Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Blogspot was terribly finicky yesterday so we were unable to get through to post anything past mid-morning. Here's some stuff we had in waiting. We'll be tossing up more as it comes in today.

Iranian archaeology update Ancient Iranian site shows Mesopotamia-like civilisation

Shellfish is not seen on most Iranians dining tables but it was part of the daily diet of the inhabitants of ancient Jiroft in southern Iran 5,000 years ago that showed the existence of an ancient civilisation.

Jiroft, located in Kerman province, is one of the richest historical areas in the world, with ruins and artefacts dating back to the third millennium BC and with over 100 historical sites located along the approximately 400 km of the Halil Rood riverbank, according to Mehr news agency.

Many Iranian and foreign experts see the findings in Jiroft as signs of a civilization as great as Sumerian and ancient Mesopotamian. They believe that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratta that was described as a great civilization in an Iraqi clay inscription.

Jiroft came into the spotlight nearly three years ago when reports of extensive illegal excavation and plundering of priceless historical items of the area by local people surfaced.

Ignore the headline 3,000-year-old Embryo-Like Skeletons Found in Bulgaria

Bulgarian archeologists have discovered 3,000-year-old human skeletons, just weeks after Europe's oldest skeleton was unearthed in the country.

The skeletons, discovered near the village of Moguila in the district of Yambol, are about two meters tall, which is unusual for the people who inhabited the region in the Early Bronze era.

The skeletons are balled up in an embryo position, which, ancient peoples believed, immortalized the soul, archeologists explained.

The people came to the region from the Black Sea steppe and after mixing with the locals gave birth to the Thracians.

Bulgaria's ancient Thracian heritage has been put in the spotlight this year with a number of key archaeological discoveries in the so-called "Valley of the Thracian Kings".

We figure they mean "fetal". As in, buried in the fetal position. That's the whole thing, too.

Applied archaeology update The Rise and Fall of the Mayan Empire

Where the rain forests of Guatemala now stand, a great civilization once flourished. The people of Mayan society built vast cities, ornate temples, and towering pyramids. At its peak around 900 A.D., the population numbered 500 people per square mile in rural areas, and more than 2,000 people per square mile in the cities -- comparable to modern Los Angeles County.

. . .

Sever, NASA's only archeologist, has been using satellites to examine Mayan ruins. Combining those data with conventional down-in-the-dirt archeological findings, Sever and others have managed to piece together much of what happened:

Recall once again that much evidence now suggests that the abundant rain forest now seen across the Maya region is probably of recent origin, and that, were one to go back to the Classic period, one would probably see very little rain forest.

Also another good example (of very few unfortunately) where archaeologists might be able to assist modern people. Rare, but neat when it happens.

Neat article Garbage betrays date of earliest village life

It is amazing what you can find rifling through someone’s rubbish. You can even work out that people didn’t settle into permanent village life as early as once thought.

The first permanent human settlements are found in the Levant region which borders the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. But precisely when and why people made this transition is the subject of fierce debate.

“Virtually every possible explanation has been advanced,” says archaeologist Philip Edwards of La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

And another one! British farming? Thank the French

No individuals have shaped Britain's landscape more profoundly than its farmers. They turned a forested wilderness, peopled by hunter-gatherer tribes, into a land of hedges, fields and orchards.

Yet the identity of the first people to begin this land-shaping has been shrouded in mystery. Scientists once thought farming was brought by invaders. More recently, some argued it was imported as an idea that only gradually spread across the country.

But now scientists are putting together evidence that paints a surprising picture: that farming arrived as an already sophisticated set of practices imported by continental entrepreneurs.

Note the bit about the longhouse design being different from standard ones from earlier, aboriginal people. That's a good example of how migration of people is differentiated from migration of ideas.

Archeological find won't deter plans for veterans memorial

Archeologists unearthed more than 1,000 artifacts during a recent exploratory dig on the Town Hall's front lawn. But the salvaged pieces of history won't stop a planned veterans memorial park from being built on the site.

Heidi Savery, director of the Robbins Museum of Archeology, said nothing of critical historic importance was found. The museum, on Jackson Street in Middleborough, serves as headquarters for the Massachusetts Archeological Society.

Savery said it's ''important to know they're not going to go in and destroy something significant. The worst thing that can happen is to have bulldozers come in and find a village."

And finally, a look at Hagar the Horrible's temples

A new look at Hagar Qim Temples

Various studies have been carried out and various theories have been proposed on the Maltese prehistoric temples, such as what the buildings were used for, what rituals were carried out in them, the methods used in their construction, their decoration, their alignment, the type of roofing they may have had, the society that built them, and so on. However, during this presentation we shall be taking a step back from these studies to look at the actual monuments themselves and how much we know about the physical remains we are using as evidence for these prehistoric studies.

Each generation of archaeologists, curators, conservators and restorers has left their mark on the temples so these monuments have changed through time. Therefore the prehistoric monuments we see today consist of the original prehistoric structures as well as the various elements that were introduced in them as part of past conservation and restoration interventions.