France’s new medieval castle
Deep in the forests of central France, an unusual architectural experiment is half-way to completion, as a team of masons replicates in painstaking detail the construction of an entire medieval castle.
The Chateau de Guedelon was started in 1998, after local landowner Michel Guyot wondered whether it would be possible to build a castle from scratch, using only contemporary tools and materials.
Today, the walls are rising gradually from the red Burgundy clay. The great hall is almost finished, with only part of the roof remaining, while the main tower edges past the 15m (50ft) mark.
I rather like this project and saw a TV show on it at one time. It’s a long term project so the craftsmen can really get an idea of the best ways to carry out certain tasks and also the number of separate tasks needed. Something you don’t get when someone decides to build a trebuchet in two weeks or something.
The web site of the project is here.
Giant Gundam suit in Tokyo ready to awe tourists/confound future archaeologists
These types of things are better seen than described — see the video below. It goes without saying that Japan would do something like this. Behold the 1/1 scale Gundam Mecha Warrior being constructed in Tokyo.
For those who didn’t grow up in the ’80s or later, Gundam is a Japanese anime series created by Sunrise Studios that features giant robots, or “mecha,” called “Gundam.” The company Bandai started this project in 2009 to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of its plastic model series featuring Gundam and other combat robots.
3010 Post-processualist: “This was obviously a binarily-linked appositional metaphor for the underlying patriarchal authoritarian figure transformed into a mechanistic material-based allegory.”
3010 New Archaeologist: “From the systemic nature of this statuary we can determine with some precision the entire socio-political structure required to produce the raw materials, transport it through exchange and trade systems, the elites that managed and administered the various labor groups to extract the various resources in both the local and distance catchment area, and the environmental determinants that conditioned their response to it.”
3010 CRM archaeologist: “Is this on the Register? I’m not touching it if it isn’t.”
3010 Aboriginal archaeologist: “THAT’S MY HERITAGE DON’T TOUCH IT.”
3010 Darwinian archaeologist: “What we have here is a large number of non-selective or neutral traits, each of which may have its own particular spatial distribution and temporal trajectory, coming together in this distinctly non-functional object.”
Archaeologists: Temple dating back to Hellenistic and Roman eras unearthed in Syria
rchaeologists have unearthed an archaeological temple dating back to the Hellenistic and Roman eras /150 B.C/ in addition to a stone-made bridge dating back to the Roman era.
The findings were uncovered in the village of al-Bared River, 20 kms to the west north of Apamea, central Syrian Province of Hama.
Director of Hama Antiquities Department Jamal Ramadan said that the temple was built near a spring with a distinguished architectural style and a very huge size, adding that it was built of 210-centimeters long and 170-cenetimeters wide stones inscribed from their internal side.
Really not much there.
From over the EEF wires:
“Discovering the Secrets of the Tunnel of Seti I”
” (..) Dr. Hawass, Secretary General of the SCA, and the head
of the mission, finally succeeded in completely excavating the
174m long tunnel after several seasons of work that began in
November 2007. The tunnel was cut into the bedrock near the
end of the beautifully decorated tomb of Seti I. (..) During their
work, the mission uncovered many shabtis and pottery fragments
that dated to the Eighteenth Dynasty (1569-1315 BC). Several
limestone ostraca fragments, as well as a small boat model made
of faience were also found. During their excavation of the
staircase, the team found that three of the steps were decorated
with red graffiti.
(..) Upon reaching the end of the 136 meter section, which had
been partially excavated by Sheikh Ali Abdel Rassoul’s workmen
[in 1960], Dr. Hawass’s team were shocked to uncover a
descending passage which measures 25.60m in length and 2.6m
wide. The mission eventually uncovered a fifty-four step, descending
staircase. After the first descending passage, a second staircase
measuring 6 meters long was cut into the rock. At the beginning
of this passage the team found a false door decorated with hieratic
text that reads: “Move the door jamb up and make the passage
wider.” These written instructions must have been left from the
architect to the workmen who were carving out the tunnel. (..)
It appears that the last step was never finished and the tunnel
ends abruptly after the second staircase. (..)”
So that’s what’s back there! I remember hearing about this tunnel back in the early ’90s and wondering if anyone was ever going to clear it out again and see what’s back there. Alas, just a tunnel, apparently an unfinished one. I really like the architect’s instructions written on the false door; admit it, you probably read “At the beginning of this passage the team found a false door decorated with hieratic text” and thought it was the next Tutankhamun. Alas, just some engineer’s scribblings. Pretty cool though; mystery solve-ed, as they say.
Prehistoric man went to the movies, say researchers
Prehistoric man enjoyed a primitive version of cinema, according to Austrian and British researchers, who are currently seeking to recreate these ancient visual displays.
Rock engravings from the Copper Age found all over Europe in remote, hidden locations, indicate the artwork was more than mere images, researchers from Cambridge University and Sankt Poelten’s university of applied sciences (FH) in Austria believe.
“The cliff engravings… in our opinion are not just pictures but are part of an audiovisual performance,” Frederick Baker of Cambridge University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology said in a statement Tuesday.
I vaguely recall seeing this or something similar before. I remain wary.
Crannóg site revealed after lake’s level drops
THE RECENT prolonged dry weather spell which put pressure on water supplies in the west has proven to be good news for archaeologists.
The low water table on the western lakes and rivers has yielded a number of significant finds in Connemara, according to archaeologist Michael Gibbons.
Among them has been a new crannóg site which is part of a complex in the south Connemara area. It was located by Co Galway silversmith and archaeological student Ruairí O’Neill and a friend, John Foley, while exploring Lough Dhúleitir, north of Carna. Mr Gibbons, who lectures on Mr O’Neill’s course, said that it was a “fine example” of a small crannóg. The lake is overlooked by an abandoned 19th-century settlement.
Learn something new every day.
Mitochondrial genome analysis revises view of the initial peopling of North America
In a report published online today in Genome Research (www.genome.org), researchers have found that the diversity of the first Americans has been significantly underestimated, underscoring the importance of comprehensive sampling for accurate analysis of human migrations.
Substantial evidence suggests that humans first crossed into North America from Asia over a land bridge called Beringia, connecting eastern Siberia and Alaska. Genetic studies have shed light on the initial lineages that entered North America, distinguishing the earliest Native American groups from those that arrived later. However, a clear picture of the number of initial migratory events and routes has been elusive due to incomplete analysis.
Hunting Weapon 10,000 Years Old Found in Melting Ice Patch
To the untrained eye, University of Colorado at Boulder Research Associate Craig Lee’s recent discovery of a 10,000-year-old wooden hunting weapon might look like a small branch that blew off a tree in a windstorm.
Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Lee, a research associate with CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research who found the atlatl dart, a spear-like hunting weapon, melting out of an ice patch high in the Rocky Mountains close to Yellowstone National Park.
Lee, a specialist in the emerging field of ice patch archaeology, said the dart had been frozen in the ice patch for 10 millennia and that climate change has increased global temperatures and accelerated melting of permanent ice fields, exposing organic materials that have long been entombed in the ice.
Ummmmm. . . .if it was a “permanent ice field” how’d the artifact get there?
Well, the SAA newsletter for May 2010 is available. It’s got a couple of good articles worth perusing if you so choose. The first half is on race, racism, racialism, blah blah. . . I skimmed a few of those. I admit to being somewhat fearful for our profession; the Europeans are busy extracting DNA fro Neanderthals and we’re over here navel gazing and trying to make sure everyone feels all good about themselves. But, you may be the judge.
Daniel Contreras and Neil Brodie have an interesting piece on using Google Earth to identify areas that have been looted by looking at telltale signs such as pockmarks all over the place. And Stephan Nash has a good article on dendrochron in the Mesa Verde National Park.
The other one is seemingly kind of trivial, but I found it quite intriguing. It’s by Donald Holly, Jr. and it’s about the unearthing of a time capsule on campus that supposedly dates from 1962, but turns out upon opening it that it was really from 1979. The upshot — read the article for the whole story — is that it shows what one can learn from strictly archaeology without written history. In this case, the only written (i.e., historical) records that existed showed a time capsule being buried in 1962, while the actual archaeology tells an entirely different story. He puts it this way:
The capsule offered tangible evidence of a “historical” event [subsequent unearthing and tampering with the contents later] that was undocumented and unknown (the student newspaper and Pemberton Hall’s 1979 scrapbook did not record the events of October 30th 1979 either).
Read the whole thing, as they say.
On the trail of Tutankhamun’s willy
When I started investigating a news story about the possible cause of King Tutankhamen’s death, I never expected to end up on the trail of his penis.
As I’ve reported today, a letter published in JAMA this week suggests that contrary to what was said earlier this year, the boy pharaoh did not die of a combination of an inherited bone disorder and a nasty case of malaria, but of a genetic disease called sickle-cell anemia.
. . .
Hawass dismisses the idea, in part because Tut’s penis is, as he puts it, “well-developed”. But on closer scrutiny of his paper, I spotted a note admitting that the penis in question is no longer attached to the king’s body.
I smelled a conspiracy.
Kind of a silly story, but it sums up a few things regarding the latest news on the JAMA responses.
UPDATE: IIRC, at the time of his discovery, there were reports that some women were offering to be inseminated by the detached member. Or I may be misremembering that with Otzi the Iceman. Or it may be that some women are always around who are desirous of being impregnated by famous dead people.