Wednesday, October 20, 2004

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.