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.

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: Scientist clones dinosaur for T-rex steaks (Science)
I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. Not much blog-worthy has happened here, though, so you've hardly missed much. That said, I've seen a couple of interesting research news in the last few days/weeks that I thought I'd share:

1632 is a well-known date in Swedish history. A Thirty Years' War battle in Lützen, in present-day Germany, mostly known for peasoup fog ("Lützendimma" in Swedish) and the death of the Swedish king, Gustaf II Adolf. A German research team has started to excavate one of the mass graves and hopefully they will get some interesting results from the analysis. As is common today, they will do isotope analysis to see if they can see where the soldiers came from. Not only were Swedes and Germans (or people from what later would become Germany) present, but both sides had hired mercenaries. The article talked about the placement of the bodies in the grave ("They were, at least, carefully laid to rest. The bodies were gathered from the battlefield and placed in a grave next to the street, arranged in two rows with their legs facing each other."), but looking at the pictures in the photo gallery, some men are lying face-down! I wonder if that was a common phenomenon (getting smelly? not caring that much for strangers/soldiers), or for some reason or other these persons either had the most horrible face wounds or the people burying them (probably civilians from Lützen) wanted to shame them after death.

And thanks to Katrin Kania (A stitch in time), I found an interesting study on the use of medieval prayerbooks - by using wear patterns from residual oil and dirt left by the readers' fingers! Which texts were mostly read? How were the books held? Modern science is so cool! (even when it doesn't involve cloning dinosaurs for T.rex burgers)
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Yesterday I found the bone of the week. A sheep (or possibly goat, but considering the lack of goats in the assemblage and the presence of several sheep bones, most likely sheep) pelvis that had been fractured across the ischium and pubis*. Unfortunately the rest of the ischium and the pubis couldn't be found in the assemblage. The bone had not healed, but pathological changes show that the animal had survived and lived for several months (?) before it died. I was quite surprised, since this major trauma would have caused a significant limp, which must have been obvious to the sheep herder/owner.

*: For the uninitiated, the pelvis consists of three bones, the ilium (the shaft which attaches to the sacrum), the ischium (to the rear) and the pubis (to the front) which all meet at the hip socket (acetabulum). Well, technically, the pelvis is the sacrum and the two innominate halves, but I'm being lazy here...

Pictures below cut )
ossamenta: Fossil of a pterosaur (Rhamphorhyncus longicaudus). (Flygödlefossil)
Do you like fallow deer? Do you want to do a Ph.D.? The Fallow deer project (Fallow Deer and European Society, 6000 BC - AD 1600) wants you!
"The doctoral research will explore the cultural significance of European fallow deer (D. d. dama), their impact on ideological landscapes and their role in cosmologies throughout Europe from the Neolithic to the Post-Medieval period. Issues to be addressed will include how status, gender and religious and cultural beliefs are reflected in fallow deer images and material culture. This will involve extensive research of iconographic representations of fallow deer, their display in material culture and the artefacts deriving from their remains. The doctoral thesis will not involve a zooarchaeological examination of fallow deer remains from archaeological deposits, as this research is being carried out by other members of the project team. Therefore an archaeological background is not a prerequisite." Full job ad.


- Jurassic detective work: fish accidentally snags pterosaur, and both die


- Excavations in Manchester's notorious 19th century slum, described as ‘hell on earth’ by the social reformer Friedrich Engels because of the shocking living conditions.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
After much irritation due to a probably collision with online forms and office firewall, and last minute editing (I need this reference - oops, it's in the office), the Ph.D. application is handed in. I ought to work on the leg warmers tonight, to get the pattern finished so I can start on the left one. However, my brain has already decided that this will be a relaxing evening, with takeaway and a good book.

One of my favourite authors, [livejournal.com profile] jo_graham has a new book out later this year and Michelle Moran, who apparently is a big historical fiction writer in the US, is going to blurb it. And since the idea of blurbing is to get fans of the blurber to buy the book, I figure this could go in the other direction too. So now I have a book on Madame Tussaud (the one of waxwork fame) in my bag. Since Graham's book also takes place during the French revolution and Directoriat, it will be interesting to compare them.
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?
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
A while ago, someone thought it would be nice to get tips about interesting communities and journals on DreamWidth, and created [community profile] followfriday: Here's the plan: every Friday, let's recommend some people and/or communities to follow on Dreamwidth.

This was how I found [community profile] archaeology_weekly. It's rather new, but can hopefully bring me (and you) interesting stuff to read. For example the Shakespeare dig in Stratford-upon-Avon, where they are excavating parts of the kitchen garden of the house where William Shakespeare lived during the last 19 years of his life. My employer tendered for this dig, but unfortunately for us Birmingham Archaeology got the contract. It would have been so awesome to root through the Shakespeare household's trash! Well, realistically you probably wouldn't be able to pinpoint the pits and layers to those specific years, but rather date them to the late 16th/early 17th century at best. This is the problem with Medieval and Post-medieval archaeology: so many interesting bits of information from the written sources, and so little possibility to actually connect the feature fills to a specific decade.

If you have the opportunity, go and have a look at the excavation. According to the press release, the dig will end in early September, so you don't have to rush to get there. Stratford-upon-Avon itself is a bit infested by tourists in the centre (well, no wonder), but it's a nice little town, and if you can get tickets to one of the Royal Shakespeare Company's plays, so much the better! I've seen their The Tempest (with Patrick Stewart as Prospero), King Lear (Ian McKellen as Lear) and Hamlet (Patrick Stewart (again) as Claudius and David Tennant as Hamlet) and it was worth the price and the wait - the ticket release date was almost a year before the plays opened!
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
To the benefit of those not reading the Swedish archaeology blog Ting och tankar, here's a link to a brand new Ph.D. thesis in archaeology, on Scandinavian burial customs during the Medieval and Post-medieval periods. It looks very interesting, and I hope to be able to have a look at it at the Lund university library when I am home over Christmas and New Year's.

Abstract excerpt: The main themes of the thesis are burial customs and social identities, and how medieval and post-Reformation graves can provide information on such as age structures, phases in life, gender relations and social organization. The study is based on nine groups of Scandinavian material, and it comprises four case studies. The first one deals with social zoning in medieval cemeteries and how age and gender structures varied within and between different social strata. The second concerns ‘atypical’ medieval burials, such as graves in which individuals have been buried in a deviant or peripheral position; and it also focusses on burials of the sick and the impaired. The third case study examines two mainly medieval burial practices: the use of charcoal and burial rods, and possible interpretations of their inclusion in graves. The fourth study deals with post-Reformation burial customs; how they differ from the medieval ones and what notions may have caused the changes in practice.


The Times had an interesting article today about burials of liberated slaves on St Helena, in the middle of the Atlantic. The cemetery was found during excavations for a new road to a planned airport, and approximately 325 inhumations have been excavated. Apart from the regular osteological analysis, isotope analysis are planned on the remains, to see where in Africa these individuals came from. After the analysis has been completed in May, the findings will be published by the Council for British Archaeology.

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ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
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