Monday, February 28, 2005

Breaking news Ancient earth drawings found in Peru

Archaeologists have discovered a group of giant figures scraped into the hills of Peru's southern coastal desert that are believed to predate the country's famed Nazca lines.

About 50 figures were etched into the earth over an area roughly 90 square miles near the city of Palpa, 220 miles southeast of Lima, El Comercio newspaper reported.

The drawings - which include human figures as well as animals such as birds, monkeys, and felines - are believed to be created by members of the Paracas culture sometime between 600 and 100 B.C., Johny Islas, the director of the Andean Institute of Archaeological Studies, told the newspaper.

We don't know if "mystified" is really the correct word. True, we're mystified at how cranks like Erich von Daniken can continually make great heaping gobs of money off of promoting their crackpot theories, but we think "intrigued" is probably a better term for what we think about the lines.
Many, many things to post today. Here is the first batch.

Seattle-area construction find update Archaeological find shouldn't delay Sound Transit project, officials say

The discovery of a significant Indian archaeological site where Sound Transit's light-rail line crosses the Duwamish River probably won't delay or disrupt construction, Sound Transit and the state archaeologist say.

"I wouldn't expect anything like that at this point, given what the professional archaeologists have found," Rob Whitlam, state archaeologist with the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, said yesterday.

"We're very confident of our ability to build our project on our timeline," said Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick.

More here.

Slavery archaeology update Researchers explore Southern slave site

Sifting through dirt from the floor of a small cabin made from oyster shells and sand, archaeologist Dan Elliott is finding unexpected treasures.

He unearthed a doll-sized porcelain plate, clay marbles, lead shot and a French-made gunflint - fascinating finds from a cabin that once housed plantation slaves.

"We're dealing with the facts. These are all things they left behind," says Elliott, noting that toys and firearms' material "could suggest their masters were letting them have a little bit of latitude."

Researchers say three cabins made of tabby - a cement mixture of oyster shells, lime and sand - on this undeveloped, state-owned barrier island are among the best-preserved slave quarters in the South.

More here.

Please note: We don't usually do much with historic archaeology, but research relating to slavery is interesting for the cultural issues it brings out, namely, the blending of aboriginal (i.e., African) and western traits that one sees in such material remains.

Calling Lara Croft and Indiana Jones. . . Drug traffickers overrun ancient Mayan city

Heavily-armed drug traffickers have taken control of an ancient Mayan city in Guatemala, setting up camp amid pyramids and threatening academic research, archaeologists say.

The Piedras Negras site, in a pristine jungle reserve in the northern department of El Peten, is considered one of the most important cities in the ancient Maya world.

Archaeologist Stephen Houston, from Brown University in the United States, says dangerous drug traffickers had now made Piedras Negras their own.

Tsunami finds update Underwater find in tsunami region - Structures off TN coast may answer questions about Seven Pagodas

Among the few strange acts of the killer tsunami was blowing the sand cover off seven boulders with various carved figures on the coast of this ancient town.

Off the coast now, archaeologists have found several “promising structures” that have kindled hopes of cracking a long-standing mystery about the Seven Pagodas described by western scholars in and around Mamallapuram, 55 km from Chennai.

“We find some man-made structures, some wall-like structures, some step-like structures, besides perfectly cut stone blocks arranged in a pattern,” said Alok Tripathy, a senior official of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

More here.

We've never heard of it, but. . . Experts: Tamil civilisation over 4,000 years old

TAMIL civilisation existed more than 4,000 years ago, said archaeologists excavating near Chennai, India.

The archaeologists are studying inscriptions on stones and artefacts at a site in Athicha Nallur, which is believed to be the cradle of Tamil civilisation, both Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban reported.

They also concluded that the Tamils were already an advanced society before the Mogul emperors invaded India.

Attention wealthy ArchaeoBlog readers Hard times for history

Wanted: A permanent home for pottery pieces, pipe stems, and the more than 2 million other artifacts excavated from New York City archaeological sites during the past two decades.

Since 1990, the artifacts have been housed at New York Unearthed, an urban archaeology laboratory and conservation center, the city's only such repository, located at 17 State St. in lower Manhattan. However, recent budget cuts and a decline in visitor traffic have caused the center's parent organization, the South Street Seaport Museum, to lay off members of the archaeology department, including its former curator, effectively shutting the lab.

James Ossuary update Biblical find or basic forgery, burial box open to legal debate

The first group of experts heralded it as one of archaeology's greatest discoveries, a burial box inscribed with the earliest reference to Jesus ever found.

But after a closer look, another group of specialists debunked the find as an elaborate hoax.

Now Israeli authorities have indicted the owner of the "James Ossuary" as a serial forger. The indictment has further polarized opposing sides in an increasingly vitriolic dispute.

Good summary of what's been going on with it.

Cave Creek woman is expert on ancient drawings in area

Grace Schoonover sees ancient people when she walks in the desert hills near her Cave Creek home.

New suburban-style houses are taking up more of the area’s landscape each day, but you still can find remnants of the Hohokam and others who began roaming and settling there as many as 2,000 years ago.

After spending much of the past 60 years helping uncover the earliest signs of civilization in the Valley, Schoonover, 79, has amassed considerable knowledge about its first human inhabitants.

When she looks across her neighborhood near Tonto National Forest, Schoonover said, she can imagine how they looked and lived.

Semi-breaking news 2500-year-old coffins unearthed in Egypt

An Australian archeological team working in Egypt has unearthed three ancient wooden coffins in the past two months.

Culture Minister Farouk Hosni told reporters Saturday that the coffins, which he described as "wonderfully beautiful," were uncovered in Sakkara, 10 kilometers south of Cairo.

He said the coffins, shaped like human bodies, go back to the 26th Pharaoh Dynasty that ruled from 672 BC to 525 BC.

The minister added the coffins contained mummies wrapped up in cloth and decorated with colorful beads.

Hosni said that other ancient artifacts were found near the coffins, including statues of Pharaoh gods.

That's the whole thing.

Antiquities Market update A rich handover

At No. 8 Al-Alfi Street downtown last week, the scene was more bustling than usual. A large number of police officers, archaeologists and journalists were on hand as a huge cache of artefacts -- hidden since 1971 -- finally saw the light again.

The collection includes a number of anthropoid sarcophagi, painted mummy masks, Ancient Egyptian ushabti figurines (wooden statuettes), limestone reliefs, necklaces, amulets, and scarabs, as well as a group of Graeco-Roman statues, Islamic vessels, clay chandeliers and coloured textiles.

Brigadier Abdel-Hafez Abdel-Karim, head of the antiquities police, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the story of the hidden collection began in 1971, when a Frenchman named Gérard Razier was arrested at this same address, and charged with illegal possession of antiquities. The Frenchman was sentenced to six months in prison; an appeal led to the sentence eventually being cancelled.

Cypriot perfumery update Archaeological dig sniffs out world's oldest perfumery

MUSKY, with a woody tone and spicy hints of cinnamon - the perfect fragrance for a Bronze Age date.

Italian archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest perfumery and have identified the smells popular with the people of the time.

The perfumery was found at a sprawling archaeological site on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean at Pyrgos-Mavroraki, 55 miles south-west of Nicosia.

Congratulations! ASU archaeologist honored for research on early man

Ana Pinto, a Spanish archaeologist working at Arizona State University, knows the clan of the cave bear.

Thanks to her research, we understand more about these extinct animals and their relationship to early humans. Pinto has explored caves to study fossils of mammoths, elephants, rhinoceros, lions and leopards, work that affords new perspectives on the extinction of these creatures in southern Europe.

While excavating the Sopeña cave in northern Spain in 2002, Pinto discovered massive archaeological deposits produced by the continuous inhabitation of humans from Neanderthal times to the earliest arrival of our modern ancestors into Europe.

And now, the daily news from Mehr Unique column bases of Palace of Cyrus unearthed in Charkhab

Archaeologists have excavated three column bases with wonderfully unique masonry at the Palace of Cyrus the Great in Charkhab near Borazjan in Iran’s southern province of Bushehr, the director of the Iranian archaeological team working in the region announced on Saturday.

“The bases are from three of the four columns, which were located at the main gate of the palace. Archaeologists have not yet found the fourth one,” Ali-Akbar Sarfaraz added.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Yet another NW site found by construction crews Artifacts dug up at light rail bridge site

A significant Indian archaeological site has been uncovered on the banks of the Duwamish River exactly where Sound Transit plans to build columns to carry its elevated light rail line across the river.

Archaeologists hired to survey likely spots in advance of construction have discovered more than 900 artifacts in just several small digs so far, including fire-cracked rocks, stone tools, animal bones, shells and evidence of a structure with a hearth.

The site is believed to be more than several hundred years old, going back to a time before white people arrived in the Northwest.

Apparently not anywhere near as major a site as the one found in Port Angeles (the infamous Graving Yard site). This one may be fully excavated as well.

US hero's relation's body 'found'

Archaeologists believe they have found the pioneer's remains
Scientists may have found the bodies of two maternal relations of the man who established the first English-speaking colony in America in 1607.

They hope to find a DNA match of a relation of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold at a church in Stowmarket, Suffolk.

Archaeologists want to trace the relation to authenticate the remains of Gosnold found in the US.

Using radar they think they have found Gosnold's niece's remains at the St Peter and St Mary church.

Lost city. . . .not found yet. . .but they're looking Expedition group to be split into three teams

The group that will be setting out in search of a lost city in Johor will be split into three teams and enter three different parts of the possible location of the ancient site, most likely in early April.

Department of Museums and Antiquities director-general Datuk Dr Adi Taha said the area located around the Linggiu River would be divided into Kangkar, Kahang and Madek.

“We are writing a research proposal to guide us in this research and to have a more focused approach with the same level of expertise at the different locations.

“We have identified the areas and the approach will be concentrated at the mentioned areas. Archaeologists from the universities have agreed to work together,” he said yesterday after chairing a meeting between various parties.

Oxford Center Raises Controversy

Ancient Alexandria was famed for its philosophical disputes, and that tradition is very much alive in excavations now under way in the Egyptian port. Scholars are hotly debating a controversial agreement that gives a nonscientist, French businessman Franck Goddio, control over underwater archaeological data collection for Oxford University. At a conference held in December--a coming-out party for Oxford's new Center for Maritime Archaeology--dozens of scholars discussed new finds (see main text). But others avoided the event, arguing that contracting out the leadership of maritime digs to nonscientists sets a poor precedent.

Subscription-only link. The gist is found in these sentences: But Goddio's deal with Oxford raises concerns among many maritime archaeologists uncomfortable with turning over part of the scientific process to those who lack formal training. . .Robert Grenier, head of Ottawa's Parks Canada maritime archaeology unit, adds that Goddio's record is big on coffee-table books but small on scholarly publications.


Cunliffe insists that skilled nonscientists can make an enormous contribution because retrieving information from underwater digs is so technologically intensive and expensive. The choice he sees is to ignore nonscientists' expertise and funding, or to find a creative way to work with it.

It is controversial. Much work could be done with private money, but at what cost? The true difference between professionals and amateurs is in the publication. A dissertation isn't just a device that one does to show that one has "paid his/her dues", it's a testament to the ability to carry out original, significant research. Something that contributes to the field of knowledge rather than to the load-bearing abilities of coffee tables. We are confident that some of these joint ventures can be productive scientifically, but that needs to be demonstrated beforehand and judged ruthlessly. Once it's gone you can't go put it back together.

Friday, February 25, 2005

This weeks' EEF news as promised:

"Curse of King Tut haunts mourning woman"
The SCA will repatriate from South Africa a scarab believed stolen from the tomb of King Tutankhamen.

"Mubarak congratulates the eminent French Egyptologist"
"President Hosni Mubarak sent a congratulation cable to the 92 years old French archaeologist Christiane Desroches Noblecourt on the occasion of her obtaining the highest French decoration for her distinguished contributions in Egyptology."

"Livonia firm's X-ray system will help unravel ancient Egypt's mysteries"
"Mikron Digital Imaging Inc. has developed a portable system for digitally X-raying artifacts and some researchers believe the technology will become an indispensable tool at museums and archaeological digs."

A press report about an upcoming 'loft sale' in Taunton, Cornwall, of a 13th c. collection which includes "part of a carved wood coffin panel, a bird figure, a New Kingdom parchment fragment, a spearhead in bronze, and a figure of Teti."

"A Rich Handover": a cache of stolen antiquities in Cairo was recoverd.
" The collection includes a number of anthropoid sarcophagi, painted mummy masks, Ancient Egyptian ushabti figurines (wooden statuettes), limestone reliefs, necklaces, amulets, and scarabs, as well as a group of Graeco-Roman statues, Islamic vessels, clay chandeliers and coloured textiles."

Online dissertation: Andrzej Cwiek, Relief Decoration in the Royal Funerary Complexes of the Old Kingdom. Studies in the Development, Scene Content and Iconography, Institute of Archaeology, Faculty of History, Warsaw University, Warsaw, 2003. xxxv, 357 pp., 98 figs. on 60 unnumbered pp. - pdf-file: 16.4 MB
"It is the ancient Egyptian kingship that is the true subject of this work. Decoration of the royal funerary monuments, alongside with the architecture, statuary programme, texts and cult arrangements, expressed an idea
fundamental for the Egyptians: that of a man existing in between the two realms, the one of humanity and the one of gods."

Online version of: Jan Assmann, Preservation and Presentation of Self in Ancient Egyptian Portraiture, in: Peter Der Manuelian (ed.), Studies in Honor of William Kelly Simpson, vol. 1, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1996,
pp. 55-81 - pdf-file: 5.1 MB

Online version of Chapter 1: Introduction, pp. 1-28 of Barbara Johnstone, Discourse Analysis, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford / Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2001. Pb., ISBN: 0631208763, price: USD 40.95, GBP 19.99
info about the book:
"The discourse to be analyzed here [in this chapter] consists of what might be called popular Egyptology, in the form of advertising for and informational material about a museum exhibit called 'Splendors of Ancient
Egypt.'" - pdf-file: 218 KB

End of EEF news

Ancient fashion alert Can Cyprus claim world's oldest perfumery?

gypt's Queen Cleopatra showed how to woo members of the opposite sex with it, the French may have perfected it, but it is the Cypriots who can now lay claim to the world's oldest perfumery.

Nestled among the overgrown weeds on a Cypriot hillside offering stunning views of the Mediterranean, is a pit containing circular imprints which held perfume jars which Italian archaeologists believe is the oldest source of the multi-billion industry of today.

"This is 4,000 years old. Without a doubt, it is the oldest production site for perfume in the world," said Italian archaeologist Maria Rosaria Belgiorno, team leader of a mission excavating the Pyrgos-Mavroraki site 55 miles southwest of Cyprus's capital Nicosia.

Artist's conception of what an ancient Cypriot perfume spokesmodel may have looked like:

Archaeology Rapid Response Team update Island storms uncover medieval bones

SEVERE storms which hit Orkney last month have exposed human skeletons at a historic burial site.

Now a team of archaeologists are racing against time to excavate and study the site before the sea destroys it altogether.

The January storms revealed the remains on the foreshore below St Thomas’s Kirk and the broch at Hall of Rendall, near Tingwall. The Orkney Archaeological Trust informed Historic Scotland of the damage, and a decision was taken to move forward an excavation planned for this summer.
Busy day here at ArchaeoBlog's spacious metropolitan offices. Consequently, we will be posting some items (including EEF news) later on this afternoon.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Pun alert! House decides to dig deeper into archaeology issue

The House of Representatives has backed away from a proposal to transfer the state archaeologist and staff to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Instead, a substitute bill passed Tuesday calls for a study of where best to put these experts — destination not specified, as long they are kicked out of their present home in the state Division of State History.
"What that means," commented Duncan Metcalfe, curator of archaeology at the Utah Museum of Natural History, "is that they can choose the second best."

Ewwww. . . . Archaeologists Baffled by Headless Bodies Find

Archaeologists have been left mystified by the discovery of 36 decapitated bodies, it was revealed today.

Experts from the York Archaeological Trust unearthed the skeletons of 49 young men and seven children at a Roman cemetery they discovered in The Mount area of the city.

But they were stunned to find that most of the men had had their heads chopped off, while another was bound with iron shackles.

Out from underfoot

Southwest Ranches · It wasn't a housing development or retail complex that put a prehistoric Indian site at risk.

It was a herd of cows.

Although registered with the state as a protected site, few residents know that deep in Southwest Ranches is a former Everglades tree island, with artifacts from a civilization dating back more than a thousand years.

We here at ArchaeoBlog really like cows and hope some accomodation may be made for them.

1st century Buddha relics unearthed near Taxila

A group of South Korean team of archaeologists has discovered rare artefacts dating back to the early Kushan period in the 1st Century AD near the ancient city of Taxila.

According to The News, archaeologists have unearthed more than 200 remains, including one Buddha stupa belonging to the Buddha civilisation in Jaulian near Taxila. The Jaulian monastery is located atop the hill some 300 feet high, about six kms northeast of the Taxila Museum.

Saving Norwich market's history

Archaeologists from Norfolk Archaeological Unit are working closely with Norwich City Council to ensure that important remains of the historic market place in Norwich are not lost during the current refurbishment works.

The market, established between 1071 and 1074, is one of the oldest and largest in England. It once contained major buildings such as the Market cross, first built in 1411 and which stood over 60 feet high. This structure contained a chapel on top of a plinth 30 feet wide.

The refurbishment works require reduction of the entire area of the market by nearly two feet in depth, destroying almost all surviving medieval deposits. Staff of the Norfolk Archaeological Unit have therefore been appointed to ensure that any archaeological features, surfaces and finds are recorded.

Santa Fe civic center update Archaeologists: Stop Civic Center

The Santa Fe Archaeological Review Committee recommends the city avoid building a new civic center at the site of the Sweeney Convention Center because of the remains of a pre-Columbian village at the downtown site.

But two city councilors reached Friday said the report won't necessarily stop plans for a new center there.

"The preference is not to go ahead with it, but, if we do, that we get somebody good to come in and do the rest of the archaeology and try to get the best picture of what's down there and then also incorporate it into the design," said Councilor Karen Heldmeyer.

Heh. Probably swooped in by Blackhawk helicopter -- with trowels drawn! Experts have bones to pick on seashore

A RAPID response archaeology team has been sent to Orkney after storms exposed skeletons on the shore below St Thomas' Kirk.
Orkney Archaeological Trust informed Historic Scotland of the damage and the decision was taken to move forward a planned excavation which Historic Scotland had agreed to fund this summer.
The team will excavate, record and assess storm damage to the medieval graveyard at the kirk and the broch at Hall of Rendall.

Not too much coming over the wires today besides that. EEF news should be arriving shortly, and we'll post that. . . .errrrr, whenever. Probably tomorrow actually.

In the meantime, enjoy some pictures of dairy cows:

This one is out standing in his field. (Okay, her field. Probably).

This is what happens when Cows Go Bad:

A lovely cow in bas relief:


What cows do most of the time:

This one is called "Dairy Cow Incarnate":

And finally, an "Awwwwww..." cow:

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Were bigger brains really smarter?

Bigger is smarter is better. That's the conventional wisdom for why the human brain gradually became three times larger than the ancestral brain.

"But bigger brains were not generally smarter brains," said neurobiologist William H. Calvin at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Feb. 18. "Thanks to the archaeologists, we know that our ancestors went through two periods, each lasting more than a million years, when toolmaking techniques didn't gradually improve, despite a lot of gradual brain size increase."

Field school alert This was sent to us by a colleague. Sounds pretty good as students even get paid for working.

Please let your students know about a paid internship opportunity sponsored by
the National Science Foundations Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
program and the University of Michigan. Students will participate in archaeological field work and undertake their own research project, which will become a component of a public outreach project at the Homolovi Ruins State Park in northeastern Arizona. This program is an exciting collaboration between archaeologists with long-term research interests in the Homol'ovi area and museum studies professionals.

Here is website address for information and an application (due April 1,

You can also find the information on the Museum of Anthropology website at, go to the faculty and student resources, then field training opportunity, then Homol'ovi Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
Update on cooperative humans All For One? Why Humans Cooperate

Despite the fact that humans sometimes fight fiercely among themselves, one of our most distinctive human traits is our willingness to cooperate with others. Why we are like that is one of the really big questions confronting evolutionary psychologists.

"The fact that people cooperate is quite mysterious," says Robert Kurzban, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. "People are constantly talking about how organisms are competing, but one thing that humans do that's distinctive is they cooperate in groups."

Of course, we wonder what precise relevance a bunch of college students might have to Homo habili.

Okay, maybe a LOT. But that's not important right now. . . .

Neanderthal update For Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, Was It De-Lovely? (Free reg required)

he scientists did not get around to the nitty-gritty question until the fourth hour of a two-and-a-half-day symposium on Neanderthals, held recently at New York University.

A strong consensus was emerging, they agreed, that the now-extinct Neanderthals were a distinct evolutionary entity from modern humans, presumably a different species. They were archaic members of the human family, robust with heavy brow ridges and forward-projecting faces, who lived in Europe and western Asia from at least 250,000 years ago until they vanished from the fossil record about 28,000 years ago.

Neanderthals may have seen their first modern Homo sapiens some 100,000 years ago in what is now Israel. The two people almost certainly came in contact in Europe in the last centuries before the dwindling Neanderthal population was replaced forever by the intruding modern humans.

Good review article on the state of Neanderthal/Homo relations.

Convert back to grayscale, please Color Restored to Ancient Sculptures

Spurting red blood and flowing black dreadlocks are just a few of the details revealed on ancient sculptures at a Web site devoted to virtual color restoration, a growing trend that has resulted in a recent Vatican Museum exhibit on colored statues, as well as actual restoration of the world's best-preserved painted sculpture.

Before these projects, most all Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman and other early sculptures only were seen in the monotone colors of the sculpture's primary material, such as clay or marble, even though many of the objects originally were covered with gilt and bright paints.


Probably the reaction they wanted, however.

Gold! Digs at Archontiko, Pella uncover more gold-clad warriors

The gold of the ancient Macedonians still gleams on the soldiers’ uniforms being unearthed by excavations in the ancient necropolis of Archontiko in Pella.

Fully armed Macedonian aristocrats, gold-bedecked women in elaborate jewelry, faience idols and clay vases of exceptional beauty had lain concealed for centuries in 141 simple rectangular trench graves that were discovered recently in the ancient settlement.

In their tombs, Macedonian officers wore armor and — in the late Classical and early Hellenistic periods — were equipped for the journey after death with coins for Charon, copper utensils made by local metalworkers, and rare incense or oil containers with the war of the giants depicted in relief.

We'd never thought of that Panda skeleton found in ancient tomb

The skeleton of a giant panda has been found in a 4,000-year-old tomb in central China.

Wu Xianzhu from the Hubei Provincial Archaeology Research Institute says the giant panda was most likely part of a burial ritual.

Wu says pigs and dogs have been used in burials as funerary objects since the early New Stone Age, dating back about 8,000 years.

We probably should have assumed pandas -- cute little buggers that they are -- would have been in tombs, but we are distressed to learn they may have been hunted.

Mohr from Mehr Archaeologists save 2500-year-old shards of Tang-e Bolaghi

A team of Iranian and Italian archaeologists collected 4000 shards, some dating back to about 2500 years ago, from Tang-e Bolaghi, which will be flooded by the waters of the Sivand Dam, the director of the Iranian archaeological group said on Wednesday.

Situated in Fars Province, Tang-e Bolaghi is located only four kilometers away from Pasargadae, the first capital of the Achaemenid dynasty (about 550-331 B.C.) and the residence of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. Pasargadae was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List last July.

That's the great thing about pottery sherds, you can get a good sample of 'em in a couple of hours, since there's so many of the durn things lying around. Good to see they're getting the attention usually reserved for gold, silver, and inscribed tablets.

A Place to Rest for German Kings

Usually the western city of Aachen gets all the press -- at least when it comes to Charlemagne. It was the favorite residence of the emperor and served as the principal coronation site of Holy Roman emperors and German kings from the Middle Ages to the Reformation.

But now Aachen's been upstaged somewhat since an archeologist at the Roman-Germanic Museum in Mainz has uncovered part of an armrest that supported Charlemagne's royal left arm when he was visiting the city of Mainz.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Well, thanks to the geniuses at Microsoft who have still managed to create an operating system (i.e., XP) that any random Singaporean grade school student could completely disable with a simple VB script in an afternoon (not to mention knocking off a more secure and robust OS the next morning), we lost an entire post after a complete system crash (that don't occur anymore because, you know, XP is so much better). Please deluge Microsoft with emails requesting that they recreate said post for you.

Heck, maybe even ask a random Singaporean grade school student to write a quick VB script to co-opt thousands of Windows computers worldwide to forward said email. . . .

Picking up where we left off. .. . .

"Evolving to Eat Mush": How Meat Changed Our Bodies

Meat-eating has impacted the evolution of the human body, scientists reported today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Our fondness for a juicy steak triggered a number of adaptations over countless generations. For instance, our jaws have gotten smaller, and we have an improved ability to process cholesterol and fat.

Our taste for meat has also led us into some trouble—our teeth are too big for our downsized jaws and most of us need dental work.

Interesting article, although it doesn't really give any answers to the question of Why We Started Eating Meat. We find the whole chimps/gorillas analogy somewhat dubious, since it assumes modern chimps and gorillas are somehow suitable analogs for , say, Australopithecines and H. habili, but the genetic work sounds interesting.

And now for something completely different. . .

We here at ArchaeolBlog continue to scour the Web for anything of possible interest to our faithful readers. To wit, we were alerted to a new web site called Egyptomania.Org dedicated to "the fascination with ancient Egypt and its myriad manifestations". The site is still under construction, but we urge readers to go check it out and send along any suggestions to the site designers for content.

Also along those lines, we can also suggest for our Spanish-speaking denizen. Also of interest is Gavin's Egyptomania Pages with a LOT of cultural items with Egyptian influences from art to advertising (especially the Rameses underwear!) to 1920s cigarette cards.

Also check out George Mason University's American Egyptomania site.

We here at ArchaeoBlog are also quite fond of art deco stuff, which may or may not be a result of its roots in archaeology early in the last century. Explore this connection more at Jackie Craven's Art Deco pages at About.Com.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Stop the. . .bulldozers! City Urged To Avoid Building on Indian Village Site

A city committee of archaeologists has recommended that Santa Fe leaders avoid building a new civic center on a downtown site because of concerns that construction could ruin an undisturbed Indian village buried there.
The group's recommendation Thursday follows the same recommendation from Museum of New Mexico archaeologists this week, who, during excavations last fall, found what appears to be a relatively undisturbed village dating to between A.D. 1350 and 1400. The settlement, possibly a Tewa village, is concentrated in the area around the Sweeney Convention Center, City Hall and federal buildings across the street to the north.

This: One idea floated during Thursday's meeting was to build a section of the civic center that keeps intact any unearthed pueblo village remnants in a public viewing area -- might be kind of a neat idea, though who knows if it's architecturally feasible or not. One would think a convention center with a set of preserved ancient buildings displayed within would be a big draw.

Also from Albuquerque. . . Groups sue over Paseo extension

Work hasn't started on pushing Paseo del Norte through Petroglyph National Monument, and a lawsuit seeks to keep it that way.

A coalition of environmentalists, activists and archaeologists filed a lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque, Mayor Martin Chavez, the City Council and the city Department of Municipal Development seeking to halt all work on the controversial project.

It is the latest skirmish in a battle extending over years, pitting developers and traffic-weary West Side residents against groups seeking to preserve the 1.4-mile stretch of Petroglyph National Monument from potentially damaging effects of the commuter route.

Yes, do it Peoria weighs hiring own archaeologist

The city will consider hiring a part-time archaeologist and will explore other ways of protecting ancient Native American cultural sites turned up as development invades desert areas.

At a City Council study session Tuesday, city staff agreed to research various strategies, such as having trained volunteers watch the sites and arranging for storage of items found there.

Items could be stored with archaeologists who survey the sites, at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson or at a city-owned site.

Hot issue: Who gets access to artifacts in Alabama's rivers?

One of the hottest debates at the Alabama Legislature has nothing to do with taxes, budgets or pay raises. It's about access to the artifacts submerged in the muddy rivers throughout the state.

The battle pits divers and amateur collectors against historical groups and descendants of Alabama's earliest residents.

It's so hot that a hearing Wednesday on the issue drew about 100 people to the Statehouse_ far more than attended a hearing the same day on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.


"No group of bureaucrats ought to have the right or authority to shackle private people," said Archie Phillips, host of an outdoors TV show in Birmingham and no relation to Steve Phillips.

George Ewert, director of the Museum of Mobile and a member of the Historical Commission's maritime advisory council, said the public wouldn't want someone with a metal detector digging up state parks to look for old coins, and the same standard should apply to state-owned waters.

seems to slam-dunk the issue if, in fact, rivers and what not are actually state property.

Good for them Italians and Iranians Join to Save Bolaghi Ancient Sites

A joint team of Italian and Iranian experts will start next week to explore the ancient cemeteries and settlements of Bolaghi gorge, behind the Sivand Dam, as part of the project to save the archeological site.

Bolaghi little valley, located 84 kilometers from the world heritage site of Pasargadae, in Fars province, has once been, according to some experts, home to the King Road. The Road is considered the major ancient road of Iran which connected Pasargadae to Persepolis and Susa, and includes some remains as old as the time that human beings were cave dwellers, to the prehistoric era, up to the Islamic times.

Update on Mexican pyramid sub-atomic physics project Cosmic Rays to Solve Ancient Mexican Mystery

Sub-atomic particles created by cosmic rays from space are to be used to probe a giant Mexican pyramid and solve one of the world’s greatest archaeological mysteries.

Investigators are to install detectors beneath the Pyramid of the Sun that look for muons – charged particles generated when cosmic rays hit the atmosphere which continuously shower the Earth.

They hope the rate at which muons pass through the pyramid will reveal any hidden burial chambers inside.

Archeologists discover St Paul´s tomb

Vatican archeologists believe that they have identified the tomb in Rome´s St Paul Outside the Walls basilica, following the discovery of a stone coffin during excavations carried out over the past three years.

Catholic World News reports that a sarcophagus - or stone coffin - which may contain the remains of St Paul has been identified in the basilica, according to Giorgio Filippi, a archeology specialist with the Vatican Museums.

"The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius (379- 395) saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle," Filippi reports.

More later.

We promise this time.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Bad archaeologist! No biscuit! History of modern man unravels as German scholar is exposed as fraud

It appeared to be one of archaeology's most sensational finds. The skull fragment discovered in a peat bog near Hamburg was more than 36,000 years old - and was the vital missing link between modern humans and Neanderthals.

This, at least, is what Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten - a distinguished, cigar-smoking German anthropologist - told his scientific colleagues, to global acclaim, after being invited to date the extremely rare skull.

However, the professor's 30-year-old academic career has now ended in disgrace after the revelation that he systematically falsified the dates on this and numerous other "stone age" relics.

We just have to highlight more:

The university is investigating how thousands of documents lodged in the anthropology department relating to the Nazis' gruesome scientific experiments in the 1930s were mysteriously shredded, allegedly under the professor's instructions.

They also discovered that some of the 12,000 skeletons stored in the department's "bone cellar" were missing their heads, apparently sold to friends of the professor in the US and sympathetic dentists.

Hel-LOOOOOOOOOO!!! This is supposedly why we have PEER REVIEW people! And why procedures and security are supposed to be in place in museums and such. Oye vey.

Professor Protsch at "an enormous dig outside of Cairo":

Pottery Presented as Evidence Of Olmec Culture's Influence (Free reg probably required)

Scientists presented new evidence yesterday that the fabled Olmec, sculptors of ancient Mexico's colossal stone heads, were the region's first dominant civilization, a "mother culture" that served as the hub of lesser settlements.

For decades, a debate has raged between scholars favoring the mother-culture hypothesis and those who argue that the Olmec were just one of several "sister" cultures that developed simultaneously.

George Washington University's Jeffrey P. Blomster, leader of the team that examined pottery samples from Mexico and Central America, said at a news conference that chemical analysis of the clays and potsherds suggested that while other ancient settlements made pottery with symbols and designs in the "Olmec style," only the early Olmec themselves -- at San Lorenzo near Mexico's Gulf Coast -- exported their pottery.

Tsunami uncoverings update Tsunami Uncovers Ancient City in India

Archaeologists have begun underwater excavations of what is believed to be an ancient city and parts of a temple uncovered by the tsunami off the coast of a centuries-old pilgrimage town.

Three rocky structures with elaborate carvings of animals have emerged near the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, which was battered by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

As the waves receded, the force of the water removed sand deposits that had covered the structures, which appear to belong to a port city built in the seventh century, said T. Satyamurthy, a senior archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India.

Doesn't say much new, but there it is.

Iron age necklace discovered

An amateur archaeologist using a 30-year-old metal detector has discovered a rare golden necklace from the iron age buried in a local farmer's field.

The delicately twisted torc, designed for a well-to-do member of a tribe in the area now covered by north Nottinghamshire, is expected to be valued at more than £100,000.

Maurice Richardson, 55, a self-employed tree surgeon from Newark, reported the find to the local coroner after initially thinking his soil-covered discovery was scrap metal.

Coptic trove

In Al-Gurna where several excavation missions are probing for more Ancient Egyptian treasures under the sand, a team from the Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology has stumbled on a major Coptic trove buried under the remains of a sixth-century monastery located in front of a Middle Kingdom tomb.

Excavators unearthed two papyri books with Coptic text along with a set of parchments placed between two wooden labels as well as Coptic ostraca, pottery fragments and textiles.

If you've never looked up Coptic history or archaeology, now's the time to do it!

Scum Utah legislators grabbing power from archaeologists

Utah legislators are moving to gut a tiny agency responsible for archaeology and historic preservation, a target of complaints by other agencies that manage state lands for insisting they follow laws preserving cultural resources.

A House committee on Friday approved taking the Antiquities Division out of an economic development department where it enjoys relative autonomy, and putting it under control of its biggest critic, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

"It is an extreme measure, but it's telling you how frustrated people are with the process," Miles Moretti, acting director of the Division of Wildlife Resources, said Friday in an interview.

Kinda reads like an opinion piece.

Times never change Ancient Egyptians Hoarded Crude Oil

New research suggests that oil and its by-products were valued and traded in the Mideast at least 3,000 years ago, the same region that dominates world production and export of crude oil today.

Evidence for the discovery came from surprising sources — mummies.

According to a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Geoarchaeology, scientists found tar on several ancient Egyptian mummies. Because every batch of tar contains unique biochemicals, the researchers were able to trace the sticky substances back to their origins.

This is a story we linked to a while back, but this has some more info.

Edom update Controversial Dates Of Biblical Edom Reassessed

New archeological research from modern-day Jordan indicates the existence of the biblical nation of Edom at least as early as the 10th Century B.C., the era of kings David and Solomon, and adds to the controversy over the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. The full results of the 2002 excavation, by a team of international scholars, at the site of Khirat en-Nahas (or “ruins of copper,” in Arabic), are reported in the current issue of the British journal Antiquity.

The new study, under the direction of University of California, San Diego, Professor of Archeology Thomas Levy, contradicts much contemporary scholarship which had argued that, because there had been no physical evidence, no Edomite state had existed before the 8th Century B.C. Until the current discovery many scholars had said the Bible’s numerous references to ancient Israel’s interactions with Edom could not be valid.

More info, but nothing particularly new.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Weekly news from the EEF:

Press report: "[Egyptian] Draft law for harshening penalty for stealing antiquities."

Press report: "A glimpse of eternity":
The Robert V. Fullerton Museum at Cal State San Bernardino has put its newest acquisition on display: a 2500 year old coffin lid of a man called Neter Heneb. With photos.

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner]
Press release: "Tutankhamun Examined in a CT Scanner"
"... The condition of the mummy is very bad: It was supposedly damaged when its discoverers removed jewelry from the body ..." - Note the picture on the left at bottom.

Digitized Book from the Giza Digital Library
-- George A. Reisner, Mycerinus. The Temples of the Third Pyramid at Giza, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1931. XXI, 292 pp., 78 pls., 12 plans - pdf-file: 176 MB (can also be downloaded in parts)

Online dissertation: Diane Victoria Flores, The Funerary Sacrifice of Animals during the Predynastic Period, University of Toronto, 1999. xiv, 215 pp. - pdf-file: 15.6 MB
"This study is an attempt to rnarshal all the available contextual evidence for the independent animal burials, with the intention of providing a cultural framework within which interpretations for such burials may be adequately evaluated."

Michel Wuttmann, Thierry Gonon, Christophe Thiers , "The Qanats of 'Ayn-Manâwîr (Kharga Oasis, Egypt)" in: JASR 2000.1(Journal of Achaemenid Studies and Researches); in PDF (2.4 MB)
IFAO research of the site that became resettled in the 5th c. BC due to a technical inovation, namely a network of Qanats. A temple of Osiris and ostraca were found, but the article is mainly about ancient water management.

Online version of: William Stevenson Smith, The Old Kingdom Linen List, in: ZÄS, vol. 71, pp. 134-49 (1935) - pdf-file: 2.8 MB

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner]
* "The Ancient Egypt film site"
"This website contains documentation and other information about motion pictures related to Ancient Egypt and Egyptology."

End of EEF news

Food! A set of 2,800-year-old pottery discovered in Gansu

Archaeologists in northwest China's Gansu Province recently discovered two pottery cooking utensils made 2,800 years ago.

A pot and a food steamer, excavated from a site in Lintao County of Gansu Province, are yellow with no designs. The pot is 26 cm high with two handles. The steamer has a diameter of 28 cm with a height of 16 cm.

Okay, big whoop. A couple of pots.

More later.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ain't nuthin safe anymore
Ice Age axes taken by car thieves

An archaeologist's car containing two axes from the Ice Age has been stolen from outside a Birmingham hotel.

Mark Olly, of Warrington, Cheshire, was giving a lecture on druids at the Wellington Hotel in Bromsgrove Street, when the vehicle was taken on Tuesday.

A replica of a 750BC bronze sword, with a distinctive brass discoloration on the blade, was also taken, along with electrical goods worth nearly £5,000.


Archaeologists say ancient pueblo buried under Santa Fe City Hall

Archaeologists report an ancient pueblo is buried beneath Santa Fe City Hall, the city’s convention center and a parking lot they share.

The report is from the Museum of New Mexico’s office of archaeological studies and says the pueblo is a relatively undisturbed village dating to between AD 1350 and 1400.

Archaeologists have long suspected that an ancient pueblo was underneath downtown Santa Fe.

A team of state archaeologists dug a dozen test pits during October 2004 and last January and confirmed those suspicions.

They uncovered what appeared to be burial pits with human and animal remains, pottery shards, kivas and tools.

More here.

NAGPRA update Reburial of bones delayed again

The on-again, off-again reburial of human remains on the Wal-Mart property is off again.

Melanie Chinen, the administrator of the State Historic Preservation Division, yesterday said the planned reinterment on Friday of an estimated 61 sets of remains unearthed during construction of the Wal-Mart complex on Ke'eaumoku Street has been postponed.

The state could not take over control of the on-site trailer where the bones are stored, Chinen said, because the archaeologist hired to work on them did not submit a final written inventory of the remains.

Archaeology in Iran: could the Bulaghi dam project be a blessing in disguise?

Between Pasargadae, the first capital of the Persian empire, and Persepolis, a road leads through a narrow gorge through a little valley called Bulaghi. A dam is under construction, scheduled to be finished this year, which will flood 20 square kilometres of the valley, raising the water level in the river that flows through it by several metres. The waters will rise to within six kilometres of the tomb of Cyrus, which is not itself at risk, nor are the palaces in the vicinity. At the request of the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (ICHTO), archaeologists carried out emergency surveys of this area in 2003 and 2004.

This is actually quite a good article. Read the whole thing.

Tsunami update Tsunami waves uncover ancient temple relics near Chennai

The impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami may have been devastating but the fury of the waves has also exposed some ancient relics on the coast close to India's famous beachfront Mahabalipuram temple in Tamil Nadu.

Archaeologists believe that the findings belong to the ancient port of Mahabalipuram, part of the Pallava dynasty that existed in South India from the first century BC.

Carved out of single rock, the exposed stone remains have engravings depicting animal figures and characters from Hindu scriptures.

We don't think this is the same story of a few days ago. Probably more will come to light.

Saaaay more bones at a construction site Bones Found On Metro Construction Site

A construction crew in the metro stumbled upon the unexpected while at work. They were digging at a construction site at East 4th and Grand in Des Moines.

Some human bones were found about ten to fifteen feet under ground. They were found in soil that used to be part of the Des Moines River leading investigators to believe they've been there for quite awhile.

Dr. Gregory Schmunk, Polk County Medical Examiner, said, "I'm sure the river has shifted over years. These look like ancient bones, but the question is- are they Native American?" The state archaeologist will examine the bones to see if they are Native American.

Meanwhile, construction has stopped for the time being, and the Des Moines Police Department is keeping an eye on the scene.

That's the whole thing. No doubt we will be hearing more on this story.

Heh. Oops. Bones found under Des Moines street

The bones found by crews digging a trench under a downtown Des Moines street turned out not to be human.
Shirley Schermer of the state archaeologist's office in Iowa City said today (Wednesday) the bones were deer bones.

Oh well,maybe we won't be hearing anymore about it. . . .

More on the Omo remains The oldest Homo sapiens

When the bones of two early humans were found in 1967 near Kibish, Ethiopia, they were thought to be 130,000 years old. A few years ago, researchers found 154,000- to 160,000-year-old human bones at Herto, Ethiopia. Now, a new study of the 1967 fossil site indicates the earliest known members of our species, Homo sapiens, roamed Africa about 195,000 years ago.

"It pushes back the beginning of anatomically modern humans," says geologist Frank Brown, a co-author of the study and dean of the University of Utah's College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

And more on the King Tut Murder Mystery Tutankhamun Murder Mystery Hangs on March Report

A team of experts expects to announce in March whether the latest test results on the mummified body of Tutankhamun will provide evidence for the theory that the boy pharaoh was murdered.

Zahi Hawass, head of the Egyptian government's Supreme Council for Antiquities, told Reuters that results from a high tech x-ray scan of the mummy would help explain a bone chip in the skull that has sparked the murder theory.

And an update on the great Oetzi Murder Mystery Alpine iceman reveals Stone Age secrets

Some 5,300 years after his violent death, a Stone Age man found
frozen in the Alps is slowly revealing his secrets to a global team of scientists.

But despite more than a decade of high-tech efforts by geneticists, botanists and engineers
many questions about his life and death remain unsolved.

And rumours of a deadly curse on those who found him continue to swirl.

Not a terribly detailed article, and the curse stuff is a little bizarre, but it gives basic info on what's been happening to the Iceman.

Old story update Carbon dating backs Bible on Edom

The Mideast's latest archaeological sensation is all about Edom.

The Bible says Edom's kings interacted with ancient Israel, but some scholars have confidently declared that no Edomite state could have existed that early.

The latest archaeological work indicates the Bible got it right, those experts got it wrong and some write-ups need rewriting. The findings also could buttress disputed biblical reports about kings David and Solomon.

Heh. Guess these are all "old stories". . . . .

The ancient stadium revealed

The ambitious task of documenting the stadia of the ancient world and of analyzing the diverse roles and significance of athletic games is undertaken in the compendious book “Ancient Stadia: Stadia and Games from Olympia to Antioch,” recently published by Itanos in English.

Designed by Maria Stefossi, who was also responsible for the book’s concept, this publication more closely approximates an album than a specialized treatise on the subject. The book contains 280 color, large-format photographs that show the stadia in their present state, ancient vase paintings and sculptures related to the ancient games. Interspersed among them are brief chapters on a number of subjects broadly related to the spirit of athleticism, among them sport as a vital part of education, the ways that athleticism was tied to religion, the myths from which the various games were born, and the types of games themselves. The research and text is by archaeologist George G. Kavvadias.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Breaking news Human fossils dated to 195,000 years

A new analysis of bones unearthed nearly 40 years ago in Ethiopia has pushed the fossil record of modern humans back to nearly 200,000 years ago - perhaps close to the dawn of the species.

Researchers determined that the specimens are around 195,000 years old. Previously, the oldest known fossils of Homo sapiens were Ethiopian skulls dated to about 160,000 years ago.

Genetic studies estimate that Homo sapiens arose about 200,000 years ago, so the new research brings the fossil record more in line with that, said John Fleagle of Stony Brook University in New York, an author of the study.

Nature news article here. The full-text article is here (subscription required) but here is the abstract:

In 1967 the Kibish Formation in southern Ethiopia yielded hominid cranial remains identified as early anatomically modern humans, assigned to Homo sapiens. However, the provenance and age of the fossils have been much debated. Here we confirm that the Omo I and Omo II hominid fossils are from similar stratigraphic levels in Member I of the Kibish Formation, despite the view that Omo I is more modern in appearance than Omo II. 40Ar/39Ar ages on feldspar crystals from pumice clasts within a tuff in Member I below the hominid levels place an older limit of 198 plusminus 14 kyr (weighted mean age 196 plusminus 2 kyr) on the hominids. A younger age limit of 104 plusminus 7 kyr is provided by feldspars from pumice clasts in a Member III tuff. Geological evidence indicates rapid deposition of each member of the Kibish Formation. Isotopic ages on the Kibish Formation correspond to ages of Mediterranean sapropels, which reflect increased flow of the Nile River, and necessarily increased flow of the Omo River. Thus the 40Ar/39Ar age measurements, together with the sapropel correlations, indicate that the hominid fossils have an age close to the older limit. Our preferred estimate of the age of the Kibish hominids is 195 plusminus 5 kyr, making them the earliest well-dated anatomically modern humans yet described.
Ghosts! Archaeologists move into Qld ghost town

To an historical journey of discovery. Across Australia, the ruins of dozens of towns lie buried in the dust, with very little evidence that large communities once thrived there.

After the gold ran out or the timber was felled, these towns with their hotels, factories, libraries, schools and even tramway systems, simply vanished.

But today a team of archaeologists is kicking up the dust on the empty streets of one of these ghost towns in Queensland, trying to piece together what life was like in the long-forgotten settlement called Mill Point.

It's a transcript of a radio program.

$$$$$ for artifacts Cash Boost For National UK Archaeology Scheme

The future of the UK’s most popular community archaeology project has been secured with new funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) was set up in 1997 to help identify and record archaeological items found by members of the public. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered by metal detector users and by people out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. The Portable Antiquities Scheme’s network of Finds Liaison Officers work with finders to research and record their objects for public benefit. Since the Scheme was set up more than 100,000 objects have been recorded on its online database, ranging from Prehistoric flints to Post-Medieval buckles.

Field between Tecate, Ensenada yields tools

For the first time in Baja California, archaeologists have found significant evidence of hunters who settled the region between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, known as INAH, announced the recent recovery of more than 150 stone knives, spearheads, cutting utensils and other carved items from an open field between Tecate and Ensenada.

The items are being linked to the San Dieguito people acknowledged as the earliest settlers of the region.

Kennewick Man update Tribes appeal Kennewick Man ruling, seek role in future finds

Indian tribes that failed to block the scientific examination of the 9,400-year-old remains known as Kennewick Man are appealing a court ruling in hopes of gaining a role in future discoveries.

The appeal of a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was brought Monday by the Nez Perce Tribe, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Yakama Indian Nation, which claim Kennewick Man as an aboriginal ancestor.

"It's a fundamental right to protect the grave of your ancestor," said Audie Huber, intergovernmental affairs manager for the Umatilla Reservation's Department of Natural Resources.

This doesn't really say much and we are at a loss as to what this appeal hopes to accomplish.

CHTO experts rescue Izeh’s stone lions

Experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) were able to save the stone lions and tombstones in a graveyard in Khuzestan which were in danger of being submerged by the rising waters of the reservoir of the Karun-3 Dam.

The stone lions and tombstones of the Zir Pass in the Izeh region of Khuzestan Province, symbols of the bravery of Bakhtiari heroes 200 years ago, were finally transferred to a safe place.

Coffin update Discovering the secrets of city's ancient stone coffin

A STONE coffin containing a mummified body was lifted from a grave yesterday, more than 1,600 years after it was buried.

Archaeologists said the body had been so well preserved that it might be possible to make out its facial features.

The late-Roman coffin was uncovered by contractors carrying out development work on a car park in Mill Mount, York, for Shepherd Homes.

Jerk. (if true, of course) State: Builder ravaged trust land

It's gone and, in this case, not forgotten: priceless scientific information and ancient artifacts smeared across the desert by great earthmovers.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard alleges that Scottsdale developer George H. Johnson illegally bulldozed 270 acres of state trust land in and near Ironwood Forest National Monument, north of Marana.

The area was thick with native desert vegetation and home to many Hohokam archaeological sites, including the Los Robles Archaeological District, which is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Whoops Marine's mementos turn out to be 5,000 years old

In 2003, a marine at a U.S. military base in southern Iraq bought eight carved stones from a trinket vendor for several hundred dollars. When he returned to New York, he took the stones to an archaeology professor at Columbia University, who concluded they were ancient artifacts, some dating back 5,000 years.
The FBI, which has recovered the stones, will return them on Wednesday to the Iraqi authorities at a ceremony at the University of Pennsylvania's archaeology museum, which plans to display the pieces - before they are returned to Iraq - as an example of the continuing threat to the country's cultural heritage.

Well, at least he returned them.

Put one in your garden!
NZ unveils Stonehenge replica

The NZ Stonehenge aims to help people rediscover astronomy
Nestled into the verdant hills of the New Zealand region of the Wairarapa is the world's newest "Stonehenge" but this henge is no mere pastiche.

Instead, Stonehenge Aotearoa, which opened this weekend, is a full-scale adaptation of its Salisbury Plain ancestor, built to work for the Antipodes.

The aim of the Kiwi Stonehenge is to help people rediscover the basics of astronomy.

And finally, this story brought to our attention by Ann Althouse on Peter V. Bianchi. Sayeth Ann: "What I find so strange about the picture is that it looks like an absolutely normal human being with the top of his head shorn off. He looks awfully pouty and sad. Who wouldn't be? So our caveman's please-help-me expression was really Leakey pleading for support?"

We're wondering if the inspiration isn't a bit more prosaic:

You decide.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Just a few items so far today. We'll keep our eyes open for more stuff coming over the wires.

Update on Kansas Clovis find Discovery Could Change Dates for Human Arrival on the Great Plains

Bones of now-extinct animals and a rock fragment discovered last summer in northwestern Kansas could rewrite the history of humans on the Great Plains.

The bones, which appear to have been fractured by humans, were collected from a site in Sherman County and studied by scientists at the Kansas Geological Survey, the University of Kansas and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Dated by carbon-14 methods at 12,200 years old, the bones could be the oldest evidence of human occupation in Kansas, and they may be the oldest evidence of humans on the Great Plains.

The research was conducted by archaeologist Steven Holen at the Denver Museum, archaeological geologist Rolfe Mandel at the Kansas Geological Survey and archaeologist Jack Hofman at the KU anthropology department.

Mystery! The Mystery of the Longhu Mountain Tombs Remains

The Longhu Mountains of Jiangxi province, lie alongside the Luxi River. On each side of the river hang thousand-foot precipices, leaving caves whose faces are entirely covered with natural caverns of all sizes. Coffins are hung inside these caverns, situated between 20 and 100 meters from the water below. The means by which the ancients got the heavy coffins into the holes on sheer cliffs remain a mystery.

According to Chinese news website, there is a legend that claims that the caverns are hiding places for vast quantities of gold, silver and other valuable treasures. Weathering has exposed the coffins. Some caverns hold many coffins, including one that holds more than 10. Some seem to be husband and wife tombs, and the most numerous, by far, are individual tombs. Interestingly, all of the caverns are on the cliff face that faces the sun, or the yang side.

Archaeologists hope to rewrite Cologne's past

Archaeologists on Tuesday started one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in Europe, hoping to rewrite the 2 000-year history of Cologne.

The diggers have four years to shift 100 000 cubic metres of soil, looking for foundations and artefacts that will go on display at the city museum.

The Romans founded "Colonia" and it was one of European biggest cities in late Roman times and the Middle Ages. Past digs have yielded Roman mosaics, tombstones and oil lamps.

Chief archaeologist Hansgerd Hellenkemper said his team would try to discover why the Roman river port silted up and how Cologne was affected by a drastic change in the world's climate 1 800 years ago.

The team are to dig up to 13 metres under the surface at sites that have been reserved for an underground railway. When the 100 archaeologists leave, the engineers will move in.

That's the whole thing.

City site discovered in Dengfeng may be 4,000-year-old capital

Archaeologists claim that the large-scale city remains they discovered in Dengfeng in central China's Henan Province may be the ruins of Yangcheng, capital of King Yu, founder of the Xia Dynasty (21st century B.C.- 16th B.C.).

The discovery was made during the excavations of ruins at Wangchenggang site near Dengfeng from 2002 to 2004, which was cooperatively made by archaeologists from the School of Archaeology and Museology of Beijing University and the Henan Provincial Research Institute of Archeology.

Covering 300,000 square meters, the remains include the ruins of a city, a moat and a city wall.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Okay, through much fiddling we have managed to restore our news feed. Here is some of what has been missed:

Lost city. . .soon-to-be-Found? Lots of challenges ahead

Any expedition in search of the lost city that is reportedly located in Johor can expect to meet a variety of challenges, some of which might include predators, booby traps and thick forests that have reclaimed the land.

According to Prof Datuk Abdul Latiff Mohamad of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), an abandoned settlement located in the jungle could be reclaimed by forest in just 80 years.

“Weeds would creep in first, then pioneer tree species would come in leading to a secondary forest in about 80 to 100 years.

And just to prove a day can't go by without news from Mehr. . . Researchers to document ancient Iranian architecture

A project to more systematically document ancient Iranian historical structures and architecture is to be implemented during the next Iranian calendar year (begins March 21, 2005), the director of the Research Center of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) announced on Monday.

Mohammad-Hassan Mohebali said that the documentation project will collect comprehensive information about various styles of architecture over the course of Iran’s history.

We do this a lot Archaeologists eye prehistoric village

Five thousand years ago, a band of ancient people built homes on the edge of a stream in what is now the Denver suburb of Parker.

It was not a temporary camp, like so many of the archaeological discoveries made from that period. People here made large houses, some of them 24 feet across, with wood posts and walls of brush or hide. They probably spent months in the area and may have returned, again and again, over centuries.

The experts at a construction site here have about a month or two to make sense of butchered bison bones, spear points, grinding stones and pit houses. After that, the site will probably be demolished to make way for Parker's new reservoir complex.

City of fables unearths real heroes from Roman era

It is the home of Humpty Dumpty, old King Cole and Camelot � or so legend has it.

But archaeologists raking over the past can now go one better for the English city of Colchester.

After painstaking excavation work they have proof of real heroes from the ancient world. Last month they revealed the remains of a Roman circus, or chariot racing track.

We think this is a story we've reported on a few times, but it has apparently made it to India. You know, need to keep the old colonialists up to date. . .

Ruins Support Myth of Rome's Founding

Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of Mars, the god of war, who were suckled as infants by a she-wolf in the woods.

Now, archaeologists believe they have found evidence that at least part of that tale may be true: Traces of a royal palace discovered in the Roman Forum have been dated to roughly the period of the eternal city's legendary foundation.

Andrea Carandini, a professor of archaeology at Rome's Sapienza University who has been conducting excavations at the Forum for more than 20 years, said he made the discovery over the past month at the spot where the Temple of Romulus stands today.

New Clovis site? Ancient campsite find is one of oldest on record

Among ancient animal bones eroding out of a dry western Kansas creek bank, archaeologists say they have found one of the oldest human campsites in North America.

They found mammoth bone and stone-tool flint lying next to each other, in soil dating from 11,000 years ago.

Below that, they found something even more tantalizing: mammoth and camel bone, fractured in a way that the archaeologists say can be caused only when people shatter bone with stone to make flaked bone tools, or to get at the nutritious marrow.

It's true, most probably won't accept it as genuine based only on spiral fracturing of bones, in the absence of anything else (undoubted stone tools for example).

That's a relief No remains found in old graveyard

Nathan Williams still remembers the old graveyard and the fright it gave him as a child.

Sometimes he walked past on his way to school. More often he ran to evade the ghosts that might have haunted the field.

"My older brother would say, `Old Mr. So and So' is going to get you,'" said Williams, 46, of Deerfield Beach.
We're having trouble with our wire service feeds so news is limited today.

Antiquities Market update Greek police seize ancient 'treasure trove'

Police seized thousands of illegally excavated ancient artifacts and coins during a raid in northern Greece, and arrested a man on suspicion of smuggling, authorities said Saturday.

Authorities confiscated 3,000 silver and copper coins, and 1,000 artifacts - including jewelry and a statuette depicting the ancient Greek mythological hero Hercules - dating from Paleolithic times to the medieval Byzantine era.

"This is an ancient treasure trove," said the head of Thessaloniki police's antiquities theft department, Stefanos Symeonidis.
The suspect, a 40-year-old hairdresser, was arrested after police raided his home and a warehouse Friday in Nea Polonia, about 35 kilometers (20 miles) east of Thessaloniki.

Yay! Ancient scrolls being digitised in UAE

More than 100,000 ancient Indian manuscripts and 15 million historic documents in Urdu, Persian and Arabic and 5 million English manuscripts are being digitised by the Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage in Dubai.

The documents and manuscripts, mostly from southern India, cover various eras and ages in Indian history and culture, said the head of the centre's studies and publication wing, Izzidin Bin Zeghiba.

More plot thickening Professor disturbed by plagiarism allegations

NIU anthropology professor Winifred Creamer is "very unhappy" that plagiarism allegations against her keep appearing in newspapers.

"My work is being slandered by people who don’t want to take time to look into it [the allegations]," Creamer said. "Not one of those allegations are true."

Creamer and her husband Jonathan Haas, curator of the Chicago Field Museum, have been working in Peru since 1999. Her team is researching the start of complex Peruvian society, which began around 1,800 B.C. to 3,000 B.C.

Fight! Fight! Resort in court over burial site

A resort on South Pender Island has been charged with illegally damaging an ancient aboriginal burial site two years ago when the resort was renovated and expanded.

Poets Cove Seaside Resort and Spa -- formerly known as the Bedwell Harbour Resort and Marina -- faces two charges under the rarely used B.C. Heritage Conservation Act.

Stan Lowe, a prosecutor and spokesman for other provincial Crown prosecutors, said the alleged offences occurred in December 2002 and January 2003.

Now, this is cool Roman coffin discovered intact

A ROMAN wooden coffin has been unearthed in London, the only example of its kind found in Britain.

Archaeologists expressed excitement that it had survived intact, centuries after other examples had disintegrated without trace. In dating from AD120, the new find is an unusually early example of a Roman burial.

It was not until the 3rd century AD that the Roman Britons generally buried their dead. Prior to this they usually favoured cremation. The skeleton belonged to a man over the age of 25, at a time when only 10 per cent lived beyond the age of 45.

Non-Mehr story from Iran! Burial Site of Elamite King Undergoes Excavations, Iran

The archeological site of Arjan, Khuzestan province, where it is believed that the greatest Elamite King has been buried along with all his invaluable personal pocessions, will soon undergo new studies.

Archeologist will start in a few days time to demarcate and dig boring pits in Arjan area, which is some 300-400 hectares and is located in Behbahan, in the southern province of Khuzestan.

New hope in hunt for Roman library

A PHILANTHROPIST has stepped forward to fund excavations at the ancient city of Herculaneum in Italy, where scholars believe a Roman library lies buried beneath 3m of lava from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79.

David W. Packard, whose family helped to found the Hewlett-Packard computer company, is concerned that the site may be poorly conserved or that excavation of the library may not continue unless he underwrites the work.

Herculaneum, south of present-day Naples, was buried by the same eruption that destroyed nearby Pompeii.

"It is hard to imagine anything more exciting than excavating at Herculaneum," said Mr Packard, who is channelling the money through a family institute.

Rhodes mayor wants to rebuild Colossus, a wonder of the ancient world

The mayor of Rhodes relaunched an often-delayed project to rebuild the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Greek news agency ANA reported.

Mayor Yannis Iatridis at a press conference proposed building the gigantic statue of the sun god Helios on a hill near the seaside resort of Faliraki.

The Greek-Cypriot artist Nicolaos Gotziamanis, who has been preparing the project for several years, would erect the statue estimated to cost 100 million euros (129 million dollars) under the plan. It would be made of brass and stand about 33 meters (108 feet) tall.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Weekly news from the EEF

Press report about the only Egyptian mummy of the Auckland Museum, and the debate about exhibiting human remains:
"Display of Egyptian mummy a tad hypocritical":
Museum's page about the mummy:
[Ed.s It's an editorial, not really a "report".]

In the new January/February 2005 issue of Current World Archaeology, no.9, there is a story about the moving, and scanning, of the statue of Ramesses II . Only the abstract is online, but with photos:

On the Archaeology Magazine website, the Interactive Dig Update - "Fixing the Fort at Hierakonpolis" has been updated with Part Three. Renee Friedman about King Khasekhemwy's Ceremonial Enclosure.

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner]
A Stela of Ikhernofret (Berlin 1204) date: 12th dyn., reign of Sesostris III
-- Photograph in: William Kelly Simpson, The Terrace of the Great God at Abydos: The Offering Chapels of Dynasties 12 and 13, New Haven and Philadelphia, 1974, pl. 1
-- Drawing: LD II, 135 h (393 KB)
-- Hieroglyphic text
-- English translation in: James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. I, Chicago, 1906, sections 661-670

Online dissertation: Thierry Verdel, Géotechnique et Monuments Historiques. Méthodes de modélisation appliquées à des cas égyptiens, Thèse présentée devant l'Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, Ecole de
Mines, Nancy, 1993. 303 pp. - pdf-file: 2.3 MB
"... we specially dealt with two main problems : the role played by discontinuities and the role played by the clay swelling phenomenon on the stability of some Egyptian monuments. The Baboon tomb and the Serapeum at
Sakkara, Memnon Colossi and IXth Pylon of Karnak temple at Luxor were used to illustrate these problems."

Digitized Books from the Giza Digital Library
-- George A. Reisner, A History of the Giza Necropolis, vol. I, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1942. xlvii, 532 pp., 75 pls., 2 maps - pdf-file: 250 MB (can also be downloaded in parts)
-- George A. Reisner, William Stevenson Smith, History of the Giza Necropolis, vol. II: The Tomb of Hetep-heres, the Mother of Cheops, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1955. xxv, 102 pp., figs., 55 pls. - pdf-file: 77 MB

Guido Heinz, "Pharaoh Pepi I: Documentation of the Oldest Known Life-size Metal Sculpture Using Laser Scanning and Photogrammetry." Online, 5 pp. in PDF (316kB):
Information (in German) about the Master Thesis (2004) on which the article was based (with some pictures):
And a related article (in PDF, 17 pp.) about the process of 3D scanning, with a chapter about the Pepi I statues:
Wolfgang Boehler, Monica Bordas Vicent, Guido Heinz, Andreas Marbs and Hartmut Mueller, "High Quality Scanning and Modeling of Monuments and Artifacts" (FIG Workshop 2004):

On the website of Prof. Martin Ziermann, called "Bauforschung und Archaeologie", you may find many PDF files about
architectural studies on ancient Egypt.
-- For example two drafts of German articles that later were published elsewhere, may be found at
"Frühe Befestigungsanlagen in Elephantine und Ayn Asil" (pdf file, 97 KB)
"Palast und Ka-Haus im frühen Ägypten" (pdf file 422 KB)
-- Several files, mostly in German but with English abstracts, at
Pick in the menu on the left "Forschung" and then "Aegypten" (many published articles, about Abydos, Buto, Elephantine), and in the menu on the right "[English] Abstracts".

The Discovery Channel in the Middle East and North Africa has an "Egypt Week" starting March 27.
Press report: "Reinventing ancient Egyptian history. The Discovery Channel glams up mummies, pharoahs and infamous queens."