December 31, 2012

Archaeology in all the nooks and crannogs

Filed under: Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 9:34 am

Archaeologists race against time to complete excavation

ARCHAEOLOGISTS racing against the clock to excavate an ancient settlement in Co Fermanagh before a road is built on top of it have been granted more time to complete the dig.

Work on the Drumclay crannog in Enniskillen was due to wind up at the end of December to allow the completion of a link road but environment minister Alex Attwood has granted a further three-month extension.

With experts having already credited the site with rewriting the history of early Christian and medieval Ulster, Mr Attwood said: “The excavation is a once in a century opportunity.”

A rescue excavation that is, apparently, being given enough time to do it well.

It’s in the rocks

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 9:25 am

Oldest Known Depiction of Pharaoh Found

The oldest known representation of a pharaoh has been found carved on rocks at a desert site in southern Egypt, according to new research into long forgotten engravings.

Found on vertical rocks at Nag el-Hamdulab, four miles north of the Aswan Dam, the images depict a pharaoh riding boats with attendant prisoners and animals in what is thought to be a tax-collecting tour.

“We don’t know with certainty who the king represented at Hamdulab is. We can guess on paleographic and iconographic grounds,” Maria Carmela Gatto, associate research scholar in Egyptology at Yale University and co-director of thee Aswan-Kom Ombo archaeological project in Egypt, told Discovery News.

Is that really older than the Narmer palette?


Filed under: Amateur, Conservation/CRM — acagle @ 9:17 am

Archaeologist, 72, who kept headless native American mummies in his back garden after looting graves and tried to pay for hit on rival with OPALS dies in prison

A former insurance agent and amateur archaeologist convicted of looting ancient Indian graves in the Nevada desert and later offering $10,000 in opals for a hit man to kill a former business partner has died in prison.

The Department of Corrections confirmed on Thursday that Jack Lee Harelson, 72, of Grants Pass, died on Dec. 14 in the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. The agency said he died of natural causes in the prison infirmary. His death was first reported by the Grants Pass Daily Courier.

When he was arrested in 1995, authorities said they found the headless mummified remains of two children wrapped in garbage bags and buried unceremoniously in Harelson’s garden.

Sadly, while he makes a good point regarding the usefulness of amateurs in locating sites and materials, the rest of the story rather undermines even that meager contribution. Would have been nice if they’d put quotes around “archaeologist” though.

Lost civilization temple. . . .found

Filed under: Biblical archaeology — acagle @ 9:13 am

Israelis find 2,750-year-old temple

Archaeologists have uncovered a 2,750-year-old temple near Jerusalem, along with pottery and clay figurines that suggest the site was the home base for a ritual cult, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

The discovery was made during excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) west of Jerusalem, during preparations for work on a new section of Israeli’s Highway 1, the agency said in a statement.

“The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple,” excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz were quoted as saying in the statement.

Don’t tell Indiana Jones

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 9:10 am

It actually should have started out with this quote: “We still have absolutely no idea what these people were doing or what the point of it was”

At the time the Nazca Lines, which span 85 square miles, were drawn, “people were not looking at this stuff from the air, they were looking at stuff from the ground level,” said Timothy Ingold, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Aberdeen, who was not involved in the study. “To appreciate what they might have meant to ordinary people, then you have to walk them.”

While that seems like an obvious first step, in actuality, very few archaeologists have studied the Nazca Lines from that vantage point, because most of the pictures drawn out by the lines are only visible from foothills above or from space.

I think I’d heard of this idea in the not-too-distant past. They suggest it might have been for ritualized walking — i.e., no people actually walk them, just spirits or gods or whatever — which seems to me more likely than for actual walking with would quickly degrade them. Let’s hope the new-agers don’t decide they need to descend upon the place and start walking all of them.

Dear Luis Vuitton comment spammer:

Filed under: Blogging update — acagle @ 9:03 am

While I sincerely appreciate the apparent effort you put in to your comment spam, and while they have provided me with some modicum of amusement at your barely-intelligible attempts at English sufficient to escape my spam filter, I feel that it is fair to warn you that none of them are actually getting through and being posted. Hence, it is a completely wasted effort on your part and you may want to find greener pastures in which to drop your little cowpies of useless verbiage. Thank you.


December 29, 2012

More modern artifacts

Filed under: Modern artifacts — acagle @ 4:52 pm

The rise of the backpack.

For today’s kids, it must be difficult to imagine a time before backpacks. They’re ubiquitous in classrooms and on school buses around the country and have been for decades. But as late as the 1960s, they weren’t widely available. Back then, the simple act of carrying stuff to and from school was difficult. “Students had no choice but to tote their textbooks and notebooks around campus with their hands,” wrote backpack innovator Skip Yowell in his book, The Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder & Other Mountains. “Some tied a belt around them or clutched them to their chest as they walked. Either way, lugging study material was little more than a glorified juggling act—without the pay.”

What saved students from this avalanche of loose books and papers? The smart retooling of an existing product. Day packs, the smaller, lighter offspring of hefty hiking backpacks, were already popular among recreational climbers.

I didn’t know this: By the early ’70s, the sports shop inside the University of Washington bookstore started selling JanSport packs. . .

How about that, I was just there today. I remember in HS carrying my books in my hands. If you were a guy you’d carry them slung low down on your hip with one hand while the girls would sort of cradle them against their chest. I may have started using a backpack in late HS after my brother who had gone to college started using one. I know I had one when I started college in 1980. Back then, of course, you were only cool if you slung it over one shoulder. These days everyone seems to carry them on their backs, or some use the courier bags over one shoulder.

Mystery artifact

Filed under: Modern artifacts — acagle @ 9:40 am

Modern. Have a guess at what it really is.

Desert Fox

And “it” is not a pen!

December 28, 2012


Filed under: Biblical archaeology — acagle @ 9:53 am

Another Bethlehem? Archaeologists Say the New One Holds Historical Significance

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” has always been sung by Christians each year as a testimony to remember the birth of Jesus, deemed by Christians to be the Savior of the World, the Lord who was born of the virgin Mary, placed in a feeding trough, and worshipped by eastern astrologers and the angels at His birth. For centuries, Christians have never doubted that Christ was born in “the city of David,” the place known as “Bethlehem”.

New evidence has surfaced from Aviram Oshri, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist, that seems to suggest a new place of Jesus’ birth: while it is true that the name of the place was “Bethlehem,” it is not necessarily true that the city of Bethlehem is the place. Rather, the Bethlehem in which Jesus was born was the village of Bethlehem in Galilee rather than the city of David.

One thinks others would have noted such a discrepancy by now, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway. ‘Tis the season and all.


Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 9:49 am

A brief post from Martin over at Aardvarchaeology: Archaeology Should Resist Newswire Relevance

n recent years there’s been increasing numbers of archaeological research projects that reference climate change as part of what they want to study. This is at the same time wise and a little silly. It’s wise because science should serve the concerns of society, and because if you want research funding it’s a good idea to latch onto themes that people outside of your narrow speciality care about. But it’s also a little silly because it’s such transparent pandering to the funding bodies. I was taught about the threat of the greenhouse effect as a kid back in the 80s, and no archaeologist cared about climate back then. All in all, though, I think this climate orientation in recent archaeology is largely innocuous. We’re all under-funded and we follow the money.

Some good comments as well. I think he’s a bit overplaying the “no archaeologist cared about climate back then” card, although I think I understand where he’s coming from. Yes, many if not most archaeologists have been deeply involved in climate reconstruction for decades and it’s played an important role in archaeological explanation, so his statement is, on its face, false. However, the larger point I think he’s making is that archys have been tending to bring up “climate change” far too often given the recent (pun intended) climate in research fields these days. Let’s face it, you throw “climate change” into your research and the grants will come far more readily, as will the publications and popular media articles. That and anthropologists, being a vastly left-skewed population politically, are going to jump on the bandwagon anyhow.

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