May 30, 2009

Question for the archaeologists

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 3:37 pm

What is the prevalence out there of digital-only data collection? Are you still using paper forms for field data collection? A combination of paper and digital?

May 29, 2009

Kelp highway again.

Filed under: Pre-Clovis — acagle @ 7:33 pm

Anthropologist advances ‘kelp highway’ theory for Coast settlement

he Pacific Coast of the Americas was settled starting about 15,000 years ago during the last glacial retreat by seafaring peoples following a “kelp highway” rich in marine resources, a noted professor of anthropology theorized Wednesday.

Jon Erlandson, director of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon, suggested that especially productive “sweet spots,” such as the estuaries of B.C.’s Fraser and Stikine rivers, served as corridors by which people settled the Interior of the province.

No comment.

Viking update

Filed under: Vikings! — acagle @ 7:30 pm

Vikings visited Canadian Arctic, research suggests

One of Canada’s top Arctic archeologists says the remnants of a stone-and-sod wall unearthed on southern Baffin Island may be traces of a shelter built more than 700 years ago by Norse seafarers, a stunning find that would be just the second location in the New World with evidence of a Viking-built structure.

The tantalizing signs of a possible medieval Norse presence in Nunavut were found at the previously examined Nanook archeological site, about 200 kilometres southwest of Iqaluit, where people of the now-extinct Dorset culture once occupied a stretch of Hudson Strait shoreline.

No photos of the artifacts, but it seems rather suspicious. I was going to say it (Baffin Island) seems out of the way, but in a way it’s not that far from Greenland. So I’ll remain skeptical, but not dismissive.

Naval gazing archaeology

Filed under: Historic, Local media — acagle @ 7:23 pm

Excavation at Haslar reveals horror of life in Nelson’s navy

A total of 29 skeletons will have been carefully removed and analysed by Sunday, when the excavation comes to a close.

Some of the incredible cases that have been revealed so far include a skeleton from a man in his mid-20s, which has seven broken bones, a broken jaw and one side of his skull smashed.

Analysis from the team of 60 who have been working on the project shows he would have survived in hospital for about three months being fed through a straw before passing away from an infection.

Should be interesting once the final report is out. No doubt filled with a lot more brutal stuff.

Ida update

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:20 pm

Long Lost Relative

There’s no doubt that the fossil primate named Ida, after paleontologist Jørn Hurum’s young daughter, is big news, and page one coverage in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal attests it’s more than just a bit of evolutionary road kill. Ida is the subject of a two-hour History Channel documentary, “The Link,” which will debut on May 25. A juvenile female, the 95 percent complete skeleton comes from Germany’s Messel Pit, a mile-wide crater, and dates to 47 million years ago. Effectively acting as host of the show is Jørn Hurum of the University of Oslo’s Natural History Museum.

The documentary will engage those who are interested in human evolution, but it has to be said that there’s a fair amount of padding. The focus seems solely on the question, is this a human ancestor or not? At an early stage I would guess that it was judged that only this question would hold the attention of viewers. I think that was a mistake. But you can find much that was omitted from the program in the companion website and book. How was the fossil found and acquired, what the environment was like, and basics like close-up images in which you take time in looking at closely (those in the documentary are shown for mere seconds). So the documentary comes at you in a rapid fire mode (but oddly with lots of repeated material), but if you want to engage with and think about Ida and the implications of this fossil, you have to go to the other sources.

Mark Rose reviews the History Channel show on it (it debuted May 25? I didn’t see it), which is also on tonight. I will probably not watch it, or watch much of it. Partly because it’s well before the time I’m interested in, and 2 hours seems an awfully long time to spend on a pre-hominid. He links to a companion site which I have not perused much, but probably worth checking out.

What I did last night

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 10:30 am

I got the Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition. There is, in fact, a vague archaeological connection here so bear with me.

The show happened about 5 years after I moved out here for grad school. I’d already passed the comps and was finishing up my “MA thesis” (not obligatory, I just did one for the added degree). According to Wikipedia, the pilot aired April 8, 1990, which would mean it was filmed in the winter of 1989-90, which is what David Lynch said in the little interview I watched last night. Odd, but Season 1 only seems to have had 8 episodes, so it was a short season. I seem to recall that the last episode of the first season revealed Laura’s killer to the audience and a bunch of us went up to Snoqualmie Falls the next day and of course the place was jammed. I think it was the Memorial Day weekend, too.

Anyway, apparently Lynch was pressured into doing the whole reveal at the end of the first season, which he did not want to do. Finally finding out Laura Palmer’s killer pretty much took away the major point of the show and it declined from there. Some argue that the quality actually improved after that, but ratings tanked. I had even started to lose interest by that time.

Still, it was part of the whole “Seattle phenomenon” of the early ’90s: Starbucks, Twin Peaks, and Grunge. All brought about by my moving here, of course (“Say, this place isn’t bad but you know what it coud use? Gourmet coffee, loud obnoxious rock-n-roll, and a creepy TV show.”) For a couple of years I couldn’t visit Wisconsin without people asking where my flannel shirt was.

It was filmed in and around North Bend, about 45 minutes east of here. I don’t remember if I’d been there before the show started, except nearby once: in October of 1989 I did my first CRM work up around there in the Chester Morse Lake. It was a dry summer and the lake levels had dropped so we did some survey up around the newly-revealed shoreline and some excavations back in the woods a bit. Never did find anything too interesting, but there were several hearths now-unsubmerged shoreline. We checked in at the ranger station there, which ended up being the Twin Peaks Sherrif’s Office. I’d been thinking I was there in October of 1990 which would have meant I could have seen them filming, but I guess we were there a bit early.

The RR Diner, neé the Mar-T Cafe, neé Twede’s did, indeed, have good pie. Change in ownership made it less than satisfactory however, so nowadays we go to the North Bend Bar and Grill instead. And the intersection of Sparkwood and 21 now has multiple stoplights and such.

And Mädchen Amick has gotten WAY better looking in the intervening years, IMO.

Linguistics + Star Trek = Interesting

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 9:13 am

Klingon from a linguist.

I first came to Klingon as a linguist doing research for a book on artificial languages. My intention was to observe from a nice, distant, scientific perspective, but somehow I ended up with a little bronze pin indicating that I’d passed the first-level certification exam.

Even if you’re not a Trekkie you’ll find this interesting. Geeky, but interesting. Isn’t there a full-fledged language(s) from the Lord of the Rings as well? I seem to recall people speaking Elvish or whatever.

May 28, 2009

Further non-archaeology

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 1:24 pm

Althouse is having a discussion on hugging. Started with doing so in schools but has kind of morphed in the comments to include the hugging phenomenon.

I noticed this several years ago, this proclivity to hug. I blame Oprah. I don’t take to it m’self, excepting of course if the potential hugger is an attractive female (errr, like the ArchaeoWife! Yeah, that’s it. . .) and/or one that is a long-time friend or acquaintance. I’m kind of old school that way.

In Egypt men of good acquaintance usually greet with the European-style cheek kissing. They’re pretty good about not doing that to Westerners no matter how well they know them.

Obligatory occasional zombie post

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 1:12 pm

5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen

We found out recently that if you try to leave a little kid in a graveyard late at night, he’ll freak out. Even if you offer to leave him a gun to protect himself. Why? It’s because on some instinctual level, all humans know it’s just a matter of time until the zombies show up.

Eh. Not much impressed with some of them. I mean, BSE/vCJD affect one’s nervous and muscle systems in certain ways, but it’s not like cows are going on killing sprees. The nanobots is probably the most plausible, although I question whether one could program them to do anything like forcing someone to do zombie-like actions.

But there you have it.

[Edit] Oh, and choose a bladed weapon over a gun, since the former never run out of ammo. I’d go with an axe myself.

Leprosy origins

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:57 am

Oldest Evidence Of Leprosy Found In India

A biological anthropologist from Appalachian State University working with an undergraduate student from Appalachian, an evolutionary biologist from UNC Greensboro, and a team of archaeologists from Deccan College (Pune, India) recently reported analysis of a 4000-year-old skeleton from India bearing evidence of leprosy. This skeleton represents both the earliest archaeological evidence for human infection with Mycobacterium leprae in the world and the first evidence for the disease in prehistoric India.

The study, published in the journal PLoS One, demonstrates that leprosy was present in human populations in India by the end of the mature phase of the Indus Civilization (2000 B.C.) and provides support for one hypothesis about prehistoric transmission routes for the disease. This finding also supports the hypothesis that the Sanskrit Atharva Veda, composed before the first millennium B.C., is the earliest written reference to the disease and that burial traditions in the second millennium B.C. in one northwestern Indian village bear some resemblance to practices in Hindu tradition today.

I would have thought a pre-urbanism spread of the disease would have been difficult due to the relatively low transmissibility of the disease. I don’t recall the papers they mention (the PLoS paper is here, btw) in Science from 2005, though I probably read the damn things back then.

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