Okay, we’re back in business. Many items to post today (and from the last three days since we’ve been out of commission). First up: Katherine Griffis-Greenberg sent this around to the EEF lists this week:
I noted in passing an interesting article published yesterday in Reuters
noted that Australian scientists are studying crocodile blood as the next
big source of super-antibiotics which may be strong enough to combat human
infections and disease, such as HIV.
The article can be read here:
I can recall in the past knowing doctors who used to laugh at some of the
animal effluence remedies of the ancient Egyptians, such as the pEbers
remedies for open wound infections, burns, and eye infections such as
pterygium (a form of conjunctivitis of the eye) which used excrement or
effluences from crocodiles, belittling them as forms of “sympathetic magic.”
John Nunn (1996) noted in his book on ancient Egyptian medicine, that forms
of reptilian fluids, such as blood, excrement, and fat, were used rather
extensively in ancient Egyptian medicine. However, he wryly noted in
discussing the various eye treatments which used crocodile
excrement/effluences, “It is difficult to discern any pharmacological basis
for this practice.” (Nunn 1996: 149)
Perhaps today we CAN “discern a pharmacological basis” as to why the ancient
Egyptians thought these products were effective for treating infection and
However, as time goes by, one has to wonder if the ancient Egyptians surely
did not know some things better – medical facts that we today are just
beginning to discover.
This prompted a few responses that we won’t bother going into, but it seems interesting from a medical perspective. We posted a story on ancient Egyptian lettuce (here ) that seemed to indicate some aphrodisiactic (not a word) effect. And it’s true that some plants used by ancient and modern people do have therapeutic effects. On the other hand, one must be cautious since as we’ve seen even widely used herbals can be, upon actual blind testing, found to be ineffective (or at least no more effective than a placebo; see echinace for a recent example).
It’s being compared to the treasure of the legendary city of Troy.
Bulgarian archaeologists say they have unearthed about 15-thousand tiny golden rings that date back to the end of the third millennium B-C.
More from the WaPo here.
And some from a political blog.
And even MORE from something called the Tomb Raider Chronicles. (Okay, nothing new at this one, but we coldn’t help linking to it)
And the key to the vault Report: Ancient Key Found in Austria
Archeologists believe they have found a key dating back to the late Bronze Age in southern Austria, an Austrian news agency reported.
The 16 inch long bronze key was only the third of its kind to be found in Austria, archaeologist Maria Windhager-Konrad said according to the Austria Press Agency .
Experts were fascinated by the position of the 3,200-year-old key, which was surrounded by Bronze Age axes and other items, the report said.
“The items must have been placed like that on purpose,” the report quoted archaeologist Bernhard Hebert as saying.
That’s the whole thing.
Archaeologists have discovered two profanity-inscribed ancient birch bark pieces in Veliky Novgorod in northwestern Russia, the local culture, cinema and tourism committee said.
The pieces of bark were found at an excavation site near the Novgorod Kremlin’s fortress wall on Wednesday and Thursday.
Experts said they dated back to the first part of the 12th century, based on the occupation layer and other signs.
A dozen people attacking the ground with trowels and dustpans are looking for evidence that Maine’s first inhabitants practiced agriculture on what today is the University of New England campus.
The French cartographer Samuel de Champlain left a historical account of an Indian village he encountered here in 1605. His journal includes detailed descriptions of American Indians growing squash, beans and other vegetables.
A husband-and-wife team of archaeologists overseeing the second excavation in six years hope to find a kernel of corn or a pumpkin seed to support Champlain’s account.
We’re not experts on NE archaeology, but it strikes us odd that agriculture should be unusual in the 16th century, but there it is.
And now. . . .the news from the EEF
Press report: “Artefact smugglers get life sentences”
“A Cairo court has sentenced three men, including a former senior civil
servant, to life imprisonment for taking part in a scam that smuggled
thousands of antiquities out of Egypt.(…) The accused were part of
a group that officials believe has stolen about 57,000 artifacts from
state warehouses and smuggled thousands of them abroad.”
Other reports about this (fairly identical; the last one mentions names):
[Eds. Seems a bit extreme to us, but at least they got some punishment.]
Press report: “Queen Nefertiti returns to her old home”
“The priceless ancient bust of one of history’s great beauties, Queen
Nefertiti of Egypt, returned to Berlin’s Museum Island on Friday
[August 12] for the first time since World War 2. Overnight on
Friday, the world-famous bust returned to the Museum Island
complex in the east of the reunified capital ahead of the opening of
a special exhibition of Egyptian artefacts at the city’s Old Museum on
Another press report about this, with a history of the bust:
Invisible Books is pleased to announce the online publication of
Hours One through Six of the Book Amduat. The complete text, in
English, Hieroglyphs and transliteration, with all illustrations reproduced
and explicated, is available withouth charge in PDF format:
“This is the first complete translation to appear in English in 100
years, the only version of the hieroglyphic text available online or
Online version of: Elaine K. Gazda (ed.), Karanis: An Egyptian Town
in Roman Times Discoveries of the University of Michigan Expedition to
Egypt (1924-1935). University of Michigan, 1983. In HTML.
On-line version of the 1983 Kelsey Museum of Archaeology exhibition
catalogue of the same name by Elaine K. Gazda.
[Eds. Definitely check this one out.]
Oleg Pomogaev, “Egypt’s Hidden Depths”, in GPS World,
November 2002. Available online in HTML.
About Russian GPS mapping of the Giza archaeological zone.
“In 2700 BC, Egyptians accurately laid out and aligned the
perfectly square base of Giza’s Great Pyramid. Last winter, a
Russian team returned to the birthplace of precision surveying
and unearthed startling evidence of a heretofore unknown
complex, by feeding elevation data from a kinematic GPS
survey into a mapping graphics software program.”
Online version of: Mark S. Copley, Pamela J. Rose, Alan Clapham, David N.
Edwards, Mark C. Horton, Richard P. Evershed, Detection of palm fruit
lipids in archaeological pottery from Qasr Ibrim, Egyptian Nubia, in:
Proceedings: Biological Sciences, vol. 268, pp. 593-597 (March 22, 2001) – pdf-file: 180 KB
“… through the investigation of ceramic vessels (via gas chromatography,
gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and gas
chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry) saturated
carboxylic acids in the range C12 to C18 have been detected (with an
unusually high abundance of C12) from vessels from the Nubian site of Qasr
Ibrim. This is mirrored in the saturated fatty acid distributions detected
from the kernels of modern and ancient date palm (_Phoenix dactylifera_ L.)
and dom palm (_Hyphaena thebaicas_ (L.) Mart.). Mixing in some of the
vessels of the palm fruit with another lipid source is indicated through the
i13C values. These results provide the first direct evidence for the
exploitation of palm fruit in antiquity and the use of pottery vessels in
End of EEF news
Megafauna extinctions update Investigating a Mega-Mystery
When, at least 12,000 years ago, human beings first crossed into North America from Siberia, the continent teemed with large animals. Today, of course, our only encounters with giant short-faced bears, enormous sloths and dozens of other such extinct species come in museums. On this much, archaeologists and paleontologists agree. The causes of this mass extinction, however, remain clouded by conflicting findings and holes in the archaeological record.
click for full image and caption
Fossil of Thylacoleo carnifex…
The mystery extends far beyond North America. Between about 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, near the end of the Pleistocene, much of the world’s megafauna (usually defined as animals weighing at least 100 pounds) disappeared. At the same time, Homo sapiens was expanding from Africa into Eurasia, Australia and the Americas. The late Pleistocene also witnessed dramatic climate change, especially during the period of warming and deglaciation that followed the Last Glacial Maximum some 20,000 years ago.
We couldn’t find the papers online yet, but will try to do so eventually. But in related news:
If a group of prominent ecologists have their way, lions and elephants could someday be roaming the Great Plains of North America.
The idea of transplanting African wildlife to this continent is being greeted with gasps and groans from other scientists and conservationists who recall previous efforts to relocate foreign species halfway around the world, often with disastrous results.
We predict this will never happen.
Although to be honest, if they ever get some mammoth DNA and successfully clone one, we’re okay with letting a bunch of ‘em roam the plains again.