March 15, 2017

Mesoamerican democracy?

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 6:49 pm

It wasn’t just Greece: Archaeologists find early democratic societies in the Americas

Both cities support Blanton and Fargher’s belief that the best predictor of collective rule is a strong internal revenue source—that is, taxes. Revenue sources are admittedly difficult to detect from artifacts and buildings. But after surveying 30 premodern societies documented ethnographically and historically, the researchers found that states with internal revenue sources were characterized by a high level of public goods and services, a strong governmental bureaucracy, and citizens empowered to judge the ruler’s actions. “When taxpayers are paying for the state, then the people in charge know they have to do the right thing,” Blanton says.

Collective states may have another tendency that can be spotted archaeologically: They attract people from beyond their borders, who bring artifacts that can be linked to other cultures. “When you have a collective formation that’s funded by internal resources, it’s in the interest of those in government to bring in more people,” says Gary Feinman, an archaeologist at The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, and a co-author on Blanton’s 1996 paper. Economic equality and markets may also attract immigrants to collective societies. “People move where they think there’s better opportunity—where they can make a living, where their kids are going to do better than they did. That’s always a motivation,” Feinman says.

Interesting read, although I’m not sure what to make of it. I’m a bit skeptical that one can get political organization from material remains.

I knew Feinman from my undergraduate day, btw.

March 8, 2017

Down the rabbit hole. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 4:12 pm

Literally!

A rabbit hole in the UK conceals the entrance to an incredible cave complex linked to the mysterious Knights Templar.

New photos show the remarkable Caynton Caves network, which looks like something out of the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” The shadowy Knights Templar order is said to have used the caves.

The Sun reports that the caves are hidden beneath a farmer’s field in Shropshire. The site was visited by photographer Michael Scott after he saw a video of the caves online. “I traipsed over a field to find it, but if you didn’t know it was there you would just walk right past it,” Scott said.

March 7, 2017

Ha.

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 7:49 pm

Egypt’s Most Famous Archaeologist Reportedly Called Lionel Messi a “Moron” After Pyramids Trip

When Lionel Messi traveled to Egypt last month as part of a humanitarian mission, he probably did not expect to run afoul of a world-famous archaeology expert. Oops. Spanish daily outlet El Mundo is reporting that Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist who previously served as the African country’s Minister of Antiquities, called Messi a “moron” in a TV interview following a guided tour of the Pyramids of Giza.

March 6, 2017

Facebook update

Filed under: Blogging update — acagle @ 7:57 pm

I’m giving the Facebook site a rest for the time being. Facebook as a whole actually; I haven’t even opened it up since last Thursday morning. Some personal reasons, but it also PO’ed me with their stupid algorithms. I honestly don’t know how long it will last, but probably a few weeks. Who knows, maybe indefinitely. But please spread the word there.

I’m not sure Bog Bodies is appropriate. . . .

Filed under: Bodies, Conservation/CRM, bodies everywhere! — acagle @ 7:55 pm

since there isn’t really any soft tissue preserved. But still cool: Windover’s Ancient ‘Bog People’ Among Most Significant Archaeological Finds In North America

There’s a video at the site of an old(?) Science Channel thing. Also it is apparently owned by the Archaeological Conservancy which I think is a good idea for preserving sites on private property.

Not the 4X4.

Filed under: Historic — acagle @ 7:47 pm

Archaeologists in Alaska uncover campsite used by survivors of doomed Russian ship

On a voyage to the remote settlements on Alaska’s southeast coast, the ill-fated Russian ship The Neva round aground during the brutally cold winter of 1813. More than 30 people aboard the vessel died and another 28 limped ashore where two more died of hypothermia in the harsh Alaskan wilderness before the remaining survivors were rescued three weeks later.

While the story of The Neva is well known throughout Alaska, the location of the shipwreck and how the survivors endured in that rugged landscape with little more than what was in their pockets has remained a mystery for over two centuries.

But the recent discovery by an international team of researchers funded by the National Science Foundation of a campsite used by the survivors has shed new light on what life was like for the survivors and pointed the archeologists to the Neva’s final resting place.

Nice little piece of detective work. I especially liked the misguided compass possibility and that they were looking in the wrong place due to uplift.

February 21, 2017

What to do, what to do. . . .with all those artifacts.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:41 pm

Artifacts down the street: Exploring urban archaeology: Archaeologists continually unearth artifacts in our cities. It’s time to showcase them.

But after the artifacts are dug out of the ground, what comes next? Today, many municipalities are grappling with how to take care of their artifacts and preserve them for future study. While archaeological finds abound in a City like Toronto, they’re not currently housed in a single location. Currently, artifacts—whether pottery, shoes, furniture, or glassware—are documented and stored by the licensed consulting archaeologists who discover them. They wind up kept in offices, storage lockers, garages, and basements. What good are archaeological excavations and keeping all this stuff if no one looks at it and our stories remain buried in boxes?

Nice ideas but it will take an obscene amount of $$$$$.

February 15, 2017

I’m back. With alcohol.

Filed under: Alcohol — acagle @ 8:32 pm

Had something of an emergency trip to Wisconsin earlier this month. Not really an ‘emergency’ but my sister was supposed to go in February but her cat was taken quite ill and she stayed home to look after it so I went in her stead.

AND IT WAS FOOKIN’ COOOOOOOOLD.

But I got used to it pretty quickly. Anyway, I’m back.

This is a good article: Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze

Good overview of alcohol archaeologically. Note the map that has North America notably absent (save for Mexico, but we call that Mesoamerica anyway). I don’t know if it was totally absent, or whether it came up with maize agriculture only, but I suspect it was probably around in minor quantities. Why it never took off, well, I don’t know.

January 23, 2017

All fall down. . . .twice.

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:49 pm

Archaeologists uncover new clues to Maya collapse

Archaeologists have long puzzled over what caused what is known as the Classic Maya collapse in the ninth century A.D., when many of the ancient civilization’s cities were abandoned. More recent investigations have revealed that the Maya also experienced an earlier collapse in the second century A.D. — now called the Preclassic collapse — that is even more poorly understood.

University of Arizona archaeologist Takeshi Inomata and his colleagues suggest in a new paper, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that both collapses followed similar trajectories, with multiple waves of social instability, warfare and political crises leading to the rapid fall of many city centers.

The findings are based on a highly refined chronology developed by Inomata and his colleagues using an unprecedented 154 radiocarbon dates from the archaeological site of Ceibal in Guatemala, where the team has worked for over a decade.

While more general chronologies might suggest that the Maya collapses occurred gradually, this new, more precise chronology indicates more complex patterns of political crises and recoveries leading up to each collapse.

As they note, they don’t really explain why, but getting a handle on the chronology is a big first step.

The Pompeii Principle in action

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 7:45 pm

The truth is in the garbage: New research examines ancient Roman trash

I’m surprised (sort of) that this hasn’t been done before. The article makes it seem surprising that they wold be “recycling” lots of stuff, but that may not be surprising; it’s all in cost-benefit calculations. Then again, I’ve dug through dumps and there’s plenty of junk in them. But re-use, especially with lithics, can play havoc with functional analyses.

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