Making the Geologic Now is an online book in the form of a Zuihitsu, in which short chapters that are part science, part interview, part engineering, part art, part culture, and part whimsy mingle with each other to reflect upon the Anthropocene. It can be browsed on the web, downloaded for a price you choose (including free), or bought as a hardcopy.
In 1999, two men with metal detectors unearthed one of the most significant finds of modern archaeology: the Nebra Sky Disc, a 30-cm bronze disc inlaid with gold depicting the sun, moon, stars (including the Pleiades), and arcs that apparently represent sunrise and sunset at the solstices at Mittelberg Hill in Germany, and a holy sun boat symbol, dating from 1600 BCE or earlier. Because the illicit finders sold the disc on the black market, skepticism about its authenticity abounded for several years before scientific investigations confirmed it was a legitimate find and possibly the oldest concrete depiction of astronomical phenomena ever found. (The looters were seized by police in a sting operation in a bar in Switzerland, sentenced to prison, appealed, and got longer sentences.) [more inside]
"In a stunning discovery, a team of archaeologists in Australia has found extensive remains of a sophisticated human community living 50,000 years ago. The remains were found in a rock shelter in the continent's arid southern interior. Packed with a range of tools, decorative pigments, and animal bones, the shelter is a wide, roomy space located in the Flinders Ranges, which are the ancestral lands of the Adnyamathanha. The find overturns previous hypotheses of how humans colonized Australia, and it also proves that they interacted with now-extinct megafauna that ranged across the continent."
Peruvian shamanic whistling vessels. Being made out of clay archaeologists first thought these beautiful, ceramic sculptures were water bottles or toys until an amateur anthropologist explored their ritual use. One can just blow into the vessel but when water is added in one of the chambers and the vessel is rocked back and forth the shifting air creates an interesting sound pattern. [more inside]
“These people performed a critique of a brutal capitalistic enslavement system, and they rejected it completely. They risked everything to live in a more just and equitable way, and they were successful for ten generations."The Great Dismal Swamp straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border. From the 1600s to about the American Civil War it was a place of refuge, largely for escaped African and African-American slaves, and an important link in the underground railway. [more inside]
In the 1920s the US industrialist wanted to found a city based on the values that made his company a success – while, of course, producing cheap rubber. The jungle city that bore his name ended up one of his biggest failuresDrew Reed, Fordlandia – the failure of Henry Ford's utopian city in the Amazon, The Guardian (19 August 2016). [more inside]
"The past five or six years have seen a massive rise in one particular area of medieval studies – an area that has the potential to give back a voice to the silent majority of the medieval population. New digital imaging technologies, and the recent establishment of numerous volunteer recording programmes, have transformed its scope and implications. The first large-scale survey began in the English county of Norfolk a little over six years ago. The results of that survey have been astonishing." [more inside]
Researchers have decoded more writing on the 2,000-year-old Antikythera mechanism and found it may have an astrological purpose [more inside]
Is this Greek hilltop the 2,400-year-old burial place of Aristotle? "Greek archaeologists at Ancient Stagira, Central Macedonia, say they have found Aristotle’s tomb. Addressing the Aristotle 2400 Years World Congress, they point to the 2,400-year-old tomb as the most important finding from the 20-year excavation."
Neanderthals built mysterious cave structures 175,000 years ago which have been recently discovered in southwestern France. Walls were fashioned from stalagmites, and the area lit up with fireplaces. The French National Scientific Research Centre has released photos and a video about the site.
In 2003, a sinkhole opened up at the base of the Temple of the Plumed Serpent in the ruins of Teotihuacán. "In archaeology and anthropology circles—to say nothing of the popular press—Sergio Gómez’s discovery was greeted as a major turning point in Teotihuacán studies. The tunnel under the Temple of the Sun had been largely emptied by looters before archaeologists could get to it in the 1990s. But Gómez’s tunnel had been sealed off for some 1,800 years: Its treasures would be pristine." Here's an update on what they've found.
Between the Baths of Caracalla and the Basilica of St John in Lateran, 10 metres beneath Via Ipponio. It measures 900 square metres and 39 rooms, and apparently it's apparently one of at least four Praetorian barracks in the area. Ancient cities and modern excavatations often collide
The Maya Map shows the plethora of known archaeological sites. From the Maya Research Project's Lars Kotthoff.
Many of history’s darkest figures were denied a formal burial place primarily to prevent their graves from becoming pilgrimage sites...... Such figures’ literal corporeal remains hold a persistent grip on our collective anxiety, their memories firmly planted in heritage discourses even as we attempt to efface their human remains from the landscape.Paul Mullins, a historical archaeologist who has previously looked at humanizing Nazi everyday life, Eva Braun's underwear, the repugnant heritage of slavery, and selfies at Auschwitz, turns his attention to Dark Heritage and the Burial of Abhorrent Bodies.
Everybody knows the Great Pyramid of King Khufu, but you probably don’t know about the Shit Pyramids of his father, King Sneferu.
The seal was a remarkable find, bearing the name of an unknown princess and the only depiction of an ancient Israelite harp. Good enough to be depicted on Israeli coinage? Almost too good... The Trouble With the Maadana [more inside]
About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can’t be found in any history books—the written word didn’t become common in these parts for another 2000 years—but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology.
A series of ten articles at the BBC News Magazine by Kanishk Tharoor and Maryam Maruf tracing the stories of ten antiquities and cultural sites that have been destroyed or looted in Iraq and Syria: (1) The Winged Bull of Nineveh; (2) The Temple of Bel; (3) Tell of Qarqur; (4) Aleppo’s minaret; (5) The Lion of al-Lat; (6) Mar Elian Monastery; (7) Al-Ma’arri: the unacceptable poet; (8) The Genie of Nimrud; (9) The Armenian Martyrs’ Memorial Church in Deir al-Zour; and (10) Looted Sumerian Seal, Baghdad. [more inside]
Remnants of the American space race, photographed from Florida to California. "There is a spiritual quality to Launch Complex 34. The launch pedestal with its large round opening to the sky gives it the look of some ancient astronomical archaeological ruin, something like Stonehenge."
From a new book.
From a new book.
The REMAINS of Greenland project is attempting to locate and preserve archaeological sites in Greenland before they are lost to the destructive effects of climate change. [via]
... conventional history teaches that the Americas were discovered by the Europeans either in 1492 by Columbus, or maybe a few hundred years earlier by the Vikings. There still seems to be an aversion among the establishment historians to even consider the idea that ancient Mediterranean peoples from the Middle East might have traveled to the Americas in the centuries before Christ. Only so-called diffusionists would have accepted a different view. And yet, there it is, this inscription in New Mexico, an undeniable witness from an ancient past telling its history ...Behold, The Los Lunas Decalogue, a fascinating "old" site south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. [more inside]
Signs of Modern Astronomy Seen in Ancient Babylon - "Scientists have found a small clay tablet with markings indicating that a sort of precalculus technique was used to track Jupiter's motion in the night sky." [more inside]
The site of the Tristán de Luna colony has reportedly been found in Pensacola: "'There were 1500 people there ... for about a two-year period' ... The colony lasted from 1559-61 and included 550 Spanish soldiers, about 200 Aztecs and an unknown number of African slaves ... The Luna colony is arguably the first European settlement and unquestionably the oldest multi-year European settlement" in the present-day United States. Just two years ago, the site of a 1567 fort built by the Juan Pardo expedition in western North Carolina [NYT] was confirmed as well. [more inside]
Taxster reviews all of today's hottest P2P programs: KaZaA, Morpheus, Limewire, eDonkey2000, and more! [more inside]
In 2007, Kazakh economist Dmitriy Dey fired up Google Earth to see if he could find any ancient pyramids around his hometown of Kostanay. He didn't, but what he did find was just as unexpected: a crossed square and threefold swastika. Over the next few years, he discovered more and more geoglyphs, including nearly a hundred "mustache mounds." These finds were initially dismissed or ignored by mainstream scientists, but NASA has just released their own imagery of the structures and instructed ISS astronauts to try to collect more.
In 1929, two years after his historic solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne photographed archaeological sites in the American Southwest and Mayan sites in Central America (Google books preview) as a side-gig while Charles helped set North America air mail routes. Almost 80 years later, Erik Berg re-visited those same Southwestern sites, as seen in the exhibition Oblique Views: Archaeology, Photography, and Time (media bank) and book Oblique Views: Aerial Photography and Southwest Archaeology. [more inside]
Archaeologists have discovered one of the richest Mycenaean Greek tombs ever found: a mostly intact shaft grave in Pylos dating from 1600-1400 BC. [SLNYT]
"The Franklin shipwreck is one of the biggest, most celebrated discoveries in 21st-century marine archaeology. It also cleaved open a nasty dispute over the facts of — and credit for — the historic find. As the news went public, the civil servants, researchers, and others who played major roles in the discovery said they found themselves elbowed to the sidelines as the political messaging machine kicked into gear." [more inside]
"Considering the conditions at the time, we understood that the Hittites were highly successful in the kitchen as well as in other areas." In case you're tempted, though, keep in mind that their FDA agents were pretty brutal: "Underlining the hygienic measures taken in Hittite kitchens, Akkor said if a chef with a large, unmanaged beard or long, unmanaged hair cooks in the kitchen or an animal wandered into the kitchen, he or she used to receive a death penalty along with their family."
This Face Changes the Human Story. But How? This is the story of one of the greatest fossil discoveries of the past half century, and of what it might mean for our understanding of human evolution.
Just over a hundred years ago, Frederick Jury lost his brass luggage tag. A few days ago Nicola White, a mudlark, found it on the Thames foreshore. Through Twitter, Nicola, and a bunch of local and family historians, were able to put together his story. [more inside]
Excavate! (Flash) Build a team of archaeologists to manage a dig in Poland. Discover ruins, catalog nails and tombstone pieces, deal with local officials and press, earn more research funding and see if you can achieve a master's in archaeology with this half-hour turn-based isometric exploration game.
If fifteen houses are built on top of one another, which one is the most important? The Big Dig, a long read about shipwrecks under Istanbul, archaeological "surplus", Neolithic footprints, elephants fed to lions, and the collision of modern city planning imperatives with a glut of priceless antiquities. SLNewYorker. [more inside]
We think of the Stone Age as something that early humans lived through. But we are not the only species that has invented it.
In 1986, workers in Sichuan province in China were digging for clay for bricks when they stumbled onto an archaeological treasure: a major site for a Bronze Age civilization previously only guessed at. The civilization, called Sanxingdui (wikipedia), had an art style unlike any other Chinese civilization previously encountered. Archaeologists had suspected there was a major city in the area since an early jade find in 1929 and a team went to work immediately, unearthing burial pits and gorgeous artifacts. (More history of the site.) An exhibit of treasures from Sanxingdui is on display in Houston until September; a permanent display can be found at a museum dedicated to the culture in Chengdu. Meanwhile, archaeologists continue to discover more of the city (warning: autoplay video) and even the remains of some of the inhabitants.
In AD 79, a baker put his loaf of bread into the oven. Nearly 2,000 years later it was found during excavations in Herculaneum. The British Museum asked Giorgio Locatelli to recreate the recipe as part of his culinary investigations for Pompeii Live. [more inside]
Yesterday, the Jamestown Rediscovery and the Smithsonian Institution announced that they had identified the remains of Capt. Gabriel Archer, Rev. Robert Hunt, Sir Ferdinando Wainman and Capt. William West, four of the earliest leaders of the Jamestowne settlement. Among Archer's remnants was a small silver box that researchers have identified as a Roman Catholic reliquary. [more inside]
Another of the dead of Duffy's Cut is being reburied in Ireland. Archaeological and historical work near Malvern, Pennsylvania has located the shantytown where 57 Irish immigrants died in 1832. Originally eight deaths were attributed to cholera, but papers located by the grandson of a railroad executive suggested the encampment was larger. Now we know that some of the victims were killed, possibly after escaping a quarantine, and their bodies are slowly being returned home. NYT article from 2010. Six-minute YT trailer for an Irish documentary (in English).
While the ancient city of Herculaneum is experiencing something of a archaeological renaissance, the nearby site of ancient city of Pompeii is falling apart due to a cocktail of mismanagement, corruption, weather, neglect, and the decisions of the past. The Smithsonian provides an overview. [more inside]
Until this year, Vermont had never formally decommissioned any roads. Ever. This has had some implications.... [via jessamyn's Twitter]
Workers renovating Emerson High School in Oklahoma City recently discovered slate blackboards, still complete with chalked lessons and drawings, which had been covered up by the installation of new boards in early December, 1917. An additional photogallery (and autoplaying video) can be found here (slightly different versions of that page here and here).
Trading Gold: Why Bronze Age Irish Used Imported Gold “The results of this study are a fascinating finding. They show that there was no universal value of gold, at least until perhaps the first gold coins started to appear nearly two thousand years later. Prehistoric economies were driven by factors more complex than the trade of commodities – belief systems clearly played a major role.” [more inside]
New fieldwork in West Turkana, Kenya, has identified evidence of much earlier (than 2.6 ma) hominin technological behaviour. We report (paywalled) the discovery of Lomekwi 3, a 3.3-million-year-old archaeological site where in situ stone artefacts occur in spatiotemporal association(pdf) with Pliocene hominin fossils in a wooded palaeoenvironment. Given the implications of the Lomekwi 3 assemblage for models aiming to converge environmental change, hominin evolution and technological origins (pdf), we propose for it the name ‘Lomekwian’, which predates (pdf) the Oldowan by 700,000 years and marks a new beginning to the known archaeological record. (abstract)
For the first time, "the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered." The recovery of artifacts from the 1794 shipwreck is a milestone for the African Slave Wrecks Project, a collaboration by six partner groups (including the National Museum of African-American Art and Culture and the National Parks Service) to find, document, and preserve archaeological remnants of the slave trade. Some of the objects will be included in exhibits in the NMAAHC.
Bobby Scotto, a fourth grader at the Children’s Workshop School on 12th Street in the East Village, wants to be an archaeologist when he grows up, and he is already off to a good start. In the past few months he has excavated dozens of old coins, a toy watch and other artifacts, all from an unlikely dig site: his classroom’s closet.
Why read lengthy articles on the history of Atari when you can hear stories first-hand? Hear Nolan Bushnell (and a few others) tell all about how a little company named Syzygy became Atari, in clips both new(ish) and old; tune in for four episodes of Once Upon Atari, featuring Atari staff reminiscing about the good times and bad; and visit Alamogordo, New Mexico, home of rocket sled land-speed records and the grave of Ham, the first chimp in space, with Zak Penn as he digs for the truth behind the legend of the buried E.T. cartridges in Atari: Game Over with fans and Howard Scott Warshaw, the man who made the Atari E.T. game in five weeks. [more inside]
In 2000, Luciano Faggiano wanted to open a trattoria in Lecce, in the "boot-heel" of Italy. He bought what looked to be a modern building, but he had to open the floors in 2001 to find a leaking sewer pipes that were causing continuous humidity problems. He didn't find pipes, but a subterranean world tracing back before the birth of Jesus: a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel and even etchings from the Knights Templar. Instead of opening a restaurant, his family has a museum, which is also available to virtually tour on Google Maps.
Massive Underground City Found in Cappadocia Region of Turkey When the invaders came, Cappadocians knew where to hide: underground, in one of the 250 subterranean safe havens they had carved from pliable volcanic ash rock called tuff. [more inside]
The oldest wooden statue in the world was found in a Russian bog in 1890. The Shigir Idol is believed to be about 9500 years old. It is 2.8 meters high; an additional 1.93 meters of statue were lost during the turmoil of the 20th century.
The Heslington Brain is a well-preserved 2600 year old brain that was found in an Iron Age excavation site in York in 2008. Its preservation was likely due to the low-oxygen environment of the mud in which it was found. The fact that the man was decapitated and the body disposed of elsewhere protected the brain from the ravages of gut bacteria as well. [more inside]