Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Sky Burial in Tibet

Very few westerners have even heard of a sky burial.  Only a handful have ever scene a sky burial site.  The practice of the sky burial is an ancient Buddhist ritual practiced in the remote areas of the Himalaya Mountains in Tibet.

What exactly is a Sky Burial?

It is a burial ritual. The person dies and the body is taken to the ritual site.  There they are laid upon a rock slab and a rope is tied around the neck.  The rope is pulled so that the body is tight.  Once stretched, the back is then slashed with a sharp knife.

The scent of blood and death is picked up upon by the local vultures who descend on the body.  After time what remains of the bones is then crushed into a pulp which is left for the vultures to come back and claim.  That is the practice of the Sky Burial that has been practiced for hundreds of years.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Did humans populate South America ealrier than Clovis Model?

Did early humans populate South America thousands of years earlier than previously thought?  New archaeological work is starting to show that might be the case.  Hidden in the rock shelters where prehistoric humans once lived, the paintings number in the thousands. Some are thought to be more than 9,000 years old and perhaps even far more ancient. Painted in red ocher, they rank among the most revealing testaments anywhere in the Americas to what life was like millenniums before the European conquest began a mere five centuries ago.

But it is what excavators found when they started digging in the shadows of the rock art that is contributing to a pivotal re-evaluation of human history in the hemisphere.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hiram Bingham and the Scientific Discovery of Machu Picchu

When Hiram Bingham III organized the Yale Peruvian Expedition of 1911, he had four objectives: to scale Mount Coropuna, to conduct a geolographic survey along the 73rd meridian, to explore Lake Parinococha, and to discover Vilcabamba "the lost city of the Inca".

These ambitious goals could be contemplated because of financing from his family and Yale classmates, assistance from US companies and political support from the American and Peru governments.  At the behest of Peru's president, Hiram Bingham and his staff were provided with a military escort and with letters of introduction that ensured cooperation in Cusco and in the small villages of the Urabamba River.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stunning Iron Age Jewelry discovered on Zealand

The Danish Island of Zealand was the site of a discovery of 20 wonderful pieces of Iron Age jewelry recently.  The finds date to the Viking period and are made of bronze with some covered in gold foil.

18 of the pieces are of Scandinavian in origin.  The site is named Vesterang and was a farmstead, thus it was a complete surprise to have found such beautiful artifacts at the site.

Archaeologist Ole Kastholm of the Roskilde Museum stated, "My explanation for the richness of finds is that the farmstead was owned by one of the Viking king's retainers.  Furthermore, the site is close to the town of Lejre, which was the capital of Zealand between A.D. 500 and 1000.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Endicott Pear Tree alive and well from Pilgrim times

The old Pilgrim Tree lives on.  Approaching a ridiculous age of 400, the Endicott Pear Tree continues to thrive near Plymouth Rock.  The nations oldest fruit tree.

The story goes that the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Endicott, wanted a welcoming sight for new world settlers as they arrived to the wilds of America. 

In 1632 he planted what would become known as the Endicott Pear Tree.  He is said to have declared at the time: "I hope the tree will love the soil of the old world and no doubt when we have gone the tree will still be alive."  Few would have ever guessed the same tree would still be producing fruit nearly 400 years later.

Yet it is. The Endicott Pear Tree has been cared for since the mid 1700s as locals noted the importance of the pear tree. 

Endicott Pear Tree ~1920

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Using Drones to map archaeological sites

In Peru, home to the spectacular Inca city of Machu Picchu and thousands of ancient ruins, archaeologists are turning to drones to speed up sluggish survey work and protect sites from squatters, builders and miners.
Remote-controlled aircraft were developed for military purposes and are a controversial tool in US anti-terrorism campaigns, but the technology's falling price means it is increasingly used for civilian and commercial projects around the world.
Small drones have been helping a growing number of researchers produce three-dimensional models of Peruvian sites instead of the usual flat maps - and in days and weeks instead of months and years.
Speed is an important ally to archaeologists here. Peru's economy has grown at an average annual clip of 6.5% over the past decade, and development pressures have surpassed looting as the main threat to the country's cultural treasures, according to the government.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Early humans survived on fertile plain in Persian Gulf

New research is suggesting some of the earliest humans could have lived in a a once fertile landmass flooded by the Persian Gulf some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago. At its peak, the floodplain now below the Gulf would have been about the size of Great Britain, and then shrank as water began to flood the area. Then, about 8,000 years ago, the land would have been swallowed up by the Indian Ocean.

The study is detailed in the December issue of the journal Current Anthropology and it has broad implications for aspects of human history. For instance, scientists have debated over when early modern humans exited Africa, with dates as early as 125,000 years ago and as recent as 60,000 years ago, according to study researcher Jeffrey Rose, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.