Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover 11th Century Rakia Distillation Vessel
Bulgarian archaeologists recently discovered an 11th century fragment of a distillation vessel used for the production of the country’s traditional fruit brandy, which is known as rakia. The fragment was uncovered during the excavation works, which are being conducted by the National Historical Museum (NIM) at the medieval Lyutitsa fortress. The fortress is situated on a hill above the town of Ivaylovgrad and the find was discovered by the team of archaeologist Filip Petrunov, press statement of NIM informs. This is the second vessel for the distillation of rakia to be uncovered at the fortress and the third one in Bulgaria.
Not sure how they knew it was for this rakia stuff specifically, though perhaps it has a special traditional shape? I dunno, I would think any old distillation apparatus could be used. I wonder when the first evidence of distillation appears?
Sort of: See NYC’s Only Remaining Trace of the Original Penn Station
On West 31st Street, wedged in between a Park ‘n’ Lock and DVD store, stands the only remaining trace of the glorious original Penn Station. Scouting NY’s Nick Carr has turned his camera on the “granite behemoth” at 242 West 31st Street to discover that the building with curiously blacked-out windows and an industrial door is the original Penn Station’s service building. Designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Mead, & White, with William Symmes Richardson, the granite-faced building is where “all of the critical powering services to the original Penn Station” were produced, including electricity, heat, light, elevator hydraulics, compressed air, and refrigeration, the Municipal Art Society says.
You can find a lot of this stuff in most cities. I saw something about the old Penn Station sometime in the last few weeks but can’t remember what it was.
Sea Otters Use Tools, and Archaeologists Are On the Case
For a long time, we thought of tool use as the thing that made us human, but we actually share the ability with many other primates, as well as surprising animals like crows and sea otters. Some archaeologists are interested in studying sea otters’ tools.
Archaeologists have studied the history of human tool use, through the physical things our ancestors left behind, for decades. In recent years, some archaeologists have started using the same methods to study chimpanzee tool use by looking at the tools they discard, and even the waste that gets left behind when a chimpanzee makes a tool. Now, a small group of primate archaeologists wants to take a look at sea otters.
Sea otters are one of handful of non-primate species in the world that uses tools. From a young age, some sea otters learn to use rocks to crack snail shells to get at the soft, edible bits inside.
That was pretty long ago that anyone thought that tool use was a human-defining trait, but point taken.
A massive gate unearthed in Israel may have marked the entrance to a biblical city that, at its heyday, was the biggest metropolis in the region.
The town, called Gath, was occupied until the ninth century B.C. In biblical accounts, the Philistines — the mortal enemies of the Israelites — ruled the city. The Old Testament also describes Gath as the home of Goliath, the giant warrior whom the Israelite King David felled with a slingshot.
The new findings reveal just how impressive the ancient Philistine city once was, said lead archaeologist of the current excavation, Aren Maeir, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
Did I ever link this TED Talk on Goliath? Not sure I buy all his arguments though (see here, for example). Actually, I’m not much of a fan of TED Talks, they strike me like those tech TV shows where the young exciting hosts are always showing us Exciting! New! technology that mostly ever makes it into the real world or is so super-expensive that only a few wealthy people, like the Conqueror Camper Trailer (though if anyone out there wishes to donate one for the cause of archaeology, let me know).
Went to Portland last Thursday to give a talk for the local ARCE chapter. They’d been trying to get me down for a couple of years now, but I finally went and did my talk on the Karanis Bath work I did in 2012. I should make that into a slide show or something and put it online. Hmmm. Must remember to try that. Anyway, I also gave a few minutes on a Grand Tour of the Fayum as well. Went well, although it was a small crowd, probably because it was a Thursday night in the summer and it was 103 degrees. Lots of good questions. I liked the trip. Stayed at The Benson and they were filming The Librarians there at the time, although I think it was done(?) by the time I got there. If there were any celebrities present I didn’t recognize them.
Anyway, also did a small survey up on Orcas Island yesterday (Tuesday) and that’s a long day; the survey itself was only a couple of hours, but travel time, waiting for the ferry, etc. Always a 12-hour day. And we had our block party/Night Out in the evening so *sigh* busy.
Thus, a couple of posts tonight and hopefully will hit it again tomorrow.
From the ever-fruitful desk of Kristina: Skeletons Of Napoleon’s Soldiers Discovered In Mass Grave Show Signs Of Starvation
Perhaps one of the most miserable campaigns in history.
Alaskan Archaeologists Find and Identify New Plesiosaur Species
An Anchorage, Alaska-based fossil collector named Curvin Metzler has recently announced that discovery of fossil bones of an elasmosaur—a type of plesiosaur. Metzler says that this species has very long limbs and necks like paddles, a feature which would have definitely allowed the animal to swim efficiently underwater.
According to University of Alaska Museum of the North earth science curator and marine expert Patrick Druckenmiller, notes, “Picture the mythical Loch Ness monster and you have a pretty good idea what it looked like.”
Not a terribly exciting story but I wanted to point that out.
Archaeologists find possible evidence of earliest human agriculture
According to the researchers, the community at Ohalo II was already exploiting the precursors to domesticated plant types that would become a staple in early agriculture, including emmer wheat, barley, pea, lentil, almond, fig, grape and olive.
Significantly, however, they discovered the presence of two types of weeds in current crop fields: corn cleavers and darnel.
Microscopic examination of the edges of stone blades from the site also found material that may have been transferred during the cutting and harvesting of cereal plants.
That’s kind of what one would expect: probably lots of early fiddlings with domestication and intensive agriculture before it became fixed in the population and expanded from there.
The Burial of Nefertiti? (2015)
I drank a lot of beer with Reeves once. No, twice.
The Ancient City Where People Decided To Eat Chickens
An ancient, abandoned city in Israel has revealed part of the story of how the chicken turned into one of the pillars of the modern Western diet.
The city, now an archaeological site, is called Maresha. It flourished in the Hellenistic period from 400 to 200 BCE.
“The site is located on a trade route between Jerusalem and Egypt,” says Lee Perry-Gal, a doctoral student in the department of archaeology at the University of Haifa. As a result, it was a meeting place of cultures, “like New York City,” she says.
How do we know they weren’t using them for eggs? (I would imagine egg shells would preserve?)