Apocalypse in 2012? Date spawns theories, film
Just as “Y2K” and its batch of predictions about the year 2000 have become a distant memory, here comes “Twenty-twelve.”
Fueled by a crop of books, Web sites with countdown clocks, and claims about ancient timekeepers, interest is growing in what some see as the dawn of a new era, and others as an expiration date for Earth: December 21, 2012.
The date marks the end of a 5,126-year cycle on the Long Count calendar developed by the Maya, the ancient civilization known for its advanced understanding of astronomy and for the great cities it left behind in Mexico and Central America.
It already started in 2007.
Someone needs to make a countdown widget that I can put in the sidebar to count down the days. Kind of like the orobouros welcome screen in the old TV show Millennium where members would log on and the screen would say “Welcome, Frank. . .There are 75 Days remaining” (until 2000).
I should get in on this and write some poofy doom-saying book on how everything will go to hell in a handbasket unless you Buy My Book and other assorted survival paraphernalia. Of course, I’d have to use a pseudonym to protect my identity.
“Donald P. Ryan” maybe.
Silbury Hill mystery soon to be resolved
It is, in fact, more than 4,000 years old (c2,400-2,000BC), and its purpose has been a well-kept secret for at least half that time. Suggestions range from the legendary, to the barmy, to the halfway plausible. One has it that the devil built it to hide a gold statue while on the way, for some unknown reason, to Devizes, another that it was the resplendent burial chamber of the mythical warrior king Sil and his horse. There are connections with Arthurian legends, and then there is a hypothesis that, because of high levels of contamination of the water supply by grazing sheep, it formed a kind of reservoir of pure water, with rainfall percolating through its chalk structure to gather in the surrounding ditch.
I posted earlier about this and there doesn’t seem to be anything much new here on the origins, but it does have new information on later uses the hi was put to in both the Roman and Medieval periods. The article at that link is still active.
An academic maverick is challenging conventional wisdom on Canada’s prehistory by claiming an archeological site in southern Alberta is really a vast, open-air sun temple with a precise 5,000-year-old calendar predating England’s Stonehenge and Egypt’s pyramids.
Mainstream archeologists consider the rock-encircled cairn to be just another medicine wheel left behind by early aboriginals. But a new book by retired University of Alberta professor Gordon Freeman says it is in fact the centre of a 26-square-kilometre stone “lacework” that marks the changing seasons and the phases of the moon with greater accuracy than our current calendar.
He’s not an archaeologist but a chemistry prof. Probably something to it in some way as medicine wheels have been argued by some to have some astronomical orientation. . .OTOH, given the number of objects in he sky you could put a line in the dirt and at some time or other during the year it wi no doubt point to something. The archys seem pretty certain most of the stones are simple erratics, which makes some sense as the wheel would need a source of stones anyway, so why not make it in the middle of a field of till and erratics?
Divers plunder Greece’s sunken treasure troves
For centuries they have lain forgotten and untouched in the murky depths of the Mediterranean. But the sunken glories of Greece are now threatened by modern treasure hunters, who are targeting their riches since the lifting of a ban on coastal scuba-diving.
At risk, say archaeologists, is an unseen part of the country’s cultural patrimony, comprising thousands of shipwrecks dating from Classical, Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and early modern times and their priceless cargoes of coins, ingots, weapons and gold.
“Greek waters are some of the richest in antiquities in the world,” said the marine archaeologist Katerina Dellaporta. “Thanks to very stringent controls over underwater exploration shipwrecks have been extremely well preserved.”
Archaeologists discover prehistoric blades at Birmingham City University
ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Birmingham have discovered two stone flint blades which date back more than 9,000 years.
A dig at Birmingham City University unearthed the amazing find, which is thought to have been dropped by a prehistoric man.
The excavation took place in between Park Street Gardens, Bartholomew Street and New Canal Street and was carried out by the University of Leicester Archeological Services between October and November.
I like that: “thought to have been dropped by a prehistoric man”. Or woman. Rather than, say, a prehistoric lemur.
Early axes found in Perak
Evidence of human existence dating back 1.83 million years was uncovered at Bukit Bunuh in Lenggong, Perak recently.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia director Associate Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin said hand-axes which were unearthed showed evidence of the early existence of Homo erectus in the South-East Asia region.
. . .
Dr Mokhtar said it was possible that the findings challenged the prevailing “Out of Africa” theory, which holds that anatomically modern man first arose from one point in Africa and spread out around the globe.
Two odd things in there. First is the bit about “suevite” which I now learn is a form of impact-shocked breccia. Second is the Out of Africa bit. Not sure how this is supposed to work since AMH’s are supposed to have arisen hundreds of thousands of years later.
Archaeology. The Conceptual Challenge, by Timothy Insoll
The main themes of this book are the questioning of assumptions and taken-for-granteds, as well the influence of the present on our interpretations of the past. Insoll recognises the need for an awareness of the self in relation to the past and a questioning stance with regard to supposed certainties. He also calls for more emphasis on uncertainty and ambiguity in interpretation and an interdisciplinary approach. The book is clear, well written, thought provoking and easily digestible. It is a useful addition to the literature on both archaeological theory and the state of archaeology in the 21st century.
Haven’t read the book so I can’t comment.
Who’s your mummy? High-tech wizardry reveals face of ancient aristocrat
The face of an Egyptian mummy at Otago Museum has been revealed for the first time in over 2,000 years.
The 35-year-old female aristocrat has been part of the museum’s collection for more than a century.
The facial reconstruction of the mummy is the result of over a year’s work by a team from Otago University and they are confident that their modern day model is extremely accurate.
Searching for underwater treasures
Once Europe’s most forbidding coast, this sparkling stretch of the Ionian Sea is slowly revealing lost treasures that date back 2,500 years and shipwrecks from ancient times.
Over the past two summers, a research ship carrying U. S. and Albanian experts has combed the waters off southern Albania, using scanning equipment and submersible robots to seek ancient wrecks. In what organizers say is the first archeological survey of Albania’s seabed, at least five sites were located, which could fill in blanks on ancient shipbuilding techniques.