Hmmmmm. . . . Mystery solved: Chemicals made Stradivarius violins unique, says professor
“Like many discoveries, this one could have been accidental. Perhaps the violin makers were not even aware of the acoustical effects of the chemicals. Both Stradivari and Guarneri wanted to treat their violins to prevent worms from eating away the wood. They used some chemical agents to protect the wood from worm infestations of the time, and the unintended consequence from these chemicals was a sound like none other,” he adds.
The team tested several instruments, including violins and cellos, produced by Stradivari and Guarneri from 1717 to around 1741, using spectra analysis and other methods.
The results and those previously reported by Nagyvary showed that two specific areas of the instruments accounted for their unique sound – chemicals used in the varnish and fillers of the instruments, and the overall wood treatment process used by Stradivari and Guarneri.
This sounds rather appealing (heh), though certainly there will be critiques of it. The blurb there doesn’t say how many other instruments were also tested, how the particular effects of the chemicals are thought to affect the sound, etc.
Holy follicles! Frenchman arrested over bid to sell pharaoh hair
French police have arrested a man who tried to sell on the Internet strands of hair from the head of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, a law court official has said.
The man, who was not immediately identified, asked for between 2,000-2,500 euros ($2,639-$3,299) for each of the various hair samples as well as for tiny pieces of resin and embalmed cloth taken from the pharaoh’s mummy.
In background notes posted on the www.vivastreet.fr website, the seller said he had obtained the relics from his father who had worked in a French laboratory entrusted with analysing and restoring the body of Ramses in 1976-77.
Biblical past unearthed in Holy Land construction
Building a housing complex or a road in the Holy Land can often have grave implications.
Ancient cemeteries, burial caves from biblical times and centuries-old artifacts have been unearthed during construction work in Israel over the years, forcing contractors by law to call in archaeologists and sometimes halt building projects.
In Holyland Park, a complex of apartments being built on a hill in Jerusalem, archaeologists will soon finish removing bones and other remnants from a field of 40 tombs estimated to be 3,700 years old.
One of those annoying in-window popup ads appears. HATE those things.
Antiquities Market update Top Collector Is Asked to Relinquish Artifacts
Seeking to build on its success in bargaining with a few American museums, Italy has asked the New York collector Shelby White to consider returning more than 20 ancient artifacts that it argues were illegally mined from its soil, officials involved in the negotiations say.
The request was relayed this month in a letter to Ms. White’s lawyers, they said. Rather than implicitly threaten legal action, however, as it occasionally has in pursuing objects in major museum collections, the government hopes to rely on moral suasion, said Maurizio Fiorilli, a lawyer for the Italian Culture Ministry. He said negotiations would begin in earnest in December.
Mr. Fiorilli said the Italian government was not implying that Ms. White or Leon Levy, her husband, who jointly amassed the collection over 30 years, were involved in any crime. (Mr. Levy died in 2003.)
TRIAL OF A MUMMY
This is the fictional story of Khonso-Imhep, Head Musician of the Pharaoh’s court during the 18th Dynasty, as he passes from life into the afterworld, complete with a trial that determines his fate. Through re-enactments and imagery on wall paintings, this film depicts the ancient Egyptian mummification process and the religious rituals involved in preparing a dead body. This story displays the unique funeral ceremonies surrounding the preparation of a mummy and portrays the religious beliefs involved, as well as the mummy’s discovery by archaeologists.
New video from the Archaeology Channel.
Developers, historians at odds about remnants of Great Hopewell Road
Plans for an extension of James Parkway to Kaiser Drive are under way, but national magazine coverage has stirred up tension between developers and an archaeologist.
Bradley Lepper, of the Ohio Historical Society, said the remnants of a 2,000-year-old road might be present on two 300-acre sites.
“It may be the only remnants of what I call the Great Hopewell Road,” he said.
This area got hit with what amounted to a minor snowfall, but around here it’s pretty bad. Being from Wisconsin, I generally scoff at the notion of 3″ of snow putting a damper on anything, but here I sit at home unable to get to work. Basic problem is, this place is extremely hilly (Seattle is largely composed of several drumlins and glacial till dumped next to a couple of deep flooded valleys, one filled by Puget Sound and the other by Lake Washington). Thus, when we do get snow it’s usually when warm moisture-laden Pacific air collides with cold Canadian air. So it either dumps a lot of snow that melts in a day or, if the cold air mass stays around, we get wet snow that partially melts and then freezes. Which it did overnight. Hence, the streets are ice-covered. It doesn’t snow very often so there’s no point investing in a lot of snow-removal equipment, so we muddle through as best we can.
Anyway, here are a couple of pics. Latter is Marvin, one of several hummingbirds gathered around the feeding station in the front.
Back to Tut
King Tut Wasn’t Bludgeoned to Death: Study
According to the researchers, Tutankhamun died at between 18 and 20 years of age and measured about 5-feet, 11-inches in height. They also concluded that the bone fragments found inside the pharaoh’s skull came from the first vertebrae in his neck, not his cranium.
Some mishap, perhaps during a modern X-ray examination, probably explains the dislocated fragments, Selim’s team concluded. The upper vertebrae may even have made their way into the skull 84 years ago, when a team led by British Egyptologist and Tut discoverer Howard Carter pried off the mummy’s golden mask.
“I think this lays to rest the notion that the bone fragments in the head were caused pre-mortem, before his death,” said Dr. Joseph Tashjian, a St. Paul, Minn., radiologist and member of the RSNA’s public information committee. “It’s pretty clear, looking at the images from this study, that they almost certainly came from the removal of the mask from the head. It definitely didn’t occur either pre-mortem or even during the embalming period.”
Not much new here, except for the bone fragments having come from vertebra and supposedly post-mortem. The broken leg hypothesis is still pretty shaky, however, since it can’t definitively be placed pre-mortem. Considering the damage many corpses went through during mummification, this seems speculative at best.
ombs of Pre-Inca Elite Discovered Under Peru Pyramid
A complex of tombs recently discovered under a pyramid in Peru offers landmark clues to a thousand-year-old pre-Incan culture, archaeologists report.
A team co-led by Izumi Shimada, an archaeologist with Southern Illinois University, found 22 artifact-laden tombs about 420 miles (675 kilometers) northwest of Lima, the capital (Peru map).
Among the findings are meticulously arranged human remains; gold, gilt copper, and bronze artifacts; and the first decorated tumi, or ceremonial knives, ever discovered by archaeologists at a burial site.
The graves belong to elite members of the Middle Sican culture, a gold-working people whose farming culture thrived in Peru’s desert coastal region from around A.D. 900 to 1100.
Much more than in previous stories, and very interesting so make sure to read the whole thing.
Archaeologist Finds Pottery, Wood Water Mains Downtown
When construction workers peel back the pavement in lower Manhattan, it’s like opening a skylight into the old New York — a place where water flowed through hollowed-out logs and the streets were crowded with ship builders, pottery makers, and tavern riffraff.
More than 3,000 objects have been found under Beekman Street between Pearl and Water streets, where archaeologist Alyssa Loorya has been monitoring a city construction site for the last two years.