May 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:18 pm

Cyprus researches millenia-old wine jars in wreck

Archaeologists have started research into what they believe may be the oldest known ancient shipwreck off Cyprus which sank with hundreds of jars of wine on board 2,350 years ago.

In what could be described as a super-tanker of ancient times, Cypriot marine archaeologists say it appears to be one of the best preserved wrecks in the region, carrying hundreds of jars of wine dating from the mid-fourth century BC.

“We have very few wrecks so well preserved in the eastern Mediterranean dating from the classical period,” said Dr Stella Demesticha, visiting lecturer of underwater archaeology at the University of Cyprus.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:13 pm

! ! ! ! Footprints in the ash

Footprints left in volcanic ash that fell in central Mexico’s Valsequillo Basin about 40,000 years ago are evidence that humans have inhabited the Americas far longer than previously confirmed, a new study suggests.

Analyses of three-dimensional laser scans of the imprints (example at right) confirm their human origin, says Silvia Gonzalez, a geoarchaeologist at Liverpool John Moores University in England.

Previous finds of human remains elsewhere in the region couldn’t be precisely dated because they were found in layers of mixed gravels that probably incorporated materials of many different ages.

I remember (I think) posting something about this a couple of years ago. Then, the dating of the ash layer was controversial, some having the stuff as 1+ millions years old. And the human nature of the footprints was also in question. We at ArchaeoBlog remain dubious.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:09 pm

Mummy update

Egypt planning DNA test for 3,500-year-old mummy

Egypt plans to conduct a DNA test on a 3,500-year-old mummy to determine if it is King Thutmose I, one of the most important pharaohs, the country’s chief archaeologist said Thursday.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities chief, said the DNA test and an X-ray will be carried out on a mummy found at the site of ancient Thebes on the west bank of the Nile, what is today Luxor’s Valley of the Kings, the Middle East News Agency reported.

Hawass said a mummy on display in the Egyptian Museum that was purported for many years to be Thutmose I was not actually the ancient ruler’s remains.

With their new lab up and running there ought to be a whole slough of data coming in the near future. A lot of people have been pushing for extensive DNA testing of extant mummies for quite a while in order to sort out the various lineages and identities of the mummies.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:06 pm

Rewriting Greenland’s immigration history

This time, focus is on Greenland, and the scientific evidence is DNA analyses of hair from the Disco Bay ice fjord area in north-west Greenland, which are well-preserved after 4,000 years in permafrost soil. The team’s discovery makes it necessary to review Greenland’s immigration history. Until now, science regarded it as a possibility that the earliest people in Greenland were direct ancestors of the present-day Greenlandic population.

It now turns out that the original immigrants on the maternal side, which is reflected in the mitochondrial DNA, instead came from a Siberian population whose closest present-day descendants come from the Aleutian Islands on the boundary between the Northern Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea and the Seriniki Yuit in north-east Siberia. Discovered in more recent times by the Dane Vitus Bering in 1741, the Aleutian Islands today include some 300 islands spanning 1,900 km from Alaska in the USA to the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:18 am

Thank you and goodbye

My name is Andrew Exum, and for the past year and a half, I have had the great pleasure of editing this blog under the ridiculous pseudonym “Abu Muqawama.”

I started this blog as a joke – hence the tongue-in-cheek name – and have been shocked to discover that a year and a half on, we have a dedicated readership whose numbers have been growing exponentially. . . .Unrelated to reader harassment, this is my last post for the blog.

Not as a hint or anything. To be honest, I’ve never even read that particular blog until today and probably won’t ever go back. BUT. I’ve often contemplated getting a co-blogger or two. Kinda makes one wonder why one blogs in the first place. Mainly I do so because I love archaeology and I feel compelled to throw myself out there. Partly this is due to my own innate exhibitionism in which I may freely indulge in the relative anonymity of the Interwebs. Besides, I’ve participated in various national/international online fora over the years so I am used to tossing my opinion out there for all to see and rip on me about (note: argue against a conspiracy theory at your peril). I feel comfortable expounding on whatever strikes my fancy as long as there is some vague and barely supportable thread connecting it to archaeology. (Or not. Though I can usually force one if need be)

Academiblogs can prosper in a multi-poster format, such as VOlokh’s lawblog. OTOH, as posted about here on various occasions, archy bloggers aren’t all that common. I’d like to bring in someone else with different areas of expertise, but most who would blog are already doing so elsewhere and those who aren’t probably think it’s a waste of time. Or something. I, of course, have argued long and often that blogging really ought to be a part of nearly every academic’s life.

Although I look down the side of the page there and find that Andie is still a contributor. But, as I say, she already blogs elsewhere.

I can sympathize with Mr. Exum on the whole time issue. If you really want to make a nifty site with ads and affiliate links and multiple posters and comments and what-not, it takes a bit of time. Every now and then I’ve made a half-hearted attempt to go to a new service, make a new site, etc., but then I remember that I’ve got excavation profiles to trace and scan, unit descriptions to write, etc., and isn’t that what doing archaeology is all about? And I don’t even have a Ph.D. dissertation to write!

May 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:08 pm

Preservationists say gas drilling imperils ancient carvings

Along Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon lies what some call the longest art gallery in the world – thousands of prehistoric rock carvings and paintings of bighorn sheep and other wildlife, hunters wielding spears, and warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat.

But now, a dramatic increase in natural gas drilling is proposed on the plateau above the canyon, and preservationists fear trucks will kick up dust that will cover over the images. And they worry that one possible solution – a chemical dust suppressant – could make things worse by corroding the rock.

I like this: Company spokesman Jim Felton defended the project, saying if drilling does not go forward, the implications will be “immediate, dire and drastic” . . .

Followed by: “The threat is real and imminent and frightening,” Moe said in a statement.

Let’s just ratchet up the rhetoric some more!

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:05 pm

Thousand-year-old Lombard warrior skeleton discovered buried with horse in Italy

The skeleton, which was found in a park at Testona, near Turin, is of a 25-year-old Lombard who died of a fever. Unusually, his horse was buried alongside him.

“This is a very rare find,” said Gabriella Pantò, the archaeologist leading the dig. “We have not seen many precedents in Italy. We have seen horses’ heads buried with warriors, but this find shows the area is vitally important,” she added.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:57 pm

Will Judean Desert find shed light on Shroud of Turin?

Can a 6,000-year-old shroud uncovered in the Judean Desert in 1993 help illuminate the centuries-old debate over the Shroud of Turin?

That is the question posed by Olga Negnevitsky, a conservator at the Israel Museum who was involved in the conservation of the lesser-known shroud for the Antiquities Authority after it was discovered inside a small cave near Jericho.

The idea to use the older shroud to learn more about the famous one came to Negnevitsky this week after she listened to an address on the Shroud of Turin at the International Art Conference in Jerusalem on the conservation of cultural and environmental heritage.

Y’know, this is he first I’ve heard of this thing. It could be pretty informative, at least for comparative purposes.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:56 pm

Ancient Egyptian Temple Entrance Found in Nile River

Archaeologists have discovered a portico, or covered entryway, of an ancient Egyptian temple beneath the surface of the Nile River.

The entryway once led to the temple of the ram-headed fertility god Khnum, experts say.

A team of Egyptian archaeologist-divers found the portico in Aswan while conducting the first-ever underwater surveys of the Nile, which began earlier this year.

“The Nile has shifted, and this part of the temple began to be a part of [the river],” said Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:51 pm

Iraq’s Ancient Tablets to Get New, Virtual Life

A technology normally used in reconstructive surgery to create prosthetic limbs is now being applied to create reproductions of Iraq’s precious and fragile cuneiform clay tablets, according to an Italian team of researchers.

. . .

Called “Duplication and Rebirth,” the project consist of an electronic catalogue with bibliographical references, photographs, and when possible, 3D images of the tablets. These three-dimensional models can then produce exact replicas of the original relics.

Everybody should be doing this.

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