd-shaped stone on a path above Dunsapie Loch.

They handed it over to the Museum of Scotland, where staff identified the stone as an early Bronze Age flint arrowhead, dating from as long ago as 2000BC. It has now been donated to the Museum of Edinburgh on the Royal Mile.

Ivory Punica granatum update Ivory pomegranate ‘not Solomon’s’

An ancient ivory pomegranate thought to be the only relic of King Solomon’s Temple is from a different period, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem has said.

The museum had regarded the thumb-sized artefact, thought part of a sceptre, as one of its most precious possessions.

However, Israeli experts conducting an investigation discovered the artefact was much older than believed.

December 26, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:47 pm

Archaeologist finds teeth of the mountains

The tooth in Bob Mierendorf’s hand looked small, like a splinter of white gravel encased in a clear, plastic cylinder.

But then, salmon aren’t loved for their tusks.

Mierendorf, a National Park Service archeologist based in Marblemount, and his team spent days last summer sifting dirt to find the salmon tooth and other very old bones.

The find was like many others Mierendorf has made in the park during his 18 years there, a happy accident followed by weeks sifting dirt over a mesh screen.

Port Angeles update What’s left at the graving yard site? Tribe’s waterfront activity ebbs

A simple weather-worn tarp held down by beach cobbles covers remnants of one of the Klallam longhouses discovered at the former graving yard site.

“This is the fallen wall of a 700- to 800-year-old big house that was naturally burnt,” said Lower Elwha Klallam tribal member Carmen Charles while working at the 22.5-acre waterfront site on Wednesday.

“They are scientifically done with this and told us if we want to preserve it that we would have to find a curator.

Good question: What is next? The project is cancelled so there’s no more money to continue with the salvage operations. Either the tribes or some enterprising academic will need to write a grant for more money. Or they could just leave it all sit.

Following news courtesy of the EEF

“Egypt restores ancient mural from US”:

Recovery of a mural from Helwan that was on auction.

Press report: “Mataria’s living legend”

“Thousands of pilgrims converge on the site of the Tree of the Holy Virgin each Christmas.” The article briefly makes a link between the many trees connected with the Madonna in Coptic folklore, and the ancient Egyptian tree goddeses.

[Next two items submitted by Michael Tilgner]

Press report: “Field Museum to use X-ray machine to scan priceless specimens”


“Researchers will also use the X-ray to determine whether the mummies of two gazelles, two falcons and a cat have animals inside.”

Another report on this topic:


Articles about the recent crisis of the IFAO, including an interview with Bernard Mathieu:


petition with more than 130 signatures – pdf-file: 80 KB


Bob Brier and Michael Zimmerman, “The Remains of Queen Weret”, in: Chungara, Revista de Antropología Chilena, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2000, pp 23-26. Text in English. In HTML.

“The skeletal remains of Queen Weret of the Twelfth Dynasty (circa 1880 B.C.) were examined. Preliminary conclusions about age at death, health, and related factors are discussed.”

Two overview articles in English:

– “Scarabs” by Robert Bianchi (3 pages, in PDF, 55kB):

– “[AE] Medicine” by Robert Ritner (4 pages, in PDF, 61kB):

These are promotional samples from ‘The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt’ (2001).

End of EEF news

December 23, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:58 am

Update on new Peruvian civilization Ancient Peru site older, much larger

A Peruvian site previously reported as the oldest city in the Americas actually is a much larger complex of as many as 20 cities with huge pyramids and sunken plazas sprawled over three river valleys, researchers report.

Construction started about 5,000 years ago — nearly 400 years before the first pyramid was built in Egypt — at a time when most people around the world were simple hunters and gatherers, a team from Northern Illinois University and Chicago’s Field Museum reports in today’s issue of the journal Nature.

Mostly the same info as earlier. And here’s the BBC version.

That seems to be it for news so far today. We expect the weekly EEF news to be coming in and we’ll post that when we get it.

Err, unless we bugger out early for the holiday, too. In that case, we’ll be happily tipping back a few brandy-laced egg nogs and engaging in yuletide merriment and to heck with Egyptology.

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