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Pro patria mori

Who are the Nazi War Diggers?
Now four men – the War Diggers - are scouring Eastern Europe in a battered Soviet era jeep, armed with metal detectors, shovels and sheer grit. Their mission is to uncover these forgotten battlefields and the buried stories in them. This is a race against time to get the history from the ground before it’s lost forever.
Talent biographies are available here. Conflict Antiquities has a long list of unanswered "urgent ethical and legal questions". The Anonymous Swiss Collector has a response from National Geographic [opens as word document], but questions remain. Archaeologists, osteologists, anthropologists, and others have not been pleased: the #NaziWarDiggers hashtag has more responses. [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict on Mar 28, 2014 - 14 comments

 

Stone Towns of the Swahili Coast

The Swahili Coast and its culture in the medieval period (roughly the tenth to fifteenth centuries) is relatively little studied, compared with other cultures of its size and influence, though it represents a key node in the development of global trade before the European Age of Discovery. Its history is known in broad strokes, but less is known about how the medieval Swahili lived and how they incorporated influences—from religion to architecture—from across the Indian Ocean world. Fleisher and his codirector, Stephanie Wynne-Jones of the University of York, looked for a site that would allow them to examine such questions in detail. “We had an inkling Songo Mnara would be that site,” he says, “but it has completely exceeded our expectations. --
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 5, 2014 - 9 comments

The genome of the Anzick boy

The genome of the Anzick child, who died 12,600 years ago at the age of three and was buried with ceremony in the American Rockies, has been fully sequenced. The results shed an incredible light on the history of the peopling of the Americas: his people seem to have been direct ancestors to most tribes of Central and South America, and close relatives of the Canadian tribes. The discoveries have had an emotional impact on Native Americans, and the boy's remains will be reburied with great respect. Still, tribal belonging is about much more than genetics, as anthropologist Kim Tallbear reminds us. You can see replicas of the heirloom artefacts left in the boy's grave here, or visit the collection at the Montana Historical Society if you're in the area.
posted by daisyk on Feb 13, 2014 - 24 comments

Apollo of Gaza

Fisherman find an ancient Greek bronze statue in the waters off the coast of Gaza. Now the question is how it can be preserved and what its ultimate fate will be. Here Apollo is lying on Smurf sheets (photo from an Italian article). (Previously on underwater archaeology in the Mediterranean.)
posted by larrybob on Feb 9, 2014 - 38 comments

Western Digs: Dispatches from the Ancient American West

Western Digs is a source for "dispatches from the American ancient West." Posts are sorted into three main categories: Dinosaurs & Ancient Life (Paleontology, split into Dinosars, The Ice Age, Birds and All Fossils), Prehistoric Americans (Archaeology, split into Ancient Southwest and The Mississippians [Cahokia]), and Modern Artifacts (Historic Archaeology, including the subset The 20th Century). If you're not sure where to start reading, here are Western Digs’ Top 5 Paleontology Stories of 2013 and Western Digs’ Top 5 Archaeology Stories of 2013.
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 30, 2014 - 5 comments

In Velox Libertas!

In May 2008, while excavating around the castle, the archaeologists of Bristol University made a surprising discovery. They have unearthed two graves side by side. In both of them they have found the rests of the body of an armored knight, and above it in one grave the well preserved skeleton of a horse, while in the other the fragments of iron objects which, seen from above, resembled… a bicycle.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 28, 2014 - 52 comments

Biblical Balaam's Historical Existence Proven, Covered Up

So as not to bury the lede, Dutch archaeologists Found a 2,800 year old document that corroborates the Old Testament story of Balaam. Some background: Balaam was a guy in the bible. He had a talking donkey and, according to some, was constipated. [more inside]
posted by bluejayway on Jan 14, 2014 - 68 comments

Shall these bones live? shall these Bones live?

Settling in for a long winter's nap? In need of a memento mori to guard against the unbridled jollity of the season? Just want to explore the wonderful world of 3D scans, osteology, and bioarchaeology on the internet a little further? Sad that Santa probably isn't bringing you a T-Rex for Christmas? Well, just peak inside... [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict on Dec 23, 2013 - 4 comments

Archaeology vs. Physics

Conflicting roles for old lead
The use of old lead for shielding increases the sensitivity of our most delicate experiments by orders of magnitude, an increase that is crucial when looking for a reaction that sheds light on new physics. Lead recovered from roofs, old plumbing, and even stained glass windows has been used, but Roman lead from a shipwreck is the best you can find.

posted by Jpfed on Dec 23, 2013 - 25 comments

The Tomb of the Warrior Prince

In September, Italian archaeologists removed a slab door in Tarquinia and entered an untouched, newly discovered Etruscan tomb (Slideshow: Entry to Tomb, Pictures of Contents) There was much excitement to find the intact tomb of a high-status man - a warrior, a prince, a man of importance, with a lance, grave goods, and the remains of his wife. Or so it was trumpeted by the discovering team and the media. A month later … the figure on the wider slab with the lance turns out to be the female, and the man was on the other slab. Whoops! Judith Weingarten writes about the assumptions made before and after the osteological analysis (and Part II). [more inside]
posted by julen on Dec 16, 2013 - 14 comments

For all your ghost town needs

Do you like obsessively cataloged information? Do you like abandoned, semi-abandoned, and/or semi-repopulated ghost towns? Do you like amazingly poor web design? Then you will love ghosttowns.com, an exhaustive collection of thousands of ghost towns in the US and Canada. Find out how to visit ghost towns, and then click on the map to find one near you!
posted by showbiz_liz on Dec 10, 2013 - 24 comments

The Pit of Bones

Baffling 400,000-Year-Old Clue (NYT) to Human Origins: The pit of bones hides our oldest DNA.
posted by homunculus on Dec 6, 2013 - 7 comments

New information from a very old brain

Some sites are calling this the oldest brain found. However, there have been other finds and at least one major site in Florida that holds older remains. The trick now is to extract DNA and information that can aid in medical advances.
posted by Eicats on Oct 29, 2013 - 18 comments

When the snow melts

The BBC reports that 6000-year old clothing, bows and arrows have been found under melting snow in Norway. Earlier reports with different photos. Meanwhile, Archaeology has a longer article about "the race to to find, and save, ancient artifacts emerging from glaciers and ice patches in a warming world". And glacial archaeology is becoming so much of a thing that it's getting its own scholarly journal.
posted by Athanassiel on Aug 29, 2013 - 26 comments

Ex Urbe

"But Freud had a second fear: a fear of Rome's layers. In formal treatises, he compared the psyche to an ancient city, with many layers of architecture built one on top of another, each replacing the last, but with the old structures still present underneath. In private writings he phrased this more personally, that he was terrified of ever visiting Rome because he was terrified of the idea of all the layers and layers and layers of destroyed structures hidden under the surface, at the same time present and absent, visible and invisible. He was, in a very deep way, absolutely right." [more inside]
posted by Paragon on Aug 20, 2013 - 31 comments

Dramatic Lactose Intolerant Sobbing

"During the most recent ice age, milk was essentially a toxin to adults because — unlike children — they could not produce the lactase enzyme required to break down lactose, the main sugar in milk. But as farming started to replace hunting and gathering in the Middle East around 11,000 years ago, cattle herders learned how to reduce lactose in dairy products to tolerable levels by fermenting milk to make cheese or yogurt. Several thousand years later, a genetic mutation spread through Europe that gave people the ability to produce lactase — and drink milk — throughout their lives. That adaptation opened up a rich new source of nutrition that could have sustained communities when harvests failed." - The Milk Revolution - how a single mutation expanded (some) of humanity's diet. (Nature.com)
posted by The Whelk on Aug 2, 2013 - 158 comments

Coffins Within Coffins

Hey, remember when archaeologists discovered the remains of Richard III under a car park in Leicester? Well, apparently they also unearthed a stone coffin dated to at least a century before Richard. When it was opened, it was revealed to contain... another coffin, sealed and made of lead. None of us in the team have ever seen a lead coffin within a stone coffin before, says one of the archaeologists. Oh sure, it's probably just the remains of one of the founders of the monastery that used to be there, but if the movies have taught us anything, it's that if something is mysterious, it must also be evil, right?
posted by Cash4Lead on Jul 30, 2013 - 46 comments

Paleopathology

CSI: Italian Renaissance. "Inside a lab in Pisa, forensics pathologist Gino Fornaciari and his team investigate 500-year-old cold cases." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 21, 2013 - 10 comments

Good Night, Professor Mick. Your jumper will be missed.

Time Team's Mick Aston has passed away. Co-creator of the noted British archaeology series that ran from 1994 through 2012, Professor Michael Antony 'Mick' Aston popularized local archaology in the UK by presenting it in an easy to digest, accessible form. [more inside]
posted by disclaimer on Jun 24, 2013 - 27 comments

Time Travel to 1930's Paris

Paris Apartment opened for the first time in 70 years Including intriguing links to a scandalous Belle Époque art wold romance and a $3 million dollar painting. Subject of this AskMe last year but includes additional photos. [more inside]
posted by DarthDuckie on Jun 16, 2013 - 23 comments

Ancient Egypt, back from the depths: Alexandria, Canopus and Heracleion

Franck Goddio, an underwater archaeologist, shares the explorations of three recently re-discovered cities off the coast of Egypt, including Alexandria (1997 NOVA documentary *), Canopus, and Thonis-Heracleion (the Egyptian and Greek names for the city, not to be confused with the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis). A new documentary on Thonis-Heracleaion was produced for the Franco-German TV network, Arte, and you can watch the German version here. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 4, 2013 - 16 comments

Atari Archaeology Allowed

Some claim it is the worst video game ever. What is certain is that five million of them were dumped by Atari in a New Mexico landfill. Now, Fuel Industries, a Canadian film production company, has received permission from the city of Alamagordo, to unearth E.T.
posted by pashdown on May 31, 2013 - 69 comments

High Altitude Horror

In 1942 a British forest guard in Roopkund, India made an alarming discovery. Some 16,000 feet above sea level, at the bottom of a small valley, was a frozen lake absolutely full of skeletons.
posted by Renoroc on May 24, 2013 - 67 comments

I had never seen a hole playing for Temple.

Structural Archaeology
Geoff Carter's radical view of building in the ancient world, especially the archaeology of the lost timber built environment of Southern England. It is new research into of prehistory of architecture
With the ultimate conclusion that Stonehenge is the remains of a roofed shelter. [more inside]
posted by Mitheral on May 19, 2013 - 76 comments

"We have entire streets of Roman London in front of us."

An archaeological excavation led by the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) has been quietly uncovering a site on the now-lost Walbrook River which they have dubbed the Pompeii of the north. [more inside]
posted by Athanassiel on Apr 10, 2013 - 24 comments

An Elegant Weapon For A Less Civilized Age

They were the finest European swords the day, superior to almost any other on the battlefields of the Viking Age. Made from steel no one in Europe would know how to make until the Industrial Revolution. Stronger, more flexible, almost magical in combat, engraved with the mysterious name "+ULFBERH+T" by unknown makers, these swords were the both fearsome weapons and incredibly expensive prestige possessions. Only 171 have every been identified. And no one had made one from start to finish, using only hand tools, for over 900 years. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Mar 6, 2013 - 38 comments

The Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs

The World’s Oldest Pornography. The Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs in the Tien Shan Mountains: A Fertility Ritual Tableau.
posted by homunculus on Feb 14, 2013 - 21 comments

My brother and I used to say that drownin' in beer was like heaven, eh?

"The stubby (or steinie) in many ways embodied all that was solid and stoic in the Canadian character. Think of the two adjectives most appropriately applied to it - "tough" and "squat" - and what it also brings to mind are the great goalies of that era, those stalwart unbreakable warriors who worked between the pipes." - Ian Coutts Brew North. [more inside]
posted by 1f2frfbf on Feb 10, 2013 - 25 comments

"Easter Island is not Earth."

The Statues Walked — What Really Happened on Easter Island [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Jan 28, 2013 - 30 comments

Where were the Viking brew houses?

The possibility that a lot of the alleged "saunas" found in Viking settlements may actually have been brew houses, is just one of the topic discussed at the 7th expermental archaeology conference just held in Cardiff. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 19, 2013 - 11 comments

Looking Good, Ancient Rome

Amateur archaeologist and "forensic hairdresser" Janet Stephens has discovered how to recreate the Seni Crines, the elaborately braided hairstyle worn by the vestal virgins. Don't miss Stephens' other classical hairstyle videos.
posted by Miko on Jan 9, 2013 - 35 comments

The Soundscapes of Ancient Cultures

Historically, archaeologists have largely ignored acoustical science as a tool for archaeological discovery. This is changing with the advent of acoustic archaeology. “Could the Maya have intentionally coded the sound of their sacred bird into the pyramid architecture? I think it is possible.Hear it for yourself in this video. While this is a pretty astounding feat of architectural engineering, it’s by no means the only example of archaeoacoustics that can be found at Chichen Itza, amongst the mayan people, or throughout the many other cultures who’ve built structures that integrate unique auditory phenomenon to stimulate the senses. [previously]/[previously] [more inside]
posted by nTeleKy on Nov 29, 2012 - 23 comments

Doggerland

Searching for Doggerland. "For decades North Sea boatmen have been dragging up traces of a vanished world in their nets. Now archaeologists are asking a timely question: What happens to people as their homeland disappears beneath a rising tide?"
posted by homunculus on Nov 20, 2012 - 10 comments

Skeletal remains found in upended tree

Not-Hurricane Sandy turned over a hundred-year-old tree — that had grown through a body buried a hundred years before THAT. " A homeless woman made a spooky Halloween’s eve discovery on the Upper Green: bones from a centuries-old human body unearthed by a giant oak tree toppled by Superstorm Sandy."
posted by axoplasm on Oct 31, 2012 - 64 comments

Mes Aynak

Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper. "Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures." Campaign to Save Mes Aynak.
posted by homunculus on Sep 22, 2012 - 14 comments

Site Seeing

Wiki Loves Monuments: "World's largest photo contest" seeks to create a visual record of world monuments and historic sites on the Wikimedia Commons. The USA version focuses on sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Canadian version here. If you don't see your country among the 30 participating so far, you can volunteer!
posted by Miko on Sep 7, 2012 - 7 comments

Mexican Archaeological Sites On Google Street View

Google Street View has sent people on bicycles around 30 major archaeological sites in Mexico, including Chichen Itza, Palenque, Monte Alban, Teotihuacan, Tulum, Cobá, and more. You can go right up to (but not up) the pyramids. For me, seeing the tourists and the souvenir vendors is part of the fun. Daniel Hernandez at the LA Times has some more good links.
posted by Fnarf on Aug 24, 2012 - 22 comments

Ancient Siberian Tattoos

In Siberia, several frozen human burials dating to 2,500 years ago have intact skin with elaborate tattoos. Warning: link contains graphic pictures of dead people.
posted by Rumple on Aug 23, 2012 - 36 comments

19th Century Prostitution

A Guide to Houses No Gentleman Would Frequent, and more artifacts of history and archaeology that shed some light on the largely-unwritten world of nineteenth-century prostitution in Boston, New York, Washington, DC, and Paris, among other locales. Lest it appear too amusingly salacious, the miserable side.
posted by Miko on Aug 13, 2012 - 5 comments

Flying lasers eye naked earth

Flying Lasers Reveal Buried Historical Structures (pictures) [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Jul 29, 2012 - 23 comments

New Maya temple discovered in Guatemala

"Dramatic" New Maya Temple Found, Covered With Giant Faces (SLNatGeo)
posted by tykky on Jul 22, 2012 - 23 comments

Farman-e-Kourosh

The ‘Cyrus the Great Cylinder’, is an artifact of the Persian Empire from the 6th century BCE inscribed in Babylonian (Akkadian) cuneiform on a clay cylinder, which has been widely, falsely claimed as the first known recorded declaration of human rights, issued by the emperor Cyrus the Great. (Translation of the text.) A recent TED talk by Neil MacGregor (Director of the British Museum and host of the BBC's History of the World in 100 Objects, previously) discusses the Cylinder, and places it into historical perspective: 2600 Years of History in One Object. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 20, 2012 - 11 comments

Entire genome of extinct human decoded from fossil

Entire genome of extinct human decoded from fossil
posted by Meatbomb on Feb 7, 2012 - 32 comments

The Mayan common class migrated to the southeast United States?

Massive 1,100+ year old Maya site discovered in Georgia's mountains The archaeological site would have been particularly attractive to Mayas because it contains an apparently dormant volcano fumarole that reaches down into the bowels of the earth. People of One Fire researchers have been aware since 2010 that when the English arrived in the Southeast, there were numerous Native American towns named Itsate in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and western North Carolina. They were also aware that both the Itza Mayas of Central America and the Hitchiti Creeks of the Southeast actually called themselves Itsate . . . and pronounced the word the same way. The Itsate Creeks used many Maya and Totonac words. Their architecture was identical to that of Maya commoners. The pottery at Ocmulgee National Monument (c 900 AD) in central Georgia is virtually identical to the Maya Plain Red pottery made by Maya Commoners.
posted by ewagoner on Dec 22, 2011 - 111 comments

Photographs of Palmyra

Photographs and more photographs of the ancient city of Palmyra, seat of the Palmyrene Empire and home to Queen Zenobia.
posted by Rumple on Dec 15, 2011 - 13 comments

Solid Sunlight

Libyan Desert Glass is strewn over an area of hundreds of square kilometers in the Great Sand Sea, a region desolate even by the high standards of the Sahara. As one account of a recent trip to acquire Libyan Desert Glass puts it: "Out there, death sits on your shoulder like a vulture." While some would have you believe that Libyan Desert Glass is evidence of ancient atomic warfare, it is probably evidence of a massive meteorite or comet explosion nearly thirty million years ago, similar to Tunguska, but much bigger. The stone age Aterian peoples made tools from it, but the remoteness and inhospitality of the Great Sand Sea has ensured that until recent times it has mostly been undisturbed. However, a breast ornament buried in Tutankhamen's tomb has a scarab made from Libyan Desert Glass, the only piece made of the material to have been found by Egyptologists, and how Tutankhamen's jewelers acquired it has remained a mystery. Until now. [Previously]
posted by Kattullus on Dec 8, 2011 - 38 comments

The Longship

In Tonsberg, Norway, they are building a Viking Ship. By hand, using the same tools and processes the vikings used. [more inside]
posted by Chrischris on Nov 17, 2011 - 49 comments

Crashed Spitfire machine guns fired after 70 years buried in Ireland

Machine guns still firing, 70 years later. The BBC's Dan Snow joins in an dig in Ireland to uncover a Spitfire mk2, hoping to find one o the machine guns in reasonable conditions. They find six, and then it's time to see if they still work. Okay so they stripped the six to rebuild just one good one, and used modern .303 calibre ammo as opposed to the ammo in the ground, but hey. 70 years and still spitting fire. Of course the WWII in me will point out that the mk V's Hispano cannons were far more effective, but hey, that's not romantic enough for a modern news bulletin.
posted by ewan on Nov 10, 2011 - 19 comments

Assessing the monumental architecture of Neolithic Britain

What's the meaning of Stonehenge? [SLYT]
posted by hydatius on Nov 8, 2011 - 40 comments

Excusez-Moai

The Easter Island Statue Project: a glimpse at what's going on from the neck down.
posted by hermitosis on Oct 27, 2011 - 8 comments

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