Archaeologists working on Shetland's most northerly isle have discovered a burial site more than 2,000 years old.
The site at Sand Wick on Unst, thought to date back to the Iron Age, had already been badly eroded by the sea when a team of experts began their work in August.
However, archaeologists from Glasgow University, the Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problems of Erosion Trust (SCAPE) and local volunteers managed to rescue artefacts and a skeleton.
The excavation, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, was initially aimed at training volunteers how to excavate eroding coastlines.
New Digs Decoding Mexico's "Pyramids of Fire"
Using picks, shovels, and high-tech forensic sleuthing, scientists are beginning to cobble together the grisly ancient history and fiery demise of Teotihuacán, the first major metropolis of the Americas.
The size of Shakespeare's London, Teotihuacán was built by an unknown people almost 2,000 years ago. The site sits about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of present-day Mexico City. Temples, palaces, and some of the largest pyramids on Earth line its ancient main street.
Scientists believe Teotihuacán was the hub of trade and commerce in Mesoamerica until the city's civilization collapsed around A.D. 650. When the Aztecs stumbled upon the metropolis centuries later, they dubbed it the "City of the Gods," because they believed it was where the Gods met to create the present universe and sun.
Good article. Note this: Spence has also found evidence that the health of Teotihuacán's population declined in the city's final century. Residents' teeth have tell-tale lines that form in childhood during episodes of severe stress, such as malnutrition or infection. Lovell and Whyte found something similar at the Old Kingdom site of Mendes in the Nile Delta. They found that, while not statistically significant, Old Kingdom individuals had a higher incidence of dental enamal hypoplasia which they attributed to prolonged drought and malnutrition. This may indicate that during much of the 6th Dynasty and in the later 5th as well Egypt was suffering the effects of climate change, decreasing the ability of the central government to adequately feed, let alone closely administer, much of the population.
Ref: Lovell, N. C. and I. Whyte
1999 Patterns of dental enamel defects at ancient Mendes, Egypt. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 110:69-80.
Bridge to Mesopotamia
In a glass case stand a dozen carved statues of gypsum alabaster — male figurines with their hands folded at their chests and their shell-and-lapis-lazuli eyes wide open. Dating to around 2500 B.C., the statues were commissioned by wealthy Mesopotamians as proxy worshippers, to stand in the temples of gods and pray in their owners’ absence. “The Mesopotamians saw gods as present all around us,” explains Oriental Institute Museum director Geoff Emberling ’87. The gods were also believed to reside in their cult statues, he says, “so the idea that a person could be present in a statue is not so far removed.” The figurines and their role fascinate him because “they take us out of our way of seeing,” he explains, and provide “a good example of how, with a little understanding, we can glimpse” another world. Emberling, who has studied the ancient Near East for more than 20 years, has always tried to connect with that world.
Tut the Boozer update King Tut Drank Red Wine, Researcher Says
King Tutankhamen drank red wine, says a researcher who analyzed very dry traces of the vintage found in his tomb.
Maria Rosa Guasch-Jane, who briefed reporters Wednesday at the British Museum, said she had invented a process which gave archaeologists a tool to discover the color of ancient wine.
Guasch-Jane also discovered that the most valued drink in ancient Egypt, shedeh, was made of red grapes.
``This is the first time someone has found an ancient red wine,'' said Guasch-Jane, who earned her Ph.D. in pharmacy from the University of Barcelona in September.
We may have blogged this some time ago. Another story on it here.
Obituary Marshall Clagett, 89, Scholar on Science in Ancient Times, Is Dead
Marshall Clagett, a scholar of science in ancient Egypt and Greece and the way it was received in medieval Europe, died on Oct. 21 at a hospital in Princeton, N.J. He was 89 and lived in Princeton.
His death was announced by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he was a professor emeritus in the Department of Historical Studies. He arrived to teach in 1964 and took emeritus status in 1986, but continued to publish, and at his death was working on the fourth and final volume of his "Ancient Egyptian Science," the institute reported.
Dr. Clagett's major work was his five-volume "Archimedes in the Middle Ages," published over 20 years starting in 1964. It covered the range of work and the influence of Greece's most famous mathematician and inventor, about whom little is known.
We admit we've never heard of him.
Not archaeology but interesting Woolly Mammoth's Childhood Revealed
Raising a mammoth wasn't an easy task and required huge quantities of mother's milk, according to a study of the nursing habits of a young woolly mammoth that died thousands of years ago.
Analysis of the young mammoth's relatively intact tusk revealed that the calf nursed from its mother for four or more years, apparently depending on the calorie-rich milk to survive in harsh, arctic conditions.
Carried out by researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota and the Wrangel Island State Preserve in Siberia, the study was presented at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) in Mesa, Ariz.
Very clever set of analyses.
Toe Bones Reveal World's Earliest Shoe-Wearers
A new analysis of toe bones suggests that ancient people from Europe and the Middle East were the first to adopt supportive footwear—most likely primitive sandals—around 30,000 years ago.
Before that time, most humans went barefoot—regardless of their environment.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, found that humans at the end of the Old Stone Age had weaker small-toe bones than their ancestors but no corresponding loss of leg strength.
The finding suggests that the ancient humans were using footwear for support for the first time in history.
And yet another story from NG on mummy eyes!
Out of Africa and on to California Study: Modern Humans Reached Americas Last
Modern humans left Africa in waves and colonized the Mideast first and then Europe, according to a new study that traced early human migration patterns through variations in DNA.
The study, which supports the "Out of Africa" theory that humans first emerged in Africa before migrating to other parts of the world, determined that South America was the last settled region.
"In (the) dataset (we studied), genetic diversity is highest in Africa and then decreases in the following order with diversity being the lowest in the Americas: Mideast, Europe, Asia, Oceania (the Pacific Islands), America. This indicates what the order of the human expansion might have been," said Sohini Ramachandran, lead author of the study, which is published in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Update on a story from a few days ago.