Ancient Greenland mystery has a simple answer, it seems
The Greenland Norse colonized North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus “discovered” it, establishing farms in the sheltered fjords of southern Greenland, exploring Labrador and the Canadian Arctic, and setting up a short-lived outpost in Newfoundland.
But by 1450, they were gone, posing one of history’s most intriguing mysteries: What happened to the Greenland Norse?
There are many theories: They were starved off by a cooling climate, wiped out by pirates or Inuit hunters, or perhaps blended into Inuit society as their own came unglued.
Now scientists are pretty sure they have the answer: They simply up and left.
“When the climate deteriorated, and their way of life became more difficult, they did what people have done throughout the ages: They looked for a more opportune place to live,” says Niels Lynnerup, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark who studies the Norse.
I didn’t think there were any real competing hypotheses.
Mark Rose (of Archaeology magazine sends this link on the Hierakonpolis project (via The EEF.
Maya Politics Likely Played Role In Ancient Large-game Decline
A University of Florida study is the first to document ancient hunting effects on large-game species in the Maya lowlands of Central America, and shows political and social demands near important cities likely contributed to their population decline, especially white-tailed deer.
Additional evidence from Maya culture and social structure at the end of the Classic period (approximately 250 to 800 A.D) strongly supports this assertion.
“We’re finding declines specifically in large-game species, and particularly in the species that were politically and socially important to the Maya,” Emery said. “The politically powerful elite Maya had preferential access to large game, and white-tailed deer were especially important to the Maya as food and for their symbolic power.”
NAGPRA update This link to a Nature article is sub-only so most of you can’t read it. I’ll excerpt a bit:
Anthropologists lobby to retain Native Indian skeletons for study.
Alarm is growing among anthropologists in the United States over a plan that could empty institutions of about 120,000 human skeletons currently stored for research purposes.
Under a new proposal, the bones at museums, universities and federal facilities across the nation could be given to Native American tribes now living in the area from which the remains were excavated, even if the skeletons are not culturally identifiable to the tribes. In October, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) programme, the agency that oversees the handling of American Indian remains, opened a 90-day comment period on the proposal.
It would affect ancient skeletons similar to the Kennewick Man specimen from Washington state. Scientists won a long court battle to keep that 9,000-year-old skeleton for study after attempts to give it to tribes for likely disposal.
This is the first I’ve heard of this. I can’t imagine it will ever be implemented since it specifically goes against the specific wording of NAGPRA which pretty clearly specifies that the will of Congress was to repatriate remains with cearly identifiable relationships to existing tribes. I can’t imagine that no suits would be filed within a half-second of its attempted implementation:
“The rules would be disastrous,” says Phillip Walker, an anthroplogist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A former member of NAGPRA’s seven-person review committee, Walker helped prepare the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) comments.
Comments are pretty typical with the usual moaning about peoples’ “relatives” sitting in museums, others decrying Indian conspiracies, etc.
Chinese archaeologists prepare to open 2,200-year-old coffin
Chinese archaeologists are preparing to open a 2,200-year-old, well-preserved coffin in central China’s Hubei Province, which may contain large amounts of silk fabrics.
A detailed plan is being drawn up to open the coffin, excavated in the Xiejiaqiao No. 1 Tomb dating back to about 200 B.C. in Jingzhou City, said Yan Pin, director of Jingzhou Cultural Heritage Bureau.
The coffin was transported to a storehouse in the Jingzhou City Museum where archaeologists will open it on Thursday if everything goes well, Yan told Xinhua.
Russian archaeologists find unique mummies in Egypt
Russian archaeologists have found well-preserved mummies in Egypt dating to the country’s Ptolemaic era, the head of the Russian Academy of Science’s Egyptology department announced on Tuesday.
“Well-preserved mummies of this period are extremely rare,” Galina Belova said.
The discoveries were made in the Egyptian oasis of Al-Fayum, where several mummies, combining traits of Hellenic and Egyptian traditions, have previously been found.
Trip through history paves road for future
he young men and women toiling in jeans, bandannas and cargo pants to the side of Ga. 372 in Cherokee County look more like hikers or a Grateful Dead audience than road-builders. Their metal detectors and dirt sifters hanging from bamboo tripods look more like camping gear than the tools of transportation.
The workers are archaeologists, and under federal law, they are as critical to laying asphalt as the machines that make a roadbed or laborers who spread tar.
Georgia’s $1 billion-plus a year of federal road-building money hinges on their ability to preserve historical sites before the asphalt hits the ground.
Underwater archaeologists explore wreck from Spanish expedition to Florida Panhandle
When Matthew Kuehne dives to the sandy bottom of Pensacola Bay, he reaches back 450 years to Spaniard Don Tristan de Luna’s hurricane-doomed effort to form the first colony in the present-day United States.
Archaeologists say the buried hull of a ship from de Luna’s fleet of 11 ships holds crucial clues to the 1559 expedition that sailed from Mexico to Florida’s Panhandle. That was six years before another Spanish explorer, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, founded St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States.
The ship’s discovery was announced in October after lead sheeting and pottery from the wreck site were matched to the de Luna expedition. Another ship in the fleet was found nearby in 1992.
Reburial of Bones at Cinnamon Bay on Hold Pending Hassell Island Work
The excavation of a grave for the reinterment of centuries-old human remains found at Cinnamon Bay over the past several years has temporarily taken a back seat to a large project which is keeping V.I. National Park Archaeologist Ken Wild busy — the restoration of Hassell Island.
An historic floor of the kitchen of a 17th-century house was discovered at the original Cinnamon Bay site where the remains — likely those of men, women and children who died in a cholera epidemic sometime between 1680 and the 1800s — were to be reinterred.
Wild and his interns began digging a second burial pit behind the Cinnamon Bay archaeology lab, and progress at the site has significantly slowed since the Hassell Island project began.
Recent, but cool ‘Lost’ Great War Tank Unearthed In Time For 90th Anniversary Memorial Event
The grandson of a soldier who fought in one of history’s first major tank battles will see his grandfather’s First World War vehicle – unearthed from a French farmer’s field – take pride of place at a 90th anniversary memorial event.
Tim Heap, 55, a University of Derby lecturer from Winster, Derbyshire, will this weekend attend the unveiling of a memorial to all the soldiers who died at the Battle of Cambrai, northern France, in November 1917, in memory of his grandfather Frank Heap; a tank commander in the conflict which saw more than 300 British tanks used to break through the German Hindenburg line.
The 19-year-old soldier escaped death when his tank was shelled three times, killing four of its nine-man crew, only because he had stepped outside the Mark IV ‘Deborah’ vehicle to take compass directions. One shell landed where he had been sitting a minute before.