April 8, 2014

Handbook for the Recently Deceased

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 7:33 pm

Researchers have translated an ancient Book of the Dead from the institution’s collection into English

Researchers at the Brooklyn Museum have translated into English an unusual ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead scroll from the institution’s collection. The piece, rare because it is inscribed on both sides, is an early example of a funerary text that started to appear widely in the New Kingdom, which began around 1550 BC.

The Book of the Dead offers guidelines on how to navigate the afterlife, which the ancient Egyptians viewed as “very strange and potentially hostile environments”, says Paul O’Rourke, a research associate at the Brooklyn Museum who has been studying the scroll. One section depicts the sun god Ra in a boat guiding the dead across a ring of fire. At another point, the scroll explains to the deceased how to get past a portal guarded by knife-welding demons.

Cancer in mummies

Filed under: Mummies, Public Health — acagle @ 3:29 pm

Following up on my post from yesterday about a project involving detecting cancer in mummies, I found this on a quick search:

Mary of Aragon (1503—68) is a typical example of a Renaissance noblewoman, whose beauty attracted the admiration of the humanists. She was a member of the literary circle of Ischia, founded by the Renaissance poetess Victoria Colonna, friend of Michelangelo. Her artificial mummy (figure), still wearing precious Renaissance clothing and showing asymmetrical swelling of the lower limbs, due to oedema, revealed a syphilitic gumma of the skin with typical treponemes.2 We therefore decided to assess the mummy for other sexually transmitted diseases.

. . .

To detect the presence of HPV, we amplified DNA extracted from a 5 μm paraffin-embedded tissue with L1 consensus primers GP5+/GP6+, promoting the amplification of a 141 bp sequence from 25 distinct genital HPVs.4 We used the amplified DNA fragment for direct hybridisation with oligonucleotides HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 33, revealing the presence of HPV 18, a virus with high oncogenic potential. To confirm the results, the amplified fragments were cloned and sequenced. Automated sequencing of several clones confirmed infection with HPV 18 and also revealed the presence of JC9813 DNA, a putative novel HPV with low oncogenic potential, recently discovered.

I’ve been wondering for a while if one could detect HPV in mummies. I don’t know where they got the specimen from (anatomically), but I’d guess many mummies would have the lady bits intact enough that one could really do more or less of a normal biopsy on the cervix. That would be fascinating. Archaeogynecology!

Hmmmmm. . . . .

Filed under: Public Health — acagle @ 3:24 pm

Durham academic finds 3,00-year-old skeleton with clogged arteries

Furred arteries have been affecting human health for at least 3,000 years, new research by a North East academic has found.

Ancient African skeletons have been discovered with atherosclerosis, a thickening of the artery wall due to fatty build-up and a major factor in cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death today.

Doctors blame our modern lifestyle with smoking, obesity and hypertension commonly the cause.

But the condition was also prevalent 3,000 years ago among the simple farming communities who worked the land by the Nile in what is now Sudan.

The only thing I’m a bit skeptical about is the identification of the arteries. I’ve never heard of that sort of thing preserving.

April 7, 2014

Report from the conference

Filed under: Public Health — acagle @ 8:06 pm

Probably the best conference I have ever attended. I came away feeling refreshed and invigorated. . . . .professionally anyway; due to, ummm, certain nightly activities I was physically d-a-i-d daid. But I’m going to revise my links over there =====> at some point.

But one great person I met was Katy Hunt who is studying cancer in past populations. See her story here. Really remarkable young woman. They have a Facebook page as well, so make sure you Like it.

April 3, 2014

Mystery object update

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:15 pm

Back in this post I put up the following photo:
Desert Fox

I answered the question of what it was in a comment there, but I thought I’d make an observation. I was telling the ArchaeoWife about is and remarked that from my boyhood in the 1960s and early ’70s one of my strongest memories of Autumn was the smell of burning leaves. She could not conceive of such a thing. She’s from California originally and is a bit younger than I, but I thought it was probably fairly common in most places. Maybe still is? I dunno, they banned it in my boyhood city at some point but I don’t know when.

But yeah, people would rake up their leaves and then burn them in their back yards or maybe in empty lots adjacent to their houses (this was a small midwestern city). It combined with the crisp Fall air to make a really strong memory for me.

Vikings! And their bread

Filed under: Uncategorized, Vikings! — acagle @ 8:57 am

Neat little video:

Several good observations in there. Egyptian bread was similar — actually probably most early bread was this way — in having lots of grit in it which would wear down teeth quite rapidly. And they mention beer and the malting process, which is essentially releasing the sugars out of the carbohydrates in order to make them fermentable.

April 2, 2014

This may be a first

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:46 pm

Archaeologists call time on elderly ale

Archaeologists working at the site of one of Britain’s oldest Christian buildings made an unexpected discovery – a bottle of beer drunk by one of their counterparts more than a century ago.

Researchers working to uncover St Piran’s Oratory in Cornwall say the artefact, dating from the first decade of the 20th century, still contains some of its original contents.

The bottle, bearing the embossed stamp of Walter Hicks & Company – the forerunner of today’s St Austell Brewery – is perfectly preserved.

A weird nexus of archaeologists and beer and archaeologists. . . .

April 1, 2014

Image problem solved

Filed under: Modern artifacts — acagle @ 7:46 pm

I found out that Dreamhost went and changed my ftp server name without, apparently, telling me. Hence, in honor of the new server I shall now post a couple of photos for your consideration:

Desert Fox

Desert Fox

Ignore the actual name of the file, I just called it that because I didn’t know what it was (at first. probably).

Any idears?

Now that’s cool

Filed under: Egypt, Humor — acagle @ 8:38 am

3,000-year-old mummified toy found in Tutankhamun’s tomb

Archaeologists unearthed a 3,000-year-old mummified teddy bear, believed to be the oldest in existence, at a tomb in Egypt.

And it has led experts to believe the Ancient Egyptians not only cuddled up with the toys at night, but once worshipped their furry playthings.

The landmark discovery marks the first time an Egyptian teddy bear has been discovered in perfect condition.

March 31, 2014

They did that

Filed under: Egypt, Rome — acagle @ 7:36 pm

Roman Emperor Dressed as Pharaoh in Newfound Carving

An ancient stone carving on the walls of an Egyptian temple depicts the Roman emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh, wearing an elaborate crown, a team of researchers has discovered.

In the carving, Emperor Claudius, who reigned from A.D. 41 to 54, is shown erecting a giant pole with a lunar crescent at the top. Eight men, each wearing two feathers, are shown climbing the supporting poles, with their legs dangling in midair.

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