Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More from the Pacific Northwest Buried treasures: Archaeologists unearth 1800s-era artifacts from site located along the Columbia

Archaeologists are excavating a Columbia River site believed to be an early Chinook Indian village that could yield new information about the tribe and its relationship with fur traders of European descent.

The site dates to between 1800 and 1830, said Bob Cromwell, an archaeologist at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

"We don't have very many archaeological sites or artifacts representing this early period of the fur trade," Cromwell said. "It tells us about how active the Chinook were in trading in this early period."

Lost temple. . . .found! Ancient Apollo sanctuary found on uninhabited Greek islet

Hundreds of ancient objects from as far apart as Asia Minor (in modern-day Turkey), Greece, Egypt and Cyprus were discovered among the remains of a previously unreported, pre-Christian sanctuary on an uninhabited Greek islet in the Aegean Sea.

Archaeologists conducting excavations on Despotiko island since 1997 uncovered, among others, a valuable statuette dating from 680-660 BC, statue parts, tools, weapons, pearls, even an ostrich egg, the Greek culture ministry announced Wednesday.

The sanctuary was dedicated to ancient Greek god Apollo and was used as a place of worship from the 7th century BC to Roman times. Only the sanctuary's auxiliary buildings, but not the main temple, have been recovered so far.

That's the whole thing.

Well, here we go. McMaster Researchers Seek To Unlock The Mysteries Of Ancient Potters

In a remote village in southwestern Italy, Kostalena Michelaki stands over an open flame firing pots as would have been done more than seven thousand years ago.

By looking even deeper into the clay shards, the McMaster archaeologist will begin to understand the way Neolithic people lived, and in the process will dispel the myths and stereotypes surrounding ancient societies.

The making of ceramics is a long process, she says, as it requires the collection of raw materials (clays, inclusions, water and fuel), their preparation, the formation of the vessel’s shape, the finishing and decoration of the surface, drying and firing. "At each step potters have to make decisions about what material or tool to use and how to proceed," she says. "Their decisions are affected by several factors. Their environment will give them many or a few options of raw materials. The function for which they intend a vessel will also be important. A water jar must be able to hold water; a cooking pot must be able to withstand heat. Equally important will be the norms, traditions and organization of their society."

Materials science is becomg much more of a presence in archaeology. For a neat study on controlled engineering analyses of some southeastern ceramics see:
Feathers, J. K.
1990 Explaining the Evolution of Prehistoric Ceramics in Southeastern Missouri. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor.

Computer modeling lets scientists make virtual re-creations of ancient people, things

Dr. Douglas Robertson swears that one of the best vantage points for observing a 5,300-year-old Egyptian mummy mask is in his laboratory at UPMC Montefiore.

Make no mistake: The funerary mask of what may have been a noblewoman from the court of Ramses the Great is physically on display 550 miles away at the St. Louis Art Museum. But a full-color, three-dimensional model of the mask resides in Robertson's computer.

And only the computer model can be turned or flipped for viewing at any angle.

Update from Hierakonpolis Fixing the Fort at Hierakonpolis

Conservation isn't just a buzz word; it is a responsibility for all of us who cherish Egypt's ancient heritage. Our winter 2004 season at Hierakonpolis is dedicated to translating this word into action as we begin the stabilization and repair of the imposing structure we call the Fort, actually the Ceremonial Enclosure of King Khasekhemwy and the oldest freestanding mud-brick monumental structure in the world. (This project is made possible through a grant from the World Monuments Watch, a program of the World Monuments Fund.)

Rising up near the edge of the cultivated plain, the Fort dominates the low desert of Hierakonpolis. It is, in fact, our only standing monument, and if you can only have one, what a one to have! Approximately 67x57m (220ft x 185ft), with walls 5m (16ft) thick, it is still preserved in places to its original height of 9m (30ft). Decorated on its exterior with a series of pilasters creating a niched facade, the chief symbol of royalty at this time, it was originally plastered white. It must have been a striking sight in its time, and almost 5,000 years later, this monument stands as a testament to the abilities of its builder, King Khasekhemwy, the last king of the Second Dynasty (ca. 2686 B.C.). In form and monumentality, it is a direct ancestor of the great stone pyramid complexes of Egypt. And it is perhaps no surprise that the first of these--the Step Pyramid at Saqqara--was built by Djoser, his immediate successor and, appropriately enough his probable step-son.

The people working at Hierakonpolis keep posting regular updates both at Archaeology magazine and at their own web site.

civilisation parallel to Harappa? Experts wonder

Was Gujarat the cradle of an independent civilisation, contemporary of the classical Harappan civilisation around the Indus Valley? This view is gaining academic credence in the community of archaeologists specialising on the subject across the country. The Sorath (present Saurashtra) region civilisation, dating back to 3700 BC at some places, was distinct from the classical Harappan as it developed in the Indus Valley, say researchers in the field.

‘‘It maintained its separate identity in many ways even as a cultural, economic and technological exchange took place between the two,’’ said Professor Vasant Shinde of the Pune-based Deccan College Research Institute, while addressing a seminar on ‘Harappan Civilisation and Gujarat: Problems and Perspectives’.

And now for something completely different Cat headstone sells for £200,000

A stone carving that was used as a cat's headstone has sold for £200,000 at auction - five times its estimate.

The medieval limestone relief of St Peter was discovered at a quarry by a stonemason Johnny Beeston, from Dowlish Wake, Somerset.

He took it home and used it as a grave marker when stray tabby cat Winkle died. But when he himself passed away the stone was examined by a historian.

We can only hope that Winkle has a new headstone to mark his passing.

(Hattip to FFFFT)