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Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

I’m taking a few days off to work on the 2 web sites I manage, so see you week after next with new material!

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Topic: What food relics will this site give us?

 

I can’t wait to see what food items might be found here.

Dartmoor in Devon

The bronze age items found on Dartmoor, Devon, include two wooden stakes and human remains wrapped in animal fur. Photograph: David Lomax/Robert Harding

Woven bag filled with amber and shale beads among items unearthed in isolated Devon peat mound.

An “extraordinary” collection of early bronze age remains and artefacts including amber beads inside a stitched bag or basket has been discovered in one of England‘s most remote spots.

The find on Dartmoor in Devon, in a peat mound isolated from other archaeological sites, is being hailed as one of the most important for a century, and experts hope it will reveal more about life 4,000 years ago.

More work will be done on the burial cist – a stone-built chest –to try to establish its age and the age of its contents and also to determine why human remains were left in such a remote location.

The cist on Whitehorse Hill, northern Dartmoor, was excavated in the summer. Inside was cremated human bone and burnt textile placed within animal hide or fur. This was positioned on top of a thick leather and textile object, which in turn was placed on a mat of plant material.

Also inside the cist was a delicately woven bag or basket with fine stitching still visible. There were also almost 100 beads, some of them made of amber and others of shale.

Some 200 cists have been found on Dartmoor, sunk into the ground or positioned in barrows or mounds. What makes the Whitehorse cist unusual is that so much of its contents have been preserved and also the fact that it is so far away from other sites.

It is exciting because relatively little is known about early bronze age life in the south west of England. Jane Marchand, senior archaeologist for Dartmoor National Park, said: “It really is extraordinary that so much has survived. This couldn’t be in a more remote area of Dartmoor.”

Other discoveries include two wooden stakes that seem to have been used to define the position of the cist. Scientists hope to discover if they were sharpened with flint or a bronze tool. If, as suspected, the stakes are made of hazel, it may indicate this type of wood was being managed at the time.

Marchand said the spot, 600 metres above sea level, is close to the heads of two rivers, which was probably why the area was chosen as the burial site.

Studies of pollen, other plant remains and microscopic single-cell organisms captured within the peat will also provide more information about vegetation and climate at the time of the burial.

There are plans to rebuild the cist and replace it in the mound where it was found,

Original Article:

guardian.co.uk

 

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Topic: Shift from hunting to farming

 

Divers retrieve prehistoric wood from Lake Huron.

Original article:

sciencedaily

Dec 2011

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Happy Holidays Everyone!!!!!

 

Topic:  Ancient Tablet

The curse tablet calls on Iao, the Greek name for Yahweh, god of the Old Testament, to strike down Babylas who is identified as being a greengrocer.

A fiery ancient curse inscribed on two sides of a thin lead tablet was meant to afflict, not a king or pharaoh, but a simple greengrocer selling fruits and vegetables some 1,700 years ago in the city of Antioch, researchers find.

Written in Greek, the tablet holding the curse was dropped into a well in Antioch, then one of the Roman Empire’s biggest cities in the East, today part of southeast Turkey, near the border with Syria.

The curse calls upon Iao, the Greek name for Yahweh, the god of the Old Testament, to afflict a man named Babylas who is identified as being a greengrocer. The tablet lists his mother’s name as Dionysia, “also known as Hesykhia” it reads. The text was translated by Alexander Hollmann of the University of Washington.

The artifact, which is now in the Princeton University Art Museum, was discovered in the 1930s by an archaeological team but had not previously been fully translated. The translation is detailed in the most recent edition of the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik.

“O thunder-and-lightning-hurling Iao, strike, bind, bind together Babylas the greengrocer,” reads the beginning of one side of the curse tablet. “As you struck the chariot of Pharaoh, so strike his [Babylas’] offensiveness.”

Hollmann told LiveScience that he has seen curses directed against gladiators and charioteers, among other occupations, but never a greengrocer. “There are other people who are named by occupation in some of the curse tablets, but I haven’t come across a greengrocer before,” he said.

The person giving the curse isn’t named, so scientists can only speculate as to what his motives were. “There are curses that relate to love affairs,” Hollmann said. However, “this one doesn’t have that kind of language.” [6 Most Tragic Love Stories in History]

The lead curse tablet is very thin and could have been folded up. This side contains a short summary of what the inscription says and would have gone on the outside.

 

It’s possible the curse was the result of a business rivalry or dealing of some sort. “It’s not a bad suggestion that it could be business related or trade related,” said Hollmann, adding that the person doing the cursing could have been a greengrocer himself. If that’s the case it would suggest that vegetable selling in the ancient world could be deeply competitive. “With any kind of tradesman they have their turf, they have their territory, they’re susceptible to business rivalry.”

The name Babylas, used by a third-century Bishop of Antioch who was killed for his Christian beliefs, suggests the greengrocer may have been a Christian. “There is a very important Bishop of Antioch called Babylas who was one of the early martyrs,” Hollmann said.

Biblical metaphors

The use of Old Testament biblical metaphors initially suggested to Hollmann the curse-writer was Jewish. After studying other ancient magical spells that use the metaphors, he realized that this may not be the case.

“I don’t think there’s necessarily any connection with the Jewish community,” he said. “Greek and Roman magic did incorporate Jewish texts sometimes without understanding them very well.”

In addition to the use of Iao (Yahweh), and reference to the story of the Exodus, the curse tablet also mentions the story of Egypt’s firstborn.

“O thunder—and-lightning-hurling Iao, as you cut down the firstborn of Egypt, cut down his [livestock?] as much as…” (The next part is lost.)

“It could simply be that this [the Old Testament] is a powerful text, and magic likes to deal with powerful texts and powerful names,” Hollmann said. “That’s what makes magic work or make[s] people think it works.”

Original Article:

livescience.com

Photos by  Professor Alexander Hollmann

Dec 2011

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Topic: Bronze Age bowl of nettle stew

The smallest of six oak boats is excavated at the bronze age site near Peterborough. Photograph: Dave Webb/Cambridge Archaeological Unit for the Observer

Archaeological dig reveals hundreds of objects, from six oak-tree boats to a bowl of food.

Six boats hollowed out of oak tree trunks are among hundreds of intact artefacts from 3,000 years ago that have been discovered in the Cambridgeshire fens, the Observer can reveal.

The scale, quality and condition of the objects, the largest bronze age collection ever found in one place in Britain, have astonished archaeologists – and barely a fraction of the site has been excavated.

Unique textile fragments, wicker baskets and wooden sword handles have survived. There are even containers of food, including a bowl with a wooden spoon still wedged into the contents, now analysed as nettle stew, which may have been a favourite dish in 1000BC. The boats – two of which bear unusual decoration – are in such good condition that the wood grain and colour can be seen clearly, as can signs of repairs by their owners.

David Gibson, head of Cambridge University’s archaeological unit, said the discoveries were internationally important. “One canoe would be great. Two, exceptional. Six almost feels greedy,” he said. Mark Knight, the unit’s senior project officer, added: “We talk about bronze age landscapes and it always feels as if we’re looking through a very narrow window, with the curtains partly drawn or slightly misted over. Now it’s as though someone’s opened the windows and we’re seeing so much more.”

The artefacts survived because they were immersed in deep layers of peat and silt. When those layers are lifted off, “the objects are so pristine”, Knight said, “it’s as if 3,000 years never happened. The softest, wettest deposits ensured that past activity has been cosseted.”

The artefacts were submerged under an ancient watercourse along the southern edge of the Flag Fen Basin, land altered over millennia by rising sea levels. In the 17th century the Dutch showed how to drain waterlogged land, and today the site east of Peterborough is accessible. Knight said: “In our [bronze age] landscape… you could have walked along the bottom of the fenland basin and to the bottom of the North Sea hunting for deer. By the Roman period, you were perched up at Peterborough, looking out over a huge wet expanse of peat and reed swamp.” At ground level, there had been no clue to the artefacts’ existence because they were so deep – four metres below ground – and would not have been picked up by aerial, radar, or other exploratory surveys.

The excavation, which is likely to continue for years, has been made possible thanks to Hanson, a bricks and cement supplier. Under planning regulations, the company is obliged to fund archaeological digs, but it has been especially helpful, say the archaeologists. Crucially, and unusually, they were able to excavate down to unprecedented depths since Hanson’s need for clay for bricks requires extraction at Jurassic age levels. Knight said: “So we get to see entire buried landscapes. Some of our colleagues try to find ways of getting to the bottom of the North Sea… [while] we get an early view of the same submerged space, but via the humble brick.”

Along the 150-metre stretch of a bronze age river channel, they have found the best preserved example of prehistoric river life. There are weirs and fish traps in the form of big woven willow baskets, plus fragments of garments with ornamental hems made from fibrous bark and jewellery, including green and blue beads. Extensive finds of metalwork include bronze swords and spears, some apparently tossed into the river in perfect condition, possibly as votive offerings. One of the boats is 8.3 metres long. “It feels as if you could get the whole family – granny, grandad, a couple of goats and everything – in there,” said Knight. The smallest boat is just over four metres long.

The finds reveal how, with the rise in water levels in the bronze age, people adapted to a wetland environment, using rivers for transport, living off pike, perch, carp and eel. How far they could travel in the log boats is unclear. Although the boats were unlikely to have been used at sea, one of the bronze age swords is of a type normally found in northern Spain.

Once removed from the fenland, the artefacts must be conserved before eventual public display. Knight said: “Often at an excavation, it takes much imagination for it to become apparent. This site doesn’t need that. It’s intact. It feels as if we’ve actually caught up the [bronze age] people. It feels like we’re there.”

Original Article:

guardian.co.uk

Dalya Alberge

Saturday 3 December 2011

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Map of the Caribbean Sea and its islands.

Image via Wikipedia

Topic: Animals introduced as food source

Archaeologists Find New Evidence Of Animals Being Introduced To Prehistoric Caribbean.

Original Article:

news.ncsu.edu

Dec 2011

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Topic: Hunters

Map of Oman

Trail of ‘stone breadcrumbs’ reveals the identity of 1 of the first human groups to leave Africa.

Original Article:

eurekalert.org

Nov, 2011

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