Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Just a couple of items today so far. We may or may not have more later.

Joint Field School Publishes Findings from Excavations in Jordan

For 10 years, University of Arkansas students and professors have been digging up pieces of the past and changing the way archeologists view life in the Middle East during the first millennium. Now the U of A and Yarmouk University in Jordan have published the results of their initial years of excavation and study.

“Sa’ad: A Late Roman/Byzantine Site in North Jordan” was recently published by the Deanship of Research and Graduate Studies at Yarmouk University. It is the first of a series of monographs to be produced as part of the agreement between the U of A and Yarmouk.

The goal of the field school’s research project is to reconstruct the quality of life of the rural people from the Byzantine era, from about the time of Christ to A.D. 800. The evidence shows that these people had better health and more wealth than typically believed to be characteristic of rural Byzantine life, said professor Jerome Rose, who co-directs the field school at Sa’ad alongside professor Mahmoud el-Najjar of Yarmouk.

And from the same source. . . Catastrophic Flooding from Ancient Lake May Have Triggered Cold Period

Imagine a lake three times the size of the present-day Lake Ontario breaking through a dam and flooding down the Hudson River Valley past New York City and into the North Atlantic. The results would be catastrophic if it happened today, but it did happen some 13,400 years ago during the retreat of glaciers over North America and may have triggered a brief cooling known as the Intra-Allerod Cold Period.

Assistant Scientist Jeffrey Donnelly of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution presented the findings at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco today. Donnelly and colleagues analyzed data from sediment cores, walrus fossils and pollen to precisely date the discharge from Glacial Lake Iroquois down the Hudson River Valley at 13,350 years ago. The flood waters broke through a spot of land where the Verazanno Narrows Bridge now stands to reach the North Atlantic.

Fight! Fight! Archeologists accuse Mesa Verde of banning books

A group of archaeologists is accusing officials at Mesa Verde National Park of keeping titles off of the park's bookstore shelves for containing the term "Anasazi," a term widely used for the ancestral American Indians of the Four Corners region. Some tribes object to the term.

The Pecos Conference, an informal group of regional archaeologists, says books are being left out of park bookstores because they do not use the name "ancestral Puebloans," the term preferred by regional tribes.

Errrrrr. . . . Mystery of 'chirping' pyramid decoded (Subscription only)

A theory that the ancient Mayans built their pyramids to act as giant resonators to produce strange and evocative echoes has been supported by a team of Belgian scientists.

Nico Declercq of Ghent University and his colleagues have shown how sound waves ricocheting around the tiered steps of the El Castillo pyramid, at the Mayan ruin of Chichén Itzá near Cancún in Mexico, create sounds that mimic the chirp of a bird and the patter of raindrops1.

The bird-call effect, which resembles the warble of the Mexican quetzal bird, a sacred animal in Mayan culture, was first recognized by California-based acoustic engineer David Lubman in 1998. The 'chirp' can be triggered by a handclap made at the base of the staircase.

Upshot: The pyramid makes funny noises when noises are directed at it. The researchers think it might or might not have been designed that way. We think not.