Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina post

No doubt some archaeology related stories will start to emerge after a few weeks, but in the meantime Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has posted several links to aid organizations to which one can contribute funds.
Scientists: Bison in Illinois earlier

The discovery of bison bones in Peoria County proves the animals were in Illinois about 1,700 years earlier than previously thought, according to scientists.

Radiocarbon dating confirmed a group of eight bison died at a site along the Illinois River around 265 B.C., said Alan Harn, an archaeologist with Dickson Mounds Museum. Until the dating tests, scientists did not have evidence of bison in Illinois before 1450.

"It's the first and only sample we've found like this in Illinois," Harn said.

3000-year-old Baby Skulls Found in Isfahan

Two skulls belonging to 3000 year old babies or probably even fetuses have been discovered in new excavations in one of Isfahan provincial archaeology sites.

While excavating Ashna Tepe (hill), part of Chadegan of Isfahan province, two skulls dating to some 3000 years ago were discovered in baskets similar to tree trunks. According to head of the Tepe excavations, Asadollah Mirza Aghajani, the delicate structure of the unique skulls is proof that they belong to babies or even fetuses.

The skulls were buried next to each other, which Mirza Aghajani believes, "shows that the babies have probably been twins." He adds that a final identification necessitates further anthropology studies.

Damn kids Stunning jewelry find

Two playful five-year-olds in Tromsø have made an archeological find that has stunned experts.

The pair of boys discovered jewelry over 1,000 years old while playing near their house. Associate Professor Inger Storli at Tromsø Museum called the find sensational and unique, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports.

"Our eyes popped, because none of us had seen anything like it before," Storli told NRK.

Even some stupid kids find cooler stuff than we ever have. . . .

Remote sensing update
Balloons help spot ancient sites

Archaeologists are to take to the skies above north Wales in hot air balloons in an attempt to spot long-lost ancient sites.

Balloonists preparing for the weekend's Llangollen Balloon Festival will take archaeologists up in their craft to allow them to take aerial photographs.

Many ancient sites can only be spotted from the air with slow-flying balloons ideal for landscape photography.

Egypt discovers ancient tomb

A joint Egyptian-US archaeological team has discovered a 5,000-year-old funerary complex in Upper Egypt, the Egyptian Gazette reported Wednesday.

The tomb was found in the Kom al-Ahmer region near Edfu, some 97 km south of the famous ancient city Luxor on the west bank of the Nile, Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, was quoted as saying.

Hmmmm. Article says it's 5k years old which would make it Old Kingdom, but it also refers to the tomb belonging to ruler of a Greek city in Egypt, which would make it much later (?). We'll have to check on the followup.

Remote sensing update II Fort Ancient Officials Find New Structure

Archaeologists said Monday they have something new to study at Fort Ancient State Memorial. A previously unknown circular structure about 200 feet in diameter was detected recently during preliminary work for an erosion-control project at the site of 2,000-year-old earthworks, state authorities said.

More study will be needed to determine whether the structure is an earthworks or the remains of a ditch that held a series of large posts or of some other kind of structure, state authorities said.

"The reaction is 'Wow!'" Jack Blosser, Fort Ancient's site manager, said of the new find. Blosser said the last major discovery at the site was the remains of several homes found during excavation for a museum and garden area built in 1998.

Antiquities Market update Official laments magnitude of illegal excavations in Mazandaran

Iranian archaeologists say that the historical sites in Iran’s northern province of Mazandaran are frequently plundered by smugglers, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency announced on Tuesday.

“The plundered items were decorative stones, bracelets, earrings, and headdresses that date back to 3500 years ago which were buried in cemeteries during the Iron Age,” the director of the Archaeology Center of the Mazandaran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department told CHN.

Earthenware items were also among the looted objects, which are often broken due to the crude excavation techniques of the smugglers, Ali Mahforuzi said.

Articles of 4,000-year-old Ha Long culture exhibited in Quang Ninh

More than 200 articles dating back 4,000 years and unearthed in archeological digs in the northern city of Ha Long are on display at Quang Ninh’s provincial museum.

Ceramic bowls from the so-called Ha Long culture were decorated with waves, S-figures, and mollusks. The articles displayed also include bracelets, necklaces, stone tools such as axes and hoes, and lead pieces used for fishing nets.

Scientific records and pictures documenting the excavations at 30 archaeological sites in Ha Long, such as in Van Don District and Hon Hai-Co Tien Mountain, are also included in the exhibition. A tomb with 30 skeletons and their belongings which were uncovered at Co Tien Cave last year are also introduced.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Couple of items this morning. Maybe more this afternoon.

They're all wrong! Most published research findings may be false

"There is increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims," says researcher John Ioannidis in an analysis in the open access international medical journal PLoS Medicine.

In his analysis, Ioannidis, of the University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, and Tufts University School of Medicine, United States, identifies the factors that he believes lead to research findings often being false.

One of these factors is that many research studies are small. "The smaller the studies conducted in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true," says Ioannidis.

Original paper here. Editorial here:

Hypotheses will inevitably change, as they depend not only on the study but also on the context of other relevant research and knowledge. Conclusions are also often based on current knowledge and assumptions, and, thus, subject to change. The data should be more robust; for instance, other researchers applying the same methods to study the same group of patients at the same time should be able to generate the same data. However, research progress depends on conclusions being tested elsewhere. The major issue about the truth of research findings would therefore seem to concern the conclusions, and Ioannidis's claim that most conclusions are false is probably correct. Is that a problem? Can it be avoided?

Some commentary. We are also involved in a certain amount of biomedical research and what is said is true: In most studies involving intervention or observational studies associating risk factors with outcomes, the ultimate conclusion almost invariably involves p-values. This really is as it should be, but what this paper points out is something most researchers already know, in part, implicitly: these are hypotheses and they are therefore tentative. And most biomed journal articles include (sometimes required) sections describing limitations. And, now that we've identified most of the major risk factors for diseases (though not always by additionally establishing a mechanistic cause-effect relationship), we're left with a lot of possible risk factors that are very, very small and in these cases sample size and other complicating factors assume a relatively large importance.

Sadly, the media do little to put most of this research in perspective. We're often treated to scary-important headlines of terrible new risks from some previously unknown pathogen or toxin that may double our risk of cancer! Of course, we're not often told that said risk went from .0001 to .0002. And risk is another subject altogether.

So maybe we shouldn't get too worked up about the fact that we still haven't quite figured out why lots of megafauna went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene.

Okay, well now we know why: Paleolithic McMansions Oldest homes were made of mammoth bone

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY archaeologists are joining Czech colleagues to study the world’s oldest-known houses, some of them built from mammoth bones, Norman Hammond writes. The houses lie beneath the vineyards of southern Moravia, along with early evidence of such craft activities as modelling in clay and weaving, all carried out around a central hearth.

20th century threatens a medieval Muslim jewel
Archaeologists fight to save lost city of gold from home builders

To hear historians tell it, this buried city three miles west of Cordoba was the Versailles of the Middle Ages, a collection of estates and palaces teeming with treasures that dazzled the most jaded traveler.

"Travelers from distant lands, men of all ranks and professions in life, following various religions, princes, ambassadors, merchants, pilgrims, theologians, and poets all agreed that they had never seen in the course of their travels anything that could be compared to it," wrote the 19th-century historian Stanley Lane-Poole in his book The Story of the Moors in Spain .

Archaeologists are more hesitant, saying that while many of those marvels may have existed, physical evidence has yet to be found.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Just a couple of items. Maybe more later.

Don't forget Lara Croft Archaeology awareness month aims to change public perceptions

Karen Poulson knows the word archaeology conjures up images of ancient Egypt, temples and Indiana Jones.

She's hoping to change that perception during September, Illinois Archaeology Awareness Month.

"Some of the most important discoveries about the past are here in Illinois. You really don't have to go to a foreign country or the Southwest or the seat of the birth of our nation to find exciting archaeological sites," said Poulson, who chairs the awareness month committee.

And along those lines. . . . 'Archaeology Days' teach Cahokian culture, science

The smell of wood-fire smoke filled the air at Cahokia Mounds as the sound of a stone ax chopping into a log mingled with the laughter of children throwing sticks at rolling stones.

For a moment, it was almost like stepping back in time more than a thousand years to experience what life was like for the Cahokia Indians, and visitors to the second Cahokia Mounds Archaeology Days had the chance on Saturday to experience some of the things the ancient people might have done during the hazy days of summer.

Memphis riverfront project will wait for archaeologists

A nearly 28-(m)-million-dollar riverfront project in Memphis might have to wait while a closer look is done at the city's riverboating past.
Workers expected to begin driving piles this fall for the Beale Street Landing project. But when cobblestones were pried up in a 1994 survey, a preservationist who helped conduct it says all kinds of refuse and artifacts were there -- most of them preserved because they were waterlogged.

Guy Weaver heads a cultural resources management firm. He says the site of the new project covers a potential treasure of information about the city's steamboat days.

Bison breakthrough

Rows and rows of dusty animal skulls adorn the walls of the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey, but one skull will make its television debut at 8 p.m. on the PBS show “History Detectives.”

OU archaeologist Leland Bement said this 5,000-year-old bison skull and a spearhead embedded in it represent the missing evolutionary link between two species and a wealth of information about an ancient people.

The show will focus on the effort to prove the authenticity of the skull, depicting a historical mystery solved by high-tech scientific sleuths.

This is kind of a nice show the few times we've seen it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Whoops Historic Spear Point Disappears During Archaeology Event

It's not a good way to start Archaeology Month in Indiana.
A spear point that might be more than 12,000 years old has turned up missing after being part of an "artifact road show" by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources last weekend during the state fair.

Heh Scientists acclaim rare discovery: a vertebrate board of directors.

News from the EEF

Press report: "Ancient Egypt gems on Italian isle"
"A priceless set of ancient jewellery, probably from Egypt, is
the latest archaeological jackpot experts have struck on this
southern Italian island [Pantelleria]. Excavations at the
16th-century BC settlement of Mursia, on the north-western
part of the isle, have uncovered a beautiful oriental style ring,
necklace and pair of ear-rings. (...) "The raw materials probably
came from Cyprus or Anatolia, but their style suggests they
were made in Egypt," Tusa explained. "This type of broad ring
was worn a great deal by women in the Second Intermediate
Period of Ancient Egypt (1700-1550 BC)"."
See also:

Press report: "Archaeological finds unearthed in Egypt"
"A joint Egyptian-German mission have found wooden artefact, coins
and old manuscripts in Minya governorate (...) The finds date back
to the Polemic and Roman ages."

* Press report: "Who's this Mummy?
"Most recently, the self-taught student of Egyptology [Dr. Rajiv Gupta] was
part of a team at MGH that used their experimental imaging machine to take
very detailed CT scans of a special patient - Djehutynakht, a 4,000 year old
mummy artifact of an Egyptian governor from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts."

* Press report: "Prof finds insight into Egyptians in dead language"
"Northern Arizona University history professor [Eu]gene Cruz-Uribe
studies a language no longer written, but the marks of which can
still be found in quarries, temples and tombs in Egypt. This cursive
language is Demotic."

Press report: "Egyptian-Jordanian contacts to restore Pharaonic statue"
"The Egyptian Embassy in Amman had contacts with the Jordanian
authorities to bring back to Egypt a [smuggled] statue." No details.

Press report: "Zahi Hawass: A Hat is a Hat"
Interview with Zahi Hawass, mainly about old issues.

Press report: "The lost tomb of "the father of Egypt". The discovery
that has never been made."
After a terrible quantity of unequal articles concerning the supposed
Amenhotep I tomb, published in the Russian media, our newspaper
"Pravda" asked me to write a professional opinion about the "discovery".
[Eds. Good article. Read the whole thing.]

Online version of: S. A. Macko, M. H. Engel, V. Andrusevich, G. Lubec,
T. C. O' Connell, R. E. M. Hedges, Documenting the diet in ancient human
populations through stable isotope analysis of hair, Philosophical
Transactions: Biological Sciences, vol. 354, pp. 65-76 (1999) - pdf-file:
210 KB. [search for 'Macko']
"... In this study, we suggest that a commonly overlooked material, human
hair, may represent an ideal material to be used in addressing human diets
of ancient civilizations. Through the analysis of the amino-acid composition
of modern hair, as well as samples that were subjected to radiation (thus
simulating ageing of the hair) and hair from humans that is up to 5200 years
old, we have observed little in the way of chemical change ... For example,
the Copts of Egypt (1000 BP) and Chinchorro of Chile (5000 to 800 BP)
have diets of similar diversity to those observed in the modern group but
were isotopically influenced by local nutritional sources. In other ancient
hair (Egyptian Late Middle Kingdom mummies, ca. 4000 BP), we have
observed a much more uniform isotopic signature, indicating a more
constant diet ... It appears that analysis of the often-overlooked hair in
archaeological sites may represent a significant new approach for
understanding ancient human communities."

Also, check Andie's posts on a Roman mosaic found in the Sinai.

End of EEF news

Grave reveals medieval Caesareans

The medieval remains of a mother and daughter found in North Yorkshire shows signs of an attempted Caesarean operation, scientists have revealed.

The 900-year-old grave at Wharram Percy held the remains of a woman aged between 25 and 30 with a baby.

A study of the remains by English Heritage showed the woman died during her pregnancy and the foetus was cut free from the womb in a bid to save it.

This doesn't really seem a surprising thing to find, but we kind of wonder why we haven't heard of it before.

New understanding of human sacrifice in early Peru

...this newly published study by Richard Sutter and Rosa Cortez compares genetically influenced tooth cusp and root traits for the Moche sacrificial victims from a pyramid at the Moche capital with those of other North Coast populations. The findings of this archaeological comparison indicate that the sacrificial victims were not local Moche elite. Instead they were likely warriors captured from nearby valleys. When this result is considered in light of other archaeological and skeletal lines of evidence it suggests that the Moche populations in each valley were characterized by territorial conflict and competition with one another.

Iceland update #3 Secrets of Ancient Iceland, Dispatch 3: Seeing the context

Haymaking is just about over here in northern Iceland, and as the farmers haul their round bales out of the fields, the 13 crew members of the Skagafjordur Archaeological Settlement Survey have been moving in. My part of the crew took the turf off a 750-square-meter section of hayfield just below the Glaumbaer Folk Museum in mid-July, and began scraping away the dirt to reveal the collapsed walls of a 40-meter-long Viking Age house abandoned before 1104.

At the same time a small contingent including Penn State anthropologist Paul Durrenberger, one of the principal investigators of this National Science Foundation-funded project, began digging test pits in nearby farm mounds. Day after day, the Glaumbaer group moved dirt, looking first for the chalky white tephra left by the eruption of Mount Hekla in 1104, and then for any sign of peat ash or bone or the mottled earthy colors of a turf wall under the tephra. I worked mostly on my knees in the shallow, wide holes, using a dustpan and trowel.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sorry, no posting yesterday, we were. . .ahhhh. . .indisposed.

They were the salt of the earth Evidence of ancient salt production found

Large-scale salt production occurred during the first millennium before Christ in the earliest "workshops" yet uncovered in China, archaeologists reported on Monday.

In a latest joint study, researchers from China and US found multiple lines of evidence of salt production at Zhongba, an archeological site lying along the Yangzi River in Zhong Xian County, Chongqing, China.

Their paper is published on the on-line issue of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. The authors from the Harvard University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Science and Technology of China, are all internationally acknowledged archaeologists.

Under the Old Neighborhood: In Iraq, an Archaeologist's Paradise

If a neighborhood is defined as a place where human beings move in and never leave, then the world's oldest could be here at the Citadel, an ancient and teeming city within a city girded by stone walls.

Resting on a layer cake of civilizations that have come and gone for an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 years, the Citadel looms over the apartment blocks of this otherwise rather gray metropolis in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The settlement rivals Jericho and a handful of other famous towns for the title of the oldest continuously inhabited site in the world. The difference is that few people have heard of the Citadel outside Iraq. And political turmoil has prevented a full study of its archaeological treasures.

Blog post Hands-On Archaeology

Above ground in the southwestern corner of Colorado, we can see spectacular evidence of an ancient culture. The best known examples lie in Mesa Verde. There's also the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Lowry Pueblo and Chimney Rock. But just under the surface of the ground exist far more clues to the thriviing civilization of the ancestors of modern Pueblo tribes that inhabited the region around present-day Cortez.

More Bulgarian treasure? Bronze Age graves in Bulgaria yield gold pieces linked to Troy

As many as 15,000 small pieces of finely crafted gold have been discovered in a group of 4,500-year-old graves from central Bulgaria -- a trove of beads, earrings and other small artifacts that were buried with a chieftain or king sometime before the 23rd century B.C.

The find in the village of Dabene, about 75 miles east of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, dates from about the same period as the ancient city of Troy, and some researchers have suggested that gold workers from the region of the village may have produced much of the treasure found at Troy and other ancient localities, such as Mycenae in Greece.

Not sure if this is the same stuff that's been making the rounds earlier (last week).

News from Mehr Iron Age skeleton discovered at Bistun site

The team of archaeologists working at the Bistun site recently discovered a 3000-year-old skeleton, the head of the team announced on Tuesday.

Ali Sajjadi said that the archaeologists surmise that the skeleton dates back to Iron Age III.

“The skeleton was lying on its left side aligned toward the south, a burial custom only observed during Iron Age III. There were also two jars beneath the right and left feet, with three damaged brass pots next to the body,” he said, adding that the items interred with the corpse indicate that the people of that time believed in an afterlife.

5000-year-old Clay Collection Discovered in Halil Rud Basin

During the construction project for an irrigation structure in Rudbar of Kerman province, experts discovered some 40 objects dating to the third millennium BC.

The objects, which are made of clay, were found in a depth of 4.5 meters along a ravine in the area, explained director of the archaeology department of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) in Kerman province and head of the archaeology center of South East Iran, Nader Alidadi Soleymani.

Interesting, but kind of uninformative. They provide a picture of one of the objects:

but it's function is indeterminate. Incense burner? We thought burial box, but those don't usually have holes.

Moroccan archaeologists work on new site.

An archeological site which dates from the Phoenician era (6th century BC), has recently been discovered near Ksar Sghir, reported MAP.

The site which held four civilizations was discovered accidentally in the region of Dhar Sakfane during work on the motorway section in Tangier –Oued R'mel. An archeological team is at present carrying out an emergency excavation.

Ewww. Estonian Archaeologists Play Flute Recovered from 600-Year Old Loo

Estonian archaeologists have found an ancient flute in an outhouse dating 600 years back, the DELFI news portal reports. The chief researcher praised the finding and said that the ancient musical instrument was still playable.

The dig site where the flute was found is located in the town of Tartu near the border with Russia. Chief researcher Andres Tvauri has said that the flute was in “working condition” after staying in an outhouse for six centuries and added that to his awareness there was no equally old woodwind instrument in Estonia that could still be played.

Okay, apparently no one actually put their lips to it.

Iron Age pottery found at schoolbuilding site

THE SITE of a school's new sports block has yielded some of the secrets of Barking and Dagenham's earliest residents.

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of a late Bronze Age to early Iron Age (2400BC to 47AD) landscape, buried in the area where Dagenham Park Community's new sports building in School Road is to be built.

A number of archaeological deposits and features have been uncovered, and among the artefacts found were numerous pieces of well-preserved late Bronze Age and early Iron Age pottery, ceramic bars that may be from a nearby undiscovered pottery kiln, a clay tobacco pipe stem, as well as a small quantity of unworked flint, believed to be from prehistoric times.

That's the whole thing.

Back to China: Ancient site reveals stories of sacrificed horses

A trip to Zibo might leave you with the similar impression as to a trip to Xi'an, especially when you visit the relics of horses buried for sacrifice.

Zibo, in east China's Shandong Province, is the location of the state of Qi's capital in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). During this period, five feudal lords were able to gain control over the other states, with Duke Huan of Qi the head of the five.

The difference between the horse buried for sacrifice in Zibo and the terracotta warriors and horses in Xi'an of Shaanxi Province is that the horses in Zibo were live horses, killed especially for sacrifice.

Uh oh Hadrian's neglected mausoleum 'close to collapse'

One of ancient Rome's most popular and important landmarks is "close to collapse", covered in graffiti, with valuable frescos peeling away.

Castel Sant'Angelo, whose parlous state was revealed yesterday by Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's most authoritative newspapers, was built by the Emperor Hadrian as his own mausoleum on the banks of the Tiber. Its proximity to the Vatican persuaded popes in the Middle Ages to add ramparts and battlements to the marble structure and use it as a shelter when the city was under attack. A passage between the castle and the Vatican, once used by popes in time of crisis, still exists.

Oddest title of the month award Stone axes highlight 10,000 years of commuting in stockbroker belt

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered an important Stone Age site in the heart of Surrey.

An excavation has turned up flint tools and cooking pots from about 10,000 years ago at the site on the North Downs. The area, which bears the remains of cooked meals, campfires and flints shaped into tools by people who visited the North Downs around 8,000BC, is believed to contain one of the most important Mesolithic excavations in Britain.

Iceland archaeology update Secrets of Ancient Iceland, Dispatch 2: Connect the dots

If I knew what was in there, I wouldn't have to dig a hole."

My first day with a trowel and shovel, digging toward the Viking Age in a hayfield in northern Iceland, this offhand remark by John Steinberg became my motto.

Steinberg, from UCLA's Cotsen Institute, is hoping to make digging outdated for survey archaeology—and it looks like he might get his wish. He is working with Penn State anthropologist Paul Durrenberger to see the pattern in which this valley was settled; the settlement pattern will help them determine when and why Iceland was transformed from a collection of Viking chiefdoms into part of the kingdom of Norway sometime between 870 and 1262. But to find the pattern efficiently, they need a way to locate and measure all the Viking houses without digging lots of holes.

"There are two reasons for not digging holes," explains Durrenberger. "When you dig a hole, you destroy the site. And when you dig a hole it costs lots of money."

Bingo. It'll take tremendous leaps in technology to eventually be able to see everything in the ground as good as if you were digging a hole, but in the meantime we like the idea of doing as much as possible without excavation. Truthing like this is, however, necessary in the interim.

Dig finds remains of 2,000-year-old farm

GLOBAL positioning systems and digital aerial photographs are helping to uncover the 2,000-yearold secrets of Cambridgeshire's farmers.

The county's biggest archaeological dig is taking place at a 60-acre site and its findings are unearthing how the countryside developed over the course of two millennia.

On Monday, history enthusiasts, families and curious members of the public will be able to visit a display and tour the site at Love's Farm, near St Neots, which is soon to be developed for housing.

Researcher explores Spanish cave to find why early humans replaced Neanderthals in Europe

ASU researcher Ana Pinto is shedding some light on an age-old mystery in anthropology: What was the relationship between Neanderthals and early humans?

Pinto’s findings of the remains of a modern human culture stacked directly atop remnants of a Neanderthal dwelling in a Spanish cave are shedding light on the historical mystery and providing evidence for just how those species may have lived and interacted with their environment.

We posted a couple of stories about Dr. Pinto last year sometime, so there is not much new here, unless you didn't read the old one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Just a few items today. We were going to summarize a program on The Science Channel last night about the Cretaceous extinctions and relate it to the controversy surrounding the post-Pleistocene extinctions in North American and elsewhere, but we can't find any links to the program. It was billed as a single researcher supposedly tearing down the impact theory with some new discoveries, and in part it was. But it turned out to be pretty good, presenting both sides and a lot of additional information as well. So we'll just recommend that you catch it next time it's on. Called "What Killed the Dinosaurs" or something like that. A BBC production.

CATALHÖYÜK update (with video) CATALHÖYÜK First excavated in the 1960s by British archaeologist James Mellaart, the Turkish Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük was reopened by an international team led by Ian Hodder for an ambitious 25-year project beginning in 1993. One of the world's largest settlements 9000 years ago, this town housed 10,000 farmers at a time when most people on Earth were hunter-gatherers. The site is famous for its sculptures and wall paintings, residential mud-brick architecture, burials beneath house floors, bull heads plastered in house walls, and mother goddess figurines.

The Time Team makes another discovery

Time team discover a Bronze and Iron Age settlement

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working ahead of contractors building the Linslade/Stoke Hammond bypass have uncovered the remains of an ancient settlement overlooking the town.
The team of 10, led by Martin Lightfoot of Buckingham-based Network Archaeology Ltd, have been painstakingly excavating three sites along the route of the new road and evidence shows that people were living there during the late Bronze Age and into the Iron Age.
Among the artefacts prised from the clay, and Martin's favourite piece, is pottery clearly showing the fingerprints of whoever made it more than 3,000 years ago.

Update on the Dmanisi skull Georgians Claim to Unearth Ancient Skull

Archaeologists in the former Soviet republic of Georgia have unearthed a skull they say is 1.8 million years old — part of a find that holds the oldest traces of humankind's closest ancestors ever found in Europe.

The skull from an early member of the genus Homo was found Aug. 6 and unearthed Sunday in Dmanisi, an area about 60 miles southeast of the capital, Tbilisi, said David Lortkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum, who took part in the dig.

In total, five bones or fragments believed to be about the same age have been found in the area, including a jawbone discovered in 1991, Lortkipanidze said by telephone. The skull, however, was in the best condition of the five, and was sent to the museum for further study.

Archaeology in Iceland Secrets of Ancient Iceland: Dispatch 1: Digging into the Viking Age

"Science is at the junction between the expected and the real," Penn State anthropologist Paul Durrenberger told me. "The whole point of it is figuring out what's real and what's not."

I am standing in a hayfield in Iceland in a gale-force wind, one of six volunteers holding down a 100-meter measuring tape with our toes. Bundled in raincoats and stocking caps, we are feeling fortunate that at least the sun is shining. Tourists visiting the Glaumbaer Folk Museum, a collection of historic buildings up on the hill, stop and stare down at us.

"A lot of people asked me," said Sigridur Sigurdardottir, the museum curator, "'What are those crazy people doing out there in your hayfield?'"

That's a pretty common question.

Peruvian pyramids rival the pharaohs'

RUINS on Peru’s desert coast dated to some 4,700 years ago suggest an earlier focus of civilisation than any so far identified in the New World. The site of Caral, in the Supe Valley north of Lima, covers 66 hectares (165 acres) and includes pyramids 21m (70ft) high arranged around a large plaza.

“What really sets Caral apart is its age,” Roger Atwood reports in Archaeology. “Carbon dating has revealed that its pyramids are contemporary with those of Egypt and the ziggurats of Mesopotamia.” These are among the earliest monumental architecture in the Old World. Surveys and excavations in neighbouring valleys, Atwood says, suggest that Caral “stood at the centre of the first society in the Americas to build cities and engage in trade on a large scale”.

This is a short article summarizing the work at Caral and environs and, happily, makes no mention of the feud between Shady and Creamer/Haas. Nothing much new if you've followed that story.

Mexico digs up Aztec sacrificial stone

Mexican archeologists have dug past phone lines, electricity cables and a traffic light under chaotic city streets to excavate a large sculptured stone that was part of an Aztec sacrificial temple.

The Templo Mayor museum said on Friday the stone, dating from the 15th or 16th centuries and shaped like a round "biznaga" cactus, was discovered last October in the center of Mexico City.

It took 10 months to receive permission from a telephone company, a electricity utility, city hall and archeological authorities to dig under the road to reach the stone, which is 77cm high and 56cm in diameter.

The Aztecs, conquered by the Spanish in the early 16th century, would sacrifice victims, often prisoners of war, by cutting their hearts out to placate angry gods.

That's the whole thing.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Heh. How to Blog Good

Welcome, everybody, to the exciting new hi-tech world of internet-based blogging! Did you know that today, over 7 million Americans are writing their own blogs -- and nearly 1.2 million Americans are actually reading them? With mind-boggling numbers like that, no wonder you are thinking about "taking a high dive" into the red-hot blogosphere jacuzzi. But as a multi-month veteran of the "scene," I have too often witnessed the same tragic story -- a naive rookie sets up a blog, posts a few articles, gets stymied by the lack of site hits, and quits in frustration to spend more time with his family. When I developed Bloggonetrix™, I vowed that my system would help prevent another repeat of this senseless heartbreak.

Everyday, I hear the same frustrated questions -- "Dave, why isn't my blog attracting more anonymous strangers?" or "Dave, where is that twenty I loaned you last week?" My answer is always the same -- you didn't plan to fail, you failed to plan. In a rush to hop the gravy train to the blogosphere Klondike, many nascent bloggers forget to prepare properly. Without the proper toolkit, they end up being jolted from the gravy train, roll down a rocky embankment, and end up under a trestle -- cooking soup over a can of Sterno, while the other blog hoboes play mournful tunes on their harmonicas.

We up our hit count every now and then by trolling for archaeology stories involving PORN SEX PORN PORN PORN etc., and occasionally posting a titillating Artists' Conception, hopefully involving Keira Knightley.

Such as


You know, those are purely for illustrative purposes.
Just a couple of quickie items. More either later today or tomorrow:

Climate change marks dawn of man

Complex variation of the East African climate may have played a key role in the development of our human ancestors.

Scientists have identified extensive lake systems which formed and disappeared in East Africa between one and three million years ago.

The lakes could be evidence that global climate changes occured throughout this pivotal period in human evolution.

The findings, reported in the journal Science, suggest that humans evolved in response to a variable climate.

Past droughts geographically widespread in the West, according to tree-ring data

When it's dry, it's dry all over, according to a new analysis of more than 400 years of annual streamflow in the Upper Colorado and Salt and Verde river basins.

By using data from tree rings, University of Arizona researchers conclude that water supply for those western rivers fluctuated in synchrony during periods of severe drought. The study goes back almost 800 years in the Salt-Verde basin and covers waterways from the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The project's overall conclusion is that severe droughts and low-flow conditions in one basin are unlikely to be offset by abundant streamflow in the other basin.

Updates follow

Obituary corner Archaeologist sought Troy

Dr. Manfred Korfmann, a German archaeologist whose excavations revived research and debate about ancient Troy, the besieged Bronze Age city that Homer immortalized in "The Iliad,' died Aug. 11 at his home near Tuebingen, Germany. He was 63.

His death was reported by the University of Tuebingen, where he was a professor of pre-history and archaeology and the director of an international team that since 1988 has explored ruins in Turkey widely regarded as the site of Troy. He had been ill for several months, but the cause of death was not given.

State panel decision may stall civic center; review committee delays approval of excavation permit

The city of Santa Fe ran into a major stumbling block Friday with its plans to build a new civic center after a state review committee tabled a decision granting a permit to excavate human remains at the site.

Without the permit, work on the $54 million project will stall.

Tesuque Pueblo leaders, who are opposed to building the center — which replaces Sweeney Convention Center and would be built at the same location — say remains at the site belong to their ancestors and should not be disturbed.

Archaeopolitics continued Secrets Of The Stones

For those who hate Israel, one of the most dangerous things a Jew can do in Jerusalem is to start digging. Because the more you dig there, the worse it gets for those who would like to pretend that Israelis are alien colonists imposing their rule on the so-called indigenous people of the region.

That’s why an interest in archaeology has always been a key factor in the century-long struggle to recreate and then maintain Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.

You might think arguments claiming that the Jews were alien to the place are limited to the nonsensical propaganda that emanates from the less enlightened portions of the Islamic world. Claims from the Muslim Wakf which administers the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that the place has been a mosque since the days of Adam and Eve are, we hope, laughed off by those who read the mainstream press.

We have no real opinion on this, in case anyone's wondering.

Fight! Fight! (literally) Cal archaeologist's Greek stadium dig sows seeds of farmers' social change

One summer afternoon in 1980, as UC Berkeley Professor Stephen G. Miller sat with the window open in his office in Ancient Nemea in Greece, international relations took on new meaning for him.

"I heard what sounded like a screaming mosquito going past the back of my head," Miller said. "I jumped to the floor, and two more shots came. There was a long silence, and I was finally able to get hold of the police in the next village. They came and found two of the bullets lodged in the wall."

Miller, who retired this summer from his chair in UC's department of classics, went to Nemea in 1973 to learn about the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, which was built between 330 and 320 B.C. on the foundations of an even earlier temple.

Meat of the article: When Miller came, he hired these poor workers, and suddenly, instead of begging for work on a daily basis, they had regular jobs for four or five months each year.

"There were guys who were living in mud brick hovels who now have two- story modern houses with all the appliances and conveniences you could ask for, " he said. "A large part of that came from the resources they got working here at the excavation.

"The wealthy people resented it because I had usurped their labor force," Miller said.

This is a problem in Egypt, and probably every underdeveloped place we work. One has to be very careful in one's relationships with the locals and one always has to remember that while we can leave, they're still stuck there. You don't want to go in and start throwing money around, which can upset the local balance, but then one also doesn't want to look like a stingy imperialist either. Most of the archaeologists in Egypt at least stick to a general pay scale for different laborers and don't stray too far from the median. Sometimes it's difficult to go along with local social norms, and sometimes you have to take some sort of ethical stand, but it's very often a fine line.

Homo erectus update Georgians Claim to Unearth Ancient Skull

Archaeologists in the former Soviet republic of Georgia have unearthed a skull they say is 1.8 million years old _ part of a find that holds the oldest traces of humankind's closest ancestors ever found in Europe.

The skull from an early member of the genus Homo was found Aug. 6 and unearthed Sunday in Dmanisi, an area about 60 miles southeast of the capital, Tbilisi, said David Lortkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum, who took part in the dig.

In total, five bones or fragments believed to be about the same age have been found in the area, including a jawbone discovered in 1991, Lortkipanidze said by telephone. The skull, however, was in the best condition of the five, and was sent to the museum for further study.

Study uncovering Brownsville's history

In some places, people spend years trying to uncover a city's past.

But just the opposite happened in this border city when a graveyard dating back to 1848 and believed to be the city's first was covered with asphalt nearly four decades ago and then all but forgotten.

That is until Cameron County workers laboring last year on a multimillion-dollar renovation to restore a 1912 County Courthouse discovered human bones as they dug a utility trench for it.

This week, the director of archaeology from the Texas Historical Commission is expected to conclude a study to determine the number of graves in the area that's slated to be the courthouse parking lot.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Okay, we're back in business. Many items to post today (and from the last three days since we've been out of commission). First up: Katherine Griffis-Greenberg sent this around to the EEF lists this week:

I noted in passing an interesting article published yesterday in Reuters
noted that Australian scientists are studying crocodile blood as the next
big source of super-antibiotics which may be strong enough to combat human
infections and disease, such as HIV.

The article can be read here:

I can recall in the past knowing doctors who used to laugh at some of the
animal effluence remedies of the ancient Egyptians, such as the pEbers
remedies for open wound infections, burns, and eye infections such as
pterygium (a form of conjunctivitis of the eye) which used excrement or
effluences from crocodiles, belittling them as forms of "sympathetic magic."

John Nunn (1996) noted in his book on ancient Egyptian medicine, that forms
of reptilian fluids, such as blood, excrement, and fat, were used rather
extensively in ancient Egyptian medicine. However, he wryly noted in
discussing the various eye treatments which used crocodile
excrement/effluences, "It is difficult to discern any pharmacological basis
for this practice." (Nunn 1996: 149)

Perhaps today we CAN "discern a pharmacological basis" as to why the ancient
Egyptians thought these products were effective for treating infection and

However, as time goes by, one has to wonder if the ancient Egyptians surely
did not know some things better - medical facts that we today are just
beginning to discover.

This prompted a few responses that we won't bother going into, but it seems interesting from a medical perspective. We posted a story on ancient Egyptian lettuce (here ) that seemed to indicate some aphrodisiactic (not a word) effect. And it's true that some plants used by ancient and modern people do have therapeutic effects. On the other hand, one must be cautious since as we've seen even widely used herbals can be, upon actual blind testing, found to be ineffective (or at least no more effective than a placebo; see echinace for a recent example).

So, interesting.

Gold! Archaeologists discover ancient golden treasure

It's being compared to the treasure of the legendary city of Troy.
Bulgarian archaeologists say they have unearthed about 15-thousand tiny golden rings that date back to the end of the third millennium B-C.

More from the WaPo here.

And some from a political blog.

And even MORE from something called the Tomb Raider Chronicles. (Okay, nothing new at this one, but we coldn't help linking to it)

And the key to the vault Report: Ancient Key Found in Austria

Archeologists believe they have found a key dating back to the late Bronze Age in southern Austria, an Austrian news agency reported.

The 16 inch long bronze key was only the third of its kind to be found in Austria, archaeologist Maria Windhager-Konrad said according to the Austria Press Agency .

Experts were fascinated by the position of the 3,200-year-old key, which was surrounded by Bronze Age axes and other items, the report said.

"The items must have been placed like that on purpose," the report quoted archaeologist Bernhard Hebert as saying.

That's the whole thing.

Well, %#@)@)*^! Russian archaeologists discover ancient birch-barks with profanities

Archaeologists have discovered two profanity-inscribed ancient birch bark pieces in Veliky Novgorod in northwestern Russia, the local culture, cinema and tourism committee said.

The pieces of bark were found at an excavation site near the Novgorod Kremlin's fortress wall on Wednesday and Thursday.

Experts said they dated back to the first part of the 12th century, based on the occupation layer and other signs.

Archaeological dig seeks to find evidence of Indian agriculture

A dozen people attacking the ground with trowels and dustpans are looking for evidence that Maine's first inhabitants practiced agriculture on what today is the University of New England campus.

The French cartographer Samuel de Champlain left a historical account of an Indian village he encountered here in 1605. His journal includes detailed descriptions of American Indians growing squash, beans and other vegetables.

A husband-and-wife team of archaeologists overseeing the second excavation in six years hope to find a kernel of corn or a pumpkin seed to support Champlain's account.

We're not experts on NE archaeology, but it strikes us odd that agriculture should be unusual in the 16th century, but there it is.

And now. . . .the news from the EEF

Press report: "Artefact smugglers get life sentences"

"A Cairo court has sentenced three men, including a former senior civil
servant, to life imprisonment for taking part in a scam that smuggled
thousands of antiquities out of Egypt.(...) The accused were part of
a group that officials believe has stolen about 57,000 artifacts from
state warehouses and smuggled thousands of them abroad."
Other reports about this (fairly identical; the last one mentions names):
[Eds. Seems a bit extreme to us, but at least they got some punishment.]

Press report: "Queen Nefertiti returns to her old home"

"The priceless ancient bust of one of history's great beauties, Queen
Nefertiti of Egypt, returned to Berlin's Museum Island on Friday
[August 12] for the first time since World War 2. Overnight on
Friday, the world-famous bust returned to the Museum Island
complex in the east of the reunified capital ahead of the opening of
a special exhibition of Egyptian artefacts at the city's Old Museum on
Another press report about this, with a history of the bust:

Invisible Books is pleased to announce the online publication of
Hours One through Six of the Book Amduat. The complete text, in
English, Hieroglyphs and transliteration, with all illustrations reproduced
and explicated, is available withouth charge in PDF format:
"This is the first complete translation to appear in English in 100
years, the only version of the hieroglyphic text available online or
currently print."

Online version of: Elaine K. Gazda (ed.), Karanis: An Egyptian Town
in Roman Times Discoveries of the University of Michigan Expedition to
Egypt (1924-1935). University of Michigan, 1983. In HTML.
On-line version of the 1983 Kelsey Museum of Archaeology exhibition
catalogue of the same name by Elaine K. Gazda.
[Eds. Definitely check this one out.]

Oleg Pomogaev, "Egypt's Hidden Depths", in GPS World,
November 2002. Available online in HTML.
About Russian GPS mapping of the Giza archaeological zone.
"In 2700 BC, Egyptians accurately laid out and aligned the
perfectly square base of Giza's Great Pyramid. Last winter, a
Russian team returned to the birthplace of precision surveying
and unearthed startling evidence of a heretofore unknown
complex, by feeding elevation data from a kinematic GPS
survey into a mapping graphics software program."

Online version of: Mark S. Copley, Pamela J. Rose, Alan Clapham, David N.
Edwards, Mark C. Horton, Richard P. Evershed, Detection of palm fruit
lipids in archaeological pottery from Qasr Ibrim, Egyptian Nubia, in:
Proceedings: Biological Sciences, vol. 268, pp. 593-597 (March 22, 2001) - pdf-file: 180 KB

"... through the investigation of ceramic vessels (via gas chromatography,
gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and gas
chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry) saturated
carboxylic acids in the range C12 to C18 have been detected (with an
unusually high abundance of C12) from vessels from the Nubian site of Qasr
Ibrim. This is mirrored in the saturated fatty acid distributions detected
from the kernels of modern and ancient date palm (_Phoenix dactylifera_ L.)
and dom palm (_Hyphaena thebaicas_ (L.) Mart.). Mixing in some of the
vessels of the palm fruit with another lipid source is indicated through the
i13C values. These results provide the first direct evidence for the
exploitation of palm fruit in antiquity and the use of pottery vessels in
its processing."

End of EEF news

Megafauna extinctions update Investigating a Mega-Mystery

When, at least 12,000 years ago, human beings first crossed into North America from Siberia, the continent teemed with large animals. Today, of course, our only encounters with giant short-faced bears, enormous sloths and dozens of other such extinct species come in museums. On this much, archaeologists and paleontologists agree. The causes of this mass extinction, however, remain clouded by conflicting findings and holes in the archaeological record.

click for full image and caption
Fossil of Thylacoleo carnifex...

The mystery extends far beyond North America. Between about 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, near the end of the Pleistocene, much of the world's megafauna (usually defined as animals weighing at least 100 pounds) disappeared. At the same time, Homo sapiens was expanding from Africa into Eurasia, Australia and the Americas. The late Pleistocene also witnessed dramatic climate change, especially during the period of warming and deglaciation that followed the Last Glacial Maximum some 20,000 years ago.

We couldn't find the papers online yet, but will try to do so eventually. But in related news:

Lions and elephants on the Great Plains?

If a group of prominent ecologists have their way, lions and elephants could someday be roaming the Great Plains of North America.

The idea of transplanting African wildlife to this continent is being greeted with gasps and groans from other scientists and conservationists who recall previous efforts to relocate foreign species halfway around the world, often with disastrous results.

We predict this will never happen.

Although to be honest, if they ever get some mammoth DNA and successfully clone one, we're okay with letting a bunch of 'em roam the plains again.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Okay, so we decided to switch browsers from Firefox to Netscape because FF kept completely crashing Winblows -- completely and on a regular basis (which, you know, isn't really happening because Micro$oft keeps telling us XP is sooooo much better than any previous version that it hardly ever completely crashes anymore) -- but try as we might we just could not get NS configured to let whatever stupid cookie it needed to let us log in to

We swear it was easier to just freakin' log into a BBS on a Vax and post a message.

So anyway, we'll be back posting tomorrow (Friday).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Couldn't get this to post yesterday, so here is Tuesday's installment. More later.

The paradigm of blogging update Derek Lowe is Blogging About Science Blogging:

But with a few extra minutes to explain what we were trying to
do and why, they could appreciate what was going on. And they could see
that it wasn't easy, and that we often didn't know why things were
happening, and that we had to wait a long time between chances to run
around high-fiving each other. Considering how television and movies treat
science (which, to be fair, could be the only way to treat it for the
purposes of mass entertainment), knowing these things was a real step up.

So when I found out about blogging, I didn't hesitate very long before
jumping in. Here was a chance to do just the kind of thing I did when
talking to people one-on-one, but for as many visitors as cared to stop
by. It sounded like just what I'd been waiting for, and it still is.

That's another good reason for blogging by scientists: Communicating what
you do in somewhat simpler terms to non-colleagues. And with the amount of
time and space we can use, it's a far better medium in many ways than
either sound-bite television programs or even various print media. Plus
you have the possible interaction with readers who want to know more or
who have additional information to contribute.

uncover Roman graveyard in Austria

Archaeologists said Saturday they have unearthed a large
Roman-era burial ground in the western Austrian city of Wels that
contained at least 50 skeletons, numerous urns and coins.

The graveyard, believed to date to 2 or 3 B.C., was discovered about a
year ago during excavation to build an office complex and an underground
parking garage, said Renate Miglbauer, the archaeologist in charge of the

Book review Object

In Gold & Gilt, Pots & Pins, David A Hinton demonstrates how
even the most everyday items can communicate history, writes Jane Morris

. . .

Enthusiastic digging for ancient treasure is not a recent phenomenon. In
renaissance Rome it was almost a national obsession. The Farnese family
removed most of the fabulous sculptures from the 3rd-century AD Baths of
Caracalla, then largely intact, to decorate their palaces. In the 1700s,
the king and queen of Naples picked out the choicest finds from the new
excavations at Pompeii. What no one cared about was the stuff of every
day: the wine jars and tweezers, the broken cups and coins. It was the
one-off, eye-popping pieces of art that mattered, not the sum of hundreds
of bits of mundane detritus.

Modern archaeology has changed all that, along with the growing
realisation by museums and historians that most of us want to know how
people like us lived. Archaeologists researching pre-history have relied
on all kinds of domestic finds, not just the beautiful and rare, since Lt
Gen Pitt Rivers started sifting through the ancient rubbish pit on his
estate in the 1880s.

Sounds like an interesting book. Also, anything that advances the idea
that the only thing of interest to archaeology is really cool stuff made
for kings and emperors and stuff is probably a good thing. Seems aimed at
professionals rather than the lay readership though.

Conference kicks off on rain-soaked day

Familiar with working in every type of weather condition
imaginable, the abundant rainfall this morning proved no match for
hundreds of archaeologists who converged at Overlook Park in White Rock
for the annual Pecos Conference.

The weekend conference serves as an educational forum and exchange of
ideas and research findings among archaeologists and historians from a
plethora of academic specialties.


Dig reveals
more of isles' bloody history

NEW evidence of bloody clan battles at a medieval stronghold
in the Western Isles has been unearthed by archaeologists.

A team from Glasgow University has revealed a fortified settlement on Dun
Eistean, a sea stack on the north-east coast of Lewis, thought to have
been a refuge and spiritual home for the Clan Morrison 400 to 800 years

The discovery of musket balls, a lookout tower and a defensive wall around
the perimeter of the island points to battles with the Morrisons' fierce
rivals, including the Macaulays.

James Peterson murder update Three
suspects charged in death of archaeologist

Police in Brazil arrested a man and two teenagers Monday in
the killing of an American archaeology professor who used to teach in
Maine, saying the three were drunk and high on cocaine when one of them
shot James Petersen in an Amazon rain forest town.

Petersen was chairman of the University of Vermont's anthropology
department and professor from 1983 to 1997 at the University of Maine at
Farmington, where he founded the school's Archaeology Research Center. He
was shot to death while dining in a small restaurant Saturday with
colleagues, including a UMF friend working on the same

What a sad way to go. Shot to death by some drunk, high punks.

P.S - The Cango cave dwellers haven't missed so much in 80 000 years

The earliest inhabitants of the Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn
would have been surprised to learn that they were living 80 000 years
before modern man, and not a mere 10 000.

"I could have sworn we were much nearer civilisation than that," one of
their philosophers might have said, while sharpening his stone knife.

But 21st century archaeologists have just found implements in the entrance
area of the caves that pertain to the middle Stone Age. I can see the cave
philosopher once again disputing this.
"What do you mean 'middle'?

Heh. Cute.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Strange non-archaeological story Earth punctured by tiny cosmic missiles

The first was on the morning of October 22. Seismometers in Turkey and Bolivia recorded a violent event in Antarctica that packed the punch of several thousand tons of TNT. The disturbance then ripped through Earth on a route that ended with it exiting through the floor of the Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka just 26 seconds later - implying a speed of 900,000 mph.

The second event took place on November 24, when sensors in Australia and Bolivia picked up an explosion starting in the Pacific south of the Pitcairn Islands and travelling through Earth to appear in Antarctica 19 seconds later.

According to the scientists, both events are consistent with an impact with strangelets at cosmic speeds. In a report about to be submitted to the Seismological Society of America, the team of geologists and physicists concludes: "The only explanation for such events of which we are aware is passage through the earth of ton-sized strange-quark nuggets."

While we adore archaeology and think highly of it as an academic discipline, we just plain ain't got nothin' on this sort of thing.

Via Instapundit.

Back to archaeology:

Excavations reveal late Roman and early Byzantine workshops

Excavations from a Princeton University team that started on June 8, 2005, and were wrapped up a month later at the western coastal town of Polis Chrysochous, revealed use-levels of the second and first centuries BC, above which were late Roman and early Byzantine workshops. Right at the surface were sporadic traces of use in the twelfth century.

According to a Cyprus Department of Antiquities press release, the short season was limited to work in one area within the village in which years of excavation had revealed remains of the Archaic-Classical city of Marion overlaid by the late Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine city of Arsinoe.

Hmmmmmm. . . Ancient shards found in Persepolis sewage system

Archaeologists working at the Persepolis Complex recently discovered 100 shards in the ancient sewage system beneath Persepolis.

The director of the team said on Saturday that the earthenware fragments were discovered during sediment removal operations.

“The discovered items are similar to the earthenware presented by Achaemenid (Empire) delegates at Apadana Hall. They are yellow and bear no special patterns,” Alireza Asgari added.

Apparently, the real story here is not the sherds themselves, but the fact that archaeologists are going to attempt to make at least part of the ancient sewer system functional again to help drain water away that is undermining the structure. That is pretty neat in and of itself.

This seems like a good thing Building a Modern Partnership on Relics

Mexico and Egypt share a rare historical distinction: a superabundance of monumental pyramids and other relics of ancient civilizations. But although foreign experts have helped lead the exploration of Egypt's rich archeology for more than a century, specialists from Mexico have never been invited. Until now.

For the first time, a Mexican archeological team has been selected by Egypt's top antiquities authorities to work in the famous Upper Nile Valley.

The group was chosen to refurbish the so-called Tomb of Puimre, or TT39, one of the country's most important unrestored burial chambers.

We're not sure how comparable the two situations are but this paragraph seems to indicate they have similar problems:

"The tomb has problems similar to those of our pyramids and churches in that it was made with limestone," said Manuel Villarruel Vazquez, an architect whose specialty is structural restoration. "That rock is strong like glass but can break as easily, and several ceilings are cracked." He currently is restoring a Toltec pyramid that dates from AD 600 in Queretaro, about 100 miles north of Mexico City.

Oye. Bad news from Brazil UVM professor killed in Brazil

A University of Vermont anthropology professor on a research trip to Brazil was killed Saturday during a robbery in a rainforest town near the Amazon River, an American Embassy spokesman said Sunday.

James Petersen, 51, of Salisbury, Vt., died in the confrontation in a restaurant in the town of Iranduba, said the spokesman, John Wilcock. Iranduba, home to about 35,000 residents, is about 1,650 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.

Very sad. Our condolences go to family, friends, and colleagues.

The Tse-whit-zen saga continues Tribe sues state, demands reburial of its ancestors

In a class-action lawsuit, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe has accused the state of Washington of knowing and willful desecration of Indian graves, and demanded reburial of its ancestors.

The suit, filed yesterday in Thurston County Superior Court, demands the state allow reburial of 316 cedar boxes containing the remains of ancestors dug up during a state Department of Transportation construction project in Port Angeles. The site was home to the largest Indian village ever found in Washington.

The tribe also wants the state to return some 2,000 truckloads of material taken by state contractors to a nearby landfill, and screen a portion of that for human remains, as promised in an agreement under which the construction project proceeded.

We have a feeling that sifting all that junk will probably end up being decided in court as it will cost a good deal of money to screen 2000 truck loads of dirt.

Discoveries rewriting Missouri history

An archaeological dig that has helped rewrite the prehistory of Missouri is weeks away from completion.

Work at the Big Eddy Dig site started in 1997 after collectors reported finding hundreds of arrow and spear points over the last 30 years in an area near a bend of the Sac River, north of Stockton Lake.

Over the years, remains from every major period of human habitation have been discovered at the threatened site. The edge of the dig is about five feet from the river, and the dig site is expected to be washed away in the next year or two as large volumes of water are released from the lake to generate electricity.

Reading the past in Dorset artifacts and vintage pop cans

Their houses now lie in the path of a road that leads to a popular fishing spot.

But 4,000 years ago, Dorset Inuit lived at Qilulukan, named after the whales that still travel past.

This summer, a group of Inuit youth tried to learn about the people who used this site, located near Salmon Creek about two kilometres from the present-day community of Pond Inlet.

We recall our days doing CRM work out here in the West and the one phrase we absolutely hated to hear was "Look, it's a can dump." But, we expect can dumps to be a topic of someone's dissertation someday (if it isn't already) so we seek not to disparage the topic.

Lewis & Clark + remote sensing update Technology lets researchers map explorers' camp

Two hundred years after the explorers Lewis and Clark camped in present-day The Dalles on their way to the Pacific Ocean, advanced technology may let archaeologists pinpoint the exact spot where they pitched their tents.

Debate over the true location of the Corps of Discovery's encampment has centered primarily on three riverfront sites: the mouth of Fifteenmile Creek, the mouth of Mill Creek and the site of the present-day Rock Fort Park.

But now, a combination of satellite photography and ground-penetrating radar is pointing to Rock Fort Park.

There's tons of items out there, but this will do for now.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

New blog alert

Well, not new exactly, but new for us: Mark Morgan's Egyptology News Blog. Another link-oriented site should provide readers with more reports on things-Egyptological from the UK and environs. We've put the link over to the left for ready access.

Friday, August 12, 2005

No blogging yesterday as we were on 3 hours of sleep and had too many things to do. Busy today, too, so we'll just post a few items and get to the EEF news and some other commentary tomorrow. Big changes are being planned for ArchaeoBlog as well, with a probable change of venue and format.

Ruins of lonely Mesopotamian city still stand

Over 2 000 years ago this thriving Mesopotamian oasis city welcomed caravans of camels carrying travelers between East and West, twice held back Roman invaders, and was famous for its tolerance of different religions.

Now Hatra sits in ruins in a vast desert. Parts of its giant temples, columns and arches are still standing under the incessant sun but its city center is probably visited by more rabbits than people. Around it stands a nation still struggling to heal ancient grievances between feuding religious and ethnic groups, hoping to revisit high points in its history where the roots of civilization once sprouted.

Ancient find unearths history of French city

Remains from the neolithic era (about 5600 BC to 4000 BC) have been found in the southern French port city of Marseille, local archaeologists reported on Wednesday.

Excavations near the city's railway station unearthed flints, shells and fragments of pottery.

According to the regional daily newspaper La Provence it is the first time a neolithic site has been found in the city.

Archaeologists Seek Buried NYC Settlement

Archaeologists are digging with electronic fingers into the soil of Central Park to learn more about Seneca Village, a vanished 19th-century settlement of poor folks — blacks, Irish immigrants and others — that existed before the park landscapers arrived in the 1850s.

A team of scientists from Barnard College and City College of New York launched the two-day effort Wednesday, using ground-penetrating radar to probe selected areas of the site that once covered roughly two blocks and was home to as many as 260 people.

OOOOOooooo. . . . Fire Temple Discovered in Sabzevar

Archaeologists have discovered Sabzevar second fire temple which dates back to the Sassanid era.

Mir Mozaffar fire temple which is recently registered as a national Iranian heritage is the second fire temple discovered in Sabzevar after Azar Barzin.

When computer geekdom and archaeology collide Inca Accountancy Ties Archaeologists in Knots

Archaeologists believe that mysterious knotted strings used by the Incas may have been ledgers used by accountants to keep track of the ancient civilization's South American empire.

Known as khipu, the strange strings have long confounded academics. Until now, researchers have been unable to decipher the unusual codes of the khipu, which can consist of thousands of complex knotted patterns.

Hmmm. We were kind of expecting some Linux angle on this as it's found on Well, the Inca were probably Linux types rather than Win- or Mac-heads.

No reason, we just made that up.

Italian archeologists on trail of ancient warships

Italian archaeologists believe they are on the verge of finding the ancient ships downed in the battle of the Aegates Islands more than 2,000 years ago thanks to modern technology and a police tip-off.

"This project has an enormous historical value, but perhaps more important is the relevance for archaeology," Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily's chief of marine culture, told Reuters on Friday.

"What we find will help us understand how wars were waged at that time and how battleships were built."

China strives to cut damage to cultural heritage in water diversion projects

When modernization meets ancient relics, the balance of favors leans to the former in today's China, a country where problems such as poverty and shortages of energy seem more urgent than protecting cultural heritage.

But many insightful Chinese have begun to worry that if current trends persist there will be too little cultural heritage left to future generations.

The debate has attached itself to the on-going massive project of diverting water from the south to the north, which will affecta reservoir of precious Chinese cultural artifacts, as it courses through the hinterland of China's ancient civilization.

Archaeologist digs up the history of Nevada mines

If only Fallon resident Bill Davis' shoes could talk of the sod he's trod.

Davis, a certified archaeologist and world traveler, has turned his interest to historic Nevada mine sites in his third and latest publication, "Historic Site Studies: Spectral Mining Camps." His most recent work, released six years ago, explored historic sites in Churchill County.

The book is an exposé of his decade-long field research across the Silver State's aging mining sites. With layman's language and hand-drawn illustrations, Davis chronicles the few remaining artifacts left behind in once booming mining operations.

Skeletons to be examined

An archaeologist will examine the skeletal remains of up to 15 people found by construction workers in Vaughan, north of Toronto.

The discovery was made Wednesday after the crew dug down about two metres while widening the road. The remains are likely those of native Indians, said professor David Smith, a University of Toronto archaeologist who will not be examining the skeletons. At this point, the ossuary is most likely associated with a Huron group, he said.

If it is a native burial ground, community leaders will be notified and consulted on the proper course of action, Vaughan Mayor Michael Di Biase said.

Hurons are known to have lived in North York and Vaughan from 1400 to 1550.

That's the whole thing.

Polynesian Californians update Cal Poly, UC Berkeley Experts Link Polynesians and California Indian tribes

A Cal Poly professor has helped lead a discovery of archaeological and linguistic evidence that points to Polynesians landing in Southern California between 400 and 800 A.D. and sharing their boat-building skills with Chumash and Gabrielino Indians in the region.

Social sciences associate professor Terry Jones and UC Berkeley lecturer Kathryn Klar led the project.

Absolutely nothing new there, so no real reason to click. There's a link at the bottom to the older, more detailed story though.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Atlantis found. . . . .again Study: Atlantis Sinking Has Scientific Basis

Plato's account of how the fabled city of Atlantis sank below the surface of the ocean does have scientific grounding, according to a seafloor survey of an island west of the Straits of Gibraltar.

Marc-André Gutscher of the University of Western Brittany in Plouzané, France, performed a detailed mapping of the seafloor on Spartel Island, already proposed as a candidate for the origin of the Atlantis legend in 2001 by French geologist Jacques Collina-Girard.

Lying 60 meters beneath the surface in the Gulf of Cadiz, the island is right "in front of the Pillars of Hercules," or the Straits of Gibraltar, as stated by Plato.


Yet another acronym to remember Trees that tell stories

Harv Burman pulls a palm-sized, bumble bee-colored GPS device from his park ranger uniform, and his fingers dance across the keypad. He records a few notes about a stately ponderosa pine, the trunk missing a long, wide patch of its scaly, yellow bark.

The information ends up in an office computer at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, where the Global Positioning System has recorded the location of the specimen.

It's not the old-growth pine that attracts the seasonal ranger, but the scarring, a definitive shape that makes him believe it was created by human hands, possibly hundreds of years ago.

It's arguing that perhaps entire landscapes should be preserved much as buildings and other sites are.

Medieval cliff cemetery unearthed

A medieval cemetery, along with remains of some of those buried there, have been unearthed near cliffs in Pembrokeshire.

Archaeologists are now speculating the site at West Angle Bay may house an even older burial ground and possibly the remains of an ancient chapel.

They believe the cemetery dates back to around 900 to 1000 AD but are waiting for the results of carbon dating tests.

DNA traces evolution of extinct sabertooths and the American cheetah-like cat

By performing sequence analysis of ancient DNA, a team of researchers has obtained data that help clarify our view of the evolutionary relationships shared by the large predatory cats that once roamed the prehistoric New World.

The work is reported in the August 9 issue of Current Biology by Ross Barnett of the University of Oxford and a team of researchers from Britain, Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Australia.

Toward the end of the last Ice Age, around 13,000 years ago, North and South America were home to a variety of large cats such as the sabertooths (Smilodon and Homotherium) and other now-extinct species known as the American lion-like cat (Panthera atrox) and cheetah-like cat (Miracinonyx trumani). Of these big cats, only the puma (Puma concolor) and jaguar (Panthera onca) survive in the Americas today.

Update: More stuff

Another mammoth find Mammoth find may be biggest ever

The remains of a mammoth have been located north of Yakima by the town of Selah. While mammoth parts have been found before, it's been nothing like this. It is more than a yard long. On a human, it would be the equivalent of the right upper arm bone. Only this bone belongs to a mammoth.

“We actually have another bone here, mammoth size, and another bone here. And they’re all about the same level,” said field assistant Jake Shapley.

Remote sensing update Archaeologists seek buried clues to 19th century settlement

Archaeologists dug with electronic fingers into the soil of Central Park on Wednesday to learn more about Seneca Village, a vanished 19th century settlement of poor folks _ blacks, Irish immigrants and who knows who else _ that existed before the park landscapers arrived in the 1850s.

A team of scientists from Barnard and City College of New York launched the two-day effort using ground-penetrating radar to probe selected areas of the site that once covered roughly two blocks and was home to as many as 260 people.

More politics and media bias Apparently, the NY Times article on the so-called Palace of David is getting more attention.

Finally, Andie links to a story in the Guardian about preserving documentation on nuclear waste. Seems they are using a papyrus-like paper (no acid, very stable) in "copper impregnated bags" (= poisonous to bacteria) in dry storage boxes to ensure the documents are legible for some time. This is similar to the problem some people in the US were working on some time ago regarding warning signs over nuclear waste dumps. How to make some form of monument that will not only last for thousands of years, but also be readable. Don't know if they've figured that one out yet.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Big non-archaeological day in history

Ten years ago today, Netscape went public. Rumor hath it that Jim Clark needed money to buy a boat, so he took the company public. One can, arguably, say that this date in 1995 started the tech bubble that eventually burst in early 2000, and made the Internet -- together with blogs in general, and ArchaeoBlog in particular -- as more than academic tool, possible. Before that, the Internet was mostly restricted to the geek set at universities, where we (yeah, yeah, we're included in that) mostly used it for playing some form of semi-graphical D&D, Leather Goddesses of Phobos (heh), or other semi-naughty and/or incredibly nerdy games, not to mention chatting on BBSs and IRC.

Netscape and their browser made the Web accessible to nearly everyone. No more text-based graphics and cryptic Unix commands to get online, just double-whack an icon and, bingo, you're out there. It really was the event that launched a thousand IPOs.

And in doing so, it put the cost of publishing at very nearly zero. No more printing, marketing, and selling of work; you could write stuff, plop it on a server somewhere, and everyone around the world with a browser could read it, and more importantly, comment on it either by email or within the browser. This has caused academia and the publishing community dependent on it in something of a bind. Yeah, you can place your writing out on the Web without cost and without a peer-review process (thought some would argue the Web community can act as a super-peer-review as we mentioned yesterday), and have it distributed to as many as wish to view it. That means an awful lot of crap gets out there. But it also means that an awful lot of non-crap gets out as well, and eventually what does make it out there has to stand on its merits. Sort of the ultimate in market-based discourse.

Needless to say, with a new medium there have been plenty of naysayers. All of a sudden, the biggest danger to our poor helpless children was the vast variety of porn out there for easy viewing (erhm, so we've heard anyway), and stalkers ready to prey on the unsuspecting youngsters. There have also been those who have lamented this supposedly impersonal form of communication in favor of good old person-to-person conversation. We're somewhat sympathetic to this latter sentiment, since we're familiar with how disconnected many in the Geek Set can be; one person we know of got so used to typing conversations at people that when he was having real conversations he would often unconsciously be tapping his fingers against his leg as he spoke.

So, we carry on with this experiment and see where it goes. And wish to hell we'd had enough disposable income in the late 1990s to play the stock market, darn it.

But you know, we defer to Ann Althouse on what this new form of communication means, because we can't really say it any better:

I understand -- really, I do -- how someone who doesn't feel moved to blog and doesn't enjoy reading blogs might feel dispirited by all the blogging. And I agree that face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication. I'd even go so far as to say that -- in its highest manifestations -- it's the best thing.

But blogging is just writing, and like other writing, it has aspects that are better than conversation:

It can reach beyond the people you know.

It can reach people in the future, including the people you know.

It can reveal things that cannot come up in ordinary conversation.

It can allow one person to contribute a larger share of the ideas than would be seemly in conversation.

It lets you leap over your immediate physical environment.

More archaeology later, after we've done some work on the history of geological fieldwork in the Fayum Depression.

Update: More news
Zooarchaeology 'Mammoth' find in Kansas

Highway workers in Wichita, Kan., have dug up what could be a prehistoric tusk from a woolly mammoth.

They were digging about 17 feet under an old highway Friday when they found what appears to be a huge tusk. A supervisor says they stopped digging with machinery immediately when they struck what appeared to be bone, and uncovered the rest by hand.

The highway department has called in archaeologists to help uncover the rest of the tusk and verify its age and origin.

The department says the site is being protected.

That's the whole thing.

Sometimes they're worth something Smugglers lead archaeologists to discovery of Iron Age site in Zanjan

Artifacts recently confiscated from smugglers by the Zanjan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department (ZCHTD) have led to the discovery of an Iron Age site near Anzar village in Iran’s Zanjan Province.

“Following the confiscation of the artifacts from smugglers near the village, they led us to an Iron Age site, including a cemetery and settlement,” ZCHTD archaeologist Abolfazl Aali said on Sunday.

“One of the smugglers had unearthed 22 intact clay artifacts, a number of beads made of silica, and bronze and copper relics, such as daggers and bayonets, during his excavations in the cemetery,” he added.

Chatty Egyptians Egyptologist Discovers Ancient Gossip

Ancient Egyptians gossiped about a bald queen, royals who had affairs, missing bodies, homosexuality, harem intrigue and more, according to a noted Egyptologist.

Lisa Schwappach-Shirriff, curator of California's Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, which houses North America's largest collection of Egyptian artifacts, recently found evidence for tabloid-like gossip in the museum's eclectic archives and elsewhere. The findings suggest humans always have enjoyed chatting about personal or sensational information concerning others.

They also reveal what officials communicated through their official artwork and hieroglyphics.

Not sure what the picture of a stelae is supposed to be. It doesn't appear to contain any of this so-called gossip. So don't bother clicking on it.

Lost city Stupa. . .found Archaeologists discover Kesa Stupa

Buddhist relics dating back to the third century have been discovered recently during an excavation project by a group of archaeologists and historians from the Orissa Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies in Jajpur district of Orissa .

'Kesa Stupa', considered to be the earliest Stupa in the Buddhist texts and some evidences of Toshali Nagar, the headquarters of the Kalinga, were discovered during the excavation. It was carried out under the aegis of the State's culture department at Tarapur Hill in Orissa's Jajpur district, close to the Lalitgiri-Udayagiri and Ratnagiri Buddhist complex.

CSI: Craighall

A grave discovery as joiner digs up 300-year-old bones

A 300-YEAR-OLD murder mystery has been unearthed after an amateur archaeologist stumbled across human bones on a construction site.

The remains were discovered on the site of the new Queen Margaret University campus in Craighall, Musselburgh.

And it is now believed the bones are the remains of a female murder victim, as one of them appears to have been severed by a knife or another sharp instrument.

But although police were informed of the find, they are not launching an investigation because the remains have lain in the ground for almost 300 years.

Politics! Media bias! The Anchoress argues that the NY Times minimized the importance of Jerusalem in its reporting of the finding of David's Palace.

Also involves this story about the finding of the Pool of Siloam.

Child mummy update Biblical-Era Child Mummy Resurrected

The mummy of a little Egyptian girl who lived 2,000 years ago has undergone a high tech resurrection.

The resulting 3D interactive model of the mummy represents the world's most detailed mummy visualization.

A powerful Stanford University AXIOM Siemens scanner generated 60,000 ultrathin, multidimensional image slices of the child versus the 1,700 that were taken of King Tut by other researchers earlier this year.