Sunday, September 24, 2006

Blogging update

No blogging for an entire week as I will be out stomping around the Olympic Rain Forest. No TV. No cell phones.


Or Internet, obviously.

Posting will probably resume Sunday, Oct. 1.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bosnian "pyramids" update
A reader commented somewhere (I get all comments in email) and provided a link for a site generated by RObert Schoch, he of the-sphinx-is-12,000-years-old fame. While that particular hypothesis is not at all accepted in Egypt, Schoch seems to go quite a ways towards debunking the supposed pyramids in Bosnia here.
Peer review: A transitory phenomenon?

The New Atlantis has this article up: Rethinking Peer Review: How the Internet is Changing Science Journals
In recent times, the term “peer reviewed” has come to serve as shorthand for “quality.” To say that an article appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal is to claim a kind of professional approbation; to say that a study hasn’t been peer reviewed is tantamount to calling it disreputable. Up to a point, this is reasonable. Reviewers and editors serve as gatekeepers in scientific publishing; they eliminate the most uninteresting or least worthy articles, saving the research community time and money.

But peer review is not simply synonymous with quality. Many landmark scientific papers (like that of Watson and Crick, published just five decades ago) were never subjected to peer review, and as David Shatz has pointed out, “many heavily cited papers, including some describing work which won a Nobel Prize, were originally rejected by peer review.”

This is something I'd never actually considered, though I suppose after reading various histories of science, one would more or less get it by osmosis that much earlier work was never formally peer-reviewed"; it got published if editors liked it, and then it was either accepted or rejected. The peer-review process was distributed.

The Cochrane Collaboration, an international healthcare analysis group based in the U.K., published a report in 2003 concluding that there is “little empirical evidence to support the use of editorial peer review as a mechanism to ensure quality of biomedical research, despite its widespread use and costs.” The Royal Society has also studied the effects of peer review. As the chairman of the investigating committee told a British newspaper in 2003, “We are all aware that some referees’ reports are not worth the paper they are written on. It’s also hard for a journal editor when reports come back that are contradictory, and it’s often down to a question of a value judgment whether something is published or not.”

That's somewhat true. I've had reviews that seemed more or less, well, in a word, dumb. That is, brief dismissals of nearly the entire thing, after which it goes on to be published in that same journal. And there's certain politics involved: no matter how dumb you think the comments are, you still need to politely and formally address all of them in your resubmittal.

. . .peer review has been criticized for being used by the scientific establishment “to prevent unorthodox ideas, methods, and views, regardless of their merit, from being made public” and for its secretiveness and anonymity.

Eh, this doesn't seem to be much of a problem, except for those papers that aren't too far out of the mainstream. Virtually anything can get published somewhere; not getting it in a peer-reviewed journal means it doesn't have the seal of authority (which the article goes some way to call into question) but all sorts of crap ends up being put out into the public domain one way or another.

The article also touches on a couple of online-only "journals" (if you can call them that) that are experimenting with other methods of review, such as posting initial drafts and letting anyone review it, let the manuscript get updated depending on comments, etc. It makes the review-and-revise process fairly dynamic instead of static.

But this goes back to this post that referenced an Althouse post on the place of law journal articles in an Internet-driven world. I wrote:
Journals are, I think, the high point of the profession and mark the standard of dialog that we use to hash out the big theoretical and methodological issues of the day. They have to be carefully reasoned and presented with adequate supporting data in order to provide a proper basis for discussion. Having the work set in stone, as it were, gives the whole process a baseline to work from. Creating a set piece of work that can be reviewed and presented at a single time and place fulfills that.

I still don't know how one might reference a constantly-evolving piece of work. References are shorthand for arguments we don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time on, but what if a particular reference keeps changing? People change their minds and their thinking evolves, but one can always reference later works to reflect that. Depends on how this online constant-review process works; it seems to me there needs to be some point at which one can set what one thinks in stone so that it can be a set point for discussion.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

And now. . . .the news from the EEF

Press report: "Rare Egyptian antiquities now on-line"
"Egypt will be posting a collection of antiquities, on display at
the Egyptian Museum in Turin, on the Eternal Egypt website
-- Another, much longer, press report about this:

Press report: "Greek language engravings discovered in Alexandria"
"The engravings, which were discovered close to the Amoud al-Sawari
[Pompey's Pillar] monument, are said to date back to the times of Roman
Emperor Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161-180 AD.)"

A press report that features the Turin Kings List:

Press report: "Solving 3,000-year-old mysteries"
Interview with Bob Brier.

Digitized books from "Google Book Search"
-- Samuel Sharpe, Rudiments of a Vocabulary of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, 1837.
xi, 151 pp., 16 pls. - pdf-file: 4.8 MB

"Online Journals of the Royal Society"
"Nearly three and a half centuries of scientific study and achievement is
now available online in the Royal Society Journals Digital Archive following
its official launch this week. This is the longest-running and arguably most
influential journal archive in Science, including all the back articles of
both Philosophical Transactions and Proceedings.
For the first time the Archive provides online access to all journal
content, from Volume One, Issue One in March 1665 until the latest
modern research published today ahead of print. And until December
the archive is freely available to anyone on the internet to explore."
There are several articles related to AE; a selection:

-- I. E. S. Edwards, Absolute Datings from Egyptian Records and
Comparison with Carbon-14 Datings, in: The Impact of the Natural
Sciences on Archaeology. A Joint Symposium of the Royal Society
and the British Academy organized by a Committee under the
Chairmanship of T. E. Allibone, London, The Oxford University
Press, 1970 (= Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
London A 269 [1970]), 11-18 (3 tables) - pdf-file: 920 KB
"Following a brief description of Egyptian chronology and
the methods by which it is established, the author compares
the results with those obtained through radiocarbon dating.
The latter, though less reliable, are on the whole confirmed
by the historical dates ascertained from the Egyptian
monuments." (quote from the AEB)

-- R. Berger, Ancient Egyptian Radiocarbon Chronology, in:
The Impact of the Natural Sciences on Archaeology. A Joint
Symposium of the Royal Society and the British Academy
organized by a Committee under the Chairmanship of T. E.
Allibone, London, The Oxford University Press, 1970
(= Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London
A 269 [1970]), 23-36 - pdf-file: 1.9 MB
"Description of a research into ancient Egyptian materials, mostly
reed and linen, in order to check the radiocarbon chronology. There
appears to be a discrepancy for the dates before Sesostris III
between the dates suggested by Egyptologists and those resulting
from the C-14 measurements, but by calibration against the
bristlecone pine correlation these measurements can be
converted to dates close to fitting the accepted historical chronology."

-- R. A. Parker, Ancient Egyptian Astronomy, in: The Place of
Astronomy in the Ancient World. A Joint Symposium of The
Royal Society and the British Academy organized by D. G. Kendall,
S. Piggott, D. G. King-Hele and I. E. S. Edwards. Edited by F. R.
Hodson, London, Published for the British Academy by Oxford
University Press, 1974 (= Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society London A vol. 276, No. 1257), 51-65 (3 fig., 2 tables,
4 pl.) - pdf-file: 12 MB
"In the introduction to this survey of Egyptian astronomy the
author stresses its relatively small importance for the Egyptian
civilization until the Ptolemaic Period. He further discusses the
major subjects of Egyptian astronomy: early calendars; the
diagonal star clocks (depicted on Middle Kingdom coffin lids)
and their mechanism; the decanal hours; the so-called cosmology
of Sethi I and Ramses IV; the later star clocks preserved in the
ceiling adornment of some Ramesside royal tombs; the astronomical
ceiling in the tomb of Senmut; the planets, the northern constellation
(including the Big Dipper) and the zodiacs (a Babylonian import),
etc. The last section is devoted to late Demotic astronomical
papyri." (AEB)
Artifacts found under Missouri church
Archaeologists have uncovered coins, dishes, bullets, Indian jewelry and other artifacts from the remains of an 18th-century Catholic church rectory in suburban St. Louis that is said to be one of the oldest in the Midwest.

The remains were discovered recently below a half-foot of dirt at a Florissant park, the result of a three-year excavation of the area surrounding the former St. Ferdinand Catholic Church.

Six archaeologists helped uncover about 10,000 items at the park, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Another historical story here, too.
Ancient ruins at Marana park site
Archaeologists hope to dig one last time at a future Marana park site that has yielded several thousand prehistoric artifacts, some that predate pottery.

A final excavation season could begin next month at the Yuma Wash site, located just north of the intersection of Ina and Silverbell roads along the Santa Cruz River. Archaeologists in 1999 began excavations on the site, once home to a large settlement of Hohokam Indians.

Old Pueblo Archaeology Center found evidence of approximately 200 underground pithouses and above-ground pueblo homes.
Discoveries in old rail tunnel surprise contractors
Timber and rail found inside the historic tunnel No. 2 in Lyon County will be removed and documented, and may eventually make it back into the new tunnel construction, officials said Tuesday.

A team of excavators recently found several sets of the tunnel's original wooden frames while looking for an open portal on the east side. History is fuzzy, but it's believed both ends were blasted closed in 1969 to put out a fire that had been started by hippie squatters.

Historical stuff.
Preston artifacts help archaeologists see into past
What might look to a layman like a bunch of small- and medium-sized rocks, looks to archaeologists like historical blueprints of the former Norwich Hospital property.

State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni Tuesday displayed some of the 8,800 artifacts uncovered from a site on the hospital property where developer Joseph Gentile wants to build a $1.6 billion development, consisting of theme parks, a performing arts college, hotels and a movie studio.

"We're about the only ones who get excited about this stuff," Bellantoni said, as he held a handful of rock flakes. "These chips are very helpful for us in understanding the technological process of working stone."

Not much text but there are several artifact pictures.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Neanderthal update Researchers Offer a New Date for Neanderthals’ Last Stand
An international team of scientists thinks it has solved the ultimate mystery of the Neanderthals: where and when they made their last stand before extinction. It was at Gibraltar 28,000 years ago, the scientists say, about 2,000 years more recently than previously thought.

The archaeologists and paleontologists reported yesterday finding several hundred stone tools in Gorham’s Cave, on the rugged Mediterranean coast near the Rock of Gibraltar. They were made in the Mousterian stoneworking style, usually associated with Neanderthals. So far, no fossil bones of the cave occupants have been uncovered.

More from the Guardian here.
Computer hunt for rock carvings
A new imaging technique is helping archaeologists to find, interpret and conserve rock carvings in digital format

The technology that archaeologists and ICT researchers have recently adopted is called “structured light”. It is a method that quickly and easily reads off the three-dimensional shape of an object with the aid of a camera and a video projector. The images are transferred to a computer, which constructs a detailed three-dimensional model of the object. The method is normally used in reverse engineering, the process of making a 3D computer model of an existing physical object. It has also been used for product quality control, for example in the engineering industry.

I made an offhand comment on this the other day (can't find where tho), about using laser imaging with fine resolution to perhaps image very low relief etchings that are difficult to see with the naked eye, mostly for extremely worn monuments. This seems to be something that just might do the trick.
Eureka! Quarry near oilsands full of ancient artifacts
Oilsands activity has uncovered vast wealth of a different kind -- a 10,000-year-old quarry rich with tools and weapons from some of the first Albertans, including a pristine spearpoint still smeared with the blood of a woolly mammoth.

"It's got this echo of the Ice Age world," said Jack Ives, Alberta's provincial archeologist, who described the find in a hearing before the province's energy regulator yesterday.

"There's quite a rich concentration of artifacts."

Seems like a very significant site, what with it having depth and a large extent.
Eagle Mountain: Ancient rock art found at building site
Development in this booming Utah County city is nearly impossible to slow down.
Unless, of course, you run into 6,000-year-old petroglyphs.
That's the predicament developers for Eagle Mountain Ranch LLC faced when they learned part of their property slated for a residential subdivision contained archaic rock art.
"It is some of the oldest rock art in Utah," Nina Bowen, archivist for the Utah Rock Art Research Association, said in a news release. "Its style is very unique."
Ice Foiled Ancient Settlement of Britain Seven Times
There were eight waves of migration from continental Europe to the British Isles, the scientists say. Each migration attempt occurred when ice sheets retreated northward and the climate became warmer.

The ancient humans ventured to Britain during periods of low sea level (when much of the water was locked up in ice sheets), strolling across land bridges that now lie underneath the English Channel and parts of the North Sea.

But during harsh glacial periods, ice sheets traveled as far south as London, defeating the first seven invasions.

Kind of an update on an earlier story.
But can you teach it new tricks? 600-year-old dog puzzles experts
The 600-year-old bronze silhouette of a snarling dog unearthed on Teesside is baffling archaeologists.

The 9in-long "Hound of Hartlepool" was found by Tees Archaeology before building work began on the new Headland Sports Hall.

The dog has now been cleaned up and conserved by Durham University experts who are trying to work out what it is.
Not archaeology, but cool Amber: an ancient treasure that grew on trees
Throughout history, humans have mistaken amber to be the faeces of mythical beasts, a wax produced by giant ants, the fossilised spawn of huge fish or even elephant semen.

But to know the true origin of amber, particularly of deposits found in and around the Baltic Sea, one must turn back the clock an aeon or two.

Actually, there's not a whole lot of information there, it's mostly about a museum exhibit.
Battlefield archaeology update Gallipoli survey to reveal war secrets
Australia is to be part of a major three-nation archaeological survey of the Gallipoli battlefield, researchers say.

Associate Professor Chris Mackie from the University of Melbourne says the survey will combine conventional mapping with electromagnetic surveying to produce the most comprehensive historical and archaeological study ever conducted there.

"Most of the attention in the post-war period has been on the cemeteries," he says about studies of Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula.

"One of the things we'll be spending a great deal of time on is the mapping of the trenches to see how they cohere with surviving maps of the trenches and exploring what lies beneath."

No plans for excavating.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A big fat, Greek movie Acropolis to make Hollywood debut
The Acropolis will soon become the backdrop for a big-screen comedy after Athens gave the green light for the glory that was Greece to be used by Hollywood for the first time.

Breaking with a no-go policy, applied without distinction to the great and good of modern cinematography, Greece's powerful archaeological council (KAS) has permitted the classical masterpiece to feature in the movie - known for the moment as My Life in Ruins, and produced by Tom Hanks.

That seems odd that the Acropolis has never been a film set before.
Fight! Fight! II Catawbas angered over development plans
Museum officials and developers say they will meet with members of the Catawba Indian Nation and historic preservationists to discuss the best way to proceed with a 350-acre development planned in Fort Mill.

The decision comes amid concerns that the land contains what some experts have said are burial grounds that should be preserved.

York County Culture & Heritage Museum officials say they know of no burial grounds on the land. But archaeologists and tribal leaders, who say the property contains the remains of at least two 18th century Catawba villages, say there has never been a concerted search effort.
Fight! Fight! Archaeologist gagged by power firm
ENERGY chiefs have been accused of gagging one of Scotland's leading archaeologists after he discovered that proposed power lines would run through the site of a major "lost" battlefield.

Dr Tony Pollard has pinpointed the precise location of the 1715 Battle of Sheriffmuir, but the firm that commissioned the work, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), will not let him reveal his findings due to "legal advice".
Click here to find out more!

SSE is already facing growing environmental opposition to its plans for a £320m, 137-mile string of pylons from Beauly in Inverness-shire to Denny in Stirlingshire.
Dig hunts for clues to city's past
American newspapers largely ignored the daily lives of ethnic people and prostitutes in 19th century stories.
That includes local accounts of the Chinese and Japanese workers who built the area's railroads and the women who lived in the "Restricted District" along the eastern bank of Sand Creek.

Without newspaper accounts to guide them, historical researchers must turn to other methods to learn about their lives -- a physical record extracted from just below the surface of dirt above the creek, and as deep as 10 to 12 feet into the earth, said chief archaeologist Bob Weaver.

Not sure how accurate that first sentence is; it reminds me of a book I'd gotten several years ago called Wisconsin Death Trip. It's a collection of newspaper blurbs and photographs from Jackson County, WI from the 19th century. Obviously it concentrates on death announcements, but I wager there is a lot of interesting data from newspapers from back when describing all sorts of semi-mundane events involving locals.
Roadside dig: Archaeologists examine ODOT site before work starts
Before a busy stretch of Highway 20 can be widened, the state is ensuring that construction won’t destroy any remnants of people who lived here years ago.

A team of archaeologists contracted by ODOT spent Thursday digging at a spot near Highway 20 and Reeve’s Parkway in Lebanon for any significant historical remnants.

While they are not yet sure if they found anything important, Paul Baxter, staff archaeologist at University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History, said the pre-construction digging is a standard practice that sometimes yields results.

Shows a pic of them shovel-testing:

Friday, September 15, 2006

Archaeologists uncover site of historic Tolbooth on Royal Mile
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed a remarkable discovery on one of Scotland's most historic thoroughfares.
The Tolbooth on the Royal Mile has long been known to lie somewhere close to St Giles' cathedral but now, as part of the £1.5m facelift of the road, the precise location of the building has been discovered.
During its chequered past the Tolbooth was used as the Council Chambers, the Scottish Parliament sat there, and it was once the site of the High Court. Latterly, it became the old town gaol and among the notorious criminals imprisoned there was Deacon Brodie.

Artists' conception of what the Tolbooth building may have looked like:
Remains Linked to Massacre Found in Nephi
Digging in a ravine, a home builder discovered the remains of seven American Indians believed to have been killed in 1853 during a conflict with Mormon pioneers.

A scientist described the discovery in Nephi, 85 miles south of Salt Lake City, as extremely important.

"These people have an important story to tell," assistant state archaeologist Ronald Rood said.

Texas tollway project yields infant grave
Archaeologists in Texas are studying the gravesite of an infant girl who died more than 100 years ago and unearthed recently by construction workers.

Signs of the infant's wooden casket were discovered near the path for the Dallas North Tollway extension in the town of Frisco in Collin County, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The infant had been buried in the Sonntag Family Cemetery and her grave was overlooked years ago when the remains of other family members were removed.
Writing on Stone May Be Oldest in the Americas
A stone slab found in the state of Veracruz in Mexico bears 3,000-year-old writing previously unknown to scholars, according to archaeologists who say it is an example of the oldest script ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere.

The order and pattern of carved symbols appeared to be that of a true writing system, according to the Mexican scientists who have studied the slab and colleagues from the United States. It had characteristics strikingly similar to imagery of the Olmec civilization, considered the earliest in pre-Columbian America, they said.

Finding a heretofore-unknown writing system is a rare event. One of the last such discoveries, scholars say, was the Indus Valley script, identified by archaeologists in 1924.

The dating may be a problem:
A few other researchers were skeptical of the dating of the inscription, noting that the stone was uncovered in a gravel quarry where it and other artifacts were jumbled and may have been out of their original context.

The discovery team said that ceramic shards, clay figurines and other broken artifacts accompanying the stone appeared to be from a particular phase of Olmec culture that ended about 900 B. C. But they acknowledged that the disarray at the site made it impossible to determine whether the stone had originally been in a place relating to the governing elite or to religious ceremony.

But from the info provided, unless there are other artifacts present that can be definitively shown to be of later date, the jumbling of the deposits may not be all that significant. WIll have to check the actual Science article for the dating criteria, but there don't appear to be too many red flags waving in the breeze. An added plus is that it wasn't trumpeted right when it was found (1999) so they appear to have a minimum taken their time with it.

Enlarge the image to see the scribblings, btw; the small preview doesn't really show anything.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This just in: Shakira digs history USA Weekend via Gawker via PhDiva via Mark Morgan via email:
She may fit the mold of MTV vixen, but Shakira (who reportedly has an IQ of 140) has no interest in being the next Britney. For her upcoming world tour, she has decided to skip the personal trainer and masseur and instead made the surprising decision to hire a history professor for in-the-field tutorials. "We're getting someone on sabbatical," manager Ceci Kurzman says, "so that each place we go she can get a history lesson."

I really need to do a reader survey so I can determine the age range of my readership so I can further determine the sort of comments I could post for a story like this. (Hint: Scarlett Johannson! Shakira! You can guess the rest. . .)

You can click for a so-so picture of said history buff. I shan't lower myself to engage in cheap stunts to garner hits from those types of searches.

But, um, if you happen to find any really good pics. . . . .
Forensic archaeology update Archaeological dig comes up empty for missing woman
An archaeological dig of a garage floor came up empty Wednesday for any evidence of a woman missing since 1954.

Police, forensic scientists and the state archaeologist sifted most of the day for clues in the disappearance of Anna Kenneway. Her family members have long suspected her husband may have had a sinister hand in her disappearance 52 years ago, especially when he poured a new garage floor of fresh concrete about the time she went missing.

Instead, experts found no evidence the soil beneath the garage was ever disturbed.

See the current issue of Archaeology magazine for an article on forensic archaeology in Spain. There are other articles in there (sub-only) worth reading this month as well.
Salvaged treasures to go on display
Ancient ceramics excavated from nine historical shipwrecks will be on display at Aquaria KLCC from Oct 1 to 31.

The exhibition, entitled "Treasures of the South China Sea — A millennia of ancient trade ceramics", will also feature a 15.7-metre walk through a shipwreck model, the longest indoor shipwreck model in the nation.

Apart from viewing the artifacts, visitors can also purchase them.

They date back to the Sung, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.
Bosnian (non)Pyramids update Egyptologist backs Bosnian excavation
An Egyptologist who investigated two hills in central Bosnia believed by some to be ancient pyramids on Wednesday recommended that archaeological digs be carried out there.

After investigating the two hills for a week, Mohammed Ibrahim Ali, a professor of Egyptology in Cairo, said nobody should be jumping to conclusions — but having in mind everything he had seen in Visoko, his recommendations would be that "it is worth digging here."

"You have to be patient. This might take decades," he said.

Eh. A bunch of people excavating isn't much of a problem unless they're gouging out actual archaeological stuff in their zeal to find something pyramidy.

OTOH, it's not like the Egyptians generally ask Mayanists who ought to be excavating around on the Giza plateau. . . .

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mummy update

Experts examining new images of one of the Hancock Museum’s oldest residents, the mummy Bakt Hor Nekht, have started to reveal some of their findings.

The 3000 year old mummy, dating from 1070–712 BC, was examined during a recent Computerised Tomography (CT) scan at Newcastle General Hospital on Thursday August 31.

One of the pics:

Dig set to uncover Iron Age past

Archaeologists are hoping to uncover more Iron Age artefacts during a dig at a Teesside farm.

The dig will be the fifth at Foxrush Farm in Redcar and previous excavations have found an Iron Age roundhouse.

The latest excavation gets under way on 19 September and an appeal for volunteers has been launched.
Dig unearths evidence of Neolithic partying
A team of 100 archaeologists, from various universities around Britain, along with Wessex Archaeology, has been carrying out excavations as part of the seven-year Riverside Project at Woodhenge, Durrington Walls and Stonehenge Cursus to find out more about the sites and their links with Stonehenge in the 26th Century BC.

. . .

The team has now found remains of five Neolithic houses at Durrington Walls, one of which is the first ever seen with a perfectly preserved floor.

The discoveries they have made so far suggest that Durrington Walls was the site of feasting and partying and Stonehenge was a side chapel for the ancestors.

Eh, not really much about partying. . . .

Monday, September 11, 2006

More Vikings! Archaeologists find traces of legendary Viking centre By Thoralf Plath
Russian and German archaeologists believe they may have found traces of human settlement in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad that could lead to the legendary Viking trading centre of Wiskiauten. The find lies three kilometres south of the coastal resort of Selenogradsk in a field near the Curonian Spit, a narrow strip of sand dune off the coast.

The stone structures found almost a metre down are the remains of a well and several houses and date to the 12th century.

"This is still a bit recent, as the Viking era is at least two centuries earlier," the head of the German team, Timo Ibsen, says.
What scholars think could be on site
Recent visitors to the museum's 400 acres along the Catawba River could see evidence of the site's history, from a gold mining test pit to remnants of an old homestead located beneath power lines.

Researchers believe the site holds much more.

Two archaeologists working to track the development of Catawba society from about 1700 to 1840 say the property, sold earlier this year by York County museum leaders to a developer, could harbor secrets about human history.
Archaeological dig near casino suggests nomads built homes
A long-held theory about the migrations of ancient inhabitants of eastern Connecticut might change in light of an archaeological dig that has unearthed homes built into a hillside.

Researchers had long believed that the native people who lived in the region about 9,000 years ago were nomadic hunters who moved frequently and did not create permanent living spaces.

But an archaeological dig taking place near a Foxwoods Resort Casino parking garage has uncovered dozens of pit houses, structures built into a hill and supported by timbers.

They seem to be large seasonal encampments, but they haven't determined which part of the year they were inhabited. That's a pretty early date for such substantial structures, too, in north America, so very important.

Bit more here, too.
Shoe archaeology update 2,000 Year Old Leather Shoes Found In China
Six leather shoes from the Han Dynasty (205 BC-220 AD), nearly 2,000 years ago, have been found at an ancient site in China's northwestern province, official Xinhua reported Friday.

The shoes, are considered the oldest leather shoes found in China. The discovery of shoes also shows that history of leather shoes making in China is longer than 2,000 years.

An archaeologist, who is in charge of the excavation of the ancient site, further explained about the shoes by saying that the yellow-colored shoes were made from cattle hide, with a round toe and flat sole.

Who'd a thunk there'd be this kind of category of archaeology?


That's the whole thing, BTW.
In the end they really weren't so horrible
RAPING and pillaging. Longboats and horned helmets. Beards and ginger hair. Is that all there was to the Vikings?

Certainly the people who came from what is modern-day Scandinavia - Norway, Sweden and Denmark - and travelled to Scotland over 1200 years ago leaving their homes behind them, must have had more about them than a taste for beer and hunks of animal flesh. Yet this is the way many people today think of Vikings.

It's hardly surprising when you think of the way they're portrayed on film and television. And even though there's a variety of evidence available when studying Viking Scotland including language, place-names, documentary sources, oral tradition and archaeology - there are still many questions unanswered.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Modern humans, not Neandertals, may be evolution's 'odd man out'
Could it be that in the great evolutionary "family tree," it is we Modern Humans, not the brow-ridged, large-nosed Neandertals, who are the odd uncle out?

New research published in the August, 2006 journal Current Anthropology by Neandertal and early modern human expert, Erik Trinkaus, professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, suggests that rather than the standard straight line from chimps to early humans to us with Neandertals off on a side graph, it's equally valid, perhaps more valid based on what the fossils tell us, that the straight line should be from the common ancestor to the Neandertals, and the Modern Humans should be the branch off that.

Still trying to make sense of this. It just doesn't seem all that significant to me.
Egyptian Writing "Scanned" Using High-Tech Methods
Jean Revez studies old things, but that doesn't make him wedded to old ways.

The professor of Egyptian history at the University of Montreal in Canada is developing one of several emerging techniques for electronically recording and interpreting ancient stone inscriptions.

Today most archaeologists record writing and other architectural details using pencils, pens, and paper, "tools that are really quite ancient," Revez said.

In his vision of the future, epigraphists—archaeologists who study inscriptions—will rely instead on digital cameras, specialized computer software, and their dexterity with a mouse.

There are two methods described here, but it's unclear what the second one is, though it seems similar to the first.

Has anyone used laser ranging to capture very worn inscriptions? I'd think you could probably detect very subtle contours that you could highlight/exaggerate digitally.
Body art made its mark 300,000 years ago, scientists claim
The use of coloured pigments in early forms of body art may have begun many tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to a study of artefacts found at an ancient archaeological site in Africa.

Scientists working at the Twin Rivers hilltop cave near Lusaka in Zambia have found evidence for the use of colours - possibly for body painting - as early as 300,000 years ago.

This would predate the known use of coloured pigments in cave art by more than 200,000 years and, if confirmed, mark the point when humans began to experiment with paint.

The headline is kind of misleading, as there isn't any evidence what the pigments were used for. But the sort of secondary evidence -- tools for working the pigment instead of the actual things the pigments were applied to -- is a nice angle.
Disney it ain't Historic site turning into temple theme park
The bricklayers are paid $1.35 a day to rebuild the ancient ruin: a small, 13th century temple reduced by time to little more than its foundation.

But they have no training in repairing aged monuments, and their work has nothing to do with actually restoring one of the world's most important Buddhist sites. Instead, using modern red bricks and mortar, they are building a new temple on top of the old.

They work from a single page of drawings supplied by the government. Three simple sketches provide the design for a generic brick structure and a fanciful archway. No one knows, or seems to care, what the original temple looked like. Nearby are two piles of 700-year-old bricks that were pulled from the ruin. The bricklayers use them to fill holes in the temple.
Disney it ain't Historic site turning into temple theme park
The bricklayers are paid $1.35 a day to rebuild the ancient ruin: a small, 13th century temple reduced by time to little more than its foundation.

But they have no training in repairing aged monuments, and their work has nothing to do with actually restoring one of the world's most important Buddhist sites. Instead, using modern red bricks and mortar, they are building a new temple on top of the old.

They work from a single page of drawings supplied by the government. Three simple sketches provide the design for a generic brick structure and a fanciful archway. No one knows, or seems to care, what the original temple looked like. Nearby are two piles of 700-year-old bricks that were pulled from the ruin. The bricklayers use them to fill holes in the temple.
Mayan ruins said center of mysterious civilization
Experts are examining the ruins of a pre-Columbian culture in an area of Honduras where there had been no previous evidence of major indigenous civilization.

The site, discovered earlier this year, consists of 14 mounds that form part of what are believed to be ceremonial grounds, the Honduran Institute of Anthropology said.

"They are part of a very important site, a governing center of a pre-Columbian civilization," Oscar Neils, the institute's head of research, told Reuters. "We had no idea that there was a pre-Columbian culture in this area."

How confusing is that? Is it Maya? Is it something else? Was there no evidence of people or just none of a 'higher' civilization?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

MORE??? Bronze Age pyramid found in Ukraine
Archaeologists in Ukraine have unearthed the remains of an ancient pyramidal structure that pre-dates those in Egypt by at least 300 years. The stone foundations of the structure, which probably resembled Aztec and Mayan ziggurats in South America, were discovered near the eastern city of Lugansk.

It is thought they were laid about five millennia ago during the early Bronze Age by animists who worshipped a sun god. The "pyramid" is in fact a complex of temples and sacrificial altars topping a sculpted hillside with steps on its sides.

Let's just wait and see if this one turns out better than the Bosnian one(s).
And now. . .this week's news from the EEF

Press report: "Neferititi was actually a 'fascinating' aging beauty"
"A new examination of the famous bust has revealed visible
wrinkles running down her slender neck, and puffy bags
[under her eyes], leading experts to now believe that
Nefertiti was an aging beauty. (..) Most likely, the bust was
meant to serve as a model for the official portrait. "

Press report: "Climate change rocked cradles of civilization"
"Severe climate change was the primary driver in the development
of civilisation, according to new research by the University of
East Anglia. (...) [Dr. Nick Brooks] argues that the earliest
civilisations developed largely as a [unplanned] by-product of
adaptation to [catastrophic] climate change."
[In other words: from the lost paradise of the Sahara to
the harsh tyrany of the Nile Valley.]
-- Cp. the website of Nick Brooks, with several climate projects:

Press report: "Priority on site management"
"A look at a number of projects either completed, in progress,
or planned for the coming years. "

Hatem Hamdy Odah, Geomagnetism and Archaeology: Principles and
Applications. State of the Art, National Research Institute of Astronomy &
Geophysics, Helwan - Cairo - Egypt, 2005 - 75 pp., pdf-file: 4.3 MB
"... The discovery of important archaeological sites using geophysical
methods saves a lot of time, budget and effort, it also enables the
exploration of large archaeological sites in a short time, and only the
important findings could be then excavated. The geophysical study of the
archaeological materials can help to understand the behaviour of the earth's
magnetic field through the last 10000 years and in establishing an
archaeomagnetic chronology. Studying the magnetic field through the
archaeological sites and archaeological materials can be represented by
archaeological prospecting using magnetic surveying, archaeomagnetism,
palaeointensity and rock magnetism."

W. Neubauer, M. Doneus, N. Studnicka , J. Riegl, Combined High
Resolution Laser Scanning and Photogrammetrical Documentation of
the Pyramids at Giza, in: Dequal S. (ed.), Proceedings of the XXth
International Symposium CIPA, Torino 2005, The International
Archives of Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information
Sciences, vol. XXXVI-5/C34/1, 2005, 470-475226-231 - pdf-file
(255 KB)
"The aim of the _Scanning of the Pyramids Project_ 2004 was to apply and
test latest state-of-the-art terrestrial laser scanners combined with a
calibrated digital camera for high accuracy, high resolution and long
distance topographic scanning in archaeology. The monuments selected for the
first campaign are the Cheops Pyramid and the Sphinx. The data form the
basis for a detailed threedimensional modelling of the monuments to show and
to test the instrumentation as a general-purpose tool for the documentation
and monitoring of standing monuments ..."

Online book review of:
Wilkinson, Richard (2005) The Complete Gods and Goddesses
of Ancient Egypt, American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.

End of EEF news
Remains of ‘Viking’ boat discovered by archaeologists at Castlebar lake
ARCHAEOLOGISTS working on the Castlebar sewage scheme stumbled upon what has been described by the National Museum of Ireland as a ‘significant and exciting archaeological find’.
While trench testing close to Lough Lannagh they uncovered a wooden boat, believed to be medieval with a strong possibility that it could even be from the Viking period of around 1,100 years ago.
Measuring 10 feet long and some six-foot wide, the boat is in reasonable condition having been preserved in a blanket of peat which covered it from once the Castlebar lake receded.

Good article. Seems like it might be as recent as the 17th century though.
Dickson Mounds plans revitalization
Dickson Mounds Museum Director Michael Wiant plans the ultimate expansion of the facility - one in which there are no walls at all.

. . .

When the museum's centerpiece burial exhibit was open, attendance at Dickson Mounds was steady. It was closed in 1992 in response to an outcry from the local American Indian community that the open display of human remains was disrespectful.
In the decades leading up to the closure of the burial, about 70,000 people visited the museum annually. Now that figure lingers between 30,000 and 35,000, Wiant said.

Sad, but true. Well, maybe not "sad" exactly, but people are fascinated by skeletons and mummies. Hopefully, they'll be able to make up for it.
On blogging Althouse has a piece up on the place of the law journal in the Age of Blogging: Let the Law Journal Be the Law Journal and the Blog Be the Blog
For over a century, law journals have done important work that the legal profession has relied on, both because of the quality of the articles they have published and because of the way they have trained students in the rigors of legal research, writing, and editing. Sure, we law professors complain about law review articles. . .We spew our cranky complaints, but the truth is that you can translate most of them into modest suggestions for improving the existing journal. And, more fundamentally, we need you to put up with us and carry on.

The law journal should survive in its traditional form, preserving a high and permanent standard of legal scholarship. . .It’s especially important now, when there is so much ephemeral writing, that we pay proper respect to the longstanding practice of crafting sustained works of scholarship.

Bingo. Further, in relation to what blogs ought to be:
I’m intent on preserving the tradition of blogging, new though it is. At [a recent “Bloggership” conference at Harvard Law School ], I fought against those who argued that we should try to improve blogs by making them more like law journals. For me, those arguments represented a failure to perceive the good that already inheres in blogging.

A blog is a blog and a law journal is a law journal, as it should be. Journals are, I think, the high point of the profession and mark the standard of dialog that we use to hash out the big theoretical and methodological issues of the day. They have to be carefully reasoned and presented with adequate supporting data in order to provide a proper basis for discussion. Having the work set in stone, as it were, gives the whole process a baseline to work from. Creating a set piece of work that can be reviewed and presented at a single time and place fulfills that.

Blogs by their very nature are more free-flowing and interactive. This doesn't necessarily make them less useful than a journal article in some ultimate sense because, as we all know, more informal discussions can often lead to insights that you would not ordinarily get from working on a set piece for a journal. You can range a bit and incorporate data that might not be of high enough quality for a journal, but might lead there in the future. Plus, comments from readers -- some of very different background -- can be enourmously helpful as well. I can state that my views on certain subjects have been changed somewhat by writing stuff here and reading what commenters and emailers have had to say. Notably, I've become much more open-minded to the possibilities of some sort of legitimate, regulated market in antiquities. I'm not completely comfortable with whether such a thing could work or not, but even discussing it in an academic arena is virtually forbidden.

And that doesn't even begin to touch on the value of having scholars convey what they do to the public at large, whose taxes support a great deal of both their salaries and research money.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Britain's human history revealed

The story has been filled out but human remains are scarce
Eight times humans came to try to live in Britain and on at least seven occasions they failed - beaten back by freezing conditions.

Scientists think they can now write a reasonably comprehensive history of the occupation of these isles.

It stretches from 700,000 years ago and the first known settlers at Pakefield in Suffolk, through to the most recent incomers just 12,000 years or so ago.

The evidence comes from the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project.
Croc Hunter dies

Just to throw in my $0.02. . . .I really liked him. His seeming inability to ever have a conversation that didn't look like a performance for a group of schoolchildren was kind of irritating didn't really distract from his obvious love for the critters. Passion like that is rare.

I could suggest an archaeologist take up that mantle, but it probably wouldn't work very well. "Looook he-ah! It's a Mimbres black-on-white! Crikey. Isn't she a beyoooty? But very dain-gerous!"
Bison bones helped write Illinois history
The remains of a bison that helped rewrite Illinois' natural history are on display at Dickson Mounds Museum near Lewistown.
First discovered by an amateur archaeologist on property in Peoria County owned by Caterpillar Inc. and Lonza Inc., the remains of several bison were slowly excavated from the site during a 10-year period.
Underwater archaeology update Nautical archaeologist has vision for exploring the past
Jim Delgado remembers sitting in a dark, cold and cramped Russian submersible on his way to explore the Titanic shipwreck in 2000.

The 2 1/2-mile descent into the northern Atlantic Ocean took more than two hours, giving Delgado plenty of time to collect his thoughts before viewing the famous shipwreck.

But once the submersible's lights illuminated the massive hull, Delgado said he was in awe.

"Suddenly it's there," with orange, red and brown rust oozing down the side next to the enormous anchors, he said. "Nothing prepares you for what you see. The Titanic is a like a ghost town. It's like walking into an empty room with empty chairs, but you know what was said and done."
Drive-By Archaeology
As our landscape continues to develop, with new uses supplanting older ones, earlier features are often obliterated by the wrecking ball and the bulldozer. Sometimes, however, incongruous clues to the past remain: they may be purposefully created, as the miniature sand trap at the Shoppes may have been, incorporated into the development much as an old stone wall fronting a new house, or just left as a forgotten remnant like a chicken coop or hunter's shelter moldering in the woods at the edge of an industrial park or housing cluster.
DmC settles graves dispute
Carmaker DaimlerChrysler has settled a dispute with Beijing's cultural authorities over the discovery of ancient graves on the site of its new plant, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.
Die Welt said the company had agreed to pay the equivalent of €48 000 to allow archaeologists to make a survey of the 26 graves, some around 2 000 years old.

The dispute had threatened to delay the opening of the nearly completed plant, but the inauguration will now take place as planned in mid-September, the paper said in a story released ahead of publication on Monday.
Antiquities Market update Thieves removing history from the wide-open spaces
Linda Farnsworth picked her way across a field of loose rocks, down a steep slope under the overhang of sandstone cliffs. The archaeologist stopped at the remains of a low stone retaining wall and searched briefly until she found the series of backfilled holes — where looters had rooted around a remote kiva site for highly prized black and white Anasazi pots, tools and other prehistoric objects.

There are no signs or trails that lead visitors here, to Woods Canyon Pueblo, a site containing the remnants of 50 stone kivas, 220 rooms and 16 towers. But isolation offered scant protection when thieves swept through it a few months ago, leaving behind crude excavations, discarded pot shards and their own trash — crumpled water bottles and wrappers from banana LifeSavers.
Sorry about the lack of blogging. Connection (actually, probably Internet Exploder) was all wonky.

Archaeologists search for state's first Spanish settlement
Six years before Spanish explorers landed at St. Augustine, Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano founded Florida's initial European settlement at present-day Pensacola in 1559. Two years later the Spanish settlement was gone, besieged by a hurricane and other problems.

Centuries have erased all traces of the land settlement, but 14 years ago divers found one of the sunken ships.

As the 450th anniversary approaches of de Luna's ill-fated voyage to the city that touts itself as "America's First Settlement," unearthing de Luna artifacts and solving the mystery of the original settlement's exact location remains an obsession for professional and amateur archaeologists alike.

IHT has another article on an Etruscan find here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Archaeologists search for state's first Spanish settlement
Six years before Spanish explorers landed at St. Augustine, Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano founded Florida's initial European settlement at present-day Pensacola in 1559. Two years later the Spanish settlement was gone, besieged by a hurricane and other problems.

Centuries have erased all traces of the land settlement, but 14 years ago divers found one of the sunken ships.

As the 450th anniversary approaches of de Luna's ill-fated voyage to the city that touts itself as "America's First Settlement," unearthing de Luna artifacts and solving the mystery of the original settlement's exact location remains an obsession for professional and amateur archaeologists alike.

IHT has another article on an Etruscan find here.
Archaeologists search for state's first Spanish settlement
Six years before Spanish explorers landed at St. Augustine, Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano founded Florida's initial European settlement at present-day Pensacola in 1559. Two years later the Spanish settlement was gone, besieged by a hurricane and other problems.

Centuries have erased all traces of the land settlement, but 14 years ago divers found one of the sunken ships.

As the 450th anniversary approaches of de Luna's ill-fated voyage to the city that touts itself as "America's First Settlement," unearthing de Luna artifacts and solving the mystery of the original settlement's exact location remains an obsession for professional and amateur archaeologists alike.

IHT has another article on an Etruscan find here.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

NAGPRA review article, part 2: Scientific study under NAGPRA
Part 2 of a review of "Complex legal legacies: the native American graves protection and repatriation act, scientific study, and Kennewick Man.(Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act)." Susan B. Bruning. American Antiquity 71.3 (July 2006): p501(21).

Part 1 here.

What came as surprise to me when reading this second half of the paper was that NAGPRA does, in fact, allow for the scientific study of even affiliated remains under certain conditions. If the remains can be shown to be
"indispensable for completion of a specific scientific study, the outcome of which would be of major benefit to the United States," then repatriation is not required until completion of the study (NAGPRA, Section 7[b]). Section 7 study can proceed, with or without the consent of the culturally affiliated claimant, if the remains are of sufficient scientific importance. The claimant does, however, have an ultimate right of repatriation once the study is complete. (p.515)

And unaffiliated remains?
When Newly Discovered Remains are found to be culturally unidentifiable, NAGPRA's current language does not restrict, in terms of scope or time frame, the study of those remains. ARPA's standards would presumably apply, unless and until new legal requirements for handling culturally unidentifiable remains are adopted under NAGPRA, as discussed above.

This is contained in Section 7 (discussed starting on p. 515). The key, of course, is that there has to be a specific purpose to the study and it must have a definite end point when the study will be complete, at which time repatriation can occur. Thus, had Kennewick Man been found to be subject to NAGPRA, study could have proceeded until an affiliated party could be established.

Interestingly, much discussion takes place around what constitutes an institution's "holdings" and that NAGPRA was initially developed in order to deal with holdings and collections contained within Federal or Federally funded institutions. This issue comes to the fore when newly discovered remains are discovered, and Bruning argues that the statute may include remains, such as Kennewick, that are being curated by an institution while decisions are being made about the final disposition of the remains. The Interior Department argued that newly discovered remains do not apply since they do not constitute "holdings", but Bruning argues (as did, apparently, the Kennewick circuit court) that the term "holdings" was specifically included in the wording for just such a circumstance. That would have had the effect of removing from Section 7's domain all newly discovered remains:
Section 7 provides the structure within which all potential claimants may assert claims to take control over the disposition of items and by which the disposition process should be completed once those items are in the possession or control of an agency or institution. By excluding from Section 7's coverage all Newly Discovered Remains, the Interior Department has interpreted the statute in ways that unnecessarily exclude future discoveries from key processes established in NAGPRA for documenting, repatriating, and otherwise resolving the disposition of those items while ensuring that discoveries of major scientific importance will be available for study. (p.516)

What did the Interior Dept. intend by doing so? IMO, to be able to do what it wishes with newly discovered remains without interference from outside parties.

In sum, NAGPRA allows scientific study of remains:
-- (1) when Newly Discovered Remains are removed from federal land pursuant to an ARPA permit and tribal consultation, at least until an entitled claimant is identified and intervenes;
-- (2) when Newly Discovered Remains are removed from tribal land pursuant to an ARPA permit, subject to consent of the tribal landowner; and
-- (3) prior to the repatriation of any culturally affiliated Institutionally Held Remains that "are indispensable for completion of a specific scientific study, the outcome of which would be of major benefit to the United States" (Section 7[b])

Obviously, the contentious issue is in the establishing of cultural affiliation. No one wants someone's grandmother sitting in a museum, but to stretch the point and attempt to equivocate any pre-Columbian remains as a grandparent seems at odds with both common sense and NAGPRA itself. NAGPRA may have to be modified somewhat to, as Bruning notes "to clarify or modify the statute or its regulations, to more accurately interpret or implement those provisions, or to bring public expectations into better alignment with the law." The court rulings seem to have gone a long way towards clarifying how certain language ought to be interpreted, and people on all sides are now having to work out how they will respond in future cases.

Friday, September 01, 2006

This week's news from the EEF

Press report: "Mummy figures unearthed in Enfield"
The Forty Hall Museum "discovered the four valuable and
ancient Egyptian Shabti, or funerary figures, in its collection
(..) no-one knew who had donated them or where they had
come from." An overseer figure "is from the tomb of a King's
daughter, called Nes, and it dates from the 22nd Dynasty."

Press report: "The elite of the millennia"
A tour through the second Royal Mummies Hall at the
Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

* Press reports: "Ramses statue moved to new home" /
"Pharaoh statue moved near Pyramids"
"The trip took about 10 hours from Ramses Square -- its
home since the early 1950s when it was taken from a temple
at the site of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis -- to its
new location about a mile from the pyramids near the site of
the future Grand Museum of Egypt."
The CNN page mentions a link to a slideshow.
--- Plenty of other reports, of which I will only mention:
Which mentions a link to a slideshow:

Archaeology's Interactive Dig for Hierakopolis has been
updated, with three reports from teh 2006 season:

Online version of: Heinrich Brugsch, My Life And My Travels, privately
published, Waban, MA, 1992. English translation of Heinrich Brugsch, Mein
Leben und mein Wandern, 2nd ed., Allgemeiner Verein für Deutsche Litteratur,
Berlin, 1894
"... the public voice in so far as it has to do with my modest person
considers me fortunate for having the golden apple, so to speak, fall into
my lap. Just the opposite is true. From the beginning of my career, I had to
face insurmountable difficulties and miseries, and whoever can read between
the lines will find incredible and even astonishing experiences."

"Scanning Ramesses II in Egypt with Leica HDS2500" - pdf-file (470 KB)
"... It is planned that the 90 ton statue shall find a new home in the soon
to be built Grand Egyptian Museum. Archaeological, geological and
architectural studies are currently underway, and state-of-the-art
techniques are being used to fully record the statue before the move.
Among these, a Leica HDS2500 laser scanner, providing a perfect
3D-model of Ramesses II."
-- Additional report - pdf-file: 445 KB

* Mostafa Abdel-Bary Ebrahim, 3D source for Egyptian monument
information system, in: GIS Development Middle East, vol. 2, no. 3,
pp. 18-23 (2006) - pdf-file: 5.6 MB (whole issue)
"The objective of this paper is to present the digital close range
photogrammetry as the ideal technique for documenting the world heritage
in a real 3D shape with the ability to visualizing them in different ways
through an information system. GIS is the best environment to deal with such
documental as it will document our heritage in different shapes as text,
images, animation, VRML, and movies. This could be the start of establishing
an information system for the Egyptian's monuments with their 3D real shape
that called 'Egyptian 3D monument information system'."

End of EEF news
Free articles! American Scientist has an article by Terry Hunt on the Easter Island work: Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island . It's a good summary article of the work apart from that published in the journals. There are also a few more linked articles on that link.
Homo hobbitus update Will the hobbit argument ever be resolved?
For the past two years, researchers have been hotly debating (and coming dangerously close to fighting over) whether the fossils of a diminutive hominin found in Indonesia are those of a previously unknown species. The publication this week of some long-standing doubts over the 'hobbit' fossils show the debate is far from over.

The dispute over the bones of Homo floresiensis has involved allegations of name-calling, nationalistic motives, and wilfully damaging specimens. One camp insists that the tiny inhabitants of the Indonesian island of Flores were a unique species; the other claims that the bones are of a diseased Homo sapiens pygmy. As the debate rages, set out to find whether there will ever be an end to the conflict.

Just reviewing what's been out for the past couple of weeks.
Receding Texas Lake Reveals Old Skeleton
Archeologists say a prehistoric skeleton and campsite discovered on the muddy shore of Lake Travis could be between 700 and 2,000 years old.

An archaeology crew excavated the nearly intact skeleton on Sunday so that it can be donated to the University of Texas for further study.

“The significance of this is really an understanding of the ways of people who lived here in the past,'' said Andy Malof, an archaeologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority. “It gives us information about their health, their diet, stresses and their environment.''

Interesting. The guy who found it apparently recognized it immediately as ancient:
Houston, an archaeology buff who has “home-schooled'' himself on the subject for almost 25 years, said he recognized the skull as dating back hundreds of years. The teeth are ground down, which indicates the person ate food that is stone-ground and has tiny rock fragments in it, he said.

So there you go, read ArchaeoBlog daily and you too will be able to recognize anything really, really old.
Conservation update Is Peru's famed 'Ice Maiden' in danger?
Peru's famed "Ice Maiden," the frozen mummy of an Inca girl sacrificed to the gods 500 years ago, might be at risk from humidity, Peru's leading newspaper reported Wednesday.

Dampness was detected inside the mummy's glass-enclosed refrigeration compartment by an expert from the U.S. Smithsonian Institution who was vacationing in the southern Andean city of Arequipa, where the mummy is kept, daily newspaper El Comercio reported.

Not a good sign. But then, it's hard to preserve organic remains anyway.
Shoe archaeology update Oregon shoe, possibly world’s oldest, hits the bigtime
University of Oregon archaeologist Pam Endzweig escorted what may be the oldest shoe on earth to Washington, D.C., recently to be featured in the current edition of the National Geographic.

The shoe got its own seat.

On page 79, a sandal woven of sagebrush bark more than 300 generations ago sits softly lit on a sheet of coarse brown paper, one of 11 examples of footwear illustrating the article “Why Every Shoe Tells a Story.”

See here for the original post.
Polynesian sailing myth all at sea
The Polynesians had trouble reaching remote South Pacific islands, according to a new study that dents their reputation as great seafarers.

An archaeological study shows they settled Rapa, an island southeast of Tahiti, more recently than anyone thought.

Professor Atholl Anderson, of the Australian National University, and international colleagues publish their research in the current issue of the journal Antiquity.

Dating of charcoal from archaeological sites on the 20 square kilometre island suggests the first settlers arrived at Rapa as late as around 1200 AD, Anderson says.

As noted, this chronology is similar to that developed at Easter Island.