Archaeology news

Population decline americas

A new article at http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/winter-2017/article/climate-change-... ... it has been increasingly shown that population numbers had already crashed prior to the arrival of Europeans. The latter are usually blamed for introducing new diseases of which the locals had no natural resistance (and no doubt this did occur). It is the scale of the drop in numbers that is most problematic. It has also been convenient to blame the Spanish and Portuguese for bringing smallpox to the Americans.

Greek Sanctuary

At www.tornosnews.gr/en/greek-news/culture/22608-new-finds-at-oldest-island... ... excavations at an ancient sanctuary on the Greek island of Keros have revealed it goes back at least to 3000BC. Colin Renfrew describes it as the 'world's earliest maritime sanctuary' - a play on words as there are older sanctuaries out there. It seems there was a staircasedthat connected Kavos Mount with Daskalios, a small rocky islet offshore.

Gobi Desert was Wet

The Gobi desert is nowadays the second largest desert in the world and suffers from a drastic lack of rainfall. It wasn't always so. Go to http://scienceinpoland.pap.pl/en/news/news,410066,archaeologist-many-tho... ... Polish archaeologists are getting like Polish plumbers as they are popping up all over the world. Are they doing archaeology at a reduced rate?

Ancient Ghana

At https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/ancient-figures-re... ... Ghana had gold and slaves. It therefore became a magnet and attracted merchants from the other side of the Sahara. Whether this included traders in the Roman period or not it unclear but it certainly did in the Islamic ascendancy between the 6th and 13th centuries AD. As such, Ghana was keyed into a massive trade network from China and Indonesia to Spain, a network of trade routes.

More Wetting Sahara

At https://phys.org/print404473128.html ... the subject is cooking plant material in pots. Cooking leaves behind a residue that modern science can translate into what was being cooked - even though those pots, usually found as sherds, may be thousands of years of age. This is a remarkable achievement in itself and a scientific tool unavailable to earlier archaeologists. It all comes at a price of course and the sponsors of any dig must have the funds to pay for it, and C14 dating. In other words, not something your low funded communal type dig could afford.

Mayan Collapse

This story is crawling all over the Internet this week and see http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/winter-2017/article/archaeologists-... ... which is a bit of a non story as all they appear to have done is come up with two sets of dates when things went wrong for the Maya. Instead of a gradual decline, as in previous studies, the contention in this research is that it occurred primarily at two points in time (possibly by narrowing down C14 methodology to tweek the specifics).

Metrication

At https://phys.org/print404412354.html ... apparently the Pueblo people of the American SW used geometry in the design of their pueblos. Not only that they used a standard unit of measurement, around 30cm in length (very close to a modern foot). How times change. Back in the 1980s Alexander Thom was ridiculed for claiming the stone circle builders used a standard unit of measurement that he called the Megalithic Yard. He was also laughed at for suggesting they also used geometry to produce ovoid circles.

Aborigines in Australia

In the same issue of World Current Archaeology 81 we learn that at the Warrutyi rock shelter 55km north of Adelaide, in the Flinders Ranges, a local Aboriginal elder and a researcher from La Trobe University, when surveying a remote gorge peered into the shelter and noticed it had a fire blackened roof. This was the sort of site they were interested in as it suggested a long period of time with endless camp fires.

smallpox

In World Current Archaeology 81 (February 2017) (https://www.world-archaeology.com ), the News section, there is half a page on smallpox - when did the virus reach Europe. It seems that it may not have made the leap from animal to human that long ago. According to previous studies on ancient disease it has been assumed smallpox has been around for a long time - and entered Europe in the Roman period as a result of contact with more exotic climes. It is even thought Ramses V of dynasty 20 died from smallpox towards the end of the Late Bronze age in Egypt.

Vitrified Forts

Although there are plenty of examples of vitrified hill forts on the continent this offering is concerned solely with Scotland. They have periodically been of interest to neo-catastrophists on the basis there is a small chance they may have been vitrified as a result of fire from the sky (whatever that may entail). None of these forays have proved worth pursuing as C14 dates for vitrified forts tend to be all over the place (especially in the first few centuries AD). One can hardly advocate multiple atmospheric air blasts in a well recorded period of history.