No blogging for a few days as I am out doing nothing that involves a computer. For your interest and enjoyment, here is a link to Sequim, WA where I will be. Eating at least twice at the 3 Crabs; YUM.
Posting will resume on or about April 1. No foolin’!
Paleoanth update Human Ancestor Fossil Found
A small piece of jawbone unearthed in a cave in Spain is the oldest known fossil of a human ancestor in Europe and suggests that people lived on the continent much earlier than previously believed, scientists say.
The researchers said the fossil found last year at Atapuerca in northern Spain, along with stone tools and animal bones, is up to 1.3 million years old. That would be 500,000 years older than remains from a 1997 find that prompted the naming of a new species: Homo antecessor, or Pioneer Man, possibly a common ancestor to Neanderthals and modern humans.
Early Egyptians Revered Lowly Donkeys
When archaeologists excavated brick tombs outside a ceremonial site for an early king of Egypt, they expected to find the remains of high officials who had been sacrificed to accompany the king in his posthumous travels.
Instead, they found donkeys.
No other animals have ever been found at such sites. Even at the tombs of the kings themselves, the only animals buried alongside were ones full of symbolism like lions.
But at this funerary complex, overlooking the ancient town of Abydos on the Nile about 300 miles south of Cairo, the archaeologists discovered the skeletons of 10 donkeys that had been buried as if they were high-ranking human officials.
There’s a few good bits in there, notably regarding domestication. They indicate that the critters were not distinguishable from wild forms which sort of, but does not entirely, undercut one of those Signs of Domestication (morphologically different, out of natural range, etc.); they’re not really mutually inclusive.
Too bad it’s not the same today. One thing I just hate hate HATE about working in Egypt is the poor quality of the animals. Donks (homar) are widely abused, not necessarily intentional physical abuse — though that does happen — but they don’t receive the best care, generally.
Remains of rare Roman roundhouse found during sewer works
One of the most important archaeological finds for decades has been uncovered during a sewer improvement project in Poulton.
The remains of a Roman roundhouse, thought to date back to the second century, have been discovered on grazing land close to the town.
The find was made by workers from United Utilities who were involved in preliminary excavations at the start of a £10 million sewer improvement scheme for the area.
To Catch a Thief
In the fall of 2006, a history devotee named Dean Thomas was surprised by something he saw on eBay, the online auction house. Someone was offering 144-year-old letters sent by munitions companies to Philadelphia’s Frankford Arsenal, a major supplier of the Union Army during the Civil War. How had he missed these? Thomas wondered. Hadn’t he combed the records of that very arsenal in that very conflict? “Boy, am I a dummy,” he thought.
Good show. Not a while lot of ‘archaeology’ there, but neat nonetheless.
Archaeologist raises fears over new port site
DROGHEDA Port Company`s plans for a new deep water port at Bremore near Balbriggan have run into controversy after a leading Meath archaeologist said that the chosen site was of huge archaeological and historical significance and could have been the place where St Patrick first landed in Ireland.
The company plans to build the major new port at a cost of €300 million. However, Meath archaeologist Professor George Eogan, known for his work on the Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth archaeological sites, says that the area contains a unified prehistoric cemetery of mounds that extends for over a mile, from Gormanston, north of the Delvin river, to Bremore, which is to the south of the river. The river marks the boundary between Meath and Fingal.
He said that Bremore had the appearance of being a landing place for early people coming to Ireland and that passage tombs were the likely burial places for people coming from the Iberian peninsula.
The actual remains at the site seem a better angle than it possibly being maybe the place that some say St. Patrick may have landed at some point.
I noticed the ‘Drogheda’ which is a significant aspect of one of my favorite books.
Please, no snickering.
Earliest Signs Of Corn As Staple Food Found After Spreading South From Mexican Homeland
Corn has long been known as the primary food crop in prehistoric North and Central America. Now it appears it may have been an important part of the South American diet for much longer than previously thought, according to new research by University of Calgary archaeologists who are cobbling together the ancient history of plant domestication in the New World.
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U of C PhD student Sonia Zarrillo and archaeology professor Dr. Scott Raymond report that a new technique for examining ancient cooking pots has produced the earliest directly dated examples of domesticated corn (maize) being consumed on the South American continent. Their discovery shows the spread of maize out of Mexico more than 9,000 years ago occurred much faster than previously believed and provides evidence that corn was likely a vital food crop for villages in tropical Ecuador at least 5,000 years ago.
The lowly sweet potato may unlock America’s past
One of the enduring mysteries of world history is whether the Americas had any contact with the Old World before Columbus, apart from the brief Viking settlement in Newfoundland. Many aspects of higher civilisation in the New World, from the invention of pottery to the building of pyramids, have been ascribed to European, Asian or African voyagers, but none has stood up to scrutiny.
The one convincing piece of evidence for pre-Hispanic contact has been the humble sweet potato, which is of tropical American origin but widely cultivated across the Pacific islands. Until a few years ago it was assumed that this was the result of Spanish transmission, dating to the early colonial period, but archaeological discoveries in the Cook Islands show this to be wrong: excavations at Mangaia yielded carbonised remains of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) dating to AD1000, five centuries before Europeans entered the Pacific Ocean.
They modeled accidental and natural drift patterns from South/Central America to various points in the Pacific. Must read this paper.
UofL team determines gender of science center’s mummy
A University of Louisville research team recently helped the Louisville Science Center learn more about an old friend — a 2,600-year-old friend.
Actually, the friend, a mummy called Then-Hotep, is more like a family member, having been one of the most popular attractions at the science center and its forerunner, the Natural History Museum, since the early part of the last century. But throughout all of those years, it kept one big secret: Nobody knew its gender.
Until now. Under the leadership of professor Aly Farag, director of the Computer Vision and Imaging Process lab at J.B. Speed School of Engineering, the UofL team applied technological and forensic expertise to verify that Then-Hotep is a female.