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Archaeology in 2007
December 30, 2007 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Archaeology Magazine lists its top ten discoveries of 2007, with nine runners up. Among the discoveries listed are the discovery of Nebo-Sarsekim tablet that confirms some of the details of the Biblical book of Jeremiah (while casting doubt on other details), evidence that chimpanzees used basic stone tools 4,000 years ago that suggests that the primates may have passed "cultural" information through generations, and evidence of Polynesian chickens in Chile that may confirm Francisco Pizarro's report of chickens in Peru.
posted by Pants! (19 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice, I had no idea about the Polynesian chickens debate.
posted by Memo at 6:23 PM on December 30, 2007


I think it's eponysterical funny how someone surnamed Ur could be responsible for discrediting the theory that urbanization first started in southern Mesopotamia.
posted by klue at 6:41 PM on December 30, 2007


Neat about the chickens. It actually strikes down a support fact that Gavin Menzies used to suggest that Chinese had visited the new world. He had suggested that 13th century Chinese ships had brought the chickens.

Thanks for the link.
posted by Atreides at 6:46 PM on December 30, 2007


Blargh. That'd be 15th century.
posted by Atreides at 6:50 PM on December 30, 2007


needs a stavros tag
posted by b1tr0t at 6:50 PM on December 30, 2007


The ramp the Egyptians used to haul the 2.5 ton blocks that built the Great Pyramid at Giza is still there inside the pyramid itself? That's news.
posted by wsg at 6:53 PM on December 30, 2007


Details in Jeremiah that were confirmed: Deserts are big and dry. Also, nobody likes a Cassandra.
posted by DU at 6:57 PM on December 30, 2007


Thanks, this is now one of my fave year-end lists. Even the runners-up are cool:

...French archaeologists digging at the Neolithic site of Djade al Mugahara in northern Syria announced the discovery of a remarkable mural. Made up of red, black, and white geometric shapes painted 11,000 years ago, the small panel bore an uncanny resemblance to the early work of modernist masters Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee...This year Coqueugniot's team not only gave us a more vivid glimpse into the ritual life of Djade al Mugahara, but a sense of just how close Neolithic aesthetic sensibilities were to those of early European modernists...
posted by mediareport at 7:26 PM on December 30, 2007


It actually strikes down a support fact that Gavin Menzies used to suggest that Chinese had visited the new world. He had suggested that 13th century Chinese ships had brought the chickens.

Well, Chinese ships *could* have carried Polynesian chickens. The new evidence complicates the issue, but I'm not sure it "strikes down" Menzies' support fact.
posted by mediareport at 7:32 PM on December 30, 2007


Love arch(aeology), I love the smell of McMuffins in the morning.
posted by brickman at 7:41 PM on December 30, 2007


Previous post about Chankillo.
posted by homunculus at 7:46 PM on December 30, 2007


But were the eggs square?
posted by yhbc at 7:57 PM on December 30, 2007


Finding out that Brad Pitt has a tattoo of Ötzi the iceman increased my respect for Brad Pitt considerably.
posted by Kattullus at 8:08 PM on December 30, 2007


See?! My urges to smash nuts when I'm not makin' sweet, sweet love are justified.
posted by bonobo at 8:28 PM on December 30, 2007


How did the discovery of the Lupercale not make their list?
posted by scalefree at 9:05 PM on December 30, 2007


For various reasons, I'm more than a bit interested in the Polynesian chicken issue, and while I have a gut feeling that Storey et.al.'s data are right (and furthermore, I'll admit I want this to be true!) I just can't get firmly on their side until they get more data. Their pub in PNAS (Radiocarbon and DNA evidence for a pre-Columbian introduction of Polynesian chickens to Chile) explains that they managed to do DNA recovery on just 12 sample bones from one site. This is all very cool, but considering how tightly their dates stick together with European contact dates for South America (AD 1321-1407 for the chicken bone vs. AD 1500 for European contact), I find it a bit shaky. Until we have dates that differ by a more significant amount, and which come from more than one site, it can all be chalked up to sampling errors.

Still, that's the cynical barnacles talking there. The University of Auckland has a helluva track record with prehistoric DNA studies (see: Matisoo-Smith's Rattus exulans DNA work), so if you're going to trust anyone on ancient Pacific animal DNA, trust them. Still, until there are data from additional sites, pop this one in the "Hopefully true" pile.
posted by barnacles at 1:06 AM on December 31, 2007


Lyupa, the baby mammoth, which just missed the top ten, has my vote. She had nascent tusks that were no bigger than a human finger, and was about the size of a large dog. I just want to take her home and cuddle her.

But then I remember she is a frozen dead carcass.
posted by misha at 7:51 AM on December 31, 2007






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