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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Archaeology is More than Dirt and Lecturing

Posted On Sunday, August 18, 2013 by Lauren Axelrod | 3 comments

Greetings Ancient Diggers from the catacombs of my new office as an Academic Coordinator. Needless to say, I have not been abreast to the latest findings in the archaeological world, as I'm digging through these old, ancient storage units, which I just can't find the words for. They hold these bizarre looking green folders, and they contain these cryptographic seals.
That's right! I'm in the coveted office of the Coordinator. The one that waves her wand and kids flock to forced study where evil scientists wield their powers, and kids grunt in protest. It's education, and I love it!

This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding years of my entire life. Even though I have an anthropology background, I'm amazed at how it can translate to so many other areas of research. One minute you're digging in the dirt, and the next, you're lecturing to a class of second language learners who eat and drink their new language.

Over the past few months I've spoken with many hopeful archaeologists and anthropologists students hoping to break into the field after college. In my case, I headed out of the dirt and into the classroom, and I haven't looked back, but for some you, teaching isn't an option. There nothing wrong with that. Just don't allow someone, a mentor, parent, or even another professor, to steer you down a path that you can't envision on your own.

This reminds me of that line in Indiana Jones when Harrison Ford says, "You can't be a good archaeologists unless you get out of the library". In this case, it's the classroom, yet every archaeologist teaching classes will say the same thing. It's great going out there and getting your hands dirty, but when it comes to cleaning up, i.e. reports and archiving, it's a plain drag.

This doesn't mean you have to spend your life with dirt under your fingernails hoping you never have to complete those reports yourself. It also doesn't mean that you can't still enjoy the feel of ancient dirt around your toes as you brush away the grains of sand from a ceramic.

The outlook is nowhere near as grim as people believe, because in order to really understand history, you have to teach it to others. This doesn't always mean lecturing. How many of you have visited a local museum and read the information plaque? How many hands up? Now how many of you said to yourself, "I never knew that"? This means you learned something, and why? Someone back in the dark trenches of the museum wrote those words for you after researching the topic in the field for years. It's just their way of communicating to you.

Look outside yourself and be creative, because our field is in dier need of innovation and creativity. The next archaeological genious could be you!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Searching for a lost Visigothic city

Posted On Friday, June 28, 2013 by Lauren Axelrod | 0 comments

It doesn't have a name yet, but there is a search party out looking for it. It is the city that produced the 1,500 bodies found in the Visigothic necropolis of Vicálvaro, which the Madrid government has earmarked for destruction because it has "no relevance." The remains are thought to date back to between the fifth and eighth centuries AD.

Over this early burial site on an enormous dry plain, right next to the highway to Valencia, the Madrid government is planning to build a total of 15,400 housing units.

But before construction begins, regional authorities have granted permission to look for further traces of the people who once dwelled in these parts.

And while scholars search for the missing Visigothic city, its cemetery continues to deteriorate. On this three-hectare lot, most of the 824 graves are covered with brush and poppies. Just half-a-dozen of them, the ones furthest from the road, still preserve their Visigothic marks - smooth flat stones that delineate their perimeter. There are also a few bones, millstones and other types of stones piled up beside the graves. The burial site is located on a stretch of whitish limestone that gave rise to the former name of Vicálvaro, Vicus Albus (white village).

[Read More: El Pais]

Thursday, June 6, 2013

40 Years of Discovery: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA

Posted On Thursday, June 06, 2013 by Lauren Axelrod | 0 comments

From humble beginnings in 1973, the Institute has grown to one of the world's largest consortia of working archaeologists, including some 30 UCLA professors from 11 different disciplines who work alongside roughly 60 research associates affiliated with nearby colleges and universities.

In 1998, Lloyd Cotsen, a successful businessman who had fallen in love with Greek archaeology as a graduate student in the 1950s, endowed the institute with a $7 million gift.

An additional $10 million gift pledged in 2006 by Cotsen gave the institute the largest de facto endowment in the world for the study of archaeology.

In its latest survey, the prestigious National Research Council ranked the Cotsen's affiliated Archaeology Program first in the nation among doctoral programs in the field.

Learn more about the Cotsen Institute and its achievements: http://ucla.in/13Juaq3.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Archaeology News: May 30, 2013

Posted On Thursday, May 30, 2013 by Lauren Axelrod | 0 comments

History of Stonea Camp brought to life by archaeologist and storyteller

David Crawford-White, of Oxford Archaeology East, spoke about the history and archaeology of the site, which lies on what was once the border of the Iceni and the Coritani tribes.

Described as the lowest ‘hill’ fort in England, it has been occupied since the Bronze Age and is believed to be the site of a major battle between the conquering Romans and the Iceni tribe, whose queen was named Boudicca.

Archaeologist found after losing his way in Woods

It has been reported that the Vienna archaeologist is safe and sound after he lost his way in the woods. After the 82-year old man was lost in the enigmatic forests, a search party was deployed to find him.

Germans Return Stolen Antiquities to Greece

In the month of June, Greek stolen antiquities that are in Germany will be given back to Greece. About 8,000 pieces of vases dating to the Neolithic age were exported illegally to Germany by a group of foreign archaeologists under the guidance of Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler’s chief ideologist, after an illegal excavation conducted in a region next to the Greek town of Velestino in 1941.

Han Dynasty Tombs Discovered in China

Twenty tombs dating to the Han Dynasty have been found along the Yangtze River, near the Three Gorges Dam. Reports indicate that 430 artifacts, ranging from ceramics to objects made of iron and bronze, were recovered from the tombs by archaeologists from the Chongqing Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

Enigmatic Structure in Sea of Galilee Puzzles Israeli Archaeologists

Israeli archaeologists are scratching their collective heads over the discovery of a behemoth-like conical and circular structure that is located at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee.

The monumental, man-made structure made of boulders and stones was discovered during a routine sonar scan in 2003.

Etowah Indian Mounds to highlight archaeological discoveries Saturday

Opting for modern surveying techniques over trowels and shovels, Adam King and his archaeological teams continue to provide insight into Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site’s illustrious past. Over the past eight years, King — the research associate professor with the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology — has detected significant elements in soil profiles, such as remnants of residential structures or fireplaces.

Rugged African terrain led humans to walk upright

Archaeologists have found that our upright gait may have begun in the rugged landscape of Africa, which was a terrain shaped by volcanoes and shifting tectonic plates.

A new study by University of York challenges evolutionary theories behind the development of our earliest ancestors from tree dwelling quadrupeds to upright bipeds capable of walking and scrambling.

Direct Evidence: Projectiles are at Least 90,000 Years Old

Archaeologist Corey O’Driscoll has developed a method of determining if wounds on bones were made by spears thrown from a distance. Indirect evidence from examining stone point, suggests that humans living in Africa began hurling weapons as early as 500,000 years ago, but this evidence is often disputed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Archaeologists uncover Pagan skeletons at housing development near Stonehenge

Posted On Monday, May 20, 2013 by Lauren Axelrod | 0 comments

Six Pagan Saxon skeletons dating back over 1,000 years have been discovered by archaeologists just a few miles from Stonehenge.

The discoveries, which also include round barrows dating back to the Bronze Age 4,000 years ago, were unearthed at a redundant brownfield development site in Amesbury, Wiltshire, which is also famous for the Amesbury Archer – an early Bronze Age man found buried among arrowheads.

The remains are thought to be those of adolescent to mature males and females. Five skeletons were arrayed around a small circular ditch, with the grave of a sixth skeleton in the centre. Two lots of beads, a shale bracelet and other grave goods were also found, which suggest the findings are Pagan.

The site is now being excavated for other artefacts by Wessex Archaeology, led by Phil Harding, known for his work on Channel 4’s Time Team, while colleagues back at the unit’s laboratory examine the remains and jewellery, which have already been removed.

Phil said: “Given that the Stonehenge area is a well-known prehistoric burial site, it was always very likely some interesting discoveries would be made here. The fact that these round barrows were previously unknown makes this particularly exciting.

“Finding the skeletons also helps us to get a clearer picture of the history of this area. To my knowledge these are the first Pagan Saxon burials to be excavated scientifically in Amesbury. “

Landowner Aster Group is building 14 affordable homes at the redundant brownfield site, which will be available to rent from 2014.

Anna Kear, Aster’s regional development director for Hampshire and Wiltshire, said: “Wiltshire is a treasure trove of archaeology, drawing people from across the world.

"Discovering a burial site in this beautiful county is always a possibility when building affordable homes. We’re working with everyone involved to ensure Phil and his team can investigate this exciting find while the build continues.”

Contractor Mansell, a Balfour Beatty brand, was preparing the site for the build when it made the discovery.

Site manager Brian Whitchurch-Bennett, of Mansell, said: “When we’re working in an area of historical importance we always undertake archaeological investigations to make sure that our construction works don’t damage hidden remains or artefacts. The findings within this particular site really are a one off, we’ve been amazed by the number of discoveries and the level of preservation. It’s certainly a project to remember.”

The archaeologists are expected to be on site for six weeks in total. Footage from the site may also be included in an archaeological production for ITV’s History Channel, due to be aired in January 2014.

[via 24dash]

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