The first largescale study of ancient DNA from early American people has confirmed the devastating impact of European colonisation on the Indigenous American populations of the time.
Led by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), the researchers have reconstructed a genetic history of Indigenous American populations by looking directly into the DNA of 92 pre-Columbian mummies and skeletons, between 500 and 8600 years old.
Published today in Science Advances, the study reveals a striking absence of the pre-Columbian genetic lineages in modern Indigenous Americans; showing extinction of these lineages with the arrival of the Spaniards.
April 6, 2016
The night of June 6, 1813, was dark and chaotic. As American troops advanced into the Niagara Peninsula, a battle ensued between them and the British army attempting to raid their camp at Stoney Creek in Ontario. Unable to coordinate a standard infantry line, both sides launched into close-range, hand-to-hand combat. Given the atypical nature of the battle, a group of archaeologists set out to see if the injuries found on two dozen skeletons in a mass grave from this War of 1812 skirmish were also atypical.
The Battle of Stoney Creek mass grave was excavated in 1998 and 1999. Containing 2,701 fragments, the collection represents at least 24 people who were likely hastily buried following the raid. The British lost 23 men, and the Americans 17, with over 200 more injured, missing, or captured. Previous studies on the excavated skeletons using stable isotope analysis revealed some of the soldiers had a more European diet, while others had a more North American, corn-based diet, suggesting both sides may have used the same grave to bury their dead. And in three of the individuals’ hip bones, there were injuries that seemed to have resulted from muskets.
April 5, 2016
Giglio and colleagues found more than 50,000 fragments of lids, pots and pans of various sizes and thickness, each featuring a very distinct coating.
“All the defective artifacts were dumped here. These pieces help us enormously to reconstruct the way the pottery was manufactured,” Giglio said.
Many of the fragments featured the thick internal red-slip coating that provided a non-adherent surface, making the pots and pans ideal for cooking meat-based stews.
Yup. At Memphis my area had (apparently) been a dumping ground for a ceramics manufacturing outfit and, in addition to various penii, we found at least a couple whole little vessels, both of them fairly well deformed. Which I thought was kinda neat: the little bowls that ended up rejected were the few to survive the millennia intact.
March 31, 2016
When the “hobbit” remains were thought to date to as recently as 12,000 years ago, these legends about Ebu Gogo started sounding like they could refer to H. floresiensis. The new Nature paper, however, uses cutting-edge analysis of geology to push the date of disappearance of the “hobbits” back to 50,000 years ago. Or, at least, this is the date that the “hobbits” left the cave at Liang Bua. Research authors Thomas Sutikna and colleagues write that, “Whether H. floresiensis survived after 50 kyr ago — potentially encountering modern humans on Flores or other hominins dispersing through southeast Asia, such as Denisovans — is an open question.”
I’ve been mostly on the fence about this. A whole bunch of microcephalics running around didn’t seem plausible to me, nor did such a recent holdover of mini Homo erecti(ish) guys. This doesn’t push the latter back all that far, but it seems a little more plausible to me.
March 22, 2016
A “hugely important” Iron Age burial ground has been unearthed at a housing development site in Yorkshire.
The 2,000-year-old skeletons and personal effects of 150 ancient Britons was discovered in the small town of Pocklington in east Yorkshire, during excavations at a site which property developer David Wilson Homes had earmarked for 77 new houses.
As The Guardian reports, 65 small square burial mounds were discovered across the site, with archaeologists uncovering human remains, jewellery, and ancient weapons like swords, spears and shields.
Doesn’t say much about the preservation but it ought to give yet more demographic and disease data.
On Friday March 11th something very special appeared from the ground in a field near Aunslev at Eastern Funen. Dennis Fabricius Holm was out searching with his metal detector and made an exceptional find. Immediately he contacted the archaeologist at Østfyns Museer, Malene Beck.
Dennis had found a small gold pendant, 4,1 cm in height, in the shape of a man with outstretched arms – the image of Christ. The figure is made of fine articulated goldthreads and small filigree pellets and weighs around 13,2 grams. The reverse side is smooth. At the top a small eye for the chain is mounted. The cross looks a lot like the gilded silver cross found in 1879 in Birka near Stockholm in Sweden, in a female grave from the Viking Age. (grave 660).
I dunno. Doesn’t scream out “Christian Crucifix” to me necessarily.
March 15, 2016
It’s a story that can look very different from the point of view of Native Americans rather than whites, but it remains a major part of the founding myth of the Pacific Northwest. And yet, we have very little tangible evidence of their journey; moving water and growing trees would have wiped out most traces over the last two centuries.
But Burke Museum Executive Director Julie Stein wound up involved in a unique bit of detective work to turn up evidence of Lewis and Clark’s outpost near the Pacific, along the Columbia River. It was, to put it bluntly, an all-out quest to find the historical figures’ poop.
They’re looking at the outhouse which, as we’ve seen here many times, can provide a lot of information on the health of the people producing it, from parasites to diet.
UPDATE: I just listened to it. Julie talks about a pill that is essentially an emetic, which has been used since at least ancient Egypt for pretty much anything. It basically makes you purge from both orifices.
VIDEO: Finding ‘lost’ village of Cadzow on M74, Hamilton, was a shock to archaeologists
Read more at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/video-finding-lost-village-cadzow-7531896#R9B4cFHDslDpBqQu.99
Archaeologists were shocked to uncover remains of the lost village of Cadzow so close to the M74 motorway.
They had no idea four buildings and a range of artefacts, dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, were buried next to the carriageway.
Kevin Mooney and Warren Bailie are part of an archaeological team hired by Transport Scotland to examine the area earmarked for the motorway extension.
They spent 18 months examining the area before discovering the remains of the village just past junction six.
Okay, the video is all of 12 seconds long so don’t even bother.
March 10, 2016
This was making the rounds a while ago but I didn’t get to it:
“Hurrian Hymn No. 6” is considered the world’s earliest melody, but the oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the “Seikilos Epitaph.” The song was found engraved on an ancient marble column used to mark a woman’s gravesite in Turkey. “I am a tombstone, an image,” reads an inscription. “Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.” The column also includes musical notation as well as a short set of lyrics that read: “While you live, shine / Have no grief at all / Life exists only for a short while / And time demands its toll.”
The well-preserved inscriptions on Seikilos Epitaph have allowed modern musicians and scholars to recreate its plaintive melodies note-for-note. Dr. David Creese of the University of Newcastle performed it using an eight-stringed instrument played with a mallet, and ancient music researcher Michael Levy has recorded a version strummed on a lyre. There have also been several attempts to decode and play “Hurrian Hymn No. 6,” but because of difficulties in translating its ancient tablets, there is no definitive version. One of the most popular interpretations came in 2009, when Syrian composer Malek Jandali performed the ancient hymn with a full orchestra.
I made a copy of the sound file and uploaded it so y’all can have a listen as well:
Hurrian Hymn #6.