archaeology
subscribe
Special Introductory Offer!
Archaeological Headlines By JESSICA E. SARACENI
Tuesday, March 24

Dugout Canoe Dated in New Hampshire

HOLDERNESS, NEW HAMPSHIRE—The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that a dugout canoe discovered in central New Hampshire’s Squam Lake has been radiocarbon dated to the mid-seventeenth century. Malcolm Taylor of the Holderness Historical Society said the Native American vessel was recovered from 14 feet of water by three fisherman 80 years ago and had been stored in Vermont’s Shelburne Museum until last year, when it was transferred to the Holderness Historical Society. Such canoes were made by burning the surface of a felled tree trunk and scraping away the charred wood with stone tools, then repeating the process. Dugout canoes were eventually replaced by more maneuverable birch bark canoes by the mid-seventeenth century. Further research will identify the species of tree used to make the vessel, Taylor added. To read about a prehistoric Caddo Indian canoe, go to "World Roundup: Louisiana."

19th-Century Kitchen Site Uncovered in Maui

LAHAINA, MAUI—Excavation at the oldest standing home on the Hawaiian island of Maui has uncovered the possible remains of its nineteenth-century kitchen, according to a Maui News report. Now known as the Baldwin Home Museum, the house was built in 1834 out of sand, coral, and lava rock over a timber frame by a physician named the Rev. Dwight Baldwin, who lived there from 1836 to 1868, and is remembered for his work to control a smallpox outbreak in 1853 through the use of quarantine and vaccination. The kitchen was constructed out of adobe bricks on a stone foundation as an outbuilding. Director of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation Theo Morrison said that food prepared in the kitchen would have fed as many as 20 people per day, including the family’s six children, visitors, sea captains, missionaries, and travelers. The archaeologists have unearthed shells of the opihi, a type of edible limpet or aquatic snail; clam shells; animal bones; pieces of porcelain; and a bone button dated to the mid-nineteenth century, Morrison added. The researchers have also found evidence of a fire pit in the backyard that may have been used for cooking and washing. For more on archaeology in Hawaii, go to "Letter from Hawaii: Ballad of the Paniolo."

Tests Could Reveal Age of England’s Cerne Abbas Giant

DORSET, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that Phillip Toms of the University of Gloucestershire will test soil samples collected from the elbows and feet of the Cerne Abbas Giant, a figure carved into a chalk hillside in southwest England, with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). The technique determines when minerals in the soil were last exposed to sunlight, according to archaeologist Martin Papworth of England’s National Trust. “It is likely that the tests will give us a date range, rather than a specific age, but we hope they will help us better understand, and care for, this famous landmark,” Papworth said. The Cerne Abbas Giant was first recorded in 1694, but researchers do not know if was created at that time or in antiquity. To read about another chalk geoglyph in southern England, go to "White Horse of the Sun."

Direct Dating of New York Settlements Offers New Timeline

ITHACA, NEW YORK—According to a report in the Olean Times Herald, Sturt Manning of Cornell University and John Hart of the New York State Museum have obtained new radiocarbon dates from Native American sites in upstate New York and created a new timeline for the occupation of the Mohawk and Hudson River Valley regions at the time of European contact. Because Europeans traveled by river from the coast into New York in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, timelines for Native American settlement of these areas had relied upon the arrival of European goods such as metal items and glass beads. But Manning noted that not all Native American groups accepted contact or goods from Europeans. The researchers thus analyzed metal goods from the settlements with portable X-ray fluorescence to see if they may have been crafted from local materials, collected new radiocarbon dates of organic materials such as maize kernels, and conducted a statistical analysis of archaeological and historical information. The results of the study suggest that the shift to larger, fortified communities at some Iroquoian sites did not occur in the mid-fifteenth century, as previously thought, but between the mid-sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries. To read about a site that was once home to eastern Native American tribes that might have included the Iroquois, go to "Letter from Philadelphia: City Garden."

Monday, March 23

Submarine Wreckage Detected Off Hawaiian Island of Oahu

OAHU, HAWAII—Live Science reports that a private group of researchers led by Tim Taylor, founder of the Lost 52 Project, has discovered the wreckage of the USS Stickleback, which sank on May 28, 1958, after an accidental collision with destroyer escort USS Silverstein during a Cold War-era antisubmarine warfare exercise. All of the sailors aboard the vessel were rescued, but Navy ships were not able to keep the damaged submarine afloat. The search for the vessel started with a review of the historical record. “Sometimes those positions aren’t entirely accurate … especially when things are happening rapidly, people can make mistakes with numbers,” explained Robert Neyland of the Naval History and Heritage Command of the U.S. Navy. The submarine was found under some 11,000 feet of water in two main pieces lying almost 1,000 feet apart from each other about 19 miles from the southern coast of Oahu, near the location of the collision. Neyland said such great depth preserved the vessel’s painted name and hull numbers. To read about the underwater archaeology of the attack on Pearl Harbor, go to "December 7, 1941."

Traces of Buddhist Monastery Discovered in Bangladesh

JESSORE, BANGLADESH—The Dhaka Tribune reports that a Buddhist monastery temple complex has been discovered in southwestern Bangladesh by researchers from the regional archaeology departments of Khulna and Barisal. The temple complex includes two temples, courtyards, and 18 rooms with unusually thick walls where monks are thought to have lived between the ninth and mid-eleventh centuries. Remains of another temple are thought to have been lost to more recent construction. “After excavating the site, we have found fragments of ornamented bricks, terracotta plaques, and clay pots,” said research assistant Urmila Hasnat. “The fragments of terracotta bricks and plaques have engravings of lotus flowers and geometric shapes.” Traces of stucco decorated with flowers and geometric shapes were also recovered, in addition to a type of clay pot only found in Buddhist monasteries dating to between the seventh and eleventh centuries, she added. To read about the excavation of a possible Buddhist monastery in India, go to "Early Buddhism in India."

Friday, March 20

Study Examines Food and Gender in Bronze Age China

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND—According to an Otago Daily Times report, an analysis of isotopes in teeth suggests that boys and girls living in China’s Central Plains during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty some 2,500 years ago were fed different foods. In analyzing remains from burials at the sites of Xiyasi and Changxinyuan, bioarchaeologist Melanie Miller and her colleagues found that children were breastfed until they were between the ages of two-and-a-half and four years old, when they were weaned onto foods made from wheat and soybeans. The girls, however, were weaned slightly earlier than the males, Miller said. Females continued to eat more wheat and soy as they grew up, while males ate more millet, she added. Miller and her team think these dietary differences could reflect the social inequality that emerged in China's Bronze Age. Read the original scholarly article about this research in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. To read about hominin teeth that belonged to individuals living at least 80,000 years ago in southern China, go to "An Opportunity for Early Humans in China."

Archaeologist Creates 3-D Blueprints of Historic Yukon Structures

YUKON, CANADA—CBC News reports that archaeologist Peter Dawson of the University of Calgary and his colleagues are using a drone and a terrestrial laser scanner to create 3-D replicas of historic sites at Pauline Cove, which is located on Herschel Island, in the Beaufort Sea off Yukon’s northern coast. The sites are in danger of being destroyed by wild animals, polar tourism, and erosion. The island has lost about 65 feet of coastline in the past 20 years, Dawson explained. The sites include structures built by Inuvialuit, American whalers, Anglican missionaries, and the Northwest Mounted Police, he added. “It’s giving us a really, really good record of the outside of the buildings and the inside of the buildings and an overview of the historic settlement area,” Barbara Hogan, manager of historic sites for Yukon Tourism and Culture, said of the project. When completed, the images will be stored in an online archive with historic information for public use. To read about a 900-year-old barbed arrow point recovered from the ice in southern Yukon, go to "Time's Arrow."

Neolithic Artifacts Unearthed in Slovakia

TRNAVA, SLOVAKIA—According to a report in The Slovak Spectator, decorated ceramics, tools made of antler, and stone tool fragments made by members of the Lengyel culture have been unearthed in western Slovakia by a team led by archaeologist Andrej Žitňan. The artifacts, estimated to be more than 6,000 years old, were excavated near a medieval fortification wall in the town of Trnava. “Its existence until these days is a matter of lucky circumstances because it was preserved in the narrow area between the wall and the filled town ditch,” said Peter Grznár of the local Regional Monument Board. The town is also known for Neolithic figurines called the Trvana Venuses, which have been dated to about 6,700 years ago. Žitňan said the new discovery suggests the Neolithic settlement that once stood on the site was larger than previously thought. To read about a cache of Roman-era artifacts uncovered near Bratislava, go to "World Roundup: Slovakia."

Advertisement