February 28, 2013

Lost civilization shoes. . . .found

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 7:56 pm

In Egypt: Shoe-dunnit? Archaeologists determined to solve the mystery

The discovery of shoes deliberately hidden in an ancient Egyptian temple has left archaeologists baffled, not least because they include design features thought to have been invented in Medieval Europe.

Two pairs of tiny children’s shoes were among the seven found concealed in a jar placed into a cavity between two mudbrick walls in a temple in Luxor, site of the ancient city of Thebes.

Oddly, they were tied together using palm fibre string and placed within a single adult shoe. A third pair that had been worn by an adult was found alongside them.

This is actually the first I’ve heard of this. Neat little find though. Even a couple of forensic hypotheses with them.

Cleopatra’s brother’s sister-in-law’s cousin update

Filed under: Egypt, Forensic archaeology — acagle @ 7:51 pm

At the Mail. Not much new. I wonder if they could get dental DNA from inside the teeth? That might be uncontaminated.

Army of David?

Filed under: Amateur, Egypt — acagle @ 2:28 pm

A challenge to academic Egyptology

Stubborn and persistent, Conman threw herself into Egyptological research. . .Two years later, she published her first paper in a peer-reviewed academic publication, the prestigious German journal of Egyptology Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur.

“The result was not the welcoming enthusiasm I expected,” said Conman. “I guess I had in mind the two Australian doctors who discovered that ulcers were caused by bacterial infection. They were able to prove their results to specialists — who were initially skeptical — because those specialists understood the nature of scientific proof. Although my model for the stars is demonstrable, provable, and has even been acclaimed by some astronomers, Egyptologists continue to resist my research.”

Tough to evaluate as I’m not entirely familiar with either area of Egyptology. There will always be a certain amount of skepticism of amateurs, especially if they portray their conclusions as a result of their noticing something “everybody else had missed”. That’s the myth of the lone scientist that I keep harping on here: it almost never happens that way. That’s sort of the way the work is portrayed here, although that may not be reflective of the original article.

I would suspect the problem isn’t the astronomy, but the interpretation of such. It’s one thing to say that something could have been such-and-such a way, but another altogether to say it must have been that way.

February 27, 2013

Filed under: Paleodiet — acagle @ 3:06 pm

The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: meat-based, yet non-atherogenic
L Cordain, SB Eaton, J Brand Miller, N Mann and K Hill

Here’s the abstract:

Objective: Field studies of twentieth century hunter-gathers (HG) showed them to be generally free of the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Consequently, the characterization of HG diets may have important implications in designing therapeutic diets that reduce the risk for CVD in Westernized societies. Based upon limited ethnographic data (n¼58HG societies) and a single quantitative dietary study, it has been commonly inferred that gathered plant foods provided the dominant energy source in HG diets.

Method and Results: In this review we have analyzed the 13 known quantitative dietary studies of HG and demonstrate that animal food actually provided the dominant (65%) energy source, while gathered plant foods comprised the remainder (35%). This data is consistent with a more recent, comprehensive review of the entire ethnographic data (n ¼229HG societies) that showed the mean subsistence dependence upon gathered plant foods was 32%, whereas it was 68% for animal foods. Other evidence, including isotopic analyses of Paleolithic hominid collagen tissue, reductions in hominid gut size, low activity levels of certain enzymes, and optimal foraging data all point toward a long history of meat-based diets in our species. Because increasing meat consumption in Western diets is frequently associated with increased risk for CVD mortality, it is seemingly paradoxical that HG societies, who consume the majority of their energy from animal food, have been shown to be relatively free of the signs and symptoms of CVD.

Conclusion: The high reliance upon animal-based foods would not have necessarily elicited unfavorable blood lipid profiles because of the hypolipidemic effects of high dietary protein (19 –35% energy) and the relatively low level of dietary carbohydrate (22 –40% energy). Although fat intake (28 –58% energy) would have been similar to or higher than that found in Western diets, it is likely that important qualitative differences in fat intake, including relatively high levels of MUFA and PUFA and a lower o-6=o-3 fatty acid ratio, would have served to inhibit the development of CVD. Other dietary characteristics including high intakes of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals along with a low salt intake may have operated synergistically with lifestyle characteristics (more exercise, less stress and no smoking) to further deter the development of CVD.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2002) 56, Suppl 1, S42 – S52. DOI: 10.1038=sj=ejcn=1601353

This is actually the sort of paper I’ve been searching for for quite a while, although there are probably still some problems with it. For one, even “modern” H-G groups can not at all be assumed to be pristine nor representative of past cultures; there are very few, if any, even in the early 20th century that were unaffected by modern western society and its myriad diseases, or even contemporary agriculturalists and their myriad diseases. Second, a great many of these inhabit marginal environments, having been pushed out by agriculturalists from the best land. OTOH, they do control for this somewhat by using paleobiological data that suggest our forebears in other environments had similar dietary profiles. Also, I wonder if CVD isn’t, in some sense, an aging disease somewhat like cancer. For the most part, by the time westerners actually feel the results of CVD they’re already past the age at which most HGs would have normally lived to.

Still, I like this. It goes along with some other work recently questioning the low-fat low-meat diet that is supposed to protect us all from heart disease. Opinion around the northwest is that local marine-oriented groups had up to 85% of their diet from marine animal resources and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that it was unduly harmful to their health. For my part, I’m starting to think you can eat all the bacon cheeseburgers you want. . . . just leave off the bun.

Does information have a right to be free?

Filed under: Academia — acagle @ 11:50 am

Aaron Swartz Was Right

The suicide of the Internet wunderkind Aaron Swartz has given rise to a great deal of discussion, much of it centered on whether the penalty sought against him by the prosecutor was proportional to his “crime.”

The consensus so far has been that Swartz did something wrong by accessing and releasing millions of academic papers from the JSTOR archive. But perhaps it is time to ask whether Swartz did in fact act wrongly. We might entertain the possibility that Swartz’s act of civil disobedience was an attempt to help rectify a harm that began long ago. Perhaps he was not only justified in his actions but morally impelled to act as he did. Moreover, we too might be morally impelled to take action.

Via Althouse.

Most of the discussion thus far has revolved around prosecutorial overreach in their harassment of Swartz, but this article looks at his actions and philosophy. That is, was Swartz’s release of millions of JSTOR papers justifiable and was he correct that “we all have a right to these articles”?

My initial impression was that I disagreed with most of it. Yes, if we paid for a given research project — through grants of public monies — then we can expect to have access to the results in some form. But do we have a “right” to these specific journal articles? My gut reaction is no, we don’t; the researchers have chosen this route to disseminate their work, but there’s no reason they can’t do the same thing in another, publicly accessible, venue, such as online in a blog.
(more…)

February 26, 2013

Bad news from Egypt

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 4:44 pm

Did you hear about the balloon crash?

A hot air balloon full of tourists exploded near the southern city Luxor just after dawn Tuesday, killing at least 18 people and injuring three in the latest blow to Egypt’s moribund tourism industry.

Health ministry officials said that the dead included nine Chinese from Hong Kong, four Japanese, two French, a Hungarian, an Egyptian and a British woman, Egyptian state media reported. The three injured survivors included the Egyptian pilot and the British husband of the British woman who died. They jumped from the balloon before it exploded, state media reported, quoting an unnamed owner of the company that operated the balloon.

At least from the reports the pilot abandoned the passengers before it floew back up in the air and exploded. Jerk.

I used to see the balloons when I worked at Luxor and they really do look beautiful rising above the landscape early in the morning:

I never went up in one though, I just didn’t trust them.

Lost civilization Queen of Egypt. . . .found

Filed under: Egypt, Forensic archaeology — acagle @ 4:40 pm

Well, maybe her sibling: Archaeologist says bones found in Turkey are probably those of Cleopatra’s half-sister

“When I was working with the architecture of The Octagon and the building next to it, it wasn’t known whose skeleton was inside. Then I found some ancient writers telling us that in the year 41 B.C., Arsinoe IV – the half-sister of Cleopatra – was murdered in Ephesus by Cleopatra and her Roman lover, Marc Antony. Because the building is dated by its type and decoration to the second half of the first century B.C., this fits quite well.

“I put the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Iffy, of course, but I like that it’s a relative this time rather than the lady herself.

UPDATE: More here along with an artist’s conception.

Lost civilization continent. . . .fou. . .hey, what?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 1:35 pm

Mebbe so: Scientists Think They’ve Found a Lost Continent in the Indian Ocean

William Blake saw the universe in a grain of sand. A team of geologists saw a continent.

In a paper published online Monday in Nature Geoscience, an international research team reports that it has found evidence of a lost “microcontinent” in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar. The scientists analyzed sands they found on the beaches of the island nation of Mauritius and found traces of an ancient form of the mineral zircon. That’s noteworthy because Mauritius is a relatively young, volcanic island, while zircon of that age is typically found in much older, continental crust.

Not entirely conclusive but kinda neat anyhow.

February 25, 2013

What I’m I would be listening to right now

Filed under: Modern artifacts — acagle @ 8:23 pm

Almost anything by Styx. I’m on a total Styx kick. It all started a few months ago when I snagged their Equinox album and remembered how really awesome it is, and then more recently got their second album and remembered how really awesome it is. Then Palladia had one of their recent concerts where they played The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight all through — which I don’t much like, but lots of bands are doing that these days — and they still really rock, even without a couple members. It’s too bad they could stick together; they more or less booted out Dennis DeYoung, one of the main songwriters. I admit that he (DeYoung) took them way off into theatrical mode after Pieces of Eight which I didn’t really like, but when they were all working together well, I think they had a really great blend of the high theater and really heavy rock. Some of the pieces they did involving a pipe organ are just brilliant.

I really must go see them next time they’re in or near town.

And still more!

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:11 pm

Video: Major medieval discovery halts work on Beverley’s Saturday Market

A MAJOR archaeological discovery is threatening to delay work on the £2.5m revamp of Beverley’s Saturday Market.

Workmen have uncovered a section of ancient wall, which could be medieval shop foundations or part of the 12th century Archbishop’s Hall.

Kind of a useless video, although it at least shows the location. Not much really describing the work although it’s suggested that pre-excavation archaeological work wasn’t done.

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