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Archive for February, 2016

Cornucopia, horn of plenty

Cornucopia, horn of plenty

Original Article:

STEPHENIE LIVINGSTON, November 18, 2015

news.fl.edu

 

It’s that time of year when children make cardboard turkeys and draw the Mayflower, while we prepare to fill our tables with stuffing and pumpkin pie the way most of us imagine the Pilgrims did at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

But there’s just one catch, according to archaeologists at the Florida Museum of Natural History: The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving wasn’t the first.

The nation’s real first Thanksgiving took place more than 50 years earlier near the Matanzas River in St. Augustine, Florida, when Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and 800 soldiers, sailors and settlers joined local Native Americans in a feast that followed a Mass of Thanksgiving, according to Kathleen Deagan, distinguished research curator emerita of historical archaeology at the museum, located on the University of Florida campus.

Instead of flat-top hats and oversized buckles, conquistadors wore armor and colonists dressed in 16th-century Spanish garments. There wasn’t any cranberry sauce or pie — not even turkey. Instead, the meal consisted of an assortment of food, from salted pork and red wine shipped from Spain to yucca from the Caribbean, Deagan said.

“The holiday we celebrate today is really something that was invented in a sense,” she said. “By the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the people who settled America’s first colony with Menéndez probably had children and grandchildren living there.”

UF retired history professor Michael Gannon wrote in his influential book on the subject that the event “was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving in the first permanent settlement in the land.”

This little-known chapter of history challenges the traditional Thanksgiving story, which reflects an Anglicized version of history and supports America’s colonial origins being viewed as solely, or at least primarily, British, said Gifford Waters, historical archaeology collection manager at the Florida Museum.

“The fact is, the first colony was a melting pot and the cultural interactions of the many groups of people in the colony were much more like the U.S. is today than the British colonies ever were,” Waters said. “I think the true story of the first Thanksgiving is especially important, since there is a growing Hispanic population in the U.S. and the role of the Spanish colony in La Florida is often neglected in the classroom.”

Historical eyewitness accounts describe the first Thanksgiving as a scene marked by diversity, with colonists and local Timucuan people in attendance. More than 400 artifacts left behind by the various cultural groups that made up the first colony are currently on display in the Florida Museum’s exhibit, “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins.”

Waters said the meal probably took place near the mouth of present-day Hospital Creek on the Matanzas River, where today the Mission of Nombre de Dios and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park – the site of Menéndez’ original encampment and the first colony – are located. The feast followed a Thanksgiving Mass, which Deagan said was a common practice of sailors after a tumultuous expedition.

The 68 days that it took Menéndez and his followers to get to Florida’s shore had not been easy. After leaving Spain with eight ships, the group arrived in Florida with only four. Half of the original expedition was lost to hurricanes and other hardships.

Of those who made it to Florida, whether in search of riches and improved social standing or new opportunities like owning land, all were probably thankful to be alive and on dry land, Deagan said.

“A Mass and feast of Thanksgiving was the first thing Menendez did, and he invited all of the local native people who were so curious about them,” she said.

Besides salted pork and red wine, those in attendance ate garbanzo beans, olives and hard sea biscuits. The meal may have also included Caribbean foods that were probably collected when Menéndez stopped to regroup and resupply at San Juan Puerto Rico before continuing to Florida, Deagan said. If the Timucua contributed, it would likely have been with corn, fresh fish, berries or beans, she said.

Archaeologists have not recovered any artifacts or other archaeological data clearly associated with the first Thanksgiving, although they have found remains of the types of food that would have been eaten, Waters said.

“It is very rare to be able to pin down archaeological remains with a specific event, especially something as ephemeral as a single meal,” he said.

Waters said he hopes spreading word about the original Thanksgiving will spark interest in having a more complete understanding of American history.

 

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Netivot: Wine presses used in the commercial production of wine

Netivot: Wine presses used in the commercial production of wine

Copyright: Assaf Peretz, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

Tools uncovered in Netivot Copyright: Anat Rasiuk, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

Tools uncovered in Netivot
Copyright: Anat Rasiuk, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

 

 

Original Article:

mfa.gov.il

November 2015

The excavation revealed the remains of a late Byzantine period village dating to the 6th and 7th centuries. One of the most impressive finds of the excavation is a sophisticated wine press that was used to mass-produce wine.

(Communicated by the Israel Antiquities Authority)

In the course of preparations for the construction of a new residential neighborhood in the town of Netivot in the Negev, the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted a salvage excavation of the site. Youths from Netivot and Ashkelon were encouraged to volunteer in the dig, along with a group of future IDF recruits currently performing a year of community service in the area.

The excavation revealed the remains of a late Byzantine period village dating to the 6th and 7th centuries C.E., including a workshop, various buildings and two wine presses. Fragments of marble latticework in the form of a cross and flowers indicate the existence of a public building. Other findings include tools used in daily life, such as clay cups, oil candles and seals.

Ilan Peretz, who supervised the dig for the IAA, noted that one of the most impressive finds of the excavation is a sophisticated wine press that was used to commercially produce wine. He described the process: “First, the grapes were pressed. Then the juice was funneled through canals to a pit where the sediment settled. From there, the wine was piped into vats lined with stone and marble, where it would ferment until it was stored in clay bottles called ‘Gaza jugs'” – hundreds of which have been found on the site.

On the basis of a cross etched into seashells adorning one of the vats of the wine press, the researchers determined that the site served the Christian community living there 1400-1500 years ago.

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collecting honey

Original Article:

bristol.ac.uk

November 2015

Humans have been exploiting bees as far back as the Stone Age, according to new research from the University of Bristol published in Nature today.

Previous evidence from prehistoric rock art is inferred to show honey hunters and Pharaonic Egyptian murals show early scenes of beekeeping. However, the close association between early farmers and the honeybee remained uncertain.

This study has gathered together evidence for the presence of beeswax in the pottery vessels of the first farmers of Europe by investigating chemical components trapped in the clay fabric of more than 6,000 potsherds from over 150 Old World archaeological sites.

The distinctive chemical ‘fingerprint’ of beeswax was detected at multiple Neolithic sites across Europe indicating just how widespread the association between humans and honeybees was in prehistoric times. For example, beeswax was detected in cooking pots from an archaeological site in Turkey, dating to the seventh millennium BC – the oldest evidence yet for the use of bee products by Neolithic farmers.

The paper bring together over 20 years of research carried out at Bristol’s Organic Geochemistry Unit (School of Chemistry) led by Professor Richard Evershed. Co-authors of the paper include archaeologists involved in the large scale investigation of sites across Europe, the Near East and Northern Africa.

Dr Mélanie Roffet-Salque, lead author of the paper, said: “The most obvious reason for exploiting the honeybee would be for honey, as this would have been a rare sweetener for prehistoric people. However, beeswax could have been used in its own right for various technological, ritual, cosmetic and medicinal purposes, for example, to waterproof porous ceramic vessels.”

The lack of evidence for beeswax use at Neolithic sites above the 57th parallel North as in Scotland and Fennoscandia points to an ecological limit to the natural occurrence of honeybees at that time.

Professor Evershed said: “The lack of a fossil record of the honeybee means it’s ecologically invisible for most of the past 10,000 years. Although evidence from ancient Egyptian murals and prehistoric rock art suggests mankind’s association with the honeybee dates back over thousands of years, when and where this association emerged has been unknown – until now.

“Our study is the first to provide unequivocal evidence, based solely on a chemical ‘fingerprint’, for the palaeoecological distribution of an economically and culturally important animal. It shows widespread exploitation of the honeybee by early farmers and pushes back the chronology of human-honeybee association to substantially earlier dates.”

Paper

‘Widespread Exploitation of the Honeybee by Early Neolithic Farmers’ by Roffet-Salque et al in Nature

 

 

 

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Acan: Mayan God of Alcohol

Acan: Mayan God of Alcohol

Accla: Incan female keepers of the sacred fires, who also brewed beer

Accla: Incan female keepers of the sacred fires, who also brewed beer

Byggvir: Norse God of Barley

Byggvir: Norse God of Barley

Ceres: Roman Goddess of Agriculture & Grain Crops

Ceres: Roman Goddess of Agriculture & Grain Crops

 

Original Article:

AUGUST 26, 2013 BY JAY BROOKS

Brookstonbeerbulletin.com

Jay Brooks writes:

Working on another project, which I can’t yet talk about, I used some research I did for an article a few years ago about some of the gods and goddesses of beer and brewing, and ended up digging a little deeper. In the process, I put together a long list that’s hopefully, but probably in no way, a complete list of beer gods and goddesses, but is at least the biggest list I know of, with just over one hundred of them. To be fair, I made up one of them, and a couple others are bogus, but there’s still at least 100 remaining that are legitimate. Or at least they’re legitimately deities for some group of people, their connection to beer or alcohol you could question, by why bother? It’s just a bit of fun. Drink a toast to them. Because their followers believed in them, we still have beer to drink today. Enjoy.

If you know of one I missed, please send me an e-mail with as much as information as you can. If I screwed up any of the info here (and I’m confident I must have) please let me know but please bear in mind that this exercise is meant to be celebratory and fun, so please keep it civil, and remember that with ancient legends and history, accounts vary widely and I simply had to choose the stories I liked or which worked best for my purposes. I’ll keep updating the page with new gods or goddesses as I find them, and will make relevant changes that make sense, but not to this post. Instead, the most current and up-to-date version of this list will live on a permanent page, Beer Gods & Goddesses.

history-stonehenge
Long before the catholic church and related christian religions started declaring beer and brewing saints, many different civilizations and peoples had deities dedicated to beer or brewing, or some related endeavor. Below is a list of the beer gods and goddesses that I know of, along with other mythological creatures or people with an association to beer, brewing or a related aspect. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any gods or goddesses associated with either hops or yeast specifically, probably because by the time we were using them in beer, or had a better understanding of them, civilization was well past creating gods. Perhaps we need to make some up? There are also many more deities associated with water, but it’s unclear if any of them can be linked to brewing water, and many are gods of the sea, which also didn’t seem appropriate. So far, I’ve found over 100 different deities to drink a toast to, celebrate or worship with a glass of beer. If you know of one I’m missing, please drop me a line.

For the rest of the article link to: brookstonbeerbulletin.

 

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Harder to explain for the archeologists were the remains of animals in the pits. Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS

Harder to explain for the archeologists were the remains of animals in the pits. Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS

 

Fish was processed by putting it in pits in the red-coloured ground to give it a 'special smell'. Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS

Fish was processed by putting it in pits in the red-coloured ground to give it a ‘special smell’. Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS

 

Original Article:

Siberian times.com

By Olga Gertcyk, November 2015

The find in Novosibirsk region has left archeologists with many questions, since some animals kept alive in two metre-deep pits at the smokehouse were not at the time native to this area. Excavations in the summer found the ancient smokehouse, along with bone and stone tools.

Fish was processed by putting it in pits in the red-coloured ground to give it a ‘special smell’. The smokehouse was uncovered at Tartas-1 site in Vengerovo district where experts have been studying burials and other ritual facilities for over 10 years.

‘This year we came across an unusual facility, a Neolithic smokehouse,’ said Dr Vyacheslav Molodin, deputy director of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, in Novosibirsk. The building is very large and dates back to Neolithic times, the Stone Age, according to stone tools.’

Smoking fish in this way is still done by groups in Siberia and the extreme north, he said. ‘This method is known and is still used by some Siberian and Extreme North ethnic groups. The fish starts smelling, but it didn’t bother our ancestors.’

The smokehouse was uncovered at Tartas-1 site in Vengerovo district where experts have been studying burials and other ritual facilities for over 10 years. Picture: The Siberian Times

The smokehouse was uncovered at Tartas-1 site in Vengerovo district where experts have been studying burials and other ritual facilities for over 10 years. Picture: The Siberian Times

Harder to explain for the archeologists were the remains of animals in the pits. A skeleton of a wolverine – a mammal that resembles a small bear – was found here. Yet the wolverine is not typical here. It is a native of the taiga and is not typical in the steppe where Tartas-1 is located.

Ermine remains were found here too, as were bones of domesticated animals and coprolites (fossilised dung). Remains of a dog and a fox were located in other storage areas. Dr Molodin alleged that the animals could have been kept there for ritual purposes. ‘For some time the pits were used for ritual purposes but it’s a huge mystery which we have yet to understand,’ he said.

 

 

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Experts in York compiled a detailed picture of food and cuisine near Stonehenge © Mike Parker Pearson

Experts in York compiled a detailed picture of food and cuisine near Stonehenge
© Mike Parker Pearson

 

Original Article:

culture24.org.uk

By Ben Miller | 13 October 2015

 

Milk, yoghurt and cheese eaten in exclusive ceremonies around Stonehenge feasts, say archaeologists

Evidence from settlement where Stonehenge builders lived suggests well-organised community feasting.

Milk, yoghurt and cheeses could have been seen as “exclusive” foods or eaten predominantly in public ceremonies around the time Stonehenge was built, according to archaeologists using pottery and animal bones to analyse food from organised feasts during the 25th century BC.

New evidence from Durrington Walls, a late Neolithic monument and settlement site where the builders of nearby Stonehenge are thought to have lived, shows that pots in ceremonial spaces mainly carried dairy produce. Barbeque-style roasted pork and beef was detected in the chemicals of cooking vessels found in residential areas from the period.

“Animals were brought from all over Britain to be barbecued and cooked in open-air mass gatherings and also to be eaten in more privately organised meals within the many houses at Durrington Walls,” says Professor Mike Parker Pearson, the University College London Professor who is the Director of the Feeding Stonehenge project.

“The special placing of milk pots at the larger ceremonial buildings reveals that certain products had a ritual significance beyond that of nutrition alone. The sharing of food had religious as well as social connotations for promoting unity among Britain’s scattered farming communities in prehistory. ”

“This new research has given us a fantastic insight into the organisation of large-scale feasting among the people who built Stonehenge.”

Together with researchers at the University of Sheffield, Parker Pearson’s team found “very little” evidence of plant food preparation across the site. They say mass animal consumption – particularly of pigs who were killed before reaching their maximum weight – presents “strong evidence” of planned autumn and winter slaughtering ahead of feasts.

“Evidence of food-sharing and activity-zoning at Durrington Walls shows a greater degree of culinary organisation than was expected for this period of British prehistory,” says Dr Oliver Craig, of the University of York, the lead author on the new paper in archaeological journal Antiquity.

“The inhabitants and many visitors to this site possessed a shared understanding of how foods should be prepared, consumed and disposed. This, together with evidence of feasting, suggests Durrington Walls was a well-organised working community.”

Feasting in the time of Stonehenge
The main method of cooking meat is thought to have been boiling and roasting in pots – probably around indoor hearths.

Larger barbeque-style roasting was found to have taken place outdoors, evidenced by distinctive burn patterns on animal bones.

Bones from all parts of the animal skeleton were found, indicating that livestock was walked to the site rather than introduced as joints of meat.

Isotopic analysis indicates that cattle originated from many different locations – some far away from the site. This suggests a large number of volunteers were likely to have been drawn from far and wide.

The patterns of feasting contradict suggestions of a slave-based society where labour was forced and coerced.

Three museums to discover Stonehenge stories in

Stonehenge – English Heritage, Amesbury
Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress. The true meaning of this ancient, awe-inspiring creation has been lost in the mists of time. Was it a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps a huge calendar?

Wiltshire Museum, Devizes
Founded more than 150 years ago, the museum preserves the rich archaeological and historical treasures and records of Wiltshire, including the World Heritage Site of Avebury and Stonehenge.

The Salisbury Museum and Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
Home of the Stonehenge gallery, Warminster Jewel and famous Monkton Deverill gold torc, as well as displays of prehistory in Early Man; Romans and Saxons; the medieval history of Old Sarum and Salisbury (with the renowned Giant and Hob Nob); the Pitt Rivers (father of modern scientific archaeology) collection; ceramics and costume; a pre-NHS surgery and Turner watercolours.

 

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Skye excavation in Staffin Bay

Skye excavation in Staffin Bay

Hazelnut Shells

Hazelnut Shells

Original Article:

BBC.com

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

October 2015

The remains of hazelnuts eaten by some of Skye’s earliest inhabitants were found at a dig on the island, archaeologists have revealed.
Hazelnuts were a favourite snack of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, according to archaeologists at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).
The shells found at an excavation above Staffin Bay could be 8,000-years-old.
UHI carried out the dig along with Staffin Community Trust, school children and volunteers.

Dan Lee, lifelong learning and outreach archaeologist at UHI, said: “We have found lots of fragments of charred hazelnut shells in the lower soil samples.

“They are the ideal thing to date as they have a short life span and were a Mesolithic favourite.

“There is so much material in the samples we took that we will not be able to process them all with the current budget, but all is pointing to lots of potential to go back for another phase and include them in that.”

He added: “We have what we need for now, to allow us to date the Mesolithic activity at the site.”

Other finds made at the five-day dig included flints and a piece of bone possibly handcrafted into shape for use as a toggle or bead.

 

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