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The latest research in archaeology and related subjects - exciting and engaging
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The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt: the rock drawings of Nag el-Hamdulab

The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt: the rock drawings of Nag el-Hamdulab | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

The vivid engravings on vertical rocks at the desert site of Nag el-Hamdulab west of the Nile comprise a rock art gallery of exceptional historical significance.

 

The authors show that the images of boats with attendant prisoners, animals and the earliest representation of a pharaoh offer a window on Dynasty 0, and depict the moment that the religious procession of pre-Dynastic Egypt became the triumphant tour of a tax-collecting monarch.

 

Antiquity Vol 86:334, 2012 pp 1068-1083 - Stan Hendrickx and others - The earliest representations of royal power in Egypt: the rock drawings of Nag el-Hamdulab (Aswan)

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Antiquity: Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf

Antiquity: Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

For most of human history on this planet—about 90 per cent of the time—sea levels have been substantially lower than at present, exposing large tracts of territory for human settlement. Europe alone would have had a land area increased by 40 per cent at the maximum sea level regression (Figure 1). Although this has been recognised for many decades, archaeologists have resisted embracing its full implications, barely accepting that most evidence of Palaeolithic marine exploitation must by definition be invisible, believing that nothing has survived or can be found on the seabed, and preferring instead to emphasise the opportunities afforded by lower sea level for improved terrestrial dispersal across land bridges and narrowed sea channels.

 

In the past decade, opinions have begun to change in response to a number of factors: evidence that marine exploitation and seafaring have a much deeper history in the Pleistocene than previously recognised; the steady accumulation of new underwater Stone Age sites and materials, amounting now to over 3000 in Europe, and often with unusual and spectacular conditions of preservation (Figure 2); availability of new technologies and research strategies for underwater exploration; and the growth of targeted underwater research (Erlandson 2001; Bailey & Milner 2002; Anderson et al. 2010; Benjamin et al. 2011).

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Structure from Motion as a Tool for Archaeological Research

Structure from Motion as a Tool for Archaeological Research | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

This Website contains an ongoing collection of work for my PhD in Structure from Motion as a Tool for Archaeological Research at the Institute for Archaeology, UCL. The links on the right will take you to individual case studies. Some of these were completed as part of my Masters Dissertation.

My PhD research looks at the use of 'structure from motion' to quickly and cheaply build 3d models from photographs.

The process is very similar to photogrammetry, but uses an additional step to calculate camera position from the photographs, so there is no need to know the camera position, and it can even be done from pre-existing photographs provided the coverage is great enough.

Feature matching software matches points across a sequence of images, and uses triangulation to determine the exact location of the camera for each image. This information is used to calculate the position of features in 3D space. The resulting pointcloud can be processed to create a 3D model or elevation map. This technique allows the recording of surface detail at a precision, cost and speed that can compare favourably with topographic survey, LiDAR and laser scanning, and photogrammetry.

This research builds upon my past professional experience in 3d modelling and on a successful pilot study I
developed for my Masters dissertation. Only open source software will be used, and this will be developed to bring the technique within the reach of the average archaeologist and to integrate technologies specific to archaeological needs, such as the ability to georeference 3D objects.

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The geometry of north-east Scottish Recumbent Stone Circles measured by experiment

The geometry of north-east Scottish Recumbent Stone Circles measured by experiment | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

The Recumbent Stones Circles (hereafter RSCs) of north-east Scotland are a distinctive class of stone circle, dating to c. 2500–2000 BC.

 

Unlike other stone circles, they are characterised by the presence of a huge recumbent stone enclosed by two tall stones known as flankers. Typically, the rest of the circle stones are then graded, shortening in height away from the flankers, and in many instances there are internal cairns (RCAHMS 2007: 59).

 

A recent re-examination of their remains proposes that an extent population of 71 circles still exists (Welfare 2011).

 

Experimental archaeology provides an insight into how these circles could have been planned. Indeed, testing a hypothesis to show how stone circles were laid out by eye.

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Antiquity: The Giants of Wessex: the chronology of the three largest mounds in Wiltshire, UK

Antiquity: The Giants of Wessex: the chronology of the three largest mounds in Wiltshire, UK | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Recent scientific dating programmes on the three largest mounds in Wiltshire in southern Britain allows the chronology of these prehistoric monuments to be better understood. Silbury Hill (Figure 1), at 31m high the largest prehistoric mound in Europe, was the focus of a multi-million pound archaeological and conservation project after a cavity opened up on the summit in 2000 (Leary & Field 2010; Leary et al. in press).

 

Following this fieldwork, cores were taken to determine the date of the 18m high Marlborough Mound, just 8.3km to the east of Silbury Hill (Figure 2). These cores were inserted centrally from the summit to the base, analysed and dating material was retrieved (Leary et al. forthcoming). The third mound, the Hatfield Barrow located within Marden henge in the Vale of Pewsey, is said to have been as much as 15m high, although it is now demolished. However, recent excavations within the henge enclosure have revealed that a thin remnant of the mound has survived and material suitable for dating was recovered from it (Leary & Field 2012).

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Virtual discoveries at a wonder of the world: geophysical investigations and ancient plumbing at Petra, Jordan

Virtual discoveries at a wonder of the world: geophysical investigations and ancient plumbing at Petra, Jordan | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

The ancient city of Petra, Jordan, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 and has more recently been added to the list of New Seven Wonders of the World. Lost to the western world until 1812, the 'rose-red city' with its stunning sandstone architecture carved directly into bedrock is truly impressive.

 

First constructed by the Nabataeans starting around 200 BC, and later controlled by the Romans (beginning in AD 106), this desert metropolis is noted for an elaborate water management system that allowed the city to thrive for centuries in an arid region while functioning as an important trading hub for the ancient world (Ruben 2003; Ortloff 2005).

 

Recent non-destructive geophysical investigations of the so-called Upper Market area in the Petra city centre have revealed a range of previously unknown features likely to be related to the water management of the city. A thorough understanding of this system is crucial to knowing how and why the city emerged, expanded to a population of 20 000 residents, and eventually fell into decline.

 

Antiquity.

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Antiquity: Project Gallery

Antiquity: Project Gallery | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

The archaeology of Syria (Figure1) is well known for its richness and complexity. There are six World Heritage sites, with a further ten on UNESCO's Tentative list, spanning more than 5000 years of human achievement. Here religion and history intertwine: the Old City of Damascus contains the house where Saul is thought to have stayed after converting to Christianity and some of the mosques date back to the time of Mohammed. Many are still in use today, part of a living heritage tradition. However, the current conflict has not spared this cultural heritage, and it may be years before the full extent of the damage is known, if ever.

 

There is little verifiable information: most comes from YouTube videos via a Facebook group, Le patrimoine archéologique syrien en danger (PASD; http://www.facebook.com/Archeologie.syrienne).

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The use of multi-criteria GIS to analyse the long flint blades of Sardinia, Italy

The use of multi-criteria GIS to analyse the long flint blades of Sardinia, Italy | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Among applications of GIS analysis to archaeological research questions, case studies concerned with defined phenomena in discrete areas, in particular islands (Gaffney & Stančič 1991; Bevan & Conolly 2004) form an ideal subject. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean, Sardinia is thus a perfect place for testing such applications; the object of our analysis is the distribution in this region of long blades produced in a highly specialised environment at the end of the Neolithic (4000–3300 cal BC). These long blades, obtained mainly through pressure flaking, are made on very high quality flint from deposits in the area of Perfugas (Sassari), where a specialist workshop producing such artefacts has been identified (Costa & Pelegrin 2004).

 

In our case study, GIS was used to provide an analytical tool additional to the techno-morphological study of the entire corpus of 258 artefacts. This was achieved by incorporating the information obtained from the examination of the artefacts themselves into a geodatabase. The data derived from the artefacts were linked with the data pertaining to the geo-environment of Sardinia and interrogated in terms of spatial relationships.

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Geophysics Projects « The British School at Rome

Geophysics Projects « The British School at Rome | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Since 2001, the British School at Rome and APSS have conducted numerous geophysical projects throughout Italy and the Mediterranean. The following pages provide a brief overview of each of these projects, describing the location, aims of the project and the results.

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Open Access Explained!

What is open access? Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen take us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it's all about. Make sure to w...
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Understanding the Bach Dang battlefield from recent research results

Understanding the Bach Dang battlefield from recent research results | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
The Mongols created the world’s most powerful empire in the thirteenth century, conqueringChina and establishing the Yuan dynasty. Their military power was in doubt, however, after failednaval invasions in Japan and Vietnam.

 

According to historical records, the Vietnamese tacticsused against the Mongolian Armada were designed to prevent them from reaching the mouth of Bach Dang River by using hidden stakes that were driven into the riverbed in secrecy.

 

Using thelarge difference in tides, the Vietnamese successfully lured the enemy fleet into the trap,destroying or capturing perhaps as many as 400 vessels. Since the 1950s, approximately 700years after this watershed event, Vietnamese archaeologists have discovered a number of largewooden stakes in the midst of reclaimed paddy fields along the Bach Dang River. Excavationsand research were conducted which led to the identification of several stake-yard sites believedto be dated to the battle that took place in 1281 C.E., however, no remains of ships have beenidentified to date.

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PLOS ONE: Man the Fat Hunter: The Demise of Homo erectus and the Emergence of a New Hominin Lineage in the Middle Pleistocene (ca. 400 kyr) Levant

PLOS ONE: Man the Fat Hunter: The Demise of Homo erectus and the Emergence of a New Hominin Lineage in the Middle Pleistocene (ca. 400 kyr) Levant | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

The worldwide association of H. erectus with elephants is well documented and so is the preference of humans for fat as a source of energy.

 

We show that rather than a matter of preference, H. erectus in the Levant was dependent on both elephants and fat for his survival. The disappearance of elephants from the Levant some 400 kyr ago coincides with the appearance of a new and innovative local cultural complex – the Levantine Acheulo-Yabrudian and, as is evident from teeth recently found in the Acheulo-Yabrudian 400-200 kyr site of Qesem Cave, the replacement of H. erectus by a new hominin.

 

We employ a bio-energetic model to present a hypothesis that the disappearance of the elephants, which created a need to hunt an increased number of smaller and faster animals while maintaining an adequate fat content in the diet, was the evolutionary drive behind the emergence of the lighter, more agile, and cognitively capable hominins.

 

Qesem Cave thus provides a rare opportunity to study the mechanisms that underlie the emergence of our post-erectus ancestors, the fat hunters.

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Did Neolithic farming fail? The case for a Bronze Age agricultural revolution in the British Isles

Did Neolithic farming fail? The case for a Bronze Age agricultural revolution in the British Isles | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

This paper rewrites the early history of Britain, showing that while the cultivation of cereals arrived there in about 4000 cal BC, it did not last. Between 3300 and 1500 BC Britons became largely pastoral, reverting only with a major upsurge of agricultural activity in the Middle Bronze Age. This loss of interest in arable farming was accompanied by a decline in population, seen by the authors as having a climatic impetus. But they also point to this period as the time of construction of the great megalithic monuments, including Stonehenge. We are left wondering whether pastoralism was all that bad, and whether it was one intrusion after another that set the agenda on the island.


Via Dorian Q Fuller, Nik Morris
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Gordon's fort at Laboré and issues of developing archaeology in the new South Sudan

Gordon's fort at Laboré and issues of developing archaeology in the new South Sudan | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Archaeological research in South Sudan has been almost non-existent, the exception being preliminary surveys conducted by the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) in the gap between civil wars in 1977–1981 (David et al. 1981; Phillipson 1981; Robertshaw & Mawson 1981; Mack & Robertshaw 1982) and more recent surveys of slave trading zara'ib (fortified camps) by Paul Lane (Lane & Johnson 2009).

 

However, this limited data suggests that the potential for archaeological research in Africa's newest nation is huge and can contribute substantively to broader debates concerning a range of 'big topics' such as the emergence of complex hunter-foragers during the mid-Holocene, the spread of food production and metal working, agricultural intensification and the colonial encounter.

 

There are also strong calls from within South Sudan for the development of national heritage and a national historical narrative (e.g. Jok Madut Jok 2011) as well as for the conduct of archaeological and heritage assessments in advance of rapid infrastructural development.

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Climate impacts on human settlement and agricultural activities in northern Norway revealed through sediment biogeochemistry

Disentangling the effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the environment is a major challenge in paleoenvironmental research. Here, we used fecal sterols and other biogeochemical compounds in lake sediments from northern Norway to identify both natural and anthropogenic signals of environmental change during the late Holocene. The area was first occupied by humans and their grazing animals at ∼2,250 ± 75 calendar years before 1950 AD (calendar years before present). The arrival of humans is indicated by an abrupt increase in coprostanol (and its epimer epicoprostanol) in the sediments and an associated increase in 5β-stigmastanol (and 5β-epistigmastanol), which resulted from human and animal feces washing into the lake. Human settlement was accompanied by an abrupt increase in landscape fires (indicated by the rise in pyrolytic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and a decline in woodland (registered by a change in n-alkane chain lengths from leaf waxes), accelerating a process that began earlier in the Holocene. Human activity and associated landscape changes in the region over the last two millennia were mainly driven by summer temperatures, as indicated by independent tree-ring reconstructions, although there were periods when socioeconomic factors played an equally important role. In this study, fecal sterols in lake sediments have been used to provide a record of human occupancy through time. This approach may be useful in many archeological studies, both to confirm the presence of humans and grazing animals, and to distinguish between anthropogenic and natural factors that have influenced the environment in the past.

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Electronic journal of Iranian Journal of Archaeological Studies

Archives starting to appear for this Journal.  with open access. 

Two volumes up so far from 2011  so maybe a slight rolling access wall. 

very good!

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Urban Archaeology: Electronic site registers: a way forward?

Urban Archaeology: Electronic site registers: a way forward? | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

For many years context sheets and registers have been written on paper, whilst the databases containing the context information have been held on computer. Many early context sheets were designed for computer entry, and the standardised format, definitions and controlled vocabulary of a processual recording system lends itself perfectly to computer entry. The level of actual computer entry of context data varies massively across the country, with some units inputting all context data, whilst others select certain key details, and most of this data entry takes place off-site and in post-ex.

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Antiquity Vol 86:331, 2012 pp 48-70 - Tom D. Dillehay and others - Chronology, mound-building and environment at Huaca Prieta, coastal Peru, from 13 700 to 4000 years ago

Antiquity Vol 86:331, 2012 pp 48-70 - Tom D. Dillehay and others - Chronology, mound-building and environment at Huaca Prieta, coastal Peru, from 13 700 to 4000 years ago | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Renewed in-depth multi-disciplinary investigation of a large coastal mound settlement in Peru has extended the occupation back more than 7000 years to a first human exploitation ~13720 BP. Research by the authors has chronicled the prehistoric sequence from the activities of the first maritime foragers to the construction of the black mound and the introduction of horticulture and monumentality. The community of Huaca Prieta emerges as innovative, complex and ritualised, as yet with no antecedents.

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Antiquity: Project Gallery

Antiquity: Project Gallery | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

The sensational finds of mummified remains of ancient miners in the opencast salt mine of Douzlakh in Iran have been attracting scientific and scholarly interest since their discovery in 1994 (RCCCR 1998; Aali 2005; Shokouhi 2005; Vatandoust & Hadian-Dehkordi 2005).

 

In the following years rescue excavations have been conducted by the Zanjan branch of the Miras Farhangi (Zanjan Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation) and in 2008 an initial conference was held in Zanjan.

 

This resulted in the setting up of an international, multidisciplinary research project whose main partners are Abolfazl Aali (Miras Farhangi Zanjan), Mark Pollard (University of Oxford), Frank Rühli (Universität Zürich) and Thomas Stöllner (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum & Ruhr Universität Bochum). The project comprises scholars and scientists from Iran, France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland.

 

It is a remarkable site and project.

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Move Over, Mexico: The Maya in Central America

Move Over, Mexico: The Maya in Central America | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

When most people think of the Maya, their minds jump immediately to Mexico, but this ancient civilization exerted profound influence throughout Central America.


As a native of El Salvador and an expert in Mesoamerican anthropology and archaeology for National Geographic, I’m here to take you on the ultimate cultural journey through the Maya of Central America — from places that were inhabited more than 10,000 years ago, to Maya cities built at the time of Christ, to modern towns that celebrate their ancient heritage in unexpected ways.


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Antiquity Vol 86:Did Neolithic farming fail? The case for a Bronze Age agricultural revolution in the British Isles

This paper rewrites the early history of Britain, showing that while the cultivation of cereals arrived there in about 4000 cal BC, it did not last. Between 3300 and 1500 BC Britons became largely pastoral, reverting only with a major upsurge of agricultural activity in the Middle Bronze Age.

 

This loss of interest in arable farming was accompanied by a decline in population, seen by the authors as having a climatic impetus. But they also point to this period as the time of construction of the great megalithic monuments, including Stonehenge. We are left wondering whether pastoralism was all that bad, and whether it was one intrusion after another that set the agenda on the island.

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Anna Sasaki's curator insight, March 26, 8:18 AM

Neolithic Agricultural Revolution has been hypothesized to never have happened. There is substantial proof that it has not happened, as well as proof showing otherwise. Arable farming has had it's popularity as well as unpopularity, but there is nothing to truly make a statement of, since it was so long ago; all that can remain are inferences based on factual evidence found.

This article shows the Neolithic Revolution and whether it has happened or not, since it gives evidence that it did not happen and pastoralism was the majority of life during this time period.

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Lucy's Flat Feet: The Relationship between the Ankle and Rearfoot Arching in Early Hominins

Lucy's Flat Feet: The Relationship between the Ankle and Rearfoot Arching in Early Hominins | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

PLOS ONE:

In the Plio-Pleistocene, the hominin foot evolved from a grasping appendage to a stiff, propulsive lever. Central to this transition was the development of the longitudinal arch, a structure that helps store elastic energy and stiffen the foot during bipedal locomotion. Direct evidence for arch evolution, however, has been somewhat elusive given the failure of soft-tissue to fossilize. Paleoanthropologists have relied on footprints and bony correlates of arch development, though little consensus has emerged as to when the arch evolved.

 

you have to love it, even if just for the title!

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BAJR GUIDE 32: ARCHAEOLOGICAL ILLUSTRATION – SMALL FINDS

This guide aims to serve as a meaningful introduction to the illustration of small finds, not solely as an academic discipline, but as a discipline operating within a commercial environment.
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Archaeology from the Interzone: Applications of the Burroughs-Gysin cut up method to problems in the Neolithic of Britain and Ireland

Archaeology from the Interzone: Applications of the Burroughs-Gysin cut up method to problems in the Neolithic of Britain and Ireland | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it

Just when I though I was 'becoming comfortable' with archaeological theory, I was asked by Stuart Rathbone to read an early draft of the paper you see below. Stuart is a field archaeologist of many years standing. He is co-author (with Victoria Ginn) of the rather wonderful book: Corrstown: A Coastal Community. Excavations of a Bronze Age village in Northern Ireland (reviewed here). He is also the central figure behind the Campaign For Sensible Archaeology, a clarion call for no-nonsense reporting and discussion in archaeology. In this paper, Stuart has stepped into a very different archaeological world: he advocates the use of the Burroughs-Gysin cut up technique as a method of gaining new and different insights into the archaeology of Neolithic Britain and Ireland. I will not pretend that this is an easy read - but it is rewarding. My initial fear was that it was a daft idea - definitely not 'sensible' - but his results are extraordinary. Whatever any reader thinks of the method, I feel that the results - these unlikely mergings and mashings of colliding sentences - brings forth something extraordinary: genuinely new insights into archaeology.

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PLOS ONE: Molar Macrowear Reveals Neanderthal Eco-Geographic Dietary Variation

PLOS ONE: Molar Macrowear Reveals Neanderthal Eco-Geographic Dietary Variation | Archaeology Articles and Books | Scoop.it
Neanderthal diets are reported to be based mainly on the consumption of large and medium sized herbivores, while the exploitation of other food types including plants has also been demonstrated. Though some studies conclude that early Homo sapiens were active hunters, the analyses of faunal assemblages, stone tool technologies and stable isotopic studies indicate that they exploited broader dietary resources than Neanderthals.

 

Whereas previous studies assume taxon-specific dietary specializations, we suggest here that the diet of both Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens is determined by ecological conditions. We analyzed molar wear patterns using occlusal fingerprint analysis derived from optical 3D topometry. Molar macrowear accumulates during the lifespan of an individual and thus reflects diet over long periods. Neanderthal and early Homo sapiens maxillary molar macrowear indicates strong eco-geographic dietary variation independent of taxonomic affinities.

 

Based on comparisons with modern hunter-gatherer populations with known diets, Neanderthals as well as early Homo sapiens show high dietary variability in Mediterranean evergreen habitats but a more restricted diet in upper latitude steppe/coniferous forest environments, suggesting a significant consumption of high protein meat resources.

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