February 27, 2008

Maya blue

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:02 pm

Feeling blue? Not like a Maya sacrificial victim

“The interest in Maya blue stems from the fact that it is a very durable pigment — more durable than most natural dyes and pigments. It also stems from the fact it wasn’t immediately obvious how it was made and what the key ingredients were.”

The pigment resists age, acid, weathering, biodegradation and modern chemical solvents. Previous research had identified two ingredients as extract from the leaves of the indigo plant and an unusual white clay mineral called palygorskite.

These researchers did microscopic analysis on material found in a three-footed pottery bowl in the museum’s collection dating from A.D. 1400 that had been used as an incense burner.

I’d thought someone figured out Maya blue a while ago, but I guess not. The blue goo at the bottom of the cenote is way cool. Feinman was one of my perfessers at the U of Wisconsin.

February 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:30 pm

City honors Washington’s slave – and ‘power of archaeology’

Oney Judge died 160 years ago yesterday, 52 years after she cast off her bonds, 52 years after fleeing Philadelphia to escape the man and woman who owned her and who wanted to give her away as a wedding bauble – George and Martha Washington.

Oney Judge was about 75 when she died in New Hampshire on Feb. 25, 1848. Her husband was dead. Her three children were dead. But she died a free woman – if still legally a fugitive – one who had defied the first president of the United States.

Mayor Nutter recognized her tenacity by issuing an official city tribute in honor of the anniversary, and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, with Council President Anna C. Verna, issued a similar citation in the name of City Council.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:30 pm

Storms Dig Up Historic Secrets Along Oregon Coast

he storms that have lashed Oregon’s scenic coast this winter have dredged up an unusual array of once-buried secrets: old shipwrecks, historic cannons, ghost forests — even strangely shaped iron deposits.

One of the first ships to emerge from the sands was recently identified as the George L. Olson, which ran aground at Coos Bay’s North Jetty on June 23, 1944.

The shipwreck has become a tourist attraction on the southern Oregon coast. Interest became so great that authorities had to reroute traffic around the ship and post signs warning visitors to leave it alone because it is now an archaeological site.

The curiosities began showing up after December when Pacific storms pummeled the state, damaging thousands of homes and causing an estimated $60 million in damage to roads, bridges and public buildings.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:28 pm

Archaeological treasures found in Roscrea Roscrea notes

A ‘beautiful’ Bronze Age axe and a number of ancient burial grounds have been unearthed near Roscrea during the construction of the new Dublin-Limerick motorway in the area.

The bronze axe was found in Camblin, south of Roscrea. Archaeologists say the find dates to the later Bronze Age and appears to have been hidden in a shallow pit and never recovered by the person who concealed it.

On a second site in Camblin a medieval iron ‘bearded’ axe was discovered while two Bronze Age enclosed settlements with two ancient houses were found near the N62 Templemore Road.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:27 pm

False Doors for the Dead Among New Egypt Tomb Finds

Three false doors that served as portals for communicating with the dead are among ancient burial remains recently unearthed in a vast Egyptian necropolis, an archaeological team announced.

The discoveries date back to Egypt’s turbulent First Intermediate Period, which ran roughly between 2160 and 2055 B.C.

The period is traditionally thought to have been a chaotic era of bloodshed and power struggles, but little is known based on archaeological evidence.

In addition to the false doors, the Spanish team found two funerary offering tables and a new tomb in the former ancient capital of Herakleopolis—today referred to by its Arabic name Ihnasya el-Medina—about 60 miles (96 kilometers) south of Cairo.

February 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:28 pm

The Lost Treasure of Machu Picchu

SURE, it seemed like a great idea when, last September, President Alan García of Peru reached a preliminary agreement with Yale about the disposition of more than 350 artifacts taken from Machu Picchu. Everyone hoped the settlement might be a break for cultural understanding in the cloudy skies of international cooperation. News reports suggested that Yale would return more than 350 museum-quality artifacts, plus several thousand fragments thought to be of interest mainly to researchers — all of which were taken from the mountaintop Inca archaeological complex nearly a century ago — and that legal title to all the artifacts, even those to be left at Yale for research, would be held by Peru.

But having finally obtained a copy of the agreement, I can see that Yale continues to deny Peru the right to its cultural patrimony, something Peru has demanded since 1920.

It’s an opinion piece, so take it for what it’s worth.

UPDATE: Some replies from Yale here. Actually, not much in the way of replies, just a few statements. They are apparently working on a formal reply.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:24 pm

Cleopatra’s Cosmetics And Hammurabi’s Heineken: Name Brands Far Predating Modern Capitalism

From at least Bass Ale’s red triangle–advertised as “the first registered trademark”–commodity brands have exerted a powerful hold over modern Western society. Marketers and critics alike have assumed that branding began in the West with the Industrial Revolution. But a pioneering new study in the February 2008 issue of Current Anthropology finds that attachment to brands far predates modern capitalism, and indeed modern Western society.

In “Prehistories of Commodity Branding,” author David Wengrow challenges the widespread assumption that branding did not become an important force in social and economic life until the Industrial Revolution. Wengrow presents compelling evidence that labels on ancient containers, which have long been assumed to be simple identifiers, as well as practices surrounding the production and distribution of commodities, actually functioned as branding strategies. Furthermore, these strategies have deep cultural origins and cognitive foundations, beginning in the civilizations of Egypt and Iraq thousands of years ago.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:18 pm

Antarctic may hold the future of archaeology

It is a truism that archaeology begins yesterday, and now with only the archaeology of the future to plan for, the discipline has been expanding into areas of the globe where material culture has hitherto played little part.

Antarctica is one of these new areas: more than two centuries of human occupation have left plentiful traces. At least five successive and partly overlapping phases of activity can be defined: sealing, whaling, polar exploration, scientific investigation and tourism.

Sealing began in the late 18th century, when Captain James Cook’s account of his voyages in the Southern Ocean, published in 1777, included his discovery of South Georgia with its enormous population of fur seals. Sealers from England and the eastern United States swarmed to raid the seal rookeries.

Kind of a neat article exploring the various periods that human presence in the Antarctic went through.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:17 pm

Neolithic artefacts discovered in church

PLANNED repairs to the central heating of a church have uncovered remains suggesting it may have been used as a place of worship in prehistoric times.

Archaeologists now believe the medieval church of St Michaels and All Angels, in Houghton-le-Spring, Wearside, is on the site of earlier places of worship, possibly dating from the Neolithic period.

Old burial grounds have been unearthed during work by the Archaeology Practice, but it has also revealed foundations of previous churches on the site.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:12 pm

Royals weren’t only builders of Maya temples, archaeologist finds

An intrepid archaeologist is well on her way to dislodging the prevailing assumptions of scholars about the people who built and used Maya temples.

From the grueling work of analyzing the “attributes,” the nitty-gritty physical details of six temples in Yalbac, a Maya center in the jungle of central Belize – and a popular target for antiquities looters – primary investigator Lisa Lucero is building her own theories about the politics of temple construction that began nearly two millennia ago.

Her findings from the fill, the mortar and other remnants of jungle-wrapped structures lead her to believe that kings weren’t the only people building or sponsoring Late Classic period temples (from about 550 to 850), the stepped pyramids that rose like beacons out of the southern lowlands as early as 300 B.C.

Doesn’t go into much detail on what the evidence is that leads to these conclusions.

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