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  • richardmitnick 10:36 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Archaeology, , Teen Discovers Lost Maya City Using Ancient Star Maps   

    From GIZMODO: “Teen Discovers Lost Maya City Using Ancient Star Maps” 

    GIZMODO bloc


    George Dvorsky

    Google Earth and satellite photos appear to reveal the site of a pyramid cloaked in foliage. (Image: Google Earth, CSA)

    Using an unprecedented technique of matching stars to the locations of temples on Earth, a 15-year-old Canadian student says he’s discovered a forgotten Maya city in Central America. Images from space suggest he may actually be onto something.

    William Gadoury, a teen from Saint-Jean-de-Matha in Lanaudière, developed an interest in archaeology after the publication of the Maya calendar announcing the end of the world in 2012. After spending hours pouring over diagrams of constellations and maps of known Maya cities, he noticed that the two appeared to be linked; the brightest stars of the constellations overlaid perfectly with the locations of the largest Maya cities. As reported in The Telegraph, no other scientist had ever discovered such a correlation.

    Here’s how he discovered the lost city: After studying 22 different constellations, Gadoury noticed that they neatly corresponded to the locations of 117 Mayan cities located in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. When looking at a 23rd constellation, he was able to match two stars to known cities—but a third star remained unmatched. Using transparent overlays, Gadoury pinpointed a location deep in the thick jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

    Google Earth and satellite photos show what looks to be a cluster of structures. (Image: Google Earth, CSA)

    “I did not understand why the Maya built their cities away from rivers, on marginal lands, and in the mountains,” explained Gadoury in Le Journal de Montreal. “They must have had another reason, and as they worshiped the stars, the idea came to me to verify my hypothesis. I was really surprised and excited when I realized that the most brilliant stars of the constellations matched the largest Maya cities.”

    Image: Canadian Space Agency

    Taking this idea further, Gadoury contacted the Canadian Space Agency, who provided him with space-based images from NASA and JAXA. These satellite images revealed a batch of undeniably geometric structures hidden under the jungle canopy. Gadoury, along with Dr. Armand LaRocque, a remote sensing specialist from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, believe it’s an ancient Maya pyramid surrounded by 30 smaller structures. The teen has named the city—which has yet to be explored and verified—K’aak Chi, which means “Mouth of Fire.” If confirmed, it would be among the largest Maya cities ever discovered.

    William Gadoury, 15, explains his theory of the existence of an unknown Maya city before scientists at the Canadian Space Agency. (Image: Canadian Space Agency)

    LaRocque said the use of satellite images, as well as the contribution of digital image processing, helped to confirm the possible existence of this forgotten city. “Geometric shapes, such as squares or rectangles, appeared in these images, forms that can hardly be attributed to natural phenomenon,” LaRocque said.

    Daniel de Lisle of the Canadian Space Agency said he was fascinated by the depth of Gadoury’s research, and that linking the position of stars and the location of a lost city “is quite exceptional.” He told The Independent that “There are linear features that would suggest there is something underneath that big canopy,” adding that “There are enough items to suggest it could be a man-made structure.”

    What needs to happen now is a ground expedition, but that won’t come cheap, nor will it be easy. The location of the site is in one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of Mexico. And as LaRocque put it, “Expedition costs are horribly expensive.” Gadoury has contacted a team of Mexican archaeologists, and he’s hoping to take part in any subsequent mission to the site.

    “It would be the culmination of my three years of work and the dream of my life,” said the cool teen.

    So, uh, can someone get a Kickstarter going for this kid immediately please?

    See the full article here .

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    GIZMOGO pictorial

  • richardmitnick 4:46 pm on August 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ales Stenar Swedish Stonehenge, , Archaeology,   

    From livescience: “Swedish Stonehenge? Ancient Stone Structure Spurs Debate” April 2012, but Very Cool 


    April 18, 2012
    Crystal Gammon

    Temp 1
    An ancient megalithic structure shaped like a ship in Sweden seems to have a similar geometry to Stonehenge, and may have been used as an astronomical calendar, one scientist says.
    Credit: Steffen Hoejager | Shutterstock

    Ancient Scandinavians dragged 59 boulders to a seaside cliff near what is now the Swedish fishing village of Kåseberga. They carefully arranged the massive stones — each weighing up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) — in the outline of a 220-foot-long (67-meter) ship overlooking the Baltic Sea.

    Archaeologists generally agree this megalithic structure, known as Ales Stenar (“Ale’s Stones”), was assembled about 1,000 years ago, near the end of the Iron Age, as a burial monument. But a team of researchers now argues it’s really 2,500 years old, dating from the Scandinavian Bronze Age, and was built as an astronomical calendar with the same underlying geometry as England’s Stonehenge.

    A fuller picture. Ale’s Stones at Kåseberga, around ten kilometres southeast of Ystad.

    “We can now say Stonehenge has a younger sister, but she’s so much more beautiful,” said Nils-Axel Mörner, a retired geologist from Stockholm University who co-authored the paper on the interpretation, published in March in the International Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    Other researchers familiar with the site are skeptical. Among other arguments, they cite the results of carbon dating to reject Mörner’s interpretation.

    Inspired by Stonehenge?

    Mörner says his team observed that the sun rises and sets at specific points around Ales Stenar at the summer and winter solstices, hinting that an ancient culture could have built it as an astronomical calendar to time things like annual religious ceremonies or planting and harvesting crops.

    They also observed that certain aspects of the stone ship’s geometry matched those of Stonehenge, a Bronze Age monument that some enthusiasts believe was used as a calendar. (Those claims are contentious, and there are many other theories of Stonehenge’s original purpose.)

    The similarities led Mörner to propose the mysterious stone structure of Sweden was a Stonehenge-inspired astronomical calendar constructed by a Bronze Age Scandinavian community that regularly traveled and traded throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.

    “The first thing is to see that, yes, it’s a calendar,” Mörner told LiveScience. “But Ale’s Stones also tells us a lot more than we knew before about trading and travel in the Bronze Age among Scandinavia, England and Greece.”

    Beowulf, not the Bronze Age

    Other researchers are not convinced.

    “The idea that the stone ship might have been an astronomical calendar has no supporters among academic archaeologists,” said Swedish archaeologist Martin Rundkvist, managing editor of the archaeology journal Fornvännen.

    Rather, Ales Stenar was probably an ornate grave marker, he said.

    The Swedish countryside is home to many similar megalithic structures, which are generally known as stone ships. Most of them date back to Sweden’s Late Iron Age (approximately A.D. 500-1000), and they serve as burial monuments, Rundkvist said.

    Archaeologists using radiocarbon dating have calculated that Ales Stenar was built about 1,400 years ago, near the end of Scandinavia’s Iron Age — long after the construction date estimated by Mörner’s team. [Photos: Mysterious Stone Structures]

    Ales Stenar was built by members of a warlike community of seafarers who used oxen, slaves, rope, sleds, wooden spades and simple steel tools to collect and raise the huge boulders, Rundkvist said.

    “This was the world of Beowulf,” Rundkvist said, referring to the epic poem set in Iron Age Scandinavia.

    Ships were an important part of life in this nautical culture, which may have inspired communities to mark the graves of important people with stone ships, some scholars say.

    Rundkvist believes there’s no evidence for anything beyond that — including Mörner’s Stonehenge theory.

    “New Age mystics like standing stones,” Rundkvist told LiveScience.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:04 am on July 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Archaeology,   

    From NOVA: “Fossil Fuels Are Destroying Our Ability to Study the Past” 



    21 Jul 2015
    Tim De Chant

    It’s been used to date objects tens of thousands of years old, from fossil forests to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but in just a few decades, a tool that revolutionized archaeology could turn into little more than an artifact of a bygone era.

    Radiocarbon dating may be the latest unintended victim of our burning of fossil fuels for energy. By 2020, carbon emissions will start to affect the technique, and by 2050, new organic material could be indistinguishable from artifacts from as far back as AD 1050, according to research by Heather Graven, a lecturer at Imperial College London.

    The Great Isaiah Scroll, one of the seven Dead Sea Scrolls, has been dated using the radiocarbon technique.

    The technique relies on the fraction of radioactive carbon relative to total carbon. Shortly after World War II, Willard Libby discovered that, with knowledge of carbon-14’s predictable decay rate, he could accurately date objects that contained carbon by measuring the ratio of carbon-14 to all carbon in the sample. The less carbon-14 to total carbon, the older the artifact. Since only living plants and animals can incorporate new carbon-14, the technique became a reliable measure for historical artifacts. The problem is, as we’ve pumped more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we’ve unwittingly increased the total carbon side of the equation.

    Here’s Matt McGrath, reporting for BBC News:

    At current rates of emissions increase, according to the research, a new piece of clothing in 2050 would have the same carbon date as a robe worn by William the Conqueror 1,000 years earlier.

    “It really depends on how much emissions increase or decrease over the next century, in terms of how strong this dilution effect gets,” said Dr Graven.

    “If we reduce emissions rapidly we might stay around a carbon age of 100 years in the atmosphere but if we strongly increase emissions we could get to an age of 1,000 years by 2050 and around 2,000 years by 2100.”

    Scientists have been anticipating the diminished accuracy of radiocarbon dating as we’ve continued to burn more fossil fuels, but they didn’t have a firm grasp of how quickly it could go south. In the worst case scenario, we would no longer be able date artifacts younger than 2,000 years old. Put another way, by the end of the century, a test of the Shroud of Turn wouldn’t be able to definitively distinguished the famous piece of linen from a forgery made today.

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    NOVA is the highest rated science series on television and the most watched documentary series on public television. It is also one of television’s most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over.

  • richardmitnick 2:56 pm on February 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Archaeology,   

    From Archaeology: “Rome’s Imperial Port” 

    ArchaeologyMag bloc

    Archaeology Magazine

    February 10, 2015

    Portus, now some two miles from the Mediterranean shoreline, was built by the Romans in the 1st century [CE] to be their main maritime port. A 16th-century fresco in the Vatican Palace shows an idealized reconstruction of Portus’ grand architectural and engineering features. ((De Agostini Picture Library/Bridgeman Images)

    Twenty miles southwest of Rome, obscured by agricultural fields, woodlands, and the modern infrastructure of one of Europe’s busiest airports, lies what may be ancient Rome’s greatest engineering achievement, and arguably its most important: Portus. Although almost entirely silted in today, at its height, Portus was Rome’s principal maritime harbor, catering to thousands of ships annually. It served as the primary hub for the import, warehousing, and distribution of resources, most importantly grain, that ensured the stability of both Rome and the empire. “For Rome to have worked at capacity, Portus needed to work at capacity,” says archaeologist Simon Keay. “The fortunes of the city are inextricably tied to it. It’s quite hard to overestimate.” Portus was the answer to Rome’s centuries-long search for an efficient deepwater harbor. In the end, as only the Romans could do, they simply dug one.

    Although it had previously received little attention archaeologically, over the last decade and half Portus has been the focus of an ambitious project that is rediscovering the grandeur of the port, its relationship to Rome, and the unparalleled role it played as the centerpiece of Rome’s Mediterranean port system. Keay, of the University of Southampton, is currently director of the Portus Project, now in its fifth year, but has been leading fieldwork in and around the site since the late 1990s. He is part of a multinational team investigating Portus’ beginnings in the first century [CE]., its evolution into the main port of Rome, and, ultimately, the complex dynamics of the port’s relationship with the city and the broader Roman Mediterranean. The multifaceted project involves a number of institutions, including the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British School at Rome, the University of Cambridge, and the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome.

    Still visible today, Portus’ hexagonal basin and its adjacent canal facilitated the transfer of goods up the Tiber River to Rome. (Courtesy Simon Keay/The Portus Project)

    One of the difficulties the team has faced in addition to the site’s enormous size is its complexity. Portus encompasses not only two man-made harbor basins, but all of the infrastructure associated with a small city, including temples, administrative buildings, warehouses, canals, and roads. Archaeologists have taken many approaches to investigating Portus. “Methodologically, the strategy has been to combine large-scale, extensive work using every kind of geophysical and topographic technique, with excavation reserved for relatively focused areas,” says Keay. “The aim is to try and understand a key area at the center of the port, which could provide a point from which to understand how the port worked as a whole.” The current archaeological research is offering a new understanding of just how Portus’ construction enabled Rome to become Rome.

    See the full article here.

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    ARCHAEOLOGY magazine offers compelling narratives about the human past from every corner of the globe. Edited for a general audience, our news, features, and photo essays employ in-depth reporting, cogent analysis, and vivid storytelling to provide an accurate and often surprisingly intimate look at the record of human existence. Our pieces offer insights into the beginnings and ends of cultures, as well as examining the full expression of those cultures. ARCHAEOLOGY’s stories share one distinctive trait—they rest on the close investigation of archaeological evidence—of the things, in short, that we leave behind.

    ARCHAEOLOGY magazine has been published continuously for more than 65 years. It is a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, a 133-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of human heritage.

  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on February 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Archaeology,   

    From livescience: “The 7 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth” 2010 


    July 22, 2010
    Heather Whipps

    Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team
    The lost city of Atlantis has been discovered in the Bahamas, the Greek Islands, Cuba, and even Japan if every claim was to be believed.

    First described by the ancient Greek historian Plato in 360 B.C., the mythological island was supposedly a great naval power before sinking into the sea over 10,000 years ago in a catastrophic event.

    Archaeologists debate the actual historical existence of the island as well as its most plausible location if it ever actually existed among the many sunken ruins discovered around the world. But even without definitive proof, Atlantis continues to engage the popular imagination like few other archaeological mysteries out there.

    Credit: stock.xchng
    Sprucing up an otherwise docile English field, the prehistoric monument commonly known as Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous landmarks.

    The ring of megalithic stones was built approximately 4,000 years ago and was an impressive feat for the primitive people who constructed it but that’s about all archaeologists know for sure. None of the theories on the original purpose of Stonehenge, which range from an astronomical observatory to a religious temple of healing, has ever been, well, set in stone.

    Ancient Animal Traps
    Credit: dreamstime
    Low stone walls crisscrossing the deserts of Israel, Egypt and Jordan have puzzled archaeologists since their discovery by pilots in the early 20th century.

    The chain of lines some up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) long and nicknamed “kites” by scientists for their appearance from the air date to 300 B.C., but were abandoned long ago.

    The mystery might be somewhat clearer thanks to a recent study claiming that the purpose of the kites was to funnel wild animals toward a small pit, where they could easily be killed in large numbers. This efficient system suggests that local hunters knew more about the behavior of local fauna than previously thought.

    Antikythera Mechanism
    Credit: Antikythera Mechanism Research Project
    Like something from a fantastical treasure movie, the discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism remains a major archaeological head-scratcher.

    Found in the sunken wreckage of a Greek cargo ship that is at least 2,000 years old, the circular bronze artifact contains a maze of interlocking gears and mysterious characters etched all over its exposed faces. Originally thought to be a kind of navigational astrolabe, archaeologists continue to uncover its uses and now know that it was, at the very least, a highly intricate astronomical calendar.

    It is still the most sophisticated device ever found from that period, preceding the next appearance of similar devices by 1,000 years.

    Nazca Lines
    Credit: NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team
    From the ground, the Nazca Lines of Peru are nothing spectacular. However, seen from the air, from which they were first spotted by commercial aircraft in the 1920s and 30s, they are staggering.

    Archaeologists agree the enormous shapes there are hundreds of them, ranging from geometric lines to complicated depictions of animals, plants and imaginary figures were made over 2,000 years ago by people of the pre-Inca Nazca culture, who simply removed the red surface pebbles to reveal the lighter earth below in designs of their choice.

    Just why they did it remains enigmatic, prompting conspiracy theorists to float ideas about alien landings and ancient astrology. The lines were more likely to have been a ritual communication method with the Nazca’s deities, say archaeologists.

    The Great Pyramids
    Credit: stock.xchng
    Even the information that archaeologists do know about the Great Pyramids of Egypt is enormously fascinating, to say nothing about what still might be uncovered.

    Built almost 5,000 years ago in what is now Cairo, the three-pyramid complex with the largest, Khufu, dominating the site is a testament to the ancient Egyptians’ reverence for their Pharaohs and the intricacies of their belief in the afterlife.

    Archaeologists are still discovering new tunnels and shafts built within the pyramids, and are still searching for clues on who built the great monuments, how and why, even today.

    Gobekli Tepe
    No image credit
    Humans first settled into permanents towns, farmed and then built temples, in that order, starting in 8,000 B.C. Or did they?

    An amazing archaeological discovery made in 1994 at Gobekli Tepe, a rural area of Turkey, has blown that hypothesis apart, prompting new questions about the evolution of civilization.

    Containing multiple rings of huge stone pillars carved with scenes of animals and dating to the 10th millennium B.C., Gobekli Tepe is considered the world’s oldest place of worship. Yet evidence also suggests the people who built it were semi-nomadic hunters, likely unaware of agriculture, which followed in the area only five centuries later. Because of Gobekli Tepe, archaeologists now have to ask which came first. Did building projects like this lead to settlement, and not vice-versa, as always thought?

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 11:18 am on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Archaeology, , ,   

    From LLNL: “Lawrence Livermore research finds early Mesoamericans affected by climate change” 

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Jan. 26, 2015

    Anne M Stark

    Cantona was one of the largest cities in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, with a population of 90,000 inhabitants at its peak. Scientists believe climate change was part of the reason the city was eventually abandoned.

    Scientists have reconstructed the past climate for the region around Cantona, a large fortified city in highland Mexico, and found the population drastically declined in the past, at least in part because of climate change.

    The research appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the week of Jan. 26.

    Lawrence Livermore researcher Susan Zimmerman and colleagues analyzed pollen, stable isotopes and elemental concentrations, which serve as proxies of past climatic and environmental conditions, from lake sediments in the region and found evidence of a regional drought between 500 and 1150 AD*, about the time Cantona was abandoned.

    Using Lawrence Livermore’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, the team — consisting of the University of California, Berkeley; Universidad Nacional Autonóma de Mexico; and the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences — dated terrestrial organic material from 12-meter-long sediment cores from the lake to establish the age control for this study. Radiocarbon dating and an age model showed that the centennial-scale arid interval between 500 and 1150 was overlaid on a long-term drying trend. The cores cover the last 6,200 years; however, the team focused on the last 3,800 years.


    Cantona is now an archaeological site in Mexico, on the border with Veracruz, about an hour’s drive from the city of Puebla. Limited archaeological work has been done at the site, and only about 10 percent of the site can be seen. It was a prominent, if isolated, Mesoamerican city between 600 and 1000 AD. It was abandoned after 1050 AD.

    “We found that Cantona’s population grew in the initial phases of the drought, but by 1050 AD long-term environmental stress (the drought) contributed to the city’s abandonment,” Zimmerman and colleagues said. “Our research highlights the interplay of environmental and political factors in past human responses to climate change.”

    Cantona was one of the largest cities in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, with a population of 90,000 inhabitants. It is in a semiarid basin east of Mexico City.

    The team conducted a subcentennial reconstruction of regional climate by taking sediment samples from a nearby crater lake, Aljojuca. The modern climate of the region suggests that proxy data from the sediments record changes in summer monsoonal (May through October) precipitation.

    “Our results suggest that climate change played a contributing role in the site’s history,” Zimmerman said.

    *LLNL has been apprised of the fact that the use of “AD” and “BC” as terms for dating is now out of use, AD replaced by CE, BC replaced by BCE

    See the full article here.

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    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
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  • richardmitnick 1:27 pm on January 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Archaeology,   

    From livescience: “Tomb of Unknown Queen Discovered in Egypt” 


    January 05, 2015
    Tanya Lewis

    The tomb of a previously unknown Egyptian queen was discovered in a pyramid necropolis southwest of Cairo, officials said yesterday (Jan. 4).

    The monarch is believed to be the wife of Pharaoh Neferefre, also known as King Raneferef, who ruled approximately 4,500 years ago. The queen’s tomb was found in Neferefre’s funeral complex at Abu Sur, a necropolis dedicated to the pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (2494-2345 B.C.), archaeologists from the Czech Institute of Egyptology said in a statement.

    It’s the “first time we have discovered the name of this queen who had been unknown before the discovery of her tomb,” antiquities minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said in a statement.

    The tomb was found to be that of the previously unknown Queen Khentakawess III, wife of Pharaoh Neferefre.
    Credit: © Jaromir Krejci, Archive of the Czech Institute of Egyptology

    Her name was Khentakawess, but she is actually Khentakawess III, because two previous queens are known to have had that name, al-Damaty said. The queen’s name and rank were carved into the tomb’s inner walls, probably by the builders, he said.

    In addition to the “wife of the king,” the inscription also identified the queen as the “mother of the king,” likely referring to Pharaoh Menkauhor Kaiu, the seventh ruler of the Fifth Dynasty, who ruled from about 2422 to 2414 B.C.

    The tomb also contained two dozen utensils made of limestone and copper.
    Credit: © Martin Frouz, Archive of the Czech Institute of Egyptology
    View full size image

    The aboveground part of the tomb consists of a “mastaba,” a flat-roofed rectangular structure with sloping sides built out of brick or stone, and a burial chapel, which originally had a pair of false doors in the west wall, the researchers said. The underground part of the tomb consists of a burial chamber reached through a shaft roughly a dozen feet deep.

    Example of a mastaba

    Although grave robbers have long since raided the tomb, the archaeologists still found two dozen utensils made of limestone and copper.

    Pharaoh Neferefre’s pyramid was never completed, possibly because his reign lasted only 2 to 3 years, according to The Huffington Post.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 10:46 am on January 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Archaeology,   

    From Yale: “Yale Indian Papers Project brings Native American research into the 21st century” 

    Yale University bloc

    Yale University

    “Leonard Nedson on the Eastern Pequot Reservation in North Stonington,” Indian & Colonial Research Center, Old Mystic, Connecticut.

    As editors of the Yale Indian Papers Project (YIPP), Paul Grant-Costa and Tobias Glaza explore collections at museums, archives, libraries, and historical societies across New England and in the United Kingdom — some of which have been overlooked by scholars — to uncover original records related to New England Indian history, law, religion, culture, migration, race, and sovereignty.

    Anyone with access to the Internet can view the hundreds of original documents, translations, biographies, and photographs on the project’s website, which has been hailed as a major boon in Native American research.

    The materials — which include land deeds and descriptions, correspondence, petitions to government authorities, overseer records, missionary reports, colonial war documents, maps, and drawings (like the inside of a wigwam sketched by Yale’s Ezra Stiles), as well as biographical and kinship information — are already being used in classrooms across the country, in publications, and in tribal communities. Currently, the editors are working to create a new expanded research website, while they continue to add new material to the existing online collection.

    “In many history books, the last you hear about New England Indians is after the dishes are cleared at that infamous Thanksgiving at Plymouth or after King Philip’s War in 1676. Then there’s a long silence. From there, you’re left with an unbalanced narrative told from a colonial perspective,” says Grant-Costa. “The continued Native presence in the story is almost always erased. That has consequences to how we understand our American past and tell our national story.”

    The idea for an international scholarly cooperative began nearly 15 years ago when Grant-Costa and Glaza worked on several East Coast tribal federal recognition petitions. The two — who had more than five decades of experience with Native communities between them — knew that lack of access to primary source materials was a widespread problem in the Native and academic research communities. They were determined to find an answer.

    [Ezra Stiles, “Pequot Indian Vocabulary”, 1762, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.]

    Grant-Costa, then a graduate student in Yale’s American Studies Program, and Glaza brought their idea to the university, and received enthusiastic support across the campus. The Yale Indian Papers Project was launched in 2009 with the first of two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This past spring the project moved its headquarters from Yale’s Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Connecticut, to an office in the Divinity School allowing for more interaction with students and faculty and greater access to the libraries on main campus.

    The two scholars bring different perspectives in their editorial work. Grant-Costa has experience as a linguist, historian, and lawyer. Glaza provides expertise in land use, ethnobotany, and Native studies.

    Part of the editors’ work is recovering a fragmented and scattered documentary record. “While there’s an occasional discovery of new material, many of the New England Indian manuscripts we work with are there in plain sight but sometimes overlooked by researchers,” says Glaza. “It’s our job to identify these documents and through annotation place them in the proper historical context. With materials from many different institutions interacting with each other, the result is richer, more authentic and significant historical narratives.”

    By analyzing the documentary texts, Grant-Costa and Glaza have also been able to recover information about New England Native spaces as well as stories. Land deeds, letters, and petitions often describe in detail Native villages and historically important areas. With the assistance of Yale Map Library director, Abe Parrish, the researchers will soon be linking their documents geospatially onto the landscape through ESRI-GIS mapping software.

    As members of the Yale Group for the Study of Native Americans, Grant-Costa and Glaza are part of the larger Native American community at Yale. They have participated in a summer teaching institute at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, helping primary and high school teachers incorporate primary source materials on Native peoples into their curricula. They have advised students from Yale and across the globe on course papers, senior essays, masters’ theses, and dissertations.

    “In the last few years we’ve been assisting several Oxford students with their academic work on New England Native communities,” added Glaza. “We can easily send documents across the Atlantic. It’s one of the benefits of being a digital project.” The editors also involve students in the editing process, which provides a hands-on experience for a profession that’s not often addressed in class curricula, they note.

    In addition, a growing number of scholarly book projects use YIPP resources. David Silverman, a professor of history at George Washington University, used the YIPP website to support his own research for a recent biography on Ninigret, the Niantic and Narragansett Sachem: Diplomacy, War, and the Balance of Power in Seventeenth-Century New England and Indian Country.

    Ninigret in 1681, painting currently at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum

    “I went on the website and was simply dazzled by what I saw there,” he said. “Paul and Toby go beyond canvasing archives in New England and the United Kingdom. They scan the documents, transcribe them into typescripts, and then edit them, identify the people, set the context for the letters, and plot the historical background.”

    Like many researchers, Silverman has faced the challenge of identifying documents scattered among numerous counties and towns throughout New England. In addition, because the materials are so delicate, researchers cannot have access to the originals and are left with poor facsimiles.

    [Ezra Stiles, “Plan of Eliza and Phoebe Moheage’s Wigwam”, 1762, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library]

    “They’ve done a lot of the legwork for everybody,” Silverman said. “On top of that, they have materials from the U.K., some of it buried in obscure places no one would think to look.”

    Last semester Silverman taught a class on King Philip’s War. He asked his students to look at a manuscript document in 17th-century Secretary hand and try to read it. After the students spent several hours on the document — without getting further than about two lines — he surprised them by letting them know there’s a typescript on the YIPP site.

    “For undergraduates above all this site is an absolute boon for research,” he said. “Professional historians might have the means to travel to archives and the training to decipher them, but not an undergraduate trying to do a history research paper. The YIPP now allows them to do it remotely and opens up the field.”

    In their present work, Grant-Costa and Glaza have incorporated a number of New England Native missionary materials from the 17th to 19th centuries, a topic that aligns well with their new home in the Divinity School.

    “As we’ve digitized, catalogued, and edited materials we’ve see certain themes come up over and over again, such as New England missionary activity within Native communities,” said Glaza, who noted that that feedback from website users showed a corresponding interest in learning more about these missionary endeavors. Among the missionary materials Grant-Costa and Glaza have been researching are diaries of missionaries and their activities on reservations; sermons and lectures that they preached; interactions with Native people on the reservations; and reports back to their funders or general assemblies of Connecticut or Massachusetts Bay.

    One prominent figure is Samson Occom, a Mohegan minister from New London, Connecticut. The YIPP archive contains a number of documents related to and written by Occom. A recent discovery of a rare document in the collections of the Leffingwell House Museum in Norwich, Connecticut, has been linked to Occom, causing some excitement in the field of Native American research.

    The document in question is the deathbed statement of a Christian Mohegan woman, the niece of a prominent missionary named Samuel Ashbow, who was one of Occom’s mentors. Ashbow and the girl’s father were traveling when she died, so Occom wrote down her deathbed statement as a record for her family when they returned.

    “There aren’t too many Native examples of Christian deathbed statements for this time period,” said Grant-Costa.

    Even more exciting for the researchers is the prospect that the document may be from one of Occom’s lost journals from that time period.

    “This record may be part of his journal. It has the same shape and form as the little booklets he used, but scholars thought these were lost,” he said. “Maybe they’re not lost, but are scattered in other places.”

    Grant-Costa and Glaza met with the Mohegan Council of Elders and several tribal cultural representatives to share their most recent discovery and to get advice in confirming the identity of the individuals mentioned within the document.

    [Students using YIPP materials in a scholarly editing workshop led by Grant-Costa and Glaza.]

    Teresa Berger, professor of liturgical studies and the Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at the Divinity School, recently used the deathbed narrative in her class, “In the Face of Death: Music, Worship and Art,” which she teaches with Markus Rathey, associate professor of music history. The interdisciplinary course draws students in the fields of religion and visual arts, poets and musicians, and doctors and social workers, as well as students training for ordained ministry.

    “Paul told me about this document, which I found so intriguing given the class I’m teaching,” said Berger. “We had just finished a session looking at African-American mourning stories, accounts of death, and burial in the 20th century, but had not done anything about Native American accounts.”

    Grant-Costa sent Berger the transcription of the Mohegan woman’s dying statement.

    “I think this is the first one I’ve seen from a Native American,” she said. “What struck me, given that it’s such a unique document, is how it fits into the tradition of deathbed narratives of Christians and what constitutes a ‘good’ death.”

    Berger added that if she teaches the course again she may well dedicate a session to the deathbed narrative and invite Grant-Costa and Glaza as guest speakers, as well as contemporary Native American cultural leaders to talk about practices around death and dying.

    With assistance from Yale Divinity School Library’s Graziano Kratli, Grant-Costa and Glaza hope to launch their expanded website in the next year. The new site will be “an innovative exploratory digital humanities research tool,” said Grant-Costa, who adds that he looks forward to having a new platform that will support even more integrated materials, interactive maps, a timeline, and dynamic cataloguing.

    “One goal of the project is getting the record out; another is starting a conversation where everyone is welcome to the table,” said Grant-Costa. “That’s what scholarship should be. Yale is a humanities-based institution, and this is a humanities research project, with a strong social justice component designed to give voice to a marginalized history.”

    He also stressed the importance of continuing to work with Native peoples in their research.

    “It’s very important to bring Native scholars into the discussion,” said Grant-Costa. “Yale is connected with Indian people in New England very deeply. The university’s history shows that many Yale graduates interacted with the region’s Native communities, as missionaries, teachers, overseers, governmental agents, or as inquisitive historians, — including Ezra Stiles, Timothy Dwight, and Abraham Pierson, the first rector of Yale. During the 20th century, we’ve lost that connection. This project, in some ways, is re-establishing the Yale legacy of working with local Native people in a positive way. It’s important that they be part of this project as colleagues and have a voice at Yale.”

    See the full article here.

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    Yale University Campus

    Yale University comprises three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program), the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools. In addition, Yale encompasses a wide array of centers and programs, libraries, museums, and administrative support offices. Approximately 11,250 students attend Yale.

  • richardmitnick 9:30 pm on January 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Archaeology,   

    From BAR: “Tel Maresha Caves Reveal Lost World of the Idumeans” 2013 


    Biblical Archaeology Review

    Biblical Archaeology Society Staff

    Tel Maresha, located in the Judean foothills southwest of Jerusalem, exists on two levels—one a typical Hellenistic town; the other a subterranean metropolis of cave complexes. These caves, as described by archaeologist Ian Stern in the September/October 2013 issue of BAR, accommodated many of the everyday building, industrial and even ritual needs of a thriving, multi-ethnic community dominated by the Idumeans, the descendants of the Biblical Edomites.


    Mentioned already in the Book of Joshua (15:44), Tel Maresha expanded greatly in the third century B.C.E. and became a well-planned Hellenistic city. The Idumeans and their neighbors outfitted the cave complexes below with a variety of industrial features, including columbaria for raising doves, olive presses for producing oil, and looms and dyeing bins for manufacturing textiles. What is more, the chalk excavated from the Tel Maresha caves supplied a ready source of fresh building material for the city above.

    For reasons that archaeologists still can’t explain, the caves of Tel Maresha were found filled to the brim with earth and debris tossed down from the houses above. Without any complex stratigraphy to record, the excavation of the cave complexes is handled primarily by “Dig for a Day.” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists supervise volunteers of all ages who come to Tel Maresha to spend a few hours unearthing pottery, bones and figurines left behind by the Idumeans and others.

    Caves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands as a Microcosm of the Land of the Caves

    A young volunteer excavating in the Tel Maresha caves as part of the program called “Dig for a Day.” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists supervise the work of volunteers.

    Among the more interesting finds from the Tel Maresha caves are hundreds of ostraca inscribed in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew, containing more than 1,300 personal names from the city’s diverse community of Idumeans, Judeans and Arabs. More puzzling are hundreds of vessels deliberately punctured with small holes, a phenomenon that bears striking similarities to a purification ritual described in the Mishnah. The resemblance suggests the purification rites of the Idumeans may have been similar to those of the Judeans.

    Interesting features hewn from the cave walls have also been uncovered, including nearly two dozen rock-cut chambers with small baths. Archaeologists believe they may have been used by the Idumeans for ritual bathing, similar to Jewish mikva’ot in Judea. Also found throughout the Maresha caves are non-figurative, stylized depictions of Qos, the god of the Idumeans. Such aniconic depictions may indicate that the Idumeans, like their Judean neighbors, had a strong aversion to figurative idols.

    To learn more about the lost world of the Idumeans being uncovered at Tel Maresha, read Ian Stern, A World Below: The Caves of Maresha, in the September/October 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

    See the full article here.

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    The Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) was founded in 1974 as a nonprofit, nondenominational, educational organization dedicated to the dissemination of information about archaeology in the Bible lands. BAS educates the public about archaeology and the Bible through its bi-monthly magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review, an award-winning web site http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org, books and multimedia products (DVDs, CD-ROMs and videos), and tours and seminars. Our readers rely on us to present the latest that scholarship has to offer in a fair and accessible manner. BAS serves as an important authority and as an invaluable source of reliable information.

    BAS’s flagship publication is Biblical Archaeology Review. BAR is the only magazine that connects the academic study of archaeology to a broad general audience eager to understand the world of the Bible. Covering both the Old and New Testaments, BAR presents the latest discoveries and controversies in archaeology with breathtaking photography and informative maps and diagrams. BAR’s writers are the top scholars, the leading researchers, the world-renowned experts. BAR is the only nonsectarian forum for the discussion of Biblical archaeology.
    BAS produced two other publications, Bible Review from 1985-2005, and Archaeology Odyssey from 1998-2006. The complete editorial contents of all three magazines are available on the BAS Online Archive for institutions and the BAS Library for individual users. Both of these resources also include the text of four highly-acclaimed books, Aspects of Monotheism, Feminist Approaches to the Bible, The Rise of Ancient Israel and The Search for Jesus.

  • richardmitnick 5:25 pm on January 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Archaeology,   

    From Archaeology: Artifact 

    ArchaeologyMag bloc

    Archaeology Magazine

    December 15, 2014
    No Writer Credit

    Beginning in about 1700 B.C., a new material became available in northern Europe that would change the way entire classes of objects were made and how wealth and status were expressed. In Denmark, bronze, which was imported through extensive trade networks with southern Europe, became the material of choice for tools, weapons, ceremonial objects, and jewelry for more than a thousand years. But for the early years of the Bronze Age, when these networks were still developing, the toolmakers of Denmark were faced with a problem—not enough bronze. Though scholars have long been aware of the shortage of raw materials, it wasn’t until fall 2014 that archaeologists from the Museum Lolland-Falster in southern Zealand discovered a unique artifact—a Bronze Age hafted dagger that wasn’t made of bronze. In fact, it was fashioned from flint. “We know this type of dagger existed,” says museum archaeologist Anders Rosendahl, “but to find an example is simply fantastic.” Although ordinarily an indispensable and valuable object such as a dagger would have been taken by its owner to his grave, the Rødbyhavn knife was found on an ancient seabed.


    The dagger is modeled after its bronze counterparts and demonstrates the skill that tool and weapon makers had developed during the preceding Neolithic period. The find is even more exciting, explains Rosendahl, because, in addition to the stone blade, the dagger’s shaft and even the birch bark wrapped around the handle to give the user a better grip were preserved after several thousand years.

    See the full article here.

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    ARCHAEOLOGY magazine offers compelling narratives about the human past from every corner of the globe. Edited for a general audience, our news, features, and photo essays employ in-depth reporting, cogent analysis, and vivid storytelling to provide an accurate and often surprisingly intimate look at the record of human existence. Our pieces offer insights into the beginnings and ends of cultures, as well as examining the full expression of those cultures. ARCHAEOLOGY’s stories share one distinctive trait—they rest on the close investigation of archaeological evidence—of the things, in short, that we leave behind.

    ARCHAEOLOGY magazine has been published continuously for more than 65 years. It is a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, a 133-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of human heritage.

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