Thursday, March 16, 2006

Reader Mark Walker emails on battlefield archaeology as a distinct discipline:

It's definitely a distinct field of study, and, if the definition of
a "real subdiscipline" is "really distinct methods," then I'd say it
qualifies as a subdiscipline as well.
Because of it's subject matter--generally short-term events over
large areas with few features (depending on the battle), it has pretty
distinctive methods--tend to be landscape-scale; lots of field survey,
metal detection, plus some unusual aspects like recording dip and strike
on artifacts (with regular archaeology that would be incredibly anal,
but with an expended bullet it shows direction). Also by using forensic
techniques such as rifling marks you can sometimes track individual
weapons across the battlefield (more or less).
The research questions (possibly another part of being a
subdiscipline) tend to be pretty distinctive too (as I am sure you can
imagine). As the ultimate in subdisciplinary validation it even has its
own journal-that-nobody-can-afford (Journal of Conflict Archaeology)

By golly: Journal of Conflict Archaeology

Lost civilization god. . .found Carving of 'northern god' found

A 2000-year-old carving of a so-called "northern god", adopted by the Romans for protection and good luck, has been uncovered in Northumberland.

The 40cm high figure, holding a shield in one hand and spear or sword in the other, was discovered near Chesters Fort on Hadrian's Wall.

Experts say the find is exciting as it helps shed light on how people used local idols for protection.

The carving is thought to be that of Cocidius, a Romano-British warrior god.

Indy Watch Ford eager to start new Indiana Jones film

Harrison Ford is ready to jump back into his favorite film role and begin shooting the fourth Indiana Jones movie soon, a German magazine quoted the Hollywood actor as saying on Wednesday.

"Steven Spielberg and I now have a script in hand that we both like. I believe that we can start with the filming soon," Ford was quoted as saying in an interview with German lifestyle and entertainment magazine Fit for Fun.

The third and last Indy film, 1989 hit "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," starred Ford as the whip-swinging archaeologist and Sean Connery as his bumbling father.

Ford, 63, was quoted as saying that he needed "to do a little practicing with the whip" to avoid injuries.

That's the whole thing.

I also self-censored any Calista Flockhart jokes that sprang to mind.

Evolution, genetics, culture The Twists and Turns of History, and of DNA

Trying to explain cultural traits is, of course, a sensitive issue. The descriptions of national character common in the works of 19th-century historians were based on little more than prejudice. Together with unfounded notions of racial superiority they lent support to disastrous policies.

But like phrenology, a wrong idea that held a basic truth (the brain's functions are indeed localized), the concept of national character could turn out to be not entirely baseless, at least when applied to societies shaped by specific evolutionary pressures.

In a study of East Asians, Europeans and Africans, Dr. Pritchard and his colleagues found 700 regions of the genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection in recent times. In East Asians, the average date of these selection events is 6,600 years ago.