Friday, September 30, 2005

Gone fishin'

The ArchaeoBlog staff will be taking a break for a week while we go play in the great outdoors. Posts will resume on Oct. 10 or so. Please refrain from making any stupendous discoveries until then. Thank you for your support.
Breaking news Statues of Ancient Goddesses Discovered

The life-sized marble statues of two ancient Greek goddesses have emerged during excavations of a 5,000-year-old town on the island of Crete, archaeologists said Friday.

The works, representing the goddesses Athena and Hera, date to between the second and fourth centuries — during the period of Roman rule in Greece — and originally decorated the Roman theater in the town of Gortyn, archaeologist Anna Micheli from the Italian School of Archaeology told The Associated Press.

"They are in very good condition," she said, adding that the statue of Athena, goddess of wisdom, was complete, while Hera — long-suffering wife of Zeus, the philandering king of gods — was headless.

You should thank us for not making a joke there.
Katrina stuff Time, tumult and the science of survival

From the millennial perspective of archeology, episodes of collapse -- settlement abandonments, dramatic regional shifts in power and population, and even cataclysmic events--are a regular feature of humankind's global history.

. . .

Nevertheless, when we read headlines that question whether the recent catastrophe was natural or human-induced or witness the political blame game over bungled responses to Hurricane Katrina, we believe that it is also important to take a step back.

From a longer-term perspective, the disaster along the Gulf of Mexico is one that hauntingly reminds us of cases of past societal change and collapse. In such situations, the challenges of the environment repeatedly were not met and human decisions often exacerbated an initial ecological challenge. The results were disasters far worse than the initial damage or threat caused by nature.

When the Netherlands flooded in the 1960s they embarked on a massive flood control program. When New Orleans floods, we go into a tizzy and question our survival. Sheesh.
Homo hobbitus update New 'Hobbit' disease link claim

Scientists are to present new evidence that the tiny human species dubbed "The Hobbit" may not be what it seems.

The researchers say their findings strongly support an idea that the 1m- (3ft-) tall female skeleton from Indonesia is a diseased modern human.

Their claims have been aired in a BBC Horizon programme screened on Thursday.

Upshot: Professor Bob Martin, one of the team that is set to publish new evidence challenging the discovery team's original interpretation, says the Hobbit's brain is "worryingly" small and contradicts a fundamental law of biology.

"What this law says in simple terms is that if you halve body size, brain size is only reduced by 15%," he told the BBC's Horizon programme.

"So if you halve body size you don't halve brain size, the brain is reduced far less than that."

The main problem with the disease hypothesis is (as mentioned in the article) the finding of other similar individuals. OTOH, we don't think this story is done yet.
Experimental archaeology gone awry Ancient boat just won't float

Anthropology professor Gregory Possehl's boat currently rests 6,000 feet beneath the Arabian Sea.

After only hours on the water, the Magan III, a 40-foot boat made of reeds and bitumen -- a tar-like substance -- began sinking as heavy winds rocked the craft and water spilled over the sides.

"At 8:30, I heard the boat was in trouble, and at about 10 to nine I heard the boat had sunk," said Possehl, curator of the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology's Asian section.

We're still wary of these sorts of projects. They no doubt give some idea of the difficulties in creating things, but on the other hand, the ancient people had hundreds of years to develop techniques for building and operating things that we would have no way of accessing. We tend to think it probably provides a false sense of security over what we know about ancient technology.

Archaeologists hope to unearth the secrets of some of Scotland's earliest settlers during a week-long excavation in the north-east.

A Mesolithic site, dating as far back as 8,000BC, was uncovered on the outskirts of Kintore in October last year.

Murray Cook, who is leading the excavation, now plans to return to the site this weekend to try to piece together the history of the area.

Mr Cook, of Edinburgh-based AOC Archaeology, which recently opened an office in Aberdeen, said: "We are looking at the earliest settlement in Aberdeenshire, if not Scotland.
Mexico Indians fete disputed bones of Aztec emperor

Decked in glittering Aztec costumes with towering feather headdresses, Mexican Indians paid tribute on Monday to what they said were the bones of the last Aztec emperor, buried in a hilltop town nearly 500 years ago.

Nahua Indian men in gold, red and green warrior dress and women in "huipil" tunics danced with bells on their ankles and wafted incense over the disputed tomb of the emperor Cuauhtemoc to mark the anniversary of the day in 1949 when his remains were exhumed in the mountains of central Mexico.

A refusal by Mexican authorities to accept the bones as authentic, and local squabbling over who should guard them, marred the annual festivities around the blackened skeleton many indigenous Mexicans consider a sacred treasure.

AN archeological dig in Alcester has unearthed what are thought to be the remains of a Roman fort.

For many years archeologists and historians have thought that a Roman fort existed under part of modern Alcester. But it had not been possible to prove this theory until this week.

Since July, a team from Archaeological Investigations Ltd of Hereford has been digging in Bleachfield Street on the site of a proposed housing development. The excavation, funded by the developer, Laing Homes Limited Midlands, has been very productive.

Through a combination of shovel and resistivity survey, two (or possibly three) parallel, deep ditches have been located at the southern end of the site. These are likely to form part of the defences of a Roman fort and would have surrounded a rampart topped with a wooden palisade.
Lost city. . . .found! Long-Sought Maya City Found in Guatemala

No text for this because this is the site that got Windows' panties all in a knot. Actually, it's Firefox that's crashing, but it's bringing the whole thing down with it, so we blame Winblows for even allowing such a thing. If anyone can find a bug fix, please let us know.

More here.

And More here, too.
World Renowned Archaeologists Come to Burnt City

The ninth season of archaeological excavations and studies in the historical site of Burnt City in Sistan va Baluchistan will commence with participation of figures from all around the world, some of whom will be seeing the site for the first time ever.

Burnt City is one of the key historical sites of Iran. Located in the south eastern province of Sistan va Baluchistan, the city has had booming times in trade and culture some 5000 years ago, considered an important civilization. The first excavations there were carried out by Italians, followed later on by Iranian experts some 27 years ago.
Odysseus update Search 'locates' Homer's Ithaca

An amateur British archaeologist says he has located Ithaca, the homeland of Homer's legendary hero Odysseus.

Robert Bittlestone - backed by two experts - claims the rocky island depicted in The Odyssey is part of Greek tourist destination Cephalonia.

He used satellite imagery to match the area's landscape with descriptions in the poem about the return of the man behind the wooden horse of Troy.

Just a few new bits.
First Temple Seal Discovered in Arab Debris

Archaeologists have revealed they have found a Jewish seal from the period of the First Temple, according to Professor Gabi Barkay. The seal was discovered in debris which was taken from the Temple Mount six years ago and is the first time a Jewish artifact from the First Temple has been found, he added.

The seal, less than one centimeter long and made from burnt mud, bears ancient Hebrew writing and probably was used for official documents and letters, Prof. Barkay said. It is more than 2500 years old and provides a direct link with the era of King David.

Arab Moslems have authority over the Temple Mount site and have been systematically removing debris from the Temple Mount site for years despite protests from archaeologists who fear they will lose any opportunity to find remnants of the First Temple. Arabs also have waged a publicity campaign claiming that the Jewish Temples never existed on the mount.

We have no idea if this is incredibly controversial or not. And that's the wholt thing.

More here.
Coffins challenge official history

When construction workers inadvertently found two coffins in Huangpu District on Saturday, they opened several new questions about Shanghai's history.

Archaeologists say the finding suggests the district was part of the city's downtown during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Previously, archaeologists only considered the areas now known as Xujiahui and suburban Songjiang District as the core of Shanghai County during the Ming Dynasty.
In memorium 'He changed the lives of so many'

A glimpse into the life of a dynamic teacher, mentor and archaeologist during a memorial service for him Monday drew a picture of an inspiring scientist on a dogged quest to learn how and where some of the earliest people lived and thrived.

James B. Petersen's legacy will be his work uncovering ancient civilizations inhabited 8,000 years ago in the Amazon rain forest. He also broke ground by uncovering the existence of native cultures that lived in the Northeast 10,000 years ago.

Petersen, 51, was shot to death Aug. 13 during a robbery at a small restaurant in the town of Iranduba, Brazil, about 1,800 miles northwest of Rio de Janiero. He and a group of colleagues were dining together after a day of field work on their Central Amazon Project when the attack occurred.
Well, we had a nice post entered last night but Winblows decided to crash. AGAIN. This will be one of those things where future archaeologists will look back on this period in history and say "What were they thinking?" And we from beyond this world will be saying back "We know. That was the problem".

We may switch to posting every individual story link so we don't lose everything when this happens.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Breaking news! Archeologists make historic discovery

The tomb of Odysseus has been found, and the location of his legendary capital city of Ithaca discovered here on this large island across a one-mile channel from the bone-dry islet that modern maps call Ithaca.

This could be the most important archeological discovery of the last 40 years, a find that may eventually equal the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann’s 19th Century dig at Troy. But the quirky people and politics involved in this achievement have delayed by several years (heh. 10?) the process of reporting the find to the world.

Yet visitors to Kefalonia, an octopus-shaped island off the west coast of Greece, can see the evidence for themselves at virtually no cost.

Seems rather logical, but we'll have to see how it all pans out.

Monday, September 26, 2005

[Edit] Sorry about the formatting. M$ Notepad is abysmal when it comes to throwing in all sorts of markups.

Last week's news from the EEF:

Press report: "In the Wine Cellar: Egyptian winemaking methods
still very alive".
About AE winemaking, how the fermentation was done, why
amphoras had pointed bottoms, how the jars were labelled, etc.
[Eds. Nice article on many aspects of winemaking, especially functional considerations of large storage jars.]

Press report: "Sudan: Hungarian Archaeology Expedition in Nubia"
"A team of Hungarian archaeologists, headed by Egyptologist Gabor
Lassanyi, will conduct excavations in Sudanese Nubia. (...) Work
will be conducted close to the Merowe Hamadab dam."

Press report: "Alexandria's elegant showcase"
History and description of the Alexandria National Museum,"a beacon of culture".

Press report: "Was the mummy found on our shelf at schoola murder victim?"
A disarticulated mummy owned by the Uplands Community College,a.k.a. the Kittermaster Mummy, was tested by Manchester University.

Press report: "Dig Days: Treasures under the modern houses"
Dr Zahi Hawass tells about his past excavations at Giza, the Valley
of the Golden Mummies (Bahariya Oasis), and Saqqara.

Digitized book from Digital General Collection, University of Michigan
-- Irena Lexová, Ancient Egyptian Dances, Oriental Institute, Praha, 1935. 84 pp., 78 figs.;idno=AEN4525.0001.001

Online info-sheet of the Museum of Reading (PDF, 28 kB):
"The Lower Part of a Stela from Buhen, Southern Egypt, About 1800 BC"

Online version of: Herbert W. Fairman, An Introduction to the Study of
Ptolemaic Signs and their Values, in: BIFAO, vol. 43, pp. 51-138 (1945) - pdf-file: 7.7 MB
Classic paper on the Ptolemaic writing system.

Online version of: Helen Fenwick, Ancient roads and GPS survey: modelling
the Amarna Plain, in: Antiquity, vol. 78, pp. 880-885 (2004) - pdf-file:
"Remote mapping is painting in the context and filling the gaps of some of
the best known archaeological places. Here Helen Fenwick shows what can be
done to understand the 'blank' part of the great site at Tell el-Amarna
using a differential GPS."

End of EEF news

archaeology park grand opening will be Saturday

Hamilton County Parks and Recreation will unveil the second phase of artifact-laden Strawtown Koteewi

Park Saturday in the form of more than six miles.

Saturday marks the completion of two-year, $500,000 trails project. It now will pave the way to other developments at the park like a recreational lake, according to Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Assistant Superintendent Chris Stice.

Named after the Miami word for "prairie," the park spans 750 acres, and already archaeologists nationwide have pegged it one of the premiere archaeology sites in the country, Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Amanda Smith said at a demonstration earlier this year.

SETI archaeology? Tapping Archaeology to Seek the Cosmic Rosetta Stone

The images are vivid, capturing the essence of exploration. Archaeologists digging up the remains of long lost civilizations. Anthropologists encountering exotic cultures with strange languages.

But do archaeologists and anthropologists have anything to teach the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

(SETI), where encounters are at the distance of light-years, and a round-trip exchange could take millennia?

“Absolutely!” was the resounding response at a conference held last year of the American Anthropological Association.

Eh, we'll see. Sounds more like thinking you know something about how an engine works and then being presented

with a Formula 1 car and a wrench.

More on the Argentine mummy controversy In Argentina, plan to show mummified trio assailed

Their facial features are clear, and their muscles are firm. The blood remains frozen in their veins,

and the vivid clothes they wore the day they died remain intact.

The three Incan children -- believed to be victims of a mountaintop sacrifice about 500 years ago -- are among the best-preserved mummies ever found, and Argentine officials hope to display them this fall in a museum in this city.

But not everyone is looking forward to the public unveiling of human remains that look anything but ancient.

Members of an Argentine indigenous organization are trying to legally block the display, saying it dishonors their ''little brothers and sisters."

Not much new, really.


There is a star attraction at the International Conference of Experimental Archaeology which opened

today in Anguillara. It's a dug out canoe built 8,000 years ago by primitive people who had set up camp along the

shores of Lake Bracciano. 9.5 m long, according to initial studies, the canoe will enable us to understand the

naval construction techniques of this type of craft which, in those days, could also go out into the open sea.

Back to the Tara road controversy Where the relics meet the road: Ireland's highway dispute

A sacred hill, where ancient kings were once crowned and buried, is now at the center of a dispute

about the rush of modern life in this newly wealthy country.

In the valley below the famous Hill of Tara - ancient Ireland's ceremonial seat and the island's most important

prehistoric site - the government is planning to build a major highway to Dublin.

The highway has bitterly split the country, pitting the preservation of Ireland's Celtic past against its rapidly

changing present; the ancient capital against the modern one.

Artifacts found on Davids Island

Archaeologists digging on Davids Island have unearthed several small chips of quartz that were broken off by ancient American Indians fashioning tools or weapons on the island.

They do not yet know whether the small chips, called flakes, indicate a previously unknown hunting camp. They may have simply been moved at some point in soil taken from a hunting camp that was found not far away in the 1980s, when similar work was done, said Nancy Brighton, an archaeologist with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the project.

New finds show dates were staple of Achaemenid diet

Iranian archaeologists have recently found a great number of date stones in the ducts of the sewage system of Persepolis, which indicates that dates were an important part of the Achaemenid diet.

The archaeologists are currently involved in a project meant to identify the typical cuisine of the Achaemenid era.

“With sieves and water we separate the seeds of plants from the Achaemenid era, and then the seeds are studied for identification,” said Alireza Asgari, an archaeologist from the Parseh and Pasargadae Research Foundation, which is working on the project.

Hmmph. Iran to rebuild spectacular tent city at Persepolis

It was once the scene of a lavish celebration of Iranian monarchy and a symbol of loathing for the revolutionaries who swept the shah from power.

Now Iran's Islamic rulers are to reconstruct a spectacular tent city that hosted kings, sheikhs and sultans in a 1971 extravaganza billed as the greatest cultural gathering in history. The party was staged by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi beside the ancient ruins of Persepolis to pay homage to 2,500 years of the monarchy.

Project would recreate Roman monument

Historian John Nicols and physicist Robert Zimmerman have joined with architects James Tice and Virginia Cartwright to lead a group of scholars and students seeking to create a replica of the Horologium / Solarium of Augustus, a 60-foot granite obelisk erected at Heliopolis in the seventh century B.C. by Psammetichus II and brought to Rome by Augustus in 10 B.C. The obelisk was to be used as the "gnomon" (the staff against which the shadow is projected from the sun to the ground) of a new solar calendar and "clock."

"It was a momentous event in the history of time, for it marks the revolutionary shift in time-keeping from the lunar to a solar-based system we now use," said Nichols, who specializes in ancient history and the history of science.

Mystery! Missing Mars statue sparks hunt

Historians have appealed for help in solving the decades-old mystery of a missing one-tonne lead statue at a castle in north Wales.

Mars, the Roman God of war, used to guard the entrance of Chirk Castle but disappeared sometime after 1911.

He stood with counterpart, Hercules, for 50 years until they were separated.

Hercules was found in a nearby wood in 1983 and brought back to the castle by helicopter. Experts have now renewed the hunt for the 12ft tall Mars.

Geomagnetic survey!

That's it. Tons of stuff today, so little commentary. And no cheering at that.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Antiquities market update Smuggling probe finds Peruvian artifacts

More than 300 ancient Peruvian artifacts, including a 3,500-year-old clay pot and a burial shroud used by royalty, have been recovered in south Florida as part of a smuggling investigation, federal officials said Friday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents said the colorful painted pottery, tapestries, gold jewelry, masks and other items represented one of the largest seizures of pre-Columbian artifacts from Peru ever smuggled into the United States.

"These items are not souvenirs people can buy on the streets," said Anthony Mangione, assistant special agent in charge of ICE's office in Fort Lauderdale. "These are cultural items of a country with a rich heritage."

Yeesh. Talk about a haul. . . .

astle's old fountain uncovered

Experts used a 3D laser scanner to reveal the fountain's remains
The remains of an Elizabethan fountain have been uncovered by archaeological experts in Warwickshire.

A team from Poland used a 3D laser scanner to reveal the fountain in the gardens at Kenilworth Castle.

The 16th Century fountain was part of a garden created in 1575 by Robert Dudley for Queen Elizabeth I's visit.

John Watkins, of English Heritage, said using this kind of technology would help experts reconstruct the fountain. It should be finished by spring 2007.

He said it was the first time the laser scanner had been used in garden archaeology in the UK.

That's the whole thing. Not sure how this was done. Apparently laser scanned, but not what was scanned or why it wasn't seen before.

Dig unearths 1,500 year old 'Tarbat Man'

HUMAN remains have been discovered at Portmahomack - but police will not be called in as the skeleton is thought to be around 1,500 years old and likely to be that of a Pictish monk.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from the University of York who come to the Port each season to dig in the grounds of the Tarbat Old Church, one of the most important Pictish sites in Scotland.

They are excited by the find came in the last week of the archaeological dig and means that the team will return next year in the hope of finding more archaeology.

Hmmmmmm. . . Cleopatra Found Depicted in Drag

A relief image carved approximately 2,050 years ago on an ancient Egyptian stone slab shows Cleopatra dressed as a man, according to a recent analysis of the artifact.

The object is only one of three known to exist that represent Cleopatra as a male. The other two artifacts also are stelae that date to around the same time, 51 B.C., at the beginning of Cleopatra's reign.

Researchers theorize that the recently discovered 13.4 x 9.8-inch stela probably first was excavated in Tell Moqdam, an Egyptian city that the ancient Greeks called Leonton Polis, meaning "City of the Lions."

Not all that interesting for those familiar with Egyptology, as Hatshepsut (mentioned) also portrayed herself as a male in some representations.

Czech archaeologists excavate Ancient Greek town flattened by Bohemian Celts

For twelve years, Czech archaeologists have been helping their Bulgarian colleagues in the excavations of an Ancient Greek market town in central Bulgaria. The twelve years of work has yielded valuable results, including a hoard of coins, and discovered a surprising connection between the ancient town and the Czech Lands.

The river port of Pistiros was founded in the 5th century BC by a local Thracian ruler. From the excavations we know that wine from Greece was imported to the town in large amphoras. Other pottery was found in and around the remnants of houses and also a hoard of treasure was unearthed from one of the ruins. Professor Jan Bouzek was head of the team.

e-Science? e-Science records Roman finds

Twenty first century e-Science met the ancient Roman world in a Hampshire field this summer. For the first time, archaeologists excavating at the Silchester Roman site used e-Science techniques to record their finds. The techniques will be demonstrated at the e-Science All Hands meeting in Nottingham on 20-22 September.

The archaeologists are participating in a project to build a Virtual Research Environment (VRE) that will enable geographically-dispersed researchers with an interest in the work to collaborate through on-line links. The project is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

Silchester is one of the most important Roman sites in Britain. The town layout remains just as it was when the Romans abandoned it in the fifth century AD because nobody has built on it since. The excavations are of wide interest to Romanists throughout the UK and beyond.

This sort of thing has been going on for a while. The two problems here are using portable computers for field data collection and then making standard database designs available. The former still has a way to go, as the article mentions due to weather, sun, battery life, etc. It's difficult to imagine entering all one's field notes, drawings, etc. on todays PDAs. The other issue of common database design is also problematic, although it's used in CRM work on several levels. Academic research is probably still too disjointed theoretically for anyone to agree on exactly how data ought to be represented.

Nothing new here Farming threatens ancient Egyptian sites

Egyptian reliefs dating back thousands of years could disappear within a decade, archaeologists said on Thursday. As Egypt's population grows, agricultural land moves closer to ancient temples and funeral monuments. Water for irrigation is weakening temple foundations and eroding the carvings.
Tourists walk in Karnak temple in Luxor. (Photo KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

"We've seen it. We have photographic evidence of something we took a picture of 10 years ago and we go and take a picture of the reliefs now and they are simply not there," said Nigel Hetherington, an archaeological conservation manager.

"What's happened is that farming land now stretches out into the desert and into (the Nile's west bank at) Luxor, which was once considered the realm of the dead in the pharaonic period," he said.

Evolutionary Tools Help Unlock Origins of Ancient Languages

The key to understanding how languages evolved may lie in their structure, not their vocabularies, a new report suggests. Findings published today in the journal Science indicate that a linguistic technique that borrows some features from evolutionary biology tools can unlock secrets of languages more than 10,000 years old.

Because vocabularies change so quickly, using them to trace how languages evolve over time can only reach back about 8,000 to 10,000 years. To study tongues from the Pleistocene, the period between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago, Michael Dunn and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics developed a computer program that analyzes language based on how words relate to one another.

EEF news posted later, along with a few more tidbits.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Archaeologists who have a head for heights

A NEW archaeological survey of sea stacs off the Western Isles has uncovered evidence suggesting that the rocky outposts were inhabited from a much earlier period than previously thought, potentially revolutionising current thinking about who used the stacs and why.

Hundreds of sea stacs in varying shape and size protrude above the sea along coast of Lewis, in the Western Isles. Some stacs are joined to the mainland by a rocky promontory, while others are completely surrounded by water. If a fragment of land is wider than its height it is considered to be an island, but otherwise it is a stac.
Members of STAC prepare to abseil down the cliff face before climbing the stac.
Picture: Ian McHardy

Using the appropriately titled abbreviation STAC, members of the Severe Terrain Archaeological Campaign test their advanced climbing skills to conquer these sheer cliffs and access hitherto inaccessible sites. Established two years ago, the group uses information collected from oral history and old maps before visiting stacs that once showed signs of previous human habitation.

We saw something on this a while ago on some TV program. Then, it was only known that the stacks were inhabited fairly recently and primarily for defensive purposes. It seems like a neat study.

Tsunami update Indian ruins show signs of ancient tsunami

Archaeologists in southern India have discovered the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple that may have been destroyed centuries ago by a tsunami, an official said Wednesday.

The temple appears to have been built between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D. It was excavated this month just north of Mahabalipuram, a port town in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, by a team from the government Archaeological Survey of India, the team's chief Thyagarajan Satyamurthy said.

The region where the temple was found is in the same area affected by the Dec. 26 Asian tsunami. But the hardest hit areas of India were farther south near Nagappattinam.

More from The Guardian .

Fight! Fight! Archaeologist critical of development

Crescent Resources hasn't gone far enough in examining a cemetery at an area the company hopes will become a housing development, an expert archaeologist says.

Crescent, the land-development arm of Duke Energy, was told that graves on the site were most likely used for small animals. But experts argue that the company's methods wouldn't have turned up human remains.

Interesting about the use of GPR to locate possible graves. Of course, even small burial puts need not necessarily be animals, they could be bundle burials or the like. They should probably do a couple of test pits anyway, just to be sure. A couple in a likely spot or two probably wouldn't take more than a day.


Archaeologists excavating the site of a Pictish monastery in Easter Ross have unearthed an extremely well preserved cist burial, thought to be the grave of a 6th or 7th-century monk.

And the skeleton found at Tarbat, Portmahomack, has been taken away to the University of York archaeology department for further analysis.

Excavation director Cecily Spall yesterday explained that they were about to finish this season's investigation of the site when they made the exciting discovery close to the Tarbat Ness road.

Flint remains show Stone Age life

A Stone Age settlement uncovered in the North Downs is being hailed as an important archaeological find.

The site at Bletchingly, Surrey, is undisturbed and could show where people gathered in Mesolithic dwellings.

Archaeologist Becky Lambert said: "We are plotting the exact location of the flint, so we might even be able to see patterns of where people were sitting."

Flint is often found during ploughing - this undisturbed site may reveal hearths and where food was made.
We attempted to make a post last night, but Blogger bombed out. We'll put that up and more this evening. Thank you for your patience.

[Update] Well, never mind, it seems to have posted just fine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New head cheese Top archaeologist named to work with state historic preservation

David Lawrence Brown II has been named the state's top archaeologist, a post that will require him to review reports on proposed development projects across the state for their effect on archaeological or historic sites.

The position, which falls under the state Historic Preservation Division, has been vacant since Sara Collins resigned at the end of January. Brown will report to Melanie Chinen, division administrator.

Brown most recently has been employed as a senior archaeologist at the local office of Garcia and Associates, a natural and cultural resources consulting firm that has offices on the Mainland and in Kailua.

Israeli archaeologists unveil Byzantine mosaic, table

Israeli archaeologists on Monday unveiled a Byzantine mosaic that had been buried under sand dunes for 50 years, along with a newly discovered, highly rare table dating from the same era.

The so-called mosaic "carpet" measuring 16 meters (53 feet) by 14.5 meters, was uncovered in the Israeli coastal resort of Caesarea and has been dated by archaeologists to the fifth and sixth centuries.

Bordered by a frieze of running animals, including lions, panthers, wild boars, antelope, elephant, dog and bull, interspersed with fruit trees, remains of the floor were first found during military exercises in 1950.

More here. With a picture!

Fight! Fight! Propriety and History Clash in Argentina

Their facial features are clear, and their muscles are firm. The blood remains frozen in their veins, and the vivid clothes they wore the day they died remain intact.

The three Incan children -- believed to be victims of a mountaintop sacrifice about 500 years ago -- are among the best-preserved mummies ever found, and Argentine officials hope to put them on display this fall in a museum in this city in the far north.

But not everyone is looking forward to the public unveiling of human remains that look anything but ancient. Members of an Argentine indigenous organization are trying to legally block the display, saying it dishonors their "little brothers and sisters." Rival museum officials in Buenos Aires dismiss the exhibit as morbid. And the explorer who discovered the bodies six years ago worries that a rushed showing could permanently damage them.

Tough choice. You could return them to the mountain but they wouldn't last long (looters and souvenir hunters). Displaying really fresh-looking bodies does seem a bit morbid as well. And it would be nice to have them around for further study eventually. Above all, we (humanity) have a responsibility to preserve them as well as they've been preserved beforfe we found them.

Restoration of Erie Canal terminus underway

- Archaeologists recovered stone tools, pottery and a host of other artifacts dating back centuries as work resumed on the long-delayed restoration of the western end of the Erie Canal.

The $46.3 million project was sent back to the drawing board in October 2000 after preservationists sued Empire State Development over initial plans. Gov. George Pataki then called for a redesign with more emphasis on the canal's heritage.

"The Erie Canal is one of the most important historic sites, it's the big story of Buffalo, and in the end I think we did the right thing," said Scot Fisher, one of the preservationists who helped change the direction of the project.

[insert government joke here] A Congress, Buried in Turkey's Sand

Alexander the Great was here, and so was Saint Paul, on his way to Ephesus.

Centuries later, the drafters of the American Constitution took the ancient Lycian League, which was based here, as an early example - in fact, it was history's earliest example - of the form of republican government they envisaged as well.

The Lycian League was mentioned twice in the Federalist Papers, once by Alexander Hamilton, once by James Madison, so it could safely be said that it entered into the history of the formation of the United States.

Diggers discover ancient artefacts

AN archaeological dig in Cookham may have already stumbled upon artefacts dating as far back as the Roman period.

The finds were discovered at the site of the Marlow Archaeological Society's MAS Cookham excavation project.

The project, which is taking place on the paddock of Holy Trinity Church, Cookham, found what archaeologists believe to be an early solid structure underground, possibly a road, wall, or even building foundations.

Neanderthal update Were Modern Humans Neighbors to Neanderthals?

Dating of Modern-Style Artifacts in Famed Neanderthal Cave in France Refuels Debate About Possible Coexistence

Sometime between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago, the Neanderthals abruptly disappeared after a run of perhaps 200 millennia in the Near East, west Asia and, most notably, in the ice age caves of Europe. On that score, there is no dispute.

How this happened, and why, is another matter. For years, paleontologists have argued about whether anatomically modern humans invading from the east either wiped out the Neanderthals or out-innovated them; or, alternatively, whether Neanderthals and the invaders simply interbred to create today's Homo sapiens .

Monday, September 19, 2005

Cool article Mystery Surrounds 'Porcelain Of The Southwest'

Caitlin O’Grady hopes to crack a mystery that has puzzled archaeologists and potters for more than 100 years.

It surrounds small pieces of broken Hopi pottery, some of which are now in O’Grady’s lab in the Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) department at The University of Arizona.

O’Grady, an MSE Ph.D. student, recently sat at her lab bench and turned one of these potsherds over in her hands. “These ceramics are beautiful and incredibly well made,” she said. “The artists who made them were amazingly skilled and able to very precisely manipulate the materials and technology. It’s remarkable. I wish I had their skills.”

The Hopi artists created what archaeologists call Jeddito ware between about 1200 and 1650 A.D., O’Grady explained. The potsherds that she’s studying are a subset of Jeddito called Sikyatki Polychrome. They’re named for a site that early archaeologists excavated on Northern Arizona’s Hopi reservation, where a large number of complete and broken pots were found.

Not much new in the way of archaeological techniques being used (XRD, SEM, etc.) but it will be a long detailed process of figuring out how they made these things.

Ceramics and bones found in Celtic settlement

A Celtic settlement believed to be nearly 3 000 years old has been discovered near Roman tombs in northern Switzerland, archeologists said on Thursday.

The hamlet near Frick, in Argau district, dated from about 900 BC, the district's archeological department said.

Excavations revealed stone foundations for the Celtic tribespeople's wooden dwellings, ceramics, animal bones and charred grain.

Archeologists also found Roman tombs nearby dating from about 100 AD which contained glass containers, bronze ornaments, ceramics and other objects.

The researchers believe the Roman tombs belonged to a single family.

That's the whole thing.

Homo hobbitus update Small brain did not stop Hobbit having big ideas

A fossil of a diminutive human nicknamed "the Hobbit" does indeed represent a previously unrecognised species of early Man, according to a new technique that suggests it was a cultured little fellow.

Sceptics had argued that the Hobbit, discovered in Indonesia and first announced last year, could have been an individual who suffered from microcephalya, a disorder that limits brain growth.

. . .

Yesterday Nathan Jeffery of the University of Liverpool described a new way to study the imprint left by the brain on the inside of fossilised skulls.

Guts: Dr Jeffery has revealed a simple yet effective measure of the endocranial cavity which gives a proportion of frontal and cerebellar parts of the brain and appears to reflect the rudimentary cultural advances between species.

"The proportion for H. floresiensis (168 per cent) falls within the range for Homo erectus (165 -171 per cent) and is approximately 20 percentage points greater than that for the chimps," he said. "As expected the mean proportion for modern humans is much higher than the rest at 205 per cent."

We may have seen some scans of this in the past few days, that is, some images of the shape and size of H.h., H.s., and some chimps. The images themselves seem to make a pretty good case that these aren't just microcephalics.

Caught! Attempt to smuggle pharaoh's statue foiled

Egyptian police have foiled an attempt to smuggle an ancient statue of Pharaoh Ramses II out of Egypt for sale to a foreign museum or private collector.

Security sources said Thursday that thieves found the granite statue in the region of Giza near Cairo in the area of the big pyramids and did not report it to the authorities.

Police were tipped off about the discovery, however, and policemen posing as art merchants convinced the thieves to sell them the statue for 4 million Egyptian pounds ($695,000).

The thieves, who planned to break the statue into several pieces to facilitate smuggling it out of the country, showed the disguised policemen to the place where they had been hiding it.

Ramses II, one of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, ruled ancient Egypt for 67 years between 1213 and 1279 B.C., and his statues are found in several parts of the country.

That's the whole thing.

Israel to leave 6th century mosaic in Gaza

Shlomo Dror, the spokesman for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that following "the noise made in the media" about the possibility of the removal of a 6th century Byzantine mosaic from Gaza, Dr. Yitzhak Magen, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority's archaeology in the Palestinian Territories, decided "to leave it as it is."

"I really hope the Palestinians will know how to preserve it," said Dror.

Again???? Antiquities go missing from Egyptian museum

The disappearance of three items from the Egyptian Museum has prompted investigations that may be taken over by the General Prosecutor, according to press reports on Monday.

The three artefacts dating back to 2649-2150 BC were found missing September 7 - five months after being lent to the museum for an exhibition, the state-owned daily al-Ahram reported.

The items were never put on display, but kept under guard the museum's basement along with thousands of others.

We owe it all to rutabagas The roots of civilization trace back to ... roots

About five to seven million years ago, when the lineage of humans and chimpanzees split, edible root plants similar to rutabagas and turnips may have been one of the reasons. According to research by anthropologists Greg Laden of the University of Minnesota and Richard Wrangham of Harvard University, the presence of fleshy underground storage organs like roots and tubers must have sustained our ancestors who left the rain forest to colonize the savannah. They have published their research in the October issue of the Journal of Human Evolution.

"You can think of roots as a kind of 'conveyor belt' ... they were somewhat available in the forest, but abundant on the savannah," said Laden. "Once roots were 'discovered,' chimp-like creatures would not only be able to survive on the savannah, but may well have been compelled to extend their range into more and more open habitats."

We think it was all due to the kohlrabi, but that's just us.

Major excavation for Roman relic

North East experts are to investigate reports that a mosaic from Roman times is buried 15ft underground opposite the site of a former Sunderland brewery.

Archaeologists are now hoping to search for the ancient relic on the Vaux brewery site before it is redeveloped.

If they find the mosaic, it would confirm long-held suspicions by some local historians that there used to be a Roman settlement in the city.

The brewery closed in 1999 and will not be redeveloped until digs are complete.

Knotty problem Is this a message from the Incas?

Scholars call it the "Inca Paradox": how could the Incas run their vast, vibrant and complex empire for hundreds of years without going to the trouble of inventing writing?

Now the first Inca word - a place name - may have been uncovered by two experts studying enigmatic mops of knotted strings, called "khipu" or "quipu" (pronounced "kee-poo"), used by the Inca culture in South America for around 500 years.

We linked to something similar some time ago.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

We'll start off today with the news from the EEF:

Press report: "Attempt to smuggle pharaoh's statue foiled"

"Egyptian police have foiled an attempt to smuggle an ancient statue of
Pharaoh Ramses II out of Egypt for sale to a foreign museum or private
collector." [Yay!]

Press report: "Analysis unravels more on mummy"
About the Louisville mummy called "Tchaenhotep" [previously read
as "Then-Hotep", see EEFNEWS (307)], which - after being crushed
by a piano in 1937... - "will be displayed in the Discovery Gallery
of the $5 million 'World Around Us' exhibit that opens Sept. 24 at
the Louisville Science Center." [For that permanent exhibition, see ]

Press report: "Stela depicting Cleopatra as male pharaoh discovered in China"
English version of the report about the refound Duan Fang Collection
[see EEFNEWS 370].

Egypt Today Magazine vol. 26 issue 9 (September 2005) has an article online (in HTML) called "A Sad Obsession. George Gliddon was also one of his era's top Egyptologists - for a time"
About the 19th c. habit of the public unwrapping of mummies, which could result in embarassing shows.

Lucas Livingston (Art Institute of Chicago) has put some of his
papers online at his website (in HTML):
-- "Saites, Persians, and Greeks, Oh My! A Brief Look at Egyptian
Cultural Influence on Greeks in Egypt during the Saite Period and
the Effect of the Persian Conquest"
-- "Greek and Egyptian Religious Parallels: Egyptian Gods with
Greek Names in Herodotus and Votive Statuary"
-- "Egyptian Influence on Ionic Temple Architecture"

"The Theban Necropolis Database"
"The purpose of this database is to introduce all the data available so far
concering the details of the private tombs in the Theban Necropolis, such as
location, plan, the name and title of the owner, family relationship, wall
decoration, funerary cones, etc., and the complete bibliography of the past
research, in order to prepare the framework and to enhance the future
research of the Theban Necropolis."

End of EEF news

Lost civilization town. . .found! Greek archaeologists unearth large Bronze Age town on Cycladic island

Greek archaeologists have discovered the "well-preserved" remains of a large Bronze Age town dating from at least 1,900 BC on the Cycladic island of Andros, the culture ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Archaeologists found at least four "well-preserved" buildings - one of them retaining its ground floor walls - in the remains of a quarter, and a graded road believed to lead to a square.

Lost civilization. . .found! Research team finds new evidence of Amazonian civilization

A joint Japanese-Bolivian research team has completed the first stage of a three-year investigation that aims to shed light on a little-known high culture that existed in the present-day Bolivian Amazon.

The investigation, named "Project Mojos," is headed by Katsuyoshi Sanematsu, a professor of anthropology at Rikkyo University in Tokyo.

In an interview Wednesday, Sanematsu, 56, told Kyodo News that the team, composed of four Japanese researchers and four Bolivian researchers, succeeded in finding hundreds of archaeological artifacts during a monthlong excavation that ended earlier this month.

Huh Secret of Delphi Found in Ancient Text

Researchers at the University of Leicester have unravelled a 2,700 year old mystery concerning The Oracle of Delphi – by consulting an ancient farmer’s manual.

The researchers from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History sought to explain how people from across Greece came to consult with the Oracle – a hotline to the god Apollo- on a particular day of the year even though there was no common calendar.

Now their findings, published in this month’s edition of the journal Antiquity, suggests celestial signs observed by farmers could also have determined the rituals associated with Apollo Delphinios

Seems interesting, but why couldn't the Delphi people just, you know, walk over to a flat spot if they wanted to see what stars were coming up? Seems like they could figure out how to do that.

Everybody. . .start Googling Enthusiast uses Google to reveal Roman ruins

Using satellite images from Google Maps and Google Earth, an Italian computer programmer has stumbled upon the remains of an ancient villa. Luca Mori was studying maps of the region around his town of Sorbolo, near Parma, when he noticed a prominent, oval, shaded form more than 500 metres long. It was the meander of an ancient river, visible because former watercourses absorb different amounts of moisture from the air than their surroundings do.

Very neat. Professionals ought to be picking up on this, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hmmmm. . . .obviously not much going on today.

Well, this sounds good French Archaeologists to Find Traces of Transition in Iran

In a joint mission, Iranian and French archaeologists aim to discover traces of the transition period between Chalcolithic (copper age, 6000 to 7000 years ago) and Bronze age (5000 years ago) at prehistoric sites in northwest Iran, especially at Kura Aras.

Kura Aras is a culture originated in northwest Iran and flourished through the fourth and third prehistoric periods.

Dig throws new light on Stonehenge mystery

THREE weeks of excavations at Durrington Walls have been helping to throw new light on the mysteries of the Stonehenge World Heritage site.

The dig, which started on August 21 and is due to end today (September 15) has attracted interest from eminent archaeologists, who have been regularly visiting the site since the work got underway.

And last Saturday and Sunday members of the public got the chance to view the excavations and talk to members of the team carrying out the research project.

Hail, the conquering archaeologists! Alexander Dam Conquered by Iranian-English Archaeologists

Iranian English archaeologists have started to research the ancient wall of Gorgan which is also famous as Alexander Dam.

The team launched their project on 3 September and will continue on the first phase until 17 October.

Gorgan wall, located in the northern province of Golestan, is one of Iran’s unique defensive walls of ancient times. 200 kilometers long and consisting of 40 fortresses, the wall, also known as Alexander dam, is of great historical importance and according to experts is Asia’s second longest wall after the Great Wall of China.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Jared Diamond alert: negative review From Ron Bailey:

Jared Diamond’s new book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, is neither “superb” (The New Statesman), “incisive” (The Washington Post), “magisterial” (BusinessWeek), nor “insightful and very important” (Boston Herald). It is, instead, a telling example of how a smart man can be terribly misled by a fixation on one big idea. In this case, Diamond, a biologist, is trying to apply biology’s master narrative to human societies.

Discussing Diamond (especially negatively) is generally akin to shooting a water pistol at a beehive. Thus, we will simply link to the article and let the reader decide its merits.

Lost civilization path. . .found! Scottish 'Indiana Jones' finds ancient burial path

A VETERAN archaeologist, hailed as Scotland's "Indiana Jones", has discovered one of Egypt's most elusive ancient sites 3,000 years after it was buried in the desert sand.

Ian Mathieson, 78, director of Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project, has located part of a seven-mile ceremonial burial route to the Step Pyramid of Djoser, near Cairo.

Treasure hunters have long tried to pinpoint the Serapeum Way, and in 1798 Napoleon sent 1,000 men.

We met Mathieson a couple of years back while in Egypt. His team has been producing wonderful maps of subsurface features around Saqqara.

News from Mehr French archaeologists investigate Kura-Araxes culture in northwestern Iran

A team of Iranian and French archaeologists recently visited northwestern Iran to search for evidence of the Kura-Araxes culture in the region, an expert of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) announced on Tuesday.

Karim Alizadeh said that the team led by French archaeologist Catherine Marro visited the Bazargan, Chaldiran, and Jolfa regions and the plains of Khoy and Marand in West Azerbaijan Province.

The Kura-Araxes culture was an important Chalcolithic (copper-stone age) and Bronze Age culture that flourished in the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia, and northwestern Iran from about 4000 BC to 2200 BC.

Movie corner Jackie Chan says he wants to produce

Chinese action star Jackie Chan says the next step in his successful film career will probably be film production.

Chan, 51, in Malaysia to promote 'The Myth,' said he will most likely stop acting within five years, then turn to producing, directing and teaching the next generation to keep the action genre flowing, BBC reported Monday.

The Hong Kong native started his career as a stuntman and directed his first picture in 1980.

Hmmmmm. . . .no archaeology yet. . . . .

After making a series of Hollywood blockbusters including 'Rush Hour' and 'The Cannonball Run,' Chan announced last year he was 'taking a break' from Tinsel Town to make Chinese movies.

Still none, but if you have a chance, go rent Cannonball Run (first one). Ab.Sol.Utely Hil.arious.

The Myth' stars Chan as an ancient general who is reincarnated as a archaeologist.

And there you have it. That's the whole thing.

Families dig archaeology

A dozen archaeology buffs spent two sweltering August weekends digging in a farm field for artifacts of an ancient culture, and were rewarded with a rare prize: a stemmed quartz knife that dates back at least 3,000 years.

The event, Family Archaeology Weekend, was hosted by the Institute for American Indian Studies, which is located in nearby Washington. The weekend included an orientation session on a Friday night and four days of digging in the soil over two weekends. Participants were evenly divided between adults and children.

Archaeologist and anthropologist Dr. Lucianne Lavin, who has been director of research at the institute for a year and a half, held several such weekends when she taught at a community college. This was the first Family Archaeology Weekend held by the institute, and Lavin hopes to make it an annual event.

Sounds like a great program.
Breaking news Point May Be Oldest Idaho Human Artifact

The discovery of a carved obsidian spear point indicates that the earliest humans in what is now Idaho apparently spent time in the area's mountains as well as its canyons.

The spear point, believed to be 11,000 years old, was found last year just west of the Idaho-Montana border in the Beaverhead Mountains southeast of Salmon. If proved to be that age, it would be the oldest example of humans in that area, said Lane Allgood, a spokesman for North Wind, a company hired to help the Bureau of Land Management to investigate the cultural resources of the area.

Denise Stark, an environmental planner and archaeological technician with North Wind, found the point just below the ridge line of the Continental Divide. Following protocol, she left it on the mountain, and North Wind retrieved it a year later only after analysis and authorization by the BLM.

"I could see why they were hunting here, but it was rugged," Stark said. "I just kept thinking these people must have been nuts."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fight! Fight! This link leads to a story from El Paso about the El Paso Archaeological Society being kicked out of their current home in the Archaeological Museum there. But since that page completely freezes up Winblows, we can't provide any quotes. Good luck.

Archaeology and alcohol story #2,993 ARCHAEOLOGY: FIRST COCKTAIL 5,000 YEARS OLD

The first cocktail ever was made in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago, using wine, beer, apple juice and honey. Patrick McGovern defined the mix as "grog", an archaic drink in the United States is sold as the "Midas Touch". McGovern, a University Professor at Pennsylvania, one of the most important authorities in chemistry applied in archaeology, presented the results of a research on the banks of the Tigris between Iran and Iraq. This was said at the first day of the international convention on the archaeological study of wine organised in Scansano (Grosseto), land of the Morellino, by the City of Wine National Association and the University of Siena.

We make fun, but alcoholic beverages were probably quite widespread from early on and no doubt was used both for ritual and fun.

Archaeology society members like getting their hands dirty

They may come from all walks of life, but they share one thing - a love of archaeology.

The membership rolls of Cumberland Valley Chapter 27 of the Society for Archaeology Inc. include a teacher, an engineer, a janitor, a security guard, retirees and one person with a degree in archaeology.

The youngest member is 9 years old, and the oldest is about to turn 80.

"You name it. We've got it," said Doug Stine, president of the chapter, which was founded in Chambersburg in 1988.

Ancient drowned forest discovery

UNDERWATER archaeologists in Perthshire have made the incredible discovery of a drowned forest, thought to date from the neolithic period some 5000 years ago.

Stunned divers spotted the ancient wooded area as they worked in Loch Tay.

The eerie find is sure to excite scientists of all disciplines as it could represent the earliest surviving remains of Scotland’s native woodland.

As the article says, it's not particularly archaeological but should provide a lot of information on past climate and more dendro data for the region.

Jerusalem update A debate of biblical proportions

The recently ended season of excavations at the top of the City of David slope was accompanied by much excitement. With every passing day, more and more parts of an enormous building were unearthed. Dr. Eilat Mazar, the archaeologist in charge of the site, believes this could be the palace King David built after conquering Jerusalem from the Jebusites. The discovery has stirred up the old argument among archaeologists as to whether the events described in the Bible in fact occurred, and in this context, the importance and greatness of David himself.

In this case, the disagreement is more than an academic question: It touches on the roots of the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, and could serve as ammunition in any argument over the future of the city.

We haven't commented on this story much, since Biblical archaeology is rather out of our purview, but it is one of those cases where archaeology has (potentially) great impact on contemporary problems. This article seems to get to the root of the archaeological problem which is (no surprise) the date of the remains. One would hope the interested parties can be assiduous in their presentation of arguments and supporting data.

Hurricane Katrina story #1 Cultural treasures lost in Katrina's wake

Add to the human toll of Hurricane Katrina a staggering cultural cost. Early reports document capricious and heartrending losses.

Historic houses were swept away, watercolors swamped. Museums survived, but heat, humidity and lack of security threaten individual works of art and major collections.

"I don't think we've ever in our history had an actual threat to our cultural patrimony of this scope," says Edward Able, president of the American Association of Museums, which is keeping a running online tally of treasures lost.

This ought to be on the minds of every museum curator in the country. This is precisely why so little remains of most of our past and the stuff we dig up or choose to archive needs to be preserved against almost imaginable destructive element. Check out the Mississippi Heritage Trust site for some before and after photos of some of the buildings.

A Middle Palaeolithic site with blade technology at Al Tiwayrat, Qena, Upper Egypt

During the 1990 survey by the Belgian Middle Egypt Prehistoric Project of Leuven University, we discovered a Palaeolithic site on top of a hill (figure 1). It was only during the 2003 campaign that we were able to visit the site again. As an important artefact concentration was found, we organised a simple survey with a single small trench. There was no time for a systematic excavation. The site proved to have suffered very extensive destruction by recent quarrying activities, but still some important observations could be made.

More of a scholarly report than news, so probably only of interest to professionals. It seems to be a quarry site.

Lost civlization settlement. . . (not) found! Search starts for lost settlement

Archaeologists are investigating two Notts fields to see if folklore about a lost settlement is true.

The scientists from the University of Oxford are examining land close to St Mary's Church in Greasley near Eastwood for signs of a medieval village.

A Countryside Agency grant of £30,000 paid for the research after dowsers said they found traces of buildings.

Local historians have always been intrigued by the site because there are remains of a castle but no dwellings.

Egyptian medicine update Secrets of the Mummy's Medicine Chest

The ancient Egyptians left proof of their scientific prowess for people to marvel at for millennia. Their engineering skills can still be seen at Giza, their star charts in Luxor, their care for head wounds on Fifth Avenue.

Head wounds? Yes, and the ancients treated broken arms, cuts, even facial wrinkles - vanity is not a modern invention - and they used methods as advanced as rudimentary surgery and a sort of proto-antibiotics.

As for Fifth Avenue, it, like the Valley of the Kings, is a place of hidden treasures. What researchers call the world's oldest known medical treatise, an Egyptian papyrus offering 4,000-year-old wisdom, has long dwelled in the rare books vault at the New York Academy of Medicine.

See here for a summary of the papyrus and a translation(?).

ILLINOIS STYLE: Illinois site shows life of Archaic Period

More than 9,000 years ago, nomadic hunters in Southern Illinois were handy with an atlatl, a Stone Age throwing gadget that gave their spears fast-ball speed. And when dense forests and the lack of meadow areas made deer harder to find, these wanderers adapted to eating more squirrels, fish and nuts.

During this era, there was no writing, pottery or known rock art in Illinois. The bow and arrow hadn't yet been discovered. Yet, as archaeologists have discovered, self-expression existed among these Stone Age people in the form of intricately carved designs on such mundane items as bone hairpins.

You can try reading an article from American Antiquity on Modoc by Steven Ahler with a free trial.

Looters strike again Raid of Ancient Peruvian City Unearths Ethical Questions of Exploration

Looters have plundered the ruins of Gran Saposoa, an ancient city that was recently discovered in the isolated mountains of Peru over 330 miles northeast of Lima, raising old questions about the ethics of exploration and discovery.

The ruins were first announced to the world in 1999 and were thought to be a major find for the study of pre-Incan civilization. However, an expedition to further explore and survey the ruins found several of the stone tombs destroyed and artifacts missing, including the stone head of a prominent sculpture in the most important set of ruins.

“It was very sad and disheartening to our teams because we are there to make known these areas so the government can protect them,” Sean Savoy, the leader of the 23-day August expedition, told Outside Online.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Okay, we're back for a bit. Stories piled up while we were away (having a bit o' fun out on the islands; and it's for certain this

is way more interesting than trolling the Web for archaeology stories) so we're just taking some of the highlights.

Anyway, this piece from the IHT: What is lost, archaeologists try to find

Nothing lasts forever. Only the wind inhabits the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in Colorado, birds and vines the pyramids of the Maya. Sand and silence have swallowed the clamors of frankincense traders and camels in the old desert center of Ubar. Troy was buried for centuries before it was uncovered. Parts of the Great Library of Alexandria, center of learning in the ancient world, may be sleeping with the fishes, off Egypt's coast in the Mediterranean.

"Cities rise and fall depending on what made them go in the first place," said Peirce Lewis, an emeritus professor of geography at Pennsylvania State University.

First story we've seen working in the Katrina angle. Nothing terribly new, although some of it might be new. Mostly a nice review of some recent work at various places. We started to roll our eyes on the Atlantis bit, but it ended up providing another example of a city destroyed and only recently come to light.

Mummy update Mummy found in Syria

Syrian archaeologists have discovered a sarcophagus with the best-preserved mummy ever in a tower tomb in Palmyra.

The two-meter-long conical sarcophagus is made of stone. The name of Hanbal Saadi, who the scientists believe was the owner of the tomb, is engraved upon it.

The mummy is 175 centimeters (5 feet 9 inches) long.

Not much there.

Historical, but it's all over the news Old ship's remains discovered at city construction site

The remains of a massive Gold Rush-era sailing ship dating to the early 1800s have been discovered at the site of a large construction project in downtown San Francisco, archaeologists at the scene confirmed Tuesday.

The ship's decaying bow peeked through mounds of earth as workers under the direction of an archaeologist brushed away generations of dirt from its aging timbers. A dig crew unearthed the first portions of the ship last week as they carved away dirt to lay the foundation for a 650-unit condominium development.

Thor Heyerdahl redux ‘Bronze age’ boat set to sail from Oman to India

Researchers have built a reed boat modeled on vessels that plied the seas more than four millennia ago and will try to sail 965 kilometers across the Arabian Sea from Oman to India, following what they believe was a Bronze Age trade route.

The 12-meter Magan, named after an ancient name for Oman, is made of reeds formed into bundles, lashed together with rope made from date palm fibers and covered with a woven mat coated with black bitumen or tar to make it waterproof. The vessel will be powered by a square-rigged sail made of tightly woven wool and maneuvered using two teak steering oars.

Some news from the EEF:

Press report: "Secrets of the Pharaohs' Physicians Revealed"
Although this is about an exhibition [see above], it is also of general
interest. Dr James Allen (MMA) talks about AE medicine.

Press report: "Dig days: Surprise delivery"
Dr Zahi Hawass receives by mail a "piece of alabaster with hieroglyphic from the New Kingdom, and the inscription was
an utterance to the god Osiris from the Pharaoh. Also on the fragment
was a part of the cartouche of Seti I. "
[Eds. Please do not send us artifacts by mail. Unless they're extremely valuable.]

Online Bachelor of Science thesis: Matthew Pendlebury, 3D Virtual Reality
reconstruction on the Internet using VRML, Department of Computing,
Manchester Metropolitan University, 1996. 81 pp. - pdf-file: 1.5 MB
"This project details the investigation into the use of Virtual Reality
Modelling Language (VRML) to reconstruct historical monuments so that
they can then be easily accessed over the Internet ... To demonstrate the
principles involved and to further investigate the practical issues, a
prototype has been developed. The prototype is based around the Tomb of
Menna in Egypt and uses his

Guido Heinz, Hartmut Müller, Surveying of Pharaohs in the 21st Century,
Proceedings of: From Pharaohs to Geoinformatics, FIG Working Week 2005 and
GSDI-8, Cairo, Egypt, April 16-21, 2005 - 8 pp., pdf-file: 320 KB
"After a several years lasting process of restoration, conservation and
technological investigation, the two statues [of Pharaoh Pepi I.] were
documented geometrically. The shapes of the sculptures
were recorded using a 3D laser scanner. Special features like the seams
between the copper sheets forming the statue and the rivets connecting them
were measured using close range photogrammetry ... This paper shows the
concepts of the recording, problems and some results."
[For other articles by Guido Heinz et al about these statues, see EEFNEWS

Online version of: H. Rushmeier, J. Gomes, F. Giordano, H. El Shishiny, K.
Magerlein, F. Bernardini, Design and Use of an In-Museum System for Artifact
Capture, Paper read at the IEEE/CVPR Workshop on Applications of Computer
Vision in Archaeology, Madison, WI, June 2003 - pdf-file: 2.5 MB
"We describe the design and use of a 3D scanning system currently installed
in Cairo's Egyptian Museum.The primary purpose of the system is to capture
objects for display on a web site communicating Egyptian culture. The system
is designed to capture both the geometry and photometry of the museum
artifacts. We describe special features of the system and the calibration
procedures designed for it. We also present resulting scans and examples of
how they will be used on the web site."

[Eds. This is great. We'd like to see a system that professionals could use to actually make measurements off of some of these things though, rather than just looking at them, along with detailed data.]

End of EEF news

[Update]: We're being spammed! ArchaeoBlog received two comments from "readers" named "jordan" and "trinity" regarding our comments on DNA Testing (and you know, we really do a great deal of posting on DNA testing). Anyway, they direct you to their "blog" on DNA testing, which is really just an ad site. We won't give you the link because they'd probably find out where it was directed from and besides, we don't want to give these cretins more hits than they deserve. Just be forewarned.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sorry about the lapse in posting. We're on a pseudo-vacation for a week or so and doing a bit of travelling and one thing we're not going to do while sitting in a nice hotel watching the sun set over the ocean is post stuff to a blog.

Archaeology from the dark side

Salon article on alternative archaeology and Creationism, among other practitioners of pseudoscience. You can view the whole thing without being a subscriber by watching an ad.

Mainstream science, he argues, has become a "knowledge filter" designed to keep the most challenging ideas out of the discourse. His explorations of this question -- how scientific consensus can become a kind of groupthink, and how contradictory evidence then becomes unacceptable -- have gained him the grudging respect of at least some scholars.

True, but rather trivial when viewed against the long history of philosophical angst archaeologists have gone through over the years (see, Salmon and Salmon, ) and the recent vogue of post-processualism. Heck, who isn't at least passingly familiar with Kuhn. Science itself is inherently a conservative enterprise and new paradigms go through a filtering process before they become accepted.

Over the course of 20 years, Feder has periodically surveyed college students in different parts of the country to determine their belief in various staples of alternative archaeology. In 2000, he found that 45 percent of students surveyed believed in the Lost Continent of Atlantis (an all-time high), while 36 percent believed that a curse on the pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb had actually killed people, and 23 percent believed that aliens had visited earth in prehistoric times.

We're not sure how meaningful this is. We figure a lot of college students would probably say they believed in Atlantis just because it sounds all cool and open-minded. You'd probably find a good number who believe there was a place called "The Shire" as well. . . . .

Hancock says he has tried to point scientists in the directions that might prove or disprove his case, but they're not interested. "I've done my best to deliver material evidence where I think it's most likely to be found, which is underwater," he says.

Sorry, dude, that's your responsibility, much as it might disturb you to actually be dirty and -- gasp! -- uncomfortable doing some fieldwork.

Creationists have gone to war over the fossil skulls of early hominids, arguing that they are either clearly apes or clearly humans, but never an intermediate evolutionary stage (although they have yet to formulate a consistent case about which bones fall into which category).

There's that darn empirical evidence thing again.

Most archaeologists would say there is decent evidence for a human population arriving here 30,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Well. That might be stretching it a bit. We bet most would say they strongly suspect people were here up to 20k years ago, but there's really no evidence for it. Unless you count Monte Verde as evidence that since people were down there at 12,500, they must have been here earlier than that, but that's somewhat more indirect.

The last page is especially worth reading:

I want to insist on the centrality of myth to the human experience. But myth posing as science is quite another matter. If myth, whether in the form of art or religion, can be said to illuminate certain truths about the human condition, they are categorically distinct from the quantifiable and falsifiable truths of science.

. . .

The conflict over archaeology forms part of the long-running argument between science and religion, which scientists thought they had won generations ago. The public, at least in this country, has not acknowledged their victory. Various terms for peace have been proposed. Since the time of Augustine, if not Socrates, philosophers, priests and scientists have argued that science and religion ask different kinds of questions and seek different kinds of answers, that they are, in the famous phrase of biologist Stephen Jay Gould, "non-overlapping magisteria."

Read the whole thing. We tend to think archaeology suffers the slings and arrows of pseudoscience more than other disciplines because it lacks the immediacy to basic survival that other disciplines touch upon. After all, if some dope says there are flying cars preseved under the Antarctic ice cap left there by Atlanteans, it won't make much difference if you believe or not. On the other hand, if the guy about to remove your swollen and bloated appendix says he doesn't really believe in that whole "germ theory of disease" crap while holding a bloody scalpel from a previous operation, you'd probably pipe up and say something.

This article should, we think, cause us to stop and contemplate again what sort of archaeology we want. If we really want to be thought of as scientists, then we have to continue and redouble our efforts to create a truly scientific archaeology. If, however, we wish to follow the postprocessualist mode and simply treat archaeology as a form of political expression, we'd better be prepared to accept that we might not end up being the ones to write the (pre)history books.

Disaster archaeology update History rises from the ashes

THOUSANDS of everyday items from the 15th century homes of bishops, lords and ladies have been uncovered in a four-metre deep seam of archaeological remains discovered beneath the Cowgate.

Fragments of medieval pottery and leather and wood, thought to be the remains of shoes and kitchen barrels, are among the artifacts uncovered during a five-year excavation which has proved to be one of the most significant in the UK in decades. Experts say the discoveries on three sites in the Cowgate have put Edinburgh on a par with York and London in archaeological terms.

TV Corner Archaeologist is 'naked' and in your face

You've heard about The Naked Chef, of course: Britain's Jamie Oliver, who lays out the bare essentials of his culinary art in a popular TV series. And you may remember Naked City, a gritty black-and-white police drama from the sixties.

But are you ready for The Naked Archaeologist?

Did someone mention Lara Croft?

Note to producers: As a major super-important blog, we think you should send us a review copy.

Volunteer archaeology update Archaeology dig continues in area, Muncy Historical Society seeks volunteers Sun-Gazette Staff Reports
Muncy Historical Society’s public archaeology dig has concluded for the summer, but opportunities abound for people interested in working on the project during the fall and winter.
According to principal investigator Robin Van Auken, the project will become more complicated, and that means volunteers need to be trained in a variety of jobs.
Because of this, the project is open to members of the historical society only.

Chinese archaeologists discover world earliest millets

Chinese archaeologists have recently found the world earliest millets, dated back to about 8,000 years ago, on the grassland in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

A large number of carbonized millets have been discovered by Chinese archaeologists at the Xinglonggou relics site in Chifeng City.

The discovery has changed the traditional opinion that millet, the staple food in ancient north China, originated in the Yellow River valley, Zhao Zhijun, a researcher with the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua on Friday.

We'd link to them more, but we like vowels Kyrgyz archaeologist, Kubatbek Tabaldiev helped excavate a secret pyramid

Kyrgyz archaeologist, Kubatbek Tabaldiev helped excavate a secret pyramid built by Mayan Indians to study more about their empire and why it fell.

Thousands of years ago these people ruled Central and Latin America and the Maya built a powerful civilisation. They created their own written language and calendar and invented their own counting system. Their towns occupied hundreds of hectares and almost 500,000 people settled there. Mayan tribes were the first people to create such large human settlements.

Suddenly, the Indians decided to leave their wonderful settlements and move towards the mountains on the Yucatan Peninsula. No scientists have been able to explain the reason for this migration. There is a story that the Maya killed the land and they did not know how to put fertilisers in soil so they had to move to look for new land.