Monday, October 04, 2004

Gobs of news today, so multiple posts will probably take place over the day. Third post is probably the most interesting.


The commercial and political history in the ancient Mediterranean area is documented in the relics that are spread generously around the Capo Molini seabed, which is just north of Catania, between Acitrezza e Acireale. The results of the excavation carried out this summer in that part of the sea, between the coast and the Cyclops Islands were being presented by Edoardo Tortorici, an archaeologist at the University of Catania. He was speaking at the International Under-Water Archaeological Conference being held in Aci Castello. He said, "The findings that have been studied show the origins of the commercial system. Over the course of more than a thousand years, this operated along Sicily's eastern coast, from the archaic era of maritime trafficking with the ancient Greek colonies (from the 6th to the 1st centuries B.C..) up to the beginning of the Medioeval period (7th century A.D.).

No paragraph breaks, difficult to read. Kind of interesting though.

Nice pot Archaeologist based in San Marcos unveils new discoveries in Israel

Dr. Randall Price of San Marcos is a co-pastor at Grace Bible Church, so on weeks that he preaches, like any other pastor, he prepares a sermon that will retell a piece of the biblical past. But this particular pastor does a lot more than narrate history. In fact, he creates it.

Price - arch- aeologist, theologian, pastor, professor, father and husband - has just returned from an excavation in Israel, and as he begins to tell of his latest discovery, you realize you're speaking to more than just an inspiring preacher, but a man at the forefront of theological discoveries.

Hmmmmmmm. . . . Discovery keeps human origin debate alive

For decades, Federico Solorzano has gathered old bones from the shores of Mexico's largest lake - bones he found and bones he was brought, bones of beasts and bones of men.

The longtime teacher of anthropology and paleontology was sifting through his collection one day when he noticed some that didn't seem to fit: a mineral-darkened piece of brow ridge bone and a bit of jaw that didn't match any modern skulls.

But Solorzano found a perfect fit when he placed the brow against a model of the Old World's Tautavel Man - member of a species, Homo erectus, that many believe was an ancestor of modern homo sapiens.

The catch: Homo erectus is believed to have died out 100,000 to 200,000 years ago - tens of thousands of years before men are believed to have reached the Americas.

And archaeologists have never found a trace of Homo erectus in the Americas.

Key sentence: Most frustrating for archaeologists, who are accustomed to fussing over the tiniest details, is that nobody knows quite where the bone came from or even when it was found."

We admit having never heard of this before. The sentence quoted above makes it well-nigh impossible to evaluate it.

And in related news. . . Finder of first Peking Man skull commemorated in Beijing

An exhibition is being held in Beijing to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pei Wenzhong,the discoverer of the first Peking Man skull.

The exhibition, which showcases Pei's life and achievements, began Friday and will last through the end of the year. This year is also the 75th anniversary of Pei's discovery.

Born in 1904 in north China's Hebei Province, Pei was a famous prehistory archaeologist and paleontologist and a founder of China's studies in Paleolithic archaeology.

Another lost city, found Remains of Sanish surfacing in dry Lake Sakakawea

The town of Sanish, flooded 50 years ago when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Missouri River to create Lake Sakakawea, has started to reappear as years of drought have lowered the lake.

Corps archaeologist Steve Gilbert said about one-third of the town is visible, though there is not much left but building foundations and rubble.

"But for some of the old-timers who may have lived here and are still alive ... they would have a pretty good idea of what they're looking at," he said.

The federal government bought out the town, and it was evacuated in 1953. The 1950 census said Sanish had 500 residents.

Gilbert said the remains of the town are on federal land, and it is a crime to take anything from the site.

That's the whole thing.

From Egypt to Peru, archaeologists are unearthing breweries from long ago

Beer is nearly as old as civilization itself. It's mentioned in Sumerian texts from more than 5,000 years ago. Starting in the 1950s, scientists have debated the notion that beer, not bread, was actually the impetus for the development of agriculture. Nearly every culture around the world has invented its own local concoction. Historically, brewing was a home-based operation, as part of the preparation of meals. From South America to the Middle East, beer production grew in scale with the rise of organized societies, scientists theorize, and later became primarily a function of the state. Beer was given to laborers or soldiers, incorporated into religious ceremonies, and drunk by politicians at state functions.

Almost all of what scientists know about beer's history, however, is based on written evidence and drawings, including Egyptian hieroglyphs, Roman tablets, and European frescoes. Such works tell, for example, that thousands of years ago in Iraq, each city-state had its own brew master, says anthropologist James L. Phillips of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Archaeologists will date any old thing Marking time is a science at Berkeley center -- It devises ways to date nearly everything

When chemist Willard F. Libby discovered unexpected evidence that all the plants on Earth, both living and dead, were faintly radioactive, he opened an era of age-dating that has since seen extraordinary new techniques emerge to tell how old everything might be -- from mountains to fossil microbes.

Would you like to know how long ago the Pharaoh Sesostris III of Egypt sailed to the land of the dead aboard his funerary boat? Libby's "atomic clock" determined it almost exactly: It was 3,676 years ago, give or take a decade or two.

Do you want to know how long ago our earliest relatives on the human family tree lived in Africa's Great Rift Valley? Geochronologists in Berkeley can tell you that one branch of hominids inhabited a once-verdant site in now arid Ethiopia about 5.8 million years ago -- among the earliest prehuman remains discovered so far.

And then there's this: Arab scholar 'cracked Rosetta code' 800 years before the West

It is famed as a critical moment in code-breaking history. Using a piece of basalt carved with runes and words, scholars broke the secret of hieroglyphs, the written 'language' of the ancient Egyptians.

A baffling, opaque language had been made comprehensible, and the secrets of one of the world's greatest civilisations revealed - thanks to the Rosetta Stone and the analytic prowess of 18th and 19th century European scholars.

But now the supremacy of Western thinking has been challenged by a London researcher who claims that hieroglyphs had been decoded hundreds of years earlier - by an Arabic alchemist, Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn Wahshiyah.

'It has taken years of painstaking research to prove this,' said Dr Okasha El Daly, at UCL's Institute of Archaeology. 'I was convinced that Western scholars were not the first, and I have found evidence that shows Arabian scholars broke the code a thousand years ago.'

We vaguely remember linking, or at least reading, something on this a while back. If we recall correctly, there was some work on deciphering Egyptian glygphs by the Arab scholar noted in the piece, but the controversy regards how much of it he actually interpreted correctly. Did it lead to real translations, in other words. This was just posted on the EEF list and we will pass along any commentary on it.