Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Egyptian boats update

Archaeologists have found the remains of boats used by ancient Egyptians for trading trips, the culture minister said in comments published on Wednesday.

The boats were discovered in caves in a pharaonic harbour on Egypt's Red Sea coast around 300 miles southeast of Cairo, Farouk Hosni said in comments carried by Egypt's state MENA news agency

They were used to transport goods to and from the Land of Punt, he said. The Land of Punt, mentioned in ancient Egyptian writings, is thought by most archaeologists to be the coast of the Horn of Africa.

"Excavations discovered a group of sail and mast ropes, wooden ship beams and thin planks made of cedars, imported from northern Syria," MENA quoted Zahi Hawas, chairman of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, as saying.

Hawas said a team from Boston University in the United States working with an Italian team had made the discovery.

That's the whole thing.

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER A CONVICTED FELON. . .almost Archaeology seminar works to harmonize history, development

Residential developers were urged to be proactive in protecting both the graves of ancient peoples and their own economic interests by representatives of tribal, federal and state agencies during a seminar organized by the Coolidge Growth Management office.
City Planner Sue Laybourn brought together five speakers and 23 representatives of 12 developers and engineering firms, along with about 30 others, for five hours of presentations by representatives of the Gila River Indian Community, the Ak-Chin Indian Community, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Arizona State Museum.

Read down a bit for the Carter stuff. Nice article explaining various ins and outs of the effects of development on archaeological resources in Arizona.

Rare statue displayed at Israel Museum

A centuries-old statue of Venus, headless but vibrant with color and detail, went on display Wednesday at the Israel Museum, a decade after it was discovered in northern Israel.

The life-size marble work represents one of the most important discoveries of Roman sculpture in the world, said James Snyder, director of the museum.
Sorry about the day off. We were attempting to install a new door in our spacious metropolitan offices. Did you know that a single wood door can weigh approximately the same as a small yacht? Swear to God it's true. Especially when the hinges don't quite line up right.

Nuclear Analysis Reveals Secrets Of Inca Burial Site

Researchers have applied a unique nuclear analytic technique to pottery found at an ancient burial site high in the Andes mountains, and believe that the girl buried at this site was transported more than 600 miles in a ceremonial pilgrimage - revealing some customs and rituals of the ancient Inca empire.

The findings are being published by scientists from Oregon State University in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

On the highest peaks of the Andes, sacrificial burial sites have been discovered since the early 1900s. In one of them was the fully intact, frozen body of a girl who was sacrificed at age 15, called "The Ice Maiden," and buried more than five centuries ago along with various vessels - in what appeared to be one of the ritualistic ceremonies of that era.

Interesting. But we wonder what linking evidence was made to support the notion that both the pottery and the person had their origins at the same place.

Academics suggest Irish travellers are remnant of pre-Celtic culture

Irish travellers, long derided as anti-social itinerants rather than "true" Gypsies, are an ancient people in their own right, researchers say.

. . .

Research by an Irish socio-linguist, Dr Alice Binchy, suggests that more than half the surviving Cant/Gammon lexicon may be derived from a long-lost language spoken in Ireland before the Celts arrived. "A partially pre-Celtic origin would have substantial implications for the way we look not only at traveller history, but at early Irish history as a whole," said Dr Binchy, a delegate at a conference of linguists, historians and anthropologists to be held at the University of Limerick.


THE FRONTIERS of the Roman empire could be resurrected under plans to join Hadrian’s Wall with the chain of forts and walls across Europe in one World Heritage Site.

Such a move could create a European rival to the Great Wall of China and a major boost to tourism in Cumbria.

An Anglo-German bid will be considered by the World Heritage Committee in July to create a new heritage site called Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Upshot: Make the whole length of the Roman frontier a single World Heritage site.

Heh. "St. Pete" St Pete researchers find tattoos on ancient Siberian mummies

Infrared photography methods, used for the first time by researchers at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, have made it possible to discover tattoos in ancient mummies excavated in the Pazyryk mounds in the south Siberian Altai Mountains.

The mounds date back to the 8th to 5th centuries BC.

The discovery was made on three mummies – two that used to be female bodies and one male body -- that were produced by special treatment for burial ceremonies.

We thought we'd heard of something similar before and we were right: From various docs on TV regarding other Siberian mummies, notably the Ice Maiden from several years back.

They're not made out of bratwurst The Dragon in the Lake -- New Book Reveals Latest Research on the Ancient Underwater Pyramids in Wisconsin

In the cold murky depths of a Wisconsin lake lay mysterious rock structures wrapped in Native American folklore and local legend. These ancient underwater manmade structures may be the most significant and controversial North American archeological discovery of the twentieth century. In Archie Eschborn's fascinating new book The Dragon in the Lake, you will follow a small band of amateur archeologists led by Eschborn himself as they reveal new research opening up a new chapter in prehistoric North American history and ending decades of controversy on North America's most sacred and secret native American site.

Looked kinda fishy (heh, no pun intended) when we first started reading this, and it seems we were correct in our initial assessment. Seems to be typical hyperbolic fluff, full of exciting! adjectives regarding the explosive! nature of the findings and the soon-to-be-nigh collapse of the status quo. So anyway, you can read more about it here.

Fraud? Ptolemy Tilted Off His Axis

In a sunlit gallery of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Italy, astronomer Brad Schaefer came face to face with an ancient statue known as the Farnese Atlas.

For centuries, the 7-foot marble figure of the mythological Atlas has bent in stoic agony with a sphere of the cosmos crushing his shoulders.

. . .

But as Schaefer approached, he began to notice subtle details in the arrangement of the constellations. It wasn't that anything was wrong with the statue. If anything, the positions of the constellations were too perfect to be mere decoration.

This is only vaguely archaeological and rather out of our purview to evaluate with any real confidence, but it sounds interesting.

Antiquities Market update

In the span of just a few months, three museums featuring rare Indian artifacts have been plundered, leaving authorities looking for the culprits and culture aficionados mourning the loss.

For the tribes involved, the loss cuts much deeper.

The first theft happened in California on Christmas Eve of last year as thieves entered the Daggett Museum in Barstow and spirited away just about all of the Indian-themed displays. The stolen items included a $2,500 Navajo wedding basket, arrowheads, American Indian baskets, pottery and more.

Gold love ring is treasure trove

A collection of artefacts dating from the Bronze Age to the 1600s has been declared treasure by a coroner's court in Cardiff.

The items were found over the course of 18 months at various sites in the Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales.

They included a gold Elizabethan ring with the inscription "Let Liking Last" on its inner rim, found near the ruins of a manor house in Llantrithyd.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Old Chinese camp unearthed in N.Z.

An archaeological dig in Lawrence, a small town on the South Island of New Zealand, has unearthed an old Chinese camp and found a number of historical treasures, local media reported Monday.

A archaeologists team is working on a remote Otago paddock which was once New Zealand's largest Chinese camp. The site was the gateway to the Otago gold fields, the team said.

Thousands of Chinese people went overseas to Otago as gold field labors in 1860s, start of the Chinese immigration to New Zealand.

James ossuary update II The Stone Box

(CBS) Correspondent Bob Simon has a story about the Bible and truth. More precisely, it's about Biblical antiquities and how they can be seen to prove that the stories told in the Bible really happened.

For the last couple of years, the world of biblical archaeology was rocked to its foundations, and all because of a stone box that was discovered in Israel.

The box was an ossuary, an object used to hold the bones of the dead approximately 2,000 years ago, in the time of Jesus.

Seems to be either a transcript or a summary article on a 60 Minutes story on the box. Link to the actual video, too.

Granite Falls bypass's price rising

With each month and each year that passes, the price tag for the Granite Falls alternate route goes up.

An updated estimate for a planned two-mile alternate route for gravel trucks to bypass downtown now puts the cost at $24.8 million. It is scheduled to be completed by 2009, said Steve Dickson, assistant director of Snohomish County Public Works.

That cost is several million dollars more than estimated in recent years. Dickson attributed the increase mostly to inflation. A design report last fall also better identified the project's needs, he said.
Old Chinese camp unearthed in N.Z.

An archaeological dig in Lawrence, a small town on the South Island of New Zealand, has unearthed an old Chinese camp and found a number of historical treasures, local media reported Monday.

A archaeologists team is working on a remote Otago paddock which was once New Zealand's largest Chinese camp. The site was the gateway to the Otago gold fields, the team said.

Thousands of Chinese people went overseas to Otago as gold field labors in 1860s, start of the Chinese immigration to New Zealand.

James ossuary update II The Stone Box

(CBS) Correspondent Bob Simon has a story about the Bible and truth. More precisely, it's about Biblical antiquities and how they can be seen to prove that the stories told in the Bible really happened.

For the last couple of years, the world of biblical archaeology was rocked to its foundations, and all because of a stone box that was discovered in Israel.

The box was an ossuary, an object used to hold the bones of the dead approximately 2,000 years ago, in the time of Jesus.

Seems to be either a transcript or a summary article on a 60 Minutes story on the box. Link to the actual video, too.

Granite Falls bypass's price rising

With each month and each year that passes, the price tag for the Granite Falls alternate route goes up.

An updated estimate for a planned two-mile alternate route for gravel trucks to bypass downtown now puts the cost at $24.8 million. It is scheduled to be completed by 2009, said Steve Dickson, assistant director of Snohomish County Public Works.

That cost is several million dollars more than estimated in recent years. Dickson attributed the increase mostly to inflation. A design report last fall also better identified the project's needs, he said.
News from Egypt I Ancient trade-route stopover point discovered

A team of Egyptian excavators have recently uncovered the remains of stables, barracks and storehouses at Tel Al Sabha, 88 kilometres southeast of Al Arish. This once acted as a stopover point on the ancient trade route that linked Arabia with Gaza and Arish.
The route was in use between 200 BC and 50 AD, said Dr Zahi Hawas, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA). He explained that several routes serving military, trade and religious purposes crossed Sinai in order to link Egypt with Sham and Hijaz. The oldest of these routes was the old military road known as Horus.

News from Egypt II Tête-à-tête with the French explorers

Today at sunset Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Secretary-General Zahi Hawass, French Cultural Attaché Denis Louche and senior French and Egyptian officials and archaeologists are schudled to attend the opening of the special exhibition "Champollion, Legrain... Treading the Land of Egypt" at the centennial hall of the Egyptian Museum.

The exhibition has come to Cairo after six months in the capital of the French Alps, Grenoble, where it marked the centenary of Egyptologist George Legrain's famous discovery of the Karnak Cachet. It also coincides with the ninth International Congress of Egyptologists.

Two sarcophagi found at construction site

During construction of the new Aliağa customs building, two sarcophagi containing gold necklaces from the Hellenistic period, dating back to 500-400 B.C., were found.

Local Aliağa administrator Emir Osman Bulgurlu stated that archeologists were drafting a report on the find and depending on the outcome they would know whether the area would be considered a third degree historic and natural protection site. He added that the findings would be delivered to the İzmir Archaeology Museum Directorate.

Aliağa Mayor Tansu Kaya said they were waiting for a positive Cabinet decision indicating that construction could proceed.

That's the whole thing.

Biblical Archaeology update Cashbox: An ossuary supposedly linked to Jesus was a windfall for a Canadian museum. Now Israel has declared it a fake and jailed its promoter, and the museum has some explaining to do.

The man accused of standing at the centre of the greatest forgery ring of our time, perhaps all time, doesn't appear to be holding up so well. In books and movies, criminal masterminds -- the label Israeli police are freely applying to Oded Golan -- are effortlessly suave, or carelessly brutal, confident in the extreme. In real life, this 54-year-old antiquities collector seems as brittle as the Bible-era vases and figurines that fill the display cases in his otherwise modest Tel Aviv apartment. On the white message board in his kitchen, a female friend has left a long list of life instructions: "Go to bed on time. Try to get 8 hours of sleep. Don't be nervous. Drive carefully, do up your seatbelt. Don't eat too much chocolate or cheese. You should smile at least 15 times a day." Everything will be fine, it concludes.

Long review of the events surrounding the James ossuary.

A mammoth discovery Construction crew unearths apparent mammoth bones near Selah

A construction crew has unearthed what appear to be mammoth bones at least 10,000 years old north of this central Washington town and northeast of Yakima, the company owner says.

Gary Fife of Selah said he and his crew were on lunch while building a private road about three weeks ago when he noticed some large bones protruding from an embankment near where they had been digging.

At the request of the property owner, an archaeologist from Seattle made some initial tests which indicated the bones probably belong to a species of mammoth, Fife said.

Not sure how big of a find this is. In the news footage we saw there were only a couple of bone fragments, about enough to fill a standard shovel. We'll have to wait to see if more of the skeleton turns up.

USC plans archeological conference on early Americans

The University of South Carolina is planning a major archaeological conference on the heels of findings at a dig in Allendale County that suggest humans may have arrived in North America earlier than previously thought.

Professor Al Goodyear said the Oct. 26-29 conference will include discussion of the controversy over when humans first arrived on the continent. But its primary topic is Clovis culture in the Southeast.

Tsunami update Look what the tsunami's dragged in

Cataclysmic waves caused historic losses on Asian shores on Boxing Day, but Indian archaeologists are crediting the tsunami for a monumental find. The sea has given back relics which were lost for centuries.

The tsunami's mighty backwash has shifted thousands of tonnes of sand to unearth a pair of elaborately carved stone lions, the guardians of an ancient port city less than a kilometre off the coast of Tamil Nadu.

The two-metre-high statues, each hewn from a single piece of granite, appear breathtakingly lifelike. One great cat sits up alert while the other is poised to pounce.

Nothing really new here, just a short review of various tsunami/archaeology stories.

Really, we do more than just wander Wandering among the ruins

As the weather warms up, archaeologists come out to raise awareness about Arizona and its heritage.

During March, Arizona State Parks has been featuring more than 100 prehistoric and historic sites, tours, exhibits, hikes, open houses, lectures and demonstrations and other activities throughout the state, including a Children's Rock Art Exhibit in the West Valley.

Some sites are being destroyed by looting and new developments, and this event is one way to raise awareness.

U.P. history unfolds through archeological artifacts

Jim Paquette thinks it's important for Upper Peninsula residents to know the history of the region and its people, especially since the people date back 11,000 years.

Paquette explained his archeological findings over the last 20 years in a slide presentation titled, "My Search for Early Man in Michigan's Upper Peninsula," sponsored by the Forsyth Township Historical Society Wednesday.

Paquette - a Negaunee resident, 1974 graduate of Northern Michigan University and employee of Cleveland Cliffs Inc. - has been excavating local prehistoric American Indian sites since 1984 and his efforts have resulted in evidence of the earliest occupation in the U.P.

Treasure! Gibraltar clash over £2bn treasure

The Strait of Gibraltar has been the scene of numerous skirmishes between the British and Spanish navies, and now the two nations are sparring again - this time over the wreck of an English warship packed to the gunwales with treasure.

HMS Sussex has lain undisturbed on the seabed for more than 300 years, but since researchers discovered the ship was carrying billions of pounds of English gold and silver, it has become the focus of a bitter dispute as the Spanish authorities try to frustrate the attempts of a private company to locate it and start salvage work on behalf of Britain.

Article continues
International law gives UK authorities jurisdiction over the wrecks of British ships wherever they might lie, and this month the UK government gave permission to an American exploration company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, to salvage the Sussex.

Archaeoastronomy update Scientists Study Anasazi Calender

Don Smith, College of Eastern Utah, San Juan branch: "I think we're becoming more aware that those people were far more familiar with astronomy, science and possibly math than we give them credit for."

In a secluded ravine near Blanding, scientists and researchers gather to watch mysterious images forming right before their eyes.

Although the rite of Spring, at least on our calendar, slipped in here yesterday almost unnoticed, it's literally in your face in this strange little canyon.

We think the "science and possibly math" might be stretching it a bit, as these require symbolic representation and rule-based reasoning that is pretty much absent from the material remains (and who knows what was going on inside their heads). Empirical generalization along with trial-and-error engineering can go a long way towards accomplishing the same goals, and persistence and ingenuity is what we really don't give ancient people enough credit for.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

News from the EEF

Press report: "Hand writing center follows unique line"
"The Handwriting Centre, affiliated to Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is the first centre of its kind to take an interest in all types of hand writings through all ages from pre-historic until modern times. The
center's short plan includes an exhibition for writing in Egypt throughout ages."

Press report: "AEARC's valuable work"
About the Ancient Egyptian Art Revival Centre, affiliated with the SCA, that aims at producing replicas and drawings of ancient art.

Press report: "Students mummify birds. Class helps explain Egyptian practice".
"Melissa Saad's sixth-grade classes at Mariner Middle School got up-close and personal with the ancient Egyptian practice of mummification this year. As part of their social studies class, students mummified chickens." [Lets hope the Curses of King Cluck and Queen Chickapatra will not go haunt the school's soccer field...;)]

Melissa Terras, "Towards a Reading of the Vindolanda Stylus Tablets - Engineering Science and the Papyrologist", in: Human IT 2-3/2000. In HTML.
About "a collaborative project between the Department of Engineering Science and the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents at the University of Oxford regarding the analysis and reading of the Vindolanda Stylus
Tablets. We sketch the imaging and image processing techniques used to digitally capture and analyse the tablets, the development of the image analysis tools to aid papyrologists in the transcription of the texts, and
lessons that can be learned so far from such an inter-disciplinary project."

Online version of: M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Ian Barnes, Matthew J. Collins, Colin Smith, Julie Eklund, Jaap Goudsmit, Hendrik Poinar, Alan Cooper, Long-Term Survival of Ancient DNA in Egypt: Response to Zink and Nerlich (2003), in: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 126 (2005), article online in advance of print - 5 pp., pdf-file: 70 KB
"We ... wish to reassert the premise that in most, if not all, ancient Egyptian remains, aDNA does not survive to a level that is currently retrievable."

See also the thesis of M. Thomas P. Gilbert, An Assessment of the Use of Human Samples in Ancient DNA Studies, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, 2003 with a chapter "The long-term survival of ancient DNA in
Egypt", pp. 237-248 - (12), 327 pp., pdf-file: 9.3 MB
"This thesis addresses gaps that exist in the theory and knowledge of ancient DNA (aDNA). Much of the underlying basis of the field has been neglected in the excitement that followed the first aDNA studies. Therefore the results of many studies have been based on untested assumptions about the nature of post mortem DNA damage, sample preservation, contamination, and the efficacy of sample decontamination techniques. The validity of such results is questionable if the assumptions prove false."

Online version of: Albert R. Zink, Andreas G. Nerlich, Long-Term Survival of Ancient DNA in Egypt: Reply to Gilbert et al., in: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 126 (2005), article online in advance of print - 4 pp., pdf-file: 60 KB
"On a theoretical basis, they [Marota et al.] had calculated an upper limit for aDNA preservation in ancient Egyptian biomaterial of about 700-800 years. They suggested that any molecular research on ancient Egyptian DNA
would be meaningless, as no retrievable aDNA can be expected. In our comment on that paper, we identified several points that indicated a significantly better preservation of Egyptian aDNA than had been assumed by Marota et al."

End of EEF news

Friday, March 25, 2005

No posts yesterday since Blogger was being spastic most of the morning and then we were busy the remainder of the day.

First a Great Wall, now a Long Wall New Geophysic Studies on the Longest Wall of Ancient Iran

Archaeologists have innitiated a new series of geophysic studies in the immediate vicinity of the ancient wall of Gorgan, to uncover yet unknown architectural remains of the area.

The wall, located in the nothern province of Golestan is considered the longest historical wall of Iran, and the second longest in Asia after the world-famous ancient wall of China. Some believe that the two walls were built at the same period as fortifications against northern invaders.

NNEFTA?* Did Use of Free Trade Cause Neanderthal Extinction?

Economics-free trade may have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthals 30,000-40,000 years ago, according to a paper published in the “Journal of Economic Organization and Behavior.”

“After at least 200,000 years of eking out an existence in glacial Eurasia, the Neanderthal suddenly went extinct,” writes University of Wyoming economist Jason Shogren, along with colleagues Richard Horan of Michigan State University and Erwin Bulte from Tilburg University in the Netherlands. “Early modern humans arriving on the scene shortly before are suspected to have been the perpetrator, but exactly how they caused Neanderthal extinction is unknown.”

Creating a new kind of caveman economics in their published paper, they argue early modern humans were first to exploit the competitive edge gained from specialization and free trade. With more reliance on free trade, humans increased their activities in culture and technology, while simultaneously out-competing Neanderthals on their joint hunting grounds, the economists say.

This seems interesting in that it treats whole areas as functional bits of a whole rather than a large number of functionally redundant units, somewhat analogous to the switch from colonial organisms to those with true functional specializations.

* Non-Neanderthal Eurasian Free Trade Agreement

Ancient city of Pedasa to rise from the ruins

A plan has been initiated for new excavations in the ancient city of Pedasa, located eight kilometers from Bodrum in the small town of Konacık, reported the Doğan News Agency.

Pedasa was an important Leleg city located near Mt. Gökçeler that enjoyed its heyday between the 11th and sixth centuries B.C. and where a copper needle and various artifacts and jewelry dating back 3,000 years were found last year in a royal tomb.

Non-archaeological but still way cool Preserved soft tissue found in dinosaur bone

Scientists who had to break a dinosaur bone to remove it from its sandstone location say they have recovered 70-million-year-old soft tissue from inside the bone.

The find included what appear to be blood vessels, and possibly even cells, from a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The material is currently being studied, and if scientists can isolate proteins from the material they may be able to learn new details of how dinosaurs lived, lead researcher Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University said.

From what we've been reading on this it's not all that rare, except for large critters because paleontologists are somewhat loathe to bust up bones.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Well. Just this one item so far. Diddly going on today, archaeology-wise.

Egyptian boats Remains of ancient Egyptian seafaring ships discovered

The first remains of ancient Egyptian seagoing ships ever to be recovered have been found in two caves on Egypt's Red Sea coast, according to a team at Boston University in the US.

The team also found fragments of pottery at the site, which could help resolve controversies about the extent of ancient Egyptian trade voyages. But details of the newly disclosed finds remain sketchy.

Kathryn Bard, who co-led the dig with Italian archaeologists in December 2004, has revealed to the Boston University weekly community newsletter that the team found a range of items - including timbers and riggings - inside the man-made caves, located at the coastal Pharaonic site of Wadi Gawasis.
Well. Just this one item so far. Diddly going on today, archaeology-wise.

Egyptian boats Remains of ancient Egyptian seafaring ships discovered

The first remains of ancient Egyptian seagoing ships ever to be recovered have been found in two caves on Egypt's Red Sea coast, according to a team at Boston University in the US.

The team also found fragments of pottery at the site, which could help resolve controversies about the extent of ancient Egyptian trade voyages. But details of the newly disclosed finds remain sketchy.

Kathryn Bard, who co-led the dig with Italian archaeologists in December 2004, has revealed to the Boston University weekly community newsletter that the team found a range of items - including timbers and riggings - inside the man-made caves, located at the coastal Pharaonic site of Wadi Gawasis.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Clap her in irons! Temple tempest

A B.C. schoolgirl's hands-on contact with ancient Greece has guardians of Toronto's historic sites reviewing their security defences. Madeleine Gierc, freed from an Athens prison yesterday, learned the hard way that handling a 13-cm-square piece of marble -- even for a Kodak moment -- is a no-no at the Parthenon.

The 16-year-old was arrested on Sunday while posing for a snapshot at the 2,500-year-old temple at the Acropolis.

Guards reacted as fast as Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods, when they saw her with the shard.

Note to famous directors: Do NOT make a movie about this place Kernave: Lithuania’s ‘Troy’ to celebrate UNESCO heritage site listing

Few countries are so fortunate as to have an archaeological treasure trove preserving 10 millennia of human settlement. A discovery so impressive that it bears comparison to the Greek city of Troy, which had been consigned to myth until late nineteenth-century archaeologists dug up a hill in Turkey proving its existence, and showing that a stack of eight cities had been built on top.

In the 1970s, Lithuanian archaeologists began following up rumours of a magnificent ancient city, stumbling across a site about 35 km from Vilnius unscathed by war and industrial development, which many now call Lithuania’s first capital – Kernave.

Homo hobittus update Fresh Scandal Over Old Bones

Inside Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, the bones of the hobbit rested undisturbed for 18,000 years.

But no longer.

In what is being called a true case of scientific skullduggery, the remains of the newly discovered human species have suffered irreparable damage since entering the care of paleontologists.

Seems to have a lot more detail on what sort of damage the bones sustained, Smeagol Jacob's response, and other tidbits.

Davids Island preservation

The Army Corps of Engineers expects to agree with New Rochelle and state officials by June on how to spare historically significant buildings of a former military post on Davids Island while tearing down the rest.

As presented last night by Nancy Brighton, lead archaeologist in the corps' New York office, the preservation plan would reach a final draft by May and would be signed in June by the corps, the city, New York state Historic Preservation Office and other interested organizations and agencies.

By June or July, the Army hopes to begin demolishing buildings on the island that are believed to be free of asbestos and determined to have no historic value because they are too far deteriorated to help a visitor understand the history of the long-abandoned Fort Slocum. Some of the items listed as buildings are ruins crumbled beyond recognition.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Web site alert We just became aware of a site called Science in Africa, devoted to research taking place in Africa, often by African researchers. And it's free!

We found a few archaeology-related articles:
-- The Earliest Human Ancestors: New Finds, New Interpretations
-- Sudan uncovered

Some other stories of note:

Corking honeywine: natural or synthetic?

Mead is the Cinderella of the fermented beverage world. Made from honey by most ancient peoples, mead is currently only consumed in large volumes in Africa. The decline in consumption of mead globally has been attributed to the high price of honey for the last 1000 years. But the trend is changing with a small mead industry now existing in countries outside Africa and currently growing at 12% per annum. If the trend continues, it means that soon, mead makers world wide will be at the same cross roads as wine makers – to cork it or cap it?

Evolution comes with a twist

Among the forces said to have shaped human evolution over the past six million years, natural selection has long been reckoned as the alpha mover and shaker.

And for good reason. The bedrock of Charles Darwin's revolutionary theories on evolution, natural selection handpicks and passes on from generation to generation those genetic traits that best help humans - or organisms - survive their environments.

. . .

But natural selection may not be the be-all of human evolution, say Dr Rebecca Ackermann, a paleoanthropologist based in UCT's Department of Archaeology, and Dr James Cheverud, of Washington University in the US, in a paper published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) at the end of 2004.

Well, we doubt few biologists have ever argued that natural selection is the be-all and end-all of human, or any other, evolution. The primary factor, perhaps, but not the only one.

Oh, and don't forget to Learn Science with Granny!
Media corner Well, we were somewhat disappointed with last night's What the Ancients Knew on The Science Channel. It was on Egypt and, unfortunately, they spent far too much time on the pyramids. We may be biased because we're very familiar with Egyptian archaeology, but it still seemed to concentrate an awful lot of things that many other programs have covered many times. The nicest parts were the demonstrations of actual engineering devices that were used for levelling and generating straight lines and proper angles. Those are the bits that most programs leave out while they obsess on how the big blocks were moved up to the pyramid construction site. They also seemed to waste time on the current work (important as it is) on the workers' village at Giza, although the aspect of the amount of administrative complexity required was a good angle. Zahi Hawass put it very well: "The pyramids built Egypt."

They could have done much more. The irrigation system -- arguably the first thing that built Egypt -- wasn't mentioned. They could have spent some time in the Valley of the Kings examining how those tombs were built; in many ways, these used more sophisticated engineering methods than the pyramids since they had to maintain straight lines underground for many, many meters, as well as creating square corners in soft limestone chock full of chert nodules. Their mining methods -- especially getting Aswan granite out in large, solid pieces -- were barely mentioned, and the issue of raising an obelisk was also neglected.

So, eh, pretty standard stuff. Enjoyable, in parts new and interesting, but mostly the same old recycled stuff. We're looking forward to the China segment next week, mostly because China is terra incognita to most of the world. Let's just hope they concentrate on something besides gunpowder.

Lost civilization. . .found! Excavation of tomb complex leads to puzzling findings

Chinese archaeologists have completed the excavation of an ancient tomb complex in the Lop Nur Desert in northwest China, but researchers say the finds are puzzling and need more time to be understood.

By mid March, archaeologists in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region unearthed 163 tombs of the Xiaohe Tomb complex, which sprawls on a 2,500-square-meter oval-shaped dune, 174 km from the ruins of the Loulan Kingdom, an ancient civilization that vanished 1,500 years ago.

The complex contains about 330 tombs, but about 160 of them were spoiled by grave robbers, Idelisi Abuduresule, head of the Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute, which launched the project in October 2003.

Mummy specialists uncover secrets of ancient Egyptian queen

SKELETAL remains held by the National Museum of Scotland have been identified as a lost Egyptian queen and her child.
The discovery has been made by scientists who used forensic investigative techniques to attempt to solve the mystery of the remains.
The bodies were acquired for the collection a year after being discovered by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1909 at Qurna, a village on the west bank of the Nile, which has been the focus of illegal excavations.

Well now. Peruvian family claims Machu Picchu

Peru's poor Zavaleta family has only one thing to say to the thousands of tourists who trek along the Inca trail to the renowned citadel Machu Picchu every year: "Hey you, get off our land!"

The family says it is the lawful owner of a large part of the Machu Picchu sanctuary, Peru's most famous national treasure, and will start proceedings next week to sue the state for recognition of its ownership rights.

"The Zavaletas bought the land in 1944 and have title deeds that date from 1898," their lawyer Fausto Salinas told Reuters on Monday. "But I have checked and the site has been private property since 1657," he said, adding he had proof in the form of parchment documents wrapped in goatskin.

Face of History's Forgotten Ruler on Display

A coin which rewrote the history of the Roman Empire is going on public display today, just 10 miles from the muddy field where it was dug up.

The 1,700-year-old find, part of a hoard discovered by a metal detecting enthusiast near Oxford in April, 2003, proved the existence of Domitianus, dubbed the forgotten emperor.

The discovery, which stunned archaeologists when it was made public last year, is returning to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford where it will eventually form a centrepiece to a new gallery to be devoted to money.

Merritt Island dig reveals evidence of ancient village

Larry Anders’ shovel scrapes aside soft orange sand with the precision of a surgeon’s knife.

Each stroke peels back thin layers of time and clues to how humans once lived on Merritt Island, more than 3,000 years before Christ.

“Not knowing what’s at the next level, I guess that kind of keeps you going,” said Anders, one of about a dozen volunteers with the Indian River Anthropological Society who dig nearly every weekend at Pine Island Conservation Area.

‘Bhimbetka paintings over 25,000 yrs old’

CONTESTING THE claim of the Western scientific community that Indian rock paintings are comparatively quite modern than those found in their part of world,

eminent city archaeologist Dr Narayan Vyas has come up with a path-breaking research work that seeks to prove that Bhimbetka rock paintings are as old as the oldest rock paintings known in the world — i.e around 25,000 years.

The post-doctoral research work titled ‘A comparative study of rock paintings of Raisen District, with special emphasis on Bhimbetka’ has earned Dr Narayan Vyas

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lost city fort. . .found! Mohammed Abdel Maqsoud :Pharaonic fortress found inside turquoise mines in Sinai

An Egyptian-Canadian mission unearthed a Fort from the Old Kingdom in Fairuz area in South Sinai.

The mission, which is represented by experts from Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities and Toronto University, was conducting digging operations in Sahl El Markha site, 160 kilometers south of Suez, on the Western Coast of Sinai.

Dr. Mohamad Abdel Maqsoud, director-general of the Lower Egypt and Sinai monuments, said the unearthed stone fort rose three to Four metres high.

"The Fort was discovered inside turquoise and copper mines in the area.

Collapsed riverbank exposes host of sunken vessels

A section of the Mississippi riverbank near Audubon Park collapsed about a year and a half ago, with astonishing results.

No, muddy water did not inundate Uptown New Orleans. Riverbank repairs are a routine task that the Army Corps of Engineers performs adeptly. What made this job special was the historical treasure trove it turned up: 19 sunken ships, including the remains of a Civil War ironclad that played a major role in the 1864 battle of Mobile Bay.

Hmmmmmm. . . Archaeologists propose replicas for Moenjodaro ruins

Archaeological experts in their lectures on the 6th day of a 14-day workshop have suggested that the centuries-old remains of the Indus Valley Civilisation in DK, BC and Munir areas of Moenjodaro, which cannot be preserved and conserved, may be buried and their replica be constructed on them.

They said this would help keep the buried remains intact and the replica would serve as a sample for them.

The article doesn't make a lot of sense, language-wise. But it appears burying a lot of stuff to preserve them is the plan. Probably a good one.

Good idea. Hire more archaeologists Unearthing history - State and others keep Independent Archaeological digging year-round

The call to Katherine Wheeler came at 8:07 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2004.

A manhole was being installed at the corner of Court and Chestnut streets in Portsmouth, and field engineer Rob Trzepacz called Wheeler when his crew discovered something out of the ordinary.

"Weve found something," he said. "I think its a coffin."

Trzepacz had called the right person and, in this case, the right firm, Independent Archaeological Consulting.

The rest of the story has become part of Portsmouths history - an old Negro burial ground had been uncovered.

Exploring the Sun Through Ancient Civilizations

What do Stonehenge, Mayan pyramids, and a spacecraft a million miles away have in common? They're linked by a human need to explore and understand the Sun, moon, planets, and stars. This year's Sun-Earth Day on March 20 focuses on "Ancient Observatories: Timeless Knowledge" and falls on the vernal equinox when day and night are the same length. Appropriately, NASA and the Exploratorium in San Francisco are focusing on ancient peoples and their fascination with the Sun, which played a major role in most Native American religious practices and social events.

NASA continues to pay close attention to the Sun today through ground and satellite-based observatories, still seeking to understand this star as a dominant influence on our lives. The Sun seems to have a major role not only in religious practices of indigenous people, but also art, culture, and more.

Update on Swedish-found Chinese coffins The sand dune that time forgot

Achaeologists working in the extreme desert terrain of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have moved a step closer to unravelling the mystery of a 40-century-old civilization.

They unearthed 163 tombs containing mummies during their on-going and long excavation at the mysterious Xiaohe Tomb complex.

And it's all thanks to the translation of a diary kept by a Swedish explorer more than 70 years ago.

A civilization we'd never heard of Archeologist says Central Asia was cradle of ancient Persian religion

The mysterious Margianan civilisation which flowered in the desert of what is now Turkmenistan some 4,000 years ago was the cradle of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, Greco-Russian archeologist Victor Sarigiannidis claimed here.

He said the theory would provoke controversy amongst his fellow archeologists, but said his excavations around the site of Gonur Tepe have uncovered temples and evidence of sacrifices that would consistent with a Zoroastrian cult.

Antiquities Market update Cambodia tries to save its past

Hidden among stands of bamboo far from the throngs of tourists who clamber over the grand temples of Angkor, bas-reliefs in rose and gray sandstone stand in solitary splendor.
The gods and demons and half-human, half-animal figures revered by the Angkor civilization were carved at Mount Kulen by anonymous artists, and like countless other artworks disappeared into nature when the empire collapsed 500 years ago.
Now, like much else at Angkor, the carvings are symbols, not only of the mystique of the past, but also of the greed of the present.

Tsunami news we hadn't heard about Sri Lanka’s maritime museum hopes fade after tsunami reclaims sea treasures

Marine archeologists spent nine years trawling the seabed of Sri Lanka’s Galle port to collect thousands of centuries-old treasures buried underwater in shipwrecks.

But it took just a few seconds for them to be reclaimed by the ocean when a tsunami battered the shores of this island nation on December 26 and swept away everything in its path, including hopes of opening the country’s first maritime museum.

The collection of priceless artefacts -- including spoons, jars, jugs, bottles, cannons and leather belts -- were to be exhibited to showcase the maritime heritage Sri Lanka shared with European invaders and Arab traders.

But only 20 percent of 3,600 objects salvaged from shipwrecks within the waters of Galle port from about 1996 appeared to have survived the tsunami, said S. M. Nandadasa, the officer in charge of the project.

Marginally archaeologically relevant (but interesting) Horse Evolution Followed Twisty Trail, Study Says

The horse has been invaluable to humans since it was first domesticated in Central Asia some 6,000 years ago. Its speed and strength was harnessed to help us hunt prey, fight wars, work fields, and generally broaden our horizons. Without the horse, the course of human history might well look very different today.

Less well known is the important role played by horses in shaping our understanding of a much deeper history—long-term evolution in animals.

Writing this week in the journal Science, paleontologist Bruce J. MacFadden said the evolution of horses involved many more twists and turns than previously imagined.

Tutankhamun update Fractured leg bone not the end of Tutankhamen mystery

Robert Connolly, Senior Lecturer in Physical Anthropology from the University's Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, is working with the Egyptian authorities to analyse recent findings from a CT scan of the mummy and has been asked to comment on suggestions by scientists that Tutankhamen died as a result of an infection following an injury to the femur bone.

Mr Connolly has re-analysed the original X-rays of the leg taken by Professor Ronald Harrison in 1968 and has found no evidence, such as the involvement of soft tissue, to suggest that the fracture in the femur bone became infected.

Mr Connolly adds: "It's possible Tutankhamen's leg injury could have been sustained in an accident. There are remarkable similarities between his ribcage injuries and those of a British mummy - St Bees Man in Cumbria - who sustained fatal damage to his chest in a jousting accident. It is therefore highly possible that the King could have died as a result of a chariot or sporting accident, or even at war.

Seems a wash at this point what killed him.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

TV update Don't forget that What the Ancients Knew is on The Science Channel Monday evening. This week is Egypt, we believe.

On the web site there, the Mummy Maker Game does not, sadly, work. The catapult game does, but this one is way better.

And now. . .the weekly EEF news.

Press report: "12 million Egyptian pounds grant for renovation of the last Pharaonic temple in Sinai"
Aim is to get Serabit el Khadim on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

[Submitted by Albert Prince (]
M. P. Colombini, G. Giachib, F. Modugnoa and E. Ribechinia, "Characterisation of organic residues in pottery vessels of the Roman age from Antinoe (Egypt)", in: Microchemical Journal vol 79, issue 1-2, Jan. 2005, pp 83-90. In HTML or PDF.
"Chemical analysis was performed in order to characterise the organic components of the original content still present in the three ceramic vessels found during the excavation of the North Necropolis at Antinoe, Egypt, and dating back to the 5th-7th century A.D. "

[Next four items submitted by Michael Tilgner]

Online version of: Joanathan Shaw, Who Built the Pyramids?, in: Harvard Magazine, vol. 105, no. 6 (2003), pp. 42-49, 99 "Not slaves. Archaeologist Mark Lehner, digging deeper, discovers a city of
privileged workers."
pdf-file (1.8 MB):
HTML version:

Online version of: John Brock, Who Were the First Surveyors? Four Surveyors of the Gods: In the XVIII Dynasty of Egypt - New Kingdom c. 1400 B.C., paper to be presented at the Workshop on History of Surveying to be held during the FIG Working Week / GSDI-8 Conference in Cairo, Egypt, April 16, 2005
" ... tells about the first surveyors known by name in the Ancient Egypt." pdf-file (270 KB):
HTML version:
Program of the conference (230 KB):
There is a section about AE in Workshop 3 "History of Surveying".

"History of Medicine Days"
" ... hosted every year by the Faculty of Medicine [University of Calgary, Alberta] and co-sponsored by the Alberta Medical Foundation and Associated Medical Services, gathers medical students from across Canada to present
papers on topics of their choice in history of medicine." Articles about AE in:
a) W. A. Whitelaw (ed.), The Proceedings of the 10th Annual History of Medicine Days, Faculty of Medecine, The University of Calgary, March 23rd and 24th, 2001, Health Sciences Centre Calgary, AB - xi, 329 pp., pdf-file: 1.9 MB
-- Gregg S. Nelson, Ancient Egyptian Obstetrics & Gynecology, pp. 1-4
"The approach to womens' health, however, in the ancient world, particularly Egypt, was somewhat different. Surgical intervention was never recommended and the main treatment modalities provided by the 'swnw' (pronounced sounou, physicians) that did exist would be deemed bizarre by today's standards."
-- Michael D. Parkins, Pharmacologocal Practices of Ancient Egypt, pp. 5-11 "Egyptian drug therapy can be regarded as having evolved from a system rooted in magic to one of empiric observation applied within a central
ideology of health and disease ... This discussion will focus on providing a brief introduction to the pharmacological practices of ancient Egypt, with an emphasis on a few of the more intriguing treatments."
b) W. A. Whitelaw (ed.), The Proceedings of the 12th Annual History of Medicine Days, Faculty of Medecine, The University of Calgary, March 21st and 22nd, 2003, Health Sciences Centre Calgary, AB - xi, 360 pp., pdf-file:
3.4 MB
-- Jeremy M. Wojtowicz, The Curse of the Nile: Tuberculosis from Ancient
Egypt to Modern Russia, pp. 1-8
"Archaeological evidence in the form of mummies and funerary portraits, and anatomical evidence obtained from bones and lung tissues support the theory that tuberculosis emerged in ancient Egypt. This theory has been further
strengthened by molecular evidence collected from ancient tissues."
c) W. A. Whitelaw (ed.), The Proceedings of the 13th Annual History of Medicine Days, Faculty of Medecine, The University of Calgary, March 19th and 20th, 2004, Health Sciences Centre Calgary, AB - xi, 395 pp., pdf-file:
2.3 MB
-- Michelle Ciach, Magic and Medicine in Ancient Egypt, pp. 1-7
"Medicine, magic, and religion were considered equal components of the healing process. Due to this synergism between magic, religion, and medicine, an integrated system of healing developed on the Nile."
-- Oriana Yu, Szeling Wong, Secrets of Medicine from Ancient Egypt, pp. 8-16
"Egyptian medicine has provided much knowledge of how medicine was practiced in the past and has provided many advances to modern medicine."

Online version of: Christina Riggs, Facing the Dead: Recent Research on the Funerary Art of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, in: AJA, vol. 106, pp. 85-101 (2002) - pdf-file (complete issue: 6.5 MB)
"This article examines recent research on the subject [mummy portraits] and broadens the field of inquiry by addressing other forms of funerary art in use during the periods in question."

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner]
* "Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham"
"Along Egypt's Mediterranean coast and down the western edge of Nile Delta lie the little known, fragmentary remains of what is believed to be a chain of fortified settlements dating to the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II
(c.1278-1212BC). It is thought that these were primarily intended to be a first line of defence against Egypt's western neighbours, several semi-nomadic groups generally known as 'Libyans'. This website will let you
explore these fortresses and the ancient world of which they were part, as well as keeping you up to date with the ongoing archaeological excavation at one of them ..."
See additional article: Steven Snape, Interesting Times for Neb Re, in:
Ancient Egypt Magazine, vol. 2, no. 2 (2001)
"Since 1994 the excavations of the Liverpool team have revealed in several parts of the site a number of monuments naming Neb-Re, who is titled 'Overseer of Foreign Lands' and 'Overseer of Troops'; in effect, Commandant
of the Fort [Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham]."

End of EEF news

Well, yay for Sweden The Sand Dune Forgotten by Time

Archaeologists working in the extreme desert terrain of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have moved a step closer to unraveling the mystery of a 40-century-old civilization.

They unearthed 163 tombs containing mummies during their ongoing and long excavation at the mysterious Xiaohe tomb complex.

And it's all thanks to the translation of a diary kept by a Swedish explorer more than 70 years ago.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Carters Beach dig thrills experts

Discoveries at an ancient Maori village site near Carters Beach, 6km west of Westport, are driving an archaeological breakthrough of international significance.

Project co-ordinator Chris Jacomb, who is also regional archaeologist for New Zealand Historic Places Trust, said outstanding examples of New Zealand's earliest stone tools had been uncovered at the Buller River site and had already generated widespread interest.

An investigating team completed work at the site last week and left thrilled with discoveries made during this year's three-week project, he said.

The site's high preservation and very early evidence made it of international significance, Mr Jacomb said.

Dragon Lair update One-eyed dragon in Tran Dynasty dig

The preliminary report of a team from the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology (VIA), digging since January at a temple dedicated to An Duong Vuong King, may confirm history books that the site dates back to the Tran dynasty.

Associate Professor Pham Minh Huyen, who led the five-member group at the site in Hanoi's outlying district of Dong Anh, said that her team dug six holes and found numerous arterfacts, mainly ceramics, tiles, and bricks distributed among three layers.

. . .

The work also made a discovery regarding a local legend surrounding the temple in the inner compound of the citadel. Local people used to believe in a one-eyed dragon at the An Duong Vuong Temple, also called the Thuong (Upper) Temple.

Art thieves! Egyptian art stolen

THIEVES have taken £15,000 worth of ancient Egyptian figurines and a human skull from Bagshaw Museum, Wilton Park.

The figurines, known as Shabtis, are carved from stone and jade. They are small statuettes which were buried with the dead to work as servants in the afterlife.

The burglars smashed a double-glazed window and broke through shutters to reach the religious artefacts overnight last Friday.

Possible art thief in action:

Did they eat lots of. . .you know. . . . Pumpkintown dig finds ancient colony

Trudging through thick gray mud at this northern Greenville County farm, it doesn't take long to find fragments of ancient history sticking out of the soil, be it a smooth piece of Indian pottery or the jagged-edged stone of an arrowhead.

This place, nestled in the floodplains of the south Saluda River, has long been a resting ground for American Indian artifacts. The earth beneath it is a virtual Atlantis of some of the earliest American life.

"In a sense, it's a concentration of history," said Frances Knight, an archaeologist from Illinois who moved to Greenville about a year and a half ago and has been following the Marietta dig. "It gets at understanding people of the past."

NAGPRA update 'U' to return burial remains to tribe

The University Board of the Regents approved yesterday the repatriation of the Canadian burial remains of the Whitefish River band, an indigenous people from the Ojibwe Great Lakes tribe that has not seen the remains for more than 60 years. The approval marks the University’s first international burial remains repatriation.

Originating from Old Birch Island cemetery in Lake Huron, the 16 to 18 human remains, which also include cultural artifacts, were excavated in 1938 by University anthropology Prof. Emerson Greenman and later preserved by the Museum of Anthropology.

By 1983, the Whitefish River people began talks with the University to reclaim the burial remains. After more than two decades, last month, both sides finally reached an agreement to repatriate, which only required final approval from the regents to go through.

Ancient birds, Stone Age music

All winter long, the cacophony of sound at Sunayu, on the eastern shore of Lake Kussharo in eastern Hokkaido, is almost entirely comprised if the bugling and whooping of swans.

There, Whooper Swans crowd into the narrow ice-free strip along the lake edge where geothermal activity warms the sand and where visitors gather to greet and feed these winter immigrants from Russia. The noise can sometimes be so deafening that I have heard it frequently from one of my favorite birding localities -- the outdoor hot spring of a local lodge that is nearly a kilometer away in the woods.

It's a haunting sound, rising to a crescendo as pairs meet and greet, as families displace each other and as birds arrive and depart the flock.

Keep reading, it really does have an archaeological point.

Olmec update Mother Culture, or Only a Sister? (Free reg required)

n a coastal flood plain etched by rivers flowing through swamps and alongside fields of maize and beans, the people archaeologists call the Olmecs lived in a society of emergent complexity. It was more than 3,000 years ago along the Gulf of Mexico around Veracruz.

The Olmecs, mobilized by ambitious rulers and fortified by a pantheon of gods, moved a veritable mountain of earth to create a plateau above the plain, and there planted a city, the ruins of which are known today as San Lorenzo. They left behind palace remnants, distinctive pottery and art with anthropomorphic jaguar motifs. Most impressive were Olmec sculptures: colossal stone heads with thick lips and staring eyes that are assumed to be monuments to revered rulers.

The Olmecs are widely regarded as creators of the first civilization in Mesoamerica, the area encompassing much of Mexico and Central America, and a cultural wellspring of later societies, notably the Maya. Some scholars think the Olmec civilization was the first anywhere in America, though doubt has been cast by recent discoveries in Peru.

Fight! Fight! Indian artifacts cloud project

Environmentalists who've been fighting an industrial park going up near Mammoth Cave National Park have a new focus for their opposition -- the discovery of prehistoric Indian remains and drawings nearby.

The artifacts were discovered in January and February, after construction crews for the Kentucky Trimodal Transpark, which broke ground last year, accidentally punched an opening in a previously unknown 2,000-foot-long cave nearby.

Experts from Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky then discovered the bones of two Indians and several ancient drawings on hardened mud and limestone rock, in an area since sealed for its protection.
Oh dear, we neglected to blog at all yesterday. Apologies to all. EEF news will be up later.

Turd update Bronze Age droppings reveal health of ancients

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have found rare 3000-year-old human fossilised droppings revealing the healthy diet of Scotland's ancient inhabitants.

Work on a Bronze Age farmhouse in Catpund, Shetland, has unearthed the coprolites, which give clues on the population, health and wealth distribution of the former islanders.

The research has provided data on prehistoric diseases and may shed more light on the environments and evolution of plants and animals.

See, that's what's nice about working with sediments, artifacts, etc., as opposed to being a coprolite analyst: people don't move away from you at parties when you tell them what you study.

Ruined castle to be propped up by £75,000 project

THE ongoing cash crisis in local government has persuaded the council to stabilise the district's only castle rather than repair it.

Grade II listed Betchworth Castle is a designated ancient monument and has been a source of ongoing debate for years.

Public access to the rickety remains has recently been granted through a land deal with Betchworth Golf Club and conservationists have pushed for money to be spent on the castle to allow public viewing.

Lost city village. . .found!
Ancient village ruins found in Shaanxi

Chinese archaeologists found ruins of a 2,700-year-old village in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The ruins date from the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th Century B.C to 771 B.C.) Sections of a row of houses in the ruins are well preserved, said Yang Yachang, a researcher with the provincial archaeology research institute.

A lot of stone knives and pottery utensils were found in the houses, which were built on a base of pounded earth. Archaeologists also found millet and bean seeds in the houses.

Yang said that the discovery provides new model for studies on ancient residential culture.

That's the whole thing.

Ancient coin found in Jaffa market

A rare coin with the words "The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" in ancient Arabic has been uncovered in an archaeological excavation in a Jaffa market, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced Thursday.

The Crusader-era half-drachma coin, which was found in 12th century building, includes other classic Christian motifs such as the cross, and an Egyptian blessing.

That ought to be worth a couple drachmas. And that's the whole thing, too.

Tsunami update Lost and found

For a few minutes, after the water had receded far from the shore and before it came raging back as a tsunami, the fishermen stood along the beach and stared at the reality of generations of legends.

Or so they say. Spread across nearly a mile, the site was encrusted with barnacles and covered in mud. But the fishermen insist they saw the remains of ancient temples and hundreds of refrigerator-sized blocks, all briefly exposed before the sea swallowed them up again.

Good for you, Kathryn Archaeologist discovers ancient ships in Egypt

Kathryn Bard, a CAS associate professor of archaeology, recently discovered the first ancient remains of Egyptian seafaring ships. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Kathryn Bard had “the best Christmas ever” this past December when she discovered the well-preserved timbers and riggings of pharaonic seafaring ships inside two man-made caves on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. They are the first pieces ever recovered from Egyptian seagoing vessels, and along with hieroglyphic inscriptions found near one of the caves, they promise to shed light on an elaborate network of ancient Red Sea trade.

Prehistoric artefacts found in town centre

Excavations on the site of the PalaceXchange shopping development in Enfield Town have revealed a collection of prehistoric relics.

The exciting finds, which include 3,000-year-old flint cutting tools and the remains of a medieval pot, were unearthed on a site adjacent to Woolworths and opposite the Independent's office, in London Road.

Sean Steadman, of Gifford Archaeology, said: "It was clear there was archaeological potential in Enfield Town, and we have been working with the developer to establish that potential.

Fight! Fight! Spotlight falls on powerline's impact on artefacts

Barrick Gold mine opponent Neville Williams will lead an inspection today into the impact of powerline works on Aboriginal artefacts in southern NSW.

On Monday, the Wiradjuri elder told the Land and Environment Court Country Energy had resumed work on the line in January, despite being ordered to stop last October.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

THe Shroud of. . .Dong Xa? Dr Cameron of Tura finds a 2300-year-old shroud

A team coordinated by Tura Beach archaeologist Dr Judith Cameron has discovered and preserved the oldest complete shroud found in Southeast Asia, dating back some 2,300 years to the Bronze Age Dongson culture.

The cloth was found in a wooden boat-shaped coffin covered by thick black mud in a canal in the Red River plains area of Vietnam in December last year.

In what has been hailed as a major find, team leader Professor Peter Bellwood of the Australian National University said that the boat coffin - unearthed at Dong Xa, 50km southeast of Hanoi - was possibly also the oldest in Southeast Asia.

Good for them Museum spotlights neglected exhibits

A collection of Roman-era gold treasures has spent centuries hidden from view, either concealed by thieves in a clay jar, buried under the desert or languishing in a dusty corner of Cairo's rambling Egyptian Museum.

On Tuesday, the set of magnificent gold necklaces, crowns and coins dating back to the second century were put under the spotlight when Cairo's 102-year-old museum launched a program to give prominence to many of its neglected exhibits in new monthly displays.

Townhouse reveals real skeletons in closet

SKELETONS in the closet were a real-life problem for Ashford Price when he opened a cupboard in his late aunt's bedroom to be confronted with dozens of human remains.

The grand Georgian townhouse in the stately sweep of Swansea's leafy St James's Crescent had hidden a secret for decades until its owner, Brenda Morgan, 84, passed away.
Probably limited blogging today as we are very busy preparing a manuscript for publication. We have this item sent to us via email, reproduced with permission:

As you are all very well aware, for over five hundred years, the Valley of
the Kings was the burial place of the Egyptian elite, and for the last three
thousand years, it has been the focus of attention from scholars, travellers
and tourists.

Today, after centuries of damage and looting, the valley is facing its most
severe challenge: its future preservation is uncertain. Unless swift,
radical and all-encompassing action is undertaken, we may see the
destruction of this site within the next twenty-five years. The problems
facing the valley today come predominantly from human intervention, but in
addition, there are natural threats that have also to be managed.

However, the sheer number of visitors (currently at approximately 1.8
Million per annum) brings countless problems, ranging from damage to the
fabric of the site to issues surrounding the provision of tourist facilities
appropriate to the site and the visitors.

It is with this in mind that last year, Dr. Zahi Hawass Secretary General of
the Supreme Council of Antiquities, requested that Dr. Kent Weeks of the
Theban Mapping Project, to take the lead role in developing a masterplan for
managing the Valley of the Kings.

The first stage of developing this masterplan is a consultation process
involving as many stakeholders as possible and we are particularly
interested in the views and suggestions of previous visitors. Therefore, we
invite you to take part in our online survey.

The web address is

With Thanks
Nigel J.Hetherington
Conservation Manager
Theban Mapping Project

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Travel opportunity

We just got this via email:

Deadline Nearing for Italy Excursion

The application deadline of March 31 is approaching for an archaeological
field expedition to eastern Italy this coming summer from June 26 to July
10. This is open to all. Sponsored by the USDA Forest Service under the
umbrella of their international program, Heritage Excursions, this
archaeological excursion will take place in the Sangro Valley in the Abruzzo
province of eastern Italy. It combines intensive work on an archaeological
excavation~Wthe Sangro Valley Project's sites on Monte Pallano - with visits
to some of the most beautiful cultural and natural attractions in the Sangro
Valley (Val di Sangro). The aim of the Sangro Valley Project, a
collaboration among the Forest Service, Oberlin College and Oxford
University, has been to study society, economy, and settlement change within
the context of a Mediterranean river valley system--the Sangro River valley
in the territory of the ancient Samnites. More information and applications
are available via prominent links on The Archaeology Channel Web site at

Rick Pettigrew
Archaeological Legacy Institute
TV Corner What the Ancients Knew , Mondays, 8 pm on The Science Channel (actually March 14, 21, and 18).

We just watched the Rome episode and we were quite favorably impressed. See a summary of the series here. We were happy to see this as not a revisionist history currently in vogue in some circles; the presentation sticks pretty closely to standard archaeological and historical thought on the subject. The main positive aspect of the program was in its attention to context. They didn't just plop out all sorts of gee-whiz technologies that the Romans either invented (rarely) or borrowed and perfected (usually); all were shown in the context of the business of the Romans: expanding and maintaining their territories, and creating and maintaining a lavish Roman lifestyle.

It was a good survey of various Roman technologies, from road building to water transport to glass making. In the process, many lesser known Roman sites, such as the Xanten Archaeological Park were shown that are as illustrative of Roman civilization as the Colosseum. The schematic illustrations of the technologies -- such as how to survey or how to create a large, heated public bath -- were simple and straightforward, leaving only the hard-core geek engineering types wanting more explanation. Any one of these subjects could be expanded into its own program to be sure, but the overall presentation made them all fit together into a coherent explanation of what made the Roman Empire tick.

That would probably be our only complaint: just surveying Roman technology in reasonable detail could be a series in and of itself. As it was, much was left unsaid. For example, the Colosseum was given about 5 minutes of air time with the basic message: It was a marvel of engineering, able to create elaborately choreographed shows that were, unfortunately, awfully violent and bloody most of the time. Nevertheless, much more could have been said regarding the degree to which this concept of continuously bloody spectacle actually represents the truth -- as a few postings here have noted, some current thought has gladiatorial bouts being less about blood and death and more about displays of combat technique. This is kind of a quibble, since the show was obviously intended to be a broad survey rather than a detailed treatment of individual aspects of Roman civilization. Still, we'd like to plant that idea with any producers out there who are thinking of a good angle on archaeological programming. (And, you know, give us kickbacks on any profits derived therefrom)

So, we here at ArchaeoBlog can safely urge our faithful readers to catch it when they can. Seems eminently worthwhile. We give it 5 skulls.
Neanderthal update Neanderthals sang like sopranos

Neanderthals had strong, yet high-pitched, voices that the stocky hominins used for both singing and speaking, says a UK researcher.

The theory suggests that Neanderthals, who once lived in Europe from around 200,000 to 35,000 BC, were intelligent and socially complex.

It also indicates that although Neanderthals were likely to have represented a unique species, they had more in common with modern humans than previously thought.

Please note that we have successfully avoided making any reference -- textual or pictorial -- to a certain HBO series.

Egypt plans to renovate ancient temple

Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) has allocated 12-million Egyptian pounds (about R12,3-million) to renovate a twelfth dynasty Pharaonic temple in Egypt's southern Sinai, an official said on Monday.

SCA Secretary-General Zahi Hawass announced that the project to renovate the Sarabit el-Khadim temple is expected to be complete and open to tourists in May.

Probably a good move, although any time you open a place for tourism you're going to get problems of destruction of the monuments.

Also from Egypt Supplicants send their mail to the unseen powers that be

CUSTOMS DIE HARD, nowhere more than in Egypt. Archaeological documents show that from as early as the Old Kingdom up to modern times, an endemic and persistent distrust in medicine and justice, as practiced in the land, often led the Egyptians to address their requests for health and legal redress directly to their dead relatives and the gods. Later, when monotheistic religions prevailed, they were addressed to saints whose extraordinary powers had become firmly rooted in popular belief.

Olmec update Mother of us all, or sister? Olmecs a puzzle

On a coastal flood plain etched by rivers flowing through swamps and alongside fields of maize and beans, the people archaeologists call the Olmecs lived in a society of emergent complexity. It was more than 3,000 years ago, along the Gulf of Mexico around Veracruz.

The Olmecs moved a veritable mountain of earth to create a plateau above the plain, and there planted a city, the ruins of which are known today as San Lorenzo.

Seems like there ought to be more to this article but we can't find a continuation anywhere.

Ummmm. . .no. Huge Achaemenid era jug discovered at Tang-e Bolaghi Tehran Times Culture Desk

The team of archaeologists currently working at the Tang-e Bolaghi site in Fars Province recently discovered a huge Achaemenid era jug.

The Iranian and Italian archaeologists who discovered the 50-kilogram jug carried out 16 hours of excavation work in order to unearth it safe and sound.

The head of the team, Alireza Asgari, said on Monday that the huge red jug was found during excavation work at one of the storehouses in a residential area of Tang-e Bolaghi.

We have also successfully avoided making any references -- textual or pictorial -- to jugs as well.

Dang this self control. . . . .

Field school update Wesleyan archaeology class to excavate historic site

There is a piece of land in the Monongahela National Forest in Randolph County that holds a lot of history.

The site holds the remains of a campsite that is 3,000 years old, as well as that of a second camp from the 1700s.

To excavate the site, Molly Clark, an adjunct professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College, is teaching an archaeology field methods class during the May term. The class is open to Wesleyan students and the general public.

Field school update II Students wanted for field school to study New Philadelphia

Applications are being accepted for the New Philadelphia field school in archaeology and laboratory techniques.

The school for nine students, sponsored by the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program, runs May 24-July 29.

The program helps enhance undergraduate education in scientific methods and analyses in an ongoing long-term project at New Philadelphia. "Free" Frank McWorter, a former slave, incorporated the racially-integrated community near Barry in 1836.

That reminds us, this is the time of year to start applying for field schools. Unless you're really into roughing it, make sure you find one that takes reasonable care of creature comforts. Once you start doing real projects you can suffer, but might as well get your initial field experience (and it's a class after all) in a comfortable setting.

We won't mention the wet bar we maintained in our tent at our field school. Except in passing, of course.

Archaeologists tackle chess puzzle

A grubby green cousin of the world's most famous chessmen is puzzling archaeologists.

The little knight on horseback, recently found by an amateur using a metal detector on farmland in north Nottinghamshire, is startlingly similar to chesspieces found hundreds of miles away in 1831, on a beach on the isle of Lewis.

The find is being announced today at a British Museum conference to mark the government's agreement to keep funding a scheme to encourage the reporting of all finds.

Cleopatra seduced the Romans with her irresistible . . . mind

LONG before Shakespeare portrayed her as history’s most exotic femme fatale, Cleopatra was revered throughout the Arab world — for her brain.

Medieval Arab scholars never referred to the Egyptian queen’s appearance, and they made no mention of the dangerous sensuality which supposedly corrupted Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Instead they marvelled at her intellectual accomplishments: from alchemy and medicine to philosophy, mathematics and town planning, a new book has claimed.

Artist's conception of what Cleopatra may have looked like:

(in 2525)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Neanderthal update Neandertal Advance: First Fully Jointed Skeleton Built

Scientists have for the first time constructed a fully articulated, or jointed, Neandertal skeleton using castings from real Neandertal bones.

The reconstruction, which has been part of several exhibitions, presents a striking visual image of what the Neandertal (often spelled Neanderthal) looked like, experts say.

"At last I felt that somehow I had actually met a Neandertal," said Ian Tattersall, the curator of the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City.

Also here.

We are rather surprised this hadn't been done already. Or, rather, we're somewhat surprised a near-full skeleton hasn't been found either.

Viking update Viking sagas read through the lens of climate change

Ancient Icelandic sagas may be full of treachery, death and destruction, but the real villain behind all the foment could well have been climate change. According to a Canadian scientist, there's a direct link between changes in regional temperatures and the thematic content of the sagas.

The research is based on newly reconstructed temperature records gained from ocean sediment cores collected off the coast of Vestfirdir, the northwest peninsula of Iceland by scientists from the University of Colorado. Analysis of mollusc shells within these cores has provided an astounding, almost weekly, record of temperature changes in the region.

This may be old news Ancient Perfumery Found in Cyprus

What may be the world's oldest known perfumery, set atop a Cyprus hillside with sweeping views of the Mediterranean, has just been excavated by a team of archaeologists from the Italian Institute of Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, according to recent news reports.

Remains at the Pyrgos-Mavroraki site near Nicosia include clay perfume bottle fragments that contain 14 perfumes of varied fragrances and ten odor essences. Archaeologists also found an olive oil press next to the perfume factory.

We seem to remember something similar to this a while back.

See updates to the pigs story below, too.
We have been sorely remiss in our posting of important archaeological news.

Yay for settlements Archaeologists unearth major Buddhist settlement in Pak

Officials from Pakistan's Department of Archaeology and Museums have unearthed an entire Buddhist settlement at Takht Bhai in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

According to The News, the newly discovered ridge contains residential houses for monks, with the entire settlement comprised of ten houses having a special structure. The layout includes two storey buildings with each having a courtyard and two rooms built in them on a separate platform. Also all the houses are connected with each other through stairs, with each having stairs to its upper storey on the backside of the building. Each house also has a stupa built outside it.

We've got enough people digging up temples and tombs. We like it when settlements make the news.

Report from the %^#)* old west (&#*^ town of #@&%$(^% "Deadwood" Archaeologists find where Far East met Wild West

For three years, in a small lab in Rapid City, S.D., state archaeologists have been participating in the excavation of a 19th-century Chinese neighborhood buried under the fabled Wild West boomtown of Deadwood. In August, they closed down the dig and shipped the final boxloads of bone, wood, metal and glass to the state's lab for analysis.

The excavation is South Dakota's largest: a half-million-dollar project that began in May 2001, after a developer announced plans to tear down a former restaurant to build a parking lot. The city of Deadwood is a National Historic Landmark, so an archaeological assessment had to precede the demolition.

Heh. You have to be a tad familiar with the HBO series to get the above.

Ancient knife proves longer astronomical history

Archaeologists in northwest China's Qinghai province claimed that a 5,000-year-old stone knife with designs of constellations will extend China's history of astronomical observation by 1,000 years.

The finely-polished stone knife, six centimeters long and threecentimeters wide, was unearthed at the Laomao Ruins, a New Stone Age site nine kilometers west of Lamao Village in Qinghai.

Archaeologists also unearthed many other relics from the site including pottery pieces, stone and bone tools.

Okay! Pigs! Scientists weigh up pigs' lineage

Our Neolithic ancestors domesticated wild boars in at least seven regions, according to genetic analysis of 700 wild and farm pigs across Europe and Asia. Archaeologists had previously assumed that domestication occurred only in the ancient Near East (eastern Turkey) and China.

The study, led by scientists at Oxford and Durham universities in the UK, shows genetic fingerprints of independent domestication in five additional places: central Europe, Italy, India, northern India and south-east Asia.

Dang, only that brief blurb is available without subscription. We'll research more, or feel free to post more links in Comments.

Update: More from the BBC and the LA Times.

Last week's EEF news:

About the results of the scanning of Tutankhamun:
-- The SCA press release [submitted by Susan Cottman]:
[The latter report adds that the results dismiss both the theory of Tutankhamun having Klippel-Feil and the theory of Denis Forbes. The hight of the boy-king is estimated at 1.70 m.]
[The latter report, on the second page, goes into more detail about the cleft palate and overbite.]

-- Slideshow of photos:
-- Press Release [submitted by Susan Cottman] of the University of Liverpool: "British physical anthropologist is helping analyze the CT scan data":
With some more info about the leg and chest damage (no proof for wound infection).

Press report: "Mummy receives high-tech face-lift"
"Computer generates lifelike appearance for ancient remains",1299,DRMN_15_3606387,00.html
[About the mummy nicknamed Bess in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.]

Picture of Bess:

Press report: "Stolen Pharaonic monuments handed over to Egypt's delegation in London"
The eight antiques that were stolen from the museum of the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University, in 2002.

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner (]

Hymns to the Aten

a) The Great Hymn to the Aten in the tomb of Ay in Tell el-Amarna (no. 25) date: dyn. 18, reign of Amenophis IV / Akhenaton [date of composition]
-- Drawing in: Norman de G. Davies, The Rock Tombs of El Amarna, vol. VI: The Tombs of Parennefer, Tutu and Aÿ, London, 1908, pl. XXVII
-- Same drawing (370 KB), hieroglyphic text (low resolution: 110 KB; high resolution: 1.1 MB)
-- English translation by D. Winton Thomas, Documents from Old Testament Times, London, 1958 in the libretto of Philip Glass's opera "Akhnaten" (1987) [Act II, Scene 4]
-- English translation by James B. Pritchard (ed.), The Ancient Near East, vol. 1: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton, New Jersey, 1958, pp. 227-230
-- English translation [= Lichtheim II, 96-100]
-- English translation by Erik Hornung, Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, Ithaca, 1999 in the Appendix of Leon F. "Skip" Rowland, Origins of Leadership: Akhenaten, Ancient Leadership and Sacred Texts, in: Selected Proceedings from the 2003 annual conference of the International Leadership Association, November 6-8, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico - 18 pp., pdf-file: 270 KB

Yare Egyptology ( is pleased to announce the availability of
"The Mayer Papyri A & B" by T. Eric Peet
on CD-ROM for PC and Mac.
These hieratic papyri are fully illustrated in plates with a transliteration into hieroglyphs and a translation. Peet was considerably assisted in the translation by Alan Gardiner.

In the latest 'American Scientist', Vol. 93, No. 2, of March-April 2005, there is this article, available online (in HTML):
Jean-Daniel Stanley - "The Near-Destruction of Giza. How a 19th-century French engineer saved the Egyptian pyramids from being dismantled"
[Eds. We couldn't get this link to load. We read the article in the paper version, but can't comment on the factuality of it.]

The latest issue of 'Focus' magazine, no. 149, April 2005, has an article called "Egypt's Sunken Treasures", about archaeological work in Alexandria harbour. (Not available online)

Online version of: Frank Rutten, Julian Henderson, David Briggs, Unlocking the secrets of ancient glass technology using ToF-SIMS, in: Spectroscopy Europe, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 24-30 (2005) - pdf-file: 0.5 MB
"Overall, the application of ToF-SIMS [= time of flight secondary ion mass spectroscopy] to ancient glass has the potential to provide important new information about the occurrence nd distribution of trace impurities in inclusions, which cannot be obtained using any other technique. This will hopefully enable us to differentiate between glass production technologies, aid the determination of provenance of this important and prestigious material and hence increase our knowledge of the glass trade in the ancient world."

Online version of: Art Burrows, Woodworking in Ancient Egypt. Part 1:
Workshops and the Palace, in: The Archaeological Diggings, December 2004 / January 2005, pp. 42-45 - pdf-file: 180 KB

Online version of chapter 1 "The Interpretative Framework" of Lynn Meskell, Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2001, pp. 1-16
"Ultimately, I suggest that the concept of private life provides one meaningful framework to access ancient social life."
-- HTML:
-- pdf (0.1 MB):

Carol Haigh, "Estimating Osteological Health in Ancient Egyptian Bone via Applications of Modern Radiological Technology", in: Assemblage , issue 5, April 2000, in HTML:

End of EEF news

More later. Our fingers are tired from all this linking and typing.