Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Bronze Age Site Discovered at Gas Company Dig

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is the most comprehensively-dated Bronze Age site in Britain, it emerged today.

The 29 cremations pits and a number of artefacts were uncovered by chance during the installation of a gas pipeline in Aberdeenshire.

The pits include 10 pottery urns containing ashes of children and adults and two golden eagle talons.

The talons are of particular archaeological importance as they have never been excavated from this period before.

Ming Dynasty coffin uncovered

An ancient tomb uncovered by construction workers in Yangpu District last Friday contains the remains of someone who lived during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), local archaeologists announced yesterday.

Two archaeologists, with the help of several construction workers, yesterday opened one of two coffins found at the site, unearthing a body covered by four shrouds and about 13 belts.

"It is one of the best preserved bodies from the Ming Dynasty ever found in Yangpu District, particularly its skeleton," said He Jiying, an archaeologist with the Shanghai Cultural Relics Management Commission who worked on the site.

She said she is certain the tomb was made during the Ming Dynasty because the coffins were covered by two large stone boards-a typical way of arranging tombs during that period.

Scientists still haven't taken a good look at all the contents of the coffin, which is filled with water and mud. It will take two to three days to work out the detailed features of the tomb.

The tomb was found accidentally by workers in the Yangpu Dushi Industrial Park on Yinhang Road last Friday.

"I assumed the site was an ancient tomb because it was much harder than normal underground, which is mainly made of soft earth," said Wang Jiding, a construction manager on the project.

That's the whole thing. We figure there will be an inordinate number of discoveries coming out of China in the next few years as we A) Actually hear about them for a change, and B) They do gobs more construction.

Peking Man's digs gets archaeological redo

The first phase of work to reinforce caves where the 500,000-year-old Peking Man was found has been completed, with six relic sites threatened by collapse successfully saved.

The project at the Zhoukoudian area, a World Heritage site 50 kilometres southwest from downtown Beijing, started in July after archaeologists reported 21 areas at the site inn danger of geological calamity.

The second work phase will be carried out next year,protecting a further group of seven ruin sites, according to the Zhoukoudian management.

Disturbing, but important Archaeologists needed in investigation of mass graves

Beyond the flashy advertisements aimed at luring additional recruits for the U.S. military is a stark, help-wanted notice posted on the Internet by the Justice Department and the Archaeological Institute of America:

The government is looking to hire up to seven archaeologists to assist in a widening investigation and excavation of mass graves and suspected grave sites in Iraq.

The new recruits would be part of a second deployment of investigators and forensic analysts who have been assembling a catalog of evidence expected to be used against Saddam Hussein in his upcoming trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

This is, unfortunately, one of those areas where archaeological expertise cna be very useful indeed. Since we are more or less trained to excavate, among other things, burials and doing so in a manner that preserves the context of the burials and associated objects, the connection to recently buried bodies is evident. Most of this is covered under forensic anthropology though, not archaeology generally, and most of the people doing it are physical anthropologists. See's Forensic and Human Skeletal Archaeology page for lots of links to sites and online articles.

We'll also put a special plug in for Fascinating site. Especially click on the "Stroll through our online cemetery" link and look at random tributes. There are numerous search functions as well to look for famous people in your area or to find where famous (and not so famous) people are buried as well. The site seems to be responding very slowly at the time of this writing though.