Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dear Mom and Dad, Please send $$$$$

Just got this email over the EEF list, from Jan Picton of the Petrie Museum:

I recently posted some information about tunics in the Petrie Museum
and the online availability of all (or most) of the Petrie objects. I
received the following comment that I would like to take this
opportunity to follow up on list since I think it's a view that many
people may share.

" I really liked the old "cramped" museum. To me that is what a working
museum should be. I shall have mixed feelings when I see the new and
improved space I have heard about."

I could say the easy thing - that a 21st century world class museum and
collection deserves fitting surroundings - which they do. Or I could say
that Petrie himself would have been appalled at the conditions his
collection is kept in. He fought for Egyptology to be taken seriously at
UCL and for his collection to be used as a publicly accessible teaching

Post WW2 bombing it was housed in its current 'temporary' position.
The roof leaks in 13 places, we don't have enough room for the objects,
and every time an object is conserved and remounted it takes up more
space and there's nowhere for it to go. Eighty per cent of the objects
are not on public view and we want them to be. Staff work in
dreadfully cramped conditions - our outstanding curator, Stephen
Quirke, shares an office the size of a cupboard with the kitchen sink!

Yes, the old museum has 'charm' - I walked in on my first day as a
mature student ten years ago and never really left - but it should be
regarded as an international scandal. Our new space would have proper
study and teaching facilities, it would have its own conservation lab,
100 per cent of the objects will be on display or in visible, accessible
storage. Finally, there will be surroundings to do justice to the
collection and to the staff who work so hard to make it accessible to
the world.

But you may not have to worry - unless we raise another six million
pounds by Christmas, it won't happen. It may not equal world poverty in
the greater scheme of things but it will be a real tragedy.

Sorry for the passion, but it hit an over-stretched nerve! If anyone
wants to know more about it, email me. (

And further:

If you need more definitive info on the new building, or the opportunities for making a contribution, contact our Museum Manager, Sally Macdonald, on

For those never having been there, it is exactly what is described: A "quaint" museum that is bursting at the seams. We spent a week there working with some Predynastic material several years ago and the place tends to reward one's fantasy about what "real" Egyptology is like: A small, rather dimly lit place with artifacts all over and the aura of history all around.

We comment on the state of museums (and archaeological research generally) often because we think the issues of conservation and accessibility need to be front and center in modern archaeology. Digging up a thousand artifacts that are just going to sit in a museum basement and decompose in 50 years is really little better than looting. And all the detailed excavation records that go along with the artifacts are similarly worthless unless they're used and published. Digitizing everything is definitely the way things are moving, but examining the originals will still be needed.

So, you know, if you have a bundle of money sitting around without anything to do. . . .

Well. First give a pile of it to ArchaeoBlog, and then throw some the Petrie's way.

On to the news:

Antiquity unearthed Downtown

The shallow trenches and holes in the dirt, roped off in the back yard of an old adobe row house Downtown, seem at first like nothing more than the work of a diligent child playing in the mud.

Then archaeologist Homer Thiel mentions that this is the remains of a pit house built 2,000 years ago, well before the time of the Hohokam, and forms begin to jell - an arced pattern where posts once held up a roof, linear depressions where walls stood.

"This was not known before. This tells us this same spot was lived in for 2,000 years," said Thiel, project director for Desert Archaeology Inc., the firm hired to shore up the interior of a mid-19th-century triplex at 196 N. Court Ave.

CSI: Newcastle

Murder on the Nile in 2000 BC?

This mummy's head, dating back thousands of years, is being scanned by specialists at a North East hospital to find out how its owner died.

Gillian Scott, the Hancock's curatorial assistant at Egyptology, with a mummified head

The ancient head is one of four Egyptian skulls which form part of an ongoing study into the Hancock Museum's historic Egyptian Collections.

Now a team of top scientists at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary will use the latest medical equipment in a bid to delve back in time and discover its origins.

They hope to shed light on how the mummies met their deaths.

Thank GOD Archaeologists hunt for hot baths

Archaeologists are to dig up a set of Roman baths believed to be at a site in Swindon, Wiltshire.

The latest excavation at Groundwell Ridge started this week, hunting for a set of what used to be hot baths.

A Roman villa was first found at the site, in the north of the town, during housing construction in 1996.

In 2004, the team found a range of cold baths dating back 1,600 years. They hope to add to their collection with the latest five-week dig.

During the past nine years, English Heritage and Swindon borough Council have worked together to buy the land and fund excavations.

That's the whole thing.

Ancient Aboriginal site found in north-west Qld

KERRY O'BRIEN: Aborigines and archaeologists have excavated an ancient artefact site in north-western Queensland, which they believe may be one of the oldest ever discovered in this country. The site was unearthed when the Queensland Government began construction of a bridge. The dig unearthed thousands of spear blades, axes, and tools. It may lead to findings that Aborigines must have penetrated the interior of Australia much earlier than is presently believed. Genevieve Hussey reports.

DR TOM LOY, SOCIAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND: Every time I went to the site and started digging, I just kept getting this feeling like people have been here for a very long time.


Lettuce alone without clothes Egyptians ate lettuce to boost sex drive

Yet Egyptian bas reliefs put a different spin on the use of lettuce: the plant appears as an offering to the ancient Egyptian deity Min.

Invariably depicted with a large, erect penis, Min was the god of fertility and sexuality. For more than a century, archaeologists have wondered why a vegetable used to calm dreams was associated with the exuberant Min.

Modesty forbids us from providing photographs of Min.

(HT to Ann Althouse)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Breaking news Cairo heralds discovery of large sarcophagus

A large sarcophagus dating to the reign of King Ramses II (1279-1213 BC) was discovered in Saqqara, south of Cairo, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said on Tuesday.

The sarcophagus, made of red granite, bears hieroglyphic text and different titles of the deceased. It belongs to an overseer of stables during the reign of Ramses II.

"The newly-discovered sarcophagus was found inside an old kingdom tomb previously discovered in the 1980s," said the statement.

Look closer next time.

Archaeologists search for Orpheus

IN the past few weeks, archaeologists have discovered a Thracian temple in the Eastern Rhodope mountains which may include the gravesite of the mythical figure Orpheus.
Nikolai Ovcharov, along with his team, discovered the temple near the village of Tatul and the Perperikon settlement near Kurdjali.
Among their discoveries was a clay model of a staff of the Thracian kings, with the sun depicted at the top with a cross and triangles. They also found the wheel of the king’s chariot, also with sun images, and nine ritual fireplaces made of rock which were used for worshipping the Sun God.

Shuffle off to Werowocomoco Personal past mined at dig

To Ashley Atkins and Jeff Brown, few places are as important as Werowocomoco.

They are members of the Pamunkey tribe, one of several descended from the Powhatan chiefdom.

"This was the spot where Powhatan, John Smith and Pocahontas met, and history was made," Brown said yesterday.

Mummy update I Microprobe makeover for museum's mummy

THE CSIRO has teamed up with the National Gallery of Victoria to reconstruct and conserve the last resting place of a teenage Egyptian priestess who died around 700BC.

The coffin lid, one of the first major Egyptian antiquities to arrive in Australia, is in a fragile state.

About 60 per cent of the wood, and even more of its painted surface, are lost, but the original bright colours on the remaining pieces survive under layers of dirt – gallery officials think.

Mummy update II Bog Mummy Mistaken for Murder Victim

The body of a teenage girl thought to be the victim of foul play has turned out to be one of Germany's oldest and best-preserved mummies, German archaeologists announced at a press conference last week.

Found in September 2000 in a peat bog in the town of Uchte, in Lower Saxony, the corpse was first examined by the police homicide unit.

Though it had been fragmented by the peat machine, the body appeared to belong to a teenage girl. Investigators thought it could be a 16-year-old girl who had been missing since 1969.

Archaeological dig perplexes

Sitting in a mosquito-infested camp just off the Parks Highway a few weeks ago, archaeologist Brian Wygal was happily baffled.

Last summer, the University of Nevada, Reno, instructor made two intriguing finds in the Trapper Creek area while working with a Matanuska-Susitna Borough crew. The teams discovered sharp, stone blades and other tools at twin sites perched on knolls about five miles apart, one overlooking Trapper Creek, the other the Susitna River. They dated the sites at about 7,000 years old, one of the earliest found in the Susitna Valley and among the earliest in all of Southcentral.

Good article.

Kennewick update Scientists to begin study of ancient skeleton over Indian protest

After nearly a decade of court battles, scientists plan to begin studying the 9,300-year-old skeleton known as Kennewick Man next week.

A team of scientists plans to examine the bones at the University of Washington's Burke Museum in Seattle beginning July 6, according to their attorney, Alan Schneider.

Four Northwest Indian tribes had opposed the study, claiming the skeleton could be an ancestor who should be buried. The Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers had sided with the tribes.

Hi-Tech Stone Age Site Found

A 2.34-million-year-old tool manufacturing site in East Africa may have been the Stone Age's center for high tech, according to French archaeologists who studied more than 2,600 artifacts excavated there.

The archaeologists believe relics at the site in Kenya, called Lokalalei 2C, display a level of tool-making sophistication among its dwellers that was unique to the Late Pliocene, which occurred between 2.6 and 2.0 million years ago.

"Planning, productivity and the existence of a real knapping method are not yet demonstrated in other sites for this time period," said co-author, Anne Delagnes, referring to the early technique of shaping stones into tools.

Non-archaeological-but-cool story Extinct Mammal Had Venomous Bite, Fossils Suggest

About 60 million years ago, a small shrew-like mammal captured its prey by stabbing it with dagger-like teeth that delivered a nasty dose of venom, paleontologists reported today.

"Nothing like that has ever been described before," said Richard Fox, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Fox and his colleague Craig Scott found fossilized teeth at two sites in central Alberta. The remains are the first evidence to suggest that extinct mammals used venom to either capture prey or fend off predators.

So why aren't many mammals venomous?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sorry, no posts today. We're off doing various errands of a distinctly non-archaeological nature.

And we have learned what a power steering pressure hose does. . . . .

Monday, June 27, 2005

New Egyptian Museum update King Tut getting a new home in Egypt

A giant museum with a glowing alabaster facade and a roof in alignment with the nearby pyramids will house King Tut’s mummy and treasures along with thousands of other artifacts, according to a design unveiled Wednesday.

Wednesday’s design was the latest step in the government’s ambitious $500 million project for the Grand Museum of Egypt, which would provide a single spot at the foot of the pyramids for 100,000 artifacts, many of which have been sitting in warehouses for decades with no room to display them.

Egypt is negotiating with the Japanese Bank for International Development for a loan for the project and plans its own fund-raising drive. The $40 million that Egypt hopes to raise from a current tour of King Tutankhamun artifacts in the United States will go toward the project.

Also: The dramatically angled roof is aligned with the monuments: A line drawn from one edge of the roof would touch the tip of the pyramid of Cheops — the largest of the three — and the other edge points toward peak of the smaller Khefre pyramid.

Everybody write that down, because we know that 2,000 years from now, Erich Von Daniken's descendent (whether genetically or philosophically) will make a mint on a book claiming aliens built 'em all.

We wonder about it being the home for Tutankhamun's mummy though. We were under the impression that the Egyptians really wanted to keep him in his tomb. Frankly, we like that idea, if it can be done securely.

Update: And just when you thought you'd seen everything, we came across this while poking around for Von Daniken stuff: Uncover the Reptilian Agenda & Alien Agenda

Books such as 'Flying Serpents and Dragons : The Story of Mankind\'s Reptilian Past' and 'The Dragon Legacy: The Secret History Of An Ancient Bloodline' and documentaries such as 'David Icke:Reptilian Agenda' tell us that alien abductions are not done by beings from outer space. They live here, underground, and they are really shapeshifting reptiles. They can turn from people into serpents, dragons, snakes, alligators and lizards. These creatures secretly rule all governments, replacing world leaders with their half-human, shapeshifting offspring.

. . .

'Chariots of the Gods: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past' was the first book to get on the right track. It still thought aliens came from outer space, though.

It must be a spoof. . . . .
Lost city road. . . .found! EVIDENCE FOR ROMAN ROAD IS UNEARTHED

NEW evidence that appears to confirm the existence of another Roman road in Tynedale has rekindled the fires of controversy.

Historians and archaeologists have long argued about whether the Romans ever built a road heading due west from Corbridge on the south side of the River Tyne.

The perceived wisdom is that they wouldn’t have bothered – not when they had built another one, the Stanegate, going west on the north bank.

More Roman Britain stuff Major excavation at Roman forts

Three weeks of digging to excavate what could be the largest Roman garrison fort in Wales start on Monday.

The site, which dates from the first century AD, was first found at Dinefwr Park, near Llandeilo, in 2003.

Experts said the south Wales discovery could rewrite our understanding of the Roman conquest in the area.

Recent surveys confirmed the site, which is invisible from the surface, is much larger than first thought and is made up of two overlapping forts.

Field school update Uncovering History

Kimberly Eppler held shards of pottery in her hand, working to master the differences between whiteware, stoneware and yellow ware.

"Learning about it is fun for me," said Eppler, a senior at Natchitoches (La.) State University who graduates in December.

What Eppler learned helped with the sorting, bagging and initial cataloging of artifacts discovered at the New Philadelphia site near Barry.

Twenty-four undergraduate students wrap up five weeks of site work today as part of field schools sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the University of Illinois.

New Roman finds could turn history on its head

BRITAIN was home to Roman citizens some 50 years before the AD43 "invasion" date that generations of schoolchildren have been taught, new research has revealed.

The previously accepted version of the Roman invasion has its origins in the work of ancient spin-doctors trying to boost the reputation of the Emperor Claudius.

Archaeologists believe that a series of military artefacts unearthed in Chichester, Sussex, and dated decades before the AD43 date will turn conventional Roman history on its head.

More from The Independent

Book corner* These archaeologists are quite a find

(Review of "Guardian of the Horizon," by Elizabeth Peters: HarperCollins, 399 pages, $24.95.)

Although Elizabeth Peters is an American, she writes in the British style. Perhaps that is because the characters are British. Not a Yankee in the bunch.

She has captured the British gentry with accuracy. She features a family of archaeologists, the Emersons. They have the characteristic English upper lip and muddle through danger time and again, expecting to succeed in their endeavors. And they do.

* Why do they call it a "corner"? Who goes into corners for anything besides as a time-out (reserved for those under about 14 or so) or to be brutally murdered (Blair Witch)?

Chinese in America update Did Chinese beat out Columbus?

Did Chinese sailors really discover America before Columbus? A new exhibition sets the scene, presenting new evidence that lends support to the assumptions made in "1421: The Year China Discovered America" by Gavin Menzies.

"1421: The Year China Sailed the World," in Singapore in a special tent near the Esplanade (until Sept. 11), is primarily a celebration of Admiral Zheng He's seven maritime expeditions between 1405 and 1423. With a fleet of 317 ships and 28,000 men, Zheng He is generally acknowledged as one of the great naval explorers, but how far he actually went remains a matter of dispute.

With original artifacts, videos and interactive exhibits, "1421" aims to take visitors through Zheng He's life story, setting the historical and economic context of his voyages. Against this factual background, Menzies's theories are presented, along with new evidence, mainly maps, backing his claims.

Ancient Egyptians Loved Their Dead Animals

To most people, Egyptian mummies are a handful of dead pharaohs wrapped in linen bandages and buried in pyramids outside Cairo. In reality, virtually everyone in ancient Egypt who could afford it—as many as 70 million people over 3,000 years—wound up going through the elaborate two-month mummification process.

Additionally, millions of animals were mummified and buried alongside their owners. They were, says Richard Sabin, curator at the Natural History Museum of London, something of a send-off status symbol, much like large bouquets of flowers at funerals today.

Researchers Simulate Long-gone Societies of the American Southwest

According to new research, climate change alone cannot explain why the Puebloan people—also known as Anasazi—abruptly abandoned the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest in the 1300s after residing there for hundreds of years. Human impact on the environment, high population levels and social and political factors, including violent conflict, likely played important roles.

Tim Kohler of Washington State University bases this conclusion on the results of computer modeling simulations and traditional archaeological research performed by his NSF-supported research team.

Mummy scanning update Scientists may soon get glimpse of mummy's face

Pesed has called a western Pennsylvania college home for about 120 years, but her caretakers don't know what she looks like.

But that might change now that researchers have a CT scan of the 2,300-year-old Egyptian mummy. Officials believe the scan will provide enough information to allow a forensic artist to construct a bust of Pesed, a mummy from the Nile River town of Akhmim, about 350 miles south of Cairo.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ze mystery, it is solv-ed."

Archaeologists figure out mystery of Stonehenge bluestones

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have solved one of the greatest mysteries of Stonehenge - the exact spot from where its huge stones were quarried.

A team has pinpointed the precise place in Wales from where the bluestones were removed in about 2500 BC.

It found the small crag-edged enclosure at one of the highest points of the 1,008ft high Carn Menyn mountain in Pembrokeshire's Preseli Hills.

Underwater archaeology update Archaeological wonders are under the sea

- The recent discovery of the remains of a shipwrecked 4th century BC vessel, nicknamed Kythnos I after the Greek island near which it was found, is the latest testimony of the archaeological riches still submerged in Greek waters.

It also demonstrates the technological advances that underwater archaeology has made in this country in recent years.

Greece has no shortage of skilled archaeologists. But when it comes to underwater research, it is only recently that the Greek ministry of culture has begun mixing academic knowledge with hi-tech wizardry.

Soon-to-be-underwater archaeology update Ancient Thermal City to Be Flooded in Turkey

The world's oldest known ancient thermal city, Allianoi, stands to be flooded when the Yortanli Dam begins operation this November. Located in the very centre of the planned dam lake, it will be submerged under some 17 metres of water. If no solution is found, Turkey may lose a significant historical site.

To help save the 1,800-year-old city, environmentalists and other volunteers have formed the Allianoi Initiative Group, with the slogan "Don't Let Allianoi Be Flooded".

"A 2,000-year history is being sacrificed for a 50 to 60-year-old project. We don't say that the dam should not be constructed, but the project should be modified in a way that will prevent Allianoi from being ruined," says the group's spokesman, Arif Ali Cangi.

Even if it does eventually go under, it could work as a useful test site for studying the effects of sumberging a site under water. Everybody seems to think every site will be 'destroyed' when they are submerged, but there's not a whole lot of data available to say one way or the other.

Treasure! Arrchaeologists unearth part of 3, 500 year-old gold mask

Archaeologists in Southern Bulgaria, exploring what they believe to be the tomb of Orpheus, discovered fragments of a golden mask dating from the Trojan War, state TV reported.

The expedition found the gold in a 3, 500 year-old temple that has survived untouched by treasure hunters.
Archaeological team leader Nikolay Ovcharov said the mask was older than a 690-gram (24.3-ounce) Thracian gold mask that was unearthed a year ago in central Bulgaria.
The Thracians were Bronze Age peopl, who lived in the Balkans between 4000 B.C. and the seventh century A.D.
Ovcharov said the golden fragments were discovered in a perfectly preserved cultural layer from the 15 c. - 11 c. B.C. near the village of Tatul, next to the Bulgarian-Greek border.
He said the find could be linked the Ancient Greek Mycenae culture.

That's the whole thing.

Time for the weekly news from the EEF

Press report: "Scanning for answers to mummy's mysteries"
"Scientists hope to find out more about the 2,300-year-old mummy after CT scans are performed on her [Pesed] tonight at College Fields MRI in Neshannock, Lawrence County. A forensic sculptor will use the scans
to construct a three-dimensional model of Pesed's skull." [Website section at Westminster dedicated to Pesed (see menu on the left):

[Submitted by Nigel J. Hetherington ( and Albert Prince (]
Press report: "Egypt unveils grand museum design"
"Egypt has unveiled the design of a giant museum that will house King Tut's mummy and treasures along with tens of thousands of other artefacts."
Another report: "Design for New Egyptian Museum Unveiled"
And one with graphics:

At the Columbia University, Excavations at Amheida website (Dakhleh Oasis Project site no. 33/390-L9-1), the Director's Report 2005 has appeared:

"Walt Whitman and His Interest in Ancient Egypt"

Kanwal Qadri, The Delta after the Pharaohs. The Archaeological Evidence, C-paper in archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History. Uppsala University, Uppsala, 2004. 34 pp. - pdf-file: 850 KB
"The paper gives a general overview of the archaeology and history of the Nile Delta, with a focus on what the records tell us about this region's heyday in post-Pharaonic times. It also deals with the problems and
priorities of modern day archaeology in the Nile Delta, since ancient sites in this region are under constant pressure from a growing population, agricultural exploitation, and rising water levels."

Online version of: Joanna Pininska, Hemdan Rabbie Attia, Use of geomechanical research in the conservation of stone monuments (Maadi Town Temple, Fayoum, Egypt), in: Geological Quarterly, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 1-12
(2003) - pdf-file: 1.8 MB
"... In 1997 samples of the building material were collected on site and in
1998 laboratory studies of those samples were carried out in the Department
of Geomechanics at the Warsaw University ... Both applied methods showed the
salt solutions to be the main deterioration factor affecting the stone
elements and the anisotropy and various properties of the mortar and of the
bedded limestone as the main factors destabilising the construction of the
Temple as a whole. Degradation occurs gradually due to the internal and
external inhomogeneous field of deformation caused by climatic changes, with
cyclic strengthening due to salt incrustation and subsequent softening after
water saturation and temperature changes."

Katja Mueller, Statistical Applications for the Graeco-Roman Fayum - Three Case Studies -, 10 pp. - pdf-file: 0.9 MB - ["Please do not cite this section or use the data/ figures of this section without permission."]
"The KU Leuven Fayum Project gathered a large amount of socio-economic data
from papyri. This information was added to an existing database, which can
be queried online: Prosopographia Ptolemaica Online. Such databases are an
important tool for statistic analysis. Within the scope of the KUL Fayum
Project this data was used for several statistical advances. Three of such
advances are briefly introduced here."

Online version of: Roger Blench, The history and spread of donkeys in Africa, in: Paul Starkey, Denis Fielding (eds.), Donkeys, people and development. A resource book of the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and
Southern Africa (ATNESA), ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Wageningen, The Netherlands, 2000, pp. 22-30 - pdf-file: 240 KB ["This version of the paper has been specially prepared for the
ATNESA website. It may not be identical to the paper appearing in the resource book."]
"The domestication and historical development of the donkey are traced
through archaeological and linguistic associations. The donkey is indigenous
to the African continent and its wild progenitor is usually considered to be
the Nubian wild ass ... Records of domestic asses begin in Egypt in the
fourth millennium BC ..."

Dig Diary: Brooklyn Museum Excavations at the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut"
"Since 1976, the Brooklyn Museum has been carrying out archaeological work
at the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut (pronounced 'Moot') at South
Karnak, an important religious site for almost two thousand years ... 'Dig
Diary' invites you to follow the work of the 2005 expedition in weekly photo
journals covering every aspect of our team's activity." - Includes links to
background information about this project.
[Eds. We need more of these Entries From the Field type things. Admittedly, when one is out in the field, never mind the possible logistical problems of obtaining Web access, one is also heavily involved in doing as much work as possible; but much of the lay public would probably be interested in the daily routine of what goes on out in the field. (Okay, maybe not everything. . . .) People invariably forget much of what goes on by the time they get back, and it would probably humanize the work more.]

End of EEF news

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Just a few items for now.

Attention gentle readers

Take part, if you wish, in an MIT survey of bloggers and blog readers. Sadly, ArchaeoBlog doesn't get any kickbacks from users participating, but what the heck, add some data points anyway.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Huns! Archaeologists start digging for Hun settlements in Russia

Major archaeological excavation work has started in the Lipetsk region's Zadonsk and Khlevnoye districts (Central Russia), where Hun settlements used to be in ancient times.

"Four archaeological expeditions, involving a hundred people each, have started excavation work on the banks of the Don and the Voronezh rivers on the sites of former settlements of the Huns," Mikhail Ryazantsev, an archaeologist at the State Department for Cultural Heritage Protection, told RIA Novosti.

CSI: Merseyside and Cheshire

Sleuths join ancient dig

MERSEYSIDE and Cheshire police have joined diggers at an archaeological site to learn how to identify burial plots and handle skeletons.

Teams of crime scene investigators have helped retrieve scores of skeletons at the remains of a medieval chapel where a 5,000-year-old wooden ritual circle similar to Stonehenge has been discovered.

The unique partnership - the brainchild of Bernard Roberts, Head of Forensic Investigations at Cheshire Police - is designed to give the CSIs hands-on experience.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bronzeware unearthed in ancient royal tombs in N. China

Bronzeware from a group of 3,000- year-old tombs, which archaeologists said belonged to the royal family of Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 BC-771 BC), was unearthed in northern China's Shanxi Province, said local government.

The tombs, which lie about 17 meters underground, were found at the Hengshui Village of Jiangxian County. Archaeologists found more than 30 pieces of bronzeware, including cooking vessels, kettles and bells, the provincial institute of archeology announced Tuesday.

Ball State studies Native American site

Ball State University researchers are studying what remains of a prehistoric Native American site in Indiana.

The property formerly contained a burial mound surrounded by a 31-acre rectangle made of earthen walls reaching 9 feet high — the largest Indian enclosure that has ever been found in the state, researchers said.

Donald Cochran, director of BSU’s archaeological resources management service, and his assistant, Beth McCord, have received a $26,850 federal grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. It will help pay for a new investigation of the site near Winchester, 20 miles east of Muncie.

Bog body! Ancient 'Bog Body' Unearthed in Germany

A body found in a peat bog in northern Germany, first thought to be a murder victim, turned out to be a sensational archeological find: the 2,700 year old mummified corpse of a teenage girl.

At first the police thought the body of a teenage girl they were alerted to was evidence in an unsolved murder case. But upon closer examination, it turned out the suspected victim of foul play found a peat bog in the town of Uchte, Lower Saxony, was actually slightly older than first thought, some 2,700 years older.

Many of the body's hundred-odd parts were first dug out of the moor in 2000. At the time, the police homicide unit was assigned to the case, but when they failed to solve it, the file was archived and the moor body forgotten.

And ice body! Interview: "Inca Mummy Man" Johan Reinhard

In 1995 on the 20,500-foot (6,248-meter) frozen summit of Mount Ampato in Peru, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Johan Reinhard made the discovery of a lifetime: a nearly perfectly preserved, frozen Inca mummy.

Viewed by millions and heralded by Time magazine as one of the most important scientific discoveries of the year, the find launched Reinhard on a quest to preserve many sacred Inca sites in the Andes of South America.

Porn! Temple titan with carnal carvings - Ancient complex bigger than Nalanda found near Raipur

An ancient temple complex four times bigger than Nalanda with stone carvings not seen even in Khajuraho has been discovered at Sirpur, a town on the Mahanadi near here.

About 200 mounds, 100 Buddha vihars, four Jain vihars and more than 100 Shiva temples spread across 25 sq km were found during excavations that began in February but have had to be suspended for the monsoon.

While this makes it the biggest temple complex of the sixth and seventh centuries to be uncovered so far, the finding is significant not for size alone.

For the first time, stone carvings depicting sexual activity among animals have been found. “This is the rarest of carvings seen in Indian archaeology,” said K.K. Muhhamed, superintending archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India.

Animal smut, but we'll use any excuse to get more hits from random searchers.

Study looks at historic site protocol

A newly released study makes several recommendations for federal agencies dealing with American Indian tribes on sacred or historical sites.

The study was commissioned by the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) after it was conceived in conjunction with the National Park Service's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

''Consultation with tribes seemed an elusive process,'' said report author Sherry Hutt on why the report was necessary.

Shroud of Turin update First Open-to-the-Public Scientific Peer Review Shroud of Turin Conference Slated for Dallas, September 8-11

The Dallas International Shroud of Turin Conference, a scientific conclave for presenting peer-reviewed research papers on what is thought to be the 2,000-year-old burial cloth of the historic Jesus, will be held in Dallas, September 8-11, at the Adolphus Hotel.

The Dallas conclave of scientists and scholars are expected to shed new light on the age-old question of whether the image on the Shroud is a visible projection of Christ's resurrection as some believers claim, or a clever medieval fake that has long hoaxed believers.

We're dubious of the supposed "peer-reviewed" nature of the presentations since this event seems to be sponsored by pro-Shroud (as in, it's real) groups, notably the late Ray Rogers, a prominent Shroud supporter. BTW, one of the latest issues of either Skeptic or Sceptical Inquirer have a section on the latest piece of work by Rogers reported earlier in the year.

Firm secures Egypt temple mission

A specialist south Wales company has won a contract to help preserve an ancient Egyptian temple.

Newport-based Cintec International will carry out work to reinforce the 2,500-year-old Temple of Hibis in the Western Desert.

The company is using a system which it says will leave no visible change to the temple's outward appearance.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Who wants to party in the middle of winter? Stonehenge druids 'mark wrong solstice'

Modern-day druids, hippies and revellers who turn up at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice may not be marking an ancient festival as they believe.

The latest archaeological findings add weight to growing evidence that our ancestors visited Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice.

Analysis of pigs's teeth found at Durrington Walls, a ceremonial site of wooden post circles near Stonehenge on the River Avon, has shown that most pigs were less than a year old when slaughtered.

More solstice news
Study sheds fresh light on Dilmun

A SAUDI archaeologist is rounding up a group of experts to witness an annual phenomenon in Saar, which he claims sheds new light on the Dilmun civilisation.

Dammam Regional Museum archaeologist Nabiel Al Shaikh has been visiting a temple at the 4,000-year-old Saar settlement for the last nine years in an attempt to prove his theory.

The ancient temple has an oddly positioned triangular corner room, which Mr Al Shaikh claims was used as an astronomical device to measure the position of the sun.

He believes that during the summer solstice, which falls on June 21, the sun would set over the corner of the temple - letting priests know that it was the beginning of the New Year.

Dig uncovers ritzy side of Acadian life

Archeologist Marc Lavoie and a team of students from Universite Sainte-Anne have uncovered a rash of new Acadian artifacts from the Belleisle marsh, a former salt marsh that stretches from Annapolis Royal to Bridgetown.

The artifacts, described as everything from pipes to pottery, illustrate more completely than ever the daily lives of the Acadian people in the early 1700s.

Excavations took place in the spring of 2004 and again last month at the site along the Annapolis River where numerous foundations of early Acadian homes were first discovered in the 1960s.

Danger in the Ruins

Indiana Jones would have just grabbed the treasure and bullwhipped his way to safety. But today's real-life archaeologists don't have it so easy. Freidel braves poisonous snakes, flesh-boring flies, arsonists, murderous thieves, and machete-armed, hostage-taking mobs. But he must also do meticulous science, using dental picks and soft brushes to painstakingly excavate every shard and bone. And for the first time since his initial dig at age 17, Freidel must protect ruins from overcrowding, poverty, and greed by, for example, putting out forest fires and creating jobs for locals. "When I first walked in here four years ago, I was naive. I had no idea I'd have to be doing all this," to excavate jungle mounds hidden deep in the Laguna del Tigre National Park, about 50 miles west of the more famous Maya city of Tikal. "But it has become impossible to do archaeology without protecting the sites," Freidel says.

Good, long article on the realities of doing archaeology today. Although this sentence: But the recent stripping of Iraq's treasures woke up the entire profession to the need to better protect sites with both security and economic incentives for locals. If archaeologists needed Iraq to "wake them up" then it says something pretty pathetic about our discipline. In fact, looting has been high on the archaeology agenda for years. Media (and political) interest in the Iraq situation only served as a handy vehicle for the issue to come out of the SAA meetings and into the pages of newsmagazines. But still, archaeology is changing especially for those working in foreign countries where extensive local involvement is now a must.

Wish there was a picture. . . Iran may lose chance to introduce world’s most ancient animation

The Iranian president of the Association Internationale du Film d'Animation (ASIFA, International Animated Film Association) warned Iranian cultural officials that they might lose the chance to introduce the most ancient example of animation, which was discovered at Iran’s 5200-year-old Burnt City, during the ASIFA session that is to be held in Seoul in August.

“Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to begin recording the artifact. Further delay will prevent us from completing the work for the Seoul session,” Nureddin Zarrinkelk added.

. . .

The bowl was found in the grave of a person who appears to have been the painter of the animated pictures. The animation shows nine pictures of a goat which is jumping to eat the leaves of a tree.

Search on for secret of Greek sea battle

They were hopelessly outnumbered, but even then the Greeks knew it would be the battle that could change history.

The Asian invaders had entered the Aegean. The "comeliest of boys" had been castrated; the throats of the "goodliest" soldiers ripped out.

Mounted on his marble throne, Xerxes, Persia's formidable warrior king, looked over the bay of Salamis, confident that he was about to enslave Europe. But instead of victory came defeat.

Okay, not archaeology. . . Pioneer descendants help Duwamish tribe

Amy Johnson's great-great-grandfather, David Denny, faced grim odds when his family and others in the Denny Party reached Puget Sound after a half-year journey from Illinois.

The group, which later founded Seattle, likely would have perished had it not been for the generosity of Duwamish tribal members, who offered clam broth to revive the ailing babe, shelter and protection from hostile tribes.

Yet unlike the legendary assistance New England tribes offered the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock so long ago, the friendship between the Duwamish and early white settlers remains a little-known, yet vital, element of area history.

Johnson, a Bellevue resident, wants that to change. While watching her own family grow, she felt an urge last year to thank and honor the tribe that enabled her and other settler descendants to exist, generations later.

But a nice story.

Human evolution update Did humans evolve in fits and starts?

Humans may have evolved during a few rapid bursts of genetic change, according to a new study of the human genome, which challenges the popular theory that evolution is a gradual process.

Researchers studying human chromosome 2 have discovered that the bulk of its DNA changes occurred in a relatively short period of time and, since then, only minor alterations have occurred.

This backs a theory called “punctuated equilibrium” which suggests that evolution actually occurred as a series of jumps with long static periods between them.

We were watching an old X-Files episode a couple of weeks ago, when Mulder referred to it as 'punctual equilibrium'. Can't be late for those mutations!

A mammoth discovery Wolly mammoth closer to Asian elephants

Japanese scientists said Friday that DNA tests have shown that the prehistoric woolly mammoth is more closely related to Asian elephants than to their African counterparts, settling a long-running debate over the lineage of the giant animals that went extinct 10,000 years ago.

Nagoya University professor Tomoo Ozawa and his team examined muscle tissue DNA taken from a woolly mammoth excavated in Siberia and determined that the animal and Asiatic elephants branched off from the same ancestor 4.8 million years ago. African elephants diverged from the family tree earlier on, about 7.3 million years ago, the group said.

Egyptian glassworks updates

National Geographic

Discovery News

And the BBC.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Last week's EEF news

Press report: "Them bones: is Alexander the Great buried in Venice?"
"If a British historian is right, Italians in Venice have spent the last 400 years or so praying to conqueror Alexander the Great instead of city patron St. Mark."
(Note Andrew Chugg has a website dedicated to his theories about the tomb and body of Alexander; it makes the Egypt-connection clear (a mummy that was smuggled from Alexandria to Venice in AD828): )

Press report: "Roman walls unearthed in Luxor"
"Segments of Roman walls surrounding Luxor and Karnak temples have been discovered."

Press report: "SCA implements projects to treat subterranean water"
"The rise of subterranean water is a source of chronic headache for archaeologists in Egypt. With most sites across the country endangered by rising water levels, officials were forced to work out plans to reduce the already gathered water or, in the worst cases, to dismantle the monument and reconstruct it on higher ground."

(Saaaaay, here's what appears to be a truly fascinating bit of research)
[Submitted by Michael Tilgner]
* Online version of: Anthony J. Cagle, The Spatial Structure of Kom el-Hisn: An Old Kingdom Town in the Western Nile Delta, Egypt, Dissertation, University of Washington, 2001
"Since very few Old Kingdom settlements have been excavated in any detail, especially in the Delta, Kom el-Hisn presents a unique opportunity to obtain a statistically valid sample of artifacts in association with intact architecture. The data for this study is based on excavations from two seasons, 1986 and 1988, which employed randomly placed 2-meter test pits and larger areas cleared and excavated room-by-room. The deposits used in this study were described and interpreted based on strict sedimentological principles rather than the inferred histories of the artifacts contained therein. This allowed spatial variation due to depositional processes to be controlled and differentiated from spatial variation due to functional or other factors. In addition, I have paid special attention to the artifact classes used in the analysis to ensure that the variation they exhibit is functional."

Online version of: Michael G. Hasel, The Structure of the Final Hymnic-Poetic Unit on the Merenptah Stela, in: ZAW, vol. 116, pp. 75-81 (2004) - pdf-file: 153 KB
"The structure of the final hymnic-poetic unit on the Merenptah stela has been crucial in the current discussion over the origin of Israel. This study appraises the latest suggestion by J.K. Hoffmeier (1997) and seeks to combine the grammatical interpretation with terminological, geographical, and conceptual considerations. Rather than contradicting earlier proposals these latest grammatical observations enhance and even bolster the
interpretation that Israel was located within the region Canaan/Hurru and that it was an entity powerful enough to be mentioned alongside the major cities of Ashkelon, Gezer, and Yenoam."

Online version of: Timothy S. Gegg-Harrison, Ancient Egyptian Numbers: A CS-Complete Example, in: J. Gersting, R. McCauley (eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, Charlotte, North Carolina, pp. 268-272, February 2001 (= ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 268-272 (2001) - pdf-file: 210 KB
"Approximately 4000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians used a numbering system that serves as a prototype CS-complete example. In this paper, we outline the use of the Egyptian numbering system as an example that naturally extends through CS1, CS2, and Discrete Mathematics."

Chris Peterson, Why is Archaeoastronomy Underrepresented in Egyptian Studies?, Lecture at the 2004 annual conference of the American Research Center in Egypt in Tucson, April 17, 2004
pdf (40 KB):
"Astronomical knowledge forms a valuable component of the assembled body of knowledge for many ancient, stable, socially stratified civilizations ... However, aside from a few narrowly defined areas, the subject is largely ignored by the majority of researchers in Ancient Egyptian studies."

Matthew Joel Adams, Proposed Investigation of Flooded Archaeological Remains Beneath Lake Nasser, Paper presented at the 2nd MIT Conference on Technology, Archaeology, and the Deep Sea, April 26-28, 2002 - 7 pp., pdf-file: 22 KB
"... I would like to focus this presentation specifically on opportunities that Lake Nasser has to offer for archaeological investigation ..."

Online version of: N. M. Swerdlow, O. E. Neugebauer (May 26, 1899 - February 19, 1990), in: Biographical Memoirs, vol. 75, 1998, pp. 214-239 html:
pdf (150 KB):
"Otto Neugebauer was the most original and productive scholar of the history of the exact sciences, perhaps of the history of science, of our age. He began as a mathematician, turned first to Egyptian and Babylonian mathematics, and then took up the history of mathematical astronomy, to which he afterward devoted the greatest part of his attention. In a career of sixty-five years, he to a great extent created our understanding of mathematical astronomy from Babylon and Egypt, through Greco-Roman antiquity, to India, Islam, and Europe of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Through his colleagues, students, and many readers, his influence on the study of the history of the exact sciences remains profound, even definitive."

Phillip Ashencraft, Excavating the World's First Business School, in: The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 13, No.1 February 2003 [?] - pdf-file: 95 KB
"In discovering the pristine burial chamber of the master royal scribe Nar-Mer Hatshepsut in Karnak (circa 2600 B.C.), my colleagues and I have opened a truly unique window on our pedagogical past." - Humor.

End of EEF news.
Many, many items to catch up on. We'll be perusing the wires and get to the EEF news from last week later. See below for a bit more on Kennewick Man and a new paper being published on Polynesians visiting Southern California.

Slavery archaeology update Archaeologist attempts to find slave quarters on Coosaw Island

Evidence of early slave life may rest just across the Coosaw River under a foot of earth.

On Wednesday morning, archaeologist Dan Battle, with help from colleagues, used a ground-penetrating radar device in an attempt to locate slave cabins in a field on David Smith Community Center grounds on Coosaw Island.


Cultural Heritage Minister Rocco Buttiglione considers a "European archaeology charter" necessary. According to the minister Italy can give the example to the rest of Europe preparing a "detailed archaeological charter of our territory to plan the conservation and appreciation of our immense heritage. Italy must become the European leader to launch the project of a European archaeological charter to help in the conservation, tutelage and appreciation especially of countries that entered the European Union last."

That's the whole thing.

Archaeologists launch long-term dig in W.Va.

Archaeologists have begun a three-year project unearthing the ruins of the U-S Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, in West Virginia.
They hope to find artifacts from buildings leveled after the Civil War.

Marsha Wassel is a spokeswoman for the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. She says the armory employed some 400 people in two rows of buildings divided by a 70-foot-wide street.

Fight! Fight! WASTE PLANT: Public concern grows

WORRIED residents have delivered protest letters to the council about plans to build a giant waste plant in Peterborough.

The move comes the day after The Evening Telegraph revealed the plans to build the waste plant could prove disastrous for Flag Fen – regarded as one of the most important Bronze Age archaeological sites in Europe.

If it is built, the controversial £220 million Global Olivine waste recycling site will be the biggest of its kind in Europe.

Plan your barbecues now National Archaeology Week

From Saturday 16th to Saturday 24th July over 250 archaeological events will take place up and down the UK.

With over 250 events already registered from right across England and Wales, National Archaeology Week running from Saturday 16th to Saturday 24th July will be the biggest archaeology festival ever.

We were wondering what was happeing in Mehr Iranian, Japanese archaeologists to study Neolithic caves at Tang-e Bolaghi

A team of Iranian and Japanese archaeologists is to study two Neolithic caves located at the ancient site of Tang-e Bolaghi in Iran’s southern province of Fars, an expert of Iran’s Archaeological Research Center announced on Saturday.

“According to an agreement signed between the Archaeological Research Center and the University of Tsukuba, several Iranian archaeologists and eight experts from the Japanese university will begin work at the site next month,” Karim Alizadeh added.

“Due to the dearth of studies on Iranian Neolithic caves, the upcoming studies on the two caves will be very important,” he noted.

Mohr from Mehr Archaeologists’ efforts to study Isfahan’s Atiq Square hindered by construction activities

Badly planned construction activities at the historic site of Atiq Square in Isfahan in recent decades have prevented Iranian archaeologists from identifying old strata of the site for renovation, an official of the Isfahan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department said on Saturday.

“The buildings have spoiled all the old strata at the site, but the few recent excavations have determined that the square was a very big site with only a few structures, because we could find no remarkable ruins even in the intact strata,” Mohsen Javari added.

Remains of prehistoric plant found Shandong

Chinese archaeologists said Tuesday that they found remains of 30 kinds of plants dating back 8,000 years in east China's Shandong province.

The remains were found near the construction site of an international exposition center in the coastal city of Qingdao.

Zhang Zhigang, expert with China Paleontology Society, said a team of archaeologists had been digging for ancient plant remains since the end of last year when they first found remains of a 10-cm-long reed at the site. He said the discovery is a breakthrough and will provide evidence for human evolution research.

Non-archaeology, but relevant USS Arizona's vigor tested

Divers are collecting information to help experts determine how fast the USS Arizona is deteriorating.

The battleship sank on Dec. 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The remains of more than 1,100 crewmen remain entombed under the USS Arizona Memorial.

"Collapse is inevitable, but by all indications, it is not imminent. It could be decades," said Matthew Russell, an underwater archaeologist who is heading the six-member team.

Apparently, the wreck contains an awful lot of fuel still on board which has been oozing out very slowly over the years. Once the structure collapses, however, it all could go gushing into the harbor. It's a tricky situation since it's basically sacred ground and would take an awful lot of disturbance (we assume) to study and remove the remaining oil.

Update: More here.

Yes, indeed Egypt's other pasts

Although Egypt stands at the crossroads of continents and civilizations, images of pyramids, The Sphinx and mummies dominate, eclipsing its other historic cultural and religious strands.

Now attempts are being made to redress the balance and to put the Pharaonic period in context through an ambitious renovation project in Cairo and a series of cultural events in the United States.

Tourism has flourished under the watchful eyes of the Pharaohs with the majority of foreign visitors being attracted by the prospect of viewing ancient tombs and temples.

But this rather blinkered view of Egypt's past has been criticized because it overlooks the county's debt to the heritage of the Greeks, Romans, Copts and Islam.

Much is true in that story, and some efferts at rehabbing many of the Coptic and Islamic monuments (i.e., buildings mostly) have been going on for some time under the auspices of several foreign agencies, along with their Egyptian counterparts.

This is interesting Excavators find ancient urban settlement in south Kashmir

Excavators have stumbled into the remains of a bustling ancient urban settlement in Anantnag district of south Kashmir with tiled pavements ‘stamped in colourful human and animal motifs’ and inscriptions in the now defunct Karoshti script.

“The remains of the civilisation fanning over several hectares of land was discovered during an exploration of the area by a team of the J&K Archaeology Department,” Archives Archaeology and Museum Deputy Director Mohammad Shafi Zahid said.

He said archaeology assistants Ehsan-ul-Haq, Ghulam Rasool Teli and Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat were excavating the area when they came across ‘surface evidence of the civilisation’.

Kennewick Man update Kennewick Man to be studied in Seattle

Scientists say they are wrapping up final arrangements to study Kennewick Man's remains in early July at University of Washington's Burke Museum in Seattle.

The 9,400-year-old skeleton found along the banks of the Columbia River in 1996 has been the focus of a bitter nine-year court battle between the federal government, Mid-Columbia Native American tribes that claim the bones as their ancestor and the scientists who want to study the remains.

Scientists from around the country plan to convene in Seattle for about two weeks early next month to conduct the research, said Alan Schneider, Portland-based attorney for the scientists.

Did ancient Polynesians visit California? Maybe so. Scholars revive idea using linguistic ties, Indian headdress

Scientists are taking a new look at an old and controversial idea: that ancient Polynesians sailed to Southern California a millennium before Christopher Columbus landed on the East Coast.

Key new evidence comes from two directions. The first involves revised carbon-dating of an ancient ceremonial headdress used by Southern California's Chumash Indians. The second involves research by two California scientists who suggest that a Chumash word for "sewn-plank canoe" is derived from a Polynesian word for the wood used to construct the same boat.

The scientists, linguist Kathryn A. Klar of UC Berkeley and archaeologist Terry L. Jones of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, had trouble getting their thesis of ancient contact between the Polynesians and Chumash published in scientific journals. The Chumash and their neighbors, the Gabrielino, were the only North American Indians to build sewn-plank boats, a technique used throughout the Polynesian islands.

It's a decent article, but it fails to go into any details on why the original paper was rejected (i.e., the specific criticisms). We are concerned about basing this on a few similar-sounding words. . . .

Egyptian glass Ancient Glassmakers: Egyptians crafted ingots for Mediterranean trade

When pharaohs ruled Egypt, high-status groups around the Mediterranean exchanged fancy glass items to cement political alliances. New archaeological finds indicate that by about 3,250 years ago, Egypt had become a major glass producer and was shipping the valuable material throughout the region for reworking by local artisans.

This discovery settles a more-than-century-old debate over whether ancient Egyptians manufactured raw glass themselves or imported it from Mesopotamia, say Thilo Rehren of University College London and Edgar B. Pusch of the Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim in Germany in the June 17 Science.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Video corner

Supposedly, there is a streamable version of Steve Martin's 'King Tut' skit from Saturday Night Live here but we can't get it to actually play.

More later.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Let's get the show on the road King Tut returns to dazzle

Pharaohs may never have found the glorious afterlife they were expecting, but one thing about ancient Egypt is eternal -- the popularity of King Tut.

The Boy King -- and his bling -- return to the United States 26 years after his treasures dazzled 8 million museum visitors and created a new category of cultural event: the museum blockbuster.

Even by today's over-the-top standards, the Tutankhamun collection is staggering. This time, curators of "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs" are packing displays with more than twice as many gold and jewel-encrusted artifacts from the world's most celebrated archaeological discovery. There are 50 objects from the pharaoh's tomb and 70 more from the graves of his noble relatives. All the artifacts are at least 3,300 years old.

CBS article here and check out the photo essay.

NPR's take here.

Yahoo! has a similar photo montage:

"Eh, the CGI ones in "Mummy" were way cooler. Cuz, you know, they moved."

Heeeeey, where are that camel's eyes pointing. . . . .

Aaagh! It's a walking, dessicated. . . oh, uh, never mind.

Um, how about that, another JLH picture. . . .

Fancy that, Zahi's there.

Okay, last one. Promise.

Okay, back to something resembling reality. . .

Ancient structures found near highway

For the first time archeologists in Norway have been able to reveal a large surface area linked to known helleristninger - rock carvings - and the dig has produced results.

Traces of two 12-15 meter (39-49 foot) long constructions have come to light in the middle of the key area for rock engravings in Østfold County, near Solbergkrysset in Skjeberg. A few meters to the side of the longhouses lies a large stone bearing carved drawings of a great ship and a rider on a horse.

"Before we had indications of a dwelling from a posthole. But the find of two fine longhouses is much more than we could have dared to predict," said archeologist Gro Anita Bårdseth of the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo and head of the E6 project.

Not much else coming across the wires today.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Book corner All Wrapped Up

ALTHOUGH PRACTICED BY other civilizations, mummification is most popularly associated with the ancient Egyptians. Our modern fascination with the mummy is only too apparent in the crowds that flock to the Egyptian Museum to gawp at the wizened remains of long dead pharaohs, or the enduring popularity of certain B-rate horror movies of which they are the spine-tingling focus.

Apparently the human mummy is only just part of the story, for not only did the ancient Egyptians also mummify their animals, they did so in industrial quantities. Animal cemeteries at places such as Tuna al-Gebel, Saqqara, Bubastis and numerous other sites have yielded animal mummies that number in the millions and yet have received relatively little attention. Divine Creatures Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt, edited by American University in Cairo (AUC) Egyptology Professor Salima Ikram, does much to redress this imbalance though it remains, in the most positive sense, very much still a work in progress.

We here at ArchaeoBlog can readily testify that Dr. Ikram is indeed a delightful lecturer, and if this book reads anything like her personal style, it ought to be an excellent read. We've worked with Salima in the field and we swear that if her energy could be bottled up and sold, the Saudi royal family would be back to living in tents following herds of sheep within a month or two. She obviously loves her work, more importantly is good at it, and has that rare ability to be both entertaining and informative at the same time. Not to mention utterly charming and with a truly wicked sense of humor.

She also has a rather keen sense of what may be causing various bowel afflictions among furreigners in Egypt and what to do about them. This skill should not be underestimated.

Salima in the field:

Salima working very hard in the field:

Not Salima, but a cute picture of our site dog. Named him 'Pavarotti' because he didn't bark, he just whined like he was singing. Hit with the lady dogs, too:

Roman ‘dumping ground’ unearthed

Roman remains unearthed from the site of a former car park in Croydon have sparked speculation that other ancient artefacts could lay undiscovered close by.

Archaeologists say the Roman dumping ground' unearthed during an excavation of a former car park in Lower Coombe Street could be an indication of an occupied settlement nearby, which may be hidden under houses or businesses.

Americans Help Excavate the First Ever Academic Town of Iran

The ancient city of Jondi Shapur, the first ever Iranian academic town, will undergo a series of excavations by a joint team of American archaeologists from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and Iranian experts.

Jondi Shapur is located in the southern province of Khuzestan and was a major academic town at the time of the Sassanid dynasty. When Islam entered Iran, many scholarly texts began to be translated from Pahlavi language into Arabic, transferring the Iranian knowledge to the Arab world.

Body found. . . again Indian Remains Unearthed At Tabernacle–Again

Crews doing seismic retrofitting of the Salt Lake Tabernacle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have unearthed remains believed to be those of an American Indian that were first found in the 1960s and then re-interred.

Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday that those remains dated back before the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in 1847.

``The bones were offered for reburial at that time to Native American tribes in the area, but because a tribal identification could not be made, they declined the offer,'' Trotter said. ``Under the direction of a Native American spiritual leader, the remains (at that time) were re-interred in a concrete vault where they were discovered.''

Finally, Thierry Benderitter sends us this web site alert:

There is now a new publication on OsirisNet: the 3D virtual visit of queen
Nefertari's tomb, one of the most beautiful in Egypt.

The URL in English:
and in French:

Monday, June 13, 2005

Breaking news! ArchaeoBlog refuses to care about what the Michael Jackson jury decides

And a couple items of interest.

Is there anything the Chinese didn't invent first? China resurrects world's earliest seismograph

Chinese seismologists and archeologists have announced that they've created a replica of "Didong Yi," the world's first seismograph.

The announcement in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, also home to the seismograph's original inventor Zhang Heng (78-139 AD), came almost two months after the device passed relevant appraisal and examination by a scientific committee in April.

Seven scientists in seismology, archeology and mechanical engineering from Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Museum and China Earthquake Administration confirmed that the replica was a "historic step" towards complete reconstruction.

"We believe the newly restored seismograph model is the best at present," said Academician Teng Jiwen, a research fellow at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China's top scientific research body.

We're guessing the bikini. Which automatically puts us light years ahead, culture-wise.

GIS technology being used to preserve City of Alexandria Archaeology Museum maps

Virginia Tech's Center for Geospatial Information Technology (CGIT) in the National Capital Region, has announced that it will collaborate with the Office of Historic Alexandria to digitally preserve important historic maps for the Alexandria Archaeology Museum beginning with the area outside of Old Town Alexandria where archaeological resources are most threatened by expanding development. Direct funds from the City of Alexandria in addition to a grant from the Historic Alexandria Foundation will allow Virginia Tech CGIT to develop a framework for a Historic Alexandria Digital Atlas based on Geographical Information System (GIS) technology.
Dig at old Tucson home yielding finds dating back hundreds of years

An archaeological dig at one of Tucson's oldest homes is yielding artifacts dating back hundreds of years, including a a musket ball, gun flints, bones and pottery.

The dig at the so-called Triplex building, Tucson's fifth-oldest home, is being done under contract with the city's downtown revitalization project.

The home will be used as a museum in the project, said Homer Thiel, project director of Desert Archaeology and a local authority on the Tucson Presidio period, 1775 to the mid-1850s.

Mysteries of the Xiaohe Tombs in Xinjiang, China

On April 17, 2004, the Xiaohe ("Small River") Tombs in Xinjiang Province, discovered in 1939 by Swedish archaeologist Folke Bergman, were said to be among China's top 10 archaeological discoveries. According to a Guangming Daily report from April 23, public interest in the tombs was first sparked when Bergman published a detailed introduction to the Xiaohe basin archaeology called the Archaeological Researches in Xinjiang in Stockholm in 1939.

However, when the tombs' landmark Xiaohe River dried up, the public essentially forgot about the tombs for several decades. It was not until more than 60 years later, on Dec. 11, 2000, that a Chinese member of the Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute entered the Lop Nor Desert with a global positioning satellite and found the Xiaohe Tombs once more. In March 2005, the comprehensive excavation successfully ended.

Bronze ornament found at Iran's Bardak Siah

A bronze eagle ornament symbolizing the Achaemenid dynasty and an ivory handle of a dagger have been discovered at the Darius Palace at Bardak Siah by a team of archaeologists working at the2500 -year-old site, the director of the team announced, MNA reported.

“It seems that the ornament was placed on the tip of an Achaemenid flagpole. Verdigris must be removed from the surface to determine its use during that era,” Ehsan Yaghmaii added.

Lost civilization. . .found! Found: Europe's oldest civilisation

Archaeologists have discovered Europe's oldest civilisation, a network of dozens of temples, 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

More than 150 gigantic monuments have been located beneath the fields and cities of modern-day Germany, Austria and Slovakia. They were built 7,000 years ago, between 4800BC and 4600BC. Their discovery, revealed today by The Independent, will revolutionise the study of prehistoric Europe, where an appetite for monumental architecture was thought to have developed later than in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

We're kind of suspicious of the dating here and the lack of any apparent scholarly publications on these things. Bears close watching.

Some items from Zahi Hawass's web site:
About the Neferhotep statue (you can read the cartouche on these pics)
-- Tutankhamun Facial Reconstruction
Lists the names of the teams' members (but mislabels one model)
-- Abydos Reveals Some of its Secrets
About the second mud-brick mortuary enclosure of king Hor-Aha

Mayan crypt reveals power of women (Subscription only)

Archaeologists have entered a long-sealed crypt in Guatemala to find an ancient murder scene. The tomb, in the ancient city of Waká, contains the remains of two women, one pregnant, arranged in a ritual tableau.

Researchers say the young, wealthy women were probably slaughtered as part of a power struggle between Mayan cities. And that, they say, sheds new light on the role of women in the Mayan culture 1,600 years ago.

"This tomb tells us that women were extremely powerful," says Dorie Reents-Budet, a Maya specialist who works for the Smithsonian Institution from North Carolina. "When there were political disagreements, women were killed."

Pre-Clovis update Dig may change beliefs on early peoples

These days, on the banks of the dry Middle Beaver Creek, Janice McLean gets excited about tiny rocks.

It was Friday afternoon, just after lunch, and volunteer archaeologists at this dig site had uncovered one of the largest finds of the weeklong dig: a stone about the size of a nickel.

. . .blah blah blah. . .

This year’s dig has taken on new importance based on radiocarbon dating results completed in February. The tests showed that mammoth and prehistoric camel bones found at the site dated back to 12,200 years ago.

The bones appear to have tool marks made by humans, who probably broke the bones apart to extract marrow for food or to make bone tools, said Steve Holen, curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum.

This site will likely have problems with the artifactual nature of the bones and whatever context exists between the dated material and the undoubted artifacts.

Did someone say. . .Mehr? Iranian, U.S. experts to excavate ancient academic city of Jondishapur

Experts of the Archaeological Research Center of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago plan to conduct some excavations at the ancient academic city of Jondishapur next year, the director of the center announced on Sunday.

“Since a major part of Jondishapur has been damaged by farming over the years, we intend to save the ancient site through this project,” Dr. Masud Azarnush added.

Life from 2,000-year-old seed in Israel

Israeli doctors and scientists have succeeded in germinating a date seed that is nearly 2,000 years old.

The seed, nicknamed Methuselah, was taken from an excavation at Masada, the cliff fortress where, in A.D. 73, 960 Jewish zealots died by their own hand rather than surrender to a Roman assault.

The point of growing the seed is to find out what was so exceptional about the original date palm of Judea, much praised in the Bible and the Koran for its shade, food, beauty and medicinal qualities, but long ago destroyed by the crusaders.

That seems really interesting. Shorter blurb from MSNBC here.

Roman mosaic 'worthy of Botticelli'

A SPECTACULAR Roman mosaic discovered in Libya has been hailed as one of the finest examples of the artform to have survived.

British scholars yesterday described the 2,000-year-old depiction of an exhausted gladiator as one of the finest examples of representational mosaic art they have seen — a masterpiece comparable in quality with the Alexander mosaic in Pompeii.

Mark Merrony, an archaeologist who specialises in Roman art, said: “What struck me was the realism of the depiction. It’s absolutely extraordinary.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Controversy! King Tut-a-Comin'
Old Black Eyes is back, and his new tour is generating ticket sales—and controversy.

King Tut has been kicking up dust ever since British archeologist Howard Carter discovered his treasure-filled, 3,000-year-old tomb in 1922. That notorious unearthing—it supposedly unleashed a curse that doomed several people around the dig—inspired Hollywood horror movies and spurred on the art deco craze. The boy king's first U.S. tour, which began in 1976, was epic pop: it launched the era of museum blockbuster shows, with unprecedented crowds craning to see the tomb's gold and jeweled artifacts, while the cash registers ca-chinged in the nearby souvenir stalls. When you're talking Tut, the line between scholarship and showmanship has always been pretty thin.

We think this is mostly a non-issue blown out of proportion in a search for conflict. From the article, it seems as if the only people upset at this is the Met in NYC which isn't getting it because they have rules that don't allow themj to charge extra for special exhibits. And, if David Silverman (himself a respected Egyptologist) can be believed, this exhibit will be more than just showing off all the gold and shiny doo-dads; it also contains objects from other tombs and, so Silverman says, puts Tutankhamun's reign in some context. About anything anyone remembers from the last Tut Tour is the gold mask, which won't even be here for this one.

The LACMA ticket sales are described as "huge" so it appears that the high ticket prices may not be affecting sales. Still, this probably needs to be watched as time passes at each stop.

And we couldn't leave without relaying this important story: Giant balls of 'snot'
explain ocean mystery

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sorry about the delay. Busy dat crunching numbers all over the place.

N.C. bill would check criminal backgrounds before archaeology

Excavators who search North Carolina's waters and substrates for historical artifacts should be checked for criminal backgrounds to make sure they aren't likely to pilfer relics, the state's chief said Thursday.

His requests earned the support of a Senate judiciary committee, which unanimously approved a bill allowing state archaeologist Stephen Claggett to demand criminal background checks before issuing a permit to anyone who wants to dig or dive for artifacts.

The state Department of Cultural Resources is now only able to judge whether an archaeologist is professionally qualified, not whether he's a crook, Claggett said.

More stiffs More graves discovered on U.Va. land

More than a decade after the discovery of a 19th-century cemetery on U.Va.-owned land, archaeologists have found two more graves and more artifacts that likely belonged to free blacks, the university announced yesterday.

"This is a significant archaeological site in my opinion," said Benjamin Ford, an archaeologist with Rivanna Archaeological Services, which is exploring the site for the University of Virginia. "We want to know where all the graves are and identify their locations."

And still MORE Workers find skeletal remains

Some Colonie town workers dug up more than just dirt on the job.

The town historian said that while digging for a waterline on Route 32 near the Menands border, workers found human skeletal remains.

Archaeologists were brought in to take a closer look. It was determined that the location near Schuyler Flatts is a burial site dating back several hundred years.

This isn't the first time remains have been found in that area. It also happened back in 1998.

As of right now, the sewer project is on hold.

That's the whole thing. Try clicking the video link for the actual video of the story, but no more info is in it.

And now. . . .the weekly news from the EEF

So much for a glorious immortality. . . . Press report: "Grime in Egyptian jar is the remains of long-dead priest"
"For the past 36 years, an Egyptian jar has stood in the collection of the Royal Pump Room Museum, in Harrogate (...). Experts at York University, led by Dr Stephen Buckley, have established the residue in the canopic jar is cholesterol from human remains. (...) The hieroglyphs mention a priest called Djediufankh. The testing also confirmed the Egyptians had sterilised the body and entrails using alcohol as an antiseptic. And for the first time, science has been able to show that the alcohol used was date palm wine, confirming descriptions given by classical authors such as the ancient Greek historian Herodotus."

Press report: "Stolen relics to return"
"Switzerland has recently become party to an international agreement on the prevention of antiquity smuggling. (..) Hawass explains that in the course of the next few weeks the Egyptian government is due to take measures to retrieve Egyptian antiquities that had been smuggled to Switzerland in the past."

Press report: "Lifting the lid on ancient Egypt"
"Fuyuki Matsumura, curator of the Nagoya City Museum, (..) explained that by keeping a stock of standardized sculptures of body parts handy, Egyptian artisans could create statuary on demand. If they were carving on a massive scale, they could use
grids to project the idealized shapes of the small models onto their monumental finished products."
[Eds. This makes sense. A lot (most?) of their art work was fairly uniform and in a sense utilitarian. So it seems reasonable that much of the production would be standardized.]

Online version of: Shin Maekawa (ed.), Oxygen-Free Museum Cases, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, CA, 1998. xii, 71 pp. - pdf-file: 1.7 MB
"... the Getty Conservation Institute has been involved in projects that deal with oxygen-free environments as a means of preventing the deterioration of sensitive organic materials. The royal mummies of Egypt, the original documents of the Constitution of India, and the Royal Proclamation Charter for Hudson's Bay Company, Toronto, are the most notable examples of cultural objects conserved in this way ... This book covers the results of that research and its applications presented by several of the principal participants in the project." Some chapters deal with the
conservation of AE mummies.

Online version of: Stuart Tyson Smith, Uncovering an Extraordinary World.
Archaeologists in Sudan excavate with laser precision, in: Point of Beginning, November, 2003, pp. 22-25
pdf-file (2 MB):
"As lead archaeologist for an expedition to excavate this site, I had the rare opportunity to make some exciting discoveries and just as importantly demonstrate the power of today's most advanced laser and infrared surveying devices in some of the most challenging conditions. The ruggedness and efficiency of these tools has changed the way I and my team do our jobs - offering new capabilities that allow us to work smarter, more accurately and with less disturbance to the site."

Online version of: William R. Thompson, Trade Pulsations, Collapse, and Reorientation in the Ancient World, Paper prepared for the annual meeting of American Schools of Oriental Research, Denver, Colorado, November, 2001. - 44 pp., pdf-file: 190 KB
"This analysis focuses on two hypothesized patterns of the longer stripe - one is about millennium-long movements toward and away from center concentration and center deconcentration while the other addresses the implications of slightly shorter, periodic crises in the ancient world ... As usual, the problem reduces to the typical social science problem: how well do the hypothesized patterns seem to fit the observed data?"

Olga Kosheleva, Vladik Kreinovich, Egyptian Fractions Revisited, Technical Report UTEP-CS-05-01, January 2005 [University of Texas at El Paso, Department of Computer Science] - 6 pp., pdf-file: 115 KB
"It is well known that the ancient Egyptians represented each fraction as a sum of unit fractions - i.e., fractions with unit numerators; this is how they, e.g., divided loaves of bread. What is not clear is why they used this representation. In this paper, we propose a new explanation: crudely speaking, that the main idea behind the Egyptian fractions provides an optimal way of dividing the loaves. We also analyze the related properties of fractions."

Press report: "Matthew Kelly to star as strongman for Egypt adventure series"
"Matthew Kelly is to star as Italian circus strongman and explorer The Great Belzoni in a new drama-documentary series about Egypt for BBC1 this autumn." [Eds. We mostly can't stand docudramas.]

End of EEF news