July 28, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:51 pm

Happy ending Historical agreement will let road work restart on U.S. 101

Archaeologists and the Chinook Indian Tribe have reached an agreement that will allow construction to resume on a waterfront park at the site where the Lewis and Clark expedition reached the Pacific Ocean nearly 200 years ago.

The first stage of the project – the $1.1 million rerouting of U.S. 101 near the mouth of the Columbia River – was suspended in January after Indian artifacts and trade goods were unearthed at the site.

. . .

The artifacts, including stone tools, arrowheads and glass beads, were found during a pre-construction archaeological survey conducted earlier this year.

Although we wonder how ‘historical’ this arrangement will end up being a number of years from now.

Dozens of amateur archaeologists dig into Portland’s past

Curiosity brought Portland resident Fred Frick Jr. to Portland Wharf Park last week to see the latest historic dig.

But yesterday, as Frick joined other volunteers at the park sifting through dirt for bits of pottery, pipes and other pieces of neighborhood history, he reveled in his new role — amateur archaeologist.

“I’ve always loved history. It’s given me a chance to be an adult, get dirty and enjoy myself in my own neighborhood,” he said. “If you like to know where things come from and have a sense of discovery, this is ideal.”

Days when all motorways led to Rome

THE ancient Romans had the equivalent of a modern-day motorway dotted with service stations, archaeologists have revealed.

Stretching 535 miles across Albania, Macedonia and Greece, the stone-paved road made the going easy for charioteers, soldiers and other travellers. Archaeologists excavating along Greece’s ancient Via Egnatia say the road, which was about 30ft wide, came complete with safety features, inns and service stations.

“This was a busy road, and the Romans managed to make it completely functional,” archaeologist Polyxeni Tsatsopoulou said.

Oh dear. . . . Beaker people’s bones to reveal the past

They died 4000 years ago and, for as long as a century, some have been in the care of Aberdeen University.
Now, the skeletons of 23 men and women have been transferred to Sheffield to help reveal the lifestyles of those who lived in the north-east during the early Bronze Age.

. . .

Since the nineteenth century, experts have argued over whether the appearance in Britain of burials with pots – or “beakers” – marked the arrival of continental migrants around 2400-2200BC.

These ancient people have been variously credited with introducing metalworking to Britain, spreading the Indo-European language group and building Stonehenge.

Obviously a very advanced people. Artists’ conception of what a typical Beaker person may have looked like:

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:35 am

CSI: Stonehenge Mystery Man of Stonehenge

The legs were curled in a fetal position, common in Bronze Age burials. An eroded hole in the jawbone indicated that he’d had an abscess; a missing left kneecap was evidence that he’d sustained some horrific injury that’d left him with a heavy limp and an excruciating bone infection. A man between 35 and 45 years of age, he was buried with a black stone wrist guard on his forearm of the kind used to protect archers from the snap of a bowstring. Scattered across his lower body were 16 barbed flint arrowheads (the shafts to which they presumably had been attached had long since rotted away).

The archaeologists started calling him the Amesbury Archer, and they assumed he had something to do with Stonehenge because the massive stone monument was just a few miles away.

Not a bad article. Doesn’t break much new ground, but it’s a good review.

Antiquities Market update U.S. Returns 10-Foot Altarpiece to Peru

A 400-year-old carved and painted altarpiece, 10 feet high and weighing about 1,000 pounds, was returned to the government of Peru on Tuesday after it was stolen from a church in Peru and put on sale in Santa Fe, N.M.

The piece, made between 1575 and 1595, comes from the town of Challapampa, near Peru’s border with Bolivia. Peruvian authorities called it an important example of Spanish colonial art, carved by Pedro de Vargas and painted by Bernardo Bitti, an Italian Jesuit who worked in Latin America.

This seems to be a recent heist rather than something from an excavation, so somewhat limited in its strictly archaeological importance. But, score one for the good guys.

Ancient Iraqi harp reproduced by Liverpool engineers

Engineers from the University’s Lairdside Laser Engineering Centre (LLEC) employed revolutionary laser technology to engrave authentic designs onto Gulf Shell (mother of pearl) – the original material used to decorate the body of the harp.

Dr Carmel Curran, who carried out the work at the LLEC, commented: “This is the first time we have laser processed this type of material and the results are remarkable. It is fantastic to be involved in the recreation of such a piece of history.”

Fight Club, Peru, update Archaeology Magazine has an article in the July/August issue on the feud between Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer of the US and Ruth Shady of Peru. We blogged about this a while back. The problem was that Haas/Creamer did some work with Shady at Caral, then went off to other areas to excavate, published their findings, and Shady felt slighted by their apparent neglect at giving her credit:

Five thousand years later, these shicra bags have led to an intellectual fight to the death between Shady and archaeologists Jonathan Haas of Chicago’s Field Museum and Winifred Creamer of Northern Illinois University, a husband-and-wife team. The hothouse world of Peruvian archaeology is notorious for its spats, but this one has taken the vitriol to unprecedented levels–public insults, a charge of plagiarism, ethics inquiries in both countries, and complaints by Peruvian officials to the U.S. government. Groundbreaking research into the origins of civilization in the Americas is being carried out by two groups that won’t talk to each other or share information, regularly attack each other in public, and, in private interviews, make inflammatory charges about the other’s allegedly shoddy work. Colleagues fear the dispute could make it harder for American archaeologists to gain permission to work in Peru.

Unfortunately, only an abstract of the article is online for non-subscribers. It gives a bit more background to the feud than was reported in newspapers and online at the time. The article seems to place the blame for the bad feelings more onto Shady than the American researchers, though the latter don’t come off blameless either. The tone of the article leaves one with the impression that Shady is difficult to work with anyway, which, given the nature of academia, oughtn’t be surprising. Haas and Creamer are also described by others as of the old mold of EuroAmerican archaeologists: Get in, do what they want, and get out. No real way to tell how accurate these descriptions are, given that they are told from people directly involved with both parties.

We have no real position on this matter (i.e., who’s right and who’s wrong), so we leave it to the reader to decide. It’s a shame that it’s come to this, but it’s probably an inherent danger of doing work in other countries. In the past, when many of these areas were severely underdevloped economically, they were definitely in an inferior position. Now with more development, they are starting to assert their “native rights”, if that is an appropriate term.

Archaeologists have to be far more sensitive to these issues than before. In many cases (Egypt and now Iran spring to mind) the host country is requiring local participation by native archaeologists in any project. This is a good thing, in our view. However, care must be taken not to antagonize either side; archaeology works best as a cooperative affair, and too much dictatorial control by either side will only end in not only feuds like this, but bad research as well. As some of these country’s archaeological corps become more and more professional and they obtain significant funding of their own, the dynamic will change dramatically from times past.

Who knows, maybe some of them will even start coming over to dig up stuff in our own back yard. . . . .

July 27, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:55 pm

Polynesian Express via malaria? The Race against malaria

NEW ZEALAND researchers excavating a 3,000-year-old cemetery at Teouma in Vanuatu say it may offer clues to why ancient voyagers who sailed through Melanesia – creating the Polynesian race – travelled so fast.
One possibility was that they were trying to outrun the worst form of malaria – not realising they were carrying the parasite in their bloodstreams to their new homes along the way, says New Zealand paleo-pathologist Hallie Buckley of Otago University.
Early analysis of the first of the skeletons found late last year has shown the people had a heavy burden of disease-causing organisms, in particular, parasites that cause malaria.
Polynesia – bounded by Hawaii in the north, Rapanui or Easter Island in the east and New Zealand in the south – is malaria-free.

‘Archaeology more than just dead things’

Archaeology is not about old dead things, it is about life.

This was the message yesterday from president of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA) Dr Jay Haviser.

Haviser was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 21st Congress of IACA at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine and he told archaeologists and guests present that it was about the life of the people, the life of the community and the life of a country.

We’re a bit bemused as to what the ultimate end point the current vogue of making archaeology ‘relevant’ will be. On the one hand, it will probably be a great way to get lay-people involved and interested. On the other hand. . . it will probably be a great way to get lay-people involved and interested and ready to demand that only certain results and types of analyses get done. Much argument has taken place, especially in post-processual circles, about how the past is manufactured by analysts. In part, this is certainly true; on the other hand, that also entirely dismisses any possibility of empirical verification. Academics can certainly be intransigent when it comes to discarding their theories, but when larger societal interests and politics are involved (witness the controversy over cannibalism in the southwest), all bets are off. It’s one thing to have to give up your ideas about the timing of agriculture in the southeast, but another to have your cultural mythology blow up in your face.

And along those lines. . . Archaeology project event set in Maine

Dr. Emerson “Tad” Baker will introduce the Humphrey Chadbourne Archaeology Project to volunteers and local history enthusiasts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2 at the Counting House Museum.

The presentation is free and everyone is invited.

Artifacts dating from the circa 1650-90 Chadbourne homestead in South Berwick will be on display. The Counting House is located at Route 4 (Main Street) and Liberty Street.

Not archaeology, but cool Large area of silicified woods discovered in NW China

Archaeologists have discovered silicified woods in northwest China, which experts say date back to about 180 million years ago.

The discovery is of great value for the scientific research on geology, geomorphology and paleobiofossil in the area, archaeologists said.

The woodstones, also called paleobio fossils, are regarded as natural relics that can not be regenerated, archaeologists said, adding that they are important tangible evidence for the study of geography, climate, earth evolution and environment.

This is not a particularly earth shattering discovery, but it caught our eyes because it used the term ’silicified’ rather than ‘petrified’. Both terms are appropriate, but the latter is far more generalized.

News from Mehr Archaeologists announce new discoveries at Soltanieh

The director of the archaeological team working at the Soltanieh Dome said on Tuesday that the team has made important finds during the ongoing process of demarcating the borders of the monument, which has just been registered on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List.

The team unearthed a number of artifacts, such as clay earrings, Ilkhanid era coins, and tile fragments, as well ruins of an architectural structure, Mehrdad Asgarian added.

The architectural ruins include a green stone wall and part of a stone column from a caravansary located near the old Soltanieh bazaar, which resemble the walls of the town’s citadel.

Video alert WPA ARCHAEOLOGY: LEGACY OF AN ERA

American history and archaeology converge in this film, which examines the economic, scientific and cultural impacts of a massive work relief program conducted across Kentucky during the Great Depression. The WPA archaeology program was much more than the jobs it created: it laid the foundation for today’s understanding of Kentucky’s diverse prehistoric American Indian cultures. Some of America’s best and brightest young archaeologists supervised the WPA’s projects, which gave badly needed employment to an army of workers.

This apparently only deals with Kentucky, but the WPA is responsible for a lot of the archaeology that occurred in the US earlier last century. It would be difficult to underestimate the impact of the WPA on the development of Americanist archaeology. For more:

Photo archives along with some historical data: WPA/TVA Archaeological Photographs at Tennessee.

CSI: Chevelon Pueblo

Stone-cold ashes, stone-cold case

Talk about a cold case. The ashes of 100 suspected arson fires in this river valley just east of Winslow cooled more than 600 years ago.

Archaeologists and fire investigators have sifted for clues through some of the burned buildings on the hills above Chevelon Creek, and last week they set new fires to simulate historical ones.

They want to know who set fire to 100 rooms of this 500-room pueblo and why they did so – answers valuable to the Arizona State Museum’s 21-year effort to paint a picture of life in a 20-mile stretch of the Little Colorado River in the 13th and 14th centuries.

July 25, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:56 pm

Schlong time, no see

Okay.

We have pictures of the German phallus posted below. Real pictures, not fakey Artists’ Conceptions pictures, so stop reading right now if you are at all “into” that sort of thing.

So, here it is, in its full approximately 20cm glory:

BBC story to go along with it.

Highlights:

Its life size suggests it may well have been used as a sex aid by its Ice Age makers, scientists report.

“In addition to being a symbolic representation of male genitalia, it was also at times used for knapping flints, explained Professor Nicholas Conard”

“It’s highly polished,”

We just can’t think of anything else to add here.

Well, okay, yes we can. But we won’t.

Probably.

“I’ve found it at last!” Professor Conard ejaculated.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:08 am

Pottery update I Pioneer pottery – pieces of the past

Two archaeologists from Michigan are bringing to light a fascinating period of Salt Lake City’s history.
Back then, the creations of pioneer craftsmen were so prized that residents paid more for them than for imported goods. Children hung around pottery shops, swapping information about clay deposits for marbles that the potter made. And the best way to store food was to preserve it in sealed ceramic crocks kept in ice houses.
“This is an amazing site, and we’ve worked really hard to get just to this point,” said Timothy James Scarlett, assistant professor in the relatively new field of industrial archaeology. Based at Michigan Technical University in Houghton, he called the dig exciting, satisfying and provocative.

He’s got a draft web site on his project as well. Not sure what ‘industrial archaeology’ is supposed to mean though; sounds like regular old historical archaeology to us.

Village will take visitors back to the Iron Age

In three or four years’ time, when the bread is in the oven, the animals in the field, and the whitethorn hedges in bloom, the Iron Age village of Cinderbury should look really good, its creator says confidently.

Unfortunately the first Iron Age villagers arrive in a fortnight – and by then all the creators can say for certain is that the roof should certainly be on at least one house, and the oven may well be fit to bake bread in.

Heh: A few compromises have had to be made: the guests will subsist on daily food parcels rather than being given a live pig, a blunt knife and a sharpening stone.

We fear few moderns would really be able to cope for more than a week or so living a real existence of even a couple hundred years ago. Unless they had to. Or unless there was a chance to win a million bucks. Say, listen up all you TV execs in the audience: Survivor: Iron Age Europe. Or maybe Survivor: Late Woodland Eastern North America.

This could work. . . .

Pottery update II Archaeologists unearth oldest known Cham pottery furnaces

Archaeologists have discovered ancient pottery furnaces, the oldest ones discovered so far, of the ethnic Cham people in southernmost central Ninh Thuan province’s Ham Thuan Bac district.

Oldest pottery vestiges unearthed at the 500 sq.m. excavation site date back to the turn of the 10th century, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Nucleus Technique Centre .

Treasure! Archaeologists Find Vault of Rich Thracian King in Southeast Bulgaria

A group of archaeologists of the National Historic Museum found a large vault, where a rich Thracian ruler had been buried, near the village of Zlatinitsa (southeastern Bulgaria, in the region of Yambol). The find dates back to 4th century BC, director of the museum, Professor Bozhidar Dimitrov said for FOCUS News Agency.

Much more here.

Duke husband-and-wife archaeologists renowned for decades of field studies

The excavators were turning up tesserae, small bits of colored tile, that told Eric and Carol Meyers a mosaic probably lay beneath.

The Duke archaeologists and a team were digging in a banquet hall of a Roman-style villa at Sepphoris, four miles from Nazareth and not far from the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It was July 2, 1987, a Friday afternoon.

Mexican Archeologists Find Rare Sacrifice

Archeologists digging through an Aztec temple say they’ve found a rare child sacrifice to the war god, a deity normally honored with the hearts or skulls of adult warriors.

The child found at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor ruins was apparently killed sometime around 1450, in a sort of grim cornerstone ceremony intended to dedicate a new layer of building, according to archaeologist Ximena Chavez.

Priests propped the child – apparently already dead, since the sand around him showed no sign of movement – in a sitting position and workers packed earth around his body, which was then covered beneath a flight of stone temple steps.

These sorts of finds are proving invaluable, as the article suggests, in evaluating the veracity of the early Spanish chroniclers’ descriptions of Aztec and other often gruesome practices.

Book review The Story of the Iraq Museum

We all know what happened, or think we know. When American troops entered Baghdad in April 2003, hordes of looters rushed into the Iraq Museum, repository of the world’s greatest collection of Mesopotamian antiquities, and stripped the place while our GIs were busily pulling down Saddam statues for CNN.

The truth, wouldn’t you know it, is a bit more elusive.

Not clear how much of this book is looking at the recent history of the museum.

Ancient stone phallus found in Germany

A stone phallus 28 000 years old has been discovered in a cave in Baden-Wuertemberg in southern Germany, according to archeologists with the University of Tubingen.

In assembling 14 stone fragments found last year in the Hohle Fels cave, archeologists rebuilt the phallus, which is 20cm long and 3cm wide.

We decline the opportunity to make any sort of off-color commentary on this story.

And we will definitely NOT be posting any of our famous Artist’s Conception pictures of what the ancient phallus may have looked like.

But along those lines anyhow. . .
We couldn’t let this little story go un-posted since it involves sports, sex, and archaeology. . .you know, three subjects that few, if any, reasonable people would ever think to associate with archaeology and/or archaeologists. (Although from what we’ve heard — heard, mind you, and we leave open the question of whether that is a good or a bad thing — many field projects make MTV’s The Real World look like a summer camp for ugly teenagers in terms of hormone-driven OCD behavior):

Lid off Warne’s latest ‘sexploit’

There seems to be no end to Warne’s off-field “sexploits” with a woman accusing the star leg-spinner, on the eve of the ongoing first Ashes Test, of pleading with her to urge his wife Simone to join in threesome sex sessions in a bid to save his marriage.

[Eds. We roughly understood the first and last portions of that. You know, not being devotees of that whole "Cricket" business.]

Warne’s proposal came on June 21, just weeks after his wife and their three children had moved to Britain to be with him, a daily reported.

[Eds. Just wait, the archaeology tie-in is coming. . . .]

Rebecca Weedon, a 20-year-old archaeology student revealed that the Aussie cricketer coached her on how to get unwitting wife Simone to agree to the session by pretending to be an obsessed fan who stumbled across the couple in a bar.

[Eds. That usually works, yes. "Hey, honey, you can just see how earnest this young fan is. It would mean so much to the poor thing. . . ." ]

Weedon said Warne tried to convince her that he was doing it to save his 10-year-old marriage which was on the brink of collapse.

“But then he said they were giving it another try and thought a threesome might help,” she was quoted as saying.

[Eds. Threesomes are recommended by four out of five marriage counselors for clients whose marriages are on the brink of collapse.]

“He had scripted the whole lot, what he wanted me to say and do. He said he would take his wife for a drink and I was to come over pretending to be a starstruck fan.

“I didn’t say no. I don’t think I said anything, I was just so shocked.”

[Eds. That's exactly the sort of response we many men count on.]

But wait! There’s more!

Warne’s wife speaks up

Breaking her silence, the estranged wife of spin great Shane Warne has said she was shocked to know about the sexploits of her “stupid” husband and was forced to take the heartbreaking decision.

. . .

“I was in shock. I was numb. I said to him: ‘How could you be so stupid?’”

It’s those wily archaeologists. Even the young green ones have this mysterious effect on otherwise sensible people, whether it be to encourage them to risk their marriage and family life for a little bit of nookie, or by arguing that strict methodological formalism will create a set of theories easily tested by existing data without recourse to the formulation of new analytic units within the empirical strictures dictated by the new paradigm.

Pity the poor man. Undone by what appears to be a conniving post-processualist-to-be.

July 21, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:23 pm

A note to our readers While we appreciate that ArchaeoBlog readers may often be quite attractive, and while we will happily admit — either explicitly or implicitly through the posting of a (reasonably G-rated) picture or two of, say, Keira Knightly or Raquel Welch attired in appropriate period costume — that certain public figures may warrant special attention paid to their apparent physical allure, we have learned from our elders in the blogosphere and will (probably) not refer to anyone we actually know as “inredibly hot”.

Chinese beer update A mature, 9 000-year-old brew

The alcoholic brew is said to be gold in colour with a white head, similar to champagne bubbles, and with a “very intriguing” taste and aroma.

They made and sold a batch of Tut beer several years ago. Perhaps we’ll be seeing this right next to the old Budweiser soon. . . .

Also from IOL Acropolis to be unveiled after huge face-lift

A major face-lifting project which kept ancient monuments on the Acropolis hill shrouded in scaffolding for years – to the dismay of camera-toting tourists – will be finished by the end of 2006, Greek culture ministry officials have said.

Work on the Parthenon and Athena Nike temples, as well as the massive Propylaea gate – all built in the mid-5th century BC at the height of ancient Athenian glory – is part of a massive restoration and conservation project first launched 30 years ago.

Such extensive work would no doubt have to be done (and maintained) before the British Museum would even think of giving back the Elgins.

Archaeology survey of Goss Moor

The Highways Agency has highlighted a new road in Cornwall as an example of its commitment to Archaeology Week.

The agency said although work has started to ease the bottleneck on the A30 at Goss Moor, it is to survey aspects of an ancient settlement.

The site includes a rare ‘fossilised’ landscape, with walls, banks and hedges untouched since medieval times.

Researching old Iceland

Icelandic State Radio RÚV reports that over 30 archaeological research projects are taking place around Iceland.

The Archaeological Heritage Agency of Iceland, established in 2001, is the central authority for protection and management of archaeological monuments and sites in Iceland. According to its website the mission of the agency is to “safeguard the Icelandic cultural heritage and render it intact to future generations. To achieve this, the main focus of the agency is on in-situ preservation of archaeological monuments and sites, to increase public awareness and access to the cultural heritage, and on promoting research.”

The website appears to be here but it’s all in Icelandic.

This seems like a good idea Little archaeologists in Çatalhöyük

A one-month summer workshop that will have a total of 800 children assisting in excavations at Çatalhöyük in Konya’s Çumra district — one of the oldest settlements in the history of mankind � was launched on July 10 with the initial participation of 32 children from a primary school in the district.

Gülay Sert, coordinator and archaeologist at the site, said this is the first project involving children at the excavation, which has been under way for 12 years, adding that two international corporations are supplying sponsorship for the educational project.

Free registration required, or use archaeoblog|archaeoblog. Get ‘em started early. . .

6,000-Year-Old Graves

During preliminary work for a desalination plant on the coast at Palmachim south of Tel Aviv, construction workers discovered a number of well-preserved round and rectangular structures ranging from 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 meter) in size.

Protected over millennia by sand dunes, they turned out to be graves dating to the Chalcolithic period (4000 BC). Up till now, this type of burial place was unknown on Israel’s coast. Archaeologists also discovered two-foot-long (60 cm.) ossuaries (burial boxes), beautifully trimmed and finished. With more than 50 burial places uncovered, archaeologists are planning further excavations before the site is opened to the public.

That’s the whole thing.

Sell long to avoid excessive taxes Don’t sell the Bible short

The Israel Museum turned 40 this year. A glossy 54-page celebratory advertising supplement arrived with my Friday Jerusalem Post on July 8. I don’t usually read advertising supplements. This one I did. I was saddened by it because of what was missing and what was suggested for the future.

My sadness comes from finding the Bible mentioned only three times in the booklet (one in an antiquity dealer’s ad).

This is an opinion piece on the apparent removal of Biblical references from many (all?) museum pieces. We find ourselves in certain agreement with the author on this, primarily from the perspective of this quote: “Biblical associations, the story can be told that Israel has deep physical and spiritual roots in this land, that the Bible and archaeology can – but not easily or always – illuminate each other.” While it is often dangerous to rely too heavily on textual and other epigraphic information in forming ideas about the past, ancient literature remains an important source of data and when used wisely and with appropriate skepticism. People relate far better to the written word — which, let’s face it, in this case also makes up a large portion of the cultures associated with three of the world’s major religions — and this probably makes disparate collections of objects far more understandable to the public at large.

Archaeology on the move Roadside archaeology traveling display at museum

More than 50 years of roadside archeology are on display in Carlsbad.

A traveling exhibit from the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Laboratory of Anthropology at the Museum of New Mexico, entitled “Roads to the Past: Fifty Years of New Mexico Highway Archeology,” will be on display at the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center through Aug. 27.

We’ll post the weekly EEF news tomorrow.

July 20, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:37 pm

Saloon Archaeology update

Last Friday we posted an item on Saloon archaeology from Virginia City, NV. Kelly Dixon was kind enough to forward the web address of a site that contains more background information: VIRGINIA CITY’S BOSTON SALOON. This is a funding prospectus from before excavations started, but it provides the backstory to the work. Especially interesting is the African American aspect, which ought to be of interest to many.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:13 pm

Scads of news today. Sadly, we have little inspiration to comment on any of it. But the Ashkenazi and Kennewick stories are ripe for analysis. Go ahead, commenters.

Kennewick Man update A Skeleton Moves From the Courts to the Laboratory

The bones, more than 350 pieces, were laid out on a bed of sand, a human jigsaw with ancient resonance. Head to toe, one of the oldest and best-preserved sets of remains ever discovered in North America was ready to give up its secrets.

The hip and skull of Kennewick Man went through high-resolution scans in Chicago. Those three-dimensional pictures were used to produce plastic replicas of the bones, above. American Indian tribes had planned to bury the skeleton, but a federal magistrate’s ruling in 2002 cleared the way for scientists to study it.

After waiting 9 years to get a close look at Kennewick Man, the 9,000-year-old skeleton that was found on the banks of the Columbia River in 1996 and quickly became a fossil celebrity, a team of scientists spent 10 days this month examining it.

Not much in the way of conclusions, just a bit on the excitement of the researchers. Cool skull pic though:

More from Newsweek.

Did Discrimination Enhance Intelligence of Jews?

Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Leonard Bernstein, Saul Bellow, to name a few, all shared European Jewish ancestry.

Known as Ashkenazim, this ethnic group is blessed with more than its fair share of talented minds.

But they are also prone to a number of serious genetic diseases.

Researchers now suggest that intelligence is closely linked to such illnesses in Ashkenazi Jews, and that the diseases are the result of natural selection.

There are a huge number of comments that could be made on this. The one in particular that struck us was the whole natural selection angle, which seems kind of weak.

Ancient beer update 9,000-Year-Old Beer Re-Created From Chinese Recipe

A Delaware brewer with a penchant for exotic drinks recently concocted a beer similar to one brewed in China some 9,000 years ago.

Sam Calagione of the Dogfish Head brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, used a recipe that included rice, honey, and grape and hawthorn fruits. He got the formula from archaeologists who derived it from the residues of pottery jars found in the late Stone Age village of Jiahu in northern China.

Sifting through the past

Beneath a bluff by the Rhode River, oyster shells are falling out of the bank, which is eroding so readily that several big trees have toppled into the water.

Atop the sandy bluff, archaeologists are digging holes, and the ones close to the water contain fragments of shells and pottery at least 1,000 years old.

“Oysters don’t have legs, so somebody brought them up here and ate them,” said Al Luckenbach, Anne Arundel County’s chief archaeologist.

Homo hobbitus update Archaeologists dispute Indonesia bones

The bones in the limestone cave had been buried for more than 12,000 years when the archaeologists found them. The villagers say they belonged to sinners who drowned in the biblical Great Flood.

“The people in the cave were condemned by God years ago,” said Stanislaus Barus, 60. “They had lots of sins, according to the Old Testament. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and the condemned people took refuge in the cave.”

The Indonesian and Australian archaeologists who began unearthing the remains in Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores two years ago have come to a more scientific, if no less sensational, conclusion: They say the bones belong to a tiny, previously unknown, species of human.

Not much new here except for the news that any further excavations in the Liang Bua have been shut down for the time being.

CSI: All Over the Place Bone woman digs up remains to foil killers

At first glance, Clea Koff, a beautiful young woman with the height and grace of a fashion model, does not look like someone whose passion involves digging up bodies from mass graves.

But as a forensic anthropologist, that is where her work takes her.

“It’s important that people who may be dead, lying by the side of the road or in a clandestine grave, be allowed to incriminate their killers,” Koff said.

The missing persons database described in the article (actually just mentioned in passing) seems like an idea well worth pursuing. It seems logical to institute a nationwide database of unidentifiable remains with basic age/sex/race characteristics that can be searched and matched with a missing persons database.

Found: axe to grind Excavation yields ax thousands of years old

A Saginaw County man thought he was simply digging a basement for the house he would eventually build on Snowy Lane in Bridgeport Township.

But the hole Arthur A. Shaft opened up in 2000 turned out to be an archaeological dig of sorts, too.

The Saginaw County Historical Society last month confirmed that the object was a barbed stone ax head left behind by Indians 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.

That’s a quiper Peruvian ‘writing’ system goes back 5,000 years

Archaeologists in Peru have found a “quipu” on the site of the oldest city in the Americas, indicating that the device, a sophisticated arrangement of knots and strings used to convey detailed information, was in use thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

Previously the oldest known quipus, often associated with the Incas whose vast South American empire was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, dated from about A.D. 650.

But Ruth Shady, an archaeologist leading investigations into the Peruvian coastal city of Caral, said quipus were among a treasure trove of articles discovered at the site, which is about 5,000 years old.

Whoops. Stonehenge tunnel plan cash blow

The government is to re-examine plans for a road scheme aimed at diverting traffic away from Stonehenge after the cost of the project doubled.

The scheme, which includes building a tunnel for the A303 near the ancient Wiltshire site, was estimated to cost £183m when it was announced in 2002.

But now the government says the project will cost around £470m

Archaeologists excavating clues of Ridges Basin

Fresh data indicate that the ancient inhabitants of Ridges Basin southwest of Durango were there for a much shorter time than previously thought, the archaeologist in charge of excavation said.

“Tree-ring analysis shows there were two distinct periods of occupation,” Jim Potter said on Monday during a tour of the Sacred Ridge, the most significant settlement. “There was a late Basketmaker II period from 200 to 400. After a long hiatus, the area was occupied from 750 to 800 at which time there was a very abrupt abandonment.”

Tree-ring analysis of wood found in pit houses indicates no wood later than the year 803, with intense use of the area in the period 775 to 800, Potter said.

Antiquities Market update Artifact hunting popular as Missouri River level drops

It’s against the law to take anything from federal parks or protected land. That includes driftwood, plants, and even rocks. Some federal land is prime hunting ground for Native American artifacts. Even more so now, along the banks of the Missouri River.

Artifacts such as arrowheads, points and scrapers are exposed because of low river levels due to a five-year drought. Looters are hitting the jackpot, and law enforcement is cracking down.

July 19, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:57 pm

Just a couple of items today.

Archaeologists Peel Away More Layers of Butrint

More than 2,000 years after Julius Caesar came here for provisions and decided to start a veterans colony, a new army has invaded — a multinational force of archaeologists in what is perhaps the largest ongoing dig in the Mediterranean.

Led by Professor Richard Hodges of the University of East Anglia in England, 100 archaeologists from 19 nations, 60 Albanian undergraduates and dozens of local laborers are rotating in over the course of this summer’s two-month digging season.

This is an update on info from yesterday. This seems like a great project we hadn’t heard about before now. They seem to have a small web site set up for the excavations. There are some papers accessible online (follow the Publications link) but other than that, little data, or so it appears.

Dam it! DAMMING THE EUPHRATES

In June 2000, the world media gave extensive coverage to the flooding of the Euphrates River behind a dam in southeast Turkey. As the waters rose, Zeugma, an important Roman city containing high quality mosaics, was inundated in the Euphrates’ depths. At the same time, towns and villages disappeared beneath the new lake. Raising questions of government policies and sustainable development, this film tells the story of the mosaics as well as that of the displaced people, some of whom turned to antiquities trafficking to replace lost income.

Links to video presentations of other subjects as well.

What would a day be without news from Mehr? Unusual Iron Age steles discovered in Ardebil Province

Over 500 stone steles bearing images of faces of men and women with no mouths were recently discovered at Shahr Yeri in Ardebil Province, the director of the team of archaeologists working at the site announced on Tuesday.

Alireza Hojabri Nuri added that the steles are arranged one after another in the form of a wall and date back to the Iron Age.

Shahr Yeri is located near Pirazmeyan village, 32 kilometers off of Meshkin Shahr in Ardebil Province.

That’s it. We’ll post more if any comes in over the wires.

July 18, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:02 pm

Biblical Scroll Fragments Found in Israel

A secretive encounter with a Bedouin in a desert valley led to the discovery of two fragments from a nearly 2,000-year-old parchment scroll — the first such finding in decades, an Israeli archaeologist said Friday.

The finding has given rise to hope that the Judean Desert may yield more treasures, said Professor Chanan Eshel, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv’s Bar Ilan University.

We’re supposedly panting, but if anyone is, it’s the Biblical people.

Research answers, raises questions

Paul Shackel doesn’t want to do archaeology solely to dig up stuff.

“I want to do archaeology that’s socially relevant to a larger community,” Shackel said. “We need to move beyond what we already know. We need to start looking at different angles, the larger context.”

Shackel, head of the Center for Heritage Resources at the University of Maryland, oversees a summer field school at the New Philadelphia site in Pike County. A $226,500 National Science Foundation grant brings nine students to the site for three summers.

Many issues in this story ripe for comment, but we’re not going to today.

Archaeologists find artifacts in Greene

The hills of Greene County are beginning to come alive with the sounds of history.

Once thought to be a dormant area with little historical value, archaeologists and historians have recently uncovered a rich substrata of the area’s past dating back thousands of years.

And they intend to share their findings with members of the public during a meeting at 10 a.m. Monday.

Greene County Museum and Historical Society president James Dunnam said he approached county commissioners about three years ago with the idea of transforming the fourth floor of the county courthouse – an abandoned jail – into a historical museum.

We think this story is also covered here.

Boy Scouts, historical society, NCC join forces in local archaeology dig

The back yard of a Darien barn doesn’t sound like the most logical place for an archeological dig.

But for members of the Darien Historical Society and the Norwalk Community College Archeology Club, the possibility of finding clues to past lives is tantalizing.

Yesterday, Ernie Wiegand, a professor and coordinator of the school’s archeology program, led the groups on a dig at 714 Post Road between the spot where the 1736 Bates-Scofield house once stood and where its barn remains.

Archaeologists conduct historic dig

Led by Professor Richard Hodges of Britain’s University of East Anglia, the dig is part of a decade-long project to learn how society was transformed at the end of the classical period of ancient Greece and Rome, the Washington Post reported.

Of special interest, Hodges said, is the Albanian city of Butrint, since during 3,000 years, successive civilizations made that city their home. Hodges said Butrint was first settled between 1000 and 800 B.C., and its location along major trade routes gave it importance.

The city, in turn, was Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine. Then the Venetians and Ottomans built forts to protect the city. During the 5th century Butrint had a population of as many as 20,000, he said.

One of the more interesting finds so far is what’s believed to be the first ceramics found in the central Mediterranean dating from the Middle Ages, Hodges said.

That’s the whole thing. More here.

Update from Pompeii Archaeologists Unveil Pompeii Treasure

Decorated cups and fine silver platters were once again polished and on display Monday as archaeologists unveiled an ancient Roman dining set that lay hidden for two millennia in the volcanic ash of Pompeii.

In 2000, archaeologists found a wicker basket containing the silverware in the ruins of a thermal bath near the remains of the Roman city, said Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, head of Pompeii’s archaeological office.

More Chinese tombs Ancient tombs discovered in Chongqing

Archaeologists have discovered agroup of ancient tombs dating back nearly a thousand years ago at a highway construction site in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality.

Experts from the municipal archaeological and cultural relic institute said Monday most of the tombs were built during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and that the discovery provided “important tangible evidence” for the study of the culture and traditions as well as the ancient funeral customs in the area.

Fight! Fight! Egypt Demands Return of Pharaonic Reliefs

Egypt demanded that institutions in Britain and Belgium return two pharaonic reliefs it says were chipped off tombs and stolen 30 years ago, threatening Sunday to end their archaeological work here if they refuse.

The 4,400-year-old reliefs, taken from two tombs uncovered in 1965, are currently at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Britain and the Catholic University of Brussels. A request has been sent to both seeking their return, Culture Minister Farouq Hosni said in a statement.

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