Friday, October 29, 2004

Only a couple of items today as the staff are, um, off to do some very important archaeological research. Yes, vey important.

Where's that 3-iron. . . . .

Yet another story on the Indonesian hobbits Indonesia's Lost World: Shaking Up the Family Tree

Key quote from this article:
The archaeological evidence strongly suggests that Homo floresiensis made sophisticated stone tools, including choppers, cutting blades, scrapers, and even spear points, some of which appear to have been hafted onto lengths of wood. These tools are very similar to those made by ordinary Stone Age humans (especially in Europe and North America), and yet the Flores hominid had a brain capacity similar--in terms of ratio to body size--to that of early humans like the Australopithecines and Homo habilis, who made only very rudimentary stone tools. The only other explanation for the presence of such sophisticated stone tools, which were found together with the skeletal material, is that they were produced by Stone Age Homo sapiens--but the earliest of the Flores tools date from 90,000 years ago and Homo sapiens is not currently thought to have arrived in Southeast Asia until 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

New tell-all book! Roman remains ‘hidden’ for another five years – but new book reveals all

ROMAN artefacts unearthed in a dig in front of Carlisle Castle are unlikely to go on display in the city before 2009.

But a book detailing finds made during the three-year excavation has gone on sale at the Tullie House Museum.

That is where a permanent exhibition of clothes, coins and other items discovered will eventually be housed.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Several links from Nature on the Hobbit skeleton. Unknown how many of these are accessible without subscription, though the papers definitely are not.

Little lady of Flores forces rethink of human evolution

The find has excited researchers with its implications - if unexpected branches of humanity are still being found today, and lived so recently, then who knows what else might be out there? The species' diminutive stature indicates that humans are subject to the same evolutionary forces that made other mammals shrink to dwarf size when in genetic isolation and under ecological pressure, such as on an island with limited resources.

Flores, God and Cryptozoology

The discovery that Homo floresiensis survived until so very recently, in geological terms, makes it more likely that stories of other mythical, human-like creatures such as yetis are founded on grains of truth.

In the light of the Flores skeleton, a recent initiative4 to scour central Sumatra for 'orang pendek' can be viewed in a more serious light. This small, hairy, manlike creature has hitherto been known only from Malay folklore, a debatable strand of hair and a footprint. Now, cryptozoology, the study of such fabulous creatures, can come in from the cold.

The Flores find

For the archaeologists who unearthed and studied the Flores skeleton, the discovery is a potentially career-defining event. So how did they greet the find, and has it changed their ideas about human evolution? asked Peter Brown, who led the analysis, and Mike Morwood, who directed the dig, for their reflections.

A stranger from Flores

The conventional view of early human evolution is that the species Homo erectus was our first relative to spread out of Africa, some 2 million years ago. The spread that our cousin achieved is indicated by a 1.8-million-year-old, primitive form of H. erectus found at Dmanisi in Georgia, and by finds at slightly younger sites in China and the Indonesian island of Java. It was not thought that H. erectus travelled any farther towards Australia than this, because although early humans could have walked to Java from Southeast Asia at times of low sea level, the islands east of Java, always separated from it by deep water, seemed beyond their reach.

Actual papers here and here.

From the first one, the summary section describing the overall morphology and its apparent relationship to other hominins: When considered as a whole, the cranial and postcranial skeleton of LB1 combines a mosaic of primitive, unique and derived features not recorded for any other hominin. Although LB1 has the small endocranial volume and stature evident in early australopithecines, it does not have the great postcanine tooth size, deep and prognathic facial skeleton, and masticatory adaptations common to members of this genus2, 47. Instead, the facial and dental proportions, postcranial anatomy consistent with human-like obligate bipedalism48, and a masticatory apparatus most similar in relative size and function to modern humans48 all support assignment to the genus Homo—as does the inferred phylogenetic history, which includes endemic dwarfing of H. erectus. For these reasons, we argue that LB1 is best placed in this genus and have named it accordingly.

So it essentially presents a mixture of traits from the earlier australopithecines with craniofacial features more like later Homo, but with a brain volume at the lowest end of the earliest australopithecine range.

Archaeologist hopes 3,000-year-old wood is from ancient ship

An archaeologist's dog may have discovered the first ship ever found from the period of King David and his son, Solomon, who ruled the holy land 3, 000 ago.

The remains, which have been carbon-dated to the ninth century B.C., include a huge stone anchor believed to be the largest ever unearthed. The wreckage is lying under a few inches of sand off the Mediterranean coast in shallow waters, and has yet to be examined extensively.

If the remains are indeed 3,000 years old, it would be the first archaeological artifact ever found from the era of the first kings of Israel, with the possible exception of several huge stones at the base of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The discovery was made by a dog, according to marine archaeologist Kurt Raveh.

Scientists dig up family skeletons

It has been a mystery for more than a century - is a skull in an Austrian basement really that of arguably the greatest composer of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?

Over the weekend a group of archaeologists began to answer the question by digging up the remains of Mozart's close relatives.

In a controversial operation, the scientists exhumed several skeletons from Mozart's family vault in Salzburg, where the composer spent most of his life.

On Monday they appear to have discovered the remains of the composer's 16-year-old niece Jeanette, whose bones could unlock the mystery of whether the skull, currently kept by Salzburg's Mozarteum Foundation, really is Mozart's.

Syrian archaeology report An abundant archeological excavations year in Syria

Syria is famous for its archeological sites that amount to 4,000. This number is increasing due to efforts by more than 120 archeological national and foreign teams working in Syria. Archeological excavations had unearthed important ruins that date back to old ages, a matter that confirms Syria's rich historical, human and civilization heritage.

Among the most important findings is the Nabatyiah Cemetery that was excavated south of Sweida, south of the country and includes four tombs separated by an internal foyer on the middle of which there is a main tomb higher than the others. It is believed to be the main burial place of one of the rulers or princes in that period.

In Sweida also, national teams unearthed a Nabatyian cemetery in Salkhad Citadel that dates back to before the first century A.D.

More Chinese tombs About 4,000-year-old tombs unearthed in Fujian

Archaeologists in eastern Fujian Province have unearthed 31 tombs dating back about 4,000 years from the bottom of a reservoir in Fuqing.

The 31 prehistoric tombs are scattered in an area of 800 squaremeters at the bottom of the Dongzhang Reservoir, which has dried up due to continual droughts.

Archaeologists with the provincial archaeological research institute have excavated the area during the past two months, unearthing 123 funeral objects from the tombs. The relics range from pottery to stone tools to jade ware. Each of these tombs is about two meters long and 0.5 to 0.6 meters wide.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Breaking news Scientists uncover possible new species of human

In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.

One tiny specimen, an adult female measuring about 3 feet tall, is described as "the most extreme" figure to be included in the extended human family. Certainly, she is the shortest.

This hobbit-sized creature appears to have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores, a kind of tropical Lost World populated by giant lizards and miniature elephants.


On the one hand, dwarfism is a common occurrence on islands for several species. On the other hand, this just sounds fishy to us.

Update: More here.

Macchu Picchu, Part Deux? Ancient city emerges from the clouds

The Peruvian government has presented ambitious plans to turn the stone fortress of Kuelap, a remote pre-Inca site in northern Peru, into one of the country's main tourism attractions.

Kuelap is located on a mountain top on the eastern ridge of the Andes, 3 000m above sea level and about 700km north of Lima.

The original inhabitants, the Sachapuyo or Chachapoyas, were known as the "people of the clouds" because their stone cities were built on a site where the cold Andean air meets the warm tropical air from the Amazon basin, resulting in a semi-permanent layer of mist and fog.

Cool amateur find I Found: 50,000 treasures unearthed by Britain's amateur archaeologists

When Peter and Christine Johnson decided on a whim to shut their fitness shop early one day last year to try their luck at treasure-hunting, their metal detectors had hardly been used.

Armed with a plastic bag for any swag, they expected to come back ruddy-cheeked and empty-handed after their first trek out into the fields of Kent.

Twenty minutes later, they had uncovered a precious hoard of 360 coins dating back to the Iron Age - two of them of a kind never previously found in Britain. The extraordinary collection has since been classified as an official treasure. The British Museum is also keen to acquire it.

Just don't make a profit at it.

Cool amateur find II Foil reveals Roman magic

The Norfolk gardener was quite irritated at finding bits of rubbish mixed with the expensive topsoil he had bought: he picked out what he took to be foil from a champagne bottle and unrolled it - to reveal a lost world of Roman magic.

Experts from the British Museum and Oxford University have been poring over the scrap of gold foil, no bigger than a postage stamp, which went on display for the first time yesterday, with other archaeological finds reported in the past year.

"It meant nothing to me at first, I wondered if it was a scrap of decoration from a garment or a piece of furniture," said Adrian Marsden, the finds officer in Norwich whose desk it first landed on. "Then I suddenly saw the Greek letter A, and I knew what we must have."

It is a lamella, a magical charm, one of five found in Britain, and of no more than a few dozen from anywhere in the Roman empire.

See, when we dig in the garden all we find is stuff the neighbor cat left for us.

And back in the US of A. . . Park dig yields picture of ancient camp

The lure of sleeping beneath the stars in Yellowstone apparently is nothing new.

Long before nylon tents and posh RVs, some of the park's earliest visitors arrived in the early summer on foot and camped on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

While they were there, some 10,000 years ago, they made and repaired tools, hunted, prepared hides and may have rafted out to one or more of the lake's several islands.

When they left the beach, they left behind evidence of their stay. But over time those tools, flakes of stone and blood residue disappeared in the heaps of soil -- a buried story waiting to be told.

See? They find gold and magic foils; we find rocks and stones and sticks and bones.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

We'll get right on that 7,000-year-old civilisation site needs attention

Mehrgarh necropolis is one of the archaeological sites discovered in Balochistan during the last five decades, where a city had been buried for centuries under tons of earth. It tells us about the oldest human settlements in the South Asian region.

The site, 140 kms southeast of the provincial capital, is located on the bank of the Bolan river near a settlement of Raisani tribe in the Bolan district. Archaeologists say it is one of the three oldest villages in the world, the other two being in Palestine and Iraq.

French experts, with the collaboration of Pakistani archaeologists, have conducted excavations at the site in various phases, revealing in the process the 7,000-year-old heritage of the Neolithic (new stone age) site. Among the relics discovered from Mehrgarh were skeletons buried along with necklaces of pearls and small items of earthenware.

Atlantis. . .found! And covered with a roof Work on roof for prehistoric site of Akrotiri begins again

Prime Minister (and Culture Minister) Costas Karamanlis had to intervene personally to end the funding shortfall that had bedeviled the makeover of the archaeological site of Akrotiri on Santorini (or Thera, to give the island its ancient name).

The Archaeological Society owed 4 million euros to the contracting company that had undertaken the replacement of the old roof with a new one, as well as a more general revamp of the major prehistoric site.

One of the largest pioneering works to take place at an archaeological site, work restarted this week when the money was provided to pay off the debt, following visits earlier this year by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia and General Secretary Christos Zachopoulos.

This is, of course, the actual place the Atlantic myth is based on. The eruption of Thera has also been (reasonably, in our view) postulated as the source of several of the plagues of Egypt from the Old Testament, though the dating of the various events is a little sketchy.

Experts Prepare Jiroft's 5,000-Year Map

Archeologists and surveyors plan to draw up an archeological map of the Iranian southern city of Jiroft, home to a 5,000 year old civilization.

Nicknamed as “The Lost Paradise” by experts, historical sites of Jiroft are located by the bank of Halil River, which covers 8450 sq km and houses artifacts dating from the Neolithic to Islamic period.

“The historical settlement of Halil River has relics from 7,000 years ago and is considered one of the earliest urban centers around the world. That’s why we have decided to produce its archeological map,” said Nader Alidad Suleimani, an expert with Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) in Kerman. The historical site of Jiroft, located in Kerman, is one of the richest civilization sites of the world, encompassing invaluable remains and items from the third millennium B.C. and with more than 100 historical areas in just 400 kilometers of Halil Rood riverbank.

New cave paintings discovered

Another 26 cave paintings have been discovered in the Fingal Cave at Naeroey in Troendelag.

When the cave was discovered in 1961, 21 paintings were registered. The 47 paintings depict both people and animals.

-The cave paintings may be more than 3000 years old, archaeologist Melanie Wrigglesworth at the Science Museum says to NRK.

She believes the find may give us more knowledge of how human beings in the late Stone Age and in Older Bronze Age percieved the world around them.

The cave is both dark, wet and cold, and she believes that no one lived there, but that it was possibly used for some sort of religious practice, and that the paintings of animals and people were made in this connection.

That's the whole thing.

Remote sensing update Geophysics, GPS Technology Play Important Roles In Excavation Of Ancient Roman Fort

For centuries, trowels and handpicks have been traditional tools of the trade for archeologists, but a University at Buffalo geophysicist who has been working at an archeological site in Jordan is proposing that some decidedly 21st-century technologies, like tablet PCs equipped with fancy navigational software, ought to be standard gear as well.

"Non-invasive geophysical techniques, which allow researchers to image what's under the ground without digging, and real-time differential Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology, which provides resolution and accuracy to within a meter, can provide archeological teams with significant benefits," said Gregory S. Baker, Ph.D., associate professor of geology in UB's College of Arts and Sciences.

By helping archeological teams target with greater accuracy where an excavation will provide the greatest archeological "payoff," the integration of both of these techniques on a commonly available -- and portable -- platform like the tablet PC, could save them time and money, he added.

We don't know about centuries but for a long time anyway. This ought to assist in excavating less of any given site, since if you are able to see what the overall structure is like from the surface you can taylor your excavations to get just what you want instead of plowing up the whole thing just to find out where walls are.
Letters a 'time machine' to daily business of Egypt

They look like scraps of paper covered with lines of ornate faded script and mounted between sheets of glass. But to Matt Malczycki, they're a time machine offering glimpses into the commerce of medieval Egypt.

Malczycki, a Ph.D. student in history at the University of Utah, has been translating and analyzing the 777 documents and fragments of the Utah Papyri Collection, believed to be the largest collection of Arabic papyri in North America. And he has found that 1,000 years ago, Egyptian businessmen were sophisticated, polite and literate.

This seems like a great (if rather tedious) project. There are no doubt thousands of pages of papyrus sitting around in private (and public) collections that have yet to be translated. It also highlights the fact that the vast majority of surviving written records have to do with generally run-of-the-mill daily business transactions rather than flowery poetry or epic tales of kings and generals.

Truly mind-boggling Archaeologists discover witch burial in Crimea

An astonishing find will keep Russian archaeologists occupied for quite some time. Archaeological expedition from the Russian Ust-Alminsk region has made yet another sensational discovery.

In 2003, the same team of researchers unearthed an unlooted burial of a Sarmat girl in a lavish funeral gown; the burial also contained rings, earrings, necklaces and a variety of various golden medals, which had once been attached to clothes.

Artist's conception of what the witch may have looked like:

Various Viking items Viking Surprises

It's been the season for Vikings, with a replica of a warship originally crafted in Dublin setting sail in Denmark and some important discoveries in the British Isles.

Danish researchers at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde have spent four years replicating a 90-foot-long ocean-going warship based on the museum's Skuldelev 2 shipwreck.

. . .

Archaeologists at Ireland's National Museum have announced the "significant" and "exciting" discovery of a ninth-century Viking burial north of Dublin.

Biblical archaeology update The cave of Lot's seduction and the monastery it inspired

The ruins were first discovered during an archaeological survey at the south-east end of the Dead Sea in 1986, near a spring named Ain Abata. After further investigations it was evident that the site - near today's Ghor al-Safi, the biblical city of Zoara - was none other that the Sanctuary of Agios ("Saint") Lot. Biblical scholars and archaeologists have sought the site for decades.

Within a year of the discovery and identification of Deir Ain Abata ("Monastery of the Abbot's Spring") an international team of archaeologists was assembled to excavate and study the site. After more than 10 years of excavations and research, the final report is about to be published.

Story on Iraq not involving looting Field Museum 'reuniting' scattered collections from ancient Iraq site

With the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the museum recently began to study, catalog and reconcile the scattered but priceless collections of materials from the famous 5,000-year-old archaeological site of Kish, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Kish is one of the world's oldest cities and site of the earliest evidence of wheeled transport.

About time. Again, there are literally millions of items sitting in museum basements around the world that no one is seeing or studying. This is a good start at getting some of this material out to the public and the research community.

That's it for now. There's more, but we have pressing research concerns.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The continuing preservation saga Mexico Struggles to Preserve Ancient Ruins

The majestic pyramids and temples of the ancient Zapotec kingdom of Monte Alban sit spectacularly atop a hill in Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca.

More than 1,000 years ago, Monte Alban was the bustling capital of a pre-Colombian realm, one of Mexico's oldest civilizations, and an early exponent of writing. It is one of Mexico's top archeological attractions, visited by people from the world over.

But, like many such sites in Mexico, it is underfunded for investigation, embroiled in land conflicts and being spoiled by the sheer number of visitors.

There's only two sentences there comparing Mexico with Peru, which is, unfortunately, what attracted our attention to this story in the first place. But still, Monta Alban is another one of those places most people don't know about, so look it up if you have some time to kill. Start here.

Indian Mounds Mystify Excavators

A thousand years ago along the banks of the Mississippi River, in what is currently southeast Illinois, there was a city that now mystifies both archeologists and anthropologists.

At its zenith, around A.D. 1050, the city that is now called Cahokia was among the largest metropolitan centers in the world. About 15,000 people lived in the city, with another 15,000 to 20,000 residing in its surrounding "suburbs" and outlying farmlands. It was the region's capital city, a place of art, grand religious rituals and science.

But by 1300, the city had become a ghost town, its carefully built structures abandoned and its population dispersed.

Actually quite a good article.

From mysterious mounds to mysterious ceramics Mysterious pottery shows true face of first Pacific settlers

Staring out from an ancient piece of pottery, the mysterious face of a bearded man has given scientists a unique glimpse of what the first settlers of Fiji may have looked like.

Researchers say the "extraordinary discovery" is a vital clue in mapping out how the South Pacific came to be inhabited some 3,000 years ago, suggesting the first direct link to islands some thousands of kilometres away.

Thought to be the work of the Lapita people - a long-lost race which originated near modern-day Taiwan then migrated to Polynesia - the fragment is also at least 200 years older than any other piece found in Fiji.

Way cool archaeological moment Thousands of tourists gather at Abu Simbel to watch sun greets face of Ramsis II

Thousands of tourists gathered at Abu Simbel Temple early Friday morning to watch the sun rays while falling perpendicularly on the face of King Ramsis II's statue inside the sanctuary hall to greet him on his birthday.

The fascinating scene was cheered by the crowd when the sun rays illuminated the face of the King for 20 minutes.

The statue of King Ramsis who was one of the most important pharaohs of Ancient Egypt is uniquely placed inside the temple so that the sun rays perpendicularly fall on his face twice a year, on his birthday and his coronation day.

That's the whole thing. Kind of Stonegengey.

Tehran ==> Finland ==> Boliva? Finnish find sheds new light on prehistoric Andean culture

Ceramic artifacts found by Finnish archeologists during a dig in Bolivia have shed new light on the prehistoric Tiwanaku people, of whom little is known, Helsinki University officials said.

"The discovery demonstrates that the Tiwanakus made the highest quality ceramics in the Andean region, with very naturalistic portraits, and thanks to this we now know what they looked like," Martti Paerssinen, a professor from Helsinki University who led the excavations, told AFP.

The Tiwanaku people settled on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca in the Andean mountains around 400 BC. They built their administrative centre, the city of Tiwanaku, around 300-500 AD, and their influence in the region continued to grow for several centuries.

Short blurb on more caucasian Chinese mummies China unearths ancient Caucasian tombs

Chinese archaeologists have started unearthing hundreds of tombs in an arid north-western region once home to a mysterious civilization that most likely was Caucasian, state media said Sunday.

The researchers have begun work at Xiaohe, near the Lop Nur desert in Xinjiang region, where an estimated 1000 tombs await excavation, according to Xinhua news agency.

Their findings could help shed light on one of the greatest current archaeological riddles and answer the question of how this isolated culture ended up thousands of kilometres from the nearest Caucasian community.

The tombs, thought by some to be 4000 years old, were first discovered in 1934 by a Swedish explorer, but virtually no work was done on them over the next more than six decades.

In 2003, a Chinese team started digging in the area, finding 33 tombs and nearly 1000 relics, but had to stop because of a severe storm, Xinhua said.

And finally, hot chicks!

We viewed a previously unknown documentary by the National Geographic Channel this weekend called "The Diva Mummy". It was about several exceptionally well-preserved mummies found in China, one from the 1970s and others more recently. They truly are fantastic. We can't find the NG story on it, but here is a (pretty good) blurb on it from China Daily:

The body of "Lady Dai," a noble woman from the Western Han Dynasty which ruled 2,100 years ago, is housed in the state-of-the -art Hunan Museum in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province.

Flocks of visitors arrive every day to view the wonder. Just how did the ancient morticians embalm her - what materials did they use?

The body is so well preserved, it can be autopsied by pathologists and shows similar results from a cadaver of a recently deceased human being.

Also of particular interest was that the autopsy revealed she had advanced coronary artery disease, and probably died of myocardial infarction brought on by a dislodged gallstone. They were cagey about how they were preserved so well, but it appears all of these mummies were found covered in some 'mysterious' liquid. We speculate that it is probably something similar to the tannic acid that preserves bog mummies in northern Europe to similar degrees.

Also, we found the Mummy News site while researching this story. This site is an absolute hoot and has all sorts of neat stuff. It gives instructions on how to make a chicken mummy (actually four different ways!) and Making A Barbie® or Ken® Mummy.

You can also shop for mummy-related costumes just in time for Halloween! And frankly, given the usual big screen treatment mummies usually get, we wholeheartedly endorse at least one of their available costumes:

Ummmmm. . . . no. Luther's lavatory thrills experts

Archaeologists in Germany say they may have found a lavatory where Martin Luther launched the Reformation of the Christian church in the 16th Century.

The stone room is in a newly-unearthed annex to Luther's house in Wittenberg.

Luther is quoted as saying he was "in cloaca", or in the sewer, when he was inspired to argue that salvation is granted because of faith, not deeds.

The scholar suffered from constipation and spent many hours in contemplation on the toilet seat.

1) This is what the acronym 'TMI' was invented for.

2) There are far too many far too obvious jokes to make, so we shan't.

Breaking news Iceman's discoverer dead in Alps

Helmut Simon, the German who discovered an intact Bronze Age mummy in an Alps glacier, has been found dead in the Austrian Alps.

A hunter found his remains in a stream just as rescuers were planning to suspend their search eight days after he went missing while on a hike.

Well, that's sad. Kudos to Mr. Simon on his discovery and our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.
Rescue archaeology I Archaeologist faces challenges in Fourth Ward

The future of the Fourth Ward site where Houston Independent School District wants to build a two-school campus remains on hold while Fred McGhee determines what to do about the site's history.

"There has not been any really meaningful archaeology conducted in the area before," said McGhee, an African-American archaeologist and historical anthropologist. "My goal is to try to do that."

On a recent autumn morning, McGhee leaned on a fence surrounding the troubled piece of land in the historic neighborhood almost in the shadow of Houston's downtown skyline. A rooster crowing in a nearby backyard sounded like a voice from the past.

Rescue archaeology II Mining drives need for archaeologists

Two men are crouched over, stabbing orange and blue flags among the hillside sagebrush while two others scan the hilltop.

"Found a scrape," one yells, referring to a tiny rock tool that likely was used to scrape animal hides clean hundreds of years ago - not significant enough to place in the National Museum of American History, but one of the big finds of the day.

This hillside near Gillette is littered with rusted cans, scrap wood and bits of porcelain left over from a homestead that must have been here a century ago. Each remnant is examined, recorded and left where it was found. After these pages of history are filed in government books, this hillside and all its homestead relics can be dozed over to make way for a drilling rig or coal shovel.

. . .

Archaeologists like Wilson are in high demand all over Wyoming, a demand driven by the burgeoning natural gas industry, most of which is centered on federally owned minerals.

That would no doubt be scraper.

What this is all leading to is a comprehensive database of known sites, from either archaeological work or historical records. Work has begun on a similar system in Egypt. It's all part of a push to better manage archaeological remains as a resource.

Aerial Archaeology in Jordan

Aerial photography grew at a rapid pace in tandem with the development of the aeroplane, and in the Middle East there were significant contributions from a number of countries. In the 1914-18 war the Germans created a Denkmalschutzcommado – a small unit of photographers and archaeologists whose job it was to record and protect archaeological sites from damage by military activities.

In the 1930s, the French Jesuit priest, Père Antoine Poidebard, astonished and delighted the academic world with the publication of his La trace de Rome dans le désert de Syrie (Paris, 1934). In the volume of plates, the reader could leaf through page after page of stunning views of lonely Roman forts, roads and frontier towns, all taken from early biplanes. At a stroke, Poidebard had mapped the frontier of Roman Syria – or at least a palimpsest of successive frontiers. In 1945 he published the results of his wider look at Syria from the air (Le Limes de Chalcis, with R. Mouterde) and in the meantime he had stimulated the interest of the great British orientalist and explorer, Sir Aurel Stein, to do his own survey of Iraq and Transjordan in 1938-39 with the aid of the RAF (finally published in 1985 as Sir Aurel Stein’s Limes Report, eds S. Gregory and D. Kennedy). But then aerial archaeology across the entire region grounded to a halt after 1945.

Really, they're just as fascinating as gold death masks. . . New light on the cart ruts as a scientific study is launched

Some new light will be shed on the mysterious cart ruts found all over Malta as a scientific research will be carried out to try and establish why, when and how where these enigmatic routes cut into rocks were used.

Heritage Malta will be the Project Leader in the Culture 2000 project entitled "The significance of cart-ruts in ancient landscapes". This is the first time that Malta is a project leader in such a project. During the launch of the project it was announced that there are two international partners involved: Faculty of Environmental Sciences University of Urbino Italy, and APROTECO -- association for economic development of Valley of Lecrin, Granada Spain. Local partners include: National Museum of Archaeology, Restoration Unit, MEPA and the University of Malta.

More here.

Black Sea archaeology update Ocean archaeologists hunt Noah's flood under Black Sea

Four years ago, scientists thought they had found the perfect place to settle the Noah flood debate: A farmer's house on a bluff overlooking the Black Sea built about 7,500 years ago — just before tidal waves inundated the homestead, submerged miles of coastline and turned the freshwater lake into a salty sea.

Some believed the rectangular site of stones and wood could help solve the age-old question of whether the Black Sea's flooding was the event recounted in the biblical story of Noah.

That story told of a calamitous flood occurring over 40 days and nights. Scientists had largely dismissed it, believing the Black Sea filled up gradually with gently rising waters. That wisdom was rocked when two scholars claimed several years ago that the Black Sea's flooding was more recent — and so rapid and widespread that it forced people to move as far away as mainland Europe.

Probably posted the essence of this story earlier, but here it is anyway.

Hebrew University Archaeologists Reveal Additional Sections Of Ancient Synagogue In Albania

Excavations carried out this fall at an ancient synagogue in Albania have uncovered additional sections of the impressive structure. The excavations, now in their second season, are being conducted under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Albanian Academy of Sciences.

The synagogue, which dates from the 5th or 6th century C.E., is located in the city of Saranda, a coastal city in Albania, opposite the Greek island of Corfu. The synagogue underwent various periods of use, including its conversion into a church at its last stage, prior to being abandoned.

Initial excavations at the site were conducted some 20 years ago when Albania was under tight Communist rule. At that time that the building was identified as a church.

Mostly it's just avoiding diarrhea 'Indiana Jones'-style archaeology goes interactive; riddles all around

If you have ever seen any of the Indiana Jones movies, you surely know that archaeology is not only dangerous, but also exciting, enthralling, and generally exhilarating.

That's not quite the case with the practice of real archaeology, but at 5W!ts Boston's new "Tomb" attraction, anyone can be Indy for a day, or at least for 40 minutes.

We jest, but this looks to be really fun.

Rescue archaeology III Archaeologist keeps eye on past, future

For about 4,000 years, bones and other remains from an ancient Indian tribe have rested under the dirt on a peaceful hill in what is now called Hermitage.

With development's bulldozers at the gate of this northeast Davidson County plot, Dan Allen's job is to clear the way, while trying to honor the dignity of the departed souls and learn about the way they lived.

Allen is a commercial archaeologist who estimates that he has removed 1,000 graves in 12 years of work. They've included old graves of fallen Civil War soldiers and Native Americans, like the 80 to 100 graves that rest on this 1-acre site being developed with townhomes near the Hermitage Golf Course. His is a necessary vocation in a culture constantly moving dirt for the next shopping center or cul-de-sac.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Egads. . . . Prosecutors describe murder-for-hire plot

Over a morning cup of coffee, Jack Harelson examined the Polaroid of his old enemy lying in a shallow grave. He laughed and laughed.

"One down, three to go," Harelson said, tossing the photo into the fire.

But the alleged conversation between Harelson and the police informant who arranged the staged murder of Lloyd Olds was never caught on tape, prosecutors admitted Wednesday. They presented opening arguments for Harelson’s attempted murder trial in Jackson County Circuit Court.

. . .

Convicted in 1996 of stealing ancient artifacts from government property, Harelson wanted to "take out" the four people who brought him down, said Clay Johnson, Josephine County district attorney.

Yeesh. See also Cave Looter Solicits Murder at Archaeology Magazine's site.

Interesting site we'd not seen before The Wasteflake Project

The Wasteflake Project is intended as a place to commit public scientific collaboration, to consider scientific and philosophical concerns from many perspectives, professional and non-professional, insider and outsider. It combines the intimacy and informality of a conference symposium with the public availability of the Internet, linking scholars around the world in discussion, both structured and free-form, of issues of interest.

Courtesy of Kris Hirst at Check it out. We've only briefly visited it at this point, but it looks like a promising way to create a dialog on archaeology in the public sphere. We'll investigate further and report back.

Unless Kris is out there and wishes to comment on it. Hint Hint.

Burial Site Found Near Ancient Olympia

Archeologists have discovered ancient graves near Ancient Olympia, the hallowed site where the Olympic games were born in 776 B.C., the Culture Ministry said Thursday.

The 25 limestone graves date back to the Neolithic era — roughly 4000 B.C. to 2000 B.C — and were found during construction work about 200 miles southwest of Athens.

The ministry said each grave was used to bury at least three to five people but as many as 10 in one case. Also found inside the graves were amphorae — or two-handled ceramic jars used for shipping and storing oil and wine — and jewelry that were buried along with the dead.

"Bones have been preserved in excellent condition, along with grave offerings ... that will yield significant information about the society of this prehistoric settlement," a ministry statement said.

That's the whole thing.

Yes, most are previously unknown Previously Unknown Sites in Jewell County Excavated by Kansas State Professor

Archaeological sites previously unknown to professional archaeologists have been discovered in Jewell County, Kan., by a Kansas State University professor. He said a local collector alerted him to the sites.

Brad Logan, research associate professor of anthropology, spent three weeks in September doing test excavations onn White Rock Creek's Lovewell Reservoir, an archaeological site that is usually underwater.

"When the reservoir is at its normal flood pool, these sites are all underwater," Logan said. "It's only when the water is released in late summer for irrigation that these sites are exposed."

More on Bulgarian gold Bulgaria dig suggests rich past

Archaeologists in Bulgaria say they have found hundreds of tiny gold jewels dating back 5,000 years, possible proof of Europe's earliest civilisation.

The head of Bulgaria's National Museum of History, Bozhidar Dimitrov, said the team had unearthed gold rings, beads and jewellery inlaid with tiny pearls.

He said the jewels had shown expert craftsmanship and an unexpectedly high level of technology for the time.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

And now for the promised EEF weekly news:

Following news courtesy of the EEF.

Press article about the supposed interrelations between Ancient Egyptian and Hebrew texts:

Really nice article, even if it's more text than artifacts.

Press article about the ancient Jewish colony at Elephantine:

Both good articles by Jill Kamill. Read the whole things.

(University or other subscription access only, but good if you have them)
The Restoration Stela of Tutankhamun (CG 34183)
-- Photographs
-- English translation by John Bennett, The Restoration Inscription of Tut'ankhamun, JEA, vol. 25, pp. 8-15 (1939), [translation, pp. 9-11]:
-- English translation by Benedict G. Davies, Egyptian Historical Records of the Later Eighteenth Dynasty, Fascicle VI, Translated from W. Helck, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, Heft 22, Warminster, 1995 (partial)

Online version of: Didier Gentet, Jérôme Maucourant, Some Reflections on Price Formation and Price Fluctuation in the Case Egypt at the End of the Second Millenium B.C., paper first presented at the fourth International Karl Polanyi Conference in Montreal, November 1992 - 11 pp., pdf-file: 33 KB

Online version of: Mahmoud Ezzamel, Work Organization in the Middle Kingdom, Ancient Egypt, in: Organization, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 497-537 (2004) "This paper examines original documents from the Middle Kingdom in ancient Egypt (2050-1780 BC), containing material on various practices relating to the organization of work and labour discipline in state projects." -
pdf-file: 408 KB

[Submitted by Peter Brand (]
"I am pleased to announce that the Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project of the University of Memphis now has its own website. Please visit us at:
Our team will be leaving for Egypt on October 20th, 2004, for a 3 month season. The website will continue to grow as we add season reports and other information. Please add us to your links pages where appropriate."

And the news just keeps trickling in. . . .

"I love gooooooold!"

Bulgarian Archaeologists Unearth 5,000 Year-old Gold Treasure

Archaeologists in Central Bulgaria have retrieved a 5,000 year-old golden treasure consisting of more than 400 fine-crafted jewels, National Museum of History chief Bozhidar Dimitrov said Thursday.

An expedition unearthed the treasure in a valley tucked between the Balkan and Sredna Gora Mountain, Dimtrov said. The exact location of the find was being kept secret for security reasons, he said.

Oh, tell us. We won't tell anyone else. Honest.


An international scientific conference, “Turkmenistan – a homeland of the Annau culture and Ak Bugdai”, will start in Ashgabat on October 22. As the Ashgabat correspondent of reports, the conference is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of discoveries made by an expedition headed by American professor-archaeologist Rafael Pampelli at an excavation site near the village of Annau, a few kilometers to the west from Ashgabat. It should be recalled that scientists discovered traces of highly advanced civilization and the remaining of white wheat grains cultivated by ancient grain growers 5,000 years ago.

Public talk I Archaeologist to speak on discoveries (Quickie anonymous reg required)

Archaeologist Bonnie Gums from the University of South Alabama will present a talk titled "Prehistoric Peoples at Orange Beach" at 6 p.m. today at the Orange Beach Senior Activity Center.

Gums will discuss archaeological discoveries, such as two large pits filled with shells and fish bones left by prehistoric peoples of the Weeden Island culture, who lived along the waterways of Orange Beach between A.D. 700 to A.D. 900. She will also bring artifacts for show and discussion.

The presentation is co-sponsored by the USA Center for Archaeological Studies and the Orange Beach Public Library. This is a free event.

The senior center is at 26251 Canal Road (Alabama 180). For more information, contact Angela Rand at the library, 981-2923 or Bonnie Gums at 460-6562.

That's the whole thing. Note that we are not encouraging anyone to call the number listed above.

Public talk I Biblical Archaeology Conference at UNO

Author and archaeologist James Strange will be the keynote speaker at the sixth annual Batchelder Biblical Archaeology Conference in Omaha.

The conference will be held Oct. 28 through 30 at the W.H. Thompson Alumni Center on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus.

Strange, a professor at the University of South Florida, will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 on "Jesus and His Archaeological Setting." It is free and open to the public.

Home at last! Prestwich skeletons find a home at last

Hundreds of human skeletons unearthed from Prestwich Street in Cape Town are likely to be reinterred at a memorial park to be established on the corner of Somerset Road and Buitengracht Street.

The South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) said in a statement on Wednesday that the site had been identified after a meeting of "interested parties".

Phakamani Buthelezi, formerly head of marine and coastal management and now the new head of Sahra, said in the statement: "Our ancestors will be afforded the dignity they deserve."

So far about 1 000 skeletons have been unearthed from the excavations at Prestwich Street.

We think this was a good resolution to the whole thing.

Don't know if we've posted this book review by Mark Rose over at Archaeology magazine on Joann Fletcher's The Search for Nefertiti: The True Story of an Amazing Discovery, but here it is: Where's Nefertiti?

Last year, the public was hit by a media barrage touting an amazing Egyptological find: a long-neglected mummy was none other than the famous queen Nefertiti. The identification was promoted in the Discovery Channel's two-hour documentary "Nefertiti Resurrected." According to a Washington Post article, 5.5 million viewers tuned in to the documentary when it aired August 17, 2003, putting it in the top ten programs ever for the cable channel.

Due out in October, The Search for Nefertiti: The True Story of an Amazing Discovery (William Morrow & Co., $25.95) is the American edition of a companion book to the documentary. Here's how the publisher sums it up: "After years of intense research, Dr. Joann Fletcher has answered the questions countless researchers before her could not. While studying Egyptian royal wigs, she read a brief mention of an unidentified and mummified body, discovered long ago and believed to belong to an Egyptian of little the astonishment of her colleagues she identified this body as the missing remains of Queen Nefertiti."

Covers the controversy and the issues surrounding it very well. It's a very familiar storyline to those who have followed Egyptology for a while: author makes startling claim about Egyptian history, professional Egyptologists decry it as unsound, etc., books fly, and after a few years everybody forgets about it. Somewhat similar to the flap some years ago about the supposed great age of the sphinx.

Also check out The Archaeology of Hidden Cave, Nevada. Pretty famous site for those studying the western U.S.

Both links via About.Com.
Kind of a slow news day so far. We're expecting the weekly EEF news so there might be more to read later on today.

SCA resumes excavations at mummies valley in Bahreya Oases

Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni gave the green light to the Egyptian mission to resume excavation works in an area known as the valley of mummies in the Bahreya Oases in Giza governorate.

Dr. Zahi Hawas, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said in statements on Wednesday that the Egyptian mission would not use foreign help during unearthing operations which were suspended three years ago.

Hawas added that the work of the mission in the past five years was carried out with pure Egyptian expertise.

The SCA Chief said that he would lead the mission, which will star its job early next month to unravel the secrets of this valley.

The excavation is expected to result in finding a number of mummies of Pharaonic Egypt to be added to the 249 ones discovered in the past which date back to the 26th dynasty.

That's the whole thing. Sadly, you can't just leave them sit out there because the place would be looted within a month.

Update on Wal-Mart Vs. Teotihuacan Wal-Mart charged over Mexico site

A Mexican leftist leader filed criminal charges against Wal-Mart and local and federal officials over construction of a huge discount store in the shadow of ancient pyramids outside Mexico City.

Gerardo Fernandez, a national director of one of Mexico's biggest opposition parties -- the Party of the Democratic Revolution -- filed charges Tuesday with the federal Attorney General's office to block the Wal-Mart owned store at the Teotihuacan archeological ruins.

Wal-Mart damaged archeological relics during construction, a crime subject to imprisonment, Fernandez said in his complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. The company had no immediate comment.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Two new items just in off the wire

Archaeologist to examine Old City Cemetery next week

Archaeologist John Keller said it could take up to six weeks to fully examine Brownsville’s Old Cemetery dating back to at least 1848.

Keller’s work starts next week following Commissioners Court approval Tuesday of an agreement with him.

The court capped the fees for his services at $50,000, but should there be any need for subcontractors, the county will pay their actual cost plus 10 percent.

MSU archaeologist part of major Cuba initiative

Mississippi State University archaeologist John O'Hear has spent his entire career exploring early Native American life in the Southeast. But because he grew up in Argentina and speaks fluent Spanish, he recently also has become a co-investigator of a project seeking to unravel archaeological secrets at one of the most important sites in southern Cuba.

The early 16th century site is so significant O'Hear describes it as the equivalent of "1,000 years from now being able to dig at the site of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King's home church in Atlanta."
What did Tacitus know and when did he know it???? Forest excuse 'pure Roman spin'

WHEN the all-conquering armies of ancient Rome failed to subdue the northern end of Britain, there had to be a good reason.

So the Romans decided it was not the primitive barbarians known as the Caledonii who had defeated them, but the vast impenetrable forest covering the country now known as Scotland.

However, a new book to be released next month on the history of Scotland’s woods claims this idea was invented by Roman writers to preserve the image of the empire’s "invincible" legions.

According to Professor Chris Smout, the Historiographer Royal, it was an early example of political spin used to explain failure, and a tactic used by the Romans to cope with defeat against the German tribes.

Media bias! Partisan politics! The Imperial branch of government cozying up to the military industrial complex! And someone had better look into the web of connections Professor Smout has with Germanic warlords.

Viking village update Full Excavation for Irish Viking Village?

Preliminary work to build a bypass road in an Irish village has yielded what could be the most significant piece of Viking history in Europe: a virtually intact town that some have already called Ireland's equivalent of Pompeii.

Evidence for the ancient settlement was discovered last year by archaeologists testing areas ahead of road builders.

Located near the banks of the river Suir at Woodstown, five miles from the city of Waterford, the potential Viking town lies below pasture fields commonly used for horse grazing.

Important archaeological discoveries in eastern desert unearthed

An excavtation mission under Minnesota University in the US which is conducting excacavations in Wadi Qum Heleeg in Sharkeya desert unearthed 132 engravings dating back to pre-historic ages.

Dr. Zahi Hawas, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said yesterday that the mission found out drawings of cattle and cows as well as pictures of a flock tied to persons, noting that the there was breeding up of livestock in pre-historic eras in this area.

That's the whole thing. Darn short on specifics. Could be Predynastic, Neolithic, Epipaleolithic, who knows.

What a guy Pueblo artifacts unearthed

In the mid-1990s, looters offered Richard Chaves, who just purchased a plot of land in central New Mexico, several hundred thousand dollars for whatever artifacts they could find buried on his ranch.

In January 1996, instead of accepting the offer, Chaves approached Michael Adler at the SMU Department of Anthropology for advice. Chaves carried with him a shoebox full of artifacts he gathered from the surface of the land, and he sensed the potential archaeological value of what might still remain unearthed.

Chaves turned out to be right. The artifacts in the shoebox captured Adler’s interest and the two men began planning how to excavate the ranch. From that afternoon meeting has emerged the identification of the Chaves/Hummingbird site in New Mexico, an annual summer project for students and faculty of the anthropology department since 1998.

Great story. This happens every so often and it's a blessing: a private landowner gives permission for archaeologists to investigate on their land. Often these turn into long-term projects providing graduate students with numerous dissertation and thesis topics.

Now, this is interesting Kiln's 'ancestor' found in Greece
Clay hearth Antiquity

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest clay "fireplaces" made by humans at a dig in southern Greece.

The hearths are between 34,000 and 23,000 years old and were almost certainly used for cooking by prehistoric inhabitants of the area.

Researchers found remnants of wood ash and phytoliths - a type of plant cell - in these hearths and lab tests show the clay was burnt.

The study appears in the latest edition of the scholarly journal Antiquity.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Brief post:

Underwater archaeology update Lake Constance is historical ships' graveyard

Archaeologists believe Lake Constance is a huge ships' graveyard for historical vessels dating back to ancient times.

Martin Mainberger of the regional office for the preservation of historical monuments said Tuesday 50 shipwrecks have already been identified in Lake Ueberling, a northern arm of Lake Constance.

Underwater archaeologists from Europe and the United States are currently meeting at Constance in southern Germany as part of an international conference on underwater archaeology in Zurich.

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of the first early settlers in Aberdeenshire during an 11-day excavation near Kintore.

A Mesolithic, or Middle Stone-Age site, dating back around 8,000 years, was unearthed on the outskirts of the village.

Kintore has already revealed historically valuable finds, including Roman bread ovens, a timber circle thought to date back 6,000 years, and evidence of a roundhouse.

Experts now hope their latest discovery will help them piece together a history of the area - something which, at the moment, does not exist.

Slave cemetery is unearthed on old plantation

Thanks to a handful of determined local historians, archaeologists have found a slave cemetery on a Virginia Tech farm in Blacksburg.
The spot once was considered sacred -- the final resting place for men, women and children who toiled and died at Kentland, southwest Virginia's largest antebellum plantation.

The discovery marks the beginning of a long-term project to restore the plantation's historic sites.

Carlisle hailed ‘one of top Roman dig sites’

CARLISLE has been hailed as one of the top Roman sites in Europe by a leading archaeological expert.

Around 80,000 objects were discovered during the Millennium project excavation on Castle Green and the team leader in charge of the dig has ranked the city in the top three in the UK for Roman finds.

John Zant, of Oxford Archaeology North, who ran the Millennium Project in Carlisle in 1998 to 2001, was in the city over the weekend for a conference on the results of the dig.

Medieval Houses of God, or Ancient Fortresses?

Investigations in Lalibela, Ethiopia, are revealing that Africa's most important historical Christian site is much older than previously thought. Up until now, scholars have regarded the spectacular complex of 11 rock-cut churches as dating from around A.D. 1200, but new survey work carried out by a British archaeologist suggests that three of the churches may have originally been "built" half a millennium earlier as fortifications or other structures in the waning days of the Axumite Empire.

This one didn't get away Fisherman nets statue of ancient Greek athlete

A Greek fisherman has made the catch of the day -- or maybe the century.
He snagged a 24-hundred-year-old bronze statue a few days ago, near the Aegean Sea island of Kythnos

The Greek Culture Ministry says it's missing a head, an arm and a leg, but it's still quite a find. Experts think the statue is of a young athlete -- given the fact that it is naked, its stance indicates movement, and that there's a great deal of anatomical detail.

It is about four-feet-eight-inches tall and weighs nearly 155 pounds.

The fisherman handed the statue over the the port authority on October 15th, then it was taken to Athens under police guard.

That's the whole thing.

Hebrew University archaeologists reveal additional sections of ancient synagogue in Albania

Excavations carried out this fall at an ancient synagogue in Albania have uncovered additional sections of the impressive structure. The excavations, now in their second season, are being conducted under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Albanian Academy of Sciences.

The synagogue, which dates from the 5th or 6th century C.E., is located in the city of Saranda, a coastal city in Albania, opposite the Greek island of Corfu. The synagogue underwent various periods of use, including its conversion into a church at its last stage, prior to being abandoned.

Media review corner

[Update] Yeah? yeah? Way cool dancing skeleton, ya?

Finally, we take this opportunity to encourage readers to view the latest Discovery Channel mummy offering Mummy Detective: The Crypt of the Medici. It was first broadcast Sunday evening (Oct. 9) in the US and wasn't too bad, in our estimation. Our first impression is that it could have easily been extended into two hours since in its one-hour format a lot of history and information relating to pathology could have been included. As it is, the program was interesting, not too overhyped, and generally rather informative. Brier makes a good host, as he really tries to make it appear that the viewer is in the room with him while he explains things. Those with some familiarity with the subject can be irritated by this, but that's a small complaint.

We also thought that the issue of even disinterring and studying the remains was handled with some sensitivity, particularly the eventual disposition of the remains -- they were removed from their original container (mud-soaked cruddy boxes or ossuaries) and given nice shiny new steel coffins.

Check out the "News From the Crypt" links in the link above to review the entire storyline.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Rio Grande artifacts may yield new clues

Archaeologists have discovered a cache of artifacts near South Padre Island they say could be up to 5,000 years old, potentially providing new clues about early peoples of the Texas coast.

The items, found in a protective clay dune about 6 feet underground, appear to be part of a fishing camp for a nomadic group of hunter-gatherers, archaeologist Robert Ricklis said. They include fragments of shell tools, chipped flint projectile points, and a fish earbone, or otolith, that can be analyzed for information about the bay environment of the time.

Ricklis said the find was significant because so little is known about the ancient Rio Grande Valley. Most early manmade items would have been eroded by sand and sea air, or washed out by the ever-changing course of the waterways of the Rio Grande basin near the Mexican border.

Don't we all Archaeologists crave important finds at Zhou Dynasty burial site

Chinese archaeologists hope to discover additional important relics from recently uncovered Western Zhou (1046-771 BC) cemetery to confirm existing findings and reveal new clues about the ancient dynasty.

The excavation on No 32 and No 18 tombs of the cemetery that was discovered earlier this year was approved by the State Cultural Relics Administration. Official digging at the tombs started on Sunday.

"It is the first time to open Western Zhou tombs that feature four tunnels showing they once belonged to high-ranking officials in that ancient dynasty and, their hosts may be the kings of the Western Zhou," said Zhang Tinghao, director of the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Administration.

Following news courtesy of the EEF.

Oh, sure

Egyptian mummy odour for sale "to help give displays a more authentic touch":

Trust us. Mummies stink.

Dr Hawass about the supposed "hidden chamber" in the Kheops pyramid:

The "annual occasion of the perpendicular sun fall on the face of
Ramses II's statue in the Temple of Abu Simbel" will get a special
celebration and a CD:

Dr Hawass about the supposed "hidden chamber" in the Kheops pyramid:
[Ed. You know, before we die we'd like to be able to say this: " On my first night in Paris I was fortunate to be dining with Omar Sharif."]

The "annual occasion of the perpendicular sun fall on the face of Ramses II's statue in the Temple of Abu Simbel" will get a special celebration and a CD:

"The Stela of Era of 400 Years" (JE 60539)
-- Drawing of the stela in: Revue archéologique, Nouvelle série, vol. XI (1865), pl. IV [between pp. 168 and 169] - this vol. also contains an early French translation by Auguste Mariette, La stèle de l'an 400, pp. 169-190
-- Hieroglyphic text and French translation
-- English translation in: James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. III, Chicago, 1906, sections 538-542
-- English translation by James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Princeton, 1969, pp. 252-253

Online version of: E.H. Cline, D. Harris-Cline( eds.), The Aegean and the Orient in the Second Millennium, Proceedings of the 50th Anniversary Symposium, University of Cincinnati, 18-20 April 1997, in: Aegaeum, vol. 18 (1998) - the articles can be downloaded as pdf-files.

Online version of: Lana Troy, Resource management and ideological manifestation. The towns and cities of ancient Egypt, in: The Development of Urbanism from a Global Perspective ("Urban Origins in Eastern Africa" final conference in Mombasa, 1993)
"Today's scholars ... present a vision of Egypt as a complex society incorporating a great diversity of communities, combining both rural and urban elements. An increasing focus on settlement archaeology has fuelled an interest in the social structure as well as the material remains of ancient Egyptian communities." - 58 pp., pdf-file: 168 KB

Just wait 6,000 years, he'll turn up Finder of Tyrol "Iceman" missing in Alps

The man who 13 years ago found the frozen remains of a prehistoric iceman in an Alpine glacier has disappeared in the snow-covered Alps with little hope of being found.

A member of the mountain rescue team at Bad Hofgastein in Austria told Reuters on Monday that Helmut Simon, the German man who found the 5,300-year-old mummified body while hiking on the border of Austria and Italy in 1991 has been missing for three days.

"There's a lot of snow up there," the rescuer, who did not want to be named, said about the 2,467-metre (8,000-ft) Garmskarkogel mountain in the Salzburg region, where Simon vanished. "We've looked everywhere. He was hiking alone."

Good article Archaeologist continues to dig up history

In the past 30 years archaeologists worldwide have visited the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County. The general public can now see what's involved in the archaeological dig that has proved the existence of early humans dating back 16,000 years.

"The site was opened last year for the first time to the public," said David Scofield, director of Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life. "We are now in the process of getting an architect to create a design for a permanent roof over the excavation. This will permanently protect the site and be more public-friendly."

Archaeologist James M. Adovasio and his crew began excavating the rockshelter located 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh in 1973. After uncovering 20,000 human artifacts and nearly 2 million animal and plant remains, Adovasio was able to disprove through the use of radiocarbon testing the widely held belief that the first humans on the North American continent crossed over from Asia at the Bering Strait and settled near Clovis, N.M., about 12,000 B.C.

It doesn't have nearly the caché of other sites ("See the rockshelter along the Cross Creek". . .nah) but its relative anonymity belies its importance. This was probably the site with the best, earliest claim for pre-Clovis habitation, but was never really recognized as such until Monte Verde came along. Most of the problems with the site (generally involving dating) were not particularly convincing in our view, and it should have been recognized long ago. Kudos to Adovasio for keeping at it.

Greek sarcophagus update Sarcophagus from 900 BC oldest yet found in Greece

Guy Sanders of the American School of Classical Studies discovered the oldest and heaviest sarcophagus ever found in Greece in Ancient Corinth. The 1.88x1.23x0.85-meter find weighs 2.3 metric tons and dates from 900 BC. It is made of stone and its discovery reveals that the ancient Corinthians were able to shift large stone masses 200 years earlier than hitherto known. The lid alone weighs 1.2 metric tons, The sarcophagus contained funeral gifts including 14 vases, cups, flasks and a knife.

Way cool find update Germany's Bronze Age Blockbuster

The 3,600 year old Sky Disk of Nebra -- the world's oldest image of the cosmos -- is the centerpiece of the biggest Bronze Age show of Europe, in the eastern German town of Halle.

It caused a world-wide sensation when it was brought to the attention of the German public in 2002, having been discovered in the state of Saxony-Anhalt two years earlier.

Now the Sky Disc of Nebra -- a bronze disc with gold-leaf appliques representing the sun, moon, stars and a ship -- is back in the limelight, at the opening of a blockbuster show entitled "The Forged Sky: The Wide World in the Heart of Europe 3,600 Years Ago."

But hey, the Sky Disk of Nebra just can't compete with the Small Piece of Porous, Blackened Pottery of Hutchinson Island Hutchinson Island artifact find the oldest yet

The oldest artifact ever found on the island -- a 4,000-year-old small piece of porous, blackened pottery -- was discovered Friday as archaeologists surveyed three newly uncovered American Indian graves.

Bob Carr, executive director of the Miami-based Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, said both the small pottery shard and the location of at least three graves in the rock south of Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge were exciting and historically significant.

There were probably many more graves, estimated to be at least 2,000 years old, on the property than the few exposed, he said.

"It's as if someone flipped open a door 2,000 years in the past that no one has ever seen before," Carr said. "It's in really good condition."

Big ka-freakin'-boom dept. Roman Comet 5,000 Times More Powerful Than A-Bomb

People living in southern Germany during Roman times may have witnessed a comet impact 5,000 times more destructive than the Hiroshima atom bomb, researchers say.

Scientists believe a field of craters around Lake Chiemsee, in south-east Bavaria, was caused by fragments of a huge comet that broke up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Celtic artefacts found at the site, including a number of coins, appear to have been strongly heated on one side.

CSI: Deerfield Beach

Archaeologists asked to solve cemetery mystery

It may appear to be ordinary soil, but some say a mystery lies beneath.

To hear old-timers tell it, this patch of land is hallowed ground that may still hold the bones of people who died long ago.

The wooden crosses that marked their graves have long since vanished, worn away by wind and rain. But pioneer families and historians say as many as 300 people, mostly poor black residents, were buried there from 1896 through the 1940s.

"That was a graveyard, I can tell you that much," said Deerfield Beach resident Edith Storr, 75, whose uncle once dug graves there.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Here's a few items. For some reason, we haven't received the weekly EEF news, but we'll post that whenever we get it.
Update: The official EEF computer has been down, hence no EEF news until probably early next week.

Missing muscles and average 'nads Michangelo's David Missing a Back Muscle

Michelangelo's David, the towering sculpture acclaimed for its depiction of male physical perfection, has a "hole" in the back, two anatomy professors announced at a recent conference in Florence.

Computer measurements of David's body taken by professors Massimo Gulisano and colleague Pietro Bernabei of Florence University show a hollow instead of a muscle on the right side of the back, between the spine and the shoulder blade.

. . .

Even David's genitals, which seem out of proportion to most viewers, are anatomically correct for a male body in a "pre-fight tension," the researchers said.

Males everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief.

Ruins wreck building plans

Construction workers for the American firm Bechtel found neolithic ruins which are more than 6 000 years old while building a highway in Romania, archaeologists said on Thursday.

"It is a surprising discovery of great importance for the region," Ion Stanciu, who heads a team of archaeologists, told AFP.

He said the ruins consisted of a funeral stone, the remains of several houses from the bronze age, and pieces of pottery.

"We are going to suggest to officials from Bechtel to consider building a museum to house these exceptional discoveries," Stanciu said.

News from Egypt Both pagan and Christian

Why not move the Temple of Khnum to the edge of the desert, and re-erect it a short distance from the Monastery of the Three Thousand Six Hundred Martyrs (Deir Manaos wa Al-Shohadaa) that stands at the foot of the limestone plateau to the west of the city? Here not only would the temple be quite safe from further damage, but the juxtaposition of these two monuments, with their roots in the same period of Egyptian history, would also provide a vivid insight into an important historical reality -- the persecution of the Christians under the Roman emperors who are depicted in the temple's reliefs.

Antiquities Market update Stolen relics go home to Egypt

More than 600 Egyptian antiquities flew back to Egypt from the UK on Thursday, four years after they were stolen and smuggled out.

Wadia Hanna from Egypt's prosecutor-general's office said the items were stolen before being shipped to London via Switzerland.

They were seized by British authorities at Heathrow airport.

They include two pharaoh coffins inscribed with hieroglyphics and ceramics from the Greek era.

We're not sure what this picture has to do with the story, but we rather approve of it.

Cool preservation once again ROMAN REMAINS WERE PRESERVED IN CLAY

PRICELESS Roman artifacts were preserved in Carlisle for thousands of years because they were encased in one and a half metres of waterlogged clay.

The objects – clothes, leather chariot straps and coins – would normally rot.

John Zant, of Oxford Archaeology North, said scientists have used specialist techniques to prove the objects recovered were originally from a Roman Fort established in the winter of AD 73.

He said: “The sticky layers of natural clay at the site mean there has been an unusual degree of preservation.

“We have a preservation period spanning 100 years, and the number and quality of the objects is outstanding.

Burial controversy Fate of burial site stirs emotions

Portsmouth, N.H., attorney John P. McGee Jr. finds it abhorrent to drive over the spot where untold numbers of black people were buried several hundred years ago in unmarked graves. He wants the city of Portsmouth to honor the site, even if it means shutting down a city street.

''What is disturbing to me is that a decision was made in the 18th century to pave over those graves and, in my opinion, desecrate them," said McGee at a public meeting in Portsmouth on the issue this summer. ''I don't care if they're African-Americans or some other ethnic group or Yankees; the fact that they were paved over and that now cars go over them is extremely disturbing to me."

Looks like they're working something out, which is good.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The age-old battle Treasure hunter, state battle over 17th century ship

A 17th century vessel under Lake Michigan, considered by some the Holy Grail of Great Lakes shipwrecks, may have been found, but its ownership is mired in a storm of a court battle.

Field Museum archeologists are analyzing the find, but were tight-lipped Monday.

"We do have a research interest in this ship,'' confirmed Field spokesman Greg Borzo. The museum has been consulting with Steven Libert, who discovered what may be Le Griffon at the entrance of Wisconsin's Green Bay, and with Michigan state officials, who are reportedly trying to gain control of the ship.

We reported on this earlier. Can't recall when, but we do recognize it.

Stairway to saltmines Europe's oldest wooden staircase found in Austria

A 3,000-year-old wooden staircase has been found at Hallstatt in northern Austria, immaculately preserved in a Bronze Age salt mine, Vienna's Natural History Museum said.

"We have found a wooden staircase which dates from the 13th century B.C. It is the oldest wooden staircase discovered to date in Europe, maybe even in the world," Hans Reschreiter, the director of excavations at the museum, told AFP.

"The staircase is in perfect condition because the micro-organisms that cause wood to decompose do not exist in salt mines," he added.

We're not sure a staircase is all that important to anyone, except that it's kind of cool and is yet another example of an environment where organics may be repserved indefinitely.

Experts to Explore Architecture, Lifestyle in 6,000-Year-Old Mound

Iranian archeologists are about to embark on an exploration project in the Marvdasht plateau in a bid to discover relics of architecture and recognize its inhabitants’ lifestyles, Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency reported.

Rahmat-Abad mound is one of the most historically significant settlements in Marvdasht, measuring 115 m in length and 75 m in width and 4.5 m in height. It is now defenselessly exposed to vehicles that pass along it on the road from Sa’adat-shahr to Marvdasht in the southern province of Fars.

We don't know the significance of this either, but, well, there you go.

Many mummies and artifacts discovered by French team in Al-Monira

The French team excavating at Kharga Oasis have made an archaeological discovery 8 kilometers from Al-Monira village.

The team unearthed a Greco- Roman cemetery embracing tombs carved in a sandstone hill.

The tombs which are irregularly clustered mostly comprise a small burial room 1.5 meters high and a burial well from 1 to 2 meters deep.

The facade of the tombs is made of white limestone jambs fixed with mortar.

Inside the tombs, the team found limestone and wooden sarcophagi in addition to a collection of sarcophagi made of sun-dried brick coated with gypsum.

We know, we know, Greco-Roman stuff, big yawn. But the Egyptian oases (Kharga, Dakhla, Bahariya, Fayum. . .) are fascinating areas to work in since they were geographically isolated to a certain degree from the main Nile valley. Plus, they're quite distinctly bounded areas so you can do nice settlement pattern work there.

Rare finds at archaeological site

Archaeological work in south east Cornwall is uncovering the history of the area.

A team from the county council working at Scarcewater near St Stephen-in-Brannel says its finds are significant.

Fieldwork has revealed a history of ceremonial and settlement activity at Scarcewater spanning five millennia.

The finds represent the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages, and include hearth pits, pottery, a stock enclosure and roundhouses.

DIg and dash They dug, dashed: One tribe's covert operations

Here's what probably happened, Donald Blakeslee says: One day, a band of farmers and hunters pulled on their walking shoes and hiked all the way to the southern Flint Hills, about 64 miles straight east.

They were trespassing, more or less; violating other people's property rights, which is still a serious matter in Kansas.

So the hunters stepped lightly.

Oddly written story, but interesting from the perspective of explaining how raw materials were obtained. Stone tool material was, in fact, very valuable to people who did not live near a source of the stuff so it is possible that they could have 'stolen' it. Why they just didn't establish a trading relationship is not explained.

Note: Chert really = flint. Chert is the general name given to a class of microsrystalline quartz, formed by the precipitation of silicates. 'Flint' is generally reserved for a particular sort of chert formed in chalks or very pure limestone, usually black or very dark gray. Jasper is also a form of chert.

Ha ha haaaaa. . .we'd never heard that pun before! "Can You Dig It?" A Fun Way To Learn About Archeology

Recently the Southern Oregon Historical Society held a fascinating event called "Can You Dig It?" This was a true hands-on archaeology experience where adults and children alike could get down and dirty. If you are captivated with "CSI" on television, here was a chance to do part of their everyday duties, such as plaster casting and piecing together broken remnants and more.

Certainly more fun than the first two years of graduate school. . . .


Move over Mick Aston and get ready to hang up your trowel Harding - there’s a couple of new kids on your archaeological block.

At the prestigious British Archaeological Awards in Belfast on October 8, organised by the Council for British Archaeology, Bethany Smith and Christopher Cannell were declared Young Archaeologists of the Year.

Organised by the Young Archaeologists’ Club, the award is now in its 27th year and aims to promote an understanding and appreciation of archaeology in the British Isles.

More stiffs Restoration of old courthouse halted by discovery of old cemetery

Restoration work on an old Cameron County Courthouse in downtown Brownsville has stopped.
That's after crews unearthed graves in an old cemetery while digging a utility-line trench in a county parking lot across the street from what's now called the Dancy Building.

Officials tell The Brownsville Herald that the graveyard across from the 1912 courthouse dates to 1848.

Texas Historical Commission executive director F. Lawrence Oaks says from two to four graves were disturbed in the graveyard, which he understands was abandoned in 1850. He's ordered all work halted until an archaeologist examines the area.

That's the whole thing.