The mystery behind history’s most important isotope is solved at last
The mystery behind history’s most important isotope is solved at lastMost radioactive isotopes of the lighter elements decay in minutes or less. But one particular isotope of carbon takes 6000 years to decay, and that fact has revolutionized archaeology. But why it does that has long been a complete mystery.
This isn’t really a small problem – the isotpe in question, carbon-14, takes roughly three billion times longer than its comparable isotopes to decay. That fact has baffled physicists for decades, but that ignorance hasn’t stopped researchers from using carbon-14 to estimate the ages of various artifacts with tremendous precision, transforming forever our understanding of history and archaeology.
I was going to do that for my dissertation but my stupid adviser wanted a sediment analysis instead. . . .
Britain a treasure seeker’s paradise
Britain is bursting with ancient buried treasure and the masses have been bitten by the bug for digging it up — ironically with the full approval of the government and leading museums.
Latest figures released by the British Museum showed a “massive” jump in the number of antiquities and spectacular objects classed as treasure being found by ordinary citizens with a passion for history.
In 2010, over 90,000 archaeological objects were reported to museums across the country — a 36% rise on 2009 — through what is known as the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS).
Probably nothing new in this one, but it explains the practice some. You know, I haven’t really seen any discussion in the academic literature about this, although admittedly I haven’t been out to specifically look for it either.
No: Golden Cap: Archaeologists unearth Napoleonic watchtower
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed a watchtower from the Napoleonic era at the start of a dig into threatened Bronze Age burial mounds on the Jurassic Coast.
The National Trust (NT) team is digging into 4,000 year old earthworks at Golden Cap to record their history before they slip into sea.
So far they have unearthed the 18th Century wathchtower built to provide early warning against a French invasion and watch Channel shipping but will be digging deeper into the mounds.
Ah, this is actually an update.
Egypt’s Lost Cities Review: “Indiana Jones Is Old School..
It appears that the ousting of President Hosni Mobarek isn’t the only revolution going on in Egypt, with military satellite technology possibly set to change how we go about searching for the long lost treasures of the Pharaohs.
Leading the charge in this field is US Egyptologist Dr Sarah Parcak, who is using infrared technology and what appears to be a massive touchscreen iPad-style device to put together a map of the Ancient Kingdom. It’s an exciting time, with Parcak and her NASA sponsored lab team in Alabama over the pond confident that 99% of Egypt’s treasures are yet to be found. To think that we’ve only found 1% of what’s beneath the sands in enough to turn me into a giddy wide-eyed schoolboy all over again.
Well, not really, a hot babe of television presenters. That’s someone named Liz Bonnin, one of the hosts of the show (I haven’t seen it yet), but I suppose one can understand why they used her photo. . . .
I’m a bit. . . .well, to say Parcak is “leading the charge” is a tad misleading as others have been using the technology for years in Egypt.
Digging in for information
Only limited information exists on the history of White Hill Mansion, which has stood overlooking the Delaware River since the mid- 1700’s.
A group of archaeologists and volunteers are trying to uncover more.
A six week dig on the grounds of the historic mansion is hoping to turn up more artifacts and clues on Mary Peel Field’s role during the American Revolutionary War and the existence of her mansion.
Neat little project. They have a Google page for it although there’s not a whole lot there.
National Park Service continuing digs on slave village found in Civil War battlefield
National Park Service archaeologists are hoping to learn more this summer about a slave village unearthed within Monocacy National Battlefield.
Joy Beasley, the cultural resources manager for the National Park Service at the Frederick County Civil War site, says the focus of this summer’s dig will be to broaden understanding of structures found in the village. Beasley says researchers hope to complete excavation of one or two dwellings, providing a better picture of the lives of the residents.
Not much there really. I mean the article, not the site.
If you recall, I had posted that typing anything in any application was ridiculously slow. It couldn’t even keep up with my typing and I don’t type that fast. That and backspacing would also take forever. On top of that, the browser was slow and jumpy. I tried uninstalling SPSS, since it started about the time I installed that, but no go. Finally I quit Skype and that cleared it up right away. I don’t know why Skype may have been doing that. I checked the system monitor or whatever and it wasn’t taking up much memory or CPU time, but for whatever reason it was bogging things down.
Will have to reinstall SPSS just to make sure though. Heck, maybe I’ll stick with this here Mac after all. . . . .
Would you believe The Motels?
Also see this post on a different Motels album, and a video! This current one is the vinyl of All Four One, which had their big hit, Only the Lonely (which is the video at the other post). I already played the first side, the one with the hits, and now I’m on side two that hardly ever got played. It’s on Capitol and it still has the old label:
Really thick record, too. Pretty much in mint condition, especially Side 2 since I hardly ever played it. Doesn’t seem to be an especially great recording though, for some reason. Martha’s voice comes out really nice and strong, however, so it’s not all that bad. (drat, it’s got a pop in it)
Interestingly, over at Audiokarma someone posted a question about whether old speakers sound as good as new ones. We took that to mean “vintage” versus modern and have been discussing that. In fact, I do think that most modern speakers sound better than vintage ones, but compared to a lot of items, the difference isn’t all that great. Would you, for example, want a 1970s vintage TV set? Probably not, it would be small with a lousy picture and sound, especially compared with HD TVs. OTOH, a really good set of vintage speakers isn’t much of a come-down from a set of brand new ones, and when you factor in cost, they’re a way better value for the most part. Yeah, cheap-ass speakers from the ’70s are worse than cheap-ass speakers of today, but I think a good pair of, say Advents, are perfectly suitable in lieu of a set of $500 brand new ones. Amplifiers and most other components are largely the same, I think. Which is NOT to say modern equipment isn’t any better but the difference is fairly marginal compared to a lot of other stuff.
Idea of 17 hidden pyramids is ‘wrong’
Egypt’s most celebrated archaeologist has challenged the tantalising claims of a BBC documentary airing tomorrow night that satellites have discovered 17 pyramids buried in the Nile Delta using infra-red technology.
“This is completely wrong information. Any archaeologist will deny this completely,” Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s minister of state for antiquities, said yesterday in an interview from Cairo.
American “space archaeologists” also say that their satellite survey of Egypt found more than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements, covered by countless layers of sediment deposited over the ages by Nile river floodwaters.
Not actually as much of a controversy as the title implies. I’m guessing Zahi is more responding to what the press reported rather than what the archaeologists actually reported, which is far more tentative, I think. Of course, this was kind of outside of Egyptian channels (i.e., control) so some of this is undoubtedly a little bit of a power play.
Iraqi archaeologists to salvage threatened mounds in southern marshes
The Antiquities Department has dispatched five excavation teams to the southern marshes, where several ancient sites are threatened with inundation, the department’s spokesman said.
Abdulzahara al-Talaqani said the teams will concentrate their activities in the southern provinces of Basra, Missan and Dhiqar.
Iraq says it is suffering from reduced water flows from its twin rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. The spokesman did not explain the reason behind the surge in water levels.
Don’t appear to be actually “threatened” with destruction as much as inaccessibility. Expect more CRM-type stuff to be done in these sorts of places though, by local archys.