Thursday, June 29, 2006

Brazillian Stonehenge update Ancient Brazilian tribes 'charted the heavens'
Did the early indigenous peoples of the rainforest look to the stars to measure time and mark the passage of the seasons? Archaeologists believe they did.

This photograph shows what is being called the tropical Stonehenge, a grouping of 127 granite blocks, each 10ft high and spaced at regular intervals around a grassy hilltop in northern Brazil. On the winter solstice, 21 December, the shadow of one of the blocks disappears, leading experts to believe the formation was used as a calendar.

"Only a society with a complex culture could have built such a monument," said Mariana Petry Cabral, of the Amapa Institute of Scientific and Technological Research.

Actually, not much new there.
KV-63 update No mummy in Valley of the Kings tomb but mystery remains whole
The first tomb discovered in Luxor's Valley of the Kings did not reveal its expected mummy, but egyptologists remained bent on cracking the mystery of "KV 63."

Three thousand year-old flowers and royal necklaces were the only things Egypt's chief archeologist Zahi Hawass saw when he lifted the lid off the last of seven coffins found in the tomb.

"It's superb but there is no room for a mummy," said Otto Schaden, the America archeologist who uncovered the tomb almost by chance in February, only a few feet away from "KV 62" -- the famous sepulchre of King Tut.

Bit disappointing, but not surprising. All along the tomb gave all indications of not being an actual tomb that was used, but a cache for supplies and some later, minor burials.
Early signs of elephant butchers
Bones and tusks dating back 400,000 years are the earliest signs in Britain of ancient humans butchering elephants for meat, say archaeologists.
Remains of a single adult elephant surrounded by stone tools were found in northwest Kent during work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Scientists believe hunters used the tools to cut off the meat, after killing the animal with wooden spears.

The find is described in the Journal of Quaternary Science.

Man, I dunno, something twice as big as a modern elephant taken out by guys with pointy sticks. . . .
Remains of old fish basin found beneath Charleston
Charleston boasts the South Carolina Aquarium but workers recently uncovered what might be called the city's original fish tank - a wall that was likely used as a fish basin at the old city market a century ago.

When a backhoe unearthed the wall recently, preservationists thought it might be part of the old wall that once protected the city.

But that was not the case.

The unearthed section is about 30 feet long and 2 feet across and thought to be the remains of a fish basin built at the end of Market Street more than a century ago, said Eric Poplin, an archaeologist with Brockington Associates.
This weeks news from the EEF

Press report: "Museum scans mummies for clues to past"">">
"Two mummies from the Milwaukee Public Museum have
received computerized tomography, or CT, scans.....The scans,
performed Friday, are part of a larger effort by the Akhmim Mummy
Studies Consortium to gather images of mummies collected from
the Akhmim site in Egypt. " [For the Akhmim Mummy Studies
Consortium, see EEFNEWS (408).].

Update on the "King Tut's necklace shaped by fireball" story:
[For a picture of the scarab and the raw material, see the EEFBBS at
It belongs to two informative posts by Giancarlo Negro dd. Oct 2000
about Libyan Desert Glass.]

Press report about the reopening of the Coptic Museum in Cairo:

In Science of March-April 2001, there was a debate in the
letters section about whether there were Duikers in Ancient Egypt;
now available online (in HTML):;291/5509/1701b;292/5516/440a
[Cp. EEFNEWS (139) - but at the time the pages were only
available for registered users.]

Online version of: Thilo Rehren and Edgar B. Pusch, "Late Bronze
Age Glass Production at Qantir-Piramesses, Egypt", in: Science
vol. 308 (17 June 2005), pp. 1756-1758. Online in PDF (249 kB):;308/5729/1756
"Evidence for the production of glass from its raw materials in the
eastern Nile Delta during the LBA."
-- See also:
Caroline M. Jackson, "Enhanced: Glassmaking in Bronze-Age Egypt",
in: Science vol. 208 (17 June 2005), pp. 1750-1752. Online in
PDF (2398kB):;308/5729/1750
-- This research was announced exactly one year ago, see
EEF Forum dd June 17 and EEFNEWS (360), but at the time the
articles were not available for free.

And now back to our regularly scheduled newsblogging
Iraq, Poland to expand archaeology cooperation
Iraq an Poland are conducting talks on how to boost archaeological ties, said a senior official from Iraq’s Archaeology Department.

In a statement, Abdulkarim Fleih said the countries are working on an 11-item agreement which includes, among other things, the resumption of polish excavation activities in Iraq.

Polish scientists were active in excavating ancient Iraqi sites and they have helped shed light on little known Mesopotamian epochs and made magnificent discoveries.
The latest from Hollywood Gibson's 'Apocalypto' tells story of Maya
Mel Gibson is filming "Apocalypto" in a Mexican jungle, a film which may or may not be an accurate historical portrayal of the Maya's ancient civilization.

Regardless, historians and educators are looking forward to seeing his interpretation of the little-understood Mayan culture, which dominated Central America from as early as 600 B.C. to about 850 A.D. Scholars hold differing opinions about how and why the civilization collapsed, whether from war, drought or political failure, USA Today reported.

Couple things in there aren't terribly relevant critiques, such as filming it in a location the Maya never lived in. That's like ripping James Cameron for not filming Titanic in the north Atlantic in April. But one would hope it's not totally fact-free. Hard to think of any mainline movies that have been made of South American civilizations. . .Egypt, yeah. Rome, yeah. The Maya? Terra incognita.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Homo hobbitus update

Forgot this from a few days ago but Hawks has a post on a new paper by someone who knows his microcephaly:

The new paper doesn't give any new information about the specimens, and the suspicions raised about the nature of the sample are not new. But there is much new context here about the nature of microcephaly, its variability both clinically and genetically, and the complexity of examining it in the contexts of traditional socieities and archaeological specimens, and the problems of examining it in combination with possible dwarfism. The paper concludes that there is every likelihood that the pathways causing primary microcephaly in living people are the same ones responsible for the LB1 specimen.

Richards (the paper author) hypothesizes that the Flores specimens represent a group of H. sapiens who were dwarfed due to their island isolation -- a common occurrence on islands -- but not an offshoot of an earlier hominin species (e.g., H. erectus).

Also a link there to commentary by Carl Zimmer with a comment by Peter Brown, one of the discoverers.
New? Old? Did ancient Amazonians build a 'Stonehenge'?
A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory -- a find archaeologists say indicates early rain forest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed.

The 127 blocks, some as high as 9 feet, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet in diameter.

On the shortest day of the year -- December 21 -- the shadow of one of the blocks disappears when the sun is directly above it.
The view from the garbage
The secrets of life in Second Temple-era Jerusalem can be found in a trash heap

Two discs made of bone, which apparently served as buttons, are among the objects found in the municipal dump that served Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple era. These buttons were intended to be not only practical, but decorative as well. In addition the dump has yielded a handful of glass fragments, which testify to the use of prestigious objects.

However, the vast majority of finds at the dump were very much everyday objects: fragments of household utensils including cooking pots, storage jars, pottery and lamps, coins of low denominations and a large number of animal bones. The dump is located on the eastern slope of the hill where the City of David is located. It was first unearthed in 1867 by Charles Warren, and many other archaeologists excavated there after him, but they did not realize they were digging through garbage. Only in 1995 did Professor Ronny Reich, of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, and Eli Shukron, of the Antiquities Authority, who directed the dig at the site, realize it was a dump.

Interesting article. Apparently, only certain types of objects were tossed and there may be specific religious reasons for this. Example: Few stone domestic objects were found which might be explained by Jewish law at the time stating that stone utensils could not be ritually contaminated. Thus, no need to throw it out when contaminated. Also, not a single pig bone found so far. There's some other stuff that's interesting -- apparently only food/cooking remains have been found -- and too bad there's not more info on these other things.

It should keep researchers busy for decades. The stratigraphic possibilities are endless.
'Foreigner' helped build Terracotta Army
Chinese archaeologists have unearthed evidence that a foreign worker helped build the Terracotta Army mausoleum, the resting place of the country's first emperor, who died more than 2,200 years ago.

The remains of the worker, described as a foreign man in his 20s, were found among 121 shattered skeletons in a labourers' tomb 500 metres from the mausoleum in the north-western city of Xian, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

According to Xinhua, the man may prove to be "China's first foreign worker", though it is unclear whether he served as an employee or a slave of emperor Qin Shi Huang, who unified China and built the first Great Wall. It is estimated 700,000 labourers worked on the imperial tomb, which houses 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors and horses. DNA tests were used to ethnically identify 15 of the labourers.

Not terribly interesting from the Terracotta Army perspective, but more with contacts between eastern and central asia. Still, this has got to be one of the most spectacular archaeological finds there is, but it hasn't really gotten the attention of other Old World sites like the pyramids, Parthenon, etc.
Not archaeology £13,000 for Egypt queen painting
A painting of an Egyptian queen by Howard Carter, the man who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen, has sold at auction for £13,000.
The watercolour was left to owner Barbara Rampton 15 years ago but she did not realise its significance until she took it to a charity valuation.

The 1897 work had been hanging in a holiday cottage near Barmouth.
Not battlefield archaeology Gettysburg archeological digs approved
At a cost of about $40,000, archeologists hope a second set of digs will unearth 19th-century blacksmithing tools and household artifacts at a historic site on South Washington Street in Gettysburg.

The digs are anticipated to begin in the next few weeks and once they are completed, the Adams County Housing Authority will begin building two duplexes there as low- to moderate-income housing.

The Gettysburg Borough Council and the housing authority agreed earlier this month to do the digs, after the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission recommended them. On Monday, the borough re-allocated money from the Community Development Block Grant that was originally intended for recreation-park improvements and down-payment and closing-cost assistance for people who purchase the duplexes.
5000-Year-Old Settlement Areas Found in Bolaghi Gorge
Archeologists in Bolaghi Gorge succeeded in discovering the remains of settlement areas belonging to six different historical periods, the most ancient belonging to 3000 BC.
Tehran, 27 June 2006 (CHN Foreign Desk) -- The third season of archeological excavations in an Achaemenid village in Bolaghi Gorge led to discovery of six residential areas belonging to the pre-historic to the late post-Achaemenid periods. The post-Achaemenid period was followed by the collapse of the Achaemenid dynasty in 330 BC and lasted to the Parthian era in 150 BC.

“Three seasons of archeological excavations in area no. 76 of Bolaghi Gorge, the place where an Achaemenid village had previously been discovered, show that settlement of people in this area goes back to some 5000 years ago and prior to the Achaemenid period (648-330 BC). Among the six settlement periods found in the area, one of them dates back to the pre-historic period, one to the Achaemenid era, and the rest belong to post-Achaemenid era,” said Alireza Asghari, Iranian head of Iran-Italy joint team in area no. 76 of Bolaghi Gorge.
More Tut mystery King Tut's necklace shaped by fireball
Scientists believe they have solved the mystery surrounding a piece of rare natural glass at the centre of an elaborate necklace found among the treasures of Tutankhamun, the boy pharaoh.
They think a fragile meteorite broke up as it entered the atmosphere, producing a fireball with temperatures over 1800C that turned the desert sand and rock into molten lava that became glass when it cooled.

Experts have puzzled over the origin of the yellow-green glass -- carved into the shape of a scarab beetle -- since it was excavated in 1922 from the tomb of the teenage king, who died about 1323BC.

Hard to interpret this. Article states that geologists have looked for a crater (in the western desert) of the same age as the glass scarab, but found none. New research purports -- through computer simulation -- that an object 120m across could have caused glass to form without forming a crater. That could be; various researchers have estimated the Tunguska object anywhere between 60 and 190m, depending on composition and it didn't make a crater. OTOH, Tunguska didn't seem to melt vast swaths of rock either. So, color me skeptical.
Dumb, non-archaeological story. Posted anyway Brand archaeology: Dig up your past
Every brand that's been around for a decade or so has the potential to excavate its past. I recently reviewed some amazing TV commercials for one of the world's largest insurance companies. It wanted to build its brand authenticity and strengthen consumer trust. I recommended the company rerun those commercials. They were more than 30 years old, but when focus groups watched them many interviewees wept with happiness. The ads' soundtracks and images recalled positive childhood associations and evoked trust-packed emotions from the past.

. . .

Brand archaeology is all about not throwing the baby out with the bath water. Identify good stuff from the past, but avoid rebuilding parts that are still there, hidden under dust.

Just posted for the references. And there's a bit about being able to distinguish a Coke bottle from a single shard which is so analogous it's scary. Though I for one would really like to know what insurance company he's talking about. . . . .
Local archaeologist help restore Coal Creek War site
It might come as a surprise, but one of the last wars ever fought on American soil happened right here in East Tennessee. The Coal Creek War of 1891 centered around the miners of Anderson County. Now, more than a 100 years later, volunteers are turning the old battle ground into a historical site. Advertisement

Archaeologist and volunteers dig around the Coal Creek War site, searching for artifacts. The search begins on Militia Hill, with archaeologist Dr. Elizabeth Kellar Decorse and her team. They search four acres, digging for clues that could reveal what life was like for the Tennessee Militia who lived on the hill.

Hmm. Dunno if a skirmish between miners and a miltia constitutes an actual "war" or not, but I'd never heard of it. And thus, it was posted.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Echo of an ancient people entrances scientists and tourists alike
Its name is Spanish for "green table," but that title doesn't do Mesa Verde National Park justice.

The green in the park that covers more than 52,000 acres in the southwest corner of Colorado — tangles of juniper and pinon — is just one color in the palette used to paint the landscape.

Sandstone glows golden in early-morning and late-afternoon sunlight, and it turns shades of cream and soft gray in midday shadows. Tawny hides of deer flash in the forests, and soaring birds create navy shadows on the rocks.
Archaeologist digs his future
After decades of pinpointing, documenting and preserving dozens of treasures from past and modern-day warriors, Larry Spanne is retiring from his job protecting Vandenberg Air Force Base's cultural resources.

Including graduate work as a UCSB student and consulting jobs before being hired as a civil servant, Spanne, 65, has worked on Vandenberg for 38 years, most recently as chief of cultural resources, overseeing a staff of four. His replacement hasn't been hired.

As Vandenberg's first full-time archaeologist, he helped craft the program responsible for recording and managing 2,600 individual and varied resources, helping preserve and protect everything from ancient wall paintings to Cold War-era missile facilities.
Researchers to examine last sarcophagus
Researchers from the University of Memphis are unsure what they'll find when they examine the last of seven ancient coffins found in the first tomb uncovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings since King Tut's in 1922.

"I can't control what is there," said Dr. Otto Schaden, team leader of the archaeologists who made the discovery. "So it doesn't do any good to have false hopes or high hopes or low hopes."

The tomb, believed to be some 3,000 years old and dating to the 18th Dynasty, was accidentally discovered last year by the archaeologists while they were working on a nearby site in the desert region near the southern city of Luxor, Egypt.

That's Monsoor the head of the Valley of the Kings to the right of the photo. I've worked with him on a number of occasions.

We've had our disagreements, yes.
Egypt archaeologists find sarcophagi near pyramids
Egyptian archaeologists have found two ancient sarcophagi close to the pyramids, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities said on Sunday.

The sarcophagi, found about a kilometer (0.6 miles) south of the pyramids in Giza, dated to the late 26th dynasty, or about 2,500 years old, council chief Zahi Hawass said in a report by the state MENA news agency.
The New Archaeology Review Online Publication Now Available
The New Archaeology Review is the premier archaeology eZine offering fresh perspectives and voices on the archaeology beat, challenging accepted ideas with new theories on our ancient past.

The online-only publication focuses on controversial issues with an open forum format for free debate and inquiry. The eZine features well researched and documented articles and news items that may have not been able to pass academic muster due to their conflict with established academia.

Featuring articles from such top bestselling authors and underground scholars as Dr. Robert Schoch , Ralph Ellis, Maurice Cotterell, Jim Allen, George Erikson, Michael Cremo , Robert L. Smith, and David Hatcher Childress, The New Archaeology Review promises to bring some of the newest, edgy and controversial topics and subject, as well as a forum for discussing the merit and scholarship of any work.

Lots of red flags there.

Web site is here. BEWARE: Loud music in a continuous loop plays upon opening.

UPDATE: Here's their first article.
Secret glory
A housing estate is set to reveal an ancient secret which has been hidden for almost 2,000 years.

Houses built in Greater Leys in Oxford were constructed on top of ancient Roman remains, which are to be made public for the first time this summer.

Artefacts from a large-scale pottery industry were found while the estate was being built 15 years ago, but have remained in storage ever since.
Archaeologists Turn Attention To Kam Wah Chung In Oregon's John Day-Open House June 24
Last fall, archaeologists from the University of Oregon, Museum of Natural and Cultural History excavated small holes around the historic John Day Chinatown and Kam Wah Chung building in eastern Oregon. They discovered fragments of Chinese porcelain rice bowls, opium paraphernalia and glass gambling pieces. In one location, they even came across the burned remains of an unidentified building.
In Search of. . . .

Anyone remember that show from the 1970s? Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek) narrated it. It was a half-hour "documentary" on some mysterious phenomenon or event or some such. Ancient astronauts to Amelia Earhardt, Bigfoot, Atlantis, you name it. They even did one show on how the earth was cooling (all sorts of scientists say so!). These sorts of programs were numerous in the 1970s, many even making it to the big screen. I remember watching Chariots of the Gods? and thinking it was way cool, and they also had one that I saw in the theater all about Bigfoot. Maybe it was about other stuff, too. I always thought Steve Miller took a riff from that show's theme song, too.

Anyway, the EEF list has a thread on where the body of Alexander the Great may lie. Aayko pointed out this link which purports to provide evidence of where said stiff lies. According to Aayko: "Whatever one thinks of his ideas, the page has some "ancient testimonies" about the tomb."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lost civilization. . .found 30,000-year-old Relics Reveal Pre-historic Civilization along Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Chinese archaeologists claim that relics unearthed in the areas along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway proved that human beings lived there at least 30,000 years ago.

Archaeologists with the Qinghai Provincial Archaeological Institute said they collected large number of chipped stone tools including knives and pointed implements dating back 30,000 years in the Tuotuo River valley, Hoh Xil, a habitat for Tibetan antelopes, and Qaidam Basin, where the railway runs through, during recent excavations.

More than 30 stone implements were also discovered at the site of Sancha River bridge on the Qinghai-Tibet railway, located in Golmud, a city over 70 kilometers to the north of Kunlun Mountains, said Xu Xinguo, head of the Qinghai Provincial Archaeological Institute.
1,000 skeletons found in Rome catacombs
ARCHAELOGISTS exploring one of Rome's oldest catacombs have discovered more than 1,000 skeletons dressed in elegant togas.

Experts are thrilled by the find - which dates from about the first century - as it is the first "mass burial" of its kind identified. Mystery surrounds why so many bodies were neatly piled together in the complex network of underground burial chambers, which stretch for miles under the city.

It was the custom then for Rome's upper classes to be burnt not buried, so it is thought the skeletons may be early Christians. Tests are being carried to establish whether they suffered violent death or were victims of an unknown epidemic or natural disaster.

It actually has a pretty good set of Comments below it.
Shell Jewelry Said to Be 100,000 Years Old
Archaeologists think they have found evidence that in one respect people were behaving like thoroughly modern humans as early as 100,000 years ago: they were apparently decorating themselves with a kind of status-defining jewelry — the earliest known shell necklaces.

If this interpretation is correct, it means that human self-adornment, considered a manifestation of symbolic thinking, was practiced at least 25,000 years earlier than previously thought.

An international team of archaeologists, in an article in Friday's issue of the journal Science, reported their analysis of small shells with distinctive perforations that appeared to have been strung together as ornamental beads. Chemical study showed that the two shells from the Skhul rock shelter in Israel were more than 100,000 years old, and the single shell from Oued Djebbana, in Algeria, was about 90,000 years old.

The apparent importance is noted here: The hypothesis challenges the traditional view that modern Homo sapiens underwent a significant behavioral change about 50,000 years ago, possibly the result of some genetic modification that afforded a greater capability for symbolic thinking and creativity in arts and crafts.

Although that doesn't necessarily mean hat there was nothing "artistic" before then; it could have been present in low frequencies for a long time before a genetic change enabled far more elaborate work. That is, it doesn't have to be a binary switch.

Update: More here.
Heart Always in Africa
He may be out of Africa now but a former University of Calgary professor honoured for his work in the Sudan says part of his heart will always be there.

Dr. Peter Shinnie, a U of C professor emeritus and former archaeology department head was given the Order of the Two Niles from the Sudanese ambassador to Canada Faiza Taha in Calgary on Saturday. It is one of the Sudan’s highest distinctions.
We do that Archaeologists search for artifacts
About 40 volunteers will finish a two-week excavation Saturday in the Uwharrie National Forest.

They are part of a national program called Passport in Time, which gives people an opportunity to help unearth artifacts. The program also helps archaeologists excavate more area with limited funds.

Some of the artifacts found at this particular site are between 6,000 and 8,000 years old.
There won’t be a dull moment in Caithness this summer, if you’re an archaeologist.

The most northerly county on the British mainland will undergo more excavations and underwater explorations than any other region in the country over the next few months, with projects looking at Neolithic and Bronze Age cairns, Iron Age brochs and crannogs, medieval castles and shipwrecks. One team will reverse the trend and rebuild some stone structures in 3000BC style.

That sounds fabulous. And check out some of the scenery:
CU-Boulder, BLM Collaborating On Four Corners Archaeology Project
A partnership between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the University of Colorado at Boulder initiated in August 2005 to inventory a rich archaeological region in southeastern Utah will continue this summer.

Known as the Comb Ridge Heritage Initiative, the project was designed to allow researchers to study a 48,000-acre region in the Four Corners area containing archaeological sites dating back 13,000 years, said CU-Boulder anthropology Professor Catherine Cameron. The $275,000 award to CU-Boulder from the BLM runs through 2008, said Cameron, who is heading up the project with consulting Utah archaeologist Winston Hurst of Blanding.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

And now. . . .the news from the EEF

Press report: "Loss of Curators' Power Seen in Brooklyn Museum Plan"
[if registration is needed, use "eefeef" for id and password.]
"Beginning next month, the Brooklyn Museum will do away with
traditional departments like Egyptian art, African art and European
painting and instead create two "teams," one for collections and
one for exhibitions. ... Some critics have complained that the
museum is taking the theme of accessibility so far that it is
undermining its strengths as a place respected for its scholarship."

Press report: "A trifle over bazaars"
"Problems surrounding the Karnak Development Project
still seem unsolved despite the reported approval of all
concerned.....Part of the project's plan involves the
demolition of the French mission's residential compound
and the 19th-century-dig house of French Egyptologist
George Legrain. ...According to the existing plan the
Gournah residents will be moved to Al-Taref, outside Luxor.
The worst of their houses will be demolished while other
those in good condition will be left in place, but without
inhabitants. ..."

Dr Zahi Hawass's 'Dig Days' column is again about "the tunnel of
the tomb of Pharaoh Seti" and the supposed chamber there:
[Ed. Actually, not much about the Seti tomb itself -- which has long been rumored to possibly contain a spectacular untouched burial chamber behind the blocked-up end -- but of some German guy who wanted to raise money to clear it out.]

Dr Hawass is planning an exhibition about the two mummies
from KV60. It has been confirmed by eye-witnesses that the
mummy that had remained in KV60 was taken out and moved
to Cairo in mid May. This explains the garbled press report
listed in EEFNEWS 408:
This remaining mummy was proposed to be Hatshepsut
by some, but NOT by Hawasss, who thinks it is Sitre

Macquarie University News of June 2006 has an online
article called "Animal behaviour in ancient Egypt":
"World-first PhD research at Macquarie University is
looking at the way animal behaviour is represented in
Egyptian wall scenes. Experts say it will change the
way ancient Egyptian tomb art is interpreted. "
About the work of Linda Evans, a research assistant
at Macquarie University's animal behaviour laboratory.

Online version of: Michael R. Jenkins, "The stela of Neferhotep
from the Sanctuary of Heqaib on Elephantine Island", in: JEA, vol. 82,
pp. 199-202 (1996)
"Report of the discovery on Elephantine of a XIIIth Dynasty limestone
stela from the Sanctuary of Heqaib. The owner, the Elder of the Portal
Neferhotep, born of Nubhertjen, is otherwise unknown." [AEB]

* Online version of: Michael R. Jenkins, "Notes of the Tomb
of Setka at Qubbet el-Hawa, Aswan", in: BACE, vol. 11,
pp. 67-81 (2000)
"On 9 December, 1993, I was granted permission to make
measurements, notes and photographs of the tomb for a three
hour period in the company of Mr Nasr Salama, Inspector of
Aswan Antiquities for the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation.
This paper is based on the field-notes and photographs taken
by myself at that time and is intended only to highlight some
of the interesting structural features and decorative elements
of this little-known sepulchre."

* Online version of: Cheryl Ward, "Boat-building and its
social context in early Egypt: interpretations from the First
Dynasty boat-grave cemetery at Abydos", in: Antiquity,
vol. 80, pp. 118-129 (2006) - pdf-file: 250 KB
"The boat-grave cemetery at Abydos has provided the world’s
oldest sewn planked hulls, and vivid evidence for the way early
Egyptian wooden boats were built. As well as sailing on the
Nile, they were designed to be dismantled for carriage over
land to the Red Sea. By the mid-fourth millennium BC the ship
was a major technical force in the Egyptian political economy
as well as an iconic force in ceremonial burial."

Online review of: T G H James, The British Museum
Concise Introduction ANCIENT EGYPT, 2005, The
American University in Cairo Press.
Digging in Denmark, archaeologist uncovers rare prize
For nearly 30 years, Wisconsin archaeologist T. Douglas Price has tramped the damp fields and coastal meadows of Denmark looking to put flesh on the bones of prehistory.

In the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age, an epoch that spanned a period of about 6,000 years beginning in 10,000 B.C., Denmark, it turns out, was a happenin' place.

"It was a superb place for people to live," says Price, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of anthropology. "Everything we find indicates it was a very rich environment. It was a very, very good place to be."

I had Price for one class as an undergrad. Pretty good instructor. At that time, computers were just really becoming a viable tool for most archaeologists, even though they'd been using them for quite a while before that (this was early 1980s), so it was a new and exciting 'quantitative methods' kind of class. I was a former computer science and engineering kinda guy and drifted into this archaeology stuff almost by accident, so I was Mr. Analyze The Data And Nothing Else. I remember making some comment in a paper/report about how I could go off and interpret something or other, but to do so would be 'going beyond the data'. He commented that speculating beyond the data often brought new insights or something like that.

Never did think much of that comment. . . . .
German Archeologists to Excavate Salt Men's Burial Ground in Iran
Following the visit of two Iranian archeologists to Germany and Austria, the condition for a joint cooperation between Iranian and German archeologists was prepared and a team of archeologists of Bochum Mining Museum of Germany is to come to Iran to carry out excavations in Chehr Abad historical salt mine, the burial ground of the discovered famous salt men in Zanjan province.
But does it create a really good Pepsi belch? Earth surrounded by giant fizzy bubbles
The space above you is fizzing with activity as bubbles of superhot gas constantly grow and pop around Earth, scientists announced Tuesday.

Astronomers found the activity up where Earth's magnetic field meets a constant stream of particles flowing out from the sun.

While space is commonly called a vacuum, in fact there is gas everywhere, albeit not as dense as the air you breathe.
Ann Althouse got bit by a cat. Go give her comfort.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Free article alert American Scientist has an article from their current issue up on the thermohaline cycle and it touches on the possible cause of the Younger Dryas:

The Source of Europe's Mild Climate
If you grow up in England, as I did, a few items of unquestioned wisdom are passed down to you from the preceding generation. Along with stories of a plucky island race with a glorious past and the benefits of drinking unbelievable quantities of milky tea, you will be told that England is blessed with its pleasant climate courtesy of the Gulf Stream, that huge current of warm water that flows northeast across the Atlantic from its source in the Gulf of Mexico. That the Gulf Stream is responsible for Europe's mild winters is widely known and accepted, but, as I will show, it is nothing more than the earth-science equivalent of an urban legend.

He mentions spending some part of his career in Seattle which does indeed have a climate quite similar to England, and noticing that this area doesn't have a Gulf Stream-like phenomenon providing it with a mild climate. He posits two main contributions: 1) The basic marine climate of land masses east of the ocean. Ocean water acts as a convenient heat sink, moderating temperature, and since weather moves east in the northern hemisphere, cold continental air is blocked. 2) Large scale waves in air masses as they compress over the Rockies and uncompress on the other side. This has the effect of causing a counterclockwise rotation of the air masses bringing cold air down from the Arctic over the continent and warm air up from the tropic over the Atlantic.

They also calculated that a complete shutting down of the thermohaline circulation would not cause as much of an effect as thought, and not nearly enough to bring about the Younger Dryas. He doesn't offer an alternative for what caused it though.
More pyramids! 3000-year-old "pyramid" discovered in NE China
Chinese archaeologists have discovered a group of ancient tombs shaped like pyramids, dating back at least 3,000 years, in Jiaohe City of northeast China's Jilin Province.

The tombs, covering an area of 500,000 square meters (1,000 meters long and 500 meters wide), were found after water erosion exposed part of a mountain, revealing two of the tombs.

Six smaller tombs had eroded away leaving no indications of their original scale and appearance, but the biggest tomb, located on the south side of the mountain, could clearly be discerned as a pyramid shape with three layers from bottom to top.
Biblical archaeology update The Book of Isaiah under the sands of Egypt
The archaeological mystery has been solved! The latest research shows that the manuscript found by Polish archaeologists in the village of Gourna (Sheikh abd el-Gourna) near Luxor in Upper Egypt contains the entire biblical book of Isaiah in the Coptic translation. “This is the first complete translation of this book in Coptic” – says Prof. Ewa Wipszycka-Bravo of the Institute of Archaeology at Warsaw University.
In February last year, Tomasz Górecki heading the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the Warsaw University mission in Gourna, made a unique find in the rubbish heap of a monastery. It consisted of two papyrus books in leather covers and a collection of parchment sheets bound by two bits of wood. This was the first discovery of Coptic manuscripts in Egypt since 1952, which are well preserved and supported by a well-researched archaeological context.

Not much archaeology actually. Except for the original digging-it-up part.
Bog bodies found were society's elite
Research into Iron Age bog bodies discovered in the midlands of Ireland has revealed they were elite members of society who may have met violent deaths as part of kingship rituals.

As the bodies discovered in 2003 went on display at the National Museum of Ireland, Eamonn Kelly, the keeper of Irish antiquities, said they were placed along significant boundaries of ancient kingdoms linking them to sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age.

"The bodies fit in, in that they are also offerings, they are offerings to the territorial gods or goddesses but they may also at a practical level have represented the elimination of perhaps failed candidates for kingship or deposed kings," said Mr Kelly on the two bodies discovered in bogs at Oldcroghan, Co Offaly and Clonycavan, Co Meath.

One interpretation -- that these are kings/leaders captured from other places and then executed -- sounds familiar to the way Maya city states would operate: a particular king would conduct raids on neighboring city states and attempt to capture as many high-level people as possible and take them back for public execution, which also served as sacrifices. Neat idea anyway.
Massive mummy fraud discovered after 2,000 years
Modern medical science has exposed the villainy of the crocodile mummy sellers of Hawara, more than 2,000 years after they defied the edict of a Pharaoh and turned neatly bandaged bundles of rubbish into a nice little earner.
Before the reopening this month of the Egyptian Galleries at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, curators took their animal and human mummies to the city's Addenbrooke's Hospital, as part of a £1.5m re-display of the internationally renowned collection, which dates in part back to the founding of the museum in 1816.

Read the whole thing, even though there's not much there. It's commonly known that actual mummification quality in general declined later on, even though the wrappings and cartonnage became much more elaborate. The portraits also seem, in many cases, to represent the person inside as they appeared in their prime rather than at death (in some cases these were the same).
Continuing to comb the site
Archaeologists probed the northeast corner of James Fort along a broad front this past week, sifting through seven 10-by-10-foot squares that have been opened in the massive Civil War earthwork that covers the site. Newly uncovered traces of a cobblestone foundation may tie one square to the 1618 governor's house addition discovered last year, while four pieces of pottery from a recently discovered well have provided a crucial link to the "cleansing" and rebuilding of the deteriorated fort ordered by Lord Delaware in 1610.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rare sword had 7th Century bling
An Anglian sword found at a castle in Northumberland has been declared the only one of its kind in the world.
Experts at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, say X-rays of the 7th Century sword prove it was made from a unique method using slices of carbonised iron.

The sword lay in a suitcase, after being unearthed in an excavation at Bamburgh Castle in 1960.

Note to everybody: Go check your attics and basements this weekend.
Jade find in Antigua produces links to Central America
A discovery of ancient jade could shake up old notions of the New World before Columbus. Scientists say they have traced 1,500-year-old axe blades found in the eastern Caribbean to ancient jade mines in Central America 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) away, New York’s American Museum of Natural History announced late last month.

The blades were excavated in the late 90s by a Canadian archaeologist on the island of Antigua in the West Indies

But the jade used to make the blades almost certainly came from Maya mines in distant Guatemala says mineralogist George Harlow of the American Museum of Natural History.

Kind of an update to a story already posted here.
Japanese researchers discover remains of what appears to be 4,800-year-old temple in Peru
Japanese researchers said they have discovered--with the unintended help of looters--what appears to be a temple ruins at least 4,800 years old that could be one of the oldest in the Americas.

The temple is believed to have been built before or around 2600 BC when Peru's oldest known city, Caral, was created, the researchers said.

The ruins were found in the ruins of Shicras located in the Chancay Valley about 100 kilometers north of Lima. The team started full-scale excavation work on Monday.
Byzantine port unearthed in Turkey
Turkish archaeologists announced Tuesday that they have discovered an ancient Byzantine port in an area that was slated to become an underground station for a modern rail tunnel.

They're calling the find the "Port of Theodosius," after the emperor of Rome and Byzantium who died in the year 395, and say the items they're digging up here could shed significant light on the commercial life of this ancient city. Through the ages, the metropolis has been known as Byzantium, Constantinople and finally Istanbul.

Not much there.

In the article. There's probably lots of stuff at the site.
12th Century Pottery Discovered
A massive collection of 12th-century Korean pottery has been excavated from the sea floor on South Korea’s southwest coast where a reclamation project is underway, archaeologists said Tuesday.
The archaeologists from National Maritime Museum in Mokpo, South Cholla Province, said they have found 780 bluishgreen bowls and plates from the Koryo Kingdom (916~1392) near the maritime town of Kunsan, North Cholla Province.

The discovery was made some 200 meters on the inland side of an embankment newly built to hold back the sea water as part of an ongoing reclamation project to transform the tidal mud flats into land suitable for rice cultivation or construction sites.
Neanderthal update Front garden yields ancient tools
The Britons of 250,000 years ago were a good deal more sophisticated than they are sometimes given credit for, new archaeological evidence suggests.
It comes in the form of giant flint handaxes that have been unearthed at a site at Cuxton in Kent.

The tools display exquisite, almost flamboyant, workmanship not associated with this period until now.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Congratulations! New dean of arts and science at MU named
MU’s College of Arts and Science is getting a new dean with an interest in old things.

Provost Brian Foster announced on Friday the appointment of Michael J. O’Brien as dean of the College of Arts and Science, the largest college at MU. Since 1986, O’Brien, 55, has served as the associate dean of the college under two previous deans, Dick Schwartz and Larry Clark. O’Brien will make the same salary as his predecessor, $175,000 per year.

“He’s been a fine associate dean,” said colleague Jay Gubrium, chair of the sociology department. “It was well-deserved.” Gubrium has known O’Brien four years and said he is easy to work with.

O’Brien’s research focuses on the integration of evolutionary theory in archaeology. Of the 24 books O’Brien has written or edited, “Applying Evolutionary Archaeology,” was the most controversial. O’Brien and Lee Lyman, the department chair of Anthropology, wrote the book, which was published in 2000.
Archaeologists find new evidence on Edom
A ruined copper mine in Jordan is shedding new light on the biblical civilization known as Edom, The New York Times reports.

Edomites lived south of the Dead Sea, in what is now Jordan, and are portrayed as the troublesome neighbor of Israelites. Recent excavations of an ancient copper mine have prompted archaeologists to reconsider when the Edomites may have existed, The Times said.

An international team of experts is arguing that Edom may have come together as a civilization as early as the twelfth century BC. They base their findings on recorded radiation dates, as well as artifacts like arrowheads and ceramics.
11,000-year-old grain shakes up beliefs on beginnings of agriculture
Bar-Ilan University researchers have found a cache of 120,000 wild oat and 260,000 wild barley grains at the Gilgal archaeological site near Jericho that date back 11,000 years - providing evidence of cultivation during the Neolithic Period.

The research, performed by Drs. Ehud Weiss and Anat Hartmann of BIU's department of Land of Israel studies and Prof. Mordechai Kislev of the faculty of life sciences, appears in the June 16 edition of the prestigious journal Science.

It is the second time in two weeks that Kislev and Hartmann have had an article in Science. They recently wrote about their discovery of 10,000-year-old cultivated figs at the same Jordan Valley site.

Good article. Shows how complex the whole issue of agricultural "origins" can be.
Archaeoastronomy update Ancient monument aligned to sun
An archaeologist has discovered that the passage into a burial mound on Anglesey was built to catch the rising sun on the summer solstice.
Steve Burrow said he was "elated" when the sun filtered in through trees as he sat in the Bryn Celli Ddu chamber.

He made the discovery as he researched a book about burial tombs in Wales from 4,000-3,000 BC.
Extensive study into Roman town
A major archaeological project at the nationally-important Caistor Roman town in Norfolk is to be launched within the next few weeks.

Researchers hope the origins and development of the settlement at Caistor St Edmund, just south of Norwich, will emerge for the first time during eight to 10 years of work.

The town was once the regional centre of East Anglia and is one of only three Romano-British towns remaining undeveloped.

The site, owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust and managed by South Norfolk Council, was also the market town for the Iceni tribe, led by Queen Boudicca.
Hmmmm. . . Archaeologists, courts debate artifacts' value
In a case with ramifications for archaeological treasures across the West, the Justice Department is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling that freed two men convicted of stealing ancient petroglyphs in Nevada.

"There is a good deal at stake here," said Sherry Hutt, a former Superior Court judge from Arizona who has written books on the subject and now heads a related program at the National Park Service.

The appellate court in San Francisco concluded in March the two accused looters clearly were guilty of stealing the boulders with rare etchings of an archer and bighorn sheep but that the government failed to prove two critical elements in the case:

The artifacts on national forest land were worth at least $1,000, and the accused looters knew or should have known what they were stealing was of archaeological value.

Upshot: The prosecution did not offer any economic value of the artifacts (they had one appraisal for $800-900 but did not introduce it) and did not demonstrate that the looters knew the scientific value of the objects. Thus, there was no warrant to convict on the basis of the ARP. They didn't get off scott free though:

A federal jury found them guilty of theft of government property, but acquitted them of unlawful excavation of archaeological resources.

Since you can't pick up a random rock -- or anything else -- off of Federal land legally.

Not sure how this translates into the fear that this "effectively provides a license to steal" since stealing anything can get you convicted anyway, except to get it out of ARP application. But it does seem to undermine the idea that you can apply ARP on anything just by waving around the scientific or cultural "value" of an object. So it appears that the court has ruled that any non-monetary value is basically inadmissible.

I could be misinterpreting this though. Read the whole thing and see what you think. I'm gonna try to contact some of the particulars.

UPDATE: Looking through this again, I see this paragraph:
The 9th Circuit said under federal law, archaeological value is not the
value of the artifact itself but of all the archaeological knowledge that
goes with it, based on how much it would cost to obtain that knowledge.

So, maybe they're saying the prosecution here didn't sufficiently detail what the monetary value of obtaining the archaeological/scientific information (which I assume means how much it would cost to go acquire, conserve, study, and publish on these objects) would be; hence, without either that or a market value, the ARP was not applicable.

UPDATE II: More here. This quote*:

“Essentially the government must prove the defendant knew this was an archaeological resource and knew the actual scientific benefit - which essentially says only archaeological scientists could be convicted in such a case,” she said.

Seems to indicate that the court threw out any notion of scientific value that can't be assigned a monetary value and isn't explicitly designated an archaeological "site" which is what the defense argued by saying it wasn't posted as such. Which seems kind of dumb since you really can't expect the NPS to survey every square inch of federal land and put signs up wherever there's an artifact.

* That one was in the original story, too, but didn't make a lot of sense to me in that context.

UPDATE III: Came across this link while looking up some of the personalities involved. It's a free text of a book, "Protecting the Past", put out by CRC Press:
. . .edited by George S. Smith and John E. Ehrenhard and published in 1991 by CRC Press, is a collection of 37 contributions from 48 authors that presents some of the current thinking and ongoing work in the field of archeological resource protection. It is written for a diverse audience-archeologists, attorneys, educators, and others-who can most effectively help decrease the amount of archeological resource crime taking place in America.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A good archaeological joke for a change! Students privy to family's history through unusual research project
University of Akron student Mary Kenepp painstakingly scraped away thin layers of dirt in a shallow ditch near the historic Hower House as if she were looking for buried treasure.

In reality, Kenepp and her classmates in Linda Whitman's archaeology and anthropology class were searching for wealthy industrialist John Hower's privy, a refined way of referring to the family's outhouse.

Y'all go send that author thanks.
Dumb pun #16,978 Can You Dig It?
For 10 James Madison University archaeology interns, dirt is life.

They sit in it, stare at it, scrape at it, draw it and when they sleep, they dream about it.

But why the dirty job?

To dig up the truth, of course.

They’re trying, literally, to uncover the original location of James Madison’s front gate at his home, Montpelier, located near Orange.

Note to all professional archaeologists out there: When approached by any form of journalist, your first statement should be "Do not use any form of the 'digging archaeology' joke."
Not that one for a change Divers begin search for underwater 'Atlantis'
Ten divers began a seven-day search for a possible underwater "Atlantis" on Friday in the Fuxian Lake near Kunming, the second-deepest freshwater pool in the country.

Local diver Geng Wei first told of a large ancient city in the lake eight years ago, thought to span 2.4 square kilometres. Geng claimed to have seen lots of square boulders more than 1.4 square metres in size, either piled or scattered deep underwater.

In 2001, the local government launched the first large exploration of the lake, which was broadcast live across the nation by China Central Television (CCTV).

Doesn't seem to be anything particularly convincing so far.
Bones unearthed in S.J. appear to be from ancient burial site
A construction site where a San Jose city crew unearthed human bones early this week appears to be an ancient American Indian burial site, according to police and a local archaelogist.

Workers were digging Tuesday morning to install a culvert on Sanborn Avenue near Alma Avenue when they struck what appeared to be human bones.

Construction has been temporarily stopped on the site until the city negotiates disposition of the ancient remains with the Native American Heritage Commission, a California body that ensures protection of such sites.
Cemetery gives up Saxon secrets
Archaeologists have struck gold to unearth buried treasure in Carterton.

Experts have been investigating part of a new cemetery in Black Bourton - and have discovered a Saxon gilded buckle.

Archaeologists from the John Moore Archaeological Service made the discovery during a dig on a 30m by 15m area of land at the site.
Disputed collection holds keys to Machu Picchu's secrets
Even after decades of study, Yale University's collection of relics from Machu Picchu continues to reveal new details about life in the Incan city in the clouds.

The bones tell stories about the health of the Incan people. The metal tools hint at the society's technological advancement. The artifacts help scientists reconstruct ancient trade routes.

Archaeologists say they've even learned that the Incan diet revolved not around the Peruvian staple of potatoes, but was based largely on maize. All this from restudying a collection that's nearly a century old.

The government of Peru wants it back, saying it never relinquished ownership when Yale scholar Hiram Bingham III rediscovered the city in 1911 and began exporting artifacts from what has become one of the world's most famous archaeological sites.

This looked to be a story on the analysis of previousy collected material but is mostly about repatriation issues. But, you know, analyzing older collections is still a Good Thing to do.
Hail to the blogs! Mark Rose tackles the Bosnian "Pyramids"
One might have thought that the Ice Age Bosnian pyramid story would collapse like a bad soufflé, but no. Mainstream media has become somewhat more critical of stories emanating from Visoko, but much of the real work in dissecting the claims has appeared on blogs and message boards, such as The Hall of Ma'at (see "Pseudoscience in Cyberspace"). Unfortunately, the mainstream folks haven't picked up on much of this. Meanwhile, the professional community has become more outspoken, notably with a recent field trip to the site by Anthony Harding, who is president of the European Association of Archaeologists, and in response to a proposed UNESCO mission to the site.

That's actually where blogs are their most useful. This sort of story is, except for the initial claim, pretty much under the radar of most news organizations, and even if they do investigate it more, any sort of follow-up will usually be found as a footnote on page E-22. Blogs, populated by interested professionals, can spend the time to really look into these esoteric topics and get the word out that way.
Oldest known frescoed tomb is found
A suspected tomb raider has led archaeologists to what experts described Friday as the oldest known frescoed burial chamber in Europe.

The tomb, located on a wheat field north of Rome, belonged to a warrior prince from the nearby Etruscan town of Veio, said archaeologists who took journalists on a tour of the site.

Dating from around 690 B.C., the underground burial chamber is decorated with roaring lions and migratory birds. Experts are hailing it as the earliest example of the funerary decorations that would become common in Greece and Rome.

Picture of part of it here.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Google Earth update Someone on the EEF lists mentioned that Google Earth has updated some of their satellite images of Egypt, especially the Delta. It's true: the Delta can now be viewed at much higher resolution and clarity than before. Do check it out.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

And for all the nerds out there A free article from American Scientist. Haven't read the whole thing yet, but having straddled both realms -- computer science and archaeology -- for some time now, a lot of this is a trip down memory lane:

The Semicolon Wars
The creators of a new programming language are not just adding variety for its own sake; they are trying to make something demonstrably better. But the very fact that the proliferation of languages goes on and on argues that we still haven't gotten it right. We still don't know the best notation—or even a good-enough notation—for expressing an algorithm or defining a data structure.

There are programmers of my acquaintance who will dispute that last statement. I expect to hear from them. They will argue—zealously, ardently, vehemently—that we have indeed found the right programming language, and for me to claim otherwise is willful ignorance. The one true language may not yet be perfect, they'll concede, but it's built on a sound foundation and solves the main problems, and now we should all work together to refine and improve it. The catch, of course, is that each of these friends will favor a different language. It's Lisp, says one. No, it's Python. It's Ruby. It's Java, C#, Lua, Haskell, Prolog, Curl.

Pascal roolz, C droolz, btw.
Jade Axes Proof of Vast Ancient Caribbean Network, Experts Say
A discovery of ancient jade could shake up old notions of the New World before Columbus. Scientists say they have traced 1,500-year-old axe blades found in the eastern Caribbean to ancient jade mines in Central America 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) away, New York's American Museum of Natural History announced late last month.

The blades were excavated in the late 1990s by a Canadian archaeologist on the island of Antigua in the West Indies (see map of Antigua and Barbuda).

But the jade used to make the blades almost certainly came from Maya mines in distant Guatemala (see map of Guatemala), says mineralogist George Harlow of the American Museum of Natural History.

Not something I'd heard of before, but it sounds interesting. Yeah, archaeology on Caribbean islands. . . .
Biblical archaeology update In a Ruined Copper Works, Evidence That Bolsters a Doubted Biblical Tale
In biblical lore, Edom was the implacable adversary and menacing neighbor of the Israelites. The Edomites lived south of the Dead Sea and east of the desolate rift valley known as Wadi Arabah, and from time to time they had to be dealt with by force, notably by the likes of Kings David and Solomon.

Today, the Edomites are again in the thick of combat — of the scholarly kind. The conflict is heated and protracted, as is often the case with issues related to the reliability of the Bible as history.

Chronology is at the crux of the debate. Exactly when did the nomadic tribes of Edom become an organized society with the might to threaten Israel? Were David and Solomon really kings of a state with growing power in the 10th century B.C.? Had writers of the Bible magnified the stature of the two societies at such an early time in history?
Katrina archaeology In Katrina's Wake
My day-to-day work during those three months transformed the way I see the archaeology of New Orleans, as well as the archaeology of disaster. I now recognize how emotions, as much as environmental conditions, politics, and economic forces, can shape the archaeological record.
. . .

From my brief deployment after Katrina, I can see that post-K demolition and rebuilding efforts will test the limits of the federal government and state agencies to respond to threats posed to an area with one of the largest concentrations of historic resources in the country. It's likely that Katrina will rewrite how archaeological sites and historic structures are managed in the context of disasters. It's even possible it will reshape preservation practices.
Bones & Bureaucrats March/April 1993
The bones of 420 enslaved Africans found last year under a parking lot two blocks north of New York's City Hall comprise the largest and earliest collection of African-American remains, and possibly the largest and earliest collection of American colonial remains of any ethnic group. The excavation of the old Negros Burial Ground has challenged the popular belief that there was no slavery in colonial New York, and has provided unparalleled data for the Howard University scholars who will study the remains of New York's first African Americans. But as archaeologists removed the remains one by one, they dug up age-old resentment and suspicion with every trowel-full of earth. Scholarly excitement was tempered by the protest of the city's black community, which felt its concerns were not being addressed in decisions about the excavation and disposition of the remains. In the flurry of protests, negotiations, and political maneuverings, the controversy took on an undeniably racial cast. The African Burial Ground, as it is known today, became a "microcosm of the issues of racism and economic exploitation confronting New York City," says Michael L. Blakey, a Howard University anthropologist and the burial ground's scientific director.

Also visit the links there.
Fore! Medieval homes under golf course
The remains of a medieval village have been discovered at the Archerfield estate in East Lothian under the site of a new golf course.
Archaeologists have uncovered several houses from the 12th to 15th centuries in the middle of the 17th fairway of the new course.

Every inch of the medieval homes will be recorded before the golf course is safely created on the top.

Hmmm. Looks like they are going to do some excavation and then cover up whatever remains and landscape the course right over it.
And now. . .the news from the EEF

On the website of David Cintron, some of his papers are
available online (in PDF):
-- "A New Angle on Snefru's Pyramids" (ARCE 2003 letcure)
-- "Aspects of Nephthys"(ARCE 2004 lecture)
-- "Narmer: A Fish out of Water?"
-- "Old Kingdom Egypt: An Insider's Primer"

Actually, that's it. Most everything else has already been posted in one form or another.

End of EEF news
EEF link update

Some EEF links in earlier posts are incorrect. And I can't edit the ones that far back. The correct URL is:
Cradle of an early civilisation
THE Bujang Valley in Kedah was the bustling centre of a rich and prosperous kingdom between the third and 12th century AD.

It was then known as Nusantara, a Sanskrit word which means ‘seat of all felicities.’

The area, which was also called Bujanga or ‘Valley of the Serpent’ was Southeast Asia’s central trading entreport which dealt with cargo brought by Arab, Chinese, Indian as well as maritime traders from the Malay archipelago.

Heh. Bosnian Pyramids: Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Atlantis
If something looks like a pyramid, and every news source says it's a pyramid then you'd have to have a fairly good reason to think there might be something else going on.

Blog entry with quite a bit of discussion and links on the various aspects of it.

And speaking of which: Seductions of Pseudoarchaeology: Pseudoscience in Cyberspace
"[Pseudoarchaeological] perpetrators and their followers seemed to deal with each and every objection by abusing the questioner, twisting facts, or invoking an Egyptological conspiracy that would make Watergate look insignificant," says Wall, who claims to be particularly proud of having been labeled a "sniveling, insinuating little worm" by one preeminent pseudoarchaeological author during an online discussion.

I checked out the Hall of Ma'at web site and it looks like a reasonable addition to the link list.
Is It Long-Ago Reality Or Reality TV? Virtual Worlds Bring Past to Life
Computer technology brings ancient worlds to life, but archaeologists debate whether it resembles long-ago reality or reality TV. Jeffrey Clark, Ph.D., director of the Archaeology Technologies Laboratory at North Dakota State University, Fargo, notes the technology that creates such virtual worlds allows people to explore historical locations in a unique way. At the same time, virtual models of past places and the artifacts found there may portray facts bolstered with assumptions. Clark’s comments are among those featured in the article “Digital Digs” in a recent issue of Nature.
Archaeological site yields dental surprise
Thousands of years before screen idols began beautifying themselves with cosmetic dentistry ancient Mexicans were getting ceremonial dentures.

Researchers report Wednesday that they found a 4,500-year-old burial in Mexico that had the oldest known example of dental work in the Americas.

The upper front teeth of the remains had been ground down so they could be mounted with animal teeth, possibly wolf or panther teeth, for ceremonial purposes, according to researchers led by Tricia Gabany-Guerrero of the University of Connecticut.

More here.
News from Paris. . . . .Texas Archaeologists uncovering history at ranch
Archaeologists are finding and making history at Gene and Ruth Ann Stallings' Hike-A-Way Ranch north of Paris.

Participants in the Texas Archeological Society Field School found evidence this week of the prehistoric Fourche Maline tribe on the Stallings' ranch during a dig. An open house is set for 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the site, so the public can view the dig site.

The Fourche Maline tribe is considered to be a predecessor to the Caddo. Northern Lamar County is the farthest west a Fourche Maline site has been found, Dr. Alan Skinner of AR Consultants Inc. in Dallas said. During the field school, professional and amateur archeologists found evidence of both Caddo and Fourche Maline houses.
Show us the money! Coweta gets grant for archaeology
Coweta County received a grant of $16,810 toward archaeological services at the property where the Battle of Brown's Mill occurred during the Civil War.

The grant, awarded by the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service, will define the critical area of the Hotchkiss Battery in order to prepare a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Battle of Brown's Mill.

The Battle of Brown's Mill was an important encounter in the Civil War because it changed the Union's tactics to cut Atlanta's rail connection with the rest of the Confederacy, an NPS press release said.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More Hmmmmmm New glacier theory on Stonehenge
A geology team has contradicted claims that bluestones were dug by Bronze Age man from a west Wales quarry and carried 240 miles to build Stonehenge.
In a new twist, Open University geologists say the stones were in fact moved to Salisbury Plain by glaciers.

Last year archaeologists said the stones came from the Preseli Hills.

Recent research in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology suggests the stones were ripped from the ground and moved by glaciers during the Ice Age.

So they're syaing these things are glacial erratics. TO me that sounds kind of plausible. But then, how could a glacier drop them down in such precise alignments??!!

Okay, kidding. One would assume that there would be some sort of distribution of similar erratics outside of the procurement area that could be used to bolster this idea. OTOH, one would think that a bunch of large erratics would have been noticed by now since these things tend to frost-heave their way to the surface. Maybe they used all the big erratics in the area? Still, seems like a neat hypothesis that one could support in a number of ways.

Personal note: Being from Wisconsin, I have a keen knowledge of erratics. Being composed of largely glacial outwash, south-central Wisconsin is prime erratic area and in fact the farms around the are are nearly all bounded by rock fences built out of the erratics they had to haul out of the field every year due to frost heave. Matter of fact, my maternal grandfather was killed well before I was born while engaging in such activity.
How the bow and arrow helped humans to colonise the world
The invention of the world's first bows and arrows may have played a part in the eventual colonisation of much of the world by Homo sapiens.

In a groundbreaking paper published yesterday, Paul Mellars, one of Britain's leading archaeologists and a Cambridge professor, suggests Homo sapiens' dominance of much of the world was triggered by a technological revolution which caused a demographic explosion between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago. As a result, the population of one particular human ethnic group expanded up to 1,000 times over.

The dramatic population increase then forced tribes to search for new hunting grounds, first within Africa, and then, by 60,000 years ago, outside it.

Hmmmm. Nothing saying why he thinks this. There will probably be more written about this.
A moment of truth for all in the antiquities field
No longer should museums be able to buy antiquities or accept them as a gift while turning a blind eye to the question of where they come from. Nor will it be credible for museums to go through the legal farce practised by the Getty and other US museums in the past of asking the authorities in possible source countries whether they knew that a potential purchase had been illicitly excavated or exported, and then acquiring the item when the answer was in the negative. The museums have been forced to recognise that, by their very nature, illicitly excavated or exported items have a concealed history, so of course the authorities know little or nothing about them.

Opinion piece.

Speaking of which: Stolen Egyptian artifact removed from NY auction
A 4000-year-old Egyptian alabaster container shaped like a duck and used for a funeral offering has been withdrawn from auction because it may be stolen property, Christie's auction house said on Monday.

The Old Kingdom alabaster offering vessel dating from 2575 to 2134 BC was expected to sell for $20,000 to $30,000 before it was withdrawn from the sale, according to the Christie's online catalog for its June 16 sale of antiquities in New York.
Now this is a good idea A multimedia archaeological tour on your mobile phone
An Italian-led research project is developing a service that allows visitors to use their camera-equipped 3G mobile telephones to get a personalised multimedia guide to archaeological sites and museums.
A tour of a big outdoor cultural site can sometimes be a frustrating experience if objects are not easily located, identified or placed in historical context. The Agamemnon project is working on an interactive multimedia system that provides relevant text, videos, speech and pictures with 3D reconstructions, to visitors' mobile telephones, says Matteo Villa, an engineer from the project coordinator, Milan-based TXT e-Solutions.

Agamemnon tailors a visit path based on site visitors’ interests, cultural knowledge and time available. The on-screen itinerary constantly updates as the visitor moves around the site. The system's image-recognition function allows visitors to dial in via a data line, photograph objects they are interested in and receive information about them. Agamemnon also takes voice commands.

A completely updatable, always-on automatic guide system.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Final fight to save 1066 battlefield
The final push in a long-running fight to save the site of the "other battle of 1066" will begin tomorrow.

Campaigners will be appealing against a housing development on a water meadow near the scene of the Battle of Fulford, which is on the outskirts of York.

It was seen by some as a crucial factor in Saxon King Harold's defeat less than a month later by William, Duke of Normandy, at Hastings.
Rock star chart update The Arizona rock art supposedly depicting a well-known supernova has drawn some attention. Ker Than at LiveScience passed along the question we posed as well regarding whether or not the scorpion actually represented the constellation Scorpio to the original author, John Barentine who replied:

“Your readers are right, this announcement very well should be greeted with some skepticism. The identification of what I refer to as a scorpion petroglyph with the classical constellation of Scorpius is, naturally, tentative. I make my case for these glyphs representing the 1006 supernova event largely on the arrangement of the scorpion and the bright star being very similar to the arrangement of these figures in the sky on the night the supernova appeared. Historical research (e.g. that of Richard Hinckley Allen in “Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning”, Dover Publications, 1963) suggests that in virtually every world culture where scorpions are indigenous creatures, the stars of the modern constellation Scorpius were identified with scorpions and their mythology. In fact, I believe Allen refers to this constellation and Taurus as among the “oldest” constellations in terms of their appearance in history.

“That said, of course there is the probability that the appearance of these symbols in proximity to one another is coincidental. Given that the people who created the drawing left no written record of their history, it’s impossible to verify this claim independently. However, we are pursuing the avenue of attempting to date the petroglyph via chemical means. A date roughly corresponding to the early 11th century would, I think, support my claim. Also, there is as much circumstantial evidence for my claim as there is for the famous Crab Nebula pictograph in Chaco Canyon, NM, with which many archaeologists do not agree. So my announcement today is a suggestion, first and foremost, worth further investigation.”

So it's possible that this particular constellation may be linked with a scorpion in different cultures.
And speaking of conservation. . . The Battle to Save the Cave
For more than 17,000 years, the bestiary of the Lascaux cave in southwestern France survived the ravages of history, unseen and undiscovered. Entering it now is like walking into a time capsule, where 12-foot-long bulls and plump yellow horses appear to float across the vaults like religious apparitions. Although the draftsmanship is strikingly Modernist--on exiting the cave in 1940, Pablo Picasso is said to have remarked, "We have invented nothing"--these creations are remnants of the Upper Paleolithic Age, when our hunter-gatherer ancestors acquired the gift of consciousness and a knack for nature drawing.

This will be difficult to deal with, even once/if the fungus is eventually irradicated. One is tempted to just say "Seal it up and hope everyone forgets about it" but that probably can't be done, assuming the cave was not sealed up to begin with; that is, if the stuff inside survived inside an open (to whatever extent) cave, just sealing it up might cause more harm than good. But if you don't seal it up, people will continue to go in. I personally am not confident that anything can be done long-term -- i.e., thousands of years -- to preserve them apart from putting the condition of the cave back to where it was before it was discovered and finding some way to block access.

But it's a good article so read the whole thing.
Irish archeology nears crisis point
THE unprecedented boom in property development and road building has unearthed thousands of archeological artefacts but most of them lie gathering dust in warehouses, hidden from public view.

With nearly 200 times more excavations being carried out than in the early 1990s, new discoveries are no longer being reported and Ireland’s museums no longer have space to house them. As a result, academics claim the country is being denied an opportunity to learn more about its history.

A report prepared by University College Dublin (UCD) and the Heritage Council says an unprecedented amount of new information about Ireland’s ancient cultures remains unpublished because of “systemic failures” and pressure from developers to get archeology “out of the way for the next development”.

Doesn't sound too good. And as we know, for every day of fieldwork there is probably a month of curation, analysis, and publishing to be done. Not to mention housing the stuff.
Search for India's ancient city
Archaeologists working on India's south-west coast believe they may have solved the mystery of the location of a major port which was key to trade between India and the Roman Empire - Muziris, in the modern-day state of Kerala.
For many years, people have been in search of the almost mythical port, known as Vanchi to locals.

Much-recorded in Roman times, Muziris was a major centre for trade between Rome and southern India - but appeared to have simply disappeared.

Now, however, an investigation by two archaeologists - KP Shajan and V Selvakumar - has placed the ancient port as having existed where the small town of Pattanam now stands, on India's south-west Malabar coast.
Archaeological treasures tell of civilizations from long ago
The evidence of those who lived before us is disappearing as rapidly as new developments emerge.

In Sand Lake Coulee, evidence of a 600-year-old village has been found. Some artifacts found there date back 10,000 years.

It is one of two places in the U.S. that archeologists have found preserved, prehistoric farm fields that were buried and it is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But that doesn't necessarily protect it.

“That area has an amazing wealth of archeology,” Robert “Ernie” Boszhardt said. “Unfortunately a lot of this has been lost through development.”
More here.

Lost civilization treasure found returned Looted Maya Treasure Returned Anonymously
A 1,500-year-old Maya stone box that had been looted from a Guatemalan cave has been returned by an unnamed collector.

The artifact was delivered anonymously to officials at Guatemala's Ministry of Culture last week.
Experts had described the artifact as one of the most impressive finds from the Early Classic Period (A.D. 250-600) of ancient Maya civilization.

The vessel's theft, first noticed two months ago, led Guatemalan authorities to launch a national investigation.
Charles F. Brush, Archaeologist Who Piled Adventure Upon Adventure, Dies at 83
Charles F. Brush III, an archaeologist who as president of the Explorers Club persuaded his brethren to take on a singular adventure — admitting women to their den of stuffed polar bears, tarantula appetizers and overstuffed armchairs — died on June 1 in Manhattan. He was 83.

The cause was congestive heart failure, his son, Charles IV, said.

Dr. Brush, who lived in Shelter Island, N.Y., took up mountain climbing at 49, ran his first marathon at 54, and climbed the sheer Devil's Tower in Wyoming at 70, two days after taking up rock climbing. One of the legendary parties he had at his Park Avenue penthouse had Allen Ginsberg sitting in the nude chanting in front of a Buddha sculpture in the living room, The New York Times reported in 1993.

. . .

Charles IV said his father may have become bored with archaeology, so he turned to challenges like mountain climbing and scuba diving.

Bored with archaeology???!!!

I attended a function of Explorers many years ago. They are, indeed, an interesting bunch. They do tend to have an affection for the old-style adventurer aspects of archaeology. One hesitates to dismiss them out of hand as simple dilettantes, since exploration into more remote regions can indeed result in signficant discoveries even today.
A closer look at the Little Salt Spring
Trained archaeologists were at Little Salt Spring Saturday to give area residents the lowdown on Little Salt Spring.

And in the case of North Port's most famous archaeological site, "lowdown" means just that: about 250 feet, the depth of the sinkhole.

The sinkhole is a classic "cenote," a sinkhole caused by the erosion of limestone by underground water. It is fed by underwater springs, and except for the water close to the surface, it is devoid of oxygen in much of its depth.
Archaeologists try to save ancient sites
Government-funded archaeologists are making a push to survey ancient sites across a remote stretch of southern Utah before looters can scoop up the last artifacts.

One team is recovering treasures before they disappear from the ground along Comb Ridge, an 80-mile monocline that Native Americans worship as the very spine of the earth. Another is shoring up the crumbling walls of ancient dwellings at 10 sites in the same region, about 300 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

The efforts come as federal and local agencies celebrate the centennial of the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives the president authority to create national monuments to preserve the nation's ancient cultural sites and unusual geological features.
Third-century Basque inscriptions found in archaeological site

The confirmation of this date would cause a revolution on the theories of the origins of the Basque language, since the most ancient documents recorded up to this moment were from the eleventh century.
Remains of Village Halt Track Construction
Just as construction has finally begun on the long awaited harness track in Anoka County, north of Minneapolis, Minnesota, officials have learned that progress will be hindered once again - this time by the discovery of a prehistoric Indian village.

Project officials recently discovered the remains of a prehistoric village on the Columbus Township land, state archaeologist Scott Anfinson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

"They're going to do a fairly major excavation to mitigate the development of the track," Anfinson said. "The village material looked to be, some of it, several thousands of years old."

They're only expecting it to take 1-2 weeks so it doesn't appear to be a big settlement, if at all (it mentions extending the excavation if a house is found). Hard to tell what is there actually.