Archive for June, 2010

Topic Ancient Hunting

I was not able to copy the photo’s that are associated with this post, bur if you follow the link below you can see how impressive a find this is.

Mysterious lines on the deserts of the Near East are massive ancient hunting tools, made up of low stone walls.

British RAF pilots in the early 20th century were the first to spot the strange kite-like lines on the deserts of Israel, Jordan and Egypt from the air and wonder about their origins. The lines are low, stone walls, usually found as angled pairs, that begin far apart and converge at circular pits. In some places in Jordan the lines formed chains up to 40 miles long.

Were they made by some weird kind of fault? Ancient astronauts?

A new study of 16 of what are called desert kites in the eastern Sinai Desert confirms what many researchers have long suspected: The walls form large funnels to direct gazelle and other large game animals into killing pits. What’s more, the kites are between 2,300 and 2,400-years-old, were abandoned about 2,200 years ago and are just the right size to have worked on local gazelles and other hooved game.

The research shows that the construction of the kite was actually more sophisticated than it seemed before, their use was more diverse than we thought, and the ancients’ knowledge of animal ethology was deeper and more intimate than one would think,” said Uzi Avner of Ben-Gurion University-Eilat, in Israel.

“We have no doubt at all that the kites were built for hunting, not for any other suggested function.”

Avner is a co-author of a paper on the new research which will appear in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Arid Environments.

For a time, many researchers suspected the kites might be corrals for protecting domesticated animals, but that idea has fallen out of favor as more research has been done.

“The hunting theory is the most accepted, and it appears that for most kites this was indeed the use,” said Dani Nadel, another kite researcher from the University of Haifa, Israel. “There are similar structures, either from wood or from stone, on most continents.”

Interestingly, the walls of the kites are not high enough to actually block the animals. Rather, they just seem to channel herds in the right direction. Modern wildlife managers in the same region have used a similar approach by laying pipes on the ground to direct gazelles into a corral, Avner reports.

A careful examination of not just the kites but their locations in relation to pastures and migration routes makes it very clear that desert kites were specialized for specific types of animals. Before the 20th century the region was home to several different species of gazelle, wild asses, hartebeests, oryxes, ibexes, dorcas and onagers.

Some kites cleverly exploited low spots in the landscape to lure animals into the unseen killing pit.

“Indeed, the pit would have appeared to the animals in the funnel as an opening in the boundary walls of the kite through which they could flee,” Avner reports.

Another sort of kite was found on steep slopes or ridges below a plateau or shoulder of a hill so that animals driven over the ridge would suddenly be confronted by the installation before and below them, Avner explained.

As for why the kites fell out of use, it’s still a bit of a mystery, says Nadel.

“They were abandoned, in several south-Negev cases, by the beginning of the middle Bronze age,” said Nadel. “This may suggest a climatic change and or a shift in subsistence strategies.”

Original article

Larry OHanlon

April 2010



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Topic: Sharing Meat

Bone from the Qesem Cave showing irregular cutmarks.


Contestants on TV shows like Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen know that their meat-cutting skills will be scrutinized by a panel of unforgiving judges. Now, new archaeological evidence is getting the same scrutiny by scientists at Tel Aviv University and the University of Arizona.

Their research is providing new clues about how, where and when our communal habits of butchering meat developed, and they’re changing the way anthropologists, zoologists and archaeologists think about our evolutionary development, economics and social behaviors through the millennia.

Presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, new finds unearthed at Qesem Cave in Israel suggest that during the late Lower Paleolithic period (between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago), people hunted and shared meat differently than they did in later times. Instead of a prey’s carcass being prepared by just one or two persons resulting in clear and repeated cutting marks — the forefathers of the modern butcher — cut marks on ancient animal bones suggest something else.

Different rules of the game

“The cut marks we are finding are both more abundant and more randomly oriented than those observed in later times, such as the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods,” says Prof. Avi Gopher of TAU’s Department of Archaeology. “What this could mean is that either one person from the clan butchered the group’s meat in a few episodes over time, or multiple persons hacked away at it in tandem,” he interprets. This finding provides clues as to social organization and  structures in these early groups of hunters and gatherers, he adds.

Among human hunters in the past 200,000 years, from southern Africa to upstate New York or sub-arctic Canada, “there are distinctive patterns of how people hunt, who owns the products of the hunt, how carcasses are butchered and shared,” Prof. Gopher says. “The rules of sharing are one of the basic organizing principles of hunter-gatherer cultures. From 200,000 years ago to the present day, the patterns of meat-sharing and butchering run in a long clear line. But in the Qesem Cave, something different was happening. There was a distinct shift about 200,000 years ago, and archaeologists and anthropologists may have to reinterpret hunting and meat-sharing rituals.”

Meat-sharing practices, Prof. Gopher says, can tell present-day archaeologists about who was in a camp, how people dealt with danger and how societies were organized. “The basic logic of butchering large animals has not changed for a long time. Everyone knows how to deal with the cuts of meat, and we see cut marks on bones that are very distinctive and similar, matching even those of modern butchers. It’s the more random slash marks on the bones in Qesem that suggests something new.”

Where’s the beef?

The Qesem Cave finds demonstrate that man was at the top of the food chain during this period, but that they shared the meat differently than their later cousins. The TAU excavators and Prof. Mary Stiner of the University of Arizona (Tucson) hypothesize that the Qesem Cave people hunted cooperatively. After the hunt, they carried the highest-quality body parts of their prey back to the cave, where the meat was cut using stone-blade tools and then cooked on the fire.

“We believe this reflects a different way of butchering and sharing. More than one person was doing the job, and it fits our expectations of a less formal structure of cooperation,” says Prof. Gopher. “The major point here is that around 200,000 years ago or before, there was a change in behavior. What does it mean? Time and further excavations may tell.”

Qesem, which means “magic” in Hebrew, was discovered seven miles east of Tel Aviv about nine years ago during highway construction. It is being excavated on behalf of TAU’s Department of Archaeology by Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai in collaboration with an international group of experts. The cave contains the remains of animal bones dating back to 400,000 years ago. Most of the remains are from fallow deer, others from wild ancestors of horse, cattle, pig, and even some tortoise. The data that this dig provides has been invaluable: Until now there was considerable speculation as to whether or not people from the late Lower Paleolithic era were able to hunt at all, or whether they were reduced to scavenging, the researchers say.

Original article:




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Topic: Bees-

Recently discovered beehives from ancient Israel 3,000 years ago appear to be the oldest evidence for beekeeping ever found, scientists reported.

Archaeologists identified the remains of honeybees — including workers, drones, pupae, and larvae — inside about 30 clay cylinders thought to have been used as beehives at the site of Tel Rehov in the Jordan valley in northern Israel. This is the first such discovery from ancient times.

“Although texts and wall paintings suggest that bees were kept in the Ancient Near East for the production of precious wax and honey, archaeological evidence for beekeeping has never been found,” the researchers, led by Guy Bloch of Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote in a paper in the June 8 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The hives have a small hole on one side for the bees to come and go, and on the other side is a lid for the beekeeper to use to access the honeycomb. The archeologists used carbon dating on grains that had spilled from a broken storage jar next to the hives to estimate that they were about 3,000 years old.

“The exceptional preservation of these remains provides unequivocal identification of the clay cylinders as the most ancient beehives yet found,” the researchers wrote.

The scientists used a high-resolution electron microscope to study the bee remains, and found that their legs and wings suggest they belonged to a different subspecies than the bees currently found in Israel. In fact, the ancient bees most closely resemble those found in modern-day Turkey. That suggests the ancient people may have imported a specialized bee species for its superior characteristics, such as a milder temper or better honey production.

The researchers found three rows of these hives in a courtyard that used to be part of a large architectural complex during the 10th to 9th centuries B.C.

“The location of such a large apiary in the middle of a dense urban area is puzzling because bees can be very aggressive, especially during routine beekeeping practices or honey harvesting,” the researchers wrote. They speculate that maybe the honey was so valuable it was worth placing in such a congested area to keep it safe.

Overall, the findings “suggest that beekeeping already was an elaborate agricultural practice in Israel 3,000 years ago,” Bloch and colleagues wrote.

Original Article:


Clara Moskowitz


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Topic: Recreating ancient beer

A 9,000 year old beer made of rice, honey and hawthorn may give a whole new meaning to cracking open a cold one.

The beer, called Chateau Jiahu, will come July be on sale in British Columbia and depending on sales perhaps sometimes soon in the rest of Canada.

Chateau Jiahu has its roots in a village in Hunan province in northern China. A molecular archeologist Patrick McGovern from the University of Pennsylvania found chemical traces of a 9,000 year old beer on some pottery in a dig in the Neolithic village of Jiahu. The beer was made of a blend of rice, honey and hawthorn berries.

McGovern and the folks at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware decided to take the ancient beer’s ingredients and make a modern-day version of it. No easy task for the modern beer maker. “All that Patrick McGovern could tell us is what the evidence was or a laundry list of organic substances,” said Sam Calagione, founder and president of the brewery.

“From there we have to create a recipe. We have to come up with the percentage or ratios and volumes of weight of honey, rice and fruit. We have to figure out how strong an alcohol it might have been. Whether it was filtered or cloudy, carbonated or flat. We have a lot of creative latitude to bring a modern interpretation of this ancient beverage back to life.”

And it seems the company has succeeded with Chateau Jiahu winning a gold medal at the Great American Beer Fest in 2009.

The company began working with McGovern in 2001 to recreate ancient beer recipes. One of the first projects Calagione and his staff collaborated on with McGovern was the Midas Touch – a beer based on materials found in a 2,700 year old tomb in Turkey which was believed to be for King Midas. They also have whipped up batches of a ninth century Finnish beer that they call Sah’tea.

The most recent beer the team has created from McGovern’s molecular evidence is called Theobroma, based on an ancient beverage from Central America which includes cocoa, cocoa beans and chilies. It’s supposed to be sold in the United States and British Columbia in late July.

For beer lovers here in Ontario Chateau Jiahu may not be available but Calagione advises that they can find the company’s 60 Minute India Pale Ale at provincial liquor stores.

Original article:


By Debra Black


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Topic: Bread and beer-Models of Bakers and Brewers  

Happy Summer solstice everyone!  

Pictures of the models:  

Brewers and Bakers 12th Dynasty







Brewing and Baking-Meketre Tomb Thebes

Model of Making Bread

Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, reign of Amenemhat I, ca. 1975 b.c.
Egyptian; From the tomb of Meketre, western Thebes
Plastered and painted wood.

The figures in Meketre’s models, especially those from the combined bakery and brewery, are small works of art in their own right. Although several figures in a given model may be performing the same task, each is a distinct individual, and each has a slightly different pose.  

The most striking aspect of Meketre’s brewers is their arms, which were specially crafted for each figure according to the task he performs. These figures and those in Meketre’s other models convey a feeling of motion that was seldom achieved, or desired, in more formal Egyptian statuary. Note particularly the pose of the man decanting beer at the right.  


Source: Bakers and Brewers from Meketre’s model bakery [Egyptian; From the tomb of Meketre, western Thebes] (20.3.12) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art  

A Short Bio Meketre-   

 He was a high official during the reign of Mentuhotep II, Mentuhotep III, Mentuhotep IV and Amenemhat I which spanned the 11th and 12th Dynasties. He served as Overseer of the Six Great Law Courts, Treasurer and Chief Steward. He died during the early years of Amenemhat’s reign and was cone of the last high-officials to be buried at Thebes before the royal court moved to Lisht.  

Atricle at   

Metropolitan Meseum of Art 

Meketre had more models in his tomb, those and more on his tomb which with its representations of ancient Egyptian daily life is so important to our understanding of that social dynamic beyond the Pharaohs. 





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Topic: Fire-there goes Raw Food



 My Thoughts:

Did they mean discover fire, I hope so.  I do wonder why it took so long for the first fast food diner -oh wait once we could control fire, everything was fast food-or at least a bit easier to eat; Good Eats, well that might have had to wait for spices and let’s not forget salt! 


A study has found that fire was invented about 790,000 years ago, prompting the migration of ancient humans from Africa to Europe.

Studying the flints found at an archaeological site on the bank of the river Jordan, Hebrew University scientists in Jerusalem (al-Quds) found that ancient humans could start fire, rather than relying on natural phenomena such as lightning.

“The new data shows there was a continued, controlled use of fire through many civilizations and that they were not dependent on natural fires,” archaeologist Nira Alperson-Afil said on Sunday.

Although no ancient matches or lighters were found at the site, experts believe that burned flint patterns found in the same place throughout 12 civilizations proves a fire-making ability, Reuters reported.

Since the site is located in the Jordan valley, between Africa and Europe, experts believe the invention of fire has had a great role in the migration of humans northward.

“Once they mastered fire to protect themselves from predators and provide warmth and light, they were secure enough to move into and populate unfamiliar territory,” said Alperson-Afil.

Original Article:


October 27, 2008

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Topic; Prehistoric kitchens and jewlery

Shell jewlery

Neanderthals were using jewelry like ancient Yankees caps before Homo sapiens arrived, and hominids had kitchens and workshops nearly a million years ago.

We Homo sapiens consider ourselves pretty special, with our symbolic art, abstract thinking, and highly organized societies. But evidence is mounting that these hallmarks of modern human behavior may have existed in earlier hominids.

In Spanish caves once occupied by Neanderthals, archaeologist João Zilhão of the University of Bristol unearthed punctured scallop shells crusted with mineral pigments: Neanderthal jewelry. Painted with reds and yellows, the shells may have been worn as pendants, perhaps conveying social information about the wearer to other members of the group. “It’s like putting on your Yankees cap when you go to the stadium so people know who you are,” Zilhão says.

Body ornaments had been found at Neanderthal camps before, but they dated to near the period when Neanderthals shared Europe with modern humans. That led some archaeologists to suggest that Neanderthals just mindlessly copied ornaments they saw on their Cro-Magnon neighbors. However, most of the relics found by Zilhão date to 50,000 years ago, 10,000 years before the first modern humans arrived. The Neanderthals can finally get clear credit for their artistry, he says.

Unexpected sophistication is also turning up among our even more ancient ancestors. A 790,000-year-old hominid settlement in northern Israel, excavated by archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, appears to have been divided into distinct functional spaces, with a hearthside food preparation area and a spot dedicated to flint toolmaking. Researchers had thought that only Homo sapiens had such well-configured living spaces. Now it seems that far earlier humans kept orderly homes.

Original article:


April 2010

by  Eliza Strickland

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