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.

The Inca Empire - Uniting the Andes

In establishing their state (Tahuantinsuyu or "land of the four quarters") the Inca refined borrowed institutions and technology to create an empire of a size previously unimaginable in the Andes region.

Never before had a government ruled so much territory, such a variety of environments, so many people, or such a diversity of ethnic groups.  To bring a measure of unity to this vast realm required administrative and organizational genius.

The Inca took existing roads and joined them to create an intricate highway system.  They carefully counted their millions of subjects and made sure that each labored for the state and that products of those labors were correctly distributed or stored away.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Machu Picchu - An Inca City of the Sun

When famed explorer Hiram Bingham first saw the overgrown ruins of the "lost city" of Machu Picchu in 1911 Peru he was stunned by the huge size of its stone blocks and the masterful way they were fitted together.

"It seemed like an unbelievable dream," he later wrote.  "What could this place be?  Why had no one given us any idea of it?"

After a century of study, experts now agree that Machu Picchu was one of a series of royal estates built in the Urubamba Valley on the Inca's eastern frontier.  The valley, which lies at a lower, warmer altitude than the Inca capitol of Cusco, provided an escape from the Andean winters.

Climate Change and the Sahara Desert

There has not been an area much more drastically affected by climate change other than the Sahara Desert in Africa. The huge desert's sudden geographical transformation centuries ago was one of the planet's most dramatic climate shifts. You see, 5,000 years ago the area that is now the vast Sahara Desert was a vast land of grasslands and lakes with hippos, lions and giraffes.

A new study shows that the transformation was immediate and took place nearly simultaneously across the continent's northern half. The results will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Inca and Chimu - Imperial Rivals

We are discussing the The Chimu and Inca Empires of Peru.  The two cultures were rivals in the 12th - 15th centuries.  The Chimu was a coastal empire that rose on the ruins of the Moche kingdom.  They rose to power through warfare and grew wealthy from tribute and trade.

Though a culture based on agriculture, the Chimú had skilled artisans who created ceramics, wove baskets and particularly textiles, but most of all, developed metallurgy. Artisans worked the most with gold and silver, and the nobility accumulated large quantities of gold and silver, as well as other other Chimú products in the capital of Chan-Chan in the Moche Valley. Chimú workers built buildings primarily out of adobe and decorated them with bas-relief and stucco.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New group of Pyramids discovered at Sedeinga

A small gravesite in the ancient kingdom of Kush has been recently discovered.  Kush was a flourishing kingdom 3,000 years ago located in what today is Sudan.  It shared a border with powerful Egypt and trading between the two was very common.  The pyramid influence is evident.

The sight has been named Sedeinga and contains 35 pyramid-like sites along with graves.  Studies are ongoing to determine if they 35 clustered remains are actually pyramid like tributes or actually homesites.  The pyramids are densely packed together. According to researchers, the biggest pyramids discovered at Sedeinga are about seven meters wide at their base. The smallest, likely constructed for the burial of a child, is only ¾ of a meter long.

Kush was a dominant kingdom when Egpyt weakened during the Second Intermediate Period (~1650 BCE), but was pushed aside when Egypt was reunited by the 18th Dynasty.  Kush has also been known as Nubia (Land of Gold).