Monday, December 20, 2004

Much to blog today, there will probably be several entries throughout the day. Sorry we missed last Friday. EEF news is coming shortly.

More on Hood Canal project Bridge project yields long-forgotten graves

At first, it was a few scattered shards. Soon, though, complete skeletons began to emerge. There were men and women whose arms and legs were entwined in a ritual embrace of death. There were entire families — babies, children, parents and grandparents, as many as 11 in one grave — who seemed to have died suddenly and had been buried together. Pandemics of smallpox and other white-man fevers probably caused the massive die-offs, archaeologists now say.

"In my opinion, there is no other archaeological site in the country that has a direct association with so many human remains," said David G. Rice, senior archaeologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle.

Shipwreck hunters worry about preserving history

The search team was still out on Lake Superior this fall when elation over finding a legendary shipwreck gave way to a sobering realization and then to a vow.

Team members decided to do what was necessary to protect the wreck of the Benjamin Noble, a freighter that sank in a wintery gale in 1914. Its 20-member crew died in the disaster.

"We look for shipwrecks kind of for fun, and we do it for the history. But we also respect these sites. And the Noble, it's a grave site. It's different from all the other wrecks we've found in that regard," said diver Randy Beebe of Duluth. "We want to make sure the Noble, and all wrecks, are preserved."

Not to worry Archaeologists fighting against time to save ancient sites from waters of Karun-4 Dam

As Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) has been rendered helpless by dam construction projects in the regions of ancient sites, the director of the study project of the Karun-4 Dam said here on Saturday that saving potential ancient sites that would be flooded by the reservoir of the dam will be the next mission for Iranian archaeologists.

We may be wrong, but we kind of doubt anything will actually be "lost" under the waters. More likely, it will be better preserved for posterity.

Scum Police find 100 stolen Roman artefacts

Police in southern Italy have seized some 100 ancient Roman treasures, from marble busts to vases, that were unearthed by archaeological scavengers and sold illegally to collectors.

A Naples police unit that specialises in archaeology raided homes, restaurants and hotels, said Lorenzo Marinaccio, the unit’s commander. The raids stemmed from an investigation of scavengers and traffickers.

The finds included a sarcophagus and busts of bearded men, all made of marble.


A Stone Age hand axe dating back 500,000 years has been discovered at a quarry in Warwickshire.

The tool was found at the Smiths Concrete Bubbenhall Quarry at Waverley Wood Farm, near Coventry, which has already produced evidence of some of the earliest known human occupants of the UK.

It was uncovered in gravel by quarry manager John Green who took it to be identified by archaeologists at the University of Birmingham.

So how come they find really cool, easily identifiable artifacts like this in Europe from 500,000 years ago, but anything older than about 12,000 here in North America is virtually all barely recognizable as man-made?

More good stuff from Iran Iran, France to cooperate in archaeology

Iran and France signed an agreement in Paris on Wednesday night to cooperate in archaeology.

According to the agreement signed for Iran by Head of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization Hossein Marashi and for France by its Minister of State for Cooperation, Development and Francophonie Xavier Darcos, the French experts are to offer educational and training courses for their young Iranian colleagues.

Marashi told IRNA that the French archaeologists who have been the first to carry out projects in Iran are still interested in cooperating with Iranian experts.

He also said that according to the agreement necessary measures to introduce Iran to French tourists will be taken in France as of next year.

He said it was also agreed that French experts would cooperate with Iran in building 10 new hotels in the country.

Marashi arrived in Paris Tuesday to explore avenues for cooperation between the two countries in such areas as cultural heritage, archaeology, tourism, museums and holding exhibitions.

That's the whole thing.

Mummy alert

Mexican archaeologists dig up ancient mummy

Mexican archaeologists reported on Thursday the discovery of a 2 300-year-old mummy of a female child along with some fabric, hair, feathers and plant remains in a dry, cold, high-altitude cave in the central state of Queretaro.

Archaeologists received a tip about some human remains in the cave in a mountainous area known as the Sierra Gorda. They searched the cave, located about 2 900 metres above sea level, and found the girl's mummified remains, which lacked one arm.

"This is one of the oldest mummies to have been found in Mexico," according to a press release from the Templo Mayor Museum, part of the National Archaeology and Anthropology Institute.

More on the flute story
Plus a picture!

After the hunt, ice age man chilled out - with a flute

He is better known for his hunting skills, but now it appears that ice age man did not merely chase prey - he was also fond of music.

German archaeologists revealed yesterday that they had discovered one of the world's oldest musical instruments, a 35,000-year-old flute carved from the tusk of a now-extinct woolly mammoth.

The flute was dug up in a cave in the Swabian mountains in south-western Germany, and pieced back together again from 31 fragments. Its discovery suggests that ice age man, who roamed across Europe during prehistoric times, had precocious aesthetic talents, and probably discovered music far earlier than previously assumed.

Artifact source debated

Treasure hunters who collected artifacts from Lewes Beach over the last month had an opportunity Thursday to have them cataloged by archaeologists from the state Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

The documentation sessions took place at the Zwaandael Museum on Savannah Road in Lewes.

Pottery shards, broken bottles and crockery have been found on the beach following an offshore dredging and beach replenishment effort by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Fight! Fight! The Indus Script--Write or Wrong? (Subscriber-only, unfortunately)

Academic prizes typically are designed to confer prestige. But the latest proposed award, a $10,000 check for finding a lengthy inscription from the ancient Indus civilization, is intended to goad rather than honor. The controversial scholar who announced the prize last month cheekily predicts that he will never have to pay up. Going against a century of scholarship, he and a growing number of linguists and archaeologists assert that the Indus people--unlike their Egyptian and Mesopotamian contemporaries 4000 years ago--could not write.

That claim is part of a bitter clash among academics, as well as between Western scientists and Indian nationalists, over the nature of the Indus society, a clash that has led to shouting matches and death threats. But the provocative proposal, summed up in a paper published online last week, is winning adherents within the small community of Indus scholars who say it is time to rethink an enigmatic society that spanned a vast area in today's Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan--the largest civilization of its day.

Too bad, it's a nice article.