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wine2If you weren’t careful, you might end up beaten by grape thieves skulking in the darkness.

A University of Cincinnati graduate student writes about the contractual obligations of vineyard guards and researchers from around the world contribute more stories from ancient times in the most recent volumes of the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists (BASP).

UC’s Peter van Minnen, associate professor of classics, has edited the international journal since 2006. BASP is an annual collection of articles and reviews pertaining to important discoveries from around the world in the field of papyrology – the study of ancient texts on papyrus and other materials.

The latest volume of BASP is the 50th in the series and the eighth to have been edited at UC. The recently published journal features 35 contributions from 26 writers from 11 countries. The previous year’s volume features 44 contributions from 41 writers from 14 countries. Each of the past two volumes includes content in three languages.

In “Guarding Grapes in Roman Egypt (P.Mich. inv. 438),” UC graduate student Kyle Helms details what he deciphered from a roughly 3-by-5 inch shred of dark brown papyrus dating back to the fourth century.

In large, cursive script, the hired guard outlines his labor contract: “I agree that I have made a contract with you on the condition that I guard your property, a vineyard near the village Panoouei, from the present day until vintage and transport, so that there be no negligence, and on the condition that I receive in return for pay for all of the aforementioned time” an unknown amount of money, as the papyrus is broken off at the bottom.

In his contribution, Helms references another papyrus record of a vineyard guard who was beaten by “violent and rapacious” criminals while attempting to chase them from the vineyard.

Original article:
Phys.org
March24, 2014

‘Homo’ is the only primate whose tooth size decreases as its brain size increases.

From athletes to couch potatoes: Humans through 6,000 years of farming.

Ancient nomads spread earliest domestic grains along Silk Road, study finds.

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Among the findings are earth and kiln barbecues, their tools and cookers. AA photo

Pieces of grills, which date back to 2,200 years ago, have been unearthed in the ancient city of Assos in the northwestern province of Çanakkale’s Ayvacık district. The barbecues are made of earth and kiln.

The head of the excavations in the ancient city, Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University member Professor Nurettin Aslan said they had found important clues that locals in the area did not fry fish and meat, but grilled them in barbecues, cooking them in a healthier way. Among the findings are earth and kiln barbecues, their tools and cookers, Aslan said, adding, “These are small portable cookers. We see that some of them have the ‘bearded Hermes’ figure.”

He said people from the ancient era were eating healthier than that of today. “Some barbecues have high carriers. They are directly out on fire. Because earth is the most fire-resistant material, all these barbecues are made of earth. They are also low-cost,” he said.

Aslan said the barbecues were all shaped by hand; some of them were round and some were rectangular in shape. “These barbecues from 2,200 years ago are, in my opinion, healthier and stronger. We think people mostly grilled fish and meat on them, because we know the locals of Assos had never eaten fried foods. They have an abundance of fish because they were living on the coastline. Last year, we found pretty functional plates, where fish was served, as well as hooks,” he said.

hurrieyedailynews

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Topic: Ancient clam sites
A three-year study of ancient clam gardens in the Pacific Northwest reveals that coastal First Nations people used to reap superior harvests using rock-walled beach terraces.

The study’s lead author, Amy Groesbeck, was a student in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management when she initiated the research for her master’s thesis. Her supervisors, who all helped with research and authoring the study, included SFU professors Anne Salomon, an ecologist; Dana Lepofsky, an archaeologist; and University of Washington biologist Kirsten Rowell.

In the past, as indigenous coastal communities from Alaska to Washington State grew in numbers, people needed to devise sustainable ways of feeding themselves. One of the ways they did this was by cultivating clams in human-made, rock-walled beach terraces known as clam gardens.

When the researchers transplanted more than 800 baby clams into six ancient clam gardens and five non-walled natural beaches to compare their growth rates they made a groundbreaking discovery.

They found that the ancient clam gardens produced quadruple the number of butter clams and twice the number of littleneck clams as the unmodified clam beaches.

They also found that clams in the ancient gardens grew almost twice as fast and were more likely to survive than baby clams transplanted into unmodified beaches in the same area.

It is the first study to provide empirical evidence of ancient clam gardens’ superior productivity.

“We discovered that by flattening the slope of the beach ancient clam gardens expanded the real-estate for clams at the intertidal height at which they grow and survive best,” explains Salomon, an assistant professor in The School of Resource and Environmental Management.

“Traditional knowledge by coastal First Nations members further revealed that their ancestors boosted these gardens’ productivity by adding ground clam shell and pebbles to them.”

The researchers began their clam garden investigations in 2008. From 2009 to 2011 they focused their efforts on Quadra Island due to the sheer number of clam gardens available to survey and use as experimental replicates.

They surveyed 11 ancient clam gardens and 10 un-walled clam beaches and compared the number, size and weight of clams. They collaborated with indigenous knowledge holders from the Tla’amin First Nation and Laich-kwil-tach Treaty Society.

“Our discovery provides practical insights into sustainable ancient marine management techniques that can inform local food security strategies today,” says Groesbeck, who graduated in 2013. She is now a research assistant at the University of Washington.

According to the study, some of today’s shellfish aquaculture practices have been shown to undermine near-shore ecosystem resilience. They “alter the community composition of near-shore systems, change sediment characteristics, and facilitate the introduction of invasive species.”

Lepofsky says, “On the Northwest Coast we are fortunate to have both the tangible record of clam gardens and the culture-based knowledge of local indigenous people to educate us. The lessons learned here have global implications for food security, and about the way indigenous people interact with their land and seascapes.”

Lepofsky is now leading an archaeological team that is comparing the growth rate of clams prior to and during the time when ancient clam gardens were prevalent. The team has expanded its research to the province’s central coast and elsewhere via the Clam Garden Network, a newly formed group involving Aboriginal people and Parks Canada researchers.

“One of the reasons this study is so compelling is that it combines First Nations knowledge with the tools of archaeology and ecology,” says Lepofsky.

“While archaeologists often work with First Nations, it is somewhat rare in ecology. The combination of these three sources of knowledge is very powerful.”

The study has been published in PLOS One.

Original article:
sfu.ca
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Archaeological excavations have finally answered the question regarding the age and development of the mysterious prehistoric fields enclosed by earthen ridges known as ‘Celtic fields’.

Using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), a technique that dates the last exposure to light or heat sources of quartz minerals, archaeologist Stijn Arnoldussen from the University of Groningen managed to determine that these banks around the later prehistoric field plots were constructed more than 3100 years ago and remained in use for hundreds of years thereafter. Until now, no reliable dates were available to securely date the Dutch Celtic fields. Moreover, his research indicated that the Celtic field-banks were constructed out of sods taken from wet heathlands, near alder carrs or from stream valleys. Such sods were taken to the settlements, mixed with dung and domestic refuse and – akin to modern fertilizer – taken back to the field plots as manure. Through the process of uprooting field weeds and then discarding them at the field’s edges, this mixture came to form banks, ever so gradually, between fields. Over the course of hundreds of years, c. 1 m high banks developed.

Research

Through manually digging small test-pits and analysing hundreds of soils samples from the banks and Celtic field plots at Lunteren (municipality of Ede, the Netherlands), Arnoldussen successfully managed to determine how the banks were constructed and to accurately date the banks. These excavations were conducted in cooperation with the Municipality of Ede, the Province of Gelderland and land-owner ‘Stichting Geldersch Landschap & Kastelen´. “The problem is that we have known the locations of these Celtic fields for decades thanks to aerial photography and, more recently, due to laser altimetry analyses”, states Arnoldussen, “but that we essentially were clueless about how the banks were constructed or for what period of time this system of embanked fields was in function”. This is peculiar, as Arnoldussen argues that “Celtic fields are one of the most extensive and still visible types of archaeology in the present-day Dutch landscape”. Indeed, the size of Celtic field systems can be vast. The Celtic field complex targeted by the Groningen Institute of Archaeology at Lunteren measured at least 210 hectares in prehistory.

Age of the Celtic field banks

Through the application of a special technique that dates the last heat- or light-exposure of quartz particles (Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating or OSL, in collaboration with the Netherlands Centre for Luminescene dating at Wageningen University), various soil samples from the Celtic field banks could be dated. “The results are way more spectacular than anticipated!”, exclaims Arnoldussen, “It showed that the Celtic field system remained in use for hundreds of years: certainly 700 years, but possibly even for one millennium!”. The prehistoric banks were constructed around 1100 cal BC but were still increasing in height 700 years later. It is probable that their use spanned into the Roman era. This shows that Celtic field systems are not only vast in surface area, but also represent an agricultural landscape of unprecedented stability and durability. “This most have been an utmost traditional agricultural system”, clarifies Arnoldussen, “in which is was of vital importance to continue the planting, tending to and harvesting of crops in the same ways, and on the near same spots, as your ancestors”. Palaeobotanical analyses of the samples showed that barley, wheat and flax were cultivated. According to Arnoldussen, there has never been a (agri)cultural landscape in the history or the prehistory of the Dutch, that surpasses the Celtic field system in permanence and durability.

Celtic field banks

The composition of the Celtic field banks was previously subject to debate, states Arnoldussen: ”Many wild theories have been brought to the fore, for example that the banks consisted of cleared-out tree stubs, stones or driftsand, yet none of these were found during our excavations of the banks. The banks rather appear to comprise mineral and organic sods of low-lying, wet, parts of the landscape that were mixed with dung and debris at small prehistoric hamlets.” As the excavation of the Groningen team was situated on the high-and-dry flank of a Saale-period glacial ridge (the Goudsberg of Lunteren), the team was initially somewhat puzzled by the discovery of plants of wet landscapes (lesser bulrush, sedges, alder pollen) on the ridge. “They would have needed to walk two kilometres to lower lying land beyond the glacial ridge in prehistory”, clarifies Arnoldussen, “but as we have also found charcoal indicative of alder trees used for firewood from the same lowland areas, they presumably used ox-powered carts to do the heavy lifting.”

Despite these important discoveries, the investigators are adamant that there is still much to be learned. “We now know the age of several banks in two Dutch Celtic fields, yet the precise ways in which the Celtic field agriculture was executed (crop rotation, fallow period, and interspersed occupation) and whether Celtic fields in other parts of the Low Countries are similar, remains unclear”, according to Arnoldussen. Therefore, this summer, Arnoldussen sets out to excavate yet another Dutch Celtic field, this time within the coversand landscapes of the Southern Netherlands.
Research by University of Groningen archaeologist Stijn Arnoldussen

Original article:
rug.nl
March14, 2014

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