November 30, 2010

Seattle archaeology!

Filed under: Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 8:44 pm

Seattle should dig into its past

Earlier this year, I did a series of stories on what might lie under Seattle as two, simultaneous mega-projects move forward: the 520 expansion at Montlake and the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement. Problematic as they are, both projects offer unprecedented opportunities to learn more about Seattle’s past. There are others. The north parking lot of Qwest Field is slated for development, and the city is undertaking a redevelopment of the waterfront, a major repository of our past, including the debris from Henry Yesler’s sawmill.

But I was surprised to learn that the city has no staff archaeologist or standing committee of experts who review or bird-dog our archaeological heritage, who can help direct research or assess and shape how we hope to learn more about the history beneath us.

I didn’t realize the City didn’t have an archaeologist on staff (I humbly volunteer), although a lot of the projects he mentions are federally funded and therefore fall under Section 106 and archaeologists are involved anyway. Probably very few of the big projects don’t have some federal money involved so it might be a moot point. Still, anything that gives me more work is definitely something I support!


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:38 pm

Archaeologists to embark on quest for 2,500-year-old lost Greek theatre

Alexander Hardcastle spent a decade searching for the fabled theatre, which is said to be buried beneath the remains of Akragas, a city established by Greek colonists six centuries before Christ on the southern coast of Sicily.

The World Heritage site is best known for the Valley of the Temples, a cluster of five Doric temples which draws tens of thousands of tourists each year.

Hardcastle, a former soldier who had served with the Royal Engineers in the Boer War, believed that remains of the stone-built theatre had survived, despite Akragas being shaken by earthquakes, sacked by the Carthaginians and plundered for its stone.

2 million bucks to look for that. Sure hope it’s pretty cool. . . .and also with a reasonable chance of success. Then again, it is the EU. . . . .

FIght! Fight!

Filed under: Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 8:35 pm

Alaska tribe fighting Pa. museum over artifacts

An Alaskan tribe has demanded the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology return artifacts the tribe considers sacred.

The Anchorage Daily News said the collection includes a shaman’s owl mask, brass loon spirit hat and faded hide robe that memorializes ancestors of the Hoonah T’akdeintaan clan wiped out by a tidal wave in Lituya Bay.

The Philadelphia museum has offered to return eight objects, and university spokeswoman Lori Doyle said it hopes to reach a settlement with the tribe. The federally recognized tribe wants the entire collection.

The items were sold to a university employee in 1924, so I think this may set a bad precedent if it goes through. Same thing is happening elsewhere with countries demanding even legitimately purchased/excavated artifacts back, such as the Nefertiti bust. Unless the tribe can show the items were unlawfully sold, I find myself against the return.

China update

Filed under: China — acagle @ 8:30 pm

240,000 cultural relics unearthed near Three Gorges Reservoir

Archaeologists have unearthed more than 240,000 cultural relics near the Three Gorges Reservoir, an official with the Cultural Heritage Bureau of central China’s Hubei Province said Monday.

China has allocated more than 1.9 billion yuan (about 285 million U.S. dollars) to excavate and protect cultural relics in the region, said Wang Fengzhu, director of the Three Gorges Reservoir cultural relics protection department.

Since 1992, archaeologists have excavated 1,087 archaeological sites scattered across 22 cities and counties in the region, with some 723 of the sites underground.

Cancer update

Filed under: Public Health — acagle @ 8:29 pm


The 40-year-old, a cancer specialist and assistant clinical professor at the oncology department at Columbia University, New York, brings a similar kind of compassion and pragmatism to his first book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Scribner). The battle between medical treatment and cancer is told in cold detail, but also with a gentle touch. He recreates both past discoveries and personal battles. And as he chronicles “victories and losses, campaigns upon campaigns, heroes and hubris, survival and resilience — and inevitably, the wounded, the condemned, the forgotten, the dead”, the book turns into, what he calls, “the military history” of the malady. For, it is war — at an emotional, physical and, finally, logistical level.

I haven’t read it yet (hint hint to any publishers out there) but I’d be interested on his take on the identification of early cancers, based on other recent news on it.

Here’s a movement I could get behind

Filed under: Humor — acagle @ 8:25 pm

Tony Robinson promotes Archaeology Relief

A charity event was announced today by Tony Robinson to raise money for archaeology in the UK. He explained, “For many years we have had Comic Relief, which raises money through comedy. Then we had Sport Relief, which raised money through various sponsored sporting events. Then there was that one year where everyone was so sick of Comic Relief that they gave it a rest, and that was really a relief! So now it is time for Archaeology Relief.”

“We will be raising money for archaeology. So many times we are digging up some bones and we have no idea whose bones they are, so we just make something up. We’ll say it was from a Viking warrior or a Roman general, when probably it was just a potato farmer who died of old age.”

Kinda goes downhill from there, but vaguely humorous. . . .

Well, that settles it then

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 8:22 pm

Egyptian archaeologist admits pyramids contain UFO technology

In a shock statement, head of the Cairo University Archeology Department, Dr Ala Shaheen has told an audience that there might be truth to the theory that aliens helped the ancient Egyptians build the oldest of pyramids, the Pyramids of Giza.
On being further questioned by Mr Marek Novak, a delegate from Poland as to whether the pyramid might still contain alien technology or even a UFO with its structure, Dr Shaheen, was vague and replied “I can not confirm or deny this, but there is something inside the pyramid that is “not of this world”.

I’m convinced.


Filed under: Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 2:11 pm

Outrage lingers among those who love Effigy Mounds

Somewhere along the line, officials admit they lost their way. Without following required review processes, the U.S. National Park Service built three boardwalks and a maintenance shed that may have interrupted the historical integrity of the park.

The park service has offered a mea culpa, emphasizing its belief that no structures were built on top of the mounds and saying that adhering to its own protocol will ensure something like this will never happen again. Yet outrage lingers among those attached to this piece of land.

Of course, we’ll find out later on that they were just trying to comply with the ADA. . . . .


Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 2:04 pm

Or not: Relatives shrug off ‘Curse of Tutankhamun’ tomb jinx

Relatives of archaeologist Howard Carter have laid to rest the legend of the mummy of all curses – during a visit to a replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Audrey Carter, 78, was among hundreds of history buffs who visited a major exhibition on the Egyptian pharaoh at the Trafford Centre.

And the pensioner, from Stretford, said she thought the ‘curse’ were made up by journalists who had missed the story of the world’s greatest archaeological discovery by her famous relative.

As the article notes near the end, the curse was apparently rather selective.

Tycho Brahe update

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 12:42 pm

The NY Times gets ahold of it and puts its entertaining spin on it:

It’s “Amadeus” meets “Da Vinci Code” meets “Hamlet,” featuring a deadly struggle for the secret of the universe between Tycho, the swashbuckling Danish nobleman with a gold-and-silver prosthetic nose, and the not-yet-famous Johannes Kepler, his frail, jealous German assistant. The story also includes an international hit man, hired after a Danish prince becomes king and suspects Brahe of sleeping with his mother (and maybe being his father!).

For comic relief, there’s a beer-drinking pet elk wandering around Tycho’s castle, as well as a jester named Jepp, a dwarf who sits under Tycho’s table and is believed to be clairvoyant.

Naturally, the scientists analyzing Brahe’s remains are steering clear of all this gossip, including the claim that Brahe had an affair with the Danish queen that helped inspire “Hamlet.” The archaeologist leading the team cautions that even if they confirm suspicions that Brahe was poisoned by mercury, that wouldn’t necessarily prove he was murdered, much less identify the killer.

Mercury was used (successfully) to treat other maladies such as syphilis so it’s possible that it was administered in an effort to cure him. Wouldn’t be that odd, physicians used to bleed people after all.

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