ossamenta: Text only: That would be an ecumenical matter (Ecumenical matter)
Forgot these ones:

- Recently retired Professor of Archaeology at York and well-known zooarchaeologist Terry O'Connor posted useful advice for newbie zooarchaeologists. Read it well: there is much truth in it.

- Some supercool Danish finds include a deposit of c.2000 small gold spirals dated to the Bronze Age. They think the spirals were possibly part of clothing decoration. (Danish article)
And last year they found 5000 year old foot prints as they were excavating for the Femern Belt tunnel.

- Bone assemblages that probably represent waste from feasts are found now and again in archaeology. Organising elaborate feasts was not only a way to display wealth (you could afford to slaughter this many animals) but also to bring a community together. An unusual feasting assemblage has been found in Llanmaes, an Iron Age site in Wales. About 80% of all bones from livestock came from pig – in itself unusual – but most of the pig bones came from the right fore limb. Such patterns are very unusual, and the archaeologists think that the bones represent joints that were brought to a communal feast where each participant brought an equal (literally) share of the food.
ossamenta: Scientist clones dinosaur for T-rex steaks (Science)
There's so many things going on in my life now that I've been neglecting this blog a bit, and in particular letting the interesting links build up. I hope I can get rid of a fair few in this post.

- Author Nicola Griffith wrote an interesting post about elves, gender, Anglo-Saxon medical practice and how this was changed by Christianization.

- Another author (and historian), Kari Sperring did an half-hour talk at Exilicon on the real history of the three musketeers (video)

- A newly discovered velociraptor ancestor with feathers.

- In line with strange and mysterious ritual stuff, an Iron Age site in Dorset produced composite animals deposited in pits: A cow with horse legs, a sheep with an extra head at its bum etc. It will be very interesting to read the subsequent research and see what they can find out about Iron Age beliefs.

- Isotope research have revealed some very interesting things over the years, often upending our previous beliefs and assumptions. The newest thing that's come to my knowledge is a study of the famous Egtved girl in Denmark. She's one of the Bronze Age oak coffin burials that were excavated in the late 19th and early 20th century, where circumstances had managed preservation of organic remains, and they are subsequently our main source for Scandinavian Bronze Age clothing. Researchers took isotope samples from her teeth, hair, nails as well as from her clothing and found out that she wasn't Danish at all! (nor was her clothing) The isotope signatures point elsewhere, possibly what's now southeastern Germany (the geology is consistent with this, but more importantly (as this type of geology is found elsewhere) the archaeological record indicates a relationship between Denmark and this area during the Bronze Age). Correlating hair growth rate and several samples along one strand of hair, they also found that she had been going back and forth between Denmark and the other region (probably NW Germany) during her last two years in life. (A more detailed article in Danish)

- Of course, sometimes science makes things more boring. A DNA analysis of the hair tufts and hair cords found on the Norse settlement The Farm Beneath the Sand on Greenland changed the species identification from bear, bison and muskox (signifying trade with North America) to horse and goat (not signifying trade with North America).

- Neanderthal bone flutes were apparently made by hyenas, not Neanderthals.

- There's a new theory on why the wooly mammoth became extinct: osteoporosis may have "helped".

- The Paston Letters is one of the largest archives of 15th-century English private correspondence, comprising about 1000 letters and documents including petitions, leases, wills and even shopping lists. They offer a unique glimpse into the personal lives of three generations of the Paston family from Norfolk over a period of 70 years. A large part of the collection have now been scanned and put online at the British Library's website.

- If you are in New York, don't miss the Medieval rings exhibition at the Met museum.

- Pottery enthusiasts might like this intact wine vessel found in Early Medieval layers in the Danish town Ribe.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
A daughter of one of my colleagues went to Mexico and brought this back to her mother. Who thought it would suit me very well. And she was so right about that!
 photo Cat_skel_totebag_zps0c1d6df0.jpg


And in other news:

- First and foremost, the English Heritage guidelines to animal bone recording and analysis is out. "These guidelines aim to promote high professional standards in zooarchaeological practice in project planning, excavation, reporting and achiving. The guidance supports archaeology advisors, project managers, field staff and zooarchaeologists through outlining the potential of animal bones from archaeological sites, highlighting the importance of archaeological methods and promoting understanding of zooarchaeological reports and datasets." Highly useful and I recommend it even if you live and work elsewhere. Free to download, and there's a limited print-run for those of you who prefer paper.

- Neolithic carpentry discovered in Germany, namely a woodlined well, with advanced jointing. There's also an open access academic article for those of you who prefer to go into depth with this.

- A gorgeous bark shafted Bronze Age flint dagger was found in Denmark. Sadly the bark only remains on one side of the handle. I love it when you see the organic material. It's so rare that it survives, and without it we assume intellectually that of course they must have wrapped the handles with something, but to actually see it - then it really sinks into the brain. (article in Danish)

- Another Danish find: a Viking Age Thor's hammer with runes, declaring it to be a hammer. (article in Danish)

- A new Ph.D. thesis on Early Medieval ironworking: The Early Medieval Cutting Edge of Technology: An archaeometallurgical, technological and social study of the manufacture and use of Anglo-Saxon and Viking iron knives, and their contribution to the early medieval iron economy. I haven't read it yet, but it sounds very interesting.

- Earliest cave paintings (so far) discovered in Indonesia. 40,000 years old!!!!

- Irresistible title of academic article, Yes/No?
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
- Archaeologists have found a new trelleborg! (Danish article) These kinds of fortifications were all built in the 980s and have the same symmetrical design: circular rampart with four gates in each direction and roads between them crossing at a right angle in the middle. In each quarter there were four long houses around a central square. There are only five certain trelleborgs, as well as a couple of similar fortifications in Denmark and southern Sweden. I was lucky once, flying home, and we passed straight over the trelleborg outside Slagelse. It was so cool to see it from the air.

- A man in Norway found a Viking Age blacksmith burial in his garden! (More detailed Norwegian article)

- The perfect present for the nautically minded Viking Age enthusiast: Your very own custom built Viking ship replica As expected, it's a rather expensive present.

- Or perhaps you would prefer an anatomically correct armchair?

- In case you were morbidly curious: The grim details of Richard III's death

- And if you want to know more about human osteology, human evolution, paleopathology, forensic archaeology etc, the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) have created a forum for both members and members of the public to join and discuss things to your hearts content.

- Extinct humans passed high altitude gene to Tibetans
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
In about two weeks time I'm off to London for the Postgraduate Zooarchaeology Forum's conference. Since I'm neither a postgrad nor a PhD student I won't give a talk, but instead I will sit and listen to several interesting talks and take copious amounts of notes. It will be such fun!


- A new Viking Age female figurine has been found! Just as with the 2012 find of the figurine with sword and shield, there are lots of dress details which I'm sure will delight any authenticity minded Viking Age re-enactors.

- Keeping in the small figurine theme: A 13th century Limoges enamel Madonna found buried under Danish church floor.

- If you ever wondered where a penguin's knees are, look no further.

- The Walbrook Discovery Programme has a blog post up on animal remains from Roman butchery.

- "Let's just say an unbearable smell was emitted" - how to reduce a blue whale to a pile of bones. I'm so impressed at the size of those vertebrae! Although I'm glad I wasn't there in person, and that internet doesn't (yet) do smell-o-vision...

- One of the advantages of a British Museum membership is tickets to members' lectures. Luckily for us who a) aren't members or b) couldn't go, Mary Beard's Pompeii lecture is now online. Thanks BM!
ossamenta: Scientist clones dinosaur for T-rex steaks (Science)
I have to take a break from the big rural Roman site, since there are a few smaller sites with urgent deadlines that have to go first. In one way, it's nice to have a bit of a break, think about other time periods and regions, having to write and not just record. But on the other hand it would be nice just to get on with it, and finish one site before starting another. But that's commercial archaeology for you.


I was linked to this, and found Trowelblazers - a site about female archaeologists at the beginning of the 20th century.
"Why hadn't I heard of these women? Not the individual names -- I can barely name any male archaeologists from that period -- but the idea of these women, working in such numbers and even leading their fields. It was as though we'd blithely wiped them all from our popular imaginations, and thus allowed each woman to be easily dismissed [...] as an exception-to-the-masculine- rule.

Martin Rundqvist posted about a really interesting site dug by our colleagues in Salisbury: 800 years of human sacrifice in Kent. Isotope analyses show that some of the dead people grew up in Scandinavia, some in the Mediterranean, and some were local. The researchers think that the sacrificed people could have been slaves, raided from various places in Europe, ending up in Kent. Perhaps the people with local isotope signatures were children of slaves who originally came from elsewhere?

Katy Meyers at Bones don't lie posted about another isotope project. This time it's an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Bamburgh, in northern England, where they found a great variation of isotope signatures among the population. The researchers argue that this settlement may have been connected to a religious community, where people could have come from all over Christian Europe for pilgrimage or for settling into the community.

The ultimate memento mori, a great idea for Halloween, or just plain fun for the bone mad among us? A Dutch artist 3D prints his own skeleton. I can see so many possibilities with this :-) .
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
I think I will remember 2012 for two things: the huge EEK report and going to conferences. Admittedly, I will do some work on EEK in 2013 when I get my report back with comments, but most of the work was done this year. Hopefully next year will bring slightly smaller assemblages (it's always nice when everything can fit into one office so you don't have to request van+driver if you need to get hold of some bones for re-checking stuff). I went to two conferences this year: The big EAA conference in Helsinki and a small craft conference in London. Both were very stimulating and once I get back to Oxford after the holidays I will take some time to work on my Ph.D. proposal, testing the waters in Germany/Denmark/The Netherlands.


And while I'm at it, I might just as well go through and delete some bookmarked links I thought would make for interesting reading:

- A different way of doing faunal history: Scientists use wormholes in old books to see the geographical and chronological spread of two furniture beetles.

- Coffin birth - how it happens and why. This is not only relevant for human osteologists, as we occasionally find animal burials containing an adult animal with associated foetal remains. Did the animal die while giving birth, before, or after? Or are the adult and foetus/newborn not related at all?

- A long account, but one very much worth reading, of the identification and eradication of kuru, the "laughing death" disease connected to the eating of human remains. And kuru is not the only disease that's gone, last year the livestock disease rinderpest was officially declared eradicated.

- Two very interesting posts on methods for interdisciplinary research (part 1, part 2), which I feel I need to read much closer as it has huge relevance for my Ph.D. proposal. Unfortunately, one cannot know everything, and knowing when to stop trying to learn things oneself and going asking experts is tremendously important. However, one also needs to know a fair amount of the "other subject" in order to ask the right questions.

- And finally, something for the bone-minded knitters among you :-) .

Misc. links

Jul. 4th, 2012 07:21 pm
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
I have re-surfaced after a really fun dance weekend, and while I am still very tired and have sore feet (it was so worth it!), there's no rest for the wicked (nor for anyone else either), as the big EEK project continues. Luckily I have been given an extended deadline, which was very welcome. I'm still in the recording stage, so I can't tell you if there's anything very interesting there, as these things usually first show up when you start number crunching.

But I've seen some interesting stuff online:

- Medieval horse harness with lots of bling found in Ireland. I'd love to see it in person, or, better yet, a reconstruction so you can see how shiny it would have been when it was in use.

- Excavations in northern Germany seem to have found the remains of Sliasthorp, a town connected to the Norse elite of the area. Sliasthorp lies near the trading centre Haithabu/Hedeby, similar to the situation of Adelsö and Birka in Sweden (possibly Uppåkra and Lund as well, although Lund was founded much later). This suggests that the founding of these trading places may have been directly associated with the elite rather than with traders. The trading places would also have been under control of the elite.

- And if you're interested in Flemish archaeology, Onroerend Erfgoed (the Flemish equivalent of English Heritage) has put up several of their publications online, which you can both search and browse. There is no English version of the site, but it seems fairly straightforward.

- The knitted 16th century cap collection of the Museum of London is now online. 73 caps, coifs, cap fragments, linings and earpieces have been photographed, with captions containing contextual and technical information. To browse the caps, please go to the Collections Online and enter ‘cap’ in the Keyword field with the date range 1500-1600 in the search fields.

- The seventh conference on experimental archaeology will take place in january 2013 at the University of Cardiff, Wales. Papers on any any topic related to experimental archaeology are welcome, but those that touch on the relationship between experimental and experiential* approaches are particularly welcome.The deadline for papers is July, although the webpage doesn't state if it's the first of the month or the end of the month. Hopefully the latter.

*: An experiment can be repeated by the same researcher or others. Experiential archaeology is about the experience, for example building an Iron Age house and live in it to see how the construction worked in practice. What most of the re-enactment community call experimental archaeology is in fact experiential.

- And a very interesting post from Bones don't lie discusses new research on using stable isotopes for sexing human remains. While there is an overlap in the ratios of iron isotopes between males and females, the overlap was not greater than a normal sex determination using the pelvis. Only one French assemblage was used for the study, and obviously more research is needed to see what the results are for other regions.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Still no news on the Uppsala Ph.D. Well, it’s only been two weeks, so if they got many applications they may not yet have made their decision on who to call for interview. Other than that, work continues as usual. The winter meeting of the Professional Zooarchaeology Group is next Saturday, so you can expect a post on that later.

- The National Antiquities Board in Sweden has digitalised the entire series of Sveriges runinskrifter (Runic inscriptions in Sweden). All files are large pdfs, so if you’re on a slow connection, beware. And I guess I don't have to warn that they are in Swedish, right?

- An international conference on use-wear analysis is taking place 10-12 October in Faro, Portugal. This announcement was planned for an earlier post, as the deadline for submission of papers and posters was 30th January… But bookmark the site if the subject appeals to you. I haven’t had much contact with use-wear studies since my uni days, as it’s not a common thing in commercial archaeology. Essentially, for you non-archaeologists, use-wear studies analyses the wear traces different materials leave on various archaeological objects. For example flint knives used to cut grass have different polish than ones used to cut antler. I really look forward to the publication of the preliminary program (30th June). There may be studies of relevance to my interests! There was one talk at the ICAZ worked bone research group meeting in 2003 on use-wear on hide working tools (the talks were published as From hooves to horn 2005.), and maybe someone is still doing studies on this.

- There’s a very interesting post up on Bones don’t lie on
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Work has been intense lately, but soon I'm off home for a week's relaxing, sewing (for a steampunk Halloween event), testing a couple of new cookie recipes, and meeting friends. I can't wait!

But first, a couple of quick links:

- “An Atlas of Medieval Combs from Northern Europe” by Steve Ashby. Published online on the open access journal Internet Archaeology.
Summary: As an aid to understanding chronology, economics, identity and culture contact, the early medieval bone/antler hair-comb is an under-exploited resource, despite the existence of an extensive literature borne out of a long-standing tradition of empirical research. Such research has been undertaken according to diverse traditions, is scattered amongst site reports and grey literature, regional, national, and international journals, and is published in a number of different languages.
The present article provides a general synthesis of this data, together with the author's personal research, situated within a broad view of chronology and geography. It presents the author's classification of early medieval composite combs, and applies this in a review of comb typology in space and time. It makes use of recently excavated material from little-known and unpublished sites, as well as the classic studies of familiar towns and 'emporia'. The atlas is intended for use as a reference piece that may be accessed according to need, and read in a non-linear fashion. Thus, it may act as a first port-of-call for scholars researching the material culture of a particular spatio-temporal context, while simultaneously facilitating rapid characterisation of freshly excavated finds material. It should provide a useful complement to recent and ongoing question-oriented research on combs.

- The UK based Medieval Dress and Textile Society (MEDSAT) has their autumn meeting Saturday 22nd October in the British Museum, London. I would have loved to go, as the theme of this meeting is "Reconstruction, Living History, Re-enactment" (programme). There are some interesting talks, and some interesting people - of any of you readers go, please let me know how it went.

- Keeping in the textile theme, the Smithsonian has developed a less destructive technique to date silk items, using the natural deterioration of silk’s amino acids to determine its age by calculating that change over time (a process known as racemization). Only a tiny millimeter-size sample is required, takes 20 minutes, and consumes only nanoliters of the amino acid mixture. The process is accurate within 50 to 100 years of the silk’s creation. How awesome is that! Even if it's not possible to do exact dating (for the Medieval and Post-medieval periods checking changes in fashion may be a better option), the small amount of silk needed makes it a far better dating method than radiocarbon.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Naturally, the days when something exciting breaks the news, are days when I for various reasons or other can't post. Some of you may already have heard about these things, but hopefully for others it might be new and exciting:

- the National Antiquity Board in Sweden has received money to digitalize the multi-volume series Sveriges runinskrifter (Sweden's rune inscriptions). At the end of 2011 the first version of searchable pdfs will go online. Future plans include an interactive platform called e-runic, from where you will be able so search other sources for runes. (Swedish article).

- The awesome highstatus early Medieval site Uppåkra, in southern Sweden, just outside Lund, is known for really cool finds. At the end of this year's excavations they found a 8th century mount, depicting a winged man. As far as I know it's unique. Current theories are that it could be Weyland Smith as he escapes king Nidhad wearing the wings of birds, or a depiction of a man with Freya's magic falcon cloak. (Aardvarchaeology has two close-up images). (Site diary - in Swedish)

- If you're into the Palaeolithic or Mesolithic, you might want to make sure that you have 24-25th March free, when Durham University (UK) organizes the conference Where The Wild Things Are: Recent Advances in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Research. Topics include Tools & Technology, Landscapes & Environments, Subsistence & Animals, and Ritual & Society. Abstract submission deadline is 17th December.
ossamenta: Fossil of a pterosaur (Rhamphorhyncus longicaudus). (Flygödlefossil)
Blogposts with links are often called linkspam, but personally, I think that's the wrong word. Spam is something I don't want, whereas interesting links will brighten up my day. Therefore, I will call these posts linksoup, since soup is delicious! :-)


I found an interesting blog today: Powered by osteons, written by a human bone specialist in Italy. Lots of Roman posts, but also a great variety of interesting stuff, such as the use of sulphur isotope analysis to research fish consumption and the age of weaning.

Contagions is a more specialised blog, about historic infectious disease. I had only time to poke around a bit, but found posts on trench fever and the black death. As some of you probably already have heard, dna from Yersinia pestis has been extracted from several skeletons from a plague pit in London, thus confirming that Yersinia was (at least one of) the bacteria that wrecked havoc in Europe in the mid-14th century. (More info, and some background to the debate)


Yersinia pestis: Isn't she cute!


On a Mesolithic site in Sweden, archaeologists have found human skulls on stakes, placed in a shallow lake near the settlement. For once, the use of "ritual" doesn't seem far-fetched. I can't wait to read the report on this site. The Mesolithic has a special place in my heart, ever since I studied prehistoric archaeology in Lund. So many rich sites in Scania and Denmark, with not only bone and antler but also wood. On the other hand, Mesolithic sites that only yield flint scatters, as is the case in most of Britain, is rather boring.
(More detailed information on the site and ceremonial deposit in the site blog - only in Swedish, though)

Going even further back in time, dinosaur feathers have been found in amber! Unfortunately I didn't see any when I was on the lookout for nice amber in Gdansk.

For those of you who are based near London, or a planning a winter visit, the new exhibition
Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination will be at the British Library from 11 November-13 March.

And don't forget to put a note in the calendar for 2013: a big Viking exhibition at the National Museum in Denmark (Copenhagen), the Museum für Vor- und Frügeschichte (Berlin) and the British Museum (London). The National Museum in Denmark has a blog on the ongoing work with creating the exhibition (Danish only).

Keeping on the historical side, I must recommend Reel history: a blog series on the accuracy on various historical movies. On a related note, the fabulous Isis* wrote a post on how the present fashion is reflected in historical movies.

*: I adore 18th century fashion (the movie Dangerous Liasons, anyone?) and someday I will get around to make a 18th century outfit.


Various useful sources I found online:
- Abstracts from the 15th meeting of the ICAZ fish remains working group in 2009 (pdf)
- London lives 1690-1800: crime, poverty and social policy in the metropolis. Digitised and searchable primary sources focussing on middle and lower class Londoners. The sources include over 240,000 manuscript and printed pages from eight London archives and is supplemented by fifteen datasets created by other projects.
- A ph.d. thesis which is right in my interest sphere: Marianne Erath, Studien zum mitelalterlichen Knochenschnitzerhandwerk : die Entwicklung eines spezialiserten Handwerks in Konstanz (Studies on Medieval craft of bone-turners: development of a specialised handcraft in Konstanz) (pdf)
- My colleague Jessica Grimm's thesis Animal keeping and the use of animal products in medieval Emden (Lower Saxony, Germany).
- Another interesting ph.d. - on medieval textiles and fashion rather than bone: Eva I. Andersson (2006) Kläderna och människan i medeltidens Sverige och Norge (Clothing and the individual in Medieval Sweden and Norway) (pdf)
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Hello readers! It's been a while - sorry about that. I'm back in the office again, after a (too) short holiday in Sweden last weekend to go to a friend's wedding. I have plans for a pathology post, but meanwhile, have some links:

- Quite a detailed article on the 18th century ship found underneath the World Trade Center site in New York.

- More marine archaeology: my former site director dives in the remains of a submerged Mesolithic forest in the Baltic Sea.

- And a huge Mesolithic house in Finland.

- I find many interesting osteology finds posted online as appetite whetters for tv-shows. I rarely watch tv, and prefer to read about these things instead, mostly since articles are geared towards specialists and will include all the interesting details and 'however's, whereas tv will take take three times as long to get to the point and then often focus on the most exciting bit and present that as Truth (tm). These links are a bit old, but hopefully that means that I can go article hunting soon: Sailors' skeletons from Nelson's navy and a slideshow of pictures of the gladiator skeletons from York, including a picture of the guy who had been bitten by a large predator. I clearly need to see more lion/bear damaged bones as it certainly wasn't obvious to me.

- Admittedly, this one was posted on April 1, but it seems rather interesting: evidence of gluten intolerance in a Roman skeleton. I haven't heard anything about this elsewhere, so can anyone confirm this?

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ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
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