Monday, July 25, 2005

Pottery update I Pioneer pottery - pieces of the past

Two archaeologists from Michigan are bringing to light a fascinating period of Salt Lake City's history.
Back then, the creations of pioneer craftsmen were so prized that residents paid more for them than for imported goods. Children hung around pottery shops, swapping information about clay deposits for marbles that the potter made. And the best way to store food was to preserve it in sealed ceramic crocks kept in ice houses.
"This is an amazing site, and we've worked really hard to get just to this point," said Timothy James Scarlett, assistant professor in the relatively new field of industrial archaeology. Based at Michigan Technical University in Houghton, he called the dig exciting, satisfying and provocative.

He's got a draft web site on his project as well. Not sure what 'industrial archaeology' is supposed to mean though; sounds like regular old historical archaeology to us.

Village will take visitors back to the Iron Age

In three or four years' time, when the bread is in the oven, the animals in the field, and the whitethorn hedges in bloom, the Iron Age village of Cinderbury should look really good, its creator says confidently.

Unfortunately the first Iron Age villagers arrive in a fortnight - and by then all the creators can say for certain is that the roof should certainly be on at least one house, and the oven may well be fit to bake bread in.

Heh: A few compromises have had to be made: the guests will subsist on daily food parcels rather than being given a live pig, a blunt knife and a sharpening stone.

We fear few moderns would really be able to cope for more than a week or so living a real existence of even a couple hundred years ago. Unless they had to. Or unless there was a chance to win a million bucks. Say, listen up all you TV execs in the audience: Survivor: Iron Age Europe. Or maybe Survivor: Late Woodland Eastern North America.

This could work. . . .

Pottery update II Archaeologists unearth oldest known Cham pottery furnaces

Archaeologists have discovered ancient pottery furnaces, the oldest ones discovered so far, of the ethnic Cham people in southernmost central Ninh Thuan province's Ham Thuan Bac district.

Oldest pottery vestiges unearthed at the 500 sq.m. excavation site date back to the turn of the 10th century, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Nucleus Technique Centre .

Treasure! Archaeologists Find Vault of Rich Thracian King in Southeast Bulgaria

A group of archaeologists of the National Historic Museum found a large vault, where a rich Thracian ruler had been buried, near the village of Zlatinitsa (southeastern Bulgaria, in the region of Yambol). The find dates back to 4th century BC, director of the museum, Professor Bozhidar Dimitrov said for FOCUS News Agency.

Much more here.

Duke husband-and-wife archaeologists renowned for decades of field studies

The excavators were turning up tesserae, small bits of colored tile, that told Eric and Carol Meyers a mosaic probably lay beneath.

The Duke archaeologists and a team were digging in a banquet hall of a Roman-style villa at Sepphoris, four miles from Nazareth and not far from the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It was July 2, 1987, a Friday afternoon.

Mexican Archeologists Find Rare Sacrifice

Archeologists digging through an Aztec temple say they've found a rare child sacrifice to the war god, a deity normally honored with the hearts or skulls of adult warriors.

The child found at Mexico City's Templo Mayor ruins was apparently killed sometime around 1450, in a sort of grim cornerstone ceremony intended to dedicate a new layer of building, according to archaeologist Ximena Chavez.

Priests propped the child - apparently already dead, since the sand around him showed no sign of movement - in a sitting position and workers packed earth around his body, which was then covered beneath a flight of stone temple steps.

These sorts of finds are proving invaluable, as the article suggests, in evaluating the veracity of the early Spanish chroniclers' descriptions of Aztec and other often gruesome practices.

Book review The Story of the Iraq Museum

We all know what happened, or think we know. When American troops entered Baghdad in April 2003, hordes of looters rushed into the Iraq Museum, repository of the world's greatest collection of Mesopotamian antiquities, and stripped the place while our GIs were busily pulling down Saddam statues for CNN.

The truth, wouldn't you know it, is a bit more elusive.

Not clear how much of this book is looking at the recent history of the museum.

Ancient stone phallus found in Germany

A stone phallus 28 000 years old has been discovered in a cave in Baden-Wuertemberg in southern Germany, according to archeologists with the University of Tubingen.

In assembling 14 stone fragments found last year in the Hohle Fels cave, archeologists rebuilt the phallus, which is 20cm long and 3cm wide.

We decline the opportunity to make any sort of off-color commentary on this story.

And we will definitely NOT be posting any of our famous Artist's Conception pictures of what the ancient phallus may have looked like.

But along those lines anyhow. . .
We couldn't let this little story go un-posted since it involves sports, sex, and archaeology. . .you know, three subjects that few, if any, reasonable people would ever think to associate with archaeology and/or archaeologists. (Although from what we've heard -- heard, mind you, and we leave open the question of whether that is a good or a bad thing -- many field projects make MTV's The Real World look like a summer camp for ugly teenagers in terms of hormone-driven OCD behavior):

Lid off Warne’s latest ‘sexploit’

There seems to be no end to Warne’s off-field “sexploits” with a woman accusing the star leg-spinner, on the eve of the ongoing first Ashes Test, of pleading with her to urge his wife Simone to join in threesome sex sessions in a bid to save his marriage.

[Eds. We roughly understood the first and last portions of that. You know, not being devotees of that whole "Cricket" business.]

Warne’s proposal came on June 21, just weeks after his wife and their three children had moved to Britain to be with him, a daily reported.

[Eds. Just wait, the archaeology tie-in is coming. . . .]

Rebecca Weedon, a 20-year-old archaeology student revealed that the Aussie cricketer coached her on how to get unwitting wife Simone to agree to the session by pretending to be an obsessed fan who stumbled across the couple in a bar.

[Eds. That usually works, yes. "Hey, honey, you can just see how earnest this young fan is. It would mean so much to the poor thing. . . ." ]

Weedon said Warne tried to convince her that he was doing it to save his 10-year-old marriage which was on the brink of collapse.

“But then he said they were giving it another try and thought a threesome might help,” she was quoted as saying.

[Eds. Threesomes are recommended by four out of five marriage counselors for clients whose marriages are on the brink of collapse.]

“He had scripted the whole lot, what he wanted me to say and do. He said he would take his wife for a drink and I was to come over pretending to be a starstruck fan.

“I didn’t say no. I don’t think I said anything, I was just so shocked.”

[Eds. That's exactly the sort of response we many men count on.]

But wait! There's more!

Warne's wife speaks up

Breaking her silence, the estranged wife of spin great Shane Warne has said she was shocked to know about the sexploits of her "stupid" husband and was forced to take the heartbreaking decision.

. . .

"I was in shock. I was numb. I said to him: 'How could you be so stupid?'"

It's those wily archaeologists. Even the young green ones have this mysterious effect on otherwise sensible people, whether it be to encourage them to risk their marriage and family life for a little bit of nookie, or by arguing that strict methodological formalism will create a set of theories easily tested by existing data without recourse to the formulation of new analytic units within the empirical strictures dictated by the new paradigm.

Pity the poor man. Undone by what appears to be a conniving post-processualist-to-be.