Monday, October 25, 2004

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.