Friday, December 10, 2004

We'll have the weekly spate of EEF news up later today.

The what? History haunts the Plain of Jars

Deep in the mountains of northern Laos is one of the most dangerous archaeological sites ever. The last remnants of an ancient civilisation are next to 30-year-old craters and unexploded US ordnance left by the greatest aerial bombardment of all time.

Little is known of the people who carved the huge sandstone containers that give the Plain of Jars its name. The purpose of the artefacts is not known though they are believed to be connected to burial rituals.

Ringed by mountains, the plateau is a magnificent place to spend eternity. The containers are gathered in seemingly haphazard clusters on promontories and levels, some upright, others fallen over. They reveal scant details of their origins.

We need a graduate student with expertise in spatial analysis over there. . .stat!

Scum. Thieves make off with Roman artifacts

Roman artifacts dating back more than 2 000 years have been stolen from one of Australia's top universities, police said on Thursday.

The thieves also broke a ceramic bowl from 200 BC during the burglary, the Australian Federal Police said.

The items were stolen from the Australian National University in the capital Canberra between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Police said the stolen items were valued at about A$300 000 (about R1,3-million), and included a bronze portrait head, a gold necklace, gold earrings, a gold ring with an engraved head, and a vase.

"One of the artifacts, a bronze head from the Roman Empire, was made in about 100 BC and is worth more than A$200 000 (about R900 000)," a police spokesperson said in a statement.

The spokesperson said police have appealed to collectors to come forward if they are contacted about the stolen goods.

That's the whole thing. We've always thought that there would be a market for really authentic reproductions of ancient crafts. Not cheesy ones that just kind of look like the real thing, but that are made in similar fashion with similar materials. Probably wouldn't stem the tide of antiquities dealing all that much, but it might give the lower end consumers access to historically accurate reproductions to put on their shelves instead of trying to buy the real thing on the cheap in the coutires of origin.

Heritage group starts running Roman Fort

BIRDOSWALD Roman Fort is now in the hands of English Heritage after an official hand-over ceremony this week.

A Roman legionnaire in uniform handed over a standard to symbolically mark the start of the fort’s new era with English Heritage.

The site was previously owned by Cumbria County Council.

The lake's progress

When the Greek colonisers and Roman cohorts -- and, later, the Persians and Arabs -- marched to and from Cyrenaica along Egypt's northern coast they all had one aim in mind -- to hold and control North Africa.

The road they followed was inland from today's coastal road -- this was not built until World War II. The older road has left an echo in the route of the modern railway line, which links the towns that thrived along the way. Many of these towns have roots embedded deeply in the past.

Nice long article. Read the whole thing.

Following the Trail of Ancient Louisianians

Known for Mardi Gras, jazz, and Cajun culture, Louisiana also has a wealth of Native American sites dating to as early as 4000 B.C. The most obvious remains of ancient peoples are the many mounds that can be seen throughout the state, in cotton and soybean fields, hidden in woods, or even under houses. In all, there are more than 700 mound complexes or individual mounds in Louisiana. Built over millennia, they include some of the oldest and best-preserved such structures in North America.

Now, this is interesting Tool use confirmed in monkeys

UK researchers have collected the first hard evidence of monkeys using tools, Science magazine reports.

Cambridge researchers observed wild capuchin monkeys in the Brazilian forest using stones to help them forage for food on an almost daily basis.

Scientists have already known for some time that capuchins use tools in captivity, but have only occasionally observed them doing so in the wild.

But the latest findings confirm that the tool use was habitual, or routine.