Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pipeline Project Makes Unintentional Historic Find
It's being called one of the biggest infrastructure improvements for the nation in 25 years but as the 1,700 mile Rocky Mountain Natural Gas pipeline winds into the Tri-State, it's making history in a way no one expected. Archaeologists said that what excavators found near Brookville, Ind., is so significant that it could help rewrite history books.

The workers uncovered what seems to be evidence of an unknown previous settlement that dates back thousands of years.

Some of the evidence that have been uncovered so far dated back 600, 1,000 and even 5,000 years old, archaeologists said.
Dead Sea Scrolls go from parchment to the Internet
More than 2,000 years after they were written, the Dead Sea Scrolls are going digital as part of an effort to better preserve the ancient texts and let more people see them than ever before.

The high-tech initiative, announced Wednesday, will also reveal text that was not visible to the naked eye.

Over the next two years, the Israel Antiquities Authority will digitally photograph and scan every bit of crumbling parchment and papyrus that makes up the scrolls, which include the oldest written record of the Bible's Old Testament.

The images eventually will be posted on the Internet for anyone to see.
Prelimary report on Acadian village of Petite-Rochelle is released
People have been able to learn more about the excavations and the history of the long-gone Acadian village of Petite-Rochelle during talks which took place last week.

La Societe Historique Machault held three three separate events between Aug. 14 to 16 on the history of Petite-Rochelle and what has been learned from the archealogical digs that were conducted on the site where the village is believed to have stood.

During the first two meetings, the rooms were full, and the third was able to attract some thirty people at the Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site. Michel Goudreau, vice president of the Society explained that the public has expressed great interest in this story.
'Pristine' Amazonian region hosted large, urban civilization, study finds
They aren't the lost cities early explorers sought fruitlessly to discover.

But ancient settlements in the Amazon, now almost entirely obscured by tropical forest, were once large and complex enough to be considered "urban" as the term is commonly applied to both medieval European and ancient Greek communities.

So says a paper set to appear Friday in Science co-authored by anthropologists from the University of Florida and Brazil, and a member of the Kuikuro, an indigenous Amazonian people who are the descendants of the settlements' original inhabitants.

"If we look at your average medieval town or your average Greek polis, most are about the scale of those we find in this part of the Amazon," said Mike Heckenberger, a UF professor of anthropology and the lead author of the paper. "Only the ones we find are much more complicated in terms of their planning."

The paper also argues that the size and scale of the settlements in the southern Amazon in North Central Brazil means that what many scientists have considered virgin tropical forests are in fact heavily influenced by historic human activity.

There's a LOT in that little article from the definition of what 'cities' are to what this means for ecological models that use the current landscape as 'pristine'. That latter isn't really new, but this ought to broaden the hypothesis beyond the Maya areas. I should be getting that issue tomorrow, too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Small Empire Built on Cuddly and Fuzzy Branches Out From the Web
CALENDARS and coffee table books filled with pictures of cute, cuddly kitties and sad-eyed puppies have been around for decades. So what explains the success of Cute Overload, a new page-a-day desk calendar that recently shot to the top of its category on and, more remarkably, to the upper ranks of the site’s overall best-sellers list?

Stranger still, the birth of Cute Overload was almost purely accidental. Meg Frost, a 36-year-old design manager at Apple, started three years ago to test Web software. Within months, it became an online institution, drawing about 88,000 unique visitors a day — about the same as the political gossip blog Wonkette. BoingBoing linked to Cute Overload, saying that viewing the site “is like taking a happy pill.”

. . .

Ms. Frost will not talk about how much money she has made from the site, although it is enough money that she recently hired two part-time assistants.

See what I have to compete with????

I should try something like that.

Look at this perfectly adorable archaic point!
Tech-savvy Neanderthals couldn't blame their tools
Some researchers have argued that this technological leap gave modern humans a decided advantage over Neanderthals, who went extinct in Europe around 28,000 years ago. They claimed that humans produced and wielded blade tools more efficiently than disc flakes.

"I put this to the test, I created thousands of tools," Eren says. He and his colleagues focused on the process of creating the tools, not just the final product.

. . .

Disc flakes, Eren's team discovered, waste less rock, suffer fewer breaks and have more cutting edge for their mass compared with straight blades.

There's a lot that goes into stone tool technology so it's difficult to make out what the significance is. Various researchers (e.g., Parry and Kelly 1987, McDonald 1991) have argued that a conversion to sedentism is often accompanied by a shift to more simple expedient tool production; more or less opposite of what one usually thinks of as 'progress'. And it's not like this is a new debate or anything.

Parry, W. J., and R. L. Kelly
1987 Expeient core technology and sedentism. In The Organization of Core Technology, edited by J. K. Johnson, and C. A. Morrow. Westview Press, Boulder and London.

McDonald, M. M. A.
1991 Technological organization and sedentism in the Epipaleolithic of Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. The African Archaeological Review 9:81-109.
Pictured: Divers discover amazingly preserved shipwreck of HMS London on bottom of Thames
The largest-ever post-war salvage operation on the Thames has discovered seven shipwrecks up to 350 years old.

They include a warship that was blown up in 1665, a yacht converted to a Second World War gunboat, and a mystery wreck in which divers found a personalised gin bottle.

The vessels, in the Thames Estuary, are just some of about 1,100 ships which went down in the whole of the river.

There are pictures at the link which appear to be #D renderings of sonar images or otherwise computer-generated.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unearthing long-buried secrets
The more dirt archaeologists clear away, the more old secrets they uncover.

Crews have discovered 58 whole and partial skeletons behind the old Broadway School and expect that number to climb easily past 60. They're uncovering an old graveyard, cut through and ravaged by periodic construction during the past century.

A team from Landmark Archaeology spent the past two weeks unearthing more than a dozen people buried on either side of a thick concrete wall on the western edge of the site. Archaeologists found skeletons cut off at the ankles by the wall on the Robinson Avenue side and cut off just above the shoulders on the eastern side.
Night-Vision Dogs and Underwater Pyramids: Bad-Ass Archaeologists Discover. . uhhh. . . .wait a minute. . ."Bad-Ass Archeologists"? There's a new one! Portal to Maya Underworld
Even though real archaeology isn't remotely like the way it's portrayed in the movies, it still sounds like a pretty cool way to make a living. What adventure-loving soul wouldn't have enjoyed working alongside Guillermo de Anda as he found fourteen caves filled with temples and pyramids in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula? National Geographic (of course) brings us the news of de Anda's recent discovery, which reveals much about what the Mayan people believed about death and the afterlife.

Not much there, but anything with that title had to be posted.
Mounds supporters hope for a takeover
Timothy R. Pauketat, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign archaeology professor, has spent close to 25 years poking around the earth near Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville looking for relics of the centuries-old village that once dominated the site.But with a state budget crisis, massive cost concerns and reduced staffing, Pauketat and others who support the ancient ruins are asking why state leaders don't hand Cahokia Mounds over to a new, better-funded owner: the federal government.

"Given the recent efforts with state economy and the cuts, yes, I think that would be a good idea," Pauketat said.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fort Caroline: History buried in mystery
Where is the ground on which the French tried to get a toehold in the New World - before St. Augustine, before Roanoke, before Jamestown, before Plymouth?

Where were they slaughtered, on that miserable rainy morning almost 443 years ago? Do traces exist under the thin North Florida soil, or is it all lost under the waters of the St. Johns River?

The questions pull at those who look for the old French settlement, whose brief life - it was wiped out after less than 15 months by a brutal Spanish invasion from upstart St. Augustine - has been featured in at least three books this summer from best-selling authors: A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz, Painter in a Savage Land by Miles Harvey and America's Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don't Know Much About History.
Alpine melt reveals ancient life
Melting alpine glaciers are revealing fascinating clues to Neolithic life in the high mountains.

And, as a conference of archaeologists and climatologists meeting in the Swiss capital Berne has been discussing, the finds are also providing key indicators to climate change.

Everyone knows the story of Oetzi the Ice Man, found in an Austrian glacier in 1991. Oetzi was discovered at an altitude of over 3,000m.

I did not know other stuff not related to the Iceman had been found.
Huge statue of Roman ruler found
Parts of a giant, exquisitely-carved marble sculpture depicting the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius have been found at an archaeological site in Turkey.

Fragments of the statue were unearthed at the ancient city of Sagalassos.

So far the statue's head, right arm and lower legs have been discovered, high in the mountains of southern Turkey.
Blogging update Okay, I'm going to do a few posts and try to swallow my irritation at having to type in a frickin' word verification AFTER EVERY ONE.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blogging update Sorry about the lack of posting. The geniuses at Blogspot have decided that ArchaeoBlog MAY JUST BE SPAMBLOG and are making me do a word verification on each post. Besides being really irritating, I can barely figure out what the letters are ("Is that a 'u' or a 'v'?"). So, limited for the time being.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An image of Dashur (Egypt) from the ISS. Doesn't seem too much better than what you get from Google Earth though. . . .
Not archaeology but cool Manes, Trains and Antlers Explained
In his struggle to explain why such extravagant and seemingly burdensome features existed, the great English naturalist struck upon the idea of sexual selection -- that showy traits such as the Peacock’s ornamentation were an advantage in the mating game that outweighed other disadvantages.

A team of Wisconsin scientists has turned from the question of why such male traits exist to precisely how they evolved. They have worked out the molecular details of how a simple genetic switch controls decorative traits in male fruit flies and how that switch evolved. By extension, the work explains the mechanics of how the male lion got his mane, how the bull moose acquired such an impressive set of antlers and, yes, how the peacock got its magnificent tail.

Writing in the latest edition (Aug. 22, 2008) of the journal Cell, a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison molecular biologist Sean Carroll describes the regulation and evolution of a genetic circuit in fruit flies that permits the male to decorate its abdomen. The work also shows how the regulation of the same genetic circuit in females represses such ornamentation.
Archaeology: Fire lays bare prehistoric secrets of the moors in Yorkshire
A catastrophic fire which "skinned" a precious moorland to its rocky bones has unexpectedly revealed some of the most important prehistoric archaeology found in Britain.

The uncontrolled six-day blaze on Fylingdales Moor in North Yorkshire has exposed a lost landscape dating back 3,000 years which is now to be made accessible to the public by English Heritage.

Unique rock art and unprecedentedly clear bronze age field boundaries have emerged from the soot and cinders which were all that was left of two-and-a-half square miles of the North York Moors national park when fire crews and heavy rain finally swamped the area in September 2003.
1,200-year-old home found
For a nearly 1,200-year-old home, it's held up pretty well.
"Amazing" and "pristine" were the words archaeologists used to characterize the site of the ancient settlement just north of Kanab in southern Utah. It is believed that the single-family dwelling belonged to the Virgin Anasazi, who once flourished in the region, said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Kitchen. The Virgin Anasazi was a prehistoric American Indian culture that lived along the Virgin River.

Very neat.
Why I Don’t Use the Socratic Method
With the start of the new law school semester looming tomorrow, I thought it was time to revisit a favorite issue. From my Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence speech last spring:

When I joined the Illinois faculty 20 years ago, I began a long struggle with the problem of pedagogy. Like a lot of newly minted law professors of a certain age, I thought Professor Kingsfield was the standard to which I had to aspire.

Good for you.

It's law, not archaeology, but those of you who have sat through 4-16 years of a university education can relate. Well, especially grad school. I wasn't particularly enamored of the Paper Chase movie or series, but I watched it a few times prior to entering grad school and kinda thought that was what I was in for. Happily, that turned out (almost) not to be the case.

True, the first class I ever took in graduate school was taught by a Kingsfieldian prof -- I won't mention any names, but his initials are Robert C. Dunnell -- who really rather terrified first-years. He had a typical Indiana Jones-type office (albeit on the top floor of the building; he used his perks as department head well) chock full of boxes of artifacts and equipment. On his desk, where he greeted you sometime prior to the first day of class to let you know what you'd be in for, stood two items that most students could not take their eyes off of: a resin-encased rattlesnake head paperweight, and a fake (I hope) pile of dog poop.

He wasn't ('isn't' actually; he's still around) all that Kingsfieldish in many respects. Definitely not old-money eastern, more like hillbilly academic. But he was still incredibly serious about getting his ideas into our waifish brains and demanded an incredible amount of work. We were required to take his two theory courses our first two quarters (10 weeks, not semesters). FEAR. Especially when we had to do our presentations. Just sitting there reading our papers as he sat at the other end of the table. . . .doodling. You can imagine all sorts of young, green graduate students sitting there propounding on our given topic, all the while glancing over there wondering what could he be writing about?. We finally figured out that the more actual doodling he did -- and he could make some pretty complex doodles -- the better you were doing. OTOH, if he slowed down or, God forbid, stopped altogether and stared at you, you knew you were in trouble.

I had the great fortune (not) of getting both his second theory course and his lab course in my second quarter. Lawdy. Every nightmare that I ever had about grad school came true that quarter, especially the last two or three weeks when we had several finals, a couple of papers, a lab project, and Lord knows what else all due. I practically lived in the lab. Even on the weekends during that period, it was the same routine: Get up at 6 or so, go to the lab, classes, etc., come home and eat something for dinner, go back to the lab or the library until 11, fall into bed, lather, rinse, repeat. Our TA in the lab course even bought each of us a bottle of wine at the end, he felt so sorry for us (he'd been through the same grinder).

Still, he was one of the best profs I had, though to be honest his lecturing style left something to be desired. He was a ruthless editor; by the time you were done with him (or vice versa) you couldn't write a single sentence without analyzing every word and its position to determine its absolute necessity. A lot of people don't like his writing; it tends to be dense, but really it's just sparse, without much waste. You have to read closely, and if you do, you know exactly what he is saying. His writing, I think, lives up to my favorite quote which he pronounced: Ambiguity is a hedge against being wrong.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention one other aspect of our own Kingsfield. Every year around Christmastime he would "invite" (a formality; it was more or less required) all of his graduate students to his house for a party. Among the festivities, all the grad students would drink cheap beer ("Empty bottles filled up in the back yard by Rhinelander the horse") while he drank the good stuff. He also put out various snacks, including at least one plate of dog biscuits. Which would be bad enough, except that two people actually ate a couple.

I believe I may have the distinction of being the only first-year to ever fail to attend. I made it out, so I guess it didn't ruin me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Second Native American canoe found in Oconee
A second canoe believed to date back hundreds of years to early Native American residents of Oconee County has arrived at the Oconee Heritage Center.

It will now join the canoe found in the Chattooga River in 2002 in a preservation process and eventual exhibits at the museum, according to Nick Gambrell, the center’s curator and director.

The latest canoe, found in the Keowee River, was discovered last month by three young boys, Gambrell said.

. . .

“Their neighbors, Mike and Diana Stafford, having read about the Chattooga Canoe a few years earlier, made sure that the canoe remained in the water-- knowing that keeping the wood wet would help to preserve the artifact. . ."

Good for them.
Bigfoot update

Breaking news! Now, I want you all to sit down before reading this, as I realize that it will come as a complete and total shock. . . .so totally unexpected and out of left field that I daresay the more delicate among you may literally faint away at the news. And yet, with the full sincerity of my iron convictions, I must post this incredible news:

Bigfoot Body Revealed to Be Halloween Costume
"Within one hour we were able to see the partially exposed head," Kulls continues. "I was able to feel that it seemed mostly firm, but unusually hollow in one small section. This was yet another ominous sign."

Then came the clincher.

"Within the next hour of thaw, a break appeared up near the feet area. ... I observed the foot which looked unnatural, reached in and confirmed it was a rubber foot."

I am speechless.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Great Moments in Cinematic Archaeology I just realized that 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of Planet of the Apes:

Why particularly archaeology? Why, because one of the main characters, Dr. Cornelius (played by one of my faves, Roddy McDowall), was an archaeologist! The actual archaeology doesn't come in until the end, when Cornelius ("Oh, yes -- the young ape with a shovel"), Zira, Dr. Zaius, and Taylor and Nova, are in a cave site where Cornelius is describing the results of his excavations:

It was at this level I discovered traces of an early ape creature -- stage of primitive barbarism, really -- dating back roughly thirteen hundred years. It was here I found cutting tools and arrowheads of quartz and the fossilized bones of carnivorous gorillas. (Ed. !!!)

But the artifacts lying at your feet were found here, at this level. And that's the paradox. The more ancient culture is the more advanced. Admittedly, many of these objects are unidentified, but clearly they were fashioned by beings with a knowledge of metallurgy.

Indeed, the very fact that these tools are unknown to us could suggest a culture in certain ways almost equal to our own. Some of the evidence is uncontestable ...

(ZAIUS, interrupting)
Don't speak to me in absolutes. The evidence is contestable.

I apologize.

To begin with, your methods of dating the past are crude, to say the least. There are geologists on my staff who would laugh at your speculations.

One figures the "dating" they're talking about is some form of relative dating based on sediments, seriation, etc. Note that throughout the film, Cornelius's work is an attempt to go beyond the Sacred Scrolls which pretty much mirrors the development of archaeology/geology to reconcile Biblical history with the budding of the earth sciences in establishing the antiquity of both humans and the planet.

It's pretty unilineal in its view of evolution, depending as it does on a straight-line evolution from apes -- not just apes, but modern apes -- to Man and vice versa. This was dated even at the time in academic circles at least, but such a view was probably still widespread in popular culture. By then, it had been well established that the precursors to both humans and modern apes were a common ancestor, not actual gorillas, chimpanzees, etc.

I vaguely remember seeing it in the theater when it came out, but I can't be sure. I have a memory of seeing it along with Vanishing Point at a drive-in, but those films were three years apart. OTOH, it might have been something like a re-release double feature that we went to. I have a hard time believing that I could remember something from when I was, you know, six. Errrr, mostly what I remember of Vanishing Point was the car crash at the end and seeing NAKED FEMALE BOOBS for the first time.

I haven't sat through and watched the whole thing in a while, probably 10 years ago when its 30th anniversary was being celebrated. I bring it up now because I think the Biography Channel is running the 1998 documentary on the series. They spend most of the time on the first one, but go into the later ones as well. I do remember watching the TV series religiously; I really liked that.

One other tidbit of perhaps some anthropological interest: In interviews, Charleton Heston remarked that during filming, the actors playing the various species of ape -- gorilla, chimp, orangutan -- would tend to cluster by themselves with their own 'species' on the set. Could be from a number of factors, of course, and Heston himself stated that he wasn't sure if it meant anything or not, but I always found that interesting.
Diggers find Cinnabar history
There's a good yarn in the old privy at the abandoned town of Cinnabar, a few miles north of Gardiner.

An archaeology field school from the University of Montana and Montana State University has spent parts of the past two summers excavating the town, which was abandoned in 1903. One of the first places they started poking around was the outhouse.

UM graduate student Dave Dick rattled off a list of curious objects he found clustered at one level of the loo. There were whiskey and beer bottles, of course. But there was a girdle cinch, too, alongside a suspender clip. And most curious of all was the stopper from a vial of holy water.
Fight! Fight! Archaeologists in dig over standards
A GROUP of archaeologists who carried out a headline-making excavation at Cardiff Castle blew the whistle on under-staffing, poor procedures and lax supervision, it has emerged.

Their work grabbed the spotlight after uncovering evidence the Welsh capital may be thousands of years older than initially thought.

But several workers who took part later alleged it was riven by dissatisfaction at perceived poor standards and pressure to work overtime with poorly trained, inexperienced staff.
'Virtual Archaeologist' Reconnects Fragments Of An Ancient Civilization
For several decades, archaeologists in Greece have been painstakingly attempting to reconstruct wall paintings that hold valuable clues to the ancient culture of Thera, an island civilization that was buried under volcanic ash more than 3,500 years ago.

This Herculean task -- more than a century of further work at the current rate -- soon may get much easier, thanks to an automated system developed by a team of Princeton University computer scientists working in collaboration with archaeologists in Greece.

The new technology "has the potential to change the way people do archaeology," according to David Dobkin, the Phillip Y. Goldman '86 Professor in Computer Science and dean of the faculty at Princeton.

Kind of a Holy Grail of archaeology. A couple of years ago I talked with another researcher who had developed a system that supposedly would reassemble pot sherds together, theoretically taking a bunch of scanned sherds and digitally reassembling them into whole vessels. Unfortunately, it didn't work quite as well as it seemed. I broke up a pot I had sitting around, scanned them in, sent him the scans of three fragments that fit together (fresh breaks, mind you, not even worn like you usually find) and it was unable to reassemble them. Don't know if he's made any additional progress since then though. I should probably contact him again.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Non-archaeological post (sorta) I found this article on Olympic sportswear fascinating: Olympic Uniforms: Less Clothing Means Better Results
With their toned bodies and sun-kissed skin, beach volleyball players have more to show off than their lightning quick serves and powerful blocks. Especially if the players are women.

Beach volleyball is one of the most glaring examples of uniform discrepancy, with men and women wearing strikingly different outfits to play the same sport.

Men jump and dive into the sand wearing loose-fitting tank tops and shorts that hit mid-thigh. Women wear bikinis, the kind that make waxing oh-so-crucial.


It's a fairly lengthy article and goes into some detail on the whys and wherefores of various Olympic attire. I've wondered about this for some time, especially in the last several years as the female outfits have become smaller and smaller. IIRC, the original Greek athletes would compete entirely in the buff. Apparently, the bikini-wear favored by some of the track and beach volleyball women are extremely non-restricting and don't, ummmmmm, ride up or, in the case of the volleyballers, let sand get into all the nasty little nooks and crannies. So one is left with the impression that these things are, to get all Darwinian, being selected for because of their function.

BUT. One would also assume that the same functional constraints would apply to the men, albeit without having to wear anything on top. It seems as if only the male swimmers conceded to physics and wore tiny little Speedos (until recently of course). They seem to forgo the functional advantages and stick with relatively bulkier and more restrictive clothing. Style trumping function?

In yet another twist, the article also goes into the basketball teams, in which the women have tended towards emulating their male counterparts and wear the long baggy stuff. Is the clothing less of an issue in b-ball than track and field? I suspect so; clothing seems to be far more specialized when time is the determining factor rather than points. Swimmers seem to do whatever it take to grab an extra tenth of a second or two while different clothing won't make much of a difference when shooting a basket.

Of course, there's also the whole marketing angle as well. I have a feeling a bikini will bring in a lot more advertising reps than baggy shorts and a tank top.
Developers no longer haunted by historical discoveries
Digging an eight mile, $3bn (£1.6bn) tunnel linking Europe to Asia beneath the Bosphorus, a few miles from one of the world's most active seismic faults, was never going to be easy. But in 2005, a year after the project started, engineers working for the Turkish authorities were surprised by a discovery: the remains of the 4th century port of Constantinople, hailed as the greatest nautical find in a century.

Archaeologists were understandably thrilled. Yet the engineers were frustrated by the delays, which at their worst cost $1m a day. The project is still two years behind schedule.
Compare and Contrast Bigfoot vs. Indiana Jones

Local author's new history blog aims to bring past to life
A new blog, "Chronicles of the Comstock," that discusses historical topics pertaining to Virginia City and the Great Basin, is now available for viewing online.

Created by Northern Nevada author and historian Dennis Cassinelli, the weekly blog includes topics ranging from silver mining in the Comstock to the early Italian ranchers of Dayton, to the Virginia City fire of 1875.

The blog is available by logging on to Cassinelli's Web site at Click on the "Chronicles of the Comstock" link on the menu at the left. A new article is scheduled to appear each Sunday.

Sort of a blog. More like a plain old web site with regular articles. Interesting though.
Archaeologists to recall '61 dig
It was 48 summers ago when Oscar Brock and Edward Kurjack dug deep into a prehistoric Colbert County site and pulled out an abundance of findings.

This weekend, the retired archaeologists return to the Shoals to reminisce about those findings and, they hope, dig up more interest in the site.

Their dig was at the Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter near Barton in 1961. Another dig occurred two years later, although they weren't involved in that one. They found evidence left by Paleo-Indians who once occupied the rock shelter some 10,000 years ago, said Ninon Parker, who is chairwoman of the Colbert County Historical Landmarks Foundation.
More on the Gobero site in the Sahara including a video and more photos.

I read through the paper listed in the earlier post, but didn't see any habitation detail other than to say they excavated some "midden". No post holes, hearths, etc.
Historic Environment Record goes online
AN online database of over 50,000 historic buildings and archaeological sites across Highland was launched today at Highland Council's Planning, Environment and Development Committee meeting.

Members were given a demonstration of The Highland Historic Environment Record by HER development officer, Sylvina Tilbury. The records cover the whole range of human activity in Highland and include prehistoric houses, clearance townships, churches, bridges, notable gardens and shipwrecks.

Neat. I checked out a couple of sites bu the servers were slow and at least one of the Related Links was a 404.
Earth still ‘best trustee’ for Achaemenid palace
Once again the earth itself is the best trustee for cultural heritage, as archaeologists reburied the ruins of an Achaemenid palace due to lack of an appropriate plan necessary for the protection of the site.

“Protecting the ancient and historical sites is our most important task,” Fars Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (FCHTHD) director Alireza Barzegar told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.

“Thus, if we don’t have any appropriate plan to protect the excavated site, the sites should be once again covered by earth after the experts carry out studies on them,” he added.

Can't say I disagree with the sentiment, even if it's because of lack of an aletrnative.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sharks and the Chumash
A sleek, mysterious, and occasionally vicious species, the shark has long stoked the fire of human fascination. In Polynesia, the shark god Kamohoali’i is credited with bringing volcanoes and surfing to Hawai‘i. In ancient Greece, the goddess Lamia (or “Lone Shark”) was given by Zeus the power to eat children at night. In Australia, the aborigines believe the movement of mystic sharks gave contours to the natural world. In West Africa, young men seek strength by dressing as hammerheads and dancing. And in the Aztec tradition, the Earth was laid upon the back of a shark-like beast named Cipactli who guaranteed fertile soil only with the sacrifice of blood and bodies.

So it may be surprising to learn that no such legends persist in the oral tradition of the Chumash, the people who’ve inhabited the Santa Barbara coastline (and far beyond) for the past few millennia. But that’s probably because the Chumash had a practical, rather than mythological, relationship with the shark: According to the archaeological record, sharks (and rays, their close relative) were the number two source of protein for coastal Chumash after sardines, at least for the past 1,000 or so years.

I did not know that this was part of the diet there. Interesting that it has no mythological significance, too.
Portal to mythical Mayan underworld found in Mexico
Mexican archeologists have discovered a maze of stone temples in underground caves, some submerged in water and containing human bones, which ancient Mayans believed was a portal where dead souls entered the underworld.

Clad in scuba gear and edging through narrow tunnels, researchers discovered the stone ruins of eleven sacred temples and what could be the remains of human sacrifices at the site in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Not much detail, but two photos.
Status of mystery skull a bone of contention
The status of Wairarapa's mystery skull remains in limbo, with the national coroner's office effectively saying it's no longer its problem.

In response to a Times-Age query about who now has responsibility for the skull, which has generated worldwide news media interest, Glenn Dobson, southern regional manager for the Coronial Services Unit of the Ministry of Justice, said officially the case is closed and the coroner no longer has jurisdiction over it.

The skull, believed to be that of a European woman, was found in the Ruamahanga River four years ago by Sam Tobin and has created a stir because radiocarbon tests showed it is over 300 years old.

That has attracted interest from news media around the world because Europeans were not believed to have landed in New Zealand before 1770.

Doesn't seem to be much as to how it was determined to be European, apart from a phys anth examination, and no indication what the carbon source was for the C14 test. The skull itself?
Ancient stone chamber unearthed in garden
An ancient underground chamber which could date back 2,000 years has been unearthed near Clonmany in Inishowen.
Discovered by Clonmany man Sean Devlin, the previously unrecorded structure appears to be an underground tunnel or souterrain.

Mr Devlin revealed yesterday that he first discovered the underground chamber several years ago while landscaping his front garden, but didn’t make much of a fuss about his amazing find at the time. The historic significance of the tunnel only became apparent recently after Mr Devlin showed it to amateur archaeologist friends.

Very cool. Apparently, not a tomb either.

Geez, the only things I find when gardening is usually the neighbor cat's potty. . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cooking and Cognition: How Humans Got So Smart
For a long time, we were pretty dumb. Humans did little but make "the same very boring stone tools for almost 2 million years," he said. Then, only about 150,000 years ago, a different type of spurt happened — our big brains suddenly got smart. We started innovating. We tried different materials, such as bone, and invented many new tools, including needles for beadwork. Responding to, presumably, our first abstract thoughts, we started creating art and maybe even religion.

To understand what caused the cognitive spurt, Khaitovich and colleagues examined chemical brain processes known to have changed in the past 200,000 years. Comparing apes and humans, they found the most robust differences were for processes involved in energy metabolism.

The finding suggests that increased access to calories spurred our cognitive advances, said Khaitovich, carefully adding that definitive claims of causation are premature.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bigfoot update US hunters claim to have found Bigfoot
To the untrained eye, it may look suspiciously like a cast-off from a fancy dress party. But to Bigfoot believers, this is the latest “evidence” that the mysterious ape-man said to dwell in the forests of North America is more than just a hairy myth.

Named Rickmat in honour of Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton, Bigfoot hunters who claim to have bagged the 500lb ’corpse’ during an expedition in the US state of Georgia, it was being hailed today as potentially the “greatest discovery of the millennium” - by its finders, at least.

But that was not all they found in the woods.

Something about a bear and the Pope?

“They can claim to have DNA, but its not going to be possible for them to prove through DNA analysis that they have Bigfoot because there’s no specimen in a jar that says, ’This is Bigfoot’, to match it to."

Well, technically no, but you could easily rule out any number of possibilities.

For all of you non-North American readers, Bigfoot is the popular name given to the mythical creature known by the Native Americans as "Sackscratch".

UPDATE: You can see the raw press conference here. I'm listening to it now.

UPDATE II: Not looking good. From this Yahoo story on the DNA:
Biscardi, Whitton and Dyer presented what they called evidence supporting the Bigfoot theory. It was an e-mail from a University of Minnesota scientist, but all it said was that of the three DNA samples sent to the scientist, one was human, one was likely a possum and the third could not be tested because of technical problems.

I heard the possum thing on the news this morning. I'm guessing that either the guys here perpetrated the hoax, or someone set them up with a "body" consisting of some human and animal parts. (Later: He says that possum sample was taken from inside the intestine. So it's what he ate!)

Also this exchange:
Biscardi fielded most of the questions. Among them: Why should anyone accept the men's tale when they weren't willing to display their frozen artifact or pinpoint where they allegedly found it? How come bushwhackers aren't constantly tripping over primate remains if there are as many as 7,000 Bigfoots roaming the United States, as Biscardi claimed?

"I understand where you are coming from, but how many real Bigfoot researchers are out there trekking 140,000 miles a year?" Biscardi said.

Nice misdirection. It's not only "researchers", it's everyone running around the woods. Oye. Now he's talking about plane crashes not being found.

Hmm. Whitton can't seem to remember the exact date they found it. Seems rather odd. I CERTAINLY WOULD REMEMBER IT. I'd also probably do something with it sooner than 2 months later. Also seems cagey on where it exactly was.

Drat! Video cut out with like 5 minutes to go.

Oh well. Seems like one of the better hoaxes, and they've certainly gotten the attention they were seeking. It'll be interesting to see what happens later, if it gets woven into the grand conspiracy theories like other debunked sightings or if it's just readily acknowledged as a hoax.

Ottawa to mount search for lost Franklin ships

Some 163 years after they disappeared into the icy fastness of the Arctic archipelago, Sir John Franklin's ill-fated ships, Erebus and Terror, are once again at the centre of a great geopolitical game over claim to the Northwest Passage.

After decades of official indifference to the possibility that new technologies might locate the missing Royal Navy ships, Ottawa is not only mounting a search, reportedly from the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen and led by Parks Canada senior underwater archaeologist Robert Grenier, but the Conservative government is investing it with national purpose. Environment Minister John Baird has scheduled a news conference Friday.

This isn't really. . .well, it is archaeology, but not the usual sort we here at ArchaeoBlog post about. I like the Franklin story due to the exceptionally well-preserved bodies (photo of one at the link) and because of the mystery of why they died (though I tend to favor the lead hypothesis, which is the leading one).

I still have an idea that I should buy myself a big fat life insurance policy and arrange to have my body flown up to the Arctic and buried in permafrost so I can be as well preserved as these guys.
In the Sahara, Stone Age Graves From Greener Days
When Paul C. Sereno went hunting dinosaur bones in the Sahara, his career took a sharp turn from paleontology to archaeology. The expedition found what has proved to be the largest known graveyard of Stone Age people who lived there when the desert was green.

The first traces of pottery, stone tools and human skeletons were discovered eight years ago at a site in the southern Sahara, in Niger. After preliminary research, Dr. Sereno, a University of Chicago scientist who had previously uncovered remains of the dinosaur Nigersaurus there, organized an international team of archaeologists to investigate what had been a lakeside hunting and fishing settlement for the better part of 5,000 years, originating some 10,000 years ago.

Is this guy that good or just lucky??? Probably some of both. At any rate, excellent find. As the article notes, it's been known for a long time that much of the Sahara was relatively hospitable for much of the Early Holocene, and some (Wendorf et al.) have argued that cattle were first domesticated there.

Full report is here. I just skimmed the abstract, but it seems pretty well dated. I'll be interested to see if there was anything other than graves excavated (habitations).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How the First Farmers Colonized the Mediterranean
The invention of agriculture was a pivotal event in human history, but archaeologists studying its origins may have made a simple error in dating the domestication of animals like sheep and goats. The signal of the process, they believed, was the first appearance in the archaeological record of smaller boned animals. But in fact this reflects just a switch to culling females, which are smaller than males, concludes Melinda Zeder, an archaeologist at the Smithsonian Institution.

Using a different criterion, that of when herds first show signs of human management, Dr. Zeder finds that goats and sheep were first domesticated about 11,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought, with pigs and cattle following shortly afterwards.

Hmmmm. Gonna have to read that one.
Long-lost cousins
Your historical ancestors are unlikely to have done anything remotely interesting. But your prehistorical ones almost certainly did. Like a form of deep genealogy, tracing our origins back thousands and millions of years is a branch of science that never fails to capture the public's imagination.

At Nature, we often find that our most read, downloaded or listened to studies are those about our more ancient relatives, whether it's the hobbit of Flores or the oldest human ancestor, Toumai. Last week, a paper in the journal Cell uncovered the first completed sequence of the Neanderthal genome, and some fascinating insights into our evolutionary cousins. Expect more revelations from this project very soon.

Not much new there.
Centuries-old shipwrecks threaten gas pipeline project
SCUTTLED warships from a conflict nearly 300 years ago are threatening the construction of a multibillion-pound gas pipe-line on the floor of the Baltic Sea.

The 746-mile, £5.9-billion Russian-German project aims to avoid the political problems of transporting gas overland via Ukraine and Belarus, two countries that have serious issues with the Kremlin and the Russian energy giant Gazprom.

And you certainly don't want to tick off the Russians these days. . . . .
Colossal Head of Roman Empress Unearthed
The find was made almost exactly one year after we discovered the remains of a colossal (ca. 5 m; 16 foot) statue of the emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138) at a spot about 6 m (20 feet) away. The Hadrian statue—represented by a head and the lower part of the right leg and joining foot—is currently on display in the rotunda of the British Museum where it is the centerpiece of the exhibition Hadrian: Empire and Conflict.

Both the Hadrian statute and Faustina head come from the largest room of the Roman Baths at Sagalassos, which have under excavation for the past 12 years. This room—cross-shaped, with mosaic floors, and up to 1250 sq. meters—was most likely a cold room or frigidarium. Other colossal statues once occupied this room, as shown by the front part of two female feet of colossal dimensions we discovered last summer standing on the floor and surrounded by mosaics which still follow the contours of the female statue's long dress.

It's a report from the field by the director. Good read.
It's About the People
Hartley suggests that she carefully expose the object with a chopstick, which reveals a grooved surface. Further cleaning with a soft-bristle brush shows the object to be the broken remains of a Moravian tobacco pipe bowl.

Hartley, Old Salem's director of archaeology, has been teaching the techniques of archaeology for 25 years, ever since he was asked to lead a field school at Old Salem in 1983. His work has, colleagues say, been critical to historical research and preservation in the area. And, as Hartley says, understanding the past and its people helps understand people today.
Hustlers evicted from pyramids
The country's authorities have erected a 12-mile fence with infrared sensors and security cameras to create an exclusion zone around the three Giza pyramids and the Sphinx, which perch on a rocky plateau on the edge of Cairo.

"It was a zoo," said Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist. "Now we are protecting both the tourists and the ancient monuments."

In the past, the large site containing the enormous monuments - the only surviving member of the seven wonders of the ancient world - was protected by little more than a low stone wall and miles of open desert.

They cleared the vendors out from the immediate area in the "front" of the pyramids a few years ago, but you could still go around the back and get bugged. Though admittedly, the first year I went there our taxi driver took us way out behind them to the low hills where they usually take the classic photos from and we walked up to them from there. That was a very nice way to approach them since there were few people back that way and you could walk for several minutes and watch them get bigger and bigger and just be awed by their size. Every time I see them again I'm still shocked at how big the dumb things are. They're just so out of scale with anything else manmade we usually come across.
Archaeologists dig in St Cross
ENTHUSIASTIC excavators have been digging for clues near one of Winchester's most historic buildings.

More than 60 members of a Winchester archaeology group have spent the last two weeks exploring the lumps and bumps of a field bordering the Hospital of St Cross.

The dig, which organisers said was hampered by poor weather, uncovered evidence of a 14th century walled garden, which belonged to a now demolished part of the hospital's almshouses.
This just in. . . . Archaeologist Sienna Miller
The stunning actress - who is rumoured to be romantically involved with married father-of-four Balthazar Getty - admits while acting was always her dream, she did consider a different career option.

She said: "I wanted to be an archaeologist. I'd probably have something to do with art or something, but to be honest I never really allow myself to think about anything else."

Ah yes, joining the ranks of other top celebrities such as Shakira and Scarlett Johansson. Yes, it's good to be. . . . .an archaeologist.

Artist's conception of what Sienna Miller may have looked like:

Ummmm. . . as an archaeologist.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blogging update
Check it out.
NIMBY archaeologists? Archaeologist calls windfarm ‘an act of vandalism’
A LEADING Lanarkshire archaeologist has added his voice to those expressing concern that Europe’s largest windfarm is now to be built in Clydesdale.

Ed Archer, from Lanark, said this week that both Dr David Bellamy and local MP David Mundell were correct in pointing out that the creation of the windfarm at Abington was a “disaster.”

“It was a pity that the Scottish Government had disregarded their protests and South Lanarkshire Council’s opposition to the erection of the turbines,” he said this week.
The EEF has noted an interview with Zahi Hawass and also an update on the fetus testing.
Extinctions update Prehistoric giant animals killed by man, not climate: study
The debate centres on the skull of a giant kangaroo found in a cave in the thick rainforest of the rugged northwest of Tasmania in 2000.

Scientists dated the find at 41,000 years old, some 2,000 years after humans first began to live in the area.

"Up until now, people thought that the Tasmanian mega-fauna had actually gone extinct before people arrived on the island," a member of the British and Australian study, Professor Richard Roberts, told AFP Tuesday.

He said that it was likely that hunting killed off Tasmania's mega-fauna -- including the long-muzzled, 120 kilogram (264 pound) giant kangaroo, a rhinoceros-sized wombat and marsupial 'lions' which resembled leopards.

The article doesn't say whether or not the skull shows any evidence of hunting, so it's an inference in that regard (noted in the article, indirectly, by a skeptic). Need to see the original paper though.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Experimental archaeology Around Africa in a Phoenician boat
On Arwad Island off the coast of Syria, a group of 20 sailors-to-be are preparing for a voyage their captain believes has not been undertaken for two and a half millennia.

They plan to set off on Sunday on a journey that attempts to replicate what the Greek historian Herodotus mentions as the first circumnavigation of Africa in about 600BC.

Their vessel, the small, pine-wood Phoenicia, is modelled on the type of ship the Phoenician sailors he credited with the landmark voyage would have used.
Archaeology group says work at casino site could disturb relics
The sight of backhoes and dirt piles at the SugarHouse casino site this week has angered a group of local archaeologists and historians, who say the excavation work could disturb potentially important relics.

SugarHouse got permission from the Army Corps of Engineers on Aug. 1 to begin limited work to install test pilings, as well as to remove underground obstructions.

The company said it needs to complete the work to move ahead with construction bids for the casino project along Delaware Avenue at Frankford Avenue.
Roman Temple Uncovered In Ancient Jewish Capital Of Galilee
Ruins of a Roman temple from the second century CE have recently been unearthed in the Zippori National Park. Above the temple are foundations of a church from the Byzantine period.

The excavations, which were undertaken by the Noam Shudofsky Zippori Expedition led by of Prof. Zeev Weiss of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, shed light on the multi-cultural society of ancient Zippori (also known as Sepphoris).
Live-model Greek friezes.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

1,000-year-old mystery Buddhist steel case opened in east China
Chinese archaeologists on Wednesday opened a 1,000-year-old steel case that was believed to contain Buddhist relics.

A pagoda top wrapped in silk emerged after archaeologists removed two steel panels of the cube-shaped case, which is 0.5 meter long, 0.5 meter wide and 1.34 meters high.
Lumpkin's Dig Begins
The bulldozer let out a deep hum as it scraped up the first chunk of top soil from the old Lumpkin's Jail site in Shockoe Bottom.

Richmond City Councilwoman Delores McQuinn (7th) smiled at the sight. Standing with members of the city, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods, she watched Wednesday morning as more than two years' worth of work began to show.

"Finally! We're at this point," said McQuinn, who is the head of the Richmond Slave Trail Commission.
Archaeology offers computer hope
Researchers will analyse ancient networks used to create pottery

Researchers hope a new study into ancient civilisations will help develop computer systems of the future.

The universities of Glasgow, Leicester and Exeter are taking part in a £1.75m project to analyse ancient traditions and techniques.

It is hoped that tracing links between people who made and used items such as coins and pottery will offer insight into early information networks.

Color me skeptical.
Sale of Old Coins Irks Archaeologists
In a recent post online, one
archaeologist likened the private collecting of ancient coins to the slaughter
of African elephants. This wildly radical view pits archaeology directly
against a venerable 600-year-old tradition of private scholars and museums
throughout the world, according to Sayles. Objects as plentiful as coins,
surviving in the millions of specimens, can hardly be treated as priceless
treasures to be preserved only by state agencies and institutions.
Collectors argue that they are far better stewards and preservationists than
most institutions, and are sometimes better scholars.

This occurs to me every time I walk past the local numismatist emporium. They always seemed to me to be a bit more scholarly than your average collectors, or maybe because coin collecting has been portrayed as something of a nerd's hobby.
N. Idaho archaeologists scour tunnel for artifacts
Archeologists are excavating the tunnel entrance site where U.S. Forest Service Ranger Ed Pulaski in 1910 led his 45-man crew to safety as 1 of the worst firestorms in northern Idaho history raged around them.

The excavation is part of the Pulaski Project. The restoration project also includes building an observation deck at the end of the two-mile Pulaski Tunnel Trail. The trail to the abandoned mine tunnel starts about a half-mile south of Wallace.

"as 1 of the worst firestorms"?


Put DOWN the texting and step away slowly.

UPDATE: Little more here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Here's more on that chariot from yesterday. With photos!

Very neat.
First Neanderthal genome completed
A 38,000-year old bone has yielded the world's first complete Neanderthal mitochondrial genome sequence, offering a tantalising glimpse at the genetic changes that separate humans from Neanderthals, which split some 600 millennia ago.

The mitochondrion – a structure often dubbed the cell's powerhouse – contains a mere 16,565 DNA letters that code for 13 proteins, whereas the nucleus holds more than 3 billion letters that produce more than 20,000 proteins. If DNA were to the size of a standard soccer pitch, then mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) would be equivalent to a small flowerbed.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Prehistoric mom and dad
Contrary to popular belief, the people who roamed north Africa in prehistoric times cared deeply for their children, recent discoveries by a team of Moroccan and British archaeologists show.

"For years these people have wrongly been thought of as individuals whose only wish was to eat, reproduce, and protect themselves from the elements and predators," said Abdeljalil Bouzouggar of Morocco's Institute of Archaeology and Heritage.

"Now we discover that 12000 years ago they granted their babies the same rights as adults."
The secret of Maya green
A pigment unknown to art historians has been identified on ancient Maya artefacts from Mexico. The blue-green colour of veszelyite seems to have been chosen to blend in with and even imitate jade, the most precious substance used by the Maya.

. . .

The assumption was that the green was derived from malachite or chrysocolla, but analyses showed instead the use of veszelyite, the use of which as a pigment “had never been reported for any civilisation to our knowledge”, Dr. R. García Moreno and his colleagues report in Archaeometry.
Archaeologists unearth Thracian carriage
Bulgarian archaeologists have unearthed a fully preserved, 19-century-old horse-drawn carriage from a Thracian tomb, news reports said on Wednesday.

The opulently decorated vehicle was found at Elchovo in south-eastern Bulgaria along with other artefacts buried 1 900 years ago with a rich Thracian nobleman. The storage tank in the coach was full of glass wine gourds and ceramic plates.

That sounds really neat but no photos.
The truth about the Picts
A study of one the most important archaeological discoveries in Scotland for 30 years, a Pictish monastery at Portmahomack on the Tarbat peninsula in Easter Ross, has found that they were capable of great art, learning and the use of complex architectural principles.

The monastery – an enclosure centred on a church thought to have housed about 150 monks and workers – was similar to St Columba's religious centre at Iona and there is evidence they would have made gospel books similar to the Book of Kells and religious artefacts such as chalices to supply numerous "daughter monasteries".
Here's a video from NG on salt mummies from Iran.
Greek Mummy Found in Lead Coffin
A mummy of a middle-aged woman dating to Ancient Greek times has been discovered in a lead coffin inside a marble sarcophagus, the first clear indication of embalming in Greece from the era when the Romans ruled there.

A research team co-led by Frank Rühli of the University of Zurich was able to show that various resins, oils and spices were used to embalm the body, dating to A.D. 300. Along with the skeleton, the methods partially preserved some soft tissues from the body, most of which are now brittle, thin and extremely desiccated, including eyebrows, a muscle in the hand, hair and blood cells.

Doesn't appear to be much of a mummy, with only a few areas of soft tissue preserved.
Rock Art Marks Transformations In Traditional Peruvian Societies
Most rock paintings and rock carvings or petroglyphs were created by ancient and prehistoric societies. Archaeologists have long used them to gain clues to the way of life of such peoples. Certain rock frescos − such as the renowned Lascaux and Chauvet cave paintings or the petroglyphs of Scandinavia and North America − have already yielded substantial information on our ancestors' daily lives.

However, for other regions of the world like Latin America studies are still fragmentary. In Peru, where many sites have already been located, mystery still cloaks the signification and role of these concentrations of cave paintings and petroglyphs. One of these sites, Toro Muerto, in the South of the country, contains over 4000 carved blocks scattered over several dozen hectares.

Here's the guts of it:
The most ancient sites show a predominance of naturalistic representations of dead or wounded animals. However, a second set dated at 4000 to 5000 years BC eulogizes fertility. This time the images are large, drawn with the abdomen enormously swollen, sometimes containing a foetus. This stylistic development, which seems to coincide with the beginnings of animal husbandry in the high upland regions of Peru, appear to symbolize the emergence of pastoralism and the change in man—animal relationships that came along with this practice.
Genetic Evidence Used To Trace Ancient African Migration
Stanford University researchers peering at history's footprints on human DNA have found new evidence for how prehistoric people shared knowledge that advanced civilization.

Using a genetic technique pioneered at Stanford, the team found that animal-herding methods arrived in southern Africa 2,000 years ago on a wave of human migration, rather than by movement of ideas between neighbors. The findings shed light on how early cultures interacted with each other and how societies learned to adopt advances.

"There's a tradition in archaeology of saying people don't move very much; they just transfer ideas through space," said Joanna Mountain, PhD, consulting assistant professor of anthropology. Mountain and Peter Underhill, PhD, senior research scientist in genetics at Stanford's School of Medicine, were the study's senior authors. Their findings will appear in the Aug. 5 advance online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"We know that humans had to migrate at some point in their history, but we also know humans tend to stay put once they get someplace," Underhill said.

Egypt to DNA-test 2 fetuses from King Tut's tomb
Egyptian scientists are carrying out DNA tests on two mummified fetuses found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun to determine whether they are the young pharaoh's children, Egyptian antiquity authorities said Wednesday.

The two tiny female fetuses, between five to seven months in gestational age, were found in the King Tut's tomb in Luxor when the tomb was disovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

DNA samples from the fetuses "will be compared to each other, along with those of the mummy of King Tutankhamun," the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, said in a statement.

Finally. Egyptologists have been begging to to DNA work on the royal mummies for years, but it was rejected. I didn't really know why, but the article states that Hawass wanted Egyptians to do the work. As long as it gets done.
Blogging update Yeah, no posting yesterday (Tuesday). Busy day. My brother flew in from the east coast and we hung out for lunch, and then our street had its Night Out which is kind of a block party type of thing that the Seattle PD encourages. It's a way to get to know your neighbors. I rather enjoyed it. I learned, for example, that the people at the other end of the street actually have 3 teenaged daughters instead of just one. I never saw them together and they look very alike, so I thought they only had one. Sheesh. And I met the guy on the other side of the block who owns a DeLorean. I'll have some news on that shortly, too.

Blogging will resume after I catch up on a few things.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Here's another review of the BBC series "Bonekickers":
Each week, Gillian puts herself in danger so that she can explore her feelings for her ex, or for some other former beau, while digging up an artefact or two and making grand leaps of logic and assumptions that would make even the Primeval team wince.

Really, that's quit accurate.

(Let me guess, Gillian is a descendant of Boudicca)

And here is some stuff on a new DVD set of the original "Mummy" movies.
Last year Dyfed Archaeology Trust carried out an exploratory excavation and discovered several human skeletons.

The trust's report stated: "Stone foundations discovered during the excavation are probably part of the chapel. Some of the burials were just a few centimetres below the ground surface, but, unusually for West Wales, bone preservation was very good.

"No artefacts were found. However, four radiocarbon dates indicate use of the cemetery between the 12th and 15th centuries AD."
Archaeology exposed by pipe burst is preserved

A PIECE of Lake District mining history has been preserved thanks to a partnership between a utility company and the national park authority.

Following a water main burst two years ago, part of Coniston Coppermines suffered damage - however, the flood also revealed hitherto hidden archaeological features in the Paddy End dressing floors.

So the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) teamed up with United Utilities, which contributed £10,000 to repair the damage and preserve the archaeology for the future.

Skeletons uncovered in friary dig

Archaeologists in Perth have uncovered more than 50 skeletons at the site of a medieval friary.

The team is excavating land at the corner of Riggs Road and Jeanfield Road before retail units are built.

As well as the bones, the team has discovered pieces of grave slabs, window glass and further evidence of the 13th century Carmelite friary.
Grave matter
Sjobor Hammer is passionate about unsung stories.

That includes the saga of the Salina Indian burial grounds and the federal law that was written as a result.

National History Day judges agreed the story fit this year's theme of conflict and compromise.

In June, the panel of jurists in Washington, D.C., awarded Hammer, a Topeka teenager, the gold medal and a $4,000 prize for her short documentary, "Bones of Contention: Battling For Human Dignity at the Salina Indian Burial Site."
Why do archaeologists get to have all the fun?
You could argue that archaeology is an inherently sexy profession, and I wouldn't quibble. Although most field expeditions consist of people in large khaki hats brushing dust off tiny ceramic shards, there is always the possibility that one of the shards might be paranormally cursed. The entire team of archaeologists might start speaking Mayan and attacking each other with trowels. Seriously. I mean that.

Cuz we're studs.

And studettes.
Non-archaeology story Look, you can buy Brian May's dissertation at Amazon! How neat is that?

And, ummm, while you're at it. . . .

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Developer agrees to pay $144,000 for destruction of historic site in Lebanon
A home developer who destroyed part of a 1,000-year-old buried Mississippian village will pay $144,000 to help protect hundreds of other prehistoric Illinois sites, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency announced Thursday.

Home developer Thomas Bow, of T. Bow Inc. of Belleville, has agreed to pay the settlement to the state in compensation for what Bow has said was the accidental destruction of a one-acre portion of the village on what is known as the Pfeffer Farm site. This overall 10-acre site adjacent to Belleville Street lies about a mile from the village's small downtown.
Over 200 ancient tombs found in Thua Thien-Hue
A total of 216 ancient tombs dating back to Sa Huynh culture were found buried together at the Con Rang relics in Huong Tra district of central Thua Thien-Hue province.

The result of the third excavation is the biggest archaeological discovery about the number of such tombs found in the central region so far, said archaeologists from the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology and the provincial Revolutionary-Historical Museum.
Mummy update

Review: 'The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor'
Director Rob Cohen ("The Fast and the Furious") keeps things chugging along: The more inventive scenes include a headless horse chase and an avalanche suspended in midair. But the film's self-effacing humor - all those jokey asides from Fraser in mid-battle - wears thin. Though it tries to juice up its mojo with currently popular Asian themes and martial-arts sequences, this "Mummy" seems a teeny bit musty.

I may go see this in the theater as I have a few free passes saved up and special-effects heavy movies are good for the big screen. I really liked the first one, the second one a bit less so (except for the welcome Patricia Velasquez eye candy, of course).