June 20, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:28 am

Many, many items to catch up on. We’ll be perusing the wires and get to the EEF news from last week later. See below for a bit more on Kennewick Man and a new paper being published on Polynesians visiting Southern California.

Slavery archaeology update Archaeologist attempts to find slave quarters on Coosaw Island

Evidence of early slave life may rest just across the Coosaw River under a foot of earth.

On Wednesday morning, archaeologist Dan Battle, with help from colleagues, used a ground-penetrating radar device in an attempt to locate slave cabins in a field on David Smith Community Center grounds on Coosaw Island.


Cultural Heritage Minister Rocco Buttiglione considers a “European archaeology charter” necessary. According to the minister Italy can give the example to the rest of Europe preparing a “detailed archaeological charter of our territory to plan the conservation and appreciation of our immense heritage. Italy must become the European leader to launch the project of a European archaeological charter to help in the conservation, tutelage and appreciation especially of countries that entered the European Union last.”

That’s the whole thing.

Archaeologists launch long-term dig in W.Va.

Archaeologists have begun a three-year project unearthing the ruins of the U-S Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, in West Virginia.
They hope to find artifacts from buildings leveled after the Civil War.

Marsha Wassel is a spokeswoman for the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. She says the armory employed some 400 people in two rows of buildings divided by a 70-foot-wide street.

Fight! Fight! WASTE PLANT: Public concern grows

WORRIED residents have delivered protest letters to the council about plans to build a giant waste plant in Peterborough.

The move comes the day after The Evening Telegraph revealed the plans to build the waste plant could prove disastrous for Flag Fen – regarded as one of the most important Bronze Age archaeological sites in Europe.

If it is built, the controversial £220 million Global Olivine waste recycling site will be the biggest of its kind in Europe.

Plan your barbecues now National Archaeology Week

From Saturday 16th to Saturday 24th July over 250 archaeological events will take place up and down the UK.

With over 250 events already registered from right across England and Wales, National Archaeology Week running from Saturday 16th to Saturday 24th July will be the biggest archaeology festival ever.

We were wondering what was happeing in Mehr Iranian, Japanese archaeologists to study Neolithic caves at Tang-e Bolaghi

A team of Iranian and Japanese archaeologists is to study two Neolithic caves located at the ancient site of Tang-e Bolaghi in Iran’s southern province of Fars, an expert of Iran’s Archaeological Research Center announced on Saturday.

“According to an agreement signed between the Archaeological Research Center and the University of Tsukuba, several Iranian archaeologists and eight experts from the Japanese university will begin work at the site next month,” Karim Alizadeh added.

“Due to the dearth of studies on Iranian Neolithic caves, the upcoming studies on the two caves will be very important,” he noted.

Mohr from Mehr Archaeologists’ efforts to study Isfahan’s Atiq Square hindered by construction activities

Badly planned construction activities at the historic site of Atiq Square in Isfahan in recent decades have prevented Iranian archaeologists from identifying old strata of the site for renovation, an official of the Isfahan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department said on Saturday.

“The buildings have spoiled all the old strata at the site, but the few recent excavations have determined that the square was a very big site with only a few structures, because we could find no remarkable ruins even in the intact strata,” Mohsen Javari added.

Remains of prehistoric plant found Shandong

Chinese archaeologists said Tuesday that they found remains of 30 kinds of plants dating back 8,000 years in east China’s Shandong province.

The remains were found near the construction site of an international exposition center in the coastal city of Qingdao.

Zhang Zhigang, expert with China Paleontology Society, said a team of archaeologists had been digging for ancient plant remains since the end of last year when they first found remains of a 10-cm-long reed at the site. He said the discovery is a breakthrough and will provide evidence for human evolution research.

Non-archaeology, but relevant USS Arizona’s vigor tested

Divers are collecting information to help experts determine how fast the USS Arizona is deteriorating.

The battleship sank on Dec. 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The remains of more than 1,100 crewmen remain entombed under the USS Arizona Memorial.

“Collapse is inevitable, but by all indications, it is not imminent. It could be decades,” said Matthew Russell, an underwater archaeologist who is heading the six-member team.

Apparently, the wreck contains an awful lot of fuel still on board which has been oozing out very slowly over the years. Once the structure collapses, however, it all could go gushing into the harbor. It’s a tricky situation since it’s basically sacred ground and would take an awful lot of disturbance (we assume) to study and remove the remaining oil.

Update: More here.

Yes, indeed Egypt’s other pasts

Although Egypt stands at the crossroads of continents and civilizations, images of pyramids, The Sphinx and mummies dominate, eclipsing its other historic cultural and religious strands.

Now attempts are being made to redress the balance and to put the Pharaonic period in context through an ambitious renovation project in Cairo and a series of cultural events in the United States.

Tourism has flourished under the watchful eyes of the Pharaohs with the majority of foreign visitors being attracted by the prospect of viewing ancient tombs and temples.

But this rather blinkered view of Egypt’s past has been criticized because it overlooks the county’s debt to the heritage of the Greeks, Romans, Copts and Islam.

Much is true in that story, and some efferts at rehabbing many of the Coptic and Islamic monuments (i.e., buildings mostly) have been going on for some time under the auspices of several foreign agencies, along with their Egyptian counterparts.

This is interesting Excavators find ancient urban settlement in south Kashmir

Excavators have stumbled into the remains of a bustling ancient urban settlement in Anantnag district of south Kashmir with tiled pavements ‘stamped in colourful human and animal motifs’ and inscriptions in the now defunct Karoshti script.

“The remains of the civilisation fanning over several hectares of land was discovered during an exploration of the area by a team of the J&K Archaeology Department,” Archives Archaeology and Museum Deputy Director Mohammad Shafi Zahid said.

He said archaeology assistants Ehsan-ul-Haq, Ghulam Rasool Teli and Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat were excavating the area when they came across ‘surface evidence of the civilisation’.

Kennewick Man update Kennewick Man to be studied in Seattle

Scientists say they are wrapping up final arrangements to study Kennewick Man’s remains in early July at University of Washington’s Burke Museum in Seattle.

The 9,400-year-old skeleton found along the banks of the Columbia River in 1996 has been the focus of a bitter nine-year court battle between the federal government, Mid-Columbia Native American tribes that claim the bones as their ancestor and the scientists who want to study the remains.

Scientists from around the country plan to convene in Seattle for about two weeks early next month to conduct the research, said Alan Schneider, Portland-based attorney for the scientists.

Did ancient Polynesians visit California? Maybe so. Scholars revive idea using linguistic ties, Indian headdress

Scientists are taking a new look at an old and controversial idea: that ancient Polynesians sailed to Southern California a millennium before Christopher Columbus landed on the East Coast.

Key new evidence comes from two directions. The first involves revised carbon-dating of an ancient ceremonial headdress used by Southern California’s Chumash Indians. The second involves research by two California scientists who suggest that a Chumash word for “sewn-plank canoe” is derived from a Polynesian word for the wood used to construct the same boat.

The scientists, linguist Kathryn A. Klar of UC Berkeley and archaeologist Terry L. Jones of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, had trouble getting their thesis of ancient contact between the Polynesians and Chumash published in scientific journals. The Chumash and their neighbors, the Gabrielino, were the only North American Indians to build sewn-plank boats, a technique used throughout the Polynesian islands.

It’s a decent article, but it fails to go into any details on why the original paper was rejected (i.e., the specific criticisms). We are concerned about basing this on a few similar-sounding words. . . .

Egyptian glass Ancient Glassmakers: Egyptians crafted ingots for Mediterranean trade

When pharaohs ruled Egypt, high-status groups around the Mediterranean exchanged fancy glass items to cement political alliances. New archaeological finds indicate that by about 3,250 years ago, Egypt had become a major glass producer and was shipping the valuable material throughout the region for reworking by local artisans.

This discovery settles a more-than-century-old debate over whether ancient Egyptians manufactured raw glass themselves or imported it from Mesopotamia, say Thilo Rehren of University College London and Edgar B. Pusch of the Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim in Germany in the June 17 Science.

June 17, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:17 am

Video corner

Supposedly, there is a streamable version of Steve Martin’s ‘King Tut’ skit from Saturday Night Live here but we can’t get it to actually play.

More later.

June 16, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:45 am

Let’s get the show on the road King Tut returns to dazzle

Pharaohs may never have found the glorious afterlife they were expecting, but one thing about ancient Egypt is eternal — the popularity of King Tut.

The Boy King — and his bling — return to the United States 26 years after his treasures dazzled 8 million museum visitors and created a new category of cultural event: the museum blockbuster.

Even by today’s over-the-top standards, the Tutankhamun collection is staggering. This time, curators of “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs” are packing displays with more than twice as many gold and jewel-encrusted artifacts from the world’s most celebrated archaeological discovery. There are 50 objects from the pharaoh’s tomb and 70 more from the graves of his noble relatives. All the artifacts are at least 3,300 years old.

CBS article here and check out the photo essay.

NPR’s take here.

Yahoo! has a similar photo montage:

“Eh, the CGI ones in “Mummy” were way cooler. Cuz, you know, they moved.”

Heeeeey, where are that camel’s eyes pointing. . . . .

Aaagh! It’s a walking, dessicated. . . oh, uh, never mind.

Um, how about that, another JLH picture. . . .

Fancy that, Zahi’s there.

Okay, last one. Promise.

Okay, back to something resembling reality. . .

Ancient structures found near highway

For the first time archeologists in Norway have been able to reveal a large surface area linked to known helleristninger – rock carvings – and the dig has produced results.

Traces of two 12-15 meter (39-49 foot) long constructions have come to light in the middle of the key area for rock engravings in Østfold County, near Solbergkrysset in Skjeberg. A few meters to the side of the longhouses lies a large stone bearing carved drawings of a great ship and a rider on a horse.

“Before we had indications of a dwelling from a posthole. But the find of two fine longhouses is much more than we could have dared to predict,” said archeologist Gro Anita Bårdseth of the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo and head of the E6 project.

Not much else coming across the wires today.

June 15, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:58 pm

Book corner All Wrapped Up

ALTHOUGH PRACTICED BY other civilizations, mummification is most popularly associated with the ancient Egyptians. Our modern fascination with the mummy is only too apparent in the crowds that flock to the Egyptian Museum to gawp at the wizened remains of long dead pharaohs, or the enduring popularity of certain B-rate horror movies of which they are the spine-tingling focus.

Apparently the human mummy is only just part of the story, for not only did the ancient Egyptians also mummify their animals, they did so in industrial quantities. Animal cemeteries at places such as Tuna al-Gebel, Saqqara, Bubastis and numerous other sites have yielded animal mummies that number in the millions and yet have received relatively little attention. Divine Creatures Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt, edited by American University in Cairo (AUC) Egyptology Professor Salima Ikram, does much to redress this imbalance though it remains, in the most positive sense, very much still a work in progress.

We here at ArchaeoBlog can readily testify that Dr. Ikram is indeed a delightful lecturer, and if this book reads anything like her personal style, it ought to be an excellent read. We’ve worked with Salima in the field and we swear that if her energy could be bottled up and sold, the Saudi royal family would be back to living in tents following herds of sheep within a month or two. She obviously loves her work, more importantly is good at it, and has that rare ability to be both entertaining and informative at the same time. Not to mention utterly charming and with a truly wicked sense of humor.

She also has a rather keen sense of what may be causing various bowel afflictions among furreigners in Egypt and what to do about them. This skill should not be underestimated.

Salima in the field:

Salima working very hard in the field:

Not Salima, but a cute picture of our site dog. Named him ‘Pavarotti’ because he didn’t bark, he just whined like he was singing. Hit with the lady dogs, too:

Roman ‘dumping ground’ unearthed

Roman remains unearthed from the site of a former car park in Croydon have sparked speculation that other ancient artefacts could lay undiscovered close by.

Archaeologists say the Roman dumping ground’ unearthed during an excavation of a former car park in Lower Coombe Street could be an indication of an occupied settlement nearby, which may be hidden under houses or businesses.

Americans Help Excavate the First Ever Academic Town of Iran

The ancient city of Jondi Shapur, the first ever Iranian academic town, will undergo a series of excavations by a joint team of American archaeologists from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and Iranian experts.

Jondi Shapur is located in the southern province of Khuzestan and was a major academic town at the time of the Sassanid dynasty. When Islam entered Iran, many scholarly texts began to be translated from Pahlavi language into Arabic, transferring the Iranian knowledge to the Arab world.

Body found. . . again Indian Remains Unearthed At Tabernacle–Again

Crews doing seismic retrofitting of the Salt Lake Tabernacle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have unearthed remains believed to be those of an American Indian that were first found in the 1960s and then re-interred.

Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday that those remains dated back before the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in 1847.

“The bones were offered for reburial at that time to Native American tribes in the area, but because a tribal identification could not be made, they declined the offer,” Trotter said. “Under the direction of a Native American spiritual leader, the remains (at that time) were re-interred in a concrete vault where they were discovered.”

Finally, Thierry Benderitter sends us this web site alert:

There is now a new publication on OsirisNet: the 3D virtual visit of queen
Nefertari’s tomb, one of the most beautiful in Egypt.

The URL in English: http://www.osirisnet.net/3d-tours/qv66/e_qv66-tour.htm
and in French: http://www.osirisnet.net/3d-tours/qv66/qv66-tour.htm

June 13, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:06 pm

Breaking news! ArchaeoBlog refuses to care about what the Michael Jackson jury decides

And a couple items of interest.

Is there anything the Chinese didn’t invent first? China resurrects world’s earliest seismograph

Chinese seismologists and archeologists have announced that they’ve created a replica of “Didong Yi,” the world’s first seismograph.

The announcement in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province, also home to the seismograph’s original inventor Zhang Heng (78-139 AD), came almost two months after the device passed relevant appraisal and examination by a scientific committee in April.

Seven scientists in seismology, archeology and mechanical engineering from Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Museum and China Earthquake Administration confirmed that the replica was a “historic step” towards complete reconstruction.

“We believe the newly restored seismograph model is the best at present,” said Academician Teng Jiwen, a research fellow at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China’s top scientific research body.

We’re guessing the bikini. Which automatically puts us light years ahead, culture-wise.

GIS technology being used to preserve City of Alexandria Archaeology Museum maps

Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology (CGIT) in the National Capital Region, has announced that it will collaborate with the Office of Historic Alexandria to digitally preserve important historic maps for the Alexandria Archaeology Museum beginning with the area outside of Old Town Alexandria where archaeological resources are most threatened by expanding development. Direct funds from the City of Alexandria in addition to a grant from the Historic Alexandria Foundation will allow Virginia Tech CGIT to develop a framework for a Historic Alexandria Digital Atlas based on Geographical Information System (GIS) technology.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:23 am

Dig at old Tucson home yielding finds dating back hundreds of years

An archaeological dig at one of Tucson’s oldest homes is yielding artifacts dating back hundreds of years, including a a musket ball, gun flints, bones and pottery.

The dig at the so-called Triplex building, Tucson’s fifth-oldest home, is being done under contract with the city’s downtown revitalization project.

The home will be used as a museum in the project, said Homer Thiel, project director of Desert Archaeology and a local authority on the Tucson Presidio period, 1775 to the mid-1850s.

Mysteries of the Xiaohe Tombs in Xinjiang, China

On April 17, 2004, the Xiaohe (“Small River”) Tombs in Xinjiang Province, discovered in 1939 by Swedish archaeologist Folke Bergman, were said to be among China’s top 10 archaeological discoveries. According to a Guangming Daily report from April 23, public interest in the tombs was first sparked when Bergman published a detailed introduction to the Xiaohe basin archaeology called the Archaeological Researches in Xinjiang in Stockholm in 1939.

However, when the tombs’ landmark Xiaohe River dried up, the public essentially forgot about the tombs for several decades. It was not until more than 60 years later, on Dec. 11, 2000, that a Chinese member of the Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute entered the Lop Nor Desert with a global positioning satellite and found the Xiaohe Tombs once more. In March 2005, the comprehensive excavation successfully ended.

Bronze ornament found at Iran’s Bardak Siah

A bronze eagle ornament symbolizing the Achaemenid dynasty and an ivory handle of a dagger have been discovered at the Darius Palace at Bardak Siah by a team of archaeologists working at the2500 -year-old site, the director of the team announced, MNA reported.

“It seems that the ornament was placed on the tip of an Achaemenid flagpole. Verdigris must be removed from the surface to determine its use during that era,” Ehsan Yaghmaii added.

Lost civilization. . .found! Found: Europe’s oldest civilisation

Archaeologists have discovered Europe’s oldest civilisation, a network of dozens of temples, 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

More than 150 gigantic monuments have been located beneath the fields and cities of modern-day Germany, Austria and Slovakia. They were built 7,000 years ago, between 4800BC and 4600BC. Their discovery, revealed today by The Independent, will revolutionise the study of prehistoric Europe, where an appetite for monumental architecture was thought to have developed later than in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

We’re kind of suspicious of the dating here and the lack of any apparent scholarly publications on these things. Bears close watching.

Some items from Zahi Hawass’s web site:

About the Neferhotep statue (you can read the cartouche on these pics)
– Tutankhamun Facial Reconstruction
Lists the names of the teams’ members (but mislabels one model)
– Abydos Reveals Some of its Secrets
About the second mud-brick mortuary enclosure of king Hor-Aha

Mayan crypt reveals power of women (Subscription only)

Archaeologists have entered a long-sealed crypt in Guatemala to find an ancient murder scene. The tomb, in the ancient city of Waká, contains the remains of two women, one pregnant, arranged in a ritual tableau.

Researchers say the young, wealthy women were probably slaughtered as part of a power struggle between Mayan cities. And that, they say, sheds new light on the role of women in the Mayan culture 1,600 years ago.

“This tomb tells us that women were extremely powerful,” says Dorie Reents-Budet, a Maya specialist who works for the Smithsonian Institution from North Carolina. “When there were political disagreements, women were killed.”

Pre-Clovis update Dig may change beliefs on early peoples

These days, on the banks of the dry Middle Beaver Creek, Janice McLean gets excited about tiny rocks.

It was Friday afternoon, just after lunch, and volunteer archaeologists at this dig site had uncovered one of the largest finds of the weeklong dig: a stone about the size of a nickel.

. . .blah blah blah. . .

This year’s dig has taken on new importance based on radiocarbon dating results completed in February. The tests showed that mammoth and prehistoric camel bones found at the site dated back to 12,200 years ago.

The bones appear to have tool marks made by humans, who probably broke the bones apart to extract marrow for food or to make bone tools, said Steve Holen, curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum.

This site will likely have problems with the artifactual nature of the bones and whatever context exists between the dated material and the undoubted artifacts.

Did someone say. . .Mehr? Iranian, U.S. experts to excavate ancient academic city of Jondishapur

Experts of the Archaeological Research Center of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago plan to conduct some excavations at the ancient academic city of Jondishapur next year, the director of the center announced on Sunday.

“Since a major part of Jondishapur has been damaged by farming over the years, we intend to save the ancient site through this project,” Dr. Masud Azarnush added.

Life from 2,000-year-old seed in Israel

Israeli doctors and scientists have succeeded in germinating a date seed that is nearly 2,000 years old.

The seed, nicknamed Methuselah, was taken from an excavation at Masada, the cliff fortress where, in A.D. 73, 960 Jewish zealots died by their own hand rather than surrender to a Roman assault.

The point of growing the seed is to find out what was so exceptional about the original date palm of Judea, much praised in the Bible and the Koran for its shade, food, beauty and medicinal qualities, but long ago destroyed by the crusaders.

That seems really interesting. Shorter blurb from MSNBC here.

Roman mosaic ‘worthy of Botticelli’

A SPECTACULAR Roman mosaic discovered in Libya has been hailed as one of the finest examples of the artform to have survived.

British scholars yesterday described the 2,000-year-old depiction of an exhausted gladiator as one of the finest examples of representational mosaic art they have seen — a masterpiece comparable in quality with the Alexander mosaic in Pompeii.

Mark Merrony, an archaeologist who specialises in Roman art, said: “What struck me was the realism of the depiction. It’s absolutely extraordinary.

June 12, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:18 am

Controversy! King Tut-a-Comin’
Old Black Eyes is back, and his new tour is generating ticket sales—and controversy.

King Tut has been kicking up dust ever since British archeologist Howard Carter discovered his treasure-filled, 3,000-year-old tomb in 1922. That notorious unearthing—it supposedly unleashed a curse that doomed several people around the dig—inspired Hollywood horror movies and spurred on the art deco craze. The boy king’s first U.S. tour, which began in 1976, was epic pop: it launched the era of museum blockbuster shows, with unprecedented crowds craning to see the tomb’s gold and jeweled artifacts, while the cash registers ca-chinged in the nearby souvenir stalls. When you’re talking Tut, the line between scholarship and showmanship has always been pretty thin.

We think this is mostly a non-issue blown out of proportion in a search for conflict. From the article, it seems as if the only people upset at this is the Met in NYC which isn’t getting it because they have rules that don’t allow themj to charge extra for special exhibits. And, if David Silverman (himself a respected Egyptologist) can be believed, this exhibit will be more than just showing off all the gold and shiny doo-dads; it also contains objects from other tombs and, so Silverman says, puts Tutankhamun’s reign in some context. About anything anyone remembers from the last Tut Tour is the gold mask, which won’t even be here for this one.

The LACMA ticket sales are described as “huge” so it appears that the high ticket prices may not be affecting sales. Still, this probably needs to be watched as time passes at each stop.

And we couldn’t leave without relaying this important story: Giant balls of ’snot’
explain ocean mystery

June 10, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:24 pm

Sorry about the delay. Busy dat crunching numbers all over the place.

N.C. bill would check criminal backgrounds before archaeology

Excavators who search North Carolina’s waters and substrates for historical artifacts should be checked for criminal backgrounds to make sure they aren’t likely to pilfer relics, the state’s chief said Thursday.

His requests earned the support of a Senate judiciary committee, which unanimously approved a bill allowing state archaeologist Stephen Claggett to demand criminal background checks before issuing a permit to anyone who wants to dig or dive for artifacts.

The state Department of Cultural Resources is now only able to judge whether an archaeologist is professionally qualified, not whether he’s a crook, Claggett said.

More stiffs More graves discovered on U.Va. land

More than a decade after the discovery of a 19th-century cemetery on U.Va.-owned land, archaeologists have found two more graves and more artifacts that likely belonged to free blacks, the university announced yesterday.

“This is a significant archaeological site in my opinion,” said Benjamin Ford, an archaeologist with Rivanna Archaeological Services, which is exploring the site for the University of Virginia. “We want to know where all the graves are and identify their locations.”

And still MORE Workers find skeletal remains

Some Colonie town workers dug up more than just dirt on the job.

The town historian said that while digging for a waterline on Route 32 near the Menands border, workers found human skeletal remains.

Archaeologists were brought in to take a closer look. It was determined that the location near Schuyler Flatts is a burial site dating back several hundred years.

This isn’t the first time remains have been found in that area. It also happened back in 1998.

As of right now, the sewer project is on hold.

That’s the whole thing. Try clicking the video link for the actual video of the story, but no more info is in it.

And now. . . .the weekly news from the EEF

So much for a glorious immortality. . . . Press report: “Grime in Egyptian jar is the remains of long-dead priest”
“For the past 36 years, an Egyptian jar has stood in the collection of the Royal Pump Room Museum, in Harrogate (…). Experts at York University, led by Dr Stephen Buckley, have established the residue in the canopic jar is cholesterol from human remains. (…) The hieroglyphs mention a priest called Djediufankh. The testing also confirmed the Egyptians had sterilised the body and entrails using alcohol as an antiseptic. And for the first time, science has been able to show that the alcohol used was date palm wine, confirming descriptions given by classical authors such as the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.”

Press report: “Stolen relics to return”
“Switzerland has recently become party to an international agreement on the prevention of antiquity smuggling. (..) Hawass explains that in the course of the next few weeks the Egyptian government is due to take measures to retrieve Egyptian antiquities that had been smuggled to Switzerland in the past.”

Press report: “Lifting the lid on ancient Egypt”
“Fuyuki Matsumura, curator of the Nagoya City Museum, (..) explained that by keeping a stock of standardized sculptures of body parts handy, Egyptian artisans could create statuary on demand. If they were carving on a massive scale, they could use
grids to project the idealized shapes of the small models onto their monumental finished products.”
[Eds. This makes sense. A lot (most?) of their art work was fairly uniform and in a sense utilitarian. So it seems reasonable that much of the production would be standardized.]

Online version of: Shin Maekawa (ed.), Oxygen-Free Museum Cases, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, CA, 1998. xii, 71 pp. – pdf-file: 1.7 MB
“… the Getty Conservation Institute has been involved in projects that deal with oxygen-free environments as a means of preventing the deterioration of sensitive organic materials. The royal mummies of Egypt, the original documents of the Constitution of India, and the Royal Proclamation Charter for Hudson’s Bay Company, Toronto, are the most notable examples of cultural objects conserved in this way … This book covers the results of that research and its applications presented by several of the principal participants in the project.” Some chapters deal with the
conservation of AE mummies.

Online version of: Stuart Tyson Smith, Uncovering an Extraordinary World.
Archaeologists in Sudan excavate with laser precision, in: Point of Beginning, November, 2003, pp. 22-25
pdf-file (2 MB): http://snipurl.com/fga1
html: http://snipurl.com/fg9z
“As lead archaeologist for an expedition to excavate this site, I had the rare opportunity to make some exciting discoveries and just as importantly demonstrate the power of today’s most advanced laser and infrared surveying devices in some of the most challenging conditions. The ruggedness and efficiency of these tools has changed the way I and my team do our jobs – offering new capabilities that allow us to work smarter, more accurately and with less disturbance to the site.”

Online version of: William R. Thompson, Trade Pulsations, Collapse, and Reorientation in the Ancient World, Paper prepared for the annual meeting of American Schools of Oriental Research, Denver, Colorado, November, 2001. – 44 pp., pdf-file: 190 KB
“This analysis focuses on two hypothesized patterns of the longer stripe – one is about millennium-long movements toward and away from center concentration and center deconcentration while the other addresses the implications of slightly shorter, periodic crises in the ancient world … As usual, the problem reduces to the typical social science problem: how well do the hypothesized patterns seem to fit the observed data?”

Olga Kosheleva, Vladik Kreinovich, Egyptian Fractions Revisited, Technical Report UTEP-CS-05-01, January 2005 [University of Texas at El Paso, Department of Computer Science] – 6 pp., pdf-file: 115 KB
“It is well known that the ancient Egyptians represented each fraction as a sum of unit fractions – i.e., fractions with unit numerators; this is how they, e.g., divided loaves of bread. What is not clear is why they used this representation. In this paper, we propose a new explanation: crudely speaking, that the main idea behind the Egyptian fractions provides an optimal way of dividing the loaves. We also analyze the related properties of fractions.”

Press report: “Matthew Kelly to star as strongman for Egypt adventure series”
“Matthew Kelly is to star as Italian circus strongman and explorer The Great Belzoni in a new drama-documentary series about Egypt for BBC1 this autumn.” [Eds. We mostly can't stand docudramas.]

End of EEF news

June 9, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:07 am

Historical dig at bypass site

AN archaeological dig will be carried out on the route of the A66 Temple Sowerby bypass.

Work on the £23 million bypass is due to start in the summer but may be delayed if remains are found in the dig.

A hi-tech survey has been carried out to detect underground features which indicate walls, ditches or the remains of homes.

The new bypass is designed to remove 95 per cent of traffic from the village, improving safety and reducing noise from 15,000 vehicles a day.

David Cochrane, project manager for the Highways Agency, said: “We know the area has a long and interesting history, for example there is a Roman milestone near the east end of the village, so we wait with interest to see what might be found.”

About 70 trenches will be dug by Oxford Archaeology North over a four week period. They will consult the county council’s archaeologists to decide what should happen to the finds.

That’s the whole thing.

Beheaded skeletons found in tombs

Two skeletons without skulls, buried together in the same tomb, have bewildered archeologists in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, who are trying to uncover the centuries-old mystery.

Though headless, the skeletons were otherwise well-preserved, said Ma Fenglei, an archeologist with the Chifeng City Museum who headed the excavation. “Even the copper bracelets and rings they wore remain intact,” he said.

It was one of the 13 tombs recently discovered in Songshan Mountain on the city’s outskirts. The other 12 tombs contained just one human skeleton each, Ma said.

Archeologists, History Buffs, Homeowners Swap Ideas On Preserving Our Past

For the rest of the week, archeologists, historians and anyone interested in protecting our past are gathering for an annual conference. There’ll be sessions to help homeowners, like Annette Campbell, who’s doing her own projects in the Presidio Neighborhood.

“This keeps a little piece of our history that we get to share with generations after us,” said Campbell.

It’s all worth it, she says, even though it takes hard work and patience.


A brooch dating back more than 2,000 years has been discovered in a field which will soon be a rugby pitch for students in Truro.

A team of archaeologists have uncovered the remains of two Iron Age settlements buried below the Truro College playing field which will soon be shared with pupils from the new Richard Lander School.

The team from Cornwall County Council’s Historic Environment Service (HES), led by James Gossip, is currently carrying out an archaeological excavation at the playing fields in advance of construction work for the new Fal Building at the college.

It is the biggest unenclosed settlement found in Cornwall and the work is being funded by Truro College.

Not much for now. The weekly EEF news will be out later on and we may get to blog that.

June 8, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:15 am

A bevy of both archaeological and semi-archaeological news items today.

But first, some sad news to report:

Wayne Prescott Suttles, 1918-2005: Indian culture ‘his life’s work’

His works are considered the foremost references on Northwest Indian culture:

Observations that have served as the basis for landmark court rulings in two countries; fieldwork that has revived traditions and tongues thought forever lost; and analyses that have helped to prove that peoples deemed long extinct still, in fact, live on.

Wayne Prescott Suttles, a soft-spoken scholar who in recent years walked with the aid of a cane, for decades stood high above the specialized field of Coast Salish anthropology as its towering figure.

Now, the man regarded as “the greatest living ethnographer of the Pacific Northwest” lives no longer.

Suttles unfortunately suffered from the same general lack of recognition as northwest coast history and prehistory. Which is unfortunate because the area has many unique adaptations. The main problem is a general lack of large monuments or settlement structures, not a lot of pottery, and a damp climate that tends to degrade a lot of material.

Ancient DNA Confirms Single Origin Of Malagasy Primates

Yale biologists have managed to extract and analyze DNA from giant, extinct lemurs, according to a Yale study published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

. . .

Living lemurs comprise more than 50 species, all of which are unique to the island of Madagascar, which is the world’s fourth largest island and east of Africa. Evolutionary analysis of the DNA obtained from the extinct giants reveals that they, like the living lemurs, are descended from a single primate ancestor that colonized Madagascar more than 60 million years ago, Yoder said.

Excellent example of adaptive radiation.

Prehistoric Decline of Freshwater Mussels Tied to Rise in Maize Cultivation

USDA Forest Service (FS) research suggests that a decline in the abundance of freshwater mussels about 1000 years ago may have been caused by the large-scale cultivation of maize by Native Americans.

In the April 2005 issue of Conservation Biology, Wendell Haag and Mel Warren, researchers with the FS Southern Research Station (SRS) unit in Oxford , MS, report results from a study of archaeological data from 27 prehistoric sites in the southeastern United States.

It would probably be more compelling if there were more information on how diet changed over time. Purely random collection of different shellfish seems a bit unusual.

Tut update King Tut reigns again

Here’s America’s true summer blockbuster: The Return of King Tutankhamun. And like Star Wars, it’s bigger, louder and way more expensive than the original nearly 30 years ago, when the boy king toured the USA to universal acclaim. This time in Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, Tut returns as a blazing comet of spectacle — and unprecedented $30 tickets. When the four-city, two-year U.S. tour opens June 16 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, it will be preceded by a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign the likes of which no American museum has ever mounted.

“I’m not sure there’s so much difference between Tutankhamun and Celine Dion,”

No. We just can’t. . . . . .

Tse-whit-zen Site teaching Klallam tribe `who we were, who we are’

Phillip Charles never figured he’d find himself making stone fish hooks and knives from deer bone.

But after six years of working a cash register, at first one mini-mart, then another, then a gas station, Charles took a job at the Tse-whit-zen archaeological site.

They need a new name. ‘Tse-whit-zen’ just doesn’t have enough caché, like Thebes or Rome. Kinda like Çatalhöyük.

Cave Bear DNA Sequencing Could Be Boon for Human Evolution Studies

Scientists have succeeded in retrieving and sequencing nuclear DNA from the bones of an extinct cave bear. The method they used could conceivably be applied to ancient human remains, such as those of Neandertals.

Ancient DNA has been recovered from human bones in the past. In 1997 Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues extracted and sequenced DNA from a Neandertal bone. The team worked with DNA from the mitochondria, the cell’s energy-producing organelles, which have their own DNA that is passed along from mother to child. Because cells have multiple mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is far more common than nuclear DNA in fossilized remains and thus easier to recover in sufficient amounts for analysis. But there are limits to what mtDNA can reveal about extinct species. Nuclear DNA is what researchers have been waiting for, though many have doubted the feasibility of obtaining it.

Additional material at Nature, National Geographic, and DIscovery.

Probably will have more later today.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress