Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vikings Valued Personal Cleanliness

Historians have studied the 11th century Bayeux Tapestry for details.

Vikings are often thought to be filthy, roughhewn warriors, but the contrary seems to be closer to the truth ~ some were borderline fastidious. 
“Several archaeological finds have revealed tweezers, combs, nail cleaners, ear cleaners and toothpicks from the Viking Age," says Louise Kæmpe Henriksen, a curator at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.
According to
The finds suggest that cleanliness meant a lot to the Vikings. Written sources from medieval England also back up this view. In his chronicle from 1220 – a couple of centuries after the Vikings had ravaged England – John of Wallingford described the Vikings as well-groomed heartbreakers: 
”They had also conquered, or planned to conquer, all the country’s best cities and caused many hardships for the country’s original citizens, for they were – according to their country’s customs – in the habit of combing their hair every day, to bathe every Saturday, to change their clothes frequently and to draw attention to themselves by means of many such frivolous whims. In this way, they sieged the married women’s virtue and persuaded the daughters of even noble men to become their mistresses,” wrote Wallingford.
Cleanliness was one of five discussions has presented to refute the top five popular myths regarding Vikings. Others include that Vikings wore horned helmets, looked like we do today, wore clothing admired throughout the world, and were scarred by battle wounds.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Artifacts Point to Earlier African Stone Age

Archaeologists at Border Cave where the artifacts were found.

 New findings indicate that the late Stone Age in Africa began about 20,000 years earlier than previously thought. Artifacts found in a cave reveal residents were carving bone tools, using pigments, making beads and even using poison 44,000 years ago.
Such artifacts had previously been linked to the San culture, which was thought to have emerged around 20,000 years ago. The Later Stone Age in Africa occurred at the same time as Europe's Upper Paleolithic Period, when modern humans moved into Europe from Africa and met the Neanderthals about 45,000 years ago.
 According to
"Our research proves that the Later Stone Age emerged in South Africa far earlier than has been believed and occurred at about the same time as the arrival of modern humans in Europe,” says researcher Paola Villa of the Colorado Museum of Natural History. "The differences in technology and culture between the two areas are very strong, showing the people of the two regions chose very different paths to the evolution of technology and society."
Traces of civilization have been found going back nearly 80,000 years in Africa, but these fragments — bone tools, carved beads — vanish from the archaeological record by about 60,000 years ago.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

End of Human Nomadic Lifestyle is Explored

Neolithic huts are evident at Turkish site.

Archaeologists in Turkey are studying one of the major transformations in human history ~ the end of the nomadic lifestyle. A team headed by Dr Andrew Fairbairn from the University of Queensland is joining with a British team to continue excavating the 10,000-year-old village known as Boncuklu Höyük. The site is one of the earliest villages from the period when hunter-gatherers ceased their nomadic lifestyle to begin farming.
According to ABC News:
"It's come to be one of the key transformations in human history because, basically, the development of our civilisations is routed in a lot of these social and economic transformations that happened around about this time," Dr Fairbairn told ABC News Online. 
He says the site is one of the earliest found just outside the key Fertile Crescent area of eastern Turkey, Syria and Jordan where it is thought farming first originated. The site is expected to help archaeologists understand how humans adapted to a sedentary lifestyle and how it spread across Europe. 
"This farming lifestyle then spreads around the world - it goes across Europe and it goes across Asia," he said. "And so where Boncuklu is is that sort of first area where you have this spread of this new lifestyle. 
"We've been very interested to find out whether it was, as it's always been suspected, due to farming people moving from this area of origin, the Fertile Crescent ... or whether it was due to the people who already lived there, lay hunter-gatherer societies, actually starting to develop and take up new crops and new ways of life. So Boncuklu is one of those very rare sites that allows us to investigate that time period."
Boncuklu Höyük means "beady mound." It was discovered about a decade ago by the head of the British excavation team, Dr Douglas Baird, who was trying to place the excavation of Çatalhöyük in its regional context and then found Boncuklu, which is 1,000 years older, on the last day of a field survey.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lush Farms Once Surrounded Palmyra

Ruins stand as testimony to Palmyra's ancient grandeur. 

Historical evidence points to ancient Palmyra ~ sitting today in the middle of the infertile Syrian desert ~ as having been a major trading metropolis during the Roman Empire. Once a caravan stop that brought Asian goods west to eager Romans, the site has "always been conceived as an oasis in the middle of the desert, but it's never been quite clear what it was living from," says Michal Gawlikowski of the University of Warsaw.
According to National Geographic:
Among the ruins are grand avenues lined with columns, triumphal arches, and the remains of an ancient market where traders once haggled over silk, silver, spices, and dyes from India and China. 
To find out what made it all possible, archaeologist Jørgen Christian Meyer began a four-year survey of the 40 square miles just north of Palmyra in 2008. The area was targeted for its mountainous terrain, which channels precious rainwater to otherwise dry streambeds—making the region marginally less hostile to agriculture. 
Through ground inspections and satellite images, the archaeologists eventually found outlines of more than 20 farming villages within a few days' walk of the city—adding to about 15 smaller settlements previously uncovered by other researchers to the west of Palmyra.
The surrounding landscape now appears to have been intensively farmed and most likely included olive, fig, and pistachio groves—crops known in the region from Roman accounts and still common in Syria.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Research on Possible Solomon Mine

Aerial view of KEN, with fortress and slag mounds.

Archaeologists will return to a site southeast of the Dead Sea in September to continue investigating one of the largest copper mines of the ancient Middle East. Among other things, they hope to identify the ethnicity of the people who controlled the mines during the 10th century BC.

That’s the period when, based on the Biblical accounts, scholars have traditionally dated the kingdom of Edom, as well as that of David and Solomon of ancient Israel. Khirbat en-Nahas ~ usually shortened to KEN ~ is substantiated as the largest Iron Age (1200 - 500 BC) copper mining and smelting center in the southern Levant.

According to Popular Archaeology:
Recent radiocarbon dating has placed its age indisputably two centuries earlier than scholars had previously thought, pushing back the clock from the long-accepted dates assigned by archaeologists for the center and the kingdom of Edom in which it was located. 
It also places its heyday squarely during the time when ancient Edom and the United Monarchy of Israel under kings David and  Solomon, according to traditional interpretations of the Biblical account, dominated the region.
The significance of the discoveries at KEN fall within the context of a larger debate about chronology and the credibility of traditional interpretations about the existence of the kingdoms of David and Solomon as depicted in the Hebrew Bible.

Click here for the complete article.