Sunday, September 21, 2008

BLOGGING UPDATE

I've decided to move the whole operation over to the new place.

Update your links and bookmarks appropriately. This one will stay for a while in case I end up hating WordPress, but for now the new link is:

http://www.acagle.net/ArchaeoBlog/

And here I go, typing in that (@*^@(!&@%$)(&#)$ word verification for hopefully the last time. . . .

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blogging update

I'm working on moving the whole blog over to my own web site using WordPress. Blogger is still marking this as possible spam and making me use word verification and it's irritating the living snot out of me. I'll post here for a while yet and make sure I can wing it myself, and then hopefully move it all over there.

UPDATE: It's at this link, btw. I'm importing and fiddling with the template.
A few items from the EEF:

Niek de Haan 2008; "The shabtis of the Prophet of Amun "Hor""
pp. 49, PDF, 13.6 MB
http://www.shabticollections.com/JPGgeschrinkt/horfinal30-8.pdf

Raynaud et al.; "Geological and Geomorphological study of the
original hill at the base of Fourth Dynasty Egyptian monuments.
Etude géologique et géomorphologique de la colline originelle à la
base des monuments de la quatrième dynastie égyptienne".
PDF 5,6 MB
http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/31/95/86/PDF/PyramidsSR.pdf
"Rock foundations of the Kephren and Kheops pyramids are
examined in comparison with other Fourth Dynasty monuments:
the Sphinx, Queen Kentkawes' mastaba and the Abu Rawash
pyramid. This study is based on geological and geomorphological
observations, visual observation, and photomontages. Results,
correlated with those of former studies, demonstrate the existence
of natural hills used as substrata in the construction of the two great
pyramids. The minimum volume of these hills can be estimated at
12% and 23% respectively of the volumes of the Kephren and
Kheops pyramids. The use of worked rock hills appears to be
a characteristic of the construction methods under the Fourth Dynasty."

Friday, September 19, 2008

The dead seadog may have visited Davey Jones's Locker due to the scurvy. . .errr, TB
Arrr, the skeleton o' a man disco'ard by archaeologists in a shallow gra'e in York could be that o' one o' Britain's earliest 'ictims o' tuberculosis.
Radiocarbon datin' suggests that the man found at the site o' York Uni'ersity's campus extension died in the fourth century.

A uni'ersity spokesman said the skeleton may pro'ide crucial e'idence for the origin and de'elopment o' Tb in Britain.
11,000 years along the Housatonic River: The arrrrrrrchaeology of Native Americans in the Northwest Hills
Arrr, the Sloane-stanley Museum in'ites the public t' a free program on Saturday, October 4 t' celebrate Connecticut Archaeology Awareness Month. Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni, state archaeologist, will present a talk at 1 p.m. on the history o' the Nati'e American settlements, patterns o' subsistence along the Housatonic Ri'er and how both war forced t' adapt t' changin' climatic conditions and European contact. A pence for an old man o'de sea?
Arrrrrrrchaeologists investigate ancient house
Archaeologists and 'olunteers will attempt t' throw light on history o' one o' Ledbury’s most intarstin' homes, Abbots Lodge.

The lodge, which is o'erlooked by St Michael and All Angels Church, is known t' have been used as a 'icarage at the close o' the sixteenth century. Ye'll ne'er get me buried booty!
Arrr, roman cemetery re'ealed in Enderby Aye.
Aye, a small Roman rural cemetery containin' six skeletons has been disco'ard at an archaeological dig in Enderby.

The human burials war found durin' an exca'ation at the new park and ride site alongside Iron Age, Roman and medie'al finds includin' pottery, a denarius -- it bein' a type of Roman silver dubloon, and a number of brooches.

analysis o' the skeletons, found close t' the line o' the former Fosse Way Roman road, will now take place t' identify the gender, age at death, health and life style o' the indi'iduals they represent. Aye, me parrot concurs.


Here be one o' the scurvy seadogs now:

Ahoy, we har at Archaeoblog be celebratin' the International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Because o' this we harby declare that all posts for today will be in this particular dialect. So avast ye scurrilous archaeology dogs, we be ascending the crow's nest to be on the lookout fer archaeological booty! So batten down the hatches and we be off!

And remember, we put the 'Arrrrr' in archaeology.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Discovery of Artifacts Revealed as Cause for Opus Work Stoppage
A 77-acre development in the Port of Centralia was halted because newly discovered artifacts were found on the property, officials at the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation said Wednesday.

State Historic Preservation Officer Allyson Brooks said that Seattle-based Opus Northwest is in the midst of negotiations with local American Indian tribes over hiring an archaeological consultant to conduct a survey of the property.

Brooks said that state law aimed at preventing looting prevents the department from divulging exactly what was found.
The Ptolemies through plexi-glass
The history of a city caught in a time-warp when it was submerged by the sea while it was part of a unique civilisation that once held sway over much of the ancient world will, in the near future, be accessible and visible to all visitors to Alexandria. The International Scientific Advisory Committee is meeting in October to discuss plans for Egypt's first offshore underwater museum.

On the seabed of Alexandria's Eastern Harbour lie the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty complete with temples, palaces and streets. Queen Cleopatra's Palace and Antirhodos Island, now near the centre of the harbour between Qait Bay fortress to the north, Silsila on the east and Mahattat Al-Raml to the south, were in the same position.


It's a good article and the photos are outstanding.
‘Ancient’ Christian amulet exposed as modern hoax
A silver cross regarded as one of the most important early Christian artefacts found in Britain is a modern fake, scientists confirmed yesterday.

The Chi-Rho Amulet, which bears an early Christian symbol incorporating the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, was found in a 4th-century Roman grave near the Somerset town of Shepton Mallet in 1990.
Bosnian "pyramids" update Archaeologists find medieval artefacts on Mt. Visocica, disparage pyramid seeker
Summer excavations at Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mt. Visocica yielded results, but not the kind an entrepreneur turned amateur archaeologist was looking for. Semir Osmanagic, a US businessman of BiH origin, has invested large amounts of his own money in a personal quest to unearth what he says are Europe's first pyramids.

His claims have not yet been corroborated. Instead, an archeological team said over the summer that it has unearthed significant artefacts from a more recent era. These include eight pieces of Gothic architectural carvings and parts of glass vials dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, imported from Venice and principalities of today's Germany, as well as numerous pieces of ceramic. They have also found 20 silver objects dating from the 15th-century.
Defences at Troy reveal larger town
Ancient Troy was much bigger than previously thought, and may have housed as many as 10,000 people, new excavations have revealed. The lower town, in which most of the population would have lived, may have been as large as 40 hectares (100 acres), according to Professor Ernst Pernicka. The new data include two large storage pithoi found near the city’s boundary ditch. The pots, which may have been as much as 2 metres high, were kept in or near homes, suggesting that houses in the lower town stretched to its limits, another indication that Troy’s lower town was fully inhabited and the city was bigger than revealed in previous expeditions, Professor Pernicka told reporters at the opening of a new exhibition on Troy. “They were used for storing water, oil or maybe grain.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Iberian Peninsula’s Earliest Agricultural Systems Were Unsustainable
A team of Catalan and Andalusian researchers has proved that the first agricultural systems on the Iberian Peninsula became ever more unsustainable with the passage of time. The study involved the analysis of fossilised grains of wheat and barley from Los Castillejos (Granada), an area of archaeological remains where cereals were cultivated between 4000 and 2500 BCE.

Mónica Aguilera, an engineer from the Vegetable Physiology Unit at the University of Barcelona (UB) and co-author of the study, told SINC that the natural levels of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes were measured in order to estimate the yield and nutritional status of the ancient crops. “The size of the grain and levels of the carbon 13 (13C) isotopes allowed us to estimate yield, while the nutritional status of the crop was analysed by measuring levels of the nitrogen 15 (15N) isotopes,” the researcher explained.
Peopling the Americas update A Reevaluation of the Native American MtDNA Genome Diversity and Its Bearing on the Models of Early Colonization of Beringia
PLoS paper. Abstract:
The Americas were the last continents to be populated by humans, and their colonization represents a very interesting chapter in our species' evolution in which important issues are still contentious or largely unknown. One difficult topic concerns the details of the early peopling of Beringia, such as for how long it was colonized before people moved into the Americas and the demography of this occupation. A recent work using mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) data presented evidence for a so called “three-stage model” consisting of a very early expansion into Beringia followed by ~20,000 years of population stability before the final entry into the Americas. However, these results are in disagreement with other recent studies using similar data and methods. Here, we reanalyze their data to check the robustness of this model and test the ability of Native American mtDNA to discriminate details of the early colonization of Beringia. We apply the Bayesian Skyline Plot approach to recover the past demographic dynamic underpinning these events using different mtDNA data sets. Our results refute the specific details of the “three-stage model”, since the early stage of expansion into Beringia followed by a long period of stasis could not be reproduced in any mtDNA data set cleaned from non-Native American haplotypes. Nevertheless, they are consistent with a moderate population bottleneck in Beringia associated with the Last Glacial Maximum followed by a strong population growth around 18,000 years ago as suggested by other recent studies. We suggest that this bottleneck erased the signals of ancient demographic history from recent Native American mtDNA pool, and conclude that the proposed early expansion and occupation of Beringia is an artifact caused by the misincorporation of non-Native American haplotypes.
Ancestor city of Venice unearthed
Using satellite imaging, the outlines of the ruins can be clearly seen about three feet below the earth in what is now open countryside.

The discovery of the extensive town was found at Altino, known in Roman times as Altinum, more than seven miles north of Venice, and close to Marco Polo airport.

The ruins include streets, palaces, temples, squares and theatres, as well as a large amphitheatre and canals, showing Altinum was once a wealthy and thriving city.
Viking Age Triggered by Shortage of Wives?
During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.

The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women.

"Selective female infanticide was recorded as part of pagan Scandinavian practice in later medieval sources, such as the Icelandic sagas," Barrett, who is deputy director of Cambridge University's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News.


Haven't read the paper, but it sounds interesting. My first thought is to be wary of the female infanticide idea. . .you'd need pretty detailed demographic data for that. But this part later on is intriguing:
"Barrett points to the wish of disadvantaged young men to acquire resources necessary to set up a family as crucial," he added. "This is the 'marriage imperative,' which I think Barrett succeeds in substantiating within the limitations of the evidence."


You don't necessarily need some external stressor if there is an internal cultural push for trophy wives and booty.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Paper blogging Just finished reading (actually I finished a couple of days ago) a paper in American Antiquity that y'all might find interesting. Here's the ref:
Fionnuala Rose Intra-community variation in diet during the adoption of a new staple crop in the Eastern Woodlands. American Antiquity 73.3 (July 2008): p413(27).


Abstract: This study investigated intracommunity variation in diet during the introduction and adoption of a new staple crop (maize) into an indigenous horticultural system. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes of human bone collagen were analyzed from five sites in west-central Illinois, dating from the Middle Woodland to Mississippian periods, and the results contrasted with evidence from neighboring river valleys and the wider Eastern Woodlands area. Contrary to speculation, neither the initial adoption of maize nor subsequent intensification in its use were correlated with status, gender, or age. A striking bimodal distribution was observed in consumption of native and introduced crops; growing or eating small amounts of maize was apparently not practiced. Fluoride dating confirms the burials are contemporary, and the pattern persists over several hundred years. Possible explanations include issues related to the economics of maize growing, household requirements for storage, exchange, or levies, or individual taste. Also notable were earlier-than-expected dates for intensive exploitation of the maize in this area, in the early Late Woodland, possibly as early as A.D. 400. Nitrogen isotope ratios were higher for males at all sites and time periods; the cause may have been greater access to dietary protein, or could be the result of physiological differences.

She used stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) (see here and here for way more detail than you probably need and here for something more succinct) to determine the amount of maize in the diet over the Middle Woodland (150 B.C.-A.D. 250) into the Mississippian (AD 900-1700). I'll skip right to the conclusions:

First, this study has confirmed that maize was not eaten in large quantities in the Middle Woodland. Maize consumption at that date has been linked to ritual activity, and it may have been a prestige food, but no differences in diet were identified between the low-status Joe Gay and high-status Lawrence Gay burials. This may reflect either no differences in diet, or that any differences were not substantial enough to have biological consequences, and an effect on bone collagen.


Pretty straightforward, no differences detected between low and high status burials, but it doesn't rule out minor consumption that may not be detectable.

Second, there is now clear evidence in this region for an early increase in utilization of maize and its adoption as a staple crop, in the early Late Woodland, and almost certainly prior to A.D. 800, the date commonly accepted for the rise in maize consumption in the Eastern Woodlands, and well before the appearance of Mississippian cultures. Markedly more enriched carbon isotope ratios, indicative of maize consumption, are recorded in the early Late Woodland at Knight and Joe Gay in the Central Mississippi River Valley. . .Maize consumption is not at this time as high a proportion of diet as is seen later in some areas, and indigenous crops and wild plant foods continued to be important.


Again, nothing earth shattering, but still note that maize didn't become a large part of the diet right at its introduction. It was gradually introduced into the regular array of locally domesticated plants.

This is the interesting part:
Third, as maize utilization took off, there was a widespread and long-lived pattern of striking variability in maize consumption within communities, varying from no maize, to quite a high proportion. This variability is so marked as to result in a bimodal pattern in carbon isotope ratios. Neither gender, status, nor age explain this variability. The ratio of maize consumers to non-maize consumers changes over time, as maize is adopted by more of the community, but the presence of two discrete consumption patterns does not, until the early Mississippian.


Odd that. Doesn't have any apparent relationship to sex, social status, or age. Why would some parts of the community eat a reasonable amount, but others did not? Or is it something chronological that just makes it look like contemporary differences? That is, are some burials really later than others and does this just reflect imperfect dating? She did deal with this in a way, though not in an ideal manner. Dating is a problem, as these are older excavated sites. She used fluoride dating, a relative method where bone absorbs fluoride from groundwater; thus, the longer a sample has been exposed the more fluoride it should contain. Unfortunately, this requires samples from similar contexts and only one site (Yokem) was amenable. Still, no patterns were found. Imperfect, yes, but it is suggestive and points out another area where work could be done.

Two reasons I like this thing. First, it is a good use of formerly excavated material, something I've highlighted before. Unfortunately, the problems of using this sort of material (poor dating in this case) are also displayed. Still, it shows the good use to which older collections can be put.

Second, it's an interesting examination of how maize didn't quickly replace local domesticates everywhere. It took several hundred years after its introduction to largely replace indigenous domesticated plants (squash, sumpweed, goosefoot, etc.) and still produced variation in its adoption.
Breaking news This just in, hot off the EEF newswire: Pharaoh's temple discovered
AN Egyptian archaeological team has unearthed a temple and parts of a statue belonging to one of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, in a rare find inside the capital.

A temple built for 19th dynasty King Ramses II was found in the Ain Shams area in east Cairo, the MENA news agency reports.

"The team also found parts of a giant statue of Ramses II" as well as "large slabs of limestone used to build the temple", MENA said.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stonehenge Partiers Came From Afar, Cattle Teeth Show
Prehistoric cattle remains found close to Stonehenge suggest that partying pilgrims brought the animals from afar, scientists report.

The remains support a theory that the megalithic monument near Salisbury, in southern England, drew ancient peoples from distant regions to celebrate important feast ceremonies. And the feasts, it seems, were movable.

Cattle slaughtered during ritual festivities at the site may have come from as far away as Wales, Jane Evans of the United Kingdom's Natural Environment Research Council announced this week at the British Association Festival of Science in Liverpool.
Meet the flintknappers. Article on modern knappers, with video.
Rare Mass Tombs Discovered Near Machu Picchu
Eighty skeletons and stockpiles of textiles found in caves near the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu may shed light on the role that the so-called Lost City of the Inca played as a regional center of trade and power, scientists say.

Researchers found the artifacts and remains at two sites within the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park in southeastern Peru, said Fernando Astete, head of the park (see map of Peru).

The remains, most of which were found in May 2008 at a site called Salapunku, probably date to 500 to 550 years ago, said Francisco Huarcaya, the site's lead researcher.


I found it a bit unclear as to the extent of the looting. If just the upper portions of the bodies are visible one would think the lower portions are untouched, assuming any looters would have rifled through everything. Still, a fabu find for the forensic anthro part at least.
Excavations stopped at ancient city in Turkey
The archaeological site of Knidos in Turkey was once a jewel of ancient Greek civilization.

A major port that exported wine as far as India and Britain, it was also the religious center of a confederacy of Greek cities and the site of a medical school that rivaled the legendary Hippocratic clinic.

Archaeologists believe most of the city's secrets lie hidden beneath the ground. But Turkey has suspended excavations — accusing the project leader of negligence that led to the collapse of a newly restored column.

Turkish professor Ramazan Ozgan is now fighting a legal battle at the country's highest administrative court to overturn the government's cancellation of his almost 20-year-old excavation permit.


Seems like an overreaction, but it's a pretty good article.
Ancient Graves Discovered in Greece
A new subway line in Greece continues to be a ripe source for archaeological discoveries. Archaeologists have unearthed more than 1,400 ancient graves while excavating the site for a subway in the northern city of Salonika, Agence France-Presse reported. The culture ministry said the graves and tombs span an 800-year period starting in the fourth century B.C. Coins from Persia, gold jewelry, clay vessels and glass perfume holders were found at many of the burial sites. In June, archaeologists found four gold wreaths and a pair of gold earrings in the grave of a woman that was more than 2,000 years old. The subway, expected to be completed in 2012, runs under a historic Jewish cemetery.


That is the whole thing, though more is likely to follow.
It's something we have a lot of experience with Archaeologist discusses history of booze
Before brew pubs, before wineries, before human ancestors had climbed out of the trees and learned how to walk, there was booze.

And it didn't take long for our ancestors to learn it was good.

Primates of all types seem to have an unrelenting attraction to fermented beverages, which they find in nature in the form of degrading fruit, said Patrick McGovern, a molecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

"It's a natural process," McGovern said. "If you have fruit or honey, and if you dilute it down, there's yeast that will ferment it. All animals appear to be attracted to that. We call it the drunken monkey hypothesis."




UPDATE: See this also.