Friday, August 31, 2007

And now. . . . .news from the EEF

Press report: "There could have been two sphinxes, argues one researcher"
"Egyptologist Bassam El Shammaa believes that the famed
half-lion, half-man statue was an Egyptian deity that was erected
next to another sphinx, which has since vanished without a trace."
[Ahum... Anyhow, for the misinterpreted Dream Stela, see the
drawing in LD III, 68, online at AKE]

Press report: "Mummies' exodus to Genesis goes well"
About the scanning and handling of the Putnam Museum’s two
mummies. "There was a slight chance that the wrapped
mummy — estimated at 2,000 years old — might have been
a female, but the scans of its pelvic bone structure clearly
show it was male, the radiologist said. (..) The male mummy’s
body is “kind of in bad shape,” Berkow said, explaining how
several of its ribs are broken and its back is broken in at least
one place. He thinks those fractures happened after the male
was dead, probably by rough handling before it arrived at the
museum. (...) The scans of the [3,000 years old] unwrapped
mummy, known as Isis Neferit or “beautiful Isis,” didn’t
show any noticeable bone fractures at first glance. However, it
does appear it was a female, probably a young one at death,
Berkow said. “There’s not a lot of arthritis in her spine,” he said."
(..) Putnam officials also brought [a mummified head and] two
mummified birds along for scanning."
There's also a report on the unwrapping of the female mummy
in the 60ies.

-- Another press report:
"Investigation continues into Davenport mummies"
"Museum officials says puncture holes, incisions and rolled-up
linens seen inside the two bodies offer important clues about
the mummification process used thousands of years ago."

-- Another press report, with scan of the male mummy's skull:
"The scans show holes in the nasal cavities where someone
punctured them to remove the brains. On both mummies,
incisions were found on the sides where someone reached
inside to take out the internal organs (..). Linen wrappings,
which most likely were soaked in resin and spices, still
remain in the body cavities as a preservation tool (..) Berkow
also said he found evidence of a heart inside the female mummy,
but nothing in the male."

Press report: "Beneath Alexandria. Team finds evidence
of a hidden city"
"But little was known about the site in pre-Alexander times other than
Rhakotis, a fishing village, was located there. Coastal geoarchaeologist
Jean-Daniel Stanley of the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History
said his team's work suggested a much larger community at Rhakotis
than previously believed. " [cf EEF NEWS (468).]

Press report: "Museum as archaeological park"
About the GEM. "The museum will compromise five
thematic areas chronologically displayed: the Land of Egypt,
Kingship and State, Man, Society and Work, Religion and
Culture, and Scribes and Knowledge.

Press report: "Ancient lifestyle may link art found in Egypt, Europe"
About the rock paintings found by the Belgium team of Dirk Huyge
[cf EEF NEWS (457)(459)(463)], which have been called
'Lascaux on the Nile'. "Huyge is not suggesting any direct
connection between Paleolithic France and Egypt. Instead, he
said the similarities in the art likely occurred because the
artists shared a common way of life."

End of EEF news
Oregon researcher to explore boyhood home of John Paul Jones
University of Oregon archaeologist Julie M. Schablitsky is off to Scotland to lead an exploratory excavation of the grounds on the boyhood home of John Paul Jones, while her husband continues his North Sea search for the lost ship of one of the fathers of the U.S. Navy.

Schablitsky�s new project -- launched with a $23,000 grant from the Virginia-based First Landing Foundation �- will involve remote sensing to identify possible locations of outbuildings, wells, gardens, fence lines and cisterns. Archaeological probes also will be dug into select areas of the landscaping around the renovated cottage where Jones grew in Kirkbean, Scotland.

Her project was born after her husband, Robert Neyland, head of underwater archaeology for the U.S. Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C., visited Kirkbean and discovered the site had never been explored by archaeologists. Neyland has searched the North Sea area for the last two years for Jones� ship, the �Bonhomme Richard� [BOHN-uhm REE-shar], with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

[insert Led Zeppelin joke here]
UCC archaeologists uncover hilltop fort from 1200 BC near Innishannon
ARCHAEOLOGISTS from University College Cork have uncovered the oldest hilltop fort in Ireland on a ridge near Innishannon overlooking huge tracts of County Cork and believe that it was the first capital of Cork.

According to Prof. William O’Brien of the Dept. of Archeology at University College Cork, the oval-shaped hilltop fort near Knockavilla, Innishannon, overlooking the Lee Valley, was built over 3,000 years ago, making it the oldest known prehistoric hillfort in Ireland.

"For many years, an ancient enclosure, known locally as the ‘Cathair’ was known to exist on the ridge overlooking Knockavilla on the northern side of Innishannon parish," said Prof. O’Brien, adding that radiocarbon dating revealed the site was built around 1200 BC
CSI: Tell Majnuna

Burial clue to early urban strife
Archaeologists working in Syria have unearthed the remains of dozens of youths thought to have been killed in a fierce confrontation 6,000 years ago.

According to Science magazine, the celebrating victors may even have feasted on beef in the aftermath.

The findings come from northeastern Syria, near Tell Brak, one of the world's oldest known cities.

UPDATE: More on the urbanization angle here. I have to think about this one some more.
Caveman the series update A Man for the (Stone) Ages: Nick the Caveman, direct from Union Square
But racial (er, anthropological) struggle is a central theme. Think of it as Alien Nation with a sense of humor. "They've been oppressing our people for 750,000 years," Kroll's character says in the pilot, referring to modern types. "When you watch TV, it's all politically correct, but they air The Flintstones six times a day."

The episode doesn't boast consistent laughs, but most series need some time to find their footing. The concept seems at least as sustainable as, say, a fat deliveryman from Queens with a skinny wife. But Kroll won't be devastated if the show gets canceled. "There's this idea of getting discovered, or a break, but in reality [my career] is more like a slow freight train carrying a lot of emotional baggage," he says.

Bit of a language warning, folks. After this article, I'm a tad more optimistic that it will not be horribly bad since it has the same writers as the commercials; that should make the humor consistent. The thing that seems most troublesome is that they may try so hard to avoid offending various minorities who think they're being represented that they go overboard bashing white people. If they can follow in the Beverly Hillbillies/Munsters mold, it should be okay.
Blogging update No, no blogging yesterday. Why?

Can you smell that?

That little whiff. . . . .a faint scent. . . . .barely detectable. . . .

And yet. . . . .it's there. . . . .

And when you do sense it, you know. . . . .

It's college football season.

So I was watching Mississippi State get pummeled by LSU. Though their defense did surprisingly well in the first half. But when your offense can't do squat, it tends to demoralize the defense, not to mention tiring them out when the O can't stay on the field long enough to spell them a bit. Washington went through the same thing before Willingham showed up. The defense would keep them in it until about the third quarter, when the offense would turn it over a couple times and go 3-and-out. You could see the air just go right out of them. My dad always liked MSU for some reason; being from Alabama you'd think not. I don't think he cared much for Ole Miss though.

Well, actually, even after Willingham showed up. But they eventually began to not give up. So watch them tonight when they play Syracuse.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Which is. . . . History Channel's "Modern Marvels". That show is freakin' amazing. They can take darn near anything and make it interesting. Last week I watched an hour on. . . .I kid you not. . .truck stops. Well, it wasn't strictly truck stops, much of it was the history of trucking, truck technology and what not. But check out this place.

Anyway, tonight is a repeat of '70's tech' which I haven't seen yet. I've also been reading The Martian Landscape which is about the Viking landers and the imaging systems and contains a lot of photographs. That was kind of an amazing project itself. I remember as a kid watching one of the first photographs from the surface coming in and they showed it live on TV. I was just absolutely flabbergasted that here we were looking at a picture on another planet. It still gives me chills.

We didn't have a Pong, but we did have the Odyssey. Funny, but I don't remember ours looking like the ones on that page. I thought it was yellow and more rounded. Huh. I need to see if my mom still has it in the basement. Probably not, she got rid of our TI-99 computer, too. And then people wonder why I ended up a geek. . . .

UPDATE: It was pretty good (the 1970s tech). I must go back on the earlier pronouncement above that we had an Odyssey, unless we had a slightly later version that was yellow and more rounded. Must be some other device name that is escaping me.

Anyway, the rest of it was pretty neat, albeit maybe. . . .misguided? I don't quite know how the Trans Am was really a "tech" object as much as it was symbolic of the decade. Muscle car enthusiasts would probably point to the Barracuda as the ultimate '70s muscle car, but I suppose in the popular mind the Smokey and the Bandit car probably is more reminiscent of the 1970s. I still think that generation of Camaro/Firebird was the best looking of the bunch. The first version seemed sorta slapped together as a response to the Mustang, but that gen was distinct. It's probably my favorite car of the decade, even though it's gotten such a black-t-shirt-wearing-mullet-head vibe ever since that I probably wouldn't actually own one. But, who knows, maybe.

They also did the CB radio craze. That, we never had, and I never wanted one. Many of my friends were really into the whole big-rig trucker CB talkin' schtick, but not me.

I am surprised (unless I missed it) that they didn't show any personal computers! The Apple II! The Commodore PET! The TI-99! The Altair! The TRS-80 (aka, Trash 80)! And who can forget Visicalc and the Vax? Maybe they decided that was too big for even a mention and went with maybe lesser-known stuff.

Yeah, I was one of those dweebs who would go to the personal computer sections of stores and type in an infinite recursion program in Basic:
1 Print "Hello!"
2 GOTO 1

Yuk yuk.

UPDATE II: You know, I was thinking about this whole "Which care represents the 1970s" thing and I started thinking that maybe most people associate "The '70s" with more the latter part than the earlier, and kind of lump the early '70s in with the '60s. Most people, I think, tend to think of "The '60s" as the latter part anyway when you had Woodstock, hippies, the Beatles with long hair, etc. Similarly with the 1950s, it was more the latter part, with the '57 Chevy doin' the representin'.

That thesis kinda fell apart with the 1980s though, because that decade is probably best remembered for the early part, Reagan, MTV, etc. I don't know yet what "The '90s" is remembered by. Probably the latter part with the .com boom and all that.
And speaking of popularizing archaeology. . . BBC digs archaeology drama
Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah, the co-creators of the hit BBC1 drama series Life on Mars, have been commissioned to write a new six-part series for the same channel about a team of archaeological adventurers.

The BBC head of fiction, Jane Tranter, has given the green light to Bone Kickers, a series set in Bath following a team of academic whose excavations open up a range of storylines from different historical moments in the city's 3,000-year history.

The drama, which begins filming in November of this year, has not yet been cast but is being pencilled in for transmission on BBC1 in spring next year.

Neat. Of course, we here in the colonies won't get it for another year or two.

Two comments: There used to be an archaeology-ish series on cable called Relic Hunter. I saw a few of the eps. Eh. But if you want sexy archaeology. . . .

Second, it mentions a series on BBC called "Life on Mars". I watched a couple of those, too, but grew tired of it after 2 or 3. It was just too. . . too. . .superficial about the '70s. Everything was too cartoonish. Everyone smoking everywhere, throwing the butts on the floor anywhere, fellow policemen apparently too dumb to, you know, actually collect evidence, etc. It seemed like it was written by 20-somethings who figured they knew what the '70s were like because they saw it on TV once. I liked the concept though. Which leads to the next post. . . .
BREAKING NEWS: Conflict in the Middle East Digging at hotly disputed Jerusalem holy site angers Israeli archaeologists
Israeli archaeologists on Wednesday criticized the extension of an underground cable at Jerusalem's holiest site for Muslims and Jews, saying digging the trench defies professional standards for such a sensitive historic site and could damage Bible-era relics.

Islamic authorities responsible for Al Aqsa Mosque complex, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, said the digging is necessary infrastructure work at the site to replace 40-year-old electrical cables ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The site is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is home to Al Aqsa Mosque and the gold-capped Dome of the Rock, Islam's third-holiest shrine. It is also the holiest site in Judaism: archaeological finds show that the remains of the temples are beneath the mosque compound, though Muslim clerics dispute that.

I know, I know, you can't swing a dead cat there without hitting someone who's ticked off at someone else.

Also, insert Nadia Abu-el-Hadj joke [here].
Damn it, Kris, send me a link! The History of Archaeology, Part 2
he first tentative step forward towards archaeology as a science took place during the Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason. Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries was a time of great growth in scientific and natural exploration. Scientists, poets, philosophers, and painters reached into classical antiquity, particularly Greece, to wonder how rationalism, what they considered the supreme human reason, ever came to be realized. Human society everywhere must develop linearly, it was felt, beginning with stone tools, growing with the invention of agriculture, and ending with the pinnacle of human culture--European scientific society (at least according to European scientific society).

Can't find part I. AHEM.
"Put another lutefisk on the barby, mate" Pseudoarchaeology says Vikings came to Australia
Many people believe Vikings, Phoenicians or Aztecs visited Australia because archaeologists aren't good at marketing their version of the past, argues one professional.

Sydney-based archaeologist Denis Gojak will talk about how researchers can combat such 'pseudoarchaeology' at the Australian Archaeology Conference in Sydney next month.

"There's a real passion for stories about the past," says Gojak.

It's sort of a . . . . well, it's a nice little article. The end part makes his main point: Gojak says the success of pseudoarchaeology means archaeologists need to do a better job at satisfying the public's desire for great stories about the past.

"Archaeologists and historians can tell stories that are just as interesting and exciting," he says.

I suppose we could do an entire forum topic on that (whenever I get the stupid forum software installed; Grrrr). We always say we ought to make archaeology more interesting and accessible to the lay public, but whenever anyone does we end up griping that t got dumbed down or sensationalized. Which is true, to a certain extent. I think it can be made interesting without sacrificing accuracy. Needs good presenters though. Someone who really does seem to know what they're talking about without being all pedantic and elitist. James Burke ("Connections") was brilliant at that.
At 92, she's still exploring Texas' past
Archaeologist Kathleen Gilmore has unlocked some of the most elusive mysteries of Texas history.

She spent decades hunting down the location of the French explorer La Salle's lost fort before discovering it near the Gulf Coast. She also excavated a number of Spanish colonial forts in Texas, including Mission Rosario, near Goliad.

At age 92, the Preston Hollow resident will visit Spain in December to study a recently discovered cache of documents sent from early Texas missions.
Remember, it's Science Jessica Alba has the perfect wiggle, study says
Jessica Alba, the film actress, has the ultimate sexy strut, according to a team of Cambridge mathematicians.

The academics found that it is the ratio between hips and waist that puts the sway into a woman's walk - and the nearer that ratio is to 0.7, the better.

This ratio provides the body with the right torso strength to produce a more angular swing and bounce to the hips during the walking motion.

It mentions Marilyn Monroe as being close to that, which surprises me. I for one never found her to be quite all that (nowhere near my Top 10 anyway) and she always seemed a bit. . . .chunky, relatively speaking.

I don't really chide the research, as quite a bit's been done on cross-cultural standards of beauty, though I do wonder how they collected the data. I mean, I doubt they obtained permission to whip out their tape measures on dozens of high-profile celebs. Nevertheless, it is definitely a study that needs 3rd-party confirmation. . . .

UPDATE: Oh, okay, we here at ArchaeoBlog know when a picture is worth a thousand dry, boring, pedantic words:

This (also) just in Iceman died from head trauma, not arrow
Researchers studying Iceman, the 5,000-year-old mummy found frozen in the Italian Alps, now believe he died of head trauma, not the wound of an arrow.

Two months ago, researchers in Switzerland published an article in the Journal of Archaeological Science saying the man known as Oetzi died after an arrow tore a hole in an artery beneath his left collarbone, leading to massive blood loss, shock and heart attack.

But radiologists, pathologists and other researchers, using new forensic information and CAT scans, now say they believe blood loss from the arrow wound only made Oetzi lose consciousness. They now say he died either from hitting his head on a rock when he passed out or because his attacker hit him in the head.

Seems a bit of a fine point, if you ask me. Either way, it was the arrow's fault that he died. OTOH, I suppose one should have wondered why there wasn't an arrow shaft or anything still sticking out of him since most everything else he had with him was preserved.
This just in Golden mummies found in el-Kharga
A French team has discovered in western Egypt a graveyard
dating back to the Ptolemaic era, antiquity officials said yesterday.
Most of the 25 tombs, found in the el-Kharga Oasis, New Valley
Governorate, consist of a chamber 2 metres square and 1.45
metres high, they added. Six gold-painted mummies were also
unearthed in good condition. Papyri, gold masks, funerary beds
and bronze shaving implements were also found as well as
statues of the four children of the god Horus.

Unconfirmed mostly, it's only shown up in a couple places. Via the EEF.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Christian Necropolis on Perperikon
Bulgarian archaeologists discovered a Christian necropolis outside the ruins of the medieval fortress near the rock sanctuary of Perperikon, located in southern Bulgaria near the town of Kardzhali.

The team lead by Nikolay Ovcharov found 15 tombs dating back to the 14th century, most likely the resting place of the fortress' defenders executed following its siege by Turkish emir Orhan in 1362.
Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Christian Necropolis on Perperikon
Bulgarian archaeologists discovered a Christian necropolis outside the ruins of the medieval fortress near the rock sanctuary of Perperikon, located in southern Bulgaria near the town of Kardzhali.

The team lead by Nikolay Ovcharov found 15 tombs dating back to the 14th century, most likely the resting place of the fortress' defenders executed following its siege by Turkish emir Orhan in 1362.
Museum curation crisis update Where will next trove of artifacts be stored?
As local developers increasingly must finance archaeological digs on their land before building, there is a growing question about where to store the remnants of the past that are excavated.

It is expected to become more of a problem as major projects — including the Copelands’ Chinatown Project and Garden Street Terraces on Marsh Street—are proposed for historic areas of downtown San Luis Obispo.

Both are large hotel, retail and residential projects, but Chinatown in particular will be on some of the oldest continually occupied land in the county. Archaeologists expect it to produce possibly many layers of artifacts from bygone San Luis Obispo.

Only a local story.
Archaeologist uncovers seven ‘forgotten’ graves
Skeletal remains of eight unknown persons have been uncovered so far by resident archaeologist Dr. Jay Haviser under the footpath next to Mount Pleasant Methodist Cemetery on Front Street.

The remains were in long-forgotten graves from which the headstones must have been washed away by hurricanes or flooding during the early part of the last century, Haviser told The Daily Herald.

The Methodist Church was also unaware of the graves, Head of New Projects Development and Planning Kurt Ruan added.
Mammoth Remains Found In The Everglades
Archaeologists are studying the remains of an Ice Age mammal recently found in the Everglades. Workers cleaning a canal discovered the teeth of one mammoth last month on the Seminole Tribe's Big Cypress Reservation. Archaeologists poring over the site soon found 100 other bones that may come from different species of mammoths.

Not much else there and no indication people were anywhere around.
First World War tunnels to yield their secrets
As battle raged across the fields of Flanders, British soldiers found brief respite from the horrors of the First World War in "underground towns" far below the mud and gore. Now, more than 90 years after the armies left and the extraordinary networks of tunnels were flooded, the task of finally revealing their secrets has begun.

The prize, archaeologists and historians believe, is an unprecedented insight into the lives of British troops on the Western Front.

They believe that, because of the absence of light and oxygen in the flooded tunnels, possessions, such as beds, weapons, helmets, clothing and even newspapers, will have been preserved and will be found exactly as they were left in 1918.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Army of Davids update Volunteers help protect prehistoric Native-American mounds
The Missouri Mound Adoption Project (MO-MAP) founded recently in Chesterfield hopes to use a coalition of volunteers to protect Missouri's remaining prehistoric Native American mounds.

"We may not be able to save every one of Missouri's remaining prehistoric Native American mounds, but with volunteers, we can try to save one at a time," said Mark Leach of Chesterfield, a trustee of the Missouri Archaeological Society and a member of the Chesterfield Landmarks Preservation Commission.

"MO-MAP's approach is modeled after the recent success of the Blake Mound Restoration Project in Chesterfield," Leach said.
MO-MAP builds on the traditional approach to mound protection -- keeping mound locations confidential, documenting them with state authorities and ensuring protection provided under Missouri's unmarked human burial law, he said.
Greece is the word for volcanoes
Floyd McCoy, Windward Community College professor of geology and oceanography, hopes during a year and a half in Greece to resolve the "hugely controversial" question of when the Thera volcano erupted.

He will investigate the Mediterranean's largest volcanic eruption in history as a Fulbright scholar. McCoy has spent the past 20 years studying geological evidence of the Late Bronze Age eruption of Thera volcano that led to the end of the Minoan culture on the island of Santorini.

Geophysicists say the eruption occurred in about 1645 B.C., but archaeologists prefer 1500 B.C., McCoy said. He is combining geology and archaeology into a new discipline -- geoarchaeology -- to try to settle the controversy.

OOooooo. . . .a new subdiscipline of 'geoarchaeology'!
Lost civilization city. . . . found(?) Lost city found at Stonehenge
The lost city is believed by many to be mythical but, after working with language experts at Exeter University, Mr Price is convinced the city exists and that it is right here on the outskirts of Salisbury.

The team painstakingly deciphered the works of an ancient Greek mariner named Pytheas of Massilia.

Mr Price explained that Pytheas was known to have visited Britain in around 325 BC and in his chronicles he wrote of the lost city of Apollo and a site similar to Stonehenge.

He said: "There is a passage that apparently refers to Stonehenge which has long fascinated people, but there is also a repeated reference made to a city sacred to Apollo which has gone completely unremarked upon."

No actual evidence, just an educated assertion.
Archaeology and the Peopling of the Americas: New Evidence from Texas Pushes the Entry Date Back to
eople have always been interested in the question of when American Indians first arrived in the Americas. Was it 10,000 years ago across a frozen bridge of land, or perhaps via small boats from Japan, eastern Asia, and Siberia 20,000 to 35,000 years ago. Answers to these questions have always tended towards the frozen land bridge theory, which postulated that people first arrived in the Americas at the beginning of the Holocene epoch (12,500-9,000 calendar years before present). In the last twenty years or so, new archaeological and genetic evidence has challenged this long held theory, completely revolutionizing our understanding of when people first arrived in the Americas. The genetic evidence has been fairly compelling, pushing back the entry of American Indians into the Americas approximately 15-20 thousand years to the late Pleistocene. The archaeological evidence, on the other hand, has been slower at revealing a human presence older than the early Holocene in either North or South America. Newly emerging information from Texas, however, is providing compelling archaeological evidence for a late Pleistocene (25,000-12,500 calendar years before present) peopling of the Americas, bringing the archaeological evidence in line with the genetic evidence.

Nothing really new here.
Greece: Archaeologists unearth secrets of prehistoric citadel's water supply
Archaeologists excavating a sprawling prehistoric fortress in southern Greece have discovered a secret underground passage thought to have supplied the site with water in times of danger.

Dated to the mid-13th century B.C., the stone passage passed under the massive walls of the Mycenaean citadel of Midea and probably led to a nearby water source, authorities said Friday.

Excavation director Katie Demakopoulou said the find confirmed that Midea, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Athens, had a sophisticated water supply system like those unearthed in the nearby citadels of Mycenae and Tiryns.
Archaeologist: Remains of last Russian czar's heir may have been found
The remains of the last czar's son and heir to the Russian throne, missing since the royal family was gunned down by Bolsheviks in a basement room nine decades ago, may have at last been found, an archaeologist said Thursday.

Bones found in a burned area in the ground near Yekaterinburg, the city where Czar Nicholas II and his wife and children were held prisoner and shot in 1918, belong to a boy and a young woman roughly the ages of the czar's 13-year-old son Alexei and a daughter whose remains have also never been found, Sergei Pogorelov said.

If confirmed, the find would solve a persistent mystery and fill in a missing chapter in the story of the doomed family — victims of the violent 1917 Bolshevik Revolution that ushered in more than 70 years of Communist rule.

I guess there was still some doubt about the earlier finds of the rest of the family, and this apparently puts that to rest because it provides further verification of one of the guards' notes on it.
Aaagh! Startling Archaeological Find In St. Augustine
At the end of San Salvador Street, an old road in St. Augustine, a pump kept water out of a hole that was five feet deep Wednesday. Meanwhile, archaeologists were inside the hole in the morning, unearthing history.

"I think this is a segment of the Rosario Line," St. Augustine Archaeologist Carl Halbirt said. "It's a component to the Rosario Line."

The Rosario Line was a military wall that wrapped around St. Augustine in the 1700's.

That was me being startled.
Archaeological tests find no more Beckett Point remains; work to resume
Work on a nearly $3 million Jefferson County Public Utility District community septic system at Beckett Point, which stalled in late May after prehistoric Native American remains and artifacts were uncovered, has been cleared to resume after Sept. 3, state officials said on Wednesday.

"We're letting them go forward," said Allyson Brooks, state historic preservation officer. "We just have to amend the permit."

Work on the $2.8 million project will resume after Labor Day, said Jim Parker, PUD manager.

Shell middens are the remains of ancient beach campfires. Ergh.

But here is part of what they found: "The potentially intact shell midden deposits are yet to be investigated in detail, but the currently available information suggests that they represent relatively recent late prehistoric Native American use of this area. Both occupation areas and a cemetery appear to be represented."

That seems rather intensive use to be able to work around. But they don't describe the subsurface testing, which one would assume is a series of boreholes, so perhaps they did adequately sample the entire area.
Artifacts found at proposed site of Monroe school
In a second round of surveying, archaeologists found historical artifacts at the site where Monroe officials want to build a new high school, officials said today.

Richard Grubb & Associates, a Cranbury-based firm, was hired by Monroe Township to determine if the land in Thompson Park is the former site of the Bethel Mission Settlement, the former community of Lenape Indians. Archaeologists found artifacts in Thompson Park during the first survey, but the findings were about a half-mile from where the school is proposed.

During the second phase, artifacts turned up at the proposed location for the school, Paul McEachen, principle senior archaeologist with the firm, said today.
Mummy update
Woman Mummy Discovered
Archaeologists, from the Augusto N. Wiese foundation led by Régulo Franco Jordán, have discovered the mummified remains of a female Moche ruler that dates back approximately 1,700 years. The discovery was made in the Huaca de Cao in the Northern Peruvian department of La Libertad. This is on my the most significant finds since the discovery of Sr. de Sipán.

The remains of this powerful woman were discovered in excellent condition. With the remains in near perfect condition observers were able to see a large number of tattoos of serpents and spiders that reinforced the mystical character of this person. For the discoverer of the site the fact that she had tattoos of these figures provides further evidence that she was a shaman of had some type of divine powers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Museum update Can't provide a link because it's subscription only, but Science has an article on problems with artifact curation in US museums:

Some of the bags have split, spilling their contents into the boxes. And the artifacts' provenance information--where they came from, which is vital to their research value--is written on the bags. TVA is required by law to care for the artifacts, which belong to the federal government, but the strapped agency doesn't have the money. So the University of Tennessee has stepped up to provide space and staffing, but it can't afford to rehabilitate the collections.

The result: a curatorial crisis. "We don't even know at some level what's going on in those bags," Sullivan says, adding that some of the metal artifacts--axes, knives, gun parts, and hoes--are rusting.

Sullivan isn't alone in her plight. Many collections in other repositories are in "much worse shape," she says. Indeed, says Dean Snow, president of the Society for American Archaeology, "the curation problem is at crisis proportions." The effects are being felt not only by researchers using museum collections but also by archaeologists in the field, who worry about where to store the artifacts they recover--and whether they should recover any at all. "I think it's the end of the days of endless archaeology," says archaeologist Teresita Majewski of Statistical Research Inc., a cultural resource management firm in Tucson, Arizona.

I've harped on this many times here. And it's not just a new problem, though the scale is. Attempting to use old collections can be difficult because of some of the very problems noted above: poor storage results in damaged artifacts or unreadable provenance information. Even one of my favorite studies ever, Dunnell's reanalysis of the Mayo site (I'll dig for the reference), had to deal with the fact that all of the faunal material had turned to dust.

archaeologists are thinking harder about what they collect. "For decades and decades, people were collecting everything and keeping it all," says S. Terry Childs, an archaeologist with the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. Now, archaeologists try to choose a representative sample of artifacts, she says. "They are thinking about 'What do I keep?' " Those decisions must be made in the field, and they aren't always easy, says King. She mentions a dig in Maryland in which one of her colleagues, working pro bono, left the artifacts in the ground instead of cleaning and analyzing them. He identified them--and the house he was trying to date--as 20th century; later, more detailed excavation showed that it was 19th century.

One extreme solution is the use of no-collection surveys, says Childs, in which researchers simply record artifacts' location on the surface and leave them there. "This is just horrible," she says, adding that anecdotal reports suggest such surveys are on the rise. Omitting actual artifacts risks the discipline's integrity, agrees Christopher Pulliam of the Army Corps of Engineers. "Archaeology professes to be a science," he says. "If one can't replicate research results or reanalyze the materials from a site, then [archaeology] can't proclaim to be a science."

This doesn't bother me all that much -- the no-collect survey -- on the condition that it's in an area that won't be easily disturbed. But this sort of thing goes on anyway. Decisions are made during the mitigation process to determine whether any archaeological materials in an impact area are "significant" or not, and "non-significant" remains are left to fend for themselves. In Egypt, people have been throwing away sherds by the thousands for a long time. Body sherds that can't be fitted to a vessel are routinely weighed and discarded. But, of course, there's always this problem:
But artifacts uninteresting to some are valuable to others. Back in the 1990s, King co-directed the excavation of the 17th century home of Charles Calvert, governor of Maryland, and found many brick fragments. Bricks were considered expendable and most were discarded, but King says some revealed the earliest evidence of a decorative technique used in the Chesapeake Bay region.

The federal government is drafting new rules to guide deaccessioning some of their hundreds of millions of artifacts; the Department of the Interior alone is responsible for 90 million artifacts. The government tried to implement deaccessioning regulations in 1991 but backed off after ferocious opposition from archaeologists, who said that even artifacts of no research value now might yield important information when examined with future technologies.

The last paragraph mentions collections-based research not being given as much academic credit, and the future of research being largely collections-based. Obviously, unless the existing stuff is properly curated, it's not going to be suitable for study anyway.

There's no easy solution (well, okay, apart from just throwing it all out and starting over). Mitigation work has to be done and that's going to result in new material coming in. There probably won't be a lot of incentive to do anything until the public starts asking serious questions about what is being done with all the stuff they're paying to be dug up, analyzed, and housed. And that might not happen since the vast majority of the stuff that's collected just doesn't excite the lay public enough to care.
Scientists: too geeky

Even before Sputnik, scientists and policy makers worried that not enough Americans were studying science. In August 1957, two months before the Soviets launched their satellite, Science magazine published a survey of high-school students’ images of scientists, conducted by Margaret Mead (yes, that one) and Rhoda Métraux. Students, they found, thought scientists were important. “Without science we would still be living in caves,” was a common sentiment. But they didn’t want to become scientists or (a question asked only of girls) to marry one. Scientists were just too weird.

Two things: They're right, and they're wrong. Scientists are an odd bunch because of the nature of the work. It's detailed and often tedious work that requires a certain amount of obsessive-compulsive disorder to spend hours and hours preparing an experiment or measuring thousands of sherds. And a certain amount of solitude is required for reading and writing.

OTOH, Hollywood does have a stereotype that it likes to play to that the post mentions. Yeah, we're all willing to turn ourselves into flies to "advance the science". They mention CSI which a lot of forensic people hate, but on balance I think it's a good show because the characters aren't all that weird. A bit too typically heroic, but they're usually shown doing the sort of detailed (boring) work that science requires.

There is that thing with the beards though. . . . .

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Non-archaeological post ESPN has an article up on preseason college football rankings and how predictive they've been for the last decade:
Past national champs among most overrated
The formula was simple: We took a team's preseason ranking in the AP Top 25 poll and compared it to where that team finished the season. For example, if State U. was ranked No. 6 in the preseason poll and finished 11th, the team lost five points. Conversely, if State Tech was ranked 13th in the preseason and finished second, it gained 11 points.

Any team that started or finished the season unranked was given a ranking of No. 26. For example, if State U. started the season ranked No. 7 and finished unranked, it lost 19 points, and vice versa.

Only teams that were ranked in at least three of the 10 preseason polls or final polls from 1997-2006 were included in the list of overrated and underrated teams. All teams included in at least one poll were included in conference standings.

The results of the survey are probably surprising to even the most die-hard college football fans. . .

I've been meaning to do something like this. I don't see why it should be all that surprising: traditionally high-profile programs will almost always be overrated because of their past, and vice-versa for relative unknowns. I've always thought preseason polls were largely a popularity contest anyway and ought not to be done until at least 2-3 games have been played.

There are some interesting things in the data though. WA State was probably bumped up so high due to the Mike Price years, where they performed much better than in the past. Same with Oregon (and Oregon State) who used to royally suck. Wisconsin was also traditionally weak until the mid-90s, and even then they tended to be underrated because they didn't generally have exciting offenses.

I don't get Washington though. The last few years they haven't been ranked and have performed as such. I thought they generally over-performed during the Neuheisel years, too. Be nice to see the raw data. . . .
Seahenge saga comes full circle
Nearly 10 years after its controversial excavation, the mystery remains. While the upturned oak tree and its ring of timbers have taught us a few things we didn't know about our ancestors, we still don't know why they built it.

Late in 1998, a long-forgotten landscape began re-emerging from beneath the sands of Holme Beach, near Hunstanton.

Beds of freshwater peat - all that remained of the salt marsh and forest which bordered the sea more than 4,000 years ago - were being uncovered by the tides.

There's a video at that link as well.
Praxiteles between history and myth
THE GREATEST sculptor of 4th century BC Attica, Praxiteles was the first to capture the female figure in the nude: a full-scale representation of Aphrodite (the so-called Cnidian statue type) modelled after Thespian courtesan Phryne. Another of his breakthroughs was that he liberated Greek sculpture from the grandiose and imposing touch of Pheidias by humanising his subjects - mostly of divine descent - in order to reflect his fascination with life and by working the fine Parian marble to a smooth, silky effect even when it came to the depiction of demonic figures such as satyrs.

A grand exhibition at the Louvre Museum in March traced Praxiteles' myth and history through the display of mainly Roman copies given that a very small number of sculptures have been identified by researchers as Praxiteles' own or as the originals of his workshop.

It's a pretty good article. Some photos of on of the Aphrodite statues can be found here.
Paleoanthropology update Ape's fossilised teeth help fill evolutionary gap
he teeth were unearthed in soil sediments that have been dated as being between 10 million and 11 million years old. With an age of more 10 million years, Chororapithecus must have predated the origin of the human lineage, which is believed to have split off from the apes at least eight million years ago.

But the discovery of such an old gorilla-like ape suggests that the split between humans and other apes may have been even earlier, the scientists say.

"Most molecular and DNA studies have concluded that humans and gorillas had split by at least eight million years ago, and humans and chimps by five to six million years ago," they said. "Chororapithecus indicates a reconsideration of this assumption is needed."

Note this: "It was our last day of field survey in February 2006, when our sharp-eyed field assistant, Kampiro Kairente, found the first ape tooth,"

Scary how often all the good stuff is found on the last day.
CSI: El Mirón Cave

Cave Clue Reveals Ancient Bohemian Life
A prehistoric Spanish hunting group that may have even had its own gang symbols appears to have drawn, hunted, crashed in a cave, eaten, recycled waste and moved on, suggests a new study.

Like a good detective story, the research hinged on one major clue — a buried pile of mysterious black bones found in a dark, dank room at the interior of El Mirón Cave near the northern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

This cave was like a residential hotel for traveling groups of Stone Age hunters, according to lead author Ana Belén Marín Arroyo, who worked with Lawrence Straus and other scientists.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More weirdness Danes say sorry for Viking raids on Ireland
More than 1,200 years ago hordes of bloodthirsty Viking raiders descended on Ireland, pillaging monasteries and massacring the inhabitants. Yesterday, one of their more mild-mannered descendants stepped ashore to apologise.

The Danish culture minister, Brian Mikkelson, who was in Dublin to participate in celebrations marking the arrival of a replica Norse longboat, apologised for the invasion and destruction inflicted. "In Denmark we are certainly proud of this ship, but we are not proud of the damages to the people of Ireland that followed in the footsteps of the Vikings," Mr Mikkelson declared in his welcoming speech delivered on the dockside at the river Liffey. "But the warmth and friendliness with which you greet us today and the Viking ship show us that, luckily, it has all been forgiven."

Whew. Now everyone can get on living.

BTW, I'd like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to anyone whose ancestors may have been unduly discomforted by my ancestors.

Seems like a great way to pick up Amerindian chicks in a bar. "Say, I'd just like to say, I'm awfully sorry. . . ."

UPDATE: Had to do with this story.
Pre-clovis update Were seafarers living here 16,000 years ago?
In a Canadian archeological project that could revolutionize understanding of when and how humans first reached the New World, federal researchers in B.C. have begun probing an underwater site off the Queen Charlotte Islands for traces of a possible prehistoric camp on the shores of an ancient lake long since submerged by the Pacific Ocean.

The landmark investigation, led by Parks Canada scientist Daryl Fedje, is seeking evidence to support a contentious new theory about the peopling of the Americas that is gradually gaining support in scholarly circles. It holds that ancient Asian seafarers, drawn on by food-rich kelp beds ringing the Pacific coasts of present-day Russia, Alaska and British Columbia, began populating this hemisphere thousands of years before the migration of Siberian big-game hunters -- who are known to have travelled across the dried up Bering Strait and down an ice-free corridor east of the Rockies as the last glaciers began retreating about 13,000 years ago.

Hmmmm. . .not much about the site itself. I just re-watched a PBS program ("America's Stone Age Explorers") and it had a section on the purely floral/faunal remains being found along the coast up there that indicated that at least parts of the coast were not ice-bound around that time. Either way, boats or no-boats, an actual site from this period would be significant.
Inside the Emperor’s underground palace
It covers an area the size of Cambridge but so far only a tiny proportion of the site of the First Emperor of China’s underground palace for the afterlife has been excavated.

Now Chinese archaeologists have used computerised imagery to complete a 3-D reconstruction of the giant tomb that lies 30 metres beneath a mound, with the Qinling mountains in the background.

The dramatic imagery has been made available to The Times by the historian John Man, before he publishes pictures and a detailed description of it in his book The Terracotta Army: China’s First Emperor and the Birth of a Nation next month. The reconstruction of the tomb has been put together by a team led by Duan Quingbo, of the Shaanxi Institute of Archaeology, and it is being made public as some of the greatest finds at the excavation site — including figures from the famous Terracotta Army — are due to go on display at the British Museum.

I'm going to be in China in November and plan on visiting this place.

I'm sure I'll be walking around and stumble into a hole somewhere, thus discovering the secret entrance to the Lost Tomb.
Okay, this is just plain weird Ancient human footprint found
Egyptian archaeologists have found what they said could be the oldest human footprint in history in the country's western desert, the Arab country's antiquities' chief said on Monday.

"This could go back about two million years," said Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. "It could be the most important discovery in Egypt," he told Reuters.

Archaeologists found the footprint, imprinted on mud and then hardened into rock, while exploring a prehistoric site in Siwa, a desert oasis.

Scientists are using carbon tests on plants found in the rock to determine its exact age, Hawass said.

Khaled Saad, the director of prehistory at the council, said that based on the age of the rock where the footprint was found, it could date back even further than the renowned 3-million year-old fossil Lucy, the partial skeleton of an ape-man, found in Ethiopia in 1974.

Most archaeological interest in Egypt is focused on the time of the pharaohs.

Previously, the earliest human archaeological evidence from Egypt dated back around 200,000 years, Saad said.

That's the whole thing. "Carbon tests on plants found in the rock"? 2 million years old? Huh? Human? Huh?

Weird. Might be a hominid, but the articles I've seen on it are wildly uninformative.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bonobos as political pawns?

Hawks looks at a bit of a dust up over the now-tarnished reputation of bonobos:
[C]certainly, there are many who want to push the idea that primates are not peaceful gentle creatures, because it confirms their own view of human nature. Certainly, bonobos are a target for such beliefs, since people have a perception of bonobos that is way beyond their real behavior. Up to now, that perception has fit a stereotype of peace-loving hippie primates. As de Waal points out, that stereotype has gotten them attention, increasing the opportunities to research them. But pushing the stereotype always risks that someone will pop the bubble.

Yeah, same old, same old. Read the whole thing.
Archaeologists uncover county’s ‘first capital’
A team of archaeologists from UCC, led by Professor William O’Brien, have carried out extensive research that sheds new light on what is the largest prehistoric monument in Co Cork and the oldest dated ringfort in the country.

. . .

Radiocarbon dating shows that the ringfort was constructed about 1200BC confirming it as the oldest known prehistoric ringfort in Ireland, according to Prof O’Brien. This puts its importance on a par with prehistoric sites such as Dún Aengus on Inishmore and Mooghaun, Co Clare.
He found it stuck under a Neolithic chair Student finds Neolithic chewing gum
An archaeology student has discovered a 5,000-year-old piece of chewing gum.

Sarah Pickin, 23, found the lump of birch bark tar – complete with Neolithic tooth prints - while on a dig as a volunteer in Finland.

Neolithic people used the material as an antiseptic to treat gum infections as well as a glue for repairing broken pots.

Trevor Brown, Ms Pickin’s tutor at the University of Derby, said: “It’s particularly significant because well-defined tooth imprints were found on the gum that Sarah discovered.”

That's the whole thing. Bit more here.
Life existed more than 9,000 years ago
After thousands of years underwater, a handful of North Port's history resurfaced in a Ziploc bag.

"They don't call it hardwood for nothin'!" said Steve Koski to John Gifford after the two emerged from the Little Salt Spring with a radiocarbon sample last week.

Koski, an archaeologist at Little Salt Spring Research Facility, off Price Boulevard, mumbled this to his teammate while the two were 40 feet underwater. But Gifford, research director for Miami University, was unable to hear as his knife chiseled away at a piece of wood the team believes to be at least 9,000 years old.
Neanderthal update Handsome By Chance: Why Humans Look Different From Neanderthals
Chance, not natural selection, best explains why the modern human skull looks so different from that of its Neanderthal relative, according to a new study led by Tim Weaver, assistant professor of anthropology at UC Davis.

. . .

Weaver and his colleagues compared cranial measurements of 2,524 modern human skulls and 20 Neanderthal specimens, then contrasted those results with genetic information from a separate sample of 1,056 modern humans.

The scientists concluded that Neanderthals did not develop their protruding mid-faces as an adaptation to icy Pleistocene weather or the demands of using teeth as tools, and the retracted faces of modern humans are not an adaptation for language, as some anthropologists have proposed.

To be honest, I never quite liked a lot of the ideas put forth on Neanderthal cranial morphology. I always figured they just looked different because they split off earlier.
CU-Boulder team discovers first ancient manioc fields in Americas
A University of Colorado at Boulder team excavating an ancient Maya village in El Salvador buried by a volcanic eruption 1,400 years ago has discovered an ancient field of manioc, the first evidence for cultivation of the calorie-rich tuber in the New World.

The manioc field was discovered under roughly 10 feet of ash, said CU-Boulder anthropology Professor Payson Sheets, who has been directing the excavation of the ancient village of Ceren since its discovery in 1978. Considered the best-preserved ancient village in Latin America, Ceren's buildings, artifacts and landscape were frozen in time by the sudden eruption of the nearby Loma Caldera volcano about 600 A.D., providing a unique window on the everyday lives of prehistoric Mayan farmers.

The discovery marks the first time manioc cultivation has been discovered at an archaeological site anywhere in the Americas, said Sheets. The National Geographic Society funded the 2007 CU-Boulder research effort at Ceren, the most recent of five research grants made by NGS to the ongoing excavations by Sheets and his students.

Remote sensing meets Pompeii:
In June, the researchers used ground-penetrating radar, drill cores and test pits to pinpoint and uncover several large, parallel planting beds separated by walkways, said Sheets. Ash hollows in the planting beds left by decomposed plant material were cast with dental plaster to preserve their shapes and subsequently were identified as manioc tubers, an important, high-carbohydrate food source for Latin Americans today, said Sheets.

Also check the stratigraphy n the one photo:

Bit more here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mysterious Fuxian Lake's Secrets Told
Fuxian Lake stretches out through Chengjiang County, Jiangchuan County and Huaning County in Yunnan Province, about 60 kilometers to Kunming City, spanning an area of 212 square kilometers.

The lake is ranked third largest in Yunnan, right after the Dianchi Lake and the Erhai Lake. Also the deepest lake in Yunnan, it is 155 meters deep at its greatest depth.

One day, Geng Wei, a specialized diver, found a strange phenomenon under the lake. He discovered many stone materials, including flagstones and stone strips with thick moss above them, could be seen.
Mummy Was Painted Red With Spanish Lead
Egyptian mummies may be more international than previously thought, as analysis of one such mummy in the Brooklyn Museum's collection has revealed a surprising connection to Spain.

The mummy, named "Demetrios," turns out to have been wrapped in linen that was decorated with red pigment containing lead that originated in Spain, according to the museum.

"We now think the ancient Egyptians made very specific material choices for mummy preparation," Lisa Bruno, the museum's lead object conservator, told Discovery News.

There are some other links at the end of the article, and a video! It looks like a typical Fayum mummy with the portrait.
Massive Tsartlip artifact stolen from Mayne Island beach
A massive stone bowl believed to be between 4,000 and 6,000 years old has been stolen from a beach on Mayne Island, an area belonging to the Tsartlip First Nation.

Drag marks are visible down Helen Point Beach and band members assume a large boat was used to remove the bowl, said Chief Chris Tom.

"It has to weigh at least a couple of tonnes. This was not done on the spur of the moment. Someone must have recognized it and made plans," he said.
Volunteer archeologists unearth an ancient tomb in Italy
The Etruscan tomb was hidden in such a remote corner of Tuscany that Andrea Marcocci, the archeology student who had identified it about a decade ago, was not very worried that anyone else would stumble upon it.

Then, earlier this year, woodsmen began to clear brush in the area, and Marcocci - who had felt the tomb had been safe as long as it was hidden in a forest - realized he had to act.

"I became worried that what's supposed to be the patrimony of mankind would become the patrimony of an individual," he said.

Already posted earlier, but this one adds some new details to it discovery.
Relocation project for centuries-old graves found in Cranston continue
As the state continues to work on plans for the reburial of remains found in old graves that were exposed by erosion alongside Route 37 in the Sockanosset Cross Road area last year, examination of the bones has given archaeologist more insight into the lives of those who died at the State Farm at the turn of the 20th century.

Yesterday, state Department of Transportation spokesman Charles St. Martin reviewed some of the personal possessions that were recovered when archaeologists examined the remains of 67 men, women and children and painstakingly combed through the shreds of their pine coffins.

Buttons, hair combs, a key, a pair of wedding rings, false teeth, and the remnant of a ruffle from a long skirt were carefully laid out on a long table at Public Archaeology Lab (PAL) Inc., the Pawtucket firm that has been working on the recovery project with DOT archaeologist Michael Hebert.

I usually don't link to this recent of stories, but I've taken a fancy to cemetery archaeology, and it's kind of a neat article.
History of Aberdeen goes online
Aberdeen City Council’s Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) holds details of more than 3,000 archaeological and historic sites, ranging from 8000 BC to the 1960s.

Now these exciting slices of the Granite City’s rich history can be viewed online.

The first records will go live on Friday [17 Aug] with information on each site, along with photographs, drawings, maps and even satellite images.

The web site (linked in the article) is a bit. . . .well, a few clicks and I didn't find anything particularly interesting. Probably a better resource if you're in the area and want to go look at the stuff.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Car blogging update

Well, the restoration of the Mustang II is complete. Carpet and some upholstery was completed yesterday. For history, see here, and here.

I had professionals to the carpet this time. Ergh. They also replaced a couple of panels in the rear seat that had small tears. The color match is perfect, but it has a bit more texture than the original. You can't tell unless you're really looking for it though. Photos:

Original image here.

Original image here.

Original image here.

Original image here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Egyptian Tomb of Noblewoman Found
An ancient Egyptian noblewoman's large stone coffin has been found in a tomb near the pyramid of Unas, experts announced yesterday

Archaeologists were digging near the crumbling pyramid in Saqqâra, 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Cairo, when they discovered the tomb, which had been built more than 600 years before the noblewoman's death. (Check out a map of ancient Saqqâra.)

The find is another example of the enduring gravity of ancient Egypt's sacred places, said expedition leader Ola el-Aguizy of Cairo University.
Archaeology in the media update CBS, Bruckheimer hunting for treasure
CBS has ordered an adventure drama pilot from Jerry Bruckheimer, the prolific producer behind the network's three "CSI" shows as well as "Cold Case," "Without a Trace" and "The Amazing Race."
. . .

Reiff, a history buff who holds New York University degrees in film and history, described the project as an "A-class network version of an archaeology adventure show."

"The relics, the treasures on it will run the gamut from biblical and ancient history though medieval and Renaissance times up to modern days," he said.

Well, he says "archaeology" but it reads more like "treasure hunting". I imagine it will bear about as much resemblance to real archaeology as CSI does to real forensic work, i.e., little. But then, real archaeology is 99% boring.

"That's very good, Jennifer. Try not to use the pointed end of your trowel though, use it more like a knife, as if you're slicing off a thin section of the ground."

"Like this?"

"Yes, that's right, now keep that up. And don't forget to label your sediment sample bag next time."

"Okay. Wait! I found something! What is it?"

"Ummm, looks like a rounded rock to me."
This is kinda cool Archeologists discover footprint made by sandal of Roman soldier
Archeologists have discovered a footprint made by the sandal of a Roman soldier - one of the few such finds in the world - in a wall surrounding the Hellenistic-Roman city of Sussita, east of Lake Kinneret.

The discovery of the print made by a hobnailed sandal, the kind used by the Roman legions during the time when Rome ruled the region, led to the presumption that legionnaires or former legionnaires participated in the construction of walls such as the one in which the footprint was found.

"We know that urban construction projects in Israel were run by the cities themselves, and the Roman imperial system wasn't involved," said Professor Arthur Segal of Haifa University, who is heading the excavation.

Kinda neat. We used to find fingerprints of Ancient Egyptians™ in some of the unpainted plaster in VotK tombs, too.
Blogging update
Links to personal web site should be working now. It was a Dreamhost thing. Regularly scheduled blogging will resume shortly.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blogging update

My web site's been down, so that's why some links to it are not working. Don't know anything about why it went down nor for how long. But IT'S NOT ME.
Demotivational idea of the day

Comet update Comet May Have Exploded Over North America 13,000 Years Ago
New scientific findings suggest that a large comet may have exploded over North America 12,900 years ago, explaining riddles that scientists have wrestled with for decades, including an abrupt cooling of much of the planet and the extinction of large mammals.

The discovery was made by scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara and their colleagues. James Kennett, a paleoceanographer at the university, said that the discovery may explain some of the highly debated geologic controversies of recent decades.

The period in question is called the Younger Dryas, an interval of abrupt cooling that lasted for about 1,000 years and occurred at the beginning of an inter-glacial warm period. Evidence for the temperature change is recorded in marine sediments and ice cores.

According to the scientists, the comet before fragmentation must have been about four kilometers across, and either exploded in the atmosphere or had fragments hit the Laurentide ice sheet in the northeastern North America.

Nothing new, apparently, from earlier stories on it.
It's not just archaeology UCF physicist says Hollywood movies hurt students' understanding of science
Movies such as Spiderman 2 and Speed generate excitement among audiences with their cool special effects. But they also defy the laws of physics, contributing to students’ ignorance about science.

Two University of Central Florida professors show just how poorly Hollywood writers and directors understand science in an article published in the German journal “Praxis der Naturwissenschaften Physik.” Common sense may indicate that people should know the stunts in movies are just make believe, but the professors say that’s not necessarily true.

Some people really do believe a bus traveling 70 mph can clear a 50-foot gap in a freeway, as depicted in the movie Speed. And, if that were realistic, a ramp would be needed to adjust the direction of motion to even try to make the leap, said UCF professor Costas J. Efthimiou, who co-authored the article.

“Students come here, and they don’t have any basic understanding of science,” he said. “Sure, people say everyone knows the movies are not real, but my experience is many of the students believe what they see on the screen.”

Ergh. I don't find this terribly distressing, any more than Lara Croft conducting good archaeological research. Personally, movies like that irritate me. There's a certain suspension of disbelief that I just can't handle. Such as when physics is blatantly violated. Such as, oh, say, two guys fighting while standing on a rock in the middle of a river of lava. No, lava can't burn you unless you actually touch it. (Hello? Anyone heard of radiant heat???). Or, say, someone jumping up and delivering a few kicks while hovering in mid air. Mike Meyers will always have a special place in my heart for actually showing Fat Bastard's wire fightin' wires in Goldmember.

Not like it's a new thing. Remember when people used to get shot, but you'd only know it because they grimaced and grasped their stomach? Wow, people died with no apparent blood loss. Or die instantly when shot.

That's what school is for. What these guys are really demonstrating is that pre-university education sucks.
Online paper update Here's a truly outstanding work on human burials at the Old Kingdom site of Kom el-Hisn. I was going to have a go at publishing it in a journal, but it will probably get put in the upcoming monograph instead.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Field photos du jour

Still in the Valley of the Kings. Todays photos illustrate a conservation problem and also a geologic feature that the Egyptians themselves had to contend with while building the royal tombs. Recall that the VotK is predominantly in Theban limestone which is a fairly soft, but fine grained limestone and relatively easy to work. However, as I showed in this post, scattered throughout are veins and nodules of chert/flint, a precipitate mineral. The chert is much harder than the surrounding limestone and no doubt gave the builders fits, especially when a nodule occurred in a corner. There is still another problem, but on a rather larger scale.

Faults run all through the VotK, some small, others quite large. The faults themselves can be a problem, but a secondary phenomenon comes after the faults form and they are filled with yet another nasty mineral, which I believe is quartzite. (I think I said calcite earlier, but that's retarded since calcite is soft) A typcal fault in the VotK:

Full image here.

The small ridge is the quartzite whose hardness makes it more resistant to weathering than the surrounding limestone. It's nasty hard stuff and tough to chip away at. Because of this, it's often left only partially worked. The junk coming out of the wall on the right is a fault filled with it:

Full image here.

That's the modern version. Obviously, faults don't just occur on the outside:

Full image here.

Sorry about the blurriness. I also don't have the tomb handy, so intrepid readers will have to ferret that out (Seti I?). They finally got sick of trying to cut through that junk and left it as it was. Or maybe they just ran out of time and left it as it was. Or maybe both.
Okay, more fun stuff in light of an earlier post:

Recently Unearthed E-Mail Reveals What Life Was Like In 1995
A 1995 e-mail extracted from the hard drive of a recently unearthed Compaq desktop PC offers a tantalizing glimpse into the day-to-day life of a primitive Internet society, said the archaeologists responsible for its discovery.

. . .

"It shows that these forgotten people of the '90s had many of the same concerns as modern man, such as b-days, and slow periods at work," Caspari said. "The presence of the archaic slang verbalization 'what's up' appears to indicate that they cared about the immediate welfare of others in their closely knit community, much as we do today."

But the artifact reveals differences as well. According to Caspari, the find indicates that people from that era spoke a much earlier form of e-mail language alien to our own, employing the full spellings of most words, and lacking the versatility and advanced expression of smiley-face or frowny-face emoticons.

And another classic:
Archaeological Dig Uncovers Ancient Race Of Skeleton People
"This is an incredible find," said Dr. Christian Hutchins, Oxford University archaeologist and head of the dig team. "Imagine: At one time, this entire area was filled with spooky, bony, walking skeletons."

"The implications are staggering," Hutchins continued. "We now know that the skeletons we see in horror films and on Halloween are not mere products of the imagination, but actually lived on Earth."

And one that I thought I'd never find again: Archaeologist Tired Of Unearthing Unspeakable Ancient Evils
"All I wanted to do was study the settlement's remarkably well-preserved kiln," said the 58-year-old Whitson, carefully recoiling the rope he had just used to clamber out of a pit filled with giant rats. "I didn't want to be chased by yet another accursed manifestation of an ancient god-king's wrath."

Over the course of his career, Whitson has been frequently lauded by colleagues for his thorough, methodical examinations of ancient peoples. He has also been chased by the snake-bodied ophidian women of Al'lat in Israel, hunted down by Mayan coyote specters manifested out of lost time and shadow in the Yucatan, and hounded by the Arctic-sky-filling Walrus Bone Woman of the early Inuits.

"It's true, I've got to stop reading the inscriptions on ancient door seals out loud," Whitson said. "I also need to quit dusting off medallions set into strange sarcophagi, allowing the light to hit them for the first time in centuries. And replacing the jewels that have fallen from the foreheads of ancient frog-deity statues—that's just bad archaeological practice."
1,200-year-old graves found
The resting places of some of Aldbourne's oldest inhabitants have been discovered during an archaeological dig on the former Crowcastle site on the edge of the village.

Wessex Archaeology have so far turned up 12 graves, thought to date back more than 1,200 years, during their excavations.

They have been employed by Infinity Homes, who are building 15 houses on the site on Marlborough Road.
Archaeologists working to uncover one of valley's oldest homes
Archaeologists are working to uncover one of the Salt Lake valley's oldest homes.
The pit house was found near the Utah State Prison in Draper. It still had tools on the floor, burned animal bones and charcoal. Radiocarbon dating of those burned items puts the house at about 3,000 years old.
The excavation is being done under the supervision of Utah State Archaeologist Kevin Jones.
Relocation of pioneer cemetery starts today
The first steps in relocating a small cemetery before an interstate expansion project begin today.

Crews are to remove headstones from the plot near I-69 and I-465.
Eventually the remains in Whitesell Cemetery will be moved to the Pioneer section of Crown Hill Cemetery.
The cemetery relocation will allow for a highway project to increase capacity on one of most heavily traveled highways, I-465 and I-69.
The Whitesell Cemetery is an 1800's family cemetery with approximately 30 known gravesites.
The Rhyme of America's most ancient mariners
THE "first Americans" have long been seen as intrepid ice-age hunters whose appetite for mammoths and other big game led them across the frigid wilds of Siberia and over the Bering land bridge some 13,500 years ago. There, in the New World, bands of early humans trekked down a narrow, ice-free corridor, fanning out south of the ice sheets, crossing raging rivers and steep mountain passes, and adapting to a succession of alien ecosystems - including desert, chaparral, cloud forest, rainforest and pampas - until finally running out of land in Tierra del Fuego. It was a journey of epic proportions. So much so that the famous French archaeologist François Bordes once described it as a feat that would go unrivalled "until man lands on a planet belonging to another star".

It's made the news before.
Breaking news Archaeologists Discover Scrolls With Jesus' Full Name
Archaeologists digging near ancient Nazareth in Israel have uncovered scrolls that appear to be public records of the town. In them are Roman census data dating from about 20 A.D. that appear to include the names of the family of Jesus Christ.

Listed under the family belonging to Joseph ben Jacob (Joseph, son of Jacob) and Mary are several children, including Jesus H., James, Joses, Simon, Judas, Deborah, Ruth, and Sarah. The names of the sons match those as quoted in Matthew 13: 55-56 and Mark 6:3. Names of the daughters/sisters of Jesus were unknown until now (if the records are authentic). As children's birth years are listed, it shows clearly that Jesus was the eldest son.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Scottish soldiers’ grave is found after 400 years
he remains of Scottish soldiers-of-fortune killed in battle in Germany almost 400 years ago have been found in a mass grave near Berlin.

The men, all aged between 20 and 35, fell in action at the Battle of Wittstock in 1636 at the height of the 30 Years War.

It began as a civil conflict and gradually drew in most of the major European powers. More people died than in the First World War, many of them from the famine and disease which followed after opposing armies laid waste to the countryside across central Europe.
Underwater archaeology update Ballard Chases History Again In The Black Sea
About 6 miles off the coast of Ukraine, Ballard watched from a NATO research vessel Monday on a high-definition plasma television screen. The paintbrush uncovered what looked like a pewter cup at the bow of the ship.

“What the heck is that, Mr. Expert?” Ballard asked a colleague while speaking with The Day by phone. “We're all scratching our heads.”

The ship, called Chersonesos A, is one of several already found in the Black Sea, but marks Ballard's first deep-sea excavation effort there. Its name refers to the ancient Greek colony off the coast of Crimea.

No doubt the Black Sea will become a truly exceptional place for archaeology once people start exploring in detail.
Angkor Wat update Two articles on it:
Vast ancient settlement found at Angkor Wat
A huge urban sprawl once surrounded Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat temple, according to a newly created map. The scale of the settlement makes it more plausible that the inhabitants of Angkor brought on their own society's collapse through environmental degradation.

The new map uses data from high-resolution, ground-sensing radar and aerial photographs to augment extensive fieldwork. By detecting slight variations in vegetation and ground moisture due to underlying ruins, the radar reveals in unprecedented detail the location of temples - including 94 newly identified temple sites plus another 74 that have yet to be checked on the ground - ponds, roads and canals.

Researchers in the Greater Angkor Project at the University of Sydney in Australia, together with colleagues in Australia, Cambodia and France, used the techniques to survey the entire watershed of the Angkor region.

LA Times's take here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Archaeologists hope to learn about French colonists who inhabited shores of Lake Champlain
Old cellar holes, now depressions in the grass, are the most prominent clues that French and later British settlers once occupied the shores of Lake Champlain.

Archaeologists believe there are more clues to be found, so they recruited school teachers and volunteers to dig and sift the dirt for answers.

They've unearthed ceramic, brick and plaster fragments, animal bones and shards of glass that may change what they thought about the French colonists that inhabited the region between 1730 and 1759.

But did they know about. . . .THE MONSTER OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN????

Neolithic village found in Orkney sheds new light on Stone Age life
The remains of a Neolithic settlement discovered in Orkney were hailed yesterday as potentially as important as the Skara Brae village on the islands.

The 2.5 hectare site is believed to date back nearly 5,000 years and to include a complex system of temples and dwellings spread over two fields. The find, at Ness of Brodgar, between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness, will add to the area’s reputation as home to some of the most remarkable archaeological monuments in Europe.

Nick Card, project manager at the dig, began excavations two months ago with a team from Orkney College and Orkney Archaeological Trust. He said that the discovery had the potential to rank alongside Skara Brae, the Stone Age village that is now part of a World Heritage Site. “The discovery has the potential to illuminate how these different sites interacted and how people lived,” he said. “We are hopeful that every aspect of life 5,000 years ago will be clarified by our discoveries. This is not just about Neolithic life in the north of Scotland; it could have ramifications for the study of the Stone Age throughout Britain.”
Hot women Great Old Broads of archaeology Don't ruin our treasures — the Great Old Broads are watchings
The Great Old Broads for Wilderness have one hand on their hips and the other extended, with a finger pointed at the group the women believe are crushing national treasures beneath their wheels.

The group of elderly women campaigning to protect wild places considers the ancestral ruins dispersed across the West to be gems. And their appeal, said Veronica Egan, executive director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, is becoming their destruction.

I like to think I'm very. . .broad minded.
Intact 2,000-year old Etruscan tomb discovered
Archaeologists have discovered a more than 2,000-year-old Etruscan tomb perfectly preserved in the hills of Tuscany with a treasure trove of artefacts inside, including urns that hold the remains of about 30 people.

The tomb, in the Tuscan town of Civitella Paganico, probably dates from between the 1st and 3rd centuries B.C., when Etruscan power was in decline, Andrea Marcocci, who led digging at the site, told Reuters.

"It's quite rare to find a tomb intact like this," said Marcocci, who had suspected one might exist in the area after work on a nearby road scattered pieces of artefacts.

Doesn't seem to be stacked with gold and stuff, but it's got lots of artifacts.
And now back to our regularly scheduled archaeological programming
Replacement of Vt. bridge yields clues to the past
The replacement of a concrete bridge on a winding road through farm land has yielded a fascinating find. Archaeologists are unearthing spear points and remnants of fire pits that show that Indian populations used the river plains for at least the last 6,000 years.

"This is a multi-component Native American site. It means people came back here over thousands of years," said Michael Brigham, an archaeologist with the University of Maine at Farmington, which won the contract to excavate the site.

The discovery is delaying the project, but could help preserve the past.
Non-archaeological post: In praise of Jack LaLanne

A ways back I posted on the 30th anniversary of "Pumping Iron". Now, I send a shout out to an earlier generation of fitness gurus, or at least one. I believe he was one of the first to have a fitness TV show during the day. I remember my mom watching his show in the '60s and exercising along with it, or at least I think I do; it could have been some other guy in a dark jumpsuit.

At any rate, he was on TV and in bookstores in the mid-late 1950s onward. Which is all interesting and stuff, but it does have a personal angle. By the time I hit my teens, I wasn't what one would call an athletic kid. I don't have the right physique to ever become really fat, but I can (and did) easily develop a pot-belly/love handles. It's one of the prices of being scrawny, I guess.

At any rate, I was yer basic scrawny, pot-bellied, out-of-shape dorkwad when I was probably 14-15 or so. (And I had a 'fro! And a 'fro comb!) One day I eventually got sick of being at least pot-bellied and out-of-shape. I was bored one summer and found an old Jack LaLanne book that my mother had -- I think it was The Jack LaLanne way to vibrant good health; I'd know it if I saw a picture of the cover -- and started reading it. It was a neat book. His basic contention was that one could exercise and get into fine shape just by using stuff you have at home, in this case a couple of kitchen chairs and a bath towel. (And some other things, but I remember those two items) In some ways it foreshadowed the whole Nike line of "Just Do It"; run, walk, do calisthenics, but just get moving.

So I started doing some of the routines in it and was amazed that it actually worked. I could do this stuff. I could even feel my pecs actually becoming. . .pecs! Results! Without a big gym with hundreds of pounds of barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines! One of the exercises was dips which you can do using the backs of two chairs (you really have to watch out that they don't both tip back at you though). This was also one of the things in the President's Physical Fitness Challenge or whatever it was called that we all had to suffer through in school. HATED it. Anyway, after doing this stuff all summer, I wowed all the kids at school by jumping up and whipping out 15 of 'em, no problem.*

LaLanne teaches a valuable lesson, which has really stuck with me over the years. Working out has been part of my daily routine for years now, and I can't imagine ever not doing it. Of course, instead of chairs and a towel, I go to a gym with thousands of pounds of barbells and dumbbells and weight machines, but the principle is the same. I don't have a personal trainer, I don't record everything I do in a notebook; I just go in every day, do mostly basic iron-pumping routines, and that's that. Still, if I'm traveling I will often take some time out to do a bit of a work out using hotel chairs and a bath towel, though a lot of places have little fitness centers in them these days. But heck, with chairs and a towel you can work out in your own room in your underwear (please, gentle readers, do not try to imagine that of your host; I use only as an example).

Last I heard, Jack is still going strong. I think he quit doing the weird stuff on his birthday like swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco pulling a boat in his teeth and stuff. But he's always had a good philosophy of what exercise and staying fit is all about, which is working it into your life such that it's as natural as breathing. He didn't exactly make me start on the road to working out daily, but he was a good influence at the right time and in the right way. So, thanks, Jack.

* Never did pass the dumb thing. The peg board always got me. I swear one of these days I'm going to sneak down to the local school and do every damned thing that was on that miserable list.