Monday, November 29, 2004

Welcome back from the long (for all you US readers) holiday weekend. And look, no lame stories on The First Thanksgiving from an archaeological perspective. You should worship us just for that.

Few items to start. We'll be catching up on all the news off and on, because there's so much of it.

Enough with the LOTR references already Hobbit defended against research Gollum

Australian scientists have dismissed as ill-informed claims that a member of a tiny new species of prehistoric human, known as Hobbits, found on the Indonesian island of Flores, was a modern human with a brain deformity.

Peter Brown, of the University New England, who was a member of the team that made the discovery, said the suggestion had come from a researcher who had not seen the specimen nor the archaeological site.

He said Maciej Henneberg, a palaeopathologist at the University of Adelaide, was not an authority on ancient hominids. "And his claims have not been peer reviewed."

Professor Henneberg told the journal Science that the Australian and Indonesian research team had "jumped the gun" in deciding the metre-high human that lived about 18,000 years ago was a member of a new species, Homo floresiensis.

He said the skull was similar to that of a 4000-year-old modern human found on Crete with a condition called secondary microcephaly, which causes a small brain.

We will stay on the side of the original scientists and accept for the moment that this is, in fact, a new species.

Plat 'em and plant 'em Renovation turns up old cemetery

Cameron County officials say they will try to relocate a downtown project's utility lines after the planned site turned out to be a forgotten graveyard. Construction workers in September dug up bodies under a county-owned parking lot across from the 1912 courthouse the county is renovating. Archaeologists believe the workers found the city's first platted cemetery, which they think dates to 1848 and has as many as 700 bodies. Debbie Head, spokeswoman for the Texas Historical Commission, said the state is willing to help find alternatives.

That's the whole thing, it's a small blurb on a page full of small blurbs.

We like to see this word in print Connecticut archaeologist an expert at rooting out historical hooey

The lost land of Atlantis has been discovered. Again.

In a press conference last week, a U.S. researcher named Robert Sarmast announced that his six-day expedition had detected evidence of man-made structures on the Mediterranean seabed off Cyprus. Not only had sonar scanners picked up the ghostly contours of walls and trenches on a rectangular landmass, he said, but these features matched the descriptions in the original account of Atlantis.

. . .

An archaeologist who has taught at Central Connecticut State University for more than 25 years, Feder rejects Sarmast's claim and the countless others that have come before it with the same simple argument _ namely, that Atlantis' only location was in the imagination of the man who first described it.

But that rationale hasn't prevented Feder from using the myth for his own purposes.

Indian campground may be excavated

An ancient Indian campground in the path of a proposed highway likely will have to be excavated before the roadway can be built, a state archaeologist said.

"We may have a site that is intact and isn't badly disturbed," said Mark Denton, director of the state and federal review section of the Texas Historical Commission's archaeology division.

Tests conducted during the 1990s found two layers of artifacts at the site, both within four feet from the surface.

Officials said the campground is on private property along the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, but would not be more specific.

Still waiting Santee tribe still waits for ancestor's remains

Chief William Koon is still waiting to throw the first shovels of dirt atop his ancestor's graves more than three years later.

The member of South Carolina's Santee tribe is trying to navigate government's red tape to get back human remains and other items unearthed from a mound in Clarendon County during the 1970s.

Koon has become discouraged at times, but giving his ancestors a proper burial is more important.

"It's extremely frustrating," Koon said. "You do think about giving up and saying the heck with it, but you can't do it."