Thursday, November 04, 2004

'Maya Hunter' Expeditionary Vehicle Aids Archaeologists

A team of Maya archeologists from
Vanderbilt University received the keys to a jungle-ready 2005 Toyota Tacoma
Double Cab 4x4 V6 pickup at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)
trade show here today.
The customized truck, donated by Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. and
Off-Road Adventures magazine, will transport the archaeologists deep into the
jungles of Guatemala as they explore Maya ruins dating back as far as 500 BC.
In addition, Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., donated a Yamaha Rhino 660
two-person off-road machine, which will be towed on a trailer behind the
Tacoma. Introduced last year, the vehicle's side-by-side configuration
provides ample room for two archeologists and their tools. With a
liquid-cooled engine, fully independent suspension and push-button four-wheel
drive system, it will allow easy access into the deep-jungle terrain where a
smaller vehicle is needed to navigate narrow roads and tight trails.

Kind of a press release, but interesting. Note: We could really use something like this out in the Fayum Depression. . . .

2 prehistoric city sites discovered in Henan

Two prehistoric city sites have been discovered at the Puchengdian ruins in central China's Henan province, and one of them was confirmed by archeologists to be more than 4,000 years old and belong to the Longshan culture or late Neolithic cultures (3000 BC- 1700 BC).

The older city covers an area of more than 16,000 square meters,with the east, west and south walls still existing.

A well-preserved 5,000-year-old pottery kiln was unearthed in the relic city site, which comprised a kiln chamber, fireplace, workshop and ash pit. Archaeologists referred this to the first time such an ancient and well-preserved kiln was found in China.

Sunken treasure! Exotic Hindu statuettes discovered from Thames

The banks of the river Thames has yielded many exotic items, including a series of Hindu gods and godesses, some of which could be more than a century old.

The four deities discovered include Durga, Ganesha, Vishnu and Hanuman. The statuettes are made of stone or metal. Other discoveries include two metal plaques called yantras, one of copper alloy and the other silver plated.
Nikola Burdon of the Museum of London wrote in the London Archaeologist that the copper yantra has details of the nine planets, the silver one has a serpent entwining rows of numbers each of which adds up to 15.

Homage to Kent Weeks A pharaoh to remember

Kent Weeks, the American archaeologist charged with planning the rescue of the Valley of the Kings originally went to Egypt to make a map. While there, he poked around in a dirty, unimportant-looking hole in the ground and discovered the biggest tomb in the Valley of the Kings. In doing so, he secured a place for himself in the history of archaeology.

Weeks's career began in Nubia in the 1960s, salvaging stuff about to be submerged by the Aswan Dam, and at Giza and in the Nile delta. But it was in 1979 that he and his colleagues decided to make an accurate map of the 60-odd tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The earliest maps had been little more than fantasies: no accurate study of the whole valley had ever been done. He thought it would take a few seasons. "I'm always a hopeless optimist. I don't know where on earth I ever got that silly idea," he says. "And 20 years later, the project was finished."

Ancient cosmetics update Ancient Roman cosmetics resembled modern moisturizer

Fashionable women in ancient Rome applied a beauty cream that wasn't all that different from today's cosmetics, researchers say.

Archeologists in London found a rare pot with a lid containing a whitish cream that was in good condition. It was dated to the middle of the second century AD.

Chemist Richard Evershed of the University of Bristol and his colleagues determined the cream contained refined animal fat, starch and tin oxide.

Based on the analysis, the team then synthesized their own version of the white cream.

Artists' reconstruction of what a typical Roman woman would have looked like:

Original article here and the actual Nature paper is here. (Subscription required for both)

Artifact curation update Scientists pioneer biotech techniques to halt infestation of history, art treasures in tropics

The use of biotechnologies originally intended to remedy crop infestations and other problems is being pioneered in the protection of priceless art and historical archives in tropical countries from decay caused by insects, heat, humidity and other natural causes.

A specialized UN University program in Venezuela, UNU-BIOLAC, is leading the way in the application of biotech techniques to extend the life of some of the world's most important cultural heritage.

Art preservation protocols and strategies have largely been devised in northern countries with temperate weather. But the climate of the tropics and sub-tropics presents different, more complex challenges, including a huge variety of insects, bacteria and fungi that attack important sculptures, paintings, artifacts, photos, documents, records and books.

And finally, from Bahrain Golden anniversary of Bahrain expedition

Bahrain and its Persian Gulf neighbours have formally requested help from Denmark's Moesgård Museum on several new anthropological excavations in the region.

Archaeologists from Moesgård Museum have already begun digging in Bahrain for the first time in 25 years - at the same site where Royal Archivist P.V. Glob began his legendary 1953 expedition with Britain's Geoffrey Bibbi in the Falster-sized sheikdom.

Within five years of first breaking ground in Bahrain in 1953, the Danish-led team uncovered temples, palaces and city remnants from the drifting sands - and won international acclaim.