"There’s a wonderful term used by anthropologists: “osteobiography,” the “biography of the bones.”
Kennewick Man’s osteobiography tells a tale of an eventful life, which a newer radiocarbon analysis puts at having taken place 8,900 to 9,000 years ago. He was a stocky, muscular man about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing about 160 pounds. He was right-handed. His age at death was around 40."
After years of legal wrangling and scientific arguments, Smithsonian Magazine takes on the history of the Kennewick Man and the long-awaited publication of studies co-edited by physical anthropologist Douglas Owsley (of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History's Anthropology department.) [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict
on Aug 26, 2014 -
The challenge of adding new subterranean floors to London houses has become a highly lucrative business. The difficulty is in getting the digger out again. To construct a no-expense-spared new basement, the digger has to go so deep into the London earth that it is unable to drive out again. What could be done?
posted by Chrysostom
on Jun 5, 2014 -
The Antikythera mechanism (wiki
), the world's oldest computing device, has fascinated mankind since it was discovered by sponge divers in 1900. Modern technology has revealed much of how the mechanism works, but there is still plenty of mystery surrounding the artefact. One example is "Fragment D", which doesn't fit in with the rest of the recovered pieces. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is setting up an expedition
to explore the wreck, this time using a nifty hi-tech exosuit
, eliminating many of the disadvantages of using regular diving equipment or remotely operated submersibles. The hope is to recover a hypothetical second mechanism, in addition to the other valuable archaeological finds still waiting at the shipwreck site.
posted by Harald74
on Jun 5, 2014 -
Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication
is a free book (PDF) from NASA. The premise is that communication with alien lifeforms will have some (cautious) analogues to interpreting past cultures, and to the work that anthropologists and linguists do cross-culturally. Among the 16 chapters are: Beyond Linear B - The Metasemiotic Challenge of Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Learning To Read - Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and, Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal.
posted by Rumple
on May 23, 2014 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
"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 -
"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 -
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 -
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 -