September 10, 2014

More papers!

Filed under: Egypt, Forensic archaeology, Online publications — acagle @ 6:56 pm

Neolithic Tooth Replacement in Two Disturbed Burials from Southern Egypt

ABSTRACT During the excavation of a Late Neolithic cemetery near Nabta Playa, Egypt, two crania were recovered that evidenced tooth replacement in antiquity. Both were apparently collected and redeposited by Neolithic people after being disturbed by later burials. In the first case, a young female’s maxillary anterior alveoli contained a combination of mandibular and misplaced maxillary teeth. In the second case, another young female’s maxilla and mandible contained two incorrectly placed teeth. This, and other evidence, suggest that attempts were made to return these individuals to the soil in as complete of a state as possible—being limited only by the ancient grave-digger’s level of anatomical knowledge. A review of the mortuary literature and inquiries made to several leading bioarchaeologists suggest that the tooth replacement seen here may be unique; we have been unable to document comparable treatment in any other context worldwide.

This is post-mortem replacement, btw, not early dentistry. The whole paper is there, all by Joel Irish.

And another one, which I have downloaded: Early Cemeteries of the East Delta: Kafr Hassan Dawood, Minshat Abu Omar, and Tell Ibrahim Awad

I’m looking at it because I want to see if I can compare some of our Kom el-Hisn burials to other early ones.

And yet another one: Evidence for Prehistoric Origins of Egyptian Mummification in Late Neolithic Burials

An amulet, but not from Egypt

Filed under: Biblical archaeology — acagle @ 6:53 pm

One of world’s earliest Christian charms found

1,500 year-old papyrus fragment found in The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library has been identified as one the world’s earliest surviving Christian charms.
. . .
Faint lettering on the back of the charm is thought to be a receipt for the payment of grain tax which was certified by the tax collector from the village of Tertembuthis – this is in the countryside of the ancient city of Hermoupolis (modern el-Ashmunein).
Dr Mazza said: “The amulet maker would have cut a piece of the receipt, written the charm on the other side and then he would have folded the papyrus to be kept in a locket or pendant. It is for this reason the tax receipt on the exterior was damaged and faded away.”

Lots of papyrus was recycled. I’d never heard of Christian ‘amulets’ before though.

September 8, 2014

Why you should never believe the press

Filed under: Vikings! — acagle @ 9:52 am

Well, I exaggerate. Somewhat. But we’ve been through this before: Raining On Your Parade About Those Women Viking Warriors

Here’s a headline that just sounds awesome: Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female.

A lot of people have sent us this link these past two days. It raised my “Really?” flag, so I got the original source paper, “Warriors and women: the sex ratio of Norse migrants to eastern England up to 900 ad” by Shane McLeod, published in the journal Early Medieval Europe in 2011. Then I read it all the way through. And, unfortunately (meaning I really hate to ruin everyone’s fun here): That’s not what it says at all.
. . .
The paper then looks at grave sites at which the sex of the remains was determined using the bones themselves. This method, while still not foolproof, is much more accurate at determining sex than using other, non-human-remains stuff that was buried in the grave along with the body. A really clear pattern emerged when comparing the male/female ratios at the sites that used grave goods against the ratios at the sites that used bones to determine sex. When the bones made the determination, more of the remains were identified as female.

Goes on to note that the females were only described in the papers as ‘migrants’ and not as ‘warriors’. The source paper notes that it’s generally held that women only migrated in after (primarily male) armies had already invaded. That wasn’t my understanding — I vaguely recall a few articles that described the Viking invasions as consisting of these sorts of mixed-sex migrants, not just armies of men — but then I’m not a specialist.

September 7, 2014

Jack the Ripper ID’d?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 11:04 am

DNA tests ‘prove’ that Jack the Ripper was a Polish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski

The breakthrough came when Dr Jari Louhelainen, an expert in historic DNA, was commissioned to study a shawl found with Eddowes, the second-last “confirmed” victim of the Ripper more than 125 years ago.

I’ll let y’all read the rest of it (not very long). I always favored Kosminski over the various other suspects since he fit the profile better than the others. . . and the kennings stopped right after he was arrested. I won’t state victory though, there’s not enough info on the tests and provenience and such yet. Ferinstance, just because his DNA was on it doesn’t necessarily mean he killed her (she was a prostitute after all), although I suppose the odds of him hooking up with that particular one seem to make a circumstantial case. I’d wager more than one person was convicted on less.

September 5, 2014

Almost Sharknado!

Filed under: Media, Non-archaeology — acagle @ 8:35 am

Was switching through channels last night after the football game (booooo) and happened upon Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine
Here’s the teaser:

A 30-foot white shark has terrorized the shores of South Africa for decades, believed by the locals to be responsible for countless attacks on humans.

Jaws, right? It was a documentary about a very late shark (supposedly a Great White) that actively hunted people. They showed footage of a boat capsizing, lots of people in the water, sharks all around, etc., all leading up to one women being dragged underwater along with a very large pontoon. They also showed some footage of a large shark hanging vertically in the water while sneaking up on a prey item, in this case a teenaged boy. Neat stuff, huh?

Sadly, it’s all fake:

The shark Submarine is an urban legend from the 1970’s about a large white shark in False Bay, started by journalists who wanted to see how easy it would be to fool the average newspaper reader. The Submarine shark then was reportedly “sighted” for years to come and the legend grew longer as the years went on. Everyone who has worked on white sharks has seen their version of the Submarine, but it does not actually exist. Think Loch Ness.

Well, maybe not “sadly” as it would kind of suck if a 30-foot shark were actually hunting humans. It kind of almost had me going for a while, but it just seemed a bit too convenient. Who has lots of cameras filming at an active rescue? Not to mention pretty good camera work, focusing in on all the right places at the right times and such. Who would think of dropping sonar into the water during a rescue? And the scientists and eyewitnesses were just a little too emotive and precise in their interviews to be real people speaking extemporaneously.

I guess there’s some backlash, although its “mockumentary” nature should have been obvious, so I think perhaps some of that bad feelings are due to embarrassment at having been duped.

Check it out and see how many red flags you can see.

September 4, 2014

Wish my old ‘burgh had one. . .

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 1:53 pm

< ahref="">Town has hidden hoard of ancient Egyptian artifacts

THESE amazing artefacts, made around 3,000 years ago, are part of Wigan’s collection of priceless treasures from ancient Egypt.

The extraordinary trove of almost 40 objects from the great civilisation which flourished along the banks of the Nile is owned by Wigan Council.

Experts who have viewed the artefacts say some of the pieces would not be out of place in a national museum as they are extremely important both for their beautiful craftsmanship and the light they shed on Ancient Egypt’s long and complicated history.

And yet more free publications

Filed under: Online publications — acagle @ 9:13 am

This time from the Netherlands Institute for the Near East. Some really neat stuff there. Well, I mean, if you’re kind of a geek, that is.

September 3, 2014


Filed under: Paleodiet — acagle @ 7:18 pm

Paleo-escargot? Humans living 30,000 years ago dined on snails, say archaeologists

Escargot is more than just a modern delicacy: Ancient humans who lived 30,000 years ago ate the mollusks too, a new archaeological excavation has revealed.

Hundreds of burnt snail shells were found near fireplaces along with tools and other animal remains in rock shelters along a cliff in Spain. The finding suggests Paleolithic people on the Iberian Peninsula ate snails more than 10,000 years earlier than those who lived in the neighboring Mediterranean region.

The snails probably didn’t make up a calorically significant part of these Paleolithic people’s diet, but may have provided key vitamins and nutrients, said study lead author Javier Fernández-López de Pablo, an archaeologist at the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social in Spain.

Not entirely sure why this is all that important. . . .I assume people were eating nearly anything they could that was available. It may be that — as the article suggests — something had changed in the socio-demographics or settlement/land-use patterns that put the snails on the menu “full time” when they hadn’t been a high-value prey item before.

Yet another paper for download

Filed under: Egypt, Online publications — acagle @ 7:08 pm

Burial practices of the Final Neolithic pastoralists at
Gebel Ramlah, Western Desert of Egypt
by Michał Kobusiewicz, Jacek Kabaciński, Romuald Schild, Joel D. Irish and Fred Wendorf (British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan 13 (2009): 147–74) PDF.

A veritable who’s who of late prehistoric Egyptian archaeology! I worked with Kubusiewicz at Kom el-Hisn in 1988, my first (well, and only) season there. Hilarious guy. I also met Wendorf back in the 1990s when I was briefly into predynastic lithics.

September 2, 2014

Alcohol + archaeologists

Filed under: Alcohol, Underwater archaeology — acagle @ 3:50 pm

200-year-old Selters water bottle that was recently found by archaeologists contains drinkable alcohol!

A 200-year-old bottle carrying either vodka or gin has been recovered from a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, media reports said.
“The alcohol is drinkable. This means it would not cause poisoning. Apparently, however, it does not smell particularly good,” Tomasz Bednarz, an underwater archaeologist at the National Maritime Museum in Poland, was quoted as saying.

I originally posted on this here. I’m guessing. . .well, if they smelled it, they must have opened it, yes?

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