Tuesday, November 09, 2004

There's gobs of news to catch up on, so we'll be posting snippets throughout the day.

Chicken Little vindicated Giant hail killed more than 200 in Himalayas

For 60 years the skeletal remains of more than 200 people, discovered in 1942 close to the glacial Roopkund Lake in the remote Himalayan Gahrwal region, have puzzled historians, scientists and archaeologists. Were they soldiers killed in battle, royal pilgrims who lost their way and succumbed to hypothermia, or Tibetan traders who died of a mysterious illness?

Now, the first forensic investigation of one of the area's most enduring mysteries has concluded that hundreds of nomads - whose frozen corpses are being disgorged from ice high in the mountain - were killed by one of the most lethal hailstorms in history.

Commemorating the dead, Neolithic style

A reinterpretation of Neolithic plastered skulls from Jordan, Syria, Israel and Turkey is changing the way scholars think about cult, death and the afterlife in the Neolithic and the ancient Middle East. Current findings, based on scientific studies as well as bioarchaeological evidence, support an interpretation of a funerary practice that focused on the special treatment of the skulls of adult females, males and children.

Good, long detailed article on a subject we'd never heard of before.

The Moravian Venus

THE LONGEST and the oldest period in the history of mankind is the second period of the Stone Age, known as the Paleolithic Age. It started one and a half to two million years ago, and lasted till the end of the last ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago.

During this immense period of time, mankind gradually adapted to new climate conditions and developed into the modern human beings we are today, populating all the continents, with the exception of Antarctica. But the number of people on the earth was still very small, that being one reason why there was little interference in nature.

Digging away at Mayan mystery

Archaeologist Kathryn Reese-Taylor, a University of Calgary professor, is currently digging into one of the most intriguing of all those many mysteries, a "lost" city that not only survived being caught between two warring Mayan superpowers but also may have blazed a new path culturally and linguistically.

Working with researchers from Australia and Guatemala, Reese-Taylor co-directs a team excavating the ruins of Naachtun, an ancient city situated at the geographical heart of the Mayan civilization.

The location in northern Guatemala — between the Mayan centres of Tikal and Calakmul, across the border with Mexico — is so remote that Naachtun has been rediscovered twice.

"It's completely unexcavated except for what we've done," says the 47-year-old archaeologist, the latest in a series of top Maya scholars at the university.

An honest headline Ancient Indian remains raise complex issues

On a ridge outside Morgantown, W.Va., work has stopped on a shopping mall while archaeologists excavate human remains found last month in an area where a group of Monongahela Indians once lived.

The remains are orphans, in a sense. There is no modern-day Monongahela tribe, and clear traces of the group disappear from the archaeological record before the arrival of European settlers.

Under a 1990 federal law governing the disposition of Native American remains, the status of such "unaffiliated" discoveries is left unclear.

Read the whole thing. It gives a good summation of what happens to "unaffiliated" remains and also touches on the complexity of aboriginal views on treatment of human remains, far from the monolithic stereotype some groups pretend to represent.

Ramesses, he is a-movin' Ramsses II to relocate temporarily to Giza Plateau in February

The giant statue of Ramses II will finally say farewell to its current noisy, fumy and bustling location in Cairo's most crowded square to rest in the Giza Plateau's Saqqara area, said Zahi Hawas, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The transporting operation will be carried out on February 1, 2005, Hawas said in statements on Saturday.

The new location will be temporary until the monolithic granite statue is positioned permanently at Ramaya Square in Giza at the entrance to the Grand Museum that will be built in the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, said Hawas.

Top finds on Bolivian highlands

Finnish scientists discovered the most significant relics of antiquity in recent Bolivian history.

In the excavations on Pariti Island in Lake Titicaca, in the highlands of Bolivia, the historical-archaeological research team of the University of Helsinki discovered a ritual offering site with well-preserved pieces of ceramics. The find adds substantially to what is known about the Tiwanaku culture, which flourished before the Incas and for which the island was probably an important religious site.

If this is an example of the ceramics they're finding:

Then, wow. Just plain, wow.