May 31, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:18 pm

Update on an earlier story John Hawks has posted some commentary on a paper by Jody Hey on the number of New World founders based on genetic analysis. We posted about this earlier. See paper here. Read especially John’s Update.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:00 am

Well, we’re back from a long weekend of, um, doing important archaeological research-related stuff. We’re not going to bother trying to catch up on all the news from the last few days, but troll for a few items of ongoing interest, and a couple of new ones:

Homo hobbitus update Bones of Contention

Because the female skeleton looked humanoid rather than human and the brain size was small, the researchers concluded she was not a Pygmy—a short but otherwise normal version of Homo sapiens you still find in equatorial Africa and pockets of Southeast Asia—but a member of an entirely new species whom its discoverers named Homo floresiensis. This species, say the scientists, probably branched off from Homo erectus, the commonly accepted ancestor of Homo sapiens.

. . .

Now, however, the presence of small people living within strolling distance of Liang Bua has cast doubt over the separate-species theory, and sparked a bitter split in scientific circles over its validity. Battle lines have been drawn, with each side vigorously trying to discredit the other.

This is a good summary article of where things stand at this point. We admit we’re starting to question whether or not this is really a new species or not. The presence of very short-statured people on the island now seems to us to seriously call into question much of the argument. It’s harder to get around the brain-size issue, and this reminds us of the old Neanderthal critique — “It’s a furrowed-brow old man with the gout” schtick. Is it possible that they managed to find the one person with microcephaly? Yes, but this seems unlikely, unless due to some founder effect, the condition was more common than usually seen. So, as one researcher quoted in the article says “Show me eight more similar skulls from the site and I’ll shut up.” At this point, we’ll just fall back on that old archaeological canard and say “We need more data.”

Archaeological Controversy II Hunters Cleared in Aussie Megafauna Extinctions

Humans and ancient giant marsupials coexisted for at least 15,000 years, according to new findings that re-ignite the debate over how and when Australia’s megafauna became extinct.

Archaeologist Judith Field, of the University of Sydney, says the team’s findings put to rest one high-profile theory, that humans arrived in Australia and wiped out the megafauna during a relatively brief 1000-year “blitzkrieg.”

“In some places people may well have had a role, but in other places they had no role at all,” she says.

Probably a bit overly optimistic of a headline. We figure the blitzgrieg model is probably itself overly simplistic and won’t hold out much longer as a broad explanatory model. Still, Field and other researchers are making this problem out to be more complex than the either/or-climate/hunting opposition proponents have made it out to be (itself an oversimplification in most cases). Donald Grayson, himself a strong opponent of the blitzkrieg-uber alles model has recently published some data indicating that people may have had some impact on the extinction of at least one species, Ursus spelaeus or cave bear (see this paper section 3). Do a Web search (preferably Google Scholar) on ‘Pleistocene overkill’ or ‘Megafauna extinctions’ for background.

[Update] Can’t find the original paper that this article is based on (yet) but we located a couple with some background on Field’s extinctions work (don’t know whether they’re freely accessible or not):

Megafaunal extinction in the late Quaternary and the global overkill hypothesis

Archaeology and Australian Megafauna (short summary of the Cuddie Springs site)

[Update II] And we just came across this by chance:

Small species back-up giant marsupial climate change extinction claim

Thinking small in a time when everything was big has helped Queensland researchers to unearth new evidence that climate change, instead of humans, was responsible for wiping out Australian giant marsupials or megafauna 40,000 years ago.

Instead of only excavating ‘trophy specimens’ such as giant kangaroos and wombats, the researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Queensland Museum performed the first systematic analysis of a site in the fossil rich Darling Downs region of south-eastern Queensland.

Reported in the journal Memoirs of the Queensland Museum tomorrow (Tuesday 31 May) they found smaller species, dependent on a wetter environment, had also disappeared.

By systematically analysing a 10 metre deep section of creek bed, the team uncovered 44 species, ranging from land snails, frogs, lizards and small mammals to giant wombats and kangaroos including many species previously unknown to have occurred in the Darling Downs fossil record.

The results suggest that the extinction of Darling Downs megafauna was caused by a massive shift in climate rather than by the arrival of humans who over hunted animals or destroyed habitats by burning the landscape.

[Who needs new posts when you can just keep Updating. . . .]

Found original paper, probably subscriber only though:

Prolonged coexistence of humans and megafauna in Pleistocene Australia.

["When will it these Updates be ended??"]

Yet another mention in Nature.

Note: This is a new story Mutilated Bronze Age lord found in Germany

Archaeologists have discovered the skeletons of a lord and his retainers in a burial mound at Germany’s most celebrated Bronze Age site.

Archaeologist Olaf Schroeder said the intact, 4 200-year-old mound was one of at least eight “barrows” within view of the ancient holy site that yielded the 3 600-year-old Nebra celestial disc, a bronze and gold depiction of the heavens, in 1999.

May 27, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:38 am

No blogging yesterday or today. We’re, um, doing important archaeological research.

In the sun.

With, you know, beer and stuff.

May 25, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:53 am

Media Corner We caught the last half(-ish) of a Nova program (PBS) on the peopling of the Americas (originally broadcast back in November). What we saw was pretty good, and after looking at a transcript we found our initial impressions were correct (at least as far as we’re concerned). They hit all the right themes and didn’t really push one idea or the other overly hard. In a sense, it wasn’t about the peopling of the Americas at all, but rather about the Clovis-first hypothesis. Consequently, we didn’t hear a whole lot on the various hypotheses regarding migration routes from Asia, considerations of the ice-free corridor timing, possible maritime routes, etc. The main “hook” seemed to be the possible European connection pushed by Dennis Stanford, that is, that Clovis is derived from the Solutrean. The major new evidence presented here was some mtDNA work by Douglas Wallace who apparently found a fifth source of DNA in the Ojibwa:

When we studied the mitochondrial DNA of the Ojibwa we found, as we had anticipated, the four primary lineages—A, B, C and D—but there was about a quarter of the mitochondrial DNAs that was not A, B, C and D.

They also spent some time on the Gault site which contains thousands of Clovis-era artifacts, only a few of which have anything to do with typical Clovis points. This is probably the least-popularly known aspect of Clovis: there are numerous Clovis sites that have little to do with big game hunting. In these cases, Clovis people are seen as fairly typical hunter-gatherers utilizing a wide variety of resources, depending on their local conditions. This obviously calls into question the whole Overkill Model which the show didn’t really go into, and we won’t either (here). We liked this portion of the show since it lifted the veil somewhat on Clovis and showed the stereotypical big game hunter model to be not entirely accurate.

The other neat idea they presented was Clovis as a technological innovation that spread through an existing population rather than a strict equivalence between Clovis-as-artifact-type and Clovis-as-a-human-population. This is a very important decoupling, as it is usually (this goes beyond Clovis as well) assumed to be the case that people = artifact types.

Anyway, check out the transcript and especially the companion web site.

Ancient astronauts update Giant Figures in Peru Desert Pre-date Nazca Lines

A group of about 50 drawings of giant figures recently discovered in the hills of Peru’s southern coastal desert near the city of Palpa has been said to predate the famous Nazca lines nearby.

Mr. Johny Isla, director of the Andean Institute of Archaeological Studies, said the “geoglyph” figures appear to have been created by the Paracas communities between 500 and 400BC, whereas the Nazca culture developed after 50 BC. Mr. Isla and his partner Dr. Markus Reindel from the Dutch Institute of Archaeology discovered the Paracas figures using aerial photography and land-based surveys. The figures of humans, birds, monkeys and cats vary in size from 10m to 50m across, and are also grouped together in areas up to 60 m to 90 m across.

Man trying to sell skull must apologize

A man who tried to sell the 200-year-old skull of a native Hawaiian warrior on eBay was sentenced Monday to 600 hours of community service and ordered to publish an apology in several Hawaiian newspapers.

Jerry Hasson of Huntington Beach must also pay more than $13,000 and post the same apology on an eBay bulletin board dedicated to archaeological memorabilia.

May 24, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:08 am

Well, this is cool (non-archaeological):

Student mistakes examples of unsolvable math problems for homework assignment and solves them.

George Dantzig recounted his feat in a 1986 interview for the College Mathematics Journal:

It happened because during my first year at Berkeley I arrived late one day at one of [Jerzy] Neyman’s classes. On the blackboard there were two problems that I assumed had been assigned for homework. I copied them down. A few days later I apologized to Neyman for taking so long to do the homework — the problems seemed to be a little harder than usual. I asked him if he still wanted it. He told me to throw it on his desk. I did so reluctantly because his desk was covered with such a heap of papers that I feared my homework would be lost there forever. About six weeks later, one Sunday morning about eight o’clock, [my wife] Anne and I were awakened by someone banging on our front door. It was Neyman. He rushed in with papers in hand, all excited: “I’ve just written an introduction to one of your papers. Read it so I can send it out right away for publication.” For a minute I had no idea what he was talking about. To make a long story short, the problems on the blackboard that I had solved thinking they were homework were in fact two famous unsolved problems in statistics. That was the first inkling I had that there was anything special about them.

. . .

George Dantzig passed away at his Stanford home at age 90 on 13 May 2005.

This is way cool in and of itself. Also mentioned in the text is Donald Knuth, computer scientist extraordinaire and author of perhaps the most widely read computer science book, The Art of Computer Programming. This book probably trained the majority of our current programmers. We mention this for two reasons. First, we hung out with his daughter once when she was living with friends of ours here. Second, there was an article in the May-June American Scientist (should be open access) that mentioned something Knuth had done:

During a decade’s labor on the TeX typesetting system, he kept a meticulous log of all his errors, and then he published the list with a detailed commentary.


Back to archaeology

Founding fathers & mothers: How many crossed the land bridge?

Programs on the Discovery Channel and PBS have sparked fresh interest in the prehistoric peopling of the New World. Now, for the first time, we have a realistic estimate of how many ancients made that ice age trek across the long-lost land bridge from Asia to become the first Native Americans.

Jody Hey, a professor of genetics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has developed a computational method that uses genetic information to create models of population divergence – where a group has split off from its ancestral population to pursue its own destiny.

In a paper appearing in the June 2005 issue of PLoS (Public Library of Science) Biology, Hey disclosed his findings. “The estimated effective size of the founding population for the New World is about 70 individuals,” Hey said. “Calculations also showed that this represents approximately 1 percent of the effective size of the estimated ancestral Asian population.”

Could be interesting how this plays out with the archaeologists working on pre-Clovis remains. The one documented pre-Clovis site (Monte Verde) dates to only 12,500, but there are others that claim to be even earlier (we’ve blogged about one here, but darned if we can remember which one it is at the moment). More will no doubt follow.

Remote sensing update New city search for Roman remains

A £47,500 project using 21st-century technology could lead the way to new discoveries of ancient remains in the Chichester area.

It may help establish for the first time whether a Roman fort is buried away somewhere close to or in the city, as well as highlighting areas which archaeologists should be focussing on.

Chichester is one of 30 historic English towns chosen to make a detailed computer record of their complex archaeology.

Apart from its implications for archaeological discovery, the so-called ‘intensive urban study’ is intended to help with giving planning advice on the heritage implications of new developments, and on the management of the historic environment.

That’s the whole thing. Too bad they don’t say exactly what they’ll be using.

See? Shoulda left him on ice Bacteria Eating Away at Otzi the Iceman?

Ötzi the Iceman, the world’s oldest and best-preserved mummy, could be at risk of decomposition, according to the latest tests on the 5,300-year-old mummy.

Eduard Egarter Vigl, Ötzi’s official caretaker, said that X-rays show suspicious grey spots on one knee.

“We noticed that these spots change aspect over time. This would indicate the formation of air or gas bubbles inside the tibia. And we know that gas is produced by bacteria,” he said at a recent conference at the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum in Bolzano, Italy, where the mummy is kept.

We say that somewhat facetiously, of course. OTOH, it does allude to the all-too-common problem of curation we face these days.

Stone-Age Fashion update Exotic Deer Teeth a ‘Must’ for Stone Age Ladies

Grave goods found with the remains of a woman nicknamed the Lady of Saint-Germain-la-Rivière, who lived approximately 15,570 years ago in France, suggest rare animal teeth served as Stone Age status symbols that were comparable in value to today’s expensive jewelry and designer duds.

The find indicates that people within hunter-gatherer societies from the Upper Paleolithic may not have viewed everyone as a social equal, but instead recognized privilege and prestige.

The research, funded by the European Science Foundation, appears in the current Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Artists’ conception of what a fashionable Upper Paleolithic woman may have looked like:

May 23, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:20 pm

Tutankhamun facial reconstruction update

Aayko Eyma of the EEF sends this along:

This is not to reopen debate on the merits of such facial reconstructions, just for information purposes, as most earlier press reports only showed one or two of the reconstructions:

To the EEF BBS, a picture of all three models has been added:

It is based on a picture from the Time Magazine article ‘Unmasking King Tut’ (May 23, 2005), of which a text version (without pictures, but with the text with the three models) may be found online at:,9171,1061534,00.html

Update: Oops. Latter has become “premium” content.

Also, the first link allows some comparison between the different reconstructions. Unfortunatly, they are all from different angles so it’s difficult to really compare them in any detail.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:41 pm

Great heaping gobs of stuff today. . . . .

Digging in the NW Archaeology Enthusiasts In Southern Oregon Offered Rare Opportunity

The Southern Oregon Historical Society seeks volunteers (18 years of age or older) who would like to participate in the Fort Lane archaeology project scheduled for the week of July 11-15. SOHS is joining Southern Oregon University to provide this unique opportunity to the public. Archaeological experience is not necessary but volunteers should be prepared for hiking and working in strenuous summer weather conditions.

Not archaeology, but cool A Beetle-sized armadillo

The fossil of a giant armadillo which lived up to 2 million years ago and would have been the size of a Volkswagen Beetle has been found by builders in southern Peru.

“They were working inside a private home and stumbled upon this surprise during the digging,” Pedro Luna, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Culture in the southern city of Cuzco, said.

The fossil skeleton was “almost complete” at two metres long including the tail and 1.1 metres wide.


AN UNDISCOVERED stretch of Hadrian�s Wall has been unearthed by archaeologists on the route of the �30 million Carlisle Northern Development by-pass.

The team of archaeologists from Cumbria County Council have discovered a section of the Roman wall and fragments of ancient pottery on the banks of the River Eden near Stainton, west of Carlisle. The discovery is directly on the line of the planned Northern Development Route and could mean further delays to the long-awaited by-pass � now more than three years late.

More from the BBC here.

China’s 5,000-Year Old Civilization Is No Bluff – Prehistoric Relics Provides New Evidence

United archaeologists from Shandong University and Chicago Field Museum of Natural History have recently come up with preliminary conclusions after 10 years of excavation and research at the Rizhao district in Shandong province. They believe that the remains of ancient monument, which have been excavated, could be the relics of a prehistoric country dating back to 4,200 or 5,000 years ago.

Furthermore, this ancient country is estimated to have had a population of around 63,000 and the area of the capital alone is estimated to be one thousand square kilometers.

Antiquities Market update I
Getty’s antiquities buyer faces trial over stolen goods

The woman who for many years was in charge of buying archaeological treasures for the Getty Museum of Los Angeles is to stand trial in Rome in July, charged with receiving stolen goods.

The trial is the culmination of an investigation started nearly 10 years ago, which claims to have discovered that, of the many marvels of the ancient world purchased in Italy by Marion True, the 56-year-old curator for antiquities at the J Paul Getty Museum, a huge number had been stolen – a fact of which prosecutors say the curator was well aware.

Oxyrhynchus Papyri update NASA science uncovers texts of Trojan Wars, early gospel

The scholars at Oxford University are not sure how it works or why; all they know is that it does.

A relatively new technology called multispectral imaging is turning a pile of ancient garbage into a gold mine of classical knowledge, bringing to light the lost texts of Sophocles and Euripides as well as some early Christian gospels that do not appear in the New Testament.

Originally developed by NASA scientists and used to map the surface of Mars, multispectral imaging was successfully applied to some badly charred Roman manuscripts that were buried during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Examining those carbonized manuscripts under different wavelengths of light suddenly revealed writing that had been invisible to scholars for two centuries.

Heh. Oops: The Archilochos fragment confirms what scholars have long suspected: that the Greeks got lost on their way to invade Troy and mistakenly landed at place called Mysia. There they fought a battle, lost and had to regroup before heading off again for Troy.

More at Nature. (Sub only)
Archimedes manuscript yields secrets under X-ray gaze

Antiquities Market update II 800yr-old temple unearthed

t least four statues and other priceless antiques, found in the recently discovered Shiva temple that was built in 1213 AD, at Pirapat village in Khaloo Upazila reportedly went missing some time Friday night.(The Daily Star )

Officials at the Archaeology Department and local people said some miscreants might have entered the temple Friday night by cutting an 18-foot-long tunnel. The Hindu devotees last said their prayers at the temple on Thursday.

Regional Archaeology Office sources said higher authorities have been informed of the incident and requested to declare the site protected for a preliminary excavation.

Excavation of ancient desert tombs ends, riddles waiting to answer

Chinese archaeologists finished the excavation of an ancient tomb complex in the Lop Nur Desert, northwest China, but researchers say the finds are puzzling and need more time to be understood.

By mid March, archaeologists in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region unearthed 163 tombs of the Xiaohe Tomb complex, which sprawls on a 2,500-square-meter oval-shaped dune, 174 km from the ruins of the Loulan Kingdom, an ancient civilization that vanished 1,500 years ago.

The complex contains about 330 tombs, but about 160 of them were spoiled by grave robbers, said Idelisi Abuduresule, head of the Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute, which launched the excavation project in October 2003 with the approval from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

‘Discovery of a lifetime’ thrills mayor, archaeologists

On a forgotten hilltop sprinkled with daisies and horse manure, an astounding remnant of history was discovered recently at what was once thought to be a Cherokee graveyard.

But rather than burial ground, Stanford Mayor Eddie Carter discovered that his pasture land was once home to heavy artillery and Union troops.

“This is big time,” Carter said. “This is one of the largest Civil War mound forts. They say it’s a very significant find … I’d thought for years it was an old Cherokee burial ground.”

We’re not usually into this sort of recent-historical stuff, but this sounds interesting.

Oaxaca Residents Battle Over Shade Trees

Two years ago, artists and architects banded together to stave off McDonald’s from opening on the picturesque main square in the southern city of Oaxaca. Now some of those same activists are under attack themselves, over their plan to evict another foreign invader the towering India laurel trees that shade the historic plaza.

Opponents say the idea is political correctness run amok.

“This is almost dogmatic,” said painter Francisco Verastegui, who joined the fight to oppose McDonald’s but is leading the battle against the renovation project. “They’re nonnative species, so we have to get rid of them? That’s like botanical racism.”

Local elms, when asked for comment, rustled.

Forensic stuff Something is rotting in the state of Tennessee

“You want to watch where you’re walking,” warns Dr Richard Jantz as he steps through a small razor-wire topped gate at the back of a Tennessee hospital car park. He might just as usefully have said to watch where you look, breathe or smell. The two-acre patch of wooded hillside that constitutes the Anthropological Research Facility of Tennessee University hides a wealth of sensory surprises.

Better known by its nickname of the Body Farm, this pastoral setting is littered with about 80 dead bodies. Their decomposition is the focus of a unique scientific project that aims to help murder investigations to establish the time-since-death of human remains.

This is probably better known to Americans, being commonly highlighted in forensic-related TV shows over the past several years.

More bioanthropology Indian Tribes Linked Directly to African ‘Eve’

Two primitive tribes in India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands are believed to be direct descendants of the first modern humans who migrated from Africa at least 50,000 years ago, according to a study by Indian biologists.

A team of biologists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad studied the DNA of 10 Onge and Great Andamanese people in the Indian Ocean archipelago who lived for tens of thousands of years in “genetic isolation” from other human contact.

The findings suggest the tribes are descended from the “oldest population of the world and were among the first batch of modern humans to migrate from Africa,” said professor Lalji Singh, director of the center.

Czech Homo update Prehistoric Bones Point to First Modern-Human Settlement in Europe

Scientists have confirmed that bones found in the Czech Republic represent the earliest human settlement in Europe.

The collection of bones, which include samples from two males and two females, was excavated from the site of Mladec more than a century ago. Scientists have until now failed to date the fossils accurately.

The new research, using radiocarbon dating, has shown the bones to be about 31,000 radiocarbon years old.

Ethnoarchaeology update Digs reveal the truth about trash

The nation’s pre-eminent “garbologist” delights in wielding his findings from 30 years of landfill archaeological digs: Throwaway synthetics like Styrofoam and disposable diapers — the bane of environmentalists — don’t actually make up that much of our total garbage, especially when compared to, ahem, newspapers.

What really gets him going is the concept of “biodegradables,” packaging and products billed as being able to break down quickly. Rathje’s research has showed that in modern, sealed landfills, almost nothing breaks down.

During an entertaining lecture Wednesday that capped a three-day meeting of the Federation of New York Solid Waste Associations, Rathje showed a photo of a reasonably well-preserved, if somewhat blackened head of lettuce — from 1971.

Something must be breaking down since they produce so much methane. . . .

New Theory Places Origin of Diabetes in an Age of Icy Hardships

When temperatures plummet, most people bundle up in thick sweaters, stay cozy indoors and stoke up on comfort food. But a provocative new theory suggests that thousands of years ago, juvenile diabetes may have evolved as a way to stay warm.

. . .

People with the disease, also known as Type 1 diabetes, have excessive amounts of sugar, or glucose, in their blood.

The theory argues that juvenile diabetes may have developed in ancestral people who lived in Northern Europe about 12,000 years ago when temperatures fell by 10 degrees Fahrenheit in just a few decades and an ice age arrived virtually overnight.

Archaeological evidence suggests countless people froze to death, while others fled south. But Dr. Sharon Moalem, an expert in evolutionary medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, believes that some people may have adapted to the extreme cold. High levels of blood glucose prevent cells and tissues from forming ice crystals, Dr. Moalem said. In other words, Type 1 diabetes would have prevented many of our ancestors from freezing to death.

Kind of interesting. Read the whole article, as the second page gives more of the possibly adaptive values of high blood sugar.

Searching for the Queen of Sheba

The queen of Sheba was once one of the most powerful leaders in the world but there are few clues left anywhere about this woman who ruled a rich and powerful nation somewhere in Africa – perhaps, as some archeologists maintain, in what is now southwest Nigeria.

Now, in what may be the site of her last home and gravesite, a University of Toronto professor is trying to unearth the queen’s story – partially told in the Old Testament – as well as honouring her in the form of a new Nigerian museum and interpretive centre.

“Each year both Muslim and Christian religious pilgrims come to this site in Ike-Eri, Nigeria, to pray and honour the queen of Sheba (also known as Bilikisu Sungbo to those of the Islamic faith) even though Ethiopia maintains that she is actually buried in their country,” says professor and museologist Lynne Teather of the Museum Studies program at U of T. “Indigenous knowledge and oral traditions maintain that this is the shrine of the queen and through working with the Bilikisu Sungbo Project, we are trying to not only learn more about this fabulous queen, but to establish a feasibility study on how we can marry tourism to this heritage site.”

May 22, 2005

Tse-whit-zen village update

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:12 am

Unearthing Tse-whit-zen

This is an almost week-long series of articles on the Tse-whit-zen village unearthed last year in Port Townsend WA during contstruction of a dry dock. Turned out to be one of the largest nearly-intact village sites in the state (they say it’s the largest but we’re not sure about this). At any rate, it’s big. It’s also intersting how many of the local tribespeople are working on it. Check it out over the next few days.

May 20, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:11 am

First, news from the EEF

Press report: The Egyptian Gazette, Miscallaneous:
“Ten years ago three stelae were stolen from Akhmim in Upper Egypt whereupon they began a long trip that covered Switzerland, France and the US. Finally, the SCA managed to retrieve the pieces, laying them to rest in the Egyptian Museum.” The pages contains some other Egyptological bits as well.

A new resource is available on the AEL web site: an index to textual references appearing in popular grammars; created by Ken Saunders:
This will be of particular interest to anyone working on the Westcar papyrus or the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor. The index follows the sequence of the text, giving references to where the line or phrase is discussed in four major grammars. Databases for the Eloquent Peasant and the Story of Sinuhe may follow in the future.
[source: Mark Wilson]

* The On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics
has several digitized articles relating to ancient Egypt (and I may have missed some):
– Roth, H. Ling. “Ancient Egyptian and Greek Looms”, Banksfield Museum, 1913, 45 pages, 3.6 MB
– Mace, A. C, “Loom Weights in Egypt”, Ancient Egypt, 1922, 3 pages, 752 KB PDF
– Roth, H. Ling and G. M. Crowfoot, “Models of Ancient Looms”, Ancient Egypt, 1921, 7 pages. 1 MB PDF
– Mace, A. C., “Heddle-Jacks of Middle Kingdom Looms”, Ancient Egypt, 1922, 4 pages. 808 KB PDF
[Eds. GREAT resource for weaving papers. All appear to be non-sub access.]

Bonani, G., et al., “Radiocarbon Dates of Old and Middle Kingdom Monuments in Egypt.” in: AMS Radiocarbon Dating Lab, Annual Report 2001 (PDF, 31 kB):
(An extended version appeared as an article in: Radiocarbon, 2001. 43(3): pp. 1297-1320.)

[Submitted by Kat Reece (]
Online version of: Colin Reader, “Giza before the Fourth Dynasty”, from the Journal of the Ancient Chronology Forum 9 (2002), pp. 5-21.
The age of the Sphinx has generated a certain amount of controversy. Geologist Colin Reader believes that a dating earlier than the 4th dynasty but still firmly within the dynastic period is the best solution to reconciling the geological and archaeological evidence. The Hall of Maat website presents this JACF article — which is a follow up to the author’s article “A geomorphological study of the Giza necropolis with implications for the development of the site” (Archaeometry 43: 1 (2001) 149-165) — with a short update
by the author.

Online version of: Jean-Daniel Stanley, The Near-Destruction of Giza, in: American Scientist, vol. 93, no. 2 (2005)
“How a 19th-century French engineer saved the Egyptian pyramids from being dismantled”
[Eds. We probably linked to this earlier, but it's well worth linking again.]

Review of three books aimed at those “obsessive, Egypt-factoid-gathering kids”:
(password and id: eefeef)

End of EEF news.

Ancient gods uncovered

Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a Nabataean monument during an excavation at Jordan’s ancient city of Petra, the English language newspaper Jordan Times reported on Wednesday.

It quoted Patricia Bikai, who headed the excavation team that made the discovery, as saying that they “initially thought the building was either a shrine or a royal residence”.

“However, after further examination we identified the monument as a banquet hall, which was decorated with 22 stone heads of ancient gods,” she added.

Fast Food, Cheap Souvenirs And A Good Fight – A Day Out At The Amphitheatre

Football just wouldn’t be the same without the obligatory burger vans and stalls selling cheap scarves outside the ground.

But the latest finds by archaeologists, led by Tony Wilmott who is based in Fort Cumberland, Hampshire, working at Chester Amphitheatre suggest things may not have changed that much in the last 2,000 years.

The dig, jointly carried out by English Heritage and Chester City Council, has uncovered a large number of animal bones discarded by fast-food loving spectators in the 8,000 seater stadium.

We’ve heard this before. . . . Indiana Jones raids next-gen consoles

When he’s not teaching students about archaeology or working on his five-o’clock shadow, Indiana Jones is buckling swashes, trotting globes, and all other manner of derring-do. According to a statement from LucasArts, come 2007, he’ll be back doing it on the “next generation of gaming consoles.”

. . .

This new game looks to be just one aspect in a full-on Indy resurgence, with Harrison Ford reportedly signed on to star in a fourth film in the franchise. The project will be written by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg, and it’s tentatively due out sometime next year.

They’d better do it quick or Indy will be wiping out bad guys with his walker. . . . .

Roman conquerors had woolly socks

The sartorial elegance of the Italians has been shattered, with news that woolly socks helped their ancestors’ conquest of northern England.

The evidence has emerged among archaeological objects found in the River Tees at Piercebridge, near Darlington in County Durham.

Among the items was an unusual Roman razor handle, made of copper alloy and in the shape of a human leg and foot.

Fight! Fight! Roman soldiers help new fight against windfarm

ANCIENT Roman legions who once marched through South Yorkshire could soon be playing a part in a new battle—this time to halt a green scheme.
Image Campaigners fighting to stop three towering wind turbines springing up on green belt land at Loscar, near Harthill, say the site is surrounded by evidence of Roman settlements dating back to the first century.
Now local historian Paul Rowland has unearthed evidence to show that even the country lane along which heavy equipment for the three 311 feet high turbines will be brought is an old Roman road, once known as Ryknild Street.

Fancy that Archaeologists Find Relics at Ga. Fort

On a narrow peninsula along Georgia’s marshy coast, archaeologists have uncovered relics from a forgotten piece of American history — the fort where British and U.S. troops waged the final battle of the War of 1812.

Point Peter, where cannons once pointed from the city of St. Marys toward Cumberland Island, fell to British forces days after Gen. Andrew Jackson’s victory in the Battle of New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1815.

The fort was burned down by British troops and its remains had been buried until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers required an archaeological survey by developers of Cumberland Harbour, a 1,014-acre waterfront subdivision being built on the site. Only a state historical marker, placed on the site in 1953, pointed out the fort’s location.

May 19, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:40 pm

Just a couple of items today as our network connection is kinda flaky.

Archaeologists Unearth 5,000-Year-Old Jars

Archaeologists uncovered a 5,000-year-old chamber believed to have been used for the burial rituals of Egypt’s first major pharaoh found a cache of 200 rough ceramic beer and wine jars, Egyptian authorities said today.

The mortuary enclosure of King Hur-Aha, the founder of Egypt’s First Dynasty, also included a cultic chapel where the floor and benches are stained with organic material – probably the remains of offerings made during rituals, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said.

“It is a very important discovery because it would provide us with new information about the First Dynasty,” Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told The Associated Press.

This is probably a very important find. Not much is known about the first three dynasties. The beer jars are common throughout the Old Kingdom and are typically large parts of any site’s ceramic inventory. They’re a fairly crude form of vessel and in tomb contexts were generally used to contain offerings of beer, wine, or just about anything else. They are also found in settlement areas and probably carried much the same sorts of contents. Don’t have any photos, but here are two drawings:

Earliest European 31,000 years old

Fossilised human bones found in the Czech Republic have been dated back to some 31,000 years, which scientists say confirms them as the oldest known examples of Homo sapiens found in Europe.

Austrian and US scientists publish their carbon-dating results in today’s issue of the journal Nature.

An upper jaw, teeth and the skull of a female were found in a cave in Moravia in the 19th century, but scientists have debated how old they are.

Dig near Las Vegas continues to yield fossils

Fifty years ago, 27-year-old archaeologist Charles Rozaire had high hopes he would find clues around charcoal deposits at Tule Springs that could be linked to the earliest humans in North America.

First thought to be evidence of fire pits or hearths, the charcoal smudges that dotted cross sections along the upper Las Vegas Wash in the valley’s north end were near the area where giant animals – camels, horses, lions, bison, bears, sloths and mammoths – roamed what is now southern Nevada 11,000 to 40,000 years ago.

“We were literally scratching the surface,” Rozaire, 77, told students and scientists at a recent Geoscience Summit at Shadow Ridge High School, a 10-minute walk from Tule Springs. The site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is in Floyd Lamb State Park, 10 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Don’t dig in Washington Discovery of bones halts road project near Arlington

Work was halted yesterday on a highway expansion project near Arlington after construction crews unearthed what were initially deemed “ancient” human bones on the north side of state Route 530, near Arlington Heights Road.

It was the latest in a string of discoveries of human remains and ancient artifacts that have halted highway or construction work around the state.

The latest bones found were embedded in the dirt about two feet under a very large boulder, the state Department of Transportation said. Work stopped immediately. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, called to the scene, ruled out the possibility that the site was a crime scene, Transportation Department spokeswoman Jamie Holter said.

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