March32014

Mass Grave Shows Evidence of Ancient Cholera Outbreak

archaeologicalnews:

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A three-year-old excavation at the graveyard of the Abbey of St. Peter in Lucca, Italy, is yielding something more than archaeologists initially expected, and they’re not just talking about bones and other grave features and artifacts. While excavating, they stumbled upon a mass grave of human remains that contain evidence of an ancient cholera outbreak.

Led by Giuseppe Vercellotti and Clark Larson from Ohio State University and Hendrik Poinar from McMaster University, the researchers at the site have collected samples of ancient DNA from both humans and bacteria, hoping to find answers to questions about how past epidemics, such as the bubonic plague, developed, spread and devastated historic human populations in Europe. Read more.

This was the dig that I actually participated in the summer of 2013. Dr. Vercellotti believes the remains are from a cholera outbreak due to the presence of lime lining the burial pits, which was believed at the time to prevent the disease from spreading. I regrettably did not have much exposure to the remains, however my team did uncover the remaining walls of the medieval monastery cloister (which the locals were more excited about than the human remains, so there!)

If you are interested in more information, check out the article written about the site in science magazine, written by Ann Gibbons, a lovely person who stayed with us for a week.

You can also view more pictures of the site and the human remains here (the site is in Italian) 

September52013
Badger digs up medieval tombs in GermanyA badger has outfoxed archeologists, digging up two “significant” 12th-century tombs of two Slavic lords in Germany, reports Spiegel Online.

Badger digs up medieval tombs in Germany

A badger has outfoxed archeologists, digging up two “significant” 12th-century tombs of two Slavic lords in Germany, reports Spiegel Online.

August92013
The day before death: A new archaeological technique gives insight into the day before death
“The day before the child’s death was not a pleasant one, because it was not a sudden injury that killed the 10-13 year old child who was buried in the medieval town of Ribe in Denmark 800 years ago. The day before death was full of suffering because the child had been given a large dose of mercury in an attempt to cure a severe illness…”

The day before death: A new archaeological technique gives insight into the day before death

The day before the child’s death was not a pleasant one, because it was not a sudden injury that killed the 10-13 year old child who was buried in the medieval town of Ribe in Denmark 800 years ago. The day before death was full of suffering because the child had been given a large dose of mercury in an attempt to cure a severe illness…”

August62013

marchegian:

This overgrown Roman amphitheater below the little hilltop town of Urbisaglia is actually the lesser known brother of the Colosseum in Rome, since its construction was funded by the same money. Now that I have been to both Uribisaglia’s amphitheater and the Colosseum, I can definitely say that I much prefer Urbisaglia. It was a much more organic and pleasant experience.

These were my pictures from my study abroad trip this summer.  If any of you are looking for a non-touristy, up close and personal tour of ancient roman ruins, I definitely recommend Urbisaglia in Marche, Italy (Ask for Leonardo as your guide. He made the experience even better.)

May132013
The Lady of Elche is beautiful stone bust of a woman that may have been used as a reliquary urn. It was discovered by a farmer in 1897 in near Valencia, Spain. She is now on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain in Madrid.   Believed to be dated to the 5th century BCE, the Lady of Elche is the symbol of Pre-Roman Iberian Archaeology.  Her face is found on virtually all Iberian prehistory textbook covers, and even on stuff as ordinary as postage stamps and banknotes.  Ironically, this iconic bust actually might be a forgery. Experts who believe this have given the following arguments:
The Lady of Elche is the only one of its kind that is in the form of a bust.  All other Iberian statues from this time period, such as the Lady of Baza, are full bodied. 
The amount of detail, particularly on the face and round headpieces are extraordinarily detailed compared to other Iberian statues with similar headdresses. Experts have found more similarities between the Lady of Elche and art nouveau/belle epoque aesthetics (which was popular at the time of discovery)  than with other Pre-Roman Iberian statues.
The archaeological context of the bust is extremely lacking and shady. The reports have stated that the statue was found buried in loosely packed dirt, easily able to be buried and dug up. Coincidentally, the discovery of the Lady of Elche coincided with the arrival of Pierre Paris, an art collector from the Louvre, in Valencia, who purchased the statue for the Louvre collection days after the discovery. 
Whether the Lady of Elche is a fake or not is still a mystery to this day, But her shady past has not stopped millions of tourists from flooding into Madrid every year to catch a glimpse of her.

The Lady of Elche is beautiful stone bust of a woman that may have been used as a reliquary urn. It was discovered by a farmer in 1897 in near Valencia, Spain. She is now on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain in Madrid.   
Believed to be dated to the 5th century BCE, the Lady of Elche is the symbol of Pre-Roman Iberian Archaeology.  Her face is found on virtually all Iberian prehistory textbook covers, and even on stuff as ordinary as postage stamps and banknotes.  Ironically, this iconic bust actually might be a forgery. Experts who believe this have given the following arguments:

  • The Lady of Elche is the only one of its kind that is in the form of a bust.  All other Iberian statues from this time period, such as the Lady of Baza, are full bodied. 
  • The amount of detail, particularly on the face and round headpieces are extraordinarily detailed compared to other Iberian statues with similar headdresses. Experts have found more similarities between the Lady of Elche and art nouveau/belle epoque aesthetics (which was popular at the time of discovery)  than with other Pre-Roman Iberian statues.
  • The archaeological context of the bust is extremely lacking and shady. The reports have stated that the statue was found buried in loosely packed dirt, easily able to be buried and dug up. Coincidentally, the discovery of the Lady of Elche coincided with the arrival of Pierre Paris, an art collector from the Louvre, in Valencia, who purchased the statue for the Louvre collection days after the discovery. 

Whether the Lady of Elche is a fake or not is still a mystery to this day, But her shady past has not stopped millions of tourists from flooding into Madrid every year to catch a glimpse of her.

March292013
March212013

New Mod!

Hello everyone,

My name is Amanda (known to the tumblr world as illuminati-bullshit), and I’m the new mod at Fuck Yeah Archaeology!  I guess I’ll talk a bit about myself. I’m currently studying Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology as an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College. Like many people, my interest in archaeology began as a kid with picture books about Ancient Egyptian mummies. If fact, as a kid I made it one of my goals to be one of those fancy archaeologists that were interviewed on History Channel specials (though the History Channel isn’t so credible nowadays so not sure I still want that.)

The areas I’m mostly interested in are Ancient Egypt and Rome, but recently I have taken a keen interest in Iberian, American, and Medieval archaeology. So I have a wide variety of areas and time periods that I like and it’s going to be difficult to choose what I want to specialize in.

 I hope to go into museum work someday. I have interned in the Near Eastern Department at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. So if anyone has a question in reference to museum work, PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask! Also this summer I’m going to be in Tuscany excavating an ruined medieval monastery called L’Abbazia Camaldolese di San Pietro.  It’s going to be my first excavation so I’m super excited!

I’m really excited to be a mod for this blog, and I hope to hear from you all soon! 

Amanda

12AM

sitting-upon-a-snake said: I'm a freshman in high school, and thinking about being an archaeologist once I grow up. What sort of advice would you give?

Hello! 

I think I was also a freshman in high school when I decided that archaeology was ultimately the field I wanted to go into. Luckily, my Latin teacher was an archaeologist, so I asked him a lot of questions. If you have anyone like that who you can talk to, even an acquaintance, I’d recommend you do that. Try to gain as many perspectives as possible!

I contacted the Connecticut State Archaeologist (yep, that’s actually a thing!) and arranged to go to UConn’s campus over my spring break to volunteer. I’d try contacting your state’s archaeologist and ask a few questions. Since Connecticut is pretty tiny, I was able to go to the office myself, but if you live in a bigger state, that my not be possible. He even let me tag along on a CRM (Cultural Resource Management) dig. CRM is a huge facet of archaeology nowadays. A house was being built near a known Rochambeau campsite from the Revolutionary War, so we had to dig a bunch of test pits to make sure the house wasn’t being built on anything important. Unless those soldiers were drinking Buds, it turned out to be a bust.

A lot of times, it’ll be a bust. Don’t go into it thinking that you’re gonna find the Holy Grail or something. When I excavated last summer at a Mycenaean settlement in Greece, the most exciting find was a lead joint that would’ve held an ancient pottery break together. Other than that, it was just a lot of pot sherds and animal bones. Oh, and a huge (and disgusting) swarm of giant ants that had taken up residence in a buried pot. If you go into the field of archaeology with this fantasy built up in your head, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But don’t be discouraged!

Archaeology isn’t glamourous, but it is fulfilling. There are so many facets to the field that you could pursue. Start looking now! Do you think you’d be more into marine archaeology, Classical, Near Eastern, or American? There’s also palaeobotany, zooarchaeology/bioarchaeology, geoarchaeology, and tons more! Of course, there’s also the possibility of doing museum and professorial work instead of fieldwork, if you realise that’s not your thing. One of my professors absolutely abhorred fieldwork, so she teaches instead. So I’d recommend reading up on different fields and looking for colleges that’ll be a good fit. Personally, I wanted to go to a school with its own archaeology major, as opposed to one where archaeology was merely attached to anthropology. But don’t rush it! You’ll have plenty of time to worry about college later.

I’m about to start worrying about grad school next year, so that’s a whole new can of worms. Take all the time you need to research your options! Youth is definitely on your side. 

And to all of you other aspiring archaeologists: this advice totally applies to you, too. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

Happy digging,

Sasha

March82013

lenofi:

Entrance to Newgrange (Co. Meath, Ireland), a Neolithic passage tomb

The window above the door to the passage allows a shaft of light to illuminate a carving deep within the inner chamber on one day a year for approximately 17 minutes. This is possible due to the alignment of the entire structure and the gentle slope of the passage, ensuring the light enters above a visitor’s head, but upon reaching the inside of the corbelled chamber is near the floor.

A follow-up to the Newgrange post the other day. Photos taken Summer 2008.

February212013
Treasure-filled warrior’s grave found in Russia
“Hidden in a necropolis situated high in the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia, researchers have discovered the grave of a male warrior laid to rest with gold jewelry, iron chain mail and numerous weapons, including a 36-inch iron sword set between his legs.”

Treasure-filled warrior’s grave found in Russia

Hidden in a necropolis situated high in the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia, researchers have discovered the grave of a male warrior laid to rest with gold jewelry, iron chain mail and numerous weapons, including a 36-inch iron sword set between his legs.”

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