Archaeologists in Italy have set about making red wine exactly as the ancient Romans did, to see what it tastes like.
Based at the University of Catania in Sicily and supported by Italy’s national research centre, a team has planted a vineyard near Catania using techniques copied from ancient texts and expects its first vintage within four years.
“We are more used to archeological digs but wanted to make society more aware of our work, otherwise we risk being seen as extraterrestrials,” said archaeologist Daniele Malfitana.
At the group’s vineyard, which should produce 70 litres at the first harvest, modern chemicals will be banned and vines will be planted using wooden Roman tools and will be fastened with canes and broom, as the Romans did.
Instead of fermenting in barrels, the wine will be placed in large terracotta pots – traditionally big enough to hold a man – which are buried to the neck in the ground, lined inside with beeswax to make them impermeable and left open during fermentation before being sealed shut with clay or resin.
“We will not use fermenting agents, but rely on the fermentation of the grapes themselves, which will make it as hit and miss as it was then – you can call this experimental archaeology,” said researcher Mario Indelicato, who is managing the programme.
The team has faithfully followed tips on wine growing given by Virgil in the Georgics, his poem about agriculture, as well as by Columella, a first century AD grower, whose detailed guide to winemaking was relied on until the 17th century.
“We have found that Roman techniques were more or less in use in Sicily up until a few decades ago, showing how advanced the Romans were,” said Indelicato. “I discovered a two-pointed hoe at my family house on Mount Etna recently that was identical to one we found during a Roman excavation.”
What has changed are the types of grape varieties, which have intermingled over the centuries. “Columella mentions 50 types but we can only speculate on the modern-day equivalents,” said Indelicato, who is planting a local variety, Nerello Mascalese.
“To sweeten up their wine, which could be vinegary, the Romans added honey and water to it,” he said. “They made better stuff for nobles and cheaper, more vinegary stuff for slaves. We will try and make both types.”
The drinking habits of Romans have also changed in two millennia. Whereas Italians today drink moderately with meals, their ancestors were more given to drunken carousing.
“An edict was issued in the first century AD halting the planting of vineyards because people were not growing wheat any more,” said Indelicato.
“The Romans took the concept of getting together for a drink from the Greeks after they conquered the Greek-controlled Italian city of Taranto in the third century BC.
“They drank at festivals to mark the pending harvest, after the harvest. In fact, any occasion was good for a drink.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Archaeologists in El Salvador have found 160 fragments of what may be statues of jaguars at the archaeological site of Cihuatan.
The fragments which are thought to represent five or six feline figures were discovered at the ceremonial centre -a site of Maya origin north of San Salvador – according to archaeologists from the National Foundation of El Salvador Archaeology (FUNDAR) who first made the discovery in early 2013.Rebuilding some 160 fragments, of the possible jaguar statues, discovered in Cihuatan. Image: SECRETARÍA DE CULTURA El Salvador Importance of jaguars
The archaeologists explained that they could not be absolutely sure the fragments represented jaguars, as most of the painted decoration has been lost in antiquity. Given the importance of this animal in Mesoamerican culture, the possibility could not be ruled out.
FUNDAR archaeologist Paul Amaroli confirmed that the 160 fragments are currently in the process of conservation and cleaning, to try and recover any paint that may indicate the possibility of jaguar markings.Possible jaguar statue under excavation, discovered at Cihuatan. Image: FUNDAR
Jaguars have long been associated with Mayan civilisation who worshipped them as gods. Various inscriptions, murals and sculptures representing jaguars in warrior or god form have been found across Central America.
The recent discovery of these feline figures is only the second of its kind in nearly one hundred years in El Salvador. In 1929, researcher Antonio Sol and a team of archaeologists excavated a stone chamber next to the ball court in the north of the site and found the remains of some 20 jaguar figures, all now missing.The Mexican style ceramic with skull decoration discovered in Cihuatan. Image: SECRETARÍA DE CULTURA El Salvador Escaping the collapse of society
The Maya are believed to have inhabited Cihuatan between 1000 and 1200 CE following the collapse of the civilisation in central Mexico, which has been placed around 800 and 900 CE.
This hypothesis is strengthened by the discovery of a Mexican style ceramic at Cihuatán found burned in a ceremonial centre. The dish includes a skull motif and scenes of sacrifice, typical of central Mexico during the final phases of the Maya collapse. “It is possible that some of the people decided to make a new life in what is now Cihuatán“, says Amaroli.
Cihuatán’s own destruction may have occurred from a conflict with another local culture, a theory reinforced with this new find.
The statues are smashed and shattered and appear to have been deliberately buried with the clear intention to both destroy and then hide the pieces.
The site will be further investigated in November when archaeologists are scheduled to commence new excavations at Cihuatán, which is the largest archaeological park in El Salvador.
Source: SECRETARÍA DE CULTURA El SalvadorMore Information
SECRETARÍA DE CULTURA. Smashed and buried feline figurines found in El Salvador. Past Horizons. August 24, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/Smashed and buried feline figurines found in El Salvador For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Boxes and other forms of containers are technologies that arise at given points of time in various cultures. Everybody knows the ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying their dead. What is perhaps less known is that they placed the mummies inside layer upon layer of coffins says Anders Bettum, Egyptologist at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo.Egyptologist Anders Bettum. Image: Jon Arve Moen
A similar idea can be found with Russian dolls, Chinese boxes and even Norwegian poetry traditions.
“The Egyptian coffin sets are based on the same principle that we can observe with Chinese boxes and Russian nested matryoshka dolls, where objects are nested inside each other to constitute a complete ensemble,” he says.
Ancient Egyptian history encompasses a period of nearly three thousand years, up to the Roman conquest in the year 30 BCE. Today, museums all over the world possess mummies or coffins that have contained mummies of more or less prominent men and women.
The child king Tutankhamun (1334-24 BCE) was buried in as many as eight coffins, according to Bettum.
“For men and women who were members of the ancient Egyptian elite at that time, three or four coffins were not unusual,” he adds.Linking the dead to the gods
According to the researcher’s recent PhD thesis, “Faces within Faces – The Symbolic Function of Nested Yellow Coffins in Ancient Egypt”, nested coffins were not only a status symbol for the Egyptian elite.
“They also played a key role in the process that would link the deceased to their ancestors: to Osiris, the god of the afterlife, and to Amun-Ra, the sun- and creator god,” Bettum says.Funeral rituals – a unification of two myths
The rituals and the myths that were reiterated during the seventy days that a funeral lasted are symbolically rendered on the coffins. The components of each nest, including the mummy-cover, the inner and outer coffins – reflect the Egyptians’ view of the world.
“The decorations, the forms and the choice of materials signify a unification of the two myths about Osiris and Amun-Ra respectively. On the outer coffin, the deceased is portrayed as Osiris, with a mummified body, a blue-striped wig and a pale, solemn face. The coffin is painted yellow and varnished, and must have shone like gold. The very richest Egyptians did in fact use gold leaf on their coffins.”
“The choice of colour is not coincidental: it represents the light and its origin in the sun. That the figure of Osiris is being bathed in sunlight can, in my mind, only mean one thing. The decoration invokes a well known mythical image: when the sun god arrives in the throne hall of Osiris in the 6th hour of the night and the two deities join in mystical union. According to the Egyptians, this union was the source of all regeneration in nature, and it was here, at the centre of this ‘catalyst of life’ that the deceased wanted to be placed for all eternity.”Coffin set belonging to the temple singer Tamutnofret, composed of an outer coffin, an inner coffin and a “mummy-cover”, a full-length death mask that was placed over the mummy. The origin of the set is a now unknown grave in Thebes. It can be dated back to the reign of Ramses II (approx. 1279-1213 BCE). Painted and gilded wood. Louvre, Paris (N. 2623, 2620, 2571, 2631, 2598). Photograph: Réunion des Musées Nationaux A return to the old self
Another key finding, Bettum explains, is that the innermost layers of the coffin nests dating from the 19th dynasty (approximately 1292-1191 BCE) were fashioned as living humans in their best outfits. The innermost layer was the most important one, since it shows the objective of the afterlife transformation: the “state of paradise” to which these people aspired involved not only a mystical union with the gods; but more importantly a return to their old “self”.
Bettum believes that this custom served to distinguish the sacred from the more mundane surroundings.
“The numerous layers of coffins around the mummy functioned as repeated images of the deceased, but also as protective capsules, similar to the larvae’s pupa before its transformation to a butterfly. Such repeated imagery is a well-known theme in religious art and literature. In the Egyptian coffin sets, they symbolize the eternal, life-giving pendulum of the sun god between heaven and earth – a process in which the ancient Egyptians hoped to participate in their afterlife.”Scattered to the winds
Even though complete Egyptian coffin nests still can be found intact in some places, most have been disassembled and are today scattered in museums all over the world. As a researcher, Bettum would like to see more international cooperation to reassemble the coffin ensembles in the same location. He also believes that such projects would be fascinating to the public and rekindle interest in some of the world’s largest and most enigmatic cultural treasures.
“So far, national legislation and interests have unfortunately served as barriers to such cooperation,” he concludes.
Source: University of Oslo
University of Oslo. One mummy – many coffins. Past Horizons. August 23, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/one-mummy-many-coffins For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Excavation and events at The Hurlers stone circle
World’s oldest temple may have been built to worship Sirius
Set of 5000-year-old board game pieces discovered in Turkey
Human presence in Cuba 10,000 years ago
Project to protect Indian megalithic sites
Irish ‘bog body’ said to be world’s oldest
Neolithic engraved stone discovered in Scotland
Ancient campsite discovered along Minnesota River
Ice core data supports ancient space impact
A drowned world off north west coast of Australia
Neolithic ‘halls of the dead’ found in England
Evidence of human presence on Thames in 7,000 BCE
Carved ball found at the Ness of Brodgar dig
Tomb of ancient noblewoman discovered in Russia
The ancient secrets of the Lesser Cyclades
Please note that now your favourite podcast – along with a great deal of additional features – is available also as an app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch on iTunes Store.
Stone Pages with BAJR and Past Horizons presents the long running archaeology based podcast with the latest archaeology news, mainly related to prehistory, megalithic monuments and discoveries.
Rare new details about an ancient Roman fort in southern Jordan have been uncovered by two UT professors.
Robert Darby, a lecturer in art history in the School of Art, and Erin Darby, an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, direct the ‘Ayn Gharandal archaeological project that has uncovered details about the fort, including the previously unknown location of an ancient infantry unit.Monumental inscription
“This is the type of find archaeologists dream of making—a monumental inscription,” Erin Darby said. “This inscription allows us to fill in some gaps in Roman history. Findings like this don’t happen often, and I’m glad our students could be part of this great discovery.”UT students take a break from excavating the Roman fort at ‘Ayn Gharandal to explore Wadi Rum. Pictured are: front row, Alissa Reeves, Assistant Professor Erin Darby, Kirby Trovillo; second row, Leigh Anne Cutshaw, Nicole Swartwood, Hilarie Zombek, and Krista Adamsky; and third row, Kaylin Rohde, Emma Pugmire, Cole Diamond, Aubrey Rhoades, and Dane van Eys.
Over the past four years the Darbys and their team have been excavating the ruins of ‘Ayn Gharandal. This past June the team uncovered the collapsed gate of the fort, including a large Latin inscription with traces of red paint. The inscribed block was decorated with laurel branches and a wreath, common symbols of victory in Roman art.Dedicated to the Tetrarchs
The inscription says the fort was dedicated to four co-ruling Roman emperors: Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius I, a group otherwise known as the Tetrarchs, who ruled between 293 and 305 A.D.
The inscription also reveals the infantry unit stationed at the fort was the Cohors II Galatarum, or the Second Cohort of Galatians. Ancient sources place the unit at a site called Arieldela, whose location was previously unknown until this discovery.Helping to suppress the Jewish uprising
“Roman military documents from this region suggest that the Cohors II Galatarum was originally brought to Israel to help suppress the Jewish uprising of the second century known as the Bar Kokhba Revolt,” said Robert Darby. “The inscription indicates that this garrison remained in the area and was subsequently transferred to the outer frontier of the empire, located in what is now modern Jordan.”
Very few Late Roman building inscriptions have been found at forts in the region, and this particular inscription is the only one uncovered through archaeological excavation.
The inscription has been removed from the site for conservation at the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan, and the excavated areas have been backfilled.
The 2013 field season was supported by UT, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the American Schools of Oriental Research, and the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.
Source: University of Tennessee
- The research was chronicled in an e-journal, Ancient Near East Today. The article can be viewed online at asorblog.org
- For more about the research, visit the Department of Religious Studies website
University of Tennessee. Lost Roman outpost discovered in southern Jordan. Past Horizons. August 23, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/lost-roman-outpost-discovered-in-southern-jordan For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
In a long-buried Italian city archaeologists have found a massive monument that dates back 300 years before huge public monumental structures such as the Colosseum and even 100 years before the invention of mortar, revealing that the Romans had grand architectural ambitions much earlier than previously thought.A glimpse of a grander vision
The structure, unearthed at the site known as Gabii, just east of Rome, is built with giant stone blocks and dates back 350-250 years BCE. It’s possibly the earliest Roman public building ever found, said Nicola Terrenato, a University of Michigan classics professor who leads the project—the largest American dig in Italy in the past 50 years.
The complex has geometrically patterned floors and two terraces connected by a grand staircase. It’s unlike anything the Romans were thought to be building at the time, Terrenato said, and it challenges the ancient stereotype that they were a modest and conservative people during the early period of their rise to dominance.
“There are a lot of constructive details that are beautiful to look at and they tell us more about how the Romans were building at that stage,” Terrenato said.“This shows us they were beginning to experiment with modifying their natural environments—cutting back the natural slope and creating a retaining wall, for example— about a quarter of a millennium earlier than we thought.Two terraces connected by a grand staircase, a massive stone retaining wall and geometrically patterned floors. Images courtesy: Marcello Mogetta A major project
A team of 60 researchers including undergraduates and graduate students from several universities took part this summer in a major rheological dig at the site. The project, which began in 2009, is the largest American dig in Italy in the past 50 years.
Terrenato was struck by the size of the blocks in the retaining wall, but this was the only way the residents could keep such a structure stable because mortar hadn’t been invented yet.The project, which began in 2009, is the largest American dig in Italy in the past 50 years. Roman extravagance
As historians like Cicero told the story, the Romans were conservative and sober and only became lavish after the soldiers who conquered Greece returned home with a taste for extravagance. But the new monument prelates that by one or two centuries.
“Rome conquered Greece in the 140s BCE. Roman historians said the soldiers came back and wanted Greek luxury, which is a way of trying to shift blame,” Terrenato said. “We now know that long before they conquered Greece, the Romans were already thinking big. This tears apart the view of Romans in this period as being very modest and inconspicuous.”
The site of Gabii, situated on undeveloped land in modern-day Lazio, was once a major city, but appears to have waned by the third century as the Roman Empire grew. The goal of the Gabii Project is to show what a city in the region looked like before Rome’s great development. Because the site is outside Rome, archaeologists are able to explore its deepest levels—something that’s impossible to do within city limits because of later construction piled on top.
Source: University of MichiganMore Information
- The Gabii Project - University of Michigan
University of Michigan. Monumental Romans centuries earlier than thought. Past Horizons. August 23, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/monumental-romans-centuries-earlier-than-thought For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Work has begun to unearth and exhibit ship remains from different eras that were discovered during an underwater excavation in the 6,000-year-old town of Limantepe on Turkey’s western coast.
A sunken 17th-century Ottoman merchant ship that was transporting plates from the Netherlands will be brought out of the water and exhibited.
It has been 13 years since the underwater excavations started in Limantepe, a site that attracted the interest of researchers when they could not initially identify areas in the sea on aerial photographs of the İskele neighbourhood in the district of Urla.
The sunken vessel is the latest in a long line of ships that have been found in the area. Plates from ship will be brought out of the water and exhibited
See on www.hurriyetdailynews.com
Lewis Canyon Petroglyph Site is located in the Lower Pecos Region of Texas and situated on a near flat stretch of limestone bedrock adjacent to a steep walled canyon. Hundreds or maybe thousands of prehistoric petroglyphs were carved into the rock in this area.Creating a map of the site
Some of the designs appear to resemble atl atls (a dart throwing weapon), human-like figures, animals and animal tracks but the most common elements are abstract circles, lines, and dots.
A revolutionary technique was used to map the area so it can be seen as a single Gigapan image, which can be zoomed into at incredible detail.
A group of five archaeologists walked a series of transects holding a Canon digital SLR camera on the end of a painter’s pole, taking photos straight down at about every 2.5 metres across the entire site. The surface is more than 175 metres (~600 feet) east/west by 160 metres north/south (~525 feet). A total of 2,400 images were used to create this mosaic.
On closer inspection, the viewer will note the eastern half of the site was photographed at dusk on one day and the western half after dawn on the next day. This was done to capture the petroglyphs with the strongest shadows possible and from the best angle that the two sides of the site required.A huge single image
All of the photographs were then processed as a mosaic image using an advanced photogrammetric technique and exported into GIS software and geo-corrected. The data was further enhanced and turned into a huge single image 135 gigabytes in size. This was down sampled so that there is a single pixel in the Gigapan for every millimetre of ground surface. The resulting image was then uploaded to Gigapan.com for others to examine.
Archaeologists have been drawn to the site since it was discovered. A number of well-known rock art researchers, artists and archaeologists have studied the petroglyphs including Forrest Kirkland, A.T. Jackson, Solveig Turpin, and Jim Zintgraff. The new researchers hope this digital documentation will help others better understand this amazing resource.Some of hundreds of petroglyphs and geoglyphs covering the survey area.survey area. Copyright (c) Mark Willis and The Shumla School, Inc. 2013. Extreme pole aerial photography
View the Gigapan image here: http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/136529
Once opened, click on the “Snap Shot” icon on the lower left, it will open a strip of images along the bottom. If you double click on a image it will zoom to that spot.Extreme polecam, with 2400 images covering the survey area. Copyright (c) Mark Willis and The Shumla School, Inc. 2013.
If you would like to learn more about this site or visit it, the Rock Art Foundation can help: www.rockart.org.
Copyright (c) Mark Willis and The Shumla School, Inc. 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this information and imagery may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Mark Willis or Shumla.
Source: SHUMLA and Mark WillisMore Information
- SHUMLA Archeological Research and Education Center
- Structure from Motion ( wikipedia entry)
- Lower Pecos rock art
- Solveig A. Turpin, Location, Location, Location: The Lewis Canyon Petroglyphs Plains Anthropologist , Vol. 50, No. 195 (August 2005), pp. 307-328 Published by: Plains Anthropological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25670830
SHUMLA . Lewis Canyon Petroglyph Site – Gigapan Images. Past Horizons. August 22, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/lewis-canyon-petroglyph-site-gigapan-images For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Two twelfth-century settlements a hundred kilometers apart in Arizona were apparently built by discrete cultures, but they have at least one trait in common: In each complex is a hidden, hollow compartment that once held large chunks of alien iron — fragments of a 50,000-year-old meteorite.
While it’s not clear what, if any, interaction there was between the two communities, the existence of these twin meteorite “shrines” is a connection worth investigating, says Ken Zoll.
Zoll, who researches archaeoastronomy — the study of how ancient cultures tracked celestial events — discussed the little-known meteorite caches earlier this month at the 2013 Pecos Conference, an annual meeting of Southwestern archaeologists.See on westerndigs.blogspot.co.uk
Maps made more than seventy years ago and records collected by amateur naturalists between the World Wars are providing new clues about declining pollinator numbers, ecologists have found.
By showing which land use changes have driven pollinator declines over the past 100 years, the research reveals how we could ensure future land use benefits these vital insects. The results are presented at INTECOL, the world’s largest international ecology meeting, in London this week.Analysing earliest known land use map of Britain
Using newly-developed statistical techniques, the team from Reading, Leeds and the Centre for Hydrology & Ecology analysed two sets of historical data: pollinator data from 1921-1950 based on more than half a million records collected by the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society since 1800 and now digitised; and the Dudley Stamp Land Utilisation survey from the 1930s, the earliest known land use map of Britain.
By comparing this historical data for 21 sites across England with recent pollinator records and land cover maps, they found that 85% of sites had suffered declines in pollinator species richness of between 10 and 50% over the past 80-100 years.
The results show urban landscapes might not be as detrimental to pollinator communities as previously thought; sites with an increased level of urbanisation around them show smaller declines in pollinator diversity. According to Dr Deepa Senapathi of the University of Reading: “This doesn’t mean that concrete jungles are good for pollinators, but urban environments may offer diverse forage resources in the shape of people’s gardens, parks, churchyards and green spaces which in turn could help support these insects.”Dramatic changes in land use since World War II
This is the first study of its kind to look at the impact of historic land-use change on pollinator communities in Britain. It shows that the dramatic changes in land use since World War II – in particular agricultural intensification and urbanisation – have had a significant impact on pollinator communities.
As well as helping explain how past land use change has driven pollinator declines, history offers important lessons about how to improve things in future. “Understanding the major step changes in land utilisation over the last 80-100 years provides a unique understanding of the drivers within changing land-use that might have the most significant impact on pollinator communities,” Dr Senapathi says.
In particular, pollinators would benefit from more diverse landscapes. “Based on our results it looks increasingly like sites which were predominantly heathland but are now a combination of heathland, grassland and woodland probably provide a better landscape for pollinators than a landscape with just one habitat type,” she explains.
Source: British Ecological Society (BES)More Information
British Ecological Society (BES). Pre-war insect hunters help to save our pollinators. Past Horizons. August 22, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/pre-war-insect-hunters-help-to-save-our-pollinators For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Archaeologists at York, working with colleagues in Denmark, Germany and Spain, have found evidence of the use of spices in cuisine at the transition to agriculture. The researchers discovered traces of garlic mustard on the charred remains of pottery dating back nearly 7,000 years.
The silicate remains of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) along with animal and fish residues were discovered through microfossil analysis of carbonised food deposits from pots found at sites in Denmark and Germany. The pottery dated from the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture.Silicate deposits from plants
Previously scientists have analysed starches which survive well in carbonised and non-carbonised residues to test for the use of spices in prehistoric cooking. But the new research, which is reported in PLOS ONE, suggests that the recovery of phytoliths – silicate deposits from plants — offers the additional possibility to identify leafy or woody seed material used as spices, not detectable using starch analysis. Phytoliths charred by cooking are more resilient to destruction.First direct evidence
Lead researcher Dr Hayley Saul, of the BioArCH research centre at at the University of York, said: “The traditional view is that early Neolithic and pre-Neolithic uses of plants, and the reasons for their cultivation, were primarily driven by energy requirements rather than flavour. As garlic mustard has a strong flavour but little nutritional value, and the phytoliths are found in pots with terrestrial and marine animal residues, our findings are the first direct evidence for the spicing of food in European prehistoric cuisine.
“Our evidence suggests a much greater antiquity to the spicing of foods in this region than is evident from the macrofossil record, and challenges the view that plants were exploited by hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists solely for energy requirements, rather than taste.”
Source: University of York
University of York. First direct evidence for spice in European prehistoric cuisine. Past Horizons. August 22, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/first-direct-evidence-for-spice-in-european-prehistoric-cuisine For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
California’s rich diversity of Native American ethnic-and-language groups took shape during the past 12,000 years as migrating tribes settled first on the lush Pacific coast and then in progressively drier, less-vegetated habitats, says a new University of Utah study.
“Trying to explain why linguistic diversity is high in some places and low in others has been a big issue in anthropology,” says Brian Codding, an assistant professor of anthropology and principal author of the new study, published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“For a number of years, people have shown a correlation between ecological diversity and linguistic diversity,” he adds. “What we did in this study that was different was to look at it over time – to actually see the process through which different populations came to live side-by-side as neighbours or replaced one population with another. We’re showing how the diversity actually developed over time.”University of Utah anthropologist Brian Codding has published a new study showing that Native Americans migrating to California in the past 12,000 years settled in the most lush coastal environments first, then in successively less productive inland environments and finally in the deserts of the Great Basin. The findings explain why prehistoric California was a patchwork of numerous diverse Native American ethnic groups and languages. Image: Lee J. Siegel, University of Utah
Codding conducted the research with Terry Jones, a professor of anthropology and chair of social sciences at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.Extreme diversity
In the study, the researchers wanted to determine if the suitability of ancient California habitats correlated with when and where wave after wave of Native American immigrants settled during the past 12,000 years – a geologic epoch known as the Holocene – resulting in prehistoric California’s extreme diversity of Indian ethnicities and languages.
As a proxy for the suitability of habitat, they focused on images from NASA’s Terra satellite showing California’s modern environmental productivity – known formally as net primary productivity. While the satellite images show the richness of vegetation as seen from space, they really reflect not only plant life, but also the overall richness of the environment in terms of water, plants and animals.
Then they built a map that estimated the distribution of California’s Native American groups at the time of the first contacts with Europeans during the 1700s and 1800s. The map and estimates of when various groups arrived were based on decades of linguistic, genetic and archaeological research, although Codding says the map should not be misinterpreted as representing precise tribal boundaries.This map shows the rich diversity of Native American ethnic and language groups in California at the time of first contacts with Europeans in the 1700s and 1800s. The Native Americans settled California during the past 12,000 years, inhabiting the most environmentally productive coastal environments first and then settling in progressively less productive ecosystems farther inland. The legend on the right shows the major language groups, each of which was spoken by multiple tribes. This map is based on decades of linguistic, genetic and archaeological research and should not be misinterpreted as representing precise tribal boundaries. Image: Brian Codding, University of Utah Richest ecosystems are settled first
Codding and Jones found that modern environmental productivity – which hasn’t changed much in millennia – predicts the order in which nine, major, prehistoric Native American ethnolinguistic groups migrated to California and colonized the state:
During the Early Holocene, roughly 12,000 to 8,000 years ago, the earliest settlers colonized the most suitable, lush habitats along the Pacific coast, particularly estuaries and river mouths. This is consistent with an earlier hypothesis that coastlines were settled first as prehistoric people migrated to the New World. The Early Holocene migrants included the Chumash, Yukian and some Hokan language groups. (Each language group includes multiple tribe names.)Marginal habitats
During the Middle Holocene, about 8,000 to 4,000 years ago, “migrants settled in more marginal habitats,” taking up residence farther and farther east in moderately productive inland habitats: California’s Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada. These people included the noncoastal Hokan speakers as well as people who left the Great Basin and fragmented and displaced the Hokan speakers: the Yok-Utian, Takic and Wintuan-Maiduan language groups.Occupied relatively unproductive deserts
During the last 1,000 years of the Late Holocene, which began 4,000 years ago, some progressively inland colonization continued, with the Numic language group occupying relatively unproductive deserts of southeast California and the Great Basin, including parts of Nevada and Utah. But the pattern also changed somewhat, with some new migrants – the Algic and Athabaskan language groups – replacing lower-density populations in some coastal habitats. That may have happened because the newcomers used more intensive fishing and hunting methods – nets and weirs, and bows and arrows – and outcompeted earlier residents who used hooks, lines and spears.Population replacement
“The final native people who came to California during the last 1,000 years – for whatever reason seem to have displaced people who had been in some of these highly productive places along the coast, particularly the northwest coast of California, from Mendocino north to Oregon,” Codding says.
He says there is no evidence of violence during such population replacements, but that the researchers believe the later immigrants, such as Athabaskans, had developed a concept of private property and laid claim to coastal river mouths, where they would camp and intensively fish salmon.
“That allowed them to occupy the landscape at higher densities than people who were there before,” and then to stay there for millennia, Codding says.Shaping a patchwork of language and ethnic groups
The replacement of earlier coastal populations with later ones resulted in “fragmentation of earlier groups and the development of one of the most diverse ethnolinguistic patterns in the Americas,” Codding and Jones write. “Such a process may account of the distribution of ethnolinguistic diversity worldwide.”
Codding says: “We can use these general results to try to understand how ethnic diversity builds over time in different areas. … If you look across the world, some places have a lot of different language families within a small area – New Guinea, for example – and others like the Great Basin just have one [Numic, used by Utes, Piutes and Shoshone peoples]. It suggests that where we see a lot of ecological diversity, migration patterns probably should result in the buildup of linguistic diversity.
“In a place like California, you have a great amount of ecological diversity that allowed some places to have a higher density of people and others to have a lower density of people,” he adds.
The researchers conclude the study by saying their approach “may aid in the explanation of prehistoric hunter-gatherer migrations across the globe, including the initial spread of people out of Africa into Europe, Asia and across to Australia-New Guinea.”
The general pattern that migrating groups occupy successively less productive habitats – resulting in high language diversity in lush environments and low diversity in desert environments – can be complicated by other factors, including marriage between groups, network of trade and warfare, Codding says.
He and Jones write that in areas other than North America and Australia-New Guinea, the more recent migrations of agricultural peoples erased the linguistic histories of earlier hunter-gatherers. But Codding and Jones say that using archaeological methods as well as the environmental productivity approach eventually may “help to elucidate why and how humans spread across the planet, creating a patchwork of linguistic and ethnic diversity.”
Source: University of UtahMore Information
- Environmental productivity predicts migration, demographic, and linguistic patterns in prehistoric California – PNAS
University of Utah. Settlement patterns of early Californians. Past Horizons. August 21, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/settlement-patterns-of-early-californians For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Researchers from Tel Aviv University have unearthed the remains of massive ancient fortifications built around an Iron-Age Assyrian harbour in present-day Israel.
At the heart of the well-preserved fortifications is a mud-brick wall up to more than 12 feet wide and 15 feet high. The wall is covered in layers of mud and sand that stretch for hundreds of feet on either side. When they were built in the eighth century B.C.E., the fortifications formed a daunting crescent-shaped defence for an inland area covering more than 17 acres.
The finding comes at the end of the first excavation season at the Ashdod-Yam archaeological dig in the contemporary Israeli coastal city of Ashdod, just south of Tel Aviv. Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of TAU’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures is leading the project on behalf of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology.
Part of the 8th century BCE mud-brick defensive wall. Image: Philip Sapirstein
“The fortifications appear to protect an artificial harbour,” says Fantalkin. “If so, this would be a discovery of international significance, the first known harbour of this kind in our corner of the Levant.”Under Assyrian rule
When the fortifications were built, the Assyrians ruled the southeastern part of the Mediterranean basin, including parts of Africa and the Middle East. Assyrian inscriptions reveal that at the end of the century, Yamani, the rebel king of Ashdod, led a rebellion against Sargon II, the king of the Assyrian Empire. The Kingdom of Judah, under King Hezekiah, rejected Yamani’s call to join the insurrection.
The Assyrians responded harshly to the rebellion, eventually destroying Philistine Ashdod. As a result, power shifted to the nearby area of Ashdod-Yam, where the TAU excavations are taking place. The fortifications seem to be related to these events, but it is not yet clear exactly how. They could have been built before or after the Ashdod rebellion was put down, either at the initiative of the locals or at the orders of the Assyrians.
“An amazing amount of time and energy was invested in building the wall and glacis [embankments],” says Fantalkin.Later buildings
More recent ruins — from the Hellenistic period, between the fourth and second centuries B.C.E. — were also found on top of the sand of the Iron Age fortifications. The buildings and walls were apparently built after the fortifications were abandoned and then probably destroyed by an earthquake in the second half of the second century B.C.E. Among the unusually well-preserved ruins were artefacts, including coins and weights.
The researchers employed a powerful new digital technique, photogrammetry, to create a 3D reconstruction of all the features of the excavation. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln provided the equipment. Dr. Philip Sapirstein, a postdoctoral fellow at TAU, served as a digital surveyor on the project.
The only archaeological work done previously at Ashdod-Yam was a series of exploratory digs led by late Israeli archaeologist Dr. Jacob Kaplan on behalf of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Museum of Antiquities between 1965 and 1968. Kaplan believed the Ashdod rebels built the fortifications in anticipation of an Assyrian attack, but Fantalkin says the construction appears too impressive to have been done under such circumstances.
Source: Tel Aviv UniversityMore Information
Tel Aviv University. Massive ancient fortifications found at Ashdod-Yam. Past Horizons. August 21, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/massive-ancient-fortifications-found-at-ashdod-yam For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Bulgarian archaeologists digging at the site of a former medieval fortress on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast claim to have found a well-preserved poison ring.
The find, at Cape Kaliakra near the town of Kavarna, is the first of its kind in Bulgaria, according to the head of the dig and deputy director of the National Archaeology Institute and Museum in Sofia, Boni Petrunova.
The bronze ring has a small compartment embedded in the bezel, the part of a ring that holds jewels but could also conceal substances such as poison, which could be dropped into a foe’s food or drink.
The find could be proof that poison was used for murder, likely politically-motivated, during that period of Bulgarian history.
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Amateur cavers have mapped a vast network of tunnels underneath Hadrian’s Villa outside Rome, leading archaeologists to radically revise their views of one of ancient Rome’s most imposing imperial retreats.
Lowering themselves through light shafts found in fields around the 120-hectare (296-acre) site, local speleologists have charted more than a mile of road tunnels – passages where, in the second century, oxen pulled carts loaded with luxury foods for banquets and thousands of slaves scurried from palace to palace, well out of sight of the emperor.
“These tunnels lead us to understand that Hadrian’s Villa was organised less like a villa and more like a city,” said Benedetta Adembri, the director of the site, who is planning, in the autumn, to open stretches of the tunnels to the public for the first time.
Never an emperor to do things by half – his idea of homeland security was to build a wall across the top of England – Hadrian built his country hideaway near modern-day Tivoli to escape the noise and crowds of Rome, but managed to take half the city with him.
Archaeologists have identified 30 buildings, including palaces, thermal baths, a theatre and libraries, as well as gardens and dozens of fountains.
“We think the villa covered up to 250 hectares but we still don’t know the limits,” said Abembri.
Abandoned after the fall of the Roman empire, the villa was taken apart piece by piece over the centuries, with one local cardinal stripping off marble to build his own villa nearby in the 16th century, leaving weed infested ruins.
That is where an Italian association of archaeo-speleologists, equipped with ropes, and remote-controlled camera mounted vehicles, has entered the fray, exploring the pristine tunnels under the site, as well as the nine miles of sewers and water pipes hooked up to the local aqueducts.
“What we are exploring is, to a certain extent, the real villa, because the tunnels will show us where the confines of the property really are,” said Marco Placidi, an amateur caver, who has led the search.
Although experts have long known that tunnels snaked under the property, Placidi’s team was the first to drop through light shafts to wander through them. They have mapped a main tunnel, 2.40 metres (7ft) wide, which runs more than half a mile to a circular spur, about 700 metres long which could been used to turn one-way carts.
A sea shell from the Red Sea, possibly used as decoration in the villa, is among the discoveries form the site.
Most importantly, the cavers stumbled upon the entrance to an uncharted tunnel, double the width, at five metres, that could accommodate two-way traffic. It is presently packed with soil almost to the roof.
“We have tried to squeeze in on our stomachs but we still don’t know where it goes and it could lead to buildings we know nothing about,” said Vittoria Fresi, an archaeologist who has worked with Placidi.
Placidi, who also worked on restoring tunnels under Rome’s Caracalla baths, said: “People are increasingly going underground at Roman sites to better understand the Romans.”
Hadrian, a soldier and poet, lauded for his “vast and active genius” by the British historian Edward Gibbon, started his wall across England in the year 122 to keep out invaders. He was also rebuilding the Pantheon in Rome, and had ordered a 900-seat arts area in the centre of Rome, which was unearthed last year.
He was a stickler for privacy. After bringing thousands of slaves and functionaries with him to his new villa, he surrounded his personal quarters with a circular moat, still evident today, with access by a bridge.
“Hadrian was obsessed with solitude. He went to Tivoli to get it but was surrounded by people,” said Placidi. “That could help explain why he put so much of the life of the villa underground.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
The Faroe Islands were colonised much earlier than previously believed, and it wasn’t by the Vikings, according to new research. New archaeological evidence places human colonisation in the 4th to 6th centuries AD, at least 300-500 years earlier than previously demonstrated.
The research, directed by Dr Mike J Church from Durham University and Símun V Arge from the National Museum of the Faroe Islands as part of the multidisciplinary project “Heart of the Atlantic”, is published in the Quaternary Science Reviews.
The research challenges the nature, scale and timing of human settlement of the wider North Atlantic region and has implications for the colonisation of similar island groups across the world.First stepping stone beyond Shetland
The Faroes were the first stepping stone beyond Shetland for the dispersal of European people across the North Atlantic that culminated on the shores of continental North America in the 11th century AD, about 500 years before Columbus made his famous voyage.
The research was carried out on an archaeological site at Á Sondum on the island of Sandoy.
Analysis showed an extensive windblown sand deposit containing patches of burnt peat ash from human activity, dating human settlement to pre-Viking phases. These ash spreads contained barley grains which were accidentally burnt in domestic hearths and were then spread by humans onto the windblown sand surface during the 4th-6th centuries and 6th-8th centuries, a common practice identified in the North Atlantic during this period to control wind erosion.Unknown colonisers
Lead author Dr Mike Church, from Durham University’s Department of Archaeology, said: “There is now firm archaeological evidence for the human colonisation of the Faroes by people some 300-500 years before the large scale Viking colonisation of the 9th century AD, although we don’t yet know who these people were or where they came from.
“The majority of archaeological evidence for this early colonisation is likely to have been destroyed by the major Viking invasion, explaining the lack of proof found in the Faroes for the earlier settlement. This also raises questions about the timing of human activity on other islands systems where similarly evidence may have been destroyed.”
Co-author, Símun V Arge from the National Museum of the Faroe Islands, said: “Although we don’t know who the people were that settled here and where they came from, it is clear that they did prepare peat for use, by cutting, drying and burning it which indicates they must have stayed here for some time.
“We now have to digest these dates of this early evidence in relation to other sources and consider whether there may be other similar sites, elsewhere on the islands, which may be able to provide us with further structural archaeological evidence.”
Source: University of Durham
- Dr Mike Church
- The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands, Church M.J., et al, published in Quaternary Science Reviews
University of Durham. Faroe Islands were colonised before the Vikings arrived. Past Horizons. August 20, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/faroe-islands-were-colonised-before-the-vikings-arrived For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Researchers have shown that ancient Egyptian iron beads held at the UCL Petrie Museum were hammered from pieces of meteorites, rather than iron ore. The objects, which trace their origins to outer space, also predate the emergence of iron smelting by two millennia.
Carefully hammered into thin sheets before being rolled into tubes, the nine beads – which are over 5000 years-old – were originally strung into a necklace together with other exotic minerals such as gold and gemstones, revealing the high value of this exotic material in ancient times. The study is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.The nine beads – which are over 5000 years-old – were originally strung into a necklace together with other exotic minerals such as gold and gemstones: UCL Petrie Museum/Rob Eagle Mastered the smithing of meteoritic iron
Professor Thilo Rehren (UCL Archaeology, Qatar), lead author of the paper, said: “The shape of the beads was obtained by smithing and rolling, most likely involving multiple cycles of hammering, and not by the traditional stone-working techniques such as carving or drilling which were used for the other beads found in the same tomb.”
The team’s results show that in the fourth millennium BC metalworkers had already mastered the smithing of meteoritic iron, an iron-nickel alloy much harder and more brittle than the more commonly worked copper, developing techniques that went on to define the iron age.The beads were excavated in 1911, in a pre-dynastic cemetery near the village of el-Gerzeh in Lower Egypt. Imkage: UCL Petrie Museum/Rob Eagle
As a result metalworkers had already nearly two millennia of experience of working with meteoritic iron when iron smelting was introduced in the mid-second millennium BC. This knowledge was essential for the development of iron smelting and the production of iron from iron ore, enabling iron to replace copper and bronze as the main metals used.
Excavated in 1911, in a pre-dynastic cemetery near the village of el-Gerzeh in Lower Egypt, the beads were already completely corroded when they were discovered. As a result, the team used x-ray methods to determine whether the beads were actually meteoric iron, and not magnetite, which can often be mistaken to be corroded iron due to similar properties.
By scanning the beads with beam of neutrons and gamma-rays, the team were able to reveal the unique texture and also high concentration of nickel, cobalt, phosphorous and germanium – which is only found in trace amounts in iron derived from ore – that is characteristics of meteoric iron, without having to attempt invasive analysis which could potentially damage these rare objects.
Professor Rehren said: “The really exciting outcome of this research is that we were for the first time able to demonstrate conclusively that there are typical trace elements such as cobalt and germanium present in these beads, at levels that only occur in meteoritic iron.
“We are also excited to be able to see the internal structure of the beads, revealing how they were rolled and hammered into form. This is very different technology from the usual stone bead drilling, and shows quite an advanced understanding of how the metal smiths worked this rather difficult material.”
Source: University College London
- 5,000 years old Egyptian iron beads made from hammered meteoritic iron – Journal of Archaeological Science
University College London. Ancient Egyptian beads made from meteorites. Past Horizons. August 20, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2013/ancient-egyptian-beads-made-from-meteorites For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
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