Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Polynesian Express via malaria? The Race against malaria

NEW ZEALAND researchers excavating a 3,000-year-old cemetery at Teouma in Vanuatu say it may offer clues to why ancient voyagers who sailed through Melanesia – creating the Polynesian race – travelled so fast.
One possibility was that they were trying to outrun the worst form of malaria - not realising they were carrying the parasite in their bloodstreams to their new homes along the way, says New Zealand paleo-pathologist Hallie Buckley of Otago University.
Early analysis of the first of the skeletons found late last year has shown the people had a heavy burden of disease-causing organisms, in particular, parasites that cause malaria.
Polynesia – bounded by Hawaii in the north, Rapanui or Easter Island in the east and New Zealand in the south - is malaria-free.

'Archaeology more than just dead things'

Archaeology is not about old dead things, it is about life.

This was the message yesterday from president of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA) Dr Jay Haviser.

Haviser was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 21st Congress of IACA at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine and he told archaeologists and guests present that it was about the life of the people, the life of the community and the life of a country.

We're a bit bemused as to what the ultimate end point the current vogue of making archaeology 'relevant' will be. On the one hand, it will probably be a great way to get lay-people involved and interested. On the other hand. . . it will probably be a great way to get lay-people involved and interested and ready to demand that only certain results and types of analyses get done. Much argument has taken place, especially in post-processual circles, about how the past is manufactured by analysts. In part, this is certainly true; on the other hand, that also entirely dismisses any possibility of empirical verification. Academics can certainly be intransigent when it comes to discarding their theories, but when larger societal interests and politics are involved (witness the controversy over cannibalism in the southwest), all bets are off. It's one thing to have to give up your ideas about the timing of agriculture in the southeast, but another to have your cultural mythology blow up in your face.

And along those lines. . . Archaeology project event set in Maine

Dr. Emerson "Tad" Baker will introduce the Humphrey Chadbourne Archaeology Project to volunteers and local history enthusiasts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2 at the Counting House Museum.

The presentation is free and everyone is invited.

Artifacts dating from the circa 1650-90 Chadbourne homestead in South Berwick will be on display. The Counting House is located at Route 4 (Main Street) and Liberty Street.

Not archaeology, but cool Large area of silicified woods discovered in NW China

Archaeologists have discovered silicified woods in northwest China, which experts say date back to about 180 million years ago.

The discovery is of great value for the scientific research on geology, geomorphology and paleobiofossil in the area, archaeologists said.

The woodstones, also called paleobio fossils, are regarded as natural relics that can not be regenerated, archaeologists said, adding that they are important tangible evidence for the study of geography, climate, earth evolution and environment.

This is not a particularly earth shattering discovery, but it caught our eyes because it used the term 'silicified' rather than 'petrified'. Both terms are appropriate, but the latter is far more generalized.

News from Mehr Archaeologists announce new discoveries at Soltanieh

The director of the archaeological team working at the Soltanieh Dome said on Tuesday that the team has made important finds during the ongoing process of demarcating the borders of the monument, which has just been registered on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List.

The team unearthed a number of artifacts, such as clay earrings, Ilkhanid era coins, and tile fragments, as well ruins of an architectural structure, Mehrdad Asgarian added.

The architectural ruins include a green stone wall and part of a stone column from a caravansary located near the old Soltanieh bazaar, which resemble the walls of the town’s citadel.


American history and archaeology converge in this film, which examines the economic, scientific and cultural impacts of a massive work relief program conducted across Kentucky during the Great Depression. The WPA archaeology program was much more than the jobs it created: it laid the foundation for today's understanding of Kentucky's diverse prehistoric American Indian cultures. Some of America's best and brightest young archaeologists supervised the WPA's projects, which gave badly needed employment to an army of workers.

This apparently only deals with Kentucky, but the WPA is responsible for a lot of the archaeology that occurred in the US earlier last century. It would be difficult to underestimate the impact of the WPA on the development of Americanist archaeology. For more:

Photo archives along with some historical data: WPA/TVA Archaeological Photographs at Tennessee.

CSI: Chevelon Pueblo

Stone-cold ashes, stone-cold case

Talk about a cold case. The ashes of 100 suspected arson fires in this river valley just east of Winslow cooled more than 600 years ago.

Archaeologists and fire investigators have sifted for clues through some of the burned buildings on the hills above Chevelon Creek, and last week they set new fires to simulate historical ones.

They want to know who set fire to 100 rooms of this 500-room pueblo and why they did so - answers valuable to the Arizona State Museum's 21-year effort to paint a picture of life in a 20-mile stretch of the Little Colorado River in the 13th and 14th centuries.