July 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:56 pm

Eclipses in Ancient China Spurred Science, Beheadings?

The Olympics aren’t the only epic event occurring in China next month. A total solar eclipse, the first since 2006, will turn day to night on Friday, the first of August.

The eclipse will also be visible in parts of northern Canada, Greenland, Siberia, and Mongolia.

Many Chinese will celebrate the celestial event with parties and viewing festivities—but it wasn’t always so.

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Mummy update

First indication for embalming in Roman Greece

A Swiss-Greek research team co-lead by Dr. Frank Rühli from the Institute of Anatomy, University of Zurich, found indication for embalming in Roman Greek times. By means of physico-chemical and histological methods, it was possible to show that various resins, oils and spices were used during embalming of a ca. 55 year old female in Northern Greece. This is the first ever multidisciplinary-based indication for artificial mummification in Greece at 300 AD.

The remains of a ca. 55-year old female (ca. 300 AD, most likely of high-social status; actual location: Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece) shows the preservation of various soft-tissues, hair and part of a gold-embroidered silk cloth. This unique find allows multidisciplinary research on these tissues. In addition to macroscopic and anthropological analyses, electron microscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry examinations were also performed. These showed the presence of various embalming substances including myrrh, fats and resins, but could not demonstrate clearly a conservatory influence of the surrounding lead coffin from Roman period.

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Bones mystery

CREMATED bones thought to date from around 3,500BC to 2,000BC have been unearthed by archaeologists during a dig near Lough Fea.
A team of four archaeologists came across a mound of stones, known as a cairn which often points to a burial site, at the Creagh Concrete plant near Blackwater Bridge.

The find was unearthed when workers from Creagh Concrete were extracting gravel earlier this week. An archaeologist is always present on site when work of this nature is being carried out.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:49 pm

A Fake Ancient Disc?

The hundred-year-old mystery of a famous ancient artifact, according to one art history scholar, might be summed up with a single word: hubris.

In the current issue of Minerva, an art and archaeology journal, Jerome M. Eisenberg calls the famous Phaistos Disc, thought to be a story or sacred text of unknown but ancient origin, a fraud. The flat, circular clay disc is about six inches in diameter, and its purpose and stamped pictographic script have been the subject of scholarly debate over the last century.

The comments are mostly uninteresting.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:45 pm

Discovering How Greeks Computed in 100 B.C.

The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the first analog computer, was recovered more than a century ago in the wreckage of a ship that sank off the tiny island of Antikythera, north of Crete. Earlier research showed that the device was probably built between 140 and 100 B.C.

Only now, applying high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography, have experts been able to decipher inscriptions and reconstruct functions of the bronze gears on the mechanism. The latest research has revealed details of dials on the instrument’s back side, including the names of all 12 months of an ancient calendar.

Neat because it’s actual data.

July 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:04 pm

Large Roman settlement unearthed by builders

A HUGE early Roman settlement unearthed in Cirencester is the most significant historical discovery ever made in the town, archaeologists said this week.

The encampment which covers several hectares, dates back to the late-Iron Age in the 1st century ad, and was likely to have been occupied by the first Roman settlers in Cirencester.

Alongside the exciting discovery at the Kingshill development on the A417, Oxford Archaeologists unearthed a Bronze Age burial mound dating back to 2,000 bc containing a skeleton.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:59 pm

Archaeologists pleased with accomplishments of visit

While there was no “spectacular” shipwrecks discovered on their inaugural exploration of waters off L’Anse aux Meadows, underwater archaeologists are raving about the potential for marine cultural resources.

John Moore, a member of the team, described the results of the nine-day preliminary exploration as accomplishments rather than findings. The team spoke to local fisherman and residents about the known history of the marine environment on the Northern Peninsula and learned the logistics of the area in terms of navigation and hazards.

“For us, it is kind of a big deal,” Moore told The Western Star Tuesday via cellphone from Rocky Harbour. “It doesn’t sound like much, but to us it is.”

Not apparently expecting to find any Norse remains.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:58 pm

Archaeologists Find Forgotten Graveyard

Archaeologists uncovered four Colonial period graves and the remains of a fence that bounded the cemetery during a two week study of historic Port Tobacco. At least one of the graves is that of a child.

Volunteers from across Maryland, as well as from New York and New Jersey, participated in the excavation of four sites that had been identified during an archaeological survey of the Colonial town site last fall. Project sponsors included the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, Charles County’s departments of Planning and Economic Development, the Maryland Historical Trust, and the Archeological Society of Maryland.

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Archaeologists to investigate town

ARCHAEOLOGISTS and volunteers are set to dig in Ledbury gardens in the search for clues regarding the town’s medieval history.

Local volunteers with the Victoria County History project have been busy measuring street frontages this summer in a bid to discover more about the Ledbury’s development in the Middle Ages.

The idea is that more recent buildings were probably built on a earlier medieval foundations.

July 29, 2008

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Online paper alert Prehistory vs. Archaeology: Terms of Engagement

David Clarke wrote that ‘A modern empirical discipline ought to be able to aim at more rewarding results than the maintenance of … a steady flow of counterfeit history books’ (Clarke 1978, p. 1), and it seemed very clear to him that ‘archaeology is archaeology is archaeology’. When done analytically, it could contribute to an interpretive picture that might be a source for writing prehistory, or even history, but it was—or should be—disciplinarily distinct. More recently, Richard Bradley, decrying a ‘loss of nerve’ among archaeologists, has insisted that we must ‘aspire to write human history’ (1993, p. 131). And, outlining the emerging theory of ‘materiality’, I have described artefacts as ‘social things that yet survive’, and therefore entities with a potential for ‘eroding Clarke’s politely drawn but never wholly convincing distinction between archaeology as a study of artifacts and prehistory as a form of history made possible by it’ (Taylor 2008, p. 315). I will return to this later, but note that, at least from outside our discipline(s), descriptions of what we do, and its preferred terminologies, may be confusing. Are they actually confused?

Haven’t read it yet but it’s an academic thing, so perhaps too dry for the average reader (or even a lot of professional readers). Reminds me of some of the issues Dunnell tackled in Systematics in Prehistory. Matter of act, he has this to say:

Prehistory has been defined many times and in various ways, this fact itself contributing in no small measure to the vagueness surrounding the meaning. Universal acceptance has not been accorded any definition, at least in part because all the definitions are more or less substantive, tied to a given area or problem. (p.114)

He notes that Spaulding defined ‘prehistory’ in 1953 as what prehistorians do and nothing more. I guess we’re bound to have this discussion every 30 years or so. “What is it we’re doing again?”

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