Mummified Body Parts Will Be Repatriated

Archaeology News - January 4, 2018

CAIRO, EGYPT—Newsweek reports that American authorities will hand over the head and hands of an ancient mummy to the Egyptian consulate. Egypt passed laws against the sale and export of ancient artifacts in 1912. The head and hands are thought to have been purchased illegally some 90 years ago by an American from a worker on a dig in Luxor before they were documented by archaeologists. The items recently came to light when a dealer in the United States attempted to sell the remains to a buyer in Manhattan. For more, go to “Animal Mummy Coffins of Ancient Egypt.”

Categories: Blog

New Technique Uses Teeth to Determine Age

Archaeology News - January 4, 2018

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA—According to a Radio New Zealand report, Christine Cave of Australian National University has developed a technique to determine how old people were when they died, based upon the wear and tear on their teeth. She said that it is difficult to determine a person’s age after 50 based upon an examination of skeletal remains. “You could have two old people who are the same age, and one is crippled with arthritis and can’t move, while the other runs a marathon every week—so there’s a great variation,” she explained. Cave examined the teeth of more than 300 people who had been buried in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in England between A.D. 475 and 625. She found several who may have lived to be at least 75 years of age, and she suggests that most people who lived so-called traditional lives may have reached the age of 70. The new technique could help scientists better understand what life was like for the elderly in antiquity. For more, go to “The Case of the Missing Incisors.”

Categories: Blog

Scientists Scan Ancient Egyptian Cartonnage

Archaeology News - January 4, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND—A team led by Adam Gibson of University College London has developed a non-destructive scanning technique to read what was written on pieces of papyrus some 2,000 years ago, before it was recycled and made into funeral masks and mummy cases, according to a BBC News report. In the past, objects made of cartonnage would have been taken apart in order to read what had been obscured by paint, plaster, and paste. “They are finite resources and we now have a technology to both preserve those beautiful objects and also look inside them to understand the way Egyptians lived through their documentary evidence—and the things they wrote down and the things that were important to them,” explained Kathryn Piquette of University College London. The new technique revealed the name “Irethorru,” which is translated as “the eye of Horus is against my enemies,” on the footplate of a mummy case housed at Chiddingstone Castle in Kent. The name had previously been invisible to the naked eye. For more, go to “Heart Attack of the Mummies.”

Categories: Blog

45,000-Year-Old Stone Tools Recovered in China

Archaeology News - January 4, 2018

XINJIANG, CHINA—Newsweek reports that archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have recovered some 2,000 artifacts from continuous layers spanning tens of thousands of years in Tongtiandong Cave, which is located in northern China. Some of the artifacts, such as stone tools and the butchered and burned bones of rabbits, sheep, donkeys, rhinoceroses, bears, and birds, are thought to be 45,000 years old. Other artifacts include objects made of iron and bronze, pottery, and millstones for grinding grain. Wheat recovered from the cave has been dated to between 3,500 and 5,000 years ago. It could be some of the first wheat grown in the region. For more, go to “Letter From China: Tomb Raider Chronicles.”

Categories: Blog

Genetic Study Reveals Ancient Native American Population

Archaeology News - January 4, 2018

FAIRBANKS, ALASKA—According to a New York Times report, an international team of scientists has mapped the genome of a six-week-old infant girl who is thought to have belonged to a previously unknown human lineage, dubbed the Ancient Beringians. Her 11,500-year-old remains were discovered at the Upward Sun River archaeological site in central Alaska by Ben A. Potter of the University of Alaska, under the remains of a three-year-old that had been cremated in a hearth. The scientists were not able to recover DNA from these bones, however. The remains of two infants were found in the hearth itself. One set of remains yielded the genome mapped in the new study; only fragments of DNA were recovered from the remains of the other child. While mitochondrial DNA found in each of the infants has been found in living Native Americans, the study suggests the people who lived at Upward Sun River split from the ancestors of the two other known groups of Native Americans some 20,000 years ago. The study also supports the idea that people lingered in Beringia for thousands of years before crossing into North America. To read in-depth about early inhabitants of the Americas, go to “America, in the Beginning.”

Categories: Blog

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