Monday, January 30, 2006

Tiy statue update

A couple more stories on the head and two others found with it:

Egyptian Statue Met Undignified End

In life, King Tut's grandmother was a powerful woman in ancient Egypt, but after death a monument to her met an undignified end.

A Johns Hopkins University archaeological team found a life-sized statue believed to represent Queen Tiye buried face down under the floor of the sprawling Karnak Temple site in Luxor, the ancient Egyptian royal city.

The statue, which dates to between 1391 and 1352 B.C., was found under the platform of a temple of the goddess Mut, which dates to about 700 B.C. It appears to have been tossed in with rubble used to fill in the floor during that temple's later expansion, said Betsy Bryan, a professor of Egyptian art and archaeology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

"The reason for using the statue as construction material, however, remains unknown," Bryan said in an e-mail from Egypt.

Ancient Egyptian royal head puzzles archaeologists

A German archaeological mission stumbled on a mystery with the discovery of three partial pharaonic statues in Luxor, Egyptian officials announced on Monday, because one appears to date to a later period than most previous finds at the site.

Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) announced on Monday the discovery of two statues of Sakhmet, the goddess of war, as well as the head of a member of the royal family, at the temple of Amunhotep III on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, 700km south of Cairo.
It's all about Pocahontas Archaeologists unearth part of the city's past on Pocahontas Island

Since mid-December a group of professional archaeologists has been digging up the past of Pocahontas Island in a mission to paint a picture of one part of the city's history.

"We first had to establish the potential that we would find artifacts and significant artifacts," said Dulaney Ward, special projects consultant to the city manager. "I believe that this area probably has the richest untapped archaeological sites in the state."

Actually seems to be stuff from much later than the actual Pocahontas, mid-19th century.

Man’s best friend stands test of time, study says

The man was buried in Sweden with a dog laid out across his legs.

It could have been yesterday, but that burial site actually dates back 7,000 years to the Mesolithic period.

“It’s a social bond,” Kansas University professor Darcy Morey said of the relationship between humans and dogs, the study of which is his area of expertise. “It just keeps going. It’s an amazing thing.”

Morey, an assistant professor of anthropology, recently published his research on man’s best friend in the Journal of Archaeological Science. Among other things, his research shows that pet cemeteries are no recent invention but have existed for eons.

Best part: In one grave site in what is present-day Israel, an elderly person was buried with a hand lying on the body of a puppy. Awwwwwwwww. . . . .

Archaeologists puzzle over object buried in Civil War cemetery

University of Georgia archaeologists have been puzzling over finding an apparent manmade object buried in a historic Civil War cemetery.

Ground-penetrating radar on parts of Myrtle Hill Cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, found a reflection that did not look like a grave during a scan of two Civil War grave sites earlier this month.

"There definitely is something manmade there, something big and metal," said Sheldon Skaggs, a member of the archaeologist team. "Now we have to determine what it is."

I don't usually post much stuff on Civil War archaeology, but this has the remote sensing angle to it.

But yet another historical archaeology story anyway UK archaeologists lead dig at McDowell House

A professional team of archaeologists are getting good and dirty while sifting through the dirt at Dr. Ephraim McDowell's house.

Led by archaeologist Kim McBride, the group has been spending their days with shovels, trying to see what treasures they can unearth. The current project, under way at the home of the famed doctor since Jan. 16, has discovered remains of two previous structures on the site, including a fireplace, trash pits, animal bones and ceramics, which McBride believes could date back to the 1700s.

"There's a mixture of artifacts from the 1800s and ceramics possibly from the 1800s," said McBride, who believes the bones are probably the result of cooking done in the fireplace.

7000 year-old sacrificial altar found in Hunan

A sacrificial altar, dating back about 7,000 years, has been discovered in central China's Hunan Province, according to Chinese archaeologists.

The altar is the earliest sacrificial site so far found in China, said He Gang, a researcher with the Hunan Institute of Archaeology.

"Ancients prayed to the gods of nature, such as the gods of the earth, river and heaven," said He at a archaeological forum held by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences recently in Beijing.

Archaeologists have found China's oldest white pottery specimens among the altar relics. The pottery is decorated with phoenix and beast patterns.

10,000-year-old site on coast discovered by archaeologists

Another archaeological site on the Southern Oregon coast has been determined to be about 10,000 years old, making it the second-oldest known site in the state, according to Oregon State University researchers.

The site on a bluff just south of Bandon included a large number of stone flakes, charcoal pieces and fire-cracked rock, according to Roberta Hall, professor emeritus of anthropology at Oregon State and principal investigator in the study.

There also is evidence of a stone hearth, Hall added.

“There are a lot of rock outcrops nearby that would make good sources for tools,’’ she said. “And it appears that tool-making is one of the activities the site may have been used for. So there is potential to find much more there.’’

Same thing posted over the weekend, really, not much new detail.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Lame use of the "xxxxx can dig it" joke, # 18,479 She can dig it

Sutphin says treasures are buried under the city's brownstone neighborhoods.

Amanda Sutphin is not accustomed to being in the limelight. As the chief archaeologist for the city of New York, her days typically involve lots of research, meetings, looking at maps, examining excavation plans and more research. But for the department of archaeology, these are not typical days. Early last month, Sutphin was among the city and MTA officials to announce the discovery of a wall, dating to at least the 18th century, unearthed by workers building the new South Ferry subway station in Battery Park.

Much of the article has to do with the recent wall discovered in Battery Park.
Fight! Fight! A Sunken Warship Sets Off a New Mediterranean Battle

What is probably the world's richest sunken treasure — the Sussex, a British warship that went to the bottom of the Mediterranean in 1694 with a cargo of coins now worth up to $4 billion — has become embroiled in a bitter diplomatic dispute that pits Spain against Britain, the United States and an American company that wants to salvage the wreck.

The conflict turns on arcane and often disputed aspects of international law that govern sovereign waters and the rights of shipwreck owners and finders.

Spain claims the waters, off the coast of Gibraltar. Britain claims the ship, says its decomposing hull rests in the high seas, and has struck a deal with the American company, Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. of Tampa, Fla., to split the recovery's proceeds.

Eh, not really archaeology.
Ancient Papyrus Goes on Display in Turin

It served first as a notebook for ancient painters and then as part of a mummy's wrapping. Now, a first century B.C. parchment believed to contain the earliest cartography of the Greek-Roman era will be on display next month in the northern city of Turin.

The Papyrus of Artemidorus tells a tale of more than 2,000 years of art and culture.

Egyptologist Alessandro Roccati, of the University of Turin, said the parchment was "extraordinary" in that it "conserves direct and ancient testimony that helps reconstruct history." Roccati was not involved in the project.
Using New Methods, Oregon State University Archaeologists Uncover 10,000-Year-Old Coastal

Researchers from Oregon State University have analyzed a second archaeological site on the southern Oregon coast that appears to be about 10,000 years old, and they are hopeful that their newly fine-tuned methodology will lead to the discovery of more and older sites. Results of their study were just published in the journal Radiocarbon.

The site, located on a bluff just south of Bandon, Ore., included a large number of stone flakes, charcoal pieces and fire-cracked rock, according to Roberta Hall, professor emeritus of anthropology at OSU and principal investigator in the study. There also is evidence of a stone hearth, Hall added.

This is the bit describing the new method: The OSU research team . . . developed a model using geologic features, soil type and radiocarbon dating to pinpoint locations most likely to include the oldest sediments. Their theory: these older sediments hold the greatest potential for holding late Pleistocene (older than about 11,000 years) or early Holocene sites.

Which is pretty cool.
New Discoveries in Jiroft May Change History of Civilization

"One of the reasons the archeologists and historians give for Mesopotamia to be the cradle of civilization is that the most ancient historical evidence and relics which have been discovered in Jiroft so far date back to the third millennium BC or nearer, and therefore they argue that this region could not have been the place where civilization began. However, some cultural evidence and ancient artifacts belonging to the fourth millennium BC were traced while digging a trench beneath the Matot Abad cemetery which gave proof to the fact that the history of this region goes back to the sixth millennium BC. Aside from these ancient articles found so far, archeologists were able to unearth a bronze statue of the head of a goat from one of the graves of Jiroft cemetery which raised new questions about the history of this region and whether or not the civilization that lived here is older than that of Mesopotamia," said Yousof Majidzadeh, head of excavation team in Jiroft.

Watch this space for more.
Archaeologists plumb depths of ancient spring

Watching Casey Coy and Rick Gomez prepare to dive into Little Salt Spring is like observing a pilot getting ready for takeoff.

Step by step, the two divers painstakingly review their equipment, instruments and procedures before taking the plunge into the prehistoric underwater site.

They say such meticulousness is imperative: When you're 242 feet underwater, there's no time for mistakes or miscommunication.
Breaking news Archeologists Find Ancient Ship Remains

An American-Italian team of archaeologists has found the remains of 4,000-year-old ships that used to carry cargo between Pharaonic Egypt and the mysterious, exotic land of Punt, the Supreme Council of Antiquities has announced.

The ships' remains were found during a five-year excavation of five caves south of the Red Sea port of Safaga, about 300 miles southeast of Cairo, the chairman of the supreme council, Zahi Hawass, said in a statement late Thursday.

The archaeologists, who came from Boston and East Naples universities, found Pharaonic seals from the era of Sankhkare Mentuhotep III, one of seven rulers of the 11th dynasty, which lasted from about 2133 B.C. to 1991 B.C.. They also found wooden boxes, covered with gypsum, bearing the inscription "Wonders of the land of Punt."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

This post by Daniel Goleman is getting a lot of play in and around the blogosphere, thanks to it's linking by the link Santa Instapundit Glenn Reynolds:

The Internet inadvertently undermines the quality of human interaction, allowing destructive emotional impulses freer reign under specific circumstances. The reason is a neural fluke that results in cyber-disinhibition of brain systems that keep our more unruly urges in check. The tech problem: a major disconnect between the ways our brains are wired to connect, and the interface offered in online interactions.

Basically he's saying people are rude on the Internet because we don't get immediate feedback from the person we're being rude to so we don't develop any empathy for them and thence go crashing through the gates of inhibition and off to the Land of Invective. That's an observation people have been making for quite a while, ever since this whole Internet thang got going in a big way. The isolation and anonymity just makes you more likely to rip into someone.
Plus, my own pet theory contributing to this is that people these days tend to treat their written communication as they do speaking. You 'write what you think you're saying' as it were. Trouble is, we think we're also exporting tone of voice and other vocal and visual clues along with the typed words when we're really not. Emoticons and ALL CAPS and italics can sometimes make up for this, but a lot of time, people just don't pay enough attention to how others will actually interpret the words they're writing. Hence, one might think one is making a perfectly humorous, if slightly sarcastic, comment on something someone else has written, which is then interpreted as a slam requiring immediate retaliation. Written communication is, indeed, an art.

So when I refer to post-processual archaeology as fuzzy-headed mentalist claptrap, just throw in some good-natured facial expressions and quit sending email calling me a "*$@% loser of a $)*@&^$* useless piece of $*&@^$ logicial positivist dog*$&%@. So there, you $@($^@(."

Of course, most of you out there don't know this, but the inner voice I was using while writing the above was all done in a French accent akin to Inspector Clouseau.
CSI: Brest (no, this is not another Scarlett Johanssen post)

DNA helps solve mysterious murder case

French police who spent two years trying to identify a woman who was murdered by a blow to the head were relieved to discover the reason their efforts were failing was that the woman died half a millennium ago.

The skeleton of a woman in her thirties was found during an exceptionally low tide in December 2003 near the seaside Brittany town of Plouezoc'h. A long gash in the skull convinced investigators she was killed with a hatchet or other sharp implement.

Police ploughed through missing persons' files to no avail. A theory that the woman was the wife of a Normandy doctor who disappeared with his family in a famous 1999 case was dismissed after DNA tests.

Eventually radiocarbon dating established that the death had occurred between 1401 and 1453.

"We are satisfied because at least we know the date now. We reckon it was pirates," said Francois Gerthosser of the Plourin-les-Morlaix police.

Viking update Vikings filed their teeth, not their nails

Viking warriors filed deep grooves in their teeth, and they probably had to smile broadly to show them off, according to new finds in four major Viking Age cemeteries in Sweden.

Caroline Arcini of Sweden's National Heritage Board and colleagues analysed 557 skeletons of men, women and children from 800 to 1050 AD.

She discovered that 22 of the men bore deep, horizontal grooves across the upper front teeth.

Not much more there than when last this story was posted. Cool picture though.
PhDiva update Linked earlier to an article on one Dorothy King who is opposed to returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece. In that earlier post I was unable to locate a current blog for Dr. King, but reader Charles Jones kindly sent along the proper blog address. Many thanks.

Here is a blog entry referring specifically to the Elgin Marbles.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Field school opportunity One of the Meccas of archaeology, at least from a popular perspective, we relay this email message from Terry Hunt in Hawaii:

Dear Colleagues, Friends, and Students:

This coming summer (2006) we will again offer a University of
be two sessions, 5 June to 5 July and 10 July to 9 August, 2006. For
details, please visit our NEW and updated web pages:

The field school is open to undergraduate and graduate students.
Students will participate in survey, mapping, excavation, geophysical
survey, museum/laboratory analyses, and training Native Rapanui high school
students and community members on the island.

Applications should be made through the U.H. Study Abroad program.
The application DEADLINE is 17 February, 2006. For applications go to:

Please forward this message as appropriate. Thank you very much for
your assistance.

Best Regards,

Terry L. Hunt
Associate Professor
Director, Rapa Nui Archaeological Field School
That's a haul Archeologists Unearth 1,300 Skeletons

A medieval cemetery containing around 1,300 skeletons has been discovered in the central English city of Leicester, archaeologists said Tuesday.

The bones were found during a dig before the site is developed as part of a $630 million shopping mall.

University of Leicester archaeologists say the find promises to shed new light on the way people lived and died in the Middle Ages.

"We think, probably outside London, this must be one of the largest parish graveyards ever excavated," said Richard Buckley, director of University of Leicester Archaeology Services.

More here.

More construction finds Archaeologists advise moving prison after Christian relics found on site

The Antiquities Authority on Tuesday recommended the Meggido Prison be transferred to a new location, after the remains of an ancient church were discovered on the facility's grounds four months ago.

The Antiquities Authority made the recommendation on Tuesday at a meeting with President Moshe Katzav and Christian leaders at the excavation site.

An excavation team last year discovered a mosaic floor on the prison grounds adorned with three inscriptions indicating religious activity from the early Christian period. Some 60 prisoners from Meggido and Tzalmon Prison particpated in the excavation, which was carried out as part of the prison's decision to build new incarceration units on the grounds.

Mystery solved Scientists solve puzzle of death of Pericles

The cause of the plague of Athens in 430BC, which devastated the city and killed up to one-third of the population, including its leader, Pericles, was typhoid fever, scientists believe. Doctors and historians have long speculated about the nature of the disease, which precipitated the end of the golden age of Athens, from the account given by Thucydides. Ebola fever, anthrax, tuberculosis and lassa fever have been suggested as candidates.

"The profound disagreement on the cause of the plague has been due to the lack of definite microbiological or palaeopathological evidence," write Manolis Papagrigorakis of the dental school at the University of Athens, and colleagues. But the discovery of a mass grave dating from the time of the epidemic appears to have solved the mystery.

. . .

The scientists took three teeth at random from the remains in the pit and extracted DNA from the dental pulp. They compared it with sequences from plague, typhus, anthrax, tuberculosis, cowpox and cat-scratch disease, and found a match with typhoid fever.

A UAB research team discovers a new type of building built in Peru over 2000 years ago

A research team from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona has discovered a new type of construction, unknown until now, in the archaeological region of Puntilla, in the province of Nazca, Peru. These yards, built with stone walls, situated in the centre of the village, is where people went to work, either in agricultual or in the crafts. The yards date from the first millenium BC, but their exact date is yet to have been determined.

These results come from the analysis of archaeological excavations in the 2005 La Puntilla Project, which ended last December. The project aims to produce sociological research on the communities living in the Nazca province – where the archaeological area of La Puntilla is situated – on the south coast of Peru in the first millenium BC. The researchers have worked in two sites in the area.

Neolithic Europeans Made Cheese, Yogurt

Dirty cooking pots dating to nearly 8,000 years ago reveal that some of Europe's earliest farming communities produced dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt.

Two separate studies indicate that Neolithic dairying took place in what are now Romania, Hungary and Switzerland.

The discoveries suggest people in these regions might have originally learned how to process milk-based foods from Asian farmers.

Good article, especially describing why they would have cooked milk.

Queen Tiy statue update Here.

And another update On the large necroplis found in Rome, preceding the state of Rome here.

Historic archaeology update Dig Adds to Cherokee "Trail of Tears" History

Archaeologists working in the rugged mountains of southwestern North Carolina are adding new details to the story of a tragedy that took place more than 160 years ago.

The scientists are uncovering the remains of farms and homes belonging to the Cherokee Indians before they were forced to abandon their property and move to Oklahoma.

About 16,000 Cherokee and hundreds of other Native Americans were forced out of North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama in the late 1830s. The event came to be known among the Cherokee as the Trail of Tears.

Brett Riggs, an archaeologist with the University of North Carolina's Research Laboratories of Archaeology, is leading the excavations. He said the relocation of the Indians was a form of ethnic cleansing.

Non-archaeology but interesting Closer to man than ape

They already use basic tools, have rudimentary language and star in TV commercials, but now scientists have proof that chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than other great apes.
Genetic tests comparing DNA from humans, chimps, gorillas and orang-utans reveal striking similarities in the way chimps and humans evolve that set them apart from the others.

The finding adds weight to a controversial proposal to scrap the long-used chimp genus "Pan" and reclassify the animals as members of the human family. The move would give chimps a new place in creation's pecking order alongside humans, the only survivor of the genus Homo.

Basically, they're saying that mutation rates (the molecular clock) in the two genii are more comparable than either are to other apes.

Also more or less non-archaeological Chinese Columbus" Map Likely Fake, Experts Say

A recently unveiled map purporting to show that a Chinese explorer discovered America in 1418 has been met with skepticism from cartographers and historians alike.

The map depicts all of the continents, including Australia, North America, and Antarctica, in rough outline.

An inscription identifies the map as a copy made in 1763 of an original drawn in 1418.

Antiquities collector Liu Gang, who unveiled the map in Beijing last week, says it proves that Chinese seafarer Zheng He discovered America more than 70 years before Christopher Columbus set foot in the New World.

Bog bodies update A bit more on the analysts who examined the bodies reported everywhere in the last week (one had "hair gel") here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

This just in Several stories out on the finding of a statue of Queen Tiy, mother of Akhenaten:

US archaeologists find statue of Akhenaten's mother

A team of US archeologists have discovered a statue depicting Pharaoh Akhenaten's mother, Queen Tiy, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities told AFP.

The team from John Hopkins University found the statue near those of Tiy's husband Amenhotep III in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, the council's Sabri Abdel Aziz said.

The black granite statue measuring 4.5 feet in height and 17 inches in width was found in good condition but the feet are missing, he added.

Official Egyptian givernment announcement here. (Supposedly)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Kinda like the Aquatic Ape Neanderthal man floated into Europe, say Spanish researchers

Spanish investigators believe they may have found proof that neanderthal man reached Europe from Africa not just via the Middle East but by sailing, swimming or floating across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Prehistoric remains of hunter-gatherer communities found at a site known as La Cabililla de Benzú, in the Spanish north African enclave of Ceuta, are remarkably similar to those found in southern Spain, investigators said. Stone tools at the site correspond to the middle palaeolithic period, when neanderthal man emerged, and resemble those found across Spain.

"This could break the paradigm of most investigators, who have refused to believe in any contact in the palaeolithic era between southern Europe and northern Africa," investigator José Ramos explained in the University of Cadiz's research journal.

I jest a bit, but it might not be that far-fetched, given much lower sea levels at the time and perhaps islands scattered throughout the strait.
Elgin Marbles update Return the Marbles? Forget it

Archaeologist Dorothy King, who breaks the mould of the dusty academic, is an outspoken critic of Greek demands to take back the Elgin Marbles from the UK.

"I think she sounds fun," Dorothy King says of Melina Mercouri, "I wish I could have been friends with her - a bit of a drama queen, but aren't we all?"

Ms Mercouri was the Oscar-nominated actress and Greek culture minister who demanded that the UK return the Parthenon sculptures - the Elgin Marbles - "in the name of fairness and morality".

But standing firm against her is Dr King, who argues in her new book against repatriating the Marbles. Like Ms Mercouri, she is a colourful character. She is irreverent and feisty, with a blog called PhDiva, and she speaks her mind on a range of issues in newspaper columns and on TV.

Not sure wh this person is, specifically, or what her claim to authority is. I checked out her blog here but it seems a bit outdated (the last entry is March 2005). Great name though, PhDiva. Heh.
Video! National Geographic has a video showing some recent excavations at Jamestown. In connection with The New World movie.

Update: Another story here on the language used in the film.
No, just the artifacts, please Antiquities Act: Task of recovering stolen artifacts, an increasingly dangerous duty

In April 2004, an interagency group of law-enforcement officers descended on a drab-looking house in the tiny village of San Rafael, southwest of Grants, with search warrants in hand.

They were looking for evidence that the homeowner, Augustine Chavez, was involved in trafficking a pair of ancient Indian leggings woven from human hair. The leggings could have fetched $250,000 on the black market, according to agents.

Officers knocked on the door and repeatedly said they had a warrant to search the house. Chavez ran out the back door, right into other agents. "Are you here for the meth?" he asked surprised officers, according to a federal-court affidavit.
Archeologists unearth 3,200-year-old woman in Vietnam

Archeologists in northern Vietnam have unearthed the skeleton of a young woman buried at least from 3,200-3,700 years ago, local media reported Monday.

The discovery is one of the oldest human remains found in archeological sites documenting the emergence of Vietnamese civilization during the Bronze Age in the Red River delta.

The skeleton, believed to be of a woman age 20-30 when she died, was discovered Sunday in a tomb being excavated in Phu Tho province, 80 kilometres west of Hanoi, according to the on-line newspaper VN Express.
Millets older than wheat, rice: Archaeologists

“It is ironical that whenever we are talking about ancient civilasations and farming communities, the archaeological finds and reseaches have always been based on wheat and rice. Findings prove that millets have been cultivated even more than wheat and rice and can be helpful be identifying the real period and place of first farming.’’

Giving this opinion, Steve Weber of Washington State University and Dorian Q Fuller of the Institute of Archaeology, London say that archaeologists and researches across the world have always been biased towards millets.

‘‘These are the facts. In Southern India, millets were being cultivated as old as 3000 BC to 2500 BC, while rice came into existence only by 500 BC. and in North India, millet cultivation was even there before it made an entry in South India’’ said Fuller.

Digging for a Subway, but Hitting a Wall, Again

Workers digging up Battery Park for a 21st-century subway station keep bumping into the 18th century at every turn.

For the second time in a few months, workers have uncovered a stone wall that archaeologists believe has stood near the southern tip of Manhattan since New York was a British colony. Like the one found in November, this wall stands in the way of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's plan to replace the South Ferry station, where the No. 1 train turns around to head back uptown.

City officials said they did not yet have a clear idea of when the second wall was built or what its purpose was. But they have agreed that it, like the first one, is historically significant and must be preserved.

Eh, no commentary on these. More later this evening. Probably.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

News from the EEF

Press report: "Coptic Museum countdown"
Tour through the reconstructed Coptic Museum that is
about to be officially re-opened.
"No other museum in the world can boast such an exclusive
collection of Coptic antiquities as ours, but it has not been
our aim to put all our 14,000 objects on display. It has been
to combine medium and subject matter, carefully to select
each object for display and group them in a manner that
casts light on Egypt's rich Coptic heritage and its continuity."

Press report: "Old Kingdom art: Rare Egyptian sculpture
puts a human face on a remote civilization"
"The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, set a world
record when it bought this ancient Egyptian limestone sculpture
at auction Dec. 9 (...) this "Group Statue of Ka-nefer and His
Family," which sold for $2,816,000. " For the buy and the
statue, see EEFNEWS (385).

Review (by Peter C. Nadig) of:
Anthony J. Spalinger, War in Ancient Egypt. Ancient World at War Series.
Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. Pp. 291. ISBN 1-4051-1372-3.
$29.95 (pb).

End of EEF news
Underwater archaeology update Archaeologists plumb depths of ancient spring

Watching Casey Coy and Rick Gomez prepare to dive into Little Salt Spring is like observing a pilot getting ready for takeoff.

Step by step, the two divers painstakingly review their equipment, instruments and procedures before taking the plunge into the prehistoric underwater site.

They say such meticulousness is imperative: When you're 242 feet underwater, there's no time for mistakes or miscommunication.
Book review Book Review: Catalhoyuk – The Goddess and the Bull

A new book on archaeology makes the claim that "our understanding of our own origins was changed forever" by a very significant dig in Turkey. Michael Balter, author of "The Goddess and the Bull: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization," is a correspondent for the journal "Science." His book is a semi-official "biography" of an archaeological dig in Turkey. But is more than just that. It is three books in one – a history of the dig and the personalities of the archaeologists and other scientists who have conducted it, a history of archaeological theory over the last forty or so years, and finally, not least, a discussion of what the dig tells us about our past.

As for our past, there were extravagant claims made for some of the finds first reported from the site such as evidence for "goddess" worship, a society dominated by women (at least in the cult), the early domestication of certain food species, etc., upon which later investigations have cast doubts.

Nevertheless Balter thinks this dig changed our ideas about our origins.

Pretty good review of the theoretical and cultural (of archaeologists) milieu that has surrounded the work at Catalhoyuk over the years. I've got a couple of quibbles here and there but nothing substantial and all having to do with more ore less esoteric theoretical concepts. But it gives a pretty good, if brief, overview of the whole Processual/Post-processual argument. Matter of fact, it really gets to the core of the dillema archaeology has faced for years: A lack of an adequate scientific theory. To be science, a theory must contain some empirical referents for its theoretical concepts. That's been archaeology's main sticking point. We want -- largely because we're trained as cultural anthropologists -- to study things like "behavior", "beliefs", "social structures" and such, but we have rarely made the relation between those concepts and the actual objects we study -- rocks and stones and sticks and bones -- either explicit or empirically defensible.

So we've either tried to apply physics-like theory to artifacts and simply assume they represent what we want them to represent (Processual) or we make the meanings we assign to artifacts the objects of study and not worry about whether or not there is any logical relation to the supposed empirical referents (Post-processual).

One could argue that the Post-processualists are, in a sense, closer to true science than the processualists since they explicitly link theory to the units of study. Trouble is, that makes it rather devoid of any sort of empirical import. In a way, they don't even need artifacts to study. The Processualists had the opposite problem: lots of artifacts and measurements, but little to link it with the theory they were trying to develop.
Evidence suggests slavery at African burial ground

Physical evidence from the site of an African burial ground dating back to the 1700s supports the belief that the people buried there were slaves, an archaeological report has revealed.

A more than 100-page study by Independent Archaeological Consulting said that one of the eight bodies unearthed from the former cemetery on Chestnut Street showed signs of repetitive forearm rotation and possible inflammation in the right leg.

Archaeologists said this is "presumably from repeated shoveling, heavy lifting or other strenuous work."
Secret of ancient Athens plague is being unraveled

Recent findings from a mass grave in the Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos in central Athens show typhoid fever may have caused the plague of Athens, ending centuries of speculation about what kind of disease killed a third of the city’s population and contributed to the end of its Golden Age.

Examined by a group of Greek scientists coordinated by Dr Manolis Papagrigorakis of Athens University’s School of Dentistry, the findings provide clear evidence that Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi was present in the dental pulp of teeth recovered in remains from the mass grave.

The plague that decimated the population of Athens in 430-426 BC was a deciding factor in the outcome of the Peloponnesian Wars, ending the Golden Age of Pericles and Athens’s predominance in the Mediterranean.
Two Roman stories: School dig uncovers Roman grave

A Roman grave has been uncovered during building works at a school in Cheddar in Somerset.

Construction of the new IT block at the Kings of Wessex School was paused when the skeleton was found during digging of a gas main.

Experts believe it be of a man aged about 50, who was buried in a coffin and was probably a pagan.

County council archaeologist, Steven Membery, described the discovery as a "really significant find."

Archaeologists Find Tomb Under Roman Forum

Archaeologists digging beneath the Roman Forum have discovered a 3,000-year-old tomb that pre-dates the birth of ancient Rome by several hundred years.

State TV Thursday night showed an excavation team removing vases from the tomb, which resembled a deep well.

Archaeologists were excavating under the level of the ancient forum, a popular tourist site, when they dug up the tomb, which they suspect is part of an entire necropolis, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Actually, that second one is more interesting as it's from right before the traditional founding of Rome. Interesting to see if they find more and what sort of "culture" they're ascribed to. Not much in the article to suggest any cultural affiliation.

Update: Seek and ye shall find: Necropolis tomb hailed as milestone find

Archaeologists said Friday they have spied what appears to be the roof of another tomb in a 3000-year-old necropolis, the latest discovery about a little-known, hut-dwelling people who preceded the legendary founders of Rome by some three centuries.

Archaeologist Alessandro Delfino said the roof is just meters away from a tomb he discovered and dug up on Thursday that appears to date to about 1 000 BC. The location was under Caesar's Forum, which is part of the sprawling complex of Imperial Forums in the heart of modern Rome.

Still no indication of any culture with a name. Obviously some sort of hierarchical society there though based on the monumental tombs.
Fashion corner Ancient dress made from bark found

It was a collection of seven bark dresses, made from a hundred years ago.

According to experts, making a tree dress is very difficult. First, skilful artisan is chosen to get the bark from the Pi, a tree in the Central Highlands. He would not chop down the tree, just pare round it and take a layer of bark.

At home, the artisan’s partner prepared cask of boiling water, with spices such as ginger, sugar-cane, and citronella. The tree skin would then be soaked in the water in 10 days to release its poisons. It would then be dried for a week and restored. On the 14th day of a lunar month, people would take it and sew into clothing.It was a collection of seven bark dresses, made from a hundred years ago.

According to experts, making a tree dress is very difficult. First, skilful artisan is chosen to get the bark from the Pi, a tree in the Central Highlands. He would not chop down the tree, just pare round it and take a layer of bark.

At home, the artisan’s partner prepared cask of boiling water, with spices such as ginger, sugar-cane, and citronella. The tree skin would then be soaked in the water in 10 days to release its poisons. It would then be dried for a week and restored. On the 14th day of a lunar month, people would take it and sew into clothing.

Actually kind of boring as it's only from a century ago.
Bosnian pyramid update Australian in Bosnia pyramid riddle

Australian archaeologist Royce Richards is among a team preparing to look for the truth behind a theory that Bosnia-Herzegovina has an ancient pyramid.

Archaeologists from Australia, Scotland, Ireland, Austria, and Slovenia will begin excavation work in April on the Visocica hill, 32 kilometres north-west of Sarajevo.

The hill is quite symmetrical, and the theory that it was once a pyramid is supported by preliminary investigations.

If true, it would rewrite world history, putting Europe alongside South America and of course Egypt as homes of ancient pyramids.

Actually, not much new information here, just a bit of an Aussie angle.
More on the hair-gelled Celt Hair-gelled Celt may have been sacrificed

THE hair-gelled head of an ancient Celt, dubbed the Iron Age Beckham because of his slicked-back look, has been reconstructed by Scots scientists.

Examinations of the Clonycavan man, found fully preserved in a peat bog in Ireland, revealed he used a gel made from a mixture of plant oil and pine resin, believed to be from south-west France or Spain, on his hair.

The discovery has been held up as the first evidence of the trade of luxury goods between Ireland and Southern Europe 2,500 years ago.

Artist's conception of what the hair-gelled Celt may have looked like:

No, really.
Ancient lakes of the Sahara

The Sahara has not always been the arid, inhospitable place that it is today – it was once a savannah teeming with life, according to researchers at the Universities of Reading and Leicester.

Eight years of studies in the Libyan desert area of Fazzan, now one of the harshest, most inaccessible spots on Earth, have revealed swings in its climate that have caused considerably wetter periods, lasting for thousands of years, when the desert turned to savannah and lakes provided water for people and animals.

This, in turn, has given us vital clues about the history of humans in the area and how these ancient inhabitants coped with climate change as the land began to dry up around them again.

In their article ‘Ancient lakes of the Sahara’, which appears in the January-February issue of American Scientist magazine, Dr Kevin White of the University of Reading and Professor David Mattingly of the University of Leicester explain how they used satellite technology and archaeological evidence to reveal new clues about both the past environment of the Sahara and of human prehistory in the area.

The original article is pretty good, but the online one is subscriber-only. If you have a sub to this fine magazine (American Scientist) check it out.
China update China launches belated archaeological rescue

A $12 billion project to construct three canals and divert 44 billion cubic metres of water threatens massive destruction

China is mounting a massive operation to rescue cultural relics from hundreds of archaeological sites threatened by the South-North Water Diversion project, a hugely ambitious 100 billion yuan ($12.4 billion) scheme to divert 44 billion cubic metres of water from the Yangtze River every year to the arid northern provinces along three canals running through the eastern, central, and western parts of the country. Each of the canals is over 750 miles in length. So great is the urgency of the rescue mission that almost all other archaeological activities in China have been suspended so that archaeologists from across the country can concentrate on the sites in the path of the canals.
Neanderthal update New Study Reveals Neanderthals Were As Good At Hunting As Early Modern Humans

The disappearance of Neanderthals is frequently attributed to competition from modern humans, whose greater intelligence has been widely supposed to make them more efficient as hunters. However, a new study forthcoming in the February issue of Current Anthropology argues that the hunting practices of Neanderthals and early modern humans were largely indistinguishable, a conclusion leading to a different explanation, also based on archaeological data, to explain the disappearance of the Neanderthals. This study has important implications for debates surrounding behavioral evolution and the practices that eventually allowed modern humans like ourselves to displace other closely-related species.

"Each population was equally and independently capable of acquiring and exploiting critical information pertaining to animal availability and behavior," write the anthropologists, from the University of Connecticut, University of Haifa, Hebrew University, and Harvard University.

Paper ins't online yet so no further information than this.
Humans remains unearthed in Miami form picture of Tequesta Indian life

Ancient Florida history is meeting the modern building boom in downtown Miami, where archaeological excavations at two construction sites have unearthed 2,000-year-old human remains.

Archaeologists said the discoveries are helping them piece together what life was like for the ancestors of the Tequesta Indians, who lived at the mouth of the Miami River in what is now the Brickell section of Miami.

Archaeologists had previously found evidence of a village in the area, but not a cemetery. The remains are evidence of such burial grounds.

Update of an earlier blurb.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Photo in the News: Iron Age "Bog Man" Used Imported Hair Gel

Fancy imported hair gel is, unfortunately, no guard against a good solid axe blow to the skull.

This sad fact is illuminated by Clonycavan man (pictured above) who suffered three blows from an axe to his head, one to his chest, and was also disemboweled before being mummified in an Irish peat bog.

Experts studying the remains of the murder victim say he likely lived between 392 B.C. and 201 B.C. The man's hair contains a substance made from vegetable oil mixed with resin from pine trees found in Spain and southwest France. The man might have used the product, researchers say, to make himself appear taller.

More detailed story linked here.

Pretty grisly stuff in the latter one. Of course, we don't know in what order the particular wounds were inflicted, so it may be that it wasn't 'torture' per se but perhaps ritual defilement. After all, one good axe blow to the head would probably wipe you out right off the bat, so anything after that would be sorta moot.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Okay, back to the dull stuff. . . .

Bosnian pyramid update Andie over at Egyptology News Blog sent a couple of links over on the recently discovered "pyramid" in Bosnia:

Gigantic ancient pyramid in Europe managed to escape experts’ notice

Archaeologists working in Visoko, Bosnia-Herzegovina, about 20 miles northwest of Sarajevo, discovered what might prove to be a European pyramid four times taller that the Great Pyramid of Egypt.

Bosnian archaeologist Semir Osmanagic, in an interview with the Associated Press, cautioned against jumping to conclusions, but preliminary investigations suggest some ancient culture, perhaps the Bronze Age Illyrian people, carved a natural hill into a pyramidal shape. The hill is 2,120 feet high and, according to Osmanagic, has "all the elements" of an artificial structure: "four perfectly shaped slopes pointing toward the cardinal points, a flat top and an entrance complex."

The pyramid also has its own web site:

The Bosnia Pyramid, Visocica Hill, is the first European pyramid to be discovered and is located in the heart of Bosnia, in the town of Visoko. The pyramid has all the elements: four perfectly shaped slopes pointing toward the cardinal points, a flat top and an entrance complex. There are also the ruins of a Medieval walled town, once the base of a Bosnian king. Because of its similarities to the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico, it has been named the “Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun” ('Bosanska Piramida Sunca'). There is also a smaller pyramid on the site, the Bosnian Pyramid of the Moon ('Bosanska Piramida Mjeseca ').

Not sure about all of the claims being made about this thing (or these things as the case may be). At base, they seem to be naturally conical-shaped hills that were modified in some degree to be more pyramidal in shape. The latter link above has several photos of the area. We'll just have to wait until more detailed analyses are done on the structures to decide just what the heck they are and to what degree they were modified.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This just in. . . Scarlett Johansson Likes Archaeology

Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson is less than concerned about whether her movie career hits the rocks, as she always wanted to be an archeologist.

The Lost In Translation star is intrigued by the mysteries of Egypt, and would be quite happy staring at stones if the film work dries up.

She says, "If I weren't making movies, I'd be an archeologist, looking for fossils. I love ancient Egypt. Cut to me in 120-degree heat, picking at a rock with a four-inch needle."

That's the whole thing.

There are a lot of things I could say at this point. Many of those things would get me in trouble with colleagues. Mostly female colleagues. But, by golly, if ever we want more young, strapping men to join this profession, this'll do it.

Artists' conception of what Scarlett Johansson might have looked like as an archaeologist:

(Note: Yes, archaeologists don't really hunt for "fossils" -- that would be paleontologists -- but you're not gonna catch me complaining about a slip like that)

Update: We follow this important story with a further update on Ms. Johansson's views on hominid mating behavior. This is a vitally important subject since it strikes at the core of many archaeological concepts such as population growth ratesand densities, carrying capacity, familial relations and how they affect settlement patterns, and the division of labor among both egalitarian and hierarchical societies.

Johansson doesn’t believe in monogamy

Scarlett Johansson says she doesn’t believe in monogamy — that people weren’t meant to be with just one person. But she also says she wouldn’t date her “Match Point” co-star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers — because he’s too much like a girl.

“I don’t think human beings are monogamous creatures by nature,” she told reporters while promoting the flick. Still, Johansson says, she hasn’t given up on the idea of getting hitched one day. “When I decide I want to have children with somebody I think it would be nice to be married to that person,” Johansson says.

So, very attractive female, out in the field on a dig, and doesn't believe in monogamy.

There just very well could be a God. . . .

Artists' conception of what Scarlett Johansson may have looked like doing. . . .errrr. . .something. . . .

(HT: Ace of Spades)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Experts Prepare Excavation on Greek Island

British and Greek archaeologists are preparing a major excavation on a tiny Greek island to try to explain why it produced history's largest collection of Cycladic flat-faced marble figurines.

Artwork from barren Keros inspired such artists as Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore but also attracted ruthless looters. Now experts are seeking insight into the island's possible role as a major religious center of the enigmatic Cycladic civilization some 4,500 years ago.

Excavations will run April through June.

Picture of said figurines:
N.M. Excavations Uncover Acequia History

Excavations of a long-buried arroyo and four acequias are giving Santa Fe more information about its historic ditch system and what the community was like hundreds of years ago.

"In 1610, when they first started colonizing this place, the first things they did were build a church and start digging acequias," said Chris Wenker, project manager with the state Office of Archaeological Studies. "It created this spider web of canals on both sides of the river -- a vast web of canals that is almost completely lost now."

Wenker believes the acequias and arroyos being excavated were part of the acequia madre, Santa Fe's historic main irrigation ditch, and of arroyo Tenorio, a natural waterway that was channeled and diverted sometime before 1812.
Researcher discovers old jaguar relief in Peru

A Japanese researcher has recently excavated a large relief depicting two jaguars from the ruins of a Peruvian temple built in about 750 B.C., The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The relief is 2.8 meters high and is in a temple in the Huaca Partida ruins in northern Peru.

"It's the largest known relief dating from this ancient Andean civilization to show animals," said Koichiro Shibata, a researcher at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, who conducted the excavation.

This will probably make the news rounds more in the next few weeks.
And still more controversy
Tooth marks link Vikings, Indians

A scientist who found deep grooves chiselled into the teeth of dozens of 1,000-year-old Viking skeletons unearthed in Sweden believes the strange custom might have been learned from aboriginal tribes during ancient Norse voyages to North America -- a finding that would represent an unprecedented case of transatlantic, cross-cultural exchange during the age of Leif Ericsson.

The marks are believed to be decorations meant to enhance a man's appearance, or badges of honour for a group of great warriors or successful tradesmen. They are the first historical examples of ceremonial dental modification ever found in Europe, and although similar customs were practised in Asia and Africa over the centuries, the Swedish anthropologist who studied the Viking teeth is exploring the possibility that trips to Newfoundland and other parts of the New World a millennium ago introduced the Norsemen to tooth-carving styles being carried out at that time in the Americas.

Interesting, but the American origina of the marks seems to have been overplayed. The paper in question (link might not work) doesn't make a whole lot of this possible connection, mostly just stating that the marks are similar to some found in the New World from about the same time. However, the examples given in the paper are from Illinois, Arizona, and Georgia; all very far from the only place we know Scandinavians made landfall in the New World. Mostly it makes for an interesting parallel.
Oldest hominid skull in Australia found near Bega

THE endocast of a primitive hominid-like skull was recovered from among the rubble of a volcanic plug in the Bega district in May 2005

The find could suggest that a race of ancestral hominids had evolved in Australia from tree-dwelling primate ancestors by seven million years ago. This is well before our primate ancestors supposedly left the trees for a terrestrial existence in Africa around six million years ago!

The fossil was discovered by noted prehistory researcher Rex Gilroy of Katoomba NSW, where he operates the 'Australian-Pacific Archaeological Research Centre'.

He discovered the fossil projecting from the base of a volcanic deposit while researching volcanic sites on the NSW far south coast.

Well, that's interesting. Certain to be controversial, too.
Lost civilization state. . .. found early 3,000-year-old ancient state found in north China province

A small ancient state dating back nearly 3,000 years, which was never recorded in historical documents, has been discovered in north China's Shanxi Province.

Archaeologists deduced the existence of the previously unknown state, Peng, from inscriptions on bronzeware excavated from two ancient Western Zhou Dynasty tombs (1100 BC-771 BC).

The owners of the two tombs, discovered in Hengshui Town of Jiangxian County in Shanxi Province, were the ruler of the state, Pengbo (meaning Count of Peng State), and his wife.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cannibalism update Research: Donners didn't resort to cannibalism

There's no physical evidence that the family who gave the Donner Party its name had anything to do with the cannibalism the ill-fated pioneers have been associated with for a century and a half, two scientists said Thursday.

Cannibalism has been documented at the Sierra Nevada site where most of the Donner Party's 81 members were trapped during the brutal winter of 1846-47, but 21 people, including all the members of the George and Jacob Donner families, were stuck six miles away because a broken axle had delayed them.

No cooked human bones were found among the thousands of fragments of animal bones at that Alder Creek site, suggesting Donner family members did not resort to cannibalism, the archaeologists said at a conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology in Sacramento, California.

Others, cited later on in the article, suggest it's not a slam dunk. One thing though: It's unfortunate that our cultural trajectory has such an overarching negative view of cannibalism, such that descendants aho weren't even involved in the actual event have this to say:

"We are thrilled and relieved," said Lochie Paige, the great-granddaughter of Eliza Donner, daughter of George Donner.

"Their findings, in my mind, completely exonerate her from having any part in cannibalism," she said from her California home Thursday.

It's not really such a ghoulish practice as we tend to view it as. In some cases, such as we're seeing in the southwest U.S., it may have been used as a terror practice. In many cases, however, it's almost accepted as a matter of course that consuming at least part of another person after death makes them, literally and figuratively, part of you. What's done is done.

And if eating each other weren't bad enough Researcher: Birds hunted ancient man

An American researcher said Thursday his investigation into the death nearly 2 million years ago of an ape-man shows human ancestors were hunted by birds.

"These types of discoveries give us real insight into the past lives of these human ancestors, the world they lived in and the things they feared," Lee Berger, a paleo-anthropologist at Johannesburg's University of Witwatersrand, said as he presented his conclusions about a mystery that has been debated since the remains of the possible human ancestor known as the Taung child were discovered in 1924.

The Taung child's discovery led to the search for human origins in Africa, instead of in Asia or Europe as once theorized. Researchers regard the fossil of the ape-man, or australopethicus africanus, as evidence of the "missing link" in human evolution.

Well, that's kind of interesting. Might not be of any wide-ranging significance though. It appears that only this one skull of a child has been found to have been preyed upon by a bird. I consider it doubtful that adults were thusly preyed upon as well, just because of the size difference and the thickness of the skull in adults (the article says the bird would womp a critter in the (back of the?) head with its talons and then wait for it to die). I believe other Australo. skulls have been found with definite signs of predation by cats, so whether this is an isolated kill on a young'un or evidence of widespread raptor predation is still open.

Missed this (HT to Hawks) Discover magazine is putting all its archaeology stories in one place, apparently freely accessible.

And this just in. . . Archaeologists Find 'Unusual' Indian Burial Site In Downtown Miami: Crypt-Like Graves Never Observed In Region Before, Archaeologists Say

Archaeologists excavating two American Indian burial sites in downtown Miami said they have found hundreds of remains piled in limestone fissures -- some of the bones stacked in limestone boxes.

"In terms of the rest of Florida, we've never seen anything that's been the same," state archaeologist Ryan Wheeler said. "It's a very unusual mode of burial."

The bone piles were discovered in at least five fissures, according to archaeologist Robert Carr, director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

This weeks news from the EEF

Press report: "Egypt's ancient treasures expanding, luring more tourists and intrigues"
An interview with Dr Zahi Hawass in two parts. The first part is notably about the mummy finds in the Bahariya Oasis, narrated with some detail:
The second part is about the Valley of the Kings and Giza:
Notable detail is that he hopes to find intact parts(?) of the tomb of Seti I.

Press report: "New museums for all"
"This year will witness the inauguration of up to five new regional
and national museums [in Egypt] and the re-opening of three
others after restoration and development to bring them up to
international standards."

Press reports: "First World Visitors Center opens in Valley of Kings"
"The LE 20 million project aims to protect more than 60 royal
tombs in the area. It is also meant to highlight history of the
antiquities in the area as well as raising the citizens' awareness."

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner]
Digitized books from Digital General Collection, University of Michigan
-- John Gardner Wilkinson, A popular account of the ancient Egyptians, vol.
I, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1854. XVI, 419 pp.

-- John Gardner Wilkinson, A popular account of the ancient Egyptians, vol.
II, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1854. X, 436 pp.
"The present account of the 'Ancient Egyptians' is chiefly an abridgment of
that written by me in 1836; to which I have added other matter, in
consequence of my having revisited Egypt, and later discoveries having been
made, since that time."

Blake L. White, "Ancient Egypt Provides an Early Example of How
A Society's Worldview Drives Engineering and the Development
of Science", The Strategic Technology Institute, 2003. Online paper
in PDF (97 kB):
"An examination of Egyptian engineering and science, principally during the
OK and MK, shows that religion drove the development of, and was
reflected by, their monumental architecture. These architectural wonders
served as a societal organizing principle and demonstrated the power of
the state (..). In addition, the supporting sciences, such as mathematics,
astronomy, geography, and medicine all had practical purposes in
support of the Egyptian religious worldview."

Álvaro Figueiredo, "The Lisbon Mummy Project: The employment of
non-destructive methods in mummy studies" (UCL). Online paper in
PDF (225 kB):
Outline of the Lisbon Mummy Project (in progress) and a description of the
Egyptian mummies in the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia (MNA) in Lisbon.

Rick Parker, "The Coffin of Paseshes: A Treatment".
Online paper in PDF (571 kB):
About the treatment of a damaged Egyptian Late Period (800 BC) coffin
as conducted by Parker Conservation, Inc., plus a detailed history of
(and complete translation of the texts on) the coffin. The coffin
is now on display in the Arkansas Museum of Science and History.

End of EEF news
Give it back! Archaeologist pledges – again – to return ring

After being thwarted repeatedly by ill health and hurricanes, retired East Carolina University archaeologist David Phelps said he will return a priceless 16th-century gold signet ring to the school by the end of January.

Phelps had last assured the school that he would bring the ring and other artifacts from his digs at the site of the Croatan chiefdom in Buxton back to the university in December.

T he veteran archaeologist said that bad weather at his Florida home hindered his travel plans. He has had the ring since 1998.

More here.

New N5 … a highway to the past

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working on the €63 million Charlestown bypass are uncovering rich seams of information on Mayo’s historic past.
The eighteen kilometre stretch of modern roadway, which will stretch from the Swinford bypass to Carracastle, west of Ballaghaderreen, has unearthed what is described as a “treasure trove” of archaeological material.
Indications of pre-historic settlements have been unearthed at Cloonaghboy (Swinford); Sonnagh (Charlestown); Madogue (Swinford) and Castleduff (Carracastle).
But a site at Lowpark, near the GAA pitch at Charlestown, is a double delight. It was apparently a settlement during the Neolithic (2.500 years B.C.) as well as during the early Christian ( 500-900 A.D.) periods.

The site has a picture of the 'souterrain'.

News from Iraq New Equipment for Iraqi ArcheologistsM

Polish soldiers provided computers and specialist equipment for Iraqi students from the archaeology faculty, Diwaniyah University.

The new equipment will help students in scientific research. This project was undertaken to support the process of protecting Iraqi historical monuments.

Thanks to MultiNational Division Central-South, in the beginning of 2006, the archaeology department of the University in Ad Diwaniyah city received 25 computers and a satellite internet server. Equipment was provided to laboratories including measurement apparatus and a power generator. Around one hundred Iraqi archeology students will benefit from this project.

International archaeology congress kicks off in Osaka

The Inter-Congress of the World Archaeological Congress, being held for the first time in East Asia at the Osaka Museum of History in Chuo Ward, Osaka, will welcome more than 300 archaeologists from about 30 countries from Thursday to Sunday.

The organization, formed in 1986, is a worldwide body of archaeologists with the goal of fostering international cooperation and interaction. Its inter-congress is an event to bridge the major international congresses held every four years.

The event, "Coexistence in the Past--Dialogues in the Present," will include discussions on important issues and presentations under various subthemes, such as archaeology in schools and education.

Archaeologists tour Garamendi Ranch

A band of 30 historical archaeologists, looking for a break from the tedium of scuba diving in shipwrecks or digging up ancient castles, pulled up here Wednesday in a big green tour bus.

They munched sandwiches inside this historic hamlet's library and confessed to being charmed by the Mother Lode's rusting ore-stamping mills and the weirdly eroded hills left behind by placer mining.

"It's been well worth coming," said Harold Mytum of the University of York in Great Britain, who usually spends his time digging up 2,500-year-old pre-Roman settlements in Wales.

Mytum is one of hundreds of archaeologists - both underwater and terrestrial - who are in Sacramento this week for the annual conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Eh, kind of an uninformative article.

Say, more Chinese tombs. . . 1,900-year old tombs excavated in SW China

Chinese archaeologists have discovered six tombs in Yunyang County dating back more than 1,900 years, and unearthed a large number of pottery utensils. Yunyang County is in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

Located in Jiangkou Town, the brick tombs are in knife, square and triangular shapes. Archaeologists discovered that the earth around these tombs had been pounded and were surprised to see that the tomb bricks were carved with fine patterns of net strings, rhombus and animals.

Cao Kuanning, who participated in the recent excavation at the site, said judging from the size of the tombs, the building materials and the funeral objects - the tombs belonged to a family from the Wang Mang period (45 B.C. - 23 A.D.) in the early Eastern Han Dynasty.

"Though we are not sure who the owners of the tombs were, it is clear the family enjoyed a high social status," said Cao.

The tombs are of great significance in studying social life during the Eastern Han Dynasty and provide evidence for studying ancient funerals in the area, he said.

That's the whole thing.

Has anyone else noticed that at the bottom of every Xinhuanet story there are links to stories involving attractive and usually scantily-clad (and almost always Western) women?

New archaeological discovery rewrites Hong Kong's history of human activity

Archaeologists have discovered a new site of human activity in remote antiquity in Sai Kung, Hong Kong.

Zhang Shenshui, researcher of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua here Wednesday that the important archaeological discovery not only rewrites the history when Hong Kong began having human activity, but also puts forward new topics of research for archaeologists.

More than 6,000 artifacts have been unearthed at the site, which is located at the Wong Tei Tung of Sai Kung, covering 8,000 square meters. The site was a field for stone artifacts making in the Paleolithic era ranging from 35,000 years to 39,000 years ago.

The significance of the discovery lies in the fact that, as the only discovery in Hong Kong from the Paleolithic era, it changes the traditional view that Hong Kong had no human activity until the Neolithic era.

Still more from China 12 archeological sites unearthed in Beijing

Archeologists have discovered 12 cultural heritage sites and ancient tombs during the construction of the Beijing section of the south-to-north water diversion project.

Excavation has started to unearth the relic sites, which are located near Nanzheng village in Fangshan district, southwest Beijing.

At Nanzheng heritage site, one of the biggest covering 6,100 square meters, archeologists have unearthed, after two weeks of excavation, 10 tombs and three pottery kilns that date back to the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties (206 BC - AD 220), said Zhang Zhiqiang, who is in charge of archeological work along the 80-kilometer-long Beijing section of the water diversion project.

The site contains large quantities of bronze and ceramic wares and ancient coins, he said.

Fight! Fight! Parish ‘shocked’ at plan to relocate 500 skeletons

PEOPLE living in the rural Co Laois parish of Cullahill have expressed outrage that the National Roads Authority is pressing ahead with its plan to relocate 500 skeletons uncovered by archaeologists working on the route of the proposed new M7 motorway.

Local priest Fr Willie Hennessy said: “Local people here are shocked that the burial site of their ancestors which remained undisturbed for 1,500 years is now being desecrated.”

Initial investigation by a team of archaeologists suggests that the previously unknown 7th century settlement at Parknahown near Cullahill became a major burial site by the 9th or 10th century.

“All the people living here feel that this historical site should be preserved,” Fr Hennessy stated.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Discover Greek Temple In Albania Dating Back To 6th Century B.C.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati’s Classics faculty are
preparing to make their first public presentation of details surrounding their
find of one of the earliest Greek temples in the Adriatic region north of

The UC researchers, along with colleagues from the International Centre for
Albanian Archaeology and the Institute of Archaeology, Tirana, will be
presenting on their new work on Friday, Jan. 6, 2006, in Montreal at the annual
meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

"This is a case where a hunch about the potential of a site is paying off in the
discovery of a temple that has extraordinary and singular importance to Albanian
archaeology and to the history of Greek colonization in the Adriatic Sea
region," says Jack L. Davis, the Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology
at the University of Cincinnati and co-director of the international research
team working at the site. "We are gaining the tools for an understanding of
religious life in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., a part of the early history of
Apollonia of which little is known."

I'm refraining from making an Apollonia joke here.

Unique burial style identified at Iran's Burnt City

The team of archaeologists currently working at the Burnt City
unearthed two graves in which big bowls were used to cover the bodies of two
stillborn fetuses, the Persian service of CHN reported.

The recent discovery has been a great surprise for the archaeologists since it
is so different from the other graves at the site.

The Burnt City covers an area of 150 hectares and was one of the world?s largest
cities at the dawn of the urban era. It was built circa 3200 BC and destroyed
some time around 2100 BC. The city had four stages of civilization and was burnt
down three times. Since it was not rebuilt after the last blaze, it has been
named the Burnt City.

tomb discovered in Shanxi

A tomb dating back about 700 years has been discovered recently in
Yuncheng City, north China's Shanxi Province, local archaeologist said on

The tomb, dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), was unearthed by
workers constructing a road at Wulingzhuang Village in Xinjiang County of
Yuncheng City.

Two chambers and a corridor, which links the tomb's front compartment with
the back one, formed the underground brick work structure.

The walls of both chambers were decorated with patterns of figures and
paintings of flowers and fruits.

Chinese poems, signatures and dates were inscribed at different sites of
the corridor, local archaeologist said.

More Maya writing New Find Pushes Back Date of Mayan Writing

Poking through some of the innermost rubble of an ancient pyramid
known as Las Pinturas in San Bartolo, Guatemala, graduate student Boris Beltrán
uncovered a boulder-size chunk of plaster. Mayan builders had created the
boulder when constructing the third version of Las Pinturas, following their
practice of supporting subsequent structures with the ruined remnants of the
preceding pyramid. This particular fragment happened to be part of an ancient
mural and thick black hieroglyphics ran down its side, following a faint
pinkish-orange guideline. "When he showed it to me, I asked him: 'Do you know
what you have there?'" recalls team leader William Saturno of the University of
New Hampshire. "'That is likely the earliest text in the Maya era. It is likely
among the earliest texts in the New World as a whole.'"

There was something like this about a month ago, but don't know if it's the same

Update: Yeah, it was from a week or so ago: NY Times story.

Dam it href="">Race to save first kingdoms in Africa from dam waters

They built more pyramids than the Egyptians, invented the world's first "rock" music, and were as bloodthirsty as the Aztecs when it came to human sacrifices.

Yet ever since their demise at the hands of a vengeful pharaoh, the
pre-Christian civilisations of ancient Sudan have been overshadowed by their
Egyptian northern neighbours. Now, the race is on to excavate black Africa's
first great kingdoms - before some of their heartlands are submerged for ever.

In a highly controversial move, the Sudanese government is planning to flood a
vast stretch of the southern Nile valley as part of plans for a big
hydro-electric dam at Merowe, near what was once the ancient city of

Revere: Rio Nuevo dig opens a window on our history

This historic ground was just another paved lot for parking cars
only a month ago.

Today, the dusty parcel southwest of Church Avenue and Washington Street is a
window to thousands of years of local human history and a glimpse into downtown
Tucson's future.

While state lawmakers wrangle over future funding for Rio Nuevo and city
officials tool and retool the notion of what they mean by "downtown
redevelopment," Homer Thiel and his team are getting to the point.

"People don't realize that among the buildings and streets in downtown Tucson,
there are thousands of years of history," said Thiel, the bearded and
bespectacled archaeologist whose job is to protect that history before the city
builds a park to honor it.

Lost civilization ports. . .found href="">Long-lost
Phoenician ports found

Thanks to political tensions easing in Lebanon, archaeologists have
finally managed to locate the sites of ancient Phoenician harbours in the
seaports that dominated Mediterranean trade thousands of years ago.

By drilling out cores of sediment from the modern urban centres of these cities,
geologists have mapped out the former coastlines that the sediments have long
since buried. From this they have pinpointed the likely sites of the old
harbours, and have marked out locations that, they say, are in dire need of
exploration and conservation.

The modern cities of Tyre and Sidon on the Lebanese coast were once the major
launching points of the seafaring Phoenicians. They were to the ancient world
what Venice, Shanghai, Liverpool and New York have been in later times: some of
the greatest of the world's ports, and crucial conduits for trade and cultural
exchange. From the harbours of the Phoenician cities, ships carried precious
dyes and textiles, soda and glass throughout the Mediterranean and

Interesting use of coring data. Read the whole thing.

More from PhysOrg.

Like Laetoli, but more recent Stone Age Footwork:
Ancient human prints turn up down under

Researchers working near the shore of a dried-up lake basin in
southeastern Australia have taken a giant leap backward in time. They've
uncovered the largest known collection of Stone Age human footprints.

The 124-or-more human-foot impressions, as well as a few prints left by
kangaroos and other animals, originated between 23,000 and 19,000 years ago in a
then-muddy layer of silt and clay, say archaeologist Steve Webb of Australia's
Bond University in Robina and his colleagues. Their report appears in the
January Journal of Human Evolution.

The discoveries, which lie in an area consisting of 19 ancient lake basins known
as the Willandra Lakes system, provide a unique look at the behavior and
physical capabilities of late Stone Age people, notes geologist and study
coauthor Matthew L. Cupper of the University of Melbourne.

Bog body update Iron Age 'bog
bodies' unveiled

Archaeologists have unveiled two Iron Age "bog bodies" which were
found in the Republic of Ireland.

The bodies, which are both male and have been dated to more than 2,000 years
old, probably belong to the victims of a ritual sacrifice.

In common with other bog bodies, they show signs of having been tortured before
their deaths.

Details of the finds are outlined in a BBC Timewatch documentary to be screened
on 20 January.

On this
beach, 700,000 years ago ...

One wintry day, two keen fossil collectors found a flint beneath
these cliffs. It didn't look like much, but it turned out to be evidence for the
earliest humans in Britain. Mike Pitts on the amateur archaeologists who rewrote

Given the choice, the bottom of a cliff with the tide coming in fast is not a
place you'd work. For Paul Durbidge and Bob Mutch, however, the foreshore at
Pakefield, south of Lowestoft, Suffolk, is precisely where they want to be.
Especially in winter, and even more so when the storms are up. Because it's then
that the fossils are exposed.
Durbidge and Mutch have been collecting on this beach for years; they have
assembled a huge and academically valuable collection of animal bones. In 2000,
though, they heard that along the coast in Norfolk, someone had found a flint
handaxe that was 500,000 years old. It would have been made by a distant
ancestor of Neanderthals, and as far as Britain was concerned, was as old as
early humans got. This gave Durbidge and Mutch an idea. They knew their animal
fossils from Pakefield were older than that. What if we have flints here too,
they thought? "We had a gut feeling about Pakefield," says
Semi-non-archaeological story -- with a twist Kidnapped German archaeologist really was a spy

Susanne Osthoff, the German archeologist kidnapped by Iraqi gunmen on Nov. 25 and released before Christmas was connected with her country's intelligence service, the BND, and had helped arrange a meeting with a top member of the terrorist organization al-Qaida, possibly Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi himself, according to well informed German sources Sunday.

The sources confirmed German press reports that the 43-year-old woman had worked for the BND in Iraq on a freelance basis, and had for some time even stayed in a German intelligence safe house in Baghdad.

I didn't post anything on this when it was happening because it really wasn't about archaeology or archaeologists generally. This changes things and may make it more difficult for archaeologists working in other areas. She seems to have been rather benign, as these things go, apparently only arranging contacts with certain al Qaida members. Still, having one of our own actually identified as a spy coupld complicate things. There was a stink a few years ago about two other archaeologists -- their names escape me at the moment -- that were purported to be working for the CIA, which was never really proven. We have enough trouble working in foreign places without being suspected of being government agents though.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Couple items for now, more later:

Keep a close eye on 'em from now on New cat family tree revealed

Modern cats have their roots in Asia 11 million years ago, according to a DNA study of wild and domestic cats.

The ancient ancestors of the 37 species alive today migrated across the globe, eventually settling in all continents except Antarctica, say scientists.

Eight major lineages emerged, including lions, ocelots and domestic cats.

The moggy is most closely related to the African and European wild cat and the Chinese desert cat, an international team reports in Science.

Story on marbles (not of the Elgin variety for a change If I ever become an archaeologist, I’ll go look for them

But the game of marbles is really nothing new. It was invented long before ships sailed for the New World, before the Vikings pillaged the European coasts, even before Alexander conquered Asia.

The game was part of a childish diversion some 4,500 years ago. Records show that adults used marbles for divination practices designed to augur the fortunes of kings and tribes and only through disuse were they bequeathed to youngsters.

Marbles, in the form of the knucklebones of dogs and sheep, existed in the Near East as auguries more than a thousand years before they became toys.

Links to past linger near a bridge's future shadow

Pull off Route 5 into Chickahominy Riverfront Park today and you'll find a quiet, unusually secluded waterfront oasis. Except for the occasional clang of heavy equipment working on the nearby bridge, all you'll hear down at the fisherman's dock are the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and the water lapping.

But 300 years ago, this point of land bustled with an entirely different kind of character. Horse-drawn wagons and carriages pulled up at the end of the well-traveled road from Jamestown and Williamsburg, then waited for the ferry that would connect them to the James River plantations and Richmond. Boats of all kinds put in from both the James and the Chickahominy, full of goods and people eager to tap into a traffic hub that linked both the land and the rivers.

The link has several pics of artifacts and the excavations in progress.