February 28, 2011

Oldest axe head found(?)

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:20 pm

AUSTRALIA: Global team finds oldest ground-stone axe

In the long history of science, there are few eureka moments. Sudden revelations are rare and science often progresses with Darwinian slowness. Even if they begin with a strikingly unusual hypothesis, most scientists set out to amass more and more data, as Darwin himself did, until they are confident their theories will stand the scrutiny of their peers.

. . .

Such is the case of an international team of archaeologists who found a piece of a stone axe in northern Australia and discovered its blade had been ground down thousands of years earlier than any similar object previously located.

They’re putting it at 35.5kbp. I wonder how certain they are that it is human-made?

Lost civilization blood-sweating hors. . .huh?

Filed under: China — acagle @ 8:15 pm

New discovery revives ancient China’s ‘blood-sweating’ horse legend

The bones of 80 horses recently unearthed from the tomb of a Chinese emperor who lived more than 2,000 years ago may rekindle a legend about ‘blood-sweating’ horses in ancient China.

According to Xinhua, the skeletons were found in two subordinate tomb pits of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty, reports People’s Daily Online.

Yang Wuzhan, an archaeologist who took part in the excavation of the mausoleum of Emperor Wudi, said they started excavating the two pits in September 2009 and unearthed 40 bones of horses from each pit.

Not sure what this has to do with any sort of blood-sweating horses, but there you go.

UPDATE: Other China burials here.

The real ones, not Steven Spielberg’s dorky ones

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:13 pm

Myths and mysteries: The 13 crystal skulls: Who made them & why?

Intriguing, mysterious and eerie, they are real works of art. The crystal skulls have been of great interest to archaeologists and anthropologists who are curious about their existence and purpose. Why would so much work and time be spent on perfecting a human skull made out of one of the hardest substances known to man after diamonds, rock crystal? The cutting of which requires great expertise and precision and the carving and polishing of which is equally time-consuming? In other words, why a skull?

It is not something that one finds in ancient paintings or carvings, which have all sorts of deities and exotic creatures of fantasy and folklore. Why would anyone want to carve a skull out of clear or milky quartz?

Some goofy stuff in the article, but it’s vaguely informative.

Side note

Filed under: Media, Non-archaeology, Pop culture — acagle @ 8:09 pm

The 7 best Sci-Fi films that never won an Oscar.

I guess they didn’t win any, not just Best Picture. I haven’t ever seen 2, 5 or 6 and don’t intend to, and I just watched a bit of 7 this past weekend.

Tomb raiders in Peru

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:04 pm

New tombs found in Peruvian Andes

NINE TOMBS HAVE been discovered in Peru, a find that sheds new light on the origins of the Inca empire.

Archaeologists discovered the nine tombs in the Peruvian Andes. Upon excavation they discovered they dated from the pre-Hispanic Wari civilisation, the Daily Mail reports.

Archaeologists say the finding in the southern Cusco region suggests a people named the Wari, who lived in the Peruvian Andes between 700 and 1200 AD, may have controlled areas where the Inca empire later grew.

It links to this article that has some quite good photos.

And speaking of burials. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:01 pm

Archaeologists Find 11,500-Year-Old Grave With Cremated 3-Year-Old

An archaeological dig in Alaska has uncovered the oldest human remains ever found in Arctic or Subarctic North America – the cremated skeleton of a 3-year-old.

The chlid’s burned bone fragments were found in a fire pit in the remains of an ancient house near the Tanana River in central Alaska. Researchers date the cremation to 11,500 years ago. After the child’s body was burned, researchers report in the Feb. 25 issue of the journal Science, the house and hearth were buried and abandoned.

Seems to be an update on this post.

Slavery in America

Filed under: Slavery archaeology — acagle @ 7:59 pm

Before 1492, that is. I just read a paper called Slaves, chiefs and labour on the northern Northwest Coast Ames, K.M. World Archaeology, 33(1):1-17. Here’s the abstract, if I can format it right:

Northwest Coast societies, at the beginning of the Modern period, were strati􏰜ed. The coast’s élite
wielded power over a class of slaves whose labour produced at least some of the wealth upon which
high status depended. While it is possible to trace the development of an élite on the northern
Northwest Coast back 3000 calendar years, if not more, documenting the presence of slavery has
proven far more intractable. Understanding the evolution of slavery is dependent on our under-
standing of the archaeology of élite formation, labour, warfare and gender. Three key lines of
evidence for slavery are burial practices, evidence of warfare and raiding and evidence about
changing labour demands. Slavery plausibly developed during either of two periods: c 1500–500 BC
or c. AD500–1000. The data at present do not allow us to eliminate either. Each has interesting
implications for our understanding of the evolution of stratification.n


Last WWI veteran dies

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 9:37 am

Last living U.S. WWI veteran dies (as opposed to the last dead one, of course)

Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a
spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110.

Buckles “died peacefully in his home of natural causes” early Sunday morning, the family said in a statement sent to CNN late Sunday by spokesman David DeJonge.

I recently wondered if there were any left from the Great War. That one got far overshadowed by WWII and it doesn’t get quite as much attention anymore. Which is too bad because it probably had more effect on world order than WWII did. A historian once said something to the effect that WWI was fought to establish a new order and WWI was fought to keep it. Dunno how accurate that was, but if you look at a map of Europe before WWI it’s hardly recognizable to most people. Most of the old monarchies were swept away in the aftermath and never recovered.

I find it interesting from a combat perspective because it was, in a way, the last war fought mostly on foot. There was little mechanization either on the ground or in the air so most ground was gained or lost based almost exclusively on infantry. On the other hand, there were the beginnings of modern weaponry and tactics that the old strategies weren’t really equipped to deal with. The machine gun was just devastating and there wasn’t much of a defense for it. Watching some footage of some of the infantry charges from that war really brings home what was meant by the term “cannon fodder”.

UPDATE: Better story here.

February 26, 2011

In the swamps

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:20 am

Ancient cities sprung from marshes, researcher finds

For more than a century, archaeologists have believed that ancient Mesopotamian cities – places like Uruk and Ur – were born along the banks of the great rivers of the Middle East and depended mainly on irrigation of surrounding deserts for their survival.

Dr. Jennifer Pournelle, a research assistant professor in the School of the Environment at the University of South Carolina, has a different theory. She believes that the great cities of southern Iraq grew and thrived in vast lowland marshes fed by those rivers, not along the banks of rivers themselves.


Worth their sal-ary?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:11 am

Archaeologists are worth their salt with Joppa find

THE remains of the historic salt works at Joppa are being uncovered by archaeologists after the wall around them was destroyed in a storm.
Most of the former industrial site was demolished around 1960, but underground brick tunnels remain hidden beneath a grass-covered area.

When fierce storms buffeted the coastline last March, the sea wall at the north-west corner of the site was damaged.

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