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.”
Remote sensing update SCIENTISTS REACH BACK 2,000 YEARS TO BRING RARE CHILD MUMMY BACK TO LIFE
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:
Newspaper comment: “Generous support”
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: http://snipurl.com/glos
“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 (email@example.com)]
* 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: http://snipurl.com/gntt
“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
* 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