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Museum archaeologist Patrick Saltonstall and helicopter pilot Keller Wattum document a petroglyph site on Afognak Island. (Photo courtesy Patrick Saltonstall)

Original article:

Mitch Borden, KMXT-KodiakMay 10, 2018

Ktoo.org

A routine assessment of  historical sites on Afognak Island by air turned into a day full of surprises.

Local researcher Patrick Saltonstall usually kayaks when he goes out to find and study archaeological sites around the Kodiak Archipelago.

Paddling can be a pretty slow way to travel. Recently Saltonstall got the chance to take to the air in a helicopter for a change.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so ecstatic after a survey, and it was really quick! You know, it was like one day and we found all this stuff that usually takes weeks.”

Alutiiq Museum archaeology curator Saltonstall made new discoveries on the trip.

One of them being a special Alutiiq fish trap, structures constructed along shorelines to corral fish.

The structure is only the second of its kind to be found in the region. The first was only discovered last year.

“It’s another one of these traps, we found one last summer, where when the fish come in, get over these walls and then when the tide goes out there are trapped.”

The traps are an estimated 500 years old.

Saltonstall said these types of devices can found all over Southeast Alaska. He suspects more and more will be found around Kodiak.

The only reason Saltonstall was able to find the second fish trap was the high vantage point from flying in the helicopter.

“I’d actually been there on survey and had found a village there and hadn’t seen the fish trap,” he said. “When we’re in the air you look down and I was like ‘ oh my god, it’s so obvious.”

The fish trap wasn’t the only big find of the day.

Saltonstall thinks some 100-foot-tall rock spires inhabited by puffins could have been defensive sites where hundreds of years ago people would wait and watch for enemies

It’s impressive to think about someone going out to these rock formations and climbing up so high, Saltonstall said.

“They must’ve had a rope ladder they built to get up and down and, probably, they were hoisting baskets of food up. It was kinda amazing.”

More research will have to be done on these new sites to learn more about them, but Saltonstall knows a lot more discoveries to be made around Kodiak.

He’d like to use helicopters more in the future to find them.

 

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Researchers pack the shaft at Augusta Raurica with snow. File photo: Peter-Andrew Schwarz

 

Original article:

Thelocal.ch

 

 

Archaeologists near the Swiss city of Basel are trying to definitively establish if mysterious shafts discovered at Switzerland’s extensive Augusta Raurica site in 2013 could have been ancient refrigerators.

The Romans used shafts like the four-metre deep examples at Augusta Raurica – some 20 kilometres from Basel – as cool stores during summer.

The shafts were filled with snow and ice during winter and then covered with straw to keep the space cool well into the summer months. This then allowed for everything from cheese to wine – and even oysters – to be preserved during warm weather.

Now a team lead by Peter-Andrew Schwarz from the University of Basel is attempting, for the third time, to demonstrate that the Augusta Raurica shafts were indeed used as fridges, Swiss news agency SDA/ATS reports.

A first attempt to recreate the ancient cool box failed after archaeologists at the dig filed the shaft with snow all in one go. But that experiment showed temperatures in the shaft were above freezing point even in winter.

The second try was more successful: the shaft was gradually filled with snow and ice blocks were placed inside as well. Using these methods, snow remained until June.

Now, however, researchers plan to use methods developed by the so-called ‘nevaters’ or ice-makers on the Spanish island of Majorca. This will see Schwarz and his team placing 20–30-centimetre-thick layers of snow into the shaft. These individual layers will then be compacted down with a straw cover placed on top of each one.

“With this method, people in Majorca could keep food cool in summer before the arrival of electric fridges,” Schwarz told regional daily Basler Zeitung in 2017.

Work at the site of the ‘fridge’ will continue until Friday with the dig open to the public.

The experiment won’t prove that the mysterious shaft was actually a Roman fridge but will show that this is possible, Schwarz told the SDA/ATS news agency.

A final evaluation will be made in August.

 

 

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This is a market stall in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) in 2003.
Credit: Photo by Michael Frachetti

Original article:

Eurekalert.org

 

27-Mar-2018

Washington University in St. Louis

Like passionate foodies who know the best places to eat in every town, Silk Road nomads may have been the gastronomic elites of the Medieval Ages, enjoying diets much more diverse than their sedentary urban counterparts, suggests a new collaborative study from Washington University in St. Louis, the Institute of Archaeology in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and Kiel University in Germany.

“Historians have long thought that urban centers along the Silk Road were cosmopolitan melting pots where culinary and cultural influences from far off places came together, but our research shows that nomadic communities were probably the real the movers and shakers of food culture,” said Taylor Hermes of Kiel University, lead author of the study forthcoming in Scientific Reports and a 2007 graduate of Washington University.

Based on an isotopic analysis of human bones exhumed from ancient cemeteries across Central Asia, the study suggests that nomadic groups drew sustenance from a diverse smorgasbord of foods, whereas urban communities seemed stuck with a much more limited and perhaps monotonous menu — a diet often heavy in locally produced cereal grains.

“The ‘Silk Road’ has been generally understood in terms of valuable commodities that moved great distances, but the people themselves were often left out,” Hermes said. “Food patterns are an excellent way to learn about the links between culture and environment, uncovering important human experiences in this great system of connectivity.”

Said Cheryl Makarewicz, an archaeology professor at Kiel and Hermes’ mentor: “Pastoralists are stereotypically understood as clinging to a limited diet comprised of nothing but the meat and milk of their livestock. But, this study clearly demonstrates that Silk Road pastoralists, unlike their more urbane counterparts, accessed all kinds of wild and domesticated foodstuffs that made for a unexpectedly diverse diet.”

“This study provides a unique glimpse into the important ways that nomads cross cut regional settings and likely spread new foods and even cuisine along the Silk Roads, more than a thousand years ago,” said study co-author Michael Frachetti, associate professor of anthropology at Washington University.

“More specifically, this study illustrates the nuanced condition of localism and globalism that defined urban centers of the time, while highlighting the capacity of more mobile communities — such as nomadic herders — to be the essential fiber that fueled social networks and vectors of cultural changes,” Frachetti said.

For this study, human bones exhumed at archaeological digs in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were transported to Kiel University in Germany, where they were analyzed by Hermes. To be thorough, he also collected previously published isotopic data for the time period to bring together a complete regional picture.

“Prior to this study, there were massive gaps in what we knew about human dietary diversity along the Silk Roads,” Hermes said. “The datasets were simply not there. We were able to greatly increase the geographical coverage, especially by adding samples from Uzbekistan, where many of the important routes and population centers were located.”

The study draws upon field work and museum collections as part of a longstanding scientific partnership between Washington University and the Institute of Archaeology in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

The study’s assessment of individual dietary regimens is made possible by studying the isotopic signatures in ancient human bones, allowing the researchers to unlock a trove of information about the food sources, including the proportions and types of plants and animals consumed by individuals over the last decades of life.

Stable isotope analysis is the “gold standard” for tracing ancient diets. Makarewicz, a specialist in the technique, has applied it to understanding major evolutionary transitions from hunting and gathering to agriculture in the Near East. She is starting a new interdisciplinary ERC research project exploring the spread of herding across Eurasia.

Other co-authors include Elissa Bullion, a doctoral student in anthropology at Washington University and two researchers from the Uzbek partnership: Farhod Maksudov and Samariddin Mustafokulov.

Hermes, who has worked with Frachetti on archaeological digs across Central Asia for more than a decade, used these isotopic analysis techniques on human bones recovered from about a dozen nomadic and urban burial sites dating from the 2nd to 13th centuries A.D.

The burial sites were associated with a wide range of communities, climates and geographic locations, including a recently discovered settlement high in the mountains of Uzbekistan, the Otrar Oasis in Kazakhstan and an urban complex on the lowland plains of Turkmenistan.

While previous archaeological excavations at these sites have confirmed the ancient presence of domesticated crop plants and herd animals, their importance in urban diets was unknown. Isotopic analysis, however, shows how important these foods were over the long-term.

“The advantage of studying human bones is that these tissues reflect multi-year dietary habits of an individual,” Hermes said. “By measuring carbon isotope ratios, we can estimate the percentage of someone’s diet that came from specific categories of plants, such as wheat and barley or millet. Millets have a very distinctive carbon isotope signature, and differing ratios of nitrogen isotopes tell us about whether someone ate a mostly plant-based diet or consumed foods from higher up on the food chain, such as meat and milk from sheep or goats.”

This study discovered interesting dietary differences between urban settlements along the Silk Road, but surprisingly little dietary diversity among individuals living within these communities. Perhaps driven by the limits of local environments, food production networks or cultural mandates, most people within each urban setting had similar diets.

Diets of individual nomads within the same community were found to be much more diverse. These differences, perhaps a function of variable lifetime mobility patterns, the availability of wild or domesticated food options or personal preferences, suggest that nomadic groups were not as bound by cultural limitations that may have been imposed on urban dwellers, Hermes said.

“Nomads and urbanites had different dietary niches, and this reflects a combination of environment and cultural choices that influenced diet across the Silk Roads,” Hermes said. “While many historians may have assumed that interactions along the Silk Road would have led to the homogenization of culinary practices, our study shows that this was not the case, especially for urban dwellers.”

For now, Hermes, Frachetti, Makarewicz and their collaborators in Samarkand look forward to applying these isotopic techniques to new archaeological mysteries across Central Asia.

“We hope our results lead to a paradigm shift in how historical phenomena can be examined through the very people who made these cultural systems possible,” Hermes said. “The results here are exciting, and while not the final word by any means, pave a new way forward in applying scientific methods to the ancient world.”

“For close to 10 years our academic collaboration has yielded fascinating new discoveries in archaeology and has also fostered new international partnerships, such as the one spearheaded by Taylor Hermes, to carry out archaeological science at Kiel,” Frachetti said. “This international approach is what enables us all — as a team — to maximize the scientific potential of our collaborative fieldwork and laboratory studies in Uzbekistan for the advancement of historical and environmental knowledge more globally.”

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Archaeologists have unearthed a bronze kettle containing liquor from a Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC) tomb, dating back more than 2,000 years in West China’s Shaanxi province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Original article:

China.org.cn

 

Archaeologists have unearthed a bronze kettle containing liquor from a Qin Dynasty tomb, dating back more than 2,000 years in West China’s Shaanxi

The kettle is a sacrificial vessel. It was among among 260 items unearthed from a graveyard of commoners’ tombs from the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC). Most of the relics were for worshiping rituals.

Xu Weihong, a researcher with the provincial archeological institute, said about 300 ml of liquor was found in the kettle, which had its opening sealed with natural fibers.

The liquor is a transparent milky white. Researchers believed it was made using fermentation techniques, as it was composed of glutamic acid substances.

 

Researchers need to further study the liquor to better understand the brewing technology and wine drinking culture in Xianyang, the ancient capital of the Qin Dynasty.

Also discovered in the tombs was a bronze sword 60-centimeters long. The sword has octahedrons in the middle, which increases the weapon’s effectiveness. There are also breaches on the edge of the sword, suggesting it was used in war.

Another important finding is a turtle plastron shell 14-centimeters long. There are a dozen punches inside the shell, and burn marks on its edge. The characters suggest that it was used by a fortune-teller for divination.

Researchers are trying to build up a picture of life in the capital of China’s first empire by studying the relics.

Link: http://www.china.org.cn/arts/2018-03/20/content_50727357.htm

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Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

All-new complete decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 86 (Haghia Triada):

linear-a-haghia-triada-ht-86In the previous post, we witnessed the almost complete decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 95 (Haghia Triada). Now we are presented with a full decipherment down to the last word of HT 86 (Haghia Triada), which is practically a mirror-image of HT 95. This is the first time ever I have succeeded in deciphering two almost identical Linear A tablets inscribed entirely in Old Minoan (OM), the original Minoan substrate language. This constitutes a major advancement in the decipherment of Linear A, all the more so, since DAME & SARU appear on other Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada. So we are making at least some progress in the decipherment of the original Minoan substrate language, Old Minoan (OM).

Here is the decipherment of HT 86:

RECTO:

1. AKARU (in a) field, KUNI…

2. SU = emmer wheat…

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Another interesting read.

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Linear A words and ideograms for cereals + general Linear A ideograms:

all Linear A ideograms grainsThe chart above lists almost all of the Linear A words and ideograms for cereals + general Linear A ideograms. The Linear A Semitic words and ideograms for cereals are identical to those found on Linear A tablets HT 86 and HT 95 (Haghia Triada). Simply refer to the previous posts on these two highly significant Linear A tablets to confirm these interpretations. Also found in this chart are general Linear A ideograms, the majority of which are identical to their Linear B counterparts, which should come as no surprise to anyone, considering that the Linear B syllabary is merely a refinement of the Linear A syllabary.

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Windwick Bay at South Ronaldsay, close to the site of the massive cliff top feast held more than 1,700 years ago. PIC: http://www.geography.co.uk

 

Original article:

Scotsman.com

 

Archaeologists have identified the site of a huge Iron Age feast on Orkney where more than 10,000 animals were cooked and eaten in a vast cliff top celebration.

Tests have shown that horses, cattle, red deer and otters were on the menu at the gathering above Windwick Bay, South Ronaldsay, more than 1,700 years ago.

READ MORE: Early 19th Century whale skeletons found on Orkney dig

Archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands have been working at The Cairns for several years.

A large number of jewellery fragments and tools have already been discovered at the site, where the remains of an Iron Age broch and metalworking site can be found, with recent radiocarbon tests carried out at a midden – or rubbish tip – nearby.

READ MORE: Archaeologists survey Scotland’s forests under the sea

Examination has identified the cooked bones of around 10,000 animals in the dump.

Martin Carruthers, an Iron Age expert at UHI and programme leader for MSc Archaeological Practice at the UHI Archaeology Institute, said: “These numbers tell you about the scale of the feast and the largesse of being able to have that amount of food in circulation for what appears to be a short lived event.

“The feast is doing two things. Its probably celebrating the successful conclusion of the making of a big batch of jewellery.

“The second point is the feast is pretty enormous and it is it probably the arena where pins and brooches are being handed out to individuals within the community.”

He said the event was likely to maintain and reinforce the structure of Iron Age society on the island at a time when Romans could be found further south on the mainland.

A large rectangular building with a huge central hearth, similar to the ‘Wag’ structures found in Caithness, can also be found at The Cairns.

This imposing building dates to around the time of the feasting event and perhaps represents the residence of a powerful household who organised the production and distribution of the valuable jewellery pieces.

Mr Carruthers added: “Whoever is causing this metal work to be produced is responsible for metal workers on the site or bringing in itinerant workers.

“The elites are driving their authority from the people and offering out these tokens in return.

“Thee items are probably of such high value that people could never have the capacity to pay back the debt. It holds you in your place.

“This whole event is about maintaining society.”

He also suggested that open air feasting could have been a method in which evolving Iron Age society expressed identity and solidarity.

The broch at The Cairns is known to have fallen out of use around the middle of the Second Century AD.

Later, two iron-working furnaces were set up at the site and more than 60 moulds used to cast fine bronze objects have been found at The Cairns over time.

These were used to cast a variety of objects ranging from simple bronze rings, to distinctive decorated dress pins and penannular brooches -the open-ring, cloak brooches that are sometimes referred to as Celtic brooches.

 

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