Sarah Palin's presence in the lower 48 means the Arctic ice cap can finally return.

calendar   Wednesday - April 04, 2012

Biggest And Oldest Redhead Ever!

Well-preserved strawberry-blond mammoth discovered in Siberia


A juvenile mammoth, nicknamed “Yuka,” was found entombed in Siberian ice near the shores of the Arctic Ocean and shows signs of being cut open by ancient people.

The remarkably well preserved frozen carcass was discovered in Siberia as part of a BBC/Discovery Channel-funded expedition and is believed to be at least 10,000 years old, if not older.

If further study confirms the preliminary findings, it would be the first mammoth carcass revealing signs of human interaction in the region.

The carcass is in such good shape that much of its flesh is still intact, retaining its pink color. The blonde-red hue of Yuka’s woolly coat also remains.


“It appears that Yuka was pursued by one or more lions or another large field, judging from deep, unhealed scratches in the hide and bite marks on the tail,” [curator and director of the University of Michigan’s Museum of Paleontology Daniel] Fisher said. “Yuka then apparently fell, breaking one of the lower hind legs. At this point, humans may have moved in to control the carcass, butchering much of the animal and removing parts that they would use immediately.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/04/2012 at 04:50 PM   
Filed Under: • AnimalsArcheology / Anthropology •  
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calendar   Thursday - March 08, 2012

Ozymandius Undiminished

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1817

Senakht-en-Re Tao 1: Proof Found He Did Exist


A New Pharaoh was discovered, The Royal name of the 17th Dynasty at Karnak Temple

During his visit yesterday to Karnak temple, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim(Minister state of Antiquities) announced the discovery of a new pharaoh’s name from the 17th dynasty that was not known to Egyptologists which helps in revealing the chronological order of the Kings of this dynasty.

It was the IFAO mission headed by Christophe Thiers that found a limestone door at the north of Amon’s temple dated back to 17th dynasty with hieroglyphics inscriptions and a royal cartouche bears the name of a King that didn’t appear before in ancient Egyptian history and the name is “Sen Nakht N’ Ra”

A new king has been added to the long list of ancient pharaohs, the Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, announced this week.

The king’s name, Senakht-en-Re, emerged from the engraved remains of a limestone door found by a French-Egyptian team‭ ‬in the Temple of Karnak complex on Luxor’s east bank.

The archaeologists, led by French Egyptologist Christophe Thiers, of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), unearthed a fragmented lintel and an imposing door jamb during routine excavation at the temple of Ptah.

Belonging to an administrative structure dating to the enigmatic 17th Dynasty (about 1634-1543 BC) the limestone remains featured hieroglyphics which indicated that the door was dedicated to Amun-Re.‭

“They also revealed who ordered the construction of this structure. It was the pharaoh Senakht-en-Re,” said a CNRS statement.

Mentioned in only three documents written one or two centuries after his reign, ‬Senakht-en-Re is regarded as one of the most obscure kings of the 17th dynasty.

No objects or monuments had ever been found bearing his name, and his tomb has yet to be discovered.

“We knew nothing‭ of this pharaoh - ‬until now. These remains are the first contemporary document of this king ever discovered in Egypt,” the CNRS said.

Hieroglyphics engraved on the doorway marked it as dedicated to the deity Amun-Re. They also contain the cartouche of the pharaoh who ordered the construction: Senakht-en-Re.

Accompanying his name are the three main titles given Egyptian pharaohs — Horus, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Son of Ra — which leave no doubt that the Senakht-en-Re name belongs to a king. The cartouche and titles, carved during his lifetime, prove that he existed and rewrites the chronology of the period.

(translated) This is the first contemporary account of this king ever discovered. His name was previously known only by three documents written posthumous one to two centuries after his reign, during the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties (ca. 1543-1186 BC.): Sénakht-en-Re was considered by the ancient Egyptians themselves as one of the ancestors of the founders of the New Kingdom rulers. But the location of his grave, which was most likely on the west bank of Thebes, remains unknown.


the lintel being raised from those lone and level sands

This is a great bit of news for fans of ancient Egypt, and I’m sure the ba of old Sen is invigorated, going from doubted obscurity for 3700 years to worldwide belief in just a matter of days. He was real, he was king, he did exist, and the king lists weren’t making it up. Good for him. Perhaps someday some texts will turn up and be translated that can tell us what he actually did or who he really was. And who knows, someday maybe old Zahi Hawass will take credit for somebody else’s finding of his tomb.


Quick re-cap of ancient Egyptian history for this time period: Egypt was invaded and conquered by an army of foreigners around this time, people known to us as the Hyksos. They won the war primarily because of superior technology: they had horse drawn chariots, and neither horses nor the wheel had yet been invented in Egypt. We’re talking a really really long time ago. The invasion destroyed the existing government, disrupted the staid Egyptian way of life, and ended the current dynastic succession. Such a breakdown in society had happened once centuries before, so this upheaval became known as the Second Intermediate Period. The Hyksos never fully conquered Egypt, and the southern end of the nation continued to be ruled by little kings associated with, but not descended from the earlier pharaohs. The cultural and political capital had been the city of Thebes, so these rulers are known as the Theban kings. The country was at war for a century or more, so kings didn’t last terribly long, nor did they all rule over the entire south. There may have been more than one of them at any given time. Society was shattered; even though they tried to keep the whole royal court thing going, it didn’t always work. So the King Lists of that era (the Egyptians were big on records and lists, especially the ones that told posterity how great they were) are both fragmentary and academically suspect.

It is highly likely that Senakht-en-Re (rough translation Sen, the continuing life of the god Re) was most likely Senakthtenre Tao 1, and probably the father of Seqenenra Tao II. These were warrior kings, real ones. Tao II’s mummy was found; he had been killed in battle by horrendous head wounds.

It would take another couple of generations before the Hyksos menace was overcome, but when it was Egypt went back to being fat and happy, and thus the 18th Dynasty came about and the beginning of a new era we now call the New Kingdom. 3600 years ago. Egypt defines the meaning of old.

For those who use King Tut as their axial point for all things pharaonic, Tut, his father/uncle Akhenaten aka Amenhotep IV (died 1334 BC) and his queen Nefertiti, and grandfather Amenhotep III all lived near the end of the 18th Dynasty. It was Akhenaten who elevated the sun god (Re aka Ra became the visible disk of the sun, Aten, the god embodied) to prominence, dominance and singularity, and because of this history credits him with inventing monotheism. The people quickly revolted and that was the end of him and his tranny ass. The New Kingdom was Egypt at its finest, when they ruled from Turkey down to Somalia, and westward into Libya several hundred miles further than today’s border. The New Kingdom lasted for about 500 years, with the last pharaoh of that age being Ramses XI, 20th dynasty, no relation to Ramses The Great - Ramses II - the 19th Dynasty king that ruled forever and left all those great statues behind for us to be amazed at. [ Actually, almost all the 20th Dynasty kings called themselves Ramses, because the culture was once again in decline and the people were pining for the old days, so the kings took that name and hoped to garner some of the grandeur that II had really had. Kind of like Obama comparing himself - and only halfway through his first term no less - to Washington, Lincoln, and FDR. A bit of audacity and hope: many of the later Ramses pharaohs only ruled for 5 or 6 years before getting the chop. ] After the New Kingdom came another messy Intermediate Period, followed by the Late Kingdom. But it was too late for this very Egypt, and the light of Ra was dimmed over the great empire of Kemet, the Black Land. Cleopatra was the last independent ruler, but after she made an asp of herself Egypt became a satrapy of Rome.

Ok, so now we’ve had a good bit of archaeology. And it is Thursday. So you know what that means.

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/08/2012 at 02:08 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - January 17, 2012

help wanted: really bad housekeeper

Darwin’s Lost Fossils Found

Missing specimens were in a cabinet in a room that hadn’t been cleaned in 165 years

Dr. Howard Falcon-Lang, a paleontologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, said Tuesday that he stumbled upon the glass slides containing the fossils in an old wooden cabinet that had been shoved in a “gloomy corner” of the massive, drafty British Geological Survey.
The first slide pulled out of the dusty corner at the British Geological Survey turned out to be one of the specimens collected by Darwin during his famous expedition on the HMS Beagle, which changed the young Cambridge graduate’s career and laid the foundation for his subsequent work on evolution.

Falcon-Lang said the unearthed fossils — lost for 165 years — show there is more to learn from a period of history scientists thought they knew well.

“To find a treasure trove of lost Darwin specimens from the Beagle voyage is just extraordinary,” Falcon-Lang added. “We can see there’s more to learn. There are a lot of very, very significant fossils in there that we didn’t know existed.”
The discovery was made in April, but it has taken “a long time” to figure out the provenance of the slides and photograph all of them, Falcon-Lang said. The slides have now been photographed and will be made available to the public through a new online museum exhibit opening Tuesday.

Falcon-Lang expects great scientific papers to emerge from the discovery.

“There are some real gems in this collection that are going to contribute to ongoing science.”

Dr. John Ludden, executive director of the Geological Survey, called the find a “remarkable” discovery.

“It really makes one wonder what else might be hiding in our collections,” he said.

Truly. It makes me wonder just what miracles would turn up if just one person was set to work with a feather duster. I bet their windows are just about crusted black too.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/17/2012 at 09:44 PM   
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calendar   Monday - January 16, 2012

archaeologists find another tomb in egypt

Of the three papers we got today, this was the only one the story appeared in. And then with no photos.
But I’m still fascinated by this and hope they publish photos.
If archaeologists are still finding things after all this time, I can just imagine how much more there has to be.

We had a friend (passed away in May last year) who lived in Egypt. She was born there of English parents. She had photos on her walls of some of these sights, and always mentioned how sad it is that the folks there have built so close to the pyramids. Lots of commercial activity etc. and the sights were no longer she said, as impressive as they once were.

She was an interesting lady and I’m so darn sorry I never brought a recorder with me as I had so many opportunities.  And she used to visit here when the mil was alive. Anyway, her name was Edna, and her father was the last private tailor to the former King Farouk.  Who was as bad as history says he was. Not a nice person at all. Well, she was one of those people who hoard things and can throw nothing away. Not even dry and dead ball point pens. Anything that came through her front door remained with her. And she subscribed to everything advertised. Like Readers Digest. She was on a mailing list and I guess she had nothing else to spend her pension on.  Anyway, she mentioned a scrapbook a few times but I never got to see the darn thing cause she couldn’t find it among the piles of “stuff” everywhere.  Her sitting room was the only place that was mostly clear of stuff.  But we never did locate that scrapbook. Now that would have been quite a find.

Archaeologists discover tomb of female singer in Valley of the Kings

Archaeologists from Egypt and Switzerland have unearthed the 1,100-year-old tomb of a female singer in the Valley of the Kings.

It is the only tomb of a woman not related to the ancient Egyptian royal families ever found there, said Mansour Boraiq, the top government official for the antiquities ministry in the city of Luxor,

The Valley of the Kings in Luxor is a major tourist attraction. In 1922, archaeologists there unearthed the gold funeral mask of Tutankhamun and other stunning items in the tomb of the king who ruled more than 3,000 years ago.

Mr Boraiq told reporters that the coffin of the female singer is remarkably intact.

He said that when the coffin is opened this week, Egyptian and Swiss archaeologists will likely find a mummy and a cartonnage mask molded to her face and made from layers of linen and plaster.

The singer’s name, Nehmes Bastet, means she was believed to be protected by the feline deity Bastet.

The tomb was found by accident, according to Elina Paulin-Grothe, field director for excavation at the Valley of the Kings with Switzerland’s University of Basel.

“We were not looking for new tombs. It was close to another tomb that was discovered 100 years ago.”

The field director said the tomb was not originally built for the female singer, but was reused for her 400 years after the original one, based on artifacts found inside. Archaeologists do not know whom the tomb was originally intended for.

The coffin of the singer belonged to the daughter of a high priest during the 22nd Dynasty.

Archaeologists concluded from artifacts that she sang in Karnak Temple, one of the most famous and largest open-air sites from the Pharaonic era, according to evidence at the site.

At the time of her death, Egypt was ruled by Libyan kings, but the high priests who ruled Thebes, which is now within the city of Luxor, were independent. Their authority enabled them to use the royal cemetery for family members, according to Mr Boraiq.

The unearthing marks the 64th tomb to be discovered in the Valley of the Kings.



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/16/2012 at 05:39 PM   
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calendar   Friday - January 06, 2012

found in mud, roman coin 2,000 yrs old and made for brothels

This article will speak for itself.  Besides which, I’m not up to much in the way of words at the moment.  Washer button on the fritz and I can’t seem to dislodge the damn thing so one feature doesn’t work.  The feature being a shorter wash cycle by 40 minutes.  Otherwise the damn thing runs for two and a half hours.
Called someone yesterday but repair ppl here have this really shitty habit of not returning calls. So have to find someone else.
Anyway, this is quite a story. 

The coin would be about the size of an American quarter.

Roman brothel token discovered in Thames

A Roman coin that was probably used by soldiers to pay for sex in brothels has been discovered on the banks of the River Thames.


Made from bronze and smaller than a ten pence piece, the coin depicts a man and a woman engaged in an intimate act.

Experts believe it is the first example of its kind to be found in Britain. It lay preserved in mud for almost 2,000 years until it was unearthed by an amateur archaeologist with a metal detector.

On the reverse of the token is the numeral XIIII, which historians say could indicate that the holder handed over 14 small Roman coins called asses to buy it. This would have been the equivalent of one day’s pay for a labourer in the first century AD.

The holder would then have taken the token to one of the many Londinium brothels and handed it to a sex slave in exchange for the act depicted on the coin.
The token was found by pastry chef Regis Cursan, 37, who made the discovery near Putney Bridge in West London.

He told the Daily Mail yesterday: “The day I made the find it was a very low, early tide and raining heavily. At first I thought it was a Roman coin, because of the thickness and diameter.

“When I rubbed the sand off the artefact the first thing I saw was the number on one side and what I thought was a goddess on the other. Little did I know at the time it was actually a rare Roman brothel token. To find something like that is a truly exciting find.”

The token has been donated to the Museum of London, where it will be on display for the next three months. Curator Caroline McDonald said: “This is the only one of its kind ever to be found in Great Britain.

“When we realised it was a saucy picture, we had a bit of a giggle but there’s also a sad story behind it because these prostitutes were slaves.
“It has resonance with modern-day London because people are still being sold into the sex trade.”

The object, dated to around the first century AD, was protected from corrosion by the mud. Similar tokens have been found elsewhere in the Roman Empire, but this is the first time one has been unearthed in the UK.

Some historians believe the Romans invented prostitution in the modern sense.
It played a significant part in the empire’s economy – with sex workers required to register with the local authorities and even pay tax.



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/06/2012 at 12:02 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - January 05, 2012

Pickaxes Instead of Banjos

Dueling Archaeologists

dee da dow dow, dow dow, dee da dow ...


Could this be an ancient redneck Mayan pyramid?

Mayan Ruins in Georgia? Archeologist Objects

The textbooks will tell you that the Mayan people thrived in Central America from about 250 to 900 A.D., building magnificent temples in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and southern Mexico.

But could they possibly have left stone ruins in the mountains of North Georgia? Richard Thornton thinks so. He says he’s an architect by training, but has been researching the history of native people in and around Georgia for years. On, he wrote about an 1,100-year-old archeological site near Georgia’s highest mountain, Brasstown Bald, that he said “is possibly the site of the fabled city of Yupaha, which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto failed to find in 1540.”

This might all be fairly arcane stuff, except that an archeologist he cited, Mark Williams of the University of Georgia, took exception. In the comments section after Thornton’s piece, he wrote, “I am the archaeologist Mark Williams mentioned in this article. This is total and complete bunk. There is no evidence of Maya in Georgia. Move along now.

And thus were the comment flames ignited. Facebook wars. Twitter ambushes. This little tale went viral. Is it true? Is it possible? Is this all just a La Raza plot to now try to demand the East Coast as well?

Ruins in Georgia mountains show evidence of Maya connection

In 1839, English architect, Frederick Catherwood, and writer, John Stephens “rediscovered’ the Maya civilization on a two-year journey through southern Mexico.  When their book on the journey was published in 1841, readers in Europe and North America were astounded that the indigenous peoples of the Americas could produce such an advanced culture.  Architects in both continents immediately recognized the strong similarity in the architectural forms and town plans between southern Mexico and the Southeastern United States. Most agronomists were convinced that corn, beans and tobacco came to the natives of the United States and Canada from Mexico. 

In the decades since Catherwood’s and Stephens’ book, archaeologists have not identified any ruins in the United States which they considered to be built by a people who had originated in Mexico.  This was primarily due to their unfamiliarity with the descendants of the Southeastern mound-builders—tribes such as the Creeks, Alabamas, Natchez, Chitimachas and Choctaws.  In particular, the languages of the Creek Indians contain many Mesoamerican words.

Historians, architects and archaeologists have speculated for 170 years what happened to the Maya people

Follow the last link above to read Thorton’s thesis. But he isn’t just pointing a flint bladed heart removing knife at Georgia; he thinks the Mayans set up shop in Florida and North Carolina too!

This is how actual science works. Some old idea gets entrenched, and then some day somebody comes along with a new idea. Then they fight like cats for several generations, and if the new idea has actual merit and can take on all comers and still stand tall, when the dust settles everyone pretends that that’s what they all believed the whole time anyway, and everyone gets back to the serious business of drinking beer, chasing co-ed tail, and securing their next government grant.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/05/2012 at 08:44 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - December 22, 2011

Quarry Query: Found the Fount, Finally

Stone Age Stonehenge Stone Source Sussed

Origin of Stonehenge rocks discovered

Experts say they have confirmed for the first time the precise origin of some of the rocks at Stonehenge.

It has long been suspected that rhyolites from the northern Preseli Hills helped build the monument.

But research by National Museum Wales and Leicester University has identified their source to within 70m (230ft) of Craig Rhos-y-felin, near Pont Saeson.

The museum’s Dr Richard Bevins said the find would help experts work out how the stones were moved to Wiltshire.

For nine months Dr Bevins, keeper of geology at National Museum Wales, and Dr Rob Ixer of Leicester University collected and identified samples from rock outcrops in Pembrokeshire to try to find the origins of rhyolite debitage rocks that can be found at Stonehenge.

By detailing the mineral content and the textural relationships within the rock, a process known as petrography, they found that 99% of the samples could be matched to rocks found in this particular set of outcrops.

Rhyolitic rocks at Rhos-y-felin, between Ffynnon-groes (Crosswell) and Brynberian, differ from all others in south Wales, they said, which helps locate almost all of Stonehenge’s rhyolites to within hundreds of square metres.

The National Museum Wales and Leicester University have identified the source as Craig Rhos-y-felin, located more than 100 miles from the Stonehenge site. But this discovery, of course, just opens on to another mystery--namely, just how and why an ancient culture carved and transported the giant stones over such a great distance.

“Being able to provenance any archaeologically significant rock so precisely is remarkable,” Dr. Rob Ixer of Leicester University told the BBC. “However, given continued perseverance, we are determined that we shall uncover the origins of most, if not all of the Stonehenge bluestones so allowing archaeologists to continue their speculations well into a third century.”

For the stones getting there, I don’t think the how is really all that hard to figure out. Use a whole bunch of giant logs to lever the stones out of the ground and then roll them downhill to the nearest river, which is right there, then tie the logs together to make a raft and carry them to the sea, which is only a couple miles away. Then it’s time for a bit of a boat ride, rafting them out and around to get to the Salisbury Plain. Once back on shore the rafts turn back into rollers, and a small army of folks pushes them along.

It’s the why part we’ve been wondering for ages. Still no answers there I’m afraid.

Did the days shift somehow? This is an A&R Thursday post, and it’s only Tuesday. Ah, I know, I’ll date it forward, so it shows up at the right place and time. Save me a bit of work then.

OK, that’s a pretty interesting “A” bit(yawn?) . What about some “&R”?

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/22/2011 at 05:01 AM   
Filed Under: • Archeology / AnthropologyEye-Candy •  
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calendar   Thursday - December 08, 2011

A & R Thursday: Bewitching

‘Witch’s cottage’ unearthed near Pendle Hill, Lancashire


Engineers have said they were “stunned” to unearth a 17th Century cottage, complete with a mummified cat, during a construction project in Lancashire.

The cottage was discovered near Lower Black Moss reservoir in the village of Barley, in the shadow of Pendle Hill.

Archaeologists brought in by United Utilities to survey the area found the building under a grass mound.

Historians are now speculating that the well-preserved cottage could have belonged to one of the Pendle witches.

The building contained a sealed room, with a mummified cat bricked into the wall.

It is believed the cat was buried alive to protect the cottage’s inhabitants from evil spirits.

Simon Entwistle, an expert on the Pendle Witches, said: “Cats feature prominently in folklore about witches. Whoever consigned this cat to such a horrible fate was clearly seeking protection from evil spirits.

“We’re just a few months away from the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch trials, and here we have an incredibly rare find, which could well be the famous Malkin Tower.”

The tower was said to be the site of a notorious meeting between the witches on Good Friday in 1612.

Frank Giecco, from NP Archaeology, who unearthed the building, said: “It’s like discovering your own little Pompeii. We rarely get the opportunity to work with something so well preserved.
The remains of the building The engineering project has been put on hold while archaeologists investigate the site

“As soon as we started digging, we found the tops of doors, and knew we were on to something special.

“The building is a microcosm for the rise and fall of this area, from the time of the Pendle witches to the industrial age. There are layers of local history right before your eyes.”

The engineering project has been put on hold while the archaeologists complete their investigation of the site.

For us Yanks unedumacated in English history, the Pendle Witches outdid our Salem witches by about 5 to 1. Not only were there lots more of them, they were put on trial a good 2 decades before the Salem trials, and at least as many were put to death. And the evidence against them was even flimsier; you can’t even blame hallucinogenic moldy bread.

Pratchett fans, follow the Pendle Witches link and look at the names. I did not realize that the book old Terry wrote with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens, was sort of a tribute to these folks, but then I don’t spend my life looking up every last little thing. But the names from history sure set bells a-ringing. Agnes Nutter, Anathema Device ... I don’t know who the WitchFinder, General or otherwise, was during the Pendle affair. And T.P. wins “most wretched joke ever” for the “I call my junky old car Dick Turpin” routine in that book.

Whatever. Very interesting that the cottage and/or the tower is still standing. I would have thought they would’ve been burned.

Speaking of things bewitching ...

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/08/2011 at 06:36 PM   
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calendar   Friday - September 16, 2011

Changing Your Perceptions

While Peiper enjoys a bit of vacation, I’ll do what I can to run a few stories from Europe and the UK. “Enjoys” might be a bit sarcastic - he emailed me that the flight out was exhausting, and a big hassle with INS and airport security. Funny how some of these stories from Over There are really about things happening Over Here, but our news tends to be awfully thinned out; a lot of the interesting bits get lost along the way.

Dinosaurs With Feathers On?

Dinosaur feathers found in amber

In science fiction, amber preserved the DNA that allowed rebirth of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. In real life, amber preserved feathers that provide a new image of what dinosaurs looked like.

“Now, instead of scaly animals portrayed as usually drab creatures, we have solid evidence for a fluffy coloured past,,” reports Mark A. Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Examples of ancient feathers ranging from the simple to the complex are now being studied. They were preserved in amber found in western Canada, researchers led by Ryan C. McKellar of the University of Alberta report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

Amber, hardened tree resin, preserved a mixture of feathers from 70 million years ago. Other feathers contained in amber dating to 90 million years ago are less diverse.

Specimens include simple filament structures similar to the earliest feathers of non-flying dinosaurs – a form unknown in modern birds – and more complicated bird feathers “displaying pigmentation and adaptations for flight and diving,” the researchers reported.

Indications of feathers have been found on much older fossils, and the new discoveries indicate feathers continued to develop into modern form before the extinction of dinosaurs, explained Norell, who was not part of the research team.

A separate report by Roy A. Wogelius of the University of Manchester, England, published online June 30 by Science, reports the finding of trace metals in feather fossils, suggesting their colours included black, brown and a reddish-brown.

“Despite many reports over the past decade of feathered dinosaurs and new birds from China, only now are we beginning to understand just how diverse feather types were” millions of years ago, Norell said.

Well imagine that! Big pink fluffy tyrannosaurus rexes, all cute and fuzzy, 10 tons of mobile mayhem stomping through the primordial forests looking to bite your head off. But happily! That’s going to take a bit of mental image adjustment.

Something to think about: 70 million years ago was practically yesterday in dinosaur terms, being darn close to the end of their run. Birds are believed to have been around for as much as 150 million years, so go figure. Here’s a bit more, a short paper with pictures on dino-birdies that does note that feathers were around before birds were, on critters known as coelurosaurian theropods.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/16/2011 at 03:48 PM   
Filed Under: • AnimalsArcheology / Anthropology •  
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calendar   Friday - September 02, 2011

archaeology in china again

Ran across this only minutes ago.

Worth sharing for any who have an interest but haven’t seen this yet.

Remains of horses and chariots unearthed from tomb dating back to 3,000-year-old Chinese dynasty

It could have been as early as 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ that these horses were moved on to greener pastures - and no one has laid eyes on them until now.

Archaeologists have painstakingly uncovered the almost 3,000-year-old remains of horses and wooden chariots in a Zhou Dynasty tomb in Luoyang, Henan Province, China.

The completed excavation unearthed four horse-and-chariot pits, dating back as far as 770BC.


The pits have well-preserved evidence of bronzeware and ceramics from the Early Western Zhou dynasty.

Though a far smaller tomb than the famous ‘terracotta army’ found in 1974 in the Lintong District, this find has been undisturbed while buried and has not suffered the ravages of grave robbers.

Archaeologists believe that the tomb belongs to an official of some renown during the dynasty - pottery, metal weaponry and inscriptions are consistent with a man of mid-level importance.

Apart from the artifacts themselves, the tomb is an exciting discovery for historians, as it provides unquestionable insights into funeral customs in the early Western Zhou dynasty.

The unearthed tomb is a vertical earthen pit tomb, which is very common in that period.

Because of the age of the site, the traditionally wooden coffin and body within have long-since carbonised.

But the most valuable discovery by far is the complete set of chariots and horses, of all shapes and sizes.

Animal lovers can breathe a small sigh of relief - archaeologists say the position of the horses, lying on their sides, show that the animals were slaughtered before burial, and not entombed alive.

At the time of this official’’s death, large-scale irrigation projects were being instituted across China, and the nation’s writing system was being further developed.


It was also the time of the great Chinese philosophers of antiquity, including Confucius, Mencius, and Zhuangzi.

Many nearby tombs have fragments similar to the Luoyang find, but most have been emptied of their funeral relics by thieves.

more to see


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 09/02/2011 at 12:51 PM   
Filed Under: • Archeology / AnthropologyCHINA in the news •  
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calendar   Thursday - June 30, 2011

Oh My Oh Mayan

1500 Year Old Sealed Mayan Tomb Visited By Camera Robot

We had the R part earlier, so here’s an interesting bit of A. Your A&R Thursday is now complete.

image Palenque, Mexico Researchers have lowered a small camera into a previously unexplored early Mayan tomb at the Palenque archaeological site in southern Mexico, revealing an intact funeral chamber, apparent offerings and red-painted wall murals.

Footage of the approximately 1,500-year-old tomb taken by the small, remote-controlled camera show a series of nine figures depicted in black on a vivid, blood-red background. Vases and jade ornaments can be seen on the floor of the small chamber.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said Thursday archaeologists have known a tomb existed at the site since 1999, but they had been unable to enter it because the pyramid standing above it is unstable and entering the chamber could have damaged the murals.

imageToo fragile to excavate, archaeologists had to rely on artificial eyes to peek inside the burial chamber [this link also has a short video]. But when they lowered the video camera down, they were surely glad they hadn’t ruined the tomb with major digging. Scientists found a fully intact tomb that laid untouched and undiscovered [unexplored] for more than 1,500 years. They gazed upon red frescoes, pottery, and funeral arrangements that had been strikingly well-preserved.

The tomb is located inside a pyramid in the southern Mexico town of Palenque. Pyramids are notoriously difficult to infiltrate considering their fragility and age. In fact, scientists discovered this particular tomb in 1999, and until now had not found a way to penetrate its thick walls without compromising the structure.

The archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History lowered the matchbox-sized camera down through a hole in the top of the pyramid to gaze upon its contents. They believe it contains the remains of a Mayan ruler who died around 550 A.D.

While they found no sarcophagus or remains, they predict the images brought back to the surface – of black figures, red drawings, and jade and pearl stones – will help paint a picture of the Mayan ruler likely buried inside. Hopefully they can do it before the Mayans’ prediction of the end of the world in 2012.

Palenque was a Mayan city-state in what is now Mexico’s Chiapas state, but after its decline during the 8th Century AD it was absorbed into the jungle. It has been extensively excavated, in particular over the past two decades, but much of it remains to be uncovered.

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (Inah) said its archaeologists had been aware of the tomb for more than a decade, but had not been able to examine it.

“Its difficult location and the work to consolidate the plinth had until now impeded penetration into the enclosure, which jealously guards the remains of a very important person from this ancient Mayan city,” Inah said in a statement.

It said that the researchers overcame the difficulties by lowering the remote-controlled camera the size of a matchbox down along a narrow shaft into the largely intact chamber. Inside, the camera revealed nine black figures painted on blood-red walls, along with jade and shell fragments, which are believed to be part of a funerary costume.

But unlike in other tombs in Palenque, no sarcophagus has been found. “It is very probable that the fragmented bones are lying directly on the stones of the floor,” Inah said.

Experts say the tomb probably dates to between AD431 and 550, and could belong to the first ruler of Palenque - K’uk Bahlam I.

I looked around a bit and there only seems to be one other picture from inside the tomb. That one can be seen here, along with a larger picture of the tomb picture above, and a 5 minute video in Spanish about the Mayas and Palenque. This is a pretty cool event, but there isn’t much to see yet.

This tomb was found in the bottom of a great pyramid, and as far as the archaeologists could tell, it hadn’t been opened in 1500 years. A tomb in a pyramid had to be someone of great importance, and therefore of great wealth. The tomb ought to have been packed full of treasure, but there is none shown in the picture. Perhaps they are hiding it, because of the huge scope of tomb robbery down there. Perhaps it’s in another room off-camera. Or perhaps the tomb was robbed 1502 years ago, and nothing is left except a bit of paint.

The Maya were a pretty depraved lot, big into human sacrifice, cutting out hearts, wearing the skins of the dead as ritual clothing, cannibalism, and so forth. Yes, they took their religion seriously, but their gods were blood thirsty maniacs. Oh sure, they did great things with astronomy, irrigation, and agriculture, and even had a reasonable economy going for several centuries, but blood and gore were, ahem, at the heart of things. So this tomb, which was originally either fully painted with red ochre, cinnibar, or literally bathed in buckets of blood (tests will tell I guess), is just what I expected. Symbolize the life force all you want ... these were some sick little jungle monkeys.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/30/2011 at 09:17 PM   
Filed Under: • Archeology / Anthropology •  
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calendar   Saturday - June 11, 2011

eye candy gun porn?

One of those I gotta get this post in even before breakfast and coffee. Ah, truth tho is I did have part of a breakfast but no coffee yet.  So booted to be greated by Drew’s food comfort post.  Jeesh. 
Had to share this first and then coffee and then on to something maddening.

btw ... I’m fine today but I can feel our car’s pain.  Funny how that works. Poor car. Will call auto doctor for a house visit.  Yeah really.  Long standing service from one mechanic, comes to the house. What can be done here is done.  Otherwise he takes it wherever it needs to go.  Convenient.  Family known him for at least 15 years. Maybe more.

OK so ... here’s what caught my attention first thing today and caused the early boot. 

Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘machine gun’ cannon discovered by archeologists

By Nick Squires
Archeologists in Croatia have identified what they believe is the world’s only triple-barrel cannon inspired by the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci.


The bronze cannon, from the late 15th century, bears a striking resemblance to sketches drawn by the Renaissance inventor, notably in his Codex Atlanticus - the largest collection of his drawings and writing.

Mounted on a wooden carriage and wheels, it would have allowed a much more rapid rate of fire than traditional single-barreled guns - in a precursor to modern day machine guns. Soldiers would have been able to fire three cannon balls instead of one.
It was also lighter and more mobile than most cannon of the time, enabling troops to move it around the battlefield with comparative ease - a precursor to much later artillery.

It was found in the grounds of the 15th century Klicevica fortress, in a part of southern Croatia that had strong trading links with the Venetian Republic and that was on the front line of defence against the invading Ottomon Turks.

“We think it was either made in Venice and brought here, or it may have been made locally,” said Marin Curkovic, the director of a museum in the nearby town of Benkovac, where the cannon went on display this week as the centre-piece of a new exhibition.

“We cannot say with 100 per cent certainty that it was built to Leonardo da Vinci’s designs but the resemblance to his sketches is remarkable. We think there is a very high probability that it was manufactured to his designs.”

The weapon almost exactly matches a model of da Vinci’s triple-barrelled cannon design, which is on display in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology in Milan.

The cannon may not have been an enormous success - the lower part of the barrels has been blown away, suggesting it may have jammed and exploded, probably killing or seriously injuring whoever was operating it.

The gun was found in 1968 by a group of children who were digging in the fortress, but it was only donated to the museum in the 1990s.
Attempts to properly analyse it were stymied by Croatia’s war of independence and a lack of funds.

“There are no markings on the cannon so it was hard to date it until we were able to excavate the area where it was found and start putting it into some sort of context,” said Tomislav Basic, also from the museum.

“As far as we know, it is unique in the world. Nobody else has found anything like it. It’s a very exciting discovery.”



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 06/11/2011 at 07:17 AM   
Filed Under: • Archeology / Anthropology •  
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calendar   Thursday - June 09, 2011

Better Than Nothing

It’s a Builder’s Mark

“Mystery of Great Pyramid Solved”

a very small one I guess

A hidden chamber deep within the Great Pyramid of Giza revealed a stunning secret last month: strange hieroglyphs written in red paint and sealed within the structure for 4,500 years.

And now one researcher may have unlocked that mystery.


“The markings are hieratic numerical signs. They read from right to left, meaning 100, 20, 1. The builders simply recorded the total length of the shaft: 121 cubits,” Luca Miatello, an independent researcher who specializes on ancient Egyptian mathematics, told Discovery News.

The markings, red ochre figures painted on the floor of the hidden “Queen’s Chamber” deep within the pyramid, corresponds to the length of the shaft leading to them, Miatello said.

But there’s nothing “simple” about this discovery, said Shaun Whitehead of the Djedi Project, the archaeology group that found the hidden chamber through a special, shaft-spelunking robot.

“If the figures are numbers and they are the precise measurement of the shaft, then it’s amazing,” he said. “It would be a huge, rare clue to what the architect was thinking. For example, why take the trouble to precisely measure and record the length if the shaft was only used for a mundane purpose or simply abandoned?”

The shaft, one of four leading deep within the pyramid, was first discovered in 1872.

Two weeks ago:

A robot explorer designed and built by University of Leeds engineers, in collaboration with Scoutek, UK and Dassault Systèmes, France, has revealed hieroglyphs beyond a narrow tunnel inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza. The 4500-year-old markings, seen on video images gathered by the Djedi robot expedition, may give clues to how this part of the pyramid was built.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu is known to contain four narrow tunnels – two leading from the King’s Chamber and two from the Queen’s Chamber. However, scholars are unable to agree on what they were used for. This is partly due to problems researchers face getting into these narrow spaces.

This is the same tunnel - the tunnels were called air shafts when I was younger - that those guys ran those tiny tank tracked robots up a couple years ago. The north shaft (dotted line in the pyramid drawing above) There was a much ballyhooed documentary on it ... I think they found a stick. Seriously, there was a stick in the tunnel. Don’t recall if they retrieved it and got a carbon date, which would then prove how old the pyramid is. As I recall, the robots didn’t work right. Or the explorers - they were Swiss, weren’t they? - visas ran out, or they misbehaved. Can’t recall the details, but that mission ended and sometime later somebody made a different robot that went back up the air shaft. And found a block at the end of the shaft, that had two copper handles on it. End of adventure. About a year or so later another robot mission went up, and this time drilled a hole in the block. And found that there was an air space behind it. End of adventure. And then another robot (this is getting tiring isn’t it?) went up and stuck a flexible endoscopic camera in the hole, and looked around. And took some pictures.

And that brings us up to date. Here is a composite of those pictures. Note the line on the floor. The 3 splotches off to the right are hieroglyphs, and the deciphering of them is today’s bit of news.


Read from the lower right to the upper left, these are the symbols for 100, 20, and 1. So the shaft is 121 cubits long from it’s beginning to this line. Hey, more precision building from those ancient Egyptians. And now we have a physical example that lets’ us know exactly how long an Egyptian cubit is, but whether they used a regular one or an oversized “royal” one, I don’t know.

Yee haa!! Wait, that’s a bit of archaeology isn’t it? And it’s Thursday! That can mean only one thing: this must be an A&R Thursday post! Woo hoo!!

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/09/2011 at 12:23 PM   
Filed Under: • Archeology / AnthropologyEye-Candy •  
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calendar   Tuesday - June 07, 2011

Oh so you thought your life was dull?

For almost an entire year he studied thousands of references to sheep livers

Akkadian cuneiform finally deciphered after an amazing 90 year effort.

A dictionary of a dead language not used for two millenia has finally been completed after academics spent 90 years painstakingly deciphering ancient words scrawled on clay and stone tablets.

As decades came and went generations of scholars travelled from across the world to the University of Chicago to work on the monumental Chicago Assyrian Dictionary project.

It is now officially complete and contains 21 volumes devoted to Akkadian, a Semitic language with several dialects including Assyrian, that endured between 2500 BC and AD 100 and was recorded on tablets in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.

The dictionary was begun in 1921 by James Henry Breasted, an American archaeologist who wanted to “recover the lost story of the rise of man.” He died 14 years later, by which point one million index cards had already been compiled.

Robert Biggs, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, later devoted half a century to the dictionary, uncovering tablets in the desert and poring over texts in museums in London and Baghdad as he tried to translate the wedge-shaped letters.

For almost an entire year he studied thousands of references to sheep livers, the shapes of which were believed to contain omens.

Prof Biggs admitted: “Sometimes it got to be very tedious. Other times, there was a sense of exhilaration if you could solve some problem or figure out what a rare word means.

“You always saw the light at the end of the tunnel, but the end of the tunnel kept getting further and further away.”

During their marathon academic quest the Chicago scholars battled problems with the ancient Assyrian lack of punctuation, and the propensity of the tablets to crumble. They were joined at various times by experts from Vienna, Paris, Copenhagen, Jerusalem, Berlin, Helsinki, Baghdad and London. Martha Roth, the dictionary’s current editor, spent 32 years on it, four years of that working on a single word.

She said: “It’s hard for many people to understand the kind of stick-to-it this kind of project takes.”

The 28,000-word dictionary, which will cost $1,400 (£850) to buy, is more like and encyclopaedia and offers a window into the ancient society of Mesopotamia, including recipes, love letters and ancient poems.

There is even a 4,400-year-old letter from a teenager at boarding school who wrote to his mother: “From year to year, the clothes of the gentlemen here become better, but you let my clothes get worse.”

Letters from kids at college complaining they need more money for stuff? Some things never change. Never ever.

It figures that academics in Chicago would want to sell their research. Anybody else would have just published it for the greater good of mankind.

The Assyrian dialect of Akkadian was spoken in the Northern areas of Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq. The Babylonian dialect was spoken in central and southern Mesopotamia, Mariotic in the central Euphrates, and Tell Beydar in northern Syria.

There have been different phases in Assyrian’s development. Old Assyrian was spoken between1950–1530 BC, Middle Assyrian between 1530–1000 BC, and Neo-Assyrian between the years 1000–600 BC. Assyrian served as the lingua franca during much of the Old and Middle times, and was extremely popular.

It was in use for 2,500 years but has not been spoken for more than 2,000 years.

Now, why should anyone give a darn? Because Akkadia and Assyria are OLDER THAN EGYPT. This is the Cradle of Civilization stuff you learned about in grade school; the rise of the very first city states in the Fertile Crescent. Mesopotamia>. This language and this civilization go back to the very beginnings of the Bronze Age. In other words, they are a late Neolithic group, and that means New Stone Age. They invented things like towns. And the wheel. That’s right, they invented the bloody wheel. So just think what one of their history books must be like; their great-great-great-grandparents hadn’t even invented animals yet! (well, domesticated ones)
The proto-city of UR was far far in the future to these people. They may not have known Adam personally, but they knew where he used to live ... which was a few days walk down towards the beach. Down under the mud.

This is awesome, and I hope reams of translations are soon published. I have no idea how many of these old clay tablets are still around, but it would be so cool to think of reading something written so long ago that there were only 3 recipes for chicken in all the world.

h/t to Peiper


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/07/2011 at 06:12 PM   
Filed Under: • Archeology / Anthropology •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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