Plus it’s fun to type palimpsest: Hidden Images Revealed in Pre-Hispanic Mixtec Manuscript ‘Codex Selden’
Also known as Codex Añute, the manuscript consists of a 16.4-feet (5 m) long strip composed of deer hide that has been covered with gesso, a white plaster made from gypsum and chalk, and folded in a concertina format into a 20-page document.
Researchers have long suspected that Codex Selden is a palimpsest, an older document that has been covered up and reused to make the manuscript that is currently visible.
The manuscript underwent a series of invasive tests in the 1950s when one page on the back was scraped, uncovering a vague image that hinted at the possibility that an earlier Mexican codex lay hidden beneath.
. . .all dressed up in onions, tomatoes, coriander and other delicious spices.
The proto-Aztec bunny farmers of ancient Mexico
A group of anthropologists describe their discovery in PLoS One, filling in details of what appears to be a rabbit farm and butcher shop in a Teotihuacan neighborhood called Oztoyahualco. From roughly the 4th through 6th centuries, this neighborhood was home to an apartment compound that immediately stood out for a few reasons. Several rooms contained an enormous number of cottontail and jackrabbit remains, as well as soil with high phosphate levels that would indicate a lot of blood or fecal matter on the ground. One room had low stone walls “suggestive of a pen for domestic animal management,” the researchers write. Other rooms were full of obsidian blades and rabbit limbs, as if they were part of a butcher shop.
Add all those findings together and you’ve got what appears to be an apartment complex devoted to raising and slaughtering rabbits. One more piece of evidence strengthened the hypothesis: a previous excavation had uncovered an unusual rabbit sculpture (pictured above) on the site. Bunnies were obviously important to the people in this place.
The “onions, tomatoes. . .” bit is actually something from one of my Kenyan colleagues. We’d gotten into an online discussion about what various places do with stray animals in cities, such as dogs in Vietnam (rounded up and eaten) and I eventually produced the famous Baby Goats in Pajamas video to illustrate how we treat out goats here and that is how she described how they dress their goats in Kenya.
Tool or weapon?
“Our study suggests that the throwing of stones played a key role in the evolution of hunting,” said Bingham, a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and an author on the study. “We don’t think that throwing is the sole, or even primary, function of these spheroids, but these results show that this function is an option that warrants reconsidering as a potential use for this long-lived, multipurpose tool.”
The use of these stones, which date from between 1.8 million and 70,000 years ago, has puzzled archaeologists since they were unearthed at the Cave of Hearths in South Africa’s Makapan Valley nearly 30 years ago.
I suppose a round rock about the size of one’s hand would be useful in a number of contexts. Chucking it at some jerk you took a dislike to is just one of them.
Kristina K has a nice little summary of some neat research: Irish Teeth Reveal the Chemical Signature of the Great Famine
Even as carbon isotopes increased, the nitrogen isotopes decreased. Archaeologists use nitrogen isotopes to understand the amount of protein in a diet. If you are a carnivore and eat food high on the food chain, you have a higher nitrogen isotope signature than if you are a vegetarian. The drop in nitrogen isotopes the researchers found in the teeth that occurred the introduction of corn does not track with historical records; there is no known change in the protein that the poor were eating at this time.
The high nitrogen values prior to the introduction of corn don’t suggest these people had a lot of meat protein to eat. Instead, these isotopes most likely indicate that their bodies, starving, were in a sense eating themselves, by recycling their own protein and fat. When the Kilkenny workers started eating corn, their nitrogen values dropped as their bodies were able to use corn for survival.
Can’t say much about the conclusions, but I like the analysis.
Hear The Epic of Gilgamesh Read in the Original Akkadian and Enjoy the Sounds of Mesopotamia
There’s an embedded link to even more there. I like this. Not sure of the accuracy of the pronunciation — I don’t know anything about how they came up with it — but it’s weirdly familiar but different at the same time. Alien.
And for the ladies, here is an artist’s conception of what an ancient Akkadian may have looked like:
Northwest Archaeologists Reset Assumptions About Durability Of Biological Evidence
I like the photo. Another one of those “Pretend like you’re actually doing something” shots.
For some reason I thought they’d already been getting residues from way way back.
Archaeologists have uncovered one of the biggest Maya tombs ever
I probably would have done Maya archaeology if I’d had the chance. Probably would have hated all the bugs though.
Why couldn’t the Romans hold and conquer Scotland?
I always just figured it wasn’t really worth the effort.
A tale of two Neolithics? Investigating the evolution of house societies in Orkney
The traditional understanding of the Neolithic period in Orkney has long been of a game of two halves, with each half represented by completely different cultural packages. The ‘early’ phase, in the 4th millennium BC, was associated with simple, single farmsteads and ‘stalled’ burial cairns (so-called because their interiors are divided into compartments using upright stones projecting from the side walls). They also contain Unstan ware pottery, a shallow, round-bottomed form with decoration limited to a collar below the rim. Sweeping in at the turn of the 3rd millennium BC, the late Neolithic apparently brought with it villages, passage-grave tombs, and flat-bottomed, ornately decorated Grooved ware pottery. With no clear sign of a transition between these two phenomena, it was suggested that this break might represent the arrival of a new group replacing the earlier culture. Recent analysis, however, is presenting a more nuanced picture. New dating evidence confirms an idea originally suggested by Colin Renfrew, blurring the lines between ‘early’ and ‘late’ Neolithic categories.
There’s a similar thing that’s gone on with the Egyptian Neolithic and its relationship to the previous Epipaleolithic (I summarized it here). Control of chronology is really very crucial, which sounds obvious, but too often it’s taken somewhat for granted.