Archaeologists do it in holes: Tales from the stratigraphy

Started by Maladict, May 27, 2016, 02:34:49 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Malthus

Quote from: Valmy on August 23, 2016, 08:05:01 AM
Huh. I thought it was a fundamental fact that ancient hunter/gatherer groups exterminated their enemies for control of their territory. It was, after all, a matter of life or death. My understanding was that slavery developed as a comparatively merciful way of handling defeated enemies.

But that may have just been a theory.

Slavery, as an institution, is pretty certainly a product of agriculture/pastoralism as a lifestyle. In most cases (save oddities like the natives of the Pacific Northwest), hunting/gathering lacks the structure to accommodate slavery: it is too easy for hunter/gatherers to run away, you can't keep an eye on them, etc.

Massacres, OTOH, do happen, though they probably don't resemble what we consider "war" very much. We don't actually know much about how HGs fought among themselves in pre-agricultural times: modern HGs are a poor guide to that, because pretty well all of them except really isolated cases who live in marginal environments anyway live in a context where their neighbors are (much more aggressive and numerous) agricultural/pastoral peoples. However, it is unlikely that conflicts were primarily over resources - more like a cycle of retaliation for perceived wrongs of various sorts, leading to a determination to commit a massacre of the "offending" family. Think Hatfields vs. McCoys as opposed to an invasion of vicious Goths.

Conflict between HGs (again according to existing ones, who may not be wholly accurate models for the past) allegedly have all sorts of cultural mechanisms to reduce inter-personal or inter-group conflicts. This makes sense, as they lack any sort of law enforcement and arms and knowledge of how to use them is widespread, meaning any conflict could easily turn deadly. However, what happens if those mechanisms fail? Typically, a cycle of revenge and retribution, unless some sort of significant apology/restitution is made: often, lacking such a formal end, killing someone from the extended family of the offender is considered perfectly proper ... such feuding quickly makes life unlivable, as if there is an outstanding feud, your life is always at risk.

One "solution" allegedly seen in the past in certain examples was simple: end the feud by killing, literally, every single member of the other family. This was obviously a very risky "final solution" for a lot of reasons, not least of which that the enemy family may have a lot of relations. So a lot of political work would go into ensuring they were isolated first - in effect, making a case that the killing should end with that massacre.

What is seen in the African example may be an event of that type. 
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane—Marcus Aurelius

jimmy olsen

Cool  :)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/jericho-skull-neolithic-facial-reconstruction-archaeology-british-museum/?google_editors_picks=true

Quote
Face of 9,500-Year-Old Man Revealed for First Time

Digital tools help researchers reconstruct the Neolithic man inside the famed Jericho Skull.

By Kristin Romey

PUBLISHED January 5, 2017

Researchers have reverse-engineered the ancient ritual practice that created one of the British Museum's most important artifacts—the Jericho Skull—revealing the face of a man whose remains were decorated and venerated some 9,500 years ago.

The Jericho Skull is also considered the oldest portrait in the museum's collection, and, until recently, its most enigmatic: a truncated human skull covered in worn plaster, with eye sockets set with simple sea shells that stare out blindly from its display case.

Now, thanks to digital imaging, 3-D printing, and forensic reconstruction techniques, specialists have recreated the face of the individual inside the Jericho Skull—and it turns out to belong to a 40-something man with a broken nose.

An Unprecedented Discovery

The Jericho Skull is one of seven plastered and ornamented Neolithic skulls excavated by archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon in 1953 at the site of Tell es-Sultan, near the modern West Bank city of Jericho. The discovery—an archaeological sensation that brought Kenyon international fame—was first reported in National Geographic in December of that year.

"We realized with a thrill of discovery that we were looking at the portrait of a man who lived and died more than 7,000 years ago," Kenyon wrote, describing to Geographic readers the moment that the first skull was revealed. "No archeologist [sic] had even guessed at the existence of such a work of art."

While the seven skulls varied in detail, all had been originally stuffed with soil to support delicate facial bones before wet plaster was applied to create individualized facial features, such as ears, cheeks, and noses. Small marine shells represented eyes, and some skulls bore traces of paint.


Since Kenyon's discovery, more than 50 such ornamented skulls have been discovered in Neolithic sites from the Middle East to central Turkey. While researchers generally agree that the objects represent an early form of ancestor worship, very little is known about who was chosen to be immortalized in plaster thousands of years ago, and why.

Other Neolithic plaster skulls have been digitally examined, but the skeletal remains inside the British Museum's Jericho Skull are the first to be 3-D printed and forensically reconstructed.

Separating Plaster from Bone—Virtually

Kenyon's remarkable Neolithic portrait heads were dispersed to museums across the world for further study, and the British Museum's Jericho Skull arrived in London in 1954. But early attempts to coax more information out of the unusual artifact proved fruitless.

The passage of thousands of years had erased many physical details from the plaster covering the skull, and a traditional x-ray scan was unable to differentiate between the similar densities of bone and plaster. The result was "a white blob on an x-ray plate," says Alexandra Fletcher, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Curator for the Ancient Near East, who headed up the reconstruction project for the British Museum.

It wasn't until the Jericho Skull underwent a micro-CT scan in 2009 that researchers could finally visualize the human remains beneath the plaster. The scan revealed an adult cranium (the lower jaw had been removed), more likely male than female. The septum was broken, and rear molars were missing. A hole had been carved in the back of the cranium so it could be packed with soil, and the scans even illuminated 9,500-year-old thumbprints from where someone eventually sealed the hole with fine clay.

A New Face for the Museum's Oldest Portrait

In 2016, the British Museum created a digital 3-D model of the cranium from the CT scanning data and learned even more about the Neolithic man inside the Jericho Skull. While the scans suggested a broken nose, for instance, the 3-D model demonstrated the severity of the damage.

Fletcher's team decided to take things further and created a physical model of the skull using a 3-D printer. Then they enlisted the skills of the RN-DS Partnership, an expert forensic facial reconstruction firm.

Using the printed cranium and the model of a human male lower jaw from another Neolithic site near Jericho, the forensic experts were able to reconstruct the facial musculature onto the digitally created remains from inside the Jericho Skull, just as people had fashioned cheeks, ears, and lips from plaster onto the original human bone more than 9,000 years ago.

"It's as if we did the Neolithic process in reverse," says Fletcher, proud that the British Museum's oldest portrait finally has a new face.

Until February 19, 2017, the facial reconstruction and the original Jericho Skull will be displayed side-by-side in a British Museum exhibit entitled "Creating an ancestor: the Jericho Skull."

It is far better for the truth to tear my flesh to pieces, then for my soul to wander through darkness in eternal damnation.

Jet: So what kind of woman is she? What's Julia like?
Faye: Ordinary. The kind of beautiful, dangerous ordinary that you just can't leave alone.
Jet: I see.
Faye: Like an angel from the underworld. Or a devil from Paradise.
--------------------------------------------
1 Karma Chameleon point

mongers

Rather nice Lidar image of one of the hill forts I visit, Old Sarum in Wiltshire, normally trees obscure quite a bit of it:



"We have it in our power to begin the world over again"


mongers

Quote from: Maladict on January 21, 2017, 03:28:55 PM
Old Sarum :wub:

Yeah it's a good stopping off place, the lidar shows one of the roman roads you can follow to it rather well, it's the near vertical alignment in the left quarter of the image.
"We have it in our power to begin the world over again"

Maladict

What's that square structure next to the cathedral, a monastery? I don't recall seeing that.

mongers

Quote from: Maladict on January 21, 2017, 06:19:52 PM
What's that square structure next to the cathedral, a monastery? I don't recall seeing that.

I don't know, it's a square structure at a lower level, so shows up more, maybe cloisters or perhaps exposed cellars as you have to go down 2 meters or so to be on that level.

I'll have a look when I'm passing in the spring.
"We have it in our power to begin the world over again"

11B4V

"there's a long tradition of insulting people we disagree with here, and I'll be damned if I listen to your entreaties otherwise."-OVB

"Obviously not a Berkut-commanded armored column.  They're not all brewing."- CdM

"We've reached one of our phase lines after the firefight and it smells bad—meaning it's a little bit suspicious... Could be an amb—".

CountDeMoney

Quote from: 11B4V on January 28, 2017, 02:15:32 PM
Neat

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/europe/charred-roman-scrolls-trnd/index.html

QuoteSo what do the scrolls say? It'll be a little while before the world knows.
The content from two of the scrolls -- written by the ancient philosopher Philodemus on the subject of political rhetoric -- is currently being translated from ancient Greek into English and will soon be published in a scientific journal.

You'll shit if it's a treatise on business demagogues succeeding in politics by saying whatever they want without thinking first.

Ed Anger

Stay Alive...Let the Man Drive

11B4V

Quote from: CountDeMoney on January 28, 2017, 04:11:46 PM
Quote from: 11B4V on January 28, 2017, 02:15:32 PM
Neat

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/europe/charred-roman-scrolls-trnd/index.html

QuoteSo what do the scrolls say? It'll be a little while before the world knows.
The content from two of the scrolls -- written by the ancient philosopher Philodemus on the subject of political rhetoric -- is currently being translated from ancient Greek into English and will soon be published in a scientific journal.

You'll shit if it's a treatise on business demagogues succeeding in politics by saying whatever they want without thinking first.

Could be what's been missing for 2000 years.
"there's a long tradition of insulting people we disagree with here, and I'll be damned if I listen to your entreaties otherwise."-OVB

"Obviously not a Berkut-commanded armored column.  They're not all brewing."- CdM

"We've reached one of our phase lines after the firefight and it smells bad—meaning it's a little bit suspicious... Could be an amb—".

Valmy

Ah. I figured it was the Herculaneum Scrolls. Fantastic. There may be a few more libraries buried in that town so if we do finally find a good way to read them that would be amazing.
Quote"This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed & unnecessary victims. Otherwise, you'll be bombed."

Zmiinyi defenders: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself."

Maladict

Quote from: Valmy on January 28, 2017, 09:25:21 PM
Ah. I figured it was the Herculaneum Scrolls. Fantastic. There may be a few more libraries buried in that town so if we do finally find a good way to read them that would be amazing.

There's still plenty left in this library. Props to the Italian government for practising restraint until non-invasive techniques were developed.

jimmy olsen

Not exactly archaeology, but I think it fits here well

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/everyone-was-dead-when-europeans-first-came-to-b-c-they-confronted-the-aftermath-of-a-holocaust

Quote

Everyone was dead: When Europeans first came to B.C., they stepped into the aftermath of a holocaust

Tristin Hopper | February 21, 2017 4:34 PM ET

Everywhere they looked, there were corpses. Abandoned, overgrown villages were littered with skulls; whole sections of coastline strewn with bleached, decayed bodies.

"The skull, limbs, ribs and backbones, or some other vestiges of the human body, were found in many places, promiscuously scattered about the beach in great numbers," wrote explorer George Vancouver in what is now Port Discovery, Wash.

It was May 1792. The lush environs of the Georgia Strait had once been among the most densely populated corners of the land that is now Canada, with humming villages, harbours swarming with canoes and valleys so packed with cookfires that they had smog.

But the Vancouver Expedition experienced only eerie quiet.

They kept seeing rotting houses and massive clearings cut out of the Pacific forest — evidence that whoever lived here had been able to muster armies of labourers.

And yet the only locals the sailors encountered were small groups of desperately poor people, many of them horribly scarred and missing an eye.

"There are reasons to believe that (this land) has been infinitely more populous," wrote Vancouver in an account of the voyage published after his death.

But the 40-year-old Englishman seemed to have gone to his grave never grasping the full gravity of what he witnessed in British Columbia: The "docile" and "cordial" people he met were the shattered survivors of an apocalypse.

"News reached them from the east that a great sickness was travelling over the land, a sickness that no medicine could cure, and no person escape," said a man identified as Old Pierre, a member of what is now the Katzie First Nation in Pitt Meadows, B.C.

After an emergency meeting, the doomed forebears of the Katzie decided to face the coming catastrophe with as much grace as they could muster: Every adult returned to the home of their parents to wait for the end.

"Then the wind carried the smallpox sickness among them. Some crawled away into the woods to die; many died in their homes," Old Pierre told the anthropologist Diamond Jenness in 1936.

The tragedy played out very near to what is now the site of Golden Ears Provincial Park. And it all happened so quickly that when Old Pierre's great-grandfather returned to the village from the bush, he found nothing but houses stacked with corpses.

"Only in one house did there survive a baby boy, who was vainly sucking at its dead mother's breast," he told Jenness.

The people of the Pacific Northwest had just been hit with the tail end of one of the most devastating plagues in human history.

Just as the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, smallpox began sweeping through Patriot strongholds and encampments.

An American attempt to invade Quebec broke apart largely because the colonist soldiers were too ridden with smallpox to continue the attack.

The epidemic soon broke out of the war-torn coastal areas and began penetrating inland, surging across indigenous trading networks and passing between warring enemies.

Before the Revolutionary War was over, its epidemiological offshoot had surged as far as Mexico and was scything its way through the Canadian Prairies.

"Boy and Girl arrived from the Swampy River, having left one man behind, these is all that is alive out (of) 10 tents," reads the journals of Hudson's Bay Company traders in what is now Cumberland House, Sask.

For months, the largely Scottish-born traders were visited by wave after wave of doomed refugees bearing reports of whole villages wiped off the map.

The natives "chiefly Die within the third or fourth Night, and those that survive after that time are left to be devoured by the wild beasts," they wrote.

In 1782, smallpox finally surged into the region surrounding what is now Vancouver Island.

When the explorer David Thompson travelled overland to the West Coast in the early 19th century, he traversed whole regions ravaged by the 1782 epidemic. He met locals who had seen their villages die around them, and now lived in whatever post-apocalyptic societal structure survivors had been able to cobble together.

"Is it true that the white men ... have brought with them the Small Pox to destroy us?" Thompson was asked near the modern site of Spokane, Wash.

In the 1890s, Vancouver woman Ellen Webber found a massive midden in what is now Maple Ridge.

She asked an elder from what is now the Kwantlen First Nation what it was. Identified only as "an old Indian," the woman told Webber of a thriving, well-fortified village of fishermen, tanners, potters, canoe-makers, tailors and toy-makers.

That is, until a dragon "awoke and breathed upon the children."

"Where his breath touched them sores broke out and they burned with heat and they died to feed this monster," she said. "And so the village was deserted and never again would the Indians live on that spot."

When George Vancouver saw beaches strewn with bones, he was looking at a pattern of mass-death similar to what had struck thousands of European villages during the Black Death of the Middle Ages.

As the epidemic begins, communities hastily rush through back-to-back funerals. As the bodies pile up, communities start improvising mass graves. Finally, as society completely breaks down, the dead are left where they lie.

For generations afterwards, sites of mass death became taboo places for Indigenous people. As Old Pierre said in 1936, digging into the ground of any abandoned village would turn up the "countless" bones of past smallpox victims.

His great-grandfather, after saving the sole infant survivor of the epidemic, burned the whole village down and never looked back.

"How is it that the smallpox epidemic of 1782 is not part of the lore of modern British Columbia?" wrote the geographer Cole Harris in Voices of Disaster, a 1994 history of the disaster from which most of the information in this article is sourced.

The epidemic that burned itself out in the forests of British Columbia was the most significant event in North American history. Just as a settlement-minded people set up shop on the East Coast, a biological terror was depopulating far-away lands they could not even imagine.

From the Grand Canyon to the forests of northern Canada, thousands upon thousands died in the delirious throes of a European disease without ever having seen a European.

It's arguably why the continent is dominated by two giant, English-speaking countries whose western halves are divided by a horizontal line.

Europeans had colonized Asia and Africa, but only here and in the islands of Oceania did they have such ease in demographically supplanting the indigenous inhabitants.

It's possible that smallpox killed as many as 95 per cent of the population of the Georgia Strait. Given that estimate, as many as 100,000 people may have lived in the area at a time when the entire state of New York counted barely 200,000.

In British Columbia, as with depopulated regions across the continent, Europeans were literally stepping over the bones of the dead to find vast landscapes populated by small bands of traumatized survivors.

"Here was an almost empty land, so it seemed, for the taking," wrote Cole Harris.

As George Vancouver steered HMS Discovery north from the the Strait of Georgia in the spring of 1792, his eyes glimmered with what could be done with the seemingly empty forests surrounding him.

"The innumerable pleasing landscapes ... require only to be enriched by the industry of man with villages, mansions, cottages and other buildings, to render it the most lovely country that can be imagined," he wrote.

And indeed, that's exactly what happened.

The peoples of the West Coast were well-versed in war: Accustomed to raiding and invasion, they maintained Viking-like fleets of war canoes, lived in fortified cities and went to battle in terrifying suits of armour complemented with trade metals from Russian Alaska.

Against a well-prepared and well-coordinated native population, any invaders could have expected epic battles followed by years of guerrilla warfare. Before smallpox, West Coast oral history contained accounts of rivers being made "black" by the canoes of invaders.

Instead, as wave after wave of epidemic hit the area, the emptied landscape became one of the easiest conquests in British history.

In 1862, just as the colony of British Columbia was getting its footing, the indigenous descendants of the 1782 survivors were hit again. Another smallpox epidemic once again killed more than half of B.C.'s native population and peppered the landscape with mass graves and abandoned settlements.

George Vancouver's name got appended to a metropolis, an island larger than Wales, and his life-sized, gold-plated likeness was bolted to the top of a Westminster-style parliament in Victoria. "Mansions, cottages and other buildings" were not only built, but they are now counted among the most valuable in the world.

Rather than "Most Lovely Country That Can Be Imagined," however, the carriers of Vancouver's vision ultimately went with the slogan "Best Place on Earth."
It is far better for the truth to tear my flesh to pieces, then for my soul to wander through darkness in eternal damnation.

Jet: So what kind of woman is she? What's Julia like?
Faye: Ordinary. The kind of beautiful, dangerous ordinary that you just can't leave alone.
Jet: I see.
Faye: Like an angel from the underworld. Or a devil from Paradise.
--------------------------------------------
1 Karma Chameleon point

Syt

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Hundreds-of-liquor-bottles-belonging-to-British-Soldiers-from-WWI-unearthed-484859

QuoteHUNDREDS OF LIQUOR BOTTLES BELONGING TO BRITISH SOLDIERS FROM WWI UNEARTHED

'The discovery provides us with an opportunity for a glimpse of the unwritten part of history, and reconstruct for the first time the everyday life and leisure of the soldiers,' says IAA.

Despite fighting in World War I, the bottles containing their spirits were left intact.

Hundreds of 100-year-old liquor bottles belonging to British soldiers stationed in Israel during the war were recently unearthed by archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority in central Israel's Ramla region, near a building where the troops were garrisoned.

According to the IAA, the excavation in the fields of Kibbutz Netzer Sereni was carried out as part of the construction of Highway 200, initiated and financed by the Netivei Israel Company.

Near the bottles, 250,000-year-old flint tools from the Middle Paleolithic period were also discovered.

The excavation's director, Ron Toueg, said on Wednesday that the historical evidence offers a rare glimpse into the soldiers' leisure activities.

"The discovery of this site and the finds in it provide us with an opportunity for a glimpse of the unwritten part of history, and to reconstruct for the first time the everyday life and leisure of the soldiers," said Toueg.

"We exposed a building whose upper part was not preserved, which was apparently the foundations of a barracks. This structure was used for agricultural purposes in the Ottoman period, and during World War I the British converted it for military use, and soldiers were housed in it."

Inside the building, Toueg said researchers also discovered dozens of uniform buttons, belt buckles, parts of riding equipment, and other artifacts that were the property of the British soldiers. He noted that the building caught fire and collapsed for unknown reasons.

A few meters away, he said the site where the soldiers discarded debris was found.

"We were surprised to discover that along with broken crockery and cutlery there was an enormous number of soft drink and liquor bottles," he said.

"In fact, about 70% of the waste that was discarded in the refuse pit were liquor bottles. It seems that the soldiers took advantage of the respite given them to release the tension by frequently drinking alcohol."

Brigitte Ouahnouna, a researcher in the glass department of the IAA, said that this is the first time in the history of archeology in Israel that an assemblage of hundreds of glass bottles from a British army camp from World War I was uncovered.

"Interestingly, the glass bottles, which contained mainly wine, beer, soda and alcoholic beverages such as gin, liqueur and whiskey, came from Europe to supply soldiers and officers in the camp," said Ouahnouna.

"It is a fascinating testimony of the everyday life of the British military camp a century ago."

Another interesting item unearthed in the excavation, with the help of archaeologist Shahar Crispin, was the tip of a swagger stick that belonged to a Royal Flying Corps officer.

"Swagger sticks such as these were usually carried by senior officers as a symbol of authority," explained Ouahnouna.

"Its tip is made of silver, and it is stamped with the symbol of the corps and the initials RFC."

Sary Mark, an architect, conservator and an authority on the British army's occupation of Palestine, said that on November 15, 1917 the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, under the command of General Allenby, conquered the area around the towns of Lod and Ramla.

"Before occupying Jerusalem, the army encamped in the area where the archaeological excavation took place: the headquarters at Bir Salam – Ramla Camp and Sarafand Camp," said Mark.

"The army was based there for about nine months, until a decision was made to continue the conquest of the country further north. The building that was discovered in the excavation was used by the British soldiers, and it is rare authentic evidence and the first of its kind of the day-to-day life of the expeditionary forces, for a very brief period during World War I."



If we want to prevent catastrophic economic and societal change we will have to radically change our climate system.

Proud owner of 42 Zoupa Points.