Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Bloomington, Indiana- The Indiana University Art Museum is pleased to
announce an upcoming exhibition entitled Egypt after Alexander: Art
under the Greeks and Romans beginning on March 27, 2004. More than
two hundred objects drawn from the IU Art Museum collections are
presented in this exhibition, most of them never displayed before.

Included are large Egyptian-style and Greek-style sculptures that are
keys to understanding the art of Egypt in Greek and Roman times;
among these are royal and private portraits in marble, basalt,
granite, and limestone. As important to our story, albeit on a
smaller scale, are coins with portraits of the Ptolemies; and a rare
group of gem portraits carved in a single Alexandrian workshop. Small
sculptures in bronze, stucco, terracotta, ivory, and faience, as well
as examples from our large jewelry collection, emphasize aspects of
artistic continuity and transformation.

Link to the source here. May be university-restricted.

Online journal update: The first issue of PalArch is now up and available! Included are 3 papers on vertebrate paleontology, 3 on Egyptology, and several book reviews. Also check out the Newsletter and the article written by Pat Shipman, "Telling Science":

What is telling science? Telling science is the same as telling a story, except the subject is a fundamentally important story that affects all of our lives. I want to root my stories in my readers' and listeners' minds so deeply that science will flourish there is perpetuity. To me, science is more than a body of knowledge, it is a way of thinking. Born of curiosity, nourished by discovery, science is a marvellous way of finding things out, of making sense of the world. Now, early in the 21st century, I am ever more convinced that the language of science is one in which we must all become fluent.

Antiquities market update: Egypt bails jailed French archaeologist

CAIRO, March 30 (AFP) - A French archaeologist charged with trying to smuggle antiquities out of Egypt was ordered released on bail Tuesday after seven months in custody awaiting trial, his lawyer said.

The criminal court in the second city of Alexandria agreed to bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds (around USD 800) after the French consulate gave an undertaking he would not flee the country, said Samira Soufiane, counsel for Stephane Rousseau.

Chance find sparks rethink on country's earliest settlers

THE chance discovery of a remarkable collection of ancient flint tools, high in the foothills of the Cairngorms, has forced archaeologists to completely review their knowledge of Scotland’s earliest settlers.

Until now, it was widely believed that the first people to settle in Scotland, 7,000 years ago, lived a semi-nomadic existence near to the coast or along fertile river valleys.

However, the discovery of more than 80 pieces of worked flint and quartz in a remote glen in the heart of the Cairngorms has provided the first evidence that the early nomadic hunters were capable of undertaking arduous journeys to cross some of Scotland’s highest and most dangerous mountain passes in search of their prey.

Forensic Anthropology'The Bones Tell the Story': Revealing History's Darker Days

Fredy A. Peccerelli spends his days exhuming mass graves and examining the bones of murder victims, hoping that the dead will speak to him.

A forensic anthropologist, Mr. Peccerelli, 33, combines elements of pathology, archaeology and anthropology to solve crimes.

Human rights organizations employ forensic anthropologists to document war crimes and human rights abuses. Mr. Peccerelli, director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, has investigated the deaths of thousands of civilians killed in the civil war in Guatemala from 1960 to 1996.

"What we do is all about life," he said here last month on a break at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "It's about people. This is about applying scientific knowledge for everyday human issues."

Archaeologist examines site of Bolivar County Indian village

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The exact spot where Indians once lived in the Bolivar County area has been the site for an archaeological dig for the past several months.

John Connaway, an archaeologist with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, has been working to uncover the lives of area Indians who lived in Bolivar County more than 1,000 years ago.

"The Delta has one of the richest concentrations of archaeological remains in the country," Connaway said. "The Winterville mounds are the fifth largest mounds in the U.S."

Dastardly dentists! No compensation from Neanderthal tooth fairy

Dusseldorf - Germany's most primitive teeth have gone missing from the Neanderthal Museum, and embarrassed staff admitted on Monday they had not noticed at first, but thought the dentures were out of the display case to be cleaned.

The milk tooth from a 12-year-old (Neanderthals were late developers) and an adult molar were discovered in 2002 during an archaeological dig at Mettmann, near Dusseldorf, on the spot where the first Neanderthal skeletal remains were discovered in 1856.

The museum on the site is a major tourist attraction, with mock-ups of homely Neanderthal caves and hunting scenes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Not strictly archaeology, but cool nonetheless Polar Dinos Spotlighted in "Dinosaurs of Darkness" Exhibition

If famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen trekked across Antarctica a few hundred million years earlier, he may never have returned to reveal the details of the world's underside. Cryolophosaurus ellioti might have eaten him for dinner.

The 22-foot-long (7-meter-long) carnivore with an unusual crest on its skull was one of several dinosaurs that thrived in the extreme polar regions of the world. Though the climate was warmer then than it is now, the dinosaurs endured months of darkness and temperatures that plunged below freezing.

For the last two decades a handful of dinosaur hunters have been chipping fossils from the ice in Antarctica, pulling them from mines dug especially to find the bones in Australia, excavating them from streambeds in New Zealand, and digging them out of frozen riverbanks in Alaska and the cold steppes of Patagonia.

These fossils, skeletal reconstructions, and models and paintings of polar dinosaurs' ancient world went on display in the U.S. last Thursday at the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington. Cryolophosaurus greets visitors with its teeth bared.

Museum may move to Boca

A cultural icon that has served Broward for 25 years may be on its way to Palm Beach County.

And the woman who founded it may see her role diminish.

The board that organizes activities and runs staffing at Dania Beach's Graves Museum of Archaeology and Natural History is seeking to dissolve itself. But not until after approving another board's sale of the museum building.

Under those moves, the role of Gypsy Graves, 74, the museum's founder and namesake, is uncertain.

Ancient Greek athletic games to be revived at UC Berkeley archaeological site

BERKELEY – Just weeks before the 2004 Summer Olympic Games begin in Athens, ancient footraces that gave birth to the Olympics will be revived in a tiny Greek town 80 miles away — the result of more than 30 years of research by the University of California, Berkeley.

In Ancient Nemea, where the campus continues to excavate an athletic site used some 2,300 years ago for the original Panhellenic Games, more than 1,000 people from around the world are expected to converge on July 31 to sprint barefoot and in tunics down the same track used by ancient Greeks.

Torchbearer Valery Borzov, a gold-medal sprinter at the 1972 Olympic Games, watches as the flame he has lighted on the Altar of the Nemean Games takes hold.

Today (Tuesday, March 30), the Olympic torch, lit five days ago in Olympia, Greece, passed through Ancient Nemea beneath overcast skies and entered the 45-acre archaeological site. There, in a stadium crowded with more than 5,000 people, Ukranian Valery Borzov, a 1972 Olympic gold medalist in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, ran with the torch past the flags of Greece, the United States and the University of California, through the ancient entrance tunnel and onto the track.

Museum announces innovative research project

A Pennsylvania museum has received over three hundred grand to mine a rich collection of American Indian artifacts, including ethnographic and archaeological materials.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology said they have been awarded a three-year, $301,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support an innovative research experience for undergraduates. The title of the project is "Native Voices, Past and Present, Studies of Native American Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology."

Monday, March 29, 2004

Thank God it was a ship Nelson's great love found at the bottom of the ocean

ADMIRAL Horatio Nelson’s favourite ship, on which he is said to have seduced Lady Hamilton and lost an eye in battle, has been found off the coast of Uruguay.

International treasure-divers said yesterday that they had found HMS Agamemnon, a 64-gun vessel which was the pride of Britain’s naval fleet when it went down in 1809.

Plans are now being made to lift the ship from its watery grave following the multi-million-pound deep-sea exploration.

Uruguayan millionaire Hector Bado, the operation’s backer, hailed the find as "akin to finding the Holy Grail". He said: "This is one of the most important maritime finds in history."

Erosion threatening Civil War earthworks

CHARLESTON, S.C., Mar 25, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Defensive earthworks built in the Civil War are slowly giving way to erosion, creating an outdoor laboratory for a U.S. geologist.

The earthen fortifications near Charleston, S.C., some up to 12 feet high and as wide as a football field, offer a unique opportunity to study the decay of large earthen constructions, because very detailed measurements are available from the war's end in 1865, said University of Cincinnati doctoral geology student Reuben Bullard Jr.

Fight! Fight! Honour at stake in Bannockburn rematch

A SECOND Battle of Bannockburn is raging but this time, rather than the massed ranks of English and Scots, the combatants are two television archaeologists and a museum curator.

The ‘rematch’ of this most celebrated victory of Scottish brains over English brawn is over three sharp wooden stakes that have long been regarded as the only known artefacts recovered from the battlefield.

The Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling has proudly displayed the stakes, which were discovered in 1923, for many years.

They are said to have been among those planted in shallow, covered pits with the intention of impaling English cavalry horses and their riders.

But carbon-dating tests of the spikes carried out during the making of the BBC archaeological programme Two Men in a Trench has produced a shock: they are more than 8,000 years old. That means the ‘stakes’ were in existence around 7,300 years before Robert the Bruce’s 1314 rout of the army of King Edward II.

This quote significant:

"The BBC team said they could not have been used as spikes because there were no markings on them to indicate the wood had been sharpened.

"But that does not mean to say they were not used because the wood might not have needed sharpening anyway. . ."

She has a point (heh. So to speak. . .) It is possible that old wood was actually used at the time. It's a problem in general for C-14 dating. What the technique actually dates is the isolation of the carbon reservoir. That is, crudely, when the entity (tree, animal) died. So theoretically a person could have picked up a couple of 8k year old sticks and used them as spikes.

This problem has cropped up before. In the debate over the first entry of humans into the Americas, the "Old Crow flesher" was initially thought to represent a bone tool that was dated to ca. 26-27,000 BP (considerably older than the 12k BP earliest date then known). Most have since agreed that the bone itself was, in fact, 26-27k years old, but only modified into an artifact much later. A paper dealing with these issues can be found here. (I think this is a freely available link)

The other aspect to take note of vis a vis what C-14 actually dates is contamination. The definition above specifically refers to the isolation of a carbon reservoir. That is, no new carbon enters the object. This is where contamination becomes an issue. If carbon (say, old carbon from nearby coal) enters the object, it is no longer isolated.

So remember when reading about C-14 or other dating methods: What you are really dating is a particular event in the life of the object, not the object itself, and the event that you date may not necessarily be the event you really want to date.

Speaking of which. . .Carbon dating tells tale of Lima Lake

Archaeologist Steven Tieken of Quincy spent five years carefully excavating material from a 30- by 60-foot patch of ground near Lima Lake in the northwest corner of Adams County.

Now, for the first time, he has scientific evidence to back up his contention that the site was occupied nearly 2,000 years ago by a Middle Woodland culture.

The evidence is in the form of carbon-14 dating performed by scientists with the Illinois State Geological Survey's Radiocarbon Department at the University of Illinois.

Tests conducted on material taken from two trash pits at the Lima Lake site showed one pit dates back to 78 A.D. and the other to 540 A.D.

The Middle Woodland period lasted from 200 B.C. to 300 A.D., while the Late Woodland period went from 300 to 550 A.D.

Tieken said the test results are significant because they identify a minimum range of dates that the site was occupied by a small band of Native Americans who lived off the land by hunting, fishing and gathering nuts and other natural foods.

Museum storage crunch damages artifacts
98 percent of collection in holding; lack of organization, cataloging compounds issue

With boxes of bones, fragments of fossils and crates of ceramics, the hundreds of thousands of objects tucked away in the labyrinthine basements below Penn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology appear to have come straight out of an Indiana Jones archaeological adventure.

However, unlike the Holy Grail from Indy's adventures which was displayed for the whole world to admire, many of Penn's valuable artifacts are relegated to subterranean basements and hidden storage rooms, where they are frequently damaged and often remain unseen by the general public for decades.

"Virtually none of the collection is on display," said one of the museum's former summer interns. "The storage areas are filled with absolutely beautiful vases, jewelry and other objects which will never be displayed and are sitting there, rotting and decaying in the same bags they have been in since they were excavated."

Women-Only Language Reemerges

March 29, 2004 — In late April, Chinese archivists will unveil a rare collection of items featuring Nushu, a mysterious ancient language created by, and exclusively for, women.

The exhibition, to be held at the provincial archive of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, appears to be part of a growing effort within China to both recognize and preserve Nushu, which many scholars feared was on the verge of extinction.

Olympic flame lit ahead of Athens Games

ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece — The flame that will burn at the Athens Games was lighted Thursday amid the ruins of the ancient sanctuary where the Olympics were born 2,780 years ago.

In a ceremony held at an altar to Hera, a Greek goddess worshipped in Olympia during the original games, the torch was lit by a Greek actress playing the role of a high priestess.

Thalia Prokopiou, one of two dozen women that took part in the ceremony, placed a silver torch inside a burnished-steel concave mirror. The sun's rays then ignited the torch.

"Today the Olympic flame will be reborn yet again to enfold the whole world in its light. This is the day that all of us have been waiting for so eagerly," Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, president of the Athens organizing committee said.

Seems like an awful long way to carry the damn thing just to get it from Olympia to Athens. . . .

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Crews discover entire Indian village

The site where Indians once lived in the Bolivar County area has captured the interest of local archaeologists over the past few months.

John Connaway, an archaeologist with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, has been working to uncover the lives of area Indians who lived in Bolivar County more than 1,000 years ago.

"The Delta has one of the richest concentrations of archaeological remains in the country," Connaway said. "The Winterville mounds are the fifth largest mounds in the U.S."

Fla. Company Gets Shipwreck in Ruling

TAMPA, Fla. - A federal judge has given full ownership of a Civil War-era shipwreck to Florida explorers who say the site may yield one of the richest sunken cargoes in history.

Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa discovered the wreck of the SS Republic last summer and has already plucked 52,000 gold and silver coins from the site in the Atlantic about 100 miles southeast of Savannah, Ga.

Early estimates put the collectors' value of the coins at $120 million to $180 million. Discovery of more coins is expected to push the amount even higher.

Odyssey, which already held salvage rights, petitioned for title to the wreck after reaching a $1.6 million settlement with a company that had insured the paddlewheel steamer and its cargo and paid claims after it sank in a hurricane in October 1865.

What to make of this? I don't know at the moment. But I'll post something about it later.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Conservation update Archeological sites fade

LYON TOWNSHIP — A school to be built along 10 Mile Road will eventually provide an environment for young minds to be exposed to the world’s wonders.

What people may not know is that it’s being partly built over a 4,000-year-old archeological site that may have provided information about some of the area’s prehistoric residents.

The site is one of 12 in Lyon Township little examined by archaeologists, and where either human remains or artifacts have been found over the years. History buffs and even state officials acknowledge such sites are disappearing quickly.

The truth about an epic tale of love, war and greed

The legend of Troy has an enduring grip on the imagination. Aidan Laverty talks to the scientists who say they have proved that a siege really took place

It's one of the greatest stories ever; the tale of a war fought over the love of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world.

Now as Hollywood breathes fresh life into the myth, archaeologists have uncovered new evidence from the site of Troy that brings us closer than ever to the truth behind this ancient legend.

Good article. Further illustrates the power of remote sensing to assist in locating buried structures and deciding the most productive places to dig.

Move to restore city's 'lost castle'

Excited archaeologists in Newry have been given a grant to bring Bagenal Castle back to its former glory.

The 12th Century building was hidden under a former bakery in the County Down city.

The former Cistercian Abbey was converted into a castle in the 16th Century during the Plantation.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given a £1.5m grant towards the £2.3m project, which will also see the refurbishment of an adjoining 19th Century warehouse - set to become the new home of the city's museum.

Project manager, architect Kevin Baird, said: "This is a wonderful story of finding something which the people of Newry thought they had lost hundreds of years ago," he said.

Cue, Indiana Jones theme College students to search for lost city

Students in Professor Michael Kolb's archeology course this summer face a single assignment - digging through a hilltop for a lost city.

In May, the Northern Illinois University professor will lead students to western Sicily to search of artifacts of indigenous people.

For the monthlong trip, the students get six credit hours. They also get experience they couldn't find in a textbook.

"You get to learn what it's like to be a real archeologist, working with your interpretive skills," said master's student Michael Kamin of Hanover Park, who went to Sicily twice as an undergraduate.

Iraq Museum update Reopening of Iraq's National Museum in a year

Iraqi culture minister says Iraqis must see National Museum's treasures first before they are sent abroad.

Iraqi culture minister Mufid al-Jazairi says Iraqis should first have a chance to view the archeological treasures held by a reopened National Museum before they are sent abroad.

"The reopening of the museum will take place within a year to show Iraqis the treasures of Nimrod, which the people have never seen because Saddam Hussein hid them," Jazairi said.

PR concerns should dictate using the 'Nimrud spelling. Otherwise, our view of the ancient Nimrodians will be somewhat colored:

And for those interested in the most obtuse trivia imaginable, this is also a Nimrod:

Another battle over Zeugma’s heritage

March 26 - The ancient city of Zeugma located on bank of the biblical Tigris River is once more making news but this time it is not over the dam lake that inundated most of the city but efforts to move many of its famous mosaics.

Once a Roman frontier garrison town, Zeugma has acclaimed as having the best surviving examples of ancient mosaic work in the world. Once trodden on by Roman warriors, now the peerless mosaics are at the centre of a legal battle between authorities and those who seek to preserve what is left of the city’s heritage.

Remote sensing II Scientists to look for lost mass grave at development site


Scientists are set to use ground-penetrating radar to search for the lost mass grave of more than 60 passengers of a doomed steamship that sank in 1880 in the waves of a powerful hurricane.

No one knows where the victims of the City of Vera Cruz disaster lie, although neighbors have long believed they rest underneath a vacant 7-acre parcel between Sandpiper Ridge and Beau Rivage drives.

Forgery news Only existing First Temple relic may be forged

Investigators for the Israel Antiquities Authority have been informed that a precious Ivory Pomegranate, on display at the Israel Museum since 1988, is a forgery.

On the basis of an inscription it had been dated from the period of the First Temple, 10th century BCE. However, it is information on the origin of the inscription that has raised doubts about the authenticity of the item. The Antiquities Authority refused to reveal the origins and nature of the information it holds.

Cue, Indiana Jones music once again! Indiana Jones and the Lost Ivory Pomegranate coming soon to theaters near you.

Centuries of Culture Vanish in Kosovo City

Bishop Atanasije Jevtic dusted ashes away from the base of the fresco in the 14th-century cathedral gutted during recent mob violence in Kosovo.

He then softly placed two fingers on the image of Virgin Mary in the soot-covered fresco. But his visit to the cathedral to assess the damage would last but four minutes: a U.N. police officer acting as his bodyguard, a semiautomatic shotgun at the ready, hustled him away, shouting, "It's not safe! It's not safe!"

Orthodox Christian Serbs and symbols of their culture and history were targeted throughout Kosovo in violence last week, exposing the underlying tensions with the mostly Muslim ethnic Albanian majority that led to a war that ended in 1999.

Gene Mutation Said Linked to Evolution

Igniting a scientific furor, scientists say they may have found the genetic mutation that first separated the earliest humans from their apelike ancestors.

The provocative discovery suggests that this genetic twist — toward smaller, weaker jaws — unleashed a cascade of profound biological changes. The smaller jaws would allow for dramatic brain growth necessary for tool-making, language and other hallmarks of human evolution on the plains of East Africa.

The mutation is reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature, not by anthropologists, but by a team of biologists and plastic surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

See a related article here. Note especially this sentence:

Geneticists have shown that a gene called FOXP2 may be required for the fine-tuning of speech. Studies suggest that this gene may have evolved in its present version around 50,000 years ago, Poinar said.

Viewed in the context of the reducing-jaw mutation, one can see that there probably were a series of mutations that all cascaded over a period of time to differentiate us from earlier primates and from modern apes. I.e., not a single magic bullet that made us human, but a series that all depended on one another. I suspect it is possible that one or a very few key mutations were all that were required to make the others possible. Most likely, the final story will involve a long series of genetic changes that, along with the behavioral results of these changes (for example, tool making), allowed subsequent changes to take place. This is the sort of thing SJ Gould referred to as contingency based evolutionary explanation.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Have a PBR afterwards, eh? Eternal Glory (in Wisconsin)

Sometime around 3000 B.C., the Egyptians decided that life was so beautiful they wanted to make it go on forever.

In a way, they succeeded.

Prepare to be dazzled by their efforts. A part of their world will be resurrected in Milwaukee when "The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt" opens next Sunday at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

"Quest" is the largest exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts to ever arrive in North America and the largest exhibit ever to come to the museum. Costing $6.5 million to stage, the exhibit features more than 100 priceless artifacts on loan from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the Luxor Museum courtesy of the Egyptian government. Many have never been seen outside of Egypt.

Pretty good exhibit. I saw it in DC a couple of years ago. It's been VERY popular, so try to go when there is a likelyhood of it being not as crowded (if possible). There is a lot of good material and the interpretive texts (IIRC) are very informative.

Slide show on Ramesses VI sarcophagus

Finding the statue of Tiye and large hippo statues

A rare statue of Queen Ti, mother of Akhenaton, the first in history to propagate monotheist calls, and the wife of King Amenhotep III, was unearthed in the Al-Bar El-Gharbi West Bank area in the ancient Egyptian archaeological city of Luxor, said Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni.

Touring Luxor Sunday accompanied by the People’s Assembly Housing Committee under Mohamed Abul-Enein and Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Secretary General Dr. Zahi Hawas, the minister said the find was made by a German mission inside the Amenhotep III Temple.

Tiye is definitely going to curse someone for putting her in the same sentence as hippos.

Not EgyptAirAntiquities from the air

Join a newspaper and see the world. Marilyn Bridges worked as a photographer for the Naples Daily News for about a year in 1972 when all of its pictures were in black and white.

Today, Bridges, one of the world's foremost aerial photographers, is currently showing 52 excellent black-and-white gelatin silver aerial prints of ancient Egyptian monuments at the Edison Community College Gallery of Fine Art in Fort Myers.

Her resume of exhibitions and lectures is many pages long and lists representation in 80 museum and corporate collections. Bridges, who estimates she has flown about 200 foreign photographic trips, first traveled to Peru in 1976 and has made 10 trips there. She lives in Warwick, N.Y., 100 miles north of New York City.

Her book, Egypt: Antiquities from Above, is also available.

Online books for the seriously geeky
Digitized books: E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Dead: The Chapers of
Coming Forth by Day. The Egyptian Text According to the Theban Recension in
Hieroglyphic. Edited From Numerous Papyri, with a Translation, Vocabulary,
etc, vols. 1 - 2, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., London, 1898. XL,
517 pp.; 386 pp. - pdf-files: vol. 1: 11.3 MB, vol. 2: 13.8 MB.

Volume 1
Volume 2

Note: Both are large PDF files and will take a long time to download by dial-up. Thanks to The Egyptologists' Electronic Forum and Michael Tilgner.
Egypt Official Wants Treasure from British Museum

LUXOR, Egypt (Reuters) - First it was the Greeks wanting their Elgin Marbles back. Now Egypt wants the British Museum to return one of its ancient treasures too.

Egypt's antiquities chief said on Sunday he wanted the British Museum to return the carved face of pharaoh Ramses VI, now that his smashed stone coffin has been largely reassembled.

The tomb of Ramses VI, who ruled around 1156 to 1145 B.C., was robbed within 100 years of the pharaoh's death, like most burial chambers hewn into the rock of Egypt's Valley of the Kings, and his sarcophagus was broken into hundreds of pieces.

A project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development gathered about 250 pieces to reassemble much of the sarcophagus. But the team had to use a cast of the face because the original has been in the British Museum since 1823.

See March 23 entry on this.

Newly unearthed finds will enhance research

Chinese archaeologists are making important and interesting discoveries across the nation. Some of them might lead to breakthroughs, while others might throw more light on things already known.

Shanxi Province

A group of Buddhist sculptures recently caught archaeologists' attention in North China's Shanxi Province.

Located in Jiaguo Village in the city of Qingyuan, in southern Shanxi, the sculptures, numbering nearly 100, are set in grottoes of different sizes.

The sculptures date back to the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534), whose rulers were enthusiastic promoters of Buddhism.

China's another one of those places that is really terra incognita archaeologically speaking (at least in the West), but that would add immensely to our knowledge of the origins of complex civilization.

Clay pot discovery aids migration estimate

CHIBA (Kyodo) A third-century clay pot emblazoned with a Chinese character found at an archaeological excavation site in Nagareyma, Chiba Prefecture, indicates literate people had moved from western to eastern Japan by the end of that century, prefectural officials said Tuesday.

An infrared picture of part of a third-century clay pot found at an archaeological excavation site in Chiba Prefecture bears what appears to be a kanji character painted in black ink. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHIBA PREFECTURE CULTURAL ASSET CENTER

The character was painted with black ink on the upper part of the 9-cm pot found at the Ichinomiyajiri archaeological site.

Yet another way cool application of digital imaging New life for old Elgin Marbles?

One of the greatest artworks of all time is scattered in fragments across Europe. But there is now a way to view the surviving Parthenon sculptures together for the first time - a virtual reconstruction.

They're still magnificent nearly 2,500 years after being carved, but the sculptures of the Parthenon are a bit like sad ghosts - pale, battered, half-lost and spread far and wide.

The fragments are strewn across 10 museums in eight countries. The Greeks are keen to reunite these in a purpose-built museum within sight of the ruined temple the frieze once adorned.

Make sure to click on the related story, How the Parthenon marbles are being reborn as well.

Antonine Wall World Heritage Site

European heritage experts have met in Scotland to mark the start of a bid to win World Heritage Site status for the Antonine Wall, the most northerly boundary of the Roman Empire.

Culture Minister Frank McAveety, who hosted a reception for the delegates, wished the team luck in what will be the first ever bid to involve more than one country.

He said:

“If this bid is successful the Antonine Wall will join the World Heritage Site designation for Hadrian’s Wall. Successful bids from Austria, Germany and Slovakia will see their sections of the frontier added to the designation, emphasising our shared history. I am particularly pleased that we are working closely with our European counterparts to make this trans-european bid a success.

New word of the day: Enology Red Wine Found in King Tut's Tomb

March 25, 2004 — The tomb of King Tutankhamun has given up the key to uncovering the origins of enology, Spanish researchers report in the current issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.

While analyzing the dark brown deposit found inside a wine jar retrieved from the tomb of King Tut, Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós and colleagues from Barcelona University developed the first technique that can determine the color of wine in archaeological samples.

I will admit I had never heard the word "enology" before.

e-nol'e-je n. The study of wines and winemaking. Also, enology and oinology.

See here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Delving into past of Roman village sites

ARCHAEOLOGISTS who have unearthed six former Roman villa estates in the west of the county will unveil their latest findings at the end of the month.

More than 100 volunteers, consisting of historians, archaeologists and villagers have conducted a detailed analysis of the landscape around Bugbrooke, Flore, Harpole, Nether Heyford and Weedon in the last three years.

Although nine Roman settlements were found in total, they have successfully identified six Roman villas dating from the third and fourth centuries.

Bones hint at first use of fire

Human-like species living in Africa up to 1.5 million years ago may have known how to control fire, scientists say.

US and South African experts analysed burnt bones from Swartkrans, just north of Johannesburg, using the technique of electron spin resonance.

It showed the bones had been heated to high temperatures usually only achieved in hearths, possibly making it the first evidence of fire use by humans.

The results will be presented at the 2004 Paleoanthropology Society Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada, in March.

Aztec temple is reborn with belief in the sun's power

Wearing a scarlet headband and amulets, the Nahuatl shaman invoked the spirit of the "blessed creator" at dawn yesterday, as he raised an eagle-plumed staff over tens of thousands of pilgrims who had travelled to the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan to soak up the power of the equinox.

The long-abandoned site, 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, was founded early in the first millennium, and became Mexico's most successful pre-Hispanic city-state, with a peak population of 200,000. Its religion centred on sun and moon deities, and now the love affair with the sun is enjoying a revival.

Antiquities market updateSpain recovers 5,000 looted artefacts

Spanish authorities have uncovered an illegal archaeological museum featuring more than 5,000 priceless artefacts looted from Phoenician, Iberian, Roman and Islamic sites in the southern region of Andalusia, the civil guard announced on Monday.

The museum, located in a house basement in Aguilar de la Frontera in southern Spain, displayed "a priceless private collection" essentially made up of pieces stolen in Andalusia's Guadalquivir valley, spokesman Rafael Perez told reporters.

Float, float on. . .Did Noah really build an ark?

In the Bible, God tells Noah he has to build an ark and load a pair of every kind of animal before a great flood engulfs the world. It is widely regarded as a myth, but could it actually be true?

The story of Noah and his ark is one which sticks in the minds of children and never gets forgotten.

God warned Noah - the only good man left in a world full of corruption and violence - to prepare for a great flood. With his sons he built a great ark and the animals marched in two by two. By the time the rain started to fall, Noah was ready. The ark was a refuge until the waters went down, leaving Noah and his menagerie high and dry on Mount Ararat.

Well. Um. Whatever. Watch the program this is a promo for and see what all they have to say. Seems like one of those "If this, then maybe that, and possibly something else, and perhaps half a dozen other things, and how about that, it all makes sense!" kinda things.

Probably far more likely is recent work involving a massive flood in the Black Sea region. First put forward by Pitman and Ryan, the basic scenario goes like this:

The notion that the Black Sea flood could have triggered diaspora was first posited by two marine geologists at the Lamont-Dorherty Geophysical Observatory at Columbia University in New York. Based on their research in the region, William Ryan and Walter Pitman III concluded that as glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age, water from a rising Mediterranean Sea breached a natural dam at the Bosporus, plunging at least 300 feet into the Black Sea basin. For up to a year, water thundered into the area, engulfing a vast fresh-water lake and some 60,000 square miles of land.

Pay attention to Black Sea (bottom) archaeology: it will turn out to be a new frontier in archaeology.

And still more from the BBCUnlocking the secrets of the sea

State-of-the art underwater technology is helping researchers to unlock the secrets of the deep blue sea.

The University of Ulster's Centre for Maritime Archaeology has acquired detection equipment which was once the preserve of navy personnel.

The CMA's work at the university's Coleraine campus involves ancient shipwrecks and shifting sands.

Archaeologists record details of the thousands of shipwrecks along the British and Irish coasts.

Go us! Spies sign on for Kiwi's terror tool

A computer card developed in Hamilton is playing a key role in hunting international terrorists.

A Waikato University team led by former archaeologist Professor Ian Graham, made the first card for US$2000 ($3026) because they could not afford the US$100,000 machine which was all there was to study traffic flows on the internet.

Today most Western intelligence agencies use the team's cards to track internet traffic for key words and sources that may alert them to terrorists.

And Dr Graham has found a taste for business. When he started, he freely admits, he "knew nothing about business". Now he works fulltime for a company, Endace, which has earned almost $10 million in the financial year ending this month.

And still more BBC. . . .Yorkshire and Lincolnshire: Drying out!

There is a street in the centre of York that would be instantly recognisable to a resident of the city from the 10th century.

That is because it is a replica of the Viking settlement that once stood on that exact spot.

The one big difference is that the street is now five metres beneath the pavements of 21st century York.

It is part of the city's astonishing archaeological visitor attraction, Jorvik.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

There's a snotload of news out this week, so I'm doling it out in dribs and drabs to keep it coming.

Cool web site alert

A new online journal based in the Netherlands. The journal officially starts operations on April 3, 2004 but they have several book reviews online now. I have no idea about subscriptions, whether they will be required, etc. Seems to be focused on paleontology, archaeology, and Egyptology. Ought to be very interesting and, especially in the case of Egypt, will highlight aspects of the prehistory of Egypt that is largely unknown in popular culture.

Update: According to the site authors, "Papers, proceedings and related are free to
download as pdf for three months (one issue); after that they can be
obtained through payment."

Hunley update History's Spotlight Shines on Seaman, Civil War Sub

Joseph A. Ridgaway grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and was an experienced seaman by the time he turned 16. He joined the Confederate Navy in 1863 . When he died aboard the H.L. Hunley, near the end of the Civil War, he was in his late twenties.

He had no children.

He may have had red hair.

No photos of Ridgaway have been found. But details of his life have been pieced together slowly but steadily by researchers since 2000, when archaeological crews in South Carolina pulled the Hunley -- an iron submarine that carried a 17-foot explosive harpoon -- from the bottom of Charleston Harbor.

A Confederate Navy quartermaster and a crewman aboard history's first successful attack submarine, Ridgaway was lost in obscurity for almost 140 years. But gradually, the Talbot County native and his seven fellow crew members -- including at least one from Virginia -- have moved into the limelight for Civil War enthusiasts who yearn to know more about the vessel, which sank while battling the Union blockade of the harbor.

Also for those interested, an excellent book is A History of the Confederate Navy by Raimondo Luraghi.

Archaeological researches on Skopje fortress began

Skopje, March 17 (MIA) - Teams of Museum of Macedonia and Museum of the City of Skopje, in co-ordination of the Skopje Bureau for Protection of Cultural Monuments, began the archaeological researches on site Gradishte hill at Skopje Fortress, where new US Embassy building should be built according to the contract with the Macedonian Government.

"We have started the preparations on Monday, and after 3 days we will start the archaeological researches which will last 30 days aimed at identification of the ground and determination whether it is sterile or is archaeological locality," Jani Antoniev, Director of the Skopje Bureau for Protection of Cultural Monuments, said.

India helps Cambodia restore ancient temple

India is helping Cambodia restore the 12th century sandstone temple of Ta Prohm in the Angkor region.

Ta Prohm, which was consecrated in 1186 and has been home to more than 2,700 monks, was rediscovered in the 19th century.

The chief of the Indian restoration team, KT Narasimhan, is quoted as saying it will take a decade to complete the project.

Researchers say Tiberias basilica may have housed Sanhedrin

Antiquities Authority excavations in Tiberias may have uncovered the site of a structure used by the Sanhedrin, researchers believe. The excavations began in March in the central part of the city and in recent days have moved eastward toward route 90. The main finding in the new excavation area is a basilica structure.

Excavation director Prof. Yizhar Hirschfeld from Hebrew University of Jerusalem says the basilica, which was built during the third century C.E., could have been used by the Sanhedrin, which at the time was called Beit Hava'ad. Identical structures, such as one at Beit Sha'arim, were also used for judicial purposes. In Tiberias the site could have also be used for writing the Jerusalem Talmud, researchers believe.

Mixed ashes of man and animal give insight into Bronze Age

A BIRDWATCHER who unearthed the 4000-year-old cremated remains of a young man has given archaeologists fresh insight into the close, superstitious bonds between humans and animals in prehistoric society.

Experts have conducted a detailed analysis of the discovery of a Bronze Age burial urn which contained the remains of a male aged between 25 and 40, found within a boulder shelter at Glennan, Kilmartin, in Argyll.

After his demise, the man had been ritually burned alongside a goat or sheep. Their remains were deliberately mixed, giving evidence of a perceived bond between farmers and their animals which may have been thought to transcend death itself.

4,000 year-old city excavated in Central China

Archaeologists have confirmed that the Dashigu cultural relics of the Xia Dynasty (21 century B.C-16 century B.C.) in the suburb of Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan Province, date to a large city site of the middle and later Erlitou Culture, part of the Bronze Age from 21 century B.C. to 17 century B.C.

Covering an area of 510,000 square meters, the Dashigu city site lies near Mangshan Mountain and the Yellow River.

"The position of the ancient city is of great strategic importance, so we infer that it may be a military city or capital of a subordinate kingdom of the Xia Dynasty," said Wang Wenhua, a research member with the Zhengzhou cultural relics archaeological research institute.

Archaeologists unearth ancient bamboo relic

Chinese archaeologists have unearthed what is thought to be the oldest bamboo relic in the country, a 7,400-year-old plaited mat, state press said.

The mat was found beneath a woman's skeleton at an archaeological site in the central province of Hunan, Xinhua news agency said.

The mat, which was found in a carbonised state, was interlaced with weft and warp yarn in orderly arranged holes and was dated to the Gaomiao culture in the Neolithic age, the report said.

Egypt unveils restored sarcophagus of Ramses VI

LUXOR, Egypt (AP) -- Egypt on Sunday unveiled the restored sarcophagus of Ramses VI, pieced together from 250 fragments and now on permanent display where it was first interred in the massive tomb of the ancient pharaoh, who ruled about 3,100 years ago.

Chip Vincent, director of the Egypt project at the American Research Center in Cairo, said 10 American, Canadian and Egyptian experts worked for two years on the reconstruction of the sarcophagus, carved in the shape of a mummy from a single block of green conglomerate.

"In the past, visitors to the tomb would only see the broken pieces of the sarcophagus," Vincent said. "Now they have the experience to see the head and the face of the pharaoh."

Monday, March 22, 2004

Maybe it would work. . . . Garage sale finds from Iraqi cities (Free registration required)

At least one situation in Iraq took a turn for the better this week when it was announced that Baghdad's antiquities museum would reopen next month, following the recovery of many - though not all - of Iraq's looted archaeological treasures.

According to reports, dozens of those priceless artifacts were found stashed in secret vaults throughout Baghdad last week.

The remainder were recovered in a daring sting operation put together by coalition forces and the PBS series "Antiques Roadshow," which filmed a special Baghdad episode during the last week in May.

Have you ever wondered the value of your mother's beloved heirloom brooch? Your grandmother's beloved antique lamp? Your brother's beloved cast copper head of Naram-Sin, grandson of Sargon, and founder of the Agade dynasty? Stop by on Friday for a free appraisal, and a chance to appear on one of America's most popular hit series!

Archaeologists uncover ancient race of skeleton people

AL JIZAH, EGYPT—A team of British and Egyptian archaeologists made a stunning discovery Monday, unearthing several intact specimens of "skeleton people"—skinless, organless humans who populated the Nile delta region an estimated 6,000 years ago.

"This is an incredible find," said Dr. Christian Hutchins, Oxford University archaeologist and head of the dig team. "Imagine: At one time, this entire area was filled with spooky, bony, walking skeletons."

"The implications are staggering," Hutchins continued. "We now know that the skeletons we see in horror films and on Halloween are not mere products of the imagination, but actually lived on Earth."
Time Team uncovers secrets of Scotland's lost city

THE secrets of a rich and powerful medieval Scottish city which had lain undisturbed for five centuries are to be revealed this weekend, following a three-day archaeological dig by Channel Four’s Time Team.

A succession of kings held court at Old Roxburgh, or Rokesburg as it was then called, and the Royal burgh by the banks of the Tweed became the largest wool trading centre in Europe. Rokesburg vied with Edinburgh, Stirling and Berwick as the kingdom’s most influential place.

But while the other three settlements have survived, almost nothing remains of Old Roxburgh above ground level.

The burgh, which was granted its Royal charter by King David I in the 12th century, was destroyed and abandoned during the militarisation of the Border in 1460.

Experts hail rare find of medieval logboat

A thousand years ago it split asunder and could no longer be used to work the marshy waterways of East Yorkshire.

But rather than let it go to waste forever, workers built part of the medieval logboat into the side of the trackway over the soft ground – and there it remained until a few days ago.
Archaeologists discovered the stern of a boat, made out of a single hollowed oak trunk, while construction work was being carried out at Welham Bridge on the A614, between Holme upon Spalding Moor and Howden.

Mysteries of bog butter uncovered (Subscription required)

Chemical detectives have traced deposits of fat in Scottish peat bogs to foodstuffs buried by people hundreds of years ago. The 'bog butter' is the remains of both dairy products and meat encased in the peat, say Richard Evershed of the University of Bristol and colleagues.

Those who live in the countryside of Ireland and Scotland and dig up chunks of peat for fuel have long been familiar with bog butter. While gathering the compressed plant matter, which can be burned in fires, diggers occasionally slice into a white substance with the appearance and texture of paraffin wax.

This is thought to be the remains of food once buried in the bog to preserve it. Waterlogged peat is cool and contains very little oxygen, so it can be used as a primitive kind of fridge.

Summary: The ancient "bog butter" could be either dairy product or adipocere from decayed animal corpses. Evershed et al. looked at the chemical structure of the ancient "bog butters" -- specifically the ratios of C-13 to C-12 -- to see how they compared with modern experimental ones of both dairy and animal carcasses. Six of the ancient samples resembled modern dairy butters and three were more like animal carcasses.

Movie Commentary: Two Archaeologists Comment on The Passion of the Christ

Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ is hardly a historical documentary. As the director himself asserts, and reviewers, religious leaders, and audience members agree, the movie is designed to bring to vivid life the nature and magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice – an issue of theology rather than history. We are not theologians, but rather archaeologists specializing in the material remains and history of Roman Palestine. As such, we can not speak to the movie’s moral message, or even to the aesthetic or cinematic vision of the director. Some viewers may wonder, however, about the historical accuracy with which events and their settings are depicted. For those who are curious about Gibson’s fidelity to ancient sources, we offer the following information.

Friday, March 19, 2004


Disease, drugs, sex, and death are the topics on offer in this last episode of Nova's three-part series, Secrets of the Pharaohs, which features the detailed examination of the 3,000-year-old mummy of Asru, who was a chantress at the temple of Amun at Karnak ca. 1000 B.C. There is, however, no unwrapping as the episode's title suggests. Asru had been stripped of her bandages in the early nineteenth century, shortly before she was donated to the Manchester Museum in 1825. That she lacks the layers of linen makes the extracting of tissue far easier.

While Asru may have lived the good life by ancient Egyptian standards, it was a painful one, according to the team of pathologists, led by Egyptologist Rosalie David of the Manchester Museum. The first half of the episode is devoted to the analysis of X-ray images and tissues extracted from the mummy and the identification and description of the many ailments that plagued her.

Bang the rock slowlyAncient Indians made 'rock music'

Archaeologists have rediscovered a huge rock art site in southern India where ancient people used boulders to make musical sounds in rituals.

The Kupgal Hill site includes rocks with unusual depressions that were designed to be struck with the purpose of making loud, musical ringing tones.

It was lost after its discovery in 1892, so this is the first fresh effort to describe the site in over a century.

Details of the research are outlined in the archaeological journal Antiquity.


A FULL-LENGTH sword blade that could date back to the late 18th century has been found at Stowe Landscape Gardens.

Building contractors made the find while working on the Corinthian Arch. It was underneath the floorboards of one of the attic rooms.

The sword is missing its wooden handle and it is likely it was discarded under the floorboards when it became detached.

Other items were found by the contractors, including a bone-handled whittling knife, a small woodworking auger, used for boring holes into pieces of wood, and several pieces of upholstery.

The sword will probably be sent to the Royal Armoury in Leeds for expert identification, and the other items have been sent to the Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury.
All the items appear to date from the late 18th or early 19th century.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

What lies beneath the paint

The Ancient Egyptians decorated their temples, tombs, palaces and houses with scenes and texts. What the images represented and how they functioned within their architectural settings was the subject of a recent lecture by Janice Kamrin, Egyptological consultant to the Supreme Council of Antiquities, at the American Research Center.

Kamrin raised some interesting questions. Were these scenes symbolic, as well as representing aspects of daily life? Did they allude to the maintenance of the cosmic order, the repelling of chaos, and to fertility, virility and regeneration?

. . .

The traditional explanation for the choice of subjects -- to repeat in the afterlife the most memorable experiences of life on earth -- has never been entirely convincing, mainly because although the scenes differ from one tomb to another, and no two tombs are alike, there is a notable lack in all of them of certain scenes that one might expect in family life; also a noticeable lack of certain foods on offering tables known to have existed in ancient times.

Viewing what she described as "a complex tapestry of scenes and texts", Kamrin pondered on how they were chosen, what purpose they served, and whether they were arranged in specific patterns or just put randomly onto the walls. "There is no question that the Egyptians were very deliberate in their choice and placement of scenes," she stressed. "These choices were vital to them -- they ensured no less than their own eternal life and happiness and that of their dependents. I believe," she said -- and here was her hypothesis -- "that they were also chosen to contribute their part to the proper functioning of the entire cosmos."

Long article, but definitely worth reading.

In Astoria, cooking the way the ancients did

Museums and books tell the story of how Egyptians lived 5,000 years ago, but Ali El Sayed has another way of telling those stories.

He cooks.

A while back, El Sayed, chef- owner of tiny Kabab Cafe on Steinway Street in Astoria, adopted a "victual mummy" of a goose. That's not virtual, but victual, as in something to eat in the afterlife.

The mummy, found in the tomb of the fan bearer Maherpri in Thebes, is in the Cairo Museum. El Sayed first saw Maherpri's goose in Cairo. But here, he proudly displays a photograph of it on the wall of his cozy cafe, which is filled to overflowing with beautiful objects and treasured things that reflect the owner's eclectic interests. One such is a handcrafted wall hanging - there is no room on the wall, so it covers a bench - of three geese, copied from a papyrus.

Sudan’s ancient Pyramids bait for hardy tourists

MEROE, Sudan - Think of ancient Pyramids - think of Egypt. Think again.

Some 1,300 kilometres (810 miles) south of Cairo and looming over the east bank of the river Nile, Sudan’s dozens of pyramids peek over the horizon, completely untouched by modern commercialism.

Sudan is better known as the location of Africa’s longest civil war than a holiday hotspot, but with a peace deal on the cards in the south, more tourists are visiting its monuments.

Unlike their larger Egyptian counterparts in Giza where a stream of hawkers greets visitors and fast food restaurants face the Sphinx, visitors can find themselves utterly alone with the Royal Pyramids of Meroe.

Interview with Stephen Harvey, Director of the Oriental Institute Abydos Project

Some fascinating stuff on various Egyptology personalities and the interesting details of working in Egypt.

Serious scholarly link Online thesis: Sherine M. ElSebaie, The Destiny of the World: A
Study on The End of The Universe in The Light of Ancient Egyptian Texts

Kind of a big PDF file so only click on it if you have a fast connection. I vouch for nothing regarding the content of said thesis, but it may be of interest.

Booty alert! An Egyptian Princess of the Amarna Period in Bolton

This kind of representation is very typical of the Amarna period. No one knows why, but theories offerred have run the gamut from a genetic disease to homosexuality to some sort of religious impulse. The latest (?) entrant is Marfan's syndrome.
Teeth unravel Anglo-Saxon legacy

New scientific research adds to growing evidence that the Anglo-Saxons did not replace the native population in England as history books suggest.

The data indicates at least some areas of eastern England absorbed very few Anglo-Saxon invaders, contrary to the view in many historical accounts.

Chemical analysis of human teeth from a Medieval cemetery in Yorkshire found few individuals of continental origin.

Details of the work are described in the scholarly journal Antiquity.

Japan to help protect Iraq's Sumer ruins artifacts

SAMAWAH, Iraq (Kyodo) Japan plans to help prevent the theft of precious artifacts from being stolen from the ruins of Sumer in southern Iraq, site of the world's oldest known city-state system, government sources said.

Because valuable artifacts continue to disappear from the ruins, Japan will help local authorities tighten security at the sites, providing them with patrol vehicles and other equipment, according to the sources.

The government is considering extending such assistance to Iraq through UNESCO, using $600,000 in grant aid, the sources said.


An archaeological survey into the wild landscape around Dunstanburgh Castle has uncovered its wartime secrets and new evidence of its medieval past.

Owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage, Dunstanburgh was built in 1313 by Earl Thomas of Lancaster and sits dramatically on the North East coastline.

Back in November 2003, archaeologists from both English Heritage and the National Trust spent three weeks conducting a high-tech survey of the area around the castle.

As well as uncovering new information about Dunstanburgh, they found a top secret Battle of Britain radar station and a Mediterranean terraced garden created by homesick Italian POWs.

The verdict is in. . . .again. Study: Humans, Neanderthals Did Not Mate

March 17, 2004 — The verdict is in: humans and Neanderthals did not date — much.

Genetic evidence from Neanderthal and early human bones indicates that if there was any intermixing of the two species, it was so little that it left no genetic trace. The discovery was published in the current edition of PloS Biology.

"I thought this was an incredibly significant paper," said Stanford University anthropologist Richard Klein. "So much of the time in paleoanthropology and other 'softer' sciences the arguments seem to go on forever."

. . .

The very prominent jaw and cheekbones, the large nose, as well as the swept-back forehead and low I.Q., would probably make a Neanderthal appear repulsive to most humans.

I'd take Daryl Hannah instead, fer sure.

Archaeologists: 2.1km tunnel is inadequate

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have branded the government's £200m plans for a 2.1km tunnel under Stonehenge "inadequate", claiming it would bring "irreversible damage to the World Heritage site".

At the inquiry this week, representatives of many of Britain's most respected archaeological organisations echoed the National Trust's demands for a longer tunnel to remove traffic from a larger section of the world-famous beauty spot than the iconic stone circle.

"The proposed road severs the spatial plane, depriving visitors of the ability to experience its connectedness," said Susan Denyer, of the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK.

"Stonehenge was inscribed on the World Heritage list as an entity that has integrity.

"Some parts of the site cannot have greater value than others."

Fragile find shares secrets of Maori life centuries ago

A sneeze could destroy the tiny fragments forever, but pieces of an ancient Maori cloak found on Banks Peninsula have major significance.

The remnants of the 500-year-old flax cloak were found on Kaitorete Spit, by Lake Ellesmere, with other artefacts in what archaeologists and local Maori regard as a valuable archaeological and cultural find.

Unusually well-preserved albatross bones, tools and kokowai (a red dye) and pieces of a hut, including a segment of carved wood, were also unearthed.

Historic Places Trust regional archaeologist Chris Jacomb said the cloak was of particular interest. It was the first evidence of how clothing was made in the early centuries of Maori settlement in New Zealand.

Spell shoe is discovered in roof

Planners in charge of preserving Jersey's historic buildings are asking people to get in touch if they have found footwear built into properties.

Workmen stripping the roof of a 16th Century cottage found a shoe that had been built into one of the walls.

The custom of burying a shoe under a roof dates back hundreds of years and was supposed to ward off evil.

Stuart Fell, from the Planning Department, said it was the first time he had come across one in Jersey.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Cool site of the day The Tomb of Ramesses I. OsirisNet's site got an addition of photographs and 3D reconstructions of this tomb, plus explanatory text on the reign of R-I.

Also check out Theirry's translation of his paper AKHENATEN AND THE RELIGION OF THE ATEN.

Space dust to unlock Mexican pyramid secrets
Muon detector could point scientists to hidden burial chambers

TEOTIHUACAN, Mexico - Remnants of space dust that constantly shower the world are helping unlock the secrets of a 2,000-year-old Mexican pyramid where the rulers of a mysterious civilization may lie buried.

Deep under the huge Pyramid of the Sun, north of Mexico City, physicists are installing a device to detect muons, subatomic particles that are left over when cosmic rays hit Earth.

The particles pass through solid objects, leaving tiny traces which the detector will measure, like an X-ray machine, in a search for burial chambers inside the monolith.

Since there are fewer muons in an empty space than in solid rock or earth, scientists will be able to spot any holes inside the pyramid, a sacred site in the city of Teotihuacan, which rose and fell around the same time as ancient Rome.

Archaeologists blast Antiquities Department

THE ARCHAEOLOGISTS’ Association yesterday launched a scathing attack against the Antiquities Department, accusing them of being unorganised, after recently discovered finds in Paphos were dug up and left exposed.

In a news conference yesterday, the chairman of the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists, Andreas Demetriou, said the area had been dug up without the presence of an archaeologist, disturbing the finds’ original location and leaving them in heaps next to the holes.

“They went there and dug up holes to construct a shelter for the dig,” he said.
“But they dug more than 50 holes and there was no archaeologist present on the site at the time.

Check out Cypriot archaeology when you get the chance. It's beautiful work and has a quality different from either classical Greek or Mesopotamian.

Flyover might uncover long-lost villages

During an aerial tour Friday, thermal-imaging photographers might have found two German villages settled in Taft around 1719 and abandoned a few years later, St. Charles Parish history buffs and a thermal photographer say.

"It went off pretty good," said Luling resident John Polk, who is president of the Louisiana Archaeological Society.

An early look at the thermal-imaging photos showed some "anomalies" at the area where historians say one of the villages was located, Polk said.

"We don't know for sure," Polk said, "but history tells us this is where it's at."

Syracuse investors help raise sunken treasure

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A group of investors from Syracuse are helping raise a 242-year-old shipwreck off the northern coast of Nova Scotia, a find that's yielded gold and silver coins, jewelry and silverware.

More importantly, says Norman Miles, a dramatic episode in North American history is being fleshed out.

"Our duty is to teach the world what happened there," Miles said. "And as we teach the world, this collection will grow in value because it will become sought after by those that have an interest in this time and place in history."

The sinking of the Auguste de Bordeaux during a vicious November storm in 1761 was the starting point for one survivor's remarkable journey.

In Las Vegas, Looting Ring Unravels (Free registration required)

LAS VEGAS -- It happened by chance: An alert park ranger saw a pair of men loading things into their car in Death Valley National Park. The ranger questioned the men. One of them said he had "Indian rocks" in his car for his personal collection. And from there, the plot began to unravel.

What the ranger had stumbled upon was a ring of thieves who looted Native American artifacts, and authorities are calling it one of the largest operations of its kind.

Tim Canaday was in grad school at the same time as me at the University of Washington. Good archaeologist and getting the Death Valley position was his absolute dream come true.

Guard wants land combed for artifacts

A National Guard training center near the Normanskill Creek should be explored for possible evidence of past settlement by early Native Americans, according to a draft report by the New York National Guard.

The 241-acre site, located off a bend in the creek on Grant Hill Road, is among four Guard-owned local properties worth examining for historic artifacts, according to the Guard's draft Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plan.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Early human marks are 'symbols'

A series of parallel lines engraved in an animal bone between 1.4 and 1.2 million years ago may be the earliest example of human symbolic behaviour.

University of Bordeaux experts say no practical process, such as butchering a carcass, can explain the markings.

But many researchers believe the capacity for true symbolic thinking arose much later with the emergence of modern humans, Homo sapiens.

Northern sea baffles archaeologists

Remains of an ancient civilization discovered in the depths of the Northern sea

While some scientists spend all their time and efforts in search of Atlantis, others have already discovered remains of an ancient civilization that had existed on the same territory as present-day Northern sea. With the help of modern technology, archaeologists were able to get a better glimpse of the ancient world.

Approximately 10 000 years ago the entire bottom of the Northern sea had been a blossoming valley, inhabited by ancestors of modern-day Europeans. Scientists from the Birmingham University were able to reach such conclusion after reconstructing local landscape by means of computers. Archaeologists analyzed data of earth's crust's fluctuations and using a specially designed program managed to come up with a 3D image of the area. The region connects today's British Isles with continental Europe.

Alligator-shaped rock a headscratcher

NASHVILLE, March 11 (UPI) -- Scientific interest is growing in a Tennessee family's discovery of a 4-foot-long rock that strongly resembles an alligator, the Nashville Tennessean says.

Tony Hackett's children discovered the rock on the family property east of Nashville last weekend, and were so excited, they sent off pictures of the gator-stone to state and university scientists to inquire if it was a fossil, or a carving.

Hackett's convinced nature didn't shape the stone, though, as it appears to have an open mouth.

Our intrepid cadre of field correspondents are, as we type, scouring the virtual universe for an actual picture of this amazing rock.

Monday, March 15, 2004

War of the Words: Scientist Attacks Alien Claims

Astronomer Philip Plait is tired of radio personality Richard Hoagland's claims. He's had enough of Hoagland's assertions that NASA is covering up evidence of extraterrestrial life, that the infamous Face on Mars was built by sentient aliens and, of late, that otherworldly machine parts are embedded in the red planet's dirt.

And then there's the mile-long translucent Martian worm.

On Hoagland's web site, there are several images from various space probes said to possibly show evidence for ET. Recent Mars rover photos include not just rocks, Hoagland and other contributors maintain, but common objects that might tell of alien civilization -- a bowl, a stove, a piston.

I can safely say that I have never heard the word "pareidolia" before.

You may be wondering at this point what this has to do with archaeology. Lots actually, in two respects. First, pareidolia is also seen in archaeology, most notably in cases where there are supposedly ancient "roads" or "buildings" seen underwater, and often used as evidence for mysterious ancient civilizations (let's all say it together: Atlantis!). The concept of an "artifact", that is, a man-made object or feature, can get pretty dicey when the objects in question are very simple. The earliest stone tools, for example, are extremely simple little things, just a rock with a couple of chips taken out of one side. Often, people see artifacts where there aren't any at all. In these cases, a certain conservatism is necessary, especially when the "artifact" is controversial for other reasons (in deposits where it shouldn't be, for example). Generally, the bar gets higher for proving artifact-ness and one must demonstrate to a high degree that no known natural process could have created the object.

Second, the methods used will be familiar to those dealing with archaeological psuedoscientists along the lines of Erich Von Daniken, Graham Hancock, etc. Take, for example, the Coso Artifact which several have taken as evidence that an advanced civilization was creating spark plugs 500,00 years ago.

Critical thinking should never be in short supply, whatever the planet.
Grave of Egyptian king's courtiers uncovered

Cairo - A grave believed to belong to courtiers or servants of King Aha, the first king of ancient Egypt's first dynasty, was uncovered by an American excavation mission in Abydos in Upper Egypt, a culture ministry statement said on Sunday.

The enclosure found in Abydos contains "a very well-preserved chapel surrounded with six subsidiary graves belonging to courtiers servants intended to serve the king in the afterlife".

The enclosure lies about 1,5km away from the tomb of King Aha, discovered in 1900 by British archaeologist Flinders Petrie.

King Tut liked red wine

Ancient Egyptians believed in properly equipping a body for the afterlife, and not just through mummification. A new study reveals that King Tutankhamun eased his arduous journey with a stash of red wine.

Spanish scientists have developed the first technique that can determine the color of wine used in ancient jars. They analyzed residues from a jar found in the tomb of King Tut and found that it contained wine made with red grapes.

This is the only extensive chemical analysis that has been done on a jar from King Tut's tomb, and it is the first time scientists have provided evidence of the color of wine in an archaeological sample. The report appears in the March 15 edition of Analytical Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

dirty-fingernailed parvenus???The relocation of Paris

French archaeologists pulled quite a stunt last month by declaring that, contrary to popular belief, Paris wasn't always Paris -- before Roman times, Paris was Nanterre, a rather dull city also located on the Seine.
Let me explain, for the confusion lies as much in the nomenclature as in the results of the dig. It appears that the ancient capital of Gaul, called Lutetia by the Romans, is not buried under modern-day Paris after all but under its unremarkable downstream neighbor, Nanterre.
It's an unprecedented attack on the French national identity and the greater glory of Paris by a group of dirty-fingernailed parvenus. (I must evoke a certain indignation on behalf my adopted city, mustn't I?)

Excavating Marana's Hohokam mound: Dig offers glimpse of ancient culture

MARANA - An archaeological dig here is reaffirming previous knowledge about the ancient Hohokam and giving new insights into the community that once thrived here.

The dig shows that some of the folks who used to live here apparently were of the upper crust; looked down on their neighbors, physically and perhaps figuratively; used the "good china" when dining; and ate better than those in the surrounding area.

They looked down on their neighbors from their homes in a walled enclosure atop a man-made, earthen platform mound that rose about 7 1/2 feet above the desert floor. They were leaders of the Hohokam community of about 900 that flourished between about 1200 and 1300.

A universe of Mogul royalty portrayed in miniature

This jubilant image of musicians playing away while perched atop an elephant hardly looks like an excerpt from an official document. Most official documents are less lively and colorful, and aren't so sharply observed.

In fact, this is a tiny detail from one of 44 illustrations in a book, a Mogul document known as "The Padshahnama," or the emperor's chronicle. This manuscript records major events in the first decade of the reign (1628-58) of Shah-Jahan of the Mogul empire on the Indian subcontinent. It celebrates his military prowess and extravagant court occasions, ceremonies, processions (in this case a prince's wedding), hunts, and significant arrivals and departures.

Ides of March Marked Murder of Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar's bloody assassination on March 15, 44 B.C., forever marked March 15, or the Ides of March, as a day of infamy. It has fascinated scholars and writers ever since.

For ancient Romans living before that event, however, an ides was merely one of several common calendar terms (see sidebar) used to mark monthly lunar events. The ides simply marked the appearance of the full moon.

But the Ides of March assumed a whole new identity after the events of 44 B.C. The phrase came to represent a specific day of abrupt change that set off a ripple of repercussions throughout Roman society and beyond.

Next major find: Steve McQueen's baseball glove 'Dick', the third tunnel from the Great Escape, is rediscovered 60 years on

The attempt to tunnel out of Stalag-Luft 3 was one of the most audacious episodes of the Second World War, immortalised in the movie The Great Escape. Seventy Allied prisoners toiled for months to get out of the German camp, but only three made it to freedom and 50 were executed as punishment for trying.

Now the only remaining tunnel of the three they dug, codenamed Dick, has been found and excavated by archaeologists after lying undisturbed for six decades.

The other two routes, Harry - through which the actual escape took place - and Tom, were collapsed when discovered by the German Luftwaffe who ran the camp.

Dick, which was abandoned before completion, remained untouched.

Researchers scour Cuban records for clues to Calusa

After years of belief to the contrary, the once mighty Calusa Indians, who lived centuries ago in Southwest Florida, may not be extinct after all.

Nicknamed "The Fierce Ones," the Calusa Indians lived in Southwest Florida from around A.D. 100 to the early 1700s, when they were believed to have been killed off by invading Native American tribes, Spanish soldiers and foreign diseases such as smallpox. Their largest settlement in Florida was on Pine Island at Pineland, now the site of the Randell Research Center, which is conducting archaeological research on the settlement.

Anthropologist John Worth, Randell Research Center director, said that scholars long have believed that the Calusa were pushed east and south by invaders, and that no descendants of the Calusa live in Florida — nor anywhere else — today. But new information shows that a small band of between 60 to 70 Calusa refugees took to their boats and fled to Cuba in the 1760s, and others may have fled earlier.

Archaeologist recounts 1979 discovery of tomb that held oldest fragments of the Bible

NEW ORLEANS -- As often happens in other fields, the find of Gabriel Barkay's career as a biblical archaeologist rose at the intersection of careful calculation and happy accident -- provided in his case by a bored 12-year-old helper who whacked the stone floor of an Israelite burial vault with a heavy hammer.

His name was Nathan. Too scattered and mischievous to be of much help, he had been dispatched to clean a worked-over corner of Barkay's dig just outside the old city of Jerusalem, a largely overlooked archaeological site that Barkay thought might yield material for his dissertation.

What preservation!

Friday, March 12, 2004

Sparks fly over rare axe head

A Fife man who discovered a rare Neolithic axe head while out walking near his home is facing prosecution for refusing to hand it over.

Under Scots Law such finds are Crown property but until now it is not thought anyone has faced court action.

Michael Kelly discovered the 6,500-year-old axe head, one of only 30 in the UK, in a field last year.

Mr Kelly, from Leslie, has been told that court proceedings will follow if he does not hand over the artefact.

Niya yields buried secrets

Long, long ago there was a king. He had 300 soldiers, 3,000 residents in his state and one gold camel, which was his dearest possession.

But he fell in love with a woman who was also loved by the king of another state, and thus a war was started. God, angered by the war, blew up a black sandstorm that lasted for 80 days and buried the entire kingdom, including the gold camel.

More than 2,000 years later, in 1901, a British explorer named Marc Aurel Stein (1862-1943) trekked into the ruins of the kingdom far out in the desert, and the world then heard for the first time the name of Niya - as dreamlike as the Uygur legend about it that you have just read.

See, I can't write this kinda stuff about what I do. "Long, long ago there was a group of mobile hunter-gatherers. They made a bunch of little stone tools. And then they all died."

Beit She'an artifacts go up in smoke

A fire caused severe damage Wednesday night to a structure housing antiquities unearthed at the Beit She'an National Park, according to Gabi Mazor, the Israel Antiquities Authority coordinator at the site.

The warehouse contained millions of artifacts, mainly ceramic shards, discovered during 18 years of excavations at the park, located in the northern Jordan Valley.

Investigators believe that the warehouse was deliberately set on fire, as they discovered that the lock was broken and found gasoline at the scene of the blaze. But the police have not yet arrested any suspects in the apparent arson attack.

There go the TL dates. . . .[inside joke]

Dozens of Inca Mummies Discovered Buried in Peru

Dozens of exquisitely preserved Inca mummies are being recovered from a barren hillside on the outskirts of Peru's bustling capital city, Lima. In a matter of months a highway will roar past the ancient cemetery.

"By now we have over 40 [mummy bundles] and the number increases every day," said Guillermo Cock, a Lima-based archaeologist.

Cock and his team were contracted by the city government to comb the hillside for any unknown archaeological remains prior to construction of the road, which is the final phase of a project to ease traffic congestion in Lima.

Three days after their excavations began on March 3, the team found the cemetery. The bundles—cocoons of one or more adult and child mummies wrapped together in layers of textiles—date back more than 500 years to the Inca Empire.

Mummy's Return to Egypt Spotlights Smuggling

Last September—after a 140-odd-year run in a Niagara Falls, Canada, sideshow—the 3,000-year-old mummy of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses I returned home. The celebration was one for the ages.

"When he arrived, no living king [had] ever had such a reception," said Zahi Hawass, an archaeologist and secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The mummy's return to Egypt was facilitated by the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. While the museum had obtained legal rights to own and display the mummy, museum officials decided that the pharaoh's proper place was in Egypt.

"It just seemed the right thing to do for a lot of reasons," said Peter Lacovara, the museum's curator of ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Middle Eastern art.

This is a good article, I think. I generally support the return of mummies to Egypt and it would be nice if they could be returned to their tombs, which they have done with Tutankhamun. The artifacts I don't think need to be returned, unless they were illegally obtained at the time.