June 30, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:11 am

Best shortest album ever

According to the Amazon review it was inspired by their Live Aid performance in 1985 and subsequently released with two outtakes. Before you go out and buy/download it, remember that IT’S ONLY 4 SONGS.

The version of “Bad” on this is possibly one of my favorite songs ever. It’s live and it absolutely rocks. It’s impossible to turn it up loud enough. Trust me on this; it is one track that needs an 11. The other live track is similarly rockin’, and the two studio tracks are both excellent. The recordings on the live tracks are very well done also, often a rarity. I think if I could ever see “Bad” performed live I could die happy immediately thereafter.

Which I guess virtually guarantees that I should never actually go see it if presented with the opportunity.

U2 is one of those rare bands that never really tails off in either popularity or quality, though I suppose Zooropa and Pop can be used persuasively to argue against the latter point (I certainly would). When they get away from the basics, I tend not to like it very much. For me, they reached a high point with Achtung Baby which, were it an old vinyl LP, would probably be worn smooth by now. Every stinking song on that album is good. I played it a lot in Egypt so it still brings back memories of, um, well, food poisoning and car accidents. But also wandering the Fayum, sipping papaya juice by the water, etc.

My first trip to Egypt is also made memorable by Pink Floyd’s The Wall which I only really listened to for the first time while there. Weird. I also have REM’s Green burned into my memory associated with the Metropolitan Hotel in Alexandria for some reason. Yes, back in the oooooold days, we were forced to spend 2-3 months in Egypt with nothing but whatever cassette tapes (CDs later) we could/would carry over. I would have absolutely killed for my 30 gig iPod back then.

UPDATE: Gotta admit, I’m listening to Pop at the moment and it’s an excellent recording no matter what you think of the content. Everything is absolutely clear and the stereo separation makes the speakers seem to disappear. No matter what, those guys are perfectionists.

June 29, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:10 pm


A Team of archaeologists from Bath has helped uncover an ancient stone circle in one of Britain’s most remote locations.

Members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (Bacas) have taken part in a two-week excavation on Foula, part of the Shetland Islands.

The team was previously involved in an extensive geophysical survey on the island in May last year.

They were invited back to investigate the possibility that an early Bronze Age ceremonial enclosure, aligned to the midwinter sunrise, had been discovered.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:07 pm

Earliest-known evidence of peanut, cotton and squash farming found

Anthropologists working on the slopes of the Andes in northern Peru have discovered the earliest-known evidence of peanut, cotton and squash farming dating back 5,000 to 9,000 years. Their findings provide long-sought-after evidence that some of the early development of agriculture in the New World took place at farming settlements in the Andes.

The discovery was published in the June 29 issue of Science.

The research team made their discovery in the �anchoc Valley, which is approximately 500 meters above sea level on the lower western slopes of the Andes in northern Peru.

They seem to base “domestication” or agriculture on a lack of wild species of the plants in the area they were found. If true, that will probably be the arguable point, if they haven’t gone a long way towards demonstrating that it never grew there. But, I should get a look at the article over the weekend.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:06 pm

More Hatshepsut Al-Ahram article, mostly summarizes the Hawass article posted earlier, but with additional background information.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:02 pm

Fight! Fight! After losing contract on site, archaeological firm sues Marana

A local archaeological firm that accuses Marana officials of sabotaging a contract and damaging its reputation has filed a lawsuit against the town.

The complaint, filed in Pima County Superior Court earlier this month, says town officials caused Aztlan Archaeology Inc. to lose a job and harmed the firm’s reputation and ability to do business. The complaint seeks unspecified damages.

The town hasn’t received a copy of the lawsuit or responded, Town Attorney Frank Cassidy said.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:56 am

This blog is rated PG

Probably all of the hedonism and smut.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:39 am

More old stuff that I own

F Anyone’s I, for those following the continuing saga of my 1978 Mustang II, I have also started restoring my old 1970-something Schwinn bicycle. Looks something like this:

(with handlebars though)

Typical drop-handlebar bike from that era. Mine is dark blue and doesn’t actually have any stickers on it marking what it is.

Why, you may ask?

Because it’s a replacement frame.

Why, you may ask?

Because one time I was racing my brother and another guy, head down, pumping away, NOT LOOKING WHERE I WAS GOING, when I looked up and saw a parked car coming straight at me. This was in the days before helmets, you understand. So anyway, I hit the brakes, but it was too late and I smacked into it at almost full speed. Happily, I had toe clips so I didn’t go flying all the way over the car, I just did a 180 and ended up bouncing off the trunk and flopping down next to the rear tire.

Luckily, I landed on my head.

Broke the stupid frame almost in half, but both I and the car emerged largely unhurt. I eventually got the new frame and it’s been schlepped with me everywhere. I tried commuting with it in Seattle for a couple of months, but the streets here would not be out of place in, say, the back country of Namibia, and the amount of cars makes a daily bike ride into a Death Race 2000 kind of ordeal.

Yes, I could just get a new one. But, you know, I like old things, and I won’t ride it that much, and besides, bike technology hasn’t really gone off on any great cosmic leaps since then. It’s a bit heavy, but otherwise entirely functional.

And now that you all know that my audio system is from the 1970s, my car is from the 1970s, and now my bicycle is as well, you may well be wondering “ArchaeoBlog, are you really stuck in the 1970s?”

“Why no. No, I’m not. Why do you ask?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:54 am

Why Do Cats Hang Around Us? (Hint: They Can’t Open Cans)

Your hunch is correct. Your cat decided to live with you, not the other way around. The sad truth is, it may not be a final decision.

But don’t take this feline diffidence personally. It runs in the family. And it goes back a long way — about 12,000 years, actually.

Those are among the inescapable conclusions of a genetic study of the origins of the domestic cat, being published today in the journal Science.

The findings, drawn from an analysis of nearly 1,000 cats around the world, suggest that the ancestors of today’s tabbies, Persians and Siamese wandered into Near Eastern settlements at the dawn of agriculture. They were looking for food, not friendship.

They found what they were seeking in the form of rodents feeding on stored grain.

Sum: They sampled various wild cat species from all over the globe, but found that modern domestic cats were descended not from a lot of local species, but from a single species native to the Near East. That implies that domestication occurred throughout the world by migration of already-domesticated cats rather than local in situ domestication of local species.

They explain this as a new habitat/resource having been developed through agriculture and its concomitant concentrations of stored grain which attract concentrations of rodents, etc. This, they say, led to cats hanging out around people and eventually selecting those characteristics that allowed the cats to be more tolerant of human presence.

I tend to think their angle on it is a little misleading. One could argue, as David Rindos has, that all domestication is a form of co-evolution. That is, the critters get as much evolutionary benefit from the relationship as the humans do. This is at odds with our notions of both evolutionary benefit — it doesn’t refer to the individual’s well-being, but the reproductive success of the population — and the domestication process. The latter we tend to view as more of a conscious act by people to actively domesticate plants and animals for our benefit. This leads to all sorts of explanatory problems, most notably “Why didn’t they do it earlier then?” So, it may not be all that different from any other domesticate.

At any rate, the results were still interesting. At first, I thought the whole grain-attracting-mice-attracting-cats idea was a just-so story — I guess it still is — but it makes some sense. Agriculture seems to have spread out from the Middle East by actual movements of people rather than ideas or products (at least to Europe) and rats and mice seem to follow wherever people go (e.g., island hopping with Polynesians), so one could easily see the cats simply following the food source.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more neat this seems. Are there cat remains associated with New World agriculture? If not, why didn’t a similar domestication occur there in conjunction with agricultural development? What sort of archaeological association is there with cats and early agriculture? Can you map domestic cat remains alongside the spread of agriculture?

So, very neat article I think.

“Interesting theory. Now, get me some fish flakes while you’re up.”

June 28, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:40 am

Hedonism at ArchaeoBlog Ancient Rome’s Forgotten Paradise

It was Malibu, New York and Washington, D.C. all rolled into one. Before A.D. 79, when the erupting Mount Vesuvius engulfed it along with Pompeii and Herculaneum, the small port town of Stabiae in southern Italy was the summer resort of choice for some of the Roman Empire’s most powerful men. Julius Caesar, the emperors Augustus and Tiberius and the statesman-philosopher Cicero all had homes there.

. . .

Stabiae is about to be wrested from anonymity, thanks in no small measure to a local high school principal and one of his students. Large-scale excavations are scheduled to begin this summer on a $200-million project for a 150-acre Stabiae archeological park—one of the largest archeological projects in Europe since World War II.

Thomas Noble Howe, Coordinator General of the non-profit Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation (RAS) and art history chair at Southwestern University in Texas, describes the villas, believed to number at least six or seven, as “the largest concentration of well-preserved elite seafront Roman villas in the entire Mediterranean world.”

Long article, all free access it seems.

June 27, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:30 pm

Trip Report II: Recent geology

This will be a relatively short entry since by this time I was feeling pretty lousy and going out to look at this stuff would have taken a lot of tme and energy. But I still managed a couple of personal photos while on the way to and from various places.

First of all, an omission from yesterday: The below is a photo of the same Niagara rock that I showed in the photos from High Cliff Park but this time about 60 miles south of there along a road between Fond du Lac and Eden:

So you really can trace this stuff a long way just by paying attention as you drive around.

Now, on to the Late Pleistocene!

Wisconsin marked the terminal extent of the last major glaciation called, not coincidentally, the Wisconsin glaciation. This page will give a better overview of it than I can. Suffice it to say there are numerous glacial geomorphologic features within just a few miles of Fond du Lac.

My family used to drive from FdL north along the Ledge (151) for about 20 miles and then up and over said Ledge and east over to Chilton where my maternal grandmother lived. I noticed early on that once we got over the Ledge the road crossed over numerous small hills. Turned out we were entering a drumlin field. For a good description of these see here. Years later when I would ride my bike up into the farmland after work during the summer I stopped at the crest of a hill and looked over to see an enormous ovoid hill, which ended up being part of an equally enormous drumlin field:

(from the web age above)

These things are very regular in their directionality and I had a geology prof in undergrad school who said he used to use them as navigation aids while flying. Well, while I was driving to Widmer’s Cheese in Theresa to grab some fine Wisconsin cheese products, I found this absolutely ideal drumlim sitting in the distance over a marsh:

It’s absolutely classic having its blunt end towards the northeast. It’s hard to see these things clearly most of the time since they’re usually covered with trees and other hills get in the way.

The other feature we see a lot of are glacial erratics which are stones that the ice carried down and dumped. The farmers around Wisconsin used to pull these things out of their fields all the time. I have something of a personal stake in this as my mother’s father was killed while pulling one out of a field when she was a young girl, so I never knew him. They would have to regularly keep pulling them out because frost heave would keep pushing them up from lower down. They used to pile them up alongside their fields and create rock fences out of them; I tried to find some to photograph, but could not. I really remember them as a kid, but maybe they’re all grown over with weeds in the summer. At any rate, I did find one good picture of a classic erratic:

Sorry about the focus in the second one. I took a close-up to show that it is probably a granite and thus obviously from elsewhere, as we have already seen that the buk of rock in SE Wisconsin is dolomite.

Check out the links pointed to above for other stuff related to Wisconsin glacial geology. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there.

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