September 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:25 am

Blogging update

No blogging for an entire week as I will be out stomping around the Olympic Rain Forest. No TV. No cell phones.


Or Internet, obviously.

Posting will probably resume Sunday, Oct. 1.

September 22, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:58 pm

Bosnian “pyramids” update
A reader commented somewhere (I get all comments in email) and provided a link for a site generated by RObert Schoch, he of the-sphinx-is-12,000-years-old fame. While that particular hypothesis is not at all accepted in Egypt, Schoch seems to go quite a ways towards debunking the supposed pyramids in Bosnia here.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:45 pm

Peer review: A transitory phenomenon?

The New Atlantis has this article up: Rethinking Peer Review: How the Internet is Changing Science Journals

In recent times, the term “peer reviewed” has come to serve as shorthand for “quality.” To say that an article appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal is to claim a kind of professional approbation; to say that a study hasn’t been peer reviewed is tantamount to calling it disreputable. Up to a point, this is reasonable. Reviewers and editors serve as gatekeepers in scientific publishing; they eliminate the most uninteresting or least worthy articles, saving the research community time and money.

But peer review is not simply synonymous with quality. Many landmark scientific papers (like that of Watson and Crick, published just five decades ago) were never subjected to peer review, and as David Shatz has pointed out, “many heavily cited papers, including some describing work which won a Nobel Prize, were originally rejected by peer review.”

This is something I’d never actually considered, though I suppose after reading various histories of science, one would more or less get it by osmosis that much earlier work was never formally peer-reviewed”; it got published if editors liked it, and then it was either accepted or rejected. The peer-review process was distributed.

The Cochrane Collaboration, an international healthcare analysis group based in the U.K., published a report in 2003 concluding that there is “little empirical evidence to support the use of editorial peer review as a mechanism to ensure quality of biomedical research, despite its widespread use and costs.” The Royal Society has also studied the effects of peer review. As the chairman of the investigating committee told a British newspaper in 2003, “We are all aware that some referees’ reports are not worth the paper they are written on. It’s also hard for a journal editor when reports come back that are contradictory, and it’s often down to a question of a value judgment whether something is published or not.”

That’s somewhat true. I’ve had reviews that seemed more or less, well, in a word, dumb. That is, brief dismissals of nearly the entire thing, after which it goes on to be published in that same journal. And there’s certain politics involved: no matter how dumb you think the comments are, you still need to politely and formally address all of them in your resubmittal.

. . .peer review has been criticized for being used by the scientific establishment “to prevent unorthodox ideas, methods, and views, regardless of their merit, from being made public” and for its secretiveness and anonymity.

Eh, this doesn’t seem to be much of a problem, except for those papers that aren’t too far out of the mainstream. Virtually anything can get published somewhere; not getting it in a peer-reviewed journal means it doesn’t have the seal of authority (which the article goes some way to call into question) but all sorts of crap ends up being put out into the public domain one way or another.

The article also touches on a couple of online-only “journals” (if you can call them that) that are experimenting with other methods of review, such as posting initial drafts and letting anyone review it, let the manuscript get updated depending on comments, etc. It makes the review-and-revise process fairly dynamic instead of static.

But this goes back to this post that referenced an Althouse post on the place of law journal articles in an Internet-driven world. I wrote:

Journals are, I think, the high point of the profession and mark the standard of dialog that we use to hash out the big theoretical and methodological issues of the day. They have to be carefully reasoned and presented with adequate supporting data in order to provide a proper basis for discussion. Having the work set in stone, as it were, gives the whole process a baseline to work from. Creating a set piece of work that can be reviewed and presented at a single time and place fulfills that.

I still don’t know how one might reference a constantly-evolving piece of work. References are shorthand for arguments we don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of time on, but what if a particular reference keeps changing? People change their minds and their thinking evolves, but one can always reference later works to reflect that. Depends on how this online constant-review process works; it seems to me there needs to be some point at which one can set what one thinks in stone so that it can be a set point for discussion.

September 21, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:46 pm

And now. . . .the news from the EEF

Press report: “Rare Egyptian antiquities now on-line”
“Egypt will be posting a collection of antiquities, on display at
the Egyptian Museum in Turin, on the Eternal Egypt website
– Another, much longer, press report about this:

Press report: “Greek language engravings discovered in Alexandria”
“The engravings, which were discovered close to the Amoud al-Sawari
[Pompey's Pillar] monument, are said to date back to the times of Roman
Emperor Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161-180 AD.)”

A press report that features the Turin Kings List:

Press report: “Solving 3,000-year-old mysteries”
Interview with Bob Brier.

Digitized books from “Google Book Search”
– Samuel Sharpe, Rudiments of a Vocabulary of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, 1837.
xi, 151 pp., 16 pls. – pdf-file: 4.8 MB

“Online Journals of the Royal Society”
“Nearly three and a half centuries of scientific study and achievement is
now available online in the Royal Society Journals Digital Archive following
its official launch this week. This is the longest-running and arguably most
influential journal archive in Science, including all the back articles of
both Philosophical Transactions and Proceedings.
For the first time the Archive provides online access to all journal
content, from Volume One, Issue One in March 1665 until the latest
modern research published today ahead of print. And until December
the archive is freely available to anyone on the internet to explore.”
There are several articles related to AE; a selection:

– I. E. S. Edwards, Absolute Datings from Egyptian Records and
Comparison with Carbon-14 Datings, in: The Impact of the Natural
Sciences on Archaeology. A Joint Symposium of the Royal Society
and the British Academy organized by a Committee under the
Chairmanship of T. E. Allibone, London, The Oxford University
Press, 1970 (= Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
London A 269 [1970]), 11-18 (3 tables) – pdf-file: 920 KB
“Following a brief description of Egyptian chronology and
the methods by which it is established, the author compares
the results with those obtained through radiocarbon dating.
The latter, though less reliable, are on the whole confirmed
by the historical dates ascertained from the Egyptian
monuments.” (quote from the AEB)

– R. Berger, Ancient Egyptian Radiocarbon Chronology, in:
The Impact of the Natural Sciences on Archaeology. A Joint
Symposium of the Royal Society and the British Academy
organized by a Committee under the Chairmanship of T. E.
Allibone, London, The Oxford University Press, 1970
(= Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London
A 269 [1970]), 23-36 – pdf-file: 1.9 MB
“Description of a research into ancient Egyptian materials, mostly
reed and linen, in order to check the radiocarbon chronology. There
appears to be a discrepancy for the dates before Sesostris III
between the dates suggested by Egyptologists and those resulting
from the C-14 measurements, but by calibration against the
bristlecone pine correlation these measurements can be
converted to dates close to fitting the accepted historical chronology.”

– R. A. Parker, Ancient Egyptian Astronomy, in: The Place of
Astronomy in the Ancient World. A Joint Symposium of The
Royal Society and the British Academy organized by D. G. Kendall,
S. Piggott, D. G. King-Hele and I. E. S. Edwards. Edited by F. R.
Hodson, London, Published for the British Academy by Oxford
University Press, 1974 (= Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society London A vol. 276, No. 1257), 51-65 (3 fig., 2 tables,
4 pl.) – pdf-file: 12 MB
“In the introduction to this survey of Egyptian astronomy the
author stresses its relatively small importance for the Egyptian
civilization until the Ptolemaic Period. He further discusses the
major subjects of Egyptian astronomy: early calendars; the
diagonal star clocks (depicted on Middle Kingdom coffin lids)
and their mechanism; the decanal hours; the so-called cosmology
of Sethi I and Ramses IV; the later star clocks preserved in the
ceiling adornment of some Ramesside royal tombs; the astronomical
ceiling in the tomb of Senmut; the planets, the northern constellation
(including the Big Dipper) and the zodiacs (a Babylonian import),
etc. The last section is devoted to late Demotic astronomical
papyri.” (AEB)

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:44 pm

Artifacts found under Missouri church

Archaeologists have uncovered coins, dishes, bullets, Indian jewelry and other artifacts from the remains of an 18th-century Catholic church rectory in suburban St. Louis that is said to be one of the oldest in the Midwest.

The remains were discovered recently below a half-foot of dirt at a Florissant park, the result of a three-year excavation of the area surrounding the former St. Ferdinand Catholic Church.

Six archaeologists helped uncover about 10,000 items at the park, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Another historical story here, too.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:42 pm

Ancient ruins at Marana park site

Archaeologists hope to dig one last time at a future Marana park site that has yielded several thousand prehistoric artifacts, some that predate pottery.

A final excavation season could begin next month at the Yuma Wash site, located just north of the intersection of Ina and Silverbell roads along the Santa Cruz River. Archaeologists in 1999 began excavations on the site, once home to a large settlement of Hohokam Indians.

Old Pueblo Archaeology Center found evidence of approximately 200 underground pithouses and above-ground pueblo homes.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:38 pm

Discoveries in old rail tunnel surprise contractors

Timber and rail found inside the historic tunnel No. 2 in Lyon County will be removed and documented, and may eventually make it back into the new tunnel construction, officials said Tuesday.

A team of excavators recently found several sets of the tunnel’s original wooden frames while looking for an open portal on the east side. History is fuzzy, but it’s believed both ends were blasted closed in 1969 to put out a fire that had been started by hippie squatters.

Historical stuff.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:36 pm

Preston artifacts help archaeologists see into past

What might look to a layman like a bunch of small- and medium-sized rocks, looks to archaeologists like historical blueprints of the former Norwich Hospital property.

State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni Tuesday displayed some of the 8,800 artifacts uncovered from a site on the hospital property where developer Joseph Gentile wants to build a $1.6 billion development, consisting of theme parks, a performing arts college, hotels and a movie studio.

“We’re about the only ones who get excited about this stuff,” Bellantoni said, as he held a handful of rock flakes. “These chips are very helpful for us in understanding the technological process of working stone.”

Not much text but there are several artifact pictures.

September 20, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:58 am

Neanderthal update Researchers Offer a New Date for Neanderthals’ Last Stand

An international team of scientists thinks it has solved the ultimate mystery of the Neanderthals: where and when they made their last stand before extinction. It was at Gibraltar 28,000 years ago, the scientists say, about 2,000 years more recently than previously thought.

The archaeologists and paleontologists reported yesterday finding several hundred stone tools in Gorham’s Cave, on the rugged Mediterranean coast near the Rock of Gibraltar. They were made in the Mousterian stoneworking style, usually associated with Neanderthals. So far, no fossil bones of the cave occupants have been uncovered.

More from the Guardian here.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:58 am

Computer hunt for rock carvings

A new imaging technique is helping archaeologists to find, interpret and conserve rock carvings in digital format

The technology that archaeologists and ICT researchers have recently adopted is called “structured light”. It is a method that quickly and easily reads off the three-dimensional shape of an object with the aid of a camera and a video projector. The images are transferred to a computer, which constructs a detailed three-dimensional model of the object. The method is normally used in reverse engineering, the process of making a 3D computer model of an existing physical object. It has also been used for product quality control, for example in the engineering industry.

I made an offhand comment on this the other day (can’t find where tho), about using laser imaging with fine resolution to perhaps image very low relief etchings that are difficult to see with the naked eye, mostly for extremely worn monuments. This seems to be something that just might do the trick.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress