Monday, January 31, 2005

There's great heaping gobs of news today, but we're horrendously busy with various database issues that we shall either post it all tonight or tomorrow. Thank you for your support.

[Update] Well, okay, we couldn't let this one pass, even though it is not related to archaeology at all and only peripherally related to anthropology:

Monkeys Pay to See Female Monkey Bottoms

A new study found that male monkeys will give up their juice rewards in order to ogle pictures of female monkey's bottoms. The way the experiment was set up, the act is akin to paying for the images, the researchers say.

The rhesus macaque monkeys also splurged on photos of top-dog counterparts, the high-ranking primates. Maybe that's like you or me buying People magazine.

At least now we know it has a genetic basis. . .

Thanks to Ronski at The Perfect World
TV corner

Well, we caught the first half hour or so of Discovery's Pompeii: The Last Day and based on that portion, we'll give it a cautious. . .uhhhhh. . .trowel's up. We liked the way they juxtaposed the reconstructions (i.e., movie sets) with actual footage of what the places look like today, so one can see how they reconstructed it. We also learned a few things, at least one of which we wish we hadn't: that they used to A) Pee in pots out in the street (we're kind of dubious about that one, but you never know), and B) That someone took the pee-pots away to dump into pools where slaves were busily washing the laundry with it. We don't know what this particular bit of information is based on, but we'd rather not dwell on it. There seemed to be a lot of nice little bits thrown in on Daily Life in The First Century Roman Empire, which, we think, is a good thing. Too many times we get the Big Picture -- wars and emperors and whatnot -- and forget what people were actually doing 90% of the time.

One thing we're not sure about: The increasing tendency to use very elaborate reconstructions, such that production values are very high and there are real actors actually acting in little vignettes about Daily Life in. . .etc. It's kind of distracting -- this is a documentary after all, right? -- but we suppose it's better than putting a bunch of production assistants in period costumes and having them play-fight battle scenes and such. Still, we question the interpretation that has to take place. Apparently, all high-class Roman citizens had British accents and were arrogant twits. But whatever, make up your own minds. We'll watch the rest of it tonight and see if we change our minds.

Well, it's about freakin' time, County May Appoint Staff Archaeologist

For the past decade, developers have been erecting houses and office buildings on the sites of plantations, farms and historic houses in Prince William County without authoritative oversight from the county government.

On Tuesday, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors will decide whether to employ an archaeologist, a position that board Chairman Sean T. Connaughton (R) says is long overdue.

"Up to this point, we have had to depend on the applicants' archaeological studies instead of having an independent review," Connaughton said. "This is part of an ongoing effort of the county to ensure that we preserve as much of the county's past as possible."

Definitely 'with' Committee to discuss controversial Tara motorway

Proposals to build a controversial new motorway through the Hill of Tara in Co Meath will be discussed in detail next week by the Oireachtas joint Committee on Local Government.

At issue is whether the proposed road should be built with or without a proper archaeological dig of the locality.

Macchu Picchu in Maine. . . Maine's Macchu Picchu in Warren?

Archaeologist Harbor Mitchell III of Camden will discuss aspects of this and other current archaeological questions, based on excavations he has conducted at several mid-coast sites, at Merryspring Park this Thursday, February 3rd, at 2:00 PM.

When the first European explorers visited Maine's mid-coast in 1605, they found themselves in the heart of a resource-rich area that Indians had been utilizing for centuries. The natives they met along the coast spoke of the Bashabas, a sort of "superchief", living nearby; whose rule extended over most of modern-day Maine. Tantalizing clues in the journals of Rosier and Champlain suggest that his abode was somewhere between Pemaquid and the Camden Hills, and much speculation is currently focusing on an artifact-rich site in Warren where Mitchell has conducted excavation that suggests as much as nine millenia of occupancy.

And Stonehenge in Russia Archaeologists find 'Russian Stonehenge'

Russian archaeologists have found the site of a 4,000-year-old concentric wooden structure resembling Britain's Stonehenge, the Art Newspaper reported Friday.

Evidence of the structure was found near Ryazan southeast of Moscow at the confluence of the Oka and Pronya rivers.

The area long known for its archaeological treasures was settled by tribes migrating from Eurasia thousands of years ago.

Dig unearths part of Chinooks’ past

To look at them, you would never guess they were important enough to hold off the bulldozers on a $5.6 million project.

What the archaeologists are calling “planks” are really just a suggestion of planks – dark, parallel stripes in the earth, so fragile the barest nudge of a hand trowel turns them to dust.

But the discovery of the planks here on the banks of the Columbia River last weekend was enough to put on hold the realignment of a section of Highway 101 in Pacific County. And it was enough to halt the construction of a portion of the new Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, which was to have opened this summer for the Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebration.

Think we posted something to this same story last week.

Stockton Web Site Highlights Archaelogical Findings

A major redevelopment project has changed the face of downtown Stockton. And during construction, crews unearthed layers of the city's past.

An archaeological excavation was implemented, and it is now available on a Web site where children can learn about their hometown. Stockton's new Web site is called City Beneath Your Feet.

Archaeologists unearthed a treasure trove of artifacts. The artifacts may have been trash for early settlers, but they are now big prizes for the city.

On the Web site, children can see the discoveries in a fun way, at home or in the classroom.

Kind of a neat site they link to.

More later.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Weekly EEF news:

Press report (in German): "Imhoteps Statue"
A painted wooden statue assigned to Imhotep was found in the Cairo Museum.

Press report: "Digital Exploration: Unwrapping the Secrets of Damaged Manuscripts"
Brent Seales in the UK computer science department demonstrates his non-invasive scanning and software technology which may be the only way to retrieve information from currently inaccessible objects. The software is, e.g., able to "read" writing on two sides of a rolled up papyrus (that cannot be physically unwrapped). He is looking for objects to apply his system to. (#)

I had resisted forwarding this offtopic article URL on "magnetic therapy", but my curiosity won.... For this article claims as an
Aside that "Cleopatra wore a naturally magnetic lodestone on her forehead to slow down the ageing process", and that claim is often repeated on the Net. The question of course is: can someone
provide a Classical source for this claim?

Press report: "Painfully beautiful"
Travel report of a "cruise through the past", through Upper Nubia.

Press report: "[Replica of] Tutmosis III statue decorates European Parliament HQ":

Press report with a sum-up of recent Egyptological news, namely the subterranean water problems of the Esna Temple, the scanning of Tutankhamun, the moving of the statue of Ramses II, and the newly discovered Dahshur mummy:

[Submitted by Chris Bennett (]
Roger Bagnall's online CV webpage has links to PDFs of dozens of his papers [notably about Greek, Roman and Byzantine Egypt]:

[Submitted by Angiolo Menchetti (]
I would like to signal that the update of the page of the Archeological Mission of the University of Pisa at Medinet Madi and Khelua (2003-2004) is online at the following URL:

[Submitted by Chris Bennett (]
Website dedicated to Ptolemy, the famous scholar who worked in Alexandria in the 2nd c. AD:
The site is under construction, but a page with translations of some of Ptolemy's lesser works (i.e. other than the 'Geography' and 'Almagest') is present at:
With 'The Canobic Inscription', 'Phaseis', 'The Handy Tables', 'The Planetary Hypotheses', 'Analemma', and 'Planisphaerium'.

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner]
"Travellers in Egypt"
"Egypt has been a destination for travellers since time immemorial. Physical evidence of this is inscribed on the timeless stones of Giza and the Valley of the Kings. From as far back as 1200 BC, right through to the last
century, travellers wrote their names on the monuments in Egypt they reached after many adventures and difficulties. The graffiti they left marks their passage. These pages are dedicated to them, the most disparate of
travellers into the unknown."

End of EEF news

Just a couple of items. We'll have more, including the weekly EEF news this afternoon.

News from the Northwest I Dig unearths pieces of history

Ancient impressions of wooden planks, recently located near U.S. 101 west of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, could give archaeologists insight into the types of structures built along the Columbia River during the 1790s through the 1820s, an archaeologist on the project said Wednesday.

Known as the fur-trading period, it begins with Robert Gray's discovery of the Columbia in 1792 and ends with the establishment of Fort Vancouver in 1825, said Doug Wilson, National Parks Service archaeologist with the Vancouver National Historic Reserve.

"This is an important period of transition in Northwest history," he said. Historians know a great deal about what happened after 1825, but few artifacts remain from the fur-trading period, he said.

More here. Or basically the same here. Whatever.

Lewes artifacts may be from 2 sites

State archaeologists who studied artifacts found late last year on a Lewes beach now think a federal dredging crew may have struck two underwater historical sites on the bottom of Delaware Bay.

In the weeks following a $3.9 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project at Roosevelt Inlet, beachcombers found pieces of glass and pottery on the renourished beach.

The artifacts include green glass, a wide array of pottery and metal toys such as ship models and solders thought to date from 1720 to 1740.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

We obtained permission to post the following email sent to the EEF list. It highlights a "problem" we have examined several times on this blog, the extent to which dams and/or naturally rising water levels will actually "destroy" archaeological sites:

[In light of projected dams that risk inundating World Heritage sites
in the ANE, see ]

Regarding the construction of Dams and reservoirs in general:

First, it is my opinion that if the construction of a dam and reservoir is
important for the communities and country that it supports, then it should
not be blocked because archaeological sites will be inundated (unless, of
course, there are feasible alternatives).

Second, I would like to point out that we have very little idea what the
effect of submersion is on archaeological sites. I have pointed this out in
a conference paper given at the MIT Conference on Deep Water Archaeology in
2002. Yes, it is true that 'wetsites' and underwater terrestrial sites have
been excavated, but none of those sites have been explored BEFORE they were
inundated. Without a comparison of the before and after, it is unclear what
type of damage will occur to a site. In fact, if we take wetsites as an
example, there is a surprising level of preservation, particularly of
organic materials such as textiles and basketry. Given the right
conditions, the submersion of a site may be a blessing, protecting it from
looters and inexperienced archaeologists until such time as either the
reservoir is drained or when techniques and technologies of submerged
terrestrial site archaeology are perfected.

In my paper I suggested that before we operate on the assumption that
submersion is the destruction of a site, and perform destructive salvage
operations, a study of the effects of submersed terrestrial sites must be
done. And really, there is one very ideal location for this
study/experiment to take place: Lake Nasser, Egypt. Because of the
extensive work done in Nubia on the sites before submersion, one could
(theoretically) lead an expedition to examine these sites after 40+ years of
submersion in order to determine what effect the submersion has had on the
sites. I hypothesized based on a few smaller studies of wetsites that there
would be a surprising degree of preservation, particularly if silt had
covered the site within a few years of submersion.

To offer an example that is slightly different, but perhaps applicable, I am
currently excavating Predynastic and Early Dynastic material at Mendes in
the Egyptian Delta. It is clear for a number of reasons that the watertable
over the last 5000 years had fluctuated and at times had covered the
material that I am excavating. As of the beginning of our work in the
mid-1990's (and to this day), the watertable has been 3m lower than where we
are excavating. There is no indication that the high water table has had
any effect on the cultural remains that we are finding. That includes
mudbrick, cylinder seal impressions, animal bone, pottery, etc.

Until I pursue the suggestions that I have made regarding Lake Nasser or
someone else does, I can't help but wonder if salvage operations to 'save'
sites from submersion are the best approach. If the mosaics at Zeugma were
never salvaged (I don't mean left exposed, I mean had the earth removed from
them), would the water have destroyed them? If not, they would still be in
their archaeological context for further study... (I don't criticize the
excavators of the site; I mean it only as an example)

Matthew J. Adams
The Pennsylvania State University

This is an issue which requires some debate. Simply covering up a site with water doesn't necessarily entail its "destruction". In some ways and in some instances, it may actually preserve the site. We feel there needs to be some distinction between actual destruction of a site and it simply being inaccessible, the latter of which we think is not necessarily a bad thing given the unending (and demonstrable) destruction of sites we humans have been engaged in.
Just a couple of items so far today. We'll have the EEF news this afternoon.

Shroud of Turin update Turin shroud older than thought

Chemical analysis shows the cloth that formed the Shroud of Turin is up to 3000 years old (Image: NASA)
The Shroud of Turin, the piece of linen long-believed to have been wrapped around Jesus' body after the crucifixion, is much older than radiocarbon tests suggest, according to new microchemical research.

Published in the 20 January issue of Thermochimica Acta, a peer-reviewed chemistry journal, the study dismisses the results of the 1988 carbon-14 dating.

At that time, three reputable laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Arizona, concluded that the cloth on which the smudged outline of the body of a man is indelibly impressed was a medieval fake dating from 1260 to 1390, and not the burial cloth wrapped around the body of Christ.

We'll reserve judgement on this. We are immediately skeptical of work conducted by a group that is apparently directed towards proving the Shroud is "real" to begin with, which STURP apparently does. Note this passage from the website: ( The only reason I am still involved with the Shroud of Turin is because knowing the unbiased facts continues to convince me of its authenticity. And I believe only a handful of people have really ever had access to all the unbiased facts. Anyone using the term "unbiased fact" that many times is clearly not at all unbiased.

We'll wait to see reaction to this from other specialists, especially regarding the dates obtained that seem to make the dumb thing "between 1300 and 3000 years old". Seems pretty reliable, fer sure.

Another useful headline Ancient tablets, coins found in Greece

The Greek Culture Ministry says residential construction in the city of Trikala has brought to light the remains of an ancient sanctuary to god Hermes.

The ministry says terracotta tablets dedicated to the deity of commerce were discovered near two greenish sandstone walls.

Other findings include bronze coins, pieces of broken bowls, as well as figurine fragments dating from Hellenistic and Roman times.

The find is located in the site of the ancient town of Trikke, home to the ancient world's oldest and most renowned sanctuary.

Known to the Romans as Mercury and a member of the 12 god pantheon, Hermes was the messenger and herald of the gods, deity of science, eloquence and cunning, as well as patron of thieves and travellers.

That's the whole thing.

Archaeologists eagerly home in on Parker digs

Five thousand years ago, a band of ancient people built homes on the edge of a stream in what is now Parker.

It was not a temporary camp, like so many of the archaeological discoveries made from that period of time. People here made large houses, some of them 24 feet across, with wood posts and walls of brush or hide. They probably spent months in the area and may have returned, again and again, over centuries.

News from Vietnam Archaeologists find ancient musical instruments

Musical instruments thought to be about 3,000 years old have been found by a team of Vietnamese archeologists.

Known as lithophones, the ancient instruments are typically made of 11 slabs of stone.

The lithophones were found in the southern province of Binh Duong in early January at a site that stretches some 20ha near a small hill in My Loc village in Tan My Commune of Tan Uyen District.

The broken instruments were buried deep in an 8sq.m pit, said Dr Bui Chi Hoang, deputy director of the Archaeology Centre of the Southern Institute for Social and Human Sciences.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Note: Either our network connection or Blogger's end is being uppity today so it takes about 30 minutes of watching the browser grind away at a post, so we will probably not do any more updates today.

Unless something really REALLY cool happens.

UPDATE: Okay, we lied about not posting. All Web services seem to be functioning nominally. Here's a couple more items.

Biblical Archaeology update II Archeologist unearths biblical controversy

Canadian archeologist Russell Adams's interest is in Bronze Age and Iron Age copper production. He never intended to walk into archeology's vicious debate over the historical accuracy of the Old Testament -- a conflict likened by one historian to a pack of feral canines at each other's throats.

Yet by coincidence, Prof. Adams of Hamilton's McMaster University says, he and an international team of colleagues fit into place a significant piece of the puzzle of human history in the Middle East -- unearthing information that points to the existence of the Bible's vilified Kingdom of Edom at precisely the time the Bible says it existed, and contradicting widespread academic belief that it did not come into being until 200 years later.

Seems like a pretty good article, neatly putting everything in archaeological and political context.

Now there's an informative headline Scientists Find Ancient Remains in Mexico

Scientists on Tuesday announced the discovery of the remains of 10 people, one dating back to 1,300 B.C., providing evidence of prehispanic cultures in Mexico City's sprawling Chapultepec Park.

The scientists said at a news conference that they uncovered eight bodies last year near the park's Chapultepec Castle. Two other bodies were discovered in separate places, one in 2000 and the other a few weeks ago, in the park's forest. It was unclear how they died.

Archaeologist Guadalupe Espinosa said the discoveries were part of a project sponsored by the National Museum of History/Chapultepec Castle that has been investigating prehispanic cultures in the park.

That's the whole thing.

7,000-year-old Village found in Ningbo

The Ningbo Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology announced this month that, after a 4-month excavation of 725 square meters, they have confirmed the discovery of a 7,000-year-old village of the early Hemudu culture.

The site is at Fujiashan in the Jiangbei District of Ningbo City, in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

According to a specialist from the institute, the site is one of the largest-scale, highest-yield and best-preserved sites in the province after the Hemudu site itself.

The relics excavated showed it to be a Neolithic site in the early stage of Hemudu culture, which involved cultivation, fishing, hunting and gathering.

Antiquities Market update Antiquities smugglers behind bars

POLICE seized several illegally excavated ancients works of art and arrested five Greeks suspected of trafficking in antiquities, authorities said on January 17.

During an undercover operation in northern Greece, in which officers posed as buyers, police confiscated nine artifacts, including two small brass statues depicting the Greek gods Apollo and Aphrodite and a clay statue of Athena, the ancient goddess of wisdom, dating from the fourth century BC.

Short article, but hey, one win for the good guys.

Online journal alert Nigel Strudwick alerts us that a new issue of the British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan (BMSAES) is up. We'd like to promote this and urge everyone to have a look. Contact the BM and tell them if you like it. We rather prefer the idea of not publishing "issues" but simply putting up papers as they come in. We note that there was a fairly long hiatus between issues 3 and 4 (2 years).

Thus far, we haven't really seen Web publishing of scholarly (i.e., peer-reviewed) articles take off as we thought it would. We suspect it may be largely a cost issue since there still needs to be people paid to process articles, send them out for review etc., and a good system of vetting them through free (not in the monetary sense) access. There's a biomed online "journal" that seems to be working somewhat along these lines, but the name and URL escapes us at the moment.

Might also be that paper journals still hold pride of place among professionals. The Web, sadly, is still viewed as something of a free for all of dubious information, not to mention the fact that it can be difficult to cite a web site when the text can be changed with a few keystrokes and the URL can go up in smoke in a moment.

Show them the money! UTSA archaeology center awarded $2 million contract

The University of Texas at San Antonio Center for Archaeological Research received a $2 million contract by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The center will provide technical expertise and archaeological services statewide for road construction projects over the next two years.

UTSA's center employs 35 people and is one of only two nonprofit educational institutions in Texas that competes with private organizations for archaeological services associated with state road construction contracts.

Biblical Archaeology update Scholar stresses Galilee archaeology

A close study of the archaeological evidence of first century Galilee provides a historical context for the movements of Jesus, says an Irish theologian.

And it is time that New Testament scholars paid closer attention to the recent archaeological discoveries that provide that historical context for the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

"It is time to bring spade and text together," said Sean Freyne, the first of three internationally recognized experts to speak this week at Rocky Mountain College on the "Historical Jesus in the 21st Century."

Money quote: Freyne, professor emeritus of theology at Trinity College in Dublin, told a crowd of about 250 packed into Taylor Auditorium that archaeological evidence should tell its own story, not with a predetermined goal to prove.


Seeing Clacton man in a new light

STOOPED, violent, unable to utter more than a grunt and hell-bent on terrifying innocent bystanders with Stanley knife-type weapons.

This is the image that archaeologists have painted of the ape-like man that lived in the Clacton area 400,000 years ago.

But new research has caused historians and archaeologists to re-evaluate the culture that has been dubbed “Clactonian”.

Until recently it was thought that crude, sharp-bladed flint weapons found off Jaywick in 1911 were evidence of an isolated, unsophisticated type of prehistoric ape-like man.

Roman work in Faliron stream

Last week’s heavy rainfall in Athens has led to the discovery of a Roman marble statue which had been apparently dumped in a streambed in the southern suburbs, an archaeologist said yesterday.

The 1.8-meter tall marble torso of a young man was spotted on Thursday night in the Pikrodafni streambed, in Palaio Faliron — near the intersection of Dimocratias and Pikrodafnis Streets — by a passer-by who alerted authorities, said Yiorgos Steinhauer, head of the Culture Ministry’s local antiquities department.

The first-century-AD work is a Roman copy of a fourth-century-BC classical original and possibly represents Apollo Lykeios. Steinhauer said the statue could have been recently discovered by builders during construction work, and dumped in the streambed for fear archaeologists might stop the works if alerted to the find.

That's the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Couple craft research into humanity's roots

Using a needle several inches long, a hand surgeon slid wires into Nicholas Toth's and Kathy Schick's forearms and hands.

Then the two began chipping away, shaping simple stone tools the way that human ancestors did for millions of years. Signals began flowing along the wires in an experiment that helped to reveal which muscles are important in making tools.

Volunteering their bodies to figure that out is only one example of how far the husband-and-wife anthropologist team from Indiana University will go in their quest to understand the roots of humanity.

Hat tip to Andie at the Egyptology News Blog

More on toilet archaeology Archaeologists Lift Lids on New Zealand Toilets

Excited archaeologists are sifting through the contents of 150-year-old New Zealand toilets to get a better understanding of the everyday lives of early settlers.

Although there is plenty of oral and written history, there are gaps which can only be answered by lifting the lid on the sanitary habits of pioneering families, they say.

About 30 of New Zealand's leading archeologists arrived in Wellington Thursday to start a five-week project to collect and document information from historic sites along an inner-city bypass route.

Antiquities Market update New hope for NH artifacts

Hundreds of rare artifacts collected by the late archaeologist Howard Sargent have been saved — at least for now — from the auction block.

The objects include tools and arrowheads excavated by Sargent, considered the grandfather of New Hampshire archaeology, from American Indian sites in the Merrimack and Pemigewasset River valleys throughout his career.

This seems good Protected since 1889, Goodman Point Pueblo slated for initial mapping in April

A 142-acre high-desert parcel a dozen miles northwest of Cortez so impressed federal officials in 1889 that they set it aside and made it off-limits to homesteaders.

They gave this protection to the ancient Indian village more than 15 years before the great pueblos of Chaco Canyon and spectacular cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde were so protected.

More sites from Iran 65 Archeological Sites Found in Moghan Plain

65 archaeological site have been found during the recent identification works in Moghan Plain, in Ardabil, Northwest of Iran.

With the first phase of studies by a joint team of foreign and domestic experts reaching completion, some 65 archeological sites were discovered in Moghan Plain of Ardabil.

Moghan Plain, located in the northernmost part of Ardabil Province, is a fertile agricultural area, where previously 6 other archeological sites were found.

According to head of the archeology team, Karim Alizadeh, the studies were based on aerial and satellite pictures provided years ago by Jason Alik Ur from New York State University.

The geographical coordinates of the area have been provided and samples and pictures have been taken, Alizadeh told CHN, adding that their detailed study would certainly take a long time.

Most of the 65 historical sites discovered date back to the Sassanid and Islamic times, yet remains and physical evidence found in 8 of them make them as old as the prehistoric times.

Alizadeh says that what makes these archeological areas really surprising is their compression. The only area with similar number of historical sites congested in such small areas is the Khuzestan Plain, in south parts of Iran, which is dotted with sites dating from prehistoric to Islamic eras.

Odd formatting to that page so we've posted the whole thing.

Lost city. . . .found! Explorers find ancient city in remote Peru jungle

An ancient walled city complex inhabited some 1,300 years ago by a culture later conquered by the Incas has been discovered deep in Peru's Amazon jungle, explorers said on Tuesday.

US and Peruvian explorers uncovered the city, which may have been home to up to 10,000 people, after a month trekking in Peru's northern rain forest and following up on years of investigation about a possible lost metropolis in the region.

The stone city, made up of five citadels at 9,186 feet above sea level, stretches over around 39 square miles and contains walls covered in carvings and figure paintings, exploration leader Sean Savoy told Reuters.

Ramesses on the move World archaeologists help move Ramses Statue to meit Rahina

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) decided to seek help of world experts to move Ramses II Statue from the Ramses square, downtown Cairo, to a new location in Meit Rahina.

The expertise of the world experts will guarantee secure moving of the statue, said Zhai Hawas, the SCA Secretary General.

Meit Rehina is the village and area where the recumbent statue of R-II along with several other monuments in an open air museum area a few miles south of Cairo.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Fight! Fight! (update) Plagiarism Charge Flies Over Discovery

A Peruvian archaeologist is hurling allegations of plagiarism and intellectual plunder at American colleagues over a barren desert landscape where a mysterious culture built pyramids nearly 5,000 years ago.

Peru's government and some U.S. researchers have lined up firmly behind Ruth Shady, who has long researched the ruins of Caral, the oldest known city in the Americas. She contends that Americans Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer lifted conclusions from her work to advance their own broader study, published last month in the prestigious science journal Nature.

The article, based on radiocarbon dating of samples taken in three Peruvian valleys known collectively as the Norte Chico, attracted worldwide news coverage. The Chicago-area husband-and-wife team documented more than 20 major residential centers with platform mounds and pyramids along the Peruvian coast. The article showed that Caral was part of a complex society that flourished at the same time the pyramids of Egypt were being built.

We're not sure what to make of this. Certainly, some of the blame goes to the press which -- surprise, surprise -- seems to have gone bonkers in crediting Haas and Creamer with everything. Still, the fact that several professionals have commented negatively on their work seems to argue that perhaps H&C did not, perhaps, extend enough professional courtesy to their South American colleague when publishing the work.

Fight! Fight! This time to the death. . . The mysterious end of Essex man

Archaeologists now believe two groups of early humans fought for dominance in ancient Britain - and the axe-wielders won

Divisions in British culture may be deeper than we thought. Scientists have discovered startling evidence that suggests different species of early humans may have fought to settle within our shores almost half a million years ago.

They have found that two different groups - one wielding hand-axes, the other using Stone Age Stanley knives to slash and kill - could have been rivals for control of ancient Britain.

'The evidence is only tantalising, but it is intriguing,' said palaeontologist Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, London. 'Certainly it suggests Britain may well have been multicultural 400,000 years ago.'

Update on Alexandrian lecture halls Intellectual life in Roman Alexandria

The discovery of lecture halls at Kom Al-Dikka has generated popular interest, hasty conclusions and a number of revelations. Jill Kamil assesses the evidence

The Polish mission at Kom Al-Dikka in Alexandria has made several exciting finds over the years, but their latest discovery hard on the heels of the establishment of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina has set tongues buzzing.

Grzegorz Majcherek, director of the Polish-Egyptian mission which has been excavating at Kom Al-Dikka for the past 40 or more years, insists that overzealous journalists have rather too hastily linked this latest discovery in Alexandria to the ancient library.

"In fact, the newly-excavated complex of lecture halls brings us no closer to determining the actual position of the famous library of antiquity," he says.

This seems like a good idea
Farmers given ancient site advice

A new service has been launched to advise farmers and estate managers in North Yorkshire how to preserve important ancient sites on their land.

The county council has appointed Linda Smith to the new post of rural archaeologist.

She will advise on how land can be farmed without damaging historic landscape features.

This seems preferable to having a bunch of archaeologists blasting in after the fact and telling landowners what they shouldn't have done. The problem, of course, will be documenting where all the stuff is so they can let people know ahead of time.

Not that Angola Group digs for artifacts, memories of Angola

On a quiet, residential street, archaeologist Bill Burger goes about his task, digging holes in yards and methodically sifting through piles of dirt. He perks up when a round, black piece of glass emerges in his shaker box.

His hands, deft at sifting after decades of archaeology work, finger a sliver of black glass. It fits perfectly into the side of the broken chunk of glass he has just unearthed.

"That's about as exciting as we've seen so far," Burger said about his recent find.

Actually, a very interesting project from the looks of it.

Not aerial archaeology CAVE MAY REVEAL SECRETS OF PAST

Archaeologists are hoping investigation of a cave on the Isle of Skye will provide a snapshot of life 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.

Skye-based archaeologists Steven Birch, Martin Wildgoose and George Kozikowski began work on the site at Uamh an Ard Achadh - also known as High Pasture Cave - at Strath last year and have secured Highland Council and European Leader+ funding to continue their investigations this year.

Finds so far have included stone, iron, antler and bone tools; remnants of pottery; around 6,000 pieces of animal bone; a tooth from a brown bear and a wolf canine.

Classical treasures threatened by Vesuvius

An earthquake or volcanic eruption is likely to destroy a library of ancient books at Herculaneum, near Pompeii, before they can be excavated unless urgent action is taken, according to the founder of a new group based in Oxford.

Scientists have discovered new ways to read 1,800 charred manuscript scrolls already found in the ruins of the so-called Villa of Papyri at Herculaneum, a city that, like neighbouring Pompeii, was buried in volcanic matter when Vesuvius erupted in AD79.

Key quote: But strong opposition to immediate excavation came from Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, director of the British School at Rome and an acknowledged expert on Herculaneum.

"It would be a scandal to expose the Villa of the Papyri to the daylight now, before we can guarantee that it would be saved for the future," he said.

We tend to agree with this. Certainly there is the possibility that a new earthquake or eruption could distroy the existing (buried) remains, but our money is on 2,000 years of preservation up to this point. People have a far worse track record.

We'll be posting throughout the day since there seems to be a veritable stampede of archaeonews today.

More farting cattle, please Humans 'may have saved world from ice age'

HUMANS may have unwittingly saved themselves from a looming ice age by interfering with the Earth's climate, according to a new study.

The findings from a team of American climate experts suggest that were it not for greenhouse gases produced by humans, the world would be well on the way to a frozen Armageddon.

Scientists have traditionally viewed the relative stability of the Earth's climate since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago as being due to natural causes, but there is evidence that changes in solar radiation and greenhouse gas concentrations should have driven the Earth towards glacial conditions over the last few thousand years.

What stopped it has been the activity of humans, both ancient and modern, argue the scientists.

We think a more likely explanation is that most climate scientists' models are about as accurate and useful as most archaeologists' models.

Web site update
Thierry Benderitter has put up some new pages on his El Kab site:

The tomb of Paheri: . This publication is the most complete illustrated publication on this tomb since 1894, to my knowledge.
The tomb of Ahmes son of Ibana: You can find on the page the complete renowned autobiographical inscription.
The repository temple of Amenhotep III:

Semi-breaking news: Perfect mummy found in Egypt Two news reports here and here.
Pictures here (and text if you can read Japanese): EEF poster Kei Yamamoto explains:

Regarding the intact burial that the Waseda University team found in Dahshur
North, this article from a Japanese newspaper also provides the photograph
of the outer coffin. In addition, it identifies the tomb owner as an
administrative official named "Senu" and dates the tomb to "around 13th
Dynasty (ca. 3800 - 3600 years ago)". The archaeologists believe that this
late MK tomb escaped plundering because there was a NK tomb (dated "ca.
3300-3100 years ago") on top of it.

Archaeologists Show Off

Pot shards, glass bottles, animal bone and plant remains were only a few of the items on display at an open house sponsored by Santa Fe's Friends of Archaeology on Wednesday.

The open house at the Office of Archaeological Studies offices near the Plaza featured items excavated from projects around the Santa Fe area, including a recent dig at the Palace of the Governors.

The event was a rare occasion. The last open house occurred some 10 years ago, said Jim Oore, a project director for the Office of Archaeological Studies. The Friends group had suggested the event, and the Office of Archaeological Studies was happy to oblige.

"We enjoy talking about what we do," Oore said. "There are a lot of misconceptions about archaeology. I enjoy Indiana Jones movies as much as the next person. It's not like that -- anymore, anyway."

Except, you know, we all look strikingly like either Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.

Such a beautiful bunch we are.

CSI: Mexico City

Evidence May Back Human Sacrifice Claims

It has long been a matter of contention: Was the Aztec and Mayan practice of human sacrifice as widespread and horrifying as the history books say? Or did the Spanish conquerors overstate it to make the Indians look primitive? In recent years archaeologists have been uncovering mounting physical evidence that corroborates the Spanish accounts in substance, if not number.

Using high-tech forensic tools, archaeologists are proving that pre-Hispanic sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killing methods.

Kind of a gruesome article, but informative.

More on this from CNN and The Salt Lake Tribune.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

It's here! It's here!

Happy birthday to us
Happy birthday to us
Happy birthday dear ArchaeoBlog
Happy birthday to us

Hard to believe that this vast repository of knowledge has only been in existence for a single solar cycle (it's true, we checked it against various ancient texts and solar monuments). Even more amazing, the whole thing has not degenerated into serial postings of pictures and descriptions of cats, even while one of the little vermin is at this moment throwing various items off of the very desk at which this is being typed in a desperate bid for attention.

Forthwith, here is the introduction to our very first post:

Welcome to ArchaeoBlog, the source for news and views on the world
of archaeology. We here at ArchaeoBlog are dedicated to providing you, the
reader, with timely and entertaining links and commentary on all things
old and covered in dirt. Our crack team of researchers, analysts, writers,
photographers and copy editors travel the virtual world (and sometimes the
real one) to bring you the best that the Web has to offer. We employ
literally one person to do the massive amount of work necessary to inform
and amuse the Web readership.

The information here covers the range of archaeological inquiry, from gold
and silver to even more fascinating things such as sloth dung. Needless to
say. We try our darndest to make it all sound fascinating, but really,
there's only so much one can do with sloth dung (writing about it anyway,
in a manner that will not cause sudden bouts of intense narcolepsy).
Nevertheless, we will try to cover a wide range of topics, all more or
less suitable for family viewing.

Come to think of it, we're not sure sloth dung has ever come up, disregarding our specific mentions of it here. We will certainly try to rectify that in future, it being such a vital aspect of archaeological inquiry and all.

Now, besides the wide range of comestibles and alcoholic concoctions with which we plan to celebrate this auspicious occasion later on, we here at ArchaeoBlog do, in fact, have a certain sense of humor (usually rather morbid and/or decidely crude) especially where it involves some aspect of archaeology coupled with the suffering of professionals in the field -- especially when it's not one of us -- and thus we have decided to fulfill our mission laid out above and to bring to you, our esteemed readers, a bit of actual archaeological humor derived from the vast archives of documentary material maintained by ArchaeoBlog and in the process create one of the longest run-on sentences ever to bless a blog.

Everyone in The Business knows the hazards of fieldwork. From bad food, bad water, lack of minimal creature comforts, and various forms of parasitic organisms bent on wreaking havoc on our mortal GI tracts, most of us have experienced them at one time of other. Sometimes several. This is never so fully realized than in those parts of the world that have yet to taste the wonders of modern high-technology capitalist living. But then, that's usually where all the good stuff is, so we make do. Stories of suffering in lonely ignominy are usually told either seated around campfires or, more commonly, seated around small tables in the local bar and tend to only distribute themselves among the close-knit archaeological communities in which they occur. But now, thanks to the Internet, we may air our dirty, soiled laundry (see GI distress above) for all the world to see.

The following letter came into our possession during a bit of sorting through of some archival material pursuant to curating the collections of a recently retired colleague into the local museum. We aren’t usually in the habit of parsing through personal mail (unless it looks really juicy) but since this seemed to be directly associated both spatially and contextually with documentary material of some import, we decided to have a quick look. We were so impressed by the quality of the writing and how it so precisely conveyed the author’s immense distress throughout the ordeal, we just had to transcribe it and put it up here. We have changed all of the names in order to maintain some anonymity, though those directly involved will no doubt be immediately cognizant of the situation and the primary players involved. It needs no further introduction, but rest assured it is the genuine article and will no doubt go down in history as one of the great field stories of our time. Enjoy.

July 28, 1981

Dear Helen, Linda, Judy, Laura, Lisa’s Replacement, Prof. J.C. Adams – whom I hold personally responsible for exerting professional pressures such that I felt compelled to get grants that brought me back to this blazing lazaretto – and other members of the staff:

This will have to be brief, as every one of the twelve stitches in my abdomen vibrates with each key I strike; also, the only good bit of advice the quacks who masquerade as my medical advisors have given me is to drink lots of beer, so by this time of the day I tend to lose the top 30 or 40 points of my I.Q.

A full account of my recent adventures must await my return in January. I have reduced this account to only 3 or 4 speaking parts and I need only a few scenery changes to get across most of the drama. But as I know you all spend much of each day in earnest concern about my life and times, I’ll sketch a few recent details.

Dan Andrews woke me at 3:45 A.M., July 18th, as usual, so that we could start the generator, preparatory to another day’s work. Also as usual, after starting the generator I sought out a palm tree, which I had arbitrarily designated the Men’s Room, in order to return to Mother Egypt some of the liquids – the few liquids – left in my body after a night of sweating like a pig – to use my own neat metaphor. In the midst of these functions – familiar to you all in basic outline, if not in exact form – I experienced symptoms that my extensive medical knowledge, gained mainly from nurses and Marine Corps training films, led me inexorably to the conclusion that I had, overnight, developed second stage gonorrhea, or, alternatively, that my right kidney, ureter, and associated membra had caught fire.

I asked Mary Daley for some sort of urinary Drano, but she said that infections in this area were so rare in males that I should content myself with drinking lots of fluids. Our cook does nothing with solids or liquids that I can bear to describe, semi-nauseated as I still am, so I pumped in a lot of water and strode out to face the day. An argument had developed between Abdul Mohammed and our Egyptian (woman) inspector, such that I reluctantly had to stuff Abdul in the truck and head off on the 3 hour trip to Cairo, in order to straighten out the jurisdictional dispute. Abdul and I did the Nature of Cultural Process for about an hour on the road, when rather suddenly someone passed a white-hot coat hanger through my entire right urinary tract. Quickly reaffirming my belief in the Complete Calvinist canon, I lay on the steel bench in the back of the truck, told Abdul to try to find a Jewish doctor, and started exploring my body for my carotid artery – rumored to be near the throat – so that I could strangle myself to death if the pain returned. By the time we reached Cairo I had recovered to the extent that I did not want to die until I had one more dry martini. But a few minutes after arriving at the houseboat that serves as my principal residence in Cairo, the pain was returning to the point that I was exploring my Swiss Army knife for an edge sufficient for an abdomenectomy. Officials of **** got me into a taxi to go to the hospital, one of which was thought to be about 5 minutes away. There was a traffic jam, which I freely cursed at the time, but which probably saved my life, since when I got to the hospital the staff proved to know about as much about medicine as my cats. The basic idea here is that if you have pain below your waist, it’s probably a sprained ankle, but if it’s above your waist, or around your waist, it’s appendicitis. Drawing on an old Reader’s Digest article, I told the doctor that my lack of a fever and vomiting argued a kidney stone, but he just affected an Arabic accent and called for Sodium Pentothal. When I woke up I had no appendix, an absolute Christ-like gash in my side, and a real major-league pain in exactly the same place. Three opium-derivatives and a lot of hours later they began to think in terms of a kidney infection and began antibiotics – but only after Mary and Vicky had screamed at them. Finally, after 5 days in with those killers, Mary and Vicky unilaterally decided I was better off anywhere else and moved me to the apartment I’m now recuperating in. Subsequent medical exams show a large right kidney cyst, the infection of which was probably the cause of my problems. Jeanette Lynn Sager, my cherished co-director, and one of the great women of our generation, was offered my appendix for sale (c. 7 dollars) by the lab technician at the hospital. Absolute truth, I swear. She beat him down to about 1.40, but the clown never gave it to her.

So, I sit here in Cairo, ready to resume work in about a week. Vicky has been taking such good care of me that I’d probably have another appendix out, if I had one, just to stay here in air-conditioned comfort, but we have only 4 more months left to solve the once and for all the mysteries of Early Egyptian Agriculture.

Some news briefs: 1) the money from Susan arrived today – thank you, God Bless you, we’ll receipt this one down to the piaster; I can see them at accounting now: 1.40 for an appendix? 2) Did the galleys of my review for AM ANT ever arrive, Judy? And what about my cats? We loved your last letter and assume that by now Stan is bonding all over the place. 3) I received copies of the paper someone typed (which I have not finished) – thanks, I’ll see that appropriate presents are delivered – perhaps my appendix in a block of lucite; 4) Elizabeth Stock at AM ANTH wrote to me asking if I could review R. McC Adam’s book – if there are any letters about this please forward them, as I’m desperate to have the chance to do this and I have no confirmation that my letters to her have got through. 5) All is going well with the project; it’s going to be a 1-2 year thing to put it all together, but I think we’re doing extremely well, especially Fred Lyman, Dan Andrews, Mary Daley, and Janice. They have all been sick but disciplined and a pleasure to work with. Fred keeps tapping his field boots together three times and saying “Auntie Em, Auntie Em, I want to come home” but the man goes through the Bazaar like a devouring flame. 7) I received Dr. Adams’ letter concerning B. O’Donnell Johnson, and agree with his resolution of this.

I’ll try to write more frequently and individually in the future, but there has not been a whole lot of free time. But, as I said to Dan Andrews just before my kidney flamed out, “there ain’t nothing but good times ahead.”

Friday, January 21, 2005

Special note: If any of you dear readers out there has some source that lays out the exact dimensions of Stonehenge -- that is, the circumference, placements of the stones, and the sizes of each stone -- please email them to the BLog address. Preferably of the original monument.
At least we don't have this problem Professor's Saturn Experiment Forgotten

David Atkinson spent 18 years designing an experiment for the unmanned space mission to Saturn. Now some pieces of it are lost in space. Someone forgot to turn on the instrument Atkinson needed to measure the winds on Saturn's largest moon.

"The story is actually fairly gruesome," the University of Idaho scientist said in an e-mail from Germany, the headquarters of the European Space Agency. "It was human error — the command to turn the instrument on was forgotten."

Vikings in Iran? Danish Archaeologists in Search of Vikings in Iran

Researchers from the Copenhagen Museum in Denmark have traveled to the coasts of the Caspian Sea, northern Iran, in search of clues of relationships between Iranians and Vikings.

A few years ago, a researcher from the Copenhagen Museum, Nadia Haupt, discovered more than one thousand coins and relics that did not belong to the Danish or other Scandinavian cultures, and therefore set to find out more about the historical roots of the Danish civilization.

Well, why not Viking Iranians? After all there are Viking kittens.

No Incan Kittens though. Yet. Implications for the archaeology of warfare in the Andes

Using pre-Columbia Andean South American as a case study, Elizabeth Arkush and Charles Stanish of UCLA further the archaeological debate on the significance of warfare in societal development by re-examining current interpretations of the evidence of ritualized and defensive conflict in the ancient Andes.

Through their research, Arkush and Stanish propose that the incorrect interpretation of defensive architecture, ceremonial activity, and ritualized conflict has led previous scholars to discard warfare as an explanation or recast it as non-serious "ritual battle." In an article that appears in the February 2005 issue of Current Anthropology, Arkush and Stanish argue that this misinterpretation has lead to an overly peaceful vision of the Andean past.

Chinese Oregonians update Remains found in Chinese section of former cemetery

Archaeologists have found human remains, apparently of a young person, beneath a vacant county-owned parking lot in southeast Portland near what was the Chinese section of the Lone Fir Cemetery.

The team found evidence of more than one coffin and a marble grave marker with a person's last name etched in Chinese.

They covered the site and reburied the bones.

Think we blogged this a while back, but this seems to have a bit more info.

Oops. (Maybe) Park construction in Cahokia may have destroyed artifacts, critics say

A new mini-park on a triangular tract known as "the wedge" at the junction of Illinois routes 3 and 157 in Cahokia has drawn criticism from a preservationist who says priceless artifacts may have been destroyed.

"Studies have proved that the wedge is rich in prehistoric, historic Native American and French colonial antiquities, as well as artifacts from more recent times," said Cahokia history buff Cheryl Kutheis.

Cahokia Village Clerk Normal Jones and Trustee Virginia Edwards agree the site's historical value is priceless, but they insist nothing was harmed by constructing the memorial.

Treasure! A king's treasure?

THE biggest archaeological excavation in Hampshire in years is uncovering amazing finds in Winchester city centre.

The dig, believed to be the biggest currently in the country, has revealed important information about a 1,000-year period of history.

The archaeologists have uncovered a coin from the reign of King Canute between 1013-35. He was the king who tried to hold back the sea to admonish his servile courtiers, reputedly near Town Quay in Southampton.

It is not known whether any toilets were discovered or whether the archaeologists on hand were excited about them.

Hooray! Falcons Fly to the Rescue of Ancient Herculaneum

After being buried in boiling mud when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the ruined ancient city of Herculaneum is now being deluged with acidic pigeon droppings.

The situation has got so bad that archaeologists have called in three falcons to scare away the hundreds of pigeons that have set up home in the once-vibrant Roman town.

The birds will start work in Herculaneum next Monday and are expected to stay for at least a year.

Roman-Era Britons Lived In Suburbia

A spa treatment followed by a trip to the suburbs for a bit of shopping and dining sounds like a day in the life of a wealthy suburbanite, but it also could describe someone's schedule from around the 1st century A.D., as archaeologists in Bath, England have identified an ancient suburb located outside of Bath's main city center.

Since suburbs dating to the Roman period also have been found around other major cities, such as London, the finding adds to the evidence that suburban living is not a modern phenomenon.

And they all drove these really BIG chariots that drove the eco-Romans crazy.

Greek archaeologists prepare diorama of Alexander battle scene

Panayiotis Valmas, the head restorer at the Museum of Thebes, paints a tiny Macedonian toy soldier for the display

But really:
Shrine to Hercules unearthed

Rummaging in the dirt, Costas Kakoseos pulls up pieces of history steeped in legend.

It is an archaeological site dubbed “Hercules’ House” — the place, experts say, that the ancient Greeks may have held to be the mythological hero’s birthplace.

Thebes, an unattractive town about 70 kilometers (about 45 miles) north of Athens, stands on a spectacular buried heritage. The latest excavation, begun last February, revealed the remains of an altar and ancient dwellings used for more than 3,000 years.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Weekly news from the EEF

Press report: "Intellectual life in Roman Alexandria"
"Grzegorz Majcherek, director of the Polish-Egyptian mission which has been excavating at Kom Al-Dikka for the past 40 or more years, insists that overzealous journalists have rather too hastily linked this latest
discovery in Alexandria to the ancient library. "In fact, the newly-excavated complex of lecture halls brings us no closer to determining the actual position of the famous library of antiquity," he says." The halls are of late Roman (fifth to seventh century) date.

Press report: "Jordan foils smuggling of Egypt antiques"
"Jordanian customs agents have foiled an attempt to smuggle out of Egypt 24 copper statues dating back to the times of the pharaohs." No other details.

[Submitted by Troy Sagrillo (]
Press report: "Monument Price Changes"
"The Egyptian government has raised entrance ticket prices across the board. The increases range from 40% to 175%, with the average increase being around 75%.

Some follow-ups to the scanning of Tutankhamun in last issue:
-- Description of the events, with some detail:
Press report "Pharaonic forensics":
1,700 images were taken. "Radiologist Hani Abdel-Rahman, who supervised the scan, said that the skull showed no signs of having been hit with a heavy object, a thesis first proposed following the study of x- rays at Liverpool University in 1968." Also other mummies in the VoK will be scanned.

-- Meanwhile yet more voices inside Egypt express misgivings about the scanning of Tutankhamun:
Press report "Row over mummy examination"
Some of the concerns raised were "The team that went to Luxor to examine Tutankhamon didn't contain a single [CT scan] specialist" and "There should have first been a study of the effects of these
rays on the mummies."
Other (and longer) press report on this topic:
"Mummy scan furore"
With opinions like "What has been done by the Luxor Night Campaign [the scientific mission] is another zero to add to the group of zeros we have obtained already" and " Safety precautions regarding unexpected natural phenomena [that could affect the mummy] were not taken into consideration". As an aside, the matter of DNA came up again: "Mohamed Saleh, former director of the Egyptian Museum, said that when he was in office in the 1990s samples from 10 royal mummies at the Egyptian Museum were taken by foreign missions for DNA analysis, but until now no results
had been submitted."

* The Myth of the Divine Birth:

a) Deir el-Bahari version (Hatshepsut) [D] date: 18th dyn.
-- Hieroglyphic text: Urk. IV, 216-234 - pdf-file: 0.9 MB
-- English translation in: James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. II, Chicago, 1906, sections 187-212
-- Drawings [= Édouard Naville, The temple of Deir el Bahari, Part II; London, 1896, pls. XLVI-LV] and English description

* A Digitized book (in HTML) of The Baldwin Project,
"Bringing Yesterday's Classics to Today's Children":
Jacob Abbott, Cleopatra (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1902)

[Next two items submitted by by Michael Tilgner]

Digitized book from the Library of the University of Heidelberg:
-- William M. Flinders Petrie, A Season in Egypt 1887, Field & Tuer, London, 1888. 42 pp., 32 pls.

Online Master's thesis: Alexander Czmiel, Adäquate Markupsysteme für die digitale Behandlung altägyptischer Texte, Magisterarbeit im Fach Informationsverarbeitung, Universität zu Köln, 2003. 90 pp. - pdf-file: 1.4
"Im theoretischen Teil der vorliegenden Arbeit wird versucht, bereits existierende Möglichkeiten und Techniken zur Behandlung des Problems der Überlappungen zusammenzutragen und zu beschreiben, sowie zu evaluieren,
welche davon am besten geeignet scheinen, um auf das Problem nicht-hierarchischer überlappender Strukturen, hier: beim Kommentieren demotischer Texte, angewandt zu werden. Der zweite Aspekt der vorliegenden Arbeit bezieht sich auf den Entwurf eines Softwaresystems, welches ein voll funktionsfähiges Plattform zur Verwaltung demotischer Textträger im Zusammenhang mit einer XML-Datenbank bietet."
Software for this work
(login: gast/gast)
(login: guest/guest)

[Submitted by Albert Prince" (]
In view of all the attention on the scanning of Tutankhamun's mummy, the following two recent papers may be of interest. Only the abstracts are available online for free:
-- Eve Judith Lowenstein, "Paleodermatoses: lessons learned from mummies", in: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol 50, issue 6 (June 2004), pp. 919-936.
"This article provides an introduction and overview to paleodermatology, the branch of dermatology concerned with the evaluation of diseases associated with the integument by examination of ancient human remains....
The multidisciplinary approach used to study skin diseases found in mummies is briefly described. "
-- R. Van Tiggelen, "Ancient Egypt and radiology, a future for the past!", in: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B, issue 226 (November 2004), pp. 10-14.
"Radiological examinations of mummies are used to detect frauds, to appreciate sex and age, and possible cause of death. As non-destructive tool it can reveal the nature of materials, presence of jewellery and amulets. The paper gives a brief history of major milestones in Belgium and abroad."

[Submitted by Birgit Schoer (]
C. Haigh, "Estimating Osteological Health in Ancient Egyptian Bone via Applications of Modern Radiological Technology", in: Assemblage, University of Sheffield Graduate Students Journal of Archaeology, issue 5 (April 2000). In HTML.
"This paper offers a process evaluation of the use of dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in the study of ancient human remains. The study was undertaken to assess the potential use of the DXA technique as a
non-invasive and non-destructive method of assessing bone health in an ancient population: poor diet, for example, could reasonably be expected to affect bone density."

Grutz, Jane Waldron: "The Lost Portfolios of Robert Hay," in: Saudi Aramco World, March/April 2003 (vol. 54.2), pp. 2-11, is available online in HTML [cp. EEFNEWS (251), paper version]:
"The Hay expedition's renderings of Theban tomb decorations are among the most delightful - and accurate - anywhere. Hay's own panoramic views provide reliable documentation of the small villages that bordered the Nile
almost 200 years ago."

Online BMCR review of William A. Johnson, 'Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus', University of Toronto Press, 2004.
Study of the ancient Greek book in roll form, by presenting evidence from 317 papyrus rolls of known literature found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.

[Submitted by Margarita Conde (]
The Spanish Mission at Dra Abu el Naga has started work in TT1 and TT12. We have a diary (in Spanish)
on our web site to follow the work:

The Belgian Mission to Deir al-Barsha has put online infomation about its seasons 2002-2004:

[Submitted by Sharon Avery Rychel (]
Dr Zahi Hawasss has moved and redesigned his website:

[Submitted by Michael Tilgner]
"Tsentr egiptologicheskikh issledovanij" [Centre for egyptological studies] by the Russian Academy of Sciences
"The Centre for Egyptological Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences has been created in November of 1999 by the decree of the Presidium of the RAS.
The Centre originated from the Department of Egyptology that existed within the Institute of Oriental Studies of the RAS since 1992. ... The Center concentrates its efforts on fundamental scientific studies and applied
research in the field of Egyptology."

End of EEF news
Buncha stuff today, possibly more later, too.

More on Robson Bonnichsen

Robson Bonnichsen was destined to be an archaeologist. At seven years old, he boasted one of the largest arrowhead collections in his hometown of Filer, Idaho, and in his high school annual, his friends predicted that he would one day become a famous archaeologist.

When Bonnichsen died in his sleep on Dec. 25, he was serving as the director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M and was world renowned for his research after spending 44 years in the field of archaeology.

"When Rob got into that business when he was a kid, archaeology was a disorganized neo science," said Bill Bonnichsen, Robson's brother. "Rob's work had a lot to do with making archaeology a much more rigorous and well respected science."

Oh, great headline guys. . . .Archaeologists excited over old toilets

Excited archaeologists are sifting through the contents of 150-year-old New Zealand toilets to get a better understanding of the everyday lives of early settlers.

Although there is plenty of oral and written history, there are gaps which can only be answered by lifting the lid on the sanitary habits of pioneering families, they say.

About 30 of New Zealand's leading archaeologists arrived in Wellington on Thursday to start a five-week project to collect and document information from historic sites along an inner-city bypass route.

Must. . . not. . . .make poop jokes. . . . .

Iron Age artefacts found in dig

Wooden and stone artefacts dating back up to 3,000 years found at a flood prevention site in Lincs have been described as "absolutely amazing".

Archaeologists at the site near Lincoln have unearthed an extremely rare wooden bowl and a stone tablet.

About 20 people have been digging at the site since November and have uncovered more than 10,000 items.

Prehistoric huts found at Rueter-Hess site

A team of archaeologists looking for historical artifacts at the Rueter-Hess Reservoir construction site has found traces of huts used by nomadic tribes up to 5,000 years ago.
Centennial Archaeology Inc., an archaeological surveyor out of Fort Collins last month found "shallow, basin-type structures" five feet below the ground's surface, said Chris Zier, owner of the company.
The "saucer-shaped depressions," which are roughly 3 to 3.5 meters in diameter, were dug by tribes and covered by a crude brush structure made of sticks and other natural materials, he said.

Ancient burial boat unearthed

A joint Australian-Vietnamese archaeological team has unearthed a well-preserved burial boat belonging to the Dong Son culture that resided in the Red River region around 100BC.

The boat was discovered at Dong Xa Village in Kim Dong District in the northern province of Hung Yen during the team’s recent excavations investigating Dong Son textiles at waterlogged sites.

Members of the team regard it as an important find and, according to Professor Peter Bellwood of Australian National University, it may be the oldest existing log canoe in southeast Asia.

Archaeologists discover 6000-year-old rocky habitation in Jiroft region

Iranian archaeologists recently discovered a 6000-year-old rocky habitation with more than 800 cells in the Barez Mountains, east of the Halil-Rud River in southern Kerman Province, the director of the archaeological team working in the Halil-Rud River area said on Wednesday.

“The rocky village is located at a height of 250 meters with two and four square meter cells. The habitation is Iran’s most ancient rock residence ever discovered,” Davud Abyan added.

The Jiroft region was one of the first places where civilization and urbanization were established.

The return of. . .Gladiator

Gladiators- more showbusiness than slaughter

HEROIC fights to the death between enslaved gladiators never happened, according to a controversial new theory.

The research, which disputes images of ancient combat such as those seen in the Russell Crowe epic Gladiator, suggests that the fighters of yore would have far more in common with the overblown histrionics of modern-day premier league footballers or WWE wrestlers: highly trained, overpaid and pampered professionals with throngs of groupies - and an interest in not getting too badly injured.

Research into medieval and renaissance combat manuals has led one classical scholar to suggest that gladiatorial fighting had become more of a martial art at the beginning of the first millennium, a report in New Scientist reveals.

We've heard this before, that the traditional thumbs up/thumbs down shtick seen in movies was only occasionally done.

Neat news Anthropologists find 4.5 million-year-old hominid fossils in Ethiopia

Scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and seven other institutions have unearthed skeletal fossils of a human ancestor believed to have lived about 4.5 million years ago. The fossils, described in this week's Nature (Jan. 20), will help scientists piece together the mysterious transformation of primitive chimp-like hominids into more human forms.

The fossils were retrieved from the Gona Study Area in northern Ethiopia, only one of two sites to yield fossil remains of Ardipithecus ramidus.

"A few windows are now opening in Africa to glance into the fossil evidence on the earliest hominids," said IUB paleoanthropologist Sileshi Semaw, who led the research.

For those with subscriber access, the paper is here. Abstract:

Comparative biomolecular studies suggest that the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, lived during the Late Miocene–Early Pliocene1, 2. Fossil evidence of Late Miocene–Early Pliocene hominid evolution is rare and limited to a few sites in Ethiopia3-5, Kenya6 and Chad7. Here we report new Early Pliocene hominid discoveries and their palaeoenvironmental context from the fossiliferous deposits of As Duma, Gona Western Margin (GWM), Afar, Ethiopia. The hominid dental anatomy (occlusal enamel thickness, absolute and relative size of the first and second lower molar crowns, and premolar crown and radicular anatomy) indicates attribution to Ardipithecus ramidus. The combined radioisotopic and palaeomagnetic data suggest an age of between 4.51 and 4.32 million years for the hominid finds at As Duma. Diverse sources of data (sedimentology, faunal composition, ecomorphological variables and stable carbon isotopic evidence from the palaeosols and fossil tooth enamel) indicate that the Early Pliocene As Duma sediments sample a moderate rainfall woodland and woodland/grassland.

Wine at the farm

Five wine presses surrounded the farmhouse, built in the third century BCE, on land between what today is Moshav Gan Sorek and the Tel Aviv-Ashdod highway.
The house had a few wings and an area of about 1,230 square meters (13,200 square feet). The quantities of wine produced in the five presses was more than required by those who lived there, meaning that the farm residents earned their livelihood from producing wine in commercial quantities. The wine apparently was produced for export and was shipped to Mediterranean countries via the nearby port at Yavne Yam (today Kibbutz Palmahim).

Okay, we're going to post this before Mr. Computer decides to crash again. . . . .

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Just a couple of items today. Our exciting special post will be unfortunately delayed. Well, we're having kind of a crappy day so this is probably it for now.

Website offers virtual tour of latest SFU archaeology theories

SFU's museum of archaeology and ethnology is taking the archaeology out of its gallery exhibits and onto the web.

A new virtual exhibition, entitled A Journey To A New Land, presents current theories about the peopling of the New World and archaeological research in a readable, interactive format for a wide range of viewers, from primary age children to university students and armchair surfers.

Link to the museum site is here.

It's not only Microsoft Ancient Egyptians Sold Fake Cats

Ancient Egyptian mummy wrappings hide a number of frauds and flaws, which a high-tech, digital X-ray machine recently exposed among the collections at Chicago's Field Museum.

The machine saw through a mummified cat dated to approximately 500 B.C. that contained only twigs and cotton. It also revealed mummification tools that someone accidentally left inside a real mummy, and it solved a 15,000-year-old mystery surrounding what is believed to be the world's oldest known mummy.

This sort of bait-and-switch is fairly common in Egypt. Bob Brier goes into this in his book "Egyptian Mummies" and mentions a passage from J.D. Ray (The Archive of Hor) wherein Hor tried to regulate the selling of ibis mummies as offerings since many of the supposed mummies were simply bones wrapped up to look like the real animal. This article looks at some other possible mummy studies too, from outside of Egypt.

Hmmmmmm. . . . New Chemical Testing Points to Ancient Origin for Burial Shroud of Jesus; Los Alamos Scientist Proves 1988 Carbon-14 Dating of the Shroud of Turin Used Invalid Rewoven Sample

Hmmmmmm. . . . New Chemical Testing Points to Ancient Origin for Burial Shroud of Jesus; Los Alamos Scientist Proves 1988 Carbon-14 Dating of the Shroud of Turin Used Invalid Rewoven Sample

The American Shroud of Turin Association for Research (AMSTAR), a scientific organization dedicated to research on the enigmatic Shroud of Turin, thought by many to be the burial cloth of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, announced today that the 1988 Carbon-14 test was not done on the original burial cloth, but rather on a rewoven shroud patch creating an erroneous date for the actual age of the Shroud.

We'll wait for other reactions. There are so many other problems with this thing it's not exactly fatal to the shroud-as-fake hypothesis.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

We spent most of the day toiling through boxes of documents in the museum again today, so we only have a few items to report; more news tomorrow plus a special post.

TV alert The History Channel has a new series called Digging for the Truth. Haven't seen anything else about it, so we can't report on the quality. But really, do we need yet another program on Who Built the Freakin' Pyramids???

Pristine Utah sites update Utah site reveals a new past

About 1,000 years ago in eastern Utah, someone stashed a quiver of arrows under a rock ledge. He - for the owner was almost certainly a man - had crafted them carefully from reeds, twigs and stone, held together with sinew. One was striped with black paint.

The man, a member of the Fremont culture, never came back - archaeologists found the quiver under a partly collapsed ledge last summer. Now, researchers are trying to figure out why he and the Fremonts disappeared.

Pretty good article on the sites and the disappearance of the Fremonts. Let's hope they spend and AWFUL lot of time surveying before they start digging stuff up. Maybe this would be a good place to leave be for future generations.

Key to boost tourism 'lies in the past'

MSPs are being urged to intervene to help unlock the tourism potential of one of Scotland’s most ancient historic areas.

Cramond has been shown by archaeologists to have been the site of human settlements as far back as 8500BC, through Roman times and up to the present.

And the future of the area was the subject of one of the earliest petitions to be considered by the Scottish Parliament.

Veteran campaigner Ronnie Guild succeeded in getting MSPs to launch an investigation when he made his plea five years ago.

Congratulations! CUC instructor unearths archaeology award

It’s about time--six thousand years, in fact.
Larry Herr, professor of religious studies at Canadian University College (CUC) in Lacombe, recently won the G. Ernest Wright Award during an American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) reception in San Antonio, Tex.
The archaeology award recognizes Herr’s work as author and editor of the fifth volume chronicling the Madaba Plains project, an ongoing excavation in the Middle East.
Madaba Plains, an area south of Jordan’s capital city of Amman, was Ammonite territory during ancient Biblical times--between 3000 and 400 BC. The Ammonites were often at war, but were sometimes allies with the Israelites. Madaba Plains was located along a key communications and commercial corridor

Chaos in Kashmir! Lost treasure

The research library of the department of Archives and Archaeology is in shambles. Thanks to the indifference of the officials, the library with thousands of rare books and manuscripts has turned into a heap of rags. While the books lie buried here and there under heaps of dust, the cupboards house the cups, saucers and spoons used to make and serve tea to the staff.

It's an editorial.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Online journal alert Came across this site while researching something or other earlier today: ARKAMANI: Sudan Journal of Archaeology and Anthropology

At least one of the links to the papers doesn't work and at first glance it seems not to contain anything particularly recent, but the papers and links should be of some interest.
English petroglyphs update New prehistoric rock carvings discovered in Northern England

More than 250 new examples of England's finest array of prehistoric rock art carvings, sited close to the Scottish border, have been discovered by archaeologists compiling a unique database. Now over one thousand of the 'cup and ring' carvings can be admired on a new website, which carries 6,000 images and is said to be the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.

The site includes the 250 panels unearthed during a two-and-a-half year trawl of some of England's remotest countryside, in the expansive moorlands of Northumberland.

With a picture!

More here.

Tse-whit-zen update Tse-whit-zen existed before Christ walked the Earth

Tse-whit-zen is 1,000 years older than scientists originally thought.

The Native American village may be as old as 2,700 years, Frances Charles, chairwoman of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, said Saturday at a healing ceremony at the site.

Charles said archaeologists had based their new findings on the results of radiocarbon dating, also known as carbon 14 dating.

Carbon 14 is a radioactive isotope found in organic materials that decays at a measurable rate.

Scientists tested animal bones and fire pits to reach the 2,700-year figure.

Tse-whit-zen (pronounced cha-wheet-zen) already has been called the largest Native American archaeological site in Washington and one of the most significant in the nation by scientists.

During archaeological excavation that began in August 2003 and lasted last month, archaeologists uncovered burials, the remains of longhouses and more than 13,000 artifacts that included brooches, fish hooks and combs.

That's the whole thing. Notmuch info except for the date.

Antiquities Market update Pre-Incan artefact among 28,000 artworks recovered in Italy

Italy is to formally hand over to Peru next week a millennium-old artefact recovered by specialist art police here after it had been stolen in southern Peru, officials said.

A photograph of the copper and gold funerary mask dating from the pre-Inca Sican period was exhibited along with around 100 other artworks recovered by specialized culture ministry police in Rome.

They included paintings by 14th-century Italian artist Pinturecchio and French realist painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot as well as a bust of Roman emperor Trajan (98-117 AD).

In all, police said some 28,000 pieces, including complete artefacts and artworks but also fragments like pottery shards and coins, were recovered in 2004.

U.S.-Led Forces Damaged Ancient Babylon-Report

U.S.-led forces, using Iraq (news - web sites)'s ancient city of Babylon as a military base, have caused "substantial damage" to one of the world's most renowned archaeological treasures, a British Museum report said.

The report, quoted in Saturday's Guardian newspaper, said U.S. and Polish military vehicles had crushed 2,600-year-old pavements in the city, a cradle of civilization and home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Archaeological fragments were used to fill sand bags, it added.

Excavation in Barabati fort complex to begin soon

Excavation of the earthen mound in the 13th century Barabati fort complex here will commence soon even as the district administration was initiating action to remove encroachments around it, official sources said today.

The eviction will begin in a phased manner and the Public Works Department had been directed to demolish ten buildings constructed within the fort premises, District Collector Deo Ranjan Kumar Singh said.

Other buildings constructed illegally within the complex would be demolished subsequently, he said.

Utah site update Site yields ancient bones

A southern Utah woman's property has turned out to be a graveyard for some ancient remains.
An excavation crew digging the basement for a home Jamie Church is building in Parowan unearthed what is believed to be the 1,000-year-old remains of a Fremont Indian family, a man, woman and two children.
''It was kind of creepy, but I'm trying not to think that way,'' Church said.

Same stuff mostly we posted a couple days ago. It's a flaky site (Web site, that is), so don't bother clicking if you've already seen the other one.

More stuff at a construction site Corpus Christi road part of ancient burial site

Construction on an area road has been delayed partly because of its location on an ancient American Indian burial site, state transportation officials said.

"There was the potential for Indian artifacts all through this," Texas Department of Transportation district engineer Craig E. Clark said Thursday while speaking to the Rotary Club of Corpus Christi.

The transportation department knew about the burial grounds before construction began in June 2000, but it didn't become public until Thursday.

Way cool Aussies find bronze age canoe

AUSTRALIAN archaeologists have unearthed one of the oldest log canoes ever found in South-East Asia.

A team from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra and conservators from the National Museum of Australia excavated a 2.5m section of the boat last month at Dong Xa, about 50 kilometres southeast of the capital Hanoi.

The boat was used for burial and contained the body of an adult.

It would have been about 10m long and was believed to have been used in the Red River delta area around 100BC by a people known as the Dongson, ANU's Peter Bellwood said.

We initially read that as a "bronze canoe" which would be cool, too.

Different take on the ancient Indian tsunami ndian town sees evidence of ancient tsunami

For generations, the people of Poompuhar have spoken of the days when their sleepy fishing town was the capital of a powerful kingdom, and traders came from Rome, Greece and Egypt to deal in pearls and silk.

Then, more than 1,500 years ago, it was gone. The thriving town, according to ancient Tamil-language texts, was "kodalkol" -- "swallowed by the sea."

Perhaps, archaeologists and historians thought, the sea water had gradually risen. Or, some think now, perhaps it was something else.

EEF news

"Antiquities appear in Aswan":

On Elephantine Island, buildings from dyn 26 were found. Further, restoration projects for the temples of Aswan and
other sites are being planned:

Three spin-off's to the CT-scanning of Tutankhamun (see below):
-- Not everybody was charmed by the plans to move&prod the boy-king's mummy:
" Drop the Mummy, and Nobody Gets Hurt"

Mark R Nelson, "The mummy's curse: historical cohort study",
in: BMJ vol. 325 (2002), pp. 1482-1484; in PDF (330kB):
[Eds. Subscription only. Abstract follows:]

Objective: To examine survival of individuals exposed to the "mummy's curse" reputedly associated with the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamen in Luxor, Egypt, between February 1923 and November 1926.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Participants: 44 Westerners identified by Howard Carter as present in Egypt at the specified dates, 25 of whom were potentially exposed to the curse.
Main outcome measures: Length of survival after date of potential exposure.
Results: In the 25 people exposed to the curse the mean age at death was 70 years (SD 12) compared with 75 (13) in those not exposed (P=0.87 for difference). Survival after the date of exposure was 20.8 (15.2) v 28.9 (13.6) years respectively (P=0.95 for difference). Female sex was a predictor for survival (P=0.02).
Conclusions: There was no significant association between exposure to the mummy's curse and survival and thus no evidence to support the existence of a mummy's curse.

We seem to recall Don Ryan doing a similar study some time ago and reaching basically the same conclusion: that the openers of Tut's tomb had a longer life expectancy than the public at large.

-- After Tutankhamun, more mummies will be scanned - the Egyptian Mummy Project (cooperation between SCA, Siemens and National Geographic):

[Eds. Remaining stuff posted as-is with no direct linking. We're having severe computer problems.]

* Krings M, Salem AH, Bauer K, Geisert H, Malek AK, Chaix L, Simon C,
Welsby D, Di Rienzo A, Utermann G, Sajantila A, Pääbo S, Stoneking M:
"mtDNA analysis of Nile River Valley populations: A genetic corridor or a
barrier to migration?", in: Am. J. Hum. Genet. 1999, 64:1166-1176; in
PDF (326 kB):
Theorizes about human migrations in the Valley by looking at mtDNA
differentiation. The greater similarity between Nubia and Egypt
(rather than Sudan) could be a reflection of the known historical
interactions between both areas during the Pharaonic period.

* Nicole Maca-Meyer, Ana M González, José Pestano, Carlos Flores,
José M Larruga1 and Vicente M Cabrera, "Mitochondrial DNA transit
between West Asia and North Africa inferred from U6 phylogeography",
in: BMC Genetics, Vol. 4 (2003); in PDF (392 kB):
Based on the distribution of Mitochondrial DNA, the authors theorize
about population movements in N. Africa, namely of proto-Afroasiatic
speakers, proto-Berbers, and proto-Gaunches.
[An earlier research of the authors gives the larger background to the
study: id, "Major genomic mitochondrial lineages delineate early human
expansion", in BMCR Genetics, Vol. 2 (2001), in PDF (528 kB)
The following letters in Science, vol. 306, Dec. 2004, p.1680, highlight
some of the controversies about the homeland of Afroasiatic (in PDF,
206 kB): ]

End of EEF news