January 26, 2015

I’m afraid I couldn’t not post this

Filed under: Forensic archaeology — acagle @ 8:21 pm

Mysterious Murder Of 724-Year-Old Italian Warlord Solved By Analyzing His Poop

Okay, I just linked to that one for the headline. The better story is HERE

A study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science has finally solved the sudden and unexplained death of Cangrande I della Scala.

The Italian warlord (who was also a patron of famed poet Dante) was born in 1291, eventually becoming the most powerful ruler in the history of Verona when he took charge in 1311. In 1329, the victorious warrior was planning to take over yet another territory, the Treviso region, but following his success, he fell violently ill — some stories blame it on drinking toxic spring water.

On July 22, 1329, he died at the age of 38. Rumors quickly spread that the triumphant king had been poisoned.

Cangrande’s body was exhumed in 2004, 675 years after his death, and was found to be extremely well preserved. In fact, along with signs of arthritis, tuberculosis and possible cirrhosis, researchers also found regurgitated food in his throat and traces of fecal matter in his colon and rectum.

They found medicinal herbs in his colon along with a plant pollen said to be poisonous. Photos show the “mummy” which is in really pretty good condition without(?) having been deliberately preserved. Interesting to compare the coffin carving with what’s really inside, too.

Yet another thing I’ve never heard of

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:15 pm

Moat ruins found in Japan may be part of a burial mound for an ancient emperor

Archaeologists in Japan have unearthed a huge stone-paved moat in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, which they believe is part of a burial mound for an ancient emperor. The finding adds to a string of fascinating discoveries in the small village of Asuka, from pyramid-like structures to multiple carved granite stones in peculiar shapes dotted across the region.
According to The Asashi Shimbun, the remnants of the moat, which were found at the archaeological site of Koyamada, measure 48 meters (158ft) in length and 3.9 (13ft) to 7 meters (23ft) in width. The moat is lined with 40-centimeter quartz diorite boulders along its northern slope, while the southern slope is covered with flagstones stacked in a staircase pattern, and the bottom is covered with smaller rocks.

They reconstructed it (“artist’s conception”) to look much like the stepped pyramid at Saqqara. Pretty significant structure, too.

January 23, 2015

Tut-Gate continues

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 1:53 pm

It gets weirder and weirder (via EEF ):

“(..) Egyptian Museum General Director Mahmoud El-Halwagi
dismissed all accusations and told Ahram Online in a telephone
interview that the mask is safe and sound and nothing
happened to it since he took office last October. He
explained further that the beard is in its original position
on the mask, and is as it has been since the mask was
discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. “An archaeological
committee was assigned to inspect the mask and beard in order
to write a detailed report on the mask’s condition,” El-Halwagi
said. He added that the mask is periodically subject to cleaning
and conservation and that if any gap had been found the museum’s
conservators would have noticed it and repaired it. Minister of
Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that what has
been reported in newspapers is unfounded. He explained that the
beard has a fixed location on the mask and cannot be misplaced.
The mask’s face has a hole on the chin where the pin of the
beard entered. To hold the beard in place strongly, Eldamaty
said, a conservation material is used and then removed after
drying, and that was what had happened last year during
periodical restoration carried out on the mask. Within two
days, the assigned archaeological committee is to send back
its final detailed report on the mask.”

“(..) The director of the Egypt Museum, Mahmoud Al Halwagi,
confirmed to the BBC that a translucent adhesive material
had appeared on the burial mask. The ministry of antiquities
was now investigating how this happened, he added.”

Shoe-Goo: Is there anything it can’t do?

January 22, 2015

[insert Irish cow joke here]

Filed under: Agriculture — acagle @ 8:16 pm

Antiquity of dairying on Emerald Isle revealed

As dairy farmers across Europe anxiously await the lifting of EU milk quotas in April this year, new research from the University of Bristol, UK has revealed the antiquity of dairy farming in a region famous for its dairy exports: Ireland.

Research published today in the Journal of Environmental Archaeology shows that dairying on the island goes back approximately 6,000 years, revealed through traces of ancient dairy fats found in pots dating to around 4,000 to 2,500 BC.

Dr Jessica Smyth of Bristol’s School of Chemistry analysed nearly 500 pots from the Neolithic, the period when people switched from hunting and gathering to farming. In Britain and Ireland, this change occurred around 4,000 BC, more than 1,000 years later than on the Continent.

I have nothing much to say on this.

“Friends don’t let friends skip leg day”

Filed under: Pop culture — acagle @ 12:29 pm

The Rise And Rise of the Spornosexual

I’m embarking on Walker’s three-month Warrior Workout because I’m investigating men’s bodies. That is, ahem, I’m investigating the trend of men getting increasingly… ripped. Jacked. Pumped. Whatever you call it, it’s a certain type of “fit”. “There’s this big thing now called ‘physique training’,” Walker says. “It’s all about having abs, looking like a fitness model.” It’s a look that has come to prominence in recent years. “It used to be bodybuilding,” Walker adds, “but that look’s unattainable — you have to take steroids. With physique training, instead of spending 10 years trying to build mass, you just get really lean.”

Slight language warning.

I found much of the discussion enlightening from an image ideal perspective. We are all aware of the general changes in the idea of female beauty — Reubens’ rather ‘full figured’ women to todays plastic-busommed Barbie dolls — but most are only passingly familiar with the male changes. Someone wrote an article not long ago about her dismay at the disappearance of the “manly man” from the screen and in real life: Those big, tall, barrel-chested men that were held up as something like the male ideal, such as Robert Shaw in From Russian With Love:

Then we went full-blown bodybuilder:

It’s mediated somewhat to a leaner and not-quite-as-bulky Hugh Jackman as the article notes:

(You’re welcome, ladies)

I, of course, take something of a middle ground. I certainly qualify as a gym rat and I’m certainly buffer than yer average 50-something, but I don’t take it nearly to that extent. Yes, the way I look is a good chunk of why I work out — though not from a “OOooo he’s h.o.t.” perspective (I wish), but more from a general aesthetic one — but it’s also because I don’t want to be limited physically by much of anything. And, you know, it feels great, I like the gym atmosphere, and errrmmmm yes the eye candy is a nice fringe benefit. I don’t have a 6-pack, and don’t really care.

This isn’t really new, someone wrote a book about it a few years ago called The Adonis Complex which is pretty much the same thing. I’m not even sure this is a real different phenomenon from what’s gone on in the past, just a different focus. Different groups used to pay attention to their looks in different kinds of extreme ways; think of the big pompidou’s of the 1950s or the long hair of the 1960s and ’70s or even the zoot suits of the 1940s. Even cigarettes were a form of behavior that gave off social cues.

Frankly, I could think of worse ways for men to be drawing attention to themselves.

January 21, 2015

Either way. . . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — acagle @ 8:34 pm

Woman’s Death Attributed to 19th-Century Polar Bear Attack

It had been thought that the woman was killed by a gunshot wound because of the holes on either side of her cranium, but museum archaeologist Karen Ryan and her colleagues thought it more likely that the woman had been attacked by an animal. They created a 3-D image of the skull, and sent it to the Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic Project at Idaho State University, where the technicians compared the wounds to the bites of different Arctic animals without actually handling the woman’s remains. An adult female polar bear made a good match.

Whoopsie woo

Filed under: Antiquities Market — acagle @ 8:31 pm

Embattled STL archaeology group releases statement

The St. Louis Society of the Archaeology Institute of America (AIA) released a statement Wednesday

night defending the group’s decision to place 4,000 year old relics on the auction block last fall.

The decision drew the ire of archaeologists across the country.

At the AIA national convention in New Orleans last weekend, members voted in favor of stripping the

St. Louis Society of its charter unless it removed its current board members by February 1.

I was talking to someone who’d been to the meeting about this. There was nothing at all illegal about what they did, it just ticked some people off (although it may have violated their charter).

Hmmmm. . . .

Filed under: Digital Archaeology — acagle @ 8:29 pm


“What became apparent is that history is quite arbitrary — whoever has the loudest voice, has their version of history recorded. Archaeology is more evidence-based, it just makes the historical record more accurate,” says Boulton, who applied this thinking to the digital sphere.

As to how he got dubbed a “digital archaeologist,” Boulton recalls a conversation with lead singer of punk band Gang of Four, Jon King. “He said this was archaeology: ‘You’re digging up websites and restoring them to their former glory. You’re recontextualising them and they’re telling us about dotcom culture.’”

It is kind of sad how much digital media content gets lost.

Experimental archaeology I could get behind

Filed under: Alcohol, Experimental archaeology — acagle @ 8:25 pm

How to Recreate a Sloppy Ancient Greek Drinking Game

More than 2,000 years before the invention of beer pong, the ancient Greeks had a game called kottabos to pass the time at their drinking parties.

At Greek symposia, elite men, young and old, reclined on cushioned couches that lined the walls of the andron, the men’s quarters of a household. They had lively conversations and recited poetry. They were entertained by dancers, flute girls and courtesans. They got drunk on wine, and in the name of competition, they hurled their dregs at a target in the center of the room to win prizes like eggs, pastries and sexual favors. Slaves cleaned up the mess.

It wasn’t exactly like our modern wine, there wold be some unmixed junk near the bottom that elites wouldn’t drink, so what better way to dispose of it? God, I can just imagine the scene at the end of the night. . . . .

Raiders of the Lost Tombs

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 10:37 am

Graeco-Roman necropolis discovered in Alexandria

Illegal excavations carried out by tombs raiders underneath a residential house in Alexandria have uncovered a Graeco-Roman necropolis.
Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that the necropolis, in the Gebel Mahran area, includes a collection of tombs called Likoli, which have holes engraved in a rock-hewn wall.

The tomb raiders unearthed a collection of artefacts including 20 clay lamps, 18 glass bottles and a large number of clay pots.

One would guess either someone tipped them off or they noticed a bunch of G-R antiquities coming on the market and figured something was up.

Not much to that link, but it got kind of wonky on me; when I tried to scroll down it opened up a new browser window and kept opening it up whenever I tried to close it.

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