August 18, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:46 pm

Okay, so we decided to switch browsers from Firefox to Netscape because FF kept completely crashing Winblows — completely and on a regular basis (which, you know, isn’t really happening because Micro$oft keeps telling us XP is sooooo much better than any previous version that it hardly ever completely crashes anymore) — but try as we might we just could not get NS configured to let whatever stupid cookie it needed to let us log in to

We swear it was easier to just freakin’ log into a BBS on a Vax and post a message.

So anyway, we’ll be back posting tomorrow (Friday).

August 17, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:28 am

Couldn’t get this to post yesterday, so here is Tuesday’s installment. More later.

The paradigm of blogging update Derek Lowe is Blogging About Science Blogging:

But with a few extra minutes to explain what we were trying to
do and why, they could appreciate what was going on. And they could see
that it wasn’t easy, and that we often didn’t know why things were
happening, and that we had to wait a long time between chances to run
around high-fiving each other. Considering how television and movies treat
science (which, to be fair, could be the only way to treat it for the
purposes of mass entertainment), knowing these things was a real step up.

So when I found out about blogging, I didn’t hesitate very long before
jumping in. Here was a chance to do just the kind of thing I did when
talking to people one-on-one, but for as many visitors as cared to stop
by. It sounded like just what I’d been waiting for, and it still is.

That’s another good reason for blogging by scientists: Communicating what
you do in somewhat simpler terms to non-colleagues. And with the amount of
time and space we can use, it’s a far better medium in many ways than
either sound-bite television programs or even various print media. Plus
you have the possible interaction with readers who want to know more or
who have additional information to contribute.

uncover Roman graveyard in Austria

Archaeologists said Saturday they have unearthed a large
Roman-era burial ground in the western Austrian city of Wels that
contained at least 50 skeletons, numerous urns and coins.

The graveyard, believed to date to 2 or 3 B.C., was discovered about a
year ago during excavation to build an office complex and an underground
parking garage, said Renate Miglbauer, the archaeologist in charge of the

Book review Object

In Gold & Gilt, Pots & Pins, David A Hinton demonstrates how
even the most everyday items can communicate history, writes Jane Morris

. . .

Enthusiastic digging for ancient treasure is not a recent phenomenon. In
renaissance Rome it was almost a national obsession. The Farnese family
removed most of the fabulous sculptures from the 3rd-century AD Baths of
Caracalla, then largely intact, to decorate their palaces. In the 1700s,
the king and queen of Naples picked out the choicest finds from the new
excavations at Pompeii. What no one cared about was the stuff of every
day: the wine jars and tweezers, the broken cups and coins. It was the
one-off, eye-popping pieces of art that mattered, not the sum of hundreds
of bits of mundane detritus.

Modern archaeology has changed all that, along with the growing
realisation by museums and historians that most of us want to know how
people like us lived. Archaeologists researching pre-history have relied
on all kinds of domestic finds, not just the beautiful and rare, since Lt
Gen Pitt Rivers started sifting through the ancient rubbish pit on his
estate in the 1880s.

Sounds like an interesting book. Also, anything that advances the idea
that the only thing of interest to archaeology is really cool stuff made
for kings and emperors and stuff is probably a good thing. Seems aimed at
professionals rather than the lay readership though.

Conference kicks off on rain-soaked day

Familiar with working in every type of weather condition
imaginable, the abundant rainfall this morning proved no match for
hundreds of archaeologists who converged at Overlook Park in White Rock
for the annual Pecos Conference.

The weekend conference serves as an educational forum and exchange of
ideas and research findings among archaeologists and historians from a
plethora of academic specialties.


Dig reveals
more of isles’ bloody history

NEW evidence of bloody clan battles at a medieval stronghold
in the Western Isles has been unearthed by archaeologists.

A team from Glasgow University has revealed a fortified settlement on Dun
Eistean, a sea stack on the north-east coast of Lewis, thought to have
been a refuge and spiritual home for the Clan Morrison 400 to 800 years

The discovery of musket balls, a lookout tower and a defensive wall around
the perimeter of the island points to battles with the Morrisons’ fierce
rivals, including the Macaulays.

James Peterson murder update Three
suspects charged in death of archaeologist

Police in Brazil arrested a man and two teenagers Monday in
the killing of an American archaeology professor who used to teach in
Maine, saying the three were drunk and high on cocaine when one of them
shot James Petersen in an Amazon rain forest town.

Petersen was chairman of the University of Vermont’s anthropology
department and professor from 1983 to 1997 at the University of Maine at
Farmington, where he founded the school’s Archaeology Research Center. He
was shot to death while dining in a small restaurant Saturday with
colleagues, including a UMF friend working on the same

What a sad way to go. Shot to death by some drunk, high punks.

P.S – The Cango cave dwellers haven’t missed so much in 80 000 years

The earliest inhabitants of the Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn
would have been surprised to learn that they were living 80 000 years
before modern man, and not a mere 10 000.

“I could have sworn we were much nearer civilisation than that,” one of
their philosophers might have said, while sharpening his stone knife.

But 21st century archaeologists have just found implements in the entrance
area of the caves that pertain to the middle Stone Age. I can see the cave
philosopher once again disputing this.
“What do you mean ‘middle’?

Heh. Cute.

August 15, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:20 pm

Strange non-archaeological story Earth punctured by tiny cosmic missiles

The first was on the morning of October 22. Seismometers in Turkey and Bolivia recorded a violent event in Antarctica that packed the punch of several thousand tons of TNT. The disturbance then ripped through Earth on a route that ended with it exiting through the floor of the Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka just 26 seconds later – implying a speed of 900,000 mph.

The second event took place on November 24, when sensors in Australia and Bolivia picked up an explosion starting in the Pacific south of the Pitcairn Islands and travelling through Earth to appear in Antarctica 19 seconds later.

According to the scientists, both events are consistent with an impact with strangelets at cosmic speeds. In a report about to be submitted to the Seismological Society of America, the team of geologists and physicists concludes: “The only explanation for such events of which we are aware is passage through the earth of ton-sized strange-quark nuggets.”

While we adore archaeology and think highly of it as an academic discipline, we just plain ain’t got nothin’ on this sort of thing.

Via Instapundit.

Back to archaeology:

Excavations reveal late Roman and early Byzantine workshops

Excavations from a Princeton University team that started on June 8, 2005, and were wrapped up a month later at the western coastal town of Polis Chrysochous, revealed use-levels of the second and first centuries BC, above which were late Roman and early Byzantine workshops. Right at the surface were sporadic traces of use in the twelfth century.

According to a Cyprus Department of Antiquities press release, the short season was limited to work in one area within the village in which years of excavation had revealed remains of the Archaic-Classical city of Marion overlaid by the late Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine city of Arsinoe.

Hmmmmmm. . . Ancient shards found in Persepolis sewage system

Archaeologists working at the Persepolis Complex recently discovered 100 shards in the ancient sewage system beneath Persepolis.

The director of the team said on Saturday that the earthenware fragments were discovered during sediment removal operations.

“The discovered items are similar to the earthenware presented by Achaemenid (Empire) delegates at Apadana Hall. They are yellow and bear no special patterns,” Alireza Asgari added.

Apparently, the real story here is not the sherds themselves, but the fact that archaeologists are going to attempt to make at least part of the ancient sewer system functional again to help drain water away that is undermining the structure. That is pretty neat in and of itself.

This seems like a good thing Building a Modern Partnership on Relics

Mexico and Egypt share a rare historical distinction: a superabundance of monumental pyramids and other relics of ancient civilizations. But although foreign experts have helped lead the exploration of Egypt’s rich archeology for more than a century, specialists from Mexico have never been invited. Until now.

For the first time, a Mexican archeological team has been selected by Egypt’s top antiquities authorities to work in the famous Upper Nile Valley.

The group was chosen to refurbish the so-called Tomb of Puimre, or TT39, one of the country’s most important unrestored burial chambers.

We’re not sure how comparable the two situations are but this paragraph seems to indicate they have similar problems:

“The tomb has problems similar to those of our pyramids and churches in that it was made with limestone,” said Manuel Villarruel Vazquez, an architect whose specialty is structural restoration. “That rock is strong like glass but can break as easily, and several ceilings are cracked.” He currently is restoring a Toltec pyramid that dates from AD 600 in Queretaro, about 100 miles north of Mexico City.

Oye. Bad news from Brazil UVM professor killed in Brazil

A University of Vermont anthropology professor on a research trip to Brazil was killed Saturday during a robbery in a rainforest town near the Amazon River, an American Embassy spokesman said Sunday.

James Petersen, 51, of Salisbury, Vt., died in the confrontation in a restaurant in the town of Iranduba, said the spokesman, John Wilcock. Iranduba, home to about 35,000 residents, is about 1,650 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.

Very sad. Our condolences go to family, friends, and colleagues.

The Tse-whit-zen saga continues Tribe sues state, demands reburial of its ancestors

In a class-action lawsuit, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe has accused the state of Washington of knowing and willful desecration of Indian graves, and demanded reburial of its ancestors.

The suit, filed yesterday in Thurston County Superior Court, demands the state allow reburial of 316 cedar boxes containing the remains of ancestors dug up during a state Department of Transportation construction project in Port Angeles. The site was home to the largest Indian village ever found in Washington.

The tribe also wants the state to return some 2,000 truckloads of material taken by state contractors to a nearby landfill, and screen a portion of that for human remains, as promised in an agreement under which the construction project proceeded.

We have a feeling that sifting all that junk will probably end up being decided in court as it will cost a good deal of money to screen 2000 truck loads of dirt.

Discoveries rewriting Missouri history

An archaeological dig that has helped rewrite the prehistory of Missouri is weeks away from completion.

Work at the Big Eddy Dig site started in 1997 after collectors reported finding hundreds of arrow and spear points over the last 30 years in an area near a bend of the Sac River, north of Stockton Lake.

Over the years, remains from every major period of human habitation have been discovered at the threatened site. The edge of the dig is about five feet from the river, and the dig site is expected to be washed away in the next year or two as large volumes of water are released from the lake to generate electricity.

Reading the past in Dorset artifacts and vintage pop cans

Their houses now lie in the path of a road that leads to a popular fishing spot.

But 4,000 years ago, Dorset Inuit lived at Qilulukan, named after the whales that still travel past.

This summer, a group of Inuit youth tried to learn about the people who used this site, located near Salmon Creek about two kilometres from the present-day community of Pond Inlet.

We recall our days doing CRM work out here in the West and the one phrase we absolutely hated to hear was “Look, it’s a can dump.” But, we expect can dumps to be a topic of someone’s dissertation someday (if it isn’t already) so we seek not to disparage the topic.

Lewis & Clark + remote sensing update Technology lets researchers map explorers’ camp

Two hundred years after the explorers Lewis and Clark camped in present-day The Dalles on their way to the Pacific Ocean, advanced technology may let archaeologists pinpoint the exact spot where they pitched their tents.

Debate over the true location of the Corps of Discovery’s encampment has centered primarily on three riverfront sites: the mouth of Fifteenmile Creek, the mouth of Mill Creek and the site of the present-day Rock Fort Park.

But now, a combination of satellite photography and ground-penetrating radar is pointing to Rock Fort Park.

There’s tons of items out there, but this will do for now.

August 13, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:07 am

New blog alert

Well, not new exactly, but new for us: Mark Morgan’s Egyptology News Blog. Another link-oriented site should provide readers with more reports on things-Egyptological from the UK and environs. We’ve put the link over to the left for ready access.

August 12, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:17 pm

No blogging yesterday as we were on 3 hours of sleep and had too many things to do. Busy today, too, so we’ll just post a few items and get to the EEF news and some other commentary tomorrow. Big changes are being planned for ArchaeoBlog as well, with a probable change of venue and format.

Ruins of lonely Mesopotamian city still stand

Over 2 000 years ago this thriving Mesopotamian oasis city welcomed caravans of camels carrying travelers between East and West, twice held back Roman invaders, and was famous for its tolerance of different religions.

Now Hatra sits in ruins in a vast desert. Parts of its giant temples, columns and arches are still standing under the incessant sun but its city center is probably visited by more rabbits than people. Around it stands a nation still struggling to heal ancient grievances between feuding religious and ethnic groups, hoping to revisit high points in its history where the roots of civilization once sprouted.

Ancient find unearths history of French city

Remains from the neolithic era (about 5600 BC to 4000 BC) have been found in the southern French port city of Marseille, local archaeologists reported on Wednesday.

Excavations near the city’s railway station unearthed flints, shells and fragments of pottery.

According to the regional daily newspaper La Provence it is the first time a neolithic site has been found in the city.

Archaeologists Seek Buried NYC Settlement

Archaeologists are digging with electronic fingers into the soil of Central Park to learn more about Seneca Village, a vanished 19th-century settlement of poor folks — blacks, Irish immigrants and others — that existed before the park landscapers arrived in the 1850s.

A team of scientists from Barnard College and City College of New York launched the two-day effort Wednesday, using ground-penetrating radar to probe selected areas of the site that once covered roughly two blocks and was home to as many as 260 people.

OOOOOooooo. . . . Fire Temple Discovered in Sabzevar

Archaeologists have discovered Sabzevar second fire temple which dates back to the Sassanid era.

Mir Mozaffar fire temple which is recently registered as a national Iranian heritage is the second fire temple discovered in Sabzevar after Azar Barzin.

When computer geekdom and archaeology collide Inca Accountancy Ties Archaeologists in Knots

Archaeologists believe that mysterious knotted strings used by the Incas may have been ledgers used by accountants to keep track of the ancient civilization’s South American empire.

Known as khipu, the strange strings have long confounded academics. Until now, researchers have been unable to decipher the unusual codes of the khipu, which can consist of thousands of complex knotted patterns.

Hmmm. We were kind of expecting some Linux angle on this as it’s found on Well, the Inca were probably Linux types rather than Win- or Mac-heads.

No reason, we just made that up.

Italian archeologists on trail of ancient warships

Italian archaeologists believe they are on the verge of finding the ancient ships downed in the battle of the Aegates Islands more than 2,000 years ago thanks to modern technology and a police tip-off.

“This project has an enormous historical value, but perhaps more important is the relevance for archaeology,” Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s chief of marine culture, told Reuters on Friday.

“What we find will help us understand how wars were waged at that time and how battleships were built.”

China strives to cut damage to cultural heritage in water diversion projects

When modernization meets ancient relics, the balance of favors leans to the former in today’s China, a country where problems such as poverty and shortages of energy seem more urgent than protecting cultural heritage.

But many insightful Chinese have begun to worry that if current trends persist there will be too little cultural heritage left to future generations.

The debate has attached itself to the on-going massive project of diverting water from the south to the north, which will affecta reservoir of precious Chinese cultural artifacts, as it courses through the hinterland of China’s ancient civilization.

Archaeologist digs up the history of Nevada mines

If only Fallon resident Bill Davis’ shoes could talk of the sod he’s trod.

Davis, a certified archaeologist and world traveler, has turned his interest to historic Nevada mine sites in his third and latest publication, “Historic Site Studies: Spectral Mining Camps.” His most recent work, released six years ago, explored historic sites in Churchill County.

The book is an exposé of his decade-long field research across the Silver State’s aging mining sites. With layman’s language and hand-drawn illustrations, Davis chronicles the few remaining artifacts left behind in once booming mining operations.

Skeletons to be examined

An archaeologist will examine the skeletal remains of up to 15 people found by construction workers in Vaughan, north of Toronto.

The discovery was made Wednesday after the crew dug down about two metres while widening the road. The remains are likely those of native Indians, said professor David Smith, a University of Toronto archaeologist who will not be examining the skeletons. At this point, the ossuary is most likely associated with a Huron group, he said.

If it is a native burial ground, community leaders will be notified and consulted on the proper course of action, Vaughan Mayor Michael Di Biase said.

Hurons are known to have lived in North York and Vaughan from 1400 to 1550.

That’s the whole thing.

Polynesian Californians update Cal Poly, UC Berkeley Experts Link Polynesians and California Indian tribes

A Cal Poly professor has helped lead a discovery of archaeological and linguistic evidence that points to Polynesians landing in Southern California between 400 and 800 A.D. and sharing their boat-building skills with Chumash and Gabrielino Indians in the region.

Social sciences associate professor Terry Jones and UC Berkeley lecturer Kathryn Klar led the project.

Absolutely nothing new there, so no real reason to click. There’s a link at the bottom to the older, more detailed story though.

August 10, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:40 pm

Atlantis found. . . . .again Study: Atlantis Sinking Has Scientific Basis

Plato’s account of how the fabled city of Atlantis sank below the surface of the ocean does have scientific grounding, according to a seafloor survey of an island west of the Straits of Gibraltar.

Marc-André Gutscher of the University of Western Brittany in Plouzané, France, performed a detailed mapping of the seafloor on Spartel Island, already proposed as a candidate for the origin of the Atlantis legend in 2001 by French geologist Jacques Collina-Girard.

Lying 60 meters beneath the surface in the Gulf of Cadiz, the island is right “in front of the Pillars of Hercules,” or the Straits of Gibraltar, as stated by Plato.


Yet another acronym to remember Trees that tell stories

Harv Burman pulls a palm-sized, bumble bee-colored GPS device from his park ranger uniform, and his fingers dance across the keypad. He records a few notes about a stately ponderosa pine, the trunk missing a long, wide patch of its scaly, yellow bark.

The information ends up in an office computer at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, where the Global Positioning System has recorded the location of the specimen.

It’s not the old-growth pine that attracts the seasonal ranger, but the scarring, a definitive shape that makes him believe it was created by human hands, possibly hundreds of years ago.

It’s arguing that perhaps entire landscapes should be preserved much as buildings and other sites are.

Medieval cliff cemetery unearthed

A medieval cemetery, along with remains of some of those buried there, have been unearthed near cliffs in Pembrokeshire.

Archaeologists are now speculating the site at West Angle Bay may house an even older burial ground and possibly the remains of an ancient chapel.

They believe the cemetery dates back to around 900 to 1000 AD but are waiting for the results of carbon dating tests.

DNA traces evolution of extinct sabertooths and the American cheetah-like cat

By performing sequence analysis of ancient DNA, a team of researchers has obtained data that help clarify our view of the evolutionary relationships shared by the large predatory cats that once roamed the prehistoric New World.

The work is reported in the August 9 issue of Current Biology by Ross Barnett of the University of Oxford and a team of researchers from Britain, Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Australia.

Toward the end of the last Ice Age, around 13,000 years ago, North and South America were home to a variety of large cats such as the sabertooths (Smilodon and Homotherium) and other now-extinct species known as the American lion-like cat (Panthera atrox) and cheetah-like cat (Miracinonyx trumani). Of these big cats, only the puma (Puma concolor) and jaguar (Panthera onca) survive in the Americas today.

Update: More stuff

Another mammoth find Mammoth find may be biggest ever

The remains of a mammoth have been located north of Yakima by the town of Selah. While mammoth parts have been found before, it’s been nothing like this. It is more than a yard long. On a human, it would be the equivalent of the right upper arm bone. Only this bone belongs to a mammoth.

“We actually have another bone here, mammoth size, and another bone here. And they’re all about the same level,” said field assistant Jake Shapley.

Remote sensing update Archaeologists seek buried clues to 19th century settlement

Archaeologists dug with electronic fingers into the soil of Central Park on Wednesday to learn more about Seneca Village, a vanished 19th century settlement of poor folks _ blacks, Irish immigrants and who knows who else _ that existed before the park landscapers arrived in the 1850s.

A team of scientists from Barnard and City College of New York launched the two-day effort using ground-penetrating radar to probe selected areas of the site that once covered roughly two blocks and was home to as many as 260 people.

More politics and media bias Apparently, the NY Times article on the so-called Palace of David is getting more attention.

Finally, Andie links to a story in the Guardian about preserving documentation on nuclear waste. Seems they are using a papyrus-like paper (no acid, very stable) in “copper impregnated bags” (= poisonous to bacteria) in dry storage boxes to ensure the documents are legible for some time. This is similar to the problem some people in the US were working on some time ago regarding warning signs over nuclear waste dumps. How to make some form of monument that will not only last for thousands of years, but also be readable. Don’t know if they’ve figured that one out yet.

August 9, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:45 am

Big non-archaeological day in history

Ten years ago today, Netscape went public. Rumor hath it that Jim Clark needed money to buy a boat, so he took the company public. One can, arguably, say that this date in 1995 started the tech bubble that eventually burst in early 2000, and made the Internet — together with blogs in general, and ArchaeoBlog in particular — as more than academic tool, possible. Before that, the Internet was mostly restricted to the geek set at universities, where we (yeah, yeah, we’re included in that) mostly used it for playing some form of semi-graphical D&D, Leather Goddesses of Phobos (heh), or other semi-naughty and/or incredibly nerdy games, not to mention chatting on BBSs and IRC.

Netscape and their browser made the Web accessible to nearly everyone. No more text-based graphics and cryptic Unix commands to get online, just double-whack an icon and, bingo, you’re out there. It really was the event that launched a thousand IPOs.

And in doing so, it put the cost of publishing at very nearly zero. No more printing, marketing, and selling of work; you could write stuff, plop it on a server somewhere, and everyone around the world with a browser could read it, and more importantly, comment on it either by email or within the browser. This has caused academia and the publishing community dependent on it in something of a bind. Yeah, you can place your writing out on the Web without cost and without a peer-review process (thought some would argue the Web community can act as a super-peer-review as we mentioned yesterday), and have it distributed to as many as wish to view it. That means an awful lot of crap gets out there. But it also means that an awful lot of non-crap gets out as well, and eventually what does make it out there has to stand on its merits. Sort of the ultimate in market-based discourse.

Needless to say, with a new medium there have been plenty of naysayers. All of a sudden, the biggest danger to our poor helpless children was the vast variety of porn out there for easy viewing (erhm, so we’ve heard anyway), and stalkers ready to prey on the unsuspecting youngsters. There have also been those who have lamented this supposedly impersonal form of communication in favor of good old person-to-person conversation. We’re somewhat sympathetic to this latter sentiment, since we’re familiar with how disconnected many in the Geek Set can be; one person we know of got so used to typing conversations at people that when he was having real conversations he would often unconsciously be tapping his fingers against his leg as he spoke.

So, we carry on with this experiment and see where it goes. And wish to hell we’d had enough disposable income in the late 1990s to play the stock market, darn it.

But you know, we defer to Ann Althouse on what this new form of communication means, because we can’t really say it any better:

I understand — really, I do — how someone who doesn’t feel moved to blog and doesn’t enjoy reading blogs might feel dispirited by all the blogging. And I agree that face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication. I’d even go so far as to say that — in its highest manifestations — it’s the best thing.

But blogging is just writing, and like other writing, it has aspects that are better than conversation:

It can reach beyond the people you know.

It can reach people in the future, including the people you know.

It can reveal things that cannot come up in ordinary conversation.

It can allow one person to contribute a larger share of the ideas than would be seemly in conversation.

It lets you leap over your immediate physical environment.

More archaeology later, after we’ve done some work on the history of geological fieldwork in the Fayum Depression.

Update: More news

Zooarchaeology ‘Mammoth’ find in Kansas

Highway workers in Wichita, Kan., have dug up what could be a prehistoric tusk from a woolly mammoth.

They were digging about 17 feet under an old highway Friday when they found what appears to be a huge tusk. A supervisor says they stopped digging with machinery immediately when they struck what appeared to be bone, and uncovered the rest by hand.

The highway department has called in archaeologists to help uncover the rest of the tusk and verify its age and origin.

The department says the site is being protected.

That’s the whole thing.

Sometimes they’re worth something Smugglers lead archaeologists to discovery of Iron Age site in Zanjan

Artifacts recently confiscated from smugglers by the Zanjan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department (ZCHTD) have led to the discovery of an Iron Age site near Anzar village in Iran’s Zanjan Province.

“Following the confiscation of the artifacts from smugglers near the village, they led us to an Iron Age site, including a cemetery and settlement,” ZCHTD archaeologist Abolfazl Aali said on Sunday.

“One of the smugglers had unearthed 22 intact clay artifacts, a number of beads made of silica, and bronze and copper relics, such as daggers and bayonets, during his excavations in the cemetery,” he added.

Chatty Egyptians Egyptologist Discovers Ancient Gossip

Ancient Egyptians gossiped about a bald queen, royals who had affairs, missing bodies, homosexuality, harem intrigue and more, according to a noted Egyptologist.

Lisa Schwappach-Shirriff, curator of California’s Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, which houses North America’s largest collection of Egyptian artifacts, recently found evidence for tabloid-like gossip in the museum’s eclectic archives and elsewhere. The findings suggest humans always have enjoyed chatting about personal or sensational information concerning others.

They also reveal what officials communicated through their official artwork and hieroglyphics.

Not sure what the picture of a stelae is supposed to be. It doesn’t appear to contain any of this so-called gossip. So don’t bother clicking on it.

Lost city Stupa. . .found Archaeologists discover Kesa Stupa

Buddhist relics dating back to the third century have been discovered recently during an excavation project by a group of archaeologists and historians from the Orissa Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies in Jajpur district of Orissa .

‘Kesa Stupa’, considered to be the earliest Stupa in the Buddhist texts and some evidences of Toshali Nagar, the headquarters of the Kalinga, were discovered during the excavation. It was carried out under the aegis of the State’s culture department at Tarapur Hill in Orissa’s Jajpur district, close to the Lalitgiri-Udayagiri and Ratnagiri Buddhist complex.

CSI: Craighall

A grave discovery as joiner digs up 300-year-old bones

A 300-YEAR-OLD murder mystery has been unearthed after an amateur archaeologist stumbled across human bones on a construction site.

The remains were discovered on the site of the new Queen Margaret University campus in Craighall, Musselburgh.

And it is now believed the bones are the remains of a female murder victim, as one of them appears to have been severed by a knife or another sharp instrument.

But although police were informed of the find, they are not launching an investigation because the remains have lain in the ground for almost 300 years.

Politics! Media bias! The Anchoress argues that the NY Times minimized the importance of Jerusalem in its reporting of the finding of David’s Palace.

Also involves this story about the finding of the Pool of Siloam.

Child mummy update Biblical-Era Child Mummy Resurrected

The mummy of a little Egyptian girl who lived 2,000 years ago has undergone a high tech resurrection.

The resulting 3D interactive model of the mummy represents the world’s most detailed mummy visualization.

A powerful Stanford University AXIOM Siemens scanner generated 60,000 ultrathin, multidimensional image slices of the child versus the 1,700 that were taken of King Tut by other researchers earlier this year.

August 8, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:57 am

Sort of non-archaeology post

We’ll actually have a couple of distinctly non-archy things to post this week as another rather auspicious occasion presents itself tomorrow, August 9. Stay tuned. . . .

But first, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame, has this post up as he looks back on four years of blogging:

TOMORROW will be InstaPundit’s fourth bloggiversary. (Click here to see what I was writing about back when it started).

How has the blog changed? You may have a clearer sense of that than I do. I think it’s become a bit less opinionated — the older entries were mostly opinion; now I’m more likely to link to somone’s actual reporting, or to an item of news without commenting on it much. I tend to express my longer opinion-oriented takes elsewhere, at TechCentralStation or, rather than here at the blog.

I think that the tone has gotten milder. This was never a rantblog, but I decided over a year ago, during the election runup, to try to be extra-conscious about word choice, and to avoid name-calling as much as possible. Over-the-top hysterics on other blogs turn me off even when they’re from someone I agree with, and I suspect many people feel that way. You can have strong opinions without strong language, and they’re usually more persuasive that way, or so it seems to me.

I’ve learned — well, come to appreciate, anyway — that there are huge numbers of very smart people out there, in all sorts of settings that aren’t usually thought of as smart-people settings. Every academic should have that experience.

The blogosphere has certainly gotten bigger, which I see as pretty much an unalloyed good.

ArchaeoBlog is pretty much in Glenn’s mold, although we link much less often to other bloggers than to news stories and web sites. For one reason, there just don’t seem to be too many archaeologists out there blogging. Andie at Egyptology News blog is one, and John Hawks in paleoanth is another (John also has some other links to paleoanth and general anthro blogs as well). Hawks’ is more of the opinion-oriented, while Andie’s is more link-oriented.

Why not more? Probably because most anthropologists and archaeologists are busy with listservs and such to bother with this medium, which is more self-publishing than anything. That and to get any sort of audience in the blogosphere, one needs to be much less pedantic and technical than one ordinarily would when discussing issues with colleagues. Who is your audience anyway? We’ve tailored ArchaeoBlog more for the masses and those archaeologists who want to see what’s going on outside of their speciality without having to troll around news sites forever. And we find the odd cool thing every now and then. It’s a developing medium and people will surely push the envelope in unexpected directions. Perhaps blogs will eventually function as something like the old research notebooks did in the past, where one can jot down any thoughts relating to what you’re doing at the moment for review later, with the added benefit of outside commentary. Sort of a constantly-on seminar with feedback from colleagues around the clock. Or instant peer-review. This seems like a very powerful aspect of the give-and-take nature (via Comment and email responses), but of course holds the danger of people stealing your ideas before they’ve been published.

But, you know, your colleagues might just read what you write on these things and, being more of an opinion-oriented thing, you can say stuff that might tick people off. After all, calling someone a complete knee-biter at a cocktail party is one thing, but sticking it on a blog is another. It also gives prospective employers a record of what you really think, as opposed to your published record which is necessarily drier and more respectful (usually). Hawks had a post on this a while back, but we can’t find it right off the bat. Instapundit linked to a post/article on the uses of blogs by professors as well, but we can’t find that either. (We are apparently severely search-challenged this morning) It’s doubtful (and Lordy, we hope so) that anthroblogs will ever become as free-for-all and hyperventilating as general, especially political, blogs. (“Oh, and I’m sure you think Kent-McSystemsTheory-Flannery was a total god or something!” “Pointy-headed mentalist scum!”)

Site blogging would definitely be cool though. That would capture a lot of people’s attention. Actual on-site blogging, that is, not just putting “This season’s results” up on a web site. The daily thrill of discovery, the interpretations of different features. . .the gossip about who’s sneaking of to who’s tent in the middle of the night. . . .errrm, well, maybe the anthroblogosphere will be as tittilating as other blogs.

TV corner The History Channel’s Ape to Man premiered last night. We didn’t watch it. Main reason being all of the previews showed little except dramatizations of historical anthropological figures doing their thing and the usual people dressed up as various incarnations of Homo and/or Australopithecus doing their thing. Let’s face it: guys dressed up as early hominids fondling a black monolith and getting knowledge zapped into their brains worked; guys dressed up as early hominids demonstrating possible scavenging behavior doesn’t. Hawks simulblogged it and this comment seems to sum up the enterprise:

9:02 Ape-woman sniffing at rubber carcass is not engaging me.

Think we’ll pass on the later showings. . . .

Update: More items

Novel technique offers new look at ancient diet dogma

A Penn State researcher is part of the team that developed techniques that have generated insights into dietary divergences between some of our human ancestors, allowing scientists to better understand the evolutionary path that led to the modern-day diets that humans consume. “Our new techniques are allowing us to get beyond simple dichotomies and helping us understand the processes by which dietary evolution is working,” said Peter Ungar, professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas.

. . .

Traditional examinations of these ancient teeth – counting pits and lines on a black and white electron micrograph image – suggested that A. africanus ate tough foods and P. robustus dined on hard, brittle fare. However, the researchers used a new technique developed by Ungar and his colleagues that combines engineering software, scale-sensitive fractal analysis and a scanning confocal microscope to create a reproducible texture analysis for teeth – and the analysis tells a more complete story.

More on extinctions Study shows big game hunters, not climate change, killed off sloths

Prehistoric big game hunters and not the last ice age are the likely culprits in the extinction of giant ground sloths and other North American great mammals such as mammoths, mastodons and saber-toothed tigers, says a University of Florida researcher.

Determining whether the first arrival of humans or the warm-up of the American continent at the end of the last Ice Age was responsible for the demise of prehistoric sloths has puzzled scientists because both events occurred at the same time, about 11,000 years ago. But by using radiocarbon to date fossils from Cuba and Hispaniola, where humans appeared later than on the North American continent, long after the last Ice Age occurred, UF ornithologist David Steadman was able to separate the two events.

He and his colleagues found the last record of West Indian ground sloths coincided with the arrival of humans 4,400 years ago. The results are published in a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper this week.

Original paper is here for those with subscriptions/university access.

Critics will point to a lack of actual evidence that humans were hunting these things, which would leave habitat destruction as the remaining factor, which the authors cite in the paper.

Polynesian sailors update Scholars swim in choppy waters

In academia no less than Oceania, voyagers are sometimes called upon to sail against the prevailing winds. Polynesian seafarers, equipped with sophisticated boats and navigational skills, may have braved the trade winds in their quest to colonize the Pacific during the first millennium. Now a pair of scholars are making waves by flouting what they call “the prevailing theoretical orthodoxy of North American archaeology.”

Kathryn Klar, a lecturer in Berkeley’s Celtic studies program, and Terry Jones, an associate professor of anthropology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, teamed up five years ago for what would prove a risky voyage of intellectual discovery. In a recently published article, they claim to have found new linguistic and archaeological evidence that Polynesians landed in Southern California between 400 and 800 A.D. and shared their advanced boat-building techniques with the region’s Chumash and Gabrielino Indians.

This was reported on earlier and not a whole lot new is in it, but we get a little more backstory on the timeline of the researchers involved.

The oldest profession update Ancients Rarely Punished Prostitutes

Prostitution in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Israel was glorified or mildly tolerated, according to a new analysis of “the world’s oldest profession.”

The findings reveal that attitudes about sex, fidelity and women varied in early times. [Eds. Gee, what a surprise. . . .]

Several scholars contributed to the analysis, which is published in the current Zmanim Hebrew historical quarterly. The Israeli news service Haaretz reviewed the journal in English.

Oldest dated evidence of cattle in southern Africa found

A team of researchers working with colleagues from the Botswana National Museum shed new light on the questions of when cattle were brought to southern Africa and from where. A domestic cow bone, dated to about 2000 years ago was excavated from a site at Toteng, located in the Kalahari Desert of northern Botswana. This bone, dated by the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon technique, provides the oldest directly dated evidence of cattle in southern Africa.

Domestic sheep were also present at Toteng at about the same time. Historical and linguistic information suggest northern Botswana figured prominently in the arrival and dispersal of livestock in southern Africa. The new dates support this view and confirm a long-term association between people and livestock in this part of the Kalahari. The discovery of the 2000 year old cow and sheep bones are important because of the long held view that the Kalahari was a comparatively isolated area that was primarily occupied by foraging peoples until recently.

August 6, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:22 pm

Book review 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.

Mostly positive book review of Salima Ikram’s latest on animal mummies. No doubt a thoroughly enjoyable read though we must admit, with the amount of time we spend singing Salima’s praises here you’d think the least she could do is convince her publisher to send us a review copy. . . . .

Genetic fingerprinting connects Native Americans with an antecedent who lived more than eight centuries ago.

Human bones turned up by earthmovers grading for an Antelope Valley housing development have produced a DNA link between living Native Americans and an ancestor who died some 800 to 1,000 years ago.
It’s been about 15 years since DNA matching was undertaken on remains found in ancient burial sites, but scientists say the Palmdale discovery is unusual to unprecedented.
Members of the San Fernando Band of Mission Indians, made up of three different groups, hope the find will bolster their claims to federal recognition as a sovereign nation. Seven different criteria must be met before that goal can be achieved.

Good long article describing the work done on the site and some of the forensic analyses performed thus far. This seems like a great thing to do as a matter of course on any remains, that Amerindian groups should, we think, get behind. Building up a database of genetic data on all discovered remains, along with those of existing tribal members would go a long way towards establishing patrimony.

How a woman’s death ended 4,000 years of human history on St Kilda

There is still a quiver of emotion in the voice of Norman Gillies, 80, as he recalls the last time he saw his mother. As a five-year-old, he stood on the shore of the most remote island of the British Isles and waved goodbye to her as she was taken by boat to hospital in Glasgow with appendicitis.

His pregnant mother, Mary, had been ill for several days but storms lashing St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides delayed a rescue. By the time she reached hospital it was too late and she died, along with the baby she was carrying.

Not really an archaeological story, but interesting nonetheless.

News from Mehr Stronach to guide Iranian archaeologists’ search for Parthian city

British archaeologist David Stronach is to come to Iran in early September in order to give a report on the studies he has carried out in search of Hecatompylos in the area of modern-day Shahr-e Qumis near Damghan, Iran over the years, the director of the Damghan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office said on Friday.

“Iran’s Archaeological Research Center has invited Stronach to travel to Iran to give the report and guide Iranian archaeologists in searching for the Parthian city,” Masumeh Davudian added.

“Due to old age, he will not be able to directly take part in the operation, but his guidance will be very effective for upcoming excavations,” she noted.

August 5, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:13 pm

Nerds to the rescue once again Scientists and humanists join forces to use X-ray technology to shed new light on ancient stone inscriptions

In an unusual collaboration among scientists and humanists, a Cornell University team has demonstrated a novel method for recovering faded text on ancient stone by zapping and mapping 2,000-year-old inscriptions using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) imaging.

The research, carried out at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), applies a nondestructive chemical analysis technique widely used in geology, archaeology and materials science.

“X-ray fluorescence imaging has the potential to become a major tool in epigraphy [the study of incised writing on various surfaces, including stone],” said Robert Thorne, professor of physics and co-author of an article in a German journal titled “Recovering Ancient Inscriptions by X-ray Fluorescence Imaging.” “It’s just so much more powerful than anything that’s been used in the past.”


In a press conference at the headquarters of Silicon Graphics (NYSE: SGI), researchers allowed attendees to literally come face to face with the rare mummified remains of the ancient Egyptian child. Equipped with the most detailed 3D models ever created of a mummy, the team of experts showed how 60,000 exceptionally high-resolution 2D scans helped them give life to the mummy without disturbing its delicate form.

The result is the highest quality interactive visualization of a mummy ever seen – one that allowed specialists in various fields from Stanford University School of Medicine and the Stanford-NASA National Biocomputation Center to arrive at several conclusions about the child who lived and died 2,000 years ago.

DEFINITELY look at the hi-res photos; they’re quite close to photorealistic. Much more detailed than anything seen thus far (we think). THe video is not terribly interesting through the first 5 minutes or so; it’s got some details to it, but it’s just some of the researchers talking and it;s pretty choppy. The remainder has an absolutely fascinating 3D movie of the reconstruction. It’s hard to describe, you must see it. It floats through space and they progressivly peel away layers to show the mummy and its internals underneath. They also send the camera into the skull and manipulate the lighting effects to make it as if you are really opening up the skull and letting sunlight in. Together with the detailed measurements you can obtain from these scans (the slices are 200 microns thick), this ought to be showing the way toward any future (non-destructive) mummy studies.

Archaeopolitics in the Holy Land. . . again King David’s Palace Is Found, Archaeologist Says

An Israeli archaeologist says she has uncovered in East Jerusalem what may be the fabled palace of the biblical King David. Her work has been sponsored by a conservative Israeli research institute and financed by an American Jewish investment banker who would like to prove that Jerusalem was indeed the capital of the Jewish kingdom described in the Bible.

Other scholars are skeptical that the foundation walls discovered by the archaeologist, Eilat Mazar, are David’s palace. But they acknowledge that what she has uncovered is rare and important: a major public building from around the 10th century B.C., with pottery shards that date to the time of David and Solomon and a government seal of an official mentioned in the book of Jeremiah.

The discovery is likely to be a new salvo in a major dispute in biblical archaeology: whether the kingdom of David was of some historical magnitude, or whether the kings were more like small tribal chieftains, reigning over another dusty hilltop.

Burial for Pakistan’s fake mummy

A “mummy” that duped archaeologists and nearly sparked a diplomatic row between Pakistan and Iran is finally being laid to rest.

Discovered in a wooden sarcophagus in October 2000, the mummy was thought to be Persian and date to about 600BC.

Iran laid claim to the sarcophagus and Pakistani provinces squabbled over it until tests showed the “mummy” was a fake only a few decades old.

Some older stuff:

(Well, it’s all older stuff, obviously. . . .)

This ancient door stood the test of time…

It has been in continuous use for almost 1 000 years, and for a long time people believed – wrongly – that it was covered in flayed human skin.

On Thursday, a battered door inside London’s famous Westminster Abbey was officially named as the oldest door in Britain.

Research on the innocuous-looking door, funded by historic preservation body English Heritage, was completed last week and concluded that the door had survived so long because it is indoors and has been used constantly.

A spokesperson for the Abbey, the grand, ancient church near the Houses of Parliament in central London, said the door had been dated back to the 1050s, during the reign of the Abbey’s founder, English king Edward the Confessor.

More from the BBC.

18 more graves unearthed at UVa. site

Archaeologists exploring a site at the University of Virginia have found 18 more grave shafts that could be part of a community burial ground for free black people, university officials said yesterday.
The discovery along Venable Lane near New Cabell Hall brings the number of graves to 32. Graves of four adults and eight children were found when archaeologists discovered the cemetery in 1993, and two more graves were found in May.
The explorations are part of preparations for the university’s South Lawn Project, which will add several classroom buildings and include a parklike area to memorialize the site.

This week’s news from the EEF:

Various other news items on the CT scanned mummy from above:,1286,68416,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_5
Newspaper comment: “Generous support”,,2088-1710891_1,00.html
A letter has appeared in the London Times supporting Dr Zahi Hawass, signed by a who’s who of Egyptologists.
“To express [their] regret about the injudicious and inaccurate May 22, 2005 article about Dr. Zahi Hawass”.

In the Journal of Cultural Heritage, vol. 6 issue 2 (April-June 2005),
the following article has appeared:
Elisabeth Delange, Marie-Emmanuell Myohas, Marc Aucouturier,
“The statue of Karomama, a testimony of the skill of Egyptian
metallurgists in polychrome bronze statuary”, pp. 99-113
About the restoration and metallurgy of the famous statue of
Karomama in the Louvre. The paper contains insights into the
detailed metallurgy used by the Egyptians and is also well illustrated.
Abstract online at:
“The detailed examination and the analyses have evidenced for the
first time the presence of an intentional patina on the inlays present
in the wing quills of the statue and on the inlaid hieroglyphs of the base.”
[Eds. This seems to be by subscription only]

[Submitted by Mike Brass (]
* In African Archaeological Review, vol. 22, no. 2 (June 2005), the following article has appeared:
S. O. Y. Keita. Explanation of the Pattern of P49a,f TaqI RFLP
Y-Chromosome Variation in Egypt. pp. 61-75
Abstract online at:
“It is suggested that the pattern of diversity for these variants in
the Egyptian Nile Valley, was largely the product of population
events that occurred in the late Pleistocene to mid-Holocene
through Dynasty I, and was sustained by continuous smaller
scale bi-directional migrations/interactions.”
[Eds. That link doesn't appear to work]

Online version of: Thomas E. Levy, Edwin C.M. van den Brink,
Yuval Goren and David Alon, “New Light on King Narmer and the
Protodynastic Egyptian Presence in Canaan”, in Biblical Archaeologist
1995 Volume 58, Number 1. In HTML.
“Recent excavations in Israel’s northern Negev desert, carried out
under the auspices of the new Nahal Tillah Regional Archaeology
Project, are beginning to shed new light on the character of late
Protodynastic/Early Dynastic Egyptian/Canaanite interaction,
ca. 3300 – 3000 BC (..) In July of 1994, a wealth of new data
was recovered in excavations in the Nahal Tillah area (…) large
numbers of imported Protodynastic/Early Dynastic Egyptian
pottery vessels, architecture, a clay seal impression, and a
new incised sherd bearing the serekh symbol of King Narmer
were found.”

* Online paper: Dr. Stephen H. Savage, “Developing an AMS
Radiocarbon Based Chronology for the Predynastic Egyptian
Cemetery, N7000, at Naga-ed-Dêr. A Successful National
Science Foundation Proposal”
“This proposal seeks NSF support to conduct a comprehensive
radiocarbon dating study with materials collected in 1902-1903
from the Predynastic Egyptian cemetery, N7000, at Naga-ed-Dêr,
Upper Egypt. ” With an intersting overview of the problems with
three traditional chronological methods employed for the Predynastic
Period (Petrie’s Sequence Dating; Kaiser’s Stufe dating system;
and Kemp’s Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) method) and the
results and problems of the radiocarbon method.

Online version of: Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian
Antiquities (JSSEA), vol. 31 (2004) – pdf-files
“As part of an effort to streamline and speed up the publication process of
the JSSEA, we have decided to publish to the web all of the articles for the
following issues of the journal. This is an experiment by the editor and we
wish to see how this aids in the dissemination of the information in the
articles … The files will normally appear here only until the hard copy
version of the journal appears.”
– E. Cruz-Uribe, Middle Egypt Quarries Project 2004 Field Season, pp. 1-36
– E. Cruz-Uribe, P. Piccione, J. Westerfeld, Kharga Oasis Coptic Graffiti
Project – Preliminary Report of the 2005 Field Season, pp. 37-61
– A. Aufderheide, L. Cartmell, M. Zlonis, P. Sheldrick, Mummification
Practices at Kellis Site in Egypt’s Dakhleh Oasis, pp. 63-86
– A. Aufderheide, A. Nissenbaum, L. Cartmell, Radiocarbon Date Recovery
from Bitumen-Containing Egyptian Embalming Resins, pp. 87-96
– J. Gee, Prophets, Initiation and the Egyptian Temple, pp. 97-107
– D. Kahn, Taharqa, King of Kush and the Assyrians, pp. 109-128
– G. Sanchez, Variations of Representation in the Direction of the Battle
of Kadesh, pp. 129-149

The website of Carlo Bergmann deals with the Libyan Desert:
Of most interest will be the section “Discoveries”, about the
discovery of the Abu Ballas Trail (and the Abu Ballas “Pottery Hill”)
and Djedefre’s Water-Mountain. Text in English, and with photos:

“The UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology” (UEE)
As for now: Project Development Information
“For thirty years the Lexikon der Ägyptologie (LÄ, edited by Wolfgang Helck,
Eberhard Otto, and Wolfhart Westendorf), seven-volumes published between
1975 and 1992, has been the standard reference work in Egyptology. This
great body of knowledge is still extremely useful for professionals in the
field, even though it begins to show signs of age due to recent
archaeological discoveries in Egypt and new insights or changed views. The
target of the UEE is both the scholarly public and the popular interest in
ancient Egypt . For an English reading public, the LÄ poses a number of
problems. For example, most of the texts and all entry titles are in German,
even though some articles are in English or French (and there are English
and French indices to the article titles). The development of research and
scholarly discourse makes revision of the range and configuration of entries
of the LÄ urgent, but to publish a revised edition in print is prohibitively

End of EEF news

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